Let me introduce you to my painting of Rodney, who was lucky enough to meet Andy Warhol and get the Marilyn Monroe picture treatment (with the help of Photoshop).
Rodney, or rather a photograph of him, was the model for an assignment on Lisa Wright's e-course.
Just after I had started the course I was suddenly diagnosed with cancer of the colon, followed rapidly by an op, and this did tend to interrupt my flow of work, just when I was enjoying myself and being 'stretched'.
(Lisa is just about to run her e-course again - details on her blog at http://all-the-wright-stuff.blogspot.co.uk).
When I used to do a lot of quilt-making and textile work we always called something that never seemed to get around to being completed a UFO - an unfinished object. So this was the problem with Rodders, he was a UFO.
The actual assignment was about looking and looking and looking, ever more closely, and observing just a small area of the photograph of Rodney. I chose a section of his beak, which had a network of cream-coloured lines forming an abstract design.
This is what emerged. The more I looked, the more I saw, and I drew something I would never have drawn from any other inspiration. Picking it up again the other day I added a few more lines and started to thicken some outlines.
It made me think of an outline map, with continents and islands.
At this point I had a bit of sense and photocopied it onto good quality cartridge paper, so that I could keep the original and then work on it further.
Doing this was very therapeutic and meditative. I simply coloured in with black and red pens fairly randomly, but somehow the randomness made sense to me. I'm pleased with it. It's not a map now, it's an abstract that I'm happy with.
By this time I had got rather fond of Rodney, and although his full beauty was not part of the assignment I decided to paint him, or at least his head. One of the things I have been trying to do for years is loosen myself up - I'm definitely a colour within the lines person. So I forced myself to paint him very roughly and freely, using my Inktense pencils heavily and getting away from the smooth finish I usually like.
In other words, I was doing what Lisa always urged - take things further, be a bit braver.
So here he is. I underpainted the beak with creamy-grey Inktense and drew fine lines with masking fluid to indicate some of the lines on the beak. Learning outcome: I found that scrubbing heavily with Inktense pencil on top of dried masking fluid is not a good idea, the masking rubs off. Never mind, this was an experiment.
I'm pleased that I went the extra hundred yards and learnt from the experience. Rodney's propped up on my easel and I'm getting to like him. Who's a pretty boy, then?
So this post was for you, Lisa, to show that I am determined to catch up on the work I missed. The course did me so much good, and I miss it - Jez.