Saturday, 31 October 2009

A New Month Dawns

Along with Art Journalling I have discovered calender making - so I thought I'd share some of my efforts so far. So here are August and September...

If you click on the image you can see some of the detail - but I apologize for the less than brilliant photographs. These are in  A4 size Pink Pig sketch books.

Here is October with just Friday and Saturday to fill in. These are great fun - especially if you like doodling. Sometimes I feel like writing, or sometimes just a minimal bit of rubber stamping will do - 'cos on some days nothing much does happen.

So today I prepared November.

I layered the background with gesso, acrylic paint and watercolour pencil - and printed with leaves and my favourite sequin waste. Then I cut thirty squares from various coloured papers, made days of the weeks labels and the month title ...

... and I am all ready for November.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Luton Hoo Walled Garden

Gateway to the garden

Let me introduce you to the walled garden at Luton Hoo. I have an artists access card which will enable me to visit the garden a couple of days a week for the next year to take photographs or sketch or whatever. Today I had my first chance to explore and I am so excited at the opportunity I have. Let me fill you in with a quick bit of history first. The Luton Hoo estate has a long history but is most well known for its beautiful house and gardens designed by Capability Brown. In the late 1760s/70s an octagonal walled garden was built. This was to be a botanical garden to grow exotic flowers, fruit and vegetables. In the 1880s Sir Julius & Lady Alice Werner had a glass house built by Mackenzie & Moncur. After WWII the cost on running large estates became prohibitive and the garden and glass houses gradually fell into disrepare. The house was sold off and is now a luxury hotel and spa, but the estate is run by a different management. A great project is in hand to restore the garden and there are many volunteers working on researching the history of the gardens, fund raising, restoration and gardening. The garden is vast and surrounded by a 19ft wall which creates a micro-climate. There are many glass houses, an brick outbuildings which have been used in lots of TV series and films - if you are interested you can read about it on their website here  and there is info about the estate on wikepedia.

Inside the garden

The garden is divided by a great 'diaphragm' wall which increased the area availble for trained fruit trees. I hope this gives you an idea of how vast it is.

Through the gap

This is taken from the great glass conservatory looking through the gap in the 'diaphragm' wall to the far gate.

The Mackenzie & Moncur conservatory
This has been wrapped in plastic to try to stop it deteriating any further.

I will definitely be sharing more photographs of this wonderful place with you. I am actually more interested in making more abstract, graphic images, but I thought I'd start with a taster of the whole garden.

(No guarantee on the accuracy of my historic information) 
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Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Here is a page from my larger Moleskine sketchbook with 48 'inchies' I doodled when my eyes were having a good day. Never one to overlook a good idea I discovered the concept of "art journals" earlier this year. This seemed a wonderful solution to my problem of having lots of art projects floating around on untidy bits of paper and the feeling that when I did feel in a creative mood I had to produce something for a wall. An art journal is the perfect solution. My art had a valid home and the whole philosophy of art journaling is to free yourself from restrictions so:
No. 1 Rule of Art Journaling: anything goes.
I started my journal in rather nice 'Pink Pig' A4 spiral bound sketch book I had bought sometime ago, because I loved the cover, but hadn't know what to do with so my first journal was started. But then on flickr everyone was talking about moleskines, which I had never heard of. Well after a quick 'google' to the Moleskine site I had to have one or two or three. I am not one usually to jump onto a bandwagon, but I have to admit I am hooked.
 "Inchies" are another thing I discovered on flickr and as a veteran doodler the idea of producing a one inch square of art really appealed so I had to have a go. I posted my first attempts onto my flickr page and then kept a few ready cut blank inchies for those moments when I wanted a little doodle.
And then there is my pocket size notebook moleskin which is just for me - and an occasional share.
Here is yesterday's page.

I try and write/draw/paint/doodle in it most days.
Oh then there is my Art journal calendar... another time I think...

landscape inchies
Landscape Inchies
marvin inchies
Marvin Inchies

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Today is grey and damp - a horrid mizzle in the air - scuppering my plans to go out with my camera - but never mind, I am definitely in a better mood than yesterday morning, although by the end of the day I was cheered. Today I have played with paints and ideas for actually painting on a canvas. It is so cheap to buy stretched canvases these days, I have got them from B&Q and and from Dunelm. They are probably knocked up in a Chinese sweatshop (but I won't think about that today) I have gessoed my canvas and added a layer of paint and now must wait for it to thoroughly dry. I have aims to develop my thistle head idea from here
Here I have posted a drawing of a bunch of chrysanthemums I did several years ago, which I always liked when I came across it in a trawl through my sketchbooks. So I thought I'd give it a second life and cut round the drawing and stuck it on a prepared background in my art journal embellished with a bit of stencilling from sequin waste - a mainstay for art journal creators.
Chrysanthemums in October always make me think of my poor old mum, who spent her last few years in a nursing home, where she was cared for with much consideration. Her birthday was in October and she always seemed to have chrysanths on her windowsill through out the winter months. So these are for her.
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Friday, 23 October 2009

