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artist's blog
January 2021

”The life of a mother, wife, friend, grandmother”


I promised to write about the making of ‘The life of a mother, wife, friend, grandmother” – an illustration commissioned by her daughter!

This goes back to the heady days of last summer, when a telephone call came out of the blue as I was sitting in a shady spot in the garden, sheltering from the heat of the sun……It seems a million miles away from today, as I sit with several layers of clothing on, looking out onto the same spot, which now wears a sprinkling of snow.

Well, far too exciting a project to refuse, and quite an undertaking in terms of time, my imagination began to spin immediately, as snippets of my friend’s life unfolded during the telephone conversation, and before I could even confirm that I would take it on, I could visualize a starting point.

I literally dropped everything that I had been planning and began sketching ideas. I have to do this before the bubble bursts – I work similarly when formulating a painting.

The promise of a list of other activities to be included in the illustration arrived a few days later – actually around twenty very visually tempting headings were on a list, including details of family members, hobbies, interests, etc., so I now had plenty of material to work on.

If you are familiar with my previous BLOG entries, you will know I am quite partial to Hahnemuhle 300g 100% cotton paper, so this was a no-brainer. I took an A1 sheet, stretched it onto a large board, and began in the centre working out.

Having agreed to work to an approximate size, I mapped out a pencil border, athough I was pretty sure I would break out of this constraint, but gave myself a good talking to.

I have a tendency to want to work large, but this would not have been aesthetically pleasing.

I very loosely mapped out the major focal point in pencil, allowing the other major points of interest to flow as if in a spiral, so that the eye can travel comfortably around the surface.

For this very active and energetic person, I wanted each element in the ‘story’ to be as important as the last. However, without realizing, it does have a beginning – that of her first car, a purple Mini, and she can be seen skiing at great speed off the foot of the page – obviously charging towards her next goal in a life full of exciting achievements.

I chose to draw with a permanent fine-liner pen, as well as a dip pen with black Indian ink, and used Artists’ pure watercolour and I broke my usual mode d’emploi and covered every square inch of the paper.

Usually I aim to leave a degree of empty quiet spaces in my paintings, but this was different.

Ultimately I didn’t want the painting to come to an end – I didn’t want to put it down. However, I know that too much fiddling can lead to getting bogged down, overworking, and ultimately loosing its freshness and gaiety. So I thought it best to walk away briskly whenever I felt this urge coming on, and finally I had to let it go – and it now has a new home.


Next time…………an insight into producing something completely different.

Also to come…………’A cover story’

And………..illustrating a poem


                                               Jackie Devereux

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