Saturday 26 September 2009


Thursday 24/09/09

"That's mental!" exclaims a young man.

"F**k that, man!" exclaims another younger man. (Comma very important.) The other kids he is with laugh, so he swears loudly again.

Both meant in a good way. Or at least that's what I thought at the time. Reading it cold, though, gives me doubts.

Someone mentions that my picture is in the local paper, so later, I can't resist and I pick up a copy. It's an article about THE bath prize. It's good to be included in the pre show publicity (announcement of winner next week), but the write up doesn't give me hope. It's all about the wonderful sights of Bath and look some artist has painting Pulteney Bridge and another has painted the Abbey. Oh yes and another has done Lansdown Crescent and there's a view of the classic georgian terraces of Camden. And what's this one at the bottom - ah, yes, some eejit has painted some plastic barriers next to the southgate shopping centre - sure fire winner.

Friday 25/09/09

I've lost all control and given myself over totally to the yellow line thing.

Probably doesn't need me to say anything.

Probably best not to - only going to dig myself in deeper.

Apart from, 'it's not finished yet.'

But that just sounds like an excuse.

Ah well.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Are you having fun?

Thursday 17/09/09

It's sunny and I can finish off the 1st yellow line painting. I put some dark lines on the edge because I haven't got my pencil with me, but I'm not sure I like them. I leave them on anyway.

Later, I set off into town determined to paint the Abbey - afternoon sun on the face of the building, lots of people milling about in front, should be great - but for some reason I never get there.

Painting the bizarre and unexpected is more nerve racking than a busy city street. There's the constant look of puzzlement on the face of passersby and the pressure to justify the subject. I stick to the tried and tested defence of not making eye contact. My angles are all over the place and I know I'm not going to finish the painting today. I leave before the hordes of school children come by - I'm not ready for that yet.

I'm walking back to the studio and a girl (12?) at the bus stop who passed me when I was painting. She says, "Excuse me [polite!], are you an artist?"

I don't think she's really wanting to get into a debate about what is art and who am I to call myself an artist, so, "Yes," I reply, "I am an artist." But it has a hollow ring to it and the words feel odd coming from my mouth.

Friday 18/09/09

I'm dreaming. I'm on a plane. It looks like 1st class because there's loads of space and the seats are all big and comfy. There are lots of people I know, but I can't sit down because they can't make up their minds where they are going to sit and keep changing seats. I feel something under my skin above my appendix scar, it grows and pushes through the surface. It's a seed, like a cardamon pod. It sticks up annoyingly and then others grow up along side it. I brush it away and the pod gently pops and reveals a cottony inside before falling away. It is soon replaced and before long my stomach is like a small field of these things. I keep picking and brushing them off, but they keep growing. There's no panic in my actions, but I wake up anyway and don't get much sleep for the rest of the night.

I walk to the studio with my easel and board. It's a fair old hike lugging the paraphenalia so I've got to make it worth the effort with a painting. I'm thinking of painting the walkway under the railway line, but when I get there it doesn't work for me. The view at right angles to it, though, is just what I need (including the yellow lines). I stand there for about 10 minutes undecided. As yesterday, I'm feeling a bit of pressure in setting up and painting a bizarre place and I need to pysche myself up. Just standing there gets me enough funny looks, so what the hell and I go for it anyway.

The mechanic comes out of the garage. "Are you having fun?" he asks sarcastically.

"Yes, yes I'm having fun," I lie.

The painting seems to go okay. I take a photo just in case I don't finish it because the cars won't be in the same place again, but I'm not sure I'm going to need it. I can hear the radio playing in the garage. I don't know what station it is, but they're playing 'Rio' by Duran Duran.

A lady comes up and peers around the easel. "Ah!" she says, "I know your work, but I don't know you."

Foolishly, I take this as a sign that she maybe want's to make conversation, so she can know me as well as my work and say, "Hi!' to her. But, no. She turns around and walks off without another word.

Hey lady! I like it!

I pack up, but not before Spandau Ballet singing 'Gold', starts floating from the open garage doors behind me. What is that radio station and why are they still on air?

And another Thailand painting for good measure:

Sunday 13 September 2009

Of lines, madness and the colour yellow

Thursday 10/09/09

It's perfect weather - finally. It is 5th time almost lucky. 'Almost', because the builders and their vans continue to come and go and park in my way.

I leave out the wires and the parking sign.

Is it finished? Maybe.

Later and it's still sunny, so I can try and finish the other commission. It too is pretty much there - no fuss, no drama, it just reaches the end.

Friday 11/09/09

The sun is still shining (!!) and what with the commissions almost done I can get into town and paint. I'm taking in a different size board (16" x 16") than usual to see if the rough edge thing works on a smaller scale. I have no idea what I am going to paint which is never a good thing. I walk up to the Royal Crescent, but I've painted it so many times before, I find myself totally uninspired.

Stopping for a bit I notice the yellow lines on Royal Avenue. [Cue light bulb]. Yellow lines! That's what I'll paint. [Distant screams from wife and bank manager]. There's the link with the pencil lines I'm scribbling on the pictures, there's a lot of William Wrayness about them, I really like the colour of them (that'll be yellow then) against the varying tones of the road and, best of all, they're everywhere!

I hurry back to the studio, remembering the yellow line there that I really liked. By the time I get there the shadows have moved from how I remember them, but it's still good so I get started.

I must not have cleaned my brushes properly last time, because they are all dry and scratchy. Annoyingly so. This gets me to a point where I can't finish the painting today. The jury maybe out on the whole yellow line lightening bolt of inspiration (too many metaphors?), but I'm not - it's a great idea. Ooh! I know where I'm going to paint next - it's a great yellow line - can't wait.

P.S. Here's some more of Thailand

Sunday 6 September 2009

Five Visits Ben

Friday 04/09/2009

Let me burden you with my tale of woe and this doom laden painting.

It all started a few weeks ago when, whilst pretending to be ninja (yes I know - I've put it all behind me now), the heavens opened and the first session was a wash out. (This you will recall from previous blog.)

I sneak back to have another go and I think it went alright. But the whole road has this old camber thing going on and so I end up painting all the buildings leaning backwards. It's another write off.

3rd time lucky and last week I went down full of hope, the sun was shining and I was confident of rescuing the painting. I set up and was ready to go only to discover I hadn't brought any brushes with me. I managed to slink away without too many witnesses. 3rd time was not lucky at all.

So here I am again on my 4th visit with the painting still a long way from completion and what happens - there's a bloody great big builder's van in the way so I have to move positions. There's builders everywhere with multiple vehicles as they work away on what seems to be a whole row of houses on my right. I persevere - I'm here now and there is some sun and I do have some brushes.

One of the builders does some star jumps for me in the middle of the road. Which is nice. I think of something really witty to say, but not quick enough to deliver the pithy line before he's gone back into one of the houses and not really funny enough as evidenced by the fact that I'm not going to write it down here.

I hear a few snippets of conversation, "can't do any more here ...", "back on Monday ..." and maybe my lucks turning - they are doing what builder's do best and moving on to another job without finishing this one! Hurray! He moves the van and the road opens up a bit. I do make some progress!

The old camber thing still causes me problems, but the ones on the painting I can resolve - it's my back where it starts to tell. Standing on the angle for a couple of hours is as much as I can take and I call it a day. Five visits it is then.

Later and more angst ridden angsty angst as I grapple with my artistic dilemma over what I should be painting in the studio. I started a few more Thailand ones last week so I'm going to finish them off anyway and I'll deal with the artistic fall out later. Here's the one I did today: