Thursday, 20 December 2012

Happy Holidays...

Well,  that's phase one of the house move complete.  We packed up all our belongings and put them into storage and last Friday, 14 December, I walked out the door of our old house and went to work as a legal secretary for the last time!  The dogs and I have been ensconced at my parents' house for a week now and already I've gotten sucked back into soapland! I prided myself on not watching any soaps at all. None. One week of watching them just because my folks' happen to be watching them and I now need to know which of the Branning brothers Kat Slater is sleeping with in Eastenders, whether Chastity will be found guilty of killing Carl King in Emmerdale and whether poor Tyrone will ever grow a pair and leave that nasty fiancĂ©e of his in Coronation Street! 

In other news,  S has been back in Scotland continuing his training for the new job (it's very intense and he's covered a lot of Scottish miles at this stage).  He flies over to N.Ireland on Saturday and then my sister and her husband arrive on Christmas Eve and we'll be having a family Christmas at my parents' house which will be the first for the longest time as S and I always spent Christmas day on our own and went to my folks' for Boxing day so it'll be a nice way to spend our last Christmas living in N.Ireland.

I've spent my first week of not working having a stomach bug and head cold and feeling very sorry for myself, which certainly wasn't what I had planned so today is the first day I've managed to motivate myself to do any art.   I decided to create a doodle Christmas card which I now need to put on my Facebook page to wish all my friends a happy Christmas seeing as I was too disorganised this year to actually buy or post any cards!

I'm linking with Paint Party Friday for the first time in ages and will enjoy getting the chance to visit all my fellow bloggers' blogs also for the first time in ages (the last week in the old house I was computer-less!)

Apologies for the quality of the picture - I'm using my mum's PC but am not so familiar with the picture editing programmes on it!

Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful time. xx

Thursday, 29 November 2012

You don't have to put on the red light...

So, in between the madness of new jobs, resignations, house sales and packing box assault courses, S and I went to Amsterdam for our Anniversary on 18 November.

We landed early at 9.30 but what should've been a straightforward train journey straight from the airport to the centre of Amsterdam took quite a bit longer as the airport train station was closed for the weekend and we had to get a bus to a different train station instead.  We had to queue for over an hour as one bus after another filled up (not helped by folk randomly walking to the front of the queue feigning ignorance whilst we fumed in polite British queuing style at the back!)

Anyway, that was the only hiccup the whole weekend.  I had been to Amsterdam once before for my sister's hen weekend but hadn't really seen much, to be honest.  This time, we walked and walked and walked.  It's so big and every block looks the same as the one before it! Don't get me wrong, the canals, the bridges, the stunning tall, skinny houses are all so beautiful but I was very glad that S is so good with maps and directions or I'd still be wandering around looking for the hotel!

Tiny doors!

More tiny doors!

Our hotel, Die Port Van De Cleve, is in the location of the old Heineken brewery and is just off Dam Square.  Much like Krakow, Amsterdam catered brilliantly for vegans with several vegan/veggie restaurants dotted about.  We visited TerraZen three times for lunch - run by a Caribbean man and his beautiful Japanese wife the choice of food was amazing and everything we tried was totally delicious.

TerraZen - the best veggie lunches in Amsterdam!

We went to another  three veggie restaurants for dinner and again all the food was amazing.  The thing we noticed was that in each restaurant there was a resident cat or dog who just wandered around amongst the diners.  I know some people wouldn't like that and it certainly wouldn't be allowed in the UK with all the hygiene regulations but I guess that folk who eat in veggie restaurants are animal lovers and so, it didn't seem to bother anyone.

How anyone remembers where they parked their bike is a mystery!

I'd been given a tip by someone at work to pre-book the Anne Frank House as the queues were always really long.  We were glad that we did as we arrived at the pre-booked time slot and walked straight in whilst everyone else queued right round the building!  It was really interesting to see although I had ignorantly assumed that after she hid she must've survived so I was gutted to learn that in fact they'd been found when someone told on them and that Anne Frank and her sister and mother had all perished in Bergen Belsen after all.  It just seemed even more tragic after hiding all that time.

