Tuesday 31 March 2009

A Slow Start, Wading Through Treacle

It is a slow start this morning. I woke at 6.30 and knew that last week it was 5.30 and felt cheated and went back to sleep. The intention as I drifted off to sleep last night was to wake to a new day full of possibilities and grab them one by one as they came up. I was to have got up early refreshed and glowing, gone for an effortless run and come home to have a sparse but healthy breakfast. I would then be so on top of the world that coming in and finishing the Ross Family Portrait with one hand tied behind my back would have been a doddle.

Here's how it really was. I woke early, went back to sleep. I overslept and woke oldest son in a panic. He said "I'm not stupid" when I told him we'd overslept and I wondered how "Get up dearest we have overslept" became to his ears "You are stupid". I took ages putting on my running stuff and thought when Son goes to get his bus I will go and do this impossible thing and run to the sea and back. I recalled times only a week or so ago when running to the sea and back was a delight and my newly slimmed body would (I felt) carry me to the Sahara and back. Was that real? Was I completely mad? This morning I felt that to stagger to the front door was enough and really all I was good for was a day in bed with dep fried chocolate and chips. However, Son who is not stupid came down and we left at the same time. I went one way and to his relief he went another. (Son is at the adolescent stage where he must not have a parent in his life, and was created fully formed aged 15 somewhere and has no need of any authority or family).

The run was OK! The run was not an ordeal. The ordeal is mental, I have too much on my mind, and the run helped me get some perspective. Oh joy. So on my return I showered, had breakfast and am now going to do the following on the Ross Family Portrait - bottles of beer and wine, glasses, barbeque foods, colourful bowls of fruit and crisps. Tomorrow I will do the materials on the the clothes and finally all the outlines and details and re do the people so that they stand out. I may do balloons and pot plants too. It is all possible.

Yesterday the unmatchable photographer Eileen Rafferty came to take photos of the new Jesus on the Tube and of me in the studio for an article that may come out in April about Steve and his death. I will make a separate entry about that soon.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Hello. How Can I Make Today Work For Me

I have had things to do outside the studio, what with the end of term for youngest boy and new crises for oldest boy and ongoing housework and lack of food in the larder. Usual stuff. And there seem to have been so many other things that I can't remember, that have kept me from the kind of day I love and keep trying to have. In the studio. This means I get up early, maybe go for a run and come home to a shower (my runs are the equivalent of someone tottering to the local shops at the end of the road and back. I don't want you to think I do long exciting powerful runs that mean my muscles ripple as I go and people watch me from their cars saying enviously, Wow. I bet she has no problems, running as well and professionally as that. I bet she gets things done and has loads of admiring friends).

Then having woken up oldest son and waved him off to his bus half an hour later, I make tea and breakfast and come into the studio. Here, the heating has been put on before I went for the run (totter) and I am shiny and squeaky clean and very refreshed and the day stretches before me until bedtime, should I want it, for painting. Oldest boy finds his own way home, daughter is a law unto herself and at 19, this is right. Youngest boy was at boarding school until the term ended last Friday, so I would usually be completely free to paint, fiddle around the studio, call my friends, check my emails, get more lunch, think and feel safe.

However. We are on the Easter holidays. Youngest son is here 24 hours a day. Oldest son is still at school and has GCSEs to think about. Daughter is going to America and is moving to Brighton on her return. Everyone is hungry and I have the Ross Family Portrait to finish. Yes. I have the Ross Family Portrait to finish, dry and present on the 7 April and that is nearer day by day.

I have done the Jesus on the Tube for the good looking USA family, and that will be framed and sent out by the end of this month. So a round of applause please, for finishing it.

How can I make today work for me? Well, if I do the flowers and flower beds for the Ross Painting, then I will have done well and that isn't too hard a task to set myself. Then, if I have achieved that much, I can do more and go to bed early tonight stunned with the progress I have made.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Just In Passing

This is very brief. Here is a list of things of interest.

  • I had my hair done. I look fab
  • I did the pergola. It looks fab
  • I know what to do in the Ross Portrait. This is very fab
  • I am going on a run in the countryside with Alan later, which is fab in that it is healthy and we run well together and I have never run his route before. The only un-fab thing about it is that it may mess up my new hair.

And of course on top of all that, the sun is shining and the kids are happy and I have a nice studio and so on.

So, not such a bad old life.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Can I Paint Beautiful Paintings If My Hair Is Awful?

I slept well, so I have energy. I have eaten a good breakfast, so I have strength. I have lost a stone and a half, so my body looks better. But - my hair is too long and shapeless and the colour is brassy. I am undone. I feel the whole of my world is mirrored in my hair which makes me look like Worzle Gummage, I feel that everyone else (should they see me, I am hidden in my studio all day and resisting putting a paper bag over my head with eye holes for me to see the Ross Family Portrait and the paints) agrees.

So can I paint beautifully with bad hair? Will all the Rosses with their thick blonde healthy hair in nice styles (mine is healthy, just awol) suffer from my Hair Distress? I don't know. Being nearly 49 years old, I might by now have learnt to detatch myself from these teenage traumas. Maybe if I put some lipstick on and turn the mirror in the studio to the wall, and practice a bit of a John Wayne type swagger, I can fool my mind into thinking I am one hell of a fancy artist, with enough attitude to make me irresistable and that my hair is part of this. My hair is just chicken feed next to the fact that I can paint and have no self doubt whatever (swagger swagger, curl of lip, mirrors to the wall) and the Rosses will come through the painting process as winners.

