Wednesday 29 July 2009

All At Sea

Here's a pictoral update of one of my nautical paintings; All At Sea. I have been really inspired by classic tattoo artists but my main influence has been from photographers such as Madame Yevonde who's work made me think more theatrically and the artists Pierre and Giles who have helped direct my work in a decidedly French and melancholy direction.

Firstly I found that using a tracing of my image really helped with sizing and composition and placement, very much like tattoo artists when designing a piece of tattoo art. It also allowed me to make multiples of the same image.

I found that rather than outlining in ink lastly it really helped to draw the lines in first and then work the colour in. Here you can see the maleble nature of water colour paint. The dense pink on the girl's cheek was applied to a wet field and then spread out and difused.

Yet here the paint has been applied thickly in red to give a more matt look.

Here is the painting almost finished and still very wet. I plan to frame this in an oval frame and customise the frame with nautical paraphanalia. I'm working on several pieces at different stages and will keep you informed on how I'm getting on.

Other News:

I am now Tart of the Month on The Tart Gallery website! You can see examples of my work and I am thrilled to be listed amongst other artists such as the fabulous Angelique Houtkamp who I have covered earlier this year and the retro cool Mitch O Connell:

New Website:

I am also happy to share with you a new website by a great film maker, Hilary Easter Jones. Hilary was the director and producer of the wonderful film of The Chantilly Belles made for The Lowry's Express Yourself dance exhibition which you can watch HERE.
Wynter Productions make educational films for exhibitions and gallery spaces as well as providing bespoke films for artists wishing to promote themselves!

Reading list:

Last week I was listed as a great read by Erin of Follow the Tide blog. So this week I thought I'd list my top reads as follows:

The Candy Pitch is a great blog with regular profiles of internationl burlesque performers called The Candy Gram. It also posts burlesque news and videos. It's author Kelly DiNardo even did piece about me and my art work and burlesque performing!

Diary of a Vintage Girl is an informative blog about the everyday exploits of pin up model and 1940's lover Fleur de Guerre. She has some great vintage clothing finds and is happy to share her info.

LOVE KYLIE is as you'd expect a blog all about the legend that is Kylie Minogue. It's slick and up to date and full of great pics of the pocket rocket!

Blonde and Red is a lovely blog from Rosanna and is all about her loves; Marilyn Monroe and 50's pin ups included.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

InaGlo Photography

Due to a last mintue change of plan today I will have to post my full blog tomorrow. In the meantime please check out these fab photos of The Chantilly Belles performning our new act Chantillystein by InaGlo from Saturday's Dr Sketchy's in Birmingham. For more great photos by InaGlo go to her Flickr page:

Look out Doctor!

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Dr Sketchy's Birmingham this Saturday!

I can't believe I forgot to mention that this weekend The Chantilly Belles are performing at Dr Sketchy's in Birmingham . It's an X Files themed event and all the acts are of the spooky and paranormal variety. We will be performing our new act 'Chantillystein' as seen at the Comedy 4 Chrisites event at the beginning of this month. We are really looking forward to it and hope to see all you artists and burlesque lovers there!

Dr Sketchy's Birmingham
The Victoria Pub
Tickets £8 can be bought from

Tuesday 21 July 2009

A bit of a mish mash...

I am SOOO excited about tonight's premiere of 'Desperate Romantics' on BBC2! I seriously can't wait! I have been a HUGE Pre-Raphaelite fan ever since I was little and have always wanted to see some kind of drama about these sexy dreamy artists from the Victorian era! The programme is being dubbed as sex drugs and paints, and focuses on the three main members of the PRB group all of who had pretty unconventional love lives including prostitutes, other men's wives and one very outrageous exhumation of a beloved wife! I love their work and my favourite artist from the movement is Dante Gabriel Rossetti! I love him! ( BTW he's the dark swarthy one second from the left above ).

Beata Beatrix by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

It has often been my thought that the models seen in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites were the pin up girls of their day. They were sexy and provocative, a little bit on the naughty side and a million miles away from the stuffy conventions of the time. They were in essence the dream girls of the nubile minded Victorian man. I can imagine them gracing the garage walls of many a carriage repair crew.

I so hope this drama does my guys justice and doesn't play around with the facts too much. I'll find out tonight!
Desperate Romantics 9pm BBC 2

Nautical update:
I am very excited about the new purchases I made from ebay last week! I have decided to customise my own frames for my new nautical watercolour paintings and want to include little bits of the paintings narrative into the frame. I found some gorgeous little wooden ships wheel buttons and some miniture gold anchors.

I'm now on the look out for old frames of the correct dimensions to customise with pearls and shells. I am also hoping to use my new skill of applying metal leaf to give some of the frames gold and silver details! You can see my first attempt at this material on my painting Parfait Amour:

I'm hoping to get some new images of what I've been working on up next week!

Tart anyone?...

You can now see some of my other work in a brand new online exhibition at The Tart Gallery on Second Life! The collaborative show of international artists is called 'Burlesque' and had it's official opening last night. One of my pieces 'After Eight' sold seven times! It's well worth the visit to see beautiful work by some very talanted artists! But remember you must be a member to walk around:

Good read!

