Friday, 29 January 2010

On the right path

After sorting out whatever the problem was with the headless chicken, he came to see me for us to discuss the work I've done so far for the goddesses painting. He knew he'd asked for a complex painting, when he asked me to do the commission, but I hadn't realised how complex it was until I started doing the research - three weeks of reading up in books and on the internet about each goddess and comparing notes to make sure that they were all telling me the same thing. So then after that, I was ready to find the basic image for each goddess having found out about her persona and having the beginng of an idea of how I interpreted how she looked. Of course this is all MY version of how they look, and not necessarily what anyone else would think. But then the whole point of this painting is that it is ME who is doing it. He wanted me to do it because he knows I'll do a good job, because he knows I'm greatly interested in the subject matter and the style of painting, because he wants a woman artist to put the feminine into it, because he's seen my "Enigma" painting on my website and wants the Goddesses painting done in a similar way. I've shown it here so you can see what I'm talking about. But most of all he wants me to do it because he's wanted this painting done for years but hadn't found the right artist to do it for him. A woman artist who can paint mystical paintings. He told me when he first contacted me that he had  asked the universe to send him an artist to do the goddesses painting, and the universe had sent him me. Ok, I won't argue with THAT then !!!!
 But I wanted to go through my thought processes with him to make sure we're on the same wave length - and it seems that we are! I showed him my sketches for each goddess, and the layout I proposed for the painting, and he nodded happily at my decisions and explanations for each one. I told him about my gut reactions to some of the goddesses and the way that had led me to make various decsions regarding the images and how they would all pull together. He nodded again, smiling. And asked me which one of them was leading me most - which one did I have most empathy with, and I smiled and instantly replied "Diana". He was surprised but pleased at my confident reply. I also told him that I felt very strongly that she had demanded to be in a certain place within the picture, and yet I had overrridden that and put her in the central position. He said that the left side of my brain was taking control, and I agreed it was, and that made me instantly think that I'd be better to return her to the original place that I had felt that she was to be in. This picture more than any other I've ever done is based on the feel of it.

I smiled in recognition of that and made the decision to put her back where she wanted to be.

All of these goddesses are strong personalites and they will make their feelings known to me, I'm sure, as I start to paint.

Then he asked me which medium I was going to work in. The "Enigma" painting is done in oils, and I felt that the end result of this painting would look best in oils, the subtlety of each face as it merges into the background is best done in oils, I can capture their beauty better that way and make any small adjustments as I go along.


He knew there was a "but" and pushed me for my thoughts on it. What was my gut reaction to the way of painting this picture - what did I REALLY want to paint it in?

I hesitated to answer him, and he pushed again for me to explain.....

My thoughts were this - that the oils would certainly capture the images well, that the goddesses would look beautiful and I could do them full justice in the oils, but the background would lack the magic that it needed to pull this picture together. Because this is what this picture holds more than anything else - M A G I C - the feel of it, the sign of it, the ambience of it has to be in the picture. That is what this is about. And oils, wonderful as they are, don't pick up on that to the extent I need it. And boy, do I WANT it in this picture. He nodded, as I explained that, and agreed, that that is what I'm going to have to do. I smiled as I met his eyes, and he could see I was all fired up with the idea, it fed my creativity, and the picture wouldn't flow if I didn't do it.

But here was my problem again - if I do the painting in watercolour, with the pour-on technique that I love so much, the magic would be in there, but the faces wouldn't have the depth of personality and character that I wanted, plus watercolours are notoriously difficult to get right for faces, and doing SEVEN of them would be more so.  Mmm..... lateral thinking was needed!

Ha! Got it!

I would do TWO paintings. The first would be done in watercolours, with each goddess's face put where she is going to be in the picture and the basic outline drawn out, then I will carefully paint masking fluid over each face and let it dry. Then I'll choose my colours for the background - a deep blue, maybe two different blues, possibly a deep purple, and probably another colour I haven't finalised yet - a deep green or even dark red, maybe even gold.  Each colour will be mixed in its pure form in a small pot. I'll wet the whole of the paper, and then pour on each colour, here, there, a bit more, working over the whole painting, and seeing how the colours swirl together on the paper, finding their shapes within the water and causing lovely fluid lines, but as they reach the masking fluid the colours will swirl past them and on to the next free area. The hardest part will be for me to not get the inclination to *play* with it, to walk away and leave it to dry overnight. And then the next day, to go and have a look at it like a child on Christmas morning, full of bright eyed wonder,  to see what magic has appeared on the paper - there will be light areas and darks, pure colours and mixed colours in bright hues, and to build on those colours as my background, for the magical background of this most magical of paintings.......

And then, and only then, will I be able to actually start the painting itself. To paint in oils the effect of the watercolours, to capture that beautful loose effect with a brush. Its the only way I can get around the problem. With some lateral thinking! Hard work? Certainly! But I shall love every minute of it!!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

As far as excuses go

I know people have busy lives. I know that people aren't always able to keep the appointments they make for various reasons. So when a client rings me within half an hour of the time they are due at my house to say they can't keep the appointment they made but will re-schedule the meeting in a couple of days time, that's fine.


When the excuse given is "I've got a bit of a problem with a headless chicken", I must admit its the best excuse I've ever heard.

Especially when I have to consider that the person in question is a male witch......................................

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Buzzing with blue fingers

I've come home with blue fingers, and that's always a good sign of an enjoyable day. Well actually, they're blue, red, yellow, purple and white fingers, and I'm hoping that it'll wash off with some success......

I've been to an art workshop today, painting contemporary landscapes in acrylics with a palette knife, so very messy and such fun!!! The tutor first got us to team up with another person there, and create a piece of art one mark at a time, each taking turns to mark the paper in ONE movement only, turn by turn, each only using any two colours we chose - criss-crossing or smearing the other marks on the paper if we chose, or spraying it, or any other way we wanted to make a painting between us. Afterwards we talked about it, and the reactions to it fascinated me - some people HATED doing it as they couldn't THINK in an abstract way, some hated the fact that the other person "SPOILT" their marks, some HATED it because it was abstract and loose and they couldn't think in that way. How very interesting, and surprising, I felt. But then I'm used to doing abstracts and hadn't realised that some people can't think in that way. I liked the way that the fact that I had to wait for my colleague to make her mark, made me think more about my mark, it made it more controlled, and yet part of the control of the painting was out of my hands (and every body elses) by the manner of the creation of the art - most interesting in a psychological way!!!

When we got to start painting a proper landscape, we followed the way the tutor showed how he painted in a very loose style and encouraged everyone else to do so, to the point that we didn't even draw anything before hand, but put paint straight onto the dampened paper and left it to see what it did. The only control we had was to apply torn masking tape as a rugged horizon, that was immediately removed after the first colour was applied, and then sprayed with water to soften the edges. We worked on our pictures, and I got quite into it, but sort of made it up as I went along, as I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted it to look until I started working with the loose effects on my paper, but I put on lots of colour and slowly worked through where the focal point was with my three trees in the landscape, contrasts, lost and found edges, colour scheme and  the over all design of it.

At the end of the session, the tutor got us all to stand our half finished work against the wall and view them all together, to see how we'd all progressed, and he went along them one by one to comment on each one. When he got to mine, which happened to be the last one, he RAVED over it, the "exquisite" effect of it, and took it around to the rest of the class to show it to them. It took me aback abit, as I hadn't expected that reation, but was obviously delighted too by the way he loved it so much! Aw, thankyou!!!!

Afterwards as we packed our stuff up I went to him to thank him for the inspirational day and had a good chat about being a professional artist and standard of workmanship. He didn't know anything about me or my art so we exchanged business cards and he said he'd look at my website when I mentioned I was an erotic artist (I didn't mention that I already do abstract acrylics or the subject matter, but when he finds my "Fantasy Fannies" he'll realise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  LOL)

And if that wasn't enough, on the way out of the hall, literally in the doorway, I bumped into a woman who was coming in to set up for a party that evening, who I'd not seen since last April when she commissioned me to paint her daughters horse, Elliot,  for a surprise birthday present for her - she was absolutely delighted to see me, hugged me in greeting and told me how delighted the daughter was with the painting, and had burst into tears when she saw it. And then introduced me to her daughter, whe was with her, who also told me how delighted she was with the painting, and how well I had captured him and his personality, so that made it doubly good!

