Wednesday 30 November 2011

Constructive Criticism

Two days ago I thought this painting was finished but wasn't quite sure.  It helped to have a friend, who is the least arty person I know, mention that the bit above the sun needed lightening up - which then made me look at it again and realise she was right.  Also, as she is non-arty and usually impressed with anything I do, no matter how bad, for her to notice a fault meant it was glaring.
Then my son, who is arty, mentioned tonal values and unifying the painting by bringing more orange into the sky...and I knew that he was right as he has a pretty keen eye for these things himself.

So after an afternoon of working on this, I can confidently say that it is now finished.  I always find it so odd that you can work on a painting so closely but never see something that needs correcting even though it is right under your nose.  Once I spent hours drawing and painting a Greek house, only to have my tutor point out that the perspective of every single line of it was completely wrong - could I see it? Nope! But once it was mentioned, suddenly it was clear that it looked like the crazy house from a fairground.  Do any of you have this problem or is selective blindness just peculiar to me?

Monday 28 November 2011

Christmas Dove

This is the first post I have added since getting a new computer - boy, was it tricky!  My last computer blew up when we had a power cut a few weeks ago and I have been struggling along with an old reconditioned one, so thought it time to replace it.  But technology has moved on in leaps and bounds and half my trusted programmes now no longer work or if they do, it involves a great deal of convoluted jiggery-pokery (technical term....)  I do so hate getting a new computer as it takes weeks to get it fine-tuned to how I like it.  On the other hand, having a lovely smart screen that I can actually see properly now is a big bonus!

This bird is made of felt and has a little red heart sewn to his chest.
The tops of his wings, head and tail are all embroidered with gold thread and he hangs by some clear filament.

He will be on my stall at Tavistock Infant School Christmas Fair this Saturday - always assuming I make it that far.  I have 5 paintings that need framing to go in the local Fleet & District Art Society exhibition on the same day and in the meantime I am sitting here off work with an extremely painful infected tooth and unable to get on with anything constructive.  Perhaps it is my body's way of telling me it's time to slow down. If I can only hold out for 5 more days, I'll slow down then.......

Thursday 24 November 2011

Almost There....

From being one of the most daunting paintings I have undertaken for a while, this has suddenly become very close to being finished.    It has been quite a challenge - I didn't realise how many colours and nuances of hues would be in this when I agreed to take it on - but it has also been enormous fun. Such a change of pace after using coloured pencils for most of the year!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Christmas Flocking.......

One has flown the nest, three more have gathered.....they must have heard about the mince pies in the kitchen.

Monday 21 November 2011

Well, It Made Me Laugh......

When I saw this dinner mat in Boston, I had to have it for my dog, despite it being the only one in the shop and hanging up as a display.  They kindly got it down for me and knocked 50% off the price as it had two tiny holes where it had been hanging - it was meant to be!  I think Clovis identifies with the sentiment 100%.......
I finally got an uninterrupted afternoon yesterday and made some serious headway with the sunset painting - it is really coming together now and I am starting to like it.  Phew!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Oh Poor Rudolph!

I liked this pattern I invented so much, I knitted another one for sale in my shop.  This one bears more of a resemblance to a reindeer than a stag - different yarn I think.
So if you'd like a mini hunting trophy for your mini stately home (he's roughly 4 x 4 inches, that's 10 cm x 10 cm) then come and visit my shop.
After a horrendously interrupted week which did nothing for my creative juices, yesterday I finally managed to make some decent headway on this painting.  I discovered that adding 'flow enhancer' to the paint water helps to get the colours blending as they should - I find canvas a very difficult ground to work on as it's rough texture does not suit my style of painting.  Thankfully this now seems to be going in the right direction.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Why I Rarely Get Bored.........

This week I have painted a silk tie with a picture of a water flea.......
.....knitted a television.........
.....and started a very large acrylic painting of a sunset.  This is just the blocked in painting, no detail or proper painting yet, just the basic colours and shapes in place ready for the hard graft.  It's been a very long time since I painted anything this bright or as large, so I can feel those rusty cogs creaking as I get back in the swing of it.

This is the last of the outstanding Christmas commissions (for now!) - I've worked very hard since coming back from holiday, but it's been worth it to get it all done in plenty of time.  If anyone is thinking about asking me to make/paint anything else as a Christmas present, grab me now while there are still a few weeks left!

