Monday, 30 June 2014

Other People's Art

I bought this at the weekend - I just love it!  It's a print of a painting by the wildlife artist Pip McGarry, who had a small exhibition in a local gallery.  We went along for a look as he is one of my favourite wildlife artists, and I was lucky enough to meet the man and have a chat for a while.  He has now convinced me to enter my work into the Marwell Zoo annual exhibition - I have two weeks left in which to do it!

I rarely buy other people's art - not because I don't want to, but because it is usually out of my budget. However, I could not resist this - it was a toss up between the tiger and some zebras and the tiger won.  I now have to wait for the frame to be made before I can put it on the wall, which should give me plenty of time to clear a space for it!

We put up the model hawk yesterday on the porch roof in the front garden.  It was strangely quiet this morning when I woke up - not sure I like it and I am feeling kind of guilty at frightening birds away!  However, it was nice not to be woken up by ear-piercing screeches!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Weekend Round-Up

Yes, this is finished - I went over it carefully yesterday and could find nothing left to do.  So I signed it, trimmed it down, varnished it and now it is ready to go.  Now I have to find something else to paint, preferably in splashy watercolours.
I've been knitting a couple of these - each flower is no more than a centimetre across.  They are for the animation, so of course have to be in proportion with everything else.
Also knitted this tiny little chap - using 3 ply baby yarn this time.  I like how he has turned out, fits in the palm of my hand.  Have a look and see the difference between him and the last one I made:
Same pattern, just a radical change of yarn. 
We've been having some differences of opinion with the local magpies lately.  They seem to think we need to be woken up at 5 a.m. with some ear-piercing screeching outside out bedroom window, we beg to differ.  So we initially joked that we needed a stuffed bird of prey out there to scare them off - turns out, you can buy model hawks all over the place for that very purpose.  Now we just have to figure out how to attach it to the porch roof.

If it had been in place yesterday, we wouldn't have had the little drama played out at 7a.m. in what used to be a car park.  We heard the most awful noise, every bird in the neighbourhood was squawking at the top of it's voice, magpies, crows, you name it, it was perched out there shouting.  We went to see what the commotion was about and discovered a magpie had managed to get itself wedged in the builders' wire fencing - he could have slipped through the gap, but one leg was twisted around the wires and he was gripping it for dear life.  So after failed attempts at untangling him and getting pecked badly (I was bleeding!) we got the wire cutters and a tea-towel, and cut him out.  Off he flew, unscathed, nary a thank you.  However, it was quiet out there at dawn today....
Having lost the tomato race, there isn't such a sense of urgency - but I do have one lone tomato coming. The others are flowering or getting ready to flower - we'll get there eventually!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Are We There Yet?

I think I can tentatively say that this is finished - today I can't see anything major that needs doing, but I will give it a day or two and come back to it to check that I haven't left anything out!  Acrylic portraits like these are very much hard work, but I do enjoy them so.  Although having concentrated so hard for so long, using tiny brushes and painting in every hair, I think my next painting needs to be something big and splashy!
Yesterday was glorious, so I took my daughter to pick strawberries - this is one of our favourite places to go in the summer.  Not only is is so pretty, in the middle of nowhere... also get to come home with these:
I look like I've gone ten rounds with a wild cat after picking the gooseberries, but it was so worth it.  I've also eaten so many strawberries over the past fortnight it's a wonder I'm not turning red, but that's all part of the great British summer!

Currently on the needles: flowers!

Sunday, 22 June 2014


It never ceases to amaze me how a change in yarn can make such a difference to a knitted dog!  This one has been made using a chunky boucle yarn, which means he has turned out three times bigger than normal and very cuddly indeed.  He's so chunky that I felt a collar would look a bit silly, so he has a hand sewn bandana instead.
I'm knitting these dogs for sale at a local dog show in a couple of weeks' time, but if they don't sell there, they will then go in my Etsy shop.  Of course, if you would like to jump the gun, you can always commission your own personalised pup!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Flaming June...

Did you ever have one of those months where everything just seems to go wrong?  Not in a huge way, but annoying niggles on a daily basis.  That's what I'm having at the moment and it is getting very tiresome!  However, one thing that isn't going wrong (thank goodness!) is this painting.  I've had ample opportunity this week to get on with it, despite the niggles, and have been concentrating on the horse.  As I am using a size 0 brush most of the time, it is a slow process, but I am happy with how it's going.  Painting bridles is far more difficult than any animal though!
I've also been doing plenty of knitting and sewing, some for the animation and some for the dog show next month.  This little chap is waiting for his bowl and bone.
I went to an unusual plant fair at the weekend but was hampered by forgetting to bring much ready cash - see, annoying!  However, I did have enough pennies to buy this magnificent specimen - it's called a 'pineapple flower' for obvious reasons.  It does have a proper name but that's on the tag which is currently outside, and much as I love you, I'm not going out there right now!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

I Don't Know Either....