So all in all,  I was on a total "high" on the way home!!!!! A verrryyyy Happy Bunny!!!! YAY!!!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Twiddling our thumbs and other bits

We dragged ourselves from our sick beds out into the cold winters night, drove through the dark on fog bound roads, around road blocks and detours, to arrive, a little frosted, at our destination. A warm and welcome greeting for all who had braved the winter chills to turn up at the meeting as we compared winter ailments, coughs and colds. The first one of the year for this artists group, and it turned out to be all women for once. It was good to see my arty friends again, and I knew the meeting wasn't going to be an overly long one as there wasn't a lot on the agenda. We settled ourselves in the meeting room, as we waited for our punctilious Chairman to arrive. He's usually the first there, with his cheery smile and easy manner. The waiting lengthened, as we wondered where he was, perhaps delayed with the road blocks on country lanes, or perhaps with the fog on high ground, either way, he'd be here soon.

He wasn't.

So, the ever efficient secretary decided that it might be prudent to start the meeting without him, and he could take over when he arrived. Which was bound to be shortly.We went down the points on the agenda, as fully as we were able, but after the great length of time of........ooooh............ twenty minutes, we'd done it all! Mmm.... so where's the Chairman then? Is he stuck in a ditch? Has there been an accident? Is he lost in the fog? Perhaps someone has been rushed to hospital? A quiet unease spread slowly through the room ...........

Then, someone said that it might be a good idea to ring his mobile, great idea, but no one had the number.  I suggested we rang his home phone, as I had that to hand, and perhaps his wife would know where he was and what was happening. The secretary used her mobile to ring, as the rest of us watched with slightly concerned eyes, mouths closed tight, in deathly silence.
Ring. Ring. Hello?

He answered!

Slight relief from the room as we realised he was ok, but what was wrong, why was he still at home? It turned out that he was still at home becuase as far as HE was concerned, the meeting was on Thursday! AH! ER.. no, it isn't! :) Amusement from the assembled group as relief set in that he was ok and had only got the wrong date for the meeting. What business that could be was conducted over the phone, whilst our illustrious Chairman got an ear bashing from his wife in the room with him, and also the piss taken out of him from the secretary on the phone at the same time for getting the date wrong! :)

So, that was the meeting, not a lot to discuss, but as we left the meeting room, we had to walk through a bar room, semi-full of men with warm pints of the local bitter in their hands. They're a jolly group, mostly ex-miners, and I knew a couple of them, and stopped as they obviously wanted to chat - the first to comment on the fact that he'd been tempted to come in and pose as he knew I draw naked men and "their twiddly bits"!!! Guffaws of laughter from me regarding his description!! And the second commented that I ought to draw a retired miner mate of his since he had more that I might be interested in - I realised he was referring to them all being in the showers after a shift down t'pit and obviously comparing sizes (of  twiddles) whilst rinsing the black coal dust off themselves. All very jolly, and amusing, mostly because I hadn't been drawing in the meeting room at all , but having a meeting in the meeting room, now with added visions of naked ex-miners rampaging into the room in the mistaken belief that we women in there wanted to draw them and their "twiddly bits"!!!!! Now, THAT would have lightened the proceedings more !!!!!! LOL (even more so that I'm the only one there who draws naked people, the rest draw landscapes, cats, flowers, and still life!!!!!!!!). Tee Hee

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Eternal beauty

Now I've done as much background research as I think is possible for each of the seven Goddesses, I feel that I'm ready to picture what they look like for my painting. For me, they are all beautiful, in the traditional sense of the word. But, how does EACH one look? I have hazy shapes and faces floating around within my consciousness, they will grow more distinct as I get into her psyche, and she gets into mine. Eyes will search out mine, a sensual mouth, the line of a jaw, the hairline, will all fall into place, bit by bit, for each Goddess, of that I am sure.................

