Sunday, 26 December 2004

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

Hope you all had a good day yesterday. The landscape here has been turned into a winter wonderland. It's beautiful. I even threw a few snowballs.

Getting home was a bit of a problem last night with the rear wheel drive car on the snow. There is a very steep hill that the car refused to go up. The wheels were just spinning round and we literally slid back down to the bottom. Made it home in the end though. A bit of excitement on Christmas Day never hurt anyone.

Anyway off for a walk now to enjoy the landscape before the snow melts away in the sunshine.

Thursday, 23 December 2004


The last canvas of the year has been delivered and I've spent the whole day cleaning the flat. Very satisfying knowing that the kitchen's clean although give P half an hour in there and he's managed to use every pan and utensil. Well not tonight because we're off dancing.

Friday, 17 December 2004

Thursday, 16 December 2004

Bye Bye Revision, Hello Relationship

Yippeeee! P's exams are over.

He's not feeling overly optimistic about them though. In fact he's convinced that he's got less than 30% in one which will mean that he has to retake the other 2 even if he's passed them! How unfair is that!!

However he's been a bit of a doom and gloom merchant in the past. The last one saw a pass when a fail had been predicted, so we'll just have to wait and see.

He probably doesn't want to tempt fate.



Somehow I managed to buy all but one of my Christmas presents in yesterday's post exam spree. I expect some of the presents will be completely unsuitable (like the phone I've bought for my parents - it requires a plug socket which is miles away from their connection point - I realised too late) but I do try!

I'm going to make my sister a dough craft plaque and I need to buy Richard & Louise a bottle of wine but apart from that... the stress is starting to subside.

Just need to finish the painting commission I'm working on. It's a large version of the lily that went in the charity auction. I'm taking photos of the development so I can post them when it's finished.

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

A Special Delivery

The postman laughed at me earlier when I opened the door wearing P's bright blue fleecy hat. Well, it's cold!

I noticed straight away that he was carrying a brown cardboard package that wouldn't fit through the letterbox and my heart leapt with anticipation.

Yippeee! It had arrived.

Opening it, I felt like I had discovered some ancient rare artifact. It was, as ordered, a very old copy of Ronald Searle's Paris Sketchbook.

There's something really special about old books. I'm not sure what it is. I like wondering who owned it before me and how often they leafed through the yellow pages. Maybe it's because of the difficulty of finding an out-of-print book.

It's fabulous!

Thanks to Danny Gregory's blog which showed a couple of Ronald Searle's drawings in his Dec 10th post. I had never heard of his Paris Sketchbook before that and I'm now a proud owner.

Sunday, 12 December 2004


Have a look at this really addictive site. I can't stop playing with it.

Roll on Wednesday

A very common sight in our house at the moment. The first exam is tomorrow.

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

Anonymous Lips

Before I began the painting, the owner of this mouth asked me to smudge his 'stupid grin'. Hehehehe

Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Pastel Portrait

My latest project is another portrait. It was supposed to be a simple graphite drawing but I got a bit carried away and it's turned into a pastel painting at twice the size it's supposed to be.

I would post it here but as it's been ordered by one of my readers as a present I'd better not! You know who you are! Don't worry - I'm still only charging for the price of a drawing - call it a Crimbly present :o)

Thursday, 25 November 2004

From my Sketchbook - A Day in Chester

The Eastgate Clock - from SketchCrawl 2004 (as mentioned previously). The difference in tone down the middle is the page fold in my sketchbook. I will remove it at some point using Photoshop.

If you would like to see the rest of my sketches from the day, click here.

Monday, 22 November 2004

Sketchcrawl 2004

I had a fantastic time today participating in Sketchcrawl 2004. Artists all over the world took part in the marathon drawing session.

I got together my sketchbook, a water soluble black ink pen & a brush and I headed off into Chester. I sketched until it went dark. I love it! I sketched from the city walls, the clock on Eastgate St, one of the city gates, I drew the Roman Gardens, the River Dee bridges, The Groves, The Cross where people meet, lots of black and white tudor buildings and one of Chester's famous 'rows'.

I find it very funny when passersby try to look over your shoulder. They're very nosey sometimes, but it's nice when someone tells you you're doing a good job.

I'm going to post my drawings soon. It's interesting looking at other people's drawings of the day. One poor chap (sorry can't remember the name) put his bag down in some dog poo and managed to cover everything with it. Better luck next time.

Thursday, 18 November 2004

Chilly Billy

It's proper snowing here! Big, huge, fluffy flakes. I love the way it falls so softly and silently. I like looking up and focusing on one flake to watch where it falls. I'm just a big kid really.

Wednesday, 17 November 2004

I think I'm being half empty

I wandered into the Watergate Street Gallery yesterday while I was in Chester. This is the gallery that I proclaimed as the Holy Grail when I began my art business. I remember saying to P 'When I get my work in the Watergate Street Gallery I will know that I've made it.' I liked the gallery because the staff always make an effort to converse with the punters.

