Sunday, 30 August 2009

Soft Footfall on the Forest Floor

I cannot believe that I have not shown you my little Mezzotints. It just occurred to me as i am currently working on an update of this image.

However, I do believe I told you about this method of printing in an earlier blog. It is the type made on a copper plate which is all roughed up all over and then you have to rub back into it with a burnishing tool to smooth the areas that you wish to print white. Just to confuse you (and me) as a two colour print you have to make two plates you must....I am scratching my head now....I cannot intellectualise it and cannot explain how it's done right now because i cannot picture it myself. If I was doing it I could figure it out, but right now I am scratching my head.

i got it!
Plate one - the green plate - smooth out what you want to stay white.
Plate two - the black one - smooth out everything that you want to stay white and green!

But that is not the point. The point is I love the effect of these prints. You must agree they are particularly yummy. All that wonderful graininess, like an old film. And the darkness that hints of hidden corners and mysterious things lurking there.

They lend themselves beautifully to light and shade - with no beginning and no end, but done well there are gradations of black through your greys to white.

I wanted to do Mezzotint for years, every since I saw my first one. i had read about the process, so had an idea of how it worked and finally did a workshop at the Cork Printmakers (with John Aherne) just before I left Ireland. I was not aware that you could make a mezzotint with colours - i had only ever thought in black and white for this technique. It was quite laborious doing the two colour print, but very rewarding. difficult to get the plates lined up (registered) but when it worked it was very satisfying.

It was so funny at the workshop - there were about 8 artists or so and once John had told us the rules of the studio and gave us materials and tools we started to work and a silence descended over us for the next two days as we scraped and rubbed. The only time you heard voices was when one of us rolled a print through the press - then everyone gathered round and there were appreciative oohs and aahs! It was really fun. But very boring for John! We were all so keen and so attentive, therefore we had very few questions. He should have brought a good book to read.

Seriously though, I actually thought he was a very good teacher - very clear in his instruction and very encouraging, while also pointing out ways of improving the technique and which tools to use etc.

As i mentioned in the first paragraph - I have had a wonderfully productive weekend on my own here. Not lonely, but missing having my man come home in the evening - It is more fun with two! I have been working on on my two linocut plates, but me being me I got a bit excited about my next linocut - i know - so typical! I haven't even finished the first ones yet and I am already onto the next project - But that is just the way I work, famine or feast, there will come the lean times when I cannot get motivated at all so "Bring it on!" I say.

Right - back to my desk - got a drawing to finish and some cutting to do.

I hope you enjoy my little print

Friday, 28 August 2009

Sculpture proposal and gluttony

Today I am completely absorbed in cutting out, not one but two lino cuts. i know i am a complete glutton but I am lost to it.

Hence I am not even going bother blogging today! i am just too happy and productive in other circles. But do not despair, as Vic is away this weekend i may get in a replacement on Saturday or Sunday.

Oh heck! let me see if I can find a picture for you at least to brighten the afternoon!

There you go - a wildcard if ever there was one. Working title "Cow Lady" It was a proposal for one of those fruitless public sculpture commissions that I had no luck with! I would like to see that in the market square in any small town in Ireland - or anywhere else. It would give people something to think about, no?

That's it - that's all you get today

see you tomorrow!

Thursday, 27 August 2009


A very slow day. i seem to have accomplished almost nothing. I have not even made the bed!
I have had a walk and done my Spanish lesson for the day. So that is something. And I have made a big pot of soup to get me through the weekend without having to do too much cooking. I am only cooking for one this weekend as Vic is away until Tuesday.

I had planned to be very productive but for some reason i did not sleep very well and then got up to see Vic off on the 5.oo am Flybuss from the Fiskepiren. I came home as I felt it was a bit dark still for a walk and fiddled about a bit on the computer and then got absolutely starving so I made myself some breakfast. Then I did my first Spanish segment, but found my eyes were closing so at about 7.00 am i went back to bed and slept until 11.30!!!! I must have needed it. But obviously that took rather a large chunk out of my day and at this point I have not even put pencil to paper, or cutter to lino, or whatever.

Now I am just waiting for my soup to cook and am going to hang around for Bernardo - our Spanish Architect to ring at around 5.00. So when I finish writing this I will set up a work station for some lino cutting and even make a small start. With no one coming home to me for his tea I can work through the evening, or as long as I like. And I don't even have to make the bed, not even until Tuesday if i don't want to. You see how I depend on him really to keep me together! I prefer it when it is made myself.

This sculpture was an attempt to make something of a beautiful form. It is seed-like or pod-like, based in nature and growth and out of the top two little hands are growing and stretching upwards. It is not a complicated piece.

