Inspiration comes in many guises and when we moved house a little over a month ago I realised I needed some from somewhere to break up the vast expanse of magnolia-painted wall in every room. Our new house is modern, just over 6 years old, and has unusually large rooms. If anything the magnolia makes them look even bigger. Now, I’m not a particularly arty person, I don’t really “get” most art and while I know what I like when I see it it’s such a rare event that a lot of the time I don’t even bother to look. On the odd occasion something does catch my eye it’s usually way out of my price range (to be fair anything over about 35p’s out of my price range at the moment) so I generally just photograph it for posterity and to see if there’s some way I could, er, emulate it. Given that I’m completely hopeless with a paintbrush “emulation” probably isn’t the way to go. I can draw, quite well even if I say so myself, but the problem with that is that I am painstakingly slow so anything I might attempt is likely to be abandoned long before I could utter the immortal words “can you tell what it is yet?”
Of course, I can’t expect the house to come together at the drop of a hat. Some purchases are more important than others, like new bookcases and a new sofa, and without a bottomless pit of funds I seriously need to consider what it is I want on my walls before I put anything up. Once the bookcases were up and filled, though, they kind of highlighted more than ever the huge space on the wall and this was compounded by the large screws where the previous tenants had a massive IKEA canvas hanging there.
I did consider getting a massive IKEA canvas myself but I didn’t really want a world map and nice though a London or New York scene is, I don’t have a particular affinity with either place. Plus they’re £100 a pop. So I was back to the idea of “nice pics wot I have seen” emulation. A dangerous idea, they could look lovely or, far more likely, I could royally bugger them up and display them anyway while having to pretend that Poppy did them instead of me. I looked into the cost of white stretched canvases and realised that The Works (on most high streets) do very cheap ones in a huge variety of sizes. And that’s when inspiration hit. Kind of. It was probably a bit more gradual than that.
Those of you that know me know that some years ago I had a brush with the law. Not just a brush, really, more of a large discount hardware store’s brush department. Sorry to bang on about it but if you haven’t read it you can learn about it here. Anyway, my inspiration came from my prison cell, and no, I don’t mean having a toilet in the same place where you eat. In my cell was a large framed bulletin board onto which we were allowed to stick whatever we wanted (within reason) and on mine I put the myriad photos my friends and family sent me of themselves, places they’d been etc. Unfortunately drawing pins were very hard to come by and blu-tak wasn’t allowed so I stuck them on with the cheap free toothpaste we used to get, apparently an old squaddie trick, effective for a short time until it dried out and made a dusty toothpastey mess on the floor. I have a large number of photo prints and thousands upon thousands of digital photographs so I thought I’d order a load more and see what they would look like stuck to a large plain canvas or two, this time stuck with double-sided tape rather than toothpaste. I bought two 50×40 inch canvases for £14.99 each, ordered 200 or so prints for about £15 and a couple of rolls of double sided tape. It took many hours for Number 1 son and I to finish it but we really think it was worth it and every time you look you see something different, including a couple of duplicates we didn’t spot at the time. We’re now thinking of photoshopping Wally into one of the photos to see if people can find him!