I was gazing intently at some watercolours when the owner came over.

'Are you a painter?' he asked.

'How did you guess that?' I was quite surprised.

'Ahhh... because you just look like a creative person'.

The conversation ended with an invite to show him some of my work one Monday when the gallery is quiet.

I almost pooed my pants! And now I'm panicking!! Oh shit! The little voice in my head is now screaming at me... what if he doesn't like your work, what if he rejects it, what if it doesn't sell, what if the commission is really high, what if he doesn't like the framing, what if, what if, what if!!!! Arghhh!

I really need to calm down.

Tuesday, 16 November 2004


They say that a change is as good as a rest, whoever they are. Well I think they're right because it seems to have worked. I've just spent a long weekend over at my sister's place in Lincolnshire.

It's completely rural where H and her family lives. Just miles and miles of flat fields and trees, and the sunsets are magnificent when you can see the horizon.

We've taken time out to go walking at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire and we also made it to another place where there were the ruins of an abbey, a sculpture garden, a great arts centre which was full of inspiring ceramics and also a Christmas Craft Fair complete with brass band.

I felt sorry for my niece - she's got so much coursework to do and has her mocks coming up. She had to stay at home while we went out and enjoyed ourselves.

A bit like my beloved P who had to stay behind this weekend and go to college. It made me smile when I got home yesterday to find a note sellotaped to the door. 'Welcome home Lesleyt! We've all missed you!' *We* being P, the tiger barb fish and the teddy, which is all our family consists of at the moment. I know it's a bit sad, but until we get a dog the teddy will have to do. It's great to feel wanted!

Monday, 8 November 2004

Dough Craft Ornaments - A favour for P's mum
Work in Progress - Building the under-lying texture for a landscape using acrylic media.

Friday, 29 October 2004

Time for a Refreshing Change

After all the detailed work on the portrait it's great to be able to let loose on this big canvas. Chester is a city very close to my heart and I love painting it.

I'm off there tomorrow on a girly shopping trip, not forgetting the spooky Halloween night I've got lined up for Sunday.

Speaking of the Halloween show, Richard was on 106.3 Dee FM this morning, playing mind games on the presenters and plugging his show. He came across really well on the radio.
Currently on my Easel...

Wednesday, 27 October 2004


I've been for a great walk this morning. Part of it was along the River Weaver where I used to row for Northwich Rowing Club. It brought back loads of memories especially when a couple of scullers paddled past. I really miss it, but it takes up sooo much time and you can forget your weekend lie-ins. Rowing is a lifestyle. Practically every summer weekend is spent in a tent somewhere else in the country. It was great at the time and I made some fantastic friends (and met some absolute witches!) but I don't think I could do it now. No, my rowing days are over, for the moment anyway.

I'm supposed to be playing squash tonight against my friend C. The last time I played I couldn't walk for a week because my foot skidded across the floor and my body refused to follow. She is probably going to annihilate me.

The River Weaver, Northwich.

Monday, 25 October 2004

Monday, 18 October 2004

Close Up Posted by Hello

I've also refined the 4th figure quite a bit Posted by Hello

Portrait Progress

Here's the latest on the family portrait.

I've changed the third figure quite a bit. I wasn't happy with the likeness and felt her head was a bit too big. Still not 100% there with it yet. I'm finding it hard going on just one photo when I haven't met the people. The last thing I want is for it to look stiff and unnatural.

I'm going on to refine the blond haired girl next.

I'm terrible like this. I find it so hard to decide when a painting is finished. I usually hang them on the wall for a few days so I get a fresh look each time I walk in the room.

Saturday, 16 October 2004

British Isles: A Natural History

I've been for a walk in Wales today with the folks. A weird place called Minera. Apart from stopping every other minute to look at some plant specimen (Dad's a full-on botanist) we came out at this huge limestone quarry. There were small rocks for as far as the eye could see.

So in true Alan Titchmarsh style (think I'm starting to turn into him) we started to search for fossils. Dad found a couple of fossilised shells and I found some good coral. Amazing to think that it was all covered by a tropical sea.

Can you see the shells top left?
Alan Titchmarsh

Friday, 15 October 2004

Woohooohoohhoo Hallowe'en Here We Come

Last night at our dancing class I approached Richard (who is the kind of man who has his business fingers in many pies) and asked for 2 tickets to his Hallowe'en night to be held at the most haunted building in Chester. As well as being our dance teacher he's into Derren Brown type psychology and is going to try and scare the pants off everyone after plying them with champagne.

ps. I've just joined the Blog Explosion band wagon. It's supposed to send your blog loads of readers. Hello Blog Explosion readers!

