Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Where Did I Get It From?

Where did I get what from? My painting ability. My three brothers are musical, philosophical and athletic. My father is literary and intellectual, my mother has a wonderful sense of beauty. No one else does painting or art. None of my aunts, uncles, grandparents (all of my grandparents sounds like I had a room full. Well, I had a fab step grandmother as well as the real ones, and she actually was a painter and potter) - none of my cousins and I have about a million of them, paint. They are creative, and lots are musical, some of them write but none for a living. So how come I can and do paint and do it professionally?

Here now is the interesting bit. My uncle Bernard is an artist. He is now a painter and married Maureen who is also a talented artist. Both are retired and my uncle is now painting from his studio, and I think my aunt is too. Fab. They are talented and fun, and I am so interested in what they do now.

My aunt Kit was and is the original Fairy for me. She is so tiny, pretty and funny and oh could she paint. I think it was the source of unhappiness for her, she was prevented from a scholarship to an art school when she was young because it was not a Catholic school. But oh, I would arrive at Kits flat in Birmingham when I was a little girl, and behind her front door on the wall was the most magical mural. Painted by Kit, with detail, skill, love and imagination. A thing of magic, covering the whole wall. Kit was dismissive about it, and the next time I would go, it was painted over. And in the sitting room were tiny pebbles selected for their shape, and exquisite patterns and designs painted on them to make them into fairy creatures.

And my Father's mother was creative. Could arrange flowers. And my mother can sew the most complicated things with style and ease. And here is something else. My Great Grandfather wrote nine volumes of his life story. My aunt sent me an extract in which he describes his time in Paris, where he had a studio and seemed to be sculpting. (His wife and nine children were in England). He was a director for Burberrys and so was not an artist but this is what he wrote - "...whether I had become a real artist or meandered along as a second, or third rate trier, life would have been, I think, more full and less drab than the hard material, moneygrubbing existence I have had to lead.

Then I say to myself, if you had leanings that way, why did you not do it? The old stupid answer suggests itself - I knew nothing about it till too late."

Poor Great Grandpa. I had better go and do my Jesus on the Tube, my Angels, my Flowers of Happiness (for the Open Studios in 2 weeks time) and my Steve paintings.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

An Efficient Artist in an Efficient Studio

The sun is shining and the car has been cleaned by yesterday's rain. I was sharp and decisive this morning. I think the boys knew their mother was an efficiency machine, and wouldn't budge from her plan of action for the day, and didn't involve being waylaid by useless discussions on how it wasn't their fault they are so tired and where is the blue folder and if it isn't where it was left last week it has been stolen. (By whom? The blue folder thief that keeps eluding the police from our house?). And so I am here in the studio.

Here is a list of what the artist has to do today.

  • Jesus on the Tube. Chase clients photos she still hasn't sent
  • Book a removal van for Sunday to move daughter to Brighton
  • Find out about bed and breakfasts in Durham for Maddy's wedding
  • Call local artist about the Open Doors exhibition we are both doing
  • Hide the new Bill Bryson book that just arrived from Amazon so I don't Just Read One Chapter and only stop when I find it is tomorrow morning. I love Bill Bryson.
  • Finish the angel for the Open Doors
  • Arrange to collect some paintings back from lovely Cate's business centre in London

That is enough for an Efficiency Machine. At 2.40 I collect 15 year old and take him to College to complete some work (blue folder in my bag, it was on the table alone and obvious where he left it) and at 4.30 I collect 12 year old son and we all come home and they eat. A lot.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


It is raining now when yesterday was so bright and sunny. This is good, it not only waters all the flower pots that Alan and I did, it washes my car. And, it makes it difficult to lie in the hammock in the garden. Perhaps the rain today highlights the magic of the weekend Alan and I just had. The sun shone, the smell of freshly cut grass was in the air, and everything was easy. Over Saturday and Sunday we had a holiday together, even though we stayed at his home during the days and my home for Saturday night. It was something we had planned and looked forward to for ages, and now from the rainy grey rather chilly Monday morning, it seems like an Enid Blyton idyll. We ended up reading the Sunday papers with a picnic on the Downs in the sunshine. Bliss. And we found our dream house and though it was too expensive, I had moved in and made tons of new friends, and unpacked and displayed all Alans American Football gear, and got loads of new commissions from grateful villagers by the time I had come home later on Sunday.

