Re-inventing the wheel.

I have been using burnt umber to create shadows, I’ve been mixing it with blues it just works for me. Personel colour choices, that I know I can control and get the right result.

Its almost orange if you use it thin on its own, but it makes great shaded tones. It makes a warm in the distance on a sunny day look if you mix it with blues. It is my most usefull colour. Raw umber has a green-ness to it, but burnt it turns almost orange and very transparent, even when you use it thick it is see through.

Then I read it was a key colour for Italian renaisance painters in creating a sense of depth, and gental transition from light to dark.

I felt like I had been the only one to work this out, but it turns out I’ve reinvented the wheel!

Perhaps all art is like this. Rembrant uses Raphaels figures in a composition, who in turn had used a classical statue. I am sure you can think of many examples.

This wont stop me using burnt umber though. Love it.


There is always something happening at this school even though it is shut for the holiday. There is a Sure Start building, football training, athletics, the school club itself open for a few days. Even on Sunday someone can to clear away the debris from the 60th birthday party on the Sat.night. They had hired the school hall. It has become a community centre with social services staff based there. These take photos of me, saying that will email them onto the woman who moved to Australia. She used to run the club and my children new her very well.

As for paintings murals though?

I made a pigs ear drawing up the short rainbow wall. I had rushed the preparation on the design and my scale drawing covered a wall 4.1m long, when it is actually only 3.1m long! This resulted in having to grid up the wall with oblongs not squares. I did 40x50cm not 50×50. This works fine as I have done it before. Then I drew seven rainbow colours on the front wall but managed to draw eight colours on the side wall? A trap that somehow I knew I would fall into how ever hard I tried to avoid it. Then I had to totally move the lettering as I realised no one would be able to read the word ‘Club’ down near the floor behind the fence, which is where it would have been if I followed my design. This meant that all the faffing about with the oblong grid was a total waste of time and I had to just do the letters with no reference in a totally different place. The other thing I did was abruptly end the A2990 on the corner, my design as I said was rushed and it did not go onto the adjoining wall at all! It turns out this is a major compositional omission and I spent some time tyring to get it running behind the rainbow and out the other side. It was also led to the eight coloured rainbow mishap.

Its all about colour balance and relationships. In the old days I would start with very thin washy paint and build up the strength of colours in layers. But I had a partner then and two experienced mural painters working fast this was not an issue. This is a job done for mates rates using a step ladder, and to save time I have unwizely gone for thicker paint in one go, to save repainting large areas twice or three times or more. This has proved really difficult as its all about balance and relationships. Those should be arrived at holistically. I am trying to predict them.

So today is a critical day as I will have to readjust some of those colour balance/relationships.

Lastly I want to say what a fantastic colour burnt umber is. It may unlock my issues today.


I thought I ought to tidy this blog up and explain what’s happened and what will be happening.

I have completed the Malawi project apart from an evaluation day in the summer.

The other school garden project (BSF)will continue till the summer and is still ongoing.

The mosaic for Arts for Health remains stored for installation. The costruction of the groundworks / sub-base still not made and I am told there will be news next week. My contract says installation Feb 2010 which was extended by me from Dec09. Makes that decision look abit silly now.

I have spent today priming a school out building white today. This is because I have agreed to do a building make over for the After Schol Club. This is the same After School Club that all my three children have attended during their primary school years. Very happily I must add. This after school club / before school club and during the school holidays club is an asset to the community here.

Their tired drab building is visably ageing whilst impressive new pre school and other brand new community service buildings have recently sourounded it. Their plee to me was can you knock spots off these new surrounding buildings and make ours the lariest on the manor, so you can see it from the road and put us back on the map. And can you do it using the club members ideas and drawings.

This was a request I could not refuse as the staff here are commited and I am sure it’s not only my children which have really enjoyed and benefited from this service.

I did two designs and one has been chosen, a fee agreed and I will try and do this over the remainder of the Easter Holidays. So help me God.


Unfortunately, on this occasion.

Dear Rob,

Thank you for your interest in our commission but:

I am sorry to write with disappointing news,

but we received a large volume of very high standard submissions,

Whilst we were impressed with your application, the response was overwhelming,

It was a difficult decision to make,

and the jury very much enjoyed considering your ideas

After reviewing a large number of impressive applications,

We considered your application with great interest

and although we felt that your work would be a good choice,

we had enormous interest from artists from England and abroad, so the selection process has been complex,

The panel very much enjoyed seeing your work and we have had the opportunity to consider all the candidates against the criteria we have specified for the project,

But after careful consideration,

We were looking for cohesiveness,

And there was something unique in all the selected submissions, and we would like to thank you again for your detailed and comprehensive submission as well as your patience during what has been an exhausting process of decision making and approval seeking, but unfortunately on this occasion your proposals have not been successful.

We would like to wish you well in all your future endeavours, and hope that you will apply for future commissions….blah blah.

I have accumulated a considerable collection of rejection letters over the years. I now have a world class selection of the highest quality letters. Once, I thought I would save them and display them in an exhibition called Unfortunately on this Occasion. I have gone off that idea now as the frames would cost me £1000’s of pounds, I would be unable to fit them in my car. Van hire would be required.

I did receive one which stood out from all the rest, an astonishing achievement considering the volume of competition. The standards were extremely high and there were many interesting candidates both from England and abroad. The letter I have chosen stood out by its closing line, as follows:

Please also accept my apologies for the delay in letting everyone know – I have been busy getting civilly partnered!
Best wishes

Well congratulations Abcdefg, I will award you my now annual prize for the best and happiest rejection letter received.

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