Monday, 23 December 2013

End of Year News

'Conversations in the Turkish Baths,' 16 x 20ins, oil and acrylic on canvas
Three of my figure paintings have been selected for a show in January, at the Art Pull gallery in Tunbridge Wells (opening Jan 14th). Two of the paintings are inspired by the many visits I made to the old Turkish Baths in Nicosia, Cyprus. I painted in the Baths over a five year period, gathering visual information in sketches and watercolours which I have used for my compositions back in the UK. The other painting is from my 'One Among Many' series, which concerns the idea of people being lost in the vastness and impersonal aspects of today's world. I am attaching a few of these paintings, and also one of my abstracts, as this will likely be my last entry this year.

'Women and Doors in the Turkish Baths,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18ins

I am going to Cyprus on December 30th, to spend some time with my mother-in-law, and get some sunshine! The UK weather lurches from bad to worse, and as I write there is torrential rain and strong winds. I am planning to do some watercolours while I am in Nicosia as the brilliant quality of light will be inspiring. But I'm already playing about with new ideas for when I return. The end of a year is always very positive because it seems to underline where you are, and I find myself tidying up my artwork emotionally, cutting off from paintings, finishing paintings, and seeing January as a time to move forwards!

'One Among Many,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 43 x 32ins
Before I go away, I'm racing to get my book finished and submitted to Kindle, but time is running out. The days before Christmas seem to be shorter than days at any other time of the year! I have designed my cover - which was easier than I had imagined - and used one of my paintings on it. So if I can finish my final 40 pages of editing, the book should be ready to submit before the end of 2013.

'Paintscape,' oil and acrylic on board, 24 x 18ins

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

New Directions

'Surfing on Paint,' acrylic on board, 60 x 45cm
On December 3rd, the group exhibition of SEE artists (South East England artists) opened at the Art Pull gallery, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. I have a painting in the show, one that I felt represented me well. The Private View was packed with people and some had to stand outside on the pavement. My painting was displayed on a wall near the glass front of the gallery so it had good light, (important for my colours).

With lots of new paintings on the go, I have also just finished an application for a painting residency in the US next year. It is a wonderful chance to work for a month with other painters, and to have a large studio and the time (and quiet) to focus intensely on my  ideas. I feel that I could do so much in this kind of setting. I am also applying for two residencies in Scotland (a very beautiful environment). All these applications take a lot of time, and competition is very strong, but at this stage in my career I feel that I need a period of time for research.I would like to take these colour ideas (or what I term 'surfing on paint,') onto larger canvases, and see where they lead. I believe that my work is changing and I'm excited about the new direction!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

End of Year Plans

'Escape from Winter,' (2) oil and acrylic on board, 60 x 45cm
The exhibition at the Art Pull gallery, Tunbridge Wells, opens on Tuesday night. I still have to collect my painting from the framer, varnish it, and type my biography to go next to it on the wall. There will be 50 artists in this exhibition, and I am really looking forward to the Private View. It is the first time I have shown locally for many years. This year, I've also exhibited in London, Latvia and Belarus (these last two shows had my large painting from my Mark Rothko residency on display). It had been a fairly good year but currently I'm planning to take part in the South East Open Studios next summer, I'm trying to arrange a show in Nicosia, Cyprus, and there are many other exhibition opportunities to be applied for. There is only a month left of 2013 and I am full of plans for 2014!

My final edit of my book is nearing the end. I have fiddled with it a lot, and to its benefit I believe. I am hoping to submit it to Kindle within the next two weeks.

My painting has really reacted against the dull dreary days of winter, and the painting posted is in reality brighter, more vibrant than the image suggests. I'm very excited about the direction of these flowing colours and shapes, but may introduce some more figurative elements as time goes by!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Escape From Winter

'Escape From Winter,' oil and acrylic on board, 60 x 45cm
This painting, still wet, is my response to the darkening days of early winter. I long for sunshine and warmth! In the UK, winter days can be quite inspiring when they are sunny, and sunlight colours skeletal branches red and gold, and wonderful shadows race across the land. But these dull, dusk-like days are a drag!

So I recreated a piece of sunshine! This is painted quite thickly, with a painting knife and brush, and - as with many of my recent work - I let the paint lead me along.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


'Excursion,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45cm

At the beginning of December, one of my paintings is going into a group show at the Art Pull gallery (Tunbridge Wells), and I have just applied for a group show in London, also for December. This is by selection committee, so again I'm waiting with my fingers crossed! There are very few spaces so there will be a lot of competition. In the meantime, I am working on new paintings. The two I'm posting are new - the one above is finished, the one below is 'under consideration.'