A busy day ahead. 12 year old boy gone to school, so noticeably a pre teen. Last night he needed help with his homework. So I sat looking clever and helpful and watched him get annoyed with his homework, his pen, the floor, his brother, life and then me. " How about describing the poem as hopeful" I would say, for example. "You don't know anything Mum. Nothing is hopeful it is about evil and pain" he replied with a barely concealed fury. A few minutes later he said as if I were senile, "I think there is hope in this poem. Can't you see that?"

And so on. But the boy in him did give me a big hug when the teenager in him was distracted later on.

Now I am off to get 15 year old up. I drive him to college on a Monday as if I am driving him to an Old Bailey hearing. He hates college. As he wants to do law, maybe one day I will drive him to the Old Bailey. He would make a wonderful barrister (I'm not repeating myself M'Lud. If you can't be bothered to listen to me the first time that's your fault. And further more my client is guilty whatever he says and I suggest Transportation. I'm going home.)

I will do the Jesus on the Tube today and finish the angels for the Open Doors Studio Trail which I will write about tomorrow. It is in May and you should all come. I have lunch with an old school friend of my youngest brother and all sorts of fetching and carrying for the Boys today. Daughter is fab, she looks after herself and makes me tea. Well brought up.

Friday, 24 April 2009

If Only

If only we could be comfortable in the things we do well. If only we were confident and happy to know the things we do well are worthy in themselves. Like, if I could arrange flowers and the result was very wonderful, that would be the gift I carry. Or if I could aim a dart and hit the bullseye, that would be my thing. What if I could negotiate peace between difficult people, what if I could understand how money works, what if I could build efficient bridges with my engineering skills? My grandfather was a lucky wealthy man, a man who didn't really have to do very much. He was one of the Beautiful People before the second world war, but he could make a garden so beautiful and simple and lush, that it took your breath away. He knew where flowers would grow and how they would grow. He knew what would work and what wouldn't. My memories of Grandpa are of a rather hansdome confident man who's hands were large, strong and bent due to the accidents he had had while doing blacksmithing or falling off roofs while mending them and so on, and these hands could create without fail, gardens of breathtaking simple beauty. Not being very good at business and rather sauntering through life didn't bother him at all. As a little girl I thought my Grandfather was able to do magic.

What if life conspired to make the thing you do best easy for you to do. What if your talent was to understand how companies should be best run, or how curtains could revolutionise a room, and that was how you made your living and it was as simple as that.

Well, all the things we are not good at give us a balance I suppose. Life that was too easy and straight forward wouldn't give us much perspective on a wider scale. If it was too easy we may become curtain bores or best run company bores. And then if there was a sudden glut of companies running perfectly and rooms utterly splendid with curtains to die for, we would be lost.

What if we were happy with our individual gifts, then. What if we recognized them and liked them and admitted them. What if it didn't matter what anyone else thought of them, that the fact that we had them and liked them was enough. Goodness, what a thought.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Another Jolly Day

Everyone off to school that needs to go. Good. 15 year old son came down late and glared at the clock and then glared at me as if to say You Changed All The Clocks. I smiled and looked benign, because experience tells me this son never believes he is wrong. However, he scuttled off muttering and I carried on smiling and looking sweet. Like a nice Mummy.

Nice mummy received a text from 19 year old daughter at 1.30am from her bedroom yards away to say that her next USA trip was off. She has only just come back from one and had another over Christmas and New Year. She was planning to go back next week. I think our family in USA is probably still recovering and think that perhaps adoption papers will be the next step from her.

However, we had planned to go swimming this morning and so we did. 19 year old daughter was like a girl with thwarted plans. I knew from waves of disapproval that It, whatever It was, was my fault. However, we swam, I in my new Tesco red and white polka dot costume feeling like exciting kind of Mum, and daughter wore my nice blue halter neck costume. With her blonde hair and blue eyes and wonderful shape she was by far the most beautiful dolly bird there. I got full marks for trying with a loud spotty costume.

