Patsy Whiting - fine art

 
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Patsy blog


4th June2019
Completed today.

Sisters

8th May2019
Apologies for neglect. A new cycle of work is developing. Example below.

Post digital

5th February2019
Gallery Different,are opening the Kiss Exhibition today. I am showing "Kiss me" and its preliminary study alongside "Lost rose" and "Petals and metal." The show runs until March 5th.

Kiss me

4th February2019
Mall Galleries are opening the Pastel Society Exhibition today which runs until 16th February. As always they are showing some amazingly beautiful pieces in a wide variety of styles. Soraya French, President of the Society of Women Artists, is also included in the exhibition.

Power struggle

11th January2019
Mall Galleries requested to use "Power struggle" image on greetings card. Happily gave permission. Exhibiting at Loughborough Town Hall with artist friends in Artspace "Inside/Outside" exhibition.

Artspace exhibition

08th January2019
Entry to Pastel Open accepted!

Power struggle

12th December2018
Found a collage print from 1970s.

Landscape

8th November 2018
On the very last minute I entered my unfinished work "Power struggle" for the Pastel Society Open Exhibition. It has lain neglected due to ill health. Perhaps its status willl be very obvious and it willl be rejected but I thought it worth a try.

Power struggle

24th September 2018
This week I am showing work in Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries and in Gallery Different's show "Muse model or mistress?" which is about the women in Picasso's life. I have also been invited to join in a Still Life Exhibition at G&C Galleries in Tunbridge Wells. They are using "Roses jugs and drill" in their publicity.

Roses jugs and drill

30thJuly 2018
Last year I bought a book on coloured pencil technique by Bernard Poulin "The complete coloured pencil book" which I found really hit the spot so I wrote to the author thinking he should know his book was well received. I never considered that I would get a reply but just did! Mr Poulin said ...If I have not written to you in response to your note of 2017. . . . . I am a TOTAL idiot! My apologies!!! It is both inconceivable and unforgivable to have not responded to such a warm note. That being said, after visiting your site I can definitely affirm that you DO NOT need my book!!! (though I am happy you purchased it). Your work is mesmerizing. Wish I was that good! Again, apologies. Sincerely Bernard Poulin. I could not resist blogging about such a compliment. Many thanks but I do still need the book and started reading it again today and arrived at my studio very late in consequence.

21st July 2018
I am thrilled that Wing Art Gallery on the High Street in Wadhurst, Kent, are showing two of my drawings. You can see below that Dani Humberstone, who runs the gallery, has displayed "Rust and roses" in the window.

Rust and roses in Wing gallery

6thJuly 2018
"Lily" and "Figure by a bay window" should soon be appearing on the Mall Galleries web site. I can hardly believe they are now ten years old and date from the period when I first had the time to draw all day.

Lily

4th July
It will soon be time for Tom from Picture Post to collect my entry for the Society of Women Artists' 157th annual summer exhibition 25th - 30th September 2018. My work is on slightly smaller scale than usual which may make it easier to fit into a domestic interior.

Entry for the Society of Women Artists' summer exhibition shown below.

Lost rose Clematis and tools
Garage stuff Rose buddies

4th July 2018
These two drawings are waiting for me to resume work.

Unfinished Power struggle Barely started Fading cosmos

3rd July 2018
Recently Gallery Different, located in the heart of Fitzrovia at 14 Percy Street London W1T 1DR, invited me to show some work in a forthcoming exhibition entitled Muse, Model or Mistress? I have sent some images, one shown below, and wait to hear which is selected in a couple of weeks.

Student doctor

30th June 2018
Good news today. "Clematis leaves and tools" has been sold. It is currently in the New Light exhibition at Bankside Gallery next to Tate Modern. Here it is, photos courtesy of Al and Saori who saw that welcome red dot today.

Clematis leaves and tools sold at Bankside Al at Bankside Gallery with Clematis leaves and tools

19th June 2018
Too busy to blog in recent weeks but back again now. Dani Humberstone who paints glorious rich still lives and runs Wing Art Gallery in Wadhurst TN5 6AA has suggested I show some work there. I shall be sending "Rust and roses" and "Rose and carburettor".

Rust and roses

"Clematis leaves and tools" is still on tour with the New Light Prize Exhibition (shining a light on Northern art.) It opens at Bankside Gallery (next to Tate Modern) 6-9pm Tuesday 26th June 2018. The exhibition runs until 1st July.

Bankside invitation to New Light exhibition

Had a message today from Lucie Chapman who manages the Sock Gallery in Loughborough Town Hall. Lucie was requesting permission to use one of my images for their brochure so naturally I am delighted. I also hope to show some work at the Sock alongside local artists, Artspace, in the new year.

28th March 2018
Julie Bennett designed a lovely ad for SWA catalogue 2018 using "Rose buddies". I mocked up how it might appear using the catalogue from 2014, a good year as all work sold.

Rosebuddies ad 2018

1st March 2018
"Petals and metal" is being shown in Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open All Media exhibition which opens today and concludes on the last day of March. The beautiful RBSA Gallery is at 4 Brook Street in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham B3 1SA

Petals and metal

"Clematis leaves and tools" is touring from Durham to Huddersfield Gallery in the New Light exhibition celebrating the work of Northern artists (I am from Bolton). The exhibition opens on 10th March 2018.

Clematis leaves  and tools

22nd February 2018
Two drawings at the Pastel Society Open Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, "Roses jugs and drill" and "Rose buddies".

Drawings at Pastel Society 2018

10th January 2018
Delighted to say that I have had two drawings accepted for the Pastel Society Open Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, "Roses jugs and drill" and "Rose buddies". The exhibition runs from 20th February until 3rd March. For further information see www.mallgalleries.org.uk.

Roses jugs and drill Rose buddies

18th November 2017
"When machines take over" has scooped a prize for Drawing in the National Open Art Competition. The prize is generously sponsored by the Arts Club 40 Dover Street Mayfair London.

"Clematis and tools" won the Creative Leicestershire Prize at the Rutland Open Art Exhibition and I have been writing about my drawing.

Drawing roses, old cans and other stuff
I draw still life in coloured pencil on a rough black pastel ground. The theme which obsesses me was triggered several years ago by a birthday present of Avalanche roses and an antique milk pail. I just had to draw them. Soon I was contrasting flower forms with rusty old oil cans and carburettors, forms which had autobiographical significance for me. My Dad grew roses and I always helped out in his garage business as a teenager. Carburettors were quite often on the drawing agenda in college too.

Prior to this I had been devoted to making highly stylised compositions of figures, mostly from imagination with nods to the great masters of the early Twentieth Century, such as Picasso. Later these figures inhabited interiors and landscapes with elements of heavy industry such as cooling towers, ducting and pipes. Gradually the stylisation gave way to increasing realism as I struggled make the figures authentic. I attended a life class to aid the transition but also started using reference photos instead of preparatory drawings.

I continued to experiment taking shots of roses contrasted with tools, tin jugs and rusty old cans in dramatic lighting. It takes thirty pictures or more to achieve a composition that makes sense to me. I then crop and process the photo and print out a large copy. This provides the basis for the final work though inevitably editing occurs as the drawing progresses.

Until recently I had never read anything much about coloured pencil technique and have no special way of applying the medium other than frequent sharpening of pencils and obeying the rule of observing the subject for longer than I spend drawing. My main inspiration came from Seurat whose use of a fatty Conte crayon on thick textured rag paper (Michallet) is so beautifully described by John Russell in his book about the artist (Thames and Hudson 1965). The crayon is stroked across the paper and just catches the tiny hooks in the paper leaving "the valleys between them untouched. As a result his greys are truly three dimensional with the white showing between touches of dark ..". Earlier in the paragraph Russell says this method gives the artist a vast tonal range from "brilliant velvety blacks" to a white that is "furiously white". Seurat's drawing taught me to draw without relying on the use of line, so that form emerges naturally from concentrating on the play of light rather than edges.

I wondered earlier this year when I tried using different flowers in my compositions whether I was reaching the end of this infatuation with drawing roses. However the sculptural qualities of their various forms still captivate me and I am determined to develop their portrayal further, particularly now as our latest family member has been named Rose.

10th November 2017
Today I heard that "Roses jugs and drill", "Rose buddies" and "Lost rose" have been preselected for the Pastel Society Open Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in January. The work still has to be judged "in the flesh" so there are no guarantees it will be included in the final selection but here's hoping. "Jugs and roses" did OK last year and was awarded the Derwent Visitors' Choice Award.

26th October 2017
"Lost rose" completed recently and photographed today.

Lost Rose after Tretchikoff

27th September 2017
"Lost rose" is presenting some unique challenges, due in part I think, to changes in my perception as I gain experience. The detail is complex and hard to follow but there is no way of glossing over any aspect without compromising the sense of form. Any shorthand reduction would appear to deny the proper shape of the rose.

7th September 2017
Started "Lost rose", a nod to Tretchikoff's painting. Does anyone remember Vladimir Tretchikoff? I recall in the 1950s staring at "The Lost Orchid" (1948) on the chimney breast wall at my aunt and uncle's house. They were young and newlywed living in a little cottage in Halliwell Bolton. They had exciting mod cons of the time like Formica kitchen tops and a lava lamp. I expect they would have bought their Tretchikoff reproduction downstairs in the local Boots in preference to the portraits of ladies with green or blue faces that were so popular then.

30th August 2017
"When machines take over" has been selected to be shown in the National Open Art exhibition at the Bargehouse Oxo Tower Wharf London SE1 9PH 17th-26th November.

When machines take over

22nd August 2017
"Rose buddies" completed.

Roses buddies

5th August 2017
"Rust and roses" is currently on show in the Sock Gallery Summer Exhibition at Loughborough Town Hall.

Patsy Whiting 2017

17th July 2017
The Society of Women Artists' Annual Exhbition was reviewed recently by Natalie Holland, a Russian artist who took part in the show. She made favourable comment on my "Garage shelf" drawing (scroll down to near the end). Review of SWA exhibition at Mall Galleries.

