Sunday, 24 March 2019

So... the end of another week....

So... thank goodness it is Sunday the end, or the start, of a new week and what a week it has been. Freddy Bear went back outside on Wednesday, after escaping earlier in the week due to the cat flap batteries dying. After his recapture he became very miserable, looking out of the window with that forlorn look of a cat whose cream had soured so we decided that he could be 're-programmed' into the cat flap and let out. Here he is in the sunshine on top of my studio this morning, having climbed up the tree to get there. That dodgy dislocated hip/leg isn't holding him back too much at all. (Excuse all the old tyres on the roof it is because my studio roof is leaking and my daughter's boyfriend very kindly put a tarpauline on it over Christmas but as the wood is rotten he put the tyres on to stop it all blowing away...let's face it we had a fair few of those knocking around anyway!) There is currently a campaign underway to have a new studio and there is even talk of garage conversion... watch this space...

So our Bear is back out in the sunshine terrorizing the local wildlife. In three days, it was late Wednesday he went out as he is a night prowler by habit: we had had a mouse move in to the kitchen, he did reside under the cupboards for a couple of days until he was moved on... eaten... A dead shrew was found at the bottom of the stairs complete with large mouthfuls of vegetation and last night I spent half an hour chasing Miss 'Mudge and Freddy Bear around the downstairs trying to get them and the poor squeaking mouse in someone's jaws back outside only for them to bring it back in, dead, and eat it in the kitchen spreading the entrails a fair distance! All I can say is 'at least my cats share'.

In other news....

Iz is back on her paws and doing well. I am back in my bed, 3 nights and counting, the feeling of lying down on a nice mattress after spending 6 nights on the sofa just can not be beaten. We have managed to get Iz up the stairs, blocking it off at the top for safety reasons and in the morning we have perfected the 'controlled fall' as she slithers to the bottom with me in front guiding her movements... all except this morning because she thought she could do it quicker on her own and it turns out she can but my training of going down on ones stomach has proved worth its weight in gold and we are not calling out the vet for broken limbs.

My alcohol consumption has gone up, at first it was to numb the pain of sleeping on the sofa but now it is because this lot are driving me to drink!

Here is to next week and all she brings!

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Art Elements Birds of Prey Challenge Reveal.

This month the challenge from the Art Elements team was set by Cathy Spivey Mendola  and was Birds of Prey.  To read the post click HERE

All of the Art Element team members are seriously talented and Cathy is no exception.  Her needlework and mixed media pieces are some of my favourites ever.  

At first, for this challenge, I looked out of my window and watched the birds of prey we have landing in the paddock.  Unfortunately, other than I know they are birds of prey and possibly Red Kites or Kestrels that is where my knowledge ends.  It isn't very extensive!  I did look up a few of the birds, the ones native to the UK, to see if I could identify them but in all honesty I just got a bit more confused.  I wanted to do something that involved the birds I see daily.  I am really lucky to have this opportunity, in fact I have just been sat in the garden (unprecedented weather in February here in the UK) having a cup of tea and watching one of the birds circle round and round and dive down behind my hedge to its prey.... I did have one eye on Miss 'Mudge the only cat of the house out with me at the time! 

I spent most of this month thinking of birds of prey and not really doing a huge amount about it as I really wanted to use the birds I see but not being able to find out which species they were I eventually 'settled' on the humble owl.  A bird well known in all the world.  Again I am really lucky to lie in bed at night and listen to the owls around me hooting away.  It can get a bit creepy late at night if I am on my own.  Anyone who thinks living rural is quiet has never left the city.  It can get really loud here with the wildlife, but I am not complaining. 

Last summer I was gifted by Lesley of the team three little frames that you hang from a hook.  They are small and very pretty.  I decided that being in a drawer wasn't doing them justice so I chose one, the green one - I have another green one and a purple one that I wanted to 'get round to' but this month has been a bit busy with vet visits and life as my big bruiser ex feral cat has dislocated his hip... I digress...

