Monday, 30 December 2013

Ruby the wired haired dachshund (had a very shiny nose)

Doodimals zentangle pet portraits NicseARTh
'Ruby' - Doodimal commissioned pet portrait - A3 watercolour and ink 

So I hope everyone had their own perfect kind of Christmas. I know we did. This year was our first in our new Scottish cottage and we did what we always do which is to have a perfectly relaxing & quiet day with just the two of us & the dogs (& this year the cat too!) except this year we both went to the rescue Centre and spent some time walking the dogs there in the morning before coming home to assume the prone position on the sofa for the rest of the day. 

There never seemed any point sweating and swearing crossing Brussels sprouts and stuffing turkeys (or tofurkeys!) when it was just the two of us so we've never bothered with Christmas dinner preferring instead to cook a whole pile of 'party food'  like (veggie) sausage rolls, onion rings, spring rolls, potato wedges, nuts, dips, crisps - basically everything that's bad for you and we just nibble our way through that all day instead.

Normally we would go to my folks for Boxing Day but now we're up in the far north we had to make do with Facetime on the iPad instead this year which isn't quite as good as being there to enjoy their company and the amazing Christmas dinner that my parents make (just because we can't be bothered to cook one doesn't mean we don't enjoy my mum's home cooking!) 

Anyway, our day was perfect for us and luckily we only lost 1 roof tile in the storms that battered the UK - I know some folk in the South of England were flooded and had no power and it must've been a pretty horrible time. 

I decided I was taking a break from art over the Christmas and New Year holidays and I've done just that using the time to catch up on my reading instead which has been lovely as I never seem to get the chance to lose myself in a good book these days despite only working 2 days a week! I seem to have less time for reading than ever before-that was the only good thing about a daily commute to work I guess! 

Anyway this is a pet portrait commission that I did just before Christmas. Her name is Ruby and she is an adorable wire haired dachshund. Her person is an old school friend of my sister who happened to see the dachshund doodimal in a photo on Facebook of my Christmas fair stall. She chose the colour palette and I have to say I love it - perhaps my favourite colours of any doodimal so far. Sorry the photo isn't the best - I've yet to master photographing A3 pieces without the shadows - I need a bigger scanner!

The real Ruby - cute as a button.

Anyway I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and here's to even more creativity in 2014.

Friday, 20 December 2013

A surprise tea party...

'Mushu in blue' - gouache and ink on watercolour postcard

A few weeks ago Eva and Kristin over at Paint Party Friday mentioned that they had something special up their sleeves, 'something that involves art, kindness, secrets and virtual gift-giving'. Well,  I, for one, was intrigued and had to find out more and when I discovered what it was they had in mind I just had to take part. 

Those of you who are frequent visitors to Paint Party Friday will know of a very lovely Antipodean lady called Tracey Fletcher King who has had a rough year, going through chemo for breast cancer yet still managing to keep us all entertained on her blog, with her beautiful illustrations and funny tales of life Down Under.

Eva and Kristin had the lovely idea of putting together a collage of artwork created around a tea party theme in honour of Tracey, as anyone who knows anything about her knows she is famous for her love of tea, tea cup, tea pots - anything involving tea really!

Tracey has a gorgeous little dog called Mushu whose mishaps and misadventures often feature in her blog stories and so I scoured Tracey's Facebook photos looking for a photo I could use to paint the little fella - there was always going to be an animal involved in my piece! Keeping in mind the tea party theme, I added a tiny red tea pot to Mushu's collar - I hope this counts.

Tracey is an inspiration to so many of us in blogland and the love and concern all of us art bloggers have for her is testament to how it's possible to develop friendships with folk on opposites sides of the planet that we might never meet in 'real life' but who we find we have so much in common with thanks initially to a shared passion for creating art and showing that art off in cyber space! 

I'm going to take a blogging break over the festive period so I wish everyone happy holidays and hope you all have a fabulously festive time and here's to 2014 bringing the best the universe has to offer to all of us.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Pet portraits and Christmas Fairs.

'Scrappy' - custom portrait in ink and gouache approx 7 x 8 inches

So, after posting and creating every day for the month of November, I decided to take a wee break for a week or so. Not that I wasn't being creative but it was more about printing and labelling and pricing stock for the Caithness Horizons Christmas Fair which was on Saturday 7 December. It took me the best part of a week to get everything ready.

