Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Sticky Fingers

To my horror, the mock wedding cake, which I had specially commissioned for my next painting, had gone sticky.
Although the cake is made of polystyrene, it is covered with royal icing, which I was told was especially hard.
 Just before Christmas I peeped into the boxes to check that all was well and discovered that some of the decoration had started to peel off the cake in an alarming way.
I rushed around to seek advice from Yvonne, but unfortunately she wasn't there. Both her daughter (who said she didn't know anything about cakes) and I agreed, that maybe the sun had got into the studio and melted the icing. So I moved it all into the garage, which is even colder and gets no sun at all.
It turned out that this strategy was completely wrong and when I finally spoke to Yvonne she advised me to move the cake into the house, where it would be warmer and allow the moisture to dry out. After a night in the garage the cake had got worse and one of the bride's head's had fallen off!
As I need the cake to work from for my new painting, 'Bicycle Thieves'  I must keep it in an even temperature, now.
 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Seeing Double

I think the Ely News may have got a bit bored with advertising Ted Coney's Family Portraits recently as they didn't take up my latest offer of featuring a story. So I was amused to see that there was not one but TWO pictures of me on the front of the newspaper, last week.
I was actually disguised as Father Christmas doing my usual sleigh trip around Ely, but for obvious reasons couldn't use the photos for publicising my pop-up gallery. Pity.
It really is quite a gruelling experience playing Father Christmas, even though you are sat down. Apart from the arm aching from three hours of waiving (new respect for the Queen), your face becomes very tickly from the curly beard and wig.
Towards the end, when my beard had risen up and the wig and hat had slumped down, I could hardly see, anymore. At one point I realised I was waiving to two wheelie bins.
Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Don't Tell The Dean

The Dean of Ely  turned down the offer of displaying my painting, 'Another Year' as a way of advertising the sale of prints of the same image, with  profits going to the Cathedral.
I thought the prints would sell because the image is of dawn and dusk falling on the Cathedral in a continuous, circular flow. You can see the painting on the PRINTS FOR SALE page on my website.
About a year later I took 100 postcards of the same image to the Cathedral shop and they sold them all and asked for more.
Now they have agreed to sell the prints - but don't tell the Dean.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Goodbye To All That

I closed Ted Coney's Family Portraits for the winter, last Sunday and reopen again in April 2016. We now need to reorganise the house, ready for the family coming at Christmas.
I had some nice comments from the visitors who came on the last tours, with one couple trying to pay me £6 each to come in (rather than £3) as they thought it was too cheap. I had to explain that I had a lot of flyers and posters left showing the cheaper price !
Ofcourse, everyone always asks if the painting 'No More Twist' is about voodoo (no it isn't) but I also had some interesting questions concerning the picture, 'Another Year'. This is a painting showing the dawn and dusk falling on Ely Cathedral and you can see it on the PRINTS FOR SALE page of my website. I always explain that there was quite a lot of  preparation for this piece.
As well as taking photographs at different times of day and night, I also made quick sketch paintings on black paper from direct observation.
I even built, with the help of my son  and brother, an excruciatingly difficult model of the Cathedral, so I could light it in different ways, to make studies from.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Remember Me?

Recently, I was invited by my old school - Hills Road Sixth Form College, where I had taught Art for 34 years,  to join their online Alumni website.
As  I have already had former students contact me and visit
Ted Coney's Family Portraits , this seemed a good way of getting in touch.
Soon after I joined, they suggested  I  take part in a Q and A session, to explain what I was doing now. As this was further publicity and  would let people know I was still alive, ofcourse I agreed!
I was asked  for  the inspiration behind the pop -up gallery -  and if the Morris Minor was still going strong, among other questions.
Anyway, you can read the full interview on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page, it's quite near the top.

Friday, 27 November 2015

In The Footsteps Of

Well, I 've finally done it. I've sent off an application form to Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, to apply to have an exhibition there, sometime in the future.
I wrote to a few public galleries after my exhibition in the Babylon Gallery and the Ferens eventually contacted me, to submit a proposal.
Daniel had been helping me for a while, to get together a portfolio for prospective galleries to see, and this seemed a good opportunity to try it out. My portfolio consists of some of my paintings, plus the film made for the Virtual Tour and some photos of the Babylon exhibition.
Why Hull? Well it's about to be put on the map as the 'City of Culture 2017' and I did spend the first 27 years of my life there.
Also, an ancestor of ours, Tom Kirk has three paintings in the Ferens permanent collection.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Brides Of Choice

