Tuesday 30 June 2009

Artist With Much To Do, None Of It Art

How can an Artist have so little art to do and so much Family? It's OK I am not complaining, I am taking a quizzical look from a safe distance and making an observation. I am in my studio, my paints are ready, at any moment I could - I could - paint a masterpiece. But 15 year old son is now 16 and is going to Detroit and Chicargo the day after tomorrow. He is still in bed and when he wakes up will be too tired to pack, or sort out his spending money, or talk to me. Then he will have to go out with friends and be back late and tomorrow is his last day to get ready. Are your clothes clean? I say. What's your problem, he replies, I am Invincible, I am the Great Teenager, everything will fall into place behind my back as I do absolutely Sweet Fanny Adams.

So this morning I will get his travel insurance. I will see if he has any clean clothes. I will find a suitcase. I will check him in online for his flight. On Thursday we leave at 4.30am as I drive him to the airport and leave him at security. No, not at the airport police with their cells and handcuffs and sniffer dogs, at the bit where they will check his little cabin bag and ask if he has any semtex in his shoes.

As for me, 19 year old daughter is taking me to Verona for the weekend. Can you beat that? We are doing a cooking course. So I need to get myself ready, get the 12 year old sorted for the weekend here with his Grandma coming to stay, and off to Verona with Daughter at dawn on Saturday. I am exhausted now, thinking about it all.

Art? Art! That elusive thing. I have a painting to do, another to start next week and the whole Steve exhibition to start. I am doing Office Stuff at the moment, I am doing a course on my own PR and part of that means reading loads of glossy mags (fab) and learning to cold call (not fab). I am dragging out the glossy mag bit for the moment.

Oh look, it is time to go to the post office to get 16 year old son's travel insurance. Wouldn't want him to be inconvenienced in any way, I will creep out of the house in case the poor child wakes too early and isn't ready for Facebook.

Friday 26 June 2009

A Droopy Start, Climbing Upwards

First, thank you all for responding to the Print Sale. I am really grateful for all of you who bought the images, thank you.

The Droopy Start. Well, it rained in the night, and the blue sky I have been waking up to turned into a grey uninspiring kind of sky. I had been getting used to waking up at about 6 with a feeling of promise and excitement in the air. The bright sunny early morning light seeming to say in an Enid Blyton Famous Five kind of way, Ho there Antonia, jolly well get up and explore. So I would get out of bed at 6.30 and run my little 15 minute circuit, coming back to make of this bright day with all its promise, something very satisfying.

Today, I woke to grey rain and the constant noise of my neighbours overflow pipe. And Michael Jackson had died, and I had had limited sleep because I was on the phone till late. And 12 year old son had to be woken and sent to school and it was all too too boring.

I didn't go for my run. I sloped off into the kitchen thinking the day was going to be lost to gloom and furious muttering from me.

And then the sun came out! I took another lead from the Famous Five and threw my shoulders back, stood up straight and gave myself a stern talking to. I say Old Girl, I said to myself, looking serious and authoratitive, Pull yourself together and jolly well play the game. I mean to say old thing, don't let the bally weather get you down. Beastly start to the day and all that, but, you know, you simply have to get over it.

So I did. And am. Over it. I am off to London now to see my dear dear friend, and on to see another old school chum and then home in time to go to an Abba Queen Beatles Tribute Thing at Goodwood with Alan. What is more, I am wearing a bright pink dress, pink toenails and pink lipstick. I am able to shine, even if the sun doesn't.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Treat Yourselves To A Painting

My Dear Friends, Cheer Youselves Up With Some Fun and Colour

Today you are going to buy prints and make yourselves happy.

I have one Jesus on the Tube print left. Mounted on dark red and measuring 8"x 8". It is a quality print and needs a new home. I am selling this one for £25, ten pounds less than my normal price.

With all these prints, postage and packaging will add a bit extra, a few pounds I should think. Not much though.

This is my most famous image, and has its own website. Visit http://www.jesusonthetube.co.uk/ and see what it is all about.

And now onto something more frivolous.

Two Pretty Angels on the left,

and a vase of Flowers with a Tiny Ladybird on bottom right.

Blue Angel in the Sky

I have wonderful A3 prints of these images for £10 each. But only a few left I am glad to say. Printed on lovely thick paper specially chosen to enhance the colour and happiness.

The originals are Acrylic on canvas and are 9"x 12"and are £50 each. As with them all, postage and packing are a couple of quid extra.

