Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Price OF Fame

Just before Christmas, Hazel and I attended a carol concert in Ely Cathedral. Unfortunately I had bought the tickets late and had to make do with the unreserved seats at the back. Although we had resigned ourselves to this, I hadn't realised that we couldn't even sit next to each other, but several rows apart. Hazel was all for going home, but as I had just bought the programme and ordered mulled wine for the interval, I knew I had to act fast. I looked around in desparation for someone I knew who might be able to help. I spotted a member of the Cathedral staff I have met through advertising their concerts on the station (I look after the What's On In Ely stand there)  I explained our predicament and she said the magic words, 'follow me'. We did and were rewarded to front seats close to the choir. I said to Hazel, rather smugly that she obviously knew I was from Ted Coney's Family Portraits, as she took my flyers and I took hers. The concert was marvalous, more so because of where we were sitting and when I saw the lady again in the interval I thanked her again. ' Oh thats alright' she said ' You are Bill, arn't you ?'
At that point the truth dawned, but she didn't move us back, so that was OK  

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Seasons Greetings

As the christmas cards have come in, it's been good to read people remarking favourably about their visit to Ted Coney's Family Portraits and also to my website. The website will keep changing and evolving in the new year, but good to know folk are looking at it!
For now, I shall put away my paintbrushes (well, we are using the studio as a cold storage centre for drinks and food) and enjoy the family coming home for Christmas. Although , I am sure to get a few ideas for a future painting from their visit.   Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Moving Off - On Wheels

Now that Ted Coney's Family Portraits has closed for the winter, I have started to dismantle part of the exhibition in the bedrooms, so that the family can move in for Christmas. Luckily, (and cunningly) all the plinths and showcases are all on wheels, so all I have to do, is to push them to one side and pull down the sofa beds. Even more cleverly, I spin the plinths around to reveal hidden cupboards where all the bedding is kept. I have to keep Mr Turnip well covered up though, as everyone complains, they can't sleep in there with him staring down at them.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Will It Ever Be Finished?

Last summer I bought a book about building a cardboard model of Ely Cathedral to use as source material for my next painting 'Another Year'. Those that know me well will know that I am not good with models. I used the wrong glue (mind, that was the book's fault) and then made the fatal error of putting masking tape on, to hold it all together until the glue dried. Ofcourse, it ripped the surface (and the nave lost some windows) and dosn't look so perfect anymore. I persuaded my brother David to have a go, hoping he would finish it, but after a few flying buttresses done, back it came. The arrival of our son Max, who is staying for a while seemed an ideal oppotunity to get the wretched thing finished. He has done a bit, be seemed reluctant to take up my fantastic offer of living rent free, while he finishes it.
Why do I need it? I want to light it from different angles, to make drawing from, to add to my photos and drawings of the real thing. It probably took over100 years to complete Ely Cathedral (I need to look in the book to check that!), and it looks as though mine is going to take just about as long.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Visit England Here I Come!

Well I've done it! I have just clicked the buttons and sent my two Visit England submissions into ciberspace. I can't change them now, no more fiddling to get the right turn of phrase, I am just going to be judged by what I have sent. I did get Daniel (he's incharge of my website) to help me upload all the evidence. We sent 54 bits for Small Visiter Attraction of the Year Award and 58 to the Tourism Experience of the Year Award. Ofcourse some were the same but it did seem alot. What an earth did he send I can hear you say ? Well it included my blog, tweet,  Facebook page, newspaper stories, film, Electronic Sketchbook etc. etc. and even a few examples of paintings. 
 Maybe Ted Coney's Family Portraits is going to go big time after all?! 

Monday, 28 November 2011

No Sliding Walls

Today, we finally met the very nice couple who are buying the house next door. I met them with mixed emotions because I had hoped we might buy the bottom half (it is divided into flats at the moment) so I could enlarge Ted Coney's Family Portraits, but it was not to be. I still have a plan B and plan C but that involves pushing the boundaries of the garden so that is for another day and for other buyers. The other interesting point is the new family are hoping to build a room in the loft. So if they can, why can't we?! 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

OnThe Edge Of Their Seats

Last week, I did the lecture about my work 'On The Edge' to the local Rotary Club. It was a bit of an effort to lug everthing (laptop, projector, sound system etc.) to the Lamb Hotel after a busy day at school so I hope it was worth it. I think it was, because the member who gave the vote of thanks, remarked that he had been blind to many things about families all his life, but the talk and looking at my paintings had helped him to see things more clearly. You can't hope for more than that.

