Friday, 28 December 2012

The Fourth Hook

About seven years ago I ordered a puppet dog to use in one of my paintings, but for various reasons it never arrived. Last year I switched to another puppet maker and reordered as I had a definate idea of how I wanted to use the puppet in my latest painting 'Love That Dares'. As I also wanted to display him as part of  Ted Coney's Family Portraits, last March I asked Simon  to put in a fourth hook  (the other three puppets were already in situ) in the ceiling to hang him from.
It was only on Boxing Day evening that I finally got to open him and once the family has moved out of the guest room, I can display him in his alloted space. You'll be able to see the puppet once I start to post the latest stages of the painting on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website, later next month.
 Happy New Year , by the way.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Not In Time For Christmas

I'd like to be annoucing that the new on-line print gallery was ready and that you could still order images of my work for Christmas. Sadly, I can't! Nigel did say that he would get the new improved UKPhotoGallery ready for September but although he is nearly there, it has all been disapointingly slow. My new PRINTS FOR SALE page has been ready for a month now and the idea will be that you can click directly from that to my page in the on-line gallery. Nigel will then do all the printing, posting and payment and all I have to do is sign the print. I'll let you know via this blog when it is finally up and running but in the meantime you may need to go and buy your presents elsewhere. Happy Christmas!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Top Secret Santa

I'v always tried to get as much free publicity for Ted Coney's Family Portraits as I could as I knew it was the only way to get visitors coming.  Even when I write to the newspapers, although I care passionately about the issues I am promoting, I also have half an eye on the image of my name as I know it helps to keep it in the public domain (even if its only. 'not that Ted Coney again')

Well,  all that went out of the window when I was asked to play Father Christmas yesterday at a concert in the Maltings! The children took it all so seriously (as did I) that I couldn't possibly use the experience to promote me or the gallery in anyway.
Was I any good? Well, I was just recovering from a nasty cold which has left me a bit deaf. What with the noise from the concert, the heat of the costume and the shy voices of the children, I had to play an old befuddled Father Christmas just to get through it. Someone did say I was the best Santa the'd had, though.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Regrets - I've Got A Few

Readers of my blog may remember that I was invited to be Artist In Residence way back last summer by Jeremy at Primavera and was due to start about now. Well, after changing his mind
 several times, it's  off again. I was a bit cross the first time, but I guess I've got used to it by now. Am I disappointed? I did see it as a way of promoting Ted Coney's Family Portraits over the winter and I was rather looking forward to meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury who was reputedly living next door. On the other hand, did I really want to trudge into Cambridge every Friday , even if I didn't feel like painting, when I could be working in my nice warm studio here? Jeremy did do me one big favour though. I worked alot harder over the summer planning my new painting, 'Love That Dares',
knowing that I would have to paint it in full public view when I started at the gallery.
However, You will still be able to see it's progress from the comfort of YOUR home, as I will be posting photos , as it develops, on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page, after Christmas.

Monday, 3 December 2012

An Early Christmas

This weekend we had Christmas with all the family. On Saturday we prepared the vegatables and put up the tree. In the evening, ten of us ate roast turkey with all the trimmings and opened presents. afterwards.On Sunday we had more relatives for a buffet lunch. This was because Leo and his partner Paul went off to Thailand and New Zealand today, probably for a year. I did feel a bit sad but I stoically got on with my painting about them -  'Love That Dares', after they had gone. At present I am preparing the canvases with various textures using old rags and sponges. This is because I want to create a camerflague background on which to paint the figures. Life goes on. Tomorrow I am going to another turkey dinner.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Farewell Tour

Yesterday, I did my last Ted Coney's Family Portraits tour of the season. I am finishing slightly early this year because next weekend we are cooking Christmas Dinner for all the children and grandchildren before Leo and Paul go off to New Zealand for a year. Obviously they all need somewhere to stay while they are with us, so everything has to be moved to get the beds out. The thought of moving  all the plinths and showcases back the week after just for one or two more tours was too much to think about!
One of my visitors yesterday was Linda and this was her fourth tour so I had to pick my subject quite carefully. For the last two weeks I have done the 'Journeys' tour and  hope  visitors found it interesting.
 The day started badly however, as it was very windy and I attempted to put one of my signs out, chained to my bicycle (the bike is an important element in this tour because of my 800  mile cycle ride to Scotland and subsequent painting 'Diamond Sutra'). Anyway, the sign soon came crashing down so I had to abanden that and hoped it wasn't a bad omen for the day.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

To Long - Even For Me

To my surprise there was an article about Ted Coney's Family Portraits in the local paper this week. I had thought about contacting the Weekly News to publisise the last few weeks before I close for the winter but as I am nearly fully booked, I didn't bother. However, it was nice to get the extra publicity, even though there were three mistakes in the text. The quick sketch I was holding in the accompanying photo was referred to as 'the painting', and it said that the price of admission for under eights was £2.It should have read 'students' as normally I don't encourage children to come, being  too boring for them. The third error was the news that each tour lasts TWO hours - can you imagine!? Hazel told me not to worry though, as she reckoned that most people only look at the pictures.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A Grand Tour, Lad ?

