Wednesday, 29 June 2011

And the sand gets everywhere

I knew there were a lot of them, but I didn't think there would be quite as many as there were, in the end.

799 to be exact.  Tis a pity I didn't make it to the 800 but nevermind.......

It's still a lot of photos. Of one holiday!

It must have been a good one then!!! :)

It was, actually - a very good one. A perfect relaxing holiday full of sun, sand, sea, relaxing with a good book or three, eating (well, it was France, it's expected!), drinking (ditto the last comment!!), sightseeing, and seeing parts of the world I've not seen before - so that's always a huge plus for me, oh, and being licked in strange places.......

The main part of theholiday was a fortnight in a villa 50 yards from the beach in St Palais sur Mer, near Royan on the Atlantic coast. It’s a lovely area with loads of beautifully soft sandy beaches, but punctuated with interesting rocky outcrops, and backdrops of pine forests behind, so it was quite dramatic, and even more so when the sea was crashing in after a night storm. That area is scattered with wooden shrimping huts, on stilts, along the sea shore, but I am convinced that they are only there for the tourists, since there was absolutely no sign of any fishermen visiting them, at any time night or day, nor of any shrimps, come to think of it!!!

The weather was very mixed, but I think that was better than wall to wall sunshine, because it meant days out sight-seeing. One of the high lights being a fabulous afternoon at the zoo at Palmyre (about five miles away), and I wished we’d gone for the whole day as there was so much to see and do – the highlight for me being handfeeding the three giraffes (Mummy Giraffe, Daddy Giraffe, and Baby Giraffe) their favourite snack – popcorn, would you believe! (Now, who came up with that idea?!). I loved the intimacy of feeding a semi wild animal especially when I realized that they don’t bite, but helpfully extend their very long curling blue tongues to have the popcorn placed on it, and the only drawback afterwards was that the whole of my hand was covered in giraffe slobber!!! The rest of the zoo was beautifully laid out, and well designed, and I really enjoyed seeing all the animals – especially the pretty red pandas, the manic tamarins, and the watchful snow leopard.

Other days out included a visit to nearby Cognac, a very non descript town that was overshadowed by the various distilleries – Remy Martin, Martell and the largest being Hennessy. We didn’t do the Hennessy tour but we did go in their shop, which looked like a high class jewellers shop by the way it was elegantly and expensively set out. We idly walked past the opulent display cases looking at the various cognacs in their different shaped and priced bottles, starting around £30 and then stood wide eyed looking at one bottle for sale at a thousand pounds, only to find that there was actually one there priced at two thousand pounds, as well!!! Fortunately I don’t drink brandy so I wasn’t tempted by any one of them….

There were visits to other delightful little towns as well  – notably Saintes, and Pons, both of which were a surprise to find how medieval and picturesque they were. That area of France doesn’t have many English tourists, so it was lovely to be surrounded by French people eating and drinking the same things that they did. There was only one half day of rain, and after a short drive up the coast for about eight miles and a bit of a wait for a break in the wetness to abate, walked across the sodden sandunes to the sea, to watch it spectacularly crashing in, only to get battered by the wind and rain and sand in the process! The following day, the rain had stopped but the sea was still crashing in and I thoroughly enjoyed the breathless excitement of the huge powerful waves lashing against the shore.

But the sunny days were spent languishing on wide beaches slowly building up a tan with the sound of the sea filling my ears the whole time, and the sight of it reminded me how much I've missed being near it.

And on the way home, we had two nights in the area around Tours which is the start of the Loire Valley. After a small search we found the delightfully picturesque little town of Amboise on the banks of the lazy Loire river, complete with its own chateau on a prominent outcrop overlooking the picturesque shops and houses below. It’s other claim to fame is that it is the town where Leonardo da Vinci died! I’d never heard of it before we happened to chance upon it. An easy walk around it, helped to explore it further and also went to the nearby village of Chenenceau which also has the most stunning white fairytale chateau which straddles the river Chen. There are many pretty chateaux all around that area, including one that inspired the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, and I would have loved to have visited more. The pretty hotel we stayed in, in Amboise was an elegant delight, with its own pretty gardens complete with very friendly white cat, and a very welcome pool, and again we only found that by chance as we drove down a little side street.

And as always, I took photos of everything I saw... the crashing waves on the beach, the picturesque bustling towns, the ancient stone buildings, the green flowing landscape, the huge wide skies, the happy fields of sunflowers, the sparkling light on the ocean, the pale pink sunsets, the busy cafes, the people. All of it the essences of France, all of it inspirational for me to want to capture it within my paintings.

So I've come back, raring to go, and my artistic juices very well fed!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Two mermaids for the price of one!

When I had a chat with erotic author Lucy Felthouse the other week about her latest book "Seducing the myth" I was fascinated by the idea of the erotic stories featuring mythological creatures within it, and absolutely delighted to be asked to design the cover for it. Its definitely my sort of book!  She had let me read the mermaid story she had written which will be featured in the book, and that lead on to some ideas as a basis of ideas for the cover. I drew a very basic thumbnail sketch to show Lucy my idea and she agreed it would be a good concept for the book. Ok, then....... I was ready to start....

But it wasn't until this week that I was able to begin it. And I knew that I would have to paint the picture in a slightly different way to normal, as the three basic tones would have to be slightly stronger than I would usually do to make the picture more dramatic.

