Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sinister goings on, or to put it another way, are you a South-paw?

Credit: Alex Zonis (Pencil Scribbles)
An interesting fact, which I did not know, is the word 'sinister' comes from the Latin sinestra which means left handed - as it was considered evil back in ancient times to be left handed.  Once upon a time in Japan being a left handed wife was grounds for divorce - although wouldn't the husband have noticed that before he married her?? Also if I'd been born in the middle ages chances are I would have been burnt at the stake or drowned for being a witch. 

Driving home the other evening, I was listening to BBC Radio 2 (I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm officially too old to listen to Radio 1 any longer - it's just all noise!).  Anyway, Chris McManus, a psychologist who has written a book called Left Hand Right Hand was on talking about about whether genetics determine if you will be left or right handed and the fact that although in the minority, there are enough left handed people (of which I am one) around to indicate that it is something more than just random (as otherwise we should all have died out along the way from natural selection as opposed to being accused of witchcraft!)
Anyway, he went on to say that studies showed that left handed people appear to have an affinity for mathematics. Well, I had to resit my maths O'level so either I'm the exception to the rule or it really is just a matter of chance and nothing to do with what hand we write with.  He also said that the notion that left handed people had a greater propensity for genius was something put about by left handers and not actually based in reality!

However an American scientist, Dr Alan Searleman back in 2000 stated that "Left-handers have a higher 'fluid' intelligence and better vocabulary than the majority of the population. This is perhaps why there are more of them in creative professions, such as music, art and writing." - Now that's more like it.  Although he did also say we tend to be more forgetful, clumsy and have a shorter life span!

I had heard before that left handers were supposed to be more creative and finally I'll get to the point of this post - just out of interest I wondered how many of the other arty crafty people who read this blog (or may stumble upon it by chance) might be left handed.

It was also a good opportunity to use the amazing picture above which I found recently when I came across Alex Zonis who is a fellow artist also taking part in the Sketchbook Project.  The theme she picked is 'A day in the life' and her sketches (a totally inadequate word when you actually see these amazing drawings) are of different people in her neighbourhood.  They are absolutely outstanding and you can pop over to Alex's blog, Pencil Scribbles to have a look for yourself. 

I saw this painting of the hands on her blog and at first I genuinely thought it was a photograph. I think it is amazingly detailed and just stunning.  So I asked Alex if she would mind me using it as an illustration to this post and she kindly said yes.  Oh, and Alex is right handed - which probably blows my left-handed artist theory right out of the water!!

So, just out of interest I'd love to know - are you a leftie or a righty?? 

Friday, 29 October 2010

This is why I didn't sketch last night...

I didn't manage to get out to my 'studio' at the kitchen table to sketch last night. Below is the reason - not the dog - she was too comatose from the heat emanating from our fire, no the fire itself is to blame. S lit it while I was up getting showered and when I came downstairs the living room was all toasty warm, Brodie was spreadeagled on their cushion in front of it and Reuben (the other dog) was waiting patiently to sprawl himself across my lap! Plus there was a Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum and Diet Coke (I felt it needed all capitals) waiting on the coffee table for my arrival, the glass all condensation from the cold nectar of the Gods, just crying out to be sipped in front of some no brainer TV! What's a girl to do?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sketch 18 - oh la la C'est Paris!

This is yet another sketch which I did using a beautiful photograph from Paint My Photo.  This one was taken by Joseph Latos and it is of a bridge over the River Seine.  In the photograph, I just loved the dark of the bridge against the sunset sky in the background and the way it reflects off the water - if you've seen some of the other sketches I've done recently you'll see a bit of a theme developing - it's my favourite sort of scene as it lends itself so well to ink and watercolour.  Again I only hope I've done the original photograph justice.

Credit: Joseph Latos

I feel like I'm really running out of time now to get the sketchbook finished as in 3 weeks today I'll be off in New York getting married (I may have mentioned that once or twice recently!!) so needless to say sketching is the last thing on my mind at the moment as I've been running round trying to sort out last minute niggles and dress fittings etc. 

