Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Closing of the Year

I'm not normally one who ponders the changing of the year and the people who have come and gone through the year, but this year I seem to be feeling it.

This year has seen so many changes in my life.

I've gone from working full time, owning my own home, feeling secure and knowing what I want to do with my life through the whole gamut of losing almost everything.

I lost my home, first because in order to be safe from harassment and violence.

I lost my job because all of the stress involved with the harassment left me a nervous and emotional wreck.

i lost my security because I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if the people who had threatened me and my darling son were following me, had found me. I became paranoid and anxious, almost agoraphobic.

Now, because I had to change my plans, because I couldn't keep up the payments on my house, because all I had worked for and put money into was gone, I am facing the prospect of not being able to go to university to complete my degree. I've applied, but I have no idea how I will pay for it.

This is not to say I'm going to give up. I'm not the sort to just sit back and let the world walk all over me and not try to pick myself up and move on. I am more determined than ever to do what I planned to do. Finish my degree at Glasgow, to go on to do a Therapy MA and become an Art Therapist, helping people find comfort and growth in art, to use art and the creative process as a healing tool. If it works for me, it will work for anyone, because if there is one thing that this year really has taught me is that art is my saviour, my passion, my reason for being. Without it I would not have survived this year, and I certainly wouldn't be looking forward to all the positive things that are going to come my way next year.

2011 here i come, stronger, brighter and more powerful than ever before, because I have only one direction to go. UP!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Presents

I am having a home made Christmas.

There are 2 good reasons for making everything yourself.

1. People really really like handmade stuff

2. I really don't like to waste money on presents that people simply don't want, need or appreciate.

Now its not that i don't like my friends and family, its that i don't like the commercialisation of the winter holidays, be they Chanukah, Diwali, Christmas or the Solstice.

To this end I am struggling to make presents for my loved ones.

Presently I am battling with a cross stitch pattern based on one of my paintings. The software is just not happy with the colours I have picked and is insisting on picking dull browns and greys instead of the vivid yellows and blues of the original painting. I'm now resorting to picking each colour and stitch individually.

Thankfully the other presents have been fairly straight forward.

So here is wishing you a very merry festive season, and a happy healthy and prosperous new year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Personal Statement

I am applying to university.

This involves filling out a very large form, making choices and decisions about where to go and what courses to take, and then completing personal statement.

Ah yes, the personal statement. 47 lines about why a university would be foolish enough to accept me. Lots of things to talk about, lots of things to say, easy on the jokes and try to be grammatically correct and spell everything in ENGLISH please. No special characters and try not to sound like an idiot.

Yeah, OK. Let me just ponder it for a while.

So I'm this really talented, only slightly bonkers artist who until 4 years ago hadn't done any drawing since the first week at secondary school. Really honestly I am, look I can make pretty pictures, weird pictures, textiles and books. I do great things with books, totally cool.

Perhaps that wasn't the right pitch.

What do I say and how do I say it?

Here's what I got so far.

I cannot imagine my life without art, despite it only having been part of my life for the past 4 years. I have crafted continually all my life, and for me art is an extension of what I learned and developed growing up in a crafting home. My life revolves around the creation of art and crafts, and I work constantly on new projects, challenging myself to try new techniques and media, and to keep working with media that I have found difficult. At the same time art is therapy for me, it has helped me deal with the challenges that life has presented me with over the years.

My hobbies revolve around my family, home and art, and I try to combine these hobbies together. I have 2 dogs and spend hours drawing and sketching them. I always have a sketch book with me and I love to sketch people and their dogs whenever I am out and about. Don’t let this love of dogs fool you into thinking my work is twee, whimsical or cute. Far from it. I have an eye for the unusual, difficult and painful. I like to see the rough edges, to look beyond the varnished image presented to the world, and many of my projects during the Foundation Degree have involved looking at the discomforting truth.

Over the past 4 years my confidence and skills have grown, and I have done more than I thought myself capable of. Consequently I want to do more, present myself with greater challenges and see how far I can go. Going to University is the next step in the great journey art can take me on.

Opinions? Please?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Good News, Excellent News

I set up a website on a day when the weather was bad and I was snowed in, bored out of my brains and too chicken to drive my car in the snow.

It has already borne fruit, and I have finally sold my first piece of work! The day the website went live. I'm so happy to finally be able to describe myself as a professional artist.

That was the good news.