Max  has just let us know of their wedding plans and we are thrilled for them.
How different from the time up to the second world war, when young women didn't have much choice in the matter, especially if they were pregnant.
I'm currently making drawings of three brides for my next painting 'Bicycle Thieves' to represent my mother and two of her cousins, who all had to get married because they had conceived babies out of wedlock.
They all stayed with their husbands  but I guess my painting begins to ask the question, would they have married, if the convention of the time had not demanded it?
My three brides have been produced in royal icing and I have been drawing and painting them at different sizes and arrangements. Once Ted Coney's Family Portraits is closed for the winter I plan to start the final piece.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Family Portraits 24/7

I was pleased to see that the Ely Standard had published the story about Ted Coney's Family Portraits continuing over the Winter as a virtual tour (which can be accessed from my website 24/7) even though I will be stopping the house tours soon, until April 2016.
My last tour is on 6th December if you want to make a booking.
The accompanying photo with the newspaper story showed me in the studio with my latest painting 'Against The Light' and I am holding  Laurel and Hardy shadow puppets.
That must have perplexed some people!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Can't Take it With You

I was having my annual meeting with a member of the Tax Office recently about my accounts for both Ted Coney's Family Portraits and my education work.
Although the helpful chap behind the desk kept a straight face, he must have been surprised when I said it was disgraceful that so much money was taken away from our hard earned cash in Tax. Surely the Government were meant to encourage us to save for our 'after life care'?
He either thought I was a nutter or had some divine arrangement with the Almighty.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Bake Off, With A Bike

With great trepidation, I carefully wheeled the two parts of the wedding cake home, on my bicycle. I had put the mock wedding cake in the basket and hoped I didn't loose too many flower decorations on the way. (they are made of royal icing)
I was reminded of our own wedding, over forty years previous, when I had to drive the cake some three miles to the reception. When I got there, to my horror, all the icing had been shaken off! I carefully pieced it altogether again and all seemed well until we did the traditional cutting. The bride and guests were surprised when all the icing keeled over, simultaneously.
Anyway, I got my new cake safety back and have begun drawing and making colour experiments of it for my next painting, ' Bicycle Thieves'.
I'm picking up the three brides next week. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Live To See The Day

I've taken two bookings for my outreach lecture for October, recently.
It was only after getting involved with the planning, that I realised they are for October 2016 not 2015!
My talk 'On The Edge' is about some of my family paintings which hover between abstract and figurative  images and I mix live performance with video clips of me talking, from over thirty years ago. The contrast between my two ages is going to be even greater next year.
You can see more details of the talk on my website and bookings can be taken for this year and next. Perhaps it would be pushing it, to look even further into the future.

Friday, 16 October 2015

A Blog Reblogged

Ely I - a magazine about life in Ely, asked  if they could use one of my blogs in the September issue.
I had written a piece about my 1931 Morris Minor breaking down at the annual Aquafest and being rescued by the A.A. The patrolman had signed off his report form with the words 'Worn Out Member' and that became the title of my blog.
In the magazine, the article comes complete with a picture and you can still see it at the top of my NEWS AND REVIEWS page.
It's easier to spot now as Daniel has moved all the Radio, Film and Television material (OK, only one TV appearance, but I'm working on that)  to a new MEDIA page.
 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Trophy Wives

Over the summer we visited Colchester Castle, which was built on the site of a roman city. I made some quick sketches of the  small female  statues of some of the gods they worshipped.
I thought they could be useful for my next painting 'Bicycle Thieves' ,as it involves  female figures on plinths appearing  rather like statues, to represent the three members of the family who aren't married but have partners.
To help me get the shapes right, I bought three bronze sports trophies and have been drawing and painting them at different angles. I've missed out the various sports equipment they appear with, as I wanted a simple figure of a woman on a plinth.
 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Me, Caveman

When I show visitors my very first family painting 'Life Cycle' I always compare my need to make the work, to the caveman's feeling of power over the beasts he wanted to capture, by making drawings of them.
So I was delighted to receive, from my seven year old grandson, a postcard photograph of a cave he had visited on a recent visit to France.
I now use it on every Ted Coney's Family Portraits tour to make my point even clearer.
When I told my grandson of this he seemed pleased and said
 'Why Grandpa, I sent you it because the drawing of old bison reminded me of you.'

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Out Of The Shadows

I've been working a lot on my current painting 'Against The Light' over the summer.
You can see the work in progress on my website on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page.
As you will see, I have been playing a lot with shadows, both translucent, coloured ones and more solid monotone shapes.
There's an old Chinese story about how the soul of a dead person was conjured up as a shadow.
I guess, I'm trying to create the same feeling.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Postcards Galore!

