Sunday, 27 December 2009

Calendar Challenge

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and its 
first chapter is New Year's Day"
Edith Lovejoy Pierce

When I posted my art calendar at the beginning of the month a lot of you expressed an interest in having a go and Kate over on The Kathryn Wheel is throwing down a 365 day challenge. I am more modest and propose a month at a time  as sometimes I find making a long commitment off-putting. But either way, please join in, make a January calendar and post a link here or with Kate - she'll be posting soon. Here is how I do it, but really anything goes. I fill mine in retrospectively, sometimes several days at a time, and with just a doodle or a rubber stamp, so it need not take up much time. I use a double page spread in an A4 'portrait' spiral bound sketchbook. I use a pink pig as they are cheap and sturdy.

Then I decide on a background

I often use a layer of gesso first as I like the texture it gives. For January I wanted that watery sun look, so I started with a pale yellow and then rubbed  a blue colour from a water soluble crayon and added some torn images of bare trees.  For this project I printed the month, year and days of the week rather than writing them.

I cut out 31 4cm x4cm squares - sometimes in just white, sometimes from off-cuts from other projects and work out how I am going to arrange them. Don't forget the 1st of January is on a Friday.

I decided each week would start with Monday so had to rearrange the squares.

When I am happy I stick everything down and add a few embellishments - here I have a couple of January quotes. If you click on the pictures you should get a large images so you can see the details.  Have a go and have fun.  I would say that one of the liberating things I have taken on board in keeping an art journal is that anything goes-embrace any mistakes and incorporate them into the work. There are lots of different calendars here on this flickr page - good luck.

January opens 
The box of the year
And brings out days
That are bright and clear
And brings out days
That are cold and grey
And shouts, "Come see
What I brought today"

Leland B. Jacobs 'January'

Link to last month's diary here.  And older ones here .

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Berry Merry Christmas

Happy Christmas to all my talented Blog friends around the world who have enriched my life.
It is a pleasure to open my Blog and see who I am going to chat to today.
Have a great holiday whatever your pleasure, and look forward to hearing your news.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Winter Solstice Greetings

Soon the days will be getting longer!

More of him later...

I have been busy over the weekend - the Christmas cards are posted, the decorations down from the loft, presents bought - if not wrapped and the house reasonably tidy. As we are having a very quiet Christmas there is not a lot more to do - just the last bit of food shopping.  So I have had time to play with my new toys.

lino prints

After my couple of days etching in the autumn, I got the urge to do some printing and lino is an easy one to do at home. As well as a piece of traditional lino I also got a piece of synthetic lino which I used for this ATC sized print. I tinted the paper by rubbing stamping pads on thin card and printed with some water soluble printing ink. Of course I had to have another go at needle felting too - quite a contrast to the messy printing. But both are involving sharp tools! I hope you like my little 'blue-tit' loosely based on the real bird using the rather bright colours I had. Thank you to everyone who has sent me links to needle-felting sites, they have given me lots of tips.

Stand by your journals
A reminder soon of the challenge to create an art calendar page for January.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Winter photography

My re-entry into the world of art and crafting started three years ago when I bought my first serious camera - a Nikon D40 DSLR. As I had no idea how to get the most out of it I registered with the Open College of Art for their photography course. After a year I upgraded my camera to the D80 and have completed another course, the work for which is at the early months of this blog.   Now my camera has to fight for time with all my other projects, but I do enjoy creating abstract  images so I thought I'd share these with you.




Friday, 18 December 2009

A Week too early!

Viburnum Tinus

Erica Carnea

Vauxhall Astra

As you can see, we live in the eastern counties that got a good few inches of snow overnight, with the look of more to come this evening.  Of course I had to get out with the camera and there will be more on my flickr pages over the next few days.  I was pleased that I took notice of the weather forecast yesterday and we went to the supermarket to do our weekend shop a day early - the cupboard was bare, so now we are well stocked up.  The advantage of living in a town like Luton is that we also have three corner shops  a couple of minutes walk away - including a post-office - so there is no need to go short of basics. 
We don't seems to have had a postal delivery today, but I did see Gary the postie in his shorts yesterday, I hope he hasn't caught pneumonia!

Keep warm

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Blame it on the blog

It all started with a lovely surprise.
A little Marvin arrived in the post from Lesley of Printed Material

'How did  you do it?' I enquired.
'It's needle felt' replied Lesley, 'You need wool and a needle.  You stab the wool with the needle.'
'That sounds interesting' I thought.
wool, needles, foam (to stop you stabbing yourself supposedly)
roll wool
 more Google and Youtube
stab, stab, stab
twiddle, fiddle, stitch

Tra laa

...only drew blood once!

This could be the start of something big!

I've got a way to go before I can create such lovelies as the cute cat, but a furry fish is a start!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A quiet moment

Here is my contribution to a quiet Advent moment.
I don't know about you, but all creative activities have had to take second  place to Christmas preparations. Trying to fit in a few minutes quiet contemplation seems to be difficult, but I usually manage to stop and watch the birds on the feeders while drinking my morning cup of tea. I enjoy the fact that as well as the cyclamen flowering,  I have an azalea about to bloom and my orchids will be out for Christmas.

