At 5pm yesterday I had my first swim in the sea this year. Some lovely friends met at the beach and were 2 metres apart (very strange indeed but you get used to it.) The water was extremely cold but once you were in it was fantastic. I'd hope to go again today but the wind is up and it's nowhere near as warm. Hopefully this will be a regular feature now, especially as this will be as near to a holiday as we'll get for quite some time. I'd tried swimming with a wet suit a few years ago but found it so cumbersome and difficult to move around, not to mention the cold water dripping down my back. So I sold it on e bay and enjoy being in my Speedo swimsuit instead.
The Society of Women Artists have an online exhibition that's well worth a look at as everything is under £500. I've had some enquiries which is always encouraging. Each day there is a featured artist - a great idea. Now, more than ever, art is in this virtual world. I think this is good in many ways especially where you can connect with other artists and chat about this and that. It also feels very supportive and friendly. Long may that continue.
There has been a lot of clearing out today. In clearing out I've discovered things that I thought I'd lost, things that I thought I needed but now realise I don't and unearthed a lot of memories in the process. I've been clearing out a lot during lockdown and this means that there is usually a lot of rubbish when the bins are emptied each Thursday.
Today the clearing out began as I was searching high and low for my staple gun. Eventually Chris found it in a box in the garage (and the garage definitely needs a clear out but not today.) This stapler is 40 years old and served me very well when I was at art school in the early eighties. We had a brilliant workshop where we made our own stretchers and then bought the canvas from the extremely patient person (who I think was called Chris) who ran the art shop. I would stand there full of indecision each time I visited the shop. This must of been a hangover from when I was about 5 and my Nana (the one with the brass collection) would give me 6 pence to spend on sweets at Mr Corlett's shop across the road. It would take me forever to decide what to buy and I remember feeling very guilty about taking up so much of Mr Corlett's time. This was in the day when people opened shops in the front room of their houses. Back to the staple gun which I'm very fond of. I really thought I'd lost it or thrown it out. I've used it to stretch 4 canvas's today and will do some more tomorrow. Next I will be using the rabbit skin glue, the size, to protect the canvas before I begin painting. This reminds me of the preparations I would make when I decided to master watercolour in the 90's. The practical tasks somehow helped me learn the new techniques. When I teach I often say that it's good to go back to basics - I need to listen to my good advice. It's easy to get slap dash if you're not watching.
One of the other things I found during today's clear out was a very small bear called Mogul. He is very bald and I had crocheted him a hat when I was about 11 but this hat has definitely gone missing now. Mogul is about 80 years old and used to belong to my Mum. I instated him as my special bear after I had got rid of mine. My special bear was called Kojak and he wore a nice red dress with a felt "K" stitched on the front - I'd also made this dress. I still feel sad that I got rid of him, especially as it was when I was very poorly indeed and not in the best frame of mind to make a decision like that. Anyway, it's brilliant news that Mogul has turned up as he's been missing for 3 years - lost in transit when we moved to this great house in 2017.
Todays painting is Bird Girl.
Ive been working in the studio all morning wrestling with acrylic on board, which requires a completely different technique to watercolour painting. I thought that I was getting somewhere and then all of a sudden it all looked very terrible. So then there was a kind of new beginning. By 2pm I was more happy with the results as the two paintings have a history and look of remnants of paintings, which is more my style. Only time will tell if they're acceptable.
Later this afternoon we're driving to Highcliffe for a walk - this is the first time in over 2 months that we'll drive somewhere different (apart from the supermarket which definitely doesn't count.) Who would have thought that we would be living like this. And now receiving some of the refunds for cancelled holidays, concerts, dance and various other events.
Today's painting is called 'Chapel Bay', as it reminds me of Chapel Bay in the Isle of Man. So much of my childhood was sent on the beach at Chapel Bay, where we would spend all day digging elaborate rivers in the sand which ran down from the top of the beach to the sea. Each sunny Sunday my Mum would take my brothers and I to meet our family friends, the Keigs and the Mc Ards, and we'd all have a fine day at the beach. Lovely happy memories.
Today we were supposed to be going to London for 2 days, which would have meant visiting London Exhibitions and going to listen to JP Saxe, in Camden with Sam and Joe tonight. JP Saxe has been rescheduled for October - so fingers crossed for that. At the end of last week Hampshire Open Studios was also cancelled - not surprising but very disappointing all the same.
It's strange not putting anything in your diary and crossing out almost everything that was in there. I was listening to Radio 4 again this morning and Grayson Perry came on to talk about his Art Club. Last week's theme was "Fantasy" - I watched this yesterday and Grayson discusses how he began creating "Fantasy" work as a safe place from reality and how making this work was something he could control. I expect many artists will relate to this, I certainly do, but I rarely feel fully in control of the outcome in a painting. At best this is great fun, exciting, inspirational and at worst annoying, frustrating and feels like plodding along. So today I've been preparing surfaces to paint on and couldn't resist a bit of actual painting but I know it's not the best time to do too much.
Today's painting is called "Bouquet" and I see I've chosen a picture with figures standing a good distance apart, I now feel that I'll be very glad when we don't have to do this anymore.
Yesterday I was so tired from working, housekeeping and a trip to the supermarket that I couldn't write the blog. This morning I read a piece written by the artist Yinka Shonibare, who is a Royal Academician originally from Nigeria. It reminded me that I'd heard him talk at Southampton City Art Gallery almost a year ago from now. I remember seeing his work "Nelson's Ship in a Bottle" on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2010. I love this piece (for various reasons) and it was greatly admired during the two years it was there. His writing today is very poignant as he says "The pandemic is giving us time to think about the life we want afterwards." He says that he is introspective and he likes to create. But then goes on to say that that was not what his life was like before lockdown. Being a successful and famous artist he constantly found himself in meetings with no time to be introspective and create. I'd already been thinking about how I spend my time when we're not in lockdown and have identified areas that I'd like to change as life is too short, especially at 58, to spend anymore time on things that really aren't important to me.