With some trepidation I went back to the Cathedral shop where I had deposited some  postcards, depicting my painting 'Another Year', just over a year ago.
I couldn't see any of them on the stand (had they been stuffed in a drawer somewhere?) but to my surprise, the assistant said they had sold all 100 of them and could they have some more!
 Although it's one of my family paintings, the picture uses an abstracted view of the Cathedral as it's central image.
I am delighted to say they are also interested in taking some of my prints of the same picture.
You can see the painting (and order a print!) on my PRINTS FOR SALE page.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Is It Really You?

At the start of a tour of Ted Coney's Family Portraits I usually show visitors my 1931 Morris Minor, partly as it seems to break the ice but also because the car appears in at least one of the paintings they are about to see.
I  retell the story of how I drove up the aisle of Ely Cathedral in the Morris - only I never felt they quite believed me.
As I had some photos taken of the event  (you can see them on my Facebook page in the photo section), I decided to have one of them enlarged and printed onto canvas, so I could show visitors when they arrived.
Although the photo is very definitely Ely Cathedral, Hazel wondered why I had it printed onto a canvas, making it look a bit like a painting!
Anyway, a family of five who were visiting the other week seemed to enjoy it, particularly the teenage boys.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Don't Mention The Death Word

I've been on the radio again recently, talking about Ted Coney's Family Portraits (ofcourse!). This time it was Cambridge 105. Before I arrived, I had written myself a little note, reminding me not to talk about any of my paintings which had been sparked off by a death in the family. I had done this on the last radio programme ('For You In Loving Memory') but I resolved to sound a bit more cheerful this time as I worried it might put visitors off coming on the tours.
The interview seemed to go fine and as it was being recorded, I was told when the talk was over. However the nice chap who had been interviewing me continued to ask me  about the work, in a relaxed way.
Only then did I produce my bit of paper and made a joke about not revealing paintings which had a gloomier starting point. He then got into a  discussion about those.
When  I went out on air, I had the distinct impression that the  programme featured  the very paintings I had decided to keep quiet about!
You'll find the interview at the top of the Radio section of the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website.  

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Flying High

We have been making a few changes, so that visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits website will see information about my new virtual tour on the HOME page, straight away.
On the virtual tour (just to wet you appetite) I get to fly back in time in my Morris Minor to 1930s Hollywood. You will see me talking about four of my paintings, all on the theme of Simultaneity.
 There is also a new article about it, near the top of the NEWS AND REVIEWS page - in the Hills Road Sixth Form College Staff Newsletter.
 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sweet Surprises

Last week I took a booking from the website for a tour of Ted Coney's Family Portraits from someone whose name I did not recognise. When she and her partner turned up I realised it was one of my lovely Chinese students whom I had taught about four years ago. She had been studying fashion in Paris and bought me a beautiful box of chocolates from Zurich. A very nice surprise.
This week I received a postcard from Grayson Perry (the Turner Prize potter) who was responding to my letter which I had only written a few days ago. He was giving me some advice on how to get another exhibition. It will probably take me another twenty years, but I'm determined. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Royal Archive

Daniel has finally managed to put the video clips of my meetings with the Queen and Prince Philip onto my website. You can view them on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page.
Prince Philip came to visit Hills Road Sixth Form College in 1991 when I was working in the Art Department there and said  'and do you ever throw anything away?' I remember trudging through the snow at 4am in the morning to get there, to meet Security and  their sniffer dogs. They said the art dept. was a security nightmare as there was so much stuff.
I met the Queen in 2003 in the rather grander surroundings of Buckingham Palace. The department had been awarded one of the Queens Anniversary Prizes For Education and it was my job to introduce the students and staff we had chosen to bring. We also met Princess Ann, who when she learnt we were the 'art group', insisted that we should visit the Queens Gallery next door, as soon as we left the Palace. As the admission fees would have come to £100 it was jolly nice of her to get us in for free.
I was too shy to tell her that she was in one of my family paintings entitled 'The Puppets Dream', though. I'd actually  dreamt that the princess had been reviewing the Navy and fallen overboard. Seconds later she appears again, hat intact and still waiving out of the spout of a whale. You can see it when you next visit.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Chosen The Cake

