Thursday, 30 May 2013

In the frame...

'Moody Cow' - Watercolour & Indian Ink - 5x7 Inches

I was absent from Blogland last week as I had the first of the art exhibitions last weekend and didn't have any new completed pieces to share with you. We went along to the preview on Friday evening with Angela and her husband and after oohing, ahhing (and eh-ing?) over the various paintings and photographs on display I felt slightly more confident about my pieces although not necessarily about my pricing (the part I loath with a passion).

There was a great variety in both style of art and price range from £25-£500 so while my stuff wasn't the cheapest, it also wasn't the most expensive. The work on show covered all levels of competence and artistic ability but as it's such a subjective thing one man's child-like landscape is another man's perfect painting to hang on their wall. 

'Party Line' - Watercolour & Indian Ink - 5x5 Inches

Anyway, the confidence was short-lived. I'd love to be able to tell you that I sold all 4 of my paintings or that I even sold 1 of them but, alas and alack, I didn't sell any (sad face). I don't know if no one liked my work or if they deemed it too expensive compared to other art on show there. It's that old pricing conundrum again - too low and you undervalue your own worth, too high and it seems that the local folk from Latheron aren't willing to part with their £££s. I did feel a little gutted and rejected but I'm trying to tell myself that it's only my first exhibition and these things happen.  Pick my artistic ego up, dust it down and prepare for the next show. After all, Georges Seurat wasn't recognised as the ground-breaking artist he was until after his death (although I do hope I don't have to wait that long!)

Anyway, I was off in the big smoke of Inverness for a 2 day induction for my new part-time job on Monday and Tuesday so S kindly went to Latheron to bring back all 4 of my paintings saving me from the artist's version of the walk of shame. 


Whilst in Inverness, daydreaming a little during the induction presentations, I had a flash of inspiration. I decided perhaps the way forward for these local shows is to do small watercolour and ink illustrations which I can frame rather than large canvasses which take me so much time, not to mention blood, sweat and tears. So I popped into TK Maxx before my bus home on Tuesday evening and bought some frames with mounting card.


'Tilting at Wind Farms' - Watercolour & Indian Ink -5x7 Inches
I can price these much lower because they are small, didn't take nearly so much time and are more quirky illustrations than fine art. Perhaps this is what folk at these small local shows want and won't mind parting with £35-£40 for a small piece of framed original art if they won't part with £350 for a larger and more detailed piece. 

Anyway, I'm going to try my luck again with the Pheasant and the Puffin canvasses along with these three framed watercolours.  I'm dropping them off tonight and the exhibition will be on Saturday and Sunday this weekend so fingers crossed with a better variety of prices, I might have a better chance of selling something.

I missed Paint Party Friday last week so I'm back and linking up again this weekend and will endeavour to visit as many participants as I can over the weekend. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

An armadillo and a very lucky sparrow...

Sketch 62 of 75 

This week I actually have a bird tale with a happy ending. Last Wednesday I was at the re-homing centre and I was washing up the food bowls when I heard loud chirps. 'Oh, has someone brought in a bird?' I wondered. I walked out to the corridor to listen at the door of the small animal room, waiting for the chirps to come again.  Next thing I saw a little blur as a tiny sparrow flew past the end of the corridor straight into the dog kennel room!

I ran down and saw it flutter around in a blind panic before flying through the bars into one of the indoor dog kennel runs!  I got in and stopped the curious wee terrier in that run from going after this exciting fluttery toy that had landed in her kennel area.  The poor wee bird flew off again before I could catch it - straight into the kennel run of a much larger dog!  He caught the bird in his very powerful jaws but, more credit to his sweet natured wee soul, as soon as I told him to drop it, he did just that.

I scooped the wee bird up and took her down to the office where the assistant manager (who I later discovered just happens to be a qualified Reiki practitoner) held the terrified wee bird cupped in her hands for about half an hour.  There was a puncture wound just under one wing and, as birds don't have a lot of blood, they can't really afford to lose any.  Anyway, after half an hour of being held, the wee bird calmed down, started showing signs of wanting to be let go and pooped in the assistant manager's hand by way of thank you for saving his life!

I took him outside and set him down at the back of the shelter where the sparrows had made their nests so he could be found by his mum or siblings. When we went back to check on him 10 minutes later he was gone so thankfully he was still able to fly despite his wee injury. Never a dull moment at the animal rescue shelter!!

In other news, today I'm off to Latheron to drop off 4 pieces of art for the first of the exhibitions which is on next weekend. I'm taking the Puffin that finished last week as well as Phillip the Pheasant's painting and these two older pieces (in place of the Highland Coo and the Lost Sheep pieces that sold).

