JACK

You may know the Fab Four as John, Paul, George and Ringo.  Well, not where I live, we had Harry, Jack, Blue and Elsa.  They were well known in these parts.  Three Lurchers and a Collie cross.  On any given day we could be seen crossing the meadow, woods and park with the Fab Four or, should I say, the Fast Four. They would run and run and run, in big loops before coming back for treats.  My friends and I had to stop meeting for morning walks because the dogs were all over-exercising and beginning to suffer muscle related problems.  I miss those days.

Jack & Elsa

This is Jack and he is fast and funny and if you stand still chatting for too long he can jump as high as your shoulder from a standing position just to remind you he’s there … and bored … and wants to go home to crawl under the covers.

Jack

Jack bed 3.1

 

 

Mosaic Pot

I really made the most of the warm start to Autumn by spending more time in my workshop during the evenings.  I started this mosaic pot earlier in the year but a busy summer stopped me from finishing it.

Pot wip

Once the teal-coloured tiles were stuck down I chose lilac-purple tiles to compliment and achieve the Moroccan feel I was looking for.

Pot done

Once again I chose black grout to really bring out the colours.

After planting up the pot with Purple Flame cyclamen I’m really happy with the result. This is going to give much needed colour to my patio over the coming months.

Autumn 2018

What a glorious start to Autumn.  The temperature has been perfect, the colours have been amazing and the sunsets have been incredible.

Tree

Tree surgeon

Pigeon

Not a cloud in sight.

1716

Tree light

Cone

Ivy

All of a sudden it’s turned a bit nippy, the clocks have turned back and the light has changed.  I’m fighting the need to hibernate, the only way to keep me awake is to make more art :)

Luna y Dino

Around 49 years ago eleven year old me was standing on the open platform of the 168 bus waiting to get off at the next stop.   There had obviously been some altercation between me and the dark haired Spanish schoolgirl standing in the aisle – but for the life of me I don’t remember what it was about – although I do remember surprising her (and myself) by sticking my finger in her Home Economics pudding and ending the argument on the spot.  She was livid and I got off the bus.

That was the start of a friendship that has lasted throughout the years, across different countries, with never another crossed word.

Last weekend I made a surprise visit to Inma’s home in Spain with two paintings to celebrate her 60th birthday.

Luna Painting complete

This is Luna, she’s a really sweet Miniature Yorkshire Terrior but don’t be fooled, she rules the roost!

Dino Painting complete

This is Dino, the new addition to the family.  He’s full of bounce and love sticks!

Of course, I asked them all if they wouldn’t mind posing with their paintings for me ….. just for a second!

All dogs_Fotor_Collage

Oh, come on Dino, no sad faces – you only had to put down the squeaky toy for a second!

Do you remember Birra from my April 2016 post Pequeño Perro Negro? (I’ll link it if I can find out how!)  I couldn’t forget a quick photo of him too.

My stay was short and sweet, just for the weekend, but it was lovely to catch up again.  Plenty of good food and drink – but no finger dipping in puddings this time ;)

Click the link below to see to my journey to Spain with the paintings:

PERSONALISED PET PORTRAITS & MY TRAVEL VLOG TO SPAIN

Frida Kahlo

I don’t know when I first became aware of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo and, if I’m honest, I don’t know what I like more, her paintings or her image – because she was also a work of art – but I do know that I was thrilled when I learned an exhibition was coming to the V&A London and I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale.

I remember my son coming home from school and telling me his class were studying Frida’s work and I remember telling my daughter how much I loved Frida’s floral headbands and months later her presenting me with a handmade headband to thank me for all the lifts backwards and forwards along the motorway to Uni.Frida catlo_Fotor_CollageI have two portraits of Frida, a ‘Frida Catlo’ pin (cats and dogs are another obsession), matchboxes and Christmas decorations all bearing Frida’s image.  My DVD “Frida” staring Salma Hayek has been played many times.  I believe I’m a little bit obsessed!  As you can imagine, I was quite excited about the exhibition, but then again, so were many others.

Frida & Me2

We had lunch in a nearby restaurant and then rushed over to the beautiful Victoria & Albert Museum.  I didn’t have the confidence to ‘dress up’ in my Frida headband but I was so happy to see that other ladies did.  One lady in the gardens was wearing a pink outfit with matching pink hair and floral band.

Frida garden

Frida headress frame

Inside the exhibition rooms lots of women wore pompoms, flowers or fancy headbands.  The spirit of Frida was very much alive.  It was in stark contrast to many of the exhibits which dealt with her disabilities;  polio as a child, the bus crash as a teenager and the subsequent operations that followed throughout her life.  French writer, André Breton once described her art as ” .. a ribbon around a bomb”.  I felt like this could also be applied to Frida.  She said of herself “I have enjoyed being contradictory”.

Her costumes and jewellery were exquisite;  seeing her make-up, perfumes and nail polishes was insightful, but I felt seeing her medicines was a little intrusive.  Her medical notes lay in a cabinet for all to see and I couldn’t help wondering if that was something that should have been kept private.  It felt a little like the exhibition was feeding the beast of celebrity and we, the paying public, were eating it all up.

I learned a little more about Frida Kahlo, her relationships and her life.  There are many, many books available telling her story but it really hit home seeing the prosthetic leg, plaster corsets and the body braces she wore.  The pain she felt must sometimes have been unbearable and yet she found the strength to paint, she dressed her hair with ribbons or flowers and her body in beautiful clothes and even matched her nail polish and lipstick.