And now onto something even more frivolous and fun

A Blue Brunette Lady print. This is part of the Ladies Series. Originals are about 48"x 30".

The prints are A4 size, mounted and ending up 12"x 16"

These are usually £40, but because I love you all I am going to ask for £25 for them. Postage and packing will be extra, and won't amount to that much.

There is something magical and wistful about this lady, just turning to see something of huge significance over her shoulder.

The utterly lovely Undressing Lady
who is proud and beautiful. You can imagine
the power of the original at 4' tall. The print
I am selling of her is stong and vibrant, like the
original painting. Ladies have loved this painting!

And the Blue Bottom Lady. As with the Undressing Lady, a 4' bum is really something. There are two of these yummy bottom prints left, they have been so popular.

On the left here, is Green Teeshirt Lady. She is wearing my best black and white spotty knickers.

On the right, the very popular Yellow Lady who has been the most popular image of them all. I have two prints of her left.

And last of all, how is this for a triptych painting of the Divine with a Common Touch -

Jesus Finding Divinity Hard After A Late Night Out

This is the original Triptych and is about 6"x 4". Acrylic on canvas and the word on the right hand painting is "zzzz". It will be, all three of them together, for you, £90.

Ok people. Contact me on antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com and buy either yourself or someone else a present. I will even gift wrap it for you, if it is for someone important.

Check out my website for all my images and styles


Thank you.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Happiness Again. Blip In The System Over

Hello Everyone. You will be glad to know that my gloom and weariness has gone, and has been replaced by an Artist who runs every morning and says Bah, Pesky Worries and gets on with things. I think the only way to know you have something good is to experience something bad. That sad patch I just had (on Friday) makes me feel that today, Tuesday, is really a fun place to be.

On Friday, I was hungry. Just as well, I had two breakfasts and took a snack with me on the train to eat before meeting delightful American friends for lunch in Brighton. Because I was also terribly tired, I fell asleep on the train and woke with a start with only 10 minutes to go. I still needed to eat my snack, and oh heavens, did so in a quick and unseemly fashion. Then I met my friends for lunch and was so happy to see them. They are a wonderful couple, deeply intelligent and interested in the world. We went to a Mexican restaurant and they both broke into perfect Spanish. Well, a couple of years ago they were just beginning their Spanish lessons in Arizona. Now they are fluent. They speak German too, and just to give you some idea, both are retired and instead of choosing to sit and nod gently at the Arizona scenery, they travel the world, learn languages, learn to play golf, and James is a professor with three posts. Wow. And they have five of my paintings. We love them.

By Friday evening, when Alan picked me up from Brighton and drove me home, I was babbling. By about 10pm I was in a sort of waking coma and would have agreed to anything at all from anyone, and I don't remember much after that.

The Ball! Let's talk about the ball. My dress, oh it was so lovely. It was taken in so tightly I had to breathe in little sharp bursts and stay ramrod straight. To sit down I had to place myself in a perfect right angle and keep up the little gasps of breath. Of course, the zip couldn't stay up by itself and just before the ball the ever thoughtful Alan safety pinned me into the dress and gave me much more freedom to live. The food was excellent, and since I was still hungry from my miserable Friday I ate it all with no thought at all for the safety pins keeping my body from exploding out of my dress. Our party included Alan's very gifted and creative son and his lovely girlfriend, and we really had a ball at the ball. I love dancing with Alan, he's very good at it and so we danced a lot and Alan had to tell me to stop staring at him. As an artist, I am allowed to fix someone - anyone - with a gimlet stare, but I did stop. He did look good in his DJ though.

Now, I have no commissions. Time is mine to make the future of, so to speak. I can make of it what I will, as there are no plans as yet in it. I have a few ideas, and will get back to you on them. I do have to concentrate on painting Steve's paintings. I think if I rent out at least one of my rooms in the house, that will help as I concentrate on making the exhibition work. And of course I have to find more commissions, to work at alongside the exhibition and the renting out of a room.

Off with 15 year old son to Grandma's now for breakfast. 15 year old son is making a great study of Big Brother and I am required to join him nightly to watch the show. His comments are very insightful and he is young enough not to cringe with embarrassement at the way we are entertained by these youngsters. It made me think of Romans enjoying the spectacle at the Arena of people forced to fight each other to death. Lovely day out dear. Fancy, says one Roman matron to another, anyone not enjoying these Gauls mauling each other for our entertainment. She looks thoughtful for a few minutes and then shivers with distaste. What is it Claudia dear? says her friend. Oh mutters Claudia, I was just thinking, what if we had to watch people trapped in their house for months on end, with no idea of the outside world, just being pitted against each other psychologically and grinding each other down and ending up mad. A silence follows. Both ladies shake themselves and say as one, No, no, that would be too cruel. No one would do that to people. Both pull their shawls round their shoulders and return to watching one Gaul run another through with a spear.