'The Clown of the Sea' - acrylic on canvas

'Not fair game' - acrylic on canvas

In you I trust - acrylic on wood

A view less ordinary - acrylic on canvas

We're going to the preview night next Friday with my new arty friend, Angela, and her husband, Michael, which I'm looking forward to. 

I'm linking to Sunday Sketches, hosted as always, by Alexandra.  Still working my way through posting these darned sketches from the 75 day challenge!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Clown of the Sea...



I wanted to paint a puffin for my series of animals of the Highland paintings for the upcoming local exhibitions but unfortunately we are yet to spot one of these elusive little clowns of the sea up here yet (perhaps the never ending winter might have something to do with it?)  



Anyway, Paint My Photo and artistic licence came to the rescue once again. There were lots of great puffin photos to choose from and I used this one kindly posted by Lynton Bolton and just placed the puffin against the backdrop of Duncansby Head up here on the north coast of Scotland to give it a local flavour. Well, that is one of the spots where they have their burrows so if the puffin won't come to Duncansby Head, I'll just have to bring Duncansby Head to the puffin by way of some acrylic paints and a bit of pointillism!




This is the photo I used as reference for the background:

Duncansby Head

Here are the stages the painting went through:

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5 - final piece

I'm linking, as always, to Paint Party Friday, and will endeavour to visit as many folk as I can get round tomorrow. I've sold a couple of the paintings I had planned to put in the exhibits in May, June and July, which is brilliant except it means I have to work extra hard to finish a few more or I won't have enough to show!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Nosy cows & a gecko...


Sketch 61 of 75

You'll be glad to hear that I don't have any sad tales of nature today. The sheep which were living next door to us with their adorable little lambs moved to a new field last week and yesterday we got some new neighbours who think nothing of staring straight in our windows - the proverbial nosy cows!

The old neighbours

The new neighbours

The bottle of pearlescent medium I ordered to make Phillip's feathers pop arrived so I went over the painting a little with it - it actually really makes a difference.  Hopefully you can see it a little in these photos.  




Happy mother's day to those celebrating it this weekend (we had ours in the UK back in March) and Happy Sunday Sketches hosted as always by Alexandra.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Phillip: A Eugoogly...



This really hasn't been a good week for birds at Craggis Cottage.  First we had Reubengate, which if you missed it you can find out about here, and now our beautiful feathered friend, Phillip, is missing, presumed dead.

Last Friday, he got in a big fight with some of the other male pheasants over mating rights with the ladies. He injured his foot  - it was swollen and he was limping badly but still making it over to his little spot at the fence for his dinner when he saw us shaking the seed bag and calling to him.



On Saturday and Sunday his limp got worse and the young contenders to his alpha male title were circling him like little colourful vultures, trying to steal his ladies and taunting him because he wasn't able to stand on both feet.  He valiantly tried to keep fighting them off. On Sunday evening, like defensive parents, we shooed them away so Phillip and his ladies could enjoy a meal in peace. That, sadly, was the last time we saw poor Phillip alive. 

I started my new job on Monday, he wasn't around before I left in the morning and still hadn't appeared in the evening when I got home. However, the other male pheasants had started hanging around his spot along with his ladies which gave us a sense of impending doom as to his well-being. 



We didn't know for certain that Phillip has shuffled off this mortal coil, however, we feared the worst, that either he had succumbed to the infection in his foot (I had wondered if I could take him into the re-homing centre, for the vet to have a look at, if I could've caught him but, alas, it is not to be) or had been too slow getting across the road from the woodland where they roost to the fields where he entertained his ladies. 



Then, on Wednesday, when I was driving back from the re-homing centre, I saw a pheasant lying in the middle of the road in our village. He'd obviously not long been knocked down. I couldn't leave him lying there to be squished into the tarmac, so I pulled over and lifted him onto the footpath. As I set him down (checking to make sure he was definitely no longer with us as there were no obvious injuries) I noticed that his right foot was badly swollen - I can't be certain, as surely Phillip wasn't the only pheasant in the village with a sore foot, but my heart sank a little with the knowledge that it quite possibly was our little feathered friend.

So, sadly, my latest painting has turned into a memorial of the lovely Phillip, taken from us too soon. Still, at least he wasn't shot by some arrogant twonk with a need to prove either their masculinity or their aristocratic bloodline and ended up on someone's dinner table.  