I like these 'long' shapes, as they take into account the element of 'time,' in the way that listening to music does. I like being able to direct the viewer's eye along the shape, using colours and marks like musical notes. It is important to keep a feeling of freshness, and almost to catch a sense of the movement of the brush as it travels along and up the shape - so it captures time, and takes time to read.

'Stairs to Heaven,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 40cm

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


'Incidents,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 40cm

When I first began this blog, some three years ago, I planned to write at least twice a week. Life has not allowed for that! I took the advice of another blogger, who said that in the case of not being able to write anything interesting, it was better just to post images - until there was something worth saying!

I'm rushing to finish my final draft of my book, and in between preparing work for exhibition, and painting new works - this is a new painting.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Monday Morning Excitement

'Winter Inscape,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16ins
Last week my work was viewed by the owner of a gallery called Art Pull, which is not far from where I live. I was very pleased that this painting has been chosen for an exhibition starting in December! It was wonderful to get positive feedback on my paintings in general, and encouraging that my recent works were singled out for praise.

This morning I'm hoping that my new stretchers will come. I'm fired up and ready to start new paintings. Until then, I'll work on my book, which is very near to completion. It just needs one more read through. My margins are set, the formats sorted out. I feel incredibly excited.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Seasonal Journey

'Seasonal Journey,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 90 x 70cm
 Today, with the clear signs of brown edges on trees in our garden, my mind turned to thoughts of Autumn. It's late this year, and the warm flush of colour always enters my work in some way. This painting embodies how I feel about the journey into Autumn.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Mark Rothko Centre, Daugavpils, Latvia

A year ago, I was at Riga airport preparing to fly home from an amazing painting residency, for which I'd been selected as one of 15 artists internationally. Today, this years' residents will be flying home, and I know the sadness they will feel, parting from each other. I have followed their progress over the last 3 weeks on Facebook, and 'friended' several of them. This year's residencies took place in the new Mark Rothko Centre, in Daugavpils, Latvia. Last year, the Centre was almost completed, and we had a tour of it, but we stayed at the Park Latgola hotel, in Daugavpils. I felt some pangs of envy - the residency was one of the best moments of my life - and followed their descriptions as if I was living it all again!

One of the artists from my residency was at the Centre this week, for the private view of a show he is having there. Another of my fellow residents flew out for the birthday celebrations of Mark Rothko, which were yesterday, and coincided with the opening of the residents' exhibition of paintings produced during the residency. He took a photo of my largest painting, which is now hanging in the Mark Rothko Centre, as part of an exhibition of past residents' paintings. I was thrilled to see that my painting ('Flying into Riga Airport,') has a wall to itself, and to know that it is there amongst all the other exhibitions!

This is my painting - it is 140cm by 100cm, and it is one of four I made during my time at Daugavpils. It went to Vitebsk, Belarus, in the summer, as part of a show of works representing the Mark Rothko Centre.

Below, is a new painting.......

'Paphos Walk,' acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45cm

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Life Reworked

'Watching and Waiting,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 50 x 40cm

I was not lucky with the Discerning Eye submission, and collected my work on Friday 13th September. It was notable for meeting an artist from my home town. There I stood, waiting to receive my rejects, when a woman who was packing some very good bronze sculptures on the table next to me said, "Well, they weren't so discerning after all, were they?" We began talking, and then I learned that she'd made the same 45 minute train journey, and lived not far from me! We discussed somewhat loudly that the selection always came down to taste, not quality, and she told me that only 25% of the total selection was from outsiders. Your chances were slim. But of course, you have to try!

I didn't waste time sitting around thinking about this rejection. Life has to be re-worked all the time, just like a painting that has to find a form. I've been very busy working on my book. Since I installed Office 2010 (downloaded), I have raced through my manuscript. I have reached page 357 of 458, and it has been great fun pushing it into shape. After this revision, I will go through it one more time, and then submit it to Kindle.

Much like a painting, it becomes obsessive. I am finding it harder to get an overview of the quality, unlike with a painting where the whole thing is laid out in front of you!

In between writing, I have reworked an older painting (below) and also reworked two others. I began two new paintings, in anticipation of a visit from a local gallery owner tomorrow. Though I have shown in London, I would like to have my work represented locally, and I really hope he likes the work!

