Friday, 2 December 2011

Shoredich Street Art Inspiration!

not quite a tropical holiday
In November, my husband and I toyed with the idea of going on a wee holiday to somewhere warm, but for some reason we were drawn to London, as we hadn't been down for a while. We decided to go for a long weekend and booked into the swanky Hoxton Hotel in Shoredich, and area we had never been to before.

ROA rat artwork
On getting off at Old Street, I spied this brillaint piece of street art, and knew we were staying in the right area for an artist and a photographer to visit. The area of Hoxton and Shoredich has changed from a down at heel place to one of the hippest areas I have been to. They even have their own fashion style, and they are called the Hoxton Hipsters.
poster street art seen from the hotel window

Art behind a steel fence, near the Hoxton Hotel.
Near the hotel were two great cafe bars. The Breakfast club with a distinctly 80s vibe and The Book Club on Leopold Street, that had wonderful illustrations painted onto he walls as well as a fab exhbition of drawings (sorry, I didn;t write down the name of the artist). The food was great too.

the Book Club, Leopold Street, London

Scarey Bridge Art
painting under the bridge on the other side.

On Sunday, we headed down towards Brick Lane for the market, and took in some of the great street art on the way, as well as on the street.

 This one was created by chipping the plaster away from the wall to make the tones in the face. From a distance it just looked painted!
All along Brick Lane, gems of urban art could be spotted behind the busy stalls selling vintage clothing, antiques and knocked off bike parts.
Picasso lives!

Muerte Boy

A real banksy? Who can say
The Big Chill Bar

 Every street corner was an inspiration for this artist who is tired of seeing the same old commercial and classical art out there. This art was raw, exciting and urban. It often had something to say and was free for all to enjoy. Some may hate it and see it as simply vandalism, but art like this, for me, is nothing short of absolute inspiration!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

New Online shop for Giclee Prints

We have been very busy over the last few days, completely revamping my 'Cheap Thrills' online shop.

a screen grab of the new shop online
 The reason for making the shop is that I receive so many positive comments on my paintings and drawings through online admirers of my work, but very few of those people have the kind of money to spare that an original oil painting costs.

The shop will initially be for the sale of reproduction prints of my paintings, made at a professional art print studio usng the Giclee print method. The papers are all archival as are the inks, making this no ordinary inkjet print. The images are roughly 25cm along the shortest side (plus a white border for easy framing) and start at £60. They all come signed and numbered by myself at the bottom.

I have limited the print runs to only 30 prints, and as the runs sell out, the cost will increase. This means that early bird buyers get the most rewards!

I hope soon to add new sections of drawings and small artworks, so keep your eyes peeled.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I have just returned from a long daytrip out to Edinburgh, to deliver new work to Bon Papillon for their new xmas show titled: ‘LUXE MIDWINTER’ opening this Saturday 26th November from 2-5pm.

A little cup of tease, oil on canvas, 20 x 20cm

Trevor and I turned up like a whirlwind at Bon Papillon, with my usual array of colurful bags full of art. There was quite a lot, so Ingrid had the daunting task of quickly deciding which pieces were best for the show. There will be about 19 pieces of mine in the show, ranging from £1395 to only £70, so a lot of pockets are catered for!

unglamorous baggage
  There will also be work by two of my artist friends, Emma Mount who has submitted her fabulous pin-up painting called Kemper the Impervious, and Fiona Watson who is one of the top printmakers at Glasgow Print Studio  who has framed up 'There's a tattoo of you name across my soul'.

  There are of course, many other great artists showing including our lovely hostess, Ingrid Nilsson, who runs the gallery as well producing these imaginative paintings.

work awaiting places in their  new home for December
As well as popping along to see the art, it is well worth visiting for a delicious lunch or a warming hot chocolate and some of their excellent home-made cakes. A meal in themselves!

The show will run until Christmas Eve, then the gallery will be closed for the holidays until 13th January next year. Maybe see you there!