When I do get a minute at the moment, I've been more inclined to park my lazy bahooka on the sofa in my fleecy pj's (I'm such a fashionista!) alongside S and the pups.  Even more so since the weather has turned so cold and we've been lighting the wood burning stove - sitting out in the not so warm kitchen sketching while the fire blazes next door in the living room is not really very appealing!

After another moan from me saying I just couldn't wait for the sketchbook to be filled, S did suggest just sacking the idea as it's taking up so much time and keeping me from doing other sorts of artwork that I want to do but I've worked so hard on it this far that I'm determined to see it through to completion - especially since they've added another 3 American Cities that the exhibition will tour round.

Still, I'm changing jobs when I get back from honeymoon in December and I'll have time off over the Christmas and New Year holidays this year so will just have to make a concerted effort to get the sketchbook finished and posted back to America by 15 January 2011.

Note to self - keep calm and carry on!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

List it Tuesday - Could you pass the salt, please, Marilyn?

This week, I made a list of the guests (dead or alive) that I would invite to my fantasy dinner party.  I came across this portrait of James Dean recently in my old portfolio and thought it might be an appropriate illustration given that he's number one on the list!  Forgive the crudeness of the painting but I did it when I was 19 (a really, really long time ago!) I hope I've improved since then!

If you want to join in with a list of your own or just want to have a read of the other lists just head on over to Artsyville!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

South Queensferry near Edinburgh

This sketch was done from a photo taken by Oggy who sadly passed away recently.  He was a much loved member of the Paint my Photo website that I'm always raving about.  It's a view of South Queensferry near Edinburgh and I loved the way the stone archway framed the view of the street beyond.  I had saved this photo to my favourites folder on the website as I intended to use it for the sketchbook project so it's now a wee tribute to Oggy for having taken some great photos for people like me to use as inspiration.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

List It Tuesday as inspired by Artsyville

So, as often happens, I discover a blog by accident and in doing so read the comments left by others on that blog which intrigues me to click on that person's blog link and so on and so forth ad infinitum!  Recently I discovered Aimee from Artsyville in just such a way and the post I happened upon was all about her love of list-making and how she intended to start a new weekly blog post called List It Tuesday in which she would post a handwritten list of just about anything - it could be a list of favourite books, a list of weekly shopping, a list of famous people dead or alive you would invite to a dinner party (which I think I'll do next week), a to do list - the list of lists we could come up with could be a list in itself!

Artsyville invited her blog readers to join in the list-making and to post a comment on to her blog to say we'd done so.  Well, as a fellow lover of list-making (great at making them, not so great at actually completing any of the tasks on them) I decided that I would like to join in with this and am curious to see what other people have listed as well (plus it will be a great way to discover some other great blogs I can add to my favourites).

As it was one calendar month yesterday until our wedding, and all things wedding-y are first and foremost in my mind, I decided that this week's list should be functional and actually necessary and kill two birds with one stone and so it's a list of all the things I need to do/remember before we fly off to New York next month!

I'd love to hear from any other list lovers - you can add your lists in the comments section below and it'll link back to the Artsyville blog when I add my post to her comments.  Now, time to start thinking about next week's fantasy dinner party list...!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Sketch #16 - Somewhere beachy

This is another of those sketches of a place that doesn't exist. I made it up just doodling and using the bendy building idea.  I liked it until I started using watercolour pencils to 'colour it in' and now I actually don't like it very much at all. I wanted to make it all shades of blue like the terracotta tones in a patchwork orange but realised if I did that it wouldn't be possible to tell the sea from the sand.  Big mistake - should've just stuck to my original plan and done it all in blue and also should've used watercolour paints and not pencils.  Still it's all a learning curve.  It's in my sketchbook as part of the project and so it will stay there and serve as a reminder of how I don't want my pictures to look in the future. 

Friday, 15 October 2010

Ding dong merrily on high (or words to that effect!)

