Monday, 30 August 2010


Layering gives depth to a painting and some times I end up endlessly layering! This one started with a pen outline, then a wash of colour, similar to the stone work. Then shading and more pen.
Some writing and circles, some drizzled very thin paint along the bottom. I love words......and like to embed some in each piece. They don't have to have any relevance to the work, just something that strikes a cord at that particular moment. That way each piece is special, has meaning for me, a piece of me embeded in my work.
Typed something up on the computer, used a type face I liked, printed it off, rubbed some paint over them, tore around the edges and stuck them on.
At this point the colour was way too strong and I felt it all needed knocking back.....out came the white paint....looking like a snow storm now. Will let it dry then sandpaper some of it away

Friday, 27 August 2010

37 Days

I was recently reading a blog called 37 Days which asks the question ' What would you be doing today if you had 37 days to live?' The reason for this question can be read here .

Which kinda got me thinking......well what would I be doing? What would you be doing?

Initially, I had a very very very long list.....not least, catching the next aeroplane flying south.
I wrote the list, scribbled it out and wrote it again....nope...nothing...nothing different.....I would do nothing, other than what I do on a day to day basis. This is my life. Sure, there are things I
would like to change in my life or do differently, people I want to see or places I want to
visit. But if the time aint right, the time aint right and me dying in 37 days isn't going to change that. And doesn't matter.

What is important is living now, in this moment. It's exciting not know what is round the next corner, in the next day. I take steps, daily, to move things in the direction I want to go. If I want something badly enough I will get there. Sometimes experiences rush at me, at other times it takes longer to reach a goal. You can't rush the process.

Does it really take something like a Dr only giving you weeks to live for you to really live your
life? We are all dying, it's just that some die sooner than others. The day you celebrate a baby's birth, you also acknowledge it's death.*

So every time I sell a painting, some of that money goes to one side, so that very soon I will be on that plane again. Tomorrow is going to be a very creative day...I can feel it.

What would you be doing today?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I am Hero

I have been listening/watching to Kyosen Sensai giving a Big Mind talk today. Which as usual, seemed to be the perfect teaching for the moment I was in. (In order for you to watch you will have to subscribe to Zen Eye, and it's well worth it).

I had been in my studio making a right mess of things, thinking to myself I wish I was a really talented, famous artist who could ask thousands for a painting. That everyone loved my work..etc. Some one had just popped into my studio and had commented on my work. It was obvious she didn't really like it or 'understand' it. She liked 'landscapes and that sort of thing'. I felt myself becoming irritated, 'art is subjective' I found myself muttering. 'Well that one is coming on' she added. I didn't like to say it was finished!
I bought some calligraphy brushes yesterday and had been trying them out on the new work. Only to discover the ink ran when I covered it in white wasn't going to plan at all, world domination flying out of the window at this point......Hmmm....time for a ryvita, cup of tea and watch a dharma talk.
Well, Kyosen Sensai came up with just what was needed. Without going into too much detail it was about how we embody separate but intrinsically essential elements within our make up. The phrases she used were: I am Legend, I am Nobody, I am Hero.

I am Legend, being the self. The one who is always seeking recognition, the one who wants to be somebody, the one who wants to feel important, the one who wants others to adore, the one who has to be the best at what they do, etc etc .....(Oh and by the way if you can't relate to this, it probably means you are denying the existence of Legend and it's coming out in covert 'I hate people who always want to push themselves forward, or be the best'......I can see you, you can't hide!)
Then there is I am Nobody, being the transcendent. The one who just accepts who they are, the one who observes, the one who does not need to be better, or different, or special, or talented, who is not judgemental, or feels the need to leave a mark, or change the world..etc etc

And then if you imagine Legend and Nobody being the bottom corners of a triangle and Hero the point at the top (which by the way is the triangle shape we make when we sit cross legged or in lotus position)

I am Hero, being the apex of the triangle the place where the self and Big mind meet, and in my case it's called Sarah. Hero is the one that has the ambition, who wants to be the best they can be and takes appropriate steps to get there. Hero knows they are special but doesn't need to tell every one they meet. Hero can see that everyone is special and a hero. Hero takes appropriate action when it is needed, without pushing others out of the way, Hero understands the world does not revolve around them, but that at times it may.
And, most importantly, Hero doesn't give a damn if not everyone likes Hero's work. Hero is doing what Hero loves more than breathing, and the next person to walk into the studio will buy a painting!

PS this is not finished!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Manic Monday

or was it Wednesday?.......started and finished the boat picture. I was listening to some music that wasn't exactly chilled, and I found myself frantically applying paint. Layer over layer, rubbing it off, starting again. Sometimes this produces really nice effects and other times I just have to bin it. I happen to like this one, so it's staying!
I find listening to The Prodigy when I'm driving has the same effect...not to be advised!