This was a couple of years ago, it is considerably larger now.

I hope you manage your own few moments of peace.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A more cheerful note ...

Here are a couple of pictures I took of our resident robin last winter.  He went on to find a mate and raise a family.  I would like to think it was the same robin who is in my garden this year, but it is probably very unlikely.  A couple of winters ago I joined the BTO garden bird watch scheme which entails keeping a weekly record of the birds that visit the garden and then submitting the counts on-line.  I have always enjoyed bird watching in a rather casual way, and I am pretty good at spotting the common varieties so taking part in this programme was not much bother. I keep a list of the usual visitors in my kitchen and tick them off when I see them adding any unusual visitors as I go. I feel it is important to make sure our little feathered friends are protected as they give so much joy.  It is probably hypocritical of me to keep a cat as I know domestic cats can wreak havoc especially at nesting time, but luckily Marvin is not much of a birder and vary rarely makes a catch even when there are fledglings about. Counting the birds has made me realise what a variety do visit and I have at least 15 different species a week. Special visitors have included flocks of redwing, a gold crest, greater spotted woodpecker and sparrow hawks. Gold finches have been daily visitors all year and I often count eight at a time, and a group of house sparrows are now regular callers since I feed daily through out the year. But my favourite are long tailed tits which arrive in flurry and are off again after a few minutes frantic feeding. More information about British Trust for Ornithology  here.
(Feeling much better thank you all)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Knotted breath

Last year, a few months after I stopped teaching I had a few health issues, one being trouble with my breathing.  I had always been a bit wheezy but this was a rather frightening episode linked to damaging some nerves in my upper back. It was even suggested I was having panic attacks. I am now on a daily regime of inhalers  but like many asthmatics vulnerable to chest infections.  I had drawn the figure above when I was feeling really bad, I wanted to convey the feel of restricted breath.  Earlier this year I scanned and enlarged it using it in one of my journals which have been instrumental in helping me evolve my new life-style. I found it very difficult to let go and allow myself the indulgence of exploring myself, so a pictured like this represents a lot more than a physical restriction. Sharing it with the world on my blog is another step.
I have a cough right now which always makes my back vulnerable and consequently I have pulled a muscle which I have done before.  I am well equipped with ice-packs, heat pads and a support belt and hope to be back to normal soon. I'm not looking for sympathy, but hope my picture conveys the desperate feeling of having to work at taking a breath both physcally and metaphorically.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

After....and before

Just thought you might like these two images - my sister and I were given these Noddy and Big Ears egg cups rather a long time ago - late 50's early 60's and they both ended up living with me. They live on a rather high shelf in my kitchen and when I was looking for something to photograph for a project called Top Shelf I though I would get them down. Well as you can see, they were in a very sad state, but a little TLC soon had them back in the pink!

Noddy's hat is a little faded, his neckerchief has frayed and his bell has lost it's tinkle, but they are still quite charming.  I have lots of other old bits and pieces on that shelf - old tins and packets collected over the years, perhaps I should get them down too!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

How exciting!

Don't you love it when you get a package through the post - I was too excited to photograph it before I opened the jiffy-bag, but grabbed my camera before I  unwrapped the parcels from Jane at Marigold Jam. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

I had an extra surprise when I double checked the jiffy-bag before disposing of it, as nestling at the bottom was another little package! This was a length of woven Santa Claus ribbon.
Thank you Jane!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Shopping - an ugly rant

I do not like shopping any more - I'm not counting the weekly supermarket trip, I do not consider that to be shopping as such, what I mean is window shopping, browsing, choosing and spending.  I don't mind the spending bit,  if I find something that I want, I'll go for it, but I can never find what I'm looking for!

Getting to the shops is the first hurdle, and this time of year it is even worse. I want to know WHY AREN'T ALL THESE PEOPLE AT WORK? When I was working I imagined empty car parks and echoing shopping malls, but they are full of  people - and not all of them look like pensioners like me. If they are unemployed I feel very sorry for them, but what are they doing down the shops? (I know that is horrid of me, but I am in a very grumpy mood). When I do find a parking space and fight my way through the crowds no one has what  I want. Don't start me on clothes,  I am not slim, not eighteen but not yet ready for 'classics'.  I want clothes that are warm and washable and a bit trendy - why have chunky jumpers got short sleeves this year? I get cold arms.
I also want a birthday card for an 18 year old nephew  - not a decent one anywhere, of course the shops are full of Christmas cards - I know I should have got one last month and I know I could make one, but 18 year old lads want something  a bit cutting edge.
Even the craft shops in my local shopping mall has run out of the craft paper and the pens I want. Everyone is making birthday cards for nephews.
Back home to my journal - a few old magazines, glue, paint, a touch of Teesha Moore and I'm feeling myself again. I can make do with the clothes I've got, wait for paper and pens 'till I make that special trip to the art shop and  the nephew will have to put up with the only card I found in Luton, I'm sure he won't care after that first legal pint! Aah that's better, who needs retail therapy - it's blog therapy for me.