I mentioned a couple of days ago about how I wanted to come up with some Christmas cards based on the style of the Patchwork Orange.  This is the first of the pictures I'm thinking of using and I'll hopefully come up with some more ideas when inspiration strikes (and time allows).  I've been trying to think what the card should say on it - just Merry Christmas doesn't seem very imaginative (although I know it is a Christmas card!) - I'd appreciate any ideas anyone may have for something more original or quirky and if anyone has any ideas of scenes I'd love to hear them and see what I can come up with!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Peaceful, Easy Feeling...

I think I may have mentioned once or twice about the great website Paint My Photo - well this is another picture which I did for the sketchbook project taken from a photo on there.  This is of Mesa Arch in Utah taken at sunrise by Diane R.  It's a beautiful photo which, when printed out on our printer to use as a reference, didn't show up nearly as clear as it does here (probably due to my lack of knowledge with printer settings) and that is my excuse for the lack of detail in my painting!!  The scene reminds me of The Eagles  - the cover of 'The Best of The Eagles' album has similar rocky rocks in the background hence today's title!!

Anyhow, I've gone back to the old faithful pointillism for this one although I have been inspired by the style of Patchwork Orange to create some Christmas card designs which I'm working on at the moment.  Failing any of them selling in my Folksy shop then friends and family can expect to receive them from me this year (I've just bought another 100 blank cards and envelopes so needs must!!)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A Patchwork Orange

I haven't done any artwork in over a week!  In my defence, I've had a few things going on in my 9-5 which has distracted me from my sketchbook at lunchtimes but the main reason is that I've just been a bit too lazy!

I have been busy rallying the world and his dog to vote for my Be a Biographer design which I am sure everyone is fed up hearing about by now but fingers crossed all my badgering has done the trick and I might have made it through to the final of my section - I'll find out tomorrow.

Also I was given a reprieve for the Artway competition I wanted to enter - the closing date was supposed to be today but I checked on the website and discovered that due to popular request the deadline has been extended to 21 November so I may just manage to drag myself away from the sketchbook project in time to get a piece done after all.

As for the never ending sketchbook project - I did sketch #14 today.  We were driving back from Cloughey beach yesterday when I noticed the landscape looked quite rounded in the horizon with a wee house perched on the top of a hill.  It must have stuck in my head as I started doodling today and came up with this imaginary landscape based on that idea.  I liked the whole distorted building thing from my sketch of Cornmarket  so tried it again to twist the buildings in this one. I started painting the houses, decided I liked the orange/red/terracotta shades and ended up doing the whole picture in those tones which sort of inspired the name - a patchwork orange. 

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sketch #13 - Somewhere snowy!

I used two different photos from Paint My Photo as inspiration for this picture. I changed the sky from bright sunny daylight to a sort of dusky twilight as I wanted to have the house lit up and cosy looking.  The snowy photo was taken by Gwen in Canada and the old house was taken by Teresa in Maine, America.  As my painting is made up of both places and isn't in itself a real place I suppose it will go in my sketchbook as another of those places that exist in my imagination (but this time with the help of some beautiful photographs merged together and mixed up a little!)

Winter Beauty by Gwen Card

Antique building by Teresa Houston

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sketch #12 - Bittles Bar, Belfast

This is another photo that S's brother took when he was over here recently.  It's hard to believe that such a blue sky belongs in Northern Ireland but he got lucky that day (the rest of his trip was pretty much rained off!) This is a bar in the centre of Belfast called Bittles, which I have never actually been in but it is a beautiful old building.  It reminds me of the Flat Iron building in New York - a much, much smaller version obviously but it's just the way it is shaped sort of like a wedge (although in the photo and my picture it looks more like a tower, it is actually wedge-shaped!).

Anyway, I started this one in ink as usual and then decided that for a change I wouldn't add any colour as I thought maybe the detail of the brickwork would be enough. (That, and I need to find ways to speed up the whole Sketchbook thing or I'll never get it completed!) 