All Doors Closing

Well, my end of season 'story' appeared in the newspaper the other night. It played on the idea of me closing (rather than opening ) the 37 days of Christmas on my painting 'Limners ' . Inspite of a rather leery picture of me (though I do have my eyes open, which is unusual in a photo) it did say there was still time to do a tour before 11th December and stated that
Ted Coneys Family Portraits would be reopening in April 2012. So, we will see if this brings a flurry of visitors in the next few weeks. Ofcourse, you will be able to see the press story on my News and Reviews page, as soon as Daniel has time to put it onto my website.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Busy Monday

A good, if exhausting Monday. The press photographer came in the morning to take a picture of me with my painting 'Limners' to promote the fact that Ted Coney's Family Portraits is closing on 11th December. (so don't miss it!) He took pictures of me opening the doors (on the painting), standing against the closed curtains and other such poises. Hopefully, at least one of them will look OK. 'Limners' is based on an advent calendar (hence the doors) and is about the 37 days of our Christmas, so hopefully it will have a seasonal appeal
In the afternoon, I did a special opening of the house for visitors who couldn't make it on a Sunday. I was just about to do the 'Journeys' tour when the newspaper rang to say they had lost my press release and would I send it again . Everything went well on the tour until I clicked the wrong button on the Electronic Sketchbook and couldn't stop it!
In the evening I took all the 'evidence' to Daniel so he could upload it onto my on line application for the Visit England Awards. We only managed about half and at the last minute could not find Hazel's digitol camera with images on, I had especially taken
And Monday is supposed to be my day off.

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Call To Arms

I have just put out an Email to lots of people reminding them that if they want to visit
Ted Coney's Family Portraits before it closes for the winter, then they had better hurry up. My last tours are on Sunday 11th December and then I don't open again until April 2012. It would be nice to finish on a good note and ofcourse, high visitor numbers could boost my chances of getting somewhere with the Visit England Award submission. I also need to get this in the local papers - watch this space!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Dear Reginald Owen - Not Quite Goodbye

I have been working on my painting 'Dear Reginald Owen' this weekend and I was convinced I would finish it. I worked on the final layer - that of the car (whizzing through space like the Tardis in Doctor Who) and thought it looked pretty good. However, I had another look in the cold light of day and realised I could do more. I need to bring back some of the other layers to break it up a bit. I want to suggest the different time ones, but not make it to obvious. Nearly finished though and I am looking forward to starting my next piece based on Ely Cathedral.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Basket Case?

Last week I finally bought a new basket for my 1940 bicycle. I had the last one for over 20 years and it was beginning to show it's age. A big hole had appeared at the bottom and one side had started to collaspe. Sounds like old age dosn't it?! While I needed to get a new one for my education work (art catalogues are very heavy) and Tesco shopping, I was sad to see it go from an archive point of view. Visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits will know that my old bike is one of the exhibits, linked as it is to so many of the paintings. Still, I musn't get to sentimental, as my new basket looks very handsome and is exactly like the one I bought all those years ago.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Not Going To The Ball

Followers of my blog may remember that earlier this month I was short listed for a Business Award by Standard newspapers in their Innovation catergory for Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
They had even sent me two tickets for their Bafta style dinner at Ely Cathedral, where the results would be announced. Well now we are not going! I got a call to say that the sponcers had pulled out of the award I was up for, so now the catergory for Innovation had been withdrawn. I never really expected to win and I was even practising the sort of expression I would put on when the results were announced, but it is still a bit disappointing. However, you will be pleased to hear that I am already going in for another award - Visit England , which is more national . As I have the proof on paper, I feel I can still put down ' short listed for Business Awad' in the awards section of the new submission.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Thats The Business

I have finally used up the 500 business cards that I had produced when
Ted Coney's Family Portraits first opened. At that time my strapline (which appeared on all my advertising) was 'Five Generations In Thirty Minutes'. I now realise that that was a bit of a mistake as although the actual experience lasted longer than that, (with the introductary film and visit to my studio) some visitors might have thought £3 was a bit expensive for so fleeting a visit. My new slogan which appears on my new business cards is 'Ely's First Pop-Up Gallery' which I think better reflects what I am. Hope so, anyway.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Voices From The Past

Recently, I discovered some old audio tapes of me appearing on the radio discussing my paintings. One of them was from 1989, when I opened the house in Great Shelford for Open Studio. I even found the piece from Anglia T.V. when I drove the Morris Minor around Hills Road Sixth Form College quad to raise money for charity, for the car's 70th birthday. Daniel, who is in charge of my website will be adding them to the News and Reviews page, so that visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits will be able to view them. I might be mistaken (failing eyesight) but I think I look younger now then I did ten years ago when I appeared stressed and haggard on Anglia News? What do you think?!

