Saturday, 31 December 2016

Lurch - A Very Fine Bear...

 I completed this yesterday - it's a portrait of a bear known as 'Lurch' who lived at Brooks Falls,  Katmai National Park in Alaska.  He was a big and powerful old bear, took no nonsense, and I used to like seeing him on the live cams.  However, this July he stopped appearing and a decomposed body was found nearby that was pretty much identified as him by the teeth - it was quite sad, but part of the circle of life.  I didn't plan on painting him, I just happened to see this great photo someone had taken that I wanted to paint from, and the fact that it was Lurch was just lucky.

This has been painted in acrylics on canvas board, and was kind of a follow on from the wolf I painted earlier this month, both close up portraits with no background on square canvases.
 I'd like to do more in this style, just considering which animal to focus on next.
This watercolour portrait has been kept under wraps for over a month as it was a Christmas present for my nephew's wife in the USA.  Hopefully they have opened it by now - I've not heard anything...

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Steep Learning Curve...

Took my new camera for it's first outing yesterday - fog was possibly not the best weather for it, but I gave it a go.
I still have not got a clue what all the buttons and dials do - my son gave me a bit of a tutorial yesterday but I think it's just going to be a matter of trial and error in the end.
I suspect taking photographs with one hand while holding a straining dog lead in the other probably wasn't the best way of doing it either...

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


I crocheted Snoopy to keep Woodstock company - this is a good little kit.  Next up (when I get the time) Charlie Brown.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Post-Christmas Post...

 Well, Christmas is over for another year - I hope you all had a wonderful day full of family, love & laughter and that you got what you wanted under the Christmas tree.  We had a low key but fun day and now the house smells of cooked goose and is sprinkled with glitter. 

One of my presents was a kit to make the characters from Peanuts - who doesn't love Peanuts?  By the evening I had sobered up enough (!) to attempt the first one - Woodstock.  Next up, Snoopy!
A couple of days before Christmas I discovered that I was so well organised I had time to spare, so started a painting.  This is Lurch, a brown bear from Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, who sadly passed away this summer.  He was a big old bear, full of character and rather anti-social, but I did like him.  I was lucky enough to be given permission to use a photo taken by one of the cam watchers on the site.  I hadn't planned on painting any particular bear but did want a particular pose and this one fitted the bill - it's kind of matching the previous wolf painting - and it's just a bonus that it is of a well-known and loved bear.  This is in acrylic on board.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Polar Bear...

I knitted a polar bear - it's the same pattern as the brown bear I made last week, but due to the stretchiness of the Snowflake yarn, he is about twice the size!  He's also quite fat but that makes him cuddly.  Love this pattern, it takes just a couple of evenings to make.

A Wolf, A Cake & Mince Pies...

 I did manage to finish this yesterday, plenty of time left before Christmas.  This is a portait of a wolf called Maia who lives at the Wolf Conservancy in Reading.  I have painted this on board using acylics.  While I have a bit of free time, I want to do another portrait - a bear this time - in a similar fashion on a square board. 
 The Christmas cake has been iced - decorating cakes is not my forte, so I keep it simple.  There's enough alcohol in the cake to make you forget about the decoration...
Plus some more mince pies...

Monday, 19 December 2016

No Pressure...

Can I finish this before Christmas?  I think I can....
Acrylics on board.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Fantastic Beasts...

Just when I was getting complacent and thinking I had nothing left to make before Christmas, along came a rush-job commission to design and make a pair of soft toys based on creatures from the new Harry Potter spin off film.  This one is a Niffler... Not having seen the film yet, I was a bit at a loss, especially as photos on the internet were not very good. 
But I think I managed it OK - I kind of cobbled together two patterns that I have, a duck and a bear, and winged it for the rest.
I used my last supply of Gypsy eyelash yarn mixed with plain black DK, which made for a nice furry fabric.  You can't see it amongst the fluff, but he also has a pouch - apparently he stashes his stolen goods in there!
I also had to make on of these - a Bowtruckle.  I crocheted this in cotton, added a pair of bead eyes and embroidered on the mouth.  No pattern, again just winging it.

I'm pleased that a pair of small girls will not be disappointed this year!

