Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pain in my lower back and right hip is worse than ever, I am worried that another hip replacement is not far away.
I am not ready to have this done yet, either emotionally or physically, hopefully if I rest, it will relieve the pain, and I can get through without having to think about surgery.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Unable to get into the studio for the big clean out this week as planned, due to arthritis in my right hand and lower back.
Getting old is NO fun.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This week I hope to get in to the studio, and clean up, ready to commence some new painting projects, I have so many ideas swirling around my head and filling my notebooks. I think the act of having a studio clear out and organise will help me to focus and prepare me mentally for the work ahead.
I also have many half finished maquettes for sculpture in progress, and am looking forward to resuming work on those as well.
I must admit I feel a certain 'emptiness' after finishing the EDELBERG pen project, I hope that I get a chance to do more for them in the future, it was very challenging but also very enjoyable and stimulating.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Inspirational photograph by my dear friend Mohamad Machnouk c) 2012

Machnouk c) 2012

Friday, March 02, 2012


DIARY NOTES: Hand painting Pens.

Wed. March 21
Day 22 :

I have examined the finished pens and I am happy with how they have turned out, in fact I am very happy. They look like paintings, artworks...not mere decorative pieces. I think they have integrity that I look to convey in all my artwork, and for this reason I have decided there is no more for me to do.
I have carefully packed them, ready for their journey to Switzerland and the awaiting eyes and judgement of Carlo and Samuel Naldi of EDELBERG PENS. This has been a wonderful experience, and I hope there is more to follow, but for now it is back to the easel and works on canvas and paper..on a much, much larger scale!


Tues. March 20
Day 21 :

I am impatient to see the pens as completed pieces, so I have done a computer generated rendering of how they will look fully assembled with the silver components in place.


Mon. March 19
Day 20 :

I have completed 4 coats of clear lacquer applied over 6 hours. I will leave for 24 hours before inspecting the pens again.
My initial reaction to the gloss coat is that, well to be honest, I am unsure if I like the "glossiness" of the finish. I think I prefer more of a soft 'sheen' than high gloss.
Maybe I would have been better applying a matt or satin finish to the pens?
I will have a better idea of how I feel when I look at them again in 24 hours.
I must keep in mind that these pens are "experiments" in technique and materials, so anything learned now is positive.


Sat. March 17
Day 18 :

I have decided to leave applying the final gloss lacquer coat until after the weekend, I am very worried about the oil paint not being 100% dry, and leaving the pens for the extra 48 hours will do more good than harm. The extra drying time should eliminate any problems.


Tues. March 13
Day 14 :

After leaving the pens drying for the past 48 hours, today I continued to burnish the surface of both pieces. The surface is now, smooth with an even sheen. I am going to leave them for another 48 hours now, and then give them the first coat of the clear gloss lacquer. This is the part of the process I am most concerned about because if anything goes wrong, there is no going back, the pens will be ruined and all my time and effort will have been for nothing. To say I am concerned, is most definitely an understatement!


Sat. March 10
Day 11 :

I couldn't resist working on the pens today. I laid down some gold leaf on one, then applied a layer of dark glaze (crimson, raw sienna and Italian pink) and rubbed back, to reveal the gold leaf and the flowers beneath...looks good, a really nice effect, the oil paint tinted the gold leaf making for great contrast. On the other pen, I laid a dark glaze with raw umber and paynes grey over the flowers I worked on yesterday. Again i pulled off some of the glaze to reveal nuances of the flowers underneath. I am really happy with the way the pens are looking. More importantly I am happy with this 'experiment' to explore the techniques that are most successful on this new medium and surface. I feel confident in any future projects such as this, if I am fortunate enough to be invited to continue my work with EDELBERG. I know the time is drawing near when i must stop the creative aspect of this project and apply the final clear lacquer which will seal the artwork on the surface of the pen. After much inquiry, I am sure that I have the correct formula for this final lacquer coat....but I will still worry right to the end, as that is just my way!
I am now going to give the pens 48 hours drying without being disturbed, and then I will burnish the surface again, to give it a sheen and all over smoothness for the lacquer application.


Fri. March 09
Day 10 :

I have worked on the flowers all morning, will leave to dry over the weekend. Hopefully Monday I will apply a dark glaze then wipe the glaze back in areas to reveal the detail hiding within. I have said before, I want these works to have the same intensity and painterly qualities that I aim for in my large gallery pieces. I do not want the pens to be 'decorated' I want them to be works of art in themselves. I hope that makes sense?


Thurs. March 08
Day 9:

My studio life is consumed with these pens! can such small objects take up so much headspace. I have a large canvas sitting on the easel waiting quietly for my attention.


Wed. March 07
Day 8:

I have been out into the studio to check on the drying of the glaze layer(s), and I am very happy with how the pens are looking. The overall look of the composition is good, as are the colours and the surface texture, all points that I had my concerns about.
I cannot begin to describe the anxiety of going from painting on a large flat surface of canvas or paper, to the small curved and glossy surface of the pen barrel and cap...just because success is reached in one medium does not mean it will transfer to the other. Painters of miniatures are expert at what they do, they have honed their skills, and produce exquisite works of meticulous detail. It was always my intention was to bring my style of painting on the large scale, to the stage of the small scale, and I am happy with what I have achieved thus far.