Monday, 3 October 2011

My Educational Inititive

With my background in Art teaching, I have often thought it would be great to help young people get more out of the ideas behind my painting and see how I had used artist's and other cultural references to develop my work. With this in mind, I wrote to eight schools last week, inviting them to visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits sometime. While I cannot compete with Tate Modern (or even the Fitzwilliam Museum!) maybe the fact that the collection is small and the artist is in attendence (!) might offer something different. I have also sent them a list of possible starting points, which are connected to my work, to help teachers see how they might want to use the collection - and I'll get these connected to my website soon. No takers yet (ofcourse I know teachers are very busy people) but I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

From Dawn To Dusk - Well Nearly

Last night I went out just as it was getting dark to photograph the Cathedral. However, even though it had been a sunny day, it was too cloudy to try and photograph the sun setting over this beautiful building. I had already done some painted sketches at dusk for my next painting, Another Year, but felt I needed to get more images from different angles. This morning I got up at 5am and was luckey to get some dawn pictures, with the Cathedral rising out of the mists. It's cloudy again tonight though, so I shall have to wait for those elusive dusk images. I want to symbolise birth with the dawn pictures, while death is shown with the light fading.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Walking With Angels

As part of the research for my next painting, I went on a tour of the Lantern in Ely Cathedral, today. I took Hazel's new camera, so I could photograph the light falling on the brickwork, as luckily it was a sunny day. I was on the same level as all those painted angels which I have looked at many times, but always from a great distance. We had to climb over a 150 steps to get to the top, where we had amazing views across the fens and beyond.
Once the photos are printed, I hope to start putting them together to build a composition which I can start working from, for the painting 'Another Year' (once I have my wretched model of the Cathedral finished as well)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A New Start

At the suggestion of Daniel, who is in charge of the website, we have changed the photo on the Home page of my website for Ted Coney's Family Portraits. Instead of the front of the house with a closed door, he has persuaded me to have my picture taken infront of it. Is this an improvement I wonder, or will my smiling face put visitors off even more?! Only time will tell, but it has made me think that we need to update some of the other photographs, as well. The view through the back door into the hall has changed, as we now have many more photos of the family on the walls and my studio looks alot more 'lived in' (i.e. messy) since the last photo was taken. Time to experiment with Hazel's camera.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Painting Through The Layers

I've just finished painting the final (of three) layers of my painting 'Dear Reginald Owen' which depicts my Morris Minor as a time machine between 1930s and the present day. Although I say 'finished' it is'nt really. It seems a bit flat and boring and rather predictable. So when it's dry, I plan to start painting bits of it again to muddle up the layers (and time zones) a bit. I will know when it is finished, but I need to keep looking at it and maybe leaving alone for a while. Meantime, I am still building Ely Cathedral in preparation for my next painting.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Instructions Must Be Wrong

I was never very good with written instructions. I very soon believe they are totally unreadable and give up, or start making the thing in my own sweet way. However, I was determined to turn over a new leaf with my 'How to make Ely Cathedral ' book. This is a childs book after all and all I have to do is cut the shapes out, score on the dotted line and hey presto! I have a replica model of the building. Well, so far it hasn't quite turned out like that. I have lots of folded bits of card and even a turret but I think there is along way to go. And why am I doing this? Well, my next painting is going to be using lights falling across this Iconic shape (earlier blogs tell of my dawn and dusk drawings of the real thing) to represent new life and death and I thought the model would be useful to project lights onto. Thats if I ever get the wretched thing finished.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Get Bigger - Or Stay The Same?

Followers of my blog will know that I would dearly like to extend Ted Coney's Family Portraits either by buying part of the house next door or enlarging the garden, so we can put shepherds hut in it. However, my plans have been frustrated so far. The house next door has been 'Sold' for the second time for quite a few weeks now but to my amazement, the deal fell through again recently. Ofcourse, we couldn't afford or would want, the whole house, but I keep hoping I can pursuade the owners that we can buy the bottom half which is a separate flat. This time it is to be sold by auction (if not before) for a much lower price and I am trying to pursuade a neighbour to buy it with me. Hazel thinks it's a bad idea but I feel this is the time to be a bit reckless (but only a little bit) Watch this space.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Family Portraits - By The Sea

Just been away on our annual holiday to Sheringham in Norfolk. It's not just any holiday mind, because we are usually joined by over 20 members of the family! This year it was 26 and while last year was the year of the child (we had babies everywhere), this year was definately the year of the girlfriend. What they all made of it, I am not sure, but it certainly sorts out the girls from the future wives/partners. Having to share a bathroom with alot of new people soon sorts them out. Although this isn't a normal Ted Coney's Family Portraits blog - this Sheringham ritual often inspires ideas for future paintings

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Doing One's Best

Living up to my new slogan 'Ely's First Pop-Up Gallery', I took a booking for
Ted Coney's Family Portraits on a Friday, to celebrate my new flexible approach. I was aware that there would be a seven year old girl in the group, so I made every effort to ensure that I found the paintings and related objects which might interest her. Even though I showed Muffin the Mule, Mr. Turnip and Thomas the Tank Engine, these failed to delight. Although I put on the lights of the dolls house and puppet theatre as they entered a darkened room, it did not spark much interest . Perhaps visiting the Cathedral and all those tedious shops that grown-ups love, beforehand, just proved to much and I was the straw that broke the camels back.
Or perhaps I was just a boring old fart?