The Van Gogh Museum was closed for refurbishment while we were there so we went to the Rijksmuseum instead.  It was brilliant to see such amazing work by Rembrant and many other Dutch artists that I'd honestly never heard of before.  One of them, Willem Craesz Heda did incredible photorealistic still life paintings and as soon as I saw them I immediately thought of Sandra and her amazing glass paintings!

We visited the red light district on the Saturday night - so many people milling about (mostly men!) I like to think I'm fairly broad-minded when it comes to the ways of the world but I couldn't help thinking how young most of the girls seemed to be and how very skinny.  It was funny how as we went away from the main streets with their prime window positions, the ladies became ever older and less nubile - such is life, always to be replaced by younger models!

A strange thing happened one evening just at the edge of the Red Light District when we were waiting to cross a road and a man walked towards us with his little French Bull Dog, which we saw quite a few of during our break. I did my usual melting 'aw look, she's so cute' and Steve made that sort of clucking/clicking noise you make to encourage animals (not to be mistaken for the tsk tsk noise when something annoys us!) Anyway, the man came right over to us and started making the noise too.  I didn't think anything of it but then he stopped just a little past us and kept looking over.  I was still cooing at his dog and totally oblivious but eventually wondered why he was staring in our direction.  We started to walk on then and he said (in a voice exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger even though he's Austrian and not Dutch!) 'Yes, you better walk away, very quickly'!! It was only then I realised he was talking to us and that S had obviously offended him by making the clicking noise! Anyone have any ideas - is it offensive to admire someone's dog in Holland??

Anyway, apart from the strange dog man, it was a great short break where we saw plenty of culture, history and slightly sleazy reality which gave us a much needed break from house sales and packing boxes if only for a couple of days!

I was going to try to do a quick watercolour sketch from our photos so I could legitimately take part in Paint Party Friday but I just didn't find time.  So, I'm going to be cheeky and link up anyway, even though there is no actual art to speak of (unless I can count the really cute owl cushion we found in a craft shop thinking it was an unusual Dutch souvenir only to discover exactly the same owl cushions in a little shop in Scotland when we were house hunting the following weekend!!)

Not such a unique owl cushion after all - still at least we can get it a partner in Scotland!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A new beginning...

I haven't been around much recently what with our lives having been turned upside down (in a good way!)  Just by way of an update, S is getting on great with the training in his new job and currently travelling all over the North of Scotland learning the ropes.  I've handed in my notice at work and will finish up on 14 December which is also the day we're scheduled to hand over the keys to our house.

Last weekend I abandoned the assault course of packing cases waiting to trip me up all over the house and headed off to Amsterdam for a romantic weekend with S to celebrate our 2nd/7th anniversary (More on that later - S currently has all the photos on his camera in Scotland so I can't do my usual travelogue just yet!) Just so I can legitimately link to Paint Party Friday I am regurgitating a sketch I did of houses in Amsterdam for the Sketchbook Project back in 2010 (sorry if anyone from back then remembers this - I promise to have some new art soon!)

Anyway, I'm massively excited because on Friday I'm flying to Inverness to meet up with S and travel up to Thurso where we're spending the weekend looking at 8 different houses - hopefully one of those will be our perfect country cottage.

Now, what with all the new beginnings coming our way, I got to thinking about my blog and how, when I started it, I focussed mainly on 'pointy' paintings.   I think I've come quite a long way since then, even though animals are still my main inspiration, I've discovered different mediums and different inspiration from nature, like my rainy windows, and much as I wish I had a definite and easily recognisable signature style, looking through my blog, it's clear that I don't!  So, I figured I needed a new name for my blog - something that better reflects my art and my inspirations as they are right now.  I wracked my brain trying to come up with something and finally settled on Nic's eARTh because this is my blog about not only my art but about my view of the world that we live in, coloured as it is by my love for animals and all things nature.

