Saturday 29 September 2012


My all-time favourite artist is Amadeo Modigliani.  I often say that I like Picasso's work or Magritte's, but in fact I like some of their paintings and drawings but am not keen many others.

But I can look at my Modigliani books time and time again and love pretty well everything that is shown.

So when it comes to having a session of trying to copy an artist's work, I often turn to Amadeo, as with my attempt at the 'Reclining Nude' below.

I don't worry too much about whether I am copying it exactly, I could scan the original from a book if I wanted that.  The main thing about copying is that it makes me look and learn - about colour and design and about the way a particular artist paints.

Modigliani's use of colour and his distortion of the subject fascinate me.  The acrylic painting above has come out rather pink from the scan rather the the pinky yellow of the original as printed in the books.  

Non-deliberate mistake:  I forgot to add her belly button.  But as they say, only God is perfect, so she will stay that way.

This particular painting of Modigliani's inspired me to write a poem reflecting my feelings about the work:

                                Reclining female nude - 1917

                                she reclines
                                naked flesh
                                apricot rich
                                against the scarlet

                                heavy-lidded eyes
                                and sly smile
                                her certainty 
                                of male

                                sensuous flesh
                                   strikes a

                                voluptuous hips
                                from a

                                the unseen viewer
                                to enter

                                the frame.

As far as copying works of art are concerned, I like the comment by David Hockney in his foreword to Jeffery Camp's book 'DRAW':

"Copying is a first-rate way to learn to look because it is looking through somebody else's eyes, at the way that person saw something and ordered it around on the paper.  In copying, you are copying the way people made their marks, the way they felt ...."

If I could take only two books to a desert island, then Jeffery Camp's 'Draw' and his similar book 'Paint' would be what I would choose without hesitation.  I never tire of looking through the thousands of small sketches or paintings and reading his comments.  See if you can get one or both from your library - the publisher is Dorling Kindersley.  Well worth a look.

The painting below is another attempt at understanding and copying Modigliani's work.

Yet another non-deliberate mistake - I'm always making them.  When I finished painting the figure in acrylic I decided to paint in the black background with a Pitt Artist's Brush Pen.  Big mistake.  It didn't give an even coverage.  Amadeo aside, I quite like the effect of movement behind the calm figure.

And here he is, the great man himself.

I think he's rather gorgeous.  To use an old-fashioned word, he looks 'raffish'.  I think he would have been a great success in the movies.

Poem Copyright of Jez Eden

Sunday 23 September 2012


A few evenings ago we were watching our DVD of 'Tea With Mussolini', one of our favourites, a very British film but with the added 'fizz' supplied by the inclusion of Cher.  She is so elegant and beautifully dressed in the film, and when she appears no-one else matters.  

I enjoy trying to sketch from the TV or DVD - it's very demanding and a matter of trying to remember what the image looked like when things move on.  So this was very quickly done, not very like her, but I was pleased with the result.  

Cher was wearing the most ridiculous but gorgeous black and white hat, and carried it off with panache.

Some of my greatest art enjoyment comes from drawing and painting in just black on a white background, or in black and red on a white ground, usually with Pitt or Uni-ball waterproof pens.

This kind of faceless, almost formless, character often appears in my sketches when I just put the pen to the paper without deciding in advance what I am going to do.  The drawing really just made itself, and then I had the pleasure of filling the figures with patterns, one of my favourite 'doodly' occupations.  

Who they are I don't know, but there's definitely something going on there, and I'm a little uncomfortable about it.

The wavy lines in the background are shaded in with Caran d'Ache Supracolor II Soft pencils - usable simply as pencils or as watercolour pencils, and lovely to work with.  I didn't want the 'rivers' or 'paths', or whatever they are, to dominate the picture.

As so often, I scanned the drawing into Photoshop and used a filter on it - this one was done with 'Find Edges'.

And for this one I used the Glowing Edges filter, which translated it into white on black.  I liked this.

This abstract was drawn a few weeks ago.  I wanted to try a different approach to an abstract, and just let my pen wander where it wanted.  I find this kind of thing very therapeutic and meditational to do.

Just to brighten up a very black and white page, here's a photo of a man's T-Shirt I saw in Matalan a few weeks ago.  