More pain when we got home, daughter broke her phone and now there was very little reason to live. So I drove us into Chichester. And, clever girl that she is, she has pulled herself together and spent her USA money on an up to the moment new contract phone that can name every planet in the solar system and empty the dishwasher. Daughter has not got a phone she has a pet. She is teaching it her handwriting now so that it can recognise it and make text messages from it. And then the rest of the USA money went on two pairs of shoes that make her happy again and reduce the national credit crisis by at least half.

Now I am back in the studio, more tea under my bright pink furry teacosy, and only myself to think of. Allellulia.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Something Started

Well, brought my tea over to the studio as usual this morning after the boys had gone to school, and found more exciting emails about where to try for Steve's exhibition. I seem to have many leads in London, but not many down here yet. I will try them all, and then I will have to paint the pictures. That will be hard but boy, will they be good. I will stun you all with them. And myself, I imagine.

There is a bee in here with me, and the sun is shining outside. A tiny spider sat on the edge of my water jar as I was painting in acrylics this morning, and watched me paint some Forget-Me-Nots in a glass vase. I never really liked blue, but today all I want to paint is blue. I have arrived, I like blue. I am normal.

I am painting Jesus on the Tubes. There is much research and thought that goes into each painting, and today is that day. I am looking up images and items to paint as my new JOTT family's attributes that they carry on the train with them. Lots of football imagery in this new painting, Jesus likes football here. Have to be careful not to paint Jesus in blue though, he has to be seen to be above having a favourite team.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Thank You For All Your Comments

Following the article on Steve in the Chichester Observer I am really grateful for all the responses I received. The exhibition will take place at some time some where, watch out for it.

Now. Moving into the studio world again, the highs and lows of day to day life in here. The roller coaster existence of a Bogor Regis whirlwind of creativity and passion. That's me. I have 12 year old son off to school after his eggs on toast, with most of it down his front and in his hair. Quick change of shirt and tidying him up and he goes with a pre-teen grunt of disgust to the train. "Bye sweet little boy who used to love his mummy" I say as he trudges off. "Ug" I hear him say in the distance.

15 year old boy next. Where is his bus pass and what have I done with it, he says as I hand him his green tea which he has for his health. I remain quiet, this doesn't seem like a conversation to me, it sounds like a formula to make it easier to assert himself over his mum sending him off to school still. And off he goes, with his trousers accidentally tucked into his white socks, looking so cool till you get to his ankles and there he looks like Michael Jackson from Killer.

Only 19 year old daughter to go. She doesn't start work till the evening, so she can sleep on and I am in the studio. With my tray of tea, my working coat on, and much to do. I feel sad these days, since I took out all Steve's pictures in order to work on them. Where did he go? Well, I am far enough removed from the 29 November 2007 now to make the paintings, and I am ready for it. And I have to say, Alan is always so supportive. He helped me do my garden flower pots on Sunday in the sunshine. How lovely is that? The pots of flowers look exciting, fresh and healthy in my garden and outside my studio. My garden and studio look cared for. Off to do two more Jesus on the Tubes now, and get ready for the Open Doors Studio Trail I am taking part in on 9 and 10, 16 and 17 May. Never a dull moment in here.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Todays Article in the Chichester Observer about the Death of Steve Shaw

This is the picture that leads the article. It shows Steve Shaw 20 to 30 minutes after he died of liver cancer. I have not wanted to put this part of my artistic and personal life on the blog until now, when the time is right. This is briefly what it is all about.

Steve Shaw was my partner who died suddenly of liver cancer in 2007. On the 29 November, at 9.58 am. In late August, he and I were on holiday in Wales, fishing and swimming and having a perfect time together. On September the 4th he was given the diagnosis that he had cancer in his liver and on December the 4th we had his funeral.

We were not together more than eighteen months. I met Steve after raising three children on my own for ten years, and could not believe the miracle of meeting Steve. We both fell for each other at first sight. I can remember every moment and every feeling. Steve was an engineer but understood my art instinctively. His reaction to being in the studio was pure joy, and I could tell whether a painting worked or not by his expression. Being very good at DIY he was excellent at fixing the frames and hangings on the back of the finished works, and so practical at hanging the paintings at exhibitions.