It is not a perfect piece though - I think it is too heavy for the size - the walls needed to be thinner. I liked the form and I liked the colour and I experimented with some silver leaf on it as well. I like playing around with surface decoration. Bronze is always thought of as a noble metal and most people think it should be left natural or given a traditional patination but I remember an artist I looked at while in college - his name escapes me now - he used to make female figures mainly, and quite erotic. They were cast in bronze and then he painted them! I imagine it was some sort of enamel paint or gloss, again the details are a bit hazy there. I think I need to do a little bit of research to remind myself of some of those details now. The point is, he just did what he wanted to get his result - not something to please somebody else.

Anyway - getting back to my own piece, I also experimented with the base of it, often an unconsidered afterthought. In this instance I wanted the base to be organic and in keeping with the actual sculpture I also wanted it to sort of disappear so that the sculpture would look like it was floating and the whole form could be seen, so this was one of my experimental resin castings - you remember, the ones which taught me an awful lot about the pitfalls and difficulties of this medium. this was the piece that I had to cast twice because the first one turned yellow as it overheated.

So, a good learning curve. But is it a good sculpture?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Yes indeed - you have seen this picture before. But the last time it was just a sketch, an unfinished drawing. Now I have nestled the pupa into a bed of dry oak leaves and acorns to protect her from the winter cold.

I must say I am starting to like this new way of drawing that is evolving. Yes, it is a bit darker but it gives such great texture to the image, like static or flakes of atmosphere.

Ever since my art teacher at school (who was brilliant by the way - Ted Akimoto at Munich American High School) spoke to us about the atmosphere, I have been fascinated by what it might contain. I have yet to work out a way of showing this properly and in a way that is not just literal, but may be on the other hand. He described it to explain how the distance is portrayed in paintings using more blue and grey colours as a landscape recedes. But I think i stopped paying my full attention as I started imagining all that pollen, dust, insects and water vapour floating around in the air.

I love it - it makes such a solid mass of life and stuff all around us. We do not wander round in a vacuum. Well of course it is not a vacuum because then we would all be dead. What I mean is that we do not wander around in just good clear air - there are all sorts of other things flying around as we weave our way in between them and they between us.

So perhaps these new drawings are unconsciously a way of showing that. But as it is unconscious I will never know.

Now, what was I thinking about.......

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Another busy day.

My Spanish lessons are coming on a treat after i got hold of some new audio lessons for my Ipod. I will not try to dazzle you with my fluency in Spanish - because I am far from that, but the exciting thing about these new tapes is that they use real Spanish speakers - the other one I had - which is great in its own way - does not. At this stage I have some rudiments of the language but i really need to tap into the rhythms of Spanish as it is spoken and come to terms with the fact that real Spanish speakers do not speak slowly and clearly for you, but rattle off the words and run them together. Even at that I will still have to come to grips with the dialect spoken in Malaga, which is even less distinct, or so I am told.

So now I start the day with my bicycle ride - out to the Mostvatnet to cycle round the lake. Then it is back home for a pot of coffee and my first half hour of Spanish. I like to do it in small modules as I find my concentration starts to wane after a short time. In the evening when I take my brisk walk around the harbour I plug into the Ipod again and do my second lesson of the day. I did an extra half hour at lunchtime today with the reader, but am not sure that i will do that every day - you cover a lot of ground with that part in a short space of time so probably once or twice a week will suffice for that.

You see we only have four months left before we head out to Spain for good so I need to be regimented now. That is a deadline and i thrive on deadlines!

Obviously I then went on to finish off this drawing of Vic with that darned moth again. This one did not go so well for me - but I think I pulled it round in the end. I had to do a lot more drawing so it has become darker and denser. It is interesting learning more and more about the materials that I am currently using and getting the hang of how to use them to create the effect that i wish to achieve. Even at that there are going to be days that things will not go right for me, but those are the joys.

I actually finished another drawing today too. I will save that for you tomorrow. But you see I have been productive.

So you see how important a deadline is for me - my end of sojourn exhibition is planned for the end of November so that is less than three months away now and I still have a multitude to do!

Changing the subject slightly. There is another really cool thing that has happened to me in the last month or two. I have begun to read again. When I was a child I grew up in a very bookish family. My parents were always reading as were my brother and two sisters - I was a bit slower to pick up the book. In fact I was very slow learning how to read. I did not get the hang of it until i was 9. My mother was beside herself with worry about it. She tried me with glasses and i think it was whispered that i was a bit slow, you know, they call it a learning disability in these trendy times. And I think in fact it was - but not in the sense that I was backward. i remember just not thinking that it was very important to be able to read. Add to that the fact that I had and still have a bit of a problem conceptualising things. I can reason it out a bit better now, but when i was little i just liked looking at clouds and feathers and things - and buying umbrellas of course.

Anyway then I did read quite a lot of children's books that we had in the house - all the classics, A little Princess, Charlotte's web, Green Smoke, Five children and It etc and I absolutely adored all of the books by Alan Garner. Of course i loved the big books of fairytales that we had: The brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and the Russian Fairy tales (which book I still possess). In fact i probably did read quite a lot unbeknownst to myself. i graduated on to Agatha Christie of naturally - very enjoyable.