I wanted to layer a painting in this frame which was not for the faint hearted as the frame itself is only 2.5 x 2 inches and the aperture/window is only 1 x 1.5 inches.  I managed 4 layers, the background, the rock, the owl and the grass in front.  The owl is articulated in that his wing moves on a split pin.  He is obviously in the frame so not easy to move but that was how I wanted him so I went with it.  I am terrible at over analysing why I do things and if it is relevant, my promise to myself this year was to just 'do it' and stop waffling on!

I make quite a few owls in glass, I rather like them and they all come out so differently.  Lord Winston is February's owl.  I think he looks rather austere and could possibly be the chair-owl of the parish council, he just looks that sort of fella!

...and doodling....  I am rarely still and doodle constantly, these little owls appeared one evening during such a doodle....

To see what the rest of the team and guests have done with this challenge please click on the links below.  I hope you enjoyed seeing what I have created this month.  


Team Members: 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Art Elements January Theme Challenge Reveal - Moon

This post is not very long because like everyone in January I think the month just got away from me.  I had plans, actual plans this month but....

Anyhow, this month Lindsay from the team hosted our monthly challenge and she chose Moon.  You can read that blog post HERE 

Like I said I had plans and even though I didn't do what I wanted I did do something small.

I did spend some time coming up with an idea that was more based in realism - I once 'did' realism as an art muse but I found my way to whimsy and have stayed here, happily...  - because of this I got cross with myself and made myself 'do' whimsy in my piece so this is a bit of a prototype.
In the end I opted for this shadow box and I have used layered paper as the medium - and actually rather enjoyed it.  I like the way you get more of a dimension to the painting and as I like painting small illustrative pieces this way I can combine the elements/images and create a larger piece with texture. 

Robert came about as I did spend quite a bit of time this month doodling away in both paper and glass, although not everything came to fruition.  I rather like that these challenges plant a seed in your head that you muse on all month.  Hopefully this year I will muse a little better and have a bit more time to create more.  January is never the easiest month to get motivated or find the time between winter flu virus' and wanting to curl up on the sofa because it is so dark and cold.  Thankfully today is the last day  of January and time for the reveal so I hope you can visit the blogs below to see what those that took part in this month's challenge did with the theme.

Art Elements Crew:

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Reveal for the Art Elements themed challenge of 'white'.

At the beginning of December Claire from the Art Elements team announced that the themed challenge would be 'white'.  To read that blog post click HERE

To me white is not a colour, maybe that is the 'colourist' or 'artist' in me but I have always understood white to be a 'non colour' like black because it isn't present on the spectrum and can only be mixed by the eye mixing light wavelengths - I do love the theory of colour but that is not the topic for this blog challenge.

wooden painted pebble, white acrylic ink

   I love colour.  Big, bold, vibrant colour.  I love contrasting colours or clashing colours.  I love black too because it is slimming! but white in our house and in my life is a no no....I have dogs and cats!  whether that alone makes me avoid white I don't know but because I rarely use it in my art I decided rather than use 'white' for creating I would not use colour.   

I concentrated my doodle sessions with just the white of the paper, but I couldn't avoid using black fine liner pens to define for me the white areas.  I did try using just a pencil but for me the contrast wasn't enough.  So really my challenge is more 'monochrome than white'. 

I started doodling 'dolls'.  I had this idea in my head that I could create a doll like figure in just white.  I did think I would use fabric for this but then decided I wanted to use paper.  Just white paper.  The 'doll' above was originally going to be cut out and have some other outfits to clothe her like the dolls from my childhood that you used to get in magazines - the more I read about paper dolls the more fascinated I have become with them and their history is as old as mankind itself, well maybe not mankind exactly but certainly since paper has been used by scribes.

This little chap and the mouse below were just doodles in my sketchbook.  I did enjoy creating 'just white' doodles although I will admit to be itching to colour them in!