BON PAPILLON  gallery – cafĂ© – framing
15 Howe Street, Edinburgh      

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

International Art Shipping

I think what I love about being self-emlpoyed as an artist the best, is the bizarre range of jobs you end up doing. A lovely gentleman from London enquired about one of my large paintings, Lemon Petticoat, and was happy to purchase her if I could ship the painting to France.
The professional courier cost half the cost of the painting plus insurance, so my hero or a husband, who happens to be a dab hand at DIY, came to the rescue with his box making skills.
This is the package that will be going with a courier tomorrow. I just hope they have a screwdriver at the other end!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tunnocks, Aye Doll!

I was invited to submit work into a small group show called Gandolfi Loves Tunnocks. The show was a spin off from the larger event at the Glasgow Print Studio in the spring of this year, where my saucy tunnocks inspired painting flew out the door the day after the opening.

Since it was a show by printmakers, I decided to try my first piece of digital art. I had a couple of old Barbie dolls lying around my studio so I thought about making a pin-up girl for the Tunnock's brand. I used the wrappers to make swimming costumes, then painted the doll's faces to be more 50s inspired. The hair was styled and a backdrop of the seaside was painted before organising a shoot with my professional photographer husband, Trevor Wilson

I wanted the image to be like an old fashioned postard so I found a card with the fancy edges and scanned it to make a mask over the image. I then added a Glasgow postmark, since Tunnocks is based just outside the city. I got the giclee printed by Ian at Lighthouse Photographics who was very patient in achieving the washed out colour effect that I was after.

Here is the finished print with the model and a teacake. I also submitted a mini version of the painting that sold at the last show. Sadly, the print was not hung as part of the show it was intended for as there was, apparently, not enough room for both pieces and the painting went better with the other work.  It was still very disappointing after all the work in getting it produced, but I am sure she will enjoy her debut as part of the show at Bon Papillon opening at the end of November.

I am also hoping to have my new online shop ready in early December, so keep your eyes peeled, or sign up to this blog for updates.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Affordable Art Fair London 2011

I can't tell you how delighted I am that finally, after 2 long years, a gallery is taking my work to the Affordable Art Fair in London, Battersea this coming weekend. I am being represented by the innovative Axolotl gallery whose main gallery is on the prestigious Dundas Street in Edinburgh.
I hope to find a few more fans as well as patrons of my work in the big city. I will be sending this portrait of Daiquiri Dusk, performing her cinema girl act, for it's first showing.

Lemon Petticoat, oil on canvas, 56 x 76 cm
She will be kept good company by a good collection of my other burlesque and vintage girl portraits, drawings of ladies in their underwear and my new monotype print of Bernie Dexter (below).

I Know What I Want and I Know how to get it, monotype, 46 x 60cm

My only disappointment is with the establishment of the AAF who have stipulated a 'no nudity' policy on the artworks to be hung. This is art censorship at it's worst, as it means that the everyday buyer is being limited by the art that will be on view. I don't think my more nude portraits are pornographic as all the important bits are covered up, but then again, perhaps that is what makes them more exciting and dangerous in the eyes of the art world.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Fifi's Great Fire Sale # 1

I have just picked some work from my last three shows and the house is bulging to bursting point with paintings and drawings. I really want to start some new work but don't have the space (both physical and mental), so I thought I might try a little fire sale, before I literally put these on the fire!

The idea is that I will post a painting every week or so for you to put 'bids' on. You can email me on with bids or private mail through my facebook. Please do not discuss money on my personal facebook page as people have been losing their accounts for this. Postage for canvases will be £8 special delivery in the UK, and I can post Worldwide but will have to get a quote. Payment my  UK Bank transfer, UK cheque or Paypal.

First up is 'Posing at the Panopticon', oil on canvas, 40 x 50cm
Normal Gallery price £920 framed (this will be sold unframed to save on postage costs but I can supply a frame if required).

This is a painting of the beautiful Bunny Warren who was the first model to privately pose for me. We set up a shoot at the Britannia Panopticon music hall in Glasgow, where Stan Laurel started his career on the stage. She loved the 'God Save the King' poster as one of her infamous acts is the 'God Save the Queen' one.

I would like to start the bidding at only £50 for this canvas, which is less that the cost of a pair of decent shoes these days.
Bidding will end on Monday 24th October 2011 at 10pm.
*This is a blind bid, so you don't have to rush at the last gasp. The highest offer wins the damsel.

two lovely gentlemen have offered to save the lady from the fire, but my lovely artist friend Maureen Rocks-Moore is the new, proud owner.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Original Temptation painting STOLEN!!