The fair took place over two different floors and various different rooms of the building - which is a sort of tourist information/museum/art gallery/cafe/shop. My stall was in the art gallery bit - hence the beautiful landscape painting above my head in the photo.  I got asked twice how much it was and had to say (through gritted teeth) that unfortunately I couldn't take credit for it as it wasn't mine!

To be honest, it was a bit of a let down. It seems that it wasn't very well advertised other than on Facebook and really, the demographic likely to frequent such fairs may not, in all fairness, be very au fait with social media.

It was only after one of the other stall holders complained that someone went and put a sign outside the building to let folk know the fair was on inside!  Even then it was lunch time before someone thought to put up another sign to let the same folk know that there were more stall upstairs (where I was). There was the usual ebb and flow of people but, by all accounts, not nearly as many as there were downstairs. 

My wee stall 
Anyway, I sold a few greetings cards (one to a woman who, got to admire her honesty, stated it was so she could copy the zentangle style Christmas tree on it and use it for her own cards!) and one of my original gouache dogs on the brown card (half of which I'll give to the rescue centre the dogs come from) so after deducting the price of hiring the table, I didn't exactly make enough to retire on. Still, every cloud has a silver lining and one of my sister's old school friends saw the photo of my stall on Facebook and has commissioned me to do a doodimal portrait of one of her dogs!

The portrait illustrating this post is another pet portrait I've been working on this week which I got via my Etsy shop of a wee cutie called Scrappy. I really enjoy doing the custom animal portraits and am looking forward to starting the next one - a wire haired dachshund this time. 

Although this is an early posting, I'll be linking to Paint Party Friday come Friday as I missed last week and I'll do my best to do the rounds and see what everyone else has been up to in art blogland this week. 

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 30!!!

'A mother's love' - jotter doodle greetings card - ink and watercolour
It's the last day - hurrah and congratulations to everyone who completed the challenge. It was so good for me to do this not least because I now have several ACEOs and jotter doodle designs to make into greetings cards for my Christmas Fair stall next Saturday!!

Today's submission is back to the jotter doodles. This idea popped into my head one day when I was out walking the dogs and initially I had thought of it as a Christmas design but actually I think it might make rather a good Mother's day card instead. So, it may be a little early but this design will be going in my Etsy shop for anyone who wants to get a head start on Mother's day cards for next year!!

I had a search for a quote that would work and I think this one is pretty good. Not being a mother to human children, I can of course only base my experience on the love I have for my fur babies!!

In other creative news from Craggis Cottage, look what my super talented husband made from driftwood and stones he found on our beach walks! I love them!

'Root of Enlightenment' driftwood and beach stone tea light holder

'Light my Heart' - driftwood and beach stone tea light holder

'Light my Heart' -So called because the smaller stone is kind of heart shaped!

Thanks again to Leah over at Creative Every Day for inspiring so many of us to do this challenge - I may even do it again next year!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 29

Reuben and Brodie - ink and gouache ACEO (2.5 X 3.5 inches)

The end of the challenge is nigh!! I'm very glad I saw it all the way through as, although it was surprisingly difficult to be creative every day, it also helped me to come up with ideas I might not have had or just might not have gotten round to trying otherwise. So I'd like to say a massive thanks to Leah over at Creative Every Day for hosting this Art Every Day Month challenge and taking me out of my comfort zone!

Today's submission for AEDM Day 29 is another ACEO.  I started drawing this with the intention of sticking to the doodimal theme of the week but at the last minute I decided to use gouache as I think I might do a larger doodimal version of these two wee fur babies. Of course, I may be biased but they're my two favourites subjects - they've been done in stippled ink, watercolour, inspired a whole series of greetings cards and now gouache.

The real Reuben (r) and Brodie (l) - my fur babies

This is the week in review:

Day 23: A log cabin themed painted bird house with a woodpecker.

Day 24: A Seahorse doodimal ACEO

Day 25: A Dolphin doodimal ACEO

Day 26: A Starfish doodimal ACEO

Day 27: A Baby Sloth doodimal ACEO

Day 28: A pair of Love birds doodimal ACEO

Only one more day to go!

As well as Art Every Day Month, I'm also linking up with Paint Party Friday as usual. In case I don't say it often enough, I really appreciate all those who take the time to visit my blog and leave a comment. I don't always find time to reply to each person but I will always endeavour to visit you in return. 

Art Every Day Month - Day 28

Love Birds Doodimal ACEO (2.5 X 3.5 inches) ink and watercolour 

Sticking with the doodimal ACEO theme and sort of sticking to creatures that live in trees but this time the feathered variety, today's submission to AEDM is a couple of love birds.

