Thursday, 26 December 2013

No Room At The Inn

Our  cottage was once part of The White Swan pub, 300 years ago. Whilst  feeling that it was the perfect location for Ted Coney's Family Portraits, I have always been frustrated that I have been unable to grow the space any bigger, so far.
However, the land at the back of us is up for planning permission, with a view  to be sold for housing, so I have put a bid in for a small strip of it, to build more gallery space. Frustratingly, they've just withdrawn the planning application, as the sellers need to do more searches on the land, so we will just have to wait a bit longer to see what happens.
I have also been exploring opening up the loft for gallery space, as, with it's beamed roof, it would make an exciting place to show pictures. Although the lady from the conservation  department of the Council shared my vision and didn't have a problem with us making changes, the building regulations chap was dead against it, on health and safety grounds. The problem is our open staircase with only one route out of the building, should there be a fire. However, I am going to explore the possibility of an outside staircase, to see if I can get the different departments at the Council to agree.
Another idea was to try and buy a downstairs space from the adjoining house (we already have an upstairs room in there, so not as crazy as it sounds). However this all came to nothing when the house which was in two flats, was sold and made into into a family home . We've just heard this house is up for sale again, so who knows, I might be in with another chance?!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Greatest Gig Of All

Ted Coney's Family Portraits has now closed for the winter and I look back over the year and contemplate all the free advertising I've managed to make use of, for my pop-up gallery.
I've had five stories in the local newspapers and have been on the radio twice. I put up displays in the largest building in Ely (the Cathedral) and the smallest (Prickwillow phone box). I had a day, demonstrating painting in our local art shop and drove around the Maltings roundabout in my 1931 Morris Minor, raising money for charity.
However, what could have been my best advertising gig of all time, was sadly, a missed opportunity.
For three nights I have been driven around Ely in an illuminated carriage waiving to enthusiastic crowds and dozens of awestruck children. The clue is in that last phrase. I was playing Father Christmas, infact I WAS Father Christmas, so couldn't reveal my true identity.
Anyway, as Santa would say - A Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!' 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Am I Dead?

Well, it seems to be happening. Not dying (not quite yet) but having a retrospective exhibition. It is to celebrate my 70th birthday in March and it takes place at the Babylon Gallery, here in Ely. It is being curated by Christine and she has already been around to produce a 'long list' of pictures she thinks we should show. I need to start writing captions once I definitely know what will be exhibited.
You can see the blurb about Ted Coney; A Retrospective on the ADEC website and soon there will be a link to it  on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page. What out for more details.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Lucy In The Sky

I am currently planning my next painting 'The Rashamon Effect' and have been getting Tony to help me with effects which are created on the computer. This is  to give the impression that different people are looking at the same view, but viewing it in very different ways.
To represent myself, as a twenty year old youth, I am looking at an image of the living room through a brightly coloured kaleidoscope lens. Having visited the Paul Klee exhibition recently, I was struck by how his very controlled colour modulations had the same feel about them.
I was never on drugs  (honest!) but this shimmering, dazzling effect seems to well symbolise my misspent youth and how optimistically I was everything.
This also reminds me of the song 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' which was around at the time and written by the Beetles when they were reportedly on drugs.
And I had a girlfriend called Lucy.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Contre Jour

'Contre Jour' or 'against the light' is an art term used to describe back-lit images in paintings. I read about it, in connection with an exhibition of Daumier's work on view at the Royal Academy.
I made the trip to see his work because I am interested in using silhouette images in my next but one, (they are forming a queue in my head!) family painting. I am using my collection of shadow puppets to depict two male cousins of my mother's and show how they were seen very differently by each parent. I will try to show this by portraying them  in keeping with the Javanese tradition of the men seeing the actual puppets, while the women only saw the shadows.
I am interested in Contre Jour because rather than a flat sharp shadow, Daumier used to add other colours to make the image more subtle and mysterious. Starting my painting is probably a year away yet, but it's nice to keep carrying these ideas around in my head.

P.S.  If you want to hear the two latest radio programmes featuring me (OK, maybe you don't!), they are now available on my website on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page.

Friday, 22 November 2013

That Ends Well

After a disappointing beginning to the weekend (see my last blog), I rather dreaded as to what might happen next.
However, I had an interesting family who visited Ted Coney's Family Portraits on Sunday. They came from near Croydon, while visiting Bury St Edmunds for the weekend. The wife was a friend of a college friend of mine, whom I hadn't seen for over forty years. Perhaps one day she will visit, too. Anyway, I was able to show them my painting 'Lavender and Dead Bilberries', which is about our wedding  and includes an image of Jean (my old college friend) who was a guest at the wedding all those years ago. 'She hasn't changed a bit' was the reply.
The other thing I was not looking forward to, was the charity auction for ADEC on Sunday evening, in which there were two pieces of my work. One was a small preliminary study on canvas for my painting 'Minglelands', on which I was working  out how to do the gold leaf section, to represent my grandson, Barnaby. The other was a print donated by UKPhotoGallery of a pen and wash study of mine, depicting the Morris Minor.
Luckily, both sold and the auction made £900 to support our local cinema and Babylon Gallery.  Phew!

Friday, 15 November 2013

When Will I Be Famous?

