Thursday, 28 February 2013


Blorange... sounds like a cross between a Bond villain and a Dutch beer, but is actually a colour - albeit a made up one!

Confused? You should be. Blame the lovely Tracey Fletcher-King and Jen Maclean - their combined efforts led to the colour challenge mixing blue and orange. So I did. I mixed it on paper, and on my hands which now have a fantasy/sci fi aspect to them - can't quite decide if it's alien or elfin! There's also some on my clothes and a tiny splash on the carpet. In fact, there are so many 'tiny splashes on the carpet' that soon I'll have a whole newly designed floor covering - to match the paint spattered walls..

Anyway, I am unable to show you the result in its entirety due to it being my man's birthday card and I don't want him to see it in advance! I like chopping my art up though - adds to the intrigue!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Looking for your wings?

Bet you're glad you're not a Goldfinch. Imagine having to cling precariously to a prickly teasel stem while trying to fish out a seed. I hope it's worth all the effort!

Pushed myself a bit this week for Take a Word's 'wings'challenge and moved away from painting poppies to tackle a feathered friend.

I just started thinking about Angry Birds and so now have an image of me pulling back this stem and sending him somersaulting into piles of piggies... Waheeeeee...........

I've been buying up piles of beautiful nature books from charity shops with the intention of painting the subjects within, but up to now all I've done is look at the pictures! Thank goodness for these art challenges around blogland that often give you the little push you need to try something a bit different!

I'm also joining in with Gritty Jane's 'painting a day for 10 days'. It's been easy so far with it being the weekend... I'm not too sure that I'll find much time tomorrow - might have to be a quick finger painting!

While we're on the subject of wings... I wanted to share with you a special something.

Find your Wings - an Art eCourse with a difference

Last year I ran an art course that changed lives. The feedback I received from some of my students literally brought tears to my eyes. It's time to run it again.

This isn't a course where I'll teach you to paint like me. Instead it's a series of exercises that encourage you to find your own style - to play and delve deep into the recesses of the imagination that may have got a bit dusty over the years.

What happens?

We have five weeks of lessons via a private blog and Facebook Group where you can share your work and hang out with other students.

Lessons start on Monday 1st April - an auspicious date if ever I saw one - and run for 5 consecutive weeks, but the classroom will remain open for another few weeks afterwards so you can work at your own pace.

Cost is just £35 - that's £7 per week if my maths is correct. However, get in early and you can take advantage of my early bird discount and pay just £30. You'll need to register by Monday 4th March 5pm GMT to take advantage of this special price though.

Places are strictly limited so I'm able to give everyone my attention - so sign up now before they disappear in a cloud of magic fairy dust!

Find out more and sign up over here at my new sparkling website which I made last week!

Disaster - well, a very small one...

Does your common sense diminish as you grow older? I think mine may have done. Take today. I had just finished this perfectly respectable piece of artwork above - just a light poppy sketch I thought I'd knock up - I mean, it's been all ... what .... about 12 hours since I last did one...

Anyway, some sixth sense (obviously my common one) told me to scan it in before I attempted the next stage. I had decided to seal it with wax. Now, you might not think that's a bad idea - after all, it's only on an old book page which is pretty flimsy. As long as I don't leave the iron on for too long, all should be well.

And so it would have been... had this not been a piece of art embellished with oil pastel. Yes, that's right, a very waxy substance which when heated has a tendency to revert to liquid form and smoosh across the page. Delicate petals became a sticky mess. The art was no more.

At least I still have a digital version to share with my buddies at Sunday Sketches... Unfortunately though, the person whose birthday card it was intended to be may have to have something else!

Saturday, 23 February 2013


It's my son's birthday today and I feel a bit superfluous to requirements. My lounge is full of boys talking and playing superheroes. I am merely the provider of occasional sustenance, but even that isn't craved as they are far too busy busting up villains to eat - far more important apparently! They haven't seen the cake yet though - that may change their minds!

