Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Flamingo Update & a Retrospective......

Warning: if you are easily offended by the human body with no clothes on, you'd better not scroll down any further......not that there is anything visible to be offended by, but just in case.........

No, no naked bodies hidden in this painting! At last I'm able to put a bit of work in on this and now have the final composition more or less how I want it. The top section of the painting is still only blocked in and the rest of it still needs work on the water and the rocks, but at least I can finally see where I'm going with it. It has a bit of an other-worldly feel to it, but that was part of the appeal of the photographs I am using for reference - I liked the shapes and the colours more than the ornithological viewpoint!

With it being the summer holidays, I am taking the opportunity to clear up the house a bit. While pootling about yesterday I came across a couple of paintings I did several years back that I really like. I have always wanted to take part in a life drawing class but have never had the opportunity, so these were created using my faithful 'Anatomy for the Artist' book which has loads of beautiful and very useful photographs.

This was drawn using some Caran D'Arche water soluble pigment sticks - terrific for larger work and you can draw, shade, then move the pigment about with a wet paintbrush and the colour remains vibrant throughout. It's quite a large piece of work for me and not my usual style, but I had great fun with it and wish I could find him a good home - he is available for sale if you are interested - just get in touch!

This was a combination of methods, a bit of an experimental piece. I used real leaves as stencils, also painting the veins for imprinting. The man is drawn and painted, and there is liberal spattering of paint. This was painted in yellow and purple watercolour only. As with the above painting, he is available for sale if you are interested.

I'd like to do more work like this, but it didn't seem very commercial at the time - what do you think?

Monday, 26 July 2010

Summer Holidays.......

......and it is raining, of course! Even though I was busy and exhausted last week, I managed to find the time to knit up a little pink shrug - this is it drying in the sun (on Saturday!) after being blocked. It is knitted in some gorgeous Adriafil flat cotton yarn called Papua, which is sadly now discontinued. I bought a load of it straight from the manufacturer in Italy when I was commissioned to crochet a floral wedding corsage as the lady thought she might want a matching scarf later on. She didn't, but I don't mind using this yarn for myself - better than it languishing in a box for years!

Now that I am officially on holiday for 6 weeks, I thought I would get on with some of the jobs which have been left undone over the past term. One of these was to scoop the duck-weed out of the pond. However, on going down there this morning I was greeted by these little faces -

I didn't have the heart to send their little world into turmoil by poking around with nets and sticks, so that job can wait for another day.

I know I live in rural Hampshire, but looking at the garden this year you'd think it was somewhere closer to the Mediterranean. The grapevine has gone mad and spread over the whole pergola and we have more grapes developing that I have ever seen. I think last year we had three meagre bunches - this year we have about fifty. Perhaps it's time to re-think brewing....a nice Chateau le Retour de Jardin.......

I've probably bored everyone on many occasions with lily pictures - sorry, but I just can't resist them. I love the shapes & colours, just crying out to be painted.

Talking of painting, I might even get back to doing some now that I have the time....those poor flamingoes have been on hold for far too long!

Friday, 23 July 2010

....And That Makes It All Worthwhile.....

Today was the last day of the school year and time to bid a fond farewell to the class I have been working in for the past three years as they move on to Junior school. I shall certainly miss this group of children, even the difficult and the quirky ones, for they have to have been the most creative class I have worked with so far.

Way back when they were in Reception year, I remember posting a little keenly observed drawing of me done by a naughty little boy in this class. He still gets in trouble on a regular basis, but I have a very soft spot for him especially as he has the makings of a talented artist - his rendition of Van Gogh's Church at Auvers took our breath away a few weeks ago. I received the above card from him this morning and it brought a tear to my eye - I think I'd like that inscribed on my tombstone! It's not the last I shall see of him though, as he will hopefully be joining me for private art lessons in the new school year.

So now six weeks of free time stretch out in front of me, with lots planned both creatively and around the home. But first I intend to have a couple of days of doing NOTHING apart from dipping into my farewell gifts from the children - wine, chocolates, a big novel, scented candles and bubble bath, to name but a few. How lovely!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Behind our house we have had several fields of barley growing - barley has been planted there for the past three summers. It was being harvested over the last couple of days, so we couldn't go on our usual afternoon walk until today. It was quite a surprise to find all these hay bales in the field - it's the first time that's happened. But it made for the intrinsic summer stroll, with the sun beating down, the scent of new mown hay, grasshoppers chirping in amongst the stubble and the blackberries ripening in the hedgerow.

Clovis hadn't seen one of these before - he claimed it as his own. (Dog owners will know what I mean!) At least now we won't be coming across deer hiding in the crops - I've had to scout the horizon every day for weeks now before letting the dog off lead, as Bambi has been lurking in the undergrowth.

Not much crafting going on - it's the final week of term and I am so very tired and feel totally burnt out. The flamingo painting is progressing slowly - perhaps it will get a spurt on when I don't have to go to work next week!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Daisy T

Just finished this little knitted-from-the-top-down t-shirt. A very simple pattern but so flattering when worn - I last made it in heavyweight arran yarn, so adapting it to be knit in 4 ply cotton was a bit of a mathematical challenge. Luckily, it turned out the right size! Surprisingly, this top only took four and a half balls of yarn...which means I still have over five balls left to make something else.

For a bit of fun, I have crocheted some daisies and appliqued them to the front neckline. This one is just for me!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A Small Break in the Proceedings....