Do you remember that old film where Charlie Chaplin invited everyone to a party and spent lots of time getting it ready, and then no one turned up?
Well, I felt a bit like that this morning. Last Friday the tourist office rang me  in great excitement to say that The Times were coming today to research for an article on Ely and
Ted Coney's Family Portraits had been picked as one of the attractions they were interested in featuring.
I spent a good one and a half hours getting everything ready and even had  the spotlights on and film rolling, so that when the reporter arrived at 11am, he could see what a pop-up gallery really was.
I waited (luckily, I kept painting) until after 12pm and finally rang up to see what was happening. The first message back was that they were running late, so I kept going. The second was more disappointing as they had passed me by, as they were now very late.
So in an instance, my chance of national fame and recognition had gone!
This afternoon Nigel came to film the Morris for a video he is making to publicise my prints, on
YouTube. It did attract a lot of interest from  passing visitors, so I suppose I had a bit of fame of sorts, today. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

A New Perspective

I was showing my painting 'If The Boats Come In' to my old friend Joe, the other day, as he likes to see my progress, when he comes to visit. He is always very encouraging, so I was surprised when he commented that he thought the perspective was a bit out on the boating pond part of the picture. When he had gone, I did have another look at it, and damn it, maybe he was right!
Daniel should be putting new photos of the painting onto my website in the next few days, so you can judge for yourself, if you think my efforts have now made the image, stronger.
 It can be found on my News And Reviews page, as can my latest foray into radio interviews (again, be patient, it should be on there, soon.)

Friday, 1 November 2013

Wish Upon A Star

Have you noticed how you wait for ages for a bus and then two come along together? So it is with radio programmes. After appearing on Radio Cambridgeshire the other week (mind, I haven't heard it yet, but I was told it was on, last Monday) I found myself on Star Radio the other day. Two lovely young people came to the house to do an interview while we looked at the paintings. One recorded while the other asked me questions. It was nice that they sounded so enthusiastic, so lets hope that comes over in the recording. It is not on until 18th November, just enough time to rally a few last visitors before I close for the winter on 15th December.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Oily Rag Approach

On the face of it, my old 1940 bicycle  plays a very minor role in the development of
Ted Coney's Family Portraits. However it is quite important, not only because it conveyed me 800 miles to Scotland to help  produce my painting 'Diamond Sutra' but also for my cycle ride from Harby to Westminster Abbey, which enabled me to gather material for 'Snow Angels and No Angels'.  I also place it at the end of our track to display a clipframe, giving details of my tours   and use it as a (slow!) moving display board when travelling between Ely and Cambridge.
So, I was quite upset when I realised a few months ago, that part of the chain guard was missing as the screw had come loose. I did go to various bike shops to try and get a replacement but no luck. I finally managed to persuade my brother, David to make me one, which he duly did. Not unreasonably, he suggested that I could at least paint the metal, once he had fashioned the shape. I applied the paint with an 'oily rag approach' which means I didn't try to make it look brand new, but it still looks a bit rough and ready compared to the rest of the bike. A work still in progress, I think.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Alright On The Night

This week I gave my outreach lecture 'On The Edge', a slide/sound show about my work, to a group of women in Abington. It all went smoothly and from the comments I got at the end, I think most of them really enjoyed it.
 I am always very nervous when dealing with technology, so I decided to have a practise the weekend before, to make sure everything was working. The sound is very important to the talk as I intersperse live commentary with a 50 year old Ted, talking  on film. This gives me a chance to check my notes to see where I am up to, but also enables me to demonstrate props which I wouldn't be able to lug around when speaking away from home. For instance, at one point when talking about the painting 'David's Journey', I am filmed assembling the labyrinth of mirrors which I used to work from, when developing this project.
Anyway, to my horror, the sound refused to come out of the laptop and I could feel panic rising inside me. I tried to keep calm and look to see if the sound had been inadvertently switched off somehow.
In the end I ran Daniel, the chap who looks after my website, and he very kindly popped round on his way to the shops.
It seems, that by plugging the lead into the laptop and not connecting it to the sound system, I had  inadvertently stopped the sound from working in either bits of equipment.
 . Daniel saw this immediately and soon got me organised. I was just glad I wasn't giving the talk on that day. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Voice In The Wind

I battled through the wind and rain on my bicycle on Thursday to do an interview for Radio Cambridgeshire.
The receptionist slightly raised her eyebrows as I fell through the door, clutching my bicycle bag, cape, briefcase, lunch bag and woolly hat. Luckily, I had plenty of time to compose myself before my interview with Sue Doughan. I was there to publicise Ted Coney's Family Portraits and at the end of it I was left wondering if I had made sense or talked utter drivel?! With radio you never know. I remember saying things about my long suffering family and how they had got used to me making paintings about them
You can hear the results on Sue's show next Friday (if it doesn't all end up on the cutting room floor) and I should have it  as a link from the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website soon after that.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Different Ways Of Seeing

Have started to do some research for my next painting 'The Rashomon Effect'.
 Tony came the other day to take some photographs inside the dolls house for me. He brought his  micro lens, so he could take close ups of various objects with a very sharp  focus. Looking on the computer later, he was also able to show how he could do special effects using Photoshop, such as blurring the image and distorting it in other ways.
  I will need to consider all this clever stuff when deciding how to portray the five different  human viewpoints, which appear to be looking at the same image inside the house. For instance, my grandmother's view will be very fuzzy indeed, while my mother's will be much more clear headed.
Over the next few months, I still intend to do some good old fashioned drawing as well, using my new magnifying glass.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Prickwillow Delights

