Splashing the Cash for Sir Timothy

So … the show will go on at the castle in August! I’m so happy and relieved after all the time and money invested in it. 

The image left was taken at the recent photo shoot. I’m holding the unframed work in front of the antique portrait  behind. This is where Sir Timothy will hang; on the beautiful Rococo staircase full of ancestral portraits.



As befits Sir Timothy’s status in life, I’ve splashed out on a hand-moulded antique-style gold frame for him. (The image (right) was taken in my garden.)

Alec the framer tells me that the real antique frames were covered with gold leaf and are worth £1000s.

There are hundreds of framed portraits in the castle. Derry, (estate manager), confirmed that many of the frames are worth more than the paintings they hold!


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Fabulous Beasts Exhibition – Back On!

Hooray! Fabulous Beasts is back on, albeit in a different format but still at Powderham Castle.

The intended exhibition space cannot be renovated in time (and we now fully understand the dilemma faced by the castle) so Janec and I will now be showing our work at various points inside the castle itself.  We met Derry (Estate Manager) on Thursday and looked at possible sites to place the work.

Janec and I both needed time to process what happened and to rethink – and we are now feeling excited again about the project. We are working to create an art trail around the castle to find the works.

The show will run from August 8 – September 30 when the castle closes.

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Marmite Finally Finished!

I think I’ve struggled more with this picture than any for a long time – eventually reverting to a background of mixed green ‘stuff’ with an occasional hint of pink/purple to echo the tongue.  The right hand side of the face has been revised a few times and (finally) I am HAPPY with him!

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Plug pulled on Exhibition at Eleventh Hour

I am so sad as I write this post:

Three days ago, I received an email from the manager of Powderham Castle with the devastating news that the Fabulous Beasts exhibition will not go ahead this year.                  I am still in a state of shock!

“We have been hit by huge delays and financial burdens on the other projects that have been underway, and I am afraid that we do not have enough time or resource to get the spaces ready for the exhibition.”

The plug has been pulled soo late in the day – we were due to open on July 25 – and we are still reeling.

Janec and I also had to make the decision to pull out of Devon Open Studios – this bombshell came on the same day that the DOS brochure was being signed off to go to print.

As our exhibition was site-specific, we have decided to postpone the show to 2022, sincerely hoping that resources will be found to renovate the exhibition rooms as planned.

Thank you all for your support.

(PS Marmite still in progress!)


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Still No Decision!

Still undecided about Marmite – the paint will be so thick by the time I’ve finished! I added the crumpled tissue background and tried a pale icy blue colour, but wasn’t happy with it. Then reverted to green but it’s still not the result I’m looking for.







In the past, I overheard a comment that my purpose in making a tissue paper background is to ‘cut corners’. This isn’t the case – it’s purely about finding the right solution for the piece.  There is a texture to the tissue that adds interest. Sometimes a solid background of plastic ‘stuff’ overwhelms the picture. And with Marmite, there are fine hairs coming from the ears that would be lost against a busy background. But the hairs are grey and rather lost against the green anyway. (I’m just thinking aloud here!!)

The white colour of the middle of the 3 images is the most accurate. Right hand image – it’s the same as the middle image but looks darker: just experimenting with a few small circuit boards to add interest??? (Probably not!) Now I’m wondering if the original lighter green version (below) worked better (Aargh!) I think I’ll just live with the piece for a few days and await inspiration!




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Thanks for the Suggestions!

Thank you all for the different suggestions on how to complete Marmite!

Usually when I make a work, I have a clear picture of the finished result in my head.    With this one, it just isn’t there. But I’ll keep going and I know the answer will present itself…

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Decisions, decisions

I’ve been looking at Marmite for a long time, wondering how to finish the background.  The greens seemed too similar in tone to the grey of the ears.

This is a commission but the client has not requested any particular background colour.  My only instruction was “Not pink”!

I decided to try a different background colour – orange – and immediately didn’t like it. I quite like the deep red of the beads (draped over the work in the image) but then wondered if the usual ‘solid’ background of ‘stuff’ would detract from the detail I’ve not put in yet, like hairs sticking out on the ears.

So now I’m thinking of going for a textured scrumpled tissue paper background (like on Timothy Tortoise) which will allow Marmite’s details to show up more clearly. Might also revert to green??

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Fun with Problem Solving

Since posting the Marmite picture, I realised there were issues with the face on the right side of the image. I’ve been working from a very small photo and it’s hard to see the shape of the snout. Finally, I think I’ve worked it out and have been making changes – still working on it but it’s definitely looking better. I love this problem solving process, and when things eventually come right, it’s immensely satisfying!

Before (left) and after (right)

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Marmite – work in progress

Here’s the latest work in progress – a commission of a dog named Marmite – I’ve never done a pet portrait before. Originally I thought it could be included in Fabulous Beasts as it (sort of) fits the theme. However, I think I have enough work for the exhibition space already. Some of the materials seen here have already been moved or removed – it changes all the time. Quite a few things are just temporarily stuck with ‘blutac’.

I’m not sure about the background colour at the moment – it may need more contrast as where the green meets the grey is all mid-tone.

The floor is a big mess where I pick over possible materials to fit (and that’s not even in my work room.) Fortunately, as I’ve said before, my husband is very tolerant!

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Sir Timothy Tortoise Finished

I’m so happy with Sir Timothy!

I made some final adjustments to his wig today and took him to see Alec the framer to try out some frames – Alec persuaded me to splash out on an antique-style gold frame – very extravagant but fitting for someone of Sir Timothy’s standing, and for the grand staircase in the castle!

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