The last Brighton paintings

These were the last paintings I did in Brighton, at Smart club with Jamie. I would have sworn that I had absolutely no ideas at this point, but now looking back maybe I did.

These were all on small canvasses, and were exhibited at the Elementree Studios pop-up shop in the Laines in Brighton in May 2018. The show started as part of Open House, but ended up being open until about mid-July. It was a time of positivity, when we got together with some old friends, and made some new ones. We took it in turns to man the shop, and sometimes did some painting there. I sold quite a few paintings, including the big Wheatley one which I wish I still had now..but isn’t that always the way? Not only because he is no longer with us, but also because when you held it up to the light it had the most amazing effect from the combination of brush strokes and metallic paint.

I’m not sure if this is the finished version , as I remember fussing with the tail for quite some time. I need to paint another one in remembrance of our beloved puss cat.

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#sillyoldwheatley acrylic on canvas -April 2018. 70x70cm approx

Crow- May 2018

This was done at #smartclub and was purely to put into the shop. I sold it too, the first sale for me. I do like painting crows.

Crow- May 2018Crow- May 2018

 

three snails sitting on a stylised moon painting
snails on the moon

 

I painted this at #smartclub. It was a bit of a rerun on my Jerboas on the moon painting from years ago that I sold, and it turned out it was bought by a lady who ended up being my best friend’s girlfriend. He went to her house and saw it on the wall…that happens a lot. I love finding out who bought my paintings when they are sold from galleries, and not to friends.

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I painted this at the pop-up shop. There was a piece of three dimensional art in the shop which was made from a tuba. I have a great love for the aesthetic qualities of musical instruments, even though I cannot really play any of them. I am still hopeful that one day I might learn to play something. I have a lovely guitar, a full size accordion, a mini accordion, drums, a tambourine, a viola and a toy piano. I am a proficient kazoo player mind you, and I’m not bad on the drums and percussion. One day I hope to have a tuba and a french horn. I also have a penchant for chimera cats…’the face of two beasts’.

Chimera cat and tuba
Acrylic on canvas

 

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Nijo jo cat. Acrylic on canvas 30x30cm approx 2018[/caption]

I painted this from a photograph I took in Japan at Nijo castle. It was the tree’s shadow cast on the wall of the castle, and I added the cat as it was my current motif.

 

charcoal picture of cat on back
wheatley

 

Charcoal drawing of Alan RIP
Charcoal drawing of Alan RIP

After not doing any drawing or painting for months, and wondering whether I was an artist or not anymore, I was inspired by Sophie’s single line drawings and decided to try it with charcoal. The first cat #sillyoldwheatley came out remarkable well considering, and so I decided to try and draw Alan the black cat as well. He was Wheatley’s mate, and was also murdered by the cat killer. I have become friends with his human Kath, and so I gave her this drawing in memory of him.

Hare and moon miniature 20x20cm
Hare and moon miniature 20x20cm

This hare and moon is just a copy of an old painting I did, one that I sold immediately and then missed forever. I could never redo the original as it was so experimental and a thing of chance, but it is an image I have also remade in linocut form and seems to be popular. I thought I might sell it at the pop-up shop which is what i painted it for, but it came back home. I expect I shall give it to someone as a present one day.

hyperspeed
Hyperspeed

This was also done at #smartclub. It was based on a star chart. I started making it up, and then when I looked it up on Google it was actually a thing which I was very pleased about. It was really just a painting for paintings sake but I do rather like it.

the vaguest of timelines. Started a long time ago and finished in 2019[
the vaguest of timelines. Started a long time ago and finished in 2019
This painting was started on a lonely rainy night at the Hangar (the old studio in Providence Place). I was painting the rain and the bright lights on the window. It got left for a long time and then I took it to #smartclub to finish it. I was particularly uninspired at this time, but came up with this reflective timely, where some of the things do not reflect at all. this painting has since been hung the other way up from how it started, and looks better that way. It looks so good in face that someone wants to buy it. Hurrah!

2020…A new dawn!

So it’s 2020, the year that sounds far away in the distant future..practically space age.

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So much has happened since I last posted. 2019 was a terrible year artistically and personally. The disappearance and murder of my muse and loyal friend #sillyoldwheatley left me a shadow of my former self, plagued with depression and anxiety and I did not produce much work in nine months. We did have a couple of #smartclubs when I did manage to do a couple of small paintings but my inspiration seemed to have fled the building with no sign of returning and I was left honestly wondering if that was it. Was it possible that one day you woke up, and you just weren’t an artist any more? I didn’t know what I was, but felt like a bit of a failure mainly in all departments.