Monday, 8 August 2011

Never Say Die

You will remember, I had been notified with the news that Ted Coney's Family Portraits had been short-listed for a business award. The next stage was for two judges to come and visit and report back on what they saw. I worked very hard getting everything ready as if for a tour (all the signs out etc.) so that they could get a flavour of what I was offering. I also showed them all my publicity material and examples of where the gallery had been mentioned in magazines, newspapers and other media since I opened in 2009. The younger chap asked the question 'Where do you think you will be in two years time? ' I nearly said 'Dead, probably' which would have been a bit flippant. So I spoke instead about my plans for expansion (sheperds hut at the very least) and my ideas for developing a DVD of tours upstairs for the disabled. Luckily, I had also roughed out a letter and notes to send to schools in September to introduce the idea of school visits to the house. This was all true but would it be enough to convince them that I should win the award?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A Taxing Day

It was a big mistake to choose to cycle to Cambridge from Ely on the hotest day of year so far. However, I took lots of water and had two stops for refreshment and to get my breath back. I followed the National Cycle route and nearly took a wrong turning but managed to find the way. The reason for my trip was to see someone in the Tax Office about my tax form, especially the sheet concerning Ted Coney's Family Portraits. The lady I saw didn't exactly inspire confidence when she said, after perusing my form ' I'm out of my depth here ' However, on seeking further advice, she came up trumps by helping me write a letter to get more tax relief on last years expendidture. Needless to say I took the train home.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Paintbrushes At Dawn

The other morning I got up at 4:30am so I could paint the dawn coming up over Ely Cathedral. I had looked at the weather forecast the night before, as I wanted to be sure that it would be clear (you don't get up that time in the morning unless it is for something special). I half expected some policeman to ask me what I was doing, but infact I never saw a soul. I am gradually gathering lots of images of light across the Cathedral's stones and I wanted to see how the dawn light would be different from those I did at sunset. Infact the dawn light made the stones turn orange. The painting will eventually be made from some of these studies and is about my mother and sister-in-law dying and then the birth of two new female members of the family being born about a year later. The painting will be called 'Another Year'

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Just Another Day

In the morning I went drawing inside the Cathedral for a new painting (but thats for another blog). In the afternoon I got a telephone call to tell me that Ted Coney's Family Portraits WAS on the short list for a business award and the Assessor would be making a visit on Friday (I'll do a blog about it afterwards). At 7pm I got a call from Radio Cambridge to say they wanted me to speak live on air (very scary that) at 7:30 that evening! I chatted on about the Morris's 80th birthday celebrations - competition at Aquafest and the painting I am doing. I have no idea what it sounded like but the very nice presenter, Sue Marchant, sent me a very sweet message at the end. If you want to hear it, it is on BBC I Player and hopefully Daniel will get it on my News and Reviews page. T.V. next maybe?

Monday, 1 August 2011

Mistaken Identity

I did the Journeys tour this weekend for Ted Coney's Family Portraits and included a painting entitled 'Walking Sticks'. It comprises of four long thin paintings of walks I made with the family in 1986. It reminded me of an amusing event when Imade the sketches for the walk around Holton St. Peter, where we were staying in a cottage. We had just arrived and we made the walk on the first day. Ofcourse the children were quite young ,so I did not have much time for making sketches. (they would be running about, asking irritating questions) I resolved to make the same walk again while Hazel was putting the children to bed that evening. I made some more sketches and had just returned and settled down to a nice glass of wine when there was a knock at the door. There stood two policemen wanting to know who I was. Apparently, someone (from behind a net curtain, no doubt) had reported me acting suspiciously, making notes in a little notebook. As I wasn't wearing a smock and beret and carrying a canvas, I suppose I could have been taken for a burglar.

Friday, 29 July 2011

My New Fan

Last night I went down to Ely Cathedral to make some studies for my next project
'Another Year'. I wanted to capture the light on the Cathedral as the sun was setting. I set up my folding seat and art equipment in a good position and started to paint, light colours on dark paper. Very soon I was aware that a rather beautiful foreign girl was watching me in at a distance in a respectful way . She asked if she could take a photo, as I bashfully explained that it was only a sketch. She then came and sat on the grass right next to me, and there she remained for the next hour! Somehow, the Cathedral (my drawing not the real thing) managed to end up crooked but it proved to be an interesting evening nontheless.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

On Your Trolley

Last weekend I did my 'Anniversaries' tour for the two groups who came to see
Ted Coney's Family Portraits. This necessitated me using my special viewing trolley so that I could navigated our wedding painting, ' Lavendar and Dead Bilberries' across the courtyard and into the house. I don't do this very often as it means I have to 'see-saw' the whole thing on a plank of wood across the door frame to get it in, but it was good to know that I still had the strength to do it! Mind you, four days later it is still sitting there, so I really must take it back today, otherwise it will become a permanent fixture.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Not The Businessman of the Year

