Sunday, 8 December 2019

Here There Be Dragons...

 I was commissioned to crochet some fingerless mitts with dragon scales, and was given a couple of photos to work with.   I searched the net for a free pattern and found one that was sort of what I wanted, but upon starting it, realised it needed some tweaking.  The yarn I'd chosen was perfect but thinner than normal dk so I had to increase the stitches.
 Then I realised that having the scales all around the mitt would make it very bulky, so started yet again but incorporating a flat palm.
So after a couple of false starts, I finally had a pattern that worked.  I love how the yarn changes colour exactly with each row of scales - very much more luck than judgement!  I like these so much that as I ordered twice as much yarn as needed, I shall make another pair.

And that's the last of the Christmas commissions - I have a lot of other work waiting in the wings but I can afford to take my time over it and hopefully do my own thing for a couple of weeks.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Peanut...

 This is my last piece of commissioned painting before Christmas - a wooden disc with a portrait of the bear Peanut on it.  This can be used for a Christmas tree ornament or hung up on view all the year round.  I deliberately made it un-Christmassy!  The disc is only about 2.5 inches across, so most of this had to be painted with the assistance of my magnifying lens headset.
This is the back of the disc, a watery pattern.  When the ornament is sent off to it's recipient, it will have a better hanging cord, not a piece of old string!  The string was used while the varnish was drying.

So while I have a few painting commissions waiting in the wings for after Christmas, it's time to take a bit of a break and re-charge my batteries while geting ready for Christmas and my impending 60th birthday.  60?  I never thought I'd make it past 40!

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Surprise, Surprise, Another Bear...

This is Peanut, bear 902, another Katmai bear.  This one is a little smaller than previous stuffed bears - simply because the real bear is a petite little sow too.

Currently for sale in my Etsy shop.

I think that might be the last stuffed bear until after Christmas - time for a well earned break!

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Baby Bear Bauble...

Painted yesterday with the aid of magnifying lens head set - no way could I paint this without help!  For sale in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Yet More Bears...

 I'm slowly getting through my commissions, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I have been sewing bear 128 Grazer this week - love her fluffy ears!  This one already has a home to go to, must be the quickest sale on Etsy I have ever had.
Finished the final box in a commission for 4 yesterday too - I love Otis but I'd really like a rest from painting him for a week or two!

Still to come?  I don't know, I'll have to check that list...

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Otis, Otis, Everywhere...

Two more Otis bears - my life is revolving around Otis at the moment!  One more trinket box to paint for now, and a few different toy bears to make.  Good job I like bears...

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Box Of Bears...

 I've been a bit busy of late - not only have I had to make 9 felt monkeys for an animation, I have also got an order for four of these painted boxes to fulfill by the end of the month.  Three complete, the last one nearly done.  I think I would be able to paint Otis the bear with my eyes shut now!
Lining the boxes has been a nightmare - the fabric I ordered came from Australia as it was simply perfect with it's salmon print.  However, nothing prepared me for finding out it was silky and stretchy and definitely did not want to be manhandled into a box.  I ended up using about 30 small clamps to hold the edges in place while the glue dried - worth the effort though.

Also sewing a number of stuffed bears, also Christmas commissions.  So with the glue and the fluff, it's a bit messy round here!

Friday, 15 November 2019

Monkey Business...

This week I have been mostly making monkeys...

Friday, 8 November 2019

Popeye...A Winning Bear

Hot off the easel, here is a painting of bear No.634, known as Popeye, who lives in Katmai National Park, Alaska.  Watercolour on paper.

During the summer an American magazine called Travel Guide ran a competition with the first prize being a painting by me of the winner's favourite bear seen at KPS.  I was expecting to have to paint Otis for the umpteenth time, but got a welcome surprise when the winner chose Popeye - he really is a magnificent bear.  We searched through various photographs to use as a reference and found one that we both agreed upon, taken by Theresa Bielawski who very kindly gave me permission to use it. This one was an absolute pleasure to work on, and I am so pleased to learn that the recipient loves it too.

Now it's back to the various commissions that have to be done for Christmas!

Friday, 25 October 2019

Bears'n'Monkeys...

 I completed this one a couple of days ago - watercolour on paper, private commission.
Also done a little bit of monkeying around...

Monday, 21 October 2019

Tiny...

Just a little snippet of my current commission...

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Woah!