 I did my 'Journey's' tour when I had visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits, last weekend. One of the paintings I talked about was 'Grand Tours', a work involving four journeys I made with four members of the family, each one with a different mode of transport. I also explained where the title of the painting came from, and in this case there are two reasons. Firstly, because in the 18th and 19th centuries, artists would go on a 'Grand Tour', usually abroad and this was my own grand tour. Secondly, because I am origionally from Yorkshire we use 'grand' as a way of explaining that we like something. Immediately, it brought a smile to two of my visitors, who knew exactly  what I meant. It turned out they were from Leeds! 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Do It Yourself

I had ordered two 'Fine Detail' canvases for my next painting 'Love That Dares'. However, after waiting three weeks for them to arrive, I went to see what the matter was. I was told by Windsor and Newton that they might be available in two weeks time but they could not be certain. I had hoped to get them free on my Tindalls (local art shop) reward card as I had built up £75 but had to change my plans. However, I still spent the money on more primer, the largest tube of white oil paint I could find - and one or two interesting looking brushes.
Anyway, I ordered canvas and stretchers direct from a supplier I have been using for years and they arrived the next day. I've put the stretchers together, stretched the canvas and given then the first coat - using rabbitskin size. When this is dry I will give them two layers of primer and then I shall be ready to paint. I plan to stain the canvas with oil paint and begin the first of several sponged textures to build up the background.
It's actually very satisfying, making the canvases yourself - and certainly quicker!

Friday, 26 October 2012

It's Finished!

Yes, it's finally finished. My painting 'Another Year' that is. I've been painting it from 24th February - 13th October and started making preliminary sketches and taking photographs of Ely Cathedral from the previous June. Nigel from UKPHOTOGALLERY came to take pictures of it yesterday, with a view to adding it to prints of my work for sale on his website. You can now see the final version on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of  Ted Coney's Family Portraits website, though it will move to my new PRINTS FOR SALE page, once Daniel has got it up and running.
I had the mad notion that I might ask the Dean and Chapter if they would like to exhibit the painting for a while next year, in return for a portion of the money raised from each print sold, going to the Cathedral.
The painting is about birth and death after all, and although it is not  a traditional view of the building, it does (dare I say it?) maybe use the structure in a different way. In the meantime, you can still see the painting here on Waterside, until I close on 25th November.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Fools Gold ?

I  decided to do my  'Puppets and Dolls' tour, when I opened Ted Coney's Family Porraits last weekend. This was for one of my most loyal visitors, who had already been twice before. I knew she would be interested in this one, as she is an artist herself and often weaves interesting stories into her fabric artworks. At the last minute another couple arrived who had not booked and although it was nice to see them, it threw me slightly. One of the paintings on the tour is 'Fools Gold' - a sad tale about some relatives of my mothers, but one which is difficult to tell. As I used the dolls house, which is on display, it seemed a pity not to include it, but more arkward when you are not sure how people will react. Anyway I went for it - they did write 'beautiful storytelling paintings', so hopefully they wern't to shocked.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Popping Up And Down

I've been looking at my diary and there are not many Sundays left before I close
Ted Coney's Family Portraits for the winter. Only five infact, though I could also do the odd Saturday as well if anyone asked me. The beauty of being a pop-up gallery is I can be a bit flexible.
My last tour will be on 25th November though and then I will be starting as artist in residence at Primavera Gallery in Magdalene Street, Cambridge on Fridays from 7th December. Still alot to do before I start, but gradually getting organised. My two new canvases have been ordered, my experiments of how I am going to paint them continue and one of my other works ' Walking Sticks ' is being reframed to diplay in the gallery. I am also hoping to get my current work ' Another Year' put on a laptop, so I can show from begining to end, how one of my paintings have been put together (you can see this on my website - nearly finished).

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Another Year, Another Day.

Have been trying to resolve all the problems with the outer edge of my painting 'Another Year', during the last few weeks. Daniel has posted some of them on the News and Reviews page of my website but have taken more photos of my struggles, since then, which you will see later.
I had wanted to paint tiny marks of dappled light near the top of the painting, which I had recorded in the Cathedral at different time of day. However, in my painting they just looked odd and raher fussy, so I got rid of them. Now I am trying glazes of transparent colour, which seemed to go well until I tryed to rub them back too enthusiasticly. Only the little daps of colour I had erased earlier started to show through, but not in a good way. Will try again tomorrow when the paint is dry

Thursday, 27 September 2012

An Ironic Snow Angel

You can finally start to order prints of my paintings and drawings from UKPhoto Gallery again. Although the website isn't up yet and running yet, Nigel has started to print the work. I signed a copy of one canvas from the series, 'Snow Angels and No Angels' the other day for my sister-in-law Julia, who wanted the painting which had been named after her. (There are fifteen paintings, each one named after a different female member of the family). I used the image of the snow angel, (which I saw as a negative image, as the snow is  removed) in different ways but for Julia it symbolised the fact that she was estranged from us for over twenty years. Happily she is back with us now, but it did seem ironic that she wanted a copy. Maybe she liked the passion flower, which is the other image in the painting.
(The whole set of paintings can be seen on the Home page of my website

