Saturday, 20 July 2019

Good News And Bad News

There's good news and bad news.
 The bad news is, I wasn't picked to display my work in the Kettles Yard Open exhibition . I guess I could have predicted the outcome as there were only 22 lucky artists out of 500 applicants. Without  sounding  like sour grapes, I probably  would have been more successful with the archive material rather than my paintings. The labyrinth of  mirrors (David's Journey) and the dolls with pins in (No More Trist) are more like installations and might have appeared more contemporary.
And the good news? I am a step closer to getting more space to show my work with  plans for our garden gallery going out to tender.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

The French Connection

For the fourth year running, I had three groups of French students yesterday, making a tour of
Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
I think it went OK (they wrote some lovely comments in my visitors book) but over the years I've learnt to have some useful aids to help me explain the paintings. For instance, I always have a set of 'Happy Families' playing cards when showing my picture of the same name. There are a few puzzled faces until the students understand that I am playing something similar, but with members of the family.
For this year, I  obtained an advent calendar to help them  understand the inspiration for my painting 'Limners' and it's format of tiny  images behind closed doors.
(you can see it on the PRINTS FOR SALE page)

Saturday, 6 July 2019

In The Driving Seat

For my Artist in Residence event at the Courthouse I commissioned a model of Toad.
This was so visitors could peep into my Morris Minor and see him perched on cushions appearing to drive.
This tied in with my latest painting 'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' where Toad appears and I used the Morris for his car.
You can see him when you visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits but if you can't wait, then view him now at the steering wheel, in the latest batch of photos on my Facebook page.
 Just click  the logo on any page of my website.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Work In Progress

You can now see the current stages of my painting 'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' in the
 NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website. (click at the top of any page)
I'm trying to get a balance between the two layers - the lettering on the toothpaste pot and the downfall of Toad in the Courtroom.
In the third frame you'll see how I collaged the bits of green, crinkly £5 notes for the three faces of Toad.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

A Black Mark

With over a 1,000 hits on Facebook, radio and TV coverage and 161 visitors over  two days, I was tempted to feel that my residency in Ely Courthouse was going really well.
However, the Mayor of Ely arrived in all his robes and chain of office and disaster struck.
I  put a little oil paint  on my palette as I thought that if I had a dull moment I could do a bit of painting. I never did, because there was a constant steam of visitors  to explain what my picture - ' Who Stole The Toothpaste ? ' was all about.
Unfortunately, The Mayor must have draped his robe over the paint because to my horror he had black on the bright yellow edging. I quickly gave the Mayoress some loo role and turps substitute and hoped she would get rid of it.
When I last saw them, she had made it much worse by rubbing it into an even bigger splodge. I felt very bad because the Mayor (a lovely man) had been my chief supporter in the beginning, when I  broached the idea of showing how I had used the Courthouse in my painting .

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Art Object

I gave a tour of Ted Coney's Family Portraits last week for  new visitors and some who had been before.
One person wrote in my visitors book at the end
'Not just the paintings, the house itself is a work of art'
No wonder Hazel finds it difficult to live here sometimes.
 I do  wonder if I am becoming an art object as well? Though ofcourse Gilbert and George did that years ago.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Art On The Move

As part of the initiative to get my work more widely known, I will be Artist in Residence in Ely Courthouse next weekend 15th and 16th June as part of the Isle of Ely Festival.
I also continue to give talks about my work and will be in the Cathedral Centre in August to present
 'On The Edge' to a group .
 Though I do need to get out of Ely! I am still waiting for Daniel to complete my on line portfolio but then hope to send it to various galleries. In the meantime I have just put in a submission to Kettles Yard, Cambridge for their open exhibition, so I might get lucky. However, so will hundreds of other budding artists, so I mustn't get to hopeful.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Rare Glimpses

For my birthday, Emily gave me a beautiful book which she'd had printed of her photographs of our house and studio.
The pictures were taken about ten years ago - hence the cat bowl and Jasper is long gone!
Most of the photos are close up and she's even made the ironing look interesting.
You can see a selection of them on my Facebook page. Just click on the icon on the left side on any page of my website and scroll down.
When visiting Ted Coney's Family Portraits,  people seem to enjoy seeing the objects just as much as the paintings and I think Emily has captured this.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Come Hail, Rain Or Shine

