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Helen Clark : Noisy Neighbours Disturb the Peace in Quiet Peak District Village

Blog Posted on 16 Jun 2011

I have an order to get finished by the end of this week and I’m miles behind. A lovely Australian lady used to be my neighbour, many years ago, before the Child came along and me and The Hubster lived in blissful harmony with our 2 cats in Chesterfield – the year was 1995 B.BD  (I did mean to write B.BD – not A.D - It means Before.Bog Dog)
This lady has now moved to Buxton and then to Ashbourne and now she’s arrived in Bakewell. Well she has commissioned me to paint a fox cub painting. Now I love foxes to bits – I know a lot of people don’t , but I do. I’ve been procrastinating all week, finding anything else to do other than paint this canvas. I don’t want to do it. She is paying me lots of lovely spondoolies and I SHOULD do it. I know I should do it ……… but I still don’t want to. I just can’t get in the mood. When I don’t want to paint something I’m in trouble. I can get away with blaming artist’s block for a little while longer but not much. I’ve promised I would get it done this week and I have to.
The problem is not the subject, it’s not the money, it’s not the lack of time. It’s the fact that I’ve painted the blooming thing before. I painted it years and years ago – she brought in the original to show me. I gave it to her before I was even a “proper artist” (Proper, as in Proper Professional) I remember she put it in a hideous frame and hung it over her fireplace and I was so proud at the time that someone wanted one of my little etchings – even thought the frame made it look like it had come off a flea market stall. It’s a tiny thing, not very good but she thought it was the bee’s knees.
She stalked into the shop and squealed when she saw me and greeted me like an old friend- my jaw dropped onto the floor and I cringed inside as she hugged me and suffocated me in Anais Anais -  she was beaming at me – the penny hadn’t dropped yet - I knew her from somewhere…… And then she produced the same flea market frame with my flaky foxes in it. My heart sank as the memory returned. She was babbling on about how she was so proud to own a Helen Clark original and haven’t I done well for myself and all my customers were staring and I was going redder and redder - all I could think was,
“Oh please cover it up- don’t tell anyone I painted it, please”
She thrust it out in front of her chest and did a twirl, so all and sundry had a good gawp. She announced that she was the proud owner of this painting that “this clever girl” has painted – I briefly basked at being called a “Girl” – conjuring images of someone young  - instead of “Lady” – conjuring up images of someone old - but it didn’t last long. I went beetroot red and wrestled it off her and managed to hide it behind the till and talk in a very quiet voice, hoping she would do the same.
But then she opened her mouth again and wrestled it back off me – running up to show an unsuspecting couple who’d come into to have a quiet browse at the paintings. I just wanted the floor to swallow me up – or better still swallow HER up.   I tried to bluster that it was a long time ago and I am a much better artist now than I was back then, but it was an impossible situation as she was standing there obviously so proud to own it. All the customers were staring and I just wanted to die.  It’s hideous awful – the colours are horrendous, the little foxes look stuffed – it’s just abysmal. I can’t believe someone has had that on their wall that long.
I managed to distract her and she came back to the counter - she not only wanted the little original re framing – not a problem and about time – but she wanted it recreated into a HUGE painting for her wall. I stammered I could do that, if she really wanted , did she? Right ok I can do that, if you’re sure? Wouldn’t she prefer if I painted something better? A little different? Anything but please don’t make me paint this gruesome awful pair of foxes again – please don’t make me?
I showed her a much nicer fox I painted last year.


Helen Clark - Fox

but she didn’t want it, so ho hum, back to the beginning of my story – I still haven’t done it.
It doesn’t help when the noisiest, dirtiest, loudest squalking neighbours have moved in next door to my Gallery. They chatter all day long, trailing poo everywhere which gets walked into the shop. They make such a racket and put me off painting......

Helen Clark - Ducks

Because I can’t help cooing over them and giving them seed and just generally getting lost in the cuteness of them!


Helen Clark - Ducks

Fooled you – how gorgeous are these little things? 
The only trouble is this goose had 14 babies and another one up the Mill Race has had 13! No doubt I really WILL be having trouble with noisy neighbours in the next few months but I’m sure you’ll be hearing all about it.
Right – Freddy Kruger Fox cubs here I come.............or I might just do that other job that I’ve been meaning to do.......


This blog was brought to you by Helen Clark.

Type Of Art: Painting
Location: The Caudwells Mill, Rowsley
Contact Number: 01629 732 638

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