Friday, 21 September 2012

Shed A Tear For Richard

Last weekend  a french family visited Ted Coney's Family Portraits. While I was showing them my painting ' In Three Our Kingdom ' I started to explain the significance of the empty plate on the table. The story behind the painting was about my mother, who summoned her three sons and instructed them to start dividing up all her possessions, as she had decided to go and live in sheltered accommodation. As we all went for a meal first, I used the image of the table in the painting, to show how we divided up these objects, like portions of food . Only my eldest brother, Richard kept refusing to have anything when it was his turn to choose - hence the empty plate. Only, he didn't need any possessions, as although none of us guessed it at the time, within six months, he would be dead. At this point in my tour, one of my guests seemed so moved, she started to cry, which I am not sure is a good or bad thing! She was laughing later, so hopefully the experience wasn't too traumatic.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Hanging In The Balance

Last night I was the guest speaker of a local rotary club and my topic was ofcourse,
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits. After an excellant meal with lots of wine I gave a short impromtu speech to an all male audience. I chose to start with my tale about the Morris in the Cathedral (you can see the pictures on my Facebook page) because I thought it might interest them. My only visual aid was my flyers which I handed around at the begining. The image on them is my painting 'Diamonds' which is partly seen through my keyhole loggo. I remined them  that anyone over sixty (like me) might remember the character 'Mr Turnip' from early T.V. which appears in the painting to repreent my childhood. After my talk one man came up to me and said he could never visit as the sight of seeing Mr Turnip hanging (his upper body was hidden by the keyhole) upset him too much. I tried to explain that it was only a marionette and in the painting he appeared to be floating (admittedly I had decided to omit the strings) but he wouldn't be placated. He seemed genuinely disturbed by it, reminding one of how an image can affect people in different ways..

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Quacks and Cracks

This week we have had one of the builders in from next door to fill the cracks in our walls. They wern't serious but it was all part of an agreement we had with the new owner, Mike, that once all the work had been finished he would tidy things up at our side. Naturally, I am disapointed not to have been able to buy part of the adjacent property to expand Ted Coney's Family Portraits, but there is still the land around the back, so am still hopeful.
Anyway, the plasterer came and we carefully took down two big pictures, so he could do the business.
And the quacks? I'm afraid I have been in the news again, though not of my making. There is an new exhibition at the Babylon Gallery all about Ducks and I was interviewed by the artist, who wanted to get local oppinions on them. I happened to say that I often talk to the ducks as I cycle by and she seemed keen to having me repeat it on film. This now appears on the ADEC website and probably  in the exhibition as well. I fully expect the next time I am quoted in the papers, it will say 'The mad Ely artist, Ted Coney'. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Junior Tours

We've just had our grandchildren staying for a few days and Barnaby, who is four has just begun to notice my paintings. He particulaly wanted to know about the painting that is hanging in his bedroom entitled 'The Puppets Dream' and although I don't usually do a Ted Coney's Family Portraits tour for anyone under eight years old, I did feel duty bound to tell him about it, as well as I could. I explained that Hazel and I had become puppets while the puppets  had become real. This reality had come from an actual dream I'd had of Princess Anne being swallowed by a whale as she was reviewing the Fleet. All was well however, because she soon appears out of it's blowhole, hat intact and still waiving to the assembled crew. With the marvalous acceptance children have, Barnaby said 'Oh, I see' and carried on playing with his toys.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Walking Sticks - By Bicycle

One of the last paintings not to have been framed by Jonathan is 'Walking Sticks' and I had intended to get it done when Ted Coney's Family Portraits closed for the winter. However, given that I am going to be artist in residence at Primavera from early December, I shall need some of my finished work to adorn the walls of the gallery before then. As there is only a limited space available, which will only take small or long, thin work, I decided to use these  paintings which depict four family walks I made several years ago. As the colours of each painting is inspired by an object we found on our journey, I have decided to extend that into the frame, changing it from the rather nasty, silver they were before. So the other week, I strapped all four paintings to my bicycle and although they did rather stick out of my basket, I managed to transport them safetly to Cambridge for framing. I didn't mind if the glass got broken, but obviously didn't want to kill anyone (or me, for that matter ) along the way.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

If The Boats Come In

I've just been on our family weekend in Sheringham with 22 members coming together. A smaller number this year, but good fun all the same. One of the things we always do is race the model boats (you should be able to see some of the photos on my Facebook page soon) on the victorian boating pond. I still have the boats Leo and Max raced as children, so these are about 30 years old. We bought Poppy one from the same shop last year. As well as the races, I got everyone to put their boats in the water, fairly close together, so I could photograph them. This was for a painting I want to do in the future entitled ' If The Boats Come In' which has a fairly ambiguous theme but will be suggesting that some boats (or people) will always be with us, while others maybe need pulling in, or are they unravelling and slipping away? To this end, Julia has already prepared some identical boats made of wool. Just before I left I also made some sketches of the sides of the boating pond, as I want to compare that with the open seas 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Just Passing By

