Tuesday, 18 September 2012

006 7/8” The Man with the Golden Paper

This year sees the 50th anniversary of master spy James Bond created by Ian Fleming. Surprisingly,  my path through life strikes some eerie parallels with these two characters.…

Mr Fleming didn’t start writing until his forties, starting Casino Royale at 43. This is almost the same age I started when Jane Stroud the then editor of the Leisure Painter magazine commissioned me to write an article on painting pastels with sanded surfaces.

During the war Ian worked for British Naval intelligence and was involved in ‘Operation Mincemeat’.. I was involved in something similar when I worked on Research and Development in the Petfood industry…

Ian bought a piece of land in Jamaica (then a British colony) with a private beach and reef and got a local contractor to build a simple house with a great view of the Caribbean Sea. He christened the house Goldeneye.

I bought a piece of land at Frisby on the Wreake(then a British colony) with a private riverbank and jetty and a great view of Frisby sailing club. I built myself a simple barn which I christened the Golden Paperstore.

Ian was a man of habits, after a morning swim, breakfast would be scrambled eggs, bacon and black coffee. I tend to avoid the morning swim as the river Wreake can be cold and muddy at the best of times. Breakfast is a mug of PG, stirred not shaken… and poached eggs from one of our fussier hens, Miss Hennypenny…. At 9:00am he would start writing in a shady room, with just a hint of a tropical breeze blowing through the jalousie windows.

After writing about 1000 words on his old imperial typewriter, he would sunbathe and swim before lunch. Afterwards he would sleep for an hour or two. At 5pm work would start by re-reading what had been previously written and make corrections, the day would end with cocktails on the veranda whilst watching a beautiful sunset.

At 9:00 my writing starts for the next Leisure painter article in my shady studio with the fresh odour of muck blowing through the window after being spread on the fields far too early (new EEC rules) and local dogs barking unremittingly for company. After writing about 1000 words on my temperamental computer and making sure I don’t lose the file into the ether, I have lunch, the only sunbathing option is to turn slowly rusty under the incessant rain.

After lunch I may sleep for two hours so as to be refreshed in case I need to do a demonstration that evening in an isolated village hall in some distant part of the country. Otherwise I will keep on working until about 6:00 at which point I can enjoy a can of Fosters whilst watching the wind and rain bluster

across the patio.

James Bond is also famous for his gadgets and is regularly approached by ‘Q’ whose intention is to make spying easier. On a similar note, I am approached by ‘I’ from time to time with all manner of fabulous painting gadgets to make art easier. My job is to try out and write about these for the delectation of LP readers. Some of the items would not look out of place in a James Bond film!!

I’m also fond of designing and building my own art gadgets and have in the past designed various products that have come to market and some that have not yet seen the light of day. I wish I’d thought of those steel teeth that Jaws wears, they would be ideal for removing stubborn paint lids!! My most well known creation is Fisher400 artpaper which is enjoyed by artists worldwide. With this in mind I have recently developed a new paper with all the qualities of Fisher400 but with a deeper more golden finish. I’ve called this new surface Fisher400 Gold. As the theme of gold runs through so many Ian Fleming novels I couldn’t resist by saying this surface could be For Your Paintings Only….

To try out Fisher400 Gold for the first time, please visit our website at www.thecsc.co.uk where it will become available shortly.


Ps.. my hat size is 6 7/8

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Revealed; the true story behind the Essex lion

It was with great surprise I heard the word ‘lion’ and ‘St Osyth’ mentioned in the same sentence at a wedding breakfast I attended recently in Stratford. My ears pricked up because it is a place where I tutor on a regular basis at the Watershed Studio.  It seems that a large cat had been spotted in a field on the outskirts of this sleepy little town. A brave farmer approached it but it ran away.. The Essex police reacted with their usual restraint, especially when one eye-witness reported that it appeared to be smoking an electronic cigarette and was heading in the general direction of the M6. Police sirens wailed and loudspeakers pleaded with the local residents to lock and bolt their doors. I assume the police had a suspicion that it had escaped from the local zoo as these lions would be the only ones with the necessary skills required to turn a door handle, necessitating the locking and bolting etc..
One description was a perma-tanned scrawny creature with a huge mane.. a quick call to Penny Lancaster quickly eliminated Rod from their enquiries.
For the residents I think this had been one of the most exciting episodes since a villager found a hole in the middle of St Cleres Road…
Strangely enough, there had been some mysterious disappearances in the village starting with the loss of Rev’d Flowerdew. This was swiftly followed by the demise of Bubby, the irritating little terrier that wrote a regular intensely boring diatribe in the parish magazine. Some say that this is a ploy to scare off the huge affordable housing development threatened by the owners of the Priory and rumour has it that one villager has been out at night walking a great Dane with a hearthrug tied around its neck…
What has happened to this mysterious creature now is anyone’s guess, some say it strayed into Jaywick and was devoured by a pride of ravenous drug addicts, others say it is hiding in a wardrobe in the Ecuadorian Embassy, Julian Assange says ‘its Narnia business’.
What I do know is that Allisons splendid farmhouse lunches at the Watershed studio probably won’t be supplemented with lion burgers and there are no plans to run art safaris in St Osyth.
To find out more about painting holidays with me in St Osyth at the Watershed studio, follow the link;  http://www.timfisherartist.co.uk/essex.html

