Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

Here we are again, New Years Eve, already the fireworks are going off thanks to some idiots.  In a few hours 2014 will be consigned to the history books, not going to say: good riddance, it's not been a bad year in many respects, well not for me.   Not got my act together,  in more pain,  depression seems to be worse, but I am blessed with having a roof over my head,  food in my freezer/fridge,  a little money in the bank,  and I'm rich in friends.   Things could be better, but they could also be a lot worse.

As you can see I've been sketching again.  This is supposed to be a floating pyramid,  which I think is 'floating'!  Looks easy, but it is a little tricky,  the pyramid can be fiddly and I had a few issues with the shadow.

This is a droplet of water,  much shading went into this.  And guess what, yep I found the other blending stumps,  I'd stored them in my art bin with the paints,  yep very logical!  Wish I'd had a white pastel to make the highlights pop a bit more.  This took me ages,  I keep forgetting where the light source is, so have to remind myself constantly.   This is an exercise I'll come back to,  want to get it right.

And the 3D hole!  This has driven me nuts, got three versions of it so far. This is the best.  Got it completely wrong the first time,  it is all in the shading,  mess that up and the whole picture is rubbish.   I kept on being interrupted by Harvey who wanted to play, then he wanted to be fed, next he wanted to go out...   tried playing with him, he wasn't interested, put food down, he didn't like it,  let him out and he came straight back in!  CATS!!!!!!!!!     He can't go out now,  too many loud bangs around here.   He has finally decided to have a sleep. 

The midnight hour is approaching, albeit slowly.   So time to wish you all a Happy New Year,  and many thanks for visiting my blog. 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Only one day left

This was Harvey on Christmas day,  rather Bah Humbug!    You can just about see his nose,  he's peeking out in hope of getting one of his treats.   He loves playing with newspaper,   so the living room floor is covered with the stuff!   Oddly enough he doesn't like boxes, and I thought all cats loved boxes.   I got some new shoes the other week and put the box down, he just ignored it,  my old cat would have dived straight in.   So that is Harvey, the oddball.

A friend saw fit to challenge us to try an attempt to draw in 3D, so this is my first attempt.   I had to search for tutorials, found a few videos, but all were a bit fast!   Then I found one I could try, this one,  not sure if it works or not, it does from the right angle, but don't think I got it on the camera.   I knew it would be tricky, and it was, involving distorting perspective and the object, but I wanted to have a bash at it.   It is also good for other aspects of sketching.  I'm currently drawing bits of the face,  eyes, ears, mouth, noses....   in the hope that I can improve with practice.

Or should I just stick with the cartoons?  I enjoy all of it, and it is nice to switch between them.  I had a nice surprise today, a big box arrived,  inside were my skin tone pencils and my pencil storage bag - yippee!    I was getting a bit tired of all the tins, as nice as they are,  they do take up space.  So now the pencils are all in one place, along with rubbers,  bending stumps etc,  I can add more storage if I want.   Now just need the other things to arrive. 

I'm itching to take down the decs,  they're now getting on my nerves.  I want to put back my owls and buddhas, I've missed them.   I think they'll be coming down on New Years day,  then I can have a good tidy up.  Harvey is not liking the cold weather, it seems he doesn't like having cold feet!   He asks to go out, so I dutifully open the front door, and stupidly leave it open a little (so he can come back in),  and no sooner have I settled down on the sofa than he's back!   Last night he was Under his blanket!

Crummy sketch of Obama, eyes are too close together, face is too thin,  nose too big.  Oh well, back to the drawing board.  My other excuse is not having the skin tones, which do make a huge difference.   Today's efforts, a drop of water and crystal ball,  have yet to be photographed.  It was an exercise in shading,  which I enjoyed, it would be nice if I could locate my other blending stumps!    Must stop doing this, putting stuff away and believing I'll remember where I put it, cos I never do.  

Well it is all nearly over,  today it was quiet everywhere.  Went to tax the car,  was going to do it online, but didn't see why I had to set up a direct debit for a one off payment.  So I made use of the post office,  no doubt the bastards in charge would like to see the end of the post office, they seem to hate anything that is publicly owned.  The high street was very quiet,   I got a parking space very easily.  Even the supermarket wasn't too bad,   though considering the amount of food that was being bought last week they've probably got no need to shop until the end of January. 

Well best stop waffling...   hopefully I'll have more to upload tomorrow. 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

And that was Christmas 2014

So that was Christmas.   My planned walk had to be cancelled thanks to the weather,   it was cold, windy and wet!   Today is worse as it is now snowing.   Harvey has an upset stomach, not from eating too much but from stealing some raw chicken.   He was also the reason, well the main one, that I had to venture out today as he had no food, mind you I had no milk.   Supermarket was actually very quiet, they had the relief staff on,  so that the regulars could all have a rest.

I've been busy filling up my sketch pad.   Started with this character, Pinnochio, wasn't sure whether to draw him as the puppet or after he has turned into a little boy,  anyway went with the latter.  I realised by this time that I needed a bigger fine liner, if that isn't a contradiction in terms.  I used my promarkers for his skin, do need to get some skin tones pencils!    So Pinnochio crossed off the list,  what next.....

Charlie Chaplin,  honest,  or it is supposed to be!   He's slightly out of proportion,  think that may be due to drawing all the cartoons,  but it isn't too bad.   May go back and colour him.    I also attempted a portrait of Barack Obama,  it is sort of recognisable, but not happy with it.   I know where I went wrong,  which is why I was up at Hobbycraft again buying the book on drawing portraits.  I also hoped that they might have had the skin tone pencils, but nope,  in fact the art department needs a restock- asap.   It is almost down to its bare bones.     I had some money put by for an art splurge,  but only got the book,  another pad, more pencils and a couple of storage boxes, and ended up joining the Hobbycraft club!  Well you collect points and get money off stuff.   Yesterday I got 8p off a litre of petrol, since it was 1.12,  I therefore got it for 1.04!  Result.  Mind you that is what petrol should have gone down to, must be why Tesco is continuing with its petrol points. 

