Crisis? What Crisis?

Written By: Anne - Mar• 16•14

Sometimes sharing a view can help you unwind what appears to be a complicated issue. Until my last post, I’d been struggling with what I thought was an issue of identity until several people came to my rescue and helped me to realise I was probably dealing more with an sense of belonging. Thanks to all who sent email and twitter messages though you would be doing my ego no end of good if you were to post your replies on my blog as well. It kinda helps raise my profile.

Market Woman Selling Tomatoes (Ghana)

Market Woman Selling Tomatoes (Ghana)

Needless to say I am quite happily settled and painting stuff I like to paint. I say this because for a number of years I have been trying to launch myself as a professional painter. By this I mean I would like to earn over 80% of my income from my paintings. One thing I have done is to conduct my art as though it were a business; to try and spend as much time marketing myself as I spend in studio. With this in mind I found myself a mentor and learned very quickly that if I wanted to make it as an artist then I  ought to paint what people want. This is good business advice if you understand economic and the laws of supply and demand however am beginning to think as an artist that this can lead to one making rather a lot of compromises. I finally decided there are better painters out there who can paint the lake district or the peak district and whilst I am not ruling myself out of doing these areas I want to concentrate more on the subjects that give me pleasure on the basis that out there there will be another soul who’s love of my paintings will resonate with mine enough for them to dig deep and make a purchase. I have sold many paintings before, I am just trying to increase the frequency of sales.

So crisis averted I have been considering why it is I love to paint so much. I’ve had to consider this in response to a competition I entered recently and this is my part of my response; ‘

…if you have ever read a book that has been so captivating you can’t put it down, you will probably come close to understanding why I love to paint so much. For me it’s like climbing through a vista into another world where I can lose myself to my imagination. When I return, I want to bring something back with me that others can enjoy as well and when it resonates with them, I feel like a certain magic has passed between us’.

My most recent painting ‘Market Woman Selling Tomatoes’ probably describes this feeling. Even though I sketch a lot, I love to capture the moment with a camera and this was one I took in Ghana during my last visit.

Here are a few thumbnails so you can see the process. I am enjoying the use of abstract shapes in the background and the use of gold paint though in the not to distant future I will be using gold leaf. Enjoy… and don’t forget to add your comments below.

 

Step 1 prime the background

Step 1 prime the background

Step 2 - Drawing & Shading

Step 2 – Drawing & Shading

3

Step 3 – Adding Colour

4

Step 4 Adding Detail

5

Step 5 – All Done

 

A crisis of identity?

Written By: Anne - Jan• 26•14

This is something of an admission and perhaps you can all help me settle it in my mind once and for all. You see for a long time I have struggled to define myself as an artist of sorts. What best describes my art? I come across this issue every time I feel the need to update my artist statement. The thing is am I an African artist? I know I am an artist and I come from Africa (Ghana) but when we talk about African art does my art identify with what has commonly come to be known as ‘African’ art?

A street scene in New York

A street scene in New York

This fishing village scene shows people at work

This fishing village scene shows people at work

Even as I write I’m finding it difficult to describe exactly what I mean as African art has all kinds of definitions and I don’t really want to write an essay on the subject. There’s the tourist stuff; you  know the women with long necks, spindly legs with babies on their backs and pots on their heads and then there are the  portraits with tribal marks masses of beads around their necks and intricately braided hair. Wikipedia attempts a definition: the art of sub Saharan Africa but what exactly is that? Wikipedia does admit people often generalize traditional African art and that the continent is full of people, societies and civilizations each with a unique visual culture. One thing is certain that the art was of a utilitarian nature and involved the use of very bright colours with patterns of a rather abstract nature.

The Majorelle Gardens in Morocco

The Majorelle Gardens in Morocco

I am comfortable painting a street scene in Northampton

I am comfortable painting a street scene in Northampton

I am very attracted to extremely bright colours but I feel this is more of an expression rather than something that is inherently in my nature. I’ve always felt the strong bright colours and patterns found in my art were down to my African heritage and perhaps they are but I often wonder if this is a product of learned behaviour? Am I sub-consciously pandering to an expectation that this is what I should produce?

Women gossiping at the market

Women gossiping at the market

Ah, I get so confused and perhaps I am putting too much thought into it. I like to paint what I see in front of me and this ranges from a single flower, to an expansive panoramic landscape whilst picking up studies of people at work or children at play along the way. I am happy to make these studies wherever I am; in the UK where I live, my native Ghana or on holiday in the US or Morocco.

Berber women in Morocco

Berber women in Morocco

 

Does it matter? Perhaps it doesn’t. Not all my art is recognizably African and perhaps that’s because I try to avoid painting what I feel people expect to see from an ‘African’ artist. I don’t know that I do this consciously but when I do try to identify myself as an African artist I feel I don’t always meet the criteria I have as yet not been able to define.

For now, I am an African, I am an artist and I live in the UK. It doesn’t much matter in what order those three statements are made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twist In My Spontaneity

Written By: Anne - Jul• 21•13

I really don’t like making excuses and one is not required for not blogging for such a long time. I am a spontaneous blogger and when the moment catches me there is an outpouring of words. Often when the dynamics of your life situation changes so do a lot of things you did as a matter of course.

I am aware this is the first blog I have written this year but so what? Last year I held a joint exhibition with my friend and colleague Larry Otoo which was reasonably successful mostly in the way we managed to raise the funds we needed but then there was the saga with CityLink when two of my paintings went AWOL en route to their new home. It was a heartbreaking six weeks before my paintings and I were reunited.

My painting ' Majorelle Gardens' won the Winsor & Newton Choice Award for Fine Art

In October last year I found a job; a month after I lost my home. It seemed pretty ironic at the time that I should have been in the final year of my 15 year mortgage but l life took a bit of a twist and there we were. With no other source of income I was forced to go to the job center to ‘sign on’ only this was not as straight forward as it would have appeared. If you are self-employed and you do not pay enough national insurance contributions you simply do not get benefits… it is as simple as that!  No amount of paying tax as a high income tax payer for a zillion years makes a blind bit of difference. So there I was out on my ear and living off the altruistic good nature of my sister Liz, my brother Charles and my friends Asab and Seiwa as well as  my Auntie Stella and good friend Theresa across the wide ocean in America.

I am surrounded by some very inspirational paintings at work

I am now gainfully employed as an in-house artist. I was really excited at the prospect of having a day job doing something I love so passionately. Having sent hundreds of applications for Marketing and Product Management jobs, this one came out of the blue and initially involved a five hour round trip to work by bus but my excitement knew no bounds. In the event I have done very little painting at work but lets leave that bit for another blog. All I can say is that I work with some very interesting and colourful (no pun intended) characters.

In March I broke under the pressure of my debts and voluntarily filed for bankruptcy. Without the security of my home I had nothing to secure my debts and felt I had very little option but to go down this route. Life as an undischarged bankrupt is simple and stress free but perhaps the most painful part has been the removal of all of my paintings at the behest of the Official Receiver to be auctioned off and the proceeds paid towards my debts. My landlady I think was rather unimpressed I imagine because shortly after extending our lease, she gave us notice and so once again we are home hunting. C’est la vie!

I am reminded of the fable of the powerful king who was humbled by the simple words ‘This too shall pass’ after he was presented with a ring with the inscription that has the ability to make a sad man happy and and happy man sad; indicating that all material conditions good or bad are temporary. No situation is ever permanent.

The Honister Pass in the Lake District is breathtakingly inspirational!

These days my life is uncomplicated. Ironically with my insolvency I find I am without debt and technically more solvent than many of my colleagues. I am painting again and whenever I have the urge I make a trip to one of my favourite spots in the UK; the breathtakingly scenic Lake District for a spot of inspirational sketching en plein air.