But, to help me focus more on the specifics, I've returned to a favourite way of mine of crystalising a fantasy face. I've gone back into my old archives of images, most cut from magazines over many years, some going back decades. A face that's caught my eye, an expression, a look, a concept- they've all been collected and saved. They are all there because at the time of my finding them, it set an idea in my head, of something that might be of use at some time in the future. Well, it looks like the future may be now. I rifle through the collection, discarding many, but finding a few of use for my purposes. Some of the worlds most beautiful women, some a nameless model then and still, others now  more famous than they were then, some less famous then than they are now, some still living, some dead. But, they are all beautiful. Very beautiful. and they will inspire me. I may not use all of the face as in the picture, I may widen the mouth, or change the hair, use the eyes from one, and the nose from another. But, they will become my beautiful Goddesses.............bit by bit.........

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Caught in the act

The last two drawings I've done of my male model have begun to tell a story, so I wanted to explore the natural progression in my next drawing of him.

He arrived on a bright but very cold day, snow was still lying on the ground and everything felt chilled. After our usual cup of  hot sweet tea and lively chat we discussed the pose. I knew I was asking more of him than he might have been happy with, but we discussed it in detail and he agreed that he was happy to pose in the manner I described. Neither of us were embarrased about it. But why should we be - it was a natural pose, for a lot of people..........

There was only one disappointment to start with, and that was that I had to cut out the lovely natural golden sunlight flooding through the window. I know from past experiences that if I had started drawing with the low level winter sun streaming through the window, it was going to fade fast and the light caressing the model would have gone with it. So, curtains firmly drawn, and the artificial light had to be arranged, and then manoevered for best effect.

The pose was set up, and I walked around him looking intently this way and that to decide which angle looked best, then I was ready to start! Bad Company blasting out of the cd player, and we're off!!!

The drawing went well, we chatted, and the warmth of the fire kept him warm on this cold day. We talked of many things, and there was an ease between us. He's told me before that he finds it very comfortable to be naked in my company and I take that as a huge compliment, as he's never posed for anyone else before and says he's not sure that he would want to. It shows the rapport we have, and I'm greatly touched by it.

I worked hard, and got to the point where the picture was finished, almost, except for the face, and I tried again and again to decide how I wanted to depict the facial expression, and then it dawned on me! It doesn't need one. You know what he'd doing. You know if you like it, or not. You know if he's looking at you, and is giving you an invitation, maybe, to join him. I don't need to draw the face, because you KNOW what is on his face already.

So, here's the drawing. You look at first and see a man, you admire the way the light shines on  his firm bottom and shapely legs. You see that he is turned away from you and notice his right arm is loose by his side. Then you look further and see his other hand, and see what he is doing, and see the movement of the muscle in his left leg, and the way the foot is slightly raised, as if he is about to turn, and face you. And you know EXACTLY what look is on his face................. especially when you find out the drawing  is called "Caught in the act". But you add the next part yourself, of what happens next, because that is what the picture is all about.......

When I'd finished it, and showed it to the model, he was as delighted with it as I was. I know he feels the same way as I do about doing these drawings, its not about sex, even though that is what he is depicting in this picture - its about the art, and the creation of it. We both stood there, looking at the finished drawing, that had only existed for a few hours. Both mute with understanding of what it stood for. It was "him" but not the view he has of himself. It was an art form, a creation, a sensuous piece of work, that depicted a man in an erotic pose. And I had created it, from a blank piece of paper, of him, as he stood infront of me. I didn't draw everything I saw, I made conscious decisions about what to put in, what to leave out, what to enhance, and that all went together to make the piece of art.

Later on, he emailed me to thank me for the day....

Jackie, thanks again for another fabulous drawing and a wonderful experience. I am amazed at how natural, comfortable and at ease I am being naked in front of you and always humbled by the dedication in your work, knowing it is me on the canvas. It sparks so many emotions and strangely for what the images are supposed to portray, sex is not one of them! It is an overall feeling of well-being, being human and it always feels 'right'. Thank you.