This week I entered works for two open exhibitions. "Roses and Shell can", "Petals and metal" and and "Clematis leaves and tools" were entered for New Light which aims to promote the work of Northern artists. I qualify for this label as I was born and educated in Bolton. "When machines take over" and "Roses jugs and drill" were entered for the National Open Art Competition, a not for profit organisation engaged in supporting artists. As always there are no guarantees of success so it is just a question of waiting to see whether any of my entries catches a judge's eye.

12th July 2017
"Roses jugs and drill" completed.

Roses jugs and drill

8th June 2017
Election day today and also a Champagne Private View at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery where "Clematis and tools" will be shown in their Not the Royal Academy show (runs until 19th August). Unfortunately I cannot attend though I feel this may be an advantage as regards selling work. I think it better to let buyers dream up their own ideas about who the artist is and what a painting signifies. After all, part of the fun of buying a painting must surely be in giving it your own interpretation rather than listening to an artist relating some wearying story of their own which may or may not enhance the joy in such a purchase. Yes, the more I consider it the more certain I am that blathering on about a painting's meaning will definitely detract from its perceived worth and that less is clearly more! And to think that as a student my gravest worry was that I could not talk about my painting! I have always felt this was a fault on my part and have striven over the years to correct it, thinking that if I could somehow plug the gaps in my knowledge of art history, and understand more about other artists, I would have the tools needed to fix my deficit. Today's ponderings seem to be a much happier conclusion to this small matter which is in any case so unimportant in the wider world.

8th May 2017
Yesterday I went to London to assist with the selection of work for the Society of Women Artists' summer exhibition at the Mall Galleries. There is some excellent work both from Members and Non Members but my favourite is a magnificent painting of "Der Tod und das Madchen" by Rebecca Fontaine Wolf. (This can be seen on the exhibition flyer.) I will not even attempt to describe this painting, as words would give little clue to its powerful impact, and I cannot wait to see it properly hung in the context of these beautiful galleries. I am sure it will captivate visitors.

My entry for the Society of Women Artists' summer exhibition is shown below.

Garage shelf When machines take over
Petals and metal Clematis leaves and tools

"Clematis and tools" will be shown in the Not The Royal Academy 2017 Exhibition June 13th - August 19th at Llewellyn Alexander Fine Paintings 124-126 The Cut Waterloo London SE1 8LN (opposite the Old Vic Theatre) Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-7.30pm.

21st March 2017
"When machines take over" completed yesterday.

When machines take over

15th March 2017
More welcome news received yesterday, this time from Viv Astling, sculptor belonging to the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists. Viv called to say that my entry for the RBSA Open All Media Exhibition (namely "Rust and Roses", "Roses and Shell can" and "Propulsion") had been Highly Commended by the judges. The Private View will be held today 6-8pm at the RBSA Gallery 4 Brook Street St Paul's Birmingham B3 1SA. The exhibition runs from 16th March to Saturday 8th April.

9th March 2017
Received some good news today from John Watkins of Derwent, namely that "Jugs and roses" won the Pastel Society Visitors' choice award!

Jugs and roses

3rd February 2017
"Garage stuff" completed yesterday.

Garage stuff

18th January 2017
Sadly I missed visiting London Art Fair today with Jo Sheppard, Susan West and Anna Michalska, friends and fellow artists. Jo sent me a wonderful still life, knowing it was right up my street.

Susan and Anna at London Art Fair

11th January 2017
I am delighted to say that "Jugs and roses" and "Rose and carburettor" have been accepted for the Pastel Society Open Exhibition which opens to the public at the Mall Galleries London on 21st February 2017 and runs until 4th March.

Jugs and roses Rose and carburettor

Completed "Clematis and tools" and in a fit of optimism entered it for the RA Summer exhibition.

Clematis and tools

21st November 2016
Yesterday I raced to the end of "Clematis leaves and tools". For the first three weeks I was convinced I should abandon this drawing but eventually the rhythms of the forms took shape so I pressed on. It is strange to exclude roses from the composition but it seems important to break new ground, contrasting a ragged Rosemoor clematis with metal objects. I heard on 13th November that three drawings had been preselected for the annual Pastel Society exhibition. However there is still another round of judging so who knows whether they will be accepted?

Clematis leaves and tools

2nd October 2016
After a long battle I finally completed my bucket of roses.

Petals and metal

24th August 2016
Detail from current work shown below.

Bucket of roses detail

6th August 2016
A pleasant surprise! "Jugs and roses" was runner up for the prize at the Sock Gallery Open Exhibition in Loughborough Town Hall.

Jugs and roses at Sock Gallery

26th July 2016
Worked with other artists at Mall Galleries today preparing for Society of Women Artists' annual exhibition which opens tomorrow. My rose drawings had a nice position on the back wall of the main gallery either side of Rebecca Fontaine Wolfe's large painting of a mother and child.

SWA exhibition 2016 set up

1st July 2016
"Rose and carburettor" completed yesterday, a smaller composition than usual but with its own special challenges, namely the carburetttor ports. One is extremely foreshortened and one has incredibly sharp highlights and subtle traces of fine machining which are easy to overdo. The surface has oxidised too and is harder to render than highlights on smooth metal which give clear indicators of the underlying form. It is a classic mini carburettor, of which there seem to be hundreds of different designs, judging from a few Ebay searches. Before buying my first carburettor I imagined they would be scarce as a consequence of fuel injection technology, but no such thing. A collector could be kept fascinated for years. I still am with my very small collection of three!

Rose and carburettor

13th June 2016
Finally back at the drawing board after an enforced absence occasioned by a fractured kneecap, ouch! However, life goes on and "Garage Shelf" has been included in the last session of the New Light Exhibition to be shown at Panter and Hall Gallery on Pall Mall from 27th June to 1st July. It is a very short exhibition but the work can be seen on line. New Light Exhibition at Panter and Hall.

"Rust and roses" and "Roses and Shell can" will be shown at the 155th annual exhibition of the Society of Women Artists in the beautifully refurbished Mall Galleries from 28th July to 7th August. Daphne Todd OBE PPRP NEAC HSWA FRSA will be opening the Private View on the 27th July.

"Jugs and roses" has been entered for the third Derwent Art Prize Exhibition so I wait to hear whether it has been accepted or not.

3rd May 2016
Work on hold as fractured kneecap and am in plaster.

1st May 2016
Jugs and roses complete.

Jugs and roses

19th February 2016
Roses and Shell can completed yesterday.

Roses and Shell can

23rd January 2016
Progress to date.

Progress roses and Shell can

20th January 2016
A superb day visiting the London Art Fair with artist friends, Jo Sheppard and Anna Michalska, shown below. It passed all too quickly and we could have easily spent another day soaking up the work. However we saw the work of some giants alongside the varying talents of other contemporary artists. I keep looking at my snapshots of a Dod Procter portrait and a drawing by Barbara Hepworth, beautiful!

Jo at London Art Fair 2016 Jo and Anna at London Art Fair 2016

12th January 2016
Started new work, three roses with a 1920's Shell oil can.

Detail roses and Shell can

12th December 2015
"Garage shelf" completed today.

Garage shelf

3rd November 2015
"Rust and roses" completed just this morning.

Rust and roses

28th October 2015
Last Friday evening I attended the preview of The National Open Art competition at the Royal College of Art where I received the Towry sponsored Heart of England Regional Award for "Work life balance". It was presented by Bryan Holmes. Thank you very much Bryan and Towry.

Yesterday Carina Parkes kindly emailed this photo accompanied by a very encouraging quote from Shirley Pace. Many thanks Shirley and Carina.

Dear Patsy
Please find below photo as promised from NOA award ceremony last Friday. Also a quote from my mother (Shirley Pace - Sculptor) for your website - "This picture is exceptional, such beauty - my favourite of the exhibition".
All the best
Carina Parkes - Photographer

Patsy Whiting at NOA

23rd October 2015
"Work life balance" has won the Heart of England Regional Award in the National Open Art Competition (NOA 2015) Exhibition at the Royal College of Art, London. Even more exciting, I received an email from the Chairman of NOA Neil Lawson Baker telling me that Ronnie Wood loved my work! Here he is at the Private View on Wednesday.

Ronnie Wood at NOA

2nd September 2015
I am delighted to say that "Work life balance" has been selected for the National Open Art Competition (NOA 2015) Exhibition at the Royal College of Art, London, from 21st October to 1st November. There will be an artists' preview on Friday 23rd October which I hope to attend.

More good news, in that "Rose hammer scissors" has been included in the New Light Exhibition which opens at Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, on 16th October and runs there until 7th February 2016. The exhibition moves to the Mercer Gallery, Harrogate on 16th February until July 2016 when some of the work will be exhibited at Panter and Hall, London.

20th August 2015
"Rosebuds and oil can" finished this afternoon.

Rosebuds and oil can

4th August 2015
"Work life balance" and "Garden garage marriage" shortlisted for 2015 Stage 2 judging of National Open Art Competition.

22nd July 2015
New work underway, "Rosebuds and oilcan". Shapes and surface texture are novel so new strategies required to match.

7th July 2015
"Work life balance" just completed.

Work life balance

22nd June 2015
Detail from current work shown below.

Roses carburettor and screwdriver detail

17th June 2015
Detail from current work shown below. It features two Avalanche roses balanced on a screwdriver which is balanced on a carburettor. This helped find its title "Work life balance".

Roses carburettor and screwdriver detail

12th June 2015
Katherine Tyrrell of Makingamark Blogspot fame reviewed the Society of Women Artists' Annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries Katherine's review of the SWA exhibition. Katherine commented "I loved Patsy Whiting's still life drawings in 'crayon'. I've seen her work before and it always has my nose up to the artwork teasing out how she gets the very nice combination of colour and light while working with a black background."

10th June 2015
Currently showing two drawings ("Roses in a brown jug" and "Propulsion") in the Mall Galleries, the annual summer exhibition of the society of Women Artists. The exhibition runs until Saturday 13th June.

SWA Annual Exhibition 2015

9th June 2015
Recent work rendering metal.

Roses carburettor and screwdriver detail

26th May 2015
Slow progress on screwdriver handle.

