Tuesday, 7 December 2010

One of My Favourite Muses

The above painting is called 'The Harlots' and is a portrait of two fabulous burlesque performers from New York. Molly Crabapple, at the front, is a talented illustrator and the founder of Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School, (an art class meets burlesque in a bar), where I have gained much of the incredible inspiration for my paintings over the past three years. She modelled two years ago at Dr Sketchy's Glasgow for their first birthday party and brought along the glamourous and risque 'Kitten on the Keys' to perform and model for our delight. Kitten is an alternative musician and her ditties had us falling of our chairs with bawdy laughter.

When I looked back at the drawings and photos from the original session, I was for some reason reminded of Manet's controversial painting Olympia (shown below). I loved the contrast of Molly being pale and nearly nude with Kitten's tanned skin and vibrant corsetted outfit. I had thought of making Molly her slave, as her heavy necklace is reminsicent of a collar, but I wanted each person to be equal.

Kitten's head is thrown back with passion while my Olympia looks away from the viewer in an almost distainful manner. I had originally painted Molly looking right back at us from the painting, like Manet's Olympia, but with the strong lighting it looked too hard. I preferred her sideway glance, as if dismissing us, or even looking a little bored with our eager attentions.The flowers in the background represent the bouquet of flowers from their admirers as well as representing the promise of passions yet to be unleashed.

Manet's painting caused quite a stir in 19th Century France and even though nudes were often seen in galleries, Manet's nude was not acceptable. But why? Basically his painting was shunned by the establishment because the nude in question was obviously a courtesan, shown by the fact she was wearing slippers and a ribbon round her neck. The black lady is her servant bringing flowers from one of her admirers or clients. On top of all this suggestion, the woman has the audacity to stare back at us, as we stare at her laid bare.

In the same way, over a century later, I find my work shunned by certain galleries and art establishments for similar reasons. I find that I can happily hang a completely nude woman (preferrably looking away from the viewer) in any gallery, but add a pair of stockings, and all hell breaks loose. Burlesque celebrates women of all shapes and sizes, but it can also be political and is of course, in most cases, sexual. My nudes cause embarrasment because my models are strong women who are comfortable both in and out of their costumes. They are women having fun in a thong and pasties. They enjoy showing themselves off and are not afraid to challenge the viewer eye to eye.

See Molly's illustration at http://www.mollycrabapple.com
Hear Kitten at http://www.suzanneramsey.net/
Find out about Dr Sketchy's Anti Art School at http://www.drsketchy.com/

enjoy x

Monday, 29 November 2010

Christmas Shows and heavy snows

Ingrida reclining, oil on canvas, 80 x 60cm

We have been having a bit of crazy winter weather here in Glasgow with heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures. Now I am glad that the Christmas show hand-ins were last week when the weather was cold but clear!
This Christmas, I am showing at a smaller number of select galleries, due to the timing of my big November show. You can find my work at ARTeries, Art Exposure and Merchant Gate Gallery in Glasgow city centre, The Gatehouse Gallery in Eastwood, south of Glasgow, Axolotl in Edinburgh and The Fisher Gallery in Pittenweem. This will be my first time showing with the Fisher gallery and I hope it goes well, as it is a wonderful part of the country for a visit when dropping of work!

This week sees a slow start with tying up loose ends and lots of thinking about new work to be produced, in between organising the commissions I didn't have time to do earlier in the year. If I could just thaw out my fingers enough to draw!
I also want to get down to the Glasgow Print Studio, now my back is allowing me to do things again. I really want to practice the photoetching technique I learned in the spring and apply it to some of my many photos of the beautiful people of burlesque.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Fire & Brimstone Show Review

Now that the remaining work from Fire & Brimstone is back in Glasgow, I can sit back and say that I was extremely pleased with my first show at Axolotl Gallery in Edinburgh. The team are an extremely professional yet friendly groups of people and I was very impressed by the efforts they went to, to promote the work. I made a number of sales, despite this recession doom and gloom, to buyers in Edinburgh, Newcastle and Austria.
I was also very honoured to be showing work alongside artist Paul Muzni, whose vibrant life paintings were particularly inspiring, and I met many new art contacts on the opening night.

The cherry on the cake was my first review, which is as follows:-

Fiona Wilson has her finger so tightly on the pulse of the zeitgeist, she is in danger of cutting off its circulation. In her ‘Fire & Brimstone’ collection, chiaroscuro oils depict burlesque artists and tattooed nudes, many with wings which transform them into metaphysical beings of light – or darkness. The moody pieces capitalise on the current fascination with the supernatural, combined with the vogue for burlesque and vintage style.

