Thursday, August 31, 2006

Colours of Provence

I can see straight away why the likes of Matisse, Chagall and Picasso (to name but three) hung out in this region....the colours of the surrounding countryside, and the clarity of the light gives the place an almost magical feel.

I'm going to share with you some photos taken on one sunny day on a walk from the villa through the woods and hills to the nearby village of Colle-sue-Loup. Thank goodness for my trusty camera....everywhere I looked there was inspiration for a painting and something to wonder at. I think that the photos speak pretty much for themselves, but I will explain a few as we go along..................

Everywhere you looked you were surrounded by olive greens, soft browns, honey stones dotted about with lush red berries, gentle pink blossoms and set against an azure blue sky.

I am fascinated by colour. It can change your mood or the feel of your surroundings, and being in a place like this made me want to wrap it up around me forever. So peaceful.

I'm not one for normally taking photos of doors....but I had to share these. I can't get over the blue...

....or the green.....

...or the pinks for that matter.....

....and who wouldn't want to spend time here?

I have fallen in love with Yves Klein blue. He spent a lifetime perfecting and I could gaze at it for hours. I'll show you some soon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm back...and with lots of news

Hello again

I'm back from my fancy living week in the South of France. Fantastic place and HUGE thanks to Catherine Skiba of who was our very generous, thoughtful and extremely busy hostess!

Since blogging last I've been on a dream trip to France, made some new artist friends, and appeared on the telly! I've certainly got lots to add to this blog over the next few days....but term time is approaching and James needs new school uniform so I am going to be organised and sensible (for once) and post a bit each day for the next few days ....there are lots of photos and a couple of movie clips to come.

Heres some pictures to get us started.

This is the villa where we stayed.
Its in St Paul de Vence which has to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Olive trees, cypresses, the scent of thyme, lavender and marjoram in the air, and a cool deep refreshing pool to dip into when the heat got too much. Heaven.

And what could be nicer than dining al fresco?
Catherine cooked us the most divine meal which we ate outside accompanied by the crickets chirruping and the glasses chinking.

But what struck me most that evening was the absolute quietness when we had all retired. We live on the flight path to Brize Norton and VC10s and other aircraft I know nothing about pass over our roof on a regular basis. Such quietness is hard to come by in my neck of the woods.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hold the front page (and I'd better tidy up the studio)

Firkling about with my statcounter (firkling, I am assured by my electronics engineer husband is an accepted term) I discovered today that I am on the front page of Arts Hub. Its starting to finally sink in what it might all mean - winning that competition. And I have to admit it gives me a fair few butterflies in my stomach. Today I also talked to a reporter for the Oxford Mail and a photographer is coming round on Friday. I'd better clean up the studio then.

Its the summer holidays and my children and their friends have all been having a go at painting canvases....huge fun for them....major clean-up required for me. Even the poor westie got smeared in green paint.
Here is Maddy's (aged 2) interpretation of the garden.

I'm off to France on Saturday. By myself. Without the children....and believe me, this many weeks into the summer holidays I will be enjoying some quiet time I hope. I'm sure I'll miss them too. A bit. Ok. A lot then.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nude painting

Well....painting of a nude more correctly....this is a dabble away from my usual floral themes. What do you think? I wanted somthing moody and contemporary, and not just another picture of a naked woman.

This one is on canvas paper and needs a big white mount I fancy.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Latest work

Its been a long time since I started these, but I have finally got around to adding them to my website, where you can find further details.

I am particularly fond of the Orange Poppies...they look so good in my studio I really will miss them when they go.

Also the there is a story behind this one, but I'll save it for another day.

The Calla Lilies was one of my prize winning entries and The Leaves one of the hardest to paint, especially in this hot weather. The paint dries so quickly and every insect on Oxfordshire seemed hell bet on kamikaze dives into the damp canvas. I finished it with a real sense of triumph over nature!

The Purple Tulip was a huge commission which I could only complete on bright sunny days as any difference in light made the purple a subtly different shade and impossible to match. I am very pleased with the result.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I should explain myself

The first post is always the hardest isn't it?

I feel I should explain a bit about myself and how PictureDreams came into being....

I am a self-taught artist and mother of two, and built up my painting business (PictureDreams) from scratch over the last 18 months, working it round being a full time mum and teaching myself Dreamweaver in the small hours.

I have just won a huge International Art competition sponsored by MyArtSpace which means I will be off to an artists' retreat in a couple of weeks in the South of France, and will be taking part in an exhibition in New York next Spring.

As you can imagine, I am over the moon about winning such a prestigious international competition, and owe a lot of my success to the tremendous support from my clients and fellow forumites. To go from painting in the kitchen to preparing for my first ever exhibition in the Westwood Gallery in New York in such a short time is every artist's dream.

Being self-taught, I don't have your usual artist's CV and to explain my painting career, you have to go back to World War I and to my Welsh grandfather. He had dreamed of being an artist and had an exceptional talent. He drew and painted constantly and I think hoped it would mean earning a living above ground. In those days in South Wales, nearly all the boys were destined to work down the mine. The War started and like so many in his village, he signed up at 17 and was shipped to France. He did a fantastic self portrait of himself as a gladiator to pass the time on the boat.

In France, he was badly injured and sent to a remote Red Cross hospital where he was initially left for dead as a nurse had put a German coat over him. There were only limited spaces on the ambulance and the majority of them went to the British wounded, he later told me. Fortunately for him, when the stretcher bearers were taking those who had a chance of survival to a hospital in safer territory, they knocked against his unconcious form and his arm fell out from under the coat. A sharp eyed doctor noticed my grandfather's sleeve bore the three feathers symbol of a Welsh regiment and he was added to the lucky few to be taken to the main hospital. In all the confusion, my great grandmother got a telegram saying he was dead. In her grief she destroyed all his paintings and drawings. He returned eventually and refused to ever paint or draw again. His self-portrait sketch is all that remains of his work.

Years later, as my sister and I were growing up, he would spend hours instructing us on how to draw and paint - but would never do it himself. When I was a teenager he finally told me why he never drew again - he said that he had seen such horrors in the trenches it was all he could see whenever he lifted a pencil and it just overwhelmed him so much it was easier not to draw at all. Very tragic I think. But he did tell me shortly before he died 10 years ago, that I should always follow a dream and to keep drawing and painting.

So I did. I had done all the 'science' subjects at school (as my parents wished) and gone to University to get a degree in Microbiology. I had a series of jobs mainly science related...the latest being to train as a science teacher. I got my teaching certificate when I was seven months pregnant with my second child. It was then I realised I had a chance to do some painting again. So, I went and bought myself a set of acrylics and a canvas in November 2004 and started painting in my kitchen when the kids had gone to bed. And I haven't stopped since.

At first, the paintings were for around the house, and gifts for friends and relatives. Encouraged to sell them, I made a bet with myself - if I could sell a painting on Ebay I would build a website and have a go at marketing my work.

Well the Ebay painting sold to an MD of a New York Ad agency and I built my website ( More orders came in and the kitchen was beginning to look like a paint spattered besieged studio rather than a place where you could produce meals.

Well the orders keep coming, and the clients keep coming back and I've moved out of the kitchen (much to the relief of my family) and into my very own studio.

So, I consider myself extremely fortunate. I couldn't be happier - I am so lucky to be able to paint and be at home for the kids, I couldn't ever consider going back to working in a lab or office ever again.

I am finally earning myself a living from painting - I think my grandfather would be proud.