ANTONIA ROLLS ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE NEWS. An account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis. Worthwhile, but exhausting, so pour the tea and make yourself comfortable...(this painting is a family portrait, about 2'x 3', oil on wood. It is the Ross Family, each family member with items that describe them best. And at the front, on the grass on the right hand side, is a photo of Grandma, sadly missed.)
My studio stands alone in the garden, a reminder that I have a Bolt Hole. Now that I am 50, I can accept that I do need, and always have needed, a place to run away and hide in. And this Studio is a Power House in its own right. Not only does it have Me in it (and I am a source of much power. Yawn.) but it has my Computer, my Files and my Paintings in it. When I open the back garden doors, and take up the long silver studio key from the window sill, and cross the garden towards this Haven, I feel excited and relieved. And because I always have much work to do in there, a teeny bit nervous and slightly anxious that today - Today - is the day that I find out that I have Alzheimers, or Leprosy, or Jungle Fever, and the painting lark is all over.As is the writing and emailing. Over. And my Facebook page is suspended due to Wierdness. But it never happens, I am glad to say (or it has not happened yet. Unless no one is telling me).
These past few days, I have been in a very odd mood. I have finished the painting of the delightful old man that a loving granddaughter asked me to paint, to include in the A Graceful Death exhibition. That was good, and I think the old man had a hand in the outcome. I didn't expect to paint him against a Rembrandt like brown background but something made me do it. This Grandfather died a good few years ago, and has had time in Heaven to decide, that if someone did want to paint him at any time, brown would be the ideal backdrop for his colouring and disposition. And golly gosh, he was right. He has such a lovely delicate face, and such a warm expression that a deep hot brown emphasises his beauty. I will post him below. Wait till the Real photo comes back to me, taken by the Photographer and Star, Eileen Rafferty. I will post that one too, later, and you will see the tones of skin colour and brown. This photo is a little inferior as it is one I took.
A painting of Kate Massey's grandfather, Papa, who was from all accounts, the sweetest most likeable man and is much missed. He died a good while ago, and is to be shown for the first time in Dublin in October at the A Graceful Death exhibition there. Oil on wood, about 13"x 10".
I have set up the large self portrait and have begun to paint it. It is difficult to do, I am finding that I am not as happy as I thought I was, and that it is a much more profound experience to paint myself as a Survivor, than I had expected. It is not just a question of declaring myself Over and Beyond the loss of Steve. It is more complicated than that. I should have known that we are much more complex creatures than we realise. The self portrait will be a celebration of a mourning process that is over. But it is not Gone, it has just Changed. So this self portrait that I am determined to do, is about Moving On, not the End. I cannot look out of it as an enlightened Buddha as I had felt I should, much though I would like to have done. I will use the colours yellow and orange, because they are the right colours for me in this instance, but I will look out as someone who has shifted into another gear and understands, a bit more, the process of living. And is very much happier, stronger and wiser. But still linked to Steve somewhere inside.
Full of promise. Well, I promised myself a jam sandwich a little while ago, and a cup of tea. I do like to bring my food into this studio in the garden. It tastes better in here. It is like camping. I have to find a chair and a surface and proceed from there. I can wear my glorious painting clothes and not wash my hands, and sit amongst the white spirit and old rags used to wipe the oil paint from either a painting or a brush. Or a 13 Year Old Son who is a magnet for Mess and Things That Don't Come Off In The Wash. I have still an angel to do, for a lovely lady in London. I have some little paintings to do for an Art Fair that Eileen and I are doing together in Arundel on November 28. I thought I would do some more Fat Ladies Diving, and some Fat Ladies Dancing. Whistful Sigh. Jam sandwich first. Fat Ladies with Jam Sandwiches.
So, here I sit in my Studio. Dreaming of a jam sandwich and tea. Let me just tell you about the jam in my house at the moment. Eileen and I went to a fair in Arundel on Saturday and found a very, very old lady with more jam than an old lady should possibly know about. We chatted to her, and it turns out that she makes jam to stop herself falling asleep. Gosh, we thought. She must be exhausted, there is a sea of jam here. So we bought some, and she packed the jars into a box for us with shakey old hands, the labels showing with the faintest spidery-est writing telling us which fruit was used, and feebly got to her feet to give it to us. And do you know, it is the best jam in the universe? We didn't get this lady's name, and have no idea where she came from or where she went, but she is the Jam Guru. She is a Mystery, a Genius, a Savant, and we let her slip through our fingers. If I knew where she lived, she would never have to go to sleep again. I would eat the jam from the jar with a spoon and demand refills, and she, in her element, would create jams for me round the clock. Between us, we would live to 250 years old.
It is time to go inside and leave this glorious studio for another night. I have just had a text demand from the Lovely Blonde Six Foot Daughter in America - she and my mother are visiting family and frightening some Americans - to go and look on Facebook now. I think there are a few thousand new photos of Daughter and Everyone She Is With. As long as it doesn't tell me that I have suspected Mad Cow Disease and my Facebook Account is supsended due to Wierdness etc...