Sunday 28 June 2009

Highs and Lows

Wednesday 24/06/09

Had a meeting booked in for Thursday so swapped Thursday for Wednesday. Meeting got cancelled, but forecast for Wednesday is sunny so I don't swap them back. It all makes perfect sense. So here I am on a Wednesday starting the commission I mentioned a week or so back.

Good things about the spot I am standing on:
  1. I have my back to the Abbey and I'm by some railings so no one can stand or walk behind me.
  2. There's a BT van next to me so it makes it even harder for people to come and peer at what I'm doing. (Obviously some do and when a large tour party walks past, there is no escaping them.)
  3. I'm in the shade of the abbey.
  4. It's a great view - I like it!
Bad things about the spot I am standing on:
  1. The tour bus parks in front of me.
  2. Another tour bus parks in front of me.
  3. Another tour bus ....
Still, it's not a surprise as I knew they would, I just didn't realise it would be this annoying.

On the way back to the studios I see someone with some really green shoes. I don't know why they strike me, but she must really like them as they don't go with anything else she's wearing. Dangerous colour, green.

And also there's a man with a really hairy neck. He's topless so I know he hasn't got a hairy back (or head), but the neck - wow. Of course it could be a tattoo - who knows? Who cares?

Thursday 25/06/09

Friday 26/06/09

Woohoo - my painting has been accepted for the prestigious Threadneedle Prize! Yippety Yay! I am so chuffed that I go and treat myself to painting more of the Upper Bristol Road (actually started last Friday, but it needs a bit of tweaking and it's too early to start drinking).

Ha ha - I fiff - Hee hee - I faff and then I give up as it really didn't take much to finish the painting and I'm too up to concentrate.

Walking back I read the following advert at the local car showroom:
'Once There
Gone There Gone'

It takes me a moment to decipher the spelling error - Ha ha! Hee hee! It makes me laugh.

I get back to the studios and check my emails for the confirmation of acceptance. What? It's still not there. I better just call and check.

My side of the conversation:


Can I speak to someone about the Threadneedle Prize?

Just calling to check if I got in or not

Yes. Thanks

Ben Hughes

What's that?

I didn't get in?

But what about my registration number listed on the website as accepted?


That's a different registration number? A different number that you haven't told me about and I couldn't possibly know?

How, what, why ...

ok ...

Yeah, thanks ... "

So there you have it - shafted by a bizarre admin system. Inevitably, I am not so chipper now.

P.S. The line drawing was done after discovering my error ...

Sunday 21 June 2009


Wednesday 17/06/09

Woohoo - half day off - so let's ....

do another line drawing of myself ... (?)

Thursday 18/06/09

Still thinking about THE BATH PRIZE - had to submit the application form this week and within I had to write the dreaded 'Artist's Statement', the perennial and apparently necessary concoction of very long words that don't really go together in an attempt to justify the artwork whilst also making the artist sound really intelligent. I blathered on about why I write on the paintings to 'involve the viewer in the experience of the painting' (ha ha - pretty good huh?). It occurs to me now as I walk into town to set up that I am once again in a foul mood and the reality of being in my head in a 'Being John Malkovich' kind of stylee would not enhance anyone's viewing pleasure of the painting.

Grump grump. I can't finish the rubbish painting I started last week because the spot I was standing on is now the property of an even more grumpy than me shop front decorator.

Grump grump. I think about just going home and not bothering, but what the hell, let's go and paint Pulteney Bridge again.

The sun comes out and then goes in, comes out and then stays in. This suits me as I think I like the grey.

Another fly crashes into the painting, but this one is in trouble as he landed on a sticky bit and got his big skinny body all stuck. He struggles in vane to escape. Maybe my painting was so good that he thought he had loads of space before he would reach the bridge and then whammo! he's encased in titanium white.

WA HA HA! I am a cruel and pitiless god and I let him suffer. WA HA HA! And then I feel guilty so I flick him off with my brush, which doesn't really help him - he's too far gone - but at least I can finish the bit of painting he was on.

There's some of that green stuff again poking in on the right. Ha - not having any of that ruining my painting and I do it all greyish. A bit of yellow gets through relatively unmixed, but I leave it - kind of wild I know, but that's just the way I roll.

Friday 19/06/09

A couple of months ago I got a letter from a sinister covert government agency - The BIOBANK. (So, putting their details on the letter wasn't that covert, but it just shows how sinister they really are - clever maybe, but it didn't fool me). They wanted me (and half a million other people) to donate their bodies to medical research. (See - pretty sinister or what?). I quickly realised that the only way to burst this festering pustule of corruption wide open was from the inside and with that I signed up, sent off the form and thought no more about it.

Two months and some other bits of time later and here I am, standing outside the lab, cleverly disguised as an unused office block (the lab, not me) right next to a sandwich bar and the Tesco metro. (clever, very clever, but I guess undercover evil government agents have to eat too.) I do a quick sketch of the place - just in case I never come out (of course, if I don't come out then the sketch is unlikely to make it out on it's own, but let's not let common sense get in the way of a good diverting fantasy). I've got my best pants on and I've cut my toenails - bring it on ...