I've ordered the wedding cake. No, I'm not getting married again (at least, I don't think so) but needed a replica of a 1940s cake for my next painting 'Bicycle Thieves'.
Yvonne, from the Hubb Teashop is going to make it  and I went to look at designs, the other day.
It is going to be a modest two tier affair in an old fashioned peppermint green (I think)
with three brides on the top (you can read more about my ideas in a previous  blog from July). Each bride will be holding a different bunch of flowers and the same flowers will decorate the cake.
It won't be ready until September, so I am currently making drawings of the three none brides instead, using the sports trophies I have acquired.
I'll tell you about them, another time.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Shades Of Grey

We needed the house painting anyway and were keen to unite the two parts of it with one colour scheme. The 300 year old building was white painted brick, while the modern part was a natural coloured, weather board structure.
I've always thought the way the house was perceived  very important to visitors who come to Ted Coney's Family Portraits as it's the first thing they see. We agonised over the colour scheme for along time before we decided on two shades of grey. We were influenced by the little wooden houses we saw on our recent trip to New Zealand.
What do you think? (there is a photo of it on my Facebook page - just click on the left on any page of my website) 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Wheels Of Fortune

Last week I drew my old bicycle five times - three drawings of the front wheel and two of the back. This is in preparation for my next painting 'Bicycle Thieves' which looks at six female members of the family and asks the question
 'are they any better off, married?' The first canvas will show the three women who had to get married (around the time of the second world war) because convention demanded it. The other three on a second canvas, are from the 1960s onwards, when women had more choice in the matter.
And the bicycle wheels? I was inspired by the 1940s Italian film, 'Bicycle Thieves' where a whole generation had their lives stolen and the theft of a bicycle was a metaphor for this.
And my images of wheels? Well, they are very difficult to draw, but I am hoping  eventually, the spokes will come to  represent the restrictions on  my female relations -  in both canvases.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

For Sale - Eventually

Although I am working on  my current painting 'Against The Light', I keep returning to  small, preliminary canvases to try out ideas I am not sure about.
For instance, I have been mixing up the colours more, rather than keeping to the 'hot' and 'cold'  sections. I am using these colours to contrast the two sides of my mother's cousins personalities,  only I don't want it to be quite so obvious.
Working on the preliminary canvases allows me to be a bit bolder and not worry if things go wrong.
Last time I had a clear out of the many practise canvases I had accumulated, I sold the lot, so I guess I will try to do the same when this painting is finished.
Let me know if you are interested in acquiring one. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Worn Out Member

I used my 1931 Morris Minor twice last week to advertise
Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
On Friday I stood in the market square beside the car in sweltering conditions for five hours, giving out flyers about my pop-up gallery. I should have know better, because although the car appears in some of my paintings, all it did was to attract men of a certain age, reminiscing about the cars they had owned over the years.
My advertising strategy was more subtle when I took the car to Aquafest.  This time, as well as delivering the Mayor to the opening ceremony, I was also using the Morris to raise money for the Nepal Earthquake Appeal by allowing the public to be photographed with the car, in return for a donation. Another exhausting day as I was there for ten hours.
When I came to leave, the battery was flat and I couldn't get the damn thing started!
Luckily, I have been in the AA for over fifty years and a charming chap arrived and quickly sorted it out. When I asked him if he could follow me home, just in case the car stopped again, he said he would as long as he could take a photograph.
When I looked at his breakdown report later, he had written
'Battery flat and couldn't be started by handle. Member worn out'
I knew exactly what he meant.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Ely's Kettles Yard

Ted Coney's Family Portraits is currently advertised in the Ely Festival booklet. I guess that and all the other publicity I've had recently, prompted a very nice couple to do one of my tours recently. At the end of their visit they wrote in my visitors book
 'Ely's Kettles Yard'. I take that as a great compliment because Kettles Yard in Cambridge was one of the inspirations for my pop-up gallery. I don't think they meant one could see world famous artists there (as if!) but rather, viewing art in a domestic setting, where the objects displayed are almost as important as the pictures.
By the way, you can now enjoy my latest radio interview as Daniel has put it on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website. He has edited out most of the Ladies Gospel Choir. The Three Degrees never turned up anyway.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Back Of An Envelope

I really did write my speech on the back of an old  envelope. The occasion was the opening of the Eastern Region's taster exhibition at the Babylon Gallery. I guess they had asked me to open it because I had also been invited to write the introduction to the Open Studio booklet for the event which runs throughout July.
I hope I judged the mood of my speech correctly, as it was a very hot night and there were about 200 people crammed into a small space.
I made the speech very short (hence the envelope) and attempted to be as amusing as possible.
I told them the old story about the first time I did Open Studio and a lady said at the end of her visit 'I really like your curtains!'. A bit demoralising for any artist.
I also recounted the tale of how I stuffed plastic packaged breadrolls  into the oven in an attempt to clear the kitchen before another visit. We then wondered what the strange smell was having switched the oven on hours later, to have supper.
You can now read my Open Studio booklet introduction and all the recent articles surrounding Ted Coney's Family Portraits on the NEWS ANDS REVIEWS page on my website.  

