Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

It's been a very busy week, but I was determined to find the time to carve a decent pumpkin!  Zombie theme again this year - I just love the way it looks like a real mess until you put the candle in and switch the lights out.

Have fun today - don't eat too many sweeties!

I'm barrelling through this portrait - it's great to have the time this week, plus I am really enjoying it.  I forgot just how much I love drawing, especially dogs.  I've also discovered a new product (new to me anyway) Derwent Blending pens, which are like felt tips but when you apply them to pencil drawing, the liquid softens and mixes the marks, fantastic for a picture like this one where scrubbing away with a blending pencil is tiring work.

Yesterday we went to the first screening of the Nudinits film at Canterbury Anifest.  Took us a while to get there from Hampshire as the good old M25 was terminally congested which added an hour to our journey.  It was worth it though, and I think the film went down well. You'll be able to judge for yourselves tomorrow when it will be available to see in it's entirety - I just cannot wait!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pencils & Pumpkins

This week I am working on a portrait of a beautiful spaniel called Beau using Derwent Drawing Pencils and it is a real pleasure.  She's a lovely looking dog, the reference photos are fantastic and I have the time to draw, so it is all going well to date.  In fact, when a drawing goes this well, I start to worry that it is not good enough because it is not causing enough problems!  I have had one minor setback in that despite knowing for a couple of weeks now that I have to draw a black dog, I didn't think to check my pencils and discovered that I only have one very short black pencil left - oops!  Organisation has never been my strong point.  However, three new pencils are on their way and I think I can eke out what I have until they arrive.
It being half term, I am trying to cram as much into the time I have at home as I can.  Monday was cleaning & drawing, yesterday was baking (and drawing!)  With Halloween fast approaching, it's time to make pumpkin pie, spooky cupcakes, and hollow out the pumpkin ready for carving.  I even made soup with the insides of the pumpkin.  Since we went to Salem for Halloween a few times, my daughter has really taken to celebrating the day, so rather than the apathetic efforts of years gone by, I feel obliged to try and make it a bit more fun for her.  Today is the day to carve the pumpkin - I'm trying to find a design that is spectacular to look at but involving as little work as possible...

While we are talking about Halloween and the time of year, would someone like to inform my strawberry plants?  These were found in the garden yesterday and very tasty they were too!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Frills & Stuff!

I've wanted to try knitting with the yarn that makes things frilly for a long time and finally bought myself some last week.  It's very clever, it comes as a kind of tape that you have to stretch as you knit through the top edge of it.  It's very pretty too - I love the colours on this one.  However, knitting with it is so DULL!  After the first couple of days of wonderment at how it turns into a frothy delight, then it gets very tedious indeed as it is a slow process.  Luckily, this is now within a whisker of being finished.
Something that is not dull is sewing small felt brussels sprouts.  I was asked to come up with the design, and once that was approved, I now have to make a bunch of them.  Yesterday afternoon was spent very enjoyably with a cup of tea, Danish pastry, Jurassic Park on the telly and quietly cutting out all the pieces I will need.  Much better than trying to make each one individually as I go along, now I am sure that they will be identical.

I also had time at the weekend to back up my work photos (which hasn't been done for a shamefully long time) and revisited some of the work I've done over the years that was stored on the hard drive.
Am I the only person who has knitted poop on their resume?

It is half term  for British schools, which means a blessed break from the day job - it's been very tough lately, working with a little chap who I am positive has 666 tattooed somewhere on his body... So a peaceful week ahead and a chance to get on with the next dog portrait, some clearing up round the house, and at the end of the week, the first screening of Nudinits. I'm getting quite excited now, especially at the prospect of seeing all our work on a big screen and finding out what people think if it!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Improvisation, Perspiration, Desperation...

What do you do when someone wants a portrait painted of their dear departed dog but the best photo they have looks like this?  Not only is the photo dark, it is also really small...and you are also asked to make the labrador's eye the right colour and give the spaniel the curly ears he has now rather than his smooth puppy ears, as well as change the background to something plain.

Well, initially you take a deep breath, gulp slightly and smile, saying it will be fine, of course I can.  Then you have a couple of days of serious self-doubt and find anything else to do rather than tackle this knotty problem!

But thanks to the internet and a wealth of photographs of chocolate labradors, as well as a couple of mediocre extra photos of the spaniel pup, you bite the bullet and give it a go and find to your surprise that it all goes rather well.
Considering the problems I had to overcome, I'm quite happy with how this has turned out - hopefully the owners will be too.  Ted & Charlie, it's been a lot of hard work but worth it.

Next up, a portrait of a black spaniel with some superb reference photos to work from!

N.B. Yesterday the lady who commissioned this came to pick it up - as soon as she saw it she burst into tears!  She was still crying an hour later apparently - I think I got it right!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tis The Season...

...for knitting pumpkins!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Farmyard Friends

Since having a bit of spare time in the evenings, I've had the chance to go through a few of my old designs in my notebooks. I've been wanting to knit another chicken for months now, and it was good to find that my handwriting was still legible and the instructions still made sense - in fact, on knitting this after so long, I can hardly believe that I came up with such canny shaping!
This hen has the secret hatch in her bottom, revealing... egg waiting to be laid.
I've knitted this is some rather coarse yarn that I got at the Unravelled knitting show earlier this year - it's made the chicken slightly larger than usual but given it a nice texture.  Instead of the wire legs used for the animation, this chicken has simple crochet feet - just as effective. I quite fancy making a small flock of them...

However, there are other things to be done first.  I designed this cow pattern over two years ago for a friend to give to a baby, so it is soft and very child friendly.  I had an enquiry about the pattern for it recently (OK, months ago now...) and have been meaning to transcribe my scrawl into a workable pattern for sale in my Etsy shop.  I actually began it this week - it might take a few more days to complete, but the pattern will be for sale soon.

We visited the Festival of Crafts at Farnham Maltings over the weekend.  Sometimes craft fairs can be a little disappointing, with the same old items being sold from table to table, nothing new or exciting.  However, we were pleasantly surprised this time - there was a lot of very original jewellery, some beautiful ceramics, interesting knitting and needlefelting work, lots of lovely cards and prints, and some things that defy description!  I bought this pair of gorgeous screen prints for the ridiculous price of £3 as I just love the scruffy crows.  I framed them straight away and now have to find a space on the walls to hang them.  The lady who made these, Jule Mallett, also had some very weird but truly captivating soft sculptures - see her work here.

On the easel : that double dog portrait...sigh...
On the needles: some unexpected bits for the animation!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

I Love Jellyfish!

So, suffering from withdrawal symptoms now that the animation work is over, I decided I wanted to design a knitted jellyfish.  It was not that hard to do - I have painted enough of them to know what they look like!

I chose a pretty varigated cotton yarn, although I kind of wish I'd used something else that was not quite so stripy.  Still, this has turned out well enough and at least Ihave the pattern written down so can always make another.
The top part looks a little like a hat...
The underneath was knitten in some dark blue cotton yarn, and the dangly bits were crocheted in the same.

This is just about life-size and hangs from a piece of clear line.  I've popped it in my Etsy shop already!
I'm still hammering away at this dog portrait - it's very tricky but enjoyable nonetheless.  I showed it as it is to a friend of mine who knew the dog while it was alive and it would appear I have managed to capture a likeness, so I can continue with my mind at ease!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

My Brain Hurts...

After not having any commissions for quite some time, it seems only fitting the the first one for a while is a real doozy!  The dog on the left is no longer with us and the family who want this portrait done were not very good at taking photos of their pets.  This and one other photo with a totally different pose of the dog are all I have to work with.  Initially I thought that both dogs were black - good job I didn't go down that route!