Although I am always keen to report my successes on this blog, occasionally, to give a balanced picture, I must report my failures (these probably make more interesting reading, anyway). For the second year running I put Ted Coney's Family Portraits forward for a local business award. I went in for the Innovation catergory because I felt my concept was very unusual. However, having heard nothing back, I must assume I have failed yet again. I felt extremely confident about the whole thing until I had to fill in the space on the form which was headed 'Annual Turnover'. Maybe £200 and odd pounds didn't look very cutting edge?!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Lights and Shadows

We have just been to Cornwall and Dorset for a holiday. When the weather was reasonable I got down to some sketching from the landscape. I decided to do some experiments with light falling on objects because it will link well with my next family painting. I did two sunset pictures as the sun went down over Crackington Haven (not very good, but you have to start somewhere!). I also made some studies of our long shadows cast across the rocks, again as the light was fading.
My idea for the final painting, entitled 'Another Year' will somehow contrast the deaths of my mother and sister-in-law last year, with the arrival of my granddaughter, Poppy and my great neice, Diana (who arrived last week!) almost to the month, a year later. At the moment, I want to represent them as glowing lights (or fading lights) or maybe shadows. It is all a bit vague at the moment but I hope to work with the iconic shape of Ely Cathedral at different times of day, now I am back, and see what happens.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

80 Not Out

The sun shone and lots of people came to Aquafest. I raised £80 for Teenage Cancer Trust by visitors trying to guess the female name of my 80 year old Morris Minor. I can reveal that the name the family have used over all these years to describe the car, is Henrietta! In the morning I also took the Mayor and his consort in the Morris to Lavenders Green to officially open the event. All went well except at one stage, the lady with the red flag, who was leading me, tried to go one way and I went the other. Lets hope all these things have helped to raise the profile of
Ted Coney's Family Portraits with the general public. I certainly gave out alot of flyers, as people came over to look at the car. I think it's called a 'lost leader' in business.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

It Must Be Lautrec

The Morris and I have just been in two local papers this week to advertise the annual Aquafest event. Orgionally, I wanted to give rides around the Maltings rounabout for charity, but health and safety regulations thought otherwise. So now I'm doing a 'Guess the female name of the car' competition instead. Ofcourse, it's all to advertise Ted Coney's Family Portraits as well as the fact that I'm doing a painting about the car to celebrate it's 80th birthday this year. With that in mind, I submitted myself to a bit more vulgar publicity by having my photo taken with the car. One photo is quite reasonable with me leaning in a casual poise against the bonnet. In the other, I was persuaded to kneel down infront of the car. Big mistake! With my panama hat on and my legs hidden, I look just like Toulose Lautrec. I guess he was an artist as well............

Friday, 24 June 2011

Painting Depression

I am sometimes asked if I think people will be interested in paintings about MY family (before they come to Ted Coney's Family Portraits ), maybe implying they wouldn't be! I always reply, that as everyone has a family, I hope they will empathise with some of the themes in the paintings. Only last week I was showing a group my painting 'Other Women's Lives' and talking about the circular part in it to represent Depression, which my mother described as like 'disapearing down a dark tunnel'. At the end of my description, one of the visitors said that was just like she felt for two years and she seemed genuinly relieved to tell everyone and discuss her feelings. I felt I must be doing something right!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Busy Wednesday

Wednesday proved to be a busy day for Ted Coney's Family Portraits. Early morning saw me and the Morris Minor perched in the centre of the Maltings roundabout having our photo taken by the Cambridge News photographer to promote my bid to make money for Teenage Cancer Trust as well as promote the gallery in a roundabout(no pun intended) way. I am working on the idea that locals are so used to seeing my face, that they will soon know who I am (well, I was in the paper last week promoting the Arts Award and my name didn't even appear!)
Later in the day I had 8 ladies from the Mepal Friendship group who had booked to do one of my tours. I was mindful they had already seen my lecture 'On The Edge' and this had encouraged them to book. However, I needed to show them new work while pointing out the origionals, which they had previously seen as slides. I was told that two of the group wouldn't be able to climb the stairs but would be content to sit downstairs while the others went up. In the event, they insisted on coming up even though it was like leading a mountaineering climb. With our stairs being very steep and one lady on two sticks, it was not easy, but I hope they thought it was worth it.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Health and Safety says NO!

As part of my mid term strategy to advertise Ted Coney's Family Portraits I had decided that I would seek some publicity by giving rides in my 80 year old Morris Minor for charity. I have done this for the car's 60th and 70th birthdays and been featured in the Times newspaper and on Anglia News. Ofcourse, then I was still working at Hills Road Sixth Form College and could make use of the quadrangle to drive around. However, I had decided this time, I could drive around the Maltings roundabout as part of the Aquafest celebrations. Anyway I can't!! Health and safety regulations won't allow it even if I have someone walking in front with a red (or is it white?) flag. I think that will make quite a good story for the paper anyway, and watch out for more news on what I plan to do instead. I don't give up that easy!!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Living Family Portraits