Working in a phone box was not the only thing I was up to last weekend in Prickwillow (you can see the photo of that, on my Facebook page).
I also went to see a very interesting display of 1950s TV puppets in a private house, to rival my own collection. I saw Mr. Turnip, Hank, Muffin the Mule, Andy Pandy and the Flowerpot Men all made by David Leech, for a couple who had remembered these characters as vividly as I had, from their childhood. Ofcourse any puppets and dolls that I have, were all collected as source material for some of my paintings. Quite what my hosts would make of seeing all their favourite characters with pins through their limbs at Ted Coney's Family Portraits, I am not sure.
However, you can see the painting ('No More Twist') and the said TV characters in a short video on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website, but keep it to yourself.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Don't Phone Me

I am in the process of putting up an exhibition in a phone box in Prickwillow. I am using the opportunity to advertise Ted Coney's Family Portraits (of course) and have centred my display around a print of my painting 'Another Year', as I thought the image of Ely Cathedral would have  local appeal. Luckily, I also had some prints of different stages of the painting, so I have put those in there, too.
Of course, putting a display in a phone box was a challenge in itself, and as I write, it may all have fallen down and look a complete mess. Anyway, I hope to go back on Monday to finish it, so I will see how it has survived. One of the things I forgot to take, was a picture of Ely Cathedral, so I could piece together the model which we painstakingly made for reference, when I was doing the painting.
At the moment it looks a very funny looking cathedral, sitting at the bottom of the phone box.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

I Spy

The only thing  I have left belonging to my grandmother is a small magnifying glass on a long gold chain (you can see a drawing I made of it on the UKPHOTGALLERY website which is linked to my PRINTS FOR SALE page).My grandmother often wore it  and I want to use it in my next painting 'The Rashomon Effect' to represent her. The only photograph I had, where I was convinced she would be wearing it, was a rather faded image, making it difficult to see any details.
However, as luck would have it, I discovered the same picture in slide form, from which the paper version must have come, many years ago.
I took the slide to our local photography shop and they were able to enlarge the image. Hey presto! There was the magnifying glass looking resplendent on my grandmother's person. I can now show this to visitors when explaining  my ideas behind the painting.

Friday, 6 September 2013

The St. Albans Connection

I sold one of my prints. My nephew, Andrew purchased a copy of my 'Snow Angels and No Angels' paintings, which was dedicated to his mother, Christine. These are a series of fifteen pictures which were inspired by the journey made by the body of Queen Eleanor of Castile in 1290 from Harby in Lincolnshire, where she died, to Westminster Abbey. Her grieving husband, Edward 1 had crosses erected at each of the stopping points on her two week journey. I made the same journey by bicycle in 2007 and dedicated the subsequent paintings to fifteen (rather than one!) female members of my family.
Eleanor's body passed through St. Albans and although the cross has long gone, there is now a plaque to mark the event. As Christine, whom I remember as a much loved sister-in -law lived in St. Albans, it was only natural that I should choose her to represent this stopping point.
You can see this print (and others) if you go to the link from my website on the PRINTS FOR SALE page to the UKPHOTOGALLERY, who produce the prints for me.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Napping Not Apping

This week I was going to tell you about the new Ely app, which was  to have started on Saturday, and  Ted Coney's Family Portraits was  included. However, there was some technical problems, so the opening was postponed.
At 12pm on Sunday I had resigned myself to having no bookings for my tours (as a pop-up gallery, I only open if I have visitors, booked) when the phone rang. It took me an hour and a half to get everything ready for some people who had been before. I had to quickly look up what tour they had taken last time and make some last minute decisions. I did my  tour based on the theme of 'Time' and I think they found it interesting. Luckily, I  vacuumed the floors the day before, which might not have happened if the Ely App had gone ahead, as I volunteered to be on the market stall to help launch it.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Real Boats

Zeli said it was 'the best Sheringham ever' and  I am inclined to agree with her. We have just been on our annual weekend visit to this sea-side resort with 23 members of the family and certainly, we all had a jolly time. Except, I always feel a bit sad when some members of the family don't make it, because it's lovely seeing everyone interacting with each other and catching up on the passed year.
This uncertainty about whose coming, is the theme of my current painting, 'If The Boats Come In' and I have used our annual trip to the boating pond to symbolise how some family members may not always make it, even if they are really trying too. The title is deliberately ambiguous.
 On the real pond, it was very windy this year and most of the sailing boats had a hard time just keeping upright. Another idea for a painting, maybe.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A Real Puzzle