I learnt a lesson not to be lazy with this one. I always start with pencil to draw the outline and the various doodles and then go over it with a Sakura Micron pen. Then I paint in the sections with watercolour and once that's dry I go over the doodles and outlines in pen again as the watercolour tends to dull the clarity of the black. Anyway, the problem with going over the paint with the pen is that it can clog the flow of ink and that's what happened - I ruined the pen.  Now, instead of going to my art supply cupboard and getting a new Micron pen, I lazily used one that I knew had a better flow but that wasn't strictly waterproof. What happened? Well, the ink in the pink bib section of the male bird ran and made a complete mess. I thought I would have to scrap it, but before I did I decided to try painting over it in white gouache a couple of times and then repainting the pink watercolour over the top. Then, using a proper Micron pen I added the dots to the section to disguise any black ink that might still be peeking through from the previous mistake.  I think I might just have gotten away with it.  

The moral of the story?  Use the proper tools and don't cut corners because you're too lazy to get off your as$ and get a new pen.

I'd just received a new box of 12 Sakura Micron pens yesterday in the post as well.  Although turns out the numbering for nib thickness is a bit confusing - I ordered 05 when I should've ordered 005.  Now I've got 12 pens with nibs too thick for the delicate doodles I need to do on ACEOs. Hey ho, I'll use them for something I'm sure. 

Anyway, this is my submission for AEDM Day 28.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 27

Baby Sloth doodimal ACEO - 2.5 X 3.5 inches - ink and watercolour 

Although I don't think there is a baby animal that isn't cute, I have to say that after watching some You Tube clips of baby sloths at a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica recently, I think they might just be the cutest baby animals ever!

Even adult sloths are super cute - they're like the hippie of the animal kingdom, just hanging around all day, chilling, with a spaced out smile on their sweet little faces!

So, my submission for AEDM Day 27 was inspired by these happy little critters (although I've managed to make mine look more irritated than innocent - oops!)


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 26

I'm sticking with the marine life theme today and also with the doodimal ACEOs. This is a starfish - another sea creature that fascinates me. Unfortunately I've only ever seen them dried out as a decoration in beach/sea themed bathrooms, which is kind of gross when you think about it.

This is my submission for AEDM Day 26


Monday, 25 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 25

Dolphin Doodimal ACEO - 2.5 X 3.5 inches - ink and watercolour 

I took the dogs to our favourite beach this morning and I saw my first ever wild dolphin. Sadly, it was washed up on the beach becoming breakfast for several hooded crows. Up at the top of the dunes, there's a wooden hut with toilets and facilities for the many surfers who pass through looking for the perfect wave on the Scottish coastline. There's a poster there for the Scottish Stranded Marine Animal Scheme asking people to call them if they come across any stranded animals, alive or dead, so I called them and let them know and emailed them photos I'd taken. That way they can remove it and carry out research to find out cause of death and we won't have to see the poor creature rot away on the beach (or try to stop our dogs from trying to roll around on it as they've tried to do with a dead seal that's been slowly decomposing on the beach for months now -disgusting little blighters).

Anyway, my sad find was the inspiration behind today's AEDM submission.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 24

Seahorse doodimal ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5 inches ink and watercolour

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed doing my doodimals and after doing the pet portrait commission last week it put me in the mood to do some more. 

I love seahorses - they seem so serene and gentle, such delicate beautiful little creatures and I'd had them on my list of 'things to paint one day' for a while now so I decided there was no time like the present as it seemed like a perfect subject to be turned into a doodimal. I was about to start one on A4 paper when I spotted the pack of ACEO paper just sitting there waiting to be used. Initially I wasn't sure if I could do a doodimal on such a small scale but it turns out I could!

This is my submission for AEDM Day 24.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 23

Log Cabin painted bird house with Woodpecker

So, it's back to the painted bird houses for the Christmas Craft Fair today.  I started this one a couple of weeks back but hadn't done anything more to it so I thought I better get my finger out as the fair is on 7 December which isn't really that far away (I'm printing out greetings cards as we speak to try and get all my stock together or I'll end up in a mad panic the day before!)

Anyway, this is the 4th of the bird houses, I have another 2 blank ones which I hope to get done in time. 

This one is based on a log cabin - the kind I imagine that folk in America escape to when they need a break from the big city lifestyles - you know like Aidan took Carrie to in one episode of Sex in the City ( I never did understand why she chose Big over the lovely Aidan but that's a whole other topic which doesn't involve painted bird houses!)