I eagerly accepted the invitation to promote my up-coming Artist in Residence  event in June,  (See the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website for  details) at Eel Day, where the Isle of Ely Arts Festival was  to be launched.
I selected some of my preliminary canvases and drawings for the painting I 'll be working on -
'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' to encourage interest.
 I even brought along my new gift cards, displaying a drawing of my 1931 Morris Minor  (the car appears in the  painting) and hoped to make a few sales.
However, I hadn't bargained for the weather. Every few minutes the sky would turn black and down would come the rain and even hail at  times. I had to retreat with my mini display into a tiny gazebo along with about five other people.
So it wasn't a great success, though we did manage to give out quite a few leaflets as people rushed home.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

My Bike, Lollipop

I use my bike both as my main form of transport and also it is an integral part of
Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
 My 1940 bicycle both advertises the pop-up gallery by displaying  information , but is also an object to inspire my paintings.
I used it for 'Bicycle Thieves' which you can see in THE COLLECTION page on my website.
It also took me on my epic 800 mile  journey to Scotland after which I produced the painting 'Diamond Sutra'.
So I am always a bit sad when bits of the bike drop off or have to be replaced. Yesterday I tried to buy a new lollipop to fix on my back wheel as the old one had split in two. The first two bike shops didn't even know what a lollipop was (when you stick it out, it keeps traffic away).
I ended up at my favourite repair shop and although Dougie didn't have a new version he offered to mend the old one by screwing the two bits back together.
 My lollipop lives to see another day.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

May Day Alert

I wish I'd bought all the newspapers two years ago on 1st May when my grandson was born.
At that time I didn't know I would want to use them for my next painting, 'The Wasp and the Ring' to include the good and bad headlines within the picture.
I did contemplate trying to buy copies from 2017 over the Internet but decided that I would make do with this years versions instead. As I normally only buy one newspaper a week I did have an interesting morning reading The Times, Sun , Telegraph and Metro without feeling too guilty.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Best Feet Forward

I spent last week getting the collection ready for the reopening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits. This included jobs I'd been meaning to do for a long time but never got around to.
Like giving Peter the Pup, new feet.
Don't worry, he is only a puppet but appears in two of my paintings - 'David's Journey'(which you can see on p.5 of the PRINTS FOR SALE page) and 'Love That Dares' (DISABLED VISITORS page).
I was never happy with the puppet itself, which was made for me several years ago. So I repainted Peter a soft brown colour and using FYMO (a modelling clay you bake in the oven),I modelled some bigger feet.
I had to do them twice but was satisfied in the end.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Pot Luck

My new painting 'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' is about an ancestor of mine who owned a pharmaceutical company over a hundred years ago. When he died leaving no direct heir, the business was mismanaged and his fortune was lost.
The company made among other things, toothpaste, hence the title of my painting.
In those days, toothpaste came in ceramic pots, not tubes as we have today. Although I would love to get hold of one with the family name on, I did manage to find a picture on the internet to use as a reference for the painting.
However I saw a pot very similar  in an antique shop recently and as it was very cheap, I bought it.
 I can show this object to visitors when they come on a tour, to help  explain the story behind the picture.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Be Prepared

Ted Coney's Family Portraits reopens for it's eleventh season on Sunday 28th April.
Now the family have gone  I've been getting the upstairs rooms ready to show pictures and reorganising the display of related objects.
I found one of the sugar skulls (Mexican Day of the Dead) had melted slightly, so I have had to swop things around so they are out of the sun.
Simon came yesterday and he is going to help me rehang some of the paintings and of course I've got my new picture 'Hinaki' coming back soon, after its been framed
Don't forget to book (details on my website) , preferably a few days before you hope to come.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The Romans Are Coming

At Christmas I got my first model roman soldier . Recently, I  managed to buy another one which was really a pencil sharpener but was quite detailed and only one colour. This will be useful when I come to paint from them because I want the figures to look very much like models rather than real people
For my birthday, at my request, Max managed to track down two more soldiers from Amazon, .
so I now have an army of four!
I want to use them to represent the difficult side of life in a painting inspired by my grandson, Sebastian,  entitled 'The Wasp and the Ring'