I am absolutely delighted with the drawing and thank you so much for the wonderful feelings this one (and the others) create for me. I am still in awe that someone of your ability takes the time to make me feel so welcome and is prepared to use me as a model; after all I am just an ordinary guy. I cannot find words to describe how incredibly humbling I find the experience and yet it somehow inspires something inside to do with personal achievement and knowing more about yourself.It certainly feeds
my spirit too and the 'high' posing gives is unlike anything I have ever experienced - whether it is the overcoming of nerves or perhaps doing something we are conditioned to think of as being naughty ..... whatever it is, I thank you.

Jackie, I would be honoured for you to use any of my comments - they are heartfelt and warm with the deepest admiration for your abilities as an artist and as someone I trust explicitly. The care you take to make sure I am ok with the pose, the surity of what you are creating - everything comes together to make me feel safe in your hands (so to speak!!).

Aw, now I'm humbled as well.............

Sunday, 10 January 2010

In search of the Goddess within

Before I paint someone it helps to know a bit about them. Just so that I have a better understanding of the essence of that person, to be able to incorporate it into the portrait. I don't need to know all the tiny details of the persona, just the bare facts will help. For anyone really. Male, female, young, old, mortal or immortal....

Immortal? You ask. Certainly! A beautiful Goddess, no, more than that - seven of them!

So when I'm asked to paint a Goddess, I need to know abit about her.
When I'm asked to paint seven Goddesses, for one painting,  I need to know about each one. In some detail.

I always say that nine tenths of painting a picture, no matter how complex it is, is the thinking that goes into  it. The subject, the composition, the techniques to use, the medium, the size, the story behind the image, the whole ambience I'm trying to capture within my painting. So, seven Goddesses needs a lot of research, because I don't know much about any of them, infact I'd only heard of three of them when I was asked to do the painting......

MMm.....some background details are needed, I realised. Start to find some more about them, to be able to capture the essence of each one... but that has made me realise that I need to read up even more on each of them, as being a Goddess is obviously a very complex thing. You've got a lot to be Goddess of, I've found, and some of them have varied and diverse connections.......

Take, for example, Hecate, the goddess associated with witches, ghosts, magic and crossroads (why crossroads I wondered, why not just roads?), torches (why torches specifically? why not just "fire"?), dogs (what's dogs got to do with anything to do with magic, witches and ghosts?), doorways, yew, garlic, aconites,  raisin cakes (what the ?!!) masks, candles, owls, bats, trivia, sheep - particularly black female lambs apparently, snakes, boars, willows, sapphire, silver, dark moons, and specifically the number three (what a weird mix THEY all are!).

I haven't found out much about Demeter yet, she is the Goddess of grain and fertility, ploughing and harvest, the bringer of seasons - and all of that sounds very nice and gently rural and buccolic - especially when I consider Kali!

There's Isis - a moon goddess of medicine, wisdom, motherhood, fertility, children, reincarnation.

And Astarte - goddess of war AND fertility, love, sexual energy and desire (how on earth are THEY connected?).

And Innana - source of the earths wells, springs and rivers, she is the goddess of sexual love, fertility and warfare (ah, there's starting to be a pattern here!) associated with lions, mating and fertility of humans and animals, and with rain and storms.

Then, there's Kali - who seems to a bit disconcerting to me -she's associated with eternal energy, time and change, war, death and destruction. But when I mentioned to my spiritual healer friend that I found Kali to be very dark, she told me that Kali "is actually a really nice goddess even if she DOES have the ability to be a bit stroppy". Mm...... "stroppy" eh? She seems more than "a bit stroppy" to me!

But my favourite is Diana - the ancient lady of the beasts. Mistress of wild things, especailly anything young and vulnerable, goddess of solitude, the wilderness and the great silences of nature, she is a moon goddess, a self sufficient goddess who lives life on her own terms. She is especially a goddess of women, and all the phases of womanhood, she stands for the part of us that is at home in the wilderness, in our primitive, instinctual nature. Goddess of the hunt, associated with wild animals and woodland, swelling on high mountains and sacred woods, especially oak groves.