P.S I could say it was deliberate, but actually the truth is I never noticed until I posted these side by side that they appear to lean in opposite directions!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Introducing Ned!

This is Jo's lovely big dog, Ned, who I did a pointy portrait of to say thanks to Jo for customising my wedding jewellery (as per yesterday's crafty shout out).

Here's a closer view so you can see the dots that make up the picture:

I really enjoyed doing this portrait - there's something so beautiful about a dog's eyes - when you look into them you can really believe they are the windows to the soul (unfortunately the same can't always be said of some humans!). 

Friday, 1 October 2010

A random act of crafty kindness - Unique Beaded Gems

Credit: Jo Walters

I'd like to give a massive crafty shout out to a lovely lady called Jo Walters, a fellow Folksy shopkeeper who makes and sells her own jewellery creations.

About a month ago I posted a question on Folksy asking any jewellery makers if they would be able to customise a necklace and bracelet for my wedding. This was a set given to me by my future father-in-law and means a lot as it belonged to S's mum who sadly passed away in April this year. The set was gold, which I don't normally wear but I thought it would be nice if I could wear it on our wedding day as my something old and as a little tribute to Ruby.

Jo replied and said she had a few ideas. We discussed price and I said I was looking forward to seeing her designs.

However, a few days later, we got the news at work that due to the never ending downturn in the economic climate we would have to take a pay cut in order to avoid redundancies. Now, this is never good news but with our wedding and honeymoon just a few weeks away, it really couldn't have come at a worse time. I contacted Jo again and explained what had happened and that I would have to cut back on non-essentials and unfortunately wedding jewellery fell into that category.

Well, that's when Jo did something that really restored my faith in humanity. She offered to make my jewellery as a gift as she wasn't long married herself and understood how important this piece of jewellery was to me. Bearing in mind that we were virtual strangers having met only on the forum at Folksy, I was completely overwhelmed at Jo's kindness.

I received my jewellery last week and I absolutely love it as it manages to incorporate the silver and pearls, to match other accessories I'm wearing, intertwined with the original gold necklace and bracelet belonging to S's mum. Here's a sneaky peek -

Credit: Jo Walters

Jo has been making jewellery for about four years now.  As is often the case, it started as a hobby and slowly grew from there.  Jo's friends and family started to buy things and she started doing fairs.  Jo was so busy working full time that she didn't really get the time to get her jewellery making business off the ground properly.  Then her working circumstances changed when the recession hit and after changing to part-time hours, she started to spend more time on the jewellery, developed her website and started to do more fairs. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) Jo was made redundant in February this year and that is when jewellery making became a full time business. Since then she hasn't looked back and loves the challenge of turning what started as a hobby into a business.

Credit: Jo Walters

Jo called her business Unique Beaded Gems as she was looking for something that would set her apart from other jewellery makers and found suppliers of high quality unusual gemstones in various shapes which are a bit different from the norm.  She has also spent a lot of time learning different ways to put the jewellery together to create something unique.  Jo did tell me that she now prefers to use her name as the designer rather than the name of the website, as she says 'you live and learn and Unique Beaded Gems is a bit of a mouthful!'

Credit: Jo Walters

As well as selling her jewellery through craft fairs, she has also hosted jewellery parties for friends and hopes to expand this side of the business.  Jo also has some of her work in galleries around the UK (Click here to find out where you can see and buy some of Jo's work).

Credit: Jo Walters
I wanted to repay Jo for what she did and then it struck me that I could return the favour by maybe doing a pointy portrait for her.  So I asked if she had a child or a pet and was delighted when she said she has a big old dog called Ned who is her child! (I can totally relate to that!) So I asked for some photos and got to work.  I'll post the results tomorrow!

You can see from some of the samples of Jo's work here, she is a very talented jewellery maker and not only that but she is also a very generous, genuine lady who I am pleased to have gotten to know in the cyber world of arts and crafts!


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