In my mid teens and twenties i was a really avid reader. I read everything and after moving to Ireland frequented the mobile library that came to the village every Thursday. I had my son in tow then and we spent many a happy hour picking out books to bring home. I remember being addicted to Thomas Hardy in those days and Oscar Wilde - but he was an ongoing love affair really.

Then I suddenly stopped - probably at around 30 years of age. I think my brain just died. I was a wife and mother and working at rotten jobs and i was just plain tired too. I tried to read a book every so often but found it very hard to concentrate.

When i went to college I only read textbooks for essays and so forth and that continued as I embarked on my lecturing career. I almost had an aversion to books at that point - i wanted to do other things than stick my nose in a book in my free time.

So years have gone by and now I am 49 and finally living a life again of some regularity that does not involve constant studying and homework and I really am not a great watcher of television, but you need to have some entertainment in the evening - so i borrowed a book from the library. And i read it. And then I borrowed another and read that one too. And suddenly I have read lots of books and I think of myself as a reader again. i have not trouble concentrating and if i get a book that does not enthrall me from the first few pages i just put it on the reject pile and take it back to the library unread.

It is wonderful! such a wonderful feeling of going into other worlds again and losing myself in other people's lives. One thing i will say though is that I have forgotten which are the good books to get out and I have been reading rather a lot of books with very miserable stories which do not seem to have a proper ending (but that might be a modern trend). I find that most unsatisfactory, but will probably get better at it again. I like books about people with problems, but I like them to solve them and learn something on the way. I must say I do like a happy ending but am not averse to a good cry on the way.

Oh dear I have gone on. Probably because I did not blog yesterday and so had everything all bottled up inside. Well the genie is out of the bottle now so I can leave you and go for a quick walk and a Spanish lesson - although it will be in the rain :-(

Monday, 24 August 2009

A Note:

I would like to apologise for not blogging today.

I had a real admin. morning and this afternoon a sick tummy which has rather slowed me down. It is Monday anyway so what other excuse do i need in fact :-)

I have a drawing almost complete for your perusal tomorrow, so will write then

Friday, 21 August 2009

self scanning, wind and packing

This is what I feel like today!

A bit confused, a bit hungover, a bit under pressure!

Got so much to do, but my brain (and body) is just not functioning.

We got an unexpected text last evening, just as we were noshing down on a little starter of Tortilla chips and a really garlicy, oniony dip accompanied by a nice glass of red wine. The text was an invitation to nip down to the Munken for a quick drink or two with some of Vic's mates. Little did I realise that it was Thursday - 2 for 1 in the Munken on a Thursday night! Suddenly there I was with two Vodka and Cokes in front of me! It wasn't my fault I swear!

We had already had a drink or two at home as well, thinking that it was just going to be a nice quiet evening chilling in the comfort of our own four walls.

It was a strange day yesterday - there was a peculiar, very strong wind blowing, but it was really hot like the Mistral, Sirocco, Foehn, Chinook or whatever you wish to call it. I had little rivulets of sweat running down the backs of my legs, and that was just after an easy stroll into town for some groceries. You could tell that it was going to bring something with it. Not Mary Poppins unfortunately, but rain perhaps, or thunder and lightening.

The rain did come a bit later on, luckily we were both indoors by that time, as it hammered down. It did not last too long and did nothing to dispel the electric atmosphere although I thought I did hear a small rumble of thunder.

That was while we were having the first drink at home. Then we went out and while we were in the Munken there was another torrential downpour and what I thought was a terrific clap of thunder, but it might have been someone fainting upstairs - I will never know. But again, by the time we came out it was all clear again, which makes a welcome change. I cannot tell you how many times I have stepped out of this flat after looking out the window at the sky, smiling at the sun and by the time I get down the four steps to the front door it is drizzling again!

The sun is shining today and the wind appears to have dropped. I don't really know how warm it is yet as I have the balcony door closed as the painters are outside - and in fact they have painted our own balcony now. But I think I might take a stroll into town with my camera to take a few photos. I have been eying the Icelandic poppies that grow in every nook and cranny as they have developed little elongated seed heads. These are already brown and judging by the state of the tips of them - perforated - they have already spread their seeds to the four winds. Which is great as it means that next year there will be an equally impressive show of orange and yellow in all the untended bits of Stavanger.