I was just passing by - honest! though I know no one will believe me. I had suggested to the town centre team, two years ago that we should fill the vacant shops with art. I had seen it done in other recession sticken cities and thought it a good idea. I was delighted therefore, when I happen to look at one of these shops in Ely to see they had mounted an exhibition of work from Ely College, and very good it was too.
Just as I was admiring the work, up pops a photographer from the Cambridge News and asks if he can take my photo, looking in the window.
'I was really looking for a pretty girl, but you're an artist, so thats even better' he remarked, flatteringly.
Anyway it isn't a very flattering photo (you can see it and read the story on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page, if you really want to) but I guess it's all good publicity for
Ted Coney's Family Portraits and it does describe me as 'Ely Artist'.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

In Search Of Immortality

Last week I went to an interesting exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum entitled ' The Search For Immortality'. It was all about the Han dynasty in China and their belief in the preparation for the afterlife. I went because I had an hour to spare, and Hazel had told me how good it was. What I hadn't registered, was how useful it could be for my next painting 'Love That Dares' until I entered the first room. I had been wrestling with the problem of how to make the animals (in my painting) become part of the background without resorting to the obvious camerflague of nature and also felt uneasy about the bright colours used on some of the Muffin the Mule characters.
However, my encounter with the wonderful stone horses who were guardians of the emperors, gave me lots of ideas. I liked the idea that nearly all the painted colour had drained away, though traces of it remained, reducing almost everything to the textured stone. As well as solving the problem in my work of individual animals standing out I also liked the notion that it looked like all personality had gone and everything had become the same. Further on in the exhibition, I marvelled at  a gold belt buckle where all the finely carved animals intergrated into a total design, rather than standing out from each other.
Whether I can translate all these ideas into paint, remains to be seen, but I have prepared a stained practise canvas (which I aim to scrub back with a small scrubbing brush) ready to have a go.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Going, Going, Gone - On Tour

Readers of my blog may remember that a couple bid for a tour around Ted Coney's Family Portraits at a charity auction in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust some time ago. Well, this Sunday they came, and I hope they enjoyed it, particularly as it was part of their wedding anniversary celebrations. I had thought I might do them my 'Anniversary' tour, but not all the anniversarys were happy ones, so I decided against it. Also, I had another couple of people as well, so I needed to make it fit for everyone. In the end I did the 'Time' tour which is always a good introduction to the house. One of the guests had just retired after being a guide around the Cathedral for 35 years. She told me that at the begining, which made me quite nervous.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A Star Is Born (Or Cobbled Together)

I got a call from Radio Cambridge  to ask  if I could take part in a live interview later that evening in a programme about Stars. Aparently my Morris Minor is now a star having driven through Ely Cathedral on two wheels (well almost). When it's a live broadcast and you are nervous, you find yourself saying the most extroidinary things. At one point I heard myself relating the tale from last sundays opening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits, when I tided away a load of breadrolls, wrapped in polythene, into the oven, before visitors arrived.  Later, we decided that the weather was to bad for a barbaque so Hazel unwittingly switched the oven on. Needless to say we had to scrape the polythene off before we could serve the rolls to our guests later in the evening.
You should be able to hear the interview on my News and Reviews page, once Daniel has set it up, along with a feature from the Hills Road Newsletter about the same event in the Cathedral. And ofcourse you can see all the photos on the facebook page linked to the website.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Love That Dares

I've been working on preliminary sketches for my next painting this week. After a 20 year gap I am going to be using Muffin the Mule and his  friends again. I first used Muffin for a painting called 'David's Journey' (which you can read about on the News and Reviews page on my website) but now needed animals again after seeing an exhibition about Charles Darwin and his theories.
Leo had been asking me for years, when was I going to do another painting about him (my last painting recorded his birth -  'Lifeline To Leo') and I always replied that he needed to do something  amazing first. When he announced several years ago that he was gay and had found a wonderful partner in Paul, I felt very proud of him. I hope my painting will do him justice and over the next year you will be able to see the results.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Art Club

We've just been on holiday with my grandson, Barnaby and family. Barnaby is four years old and great fun. Every morning after breakfast we worked in our sketchbooks - I had brought an old one of mine for him to use. Each day I introduced new art materials and let him experiment. I called it Art Club and after the first session I waited for him to request it again. While the rest of the grown-ups got ready for the day (cycling , swimming, beach games etc.) he worked attentively on some new idea or observation. What I hadn't expected was that he would want yesterdays materials as well as the new ones. In the end he had soft pastels, pencil crayons, watercolour, stumps, rubber pencils, graphite, collage - talk about mixed media!!! So, a different kind of family portraits this week - but very interesting.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Popping Up With The Archbishop

I am going to be Artist in Residence at Primavera, Magdeline Street, Cambridge when
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits closes in December, until April 2013. It is a prime site because it is opposite Kettles Yard and on a very busy crossroad for tourists. Clearly, I shall have to get all my preparation done for my next painting, before then, so I have the canvases on the go. There is also room to diplay some of my finished pieces, so need to think carefully about what those will be. The committment is to be working in the gallery one day a week, so will be moving my studio there for the duration. As 'Ely's First Pop-up Gallery', I like the idea that I shall be 'popping-up' in another location over the winter. And the Archbishop? Well, the gallery building is owned by Magdeline College and the Archbishop of Canterbury will be taking up residence in the house directly opposite as the new Master of Magdeline at about the same time.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

