Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Phew! All done for now.

Yesterday, I helped hang my work at the Angela Mellor Gallery in Ely near Cambridge.  I think it looks good.  I do feel as if I have been a little like a hamster in the proverbial wheel this last couple of years, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

All I have to do now is price up all my prints, of which there are rather a lot.  They are a culmination of three years work, with little time to get them all wrapped up.  It is really fun to look back at all the different prints and techniques employed.  I am really rather fond of some of them, especially the ones where I managed to register three plates with different colours on one print!

I was so happy to hear that two of my pieces at the Albuquerque Museum miniature exhibition have already sold and one from my gallery in Boston, Newbury Fine Arts, so finally things are starting to move again.  I have also sent the two small paintings below to the 'On a small scale' Christmas exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh.

On the road to Peebles 15 x 21 cm Oil
Snow above Lindsaylands 15 x 21 cm Oil
This weekend is my birthday and I have treated myself to a two workshop with Katherine Jones at Rabley Drawing Centre .  I have never quite managed to experiment with collagraph and block printing, so I am very excited.  I am sure there will be photos!

Then the following weekend I will be at the Angela Mellor Gallery to celebrate, so if you are near Ely on the 5th December, do pop in!

Until next time....

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Albuquerque Museum - Miniatures & More 2015

It's the 25th anniversary of this prestigious fundraiser for the Albuquerque Museum.    During those twenty five years, I have been invited to submit my paintings at least twelve times.    I am proud to announce that this year I was once again invited to be part of this exhibition.  There is a gala opening on Saturday and then on Sunday it opens to the public.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A weekend's break

I nipped down to Somerset, Bristol and Gloucestershire last weekend.  First of all, to see my eldest daughter, Holly, (always lovely), then to attend the opening of the Royal West of England Academy open exhibition in Bristol.   One of my drawings was accepted and considering the huge competition, I was grateful to get at least one of my pieces in!  

Whilst staying with my daughter, I took the opportunity to peak out of the window early on Friday morning and saw what promised to be an amazing sun rise.  Off I went, in my pjs (which don't really look like pjs, a coat and some shoes!) and proceeded to spent the next two hours photographing.  What a glorious morning.  

I have just finished another painting for my show at the Angela Mellor Gallery in Ely, so I am getting there, slowly, but starting to feel the pressure now!  

Oh, and I forgot to mention, my studio is finally here... almost.

I hope you are all well and enjoy my latest painting and photographs.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Drawings - Royal West of England Academy Annual Open Exhibition.

I have just arrived home having delivered my two drawings, Pond Petals ii and iii which I am thrilled to say, got through to the second round of the Royal West of England Academy Annual Open exhibition.  I posted them earlier in the summer because I created them for my show at the Open Eye Gallery.  Fingers crossed I get through to the next round and obviously I am hoping my pieces will be hung and sold!

I had to deliver them to Birmingham where there was a man with a lorry waiting to collect all the submissions.  It's quite scary handing over your work when you have spent hours and hours creating it and spent no small amount on the framing. 

I had never driven in Birmingham before and it's a little like driving in a very mini Dallas or LA.  Cities are always confusing when you don't have a clue where you are going and I had to do a few U-turns as I searched for the appropriate exit!!  Thank goodness for my trusty iPhone.  Without it I would probably have ended up in Fishguard (Wales), which actually would have been rather nice.  

Here are my drawings and a couple of photos taken on my return, through the lovely Leicestershire countryside. 

Pond Petals ii - Graphite 15 x 25 cm
Pond Petals ii - Graphite 15 x 25 cm

Did I show you my painting of Eddie...?   I don't think so.  As you know I look after him from time to time and Barry and I like to take him to the beach.  He is so handsome.  When I get my own dog, I shall do some more I think.  It's good to do something different from time to time.  Bye for now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Thanks for all your help!

I often wake up very early these days and instead of leaping out of bed to get in front of my easel or go for a rare run, I seem to lie there and do a lot of thinking, (maybe it’s my age!).  This morning, I realised that for the first time in eighteen months, I actually don’t have any of those depressing dark clouds hanging over my head.   

When I look back to when I first returned to the UK in 2009 to be with my Dad during the first bout of his serious illness, I realised not only how much I have had to deal with, but how much I have also achieved! 

During the five years that my Dad fought his illness and spent many weeks in hospital and at home recovering, I managed to create a makeshift studio in his home, then when Dad improved, I relocated my studio up to Scotland, and painted for a group show in London and taught a workshop.  I applied, got in and completed my MA in Printmaking, which frankly, has been a lifeline, thanks to the wonderful print room, and tutors and technicians and students at Cambridge School of Art.  During this time, we as a group of printmakers put on various exhibits and I got my prints into the Bite exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.  Whilst working on my MA (which included writing!), I also continued to paint for my galleries and various museum invitationals.  

