Monday, 1 August 2016

Rooftop Raving in collaboration with Secret Brunch

I had a phone call out of the blue from a lovely female disembodied South African accent voice last Thursday.  The voice introduced herself as Romy Newman of Secret Brunch parties and that she had found me via my presence on ArtFinder.  She told me she was in charge of the entertainment for a pop up party for young beautiful things aged 21-35 somewhere in London on a roof top.  They needed an artist to paint from 12-3 and was I interested?

My initial reaction was "God No", but about half an hour later I remembered something my ex mother-in-law used to say.  She told me in the context of maintaining a social life "I say yes to everything".  I realised that single parenting with not just my art but the yoga and sorting rentals for charity with Casa La Celada keeps me very busy and that actually I rarely go out and do what I would call "the fun stuff".  Well, it doesn't get much more fun than setting up your easel on a London city roof top with the Shard, Gherkin, Cheesegrater and Walkie Talkie as your backdrop so I said Yes with no idea how I would make it work.

I spent a few hours creating a series of backgrounds just like the ones we all created at last Friday's wonderful Art from the Heart art class at Labels.  

On the day I was awake at my usual 5 o'clock and was on the road after a lovely yoga practice in the garden by 6.45am.  The venue is only released to the thousands of invited revellers the night before so all very exciting and fresh.  I arrived and set up in time to start painting well before the party goers arrived and thank god for that really as I was shaking like a jelly!

This was my view - the extraordinary roof top of Le Coq d'Argent at 1 Poultry

Utterly breathtaking, awesome, overwhelming, and it was my job to paint it for the party!  AND AMANDA DOESN'T DO PEOPLE remember?!

I've never put myself in such a public situation before, completely open to criticism and disdain artistically, and I was genuinely scared that I might not be up for the task but as the minutes flowed into hours, what flowed in turn off my brush excites and amazes me. I've never taken so many risks with colours or lines or gone so beyond the edge in depiction of people and I completely love the effect.  I also took with me some fabulous quotes from the likes of Emerson and Wilde and these words dance around the revellers as if fully part of the party.

I left the heaving throng of bouncing and shouting RayBanners at around 3.30pm - roughly at the same time as when the music cranked up to nosebleed levels of volume and began a four hour journey home via several petrol station stops.

Coming back to the bungalow was lovely, but I must admit something inside me has reawakened from my days of being a London socialite party goer - it was a lot a lot a LOT of fun!


I'm so pleased with my website rebirth which happened a couple of weeks ago.  Gone is the nasty Etsy interface, welcome an in house shop.  It makes it all far easier to navigate and that means less clicks to buy!  So if you're in need of sprucing up your card drawer for that special occasion, please have a browse and see if any of my local scenes could do the trick!


Martin, Zack and I have been really busy this month hanging two significant and completely different exhibitions. The first is at the wonderful Brockweir and Hewelsfield Village Shop in Brockweir, up above the snaking Llandogo to Tintern road.  The shop prides itself on being Eco warrior minded which I love.  The garden is huge with all kinds of child friendly distractions with delicious cakes, teas, lunches and snacks on offer.  If you have a day out with the family, do please pop in and visit.  And yes, of course there's a competition running there - you'll have to go and see what it is!  

The second and unexpected surprise curve ball was a call middle of last week from Taurus Crafts  in Lydney.  For reasons beyond anyone's control, their peak summer exhibition artist pulled out leaving them with bare walls until the middle of September when my exhibition was scheduled. The delightful Colette and Tom asked if there was any chance I could step in and fill the space. My initial reaction was total panic stations! Apart from being in Pizza Express at the time with Martin, Zack and our Spanish exchange student, and therefore not in the best place to figure out if this was workable at all, in my head all I could think of was I didn't have enough work to do it justice. However thanks to the sheer force of nature that is Rachel Fisher of Country Brush and a sneaking pile of new and exciting work beginning to build, we were able to go down last Wednesday and hang 19 paintings, spanning two large restaurant rooms.  It looks absolutely gorgeous d I can't quite believe it's my work.  