Instead I have retreated to the art corner where I can find my own entertainment and battle a few demons of my own. Blast that colour run... knock back that ill-proportion... Put myself under pressure to make some birthday cards for friends and naturally once one does this then nothing goes to plan!

I've also decided to play along with Gritty Jane and others who are creating a painting a day for 10 days. Well, I did two last night, so that's a very fine start! Might go for something a bit more challenging today... Off to try now (best check up on those boys too!!).

Happy 9th birthday William! xx

Friday, 22 February 2013

Happy Days

I've made myself a new website!

I'll be the first to admit that it's not the most amazing piece of coding ever to grace the world wide web, but hey, I didn't pay any fancy developer (mostly because I couldn't afford it - I have nothing against fancy developers...). It's not bad for a first go I think.

I would appreciate any visitors - in particular to the page entitled eCourse... (you know you want to.;..) There is naturally a glass of virtual bubbles and a selection of zero calorie canap├ęs for all guests. Have a mingle - you never know who you might meet...

This painting is the latest to grace the gallery. It's another mash up of my art. You may recognise the face, but I've been playing with upcycling some old table mats this week and covered one in swirling inks. This lady then consumed too much of the virtual champers and found herself spinning in a whirling vortex of colour as the paintings span around her. Someone should get her a coffee.... Quick....

Sharing the opening of my new gallery space with my friends at Paint Party Friday.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


I had a bit of a clear out this week. (Not too much Mum, don't get excited), but I didn't manage to clear half a cupboard in the sideboard which I fully intend to fill with art supplies currently cluttering up every available surface.

I must admit it did feel good and I vowed to tackle next the spaces filled with yellowing paperbacks. It's just it's not quite so easy to part with magical prose... and I will read them again... probably... someday...

Thank heavens for my Kindle I say. In the same way that iTunes has prevented CDs from taking over the house, this flat little electronic device is saving my home from turning into the British Library. And while it's not quite the same as holding paper in hand, it more than makes up for it on the ease of use and storage.

All Kindle need to do now is create some digital bookmarks and I'll be a happy bunny. Maybe they could start by using one of these I made earlier... for the Artist Playroom.

I make a lot of digital bookmarks. I love to chop up my work in PhotoShop to focus on the finer details or layer up a new look for an older image.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Who you lookin' at?

I've got my beady eyes on you sunshine - just watch yourself! Tap, tap, tapping on your door...

You've got to feel sorry for the crow family - much maligned. Not helped by this new series The Following - a serial killer obsessed with Poe. Creepy. This fellow is actually pretty friendly. He does have his eye on your jewellery though....

I bought a couple of bird books yesterday from a charity shop - I feel an urge to painted our winged friends (alongside the current floral obsessions). Had some of my poppy paintings printed up onto large canvas this week - the idea being to take them back to the galleries that showed an interest and see if I can persuade them to adorn their walls and tempt their customers. Wish me luck!

This fine black bird is thrilled to be visiting his brethren at the Take a Word challenge this week and he also put in a request to check out my friends at Sunday Sketches. Who am I to argue with him?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Tulips, frills and shoes

This picture doesn't really do the painting justice. I'm thrilled with how this turned out - it's a biggie too - destined to go over the fireplace on my man's new pad. Hope he likes it!

It came very intuitively. I love it when a painting almost creates itself. I think the experts call it 'flow'. I like a bit of flow :)

It's also a step away from poppies to - tulips!

Tulips are actually my favourite flower - especially the frilly ones. I guess I'm a frilly girl at heart. I love floaty skirts, beads and feathers to wear in my hair. I found these shoes on Pinterest this week:

Wish I knew where I could get them from! If you look through my style board you'll find a bit of theme going on!

In fact, seeing as I'm not dressed yet (despite being up for nearly 3 hours!), today I shall mainly wear 'hippy' with copious amounts of jewellery. Yes, there should be much jangling as I walk and sparkles - lots of sparkles!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Love birds

Well, it is the season... All snuggled up keeping each other warm and loved. So sweet!

