Thursday, 31 October 2013

Art Every Day Month - Day 1

'McFly' - Ink and Gouach on Recycled Card 135mm x 135mm

So, I've been unusually productive this week. I finished another bird house which I blogged about earlier this week and another pointillism landscape which I had intended to blog about today. However, I happened to read Denthe's latest blog post where she mentioned that she's taking part in Art Every Day Month for November over at Creative Every Day blog and I decided that I might like to take part in that. Not that I don't have enough on my plate with the Christmas Exhibition and Christmas Fair coming up but I seem to be having more creative ideas than I have time to realise these days and, sure, it's good to keep challenging yourself!


You see, I recently ordered some recycled brown card stock with a view to use it for printing greetings cards but it didn't work like I had hoped and I didn't really want to have to print onto white paper and then glue that onto the brown card so anyway,  I've been taking photos of the dogs at the rescue centre and although I don't have 30 of them as yet, I had the idea that perhaps I could do pen and ink sketches of the dogs directly on to the brown card stock and add a little bit of gouache to brighten them up and that could be the art I do every day for this challenge (or if I can't get 30 dogs to sketch then I can include the other art I'm working on as it all counts, I guess!)  I'll be selling these original sketches in my Etsy shop and will donate a percentage of the price to the Rescue Centre where these lovely dogs are temporarily resident. 

Look at that sweet face!

So, this is the first one for the first day of the challenge - 1 November.  This is the newest dog to arrive at the shelter.  He is the most adorable and affectionate wee collie, very nervous but super cuddly. I don't think he'll be too long waiting on his forever home. I always imagine what I would call the dogs if they were to share our home and for some reason this little guy seemed like McFly to me so that's what we'll call him here!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Snow birds...

...But not the kind with grey hair that flock to Florida for the winter months! This is the third of the painted birdhouses I'm doing for the Christmas fair.  What with the clocks going back and winter fast approaching it seemed appropriate to do a winter themed birdhouse and what other bird is more associated with winter than the robin redbreast (although we've seen them all year at our bird table!)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Inchmore Gallery - CD Art Exhibition

'Proud Phillip' - Pheasant in gouache 11.5 x 11.5 cm

My arty friend, Angela, is the font of all knowledge when it comes to what is going on in the art world up here in the far north of Scotland. She's always lets me know any time there is an open exhibition or craft fair that I hadn't already heard about.

Last week she told me about Inchmore Gallery, located near Inverness, and their winter CD art exhibition. I read the email and wondered what a CD was. I mean, I know it's a disc for recording and playing music but as this was about an art exhibit I didn't make the connection and wondered what sort of art technique CD might be! Not afraid to look stupid, I emailed her back asking what, apart from a music disc, was a CD? Angela patiently informed me that was exactly what it was and that the whole point of the exhibit was for established and emerging artists to submit work measuring 11.5 x 11.5 cm which would then be exhibited in clear plastic CD cases all over the gallery. It was a chance for people to purchase affordable art with all the pieces ranging in price from a minimum of £20 up to about £70-ish. Genius.

Now the closing date for submissions was Tuesday 22 October and I really didn't think I would have time to create anything new with such short notice but I set aside the bird houses and the pointillism landscape canvasses and set my mind on painting at least one CD case sized piece of art. 

First was Constance, a highland cow.  I do love these wonderfully hairy creatures and thought it would be the perfect subject to try out my gouache paints again.  

'Constance the Coo' - Highland Cow in gouache 11.5 x 11.5 cm
Then I decided to have another go at Phillip, our poor deceased Pheasant (who has been replaced, at least in terms of coming by every day for breakfast and dinner, by Pedro who has managed to survive a whole year of shooting and cars that drive too fast - yay for Pedro!) 

I cursed and swore my way through Phillip in gouache, painting and repainting both him and the background umpteen times before declaring the painting ruined and whipping up a little watercolour and ink version instead.  However, on Monday morning I decided to give the background one last try and with the paint barely dry, I posted both versions of Phillip together with Constance off to Inchmore Gallery.

'Phillip Revisited' - Watercolour and ink expressionism 11.5 x 11.5 cm
It turns out that photographers can submit pieces too and I mentioned this to S as he has some great photos. He ended up submitting four brilliant macro shots which went on their merry way along with my paintings.

Credit S: 'After the rain'
Credit S: 'Coccinella'

Credit S: 'Wet Petals'

Credit S: 'Wee Bee'

The opening day is Saturday 2 November so we're planning to take a drive down to Inverness and have a wee look see.  There will be over 300 pieces on show so it'll be interesting to see all that is there. 

