Wednesday 24 December 2008

Have a rocking Rockette Christmas!

I had to post this while I remember!

The other day I saw an interview with two of The Rockettes on GMTV. I was instantly in love! These girls are part of a dance company who perform in Radio City music Hall in Manhattan. What struck me apart from the fact that they are all six foot tall with legs that go on for miles and dress in the cutest red and white festive outfits, is that their Christmas show has been performed for the past 75 years, five shows a day seven days a week during the holiday season!
Which I think goes to show that you can't beat a bit of old fashioned glamour and showmaship!
Hooray for high kicks!!!!

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

As the festive season approaches I am getting more and more excited! That's not to say there haven't been lots of stresses in the run up. Things never run smoothly do they?
Anyway, last week was the private view and last phase of my burlesque art residency in Sunderland. The exhibition went really well. It was housed in The Place and was one of the first art shows to be held in the mutli million pound arts venue!
At the private view I met some of Sunderland's art and burlesque crowd, including the lovely Miss Gretchen Tice a member of the North East based burlesque troup, The Coquette Collective.

The project, although delayed by three months until completion, was really fun and I enjoyed finding out about an area I previoulsy knew nothing about. I was fascinated by Sunniside's merchant and sea faring history. I also enjoyed researching about Victorian culture and how the characters from the project fitted into this. I will be uploading the final images and write ups onto my website in the next few days so keep your eyes out for updates! In the meantime here's a snippet of the work from the exhibition:

The Widow

The character you see here is Margaret Turnbull a widowed school mistress who lived at number 13 Norfolk St in 1861.
Women were not allowed out of the house during the first year of mourning and were obliged to wear all black and a weeping veil. Some would even go so far as to dress the entire household including staff in black. Here we see Margaret outside her address which is now a picture framers
Margaret was 40 years old when the 1861 census was taken and lived with her general servant.
With a high death rate during the Victorian era mourning was a part of everyday life which encouraged a melodramatic obsession with morbidity and went on to influence the gothis movement of later years.

To read more about the project see older posts of this blog or go to my Myspace blog for a blow by blow account as the work progressed

The private view also included a fabulous live V.J set from artist Carl Gregg.
On the day of the photoshoot we all acted and reacted with eachother in character. All this was filmed on several video cameras. We performed and hammed it up in Sunniside gardens while the public gathered around filming us all on there mobile phones. I'm pretty certain we entertained a few local buliders too as they watched from their scaffolding! All the footage was then taken and edited by Carl who projected and overlayed the images to music on the walls of the gallery.
The final product was fantastic and I was pleasantly surprised as I felt a right idiot acting cheesy and pouting while the camera was rolling, but the finished thing looked so effective! I only wish Carl would release some of his amazing work onto the internet to show you!

Now I'm winding down for Christmas and I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! I intend to indulge my chocolate habit to the MAX!
Until next week, Merry Christmas! xxx

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Private View tomorrow!

I'm off to Sunderland again tomorrow for the private view of the exhibition in Sunniside marking the end of my burlesque art residency. Here's a little bit about the show!

Gemma along with others have created overblown burlesque characters taking inspiration from the 1861 census to bring some of Sunnisde's rich history back to life

Directed by Gemma and working with Art-wave, local artists and Sunderland University students the project 'What do you think you're looking at... The Sunniside of burlesque' is a collaborative work designed to highlight one of Sunderland's most overlooked areas currently undergoing a major redevelopment including the building of multi million pound art venue The Place.

A saucy dressmaker with a dark secret (that's me!), a radical freethinking minister, a French shipbroker, and a gothic widow in all her mournful glory all star in this provocatice and unique exhibition along with a selection of Gemma's burlesque paintings.

Tomorrow is the exhibiton's last day so if you're in the area please get down to see it before it ends! We will be having a live V.J set about the work and I will be in my character's costume, here's a sneaky peek of what to expect;

Photograph by Photogracky

Private view is 7-9pm and people are encouraged to dress the part when they come along, burlesque, vintage, glamour, Victoriana you name it! Really hope to see you there!

On other subjects; my current painting is coming along well, but slower than usual as I haven't had much time to spend on it. I've also had a bit of a to-do with the lack of natural light at this time of year, but on the whole the work is almost finished and should be completed in my next session at the studio

I just need to finish painting the purple ribbon and fill in her hair. I'm also working on the right upper arm and elbow which is being a bit of a pain as the fixative I used for the gold leaf bled through the taped off area and wont take paint well. In fact every time I add paint it actually take off the paint I already applied. Has anyone got any suggestions? This is my first outing with gold leaf on a painting and I'm learning how to deal with it as I go.

Also in my last posting I told of the sad passing of Pin-up Queen Bettie Page. I thought it was only fitting to mention again the woman who inspired generations. This fabulous interview is titled 'Her life in her OWN words' enjoy;

Friday 12 December 2008

Bettie Page passes away

I've just found out that fifities pin-up and fetish model Bettie Page passed away last night at the age of 85. This is truely the passing of a great 20th Century icon.