'Paphos Walkway,'  oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45cm

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Diving in

'Sussex Journey, with Blossom,' oil on board, 12 x 24ins

On Friday I will be delivering 3 small paintings for submission to the Discerning Eye exhibition, which will open in November. I have tried for this prestigious exhibition a few times, and as always it is a matter of luck - does your work speak to the invidual tastes of the selectors? I feel good about the 3 small canvases I'm submitting, so that is something! Last year, one of my friends had a painting in the show, and invited me to the Artists' Private View (a plush event) as his guest. His work was very abstract, and colourful, which surprised me as this show used to be quite figurative-based, but it gives me some hope for my own work. I was lucky at the PV to meet an artist I admire, Albert Irvin. I made a point of going up and introducing myself to him!

As soon as my art supplies arrive, I'm starting new work, and with feverish excitement. I'm not a painter who can 'fit' painting in between other daily jobs, and like to know I have a few hours to dive into it, and these last few weeks have been too fragmented to paint. But I have done more editing to my book, and planning to submit it for publishing by the end of September.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sometimes Life Takes Over!

'Coastal,' watercolour on paper, 12 x 10ins

I began my novel in 1998. It was only a few months after the sudden death of my partner Tom. I was forced to return to the UK, because at that time you needed to renew your visa every three months, and without Tom I could no longer use our engagement as a reason. I returned to the UK and tried to give shape to my grief by writing. I learned so much about the creative process of assembling ideas and conversations into a novel, and I thought I had finished it within 8 months. How wrong I was! I ended up doing about 40 re-writes, because the novel continually demanded changes, or seemed less rounded than my cursory read revealed.

'Transitional Landscape,' oil on board, 22 x 18ins

Originally my novel was saved on one of those ancient items called Floppy Discs! Luckily I transferred the file to a Memory Stick just before Floppy Disc drives died. Then my novel lay fallow for some years - life took over, I was promoting my artwork, and began a new relationship. I looked at it again a few weeks ago, and with entirely fresh eyes. It could have been written by someone else. I found that it needed minimal editing, and I am currently preparing it for electronic publishing. Options have changed a lot since I began the book, and a Publishing House is not the only route.

I aim to finish my novel by the third week of September. It is great fun doing the final touches, and in between this, I'm also starting new paintings.

Monday, 19 August 2013

My Cyprus novel

'Paphos Walk,' (1)  watercolour, 10 x 12ins

Cyprus inspired me to finish my novel. It is based on my experiences of living in Nicosia from 1984 to 1998, as a full-time artist. But foremost, it is about the love of a country, and the struggle to survive as an artist in a very different culture.

'Paphos Remembered,' watercolour, 10 x 12ins

For the next month, I will be editing and finishing my novel, and hope to have it ready to market by mid to the end of September.

'Midnight Swim,' watercolour, 10 x 12ins

Sunshine and Fantasy

Twenty-five days in Cyprus passed in a flash! In between visits to the beach, and long wals, I painted a few watercolours. Sunshine, sparkle and images from my walks overlapped and mutated into fantasy compositions as I worked on the balcony each day. I'm including a few of these compositions.

'Paphos Walk,' (5) watercolour, 10 x 12ins

'Paphos Walk,' (2)  10 x 14ins

'Paphos Walk,' (3) 10 x 12ins
Twenty-five days in Cyprus passed in a flash! In between visits to the beach, and long walks, I painted a few watercolours. Sunshine, sparkle, and images from my walks overlapped and mutated into fantasy compositions as I worked on the balcony each day. I'm including a few of these compositions.

Friday, 12 July 2013

22nd International Arts Festival, Vitebsk, Belarus

'Nicosia Through Bougainvillea,'  Oil on board, 60 x 50cm

In just a few hours I will be heading to Gatwick airport, to fly to Cyprus. But before I leave I wanted to add some good news I just received. Two of the paintings I made during the Mark Rothko residency last September have been included in an exhibition called 'Gold,' in Vitebsk, Belarus. The exhibition is part of the 22nd International Arts Festival, and features work by several artists who took part in the residency. I was really pleased to see that I will be showing alongside my ex-tutor, Peter Griffin!

This is the link:

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Fresh Visual Impressions

'Journey to East Peckham,' oil on canvas, 40 x 30cm
Sometimes it is hard to break into your rhythm when you are fully into your painting ideas. It's so exciting, and you just want to keep going! But I'm going away on holiday on Saturday, to Cyprus, and so for a few weeks the oil paints will lie unused. My husband laughed when he saw me packing watercolour paper and watercolours, but I feel that I can't let my hand lie idle. Images are pushing to be explored, so at least I can work on paper, and who knows what may emerge, given the different light, and a new environment? Unexpected elements can suddenly pop up, because the fresh visual impressions always overlap with existing ideas, and may even turn out to be better!

