Thursday, 21 December 2006

The locals

Been spending some time in one of my favourite places... Cornwall. I have hundreds of photos to sort through. It was a bit cold for sketching, not to mention wet! But we had a good time anyway and I always come away feeling inspired. I like it in the winter. Polperro, where we stayed, is lovely and quiet (and very friendly) unlike the summer when it's rammed full of visitors. The only downside is the short amount of daylight although it does leave more time for drinking the great cider and mulled wine!

Friday, 17 November 2006

Feels like Christmas already!

Great wrapping!

My gorgeous new earrings from sulu-design

My favourite sulu-design earrings

I was so excited when these gorgeous earrings arrived, so beautifully wrapped, all the way from New York. They were made by the very talented Susan of sulu-design (who also has a brilliant blog which I'm addicted to!). You can find her Etsy shop here.

I love the fact that someone has taken the time and care to make them and that they're one of a kind. I also like the thought of my money going to an independent maker rather than a big chain store. The blue ones are my new favourite pair and everyone has been commenting on them. Thanks Susan!

Wednesday, 1 November 2006


I've had a bit of a change of direction recently which is why I haven't been posting many paintings. I've been experimenting a lot to find new ways of working and I'm excited to be using a bit of typography in my work in a decorative way. It feels very comfortable and almost like a missing link to me. I've also been experimenting with acrylic glazes and the possibilities seem endless. This piece is one of the first I did and is one of the smaller ones at 125 x 180mm.

Right... back to play, I mean work!


Last night was great! We made a bit of an effort this year and tried to scare all the little kids who came to our door trick or treating. To be fair most just laughed at us. I wish I had a photo of my other half to put up here because he looked hysterical with a red cape, black and orange wig and flashing horns. I dressed up as a witch and served up bloody marys, frog soup (not real frogs I must quickly add) and orange chocolate cobweb cheesecake. The Corpse Bride arrived from Tesco dvd rental just in time. What a brilliant film! I think you could watch it over and over and pick out new things each time. Loved it!

Monday, 9 October 2006

portrait - detail

A recent commission

Thought you might like to see a portrait that I finished recently. It's acrylic on a box canvas measuring 20" x 16". The painting was commissioned as a present for someone and I'm told that the recipient was very happy with it. Always a relief to hear that!

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Summer's back!

Another summery pen and ink drawing of some flowers in the garden. It's an amazing 25 degrees here today. September is turning out to be warmer than August.

Thursday, 31 August 2006


A close-up of my sketchbook. I really like how this black ink separates into different colours when water is washed over it. My clever niece reminded me of how chromatography works. Thanks, A! Here's a link I found that explains more.

A page from my sketchbook

Something to prolong the summer.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

A sad story

When I opened the curtains this morning I jumped when I saw a bird of prey lying on it's back underneath the patio doors. I thought at first that it had broken it's beak but it was in perfect condition. I thought back and remembered hearing a thud on the roof. Did this bird fall out of the sky?

It is currently lying on the balcony just in case it came back to life and so the local cats wouldn't get it. It turned out to be a Sparrow Hawk and it is incredibly beautiful. I felt that I had to draw it - I would have felt awful if I hadn't - don't ask me why.

Now, what do we do with it?

Sparrow Hawk

Such a pretty face. It almost looks as though it's alive with it's eyes open like this.

Beautiful markings.

Amazing yellow legs and feet.

This is how I found it. It was a bit of a shock. I really hoped it was just stunned but unfortunately not.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

centranthus R. 'coccineus'

Here is my sketch of the plant we managed to get from a perennial nursery as a souvenir. Now everytime I look at it in the garden I will be reminded of our trip. It is the same as the plant in the photo below, only more of a red colour.


These flowers were growing wild everywhere in Pembrokeshire and I fell in love with them.

Thursday, 20 July 2006


My sketch of Porthgain harbour where we sat and ate icecream and watched the boats come in.

The Shed in Porthgain

Here's a quick sketch of the inside of The Shed restaurant. I loved the scene of organised chaos, all the tea pots, glasses and bottles behind the counter and the curtain drawn back to reveal a bit of the kitchen.

Porthgain Harbour

Porthgain drew us back a few times. It's such a lovely place with it's sweeping curve of a harbour and fishing boats.

There's also an interesting gallery, a quaint old pub called the Sloop Inn and an award winning restaurant called The Shed. They're renowned for catching their own fish to cook in the evening. P and I had a nice meal there but I have to say the hightlight was the damp lemon cake I had when we popped back another day. It was deliciously light and moist! I was going to draw it but it wasn't on my plate for very long.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Camping in Pembrokeshire

Our tent

Camping... Would we survive a week in a small 3 man tent?!!

View from the tent 3

This was the view when we opened the front of our tent in the morning. I was mesmirised by the changing moods of the sea.

I couldn't get over the amount of wildlife we encountered. It was brilliant!

The funniest thing that happened was each night there would be crashing and banging outside and then the sound of plastic bags being flung about in the porch of the tent. Every time it happened P would sit bolt upright and thinking it was seagulls (it was just getting light at about 4.30am) would start hitting the inner tent while trying to get the zip open. It had always got away before we could see the blighter. The barabrith that we bought had vanished and we never even got to try it.

On the 2nd night P was a bit faster with the zip but thought he might have been dreaming when he saw a badger stick it's head under the door. The next night was really windy, the badger didn't hear me open the zip and I got the best view ever. It was basically sniffing around, sticking it's dirty snout in P's sandals (very brave), and then scared itself by managing to get the lid off the cooler box. Why oh why didn't I have my camera? It really was incredible! On the penultimate night we got back to the tent to find something lying outside, and then we saw a few shadows disappear up the bank. On closer inspection there was hot chocolate powder EVERYWHERE and we could hear them laughing as they ran away.