Roses carburettor and screwdriver detail

22nd May 2015
New work underway, a composition with roses, a carburettor and yet another paint splashed, ancient screwdriver. Jackson Pollack might have liked our time served screwdriver as much as I do.

28th April 2015
"Roses and butterfly" completed today and framed. Am now hunting down elements for the next lot of work.

Roses and butterfly

26th March 2015
"Roses and butterfly" was started a couple of weeks ago so progress is slow, only one in three of the blooms complete. The butterfly in the title is not one of the winged variety but refers instead to the butterfly valve in the carburettor (not shown on detail below but just about visible on Studio page).

Roses and butterfly

2nd March 2015
Drawing of a rose nestling up to a carburettor eventually reached the finishing line with a new title "Propulsion".

Propulsion

5th February 2015

Marriage detail

Slow progress as usual. Forms contrast yet echo each other with their hollows and projections. Received email from a person interested in my work, a gallery in Sussex, Tint-Art, who are currently showing an exhibition at the Mall entitled "Good Figures", an exhibition of the female form depicted by 30 contemporary artists. The catalogue I saw as a pdf is beautiful.

28th January 2015

Marriage detail

Planning new work alongside current project (detail shown above) so bought some glorious peachy South African blooms from Charlotte at Denise's Flowers in Ward's End, Loughborough. Cannot wait to start posing them with contrastingly distressed and shabby forms. Think I shall wait until they are more open and sumptuous but showing signs of wear.

22nd January 2015
Enjoyed a brilliant day at London Art Fair with artist friends, Jo Sheppard, Susan West and Anna Michalska, shown below.

Susan at London Art Fair 2015 Jo and Anna at London Art Fair 2015

21st January 2015
Started a new piece of work yesterday on my current theme, contrasting organic and inorganic form, a rose and a carburettor. The rose actually looks like a propeller or a section from a pump. Tomorrow I am looking forward to visiting London Art Fair with fellow artists again, Jo Sheppard, Susan West and Anna Michalska. It is always good to hear their comments on other artists' work.

15th January 2015
After moving house a few days before Christmas I completed "Together" yesterday. This must be the most interrupted piece of work I have ever done but I now have a real studio instead of a tiny bedroom with a skylight.

Together

3rd November 2014
Finally started a new piece of work, two mauve roses arranged with some hefty old pliers and and my trusty rusty oil can.

1st October 2014
How I hate the void that appears when a work is finished! I am busy filling the gap with preparations for new studies and have been hunting down flowers this morning and yesterday with only marginal success. I am just waiting for them to open in the sunshine. I bought two kinds of rose and some carnations. I think the patterning on the carnation petals distracts from the form so I shall probably reject them. I am intent on contrasting the undulating form of flowers with rigid metallic forms. I want to capture some of those crisp highlights along the edges of an ancient pair of butt nosed pliers and the butterfly valve in a carburettor. The sun is kindly hiding behind a cloud, bringing diffused light through my skylight, perfect for taking reference photographs.

29th September 2014
Completed "Roses in a brown jug" just now in time to be collected tomorrow for entry in the New English Art Club exhibition.

Roses in a brown jug

17th September 2014
Back on the job with intent but could not resist checking Katherine's blog first!

Roses in a brown jug in progress

16th September 2014
After all the excitement of receiving two awards yesterday it is difficult to gain focus back on the drawing board especially when there are distractions such as Katherine Tyrrell's fascinating blog. I met Katherine for the first time yesterday though I have been reading her web site for a while. Today she is blogging about controversy regarding the entry which took First Prize in the Derwent Exhibition. Luckily for me Katherine wrote a very sympathetic review of my work. Thank you! Katherine's review of the other prizewinners.

15th September 2014
I am travelling back home from London after the private view of the Derwent Prize exhibition. A very warm thank you to the sponsors, Derwent and the selectors, Professor Anita Taylor, Josh Spero and Kate Macfarlane, who awarded Third Prize to "Garden garage marriage". A very sincere thank you also to the UK Coloured Pencil Society who gave the same picture their Award for Excellence. I am too excited to write anything else at all.

Patsy at Derwent Prize exhibition

11th September 2014
Attending private view of Derwent Prize exhibition next Monday at the Mall Galleries."Garden garage marriage" will be on show. Meanwhile roses occupy me.

Roses in a brown jug detail

2nd September 2014
Roses in a brown jug progressing slowly.

Roses in a brown jug detail

14th August 2014
New work, roses in a brown jug, commenced today. Not exactly roaring ahead but gradually creeping along until more sure of new colours and form of rose.

Roses in a brown jug detail

25th July 2014
Bella and James's wedding wishes poster is finished and ready to print. I am very grateful to Julie Bennet for making this design possible. She understood immediately exactly what I had envisaged and worked late into the night on several occasions getting things just right.

Wedding wishes

18th July 2014
Completed "Peonies and oil can" today so I can begin designing an alternative guest book for Bella and James's wedding reception next month.

Peonies and oil can

13th July 2014
"Roses on a socket set" (shown below) won the Jacksons Visitors' Choice Award at the recent Society of Women Artists' exhibition.

Roses on socket set

11th July 2014
Clip from work on the drawing board shown below.

Peonies and oil can clip

7th July 2014
What a relief. "Garden garage marriage" has been accepted for the Derwent Prize exhibition at the Mall Galleries , The Mall, London SW1Y 5BD. The exhibition runs from 15-20 September this year.

Garden garage marriage

25th June 2014
The Society of Women Artists' exhibition preview was very lively and well attended.

18th June 2014
Yesterday I attended a reception at The Gallery 28 Cork Street London for the Society of United Artists Open Exhibition. I was surprised and delighted to be presented with the Strathmore Fine Art Paper and Derwent Prize for my entry "Rose hammer scissors".

10th June 2014
Hoping to attend the private view of the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists' Prize Exhibition on Thursday 12th June at the RBSA Gallery, 4 Brook Street, St Paul's, Birmingham B3 1SA. "Roses and screwdriver" drawing (below) will be on show.

Roses and screwdriver

1st June 2014
United Society of Artists emailed acceptance of "Rose hammer scissors" in the Cork Street Open Exhibition. The show takes place at the Gallery 28 Cork Street London W1S 3NG,16th-21st June with an evening reception on Tuesday 17th June.

Rose hammer scissors

14th May 2014
Feeling much better now I am drawing again. Have started in the middle of the composition trying to capture the surface of a greasy old oilcan with peeling paint. It is pitted and blistered with wear and tear, velvety rust contrasting with flaking but still shiny green paint. The peonies are ribbed and curled with masses of powdery stamens crowded in the centres. There seems to be no distinction of form between the anthers and the filaments. They are just continous twisty prongs and will be Hell to draw convincingly.

13th May 2014
Another follower collected on Rise Art. Colourfix paper arrived just now in time for me to transfer image of oil can and peonies. Oh, a deviation from roses, whatever am I thinking of?

4th May 2014
My four piece entry for the Society of Women Artists' summer exhibition (25th June - 5th July) has been accepted. "Roses and screwdriver" has been accepted for the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists' Prize exhibition which runs from 12th June to 12th July.

22nd April 2014
Entry for the Society of Women Artists' summer exhibition (four pieces shown below) to be collected this afternoon by Picture Post.

Rose wrench and oil can A trifle bowl of roses
Roses on a socket set Garage associates

15th April 2014
Finally completed "Garden garage marriage".

Garden garage marriage

7th April 2014
Work in progress shown below.

Garden garage marriage

22nd March 2014
Detail of work on the drawing board shown below.

Garden garage marriage detail

18th March 2014
Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent will open the Society of Women Artists' annual exhibition at 11am on Wednesday 25 June at the Mall Galleries in London. The exhibition runs until 5 July. Front page of flyer below.

Flyer for SWA exhibition 2014

17th March 2014
Yesterday I sent off "A trifle bowl of roses" to the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Friends' exhibition, crossing my fingers that it would be shown. I was delighted to receive a call from Hazel Astling, just now, to say that it has won a prize! Thank you very much RBSA.The exhibition can be seen at the RBSA Gallery 4 Brook Street, St Paul's, Birmingham B3 1SA and runs from 19th March until 29th March, with a private view on 20th March 6.00-8.00pm.

A trifle bowl of roses

Today I battled on with the initial stages of my new drawing. It is taking shape at a staggeringly slow speed. Nothing is familiar enough to promote confidence so I am proceeding with caution. Still RBSA have definitely improved my mood this evening so I shall get back to work!

13th March 2014
At last I am back on track working on the last piece in a series of still life depicting a marriage of organic and inorganic form, lush, weary roses snuggled up to stuff usually found in a garage. This one will test me for sure and gobble up several weeks if it reaches a conclusion. I have tackled several of its typical challenges in earlier pieces but there are pockets of detail in deep shadow that will need a switched on brain so I'd better keep up the fish intake. This morning I paid a quick visit to the Sock Preview exhibition in Loughborough Town Hall in order to see artist friend Jo Sheppard's landscapes. I was delighted to see a sold sticker on her largest piece "Always look behind you" (shown below). Well done Jo!

Always look behind you

25th February 2014
Completed drawing of screwdriver and carburettor, detail below. The complete image is shown in New Work.

Garage associates detail

5th February 2014
Spent all day drawing the butterfly valve and machine marks on the surface of carburettor. I struggled to restrain the width of highlights on the edge of metal forms and to find all the colours needed to render brass. I miss having a rose in the composition too, so am plotting new work to include one again.

Butterfly valve

3rd February 2014
Made steady progress today working on that paint splattered screwdriver handle shown below.

Screwdriver and carburettor detail

27th January 2014
Here we go again. It's round two of drawing my Dad's grizzled old screwdriver. This time, however, there are no flopped out roses, just a humble carburettor keeping it company. I haven't looked at one of these properly since early college days. I love its tight curves and contrasting surfaces, smooth brass against roughly machined steel. Super thin edges just catch the light defining forms and marking out hollows. I have no idea whether this composition will work, in the absence of a lush or weary rose. Still, it cannot go in the bin for several days yet. It deserves a fair trial.