As I write, we have found a new home that’s bigger and brighter than the pokey one in which we currently reside . We will be living near the town center and so the bus journey will be shorter and less convoluted. The journey gives me a lot of time to reflect and think through my next painting. The greatest benefit has been the most spectacular and inspirational sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen. A couple of weeks ago, I was both humbled and honoured to received the Winsor & Newton Choice Award for Fine Art by the Society of Women Artists.

When I finally grow up I would like to be a really good professional artist. I think I am getting there. Our life experiences are all part of the growing up process aren’t they?

Te Deum Laudamus.

 

With HRH Princess Michael of Kent at the Society of Women Artists annual exhibition.

 

 

Of Needles and Haystacks – Day 12

Written By: Anne - Nov• 14•12

Well the glass is both half full and half empty at the moment. Day 12 of #FindAnnesPaintings dawned and I was optimistic as usual although as the morning wore on I started to feel a little anxious again. Oville had said he would call me ‘in just a moment’ yesterday and then went quiet. So another assault on Twitter’s @citylink was called for. This time I had a new hashtag #WhereMyPaintingsAt?

 

I have every reason to be smiling this evening.

 Anyway the Lord has answered our prayer and managed to point these guys down the right track  because I received a phone call from a lovely guy called Tom from the Milton Keynes depot. He seemed friendly and polite and told me he had taken over my ‘case’. More platitudes? Well I have to give a guy the benefit of the doubt don’t I. I am not an unreasonable person.

Well,the good news is that they have found the paintings (yaaaaay) and  the not so good news is I won’t be getting them back just yet (booo hisss) but for now that is good enough for me. Let me explain; the driver who’s name I can reveal as Moment (yes yes as in Moment in time), had indeed delivered the paintings to the depot but because they were too large and too bulky to go on the conveyor belt, he carried them to the scanner to be er… scanned.

However that area is also Amazon’s returns depot. Can you see where this is going? Well some jobsworth came along, slapped a return to Amazon label on my beloved paintings and off they went on a jolly to Glenrothes, Scotland. I have to be thankful – it could have been Papua New Guinea so at least we are on the same island (just). The small problem is Amazon’s depot in Glenrothes is the size of a small city so even though they have found the right haystack, there is still the very small matter of finding the needle. Hopefully in the next few days we will know when I will be reunited with the paintings. So I am declaring a ceasefire for now.

Still I think they have done a good job. Pity I had to make a nuisance of myself to make them listen. Sorry folks, I am a nice person really but you probably don’t think so. We live in an age now where the consumer has power. Social Media can help us in many ways we thought impossible, we will not be fobbed off so my dear Citylink – don’t pull a stunt like that again and you will see your tills ringing with the £500m annual turnover you want to achieve. Just stay focussed on ‘getting it right first time…’

CityLink clearly have a lot of issues and they may be addressing them but as a customer we don’t feel it. However I have to say Tom and Oville – well done and thank you. You have made one artist and her customer a very happy pair.

That’s it for now folks. I will let you know when my parcels are returned to me. I need to make sure they are still intact and then I will send them off to the customer by a different courier company. Sorry CityLink but I can’t risk another saga like this besides all my friends will think I am a proper lemon for trusting you so quickly. I will be keeping an eye on your progress. You can do it – just stay focussed.

Thank you Father

Te Deum Laudamus

yaaaaaaaayyyyyyy – sorry just needed to add this last bit.

 

 

Hashtag Find Anne’s Paintings – day 11

Written By: Anne - Nov• 13•12

Today I wrote this letter to David Smith MD of CityLink and copied Robert Peto, Finance Director, Jane Desmond, Customer Care Director and Adele Henderson, Director of Operations. I am hoping they will help me find my paintings which went missing en route to my customer on 2nd November.

Mr David Smith, Managing Director, CityLink Ltd, CoventryAirpark, Siskin Parkway West, Baginton, Coventry, CV3 4PA

 12th November 2012

  Re: CityLink Customer Service Issues

 Dear Mr Smith,

 I am writing to you concerning an issue I have with some parcels that went missing through CityLink’s system almost as soon as they were collected on 2nd November 2012.