The excellent news is the offer of a small solo exhibition next year. Oh yes, solo, one person, all on my own, exhibition. Jumping up and down for joy and in amazement. Suddenly I feel like everything is coming together in my art life.

For now, thought, I have a mountain of work to get through and less time to do it in!

But at least I can call myself a professional now.

Don't forget to check out my website, link to the right.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Taking The Plunge

I'm snowed in. I am totally stuck in the house, mainly because the car is out there, somewhere under the snow that has blessed us here in Sheffield, and because I can't walk a long way because of my dodgy back, and there is almost no public transport running. I am here, at home, alone, bored and pretty much climbing the walls with boredom.

As a release from the boredom, I decided to have a look at website deals. You know the kind, build your own from templates, basic ones that don't quite do what you want them to do but near enough for now.

So now I have a website.

It is a bit dull at the moment, but will improve as I get more confident and better at changing the things I want to change without having to pay more each month. It also includes a gallery and I can add a paypal button if I want, although I am happy just for people to email me if they want anything.

I feel really proud of myself for finally taking the plunge and getting it off the ground. It all adds to the concept of professional artist!

the link is at the side of the blog, called, appropriately enough My Website. Take a look, then let me know what I should add to make it better, more interesting and perhaps even something you'd look at regularly.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Its been a while

I've not posted for a couple of weeks, which isn't really like me, I can always find something to moan on about for a few lines.

I was lucky enough to be invited down to Colchester to meet some very wonderful people and stay in a gorgeous cottage with friends, old and new.

I was taken repeatedly out of my comfort zone, into the town to shop, to an art gallery I'd never been to, to a kennels to meet loads of dogs, all of which I wanted to take home, and to cook real food to be enjoyed by real people. I had a chilled out, completely wonderful time.

I spent a morning taking photos of Sharon and her son Rowan, whose house we stayed at, and I am pleased to say I managed to get some really nice pictures. These will be posted later when Sharon has had chance to look at them.

Spending that time being chilled and being cared for made me realise how far from well I am, and how far I have to go to get better, but it also gave me a glimpse of what I used to be like, when I was well and how I will be again. It was good for me in all ways, healing, supportive and helping me look to future and know that I really do have one.

Thank you Sharon and Rowan for sharing your home and the rest of your family, Linda, Rick, Kelly and Tony for taking the time to meet me and inviting me to the dogs, and for eating the Sunday roast dinner. I promise there will be another bread and butter pudding next time I come over.

Monday, November 08, 2010

More ipod Pics

This is the first life drawing attempt. The app I used is called brushes, and has layers like on Photoshop, but not the filters, so not as versatile, but certainly great for such a portable device.

This is the 2nd, where I enlarged the page as much as I could, but then went and lost a decent starting point, hence the odd positioning.

This is painting number 3. I used the layers to some effect, but wasn't sure I was actually drawing the model or playing and working from memory!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

First iPod drawing

Here is the first ipod drawing using Brushes, the app I downloaded tonight.

This is so cool.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


If you had your life again, what would you change?

If you were able to amend your history and make your life different would you?

If you could be well, overnight and have no illness, no depression, no problems or disabilities would you accept the cure?

If you could have a perfect life would you want it?

My answer to all of these is a resounding clear and definite NO!


Because my talent is a response to hardship, creativity is the way I have survived my life. Without it I would just be one of the 'normal people'.

Without art, without creativity, without the joy that this brings would I not be just as unhappy in the mainstream regular world, doing a normal job, paying a mortgage, having a husband, or wife, raising kids and going to Ibiza on out holidays every year.

Would not my soul die a little living the mundane life of the undamaged, the ordinary, the normal.

Yes my life is hard. It is a struggle on a daily basis with fear, depression, self harm and anxiety. But at the same time I deal with these fears by being creative. Painting, drawing, stitching and writing. The ideas are sometimes easy, but the execution is hard, a battle with the medium and the world. Other times the work comes out easily, and is a cathartic experience at times when I am not doing so well.

If getting well means losing my urge to create, I'll stay ill. It gives me a reason for my life. And without purpose what are we?

Monday, November 01, 2010


As I go to life drawing most weeks, I end up with huge numbers of drawings of people. I have always had ideas about what to do, but mostly have never quite known how to execute them or how to move things on.

I'm getting better at this as time and my course move on, but occasionally it is still a struggle.