Food for thought and happy weekend everyone.
Today is a momentous day. There are two reasons, I'm donating blood for the first time in at least 12 years and I'm painting on canvas for the first time in ages. I realise it is time for a change and this is very challenging as I could easily continue working on paper, albeit up to well over a metre in size. I could easily stay in my comfortable comfort zone - not that I'm in control but I'm used to it. I have resisted canvas since I was 18. Yesterday I remembered that when Sam was born, 24 years ago I set my mind to mastering watercolour. Watercolour is extremely difficult. I'd used it with minimal success for 15 years and never felt satisfied with the results. It took a long time, a great deal of practice and slowing down to learn watercolour properly. I was very patient with myself. So the time has come to slow down and be very patient again.
I'll be donating blood at 5pm. I feel very scared about this. Not because of the Corona virus but just the idea of being hooked up lying on a trolley makes me feel nervous. Last time I donated blood was in the Great Hall at the Maltings, in Farnham. I remember feeling quite disturbed at all these people lying on trolleys for a very good cause. The Great Hall holds fond memories as the first day I lived in Farnham, September 1990 I visited the Maltings. I loved the place and wished then and there that I could have an art studio there.(I'm pleased to say that this wish came true.) That evening Nigel Kennedy was performing in the Great Hall. I was allowed to watch him practice that afternoon. I was over whelmed watching a genius at work. He stopped every few minutes when he heard something wasn't quite right. His ear was tuned to things that I don't hear. I greatly admired the precision and attention to detail - perhaps this is something I could apply to working on canvas.
Todays painting is 'Sandbank'
Today is supposed be haircut day. As we can't go to a salon or barbers until July I'll be getting my hair scissors out. I wasn't taught how to cut hair but learnt from watching at my Mum's salon, where I worked during the holidays when I was a teenager. I remember working extremely hard and one summer saved my tips to buy a pair of cowboy boots. This has reminded me that when I was at University I cut hair in the Art Studio as a sideline. I cut quite a few of the Lecturers hair too, which was very well paid and they always cooked me my supper too.
Yesterday was a very successful day in the studio. The painting went well, Joe took photographs of artwork needed for a magazine, I sold work and several other great things happened on the work front. Today has been much more of a struggle. I've possibly ruined two paintings and it's been one step forward and two steps back. The trouble with me is that if I have a really good day I want it to continue forever.
Time to go for a walk!
Two metres apart
Yesterday I watched a film entitled Tolkien. I'm not a fan of Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit, though I greatly admire his work. It's a great film that also taught me many things that I didn't know about Tolkien. His mother Mabel, home schooled him and his brother including teaching him Latin. When he attended King Edward's School, Birmingham he formed a secret society, the T.C.B.S.(Tea Club and Barrovian Society) with his 3 friends, 2 of whom were killed in the first world war. At the Miramar Hotel, on the sea front at Bournemouth, there's a plaque saying that he spent a lot of time there. Infact, he died in Bournemouth in 1973. I recommend the film if you get the chance to see it.
The painting today happens to show two people 2 metres apart. This feels quite normal now, when you meet someone in the street or on the cliff path. But then it's not really normal at all, is it. How odd we must look, dodging off the pavement and into the road to avoid being too near to anyone.
I haven't many words today but as I came upstairs to write this the word "Gratitude" came to mind. Today has been a very relaxing day. We walked 5 miles first thing but then I have spent most of the day in the garden. I've noticed that a lot of people seem to be more grateful than usual. Being in this situation has made me feel gratitude for things that I might not normally make time to even think about.
There is more time to smile and say hello. More time to inspect a plant in the garden. More time to stare up into the sky.
Happy Bank Holiday
Summer weather in May
I have just had a lovely call from my friend Lib, whose birthday celebration we should have had last Saturday. We exchanged our news - though there's not too much of that these days. During our first year at University we became friends with Giuseppe who was from Pescara, Italy. Guiseppe arranged for us to work in Italy during the summer of 1981. I was to teach English to three children for an hour a day and speak English to them at all times. I found two flights to Rome in the back of the Sunday Times and off we went. On the flight to Rome we sat opposite a Nun and a lovely lady from Rome called Grazia. They asked us where we were going and we proudly said to Pescara. Then they asked how we were getting from the airport to the City Centre. No plan we said. We were arriving at around 10pm and getting the next train to Pescara, which took 6 hours at night as it stops everywhere. They seemed extremely concerned about our travel arrangements and Grazia insisted that she and her husband give us a lift into Rome. They were very kind and drove us all around the city so that we could see the Colisseum etc before dropping us at a Restaurant next to the train Station. Grazia's husband went inside before we did and told them they must look after us and not overcharge us for our meal.
Now I wasn't feeling as confident as I had when I booked the flights from the back of the Times. The train set off at midnight and we thought it was very strange that there were absolutely no other women on the train.The 6 hour journey covering only 100 miles, passed at an excruciatingly slow speed. Not because the train stopped everywhere but literally all night we were propositioned by men. Even when we stopped at station they would shout into the train. I was terrified and advised Lib to look straightforward and not make eye contact with any of them. We had no idea until then about the huge cultural difference between Italy and the UK. Even now I'm amazed that we thought that just booking a flight from the back of a newspaper was enough to get us to Pescara safely.