Partaking of my weekly wander through the garden centre, I spotted a familiar book on the shelves!  The Nudinits Christmas book came out a couple of weeks ago - I spent many weeks writing patterns for it at the beginning of this year.  It was a lot of work and it is great to see it for sale in a shop, especially as it was on the same shelf as a Mary Berry book!
We went up to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace on Saturday to join the author of the book & creator of Nudinits, Sarah Simi, for a showing of a couple of animated shorts and a chat about the book in the theatre area.  It went very well - everyone laughed in the right places & nobody walked out - and ended with a bit of book signing.  Those are my hands on the screen, knitting away despite very sweaty fingers!

Check out the book - it's very funny and the patterns are excellent...does not contain patterns for the characters, just naughty knitted Christmas decorations.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Peanut!

 I had a sweet little commission this month - to design & make a replica of Bear 902 Peanut! 
 I have to admit that I had to think about this for quite a while before I knew how to go about it.  I bought some different fur fabric (called wolf hair for some reason) and hoped that it would be OK.
 Cutting the pattern was quite tricky as I had to ensure the fur lay smooth and in the right direction in all pieces. 
After I sewed the ears on, it all looked a bit weird, like a very hairy rat and I was a little panicky!  However, after taking Peanut out into the garden and giving her a very good haircut, suddenly she emerged looking pretty good.  A little bit of shaping with some stitching around the face, and she was ready.  Off she goes in the post tomorrow to surprise someone...

Friday, 11 October 2019

Bearfaced...

Whilst waiting to find out what my next commission will be (I know it will be another bear, but which one...) I dashed this one off to warm up.  Watercolour on paper.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Look What Came...

 Earlier this year I did a LOT of work designing & writing patterns for a new Nudinits book - and here it is!  My copy arrived yesterday and I've got to say, it's a doozy!
It's always great to see your name in print!

The book is on sale now.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

River Lyn, Devon...

On Tuesday I finally had several hours free to devote to this one.  It was more or less complete but needed a couple of extra touches and varnishing yesterday.  This is the view we had from our holiday cabin in August - quite something!  Acrylic on canvas and a bit larger than I normally paint.

I already have two people interested in buying this, but if they fall through, it will be for sale in my Etsy shop.

*SOLD*

Monday, 30 September 2019

Otis & Grazer...

...yes, I've been sewing yet more bears.  I wonder how many of these I've made in total...

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Nearly There...

Yesterday I finally had some time to work on this properly - it's been a hell of a week with all sorts of problems to deal with, including floods in the kitchen due to an overflowing gutter pouring through the boiler flue.  I also had the hospital check up on my "new" eye - all is well and I am back on the waitig list for an op on the other eye.

So this is an acrylic painting, first I have done for quite a while, on canvas. I usually avoid canvas like the plague as I don't like the way it bounces under the brush, but for a landscape that is not a problem.  I had hoped to complete it in time to enter a little competition of river paintings but as that closes in two days time, I don't think I'll make it!  It's been a fun painting to do though, and I am very happy with how it is turning out.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Meandering...

I've made some progress on this but have not had as much time as I would like to spend on it.  I got a bit confused with the water in the middle, that might have to be done over.  Onwards and upwards...

Friday, 20 September 2019

River...

I started a new acrylic canvas this week, working from photos I took of the River Lyn while on holiday.  Forgot how labour intensive acrylics are!  This may take some time...

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Monkeying around...

 This one is all my own design...
 ...fully poseable...
 ...ready for mischief!
Still finding it hard to sew under electric light in the evenings, but at least the brown felt was marginally better than working in black. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Waterfall...

I had a few spare hours today and put in some time on this -it's now complete.  The camera has made the greens a bit lurid - they are more natural than this in the actual painting.

This is a small waterfall we came across in Lynmouth, Devon while on holiday.  We stayed next to the river Lyn in a cabin and I used to take the dog exploring along the riverbank through the woods - beautiful scenery.  I am sure there will be more river paintings further down the line!

This is painted in watercolour on paper and will be in my Etsy shop soon.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Further Progress...

I'm really enjoying this one, taking my time with it.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Cataracts...

Just started this watercolour of a small waterfall that we discovered while hiking next to the River Lyn in Devon.  It was stunningly beautiful and I can't wait to get on a paint the rest of it.  Thankfully I have now settled into the new position of painting with my back straighter in order for both my eyes to focus on the paper.  Seems to be working OK!

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Apples & Bears...

 I finally sat down and made a concerted effort to finish this little painting yesterday.  As it is the first painting since my eye op, I'm very happy how it has turned out.  I've had to change my painting position a little to account for the fact I cannot wear my reading/painting glasses any more so have to wear the varifocals with one lens missing.  It means I have to sit back a bit (better posture at least!) but after a while you get used to it. 