The recent drawings I've done at life class are a case in point. They are interesting, strange and in some cases lovely, what do I do with them?

One of them in particular was ripe for development and so I chose to turn it into a lino cut and see what came of it. Here are some of the results.

So in order:

1. The original drawing

2. Print on to black origami paper

3. Print onto bleached and dyed tissue paper

4. The reverse of the tissue paper print

5. A greetings card made from the print.

I want to do some further work on this plate and the printing, adding some background texture and detail perhaps, and creating something multi layered. Possibly over printing and reduction printing. But whatever I choose to do, the initial prints are looking very promising even though I say so myself.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More Drawings

Not much to say here are the no look one line drawing I did last week. I really like this technique and it feels good to work like this.
I tried to download more of these but my internet connection is playing up a bit. More later when I got home and have a reliable one!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surprise Results

Recently I have been trying a new way of looking and drawing. This started as many new ways of working do for me, with the idea that I was going to have a bad week at life drawing. This time, however, it was because I was helping to run it rather than having a bad weekend and being unsure of my ability to do anything.
Now on the weeks where I think I'm not gong to be able to focus or do anything worthwhile I generally try something new. In my twisted logic this is a GOOD IDEA. I'm not stressed that I must produce something really good, in fact I am relaxed and have no expectations of producing anything. And Hey Presto! I usually draw or paint something really exciting. The past couple of weeks have not disappointed.

The new idea I've been trying is drawing the model without looking at the paper. Keeping my eyes on the model tracing the lines and contours of her body or face and allowing my hand to follow that movement on the paper.

Not as easy as it sounds. The temptation to look is at times very difficult to resist and you don't always get a result that you like, but then sometimes you do, you get something quite lovely.

Here are some examples of what I did the first week, and I will post more when I've scanned them in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Acts of Kindness

Recently a friend of mine, someone who already has enough on her plate, chose to share something very important to her with me. She did this because she knows I am struggling with my health. She did this despite having a very difficult time of her own over the past couple of months. For her friendship and her care I am truly grateful. I am also glad that I have been able to offer her a shoulder and some small measure of support whenever I have been able.

This is what she gave me and although normally I am not someone who posts other people's writing without giving a full credit, I have no idea who wrote this, but it gave me comfort and I am thankful for it. I wanted to share it, because I know many of you would appreciate the words.

Just for Today
Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problems at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today I will be happy. Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will make my 'luck' as it comes, and fit myself to it.
Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful, I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do someone a good turn, and not get found out; if anyone hears of it, it will not count. I will do two things I don't want to do - just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt, they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticise not one bit, not find fault with anyone but myself.
Just for today I will have a programme. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from 2 pests: hurry and indecision.
Just for today I will have a quiet half hour to myself and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.
Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

Thank you Pat, for everything you are and all that you encourage me to be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I had my 2nd CBT session today, my first with the new therapist. There has been a long time between 1 and 2, and a change in therapist.

I was anxious about it, I couldn't speak and I cried and snotted my way through the session.

What is most frustrating to me is that when I am not in these frightening, stressful and emotional situation, when I am feeling safe and secure I have a sense of myslef, my humour is there, my sense of the rediculous and my strength of character.

I feel like there are 2 people living in my mind at the moment. Me and the fearful cabbage.

I feel such an idiot, I berate myself for being afraid in everyday situations, and I hate myself for being pathetic. Then I try to go shopping and my heart is racing, my adrenalin is pumping and my stomach is doing backflips. I feel dizzy, shaky and nauseous. I want to run away, to get away from the scary place as soon as possible. Back home, or in the studio, at friends houses, or even in the print room at college, I am happy safe and calm. I am me.

I hate that I can only be me when no one else can see me.

Maybe I will accept that I have to give myself time to get better, but my expectations are that I want to be well NOW!

As ever I need to remind myself that Patience is a virtue, not a game of cards.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Links and spam

Please note the person who keeps thanking me for sharing a link, but then informing me that it is down, please tell me WHICH link is down, and also and which post? I can't help if you don't give me information.

If you continue to leave the same message without providing the needed info, then I will assume you are spamming me and will delete ALL messages of this nature.



Friday, October 15, 2010


Sometimes when I get into my studio I start work immediately, and those days are lost in productivity, ease of creation and satisfaction.

