Painting, drawing & TV: Off the Fence 20th Anniversary

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Happy new year! It has purely been mugs! mugs! mugs! around here lately, but I’m still drawing and painting as ever. To kick off 2015, I’ve got a super colourful painting to show you. This piece was commissioned by the team at Off  the Fence, a TV Production company which celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2014. As part of the anniversary celebrations, I created this A1 piece for the company’s founder, and it is now hanging in the company’s head office in Amsterdam.

Here are some close-ups:

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This painting is an assemblage of everything that Off the Fence is, as well as things that OTF’s founder, Ellen Windemuth, loves. After a meeting with the London team, we came up with a long list of things to include, from images of Ellen’s beloved children and pets, to OTF’s worldwide office locations…as well as a rather tongue-in-cheek quote from a colleague which you can see on the blue banner.  Off the Fence produces a huge range of non-fiction television, and I incorporated many of its flagship productions into the painting (look closely on the TV screens and you can see some popular titles!).

The bright colours I’ve used are not random: the branding of OTF productions is colour coded according to subject matter, and I thought it was fitting to use their characteristic colour palette in my painting. I hope it’s obvious that I had a lot of funw orking on it, because I did!

Congratulations to Off the Fence for their 20th Anniversary! It was fantastic to be a part of the celebrations.

Bhuna’s Beetles: A New Painting.

Hello! I’ve got a new painting to show you, and it features plenty of six-legged beasts!

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So far you’ve seen a lot of beetle photography from me, but it had never occurred to me to put my beetles onto canvas! Luckily, someone else (codenamed Bhuna, a long story in itself) had the idea, and asked me to paint something based on all the photos I’d been taking. We settled on something green, lush and leafy with plenty of details for the eye to explore…and I got cracking. Here are some of the work-in-progress shots I posted on Instagram:

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I had a lot of fun researching imagery for this painting! I often create Pinterest boards for my projects, but they’re usually set to private so that the project remains Top Secret. In this instance I created a public board called Bhuna’s Beetles, so that Bhuna (who is not a member of Pinterest) could keep track of the beetles I was inspired by. Funnily enough, the board got quite a few followers, all of whom must be all confused by the board’s title!

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My aim was to draw beetles that remained true(ish) to nature, and which were stylised as little as possible. However, I did use a generous dollop of artistic license, but as an artist that’s literally in my job description! I’m allowed to borrow patterns and shapes from different species to create insect hybrids not necessarily seen in nature!

I also gave the beetles human eyes with irises because, towards the end of the piece, something felt missing. I realised that the lack of irises on the insects’ faces made them expressionless. Obviously, beetles don’t have human eyes or human expressions, but the addition of little eyeballs gave the painting character and humour…which is what I’m always trying to create in my work.

Bhuna, I hope you enjoy looking at your leafy canopy of beetles! I really enjoyed painting it.

Hold me closer tiny canvas (aka Little John)

For my birthday,  a friend of mine gave me a bunch of tiny canvasses. I got excited when I saw them, but I also had no idea what to do with them. However, I had a bit of an aha! moment this week. You see, whenever I do big paintings, I always end up with leftover paint which I hate to throw out. In the past, I’ve used the leftovers to paint my flowerpots…but I have now run out of flowerpots. And now? Well now, it’s tiny canvasses to the rescue:

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I love how silly the tiny canvas looks next to my massive portrait of my boyfriend. (Yes, that’s Andy Warhol’s Mao hiding my boyfriend’s face. My Dearest One started to get weirded out by seeing himself hanging on the wall all the time, so we’ve covered him up for the time being.) After I finished drawing on my tiny canvas, It struck me that the man I’d drawn looked kinda like my brother. I’m therefore going to call this one ‘Little John‘.

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The best thing about tiny canvasses is that they’re unintimidating. There isn’t a massive blank space staring at you, daring you to mess it up. It was so easy to slather the hand-sized canvas in paint, and and to pick up my black marker and doodle a face on top. So easy. Sometimes, it’s nice to draw easy things.

p.s. if you’re wondering what this post title is all about, listen here.

A portrait of Gayle

Hello! My friend Gayle visited me this week, and I painted her portrait while we drank about 50 cups of tea in the space of an hour. I haven’t had a good portrait painting session in a very long time. As much as I love my black pens and Photoshop, it’s nice to ditch them every once in a while.

Now, I have a history of making beautiful people look grotesque when I bust out the paints, but I’m quite pleased with this one.  I think it’s a decent likeness for a quick sketch (if you ignore the wonky eye, that is).

Gayle is an excellent model because she sits still, has nice cheekbones, and brings cake. I would happily paint her again (if she lets me).

p.s. Irrelevant side note: I’m on Pinterest! I’m new to it and it’s lonely, so please follow me!