He was in remission for bowel cancer when we met, had been given the all clear and was so happy and grateful to live his life, be strong and active. But in late Spring a shadow was detected on his liver and though the word Cancer was not mentioned at this point, we both knew what it was. His consultants were anxious but would not use the word Cancer, and Steve asked for the Summer to come to some decisions about his treatment. Of course, with this kind of cancer there is generally only palliative treatment but Steve was full of hope and determination. He would beat it. By September the shadow would be gone.

But it wasn't. Once we had the confirmation that it was cancer in his liver, I knew it was only a matter of time. He refused to accept it, and fought on with all sorts of alternative approaches - aided and abetted by me. I agreed to anything and everything that offered us hope, even of a stay of a few months. We even flew to New York to visit with the Dalai Lama's own doctor. I think then I saw real death in Steve's body. It was very sad. He was too ill and exhausted to get out of the train to Grand Central Station to get the taxi to the appointment. We stayed with my ever patient ever loving relatives in Connecticut.

We travelled to Croatia to stay with and say goodbye to his life long friend there. We went fishing and chatted and Steve began to suffer from crippling pains in his stomach, the cancer had spread to his pancreas. Still he did not complain and told us he would recover, he could not leave us. But in the photos of that holiday, Steve's eyes are haunted, his skin is yellow and he is getting thinner and thinner. I was in deep deep distress one minute at the hopelessness of it all, and full of hope and optimisim the next after he spoke so reassuringly of his recovery. He wouldn't leave me he said.

Later, he changed that to he would always be with me. A big difference. I hated that, I said I didn't want that, it was no good to me. What good was that kind of thing if I couldn't hold his hand or touch his face, or hear his quiet voice telling me not to worry? I wasn't in the least impressed with his memory being there for ever. Stuff that, I said. Poor Steve, it wasn't his fault.

So eventually, more stays in hospital. My cousin and her three children came to stay to see him (they always all got on well). Being direct and medically trained herself, my cousin told me he had only weeks to go. As they left, the children came in one by one to shake Steve's thin tired hand and say goodbye and thank you. My strong wonderful cousin embraced Steve and kissed him and said goodbye and cried all the way home to Kent. That evening, Steve lay down on the bed, and I lay down with him. Steve had found nights very difficult, he was so thin and in so much pain. He would lie on the floor, on the sofa, wonder around trying to find some peace. We found a position where we could hug each other without pain, and we laughed and giggled as it was so like the old days and stayed like that for about 2 hours before the pain started again.

While Steve was in hospital, I took the decision to put him into a hospice. It was clear he was not coming home, and still he would not accept he was going to die. I went into the hospital and took him his food every day. He would only eat a bland diet of foods that didn't hurt his stomach or strain his body. Eventually, all he would eat were orange segments, with the skin removed from them. I prepared dish after dish of these segments and in the hospice, they filled the fridge. He could only mutter Segments from time to time then, and maybe manage one or two before falling back into his fuddled state. So, I told Steve that I had arranged for a Hospice for him as soon as possible. All his family were with us then, his two children, his ex wife, his mother and four siblings. He was philosophical about the hospice, he said it would give him some recovery time.

Steve in the hospital after agreeing to go to the Hospice to get his strength back. A very beautiful man.

So. The doctors agreed that Steve could go home for a while, and I would nurse him. A district nurse would visit, and the hospice would be in touch with me as soon as a bed became available. As soon as someone died, we thought. Steve's family took him back to his place, and after a while we were alone. That night was the worst ever. I simply could not cope being in the bed with him. He was dying beside me and I was so lonely and frightened. He was absorbed in trying to find some comfort, he was agitated, and muttering to himself, and being strange. It was the dead of night and silent and dark, and I couldn't handle it. Steve's mind started to ramble. He began to be unable to get to the toilet, and he began to discharge the most awful matter. I went into the spare room to try and rest and was so distressed and frightened, I couldn't sleep and I couldn't cry. I could hear him trying to get up in the night, falling over, getting lost, mumbling and trying to get to the loo. Every time I would get up to help him back he looked furious. Turned out, I had never left the bed before, and he couldn't understand why I was in the spare room. I couldn't begin to tell him, he was not coping with reality very well.