We were only speaking last night about the severe shortness of time we have left here now and how I really need to pack in some more photography before we are gone for good. I won't have the chance again and Stavanger really has some beautiful and very characterful things to see

I started packing yesterday. A little bit previous you might think, but actually it is the first phase of packing. Vic is going home to the UK at the end of next week and is going to take some of my stuff with him. Let me explain:

When I came over to Norway - all those months ago now - I knew I could only bring my baggage allowance with me, but of course I needed more than one pair of shoes and one jacket. I am not a man! So I started posting parcels of clothes and provisions before I left Ireland. I think there were five in all and each one weighed about 10 or 12 kilos, if I remember rightly. Now, at the other end of our sojourn here I am posed with the same problem - not to mention that of course I have bought some new clothes while here as well as art supplies etc etc - you know what it is like the way things accumulate over time.

Planning ahead, Vic has two trips home before December and I have one trip to Spain so I am packing up the first installment of my stuff for his first trip next week.

Our final trip out together on the 20th of December we may still have to look at booking an extra bag each - there is still all the electronic equipment, laptops, harddrives etc. I really wish I had a simpler more streamlined existence!

I must say we are both looking forward to having all our stuff in one place finally. The itinerant lifestyle is great in one way, but not if you accumulate stuff like I do, and in fact, even though he thinks he is so superior to me in this matter, Vic too has loads of stuff and I would venture to say even more clothes than me!

So on that note - and probably setting the tone for this evening's 'discussions' with himself I will leave you, and wish you a very lovely weekend.

Me, I will have to peel my face off the scanner and get up and down to business!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Something in His Eye

I am not sue what happened here - I will leave any interpretation up to yourselves, but I think I have given you enough clues in the past few weeks. If you want some help then you will have to email me to ask.

Obviously this is Vic again. I really am enjoying this rather anal dedication to the study of his face, as well as his neck musculature and also his lapels. Great lapels there!

Ears as well. i have always had trouble with ears, but through dedication and close study I am starting to get the hang of them. When I am brushing my teeth and applying my face cream in the morning I find myself studying the parts of my own ears very closely as well and find to my amazement that there is actually very little difference between my ears and Vic's. Although ironically this painting has no ears in it at all - which rather makes this paragraph a bit pointless!

The progress with each painting is of course the most important thing to me at the moment. If I was not looking for improvement then I would have moved on to the next thing by this time, printing or medal making, but for some reason I seem to have the bit well and truly between my teeth and working really hard at the laying on of paint. Also I am trying to whittle away the caricature look in these portraits and I am happy to say that I think this one succeeds in this where the first ones definitely did not. Progress is always so satisfying don't you think.

Other progress is in the laying on of paint - I was especially happy with the jacket in this painting. I found it very satisfying to combine the reds and blues together and create one unified whole - or so i think. i did use a bit of pen and ink at the end, just along the bottom of the picture, but that was more to create a balance of ink across the whole picture. For the colour it was not necessary.

I have just finished a book about a little girl who throughout her growing up spends a lot of her time drawing and making things and basically living in a visual world. I was impressed with the way the author managed to describe a lot of things that I describe in this blog on a regular basis and also some of the things that I have yet to speak about, but have experienced and feel. She too spoke about the development of her art, not in such an aware way as I do here - because obviously I am much older, but in the way that most of us experience life and living at the time we are doing it - much more intuitively. As I dwell on it the book impresses me more and more as I can completely identify with the girl's development as an artist. Not her life, as that was a million miles away from the life I have lived so far.

I mention this here because reading about the journey (so well articulated) of another artist validates the importance of the work that I do. I could see how important it was in her life and that helps to make me feel that my life and my work is important too.

Sometimes I do not feel so worthy - but today I do and when i write my blog it makes me think about what I am doing in my work, which must be good.

So, if this picture is called "Something in his Eye" then this entry and indeed my whole blog and my whole life really could be called "Something in my Mind's Eye"

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Landscapes of the Skin - and blessings

This is my favourite nude.

She was painted along with all those others while I was still in college. I think this drawing really encapsulates for me the theme I call "Landscapes of the Skin" I don't think the concept needs much explaining when you look at the line of 'hills and valleys silhouetted against a dark sky'.

Sometimes things just work out for you in every way which is of course terribly satisfying. I like very much the fact that the lines of her body are rhythmic and repeating. I also feel quite proud that although the lines are definitely feminine they are not too soft and have a certain angularity to them which therefore makes her a bit more interesting and edgy and not simply accommodating.

Another thing i like very much about the composition of this drawing is the fact that I have drawn a horizontal figure on a portrait format - and it works.

You know the more I look at it the more I think it would make a really good print too - nice balance of dark and light and all that.

Oh dear I am getting carried away with myself - "Self praise is no praise" as someone once said to me - probably my mother.

I have to admit to feeling quite pleased with myself at the moment though - i hope that does not sound boastful, but it is really not meant that way. I only mean that I have been working really hard and really working through an awful lot of ideas. Getting them down and painting them up and hoarding those ideas for further development. So important when there are so many times that the creative juices run completely dry and I wander round the house thinking myself such a failure. But with paintings and ideas in the bag, so to speak, i have something that I can pull out in those times of famine and tell myself that I am not such a failure after all.

