Thursday, 30 August 2012

Till the cows come home...

So, I seemed to have caused some confusion last week by mentioning a cow while using a sheep to illustrate my post! Won't do that again!

Anyhoo, to avoid any confusion this week, I am still working on the cow painting and so here is just a sneaky peek of part of it.   

Cowmodity - Work in Progress - acrylic on canvas

While we're on the subject of cows, I recently read a book called the Mad Cowboy by Howard Lyman who used to be a cattle rancher in Montana, USA.  Following a spinal tumour which almost left him paralysed, he became vegetarian and then vegan and began looking into the causes of Mad Cow Disease which was just starting to appear in the UK (he appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show, she denounced burgers as a result and then they both got sued by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association for disparaging comments about beef - it being illegal to be defamatory about food in the States, seriously!) They were found not guilty of any wrongdoing and Howard went on to become president of EarthSave and then Voice for a Viable Future.

Did you know they don't bother to remove these tags
before they render the bits of cow that makes dog food - nice huh?

It's a really interesting and surprisingly humourous read and an eye opener to anyone interested in learning exactly what they're putting in their mouths. I can't recommend this book enough - written by someone who was a third generation cattle rancher who changed his own farm from a small family run concern to a massive feedlot like those all over America today, if he's telling us to stop eating beef, maybe we ought to listen! 

Linking as always to Paint Party Friday - thanks to Kristin and Eva as ever for hosting!

Monday, 27 August 2012

The art of styling a wedding...

I'm not sure if many of you have ventured back to the beginnings of my blog but when I first started it back in 2010 I was planning my wedding to S and spent many an hour at work  surrepticiously surfing through Rock n Roll Bride's blog for all sort of wedding eye candy (in my old job obvs, I don't do it now in my current place of work!) Even though I already knew exactly what I wanted and what we were doing for our wedding I still loved looking at other folks' weddings, whether they were themed or elopements, massive feasts or intimate ceremonies.  Anyway,  despite no longer having an excuse by way of an upcoming wedding (not even as a guest), I still sometimes pop over just to have a look at all the gorgeously styled weddings and the amazing photos and locations individual to each couple, that feature on Rock n Roll Bride's blog.

So you're no doubt wondering why I'm wittering about weddings on an art blog. Well, the thing is, Kat, who is Rock n Roll Bride has teamed up with Next to offer her readers the chance to win £500 of Next vouchers (and who wouldn't want a chance to play around with clothes and win that).  All we have to do is rifle virtually through the racks of Next clothes in their online store and come up with a few different outfits for anyone in the wedding party - the bride, groom, bridesmaids, whoever we fancy.

I decided to give it a go as I've nothing to lose and possibly £500 worth of Next clothes to gain (I'm already lusting after a pair of grey Reiker boots I spied when putting these outfits together - in the interests of research it was necessary to look through the entire women's section!)

I may have been inspired by the lack of any discernible summer at all here in Norn Iron this year but I fancied a laid back, bohemian beach wedding. As I was putting this look together I think I was channeling surf chick artist Ivy from 90210! 

Every girl needs a decent pair of shades for a sun-drenched beach wedding and being ever practical (though possibly not very rock n roll) I included some flats to change into for the dance floor when the heels get too much!

Bohemian Bridesmaid  total -  £218
2.Snake print dress 
3.Metal Mesh Knot Belt
4.Pewter embellished T-bar sandals
5.Strippy Diamante Sandals 
6.Grey rectangle purse 

Next up is the cute page boy who's going to be equally laid back - no fussy suits or twee bow ties, please!

Page boy total - £51-£60
2.Trousers and Braces
3.Converse Chuck Taylor Hi

Last but not least is the flower girl - plenty of girly sparkle but no frills or frou-frou!

Flower girl total - £48-£55
1.Shift Dress
3.Pink Corsage Mary Jane Shoes

The budget was £500 so based on the above I could have one bridesmaid, a page boy and four flower girls!  That's most of the supporting cast sorted anyway!