After the district nurse had been, and some pain relief supplied I packed Steve into my car and drove him the hour long journey to my house. There, my dear friend Eileen had made him a bed on the sofa he loved to sit and work on, and had filled the room with candles and flowers. By then Steve couldn't walk and we had a wheel chair. This only went as far as my front steps, when Steve put his arms round my shoulders from behind, and I dragged him in. He was so thin his trousers fell down at that point, and he was so amused by this he laughed and laughed. I will always love the memory of the old joking Steve being so amused at himself.

When Steve saw how Eileen had created a fairy tale place of peace and beauty, his face was so so happy. We put him to bed and I hit on an idea to try and contain his incontinence. I had some trainer nappies from old upstairs, for the kids, and because Steve, 6' 2" and once so bonny, had shrunk so drastically, they fitted. He wore trainer nappies and was amused by this too. I think that night was the best and last we had together. He was so at peace in the room Eileen had created for him. She and I took it in turns to do night duty that night. At 3am Eileen came and said Steve had asked for me. I went downstairs and found him barely able to speak. He said that he wasn't getting any better. He was tired and it was time for him to go. He would go at the weekend. This was Thursday. I said OK. That sounds good. When your family have gone home. Then we kissed and hugged and I went back to bed. I felt there had been angels in the room. He was so happy and joyful. He was radiant. I felt relieved and went back to bed calmly. Steve had agreed to meet his own death. He had accepted it and had even made the decision when to go.

When I came down later in the morning, Steve was different. He was desparate to go and settle his affairs concerning his boat in Brighton. He needed to cancel his Yacht club membership, his mooring arrangements and sell the boat. He was very agitated to have this done now, I think he knew his mind was wandering, and he had decided to die in the next few days. We met his brother at the boat yard, and his lovely red boat and all the paper work was handed over to his brother. Steve couldn't move from the car. All the officials came out to talk through the window to deal with his business. It was a day when the natural order of things was suspended. I practially drove into the reception areas of the boat yards and clubs so that he could tell them what he wanted to do. Eveyone was calm and professional, and no one commented on how this living yellow skeleton with death written all over him had once been the bonny funny talented and dedicated man with his chartered trips of like minded fishing enthusiasts out in the sea in all weathers at weekends. At this point the Hospice called and said they were ready, a bed was free and waiting. Steve just sighed with relief and said he wanted to go now to the Hospice.

I cried on that journey. I told him how much I would miss him. He just waved his hand and smiled. He was long past that kind of talk. At the Hospice (Steve's brother's sat nav took us into the local police station at first), oh such a relief. They took one look at Steve and said let us take him now. I howled and howled then. It was done, he was there, his job was now to die and I didn't have to do any more. Needless to say, they looked after me wonderfully as I lost the plot, and I will never forget how perfect those Hospice staff are. Uttely perfect.

Steve died a week later on the Thursday. I didn't get to him until just after. That is when I decided to paint him as we had decided I should, and not be afraid. He was so keen that I should. I was less keen, as I was going to have to gaze and my dead lover and that seemed not only a bad idea, but completely stupid. It would just make me cry and howl all over again. But as I sat with Steve just after he died, I held his hand and talked to him of how I would do it. It would take me some time, but I would celebrate his life and more importantly, his death. I was so stunned by how death is not fearful. Steve died with dignity. He showed me how to do it. When I die, Steve will be there smiling and waiting for me. He promised.

If anyone wants to contact me about this or the proposed exhibition of Steve Shaw's death and last few months, email me on . Thanks.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Ross Family Portrait and Jesus on The Tube Pictures (and then paperwork day)

Here is the Ross Family Portrait. I didn't say that the Rosses loved it, and they did. They do. They really do and I am breathing easy and feeling kind of sad it is all done and over. This is oil on wood, and the painting continues round the sides of the painting. It is 3' by 2' so quite a size. Note, please, the Pergola.... Each of the family members wears the outfits that suit them best, and has items that relate to them and who they are around them. For example, Jamie is the Master of the Household and is at the barbeque, and has smart blue clothes, shiny brown shoes and has a brief case, a tennis racquet and some Cobra non alcoholic beer as his attributes. On the far left, Ed has longer hair and has his jeans and shirt on and has as his items his trumpet, a book of sonatas and some Bishops Finger beer. Helen , the Lady of the House and mother of five, wears her favourite floaty top and has pink espadrilles with little white polka dots. She carries a tray of her famous salmon, egg and avocardo entrees. And so on. Lovely family, full of fun and music, and all with fantastic hair.

