Artwork by Bridget Rook-Waterhouse

A site-ful of images and thoughts. Contact: [email protected]

Artist's Diary

27th July 2022:  My Mermaid (La Sirène) lies in a forlorn state on my work-table. There are glimpses of what she hoped to be, in that parts of her peek through the red clay with a brassy shine.  We got so far with the "lost wax" course and seem to have failed at the last hurdle when a date for the firing was changed many times....just as I was moving house!

I went to collect my shrouded mermaid from Le Boulou, where I started the process of sledge-hammering off the clay.  It is, apparently, now up to me to get all the solid clay off the brass model - impossible!  (Margaret tells me she has abandoned her models.)

Will "La Sirène" ever see the light of day?  Don't bother watching this space!


 19th May 2022:  A year and a bit since I last wrote here!  The collage/painting ("Peleton à Céret") I did for the Sant Roch exhibition sold on the night of the vernissage, so I was well-pleased.

Now, however, I am in the throes of a new experience:  "cire perdue" (lost wax). Margaret Dibdin and I signed up for a course at Le Boulou and have been having great fun.  First I was presented with a heavy brick of wax and had no idea how to make my chosen figure (a mermaid) out of it!  Over the next two weeks, I fathomed out how to best mould the wax (heated knife/end of spoon) and have completed a little mermaid.  Margaret made a sanglier and a crazy bird, both in her inimitable style.

Last week, we completely covered our models in fibrous red clay, pushing the clay into the crevices of the models and forming a chimney for the escape of the wax and the pouring in of moulten metal. Now we are waiting for the clay to dry before venturing to the atelier of a black-smith at the Moulin des Arts at Arles-sur-Tech. Watch this space.....!


1st May 2021: Well, we've got this far, the day we exchange little posies of lily-of-the-valley with our loved ones, and the French celebrate la Fête du Travail.  My "travail" recently has been on a picture about bicycles, because, all things being equal, the 15th stage of this year's Tour de France will be starting in this lovely little town of Céret!  The re-organised Art Sant Roch have decided to invite bicycle art-works for exhibition at the time of Le Tour.... so I'm giving it a go.   Huge rainfall recently has helped as it gives priority to indoor activities...such as painting!

 

31st December 2020  A new year is dawning tomorrow....and I see that last January I re-started Life Drawing with my group in Céret. No such luck this January as we are in the most severe lock-down.  Can't even recognise our friends on the street as we are all masked up! I hesitate, but I shall add my two latest collage/paintings to my "Gallery" on this web-site.   They are a bit crazy, but we are in a crazy world right now!  Happy New Year!? 

 

10th November 2020:                                         

This is the art-work I have presented to Gomina salon de coiffure, Le Boulou. You'll agree it needs a bit of explaining! I created it by setting some white cotton fabric alight (outside, using one match!).  I then glued the charred fabric to the canvas.  The picture which emerged from that point was a collage of delights featuring une jolie dame and her blue-bird !  A hair-dressing salon seems just the right place for it, n'est-ce pas? 

Laiku and Gwillam, the proprietors of Gomina, have been very good over the years displaying a variety of pictures by their artistic clients on a rotation system.

 

 14th October 2020:  Great exhibition in full swing at La Salle Manolo in Céret!  Seeing lots of people, some we already know and others are seeing my work for the first time - but all are appreciative of the retrospective display of my work (stretching back over 30 years!)  Funnily enough, the most popular painting seems to be "A Traverse les Platanes" which I painted when we first arrived in Céret.  Also popular are the rough and ready paintings I am displaying in the cradle and which are available free to our visitors.  It's better than throwing them out! 

 13th April 2020:   well, well, who would have thought it?  It's a very weird Easter Monday as everyone round the world is in Lock-down!  But what a chance to sort out my paintings!   Hm! Very difficult task, especially as I am finding paintings from my days at Norwich School of Art and beyond.   Do I keep them or destroy them?  Each one has contributed to my progress in the art field, so has it earned a reprieve?  One or two have been framed, very well, by my friend, and I find myself feeling quite sentimental....     Surely not?  Get rid of them!  Or, as the lock-down seems set to continue for some time, I could put off the decisions til tomorrow.....?!

21st January 2020:  A NEW YEAR has begun!  I am back to Life Drawing - and loving it!  As ever, I am using water-soluble wax pastels, gently drawing out the shadows and nuances with my brush after creating a pencil-like sketch in colour.

   

28th September 2019:   Cooler now, so with a cool head I went to fix up another exhibition of my paintings!!   I even surprised myself, but was very pleased to be told I can exhibit at L'Espace Manolo in Céret in October next year. Wow! So now I have that to look forward to....to show off some of my huge collection of paintings, including quite a lot I have never shown before.  It will be a very interesting exercise! 

 

25th August 2019   No action from me for a few months!  It's now so very hot in the south of France, no-one is doing anything much....

 

24th May 2019: The exhibition at La Capelleta went well.  But I must admit to taking a dislike to one or two of my paintings as they hung there. I suddenly realised that one woman in "Samedi Matin"  didn't look too happy - in fact she was ugly and awful!  So today I've changed her face (remembering the theory that the painting is MINE, to do what I like with....!) The woman looks happier now  -  you can see her in my gallery folder, Recent Paintings. I really wanted to hang this (amended) picture at the Café France, which was, after all, its inspiration, but Romer Kitching has a wonderful painting on the wall there at the moment and I'm told he's not budging! Tant pis!

