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Snow, snow, everywhere but here.

In the Brecon Beacons it has snowed. In Stroud, where my parents live, it has snowed. Here? Nope. We had about ten minutes of sleet yesterday morning and that’s it.  That’s what you get for living next to the sea, mild winters and damp summers.

winter beacons
Winter Beacons

The last time it snowed here was about 7 years ago. I’ve been a long time waiting.

I love watching snow falling out the sky. I like to stand outside and look up into the sky and watch the flakes tumbling one after another down to the ground. I love the muffled sound and the creaking sound under foot. But its not to be *sigh*. It’s just not the same with rain!

Winter Snow on Mumbles
Wintery Mumbles c. 2010
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Glynn Vivian Open Exhibition

Christmas Shows (2 of 2)

In October 2011 the gallery was closed temporarily for a £6 million refurbishment and recladding of the 1974 extension. It wasn’t opened again until 2017. That’s almost 6 years closed.

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The Glynn Vivian looked like this for over 5 years

Then this  summer it reopened.

So when the gallery announced that it was going to hold an Open Exhibition this December there was a lot of interest from Swansea-based artists. The opening event on Saturday was super packed. We had to queue to get in.

My two paintings were “Round the bend” and “Glamour Glamour”

Seamas, my husband (James Henry Johnston) also had a self portrait in the exhibition. I thought his painting looked really good!

There was lots of really interesting work there. I really enjoyed the fact that there was a lot of variety and the walls were packed with work. The standard was very high. I intend to return when it’s not so packed to have a another look.

“Round The Bend” Oil on Linen Canvas 55 x 46 cm unframed

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Christmas shows (1 of 2)

A few of my paintings with be showing at the #BrynmillCoffeeHouse over the festive period. The people at the Coffee House have weathered a bit of misfortune recently, their very large beautiful plate window at the front was broken by a thief who made off with two small charity boxes. They stayed open and cheerful throughout the disruption and a new window is in place. You will notice from the photos that I was able to return and  add a third painting in (hence the change of clothes).

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Glynn Vivian Open Exhibition

Delighted to say that these two paintings “Glanmor Glamour” and “Round the Bend” have both been selected to the part of the Swansea Open exhibition in December at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery! Very proud to have my work showing in such a great gallery.

Glamor Glamour
Glamor Glamour
Round the Bend
Round the Bend (Oil on Linen Canvas, 55 x 46 cm unframed) 

 

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Twilight

Dusk on Kemble Street
Dusk on Kemble Street 24x30cm

Twilight is one of those words that sounds like a contraction of two longer words – like fortnight used to be “fourteen nights” or Goodbye used to be “God be with you”. The word has Dutch and Germanic origins. It was first used in England in the 14th century and probably is a contraction of “Tween” and “Light”- meaning light between, or half light. In Welsh, “cyfnos” means dusk, twilight but  “gwyll” also refers to  dusk, gloom, twilight. There is a very good Welsh language crime drama (Welsh Noir as they call it) called “Y Gwyll” (Dusk). There is an English language version (same actors, and storries but dialogue in English) but they changed the title to “Hinterland“. I much prefer the Welsh language version (click on the link to watch a clip here with English subtitles). Dusk suits the brooding nature of the landscape and the story lines much better, I think.

Dusk is a strange part of the day. It does not last long. It happens in the morning as well as the evening but it’s twilight in the evening I particularly love, especially in winter. The sky rapidly slips from light blue to a wonderful mauve before becoming darkest blue of night. The strange soft mauve glowing light is caused by the sun even after it has dipped below the horizon, as the sun’s rays are reflected from the atmosphere. A few minutes pass and lights are switched on indoors against the fading light but curtains have not yet been universally against the cold winter night. Just like Dylan Thomas’s “starless and bible-black” night in Under Milk Wood.

