Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Great girl's day out!

Romy and I met up the other day to have our pampering with a mini-manicure and pedicure at One Aldwych. We decided to try the Delaunay for lunch beforehand. We had plenty of time, and exchanged Christmas presents. Romy gave me a super wallet which will go with everything, a brilliant art calendar, some great Spanish scarves and the most amazingly kitsch plate, with heavy gilding around the outside and little putti artists painting and drawing. This will be perfect in my 'antique' boudoir. The Delaunay is part of the Wolseley group, and whereas the Zedel has a definite French accent, the Delaunay has an Austrian flavour. I ordered tarte flambee, and Romy had smoked salmond and beetroot served with pumpernickel for starters. I have to say mine looked like an oversized pizza, but was fortunately wafer thin, very crispy, with cheese and bacon. Since we had decided to indulge in a pudding, we thought we would hold back on the mains and both ordered a hot dog with mash, onions and sauerkraut. It was, of course, enormous. Having plenty of time, we opted for the shared Salzburg souffle, with apricot sauce, which took 20 minutes to prepare. When it came in three large mounds, representing the three hills of Salzburg, heads turned towards our table. It was of course, deliciously light and fluffy, despite the large size. We finished up with coffee before staggering out to One Aldwych. When we arrived we were given a guided tour around the spa and regretted we had not taken bathing costumes as we could have had a swim in the heated pool, which would have been excellent. However, we were very happy to have our treatments in a shared room so we could chat. Romy opted for a beautiful beigy frosted varnish on finger and toenails, while I decided to just have my fingernails done with a clear varnish, but they spent quite a long time massaging creams into hands and feet, which was very relaxing. We leapt into a cab and shared a bottle of cava with Nicos at home afterwards and Romy kindly purchased some prints and cards. A real treat of a day. The next day I babysat the exhibition until a text came from Dorothy who had been confined to barracks with a nasty cold for days, so I purchased chicken, onions, leeks and carrots from Sainsbury's, and some Manuka honey and oral aloe vera from Holland & Barrett and spent the latter part of the afternoon cooking and ministering to the invalid, who declared an intention to go to work today. Hmmm. I washed some sheets and last night I attempted to change my description and prices on Airbnb but it would not let me edit them, even though I tried twice, but it would not save the changes dammit, so I have emailed them. Today I shall be sketching in Kew, but thinking about Victorine doing her dress rehearsal for La Traviata in London and wishing her well.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Blimey - sold a painting

Had a good day at the Mall Galleries yesterday and an excellent steak for lunch at the steak place near the Cass shop. No more new colours in Cass bags but you can't have everything. Del contacted me to say that the American guy who was interested in my Jeremy painting had returned and wanted to negotiate on the price. He took a card and would contact me. We spoke this morning and agreed a price. The gallery is shut today and he is returning to America but we made an appointment to meet for a handover on 1st March when he is briefly back here. All very exciting. So funny at the Toulouse Lautrec where I went with Nicos the other night. A Puppini sister called Emma something was meant to be signing with Robin Banerjee playing the guitar. Robin used to play with Amy Winehouse. We had seats in the front, and Robin had to start alone as Emma had not turned up. I was sketching and got a round of applause when Robin held up my sketch to the audience. A member of the audience filled in playing piano and singing very pleasantly, and later Emrys Baird filled the gap excellently so we had a super evening. Nicos enjoyed some wine and cheeses while I had some French onion soup. Great time. I have now rather incompetently started painting the landing which at least brings it a bit more together with the stairs. I shall continue this particular battle for a bit, I suspect. I was due to be sketching at the Barbican today but had a bit of a cold so abandoned that idea straight away and settled for sketching a punter at the Elephant where I had lunch at the Cafe Nova. Dorothy kindly fixed my ipad and laptop but I still cant get images onto Facebook any more because they have changed something on their system.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Barking Stairs