Friday, 5 April 2019

A Little Bit ( More) Of England

Visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits and readers of my blog will know that I have been trying to create more space in the gallery for the past six years. Although the collection of paintings and related objects are growing slowly - luckily I average only one new painting a year - There reaches a point where I need more walls.
I tried buying the room directly under our 'flying freehold' when they were reshaping the house next door, but no luck
I investigated the possibility of opening up the loft (It's got fabulous beams) but H. and S. wouldn't allow it. I even explored  building a new room over the garage and studio, but this seemed very expensive for the space we would gain.
However, we have just acquired a very small strip of land which runs along the end of our garden so hope this will give me what I need..

Friday, 29 March 2019

In Court

As you may have read in the NEWS page on my website, I'm going to be Artist in Residence on the 15th and 16th June in the Old Courthouse in Ely.
I'll be working on my current painting 'Who Stole The Toothpaste?', having previously made drawings in the main courtroom for part of my research.
During the Isle of Ely Arts Festival , visitors will be able to see a display of all my preliminary studies as well me working on the final canvas.
I plan to bring along my 1931 Morris Minor as well and park it just outside the building.
The car appears in the painting but I am also hoping it will attract some attention and bring people in. Especially if I tie colourful helium balloons to the luggage rack

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Squaring The Circle

Having finished experimenting on nine preliminary canvases, I've now started the final painting.
'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' is about my ancestors making a fortune a hundred years ago and then loosing it all again.
I'm working on a circular canvas which is reminiscent of the shape a toothpaste pot my great,great , Uncle Tom sold as part of his pharmaceutical company. I've covered the circle in lettering  and I'm just beginning to paint the overlay which charts of the rise and fall of the company - more on that later.
I'll put some photographs of my progress on the website in a few weeks time.

Friday, 15 March 2019


During my last tour of 2018, one of the visitors took a series of six photos of the gallery.
They've just been put on my Facebook page and if you would like to see them just click to the left on any page of my website.
I think the best one is of Mr Turnip - a puppet from 1950s television who fascinated me as a child.
The photograph with it's strong shadows, makes him look very spooky. No wonder my daughter has to have him covered up when she sleeps in there!
Mr Turnip inspired two paintings - 'Diamonds' and 'The Enigma of the Chinese Mask', both of which you can see on the PRINTS FOR SALE pages.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

For Sale

I don't often sell my work, so you must forgive me for letting you know that a new batch of preliminary canvases are for sale. These were made in preparation for my latest painting 'Hinaki', which explored the family links between Ely and New Zealand. I always test out my ideas on small canvases before starting the final piece.
You can see the paintings if you click on the link in the NEWS AND REVIEWS page, just under the NEWS headline. You'll need to scroll down passed those with SOLD across them  to find the new batch.
The completed picture can be viewed on the TOURS page.
End of advert.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Wilful or Stubborn?

We've had a visit from my nephew and his young family recently and I gave them a tour around my pop-up gallery. He was particularly interested to know about the painting ' David's Journey ' which I made to mark his fathers 50th. birthday, twenty seven years ago. (you can see the painting in the PRINTS FOR SALE page on my website)
In it, I portrayed my brother as Muffin the Mule, whom I saw as an icon of 1940s television, when David was born. I was interested in the symbolism surrounding different animals and used all Muffin's friends to represent various members of the family. My sister-in-law was not best pleased to be portrayed as a hippopotamus until I explained  that it was a great honour as this animal symbolised the great earth mother in some cultures.
My nephew was keen to know what I had chosen to represent him but at the time I could not remember. However after looking through about twenty old sketchbooks I finally found the information. I had chosen Peter the Pup to be his animal as the dog symbolised wilfulness although to be fair, I think stubbornness might have suited my ten year old nephew, better.
 I was running out of animals  to represent the family, so I hope he will forgive me this character assassination.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Not So Open

I first opened our house to the public thirty five years ago, even before the official Open Studio scheme in Cambridge was born. I did it three times over the years and  the idea for
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits  gradually developed.
 Giving tours rather than let the public wander around seemed sensible because  my paintings often needed some explanation.
However, I had the idea that this July I might try Open Studio again (as well as tours at different times) to encourage more people to visit.
I also hoped it might be a good opportunity to sell a new batch of preliminary canvases.
I studied the Open Studio website and was about to rejoin when I realised I had missed the deadline!
So I won't be doing Open Studios in July 2019 but maybe 2020.
 My tours should be restarting in late April though - date to be announced.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019


