Friday, 9 December 2011

Cherubs and Gargoyles

moy cherub (yes it's Billy)

Seeing as how it's the season to be jolly, I thought I would draw a cherub or two. I always liked those renaissance putti, the ones who had no (visible) body, they were essentially a head with wings. After all if you're a celestial body what do you need legs for? It's a fair point I think and it makes me wonder if angels might evolve to a point where they are legless? Of course arms are always useful, and opposable thumbs....even angels need opposable thumbs. Unless they can use their mouths? I have a sudden vision of flocks or swarms of hungry putti descending on our towns over the christmas season. I think that might be a good plot for an apocalyptic disaster movie, you know the ones where the real world and the mythical one collide!
As usual, I haven't ended up with cheerful, but I have had an idea for a series of images of domestic angels or cherubs. The idea being to give ordinary faces something of the celestial. I dunno, it may happen or it may end up trapped in a this space.

Gargoyles are fab aren't they? Mythical creatures generally actually, all those half human, half beasts, lots of milage for metaphor too, might do a series on them too...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Have a Handmade Christmas (or buy one from artists like meself)

There's something very christmassy about winged creatures.

 These are some pictures of my stall at the 'Have a Handmade Christmas' fair in Broadwater on Sat. Very festive it was and a very big thankyou to everyone who came!

It strikes me that in the middle of a quite depressing recession what we need is colour and joy and to fill our homes with beautiful handmade things. 
On the other hand......(and I know I'm shooting myself in the foot here) the buying of things...the desire to accumulate stuff as a way of identifying who we are. It's got to stop. 
It would be nice to move into a time when expectations aren't so high, and we don't torture ourselves over our inability to buy our children the latest piece of mass produced plastic. When we don't use our possessions as a way of judging how well we've done in relation to everyone else. Wouldn't it?
I've got off my soapbox now.....I'm off to the shops....

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Hand Blenders and Sushi

Is a hand blender really a girls' best friend?

The other day I was asked, in on online survey, how often I mentioned my hand blender in my blog posts. I have to admit I laughed....out loud. The idea that I would regularly post about my hand blender and my relationship with it still seems fairly preposterous......yet here I am. I can't promise that I will mention it in every post though, even if I have made some lovely soup with it. I do feel a bit of a story coming on though so watch this space.
Finding the newspaper to draw on was a bit of an accident, I think it fits was from an article in The Guardian about the inventor of the Orgasmatron (yes it really did exist outside of the film Sleeper). Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of Freud, believed that any mental health problem could be sorted out by a good seeing to (I may have paraphrased.....) Anyway it's an interesting article.

Sushi Ascending to Fishy Heaven

I have been thinking a lot about sushi this week, because of the food zine Cakes and Canapes for which I am a contributor. I wrote a story too called 'Remembering Sushi'. I might even have a go at some stained glass sushi.

Remembering Sushi

Of course her name wasn’t Sushi, she wasn’t even Japanese. Sushi had just become her nickname when Adam had realised the strength of her obsession with the stuff. It began as a jokey pet name but she had kind of liked it and so it had stuck. At first he’d found her love of Japanese food adorable, it made her different and quirky, and if he was honest he really liked the food.
That was in the beginning. Gradually, sushi had taken over her life. She judged a day good or bad depending on how well her sushi supper had gone, and she was a harsh judge. It never mattered what Adam said. He had tried once to suggest that they eat something other than ‘rolled up raw fish’ (his exact words) ‘perhaps something with gravy?’ he’d followed lamely, shrinking beneath her hard cold stare.
The row they’d had then was ferocious and she’d ignored him for days, until he’d been unable to stand it any longer and apologized. For a while afterwards things were ok and she started to make him exquisite bento boxes to take to work for lunch. Adam enjoyed the care and attention, it made him feel loved and cherished, and the food was wonderful.
One morning he woke up at about five to find that he was alone in their bed; he got up and padded to the bathroom, but turned when he heard noises in the kitchen. There she was, in her pyjamas and thick socks, hair dishevelled, looking heartbreakingly beautiful. She was assembling his bento box, moving swiftly and surely, as if she’d done it hundreds of mornings before.
‘Sushi, lovely, what’re you doing up so early?’
She’d turned then, and he’d seen that her eyes were over bright and wild.
‘I’m making your lunch, silly. I do this every day. Didn’t you know?’ She frowned slightly as she asked the question.
‘’ Adam had said, putting his arms around her waist. ‘You don’t have to do that; I’ll get a sandwich from the van outside work.’
He was unprepared for the ferocity of her attack. She launched herself at him screaming, her hands clawing at his face, then at the last minute she’d turned. She left the flat soon after, slamming the door violently behind her.
She didn’t come back. Adam called all of her friends and her work but no one had seen her. He called the local hospitals and finally, the police. Weeks passed, then months and still he heard nothing, until one morning he received a letter from her parents asking him to visit her.
The building was one of the few Victorian asylums still in use and the walls of the day room were painted a sickly institutional pink. There she was, sitting across the room. She was rocking slightly, hands moving as if she were making a sushi roll, her eyes blank. Adam hesitated; he turned, his face wet with tears, and slowly walked away.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Dancing the homage to Fat Freddy's Cat