The rules for the competition are that we post our choice of outfits on our own blog, with links to the items on Next's website and a link back to Rock n Roll Bride's blog.  Kat then chooses the winner after the closing dated on 31 August (which just so happens to be my parents' 55th wedding anniversary - a sign perhaps?!)Wish me luck!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Mutton dressed as glam...

First things first, thanks to my biggest collector, I sold my original Giraffiti painting last week! The lady that I credited with starting me back on the road to being an artist in my Paint Party Friday featured artist slot here, bought it to add to the three other paintings of mine that she already has! Thanks Hilary! (Prints still available from Fine Art America, by the way!)

I didn't get round to posting last week.  I've been working on my cow painting, Cowmodity, for the last couple of weeks.  I started doing tiny little pointillism dots of paint and after several hours of work and only a fraction of the cow being painted I realised it was a bridge too far to use that style on this size of canvas, being the largest one I've done yet. Then by happy accident, I came across a stipple brush I'd ordered online a year or so ago imagining it to be smaller than it was.  Turns out while it was too big for the project I'd gotten it for at the time, it's perfect for adding a loose pointy feel to this larger piece.  It does come in for a bit of a bashing though so I've ordered 10 more as I think this one may be on its last legs! 

Anyway, this is a red herring (or a red cow) as I'm not actually posting a photo of the cow painting today - it not being finished yet and me not wanting to post a work in progress. Instead, I decided to take a break from the acrylics and do another doodimal instead. 

'Mutton dressed as Glam' - watercolour & ink sheep doodimal

Credit: S - the friendliest sheep ever.
Mutton in monochrome

This was one of three sheep we visited at the Ark Farm, a sort of open farm that claims to be interested in the preservation of rare breeds.  They had lots of chickens running around and little chicks that children could feed together with a sign on their cafe window advertising home-made chicken pie - talk about a serious disconnect!! Anyway, I digress - I've never met friendly sheep before as normally they are timid and scared seeing as the only contact they have with humans is when we're about to do something unpleasant to them. However, these 3 came running up to the fence and stuck their heads through allowing us to chuck them under the chin and stroke the top of their fuzzy curly heads! As we walked alongside their field they followed us for more attention! Needless to say I loved them!

I plan to do an acrylic of this gorgeous lady as well but just fancied doing a wee doodimal as I enjoyed doing them so much during the Summer of Colour challenge.  I couldn't think what to call this piece, initially it was going to be 'Baah Bling' or 'Because Ewe're gorgeous' but then I decided on 'Mutton dressed as Glam'!

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday and will visit as many folk as I can over the weekend.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A one dimensional dog and a lot of animals who weren't there...

I recently bid on a job on People Per Hour.  It was to draw cartoon type illustrations of three different dogs - a greyhound, a lurcher and a scruffy stray.  I submitted my bid with a sample of some dog illustrations and received a reply advising that although they'd received bids from lots of talented artists none matched the image they wanted and in order to be considered I could do their drawing 'test' with rough sketches of the three dogs.  They wanted them to be able to show a variety of doggie expressions but at the same time wanted them to be one dimensional and very simple. 

A scruffy woebegone stray - pen and ink

Well,  I spent an entire afternoon trying to draw them in the simple, flat, style they wanted.  I discovered that I'm not very good at it(every time I thought one dimensional cartoon, the only image that popped into my head was Snoopy!)  Anyway, I sent them off but haven't heard anything back and it seems that the job has been paused. I don't even know what that means but I don't think my bid will win even if they un-pause it which is a shame as it's to raise awareness of dog adoption, but I thought I'd post them here so that my afternoon spent  Googling greyhounds and lurchers and rough sketching them wasn't a complete waste of time!