Which brings me to my 'finished' piece.. well actually it isn't finished because I wanted to create more of a world for her but life and Christmas got in the way....

My little fairy mouse, Esme,  from an Art Elements previous challenge  
 has grown on me and I doodle her quite often.  I have got rather attached to Esme as a character, so I decided to create her as an articulated paper doll.  The photo above is the original sketch working out where the pins would go and then separating the 'pieces' to cut out.  Both papers are white and fascinate me that 'white' comes in many 'colours'.

I didn't have any white split pins so I decided to use beads and thread which works really well.  I did attempt to create a tiny articulated doll with beads as the movable parts... it was fiddly!!  

Below is a project I started and probably won't finish because it just didn't hold my attention.  The idea was that I would gather together all sorts of bits of 'white' materials.  So the base is a white felt over laid with white linen.   White ribbon was attached and I glued on a white glass cabochon I fused way back when and I wanted to include paper as a material so I cut out a doodle I had of a dogs head and stitched it on with white embroidery thread.  The idea was to surround the glass cab with white beads and embellishments but I became disillusioned with the lack of colour although all the white materials intrigued me with their different hues and tones.

Below is all the guests and Art Elements team members that have taken part in this challenge, I will be very curious to see what everyone has created.  
Guest Artists

Art Elements Team

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Art Elements Star Challenge Reveal

We come to the end of November and the reveal for the Art Elements Challenge of the month.  This month the challenge was set and hosted by me and I chose 'Star'.  I thought it was quite fitting for this time of year, the long nights and starry skies, which promise the following day will be bright but frosty, creating yet more sparkle as I walk through the fields when I walk my dogs.  (You can read the original blog post HERE).

The same fields I found this rather nice flat stone and painted it with acrylic and some lovely shimmery paints, I hope you can see the shine. 

For the best part of this month it has been an endless cycle of 'if it can go wrong it did' and 'when did we get this busy because I need a holiday'... hence the confusion when I was sending out the links to those that have taken part in the challenge this month - thank you all for putting up with my endless emails for corrections!  and for most of the month I did think that this stone was going to be my rather disappointing entry to the challenge BUT... in between the chaos that has been November in this house I have 'rescued' my daughters sewing machine and been teaching myself to use it.  Until this month I have struggled all my life to even sew a button on - I did write about my sewing adventure for Art Elements and you can read that  HERE.

As I say in the AE blog post, following patterns is not something I am good at - or following a recipe for that matter - so with my new found enthusiasm for all things needle and thread, I drew an outline of a doodle I did in a sketchbook some years ago of a MerCat... and yes they really do exist ;)  

In the box of scrap material left over from my daughter's Textile exam when she was at High School (6/7 years ago!) I found some heavy-ish linen material and using a combination of Inktense pencils and blocks and acrylic paint I transformed the plain fabric into my illustrative doodle.  I have to say that for any future projects (because they are already being done I have the sewing bug!) I will be sticking to Inktense as I am not so keen on the stiffness of the fabric once acrylic is applied.  I have ordered some wax to see if I can soften it but only another experiment will tell if I like it.....

I wanted to add so much more embellishments to my MerCat but time has unfortunately got away from me and I had to stop.

On her tail is a little silver charm of an anchor because I was thinking about all the boats that MerCat has seen, those sunk beneath the waves hiding their treasure for ever.... I am an avid watcher of the History Challenge and stories of the deep ;)  

Her crown is made with silver and gold coloured wire and I added a small sea horse charm.