New Work

'Inscape,' Oil and acrylic on board, 61 x 31cm

The last few weeks have been very productive, with new paintings filling my small studio space, and applications being sent out for exhibitions. I sent my application to the US gallery, along with a CD showing 20 images of my work. If they don't find the work suitable, I will still feel good about it because I was pleased with the images I sent. I'm also applying for a solo show locally, and have entered a painting competition (prize of art materials), and I'm checking out other exhibition opportunities.

'On The Cusp of Memory,' oil and acrylic on board, 61 x 31cm

Friday, 28 June 2013

The New Mark Rothko Centre, Daugavpils, Latvia (part three)

Me, Anja and Dillywn at the entrance to the Centre

On my second and final day in Daugavpils, I had my breakfast with Lars in the 10th floor restaurant of our hotel. It was a sunny but breezy and chilly day. Clouds raced across the city as we exchanged advice on 'how to proceed' with applications, exhibitions, and general snippets of information that you can only get from other artists! We both missed the company of the other artists who were on our September residency, and coming up into the restaurant each morning to see the familiar smiling faces. Our 'music' had also gone, to be replaced with something more rock and roll.

We set off to the Centre separately, and once again I wondered if it would rain. I had a sense of 'this will be a relaxing day, nothing to do but enjoy the Centre,' and I was right. I spent about 12 hours there and was with my friends all day.

With my friends in the Centre (I am second from the right)

We spent some time in the Rothko rooms, looking at the quality reproductions, which were projected onto canvases leaning up against the walls, and sat for a while in the high-security Rothko room, where the six original paintings are on show. I loved these - 2 paintings represented three periods from his artistic oeuvre. I could not photograph these, but below are the reproductions.

At lunchtime we decided to sample a local cafe that two of the artists were recommending. It was about a 25 minute walk but well worth it! All kinds of local soups and traditional dishes were available (though no one wanted any more fish or chicken wrapped in cheese!) The thing about Latvian cuisine is that it is not only tasty but they pay such great attention to how the meal is served up. Even my Cappuccino was decorated with sugars shaped into flowers.

Top two photos - the local restaurant.

On our way back to the Centre, we passed by the railway track, which was high up on a bank, and the longest train I have ever seen slowly trundled by! It must have had about 50 carriages of freight! We were by then late for Peter Griffin's lecture about his work, and had to call ahead to ask him to wait. Peter is my ex Tutor, and it was very interesting to see his work and how it has evolved over the 29 years since I last met him! After the lecture, we were treated to cakes, biscuits and drinks.

Dillwyn and Lars about to enter the tunnel into the Fortress area

Later in the afternoon, there were some performances. The first was a re-enactment of the Russian revolution of 1917, complete with canon fire, and shooting, and I stood up on one of the banks to watch it. From that point, as I turned to look south, I could see the swollen river Daugava just a short way beyond, and how it was almost ready to engulf the flat land. The sun was starting to go down, and cast wonderful shades of gold and copper across the wintry landscape.

Then we watched a performance of dance and music, which I found quite emotional and rousing. It was beautifully done, and the dancers did a similar routine to the one they did on the evening our residency was formally opened last September.

After this, we went up to the artists' flats, where Kristina and Dillwyn were staying, and had some beer in the kitchen. The section for artists to stay is really impressive and I would love to do a self-funded residency and stay there. There are also spacious studios.

The moon was a luminous golden globe hovering just above the horizon, and its largeness made it feel almost touchable. We set off in taxis to Gubernators, a wonderful restaurant that I visited during my residency. It was where we had been taken on the night we'd all been welcomed to the residency, and we had all sat there with the Directors and there had been abundant food, drink, and many speeches. I remembered the name, and recommended it for our farewell meal. We passed the Daugava, shimmering with the pinks and peaches of the evening sky, and in places there was a shiny overflow onto the grassy banks. We all felt sad that it was our last night, and the meal we had at Gubernators was excellent.

We all had copious amounts of Vodka, some had beer, and lots to eat. I had a soup (potato and vegetables), but I wished I'd had the potato and mushrooms because Kristina gave me a taste and it was one of the best soups I've ever eaten! Latvian mushrooms are fantastic and have such flavour. I also had a salad, but my friends ate chicken or meat. Much later, Farida (one of the DMRC Directors) joined us and said goodbye to us. Then we took a leisurely walk back to the main square, all laughing and enjoying the magical city at night. Surprisingly, the streets were empty, though it was only 11.20pm, (according to the digital green clock numbers outside the Hotel Latgola). Anja's hotel was on the other side of the square, and I realised that I could see her room from mine! I arranged with Anja and Dillwyn to meet them the next morning very early.
My final photograph for this post is of a painting I finished last week, which I feel has echoes from my trip through the Latvian landscape. It's called 'On the Cusp of Memory,' and combines and overlaps traces from different memories of places and experiences, but some of the ochres and purples were colours I noted from the bus.