Well I drew Garfield so I had to draw Odie!  This was one of the simpler drawings, and only 3 colours.  Loving the Derwent pencils,  they take water beautifully,  you can colour as normal, but if you want you can go over it with a brush.  I have because I've been using the mixed media pad for the cartoons, the paper is rough so you don't get a smooth finish just by colouring.  

I turned a few of the cartoons into cards using Craft Artist,  love the cut out facility, it makes life so much easier.  My friends on FB appreciated the cards. 

Well as I said that was Christmas, same old thing for all of us,  all the madness (which I no longer participate in, and haven't done for years), the over eating (something else I no longer do) and the burn out.  I've laughed at all the supplements that have come with the Saturday or sunday paper magazines, all showing a beautiful table,  pristine cloth, everything gleaming, everything matching.  We all know what the reality is,  tables put together, a mish mash of odd chairs, stools,  no room for a table centre...  and as for all the recipes!   Let's face it we all cook the dinner, and buy the pud,   probably the cake as well if you like Christmas cake.   Two courses is enough for anyone,  the plates are laden with food, sprouts, roasties,  parsnips and another veg, turkey, chipolatas, stuffing...  and Christmas pud isn't light!   I swapped the turkey for chicken,  and didn't bother with pigs in blankets,  but had extra veg,  including roast parsnips - delicious.    Harvey ended up with a dicky tummy after pinching some of the chicken I'd put aside for him,  I was going to cook it, but he had it raw and so he had an upset tum. 

Yesterday we had snow,  thought Harvey might have been interested, but nope,  he wasn't bothered by it.  My old cat, Ms Mufti was always fascinated by the stuff.    It snowed heavily for a couple of hours and I was worried that it would still be around today,  fortunately it melted away.  I like looking at snow, I used to like making snowmen etc,  but since my accident and having to use a crutch I am afraid I don't like it any more.  

I did go shopping today,  found I had some money to spend - makes a change!   So I had a little splurge,   got the stuff from Hobbycraft, then popped to M&S,  found a nice pair of jeans and my favourite slouchy pants,  couldn't find a nice jumper in the sale sadly.   After that I went into Boots, intended just to get some make up, but ended up buying perfume as they had loads on sale.   It felt nice to be able to spoil myself a little, usually every penny is accounted for,  it still is, but this month is rent free, and no council tax either!    Meant to pick up some cat nip toys for Harvey,  but my back was killing me so I had to go home. 

And here's one of the cards I made, using an Elf what I drew.   That's all from me,   hoping you're all staying warm and safe.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Panic, what panic?

The Winter Solstice,  the shortest day of the year.  And for us the sun managed to peek through the clouds.  I was quite happy to stay tucked up indoors.   Yesterday I braved the supermarket,  it wasn't too bad, the car park was busy,  not many trollies, yet it wasn't too bad inside.  There were the usual ditherers,  make a list,  especially at this time of year then you wouldn't spend half your time wondering what to buy.   Having said that I had a list and still managed to forget three items, luckily they were not essential. 

Yep been Festive sketching again.  I had a bash at this snowglobe,  not so sure about the Christmas tree!   I'm now tackling the Grinch,  he's been fun to draw,  just needs to be coloured in. 

Also found this character, he's called Max,  no idea which cartoon he is from.  I admitted defeat on his original antlers so made up my own.  He started out as three circles,  then you start to add the other lines and soon he starts to take shape.  I put in a snowman, and a tree, which is sort of better than the one in the snowglobe.  Think I need to practise my Xmas trees.  Need a thick outliner pen,  my chunkiest is 3.0,  a 5 might be better.

I've not just been sketching cartoons, but also cats, like this lion.  It is my very first attempt at a big cat,  I was using my proper sketching pencils and the mixed media pad.  Don't think he came out too bad. 

I do have to brave the shops again tomorrow, plus pay the leccy bill (electric to non scousers),  I found it rather rude of Eon to send me a bill at this time of year!  So its the post office, then Home and Bargain for my heat pads to ease the aching back and neck,  oh and got to post some cards...  managed to forget to send a few! 

Of course the usual telly has been consigned to the shelf,  why can't they leave the programming alone?    I did enjoy Strictly Come Dancing, but oh boy are there some moaning minnies on the official FB page!  Many take it way too seriously,  as for those complaining about the winner being able to dance well - does it matter?   Caroline, who won, didn't start off very well, but once she found her confidence she was amazing, loved her show dance.    Right, best stop bending your ears.

Thanks for stopping by,  have a lovely week.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Nearly here...

Yes Christmas is nearly upon us, everyone is now out madly shopping for whatever they don't need,  enough food to last them through winter,  booze to pickle an army,  and presents galore, remember to keep that receipt, half will all be returned, especially the not so sexy underwear or awful perfume.  Yes, bah humbug!  

Well I was up at the retail park, buying me my pressie, and I  had thought about going into M&S,  then I saw the madness and had second thoughts.  Many coming out with their trolley piled high with food, drink... anyone told them that the shops are shut for precisely ONE day!?  Men clutching carrier bags,  nice jumper, shirt... well one can only hope...   Meanwhile all the Xmas decs are half price.

I feel sorry for the shopworkers, who have had to put up with endless festive music, moaning customers, and greedy bosses who can't bear for their stores to be closed for even one day.  If I was in charge they'd be shut on Boxing day as well, and would close at 2pm on Christmas Eve.  No more of this nonsense about not being ready,  Christmas happens each year at the same time,  so you have no excuses. 