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Show Off

I really have got a lot of media coverage for Ted Coney's Family Portraits this week, which will hopefully boost visits and publicise my Virtual Tour.
Last week I was on Radio Cambridgeshire and had a three page spread in CAMBRIDGE magazine.
This week I had the same article but with different pictures in a double page spread in both the CAMBRIDGE NEWS and the ELY WEEKLY NEWS.
I've also been promised a piece in SPOTTED IN ELY - an online newspaper, next week.
I must be careful, I might start believing all the nice things that are being said about me and that would be fatal.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Singing In The Choir

I was there to promote my new Virtual Tour but I hadn't expected to share air time with five jolly ladies from a local gospel choir and the Three Degrees.
Radio Cambridgeshire hosts an Arts programme every Monday afternoon and I had been invited to take part to talk about Ted Coney's Family Portraits. Although the choir and I were both in the building we were told to expect two of the Three Degrees (are they famous, the name rings a bell?) to talk by phone.
Thankfully, no Degrees ever materialised as I was beginning to think that with five talkative women who were there to promote a concert for charity, I would never get a word in edgeways.
Interestingly enough, one of the five was also an actress in Downton Abbey, but she seemed very modest about this and her involvement had to be teased out of her by  Jeremy, the interviewer.
Infact, he was very fair to me and did ask me lots of questions, but I politely declined to sing along with the choir (who turned out to be a lovely bunch ).
Hopefully you will be able to hear the programme from the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on the website, soon.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Inside Glossy Covers

Do you remember me telling you about being interviewed  a year ago, for a possible article in Cambridge magazine ? And a photographer coming at Christmas to take pictures of the house and paintings, causing  me to take down all the cards and hide the tree? And me wondering if Ted Coney's Family Portraits was not quite sleek enough for such a glossy paper?
Well I needn't have worried, as the said article is in this months copy. All three pages of it.
Mind you, I did argue that a magazine that specialises in articles about the Arts, small businesses and the home, had in me,  all three in one story.
Pick up your free copy today. For those of you who don't live in Cambridgeshire, we'll put it on the website, soon.
 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Make Art Anywhere!

You can make Art anywhere. That was my parting shot in the introduction I wrote for the Open Studio booklet, which has just been published.
I was asked to write something appropriate, several months ago and had quite forgotten what I had said.
 However, in my piece, I was able to claim  I had first opened my studio 31 years ago which gave me the idea for Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
You can read it in full when you pick up your free copy, informing you of the 270 artist's studios which are open throughout July.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Mid Week Special

I got a call from a lady in Leicestershire the other evening, asking if she could make a booking for her and her friends, as they were visiting Ely Cathedral the next day.
Although I don't normally do tours around the gallery on the days I am teaching, I felt this was  an opportunity to good to miss.
Out came the vacuum cleaner (I had been meaning to do the floor for ages) and at 5am the next morning I was  putting up the signs for my pop-up gallery.
I think the tour went well and when I intimated that it was quite daunting to follow a visit to the Cathedral, one of the women replied that while she had seen many Cathedrals she had never experienced anything like Ted Coney's Family Portraits, before. You can take that, how you like.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Eel Traps and Meeting Houses

While in New Zealand recently, staying with Leo and Paul, we visited several museums, which gave me ideas for a new painting.
I made sketches of eel traps in Rotarua and Wellington as they have a direct connection for me, with the ones which were once so prevalent in Ely
I was also fascinated with the  Meeting Houses we saw in Waitangi and Auckland and  made drawings and took photos of these, also. The very structure of them is sacred to the Maori people because it represents the bones/ribcage of their ancestors.
This got me thinking, how I could represent Leo going to work in a far away country and our worry that if he stayed too long, he might not be able to get back so easily.
The symbolism of the trap is obvious and the beams of the Meeting House could represent New Zealand but how to show the country he might want to get back to?
I am sometimes laid on the sofa (increasingly, it seems!) staring up at the beams in our 300 year old cottage  and marvelling at how each one is so different.
Perhaps this structure could make a connection with the houses many thousands of miles away?
 I'll let the ideas swish around  for a bit longer and see if an image starts to form in my head.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Magnificent Obsessions