Evening on Brynmill Ave
Evening on Brynmill Avenue 48 x 38 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lights! Action!

imagesWe are two artists in this household. My husband, James Henry Johnston (known to friends and family as “Seamas”) is a portrait artist. With the gloomy light of winter making photography difficult we decided to invest in some softbox lights to so to take better photographs of our paintings.

I spent a good 40 minutes tidying the downstairs gallery/studio and then unpacking and assembling the lights. I actually like trying to assemble things like furniture or new electronic equipment, as I am quite geeky in that way. I only looked at the instructions once, only to  then to decide they were utterly useless.

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E27 bulbs (not actual size)

The huge photographic lights have to handled with care as they can smash easily, as I found to my cost a few years ago. I was unwrapping my first E27 Lighting Lamp, ordered online, but I was laughing so hard at its unexpected size that I dropped the thing and it broke into powdery dust!

I had studied the helpful diagrams I’d found and added to my pinterest account. Whilst they made it plain that a 45% angle was necessary for the angle of the light, they were not so clear on how close to the painting they should be or high or low they should be positioned.  We took some photos of each other and then Seamas then spent several hours experiment with distance and angles.  So you can see from the photo below, my initial angles and heights were all wrong!

Seamas, concluded that every time you wanted to take a photo of a painting that you needed to several photographs at different heights and distances to see which one came out the best. I think that’s code for “I haven’t quite worked it out yet!”

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Good Drying Weather

My mother tells me many people don’t use clothes lines  or washing lines any more. They use tumble driers, instead. They must have big electricity bills. What better way to dry your washing that using good old fashioned solar power? In the early modern period people just laid their clothes out on bushes to dry. The word “clothesline” wasn’t used until the 1830s.  Presumably, increasing urbanisation meant that things like bushes or even rocks were no longer available to dry clothes on!

Good Drying Weather
Good Drying Weather

24x30cm oil on linen canvas

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Crowded Community

Wednesday morning with was bright and crisp. I decided to the cold blue sky and bright autumn sunlight was similar to the conditions in which the original series of the “Hollowed Community” paintings were created. I want to compare the empty almost desolate streets of August with the very crowded ones of early November.

The children are back at school and students have returned in even greater numbers than ever. The number have supposedly increased by 20% and there certainly seems to be more noise at night times and cars in the day time.

In 2015/2016 there were approximately 21,800 at Swansea University and Trinity St David’s Swansea Campus, including 18,340 full time students.  When many HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation) houses have up to 6 students living in them (some of the very big  HMOs on Bryn Road have 12 residents) and some streets have over 70% HMO housing, the streets get VERY crowded.  Students are supposedly discouraged from bringing their cars to Swansea but about 25% don’t live in the city and drive in from the surrounding areas. There are now two campuses for Swansea University, one on our doorstep in Singleton and the other new campus, the Bay Campus is five miles to the east of the city in in an area that used to be known as Crymlyn Burrows (Burrows means “Dunes”). So students live in Brynmill and Uplands for the social scene and drive to the Bay Campus.

Many of the long standing residents of Brynmill report that they have “never known the parking situation to be as bad as it is now”. Its not just the student but also lecturers and research staff looking for free parking on the residential streets. The University has only a limited number of parking spaces on campus that fill very quickly in the morning.  There is parking on “The Rec” on Oystermouth Road but that has recently put up its parking fees so you find students and staff will jammed their cars onto the corners of narrow streets rather than pay the fee. All this is compounded by the loss of paper parking permits so that residents do not know whose cars are entitled to park in residents bays.

My photographic project is called “Crowded Community” to contrast it with the summer paintings. I take my tour and find cars where I didn’t realise they would be, down the back lanes.

Parking on the pavement was a surprisingly common too.

Or on double yellow lines

On some roads I found it difficult to find a space to take a photograph from.

 

Its not total “carmageddon” as such, has in other places there are spaces in the residents parking zones or on the forbidden zones like double yellow lines and bus stops.

And finally, a shot with no cars just a woman with a pram – but it is double yellow lines along here.