Monday, 28 March 2011

Wiggle Walk(ies)...

© Pointy Pix

This week we're back in the late 50s/early 60s and the emergence of the wiggle dress.  I had actually completed this ACEO before the passing of Elizabeth Taylor last week but it seemed to be quite appropriate for a lady who, like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly, seemed to me to come from a time when women were incredibly glamorous and just oozed class.

Old school Hollywood no doubt had just as many skeletons in its closet as nowadays but when I watch those old movies, they just make me feel nostalgic for a time when I wasn't even born (if that's possible!).  I love the bad special effects and the obvious studio scenery, the way they spoke and the old fashioned Hollywood kisses where no lips parted, far less moved, but were nevertheless magically linked to the woman's knee which would coquettishly bend under the passion! Women wore wiggle dresses which did exactly what the name suggests and super high heels - think Marilyn Monroe sashaying down the street! I couldn't possibly wear things like that - I walk super fast - but I still love how it looks!

We even chose our honeymoon hotel (The Mirador in Acapulco) based on the fact that it was where Elvis filmed part of Fun in Acapulco - right beside the famous cliff divers at La Quebrada, and because it was a popular location for the Hollywood stars of that golden era.  We didn't get there in the end up but that's a whole other story!!

The dog in this picture is a Sealyham Terrier, which until I came across it by accident on Google, I'd never even heard of.  Turns out Elizabeth Taylor once had one and they were actually very popular with Hollywood Actresses in the 1950s.  Now unfortunately, because celebs prefer to have pocket pooches they can carry in their handbags and because Sealyhams are no longer that well known, I read that the breed is on the verge of disappearing as so few are being bred each year.  Having looked at the pictures of these dogs though, I'm starting to think our Reuben may be part Sealyham instead of Westie - which would explain why he's got floppy ears!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Paint Party Friday...a week in oils

So, this week I've been mostly working on that oil painting I started as a gift to my brother-in-law.  Just to give you the background - they bought a house down near Hampton Court Palace down the South of England last year.  It dates back to the 1800s and is gorgeously quirky inside.  It's called King's House and  possibly belonged to the grounds keeper of some king or other (English history isn't really my forte!). This is a view of it from the street.  My brother-in-law likes original art work so it seemed like an appropriate gift (maybe someday it'll be valuable!) It isn't finished yet as I've been leaving a couple of days between each painting session to try to let the paint dry.

This is the first time since school (back through the mists of time) that I've used oil paints.  I had a brand new box of them sitting in my art supply cupboard that I've had for about 10 years.  Seriously.  I'm surprised they hadn't all dried up in the tubes but as they were all unopened, luckily they're good as new.

Things I like about oil paints:

  1. you can draw the outline of your subject using a paintbrush
  2. If you make a mistake, you can just go over it
  3. Ditto, if you try a particular style of applying the paint and it looks rubbish, you can paint over it in a different style.
Things I don't like about oil paints:
  1. They take a really long time to dry - especially when you're used to working in watercolour
  2. The turps/white spirit really stinks which isn't great when your studio is your kitchen!
  3. I keep smudging the bottom of the canvas with my sleeve 
Overall though I have to say I am enjoying using oils and have already been thinking about what I'd like to paint next.  I did try to do this in a pointillist style but surprisingly I am finding it much harder to do in oils than I would've thought.  Maybe it's just the subject matter in this case that needs to be more detailed than pointillism would allow but it really isn't as easy as I imagined.  Even more kudos to my arty hero George Seurat in that case!!

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3
Got a long way to go yet - good job my brother-in-law's birthday isn't till May! Don't forget to pop on over to Paint Party Friday to see what everyone else has been up to this week.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Walk(ies) on the wild side...

© Pointy Pix

This is the latest in my Walkies ACEOs series.  This time I've gone back to 1970 and the image that conjures up in my mind of a hippie chick with big flares and wedge sandals - which according to the fashion mags I read just this week, is a look that is going to be brought back yet again this summer. Apologies for the lame title but it was the only song title from the 70s I could find that I had heard of!

I technically lived through the 70s - actually there's no technically about it - I did live through the 70s but in my defence I was between 1 and 8 years old during that time and didn't have a whole lot of say in what I got to wear and try as I might to grow my hair long - cows lick notwithstanding, my mum had a whole different idea and invariably dragged my sister and I off to Bernadette's hair salon to for a purdy every so often much to our disgust!! 

 Afghan hounds just totally look like the hippie of the dog world to me so seemed like the perfect choice for  my 70s woman to be walking through the park!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Paint Party Friday... another great way for artist/bloggers to come together. 