The other week, Hazel and I went to see an exhibition at the Barbican entitled 'Magnificent Obsessions'. It featured the collections of objects that artists acquire both for their work and pleasure.
I was particularly interested in seeing the dolls and puppets gathered together by Peter Blake and the Indian Miniature paintings of Howard Hodgkin. There was something particularly bizarre about Andy Warhol's obsession with objects. Almost every day he went shopping for possessions but when he got them home, he hardly looked at them again.
Well, I am not quite so bad as that! I only ever buy objects which I can use in my paintings. Sometimes it will be for a cultural reference, as in my collection of 'Mexican Day of the Dead' objects for the painting 'Offrenda' and other times it will be buying something I once had as a child. For example, a Muffin the Mule puppet which I then used in the painting 'David's Journey'. I have since bought two more versions of Muffin the Mule. Maybe that is the beginning of a 'Magnificent Obsession'?!
You can see these paintings (and the objects when you visit) on the
 PRINTS FOR SALE page of my website. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

It's Here!

My virtual tour has finally arrived. You can view it from my
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits website and if you enjoy it, please write a review on my TripAdvisor or Free View page  (you'll find both to the right, on each page).
It's taken about a year to get it together, but early indications show that people are enjoying it. It's very different from my actual tours and we were very conscious that we needed to make it look as professional as possible, as people expect so much more from visual media, now.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Hitchcock Influence

Last weekend I did a pre-tour tour of Ted Coney's Family Portraits for an old school friend I had last seen fifty six years ago. Robin and his wife were in the area to attend a family wedding and were keen to meet up. As Hazel had only returned from Australia at midnight the previous evening, I suggested that we had afternoon tea together in a cafĂ©.
However, as we had so much to talk about and they seemed keen to hear about my work I invited them back for an early evening drink at the house. Robin and Rose are both artists so I was a little apprehensive as to what they might think of my painting.
I needn't have worried and Robin was particularly interested in my piece,
 'Fools Gold' (you can see the painting on my PRINTS FOR SALE page) as it reminded him of scenes from a Hitchcock film.
The painting is about a cousin of my mother's and I wanted it to have a slightly sinister feel because of the subject matter. The other interest for Robin, was that is displayed an image of a house, not far from where he grew up, in Hull.

Friday, 17 April 2015

A Small Birthday

Just back from New Zealand, where we have been visiting Leo and Paul.
 I spent my birthday evening in Wellington, in a lovely apartment overlooking the harbour. We had earlier walked along the quayside and I do remember Hazel diving into a shop while I sipped my coffee.
Later, they gave me a miniature birthday cake, which Hazel had managed to find.
Now we are back in the UK, I have put it into the dolls house as a reminder of our stay. It is now part of the Ted Coney's Family Portraits collection for others to enjoy.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Return Of A Hero

The Morris is back. It's been away at the garage having the brakes and steering improved. I am so glad it's been returned for the reopening of
Ted Coney's Family Portraits as it is usually one of the stars of the show. It certainly looks very smart with it's new/old Camping Club badge from the 1950s.
The gallery reopens on 26th April by the way, with bookings taken from 18th. I can only take six visitors at a time so maybe you had better get organised! You can book online, by Email or phone.
Which reminds me, I must start getting the rooms ready, as having the Morris back on site, is only the beginning of all the jobs I need to do.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bicycle Thieves

I like to keep thinking about the subject of my next painting, while working on the current one.
Although I had already had thought of a title - 'War Babes', the story has now moved on, and I'm thinking of changing it.
Originally, I was going to depict three female victims of the second world war, my mother and her two cousins who were all pregnant and had to get married because of the conventions at the time.
I wanted to contrast them with three newer, female family members who aren't married and see no reason to be, but have children, to show how things have changed.
I then saw a film entitled 'Bicycle Thieves', set in Italy in 1948, which gave my idea a further twist. As well as telling the story of an actual bicycle theft and its aftermath, the film is also trying to get across how a whole nation's lives have been stolen, by the events of the war.
I feel my six relatives, by not being married but having children, may, in their different ways have had their lives stolen, too. Much more so than their male partners.
And the theft of a bicycle in my painting? Well, my 1940 bicycle has been stolen, but luckily I got it back.  

