Thursday, 28 June 2012

Whatever the weather...

Ok, first a big favour to ask. Those of you who are taking part in Kristin’s summer of colour may have seen my Giraffiti illustration here. Well, I discovered a competition for Animal themed crafts on Pinterest and submitted my giraffe and the piece that gets the most likes and repins wins. Sooooo, could I ask you to please click on this link and like or repin my piece so I might possibly be in with a chance of winning? Thank you so much!

Wednesday was a very strange day as far as weather goes. I got up at 6am to take the dogs to the park before work and it was cool and raining. You know that annoying, light, misty rain that manages to soak you even though you can barely feel it because it sort of floats in the air and so umbrellas offer no protection whatsoever? Well, that.

Then as I got the train into work the rain got a bit heavier. By lunchtime, it had dried up but the sky was very dark and it was sticky and muggy. By 5pm the sun was out, the sky was clear and I thought I was in danger of being cooked alive in my black dress and black opaque tights (yes, folk who actually have summer weather in summer months – I am still wearing thick black tights to work in June!)

After tea, I went out to my art studio and had just settled down to start a new piece, with my Ipod blasting out some Butch Walker when the skies opened. The rain was so heavy that streets and houses all over South and East Belfast flooded (The one saving grace about the location of our house is that it is half way down an incline so if we were to ever get flooded then things would need to be really bad!) I ended up turning off my music and painting with the sound of the thunder and the rain bouncing off the roof as my soundtrack instead. It was actually very therapeutic and possibly quite appropriate as the piece I was working on was another rainy window painting!

S took this amazing photo down at the storage yard where he keeps his tree surgery equipment. The yard is full of bright yellow storage containers that people hire to put their stuff in and he managed to capture perfect little reflections of one of those containers in all the rain drops on the office window.

Credit: S

Here’s where I’ve got so far – not very far - just the base colours, it’s still very much a work in progress. Because it’s based on an industrial work site, I decided to title it ‘Pretty Industrial’.

Pretty Industrial - WIP

After I’d done as much as I could before allowing the paint to dry, the rain was still coming down in stair rods, as my friend’s mum used to say, so I wasn’t inclined to leave my studio and brave the elements (even though it’s approximately 5 steps to the back door of our house!) So I decided to start a second piece and work on them simultaneously.

Do you remember the cow’s nose photo S took during our trip to Fermanagh here? Well, I decided not to just do the close up but to do the whole cow’s face because the things that struck me were this cow’s ears with that horrible yellow tag and the holes and rips left by previous tags, so I wanted to include them. This is the photo I'm using instead:

Credit: S

This is also still very much a work in progress:

Cow-modity - WIP

I’m linking as always to Paint Party Friday and am already working on my next doodle animal (doodimal?) for Summer of Colour on Monday!

Sunday, 24 June 2012


This is week 3 of Kristin's Summer of Colour and the ice cream inspiration this week is Baseball Nuts.  I'd never actually heard of this flavour so am guessing it's particular to America! It's vanilla ice cream swirled with blackberry ribbon and loaded with Cashews, apparently! 

giraffe in watercolour and ink with doodles and zentangles
Giraffiti - Watercolour and Ink doodle giraffe.
I'm sticking with the doodling but this week rather than a doodle dog, I've created a Giraffiti! I was inspired by a TV show we saw where a young female giraffe who , because she was related to all the other giraffes in the zoo in Australia, was transported by land and sea to a zoo in New Zealand to increase the gene pool there.  She was still too young to actually mate but they had to transport her then or she would be too tall for the transportation crate once she got older!  Poor wee thing was pretty stressed out by a 3 day ferry crossing over very rough seas but she got there safely in the end.  

Mostly, I don't agree with zoos because in an ideal world animals would live as nature intended without human interference but this isn't an ideal world and it seems because we keep on destroying their habitats at some point the only 'wild' animals left will be those that are actually kept in captivity so I guess there are zoos out there doing their bit to ensure animals can reproduce safely - and not worry about poachers.  

Anyway,  eco-rant over, I thought that the giraffe was so beautiful and such an unusual looking animal that I decided to doodle one for this week's challenge.  

I love the diversity of art that folk contribute to the Summer of Colour and it's fun to see what everyone comes up with based on the ice cream flavour of the week!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The elephant in the room...

elephant close up acrylic painting of an elephant's face and eye
Forget Me Not - Acrylic on Canvas
I was clearing out the cupboard under the stairs a while ago and came across a canvas painting that we bought to hang in our living room purely because the colours matched the decor.  Once we redecorated last year, it got relegated to the cupboard under the stairs where all the once loved and now forgotten objects seem to end up (if they don't make their way to the attic first).

