Thursday, 31 December 2009


I can't believe that tomorrow will be the first day of 2010.  Is it just me or does that sound far too space-age.  Aren't we all supposed to be living in bubbles, wearing all-white papery disposable clothing and eating food that comes in fantastic colours, in vacuum packs?  I suppose some people do eat food like that but I'm thinking maybe I have watched Woody Allen's Sleeper just once too often.

Anyway, December has been really busy hasn't it?  I have hardly found any time for artwork which has been a little bit depressing.  I have spent nearly all the time I have had working on one coloured pencil picture in my sketchbook.  Based on some studies I did in the local park in early summer and a couple of photographs I took at the time, this picture has taken me a..g..e..s......!!  I have had a love / hate relationship with it while drawing it, but I finally finished it this morning and thought I'd share it here.  I have also included a couple of pictures I took at the end of a couple of drawing sessions, just to see the progress.  Not sure how interesting you will find them, but I have noticed other people posting 'progress pictures' and I find them really interesting.

I have never really used coloured pencils as much as I have recently but I find them really good to use in my sketchbook and, in the long process of re-gaining my drawing skills I have found them invaluable.  You really have to concentrate, it makes you think about where a mark has to go on the paper and the colour combinations you want to achieve.  After this picture I really want to say how impressed I am with people who use coloured pencil as their main medium!  I am feeling happy with this picture, and a little more confident with my pencil work, though as I was finishing the picture a book was delivered (a treat bought with some birthday money):

.... and as I flicked through it quickly my eyes fell on the work of Andrew Holmes and I nearly wept!  All drawn with coloured pencil on paper....

The little picture I have drawn, took me hours, spread over seven sessions.... how long must these take?!!  Like I said, I am thoroughly impressed with anyone who uses coloured pencils as their main medium! I am really only a beginner.  I'll get back to the drawing board...

If you would like to see more of Andrew Holmes' work it can be found at:
along with lots of other very talented people.

So, to round off for now I'd like to wish anyone who takes the time to come and read this a very happy and prosperous 2010.  I hope the year brings you all you could wish for.  Also, a big thank you once again to anyone who has been kind enough to leave comments for me, I can't tell you how encouraging you all are.  Wherever you are in the world, however you celebrate - have a good one! xx

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Paper roses

Just a quick post because I wanted to share this website with anyone interested.  I came across the artist Su Blackwell and her art after reading about her in a Sunday paper.  She creates the most beautiful paper sculptures from old books.

I can't think of a more beautiful way to make use of old books once they are past their useable sell-by date.  It is quite hard to actually recycle old books because of the glues and the different types of paper and card used to produce them.

Here is a picture of one of Su's creations  from The Independent newspaper this week -

Her website address is -


Thursday, 3 December 2009

More lilies considered....

I have not been able to draw in daylight since the weekend, until today that is (and typically today is very grey and rainy).  I decided to draw some lovely lilies I have in a vase, but just concentrating on the lines - not trying to deal with the shading.  I'm fairly happy with the pictures - it's definitely all good practice!

The perfume from the flowers is almost overwhelming!  I'm waiting for the sneezing to start!

The sun is just trying to break through now, so I'm going to settle down and see if I can work on a painting I started a couple of weeks ago.  I do like Thursdays!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Rain, rain go away...

The weather this weekend is horrible!  Just awful!  I have managed to finish sticking together all my Christmas cards which is great though!  This has been a good way of filling in the dark evenings.  Here is a batch of them, I know Polar Bears are solitary creatures, but is there a proper name for a group of them I wonder?

Here is also another picture I did of a polar bear, while coming up with ideas.  I have really enjoyed drawing them but feel a real urge now to get back on with some drawing from life again.  Today I set myself up a small still life and managed to work on it for a couple of hours, but the light has gone so quickly today I have had to abandon it half finished.  I won't be able to work on it now until Thursday, but I will definitely complete it.  The lack of decent daylight at this time of year is so frustrating.  I really want to get outside and do some drawing, but the weather just spoils everything! 

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Dashing through the snow...

Well he's probably ambling rather than dashing - here's the polar bear design I have painted for my Christmas cards.  I am busy printing lots off onto Bockingford watercolour inkjet paper and am really quite pleased with the results.  I can recommend the paper as a very reasonably priced way to reproduce your artwork.  You can buy more expensive and, one would assume, better quality inkjet papers but I am really happy with this.  I shall definitely use it again.

Today should be my final push at the Christmas cards, hopefully at the weekend I'll find some time to work on something fresh.  I have got lots of things I want to do...which first though...?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Cut, glue, draw, cut, stick....

