Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Woody's Story

Meet Woody....as he evolved on my easel there was a point where he appeared a little scary, a double murderer was at large the weekend I was painting him and there was a stage where he looked exactly like the photofit picture of the man they were searching for! Thankfully Woody began to show a kindness and longing in his eyes and I hoped he no longer would scare anyone.
For some time he remained nameless but then his name came to me in two ways. Firstly I once knew a Woody when I was 15 and he was 18, he was tall..around 6' 6" and he made me feel safe. Woody had the most wonderful family, they all used to gather around the television in the evenings and watch their favourite programmes together. There was a warmth in that room that I had never experienced in my 15 years, they welcomed me and made me feel part of their family and I knew they thought the world of me. His Mum was a cinema usherette, a tall lady with a lovely face and she would smile even broader when she saw her son and myself in the cinema queue on a Sunday afternoon.
Woody decided that he would like to go on holiday to Spain with a group of friends, it was out of the question for me to consider going with him as I was too young. He was a quiet, thoughtful and kind person....it almost seemed strange for him to want to go on a lads week away....he wasn't the type. But Woody went....and tragically drowned in the sea on his second day there.
Then just last week my colleague at work was telling me she had bought a puppy for her 8 year old son. This little lad has a hearing implant and finds coping with school and everyday challenges difficult. My colleague sits with him at bedtime and holds his hand until he goes to sleep as he gets so anxious at night time. Since getting the puppy she no longer has to do that, and the little lad goes off happily to school and joins in the after school activities. It has made a huge difference to his life.
I asked her what she had named the puppy and she said......Woody.
My Woody is travelling to the USA tomorrow to live with my beautiful friend Carlanda and I know he will be happy there.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Looking for Lottie

Lottie M Hanney appeared in my life when I began researching my family history. I had a very unhappy childhood but my grandparents gave me my happy memories thankfully. So a few years ago I decided to trace back to my ancestors and gain a sense of family from that. On the 1891 census a Lottie Hanney appeared listed with the occupants of my great grandparents house in Bath, Somerset. She was 13 years old and described as a Nurse/Domestic and immediately I was intrigued. I then discovered her aged 3 classed as a visitor on the 1881 census in a house in Bath along with 2 adults in their early 20's. More research revealed her on a passenger list of a liner docked in Southampton that had departed from New York in 1904....Lottie was now a 26 year old woman. And then she disappeared....after searching for months I couldn't find her on any records. So fast forward to September 2011 and Lottie presented herself to me again in my dreams and in my thoughts and I began looking again. I found a little more information that there was a Hanney connection - my great grandmothers sister had married a Charles Hanney....but no mention of a Lottie.
I've painted her recently standing in a doorway....and found 4 old photographs of a very similar doorway of my great grandparents house in Bath...I couldn't believe how similar it was...black with stone pillars..just as I had depicted.
So here she is again.....created in pastels...if only she could give me the answers....I'm still looking for Lottie.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Moving Forward

I want my art to move forward and in my head I know where I want that to be....but telling my hand is not so easy! I know I want to draw and paint much smaller but to still capture expression seems difficult. I've only been drawing for a few years and only began painting in 2004 so believe me this art thing doesn't come naturally to me! Having said that I absolutely love being able to create and I can recognise my progress. When I was at school you had to be gifted artistically in order for the teachers to want to guide you...if you had no artistic talent they weren't interested. I can remember an art field trip where we all went into town and had to draw architecture, my friend was busy with her pencil and very soon had an exact drawing of the building in front of her.....I had a blank page. In art classes we were never shown how to draw a face, objects were never broken down into shapes in order to grasp the basics of drawing a subject, I yearned to be able to pick up a pencil and produce a picture. So fast forward 30 odd years and I decided to fulfill my dream and I found a wonderful teacher. I began with decorative painting...no drawing skills required as you used patterns but it did teach you brush skills. Within 3 months and 3 or 4 lessons later my teacher had put me forward for a years training with Decoart a large US paint company, they were teaching a group of people in the UK to become Helping Artists in the hope of promoting decorative painting and their products in this country. The following year I had another opportunity to train with Chroma using Jo Sonja paints and a dry brushing technique programme called Creative Possibilities. So my journey began and since then I have continued to learn by taking online classes and lots of practise. I can see so many faults with the painting above.... but I can also see where I am moving forward.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

My Other Life

My other life is so rewarding. I work for a Mental Health charity and help run a service called the Wellbeing Service. Part of my work includes providing art courses which I absolutely love, they are so therapeutic and each time I plan a course it is attended by at least 10 people. I have a mixed group, some are quite artistic already but for many others it is their first experience of trying something creative. The joy I get from seeing them grow and the sense of pride they gain from producing their first piece of art work is so amazing. I remember that feeling well back in 2004 when I first decided I wanted to learn how to paint, and because of my journey I can provide the guidance and encouragement for them to believe in themselves.

The work shown here is some of the art people did in my recent Expressions in Mixed Media class. They produced three pieces of work in 3 two hour classes! Collage, plaster on canvas board, and plaster gauze.

Friday, 19 August 2011


I'm trying to capture a less defined look to my faces. I've longed to be able to paint or draw much smaller faces and yet still give them expression. I've recently taken Carla Sonheim's Faces 101 class and she guides you through exploring many different ways to achieve a face, one of those techniques was to just give an impression of an eye and yet it still creates interest and depth.

This WIP is a combination of a technique I have done previously by painting a face with a black shiva oilstik on a textured background but instead of painting a normal eye I have used Carla's guidance. I plan to create a pattern for her dress by printing my own pattern..I'm going to trial it on paper first...I learnt that lesson a long time ago :)