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cropped image of 'Birthday Girl'
Ive got work coming out of my ears ! Really interesting commissions too. Art works that are no different to my own personal paintings, with nothing to tweak or put my stamp on as its already present. Michael McEvoy paintings in photographs to be transferred to canvas in oil paints. That's what its like. From different clients too. It looks like the photographers studied my style and form to take the stills and just gave me a challenge to convert black and white photos into colour ! Good news from Saatchi gallery with two paintings sold this week and just as interesting, two paintings arrived for conservation with the promise of more. I really like the opportunity to study in detail other artists work. It looks like I wont have any down time while I rest my own paintings between glazes or too wet to play periods. My new series of people taking self portraits with webcams, mobile phones etc will continue unaffected. In fact the paintings to follow the 'At Arms Length' series are well into draft and study stage.

 
 
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At Arms Length 03, title,' Like Me'
I think I will go back to my usual method of thinning the oil paint with 50/50 linseed and thinner as the painting I am working on now will take an age to dry. Luckily is not a commission, so nobody will be screaming down the telephone in panic that their wedding anniversary present will not be presented to their wife on time. I used neat linseed and when it eventually dries the luster will be second to none, something no varnish will ever be able to replicate. The lengthening day light and warmer weather will spur it on, should it ever come! As a rule I have a few paintings on the go at the same time but when working to dead lines with commissions that isn't feasible all of the time. Its nice to set a painting aside while an area dries if you are painting glazes and resume work on another. I have decided to extend a series I did some time ago called 'At Arms Length'. Portraits of people from photos that they take of themselves usually with mobile phones. Or even more interesting photos that I have taken of them while they photograph themselves. This new series will be called '# tag' as it will be snaps of people taken with webcams as they communicate via a keyboard on social networking sites. It should create interesting lighting effects reflected on their faces from the pc monitors or laptop screens. This is a sketch with the photo reference laid on top. Its sketched with a script or lining brush with a mauve casein paint that I concoct myself. 

 
 
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Ode To Christina Edkins
It is very tempting to want to 'hate' grief,
to see it as the enemy, the unwelcome guest.
Instead, try opening yourself to grief . . .
ask it what it has to teach you.
Ask it what it is training you to do, to be.
Ask this uninvited teacher into your life
and notice how things begin to shift.
Remember that grief never asks you to let go of love.
 

 
 
Today two gentlemen arrived at my studio to approve and collect a commissioned portrait. I have never been so nervous in my life at the prospects of dismay or disapproval of my artistic endeavours. My studio walls and floor edges are lined with paintings, in places stacked like slices of toast in a hotel kitchen, some of my best paintings and ones so dear to me that I just cannot offer for sale. Both pairs of visiting eyes homed onto a little 14 inch x 18 inch in the middle of all the colour and brush work, the painting that brought them from Birmingham. The eyes never left the little canvas "Mona Lisa",  "I'm weak at the knees", "look at her eyes,,, the skin tones" " it glows" ! I pray it has the same reaction to the final recipients and brings them joy in place of their sorrow. Should it please their eye as much as it was an honour for me to paint it, my task will be complete. Two new friends Andy and Lee left my studio with the little 14x18 inch portrait and I am convinced they noticed no other painting during the visit.   
"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars"
 
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
 
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I was rummaging through my disorganised cupboards and cabinets for an item I have yet to locate when I came across this graphite and colouring pencil drawing. I long since forgot I had it, assumming the portrait was presented to the sitter years back. Perhaps I did a few sketches and give her one of them. Now it sits among a disarray of study sketches and one time favourite brushes long past their usability date. I have another cupboard filled with frames and with luck I might just have one that will accommodate "Cafe Girl". She will stay at my studio and keep me company just as she did all that time ago as we both killed time during lunch breaks from work.