1984 And All That

It was in 1984 when we lived in Great Shelford that I first opened our house to the public to show off my family paintings. I only charged 40p then (I now charge £3, but you do get a guided tour) and only answered questions if asked. The beginings of what I do now were there even then, because I had a little super eight film which was played every half hour. I now show a looped film as visitors enter the hallway, made up of super eight, video and DVD images. Why all this nostalga for the past? Well, I was part of the Open Studio movement back then and this year I have returned to advertise Ted Coney's Family Portraits in the Open Studio booklet. Ofcourse, the paticipating artists are only open during July whereas I keep going until December, so I am rather hoping people will hang on to their booklets and keep visiting me. I had my first guests yesterday, who were following the Open Studio trail.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Twenty Years On

I've just been to my brother, David's 70th birthday party and I am reminded of his 50th birthday because that was the beginning of a painting I made, entitled 'David's Journey'. You can see it when you visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits. I portrayed a labrynth as a symbol for his life and  used Muffin the Mule to represent David and all the other animals from the same TV programme to represent  members of his family. I used Muffin partly because I was interested in the symbolism attached to animals but also because David and Muffin are about the same age and Muffin was very much an icon of the 1940s and 50s.
Well, I am about to use Muffin again in my next painting, this time for my son Leo.  There is a Charles Darwin twist in the new one, but more about that next month when I get going on the preparatory work.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Across The Divide

In Ely we have a wonderful shop called the Ships Chandler and I have long wanted to buy something from it if only I had an excuse. Anyway, I was passing the other day and saw some tiny white sailing boats in the window and I went in and purchased one. I had used another small model boat in my painting 'In Three Our Kingdom' but it had got lost in the move from Great Shelford. In the painting it is used as a symbol of death - sailing to the other side. I used it to symbolise Richard's death and his lack of interest in earthly goods. I also used another boat, this time sailing in the air, rather like in the Norwegian churches, as a reference to Arthur in a painting after his demise - called 'Encore!' You can see these and learn more when you next visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
P.S. My next but one painting, which is in the planning stage, also uses sailing boats and Julia is knitting me some. This painting will have a slightly jollier theme - all about hope and arrival.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Not Asleep, But Resting

I've been working on my current painting,  'Another Year' today. Not on the canvas to begin with, but making colour sketches on paper, to try and work out how I am going to do the background. I tried two ideas, to help me decide how the colours could fade one into another and how they could match up with the images in the main circle. I then came indoors to look at my books on Turner and Monet and they had all the answers. Although I had fallen asleep infront of the T.V. last night while watching a programme on Turner,(annoying presenter) something must have sunk in, in a subliminal way. To try and convey light falling on different surfaces what better artists to study?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Two Wheels On My Wagon

Yes, I really did go out on two wheels in my 1931 Morris Minor, when I left Ely Cathedral last week after attending the Business Exhibition there, to advertise my gallery, Ted Coney's Family Portraits. They decided after doing a bit more measuring, that rather than going out through the back entrance,  there was a real chance I could go out of the front doors! However, it was decided to put a plank over one of the pillars so that I had two wheels on the ground and two much higher up. This meant that I was steering at a 45 degree angle with about an inch clearence on either side. To add to my embarrisment, the car wouldn't start and although I would have rather enjoyed ringing the AA ('I've broken down in Ely Cathedral') the staff seemed very keen to get rid of me. In the end they bump started the car along the pavement. I think my exhibition was a great success, although, understandably, people were more interested in the Morris rather than my paintings - I had two prints showing two paintings involving my Morris and a series of pictures to show my current work in progress 'Another Year' - which shows images of Ely Cathedral (which you can see on my website, News and Reviews page). You can also see one photo of the car in the Cathedral on my Facebook page - more to follow

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Jubilee Blog

Yes, I really did have tea with the Queen last week - but along with 8,000 other people. Hazel , Max and I had a great day, eating cucumber sandwiches and drinking iced coffee. We managed to see most of the Royal Family close up thanks to Max acting as our human periscope. He could see over the heads of everyone else and direct his tiny parents to the best places to stand. It made me think of the paintings I have done over the years, involving the Royals. ' Family Funeral' was a tryptich painted as a responce to Churchill's funeral, with the Royal Family on one side of the coffin and my family on the other. 'Prince, King, Exile' didn't involve my family at all but showed what happend to Edward VIII once he married Mrs. Simpson. 'The Puppets Dream' is a painting about a dream I had many years ago, showing Princess Anne reviewing the navy. She fell into the water but emerged moments later, still waiving and hat still intact. She is real while Hazel and I appear as puppets. You can still see that one today, when you visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits.  

Friday, 25 May 2012

Drive- In Hell !