I had some very bad news yesterday that one of my favourite paintings has been stolen right off a gallery wall.

I have a large show of work up at the Virginia Gallery in Glasgow, along with some work of invited artist friends. I got the call from the distraught gallery owner, that the little 30 x 30 cm box canvas painting was missing and that they were talking to the police. While they were making the police report, they noticed that a life sized ceramic head sculpture by Margaret Fraser had also been taken.

I just don't know what kind of folks can walk into a gallery and do that. In some ways I should be flattered that they chose that particular piece, but in others I am angry with myself, as I nearly didn't include it in the show, as I fancied keeping it for myself.
Some paintings are just special to you as an artist, and this was one of them. Now it has been taken and I don't even know who has it, or whether it is treasured or discarded in a bin somewhere.

It makes me very sad as someone probably saw the £700 price tag on the wall and thought it was a bit steep. But when you think that I only get 50% of that after gallery commission, then I take off the canvas, paint and  framing costs, travel costs for delivery, then I pay for a studio to be heated and lighted, I pay for models and attend regular life drawing classes for training and it took about 30 hours to paint, that I really don't get that much in the end. I am beginning to wonder why I am doing it at all!

I have a vain hope that maybe the CCTV will show the culprits and the painting will be recovered. If it is, It is going on my wall and never coming down again!

As a two fingered response, I have organised the printing of small giclee prints for sale at the show instead. Hopefully I will recover a little money from the sale of those instead.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Art off the Square- Sales in a small village

So we are well aware that the western world has been plunged into a state of recession and business is very tough for businesses, particularly those selling luxury products, like art. Let's face it, if money is looking tight, you are worried about your job and the fuel prices are soaring, the last thing you are going to want to buy is a pretty picture for your wall. I must admit that I have noticed that the sales in galleries have tailed off rapidly and I did spend a lot of the summer wondering what on earth I was doing trying to make a living at this. Two solo shows and only a couple of sales, was enough to test the nerve of the most confident artist. So I decided to take a few risks. I put work into shows that I would normally not enter, or changed the type of work I gave to galleries and shows.

Fairylights on Ashton Lane, mixed media on canvas, 30 x 30cm

Each year in a nearby village in Kilbarchan is a small 3 day art show called Art Off the Square. I had entered what I thought would sell - small Glasgow cityscapes, in previous years and had no luck selling. I had kind of given up hope, but thought I'd give it one more shot and put in two cityscapes for safety, a figure drawing and a burlesque portrait, although not too saucy a one, as the show was in a church after all!

Miss Hell's Belle, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 cm
 And just when I needed it, a miracle happened and I sold two of the four pieces; the large cityscape and the burlesque portrait of the beautiful Miss Hell's Belle. It was one of my favourites after all, so I am not surprised.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Pittenweem Arts Festival 2011

I am delighted, that after many years of trying to get a venue at this wonderful event, with no success, that I have finally managed to get my work shown this year at The Fisher Gallery right on the High Street!

The Secret Gardens: mixed media on wood, 21 x 16cm

I must admit, that I took the opportunity to have a little break from oil painting burlesque ladies and headed to the Glasgow Print Studio to make some new monoprints inspired by my trips to Fife and particularly the village of Pittenweem. I produced a fair number of prints but was inspired, by them, to make some small mixed media works on wood, of the boats and houses I sketched and photographed a couple of years ago.

Paintings in progress: it was great getting the glue out again!

Here are the works in the first stages where I added the collaged and printed elements to the pictures. I really enjoyed getting covered in glue and paint - the early stages are the fun bit!

Pittenweem Harbour 3: mixed media on wood 21 x 16cm
I have always loved the boats that are moored there, and at Crail harbour. There is something about their intricate design combined with the jolly colours of the paint hiding the rust creeping at the edges. Here is one of the finished paintings of those very fishing boats. In the paintings, I have layers of collaged found paper, print, splattered paint and printed relief. Feel free to click on the picture above to see a bigger version.
I plan to do some larger works based on these little studies, but for now I will delighted if these little paintings find new homes!