'On the Cusp of Memory,' acrylic on canvas, 80 x 45cm

Yesterday I received three copies of THE JACKDAW, (July/August issue) with my article about the Mark Rothko Centre on page 25. It was lovely to see it in print!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Pick Your Own Cotton

'Summer Remembered,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 70 x 50cm

My title is a phrase I saw online in an article about making your own opportunities. It is one I follow every day, as I know that no one will 'find' me, I have to keep sending out applications, keep networking, and gradually make my presence known. It's a powerful reminder that we can take our future and shape it how we want to.

I'm about to send off my application to a gallery in the US, and I'm caught up in a wonderful current of evolving ideas, which are spinning off painting after painting.  I need more canvases to let the ideas run across and blossom further. Two recent paintings should now be on display at the 'Not the Royal Academy' exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander gallery in London.

Part Three of 'The Mark Rothko Centre, Daugavpils,' will follow soon.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The new Mark Rothko Centre, Daugavpils. (part two) April 24th - The Opening

Shadows across the City

Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk (then part of the Russian Empire) in 1903. He moved to the USA when he was ten. After the Russian revolution of 1917, Dvinsk became Daugavpils, the second largest city in the new Latvia.

I woke up to a glorious, panoramic view of the city square, and park beyond. The swirling clouds cast deep blue stripes across the buildings and trees, and I wished I had time to paint this dramatic scene. I went up to the 10th floor restaurant, hoping to find some of the other artists there, but there were no familiar faces. I took full advantage of the huge array of cooked food, and cereals, and drank several cups of coffee. I wrapped some slices of the tasty dark brown Rye bread for lunch later, and tried to work out which roads would take me to the Centre. I was told it would take about 30 minutes to walk there.

I stepped out of the hotel and into strong, icy breezes. It was a lovely walk. The sun illuminated the golds in the long, dead grasses, and gilded skeletal trees. Golds and copper contrasted against the brilliant blue patches of sky. As clouds raced across the sky, I wondered if the day would be spoilt by rain.

The Church behind the Hotel

It was quite a long walk, and I was shivering by the time I reached the old Fortress. The river Daugava was almost level with the surrounding land, and there was some flooding in places.

Flooding near the Fortress

The Rothko Centre is within the walls of the old Fortress. I arrived to find many technicians setting up stages and lighting for the performances, and people running everywhere. One of the organisers remembered me from the Residency, and took me to find Lars Strandh, one of my friends from the Residency. We found the other artists, and also my ex Tutor, Peter Griffin (who had an exhibition of his work in the Centre) and we all went for lunch in the Centre's restaurant. As usual, the soup was brilliant, and we had some chicken wrapped in cheese, and salad.

Left to Right: Kristina, Peter, Dillwyn and Lars

A conference was going on, but we spent the rest of the day looking around the Centre and catching up on our news. Then at about 5pm people began to gather outside the Centre, for the performance and speeches. I stood on the stairs that lead down from the second floor, to get a good view.

The Opening began with a performance of dance during which the dancers painted some stands with bright daubs of colour. 

After this, the speeches began. Both Kate Rothko, (below) and Christopher Rothko gave speeches about their father and the Centre. There was a sense that Mark Rothko's paintings had 'come home.'

Then everyone went inside, though there were so many people that security men let us in in small groups. The highlight in the Centre is the Rothko room, which contains 6 original paintings, loaned by his children.

The Mark Rothko Centre

This is me in one of the halls showcasing work by some of the resident artists. Unfortunately my work was not on show, though I was told later by one of the Directors that my large painting will be going to an International Arts Festival in Vietbsk, Belarus, in the summer

There was a wonderful buffet meal in the restaurant - but I was so busy taking photographs, and chatting, that by the time I went to the table, a few bread rolls remained! I met Kate Rothko, her friends, and several gallery Directors and Curators.

From left to Right: Lars, me, Marion, Rene.

At about 8pm, a friend called me outside to see the concert, which was fantastic - a Finnish accordian player - and the Centre was beautifully spotlit all around

It was a great evening, and I walked back to the city centre with Lars and two of the Committee members, under a full moon, near 11.30pm

The Moon over the Centre
(click on images for larger view)