Friday, October 7, 2022

I still believe

Well, hello there!

I can't believe it's Friday already but here we are. I just made myself a cup of coffee (it's still a thrill to be back with my old friend). I have an inspirational song playing on repeat at full blast on my headphones and I am ready to sit down and let you know what the hell is going on. 

Check out Mx freaky up there with their oversized crown. After last week's larger canvas filled with multiple faces, I decided this week I wanted to continue to work on canvas rather than paper. Stretched canvas - this is significant (probably only to me). These faces are also significant and I have been pretending that they are not because I think I still don't know them too well and "this is not the work I usually produce." However, it is a series I have been working on since 2017 - in bits and pieces and fits and starts. So perhaps I know these faces better than I realise and perhaps you all know them better than you think as well. 

I am often perplexed by the reaction of folks to my "accidental portraits" (might be time to change the name of the series). However, in my own living room, I have more than 15 faces staring back at me (including animals and buddhas) in various mediums from own my art collection. We all like a face - even one we don't know and one we don't understand. What I understand about these faces, is that I have fun when I paint them. I like that they are often not any particular race or gender, and some of them might be considered disabled or hold a different standard of beauty with their smeared eyes and mouths. Some might be considered fully formed but wrapped up in emotion, trauma, power, or curiosity. It's not for me to figure out how they are understood or experienced. It is my job to show up so that they can show up.

As an abstract painter for what feels like forever I get a little surprised at the reaction to these beings that I have FUN painting. Yes, I do. Y'all are supposed to only like the hard shit- the stuff where I have toiled and suffered - the stuff I have sacrificed everything for. The stuff I am "good" at. Don't try to reason with me - I am trying to share the conversation as it stands in my head. I am working to see it differently now and I am getting there. You might like the more accessible stories in these faces - and I might like them too. There is nothing worse than speaking in a language that people can't understand or doing a song and dance that no one can hear or see  - and sometimes being an abstract painter in Scotland feels like that. So roll on faces... 

This portrait above (Woman of the storms) is very loosely inspired by one of my favourite paintings. Part of me doesn't want to show it to you as I don't want you to have an association, expectation, or judgment. However, I would rather share the beauty of the painting that I love with you than get caught up in any of that ego bullshit. So here you go, isn't she lovely? She reminds me of my mother for some reason. I think my mother must love this painting too. I think a print of this might have been collaged onto a piece of our furniture growing up. How could I have turned into anything other than an artist... 

Portrait of a Lady
Rogier van der Weyden 
oil, panel
34 x 25.5 cm

I enjoyed putting the pair of them together on the painting wall. I might have partially hidden behind the door of the sink room and looked at them through the gap in wonder. Tears may have come to my eyes. Happy Bob Ross tears. Another good week in the studio was brought to us by music, Oreos, coffee, and my stubborn dedication and curiosity. 

If you missed the Tuesday Studio Video Visit, you can see it here. The woman of the storms didn't exist yet so I speak of the crowned one.

In other news, the photo below
 is of my dear friend and fellow artist, John Simpkins (find him on Facebook at The art of John Simpkins). John creates sublime and wonderful works of art. Here he is pictured in front of one of his latest paintings at his studio in Oregon wearing one of my shirts! Take a minute to learn more about his fabulous work.

Buy yourself a "Polly" t-shirt like John or perhaps another design from my shop Thanks to everyone who has bought a t-shirt or a tote! Keep sending me your photos! 

And last but not least, in the excitement and sheer delight category - a painting of mine (see below, "On the wind") just SOLD from the fabulous Solo Gallery in Innerleithen in the gorgeous Scottish Borders! Kate, the gallerist, contacted me yesterday to share the good news! I am thrilled! I started showing my work at the Solo gallery the month before the pandemic so you can only imagine how that coloured the experience. I am so happy that this sweet abstract has found a good home with another fellow artist who also shows at Solo Gallery! Thanks again to Kate at the gallery and thanks to Eleanor for choosing my work for her collection! Check out Eleanor Cunningham's work and of course Solo Gallery.

On the wind
Mixed Media on Canvas, 20cm x 20cm framed,

That's all I have for you this week, thanks so much for your support and for reading my words and enjoying my art.

Special thanks go out to my Ko-fi crew for their financial support and emotional backing in the past 30 days. Thank you: Tamsin, Jennifer, Pat, Jen, John, Mas, Bekky. Join the club and support me here!

Also thanks to the artists and mentees who have trusted me with their art and process. Looking for a mentor? Sign up here!

Until next week, keep fighting and keep showing up!


  1. Totally fascinated to follow this evolution. I made the association immediately to a long ago Dutch painter which made me love your painting even more. I loved that reference, and its complete transformation and rebirth. For me both of these paintings are incredibly strong and interesting, though I can also understand all that you say about their appearance. But can you imagine, having fun making them, AND finding that they resonate in a totally new way with people who see them? Ha! We are not in control of this work in the world, or how it serves!

    1. Thank you, I am so glad you made the association! We are not in control! That is the take away - and to know that is to embrace new freedoms. Thank you for coming along with me.

  2. These paintings also inspire me personally to see how a drawn line can exist on canvas in a convincing way, with paint being used in flat areas, often thin, and kind of rough and edgy like this. As you know, I've never found a way to take what I'm doing onto canvas... you also make me want to use black!

    1. Oh, yes - get the black out! It is such a luxurious pleasure! I am living in that black!! "Don't use black or white when other colours can do it better..." Letting go of all the old ways (well at least some of them). Draw on that canvas! I can't wait to see it, Tamsin! Thanks for your comments. xx