Thanks to the lovely Ileana whose blog I've been following for a few months now, I learnt that Paint Party Friday has been set up by Eva and Kristin, two artists who felt that often it helps to check in, to both encourage and be encouraged by other like-minded folk when it feels that our creativity mojo has gone missing in action.  I've definitely found that since I finished the Sketchbook Project, I've been coasting along and not really doing any 'proper' artwork. So I will definitely find Paint Party Friday a good way to see what other people are doing, learn from them, and hopefully become encouraged to pick up a pen or a brush mid-week after a long, boring day at work when usually I feel more like eating a (family size) bar of chocolate and setting my brain on the coffee table while I watch TV!

Anyway, as we were off yesterday for St.Patrick's day, I decided to take today off too and have me a nice long weekend.  After getting the pups out for a good long walk on the first beautifully sunny day of the year (still needed to wrap up - the sun is all talk no action in Ireland for the most part) I spent the rest of the day doing art - three different kinds!!

I have started my first ever oil painting.  It is supposed to be a surprise for my brother-in-law's 40th in May (sis, if you're reading this, don't mention anything as it may turn out crap and he may never receive it!!) I have taken a couple of photos of my progress so far but as it's a gift, I don't want to post it just yet. I'm not convinced oil is my thing but I'll persevere for a while.

I also started a new pointy pet portrait of my beautiful dog, Reuben.  I got as far as the outline but will start with the ink dots tomorrow hopefully.  I think this will take a reaaaallly long time as his fur doesn't lend itself to stippling but as it is just for me I can take as long as I like.  This is the pencil outline and the photo I'm using for inspiration.

If you look really close, you can just about make out his face!

Sorry, it's really hard to see the pencil on this as it is so faint but I didn't want to make too many marks until I start with the ink.

I also did another little ACEO of Skye.  This one was taken from a photo of the sunrise from our rental cottage one morning.

© PointyPix

I printed the photo off on ordinary paper and the colours weren't as vibrant so I've only noticed now how much warmer the sky actually is than I made it in my painting.  Still, it is just an interpretation so I don't suppose it matters too much.

Why not hop on over to Paint Party Friday and check out all the other artists who've blogged their work today too!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

(Board) Walkies...

© Pointy Pix
If, like me, you spend many of your evenings living vicariously through the characters on your TV screen, then you will appreciate my excitement at the arrival of a new free satellite channel on British TV called Sky Atlantic just chock full of great American shows.

The current favourite in our household is Boardwalk Empire.  It's like an Irish Sopranos set in the roaring 20s during prohibition in America.  Steve Buscemi, who I love as an actor and who until now always seemed to be in a supporting role is brilliant as drole Nucky Thompson who runs Atlantic City, rubbing shoulders with criminals, corrupt politicians, corrupt businessmen, er, actually you'd be hard pushed to find anyone who wasn't corrupt in some shape or form!

After the 50s, I think the 20s is possibly my favourite era.  My first idea of the 20s came from the 1976 movie, Bugsy Malone with a young Jodie Foster and Scott Baio - ah the splurge guns!!  I love the flapper dresses and the cigarette holders, the cloche hats, the long beads and the strappy Mary Jane shoes.  Despite the fact that alchohol was banned, the whole era seemed so decadent, the speakeasies, the Charlston, the fact that women were cutting their hair short - the bob is synonymous with that era. I get the idea that women seemed to enjoy themselves and literally loosen their morals and the style of dresses during that time (I'm not passing judgment or advocating that lifestyle, I'm just saying that's the impression I get!)

F. Scott Fitzgerald once asserted that “it is rather futile to analyse flappers. They are just girls, all sorts of girls, their one common trait being that they are young things with a tremendous talent for living.”

For this flapper girl, I figured she should have an ostentatious French Poodle to go with her ostentatious flapper dress and feather boa! She's walking along the boardwalk and if you look closely, you can even see a wee Nucky Thompson in his red checked suit standing in the background!!

Sunday, 13 March 2011


© Pointy Pix
It has been ages since I've drawn any dogs, either my own wee'uns style westie characters or any pointy pet portraits.  An idea had been forming of a greetings card design using a daschund as they are probably my favourite breed of dog (apart from westies, obviously).  Anyway, little ideas sprung up and were dismissed or stored away in the 'think about more thoroughly later on, do you mind, I'm watching Grey's Anatomy right now' section of my brain.

Then a week or so ago, when I painted the little ACEOs of Skye, I had a mini brainwave which must've
been the off spring of various random thoughts which had been mixing around for a while in my mind.

The premise is pretty simple - I love dogs and I love fashion from bygone eras.  I am experimenting with ACEOs and so I decided to try a series of little paintings depicting a women (or her bottom half at any rate) from a certain era walking her dog.  It really isn't rocket science but I am hoping that I can come up with several designs before I run out of exciting eras and fashions from those eras - possibly from about the end of the 70s as I lived through the 'fashion' of the 80s and wasn't really a fan and in my opinion from the 90s onwards fashion just started to get regurgitated anyway.