As soon as I get inside they start with the tests - I'm pretty hopeful I will get selected for the experimental drug that will turn me into a super soldier as everyone else has got to be over 60. All I need to do is perform on the tests and I'm a sho in and then we'll see who's laughing when I bring this crazy madhouse tumbling down.

There's a series of questions which seem innocent enough until I stumble across the 'bald' question. Aha! Just as I thought - a surreptitious selection process is at work here - and they are obviously looking for the follically challenged - I knew it would be an advantage eventually.

I ask them where the secret lab is (knowing that there's hundred's of floors below this one full of failed experiments), but the operative just laughs and says if he told me, it wouldn't be secret. (clever, very clever - but I know the truth.)

Damn - I fail on the pairs test - It's all going well until the last four cards and then I click everything randomly and I'm done for.

Still - there's always the urine, mid-flow, test as they cruelly force you to cut the wee off after you've started, get just the right amount in the cup, stop again (?!) and carry on in the loo. Can't see all the other elderly subjects managing this one. I can do it, I can do it - yes success - but wait, there's not enough in the cup! And it's all too late as there's nothing left. I've blown it.

That's it. Time to go, just the sop at the end of the free cup of coffee and a ....

ooo bourbons.

They smile at me as I leave (they all smile, all of the time - even more sinisteriness), but I'm not expecting the call back or the abduction by armed swat team in the middle of the night. I guess I will have to leave their demise to some other agent of justice.

Saturday 13 June 2009


Tuesday 09/06/09

Hey, it's Tuesday! I shouldn't be doing any drawing. Don't I know that today's an office day? Duh!

Thursday 11/06/09

I'm almost there, I can feel it. The end is nigh and it's looking flowery.

Just ... one more ... coat hook.

I can do it ...

That's it!


Done it.


I am a broken man.

P.S. Don't know what I was thinking with the hoody.

Friday 12/06/09

Too much studio action recently so despite the aches and pains of yesterday's 5-aside football debacle I hobble down GPS to stand outside one of the empty shop fronts in Argyle Street.

Just a little painting, should be fine, but oh no ...

I get casual with the layout and the next hour is spent trying to correct the Victoria Art Gallery - will I never learn.

There's this Bath Prize thingy coming up in a couple of weeks time where you have to paint a Bath landmark of their choice and have it dry and framed within a week. Top prize £2,500 (or thereabouts).

I was tempted. I was going to give it a go, but now ...

Look at this ... only 12" x 12" and it's a mess [so distraught am I that I have to post the image small so you can't really see it.]

I'm going to have to come back and sort it out another time.

This kind of performance isn't going to win me the coveted BATH PRIZE. I have worked out the timings and I reckon I will have a window of one or maybe two days to do the actual painting. Let's just hope it's sunny (long shot as it coincides with Wimbledon).

It's with a sense of relief that I pack up and whizz off - I've got to be somewhere at 11.00. Yes, that's it - quick let's go - not slinking off, but head held high - I've got places to go and people to see.

P.S. Later, back in the studio and I put the finishing touches on the portrait so here it is fyi. (fyi - that doesn't make any sense, better would be fyvp - for your viewing pleasure.)

Saturday 6 June 2009


Monday 01/06/09

Damn, but it's hot & I didn't prep very well, so I can feel my shins burning. I'm painting Prior Park College again, but half term is over and there's now a steady flow of school kids going past, most of whom want to look at the painting. Luckily I've worn my street cool all yellow outfit marking me out as a hip old bloke(?!). Most of the comments are positive (about the painting, not my mustard shorts).

'Dude!' exclaims one girl. Not sure if she's talking to me, about me or commenting on the painting - apparently the word needs no further elaboration in teen speak. 'Er... that's a good thing", luckily for me someone explains as I don't speak teen.

Tuesday 02/06/09

Still hot, still burning, but this time I've worn long trousers (see - not so stupid - hey? hey?). [The project is still semi secret, so once again you're stuck with my ugly mug. Doing these self portrait sketches makes me realise that I look as *!@%*ed as I feel. Two weekends of open studios, lack of sleep and trying to get these commissions done on top of the office job is taking its toll. Maybe if I cut my beard I will regain my youthful good looks ... That's a pen lid in my mouth by the way.]

Friday 05/06/09

Aargh! Stripes! I can't take any more stripes. Goddamn them, goddamn them all to hell ...

Stripe blind I stagger down the Upper Bristol Road to finish the small painting of the boarded up corner shop. The sign says Monmouth Place Hotel, but I don't know if this refers to the building next door. Either way, it's seen better days.

No one says anything. They just look at me as if I'm a loon. One old boy walks past and stops next to me, looking incredulous. I turn to him and smile (as you do), but he just stands there looking from me to the painting and back again, still with that baffled look on his face. He's going to say something. Is he going to say something? He doesn't say anything. Eventually he walks on.

Kelly walks by from work on her way home, but I'm starting to flag (still *!@%*ed and the stripes took their own toll) and I don't make good conversation. She walks on and I finish up the painting.

[The haircut doesn't help, I still look like *!@%*]