Wednesday, December 06, 2023


I started painting a portrait of Richard Price on the 5th of November and it is now finished. He sat for me a couple of times then I took some photos so I could continue working. Painting and drawing from life is to me the most challenging and adventurous of creative experiences and when the subject is a real live human in front of me it also becomes quite frightening but in a thrilling way, like walking a tightrope without a net below. No matter how much I've learned about drawing or how instinctively I may respond to light and shape and character, the truth is that painting a portrait is floating and fishing in the vast unknown. Capturing a specific human being with paint. If you think I'm making a mystery out of an arty molehill, you're right. But I'm not speaking for other artists.

It was a real pleasure to paint Richard and I'm happy with the portrait. He is too but has not yet seen the fully finished work. Richard Price is the Head of Contemporary Collections at the British Library. He is also a fully functioning working poet - his most recent book, Late Gifts, has just been published by Carcanet. He is also a tutor at the Poetry School, London. And he sings.

By the way, the background on the left is a slice of bookshelves in my living room and on the right a slice of the large potted plant which was behind Richard's head. I hadn't planned this backdrop, it just happened and seemed right.

Natalie d'Arbeloff. Portrait of Richard Price, November 2023. Oil on canvas. 49cms X 40cms

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


This started out as what I thought would be a quick pencil sketch to take a break from a complex portrait I'm painting (will post photo of it when finished). I put the Granny Smith apple and ripe banana on a plain white surface and started drawing. But when they began showing off I was held captive and didn't get to bed until 6am. If you pay close attention to inanimate objects - or anything else - they take over.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


A portrait of myself at nine years old (but painted in 1981) is currently hanging in the exhibition celebrating 12 years of ExPurgamento, the original gallery-at-home which artist Natalia Zagorska Thomas created and keeps alive and kicking in Camden Town. She invited all the artists she has exhibited (including me) to submit one very small work as space is limited. She chose this one of mine. Nathalie at Nine. Oil on wood panel. 15 x 12 x1 cms. I had done an etching of the same face in my livre d'artiste Mozart, Matisse, Blanche et Moi (1990) This is not in the exhibition. ExPurgamento Exhibition runs until mid December. Opening times: 11-5 Sat-Sun All other times: call ExPurgamento to check or make an appointment. Tel. 07799 495549


Little things that make me happy. I'm in a local hardware shop buying some household item or other. A man walks in, sees me, comes over and embraces me enthusiastically, kisses me on both cheeks 'Ciao bella! Come stai?' he says. 'Bene, e tu? ' I reply while embracing him and kissing both his cheeks. Who is he? For a moment I'm not sure because he has a heavy winter coat on. But then I recognise him: he's the owner of a little Italian restaurant round the corner where I occasionally go with friends. I don't really know him but he always embraces me and I embrace him back. For some reason this sort of thing happens to me quite often. I'm warmly embraced by men I don't really know who happen to be café or shop managers and I respond in the same way. Why not? It makes me feel irresistible. Even if it's only because I'm small and old and smile at people.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023


I made the thing below a few weeks ago. It was born from a spontaneous meeting of unrelated scrap materials. My studio has quite a bit of stuff I keep in case I want to use it some time. There has to be mutual attraction between me and scraps I want to save from the rubbish bin, we have to click.

This one 'ASK ME SOMETHING' is small: Height: 18cm Width: 11cms Depth: 4cms
I posted a photo of it on Facebook where it was noticed by a blogger friend who then pointed it out to his mum: Lo and behold, to my great delight ASK ME SOMETHING is now hanging on a wall in Pat Thistlethwaite's home. She has named him Diego which suits him very well. Coincidentally and serendipitously (same thing) it was in Mexico, home of famous mural painter Diego Rivera, husband of famous painter Frida Kahlo, that I was a student of mural painting way back in 1956. But that's a long story. Here is my little construction. He is not Rivera but he is now a 'Diego'.