And that is my sermon for the day - When things get bad, cast your mind back to some of the successes you had in your life and remind yourself of those, rather than dwelling on the failures. Or as Pongo said to Missis (or was it the other way round) in 'The Hundred and One Dalmatians" or was it "The Starlight Barking" (I think there are a couple of books I need to reread!), he said "Remember to count you blessings"

So on that note i will now go for a walk, learn some Spanish and count my blessings at the same time. Now that's what i call multitasking!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Talking up a Storm

I am really warming up to my subject now. It is fascinating how familiar you get with the curl of a particular lip or crease of an eyelid.

In addition I am enjoying the laying on of paint to create the volumes and forms of the flesh and bone structures.

i do like watercolour - it is definitely the most wonderful paint to use, stroking it on boldly in layers to build up colour depth or sometimes more timidly in little stipples or even removing colour when it goes on in the wrong place or creates the wrong colour - but that of course is not so easy to do as the colour does not always come away successfully and you are left with a shadow.

Of course, as you remember, the 'happy accident' sometimes creates an effect that is better than you could have planned in the first place.

Though I admit. Really the desired use of watercolour requires confident and first time placement of the colour in order to keep it pure. That will still take a bit more practice.

The theme:

Of course the Stavanger summer has descended into an Irish one! Each weekend seems to be rainier than the last and my tan has almost faded back to the milky pale complexion which i arrived here with last year. I think that those clouds are playing on my mind. Waking up to grey mornings really does not improve my mood - especially when it is Monday. Every weekend I want to go for a nice relaxing bike ride, but every weekend the opportunity fades pretty quickly.

So you can gather it is raining again today and now the clouds have even found their way into my paintings. Still clouds can be pretty cool - very atmospheric.

And here is Victor in full flight giving a lecture on something. He doesn't normally point when he talks but i thought the finger pointing made it more emphatic and when you are talking up storm clouds like that you need to be quite forceful.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Thinking of Toadstools

It has been a good week.

I have just finished my second drawing/painting in my 'Many Faces of Vic' series.

I feel very satisfied - it is always good to produce stuff in a measurable way.

It was when I was cycling in the forest and I saw some wonderful Autumn mushrooms underneath the trees. It made me think about Vic thinking about mushrooms or in this instance I thought toadstools would be more fun. So this is my muse with toadstools on his mind. I am certain though that he does not think about Funghi as often as I do.

But this image came to mind and now i put it before you. I think this is a bit better than the Jester as I did not go quite so heavy on the pen and ink part which made the jester rather scary!

Another week is done. It is Friday. We will go for a couple of drinks and Pizza at the Martinique and then come home and probably fall asleep on the couch and in armchairs. After a week of hard work I think that this is perfectly acceptable. We will have the weekend now to recharge the batteries. No plans, just going to potter, although I believe that football season starts tomorrow so that might guide us to some degree.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, 13 August 2009


Jeepers Creepers!

I have just spent two hours battling with my printer!

What a waste of time and yet what a necessary evil. My head is absolutely splitting now with the effort and I am now desperately behind in my day's work.

It all started when I wanted to print out the next in my 'Many Faces of Vic' series.
This is the first drawing/painting which I completed yesterday. This morning when out on my bike ride I got a couple of new ideas which I decided I would draw up first thing to get the new ideas down.

I worked them up on the computer first - to get the elements put together and sitting right and then I went to print. Very red and yellow and definitely lacking in Blue. So I did a test print. No cyan coming through at all. So I did one clean and then another and then a deep clean. You know the way it works, over and over I cleaned and printed. I changed the cartridge and had to replace two others that were empty by that time. I don't know why I am moaning on really, everyone has printer problems. I guess I just needed to vent!

So now I am calm again - the problem is sorted, I think and hope. But I have at least got my prints with cyan included :-)

This Jester is a bit of fun. I had not meant it to be such a caricature, but Vic's many expressions do so lend themselves to exaggeration and fun. I hope that the next two will not be quite so cartoon like, but i suppose we will have to see.

So you see - I decided not to put the jester's hat onto the relief sculpture which I made previously but have made a completely new picture instead. I think this is better. It simplifies the image. The many Vics with some strange snake-like hat would have been very complex, however, I have not ruled it out entirely. For now though I have made this jester with his strange organic and lively hat. I think Vic, the Jester, seems to almost afraid of it and to be honest I think if I were to wear one like it, I too would be very afraid.

Still I like the darkness of this drawing - How often are our comedians in fact manic on stage and miserable and fearful behind the scenes. Two sides of one coin.

In conclusion it only remains for me to say that this is in no way a reflection of the character of the real Vic. and in any event he does not have a hat like this, at least, I don't think so......

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Brown Nude

Oh Hello there!

Another nude.

I think there is something a bit wrong with her knee, but I like the line of her stomach and breast and I like the volumes created with the scratching and hatching of paint and chalks.

