Sunday, April 26, 2009

Illustration Friday - Theatre

In loving memory of Leroy the cat!
From the age of 11, I was brought up in a single parent family with two sisters, a brother and a young male cousin. My mother frowned on television and couldn’t afford to buy one anyway, so us kids mostly created our own entertainment. One of our favourite games was playing ‘Theatre’. We’d dress up in old clothes, rig up some curtains (usually a blanket
stretched across a doorway) and we’d play act for hours, making it up as we went along. One day we realised we had a ready made stage if we used the wide windowsill in the bedroom with its heavy drapes. I remember that day like it was yesterday. My young brother, playing the spurned boyfriend, announced to the world (well the four of us really), that he was ‘leaving this place forever’ and with a dramatic flourish of his right arm, accidentally opened the out swinging, casement window with his other hand and promptly disappeared backwards through the opening. He fell four feet but lucky for him his fall was into a freshly dug flower bed. The rest of us, not realising how serious the situation could have been, were left rolling around in fits of laughter, which only increased when Gerry reappeared through the doorway covered in mud and bits of vegetation and a very cranky look on his face. Magic!

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 30’s that I had my first experience of viewing live theatre and I LOVED it. I knew I would!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Illustration Friday "Impossibility"

Some people think that giving up smoking is an 'impossibility'. I've never tried it myself, but through my life, I've watched many people I love struggling with the habit. My father was a heavy smoker, perhaps that's why I never tried it – the smell of stale tobacco on his clothing, the yellow teeth, and his stained fingers was enough to keep me from trying it. He was in the Royal Marines during World War II and was stationed for a time in Palestine. Most of the soldiers there were smokers, my dad amongst them. Standing guard duty at night time then had its own special perils if you were a smoker. Enemy snipers used to target the glowing red end of a cigarette as the smoker dragged on it. The guards quickly learned how to avoid making themselves a target by turning their cigarettes back to front so the glowing end remained hidden in the cupped palm of their hand. The one enduring memory I have of my dad is seeing him squatting on his haunches at the side of a newly dug veggie patch, puffing on his back to front cigarette, staring off into space. Maybe he was remembering all those nights he spent on guard duty in Palestine…

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ruby's Portrait

For my very first post I thought I would show you a photocopy of a portrait I did of little Ruby. This was for her first birthday, and something special I thought she could keep for always. It should definitely stand the test of time because Tony has very carefully framed it using all the right kind of materials - anti acidic matt board and UV glass and it looks stunning against a black matt and surround by a black frame with just a hint of a pattern on it. The pattern on the frame echoes the Celtic inspired design in the corner.

This picture shows you the work 'in progress'. I got into Pointillism a number of years ago, and it really suits my temperament. It's a painstaking process and it takes many, many hours to complete a portrait like this. But all that effort is rewarded with fantastic reproduction of details. I am particularly happy with the eyes in this portrait – they contain such innocence and it makes me smile inside when I look at it.

If you look at the Celtic inspired design in the top right hand corner, you will notice that I've experimented with a number of ways of creating it. I tried solid black; outlining in black; filling in the negative space; but eventually decided on filling in with straight forward Pointillism for the final design.

I think blogging is going to be a great way for me to keep a record of my future works, because I mostly give them away as presents and only get to see the work when I visit that person. With family scattered across the world I don't get to visit some of my work very often!

You may be wondering - what is the significance of the Red Back Spider? Because Ruby is the product of an Australian father and a Welsh mother I wanted to include these two important aspects of Ruby's heritage in the final work. I also wanted to experiment with the work by adding a minute amount of red to illustrate Ruby's name. My daughter, Nicola came up with the idea for the spider, which is an Australian Red Back – how appropriate! Thanks Nic!