 

18th February 2019: So here we are in 2019 and it's all go for my exhibition.  Just making a list of guests for my vernissage (Private View) and getting invitations out now to 'overseas' friends so they can plan a visit to Céret in April.  Had the invitations printed at Canva, a brilliant on-line design programme.  Sad to say, my paintings no longer hang in the Café France.  When they re-opened after the annual spring-clean, they invited Romer Kitching to hang one of his extremely impressive realist paintings.  I continue, however, to be fascinated by the café scene and have developed a more impressionistic style of depiction - a couple of these paintings will, I hope, be shown at La Capelleta.

 25th November 2018:  I have now received confirmation that I shall be exhibiting at La Capelleta, Céret, in April next year, at Easter time! The painting of four women was finished a while back and is titled "Samedi Matin", because my inspiration came from a group of local women who meet at the café in Céret each Saturday morning after they have been shopping on the market.  Once I had finished that painting, I looked back on some older works and chose to 'renovate' "Casot Catalan", which is now hanging in Le Café France in Céret.

 29th April 2018:  Finished the painting of the two women at the café, and have now started a painting of four women at the café!  Can't put photographs of these in my 'Gallery' on this site, as I want them to surprise visitors to my next exhibition - whenever that may be.... (I have plans for 2019 !)

 18th January 2018: Bonne année!  Happy New Year!          Just recovering from my first ever bout of bronchitis!  Once I'm back to full strength, I'll have a lot to do in my studio! Before Christmas I started a painting of 'Les Copines' - two women meeting for coffee, but actually not speaking to each other on account of modern technology - and it needs to be finished!  Back in October I painted 'Phantom Casot' for a friend.... really enjoyed doing it, using some of my favourite techniques like masking fluid etc. 

 

 2nd September 2017:  Where has the year gone?   Yes, I have framed up some of my life sketches (from nude model sessions), but have also been painting again.  At the start of summer, I went to see the Dali exhibition at our local Musée d'Art Moderne in Céret, and came home to paint 'Summer Madness'.   And now, since I enjoy painting scenes which may have a social significance   e.g. 'J'en perds mon Latin' (three ladies trying to understand their new phones), I have painted 'Techno-girl', showing a young girl, surrounded by the sights and sounds of a colourful fête, ignoring them all because she is so deep into her I-phone.  A familiar sight, n'est-ce pas?

 

 6th May 2017:  Trying to get my paintings into some sort of order as I'm hoping to have another exhibition next year.  Some may need framing etc.

 

 13th February 2017: Went up the valley into the mountains recently and couldn't wait to get back to my easel to paint some wintry scenes. See them by clicking on Gallery.  Even I was surprised how different they are from my usual work!

 

 15th December 2016:  For now, the art will have to wait..... and anyway, it's Christmas!  Enjoy!

 

20th September 2016:  We have had such a hot summer, it has been difficult to settle to any art-work.  I visited the exhibition currently running at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Céret....full of magnificent sculptures by Maillol, and also a collection of his impressive paintings.  Back in the studio I'm working on an acrylic paint version of 'Saying Goodbye'.   Life drawing sessions once a week help to keep my focus!

 

 2nd August 2016:  Trying my hand at Indian-ink/gouache wash-outs.  Haven't used this method for ages.... waiting now to wash out 'Saying Goodbye' which was inspired by a sketch done at an airport.  It's a young woman on her mobile phone surrounded by hustle and bustle, but totally focused on her phone call.  Typical situation of today!  Time to wash off the ink......

 

15th June 2016:  I have just completed "Tourbillon", a 50cm square painting, which has led me on a merry dance! I started with some splashes and streaks of gesso which I allowed to dry.  The shapes the gesso made then led me to paint a rather weird picture, quite unlike any previous work.  It's full of ghostly faces and swirls and the face which is most central is 'reversible':  smiling one way and miserable the other.  So, how to hang such a picture?  I've signed it on all four bottom right corners and will fix hangings to allow a constant turning of the painting on a daily basis.  I shall try to insert a photo of this latest work on my Home page - just for amusement!

 

 22nd April 2016:  Have just put the photos of my pictures as they appeared in my exhibition at La Capelleta, Céret, on to Photo Gallery page and they are also in a separate file: Exhibition 2016.  So now anyone who was unable to attend, can see what they missed!

 

3rd March 2016:  In the throes of preparing for my exhibition (see poster was on Home page).  Have done some new work to add to the mix, including the beach painting chosen for the poster.  Invitations are going out in relays - first to friends in the UK.  And I'm delighted to say one or two are coming to Céret specially for the event!

 

1st January 2016 !!!!!  Another year begins!  I'm now having to focus on my exhibition to be held in the beautiful Capelleta, Céret, the first week in April.  I certainly have enough paintings - but which to choose?.........

 

6th December 2015:  Still painting beach scenes as I decided to do a set of four!  Have also been etching a bit too: aquatint titled Casot à Cerét and another aquatint which has almost defeated me - but I'm experimenting with over-printing it (to define the picture) with a Plex-glass dry-point.  Hoping to buy more water-soluble pastels this week for my Life Drawing sessions.

 

15th August 2015:  The beach has it.  I'm spending an inordinate amount of time painting a pair of 'beach' canvasses.  They sit side by side on two easels in my studio - and I'm enjoying developing the two beach scenes, using the same palette and style, taking my time.  Got some new brushes from a UK company called Rosemary (!?) and gave a bunch of my old brushes to a creative atelier in Céret where the kids can make use of them.

 

16th July 2015:  Still too hot to do much work but I have been looking back through all my paintings, checking that my list is up to date.  Each one of them is packed in bubble-wrap and stored on a purpose-built unit in the garage, but they are in no order - just jammed in willy-nilly!  They range from my first efforts with acrylic ('Sports Special') back in the 1980s to my most recent paintings, such as 'Ciel Rouge' and 'L'Eglise'. There's even 'The Oak', painted in powder paint at school when I was ejected from the Art class and sent to sit and gaze out of the window of the Assembly Hall - at an oak tree!     What a journey it has been!

