Tuesday, 28 January 2014

There's A Rat In The Kitchen...

Look who I caught eating bread in my house!
I don't know if you can tell by the size of the stitches, but this little fellow is a mere 2 inches long from nose to base of tail.  Not only that, he is fully poseable with wool jointed head and legs, plus wire in his legs and tail - all ready for his film debut...
Now he needs a friend...
Still plugging away at the elephants, not that I have had much time.  It has taken two days to complete the head and one and a half legs. I need to spend some uninterrupted hours on this - it's my day off from the day job plus it is raining, so perhaps today I can knuckle down!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Slow Progress.....

I've never painted an elephant before - now I am finding out why!  I love how when I paint something, I get to learn so much about it's structure and textures.  When it is an animal, it is amazing how much knowledge you unknowingly absorb as you paint.  Of course I knew what an elephant looks like, but now I am discovering all the nuances of bone structure and those wrinkles!  It is hard work involving a lot of concentration, but so interesting.

I am painting this in watercolour, but perhaps later on will add more texture with some pencil on the top - it's a matter of seeing how it goes first.  I don't plan on adding a background, but I think it will require a little extra 'scenery' once I see how the elephants work out.

The deadline for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year competition is 5th February - can I finish it in time?  Maybe....
While I've had a couple of evenings free over the past week, I began a sweet lacy knitted scarf using a pretty aqua wool.  It's been a long time since I knitted lace, and although this is a very simple and straightforward pattern, I'm finding it hard to commit it to memory as yet, so have to knit with the book balanced on the arm of the sofa or on my lap.  I have just received a new list of things to knit for the animated film, so this might  have to take a back seat for a while as I knit the contents of a pub car park.....

Just as a matter of interest, the above yarn smells very 'sheepy', which I don't mind at all.  Does it bother you when a wool smells strongly?  I'm very fastidious about smells around me; however, this is one that I do like but I can appreciate it might not be to everyone's taste.  Discuss.....!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

When Your Body Has Other Ideas...

As I probably said in an earlier post, this week saw the first time in I don't know how long that I had a couple of days totally free from commissioned work.  Whilst that is a little worrying (but January is always the lowest month for commissions) I thought it would be a great chance to get on with some of my personal projects that I have had in mind for months.  It was not to be...  I started off experimenting with a method of crocheting two colours - I had intended for it to be a mug cosy but misjudged the size.  Fell asleep several times during this, it took me two evenings.  That's a handy plastic pot I've covered there...to put things in....along with all the other handy pots, boxes and bags that proliferate in my house.

Last night I got as far as getting a couple of books down in order to search for a little inspiration....and fell asleep.  In fact, I spent the whole evening from about 8.30 onwards just drifting in and out of sleep.  I guess I was being told it was time to get some rest after months of working every evening of the week.

I have some more bits and pieces to make for the animated film now, so hopefully I can keep my eyes open long enough to get them done!
Thankfully during the day I can stay awake and have been working on an elephant painting.  Early days yet, it took one afternoon to sketch it out, and yesterday I just laid down some basic watercolour in yellow ochre and a few shadows.  Felt a bit rusty, it's been a while since painting a detailed wildlife picture, but I'm enjoying it so far.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Six Months In The Making...

I have finally finished this poor neglected painting!  I started it months ago, but it has been put to one side time and again due to other commitments.  This is an acrylic on Dalerboard, and the subject is the grounds of Old Basing House in Basingstoke.  We visited this last summer and I was very taken with the surrounbding countryside as it felt like stepping back in time.  This is now up for sale in my Etsy shop.

It's been one of those weeks - the rain never stopped falling, I have been landscaping the garden around our new small pond with gravel and rocks, plus the washing machine broke down and with a family of four, you can imagine the work that ensued getting it sorted out before a new one was delivered.  Hopefully this week will be quieter and less strenuous!

Monday, 13 January 2014

There Were Two In The Bed.....

I tend to pile up my finished projects in a bit of a heap while they wait to be sent off to wherever they are going.  Not too sure I should have put a couple of rabbits on a double bed....still, it might save me the trouble of knitting any more!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

When We Had Sun...

This painting has been sadly neglected over the past couple of months - I have been spending my time painting commissioned work and this has had to go on the back burner.  It's an acrylic of the grounds at Old Basing House, a fascinating place we visited in the summer.  Hard to believe we sat further up the hill and had a picnic in the sunshine which was strong enough to give us sunburn!