‘Harlots’ is – appropriately enough – a dominant piece, a large work depicting two sultry female figures. The background swirls with dark material and patterns behind them: it and the title give the work a devilish and sinful quality which is compelling. In ‘A Thing Of Beauty’, Wilson has incorporated real bird feathers into the oils, turning her portrait of a young woman into something more beguiling.

Another standout piece is ‘Greed’, featuring a dark-haired woman in provocative pose, her limbs fading into the Klimt-like pattern of the background. Other paintings in the collection are more graphical in style, feeling like panels from a graphic novel at times, but Wilson’s siren-like oils are most definitely the seductive stars of this show.

Keith D, Edinburgh Spotlight Review- New Works at Axolotl, Nov 11th 2010

The original can be seen here:

I am not very good at 'bigging' myself up, so I am very pleased that Keith D was able to do it for me!
I am now busy tidying up loose ends before embarking on a new project which has been living in a sketchbook for way too long.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Fire & Brimstone at AXOLOTL gallery

It has been a while since I have posted anything as nothing really seemed to be happening in the art world over the summer. Sales were slower and galleries were not planning many shows. I used the spare time wisely and I got in touch with the fabulous Axolotl Gallery on Dundas Street in Edinburgh, who immediately offered me a two person show in November.
I have been painting solidly since then and am onto framing work. The opening is on bonfire night, Friday 5th November, so to tie in with the date, I decided to base my show around fire & Brimstone, and of course, beautiful but wicked angels.

Show description:

And the angels came to the city of the Sodomites...when the Sodomites beheld the young men, who were outstanding in beauty of appearance and who had been received into Lot’s house, they set about to do violence and outrage to their youthful beauty. When Lot exhorted them to be temperate and not to proceed to dishonor the strangers but to have respect for their lodging with him and said that he would offer his own daughters for their lust in place of them, if they were unable to restrain themselves, not even so were they persuaded. Therefore, God, indignant at their bold acts, struck them with blindness, so that they were unable to find the entrance into the house, and condemned the Sodomites to destruction of the whole population. —Jewish Antiquities 1:199-202

Biblical stories have always fascinated me as many of the events are miraculous, even fantastical, and the writings are open to so many interpretations. The story of the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ties in well with my work inspired by burlesque performers, in that their acts often portray acts of baudy humour, earthly desire and sexual deviance. Where woman can be wicked and men can tease.

The towns that were destroyed by God were bound by earthly pleasures. God sent his angels, beautiful but deadly men, as his agents of destruction to make the wanton residents repent.

"Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens" Genesis 19:24. "Turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly" II Peter 2:6.

I invite you into the world of angels and to view the inhabitants of a sinful city like Sodom, where women tease and men are lustful, and sometimes revenge is sweet and murderously delicious. The paintings include angels depicted as tattooed men or women who may, or may not, be godly creatures.

The time for earthly pleasures may be limited, so let the fireworks begin!

Friday, 23 July 2010

100 Artrists for Pride Exhibition: Brighton 2010

'Somewhere over the Rainbow', 20 x 20cm, oil on box canvas

Through my friends on facebook I came across an exhibition running in Brighton as part of the Gay Pride festival next week. The idea was to have 100 artists exhibit a small artwork for the week to raise funds for the festival next year. I love festivals so thought why not?
This is my portrait of Champagne Charly performing her 'Dorothy' routine. I added the rainbow as it is the colours of gay pride and I made her feather boa a touch more vivacious. I did resist painting the red shoes for once though!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Pittenweem Catch

Over the past few months I have had a bit of bother with my back, but rather than lie about doing nothing, I found I could still do little postcard sized paintings by sitting for short periods of time. I was up in the pretty seaside village of Pittenweem in Fife and overheard the owner of the Fisher Gallery talking about a fund-raising charity auction for a Gala day there. As I wasn't getting much of my own painting done, I took one of their A5 boards home and produced this little piece.

I had to mail the painting to the gallery where they were auctioned 'blind' (no signatures on the front, so you didn't know whose work it was) and I was pleased to hear that mine fetched £150. The boat is actually from the harbour and the model is Leyla Rose performing her mermaid act. I had always wanted to portray Leyla as a bit of an evil mermaid capturing her sailors, so a bit of fun for me made some money for the Pittenweem Gala Day fund...happy times!