27th January2014
At last "Roses and screwdriver" is complete. Detail below.

Roses and screwdriver detail

16th January2014
Friends enjoying the London Art Fair, studying an untitled painting by Andrew Salgado on the Beers Contemporary stand.

Anna Susan and Jo at London Art Fair 2014

15th January 2014
Today I worked on the texture and form of two petals and a leaf, each element vastly different, according to how the light had caught them. The leaf was minute with a scraggly hairy edge almost too small to depict but I just managed it. The inside of one petal was a rich rusty golden affair with shots of lime and acid green in its crisp folds. Tomorrow I'm off to London Art Fair with Jo Sheppard, Susan West and Anna Michalska, all fellow artists. Cannot wait as I love this event when shared with friends.

2nd January 2014
Yesterday I made a slow start on work, continuing today at snail's pace whilst I throw off the fug of too many late nights and too much food. Current work is entitled "Garage roses" as two blooms pose with a screwdriver and a socket set tin. The title will probably end up as a bald statement of the picture contents, "Roses and screwdriver".

28th November 2013
The last few days disappeared trying to render faithfully the surface of that old screwdriver and I have no doubt several more will be absorbed by the task.

Garage roses detail

26th November 2013
I spent last week creating endless reference photographs but returned to the coal face of a new drawing on Friday. The image celebrates desiccated roses posed with a screwdriver against a Draper socket set toolbox. I have a big crush on the toolbox's luscious orangey red paint. The aged screwdriver handle, spattered with paint is cracked and crazed like the surface of the moon, testament to its busy life joining wood and stirring paint. The ordinary is extraordinary.

Garage roses detail

18th November 2013
Last week I was desperate to complete "Roses on a socket set", infuriated by every interruption, but now would happily exchange that deliberate focus for my current state of mind. I am shillyshallying around with a new composition, trying to marry a rusty Castrol oilcan with a rose in the early stages of decay, sporting a few crushed petals. I bought some Sweet Avalanche roses on Friday but they are less gorgeous specimens than the blooms I had in mind. As I am visiting Uppingham tomorrow for a frame at Goldmark gallery I shall try the florist on the High Street. She has given good advice in the past and her roses are usually generously proportioned.

13th November 2013
Finally completed "Roses on socket set" this afternoon. Felt all squeezed out! The subject is roses in an old china jug on a socket set toolbox which is painted vermilion and has wonderful rusty bits. The vermilion paint has a powerful effect, tinting the underside of the petals and the glaze on the jug.

Roses on a socket set

12th November 2013
Interested viewers talk about "Morning" which was exhibited last weekend with local artists' group, Artspace, in Woodhouse Eaves village hall.

Woodhouse Eaves art fair

17th October 2013
Detail from current work shown below.

Roses on a socket set detail 2

3rd October 2013
Detail from current work shown below.

Roses on a socket set detail

1st October 2013
I cannot resist quoting from Jenny Nathan's message received last Friday when she wrote "I wanted to let you know that I took delivery of your painting (Fading Fast) a couple of weeks ago .............. it is now up on the wall of our living room and looks absolutely wonderful. Everyone who comes in is immediately drawn to it. And what is especially lovely is that even in dull weather or at dusk, the roses are luminous and shine out. I love it." Many thanks Jenny.

17th September 2013
Completed "A trifle bowl of roses", a portrait of three enormous O'Hara blooms in my mum's old china trifle bowl. I am now busy arranging new still lives with an aged screwdriver that belonged to my dad, a rusty socket set tin, painted vermilion and some overblown roses.

30th August 2013
This morning I received the following message from Sue Jackson who attended the opening of the RBSA Friends' Autumn exhibition. Many thanks Sue.

"Wow!" was my utterance when I saw your work last night. The still life 'Rose Hammer Scissors' held my attention for a long time; taking in the objects chosen, the way they had been assembled, but more importantly the mood you had created with the use of crayon. For me your work was 'head and shoulders' above the rest - stunning! Congratulations - Sue Jackson. Detail from the work Sue referred to below.

Rose hammer scissors detail

27th August 2013
Viv Astling, sculptor and secretary of the Royal Birmingham Art Society, rang yesterday to say that my entry for the forthcoming RBSA Friends' exhibition had been highly commended by the selectors. "Rose hammer scissors" and "Morning" will therefore be on show at the RBSA gallery from the 28th August to 7th September. Roses in an old china bowl are still in progress, presenting little problems to solve at every turn and forcing me to intensify my palette.

Trifle bowl detail

12th August 2013
Jacksons Art Supplies who sponsor the SWA Visitors' Award have recently included me in their blog trying to answer a few searching questions.

30th July 2013
As usual in the early stages of a work I am making almost invisible progress (detail below). Crossing my fingers that nobody else wants my carburettor.

Trifle bowl of roses detail

29th July 2013
Finally got to start a new piece of work today, three gorgeous O'Hara roses in my mum's old china trifle bowl. I put in a bid for a carburettor too on Ebay ready for my next composition.

11th July 2013
Another lovely surprise! "Rose wrench and oil can" has been pre-selected to go through to the next stage of selection for the Threadneedle Prize. There is more agony to come waiting to hear whether it reaches the final selection. Fingers are tightly crossed.

Rose, wrench and oil can

9th July 2013
I received a message this morning from Sue Jelley, President of the Society of Women Artists, to say that "Rose and wrench" has been voted to receive the Jacksons Visitors' Choice Award at the recent annual SWA exhbition at the Mall Galleries. That was a very welcome surprise so a warm thank you to all those people who voted for my work!

5th July 2013
A new piece of work is on the drawing board, a trifle bowl of roses, but there will be no time to get cracking as we fly off on holiday to Gran Canaria on Monday and I must visit Goldmark framing today.

4th July 2013
I have been pushing hard to finish "Rose wrench and oil can" all week and finally succeeded just in time to take a photograph and enter it for the Threadneedle Prize exhibition.

26th June 2013
Princess Michael of Kent opened the SWA exhibition as planned. I was delighted to receive an award for "Rose and wrench" from London Art. It was a very busy exhibition launch and my drawings appeared to receive plenty of attention.

SWA viewers

25th June 2013
Went to assist with preparations for opening of the Society of Women Artists' annual open exhibtion at the Mall Galleries. My four drawings were beautifully hung on a dark grey wall by themselves. I could not have wished for a better position in the entire gallery.

SWA 2013

4th June 2013
Good news today. "Fading fast" has been selected to appear in the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists' Open Prize exhibition which runs from Thursday 6th June to Saturday 29th June. Dr Jenny Powell, Assistant Curator at Tate Britain, will open it at the private view on the 6th. Meanwhile I am making achingly slow progress on my current drawing, seen on studio page. I am contrasting organic and inorganic forms, crushed and decaying petals versus rust and metal, battered, painted or shiny with oil.

29th May 2013
Started new work today, a marriage of garden and garage, rose,wrench and oil can (detail showing claws of the open wrench below).

Rose, wrench and oil can detail

20th May 2013
Sue Jelley, President of the Society of Women Artists, emailed yesterday with notice of the forthcoming 152nd SWA Open exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, 27th June- 6th July. Princess Michael of Kent will open the exhibition at 11am on 26th June. There will be plenty of publicity around the event including an article in Art of England magazine with "Rose and wrench" used as one of the illustrations.

SWA Open Exhibition 2013

18th May 2013
Finally "Fading fast" is complete. After a lot of stumbling around in the dark and incoherent thought the work magically drew to a close. Time to start again!

16th May 2013
Below is the drawing which currently rules most of my time.

Fly paper in progress

9th May 2013
Still working on fading roses. No new insights, just know I must relentlessly pursue what is before me without preconception, a tall order but something to aim for at least.

Fading fast detail 5

4th May 2013
I checked the Society of Women Artists web site yesterday to see whether there was any notice regarding the selection process for the 152nd open exhibition. All four of my entries have been accepted so I can heave a sigh of relief and get on with the next job. I am still doing battle with another jug of fading roses with infinitely complex surfaces, veins and wrinkles abound. Every square centimetre is a symphony of three dimensional form.

Fading fast detail 2

22nd April 2013
Late last night I was checking Google listings for my name and was delighted to find that "Rose and wrench" had been selected by Kate Gilbert to be the Visitors' choice at Royal Birmingham Society of Artists' Open All Media exhibition 6th March to 6th April 2013, RBSA Visitors' choice. Kate Gilbert said it had "stunning detail and texture, especially in the metal..."(detail shown below) so thank you Kate.

Wrench detail

21st April 2013
Fading fast detail

I started a new piece of work last Friday (detail shown above). The day before I had visited Goldmark gallery in Uppingham to frame my fourth work (Rose hammer scissors) for entry in the Society of Women Artists' summer exhibition (four pieces shown below).

Rose hammer scissors Chocolate box
Morning Rose and wrench

Whilst I was waiting around for the framing to be completed I decided to try and track down some more roses to draw. The florist I found on Uppingham high street told me that if I wanted roses with large heads I should look for Ecuadorian roses. She brought out some gorgeous blooms from her back room which had only just been delivered. I bought just five and have spent hours photographing them in different bowls and jugs. They are completely fascinating.

16th April 2013
New work was completed yesterday with a slightly different name "Rose hammer scissors". I found it hard to settle on a title as I did not want the title to interpret the work in any way, hence this rather bald statement of the picture contents. Having said that, there may be an interpretation of the work to do with semi conscious processes and associations. I mentioned earlier that the inverted rose reminded me of a ballet tutu and I remember reading as a child that a ballet dancer had refused to wear an ankle length skirt and rather daringly had cut it short herself. I had misremembered that this was Anna Pavlova but I found the reference and it was in fact another ballerina. The tale was related to Pavlova by Cecchetti. The rebellious dancer, Virginia Zucchi came to perform at the Russian Imperial Opera House and had a furious row over the length of the ballet skirts with the powers that be. The Imperial ballet was under the control of the government so officials had been called. They were having none of it and after laying down the law, left, thinking they had had the last word but Zucchi just waited until they had gone and cut the skirts to her preferred length. The tale had a happy ending in that Zucchi's dancing charmed everyone utterly and the short skirt was allowed to remain. I think this story may be the origin of "Rose hammer scissors".