West Shore, Pittenweem, monotype & ink on paper, 32 x 45cm

The Pittenweem Arts Festival is well worth a visit. It runs this year from 5th August (opening evening) to the 14th August. Saturday 6th August features lots of events including the Plein Air Painting event and a torchlight parade in the evening finished off by a great fireworks display. Maybe see you there!

ps. The work will still be on view until the end of October, so if you missed the festival, you can still catch the art.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Femme Fatale and Framing Madness

It is coming up for my hand-in for a solo showing at The Merchant Gate Gallery in Glasgow, which starts on the 5th July. As ever, I am running at the last gasp doing the frames! I always leave it to the last minute as I don;t really enjoy making them, except this week, when it has given me the excuse to spend most of the day outside in the garden!

The frames are for the Femme Fatale show, so I am going for a moody black and gold theme with the frames. I will add photos of the work for the show tomorrow.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Monotype madness at the Glasgow Print Studio MONOTHON

Master Ian McNicol helps the day go smoothly
On Saturday 25th June 2011, the Glasgow Print Studio (GPS) held an event called a MONOTHON to promote the unsung technique of making monotypes and monoprints. They split the day into two 2 1/2 hour sessions with four experienced printmakers in each of the etching and screenprinting areas. I was part of the afternoon group and worked in the etching area, even though we were using blank perspex plates.

So what is the difference between a Monoprint and Monotype? The word mono or course means one, so both types of prints are designed to be one off creations with no two completely alike. Monoprints use a plate or screen that has some kind of repeatable element created on it which is then inked up in different ways to creat new images. Monotype means using a blank plate or screen, where the image is created directly on the plate. Other printed and drawn elements can be added to both types of print afterwards and sometimes collage can be an element in the work. I used oil based relief inks, there were also watersoluable oils being used and a watercolour print was also taken.

I started by using a charcoal drawing I made earlier of Vendetta Vain modelling as a geisha in a red PVC kimono at Dr Sketchy's Anti- Art School in Glasgow, as the basis for the print.
Vendetta Vain modelling at Dr Sketchy's Glasgow
colour layer only

drawing to print over colour layer
I made a quick 'registration' sketch the size of the plate then rolled bright colours onto the perspex as a base layer. I added texture by 'printing' cut out elements onto the wet ink (which lifts the ink up and leaves a feint impression) and used sequins as decorative elements on the kimono. Two prints were taken of this colour only layer, the second being called a 'ghost' print. I cleaned off the plate and drew the geisha figure in a mix of black and prussian blue ink. I also decided to print onto the plate, some of the cut outs from before, to add texture to the drawing. The result of the two plates is the red print below right.

print number 5

monotype plate with two prints, first print on right

The plate was then reworked with a new drawing, but with some of the colour residue from the last prints. I intended to print this drawing plate over the ghost colour background but I decided at the last minute to print it alone, and I was glad I did, as I was very pleased with the results. The print above right is actually a fifth print from a third alteration of the plate. On the right picture you can see how pale the ink is on the perspex plate, yet master printer, Ian McNicol, managed to get a last print off that by using wet rather than dry paper.

I had not made any monotype prints for some years and getting back in under extreme pressure was a great learning experience. I do like the print that I planned in my head, but the experiemntal prints that followed had much more subtelty of colour and texture. Bascially, I am itching to get back into the GPS and do some more!

the series of monotype prints produced from a geisha drawing

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Featured Art Tart of the Month: April-ish!

Little Geisha, oil on canvas, 18 x 24cm (model Vendetta Vain)

I was contacted recently by a wonderful set of folk running a website called the tart gallery. Each month they feature the work of an artist that catches their eye, and this April it was me! There was a small problem with the website, so I am a little late in appearing, but better late than never I say.

I am very honoured to have a selection of my burlesque paitings showing alongside so many fabulous, alternative artists. Thanks Tart Gallery for inviting me, and thanks to my good e-friend Emma Mount for drawing their attention to me!