I'm also really happy to share I was listed as a great read by fellow blogger Erin of Follow the Tide!

Thanks very much Erin! In the same spirit of things I highly recommend her blog which features great images and thoughtful musings by an inquisitive 1940's loving nautical mind!

Stay tuned for my top blogs! I'm fast running out of typing time... until next time ***

Tuesday 14 July 2009

The Electric Michelangelo

Last week I picked up a fantastic book by chance from my local library. It was the cover that pulled me to it, so I guess that old saying 'never judge a book by it's cover' was wrong in this case.

The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall is a story about tattooing. But focuses on the turn of the 1900's making it's way through the 20's 30's and 40's all to finish in the 1970's. Just think how much tattooing has changed over all that time.

The story focuses on Cyril Parks, an unassuming lad who grows up in Morecambe amongst the seaside atmosphere of music halls fish and chips and the Northern working class taking their treasured holidays on the coast. He lives in a sea front guest house run by his no nonsense mother who frequently takes in consumptives so that they can enjoy the sea air.

As he grows older we meet his friends, join them on their mucky adventures and learn about the town's tattooist, the notorious Elliot Riley; a man with a reputation as a drunk with a bad mouth.
Cyril eventually becomes his apprentice and learns the art of tattooing the painful way. No sentiment is spared by Riley who is made up of equal parts of good and bad and treats Cy (as he is known) to all the dark recesses of his bitter life. Riley's one redeeming feature is his art. He is the best tattoo artist in the whole of North England and people come to him because he is a legend and it is this gift he passes on to Cy.

After both his mother and Riley pass away Cy emmigrates to New York, setting up shop as The Electric Michelangelo on Coney Island boardwalk, the macabre end of town complete with circus freak shows and fun fairs. It is here he meets and falls in love with Grace, an eastern European immigrant working as a bare back rider. She commissions him to tattoo her entire body with eyes.

This book was so atmospheric and brought up many issues for thought. Not only did I enjoy learning about the history of the art itself, which the author obviously had researched thoroughly, I was mesmerised by the idea that a female would want to alter her body so drastically and step away from the normal ideals of polite society! I read with eager morbid fascination as her body was slowly covered from ankle to neck in thick oultined eyes. Again the whole idea of a female body staring back at the viewer was an interesting concept and one that was quite shocking but admirable in its reasoning. Grace, feeling that by altering her body in this way, she is in command of how it is seen, forever challenging the male gaze.

The story has many twists and turns and ends very well but leaves you deep in thought for a long time afterwards. The fact that the book blends so perfeclty with my own research and studies of classic sailor tattoos and pin up girls was brilliant. There was whole pages dedicated to a mermaid tattoo who seemed to have a siren call to the men that chose her. The author goes into deep analysis of just why tattooing is so necessesary to create landmark occassions in peoples lives. She also goes into discussion of why tattoo shops thrive by the sea, combining myth and art into contemporary folklore. I totally loved this book and have added all the ideas and images it has given me to my growing list of inspirations to my new work.

Other news:

Last week I told you about The Chantilly Belles performance at The Lowry in aid of Comedy 4 Christies. I recieved some photos from the night's official photographer in my inbox yesterday so thought I'd share them with you. There are more to come too!

The Doctor doesn't quite know what to make of her creation

The Monster just can't help herself!

Bandages off!


Tuesday 7 July 2009


Mrs Edward Mayer as Medusa

I'm loving working on my new water colour paintings inspired by sailor tattoos, pin-ups and nautical sayings. This week I was lucky enough to find out about a fabulous photographer called Madame Yevonde who was a pioneer of colour photography from the 1930's!

Her beautiful images fit perfectly with my current inspirations of dreamy, melancholy and melodramatic images and emotions evoked by the likes of French artists like Air and Pierre and Giles (see two posts ago). In fact I can see a lot of similarities between her work and that of the french photographic duo.

Madame Yevonde was a revolutionary, beginning her life as a devoted promoter of the suffragette movement and staying a supporter of women's rights throughout her life. By the age of 21 had set up her own photographic studio. Her photos were very different for their time, using props and costumes and friends as models (usually high society ladies, one even being the Prime minister's wife!) she created a new and exciting way of exploring women's social and sexual roles.

I particularly like her 'Goddesses' series from 1935, where the sitters are transformed by simple props and symbols into mythical women who's iconography has stayed strong throughout the ages.

The Hon Mrs Byran Guiness as Venus

Her images have the same otherworldly quality I am enjoying creating in my own work which I am infusing with a vintage and magical atmosphere.

'On the Rocks' finished but unframed

'All at Sea' in progress

What's more Yevonde did a study of nautical tattoos! I was so excited to find this out! She was interested in the symbolism behind both male and female tattoos and the strong sexual impulse they could both imply. She photographed the tattoos combined with knots, representing links and binding, and possibly exploring the relationship between the sexes.

Madame Yevonde is obviously a very important artist from the 20th Century and one I think may have been overshadowed by her male counterparts such as Man Ray, such is the irony! However I am now a proud owner of a beautiful exihibition catalogue and postcards of her work, which I am very happy about!