This is the first - I love 50s prom style dresses and the glamour of that era to the extent that I am certain I was born too late and I love daschunds as they are just so cute.  I did try to Google which breed of dogs were popular in which eras but my extensive (cough) research into the 50s was inconclusive so I decided to use artistic license and use the little sausage dog, just because I like them so much!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Armchair Tourist - Down Under

Sunset in the Australian Outback
This is the very last sketch from the sketchbook project that I haven't already used to illustrate some post or another. And for that reason, this week we will mostly be travelling armchair stylee to Australia!

The reason above aside, I actually would very much love to go to Australia.  It is one of those places that is always on the itinerary on a round the world trip and one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't make it there to get it out of my system when I was younger.  At a company I used to work for, they actually offered year long transfers to their Sydney office, setting you up with accommodation and guaranteeing that you would still have a job back in Ireland on your return.  A couple of my work colleagues did actually go and had the time of their lives.  Instead, I quit that job and went to Liverpool to live. Don't ask.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Women's Day

Credit: Joshua Gomby

Just a very short post to mention that today is International Women's Day and I am very excited to have been asked to  be a guest blogger on Any Other Wedding as they do a whole day feature called 'In her Own Words'.  This is one of my favourite wedding blogs along with Rock n Roll Bride and, even though our big day has been and gone, I just can't help checking out the other weddings, the photos and the stories behind them.

Any Other Wedding is more than just a wedding blog though as the women behind it also tackle more serious subjects than just what underwear to wear with your wedding dress.  Today they have joined forces with Angie from One Cat Per Person (another great  blog I've just discovered thanks to Any Other Wedding) and have asked lots of fellow bloggers from all walks of life to write posts which will be posted on both sites throughout the day.

Being asked to do this made it clear to me that I have a lot to learn about what goes on in the world to other women.  My concern has, truth to tell, always been geared more towards cruelty to animals than to my fellow humans, but taking part in this International Women's Day post has opened my eyes to just how much I don't know.

Keep reading Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person today to read my post and those of all the women out there who, I am sure, are a lot more educated on women's issues than I am.

Happy International Women's Day to you all - I for one am happy to be female!!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Vicarious Viewing...

Carol with my NYC Montage!

You may recall me mentioning the Art House Sketchbook Project once or a million times over the last few months.  Well, thanks to my participation in that project I have made some very lovely virtual friends, either as a direct result of seeing their work on the Art House website and commenting on it (such as with Alex, from Pencil Scribbles who does amazing portraits) or through Twitter (such as Accidental Vix who I first got to know when I bought a couple of her lovely cards on Folksy and then we would chat about the sketchbook project on Twitter and encourage each other to keep going when it seemed we would never finish it on time!)

Another lovely new online friend is Carol from New York who also completed a sketchbook for the project and I think I discovered her blog via a comment she left on Alex's blog - do you see how this whole blogging world just keeps on opening up!.  Carol's blog is called Carol King: Painting, Drawing, Complaining, she does some lovely watercolours and makes amazing coasters which I really want her to give me a step by step lesson in and her way with words makes me laugh.  I would love to be able to actually hear her recount some of her tales just so I could listen to the wonderful New York accent that I imagine she has!

Anyway, Carol contacted me the other day to say she was going to visit the Art House Gallery in Brooklyn with her husband, Matt, and she would look out for my sketchbook.  I was chuffed to bits therefore to receive my first email from the Art House to notify me that my book had been signed out for a viewing!!  Carol then emailed me to say how much they enjoyed looking through my sketchbook and she even took some photos of her and Matt with my sketchbook open at different pages!  She also kindly agreed to let me put the photos on here and also filled in all the blanks I had about what the exhibition was actually like.

Matt with my sketchbook at a Belfast page
So, the Brooklyn Art Library is a big long room with one wall entirely filled with bookcases which in turn are entirely filled with sketchbooks (28,839 to be exact!).  Unless you request a specific book, as Carol did with mine, then when you visit you just sign out a few randomly selected books - meaning it is pure luck as to whether or not my book will ever get selected again for the duration of the tour. Still, hope springs eternal.

Carol has been there a couple of times now and said the opening weekend was hectic and really busy with a big variety of folk from hipsters (being in a hipster neighbourhood) to families and kids coming in to view the sketchbooks.

The shelves behind Carol give an idea on
the multitude of sketchbooks to browse through!

Carol had a look at a good few sketchbooks and said that the diversity was incredible - I love that so many different people came up with so many different ideas on how to interpret the various themes.  She said that some were absolutely amazing and that one in particular was really quite bizarre as it was completely blank with just the words 'I'm Sorry' written on the first page!

I would so love to be able to go to the States and see the sketchbooks for myself but as that isn't possible, then I will make do with looking at the artwork from the sketchbooks which has been uploaded to the Art House website and am so very grateful to Carol for checking out my sketchbook and letting me view the gallery vicariously through her!

*Carol emailed me after I posted this with another great shot of the Brooklyn Art Library so I had to just add it in!

Hmm, I wonder where my sketchbook is?


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