Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Zip Zip

Very busy at the moment. Today I finished the painting for the Derbyshire Open. I drew a pencil tone study for this one beforehand.

I'm mostly doing sound work this week although stopping off on Thursday to drop off some paintings at the Lyceum for my art club's exhibition, then off to Nantwich town square for a day of badge making as a preliminary event for the arts festival.

The first day was last Thursday. It was howling with wind and pouring with rain. There were hardly any interested passers by but us artists, eight or ten, had fun painting a jeep, adding doodles to a giant canvas, and me making badges with glee. Hopefully the weather will be better this time round.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lyceum and The Doctor

Yesterday I was kindly given some old rare photographs of the Lyceum Theatre, now and then, and even before by Steward Green, author of Lyceum Theatre, Crewe, a History: 120 Years. I want to use some of these old pictures for a centenary painting.

Last night I had a dream of successfully shooting invisible enemies with the minigun from Unreal Tournament. Shooting a flying enemy was tricky; first two homing missiles, then laser fire, which hit but hardly did any damage, then more lasers, then more missiles, then two more missiles before it was actually destroyed. Then a dream of the Tardis, my indestructible safe haven.

Today I'm off to Nantwich for some badge making, a preview event for the arts festival.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tick Tick

I'm working on "The Invisible Woman". The underpainting was a little rough and under those circumstances a light glaze in identical colours can help things along, so I began that process today. The delicate rainbow is a particular challenge.

I also made contact with Lyceum historian Stewart Green who has kindly agreed to put together a selection of rare old photographs of the venue so that I might paint something spectacular for the centenary. Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel are among the many stars who have performed there and I'm looking forward to seeing these old images which Stewart has worked hard over many years to obtain.

More work on the big blue woman tomorrow...

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I'm measuring up my paintings for the Nantwich Arts Festival at the moment. Not feeling up to it, with my now usual hot/cold/shivers/exhaustion. Dripping with sweat last night and feeling down with this ongoing and clearly worsening problem. Perhaps the worst aspect is the way the doctors have treated me, generally with contempt and mistrust. I'm sure that I've got a relatively simple, if debilitating ear infection; this evident from waking up every odd day being unable to hear, then dizziness, then a sore throat, then repeat, yet I was told months ago that I'd just have to put up with it, and that I was on my own. I'm due to see an expert in a month or two. The knowledge that I could most likely feel well in a week if treated makes me angry and depressed, the moods mirroring my temperature; flick flack. At times I despair at the hopelessness of my situation. However, I keep working and remember people like Chopin who was ill for most of his life yet managed to produce some of the best music in the world.

I continue to work as normal which is quite possible for the most part. The Lyceum poster is mostly designed now and I've got to order some printed labels for the paintings I'll be showing at the Arts Festival. The paintings are to be slung over display boards, like saddlebags, so some pre-measuring is necessary. I've wired up most of the paintings so far, using a wooden board as guinea pig to get the lengths right. Then I've got some prints to frame. To see the venue for the first time on Friday and to have it planned out and wired up by Sunday is good going. "Olé!" says the bullfighter!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crewe and Nantwich

Two projects are filling my art life. First is Nantwich Festival of Arts. I went to view my exhibition venue today and met lots of new artists. Lindsey asked me to come along to an event next Thursday and use some fancy machine to make some badges. I'm quite looking forward to it. I've not really done any "event" type things which is a good reason to do some, so it's a good thing that someone came up with an idea, because I don't have much in the way of equipment to do a public demonstration or anything, and more importantly no way to carry it the four miles from my house to the place.

Secondly I'm due to go to the Lyceum Theatre to photograph it and prepare for the centenary celebrations. I aim to paint something for it, a spectacular masterpiece. At first I wondered how much money to ask for such a commission and soon the grandeur of the event, the unveiling with dignitaries and press cameras, cries of awe and feinting ladies, made me realise that I'd have to ask millions at least. I'll restrain myself. I'll include eternal reproduction rights and offer to design some postcards for the theatre to sell. The council would make a profit so I'm sure that they would commission me if they have confidence in my skills. I know I can do a good job, but fear that I leapt in too early with a very rough idea in our first last week that received an uncertain response. Let us see how it goes.