Other days, like today, I get here and proceed to play on the computer, download research for an essay that doesn't need to be handed in until May, update my facebook status, read twitter posts, update twitter, read blogs, tidy up, mess about filing things that I will get out again tomorrow, mix paint, throw it away because it simply isn't 'right'. Get the picture?

Ultimately, however, whether I am a having hit the ground running or a slow starter day, I know that I am happy here, even if the weather is getting cold and the heater is barely adequate to heat the 3ft in front of it let alone the rest of the studio. Never mind that I have to keep getting up and walking about to stop my knees and hips from seizing up, it is an excuse to have a little dance to Pink, Florence or Paloma.

Happiness is something elusive. I daren't relax into it, because each time I do I feel that it will somehow be stolen away from me. This is the depression talking I know, but I do feel afraid that if I am happy today tomorrow will be awful, for whatever, unpredictable, chaotic devastation reason.

So today I am happy in my studio. Tomorrow I hope for the same, but I never expect it 2 days running.
This is one of my happy days, chilling on the beach with Gaia, no shoes and my camera, last summer. A day out at the beach feels like it can cure almost anything.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


I'm not generally a person who delights in the misfortune of others. I am a nice person, who cares for people. Worries what will happen to people after misfortune. Presently I am not able to directly care for people because my health is, to be honest, appalling at present, but this does not stop me caring. When I am better I will be hands on, working for the good of others in a very real and physical sense. Caring for those who are ill, or unable and enjoying that caring. I used to do it and I will do it again.

The reason I am not able to do it now, the cause of what was effectively, a complete nervous breakdown, from which I will recover, I have no doubt, is a family who hounded me for 2 years. Father, mother, 2 kids and various hangers on living in the house opposite me.

I'm not going into details about what they did, they have been discussed elsewhere, and talking, writing or discussing them is difficult and painful. It is enough to say that it resulted in moving house, losing my job because my health wasn't robust enough to deal with it and spending my life ensuring I take my medication on time, which allows me to function in some way.

So back to the family across the road. I wasn't the only target for their abuse, far from it, they were quite generous in their abuse of the neighbours. I was targeted for special treatment because I wouldn't back down, I wouldn't ignore their antisocial behaviour and I challenged their abuse constantly. Maybe I set myself up for worse, but if we don't challenge this kind of behaviour, how do people who behave like that understand that it isn't acceptable?

Last year, the mum died. Of alcohol related disease. After this the abuse got worse. The kids, unable to express their feelings in any other way, took it out on everyone else. Dad continued to live the life that had killed his wife.

Yesterday I got a message from one of the neighbours still living there. The father of this family had died. My first response was not sympathy. It wasn't concern for the kids, both under 18 and needing guidance, support and care. It was relief, joy and immense satisfaction.

Am I a bad person?
All I wanted to do was celebrate, drink beer, dance, jump up and down on the spot.
I am a bad person.
I must be.
I was happy someone had died.

But at the same time the immense relief that he couldn't frighten me anymore, that the kids will be moved from this area and will, perhaps, learn how to be better people away from the influence of drug and alcohol addicted parents. Or maybe relief that yes, Karma does exist, sometimes takes it's time, but will always bring balance to the universe.

But still, I think I may be a bad person.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Here it is,the finished, slaved over article.

Jenny Saville and Walter Sickert: Looking at the world through reality coloured glasses

Jenny Saville and Walter Sickert are separated by a century of painting tradition, but, to my eyes, both are equally able to look at, examine and reveal the reality of our society. In this revelation they force us to see beyond this discomforting image in front of us, but to create a narrative that gives the discomfort meaning and therefore emotional validity, which is missing from many of their contemporaries more socially acceptable works. For me the definition, the very purpose of art, is to create an emotional response. To fail in this delegates it to mere interior decoration. This accusation can never be levelled at Saville or Sickert. In fact throughout both of their respective careers, they have openly courted that emotional response.

Jenny Saville was born in Cambridge in 1970, to parents who were initially teachers, but who ascended the educational hierarchy to such a point that their careers created a peripatetic existence for the family, causing regular moves around the country, and putting Saville in 15 different schools. This inevitably placed Saville in the role of outsider, irrespective of her ability to assess the characters of her new school cohort. She watched and categorised the other children around her, developing the instincts to survive and assimilate in the new school. These instincts give her the ability to place herself in arenas which many other would find impossible to enter. In the operating theatre as the surgeons are recreating, augmenting or reducing breasts, meeting with transsexuals, pre-op, post transition or midway through their metamorphoses. These very subjects have fascinated Saville from a young age, “I like bodies in a state of transformation, whether through injury or surgery. Even as a child, if I was in the playground and I saw a girl fall and skin her knee, I would look at it and be fascinated.”

