Saturday, 30 June 2012

Don't Quote Me....

Further to receiving my sample tins of the Inktense set I illustrated, it is now on the Derwent Website in their News section, together with a little 'soundbite' from me - they asked me to come up with a few sentences for the press release.  Hope I don't sound too gushing, but I really DO love these pencils and blocks!

Suddenly this week I have been flooded with commissions.  It's a bit overwhelming but really, really good, especially as most of them are - as usual - a little off the wall.  So be prepared to see sometime in the future a  fishy tie, a knitted rock pool, a knitted pet, and a painted hammock.  I'm sure other artists don't get these weird projects to do - or do they?  Tell me about your strangest commission.  One of mine was painting a portrait of a dog on the flower pot his ashes were going into......

Friday, 29 June 2012

Shrinking Violet.....

...just one and a half inches tall.  That was fun!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dog's Life..

Clovis is a very big dog and as such, takes up a lot of sprawl room.  Every bed he has ever had has started out all nice and shaped with sides that stand up making it cosy.  After a few weeks, the sides have collapsed, the base has been squashed and lumpified by him digging at it trying to get comfortable and the whole thing is worse than useless. 

For a few weeks now I have been looking in pet shops and round about for a new bed for him and was not happy about the price I would have to pay for something that would be a wreck by the end of the summer.
However, while trawling through Amazon (over 1500 dog beds for sale.....good grief!) I came across a piece of off-cut memory foam that was just the right size and cost.......£6 plus postage!  It came today and has been covered with an old cotton throw plus his favourite blankie and seems to be well accepted.  Try and keep it tidy Clovis!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Wash and Wear

The flamingo t-shirt was finished yesterday and it was with great trepidation I washed it this morning - I half expected to see three days work melt into a swirl of pink water.  However, the Inktense colours stayed fast and it looks the same now as it did before it's dunking.  For a first time, it's not too bad - perhaps next time I would plan the composition a bit better.  There were supposed to be two flamingoes on this one but I couldn't find a photo in a pose I liked for the second one, so for the time being there is just the one.  I can always paint another one in later.

Do you think this is an idea that would appeal - customised hand-painted t-shirts?  It doesn't have to be flamingoes!  If you'd like one, feel free to gt in touch.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

A Good Day....

Sometimes a day is just packed full of good things, like....
...our first trip of the year to the pick-your-own fruit farm and several pounds of fragrant red strawberries waiting to be turned into jam.  The best ones will be saved just for eating with cream or on pancakes.  As we are being brought some clotted cream from Devon tomorrow (thank you Midge!), I predict a cream tea with scones and fresh jam in the afternoon....mmmmm.....

We also bought fresh gooseberries, new potatoes, carrots and blueberries. Gooseberry crumble for pudding today!

I discovered this a few feet from our patio doors, tucked into the kiwi vine above our pergola.  We watched this nest being built a week ago and it was incredible how quickly the pair of blackbirds achieved it - just under two days.  However, they disappeared for the rest of the week and we thought they had come to their senses.  Today I could hear magpies cackling in the back garden and that usually means they are on the prowl waiting to kill something, so I went out to chase them off and checked above my head...there she was.  I think I might have blinded her as the flash was on for the first picture I took - hope that doesn't scare her off the nest.

I do wonder what goes on in their heads though - a couple of weeks ago their first batch of chicks fledged and I am sad to say my dog managed to kill one of them.  He found it in the geraniums and grabbed it, dropped it immediately when I yelled at him but the poor thing died of fright, much to my horror - right under where the new nest is.  So either blackbirds are incredibly stupid or there is a sub-plot whereby they are rubbing my nose in it and planning their revenge. I've watched 'The Birds' many times, I've seen what they are capable of....

I've been coveting a t-shirt I saw on Threadless a while back that had a pair of flamingoes on the front but was put off buying it by the price and postage.  It took a while for the penny to drop that a) I am an artist, b) I possess Inktense colour blocks that are colourfast on fabric (let's face it, I now have three boxes of the things!) and c) I could buy a plain white t-shirt for the princely sum of £4 on which to paint a flamingo of my own.  So here it is, half done and even if it goes horribly wrong, it can still be worn for slobbing round the house.

Other good things today...getting all the week's washing done and dry before it rained; having a cup of tea outside in the sun with a friend before it rained; managing two dog walks without getting rained on; bacon butties for lunch and having a peaceful afternoon.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

It's Out At Last!

I am dreadful at keeping secrets, and whilst I was able to tell people that this set would have my illustrations on it, I wasn't able to show them.  The set is out this month and I received two sample tins in the post today - haven't they done a great job?

On the side of each tin is my name - how cool is that!
These were such fun to paint - the colours were so bright and I really enjoyed working with them.
Plus the subject matter was right up my street, especially....
...this one. 

Unlike other products I have been asked to illustrate for, this set is one that I use an awful lot - I just love the colours and the ease of use.  I'm painting myself a t-shirt with them this week funnily enough, as they are colourfast when painted on fabric.

This certainly brightened up what was a rather awful morning!

Monday, 18 June 2012

I Wish It Were Mine....