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I won’t dwell on that, but it is my reason.

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Help arrived in the name of a move. We left Brighton and moved to Faversham, like the countryside in comparison. From party town to sleepy town, and we love it so much. We have a forest in our garden and we are surrounded by nature and generous spirited people. People told me I should love Brighton, and I knew that technically I should. But somehow I never felt it was my home, and bit by bit it crushed my soul and my creativity. I was ready to give up on everything that I had ever been good at, and did not feel I would ever be able to teach or run workshops again. I had no spark, and no self esteem. I could not wait to get away, I felt like I was trapped in hell.

There was another salvation by way of a pen pal. A series of fortunate events.. . its a long but good story and deserves to be recorded and shared. We had a band play at our wedding, and I got in touch with them to see if i could buy a copy of their CD for my Dad. I was so bowled over that Mark (the guitarist and song writer) sent it as a gift that I offered to try and get them some gigs in Brighton by handing out some CDs to local pubs. This was in January. Following on from this we started messaging regularly and found ourselves becoming ‘virtual’ friends. We started swapping life stories and he sent me a copy of the book he had written about the story of his daughter who has cerebral palsy, and also happens to be a very talented artist. I loved the book and looked forward to meeting Sophie one day. I received a beautiful calendar of her work, and followed her on Facebook ( Dreams on paper) and in time we knew so much about each other that we all practically knew each other before we had even met. I was still living in Brighton, and just about to move to Rochester when the house we wanted fell through. Not to be put off, we got straight off to look at another house that a friend had told us about in Faversham which as it happens was a place I had  been dreaming of moving to even though in actual fact I knew very little about the place. Just that I had a few friends living there and the people seemed extremely friendly whenever we visited. So we decided to go for a complete change and went ahead with the move. Meanwhile it transpired through our daily messaging that Sophie had also lost her artistic mojo and desperately wanted a new art teacher/mentor. As it turns out they live close to Faversham and so after the chaos of moving and unpacking boxes into our new life I finally met Sophie in September and became her teacher.  She has been such an inspiration to me. I think she deserves a separate entry, as I should like to explain exactly how extraordinary and amazing she is.

Since then everything has changed. I started drawing (my stuffed crows mainly) in a large sketchbook and have filled about 50 pages so far. We have set up an instagram account together “sophieandandi’ where we record the work we have done. Suddenly my work features the much avoided and estranged C word… Colour. I have become so addicted to drawing, scribbling and doodling that I cannot quite believe it. It would seem that I’m back!

Squidusa (“old fish face”)

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I started this painting at the workshop many moons ago, but was never happy with her. I spent so many hours struggling with her skin tones. She hung on the wall for six years, pulling that face at me. A few weeks ago, I decided to pull her down and take a brush to her. A few hours later she finally came into being, the sea goddess I had envisaged. Sponsored by Max Factor perhaps…ha ha!

Anyway, to cut a long story short I sold her straight away after her transformation and she has now gone to live at her new abode where she will be loved as she deserves.

Vintage family portraits

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Roger and I are getting married in March and as a result have spent quite some time reflecting on our families. Who to invite, and who will not be able to be there because they are no longer with us. We have both lost our Mums in the past few years and wanted to bring them to the party somehow.

We bought a box of 10 oval canvasses 40x50cm and plan to do five family portraits each. We are painting them in monochrome, the mighty Payne’s grey of course. The photographs I have chosen to work from are all old black and white and I am really enjoying the challenge.

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This is the initial sketch of my brother Robert. I cheated and used a projector for this part. Rather than spending hours struggling with the placement on the canvas, which seems to be much more tricky using an oval format. Robert died of Leukaemia two days before I was born. I was a week late so he missed me, something I have regrets about even though I had no control over the situation. I have always been late for everything ever since, and fully expect that I will be late for my own funeral.

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When I look at this second phase photograph I wish I had left it like this! Typically, I felt the need to make it more finished.

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There is another bit of story behind this painting. My late Nana took this photograph to a professional portrait painter and had it reproduced in colour. She never really liked the result. I can’t remember why, but I’m guessing it just really didn’t look like him.

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This is it…

Anyway I’m hoping I have made a better job of it and have redeemed the situation 45 years on. I think my Nana and my Mum would be very happy with it.