An 'elegant' greyhound - pen and ink

an energetic lurcher - pen and ink

In other news, we went to Belfast Zoo last week. If you read my blog at all regularly, you’ll know I’m not really a fan of animals being kept in captivity for human viewing pleasure. That said, I’m enough of a realist to know that because we’ve hunted so many of these amazing creatures to the brink of extinction, if we want them to survive on this planet at all then it’s necessary for zoos to provide a conservation role and adopt breeding programmes to help replenish the numbers. There are some amazing zoos that do just that and Belfast Zoo claims to be one of them.

A baby giraffe - such beautiful creatures.

Lion tailed macaque 

Lioness - she was actually mid yawn - probably bored of humans staring in at her.

Andean Bear


This penguin walked up and down for about 15 minutes deciding whether to jump into the water!

Let’s just say, we weren’t impressed. Half the enclosures were empty; those that did have animals in were situated so strangely as to make it extremely difficult to actually see the animals and none of them were big enough for the animals to exhibit their natural behaviours, in my humble opinion. Where there was glass to protect the public (or the animal, more likely) it was so dirty inside and out that it was hard to see through and there was a general run-down air about the place. The tiger enclosure had a moat across it that was so stagnant it was completely covered in bright green slime on which floated umpteen empty bottles and cans thrown in by a public that clearly couldn’t care less about the animals they’d paid to visit or the harm their litter may cause.

The moat at the Tiger enclosure - apparently the koi carp who normally eat the algae aren't big enough yet!
(Not sure who normally eats the litter!)

Prairie Dogs: 'I don't like to gossip but the tiger's enclosure is more like a pig sty!'

Needless to say I wrote a lengthy essay on the Zoo’s online feedback form expressing my disappointment with the level of care shown to the animals which did nothing to convince me they were better off there than in their own natural habitat. 

Amazingly, there was a big 3 page letter waiting for me when I got home from work on Thursday evening addressing all my concerns. I appreciate that they did take the time to reply to each of the issues I mentioned with reasons and explanations for why things were the way they were but, honestly, I'm not really convinced and I don't think it will make me ever want to visit the zoo here again.  The only good thing I learned was that the cockatoos which I was concerned about being in small enclosures by themselves are being transferred to Tenerife to be paired with mates so at least the won't spend their whole lives lonely!

My favourite critter of the day - such a friendly wee Cockatoo - just posing for me on the other side of the glass.

Who's a pretty boy then!

Leadbeater's Cockatoo - also migrating to Tenerife soon to find a mate!

A golden crested crane

Zebra head 
Zebra butt - I just thought they had lovely tails, is all!

We went there hoping to take some photos of the inhabitants – I needed reference photos to work from and unfortunately I’m not likely to see any of these creatures in their natural habitats so we tried as best we could to take photos that didn't show us reflected in the dirty glass and also left out the bars and fences keeping these beautiful creatures captive. 

I'll leave you with an actual conversation S overheard between a young boy and girl at the elephant enclosure -

Boy – ‘Look at that elephant dipping its beak in the water’

Girl – ‘That’s not a beak, that’s a snout’
Me when S told me -'Sigh'

Don't forget to visit Paint Party Friday - There's no actual paint on my blog this week so I hope the bouncer's don't refuse me entry ;0)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Elvis and the Stormtroopers...

So I finished my latest rainy window painting, Pretty Industrial. I made a few changes to the part I posted last week because although I still wanted it to have a 'pointy' feel to it, I felt the raindrops needed to be better defined to stand out more from the blurry background. So I went over every single little Elvis's head shaped raindrop again and painted it with actual brush strokes and not dots!

Then I started on the other side of the painting and this time as I painted yet another little reflection all the raindrops started to look like the helmets the Stormtroopers wore in Star Wars!

Anyway here it is:

Pretty Industrial - Acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

In other news-I'm the featured artist over at Paint Party Friday this week, which is exciting! So, if you didn't already get here via PPF then may I suggest you pop over there now if you'd like to read my interview? Or not. You don't have to, it's just a thought ;0)


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