A Lucky Escape

On Wednesday afternoon I was happily putting the finishing touches to Kay Petryszak’s miniature portrait when I heard an almighty crash from the bathroom. Convinced that the ceiling had fallen in I dreaded opening in the door, fearful of what I’d see. In fact the whole shower edifice above my bath/jacussi had fallen off the ceiling. Had I been having a bath at the time I would have either been seriously injured or possibly killed.
What had happened (one of the problems with flats) was that over a period of months the power shower in the flat above me had sprung a small leak. This had accumulated and, without me being aware of it, had filled the big hollow shower fixture with water making it so heavy that it detached itself from the ceiling.
Now I face weeks of waiting for the room to completely dry out, (luckily I have two bathrooms) and my upstairs neighbour will have to have his entire shower unit removed and repaired. The plumber pointed to a very small series of holes where the wall tiles join the shower tray. Such a small thing to cause so much damage. But as they say ‘for the want of a nail the battle was lost’.

Part of the fallen structure

Spring is wonderful this year. I’ve just been driving past hundreds of daffodils lining the country roads, motorways and roundabouts. Quite the best display I’ve seen in years. On Sunday I went for a walk down to the River and Rowing Museum for a light lunch, and asked Peter at Hobbs boatyard to bring my little dinghy back from winter storage.

Launching 'Marsh Midget'

So yesterday afternoon I had my first row of the season. Being a wooden, clinker-built craft there was quite a lot of water under the duck boards (I’m not having much luck with water these days) but I took this to be a result of the timbers contracting during its time out of the water, and I guess as the wood swells the leak will be kept to a minimum.
On the way down the river my phone rang. It was a new client asking me to paint a miniature portrait for an retiring Grand Master of a London Livery Company. I think he was surprised when he realised where I was – especially as he had to ring back when I nearly capsized!

River view from my boat

About an hour into my row I stopped at ‘Tollgate’ – just below Henley Bridge where my friends John and Kate Hutchinson live, and was invited in for tea and hot cross buns. Judy Fraser was there as well (she’s a wonderful artist who paints on eggs) and we spent a pleasant hour in the conservatory enjoying the sunshine and watching the occasional eight pass by (they are practising for the Ladies Regatta this Sunday).
With daffodils and pink and white blossoms on the trees along the riverbanks and the first green haze on the weeping willows, the row back home was tranquillity itself. The bird life was dominated by the raucous squawking of Canada geese and little coots bobbing up and down in the water in their search for food. I had the river all to myself – nothing else was moving on the water. Wonderful.

This is my latest commissioned miniature portrait. It’s of Kay Petryszak – the President of The Miniature Artists of America, and a very good friend of mine. It’s always easier to paint someone you know well. Kay has seen the portrait via email and has given permission to include it in my blog.
I’m often asked how I go about painting a miniature portrait, and as I scanned this particular portrait from time to time as I painted it, you may be interested in the following:

Initial painting of clothes on the vellum surface

Completed clothes - I love turquoise

First painting of the face and hair

Background added to give tonal balance

Final Portrait of Kay Petryszak

If you click on to any of the portraits you should see them enlarged. You’ll also see the brush-strokes I expect. The original miniature is just over 3 inches high, by the way

Yesterday evening Paul and Debbie picked me up and we spent a happy evening at the Chef Peking in Henley. They are off on the drive up to Morecombe today where Paul will be performing tonight. That man does travel.

Final note: I’m in a minority of one it seems, as Mona – another good artist and Florida friend – has left comments on my blog and has joined the throng of females who eat popcorn in cinemas. OK - I’m outnumbered, I admit it. (But I still don’t like the smell of popcorn in my face – unless I’m eating it myself, of course!)