Walter Sickert was born in Munich in 1860, to a Danish-German father and an English mother. At the age of 10 he moved with his parents to England. His father Oswald, was a painter of some note and was invited to England by Ralph Nicholson Wornum, Keeper of the National Gallery during the Great Exhibition. As a result of his parentage, his mother was illegitimate, and his birth nationality, Sickert was to enjoy the status of outsider his whole life, although he often played with this role. At a dinner attended by Sickert and ‘several rather conventionally-minded young officers’ at the outset of WW1, Sickert was heard to declare “-And no-one could be more English than I am - born in Munich in 1860, of pure Danish descent!” It was this very otherness which gave him such a view of the world that was at odds with the aesthetic paradigm of his time. He published an essay in The Art News in May 1910 arguing that Idealism is an absurdity, citing John Singer Sargent’s work as “a form of flattery in which the sitters were beautified and rendered as glamorised and ideal versions , not of what they were, but of what they would have liked to be”. Art can only function when describing “gross material facts of bulk, shape and colour…..such are the conditions of the very existence of plastic art” “The more art is serious, the more will it tend to avoid the drawing room and stick to the kitchen. The plastic arts are the gross arts, dealing joyously with gross material facts. They call, in their servants, for a robust stomach and a great power of endurance, and while they will flourish in the scullery, or on the dunghill, they fade at a breath from the drawing room.”

Whenever Saville is compared to other artists, the first is always Lucien Freud, for obvious reasons, but she credits Willem De Kooning as her greatest influence especially his use of paint. “De Kooning is my main man, really, because he did just about everything you can do with paint.” Francis Bacon is also a major influence, with his use of paint to create a tension with the subject, that is less about representation of the form and more about creation of that form on the canvas. Sickert’s influences read like a who’s who of great painters. Some were his teachers - Whistler, Degas, and some his contemporaries, from the Camden Town group, Lucien Pissarro, Wyndham Lewis, and from the wider world, Van Gogh and Gaugin. However Sickert’s style was his own, developed as it did under Whistler’s tutelage and Degas’ mentorship.

Although both artists look at the discomforting truth, the truths they observe take different forms. This is, I suggest more to do with their historical perspective rather than personal places. Saville creates large scale nudes, in oils, initially exclusively of huge women, bloated, obese and white fleshed, as in the triptych Strategy (fig 1).

Fig 1

In recent years the subjects of her work have extended into pig carcasses, transsexuals, transvestites and victims of disease, injury or surgery. This can be seen as a maturing of her oeuvre rather than a search for new subjects. She is still painting the marginal within our society, only now she has a stronger, broader palette and a more mature style, where the subject and the process meet to create a tangible tension in the work that was not evident in her early work.
Sickert chose to look at the reality of everyday, working class lives, be they out in the Music Halls or in the bedrooms of women forced by domestic violence or poverty into prostitution. His nudes were “lower class women in cheap rooms”. He worked on a smaller scale, also in oils, but in a more impressionist way. His work did look at these subjects from skewed, distorted or unusual positions. In his musical hall paintings, he used mirrors to confuse the composition, as in Little Dot Hetherington at the Bedford Music Hall (fig 2) creating a tension in the viewer attempting to resolve the confusion, and forcing them to create a narrative to resolve the tension.

Fig 2

With his nudes, often a second, dressed figure was included, portrayed in a menacing stance over the always female, nude figure, for example, L’Affaire de Camden Town (fig 3) These relationships within the paintings again forced to viewer to create a narrative. But these narratives were uncomfortable for many, suggesting as they did domestic violence and forced sex.

Fig 3

Despite the apparent differences in their work, style and subject matter, what is clear is the connection they have in their obsession with the apparently uglier side of life. Saville has followed her fascination into the most uncomfortable places and with marginalised people to portray them not as specimens, but as real people, deserving of sympathy, empathy and a voice of their own. Her depictions of transsexual people, in Matrix (fig 4) and Passage (fig 5) are an investigation into the changing nature of gender and sexuality.

