Saturday, 29 June 2013

Sew what?

Day 72 of 75 

I didn't blog on Friday because I've been working on the commissioned dog portrait and I knew if I blogged I'd spend all afternoon visiting blogland and not one single dot of ink would be applied to the page. I should've been working on it today too but the animal shelter I volunteer at was having an open day so I went in this morning to help exercise all the dogs while the staff were making sure the place was all spic and span for the folk visiting in the afternoon.  

Day 73 of 75 - the end is in sight!

Then in the afternoon, I missed the open day as we had to drive to the nearest big (relatively speaking) town 45 minutes away to buy a sewing machine (I bought new curtains for the 3 massive windows in our living room but they're all way too long - the downside of internet shopping as the first lot I bought had to be returned as they weren't the right colour and it cost me a fortune in postage to send them back!)  Anyway, I can't use a sewing machine for the life of me so I'm very lucky to have a husband that can! Must've been his army training when he was young or something but he's a dab hand at making curtains from scratch so taking up a few hems will be a breeze!

Anyway, I'm linking to Alexandra's Sunday Sketches (albeit a day early) so that I can post another of the never-ending sketches from the 75 day sketch challenge. I'll be spending all day Sunday working on the dog portrait but will pop by to visit other Sunday Sketchers when I get a chance.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Dancing Lights...

'As the world slept the northern lights danced' - watercolour & ink postcard

It's Summer of Colour week 3 already and the colour combination voted for this week was purple and lime green.

It looks like I'll be sticking to the Big Skies, Little Planet series for the whole of the challenge as the two colour combos work well for these little illustrations (which are all in my Etsy shop should anyone feel the desire to purchase a tiny bit of original quirky artwork the size of a postcard!)

In other news today has been the first dry day since about Wednesday last week.  We've been blanketed in fog and had non-stop drizzly rain for days.  In fact it's been so wet we've got frogs hopping about in our driveway despite not having a pond for them to frequent anywhere near our garden!

I took advantage of the rain-free sky to take the dogs to our favourite beach for a big long walk and we ended up getting dive-bombed by very protective terns! They were all squawking and carrying on because we were obviously too close to their nesting sites and next thing I looked up at one and it swooped down towards me.  I couldn't quite believe it was really targeting me so I looked up again and it swooped down so close to me that I ducked whilst simultaneously turning away and landed in a heap on the sand!  Glad to say the dogs and I were the only ones on the beach apart from the terns!!

I'm linking up to Kristin's blog and also to the SOC Facebook page where you can see the many other wonderful submissions to the SOC challenge. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Puppy Love...

A while back, during the 75 day sketch challenge (yawn, yes I'm still banging on about that and I still have another three of those feckin' sketches to post at some point) I did a sketch of Reuben from a really cute photo I'd taken of him in bed cuddling his duck. I wasn't happy with it because I'd drawn his snout too short and it didn't look like him to me.  

S's dad was visiting at the time and had said that he would love a copy of the sketch but as I wasn't happy with it I decided to draw it again (this time using pencil so I could rub out any mistakes) and then used Indian ink with a watercolour wash.

'Puppy love' - original Indian ink and watercolour 8 x 5 inches

I scanned it onto the computer before I painted it and then printed it out on watercolour paper two different ways, one with a washout effect so the black lines were very faint grey and one just normal. Then I painted each of them as well:

Version two - faded print with watercolour - 8.2 x 5.8 inches


Version three - Print with watercolour 8.2 x 5.8 inches


I don't normally paint the same picture three times but I had printed it out just in case I messed up then found that I quite liked all three versions although I think I prefer the original.  Anyway, I'll give one to S's dad, one to my parents and keep one for myself!

In other exciting news, I've just been commissioned to do a portrait of a Golden Labrador as an anniversary present via my Etsy shop! I'm looking forward to starting that this weekend. 

For those of you who didn't see my post on Wednesday and want to find out how the Reiki initiation went you can catch up here:

                    Peaceful, Easy Feeling




I'll see you all at Paint Party Friday. Apologies for not getting round everyone last weekend but if you read the post above, you'll see why!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Peaceful, Easy Feeling...

I happened to be listening to my favourite band of all time, the Eagles, as I drove to Wick for my initiation into first degree Reiki last Saturday and Peaceful, Easy Feeling seems like a very appropriate song and post title as it is exactly what Reiki gave me.

'As the setting sun set the sky alight' - Watercolour & Indian Ink postcard

*Heads up - if you aren't interested in Reiki, you might want to skip to the links at the end!!*

I'm so very glad I went on the course. S had imagined it to be very new age with everyone wafting about wearing flowing robes and with flowers in their hair.  While I guess it is quite a new age therapy, Reiki is something that everyone, who is open to it, can learn (and it's been around for hundreds of years at least so it's not that new). I made 4 new friends, the other 3 woman on the course with me and the Reiki Master, a very normal, down to earth woman of a similar age to me and there wasn't a kaftan or incense stick in sight. 

