Review of the year

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Nearly there!
I am approaching the end of my Canadian Rockies picture now, and will be making the left foreground a bit paler and yellower, to make the train stand out. 

Just a quick mention for the Barlborough art group's exhibition at Barlborough Methodist Church School Room, on November 26th, 10.00-4.00.  Paintings by local artists, refreshments and tombola.

My time blogging for the Derbyshire Times is coming to an end tomorrow, so I would like to take the opportunity of thanking them for giving me a link from their website for the past year. 
Rabbits in the snow
 And what a year it has been! Here’s some highlights.

Looking back through my archives, this time last year, it was about to get much colder and, when it did, I used the snow as inspiration for three new paintings.

Christmas arrived, with lots of arty goodies for me, including a special flattenable water pot for travel. Back in January, I used pen and ink technique back in January, to produce silhouettes of trees from the lost gardens of Heligan. I featured local amateur artist Zoe Edge’s abstract paintings, and began an abstract triptych myself. I helped my son make a dinner plate sized ladybird from paper mache for his school competition. I was very proud of our efforts when it was done, but once he brought it home, he wasted no time duffing it up until it was unrecognisable.
Easter brought Clowne and Barlborough art groups’ annual exhibition, where my cakes at least proved very popular.
A day trip to Hunstanton gave me the opportunity to photograph and draw the local lighthouse through the gateway of a ruined chapel in front of it. Our new kitten arrived in May, and I immediately put her to good use as a model for my pastel pictures.I reviewed the Humber Bridge farmers’ and craft market, before beginning my Canadian Rockies picture in August.
Humber Bridge Market

I reported on the Robin Hood Festival, and crafts there and in the Welsh coastal town of Tenby, where I went on holiday. I brought back about 6 photos for the group to use in a project on Tenby, and this takes care of my next painting – or two.

Portrait of Kizzie as a kitten
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Potter's Wheel at Robin Hood Festival

St Catherine's Island, Tenby

Art group antics at the exhibition

More Tenby - what's not to like?
Thank you to all readers, old and new. I have enjoyed writing for you and hope you continue to follow me and the art group, plus the many other artists and craftsmen I feature.

Who expected to be wowed by a performance in a gym? Well, the Transportation Group Theater Company brought the audience along on quite a ride in their production at The Gym at Judson on Thompson Stree in the Village of Michael John LaChiusa's Queen of the Mist based on the story of Anna Edson Taylor (played by Tony-award-winning Marie Testa) who, at 63, was the first woman to barrel down Niagra Falls in 1901.

How do you create an epic in such a long narrow space between bleachers on either side of the wall? In the Gym at Judson, I sat on the lowest tier of bleacher a pair of bleachers that faced each other. I was so close to the actors that I had to draw my legs back to not trip them. But thanks to the ingenuity of the director, John Cunningham lll ( Hello Again, See Rock City and Other Destinations, Boys in the Band) and the whole production crew, I felt every roll of the waves, every thunk of the barrel, the power of the Falls. With simple props--an old-fashioned piano that was pushed across the stage, small platforms on wheels that became boats, even a toy wooden boat, suggested everything that was needed to bring the play home to one's heart.

The actors were In the talk back after the show (before the cake and the bubbly), Michael John LaChuisa, said LaChuisa confided that if his cat throws up as he'd playing a song, he knows that he shouldn't use it. And what the cat gave a nod to is purrr-fect.

This play is about how fame can sink you and how risking death can help you live. And it's about living your dream, no matter where it leads you. Get inspired. See Queen of the Mist.

DISCOUNT CODE: $10 off with code TGMAMA

Show’s Website:

The few and the many

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I have continued to work on the foreground of my Canadian Rockies painting.  I want the train to stand out, so am keeping the foreground colours muted and not adding any trees (there are trees on the original photo).

At art group, one of our members had been ill and Gill, with whom she is friends, was visiting her.  “I thought we’d have a whip round then I’d go to Tescos for some”, she said.  We are only a small group and were a bit thin on the ground anyway, so Maggie said, “lets use some of the club funds”.  “Don’t go to Tescos”, I chipped in, “I’ll fetch some from Blooming Marvellous, she’ll do you something really stunning with cellophane and a bow and card for the same price.  Plus, you’re supporting a local trader.” I was going to Tescos anyway, so I set off there and then, calling in at Blooming Marvellous on the way to order the flowers and picking them up on my way back.
Some readers may remember the advert for Impulse body spray “When a man you’ve never met before gives you flowers.”  Funnily enough, Impulse is something I normally wear anyway, and I felt as if I’d been in the advert as I returned to art group brandishing a large mixed pink bouquet.