I've been living Ted Coney's Family Portraits rather than recording them this week. After months of waiting, our beautiful new granddaughter made a dramatic entrance on her parents bathroom floor last Thursday and we have all been in shock ever since. I set up this blog to talk about my painting and gallery, to show how my Family Portraits have developed, but every so often, life becomes more vivid than art and this moment is one of those. Poppy Grace finally arrived and we are already in her thrall. I'll talk about my ideas for a painting involving her , later. In the meantime, I am just enjoying the moment.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

No News but Reviews

Nothing to report on the arrrival of the new grandchild except that it is imminent. I've got a few ideas for doing a painting about it (that and my nephew's wife's baby next month) but we shall have to see, once it all happens.
However, you can view the News and Reviews page on my Ted Coneys Family Portraits website to see how Daniel (my new web designer) has put together all my press cuttings from 1991 until the present day and I think he has made a really good job of it. But then, I'm biased.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Over Complicated and Over Here

Yesterday, I had a charming family from Sweden booked into Ted Coney's Family Portraits. Parents and three well behaved and jolly daughters. I planned carefully beforehand and thought long and hard what I would show them. I chose 'Journeys' as the theme of my tour and started with the 'Snow Angels and No Angels' series, so the girls could see the paintings as they went through the house.Ofcourse I showed them the Morris Minor before they came in, so I could refer to it when we looked at 'Grand Tours' and 'Golden Jubilee Ride' which both feature the said car. I also talked about 'Young Lives' because I knew they could identify with Thomas the Tank Engine, which ofcourse, appears in the painting.
I had also blacked out the room, so that when the family entered, they would see both the dolls house and puppet theatre lit up and shown off in all their glory.
I also introduced then to Muffin the Mule and Mr Turnip and I fear at that point I may have lost them slightly. In my enthusiasm to do a good show I may have over complicated matters. A thing to remember, the next time I have any young people.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Getting Bigger?

The house next door is up for sale. How I wish we could afford to buy it, so we can burst through and make Ted Coney's Family Portraits even bigger. I certainly need more walls to hang my pictures on.
The family are selling it as one house but it is already divided into two flats and I would love to buy the bottom one. I have recklessly indicated that we would be interested in buying, but if it came to it, we would have to do some hard thinking about whether it would make us penniless. Still, it is quite fun to daydream about what could be and even, if I keep working, what might be possible in the next twenty years.

Monday, 2 May 2011

I Made It, But Only Just

To publise the opening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits I agreed to take the Morris Minor to the Eel Day celebrations last Saturday. The car is 80 this year and of course my current painting uses it as a time machine (but more about that in another blog) and I know that it certainly draws in the crowds. Anyway, the car had a very flat battery, and after several attempts to charge it up, I was advised to get a new one (a battery that is, not a car). I arranged to collect it on my bike as the battery shop was fairly near the station, where I come into after working in Cambridge. Disaster! I realised that the front tyre of the bike had a puncture, so I had to run home to get our modern car before the shop shut. With the Royal Wedding the next day, I knew the race was onto get the car fixed that afternoon.
I drove onto Jubilee Gardens with some panache and all my gallery signs and leaflets and spent an exhausting day talking about Family Portraits. Ofcourse, it's the Morris they will remember but just maybe, this will lead to more folks coming to visit.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Just Popping Up

Yes, I made it into two local newspapers. The pictures were fine and the headlines made great play on my being 'Ely's First Pop-Up Gallery'. One of the pictures was a bit small, but a copy of it fits nicely onto my new clip displayboard. Will it be enough to bring people into
Ted Coney's Family Portraits in the coming weeks? Someone asked me if it meant I was now doing pop art, so maybe I will need to educate the public more, in the coming months. With my new slogan I can pop down (or out) whenever I please and ofcourse I can open at other times, rather than just Sundays, if I get a booking.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

See You Later, Trafficator

This morning, just as I was about to leave in the Morris for my talk about my paintings, to the Mepal Friendship Group, one of my trafficators fell off. That's indicators to you, but I wondered if it was a bad omen for the day?! No time to stick it back on, so I sped off (well I was doing 25m.p.h.) in search of Mepal. Ofcourse all the elderly ladies enjoyed seeing the car and that broke the ice immediately. Much as I enjoy doing the talk, I do get very nervous about all the technology but infact, it all went smoothly. I think they must have liked it because they have booked to come to Ted Coney's Family Portraits one morning in June. Will we have enough chairs and will they manage the stairs? I need to get organising.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I've just had my photo taken twice in as many days, once for the Standard and the other for the News. It is all good publicity for opening Ted Coney's Family Portraits ofcourse, but I wonder which newspaper will produce the better photo? The young lady from the Standard took my picture very quickly and complemented me on how organised I was. As I want to push the slogan ' Ely's first pop-up gallery', both in the picture and story, I had gathered together all my signs and A-board and put them around the entrance to the garden. The chap from the News took considerably longer, wanting to play with the various boards and having me lean in different positions. It will be interesting to see which looks the most welcoming and making me seem less mad. Do look out for them

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Getting Ready - Upside Down!