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Long View

I've tentatively started working on my new canvas for the current painting
 'Against The Light'. It's a long, thin painting, displayed horizontally. I started by dividing it up into different sections, so the two sides of my relative's natures can be shown.
I've stained parts of the canvas with a warm, reddish brown colour to show the jollier side of their personalities and the other, a colder blue, to represent their darker side.
Although I will be tracing some of the design onto the canvas, I also want to try and capture some of the softer, more translucent shadows by working directly from the real thing, to give it a feeling of spontaneity.
You'll be able to see the results of how I am progressing ( I'll keep photographing it at regular intervals ) in a few weeks time on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wire and Lollipop Sticks

I am experimenting with how to paint parts of my new work 'Against The Light '.
I've already discussed ways of painting the shadows of Laurel and Hardy using soft brushes and shapers (wedges of rubber to replace the bristles) in an earlier blog.
For the  shadow puppets (the real puppets, not the shadows) I wanted something harder and more clearly defined. On a recent visit to Brussels we saw an interesting exhibition of  alter paintings from Siena and I marvelled at the way the gold leaf patterns had been pieced through.
As the Javanese puppets also have intricate 'punched out' patterns I needed to think of a way I could do it in the painting.
I have painted the puppets in two layers. I left the first one, more heavily patterned, to dry. For the second coat, in a contrasting colour, I worked into while still wet. I scratched through with an old bit of wire (for harsher shapes) and a lollipop stick (for softer, less defined shapes) to reveal the  patterns underneath.
Yes, I can use less expensive tools when it suits the project. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

PayPal, Please

The virtual tour is nearly ready! Daniel is getting to grips with how visitors will pay and installing a new page on my website to make it all work.
He is using Paypal as the system to channel the money from the public to me, to obtain the twelve minute tour online, for up to two hours viewing. Lets hope it is simple and hassle free to use.
As it only costs 99p to watch, I hope you will be taking advantage of this fabulous offer. Sounds very cheap to me, but then I am biased.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Henrietta and Mr.Turnip

Apologies. Last week I led you to believe that you could see my painting 'Encore!' on the PRINTS FOR SALE page in my website. Well I was wrong, it isn't there!
You can see it though, (it's a cross shaped picture) in the collection of photographs taken at my retrospective exhibition at the Babylon Gallery last March. They appear on
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits Facebook page.
Talking of exhibitions, I have just pitched another idea for a selling show at the Babylon entitled 'Henrietta and Mr Turnip'. This would centre around a series of observational drawings and paintings in preparation for two paintings I made about thirty years ago.
'Henrietta'  (the name for my 1931 Morris Minor) was used for a painting to mark her 50th birthday, entitled 'Golden Jubilee Ride' and involved a series of studies made in Constable Country.
'Mr Turnip' was a TV puppet from 1950s and I used him to represent my childhood in a painting called 'Diamonds'. I made the series of observational studies in the house where my family had lived for sixty years.
You can see all these studies on the PRINTS FOR SALE page. Honest ! 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Thunderbirds Are Go!

I've just been working on our Thunderbirds film with my grandson, Barnaby. We do a bit more every time I see him.
Last weekend we used the string puppets I bought about twenty years ago to make a similar film with sons Leo and Max.
I also used the puppets - Virgil, Lady Penelope, Brains and Parker as models in a painting I was doing at the time.
'Encore!' is the name of the picture I made after my father  died and I wanted to commemorate him in some way. The painting shows a father saying goodbye to his three sons, only we have all become marionettes in a puppet theatre. This was partly because my father was an enthusiastic supporter of our annual puppet show.  I also had been representing family members in my paintings with various TV puppets but this time we actually became the puppets, yet kept our human form.
You can see the painting on the link to the PRINTS FOR SALE page on my website.
You'll have to wait a bit longer though, to see the Thunderbirds film.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

No Smoke Without Fire

Oh dear! I nearly burnt my studio down the other week.
I had recently seen some beautiful smoke drawings in a gallery, where the artist had drawn with a candle onto paper.
They gave me the idea that I might 'smoke' my canvases to give the appearance of translucent shadows for my current painting 'Against The Light '.
I decided to test out the idea on a piece of paper held horizontally above a candle. Although I was careful to hold the two things well apart, I failed to get any smoke and instead a large burn hole appeared in my sketchbook. It quickly turned into a flame which I was able to stamp out.
I am now experimenting with more conventional methods using transparent oil paint and brushes to make the shadows. However, I am also using shapers which are like brushes but have rubber ends and these are beginning to give me the effects I want.
And a lot safer. 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Oh Brother!