I found this beetle squashed on the floor near my house and I was reminded of one of my favourite Fat Freddy's Cat cartoons. In the cartoon the cat was asleep and twitching, as cats do. His owner (Fat Freddy) comments that he is clearly dreaming of being chased by a dog. The cat is seen to be thinking 'No you fat fool, I was dancing the Fandango with Carmen Miranda.' I like to think that this beetle spent its' last seconds doing the same thing.....
This picture was done using the same technique as I always (ish) use, the texture is very different though and that is because I used very cheap emulsion paint on the background. Which was a mistake. The surface is much too absorbent, it sucks in the oil bar and makes it very difficult to move around. The only plus is that it creates a nice crackle texture, on top of acrylic. I'm not sure it's worth it though....

the beach huts of doooom

I am always taking photos of the gaps in between beach huts, I think 'the space between' has a lot of mileage in terms of ideas, so it probably won't be the last time it crops up here. Again I struggled with the oil bar on the cheap emulsion surface, it was more of a fight than usual! Lesson learned. Buy proper primer.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tis the season of the pumpkin...

In keeping with the spirit (ha ha) of the season, I have become mildly obsessed with pumpkins. No surprise then that today's images are pumpkins. The first one is a glass tealight holder (available to buy for around £30 or to swap for other artyness, do let me know if you're interested!!)

room for one tealight, 80mm x 100mm approx
I went through a phase of making little houses, there is a haunted house, a christmas pudding and a gingerbread house, I may think of some more.....and I will of course post pictures.

On to the second image, I've been experimenting again, this time because I wanted to reuse an old piece of board. I covered the board with white emulsion mixed with interior filler. I wanted texture and I wanted to start to draw the image in texture before applying any colour or detail. The board had already been covered with acrylic medium and the emulsion mix went all crackley in an unexpected and nice way.

I am a pumpkin...honest
The problem with using interior filler as a ground for drawing is that it isn't very hard wearing, it's soft and absorbsent, good qualities for toilet paper I think you'll agree, but less so for drawing on. I may have to redo this on on a better surface. The oil bar dried too quickly and it's hard to get subtleties in tone, because it is so easy to just gouge chunks of filler out. Well, lesson learned....I will use proper primer next time.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

I be afeared o watercolour...

It's true. I may pretend that I don't like it, but the brutal truth is that I am a bit scared of it. Now, in the general scheme of things it's a bit pathetic to be scared of a painting medium, so I suspect that what I'm saying is that I'm scared of failing at watercolour. I like to experiment and I love techniques that allow me to use lots of layers, but I don't feel quite in control of watercolour... it refuses to bend to my will.
It's a paralysing thing the fear of failure, and the flip side I think, is the search for approval. If you get positive feedback about your work or, even better someone buys some, it is really easy to repeat yourself endlessly. There's a danger that you will stop experimenting, you'll stop taking risks, and before you know it, you're stuck, and your work is boring!
So, in the spirit of feel the fear and do it anyway I have attempted some watercolour this week, I nearly didn't post it because frankly I'm not impressed, but here they are anyway...

