Sunday, 28 June 2015

It's all about shoes...

Who remember's these?  The old wooden scholl's?    I had a pair and loved them, they were soooooooooooo comfortable.  My mum tried wearing them but kept walking out of them. 

This was for the challenge I set - Shoes.  Which seems to have stumped a few folk.  I thought it would be an easy one,  just choose a shoe, any shoe, even a slipper, or a welly.   I've realised lately that I seem to have a lot of shoes, most of which simply stay at the bottom of the wardrobe. Got lots of summer shoes...   just need summer!

I drew this Clarks sandal because I always wanted a pair of red ones, but never got them. When mum would take me to get a new pair they'd never have the red ones in my size :-(  I had a pair of brown ones, and white ones, which had to be whitened with that stuff in a tube.  They would always crack, and of course if it rained well the white stuff would always run off.  And you had to whiten your pumps for school!  Thank goodness for trainers. 

These days we have so much choice, though I don't approve of children's shoes that look like miniature versions of adult shoes.  And the best thing for a child's feet is, to go barefoot.   As a child as soon as I got to the beach, off came the shoes.  I'm happy to pad round bare foot in the flat. Never understood this liking for high heels,   I hate them, and have never worn a pair.  I did have platform shoes... just about managed not to fall off them.  I'm happiest in my casual shoes, preferably clog type shoes, that way I don't have to bend down to put them on - there is method in my madness.   I do have a pair of Chelsea boots that are so comfortable, the leather is nice and soft, plus they look great with trousers.    And many moons ago I had a pair of over the knee suede boots,  no idea what happened to them. 

Only a few hours to go and the tennis begins!    You'll find me plonked in a chair tomorrow,  sketch board at the ready, nice clean piece of paper, though I've got no idea what I'll be drawing.  Maybe a tennis player or two?  

Enjoy the new week, and take care not to catch too much sun. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

A cat, a president, a zebra and... the Dali Lama, why not!

What a week, came down with a bad bug,  knocked the stuffing out of me for a couple of days.  There is nothing worse than being ill, than being alone and ill. 

Anyways, before the bug took hold I drew this cat for the Cat challenge.  I worked very hard to get a glassy look to the eyes, think it worked?   This was a mix of H, 2 &3 H, 3,4, 6 and 7B pencils.   The darker pencils were used to pick out the eyes, and for the pupils, oh and the mouth,  using very, very soft pencil strokes.   This took around 3 days, it had to be a gradual build up to ensure that I got the look of fur,  so much time was spent going over and over the face, and a lot of erasing.  But I think it was worth it!  May now try to do a sketch of Harvey. 

The next challenge was a portrait.  I returned to one I'd had real problems with, Obama.  Not quite 'caught' him but it is a much better attempt than the first two.   I saw him on TV and noticed that he now has much more grey hair. 

Then the bug hit.  I began feeling grotty on Wednesday,  I also had an interview with my ESA advisor, which I came close to missing.  Not because of the bug, rather I had it in my head that the 24th June was Thursday,  good thing I have the calendar on my desk top.  

By the time I woke up yesterday I had earache, a sore throat and generally felt awful.   I had to drag myself over to the shop to get some milk,  that was all I managed.   Then last night insomnia struck,  had a real bad night of it.   Finally dropped off to sleep at 5 a.m...

Remember I said I was going to do a zebra?  Here it is!   This seemed to take forever,  especially the eye.   Never realised that Zebra's have brown eyes!  

Now I just need to find her a frame,  and a mount...  for which I need the mount cutter!  So tempting to just go out and buy it, but got to watch the pennies this month, car has to be taxed. 

Going to put my craft skills to some use,  and use some black paper... so best watch this space!  

I do like these profile pictures,   have to think of more to do. 

And to finish, the Dali Lama, who I hear is appearing at Glastonbury, who will now be isolated by China!  I've long admired this man, he has such dignity, and apparently as a wonderful sense of humour.   Sad that he has had to live the life of a nomad because of the Chinese authorities.  Last year I was able to visit a Buddhist monastry, and take part in a meditation.  The monks were so generous and gracious.  There was a real sense of peace inside the building, an old church. 

Everyone is banging on about practising mindfulness, and meditation,  they are two things that I do try to adhere to each day, I often fail.  And that is the point,  it is not important if you succeed in being mindful, just that you try.  Meditation can be so relaxing, but it does take practise,  just start with a few minutes each day and build it up. 

Right now I am fending off a cat invasion,  one of the neighbour's cats has taken fancy to Harvey and keeps coming in.  The other day I found it eating Harvey's food,   next it trotted in and made itself comfy in the spare room!   I've had to chase it out 3 times this evening,  Harvey is such a bloody wimp, he lets it come in, he only shows signs of bravado after I've chased the other cat.  

I'm having a very quiet weekend... need to get over this bug.  And be fit for Wimbledon!   Two weeks of wall to wall tennis...  can't wait.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Oh deer...

I think if I tried sitting in one of these I'd never back up.   This was for the challenge of: draw a chair.   I had a few ideas, including a tennis umpire's chair, felt that might be appropriate considering that TV is awash with tennis.

So one challenge complete,  a swap to print out and another challenge to attempt.  The next one is to draw a moggy, or cat of any type...  wonder how long Harvey can stay still?  

So inbetween challenges I found a picture of this deer and felt the urge to capture him in pencil. 

This is pic one, showing the first stage. So from drawing the outline I began shading in the ears, nose, eyes and then giving some definition to his jaw.   I used the following grades of pencils: H, H2, 3,  3B, 4B and 6B.   And a lot of erasing, to take out the outline.   

To get the soft look I use very, very light but short strokes, this hopefully gives the impression of fur.  You do need to remember which way the fur grows!    Shading is used to give shape,  as with the ears, so a few wavy lines were used, well quite a few! 

This was the second stage,  yes I know it doesn't look that different, but trust me it is.  I moved up to the B pencils.  Now it was time to remember where the light was catchng the deer, especially on his nose.  There is very little fat on an animal's face, so bone structure tends to stand out, like round the eyes,  and along the nose.  This requires a very light touch with a dark pencil,  and some use of the stubby (blending tool). 

A day later...  and here he is,  standing proud.  I put in a couple of mountains behind him.  For the mountains I used the 4 and 6B, but laid them almost flat on the paper and held them loosely - well mountains aren't smooth! 

I am extremely chuffed with this, came out far better than I imagined.  Still need to do some work on the sky,  and give the deer some more definition to make him stand out from the background.

I also framed the Tyger picture.  In an ideal world I'd have the poem going round the mount.    He's now hanging on my wall.

Not been a good day, the weather really matched my mood.  I had my assessment.  Was kept waiting for 15 minutes, when I saw two people who had arrived after me being called I went back to the reception to ask if I'd been forgotten, at which point my assessor appeared.  She tried to get me to hurry up, impossible at the moment,  I'm down to a slow shuffle, so I stuck to my own pace.  She stupidly asked me if I'd like to use the lift!   Yeah like I was going to hike up two flights of bloody stairs.  In the room she explained the delay,  it is because they only get given the case notes at the time of the appointment!  How bloody dumb is that?   Hence they have to read through the case notes,  while you sit down stairs twiddling your thumbs. 

Whilst in the waiting room, which was full,  there was one woman who was far too cheerful and energetic.  She made a point of using an inhaler, which didn't work,  then it turned out it had been at the bottom of her handbag for ages...  I wonder if she realised that the assessment begins the moment you set foot in the building?   She had no problems switching seats, or moving around...   made me wonder why she was there?   

I'm seeing a consultant on the 23rd July,  so maybe I'll start to get some answers, and treatment for my back condition.  It is now well beyond a joke.   I'm so tired of the pain.   

Hoping that the sunshine comes back tomorrow!   Today's weather was truly grotty, but at least the garden got a good watering. 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Going round in circles...

First the picture...  this is the foal I started yesterday,  and were I left it last night.   Today it was time to do all the shading,  I used 3H, 2,3 and 5B pencils, plus an 8B.  

I also had to get in the muscle tone,  and add all the shading, plus the mane and tail.   Being a foal he would not have had his coat cut, so it was left long, and with wisps here and there.  The pencils had to be super sharp to get the detail,  so glad I spent the money on the sharpener,  it has been worth every penny. 

It took the whole afternoon to darken the coat, and add all the shading, shadows, and there is still some more darkening needed. 

This is him, almost at the finished stage, but not quite.  I need to add a tad more detail round his face,  and darken other areas.   I may need to employ my magnifier,   I've got one with a clamp,   it was very handy when I was doing cross stitch many moons ago.  

A new challenge has been set,  this week I have to draw a chair, with another object. 