Fig 4

Fig 5

Of Passage, Saville states “That body couldn’t have existed 30 years ago. Its possible because of silicon implants”

Jenny Saville works almost exclusively from photographs, although when she does use a model she will use photography first. She will employ a model for 6 hours, shooting up to 10 rolls of film, all in close up and work from the photographs. This allows her the time to get to know the physical structure of the model. She then uses the photographs to rebuild the model on the canvas, building up in sections rather than working on the piece as a whole. Saville learned Photoshop to enable her to change the colour saturation of the photos. Using this technique is how she has extended her palette into reds, blues and greens over recent years, creating stronger, more striking works. In addition to using models she collects medical literature, images of war zones, bombed out buildings, disused buildings, medical photography and accident scene photographs. Although she doesn’t use them directly in her work, they inform it and add to the intellectual architecture.

As Saville’s work has matured, her confidence with the paint has grown, not only extending her subject matter and her palette, but also the in how the process of painting has equal, if not greater importance in her work. Up close with these massive works, one can believe they are masterpieces of abstraction, the paint is heavy in places, the directionality of the brush strokes and the swift changes and juxtapositions of the colours and tones are alive with an incredible energy not seen in contemporary figurative painting. But step back, get a view of the whole work and one is astounded by the precision of that paint, which only a minute ago was almost random in its application. There is not a mark out of place, not a section that doesn’t fit exactly where it should. The expression in the eyes and the texture of the skin are real, the image is a real person, massive, vulnerable and naked before us, even when we know this is a composite being, drawn originally from photographs of models and medical illustrations.By every definition Saville is a painterly painter, using abstract techniques with the paint but with figurative work.
To achieve this energy and precision, Saville makes paint swatches and test pieces, usually on newsprint, trying out ideas and sections of the painting, always finding something which she can add to the work to keep it fresh, and energetic, even though the paint is heavily impasto and added in layers in some areas of the painting. “I like thick paint. I think you’ve got the solidity of the body of the paint itself. But there are areas of flesh that aren’t thick. So using thick paint’s not appropriate. The feeling isn’t big lumps and bumps, you know. So sometimes I use thick paint, sometimes I use thinner paint,”

These combinations, the duality of her work, using the latest technology - Photoshop - and the ancient craft of painting, utilizing the human form, but laying the paint in the way an abstract painter would, working on a gigantic scale, but always keeping her subjects very human in their identity, even when they are composite beings, that one would expect to create an irreconcilable dichotomy within her work, but it doesn’t, it instead gives us the chance to bear witness to one of the most interesting and important painters of the 21st century, possibly of the last 200 years, one who has taken a traditional process and subject and made it not only ultra modern and shocking, but also beautiful, poignant and personal.
Sickert also used photography in his work, but later in his career, the most notable works being Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France (fig 6) and Miss Earhart’s Arrival (fig 7).

Fig 6

Fig 7

In his earlier career, initially under instruction of Whistler, Sickert worked in an almost abstract way with his preliminary sketches, “concentrating on the central part of the motif first of all and then to work outwards towards the edges of the paper.” Later Sickert would move entirely away from this, Whistler’s favoured ‘alla prima’ technique, feeling it reduced the images and subjects too far into over-simplification, “The obligation, or effort to cover entirely necessitated an excessive simplification of both subject and background …. shows itself in subordinating, in arranging, in digesting any and every complication …… mastery …… is avid of complications.” As Sickert moved to France in 1883, met and was mentored by Degas, so his style changed. He found Degas’ methodology more in tune with his own ideas and ideals, and was able to adopt and adapt it to create his own style of work. Spending time creating detailed sketches of his subjects, which he them worked from, using under painting and building layers of paint, making changes and corrections as he developed the paintings. During this time Sickert also began to experiment with his subject matter, clearly influenced by Degas’ concentration on cafĂ© life, music hall and domestic subjects. The “painting of modern life”.

As Sickert painted more of modern life, he was drawn to the grim reality of that life, his paintings became darker, his interiors became oppressive his style of painting more impressionistic. His figures went from interior working class domesticity Ennui (fig 8) to vulnerable nudes, The Rose Shoe (fig 9) and women of suggested easy virtue, Two Women on a Sofa - Le Tose (fig 10) In this move towards the seamier, less acceptable part of society, Sickert’s work became more interesting, stronger and much more important. At the same time it became, and remains controversial.