a sneaky peek at my desk

terrible photo, ok painting

watercolour on newspaper prepared with emulsion

Meanwhile, back in my comfort zone, below is a painting from the same photo as the watercolours. I much prefer this, and I enjoyed doing it....I dunno, perhaps watercolour just aint my thing?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Words and Pictures

....and I don't mean the childrens's telly program of the 70's ,although I loved it, particularly the episodes with the stop motion animation stories, there was a really good Russian one once with Prokofiev's 'Troika' (from Lieutenant Kijé) as the soundtrack....but I digress...
I mean using text as part of the image. I have been experimenting with this idea for a while, and I don't know that I have solved it to my satisfaction, but here they are anyway.

yes this spider only has six legs, I drew it from life (or death actually) and it was minus a couple.

don't plums just deserve to be in the spotlight?

not a total success in that you can't really read the text, but I like it anyway, it reminds me a little of a Shirley Hughes drawing.

The spider one is my favourite, the text seems to fit with the image in a way that the others don't. Having said that, it's all just experimentation. Often the images that find their way here are like sketchbook images, not done in a sketchbook but explorations just the same....

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sometimes an apple is just an apple (with apologies to Freud).

1) apple

2) basking

3) this years tomato harvest
I have been thinking about how I label my work this week and it's an interesting thing....A title can do such a lot for your viewer. I'm afraid I am one of those people who wants to know the whys of a piece of work, I like to look at sketchbooks and I want to know where the ideas come from. I'm just nosy I guess.
I was recently reading an old magazine article where Howard Hodgkin and Johnathan Meades were talking about this, apparently " I'ts an English thing: there has to be a point, a meaning exterior to the work, there's got to be a text alongside the work explaining what it's about. "
Having said all that, perhaps it's only the work that I don't like that needs explaining? Ah, it's a complicated subject,  it can be very intimidating to offer an opinion on an artwork, and if it's been explained by the artist there's no danger of getting anything wrong. Not that I care, my opinion is just that, I don't mind if you disagree. (so there!) Sometimes too, a work will 'speak' to you without an explicable reason.
Anyway, I have given the above pictures titles, but what if I changed those titles to 1) 'autumn' 2) 'holocaust' and 3) 'holy trinity (or' there is a light that never goes out')? Just a few small changes and there I am commenting on the seasons and the state of the world!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

What I did win on the Tombola and other stories

what i did win on the tombola
A jar of beef paste (containing chicken!?!). Who knew that such a thing even existed? Not me, that's for sure. I suspect it will be disgusting....I am enjoying drawing food in low afternoon style light though, it's funny how lighting can affect the whole mood of an image and I like the way the lighting here suggests that the jar was the last thing left...abandoned and unwanted... on the tombola table.
pink enough?

The above are pictures of my stall at the ladies pamper day on sat...not very well attended, but fun all the same. I made some very simple notebook/sketchbooks out of old comic books I had.
I have been thinking this week about those old fashioned masks that you can get for parties, and that's why I drew another face that's missing the bottom half. I suspect it will be quite scary, when worn....I will make some and post photos. It also occurs to me that it would be fun to have masks of family members so that everyone can wear each others face, or everyone can wear the hosts face.
Well, I think it's a good idea.

Monday, 29 August 2011

What I have been doing this week and some blather about working from photos.

So, these are the drawings for this week, and I am quite liking working with oilbar on found papers. It appeals to my inner recycler, it's cheap, and you can get a lot of extra meaning into an image without even doing it on purpose! It's win win.
I do work from photographs....not exclusively, but mainly. I know that there are some people who really frown on the use of photos for reference, but for me a photo, especially a family one, has a very particular atmosphere. A photo is a record of a moment gone, a moment lost or frozen, which makes me feel wistful or sad about the subject, landscape or human. Photographs seen in this way function as a kind of memento mori, a reminder that life is short and a record of all the lost moments of that lifetime.
Oh, and photos stay still.....

Monday, 22 August 2011

Work in Progress and Loss of Creative Mojo

Yes I know.... I haven't been here for a while, what can I say? Sometimes the creative mojo just leaves, and then what do you do? In my case it's feel mildly depressed and eat a lot of cake! Next time this happens I'll blog about cake.....