A short course of ear medicine hasn't fixed my ears and I'm still experiencing regular dull deaf headness and dizziness. This intoleration will disappear in a day or two only to return in a week or two. Meanwhile I'm awoken at night with shivers. This is an inconvenience more than anything as I'm trying to record the vocals to my new album Black and White. This has gone well so far, at least I'm a much better singer that I was three years ago, but I remain realistic in regard of my very average abilities. Like anything, this needs practice to perfect.

Tick tick! Keep busy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It's the Derbyshire Open soon. If was was going to enter I'd need to design and paint a painting fast. The painting must be about Derbyshire so I decided to brainstorm ten ideas one night and pick the best. Some were difficult to stage or complex to paint (one, Joseph Wright's Head in an Airpump was particularly impractical) but a few fitted the bill as both artworks, pretty things and practicality.

I chose the idea above, which I'll explain because it's a bit obscure there. It's man's head like a mountain and it's crying a waterfall. This represents the mineral water that Buxton is famous for. Now see this...

The colours and general design were inspired by Bolsover Castle, with the head being browny and the landscape greeny. I grabbed a face photo and made the rest up. Painting is now in progress.

When mocked up I realised that the painting was also about the ear infection that I'm being treated for. This long term problem saddens me, primarily because I feel rather let down by the health service, taking over a year to get this far and even now not getting a certain official diagnosis. However, I am confident that I'm finally on the mend. In these circumstances I like to think that fate is at play, and that this great painting, perhaps destined to win an award! is and was the ultimate reason for my health difficulties.

Onward! I'll post images when the painting is complete, which will be within four weeks.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Marion Davies

My recent portrait of Marion Davies is on show this weekend in Marbury Church as part of the Marbury Merry Days event. I've painted a few silent film star paintings over the years, mostly for practice. Marion was the partner of William Randolph Hearst, so I included the outline of his castle in the distant darkness.

There are loads of things I'd like to fix and perfect with this one but with such observation I'll remain confident that I'll improve, learn and adapt.

Next I'm working on a similar(ish) idea for a painting about Derbyshire for that county's open competition next month. I've also been given the task of photographing the local theatre and creating promotional images for the forthcoming centenary event. I hope to create an artwork for commemorate this and so will produce a concrete proposal for a large and spectacular painting later this month.

PS. For some reason the comments I seem to have received on my older post have vanished... I'm not sure what's going on there!

Friday, May 06, 2011


I've been working on sound work for the past few days. Tomorrow morning I'm going to Macclesfield to drop a painting before the judges at Jobling Gowler's bi-annual competition. These solicitors support the local arts by showing work in their offices and lobby.

I must think of good and practical ideas to do at the Nantwich Arts Festival events. My good friend Andrew made a good suggestion, painting to music. Perhaps I could resurrect my "William Tell painting", where people paint a masterpiece in the three minutes or s it takes to play the finale to Rossini's famous overture.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ordovician Landscape

I've scanned a couple of finished paintings recently and the above is one. I like it. I'm rather unhappy with my work this year and have hardly painting anything! But a few paintings are in progress and I feel that I have more energy, skill and time than last year.

My primary goal for May is to finish the album of songs started last month. Summer is nearly here! The Nantwich Arts Festival is coming in June and there are preliminary events too - and I could do something there if I think of something! So much to do. I must be better than ever but feel that my 2011 painting is unquick, unvibrant, unamazing, unsimple, unawake. I must work hard to reverse this.

The Quest painting is underpainted. I've spent more time on it than any painting for years, which has to be a good thing. I disliked it at first but I feel I'll start to like it more and more, the more I don't look at it, as with so many loves.