Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby....

Hot off the drawing board, Derwent Drawing Pencils & Derwent Coloursoft Pencils on pastel paper.  Private commission.

Grandfather Clock..

I've been a bit quiet the past week - this is one of the reasons why!  This is a grandfather clock, about 18 inches tall, made from all sorts of bits and pieces covered in felt.
It took me quite a while to figure out how to make this.  Initially I thought to use card board boxes for the structure, but when it came down to it, I could not find any the right size plus they would be a bit flimsy if I cut them down.  However, i rarelythrow anything away that might come in handy in the future and stashed away I had a large piece of firm foam that had been the internal part of a tool box which was already semi-cut into small squares.  I also had some pieces of even firmer foam that had come as the packaging for something - can't remember what - which were ideal to use for the central section.  So I made three parts, the base, the hollow middle and the clock.
I appliqued some rather nice tweed and soome felt, embroidered with gold crochet thread.
I made the fancy bit for the top and the little piece for above the pendulum from foamboard and covered them in felt.  All the sections are held together with toothpicks in strategic places and then sewn firmly into place.
The pendulum is made from felt and stuffed, then embroidered with gold crochet thread.  It is suspended with a wire - the little scrolled piece hides where it is attached to the underside of the clock face.

The clock face is made from two pieces of card covered in felt.  I used some bought fake watch cogs and gears for the back part and embroidered the numbers on the face. The clock hands are made from an old ice cream carton and held in place with a tiny nut and bolt.  I sliced my finger open while making the hands - thank goodness I did not drip any blood onto a fortnight's work!  If there are any typos in this post, that is why as I have a large plaster on it!

You will have to wait and see what this is going to be used for...

 In the meantime, the garden is starting to look rather lovely.  Since the weather perked up, I have done an awful lot of work out there.
I re-turfed the 'lawn' - now it really is a lawn, not just a mud patch - and cut down/dug out a lot of old and unruly shrubs and the dying damson tree.  I replaced the tree with a young greengage tree I discovered going for a song at Lidls.  The old shrubs have been replaced by a vegetable patch.  Fingers crossed it all survives!

Friday, 4 May 2018

Velcro & 273

Just completed a lovely commission, the bear 273 with her cub Velcro who live in Katmai National Park, Alaska.  Velcro is now on his own and a lot larger than when this photo was taken!

Watercolour on paper, reference photo by kind permission of Carla Farris.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Maltese Terrier...

 Just a little something I crocheted the other evening.  I have quite a few Japanese pattern books, including one with Amigurumi dogs.  I can't read Japanese but the diagrams are pretty clear as the symbols are universal.
 I did have a spot of bother with this one as it was a combined pattern with a beagle and I didn't know which bit was what for the muzzle - I'm not entirely sure I don't have an ear for his nose!
Fun to do though, haven't made one of these for a very long time.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Stencilled Bears...

About a month ago in Ikea, I saw a set of wooden plaques with simple prints of a bear, a moose and some other animal that I can't recall right now.  I really liked the bear one but wasn't so keen on the other two, not enough to buy the set anyway.  I knew that with a bit of effort I could make my own version...so I did. 

I bought some wooden flooring samples from B&Q, and Mr. B kindly smoothed off the edges of them for me.  I found some side view photos of bears that I liked and used them to sketch out my stencil onto some thick watercolour paper the same size as the wood.  When I was happy with the outline, I carefully cut out the stencil using a scalpel.  This was slow and painstaking as I did not want to make a mess of those spikes of fur!

I then tried out the stencil on some paper using black acrylic paint.  This also serves the purpose of sealing the edges of the stencil as it dries.  After checking that all was how I wanted it, I then stencilled the bears onto the wooden plaques.  Once the stencilling was dry, I then painted the back and sides of the plaque with the black acrylic, smudging the edges around the front with my finger to create a slightly 'aged' look.  I rummaged around in my various supply boxes and found a couple of brass hanging thingies, nailed them on and ta-dah!  I'm very pleased with these - one is for me, the other will go in my Etsy shop once I have taken some better photos.