I gave this to my friend Mary One (she got her spake in first!) as a present for her thirtieth birthday. In fact i gave her a token that entitled her to come to my house and pick one out of any of the paintings or drawings off my walls or out of my attic. So she picked this one herself.

It is always hard to try and imagine which drawing someone else will like - taste is so personal. As it happens this is certainly one I might have picked myself. So I am glad that she also liked it.

I enjoyed drawing this. I liked the way of working quite quickly, splodging on paint and then working feverishly back into the darker colour with the white chalk to raise the highlights. Drawing on a brown ground helps to make the highlights stand out also.

I am going to boast a little bit here by the way - i drew this while in college and one of my tutors said that it reminded him of a Picasso drawing! Well, How's that! High praise indeed. I know what he meant - it does have a certain character of the type of drawings that Picasso did at a certain time of his life but I also realise that there is absolutely no comparison in Picasso's ability to draw compared to mine. He wouldn't have a wrong knee anywhere unless he was drawing one of his dismembered women - which, of course, was done on purpose.

To be honest you should be able to draw properly before you start to muck about with your subject, however i usually just start mucking about first, because i want to. I still have a bit more practice to do really - get those 10,000 bad drawings out of me!

By the way - and i know that this is an Irish obsession - the weather has unsettled again. I will never get a job in the Meteorology Office!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


by the way - if you click on the picture you can blow it up larger - if you have not discovered this already. Useful if you want to study the individual faces

The Many Faces of Vic

Luckily my Victor has a very good sense of humor - As you can see he also has a pretty rubbery face!

This relief was made by way of an experiment and a bit of fun. I wanted to practice my portraiture and facial expressions in relief sculpture - which is very important by the way.

For those people who know Vic they might be able to recognise bits of this. I myself think that some of the portraits do capture a resemblance and most of them do capture the strange facial expressions which he is capable of achieving.

A friend of mine called by when I had just begun the sculpture and when she saw the photos I was working from she actually thought that some of those did not look like Vic either. I suppose photos are like that - they don't always capture the essential likeness of the person either. With that in mind I concentrated more upon the various expressions and face pulling that he made, instead of worrying too much about getting a good likeness. The two work together anyway - so the better sculptures do capture a better likeness I would venture to say.

I think that I have had some success with this piece. Most of the strange, twisted expressions are well observed and capture some sort of feeling (madness springs to mind! x). As I have already said I think there are some moments of likeness too, so it has been a very worthwhile exercise. Some of the very smallest faces were very difficult. It was easier to get detail and likeness in the larger faces, so that is good to know. I imagine though working very large you would also encounter problems making all parts hang together without distortion. So I think there is probably a comfortable optimum size to work with. Good learning!

This plaque is approximately 20cm in Diameter, so you can visualise the sizes I was working with.

When I worked i worked my way around the plaque, roughing out the forms first and then slowly building the faces up and finally fine tuning them. This helped to keep an even balance of finishment across the whole surface and design.

I did think it might be nice to put some strange amorphous jester's hat onto the heads, but it would take a bit of working out and I might save that for another time as i have rather a lot of other stuff to do at present - and this was after all just an exercise, so for now Vic must remain hatless. I can see this plaque turning up in some quirky little corner in our new home!

Monday, 10 August 2009

A Lovely Nude for Monday and a little weep

Here is a nice nude study to cheer you up!

It cheers me anyway!

Not that I need cheering. It has been a good day on the whole. Perhaps a bit Monday-ish in the morning, even though there was no alcohol involved for a change. Monday Morning is just that - Monday Morning. Still as it is no longer Monday Morning anymore, then I have nothing to moan about.

The weather last evening and today has been really good. Very warm and seemingly settled. There is a lovely autumnal tinge in the air - which I love. It excites me and makes me cry. Not a sad cry, I hasten to say, but in fact a very happy sort of expectant crying, if that makes any sense.

So over the weekend and today I had a couple of little weeps - for absolutely no reason at all - and I was not in the least bit sad. I could blame the dreaded Menopause but actually I have always been like this, ever since I was a little girl. It used to upset my father quite a lot as he thought I was melancholy. I think I might have been more melancholy then as a matter of fact. But now I am definitely not.

I really enjoy a good tearful outpouring from time to time. There is nothing like putting on a weepy film and opening a bottle of wine and a box of Kleenex. D'you know what is even better than that - watching that weepy film and sharing the wine and the Kleenex with my daughter, who is also a great old weeper!

It is justice I am certain. When I was a little girl I was the only one of us Gregoriy children who had this propensity to weep at sad films and of course all the other Gregoriy children made wicked fun of me when I did - them being children and cruel! It made enjoyment of a good weep very difficult. Even when I was married my then husband and children used to gather around me when we were watching anything weepy waiting for me to crack so they could have a good snigger at my expense - Kate, my daughter, had not yet developed her own weepiness at that stage, or perhaps she could control it better than I. Anyway, she was a child and inherently cruel, so I was just the target!

