Saturday, 28 September 2013

So Small It's Ridiculous!

I had to knit a tiny notepad.  Knitting it wasn't the problem, took not more than twenty minutes.  However, adding the wire spiral was quite tricky.
Still, with a little help I managed it without too much bloodshed....

Suddenly very busy indeed - not just the animation items but a sudden rush of commissions, including two pet portraits.  Jolly good - Christmas is coming....

Thursday, 26 September 2013


I have thoroughly enjoyed painting this handsome staffie. It's been so long since I had to paint a detailed acrylic, I felt a bit rusty to begin with but soon got back into the swing of it.  I didn't want to admit that it was finished yesterday, but luckily dinnertime rolled around and I had to walk away and upon looking at it again in daylight I have to say that anything else I do to it will just be superfluous tittivating.

So now I await the worst/best bit, the big reveal to the owner - although this time around I know he liked it half way through as I had to check with him on the colouring, so hopefully he will still like it now!

I thought I'd have a bit of a break but it looks like there is another commission already lining itself up - I'm certainly not complaining!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

In a Jam....

I am slowly working my way through the grape mountain, although because it is taking so long, quite a lot of them have already started to turn mouldy and have had to be thrown away.  It didn't help that I managed to catch the most virulent bug from the day job, involving a sore throat, banging headache and a fever, so standing for hours shucking grapes was difficult to say the least!

However, I have made fourteen jars of grape jelly so far, given away four, and have a third of the grapes left. I'm taking today off, time to get on with some painting. I'm sure the grapes will still be there in the morning and if some have gone mouldy, that's just unfortunate!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

OMG (Overwhelming Mountain of Grapes...)

I picked the grapes from our patio yesterday....usually we get between 12 - 14 pounds.  This year I harvested a whopping 38 pounds of the things. That is an awful lot of grape jelly to be made....

Also discovered yesterday that another one of my paintings has made the Artists & Illustrators monthly portfolio exhibition on their website - yay!  See it here.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Slow Progress...

I have been very busy the past week, but with little to really show for it.  I'm working as much as I can on this portrait - his head and collar are more or less complete, now I am concentrating on the chest and body areas.  I'd forgotten just how long an acrylic takes when it involves this much detail, especially when there are other things going on at home that take me away from my painting!

Last Saturday I taught my first workshop for adults down in Liss.  The subject was animals in watercolour and pencil and I had a class of 9 lovely people who came in with enthusiasm and an awful lot of equipment!  I had a  terrific day, thoroughly enjoyed myself talking non-stop about my favourite subject and I hope imparting some knowledge at the same time.  Nearly everyone produced a respectable painting by the end of the day, and the only lady who didn't was a victim of her equipment rather than her talent.  It doesn't pay to use any old coloured pencils, sometimes they just don't work together - a lesson learnt the hard way.

So I returned home exhausted, voice half gone, but very happy with the way the day had gone.
I've been knitting too - I can't show you much but this is a part of something... The things I am making for the animation are getting more bizarre by the day.  Not in the context of being scenery, just not the sort of thing that usually gets knitted!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Something's Wrong With My Cat!

Not really - this is a cool pattern from a book I bought on sale recently.  He makes me smile...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

It's A Dog's Life...

This portrait is progressing nicely - I am very pleased with it so far.  The background garden is complete,and I am now working on his muzzle - a bit tricky as the actual dog has now gone quite grey all around his nose and mouth but the owner has asked me to paint him in his original colours.  That's the best thing about a painting, you can alter reality! 
My own dog had his first outing wearing a new waistcoat the other day.  Salukis and sighthounds in general can be a bit nervous of strangers and new people, particularly when on the lead and unable to run to a safe distance which is their natural instinct.  My saluki is, and always has been, very fearful of anyone he doesn't know coming straight up to him to pat him on the head (wouldn't you be?), and bouncy dogs who jump all over him can trigger a fear aggression reflex.  This has proved quite a problem in the past, as people who own jolly, friendly, bouncy dogs just do not understand his mindset and naturally get a bit miffed when my dog growls and gives their dog a good telling off.  He's never hurt another dog, it's just his way of saying 'leave me alone'.  He has mellowed a great deal with age, plus I have tried to follow Cesar Millan's teachings and remain calm myself which has helped.  I think I was also partly to blame as I used to get very nervous when seeing a new dog on the horizon.

A few weeks ago I saw a lady walking a greyhound wearing one of these waistcoats (the dog, not her!  Although I think I could do with one as well sometimes...) and I asked her all about it and where I could get one.  It made me feel a whole lot better to talk to someone whose dog had exactly the same problems as mine when confronted with strangers and I was very interested to hear that the waistcoat definitely made people take notice and hold back a bit. 

We don't use it on a field walk as there is no need - if my dog is free, he can run away from situations that make him anxious.  I will use it on long road walks and if we go somewhere new - I shall be interested to see if it helps. 

These waistcoats can be bought through  I have not been asked to write this by them, this is entirely my own opinion.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Don't You Just Love It When A Plan Comes Together?