I can't explain how inspirational she has become to people around the world, not only for her style but for her sexy poses that caused an outcry back in the day. Although I knew she was getting on in years I'm stil shocked that this legend has actually gone and I know for a fact we will never she such a unique personality in popular culture again.

I love Bettie because she celebrated her femininity unashamedly. As she put it:

"God approves of nudity. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were naked as jaybirds."

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Burlesque bump 'n' grind!

Well, it's been a while again! But I have lots to fill you in with! Firstly, I am planning on updating this blog on a weekly basis every Tuesday, with extra postings as and when I have extra to say.

My burlesque art residency in Sunderland is coming to an end next week. The final exhibition of burlesque characters from Sunniside's past and paintings by myself will be on show at The Place from tomorrow! The private view will be happening on the last day next week on 17th December.

I'll be posting a reminder, but I really think if you're in the area and you have an interest in either history or burlesque to get yourself there and see this interesting work, which I directed as part of my residency. You can find out more about the project by reading my accounts as it progressed on my myspace blog numbered 1-9

On other news:

Last Saturday saw myself and Rene le Rouge performing at The Silk Stocking in Birmingham. We had an absolute blast and the night went extremely well. We performed two acts: The Lonely Goatherd and our new act, Never Outfox the Fox. We got recordings of both but unfortunately are having trouble getting Outfox onto the computer. Luckily though our great friend Tony Fever (husband of burlesque star Scarlet Fever!) has managed to upload his video of The Lonely Goatherd onto Youtube!

We also got some fabulous photos courtesy of InaGlo photography. A big thanks to her!

She also captured some great images of Never Outfox the Fox!

When we're performing as The Chantilly Belles we've found that Birmingham has some of the best burlesque audiences, and Saturday was no execption! The crowd were such fun and all the other acts on that night were lovely to work with and share a dressing room with. It was really organised night, and that means a lot when you're busy behind the scenes stressing about glitter and straight stocking seams so thanks to Angel and Gehenna for making it run so smooth.

Islington Mill, is where my studio is based and now has a shiney new temporary shop! 'FROM SPACE' is selling goods produced by it's residents, including, fashion, accessories, jewellery, photograpy and art work. I am selling some small pieces from my Bon Bon's series. These are the last few paintings left from this popular series and sell quickly, so take a look and catch them while you can!

Peppermint Pattie, acrylic on canvas 2008

'FROM SPACE' is located at 142 Chapel Street Salford M3 6AF

Wednesday 26 November 2008

New Chantilly Belles cartoon

As The Chantilly Belles are performing our new act this weekend I thought I'd do a new cartoon for us. Our new act is called, 'Never Outfox the Fox' and involves a naughty thieving fox and a blustering egotistical hunter.
I began by drawing out a rough sketch of how I'd like the new cartoon to look based on some of our moves from the act.

I then drew out each character seperately and outlined them in ink.

However since drawing this out I've changed my fox's costume a bit and now have a black undone bow tie instead of what was going to be a red cravat. I had to unpick all the sparkles I'd carefully stitched onto the cravat and re-sew them onto the bow tie. The costume now looks more like this;

I then scanned both pictures into Photoshop and layered them together to form the desired cartoon.

It was then just a case of filling the line drawings with colour and choosing a background as you can see above!
If anyone is going to The Silk Stocking in Birmingham this Saturday they'll get to see this fun new act in the flesh Hope you can make it!

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Driving driving driving to Sunderland

There's been a bit of a lapse in my posts for a week and a half, basically because I've been here there and everywhere!
Firstly, I've been rehearsing for The Chantilly Belles next gig in Birmingham this coming Saturday.

Myself and Rene Le Rouge have been tweaking our new act as this will only be it's second outing in front of an audience!
I've also been altering my costume, and been sewing (not easy for me) tiny sparkles and new buckles where needed. We're rehearsing again tomorrow morning and I'm looking forward to it, as I always do. There's a lot to be said for prancning about and falling over in fits of laughter.

Today I'm off to Sunderland to deliver some of my paintings for the final exhibition of my art residency. To find out more about this check out my Myspace blog where I've written a detailed account of how the project has progressed.
To update you briefly; I have been directing an art project in the Sunniside area of Sunderland which is undergoing a regeneration. The project is designed to draw the public's attention to the area. I used burlesque as our main tool of communication and working with Art-Wave and local artists and University students we have created burlesque characters based on Sunniside's 1861 census, then posed as the characters in their ogininal abodes. It's been really fun and stressful! I'll be happy to see what everything looks like in the private view along with a selection of my paintings. More info to follow!

Saturday 15 November 2008

Christina's new look?

It's one of my guilty pleasures to watch the ever changing faces and re-invention of female pop stars. So does anyone else think Christina Aguilera's new look is a bit of a let down?