 

3rd July 2015:  We're in the middle of a 'canicule'!  It's a heat-wave which has taken temperatures to almost 40deg, so watching Wimbledon (also hot) has taken priority during this fortnight.  On my easel, I have the beginnings of a beach scene acrylic painting.  I was inspired to start this since going to the beach for the first time in May.... but I started painting it on paper, so don't know if it will be developed further, or transferred to a canvas, which is my preferred support.   I've also completed an amusing collage of a woman and a man sitting up in bed, surrounded by worldly goods.  I titled it "Is this You?" as I know many couples who might identify with the sentiment expressed!  "La Brique Ancienne" (mentioned below) can bee seen in my Gravure/Etchings portfolio under Gallery.

 26th April 2015:  I'm concentrating on producing a dual-print titled "La Brique Ancienne", inspired by a very unusual building brick I found in my garden... so watch this space! 

22nd March 2015:  My 'hanging' titled "L'Eglise" is back up in the stair-well of the Médiathèque here in Céret.  It draws many compliments from people passing through this very lively centre for the arts/library.  At present, apart from trying to produce some more dry-point etchings in Plexi-glas, I'm once again tackling the gouache/Indian ink method of producing a picture.  Have done two cafe scenes this week...not totally happy with them, but may decide to put them in my Gallery on this site later.  Have just up-loaded a few more etching photos as I gather my site is now linked to that of the Ex-Libris Gravure site.

 4th January 2015:   IT'S A NEW YEAR!  I'm occupied drawing illustrations for a friend's poetry book, but will continue Life Drawing, Etching and Painting.  It's tempting to dream of a 'Retrospective' exhibition sometime in the future as I would like to see my body of work to date hung out to view!!

 

30th November 2014:  Well, the exhibition was even more successful than I had dared hope! I was very pleased by the reactions - and the compliments written in the 'Livre D'Or'.  And now I have another couple of prints in the current exhibition at the same venue (Mediatheque). I seem to be concentrating on dry-point printing at present, trying to improve my inking-up technique.  My other amusement is taking photos around town of weird and wonderful objects/signs etc - a trick taught me by a Norfolk friend who visited Ceret recently.  I then 'doctor' these photos on the computer to make them look like part of another object or a face, and send them to her.   She is far more skilled than I am with graphics etc, so she can then add her effects....  We might be mad but it makes us laugh!  Shall I ever get back to painting?

 

21st October 2014: I have been visiting my exhibition from time to time, but can't always get in as the opening times of the Mediatheque (Library) are a bit limited: Tuesday 1.30 - 6pm, Wednesday 9.30 - 12 and 1.30 - 6pm, Thursday 1.30 pm - 6pm, Friday 1.30 - 6pm, Saturday 9.30 - 4.30pm....and it's on until the end of October.  I would be pleased to receive an email ([email protected]) from anyone who goes to see it, to let me know what they think.  Thank you!

 4th October 2014: The vernissage (opening) of my exhibition in Ceret, showing the oeuvre monumentale in the stair-well:

 

 3rd October 2014:  Hurrah! The giant hanging is hung!  The first attempt at printing it turned out to be a good learning experience as we eventually abandoned that design completely and went for a more over-all pattern version of the painting, to give more colour at the foot of the massive banner.  It was put in place yesterday afternoon - as I sat at a cafe just round the corner from the Mediatheque (no-one bothered to tell me it was happening!)  But when I got to see it, I was impressed!  The rest of my exhibition, in the upstairs gallery is also in place - looking good!  Vernissage tomorrow at 11.30.........

 

28th September 2014:  made another Plexi-plate this week, titled Cafe en Hiver, and printed it and framed it ready for my exhibition, opening on Saturday 4th October.  My afore-mentioned 'framing problems' have diminished into nothing compared with other problems arising at the Mediatheque where I'm trying to hang a hugely elongated version of one of my paintings ready for the vernissage.  Heck! That gives me five days to get it done... watch this space!  With a fair wind and a piece of elastic (as they used to say!)........

 

 12th September 2014: Plans are afoot for an Atelier Ouvert at Helle's house on Blvd Joffre on Saturday (13th Sep.)  The weather has been brilliant lately and there are a lot of tourists in Ceret, so we hope for massive "foot-fall" (as the shop-keepers say).  Meanwhile, I've been battling with framing problems - more of which later...

 

3rd September 2014: Joined in a viscosity printing course, tutored by Sandra Porter, at the Gravure Centre in Ceret.  We all made 'plates' by sticking  mixed media on to card.... and we each managed to print two proofs on the rickety press.  Not hugely successful!  So today I've been finishing off my latest paintings done completely with a palette knife.  Each is a cafe scene, but with a bright red background, they have an unusually festive air.... and when Helle came to visit she said she liked them.

 

 27th July 2014:   Lovely hot weather!  Bought a new fan for my studio so can work in comfort, but it doesn't stop the acrylic paints from drying on the palette a bit too fast!  (Yes, I know, I do spray them with a water bottle every now and then).  My painting has taken a very strange turn...I'm painting in blocks of colour, inspired by the small(ish) paintings of Ceret houses which recently became increasingly unrealistic.  It's good fun!  More fun too at the Centre de Gravure - merrily printing out my first Plexi-glas plates.

 

26th June 2014:   Is intaglio printing to become my new hobby?  I have joined the Centre de Gravure in Ceret and am taking tentative steps back to the etching practice I had at Art School many years ago.   At the Centre there is no sign of acid baths or aquatint boxes - just a choice of presses, ranging from quite small to massive.  The place is eco-friendly, so for dry-point work, we ink up our Plexiglas plate, take a print and then rinse the plate off with cooking oil.... all a bit different from my experience of sliding a steel plate into a bath of acid and feathering it to encourage 'the bite'!   On another front, I am looking ahead to my exhibition in Ceret in October and have big plans which must remain secret until finalised.   I have already created new work, some of which is currently being framed, but I need more!  I have been inspired by a recent visit to The Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, UK, where some interesting art by the "Bloomsbury set" was on show.