Now, back to the birdhouses - Christmas is fast approaching!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The End of the Summer...

'The end of the summer' - acrylic pointillism on mini box canvas (5 x 5 inches)

So,  everywhere I look these days I see fields of gold with round bales of hay scattered all about them. It's a very clear indicator that we've come to the end of the summer and the farmers are preparing for the long, cold winter ahead getting the hay stacked to feed their animals when they can't find the grass for the snow. 

Despite the slight tinge of sadness they evoke that summer is really over (when sometimes we weren't quite sure it had even begun!), I love the way the hay bales look stacked in symmetrical rows as far as the eye can see. I was driving along the one road that serves the whole of the north coast one day a couple of weeks ago and the sky was grey but with one gap in the clouds where the sun was shining straight down onto a field of hay bales, emphasising the wonderful golden colours in the field and I decided I had to try and paint it.

Even though we are surrounded by these wonderful, golden fields, I hadn't managed to get a reference photo to work from so I went to my usual wonderful source of all things photographic - Paint My Photo and I found this photo which I liked by Val D. I did use a lot of artistic licence as I wanted to create a more whimsical feel to the scene by making the field more of a round hillock and I wanted a blue sky so I made that up as I went along!

As with most of my art it looks better if you stand back and squint!
So, as there's an exhibition coming up at Caithness Horizons in Thurso in December which I plan to submit some pieces to I decided to try some landscapes without any animals in them (gasp!) showing different scenes reflecting the local countryside at different times of the year. I had an idea in mind of how I wanted them to look but, try as I may, my paint brush just wasn't translating what was in my head. I was just about ready to ditch this piece and had already painted over the canvas in black to start over when I thought I'd give it one more try. Almost without thinking about it, I started adding little dots of colour and it ended up being a pointillist piece - it seems that no matter how I try to move away from that style it keeps popping back up. It seems, that when all else fails, this is my 'go to' painting style!

Just to put the size in context!
I'm nearly finished the second one now and I hope to get 5 done in time to submit them by 25 November as well as finish another 4 bird houses for the Christmas fair on 7 December. This is when I miss those long summer days with plenty of daylight  (even if it was raining at least it was light!) Now there seem to be less hours in the day for painting because the light fades so much more quickly. 

Anyway, in other news this week, I was driving to the animal shelter on Wednesday when I saw a sea gull sitting in the middle of the road. He didn't seem able to move although he didn't appear to be injured but I knew he'd get squished by cars so I wrapped him in an old towel I keep in the car for the dogs and took him to the shelter.  We set him in an empty run but unfortunately he must've had internal injuries because when I went back to check on him a while later he had died, poor guy. 

In other blog news, here is the logo I mentioned last week that started life as a paw print design for a tattoo. I decided to recreate it but add the rainbow paint spatters to it and I really like how it's turned out.  I'll be adding that to my stationary and whatnot.

Also, if you missed my earlier blog post this week you can catch up here: (I'll warn you, it's a bit of a rant!)

                                         There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness:

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  I'm linking as always to Paint Party Friday and will try to do the rounds in between bird houses and pointillism landscapes!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness...

Jotter Doodle - Chakrabbit  - paint spatter watercolour & ink

Recently I learnt about a really horrible way of hunting known as 'lamping' which involves big, strong, testosterone-filled men (or women) going out at night with really bright spotlights which they shine into the eyes of ferocious predators timid, little rabbits. The light blinds them and the rabbits do what prey animals are known to do, they freeze, in the hope that if they don't move they might be safe. Their eyes reflect the light and then the hunters shoot them, much, I imagine, like shooting fish in a barrel.

At the moment we have quite a few baby rabbits at the re-homing centre. They're adorable, frightened, nervous, little things that to me are the epitome of innocence. How anyone could take pleasure in shooting these gorgeous wee critters is simply beyond my comprehension. 

I know that farmers will say they are pests, that they eat the crops and cost them money but, like everything else that seems to have gone wrong in nature, mankind can usually be found at the root of it. We introduced them to Britain from their native Spain in the 12th Century and we all know how successful they've been at breeding (like rabbits!) Of course, as soon as some other species dares to eat something that humans can make money from, they become a pest and so we decide we have to get rid of them. It's just a shame that we can't leave nature alone and let it look after itself. 

Anyway,  I got off my soapbox long enough to create this wee jotter doodle, inspired by the cute bunnies at the centre. I found this quote by Han Suyin on-line and it seemed pretty perfect.