Tues. March 06
Day 7:

In the studio, continuing to add glazes to the pens, they are becoming more painterly as I progress...less like painted objects and more like small artworks, which I like, I just hope that my vision for how I would like the pens to look are in sync with EDELBERG and their expectations. Knowing Carlo and Samuel's love for art I am sure they will appreciate what I am doing. I am so fortunate to be given this opportunity to work with such a fine product and great people.

‎"Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason."

Mon. March 05
Day 6 cont. :

I have laid down the first layer of glazing and begun work on the flowers into the composition, very happy with progress so far. I am hoping that I can reproduce the 'feel' I get in my large canvases, onto this small scale work...I do not want to get buried under the weight of the minutia, I do not want the flowers to be intricate representations, I want them to be poetry and inference. I know that many collectors of hand painted pens marvel at the detail of the works sometimes produced they even inspect them through magnifying lens', but these will not be like that, these works will be for the enjoyment of the eye...the naked eye and of course the heart.


Mon. March 05
Day 6:

I have just checked in the studio, at progress on the dying of the pens, and all is looking good. A weekend of mild weather with low humidity, seems to have done the drying some good. Today I plan to lay down a glaze of colour onto one of the pieces and begin the underpainting of the flowers into the composition. I had the idea to 'burnish' the surface of the pens in between each drying phase, tempering the paint and give it a nice even patina/sheen, and eliminate or at the very least minimise any overly distracting brush stokes left in the painted surface.

This picture is of me 'burnishing' the surface of the pen: I have covered the pen with a layer of silicone paper to protect it, and with my finger I rub and apply gentle pressure onto the painted surface. I am hoping this will result in a 'tempered' sheen on the paint, giving it a beautiful smooth surface to apply future glazing on top of. - this is purely experimental. This burnishing was done over several hours, it was time consuming, but I think the time and effort was worth it.

tr.v. bur·nished, bur·nish·ing, bur·nish·es
1. To make smooth or glossy by or as if by rubbing; polish.
2. To rub with a tool that serves especially to smooth or polish.
A smooth glossy finish or appearance; lustre.
(Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) to make or become shiny or smooth by friction; polish


Sat. March 03
Day 4

I have made a promise to myself not to enter the studio over the weekend, for 2 reasons. To stop checking on the drying on the pens and also to give my hands and back a rest from work as my arthritis is very bad.

Fri. March 02
Day 3 cont.:

I am wishing I had another pen to work on while these 2 are drying.
Fri. March 02
Day 3:

Just checked in the studio on the pens, to see how they are drying, happy to say they look good. They have had about 30 something hours so far, but I think my estimation of 1 week for thorough drying is definitely needed, to avoid any technical difficulties. Unlike a canvas which has airflow from the front and through the back, the pens of course do not, so drying is only able to occur through the front painted surface. I have to be patient and not rush the process or it could all go wrong. Patience, is NOT one of my strong points!



Wed. Feb 29
Day 3:

After working until after midnight last night, the frustrations seems to have eased. I have decided the best approach and I have also decided on the subject matter for these 2 trial pens. I am interpreting my "Night Garden" theme with the hope that even on such a small scale the subject and the image will resonate with artistic integrity. I have laid down the underpainting for the 2 pens, and I am happy with the way they are looking so far. Now my big concern is the drying of this initial paint layer, as it needs to be 100% dry before starting the next layers of painting and glazing, this is where timing and technique is everything, because if the layers are not fully dried I run the risk of the paint not 'marrying' properly with the resin surface of the pen.. I think I will allow for 1 full week of drying before the next stage of painting, as the weather is very humid and as such will slow the drying time of the oil based paint. All in all i am feeling more confident today, which is a good thing. I know that waiting for the underpainting during this period is going to be very difficult, but I dare not rush into continued work for fear of ruining this work I have, the waiting game begins!


Tues. Feb 28
Day 2 cont.:

A better day in the studio, still getting my head around painting on such a small scale and on a curved surface. I am approaching it like any other painting of mine, I want it to have depth and not just be 'decoration', I want it to have artistic integrity, I just hope that translates into a beautiful image. No matter how much I want to satisfy my artistic vision, I cannot lose the fact that like a painting, it has to appeal to others, and being a small personal object, there is a certain intimacy involved. Who knows, one of these pens may write beautiful poetry, or pen a love letter that changes a person's life forever....that is such a lovely thought, that a piece of my art will become a part of someones everyday existence.


Tues. Feb 28
Day 2:

Hoping today is a better one in the studio, working on the hand painted pens. The weather is much cooler, with light rain which makes it more comfortable, also it makes the paint easier to handle on this strange polished surface of the resin. I am having to 'invent' techniques to achieve a painterly quality on the curved smooth surface, which is indeed a challenge. It would be easy to simply "paint" on the pens, to create an image that was attractive, but i want there to be depth and integrity, I want to be able to replicate the techniques of painting on a large canvas, I hope I can do it...anything less would feel like a failure.
Hopefully I can live up to the confidence shown in me by the wonderful Carlo and Samuel of EDELBERG PENS Switzerland.


Mon. Feb 27
Day 1:

4 of the most frustrating hours in the studio today. Began working on the 2 hand painted pen(s), a whole new approach, perspective and discipline is needed. To maintain an artistic vision and keep the integrity of that vision on such a small scale is challenging to say the least.