It was held in the living room of a lovely old house with a roaring log fire and it was very much like sitting around chatting with old friends even though we'd only just met. 

We each had three attunements during the course of the first day, which were pretty amazing and more than a little psychedelic. It's possible to feel energy as heat or cold, as tingles in your fingers or the top of your head and it's very possible to see all sorts of colours and images. Some folk might get very emotional during a Reiki attunement or even just a treatment, as it's all to do with clearing blockages in your energy. It's also possible not to feel or see anything at all but that doesn't mean it isn't working - everyone is different. Turns out I'm very visual (which, what with being an artist, is possibly no great surprise) and the colours and images I saw during the attunements and the subsequent treatments and self-treatments were pretty out there. 

Following the initiation you go through a 21 day cleanse of sorts as your energies re-adjust to the new vibration (yes, it does sound a bit hippy-ish but there is no other way to describe it). We have to keep a journal for the 21 days to describe how we feel, our dreams, what happens when we practice Reiki, anything that seems different. It's possible to feel a bit ill or headache-y as your body goes through a sort of detox. So far, other than feeling a bit tired and being aware of a constant hum (I thought my tinnitus had reappeared!) which is apparently the energy, I've felt great. I've been doing a self-treatment every morning which has the bonus of calming the dogs right down too as they're in the room with me when I do it - unfortunately the calm doesn't last and Brodie still barks at fresh air once it's all over. It's a little like meditation and whatever the cynics might say about it, it's making me feel relaxed and I love the visuals I get when I do it.  

I need to practice Reiki first degree for at least 6 months before moving on to the second degree but I definitely want to do it. I'm about to read a book on Reiki for animals so that I can practice on the animals in the shelter - if anyone needs help releasing energy blockages that are causing stress, it's them. 

Anyway, if you've made it this far, I hope I haven't bored you but it really has opened my eyes (and my third eye!).

This is the second week of Summer of Colour and the colour combo voted for this week were orange and hot pink and, as you can see, I've stuck with the Big Skies, Little Planet illustrations for this week.  Pop over to Kristin's blog or the Summer of Colour Facebook page to see everyone else's creations. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

When the universe gives you a sign...

'As the fog rolled in' - Watercolour & Indian Ink postcard

Would you believe that after my post on Monday, the fairies/gremlins/ghosts/little people/universe (delete as 
preferred) decided to give me back a couple of the things that had disappeared into the Caithness Triangle in my post on Monday.

Here it is if you missed it:

                    The Caithness Triangle



Firstly the dog bowl that went missing last week turned up in the garage (turned out that was more to do with S's putting it there then forgetting, than it actually mysteriously disappearing). 

Then S was playing hall ball with a poor substitute for Reuben's beloved green ball when it rolled under one of the sofas in the living room. He had to lie down on the floor and reach right under to get it back and as he did he found the green balled wedged up in the mechanism that makes the sofa seat recline.  Which is why every time I'd looked under the sofa to see if the ball was there, I'd not seen it. Mystery solved and Reuben was happily reunited with his green ball. Of course in the meantime, I had ordered a new ball from Amazon (in the shape of a very rotund chicken) and that arrived on Thursday.It's now his new favourite and the green ball lies forlorn and unloved while Reuben and his sister, Brodie, chase the chicken ball up and down the hall instead. Canine loyalty clearly doesn't extend to balls.


'As the stream trickled down from the hills'
watercolour and Indian ink postcard
In other very exciting news, I am taking my Reiki first degree this weekend. I had been talking to one of the girls at the animal shelter who has her second degree which makes her a qualified Reiki Practitioner and, as I'm a firm believer that everything in the universe is connected, the whole concept of Reiki which translated is 'Universal Life Energy' really intrigues me. I hadn't known that much about it before although I'd come across a Reiki symbol, Zonar, online by chance last year and what it stood for appealed to me so much that I got it tattooed on my foot! Perhaps it was a sign.

Anyway, by chance (or design?) a cancellation came up on a two day initiation to Reiki this weekend in Wick, a town about 45 minutes from me, which another of the girls at the animal shelter told me about. It was still available when I phoned up about it so I took that as a sign and booked myself on it. I can't wait. I've already got a few books on practising Reiki on animals as, no great surprise, that is where my interests mostly lie.

Anyway, apologies in advance if I don't get round to visit as many blogs from Paint Party Friday as normal this weekend but I'll be off having my chakras attuned to hopefully become a calmer, more balanced and in tune with the universe version of me!

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Caithness Triangle...