It was just as well that Look East or Anglia News didn't take up the offer of filming my Morris Minor arriving at Ely Cathedral this morning to promote Ted Coney's Family Portraits. I had enough stress just trying to drive the car inside the building to worry about anything else. There was about an inch on either side of the doorway of the Cathedral, which was scarry enough, but then I had to negotiate down a ramp which consisted of two narrow bits of wood. Max was brilliant at keeping me calm , helping me navigate this hazardous journey and making sure the car (and me) came to no harm. The best bit was then driving down the centre isle and taking my place at the entrance of the West door. The exhibition is on until next Thursday(although I may have to leave the car there for ever) so do drop by, if you are in Ely

Friday, 18 May 2012

Drive- In Heaven

I've just heard that I am going to be allowed to drive my Morris Minor inside Ely Cathedral after all!
Ted Coney's Family Portraits is taking part in a business fair in Ely Cathedral next week and I requested to take the car as part of my display. However, I was origionally told that this was very unlikely, so I have been planning a more conventional table- top display ever since. Ofcourse, I want to include photographs of the different stages of my latest painting 'Another Year' since it features Ely Cathedral at different times of day (you can see this growing on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website) but feel I must also show some of the paintings which include the Morris as well. I'm just off to measure the car, so they can decide which entrance to open for me. I rather fancy the great west door which they usually only open for the Queen, but musn't get too carried away.

Friday, 11 May 2012


Jasper (my mother's old cat who has lived with us for the last nine years) always delighted visitors to
Ted Coney's Family Portraits, even when they had to step over him to get into my studio.  He died this week and will be greatly missed. We think he was about 20 years old and was demanding and grumpy to the end. There was nothing he liked better, in his twilight years, than tottering over to the studio to soak up the midday sun.
The only good thing, is that we can now get the carpets cleaned, as I was begining to feel a bit ashamed of them. Jasper would have hated all the noise and the desruption ofcourse, so at least I am spared the telling off he would have given me afterwards. 

Monday, 7 May 2012


BOGOF - buy one, get one free incase you didn't know! I've become part of the Greater Anglia trains offer and Ted Coney's Family Portraits is officially in the booklet. This means when you pick up a voucher and show you have made a rail journey to get here, I have to give two of you, a tour for the price of one person. Or should I give one person two tours for the price of one? Hopefully they won't demand it consecutively. We shall have to see how it goes.........

Friday, 27 April 2012

What The Papers Say

Ted Coney's Family Portraits is in the papers again. I needed to create some publicity to let people know I was open again, so decided to feature my new painting 'Another Year' in local  newspaper stories. The Cambridge News photographer came first and was very keen to get a photo in natural light, so we ended up in the kitchen. The final picture shows me holding one of my 'dusk' studies of the Cathedral with my unfinished canvas behind. Helen from the Standard was interested in the models of the Cathedral (if only she knew what anguish they had caused me) and decided to include these in her photo.
You can see the results  on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website.
I was also due a visit from Debbie, the editor of the Ely Standard, who was going to include me in her weekly newsletter. However, she rang at the last minute to cancel, due to other committments. If only she had seen me, minutes before her impending visit, frantically clearing up cat sick she might have wondered why I tried to sound so calm on the phone.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Free Index Or Trip Advisor?

As an added encouragement for people to book, we've added Free Index and Trip Advisor to every page of my  website. I say 'we' but ofcourse it's been Daniel who has done all the work. Already, I've got about four comments, all posted on each site. This includes a new visitor who came to my opening tour of the season last weekend. I am too modest to quote it here, but you can see it for yourself by clicking on
Ted Coney's Family Portraits.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Singing (and shivering) In The Rain

The other day I took part in a Showcase event to promote Ely on the Market Square. Ofcourse my main focus was to advertise Ted Coney's Family Portraits as it reopens for it's forth season. As usual, I took the Morris Minor as I know it always attracts attention, and dutifully set up my A board and signs beside it. Unfortunately, it was freezing cold which made standing around a bit hard (and annoying after all the lovely weather) and then it began to rain. Although we had quite a few people around, they quickly disapeared once the weather began to turn nasty. Was it worth it?  Only time will tell, but as I am a firm believer that more has to happen on the market square, I would have been a hypoctite not to have been involved.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Another Year Takes Shape

You can now see, my painting 'Another Year ' as a work in progress on my website -   It is on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page and Daniel has done a terrific job in making each stage of the painting fade into the next one. We have also put the date on each stage of the painting - mind, this may be a bad thing as it does rather put the pressure on. Sometimes, I don't always paint regularly as I do have four other part time jobs to go to!
At the moment, I am getting endless jobs done before Ted Coney's Family Portraits reopens on 15th April. Just off to the tourist office to take some posters and getting packed up for the Showcase day in Ely Market Square tomorrow.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Bit Of A Dilemma

I woke up with the niggling feeling that although I had inspected and approved the colour of the backing to the frame of my painting 'Dear Reginold Owen', maybe I was wrong. I had only seen it through a layer of bubble wrap, but it seemed too light to me and anyway, I was sure I had asked for it to be a sepia colour. I knew it would be to late, if I mentioned it when Jonathan brought it round, so decided to tackle the problem head on. I rang Trumpington Gallery and explained my dilemma. Nothing is to much trouble for the wonderful staff there and back came the reply that ofcourse it could be changed. Good thing it was, because what no one had realised (including me) was that one of the canvases had been put on upside down! As promised, Jonathan arrived with it last night, ahead of Simon arriving,  to put  the new pictures and photographs up on Saturday. Well, I now think it looks stunning - see what you think when you next visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits

Monday, 26 March 2012

Photographs Galore!