I was up with the lark this morning.  I wanted to do a reccie on the route to the place were I'm having my medical on Wednesday.  So what better day to do it than a Sunday, and in the morning when the roads will be quiet...  WRONG!   I headed off around 9.30 a.m.,   I'd worked out the easiest route after much staring at the map.   Got annoyed when some plonker tried undertaking me at a set of traffic lights...   grrr,  I won,  just put my foot down and got ahead of him.   He was a total plonker, who assumed that because I was in a micra I must be a doddery old driver.  Well he found out that I wasn't.   So got into town and the road was closed,   did a u-turn thinking that maybe there were road works, went on down to another road, nope that was closed - what the hell was going on?   I turned round and hoped I could remember the other route,   got to the road I needed and.. that was closed!    It was the marathon,  yep,  it seemed almost the entire city centre was shut to traffic. Now had there been hordes of runners I would have been more understanding, as it was there were no runners in sight, so why couldn't they have kept the roads open a little longer?     There was no signage for the marathon at any of the road blocks, would it have killed them to put up some information for drivers?    This is one of my bugbears, lack of information, on roads, trains, airports etc,   just bloody well tell us what is happening and we will be able to exercise some patience! 

The other bee in my bonnet is the fuss being made of the silly young woman who was photo'd topless on that mountain.  Sky news saw fit to make it one of their lead stories, why?   On the press preview the two reviewers moaned about the massive amount of coverage. I wanted to email Sky and tell them what hypocrites they were,  plonking a reporter outside the young woman's home, plus trying to badger at the airport, on the plane, and then agreeing that the coverage was OTT.   She has said sorry,  paid her fine and I presume wants to put the whole thing behind her. But Sky news seems determined to hound her,  if I were the family I'd treat the reporter to a cold bucket of water.   Surely there is news of far more importance that needs reporting on other than a silly young woman, who is now clearly embarrassed by her own stupid behaviour.

The good news:  England won their match, even better news:  the tennis starts tomorrow.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Tyger, Tyger...

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 
 Not claiming this to be an original idea.  It was from an excercise in Leisure Painter.   This is my take on it.  It's taken me two whole afternoons, plus interruptions from Harvey, and nuisance phone calls.  
It's all pencil work,  H, 3H, 2B, 3B,  7 and 8B.   All of which were super sharpened during the drawing so as to get the detail in his fur.  In the magazine the artist had also used a ball tool so as to add extra detail.  It's something I might try in the future.   I also loved the idea of the letter box, think it adds to the drama. 
 This is a close up of the eye.  I wanted to try to get in as much detail as I could.  This is were I used the 7 and 8B pencils.  I may continue to dabble with it over the next few days.  His fur needs to be darker in places on his nose.   

 It felt good to complete a piece of work.  For the last few days I haven't really managed to do much, aside from the parrot.  And it was nice to go back to the pencil work after all the colouring.  This would also look good as an abstract, or in full colour - may just do that and have a triple frame.  

  Phew it ain't half sticky,  been very humid here,  and cloudy. The past week has been lovely, sunshine every day, and at just the right temperature for me. Don't like it too hot, around 21C is enough for me.  

And this is the finished picture.  Doesn't look much different from the first, but trust me there is far more detail on this one.  I'm messing with my camera to try to improve my photos.  The new lumix has a lot of button to try, so it can get a bit confusing at times.

Then of course it was time to decide what to draw next!  Since I fancied sticking with the pencils, and animals it was a case of wondering which to do.  I flicked through one of my art books,  it is dedicated to animals.  I've already managed the meerkat, rabbit and the horse (sort of, need to finish it).  There was one that had been proving tricky, the pony...   

  This pony!   I've not been able to get the proportions right, even with using a grid.   So I'm afraid I used some tracing paper,  I'm not happy about it, though the book does say it is perfectly acceptable.  It also occured to me that all the tracing does is give me the outline,  I have to do the rest.   I had to twiddle with the settings on the camera to get him to show up.  This is at a very, very early stage,  his colouring is black and white, plus there is a lot of detail on his legs and tail,  plus the mane. 

  That's for tomorrow,  if I manage to get back home.  Going to do a reccie,  need to find out where I have to go for my medical.  I've been staring at the map for ages and it isn't making any sense.  What is so frustrating is that I used to drive round that area day in and day out in my ambulance days.    Oh well, have A to Z and will attempt not to get lost! 

It's not been a great week health wise,  on Friday I had a swollen right foot, at first I couldn't figure out what had caused the swelling or pain.  Then I remembered, that morning I'd dropped a pair of nail scissors and they'd caught my foot,  only got a slight nick, nothing major.  Yet that was were the pain was emanating from.   Wednesday and Thursday I had numb hands,  along with a horrible burning sensation going from my neck down both arms to my hands.  I couldn't grip anything,  even holding a carrier bag with one book in it, hurt like crazy.   I was getting the numbness today. Had to laugh at all the advice this week about staying active, standing up,  moving around etc, if you have a bad back.  I do that, but the more I walk, or stand the worse the pain.  I think I've done well managing my back pain for 30 odd years,  during which time I did work,  but now it has defeated me.