However, with a little help from Google images (thank goodness other people with chocolate labs take better photographs!) and a lot of concentration, I think I might be able to pull this off.  It is exhausting though, especially when you are very aware that this is to be a memento of a beloved pet.  A word to you pet owners - take lots of photos while your pets are still with you, you'll cherish them in days to come.
This is a little shawl I've been knitting over the past ten days or so - I really like the design of it.  However, I discovered about half way through it that knitting clothing no longer has the same appeal it used to.  I miss the challenge of designing something weird and wonderful, despite the fact that I moan and complain constntly while I'm doing it.  So I'm knitting a you do...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Where's Your Head At? Giveaway Result

What can I say?  I can only apologise for totally forgetting the giveaway draw on Saturday - that's what happens when you are having 'fun' cleaning the house, shopping and recovering from half a bottle of Beaujolais the night before!

So although the entrants were few, I picked a number with my eyes shut and the winner was Nicky Sayers - hooray!  If you can get back to me using the email at the top of the page with your address, I will pop the painting in the post to you.


I have finally seen the full animation, as well as the logo clip that caused such headaches, and cannot wait until it can be shown to everyone else - just two more weeks to go.  I saw things in the film that I had forgotten I'd made, it's been so long!  It's starting to get exciting - for now though, all I can do is direct you to the website.

Currently on the needles: a shawl and I am very bored with it now as I have an idea for something else more interesting.

Currently on the easel; double dog portrait in acrylics

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Sneaky Peek...

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (If not, why not?  The link is right there, look, up to the right...) here are some stills from the animated film I have been working on, Nudinits.

I knitted quite a few creatures, here  are a few.  The chickens have to be one of my favourites - still can't quite believe they came out of my head!
Here's mama pig, doing what pigs do best.
And looking quite proud about it too!
Of course, there's never poo without flies....I knitted them too!
Snails are always a problem in the garden - but I wouldn't mind a few of these, cuddly not slimy!
And finally, here's the cat in his litter box.  And yes, I had to knit the contents of the litter box too!

By the way, there are a couple more days left to enter my giveaway for the wave painting - just leave a comment and I'll do a draw on the 11th October.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Eight-Legged Freak

When I saw this pattern in the current Knitty pattern collection, I had to make it!  I wasn't sure how it would turn out, so didn't buy the wool specified but instead found something vaguely similar in our local shops.
I didn't realise quite what a large undertaking this would be - it was about ten days worth of solid knitting every evening - not difficult, just a lot of it as the octopus is life-size.
One evening was spent just sewing it together and stuffing it - each leg had to be stuffed as it was sewn in small increments.  I've been dreaming about this, and woken to be very disappointed that it wasn't finished!

My favourite part, if I had to choose, is the way the eye is made - red is a difficult colour to photograph under electric light, but you can see how lifelike it is.  This is a technique I can see me using in the future for other projects.

I think I am now suffering from a case of RSI so need to give the knitting a rest for a few days - not to worry, there are plenty of other ideas swimming round in my head!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Painting Giveaway!

It seems like a very long time since I held a giveaway - now I think there might be two in quick succession!

First up for grabs is this experimental piece I have been working on using Yupo synthetic paper and the new Derwent Graphiks paint pens.  It's a bit of a far cry from my usual work - all quite different, a very shiny surface to work on which could be literally scrubbed clean even when the paint is dry, and some bright paint pens that can be used either as pens or the pigment spread and diluted with a brush and water.  The finished painting is also quite shiny and the paper is ridiculously thin and flimsy but so strong.  The whole thing is A4 size (8 x 11 inches).

If you'd like this painting free, just leave a comment here and I will pick a winner in a week's time (11th October).  Doesn't matter where in the world you are, this paper is so thin it would probably float all the way!

On the easel: a double pet portrait
On the needles: still knitting that octopus...three legs to will be worth it I hope!