Thursday, 19 December 2013

Everything stops for Christmas!

No more work - I'm counting down the days to when my family arrives for Christmas. I'm not going to think about painting until the New Year - then I'll have to put in a lot of time to get work ready for the end of January. Now it's all just about cooking and decorating and making everything festive for the holiday. I hope the snow stays away, however nice it looks!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

You don't know me.

I've become disciplined as far as work goes and so far it shows in my paintings.
Work dominates my thoughts and feeding myself and sleeping are the only things that seem important at the moment other than catching the train to work and back again at night.
I have just completed a large canvas You Don't Know Me  - the song has been going around in my head all summer and I've waited until now to do something about it.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

No more slacking

Show me the path to the village and Long Hot Summer are ready for the Christmas Show. Now I need turn my attention to the 16 paintings the gallery wants for February. It's an early start tomorrow and every day from now on.

Long Hot Summer

Long Hot Summer. Oil on canvas

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Show me the path through the village

Show me the path through the village. Oil on canvas

Monday, 16 September 2013

Not a good day at work.

I was geared up to paint the walls of the studio this morning but a letter fom the Albany Gallery arrived reminding me that they need paintings for the Christmas show  In the end I would have been better off decorating I had such an abysmal day trying to get something reasonable on canvas. I'm paying for the long summer break. I'm going to have to push myself to go back to the studio tomorrow - it's so depressing.
On a cheerful note, someone spotted the photograph of me and my neighbour in Cardiff Life, at the opening of the Albany Summer show back in July.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The elusive Damson

Bliss - I came across damsons in Penarth this morning and by this time tomorrow there will be jars of rich purple jam in store for winter. Monday I start back in the studio after the long summer break. I'm ready for work - lots of images in my mind, good ideas for paintings and plenty of new canvases waiting.
It's going to be a good week.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Going home.

It took awhile to get home yesterday and the journey wasn't without drama. Taking a left turn into one of the roads in Penarth, the front wheel came off my car. I caused a traffic jam and got a lot of abuse from people thinking I had just parked in the middle of the road - as if? The police arrived in force - 5 of them along with two police vans. Groups of people gathered, attracted by the presence of the police and it took on the appearance of a major incident. It took two hours for the AA to sort it out and take the car to the garage. In the meantime I sat in the car listening to the radio - generally amused at being peered at. It was only when one man started to take photographs of me and my car against the backdrop of the police van that I intervened to ask him to stop.
The police were brilliant - the breakdown lorry too, giving me a lift home. I'm hopeful that I'll soon be reunited with my ancient Merc. I'm not giving up on it yet!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The haunting refrain

There is always a tune going round in my brain prompted by some memory of a time and place which resonates only for me. It grows into something more substantial when the images become transposed onto canvas.  
Darn that dream; 'Round midnight; All the things you are; Reasons to be cheerful; are just some of the many paintings that began in this way. The pictures have long been sold and belong to other people now.
I wonder what they see when they look at them? 

Monday, 26 August 2013

When September comes.

Three paintings sold over the last two months but not enough to keep my balance in the black once the studio rent is paid and paint supplies replenished. When September comes I should look for new galleries. But I've been here before and I know that once I'm back in the studio and back at work I'll forget about it and just go on painting and hoping for the best.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mixing up the genes

I think of myself as Welsh although it was my mother who was Welsh, my father was born in Wiltshire. I grew up believing that my great grandmother was French and there was always a whisper of a touch of Spanish somewhere. No-one really knew. But now I have two grandsons who are Welsh and German and two who are Welsh and Bosnian/Serbian. We're all Europeans now.