Monday 14 November 2011

The People's Potatoes - Now For Sale

After the book launch party of last week, I now have a box of books here for sale.  This book can be obtained through various other sources, but if you buy it here, I get to keep a little bit of commission!
As you can see, the book costs £20 (overseas buyers may like to buy it through my Etsy shop where the price is in dollars) plus post and packing. 
The book is a hardback, beautifully published with lovely glossy pages which show off my paintings really well.  Apart from the illustrations, the text is interesting and informative, with a first section telling you how to grow and look after your potato plants, and the second section containing a 'top 100' varieties of potato, with all my paintings.
There are 100 of them.....yes, 100 paintings which represent 18 months of my life!
I promise to sign each copy if you want me to, just let me know.  To order the book, either e-mail me at or go straight through Etsy.

Sunday 13 November 2011


Here is the other portrait in the pair, ready to go off to it's new owner. Once again, this has been executed using Derwent Drawing Pencils, with white acrylic for the highlights.  This picture whizzed along - sometimes they just flow and it is surprising how quickly they are completed.  Perhaps because I enjoyed it so much due to it's resemblance to my old dog.

Next on the easel is something totally different - a large bright acrylic, yet another Christmas commission.  It will be strangely liberating to paint something large and loose - all my work for the past year or so has been so tight and detailed.

Friday 11 November 2011

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Christmas Bird...

I'd been asked to make a bird out of Christmas fabric, which gave me the perfect excuse in Boston to visit the discount fabric store not once, but twice.  It was hard to choose between all the wonderfully festive prints, but I had to go with small patterns and colours that coordinated best, so that narrowed it down quite a bit.
His wings and tail have been embroidered with gold thread, and he has a delicate gold crest on top of his head.
He stands about 6 inches high, so will be a fine addition to the Christmas tree next month.  I was hoping to make a few more before the festive season....not too sure whether that will happen or not with the workload I have!
I've been working on the other Cairn terrier portrait this week, which is coming along nicely - Derwent pencils don't like being photographed under artificial light however, but you can see enough.  This has been a bit of a poignant job - this dog's face resembles my late Jasper so much that I find myself getting a little tearful at times.  Silly I know, but drawing something is a very intimate process as you are exploring every aspect so closely.

Monday 7 November 2011

Potato Party!

Last night I went to the launch party of The People's Potatoes which was held at the Waitrose Conference Centre in Bracknell.  It took us a while to find it - who knew that Waitrose own a trading estate the size of a small principality?  They even have their own sports and leisure centre....

No surprise to find the buffet was a selection of potato crisps and small jacket potatoes!  There was also lots of champagne on offer.
Copies of the book were everywhere, and the cover design had been made into placemats!
There was a small slideshow about the process of writing the book - and I got presented with an enormous bouquet!
After that, it was more mingling and I had to sign lots of books - that was the most peculiar feeling, people asking me for my autograph.  I think I like it!

So that is over, now we just have to sit and wait for the book to become a best-seller...talking of which, I should have my box of books for sale by the weekend, and they will be available for mail order through this site or my Etsy shop.  I promise to sign your copy too........

Sunday 6 November 2011


Here is a portrait of a little Cairn terrier, waiting now for the portrait of his partner in crime.  This has been executed in Derwent Drawing pencils, but due to the neutral grey of the background which was echoed a great deal in the colour of the dog's fur, I have also used black Chinese brush pen for the deepest darks and white acrylic to make the highlights and white hairs really stand out.  This was quite a difficult one for me because of the background colour, but I am so pleased I persevered as I think it works well.  His little pal is a nice shade of ochre, so should be a lot easier to draw!

Tomorrow is the day of the launch party for The People's Potatoes book.  I have my smart blouse and trousers ready, and am trying to remain calm although I am really quite excited.  You can see the book for sale here - first sighting of it in the market place!  More on the launch after it happens....

Thursday 3 November 2011


Another Christmas project completed - this quail has been made for a friend of mine.  I've used a cute fabric that looks like newsprint, with various shades of amber and brown for the wing and tail 'feathers'.
I'm slowly working my way through the list of projects to be completed before Christmas - it's not looking quite so daunting any more!

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Back to Work....

The first of the Christmas orders is complete - feels like a while since I did one of these.
Always fun to pose them in life-like positions - watch out Mr. Mouse!
I'm having a little difficulty with this - the dog itself is a joy to draw, but the colour of the background is proving troublesome as it is the same tone as a lot of the dog's facial hair.  I'm sure once the whole thing is more established it will be fine......