I thought it would be doubly appropriate because we're moving to such a different, remote, part of the UK where we'll be surrounded by more nature than you could shake a stick at and I'll no doubt want to bore enthral any loyal readers with the trials and tribulations of relocating to the wilds of Scotland!

So, please don't adjust your monitors, Pointy Pix has become Nic's eARTh and I'd love it if you would follow me on my new adventure! (I'll still be under for a while until I figure out how to change it over)

Monday, 12 November 2012

And the winner is...

I typed everyone's name in a list (some 2 or 3 times if they also became new Facebook and/or Blogger followers which is what took it up to 52).  I googled for a Random Number Generator and found this one - sorry it's a little blurred but after messing about for ages trying to copy and paste it as a jpeg I had to do a screenshot of the whole web page and then crop it down!  Anyway,  the winner is........*drum roll*....Laurie over at I love a cloudy day

Laurie, if you could email me at pointypix[at] with your postal address, I'll get those cards off to you tomorrow!

Thanks to everyone who commented and thanks again for so much positivity  - I can't wait to get moved to Scotland so I can start painting properly again!  I will take a small watercolour kit with me to my folks' over Christmas so I can at least keep my hand in but apologies in advance if I'm not around too much until the New Year - I will still be visiting everyone else's blog though!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Power of Postive Thought & a give away...

4 x Christmas Cards 

I just want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who sent positive thoughts and good vibes out into the cosmos for me on my last post here, when I mentioned our life changing move to Scotland and the hope that I wouldn’t be stuck in Northern Ireland too long waiting for our house to sell. The power of positive thought obviously works because, that very day, we had an offer on our house which we accepted!! Yay!

It is now all officially official – the sale should hopefully complete mid-December and I’ve handed in my notice at work to finish up at the same time. I’ll then have to move back in with my folks for a few weeks but we’re going to look at some houses in Scotland at the end of November so hopefully one of them will be perfect for us and we get fully relocated in the New Year. I’ve even finally been able to update my Facebook status to let all my friends know that it’s actually happening!!

Now, because of all that is going on, I doubt if I’ll get much time to be creative (other than creatively trying to find ways to fit all our belongings into as few packing boxes as possible!) so it may be the New Year when we get relocated to Scotland and I unpack all my paints and canvasses before I really get back into art again.  Then I promise to be back with a vengeance as I won't be working, not full-time anyway, so will hopefully have all the time I ever dreamed of to get creative and blog about it!

3 x Walkies Note Cards

Next weekend we’re off to Amsterdam to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary/ 7th anniversary of the day we met and, to be honest, we’ve hardly given it a moment’s thought what with the whole Scotland move overshadowing everything. Still, it’ll be lovely once we are there and we plan to see all the cultural things I didn’t get to see the last time I was there (on my sister’s Hen weekend!)

3 x Purrfect Nostalgia Note Cards

Now, this is after all an art blog and by way of thank you to everyone for all their positive thoughts, I thought it was high time I did a give away as I’ve never done one before. So, what with all things Christmas already having made their insidious way into the shops and our subconscious, I thought it might be appropriate to include 4 Christmas cards as well as 3 ‘Walkies’ and 3 ’Purrfect Nostalgia’ greetings cards as well. If you'd like to be included in the give away just leave me a comment at the end of this post and all the cards will go to the first name I pick out at random (using one of those random pickers!). (If you aren’t already following my blog and/or my Facebook page and wanted to start doing so, I’ll add your name in twice *she bribes to push her follower numbers up!*)

I’m linking to Paint Party Friday and will aim to get round as many folk as I can this weekend as I know I have been a bit remiss with my blog reading as well as my blog writing and art-making!!

I’ll announce the winner of the give-away next week before we go on our trip so stay tuned!!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Almost living the dream...

Firstly, apologies that I didn't get round very many people on last week’s Paint Party Friday circuit. I do have a reason and I’ll get to it shortly.