Rose hammer scissors

28th March 2013
New work is in the pipeline, a composition with a rose, lump hammer and dressmaking shears which belonged to my mother (detail shown below). They have a long history in family dressmaking and art, evidenced by chipped enamel and paint splashes. The rose (not shown) which is inverted reminds me of a romantic ballet tutu.

Rose hammer and shears detail

19th March 2013
Completed "Chocolate box". Julie Bennet designed an advert (below) using the image for Society of Women Artists' catalogue for the summer open exhibition.

Advert for SWA

10th March 2013
Yesterday I attended the opening celebration of the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists Open All Media exhibition.

RBSA entry

4th March 2013
Recently I sent "Rose and wrench" and "Roses by moonlight" to the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open all Media exhibition. Tonight I had the pleasure of receiving a telephone call from the Honorary Secretary of the RBSA, Viv Astling, telling me that my entry had been highly commended! This of course means that I have two works on show at the RBSA Gallery 4 Brook St St Paul's Birmingham B3 1SA 6 March - 6 April 2013.

12th February 2013
Just completed new work, "Rose and wrench".

Rose and wrench

2nd February2013

Di and Anna at Open 24 Leicester

I went to the launch of Open 24 exhibition at New Walk Museum in Leicester and was pleased to find Di and Anna Michalska looking at my work. When I asked for a comment, Di said "Amazing".

Di and Anna at Open 24

29th January 2013
I photographed my current work in tungsten lighting today. I adjusted the colour on screen by eye but it is not very faithful, just giving an approximation of progress to date. I am finding this project compelling. It is unknown territory for me drawing a metal object with battered paint and the rose is so different to those in an earlier drawing "Roses by moonlight". There is more decay and veining in the petals. The leaves are ultra shiny, dark and mysterious. Highlights along the edges of the metal jaws in the wrench are as thin as cotton threads. Three dots of light make raised numbers stamped in the metal spring to life. I continue to work turning the drawing board this way and that to fool my brain that persists in looking for patterns to disengage me from the real.

21st January 2013
It seems the more I draw the less I have to say on the subject but I decided that tonight I should at least make the effort to describe the day's work. A cloudy day and reflection from the snowfall resulted in perfect light conditions for work in my room under the skylight. Daylight bulbs are all very well but they do not seem to pick up the full spectrum so I was glad they were unnecessary. Today I concentrated on two areas in my current composition. It shows a rose in profile just touching a battered vermillion pipe wrench in front of an upturned galvanised milk pail. The latter makes a thin arc of reflected light framing the rose. I worked on a decaying petal and the wrench, which has very bright highlights describing the form. At times I think I can smell the rose which is huge, blown up to at least three times its actual size. I am beginning to think it is the most intricate form I have ever drawn and, come to think of it, I have never attempted a realistic depiction of a flower before. At college the emphasis was always on the life figure or natural forms such as shells, rocks or vegetables. Otherwise I have represented flowers in a stylised fashion in wallpaper, fabric and suchlike. When I look at this particular rose it reminds me of Yves Tanguy's dreamlike forms, of Joan Miro and Arshile Gorky. The petal curls resemble legs and joints.

17th January 2013
Yesterday I went with fellow artists, Jo Sheppard and Susan West to London Art Fair showing 16-20 January at the Business Design Centre in Islington. What a treat!

Jo and Susan at London Art Fair

Just to perfect my day, I received a message from the Leicester Open 24 Exhibition to say that I had both my entries selected for exhibition. They are entitled "Uncertain relationship" and "Morning". The exhibition runs 2 February to 7 April 2013. The launch event is Saturday 2nd February.

14th January 2013
Further progress

Rose and wrench detail 2

9th January 2013
Made some slow progress today.

8th January 2013
Too difficult! What possessed me to choose a super sized rose and a pipe wrench for my composition? I am having trouble drawing the overblown gorgeous pink rose. Its translucent petals, curled and decaying, are so complex structurally and the fall of light on form beyond comprehension. I have been on the point of defeat every two hours since I started yesterday morning and today has been little different! I always considered depiction of the human figure to be the ultimate test of understanding form but I am changing my mind rapidly as I consider this rose with its abundance of petals, each one unique. I must be crazy to continue but then there is no doubt of that, just whether I can succeed in making sense of such deliciously complex form. I flatter it in the hope that by some magic I may conquer drawing it.

7th January 2013
I'm off on new work today entitled "Rose and wrench". The curls and creases of the rose petals both fascinate and confound. It is hard to pin down the colour and how the forms lock together but studying the shapes when not actually attempting to draw them helps unravel the puzzle of their architecture. I have no idea how I will deal with the pipe wrench. its battered paint reminds me of Woolworths red tile paint sold in the 1960s, half a century ago!

17th December 2012
Completed work entitled "Roses by moonlight" this morning. This has been a rewarding venture into unknown territory. I am currently preparing reference photos for a new series of drawings juxtaposing roses with tools such as a pipe wrench and a lump hammer.

Roses by moonlight

9th November 2012
Detail of current work shown below.

Detail from Roses in a milk pail

7th November 2012
Am travelling to London to meet Sandie and Linda at the National Gallery for a feast in both the galleries and restaurant. I am intent upon seeing Richard Hamilton in the Late Works exhbition and have been genning up on on his life trying to find connections with my own experience. I never "got" Pop Art but share Hamilton's enthusiasm for Marcel Duchamp, though I am mystified by his writing and abandonment of painting.

1st November 2012
Artist friend Jo and I drove to Stoneygate, Leicester, this morning to visit the newly opened Sutton Gallery. It looks great and is located in a select shopping area on Allendale Road. This Saturday, November 3rd, the gallery launches an exhibition of Kirill Sokolov (1930-2004) a critically acclaimed Russian born artist.

31st October 2012
I completed, photographed and posted "Uncertain relationship" on my web site then dived into new work; though it is hardly a groundbreaking subject, roses in an old milk pail. I aim to concentrate on the sculptural quality of the blooms and will be drawing them much larger than life. The milk pail form reminds me somewhat of the cooling towers of Radcliffe on Soar power station which figured in earlier works. I like the aged blue white enamel with its chips and cracks. Drawing those convincingly will be a challenge.

25th October 2012
Attended a talk by Ken Howard at Nottingham Society of Artists Gallery today. It was highly entertaining and gave a real insight into his painting. The draughtsmanship knocked me out but the light, well, just gorgeous....such beautiful work and refreshing honesty is truly inspiring. My current work still not quite finished. Detail shown below.

Detail from Uncertain relationship

20th October 2012
I have been battling with time management trying to salvage enough to keep drawing daily in the face of other pressing commitments. This week some equilibrium was restored and it has been productive. "Uncertain relationship", to be seen in Studio page, is nearing completion. My mantra of the moment is to look for and try to match all the differing colours which appear within the brightness of a highlight. They can evade notice but careful study reveals them.
I took two drawings,"Morning" and "Ironing by moonlight" to the Autumn exhibition of the Nottingham Society of Artists last week. "Ironing" gained first prize in the Holbrook Trust Awards. The viewer shown below said it was beautiful so thank you very much to her.

Holbrook Trust Award

3rd September 2012
Finally back at the drawing board after a glorious summer holiday. The sun shone consistently on my work table sharpening vision and brightening colours. I am concentrating on edges, avoiding over definition so there is the illusion that the form continues beyond what can be seen.

30th August 2012
I set off early to Goldmark gallery in Uppingham to have "Morning" framed. Below, expert framer, Rupert, holds up the work for inspection before it is wrapped.

Rupert with newly framed work

29th August 2012
I jumped on the Leicester train this morning to pay a visit to the LSA "Upcycling" project exhibition at New Walk Museum. I had to persuade the museum attendant to allow me to take a picture of my piece "Windows of my mind" as photography in the gallery is forbidden. As I had not used anti reflective glass in the frame the shots were poor so I have not included them. The entrance pillars of the museum turned out better.

New Walk Museum

23rd August 2012
Having checked their website and my mail numerous times this morning I finally heard that "Morning" is through to the second round of judging in the National Open Art Competition. This is a relief but the battle is by no means over. Still this is a better result than last year when my entry was rejected.

9th August 2012
Today I met Jo, fellow artist and model for "Ironing by moonlight", and her daughter, Fay, at the Leicester Society of Artists' open exhibition at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery. I was pleased that the curators had made neighbours of our exhibition entries and snapped Jo posing in front of them. She was busy explaining the effects of acid rain on the Elgin marbles to Fay who has a reputation for insatiable curiousity.

Jo at LSA exhibition

8th August 2012
A new composition kicked off today, a woman posed with a vacuum cleaner and a milk pail. I concentrated on the model's left ear which is lit from one side throwing the form into strong relief.(A detail is shown below.) I feel bound to state the obvious; how remarkable is the shape of the human ear, delicate, beautiful and in parts translucent scarlet when against a bright light.

Uncertain

31st July 2012
With unwarranted optimism I have bashed on with trying to render the form of a woman's back. It needs relegating to the bin.

30th July 2012
I am struggling with a different drawing surface, Colourfix pastel primer applied to a heavy weight smooth watercolour paper instead of the readymade Colourfix pastel paper. Despite thinning the primer as instructed to achieve a finer tooth I find the surface is too course for details and does not take up the crayon as readily. I had hoped it would provide a solution to the imperfections of the readymade paper which is often blemished in the manufacturing process. This is not happening and the form in my drawing of a woman's back is unconvincing. I should jump ship if I am to make progress.

21st July 2012
I received the following message by email this evening. "Hello, I saw your Ironing by Moonlight picture today and thought it was stunning....... Well done to you for making the visit worthwhile for us." I love it! Thank you for writing.