Still no paint at the shop, so taking Nibby's normally sound advice I decided to paint the stairs with acrylic colours in shades of grey and black etc. Unfortunately my impatience told rather heavily in the daubs and blotches of colour. Appalled, yet I did not desist when I saw what I had wrought, but continued to paint all the stair treads. I still have to ruin the landing, but will set to work on this soon. Babysat the exhibition at Waterloo Gallery and almost sold the portrait of Jeremy to an American art collector. He still may come back and buy it so I must take a snap of it, just in case. Another possible exhibitor turned up today, so may put a couple of rather pleasant country landscape pieces in. We shall see. I did a short sketch of him chatting to Del. Knackered tonight and glad to get home. Not sure whether Nicos will come back.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Lobster Thing

which you may recall my mentioning in a previous post has now been explained. Elizabeth Cope, who turns out to have been painting for 41 years, was talking about some paintings in the joint show. One of them featured two of her favourite lobsters. Fortunately the explanation for these was not the Derek and Clive one. It seems that one of her daughters had prepared her a surprise lunch with lobster salad surrounded by lettuce leaves. As she approached the table the daughter pressed a button and the lobster rose and sang. Seems it was a lobster version of the old singing fish. So the joke turned into a bit of a theme. Wish I had seen one of those..

Frozen South

Pond frozen over this morning. I purchased some more fat balls for the birds but they never seem to have birdseed any more in the pound shop. Exhausting day yesterday, so much so that I felt quite unwell in the early evening and crashed into bed at 8pm. I had done my usual paper collection in the morning at the shopping centre and after coffee with Nicos set off for Tate Modern. I met Francesca and the group evaporated so we went to have a coffee in the cafe, which was quite relaxing, so I sketched out of the window, not that there was much to see. We then staggered off to the Founders Arms and did quick sketches of the view over the river with punters in the foreground. I had to leave early as I had to be at the Waterloo Gallery, but arrived early in the event. The paintings had already been hung and were looking good. Artists began to turn up and there was a session of questions and answers about some of the work followed by a vote for the favourite piece and glasses of wines and snacks. I suddenly became quite exhausted and caught the bus home in time to feed the Kookster and have a quick snack before completely crashing out. I suspect I had done too much walking and standing around in the cold. I was much more cautious today, and after feeding the beast at 6am I fell asleep again until 8.30 so I must have been really tired. Today I just had a huge brunch at Toulouse Lautrec, did a lightning sketch and have vegged out. Nicos went off early to look for a room in a flatshare, and returned triumphant, so he will have somewhere to stay when he returns to the UK. Fantastic, I thought it would take him ages to do.
I forgot to mention I saw this rather ludicrous umbrella handle sticking out of the bin at the end of the road, above.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Cafe Sketchers

About 15 of us met yesterday at the Crypt Cafe at St Martin in the Fields. We had drinks/lunch, whatever, and set down to sketch and chat. Saw some friendly familiar faces and some new ones. Cyn is a brilliant sketcher and gave us some tips about pens and so on. After a few hours I went to take a peek at the controversial new Kate painting in the NPG. At first I thought I was going blind as there seemed to be a mist in front of my eyes as I looked at the painting. I rubbed my eyes, and no, the mist was kind of painted over the portrait. Apart from the eyes, which looked as though they had been carved from marble or glass, the rest of it kind of dwindled into the mist thing. The mouth looked as though she was tensing up the muscles in a slightly uncomfortable way. The whole thing cheered me up a bit, I disliked it so much, and it made me think we were all in with a chance. But at the same time it was rather dreary to think it was the best the NPG could do. Still, I supppose the commercial art world is all about patronage, and the painter had won the portrait competition a few years ago so was being handed a lollipop, so to speak. Pity he smeared it all over the painting. Oh well, it does me good to be nasty every once in a while. The truth is that whoever painted the damn thing was in for a hard time, either from the critics or the public, and probably both. I then trotted off to Cass Art and bought a new pencil and a couple of art bags. I can never get enough of these, though the colours have been rather vivid recently. I wish they would get black, white, brown ones, etc. They used to do a very good olivey green. Ordered the Copic pens recommended by Cyn online. Today I posted a couple of bits and pieces and sketched a girl at the coffee place. She looked rather picturesque in a red and white checked jacket with black mittens and red bow wristlets with diamante in the middle. Very nice cats eye reddish specs too. Due to take some pieces around to Del for the exhibition at WAC gallery. I shall do this tomorrow as I did not receive the information about it until I had already committed myself for a large part of Saturday. Need to do some printing tomorrow morning.Needless to say no paint in the shop and Nicos turning up on Friday. Sod's law.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Lively explosions

and pretty coloured flames at a short talk at the Albert Arms last night. People called Pubsci (Science in the pub) organised it. Free and good fun with an excellent speaker, Claire Benson who is an expert on fires and explosions. Here's a sketch I did there.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Steam anniversary train

Going to Hammersmith on Sunday we stopped at a station while this old steam train passed us. Some anniversary of the ?Metropolitan line apparently. Very cute little carriages and only had time for a quick snap.