 

24th April 2014:  Just received an email from a New York Gallery inviting me to submit my portfolio... upon closer inspection it seems I can join their band of happy artists for 3,850 US dollars for 18 months. Wow!

11th March 2014:  Much enjoyed a recent visit to Art14 at Olympia in London - if only for the unsurpassed deliciousness of the carrot/coriander soup I had for lunch there!!  But actually the fair was an eye-opener for me. There were, it seemed, not many conventional paintings on show, and a lot of computer enhanced/photographic work....all very interesting and inspiring.  I have now added a Life Drawing folder to my Gallery on this site: oil pastel has turned out to be my medium of the moment and I especially enjoyed recently drawing the statuesque black silken body of Celeste, a model I hadn't seen for about 6 years - completely unchanged in the interim!

 23rd February 2014:  Lots of life drawing going on - trying different techniques.  I thought the use of Water-soluble oil pastels was going to be favourite, but I've reverted to oil pastels for a bolder approach!  Also reviving my fascination with mono-printing - doing repeats of 'Pourquoi?' which is now the title of the large female image I mentioned when I last wrote.  And, by the way, Spring is here bringing a good dose of sunshine...and a few blooming daffodils in a corner of my French garden!

14th January 2014:  One of my friends from Ceret has emailed from America to say "How's about up-dating your website?"  So, Paula, here I am!  Latest news is I've gesso-ed over one of my large canvases and am having fun pulling an image (female form) out of the surface, using scattered bits of newspaper and acrylic paint (dark tones).  Also playing around with some more papier-mache figures - quite mad!

3rd October 2013: To summarise the last few weeks, in between a lot of visits to the beach, I have made two more 'burnt fabric' pictures, more papier-mache figurines, collage of a rather green face - and have decided oil painting is not for me, after all!  Also went to life drawing a couple of times chez P.Grau at Le Boulou....used paint only.  Have been in touch with a new source of inspiration - possibility of new ideas, conveniently right in the middle of Ceret.

 11th August 2013:  Have swapped a few of the pictures in 'my (photo) gallery', in order to make more sense.  Finally finished 'Cherry Tree' in oils and have bought another canvas - waiting for inspiration! 

9th June 2013: Yes, I've made a couple of masks and some figurines of papier-mache, but now, believe it or not, I'm onto something new!  I did my first oil painting at evening class in London 'way back when - and have never done any more, until now!  I bought a handful of cheap tubes of oil paint, some linseed oil and some turps; covered over with gesso an old acrylic painting on a small canvas and tried out my 'skill' as an oil painter, using just a palette knife.   I nearly went mad, as my sister will attest!  I wrote her several emails pleading for advice about how to control this peculiar paint, which has a distinctive smell (or the turps does anyway), how to mix colours, how not to get it all over myself because I forget it hasn't yet dried...etc....  Mostly, all she said was "You have to find your own way".  Hmmm!     Anyway, it's a week or so down the line now and I'm finding my own way, I think.  I'll upload my 'Cherry Tree' pic to My Gallery.  To my eyes, it has a certain lushousness which acrylics don't express.

6th March 2013:  Papier-mache!  The last time I used this 'art-form' was at the age of 8 when I made a little pink bowl decorated with blue flowers...  ah! I remember it well!  And so now I'm having a renaissance - with some friends of like mind.  One of us has huge experience of this method, so is guiding us through the initial stages of papier-mache creation.  Lots of strips of newspaper, globs of wall-paper paste, layering like mad on a chosen bowl shape... wonderful fun!  Waiting for created items to dry, however, is a matter of patience, particularly as the weather this week has been wetter than ever before!

5th February 2013:  Back to Life Drawing!  Hadn't been to a Life session for months, so managed to get myself off the sofa and out into the night to drive to Pierre's studio in Le Boulou last Monday evening (20.00h - 22.00h).  Model Letitia provided us with various poses.  I used oil pastel, then turned to my  paints, which I used to define the outline of the body; filled in a few shapes with oil pastel, then ran another colour through the whole thing. Interesting!   And on another interesting point:  I now have a magnificent rack in the garage for my paintings! (See my entry in this diary for 7th November). The chap who came to build it, interpreted my plan exactly right and finished it in record time (one-and-a-half days)....so now I have to get organised!  Meanwhile, I went to try my hand at clay modelling at Helle's studio.  I'm not really enamoured with the medium but I managed to make a (very useful) book-end, and once Helle had fired it, I went to paint it.  It is really grotesque with a mask-like face (left)!

 20th January 2013:  Who likes January?  Not many people, and I'm no exception.  In fact, to combat the winter blues, I set light to pieces of cloth and pasted them onto my next canvas.....two weeks later, I have a picture called 'The Enchanted Forest' (see Gallery), with the burnt edges of the white cotton fabric creating shadowy trees.   I also did another gouache/indian ink picture (small, 20 x 13cm) of 'Big Lady' to send to the Maison des Artistes for their 2013 project. Geddit? 2013, each artwork to measure 20 x 13cm!  Nice idea.

 26th December 2012 (Boxing Day):  The artwork I 'got on with', as mentioned in my last diary entry, was of the gouache/Indian ink variety.  It has been a relief to work on smaller pieces, and I invited Helle, my Norwegian friend, to come and try out the technique in my studio.  We had mixed results!  Then, I decided to go to the Art session at Sant Roch with tutor Pierre Grau one Monday morning - Great! He produced wedges of polystyrene and a portrait of a coloured man and said paint this using the wedge, in as many colours as you like!  I did like, and the resulting picture can be seen in the folder marked 'Selection of my work' in my Gallery on this site.   Happy New Year!