Frida poster

Photography was not allowed in the exhibition so I visited the shop and bought lots of postcards, a poster and some little Mexican figures and I came home with even more respect for the Mexican artist (if that’s even possible).

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Now I would like to have a moan about the exhibition, or should I say the curating of the exhibition.  At this point I would like to remind anyone reading this that these are my opinions and this is my little space on the internet, so I’m going to voice my thoughts.  Someone else might visit the exhibition and have an entirely different experience or point of view.  Don’t let my opinion stop you from going.

When we arrived at gallery 38, our tickets were scanned and we were allowed through the door – and this is where my disappointment began.   Just beyond the doors was an information panel outlining the exhibition which was being read by at least ten people, the small entryway was almost filled with people arriving, reading at different speeds and causing a bottleneck.   We then entered the first room which had framed images lining the walls with information panels that were printed in what seemed like font size 10.  To read the image details I had to stand about a foot or so away, but that was not always possible because virtually everyone there was of a ‘certain’ age and probably needed a larger font and was also trying to read up-close.  At one point a rather large lady even rested her breast on my arm in order to lean over and get a better view!  Bustling for space continued throughout the room so after a while we skipped ahead and entered the next room.  To add to the small font size problem, the lighting here was so bad it made it almost impossible to read the information.  Even with reading glasses on I still couldn’t focus on the writing.

I understand the need to protect the exhibits from light but I also think there must be alternative solutions.   If the flow of visitors were fed through the entrance at 2 or 3 minute intervals it would allow more time and space to study the exhibits.  The information panels should be printed on a

MUCH LARGER FONT

and perhaps they could also be illuminated.  There also seems to be too many tickets sold for each 15 minute time slot because we were continuously jostling for space and needed to check we weren’t about to step on anybody when we moved along.

The Victoria & Albert Museum is light and bright with ceilings seeming touching the sky but the gallery where the exhibition was held was dark, claustrophobic and hot.  A few years ago I visited the exhibition “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” and I left with a terrible migraine, probably for the same reasons.

On a positive note, unless you are able to travel to La Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico you may never get the opportunity to see Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up and if you are a fan that would be a terrible shame.

Fidget aka ‘The Fudge’

It’s so nice to meet the ‘sitter’ of a portrait before I start to paint.  I always work from a photograph and if I haven’t met the pet it’s sometimes hard to gauge their personality.  When I dropped off the portrait of Tèa in May I was lucky enough to meet her brother Fidget, a Pomeranian/Spitz.  Even with his mohawk haircut, he is just a bundle of fluffy loveliness.

Fidget

It’s easy to see why he has the nickname ‘The Fudge’ because he is so sweet.

When I deliver a commission there’s always ‘that moment’ when the client peels back the brown paper to reveal the portrait – What if it’s not what they wanted?  What if they don’t like it?  What if I haven’t captured ‘the look’?   My fears were allayed when I got home and my phone went ping.  When I opened the notification and saw this I could’ve cried.

Fidget smiling

HE LOOKS LIKE HE’S SMILING !!

Fidget, Tea & Paris

Fidget has now joined the gallery wall alongside Paris and Tèa :)

 

TÈA

My latest commission is a beautiful little chihuahua called Tèa.

Tea

Just like her ‘sister’ Paris’ painting from December, this portrait has a spotlight background.

It was so sweet to actually meet Tèa when I delivered the painting in time for her Dad’s birthday last week.

Papier-mâché impala

The beauty of papier-mâché is – if you don’t like it, stick something over the top!

Some of you may remember me posting a photo of a cardboard impala covered in a dark red paper ….

Red impala

As much as I loved the red paper, something wasn’t working for me, so I found a lighter, brighter paper and covered it again. this time in a pretty blue.

Impala blue

But it was still lacking something.  Eyes?

Some time ago I bought two candle holders from a charity shop; each with three roses on the base.  I had intended using them for a mosaic but I thought they’d be perfect for this.  Anyway, after enlisting the help of my husband and a Dremel I now had a pair of peepers.

Impala

Well, in actual fact I think they look like fluttery eyelashes!

Cocoa the Cat

For my latest commission I was sent an envelope full of great photos of a very handsome black cat and given total freedom to chose which one I wanted to paint.

Cocoa photos

It looks to me like Cocoa loves his garden.  Perhaps he’s out there pondering why black cats get such bad press.

Cocoa on easel

I love the way the light is bouncing off his shiny coat.

Cocoa final

Me, Samba & Cocoa

Before the painting left to go to its new home my own little black cat gave her approval :)

Paris

My next commission was to paint Paris, a 13 year old Staffie.  I’ve never met Paris but I was sent lots of photos and was asked to paint one specific pose and background.  The background requested was a spot-light effect, which I’ve never done before.

So I watched YouTube tutorials and learned about a product called an ‘Extender’ which allows more movement of acrylic paint before it dries.  It also allows you to blend and smooth-out brush strokes.  With this medium the acrylic paint performs just like oil paint and is workable for a longer period of time.

I visited my local art shop to buy the canvas and invested in a bottle of Extender, went home and practised, practised, practised.  At first I thought the spot-light looked like a halo so I practised more and blended more and eventually I was happy with the effect.

Paris

I’m so glad I was asked to paint Paris because I feel it’s pushed me to learn a new paint effect which I know I’ll use again.

After Christmas I received a lovely thank you message from Paris’ Mum together with photos of the canvas framed and hung.

Paris in frame