Sunday, 26 April 2015

New sketches....

 I guess the sunny weather couldn't last...  we've had sun today, but boy was that wind cold!  

Start of a new piece of work.  I'm just beginning the shading, which is why it looks a bit odd.  Got a fair bit to do on this, using a 2H pencil so far,  next is the B, then the 3B.   This is an exercise from one of my books,  it is on how to draw animals.   Didn't think I'd managed the horse, not with the bridle,  just seemed like too much to draw.   There is one in the book of a lizard,  guess if I can crack that then I can say that I really have improved!   What is helping is having super sharp pencils, the new sharpener has made all the difference.  I am now able to do really fine detail,  as on here with the bit,  I wouldn't have managed it with an averagely sharp pencil.

The other new drawing, a copper mug and flask.  As you can see I've just started this.   I don't mind taking my time over these,   they fulfil two purposes:  relaxation, and learning how to colour.  That may sound a bit daft, but using colouring pencils can be tricky.   The photo shows up some flaws, which to be honest aren't noticeable on the actual drawing.   The mug has to have some dimples added as well.   I chose to do something shiny so I could practise reflections. 

I may need a couple more brown pencils.   I did pick up 3 more pencils the other day,  another flesh coloured pencil, and two greens - one can never have enough pencils!  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  Actually they are cheaper than buying paint. 

And the Garden Shelf,  although I am still working on this,  just blending.   This took all week,  well there was a lot to do.  I'm most pleased with the watering can, and the pots, the tools could be a lot better.   I want to have a play with the watercolour pencils this week as well, so I've got a lot to fit in! 

Today was busy, had a mountain of ironing to get through.  I did that whilst watching the marathon,  I do admire those who choose to run 26 miles, but have never felt the need to have a go myself.   I'm sure there must be a lot of aching muscles and blisters being soothed tonight.    I also spruced up the car, used the spray thingy to clean it, far easier than lugging water down stairs.  Well it had got to the point were the windows were a bit too mucky.   It was covered in a sandy dust,  I took most of it off then used the spray,  so now it is nice and shiny.  Also gave the window wipers a good clean - bet you forget them, well don't, they get dirty and can pick up bits of dirt and so you end up with a streaky windscreen.   The mini vac is on charge so I can give it a vacuum.    I was aching by the end of it, got some pain in my left hip, not sure if that is related to my back pain or...  something I don't wish to think about!   Another trip to the GP this week, need more of the pills to keep the pins and needles at bay.  Forgot to take them the other day, soon remembered when the numbness came back.

My neighbour gave me some rhubarb, so I guess I'll be making a pie.   A pity mum isn't here, she loved rhubarb, and she would have approved of the new neighbours.   They are lovely,  very thoughtful, and they've smartened up the front area,  and put lots of plant pots out, they also salvaged my old neighbour's rose bush.  I was glad about that,   it produces some lovely yellow roses. 

Well that is it from me,  Harvey is out,  think he has a girlfriend,  the other night he and two other cats were caterwauling,   it was not a pleasant noise.   He did chuck a massive hissy fit yesterday over his food,  which I ignored,  guess who won?   No, not him, me!    He ended up eating the food he had kept rejecting,  I just kept taking it away until he got the message.   He was rewarded with some treats. 

Have a lovely week, and thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

On the shelf...

The latest masterpiece!   Well one has to dream.  I started this on Sunday, well Saturday is when I did some prelim sketches.  Took a while to 'arrange' it all.  Now it is all about the shading,  getting the depth on each object, which takes a long time.   This is very satisfying to do,  as is seeing the picture emerge slowly.  It looked like nothing several hours ago,  now it is starting to take shape.  

The weather has been glorious these last two days, wall to wall sunshine.   True spring days.

And the villain in my life - Harvey.  He's now taken to his new eating plan,  with the odd tantrum of course.  He's now eating properly,  and is happier for it.  If you are wondering why I didn't do this before,  well his former owners told me that he ate any old thing... wrong, he didn't.  And of course he had to settle into a brand new home, and get used to me.  So it has all taken time to work out, like, first, finding out what food he did like.   He's adapted to the eating plan very well,  and it is nice not to be chucking food away. 