 The details on tracking number QAxxxxx show them being collected at 16:59 on 2nd November but then they appear never to have arrived at the collection depot inMilton Keynes.

 Firstly please understand, I appreciate things do go wrong but as we know it is the way issues are resolved that instils confidence in a customer and I have to say the help I have received to date has been shoddy to say the least.

 Today is day 11 since the goods went missing and in the first couple of days I was fobbed off with all sorts of excuses and told more than once ‘someone will get back to you…’ but of course no one did.

 Somebody did eventually get back to me but I am still left feeling that all I am getting is a load of lip service and trite platitudes and the longer my packages remain lost the more I feel they will never be found.

 

Goodbye News of the World (c) Anne Blankson-Hemans

 

 Mr Smith, I have seen and read with a small glimmer of hope, the press release that was put out on 6th September 2012 entitled ‘CityLink will put customers first’, that outlines your ‘right first time’ ethos. I applaud the sentiment and hope that your organisation will indeed do this with the utmost urgency because you only have to google ‘citylink complaints’ to see what I mean and I have to admit had I seen this before I arranged collection I would not have touched your company with a barge pole.

 I need to know that CityLink are doing everything they can to find my packages which contain 2 original paintings. I am an artist; not an established artist so the value of the goods is not high even though my customer was happy enough to pay £xxxx for the pair. I am not seeking compensation but just want to make sure that the goods are found. If they arrived at your depot then they are in the system. They cannot have disappeared into thin air.

 Mr Smith, I am addressing this to you and your team, Jane Desmond, Customer Care Director, Robert Peto, Finance Director and Adele Henderson, Director of Operations. I have researched your respective backgrounds and see you all have great credentials.

Yesterday's News (c) Anne Blankson-Hemans

 Please, if you want this ethos to filter through effectively please please please start with your customer care; I am afraid and very sorry to say this but it is shoddy. Perhaps one of you could go undercover or perhaps even listen in on some of the phone recordings?

 Secondly, your tracking system needs to be foolproof. A parcel cannot go missing as soon as it arrives at the depot. What is the process for cross-checking and tracking collections?

 The communication is terrible and infuriating. There is no point at all telling a customer someone will call them back when they know full well no one will.

 Last but not least please please please talk to your customers; there is no shortage of customers to speak with, as I said you only have to google ‘citylink complaints’.

 It would be fantastic to hear the organisation has turned itself around completely. I know you said you would like to turn over £500m in 3 years. This is possible if you would pay attention to some of the points I have raised above. Customers are dissatisfied!!!

 So now my parcels must be found. As I mentioned I have no confidence that anything is being done probably on account of the fact that there are thousands of missing parcels in the system and it is probably easier to fill a claim form which is then disputed by your terms and conditions.

 Please just let me know what has been attempted? Have they reviewed CCTV on the day the packages arrived at the depot? How closely has the driver been questioned? He told CityLink customer service he brought the goods to the collection depot and put them on the conveyor belt but told me when I bumped into him on Day 8 of the packages going missing that they were too big for the belt so he carried them directly to the scanner after changing the labels (the order was booked via your broker Interparcel so he says he had to create new labels. The driver collected 2 packages but the tracking number shows only one was collected. I have cctv to prove this.

 Has anyone checked the driver’s manifest for 2nd November? The driver was a ‘subbie’ and as it was a Friday his van was less than half full. Have all the goods collected on his van that day arrived at their correct destination?

 This is not a difficult checklist and these are the questions I have been asking but have not received any satisfactory answers to date.

 I would like to help you reach and maintain your £500m target but I like many of your customers would love to be able to give you the right testimonial. At the moment all I can do is to use social media to run a campaign (#FindAnnesPaintings) and consider press releases to the media and letters to WatchDog. These last 2 considerations are borne purely out of frustration.