In the spirit of make do and mend, I decided to paint it black and see if perhaps I could re-use it somehow although, because it was really textured with bumps and lumps and what looks like swipes of a palette knife, I wasn't sure how.

You can see the texture on the canvas in the close up sections
Then, as I was starting a new animal painting for the Windows to the Soul series I decided to look on the Paint my Photo website for inspiration where I saw this lovely photo of an elephant. The canvas happened to be sitting right there on the counter of my wee art studio where I'd left it to dry after painting it black and  I had a light bulb moment - the texture on the canvas would actually lend itself perfectly to the texture of all those wrinkles and folds on the elephant's skin.  So this is what I've been working on for the last week or so in between my doodle dogs. I think it's finished but I'll leave it for a week or so and see if I feel the need to tweak it any.

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday as always and look forward to visiting as many party goers as possible over the weekend.

This may be one of my shortest posts ever - I could have a wee rant about how our inconsiderate neighbour had a party on Tuesday night (it's well seen she doesn't work for a living) and kept me awake so I was like an exceptionally bad tempered zombie the next day.  Or I could mention that we're going out for dinner tonight to a great wee Mexican restaurant that does some lovely vegan options and that's why I'm posting this on a Thursday afternoon instead of last thing on a Thursday night, but that's not really about art either... so, I won't. Well, I just did but I kept it brief which is most unlike me!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Not a hot dog...

So, this is week 2 of Kristin's Summer of Colour and the ice cream inspiration this week is mint choc chip.  Funny enough, even before I stopped eating dairy, I was never a huge lover of ice cream. Don't get me wrong, if someone produced a 99 (otherwise known as a whippy vanilla ice cream in a cone with a chocolate flake and strawberry sauce dripping down it) I would certainly have eaten it but, if I was in the mood for junk food, it never would've occurred to me to sit with a tub of ice cream à la Bridget Jones and shovelled my way through it - I'm more of a savoury fan so my downfall would be family size bags of potato crisps!

Anyway, that's all completely irrelevant as this is about art and I can still get inspired by the colours of ice cream so following on from last week's Dog of Zen, I've stayed with the doggy theme (I suspect there will be animals of some description featuring all summer) and so because it's based on ice cream which is cold, this is not a hot dog!

dachshund dog in ink and watercolour doodle dog zentangles
Not a Hot Dog - Indian ink and watercolour doodle dog

Here he is before the colour:

Not a hot dog without the dressing!

I'm linking to Summer of Colour and *shameless plug* if you like any of my wee doodle dogs you can buy prints and greeting cards of them over at Fine Art America!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Dog of Zen...

So,  I really wanted to partcipate in Kristin's Summer of Colour blog hop this year because I didn't manage  to last year.  I also thought it would be a great opportunity for me to take time out from doing the larger acrylic canvasses of rain and animals that I've been working on and do some quick, fun watercolour illustrations instead.

The theme this year is on ice cream colour combinations and the first week (which has until this Sunday to be posted) was Rainbow Sherbet. I decided to not only use these colours but also to try my hand at zentangles because I've seen them on so many different folks' blogs and really wanted to give it a go (Fallingladies' wonderful creations in particular inspired me to give it a go).  Well, no great shock that mine would have to be based around an animal of some sort  - I give you the Dog of Zen:

I had no real idea where to start zentangling so I called on my very clever friend who knows the answer to everything, you may know him - his name's Google.  I checked out various images of zentangles that folk had done and took it from there.  I realised that they weren't so different from the doodles that I filled in an entire desk pad (A3 size) with, on my first ever job in a travel agents back in 1991 (yes, it was that boring) and my boss eventually made me throw out because it gave customers a bad impression!

Now, here I was thinking I could whip up a quick watercolour and ink illustration in a couple of hours.  Turns out zentangles and quick don't go hand in hand! Two evenings hunched over the kitchen table later (I figured I could spend time with S and the dogs in the kitchen better than if I went out to my art studio which is quickly filling up with large canvasses - I need someone to exhibit my work soon, please!) and I had only just completed the ink part never mind adding some colour. A third evening later and the Dog of Zen had his coat of many colours à la Rainbow Sherbet!

dog of zen watercolour and ink zentangles doodles
The Dog of Zen - Indian Ink and Watercolour

zentangles dog of zen in Indian ink
Naked Dog of Zen before his coat of many colours!
Anyway, the original plan was to be able to post early in the week on the Summer of Colour and then on a Friday, as always, for Paint Party Friday.  This week though, time caught up with me and so there is just this one post for both.  From next week though I am determined to be a twice weekly blogger as least as long as the Summer has Colour!

*Those of you who were interested in Lennox the dog's trial may want to read the unfortunate update on the appeal hearing here

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ignorance is the real danger...

