Monday, 25 February 2008


I’m sorry to say that I haven’t started anything new recently. I started a portrait one evening, nearly four weeks ago now, and haven’t touched it since! One thing I have been doing is touching up “finished” paintings. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Both “She’s on Fire” and “Cloud Nine” have really been bugging me. They were irritating to look at because they didn’t seem right somehow.

In “She’s on Fire” I felt that her elbows needed to be raised slightly. Of course, once I had done that I then needed to try to blend the background in, which was easier said than done and resulted in me changing quite a lot of the background. The camera doesn't show the true colours at all.

In “Cloud Nine” I raised her jaw line slightly, and I’ve changed the shading on his face because I think people thought the shading was actually his jaw line and so kept telling me his face was too small and hers was too big. I’ve also tried to make their hair wispier around the edges – they are supposed to be cloudy after all.

Any suggestions are always very welcome, except anything along the lines of “Don’t give up your day job!”

In other news, I have been trying to find an evening class to attend but so far haven’t had any success.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Cloud Nine

Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. As I watched the TV one night I saw a clip of a programme with blue sky and fluffy clouds in the back ground, and I thought to myself “That cloud looks like a person’s face” – and that was it. I immediately had the idea of clouds in the shape of two people in love about to kiss.

I tried to paint this piece solely from imagination to start with, and I wish I had kept a photo of it for you to all have a good laugh at! As hideous as it was, they probably looked more like clouds than they do here! I decided to paint over it and start again, this time using one of our wedding photos as a guide. I wanted the woman’s head to be tilting away slightly though, and in the photo my head doesn’t, so I found her face much more difficult than his.

One important thing I have learnt from reading other art blogs is that even the most experienced artists ask each other for advice on their pieces from time to time. I’ve been a little stubborn up until now; determined to do it all my own way. But I’ve learnt that asking for advice doesn’t mean I’m no good. I am, after all, just learning. If an experienced artist can be humble enough to ask for advice, then I should be able to as well.

Thank you to Philippa and Anita for your advice on this piece.

Provisionally completed 18th February. Acrylic on canvas, 50 cm x 40 cm.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Found Art Tuesday

Ok, please don’t laugh at me… alright, you can if you like. I really wanted to have a go at this Found Art thing; it’s such an exciting idea. What a lovely way to brighten someone’s day!

So, the theme this week is History (see Found Art Tuesday in the side bar). When I think of history I think of old sepia photographs of family groups, or cobbled lanes and old buildings – none of which I am capable of painting yet, and if I was it would involve too much effort to leave on a park bench!

I thought about the history of our town. This area was at one time well known for its shoe and boot industry, and actually some of the film “Kinky Boots” was filmed in a village not far from here. So I put together… (drum roll please)… Bootylicious!

It’s not a very… vegetarian-friendly looking piece is it?

This is my third attempt – the first one looked like a Christmas stocking, and I tried flowers on the second one but they were hideous! The cow and pie represent things from our town’s history as well – the cattle markets and the pie factory – all things that are long gone. And I got to use some of my canvas from the discarded Red piece!

Anyway, I plan to meet up with Anita tomorrow who has also made a piece for Found Art Tuesday, and we will decide where to leave our pieces!

In other news, I finished another painting today which I will post a picture of later this week.

Acrylic on card.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Rediscovering Red

I tried to paint an abstract piece recently, using different shades of red. Unfortunately it was a complete disaster! I found it very difficult to fight the urge to produce something contrived, and just be free and expressive. In all honesty, all I really wanted to do was paint the whole canvas red. Just plain red. I should have just followed those feelings in the first place instead of trying to create something that would be visually more interesting to others.

When I was in my mid teens I loved the colour red. I probably wore it in one way or another most days, if not every day, even if it was just a red bow in my hair. Then for some reason I seemed to lose interest in the colour. Over the years my loss of interest has turned into a loathing, but I’ve never really known why; I just hated red. For years I haven’t worn the colour; I don’t even own any red clothing or accessories. I have no red furnishings in the house. I don’t even wear red lipstick or nail varnish. I’ve refused to buy a car simply because it was red.

In my introductory post I wrote about the day I was refused entry into Art College back in 1988, and the devastating effect that had on me. Although this experience had stopped me from being creative for nearly 20 years, I never fully realised just how deeply it affected me until my recent artistic inclinations forced me to analyse my feelings about it. I thought back to that day and tried to remember more about it. Suddenly I remembered something that I hadn’t given any thought to previously – I was wearing the colour red. Everything I wore that day was red – a white dress with red dots (it was the ‘80’s), red jacket, red shoes, red handbag, red bow in my hair – it was my favourite outfit. Now I understand why I hate so much a colour that I used to love. It’s taken me nearly 20 years to make that connection. The subconscious mind is an amazing thing.

Now that I am trying to overcome that rejection, I am trying to look at red in a different light. I realise now that my negative feelings towards that colour are not simply a matter of taste. I suppose it’s no coincidence that so far nearly every one of my paintings has featured the colour red. My first painting, entitled “Release Me”, is primarily about depression and suicide, but could equally symbolise my desire to be released from the negative emotions about my art, and the artistic suicide that the Art College rejection prompted.

Now I have to work at building my confidence again, which seems to swing from one extreme to the other. More time has passed since that rejection than before it, so I feel unable to just pick up from where I left off; I feel like I am starting all over again. I never used to paint anyway, so that is a whole new experience for me, but I haven’t yet had the confidence to pick up a pencil or go back to oil pastels. I’m sure I will in time.

