Wednesday, 31 December 2008


As the main images wont enlarge, Ive added these small clopseups from each of the zentangles.

Ive been reading about these abstract penwork images all over different blogs and decided it was time I had a go (apart from one tatty one I tried last time I was at Anitas). So yesterday I decided to share the warm cosy sitting room with my husband during the afternoon and simply let the pen flow. I was hooked - went to bed with my moleskin and a set of pens and started another one - when the village church clock struck 2 am I had finished two more!!!!

This is number one I created in the sitting room with sepia pens of different thicknesses. I started with curvy shapes and filled them in one by one.

Number two was created in bed and where the shape of the horn, viking boat or whatever it looks like to you, came from I have no idea... but it speaks of growth to me.

Number three took me on to 2 am in the morning with a sore wrist and thumb. .. but this time I deliberately started with the five petal shapes and moved on from that. This is my favourite as its less heavy. Its strange as you can change focus and see different shapes appearing. Looks like the world is cracked but there is a safety net around it and there is still clean fresh growth sustained by a small pot of soil. Some of those shapes at the bottom look like patterned enormous prawns!!! Great fun.


Friday, 26 December 2008


Took the girls for a walk up the lane, through the allotments to the park with swings and slides, etc whilst the rest of the family and friends were only just stirring. There are many an area of chickens, ducks and turkeys there throughout the year and we were surprised to find this magnificent specimen still roaming around in his lovely big fenced off space. Maybe he has become a family pet and they didnt have the heart to prepare him for Christmas Dinner!
Isnt he handsome. Must sketch him some day. Everyone has collapsed in the sitting room watching Mary Poppins, so I popped up to my study to add these photos before starting our evening meal.

Thanks for all your lovely Christmas posts and greetings. Its been wonderful being part of art blogger at Christmas for the first time.

Monday, 22 December 2008


Sandra came to tea and looked round at my numerous hanging works around the home. She was amused to find three nude figures of herself in my bathroom, as I met Sandra when I was attending life drawing and she was the model! She introduced herself to Clive, my husband, with ' you might not recognize me now as I have my clothes on today'!!
Here is the painting created from three sketches which Sandra could hardly recognise as I altered her size in each pose for the composition and she has now lost a stone in weight!! (you may have seen this painting before as I posted it in April just after it was created)

Sandra has just finished her project as co-designer for the Christmas Show at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich 'Merlin and the Cave of Dreams' and is currently working on a series of Norwich paintings ready for an exhibition in Rouen with the Norwich 20 Group.

Todays project was to look at how one creates a blog - so she can't wait to get home and try.

Saturday, 20 December 2008


This afternoon I prepared a Christmas greetings to all my blog visitors using gel pens and water colours in my moleskin sketchbook. The angels are copies of two glass figures I have decorating my fireplace at this time of the year .

as there has been a problem with enlarging the original image I have edited this post and added the garland as two separate pages and hopefully they will enlarge.

Wishing you all happiness at Christmas and throughout the coming Year. ...
and thank you for all your encouragement and support throughout 2008.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Usually during the winter I make plans and experiment for the new year to come. Whilst at the Holt show recently I spied a new DVD by a local Norfolk artist (Brian Ryder) I have admired for many years and even attended one of his abstract courses when he brought out his book BEYOND REALISM. I could not get home quickly enough to play it and Clive made me a pot of tea, I put my feet up and had a glorious 2 hours watching him work plein air in oils along the Norfolk north coast.

As I presume he is sharing his techniques with his fans, I decided to get out a panoramic style canvas and cover it in a mix of poly filler, gesso and a touch of pinkish acrylic just as he casually mentioned in the DVD. I remember asking him at the course how he felt about other artists 'stealing' his ideas, and his reply was great ....' those who are professional will not wish to and amateurs wont be able to' - Where does that leave me????? Anyway, its the only bit I propose to copy from him.
I have a need to create a number of works along the River Bure by our local riverside pub THE RISING SUN for next Easter, so thought it could be my winter project - albeit from my photos, ie today I walked around (got my feet soaked on the common) with my camera for some unusual shots without boats but inundated with birds as. joy of joys, its been a lovely sunny winters day.
Here's how the first one is going from a photo I took in the summer:
This is the very early stage of adding thinned oil white and cream shapes to the polyfilla/gesso base.
(afraid due to the angle of the photo the canvas perspective distorts the buildings and you dont get the effect of a wide format) This is to show you how I am working on these cold days - not downstairs in my stone floor fully windowed area where my studio easel resides, but upstairs in my study with my lovely warm radiator full blast. Ive covered my two tiered desk with an old orange curtain, and sit comfortably with the canvas propped up on the ledge and equipment all around me. As you can tell, I dont copy my photos slavishly.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


You may remember I had a beautiful sketchbook made for me to record flowers from my garden and it turned out that once a month seemed to be the order of the day - so for December I noticed there was ivy- two types - holly and periwinkle which was in bloom and rambling around the pole and area where we keep the dustbins!!!!