The other day we heard that someone was trying to contact Hazel and her family, as they thought they might be related.
It seems that this chap thought Hazel and her sister might share the same father, who  might have had a fling while being married to Hazel's mother.
We had visions of misty eyed reunions in the park between Hazel and her new half brother while violins played in the background.
However, we were all brought down to earth when birth and marriage certificates were carefully examined and it was soon realised that the wrong family had been contacted.
I was very disappointed as I could feel a new painting idea beginning to take shape before my eyes. I do have three ideas for family paintings on the go at the moment though, so that's probably enough.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Chasing Shadows

I've begun making preliminary studies for my new painting ' Against The Light '. I set up the black silhouette shadow puppets of Laurel and Hardy behind a screen and started making drawings of them using soft pencil. By having the puppets at different distances from the screen and moving the light around, I found I could get interesting shadows, making the images partly in focus and partly more faded.
This works well for my idea, I think, because I want to evoke  atmosphere into the studies and  give the impression that they symbolise  humanity rather than just represent real people. Having said that, the idea for the painting came from two brothers in my family, who were seen very differently by their mother and father.
I have now started some little sketch paintings  from the shadows as well and am beginning to introduce colour into  the darkened forms. This is so I can link them visually to the other images in the painting, which will be seen on the other side of the shadow screen.
More of that later.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

In The Frame

I recently took my painting 'The Rashomon Effect' to Jonathan, to be framed. With his unerring eye for colour and tone, he picked a dark  brownish red colour for the frame, picking out one of the shades he saw in the picture. I back his judgement, because he is usually right. Hopefully, it will be ready for when I reopen the gallery for the new season in late April. (the painting has now moved to the CONTACT US page on my website)
I have just been asked by Radio FM to take part in a programme on retirement! They want to interview me about setting up Ted Coney's Family Portraits so I intend to get a plug in about my new virtual tour (should be up and running in the next two weeks) if I can.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Ironic Badge

While Ted Coney's Family Portraits is shut for the winter, I usually take the Morris to be serviced and have any jobs done. As the car is a star attraction in the gallery I need to make sure it is back home by April at the latest so it can be displayed along side some of the paintings I have used it in.
I duly took the car to Ian's garage last week, with the instruction to attach a new badge I had been given, onto the badge bar. It seems my parents-in-law, who were keen campers, had the Camping Club badge on their car from the 1950s.It was discovered after they had died and has recently been given to me.
It does seem rather ironic that I should have it as I hate camping! However, it will fit very nicely on the car, so I have no qualms.
Unfortunately, I need other things doing to the Morris as well. apparently the steering and brakes are not good as it once were (although I had not noticed the difference), so will need urgent attention. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Liquid Gold

There is something rather beautiful about pure linseed oil. I've got a large bowl of it at the moment, in which I am dipping the different parts of the Laurel and Hardy shadow puppets.
This is to make them translucent, so the images can be seen from behind a shadow screen in colour. Having first cut out the shapes out of thick watercolour paper, I have painted them on both sides with coloured inks.
Having left the paper in Linseed Oil to soak, I am now taking them out to dry, so they can be joined together.
The linseed oil had done it's magic. When you hold the cutouts up to the light, you can see your finger very clearly through the watercolour paper.
When the puppets are complete, I shall begin making drawings from them, for my new painting ' Against the Light '.
 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

New Broom

I didn't exactly do any cleaning, but I did sort out my studio a bit, ready to begin my new project.
I took down all the old source material from the pin boards and easel connected to
 'The Rashomon Effect' and carefully filed them away. (the painting itself will go to be framed in the near future)
I then started to pin up the shadow puppets from Java I shall be using in the painting, and also the black card puppets of Laurel and Hardy, I made during the summer.
I also got ready a small shadow screen to display the puppets on, while I draw and paint from them.
I am now in the process of painting a coloured, translucent version of Laurel and Hardy which I also want to experiment with, as shadows.
Why Laurel and Hardy? Well, I want them to represent my mother's cousins, Billy and Dickie in a painting I plan to do entitled 'Against The Light '.
 Hence the use of shadows.
 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Virtually A Tour

My virtual tour on the theme of ' Simultaneity ' is nearly finished. Although Colin (the filmmaker) is in America now, the film has been going backwards and forwards via Email, while we can agree on it's final form.
Max, who saw an earlier version , felt there was to much of me flying to Hollywood in my Morris Minor, so we've cut this down. The car also changes from full colour to sepia rather than the other way around, to give the impression that it is going back in time.
I felt the beginning should have more a feeling of looking through the keyhole and I think Colin has managed to capture this .
There is just the timing of some of the fades to change, so they are in step with the spoken word, but hopefully the tour will be available from my website by the end of January.
I'll let you know.