Monday, 21 January 2013

The frog who turned into some prints

Just before Christmas I became aware that my daughters friend Alice was about to celebrate her 18th. Alice is a rare type of teenager; when she comes over for supper she ends up making me a cup of tea (after apologising for existing generally), frequently offers me petrol money for giving her a lift somewhere I was already going and is pleasant to talk to. Of course many teenagers behave this way to other people's parents, and we all know it is a sign that they are not to be trusted in ANY way, you can see through it a mile off. But Alice is just nice. To everyone. Most importantly of all she helped me with my kung fu grading exam, and if it weren't for her then my own resident teen would do no school work whatsoever and be even more disorganised and random than she already is.

So it was clear, Alice needed a gift. Now like me, Alice loves frogs, and she keeps several pet ones. I can no longer encourage frogs into the garden due to our resident feline serial killer. Who incidentally has decided that the cupboard where I neatly store my dressmaking patterns and books is a good place to sleep. There is no room in there but he doesn't care, trampling my patterns with his muddy paws, and sometimes chewing the corners for added fun.

 Gimlet in the sewing patterns cupboard!

I had wanted to paint a frog for some time, so after consulting a few different wildlife books, I came up with a design. The frog was painted in a combination of watercolour and gouache, and then I had the original scanned for prints. The teen wandered into the studio several times that week and I hid the picture. "What are you working on?" she said. "Secret stuff" I replied. The teen cannot keep a secret. Not if she tries, not for money, not even for chocolate. She simply cannot help herself. There are advantages to this of course, because a little interrogation will get anything out of her. Not for her the sullen, secretive, tell the parents nothing approach....

Anyhow, the frog painting was kept a secret, and the first print (I needed the original for exhibiting) was signed, mounted and wrapped for Alice. "What is it?" said the teen, furious that I wouldn't tell, as I gave it to her to take to Alice's party. "It's a calendar," I said, keeping my face deadpan, "Architecture of west Suffolk churches". "Ha!" said the teen, not believing a word.

I am pleased to report Alice was delighted with her present!
In more recent news... today's weather:
The studio in the snow.
Of course, snow is pretty, and it has covered up all the dead animals Gimlet has strewn about the garden, but on balance I would prefer to be without it. 
Living at the top of a hill, on an estate where they don't grit all the roads, taking my little pink Corsa down the hill would be easy, getting back up far less certain. I can't get to kung fu or swimming, visits from friends and private students, have been cancelled, as was my Saturday Art Class. I dislike winter at the best of times, but now it is becoming a real pain:
Come back summer all is forgiven!



  1. Such a great story, and such a great painting! I'm pleased Alice liked it too - she sounds a star.

    Very snowy with me too - despite the cold and inconvenience, I kind of still love it!

  2. Love the frog, and I'm with you about the snow - I also live at the end of a road up a hill

    1. Yes, and when you go down the hill, you wonder if the brakes will actually stop you!

  3. The frog is beautiful -lucky alice. I'm always amazed by your art and your writing is always a pleasure to read.

  4. I think the answer to your wondering about the brakes is a definite 'maybe', Michele!

    I like frogs too - in theory if not in reality! And they can be fun to paint. I once set about illustrating a poem I had written for my literacy pupils and bought coloured plasticine to make a model frog so that I could draw him in all the necessary positions! (Then I discovered Greeting Card Universe and the frog turned into various greeting cards!)

    It's a funny thing about teenagers! My eldest grandson will soon be old enough to get married and he's lovely to me, absolutely charming! He even claimed on the phone that he was looking forward to coming to Wales for Christmas! But my daughter (his mother) says he's like Harry Enfield's 'Kevin' at home - I can't imagine it!

    1. Ah but Judy, grandparents always behave much nicer than they did with their own children. My own mother scolded me for allowing the teen to walk home from school via main roads in the dark at 4pm. This is the same woman who used to happily let me walk back from my friends house in the next village (secluded country lanes) at 10pm... It is shocking, the injustice of it all :-)

      Our favorite Kevin clip is the one where they ask him to wash the car for a fiver and he takes an entire day... so true!