7th November 2012: The exhibition was a runaway success, with over 600 visitors during the month.  I'm greatly relieved as I didn't know how it would go...but hooray (or is it hurrah?)! Returning to normality has been strange after sitting 'en garde' at La Capelleta for so many weeks, watching people come and go, staring at my work to the accompaniment of Mozart. But I was inspired yesterday to sort out all the pictures I have stored at home here, and I must say I look forward to the time I can boast a proper storage rack which will preserve my work at eye level in an orderly fashion.  Meanwhile, must get on with a bit of art....

24th September 2012:  All paintings for the exhibition at La Capelleta are stacked in the hallway, invitations to the vernissage have been sent out, posters are up around Ceret town....  Am I looking forward to the exhibition?  Mixed feelings....  "On verra!"

 17th August 2012:  Very hot weather, but that means time to stay in my studio in the afternoons and get on with some painting!  Tried a rather weird experiment with 'drawing gum' recently which led to the production of a 'mood' picture - all in tones of mauve, blue and brown, depicting two plane trees with associated strange buildings and silhouettes of a couple of people.  I found it very interesting, having applied the drawing gum, then over-painting with a layer of mixed acrylics, to peel off the drawing gum.  It was like a magic revelation!

 

  16th July 2012: It has been somewhat bizarre this past weekend, the weekend of La Feria in Ceret, to see the poster I designed (in blue, black and white) being displayed all over the town!

12th June 2012:  Ages since I last wrote anything here - so it's impossible to say exactly what I've been doing in the meantime!  All I know is that since being invited to exhibit at the Capelleta, Ceret, in October, I've been working jolly hard!  I have finished "La Plage II", mentioned below, and am currently working on "La Plage III", having finished a cafe scene and another Ceret scene, both on large canvasses.  Added to this, I try to get to Life drawing on Friday afternoons - using bamboo-pen and Indian ink.

 18th February 2012:  Working hard in the studio, on large format canvasses, well, 115 x 90cm, which is big enough for me!  Have completed another kaleidoscopic view of Ceret ("Ceret IV"), derived from sketches around the town over the past few months.  I am fascinated by the nooks and crannies which catch the eye in the old part of town, and the wrought iron-work seen on the balconies... difficult to paint, but I enjoyed it.  I know the Old Masters (and Lucien Freud!) took years to complete a painting, but I took at least a month of intensive work to finish "Ceret IV", which, for me, is long enough (I'm obviously not an Old Master, or even Mistress!).  Now I'm conjuring up a beach scene - a bit tricky when the weather outside is so cold, but it gives me pleasure to look back on my sketches from last summer, dreaming of the summer to come when the heat of the sand burns one's feet, running down to the surf for a swim.  Also I must mention Paula, a brilliant photographer, who is possibly the only person who regularly reads my diary  : )

5th January 2012 !!!!:  The Gresham's exhibition was, by all accounts, a huge success..... and now here we are in another year.  Please take a look at the folder in My Gallery to see my latest experiment with oil pastels and gouache.  I have no idea where this girl ('Girl I') came from, but I was inspired to try the technique on human faces.  Perhaps it was looking at a book about the Hungarian Fauves which did it!  I was given this book by a very good friend, and have been studying all the bright and impressionistic works shown in it.

15th November 2011:  Heading to the UK for the vernissage of "Drawing from Life" at the Nicholson Gallery, Gresham's School, Holt.  Really looking forward to meeting some new artists - and being reunited with the original group of Life artists...not to mention Dorcas, the model for us all over many years!

30th September 2011:  Well, well, summer continues (after a bad patch) and I continue to take time out on the beach, still jotting away in my sketch pad.   My sister, Angela Cullen, is currently working on a beach picture at an art course in Sussex (Dairy Art) and she sent me some of her sketches.... she is so good at giving her figures 'volume' - mine look like cartoons alongside!  I've put a few of my oil pastel/gouache pictures into a separate folder in my 'Gallery'; there are some strange effects!

 29th August 2011:  "This is summer" is nearly WAS summer! I've been getting on and moving on apace!  Have now packed up the pictures of Dorcas which are to be transported to Norfolk, UK, for an exhibition at the Ben Nicholson Gallery, Gresham's School, Holt, in November.... and I'm taken up at the moment with oil pastel/gouache paint pictures. (Will try to upload 'Debut de Journee a la Riviere' to my Gallery page). Am about to order more gouache paints from Artifolk as I've been scrimping along on nearly empty tubes which I happened to find in a drawer!

12th July 2011:  Have been working recently on what I call Indian ink 'bleach-outs',(see left), but they're really a method using gouache paint, waiting for it to dry, covering the entire 'painting' with Indian ink, letting that dry - then washing the whole paper so that the ink lifts off where the gouache was painted, leaving slight colour tints..and, of course, dense black where the ink was applied to plain paper.  I tried explaining this method to Margaret Dibden (my artist-colleague) but, without a demo, she "didn't understand a word!"  So, I guess this will be MY SECRET method!  We are looking forward to a portion of a giant paella in the Sant Roch courtyard tomorrow evening, so hope the threatening storms won't dampen it!  Also there'll be a firework display in Ceret later in the evening.  This is summer! Hurrah!