Mmm..... I can really relate to the goddess Diana already- I can feel what she is. I can feel her force. I'll start with her, and see what I can see of her face, and then I've got to draw her and capture that essence in paint. Easy, eh?! :)  And that's before I start on the others - particularly Kali!!!!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Well, who else was he going to ask?

In a way, its not a surprise at all - I should expect it really. Because if someone else is interested in art, has a bit of the creative spirit in them, and they have enough of an interest to try to have a go at it themselves, and want to improve on it, they're going to want some positive constructive feedback. From someone they like, respect and admire, who is friendly and approachable. Like any pupil of art, you want to learn and listen to the words of someone wiser than you on the subject. That's what teachers are for.
So, if its erotic art, what do you do? You ask someone who is knowledgeable in erotic art.

That would be......................ME !!!     :)

The new pupil in question has bought some prints of my "fantasy fannies" recently, and told me at the time how much he liked them and the subject matter, and that seeing them had encouraged him to draw some of his own. He asked beforehand if I'd be interested in seeing his artwork, and I agreed I would. He sent them to me for me to give my opinion on his sketches of the pussies (no, I DON'T mean the four-legged meowing variety!) asking for any criticism and my advice for any improvements he could make. I'll take a good  look at his budding artwork and give my considered opinion and hope that he can begin to make the improvements he seeks.

And I'll think about the possibility of teaching art particular..... sensual  art. And wonder how much of a market there is for it. I know there's a good market for painting flowers, wildlife, landscapes, still-life and portraits. But, how many people would be interested in workshops about sensual art? I don't mean pornography, I mean something tasteful. And that's where part of the problem is. Where does pornography end and erotic start? We all have our own interpretation of what erotic is, and what pornography is - and it isn't the same for us all. I've been to many life drawing classes, and in a way they're a little staid. The naked body is just a vessel, like a still-life jug or vase. And is certainly not a sexual or even an erotic thing. But I think its much more interesting when its a sensual creation - something that invokes eroticism! I just wonder how much other people think that too?

I was looking forward to having a discussion regarding that and other connected matters with the fragrant Lucy Felthouse last night, my friend the erotic writer, but  because of all the snow and ice we had to cancel it and will re-arrange another get-together for when the roads are more accessible. I was looking forward to seeing her again and having a good chat about all things erotic and creative. As far as business meetings go, its as good as any I know of !!!!

 And they call this work.............................. :)

Saturday, 2 January 2010


If Samuel hadn't had a daughter called Sophia in 1793 whose sons were blacksmiths

If Mary (born 1796), and a widow at 26, hadn't gone on to marry James and had a son called Eli

If James and Mary hadn't had an 8th child, a daughter called Sarah, born in 1798

If Samuel and Elizabeth hadn't had a son John in 1799

If Stephen hadn't married Hannah (born 1785) in 1805 and had six children

If William and Ann hadn't had a son called John in 1806

If John hadn't married Kitty (born 1814) who worked in a cotton mill from the age of 7, and had a daughter called Ann

If John and Sarah hadn't had a daughter Rebecca in 1824

If Jemima (born 1801) hadn't married John in 1825 and had a daughter called Elizabeth

If Joseph (born 1805) hadn't married Mary, a cotton spinner, (born 1801) and had a son Ralph in 1835

If John hadn't married Sarah in 1826 and had a daughter called Sarah

If Sarah hadn't married William in 1847

If Eli hadn't married Rebecca in 1848 and had 7 children, the 4th a son, John

If Frederick and Elizabeth hadn't had a daughter called Rosa in 1859

If Rosa hadn't married John and had a son Alfred who fought in the Boer War

If Sarah Jane hadn't run a pub and had a daughter called Millicent who was a dressmaker

If Alfred and Millicent hadn't married and had 13 children
I wouldn't have been born.

That's awesome............................ isn't it?

I'm only on this planet because of all these people and what they did in their lives. Without any one of them, I wouldn't exist.

And neither would my art.

I find that somehow very humbling............................