Jungle of Colour: A Private Commission

Hello! I’ve just finished working on a very colourful and highly detailed piece. The brief was to create ‘a woodland landscape with animals/figures doing stuff.  And the landscape features trees … which don’t necessarily have to look realistic. I am thinking colourful and vibrant’. That was literally the brief, word for word, and it was right up my street. Here is what I came up with:

As you can see, I decided to create a lush, tropical forest canopy, filled with dozens of little characters. It’s hard to see the details here (the canvas is huge – 120 x 80cm) so I’ve zoomed in on some of my favourite bits:

I started off by painting stripes onto canvas, then layering on branches and leaves. When that was complete, I got to work on all the animals. I love adding all the details, down to tiny caterpillar eyebrows (above) and curly proboscises (below):

So, to summarise: Fluoro colours, gold ink, rhinestones, and stylised little beasties. It’s a Thefty piece, through and through!

I hope you like it, Miss C!

Paintings and home deco: Got stripes?

Right: Brace yourselves! There are a lot of stripes in this blog post!

This week I’ve been painting for myself, which has been really refreshing. I’d had a big canvas collecting dust under my bed for months, and I finally painted it and hung it up in my living room. Hooray! That dark little corner looks so much happier, and I feel pretty smug.

Below: A work in progress. (FYI, I managed to slather both my floor and the bum of my trousers in yellow paint this week. Oops.)

In our flat, we’ve created a fake ‘wall’ using a row of bookshelves. I got bored with the plain white backs of the shelves…so I put seafoam green stripes on them. Of course. (I think they work nicely with my red lamp and stripy trinket box. And yes, I also painted the trinket box.)

Funnily enough, the inspiration for these personal paintings came from a commission piece I’ve been working on, which features stripes in the background. I can’t wait to finish it and show it to you.

Private Commission: Joy In Small Places

Hello! This is a brand new piece, called ‘Joy In Small Places’. It was commissioned by someone who wanted something bright and happy for their new home. This was a hugely enjoyable piece to work on – it’s lovely when a client suggests something that triggers off a flood of ideas! In this case, my client wanted a piece inspired by Islamic art. No faces, no animals, just a sea of elaborate patterns.

This is the biggest commissioned piece I’ve ever worked on. It is loaded with sparkling rhinestones and luminous acrylic pearls, as well as lots of silver ink. I love the way it shimmers in dim light, and I like the way the stark black patterns keep it from being too ‘girly’.

I hope you like it, Miss T!

London Skies: A Private Commission

Hello! This piece was commissioned by an Aussie living in London. She’s here for a limited time only, and she wanted this painting to serve as a non-corny souvenir! Here’s the finished product (I wish metallics weren’t so hard to photograph!):

The words are lyrics from a Jamie Cullum song, and they say, ‘The sunlight always shines behind the clouds of London Skies‘. I was asked to include these words in the painting, and they inspired a lot of the imagery.

If you look closely, you’ll see the Queen having a G&T with her corgi, a squirrel tea party, the London Eye on a bad hair day, a pigeon, Kate and Wills, a lot of rain, and quite a lot more. I hope you like it Miss A!

Feasibility Study (commissions and contraptions)

Hello! I’ve just finished a brand new private commission! After chatting with my client, we settled on an eccentric contraption, featuring the word ‘feasible’ (he’s an engineer, which is fitting). Teal and gold were his colours of choice.

I had so much fun working on this. Dinosaurs, robots, speech bubbles, metallics, ridiculous details … all my favourite things on one canvas. Here are some close-ups:

I emailed these pictures to my client last night, and the reply was:

‘I’m so excited,and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it!’

Hooray! I hope you enjoy it Mister R! (To everyone else: don’t hesitate to email me if you’re considering commissioning something! theftyart@gmail.com)

GROK Projects: Music and art

Here’s a little bit about my latest project:

GROK are inviting artists to create a piece of visual work in any medium in response to any of the tracks from their forthcoming album. The artwork will be exhibited in an East London gallery on 8th-9th October 2011, along with listening posts to hear the songs and included in the album artwork and on a dedicated website.’

My painting  was created in response to the track ‘Box Bronson’, and has been selected for the exhibition. How exciting! Here’s the link to the track:

The track – especially the intro – made me think of shards of glass and layers of twinkling chandelier crystals. There’s something melancholy about the music (hence the face), but also something very dynamic and energetic (hence the vivid colours).

Exhibition details:

Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th October 2011, 12:00 midday – 11:00pm

The Rag Factory(16-18 Heneage Street, London, E1 5LJ)


Before and after


Hello! Last year I showed you a painting called ‘Self Portrait with Black Irises’ (see it here). Let’s call that the before picture. You see, every time I attempt to create a simple piece of art, I leave it for a while until I cave and let loose with the embellishment. On that note, here is the after:

See below for close-ups. (Note the giant eyelashes – I guess that’s what I’d look like if I were Lady Gaga.)

What can I say? I’m just a neon-and-rhinestones kind of girl. It’s not a crime.