Yep been sketching again.  A polar bear and a soldier, rather like the soldier.   My trip to Hobbycraft was to get some colour pencils, as I intended last week,  decided upon a treat and went for the Derwent Inktense set, plus a nice fat sketching pad, well a mixed media pad, and a book on how to draw all manner of felines.   I can feel my confidence growing,  and above all I'm enjoying myself.   Harvey was unamused,  he's having his 'sulk' day, he has one each week.  He uses up so much energy at times that after three days his batteries run out, and he need to recharge with lots of sleep.  He was flagging this morning during his playtime,  but like a small child, he wasn't going to give in to sleep.   After his breakfast, with a full tum he settled down for a long snooze,  while I braved the cold and the wind.  

Already experimented with my new pencils,  colouring as normal and then adding water,  oh boy are they gorgeous.  I may redraw some of the characters and use the pencils.  

Going to brave the supermarket tomorrow, must be mad.  Harvey has plenty of food, took advantage of Tescos offer on Felix.  It's me that needs the food,  not getting turkey, no point, so I'll roast a chicken breast.  I want a cold and frosty start to Christmas day so I can head out for my walk,  I enjoyed it last year, met all the dog walkers who put a smile on my face.  Just received a card from my brother, stunned, last year he didn't bother.   Families! 

Well time to wrap this up,  I'll try to remember to take pics of my latest sketches tomorrow, in daylight.   Stay warm.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


I draw a picture of Jack Frost and it warms up!  Monday it was freezing, yesterday it was slightly warmer but not by much, today it is positively balmy, but with that horrible mizzly stuff and endless grey skies. 

I had a busy morning,  sorted out what I needed to do: pay bill,  get heat pads for back, branston beans... cat food.  I chose to go to Crosby for a change and use Sainsbury's, bad move,  they have Felix on offer and that means Harvey's favourite Felix won't be on the shelf, and it wasn't!  Rats.  Worse, only took half the bill to the post office, chap said he needed the bar code bit,  something to be said for the old fashioned way... mmmmm.  Did get heat pads and my favourite beans (for half the supermarket price), then back to Tesco, braving the bloody roadworks.   Great time of year for road works, wet, cold...  

Anyways I got home hungry and tired, and with a sore back.   So slapped on a heat pad.  Had lunch,  the tea did the trick then wondered how to amuse myself,    a bit of sketching was in order I thought.  I was out yesterday, the idea had been to attend the art therapy Xmas part, which I sort of did.  I made it for 1pm, but couldn't see any famliar faces save for the tutors,   but I knew a friend was coming so  I found a seat, couldn't see anyone else I knew.  The anxiety grew, and kept growing, I'm not good in social situations at the best of times, so I nipped out for a cigarette.  As I stood outside I spotted my friend, phew,  but we then both decided to bail out of the party, it was a small room and so very noisy.  We had a nice cuppa and a catch up,  then headed for home, well sort of, she went to the market and I decided to see if the Clarks shop had any shoes I liked - eureka, they did!   Result, I've been looking for new shoes for ages with no success.   Then I popped into Smiths and spotted a one off art magazine on sketching, so bought that as well.  By  now it was getting dark, so on the drive home I enjoyed seeing all the Christmas lights. 

Today has been quiet,  was tired after yesterday.   Didn't feel like painting, so that is why the sketch pad came out.  I half watched a soppy Xmas film on C5,  and drew Jack Frost and a Snowman, plus a polar bear, who isn't quite finished.  I have found my confidence returning,  now the lines are bolder,  I know that what I am aiming to do is achievable.   I go over the pencil marks with a fine liner.  The pro-markers are being well used,  just a couple seem to be drying out, not sure why as I've stored them properly.  The rest are fine, and they have come way down in price.   Going to continue with the Xmas sketches,  may make some toppers out of them for next year.  Not made any cards for ages, but think the rest has done me a lot of good, I was getting very stale.   This stint of sketching should also help me with the painting.  

Christmas wise the spirit keeps coming and going.  And I'm still feeling weepy.   Not sure why this year feels worse than last year, second Christmas without mum is much harder than the first one.  

Not long to go now till the big day,  got my characters, so will be making use of CraftArtist soon to make a card.  

Thanks for stopping by...

Saturday, 13 December 2014

A bit sketchy....

Well once again I have been remiss in keeping my blog, must make more effort next year.  

I seemed to have become a bit stale painting wise, so I decided to have a go at sketching.  Back in the mists of time this was something I found easy, but I seemed to lose the knack and with it the confidence.   So I bought a couple of 'how to' books,  and got out my pencils.   This owl wasn't my first attempt, but I love owls, so naturally I wanted to show  him first.    The books break the object down to simple forms like circles, ovals, squares and triangles etc, from there you start to add shape and form.   I was a bit gobsmacked with the owl,  never thought I would be able to draw one.   The other book I got was how to draw cats, well as a cat lover why not! 

Yes I know I've not got the face quite right.  I've been studying Harvey so I can make corrections to the next drawing.   I was pleased that I managed to draw a cat which was turning round,  and managed to do some shading.  This was one of my first sketches,  so I was getting used to drawing again and making very tentative lines on the page! 

Boosted by this I decided to go back to Hobbycraft for another book, a sketchpad and some coloured pencils.  Got the book, the sketchpad and what I thought was a set of 24 coloured pencils...   and headed for home.  After a nice lunch of cheese on toast (winter food),  two mugs of tea I opened the new sketch pad, got out the new pencils,  eh, what was this, they weren't coloured, they were a sketching set, charcola, pencilsl etc...  doh!   But I gave them a go and was delighted,  so it was a  happy accident! 