Happy Halloween commissioned Doodimal
Secondly, do you remember about a month or so ago, I mentioned (excitedly) that I had been commissioned by People Per Hour to design a doodimal for their Facebook page? Well, it was to be Halloween themed and I did it and sent it off what seems like yonks ago now. I’ve checked their page every day this month to see if it had been put up yet but as of right now (Thursday evening), it still isn’t there. Perhaps they’re only planning on using for the one day of actual Halloween, who knows? Anyway, I’ve been champing at the bit, as my mother would say whenever I was being impatient, to show you the two designs I came up with as I was really quite pleased with them, not normally being a huge fan of the whole Halloween festivities malarkey. I had hoped to be able to link to their Facebook page at the same time but unfortunately it isn’t to be. However, if you check back on their page on 31 October then it should surely be on there then!

People Per Hour commissioned pumpkin Doodimal

Now, I also have to apologise for my irregular blog-keeping of late. I’ve been here but I haven’t really been here, if you know what I mean. I haven’t completed a new piece of art since I finished the Cow painting but the thing is, I’ve got this enormous life changing news to share and I’ve been dying to scream it from the rooftops but felt like I had to keep it bottled up because at the moment it’s only really half happening.

You see, S was offered a fantastic job in Scotland. Not just is it in Scotland but it's actually based in the Caithness area in the North of Scotland which was where we went on our Northern Lights trip back in March of this year and where we fell in love with the complete and utter beauty of the landscape and the sense of isolation, far from the madding crowds as it is. Anyway, he applied for the job at the end of August, had the interview at the start of September and headed off on Sunday last for three months of training all over the UK. So, as you can imagine, my priorities this last month lay in spending time with him before he left, hence the reason why art has taken a back seat for a while. 

Now, that’s the good part of the news. The other really good part is that when we do relocate I will only need to get a part-time job  (which S says is purely to get me out of the house and talking to people as there is a very real danger I could turn into a complete hermit!) and the rest of the time I can spend painting!

The not so good part is that I have to stay in Northern Ireland until we sell our house. We put it on the market a couple of weeks ago and have had 2 viewers so far which is better than the last time we tried to sell back in 2008/9 when we had 1 viewer in the whole 2 years! With the current market, who knows how long it will take to sell our house so while I'm hugely excited at the prospect of living our dream in the wilds of Scotland, the excitement is somewhat dampened by the uncertainty of how long the dogs and I will have to stay here waiting for that sold sign to go up. With that in mind, I’d appreciate any positive vibes you could send out into the cosmos to encourage a quick sale!

Anyway, that's my news and so, what with being home alone, I’ll have plenty of time this weekend for catching up with everyone at PPF and with finally getting back into my art studio!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Face forward in the future...

Thanks to those who responded to my idea about the portrait swap and are interested and also to those who responded even if they don't want to join in! Although can I just say that those who said they didn't think people would like their style or they weren't confident enough - please join in - the difference in artistic style is what it's all about!

Overall, I think enough folk responded to go ahead and do a small portrait swap although those who did sensibly pointed out that it would be better left until after Christmas as there are too many other things to be done in the next couple of months.  So, to give everyone plenty of time to think about it and to get Christmas over with first of all,  I thought I would set up a Mr Linky so people can start to sign up between now and the New Year and then we could start the swap in February and allow the whole of that month to complete the portraits before we have the blog hop.

Here's the Face Forward button if you'd like to add it to you blog and please, by all means tell your blogging followers about it as the more, the merrier

Please just go ahead and add your name to the list and then you can happily forget all about it until February when I'll post an update on who you'll be painting!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Face Forward...

So, I had an idea and for it to work, I need the help of my online art friends. A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting Ileana of Arroz con Mango and saw that she had completed another amazing portrait, this time of a friend of hers - she has such a gift for portraiture. I left a comment about it and said that maybe we could do some sort of art swap where we do portraits of each other. Honestly, it was an off the cuff comment purely because I selfishly want her to do a portrait of me but then she replied and said that she would be interested in participating in such a swap and that, yes, she would do my portrait! I've been mulling over how it would work and so decided to test the waters by mentioning it here (hijacking Paint Party Friday, sorry Kristin and Eva!)