I was married in August but my husband is no longer here to raise a glass. He missed a lot of good things - four grandsons he would have adored and a house in France where he could have indulged in the best of Cahors wine. But he was a 'bon viveur' who couldn't see the point of denying pleasure for a few extra years on this planet. So he died young. I don't think he was prepared for that and I am left in a state of limbo with so many things unresolved.
But he was my biggest supporter when it came to painting and I still use the easel he bought me soon after we were married. If I'm looking for approval from him on how it's going, I think I have it. I'll raise my glass and settle for that.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Beside the sea

Beside the Sea. Oil on canvas

It's hard to go to work when the sun is shining. I want to soak up the heat and store images of summer for cold winter days.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

La Canicule

For once we share temperatures with the South of France and all the talk is of the heatwave. Reference is made to the heatwave in France in 2003 and I remember it well. It prompted the painting La Canicule when it seemed to me that the village was almost on fire!

La Canicule.  Oil on canvas

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Rugby, Delilah and Bread of Heaven.

Lions roar to historic victory over Australia 

Reading the commentary, looking at the pictures and using my imagination, I can feel the excitement from the other side of the world.  What it must be like to be in Sydney now...

British and Irish Lions' Alex Corbisiero scoring a try against the Australian Wallabies in Sydney

Saturday, 29 June 2013

You go to my head

You Go To My Head.  Oil on canvas

One of the paintings I am going to show at Parkfields Gallery Ross-on-Wye at the end of July. The partner to All The Things You Are, painted two years earlier and now sold.

 All The Things You Are.  Oil on canvas

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The walk home through the city

The Walk Home Through the City. oil on canvas

A reminder that a few months ago when I painted this I walked through grey, cold Cardiff streets. Today the sun was shining as I took the same walk. What a difference a bit of sunshine does for the spirits!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Back to France

 Le Tour de Montcuq. oil on canvas

Painted in Montcuq, brought back to Wales and now on the way back across the channel -  "Around Montcuq" was bought by my Australian neighbours in France and collected from Cardiff on the weekend. It's nice to know that should I leave France the painting hanging in a house in Montcuq is a small sign that I was once here!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Coast - oil on canvas

It's South of France weather but my work is firmly embedded in South Wales. The radio this morning said that we are going to have wet summers for the next 10 years so just for today I'll eat my lunch in the garden and soak up the sun - enough to last me 10 years, and then I'll go back to painting coastlines.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Summer came and went.

A trip to West Wales to deliver paintings to the gallery in St Davids should have been a pretty drive but heavy mist and light rain meant that I couldn't see anything much of the landscape. Instead I used the time to  ponder on the general unease I feel when heading west out of Cardiff. It seems an alien world and when the M4 runs out soon after Swansea the strangeness intensifies. Point me instead eastwards where the signs read Newport, Cwmbran, Usk, Abergavenny and further on London and I'm really at home.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The studio - a special place.

Maybe triggered by a radio programme some weeks ago about artists' studios and a re-read of Alexander Liberman's The Artist in his Studio, on the train home from work yesterday I started thinking about the studios I've had over the years. I counted twelve. Some in cramped spaces and sometimes, in desperation, I worked from home. On one occasion I occupied a complete floor of a building with the choice of numerous empty rooms. I've used rooms in peoples' houses on payment of a painting and even painted outside in the garden when there was no other space.
It got me thinking about the nature and importance of the space in which I work.
Beggars can't be choosers and although light and space are the usual prerequisites I've often had to accept less than ideal. But one thing I have to be sure of - I have to be alone. 
I like the sounds of traffic, of people, of things going on in the outside world - they don't distract me. My mind is solely on the canvas and the palette. I have ideas of going out for coffee and bringing back lunch. In fact I do none of these things. I start work and lose all sense of time. When I leave, it's to go home.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Summer in Wales

 Two sunny days and I'm torn between the studio and the garden. There's a painting waiting for me and I'm anxious to get to it but the garden (and this is embarrassingly fanciful) is an equally important canvas. At least that's how I view it. Moving colours around and being unsettled by jarring shapes and textures has simple parallels in painting. Time spent now will give me endless satisfaction and visual comfort for the rest of the summer and into autumn. The radio says that the next fews days will see cold weather, heavy winds and hailstones (that's ridiculous!). So now I'm making hay while the sun shines!

Summer In Wales  Oil on canvas

Monday, 20 May 2013

The first sun of summer.

 The First Sun Of Summer. Oil on canvas.                         click to enlarge.