'As sheep graze on pastures green' - Summer of Colour Week 1

You've heard of the Bermuda Triangle, but I think I may have discovered a new twilight zone where things disappear never to be seen again. It can happen anywhere around where we live but the epicentre appears to be our house.

So far, since moving here in January the following have either never been located during the great unpack or have subsequently disappeared without trace:-

  • The paper counterpart to my driving licence which was always kept in a file along with all my other boring but essential paperwork. Wasn't there when we unpacked.

  • The only 'proper' necklaces I owned - a Tiffany heart and a Tiffany key. I remember packing them separately to all my other necklaces,chains and bits of bling so they didn't get tangled up and break. However, it seems I put them away so carefully that I have yet to find them despite having unpacked everything that we brought over from Ireland. 

  • The stripy hat which I lost, then found, then lost again.  (Although I'm convinced I saw one of the villagers walk past our house with it on her head not long after I lost it for the second time so there might not be such a mystery to that one.)

  • Reuben found a ball on the beach a couple of weeks ago. It was love at first sight. He carried it back to the car and refused to leave it behind. After I'd given it a good wash, he lovingly transported it round the house, occasionally dropping it at our feet and nudging it a little until we got the message that he wanted to play 'hall ball' (a game devised during the worst of the weather when we discovered our very long hallway was perfect for a game of fetch). On Saturday S was playing a quick game of hall ball with the dogs before we took them to the beach. The ball was left in the house. That was the last we saw of it. It has joined all the aforementioned objects in the black hole of lost and found. I've searched every inch of our house and as much as I can of our gardens (it's a jungle out there)and it has simply vanished. Poor Reuben is inconsolable.  Well, he's not but I'm baffled nevertheless. 
Reuben with his beloved ball before it disappeared!

  • On Sunday we had summer - the weather was glorious and we took ourselves out to the garden to enjoy it. We left out two bowls of water for the dogs. Only one of them has made it back.  The other has joined Reuben's ball in the Caithness Triangle.
I may never solve the mystery of the disappearing objects but anyway, today is the first day of the summer of colour over at Kristin's blog and the colour combination that was voted most popular was turquoise and citrus green.


That colour combo was perfect for one of the Big Skies, Little Planet illustrations that I had blogged about last Friday. I just changed the title from 'As the last rays of the sun warm the sky' to 'As the sheep grazed on pastures green'

You can visit Kristin's blog on the link above or pop over to the Summer of Colour Facebook page to see what everyone has come up with for Turquoise and Green all this week. 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Summer of Colour is almost here!

Sketch 71 of 75

Tomorrow is my dad's birthday (happy 79th, Dad!) and it also sees the start of the Summer of Colour challenge kindly hosted by Kristin over at Twinkle Twinkle Like a Star blog. Last year each week over 6 weeks we had to get creative (any medium/art/craft) using a colour combination inspired by ice cream flavours.  That's how how my Doodimals came into being.

This year, Kristin has set up a selection of colour combinations which the participants get to vote on - each week the most popular colour combo wins.



I'm toying with the idea of creating some more Doodimals as I had a lot of fun with them last year. Or perhaps the colour combinations could be the perfect way to decide what colour paint to spatter over the Big Skies, Little Planet illustrations?  I'll wait and see what the colour choice is tomorrow and decide from there.

Anyway,  today is Sunday Sketches and I'm on the home stretch as far as the 75 day sketch challenge is concerned, you'll be pleased to know. As I already posted day 75 during Reuben-gate, then after today there are only 3 more to show you - then I'll have to start getting more productive as I'll have nothing left in reserve!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

It's not just black and white...

Sketch 70 of 75 - an aptly coloured animal for today's post!

If you popped by on Monday when I posted about my new series of illustrations called Big Skies, Little Planet, you'll know that today I had intended to have a few more designs completed. If you didn't read Monday's post, then you might be wondering what I'm talking about and, so that you're in the picture for the rest of this post, might I be so bold as to suggest you pop back to catch up:

                    Big Skies, Little Planet

'As the sun sets on another perfect day' - The world isn't just black and white!

Well, today has been an exercise in futility, wasted time, ink, paint and watercolour postcards all due to a complete lack of patience on my part (despite what I said previously about patience being an essential requirement for these little illustrations) which led me to creating 3 more designs which I then proceeded to ruin because I was too impatient to wait for the paint spatters to dry between colours and ended up with 3 muddy little pictures instead of what I had in mind. 

So I ripped them up and redrew them. I got as far as outlining the illustrations in Indian ink before calling it a night and deciding to wait until tomorrow to try again with the painting part - hopefully, I'll have more time and more patience and might achieve the desired effect this time.