 Please help me. The items are only of unique and personal value to me and my customer and we would so love to have them back. There are 2 brown cardboard boxes approximately 140cm x 115cm x 10cm labelled with the customer’s name and address and my name and address as the sender in the top left hand corner. They were collected from my place of work – a fine art publishing company in Bletchley (which incidentally ships several hundred packages each week through another carrier and have never had an incident like this)

 I look forward to hearing positively from you and hope this letter will not end up on the top of the pile of other letters which will no doubt have reached you.

 Yours sincerely

  Anne Herbert

(Anne Blankson-Hemans – artist)

 www.anneblankson-hemans.com

anne@anneblankson-hemans.com

Cc

Jane Desmond – Customer Care Director

Robert Peto – Finance Director

Adele Henderson – Director of Operations

 

 

The Curse Of The Strong

Written By: Anne - Nov• 11•12

My mother could never understand why people would want to appear on TV to air their personal problems on shows like Oprah Winfrey, Vanessa, Tricia and Dr Phil. I would often reply by staring blankly at her as she asked this obviously rhetorical question for the umpteenth time because I knew she wasn’t really expecting an answer from me. I was puzzled though because she often chipped in with comments and answers directly at the unresponding telly which used to amuse me no end.

Dr Joy Lilian Blankson-Hemans aka Mummy

I on the other hand and for some inexplicable reason have had no such inhibitions and wear my heart boldly on my sleeve. I know this isn’t always a good thing as the old adage goes… ‘wear your heart on your sleeve and you will bleed to death…’ ha ha – I say ‘wear it inside and no one will know you are bleeding internally…’. My mother bore her cancer and quietly faced her death with the same stoic attitude. That is pretty brave. Me? I’ll probably yell the place down with ‘mi ri wu o’ (I am dying) until everyone tells me to ‘ye fun na wu -aba!’  – shut up and die quietly.

Well here I go again; these last few weeks I have been engulfed by a very  dark mist that has greatly affected my ability to function in pretty much the same way that a straight jacket restricts you. It is not a pleasant place to be and as the mist rises from the dark pit under my feet I hold on to the edge of the abyss completely white knuckled and doing my best not to succumb and fall  praying until the moment which can be several days long passes. (Just by the by what colour would the knuckles of black people be?  ha ha just clenched my fists to see if they change colour and the answer is inconclusive.)

I do function, I mean I get up and go to work (more about this later) and I speak with people and do my job adequately and I try to paint and strangely enough at the end of such an episode I produce some of my most creative paintings but goodness what a price to pay!

There is a name for this rising mist; it’s called depressive illness and some experts believe depression tests the strongest amongst us as in the main we do battle with pressures and stresses that most people would normally run away from until our bodies can take no more.

I think I understand my mother’s position on the subject; bless her she was a medical doctor and one would have expected her to know more but her expertise was in obstetrics and gynaecology so in a sense dealing with the bottom end of the human anatomy (sorry no pun intended) rather than the cerebral end. I do however think there is more to her attitude and something that further inhibits me. Stoics endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.

You see as Africans we have been brought to to be quiet on most issues that cause us mental trauma. ‘Fa ma Nyame‘ (Give it to God – literal translation), and keep it quietly to yourself and carry on with your life as best as you can and if you want to go the whole hog, turn down the corners of your mouth and look as miserable as you can but don’t talk about it in public. If you make the mistake of breaking down, God help you because ‘wo a bo dam‘, (you’ve gone mad) and the stigma never leaves you.  My further inhibition is my faith – in a sense my own fa ma Nyame so why should I speak about it as speaking about it shows a lack of faith?

Depressive illness is a physical illness and people can recover from it. When my business went bust and my mind with it, I was offered 12 weeks of cogntive behaviour therapy CBT which helped me to rationalise my situation. In addition anti anxiey (ok anti-depressive) pills helped me feel better. So when subsequent to that I lost my home I was able to take a more philosophical view. It is not to say I am no longer under pressure and going to Tesco these days is not always safe; a creditor can appear out of the blue as one did one evening at around 10pm and demand payment. (Yes that happened recently) but now I operate on this simple premiss – I can only do what I can do. An encounter with Northampton Borough Council this week brought me dangerously close to the edge again so I stumbled but thankfully I did not fall.