My star is a star fish in beautiful gold raw silk, which I left the edges to fray.  I have this sample of raw silk material in the box that I have moved from house to house, county to county, one end of the country to another.  For someone that doesn't sew that box holds some treasures.  This piece of silk was given to me by my friend as the remnent from the trousers and cummerbund my son wore as her page boy at her (first!) wedding - my daughter was the little bridesmaid in a beautiful white silk dress.  It was a very glamorous wedding and my children were the only ones that were allowed to attend, they were about 4 and 6 at the time.  The whole time I was stitching this star fish I was thinking about that wedding, the dresses of the guests, many from the other side of the world, the guests that is, most were London Couture outfits and I had a friend at the time - who could sew a button on - help me make my wedding outfit as I couldn't afford a dress from Harrods!  .. my friend did do most of the sewing.. ok all the sewing I made the tea!  I remembered my daughter getting chocolate sauce down her dress, which to this day is still stained, and my son looking like a wooden soldier as he concentrated so hard to be the perfect page boy for my friend.  I remembered the room in the big posh country manor house hotel in Kent (where we lived once.. in Kent that is not the posh hotel!).  We had a four poster bed and the bathroom was fitted with an antique claw foot bath and Victorian fire place and tiles.. it was so grand.... 

But I digress....  

I really loved creating my Mercat, finding a new muse with the artist style doll.  I loved sitting and stitching on the sequins and the beads but most of all I loved thinking of the stories the bits of fabric held, even that ribbon was saved from a cake long ago.. not one I cooked I hasten to add!  

I hope you like my Mercat and you enjoy hopping around the challenge blogs to see what everyone else has made.

Guest Artists
Art Elements Team

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Art Elements October Theme Challenge Reveal - Petroglyphs.

This month's Art Element Theme Challenge was set by Karen from the team and it was Petroglyphs.  You can see the original post here  

I have to admit I didn't know the word or that it has any history to it but I have been drawing on rocks and just about everything for as far back as I can remember - and that includes walls, I used to do murals in my kids rooms and the bathroom.. the en suite... I might have done the downstairs looe in one house too... but I just love to draw, doodle, illustrate.

The oldest stone I have ever done that I still have, is from 2006 and I use it to stop my kitchen door from bashing into my fridge as the handle of the door just connects nicely with the corner of the fridge.  I remember painting it, one summer holiday day, the kids were off school and the sun was beating down, it was 'almost' too hot to be outside so I was sat at the table in the kitchen painting a big old stone we had unearthed from the garden.  

I love watercolour paint these days, after many years of hating them they are now my go to for any doodling I do but before watercolour paint my instrument of choice was the coloured pencil.  The stone below of the orange cat is Inktense pencils, activated with water to make it smooth and many many layers later.......

A coat of spray varnish and this cat sits on my hearth, the only one in the family to not put hairs on the furniture!   I have a few more on my hearth in the living room too but this one is my favourite.

When Karen announced this challenge I started looking around for stones to paint.  This time of year the farmers are harvesting and plowing the fields ready for winter plantings so lots of lovely stones come to the surface of the mud but filling your pockets on a dog walk with stones a) makes people look at you funny and b) makes you walk oddly.  I fancied sourcing some wooden pebbles that I had seen others paint on via Pinterest.  

I found some!!  I ordered 6 approx 2 inch ones, the shapes do vary and slightly bigger one of approx 3 x 2 inches.  They are lovely wooden pebbles and for a while after they arrived I didn't want to spoil them. 

I tried Inktense blocks as watercolour paint on the wooden pebble at first and I hated it so I washed it off - I was a little surprised that when the Inktense had dried it wasn't stable, it did leave a small stain but I just turned it over...  

Some of my problem in drawing on the wooden pebble was me.  This last month, blame the weather, things going on at home, life in general and my creative muse was just not forth coming and when that happens I revert back to being very picky about everything I do and whereas I favour a looser illustrative style I tend to work very photo realistic when I am stressed.  I used to work photo realistic in coloured pencil in the very beginning, that is how I learn't to use the pencils with the many many layers but now that annoys me, I like colour and fun and illustrative not formal.  Thankfully I picked up the pencils and as I had 'ruined' one side of this pebble I just set about having fun and my muse didn't disappoint me.  I rather like my little girl pebble. 