As it's a log cabin I figured the only bird I could possibly paint on this one would be a woodpecker! This is a greater spotted woodpecker and funny enough we've got a family of them living in the trees near us and one even popped down for a nibble at our bird table this morning as I was sitting painting this. He quickly flew off again though when he discovered the restaurant was closed - bad wildlife feeding person that I am, I forgot to buy more bird seed and nuts the last day I was in town and he didn't seem keen on the fat balls!

This is my submission for AEDM Day 23.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 & 22

Shih Tzus - pet portrait doodimal

If you've been visiting me from the Art Every Day Month challenge blog hop (and thank you if you have) you might be forgiven for thinking that after whinging last week about finding the time to create something new every day of the challenge that I'd just decided to give up.  Well, the good news is, I haven't. The even better news is that I got a new pet portrait commission via my Etsy shop last Friday and so I've very much been busy creating this week but I didn't think it would make for riveting blog reading to just post work in progress shots every day so I figured I would wait until today when I normally post to link up with Paint Party Friday and show you the finished piece together with the work in progress shots that take me through AEDM days 17 to 22!

I was asked to do a portrait of two cute Shih Tzus in my doodimal style. I haven't done one of those for quite some time and I forgot how enjoyable it was. The only tricky part was trying to come up with enough different doodles so that I didn't use the same one twice. It's for a Christmas present so I won't say the names of the dogs in case by some strange coincidence their human happens to read my blog!! The colours were chosen by the person who commissioned the portrait.

Apologies for the photos - it's on A3 paper so too big to scan and I took some photos on my phone and they aren't very clear!

AEDM Day 17

Now, Monday 18 November was our 'day we met' anniversary and our wedding anniversary and we headed off to the big smoke (relatively speaking) of Inverness for the day to do a bit of shopping.  Gone are the days when we could just go into any restaurant and get a lovely meal - being vegan means having to plan ahead and forewarn a restaurant of your impending arrival a few days in advance so the chef can make something animal-free!  That being the case, we settled for a Chinese take away on the way home!

S treated me to a very lovely winter coat unlike any of the other practical but not very stylish, puffa jackets I currently own. This one is cream and looks a little like a sheep' fleece (but isn't, obviously!) I won't dare wear it when walking the dogs or it won't stay cream very long but it'll be lovely for the two days a week when I work in town and wear something other than wellies and waterproofs!

We stopped off at a massive craft shop so I could stock up on watercolour pads and S also treated me to a day light desk lamp which is absolutely amazing! It gets dark so early here in the winter and I had a chance to try it out on Wednesday when by 2pm it was so stormy and dreary that I could never have painted otherwise. I turned on my new lamp and, hey presto, I carried on working until 8.30 that night as if it was still bright outside! I love it and don't know how I did without it until now!

AEDM Day 19 - with my new lamp!

Now I have to admit that I did not do any art work on Monday what with being in Inverness all day and not getting back until after 8pm with Chinese food in tow - but I think I'll forgive myself that one day's slip - it was our anniversary after all!

AEDM Day 20

AEDM Day 21

AEDM Day 22

The portrait is finished now so it's back to creating mini art works for the next 8 days so that I can finish the AEDM challenge!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 16

'Stan' - ink & gouache on recycled card stock
I've gone to the dogs again today, in a manner of speaking!

This skinny little whippet, let's call him Stan after Stan Laurel (the skinny one in Laurel & Hardy in case anyone doesn't remember!), hasn't had much luck finding his forever home yet.  He's had a couple of false starts where possible homes fell through which is a shame as he's a lovely little guy who loves not only chasing a ball but actually bringing it back to you as well which is most un-whippet-like!

The real 'Stan'
This is my submission for AEDM Day 16


Friday, 15 November 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 15

It's another jotter doodle today. I've been writing down quotes that I like as I come across them and I've had this Audrey Hepburn one for a while. Then this wee mouse illustration popped into my head although I couldn't think of a way to add the rainbow/chakra paint spatters other than painting the cheese yellow! I think I solved the problem and managed to include a bit of rainbow by using it in the script instead!

'I'm possible' - Jotter Doodle 

This is my submission for AEDM Day 15


I'm also linking up to Paint Party Friday today and for anyone visiting from there, here's a wee recap of what I've been up to this week for Art Every Day Month:

Saturday - Duck ACEO

Sunday - Winter Landscape
Sunday - 10 mile hike!
Monday - Laminated Calendars
Tuesday - Jotter Doodle Christmas Card 
Wednesday - Spring Landscape
Thursday - Jotter Doodle Christmas Card


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