I am not a victim and creditors have a right to be pissed off but the Bible teaches forgiveness and debt wipeout, I long ago wrote off my own debtors debts and I am living peacefully with them however I am dealing with the fallout of some actions I took. When you dance with the crocodile, you must be prepared for when the music stops. But life is full of risks and when this music stopped I had been out tangoed by the crocodile.

No one should be blamed or feel guilt for succumbing to depressive illness though treatment is important. I do not look forward to the episodes and in my positive and optimistic way as I hang on with tight knuckles I look forward to the wonderful painting that surely follows.

Te Deum Laudamus

 

 

 

 

 

Crowd Pleaser…

Written By: Anne - Oct• 07•12

I risk sounding a little trite when I say I am amazed at how far technology has brought us over the last few decades but you have to forgive me, I am fifty-two years old and grew up in Ghana and yes we had a TV, a state of the art Phillips affair in an nice cabinet  complete with sliding door and everything and that is saying something! We only had one channel and TV started at 6pm and ended around 11pm with the Ghana National Anthem.

Berber Women in the Atlas Mountains (c) Anne Blankson-Hemans

 So lets fast forward a few decades, we have computers, and ipods and ipads and dongles and all sorts of things I would not have imagined in my wildest dreams. We have google and twitter and facebook and words like that that have made it into our dictionary and are a common part of our language.

Crowd sourcing or crowd funding is a relatively new term which has taken off in the last couple of years and combine that with social networking and we are in serious danger of doing some proper business without having to make a single old fashioned sales visit.

A few months ago I signed up with Sponsume (http://www.sponsume.com/). They have a great site that allows you to raise funds for your project by offering perks and rewards to backers. It’s amazing what you can do from the comfort of your own swivel chair. I duly recorded my video and uploaded it and then sent all the emails and messages out to my friends and family. You see you can’t really sit back and hope some stranger with give you their money on a whim and all I had in lieu of strangers were my friends and family. I am grateful they are still talking to me cos boy did I nag! The result? My joint exhibition ‘Sunshine & Music’ an exciting array of colour, vibrancy and energy is now upon us. Who would have thunk it eh?!

I am so excited the proverbial tail in Studio Anne  is wagging nineteen to the dozen and I cannot wait until Wednesday evening when the show opens with a private viewing to a host of invited guests, friends and family.

There is just one thing left for me to say. Thank you, thank you, thank you and in Fanti (my native language), mi da wo ase pii!! Nyame nhyira wo nyinaa!!  We could not have done it without every single penny of the contribution you all provided. And to God… the glory is all yours as always!

It is going to be great. I can’t wait!!

 

Te Deum Laudamus

Sunshine & Music is an exhibition of paintings by Anne Blankson-Hemans and Larry Otoo at the William Road Gallery, 7-9 William Road, London NW1 3ER. The show opens with a private view at 6.30pm on Wednesday 10th October and is open to the public from 11th – 16th October. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.

 

When Only Chocolate Will Do!

Written By: Anne - Sep• 25•12

My ego has taken a bit of a knock this past weekend! I’ve always boasted I don’t have much of an ego and so I am a little ashamed to say this but in the spirit of good and honest blogging I need to share this with you.

You see ever since I was selected for the Brighton Art Fair earlier this year I have been on a bit of a trip. I do like juried selections to art shows, competitions and exhibitions because it validates my abilities as an artist. I don’t always get selected when I apply  and that adds to the enigma but when I do get chosen, well all I can say is that it strokes my ‘non-existent’ ego no end.

At the Brighton Art Fair (c) Anne Blankson-Hemans

Anyway as I was saying, I was selected and I duly arrived and set up. The show for me was fantastic, loads and loads of people flowed through the doors over the four day period and loads and loads of interest but alas no sales!