This is a watercolour on tinted paper and will be in my Etsy shop soon.
Last year we had only two apples on our tree - this year it appears to have over-compensated!  This box load is from one branch alone.  I don't know what to do with them all - how can I store them without them going bad?  There are only so many crumbles and pies we can eat...

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Holiday Sketches...

 The view from our holiday cabin in Devon was stunning and I wanted to get it down on paper if I could.  The only problem was that if I sat down, I could not see it!  So this small painting was achieved standing up with the pad in one hand, brush in other, and paints on the coffee table.  Not my chosen way of working but I am pleased with how it turned out.
 The second sketch was a closer study of the water - this one I could do from a chair on the balcony, the only problems being the very bright sunlight and the dog drinking my paint water.

Interestingly, with each day that passes I am noticing that the eye I had the cataract removed from sees colour so much brighter now.  I am wondering just how badly having cataracts has affected my colour perception when painting - probably just as well I have been painting brown bears a lot!  I just cannot wait for the other eye to be done.
Hopefully now the catching up from being on holiday is done, I can get back to this little cutie - he's already got a buyer so I had better get a move on!

Monday, 26 August 2019

Refreshed & Raring To Go...

I've just spent a week at this wonderful place in Devon - a well needed chance to step away from the world and re-charge my batteries.  I can't wait to get back to painting...once I've finished sorting out the mess we seem to have brought home with us!

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Still A Grey Area...

It turns out that while I am able to paint during daylight hours after my eye op, sewing under electric light is still a problem.  It took me three evenings to make this tiny panda, mainly because sewing black felt was nigh on impossible to see! I've got my 'new' eye with no glasses prescription for close work yet and my other eye still labouring with a cataract and dull vision.

Yesterday I looked at the half finished article under daylight and was horrified to see places I'd missed, resulting in holes with stuffing showing through and worst of all, thread wrapped around one arm in a tight loop where I had supposedly sewn the thread joints.  Oh dear...

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Bearly There...

Wish I could devote more time to this, but it's getting there.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Taking It Slow...

I had drawn this picture out before my eye op, then ruined it a few days ago by painting in a background that looked like a five year old had done it.  So I started it again and yesterday began painting - it's a bit difficult with my 'new' eye and my old glasses, but I need the glasses in order to focus this close.  I can work for about an hour before getting tired - that's OK, there is no hurry.  I'm just glad to be able to put brush to paper!

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Update...

It's been a week since my eye surgery and all has gone well.  It took a few days for the blurriness to subside but now I am seeing incredibly well from that eye - it is amazing the difference it has made to clarity and colour.  I can't wait to have the other eye done, but that will not be until late September/October.

In the meantime, I am trying to find a way to get back to painting.  Initially I was still wearing my old glasses but it reached the point where one good eye and one duff eye was meaning my vision was a bit wonky both with and  without glasses.  So after consulting the optician, I have had the lens on the left removed from my glasses which has made things better - felt a bit seasick at the beginning but after a couple of days my brain adjusted to it!  It's still a bit tricky to focus on close work - the first brushstrokes I made a couple of days ago ruined the work I drew out before my surgery and I have started again.  But yesterday I was able to draw with very few problems - can't do it for too long yet though.  Same goes for sewing/knitting - it's do-able but not for long periods.  But it's early days still - every day gets better!

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Eye Can See Clearly Now...

 ...well, no actually I can't just yet!  I had my cataract surgery yesterday, plus a new lens put in my eye.  It was quite uncomfortable but not nearly as bad as I had been playing it out in my mind for the past few weeks.  The operation only took about fifteen minutes, then I was sent home with a plastic shield taped to my face and a bushel of eye drops to use over the coming month.
It will take a couple more days for the blurriness to go - I can't wait to see what I can see!  I have noticed one significant difference already though - for weeks, nay months, I have thought that the light bulbs I have been using in the living room were faulty and too dim - turns out it was my eye that was dim, everything is so much brighter now!

I guess no crafting or painting for a while - I'll have to find something else to keep my hands occupied or go crazy!

Monday, 29 July 2019

48 Hours To Go...

48 hours until my eye operation and I'm trying to get all outstanding work out of the way.  The toy Otises are done, the box needs lining and another coat of varnish.  I have one other small project that I could do with completing if I have the time.  I'm hoping that once the initial blurriness in my eye clears that I will be able to paint again - it could be a long time until the other eye gets done.