Sunday, 27 January 2008

Elena's Portrait Stage 7...and a Small Dog!

I seem to have cracked on with the painting a fair amount this weekend - no disturbances so I could concentrate. I have been working on the left-hand side of the horse's head, as well as his nose (not finished, but on the way).

Today I have been concentrating on Elena's hand, which I think is finished. I will check again when the rest of the painting is nearing completion to see if I have left anything out or made any glaring errors. I am using a very small brush (Round No.2) and blending the paint on the canvas as I go.

Still left to paint - the horse's upper lip, right hand side of his face as well as the white blaze down the centre, and more detail on his ears. The mane may need a bit more work once the rest of the head is complete. With a bit of luck this could well be done by the end of the coming week. It has been a darn sight harder to paint than the previous commission (Sam the dog) but no less fun because of it.

And in the evenings I have been knitting up a small, slightly shaggy, grey dog, who has a smart tartan collar with a tag, and a rusty-coloured knitted coat which fastens round the neck and under the belly. He also has a knitted bed and blanket, and will have a bowl and toys after this evening. These sets are £15 + p&p

I will be setting up a web site with my work in a more formal setting in the weeks to come. For those of you who are interested in buying my paintings, this will be the place to visit. Also an opportunity to browse should you be considering asking for a commission. I will post the name and link etc. once it is up and running.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

A Bird in the Hand.....

Last week I made a little felt bird which was very cute but a bit flat and I couldn't think what to do with it, other than sit and admire it. Then I remembered my sister's handmade bags with little stuffed toys sewn on to them and thought I'd give the idea my own twist. So I crocheted a little bag (it's about 7 inches square with an inch and a half panel all around) and sewed him on together with an appliqued felt branch with pink blossom.
I then lined the whole thing with a reclaimed pretty blue flowered cotton fabric, which I discovered had a couple of pockets on it, so I used them to create compartments within the bag.
It would be a lovely Spring gift for a little girl - or even a big girl! £15 + p&p

I think there will be more of this kind of thing - there are an awful lot of patterns in my Japanese book to be tried out!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Elena's Portrait Stage 6

This is the portrait so far after a couple of afternoons work. I have been working on the horse's neck, blocking in his nose a bit more to get the shape and cover the pencil marks. I worked on Elena's neck, chest and t-shirt today and I think they are just about finished.

Basically it is the centre of the picture that still needs work - the horse's nose from the eyes down and Elena's other arm and hand. Once that part is more or less finished, I will look again at the surrounding areas and alter/touch up anything that needs doing. I've been a bit all over the place with this one, but it seems to have worked. Usually on an acrylic animal portrait I will start from one eye and work outwards on a kind of circular motion. As this is really two subjects, it was not possible to do it that way this time and I have had to be a bit more 'painterly' in my approach to it. It has been a matter of keeping it balanced and making sure the tones and colours are consistent. Wow, it almost sounds like I know what I am talking about! I am self-taught, so whatever I know about painting has been picked up over the years from experience and a lot of reading!

Once again, this will have to wait until later in the week as tomorrow I have to teach thirty 7 year olds about Chinese brush painting - wish me luck!!!

P.S. Notice I have given you a glimpse of the chaos in which I work....

Monday, 21 January 2008

Bit of a Change!

We went to the Make It Show yesterday, which all in all was a bit of a disappointment as it centred around card-making and scrapbooking, but I did pick up a few bits and pieces including some brass chain. I've been wanting to have a go with chain for a while, just to see what it is like. My first experiment was the above, interspersing it with porcelain fish and hanging little AB beads every few links. It looks nicer in real life than in the photo! £12 + p&p
Then I went a bit bananas making a dangly mix of glass flowers, leaves, brass leaves and mother-of-pearl birds. I'm really quite pleased with that - no space left and it's a real crowd of beads but they look like a very small jungle together and make a very satisfying tinkly noise. I just love noisy jewellery! £16 + p&p

This is not a style I would make a lot of, but I was pleased to have a go and see the end results. I find that experimenting with a known method leads to other more imaginative ideas in the long run.

I did pick up some rather nice filagree butterflies and am brewing up a crochet wire necklace - needs a bit more thought though!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Elena's Portrait Stage 5

I have been working on the horse for the past 3 days - off and on! Trying to find the time to paint at the moment is very hard - life keeps interrupting! Still got an awful lot of work to do on the horse - none of it is finished yet except perhaps the eyes. Looks better now I have them in though - seems to bring it all together somehow.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Back to Beads...