This is where I'm at with them at the moment:

'As the stream trickled down from the hills' 

'As the last rays of the sun warmed the fields'


'As the fog rolled in'

I wanted to give each illustration a title that sounded like it might be a line from a story, leaving it open to interpretation as to what might happen next.

In other news, I'm very pleased to report that I sold 1 of the pictures ('Party Line')that I put into the charity art show last weekend. 

Also, I think I maybe mentioned a while back that I volunteered to be the secretary for the Society of Caithness Artists and we had a meeting on Monday to discuss the annual open art exhibition - this is the 78th year it's been run and it's quite exciting to be a part of it this year.  It'll be on from 23 July to 3 August and Prince Charles even puts in a couple of his paintings each year. Rumour has it that some years he even turns up in person.  I'm not much of a royalist but that's got to be good publicity for the show all the same!

Anyway, I'm linking to Paint Party Friday and want to say a massive thanks to everyone who pops by from there or anywhere else in blogland each week to leave such lovely comments - I really do appreciate every one of them and will endeavour, as always, to visit everyone over the weekend. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

Big Skies, Little Planet


'As the moon shines silver' - watercolour postcard'


I mentioned on Sunday that I'd had a little flash of inspiration on a new series of whimsical illustrations a little similar to my Twisty Town series but different all the same.

Well, I spent Sunday bringing my ideas to life and so far I'm really quite pleased with how they've turned out.  I wanted to create simple ink illustration inspired by the local countryside - little cottages and small villages and the like but I wanted the skies to look as amazing as they often do way up here in the far north. 

'As the merry dancers flit across the northern skies' - watercolour postcard

Since we moved here we've spent many evenings and clear nights staring in awe at the massive skies above us (we've also spent just as many listening to the rain pelt off the windows but let's focus on nature's brighter side!) When the sun does shine, we get some amazing sunsets and because there is so little light pollution where we live, we can see millions of stars on a clear night, not to mention the wonder of the Northern Lights at the right time of year. Looking upwards you realise just how insignificant we really are so with that in mind, I decided to call this series 'Big Skies, Little Planet'

I decided to experiment with flicking paint on to the page using an old toothbrush.  I liked how it looked on a couple of initial trials but had originally drawn the little scene after flicking the paint and then decided I wanted the scene to really stand out. So, out came the masking fluid.

'As the stars twinkle on another village night' - watercolour postcard

I drew out the little scenes in pencil first then went over them carefully with Indian ink and a nibbed ink pen (careful because these pens tend to drop a blob of ink on the page just as you're finishing the last line!)

Once I was positively sure the ink was definitely dry (after being too impatient on one occasion), I erased the pencil lines and filled in the bits of the scene I wanted to stay white with masking fluid.

Then I had fun flicking watercolour paint over the page with a toothbrush (It is hard to get out of your nails afterwards though!)

'As the sun sets on another perfect day' - watercolour postcard

These illustrations were a lesson in patience for me as once again I had to make sure the paint was dry before adding a different colour or removing any of the masking fluid - which I did a bit at a time before adding more paint to certain parts of the scene - e.g. the hills.

Anyway,  they're such simple little illustrations but they do require time and patience which meant I was able to work on several at different stages of the process at the same time.  Bonus!

'As the north wind doth blow' - watercolour postcard

I've just added these to my Etsy shop where I plan to sell them as original art work/illustrations rather than as prints although I can make prints from them should they sell well.

I couldn't wait till Friday to post these so I'm breaking form and blogging on a Monday instead although I'm hoping to have some more finished by Friday anyway

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Innocent and a do over...

'The Innocent' - watercolour & Indian Ink 5x7 inches

When I was doing some smaller pieces of animal art last week, I started off intending to do Indian Ink with a watercolour wash.  However, I was a bit heavy handed with the watercolour and didn't like the results.  Then when it came to the Moody Cow, I reverted to my comfort zone of pointillism and liked the result so decided to re-do Tilting at Wind Farms in that style too. I'd also painted the lamb above which I planned to re-do but didn't quite get round to it.

Here's what the original horse looked like. You can see the final version in my previous post if you didn't see it already. 

'Tilting at Wind Farms' version 1

And here are some more of my sketches from the 75 day challenge which finished nearly 2 months ago but yet I'm still churning them out on my blog!!


Sketch 63 of 75

Sketch 64 of 75

Sketch 65 of 75

Sketch 66 of 75

Sketch 67 of 75

Sketch 68 of 75

Sketch 69 of 75


I had an idea for some more whimsical illustrations, a little like my Twisty Towns but a little different. I'm going to be working on those today so pop back on Friday and let me know what you think. It's a bit of a departure from my usual animal paintings as sometimes I need a little light relief in the form of whimsy!

Today, I'm linking up with Alexandra's Sunday Sketches.

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