There is something to look forward to this coming week, TENNIS!   Yep, time for the Queens tournament,  so my afternoons are all booked up for this week.   Just two weeks to go to Wimbledon.   I've been tucking into strawberries in preparation,  while Harvey has been enjoying some caramel ice cream.  Today he had some chicken, drenched with a chow mein sauce,  he rather enjoyed it.  Of course he has now just turned his little nose up at his usual food...  he did that this morning, but I wasn't budging and he ended up eating it.   Yesterday he tried being ultra fussy,  so he'd barely eaten anything,  when finally he came in late at night he wolfed down a whole bowl of food. 

Right that's me,  off to do an entry in my diary.  The weather is set fair for next week,  lets hope it stays that way for the next 3 weeks.   Take care.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A parrot, a cat and a spot of mischief.

Finally...  a bird.  There was much gnashing of teeth yesterday when I tried this.  Today I used a grid,  and burnt some lavendar incense (to keep me calm).   Don't think he is too shabby. 

It was a wonder that I was calm,  the car tax reminder arrived as did the gas/electricity bill - a bit unfair having to pay both in one month!    At least the utility bill wasn't too much of a shock, in fact quite reasonable, a little bit down on last year. 

So it was just as well I didn't buy the mount cutter...  was tempted but it will have to wait a little longer.  Instead I got what I needed, new knickers and a new dressing gown, and at long last some bedding plants! 

This morning I had some help making my bed, or rather 'unmaking' it.  As fast as I pulled the blankets up, Harvey pulled them down, or dived under them...   he was in a mischevious mood.  Sometimes it is like being with a two year old,  and he is 8 in a couple of weeks.   At least he did not wake me up in the middle of the night, no I did that all by myself.   Not having a good time healthwise.  My spondylosis has really flared up,  I've had burning, shooting like pains all day from the neck down to my hands, mainly the little and ring finger.

Yesterday I just went to get my prescription, just picked up some milk and bread in Iceland, which is next door to chemist.  Car was parked just round the corner,  so didn't have far to walk.  Even so when I got back into the car I had cramp in both feet,  my left heel was numb and my back was in agony.  Got home and couldn't get up the stairs!  The painkillers aren't touching the pain,  I felt really fed up yesterday,  think that was why the sketching went wrong. 

Couldn't face cooking, so made do with one of those new Birdseye Sensations meals, a pasta meal.  It was actually very nice.

Today was the same,  parked right outside Hobbycraft, got my new book.  Then moved the car down to M&S, a few hundred yards.   Just about managed to walk round the lingerie dept before the back began complaining.  I'd had to leave the bag with my few bits from Hobbycraft in the car,  it was hurting to hold it.   I so wanted to just wander round a few garden centres, but it was just out of the question. 

I've booked an appointment with the GP, and I am going to demand a referral, I am fed up of being fobbed off.   And don't get me started on this bloody government, Cameron has revealed what a liar and con man he really is.  He has no bloody backbone, tries to be a dictator then backs down as soon as he is challenged.   No he just picks on those that can't fight back.    I have a PIP assessment next week, if I am turned down I lose my blue badge, which let me tell you is the most precious thing in my life right now,  and money that helps me pay for a cleaner.  Yep, it has come to that,   it is a neighbour,  and I am happy to pay her to clean my flat.   Will also need to find a decorator soon as the kitchen needs a bit of a spruce up.    Once upon a time I could tile a bathroom, decorate any room, put up wallpaper,  even shelves, and manage to put flat pack furniture together... not anymore. 

Oh I did have a smiley moment today, when the BBC reminded the Tories that the last Chancellor to enjoy a surplus for several years was.. Gordon Brown!  

Right I shall gingerly get off my soap box...  hope you are enjoying this lovely weather,  so much nice to have sun on our backs.   It also struck me today how cheerful people look in their summer togs!

All for now...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Happiness is... a bowl full of fish (just ask the cat)

More fishy tales...   or fishy doodles.   This one is based on a koi carp,  as in the one I couldn't get right.  Actually it was the scales that I kept getting wrong, now after some thought I don't need to put ALL the scales in, do I?  

This was done yesterday whilst I was engrossed in the Men's French Open final.  After Murray got knocked out I decided to support Wawrinka, or Stan the Man.  Didn't think he had much chance to be honest, but alls I wanted was a damn good match, and oh boy were my wishes met!   Stan the Man played the match of his life and won,  though I think Novak's semi with Andy had something to do with it, being taken to five sets must have put some doubt in his mind.    You can't really count his win over Nadal as being anything special as Nadal was clearly injured and lacking (oddly) in confidence.