You can view my tarty daubs here....enjoy x

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Having an mid-Art crisis

This week has shown very slow progress. I think after puting everything into the BP portait competition and then the Axolotl show, I have been feeling a little like vacuum. I have been trying to paint, but nothing good seems to be coming out and I start to question whether I should be a painter at all. I am afraid what will follow will be a bit of a rant.
This feeling of inadequecy is compounded by the fact that the portrait of Trevor got rejected from BP (not really surprising since you only get a 2.39% chance of getting in) but also from my local art competition, The Paisley Art Institute Annual Exhibition. I just paid £15 to receive a letter saying there wasn't enough room for my paintings in their exhibition. All in all I am up to about £150 in exhibiiton fees and travel costs this year alsone, just to be told I am not good enough to be part of their clubs.
I am really at a loss. I am told I need to get into establishments in order to progress but the constant rejection is becomeing too big a cloud over what I do. I might try some collage or some sculpture, to have a break from painting for a while...or I might just go and look for a proper job.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Spring Fling at Axolotl

The Last Roses of Summer, oil on canvas, 24 x 30cm

It has been a quiet year on the Art world front so far, but everything seems to be happening at once, now that the first fourishes of Spring are in the air. After my successful show, Fire & Brimstone at Axolotl gallery in Edinburgh, I was invited back to fill not one, but two of the gallery rooms! I have handed in 24 pieces and am looking forward to attending the preview night tonight. If anyone is in the area, they are at 35 Dundas Street and it all starts at 7pm.
Vendetta in Furs,  oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm

Art Club Rendezvous, oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm

A few of the pieces you may have seen before but I produced quite a lot of new work specially for this show. In general, I saw my work take a slightly darker turn during the long cold winter here in Scotland. I had some trouble with my back and I think the combination of the constant pain and the cold, dark days, really affected the colours I chose to paint with. When I started painting, I was working in acrylics and the colours were extraordinarily bright, in big blocky brushstrokes. But I switched to oils a few years ago, and fell in love with the skin tones and texture they offer. I seem to paint many, many layers until the effect seems right, but it means that the paintings take a very long time to produce and as long to dry!

Many of my works are based on photographs taken at Dr Sketchy's Anti Art school modelling sessions. Here you get the chance to draw and photograph the fabulous people of burlesque performing and sitting for the audience of 'art monkeys'. In general the stage is bare, apart from a few props, so I like to add in details to make the painting have more meaning. Daddy's Gone (below) is based on an act by Miss Hell's Belle called Caught Red Handed, danced to the Nick Cave song with the same title. The idea was that she had bumped off her newly wed millionaire husband, so she gets down to her red satin underwear and drapes dimaonds on herself before revealing that she still has his head in her suitcase. I love this act as it relates so well to the Grimm's fairytales I am so inspired by. I called it Daddy's Gone, with Daddy being her sugardaddy. I dressed her in a white dress, like a wedding gown, and laid her on a bed of money, just help get the point across.If you look closely, you can see the word Evil in there too. My real femme fatale!

Daddy's Gone, oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm
Cheeky Angel, oil on canvas, 24 x 30cm
Beach Bum, oil on canvas, 24 x 30cm
The Reveal, oil on canvas, 30 x 40cm
Little Seductress, oil on canvas, 24 x 30cm

And lastly, I seem to have become infamous for painting bums, so I couldn't let a show go up without a small selection of those.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

BP Portrait : finished and sent

So finally, the portrait is finished, after over 60 hours of painting and a lot of layers of paint. Trevor (the model) took the framed painting to the Glasgow courier last week and I am waiting to hear back from the judges. It would be wonderful to get a place in the show, but the odds are against everyone with a very small percentage getting in. At the end of the day, my husband wanted a portrait of himself to mark this point in his life. The competition gave me a deadline to work to, which I often need for personal projects.

Overall, I am pleased that it is a very good likeness of him, and that he looks a bit restless. He was watching Top Gear (the only way to get him to sit still) but he was also glancing out the window into his winter garden which could not yet be tended, as it was still frozen. The Howies T-shirt, 'Grow some vegetables' was a present from me many years ago and it is a clue to his favourite hobby, gardening. The dog, Meg, has been our constant companion for over 10 years, so she defiinately had to be in, although the poor cat didn't get a prime spot. You can imagine him under the sofa somewhere, scheming.
Whether it gets to our the country as part of BP, or just ends up on our living room wall, I am sure it will be much loved by us both over the years to come.

Here are some photos of the work in progress