This is such a typically English scene, my aim is for it to be as chocolate-boxy as it likes.  I am having enormous fun with it, the sheep in the meadow, the limpid pool, plenty of greenery. it's got it all.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but I don't mind,  this is my true vocation!

Monday, 6 January 2014

An Elephant Never Forgets....

Last year my big brother went to Africa on holiday, lucky man.  As I am a poor struggling artist with no hope of ever going on safari to paint, I asked him to take plenty of animal photos for me.  He certainly did - I now have a file of about 200 photos to pick through - the majority are not suitable to use for paintings but they are all incredibly useful as a source of reference material and I cannot wait to get started.  I have one unfinished painting to complete, and a couple of possible commissions waiting in the wings, but I might, just might, get some free time to paint an elephant or giraffe....

A close friend of mine gave me food for thought today.  Is it plagiarism to copy another artist's style?  Or is it just unfortunate?  There are millions of artists in the world, they can't all have a different way of using pencils or a brush, and if you paint an animal, it's always going to look like an animal.  Without the advent of the internet, it would not be possible to notice most other artists' work.  Hmmm, perhaps I should just get on with my own work and not worry about anyone else's...

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Unmade Bed...

Today it's back to work as normal.  I'm currently making a double bed for the animated film - seems simple enough, but actually an awful lot more work involved than first imagined.  This is the bedstead waiting for the bottom sheet and valance to be sewn together.  I was given permission to cheat a little with the bottom sheet and use a charity shop cardigan.  Just as well as the duvet cover took forever to knit!  At some point I also have to make an alarm clock - looking forward to that, I love a challenge!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Got Your Wellies? Let's Take a Walk...

We are very lucky that we are not among the poor families who have had their houses well and truly flooded this weekend - my wholehearted sympathy goes out to them, as I know from my pal Midge over at Soggibottom blog, it is devastating when flood waters invade your home

However, water levels where we are have been rising and this morning's dog walk (doggy paddle?) was interesting to say the least.  This is a bridge over what is normally a trickle of water an inch or two deep. Today it was nearly bursting it's banks.
This is the path behind our house - Clovis is already not impressed and staying on higher ground.
This is a field the other side of the path - it's now a small lake about two feet deep.
The beginning of the path on to a nice field walk.  Clovis was hanging back on dry land refusing to follow me! Can you blame him?
This is not a stream, it's a path - today it has a waterfall.
This is the point we decided to call it a day and turn back - Clovis had to wade through this twice....
This is the path leading to the school where I work.  Last summer they made this path and cleared all the undergrowth and edges of the small pond off to the left here.  Foolish error - it has now burst it's banks for the first time ever, washing across into someone's back garden - I bet they are happy!  It's going to be a lovely walk to school on Monday....

So, after drying off before getting wet again going to the market, it's a home day for me - time to get on with more crafting I think!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Greyhounds Are Beautiful!

This was finished today too - see what happens when the festivities are over?  I can get down to work with no distractions and get things done so much quicker.

This has been painted in Derwent Drawing pencils, black ink and acrylic body paint. If you saw the quality of the photos I had to work from (sneaked on a phone while the owner of the dog was out of the room I think!)  you'd give me a medal!

Thank Goodness That's Out Of The Way!

The above sentiment applies to so many things this week!  Firstly, this little giraffe's head has been giving me a headache for weeks now - wondering how to do it, whether it would work, when would I find the time to make it.  In the end, it was a lot simpler than anticipated.  I found a little pattern for a giraffe toy that gave me a jumping off point - the initial steps are always the hardest.  Once the basic neck and head were done, I could then embroider the markings, make the ears and horns and put in a stubby mane.
I chose to embroider the markings rather than knit them in as when something is this small, the yarns can sometimes pull the whole thing slightly out of shape, and I couldn't afford for that to happen with a giraffe's neck!

He is still not permanently fixed to his mount as I am waiting to check with the client that this colour is okay or whether she would prefer a different one.

I would like to think I can step back from mini animal trophies for a while, but there is a rumour someone would like a rhino.....

Also on the needles, I'm still knitting that tiny duvet cover and constructing a small double bed from card and foamboard.  I have run out of the yarn I was using and the shop where I bought it has been shut over the holidays - another thing I am glad is out of the way, disruption and chaos due to Christmas and New Year!  It's lovely when it is going on, but after a fortnight of it, I'm happy to get back to normal.
Happy New Year  - may 2014 be peaceful, prosperous and healthy for you all.  Thank you for continuing to read my blog, it does give me the incentive to get on with work, that element of 'show and tell' with the fear of having nothing to share with the group on a regular basis!