Think this is my favourite of the two fantasy fishes.   I must have been in the mood for doodling.   This was completed Saturday afternoon,  after I'd watched the last bit of Murray's match.   I had high hope of him getting to the final then he went and blew it.  This was one time when he needed to come out all guns blazing!    Oh well, there is always next year... and of course Wimbledon is just around the corner.  He's in good form so, he could make it win number two!   It's Queens next week,  we'll all have to get used to this extra time between the French and Wimbledon.  It does make sense, gives the players more time to adapt to the grass, and to let the top stars have some rest.   For some odd reason I watched the Grand Prix... zzz, boy is it boring.  Why don't they rebuild these tracks so that there can be more overtaking, and thus a bit more excitement? 

And here is Mr Fishy face,  all he has been eating lately is - fish!   I don't mind, I get the cheap stuff which works out cheaper than the cat food, and of course there is the guarantee of an empty bowl every time.    This was taken after his fishy breakfast,  full tum equals happy cat!  The neighbour that was feeding him has now stopped.   She meant well. 

Well the summer togs are now being worn, so nice to have some warm weather.  It was a tad cooler yesterday, but that gave me the chance to wear the new jacket.  I noticed it had a big sticker in it saying 'deep dyed',  and that it should be washed before wearing.  So I washed it after I came back, well it was only a quick trip to the supermarket for milk and bread. After I'd parked my car I noticed a young mother using the first disabled bay,  she wasn't disabled, nor was the baby...  she had her phone glued to her ear.    Now the parent/child bays were just a few yards away,  but no, she had to park her fancy car in a disabled bay.   I kept catching up with her in the supermarket,  her phone remained clamped to her ear the entire time, the poor child kept on trying to catch her attention.  What the hell is wrong with parents these days, their bloody phone takes priority over everything, and I mean everything. 

Now I have to try to draw a wild bird...  that's the next challenge, and contemplate whether to do the card swap...  

Have a good week...

Friday, 5 June 2015

A fishy tale..

This weeks challenge for the art group I belong to is: fish.  Apt really as Harvey has been enjoying a few fish suppers these last few days. 

I had started another fishy picture, but then decided to do something a bit less complicated - like Nemo!  I drew this whilst nervously watching Andy Murray playing in the semi finals at the French Open.   I was relieved when he won the 3rd set,  which seemed to rattle Novak.  Then blow me, play was suspended!  Which has kind of upset my plans for tomorrow which had been to go see the tall ships in Liverpool...  now I need to stay put and watch the rest of the match. 

Now this looks like a failure,  but it was my practice run at a koi carp,  made a mess of the scales, which I knew I would, cos the match had started and I wasn't paying attention.  Hence the dry run at it, on an old piece of paper.  I've worked out were I went wrong with the scales,  so next version should work - fingers crossed.   I was following an online tutorial,  Mark Crilly, look him up (on Youtube) because he is a great tutor.  He breaks everything down into easy pieces and has a nice relaxed style.   I've learned a great deal from his tutorials.  

This is the other work in progress.   I didn't do any art on Monday or Tuesday,  just didn't feel like it.  Then when I began on Wednesday, everything I did seemed to go wrong.  I knew I was trying too hard so I went back to what was familiar, and easy.  Not been a good week,  mood has been low,  the weather was rubbish,  and an awful lot seemed to need doing in the flat, which of course I can't do.  A neighbour came to the rescue, the one that was feeding Harvey, she tackled my oven, and put up the summer curtains.  She even vacuumed for me.   She is one of life's treasures.   With the flat looking brighter, I felt my mood lift a little,  then my new togs arrived, well a jacket and new sandals.  Now all that was required was some summer weather, and blow me it arrived yesterday!

I had to go out to get my prescription, so wore the new sandals, they are a nice bright colour, turquoise,  a colour I do like  very much.    I popped round to my hairdressers to make an appointment, it is only a short walk from the chemist,  but it took only a few minutes for the pain to kick in, knee and back.  So plans for a walk around the garden shop were abandoned, just got some stuff from Iceland, fish for Harvey, and a few ready meals for me.   That was my lot, I hobbled back to the car and went home.    Today I got my hair cut, feels so much better, not my regular hairdresser, he is in Ireland doing a charity cycle ride!    It was Cathy who did the cutting today, she is very good, and it was nice to know she'd had a busy week.   So the hair is sorted, the flat looks respectable,  Harvey is full of fish, and can I hope that the summer weather is here to stay? 

Have a good weekend...