 
 
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I never fail to smile when I watch the birds bathing. Even in the coldest weather with the ice removed and the bird bath replenished our little feathered friends take delight in performing their ablutions. Ive watched the blackbird thrashing around and showering the Dunnocks on the ground below while they wait their turn to use the washing facilities. This little water colour painting was 'judged' too busy at a recent exhibition. Ive yet to witness birds having a relaxed, calm soak but I have witnessed the critic from an international artist and judge as a disappointing hogwash or wash out

 
 
It's rare for me to set down my brushes and say, "it's finished". Ive have often set my brushes down and thought, "I will set this aside and return to it with a fresh mind". It's usually when something in the composition is not to my liking or there is something not quite right or to my pleasing and I cant work out what it is.
 There are other times I should set the brushes down but cant, the journey has concluded, its all over, finished and I keep on painting, right through the National Anthem in total denial of the journeys end. This morning will be the first time in 11 days that I go to bed before the blackbird sings and I will sleep well with the knowledge 'that it's finished'
All that I wished for achieved, my promises accomplished. All I pray for now that the painting brings some joy, comfort and solace from the unimaginable sorrow that prevails in the household that it is destined for.
 
 
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Beautician is one of three paintings currently on display at The City Gallery in Nottingham just facing the Council House on Long Row. Wet on wet its a fun quirky painting in a style I return to from time to time. The two other art works on display are 'Looking Back' & 'Grandad's Parlour', funny enough they are in a similar style too. Another commission is occupying my time and thoughts at present & keeps me from adding to my gallery page. In fact the commission has taken over everything here at the studio and home. It was such an honour to be asked to paint it, yet the client says that THEY are the ones that feel honoured. Like all my paintings there is narrative, even 'Beautician' has a story but this is different, a tragedy so horrific that it would melt the coldest heart, it is sad, sorrowful and heart breaking beyond imagination. No need for research either as it recently unfolded on national television.  Its the first time in my life that I fear of failure in my art.

 
 
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Nine Strikes
'Nine Strikes' almost complete now with only drying and then varnishing to finish it off. I hoped to expose the cats tail but as the art work progressed the lower half of the canvas had enough distraction as it was. In a lot of my paintings I usually paint something in that almost merges with the background. a little sparrow or a prop that is of significance to the narrative. Concerned at not showing the cats tail I doubled up and painted the fur on the angels cuff sleeve to look like a tail. The fur was originally intended to be feathers so I altered that to appear as whatever the viewer wishes. Its all about illusion, just visual trickery,,, Look at the wings, then the cuffs you say "feathers", look at the cat first you will assume fur and does the picture portray a lady with a cat standing in front of a stone angel statue or is it really an angel ?

 
 
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Sometimes you strive as best you can & never actually achieve what you wish to portray or worse, if its a commission, ending up in a compromise with both parties not entirely comfortable with the results. The message & review below testifies to a successful outcome effectuated by a short sequence of e mails and half a dozen small sketches.
 Final consequence, a delighted client and an artist gains a friend.
 
Hi Michael,
 The painting arrived safely this morning, and I had a chance to open it and have a look at it privately this evening. All I can say is....WOW. You were right, it really is a totally different thing seeing it on a computer, to real life. When you can see the paper, the detail of the strokes, the shading and lines, it just looks stunning. On a computer is an image, but in your hand its an actual painting. I put it on the wall where I think it will go, and it looks terrific. Thanks again for a great piece of work, I'm sure we'll never tire of looking at it.
 Regards
 
Then this review
 
The work was a painting for my wife's birthday, based on a series of photos taken during our honeymoon. I've never had a piece of art made like this, so wasn't sure what to expect.
I found Michael very easy to work with. His emails were very detailed, and he produced the sketches very quickly. He was also able to take my feedback on board and make adjustments just right. All this helped to make it a smooth process.
The final result is perfect, I'm more than happy with it. And I feel its a nice combination of what I wanted, with his artistic take on it.
Would definitely recommend to anyone wanting a piece of art done for them.