Thought it was time I did a bit of beading - not touched my collection since Christmas despite having lots of new ones to play with! The above is a bracelet that I have had in my head for weeks and finally got around to making it. The beads were from a bargain bucket at the Big Bead Fair last month and the zebras were kindly given to me by Emma at My Vintage Charms. Bit of a disaster though - she gave me four and I can only find three - so I have to turn out my bits and pieces and search down the side of the sofa as it can't be far away......then I can complete the bracelet which would be £15 when finished!
Grumpy monkey earrings - not more to say about them than that! £5 + p&p
This is a double necklace made from natural hemp, varnished wooden parrot beads, AB green glass beads, small round wooden beads, some rather lovely leafy ribbon - and a nut! I can't get it to lie flat to photograph as the hemp is new and a bit curly - when hanging the weight of the beads calm it down a bit. Very natural and pretty. It was nice to make something like this again - I am very fond of making necklaces that look like a little piece of nature! £16 + p&p
This one is just for me - how kitsch can you get! It is a large cabochon with bright pink raised flamingoes and some palm trees. I've hung it on some simple grey suede thong, as the pendant is so over the top it needs nothing else - I love it!

The painting is coming along - been working on the horse but I am not putting a picture up until after a bit more has been done. There's an awful lot of brown base paint to be covered!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Break for a Bear....

Very small crochet bear in spicy coloured random yarn, with an orangey scarf - he's abut 4 inches tall. £6 + p&p

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Elena's Portrait, Stage 4

Today I worked for two hours, mainly on the face. I'm pretty happy with it now, but it still needs a bit of work, but that can wait until the rest of the painting is done and I can see it all together. I also did quite a lot of work on the hair, but then discovered that I can't do the bottom curls until I have painted the t-shirt as they overlap. So I put down a base layer of pink with some simple shadows and highlights, which will be worked upon next time after which I can return to finish the hair.

I have to take a break from this for a day or so - I am at the day job all day tomorrow so will not get a chance to paint. Probably not a bad thing, as I will look at it with 'fresh eyes' come Thursday.

I have painted Elena before, several years ago, just a simple head portrait which I feel was one of the best portraits I have ever done. If I get time I will dig out the photo and post it here as a comparison.

In the meantime, the evening crafting has taken a bit of a back seat - I'm knitting myself a lacy sweater which is quite complicated, and also crocheting a small bear. Nothing finished as yet though.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Elena's Portrait, Stage 3

Worked on the face some more today - not for as long as I'd like unfortunately, as I had other family commitments plus a very long drawn out chat with my sister on MSN - her first ever. Bless, she doesn't do technology and waiting for her to type her side of the conversation was like watching paint dry, but not the sort of paint I was wanting to watch! I'm not very happy with what I've done - it looks like someone but doesn't yet have the likeness of Elena that I'm after. There is always this middle stage where you feel like throwing the whole thing out the window, but you just need to work through it - think I'll do a different part of it tomorrow. I'm quite drawn towards the hair, I like the way it shines and has little wispy bits standing out against the dark background. You see, you are not only getting the practical process but also seeing the angst that goes on behind the scenes!!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Elena's Portrait Stage 2

Yesterday I worked on the background, deepening the colour and adding a slight light across the centre. The photograph has made it look far bluer and lighter than it actually is. Unfortunately it is impossible to take pictures in daylight this time of year - we seem to be living in permanent twilight. With something like this it is necessary to get the background finished first as there will be delicate hairs to paint on the girl and horse and no way should a background be attempted after that!
Today I started work on Elena's eyes - they will be the focal point of the painting so need the most attention to get them correct. Again, the photo does not show what I have done to it's best advantage and there is still work to be done, particularly on the left. When I work on a portrait, I use a very small brush and tiny amounts of paint and fiddle and blend over the course of the whole painting until I feel it is as good as I can get it. Today I may think the eyes are just about done, tomorrow I may see what I have forgotten or done wrong.

I haven't done as much this weekend as I had hoped - everyday life does tend to intrude, plus I had far too long a nap this afternoon - whoops! Hopefully the next couple of days will see more progress.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Spot the Dog!

Meet Spot, a tiny black and white felt puppy, with a real leather collar and a silver bell.
He's looking for a home, but first he needs a bed and all his accessories. I don't think I ever mentioned on here the price of these - £10 for a set of dog/cat and accessories + p&p. The dog is approx 2.5 inches long, with button jointed legs. More to come in the future!