Last week I took two of my paintings to be framed by Jonathan. My latest one, 'Love That Dares' is now displayed on the ART LECTURE page of my website. We decided that a distressed silver frame would suit it best. The other one is a bit of a dilemma. It's the last of the archive paintings which had not been framed by Jonathan and I have been trying to get these earlier ones up to the same professional standard, as and when I can afford it. The painting, '30 Days' charts the month's holiday we had in Sheringham in 1983. It is painted on wood and comprises of thirty jigsaw pieces, each one representing a different day of the holiday. The wooden pieces were cut and shaped by my father, Arthur especially for the project. I had originally mounted them on a piece of grey plastic, because at the time, I  wanted to contrast the softness of the wood with the hard, industrial feel of  plastic. The configuration of the pieces shows a break at the golden section point in the picture, with one piece sticking out at a less formal angle. I wanted to get a bit of drama into the arrangement to represent the fact that Hazel dislocated her knee a quarter through the holiday and ended up in a wheelchair for several weeks. Jonathan hated the plastic background (and so do I, now) and is currently, carefully removing each piece. My decision is, do I put the pieces back in the same configuration or do I rearrange them to reflect the point at which the drama really happened in the holiday?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Up Side Down Sketchbooks

I've just started some tentative experiments for my next painting 'The Rashomon Effect' which involves looking at the same incident in my grandmother's past  from different points of view. While on holiday in Kent I started drawing the view in my sketchbook using the magnifying glass that Max bought me for my birthday. I noticed that if you hold it a distance from you, the image in the glass becomes upside down. This has the effect of appearing to abstract part of the image. I thought this could represent me in my new painting, as a good symbol of how I was at 20 years old, looking at the world in an 'all over the place' sort of way.
Talking of being young, I have also been helping to look after our grandchildren Barnaby (5 years) and Poppy(2years), this week. Every morning I got them to work in their sketchbooks (yes, they did want to!) and they  drew and painted, using lots of materials. They worked upside down and from back to front in an unrestrained way, confirming how fresh and straight forward, children's art can be.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Cabinet Of Curios

Visiting the exhibition 'Curiosity' last week at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate made me think about my own collection of objects, which I display at Ted Coney's Family Portraits, so that visitors can see how they have been used in the paintings. In the Margate exhibition, the objects were displayed as art pieces in their own right, rather than been shown as visual stimulus for  other work.
There was some fascinating things to be seen, including some fertility dolls from Angola which were given to girls on reaching puberty and were expected to be treated like members of the family. When the girls became engaged to be married, the dolls were given names, which were then passed on to the couple's first female child. Heady stuff! I suppose visitors wonder about the choices of my objects when they see a tissue paper balloon, a piece of patchwork and Thomas the Tank Engine all in the same cabinet. Until I explain the significance behind them, of course. We also met Mike Middlebrook last week, who had made me the tissue paper hot air balloon many years ago. He was very surprised to learn that his balloon was in a cabinet for public display, until I explained that there was also a portrait of a 'failed hot air balloon' in my painting ' Limners'.
You can see some of my objects on my Facebook page and in a recent short video which appears near the top of the NEWS AND REVIEWS page. Or you can  come on a tour.  

Sunday, 28 July 2013

All At Sea

We've been on holiday to the seaside this week  and of course, I took my sketching gear with me. The sun was hot and the sea was blue (we were only on the Margate - Hastings coastline) and I decided to stand in the sea and make some direct observation studies of waves crashing against the shoreline. This was to inform my latest painting 'When The Boats Come In'. Unfortunately, it was very windy (not everything can be perfect) and some leaflets I had stowed away in my sketchbook blew into the sea. Previously we had visited the new Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, so maybe I had been inspired by Turner, who was lashed to the mast so that he could paint and experience rough seas.
During our meander along the shoreline afterwards, we ventured across a slightly rocky part and Hazel lost her footing. She keeled over and the towel and camera fell  into the water and my hat blew into the sea as I tried to steady her. Everything dried out eventually though.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Watching Paint Dry

Many apologises! I hadn't realised just how boring the short video clip of me demonstrating oil painting at Tindalls was, until I saw it on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page. To add insult to injury, the long panning shot around the shop which showed that no one was there, makes it look even  sadder. Annoyingly, I was quite busy over the day and talked to lots of people, it's just that at that moment the place was empty. I was feeling a bit flustered at that point, as it seemed my painting of rough seas was all going wrong, so I forgot to say to Ben (who was kindly shooting the film) to hang on until there was a few people around. Anyway, in a few days time you should be able to see a shortened version on the website and Daniel will also be adding the latest stages of the painting
'If The Boats Come In' so you can see what progress I have made since that disastrous day.
 My painting 'Love That Dares' is now finished and has been moved onto the ART LECTURE page and the two latest newspaper stories will also be added to the reviews section.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Morris- Dancing

Last weekend I went round and round the Maltings roundabout for charity. Readers of my blog will know that I will do anything (well almost!) to promote Ted Coney's Family Portraits but I also made about £50 for local charities. I took my 1931 Morris Minor to Aquafest and gave people rides for a donation and even had a lady with a red flag leading the way. Ofcourse the Morris is the star attraction when visitors come to my gallery, as it appears in many of the paintings.  I have made work using the car for every decade so far, from it's 50th birthday to it's 80th and I even have a vague idea for the 90th in eight years time. But more on that, a bit closer to the event.
As I hadn't driven the car for a while, I took my old friend Joe, for a ride in it to Littleport, which is about three miles away, as a practise. Joe used to travel in the Morris some 50 years ago when we were students. Only this time, he felt car sick and I had to stop because my leg had gone to sleep.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Demo On The Square