For Christmas, I bought Hazel and I a digitol photo frame so we can see lots of pictures of the family more or less continously. I have this in the hallway, so visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits can share in this pleasure as they are preparing to take their tour. It is all part of the sheer bombardment of  photographic images (including the film) of the family before going on to view the paintings. As visitors will know, the walls  of the hall are crammed with photos except for one space which has a framed poster. (and even this has family portraits on it) Well, now I have another home for this (on the back of the door), so before I open in April, my mission is to fill up this space as well. For my birthday today (yes, Happy Birthday!) I asked for and received,  four more frames to fill up this last little space. All photographs from now on will have to be digitol.

Friday, 16 March 2012

A Work In Progress

The other week, I finally started my new picture  'Another Year'. After drawing the large circles, I stained parts of the canvas with the colours I hope will glow through and began to paint on top. So far I have been doing the left hand side which shows the light on the  stone walls gradually fading. After several sessions, I think I have got it working OK - it will do for the moment and I will return to it later. I like to get all parts of the painting working together so I can keep reassessing what needs to be done next.
This time I am taking photographs of the painting at the end of each session, so that visitors to my website will be able to see the work as it progresses. This should go onto my News and Reviews page, once I reopen Ted Coney's Family Portraits on 15th April. I will let you know when it goes live.   

Saturday, 10 March 2012

In The Frame

I've just been to view my two new frames at the Trumpington Gallery to see how they are coming along. As Ted Coney's Family Portraits is open from 15th April I needed to put a bit of pressure on, as Jonathan, lovely as he is, can sometimes take several years to finish a frame, never mind several weeks. I know he does work for the Queen now (though I knew him before he was famous) I still need to know they are nearly ready. The good news is that the frame for my latest  painting 'Dear Reginald Owen' is finished but needs colouring. Rita, who is in charge of that department and I both agreed it should be sepia tones to match the old Hollywood feel, though maybe with a hint of gold showing through. The other painting 'My Dolls House' which was last framed over thirty years ago, looked less finished, though we did agree that the frame should be charcoal in colour. But we shall see, as Jonathan often sirprises me at the last minute.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Fit The Criteria?

I am going to advertise Ted Coney's Family Portraits at a showcase event on Ely market square on  4th April. However, I was very nearly not allowed to take part. I had seen an advert about this event for local traders and businesses who were 'squarrelled away in Ely's sidestreets' (their words) and I thought this fitted my description perfectly. However, when I rang to book a place, I was told quite firmly that I was an attraction, not a shop (which is true) and thus, didn't fit the criteria. When I asked if this really mattered, as I still needed to advertise the reopening of the gallery in a public place, I was told that if they let me take part, all the other attractions would want to also!! I said as politely as I could, that as there were only about four attractions in Ely, I didn't think there would be a mad rush for places.
A couple of phone calls later they confirmed I had a place. My plan is not to use one of their market stalls but to take the Morris and my A board and to hand out flyers from there. Worrying thought. I hope the Morris starts, after all the fuss I've made.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Mould Of Time

I try to get any 'house' jobs done while Ted Coney's Family Portraits is closed for the winter. Last week we hopefully, finally, got the mould sorted out in the living room. One of the problems of living in a 300 year old cottage is that wet seeps into the walls and then starts to show. In this case it was hidden partly by the bookcase, but was beginning to creep alarmingly near some of the paintings. The main problem was the paving stones (owned by our neighbours) which  were touching the outside of our wall and causing the rainwater to get trapped there. Luckily, the people next door were very understanding and the stones have now been removed. Ross came to temporaly remove the built in bookcases and I cleaned the wall of mould. I then gave it a quick spray with my white blocker (which miraculously hides all stains) and the job was done. Last year it was the hallway that developed mould, I wonder where it will strike next time? 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Comings And Goings

At the beginning of the week I ordered stretchers and canvas for my new painting, ' Another Year'. It only took a couple of days to arrive and I was able to put it all together before going off to visit the grandchildren. At the end of the week Jonathan arrived (in the middle of the night as usual) to take away my current painting ' Dear Reginald Owen ' to be framed. I agonised about how far I wanted the gaps to be inbetween each canvas, so I hope I got it right. He also took away a much earlier painting ' My Dolls House ', which had been framed by my dear old dad, some thirty years earlier. As part of my quest to get the whole collection to the same professional standard of framing, I usually try and get one extra picture framed each year. Jonathan has been given the deadline of the end of March to get the framing done, so they can be on display, when Ted Coney's Family Portraits reopens on 15th April 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Painting in Reverse