Although I've been making paintings about the family for 50 years it is only since last June that I have had the opportunity to paint full time.
You could say I am an emerging artist even though I'll be seventy five soon.
With this in mind I've been putting together my on line portfolio to send to galleries.
If you want to view it, simply write in the top box on your screen
and click ENTER on your keyboard.
Wish me luck!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Name The Frame

Some people have a building, a ship or even a country named after them. Without knowing it until yesterday, I've had a picture frame named after me.
I took my latest painting, 'Hinaki' to be framed and chose the frame and colour I wanted. I've opted for a smoky grey which I believe will help pull the eye into the centre of the picture.
On choosing the frame, Johnathan drew my attention to the name on the side which read
 'Deep Coney'.
Whilst I never thought it had anything to do with my personality or temperament, I was amused to discover that it was a frame I often chose without realising it.
They name all their hundred or so frames on different regular clients apparently, as it helps staff differentiate between them. 

Friday, 1 February 2019

Coming Home

My 1931 Morris Minor has been away for nearly a month now, having it's MOT and various jobs done to the engine, so it was good to get it home yesterday.
I enjoyed driving through the snowy fenland landscape but relieved it didn't break down  as it was very cold and my mobile phone had run out of juice.
Now that I have a trickle charger connected to the battery I think the car will  be more reliable.
As the Morris appears in my latest painting ' Who Stole The Toothpaste' I am hoping there will be renewed interest in it,  when I take it to local events.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Wayfarers All

I'm re-reading 'The Wind In The Willows' at the moment (I got it for Christmas) and enjoying it immensely.
I particularly asked for the edition with Arthur Rackham's illustrations because I wanted to compare them with E.H. Shepard's version, which I'd studied previously.
Shephard had reputedly used Ely courthouse to inspire his drawings of Toad on trial and I have been making my own drawings of this, in preparation for my painting 'Who Stole The Toothpaste'.
However, although I love Shepard's sparky images of Toad, I feel that Rackham's more painterly style is nearer to what I want  in my work.
When I was teaching at the Sixth Form College, I discovered an original drawing by Arthur Rackham in my stockroom.  I alerted the management to my discovery (I'm very honest!) and they got it restored.
It turned out that Rackham's sister-in- law was a governor of the school and she had presented it
 many years before.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

New Beginnings

I've just cleared away  the material which inspired my painting 'Hinaki',  now that it is finished .
' Who Stole The Toothpaste?' is my new picture and I'm currently experimenting on eight little canvases to try and get the effects I want. 
I've put up all the archive material in the studio, which was collected over the last two years, including a model of Mr Toad. Illustrations and paintings by other artists, as well as my own research drawings also help to give me ideas and help solve problems.
Lettering plays an important part in this picture as it appears as an underlying texture in the background. I've been working from an enlarged paper copy of an early 20th century ceramic toothpaste lid, to try and get the style and words I need.
Lots still to do but I think I'm getting closer to starting the final piece.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Useful Presents

My friends and family seem to find it useful to buy me presents for Christmas  in connection with either the gallery or my painting.
Why else would I get a 1950s Sooty annual from my brother if it could not be added to archive material for my paintings 'Duet' and 'Offrenda', where I used the said character?
Yve and Isobel both gave me more objects for the dolls house. A car for the nursery and a miniature gardening set can now be added to the collection. I used the dolls house and its objects in some of the pictures such as 'Fools Gold' and 'In Three Our Kingdom'.
You can see all these paintings in my website on the PRINTS FOR SALE page.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Blind Date

Just before Christmas, Joe decided he wanted to buy one of my prints for his son-in-law.
Fearing that it might be too risky to post, he arranged with Nigel , who organises my prints, to meet in a garden centre about half way between both their homes.
As neither had met each other before, it could have been difficult, but the exchange seems to have been carried out successfully.
He bought 'Another Year', printed on canvas, which you can see on the PRINTS FOR SALE page on my website.