I shouldn’t really be upset about the lack of sales,  you kinda learn to take the rough with the smooth but there is something that passes between you the artist and the beholder also known as the buyer which my friend Amy described in a previous blog as ‘some kind of magic’ and regardless of what anyone says that magic consists in the main of about 80% ego I think.

So after the euphoria of the weekend I crashed big time. I’ve been disconsolate bordering almost on depression. I say this honestly and only fleetingly because it is not a place in which I like to dwell. So with some ‘birthday’ money from Seiwa and seriously strict instructions to spend it only on myself, I went shopping and here is what I brought back; dark chocolate: sumptuous orange, dark chocolate with Wasabi; dark chocolate with chilli and from my beloved Ghana Divine dark chocolate with ginger and orange!!! My chocolate heaven included a movie courtesy of Virgin Media.

 

When only chocolate will do!

Now that my ego has been placated I have been able to focus on all the good things from this weekend’s show; the gallery owner who likes my snow paintings and wants me to join her gallery, the online gallery owner who wants me to join her site, the community art exhibition that is taking place in Brighton this weekend and the loads and loads and loads of email contacts I can add to my mailing list and I guess above all the comments I received; here are some of them…

‘great impact!’, splendid colours’, ‘great technique and use of colour’ , ‘beautiful creations’, ‘such gorgeous colours’, ‘colour, life, composition, you’ve got it all’, ‘beautiful and vibrant’,

and my personal favourite…

‘very bright and colourful art which made me feel happy!’

This morning my Bible word for today was – The Secret of Fulfilment – Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 – There is a time for everything, a time to weep and a time to laugh and I guess a time to sell paintings and a time to show them… so everyone feels happy!

 

Te Deum Laudamus

Oh yeah…Life Goes On

Written By: Anne - Sep• 17•12

I am adjusting to life in a smaller house and am rather amused by it all so I invite you to laugh with me as I laugh at myself.

In the great scheme of things, 15 years in a large house is not an awful lot of time but it is amazing how much you take it all for granted. The first challenge has been to fit the contents of a 5 bedroom house into a 3 bedroom dolls house and I mean dolls house. I have no room to swing the proverbial cat which is a blessing in disguise I guess.

'Before' - 5 bedrooms, large garden and swimming pool

Firstly I had perfected the art of cat swinging so I am sorry I cannot indulge in this sport anymore so I will have to learn a new skill – shoe-horning! All I can say is I am so glad we got rid of a whole lot of stuff before we moved because the little we brought is already filling up the space and I am becoming maniacally obsessed with de-cluttering around me.

I am pleased to say we are settling in just fine. A trip to IKEA resolved a big dilemma – where oh where in this tiny bathroom should I place the laundtry basket? My resolution was in the form of a small foldaway bag that fits neatly between the door and the bath. I am patting myself on the shoulder for my resourcefulness and creativity even as I type.

After, compact & bijou, a warm place and a roof over our heads ;-)

I have to tell you this though, one of my major anxieties was how to tell my few remaining customers I would not be able to work for them any longer. I have tossed and turned and burnt the midnignt candle at both ends, that is until a customer contacted me recently. His phone call was full of his usual energy and enthusiam, ‘I have 3 orders for you’ he announced brightly, and then his tone changed when I told him I would not be able to fulfill them and then explained with all the honesty I could muster the reason why. Well my man was not a happy bunny and unleased his annoyance and frustration with such bad grace I was completely taken aback. ‘Bloody ‘ell I thought. let’s get our lives a little in perspective…I am not a brain surgeon – no one is going to bleed to death here!’

I have to say, I would normally count to 10 before my next thought but I was incandescent with rage. ‘Thanks for your sympathy…’ I fired back in a text message to which came the reply… ‘Yes I feel sorry for you and all that but  life has to go on…this is my means of livelihood…’

I do admit , I smiled when I read his reply. Insensitive as it was, it helped me put the whole situation into some proper perspective. I mean what did I really expect? That he would don his sackcloth and sit with me amongst my ashes? He is moving on, why shouldn’t I?