How fantastic, a gorgeous journal page on a T-Shirt.  Not a chance in a million years of getting my beloved to wear anything like this, but I couldn't resist snapping it.

Monday 17 September 2012


When you thought we'd suffered enough and they couldn't think up yet another daft idea - now look what they've been and gone and done.

OK, so they haven't really thought of that one yet ....... as far as we know.  In Brussels they may be huddled around their ideas table discussing decimal timing as we speak.

Those of you not fortunate enough to live in the UK/GB (never sure what we really are meant to be) may not believe this could be possible.  

That's because you haven't experienced the directives saying that bananas and cucumbers and courgettes (zucchini) must be straight and not curved  (and blow me down, in the supermarket now the cucumbers ARE straight, and what's more grown with an extra, skin-tight sheath of plastic).  

And then there was the idea that tomatoes should be grown square.  And the absolute ban on selling fruit and veg in pounds weight instead of kilos, with fines and possible imprisonment for infringement of the directive - and some shopkeepers were fined.  So there was eventually a decision that both weights and prices could be shown.  How kind.

I did the decimal time journal page very quickly because once I'd had the idea I really started to enjoy it, and clocks are always popping into my artwork.  This is in watercolour and ink, with the clock hands cut from black card and collaged on.  And plenty of spatter because I like doing it.

And now for something completely different.

I've said before how much I like Egon Schiele's use of line and colour (let's ignore his more ungentlemanly sketches), and when I don't feel capable of careful drawing I find I enjoy using his more distorted approach to figures.

The 'Imagine' poem just formed itself from random words cut from an old book.  If my mother knew I cut books up she'd be really annoyed with me if I were still fortunate enough to have her.

And now to switch tracks again, here is a photo I took of an advertisement outside a restaurant when we were in Southport last week enjoying the sunshine by the sea front.

What I want to know is - what on earth is live cooking? 

OK, I know they do it to lobsters, but the idea of extending that to other creatures really makes the mind boggle.  It doesn't tempt me in.

And to finish off, a beautiful rose I snapped in the garden during our visit to Sudely House a week or so ago.

Keep happy.

Wednesday 12 September 2012


By nature I have always been a definite 'colour within the lines' person, and I spend my time trying to break away from that limitation to draw and paint more freely and spontaneously.  

It's hard though, but when I manage it I'm always pleased with the result.

I was given a Christmas present of Rolina van Vliet's excellent book 'Painting Abstracts - ideas, projects and techniques', which not only covers abstracts but also helps with 'loosening up'.

I really found the book helpful, and over the months since Christmas have worked my way through different approaches to abstracts and to loosening up.

This is my attempt with 'drippy technique', using acrylic paints.

Very pleased with this, and I decided to have some of my drips dripping upwards from the lower edge.

The next nude lady is underpainted with a texture material, while the background was left untextured.  The texture stuff I used really soaked up the paint and I had to paint over it more than once, but she really stands out from the background. 

Very pleased with this, and with the background.  

As there's no seat or carpet for her to rest her lovely body upon, she is clearly a 'levitating lady', a good companion for my 'drippy lady'.

Saturday 8 September 2012


Who's this?  He's one of the incarnations of the Super Lamb Banana - more affectionately known as the Banana Lamb.

I'll talk about him more in a little while, but first of all a little of my own art.

Yesterday was Dev's regular appointment at the RLUH - the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.  This always takes a whole morning, 90 per cent of which is spent sitting in waiting rooms waiting for test results to be completed and then waiting to see the specialist.

I nearly always sketch while I wait, but yesterday I spent most of my time reading my Kindle because my book was at an interesting part.  When I did decide to draw I only had time for one sketch.

This was done on my I-phone.  One of the advantages of sketching on the phone as compared with pen and paper or sketchbook is that  people are so used to seeing phone-nerds glued to their screen that they don't associate it with drawing.

At home I looked at the pen sketch I had drawn in my sketchbook the evening before to compare the styles.

I drew this quickly as we watched an episode from our DVD of the old (1980s) 'ALLO 'ALLO series - René's mother-in-law Fanny, always in bed, always bad-tempered and complaining ('Will nobody come to my assistance').  In spite of being so old, the series (like the old Dad's Army series) is still a firm favourite here.