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Where's the fairy?

Dewy Morning

Little Budworth was gleaming with dew this morning. There is sooo much fungi in the woods and on the heathland. I love Autumn.

I actually remembered to take my camera and went clambering through low and broken branches like Alan Titchmarsh to get you this photo of the UK's favourite fairy toadstool.
Little Budworth

Monday, 11 October 2004

Portrait Stage 5 (Still more to do)
Portrait Stage 4 (Still a lot of work to do)

Celebrating Autumn

Recently I've been grumbling a lot about how we always seem to go straight from Summer into Christmas (that's what our local garden centre would have you think). What about Autumn, my second favourite season?

I was excited yesterday when we made the journey to Attingham Park to find a celebration of the humble apple in full swing. There was an apple/cider press where layer upon layer of mulched apples had the juice crushed out of them. They couldn't fill the bottles up fast enough for the queue of people waiting to buy it. Of course it didn't taste anything like the cartons of apple juice from the supermarket, it was in a whole other league. It tasted like apples which was a good start.

There was also a willow weaver, lots of different organic apples and veg, very curious apple leather, and a very enthusiastic story teller for the kids. P couldn't drag me away. I made another apple pie when we got home. It was just as rustic in appearance as the first but tasted much better. I am in full Autumnal swing.

Tuesday, 5 October 2004

More requested photos

The photos below have been requested by Thanks, hope you find them interesting.

I know this isn't a photo or painting as requested, but it's my favourite wall hanging. It's a clock by Claire Sowden who imo is a very talented textile artist. The heart in the middle spins round with the seconds. I bought it from Onset in Chester.

This is the current book I'm reading. Both my dad and my sister love this series of books so I decided to find out what all the fuss was about. I'm almost at the end but it's not really my cup of tea. I'm not sure if it's the writing style that I can't take to, or just the characters. A bit of both I think.

The basic story centres around a woman just back from WWII who steps through a stone circle in Scotland. She finds herself in 1743 just before Culloden. It's mostly a love story though.

The best book I've read recently is The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman from the His Dark Materials triology.

The view from my painting room

Photo Requests

Ok pj, I've decided to go with your suggestions. As requested 3 photos of the place where I work.

Flashmobbing sounds interesting but be seen in a large group of people in the countryside which quickly gathers & disperses and you're in danger of being mistaken as a hardcore twitcher.

Yes, I'm a bit messy...

I use a white plate as a palette. The black tray is partially filled with water - I rest my brushes in it when I'm painting with a different brush and it stops the acrylic paint from drying and clogging up the bristles. The white bottle in the centre is my spray bottle (see September's arachnophobia post - the spider was in the lid lying next to it).

My easel and my computer where I'm currently sitting.

*Mr Landlord please note I'm protecting the carpet.*

My poor neglected plant

Monday, 4 October 2004

Wooo hoooo!

Wow, I've got 2 readers!! Hello, thanks for commenting! I'll wait a bit longer before I post requested pics to see if there are any more.

Saturday, 2 October 2004

Joining In

I've just read the new craze is asking readers to think of 3 photos they'd like to see posted to your blog. (Things around your house or whatever.)

So, I don't know if anyone even reads my blog but I'm inviting you to take part if you exist!

Friday, 1 October 2004

Twisting the knife

I've just been to the front door and someone has shoved an NSPCC collection envelope through the letterbox.

Bad Day

I phoned the gallery. I've been putting it off and putting it off because I was so nervous that my painting wouldn't have sold in the auction but finally plucked up the courage and...

... the painting didn't sell and I feel really crushed :((

Christine at the gallery told me very few people turned up. She said (in a sad voice) nobody wanted to support the NSPCC.

It doesn't make me feel any better but I suppose I'll just pick myself up and carry on.

Wednesday, 29 September 2004

Sunday, 26 September 2004

Powis Castle

P had a day off from his accountancy revision today. The routine's only just begun and it's already a bind, but it really makes me appreciate the time we spend together.

We travelled an hour or so South to Powis Castle over the Welsh border. What a fabulous place! The terraced gardens are so beautiful with amazing views over to the mountains. We sat on a bench in the warm September sunshine and I felt really peaceful. There was a calming serenity that I'll remember every time I'm stressed.

The castle itself was very attractive. Inside the rooms were lavishly decorated with painted ceilings, wood panelling and ornate plasterwork. The library had a hidden door which, from the inside looked like shelves of books. I especially liked the bedrooms with their four-poster beds that still managed to be very cosy. I really could imagine myself living there. It always helps when the N.T. guides are friendly. The veggie soup I had for lunch was very tasty too. What a great day!

Saturday, 25 September 2004

Family Portrait - Stage 1

The group portrait is coming along ok so far. This is the stage where the figures look like the Nazi's in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the spirits from the Ark blast through them! A bit freaky!

