Monday, 31 March 2014

Ups & Downs...

Let's start with the good news - last year at out local art society exhbition one of my paintings was chosen by the public as Best In Show.  Wow!  The society then sent a copy of the picture in to Leisure Painter magazine for their art society page - I discovered this month that it had been selected!
That's mine there, bottom right.  Funny how a little painting that took me a week or so seemed to catch everyone's eye - it sold at the exhibition too.
A new 'tradition' at work is the Easter egg decorating competition.  Mostly it's for the children to take part, but us staff get to have our own little competition as well.  I saw goose eggs for sale at out local market last weekend and thought that one of those would make a brilliant 'canvas' - this is what I came up with.  I doubt I will win - last year there were a lot of very humourous entries and they seem to be the ones people like.  I'm just sticking with what I know how to do!  I'm also hoping it will survive a week at school and be able to come home with me for further usage...
I love my garden, it's my little sanctuary from the world. This is what my garden looks like today....
...apart from the lack of grass (waiting for the seeds to grow!), it's looking rather nice.
However, through no choice of our own, this wall is about to be demolished and a pair of new houses are to be built smack bang next to ours.  This means yet another summer ruined by the presence of builders, dirt, noise and mess.  Plus we lose any privacy we had when sitting out in the garden.  I don't think anyone realises just how depressed this is making me - I would leave if I could, but financially and due to current circumstances we are unable to.  Not only do I have the above to contend with, when I am stressd like this, all creativity goes out of the window and creativity is basically 99% of who I am.  Wish me luck and the strength to deal with this.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Not Coming To A Store Near You...

Last year I was asked by Derwent to provide an illustration for a prospective tin of watercolour pencils - this is what I had to paint!  Unfortunately, this collection of pencils has been shelved, but the painting itself will be featured in the new Derwent catalogue. 

This was a fun painting to do - subject matter that I really like plus the surprise to find that I could achieve such depth of colour with watercolour pencils. 

Currently on the needles - ducks!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

On Going The Extra Mile...

When asked to make a washing machine, I was told not to worry too much about the door, it didn't have to be see-through.  Well, we all know that amounts to nothing so much as a challenge, and I do love a challenge!  However, round about four o'clock yesterday afternoon I was ready to throw in the towel (d'you see what I did there?) as the wonderful silver stuff I wanted to use to line the drum just would not stick.  Neither would the pate tub I used for the drum itself.  It was like they both had glue-repelling qualities and it didn't matter what I tried, glue, tape, double sided tape, nothing stuck except my fingers to each other. In the end, I used brute force and ignorance (my stock tools of the trade) and just wedged the whole thing in place with newspaper plus copious masking tape.  As it is not a toy, I'm hoping that's where it will stay.
Then the little tub I used for the door itself proved unruly as well, but I managed to beat that into submission with a pair of scissors and some helpful all-covering felt.

So, despite the trials and tribulations, it's turned out pretty well.  It needs a bit more embellishment on the control panel but by late evening I'd had enough!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Still Feeling A Little Sheepish....

I couldn't resist this little pattern from this month's Molly Makes magazine.  It wa a smidge more complicated than I first thought, but still a fairly simple make.
This cute lamb is coming to work with me this morning as there is a little girl I know who would love to play with him.  Many of my teaching resources are toys!
Time I moved on to a different theme - perhaps sheep have been exhausted now!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Mummy Knows Best...

When I started this zombie/mummy I thought it would be a breeze to knit as it didn't have clothes, just bandages.  What did I know?  Three days to knit nine feet of a strip only 6 stitches wide.  It didn't help that I'd chosen a slightly thinner yarn to get the effect I wanted. I even snuck my knitting in to work to do while I was overseeing readers!  It then had to be made to look old and dirty, so I scrunched it into a ball and soaked half  in cold tea, then rinsed it in order to blur the edges.  While the bandage was damp, I dabbed at it with red Inktense colour block to get random 'bloodstains'.  A day hung over the radiator to dry and then it was time to laboriously wind the bandage around the doll, making sure the interesting bits still showed (wound, guts, eyes) yet the bandage was secure enough not to fall off.
Quite labour intensive but definitely worth it - and I think Gladys would agree.  Look, she is so smitten with him she's offering him her heart, flirty old thing....

On the needles now....a washing machine.  Is it OK that I am kind of excited to make a small washing machine?  I have plans for the door and interior to make it look as realistic as I can - I'm hoping they will work!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

What Do You Think?

This painting is a lot different to my usual work, but it was inspired by a couple of things - something I was told a few weeks ago that really made me laugh and fired my imagination, plus the way the flock of sheep on the field behind my house always seemed to congregate around this little tree at the very top of the hill.  I'm not confident using lettering, plus I still haven't found the vintage stencil set that must be lurking somewhere in my house so had to buy a set which was not quite what I was after.

But at least it is all down on paper and out of my head, so I am free to get on with some serious work!