Getting bloody cold, innit? I am now sporting my shrunken, motheaten, partly darned and felted cashmere sweaters and cardigans which are a bit of a godsend in this chilly clime - and am never without gloves. So happy I purchased masses of fine kid gloves for a fiver a pair from a charity sale ex the old Christian Dior London boutique, but must seek out some fingerless gloves for sketching, so I can look like an old Mouldiwarp. (Look it up - clue: E. Nesbit). Anyway it was Madeleine's birthday, so after painting a layer of white gloss on the banister rail as instructed by Julian the other day, I departed for Hammersmith, where I was picked up by Madeleine, along with a niece who had cycled part of the distance. Congratulations were in order because the niece had just bagged a great job as what we used to call a 'talent scout' for a record company, which at the least should ensure much wining and dining for the foreseeable future, and provide fantastic experience for the future. We had an excellent lunch cooked by Madeleine,with a wonderful pavlova provided by a close friend. Good fun was had by all, and I was dropped off at the bus station at Westfields which made it easier to get almost to my door on a 148 bus. The paint had dried so I applied a further coat to dry overnight and settled for an evening of TV: the Hotel, which has made me laugh since the beginning; preceded by Come Dine, and then the Selfridges thing. I am beginning to find the last a bit confusing, but put this down to tiredness and lack of concentration in old age. Today I shall check the paint situation again. If nothing comes soon I shall paint the stairs again in another colour because I am sick of the unfinished look, and need to get on with other problems of decluttering etc. Dorothy seems to be very busy having dinner with friends, so I don't know if or when I can get the snaps I did on to AirBnB. Nicos' arrival in UK has been delayed, so awaiting further news here. On Saturday I went to Luke's Drink and Draw. We started in Covent Garden (totally freezing) and rapidly trotted off to Somerset House for a lunch break. The canteen was totally full so we managed to bag some seats in the main foyer where we ate lunch. I stayed there to attempt a few feeble sketches, after which Jo and I went early to get to our final destination: The Ship and Shovell under the Arches at Charing Cross. Seems the pub is named after the ship again named after Sir Cloudesley Shovell. Good view of the little street and building opposite from upstairs where we colonised the entire room. Went home tired but happy to have started sketching with people again. Some thought I should work as an illustrator, but I have no idea how one would set about it. Any huge financial offers gratefully received. Ha ha. Will put a few sketches on later. Onward and upward.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Still No Paint

I went to the shop and they had been told there was a problem at the factory, so still no damn paint. I have tweeted but I expect in vain. May put something on the forum like: 'anyone know where I can get a tin of Johnstones satin one coat colour: frosted silver - today'?. We shall see. Meanwhile I have to go out drawing in the freezing cold tomorrow, then to Acton on Sunday, and my guest is arriving on Tuesday after my lunchtime sketching appointment. Wish I had never started painting the stairs now. On the way to the shops I saw the back of a woman waiting at the bus stop. She had a large bun low down at the back of her head with three different biros sticking up out of it. Handy. Pity I didn't get a snap.


Very bored on 9th so very quickly drew the table downstairs superimposing the Kookster in a couple of poses as he moved about the table. Such a pain
Next day I spent some time in the Albert Arms and sketched these people at lunchtime, who invited me to a Science in the Pub evening on Monday:

Two Extraordinary Beds seen in Walworth Road

Kookprints: the evidence

Friday Morning

Went to the opening last night having discarded the wig. Being in Princelet Street took me back to the old days pre 1995 when I was at college and we used to have lunch in the Market Cafe, now closed. Reminded me of when we used to lunch with Denis Severs, and Gilbert & George would occasionally pop in, among other local artists. Also reminded me of the house for sale for £50,000 in Gun Street which I unsuccessfully tried to persuade my husband to buy. The man was a fool. Anyway the opening did rather remind me of Cork Street in the eighties and nineties, with lots of young men ligging and the same rather genteel atmosphere. At least there were no cameras which meant that I did not find myself in shot next to some gorgeous AND famous tall person, as always seemed to be the case in Cork Street. Dear me. I was immediately recognised by Jacqueline Parchment who runs an art website and who had invited me as part of a group exhibiting at WAC. Elizabeth Cope's art is slightly Matisse-like in terms of use of colours and drawing. However, I am slightly unfortunately reminded of 'Derek and Clive Live' every time I see a lobster in a painting - especially in relation to any nether regions depicted - as in 'The Worst Job I Ever Had'. This may be due to recently re-reading the Peter Cook scripts. The other unfortunate association for me with lobsters is the tediousness of doing my art A level, when I did several drawings and paintings of these wretches. At that stage, mushrooms and crustaceans have a strange fascination. This is just me, though, I am sure. The only time I now want to see a lobster is in front of me on a plate, freshly caught from Brixham and preferably at the Elephant Restaurant in Torquay. Anyway, Elizabeth was an excellent host and greeted me warmly, dashing off to fetch several glasses of wine for us, which she cleverly managed to hold in one hand between her fingers. I seem to remember trying to do this years ago with disastrous results. It was an interesting opening with lots of work, and before I left I texted Evon, but she wasn't around before I caught the bus home. It would have been good to have a catch-up, and I think she would have enjoyed the opening. Starting last night, it has become freezing cold and Nibby has shot off to Scotland to someone's stately home before the snow sets in. Apparently it is very tasteful and I am sure she will enjoy all the luxury. Early this morning I touched up lots of the ghastly little messes I have made with painting the stairs. I really should not be let near paint. Reminds me of my son's declaration that I am the only person he knows who can bring their house price down by redecorating it. Unfortunately very true. Today I shall look elsewhere for more paint and check the shop for deliveries. Jacqueline has said that maybe I could put two or three pieces into the forthcoming exhibition at WAC since they are quite small. I shall look a few things out. She also mentioned that I might like to contribute articles about art to her blog posts. I am not at all sure about this at all. We shall see.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Still Painting

But they had run out of the colour today. Of course. God knows when they will have more. I found a similar colour in my cupboard and did an undercoat of this down all the stairs before escaping to the pub until the paint dried. Did a brief sketch there and had a jacket potato. Nightmare when I got back. The Kookster had fought his way into the hall and padded downstairs, removing paint from the stairs and printing it on the living room floor. He will have to go. Did not examine the paws but removed the paint from the floor with fine sandpaper. Not sure I like the colour but at least the hall looks lighter. When I get some more I can see I shall have to purchase several additional cans for touching it up all the time. Dear me. Next I shall empty the hall cupboard of anything superfluous. Julian popped around last night briefly and collected a few Christmas presents. Also relieved me of several bottles of booze which were surplus to requirements. Put my wig on to go to an opening tonight in Spitalfields of an Irish artist called Elizabeth Cope, might see Evon or Kate there. More painting tomorrow, drawing on Saturday and to Acton on Sunday. I may go to a Science in the Pub talk on Monday since they invited me and it will be a change from the jazz jam at Toulouse Lautrec. Maybe I can draw scientists. Or drunks. We shall see.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

More sketches

Spring Clean Progress

At Nibby's behest, have started painting the hall stairs and bannisters. Quel cauchemare. Pale silvery grey paint all over the place, but I shall persist, painting doughtily over the dust with horrible thick one coat paint until it at least looks lighter and cleaner. Nicos will arrive for a short stay next Tuesday so it needs to be finished by then. Can't get any snaps on to the AirBnb site. I shall have to discuss my problems with Dorothy here. The kitchen floor (black marble tiles) looks very dull and disgusting. Nibby thinks I should recoat it with the evil stuff that came with it. This may help. Otherwise I shall have to try and find some horrible sticky varnish stuff. We shall see. If all else fails I can cover it with vinyl flooring. It could hardly look worse than now. I have noticed something strange. Since some time last year when I posted someone showing their arse in an unattractive way at the London College of Communication cafe, they have moved the tables to be sideways on to the large picture windows. I like to feel I have contributed to, or maybe even caused this onset of decency in South London. Pensioner power prevails, though you would not think so reading the attacks by government agents in the press. All the millionairs receiving heating allowance have been lumped in with ordinary state pensioners in one suggestion that only those in receipt of pension credit should receive heating allowance and TV licence payment (not payable to anyone under 75 in any case). Those of us with £1 or two who are just outside pension credit payability already lose out a lot since pension credit is a 'gateway' benefit and affects council tax, ability to get free specs etc. You would think they would be content to kill us off in hospitals and nursing homes with all the scandals revealed almost daily in the press: 'starvation', 'left lying in faeces' etc. etc. Rant over. Later today I shall attempt to reseal the kitchen floor. First jam at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec on Monday. And I have been doing a sketch a day, however brief and rough. Good practise.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sketchaday first three days