Simon came this morning and we were talking so much he hung my new picture upside down! He also completed hanging the family photographs in the hallway. It's taken four years to fill the entire space, floor to ceiling, on every wall. It's now ready for the first visitors of the season. I collected my new flyers and posters the other day and have been giving them out to shops, museums, galleries etc. I have just written a press release, so hope to get at least one local paper to do something on Ted Coney's Family Portraits in the next couple of weeks. I've also been putting out my A-board and new clipframe out at the end of the lane to advertise my reopening. All I need now are a few bookings, but feel quite relaxed about the whole thing this year.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Keeping Up

I have been going through the Electronic Sketchbook recently, in rediness for the reopening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits. I felt I needed to practise what was on each image, so I could say a description of it, before the image changed into the next picture. Last year I couldn't always keep up! Maybe I should learn how to make it go slightly slower. I'll have another try when I am feeling less tied!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Flying In and Flying Out

Yesterday, I was able to send off the rejigged flyer and poster to be printed, ready for the new season of Ted Coney's Family Portraits. Paul of Honest Ideas had made the changes to the words and very kindly changed the pictures around within the keyhole loggo to give the whole thing a fresh look. I have changed the strap line from ' Five generations in thirty minutes' (which always slightly niggled - did people think they only got half an hour for their three quid?) to 'Ely's First Pop-up Gallery' which I feel reflects more what I do (it also means we can 'pop- down' if we have something more exciting on!). I also got the Morris Minor safely back yesterday and very splendid it looks. It is all ready for the opening on the 17th April and also to celebrate its 80th birthday in July (but more of that later)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

On the edge about 'On the Edge'

I devised a lecture about my work several years ago entitled On The Edge which I have played to packed houses in such places as the Custard Factory, Birmingham and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. Although it has it's own page on Ted Coney's Family Portraits website, lately I have not been asked to give it. I decided as one of the stratagies to get the gallery known, I would advertise the lecture in the Women's Institute handbook. Hey Presto! I have my first booking- at Mepal Friendship Club. I am a little nervous, but hopefully if it is a success it may draw more people to visit me. I am also apprehensive about driving the seven miles to Mepal. I hope to go in the Morris Minor but have still not got it back yet from it's respray job. Watch this space

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Surfaces! Surfaces!

Like a good old fashioned painter I usually stretch and prepare the canvases myself. Maybe I am getting lazy or just old, but this time I treated myself to some already prepared ones. I kidded myself that because they were so tiny (yes, my work is getting smaller, like me) they would be difficult and fiddly to prepare, Luckily I had bought one extra canvas to experiment on as disaster struck when I came to stain it with dark brown paint. It was such a horrible greasy, shiny surface that I couldn't acheive a dark colour at all. So I will have to sandpaper each one of the six canvases and then paint on a gesso ground. My aim is to have the first layer of the painting done by the time I open Ted Coney's Family Portraits on 17th April. Have you booked yet?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Clipboard Crazy

One of the things I wanted to change this year for Ted Coney's Family Portraits was the old pinboard I had hanging at the end of the lane to try and explain to the public what it was all about. Everything was held down with large mapping pins and although it worked on still, sunny days, at other times it was a disaster. Often, newspaper cuttings or posters would fly off and I was left scurrying down the road to retreive them. So this year I have invested in a new smart clipboard which will be temporaly chained to the wall with a padlock. However, no such thing existed so I bought the nearest thing and brother David came to my rescue and made changes so it can be used in this location. Hopefully, another problem solved.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Light Over Dark

Last week, Hazel and I went to the big Watercolour exhibition at Tate Britain. There are lots of wonderful pictures there (as well as some rubbish in the last room) and I got some new inspiration for my latest painting 'Dear Reginald Owen'. Instead of working up the Hollywoodland section in pale sepia tones (inspired by the photos of the 1930's) I am going to experiment with painting the first layer in very dark browns (I am still keeping with sepia at the moment) and then moving onto light , more transparent colours for the subsequent overlays. I am going to try burning oranges and cold blues for these two, though it might be a terrible idea, but one can only experiment. Whatever happens, my aim is to have started on the actual canvases by the time Ted Coney's Family Portraits reopens in April.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Popping - Up All Over The Place

This week I received my copy of the new Ely guide, where I am advertising
Ted Coney's Family Portraits for the first time. In it, I revealed my new strapline 'Ely's first pop-up gallery'. I also rang Paul from Honest Ideas to ask him to change my strapline on the posters and flyers before getting them reprinted ready for the opening. Sadly, the Good News Press who did the origional printing has gone out of business, so I need to find someone else. I will also contact Chris at The Internet Marketing Company to change the news item on my web-site to ' Reopening of Ely's first Pop-Up gallery is Sunday is 17th April. Book now'. The W. I. will also get the pop-up treatment as I have got an ad in their handbook as well.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Morris at 8o

I am relieved to report that the Morris Minor passed it's MOT with only a front headlight bulb (which luckily I had) needed. Ofcourse, the brakes needed tightening and the exhaust pipe needed welding but at least I didn't have to hunt around for any spare parts this year. Just as well because the Morris will be 80 in July and I want to use it, to maximise on publicity for
Ted Coney's Family Portraits (especially as I am using it in one of my paintings - see my last blog) - and hopefully make some mony for charity as well. It's first outing will be on Eel Day at the Jubilee Gardens fair. I then hope to do my usual Rides Around the Quad for £1 for charity (which I did on it's 60th and 70th birthdays) Only this time, I am hoping I will be allowed to take people for rides around the Maltings roundabout at Aquafest .