Fig 8

Fig 9

Fig 10

In conclusion, I consider the connection between Sickert and Saville to be more than a matter of vaguely similar subjects, both looking at and illustrating the unpopular, ugly truth of the reality of marginalised people’s lives. Both are painters influenced by great artists, but not slaves to that influence, artists who have developed their own styles and techniques and have created a tension within their works that forces the observer to create narrative to resolve these tensions, but do not supply the narrative themselves. Sickert and Saville have challenged our view of the validity of subjects and in doing so have created works which have opened us to understanding, empathising and the humanising those society usually considered to be beneath us.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Good Morning

These lovely, gorgeous, blue sky, chilly mornings make my heart sing. Crisping the leaves as they fall to the ground and sharpening the air with that first breath of winter.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


I used to be able to write essays. I was good at them. Nearly always ended up with marks in the 90% range.

So today, I am sitting, forcing myself to write an essay about 2 of my favourite artists, and I've managed 700 words of complete drivel. Oh dear.

I want to compare their styles, their subjects and their outsider status. Can't seem to make any sense of what I want to say. Can't find the references I carefully listed and I really don't know if my brain is up to all of this effort.

Oh well, cup of tea, a jam doughnut and some good music will keep me going. I have to have it done by friday at the latest. Its only taken me about 9 months so far!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I finally got my new laptop set up how I like it at the studio. The keyboard had a strange upward curve on it which means that I keep accidentally pressing the caps lock button instead of the "a". I'll get used to it. I have uploaded all of my music and my pictures from my external hard drive and all I need to do now to keep me really happy is install Photoshop and get a graphics tablet and off I go!

I am supposed to be writing an essay, but I have lost all of the internet research I did initially, so I have to go through that again! Oh well, it won't take me that long, I have the plan and a very small rough draft.

I also have the presentation to work from, so that will make it even easier. Hopefully.

So in celebration of my intention to work, and my having access to all of my photos at home and studio, here is a selection of random pictures I have taken over the years.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Action, Inaction and Distraction

I am so the worst person in the world for actually getting started on things. Today for instance. I had a brilliant morning at college. Three very good prints from a very nice etching I've been working on for 2 weeks. And I started a lino cut, drew it out ready to get it cut. Then lunch-time. Oh dear, sitting around staring into space instead of really cracking on with stuff.

Finally at the studio, meant to be doing my essay. On my new laptop. Which has internet access. Which is presently logged into Facebook!

Ok so how do I stop myself being distracted. The inaction is more often down to tiredness and at present there isn't much I can do about that. It will improve in it's own time, but the distractions! Argh! I need a computer here, so that I can research stuff when I am working, but I can't do any work if I keep playing on Facebook!

I did think that perhaps if I allowed myself 30 minutes when I first arrive and then a 15 break every couple of hours that this would help. But I need discipline. I just am not good at resisting the temptation to bunk off the work I should be doing and playing online.

Oh well. The prints are good, and the lino cut will be awesome.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Awake in the Middle of the Night

Tonight I went to bed unfeasible early. This is not like me, generally I stay up til around 1am and wake up anywhere between 7 and 9 in the morning. But Wednesday night I slept really badly and so I went o bed early hoping to catch up on the sleep.

No chance, after 4 hours I was awake and unable to go back to sleep. It's now 3am, and I have a busy day today. What is worse, is it will be starting early too. I am tempted to go off to my studio and do the job that needs doing first thing. Which will save time later.

I know I won't go back to sleep, so I'm filling myself up with breakfast and a nice cuppa tea, ready to get on with what is going to be a somewhat stressful day.

Maybe I can alleviate some of that stress with art. Didn't get any done yesterday, so maybe I can do something today.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Part of the problem with depression is feeling overwhelmed by everything. This is particularly bad when it comes to housework. I've never been happy to do it. It has always felt like a massive chore and very stressful. But I really hate that my house is a tip all the time. It blocks my energy and I never feel comfortable in my own home. So how to deal with it?

Well now the boy is back at college, I am going to do a job each day. Slowly but steadily getting the house into order. Make it a more workable and comfortable space. That is the plan.

The downside of this, however is my back and my energy levels. I can plan all I like, but I am dependent upon how I feel physically and mentally.

But I'm going to give it a go!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things Made

After yesterday I thought that I would be unproductive and too tired and emotional to focus on making anything, but as it turns out I created loads today, and had whole ideas about stuff and everything.