I have to admit I had serious doubts whether or not this would work when finally put together.  I'd measured everything and studied photos of real picnic tables, but there is never a guarantee that the mini replica will be as strong as the actual thing.  Yarn and foam board can be capricious things!  However, this time round it has worked out perfectly.
I am so pleased with this!  It makes all the monotonous knitting and severe finger stabbings with big needles all worth while.  Now I have to figure out how to knit a parasol - suggestions on a postcard to.....

Friday, 6 September 2013

Construction Work...

When I am given something to make for the animated film, sometimes I don't realise just how much like making the real thing it will turn out to be.  I don't know what I thought making a picnic table would be like, but I certainly didn't realise quite how many bits go into making one and how they have to fit perfectly for the design to work.  So this week I have been undertaking a bit of mini-carpentry using foam board.  It's all been 50% measuring and 50% guesswork.  I attached the legs last night and it stands straight - always a bonus!  I am hoping that the rest of it will work and the seats will be straight too and strong enough to hold the weight of a couple of puppets.

The main difficulty I have found whilst making small knitted furniture is the problem of how to attached everything.  You can't use nails, but simply sewing things together sometimes doesn't prove stable enough. Double sided tape has been a blessing, but again, is not strong enough for everything.  So far for this table I have got out the 6 inch doll needle and have sewn the legs on through the foam board, hoping that once the seats and their struts are in place, the whole thing will be quite solid.  Wish me luck!

Then I have to knit a!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Look What I Found!

I've been clearing out a few cupboard spaces this week and found among my stash some items that I made a while ago which would probably be happier being used rather than hidden away in a storage bag.  First is this beach top, knitted from a fabulous yarn which is like J Cloth fabric.  I followed the pattern exactly which means it is way too small for me so is untouched and new.   I love the fact that when washed this just springs back into shape, no ironing or blocking required. 
There was also this crochet lace collar - very pretty indeed, made from cream coloured crochet cotton and fastened with a mother of pearl button.

Both of these are going into my Etsy shop - go have a look!

Behind our house are some farmer's fields which have just had the barley harvested.  Every year, a few days after harvest, the geese come to feast on the scattered grain left behind.  They must have some way of finding out, either that or they send scouts ahead to check the landscape!  Yesterday morning when I walked the dog, there must have been about 200 geese in total, sitting in groups like this one.
They are quite wary as even though my dog was completely oblivious to their presence (unlike previous years where he thought it great sport to chase them off!) they began to leave as we progressed along the side of the field.

Although the appearance of great flocks of geese heralds the end of summer, I do love to see them, especially when huge flocks fly honking over our house at low level when dusk falls.  Magical!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

More Fishy Business!

For over a year now, one of the most popular posts on this blog has been my tutorial on how to do a fish stencil.  I keep meaning to find out just where all the traffic comes from!

Anyway, This summer I decided I was sick and tired of the koi carp stencilled in our main bathroom, plus the paint on the wall above the bath was getting chipped and looked bad.  So I initially started by painting the wall in a contrasting blue to the rest of the room - it turned out a bit darker than the paint looked when in the shop under flourescent lights.  I had to leave it for a couple of weeks to see if I really liked the shade before going any further with it.  Luckily it grew on me!

Then over the past few days I have been working on a much bigger version of the shoal of fish we have in the downstairs loo. It took a few days because the actual stencil is in a rectangular shape, which doesn't look natural, so I wanted to add extra fish and in order to get them looking a bit more random, I also wanted to reverse the stencil in places.  After a while, the paint builds up and gets sticky, so the stencil has to be allowed to dry before being used again.  I think this is finished, although I shall contemplate it while in the bath or sitting on the toilet (as you do...) and think about whether it needs any more fish.  For now, however, it's fine.
The painting of Troy is coming along nicely - this week I have been working on the background a bit more before carrying on with the dog.  I want him to look like he is in the garden, not like a cardboard cutout laid on top of a garden picture, so it is necessary to get the background in now to eliminate any harsh edges when painting the dog.  It's all a matter of juggling..

One the needles this week - a picnic table!

Monday, 2 September 2013

The Party's Over....

It's the last day of the school holidays - back to the day job tomorrow.  Sigh...
But for a last day, it has been pretty good - I've achieved a fair bit today so far, including clearing out three cupboards (which was about five years overdue), mowing the lawn, ironing a week's worth of clothes as well as the usual chores. 

I also managed to make another gnome bracelet last night - this time in shades of red.  It will be going into my Etsy shop shortly.
These bracelets have given me a bit of an inspiration boost - the idea of creating mini-scenes on a crochet band has got my creativity working overtime.  I have a vast collection of beads and a lot of them are little birds or animals, so the possibilities are endless.

I received a notification today that one of the paintings I entered into the Artists & Illustrators Artist of the Year 2013 competition has been featured on their website.  See it here. That's encouraging - if they think my work is good enough to be picked out for show already, I might stand a chance for a place later on.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pretty Flamingoes...

Well, the gnome bracelet didn't last long in my shop - nice to know I'm not the only one who loves a bit of kitsch to wear!  There will be more for sale very soon.  In the meantime, I have made this flamingo bracelet in the same style.  I have had the beads for ages but couldn't think how best to use them - this method seems to work well.
It fastens with a sweet vintage button.
This will be the only one of these for the time being - run out of beads!  If you are interested, it is in my shop now.