Little Dogs...

Here is the completed double dog portrait - the Shi Tzu was a delight to draw, the Papillon a nightmare, only because the reference photos for him were so bad.  However, with a little computer jiggerypokery enhancing the contrast, I managed to make out what was going on with his ears and was able to make a decent drawing of him.  The clients are happy, which is the main thing.  Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.

Next up, bears...followed by numerous dog portraits.  I'm booked solid for the next month or so!
Meanwhile, Spring has sprung and everything is sprouting and blooming - this is the view from my bedroom window at the moment and is usually populated with bluetits.  I have done all the gardening I can for the time being, now I just have to sit back and wait for it all to grow.

Thursday, 19 April 2018


I've been working on some flower & bee brooches - here are a couple of the completed ones.  The flowers are made from felt, the bees are knitted.  When they are all ready, they will be for sale in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

It's Dirty Work...

I have spent the past week transforming this....
...into this.  The grass after the winter (I won't even deign to call it a lawn) was sparse, waterlogged and full of moss.  Usually I re-seed it in the Spring, but that never seems to last, so I thought I'd try re-turfing.  First I had to dig up all the old grass & earth, break up the clods and level it out.  This took about five days as I did a little at a time - I know my limitations!  By Sunday it was ready for the turf.  Turf was delivered yesterday - the lorry driver and I discovered that the passage that leads to our garden was too narrow for the pallet with the turf on it...so we unloaded it all and the driver very kindly helped me take the rolls of turf into the garden.   Then after lunch I set to laying the turf - wow, that was very hard work!  At one point I thought I might very well throw up my lunch...
But it is done now - let's hope it lasts because I'm not doing this again!
Apaert from grubbing around in the dirt, I have been making some felt flower brooches as I have a request for a couple.  Now they just need the addition of bees...

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Pretty Polly...

I've had this parrot's head on my unfinished heap for over a year - finally turned it into the intended scarf.  It has a clip inside the beak to attach it to the tail when worn. 
Also completed this wide crochet cowl/scarf/wrap using up the yarn cake I had left from the previous shawl.  It's very versatile because I've sewn buttons on it!

Both items can be bought from my Etsy shop now.

It's A Little Shi Tzu...

I'm having fun with this commission so far - Derwent Drawing Pencils & Coloursoft pencils on pastel paper.  The second dog might not be so easy as the reference photos are very poor indeed.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

We Plough The Fields...

I put the finishing touches to this yesterday, just a purple wash over the soil to knock it back and bring out the horses' legs.

This is based on a photo I took at the Wealde & Downland Open Air Museum last year during a ploughing exhibition.  The giant horses in their full regalia are so beautiful and this painting has been at the back of my mind all winter.  This is not how I envisaged it at all - somehow attention to detail took over and this was the result - but I'm very happy with it nonetheless.

Currently for sale in my Etsy shop.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Getting There Slowly...

...very slowly indeed!  Far more detail than I had planned, but I'm liking how this one is turning out.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Heavy Horses...

In my head my paintings look very different to how they actually turn out.  I wanted this one to be loose, minimal detail, an impression if you will...
Instead it is tightly painted, every chain link & piece of tack painstakingly worked...and as for that plough...
Never mind, I'm liking it anyway!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Another Snow Day...

 Well, after a week of almost Spring-like weather, the snow came back with a vengeance over the weekend.  Being the weekend, it didn't affect us too badly - we had been for supplies early Saturday morning so could afford to take it easy and stay home as the snow fell.
 We awoke to this yesterday - a bit more than predicted!
 Some of us liked it more than others...
...especially to eat!  I'm surprised Daisy didn't spend most of the day asking to go outside for a wee, she ate so much snow during her walks.

The snow bear was made from the sweepings off the front path and off the top of my car - had to find some way to burn off a little energy!

Hopefully it will all melt away today - it's back to business as usual, places to go, things to do...