2nd June 2011:  The weather was pretty chilly for my Balade mid-May, but I did have some visitors, and was particularly pleased to welcome my some-time tutor Pierre Grau on Saturday evening.  The following Tuesday I was off to Paris, clutching a ticket for the Manet exhibition at the Musee D'Orsay.  I have to admit that seeing 'great art' in a very warm gallery as I shuffle round with hundreds of other viewers is not my idea of heaven!  BUT lunch afterwards in the mirrored and chandeliered restaurant at the Musee D'Orsay (which was once a grand railway station) was worth the visit.  You gather from this that even the 'Dejeuner sur l'Herbe' by Manet left me under-whelmed.  Oh dear!   Perhaps my favourite was 'Portrait of Victorine Meurent' with its expert use of light and shade on the face.

Yesterday, I was busy at the Centre de Rhumatologie, Medipol, Cabestany, hanging an exhibition of my paintings around the walls of the reception area.  It really is a very good venue and the 15 paintings are well shown off - and will, I hope, be of interest to waiting patients!

Work-wise, I have just finished 'Golden Lady' - the result of much re-working of a life study.  Currently hanging in my stair-well, I'm not sure yet whether she'll ever see much light of day.....!

 11th May 2011:  Hastily getting ready for Balade en Terre des Artistes...in other words, Open Studio in conjunction with regional organisation. My studio here at home will be open from 11a.m. til 5p.m. on Saturday and Sunday 14th/15th May.  Looking forward to welcoming old friends and new! 

19th April 2011: Exhibition at the Musee du Liege is underway after a very successful vernissage.  It's open every afternoon except Tuesdays, so anyone who wishes can go along and see my latest work.  Realised I hadn't picked up a paint-brush for a couple of weeks, so went to the Sant Roch atelier yesterday where we were asked to paint a copy of a photo of Amy Winehouse!  Was hoping to hear there was a resumption of Life Drawing classes chez Pierre Grau, but not yet....so, today I looked through my past Life work and have started a new picture based on one of the sketches.

 1st April 2011:  Haven't been able to upload the poster for my expo, but the posters are now all around the town and invitations for the vernissage have gone out...so all that's left to do is hang the pictures in the gallery at Maureillas.  Hope they'll look OK! The most recently finished was a collage/acrilyc titled 'Le Lac' - all blues and greens and a bit of yellow mimosa.  And, by the way, the cafe scene I was worrying about when I last wrote  ended up titled 'Le sac-a-main rouge' - and it has been sold! (One less for the exhibition! Hm!)

 

23rd February 2011:  Well, who'd ever have thought I'd see the day when one of my paintings (left, an imitation portrait) would appear on the cover of a book!  But there it is on a paperback titled "Florian's Legacy" - available from http://www.pyjamapress.com/ and www.amazon/books.com

 

30th January 2011:  We did some collage at Sant Roch last Monday, which made a nice change!  I didn't finish my picture properly, and neither did the other 'students';  they'll probably go back this week to finish off, but I have so much to do in my studio at home, I'll probably give Sant Roch a miss.  I'm struggling to change many aspects of a cafe scene which I painted over the top of 'Vendredi Soir' - and thought I had finished a while back.... but wasn't happy with it.  Now I'm altering it, trying to make the fugures more lively, and I'm still not happy with it, but I soldier on!  Also changed the colours on 'Miss Mediterranean' when I got her home from the exhibition in Perpignan.  I could see the colours were far too far towards the purple range, so I've re-done certain areas in more cheery colours.  Watch out for the poster giving details of my expo in April!

5th January 2011: So here we are in another year!   The latest phase to get me in its grip painting-wise is impasto, thick, cut-with-a-knife, mix like a pudding, shovel it towards the canvas....  but I haven't abandoned my favourite subject: the good old casot!  So now I have two very impressionistic paintings of casots, which I've titled 'Casot Primitif', more for the style of painting than the state of the little cabins!  And what about the music which accompanies my artistic endeavours?  Heck! For Christmas I was given a three-CD album of Elvis Presley's best - and those tunes take me back beyond my hey-dey in London!  There's been no-one like EP since.  But I must admit I dilute him with a bit of Great Opera Choruses from time to time.

1st December 2010:    How time flies.....another month gone....a trio of paintings finished.  Well, I say finished, but I'm still in doubt about my large abstract which has occupied me, in my dreams at night too!  I tried to explain to my co-artist Margaret Dibden when she visited this afternoon how this image had come about - but I couldn't!  It's under wraps until my expo next April, so can't show it here, but it is very strong - too strong?!  Looking forward to Friday's get-together of 'students' at the vernissage of 'le maitre', Pierre Grau, whose work is on show at Sant Roch, Ceret, until end-December.  (As you can see, I've just learnt how to use coloured text!!)

1st November 2010: Well, I'm going to have to get my skates on!  I have been invited to exhibit at the Musee du Liege in Maureillas next April.   Having accepted, I then looked through my paintings and found that actually there were only eight major works which have not been exhibited before.... and the gallery at Musee du Liege takes at least 15!  Anyway, the Vieux Casot is coming along quite nicely - and it's different from my previous casots.  In fact, I went for a little walk into the countryside just up the road from here, the other day and came back with sketches of three more casots - for future reference!  Meanwhile, 'Miss Mediterranean' is taking shape on another canvas on another easel alongside....

12th October 2010:  It's finished!  The cafe scene in Perpignan has taken me ages! But now it's hanging in the sitting room in all its 'glory'!?  I've called it "Debut de Journee, Perpignan" as it was quite early in the morning when I did the sketch on which it's based, and there were few people about.  I must admit it didn't turn out quite as expected as I had aimed to do an impressionist painting - but that urge to take up an ever smaller paint-brush and work in the details overwhelmed me once again!  However, I now have two blank canvasses glaring at me.  Quite scary!  But I find myself going down the path of yet another 'ancient casot' painting.  I have prepared the 'rough' painting on paper, and cut it up to rearrange the pieces for that BR-W 'chopped up' look!  So, big canvas, here I come......    (The smaller canvas is reserved for a 'Mediterranean' subject, possibly for an expo Dec - Jan.)

