Settling into quite a routine now. The grids and lines have fallen by the wayside in the last few days, at least for now.  I was feeling that I couldn’t get into the word (enough) that is my starting point by working in a grid or with lines. It didn’t quite do.  With an expanse of canvas I am hoping I am more able to gently hone in on formal qualities emerging by having a word in mind.    On the 14th the word was allo- meaning other, different.  I brought out the contrasts in the previous painted form by making areas either white or black as a way to kick off.


Haven’t got much canvas left (what i have got will only last me two weeks, tops.  I would like to have stretched canvas’ ready to use, a few weeks worth at all times would be great.  I am mainly trying to set myself up so that while I am painting, all that I am thinking of is the painting, not where the next canvas is coming from.  I am also attempting not to overthink while I am painting, to follow my nose.  Paint is also running low and the budget is tight, have been doing temporary jobs while looking for part time role, they are like gold dust!


Today I am on 20/254 painting the word Aaronic  – pertaining to Aaron, the first Jewish high priest; Levitical…. Levitical – (have just taken a part of the definition on)- pertaining to ritual . I got the emulsion (primed it this time, though worked into it wet) going onto the canvas as soon as I’d picked the word out of the bag, looked up definition and straight it. It is a battle for me not to internally question every move I make on canvas, so I have to act once the word is in my head, but  before I start coming up with reasons not to do this or that.  Just do it – remembering I can at any point scrape the paint off and start again.


With this huge number of words to paint, I was initially considering ‘sharing’ it on social media.  I felt, before I started, that I needed the motivation that would give me, but now I’ve started I don’t actually need it. I have stubbornness by the bucketload, so don’t feel motivation is a problem. I am intending to show some of the works in my front window again (did this in the early summer months) as I have people staring into my front room anyway!  It feels low-key, low-fi and it’s free.  I was going to publicize all the ones which passed my ‘1 month put away test’ on Twitter, Instagram, facebook (would have set up a facebook artist page), but then started thinking about the time this would waste, and that I don’t want to self-promote, at least not in this way. [since initially writing this I have linked to this blog post and image – it felt relevant in the conversation on twitter – this is all getting a bit meta!] I feel that I don’t really get social media.  I reckon, for it to work, I would need to interact far more than I am prepared to (time). But, also, I am so interested in what other people are doing sometimes that I need to catch myself and stop life passing me by while I’m sucked into a screen.  I need to check I’m doing what I must so often while online.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  The internet ever-presence is a huge danger to my own practice, it feels incredibly freeing to know i will be offline for certain set periods, except on rare occasions.


The screen being a massive source of text and imagery, but its use is so limited, the 2D video experience is great, but just going to my local theatre at the weekend with my son and friends to see I believe in unicorns with Danyah Miller bringing the story to life – the set being piles of books and ladders, the books opened up to provide props.  The imagination that is tapped and reached with low-fi equipment (though, there were hand held projectors, great sound and lighting) in a way that is impossible with something on a screen.  More is left to the individual in the audience.  Of course I loved this with its story of Libricide and themes on a love of books.  I’m considering the transformation of the play in the minds of the audience.  How am I transforming the words in my painting of them?  Am I even transforming the word – no, I’m painting my response, it is not what I see when I think of the word, its initiated by the gestures I make when thinking of the word, the colours I choose, the textures I make and the forms I mould on the canvas.  But then, in  eyes of viewers of my work, what then might they see, knowing the word and seeing the painting?  Would they see any link between the title and painting, or none at all? And does this matter?


Initially the plan with 254 paintings was to paint one a day, every day, even if I only had 30 minutes to paint.  Now the plan is I have the morning/afternoon/all day then I paint (evening is still currently out due to no light in studio and wanting a clear boundary between my physical art making space and home.). If painting in morning ( I am trying to clear my diary to keep mornings free as its my best time) then I get out there at latest by 8.45 and paint until 1pm (on painting days the rule is no checking internet til 1pm. Husband commented today, why dont you leave it a while to warm up out there? As I can get out there I cannot delay, not quite sure how I’ll cope through the winter, I am hoping I can get a light soon so I am able to shut the shed and warm int with fan heater ( have got but can’t use much as in the day if I shut the door its quite murky in there!


Routines, routines!


Now on day 11 and some days the painting seems to do something right away, others not at all. These paintings which are not successful I continue working on when I feel the current days work is as far as it can go or drying.  In the first week I used oils a bit, but am not going to from now as space to dry these isn’t available.


Below are my self-set and evolving rules:


254 Paintings

•           How it started

Having the notion of Bathe in ignorance on my mind, I responded to it by wanting to test my own ignorance in a specific way.  Turning to the Oxford Shorter dictionary I decided I would see how many words I don’t know on a limited number of pages.  Being interested in growth patterns and maths, I chose the Fibonacci sequence of numbers to dictate the pages I then photocopied (the largest dictionary I could find in my area is in Abergavenny library) pages 1, 2, 3, 5,           ,8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89,  144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597 and 2584.  I then had 254 unknown words to work with, which I first responded by building a tent structure with some of the words pricked out with a pin, allowing the sunlight to stream through the holes and bathe myself with the light of the words I am ignorant of.

•           Intention at beginning was to do a painting a day, with a word drawn from a hat as the starting point.  I trialled this with Abjure and Lingonberry in July 2015.

Initially I wanted to simply respond to the word in paint – Lingonberry is written clearly on canvas and Abjure originally had its definition in pencil into the paint.

•           My evolving & current routine:


Be in shed by 845am at the latest.

Not allowed to be on the internet until 1pm.

1)         Pick canvas (currently painting over old ones and trying to source old canvas sails – it just feels right).  Am intending canvas’ to be ready stretched before I start.

2)         Pick a word out of the bag.

3)         Look up the meaning and write in concise form in journal.

4)         If the word has an even number of letters then I divide the canvas up into a grid with number of squares /rectangles equal to the number of letters in that word.

If the word has an odd number of letters then I’ll divide the canvas into bands equalling that number.

5)         Paint!

The grid structure has been appearing in my spontaneous painting recently and I have also deliberately used it as the starting point of paintings this year.

Lines / bands is something that appeals to me with its obvious link to text and writing.


Kit: Sketchbook, 2B pencil, rubber, sharpener, reference pictures for back up (but mostly want to be drawing plants / growth from life).

Sustained drawing of growth.  Growing foliage often appears in my work, I am not sure why and so I am going to pursue this by making studies and observation.  I intend to print these through a method where I can use the photo to print from & in black and white i.e. screen print, gravure.  Currently researching printing processes which could be suitable.

I will be adding some photos of my paintings here, on Instagram, my a-n blog, Facebook page and the real thing will be visible from my window in Abergavenny.  I am really interested in the possibilities of the single painting gallery.




I’m attaching images of some of the paintings – I have a list of things I need for this project and finding & funding a tripod is one of them, not to mention canvas and paint!