So you see my relationship with the colour red is a complicated one. I love red and I hate red; red is fun and playful, but it is also angry and destructive; it’s warm and sensual, and yet harsh and brash; it’s a bold, confident colour, and yet to me it symbolises rejection and failure.

I’ve completely painted over my abstract piece in Crimson now, but in day light the shapes underneath still show through in places. Where the paint is at it’s thickest the texture is lovely and I love just running my hands over it. I’m not happy about the shapes showing through though so I will cut out portions of the canvas and use them in future pieces. I may paint this piece again on a clean canvas though.

I know some people question whether abstract art is really art, and I have felt that way myself in the past. I see now that abstract art is simply an expression of inexplicable emotions. It draws you in and evokes feelings without you knowing how or why. Intellectually there is little to understand, by either the viewer or the artist. Its only meaning is how it makes you feel.

Friday, 8 February 2008

She’s on Fire

Inspired by the Craig David song of the same name, this is my first happy piece! I have deliberately not painted any feet as I felt they would dictate which way she was facing, and I wanted to leave it up to the viewer’s imagination to decide if this is a side-on view of her back or her front. Also, does she have one leg straight and one slightly bent, or is she stepping one foot in front of the other?

This began as a fairly easy project and then turned into a complete nightmare. The fire seemed to lose its “fire” and began to look dingy, and the hands looked like E.T’s. By the time I had finished it I wished I had painted her with her wrists tied together and entitled it “Death by Fire”! I’m happy with the outcome now though. Unfortunately I don't have much of a talent for photography! The colours are deeper than in the photo.

This 5th painting was provisionally completed in the early hours of 6th February. Acrylic on canvas, 50cm x 40cm.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Screams - Part One


I originally intended this piece to be part of the Violent Death series. Like the other paintings in the series, this should have been painted in grey and red – the red being used as blood spatter across the canvas – but a friend of mine took a liking to this piece before it was finished, and on her request I decided not to include the blood, and she now has it hanging in her home. I feel that without the blood spatter this piece takes on a different meaning, and indeed this piece meant something completely different to my friend than what I had intended. For this reason I have labelled this piece as Part One. I may or may not paint Part Two with the blood spatter at some point. This will give me the opportunity to improve the position of the crouching person.

I still have another three ideas for paintings in the Violent Death Series, but even before completing this piece I had begun another couple of paintings with very different subjects. I’m sure I will return to this theme to complete the series, but for now I feel the time is right for me to explore different subjects and colours, especially as I am feeling happier now, and less angry!

My 4th painting, completed on 31st January. Acrylic on canvas, 50cm x 40cm.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


From the series “Violent Death”

I was particularly angry on the day I painted Rage, so I took myself off into the kitchen and got out a knife, a canvas, and lots of red paint!

One friend recently said to me “Why don’t you paint nice things; it might make you feel better?” But being able to express negative emotions in this way does make me feel better! I would recommend it to anyone; it really is great therapy and leaves me feeling much calmer. I have found that after spending some time releasing these emotions in this way I have been able to move on to paint positive subjects.

I don't think that painting such violent subjects indicates that I could be a violent person - quite the opposite in fact. I think this is a constructive way of releasing destructive emotions. It's the ones who always paint happy things that you need to watch out for!

My 3rd painting, painted on 24th January. Acrylic on canvas, 50cm x 40cm.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The Shadows

From the series “Violent Death”

I suppose this is my first “proper” painting, involving painting shapes and a degree of colour graduation. Obviously I didn’t want to attempt anything too complicated too early on, as at this early stage I think it’s important to try to build up my confidence by gradually increasing the difficulty level and being able to achieve what I have set out to do.

My 2nd painting, completed on 18th January. Acrylic on canvas, 50cm x 40cm.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Release Me

From the series “Violent Death”

For a long time, my friend Anita has been trying to encourage me to paint. It had never even occurred to me to seriously try to paint, and I just laughed at her suggestion.

I have only two memories of painting at school, which was over 20 years ago. Once was with poster paints when I painted a woman with a big cleavage – and that’s really the only detail I remember! I don’t think it was a particularly fantastic piece of work; I don’t recall any shading or anything particularly expressive about it. The other time was with water colours and I just vaguely remember being shown how to drag the brush across the entire width of the paper again and again to create the sky. It was a rather dull lesson. In fact, neither experience filled me with any enthusiasm, so it’s no surprise that I never picked up a paint brush again.

Although I had felt inspired by Philippa’s work to be creative again, I had never felt inspired to paint in my whole life! Then I saw these paintings on Loaded Brush. The violent nature of the paintings struck a chord with me, particularly the second one, “Blown Away”, as I had been feeling pretty angry and aggressive at the time. The pieces were so powerful and yet so simple.

I decided I wanted to create something expressive, and I had an idea for a painting. The same day I also saw Philippa’s series of paintings entitled "Unrest" and I decided to develop my idea into a series of my own entitled “Violent Death” – I know; it's pretty optimistic for someone who had never seriously painted before to decide to paint a whole series! But my ideas were pretty basic so I was confident that I could manage them. I wanted to depict some of the rage and desperation I was feeling, and also to draw attention to the violent world around us.

I painted my first piece on 16th January and it is entitled “Release Me”. Acrylic on canvas, 50cm x 40cm.

Friday, 1 February 2008

The Windows to Your Soul


This was my first piece in just over 19 years. Finding the time to be creative wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be, so although I started it around late August – early September, it wasn’t finished until 7th November 2007. Even now, it is still waiting to be fired!

Although I had created a face in relief form before, this was the first time I had tried to create a piece to look like a specific person. This piece is of Philippa, who inspired me to be creative again after so many years, and who, through her work, taught me the real meaning and purpose of art.