I do paint on just about anything - by paint I mean use pencils or watercolour or acrylic although the latter is not fluid enough for me even with the flow medium to make it so.  This little disk of wood is small, approx 1 inch round and I used Inktense blocks as watercolour paint.  I love strong vibrant colours.  I also LOVE outlines, just don't ever tell my art mentor from many years ago as he always steered me towards 'proper' art!  

Another wooden disk this time with acrylic, I find acrylic too gloopy for me and I struggle but I do love painting cats!  

Varnishing these things is a completely different subject!  You can't use a painted on varnish as it smudges the work - which is my favourite way of doing it - and on most I have used spray clear lacquer but I don't like it, the wooden pebble I experimented and sealed the surface first using a pencil fixative then when that was dry I used my acrylic matt varnish which you paint on, which worked brilliantly and I will be trying that again, hopefully it wasn't a one off!  

The others that took part in this theme are below....

Our Guest Artists:

Art Elements Team:
Jenny Davies-Reazor:
Cathy Spivey Mendola:
Marsha Neal Minutella:

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Art Elements Fairy Challenge reveal.

September's Art Element challenge was set by Caroline of Blueberribeads and she choose 'Fairies' as the theme.

I grew up with The Flower Fairies and the delightful drawings of Cicely M Barker.  I also love the work of Brian Froud and Alan Lee.  There are so many artists out there who specialize in art works of fae, Jasmine Beckett-Griffith, Amy Brown, Linda Ravenscroft as well as less modern artists, Edmund Dulac and of course the Cottingley Fairies by Elsie Wight and her cousin Frances Griffiths, these of course caught the imagination of none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who weaved a tale so believable that the public were divided as to whether or not fairies did exist.

Once the challenge was set I started to doodle and let my imagination loose, using stories from my childhood to guide me in my fairy quest.  Of all the fairies from the stories of my youth they were mainly in human form.  The Flower Fairies, Victoria Plum  and others.  But my muse doesn't really work with people.  My illustrative doodle above came about after a lovely walk with my dogs watching as Autumn takes over from Summer and the fruits of the hedgerows and orchards swell and colour the landscape.  I may have had a glass of something cold whilst doodling, even fairies like a tipple ..right? 

I researched a bit for animal fairies and was sadly disappointed in their lack.  They are there of course but writers of stories tend to humanize their fae.  I decided to change that!  I also discovered that the words 'fairy' and 'faerie' are a little different in interpretation.  

“Fairy” is a word that has been derived from Latin word “fatum,” which can mean “fate.” “Faerie” is a word that has been derived from Gaelic “fear shidhe,” which means “’man of the shee.”

Read more: Difference Between Fairy and Faerie | Difference Between
So I doodled a little more and soon a scene emerged in my sketchbook. 

I decided to have an animal fairy, after all fairy are small 'folk' and in my world (art) animals are dominant.  After doodling some more in my sketchbook, my little scene developed and then to make it 'real'.

I have been exploring (read that as looking and drooling at lots of very talented artists on the web!) paper diaormas.  I really want to experiment much more than I have been doing.  I found in my cupboard a green 'thing' that was given to me by a member of the team (Niky Sayers).  She found it last Christmas and liked it so brought a few of them and gave them to the members of the team who met up in London back in January.  Suddenly I saw this green 'thing' as a mound in my world.  A few little glass toadstools, some paper grass, a wooden plinth and some trees - which in hindsight I would have done differently - with some of my own hand made gold watercolour paint and some 'found' acorns on a beautiful Autumn day walk with my dogs completed my vision... oh and a sprinkling of fairy dust (glitter), completed the look.

I got rather attached to my little mouse and decided to create her in glass too, then she got a name and now my sketchbook is full of little mice hoola hooping, running, playing and having wings! 

Thanks to Caroline for setting the challenge.  I nearly gave up as I really wasn't feeling the 'human' fairy but I am glad I stuck with the muse because I think Esme might go on to be a staple character in my stories and illustrations.

Others who have joined in on this month's themed challenge are below, I hope you enjoy reading their magical journeys this month. 


Art Elements Team