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pah! Flamin’ June

As an artist, rather than a nine to five existence, my calendar year is marked with a series of events. As the Dowager Dutchess once famously said, “What’s a weekend?”. A highlight of this artistic calendar is to have a display stand at the Patchings Art Festival. This is like a four day holiday where we get to meet friends old and new, paint, and generally chew the fat. In recent times, what tends to follow this show is the monsoon season, which unhappily coincides with a series of outdoor painting courses… A few years back, I was asked to run a friend’s painting holiday in Northumberland. The Patchings Festival had been hot.. very hot.. the following week the skies turned black and it rained, and rained and rained… now Northumberland can be wet at the driest of times. As I drove up the A1 to Hexam, the Highways authority closed the road behind me due to a reservoir about to burst its banks. I reached my destination, a small hotel and waded through the carpark to reception. The room I was ushered into to do my teaching was as dark and depressing as one could want and was only marginally better than the cheap B&B I had booked myself into down the road. Each night I would lay in my bed listening to the rain lashing and the wind howling through the broken window, wondering which student would be the first to crack with cabin fever. Fortunately, there were some bright spells and we did get out most days where I ensured working sketches could be collected so that watercolours could be worked on in the dry albeit dark hotel dining room.

Last year saw the wind and rain arrived on the last day of the show, flooding through the marquee and running down the support posts, ruining one artist’s paintings and banging and clattering the artwork on the outer walls. Towards closing time the rain got more intense, just coinciding with the traders bringing their heavy vans up to the exit to dismantle their exhibits. Very quickly most went in up to their axles, we just managed to escape from the carpark without getting stuck. One unlucky artist had to abandon their vehicle which was consumed by the mud and declared by the insurance a write-off. The next week, I ran a painting holiday around Rutland Water. This time it was the gale force winds rather than the rain that caused the problems. The south carpark had to be abandoned as the wind blowing off the water made it impossible to even open the car doors to get out…

This year, Patchings made the unfortunate mistake of delaying the show by a week so as not to clash with the Queen’s Jubilee. The weather was unsettled right from the start the BBC started giving yellow rain warnings which sounded like something out of Cynthia Payne’s autobiography… Overly worried that they would do another Michael Fish faux pas, everything was over-egged with dire warnings of terror weather. In truth the weather was pretty good for most of the show but the BBC did seem to put a few off. Funnily enough, on one day the forecast said it was raining, yet outside the tent it was sunny! Two weeks after Patchings we have just seen one of the most horrendous storms over our village in living memory. Hailstones the size of grapefruits rained down causing untold damage to car roofs, guttering and greenhouses. This week I’m running another painting holiday in Suffolk….

Monday, 19 March 2012

Wund and Witherimg

This month I have mostly been involved with windmills”, as Jessie from the Fast Show would say. Worryingly, I’m also starting to look loike ‘im since becoming godparent to a fine pair of sows!
Windmills have been in the news quite a bit recently, both locally and nationally. The great debate has started here as scenic parts of Leicestershire become earmarked for these monsters. Now I’m all for conservation of resources, but these devices definitely fly in the face of common sense. A recent survey by the carbon trust demonstrated that they‘re delivering well below what was promised, and to cap it all, they’re spoiling my view!! This has been further reinforced by pictures in today's rag of acres of derilict and abandoned windmills in America and Hamaii that were the legacy of a drive for alternative energy after the oil crisis in the 1980's. massive federal state subsidies meant that investors could recoup 50% of their investment instantly. Along the way, rare bird migration routes have been interfered with killing thousands of them.
As an artist I can appreciate the aesthetic aerodynamic of these things, but as in painting, too much repetition can be boring. So acres of identical objects make it hard to find a focal point!
At least our ancestors had the creative genius to erect fewer mills that had enough capacity to feed several communities or drain entire dykes, the modern ones can barely boil a kettle! Perhaps the Martians were trying to tell us something when they knocked that turbine over in Lincolnshire…
The advantage of fewer mills is that they will happily form a focal point for a painting. I’ve lost count of the number of versions of Cley mill I’ve produced.
I’ve noticed that whenever I take a group in Norfolk, everyone wants to paint a windmill. However, once presented with the subject, the sails inevitably present a painting problem. Intrigued, I asked friends with no painting experience to draw a mill from memory. I was amazed at how similar all the drawings were, usually a front view with equally spaced sails, a door and two windows like an eyes and mouth..try it out yourself. As usual, it’s this pre knowledge that tends to interfere with what we see.

If you want to find out more about Jessie, just type in ‘Jessie’s diets’ on www.youtube.com.
Win free art materials! Visit Purdey’s dogblog on www.timfisherartist.co.uk

Monday, 21 November 2011

Calm down Dear, it's only the weather!