As usual you can enlarge by clicking.
This is the double spread, which looks a bit muddled, but it grew as I worked on each plant piece and finally added some penwork to fill the gaps!! The bottom two coloured variegated ivy looks a bit heavy but I think that was the use of naples yellow for the creamy inner areas. Think I should have picked a bigger piece of this to improve the composition, but there we go.
Here is the spread split into pages for more detail:
left hand page showing the colours I used - mostly Winsor and Newton or Senellier.
This is the right hand page of the spread and as there were two types of ivy, I decided to do the more common one in pen only behind the colour.
So that ends my monthly efforts for 2008 and I look forward to the snowdrops to start next year's entries.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


click to enlarge
Thinking of something completely new for the regular group to create in December, I decided to purchase various shaped blank cards with apertures for artwork, so that they not only learn to work in miniature and reduce the subject matter, but create special Christmas cards. Our local gallery (Swallowtail Coltishall) has a vast selection of craft materials as well as art supplies, so I was able to purchase square, rectangular and cameo aperture blank cards with envelopes.
I took along a ponsietta in my round pot I used for the demonstration the other weekend (previous post) , a selection of ribbons, stars, glass and ceramic angel figures, a ceramic snowman, some fancy candles and lots of baubles etc together with cones, holly and ivy. Our small group (depleted due to local winter bug) had the fun of choosing what they wanted to do and prepared thumbnail sketches to decide which shaped card would be more suitable for each chosen subject.
Here are some of the results:

A bit of light hearted fun for the last workshop of the year.

Thursday, 4 December 2008


Now we are in December I am thinking of all you mums dashing about ferrying various children to rehearsals of pantos and plays, attending parties, extra shopping, wrapping, keeping secrets and the myriad things we do extra at Christmas time in a family. .. that we all really really love doing.

So I thought you would like a lesson in RELAXATION - from one of our lovely cats.

This one is part rag doll, very lazy and laid back and quite beautiful with fluffy coat and she is called PETAL. . named by our daughter when she purchased her for me as a birthday present some 6 years ago. Her coat is darker than it should be with this breed, as it is dark chocolate underneath but turned black as mummy had a fling with the black tom living on the farm next door!!

Petal sleeping on my bed one cold winter's afternoon recently.

Strangley our other cat was always destined to be named FLEUR - she is a Burmese Blue and I'll post some photos of her one day. . but she is the active one and hard to get a similar pose!!!

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Had a lovely lazy morning reading the weekend papers after my hectic few days and decided to paint some pansies this afternoon whilst Clive watched football. About the only flowers out now in the garden, except for some late flowering shrubs, but these blooms are so tiny - like little dots in a cluster. I think for the first time in this sketchbook from a photo - I certainly was not going to sketch outdoors in these temperatures.

So I am keeping to my plan (almost last day of Nov) of getting something from the garden into my handmade sketch book every month. Wonder what will be there for December and January. I know there will be snowdrops in February.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


I'm off tomorrow to deliver work to a Christmas Show in the west of the county (Norfolk) and then going on to my daughters for an evening and night. On Friday I will make my way to a friend's watercolour exhibition over that way before motoring home. So I wondered what I could put on my blog's latest post and thought 'Ah yes, Christmas' - as I am taking some of my Christmas greetings cards for sale, thought you might like to see the images of four pieces of older acrylic work , which I use to create my own cards this time of the year.
1 - Fresco Angels 2 - Light of the World (my version!!)
3 - Three Wisemen 4 - Whilst Shepherds watch
All four original paintings sold and for some reason of other I have not got back to working in this style in liquid acrylic. Silly aren't I?? Bit early to wish you all a Happy Christmas, but just imagine I sent you one of these nearer the date???!!!!!

Sunday, 23 November 2008


I little while ago the owner of the local Swallowtail Gallery advised me he was arranging an OPEN DAY for his gallery , framers and art materials business in the village and invited me to do a watercolour demonstration to publicise my local WORKSHOPS. What a great opportunity to communicate with more people interested in art. The event arrived yesterday, and as you will see we could not have chosen a worse weekend weather wise - as can be proved by my garden photos taken this morning. Thats right it is snowing in lovely Norfolk and looks delightful but keeps people at home!!!!