This is the Jesus on the Tube for the beautiful family in Connecticut. This was a success too, and I am very happy about that. This was only 7" by 9" and painted in acrylics on paper. So completely different to the big oil masterpiece above. Here the children have their special items to say who they are and what they like to do. Natalia on the far left likes knitting and is knitting a scarf. She wears her favourite Woodstock tee shirt. Next to her Isabella has her pretty pink track suit on and has drawing things and her twinkly pink purse. Paula who is the Mum, has a bunch of flowers and a Fortnum and Mason bag and wears her favourite espadrille shoes. Jesus is having a cup of tea and has little Alexander's yo-yo dangling from his elbow. Little Alexander sits on his Dads knee sharing his ipod and has his best blanket on the seat between him and Jesus. Matt, the Dad, has a cup of coffee and his smart clothes, and has his cat in a cat carrier next to him and his beloved Mariner (the dog) at his feet.

So same kind of idea for both paintings, but one is huge and the other is tiny.

Now, I have much paper work to do. Easter is over and I think I have eaten almost on auto pilot. Weight Watchers doesn't prepare one for eating on auto pilot. So today it is back to a sensible diet. Actually, my darling sister in law told Alan he's lost weight and that was great. He looks slimmer. Didn't tell me I looked slimmer though. Probably wanted to wait till I had swallowed the whole large chocolate egg I had crammed with a kind of primeval urge into my mouth while clutching savagely a box of (12 year old son's) Pringles to my chest. Not a good moment to discuss or comment on my weight. 19 year old Daughter is back from the USA last night, and it is lovely to have her back. So today we visit Grandma who is 79 today and just recovering from a nasty virus. So it will be lovely to see her.

Had my tea, done my blog, now got to do the stuff on the desk which has piled very high, and then 2 more Jesus on the Tubes to do before the end of May.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Oh Goodness, What A Quiet Day

Yesterday I took the painting to the Ross Family. There are five offspring between the ages of 23 and 11, Mum and Dad and a photo of Grandma. I was very happy and very nervous to hand it over, not only because they all might go "Uuuug, it's horrible and you are a charletan" but because the green grass paint wasn't dry and made long green lines on anything it touched. Like my black trousers. I just gave an amused shrug and said "Hey, it's what we artists have to put up with." I just hoped they would not go near the wet bits. The painting lay flat on bubble wrap on their dining room table, and will remain there until the blinking green paint dries. It is all part of the mystery.

However, I returned home here to 15 year old boy who was determined that 12 year old boy had faked his whole food poisoning episode. And he wants to be a counsellor. "You just want attention with this food poisoning lark. Admit it. Admit it now. I know. There, you feel better don't you. That will be £20.00"

And today, I feel like someone has taken my bones away. I droop over all the furniture, and gaze longingly at the larder and fridge wishing meals would make themselves and present themselves to me. I can barely finish a sentence and the thought of running makes me enter a deep melancholy. A black pit. This evening I am meeting some more delightful people who want a Jesus on the Tube. I only hope I can pass as normal, and finish sentences and not gaze vacantly at their forheads as they tell me what they want. I really want to do well for this family, it is important they get exactly what they want. Maybe they are confering now together, and saying worriedly "Oh I hope Antonia Rolls isn't a dynamic and jolly person. I do hope she sits listlessly leaning slightly sideways and stares into space and doesn't really seem all there. That is the kind of artist we want to do our picture. It would be very good too, thought too much to hope for, if she could drool slightly out of one of the sides of her mouth which is slack. We would feel better to be received like this."