Last Saturday, I did my day long demonstration of oil painting at Tindalls, which is an art shop on Ely's Market Square. I set up my two new canvases, which make up my current painting 'If The Boats Come ' on easels and displayed all my preliminary studies and other source material on a table in front of me. My plan was to work on the calm water first and the rough seas later. Painting the calm water went relatively smoothly (forgive the pun) as I was just laying in very transparent colour. I had felt pretty confident that the rough sea bit would go well, as I had done some practise beforehand. However, halfway through I suddenly realised it looked a mess and had to spend the rest of the time fighting to get it back into some reasonable state. The only good thing was that maybe, visitors realised that painting is more than someone demonstrating a clever technique. I talked to about 20 people over the day about oil painting, the ideas behind my work AND Ted Coney's Family Portraits if they seemed really interested. You should be able to see me wrestling the painting from the brink in a short video on my website, when Daniel returns from America, next week.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Messing About By The River

Last week we launched our booklet to promote 'A Riverside Experience' in the press, by having our photo taken by the river. Somehow I managed to be in the forefront of the picture, but that was the fault of the photographer. I say 'We', and by that I mean Ted Coney's Family Portraits and all the other attractions  such as The Babylon Gallery, Waterside Antiques, Peacocks Tearooms, Liberty Belle boat, Jubilee Gardens and the Cutter Inn. The idea is that these booklets will be given to tour operators, so that coach parties will be encouraged to come down to the river and spend an afternoon between the attractions. As Ely Cathedral had 150 coach parties last week over four days for the Flower Festival, we are a little optimistic. You can see the booklet on a link from the GROUP VISITS page of my website and you will shortly be able to see the press stories from both the Ely and Cambridge News on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website.
I was amused to note that when Hazel and I went to read local news for a charity for the blind (which is sent out weekly) the other evening,  neither of my stories had been selected
 (the other story  this week, is advertising my painting demonstration at Tindalls shop, tomorrow). 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Under The Hammer

I donated one of my preliminary studies to an auction last Saturday, to help raise money, so that young, aspiring artists might have their first exhibition one day. Well, I'm not young but am still a very aspiring artist, so it seemed a worthy cause to support. Christine from the Babylon Gallery came and chose a tiny canvas which I had used to prepare for my painting 'Tea For 222', which is painted in oils and encaustic wax. The study I  made, shows part of the enigma machine, which my cousin was reputed to have been involved in, when she worked at Bletchley Park during the second world war. This was overlaid with the constituents of afternoon tea, which is meant to represent her in   gracious old age, giving no hint to her former exploits. The painting raised a few pounds for the fund, which was good to know. Before my head was allowed to get too big, I also noted that the print of my Morris Minor, from a drawing by me and  donated by Nigel, failed to make the reserve price and won't be going anywhere. I need to keep aspiring, obviously.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Date With The Dean

Readers of my blog may remember that I was a bit disappointed  the Dean had never replied to my letter concerning my painting 'Another Year', which uses Ely Cathedral as it's central image. In the letter, I had offered to donate my commission from the sales of prints of the painting to the Cathedral in exchange for displaying the work in situ. I had hoped he would look at the painting when it was on display in the Cathedral a few months ago but somehow he missed it.
I contacted one of the organisers of the Business Exhibition which I had been involved with in the Cathedral (I never give up!) as I felt just a reply would have been good manners.  Hey presto! she sent my Email directly to the Dean and a few days later I got a very apologetic reply and an invitation to go and meet him. He turned out to be a very nice bloke and we had a bit of a chat. I enjoyed going inside the Deanery (is that what you call it?) and he works in a brilliant office space with high ceilings.
Will he take my painting? Well, he still hasn't seen it yet but somehow I don't think it will be worth all the hassle. It's part of my Ted Coney's Family Portraits tours now and ofcourse they already have one painting of Ely Cathedral that visitors can buy prints of, which is where I got the idea from in the first place. Anyway, it was very nice to meet the Dean, and who knows, he might come on one of my tours in the future. (I gave him a flyer)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Rough Seas Ahead

In the middle of teaching and getting ready to do my moderating job, I had one free day to work on my painting, 'If  The Boats Come In'.
Although in the final piece, I want to create a painting of a section of knitting unravelling, imprinted with the image of boats on a rough sea, I though I had better have a go at just painting the rough sea first. This is partly because I needed to  take it one step at a time, but also when I do my day demonstrating at Tindalls (the local art shop) I want to have different examples of painted water, to display.
I had some good photos from the internet to work from and no, I didn't go strapped to a mast as Turner had done, to paint his rough seas, first hand. I really enjoyed painting with my fingers, blotting, rubbing back, using a palette knife etc. to try and create the illusion of the swirling water.
I remember years ago trying to paint a giant wave in another painting about the sea-side, 'Wish You Were Here' and always thinking it looked like a big scrubbing brush. Have I got it right this time? You'll have to come and see. 

