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.

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. 

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
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.