I started by choosing the watercolours I wanted to use, a gorgeous turquoise, a slightly darker greeny blue, maroon, and green gold for the mermaids tail.  And knew before I had even started it that it would have paint poured on, and splatter within it, as that adds to the magical mystical feel of watercolour. The pale wet wash worked beautifully for the under water feel of the painting, and I made sure the masking fluid masked out any areas that I didn't want paint to touch whilst I painted the  fluid background. And with the aid of salt and splattered paint the background worked really nicely. I painted the mermaid next as she reaches out to the man's face she can see in the water, using lots of splattered white for the effect of her fishy tail swishing around as she edges towards him. The smiling man's face was painted subtly with his features a little indistinct. A few twiddles here and there and the picture was finished. I stood back to contemplate it and looked again at what had weaved its way into the picture..... for I could quite clearly see the hint of a large skull within the paint. And I smiled to myself, because I knew that was when a picture of mine produces its own magic from something I don't plan, but it happens anyway and it always enhances the picture when it does happen. It's part of the flow from me to my artwork via the creative spirit. But, it also means that I am totally in tune with my painting as well, because even though I didn't consciously plan it, the fact that there is a skull hinted at is so right for this story because ....(oh, well, I let you read Lucy's story for yourself, and you'll see what I mean.....!).

So, that was it, the picture painted.

Except, there was still more in me.

I had a strong desire to paint another one.

But with a bit more passion in this one, some more oomph....

So, I started afresh with another piece of watercolour paper, more or less the same colours (but without the maroon, and using burnt umber instead), and wet the paper and started with the windsor yellow of sunlight filtering down, the turquoise of the water, and adding more swirls of white and movement with this mermaid and man. They are totally in tune with each other, they are lost in their own world of lust and love, as they caress and swim energetically through the depths of water. I like this painting also, it's more erotic and sensual..... but it hasn't got the depth of magic in it that the other one has.

I'm pleased with them both though.

Oh, and the titles... the first one is called "Seducing the myth, gently" and the second one is called "Seducing the myth, with passion".  The same concept, the same subjects, just both done in slightly different ways to get the point across.

Now I'm just wondering what the next mermaid picture will be, I do love doing em!


And as a post script - I've just had Lucy's conformation that she loves the "Seducing the myth, gently" painting as well, and we are in totally agreement that it is that picture that is the right one for the book cover! She says its going to be fabulous! So, that's great to hear, and we're both happy!!! Result!!!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Looking back

Looking back, at the time of the exhibition I didn't particularly think of it as a good one. I hadn't sold any pictures, and that is usually my marker for a successful show. But I know that that is sometimes the way of these things, and at least I had had really good responses to the work I had taken. And overall the whole group hadn't sold a lot, but that sometimes happens too.....

At least I had taken some cards and they had sold, as they always do, so I had a bit of income back to set against the hanging fees, the effort, the time, and energy I had put into the work I had exhibited.

So, I might have driven away from the exhibition a little despondent, a little more muted than I had cheerily arrived there at the start of it.

And arrived home to put my artwork away, sort out the unsold cards and got on with the mutae of life as one does......

But, what I hadn't realised was the seeds I'd set.

The ones that start with a business card..........

During the week I had two phone calls. One from Stuart Haywood the South Derbyshire historian, who wants to be drawn by me again as he loves the other artwork I have done for him, and seeing my art and me in person had prompted him to commission me again to draw him. And there was another idea he had for a painting too, but he needs to sort out some old photos before I can do that for him, so that will happen in due course.

The other phone call was from a middle aged chap who had picked up my business card and contacted me with a view to me doing a watercolour of him in the nude. He came in the week for me to take more details and to discuss poses with him. As he was about to disrobe he hesitated and said ...."Er, I've...... got ....pierced nipples..." to which I replied,  with a grin "That's fine, I've seen worse..... " to which he ruefully replied "Well, I've had that pierced as well, but I took the ring out....." And I replied with a bigger grin "Well you could have left it in if you'd preferred...." But, no, he was happy with the way he was. So, that is the next painting in the pipeline, sooo to speak..............

And just to add to the joy of a busy week, I received the same email that the secretary of Ashby Guild of Artists sent out to all members. And in it I read that the slips that had been given to all the visitors to the exhibition asking them to name their favourite painting at the exhibition, which made them look at them a lot closely and interact with the show more,  had been totted up and the results were..

"You will see that Jackie's "Looking Back" was clearly the public's favourite picture with 19 votes, her overall votes being 25. It is interesting to see that nearly everyone was represented which shows that the general standard of the exhibition was high (and some actually said that on their slip). In perhaps half a dozen cases out of the 228 slips received, people selected more than one picture and prioritised their vote, so in true British tradition a 'first past the post' decision was made in those cases."

So, that certainly made my day, and made my week!!!!!! YAY!!!!!
So, I will show the drawing here. It is a pencil drawing on cartridge paper, and about as far away as you can get from erotic art! It shows old age, and a life lived shown in the lines and marks of the graphite pencil. It is a picture I am delighted to have drawn, and I took many hours to do it. But I will also mention that I am very aware of copyright issues, and the drawing I did (some time ago) was done from an image I didn't take. I have no idea of the photographers name, or how old the photo is, so I can't credit them with it.

The picture is here, and is very aptly named. It sums up my week, as well as being totally apt for the drawing, and the subject matter....... It's called     "Looking back" !!