Friday, 29 May 2020

Supporting Tourism

I've just had two letters printed in the newspaper this week, both bemoaning the lack of support from the Council for local tourism.
When I set  up Ted Coney's Family Portraits eleven years ago, the City had a vibrant arts community which I could connect to.
It still has, but I sometimes feel the City and District Councils could do more to help.
One of my letters was about the proposed cancellation of the Christmas Lights Switch-On in view of the pandemic. My suggestion was to put the lights up anyway, without a grand opening, as this would cheer everyone up.
My other letter was about a planning application for an out of town shopping centre close by,which they approved.
 In the coming months we will need to get visitors into Ely - not drive them away!

Friday, 22 May 2020

Last Soap Standing

When the pandemic began there was a big rush to buy soaps, hand gels and cleaning materials. Thankfully things have calmed down a bit,but at the time I felt the need to lock my newly acquired Christmas present in a  cabinet for safe keeping.
My brother had bought me a bar of soap in the shape of the  character 'Mr Turnip'. It had cost him a £1 (he told me gleefully) and dated back to the 1950s when I watched the puppet as a child on television.
I am always keen to add to my collection of objects that have inspired me in my painting and you can see two examples on my PRINTS FOR SALE page.
'The Enigma of the Chinese Mask' and 'Diamonds' both use my childhood memories of Mr Turnip to say things about family life.
I have promised my wife that if our backs are against the wall then we'll have to use the soap.

Friday, 15 May 2020

A Toady Green

Johnathan rang to say that he had finished making the circular frame for my painting,
'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' (you can still see the painting on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page).
Normally, I would then go to his workshop to discuss the colour of the frame but ofcourse things are different at the moment.
I do have great faith in Johnathan's judgement as he has been making frames for my pictures for nearly forty years. So I said 'make it a toady green' and then followed it up with 'maybe a toady greenish grey'.
He promised to deliver the painting at some point but said I won't be able to open the package for the 36 hours.
I can't wait.

Friday, 8 May 2020

More Than The Repair

Have you seen the T.V. programme, 'The Repair Shop'? I avoided it for a while as I imagined that it would be like watching paint dry!
However, during lockdown I was tempted and now am thoroughly hooked. Yes, you do see a bit of  repairing but the most interesting thing for me is the stories behind the objects and the emotions they evoke in their owners.
That is why I use objects to tell  family stories in my paintings and sometimes use them almost as symbols for things I want to show.
An example of this was using the puppet Muffin the Mule to represent my brother in my painting
 'David's Journey' but also see him as an icon of the 1940s.
You can see the painting on the PRINTS FOR SALE page on my website.

Friday, 1 May 2020


I've been  making experiments for my next painting using clown faces and called 'Eggheads'.
The title comes from the fact that all new clowns have their make-up verified by being painted on a ceramic egg.
I'm using the faces to represent different brothers in the family and  gradually splitting the images  up to show the changes from one generation to another.
Recently I've been making drawings from a photograph of a face laid under a right angled mirror with the effect rather like a kaleidoscope. After each drawing I put that under the mirrors so the next one becomes more complex. I have also  started to paint them on small  canvases to try and work out the colour scheme. I quite like the idea of painting the faces over a dark background as this gives the images more depth.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Families Apart- Together

I've been making paintings about  families for over 50 years, so  obviously they are very important to me.
While the present situation  of self isolation is hard I've been struck by how modern technology is helping us all get through it.
We've had several Zoom meetings with our immediate family - children, their partners and grandchildren, which has been lovely.
We have also had two with all strands of the Coney family together. That's 11 families and 29 people! From Seattle to Skipton, Sydney to Spain,  all talking at once and waiving to each other.
I can't help thinking that when this pandemic is  over, there is an idea for a painting in there somewhere. 

Friday, 17 April 2020

Keep Going and Carry On

I had planned to open my pop-up gallery this Sunday for the first of the new season 's tours but because of the pandemic, this is obviously postponed for a while.
Still, you can always try my VIRTUAL TOUR (see my website) and if you do, I'll donate the fee to our wonderful NHS.
In the meantime, I'll carry on painting - but more on that next week.

Friday, 10 April 2020

On With The Show

During lockdown I've been doing puppet shows for my grandson on Zoom. I performed
 'Sooty's Magic Show' and 'Muffin's New Friend' which I think he enjoyed (well, they didn't switch it off).
The puppets form part of my collection of objects I've used in some of my paintings - which you can see  on the PRINTS FOR SALE page on the website.
Muffin the Mule appears in 'David's Journey' and Sooty in 'Offrenda', both representing different members of the family.
My puppetry skills aren't great but these are challenging times.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Serves Me Right

It was my birthday last week and a friend sent me one of my own cards -the gift card showing my 1931 Morris Minor (you can see the drawing on the PRINTS FOR SALE page).
Her excuse was, because we are all confined to our houses, it was the only card she had, having bought a few from my Artist in Residence event last summer.
At least I didn't feel too guilty displaying it with the   other  (six) on the mantelpiece.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Garden Party

Last Friday we gave a 'Lockdown 'party in the garden for our immediate neighbours. Everyone brought their own glasses and we all kept well apart. It was also an excuse to show off my new garden gallery (only one person at a time as it's not big) before it is requisitioned for more practical purposes like storing essentials etc.  My latest paintings and related objects were on view.
We all drank each others health and it felt like the night before the war.