Saturday, September 02, 2023


This is an anti-climax. I was supposed to come back the brave wounded heroine but here I am same old un-wounded un-heroic me. Since y'all are so kind as to take an interest, herewith my report of what happened today. After a shorter wait than usual at the hospital's eye-clinic, all the scans and other eye tests were done again then I was told to wait, who knows how long, but a very very very long time went by. Finally a doctor called my name. Nice doctor with white hair and glasses like in old movies and old-fashioned reality. He looked at the new scans attentively and asked me some relevant technical questions. The result of the consultation was that there has been some improvement in the left eye's MacDeGen problem, not a cure but better than it was last time. Therefore it was not necessary or wise to do the injection-in-retina today. Hurrah and Bravo and Wow! Check-up in six weeks, meanwhile continue with the drops. I shook the Doctor's hand harder than necessary because of being so happy with this result. Then I went to a cafe around the corner from the hospital and, to celebrate, had the full English breakfast. It was nearly 5pm but I hadn't eaten since 6am. I'm home and back working on the graphic thing I need absolutely to finish this week.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


Talk about passing through the eye of a needle! How about a needle in the eye? The left eye in this case. Tomorrow morning a needle will be inserted in the retina of my left eye to inject medication which treats worsening macular degeneration. There's a wet and a dry type of Mac DeGen, wet is the bad type and that's what my left eye has, the treacherous twit! Apparently the NHS nurses who perform this procedure are highly trained so I will try to keep all my fingers, toes and brain crossed and calm, serene and trustful that the Cosmos and every benevolent angel in it will stop whatever they're doing and focus their loving attention on my left eye (the right one too, just in case) because I need my eyes. These eyes still have loads to do and the Cosmos needs them as much as I do. It would be great if y'all would send in my direction whatever waves of natural and supernatural benevolent power you happen to have on hand tomorrow.

Many thanks, grazie tanto, muchas gracias, merci beaucoup, muito obrigada!

Monday, August 07, 2023


This is what I did today which is the day before my 94th birthday tomorrow the 7th of August, obviously. Went to bed at 2am, more or less my usual bedtime. Slept soundly. Got up about 11am. Breakfast. Then up on stepladder, leaning out of bedroom window managed to clear the gutter of debris, including alien plant life, that was blocking the water flow and affecting the ground floor resident's flat. Asked her to come up and see my ingenious (genius) DIY. Did some more household-type activity. Then went upstairs to my studio to put away some things and prepare other things that need more work. By this time it was becoming evening-ish and there was food in the fridge that needed cooking. A small pack of diced chicken breasts that I put in an impro marinade yesterday: red wine, honey, garlic, spices, olive oil and left-over vegetable-cooking water. After quickly stir-frying the chicken with vegetables I put the whole thing in the oven, including the marinade,and let the dish cook for about an hour. It was beyond delicious, nectar of the gods! Now it's almost midnight which is and was my actual birth-time in Paris 94 years ago. But please ignore the age number, it's merely bureaucratic data. If you congratulate me let it be for who I am (whoeverthat is) and not the fact that I'm still alive here and now.

Sunday, July 23, 2023


I'm standing in the bathtub taking a shower,the hose pipe kind of shower. I look down and what do I see? A face. What do I do? Turn off the water, step out of the bath, find my camera, get back in the tub and shoot some pics. The first photo doesn't look quite like the face as I first saw it, there was less space between mouth and nose. So in the second picture I shorten that space. In the third picture I add some black in the eyes and around the head. VoilĂ ! Another apparition!

Saturday, July 22, 2023


Whenever I have artwork that must be finished within a definite time period, other ideas fly in like pigeons landing on a windowsill. If I ignore them they might fly away or just sit there gurgling. More often than not I postpone the urgent work and play with the pigeons. Here's the latest word-painting, just finished.


Acrylic, gouache and paper on canvas. 16 x 12 inches. Natalie d'Arbeloff, July 2023