4th October 2010:  Just to say I'm still around.  Got back to painting today after all the re-arranging of my studio, so will have further news very sooooon! 

 8th August 2010:  Painting has come to a standstill due to a bit of building work in the vicinity of my studio - well, actually, in my studio.  I'm relinquishing a corner of my space for the sake of a bigger bathroom nextdoor.  The up side of this is that I shall persuade the plumber to provide me with a fully functional sink in an alcove of my studio - better than having to cross the hallway each time my water-pot needs refreshing!

The painting which currently languishes, covered by a plastic sheet, on my easel, is the reincarnation of 'Vendredi Soir'.  The disco dancer had, in the end, to succumb to a thorough gesso-ing.  In other words, she failed to please my eye sufficiently to avoid 'the chop', so when I found myself without a canvas to work on, she was sacrificed.  And now I'm struggling to create a painting from a sketch I made sitting in a cafe in Perpignan.  If this one's no good, it too could see the wrong side of a coat of gesso!

 18th July 2010:  Very hot weather, but it hasn't deterred me from painting!  Spent a delightful day with a group in the garden of Genevieve/Helene a week or so back; finding a shady spot under an old cherry tree, I was able to conjure up a little scene across the lawn to the swimming-pool, surrounded by pink and white oleander.   A swim before a shared picnic lunch was the highlight, plus, of course, a glass of sangria! Since then, I have been on a flight of fancy, re-constructing a cut-up still-life painting I did last year.  I liked the colours (mainly red and soft green) and when I set about representing it as an abstract painting, I enjoyed creating various forms which suggest everyday items - but not quite realistically. I think it will be titled "Maria's pot", since the original still-life had in it a ceramic pot given to me many years ago by a Spanish friend, Maria.  By the way, the exhibiton at the Palais des Congres in Perpignan was a huge success.... full of inspired art-works (don't know if I can include mine in that!), mostly unconventional and brilliantly colourful.  I was sorry when it was over - but I bet I was the only artist who went to collect her picture on the local bus!

4th June 2010: It's June already!   Yes, I did paint  'a beach scene', but it turned out to be a somewhat impressionistic painting of a sunbathing woman - very large.  I used all sorts of techniques with my acrylic paints, including rollers, which didn't work very well, but, because of that, the imprint on the canvas was mottled/interesting!  Since then I have completed another 'paysage' picture, which I have not yet named, but yes! it does have 'mention' of the ubiquitous casots of this region.  I took photos throughout each stage of this painting and it proves very informative to look through the process.  Eventually, when it has a title, I'll upload it to my 'Gallery', but right now I'm launching into yet another large canvas...

5th May 2010:  Next event on the calendar is the 'Balade en Terre d'Artistes', an Open Studio Weekend in the Perpignan region.  Just received the brochures, a few invitation cards (just 6!) and posters, plus printed purple arrows, presumably to point the way of all art-lovers towards my studio!  So on the weekend of 15th/16th May, (10a.m. - 6p.m.) I hope to welcome anyone interested in seeing my paintings, to my studio...which might, or might not, be tidied up for the occasion!  I have just completed 'Ceret III' (see Picture Gallery) and have immediately turned my hand to my next large canvas, with ideas of, maybe, possibly, another beach scene!

12th April 2010: A friend who reads this diary regularly made a valid point:  what are your sister's pictures like?  So, I have just put two of them into the Photo Gallery.  They are "Chemise Jaune" and "Lilies".

24th March 2010:  Nearly at the end of the exhibition...and it has been great fun and very interesting to see and hear people's reactions to the melange of paintings by my sister and me.  The vernissage was well-attended and we had several e-mails the following day saying what a success it had been - including the amuse-bouches and the cava!  Then we had the snowfall of the century!  But La Capelleta was open every day as advertised, except one morning when we had to go and dig out my sister's car from a snowdrift in Argeles!  The best day as far as visitor numbers are concerned was last Sunday when we saw 93 people come through the doors!

 3rd March 2010:  Opened the show yesterday!  All went well at the 'hanging' of the exhibition - somewhat to everyone's surprise, I think!  And now we have a month ahead of invigilating at La Capelleta, with the invitation-only vernissage on Friday.  The arrangement of pictures in a mixed format seems highly successful - my somewhat bold oeuvres interspersed with Angela's delightfully sensitive work.  Must buy L'Independent (local newspaper) today to see if the journalist who called in on Monday has submitted his article yet.....

25th February 2010:  Yes, I have produced another "Debut de journee au cafe", and that's the final piece of artwork to be completed before the opening of my exhibition at La Capelleta in Ceret.   Currently very busy sending out invitations and getting posters put up around town.  My sister, who is sharing the expo with me, is on her way down through France with her pictures piled in the back of the car!   I shall get to see them - and she mine - on Monday when we hang the exhibition.  That should be a testing time in terms of sibling rivalry!

4th February 2010:  "Debut de journee au cafe" - that's the title of my latest picture, referred to below.  And today I have bought another canvas of the same size (73 x 60cm) upon which I might be tempted to produce a second version of the same subject!

2nd February 2010:  It's all stations go for our exhibition at La Capelleta in Ceret!  I finally got a letter of confirmation from the Office du Tourisme to say we have the gallery for the whole month of March.   My sister and I have had much cross-Channel discussion about the posters and leaflets for this event, and are now waiting for the printing to take place (not cheap!)  Meanwhile Angela is working away at her still-life studies in the UK and I'm getting on with whatever I want as I think I already have enough new pictures for my half of the expo.   And just for the heck of it, I have painted "Early Morning at the Cafe", based on sketches made in Ceret cafes in winter time, when the atmosphere is generally subdued and the morning newspapers are avidly read. (Must, however, come up with a French title for the oeuvre).