The one that caused all the trouble. Now finally finished and ready for the gallery once it's framed.
Work is flowing again and everything feels good. Tomorrow I'll pick up some more canvases.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Better days.

I have finally finished the painting which caused me some anguish and I'm a lot happier.
I am eager to get back to the studio on Monday to continue working on a new canvas.
Meanwhile the British weather contines to tease. After a few days of dresses and flip-flops early in the week it's now back to coats and umbrellas.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Lost day

There's a pattern to the work schedule which has developed over time. In the winter when it's cold I get to the studio at lunchtime and work through until late afternoon. The moment it gets warmer I get in early so that I can be home after lunch to enjoy the sunshine. We have had sun for the past couple of days so I caught the train very early this morning and arrived at the studio feeling pleased with myself. Radio on, kettle on  and I was ready to paint.
Then nothing seemed to go right. I kept at it hoping things would get better but it was useless. I stayed until late morning and then finally went home.
The way I feel now I desperately want to tell everyone who will listen that I can't do this anymore and I would like it to stop. But I won't. Tomorrow it's back to the studio to face the canvas again. I'm not looking forward to it. I'm hoping that it's just the problem of the first painting in new surroundings and that once it's finished things will settle down.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Sorting myself out.

It feels very good. There's lots of space now that I have unpacked but I still have to produce a painting here. I seem to have faced this dilemma so many times - each time on arrival in France and then on my return.  The break and change in studio is disruptive and getting the flow back takes effort. I shall feel better once the painting on the easel is finished - the rest will follow.   

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The bus to Pontypool.

Nothing is unpacked except for paints, palette knives and everything else I need to be able to get on with  work. The room is in need of a good clean and the paintwork is pretty disgusting but I've been in worse and by the time I've got the canvas on the easel and sorted out the paints, it's not something I notice.
I'm going to enjoy cleaning and decorating the place - but I can't afford to take time to do it now.
Something is going on in Cardiff and it's all kicking off in front of the castle just outside my window. Hordes of  people are celebrating .....A person goes by dressed as a duck but he's having difficulty seeing where he's going so someone takes him by the hand and leads him down the road.
A bus goes by with Pontypool on the front. Now that's a good omen.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Almost there

In the short time I spent in the new studio before leaving for London I set up my stereo system. With no time to start painting (or unpacking) getting the radio working was the first job. Now I'm back with fresh supplies of paint and looking forward to starting work again. The weather is getting warmer and with the windows open I can hear the traffic below and look over at the castle.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

A last look around.

The two days I spent packing up in the studio I had no time to dwell on the sadness of leaving a place where I had been very happy. However I did remember to take some images to remind me of this place and I'm glad I did.
It documents 14 months work but it also reminds me of how I made this place my own.
Now I need to start again. With only a short time to complete work for the Albany Gallery Summer Show I will have to ignore the fact that the new place needs decorating or that the floor needs a covering. That will have to wait. I just need the basics in place - easel, table, paints and palette knives along with some canvases. And of course the radio.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Another room,another view.

All my paintings, my paints and easel are stacked in the new room waiting for me but it will be a couple of weeks before I get back to work. In the meantime my two grandsons are spending their school holiday with me in Wales so I'm happily enjoying time with them and not thinking about painting.
In a little over a week it will be very different, I'll be in London at the opening of an exhibition of my brother's paintings. I'm already confident that this will inspire me to get back to work and I'll return with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Spring arrives, winter won't budge

I like this title, it comes from the BBC weather page. So, more cold weather to come. I have been into the studio the last three days so today I'm taking a holiday. The heating is full on, a have a new Jack Reacher thriller on hand and a bottle of wine I opened last night. I'm happily hibernating today.
On Monday I'm back in the studio to pack up my things ready for the move to my new place. After Easter I will be gazing from windows overlooking the castle, warm from the central heating, setting up my easel and pondering on the latest (and best) in the long line of studios I've occupied over the years.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

First Day of Spring.