Friday, 31 May 2013

Getting Creative

The other week I attended a meeting of Ely Creative - a group of people all working in the creative industries. It was very lively (being at the Cutter Inn helped) and everyone seemed to be brimming with enthusiasm and ideas. As a new member I was allowed to talk about
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits for five minutes and of course I had my flyer's to give out. As a result of this, the organiser, Sue, asked me to write a piece for the Ely Creative website. You can read it (and all about Ely Creative) via the live link from the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website. I guess it's another way of me spreading the word.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Virtually A Tour

Recently, my nephew, Andrew has been sending me lots of exciting ideas on the most effective way to market Ted Coney's Family Portraits. One of his most interesting concepts (he said it could make me immortal but I think he was getting a bit too carried away, there) was for me to do a virtual tour which the public could pay for and view on line from my website. I don't know how all that would work, but it could be a way of drawing more people in. In fact I am already thinking of a new, shorter tour on the theme of Simultaneity which might just fit the bill. Of course, I would have to have the video made professionally as it would have to be very, very good, otherwise it could put potential visitors off  rather than the opposite. Still, something to think about. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

No Snow Angels

I have just been to a family christening in Madrid. The last time we went there for the christening of my great nephew, Andy, it never took place due to the harsh weather. We made it all the way from the UK but Andy didn't, because of the dangerous roads. We still went to look at the church where he was due to be baptised and saw little children making snow angels in the garden. I thought then, what a perfect symbol for the missing baby - a negative but beautiful shape with the snow taken away. Over the next year, an idea grew for a painting, with Andy being replaced as the snow angel by his mother, Blanca who finds it very difficult to attend family events because she is a nervous traveller - another negative action. Over the next few years I worked on my painting
 'Snow Angels and No Angels' with the ideas widening to celebrate fifteen female members of the family including Blanca. You can see this painting on the HOME and PRINTS FOR SALE pages  of my website.
And the weather in Spain this time? Well it didn't snow and was similar to here, cold with some rain.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Flexible Working

I did two different tours this weekend for Ted Coney's Family Portraits, and they weren't related in any way except that I didn't do them at my advertised times. Living up to my slogan of being a pop-up gallery, I opened on Friday afternoon for an ex colleague and her aunt and mother. I must have done OK because when I announced that their tour was at an end, it produced a slight ripple of applause. Or maybe it was just relief that it was all over.
A more challenging one for me was the tour I did on Sunday morning for a children's art club. I called the tour 'Detectives' and asked them to work out in groups, what some of the paintings were about. Of course each group had a grown up with them, but they were pretty good at sussing out  the main themes. They were very attentive and particularly enjoyed seeing Mr Turnip's eyes move. One little girl wrote 'cool and really fun' in my visitors book, which livened it up no end.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Water Everywhere

I don't usually comment on our domestic arrangements but my life did seem dominated by water these last two weeks. First, we had leaks in both toilets and we need to get it sorted before the grandchildren arrived. Luckily, we have a very good plumber (though because he's good, he's difficult to track down) who came and mended everything. I've also been doing quite a lot of painting of water recently for my new painting 'If The Boats Come In'. At the moment I'm concentrating on the boating pool end but need to tackle rough seas as well. I've also agreed to demonstrate oil painting on 29th June at Tindalls, our local art shop, which I shall hope to use to publicise
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits (who else?). And what will I be painting? Why, WATER of course. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Too Many Pins

I've managed to get the reopening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits in both local newspapers again and you'll be able to see the stories on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website, fairly soon. In the Ely Standard I am photographed standing by my painting 'In Three Our Kingdom' and in the Weekly News, with 'Minglelands'. For the latter I was rather surprised to learn that it was normal practise now to make a one minute video as well, to go with the on line newspaper. I thought the results looked a bit scary. It may be because I have my back to the top of the stairs (which is were the painting is)  and I was worried I might topple down, as I do have a certain wild eyed look about me. Also, the photographer was keen to have some movement in the video whilst I was talking, so he got me walking into one of the bedrooms where the exhibition continues. He alighted on the dolls which are each pinned down with large dissecting pins onto blocks of wood and he got me peeling off the cloth, which I put over them when the house is not open. These dolls were used in another painting, 'No More Twist' but without explanation  look as if they might be connected to voodoo. Oh dear, lets hope not to many people see this video, as it might frighten them away.   

Friday, 19 April 2013

An International Affair

Simon came last Saturday to help me get the last things ready for opening the first
Ted Coney's Family Portraits of the  season. We rehung a few paintings so that I could get my  new picture 'Another Year' onto the walls (no, I never did hear from the Dean!). We also managed, with a bit of skillful juggling, to cram another five family photographs into the hallway. Simon also did other much needed jobs such as replacing the gate post which had gone rotten and filling in all the cracks in the plaster. Hazel was very surprised to see me wielding a paintbrush to touch up the walls afterwards. I also did the more interesting jobs like putting the miniature painting (of rough seas - nice touch that) and easel into the dolls house. My first booking was a lovely Russian couple who seemed particularly amused when I explained that my sister-in-law Kari is represented in the painting 'David's Journey' as a hippopotamus. This was because it was seen as a symbol of the great earth mother in some cultures. Maybe it means something else in Russian?! 

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Rashomon Effect

Max bought me a beautiful magnifying glass for my birthday, which is just what I needed for my next but one painting.
It's about an encounter my grandmother had with an old flame when she was nearly ninety and he was eighty, at a prearranged meeting in the Royal Station Hotel, Hull. They had been engaged sixty years before but then both married different partners. He then contacted my grandmother again when he heard she had been widowed. My mother and I both witnessed this encounter and we all had different ideas about the possible outcome.
While thinking this might be an interesting concept for a painting I happened to see the 1950s Japanese film 'Rashoman' which shows the same story but through the eyes of the different characters involved.  The Rashomon Effect, as it is called, gave me the idea of how I might portray my people. To show my grandmothers story in a painting I am going to use lenses of different strengths but looking at the same image. One each, for my grandmother, her old flame, my mother and me. Hence the new magnifying glass.