6th January 2010:  So here we are on the other side of Christmas/New Year.  I've had to practise writing 2010, 2010, 2010... just in case I get it wrong on a cheque or something!  Certainly more aesthetically pleasing than 2009, I think!  It was true I spent a lot of time ripping newspaper - not just because the news in the UK papers is so dismal - but to get my next oeuvre moving along.  Finished it today!  I've titled it 'Voleur' (Thief) because the character who came out of nowhere to dominate the scene just looks like a mischievous imp - or thief!  See him on the 'cover' of my Picture Gallery.  This (right) is what he looked like halfway through the creative process.

 22nd December 2009:  Well, well! Since I last wrote in this diary, I have completed 'El Casot VII'!!  And a painting called 'Vendredi Soir', which is derived from a Life Drawing session, but metamorphosed into a type of disco scene.  And right now, just before Christmas, I'm clearing the decks to start ripping those old newspapers again!  My hope is to produce a lively collage in the style of 'Rebel' which was a centre of attention at my exhibition last March (or else the visitors couldn't bring themselves to peer too closely at the nudes on offer!)  So, the festive season may come and go and I'll be under a pile of paper, glue and paint in my atelier.  Heaven!               (I just hope Cedric won't be interfering like he has this morning, ending up with back paws covered in Prussian Blue as he jumps on to my work table to look out of the window!  Can track him through the house now, following the blue paw-prints....)  

19th November 2009:   Finished 'El Casot VI' - at last!   Will review it in a few days' time before I varnish it.....     Other good news, my sister has agreed to share my next expo in Ceret with me!  Our styles of painting are pretty dissimilar, so it will be an interesting exercise.  I greatly look forward to it!   Must get on with some more 'grand format' paintings.....

8th November 2009: Listening to Smokey Robinson's latest CD, in particular his version of 'Don't Know Why (I didn't Call)'.  Like it!

5th November 2009:  Not progressing very well with 'El Casot VI' so went off, with fellow artist Margaret Dibdin, to Life drawing session yesterday afternoon.  The model was tall and beautifully proportioned but I think it was her debut as an artists' model ... and she kept her clothes on!  Grumbling slightly, I decided to make the most of the situation and ended up with one or two passable drawings.  The trouble was that I decided not to take my paints this time, but used oil pastels - and found the technique quite difficult as the pastels give a rather feeble result.

20th October 2009: 'El Casot V' has been finished for a while - could be my favourite of all the casot pictures I've painted.   And since finishing that I moved on swiftly to something completely different: 'Femme Coincee', depicting a grotesque and grotesquely contorted woman fighting to get out of a pale blue frame-work!  I kept the painting on this one (again 116 x 89cm) quite impressionistic, using what I call 'scrubbing brushes' with very little finesse.  I am also trying to dicipline myself to keep a note of the range of colours I use for each painting.  The thinking behind this is that if I want a new picture to be similar in atmosphere to a previous one, I shall be able to refer to the palette used before.  Another large canvas awaits me on the easel.... 'El Casot VI'?  We shall see!  I took a walk up to my favourite orchard today and sketched the little casot there.  It has a tiny make-shift chimney which was featured in 'El Casot II', but which my sister thought was an oast house! Oh dear! (It's her Kentish up-bringing, y'know!)

Note:  I'm now writing the most recent entry in this diary at the top of the page.

July 11th 2009:  have just finished a large (116 x 89cm) canvas, using acrylics, titled 'Dappled Shade II', based on a little gouache sketch I did while camping in the mountains.  I'll keep it by me for the nexy few days until I decide it really is finished and I can go ahead and varnish it.

August 9th 2009:   As it turned out, I decided not to varnish 'Dappled Shade II', but it is finished and now forms the background to this site.  Since then, I have produced several more gouache sketches, one of which was done from the garden of my friend Paula on a hot July morning.  It depicts the gardens (allotments) which flourish in the centre of town (Ceret) and everything looked very green and lush.  Doubt if I did it justice, but I worked on it a little bit more when I got home .  It measures a mere 18 x 21cm, so is not in keeping with my normal way of painting.   I feel a large oeuvre will have to be started very soon.  Watch this space.....

August 19th 2009:  Some of my paintings are on display at a local hotel so the walls of my studio are looking rather bare.  I spent some time yesterday tidying up one or two of the little paint-sketches I've done. I then photograph them and transfer them to my computer - and they look much better! As for that "large oeuvre", I'm in the process of 'undoing' a previous collage/painting in order to re-use the canvas.  Fortunately the 'canvas' is linen so was able to take the treatment:  I used a sponge and water to remove the paper collage - and now that the canvas is dry, I shall apply a thickish coat of gesso - all the time thinking about my next subject.

September 9th, 2009:  That picture turned out to be 'Jardin Abandonne' (see photo gallery).   So now I'm back to large format (116 x 89cm) and am challenging myself with a painting of 'La Plage'.  It stems from all the little sketches I have made over the past three years while sitting on the beach (half-an-hour from here).  This evening, by the way, I'm invited to attend the vernissage of Lily Masson's expo in Ceret.  Although she's an artist in her own right, she is also the daughter of Andre Masson who was a leading light in the early days of Surrealism and whose work will be exhibited in Aix-en-Provence next year.  Lily's mother was from Ceret.

September 22nd, 2009:  'La Plage' is finished - quite dramatic in its way!  And so off I went to Color-I to buy three more large format canvases.  One is currently on my easel with a partial rendering of a new Casot picture.  This will be Casot V!  But I do love these little huts in the countryside....