Apparently my dad used to cry at films - his favourite being "Dumbo, The Elephant" but my mother also used to mock him when he was at it, which must have really wounded his male ego.

Vic has promised me "Love Story", a box of Maltesers and a box of tissues for my Christmas Present to take with me to Ireland for my Christmas visit to Kate. For some reason he encourages me to weep. It must be the real thing!

Anyway - enough of that - I am actually happy today and am not crying at the moment either so I will have no name calling and there is no need for sympathy either.

Just enjoy the nude.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Wondabrella - a medal

Another Friday.

The weeks are simply flying by and contrary to my getting ahead of myself as in yesterday's blog (and almost wishing myself to the end of the year) I am actually desperate to hold the years back.

Like any other person growing older, i count the wrinkles and the grey hairs and imagine that if I feel and behave like a sixteen year old i may actually still pass as one! Actually, when a 49 year old behaves like a sixteen year old they generally pass for a twit!

Still, i live in the vague hope that one day one of the girls in the Vinmonopolet will ask me for some ID when making my alcoholic purchases there. In actual fact, they generally meet my hopeful gaze with that sort of patronizing smile you generally reserve for your slightly demented granny.

Ooops! Like a demented old granny I seem to have rather got off the point:
It is Friday and here is your Friday artwork.

I have decided to finish off the week with another medal - I have been very busy in the medal department lately - This one is called "The Wondabrella" - you may remember the study I did for this and posted a while back (May 31st in fact). So you can go back and look up the concept as I described it then - which is, succinctly, a comment on deforestation and global warming. of course, you will get a more rambling description if you go back and investigate - but then you might not want to risk that.

You will notice that the last three medals i have posted are spray-painted gold. This is only temporary and is not the intended finish. After getting these models cast up in bronze i will consider the patination very carefully and at that time I will choose more suitable and less garish colours. The only reason they are gold is because that is all I could get at the 'pound' shop in Stavanger - I say that reservedly, because there is really no such thing as a discount store in Norway!!

Why do I bother to spray them at all?

Well, the Super-sculpey does sometimes get smudges from dirty fingers or pencil marks etc on it which distracts from the form. Also in the baking process it seems to bubble a bit just under the surface - it does not come through, so the surface is not spoiled, but again you cannot quite make out the true form. By spraying it it pulls the surface back together as intended.

So now, that is it - the week is over and i will have to think about some lovely new surprises for you for Monday - i think i might need to trawl through my past catalogues on Sunday afternoon as I am getting a bit short of prepared JPEGS to post.

Have a nice weekend - I will

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Seed Flight 1

I made this medal first - before the other one that i posted yesterday.

I made this one before i left Ireland actually. i modelled it in wax and was down to limited resources at that time as most of my equipment and materials had already been removed to storage. But i did have an old bag of Plaster of Paris so could at least make plaster moulds of the two sides of it.

I brought these with me to Norway and have been guarding them carefully since then until a time that i was in a position to take an impression from the mould and make it into a medal. Which I have now done.

Now that this is a bit more permanent - made from Super Sculpey as it is - i feel a lot happier and it will go into my cache of medal models for future bronze casting.

I think you can see that this medal is a different style from the ones I have been making lately - there is less detail but perhaps more raw expressiveness. i like the sense that the little girl is being lifted off the ground by the great big dandelion fluff and is going to be carried away in the sky to land who knows where?

Good weather seems to have returned to Stavanger again - it was really warm today. The sun is full out now as well - I hope it lasts. Going for a cycle in the morning is much easier when the weather is good and i really do not like cycling when it is windy.

Once the frosts come in the winter I will try to sell my bike. It is hopeless trying to cycle when there is ice on the ground, especially with the hills here. I will not be able to take my bike to Spain with me, which is a pity as I am getting quite fond of her now. I try to remain aloof, but the more you cycle a bike, the more you grow into them. It is always the case and we are getting to know each other better and better every day - i will wake up one morning welded to the saddle I know it and what will become of me then!

Still I am getting ahead of myself - i am intent on enjoying the next few months here. I need to use the time as productively as possible and get as much art work done as possible, because when i get to Spain I will be very busy getting our house sorted there before i get the time to do any work. So for now it will be model, paint, cut and print and enjoy the Norway summer and the clear Norwegian air.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Seed flight 2


Another busy, busy day!

But look, i promised you my newest medal. It is called 'Seed Flight 2' and that is what it is about.

It was really jsut an excuse to do a study of some beautiful flying seeds - they are not completely true to life, I took a few liberties, but real seeds are sometimes even stranger so i don't feel that I have really cheated - well maybe just a little bit.

It is raining again :-( just when I thought we were going to get the summer back for August at least.