David had publicised the event at a number of local villages, art orientated clubs such as a calligraphy group and weekly art groups and shops and as a result about 40 people came through the door. There were two other demonstrators - one showing visitors how to use the silk painting kits David sold in the gallery and his wife and children creating some very unusual animated greetings card kits also on sale ( which I plan to purchase for my grand children to do over Christmas when the family are staying with us for 3 days) .
At one time I had a number of people looking at my sketchbooks, the workshop guidelines folder and images of work created by students during some of our different workshops on tonal studies, watercolours, acrylic and flowers. Then once I actually started the watercolouor subject a group stayed for quite a while asking questions about such things as advice on the brushes and the manufacture of watercolours etc I use. We practically had a mini class on glazes, colour theory, etc and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was pleased to see some of my workshop publicity leaflets were taken. So here's the subject :
click to enlarge both images
I used Senellier and a few Winsor and Newton watercolours and round Cirrus Kolinsky Sable brushes 0, 4 and an 8 and taped some 200lb Sanders Waterford NOT paper onto a board.

Monday, 17 November 2008

BOATHOUSES AND BOATS gesso and watercolour

I've been having a difficult time these past few days working on my third local landscape to pair with the Wells painting I recently posted. I felt it had to be another watercolour on gesso, but the first attempt seem to get all muddy (something I greatly dislike in a watercolour) and I was having trouble trying to make the sky plain and clean to offset the great deal of detail of the trees, river, boats and boathouses. I decided I didnt think it was good enough although by chance it has a sultry feeling of a storm coming.
click to enlarge

So I began all over again with a fresh piece of watercolour with a layer of gesso. This time the drawing came out different, as I had to keep to the same size painting as I already have the pair of gilt frames and double cream mounts. The river got wider, I only fitted in two boats and the boathouses needed to be bigger for where I had placed them. So in the end I didnt finish it!!!

Still not satisfied! So, yes you've guessed it -I started all over again. This time with a basic watercolour and no gesso. This time it turned out sunny. Shows we have no control over our work - it evolves all its own. !!!

click to enlarge

What I want to know is which do you prefer for me to put into my Christmas Show??? Can you be bothered to choose and let me know why - many thanks for those who do. I dont think I'll actually waste the effort as I can always keep the other finished one for a show next Spring.

I must be mad!!! yes??

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


This is my second attempt at this technique, but this time I put the gesso on with a knife and much thicker. I also tinted it a little pink to make a warm glow through the glazes.

Its a view of Wells Next the Sea on the north Norfolk coast, which I cropped to make a square painting. I think the composition works well in this format, even if I left out things (particularly a larger central pole and lots of little boats) from my original photo .

Its not quite as 'clean' as my first work in this technique, but then it was not such a sunny day - more like scudding rain clouds actually. As you can see its not finished yet, needing another layer on the buildings on the right, the rigging on the black and white Albatross boat and some detail on the quayside wall. Maybe a little more detail on the staging including the metal posts for mooring. Didnt realize how much more there was to do.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


I have for so long admired Sandy Maudlin (click on link on right) and her teachings. For a long time have promised myself I would try the technique of watercolour washes over gesso background on watercolour paper. At last, in readiness for a Christmas Show at Holt, I am preparing some work in this style.

As the show is in north Norfolk, I decided to get together any of my landscapes of the region and add a few new ones from my store of personal photographs over the years I have lived in East Anglia. I am not keen on using photos but as long as they are my own there is no copyright problem and, at least, I have visited the scene in question and was captivated by the subject and particular composition.

I chose this colourful image of a boat moored in Brancaster Staithe*. For this first one I applied the gesso not too thickly with a large brush and it has left stroke marks which are quite interestingly showing through the water colour. The painting measures 16 x 20 inches and has a double cream mount in a rather snazzy silver frame.
* just edited this post as its location was confirmed by a north Norfolk landscape artist friend. I had difficulty knowing where exactly I took the photo as I did a series on the same day as I travelled along the coastline.

Monday, 3 November 2008


We had a great fun day on Saturday with our acrylic workshop. As most attending had never used acrylics before, we spent the morning practicing how to apply the paint in different ways from blending wet on wet, thin glazes, scraping back and cutting into heavy paint, pressing on heavy textured paint and a form of screen printing. Here are some examples of the group members' exercises:
1 scraping back to earlier lighter glaze by Philippa
2 glazes, textured paint, cutting into wet thick paint by Brian
3 Four different methods of applying acrylic by Audrey

Then we planned a full acrylic piece for the afternoon using as many of the different methods of application as was appropriate, choosing from one of two subjects I had set up.
Two different methods of working. Philippa kept her colours muted and used soft glazes for the background and cloth, but created the textured flower heads by the method of pressing thick paint we practiced in the morning. Helen used primary colour glazes to prepare her work and at the stage of this photo had only just started to add thicker paint to develop the flowers and jug.