Monday, 7 February 2011

It's Simultanaity!

In the last two weeks I've really tried to make some of the decisions about my latest painting 'Dear Reginald Owen'. I've decided it will be made up of six small canvases (I've even bought them, so no going back) with the images going across all of them in a continuous sweep. I had thought I would start with Hollywoodland houses at one end , gradually changing into our house in Great Shelford and the houses we looked at in Bury St Edmunds and finishing with Ely. Over that I intended to lay an image of the inside of my Morris Minor (which is a time machine moving from 1930's Hollywood to the present day). However, an idea stuck me at 6am this morning that may push my idea of simultanaity even more. I have decided to lay three layers of happenings over each other (Hollywoodland, our house-hunting and the Morris Minor) to show that these events are happening at the same time. I actually discovered the Hollywoodland material (which I believe, belonged to a cousin of my mother's who was trying to get into films in the 1930's) while we were house-hunting a few years ago. And the Morris Minor? Well if it's a time machine it can be in several places at once, can't it?

Saturday, 29 January 2011

In The Frame

I spent a useful day getting things ready for the reopening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits on Monday.OK, it dosn't open until April, but there is still alot to do. I felt I really solved a few problems with my current painting (the subject of another blog next week) and made a few decisions about the size and number of canvases I would need.
I managed to drive the Morris Minor (third time lucky!) to the garage for it's MOT, service and bits done to the bodywork. I also started to select the family photos to be framed and fill up the last remaining wall of the hallway. I decided to have a long thin frame made for the pictures of the hellium balloon farewell to Peggy after her funeral by her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Our Sheringham yaught experience (only model boats!) will also be repesented with a nice photo of all the family about to start another exciting race. Oh, and without being to morbid, I am framing a photo of all 30 members of the family casting Peggy's ashes off Sheringham beach (after which we went for a jolly good meal).

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Saving Cousin Billy

As you enter Ted Coney's Family Portraits you are met by over a 100 family photographs. I had noticed that a large one of Cousin Billy seemed to be turning from sepia (it must be a 100 years old) to bright yellow. A few days later, it had green mould on it and then there was a violent explosion of black mist! I took it off the wall and discovered black mould behind. This is on a wall which has a shower cubicle on the other side. Although it does not appear to be leaking there must be condensation or damp getting through. Luckily, Cousin Billy's face has not yet been affected (it is a full lenghth portrait) otherwise it would be a total distaster. Plumbers have been called and hopefully Johnathan will do what he can to save the rest of the photograph. Cousin Billy died young, so maybe there is an idea in there somewhere for a painting?

Monday, 17 January 2011

A Saviour Cometh

Continuing my quest to get my 1931 Morris Minor through it's MOT before the start of the new season of Ted Coney's Family Portraits, I met a new garage chap called Ian last week who has agreed to help me. I am driving the car to his place on Friday if it will start (it often does if I can catch it unawares!) and if it dosn't he will bring his low loader. He seemed confident that he can help me and I may not need a new exhaust system after all. A great relief!

Monday, 10 January 2011

An Exhaustive Search

Now that Ted Coney's Family Portraits has closed for the winter, there are certain jobs I must do before I reopen in April. One of them is getting the Morris Minor through the MOT before the end of January. To that end, I have been trying to track down a new exhaust system since before Christmas. The trouble is no one seems to know what an exhaust system for a 1931 Morris looks like. I had arranged to drive over to meet Ian who has a garage in Witchford (not to far away) and specialises in Morris Minors, but after an exhausting hour trying to get the car started, I had to give up. Hopefully, Ian will come over here on Thursday and we will see if he can help. As it's the cars 80th birthday this year, I want to get as much publicity as possible for the car and the gallery, and this involves driving in it to public places. Will keep you posted on this one!

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Year, New Painting

This morning , the last day of my holiday, I spent time removing all the achive material and sketchbooks connected with my last painting, from my easle and pinboard. I then put up new stuff to inspire me for my next work, artists references, photographs and the like.
After this was all done very slowly, I made some rather feeble little drawings and paintings of houses from the Hollywoodland era and also our current house in Ely. The painting is all about rediscovering estate agents material from the 1930s while simultaniestly looking for a house ourselves. The Morris (which will be 80 this year) will act as a time machine between the two periods. Happy New Year, by the way!!