Friday, December 21, 2012

Nipper the Coon Cat

"Nipper" the Coon cat 8x8 oil on board

This is Nipper, a Coon cat, that was rescued from the wild in 1998 but went missing in 2008, the owner has commissioned me to paint his portrait along with three other of her cats.
Nipper was a big cat and one of the Coon family a breed brought over on ships many years ago from Europe. They are friendly and can be very large compared to other breeds this one has many colours in his coat and beautiful long whiskers. They come in many colours this one I think is special and looks like he has plenty of character.  I really  enjoyed painting him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas celebration in the 40's

Lighting the candles on the tree ( photo from Google)

As we get older we love to reminisce: growing up in my home city Bristol UK Christmas was very different being just after the War we were far from having the goodies the kids are privy to now.

It wasn't quite Charles Dickens Scrooge we did make paper chains to hang from the ceiling, lots of white glue made from flour and water kept us busy for a few hours, usually made a week before Christmas

The Cockerel, unknown by us, was being fattened up for the Celebration dinner.
This year's cake.
Janet Parker lighting the candles on a very ancient tree!
Mum had us sitting at the table as she made our Christmas pudding that was a treat, dried fruit, cherries of course, suet, eggs etc. all went into the mix ready for us to stir and make our wishes in silence, eyes tightly closed. That went into to a big black saucepan for hours of cooking on the stove.
All this was the start of excitement especially when Mum would take us to the local shops for picking out the tree we bought it from the Vegetable Shop, to me it was magical picking out the little fresh pine tree at the time I thought was huge when we brought it home sitting on top of my sisters pram her peaking from in  between the branches. I felt very important.

We had an aspidistra pot to put the tree in and water it, Mum had real candles that were attached to the tree with clips not to be lit till Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated with paper lanterns we had made and they were arranged carefully away from the candles, then we would place it on the Sideboard in all it's glory waiting for THE moment for lighting up. By then the excitement was really building ,the Christmas cake was made and we had a hand in decorating it with cochineal pink icing finishing it up with silver balls you could eat, just set the whole thing off. The coal  fire lit and the shutters at the window closed we would sit by the fire with Mum telling us stories of her Christmases years gone by while we ate a Jaffa orange (our fathers stash) which was our secret!

I can remember Jo my sister and I would get out of our beds on Christmas eve and were quiet as little mice,sitting on the stairs listening to paper being wrapped and thinking Father Christmas was with Mum having a glass of milk and a chat! of course it was Mum and my Grandmother doing the wrapping and no doubt having a glass of good cheer doing it.

I have no idea of the time but eventually we would settle in our beds waiting for THE moment to come.We never did see Father Christmas (he was busy) but waking up very early and tweaking our toes at the end of our beds he managed to leave a stocking each full of special treats an orange and nuts with sweets at the bottom of the stocking and gifts usually crayons paper jigsaw puzzles plasticine in coloured strips to make
pretend cakes, usually ended up stuck to the bed sheets and the dainty box of handkerchiefs with  embroidered flowers on them. best of all for me were the comics Beano and Dandy just the start to the best day of the year With the aroma of a beautiful chicken cooking, we never did find out where the Cockerell went, we were told he was on a holiday ! We were happy just listening to the radio by the fire with our gifts around us looking forward to Aunt Olga's visit for tea and a little sherry with Christmas cake.

Simple good times.

Merry Christmas to you and your family

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vermeer's "The Lace Maker"

Vermeer's "The Lace Maker"
Vermeer's original
Another Challenge from

When I saw this picture as a challenge I dismissed it right away!
The original is approx 8 x 8 and hangs in the Louvre.
Vermeer is famous for using something called a Camera Obscura and made his paintings beautifully clear and detailed.
This one is different not so detailed but still has the feeling almost similar to the idea of being abstract especially on one side of the subject. The more I looked the more it told me to try and work on it. I loved the deep blues and greens of the material and the challenge of the concentration on the young girl as she works on the lace, her fingers working so delicately on her work. The light coloured background is unusual too.
Babs' version oil on board 8x8
Anyway it has certainly kept me in a state of complete concentration with many frustrating breaks away: the angle of he face and hardly much detail eyes cast down and a dark nose and lips cast in shadow,
Phew I have learned a lot on this one patience, and definitely frustration it all goads us on though to do better.

When I saw Babs working on this I thought I'll whip one off" and get back into painting again. Well I did get back into painting, but hardly "whipped" it off!
I paint quite loose and frequently leave the undercoat showing through, not allowed on this one first try looked awful, and funnily enough I couldn't see the faults until I looked at a photo.
John's Version oil on board 8x8
Another mistake was that I did a brown undercoat, it would have been better blue to get the cold light of the original.
Tis done and now back to trees and a lake!