I don't know how far the series has travelled, but I'm not sure how well the gentle British humour of the time would be understood internationally, though I understand the French loved it.

The story pokes affectionate fun at the British, French and Germans in a WW2 French town.  For me the cleverest aspect of the show is the way the three languages are 'spoken', even though everybody speaks English, and you know exactly who is speaking French or German.

As far as the sketches go, I prefer the hand-drawn version which is much freer and livelier.

So, back to the Banana Lamb.  In the large entrance area of the RLUH is a 'medical' version of the Lamb, and I took a snap of him as we were leaving.

Behind him is a long wall covered in a mosaic of Liverpool, and each small tile of the mosaic is sponsored by someone celebrating the life of a loved one they have lost.  There are tiles in there for my youngest brother, his daughter my niece, and some friends, all victims of cancer.

The original Banana Lamb, created specially for Liverpool by Taro Chiezo, a Japanese artist, is yellow - half lamb and half banana.  There was some controversy when the Banana Lamb first arrived in the city, but he and his many incarnations have become favourites and he is seen as a Liverpool 'icon'.

I lost my own photo of SLB, and this image is from the site, and I hope they will forgive me for copying him into my blog for you.  There are many images on the net if you are interested, both of the original and of the many smaller versions which are all painted in different ways, and appear in the most surprising places.

You will find lots of interesting images of the different versions on Google - but this is one subject where the Wikipedia entry is not much use at all.

Now I haven't dissected a Banana Lamb recently, so I'm not too sure on the body parts, but I think this may be the kidney.

And this may be the heart, but it seems to be in a strange place at the top of his leg.

At last the morning and the patient waiting are over, and it's time to go and have our 'little jolly' to help us forget the visit to the clinic. 

This time we went to Sudley House, one of the Liverpool Museums and originally home to George Holt, owner of the Blue Funnel shipping line, in the leafy and still rather 'posh' area of Liverpool called Mossley Hill.  

Highlights of the visit were the gardens and park, a big oil painting of Turners, an exhibition of early 1900s photos of Liverpool, some real historical dresses still there from the last exhibition, a Gainsborough portrait - and of course the café.

Gainsborough lady.  I don't think she's a very happy bunny.

So lucky to have all these places to visit so near to home.  

Very tired at the end of the day, but happy.


Tuesday 4 September 2012


I love drawing faces, and the I-pad suits me down to the ground for the kind of faces I often like to draw.  

I've been drawing faces with patterns on for as long as I can remember, and I'm always happy when I'm drawing or painting in this way.

Just writing that reminded me of a textile workshop I attended in 1989 with Linda Straw, an absolutely marvellous and original textile designer and maker, to learn her very individual method of appliqué, using polyester silks - very difficult to work with.

The first thing we were told to do was to draw a simple design we wanted to appliqué - and of course the mind immediately goes blank - so I just drew a simple patterned face which would give me six colours to appliqué on the light green background.

Linda's technique (briefly, because it's very involved to do and describe) involves laying all the fabrics on the background in your chosen order, just pinning them at each corner.  

The machine stitching is done from the back, and the layers of colour trimmed away from the stitching on the front.  This was my first attempt, and I was not skilled enough to avoid the puckering around the outline of the head.

This is a section from one of Linda Straw's wall hangings that I was lucky enough to buy the following year.  Beautiful work, and humour in the design, with the mermaid ready to take to the land in her 'bovver boots' and biker's jacket.

So, back to my latest I-pad painting on the  'Brushes' app:

Having painted the face with white on black, I used Photoshop to reverse the colours to black on white.

And then I took the original painting into two other apps I have and played around until I was happy with a new look, like this 'vintage' version.

This last version really interested me.  The filter I used on either Snapseed or Photogene (can't remember which), changed the painting into a pencil-type version that I hadn't even started with.

The patterns are not pre-planned, I just doodle as the mood takes me, and when I have finished they often look rather like Maori face tattoos, even though I don't start out with that intention.

Just one more - a montage of my three favourite versions:

Doing this painting and playing around with it was such fun.  And to think, every time Dev wanted to buy me an I-pad I kept saying I didn't want one.  How wrong I was!