Off to Grandmas and scrambled eggs now.

Friday 12 June 2009

Adrift A Little, In A Pocket Of Calm Before Tons Of Stuff Happens At Once

I finished the Jesus on the Tube last night. I emailed the finished image this morning to the commissioning family and am now waiting for approval before framing it. And that could be before midday today, or tomorrow morning early. Before collecting my clean and altered ball dress. And getting to Brighton to meet 19 year old daughter. While 12 year old son gets train to Brighton after school at midday too. Oh Lordy. Was the human mind built for such complication. And the Ball is tomorrow. And on Sunday plans are still in the making, all of which mean lots of hard work and rushing about.

The Calm I am in now is a weary place to be. I am weary and low and have come to the end of a long period of painting and creating. I took it easy this morning, and had a bath in the sunshine and got dressed slowly. But something made me sigh and want to dream and think. The bath would have to end, the sun would go in, I would have to find more work. Even if I run every day I will never have nice legs. I am getting older and have so much more to do, and when I try and make a list of these things, they evaporate like a mist and I cannot catch them.

So today I am looking lovely in my studio. My hair is clean, I have Rose Talc and Daisy Perfume on. I am wearing a lovely Rajasthan skirt in bright red and colourful embroidery, and my toenails are painted. All this is to keep the show going. I can scrub up very nicely, but I still am tired and low, and despite having worked so hard, have to start all over again and find more. It feels as if there is only More To Do.

However, I expect I will feel better by tonight. I am going to Brighton today too, as well as tomorrow, and meeting my dear American friends for lunch. I hope I don't droop wistfully over the starters and look sadly into the middle distance. I will be meeting my ever wonderful daughter today too, after the lunch and she always makes me feel good. She understands the need to buy earrings, teapots, red things and lipstick when the going gets tough. Alan will drive me home later and eventually, eventually, tonight, I can go to sleep and let today settle in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes I think, these sad days are necessary, they are the where we gather strength in order to move forward.

Perhaps at the back of my mind is the exhibition that must be prepared, about Steve and his final days. It will mean going into a state of mind full of memories and the impossible ending of a dream that will be important to make these paintings work.

Now, to the station. Time to get a train and take part in the day.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

A Ball, A Dress, A Fatigued Fifteen Year Old and the Dry Cleaners

Well. As a busy Artist this is what I am doing. Ready?

  • Going to a Ball on Saturday with Alan.
  • Looking for a Ball Dress
  • Meeting lovely JOTT client and friend this afternoon here, for tea and progress report on his painting
  • Feeding my deliciously ungracious sons their nutritious and balanced dinner (Just fry it Mum. But it was fried yesterday my son. Roll it in some lard mother dear, and do it again)
  • Going to see Alan an hour's drive away for dinner tonight
  • Finishing the JOTT before Friday
  • Waiting for the phone call that the frame is ready and I can go and do that either Friday or Saturday
  • Friday -off to lunch with some wonderful American friends in Brighton. These kind and interesting people have about five paintings from me, and so I think they can do no wrong. Painting wise.
  • See Daughter after lunch on Friday before maybe waiting for Alan to come back from the Big Outside World and drive me home. Or I get a train.
  • Saturday - drive 12 year old to school (he has school on Saturdays), frame painting, collect ball gown from dry cleaners, pack, get train to Brighton and shop with daughter, meet 12 year old from train in Brighton later, leave all at my brother's flat and get ready and Off To The Ball. Somehow.
  • Go to Ball and laugh, joke, recline gracefully, dance and be entertained. Last year I wore a wonderful dress that needed my very magic Magic Knickers to make me smooth and thin. Except I was 2 stone heavier than I am now and they cut off my circulation and will to live. I managed to remove them while at dinner, somehow, and hide them under the table. Before dinner as I sat down I was smooth and shapely. Miracle, when I got up from dinner I had put on 2 stone. Where I was nicely compact sitting down before I ate, there was a seemingly unnaccountable straining of zips, a creaking of material and an all round expansion after, when I stood up. And under the table was an unidentifiable bundle of flesh coloured latex. Gosh, my fellow diners must have thought, that woman sure has a problem with her metabolism.