Friday, 11 January 2008

First Stages of Elena's Portrait

Well, two requests is enough for me! Plus I think this will be quite an interesting thing to do for me too, to have a record of the growth of a painting. The above is the first stage, where I have made a grid on tracing paper that fits over the photo and drawn a corresponding grid on the canvas. I then draw in the relevant details, using the grid to guide me. It's rather like those draw-the-other-half activities in childrens comics! If this painting was just for myself, I would draw freehand, but as it is a commission and it is important to get it just right, this is the technique I use for placement of features etc.
This is the scary stage that I really don't like people seeing as they usually make stupid comments about it not looking right! I have laid down a thin olive green wash over the entire canvas. This acts as a base colour to pull the whole painting together and also it acts as a coolant for all the reds in the painting - and there will be a lot in here with the flesh tones, pink t-shirt and the colour of the horse. I have also started to block in a very basic background and the t-shirt.
The above is the blocking in stage finished - this just means I lay down roughly the colours I will be using and get some of the tones in. It is very daunting to be faced with a white canvas and blocking in gives an overall idea of where to go and what to do first. It also points out any glaring errors which can be corrected before they get made permanent!

All of the above has taken a total of about four hours over the past few days - while I am working at the day job I have to grab painting time where I can. Tomorrow I will start painting in more detail - with portraits I always start with the eyes as this is the most important part of the whole picture. If these go wrong, there is no point in carrying on! I can't decide yet whether I want to start with the horse or Elena - we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

I have got over my confidence crisis - it happens quite often, and I am sure other artists have the same thing happen - nobody can be 100% confident of their ability when it comes to art - the unsurety of it makes you work harder to achieve the desired results!

In the meantime, I have been asked if I would like a stall at a local 'Dog Day' in May to tout my paintings etc. - think I'd better make some more knitted/felt dogs as well. I have also been invited to join Ravelry (those of you who knit and crochet will know what I'm on about) which is very exciting. It's a bit like being accepted into a woolly Freemasons........wonder if there is a secret handshake.....

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Brushpen Sketch

Having been feeling a bit lost without my painting of Sam to get on with and as I was waiting for the photo for the new commission, I decided to have a go at some little watercolour sketches on a new pad of hand made paper from the Khadi Mill in India - I actually bought it in Charing Cross! The first was the head of a greyhound and while I thought all was going really well, when I went away for a while and returned, I could see that everything was wrong - the proportions, the placement on the paper, use of colour. When I tried to correct it, I discovered that the paper just disintegrated. So that was abandoned and something a little less ambitious was started as in the back of my head a little voice was whispering 'you've lost it, can't draw any more...' Anyway, the above is the result, a little brushpen and coloured pencil sketch of my nephew's retriever. I'm quite pleased with it - it's tiny, only about 4 inches square.

Now I have started the new large acrylic painting - it is a portrait of a young girl and her horse. I was wondering if anyone would be interested to see it's progress right from the start to the bitter end. Let me know, and I'll post regular photos starting with the initial pencil sketch using a grid.

Monday, 7 January 2008

I Think It's Time Someone Took This Book Away From Me...'s a felt fairy. Can't start the new painting yet as the photo is being enlarged, so in the meantime I'm just playing........(but she's still £7.50 if you'd like her!)

Saturday, 5 January 2008


Here he is, Sam, all finished and now gone to his new home - thank you Nicola and Steve for giving me the most enjoyable of commissions. I feel quite lost without having to put aside a couple of hours each day to get on with him. Not for long - the next commission is waiting in the wings but first I'll have a couple of days off!

The Very Little Mermaid...and her Twin!

This is the second mermaid - I didn't want to put anything above the picture of Sam for the time being, so she'll have to slip in here. This time she has a seaweed and shell necklace and I think it works well- will have to make one for the other mermaid in case she gets jealous! Same price as before.....
Having finished the dog portrait (felt very sad to do so, it was such a brilliant subject..) I decided to take some time out and make something frivolous - and here she is! This is one of the patterns from my new Japanese Nuigurumi book and I thought it would be a lot harder to do than it was. The only frustrating thing was sewing on all those scales individually, but it was nearly midnight and I'd had a couple of glasses of wine, so that would probably explain it! She is up for sale if you feel you could give her a good home - £7.50 + p&p. I think I'd like to make more of these and make them more decorative - crying out for sequins and perhaps a tiny shell necklace!

As to the dog picture, I will post it here when I have shown it to the owners - not fair for everyone else to see it before them!