Let go

It is such a lovely morning and yet my body is feeling it's age plus - I want to go out make the most of the mild weather and beautiful sunshine, but my body says curl up with a book. Sometimes we just have to let go, stop trying to control our lives. I shall sit indoors and look out at the garden, may be with my sketch book, may be not. Appreciate not having to go to work, appreciate being able to go with the flow and relax rather than making myself feel I ought to be out gardening or walking or something active. This is what I am learning to do... there will be another sunny day, let it go, it doesn't matter.
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Monday, 19 October 2009

Time to move

All summer I have been working in our 'conservatory'. I use this description with care as an estate agent once informed us that in fact it was a 'lean-to'. It is in a rather sad way, with rather peeling paint and a saggy floor. I have filled it with bits and pieces to disguise its shabby state. When it falls down we will replace it with a modern plastic one. But in the meantime I shall have to evacuate as it is too draughty to heat ecconomically. It is a great place to work as there is great natural light and a view over the garden - although rather too hot on sunny summer mornings.
I was going to head this piece my 'glory hole' as this is how my grandfather described any messy, untidy corners my sister and I created. I thought I'd google the phrase to find the origin and had a rather nasty shock at it seems have several dubious sexual references which I choose to ignore. I think (and hope) my grandfather's use for the phrase originated in the navy, for - guess what - a mess. I'm so glad I looked it up - I could have had a few disappointed visitors!!!
So I am moving all my messy art 'stuff' into my study, which we had converted from a rather small garage. I need to do some really serious reorganising as this also houses my computer and photography equipment which don't mix well with gesso and ink! I won't feel so free and easy sloshing around the paint, but it's an opportunity to explore different fields.

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Friday, 16 October 2009


Let me share this with you, I have been working on it, on and off for a couple of weeks;  paint, collage, colours pens etc.
I feel qute odd about creating images like this which are rather sentimental and decorative rather than what I consider to be 'real art'.  I love doing it, but feel very inhibited for somehow I feel it is less worthy than more serious work. This is my dilema - and it is self imposed, because I can do what I like, but I feel that out there are unknown critics who will laugh at me, does anyone know what I mean?  However the most important thing is I enjoy doing it and I hope you enjoy a view.
By the way - I love Autumn, especially when it is being as kind to us as this year.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Year 4 are having a special visit to the Road Safety centre for some invaluable lessons about keeping themselves safe.  There are several police officers to welcome them, they are part of the education team.  Chantelle is holding onto her teacher's hand, she is excited, she doesn't get to go out to places much and 'Miss' likes to encourage her and keep a special eye on her.  As they go into the centre Chantelle becomes even more excited,
"Miss, miss, look!" she implores her teacher.
"What is it Chantelle?"
"That policeman Miss, I know him."
"Do you Chantelle, are you sure?" Miss asks.
"Yes Miss, I recognise him, he arrested my Mum! For swearing at him!"

A recent story from the school where I taught for so many years - there was enough material for endless blogs, some funny, some sad, and some enough to make you mad!!
I thought I'd share this little gem with you. 

(Unrelated police officer I photographed at this year's carnival)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Work in progress

I loved these musk thistles I photographed last month.  They are so viciously spiny and yet thistledown is so soft. I am working on some ideas.
This is my first sketch - pigment liner and colour pencil

and this is what I am working on at the moment which I thought I'd share

acrylic with some gel pen. It could be left like this or I may work in creating more textures. I like to live with something a few days.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

An invitation to see my etchings

I had a wonderful day at an etching workshop run by Karen Cameron at Great Linford Arts Workshop which is in Milton Keynes. So let me take you through my day.

I decided to use the sketch I had made of some echinacea which I have already posted in my blog
here. So here I am revealing the first print from my plate...

... and here it is
 (if you click on it you can see all the detail)

I haven't explained stage two, which means covering the plate with a soft wax and then adding some texture. I experimented with pressing some leaves and fibres into the soft ground and making sure the flowers were masked, gave it another acid bath.  Here is the plate inked up.

You can see the textured surface, which resulted in this print...

I had such a great time I decided to go again.

Here's my friend Sally who told me all about the course, working on her plate...

and here is Karen (on the left) and another view of the workshop. It is in a wonderful setting and Karen was a great tutor, inspiring and instilling confidence.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Duncan and Cathy I seem to have delete your comments accidently - nothing personal, I didn't even get to read them all through )-:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Nothing better to do

This is Marvin, my rather large very friendly ginger cat. He talks to me a lot, and here he is sitting at the top of the stairs having a chat. I used 'Paint' to convert him into a painting - it took rather a long time but at the time there was some really boring TV!!
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Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Might be best to give me a miss - don't want you catching anything!

Three little spotty frogs

Sorry they are a bit out of focus, but I was having to kneel down, hanging over the pond sideways on, with the macro lens - a point and shoot camera may have been better in this situation!
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Sunday, 4 October 2009

Teeny tiny frogs

I have a planter in my pond which is home to about ten baby frogs ranging from the size of my thumb nail to my little finger nail. I am amazed that they have only just transformed from tadpoles and hope they survive the winter. They seem to like each other's company and sit in a heap-I love them and have to check  up on them every morning. They are obviously finding something to eat so I hope the mild autumn continues so they are fat enough to hibernate.