People seem divided as to whether the first day of Spring is today or yesterday. It hardly seems to matter since both days I have been to the studio and froze in the low temperatures. It is definitely still Winter!
Life in the studio is a little uncertain - the plan is to move to another room a short distance away in the arcade. It will be a good place for me, with central heating. In the interim I am uneasy about the disruption to my work and, after having another key cut for the landlord to show new tenants the rooms, I am now worried that strangers will have access to my studio when I am not there. I am just a little paranoid - it will all work out fine.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Cowbridge Arts Group

Talked to Cowbridge Arts Group last week about my work.

Ecstatic, jubilant, happy, amazed...

......all this and more after Wales won the Six Nations on Saturday - an immense win of 30-3 against England.
We went into Cardiff in the morning - the excitement was building up into one immense party; a strong  feeling of anticipation everywhere and the belief that Wales could pull it off - but 30-3?  No-one quite
expected that!
We called into the studio briefly, it's almost next to the Millennium Stadium, but no work today. Rugby dominates and no-one is thinking of anything else. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

I will be happy to see the rain

It's a sunny day in Cardiff but the weather gets colder with an unpleasant arctic wind. Snow has closed Frankfurt Airport and my son can't get his flight out but everything is prepared for his visit so I have hopes for tomorrow. In the meantime I have been putting the finishing touches to a talk I am giving in a couple of days time to a local Arts Group.
I am hoping for the rain - to send the snow packing.

Friday, 1 March 2013

St Davids Day

The cold persists and the sun I expected for St Davids Day didn't materialise. Despite the weather people in Cardiff were wearing their daffodils and celebrating the day. I missed the parade through the city again this year, instead I met up with a group of friends. No work today but a useful discussion over lunch on the merits of using Win-Gel and Liquin and a fresh debate on the use of black in my paintings. Saturday tomorrow and I'm going to spend a few hours in the studio.

Friday, 22 February 2013


I'm taking photographs of a painting I'm working on at each stage from start to finish. It's to demonstrate my technique to a group I'm talking to in a few weeks time. It's an interesting exercise and thought provoking. It makes me question what essentially is an intuitive process. It's like watching someone else at work!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

It starts with Monday

It's Monday and I'm back at work, but walking to to the studio in the freezing wind I wish I hadn't bothered. I had so many jumpers on I could hardly move my arms, and fur lined boots which slowed my pace. I fantasised about warmer days when all I needed to wear was a summer dress and flipflops. Summer seems a long way off. There was a light snow falling and the barrow by the station was selling strawberries and cherries-crazy!
Once in the studio I bitterly regretted the missed days. I am happy here.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

It's cold.

I must get back to the studio and start working. It's just so cold and I'm making excuses all the time why I need to stay at home. Yesterday I cheered as Wales beat France in the Six Nations Championship glad that I was in my sitting room and not in Paris where it was bitterly cold. Over the years when I've had no choice but to go to work each day it has never been a problem but now that I can please myself it's too easy to look at the weather and stay at home. My thoughts don't stray far from painting and my mind is constantly reviewing, planning and mulling over past work thinking all the time about future paintings. The guilt is always there.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Back to Cardiff with a fresh supply of paint but no Manet this trip. Ticket sales went wild  and it will be March before we get to see it. Meanwhile on the Underground I keep seeing the poster advertising the exhibition and each time I am struck by his use of black - bringing the portrait to life and adding light and vibrancy to the painting. I used black for years until I was advised by a well known painter some time ago not to. I'm excited about seeing it on my palette again.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


When I'm not working I make do by browsing through paintings, remembering when and where I painted them. They belong to other people now and this is a curious feeling.

 Main Street. Oil on canvas

New Day Dawning. Oil on canvas

Shelter from the Storm. Oil on canvas


Snow gets in the way.