Now, I’ve taken part in a few blog hops and used the blog link thing but I have no idea how to go about setting up such a swap. But before I get bogged down in the technical details, I thought I should put the idea out there and see if anyone else was actually interested in joining in.

The general idea is sort of like the whole concept of 'Pay it Forward' except this is more of a 'Paint it Forward' and being about portraits I thought I'd call it 'Face Forward':-

1. People initially leave a comment on this post saying if the idea tickles their fancy.

2. If the response is positive I then find out how to set up a link that people can join and a set a closing date for participation.

3. Either the participants can be paired off so that the same two people paint each other or it can be even more random so that you might not necessarily paint the person who paints you - let me know in your comments which you would prefer and we can decide from there (of course for this to work there sort of needs to be an even number of participants!) 

4. Folk can each then contact their Face Forward portrait subject and arrange to email photographs to each other to work from. They can be done in any medium/style/technique - there are no restrictions so if you want to go all Picasso, make a collage or turn your portrait into a caricature or whatever your own artistic style is, then feel free!

5. Once everyone has been paired up we can then set a deadline for the portraits to be completed by, then post them to our own blogs and link them back here so everyone can see the results.

I’m not normally a people portrait artist. I have done a few although as anyone who reads my blog knows the faces I draw tend to be covered in fur! Still, I'm looking forward to challenging myself by doing a portrait of a face I haven’t yet seen - if you're like me then you choose what you're going to paint/draw based on your own interests and inspirations.  I thought this would be a good way to stick to a set subject but still give free rein to your own personal artistic style. There are so many different types of artists out there and I think it would be interesting to see what folk come up with. Plus it's a good way to get to know other online bloggers and we all end up with a portrait of ourselves!

Let me know if you think this is a good idea or a rubbish one and please tell me if you can think of any way it might work better – I’ve never done anything like this before so all helpful comments will be gratefully received. 

By the way, we're off to London on Friday to visit my sister (and Kayak down the river Thames - trying to avoid falling in and getting dysentery!)so if I don' get round all the PPFers at the weekend I'll definitely visit next week!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

This cow needs a home...

Cowmodity - Acrylic on wrapped canvas 50x50cm

I finally finished the cow painting, ‘Cowmodity’.

Here is some interesting/useless (delete as appropriate) information about it and other news in my life this week:-

  • I spent 20 something hours on it in total although that was spaced out over about 3 months.  
  • It’s the longest I've spent on a piece so far.

  • It’s also the largest piece I've worked on yet (50x50cm)

  • The canvas started life as a print of a flower that S rescued from being dumped by someone else and I 'up-cycled' it by painting over it!

  • It’s my favourite piece so far. Ever. So much so that it breaks my heart a little to sell it as I'd really quite like to hang it in our kitchen.  Still, there's no point making art just to keep it for myself instead of sharing it with the world (whether the world wants it or not!)So, it's for sale in my 'stuff for sale' section in the sidebar should anyone take a shine to it. **Update - it sold! Remember my sister bought the pig painting here? Well, she contacted me as soon as she saw this last night and bought it as well! She'll have the whole farm on her wall soon!**

  • I’m also going to upload it to Fine Art America though so should anyone fancy a print of it then they can nip over there for one or alternatively now that S bought a super duper new printer that I don’t have to fight with to print on watercolour/thick card I can also print off both A4 and A3 size prints of it should any UK-based folk fancy a print of a wee Irish cow up on their walls! 
  • The colours in the first photo are much stronger than in the actual canvas - the blue isn't really quite so blue - its more like the other photos but went like that when S ran it through perfectly clear on Photoshop (S took the first one on his camera and I took the rest hence they're not as clear as his!)

  • I submitted my first ever tax return as a self-employed artist (I won't be giving up the day job any time soon!)
  • I still can't show you the commissioned piece I did for People Per Hour but I'll give you a clue - check back around the big spooky celebration at the end of October!

Cowmodity taken on my camera - the colours are more muted than the first pic which was taken by S on his camera
That’s all for this week (pretty short for me, huh?) See you over at Paint Party Friday, hosted as always by the lovely Kristin and Eva.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Lurking in the attic...