Today is my niece's 3rd wedding anniversary, sorry no pics,  could do but not sure she'd like it.   She got married in a lovely hotel in Cardiff,  it was  small hotel,  we took it over for the weekend.   Mum and I had the journey from hell on the way down,  it seemed to take forever, then we hit the 'rush' hour in Cardiff on the bridge...  by then my brain was addled, as was the sat nav, so I parked up by a Tesco and rang to be rescued!    The hotel had two dedicated disabled room, so mum and I had one, and my niece's other grandparents had the other.   We had a lovely family meal on the Friday, the food was superb, so we had high hopes for the wedding dinner.   The wedding itself was beautiful, yes I cried, in fact most of the guests did!   Then we had long break till dinner,  which, looking back, was a bit daft.  When finally it was time for dinner I was starving, but they were having pork and I hate the stuff, so I had the veggie option, which turned out to be a very, very dry goat's cheese tartlet.  Mum said the pork wasn't very nice either, it was a surprise as we'd had such a fantastic meal the night before.   I bailed at 9.30ish, I'm afraid I'd had enough of the noise,  and I was bone tired,  mum had an 'accident', so I had to help clean her up, then wash and dry her dress for dinner...  no rest for me.   I also just wanted to be alone for a while, that was my plan, have an hour to myself and then go back but...   I enjoyed the quiet too much to want to disturb myself.  Mum was a little bit annoyed, but she had been well looked after and had enjoyed herself, as had I.   I just needed those couple of hours.  Any carer will know what I mean.    The next day we left just before midday, fortunately the drive home was fine,  no problems.   I know now that mum had kept going to see her favourite grand daughter get married,  after she gave up on life.  But that weekend was special for lots of reasons. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Getting to the point...

What does any artist want?  Sharp pencils!  My new sharpener arrived today, and boy does it do the job!   You can see the difference here,  two have been sharpened and one hasn't,  super sharp.   It is mechanical,  a bit like those we used at school, the one that was clamped to the teacher's desk.  I was almost tempted by the electric sharpeners, only they weren't really electric, but battery operated, one review said they used a lot of batteries and that put me off.  So a happy bunny,  no more mess, or broken pencils.  

Something else also arrived, my Zen garden, finally!   I had a sneaky suspicion it was coming from China, though it didn't say so on Amazon.  And yep,  from China it came.  I don't mind ordering stuff from China, but I prefer to know upfront.  Didn't take long to set it up,  not sure where to put it, living room or bedroom?   Also confused as I swore that I ordered two of them...  one for me and one for a friend. 

The amazon order just shows one Zen garden.  Not to worry, have ordered another one for my friend, but one that is being sent from inside the UK.   Talking of gardens,  I spent yesterday afternoon in mine.  The weather improved slightly,  so out I went.   First job was replanting a bush,  its planter had fallen apart during the winter,  it took a while to free up the roots but soon it was safely in a new pot, with nice fresh soil and peat.  Took out a couple semi dead plants,  well two that haven't ever done very much in spite of my best efforts.    Potted the new lavender,  it should be nice and bushy in a year or so and will smell heavenly, oh and keep the bees happy.  The long planter that I thought was bust, wasn't,  so that will have some bedding plants in it come May.   Need to repot a rose bush, its planter, another wooden one,  is also in bad shape.  And I got a few plants for the spare pot, plus a Jasmine bush,  love those,  had no luck with the last two clematis so time for a change.  The rambling rose has benefitted from the severe pruning,  looks much healthier now,  and has sprouted two new branches. 

And finallly, the still life,  finished!   There is a difference, honest!   I did a lot more shading,  needed to make it 'pop'.   I got a mid tone grey, yes I did go to Hobbycraft,  was hoping to get a frame for the sketch I did of my mum,  no luck, but I can try another shop tomorrow.  I did look at the DIY frames, and at some point I may have a go.   I want to put something else in this drawing, but not sure what, keep thinking of a mouse. 

Tomorrow, if the weather cooperates, it will be back in the garden for a couple of hours, or until my back gives out.   As it did yesterday,  ended up eating painkillers,  hopefully it will be worth it come summer.   Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Living and learning...