And this is why.   In amongst the pencils were some skin tones, which allowed me to draw this young black boy.  I was very pleased with this effort,  it was a get to know you session with the sketching set, to see what did what and what worked best for me.  By the end of it I had this sketch, and it was now getting dark,  Harvey was snoozing happily in his new bed...  and all was well with the world! 

Well almost.   I thought this year would be easier than last,  last year being the first Christmas without mum, but in fact this year has been much harder.   A friend came to stay and offered to get my Christmas decs down from the loft,  but my heart wasn't in it.   I almost backed out of putting any decs up, but thought that was a bad idea, so a neighbour came to the rescue and got the decs down.   I managed to put up the tree,  thought I'd mislaid the lights so bought some new ones, and of course the old lights were lurking at the bottom of the box!   I haven't put much up this year, my heart really wasn't in it.   I even let the cards pile up, couldn't face opening them, or even buying them, let alone making any.    I have now got some nice cards to send,  which I will force myself to do tomorrow.  

A friend who runs an FB group challenged us to come up with a Christmas drawing a day.  It seemed beyond me, but I had a bash, drawing this cat,  based on one I saw in Radio Times, but mine has a Christmas hat on him!   I spotted photos of the original 101 dalmations, the cartoon,   and decided to have a go, by george she managed it, but forgot to take a photo...    Buoyed by that I looked on line for some how to draw cartoons stuff, found a page and had a bash.  What I like about these sites and the books is that they just break it all down,  they are not intimidating,  a few circles, a straight line, a few curves and suddenly you have a picture.  You still have to do the work, but it is so rewarding, why wasn't it like this at school?   

So here is Rudolph, and all by my own hand, with some dodgy colouring in.  Going to draw him again and this time use my pro-markers.  He was just a few circles to start with, added a few spindly legs, a curve or two... then slowly he began to come to life. 

I'm still nowhere near being full of festive spirit.  I went to a garden centre today which has lots of lovely Christmas stuff,  I needed to get out, the weather has been awful here so I had no choice but to stay indoors.  But even surrounded by all the Christmas stuff I still felt incredibly sad.  I spotted a decoration, a twirly thing,  which had Mum on it, so I bought it, oh and an owl, can't resist owls.   I tried to buy a few bits of luxury food from the food hall but, nothing appealed to me.  I watched a load of soppy films today,  well half watched as I was also painting!   Yep my enthusiasm for painting has returned, but now I feel confident to use the basic tracings, but then add to it, as I have with the one I am currently painting, and I'm trusting myself to pick the right colours.

Distressingly this morning I saw my good neighbour being taken to hospital, he was in a bad way, so my thoughts and prayers have been with him all day.   I was disgusted by the ambulance crew who let him walk down a flight of stairs and then expected him to walk to the ambulance, the man has only one functioning lung!    My blood was boiling, back in my day we would have carried him down the stairs and into the ambulance to ensure his comfort.   When I broke my knee they asked me if I could walk to their bloody ambulance,  I said no, and then added that I'd been in the ambulance service, funny how their attitude then changed!   It still stank, but they had fallen far short of being a decent, and humane ambulance crew. 

Making no promises as to when the next blog will be....  before Christmas I hope.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

It's been how long?

I hadn't realised so much time had elapsed since my last blog!  I have been feeling a bit down, the weather is partly to blame.  And one of Harvey's war wounds became infected, he licked it, and so opened it up and back to the vet's we went!   The wound was actually clean, but the vet decided to leave it open in case there was any infection,  Harvey had to wear a halo. And so the fun began,  halo went on,  and was soon off, tried again,  Harvey 2,  Halo 0,  one more attempt, same result, he got it off again!   Kept on trying for a few more days then gave up, he'd stopped licking the wound, it developed a nice scab, so it was left to heal by itself.

Inbetween visits to the vet, I managed to do some painting.  Decided to try flowers,  roses are one of my favourites,  really liked this one, which I did on the last of my cotton paper.

Another favourite are poppies, which are of course the flower of remembrance.  I was very moved by the poppies at the Tower of London, but I guess whoever was making them is very glad that its all over.

There is only one thing I didn't like in this, and that is the daisy flower, wasn't quite right.   Then for some reason I hit a wall, no not literally, but painting wise, nothing seemed to be going right.   I do like my How To books, but it seemed to me that I was following the insructions a little too closely, and some were also confusing.   Not having all the right colours has been a challenge, but I've learned a lot about mixing paints to get what I want.  So I had a rest,  well that was the plan, destress but...  a telephone assessment for ESA put paid to that, although my ESA was reinstated!  The other assessor had misinterpreted what I'd said big time.

So after a few days, and a trip to Hobbycraft - needed more watercolour paper, and ended up also buying a new book...   no idea how the book jumped into my basket!   This book focuses on landscapes,  as I flicked through it I spotted some mediterranean paintings,  well it was grey outside so why not paint a sunny picture?  This time I just looked at the finished picture, drew it, left out a few things, then painted it as I wanted - this is the result :-).   I'm happy with this, the steps at first foxed me, but then I worked out what I was doing wrong.

And to finish, Harvey, now back in good health.  He's reluctant to go out after dark,  and won't move from the front door if I close it.  At the vet I met a gorgeous silver back kitten. oh boy was he cute,  called Bruce,  and then made friends with two sausage dogs called, Cumberland and Chipolata!   Which showed the owners  had a sense of humour, they were adorable and friendly,  Harvey was unamused,  he kept howling, while little Bruce sat there quietly.  I did get Harvey a few treats to cheer him up,  some catnip drops,  which he loves, along with his other treats.

