Getting better..

Abbots wood 3

Abbotts wood – going to Picadilly..

Well, I’ve got some good news! But I’ll lead up to that – first the disappointments continued as I failed to get any of my entries into the running for the SAA Artist of the Year competition and I went down with some kind of bug that gave me chest pains and meant I couldn’t eat properly for a couple of weeks – anyone who knows me will understand what a major hardship this was for me and my family as I really enjoy my food and get intensely ratty when hungry.

It also meant  I had to cancel the first in my series of 8 weekly art lessons, something I hated having to do, but as bad luck would have it my appointment for an endoscopy to see what the chest problem was, clashed and all of the dire warnings in the hospital literature made me realise that I wouldn’t be feeling up to much afterwards. How true. I am fortunate enough not to have spent much time in hospitals so this procedure was right up there next to the pain of childbirth, though thankfully for a much shorter period of time. Having elected not to have the anaesthetic may have saved me from feeling drowsy but it left me feeling lousy. Boom boom.  February was pretty much a write off  but I do feel like I’m on the mend now, although nothing was found in any of the tests. next stop, a chest x-ray.

I digress. So, all my big ideas were put on hold and it’s taken a long time to get back into the swing of things. I’m off to France at the end of may to visit Ponches Estruval, a village with which my home village of Arlington has a cultural exchange. Some of them come to our arts Festival, some of us go to theirs, and I am taking some of my paintings to exhibit in the art show in Dompierre’s church.

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They are keen to have local landscapes so I have a few already and quickly painted up 3 more small pictures today. Two of these are scenes of the lane where I walk our dog painted in acrylics. At the Arlington Art Group sessions we are being inspired by different artists each week, last week was David Hockney so I had a look at some of his treescapes and loved the brightness of colours – the fact that he manages to use vibrant greens without them looking out of place appeals to me. I tend to avoid green in treescapes because no green looks real or natural, but when you’re using orange, yellow and purple a little unnatural green isn’t going to spoil the effect!

I got out on my bike the other day with the camera to take some more reference shots for my Rural Industrial series (I’m giving the ‘paint scraped off glass’ series a rest for a bit  – wearing the facemask doesn’t make breathing easy) and there is plenty of material on my doorstep. Round the corner there is a new complex of houses being built so plenty of diggers, fences and scaffolding. They’ve chopped down a few trees so the telegraph poles are more visible too. Cycling around, I was amazed at how many local businesses there are in this small rural community, all having their own impact on the area. There is a bit of a storm brewing with an impending application for a Solar Farm on 23 hectares of land a few fields away from us. But if you look at Arlington reservoir and the water treatment works, this really wouldn’t be that out of place for the area and I’d rather a solar farm than a nuclear power station.

One highlight this week has been my first one to one tutoring session with a young artist, Catherine, who is autistic. Her parents recognise that she has a talent for drawing animals and would like me to help her get to the stage where she can make a living from it. While looking at Catherine’s portfolio at our first meeting, her skill at capturing shapes, proportions and movement of animals was apparent and I asked how she started to draw a picture. Immediately she picked up a  pencil and started to draw while talking to me and, with no photo reference or planning, she very quickly drew an accurate outline sketch of a lion. Not something I could do. I can help her to see how to finish her pictures and learn new techniques and skills with different mediums, but I will try hard not to let her lose that spontaneity and enthusiasm.

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And to a success! My work went on show in Gallery North in Hailsham and I was delighted to sell one of my new works to a friend at the Private Viewing (third one from the left in the photos). It’s entitled ‘4 fish’ but only 3 fish are apparent in the picture, the fourth one has just swum away.

The next thing on my agenda – I took the plunge and have entered a painting into the RA Summer Exhibition. That’s it, the form has gone off and I’m committed to travelling up to Picadilly, painting/baby in hand to leave with a bunch of strangers. I know it’s a numbers game. If they’ve seen enough treescapes by the time mine gets wheeled past, I’m out of luck, but it’ll be an experience.

I’ve also submitted 3 of the works rejected from the Towner East Sussex Open into the Salon de Refuses, so waiting hear from there too. Won’t hold my breath, it might hurt.

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