Monday 31 October 2011

Latest painting...

I began this painting of 1940's burlesque performer Noel Toy over a year ago! It wasn't my intention for it to take so long to be completed (usually I finish paintings in a matter of weeks sometimes days) but it soon took second and even third place in importance as other work and projects took priority. During the year or so it sat in my studio I worked on it getting a hour here and an afternoon there every now and then.

On one hand it was good to have a painting on the go as it kept me connected to one of my favourite mediums, but on the other hand having my concentration broken so often meant that my bond with the work had to be built up every time I got the chance to work on it. So finally getting this piece finished feels extra satisfying. However I may come back to it and do some last minute tweaks here and there...maybe it'll never really be finished!

Anyway, I hope Noel would approve of her portrait, which I wanted to stand as a tribute to her; not only was she a pioneer of breaking stereotypes, she was a wonderful performer with much grace and vibrancy

I wanted her painting to have a vintage feel with a nod to old film with its jumps and crackles, hence the black and white background and slightly blurred edges. But I also wanted to highlight Noel's uniqueness, the thing that helped to make her so popular, her origin.  

Seen by many as an 'exotic', Noel used her looks to further her successes. I wanted to try and capture how startling and shocking it would have been to see a little oriental lady performing burlesque back in the 1940's, and found Vladimir Tretchikoff as inspiration. His famous 'Green Ladies' encapsulated the eras fascination with the orient with it's 'unusual' beauty and glamour.

Rather than pigeon hole Noel into yet another stereotype I hope this painting shows her for what she was, a canny performer with a fearless sense of fun and femininity.

Friday 14 October 2011

This week I have been mostly...

...sitting in front of a computer trying to make sense of it all!

I do have something to show for it though; I now have a Facebook Page dedicated to my art work and creative adventures, so as well as my checking in here for an in depth look at what is going on in my world, my facebook page will be a good place for up to the minute pictures and links to events.

You can click to 'like' HERE

Other news:

I was recently asked by the very talented and productive writer Nonita, to submit any stories I had about burlesque mishaps, or to put it bluntly stories about 'when burlesque goes wrong!' She has since put a post together about these mishaps and they make for great reading. If anything they prove that behind the glitter and feather fans there are a whole host of danger zones the burlesque performer must negotiate. Read and enjoy; Burlesque Mishaps, when things don't go according to plan


The beginning of the week saw me handing over my nautical inspired retirment gift to a former Naval seaman. This sailor tattoo themed work celebrated his naval links in a tradtional style and I think he was quite pleased!

Monday 10 October 2011

Embroideries on Etsy

Both my embroideries of Jeanine the Pirate and Scarlett J are now in my Etsy Shop, which you can access HERE, on the little shop front on the side of this blog or on my website

These embroideries look fab on the wall, very kitsch and cool and are 100% original. They would make a great present for anyone with a love of burlesque, rockabilly or tattoo styles and with Christmas just around the corner now is the time to get them while you can!

I can also work to order so if you have an idea in mind for a personalised gift please get in touch for an estimate.

I am currently embroidering these leopard print babies for a friend. The shoes are a nice contrast to the portrait style work I started off experimenting with. Plus they are smaller in size at just 4.5 x 6 inches. I am really enjoying working on them, stay tuned to see how they turn out...

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Last weeks Sketch Crawl

It all began in the morning at Salford Museum and Art Gallery (which is just around the corner from my studio). We were to spend the day with illustrator and author of childrens books, Lynne Chapman who currently has an exhibition of her work on show in the gallery. 

Lynne began by talking us through her work, and I learnt a lot about the thought process that goes into illustration; how to keep it interesting, what you can and can't show, how to get around tricky narrative. It was all really interesting and I especially enjoyed getting the viewpoint from another artistic genre and hearing how we shared similar pros and cons of being freelance artists.

It was a glorious day, hot bright and sunny so the group had lunch outside and immediately got stuck in with sketching. The gallery is located in the University complex so that most of the surroundings are made up of wonderful Victorian buildings and lots of park land, and it is always bustling with students. 

The plan was to spend a hour at three different spots then reconvene at the end of the day. I started out pretty rusty, not having sketched outside for a good while, but once I let myself relax into the moment I started to get much better. One of my favourite things was to try and capture the atmosphere of all the students lolling about in the sun, chatting and reading.


This girl lay for ages before she realised I was drawing her, at which point she upped an left, you can't win them all I guess, but I did like the shape her legs made from this angle.


This building was always busy and I liked the grandness of the entrance which had floods of people pouring in and out at all times.


The best building was the gallery itself and I spent a good hour or so sketching it. Matters weren't helped by the fact an enormous bus parked right in front of it just as I was drawing the entrance! So frustrating, but I managed to draw around it until it left. I tried to capture the movement around the building which was always changing as people and vehicles came and went constantly.

 Detail 1

Detail 2

After grabbing a cup of tea the group met for a viewing of what we'd come up with. Lynne was really enthusiatic about our work and took photos for her blog. It was really good to share our endevours and find out what each other had seen and been inspired by that day.

I'd recommend a sketch crawl to anyone interested in drawing no matter what level they are at. The day was really laid back and fun and I felt I got a lot out of it! I think Lynne runs similar events in her home town of Sheffield so it's worth checking out news on her blog and also other drawing activites at your local gallery.