Well the next painting has been planned, and sketched,  that will be taking up my Sunday afternoon, that will be after the bacon butty!   All for now, will try not to leave it so long... thanks for stopping by :-)

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The case of the wounded paw

Well it has been a dramatic week.  On Tuesday night Harvey was attacked by another cat.   I heard a commotion, and Harvey came flying back in,   with his fur on end.  He seemed okay so I assumed he'd had a fright.  The next morning it was obvious that something wasn't right,  he looked very sorry for himself and was limping.   I checked him over but couldn't find anything,  so I kept an eye on him.  He got worse so checked him over again, this time I found a bite wound,  so it was off to the Vet.   They found four wounds on him,   so he had been beaten up essentially.    He had a painkilling injection and some antibiotics, plus more to take in tablet form (oh joy!).   This was the patient that night,  taking it easy,  he wasn't in as much pain, but still in shock.  He's not been too bad at taking his tablets,   I've rewarded him with a treat each time so he will associate it with something nice.   He's on the mend, still has a limp, but only if he does too much jumping around.   Not letting him out at night,  there is obviously a neighbourhood thug, and of course the fireworks have started.   I found it very upsetting,   because he seemed to be so poorly.  

I didn't have much time to paint,  and was waiting for some new books to inspire me.  I've spent some time learning a few techniques, like how to apply a wash,  and blocking in the painting.   So I tried to apply what I'd learned in this painting.     My first task was to put in some clouds,  and I have to say I do like this sky!   Next up was to start applying washes to the mountains, hills and shore line,  then start to add detail.   I did cover up a mistake!   There was supposed to be a wave, but it went wrong,  so it got turned into rocks. 

There should be more pictures this week,   need a break from the exercises. 

Oh must also remember that the clocks go back...    enjoy the rest of the weekend :-)

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Carer

I did this yesterday,  I love boats and water,  anything relating to the sea in fact.  This was an exercise, but the way I see it, I have to put the paint on the paper and turn it into a painting.   I will revisit this,  I rushed some parts, which I regret, but I did use a looser style of painting and enjoyed it.    I've just ordered another watercolour how to book,  more seascapes but in a different style.   I've just sketched out the next painting,   and I've noticed I have more confidence - my straight lines are straight! 

I think really I should change the title of this blog, or start a new one.   I'm not crafting anymore, maybe I will again one day.   I rearranged the craft desk, so now it is my art desk.   It has my desk easel,  so nice to have it,   it has made a difference.   My paints are now to hand, as are my brushes.  The beauty of watecolour is that you just need water,  and when it comes to the clean up, well it is easy peasy, no need to worry about paint clogging up the pipes, or having to clean the brushes right away.   

Today I hoped to get an early start on the painting, sketched it out,  then put the first wash on,  left that to dry while I had a well earned cuppa, then blow me Harvey comes in and demands some fussing!   So we had head butts,  lots of purring (from him),  tummy rubs (me rubbing his tum),  tickles under the chin (his chin),  before he finally decided he needed his afternoon nap!  At which point I could return to my painting.   I was engrossed in it, then suddenly came this unearthly howl, it was Harvey, to remind me that he needed his dinner!   I looked at the clock and realised he was quite right, it was time for dinner. 

I'm also missing my mum,  really badly at times.  I know that Harvey would cause her to smile, and also curse!   There is no sense to grief,  a web page I visited recently split it into three phases - as if!   Grief does its own thing,   there are no set phases,  nor does is follow a time frame.  This web site, it shall remain nameless, was for carers, it was largely rubbish.  I think that whoever is responsible for it had a straightforward experience, well not all of us do.   Carer's suffer more I think,  they grieve twice over,  firstly for the mother/father/loved one, they are losing but are still alive,  they have to deal with their own guilt,  plus depression.  Then when that loved one dies, the grief starts over,  there is the aching sense of loss,  the space that cannot be filled,  and the guilt: could I have done more, should I have done more?    The anger, not at those that died, but those that could have helped and didn't, who stayed away for often petty, or selfish reasons.   I am angry at my family,  they were not there for me or their mother,  they stayed away, when they did appear it was to insist that they knew better, that they had the answers - if only they had bothered to listen, and made the effort to 'hear'.  There are thousands of carers out there right now, feeling resentful,  feeling angry,  put upon and yet doing their best while feeling deserted by the family.   If you are related to a carer, if it is your sister, brother, whoever, is now looking after 'your' loved one, then go help them, stop sitting on the sidelines and hoping the problem will disappear. 

Yep it got heavy, do I care, not anymore.   Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A rainy Monday

This is what I got up to at the weekend.   Like the cliffs,  grass, river, bridge, bushes - but not the trees!   I had painted this previously as a winter scene, 

I had a very early start today - 3 a.m.!   That was when Harvey decided to wake up and make his presence felt.  He turned his little nose up at his food,  wanted to go out, but since it was windy and teeming with rain he soon changed his mind,  but decided to annoy me.  Not amused.  In the end I took his food up from the floor,  and tucked myself into bed, ignored him, and somehow managed to get back to sleep.   When I did get up, at a more civilised hour, I put his food back down, he duly ate it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did manage to tidy up the craft/art desk and area.  I've carefully stored the craft stuff, inks, stamp pads etc, and put all the paints out.   I can now find things!   Now working on a seascape,  and planning another painting.  

Hope the weather is better tomorrow.  Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Brrr, it is a bit chilly

Just one painting today,  more exercises - it is the only way to learn.  This brought in the tree exercise and water,  but this time it had to be a waterfall.

The trees took an age, but it was worth all that dabbing.    I was also lifting out colour so as to form contours.  I left the waterfall bit to the end.  I used a rigger brush for the very fine lines, and a texture brush,  it has to have a lot of white as the water is falling, this is why I use a watery white acrylic.   At the very end I decided to add a figure,  I've not go much confidence in drawing, let alone painting figures,  just about managed to make a fairly good fist of the man, not so sure about the dog! 