Makes me come over all romantic. This is the card I painted for 'himself'. He's already opened it as it dropped through his mailbox today and he's a bloke so doesn't wait for the actual day. That's his excuse - I reckon he just couldn't wait!

Sharing with Inspiration Avenue's February theme.

Acrylic background, watercolour birds painted over gesso.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Mobile Phonebia

I was a bit of laggard when it came to mobile phones - resisting one for many years until eventually I gave in to their convenience. Then they became so much more than a telephone device and my interest increased. I'll admit that I was swayed by the cameras and text messaging and celebrity endorsement. David Beckham had the same phone as me (apparently... according to the adverts).

The trouble was though, that I'd have this technology at my disposal but in the end barely ever use it. I'm such a fast typist that texting felt like pulling teeth with its laborious tapping - and let's not go there with the apostrophes. I'm afraid that I like my words to be spelt and punctuated correctly so my texts always filled about three times as much space as everyone else. It  I had a decent digital camera and an iPod - I ended up using my mobile phone for ... well, making calls.

Two years ago this all changed as I clutched in my possession a top of the range HTC Desire. I loved that phone - it was app-tastic. I couldn't get enough of Angry Birds. I stopped blogging and creating. I was hooked.

Then after just a few short weeks of love, I dropped by shiny new friend in water. It was very wet water. I wasn't happy. It was broken. Given that I'd never before so much as scratched my phone, I had somewhat foolishly neglected to take out insurance. I was under contract for two years so forced to buy a far more inferior version than the one Vodafone had provided for free.

It wasn't the same. It was slow. The touch screen hated me. I could batter the thing to death and it wouldn't register anything, yet hold it up to my ear to make a call and lo and behold, suddenly it was taking photos, checking email and bashing piggies (anything but actually putting me through to someone and keeping them there for the duration of the call).

At last though, the day finally arrived when I was 'due an upgrade'. With much excitement I awaited the couriered delivery of my Samsung Galaxy SIII. I ripped open the packaging and carefully read the instructions to get started:

Remove back cover. Check.

Insert SIM card in this slot. Eh? It doesn't fit.... Am I doing something wrong?

I consult the Oracle (YouTube). One video promised to show me how. I watched some guy laboriously remove the cover only to point at the area and tell me that's where it goes... Yeah I know that - but it doesn't fit!

The next video kindly informed me that I needed a new SIM card. A micro one. How helpful.

Finally, after a trip into town to collect the card, I am hooked up, switched on and buzzing (yes, it keeps bleeping at me, but I'm not sure why...).

I am determined to make the most of every little corner of this machine - watch out for a sudden surge in Instagrams, Facebook posts, tweets, catch up TV and even, who knows... phone calls!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Girl with attitude

Yeah, that's right. I've got attitude...

When I can't get the eyes and nose right I just find a magazine picture that fits and stick it on - so there!

She's really looking down her nose at me isn't she? Scoffing that I couldn't get her features in proper proportion. I don't think she's too happy that I forgot to paint her hair back in either - nor that I didn't pay much attention to style or even colour. Rather too much grey in it for her liking.

Stroppy little madam isn't she?

I like my paintings to have a bit of personality though - kind of companionable (if that doesn't sound too 'I talk to myself bonkers).

Thought I'd share this for Sunday Sketches together with this 'girl with a hat'. Both painted last weekend at the arty gathering in Felixstowe. The former also fits perfectly with Take a Word's 'Mask'. What lies beneath?

Friday, 8 February 2013

Whispering grass

What stories do the fields and fells hold of times gone past? Battle fought, love declared and lost, joy or terror? What do they witness and record?

When the grass whispers its secrets do you listen through the layers? Do you hear the histories of those who trod before?

I have been building on this piece all week, adding watery layers of inks, stamping and writing - trying to capture that light when the sun shines through the rain and the landscape melts and shape shifts in the distorted view - as if Mother Nature herself is stirring under her earthy blanket.

