4 Oct 2015

Wonders will never cease

The artist has been painting! Not once but twice, both commissions – a card for a good friend of mine who has been celebrating a very long engagement and a portrait of a holiday cottage. Titus was very interested in the re-emergence of some painting equipment and was ever-so slightly nagged when he started to suggest this activity was far less important than a walk on the beach. Being so big (head and shoulders above the height of the table) he can reach for a sniff and a nudge of most things. A bearded snout, very handsome when dry but catastrophic when wet, can do serious damage to one’s artwork and “sniffing and nudging” what isn’t his, is what he does when wanting to be noticed. Needless to say, the walk had to wait while I was lost in a creative zone for a stolen few hours.

"Good job the lid is screwed on Titus"

A day to remember for one happy couple

A little wee croft house and not a sheep in sight

30 Aug 2015

Oh no #2

This was not the next blog post I was planning to write, but I found a 2011 sketchbook in that large pile that held some memories of all our departed fury friends; Ned, Pumpkin and Teasel.
Pumpkin’s sister Teasel liked the holiday season and befriended all of the visitors who stayed in the nextdoor holiday cottage. Last weekend she made her usual trip down the road to see the new arrivals. She hadn’t been too well since Pumpkin died and was a little skinny and wobbly, but still purring. That same day was effectively abducted by those new arrivals and taken to the local rescue centre who took her to the vet where she was put to sleep. We found out some hours later when they thought it best to tell us what they had done. Somewhat stunned and mortified we reclaimed her so that she could be buried next to her brother. It would seem that the holiday makers didn’t tell anyone where she had come from and nobody asked any questions, so we were unable to say goodbye.

Brother & sister snuggled up together
Ned and Henry

16 Aug 2015

A tall tale

Finding productive chunks of time for my artwork is still proving a challenge, but as the summer goes by Henry’s House is looking more like our soon-to-be home. Even the odd hour for an excursion with my pochade box is hard to find, so I’ve decided to grab the odd 5 to 10 minutes outside with my sketchbook. Now, do I need to buy a new sketchbook to get me in the mood, or do I have one lying about that will inspire me?  A little hunting and gathering exercise uncovered the answer to my question…………..

………The grand total of 50 sketchbooks, of various shapes and sizes. Some still new and precious, others (about 26 to be precise) a little dog-eared with a tale to tell.
Having created my sketch-book instillation, rather than picking up a pencil, I miraculously found an hour or so to look through those that I had already started. Lots of memories came flooding back – just like reading an old diary.

The oldest one I found, was the smallest – I remember buying it from WH Smith when I was still at school – the ET transfer on the front probably dates it to 1980-something and some of the faded pencil cartoons on the cover might suggest that I was about 11.

However, the first drawing inside was of Blythburgh,1987  - probably around the time my parents moved to Suffolk and I started college (I was no longer 11 in 87!). I expect I tore out the first few pages and started afresh. 

The following year I used it for another sketch – a peaceful day sitting in a boat on a loch in Scotland whilst my boyfriend fished for trout. Move forward another 10 years and the little sketch book makes a trip to Cornwall and I sketch my boyfriend (a different one!).

28 Jun 2015

My not-so-little helper

Just squeezed a blog into June after spending the day at my easel for once – sanity restored! It was meant to be a weekend at the easel but the sun made a rare reappearance yesterday so we went outside to enjoy it. I’m working on a secret commission so I can't show it to you just now, but I do have a few images of my little helper........

A different easel, a different painting, but the same corner and dog - 18 months on

Pastels selected on an analogous palette  (note the mug)
Titus: "if I get in the way, she won't forget that I haven't had my walk yet"

Titus: "Don't just step over me, take me walkies!"

25 May 2015

Art in the Forest - the end

Well, the series of 10 workshops have come to an end. This Sunday witnessed a long lay-in, followed by a major tidy-up of my make-shift studio which had become a dumping ground of materials and masterpieces from Art in the Forest. On our last day we revisited lino-printing and created some lettering for some posters which we are making to decorate the cabin. 

I’ve really enjoyed my series of workshops – they’ve provided good company and a shared spell of regular “me time”. I took part where ever  I could, but it was only really the oil painting that got my creative juices really flowing again……so my pochade is at the ready, kitted out with a new colour palette and I shall be out this afternoon for a daub in the bank holiday sunshine………………… (!)

...it's not really the end, we'll be back for more

The beast of the forest - seen assisting Henry to light the cabin log burner
 every Sunday morning
and sliding on the shiney cabin floor when everyone had gone home

3 May 2015

Art in the Forest 6,7 & 8

I’ve just finished a run of 3 consecutive workshops and enjoyed a little lie in this morning. The focus for these last few has been sketching with oils using a pochade box. The weather was mainly kind, although it saved it’s warmest sun for the days either side of our Sunday workshops. Last week we all showed willing, and slowly marched out in convoy to the forest track, with our creative paraphernalia, until someone said “I think it’s going to rain”, and then I heard “it is raining” followed by “no it’s not, it’s snowing!”. So we all turned round and briskly marched back to the warmth of the log cabin. But we still had some fun, mixing oil colours and learning how to “see” objects as shapes not “things”.

a little bit of sketching (in the sun)

a little demo from me (inside when it snowed)
another little demo - outside (when it was sunny)
enjoying the sunshine & the sound of the river
christening some brand new pochade boxes

Blue sky

mixing colours by the warmth of the log fire

and here are some of the fabulous results

25 Apr 2015

Oh no!

We live in the remotest spot, on the quietest road that  leads to nowhere. But the impossible happened. Poor Pumpkin was hit by a vehicle and died from his injuries. He and his sister were born on the day we got married, and were adopted by us just 4 weeks later. Two tiny balls of fur, black from the coal shed in which they were born and the most affectionate cats I’ve known. There will only be one puddy on our next Christmas card and we all miss him dearly.

Pumpkin 2000 - 2015
Henry & his loyal chum
Brother & sister
All three, Christmas 2014

12 Apr 2015

Art in the Forest #4 & #5

This is no good – I’m only averaging one blog a month this year, so here's an extra long one!  The last two Art in the Forest workshops have been about exploring colour – firstly with pastels and then with paint (gouache and acrylic). The preceding sessions have been about shape, line and pattern in various mediums but generally monochromatic, and mostly black & white. So these later sessions produced a riot of colour as we dabbled with messy pastels and the mysteries of the colour wheel. Many in the group hadn’t used pastel before, so we experimented with different types (hard and soft, bargain and professional) as well as different types of paper.

Another get to know one another with some speedy portraits was a great way to give everyone a chance to try out everything.

We then moved on to some serious sheep drawing and some fabulous results.

Janys loved her new medium so much, she went home, drew a lovely portrait of some horses and sold it on the spot!

But not everyone liked the mess and was definitely not converted to pastels.

The following week we entered more comfortable territory for some, water soluble paint. But we challenged ourselves to think about how we see and select pigment by using a colour wheel. 


Firstly painting with only the 3 primary colours, then 6 colours (primary and secondary) and then all 12 colours of the wheel (primary, secondary and tertiary). 

A riot of fabulous colour (out of shot - 7 tired students and a lot of washing up)