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Sad Tale With A Happy Ending...

Finished this today - this is a painting of a bear known as 451 who lives at Katmai National Park, Alaska. She has quite a story:

Back in 2015 when I started to watch the bears on Explore.org, there was a sow with two cubs. One day in the autumn after the visitors' camp had shut down for the season, one of the cubs staggered and collapsed by the side of the road right in front of one of the cameras. All of us who watched the cams were transfixed, waiting to see what would happen. Over three days the poor cub got weaker and weaker and finally died. The mother bear (451) sat next to him with the other cub the whole time, only leaving for a short breaks to catch a fish or two. When the cub was dead, she sat vigil over him for a whole night.

The next day the rangers came in a boat to remove the body for autopsy - they too had seen events over the cams and it was a golden opportunity for scientific investigation. When they arrived, 451 and her remaining cub walked slowly down the road, far enough away for the rangers to safely take the cub. After they had gone, she sat there where her cub had lain for the rest of the day. The whole thing was heartbreaking - I've always believed animals feel emotions and bereavement and this just proved it as far as I was concerned. 451 and her cub eventually slowly walked away and that was the last we saw of her that year.

The following year we hoped to see her return from hibernation with her cub. Sadly there was only one sighting of her limping past one of the cams...on her own. Again, desperately sad.

However, last year at the start of the season 451 showed up at Katmai with three tiny cubs! I was overjoyed to see this! I had watched her with her dying cub every waking minute I could, even taking the kindle to bed with me to check throughout the night as I was so emotionally involved and moved by her plight, so to see her with three healthy cubs and healthy herself was wonderful.

This painting was completed in watercolours using as reference a photograph taken by someone who was actually at Brooks Camp in the autumn, and who kindly gave me permission to use it.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Mystery Solved...

 I had a reply to my question, this wolf is apparently Nuka!  So glad to be able to title my painting properly.
This is not how I pictured this painting in my head, but it is progressing along quite nicely anyway.  This is bear 451 and her cubs from Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park - she has quite a story whcih I shall tell when the painting is finished.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Bit Of This, Bit Of That...

 Well, the Beast From The East (who thinks of these daft names?) has disappeared in a puddle of melt water, thank goodness.  I started knitting these during the big freeze but didn't manage to finish them until the weather had warmed up.  But if it happens again, I'm ready!  This is a pattern from the lovely book Woodland Knits and a golden opportunity to use the fabulous furry yarn that has been languishing in my stash for far too long.
 Also knitted a cowl using recycled denim yarn and adapting a pattern from the Japanese Knitting Pattern Bible - this is one of the less ambitious patterns, but very pretty nonetheless.  I look forward to trying out some of the more complicated ones in the future.  This is for sale in my Etsy shop.
Started this little watercolour yesterday - my painting time seems to be seriously depleted this week - hoping to remedy that today.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Well At Least Someone Is Enjoying It...

Daisy yesterday - I think it's her first snow!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Wolf With No Name...

I completed this yesterday - it went very quickly despite the amount of brushstrokes needed to render the fur!  Painted in acrylics on a canvas board.

This is one of the wolves we saw at the UK Wolf Conservancy during our visit last year - I took lots of photos with a view to making paintings from them at some point.  Unfortunately, what I didn't do was note down the names of the wolves as I took the pictures - I don't know which one this is.  I've sent an email to the Conservancy with the reference photo asking which wolf it is...I'm kind of hoping it is Torak, the one that escaped and went on an adventure a few weeks ago!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Artist's Block...

Sometimes creativity reaches an impasse.  No idea why, it just happens out of the blue and is extremely frustrating.  Last week - and the week before - I had the time to paint but could not think of a single thing I wanted to paint.  Then when I found a subject, the drawing went very badly indeed and two attempts went in the bin.  So it was time to step away and go and do some heavy gardening to take my mind of it and vent some of my annoyance!