After Dad died I discovered an underground water leak that had been slowly leaking under the driveway and who knows where else.  This just about brought me to my knees but I managed to stay standing.   It took six months to sort out, involving multiple phone calls, letters and holes left in the driveway. Thanks to the lady at the insurance company who fought my case, I got it fixed, two days before my MA exhibition! 

In addition, I made a couple of trips back to New Mexico and got to paint in my studio for a few months, which was lovely... a normal studio with space!  After returning to the UK last November, for the Society of Scottish Artists exhibition, I then had to sort out my dear Aunt Agnes’s bungalow because she had decided to come and live with me in my Dad’s house.  My Aunt had lived in her bungalow since 1959, so I will leave how much clearing out had to be done to your imagination!  I painted one room and threw out a 'fair' amount of ‘stuff’ and had to move half my studio that I had cleared out from Scotland, back into Dad’s house…. anyone exhausted yet?  We had a deadline to meet on the sale of her bungalow to pay off a loan that my Dad had taken out on his house and I wouldn’t wish that kind of stress on anyone.  

I confess, I have felt very sorry for myself at times and wished on many occasions that I had been part of a larger family!!  However, I am so fortunate to have a wonderful husband, some amazing friends and three lovely children who have supported me tirelessly throughout these last five years.  So many played their part and I want to pass on my heartfelt thanks to them for all their incredible support.

My husband, Barry McCuan has been so kind and understanding.  It’s not easy to be apart for so long, but he has been there at the really difficult times.   His help with packing, moving and helping me with my exhibitions this last two summers whilst trying to do his own work for his exhibitions at Ventana Fine Art has been just incredible.  Thanks to my two lovely and long term friends who gave me a bed to lie in during my long stays in Scotland and Cambridge.  Newer friends in Cambridge have been incredible in so many ways that have gone way beyond what one could expect from such new friends. Thank you to those who drove miles to be with me at my Dad’s funeral and my MA show… knowing that some had come many many miles after attending a funeral made it all the more poignant. Thanks to Eddie’s Mummy who has let me borrow him to satisfy my need for the companion of a dog.  I also want to thank my friend, who has managed to get me commission work, and to friends and family... yes, family!, who have bought paintings from me, keeping the wolf from the door, and those of you who provide lovely food, a social life and a bed during my stays in London and in Cornwall.  Last but not least, to my amazing children who come to my exhibitions and were incredible after their Grandpa died.

I am now painting for an exhibition in Ely, near Cambridge at the end of this year and actively looking for new galleries as many of my galleries have now closed and I have so much more time to paint!  My new studio will be arriving soon and I have been busy clearing away a section of the garden to make room for it.  I am so excited.  In the meantime, here are some of my latest paintings heading for the Albuquerque Museum Invitational this autumn.

Happy painting!

Summer Clouds, Summer Fields,  Oil, 30 x 30 cm 

Golden Sky, Golden Fields, Oil, 30 x 30 cm

The Spire and the Wheatfield, Oil, 30 x 30 cm

Friday, July 17, 2015

By the seaside.

Barry and I are down in Kingsgate, near Margate, Kent for a few days.  Staying with our friend Jim enables us to paint some of the gorgeous places down here.  It's good to get back to painting for sure!  I know you have seen some photos from this area before.  It is really one of my most favourite places. 

Today, since it was very windy, we took a break and went to see the Grayson Perry exhibit at Turner Contemporary.  Wow, how amazing he is.  I loved his ceramics... so contemporary yet referencing historical subjects, art and traditions.  My BA is in ceramics but I haven't really touched clay for years.  I found myself wanting to have another go.  His pots are classically shaped, handmade (coiled) with wonderful surfaces covered in multiple colours, drawings, photographs and advertisements from various eras and locations often relating to his childhood.  The surfaces are paintings in themselves.  I am also in awe of his etchings... goodness me!  They are incredible.  I know what it takes to make an etching like these and I am IMPRESSED!  

Here is an interesting article regarding one of the etchings that was in the exhibition.  You never get tired of looking at them but I wished I owned one so I could sit down and really spend time examining them closely.  

Early this morning before it became really windy, we were out painting on Botany Bay.  How I love this place!  I feel that I am just getting to grips with painting again and my strokes are freer and often thicker.  Well, we will see what happens!
My special rocks on Botany Bay

Me, trying to decide where to paint.

One of my studies

Obviously the beach is the place to go for an early morning dog walk and natter!
Barry getting started

Me, holding down everything as the wind whistled by!
Last night wasn't so sunny, but I just had to get out and paint.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Open Eye Gallery - Edinburgh.

We made it to Edinburgh! (and back).    All my worked packed in my little car, plus Barry, Eddie, the dog I was looking after and myself.   I think I had the best seat.  Barry was surrounded by bags and a very lovely but hairy dog!  Lots of precious cargo, years of work and two beings that I love dearly.  It took forever to get to Edinburgh as the A1 was closed, so we had to make a detour.  All good though and we arrived at my friend, Jasmin's place safe and sound.

The Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh did a wonderful job of installing my work.  It looked amazing.  I was so happy.  The exhibition opened last Saturday morning and lots of friends and family came.  It is on until 25th July.  I enjoyed meeting other wonderful artists too... Rachel Ross, who recently had a very successful show at the gallery.  Plus John Struthers, whom I enjoyed talking to a great deal, but wished I had been wearing even higher heels!

 John Struthers and me
Without this man I could not have managed.
Angie and me looking at my drawings.

And here is a little bit of Scotland for you, with Eddie and Missy.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Exhibition - Edinburgh

I knew this would happen... we are finally closing on my Aunt's bungalow on Friday and guess what, Barry and I are driving up to Scotland with all my exhibition pieces on the Saturday! It's going to be a crazy week full of packing and finalising bits and bobs for my show.

So here is my invitation and one of my new pieces for the show.....but that's all for now folks!!

Pond Life box - photopolymer prints from original drawings, with pond insect etchings, oil painting on lid. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015


So sorry everyone.... indeed if anyone has missed me!  Life has been really overwhelming this last few months.  Ohhhh, the roller coaster joys of trying to sell a property and all within a short timeframe has been so stressful and at times I have definitely wanted to run away to some beautiful island and live in a tent!  I am still going through it, waiting to see if the latest buyer comes through... the viewings, the surveys, the valuations, back and forth.. arghh!   It is not something anyone wants to go through at the best of times, but when you are 92 years old  (not me, my Aunt, although, I have to say I feel 92 on some days!), it is not an easy task.  

In between all this, I have been cooking, caring, painting, printmaking and gardening and consequently my blog has gone by the wayside.  I don't get out much either, so no beautiful British landscapes to show you.  Thank goodness for Cambridge School of Art.  (Anglia Ruskin University) I continue to print in their print room as I supervise one evening a week.  It is a life saver for sure.  Plus I have been and continue to do some print workshops at the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum in Cambridge with my printmaking friend, Lizzie (Bertie) Smith.  Oh, yes, I also got an interesting etching commission for a dung beetle which I sent to Singapore.

I am at the moment getting ready for a very important print exhibition in Edinburgh as a consequence of showing my cabinet at the Scottish Society of Artists annual exhibition last November.  Thank you Scottish Society of Artists!   I am thrilled and excited to have been offered a chance to exhibit my work at The Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh on 27th June. Thanks to Cambridge School of Art Print room for making it possible for me to prepare for this exhibition.
Pond Petals ii - Graphite
Pond Petals i - Graphite

Summer Clouds 5 x 7 in oil panel

Stow Cum Quy - 6 x 12 in - oil panel 

Well, I did manage to make a trip to Scotland, so here is Badger on the hill up in the Southern Uplands, just outside of Biggar.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Back in the UK.

After a quick visit to Los Angeles to help my daughter Rosie settle into her new flat, Barry and I dashed back to New Mexico last Saturday, (it's a long way to drive in one day!!).  I only had one day to finish the big painting before leaving last Tuesday. 

I arrived back in Lincolnshire last Wednesday,  unpacked, packed and paid some bills on my Dad's house, loaded up my little car with my beetle cabinet and beetle boxes and drove up to Scotland on Friday to deliver my work to the Royal Scottish Academy.  Phew!!   My work had been pre-selected for the Scottish Society of Artists exhibition and I am now waiting to see if I have made it through to the final exhibition.  Luckily, I can stay with my friend Jasmin whilst I wait to hear.

As many of you know,  Edinburgh is not flat, so we had to be very careful not to let the sack barrow run away with us!  Here is Jasmin holding onto the cabinet.  She is very strong!!

Last post, I had promised to include the stages of the large painting I was trying to finish before returning to the UK.  I hope you enjoy them.  Please don't hesitate to ask questions.

I used to cover the whole of the canvas and then wipe out, but I work more directly these days.

Building up the image.

Although from my reference material there wasn't a river, I put one in because I thought it needed something for the eye to follow into the landscape.  Plus I wanted to echo a little of the sky colour and not just have a lot of green fields!
At this stage I began to mix Ultramarine blue deep with the Burnt Sienna to create the darks.
Big decisions to be made on the colour of the fields,  to bring some fields forward and push others back. 

I found it difficult to find the appropriate colour for the distant hills, wanting them to be fairly true to the colour which is quite warm,  but needing them to recede.  Forming the structure of the hills.
Adding the sky, hoping to create the atmosphere. 

Rolling Mist - The Lake District 40 x 64 Oil/Linen

When the whole painting was covered and I had worked on all the tree shapes, tweaking the lights and darks and the distant hills, I let the painting dry.  Then I covered the distant hills and the sky in a milk glaze... transparent white, paynes grey and a tiny amount of ultramarine blue.  This pushed the hills back.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the US.  My birthday once again falls on Thanksgiving day.  Last time it did that was when I was 50 and Barry and I took off to Oaxaca.  That does sound very appealing, but I will be happy to stay in Scotland.

Bye for now.