I recently watched a TV program where magician and pseudo mind reader Derren Bown predicted the lottery numbers correctly…perhaps he should get a job working for BBC weather! Despite investing quadrillions in sophisticated computer systems that can sense a butterfly’s wing flapping in Outer Mongolia and having much more attractive presenters, forecasting seems to be getting worse!
My concern for inclement weather usually begins just after Patchings, though it was a little earlier this year with visitors being issued with lifejackets on the last day.
It is at this time of the year, I run painting breaks which involve working out of doors, so I start to worry about the weather, which usually justifies my worries by turning very black over Bill’s mothers.
My first ever painting holiday in Snowdonia was greeted with continuous Welsh rain, that horrible wet stuff that just seems to fall vertically and lifelessly from the sky. After a few days trapped in the studio, my students were starting to get cabin fever. “Come on!” I said “I’ll do a wet into wet demonstration at Cragennon lakes.” So we all climbed into our gumboots, galoshes and oilskins (I can’t afford the Northface stuff that all outdoor TV weather presenters seem to wear) and set off in the dense misty rain which epitomises the Welsh countryside in summer. Having found the carpark which was no mean achievement, we stumbled through the fog (it had got worse!) to the water’s edge. “I’m going to paint that mountain with the boathouse at the foot of it” I said confidently pointing into the grey, murky swirling mist. The students screwed their eyes up and cupped their hands to their foreheads trying to see the scene that I claimed I could see and wondering if I had some sort of magical Derren Brown type x-ray vision.
As the rain lashed against the paper, the paint ran onto the floor faster than I could load the brush. Resorting to watercolour pencils, magically, the colour started to stick, “Gosh” I thought, “I could even paint with these underwater!”
I did a half decent painting and we returned to the studio where upon seeing the painting, the studio owners agreed that it was a pretty good likeness, which elicited a round of applause from my amazed audience. This just shows, it’s a good idea to reconnoitre the venue in good weather beforehand!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Calm down dear, its only wind....

For the en plein air artist there can be many hazards that can impede the production of a successful painting. Despite carrying out a detailed reconnoitre the day before I was due to tutor a group at a seaside location, I still managed to get caught out by not observing the next day held the highest spring tide of the season for me!  My demonstration spot now lay 8’ under as we were met at the entrance to the car park by spotty youths in canoes, anyone got a snorkel? These days, experience has taught me that tide tables must be checked as well as that other enemy of the outdoor artist.. wind!
An artist’s easel makes the perfect sail and I’ve seen many a one doing cartwheels over a meadow, leaving behind a trail of expensive pastels to slowly dissolve in the long grass.
There are ways to make things a little more stable and one way is a Tesco’s carrier bag filled with water suspended on a string below the tripod.
So here’s my Beaufort Scale for artists to help you determine whether to fill that plastic carrier bag..

CALM - You feel energised and see painting subjects everywhere..

LIGHT AIR - Froth blows off that welcome cup of coffee out of the Thermos.

LIGHT BREEZE – You turn up the collar of your bargain Millets windproof coat as you find it’s not as windproof as you thought…

GENTLE BREEZE – Your Jackson’s brushroll blows away over the cliff…

MODERATE BREEZE – The easel is trying to tip over, you look around frantically for the tripod holes made by the previous artist…

FRESH BREEZE – a cat blows past……

STRONG BREEZE - difficulty opening the car door to get your lunch

MODERATE GALE – an artist blows past….

FRESH GALE – Paint refuses to leave the brush

STRONG GALE – You venture into mixed media as grit, leaves and seagulls start to adhere themselves to your canvas

STORM – The easel and your work turns into a Tardis, makes a similar noise, dematerialises and reappears in the middle of the next incoming wave…

HURRICANE – You suddenly find your viewpoint has inexplicably changed to 40’ higher!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Lord Rothermere has gone too far this time!!

Having your work appreciated by others to the extent that it gets copied or even stolen I think is the secret wish of many an artist. I can remember the mild disappointment of being burgled for my chattels but having my paintings ignored! A fellow artist (who’s work sells for much more than mine) has had instances of his superb paintings being left behind and the frames stolen! The same goes for copying, I’m secretly quite pleased when I visit an art exhibition and see work that bears a resemblance to things I’ve produced.
However, finally, I think I’ve hit the big time! Arriving home after running a mixed media workshop a while back, I picked up the Daily Mail and on the front page is a copy of my Leisure Painter Patchings advert! This advert depicted myself , Bill Cockburn and Tony Slater as the three wise monkeys. The idea being that any visitor to Patchings who could identify us got a free art  prize. Oviously, the Mail had cleverly changed our faces for Harriet Harmen's, Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's, but even so, I felt that this was taking plagiarism and liberties too far! I had intended to give away free art materials at Patchings to anyone who can identify the three artists in my ad. Now people are going to think I’m called Gordon Fisher!! Goodness knows what they’re going to call Tony! Should I sue?