Then I had a search through my collection of photos and found one I had taken at the UK Wolf Conservancy last year that I quite fancied painting.  Three attempts later, I gave myself a mental slap round the face and used a grid to map out the basic sketch properly over the top of the failed efforts, painted out the errors and then it was business as usual.  I'm pleased with how this is progressing and very glad that the awful mind fog has lifted!

Acrylics on Dalerboard.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Triangular Shawl

Amongst everything else lately, I have been slowly knitting this scarf/shawl for the past few weeks.  It's in an interesting yarn, cotton consisting of four fine strands which gradually change colour as you knit - it starts with a deep teal and ends up a deep orange.

I like a yarn that does something as you work - keeps it interesting!

This is now for sale in my Etsy shop.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Otis Again...

I have finally managed to source some hardwood discs without holes drilled in them in order to make some painted brooches.  Here is Otis the bear again, painted & varnished and ready to go.  I will take better photos when there is daylight as I cannot escape the reflection of the flash or overhead light when taking pictures after dark!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Little Bear At The Falls...

Whilst waiting for photos for the next dog portrait, it seemed a gold opportunity to paint a picture I've had in mind since last summer when I took a snapshot from the webcam of Explore.org at Brooks Falls.  Most of my snapshots from the webcams are pretty rubbish as far as artisitic composition is concerned, but this one came out nicely.  It was fun to paint as well - the bear itself did not take very long at all, but the water was quite an undertaking.

I've used watercolour on a piece of sample Arches paper - out of the six samples in the pack that I bought, I think this is my favourite to use as it holds the colour but also remains moist for quite a while so that you can work wet in wet for longer.

Next experiment, drawing on brown cartridge paper...

Monday, 29 January 2018


Mica, drawn using Derwent Drawing Pencils & Coloursoft pencils on pastel paper.  This one was a lot of fun to do - aren't they all!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Sometimes They Just Paint Themselves...

Here is the current work in progress - lovely looking cockapoo named Mica.  I don't have very good photos for this - too small, she's too furry, eyes don't show, but for some reason the drawing is going perfectly so far.  Despite numerous interruptions yesterday (doorbell, doorbell, doorbell, phone - argh!!) I managed to make good progress with it.  Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.

Monday, 22 January 2018


 These two peony paintings were a commission last year.  The lady that commissioned them was a previous customer and had been good at communicating and paid on time.  However, when I had completed the first painting and notified her, I was told there had been a death in the family and that she'd get back to me.
Well, she never did, and I was left with two paintings and no money.  Foolishly, as she had been fine the first time, I did not bother getting a deposit.  I waited a respectful while then contacted her again saying that both paintings were complete and that she could purchase them when she was ready.  No reply...and no reply to all further emails, culminating two months later in a final one saying that I was going to try and sell the paintings separately if possible.

I can understand that a bereavement would throw everything else onto the back burner, and I can understand that circumstances change.  What I don't understand is why someone doesn't have the courtesy to write a couple of lines apologising and explaining that they don't want the paintings any more - I'm a reasonable person, things happen that are beyond our control and we have to deal with them as best we can, I would not have been angry about the hours of time and effort I put into painting these.

I am now.

Friday, 19 January 2018


For Christmas I was given a box of Japanese watercolours that I had asked for - I'd seen them on the internet and was taken by the selection of bright colours and also the fact that there were metallic colours as well.  This is the first painting done using these paints - I chose a macaw in order to get to use pretty much all the colours available!  These paints were like a cross between gouache and watercolour, a bit chalky and not quite as bright as I had anticipated.  Great fun to use though as the colours stayed quite true and there didn't seem to be any muddiness when painting one colour over with another.
I didn't use the metallics on this painting, but have tried them out and was quite impressed with the effects obtainable although I;m not sure when I will use them!

Next up - paid work!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Pair Of Pretty Pooches...

Here is my latest commission, all finished.  Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.  It's so much easier drawing a white dog, the background paper does half the work when it comes to shading!

Next up, another dog portrait - a brown dog this time.