We've called the exhibition ART FROM THE HEART and I'd really like to invite you to come down and explore the whole space - I'm exhibiting for two blocks of 6 weeks instead of one so the work will be there until the end of October.  We are holding a Meet the Artist day on Friday 2nd September including a private drinks party in the evening 7-9pm.  Please put the date in your diary, it would be lovely if you could come. 


Thanks to all of you who entered my Forest and Valleys Open Studios competition to name the new Monnow Bridge painting.  

As promised, the winner was drawn on the last Sunday of the exhibition and ... Drum roll ... Step forward please Mr Maurice Watts!  We loved your name "Bridge over Untroubled Waters" when we first saw it so we're thrilled when the random computer selector website chose your number.

A print will be in the post to you within the next couple of weeks - all that's needed is a mailing address please.  As I'm away at the Sundara Community Yoga Camp until next Sunday could you please email me... So that I can get your print to you.


Once again thanks so much for your ongoing support for my work.  See you hopefully at Taurus Crafts on 2nd September.

Have a lovely Summer! 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Hay on Wye

Hay on Wye comes to life once a year with the Hay Festival and to my shame, I have never yet been able to get there.  I put it down to a life of single parenting with three jobs and have promised myself that one of these days I will go, with my easel, and will set up and paint in situ with all the hustle and bustle going on around me.  I imagine it would be a fantastic few days out.

But things as they are – and let’s remember things ALWAYS change, I decided instead to paint Hay thanks to @HayBuzz’s suggestion via Twitter.

I began trawling through dear old Google to find “the iconic image” of Hay and came up with this one.

Well, it’s right up my street – pun intended!  The last time I painted a view like this I was still living in Spain and painted these rather mad pictures while there.  So I wasn’t entirely phased by the idea.

I sketched out the houses as I wanted them to appear – you know the routine now as it follows a form.  Here’s my sketch :

And from there it became a bit of an adventure …

I decided to use a limited range of colours so that the hues didn’t strike out too strongly against each other.  Even though the photograph shows multiple tones of greens, there is a lot of talk among very highly qualified artists that a painting should use the minimum number of colours possible so that they all blend and echo each other rather than striking too great a contrast.

I decided I would explore this idea and I have to say I rather like the result :

Of course the foreground could have been very straight forward and simply ending with the bushes but I felt that in order to echo my quirky style I should finish the foreground with a few flowers and hidden critters to remain in keeping with what people have come to expect.

I hope you like my version of Hay-on-Wye – all comments gratefully received, cards available from £2 each, prints from £45 each and giclee prints from £90 each – please find them all on Etsy or get in touch with me directly via Facebook, Twitter or Email.

Lots of love!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Pixies Gift

In order to write this story I’ve ended up surprising myself by spending a fortnight creating a “Lifetime Timeline”.  Why?  Because I have never been able to nod in social situations and say “Ah yes, that was in 1984”.  The truth is I simply don’t have the foggiest idea, in terms of dates and history, it could have been in 1894 for all I would know.  Without my timeline, all events simply disappear into the mists of time.  
So to help me write the story of Pixie’s Gift, I have created a spreadsheet, laying out before me the chronology of my life.  What an extraordinarily great exercise it has been.  I highly recommend it.  For instance, I now know that in the same year that I met the great Doctor A and his wife who commissioned me to paint Pixie’s Gift last year, Per Lindstrom and Richard Branson flew across the Atlantic and, on a more global extraordinary level, Apartheid finally ended.  
I have memories of the events, and now I know it was also the year I left London and moved to Ross to temp for a while.  Can you guess the year I wonder?  My timeline tells me I was just 26 years old….
So having settled myself and started to make a name for myself as a pretty good PA, I had a call from one of the agencies to ask me to go and “do my thing” supporting a team of 26 structural engineers.  I had no idea what that meant, but I found myself at the desk of a smiley, wiry, sparkly man about 20 years older than me at Nuclear Electric’s sprawling offices in Barnwood, Gloucester.  This is Dr A – the team leader and all round great good egg.   Dr A still talks fondly (or with a shake of fear in his voice, I can never quite tell), about how this fresh young PA rocked up, and within a matter of days had the team of rather crusty Oxford professor-types eating out of the palm of her hand as she brought probably 5-10 years of outdated and inefficient filing mechanisms up to scratch.  I remember one particular engineer, let’s call him Adam, who was attached to about 14 dusty cardboard boxes bulging with paper that lurked like a rabid dog under his desk.  It was like wrestling the dog from the jaws of a rolling alligator clearing up his space, but clear it up I did….!
From those several months of sorting and filing, microfiche and playing Mah Jong, Dr A and his wife became initially Christmas Card buddies, and eventually firm friends.
Travelling back through the timeline to 2015, Dr & Mrs A were kind enough to go a fair distance to support me in my first major art exhibition since returning to the UK.  I held it in Ross-on-Wye at the lovely Royal Hotel, recently taken over by Sally and Matt Perkins, friends and neighbours of mine.  I was so excited – and with good reason – by the end of the exhibition I had received eight new art commissions, and to an artist that’s like all your Christmases coming at once.
Over a lovely lunch gazing out towards the Wye Valley, Dr A handed me a photograph.  As I looked at the image of their beloved narrow boat, Pixie’s Gift, they told me that they had finally come to taking a big and sad decision – that it was time to sell her. Gulp.