Friday, 5 April 2013

All Quiet In The Cathedral

At 8:30am this morning I loaded my stuff in the car so Hazel could drive me to Ely Cathedral to put up my display for the Celebration of Business exhibition. It all went very smoothly and while everyone was very helpful, it was a very quiet, uneventful morning compared to last year when I drove down the centre aisle in my 1931 Morris Minor. The main focus this year is my painting 'Another Year' which uses Ely Cathedral as it's central image and while I got several complementary comments, no one has yet rushed forward to ask for it to remain, once the exhibition is over. Still, it's early days yet, as the event is on for a week. I did get someone asking if they could book their art club into one of my tours for Ted Coney's Family Portraits, which was nice. This is for 8-12 year olds, so it could prove an interesting challenge.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Display Of A Different Kind

Readers of my blog may remember the fun I had  when I took part in the Celebration of Business exhibition in Ely Cathedral last year. As part of my Ted Coney's Family Portraits display I exhibited my 1931 Morris Minor, which resulted in the car breaking down inside the Cathedral! Well, this year I'm going for a less ostentatious affair with the central part of the display being my latest painting
'Another Year'. Although this painting is about four female members of the family, the central image is of Ely Cathedral at different times of day, so I thought it most appropriate for the exhibition. As one can now buy prints of this picture from UKPHOTOGALLERY I have written to the Dean and Chapter with an offer. I said I was willing to donate all my commission on every print sold, if they agreed to display the painting for a few months. Well, it is a business exhibition! However, the Dean may not think the painting is appropriate (though it is about birth and death), so I am not getting to excited. The painting is back from the framers now and I am sorting out what information to put on each of the display panels which accompany it. As my pop-up gallery opens a week later, I thought this exhibition would be a good curtain raiser.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mystery Solved

I didn't recognise the name of the female who bought one of the prints of my Morris Minor the other week. However, I got a lovely surprise when a picture of it appeared on my (Ted Coney) Facebook page which solved the mystery.  It appears that the young lady had jointly bought the print with Will Tuck an ex student of mine for Will's cousin, Michael, for his  birthday. Mike (another ex student) had then posted the picture to me, showing him holding a framed version of my drawing with a jolly comment. It should soon be on be on the Ted Coney's Family Portraits page on Facebook as well. I was asked to do a little story for the Hills Road Staff Newsletter to announce the opening of the gallery in April, so as Will and Mike were students at Hills Road as well, I made that the theme of my comments.
You can see this on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website, as soon as Daniel has had time to put it on.

Friday, 15 March 2013

A Riverside Experience

I've just been to see Aileen at the tourist office about my idea for encouraging coach parties to discover Ely's Riverside. The various attractions down here are joining forces to produce a leaflet about what we do, for the Tourist Office to promote with the various Coach companies they are in touch with. Thats the theory anyway! I say 'WE' by that I mean Ted Coney's Family Portraits ofcourse, as well as Peacocks Tearooms, Waterside Antiques, Babylon Gallery and the boat ' The Liberty Belle'. Ofcourse, visitors will always visit the Cathedral first, but hopefully we are offering a viable alternative for the afternoon. Just wish the house was bigger so I could take more than six at a time.

Friday, 8 March 2013

A three Pronged Affair

I guess you could say that Ted Coney's Family Portraits is a three pronged affair. The main part is doing the paintings and opening the house to the public, ofcourse (first tour of the season is 14th April!) but also the sale of prints of my work and my outreach lecture.
I've just had my first sale of a print since UKPHOTOGALLERY restarted it's business the other week and this was for the drawing of my Morris Minor. Last night I got a call from a lady from the W.I asking me if I would do my lecture 'On The Edge' for them as the title sounded intriguing. The booking is for January 2014 so I've got a bit of time to prepare for it! You can see details of these ventures on my website.

Friday, 1 March 2013


I am now steadily preparing for the next season of Ted Coney's Family Portraits which opens on Sunday 14th April. My last finished painting 'Another Year' has gone off to be framed and another painting 'Walking Sticks' has just been delivered back. This has been reframed to blend in more with each of the four canvases which make up the work. Before, they were all framed with a rather harsh metallic silver, whereas now, each frame picks out one of the main colours in each painting.
 I also took two family photographs to have new mounts put in as they looked rather tatty and full of tiny insects! I replaced the mount with purple card in our wedding frame as, although the photo is black and white, our wedding clothes were purple - well it was the 70s! Visitors see all these family photographs (all six generations of them) when they arrive at the start of their tour.
p.s. Daniel has just posted more of my photos of my latest painting 'Love That Dares' on the website, so you can see how it is progressing.