By the way, this is me!  It's not often I get a decent photo taken of myself these days, but I'm happy with this one.  Hello!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Open For Business!

Just listed commissioned pet portraits on my Etsy shop - the above are just a few examples of what I can do.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Watch Out, She's Coming To Get You!

People who say knitting is boring (peasants!) really don't know what they are talking about!  This has been a project over the past couple of weeks and has been such fun to make!  Lots of little detail - look at that shoe, the little detachable heart and the flowery hat! 

My next task is a stained glass, I'm not sure how I'm going to do that either but it will be entertaining to find out!  Knitting dull? Never!

Thursday, 13 March 2014


We seem to have some kind of infestation.......

Not good today, I'm poorly.....annoying, as it is my daughter's birthday and the idea of eating cake makes me want to.....hurk...hurk......perhaps I'll give that a miss....

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Masterpiece in Miniature

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will know just how soppy I am about my dog - here he is this morning, shutting his eyes in resignation as I take yet another photo...

Last time w went to Boston, I bought a fantastic little pendant at a craft fair with miniscule pigeons on a park bench, set in resin.  I wore it to death, until the resin went yellow and finally a chunk fell out.  I contacted the makers and ended up ordering myself another pendant, a custom order this time.
It arrived yesterday and I love it - look, a teeny-weeny Clovis just about to pee on a fire hydrant! (He pees on everything, it makes it his.....)

It's very difficult to photograph, here it is in daylight.

The company who made this for me are Stern Design Works - I can thoroughly recommend them!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Sheep, Sunshine & The Undead...

I think the grass meadow is finally done on this - it took long enough!  Now I need to find my tin of vintage letter stencils - I've just had half the living room out and it wasn't where I thought it was.  So now I really don't know where I put it - no good ever comes of being tidy!  I'm far better organised when I am disorganised...
Unbelievably, the sun has been shining for three days straight and it is as if Spring has sprung overnight.  I've been putting in a bit of work in our new pond/shed area over the weekend.  There are now plants in the pond, more plants in the gravel and in pots, plus I can finally put out my little table and chair set.  Once the leaves are green and everything has grown, I think it will be a pretty little hideyhole in the summer.
In between knitting beer barrels (finally done!), I have been knitting a lady zombie.  She's not quite finished yet, but I am loving how she looks already.  I think it's the hat.....

Friday, 7 March 2014

So Much Grass.....

At last I'm getting this painting out of my head and on to paper.  So far so good, although all that grass is going to take a while yet.  I bought a nice little texture brush the other day, one that looks as if it is rather motheaten, but it is great for making the marks I need for tufts of grass.  Trouble is, the brush is less than half an inch wide and the paper is A3!  When that is done, I have to try and remember where I stashed my lettering stencils....
And in the evenings I have been working on knitted scenery - a bit tedious, but I am loving the finished items especially when 'aged' with some acrylic daubings. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A Slightly Sheepish Obsession....

I must confess to having a few on-going minor obsessions that seep through into my creativity - zombies for one, that is still up there. I'm watching The Walking Dead, knitting a couple of zombies and one of the children I teach art to is currently drawing endless highly detailed comic strips of his version of Walking Dead.  Another is birds - I like to paint them, own them, watch them out of my window (as I type a pair of blue tits are investigating the new nesting box I put up on our pergola) and even wear them in the form of jewellery and patterned clothing.

The past couple of weeks it appears sheep have entered the mix.  Needless to say, I have been working with their wool for most of my life in some shape or form.  But recently sheep themselves have come to the forefront.  Perhaps it was when the local farmer decided to go into sheep farming rather than arable and my daily dog walks have turned into sheep avoidance exercises - the idea of my saluki let loose in a field of stampeding sheep doesn't bear thinking about! (You must have seen this clip - this is what I have looked like during dog walks more often than I care to mention.)

I've recently sewn a lamb toy, knitted numerous sheep related items for the animation, bought a sweater with a sheep on the front, eaten lamb stew (does that count??) and now I have an idea for a painting that just won't go away.  So hopefully today I can start to get it down on paper and out of my head.  Does this happen to anyone else, a subject that emerges from the sub-conscious and won't go away until it has been exhausted?  Just me then......ok, I'll go quietly......

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Necessity is the Mother of Invention...

Over the past couple of years or so I have had to knit some pretty weird and wonderful things for this animated film.  Oddly, it's the things that sound simple that prove to be the most tricky.  It's usually not a problem doing the actual knitting, but finding ways to construct the inner shapes has been quite difficult at times.  I think in the past I have used cosmetic lids, hairspray tin, fruit punnets, salt box, shot glasses, mini flower pots, oodles of foam board and newspaper, cardboard boxes, plastic cups, the list goes on and on. Can you guess what is underneath this beer barrel?
One of these, cut, taped, stuffed and taped again.  But you knew that, didn't you....