Jotter Doodle Greetings cards available in my Etsy shop 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

A view of Derry/Londonderry

'Peace Bridge, Derry/Londonderry' - Watercolour paint spatters & Indian Ink

This week I've got something a little different from my normal subject matter. These are two pieces that I was asked to do by my mum in the style of the Big Skies, Little Planet illustrations. She's a member of a Women's Institute (W.I) and they are looking for small gifts to give to the members of a visiting Institute later in the year. She had shown the committee my fridge magnets and suggested giving out fridge magnets with illustrations of landmarks in Derry, my home town.  

Here's what they actually look like: Peace Bridge & Guildhall if you want to have a look!

I don't do architectural/structural drawings (whimsical imaginary cottages don't count!) so this was a bit of a challenge for me. I wanted them to still be in the same quirky style of illustration but also to be recognisable as the landmarks they are. It did take me a couple of attempts before I was happy with the Peace Bridge but I think they turned out okay. 

'Guildhall, Derry/Londonderry'
Watercolour paint spatters & Indian Ink

Mum has given them to the committee so now I'm just waiting to hear back.  I don't suppose that nepotism will come into it as mum doesn't have any sway over what they decide, unfortunately!! Still, fingers crossed, and if nothing else it got me out of my comfort zone to try drawing something slightly different from normal. 

I've been working on a couple of other things for both the Christmas craft fair and the Christmas Art Exhibition both being held in Caithness Horizons but they're all still works in progress so more on those to follow.

The other thing I did this week was recreate a design that I had created a couple of years ago and which I had tattooed onto my back with the words 'Art & Soul'.  I decided it would fit as a sort of logo for my blog/shop/business cards and so over the next wee while I'll set about adding it to all my stationery and whatnot.  I added it to the back of a card I sold on Etsy this week and I quite like how it looks!

That's all my news for this week.  Quite a short post by my standards! Winter has set in early up in the Highlands and the computer is in the only room in the house that the previous owners didn't put a radiator in so it's kinda cold and I don't want to hang about too long up here!

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday and will visit other blogs, old and new, over the weekend on my tablet from the warmth of the sun room downstairs!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

It was a hoot!

Owl Birdhouse - balsa wood birdhouse painted in acrylic

I got back from Florida on Monday night at midnight - I left on Sunday afternoon and it took a taxi journey, two flights, a bus journey, another flight and a car journey before I finally made it back to our wee cottage!! It was a bit of an epic journey but totally worth it!

My sister and I arrived in Fort Myers on Wednesday night without our luggage - apparently a 'glitch' on the conveyor belt in London Heathrow resulted in half the passengers on our flight arriving without their suitcases!! Luckily we went back to the airport on the Thursday morning and our suitcases were waiting for us in the American Airlines office so we didn't have to go shopping for new dresses for the wedding!

The view from our hotel room 
Thursday we spent with our friends at their home and we spent Friday and Saturday at the Naples Bay Resort sunbathing, or should I say lying under the shade of some palm trees by the pool as it was so unmercifully hot and humid that we were like Irish flowers wilting in the heat! Thank the universe for fake tan as I don't think my peely wally skin was ever going to acquire much of a natural tan in only two days!!

Naples isn't terribly vegan friendly. My sister and I went to 5th Avenue for a meal on the Friday night and searched fruitlessly for somewhere offering something that hadn't once had a mother. I asked at one restaurant if they had any vegan options and was assured they did - they could offer me chicken and rice!! Eventually we found a very lovely Italian place and had a delicious pasta dish.

My sister and me with Scott and Scott, the happy couple

The wedding took place on the Saturday evening at Naples Botanical Gardens. The ceremony was outdoors in the gardens and then we went into a lovely air conditioned room for a super meal (the chef made me some top notch vegan courses!) It was a fantastic night with much dancing and laughing and making new friends. 

Our lovely new friends, Jim & Jim
We've already agreed to go back next October over Halloween and spent longer there. Scott & Scott and their friends are planning to take us to ZombiCON which is apparently a huge street party in Fort Myers so I'm already looking forward to that and have been bending S's ear about booking our flights as soon as possible!

I started this Owl birdhouse before I went on holiday and finished it off this week. I've got another 4 to do for the Christmas craft fair and need to come up with different ideas of bird and house themes. I was wondering, if they proved popular, if it might be a good idea to offer a service of commissioning personalised ones. My friend Carol had suggested personalising them with names and I was thinking of taking it a step further and painting the whole birdhouse to order - what do you think, a good idea or not?

I'll be linking up with Paint Party Friday this week and will enjoy visiting the folk I've not seen for a week or so!


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