Clean Sweep

Have been dumping old canvases by the bins daily and watching them disappear. Julian will collect my old blackboard easel and drawing board and I may be able to get rid of some acrylic paints if I sort them out. Spent a vast sum today on two more Bristol board sketchbooks and some pens etc. Have succeeded in putting my room on Five Nights a Week (no takers) but failed dismally to get it on to Air BnB because I can't get a photograph on. Same problem as Facebook no doubt, antique laptop and antique iphone. Cant even get snaps on using Ipad but Dorothy will look at this at some stage. Mind you, I looked at the description of the smart shiny places being offered and decided the only way to get anyone would be to appeal to their spirit of adventure, which enabled me to be rather truthful about the shabby pad I call home. It remains to be seen how much of a deterrent this will be. It may be that Air Bnb will remove it as not being grand enough for their clientele. I removed a huge keyboard Dorothy had stored under the stairs but could not find the stand so thought I would use the ironing board. However the keyboard was so heavy I could not lift it out of the case so it is now back under the stairs. Dorothy has left masses of bits and pieces relating to making electronic music here, including a prehistoric Atari computer. Dear me. On Nibby's advice I shall repaint the stairs, but instead of the white she suggested I shall try a pale grey which might not show Kook's pawmarks quite so much but will make the area look a little lighter. We shall see. I can do one stair at a time to try and avoid Kook ruining the whole thing. I am doing a major clearout but will keep anything sensible such as bedding and towels for when Julian gets a new flat. I probably have enough stuff for a couple of flats. Today I sallied forth in my new wig which of course looks very cheap and synthetic. It is rather comfortable though and doesn't feel as though it will fall off, and not too hot. I am attempting to do a drawing a day. Yesterday's was complete crap. If I have the energy I shall go to Toulouse Lautrec tonight as it is the first jam of the year. I think my next clearout will be in the clothes department. The kitchen is proving refractory, but I am hoping to donate some drinks to anyone who presents themselves. I have at least half a dozen half empty bottles of spirits and liqueurs which it seems a shame to throw away. Then the fence needs fixing outside, a major job involving a new fence post, and probably plenty of dosh for a hairy arsed lad who has not yet been identified. We shall see. Skilled volunteers accepted. Nibby's grand piano is due to arrive today which is exciting. I do wish I had room for a piano, not that I can play, really. Oh well. It will be a great acquisition and huge fun for the grandchildren no doubt. Any grade 1-3 sheet music gratefully accepted so I can send it to Nibs.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Eve

Celebrated in style at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. Had an early dinner downstairs which was delicious: Pate de foie gras with fig jam after an amuse-bouche involving a foam covering sun dried tomato and chorizo. Main course was guinea fowl with mash and green beans. Mushroom and wine reduction. Then pistachio ice cream with chocolate melting pud. Staggered upstairs. The room had been arranged with chairs around the edges to allow for dancing. I found one of the two small tables and installed myself. Jason appeared, looking very smart in evening dress with his mother and young sister.His mama looks very glamorous, like a younger and more attractive Joanna Lumley. They sat with me and I spent the evening drawing. Not terribly successful but at least got a couple of drawings done, and ended with a very rough sketch after midnight when everyone was dancing. Jason bought a bottle of champagne which they kindly shared with me. The evening was great fun. As I came out the whole street was full of young people trying to get into a party. Went down Dante Road and it was a bit of an Inferno, with an empty warehouse throbbing with the sound of a large rave. Masses of people but took a quick snap where you can just see the silhouette of a DJ in a window. More people in St. George's Road, probably returning from the fireworks. Had texts from Dorothy, Nicos and Kate wishing me a happy New Year. Pierre from Canada had rung up earlier in the evening. After feeding the Kookster, fell into bed at about 2.30am. Here's the snaps: