Stretching Canvases in my Studio

Birth Of A Canvas

Birth Of A Canvas


My Tools

Once upon a time I made my canvases from scratch, mitering the wood then sanding to create my stretcher frames. Hammering copper tacks one by one I’d stretch my Cotton Duck or Irish Linen, but that was all before I got sick. I’m not well enough to do what I once did and using power tools is a bridge too far, so now I compromise and purchase manufactured wooden stretcher bars. I cannot compromise on stretching my own canvas it’s a task I can do seated on my studio floor.


Rabbit Skin Glue Size. I’ve always used Rabbit Skin Glue as the foundation to my canvases, I’ve always been a traditionalist at heart. I made a compromise many years ago in my youth when I was in back London and I’d go though periods of being a vegetarian or vegan but always my canvases remained carnivorous.

Hot Rabbit Skin Glue marries the canvas and absorbs it into every fibre like a thirst that has always been there. Like shrink to fit Levi 501’s the canvas shrinks to fit the the frame, when it is dry I am left with the sound of a drum and that is my foundation.

Stretching Canvases in my Studio



Stretching Canvases in my Studio
The Second Coat of Think Gesso


Gesso | Becoming Bright. In the past I have used Rabbit Skin Glue mixed with Titanium White to create my own Gesso, but times have changed and so did I and I began using Acrylic Gesso for the longevity it promises. In a traditionalist manner of old Gesso I prefer to dilute the Gesso not using it straight from the tub and work my surface up in thin layers.

This is all part of the process for me to become more intimate with the surface I will eventually create upon.


The Birth Of A Canvas. I have to be there at the birth of my canvases and nurse them through every stage, if I painted on pre-made canvases it would be like painting on a stranger.

Completed Canvas after stretching, sizing and priming.
Finished Canvases


Finished canvases in my studio ready for creations, these two I have been working on are for 'I Woke Up And Found Myself' Here and 'Emergence'.

I Woke Up And Found Myself Here

From One Of These Canvases A Painting Three Years In The Making From Inception to It's Finished Creation.

See her completed story
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The Sea It Calls To Me

Rusted Development

The Sea It Calls To Me

Sadness Hiding Between Coarse Particles Of Life


Beauty in decay

I was 31 when I lost my fifth child to miscarriage, it was the first child who had a viable chance of survival in my body, but one who wouldn’t survive the domestic abuse of my first husband, and ended washed away in the blood I gave. My previous child took away one quarter of one of my ovaries, the one before that left in five pints of blood, the two before in my memory have become dot dot dot dot dot. I earned my way into decay.


Watercolor. Iron filings encrusted to become rust and copper powder treated to turn to verdigris.


Detail of the three-dimensional form the watercolor takes on with the introduction of iron filings over time and treatment.

Madonna & Child

Watercolor. Watercolor. Iron filings weathered to become rust and copper powder to verdigris.

For too long my womanhood flowed out of my body in rivers of red and dried into deserts of brown; each loss was my erosion. I cleaned away each loss with water and remained strong to the external when the internal was eroding. Each loss was my corrosion. I was wrought iron weathering the divide between the unspoken to the spoken,  I drove my way into rust.

I come from an Island where in winter it is comforted by crashing waves of grey and skies of dark foreboding.  It was my lands landscapes that beckoned me within for comfort, by its cold fingertips of isolation. Walking beaches alone, as salted tears I would never shed poured down my cheeks easily, but these tears, were caused by the salted oceans spray. Pushing my body forward at what felt to me near forty-five degree angles, my body penetrated solid walls of wind, making headway in gales that blew. I walked beaches of coarse damp sand; never asking for mercy, because this cross, this predicament was mine alone to bare, so I walked alone into my own very youthful blindness.

All this was the beginnings of my decay.

In miscarriages the mirage of who I am – an iron vessel sunken, its history shipwrecked alone on a beach, in a state of continual corrosion. A ship is supposed to carry cargo safely from one shore to the next; in my vessel the strong iron of my very being lays oxidizing into the many colors of rust. Preservation brought iron to my artists palette and chemistry to turn it to rust.


Nature exhibits death can bring rebirth, only passing of time can show that that change. In almighty weakness my flight from domestic abuse took me from deserts of rusted reds to deserts of golden glows. From Decay (1996) added new metals to my palette; copper, gold fake and real and pigments of the earth.

Artists Pallet

Sea in Sea Room (1987) changed the flow of my palette forever, it introduced the corrosive powers of Salt. Salt then used in Preservation (1990) brought all the colors of decay as it corroded a vessel of iron. From Decay (1996) corrosive effects on other elements in nature my palette became extended. I found beauty and wisdom in the necessary cycle of decay.

SEA TO ME (1987)

An Absence Of Light

The Power of Chroma

An Absence Of Light


The Many Colors Of Black

There is no blackness in nature only an absence of light to see color. These paintings use the power of chroma to dim the artists palette and bring more depth and subtly her paintings.

Chromatic Black Reference Board

The use of black on an artists palette is generally constrained to the restrictions of either Ivory Black or Lamp Black. When artists do introduce the subtleties of chroma black to their work, the most common method mixing ‘Burnt Umber + Ultramarine Blue’ to achieve Black. I find this method locks me into a monochromatic painting going from warm grays to cool grays, I want color in my blacks and grays. I wanted to turn the color wheel full circle, so I could use the full spectrum of colors in my work. After research and development I scientifically dimmed the lights to each of the colors I use on my Artists Palette, the image shows the ‘Chroma-Black Reference Board’. I created the board as I was working on mixing and experimenting on each color combination, the board took me weeks to complete but has proven an invaluable cheatsheet I use often. And as you can see in my painting An Absence of Light there is no Absence of Color in black.

Blow Away (Blow A Way) Dreams

Daubs Of Words


Beauty in decay

I don’t know how or why it happened and to this day I still do not know where to put a full stop, comma and the use of a semicolon is living wild! And now we can all bathe in the forgiveness of spellcheck, I know I do. As early as I can remember Words became a medium I squeezed onto my artists palette alongside Oil Paint. I was born a Cockney and my early education in the poor part of town (East-End of London) hardly gave me a foundation for grammar, but against everything in my being Words kept spilling out of me and uniting with my artwork so I let it flow without controlling it.


The first use of Words as part of my artwork was in Family Album (1986) where a multimedia autobiographical installation united the needs of Words in my work. At the heart of the work of Family Album (1986) sat a multimedia bookwork Towards An Image Of Myself (1986) which used Words and Visual media to weave the story of my family as I grew up in the East-End of London.

View Book


As time went on it was hard to divorce Words from my work. Blow Away Dreams (1988) a bookwork of etchings printed on Japanese transparent silk tissue paper. The bookwork utilized two etching prints one etching an image, the other etching poetic Words, printed on transparent silk tissue paper, then the individual prints overlaid; became one page united in a handmade bookwork. Blow Away Dreams consists of 16 unique etchings when overlaid bring together 9 pages of a Visually-Poetic book.


I have used Words to express the Unspoken as in my installation work Preservation (1990) that held back the words of imperfection; the scarring on a body shell after the erosion caused from miscarriages.

SEIZED 2-Dimensional Drawings of a 3-Dimensional Brain

Two book-works analyzing in realtime, seizures on their approach. Each drawing visually charts an individual seizure with its unique activity as it builds its intensity in the brain before crashing Boom-Crash-Down and all is lost until the other side.

Seized Book One & Book Two

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I don’t know how Words got onto my artists palette all those years ago but they have remained there in daubs ever since.

The Artist