I am also a little bit tired today as Vic took me out for an impromptu night out. He was very mysterious about it when he got home. He just said that we were going out a bit later on but would not tell me where we were going or why!

There was a concert on in 'The Ovenpaa' pub - where they have a blues club. It was an Irish singer/songwriter called Grainne Duffy. I had not heard of her before, but I have now. I thought she was very good, as was her band. It was really nice to hear Irish accents again too.

It is probably the latest we have been out in about 9 months!

I will try to be more awake and chatty tomorrow zzzzzz...........

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Shadow

This is a rather expressive painting that I did some years ago now.

Although it is not a brilliant painting it does have a certain atmosphere in it which i think makes it quite interesting and worth talking about.

The first thing that strikes you is obviously the figure of a young girl curled into an almost foetal position. A protective gesture. her face is turned away from the viewer and she holds her hands across her chest - but seems to be doing something with them - fiddling her fingertips, or praying? Her knees are drawn up and her legs extend from these and end in large earth-bound feet. Her feet are crossed as well which closes her body up even further.

So here she is - this rather enigmatic, closed up and turned in figure who appears to be almost floating. The strongest shade in the painting is her cast shadow and this for me is what the painting is really about. The Shadow that takes on a life of its own. The girl is rather faint and ambiguous, but her shadow is strong and powerful. It has a distinct form of its own - I will leave it to yourself to interpret what it might be - and her body seems to skim on the very edge of it - like an insect which hops or floats on the surface of a pond.

I can't draw any parallels to the day I have had today though - i just saw it in my folder and thought you might like to see it. I don't feel like curling up in a protective gesture and I don't feel that I am a shadow lurking anywhere and i don't feel like an insect skimming on a pond.

Today has just been a busy one, preparing some reference pictures for a large-ish relief piece and finishing off another medal - which I will photograph and show you tomorrow.

I have not had the time yet to go hunting for those other beach photos I promised you either - the day is just too short and I have far to much to do every minute.

A suitable picture might have been of the White Rabbit rushing around clutching his large pocket watch and declaring himself 'too late' for i spend a large part of the day rushing around too, trying to fit it all in and sometimes falling short of the mark.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Beach

Well, well, just when you think it is all over and it is going to rain until December it all dries up and gives a lovely day. Warm and dry with real sunshine!

So feeling summer I post this picture I made of one of the beaches near where I used to live in East Cork. The summer is the time for beaches although i suspect it was raining on this particular day - after all it was in Ireland.

Although it looks like a painting i would suggest that it is part painting and part collage made of paint, sand, feathers and torn paper. i like working this way sometimes - it is spontaneous and free and you never quite know what the result will be. it is good to do it outside in the garden on a good day because it can get quite messy and you can work in your bare feet, which always makes me feel closer to the nature that I am working from.

This 'painting' was done as a response to a community project I was involved in - it was called 'The Beach Project' and I remember it being great fun for all concerned.

I went down to Ring Strand, which is between Ballymacoda and Knockadoon, where i met with many neighbours and friends from the village. Together we collected up all the rubbish and waste from the beach and then made a piece of art with it. Later the rubbish was collected by the county council, so it had an ecological as well as a creative theme.

Now I cast my mind back I must have one or two photos of the day - of the sculptures we made. So i will try to find them and post them for you too in the next day or two - if I can find them!

The children like those sort of things, they are great to use their imaginations and are very happy to destroy any of the non-permanent work that they have made on the day. So it fulfills lots of satisfying urges.

It can be very liberating destroying your work - although personally I am not a destructive person. On the contrary I would prefer to make and keep everything that I have made if possible - everything has some virtue in it. But to allow your work to go, or be destroyed, frees you from the noose of possessions.

One of my favourite home-spun philosophies was born when i used to take my son to the beach when he was a little golden-haired boy. I would spend many a happy hour building sandcastles for him, fetching water to glue the sand and seaweed and shells and stones to decorate the turrets of the castles. i made drawbridges and moats, crenellations and windows and then when i stood back to admire my work he would invariably jump on it and turn it all back to beach! But I thought that is was a worthwhile exercise all the same. It was a temporary edifice so what was wrong with allowing the boy to speed up its inevitable demise. It became a good lesson for life when i realised that everything will turn back to dust again so there is really no point getting too attached to possessions and not to be too proud about your achievements either because there will always be someone who will come along to trample on your pride.

Lots of lessons - and I was just happy to be making sandcastles and then to be able to make them again.

By the way - he is not overly destructive today - that golden-haired boy. In fact he is a very peace-loving and placid person. He does not have a bad bone in his body. He is so laid back he is almost horizontal and cares not a jot if he loses any of his possessions or if they are broken or even stolen. He realises that they are all replaceable and are only things - they do not make the man that he is. So perhaps the exercise had some positive effect on him too - I would like to think so.