So Life goes on and the thrill of living has began. I have been too busy to grieve for my ‘loss’ and I am not so sure that any grieving is required anyway. The is a whole new world ahead of me to explore and the thought of filling it with bright new paintings of God’s wonderful creation completely inspires me. The glory will always be his.

Te Deum Laudamus

PS Folks – I am humbled and overwhelmed by your response to my blog ‘Who is my sufficiency’. I had no idea so many people read my blogs. Do please leave a comment so I know you have been here.

The Colour of Monet

Written By: Anne - Sep• 16•12

Doing BBC2′s latest series of Show Me the Monet has probably been one of the highlights of my year so you will have to forgive me if I continue to milk it a little longer.  It really was both exciting and nerve racking at the same time but all in all it was a good experience and I cannot exhort emerging artists enough – get your stuff out there and do whatever you can to promote yourself. If you feel it’s up to someone else to promote you read this great book and get a bit of a reality check -  ‘I’d rather be in the Studio’ - by Alyson Stanfield and then go to Katherine Tyrell’s website ‘Making a Mark‘ for a list of carefully compiled exhibitions and competitions.

Anyway this isn’t a soap box exhortation, just a little testimonial from my own experience. If you saw the show, you will know my piece did not sell at the grand exhibition which was only slightly disappointing for me because that was just going to be the cherry on top of the oodles and oodles of soft creamy buttery icing on the cake.

Well a couple of weeks ago I got this email out of the blue from this woman who has been trying to track me down since she saw the show. She wanted to buy the painting!! Was I excited? Of course I was, I get excited about every single painting I sell so with an eagerly wagging tail, I emailed her back almost immediately. I don’t do modesty when it comes to people appreciating my art.

Well if I was keen, she was even more so seeing she had emailed me on a Saturday and was there any chance she could come and see it on Sunday? Normally this would have been ok but I had promised by mate Seiwa I would attend her church’s 3rd anniversary celebrations and wasn’t about to let her down. In any case the painting had been returned to my sister’s house where it had been hanging before I took it to the show so she would have to go there which of course suited her fine. Harpenden is closer to Berkhamsted where this lady lives as opposed to the trip to Northampton which I think would’nt have made any difference to her anyway.

So phones calls were made and things were arranged and my very nice lady turned up at my sister’s house, inspected the painting  and paid the agreed price! I received an email testimonial from her soon after that which is displayed proudly on my website but here it is again anyway…

We tracked down this picture after seeing it on the Show Us The Monet programme and are delighted to be its new owners. It was just as it was shown on Anne’s website and her willlingness to help us view it was excellent. We are looking forward to her forthcoming exhibition.

JG & JG

and there’s more…

We’re delighted with our picture, Harbour Market at Elmina II and are doubly thrilled that we saw in on the Show Us The Monet programme and are now the proud owners of it. Anne was incredibly helpful with the viewing and collecting of the picture. The whole transaction was trouble-free and pleasurable.

 So I finally landed my cherry!!

And that’s not all of it. Again I need you to recall my recent sponsorship drive through Sponsume’s website. Remember?… Well I have recently been in contact with another lady who pledged an amount towards the exhibition project. Following our email exchange I asked her how she came to sponsor me and did I perhaps know her? He reply made me smile…

 ‘…you don’t know me at all so don’t worry if you are racking your brain wondering who I am…’  Well thank God for that I thought. I looked you up after seeing Show Me The Monet or perhaps through the Making a Mark blog…’

 

I still consider myself as an emerging artist and I am thankful for so much not least the ability to do something I really love and to be able to apply my product marketing skills to my new chosen career.
Here’s is an edited piece of scripture from Sylvia an old friend and schoolmate 

“He who began a good work in you,( and gave you such a great gift) will complete it. (Philippians 1:6)
Let us continue to trust in God.

Te Deum Laudamus

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