I'm revisiting a few of the exercises, but this time round I'm doing my own thing, colours,  adding other things,  or changing the seasons.   I keep making some basic mistakes,  so they have to be ironed out. 

Harvey - is driving me bonkers!   The other night, early hours in fact,  4 a.m to be precise he woke up.  Normally he is happy to have a feed and then go for a wander outside.  Not this time, nope, he howled and howled,  he didn't like his food,  didn't want to go out, didn't want to be alone!   Think I dropped off back to sleep around 6 a.m.,  then he started again.  He wasn't in any pain,  he was hungry but that was his fault for turning his nose up at food he'd liked only the day before.   So I took the food dish away,  and ignored him.  At lunchtime he got fresh food, I put it down and left him to it,  he walked away, moaned and then realised that I wasn't going to budge, so he ate it all.  We've had quite a few clean dishes this week.  Now it's getting colder, well it is here, he's decided to cuddle up with me.

The weather has turned autumnal,  woke up to rain,  and a definite chill.   I've got out the winter curtains,  washed them and they're ready to be hung up.  I may as well put all the T shirts and summer stuff away now,  the duvet is on the bed,  and the clocks will go back soon.    Just no-one mention the C word!  

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, thanks for stopping by :-)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Talking trees

I did some exercises on trees today.   I am okay on the body, branches, but less confident about the foliage.   I'd decided to buy some texture brushes, but knew I wasn't using them properly.  So back to my book! 

This is tree number one,  and looking at the photo I am quite chuffed!   I did as the book suggested, built up the tree slowly,  and remembering the light source!    I mixed the green, well some of it, I used Hookers green and added some yellow to it, used burnt umber for the trunk.

Tree number 2.  My excuse for this tree leaning is that trees don't grow straight!   In the book they called this a spring tree,  the idea was to form the trunk with the medium texture brush,  and a few 'branches,  then add the brown branches using a rigger brush.   It was a lot of work,  and it needed a thicker mix of paint,  I've realised that was were I was going wrong before, my mix was too watery.   The foliage was built up very slowly,  and I remembered which side the light was coming from.  These are only studies,  so I'm not that bothered about the wonkiness.  

Next excersise for me is figures,   really need to nail the skin tones, and shape.   Then the challenge will be - first to not get too stressed while my car is having its MOT, and to attempt to paint the Giant's causeway!   I may end up tearing my hair out. 

A slow day,  I'm seriously lacking motivation,  takes me ages to get going in the morning.   Harvey now realises that I need my two cups of tea before he'll get his play time.   He loves diving into newspaper,  so I put two pages down, then drag the ribbon, and he's off, diving around, attacking the paper, pretty soon the living room is awash with bits of paper.  He still has a lot of kitten in him,  so he's on the go most of the morning,  doing stuff he shouldn't like attempting to get into the airing cupboard, or onto windows.    He gets upset if I go out,  on my return I am greeted by his loud miaows,  think I'm being told off! 

All for now...  thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Gosh, has it been that long?

 I hadn't realised I not blogged for a whole month!  I've been totally absorbed in my painting.   I have been studiously working my way through all the exercises in my books, and am now starting to do some of my own stuff like The Cherry Tree.    I realised that my drawing wasn't up to scratch, so I invested in a 'How To' book, a Kindle download, and that has now become a daily routine to do at least one exercise a day. 

I won't bore you with the really boring stuff, like drawing circles and squares,  and trying to make them look 3D.   I've finally got to the interesting bit in the book and I'm starting to draw stuff.  This was my first attempt at a rose, yes it needs work, but I see this as the basis,  from this I can turn it into a more realistic rose - or that is the theory!   This started life as a simple spiral,  and just by the addition of a few lines, some shading it starts to resember a flower.  I even tackled a portrait!  The confidence is returning, at least my hand and arm no longer tighten up when I pick up a pencil. 

 Think I'm most proud of this.  I tried painting this a few weeks ago and made a right mess of it, the sky was a mess, so was the sea...  it deserved to be consigned to the bin, which it was.   But I came back to it.  I've been working on the glazing (applying thin coats of paint),  and making more use of the dry brush for blending.  I also tweaked the exercise,   which is what the book encourages you to do.  I think I managed to get the shoreline right,  I'm now using white acrylic with the watercolours, thinned down,  but it works well for waves.

I'm currently working on trees,  I am okay with the body of the tree, and branches, but the foilage is defeating me, so I need to practice.  

Harvey has been in the wars.  He came home with a bloodied nose, and looking very sorry for himself a couple of weeks ago.  He had two quiet days, then was back to his usual self.  The wound is healing nicely,   I bathed it,  and made sure it didn't become infected.  No idea if he was in a fight or crashed into something,  he's still happy to go out, so that's good. 

I also had some bad news on my sister,  but the good news is that she is now improving, and that they got all the cancer.  So we're all relieved, she still faces many challenges, but she has a loving family around her. 

I think that's all from me, hopefully I won't let the blogging lapse that long again.   Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday musings

Here's today's painting - she says making it sound like she blogs every day.  I have done other paintings this week but they were experiments, which er, didn't go to plan.  I was trying loose watercolour,  it sounds easy but is very difficult,  it means you need to simplify the picture - not sure I'm anywhere near that stage yet, so I'll put it on the back burner for a while. 

Back to the painting.  I had a dream last night that I'd paint Stonehenge.  Been thinking about it but hadn't found a nice enough photo. 

