Thursday, 29 January 2009


Apparently a man can move in with his dad and his dad's wife, torment her and make her life hell, gradually cut them off from their friends and family, intercept phone-calls by diverting the house phone to his mobile, ban all their friends from visiting, phoning and writing, can hound the wife about a fad diet he is keen on to the degree that she gives up cooking and he takes over the food preparation, can abduct them, be arrested and sectioned, released, move back, can cause so much stress to the dad's wife that she develops early onset Alzheimers, can insist she is a burden right up to the point where her mother dies and he realises she will be very wealthy. He can then try and get her to sign a homemade power of attorney putting him in charge, can start really waging a war to get hold of her money, can refuse her medical treatment and dentistry and dementia check-ups, can change everyone in her life who disapproves of him, can change her doctor repeatedly, steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that her own daughter might know her better or have more rights. He can ask a family friend to support him in seeking power of attorney. He can refuse to provide invoices for carers, yet still expects money and complains about her attorneys to the OPG. He can refuse to allow Social Services in to check on his stepmother except for a pre-arranged monthly slot in the evening - and only one man. When his dad dies, despite the fact of everyone in Social Services knowing he is a risk to her, they still make her stay there because they are worried about his litigious nature.

More importantly, despite having been told over and over again and made to promise during every visit that she must not let the woman stay in the house with this man when her husband was dead, the daughter is completely powerless to get her mother out. And so are the authorities because the laws are not in place. So every day, this poor woman is having her personal care provided by the man she hated most in the world, while he fleeces her for money, but legally.

And get this - he can now refuse the daughter access and she has no right to see her Mum, despite being her attorney and next of kin, because the house is now his home and he is claiming squatters rights...

The law is useless.

Otherwise... I have started painting no. 3 of the triptych - but I haven't done no. 1 yet!

Friday, 23 January 2009

A Private Hell

The personal life has been getting in the way again and I have spent all day looking at Care Homes and then getting various bits of bad news, writing letters and emails, wishing I had studied Law, not Art...

I cannot wait until things settle down so I can concentrate on my work properly - what with the issues with my mother (dementia), my youngest daughter who has disabilities who we are trying to get statemented, my eldest daughter soon going to a new school and then all our own home troubles, I do envy all those people for whom life seems to work. I am still managing to do 40 hrs plus a week at work but it is not enough - to get this to work out for me I need to treat it like an obsession.

I'll get there eventually.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Moving Day

No - we haven't been evicted! Last night I finally moved all the rest of my work stuff down to my studio with my ever so helpful father-in-law, and when I say everything, I am of course not including the office chair that was accidentally left at home. I will have to wait to enjoy rolling across a large expanse of laminate flooring whilst striking artistic poses. I'm thinking of making a short film - something to accurately convey my joy at having a large space to work in, through the medium of interpretative dance...

I still have some boxes left to unpack but as soon as I am set up, I will post pictures.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


In five days my husband runs out of work. On the one hand this will give me much more uninterrupted time to work, with no school runs and a real chance of producing something worthwhile.

On the other hand it means we could lose everything, so I am also looking at article writing and greetings cards and any other sort of possible fast cash - barring prostitution...

It will be interesting to see if the result of this extra pressure will be good or bad writing. Sometimes a deadline can really help me to focus on what I am doing, so we shall see.

In the meantime Harrogate looks like a definite no.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


I was going to blog about Big Brother yesterday and how almost every crime writer I know watches it, but I have been a bit thrown by the news three hours ago that my stepfather passed away at 6.30am Saturday morning.

He was a lovely man, 97 years old and will be greatly missed.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Three into one

The problem with a triptych is to have all three paintings looking like they are part of the whole - hopefully style and pallette will be enough to tie them together, but this is the first time I have tried something like this so I still have a lot of things to decide. Does it matter that the third picture is zoomed in a little more than the first? Will it throw the balance off? Do I paint the two close-ups at the same time or individually? It might be easier to match colours if I do everything simultaneously but...I'm a professional! I'm sure I can reproduce any colour I need to so I think it is more sensible to paint them individually - especially as they have different moods. I now cannot get back down to the studio until Sunday - then on Tuesday I finally get to take the rest of my furniture down there and the studio will be complete. Finally - after about three or four months! I can't wait.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The person before the person

Before the resemblance hits my painting of the person I am trying to depict, there is usually another one that sneaks in there first. I don't know why.

At the start, Mark Billingham resembled Osama Bin Laden, Ian Rankin resembled Ian Ogilvy and now the close-up of my husband's face looks like Kenny Everett - all because I put his mouth a little bit too high.

In case you were wondering, I bought all sorts of canvasses yesterday and was finally able to find a pretty close match, so the previous day's work was not wasted.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ooaarrr me hearties!

I had to take a rare break from work today to go to the dentist. I've been putting it off, hoping to be able to afford the money for a white crown, but I can't so I am now the not-so-proud owner of a gold tooth. Avast, me shipmates!

It really isn't me.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Assume makes an ass out of u and me

I spent all morning at the studio drawing out part two of my National Portrait Award Entry. Then I picked up a second canvas from the set of four and put it on the board next to the previous one - it wouldn't sit flush. So I tried the other two. Not one of them is the same size as another, despite being packaged together as a set of four identical canvasses. One of them was a full inch out. Silly of me to assume they would be the same size. So now do I buy another set of four in the hope that one of them matches the other one I have already drawn, or do I buy two box canvasses (which are better quality and will be the same size) and redraw the picture I spent all day working on in excruciatingly fine detail today?