I finished the elephant,  at least he looks happy.  Can't say I am with this horrible grey and chilly weather.    I had high hopes for today,  it started out really sunny and then the grey stuff set in.  It seems to have put the dampener on my spring cleaning blitz, well not blitz,  more of a dribs and drabs affair.  

The art is going well,  but not the spectrum noirs...    think I may have made a mistake! I did watch and read quite a few reviews,  all said they were good but, that isn't what I've found.

I was going to test them on this still life,  just to see how they performed.  I have to say I gave up.  There is no depth to the colour,  they soon wear down, and are very hard to sharpen, some break very easily, too easily for oil based pencils.  So I got out the Faber Castells, bliss,  easy application,  smooth blending and good depth of colour.   I also noticed that the spectrum noirs were leaving a lot of residue behind.  They are fine for digi stamps etc, but not for art work.  Oh well, we live and learn.  They'll be going back. 

The still life was partly made up from photos as I do not possess a yellow pitcher, had no apples, oranges or grapes.   The curtain was an excercise in shading,  still have a little bit of work to do on it.   I've sketched out a foal,  again it was something I attempted about a month ago and just couldn't do it.    I would like to attempt some buildings next,  I'd like to try to draw our Anglican Cathedral, it is such a beautiful building.   I'd like a nice sunny day so I can go take some pics.   I must try to find my pic of the Albert Dock, with the wonky lamppost,  it was taken just after they'd reopened the dock, and we had the Garden Festival,  that was such a lovely summer. 

It would be nice if Spring would come back so I can get out into the garden.  All for now folks. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Fifty shades of grey... !

My latest art effort,  this was teaching me about values,  grey in this case.   I really enjoyed doing this,   I followed the tutorial in so far that I used the grey scale, but made up the drawing.   Still need to work on the clouds, but I think I am making progress in that area.   The water to was a bit tricky,  I used some cross hatching, then smoothed it with a paper stump, then used a soft cloth.  After that I added the lines, then with some blu tack I added the ripples.  Must dig out the putty rubber!  

So I then moved on to the elephant.  I tried this a few weeks ago and made a right hash of it.  This time I got him!  Chuffed.  Still working on this,  there is so much to do,  folds of skin, creases, shading, and improve his trunk.   This convinced me that I have actually progressed,  I used a grid, a friend huffily told me that she 'never' used them!    I find them useful for this type of drawing, at least you know that things are going to be in the right place,  kind of.    He should be finished tomorrow,  just got a bit more to do. 

Good news, the pencils arrived!   A bit overwhelmed to have so many pencils at my disposal.   The Faber Castells are superior, but not by much.   A tad annoyed that the tutorials are aimed at card makers, what about other users?     Now I just need the Zen garden to arrive!     Got new pots for the garden, to replace the broken ones... and a new lavender plant.  I need quite a few new plants,  some things are just looking way past their best,   the rose bushes that got a severe pruning are now thriving.  The climber looks much healthier than it did last year,   but I really need to take the large rose bush out, it is just too big now.   

My weekend didn't go quite to plan, was supposed to meet up with a friend, but her journey was horrendous, it took her over seven hours to get here, so the curry night was cancelled, she was just too tired.   Instead we enjoyed lunch the next day,  it was all a bit rushed as she was helping her friend pick up some parrots to take back to a rescue centre down South.  Fortunately their journey home was less fraught.   The weather also took a very chilly turn,   woke up this morning to find frost on the car!   I'm glad I stuck to my rule of not putting in bedding plants till May.   Still a bit chilly tonight, Harvey is out, so the door is open,  he's slowly getting the hang of his new feeding regime.  I've had several cleared dishes,   and he seems much happier,  even wanting to sit on my lap now and then, at the most inconvenient time of course. 

More art soon,  the finished elephant and... well who knows!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

And it goes Pop!

Spring has sprung!    Well it kind of did on Saturday, then it went missing...   Monday was horrible, we had fog all day,  Tuesday the fog took ages to clear and today, woke up to blue skies.  Makes all the difference. 