So now, the tea, the dress, the sagging fifteen year old and dry cleaner. Briefly.

I had no Ball Gown. I saw two possibles in a Charity Shop in Chichester and went in to try them on. Into the changing room went a paint spattered gypsy and out came, I hoped, a Fairy. But both gowns were too big and oh the pain. Why can't Cancer Relief have Ball Gowns that fit me? I mean to say. Alan is far too far away making the world go round in the NHS to come and tell me Actually, A Ball Gown That Doesn't Fit Makes You Irresistable In My Eyes (and to be fair, if he could have come to the Charity Shop, he would have done so) so I asked my 15 year old son to come in this morning to tell me what he thought.

We get to the shop this morning, by 9.30am. I decide to drive 12 year old to school and take 15 year old son in the car to save time, petrol etc. Both boys go into an exaggerated sleep as soon as we set off, and snore and look dead. What is it with these kids and sleep? 15 year old son is cursing his decision to come in and help, and is unable to open his eyes properly. So he squints. We go into the Charity Shop. Son stands as though he has been left there by his carer and has no idea who I am. I collect the two dresses and wave them cautiously in front of Son, hoping his half closed eyes are just a Teenage Statement and that he can see. No response. Son looks like he is being harrassed by an arty looking lady wanting attention. I long for Son to say something like Gerroff Mum so that the shop ladies will know we do have a relationship and he has seen me before.

Son tells me to try them on. I try one on and look nice, and like a big blue gauze powder puff. He likes it. He says Wear a Pale Lipstick and then says no more. I try on the next one, the vintage Black One and look a bit boring, but it has potential. It needs altering, but it will possibly do. Son regards me through his sleepy eyes and shakes his head. He doesn't mind that I look inflated in the blue one, he thinks it shows character and I look fun. Oh my son, I want to say. I am now stuck in Wanting To Look Nice, I am too old to be Look At Me I Am A Fun Kind Of Gal.

I buy the Black One. The lady in the shop clinches it for me by telling me that the Dry Cleaners next door often do alterations for them, why don't I try there?

Oh Yes. The Dry Cleaners employ an angel by their sewing machine, who made me try it on behind the racks of cleaned garments, and pinned and tucked and took in the dress, and said, kindly, she could have it ready for Friday morning. Thank you, I said, Cinderella shall go to the Ball.

Meantime, Son had gone back to the car and passed out. I love him, he didn't have to come in and help me out, but he did. He is a good fellow. When he wakes up.

So now, I have a dress. Son is resting, and the JOTT is nearly finished. Alan was encouraging and interested in the dress saga, because I kept phoning him to tell him. He gets brownie points for finding this kind of thing interesting; he is at a conference today, and doesn't even have to answer his phone. So as a treat I will give him my pudding on Saturday night at the Ball.

And the Tea? I am having a big pot of tea as my reward for a good morning well spent, and feeling happy again.

Friday 5 June 2009

Quakers Today, A Good Thing

My day today is shaped by meeting some Quakers at the Friends House in Chichester. Two dignified and gentle elderly Quaker ladies came to my Open Studio Exhibition which was held over two weekends in May, and asked me about Steve and the paintings I want to exhibit of his last days and his death. They came for both weekends, and offered the possible use of their Friends House in Chichester for the proposed exhibition.

My feeling about this is that the Quakers are worthy and admirable people. Their quietness, understanding and peacefulness make the offer of their place of worship for Steve absolutely right. It makes me feel there is something good at work out there in the ether, with my interests at heart.

My Open Studios was a fun and light hearted set up, all my large colourful Ladies on display, flowers and cushions making the atmosphere light and bright. There were Angels in evening dresses on display, flying into the sky; there were finely painted portraits, full of colour and individuality, loaned back from families for the event. In my studio were the witty religious paintings, with a rather quirky sideways take on our Christian story. And lastly a whole wall was given over to the Jesus on the Tube display, and as much information about how jolly and professional I am as could be fitted onto an A4 piece of paper.