We stayed just outside St David's (which is the smallest city in the UK - it really is a lovely village with a great big cathedral). It's a great place and there's a fabulous restaurant called Morgans. The food is top class and the owners are unpretentious and passionate about what they do.

In St David's Cathedral I drew these floor tiles. I'd spotted them on our first trip here a couple of months ago but didn't want to hold our friends up too much by sketching every 5 minutes. Yes, the birds really were like that - cute!! The patterns were very stylised and graphic in just 2 colours each. The tiles were in shades of terracotta, yellow ochre, dark grey and lemon yellow.

I made lots of drawings over the course of the week and when my camera battery ran flat I spent even more time than usual because I didn't want to forget anything! I'll post some more soon.

Thursday, 8 June 2006

Sketching trips with my bike

A couple of weeks ago the weather improved (it's boiling hot today!) so I decided to set my bike up with the handlebar bag that P bought me for my birthday. It's roomy enough for my sketchbook, pens, ink, brushes, pencils etc, my camera, a cereal bar, a few coins for emergencies, my phone (also for emergencies), and a gazillion other pockets for bits and bobs. I was brimming with excitement as I set off on my adventure!

I found that when I wanted to sketch that if I stood with my legs either side of the bike it meant that I could lean my sketchbook on my bag. Perfect! It was all so convenient.

I have a bit of an obsession with the radiomast that sits on the hill above the forest. I'm thinking of sketching and painting it from lots of different places so the scene is always different but will have a common theme. I once knew somebody who rather than walking through the forest decided that he just had to climb the hill to reach it. I think that's what set me off.

This is the sketch I made before I took the photo. I'm looking forward to returning to this field when the barley (?) turns golden brown.

Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Wonderful Wales

These are from my sketchbook last month, done when we had a long weekend in Pembrokeshire with some friends (thanks C and B if you read this - we had a fabulous time!). One of the great things about looking back through drawings are the great memories they wash up. Just enough information and emotional triggers to make a painting I think.

That photo of my paintbox (from the last post) was taken on the beach whilst I was doing the bottom sketch. I brought the piece of driftwood it's sitting on home with me with the intention of painting onto it.

I also took a photo of the scene for reference and it's interesting to for me to see which shapes I focused on and made most prominent. I can see that I should have made the central rock darker and the sketch makes it easy for me to see where to crop it for the best composition.

It was my first real visit to Pembrokeshire and I loved it there so much. It's unlike anywhere else I've been in the UK. It reminds me of how Cornwall used to be when I was a child, much quieter than you would expect but all the more lovely for it. There are some really beautiful beaches and it's rich in wildlife. We went on a fantastic boat trip to see seals and sea birds. The puffins were a favourite and were a lot smaller than I thought they'd be.

The sun came out for us too. Just look at that gorgeous turquoise. I can't wait to return. It won't be long... we've planned a camping trip. Hurrah!!

Friday, 26 May 2006

I love my art supplies as much as painting itself. I think I'm addicted to all the tools that go with creating, and the possibilities that lie within them. I love the process more than the outcome. It pushes me to experiment and to try new things.

Friday, 17 March 2006

My Mum again

Here's my mum again. Finally finished yesterday!

Mum was a good sitter although I'm sure she won't mind me saying that she talks a lot. I think it is because I know her so well that I was able to get a good likeness! My mum likes it. Both my dad and my brother think that it is an unflattering painting but to me it just says mum and I am pleased with it. I think it's finished although if I keep looking at it from time to time I will probably find things to change. That is what usually happens.

Our house move went ok but we are still living in a bit of chaos. I hope to do more painting from now on though (and I don't just mean the decorating walls kind!)

Thursday, 19 January 2006

My mum in acrylics

My mum... well half of my mum! Hopefully the other half will get done today. I'm fairly pleased with it but I think I might move the lips up a bit. My dad said that it was very good and that she looks as if she's just told him off. Not the facial expression I was looking for!

It feels good to be painting again. I found it really hard to get back in the saddle after Christmas especially with the house move coming up. We're moving next week and I feel as though I'm stuck in limbo. I can't wait to get settled in the new place.

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

My sister's Mince Pie Recipe for Matthew

10 oz Plain Flour
5 oz Butter/Margarine (Hard)
3 oz Lard (Hard)
Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Level Dessert Spoon Caster Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 Large Egg Separated - Use Yolk and a little white (White remaining for brushing over pastry)
8 oz Mincemeat ***
Icing Sugar (Dusting)
Greased pie/cake tins

1. Use all the ingredients (except the mince meat and most of the egg white) to make the pastry.
2. Chill it in the fridge for at least 30 mins before rolling.
3. Cut out rounds using crinkle cutters (you'll have to judge the 2 different sizes for the top and bottom) and put into your greased tins.
4. Put a heaped teaspoon of mince meat in each pie and cover with your smaller pastry circles.
5. Put 2 little holes in the top of each pie to let the steam escape.
6. Glaze with the remaining egg white.
7. Cook for 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees C (not sure what that is in Fahrenheit).

*** Edit *** This is the fruit sort of mincemeat which contains dried fruit and spices

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Happy new year!!

Just a quick post to say happy new year to everyone and to apologise for the recent lack of blogging. I hope you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas too.

P and I made Christmas dinner for both sets of parents which went surprising well (it was the first time either of us had ever attempted it) although I think I may have mildly poisoned P's parents with some chocolates I made. Maybe I will stick to painting them in the future.

The best ever recipe for mince pies is from my sister, the secret ingredient being lard (yuck, it really stank!) but the pastry comes out soooo short and delicious.

Our purple chilli lights got rave reviews. You can see some of the salt dough snowmen decorations that I made last year.