Friday, 6 May 2011

There'll be bluebirds, well one anyway... and an egg.

The bird design started out as an accident, I had an offcut of glass that just looked like a bird and I just went with it. The tail feathers too, began as a way of making sure the hook didn't fall off! There is a lesson here isn't there, that mistakes and accidents often lead to innovation? (I didn't say it was a new one.) I like the simplicity, and the joy of these, they're chirpy, if you'll pardon the pun...

Friday, 29 April 2011

....and Illustration

I've realised that despite the title of this blog being stained glass and illustration I have never actually posted any illustration....oops. Today, this will be rectified and those of you that have never seen my illustration work will see what I meant in an earlier post when I said that the glass is like one side of my personality and the illustration is the other. The pretty and the downright dark!
I am also including a (very) short story because it kind of goes with the picture. It needs extending and reworking but here it is anyway.


By Naomi Frances

It all started on a bright February day about 15 years ago. My brother Charlie and I were sitting in the kitchen, idly chatting away the morning over a cup of tea, everyone else had gone out. The doorbell rang and when I went to the door there was no one there but a wrapped loaf of bread lay on the red tiled step, the tissue rustling slightly in the breeze. As I picked it up I felt the newly baked warmth on my fingers.

‘Where’d that come from?’ said Charlie

‘Dunno, found it on the step’ I replied, shrugging my shoulders, ‘Smells nice though.’

The next morning, the same thing happened again.

I assumed that mum had arranged a bread delivery, it wasn’t until later that I realised that no bakery would deliver on a Sunday, and why did they leave the bread on the step?

The bread kept coming, day after day, and although it always smelled delicious, Charlie would never let any of us eat it.

Three months or so passed until I was home again, and I had seen Charlie very little in that time. So it was a shock to see him pale and thin, sucking on a roll up at the kitchen table.

‘Good God, what on earth is wrong with you?’ I gasped, shock making me abrupt.

He glanced over his shoulder, then back at me and mumbled ‘Nothing, nothing’s wrong, nothing.’

Later that weekend, Charlie was brought home by a couple of friendly policemen.

‘Found this one, tied to a lamp post, covered in solid bread dough! Reeked of booze ‘e did, reeked!’ laughed one.

‘Lads and their japes eh?’ laughed the other.

Charlie laughed along with them, but the laughter didn’t reach his eyes and although he did reek of alcohol, I had never seen him more sober.

Over the next few months Charlie’s behaviour became more erratic; he worked impossibly long hours, and never seemed to eat.

I heard later that he had borrowed large amounts of money from ‘The Bakers’ a notorious Suffolk gang. It was a calculated risk, his business was growing fast, tourism was good and the banks had refused to lend him any money. I think he felt that he had no choice. No one could have foreseen the explosion at Sizewell B nuclear power station, that left Leiston a battered shell and our part of Suffolk a no go area for tourists. People moved away in their thousands and Charlie’s fledgling joinery business failed. He couldn’t keep up his repayments and The Bakers had reminded him, in their own sinister way, that there was no escape.

Charlie hasn’t eaten bread since, you can’t even talk to him about toast, and he will travel miles out of his way to avoid passing a bakery. He never did tell me how he got away from them, but something in him changed and The Bakers are to blame.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Makers Boutique

Here is a lovely photo of my stall at the Unitarian Church in Brighton today (if you look closely you can see my helper!) It was a good day, if a little tiring but tired is what you get when you stay up late finishing work and then have your eight year old son 'helping' all day. As usual the birds sold very well, makes me wonder if perhaps I should put up the prices? I always find pricing really difficult, mainly because I get carried away when I'm working and don't pay attention to how much time is passing. I also tend to price for what I can afford, and of course I don't know how much disposable income anyone else has, so this approach is flawed.
I will post some pictures of the easter eggs I made. I didn't sell many, which is a shame in one way but it does mean that my eastery decorations will be pretty marvellous this year! Any excuse for a bit of a bauble....

Friday, 1 April 2011

New Work Hurrah!

Well here it is at last, some new(ish) work. There is a theme....Did you guess? I am still a little obsessed by the sea, it comes in waves..........