Thankfully Dr & Mrs A were willing to trust me to get on with the job and to allow an evolutionary process to happen. So the painting began.



It was an incredible journey of creation.  The undulations of the boat, the sparkles of the water … I learned so much about how to capture the essence of water without over-painting or over-working.  The purple of the boat, of course, isn’t just “purple” – rather there are blacks, greys, blues and reflections.  What a complicated baby Pixie’s Gift was!
My most favourite moment was bringing those two swans into the foreground.  To me, Dr & Mrs A have what so many couples aspire to have - an enduring respect for each other that to me is the greatest gift any couple can give each other.  Acceptance of each other’s likes and dislikes, a willingness to give each other space to be themselves, and from there can grow a love that stands the test of time.



I placed the swans right in the foreground, facing each other, creating a heart shape with their necks as Pixie’s Gift gently motors away to her new home. Just as Mrs A’s mum passed away into another realm, so has Pixie’s Gift.  But the love of Dr & Mrs A endures forever, and my heart shaped swans are my own personal tribute to two of the nicest people I know.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Treverven – A Birthday Surprise Quirky Quickie

Today’s Quirky Quickie was so moving.  A lovely bunch of local friends quietly hatched a plan to surprise a dear friend of theirs.  The friend, Denise, had apparently been saying such lovely things about my art for ages, so her friends decided that as an important birthday was coming up, they’d all club together and treat her to a delicious bespoke lunch at Woods of Whitchurch while I was in the corner beavering away.

A huge THANK YOU first of all has to go to Woody's staff, especially Loreen, who looked after everyone seamlessly and professionally.  I’m sorry Loreen, I didn’t take a photo of you but you were amazing!
So about two weeks ago, one of the gang – Rachel – sent me these photos. 

I found out today she was doing a Peter Rabbit – bobbing about sculduggerously among the petunias trying to snap photos without anyone knowing she was there!  Poor thing – she had to go back several times as I kept on being fussy about the angles needed.  Had I known the lengths she was going to I might have been less demanding! 
But what mattered is the primary sketch was created last week – the important bit – giving me enough time today to create, work on and finish Denise’s commission.
I got started at 10 and made fast progress deliberately so that when the party arrived the house would be recognisable. 

Members of the party started arriving at this point so I had to stop and chat a little, but soon got back to it!

And then the Birthday Girl arrived.  Honestly we were all overwhelmed with her reaction.  It was so moving.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so utterly bowled over as Denise was, it was a privilege to be a witness.

So we needed some photos together obviously before they would let me get on!

And then they settled down to fizz and the most fantastic lunch of tapas created by the wonderful Lucy Gardner and her kitchen ninjas.  The smells were utterly scrumptious I had to concentrate on painting rather than listening to my tummy grumbling! 

And finally, at around 1.15pm, and after a few “could my cats be in there somewhere?” sort of questions, I was able to take the tape off from around the edge and present “Treverven, Quirky Quickie Style” to Denise and her friends.

What do you think?

If you would like to commission me to create a quirky quickie of your home, please do email me on with a high-resolution photograph and I will let you know the next available slot.  Price : £200 to include a delicious fizzy lunch or tea for two!