19th July 2012
I am right in the middle of working on the "Upcycling" theme for Leicester Society of Artists' project exhibition which opens on Saturday 25th August. I racked my brains for this one and finally decided to collage together eight preparatory drawings of subjects portrayed in work completed during 2008 and 9. These faces, machine ducts and flowers are arranged simply in two rows of four, bordered at the top and bottom by some little colour studies. These nod to Rothko's colour fields with their fuzzy edges, but are really inspired by images, shot in Japan, of neon lights and Pachinko (slot machine) parlours. This collage, if it materialises, will represent some of the ideas which have occupied my thoughts in the past, hence its title " Windows of my mind".

16th July 2012
I received a reminder this morning about the National Open Art Competition, one of many over the last few months. "Ophelia" was accepted for the NOAC exhibition in 2010 and went on to a second exhibition in 2011 in the Science Museum, which was a bonus. Last year, however, my entry was rejected so I had resolved not to bother again. In a moment of madness, just now, I changed my mind and have signed up "Morning". Having done the deed I am now thinking that it is far too straightforward a piece to find favour with the selectors but, nevertheless, I am crossing my fingers that it will receive a sympathetic viewing.

14th July 2012
Yesterday I dropped off "Ironing by moonlight" at Leicester New Walk Art Gallery and Museum for Leicester Society of Artists' 127th Annual Exhibition next week. It is becoming a well travelled piece.

Ironing by moonlight

Right now I am travelling back from London after attending the Society of Women Artists' AGM at the Mall Galleries. Two AGM's in one week! Today's was comparatively formal, though very interesting, and it is always good to meet other artists who have similar concerns. The possibility of adopting digital submission for entries to the annual exhibition was mooted. This has the advantage of excluding unsuitable entries at an early stage, saves the cost of transporting works to and from the gallery and should make notification of artists swifter. However there are issues with achieving a true representation of an art work through photography. There is the potential for it to be enhanced giving an unfair advantage and conversely it may be not be possible to compress the full extent of a work's quality into a few thousand pixels. In short, a piece of work in the flesh may be inferior or superior to its photograph but digital submission is here to stay. I suggest we embrace it and get on with improving the quality of the process so that work is reproduced as faithfully as possible and entries judged with due regard to the limitations.

13th July 2012
Finished "Morning"!(See below) I have been working on it since 6th June. In fact I started the week before but found a blemish in the paper and had to begin again.

Morning

11th July 2012
Collected "Ironing by moonlight" from Pippa Graber and set off home from London this morning. Spent the afternoon on "Morning" which I hope to complete tomorrow and photograph for the website. There seem to be a myriad of subtleties needing attention and I am not sure I shall solve them all to my satisfaction. I keep coming back to the issue of edges where form meets form or space. Edges seem to have the monopoly on making us believe in form, after lights of course. What a dance occurs between these two!
The SLWA AGM last night got off to a lively start with reports of the year's activities. A long table format had been arranged to enable more people to contribute to a session in which artists could talk about their experience of belonging to the group. I had written something about this but failed to join in, except by listening, so I have included what I intended to say below.

Belonging to SLWA
The late 1970s found me traipsing round London clutching a gallery guide, an Imperial size folder full of work and two little children. We had cottage cheese sandwiches and a bottle of squash in Russell Square to fortify us before negotiating the Tube and pestering many interested, but not interested enough gallery owners. I had to settle for representation closer to home in Manchester but it was something of a failed enterprise and I decided to become a teacher and earn some money for my family.
I mention my early experience in the art business as it is such a contrast to my second attempt to gain a footing in this complicated world. I had no sooner started out working full time on my drawings in 2008 when I was invited to apply to join SLWA. Nothing could have been simpler than emailing a CV and photos of work to Leonie. However, I was extremely suspicious initially and convinced someone would try and sign me up to an unwanted financial commitment at the welcome party in beautiful Dulwich Picture Gallery! What a surprise! A room full artists with lots of interesting things to say and a powerful desire to make something new happen. I thought I was in paradise.
Immediately I joined I was no longer alone. I could watch the progress of fellow members, exhibit and learn about the processes of exhibiting, exactly what had been lacking in my early attempts to get started as an artist.
The SLWA web site looked stunning right from the start causing me to redesign my own. People involved in the site management were all responsive too which encouraged me and enhanced the sense of community I began to feel despite my geographical distance from the membership. Every time I meet up with the group I am amazed at the diversity of the art, the enormous commitment of its core members and how welcoming the atmosphere. The hanging of our last exhibition at Bankside was a superb example of co-operative team work.
I cannot say how this being an all female artistic community affects my experience, though I am sure it must. I think the significant factor is more likely to be the nature of the particular women involved, who take on so much additional work and get it done on time, in budget. Fabulous! I am just glad to be a member and grateful to the SLWA artists and Jenny Sweeney of course, who have made my second attempt to work in the world of art so much better than the first.

10th July 2012
I am travelling to London for South London Women Artists' AGM at Dulwich Picture Gallery. I shall be meeting Linda for lunch and a catch up as we have not seen each other for a good while.
Recently we have not been taking newspapers to save on clutter and expense but had the Times on Sunday for a treat. I am so glad we did as I read an article by Waldemar Januszczak on Jenny Saville, a blisteringly good painter. She has stolen my heart for the time being and given me new inspiration. I have been in awe of Lucien Freud for some time but Saville's work has another level of power to me. There is an immediacy that makes Freud seem cold and intellectual. It is the heat and sweat, the blood and lust that I want to capture. The whys and wherefores of how light is reflected back from form seem only a small part of the story. It is impossible to describe the alchemy of Saville's work but even looking at a snapshot in the Times Culture magazine has me drenched in the gorgeousness of these nudes. It has left me speechless, probably a good thing.

5th July 2012
"Morning" is developing slowly and I am posting new photos almost daily, charting progress. I am fascinated by her embroidered chemise and how it hints at the underlying form despite endless folds and creases. I really should have ironed it better before lending it to the model. I would be delighted if someone actually tried to remove a thread, trompe l'oueil achieved! No, seriously, I am trying to push the bits of ragged thread to the top of the picture plane making the shadows in the cotton folds seem deeper. The crispness of the thread is in direct contrast to the soft volumes of the model's arms and hands. I am well into the obsessive phase of this work and can think of little else. I don't think I could manage a studio separate from home as I need to see the work all the time from about half way through until conclusion. There is no logic to this and I make no excuse. I just have to look and look all the time.

4th July 2012
Today we visited Pippa Graber on her gallery stand "Art Dog" at Bloomsbury Art Fair at Goodenough College in Mecklenburgh Square. Pippa was showing two of my pieces when we saw her, "Ironing by moonlight" and "Considering".

3rd July 2012
Attended an ArtSpace crit at the Blacksmiths Arms in Quorn yesterday. I showed my interpretation of Dod Proctor's painting, "Morning", on an Ipad. It is still incomplete but people seemed to approve and it turns out that someone in ArtSpace has an original Dod Proctor and invited me round to see it. I cannot wait, as "Morning" is really beautiful. I knew nothing about it until recently when I was helping to hang an exhibition at Bankside Gallery. There was time for a break so I called in at the Tate for quick art fix and there it was. I resolved to pay it homage in the near future hence this piece I have underway at the moment. It is nowhere near completion and there are new challenges at every turn. Hoping to continue for a spell tomorrow before going off to Bloomsbury Art Fair. I have been reflecting on working methods and it seems to go pretty much like stalking an animal. In order to conquer the depiction of form I have to go all round the houses pretending I am not in for the kill. I go in at lots of different angles, checking, adding a bit here and there, using colours which appear to be the exact opposite of the ones required; then creep up on the highlight and sneak in a very tiny accurate bit that does not say too much, but is nevertheless going to stay; then zoom off to another area hoping no attention has been attracted to the addition. Round and round we go playing hide and seek with light and colour. Slowly form emerges, but don't rush me, it seems to say so I obey and slink around turning the board this way and that, forcing my brain to accurate perception, pushing out preprogrammed drawing types and stylisation that clouds the eye. This behaviour mimics strategies I have for remembering. Direct attack is useless. Camouflage is required. A nonchalant stance is the trigger for the forgotten to spring into current consciousness. In other words if I forget something, no amount of conscious effort will result in the restoration of the memory. I have to pretend I am completely uninterested and focus on other matters. Shortly the memory jumps back into mind as if it had never been gone. What a cheek!

27th June 2012
As usual the Mall Galleries were packed for the opening of the Society of Women Artists' exhibition. The exhibition looked marvellous and I was delighted to receive the Caron Keating Award for the body of my work in the exhibition. "Party Dress" is shown below.

Party Dress

20th April 2012
I am so happy today as I received a letter from Sue Jelley, President of the Society of Women Artists, congratulating me upon being elected to full membership of the Society. Three works have been accepted for the 151st Annual Open exhibition at the Mall Galleries, "Lovers" (shown below), "Party Dress" and "Ruby".

Lovers

3rd May 2011
I am thrilled to hear that my application to join the Society of Women Artists has been successful and I have been elected as an Associate Member. Three drawings, "Junior Doctor" (shown below), "Night Portrait" and "Jo", will be hung in the 150th SWA Celebratory Exhibition at the Mall Galleries this summer. HRH Princess Michael of Kent will open the exhibition at the Private View on Wednesday 29 June. The exhibition then runs from 1 to 9 July 2011 (closing at 1pm on the final day).

Junior Doctor

3rd March 2011
Today fellow artist Susan West and I, took several works to Nottingham for the forthcoming Nottingham Society of Artists Associates exhibition. This opens on Saturday 5th March and runs until Thursday 10th March. I took "Girl with closed eyes", "Jo" and "Rose" but I'm still worrying that reflections from the glass make viewing of these sombre works difficult. Here's hoping they are hung in a favourable position.

2nd March 2011
As a small child I never got the joke "When is a door not a door? When it's ajar." because ajar was not in my vocabulary. I am suffering a similar hole in my understanding with the question of "When is a drawing not a drawing?" or in fact "What is a drawing?". I had thought Tania Kovats's "The Drawing Book" might provide some clues and it does, but these are outweighed by more questions. Does the medium or the manner of its application dictate whether a piece of art work falls into the painting, drawing or even the sculpture category? So can anyone advise me with regard to my own "drawings" made with very soft coloured crayon on paper. Are these paintings in the manner of pastel paintings?