Robert was only three when he died, and he was beautiful. My parents always said he was caring and generous even at such a young age, and that he would have been a wonderful brother. I always wanted a big brother, one that I got on really well with. I would have loved for him to be at our wedding.

RIP Robert John Vincent

 

Cakes… I make them too!

Working at a school for young people on the autistic spectrum I found myself running an edible art club which was of course pretty popular. This progressed into baking club as we all grew in experience and ambition. Turns out after all those years of claiming not to bake, that actually I’m not bad at it! 


More photos of other cakes to follow when I   can find them amongst the thousands on my phone!

Flower arranging…

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When my Mum died,  it seemed appropriate for me to honour her with my artistic skills for one last time and the most obvious medium was flowers. I made the mum one from my brother and I,  and the butterfly one from my Dad. They both came out looking like professional jobs and lasted well. 

I’m wondering if there’s a career in floristry out there for me? !

La Habana

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Havana Life 2016 Acrylic and ink on canvas 60x80cm approx

We went to Cuba in February 2016. Spending a few days in Havana, I found it to be one of those photo a minute places. The decomposing architecture ticked all the inspirational boxes for me. The colours, the lines, the repetitive shapes and their opportunity to get a glimpse of Cuban life beyond the doors and windows. Through every arch was another arch, another door, another window and another gasp of awe. And even though it all looks so run down and dilapidated, the love of the families and the people runs strong and they seemed so happy and proud of their country. I’ve never been anywhere where I felt least like the locals who approached us had an interior motive. Chubby and smiling and honesty. The warmth of the colours reflected the warmth in their hearts. I haven’t quite finished this since I was talked out of drips at  #smartclub but it’s  holding its own as it is so no rush!

 

 

Robot selfies

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Roderick has just got back from his holiday in the part of space just above Skegness and these are just some of the selfies he posted on social media.

Nah, not really. I’ve been lino cutting again.

These are made up from more than one block layered up. Some of them have been through the press four times,

Then I printed the robots separately, and have painstaking cut them all out and used pencils to bring out their eyes and highlights.

Each one is totally unique and a work of art in its own right.

But how much can you charge for a greetings card?

It started with a roll of tape…

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Once upon a time, Roger gave me a roll of brown paper tape.

He was using it to build suits of armour costumes to great effect. Seeing the tape transformed into something quite different was very inspiring, and I knew there were great possibilities for its construction.

Some time later, Gemma gave me an amazing headdress she had found at a car boot sale. Made from card and wire from scratch by an obviously accomplished craftsperson in somewhere in South East Asia, I was really taken with its delicate and intricate design and for want of a more appropriate word,  its fascinating and exotic twiddlyness.

Artists block set in a short while later, and all painting activity came to a grinding halt. I guess I must have been staring at that roll of brown tape  and the headdress for some time before I decided to build a similar headdress of my own. I used brown paper bags as a base and built up strips of tape until it turned into card pretty much. I then added a layer of metallic tissue paper and in some places silvery organza.

I spent hours poring over the separate pieces for the headdress, cutting out the fine details. I made the flowers by cutting out circles, cutting out the petals, scoring them and creasing them to make them more three dimensional. When I think about it I can’t quite believe that I was so dedicated to it. But I realise now that I was throwing myself into a creative pursuit which involved so much concentration that I could be oblivious to the reality of what else was happening at the time. I built that headdress from scratch…It’s verging on weird!

The separate pieces have been in a box for two years, taking up valuable space on my art shelves. So I got them out this weekend and without any more deep thought on the actual construction and its execution, I glued them all together and came up with this.

I thought I would want to wear it, but it’s huge, heavy and I should have made it curved, but it’s going to look fabulous on my wall somewhere.

 

Lino printing

I’m so in love with lino cutting and printing. It is so very therapeutic somehow.

We worked so hard…every day for 6 weeks pretty much, preparing for our stall at BAM! Brighton Art Market on the weekend of 21/22nd May. the market was part of the Open House festival on the central trail.

Print fest

This is a collage I put together from four small cuts.

It was a freehand cut, I just started it from one edge to see where it took me.

We had been watching an MC Escher video showing him printing his tessellating woodcuts and I was inspired to try something similar. Though I did not succeed in a tessellation this image bears quite a resemblance to the work of Vasarely and it really is quite effective.

I found the single print image in black and white made my eyes ‘go funny’ and I had accidentally created a kind of optical illusion.