As for my painting - the colours are more vibrant and the blue is more teal in real life than I was able to capture on the camera.  Also I've ordered a bottle of medium which you mix with acrylics for a pearlescent effect which should hopefully bring out the shimmery beauty of Phillip's feathers. 

Here are the stages he went through:


Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Session 6

Session 7

Session 8 - Final 

In case you've never seen Zoolander (if not, rent it right now, it's the funniest film ever) and are wondering what a Eugoogly is, this is one of my favourite quotes which will lighten the mood after my rather depressing post.

'I thought you were going to tell me what a bad eugoogalizer I am.'

'A what?'

'A eugoogalizer.  One who speaks at funerals.  Or did you think I'd be too stupid to know what a eugoogly was?'


I'm linking up, as always, with Paint Party Friday (just a little bit early this week) and thanks to everyone again for popping by and leaving such lovely comments.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The trouble with nature...

Reuben - looking like butter wouldn't melt!

Yesterday something horrible happened.  My beautiful, soulful-eyed, little boy dog, Reuben, who is gentle and needy and always needs to be touching you, reminded me that ultimately nature wins over nurture.  He killed a little bird.

S had gone out to put food in the bird feeder and a tiny siskin  got into the back porch. The previous owners used it as a greenhouse and had put up bubble wrap on the windows for some reason and the wee bird got stuck between it and the glass. Before S could free it, it managed to get out but instead of flying out the top of the bubble wrap, it flew out the bottom and Reuben grabbed it. S made him drop it immediately but unfortunately because it was so very tiny and delicate the damage was already done.

S came in and told me what had happened.  I was glad I didn't see it myself. The dogs were sent to bed in disgrace and I went out and picked the wee bird up. I will admit that I even tried massaging his wee tiny bird chest but it was just too late. I was gutted.  


Reuben, the killer.

I know that Reuben is a terrier and it's instinctual but there's that silly wee part of me that was thinking 'I didn't raise you to be a killer, Reuben'  and 'Where did we go wrong' as if he was an actual human kid who'd gone off the rails! Anyway, he certainly knew I was disappointed in him and put those hang-dog eyes of his to full effect to win me round.


S spent the afternoon taking down all the bubble wrap from the porch windows and then called me out to the garage where he'd laid it on the floor so that we could jump around all over it like a couple of middle-aged kids - popping bubble wrap is so therapeutic - I just wish we'd taken it down before it caused that wee bird to get trapped.

I'm linking today with Sunday Sketches, hosted as always by Alexandra. The sketch I'm posting is actually the last one in the 75 day challenge but it seemed appropriate to illustrate today's post so it's jumping the queue a little! I'm annoyed that I drew his snout too short but hey ho, I plan to turn it into an acrylic painting so I can hopefully get it right then. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Where the wild things are...

A sneaky peek of Phillip's eye

I had hoped to have Phillip the Pheasant finished to post this week but although he's almost there, he's not quite ready so instead here's a sneaky peek of part of the painting.  I should have him finished in another session or two.

So in lieu of the entire painting, here are a few more of those sketches I did for the 75 day challenge - yes, yes, I know I finished the pesky challenge on 5 April but I still haven't posted all the sketches (and looking at some of them, I'm not altogether sure I should - the frustration and desire to have finished the challenge were setting in around this point and they get much quicker and much sketchier - which I suppose was the point!) I'm posting 6 of them today to bring it up to 60 otherwise I'll still be posting them come Christmas!

Day 55 of 75

Day 56 of 75


I don't have much to report this week.  Let's see - we did find another sheep with it's legs in the air and her wee lambs all gathered round her - we happened to take a wee back road we don't normally take so you could say it was serendipity for the sheep that we found her - we went into the field and got right up to her before fear of us overcame her apparent inability to right herself and she got on to her feet again and tootled off without so much as a thank you! S said we're turning into a couple of hippie sheep rescuers! I love it!

Day 57 of 75

Day 58 of 75


I was telling the girls at the Animal shelter and apparently another volunteer also found two sheep on their backs this week but when she got up to one of them, although the sheep was still alive, hooded crows had pecked her eyes out - totally horrific, I know, and another reason why it's so important to help them back upright.  

Day 59 of 75

Day 60 of 75


By the way, if you didn't see my post from Sunday, you might be wondering who exactly Phillip the Pheasant is so here's a wee recap:-

                     The Best Reality Show:




Happy Paint Party Friday and thanks to everyone who leaves me such wonderful and encouraging comments. I do try to get round as many folk as possible - the only downside to such a great on-line art community is finding time to visit everyone!!

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