And into this Happy Display of Fancy Art came my two Quaker ladies. They had read the sad and deeply personal article in the paper about how I was trying to understand Steve's death through my painting, and wanted to find a venue to exhibit them. Maybe they had expected a more sombre set up, paintings of a gloomy and serious nature, and me in dark clothes speaking in little above a whisper. My Quaker ladies asked me gently if I was the same person, and I said Yes. There was a silence. I asked them if they would like to see the paintings, and they said that they would. So we went through the barely clad and brightly coloured Ladies, past the teenaged Mary and Angel Gabriel, past the Male Madonna to the back of my studio where I had hidden the paintings from the public eye. I felt they were too raw a subject to display without some warning. My two Quaker ladies saw and held these images of a ravaged human body, saw and understood the pain in the artist's hand as she painted her dead lover, and made me feel as if I was doing a right and magnificent thing.

After putting the paintings back and covering them up, I was invited to visit the Friends House in Chichester today at midday. So I am going, and even if nothing comes of this meeting, my two Quaker Ladies have touched me deeply. I am looking forward to today immensly.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Like The Mystery Shopper, Mystery Painting Revealed

Recently in a shop I saw a typed notice fixed to the inside of the till which read "The next customer could be the Mystery Shopper". And so, like the old lottery adverts with the big finger pointing to an unsuspecting member of the public with the words "It could be You", I arrived at the church of the Holy Trinity Sloane Square with a bubble wrapped parcel under my arm. The church was full to the brim with glorious people come to watch a number of new members of the congregation be baptised and others be confirmed. The bishop was there (like policemen getting younger, this Bishop looked barely older than my 15 year old) and the patron the Earl and Countess Cadogan. Had they all but known it, I was the Mystery Artist. Had they all but guessed, one of them was the recipient of the Mystery Commission.

I took my seat with the best of the glorious people, Alan by my side. At a given point, I was to collect my painting from behind a pillar and go to the front of the church and wait for my cue. The church is utterly beautiful, the light falls through the newly restored stained glass windows covering everything and everybody inside with patches of bright colourful light. The lines of the church are elegant and strong, making your eyes and spirit travel heavenwards. A wonderful display of flowers surrounded the altar, in all the right colours and shapes, adding to the atmosphere of effortless taste and style.

Shortly before my cue, as we sang great Christian Hymns led by an exceptional choir and organ, our voices ringing out into Sloane Square in glorious and loud harmony, the man behind me suddenly fell on top of me. My first thought was They hate the painting, I've been assassinated. Then I realised that a man with a gun was a better option for assassination, or a phone call before the service asking me not to come would be even more sensible. The man who had landed on top of me hadn't intended it personally, he had just fainted. I was at the end of the pew and was able to help him onto his chair and put his head between his legs, watched with open mouthed astonishment by those around as if this was some kind of double act we did at critical moments in churches all round the land. There is nothing like the unexpected to make people freeze. This mans pew froze and I finally made eye contact with a very nice looking man further along the seat who seemed to own the crumpled bloke in my arms. Sure enough, when no one was looking, the Fainter was Removed and the time for the presentation drew nearer.

So now I waited by the pillar with a large framed painting in my arms. My lovely friend and rector of the church, Rob, made the announcement that there was a break in the proceedings, and would the Earl and Countess Cadogan step forward, please. Rob thanked them for their generosity in restoring all the stained glass windows in the church and he had commissioned an artist to paint them a thanksgiving painting. At this point I skipped out from behind the pillar and joined the group. The Earl I think, was used to all manner of strange presentations, had become immune to people popping out from behind pillars and giving him portraits of himself, his wife and Jesus, with toblerones, dogs, fishing rods and racing colours and massive stained glass windows in the background. However, he was gracious and didn't fix me with a glassy stare and say And Who Are You? His wife, the very elegant and beautiful Lady Cadogan, who was in on the surprise and provided me with photos and information, clasped her hands together and cried It is Wonderful and kissed me on both cheeks. The Earl, large and possibly not quite sure what he had been presented with, then gave me kisses on my cheeks too. After the kisses and jolly moments, we all went back to our seats and sat down; and it was over. Except for the photo shoot outside when the Earl held my Hand and I thought he was a lovely man. I will say for the record, that Lady Cadogan is very very elegant and kind. I thought she was beautiful.

So now, the Earl is saying to the Countess "Darling, did we dream all that? Did a lady in pink lipstick pop out from behind a pillar and give us a painting?" And the Countess will reply "Mmmm yes. I do recall an artist coming here and taking some photos ...Oh! (here the Countess gives an elegant start) Here is the painting. It is real then. And why is there a Toblerone on the Altar? More tea dear?"

And Here It Is. It is acrylic on paper and about 24"x 24". What fun.