I knew how I wanted to paint it, with an extreme sky, tossed up whether to put a sun in the picture, and didn't,  but now I think I should.   I will revisit this again,  I was lucky enough to go to Stonehenge in 1976.   Back then it wasn't fenced off so you could just walk around,  it really was a magical place.   Sadly I had no camera,  it had been a spur of the moment visit, made more special because I was my then partner.  

So to Harvey, this is how he starts his day, with his newspaper workout!   I put two pages down,  and he goes nuts,  add a bit of string or ribbon and you have one happy cat.   He'd pretty much destroyed the paper by this stage.   He was celebrating having a full tummy,  it was his own fault, he turned his nose up at the tuna.   So at breakfast he had a sachet of beef,  Felix no less,   he wolfed the whole lot!   He had some fresh chicken later,  I was making a curry for my dinner,  so greedy guts Harvey was hanging round for any scraps. 

Got a ton of ironing to wade through tomorrow,  not my favourite thing.   Never mind, someone has suggested that I do the watecolour on a canvas...   mmm,  maybe,  got the urge to paint the Chalice Well.

All for now,  might be back tomorrow - have a good week.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Being orignal!

Yesterday when I posted the picture of The Windmill on a FB group, someone asked me when I was going to produce something original.  I wasn't sure what to make of the comment,  at the moment I am on a huge learnign curve and feel the need to follow tutorials, and complete various exercises, simply because I want to get to know all about watercolours.   I don't follow the tutorials slavishly,  often I don't have the colours they are using so have to mix my own,  or I just want to follow the composition.  

Anyway today I thought I would have a bash at something original.  I decided to use one of my Ireland photos, sadly the printer is out of ink!   So plan B,  use a photo from a magazine, kind of...!  Let's just say the top half of this painting follows the photo, the bottom half doesn't.  My field of corn went wrong, so I turned into a cliff and a beach scene,  then cos it needed something to add interest I painted in the standing stones.  The colours are bright, again that is deliberate,  in one tutorial the chap went for bright colours and I wanted to do the same.   The sea came out well, more successful than with the acrylics,  I was able to get the translucence as sea meets shore line.   Put the boats in so the beach wouldn't be empty.   All in all a  happy afternoon's painting, and great success for GB at European athletics, 3 golds!   Just shows what application can achieve, our footballers should take note.

All for me for now...   hope you all have a good week,  thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Practice makes perfect - I hope!

 I've had my nose at the easel all week.  I've been doing some of the exercises in the book, colour wheels, washes, stuff like that.   I also watched a few videos on watercolours.    But today I decided it was time to do a painting.  In last month's edition of Liesure Painter they printed a photo of a mill,  it was supposed to be a 30 minute study!   I decided against even trying to complete it in 30 minutes.  I chose one element of the photo - the windmill and had a go, all by myself.   This was also a 5 x 7 painting,  I chose that size as I had found a small frame going spare. 
Well I thought my effort was okay, but not quite 'there',   choosing such a small size limited me,  I also should have perhaps made the windmill smaller.  But nevertheless I'd had a go.  Then today I picked up the September issue of Liesure Painter, this time they had a tutorial on the photo, so I decided to follow it.
I prefer this to my first effort.  It has two features, the tree and the windmill.   My sketching is improving all the time,  and I'm chuffed about that.  I know I'd benefit from some classes,  it would be good to get some proper instruction.  

Today I added to my art stash, one brush, size 10, and one tube of paint, sepia, and the real treat was buying a cotton watercolour pad.  I found it made all the difference,  I could put in clouds as it wasn't drying as fast as the paper, and I was getting a more even finish.   The other pads will be good for quick studies and practice,  which I need to do!  

Good and bad week mood wise, very down at the start of the week.   It would have been my dad's birthday last Tuesday, he would have been 89.  So I was feeling very down,  I attended a reading workshop,  run by creative alternatives,  there was one man there, apparently he didn't often attend workshops but he had decided to give the reading group a go.  Well I got surprise when he spoke, he was Irish, and to hear that lovely lilt reminded me of my dad.  Later, after the workshop I popped to Smiths to see if my magazine was in,  as I came back to get the park and ride bus I passed a busker and he was playing: Danny Boy.  Thursday I had my last therapy session,  not sure yet if anything has changed,  the counsellor showed me my mood chart which was very up and down. 

Now for a Harvey report!  He was a bad boy this week,  he jumped up on the worktop and stole some chicken.  He got a good telling off.   He must have been allowed on worktops and tables at his first home,  I do not understand people allowing their animals to walk all over worktops.  His second 'sin' was to claw at the furniture.  

In the early hours of Thursday morning he tried to wake me up by being cute.  He was rolling over to have his tum tickled,  but he rolled a bit too far and fell off the bed!  The expression on his face was priceless. 

He is now fast asleep, getting ready for his night time stroll - though he'll only go if it isn't raining. 

I have another painting planned for tomorrow.   All for now, thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Patience - a virtue I need to practice.

If you don't succeed at first, try, try and try again, then try one more time!    This was the case with this painting,  just couldn't get it right, either I made a mess of the sketch, or the sky or the shading.  It was driving me nuts, but I was determined to get it right.   And today was the day, suprising really as I had a frustrating morning.  First was discovering the road works on our main road, so there was chaos at the lights, not finding a parking space near the shop... brief respite from frustration as I put my natural satnav to good use and took a short cut to circumvent the horrendous queue,  then damn and blast supermarket didn't have Harvey's food!   So had to go to the pet shop,  so I also picked up another watercolour pad for a £5 - love sales!  

