Monday, 21 June 2010

In the studio

Oh dear, this is the first attempt....more practice needed I fear. Look into the camera woman....speak louder, stop waving the camera around.....etc etc...still, I know know how to do it!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Very fishy fish

I'm pretty fed up with my camera now. There is obviously a major problem, rather than me being stupid about the settings. Time for a new one me thinks. So I apologise for the poor quality of the photos.

I can't get into gear today. My head is still full of Libya and I can't empty it sufficiently to allow myself to paint. The temptation to pack a small bag and jump on the first plane back to Tripoli is massive.... Itchy feet.

I recently finished my Marrakech inspired painting and I'm pretty happy with it. The colours are much more vibrant than the pic indicates. I like the carpet quality of the collaged door and the man scuttling out of sight.
One February I spent a few days in Marrakech, it was pouring with rain, the torrential down pour bounced of the steamy streets. I didn't mind as I sat in a smokey cafe drinking coffee, watching the men rushing through the streets, holding up their long hooded coats trying not to get their fine leather babouches wet. It was a glorious sight.

I wanted to do some paintings that are inspired by my trip....but I don't know where to start. There is so much to chose from and I really need to get everything into order in my head before I attempt it.
So for this weeks painting, I made a start on an idea I had a while back. I'm not sure I like it at the moment. It has too much of a cartoon look. The fish are collaged with newspaper. I then painted some white household emulsion of the top to knock them back a bit.I like to use ordinary emulsion because it sand papers off quite nicely, leaving a chalky appearance. I use gold metalic acrylic paint quite a lot too. It lifts the surface of the painting and catches the light beautifully. Inspired, I have to say, by Grayson Perry's beautiful ceramics, which are heavy with gold leaf. It makes them look special.

I'm letting this dry now and will look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


It's such a pity my camera was not playing the game. I'm not sure what is wrong with it but the picture quality is rubbish. Still, it gives you an idea of the immense skill need to make some of the mosaics. This first one for example, is staggeringly beautiful. Each tiny tisseraei placed to give light or shadow, a slight change in colour. The artist must have endless boxes filled with mini pieces, each one holding the perfect shade for him to 'paint' the scene. He had a sense of humour too, placing tiny mice in the scene, even a little perfectly formed bejewelled snail gliding along a branch. Breathtaking.

Fish were an important theme in mosaics. Due to the fact, I expect, that most of the cities were on the coast, and fish being very prominent in their diet.
The difference in quality was obvious. Some quite naive and others very skilfully executed. There also seemed to be a 'Tiles R us' business going on too! The boarders of the room tiled quite crudely by perhaps the builders. Leaving spaces for the more delicate pieces produced by artisans. What a novel idea!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Ancient culture

The wanderer returns! My goodness what a fabulous trip. I fell in love with Libya and it's people. So much so, I had to stay another week! I won't bore you with tales of my adventures here, and there were a couple. Nor will Try and explain the history. Suffice to say Roman and Greek history can be explained far better by some one more learned.

As this is an arty blog, I will mostly concentrate on showing a few pictures of mosaics and carvings that I found inspiring and may well use in some future work.

Sadly my camera died half way through the trip and I have no record at all of some of the most interesting pieces.

This post just shows the stunning quality of the ruins and the most amazing positions of these settlements. Wow the Romans knew where to build a city. The surface has hardly been scratched, Libya is an absolute treasure chest. I hope it won't be the last time I visit.

I started in Tripoli and went back and forth along the Mediterranian coast, visiting the sights of Sabratha, Leptis Magna, Cyrene and the magical Apollonia.

As the week closed and I thought about going home, it seemed silly not to stay another week and venture into the desert. Luckily my good friend Abdul was able to sort out the necessary arrangements, and off we went.
Sadly my camera had given up the ghost at this point and I have no record of my very splendid adventure.