Friday, 20 March 2020

In Lock Down

What a difference a week makes! Not only is Open Studios postponed for a year but I will have to delay the opening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits until life becomes more normal again.
Just to get  our priorities right, Hazel and I rushed out to buy more canvases to keep us painting during the long haul.  I know I should have been buying toilet rolls - as I do use rather alot of them in my painting for blotting, rubbing and cleaning.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Full Circle

Twenty six years ago was the last time I took part in the Cambridge Open Studio scheme, having tried it first ten years earlier when artists just opened their homes on a random basis.
I have decided, as well as doing the tours,to open part of our home again this year during July . This is because I have  a regular supply of preliminary studies available (which sell better when visitors see the finished paintings as well) but also with our new garden gallery open, there is more to explore downstairs, besides the studio.
My Open Studio page is up and running on their website. Just type in 'Cambridge Open Studios' and write in my name.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Opening Soon - Hopefully

As you can see from my NEWS page, Ted Coney's Family Portraits reopens for a new season on Sunday 19th April. You can book a tour from 1st April and I just hope the spread of Coronavirus doesn't stop the event going ahead.
Ever the optimist, plans for getting the displays ready continue. Last Saturday we put up the new display cabinet in the garden gallery and I've already started arranging the objects in there.
It felt good to get out the knitted boats made by Julia and put them near the painting they appear in,
'If The Boats Come In'

Friday, 28 February 2020

Makes Sense

I'e recently been to see an interesting exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Entitled
'Feast and Fast', it discusses the art of food in Europe from 1500 - 1800.
I'd already got a vague notion about a painting I want to do in the future based on a cabinet of curiosities using  objects chosen by members of my family to represent them. The Fiztwilliam show gave me an idea to develop this further.
I came across a piece of work which used the five senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
The idea of linking each object to one of the senses could help to define them  and give  more meaning.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Send In The Clowns

I've been experimenting with  ideas for my next painting about brothers,
using the three types of clown faces - Auguste, Whiteface and Character to represent us.
 Continuing the images into the next two generations I intend to gradually divide the faces up to suggest how the genes continue, but in different ways.
I photocopied the three different clowns several times, cutting  up and rearranging them  in formal and informal ways.
My next experiment will be to draw the faces in angled mirrors. I hope to acquire some masks   as having 3D images should make it more interesting.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Wheels On My Wagon

My 1931 Morris Minor is just back from having it's M.O.T. (it passed!) It also had a new coil and plugs replaced. While in the garage the Morris's spoke wheels were sandblasted and painted and the tyres replaced.
The car is an important part of my collection and a great favourite when shown on the
Ted Coneys Family Portraits tours and is now ready for the reopening in April.
 It appears in many of the paintings including my latest one 'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' which you can see on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page.
There are lots of pictures of the car in the photographic section of my Facebook page.

Friday, 7 February 2020

In Touch With Angels

I've started my new work 'The Wasp and the Ring' and over the last two weeks have been painting angels. They are very small and  you should only realise their presence when you get up close.
I am well aware that they could look rather naff but hopefully I can pull off my idea successfully. From a distance you think it's a constellation in the sky.
You can see the results in a few weeks time, when I've got a bit further.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Shades Of Grey

If you  looked at my website recently,j you will have noticed that the picture at the top right of each page has changed.
 Quite a while ago we had our house painted a light grey to bring together the 1750 building and the modern extension. With all the building work going on behind us it was impossible to capture a decent photograph at the right angle to show our house in front of Ely Cathedral.Once the new houses had been finished I managed to gain access and take the prefect image.
It's already out of date though, as since I took the photo, our fence has also been painted grey.

Friday, 24 January 2020

The New Hang

It started with Richard's aeroplane. It was important to get this in the correct position in my new garden gallery and then place  'Airlines' (the painting in which this object had been used),beside it.
Part of the converted garage has a higher ceiling, so this was an obvious place for the plane, giving it room to swing gently  when the air catches it.
Having decided on the top line, we then proceeded to hang the rest of the paintings in the space, allowing for a new display cabinet which should be arriving shortly. This will house objects and ephemera  which inspired the paintings.
Can't wait to set up the 1940 wedding cake again!

Friday, 17 January 2020

In With The New

My painting 'Who Stole The Toothpaste?' is finished and you can see the final version in my
 NEWS AND REVIEWS page on the website.
I filed away all the related material in my studio (including the Edwardian toothpaste pot) and set out all the new stuff to begin painting 'The Wasp and The Ring'. I like to have all the related ephemera, drawings and preliminary studies around me when I work. I've now completed nine small canvases so I feel reasonably confident in starting the final painting.
Or, as I used to say to hesitant students,  'If you don't start now, you never will!'

Friday, 10 January 2020

Share Your Bath

'Share your bath with Mr. Turnip - it'll be fun!'. That's what the advert said, but it was 1950.
My brother gave me a bar of soap this Christmas in the shape of Mr. Turnip, who was a puppet on T.V, during my childhood and I was totally fascinated by.
Although not a collector for it's own sake, I have always been keen to show archive material which has a direct bearing on my painting. I was delighted to receive this present which had survived in it's original box, even though his face was partly missing.
I used Mr. Turnip in two paintings - 'Diamonds' and 'The Enigma of the Chinese Mask', both can be seen on my PRINTS FOR SALE pages.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

New Circles

 One of my favourite/most useful Christmas present this year was a small table for my new garden gallery. I had asked my children if they wanted to club together to buy me a circular glass topped one and they did exactly that. It's quite small and will fit in beautifully.
I can use it to display related art books or ephemera on when I reopen the tours in the spring.
Happy New Year!