28th February 2011
How hard is it to draw a wrinkled sheet? Easy you may say but I suppose it depends upon the level of symbolism used. It would be much less trouble to write "sheet" or draw a sort of formless shape, colour it and throw in a bit of shading. Today I battled with the lighting on complex intersecting planes in varying shades of grey and pale sepia on a sheet. Some convincingly sheet-like bits are emerging in my drawing.

27th February 2011
I broke away from my obsession with making a drawing this weekend to shop for a book on the subject. I found Tania Kovats's "The Drawing Book" which seems to fit the bill perfectly. Not only does it vigorously challenge many of my ideas, a healthy quality, but also confirmed one of them. Kovats quotes Alfred Hitchcock as stating that there is no such thing as a line, only light and shade. I am sure he is not the first to articulate this and will not be the last, but it is a notion fundamental to my current working practice. I start with a sheet of black paper and reveal the form of a figure by drawing fields of modulated colour. These patches of colour blend into or meet other patches but there are no lines along their boundaries creating artificial divisions between forms and backgrounds. I hear my thoughts buzzing, telling me that "drawing is not about mirroring reality", but still I strive to get closer to it by abandoning line, and concentrating on form.

20th February 2011
No work done today unless reflection counts. I noticed that a highlight no larger than a couple of full stops brought a surface to life.

16th February 2011
I have been drawing all day in perfect light conditions, bright enough to make everything pin sharp on my ageing retina. Several challenges are only partly conquered in this reclining figure, namely that delicate area of the inner wrist, knuckles on an outstretched hand and the tendons in her neck. I expect they'll succumb eventually. The main thing is to give a sense of the woman's warmth and life.

15th February 2011
I was delighted to watch Anthony Caro talking to Mark Lawson recently about his life and sculpture. He was a towering influence on me when I first arrived at art college in the 1960s and was relegated to the sculpture studios against my will (I desperately wanted to be in Painting.). Despite my reservations, I adapted quickly and soon couldn't get enough of it. The studios were ramshackle, full of light and probably quite dangerous. My dad who was a motor engineer and used to workshops was horrified when he saw how things were arranged. It was the bandsaw plonked in a thoroughfare that really had him going. I loved it all and couldn't tear myself away at the end of the day but it was hard, demanding and yes sometimes dangerous. I owe a debt to Tristram Forward, a fellow student, who saved me from a large hand-held grinder, which had got out of control and jumped off the steel I was shaping into my sweater. As it twisted up my back coiled in the wool of my top Tristram heard me scream and leapt to switch off the machine at the wall socket. I got away with a scratch or two as a result of his speedy reaction.
In those early times Caro's work enabled me to realise a link between my ideas for painting and the making of sculpture. However in his interview last week he quoted something from Henry Moore which really struck a chord for me with regard to my current work. Moore had said that sculpture, presumably among other things, was all about the pressures inside the body. Caro made a fist as he said this and pointed to the taut skin over his knuckles. The evidence of bone structure under skin seems highly significant to me and I strive to make those pressures of bone under skin apparent in my studies of the nude figure.

14th February 2011
Mm I seem to have a blank mind when comes to talking about the business of making images. The more I draw the less I have to say about it. Perhaps this is how it should be since I cultivate working with a narrow focus and no distractions such as listening to the radio.

8th February 2011
Last week I spent a bit of time on the National Open Art stand at the Watercolours and Works on Paper Art Fair at the Science Museum. This was a busy, glamorous event, with champagne bar and all manner of art works for sale including Damien Hurst, Tracey Emin and Anthony Gormley. I could easily have spent thousands, well much more actually.
The feedback on "Ophelia" was positive too and I met some brilliant people. One lady, dressed rather eccentrically, considered the works on our stand then glanced down at me and said how much she liked my grey pearls. I told her that my daughter, Bella, had given them to me. "That is the sort of behaviour that should be encouraged" she said before drifting off to the next stand. I am sure she must once have played Lady Bracknell.
Later on I swapped ideas with a couple of kindred spirits from Lancaster. As they knew someone whose work was rejected in the National Open Art Competition they were intrigued to see some works which had been accepted. They felt that most of them had a clever "angle" that somehow made them unique and interesting to the selectors. I challenged them to pick out my "much more straightforward" work. They were right first time.

27th January 2011
Having spent a long time preparing materials and photographic reference over the last week or two, today I finally dived into a new drawing. No prizes for guessing the subject of my study, a reclining woman, but it will no doubt present new challenges as the lighting is subtle rather than dramatic. The real work will be in conveying a sense of this woman's warmth, life and quiet breathing.
I often find it difficult to start work, not the planning but the proper interface with your stuff and your thoughts. I need to feel there is an infinite amount of time stretching ahead without interruption, even if this is illusory, then I can be lost.
Over the last few months I have been participating in the Saatchi Showdown, a competition for artists in which votes are cast on line. At the moment "Girl with closed eyes" is competing and can be seen here if anyone wishes to vote http://www.saatchionline.com/showdown/match/showdown/3/artist/87936/art/1173997. There are 5120 other entries to the competition so any support is very welcome.
Speaking of support, I received three encouraging emails today via the Saatchi site. Two were from Jo King who commented on "Girl with closed eyes" saying "Breathtaking. You certainly have my vote" and regarding "Model under a skylight" "This is gorgeous. The texture, the light, the model and the subdued colours". The third message from Melinda Matyas about my portrait of a Student Doctor read "Beautiful details". They certainly boosted my mood.
Next Wednesday 2 February 3-9pm I am attending the opening preview of the Watercolours and Works on Paper Art Fair at the Science Museum in London SW7 2DD."Ophelia" has been included in this exhibition as I mentioned previously, back in November. This may be a good opportunity as 11,000 visitors are expected to attend.

22nd January 2011
Well it is long time no blog and I offer no excuse. Suffice it to say that things happen affecting our ability to carry on as normal.
This week I visited the London Art Fair with two artist friends.The range of work was vast and kept us engaged for hours. Perhaps rather naively we had planned to try and show some of our work to any galleries that appeared to be in sympathy with our particular interests. This proved difficult as the staff on duty were emitting very strong selling signals. We realised the climate was wrong for our venture after a couple of attempts to introduce ourselves so instead we concentrated on viewing the displays and trying to figure out which galleries might be interested in our work. I don't think we drew any firm conclusions but we are working on it.

19th December 2010
I finally completed "Girl with closed eyes" last Friday and was blessed with a sunny day to photograph it. I had difficulty finding a title so I decided to name the work after a painting by Lucien Freud as the composition is quite similar.

26th November 2010
A piece of work has me in its clutches again. When not officially drawing I find any number of excuses to visit, stare and inwardly remodel this and that. It is much safer to resist making adjustments on the way to bed, or in fact on the way anywhere as it always ends in disaster.
Peter Howson's painting, shown in a television documentary last night entitled "The Madness of Peter Howson" left me speechless, in the best possible sense, apart from one comment. His portraits of Christ resemble Peter himself. I mention this as there are a number of theories regarding the cause. As a student I was led to believe that there was a certain inevitability about this tendency of portraits to resemble the artist. In fact if we make up a face without reference to a model this tendency is exaggerated. Does this have something to do with basic brain programming?

17th November 2010
I have been away and lost the connection with my current piece of work. No doubt it will be re-established tomorrow in the bright light of day.

7th November 2010
Neil Lawson Baker, Chairman of the National Open Art Exhibition, telephoned to say that "Ophelia" (my drawing currently on show in the NOA at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester) had been selected to go forward to another exhibition in February in the Science Museum, London. The show, Watercolours and Works on Paper is only on for three days, 3-6 February 2011, but Neil is confident that there will be a large number of visitors.
When I started my artist's journey in 2008 I had only the vaguest idea about exhibiting and certainly no understanding of the impact it would have on me. Guidebooks on managing an art career urge a clear headed approach to getting your show on the road. They give down to earth analyses of reasons that work may be rejected, suggest how to deal with dealers and point out landmarks for navigating the gallery world. I have paid attention but must confess that I cannot manage a calm response to the ups and downs of showing work to the public. In short, I am elated when work is selected for exhibition, awarded a prize or sold but utterly despondent when it is rejected. Today is a good day.

6th November 2010
To draw honestly formulas must be left behind. They cloud perception and push the drug of easy security.
I am in the grip of a piece of work which demands that I check on it constantly, whether it is under construction or leaning against the wall. It amounts to an obsession but obsession seems to be quite an efficient mechanism for getting things done. The mind remains focussed on the task and can make steady progress, instead of stopping and starting and having to repeat processes which have been temporarily forgotten. So this apparent insanity has a useful function and I shall be better acquainted with my subject as a consequence.

5th November 2010
The preview of the Catmose Gallery Open 8 exhibition proved very exciting yesterday evening as I was awarded the "Swans Fine Art" prize for one of my three entries, "Student Doctor". This prize is generously given by Councillor Peter Jones who runs an antique shop and gallery in Oakham. The exhibition was beautifully hung, a credit to the Catmose gallery curator Abigail Bishop.

3rd November 2010
Television must constantly be shaping our vision but our preoccupations inevitably filter what gets through. I found myself yesterday, supposedly watching the news. An elderly woman appeared on camera, making a point about something or other, but her message was lost to me. All I saw were the contours of her face and where the sunlight caught the high points. Only recently have I begun to realise the significance of highlights in depicting the nature of form. The shape and intensity of a point of light reflected back from the surface of a wet eyeball is so different from the light caught on the taut skin of a forehead.

1st November 2010
I have been reflecting on the entanglement of technique and picture content and whether there is any point in separating the two. My Dad would use an artificial separation to spare my feelings, a lifetime ago in the 1970s, by saying that he did not like my subject matter but felt my technique was OK. Good old Dad. Mum was wiser and said less.
I have heard people say that a work of art is empty, just technique and no substance, but where is the boundary between these elements? How can they be divided? Are they zipped and linked like posh hotel beds or held together by electrical charge like protons and neutrons? We are used to hearing judges marking the performance of ice skaters and dancers in terms of technical merit and artistic expression. Can this be applied readily to a painting, a drawing or a sculpture? I think not but I'm not sure why.