It's been a funny old week.  I've been knitting this - it was a bit worrying initially when I had what was basically a badly made grey sock, but with some folding and stitching, it did take the shape I was after. I quite like him, he has an air of resignation about him...
I've been putting in as much work as I can on this - I expect to the uninitiated there doesn't look to be much difference from the last picture I posted, but I have been painting - outer edges mainly, sleeves, horse's neck and a bit of the mane.
I've already lost the tomato race with Soggibottom blog - I can't compete with Devon climate!  My poor home-sown tomatoes have had to put up with torrential rain, chilly nights and a catastrophic hailstorm, so the fact they are still standing is a miracle.
My shop-bought plants have flowers on them at least!
We had a visit from Midge of Soggibottom this week, just a quick one.  By way of compensation she gave my daughter a birdbox her husband had kindly made.  Stacie could not wait to start painting it!  I do think any bird planning to nest in it had better have a pair of sunglasses handy though.

I have paintings on show at the Fleet Art Society exhibition being held at the Church on the Heath, Elevetham Heath, Fleet for the nexy couple of days.  It's a new location for the society and hopefully will bring in more visitors as i is right next to a large Morrisons and has a free car park.  We shall see - come along if you are in the area!

Monday, 9 June 2014

More Progress...

I've been putting in some work on the more 'boring' bits of this painting - the helmet and the sleeves.  Basically, until they are done, it's hard to concentrate on the 'interesting' bits - the girl's face and the horse. If the surrounding parts are not correct, then it will affect the focus points badly.  To be honest, I don't find any painting boring, I'm always happy with a brush in my hand! 

The only sections of this painting that I can say are complete are the horse's ears and the trees and sky - everything else will be worked on here and there until it all comes together as a whole.

I am not one to jump on a bandwagon, but was so sad to hear of the death of Rik Mayall. His People's Poet
was one of the funniest things I had ever seen when I was young and I quoted it ad infinitum for years.  Still makes me crack up after all this time.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Day Out At The Sculpture Park

We've been talking about visiting the sculpture park at Farnham for months now, ever since reading about it in a magazine.  There was always something preventing us - usually the bad weather!  However, today was simply glorious and we decided to finally find the place.
Hidden among narrow leafy lanes, this park was a revelation.  I don't think it was as big as it seemed, but it consisted of winding trails through the woods and streams, with over 300 sculptures placed among the trees, in the undergrowth and on the little lakes.
I didn't manage to take many photographs as I had the dog's lead in one hand and my daughter's hand in the other while we negotiated some pretty rough terrain.  These are a few of my favourites.
There were several sight hounds scattered around and about - I loved this typical pose.
Quite a few sinister birds lurking in the bushes too.
Some more surreal than others.

I adored this rolling horse, particularly as it had been placed so well in the long grass - if I had a huge garden, I'd want one of these!
A contrast of styles here - a classic flying swan and some very stylised flamingoes.
This photo does not show just how enormous that giant wooden bird at the back is - it must have been the height of a house.

We had a very good few hours exploring but were not able to see everything as some of the paths were too steep and slippery for my daughter, and in places the bridges over streams and ponds were wide metal mesh which my poor dog just could not comfortably walk across.  So I am afraid that calls for another visit sometime soon - now that's a shame!
My partner bought me a present for our own garden - I'm just wondering where I can put this.  It is exactly what it says on the box....
Perhaps we should have bought a pair....

Talking of gardens, look what I came home to find on Friday - a real live solid gate!  No more rubbishy bent wire fencing, we can now go in and out of our garden when we want after over two months of being sealed in.  It's a bit sad how happy that makes me!  Plus the gutters were cleared so hopefully no more flooding.

I have been getting on with the horse portrait - another progress report in my next post.  Plus I have to figure out how to knit that rhino head......

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Who Are You Looking At?

This portrait is coming along very nicely - the background is now just about done which means I am free to get on with the subjects.  Any tinkering to the trees and grass will be done at the end of the painting when I can see it all together against the horse and girl.

While this is a fairly unusual pose, I like it a lot - I think it sums up both their personalities.  It's good to be working in acrylics again - feels like a long time since I did!

I am having trouble finding time though - life has a habit of intruding into my painting hours.  Last week it was trips to A&E with my partner (he is OK) and this week we have this:
Last night there was a huge hailstorm and ther water began to pour into our living room from above the door.  This is because our gutters are blocked and we are awaiting someone to clear them which has to be coordinated with the builders as our back garden has been sealed in with this:

which means we have no access in or out.  It's been two months now.....all garden rubbish and equipment has to be carried through the house as does anything bought for the garden - 6 bags of topsoil this week, all carried through the house.  I hate this whole situation, it's turning me into such a whinger!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Looks Like Someone Wrestling a Horse...

Sometimes a remark made by someone when you are in the middle of a painting can have a serious impact on the way you look at your work, and on occasion can be quite detrimental as it echoes round in your head as you paint.  However, I think the above sums up what this painting looks like while it is in it's blocking stage. 

This is a private commission in acrylics.  It has made a good start but I may have to cover it while it is not being worked on, just in case any further remarks affect my thinking!
Currently knitting some knobbly dogs....
...and a church door.
This is the reverse side of our new garden fence.  See all that earth that has fallen?  That's because there is a huge gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground - the erosion on our side is about 10 inches in some places, exposing shrub roots and making it impossible to plant anything else.  This was done at Easter and I am still awaiting it to be shored up despite numerous broken promises by builders and housing association.  Maybe today?