I'm sorry we failed you, Lennox.

Well, the day I hoped would never come unfortunately has come.  Those of you who read my blog regularly will know about the campaign to save Lennox, the dog wrongly accused of being a dangerous pit pull and locked up by Belfast City Council in May 2010.  Two years, a court case and two appeals later the men in robes who call themselves 'Lord' have shown the law really is an ass and upheld the original decision to have Lennox murdered under the Breed Specific Legislation in effect in Northern Ireland.

Lennox's family have done everything in their power to save him and accommodate the Court - even going so far as to ask if he could be taken in by someone in the Republic of Ireland where this nonsensical law doesn't apply.  None of it matters.  A dog that hasn't bitten anyone or shown any signs of aggression (despite being put in isolation in a hugely scary and stressful environment for the last two years) and that even dog behaviour expert, Victoria Stillwell stated was not a danger to the public  is to be put to death by a Council whose dog warden allegedly lied under oath (stating she was scared of him when photographic evidence showed her hugging him and him licking her face) , in order to save face.  Shame on them all.

I saw this on Facebook recently and it seems very appropriate today more than ever:

When will we realise that the danger is at the top end of the leash?  Humans and their determination to create the perfect breed of dog to perform various tasks created dogs like Lennox. Now they are to be punished for our biological interference because, oops, we don't like how they turned out after all. There are no dangerous dogs. Like humans, dogs only know what they're taught.  They give out plenty of signals when they're upset or stressed which unfortunately most people don't know how to read. Even the smallest dog could bite if put in a situation where they feel threatened- are we to put them all down 'just in case?' Lennox was a harmless family pet but because he 'looks' like dogs that certain scumbags use as status symbols, he's now being lumped under the category of 'dangerous dog' and is going to pay the ultimate price.

It seems to me that human ignorance and arrogance are the only real danger to us and everything else on this planet :'0(

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Lakes, forests and plenty of animals...

rainy window painting acrylic on canvas
Finished it - A view less boring - acrylic 40 x 50cm

rainy window a view through a rain streaked window painting acrylic on canvas

So we had a lovely time in Fermanagh.  If you're wondering where it is, click here . We'd been camping there (as in actual camping in a tent not comfort camping in a caravan!) a few years ago and decided to go back.  It's lovely, being the lake district of Northern Ireland and probably super lovely if you're into boats and going out on the lakes and whatnot, but we came to the conclusion at the end of this trip that we really like big long beaches to walk the dogs along and so, going to a landlocked county was never really going to cut it for us! That said, what with all the countryside, there were plenty of animals grazing out in the fields that we took lots of photos of for future paintings.  The farmers must've thought we were proper city folk who'd never seen a cow before!

Credit S: Guess what I'll be painting soon!

How cute is this wee fella?

The caravan park was nice and relatively small.  Unluckily right on the other side of a big hedge from where we were pitched was the children's play area with the path leading to it running right past our caravan - cue kids on (very squeaky) bikes going past a lot and prompting Brodie to go into 'fierce protect mode' i.e yap constantly at everything she perceives as a threat to her territory!!  We spent most of the days out and about anyway so it thankfully it didn't matter too much.

Credit S: Enniskillen

Credit S: One of many forest walks

Credit S: Lough Erne
On the Sunday we drove to Roscommon in the Republic of Ireland to visit friends of S's who've just bought a wonderful quirky old cottage with 2 acres of land way out in the middle of nowhere - I loved it! We'd decided on a barbeque (tempting the weather) and in typical Irish fashion Sunday dawned grey and miserable. Not to be detered we  put on several layers of clothing and warmed up with a few alcholic beverages (apart from poor S who had to drive us back later that night!) I came armed with veggie burgers and salad and once the meateaters had satisfied their hunter gatherer instincts and sufficiently cooked the animals they'd caught bought at the supermarket, we headed indoors and ate our meal in front of a roaring fire where we stayed for the rest of the day! You can always tell when you've had a good time as next thing you know, several hours had passed, it was 10.30pm and we still had a 2 hour drive back to Blaney.

We had been told that the Olympic torch would be arriving in Fermanagh at 12 on Tuesday, the day we were due to leave.  Being the bah humbugs we are about the whole Olympics thing, we packed up early and set off at 10am lest we set eyes on the damn thing. 

Anyway, it was wonderful just to be away and off work.  I did take my watercolours and sketch pad with me but they didn't see the light of day.  I did however take lots of close up photos of wild flowers using the super macro on my camera which is my current obsession.

While S was busy photographing the sunset I was more concerned with this dandelion clock!

Daisies are so pretty for something we consider a weed!
I'm linking as always to Paint Party Friday and my favourite gathering of wonderfully creative folk.


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