31st October 2010
The Autumn landscape round here begs for attention with its rusty, rustling leaves, ripe berries and spikey Hawthorn but I am not drawn. My focus is the human body and its power to express emotion. Someone else will have to do the landscapes.

27th October 2010
Bright light from my workroom skylight has helped me all day getting to grips with the minute detail of a model's face. There are many tricky shadows and shapes all interlocking. A change at any point affects all the adjacent forms. I am working from a reference photo as usual. It was taken in a little room flooded with morning sunlight which made gorgeous patterns on the model's body. Her eyelids are a study in translucent raw umber, crimson aubergine and burnt sienna. She is emerging slowly but will not look back at me as her eyes are closed.

26th October 2010
Today I received some encouraging feedback on my work from visitors to the Nottingham Society of Artists Autumn Exhibition.This was directed at "Reclining model in sunlight" that had been on show in the NSA Trust gallery on Friar Lane for the past week. Several people were curious about my technique and surprised that the medium is crayon. One lady asked me how to draw noses, something, that had obviously challenged her and still challenges me! I'm afraid the only advice I could offer was to try to switch off all your innate and learned ideas about noses and observe very carefully the play of light on your subject.

16th October 2010
I returned home from Frieze Art Fair in London yesterday to find a message saying that my drawing, Ophelia, had been accepted for exhibition in the National Open Art Competition in Chichester. The private view is 29th October 6-9pm and the exhibition runs from 30th October to 13th November at the Minerva Theatre Chichester. There are 118 finalists in the exhibition selected from an initial entry of over 1600 submissions. Needless to say I am elated!
I had been hopeful as I showed the work to my local artist group ArtSpace recently and they did not say much but looked for a good while, probably quite a positive sign in artists. Erica Middleton, one of the group who teaches art classes in Loughborough, said in an email later "I loved your latest drawing by the way, thought it the most beautiful to date - and did you notice how everyone was reduced to silence?" Showing work makes me nervous and I had not noticed so thanks Erica for letting me know.
Frieze was a very interesting experience not least for having lunch with friends from South London Women Artists.
I had thought that I might pluck up the courage to talk to some of the gallery people with a view to asking them to consider taking some of my work. However, I realised pretty soon that I was talking a different language and that there was no one there that would represent me, judging from what I could see.
I gave a flyer about my drawings to a lady that I overheard had bought some figurative work from an "Unknown". I thought, "Oh that could be me", so I hung around until I could approach her and rather apologetically gave her the flyer. She said she'd look me up but I wonder.........?
Later on I met a young woman feeding her baby his lunch in the cafe and offered her a flyer when we had exchanged a few comments about the show. I left a few more flyers amongst the books on sale. As I walked away I glanced back and was rewarded by seeing a girl had picked one up. What it is to be an "Unknown"!

14th October 2010
Drawing this little portrait continues to tease perception and stretch technique. I have struggled to capture light reflected by a bony part of the wrist, a nail on the model's little finger and the ridges of puckered skin on a finger joint. Highlights have to be exactly placed to convince the eye and are rarely ever white when you really look.
The pale tracery of veins in the wrist will no doubt occupy me for days. How will I convey the translucence of skin at that confluence of veins under the joint wrinkles? I started taking notice of veins when I drew Student Doctor last summer.The prominence of the veins in her hand seemed incongruous with the model's youth but was important visual evidence of her warm blood and life.

12th October 2010
Catmose Gallery have accepted all three pieces of work submitted for the Open 8 exhibition, Rose, Student Doctor and Sunlit Face.The exhibition takes place between 4 November - 15 December 2010 at Catmose Gallery, Catmose College, Cold Overton Road, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6NU. The private view is on Thursday 4 November from 6-9pm.
Meanwhile I continue to scrutinise a reference photograph in order to draw a portrait of Jo. Today's challenge has been to capture the subtleties of lighting on the neck and in particular the transition from neck to chin. How much easier it is to create a stylised human head and use lines to symbolise a change in form. In life lines do not exist so why do we persist in using them to depict form? It must be dictated by economy.

8th October 2010
I am consumed by the drawing of a little portrait. Between every other daily activity I have to get back face to face with it checking proportion, colour, light and shade and so on. This will probably continue until I either finish it or decide I have to start again which is quite likely given past performance. Working on such a small scale less than A4 for the head means that accuracy is crucial, 1mm out on an upper lip for example results in distortion so it is easy to go wrong. Finding colours for the whites of the eyes today has included warm grey 70%, French grey 50% and sepia 10% but no white at all. I find it utterly extraordinary when the eyes return my gaze. No other feature provides such significant feedback. Now she feels warm and real but tomorrow, no doubt, I shall feel more critical.

6th October 2010
Yesterday Jo Sheppard and I bundled some of our work into my car and drove off to the Catmose gallery at Catmose college in Oakham where they are selecting art for the Open 8 2010 exhibition. In 2008 my drawing, Nude by the power station, was accepted so I am hopeful that something may be selected but we should know next week.
Tomorrow our local contemporary art group, ArtSpace, is hanging an exhibition entitled, On the Edge, at Hind Leys College in Shepshed. I am assisting with the hang but not exhibiting. There seems to be an issue regarding the acceptability of nude images in some establishments. This surprises me as I am working within one of the great traditions of European art i.e. the nude in the landscape. I decided not to show rather than be censored. I felt a lot of sympathy for John Vesty who was baffled recently when his nude paintings were taken down from North Norfolk District Council offices in Cromer as they were deemed to be offensive.
This afternoon I spent several hours drawing the upper lip in a portrait of Jo. This area of less than a centimetre square presents so many subtle challenges to perception. How do you make forms press up close to the picture plane or curve inwards without using tricks or stylisation? It seems to be a question of look look and look again.

4th October 2010
I am still preoccupied with the issue of my work being rather dark and difficult to see when glazed. Rupert, one of the framers at Goldmark suggested some time ago that I should try some non-reflective glass. He tried it on a small piece "Sunlit Face" and it worked like magic.The image was immediately visible without any distraction from reflections, but in practice, I cannot use it, as my work would be refused by some of the galleries, who are prejudiced against it. I think this must be due to earlier forms of non-reflective glass which distorted the picture.
As mentioned on 1st October one of the causes for the darkness of my drawings is changing to a harder crayon so I have dug out some of my remaining precious Karisma stock.This might just do the trick in the short term.

1st October 2010
I carried on working from photographs including increasing amounts of detail. At the time I was using very soft Karisma pencil crayons on paper painted with black Colourfix pastel ground.This provided a huge tonal range from the deep velvety black through subtle pinks and browns to a crisp white in the highlights. Unfortunately Karisma crayons have disappeared from the market and though I have tried various others such as Derwent Artists and Sanford Prismacolour there does not seem to be an identical successor, despite claims to the contrary.
My current choice,Caran D'Ache Luminance crayons are tested for light fastness and have a wide range of subtle colours. However they seem harder than Karisma making blending less easy. The common sense solution, to apply more pressure, tends to clog the paper or make rather obvious hatch marks, interfering with the smooth modulation of tone.In consequence my drawings have become rather dark and are difficult to see behind ordinary picture glass.Non-reflective glass is still frowned upon by galleries such as the Mall.The darkness of the latest drawing concerns me.So this is one fault identified.
An artist friend, Jo Sheppard, suggested that the pose in my recent drawing was more straightforward than usual and the lighting much less dramatic. It is true that I have been taking photos in good light to gain a sharply focused image but seemingly at the expense of mood and atmosphere. I had not seen that chasing the detail would have this effect so I must pay more attention to composition and shadows when taking reference photos.

30th September 2010
The realisation that I needed to study human anatomy came later and I enrolled in a life class taught by a friend. Apart from the benefit of some expert teaching, this put me back in touch with real drawing and all my early training came flooding back.I stopped thinking about the narrative of the model and the objects before me and began to concentrate on spatial relationships, tonal values and proportion. Even more importantly the model posing for the class agreed to a photo session with me. This led to a drawing based on a real figure with her natural environment slightly modified to include a rose covered wallpaper. I could not quite leave behind the made up interiors but this was a turning point and I started to pursue the realism in earnest.

29th September 2010
I needed some new source material to create more authentic figures. A torn photograph of one of Francis Bacon's models turned up in a magazine I was reading, so I enlarged it, to act as my new model. Parts of the photograph were difficult to see and I felt that I had to change the head to harmonise with the style of the setting. The work see-sawed between stylisation and realism without success. My next drawing was firmly back in paper doll land with lovingly drawn lily wallpaper. I took it to be framed at Goldmark gallery in Uppingham and on the spur of the moment, not always a wise move, I persuaded the gallery owner to look at it. His initial comment was complimentary, but he went on to give me a lecture on the importance of anatomy, which I endured with a fixed smile, not really understanding at the time that he was right. Mike Goldmark was not convinced by the drawing and had put his finger on the cause without a moment's hesitation.

28th September 2010
I decided over the weekend that my latest drawing did not really "work". It is a portrait of a nude woman in my usual medium, crayon on a rough black pastel paper. I thought a blog might help me work it out. Some of the issues are caused by the constraints of the medium, others are to do with the ideas pursued and some are just about seeing.
It will probably clarify matters if I explain a little about how my current drawing style came about. I began this particular journey a little over two years ago, still very much influenced by the great masters of the early twentieth century, but becoming increasingly interested in Tamara de Lempicka, Balthus and Lucien Freud.
Initially I pursued a traditional theme, the nude in the landscape, but anchored it in modern times by including references to power stations, ducting and pipes as indicators of recent technology. This developed so that the nude figure was no longer outside but seated or reclining in a decorated interior with a window overlooking, for example, some cooling towers. These depictions of women in rooms were artificial constructs drawn in a highly stylised manner. It seemed as if they were just paper dolls but I wanted them to be authentic,warm and solid.