On a more serious note, after drawing a rough layout in graphite to determine the placement of the faces, I go straight in with the acrylic (not worrying too much about colour at this point) and start to bring out the forms, the curves and shapes. In my mind I'm constantly measuring between things... the outside corners of the eyes are the same distance apart as the bridge of the nose to the end of the nose (in one case). I'm also measuring and comparing the negative, empty spaces.

Thursday, 23 September 2004


That portrait I've just started will have to wait.

I went out with one of my oldest friends last night. We met at the Broken Cross in Northwich who's bar I've not stood at since I left my job last year. It hasn't changed in the slightest and is one of the friendliest pubs I know. Anyway my friend (I'm not sure if I should mention names here although hopefully if you know her you'll recognise her!) has asked for a painting of her family to send to her mum who's just relocated to New Zealand. There will be four figures which is going to be a challenge but who doesn't love a challenge? So I may start posting the progress on this instead. The painting is from a digital image that was taken before her mum left. It's slightly blurry which could make the job more difficult but we'll see how we go.

Wednesday, 22 September 2004

Portrait Stage 1

Ok, here's what I'm up to today. I'm working through a portrait that I wanted to re-do for my friend's birthday.

I'm trying to do it as quickly as possible so I've started by drawing with graphite. I usually just plunge straight in with the paint but I thought if I did it this way I might avoid making changes later on.

Having a few problems with the eyes which are, unfortunately, the most important part. I hate working from photos! It's so much easier working from life. I feel that you get a much better likeness. When you work from a photo you're looking at just one moment in time. When you work from life you have a much better chance of showing the character, capturing the mannerisms of a person.

Monday, 20 September 2004

The Dutiful Fiance

Earlier today my dad picked some apples off their tree for me. I'm so proud of myself - I actually made an apple pie! Never done it before but it was sooo satisfying. It looked a bit, erm, rustic but it felt so good to know exactly where those apples had come from!

Today I layed off the painting and played the dutiful wife (well, fiance). I cleaned the kitchen and then made my poor revision slave of a fiance dinner. Homemade veggie chilli... followed by the apple pie... mmmmmmmmm! Ok, so the chilli burnt to the bottom of the pan, but at least I'm trying.

The portrait got a great reaction from my parents. Always a great feeling even though I know they're biased!

Friday, 17 September 2004


Oh my GOD!! A HUGE spider just jumped out of my water sprayer when I took the top off. I don't know why, but we are removing two or three 4 inch spiders from the flat every day. I can't kill them - what harm have they ever done to me except made me scream - so we take them to the end of the drive, spin them round a few times to disorientate them and let them go. I'm starting to think that they manage to find their way back in. They really do scare the pants off me.

One night at about 3am I noticed that there was a monster of a spider on the floor next to the bed. Being a complete wimp I asked P to get rid of. As he was taking it for a walk I threw my head back down on the pillow and found myself eyeball to eyeball with what looked like the mutant from Arachnophobia. My scream must have woken the entire street up. Ever since then I've found it hard to get to sleep at night.
Just about finished the portrait

Thursday, 16 September 2004

Portrait - work in progress

This portrait has been painted purely from life, but I'm going to use a series of photos to help me finish it off. As you can see it needs a fair bit of work on the background and the hands. I'm toying with the idea of toning down the purple in the background too. I will post my progress later.

Ooooooooooh the doorbell just rang and I've had a box delivered that's full of art supplies. I only ordered them the day before yesterday. What great service! if anyone is interested. There's nothing I like more than new paints and brushes. It's so exciting! I usually use Cryla paints but I decided to give liquitex a try. Oh my god! It's like a lucky dip! The box is full of shredded paper.

Work in Progress - Portrait of my father Posted by Hello

Charity Auction

Got the lily painting finished yesterday and have decided to enter it into the exhibition as an extra piece that will be auctioned at the end. The Black Sheep Gallery has organised a charity auction for the NSPCC. I will be putting a low reserve price on it and any profit made after that will go to the charity. Will be mortified if nobody bids for it!

Well it's a brand new day and I've got yet another painting that needs to be finished. It's a portrait of my dad. Every time my Mum speaks to me she asks about the painting. I think she wants to keep it but she already has so many paintings that there really isn't any room for it. Seriously, she'd have to fix it to the ceiling or something. Mum is my no.1 fan!

Wednesday, 15 September 2004

Lily 2 Posted by Hello

My first post

Well here goes...I've been wondering if this is really such a good idea. Will anyone even read this? But now I can ramble on and on to my hearts content!

I'm going to finish a painting that I'll be exhibiting in the next couple of weeks at The Black Sheep Gallery in Hawarden near Chester. I've got to get it done before my lovely fiance comes home and reprimands me for spending all day trying to work out how to blog. It's so hard to be disciplined sometimes.