Thursday, 31 January 2013

The North wind doth blow...

Home, Sweet Home.

This is my first blog post from our new house in Scotland!  We got here at 7.00am on Thursday 17 January after an 8 & 1/2 hour drive up through Scotland. 

However, our furniture and all our worldly goods (other than those we'd crammed into the car along with the dogs) didn't arrive until 29 January so we spent 12 days not quite believing that this was our new home, instead feeling like we were staying at the most ill-equipped holiday cottage ever (we'd only brought 2 forks, 2 knives, 2 cups and 2 plates to tide us over) Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and we did discover that tinned lentil soup, being quite thick, lends itself remarkably well to being eaten with a fork!

The neighbours - view from the sun room 

Those 12 days were without internet access (apart from patchy mobile phone internet) and without TV (gasp!).  In fact we still don't have satellite TV - the Sky man comes to install our new dish on Friday!  Anyway we're slowly emptying all the packing boxes and little by little, as we make this house a home, it's also finally sinking in that we're not just here on holiday after all!

Since we got here we've had some snow, but nowhere near as much as the south of the UK and the one main road that links our village to the larger towns remained completely clear thanks to the industrious gritters and ploughs up this way.  

We've also had a taster of the winds for which the north of Scotland is famous.  We thought we'd had it bad on Tuesday night only for a local to smile, shake her head and say no, that was just a breeze, the real wind was due on Wednesday.  She wasn't kidding - 85 miles an hour gusts which, as we were sleeping in one of the attic bedrooms at the time, sounded like a herd of elephants was tap dancing on the roof! We were lucky that we only lost two roof tiles.  The whole village lost electricity in the early hours of the morning but it came back on mid-morning (we were later told it could sometimes be off for 4 or 5 days at a time but that hasn't happened for a few years thankfully!)

The dogs'  new favourite seat in the sun room!

We've met our neighbours, an elderly couple a few minutes walk down the road from us. They invited us round for lunch yesterday and filled us in on who's who in the village - it really is a case of everybody knows everybody else. 

Now, art.  I mentioned in my last post that I was going to do the 75 day sketch challenge just to try and do something arty every day until I got all my art supplies unpacked and could get back into the swing of things. Well,  I'm on day 11 of the challenge now and I've been sticking at it quite well.  (I did miss a day or two when we were unpacking our stuff but I did a couple of sketches instead the next day to catch up). All the sketches must be drawn in ink only - no cheating and doing it in pencil first! 

Day 1 of 75 - Bulldog

I had thought I would just sketch random household objects but as our house was sadly lacking many objects other than S, me and the dogs for the first 12 days I struck on another idea instead which won't come as any great surprise really.  I had a dog-a-day desk calendar last year and kept it because I thought the photos might come in handy if I ever needed to draw a particular breed.  So, I decided to work my way through it and see if I can get 75 different dogs to sketch.

Day 2 of 75 - Chihuahua
Also Day 1 of 29 Faces!!

Day 3 of 75 - Shar-Pei

Day 4 of 75 - Dalmation

I've become quite keen on a retro photo app on my Android Tab so I've been taking my photos using that, in case you wondered why they look a bit grainy!! 

I'm posting the first 4 sketches today just because it's been so long since I posted any sort of art at all and I'm linking up to Paint Party Friday for the first time in weeks and looking forward to visiting all my fellow art bloggers!

*Update - I just discovered that 29 Faces hosted by Ayala Art starts today and that the faces don't have to be human!! I'm going to link my Chihuahua face there today for face 1!!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Covering up...

Because I've been bemoaning the fact that I haven't been very productive in the art department recently, my lovely friend, Sandra, suggested that I have a go at simply sketching things. Not big fancy bells and whistles productions with a whole ensemble cast of pencil (and his very important sidekick, eraser), pen, ink, an array of brushes of varying sizes together with the whole spectrum of paints, no, just a simple sketch with a cast of one - the ink pen (thus removing the safety net of rubbing out any pencil marks that I wasn't happy with until I'd reached an approximation of "perfect" or more likely "that'll do") and instead having to concentrate that bit harder on getting it right-ish first time round, what with ink being permanent.

She even pointed me in the direction of Brenda Swenson and her 75 day challenge. I realised that I rarely, if ever, just sketched or practised drawing and decided this would be just the ticket to help me feel like I was doing something creative during these days of limbo before the Great Scottish Adventure begins.

Then of course I realised that the only sketchbook I had was packed away and, wanting to do it properly and not just on random scraps of printer paper, I took to Amazon to search out the perfect sketchbook for the task. The reading of many, many descriptions and reviews later, I discovered a little gem. A Royal & Langnickel A4 sketchbook with 80 pages (allowing for the removal of at least 5 really atrocious sketches when they inevitably occur) & the cherry on top - the cover is made of blank canvas inviting you personalise it!

It only arrived on Monday however and as we're getting the ferry to Scotland on Wednesday to begin the 8 hour drive to Thurso, it seemed silly to start a consecutive day challenge until we got there and got moved in.

Anyway, as the blank canvas cover was just crying out to be doodled on, I decided I could make a start on that, at least. Having decided that our country cottage requires patchwork quilts strewn across the beds in a shabby chic stylee but quickly being relieved of that notion on Googling said patchwork quilts and discovering how expensive they are, I decided to patchwork my sketchbook cover instead!  I think I'll add some colour to the cover and then next week I'll get started on that challenge!

Next time I post here I'll be in Scotland!! So excited!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Longing to Explore...

Artwork by Aimee. Bad photography by me.

Copyright: Aimee at 
So, I've been at my parents's house now since 14 December.  Christmas has come and gone and while it was all very nice and and there were lots of fattening and dangerously more-ish nibbles to eat, I've felt like we were in limbo as we just want to get moving on the house move, so to speak.  

Out Scottish solicitor didn't reopen their offices until yesterday so there was nothing to be done but wait.  Now, we've spoken to them and it's all systems go with the entry date to our new house of 18 January still being the goal.

In the meantime, each day has been a bit like ground hog day.  I get up at 7 to let the dogs out and either sit in the living room and catch up with those pesky soaps on Sky+ or if I'm feeling particularly lazy, I bring the dogs back to bed with me until about 9 (or, ahem, 10!).  If it's raining, which it has been every single day, I try to find a gap in the clouds to get the dogs out for a walk at least once, if not twice a day. What with all the rain and the subsequent mud, I seem to spend half my days at the very least drying the dogs feet every time they've been outside if not giving them full on 'belly washes' in the sink after an especially mucky wash! I know it'll be just as mucky, if not more so, in the North of Scotland but at least there we'll be near a beach.  I'd always choose wet sandy dogs over wet mucky dogs!

I have tried and failed to produce any art at all - I can't seem to find my art groove sitting at my parents' kitchen table and just can't seem to get inspired to try the watercolours I brought with me - I miss my acrylics! I feel like my muse has been packed up and is sitting in a packing case along with all our furniture just waiting to be set free in the Highlands!

Anyway, Aimee over at Artsyville, posted the above beautiful illustration on her blog a while back and mentioned that prints were available over at her Etsy shop.  Aimee is an amazing word-smith and I love her beautiful script-work so when I read this and saw how appropriate it was for this exciting stage of our lives, I had to order a print, which I framed and gave to S as part of his Christmas present!  As he now knows of its existence, I can safely blog about it!

Once again apologies about the quality of my photo - I'm a little lost without my own computer and camera so I took it on my tablet and don't know how to use the photo editing programme on my mum's PC!


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