Tomorrow is another day. If I give in to my inertia today, then probably tomorrow I will be filled with witty incisive conversation, and get things done before they even need doing. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I Done It

I have finished the Ross Family Portrait. It is done and almost finished and is next door wanting just a bit of a fiddle here and there. So. I can do it. So. The pergola was not an insurmountable problem, the Face I Couldn't Do got done, the materials and fabrics got done and somehow here we are. The day dawns when the Ross Family Portrait will be on the Ross Family Wall being gazed at by the Ross Family. What do you know.

The Jesus on the Tube has gone and is happily received. The beautiful lady who commissioned it is happy in Connecticut, and likes it. And likes the frame (thank you thank you thank you framers in Chichester).

So today I am a bit flat. 12 year old son was up all night with food poisoning, much sickness and pooh, and I didn't get to bed till 6am when it seemed to clear up. He is so good and stoic, he is such a sweet child and I slept in his single bed with him until he said Your're too big mum and you snore, can you go to your own bed? I thought I was being the selfless loving mother sharing in her son's trauma. but actually I fell asleep, sprawled all over his bed and snored. He had to climb over me to get to the loo. A lot.

London tomorrow to present the painting, looking forward to it and hope they like it. I like it. Bye.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Going to London Today

No work in the Studio today. I am out of it doing fetching and carrying duties. I would like to have an easy life, and have servants to do everything for me. But I will see my lovely old Dad today and my admirable and tower of strength brother, and will have Daughter and Youngest Son with me all day. That will be nice. And all the while the Ross Family Portrait will not paint itself and I will not think about it. Not once. Not even every ten minutes. It is under control. As ever.

Sometimes I wake up and consider everything a challenge. Not big challenges to get over and stand triumphantly with my hands on my hips and a self conscious grin suggesting "Shucks. I did it again. Goddam. I just can't help it". These are teeny difficult challenges like Why is Food an Enemy? How can I Do Anything At All When my Time Is Taken Up With Trivia? Why Do I Feel Lonely? Is Anything I Do Really Worth It? These little niggling challenges are the kind that sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear that you are not good enough. The way to deal with them is to decide they are not challenges at all, just nonsense and as such get on with the day. Hard though. And have something to look forward to.

Today is a good long family day, and there is much travelling to be done. I go to London, to Teddington, to Dorking and Home again. Delivering various people to other various people, and having dinner out too. Tomorrow I can sit all day in my studio and paint and in the evening Alan will come and it will be a good end to a good day. Sigh. Onwards and upwards. My rewards will be many. Sigh.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Here At Last

It is 2pm and I am only now sitting in my studio, wearing my old green stained boiler suit (statement of intent, I am a Working Person in my Stained Boiler Suit). But I have done some work, of a sort. Today's big success is as follows -

I found a man called Tony who has said he can, and will, make a fancy Baroque Picture Frame for my Jesus on the Tube. He said he would call me today when it is done, and gave me a price which was below my budget. I said nonchalantly "Oh let me see mmmm ok then. And have I your word that it will be done by close of business today?" What I was actually supressing was "Ohmigod omigod omigod are you sure? Can I look after your aging mother for you? Can I give you one of my sons as a slave (the 15 year old one) can I tie your shoelaces? A real frame? By tonight? And this frame too? The fancy baroque one that I really want? Money is no object I will sell my house for this"

Tony must be one of the few people who doesn't know the agony and ecstasy of painting this JOTT. His picture framing shop is a place of calm and detached measuring of frames and cutting of glass and sticking down of backs so the picture hangs nicely on the wall.

I have left the framing till the last minute, it is all my fault. In London I had a wonderful friend called Charles who had a framing business round the corner from my house and was used to me doing this. Perhaps I should make sure Charles and now my new framing provider Tony, never get to know of each other. This JOTT goes off to USA tomorrow and has to be ticketty boo for the beautiful family in Connecticut who commissioned it and only want a nice picture not an epic saga to go with it.

After the framing success I went with my daughter for a pedicure at the local college to let the students practice on real people. I was so relieved and emotional I fell asleep and didn't talk to the delightful girl who did my feet. I think I had an Old Person's feet and was allowed to pass out with all the other Old People that she must have to practice on.

So now, it is time to put all that excitement aside, and do the Ross Family Portrait. Today, I will do Clothes, Textures and Materials. The big day of completion is in sight. Allellulia.