After seeing her cheesecake it up as a Fifties sailor, an Andrew's Sisters style trio and an army pin-up for Candyman, I was looking forward to finding out what her new look would be for her new single.
So I was disappointed to see her in a Sixties go go dress with all the trimmings in her video 'Keeps Getting Better'.

It's not that she doesn't look good, it just seems a bit lazy and predictable plundering from one decade to the next especially when she claimed to have planned every move of her career for the next ten years! I can't help wondering if her next grand plan will involve a Seventies style Foxy Brown outfit with big gold earrings and hot pants.
I find this kind of packaging of female beauty fascinating and Christina is one of the best at giving us a show for our money, I just felt a bit short changed this time.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

New painting update

The new painting for the series 'My baby's Got a Secret' is coming along well but I have to admit to being thrown on more than one occasion by the amount of different muscles and bones that are in the human back!

Day 2

Day 3

Since starting this picture I have looked up sections about the back from Gray's Anatomy to try and make some sense of it. I reckon I need to get some more life drawing done as nothing beats studying the real thing. I still have to work on the right arm the lower back and smooth out some of the over defined areas. This is where I'm now up to, I'm quite pleased with it and plan to get it finished for a small show to be held at Islington Mill in Feburary next year

Day 7

The show is to be a showcase of 2D artists housed at the Mill and should be good fun, so far there are photographers, painters, and projection artists involved. I'll keep you posted as more info becomes available.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Dr Sketchy's last week

I got two nice suprises when I opened my inbox today. I got sent this link from BBC Stoke and Staffordshire about the Scarlet Fever portrait I did being unveiled at Stoke on Trent Burlesque last month.

I also got an email about the Dr Sketchy event held last week. It's a long story but it began with The Lowry holding a Nu-Burlesque weekend last week. I was asked if I would show some work and jumped at the oppertunity. I exhibited a selection of my paintings in The Quays bar and foyer. If that wasn't enough I also got asked if I could model for an impromptu Dr Sketchy being held in the same venue for the same event!

So me and Rene Le Rouge my burlesque partner from our double act The Chantilly Belles spent that Sunday afternoon posing and I got some of the photos today! Thanks to Adam from Air Photography, you can see more of his work at his website

The zombie pose!

A winner for the adjective and verb pose competition

Having a break and joining in

Rene is a cute little goat

This was an especially fun afternoon as it combined two of my favourite things; performance and art. it was really interesting to see what people had come up with after standing there watching them draw us. I'd definately do it again!

Monday 10 November 2008

Behind the scenes of a burlesque and pin-up artist

I decided a while ago how good it would be to show the process and workings behind my paintings and other art work, and have finally set up this new blog!
My aim is that this piece of web space will act almost like a sketchbook showing where my ideas have come from, what has inspired me, where I've visited and what I've been doing as an artist who specialises in burlesque and pin up.

So without furthur ado, let me show you my most recent project:

I've wanted to experiment with a gold leaf effect for a long time now and my newest painting has allowed me to use it as a sumptuous backdrop to a new sultry image.

I recently did a photoshoot for a commission with a friend of mine who often models for me. The client wanted a rather abstract painting of a section of naked back. But during the shoot I saw the potential of looking further into the idea of a provocative image exploring the dynamics of hiding and revealing.
My ongoing series, My Baby's Got a Secret seemed like a great platform for this idea as each painting gives a glimpse at a hidden story which challenges the viewer to make their own judgement as to what is going on .
A woman's naked back can be one of the sexiest views of her body, for although she is naked she reveals nothing but promises much. I wanted to add a further hint of hidden agenda by having my model wear a ribbon tied around her neck.

I began by outlining the image on to a small canvas, small because I want this painting to be very intimate and sexy rather than overwhelming.

Then after masking around the image I began to add 'Size' a special adhesive for leaf metal. I used a brand called Easy Metal which can be bought in most art and craft suppliers. I find Fred Aldous to be really good for supplying things like this..

I heard that size used to be called 'rabbit size' as it was made from rabbits, but as far as I know this is no longer the case, at least I hope not.
The size takes 15 minutes to get tacky and is then ready for the leaf metal to be placed over. Again I used leaf from the Easy Metal range.

It's harder than it seems. I found the best trick was to let the leaf float onto the surface and then pat it into place with a padded up towel. I always overlaped each piece so that there will be no gaps and little evidence of joins.

It takes about two hours to set properly then using a soft brush I pressed the leaf into the canvas with circular motions. the excess leaf breaks away and I was left with gold in all the right places. The only problem was I got tiny pieces of gold confettii alll over my studio.
I then sealed the leaf with shellac, again from the same range. I was a bit unnerved as the shellac goes very blotchy before it dries and turns the gold into a murky mustard colour.

Thankfully after a while the whole surface settles and I was left with a uniform lushious gold. I then began to block in the colour and the painting was on it's way!