I am spending my weekend producing Christmas cards.  It's the first time I have done it in nearly twenty years!  I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed myself, I'll post some pics when all is finished.  In the meantime, I have been flicking through my artwork and decided to post a couple more pictures.

The first one is a scan I made of one of my paintings which is now framed up and hanging on a wall.  It is nearly ten years since I did it, but I still quite like it.  I found the original picture in a magazine I think and really liked it.  The credits for the original photograph are pencilled in at the bottom of the scan.

The second picture is a study of a beautiful pink, Himalayan Poppy.  They grow in my garden - early summer and look fabulous for too short a time.  I painted this during the summer (pre. this blog) but looking at it today I thought I might share it.

Right, I'm going to make tea and finish my cards.  Then I will chill for the rest of the day.  Proper job in the morning.....

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Consider the lilies....

Well, I have to say once again a great big thank you to everybody who took the time to leave such lovely comments after my last entry.  You have all really made me feel positive about my work and I can't thank you enough.

Here are a couple more offerings, first a study of some lilies that I worked on over a few days.  I have resisted the urge to draw over it with pen!  I think I'll leave it the way it is.

The second picture is a quick watercolour sketch I did after a visit to Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland.  It shows only a small part of the ruins but there was a tremendous storm gathering, while this tower and the grassy slope that led up to it remained bathed in sunlight.  Not sure how well I captured it but it was beautiful at the time!  Dunstanburgh Castle is extremely dramatic, set on top of a rocky crag with the most stunning beach - Embleton Bay, sweeping away to the north.  Northumberland is my favourite place ever, I go back again and again!

I have also been naughty this week and treated myself to a lovely new book, 'Illustration Play' published by Gingko Press.  Gingko Press publish some great books - real eye candy (I'm speaking with my professional librarian head on now and, as far as I am concerned, 'eye candy' is definitely a technical term in librarian speak) it's always worth keeping an eye on their web site.  I am eagerly awaiting its arrival, I shall tuck myself up this weekend with the book, a pot of tea and some good cake!

While I am here, I'd like to share a photograph I took in Manchester of some street art by Shepard Fairey.  I know anyone who lives in Manchester will be more than familiar with it but it made my day coming across it the way I did.

I think the bags of rubbish, waiting to be collected underneath it, really illustrated how tucked away it was and, of course, how beautiful the piece is.  I stared at it for ages!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

I like birds...

I gave spent the weekend trying to come up with ideas for Christmas cards. The pictures have been copied from images found in books but I really enjoyed doing them. I am getting more and more relaxed with my drawing skills now, but really feel I need to loosen up quite a bit! I want to get much more flowy and free with my drawing. I try to put far too much detail in and fiddle around when I should stop.

Until I began this process of rediscovering my creative self, I had forgotten how graphic my art is. When I did my art foundation course (in the late 1980s) I focused on fine art. I feel now I should have focused on graphics. Why did nobody tell me?

Anyway, here are a couple of coloured pencil and ink studies I came up with as card ideas, I'm not going to use these but I quite like the studies anyway. I shall post the actual card design, after I have sent them out to friends and family!
I am also posting an ink and watercolour study I did of some pebbles. I love rubble! If I had been clever at science at school, I would have loved to have studied geology. But I wasn't, so I satisfy myself with a sizeable rubble collection. The picture is of fossils, pebbles, sea-glass and ceramics, found on beaches in Yorkshire and Northumberland.
When I have a minute I will design myself a better banner - the one I have at the moment is rubblish!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Baby steps...

Here is a basic little picture I have produced of the old lighthouse at Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast. It is going to be a thank you card for my sister-in-law, who spends half her life there, I do hope she likes it!

I have had my day off from my 'proper' job and have spent as much of my time as possible producing some still life work, and trying to learn to use my paints a little better. I really wish I had kept a hand in with my drawing over the last few years, but sadly I have been rolling along with the rat-race, feeling that art work was far too luxurious a thing to be spending my free time on when other jobs needed to be done. When I get the chance I will scan some pictures and upload them - maybe this coming weekend. I hope that as the weeks and months pass, there will be a noticeable improvement in my work!

Many years ago I was self employed, producing hand-painted fabrics and textiles along with a very good friend I met at art college. Our business did well, on paper, but we never managed to earn enough to actually give ourselves any kind of livable wage. It's a sad fact that that's just how it is for many creative people. So, the art gear was packed away, only to be dusted down a couple of times and never with any serious thought to trying to pursue a living out of it again. I think my confidence had taken a rather large battering too. But life is too short to let that govern your life.

However, I'm older and (a little) wiser and, am looking to hopefully begin to earn from my art work again. If I can just get enough to pay the mortgage and the bills, that would be a wonderful start. We'll see. For now I won't give up the day job!


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