As the last post dates are rapidly approaching, I think I can relax a bit now - no chance of completing anything else for Christmas!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

On Finding The Time...

 I'm thoroughly bored with just how much time organising Christmas takes, especially when you seem to be doing it single-handedly.  There are things I would much rather be doing - like painting this wolf for instance.  I started this acrylic last week and it is still very much in the early stages.  It is proving to be complicated as the fur is a mixture of white, brown and black hairs, but that's the kind of challenge I like.  Taking time out to shut myself off and paint for a couple of hours keeps away the Christmas madness!
I bought this gingerbread house kit for Stacie and I to make together as we have done in years gone by.  However, she told me she didn't want to do it (grr...mumble...) so I thought I would knock it up by myself.  Yeah....this is the last year I shall be doing a gingerbread house.  I thought it might be easier if I decorated the walls and roof first before assembling it as my piping skills leave a lot to be desired at the best of times.  Turns out I'm not much good at piping on the flat either, it's all a bit shaky and without the fun of having Stacie help me, it just became a chore.  I think we'll just eat the thing...

On the needles: a Niffler - yeah, I haven't got a clue either, I'm winging it.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Just Playing...

Having finished all the Christmas commissions early, I'm left with a bit of time on my hands.  An opportunity to make a few things for my own pleasure - doesn't happen often these days!  This funny bear is from a pattern sent to me by a friend - I couldn't resist him, with his big tummy and goofy expression.  It  only took one ball of wool and a couple of evenings knitting.
I also wanted to crochet some snowflakes and make a mobile - turned out very nicely although impossible to photograph in situ.  (Please notice the cute little bird clock we picked up in Ikea the other day....)
Meanwhile on the easel is a wolf - acrylics on board.  This is the very early stages, basically still just blocking in.  Should keep me occupied in the run up to Christmas!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas Presents...

 Here is a little commission I have just finished - a bear and a hummingbird.  Painted in watercolour with ink pen detail. 
And the other Christmas commission just completed, a small knitted pig's head trophy.

Now I just have to brave the post office...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Pretty Plush Polar Bear...

 Sometimes it is fun to do something completely different.  I've been knitting for so long this year that my hands are very stiff and painful, and while I still enjoy knitting, I felt it was time to have a little change.  I saw this pattern in the latest edition of Simply Sewing magazine and thought I'd like to give it a go.
 I used a couple of pieces of vintage wool blanket that has been felted, bought at a craft fair a couple of years ago.  I also decided to completely hand sew this - I can use a sewing machine but find it hard to control when making smaller items.  Just as well I did as some layers (ears & tail) were almost 2cm thick!
 The pattern had the bear embroidered with snowflakes - well, I didn't want to do that, I like a bit of realism.  So I looked up some pictures of polar bears feet and gave him some little pads instead, plus embroidered claws on his front paws.
 I like him a lot - he's very firmly stuffed, making him quite a substantial toy.
 Now all I need to do is find him a good home - any volunteers?

Made the first mince pies of the season last week - delicious!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Knitting & Stuff...

Well, Christmas is rolling towards us at a rate of knots and while I am busy with various commissions for presents, it has not been too manic this year.  The above is not a present but a scarf I took on to knit for a designer to be used in the photograph illustrating her pattern in an upcoming book.  The knitting was easy if a little tedious as it is a hell of a long scarf, but the blocking was incredibly hard.  The main body of the scarf is in garter stitch, which when wet stretches to twice it's normal length, and the leaf edging - 92 leaves in total - had to be carefully shaped.  Not easy when you are on your knees for best part of an hour!

However, it is done and once dry will go off to do it's job.  I calculated that I probably got paid about 50p an hour for this - not really worth the effort although it was enjoyable to make something someone else had designed for a change!

I have been painting, a portrait of two children, but I am loath to show it as it is a Christmas present for someone I know and there is the faintest chance they might see it and spoil the surprise.  Frustrating, as I am really pleased with this one but I guess it will have to wait a few weeks!
In the meantime, Daisy has a new anorak.  This was taken before she went for a muddy walk - the coat no longer looks like this and probably never will again!

On the needles: a pig's head....
On the easel: a bear with a hummingbird