I know I am not the first artist to find stimulating subject matter in surgical procedures but a recent operation to remove a melanoma from below my right eyebrow resulted in such interesting line and colour that I made a visual diary of day-by-day progress with a view to making a set of 6” enamelled panels.

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48 hours sketch, Coloured pencils & pen


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Riso screened image on white enamel. 6″ panel

There was an occasion eighteen months ago when, after falling on my face with vivid and dramatic results I made a set of small panels using as reference a watercolour portrait painted at the time by my husband Ron.h. Coloured pencils & pen Riso screened image on white enamel. 6″ panel

I was quite pleased to have another opportunity to return to the subject of facial malady, so equipped with a watercolour sketchbook and mirror and using a combination of gouache, watercolour pencil and fine pen once the bandage was off, I made at least one study each day until the most interesting colours and lines had faded and I had a total of sixteen studies.

Since the operation involved the grafting of skin from below the left eyebrow (and, yes, I was awake throughout) there were two images to record, each eye having its own row of mosquito-like black sutures running along cuts which I thought were rather well-designed and showed a degree of sensitivity on the part of my surgeon who had shown much interest in my side of the work.

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9th day sketch. Pen & gouache.


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Riso screened enamel on white. 6″ panel

I chose to work on six-inch panels of copper because they fit so conveniently into the flamefast gas kiln. I used two methods of applying enamel. For the most straight forward one I had riso screens made from the more detailed pen studies and screened dark enamel onto a white background. I may still experiment with different tone and colour ways later on.

The other method, one I frequently use, was done using hand-cut stencils, building up areas of colour and drawing into the unfired surface, creating firescale lines. SOJE 20 – Bishops’ Purple and some mid blues gave the colour needed, backed up by SOJE 159, a favourite white which I layer and fire quite high to allow the copper to gleam through. To add to my collection of work I made a couple of panels using as reference photographs supplied by a friend who had recorded her own eye-tuck surgery!

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Enamelled 6″ copper panel


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4th day sketch. Pen & gouache.

Now that I have moved on to other projects, and I reflect on the ‘faces’ series, I feel not entirely pleased with the outcome. There were difficulties in the enamelling process which were hard to resolve and the most satisfying part of the exercise was in the drawn and painted studies. For a while I found myself working quite obsessively on them. I rather hope now that this marks the end of any further invasive facial procedures!

Evangeline Long