Dear spring lambs,
It is my favourite season again and I am triumphant.
I have survived another cold winter in the studio. There is none of your new-fangled central heating in my place. Oh no...
you don’t need such luxury when you are a hardy Northern battle-axe. Using a strategic triple layer of cardigan, microwaveable hot things to shove up the cardigans and re-chargeable electric socks (yes, really) I simply chipped the ice off my paint and got down to it.
But now it’s getting better every day, new lambs are gambolling about their pastures and we can’t move for daffodils.
Here, where I live in North Tyneside, the snowdrops which were rescued from a neighbour’s front garden before a brutal refurbishment, not only survived the uprooting but blossomed happily and right on time in my own garden. I’m now waiting for the tulip bulbs I planted two years ago to come back again. Not naturally green fingered, I am grateful for the smallest blot of colour in what is an otherwise weedy, green-grey backdrop.
Flowers offer us cheerful and simple comfort: a lovely gift from nature. I find myself wondering how it is I’ve painted so few: after all, it’s impossible to look at Van Gogh’s sunflowers or Monet’s waterlilies and feel stress…
and in these strange times of climate changes, Trumps, backstops, fake news and borderline political meltdown, we really should take a breather sometimes.
(it's no Vincent, but it's the only floral one I could find by me)
So, while fending off hypothermia in the studio, I have painted some rudey-nudey naked ladies, a party of human cakes and some winged women in various flights of fancy…
These canvasses are the start of a collection for my next exhibition. As far as a theme goes, it’s looking girly - not pink and frilly - but more shaping up to be about the female condition and the way society at large expects women to be - a subject matter I always return to.
Recently I braved a cinema (their munching and rustling patrons normally keep me the hell away) to watch ‘The Favourite’. An impressively female centred film - it’s star, Olivia Coleman, turned up again this month in the new TV series of ‘Fleabag’ alongside the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who (in case you’ve been living on the moon) not only wrote this but also last year’s outstanding TV drama ‘Killing Eve’.
It seems that the girls are enjoying a fairer share of the spotlight just now and we are all the better for it. I grew up being led to believe that women can’t be funny, never mind funny AND clever. But just as others have done before them, these talented women blow that notion sky high - that’s as good an inspiration as any.
SJ having a lovely Spring walk.
In a recent update, I was whingeing about my skeleton. I’ve now been through the noisy MRI scanner which confirmed an arthritic cervical spine along with other ramshackle bits and pieces. This all nicely compliments my lopsided eyes and is what you get for sitting on your bum at an easel for nearly three decades. I’m trying to stand up more now and I’m also wearing a Fitbit which reminds me to get up and walk 250 steps an hour. I march around the studio at full pelt, sometimes waving my arms around. It gives the nice Indian waiters in the restaurant opposite something to be confused by.
Speaking of which, it’s time for my constitutional. So until we meet again, drink in the longer days; maybe go lamb spotting! Buy yourself (or someone you like) a bunch of flowers. Better still, grow your own, watch and smell the blooms. Let’s get ourselves a nose full of something pure - a fragrant and welcome change from the unavoidable, whiffy manure heaps we find scattered around this life.
ps I will be placing a handful of prints onto the website for Easter, don't ask me what - I'm not organised yet x