Here Maggie is working on her china and fruit subject with thin glazes to start. By adding blue to her red for the background cloth (an old sari of mine when I visited India) Maggie was able to reverse the norm and put reds in the background and bring the soft blue and white plate and bowl forward.
Anne had a problem when applying her first thin background layer although the manufacturer of the acrylic board said it had been primed twice - but as usual errors give some stunning results and it created this textured/spotted effect in the gray/blues. Anne had to leave early so didnt get any further with her acrylic piece.

Didnt they do well???

Sunday, 2 November 2008


click to enlarge
This sketch began because when I turned over the page in the moleskin sketchbook the thick colour from the fighting bronze hares on previous page had soaked through, so Anita gave me a sheet from her note pad and stuck it in. I then developed the little ivy sprays on this sheet outside the square, looked at her silk flowers in the lounge and added the poppy seeds and flower shapes. Then came the vase and finally the lace covered slipper to hold rings I gave Anita some while ago. So finally I took two of my rings off and drew them alongside.
At the time I was sketching at the dining table with Harry, who was drawing James Bond in a wonderful tuxedo plus gun of course, as they were going to see Quantum of Solace the next day. I borrowed his colour pencils and decided not to shade the flower shapes on the note sheet, added a few notes in the corner and it was complete.
Our Anita does encourage you to work fast - and I love the way the pages evolve as they go.

Friday, 31 October 2008


Everyone should have the opportunity I have from time to time to spend a few days with Anita at her home and with her wonderful family in the Fens of East Anglia in England. She is the world's greatest blogger and, more to the point, a maestro at sketchbook art. Such an influence I start using my moleskin sketchbook 10 x 8 inches from the minute I walk in the door!!!

All these sketches are from object d'art in her home added to the double spread throughout most of the first day. It was cold and I had just driven 70 miles across country so we worked in doors.

The fighting hares are a small bronze figure on her Victorian black fireplace.
The egg is a wonderfully patterned and coloured wooden egg on display on the sideboard.
The book cover is from her recent project of 27 local village houses which have been printed into a beautiful 38 page 7 x 7 inch soft covered book.
The apples I brought over from the Broads in Norfolk in a plastic colander.
The flowers are made from a potato stamp Anita created while preparing dinner!
Finally, there is one of Harry's guns in the middle.

What a collection. What a family. What a wonderful 3 days.

More to show you from a trip into Ely to deliver work to the Sue Ryder Fund raising event. I have an acrylic workshop tomorrow - so more on Sunday.

To see Anita's blog and wonderful artwork click on the link on the left.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


Although it is well into October and autumn leaves have fallen everywhere, I still seem to have lots of colour in the flowers in the garden including these large clumps of soft pink in the front and back gardens. They must be some sort of illium (lilies) but not sure of their full name as they were planted before we moved here last year. The long spiky leaves have fallen onto the floor and the stems stand tall and straight with strong pink large buds turning into six curly petals each stem.

I have sketched a few into my lovely handmade flower book - making number 7 to date - with soft pinky blue background to show the many flowers growing all around.
click to enlarge
I mainly used my Sennelier watercolour tubes but found the Opera Rose in my Winsor & Newton collection was perfect for the soft pink.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

this is my one hundredth post!! - SPREADEAGLE INN PROJECT

I visited my daughter and girls for couple of days this week and then went on to the Spread Eagle Inn where my decorative artwork is on display in the five en suite barn conversions. When I posted details of this project some weeks back I was asked to let you see the paintings in situ, so photographed them today. Surprising how small they look once up on the walls but remember they are behind double beds!! Worthwhile enlarging to see colour schemes working well together.
1 After the Rain in the Old Forge
2 Two Poppy Paintings in the Smithy Suite

3 Sculptured Tulips in The Carriage House Suite
4 White Orchids in the Stable Suite (the touches of soft green leaves match the cushions and lampshades perfectly)

5 The two paintings created for the Cartshed Suite
Arent they lovely rooms? Lori has such wonderful skills in decor and I think she chose the best paintings for each suite from those selected over a long email exchange. She actually chose 8 out of the 14 I then took over to her - number 8 is the Buttercups and Daisies in the lounge area of the Old Forge suite. What a delightful place to stay if you want a country retreat near Swaffham in Norfolk.. .. wonderful food too!! We are planning weekend acrylic workshops for next year as well!!