A few years ago, a work colleague of my partner mentioned he had found a certain book in the effects of his recently departed brother-in-law.  When we heard what it was, we asked if we could have a look - what artist would not want to see a first edition copy of Stubbs The Anatomy of The Horse?
It was a huge book, about 2 ft across and not in the greatest of condition.
Good enough to read the text however, and also to look at the incredible illustrations.
We painstakingly photographed every page in order to keep a record of this wonderful book.
I've always loved Stubbs' work, and Whistlejacket is one of my all time favourite paintings.  Every time I go to the National Gallery in London I have to stand for a while and gaze at that lifesize painted horse.
Obviously Stubbs had researched horse anatomy to the minutest detail.
I only wish we had been able to keep this incredible treasure - we did consider trying to convince the man that it was worthless, but I don't think that would have worked somehow!
At least I have a photographic record of it though and know that I got to look at it in real life.
I also wish I could paint and draw like him!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

I Don't Know.....

This painting is not quite finished but I am unsure of what to do to it as I am not happy with it yet.  Sometimes it helps to put a picture of a WIP on here and look at it on the screen from time to time which seems to draw one's eye to mistakes, corrections needed, and changes to be made.  I feel the water is very busy and is detracting from the swan but that could be because I have stared at it too much this week.  A couple of days off should do the trick.

This has been painted using Derwent Inktenses pencils and blocks.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Garden Matters.....

It looks like I shouldn't have thrown in the towel quite so early regarding participating in another tomato race with Soggibottom blog!  From conversations with Midge, it would appear that I have won this year!  It may only be 'a' tomato, but it's one more than she has got at the moment - her husband says it doesn't count until it's red, but I'm just happy it got this far.
We also have some of these which are stunning when open but need the sun to do so, so we haven't seen much of them lately.  Oh look, a bug - didn't notice that!
It looks like we will have another bumper crop of grapes this autumn too - great, more grape jelly!

On the easel at the moment, a swan which has reached that stage in the proceedings where I want to throw it away.  I know it will be fine when finished, the middle is always tricky and open to a crisis of confidence.

On the needles  - various items of small clothing for puppets and a bloodhound head to be designed - gulp!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pair of Queens!

I love it when my daughter brings home her art work from the studio she goes to every Monday.  It's like a glimpse into her mind, some self-expression in art form that she is unable to do verbally.  I'm gathering that they were given the task of illustrating the Jubilee - I think she's done a remarkably good job of painting the Queen. This is painted on silk, which seems to be Stacie's favourite medium and possibly what she's best at.
Here is a self-portait - I'm not too sure of the significance of the massive crown - perhaps in the spirit of the Jubilee, perhaps she has delusions of grandeur!  I love the fact that for all the abstract quality of the style, she's actually caught a very good likeness of herself.

For those of you new to my blog, I would just point out that my daughter has Down's Syndrome, which makes her paintings very special in my eyes.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Shark Attack!

I'm always on the lookout for an unusual cookie cutter - so far the best one is a lobster shape, bought in Salem a couple of years ago.  This week I found a strong contender for the title in this shark cutter - aren't these just brilliant?  We also bought a giraffe, but cute as it is, it doesn't measure up to the shark.
This recipe says it makes 20 cookies.....I beg to differ!  I think we have over 60 here, so I think we will be giving some away tomorrow.  Now, where's the milk......

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Pretty Petals...

I took a small break from commissioned work last night in order to crochet this adorable lariat.  It's from a pattern in this month's The Knitter magazine and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted one.  It is extremely easy to make, just endless repetitions of the simple petal motif with chain in between - I think the finished length was about 3 metres.  Then just tie the ends together and loop it around your neck a few times.  I just know I will wear this a great deal and I think I would like one in a different colour too....

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Goldfish in a Lightbulb - At Last!

Finally, thanks to the half term break, a goldfish in a lightbulb is ready for sale!
He has been knitted in an orange and lime-green varigated crochet yarn, with tiny orange sequins sewn on to his body.
His eyes are safety back glass.
The two different kinds of weeds have been crocheted and knitted from green crochet cotton.
It took me over an hour and a half to get him satisfactorily arranged and secured inside the bulb - stuffing him into it was the easy part, getting the wires of the three components sorted and stable was another matter.  However, just before I was ready to chuck it across the room, it all came together and by this morning the clay was dry and hard and the whole thing ready to be mounted into the wooden base.

This will be in my Etsy shop later today - first come, first served!
I knitted this little Angel Fish last night, the varigations in the crochet cotton making exactly the right stripes - more by luck than judgement!  He's a bit big to go inside a lightbulb, but a few of them might look good on a mobile....

Monday, 4 June 2012


Quite a number of years ago I bought a cheap denim jacket with a view to turning it into something a bit more special.  My plan was to slowly cover it in little specimen pieces of embroidery, eventually ending up with  a very fancy jacket indeed.
It started off very well, and I was full of enthusiasm  It was a lot of fun just sewing flowers and insects without really planning on a design as such.
I think I must have a book of insect embroidery somewhere as this bee is a bit professional looking...or did I sit and copy reference pictures from an insect book?  I can't remember now.

One sleeve....
....two sleeves.
I stopped wearing this jacket because...well, let's be completely honest, I put on weight and it was too small!  However, I discovered this summer when getting out the shorts that a diet of chocolate, biscuits and extreme overwork plus stress during the winter has worked a minor miracle and I seem to have slimmed down a bit. 
So although I don't think I will be adding to the embroidery any time soon, at least I can wear this once again without fear of bursting out at the shoulders!
This is my favourite piece, a green grasshopper poised to leap from my left pocket....

It is half term week this week, and it must be the first school holiday for about a year that I don't have any rush jobs taking up all my time.  So the house is looking cleaner, the garden is getting done, and I am able to sit and knit some of my outstanding commissions.  On the needles at the moment, a mini letter box and beer....

Saturday, 2 June 2012


....don't you wish I was coming round to your house?