I decided to just do some colouring after mum's portrait.   I'm working on a fruit bowl still life, and three vases.  This was how the three vases looked on Monday.  Took me a few hours to just get to this stage.   then I changed my mind as to where I wanted the light source to be.   It was going to be on the right side as you look at the picture, but I chose to put it on the left, so out came the eraser,  just had to make sure I got them all in the right place!   At this stage they still look flat,  so lots of work still needed to be done.  Basically it is adding layers of colour, different shades of greens, blues etc, making sure you get the dark areas dark.    So kept going....

And here it is, the finished piece.   Many hours later I should add.   I worked on the shadows today,  using several greys to get the right shade and building it up slowly.  The vases 'pop' because of a very fine line of a deeper shade of say green in the case of the green vase, and so on.   The shadow then accentuates it,   bringing a 3D effect, or so I hope!?     I also used my metallic silver pencil for the first time on this, but used two light greys underneath it.  Each vase has many layers of colour.   I cross hatched the background, that was after laying down some white, then used a blender and burnisher.  

I love doing this sort of work, it is frustrating at the beginning, because it feels like nothing much is happening, so you have to trust yourself that it will all come together.  I felt very happy when today the picture emerged,  it went from flat to 3D.    Wowser! 

Didn't have a good start to the day,  I was supposed to go on an outing with my the art therapy people.   I was up early,  but the last couple of outings haven't been happy.   I've found myself largely on my own,   I've been to quite a few outings,  know quite a few people, on nodding terms, but I can't seem to find my way in to the clique.   Today I didn't feel like facing that battle, so I cancelled.   The next outing is in two weeks, but that involves taking part in an art project, so I will attend that.    I did a tiny bit of gardening, tidied up the lavender,  but really I need a new plant,  the St John's Wort has also had it.  I want to replace both with fresh plants, and get some new stuff like honeysuckle for the trellis, I've had no success with the clematis.   The large rose bush is doomed, it will come out this year, I've had enough of it dominating everything.    I'll get some new pots tomorrow, maybe one or two plants and make a start.   

I've started a landscape in colour,  just working on the sky, which will take me a couple of days.   I'm having more success with skies now,  easier to work with an eraser than brush!    No sign of my spectrum noirs being dispatched from CnC!   A bit miffed with that, they used to be better than this.  Nor any sign of my Zen garden,  very miffed about that, as I ordered two, one for me, and one for a friend as a birthday present.   Moan over,  enjoy this lovely weather...  

Monday, 6 April 2015

Labours of love...

What's Easter without a bunny, or in this case a Hare!  He's finished,  took ages to fill in all the fur,  then had to faff with the clouds.  But I really love him,  he's definitely going into a frame. 

He's been a labour of love for the last couple of weeks,  just picking him up and doing a bit more every now and then.  He's probably taken over ten hours all told.   Which seems like a lot of hours,  but I don't think so.  I'd rather spend time on something and get it to where I think it should be, than produce a quick sketch which isn't very good. 

The clouds took a while,  lots of cross hatching, then smoothing,  then out with the eraser, oh and blu tack!   But it was all worth it.

This is a still life of three vases, only it is all in my head!  Just wanted to do some colouring in,  so sketched the vases and off I went.  I did consider doing a proper still life,  but all my vases, save for one, are glass.    I have got an idea for a picture,  just need to do some planning, then sketches, photos...   and decide what paper to use.  So far I've been using pads, but think it may be time to invest in some good quality paper.   I spotted some on Saturday in Hobbycraft, the one in Chester,  I'd saved up some money,  so I was at liberty to get a few bits, a T square,  erasers,  and more faber castell pencils.  Wanted the T square so I can get straight lines, makes such a difference, in fact I used it for this picture.   But in the Chester store they had a better choice of paper,  but in single sheets,  which is not a good idea. So guess it I'll have to go on line. 