Having worked very hard to complete the five kitty set as well as making several sets for Etsy, I am taking a couple of days away from tiny knitted animals in order to try and complete a cotton knitted summer top that has been on the needles for a few weeks now - it would be nice to wear it while we still have summer!

In order to de-stress a little (end of term burn-out!) I took my dog and my daughter and headed up to the Elvetham Heath nature reserve. Elevetham Heath used to be a vast expanse of wild woodland, full of deer, mushrooms and enormous majestic trees. A few years ago, it was cut down in order to build the most expensive (and ugly in my personal opinion) housing estate in Britain. However, they did leave a central patch of land wild, made a lake and put in pathways through the woods which make for a very pleasant walk. There is an incredibly tame heron living on the lake who must think he is a duck as he gobbles up the bread people throw. Probably because the fish in the lake are about the size of cod - they gobble up the bread too, sometimes jumping right out of the water to get at it.

The dog, with his new found confidence (thanks again to the Cesar Millan techniques) thought he had hit paydirt when he spotted these very large rabbits........

...not rabbits? He thought he might have a go anyway.......

....I was glad I had him on the lead! He doesn't need cattle-worrying added to his list of sins!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Five Little Knitted Cats......

Here they are at last, all set and ready to go to their new home - five little knitted cats together with their bed, litter tray, toys and enough food to see them through a month of Sundays. Bon Voyage little kitties!

Would you like your pet immortalised in yarn and felt? Just get in touch!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Smelly Cat.....

.....what are they feeding you?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Lazy Sunday Afternoon.......

With the hot weather we have been having plus copious trips to and fro with the watering can, the garden is in full bloom at last. I think for the first time ever I have had to admit that there really is no room left to jam any more plants in....although an agapanthus managed to find it's way home with me yesterday and has had to be stuffed into the top of a ceramic vase for want of anywhere else.

Lilies abound, cream ones in full bloom, pink and Stargazer almost there.

The way the honeysuckle has climbed up the stalk of my new hummingbird ornament tickles me - look at the perfect leaf formation!

Butternut squash are growing almost visibly, the courgettes aren't far behind, tomatoes are ripening and I picked the first few blueberries of a bumper crop today. We gave in to temptation and opened the velcro doors in our potato sacks today - shouldn't have done that! The blue 'Truffles' potatoes are only just starting to form and the Desiree are still quite we quickly put the earth back and shut the flap and will leave them for another couple of weeks.

We visited the 'pick your own' fruit farm yesterday and came back with a ridiculous amount of large succulent raspberries - it's jam time again! Some strawberries, gooseberries and blueberries were acquired too, but we had to walk away from the blackcurrants as they are not quite ripe. I don't know how some people cannot manage their 'five a day' portions of fruit and veg - I think we get about twice that, especially during the summer season.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Are We Nearly There Yet?

The summer fair at work is tomorrow (Tavistock Infant School, 2.45 p.m. if you are in the area) and having worked every evening for a week, sometimes until past midnight, I have managed to make two knitted cats and two knitted dogs in coats plus their beds. Hopefully tonight I can complete the sets with their food bowls and toys.

The scruffy little terrier is the latest addition...he looks very like my dear departed Jasper, especially in his black coat.

Any of these little sets that don't sell tomorrow will then make an appearance in my Etsy shop over the weekend.....apart from the Tibetan terrier who already has a prospective owner waiting in the wings.

If you would like one of these sets custom made for you, don't hesitate to get in touch - especially with the summer holidays coming up when I will have six whole weeks of free time to be creative.

I had a nice surprise this week - this painting has been on show at the local hospital for a couple of months and has now been sold. Some of you may remember the trouble I had with it......I'm so pleased it has moved on despite the rocky start it had!

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Five days to go until the summer fair at work and I wish I could knit faster! So far, I have produced the above little fellas.....let's face it, there aren't going to be many more made within that time limit!

The little dog may look familiar - I loved the replica Tibetan terrier I made a while ago so much I had to make another one. The cat is the smallest so far, having been knitted in fine sock yarn on No.2 needles - I'm very pleased with how he has turned out though. He stands 3 inches tall and I am in the process of sewing a little felt bed for him. Not too sure how happy the dog is at having a cat rub itself under his chin like that - talk about invasion of personal space....

So with the 5 commissioned cats plus all the other creatures awaiting sale, the desk is looking like a mini animal shelter!

Here is another peek at the progress of the flamingo painting. All those's very slow going! I also have to admit there was not much forward planning put into this one, I'm kind of going with the flow and hoping it all turns out OK in the end.

Had to laugh yesterday - I don't know if you remember the tizzy I got myself into last year searching for brushes I liked? Well, I went in the new Poundland store in our town yesterday and saw a collection of 4 synthetic, 4 hair & 4 bristle brushes for the grand total of £1. I thought, what the hell, if they are rubbish it's only £1 wasted and I can use them for masking fluid or varnish. Turns out they are absolutely brilliant. Just goes to show....not too sure what, but it does....

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Keeping Busy........

This is just a little corner of my current painting - the main feature is flamingoes. As it's an acrylic and on a fairly large canvas, it is slow going but really enjoyable. I'm just hoping I can finish it before the next couple of commissions come in!

Just discovered there is a summer fair at work next week - so I'm trying to dash off a few of the dog and cat sets before then. Mr. Fuzzy here now needs a bed.....