Monday, 7 June 2010

I'm a broken doll

I have not been on here for some time as my back broke: I have had herniated disks in the past but it was hard to remember just how sore back pain is. I have nerve damage in the left foot from the disk herniation three years ago, but this time, the old foot went just as numb and droppy, like an old piece of meat hanging off my ankle. In the painting I collaged a piece of text 'nothing left' found in the sunday paper. I liked the play on words for my missing left foot and also the feeling that since I couldn't paint, there was nothing left for me in a mental sense. The roses are to represent the fragility of my spine and the spikiness of the pain it gives me. I had been listening a lot to Paloma Faith's I'm a broken doll, so the idea kind of stuck.

The painting will be shown this Friday at the Aspect Prize exhibition in Paisley Museum and Art Gallery.

When I couldn't paint, I found I could do a little drawing, so I spent a long time planning for the bigger paintings. These two wood panels (30 x 30cm) were printed up using oil paint and the drawn over. They were for an exhibition at the Glasgow Print Studio where the image had to have some printing in it. I chose montype as I couldn't get into the studio to the etching I really wanted to do. Hopefully, I will be able to go in soon, although this recovery is taking a long time.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Wild Card Kitty as the American Woman

A new painting which I feel is just about finished, except for the signature. It is based on an act by the fabulous Wild Card Kitty, a peformer based in Edinburgh. Her act consisted of a saucy love dance and strip for a bag of Macdonald's finest fayre, which ends up all over her. It was one of the funniest acts I have seen in a long time so I had to make my tribute to her art.
The stars in the background and spray painted on as I feel a bit of graffiti inspired works moulding themselves in my head.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

New Limited Edition Art Prints for Sale

I have just finished my new sales section of my website that I have called Cheap Thrills.
I called the shop this as I wanted to offer more resonably priced art for all my lovely admirors out there, who maybe didn't have so much disposable cash lying around, and of course most of the art is a little saucy and hopefully, a little thrillling!
I have started by selling Limited Edition giclee prints of a selection of my paintings with only 30 prints of each image.


Friday, 2 April 2010


What an April Fool's Day! I unveiled my saucy painting and a pair ot framed teacake tassles, at the Glasgow Print Studio's TUNNOCKED show last night. I went suitable attired in a red and white striped dress and made a teacake heart fascinator to match. Trevor wore a tassle t-shirt under his jumper and was giving everyone a wee flash.

I was very surprised how well the painting was received as you don't see much risque art in that gallery. A great time was had by all, and selling the tassles was the cherry on the teacake!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I am very excited by the opening of the TUNNOCKED exhibition tomorrow night at The Glasgow Print Studio. It promises to be a bit of a silly night with people dressing up for the occasion and free teacakes for all. My painting has appeared in a photo in the Scotsman newspaper today, so here is the full painting showing that naughty use of our national treasures - the Tunnock's teacake! The painting is 36 x 36cm on box canvas and is painted in oil.

A small photo of the work in-situe is in today's online scotsman which you can read here:-


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

TUNNOCKED exhibition 1st April 2010

Oil on canvas, 36 x36 cm

A new painting for a special art show opening on 1st April at 6pm at the Glasgow Print Studio @ 103 Trongate. Called TUNNOCKED, it celebrates everything to do with Tunnocks sweet confectionary produced in Uddingston, Scotland.
The show opens on Thursday Night 6-9pm and there will be teacakes for all. The exhibition continues until 11th April 2010.
Come and see the whole painting while munching on a free teacake!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Glasgow Art Fair 2010 - Gatehouse Gallery

I am just enjoying a mad marketing day after finishing and framing a set of new oil paintings of burlesque performers for show at The Glasgow Art Fair 2010. I will be represented by the fabulous Gatehouse Gallery on stand 23 and will be exhibiting one of my large 100cm paintings.
The show opens to the public on Thursday 25th at 10.30 and runs through to Sunday until 6.30pm. If you are very lucky, you may be able to obtain an evening pass for the Wednesday or Thursday from one of the galleries.

Please visit their website
for times and details.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

New Work - Wings of Desire

I am just varnishing this new painting for hanging at the Glasgow Art Fair next week. It was inspired by the beautiful Miss Tickle from New York when she toured with The Slipper Room troupe to Glasgow, last summer. Her performance was one of the most elegant and graceful burlesque dances I have ever seen and I hope I have captured this.

Friday, 29 January 2010

My Modern Pin-Up Project 2010

With the start of a New Year, in a new decade, I am writing my first blog. I have been painting full time now for over five years and have been painting my series of burlesque beauties for the last two. I think this year needs me to be wilder in what I do and less worried about what is 'nice' or 'sellable'. It will be my downfall or my making. Only time will tell....