I have been playing with some fabric that I glued the cellophane squares you get wrapped around Quality Street to some time ago. I added a layer of tissue paper on the reverse a couple of days ago, and today I made a sort of a zipped box out of it.

Then I wanted to be able to put my DS games into the box, but didn't want them to rattle around inside, so I made a snug little holder for them.

Finally I started on the next Travelling Sketchbook page. More on that on the Artshine blog.

I also posted the previous page off to Annie, and posted the last of the eBay sales off.

After I had finished at the studio, I went over to Michelle's house, taking her blouse that I fixed the neckline of, and cooked her dinner ready for when she got home from work. In all a productive day of the old variety of Sam. Maybe this is a good sign!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dreadful Day

What a rubbish day.

Hospital appointment in the morning for my thyroid check up, and basically to be told I no longer needed to be seeing the consultant, thyroid is shrinking back to normal size and thyroxin levels are stable. Simple? ha ha not that easy. I waited for over and hour on chairs that were designed to extract confessions from suspected terrorists, asked if they had any idea how long I would be delayed, and was told nothing. I was so stressed and in pain by the time an hour had gone by I had a massive strop in the middle of the waiting room. Not good.

Then I had to go to the Job Centre for a pathways to work interview. Bearing in mind I am unable to work at the moment because of stress, depression PTSD and a slipped disc, I was wondering what kind of work they were going to suggest I do.

I hate going to the job centre, it is full of people, it is stressful to be around so many people I don't know and can't predict. I have panic attacks but I have to stay there otherwise I have my benefits taken away, which means I have no money, which also makes me panic and stressed. Vicious circle.

I do have to say the lovely Stephen at the job centre was very sympathetic, kind and helpful. Even suggesting other benefits I am entitled to. That's the kindest thing an official has done for me in a while. Thanks Stephen.

And then I had bad news about a friend of mine. The worst news, and I am lost in that feeling devastated, angry and sorry. I can't even go and visit her as the hospital is a busy unfamiliar place. I'm worried that I'll have a panic attack and upset her family. I'm worried I won't get to see her. I'm caught up in a whirl of fear. And I can't find a way out.

This is the reality of my life at the moment. Fear, regrets and frustration. I want to be better, and I know I can get better, but at the moment it's just not happening fast enough.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Just a Quick Message

To the people who are anonymously asking me to post links, upload widgets and various other spamming messages and comments on my blog, please stop. Anonymous massages are deleted, I do not post random stuff on my blog just because someone has asked me to, and I don't look at links if I don't know their origin.

Stop wasting yours and my time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Completion 2

Finally finished the collage portrait of Janet and 2 more small collages just for fun.

Tomorrow I'm getting the travelling sketchbook pages out and getting them done! Woop woop!

Nearly There

I've got another day's work on this and then its done. I sure hope it is accepted for the open exhibition I've done it for!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Finished one.

One more to go.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


More collage and something I'm surprsed by.

And this has surprised me, as I wasn't sure if I could make collage work for portraiture.

Friday, August 27, 2010


For the first time I am producing a piece of work specifically for an open exhibition. I'm nervous, I think I'm not doing something that is any good, and I'm worried I'll not get it finished in time.

Here are some progress pics.

I'll post more as it progresses and nears completion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sharing space

I made an early start to the day today, in the studio by 8.30. Almost unheard of these days.

I was lucky to have visitors too, Michelle, Lea and Jamie, all of us playing with collage and creating some fabulous things with glue and tissue paper.

I came home by 6pm feeling shattered and ready to flop on the settee in front of the tv. But incredibly pleased with what I have achieved today.

One of the finished pages from the collage sketchbook.

There are more things to show, but I only took one photo today.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Surprising Day

Yesterday, despite numerous attempts at going to the studio to do some work, I didn't do anything. I was exhausted, for numerous reasons, and only felt able to go to the studio, sit in a chair and stare at a wall.

Today is Sunday, so it's life drawing. I didn't really feel like going, but I went anyway. You never know, I thought. I might get one good picture out of it.

I can't make watercolour work for me, apparently. All previous attempts have been met with clear failure, muddy puddles of browns created from all the colours of the rainbow. I just wanted to make this clear, before you look at the pictures.

After life drawing I went to the studio and finished working on 2 collages and started another 2. Then I got distracted and started to organise my collage papers! Me and my need to file things!