We finally got round to clearing out our attic last Saturday.  It's a job we've been threatening to do for at least the last three years, promising to have a car boot sale with all the junk hidden treasures taking up space up there.

So, S made two trips to the dump and a further trip with said treasures to his work storage shed for a brief stop off until he can take them to the local town auction - apparently they can sell any old crap what with one man's junk being another man's treasure! Among other things, we re-discovered 4, count em, guitars, amps, fishing rods, computer monitors, printers, convection heaters - all in perfectly good working order!

I also came across a box of basically every letter, postcard and greetings card I've ever received from my teens onwards from friends, family, acquaintances and some folk I now don't remember at all!  I spent the afternoon getting lost in the reminiscences of first loves, holiday romances, 'sorry you're leaving' cards from jobs I barely remember and gossipy letters from my friends sent to me when I lived in Germany, Portugal, Cyprus and Tunisia back in the days when people still put pen to paper and sealed it in an airmail envelope which always gave me a thrill of excitement when it landed through my letter box - do you remember how exciting it was to get a big, long, handwritten letter in the post - opening an email just isn't the same. 

Anyway, I decided that, as I'd been lugging this box of correspondence around from house to house (as well as country to country) for the last 20 odd years only for it to sit forgotten and dusty in my attic, that it was time to be ruthless and get rid.   I did keep all the birthday cards from my parents (the started at age 11 onwards when my tendency to hoard such things must've first begun!) and I'll always keep the cards and letters that S has sent me over the years but the rest, I ripped up and consigned to the bin - I don't need the physical letters when the memories are all still there in my head. 

Anyway, the point of this post is, in the middle of this box of memories I discovered a little envelope with 8 small watercolour illustrations I did back in 1997 when I was living in Dublin and had the idea of designing greetings cards (several rejection letters put that idea on the back burner for several more years when the advent of Etsy and Folksy meant I could sell them myself without needing the services of a publishing house!) There were 4 more that I had framed and gave to my mum which I mentioned back here.

I did do art this week (the People Per Hour commission) but I can't show it yet so I thought I would share these little blasts from the past instead!

Happy Paint Party Friday for tomorrow (I'm a little early)!

Thursday, 13 September 2012


So recently my artistic mojo has gone AWOL.  I could've searched high up and low down for it (and might even possibly have found it lurking in my art studio behind the jar of paint brushes had I been able to motivate myself to set foot in it, in the last two weeks) But because I had neglected it, it seemed that my artistic mojo had taken the huff and had eloped with my motivation and taken my energy levels along to be their witness.

I bemoaned my lack of anything resembling artistic motivation with my lovely online friend and amazing talented artist, Sandra, and she said that when she feels like that she makes herself sketch something, anything, just so she feels she is doing something art-like.  She set me a challenge to do the same.  She threw down the gauntlet and so, I picked it up (we're not called the fighting Irish for nothing - a challenge you say?!)

And so, I thought long and hard and ended up not straying too far from my comfort zone and creating another doodimal. A smaller one on 8x5 inch watercolour paper, but a doodimal nevertheless.  Here is William - the rooster we met back at the cottage in Scotland earlier this year.

Cock-a-doodle-doo - watercolour and ink 8x5 inches

Now, it seems that dipping my toe into the pool of art may have paid off as today, I re-visited my profile on People Per Hour and noticed that now they have a new thing called Hourlies where folk can offer to do whatever their job speciality is in so many hours  (e.g. design a new logo in 2 hours) and set their own price. So, I decided to offer to do doodimals and would you believe it not long after I put it up there, the Community Manager at People Per Hour only went and bought an Hourlie from me!! I can't say what it is just yet but, believe me, when it's done and out there, I'll be singing it from the rooftops!!

The Rooster before the colour

So, thanks Sandra for giving me a wee artistic prod!!

The Original

I'm linking up with Paint Party Friday which I missed last week because of aforementioned lack of artistic mojo - I'm happy to say, it's back glowing from its honeymoon with motivation in spades!


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