So after all that frustration, heavy and slow traffic I wasn't sure I had the patience to do this.  But it came from somewhere.  I realised were I was going wrong with the sketch,  and also the sky - I'd been trying to follow the artist's way of doing it,  when really I should have stuck with my way.  I still have to remind myself that I'm using watercolour and that the paper has to be wet.    Finally I was happy with my sketch,  mixed the paints and laid down my sky, the way I usually do it,  much happier.  Next the distant trees and bushes,  for these I used a sponge, just some light dabbing, then I added more paynes grey to create some definition.   I had remembered the masking fluid on the roof of the house,   I took my time with the shading around the house, using a very, very fine brush.  Next came the bit that had always gone wrong, the edging round the lake.  I got a nice mix of grey/blue,  and just built it up, this time I 'thought' about the direction the brush needed to go in and very gradually I added each layer, blending it as I went.    It took two hours, but the time flew by,  I was all ready to start another, unfortunately Harvey reminded me, very loudly, that he was hungry!   I also realised that I was.  He had tuna, and I had a salmon fishcake, which he asked to share - yes he got  a bit. 

Now he's snoozing, getting ready for his nightly prowl.   I didn't want him to be a night owl,  but it is quiet and I understand why he prefers to have a wander in the wee small hours of the morning.  He's taken a fancy to my fleecy dressing gown, I'd thrown it over the bed as it was a bit chilly last night,  he purred like mad, did  his kneading thing, rubbed his head - talk about seventh heaven! 

I've lined up quite a challenge for myself tomorrow, a stormy seascape, which I tried yesterday and failed miserably, but only because I got too cocky.   I'm grounded again now,  today taught me a lot,  so hopefuly I will be showing off the seascape tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Snow in July!

I'm still dabbling with the watercolours.   I picked up a book - beginners guide,  from Hobbycraft.   I'm still waiting for my paints, they were dispatched on Monday...    was hoping they'd be here today.   I'm using a pan set at the moment, which isn't ideal for the landscapes etc.   I did quite a lot of sketching yesterday,  and became reaquainted with perspective,  light and shade,  how to draw figures.   It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon,  and none of the practice pieces were intimidating. 

Today I moved on to the painting excercises.   The first was this snowy tree.   I used the masking fluid to protect the snowy mound, and some of the branches.    I used four colours, grey, blue, brown and yellow ochre.   

I really have fallen in love with this medium.  I'm finding it easier to get results, and also to produce a painting I am happy with and one that looks like I want it to look!  

Not so hot physically,  my back is really giving me problems.   I had to pull out of the photo walk today.   At least that awful heat has gone,   it was lovely yesterday, a bit cloudy,  but the right temperature for me.  Harvey is also much happier,  he was really suffering with his fur coat.  Though he's being a bit of a pain about his food, liking something one day and then not the next, so I mixed in his treats with his food,  he had no choice then!   He's clever,   if I toss a treat to him he'll catch it in his paws,  he'd make a good goalie. 

More painting tomorrow,  fingers crossed the paints come! 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Too blooming hot!

I was melting all last week,  temp was up at 28C, way too hot for me and for Harvey.  I had to dig out the large fan,  Harvey parked himself in front of it!    I'm so glad it is cooled down,  today is much better,  no need for the fan, and I managed to work my way through the mountain of ironing that had accumulated. 

I also felt like a change,  so while I was in Hobbycraft yesterday I picked up a cheap starter set of watercolours.   I've never dared attempt to do any watercolouring, for some reason it has always scared me.   Anyway I thought I'd give them a go.   Looked on Youtube for some tutorials, found a nice chap - Matt Palmer had uploaded a few videos.   I followed one,  see the pic,  just too see if me and the watercolours could get along. 

This was the set I bought.   I wasn't sure how much paint to mix, and of course didn't have the colours he advocated.  So it was a bit hit and miss, I mixed the black with some white to get grey,  judging the water was also tricky.  But this was just a test piece,   not a work of art.   I found the brush work easy, in fact better than with acrylics or oils,  I was having more success with my brush work and shading.   I do love the delicacy of watercolours,  but always feared that it would be hard to control the paint, in fact I found it was much easier to get depth and shade.

So buoyed up by the mini success I followed another of Matt's tutorials, a bit more ambitious, probably too ambitious but it didn't matter as I wasn't after perfection,  just wanted more practice.

I kind of followed his tutorial, but also made it up as I went along.  I was astonished by the result I got,  that it looked as I intended it to look, that the shading was easier, as was the blending.  I enjoyed myself, and it was almost like an instant result!  The acrylics take time, or I need to take time with them,  I like using them, but think I will focus on watercolour for a while.  in fact I was so taken with it that I've ordered a better set of paints, but from Amazon, half the price of Hobbycraft.   Just can't believe I avoided this medium for so long.

This week hasn't been a good week because of the heat, I also was overcome by crippling sadness on Tuesday. I had gone for a beach combing walk with a friend,  after our coffee I just had to go home, luckily my friend was very understanding.   The heat hasn't helped,  once it gets beyong 22C I am no good,  the least effort sees me breaking out like a leaky shower.   Trying to get some sleep was a nightmare,  I was shattered, so much so that I didn't feel like talking at my counselling session.   Harvey didn't improve my bad mood by waking me up at some unGodly hour because he wanted to play!   It was also too hot to contemplate going to the follow on to the art therapy,  the room they use is like an oven and there was no way I was going to suffer for two hours.  I also gave up on seeing the Giants,  too hot and too many people.   I can't believe no-one thought to stream it live on the internet!  My back has also been too sore, I must have twisted awkwardly at some point as it has been really painful, I'm down to a slow hobble, and need to use the grabber for anything that is on the floor. 

My new paints should be with me on Wednesday, in the meantime I'll carry on using the beginners set to practise with.   I have a photo walk coming up this week,  next week it is a reading group,  last week of August I'll be making a sculpture to go on a bike.   And I need to find some watercolour classes. 

Have a lovely week, thanks for stopping by.