And finally,  another labour of love - my mum.  I found a lovely picture of her when she was in the WAAF (now disbanded).  She looks so young, probably 18 or 19, and has such a gorgeous smile.  The first two efforts got binned, one was close, but not close enough, the next was er, well not even I recognised her!    Then today I relaxed,  got all my jobs done,  had lunch,  did some warming up stuff to get my eye in and then picked up a fresh sheet of paper.  I spent absolutely ages on the eyes, nose and mouth,  she has the same lazy eye as me - worth remembering that we don't necessarily have matching eyes,  often the left and right hand sides of the face are different.  This took me 4 hours in all, and there is still a bit of work to do, need to do more shading on the uniform, and the hair.   She actually didn't have curly hair, so this must have been a perm.   I'm giving this to my niece, who I caught up with on Saturday in Chester.   She and her husband were doing the food and drink festival.  It was lovely to see them both again, her husband has gone into the brewing business with a friend, and it is going well.  We, me and my niece, had a lovely long chat,  I showed her the first picture of mum, she could recognise her, just!    She was very surprised when I told her that her mum, my sister, can also draw,  in a way it was my sister who spurred me on to get better when I was younger. She did her O level art, and I was determined to be as good as she was.   The weather was lovely on Saturday, since then we've been shrouded in mist, even Harvey is fed up with it. 

Also ordered myself the full set of Spectrum Noir pencils,  well they were on offer on CnC,  and on flexi pay - how could I resist?    Think it may be time to get rid of the craft stuff,  could be a sale coming on!

Hope you had a good Easter,  and that you have a good week.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Paper, pencils and cats...

Funny couple of days.   Think I must be in spring cleaning mode, yesterday I was looking for my lint roller, the unit drawer was a mess, so ended up tidying it up.  Next while doing the breakfast dishes I decided that the cutlery drawer needed a good clean!  Today I gave the cupboards a good clean and tidy, then I noticed how tatty the garden was looking.    The garden needs new pots, a few have fallen apart.  But in spite of me ignoring the plants they are coming back to life.  Need a new heather plant, want a really bushy one, plus fresh compost,  soon it will be time to give it all a good feed.  Indoor plant is also thriving,  again in spite of my neglect.   Need to find a decorator,  kitchen and living room are looking shabby. 

Best talk about the art.   I did the monkey using a grid tool.  I'd been looking for something that would place a grid on to a photo, and I found one!  I also found a video explaining how to use grids and cross hairs,  now I am fully clued up.  Loved drawing the monkey,  they have such emotive eyes and I was eager to capture that.   I also had a new set of pencils, a friend gave them to me, all Bs,  right up to 8B, so they came in useful for the fur.   The monkey was a time out from the Hare picture, which is going well, almost there with it.  I have altered it from the tutorial,  and put him in a rustic setting.  I was getting tired of drawing little stones if the truth be told.  Now I'm onto his fur,  which takes time, a lot of time!  

Today's art I can't show as it didn't go to plan.  I have been wanting to draw my mum.   I found a photo of her in her WAAF uniform, I think she must be around 19/20,   and looking so young and pretty.  I scanned it into the PC,  altered the pixels to get a nice clear picture, used the grid tool, but didn't manage to capture her, so will start again tomorrow.  I wasn't that far away,  I have since edited the photo again, improved it to get the detail right. I realised that she had the same lazy eye that I have,  everyone tells me I look like her.  I'm not so sure. 

And Harvey... his new eating regime is going well. He did get into a strop yesterday,   thought he would, but I just removed the food to his horror.    I left him to think about it, then put the dish down a few minutes later,  and he settled down to eat it.   This morning he couldn't wait for me to get the dish on the floor,  he tucked in straightaway.  On a couple of occasions he's scoffed the lot.  He seems much happier now,  more affectionate too,  he's taken to sitting on my lap, of course he does this at the most inconvenient times.   Last night he cuddled up with me on the bed, as my old cat did, before he would stick to the end of the bed.  I did ask his former owners what food he liked etc,  and got no real answer,  I noticed that the food bowl was full of the dried food and placed next to his litter tray!  Disgusting, would they eat in the toilet?      So I'm sticking with the new regimen,  I'm sure we'll hit a sticky point at some stage.  He's also devouring his treats again, last week he seemed to have gone off them, which was alarming!    So a happy cat, and a happy owner,  phew....