For the record, the American Beautiful Family who are having their Jesus on the Tube are also natural blondes except for the Dad who I painted painstakingly yesterday and when I had finished saw that I had painted Stalin. For goodness sake, how did this tall handsome dark haired (only dark haired member of his family) clean shaven father of three and husband of the utterly wonderful Paula, become Stalin? He has been rescued and is now himself but I blame the hair problem (mine). Thank God I worked it out. Actually, recently the Honeymoon painting had a similar hicup, the kind and gentle Jeremy turned into Clive James and I had to put that right.

I am going to the hairdressers tomorrow at 9am. Until then, anything could happen.

Friday 13 March 2009

I Am Going To Paint Now

But before I do, I want everyone to know that I got up at 6.45 and did a run. Because of this I am super human, invincible and unable to fail. Just thought I would let it be known.

And now, I am painting the Jesus on the Tube for the American family who are all full of character. Lucky I am doing it today, being such a super star. I will have to run every day to keep this feeling going.
Here are 3 fun ladies. Acrylic on paper, about 6"x 4".

Thursday 12 March 2009

Hello Everyone, I Am Absolutely Fine

I have given the impression that I am suffering greatly. I have had some kind friends come and ask me if I am managing as they have read my blog and are worried about me.

This is true, I have bared my soul a bit and written about big things like betrayal and how it makes me shakey and doubt myself. Well, it helps to write it down and then go an make a cup of tea and call Alan for a chat. The impression for the reader of the blog is that I have pressed the publish button, the last action I will ever do, while slowly sliding from my chair onto the floor into a helpless heap of misery. The only clue to my state of mind as I lie under my desk as I fell, shoulders heaving in silent sobs, is up there on the computer, my last post on the blog.

I am delighted to reassure everyone that though some things have been hard to deal with, they are only a small part of my life, and generally things couldn't be better. All the good stuff far outweighs the bad. Like last night, a kind and stylish friend took me to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden for an evening of culture. Before that I had lunch with the famous Mrs Ross of the Ross Family Portrait and loved it, then went to have tea with the oh so special Lucy Martin before going on to the Opera House.

This morning I spoke to the deeply talented and delightful Olivia and to my eldest brother Ralph, also deeply talented and wonderful. I speak daily - 3 times daily - to the unmatchable Alan, and my children are happy and communicative (only judge this in 12 hour slots. In this 12 hour slot not one of them has told me I have ruined their lives and my God, they are going to move out as soon as possible). Eileen, the highly perceptive and talented photographer and observer of the human condition, is back from her holiday inspired and safe. The paintings are actually going well, the sun is shining and a bumble bee is trying to bumble its way through the glass in one of the studio windows.

On top of this, within an hour or so I will be hungry and that means I can eat and then there is no more to desire. I have it all.

So please be utterly reassured. Life, and I, am good. And thank you for asking.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Complete Silence

I am working today in complete silence. No radio and no one is at home and it is very reassuring. I do have much to think about so it is good processing of thoughts time.

I started the Jesus on the Tube today and am amazed at how tiny the picture is. Jesus on the Tubes are between the sizes 5"x 5" and 5"x 7". So getting a family of five plus Jesus and all the paraphanalia I like to include, all the clues to the different members of the family, into this tiny space is mind blowing when you consider the Ross Family Portrait is 3' x 2'. And there are seven Rosses and one Grandma's photo, house, garden, attributes, food, drink, barbeque, garden, Pergola and foliage and flowers....the difference in scale is like a Zen experience.

Yesterday 15 year old son had a temper meltdown, which he gets from time to time. He is very difficult at these moments so I had lots of chunky kit kats to prove I was in control. Goodness. I went to bed feeling like Tweedledum or Tweedledee. I thought as I went to sleep that I had so overdone it that I couldn't imagine the next time I could swallow anything, including tea, and that made me very maudlin. It overtook the temper meltdown from my son. However, I have had my tea today and 15 year old son is still alive and I am painting miniature portraits next to large portraits, so it is funny how the world seems to balance itself on its own, despite chocolate overdoses and furious teenagers.

And, I have chatted on the phone to Alan and to my dear friend Olivia, so I have had some human contact too.

Monday 9 March 2009

Progress Is A Strange Thing

Here I am back in the studio. The painting is taking shape and many days many hours many minutes have passed since I began it. I am wondering whether it is progress to have reached the point I have reached. Or would I have done better to have doubled the amount I have done in those days, hours, minutes? Is it progress to have done anything at all?

In view of all the ups and downs of what else has been happening around me, then yes. It is progress. On the other hand, I have had a lot of time in here, and have spent much of it staring into space and thinking about life. If I had ruthlessly used every minute to its maximum effect I would be nearly finished and the Ross Family would be standing happily, colourfully and comfortably with their barbeque and invented pergola covered with grape and clemetis vines. And I would be efficient and business like and on to the next thing which is the Jesus on the Tube for the lovely family in Connecticut, clocking up the progress per minute thing with practice and ease.

But, if I had done that, would the paintings be any good?

Would there be that Thing that makes them a little different and a little imperfect and would the Rosses miss the Magic they want?

In order to make the progress I feel I need to have made real, I would say yes to the Magic and imperfect thing. But a little bit of me thinks perhaps I have wasted a teeny bit of this precious time (everything has to be finished by the end of this month - both paintings), and perhaps I should have done more. However, having admitted that, I will now hope that the painting will suddenly do what my paintings do towards the end, and take off and become really good. So I will end by saying, that, under the circumstances, I have made progress.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Briefly, There is No News

In the studio, after a few days out of it. I have just done the Face I Couldn't Do, making it now the Face I Can Do. On to the bodies, the clothes and the patterns on the clothes. Twinkles, make up, jewellery, texture, style and so on for the women. Blue shirts and jeans for the men, and one football outfit for the boy. This is fun, this bit. The faces are done, now to make them come alive with a matching body. Then to place them in space in the garden and do the pergola and then the attributes each person has to describe them. Oh let us just press on. Put the kettle on Mother.