PS I'm thinking of making a January calendar challenge for all those of you who have said you are going to make one - what do you think?

Monday, 30 November 2009

Good bye November, Hello December

November all filled in. If you click on a day you can see all the details. The blank calendar is here

So here comes December...

One - gesso over two pages and then  squirt on acrylic paint and spread it around.

Two - get lots of green and add layers and patches of different tones, rub them in and rub them off again.

Three - Add a bit of printing with bubble wrap and sequin waste stencil in black and red and mix it all up.

(close up) - and a bit of paper doily stencilling in blue

Four- more stamping and adding lots more textures

Five - stick on the squares and label the days of the week - cut the letters for December out of 'optic' sticky back plastic - twiddle  about with gold and silver gel pens and I'm ready to go!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Flying through

Been a bit busy this week.  I haven't had time to do a lot of journalling or anything else art wise until today when I prepared my December calender pages which I will share with you when the month changes.
I have been out twice this week at our favourite venue,  The Stables at Wavendon near Milton Keynes. Last Tuesday Mr T and I saw Ralph McTell and on Friday we saw Thea Gilmore. I had intended to include some YouTube footage but the system wasn't playing today. I also had an evening with girl friends and went to an old friend's birthday party last night. No wonder I felt a bit pooped today, our evenings out are usually only once every couple of weeks or so these days.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


I have to believe I am living my dream.
I can spend as much of my time as I like here...

 ... my work station with my four journals - the A4 'Pink Pig' spiral bound, large and small moleskines and my little handmade book. (More of that another time)

The sun shone this morning and Marvin called me into the garden to play, but like most cats was quickly distracted by the birds on the feeder for which I am grateful, for I really do feel the fool turning in circles on the lawn with a garden cane for the cat to chase!!

and here is Marvin wishing he could fly

Monday, 23 November 2009

and the winners are ...

After a ceremonious draw by Mr T I declare the winners to be:
Printed Material

So as soon as I get your address I will be sending off your envelope. I am really excited as I will be posting to Thailand, Australia, Scotland, Wales and to my own county of Bedfordshire. Your three cards will be randomly selected as I am putting them in envelopes so I won't know who is getting what, except it will be one of each design.
You should be able to e mail me through my blog profile.
I am sure I shall do this again sometime as it such fun contacting people from all round the world - have a great week.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Hi there

I'll be making my draw tomorrow and will be contacting the winners soon (I have a bit of a busy week coming up) - whether they think they are lucky will remain to be seen!
Meanwhile here is a water colour exercise done by my sister Janet she has posted on flickr. She is really pleased but is not very confident in her ability, so if you have moment and are registered with flickr please drop her a line by clicking here, she would be so chuffed to get some comments.

Janet's ivy leaves

Friday, 20 November 2009


(Please click on the photographs for a larger view)
Although I love painting and drawing sometimes it is photography that just touches the spot.
Earlier this week the sun was shining after a rainy night and everything was glistening  from the light of the low sun. This is an ornamental crab apple tree in my garden and each apple had a drop of water hanging on it. The shadow of the fence was deep but the sun caught the fruit giving it a wonderful glow and the blue sky was captured in the drop. I am so pleased I took the two Open Collage of the Arts photography courses, they have given me tools to capture what I see. I was delighted with this shot - especially with the way the stem is also glowing red. It has only had the minimal adjustment to the contrast.

Initially it was these back-lit leaves that attracted my attention making them glow against the dark holly tree. A large aperture ensured a shallow depth of field throwing the holly out of focus, the sparkling water on the leaves giving the 'bokeh' effect much loved by many photographers (In case you are wondering 'bokeh' comes from a Japanese term used to describe the out of focus area of a photograph especially when lights form little discs of light)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Indulge me ...

I wrote this in August and just found it in my journal, so I thought I'd try layering it on a painting I had done of 'snow in summer'
I am not normally taken with writing, but on reading this I remembered the afternoon well. It  started as just a list, and I am not claiming any literary merit, but what a blessing keeping a journal is, otherwise this magic moment would have been lost.

There is still time to enter my draw, I am delighted so many of you have responded, but sorry that it will mean some will be disappointed.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 16 November 2009

Give Away


"Headdresses" (there are six of these)

Here goes, I've never done this before, but I have 18 little 6x9cm cards to give away in three different designs (They may vary from the ones shown) so I thought that I would give them to six of my 'followers' who care to comment - three each, one of each design but lucky-dip as to which ones. After a week I'll randomly choose the six  and ask you to e mail me your address. I hope this is fair. If less than six enter I'll share them out accordingly.
I enjoyed making these and thought it would be nice to share, hope you think so too.
The little collage meadow cards were inspired by Angie Lewin, the headdresses by the Omo people and 'Marvin' by my cat who I love to draw.