Sunday, September 28, 2014

My new favourite artist

A few weekends ago I went to Plas Teg. Back in the early 80's when it was still a ruin, I used to pass it on the coach every morning and evening to-ing and fro-ing to art college in Wrexham. I always loved the place, but this was the first time I got to see the interior and wonderful renovations carried out over the intervening years by it's marvelously eccentric owner Cornelia Bayley. The house, and everything in it, are fantastic and theatrical and I was particularly taken by all the grand old oil paintings hanging in every room... except they aren't "old" at all. It seems Cornelia commissioned some amazingly talented contemporary artists to copy works that are hanging in museums and galleries the world over (some I recognised, Reuben's for instance). Those artists did an amazing job and it got me thinking...

Back when I used to pass Plas Teg as a ruin, I was having my life-long (well, all of 17 years at that point) dream of becoming a portrait painter well and truly kicked out of me by some of my college tutors. One in particular (let's refer to him as Albert Bumface) attacked my work - plus my views, my character, my looks and just generally my very existence - to the point of bullying and it was because of him that I pretty much gave up painting and changed from Fine Art to Design. I certainly lost all the joy  of painting that I had enjoyed since a small child and was filled with self-doubt whenever I picked up a paint brush after that. The odd part was that I was easily one of the better students in my year as far as natural talent went. That might sound egotistical but is just a fact. Other tutors praised and encouraged my draughtsmanship and my already quite well established painting style, but as I was young and really lacking in confidence back then, Bumface's loudly disparaging comments drowned out the weaker voices of encouragement for me. Now I just wonder how many of my fellow students went on to make their living day to day solely by using their artistic talents? I did, of course, but it was only because a strong streak of defiance rose up from somewhere a few years down the line.

The problem for Bumface (who wasn't all acidic malevolence, he had a lot of 'favourites' whom he showered with praise, and was very popular with a certain section of the student body... he spent a lot of time with them down the pub, anyway) seemed to boil down to the fact that I loved the old masters. I also failed to sneer when I saw the work of the Pre-Raphaelites and once bought a postcard of one of Joseph Farquharson's many snowy landscapes with sheep to give to my Grandma while we were on a college trip to The Walker Gallery in Liverpool. "Lowbrow" art was yet to have it's day and I guess to the likes of Bumface, an eclectic  girl who could appreciate not just the work of Cy Twombly but also of the likes of Sir Frederick Leighton clearly had no place in HIS art college. Bumface and his little clique held very rigid, narrow-minded opinions what was ART and what was not - in short he was a Total D*ck! (I am not suggesting that he quacked there, in case you are wondering)

Anyhoo, my visit to Plas Teg set cogs whirring and I have begun sketching and even gotten out the oils for pretty much the first time in 40 years. I don't buy all of the Haunted House talk at Plas Teg but maybe the place has finally laid to rest the horrible specter of Albert Bumface for me. I have in mind a series of oils of fictional sitters with odd companions seated or standing in front of those lovely pastoral landscapes favoured by Gainsborough and the likes. So with all of that swirling around in my head I was pretty excited to discover the work of Stephen Mackey earlier today... my new favourite artist in fact. I can't believe I have never seen his work before, maybe he has been to Plas Teg too? Albert Bumface would absolutely hate Stephen Mackey's paintings, but then Albert Bumface's work isn't hanging in galleries and isn't collected the world over is it? So, who cares what he thinks anymore! ;o)



Friday, September 26, 2014

Fabulous Queen Anne style Lady Skeleton doll

Take a look at this wonderfully spooky Queen Anne skeleton lady doll made by the talented Alena Sinel of The Old Wooden Sisters. She is a really creepy treat, you can see more pictures of her here and stay a while and take in the rest of Alena's amazing reproduction "Old Pretender" style Jacobean wooden dolls. Needless to say that skeleton lady is my favourite! ;o)


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Broomhilda and the Baroque Witch prints now in shop

I have some different sized prints of Broomhilda and The Baroque Witch available in the shop. These images were created at high resolution at A4 size (210mm x 297mm) and that is the size that will give the best crisp detail. If you would like this larger size please message me at the shop and I will do a custom listing for you. Please remember that some of the vintage scraps used are not of the same quality  due to their age and/or the way in which they were digitized.

Today I am working on a new creepy paper doll character, Frogatha Batwick, a strange little girl with many exotic pets. Unlike the two altered art witches, the doll herself was created from my original drawings, then her clothing and accessories were assembled from vintage scraps. She will come with a background scene and a change of outfit/pets. She should be ready by the weekend.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vampire Cabaret Postcards

I have turned my glamourous - if slightly bonkers - Vampire Showgirls into a 5 postcard set. They look great framed or maybe send to a friend as a Halloween gift! In the shop today :o)



Friday, September 19, 2014

Welcome home Scotland!

I am so relieved that Scotland has decided to stay in the United Kingdom. I am sure this is an issue that is very hard for anyone outside the British Isles to understand but it's a really emotive one for us. I am Welsh, that means that genetically I have more in common with the Scots and Irish than I do with the English. There are plenty of 'Celts' in the British Isles who still see the English as Saxon (Saesnegg/Sassenach) invaders!

A large part of Ireland left us a long time ago, but for the rest of us Welsh, Irish and Scots there is always this dual identity, we are also British. It can rankle that to a certain extent we still get told what we can and can't do by the "English" government.

The English, on the other hand, seem to view 'English' and 'British' as one and the same thing. Or at least they do when the Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland team is doing well at a sporting event England already crashed out of ;o) I figure the easiest way to describe it is to say we are like warring siblings. All said and done, I think we are better, stronger, together. I hope we always stay that way, but also that we always remember to celebrate our differences.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New things in the shop

Yay, I feel like the United Nations of Computer hardware, I finally got my warring Mac and Printer to speak to each other... as a result lots of new items will be trickling into the shop over the next few weeks. Fist I have added to new Showgirls to the Vampire Cabaret Paper Art Doll set... don't they look cute all packaged up together?




First we have Seraphime, whose face is based on an old photo of silent movie siren Theda Bara, totally redrawn by me...


and then we also have cheeky Lola to bring the chorus line up to 5 lovely, slightly bonkers, ladies. In the next few weeks they will be joined by my first male Paper Doll, the great Suprendo... unless I can figure out a better name for him in the mean time.


I have just printed out the Baroque Witch and Broomhilda too, you can meet them properly tomorrow :o)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Slight delay!

OK, there will be a slight delay in getting the new Paper Dolls into the shop. Firstly, my newly changed around work room caused there to an unforeseen Printer Power Lead Shortage…. mainly because I put it 'somewhere safe' while moving the furniture last week and couldn't find it. I turned the whole house upside down over the weekend, even the attic, looking for the d*mn thing only to find it at the back of the Kitchen cutlery drawer! Why???

So, once it was located at around 7pm last night (when I went to make dinner) I headed over to print out the new dolls only to discover that my Mac has been sulking about the sudden absence of the Printer and is now refusing to recognise it's existence.

This could take a while… will keep you posted on developments.