On the art front, Maggie was continuing to work on some elves, Elizabeth (our landscape queen) had been working on a mountainous scene from Tenerife, and Gill had begun a view of some oriental gardens seen through a window frame.   This was something a bit different for her, as she likes to do still life paintings, i.e. close ups of groups of natural or man made objects.
Last week, I mentioned that I have a new smart phone.  This week, the word on Sky news was about smart phone hacking.  Rogue networks set up in public areas with wireless internet access such as internet cafes.  These networks can hack into your phone and steal your passwords then do all manner of naughty things with them.  The advice was for everyone to change their passwords, and not use 3G when out and about in case a rogue network picked up on your phone. 

I wonder what is done about this type of crime when a hacker is caught and sent to prison.  The authorities need to be certain that the offender does not have access to a mobile phone while in prison, as they could still continue with their dirty deeds.  According to Sky news, internet crime is a problem on the same scale as illegal drugs, which in turn, is the same as the tourist industry.  I will just have to stick to using my phone for phone calls and photographs until there’s a better solution to this problem.
One thing is for sure: we can't let the few spoil it for the many.


Here's to the future

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I have been playing around with the greenery on the mountains on the right, but blending it towards the left hand ones, so that the colours are more in line with the mountains behind them. 

I’ve added a “base” colour to the foreground, and will be trying different shades of green on top to see what looks best.  I mixed it to match the grass I could see outside, but at the moment , it “jumps out” too much.  I remember having the same problem when I painted a room at home what I thought was a delicate shade of lemon yellow – it was fine in the tin but on the wall it just looked too loud and had to be toned down with lots of white.  Kevin at art group thought it best to put the emphasis on the train, so that’s what I’m trying to do. It has taken time but I am “getting there” as the old British Rail advert used to say.

At art group, several members were absent and I had a whole long stretch of tables to myself, while the others sat in twos over the other side of the room.  “I will have to change my deodorant”, I said.

At home, I have bought a new smart phone.  It is the same size as my previous one but does so much more.  My old one was less than six years old, but was only good for phone calls, texts and taking tiny photos the size of the postage stamp.  On holiday recently, a smartphone would have been useful, for the apps.  Apps are short for “applications” – a tiny computer programme.  There are many different ones and they can be used for things like, creating documents or downloading newspapers or music – even astronomy –  such as following the International Space Station as it crossed the sky earlier this year.  I would recommend the BBC programme “Click” if you want to know more.

 This new phone will have access to all the Android apps, both free and paid for.  It will take good photos, and I can use it for e-mails and surfing the web, to an extent.  I can update my blogs with it too, in a basic way, so I don’t have to miss a week if I am away on holiday.  I’m moving the phone number from the old one to the new, and then I can start on my new mobile adventure.  Here’s to the future.  I am getting there.

The Mountaintop

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The time: April 3rd, 1968. Martin Luther King (played by Samuel Jackson) is alone in room 306 in The Lorraine Motel in Memphis a day after he made his prophetic “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech, the day before he is assassinated. We see him as his private self--using the toilet, wanting smokes, smelling the reek of his sweat when he takes his shoes off.
In comes the maid, Camae (played by Angela Bassett). The playwright, Katori Hall, really did her job of creating perfect character arcs. The maid begins nervous and reverential around King, then ends up so bold that she slips his jacket on to critique his preaching style and shows him how he should sound. And Katori’s Martin Luther King goes from the all too human man who frets about whether his mustache makes him look old, a man who needs a woman’s body next to his, never mind it isn’t Coretta’s. In the mesmerizing verbal parry between Martin Luther King and Camae, Katori Hall brings him right up to the mountaintop.
It has a supernatural element too which I don’t want to give away.
See it at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater
242 E. 45th St. (Between Broadway and 8th.)


There I am with Janes Lecense who starred in Motherhood Out Loud and other off-Broadway shows. You'll probably remember him best from "Sex in the City," both the TV show and the films.


Almost Wordless Wednesday

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Display items ready to go
Part of the display
On Saturday, instead of going to art group, I put on a display of members' work at the local church (St John's) in Clowne.

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