Making lines on a newly gesso'ed canvas is always daunting. I don't know why I am such a girl about it. Did a rough outline in pencil fist and then got stuck in with the permanent marker. I hope this one is not going to turn purple......suppose I should have tried it first on a scrap of paper.
This view is taken from the sketch I did in Mdina. You can see the sketch in the post below.
Mdina is Malta's old capital, characterised by medieval,as well as baroque architecture. Frankly, although it is beautiful,it all looks a bit 'new'. Too much over restoration if you ask me. The narrow streets with tall houses lend themselves to many picturesque photographs.If you could get one in before the next batch of Spaniards walked in front of your camera, that is.

Tore some tissue paper and news print and randomly stuck the pieces down. Now waiting for it all to dry. Time for a coffee I expect.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Turn your light down low - waiting in vain

Listening to the great Bob Marley while I work and have a funny picture of a friend playing air guitar in my head.(Sorry, you had to be there!)

I did another 'installation' vid of me painting but it went on for way too long for this blog! A good 15 mins. It always amazes me how time flies when I'm in the flow. I love it.

So here is my latest work.
A corner of a street in Marsaxlokk, (photo on the side bar) a very pretty fishing village in Malta. As always the peeling paint and subdued colours are what catch my eye. I'm nervous about overdoing this one. I really want to keep the sketchyness of it. So I am tempted to leave it there. I'll start on something else for the time being and see how it goes in a few days time.

Started with a pencil sketch over the collaged surface.

Then layered some washy paint over the top. A fine black marker helps to pick out some depth. How to ruin an expensive marker: use it over paint. It takes about 2 minutes!

Oh great excitements, I'm having some post cards printed. Hopefully to sell. I'm using a mixture of photos taken in Malta and some of my art work.

Also, found some frames for my sketches.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Experimental times

Working on the small canvas as seen on the blog post below. It's a little experimental and at the moment too much is going on. I'm hoping that the black marker, which has now turned an alarming purple, will die back. A couple of coats of paint and then varnish, should change it's appearance. The reaction of varnish and pen should make it go a kinda greeny colour. Well at least it did on the other works!!

The boy has been gainfully employed putting up the wood around the walls of the studio. To be honest there would have been a great deal less mess and less moaning about not having the right tools for the job, if I had done it myself. But the final result was neat and just what I needed to hang some pictures. I have only just realised how much more tidying up needs doing before the space is fit to welcome visitors......let alone look vaguely like a gallery!

For more information on the Colchester & Tendring Open Studios 2010 click on the link on the side bar. My studio is open the weekends of 25/26th Sept and 1/2nd Oct. I shall keep putting up reminders!

Friday, 13 August 2010

A wet afternoon

What a wet goodness it's like November. I thought East Anglia was supposed to be the driest county in the UK...Hmmm not this week.

I need to prepare some canvases to work on. This takes quite a lot of time as I like to build layers. So to make a start I first gesso the board, whether it's a prepared canvas or just a bit of found wood. The gesso gives a good base for both painting and gluing. Then I layered some torn newspaper, some fab metalic gold tissue, got my big black marker and started to scribble. The marker is not permanent so tends to change colour as I work over it. then mixed up some thin greys and sort of wrote over the whole lot.

These will take a few hours to dry when I will slosh some thinish white emulsion over the top....I think. I like to use house emulsion, sometimes, as it rubs away giving a chalky effect. The effect will be a pale surface but with depth, on which I will do my next Maltese inspired work.

While I had the emulsion out I roughly pianted the boards I will put up around the walls, to make hanging paintings easier. In preparation for the open studios weekends.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

First one

Making a start on the first canvas. A base off tissue paper and newspaper give some depth to the surface. Creating an uneven surface to work on. I like the way it kinda resembles the peeling uneven surface of the masonry paint. As usual dots and scribbley writing feature heavily. They mean nothing, I just like them!
Wabi Sabi! Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.

I must get a move on, I have a lot of work to do before September!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Some scribbles

A couple or three sketches from my sketch book. The two of the bay are done from my balcony and the top one is Valletta. Finding a place to sit out of the searing heat was tricky, not to mention trying to avoid causing an obstruction!

I have torn the edges so that they don't look so neat...just have to find some nice deep frames to put them in now, or even paste them onto white washed wood. I was going to use scraps of tickets and bus maps on these sketches but have decided not to. They are too small. Instead shall save the collage elements for bigger canvases.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Malta - Balconies

I have so much material to use in paintings and collages, I hardly know where to start. My trip to Malta has had a lasting impression on me. Although I found the soaring temperatures quite difficult to sit and paint in, my camera was a triumph, even if I can't do it justice and like a Japanese tourist, was snap happy. Balconies, doors and colourful fishing boats became a bit of an obsession and 300 photos later I need to sort them out into categories.
So here is the first batch. I was struck at lovelyness and romanic nature of these Romeo and Juliet balconies. They came in all shapes and sizes and were pretty higgledy piggledy in their arrangement.
I just love the peeling and faded paint all held together with a tangle of electric cables and phone lines. New builds have obviously been instructed to carry on in the Maltese tradition, though sadly don't have the charm of the earlier models.