Friday, 22 February 2013

Photoshopping Knitting

As part of my annual apprasel at school, I said I would like to have some trainnig in the use of Photoshop, so I could see how it could help the students develop their ideas for Painting and Graphics. I thought (craftily) the best way into it for me, was to see how it could work when trying out my own ideas. After drawing the knitted boats last week (for my next painting -
 'If  The Boats Come In'), this time I took some photographs of them, ready to work with Tony , my long suffering teacher. I had also taken some digitol photos of the real toy sailing boats, just to see which would work best. My hour's lesson was so disturbed by students coming in to ask questions, that we didn't get very far, but we took some close-up shots of a knitted scarf and started to project these onto my boats. We hope to project a knitted rough sea onto the background next week. Will it be useful? To early to say, but it certainly gives me an insight into just how clever the students are - and how creaky my brain has become!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Knitted Drawing or Drawing Knitting?

I often tell my students that they must not treat drawing like knitting. In other words, they must keep alert and not let the drawing become repetitive and merely filling in the shapes - rather like knitting, infact. Ofcourse knitting demands it's own skills and I certainly couldn't do it, but imagine my dilemma when I started drawing knitting, last week! I was making some preliminary sketches for my next painting 'If The Boats Come In' (I am having a break from my current painting 'Love That Dares' while I decide what to do next) and was doing some drawings of knitted boats that my sister-in-law, Julia had made for me. I tried to draw every weave and wobble of the wool and also keep the shape of the boat. I used a soft pencil and coloured pencils to try and achieve the texture and my next challenge will be to have a go with oil paint, which ultimately I shall be working in in the final painting. Julia has just let me know that she has finished knitting the sea so I shall be making a stab at that, too. In the painting, the knitted parts eventually turn into real boats and water, so I feel this painting is going to push my skills to the limit.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Prints For Sale - At Last!

Just to let you know that, after being down for over a year, you can finally buy prints of some of my paintings and drawings from my website. From the PRINTS FOR SALE page, just click on the UKPHOTOGALLERY name and it will take you straight into my part of the site.
The work on offer includes my latest painting 'Another Year' and Nigel Bloxham, who runs the site, will do you a good quality print and all I have to do is sign it, to show I approve of the colour, tone etc. before he posts it off to you. So what are you waiting for?!

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Work In Progress

Daniel has now put the first few postings of my current painting, 'Love That Dares' on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website. I have tried to photograph it's progress at the end of each session but as the painting comprises of two canvases, this is not so easy. I am trying to get  each canvas to the same stage before I photograph them. Anyway, inspite of my wobbly photography, I think Daniel has done a terrific job so far - see what you think. The next stages (photographed but not yet on the website) show the front animals coming out into the light. Watch this space! 

Friday, 25 January 2013

What The Papers Say

The other week my comments were on the front page of the local papers, when I likened Ely to living in the Soviet Union! This was in connection with the proposed car parking charges, the District Council want to bring in, inspite of a petition of 9,000 residents who are against it. I was also incenced by a questionaire the Council have put out which just assumes it will introduce the charges, even though the final vote has yet to be taken. This week, there was an angry letter from someone  taking issue with everything I had said. I would have thought that most people would have realised that my comments about the Soviet Union were not to be taken literally, but this person didn't agree. Anyway, it keeps my name in the public eye which is free publicity  for
Ted Coney's Family Portraits - though I think I will keep  my head down for a while now, as I don't want to become a hate figure in Ely!

Friday, 18 January 2013

A Lovely Idea

Christine, the gallery coordinator at the Babylon Gallery did one of the tours at
Ted Coney's Family Portraits before it closed for the winter in December. Alongside her job she is taking a curating course at Norwich University. Last week she told me she would like to curate a retrospective of my work for the gallery next year! As I will be 70 then, it seemed like a brilliant time to have a show. I am not getting too excited though, as Christine would have to find the funding from somewhere, (about £2,000) as the Babylon Gallery gets no outside money of it's own. Also, Christine may leave, the gallery may close and I may die. Still, it's a nice thought to keep me going over these long winter months, while I'm painting in my tiny (cold) studio.  

Friday, 11 January 2013

No Monty Dom

I've always hated gardening, so it was with some hesitation that I dragged myself into our tiny courtyard garden last Saturday to attack the last of the dead shrubbery which was hanging against our old wall. Hazel has very much taken possession of this space and all I usually do is move pots around under her instructions. However, I would be the first to aknowledge that the garden is very important to the success of Ted Coney's Family Portraits so it does have to look nice, as it is the first thing they see. It is here that visitors hover, while they are waiting for their tour to begin and where I collect the admission charge. Also, they walk through it as they go over to see my 1931 Morris Minor in the garage and back again when they visit my studio at the end. If it is not raining, it is also at the garden table that they sign the visitors book and hopefully, write something encouraging. So as I say, it is pretty important, so maybe I should learn to love gardening more. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

In With The New

Since the beginning of 2013 I've been taking down all the source material for my painting
 'Another Year' from my studio and consigning it to a plastic bag. I am now filling all the pinboards and my easle with photographs, drawings, scraps from magazines, postcards etc.for my new work
'Love That Dares'. This is partly so I have everything to hand when I start painting, but also to inspire me and keep me going over the year ahead. As the painting uses Muffin the Mule (as well as Charles Darwin) I have dug out the material I collected over twenty years ago when I visited the puppet's creator, Ann Hogarth in Budleigh Salterton. At that time I made drawings and photographs of all the puppets that appeared with Muffin for another painting, about my brother David becoming fifty - entitled 'David's Journey'. I am looking forward to using all this material again, but in a different way.