I've been working in the Cathedral again for my new painting, ' Another Year. ' I have decided to do an inner circle (did I tell you the whole painting is a circle?) using the image of the lantern from the inside. Talk about suffering for your art. I practically had to lay on my back to get a decent view of it. Just as
I had nearly finished painting it, a friendly verger appeared and suggested I use their mirror stand to work from, rather than stretching my neck backwards. This seemed a good idea, especially as it had a lower level mirror for disabled visitors who could look through it, while still remaining in their wheelchairs. Soon he trundled the thing towards me, after wheeling it the full length of the building. It was only then that I realised that it would be no good, as the image would be in reverse! Never mind, I need to return again on a sunnier day to do another picture, as I want to capture how the coloured light from the windows bouces off the other side of the structure. Although doing that in reverse might cause me even more problems?!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Turning A New Page

Daniel has just finished putting together a new page for my Website entitled GROUP VISITS and this is the first extra page since Ted Coney's Family Portraits was set up over three years ago. This added page also incorporates all the information about visits made by schools and a new section on how students could access information from our collection of art books for their projects, both written and practical.
While Daniel was reorganising the website, he also put the fifteen paintings which make up 'Snow Angels and No Angels' in a rolling sequence, on the HOME page. What do you think? 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Up For Auction

I always try to get involved in community events, partly because it is a way of advertising
Ted Coney's Family Portraits and partly because it makes living in Ely a bit more interesting. I have reasantly helped organise an art competition/exhibition at the Babylon Gallery (which is close by) and it was nice to get an aknowlegement in the local papers (along with other shops and businesses) for the small donation that I made to towards the prizes. However, the latest request is a slightly new departure for the business.
Hereward Rotary are organising an Auction as part of a fund raising Barn Dance for the Teenage Cancer Trust. They have asked me to donate free tickets to one of my tours when I reopen in the spring. Will someone see this as a treasured prize I wonder? The event is being led by David Palmer, who I reckon can sell anything. He did after all, auction one of my paintings, 'An Extra Snow Angel' for charity, several years ago.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Good For Another Eighty Years

While Ted Coney's Family Portraits is closed, I always try and get as many jobs done as possible before I reopen. One of those jobs is getting the Morris Minor through it's M.O.T. before visitors arrive. It has to be said that it is one of the stars of the show (or tours) so it must be there, looking respendent in it's garage. This is especially so in the car's 80th year and also because I will have my painting
 'Dear Reginald Owen', which uses the Morris as a time machine, on display for the first time. Anyway, you will be pleased to know that the car passed with flying colours, with a dodgy horn and a loose lead on one indicator being the only things which needed attention. The horn would start blasting off even without me going near it, which caused some stares as I went sailing past. The car is now safetly back so I will need to give it a little clean before April.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Artist References

As I tell my students, sometimes another artist's work will give them a direct clue as to how their own work can proceed, while other artist's are just plain inspiring, even though there is nothing obvious that can help them. So it was, when I visited two exhibitions last week in London. The Grayson Perry exhibition reaffirmed my belief that objects can have real power, especially if you have owned them or been aware of them for sometime. This is something that I have often tried to show through my paintings of family life, for instance in my painting '2001' which featured our Morris Minor and other objects we own.
The other exhibition was of the landscape artist, John Martin. His dynamic use of light is giving me lots of ideas of how to paint, 'Another Year' which attempts to show segments of Ely Cathedral both at dawn and dusk. I know it sounds a bit corny but with Martin's help I might be able to pull off something more exciting.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Forever Christmas

I have just opened the last door of my painting 'Limners' and then closed all 37 doors until I restart
Ted Coney's Family Portraits again in April. We open one a day from 1st December. This is because the painting is about the thiry seven days of our Christmas and we have reached the point where it is all over for another year. Or is it? I shall be putting a christmas pudding I found in my stocking, (yes, we all got stockings this year) into the dolls house along with a minature stationary set given by Isobel. Although the dolls house was used for a painting of mine entitled 'Fools Gold' I have since carried on collecting for it, especially items to do with Christmas. This is so that the house appears frozen in time on Christmas Day, with the turkey (and now a christmas pudding!) and presents still not opened, under the tree.

Monday, 2 January 2012

An Arty Day

Between Christmas and New Year I had one day to catch up on my painting. I worked on
 'Dear Reginald Owen' for a while (yes, it is still not finished) disolving one form into another by using opaque and translucent paint. I kept laying out all six canvases on the floor of the studio to see how they looked together and trying to decide what to do next. I glazed over the sky one more time and suddenly I knew - it was finished! (that is, until I look at it again tomorrow)
I then put out my model of Ely Cathedral to make some sketches in preparation for my next painting,
 'Another Year'. I drew, using a spotlight to light the model, because I want to echo what I had already done from the real thing - showing the building at dawn and dusk, but from very different angles. I did two rather mediochre drawings in charcoal and pencil but then got lured away to watch the two programmes I had missed over Christmas, 'Outnumbered' and 'Downton Abbey' before they disapeared from BBC Eyeplayer etc.   Happy New Year, by the way.