And as she shifts I like to think that the murmurs of the past, written and recorded by the fairies, sneak out through the grasses to pass on a quiet reminder of what had gone before - one that you can only hear if you're in tune with the landscape and believe...

Something a little different from me this week for Paint Party Friday.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Simple on the outside

The simplicity of this sketch is what makes it so remarkable. One man on stage with a stool. One man off stage with a drum kit and you have the makings of a perfect comedy moment.

However, I couldn't help thinking about what must have gone into the creation of this performance. I stopped seeing five minutes of entertainment and instead marvelled at hours of planning and preparation, impeccable timing and a comic genius whose acting makes us truly believe that there is actually a full drum kit sitting in front of him, with a curious cat wandering onto set just at the right moment! And let's not forget of course the years of honing his craft.

As part of my day job, I recently created a two minute video sketch which was used at a conference. It took HOURS to make! First there was the research, writing and fine tuning. Then we had to source costumes and make up, find a location and set. On the day I even had to find a bevy of strong men to help move an incredibly heavy board table that was blocking my cameraman's view. Filming took four hours (acting is definitely not their usual day job!). Add to this editing and final tweaks and a simple two minute film became something of a cinematic marathon.

It was worth every effort though when the audience laughed in all the right places and memories of our VPs for Sales and Finance impersonating Austin Powers and Dr Evil will be indelibly printed on memories for many years to come! The hours and labour were forgotten - the final delivery was everything.

As creatives we don't need our audience to think too deeply about what has gone into our output. The end result, is after all the most important thing. The bit that goes behind it is all part of the magic - the secret wand-waving and ingredients we mix together to create the simplicity of the marvel. I rather like that.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Feeding the addiction

This poppy craving is getting quite out of hand. There I am doing my best not to paint red floaty flowers on everything when what happens... Barbara sits opposite me wearing an apron covered in the things!

I couldn't help myself...

I also succumbed to the art supply envy. Over the weekend I was confronted by shining coloured bottles, pots and tubes of the most delicious inks and sprays. I lusted after stencils and stamps and poured over papers...

I couldn't help myself... The postman came today with two parcels - I can't wait to get messy!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Royal perks

No disrespect intended, but it's funny how if you're royalty and overstay your session in municipal parking by over 500 years, you don't get a parking ticket!

The news today announced that that the much maligned Richard III has been buried under a car park for half a millennia. I bet that's got the Queen worried - no doubt she'll be steering well clear of construction sites for the foreseeable future.

I am intrigued though by these relatives of the deceased King that they have 'dug up'. Do you think they might wish to resurrect the Plantagenet line and stake a claim to the throne? More concern for Her Majesty...

I wonder if we'll ever find out if he really did order the murder of the Princes in the Tower. If he did, then frankly having a car park plonked on his head was probably just desserts.

In all seriousness though... what a story, what a find! Imagine the conversation when the diggers got home:

"Find anything interesting on your dig today dear? Any coins, broken bits of pottery?"

"Yeah, Richard the Third".


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Contented sigh

Ah such bliss. I have just returned from spending a weekend where the entire focus was to live, breathe, talk and drink art (well we almost consumed it... you know how it is when you're not concentrating and you dip your paintbrush in your coffee...). Seven lucky ladies met up by the English seaside to paint and make and boy, did we do just that!

I have not been so prolific in ages - helped by the creativity going on around me and the swapping of art stories and supplies, I churned out piece after painting. I dabbed and drew, sprayed and stroked (and even, at one small point, stitched!).

I could share more with you now than just this dreamy lady, but where would be the fun in that? I want you to come back tomorrow! And anyway, right now I have to get back downstairs to my work studio and pull out my paints again!

Sharing this sketch over a lusciously layered background of paint and tissue and stencilling with my friends at Sunday Sketches who I know will be so jealous when they read about my weekend!!  Did I mention how amazing it was?
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