It's over a week since I was at the studio and in that week I've watched the snow falling, gradually going and then falling again. It's lovely to look at and I've enjoyed the spell at home. But now it's getting frustrating and I'm ready to get back to work. Before that happens I have a spell in London, picking up more paint and maybe getting to see the Manet exhibition which opens on the weekend. The reviews have been glowing and there's a lot of excitement around the exhibition. It's here until April and the most sensible thing would be to wait until maybe the crowds will be less. I have a feeling that won't happen and I'm not sure I can wait.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

February then March

January will soon be at an end but before that happens there is a ray of sunshine. Next week my grandson who lives in Germany is 6 years old. The youngest of 4 grandsons (by only three months) he is a treasure.
Then February starts with rugby. In two weeks it will be the first game in the Six Nations Championship and I will be glued to the television. Then we're close to March and St Davids Day and daffodils but not before pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Why am I wishing my life away? 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Oranges and sunshine

The smell of oranges which lingered for a number of days in my house has now gone. All the marmalade is made.
With snow outside and freezing temperatures, I am watching images of the South of France on the TV screen, bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine. I'm following the lives of painters who moved from Paris to live in the South at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. All the painters who mean something to me - Cézanne and  Matisse amongst the many. I see the way the light in the South, the colours and shapes and the beauty of the Côte d'Azur changed the way they painted and I share the facination and love they had for the place. I see the trees laden with  bitter oranges growing in the bright sunshine of Nice- the Bigarade oranges, the French equivalent of Seville oranges. 

When I was young I stayed a few times in Dundee with a boyfriend who was a student there. I remember the smell of oranges from the famous Keiller factory. The story goes that in the 18th century a Spanish ship carrying a load of oranges from Seville got into trouble in a storm around the coast of Dundee. Keiller bought up the oranges which would otherwise have perished and his wife made them into marmalade. That was the beginning and it's hard to believe that in the 21st century marmalade is still going strong. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

It's cold outside.

I've been circling around work, not really doing anything. I called into the studio for the first time since Christmas yesterday to check everything was OK. I moved a few paintings around and sat and gazed at the canvas finished in December and still on the easel. Today I'm meeting a friend in the coffee shop below the studio - another painter. Together we manage to motivate each other so that's a start. If the snow, which is threatening in some parts of the country, moves in this direction going to the studio will be not be pleasant, so, whilst the sun is shining I'll make a pact with myself to go to the studio everyday. In truth it's the cold which holds me back - warm house, cold studio - best just to get on with it and think of warmer months to come. In Marks and Spencers yesterday they were selling daffodils. That doesn't seem right to me and although I hovered on the point of buying a bunch I couldn't do it. I'll wait until Spring is in sight.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Maybe the last time.

It's getting towards evening and I'm getting tired of the sight of marmalade. Maybe this is the last year. The gin bottle has been put away and I've turned off Adele - all I'm good for is collapsing in-front of the TV. I still have 7 pounds of oranges left. Maybe I could stick them with cloves and make them into pomanders but the number of friends who want to hang an orange in their wardrobe is probably not that many.  The painter friend who has come to depend on my marmalade for his breakfast everyday has said in the past that my marmalade making is better than my painting. I hope he's joking otherwise he doesn't to get any more.


I don't know if making marmalade is a chore, all I know is that for the brief time that seville oranges are in the shops I am driven to buy them. I often have to search hard and phone around to find them.
I put it down to the colour. The sight of them on my table is magical and for a day or two they are decoration, like a bunch of flowers; but no flowers at this time of year have this bright, clear colour and after the decorations of Christmas these fill the space until the daffodils come. But then I worry about them shrivelling up and wasting and I'm too frugal to let that happen so Sunday (today) I'm devoting myself to marmalade making and listening to the radio. I just have to take a photograph before they disintegrate and lose their shape and colour.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Year Resolutions

The best thing about January has to be the New Year Resolutions. In fact it's the only good thing about January.Trying to match the realistic things with the reckless, I've decided this year to do it with a friend over dinner and some wine. This way I can introduce a bit of fun and maybe my intent will last beyond the end of the month. Given the gloomy economic news and the cold damp weather of January it's time for a bit of frivolity. Looking back over last year I find in my diary a splurge of social gatherings in January 2012 and realise it's the energy overspill from the pre-Christmas parties. It's a pity that by February the social mood is waning.
I definitely need to better in 2013.