I hate wasting a day.

On the plus side, I didn't smoke at all today, despite being around other people smoking, and I walked back home up a steep hill in the wind and rain. The idea of walking back was more appealing than doing it but despite it being horrible, it only took me 22 minutes so there really is no excuse for me not to do it every day.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Why oh why oh why...

...did I spend that money yesterday? That was half the cost of the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. The money is due at the end of this month. What a fool! I could have paid for my publicity next month.


Ah well - my one remaining chance is that now I have stopped smoking and am on a fitness kick, I may manage to save enough by not getting taxis and buying cigarettes.

It's going to be a lean month.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Server not found

One disadvantage of working for yourself is that the working week tends to bleed into the weekend. One advantage is that you can work in your pyjamas, which is why I am sitting here in the late afternoon in my fuzzy pink dressing-gown! The intention was there to be very productive today, but it has all been blown by dodgy internet access. As I write this, I have no idea whether or not I will be able to post it. It's frustrating.

My internet access did stay on long enough however for me to spend a small fortune on internet publicity.


Friday, 9 January 2009

Styles and Techniques

Part of being an artist (or a writer) is to constantly challenge yourself and experiment, so that you don't stagnate. A creative person also becomes bored very easily so there is no choice. Even if you hit upon a style that is so popular that all your work is being snapped up, the sad thing is that you cannot continue with it indefinitely. Dissatisfaction will set in and before long the work looks forced. It's all about honesty.

I have decided to move back to smaller work for a number of reasons:

- Materials are cheaper

- Unsold pieces don't take up as much storage space in my studio

- I am more likely to sell it as it can be less expensive and also that it will fit in an average-sized house.

- The reason I started painting big in the first place was to get away from producing paintings that felt like illustrations and also to celebrate having space of my own. I think I have crossed a line with the last two paintings and have improved my style. Now I can go smaller again as long as I don't fall back into bad habits.

- The work doesn't take as long to produce so I don't get fed up with it after a year and it is more likely to be cost-effective. If a painting takes me a year to produce, I can't charge the equivalent of a 40 hr a week year at minimum wage. Most people cannot afford it. I have to be practical.

Despite needing to finish off my last portrait and work on the rewrites of my novel, I am also painting the middle section of my entry for the National Portrait Award (see above). It is a triptych and no, I am not sure that is the correct spelling. I am enjoying every moment of this painting but there is still a lot to do. I would love to get this one exhibited in 2009.
Today I received my issue of Paint magazine - the newsletter of the SAA. It described a technique I knew nothing about - adding water to pastel. I can't wait to try it. One way dilutes the pastel and spreads it around and the other way intensifies the colour. I think it will work very well with the Rochester scenes I am planning to produce at speed for our shop in the High Street Rochester.
I'm excited - it's a good feeling. Means I am not stagnating yet...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Starting Again

It is a new year, I have moved to a new studio, I am painting a new portrait and I have a new draft of edits on my novel to complete. My old blog on my website never worked properly and is a random mismatch of fonts and sizes which will not be altered back - so I'm making a new start with everything.

The reason I am blogging is to chart my attempt to become successful working for myself in the creative world. I hope that it will be of help to other amateurs. I started a couple of years ago and in that time I have made some headway. I was an unemployed mother of two but I now have my own business as a portrait artist and writer. I have moved to a larger studio at the New Art Centre in Chatham and have had some successes. I exhibited for the first time and was surprised how much I gained from the experience. Over 5000 people came through the gallery and I learned a lot from watching them and listening to their comments. The biggest change though was feeling the freedom to call myself an artist and the biggest surprise was the next time I visited London galleries. I walked around them, seeing the building as just another exhibition space - something achievable - not out of my league. This gave me the confidence to start entering the big competitions. I was also published in a book along with some other Medway Artists and one of my portraits was chosen to be made into a digital mosaic. As a result I had some of my paintings projected onto Rochester Castle in 2008 as part of the Medway Cultural Olympiad.

I have also been writing for many years now and have been working on my first novel for a looooong time! The past couple of years have seen me concentrating on bringing it together into a complete thing. I've also been torturing myself by networking - something that does not come naturally to me. I now have a whole bunch of agents who are interested and I finally found the nerve to send my novel to a legendary agent in July 2008. He phoned my house the very next day but I was at a Crime-writing festival so he wrote to me instead with his critique of what I need to change for the book to suit him. They are all valid points but I must admit, I have been licking my wounds a bit! He is right though, and I need to alter it now - if the home life hadn't become manic shortly after, I would have aimed to get it back to him within the month but it can't be helped. I just hope the delay hasn't put him off. I have a special needs child and a mother with Alzheimers. Life can really get in the way at times...

I keep in mind one line from his letter: 'No doubt about your creativity and potential.' I was also tipped as 'the next big thing' by a journalist from the Sunday Telegraph which is a nice boost to my ego!

I am proud of what I have achieved in the last two years. I have gone from being a secretive arty type, hidden away at home to a self-employed more confident person who is (I hope) on the cusp of becoming successful. The thing that had held me back in the past was being told that I had to choose between art and writing. It was when I read 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron that I realised I could do both and call myself 'a creative'. Yes I am over-stretched and over-worked, but I am loving every moment of it. If you want to join me on this journey, I will be glad to have your company.

This will work!