Wednesday, 25 February 2009


When I received the blog award one of my commitments was to tell you of my 7 most favourite things in life. I have found this hard - because I can't pin it down to only seven!!! My life is so wonderful, I could mention family, friends, home, memories, painting, reading, exploring, blogging, teaching, music, philosophy/spiritual discussions - I could go on forever. I decided to choose the ones where I could add some images to break up all the text - so here goes......

1 Friends and Family - Spending quality time with friends and family - here's a photo of my daughter and her lovely girls. (Hope they don't mind me putting them into my blog)
2 Our Home - Looking around our lovely home, with each displayed object a memory of a friend, family or overseas trip comes spinning back to me - here's a photo of some figures I have on display on glass shelves by the fireplace dividing the sitting room from the dining room. From the top shelf - a figure from the Dominion Republic and a pig from a NOVA exhibition, middle shelf figures from South Africa and small brass elephant from India, lower shelf couple hugging each other in Willow and a lady and child both from my sister in law at different visits.

3 My life long partner - Sharing my evenings with my husband of 50 years after a lovely meal, sitting in our comfy room surrounded by my paintings, often reading, doing the crossword or Soduko, watching sport or a film. Photo of a corner of the sitting room - Oh yes I see Petal managed to creep in!
4 Painting - Planning a new painting and seeing it grow as if by another hand and mind. I will be posting images of stages of the latest oil I am doing for the riverside pub exhibition - probably tomorrow.

5 Reading good literature or biography - often sitting up in bed in what my girls call 'the princess room' all peaches and cream. I recently read the story part historical and part fiction of how the Mona Lisa was painted - it was brilliant bringing Leonardo and Medici Florence to life.
Photo of my art book collection in a corner of my downstairs art space.
6 Exploring new places. You will probably have seen the recent post of my trip to see the Priory at Walsingham. Off to see Venice in June when staying at Lake Garda.

7 Blogging - Reading your amazing comments and seeing how my work is received. So surprising how often a piece one isnt sure of turns out to get the most comments!! Your friendships mean so much to me.
May I say a big thankyou to Rhonda and Vicki for sending me this award, otherwise I would never have set time aside to realise what a very very lucky lady I am. Hope this long post hasn't bored you to death - Its probably the most personal one I have ever compiled.

Monday, 23 February 2009


I have been away from home for four days and one of them was spent visiting the Norfolk village of Little Walsingham, where there are ruins of an Augustian Priory dating from the 1150's, which thousands of pilgrims visit from all over the world every year. !! Above is the enormous East Window, with the 1930's Church and tower of the Anglican Shrine to our Lady of Walsingham in the background (red roof/tower)... and an image of another aspect of the ruined priory on the left. It must have been a collosal building.

The village is full of historic buildings including timber framed and lots of delightful coffee shops. We found this one, where we sat by the fire in large cushioned leather chairs and ate fruit cake with filtered coffees before our explorations.
Then we had the glorious walks through the woodlands, by tranquil rivers and over bridges among the snowdrop thronged natural woods and parkland - all on a wonderful sunny day. Looks like snow but I can assure you it was stunningly carpeted with snowdrops.

We then visited the Anglican Shrine , stopped for tea and then walked down hill through the village to the wonderful Saint Mary and All Saints church with a 14th century tower and lead covered spire. The third snowdrop image above is of the East Window of the Priory from the church graveyard wall. The great interest here is the east window designed by John Hayward in the 1960, when the church was renovated after a great fire. The window has over 15 sections, all depicting the area's history and celebrating a number of saints. Rather a lot of lead so that the whole window from a distance appears quite dark. ... but what interested me most were the STATIONS OF THE CROSS created in carved different coloured woods, but on speaking to a member of the church they had no history of them. Here's one (isn't it marvelous and all the otheres are as creative)

A wonderful day in company of my friend Anne from Cromer. We went to church in the evening and then sat up chatting till late. We took her dogs for long walks Sunday morning before I left for home.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Last night I thought I'd see how my thumb is improving and got out my pen to start doodling. I started with the moon shape first followed by the lozenge shapes, and realised as usual my mind had opened up organic shapes, which just goes to show how much flowers are part of me. So I turned it into a sunflower, with different patterns in each petal and circles for the seeds. Then I decided to add colour and turned to my tin of Inktense pencils. I filled the shapes all dry to start with allowing the pen patterns to show through. Then I had the brainwave of using a wet brush over the background at the top leaving leaf and stalk shapes dry and created a feeling of distance. Wish I had done the same to the darker leaves at the bottom.
Anyway I am away from home until Sunday, so thought I'd post this before I left. Hope you enjoy it. Happy weekend everyone.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


Rhonda Carpenter and Vicki Greene kindly honoured me with this award the other day, but its taken me some time to work on 7 other artists to receive it from me and think what I would say are my 7 favourite things.

Firstly I could not add Vicki ( ) nor
Angela Shogren ( both of whom I found recently as they were both in Rhonda's list!! but do go over and take a peep. I tell you they're well worth it.

Now to my listing - I know a number of them are so professional and well visited and thought of that they might find an award like coals to Newcastle (English saying meaning sending things they already have in abundance!) but I love their work and blogs so much I simply could not leave them out:

1 Sandy ( lots of her posts give the process of her wonderful work and the teachings are so helpful. She introduced me to YUPO amongst other things.

2 Margaret ( not only is her work outstanding but she adds quotations and poems to her posts. Delightful.

3 Robyn ( Robyn is an Australian who went to Italy for a visit and stayed (dont blame her seeing she now lives in wonderful Tuscany).

These next few are newer blogs to me but have fallen in love with all their work and so glad I found them:

4 Jacqueline ( her blog is called Contemporary Realism and that is just what you get - gobsmacking beautiful watercolour flower studies.

5 Carol ( ) amazing use of watercolours - and those naughty lady swimmers!

6 Cathy ( Cathy is in South Africa and creates stunningly bright local sketches with amazing people.

Last but not least - in fact first in my book

7 ANITA ( my best pal, who introduced me to blogging and set me up just over a year ago. A true teacher, full of inspiration and the quickest sketcher in the business!

Thats it folks - I'll send my 7 favourite things in another post some time soon.

Sunday, 15 February 2009


I have now finished my second piece from my travels for the Eastern Open and my is it different from the image I posted a few days ago!!! I've removed the images of the cave drawings I saw in the Cederberg Mountains as I felt they made the composition a bit messy. Instead, I concentrated on the vastness of the areas we drove through on long straight roads. So I had to have an idea for the bottom centre in place of some of the cave figure drawings, so I came up with a different type of Proteus I had found in Kirstenboch Botanical Gardens near Cape Town.
I developed Table Mountain in the back (ie the top) and decided on only one Artisian Well.
I think it makes a good pair with the Amsterdam Tulips.

Saturday, 14 February 2009


This design was created with watercolours and brush only, just developing from the little yellow heart shape in the middle. The final touch was the torquoise background after all the images had been painted, which drew it all together. I see some little rabbits sneaked in at the bottom to help us think of warmer sunny days.

As you may have read in some of my post comments, I have a problem with my left thumb (I'm left handed of course!!) and cannot grip a pen or pencil without severe pain and discomfort. .. but using a brush is so different. As I wanted to create at least one heart on this auspicious day in the year (have you seen Margaret Anne Storer's**** gorgeous lacy hearts all week?), I decided a brush would have to do.

So Happy Valentine's Day to all you lovers. Hope you get lots of chocs and roses girls.

(****For Margaret's lovely hearts go to )

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Needing a second artwork to pair with the TULIPS IN AMSTERDAM, I of course turned to my travels and sketches. I was looking for a similar idea of a flower particular to a country and I decided upon PROTEUS FLOWERS I had painted whilst on my 5 week SOUTH AFRICA trip in 2007.
I squirted large blobs of colours directly from large tubes/pots of ivory, apricot, Naphthol red (very orangy colour) and burnt umber on the 16" x 16" canvas and dragged them down and across to create a thick warm textured, coloured background - like this
Then whilst the paint was wet, I cut into the thick paint with the edge of a palette knife to place the proteus flowers, an African lady, shape of Table Mountain and some figures from my cave drawing sketches.
Then I developed them all and added Artisian Wells and some greenery.
This is as far as I have got to date but have plenty of ideas, such as placing another bloom central bottom in place of the cave figures which should improve the composition and developing the Table Mountain reflection and city buildings more. I had originally planned the background to be the colour of the rock in the Cederberg Mountains but it has somehow gone a bit pink, so I need to work on that. Wish there was room for some ostriches or penguins I sketched, but I think it will make it too cluttered.
Your thoughts would be welcome, but bear in mind it has a long way to go before I can say 'finished'.

Monday, 9 February 2009


On trolling through my favourite blogs this morning I came across a ref to lighthouses and remembered I had sketched the one in the Wash at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire at the Peter Scott Wild Fowl Trust on a visit last summer with Anita to see Peter Scott wildlife paintings on show.
The invitation to post artwork of lighthouses came from Ray Monty ( . Maybe you have something to post to support his challenge. Do go and look at his wonderful photos.

Hopefully this image will enlarge with a click.

My sketch is on a double spread in my moleskin book and was achieved with pen and wash while sitting on my jacket on the little (cold) path that ran round the back of the lighthouse and little cottage. Certainly didnt stay there long!!
Over to you Ray. .. just posted this little sketch to support your idea as I am sure others will post full size finished artworks.

Sunday, 8 February 2009


At our last meeting members asked to have a session with watercolour pencils, so I took along a variety of subjects to inspire creative works and you may remember from a previous post that I practiced various techniques myself with artichokes just to remind myself of their versatility.

In the morning we worked together trying out different techniques with these wonderful tools. We worked with dry pencil, layering to achieve gloss, variety of colours laid dry on each other to create a mix directly on the paper . Then wet our paper before adding colour, wet the tip of the pencil to create strong tones on dry paper or previously dried washes, created tonal washes by dragging out the dry colour with a damp brush. Finally talked about spraying water on already laid down colour with a fine bottle spray and scraped colour off the pencil tip with a scapel to achieve texture over a previous wet layer.
When members felt comfortable with the pencil and waterbrush methods we had tried , they chose a small object to practice these techniques, which I felt worked really well, ie

We had a new member this month, who worked in the morning with geometric shapes using graphite pencils learning about proportions, negative space, relationships, perspective and used for the first time the thumb/pencil method of measuring. We did not have time to explore tone together, but for the afternoon he worked with watercolour paints using some of the fruit I had taken as his subject matter, as although he has worked for a number of years with oils is attending our group to learn more about how to use watercolour.

After a lunch break, a major piece was created from the various objects I set up, ie.

Philippa used a set of graphitint pencils to create the porcelain Chinese/Japanese (?) Fisherman
and Helen used a new set of full colour watercolour pencils she had for Christmas from her son, searching out colour within the dried artichokes.
My only feeling at the end of the day was that I had not steered them away from using too much brush and water with their main piece of artwork of the day. It was almost as if they were trying to create a typical watercolour work from the pencils instead of seeing them as a completely different and versatile media to work with. Naughty tutor.!

Friday, 6 February 2009


Thought you deserved a change from my Amsterdam tulips (which I have now finished), so have a little story to tell you. For Christmas Anita (Davies the wonderful - ) bought me a Maruman accordian sketchbook and I have wanted to use it for something very, very special. Here's my plan: this summer (June in fact) Clive and I will be celebrating 50 years marriage together, so I have almost six months to create a book describing in sketches our life together using our wedding album to start with and then using family photos. What do you think??

My trouble is I'm not very good at figures and faces, so its going to be an enormous challenge. Because of that I thought I'd try out my first sketch in an old book that has lots of odds and ends sketched in it. Now I'm disappointed, as it turned out quite nice and I've got to redo it in the Maruman!!! Here I am signing the register:

That was the wedding part of the title of this post, and the cake half is the MALTESER CAKE RECIPE I am posting specially for lovely Margaret Ann ( )so she can make a celebration cake for her mum who has just had major knee surgery and is doing well. Hope you pop into this post Margaret Ann , just in case your Google search didnt reveal anything useful.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


I have had such fun these past two afternoons in my warm little study, playing with my acrylic 'abstract' modern piece. Thought you would like to see how I am getting on.

This first image is of the painting with some of my photos I printed from my archives from when we visited Amsterdam a few years ago with our son. You can see that I have started to add some waterside buildings, reflections, a canal boat, a windmill and a little Van Gogh style bridge.

This second photo is of the stage I am at this evening and I had the glorious idea of adding my version of Van Gogh's starry night swirly sky to bring in this Dutch artist's influence!!! Brainwave don't you think?? I also decided to add some swirls to the water.

Other things I worked on was reducing the size of the central tulip as it was overpowering and this change helped show more windmill and sky; making subtle changes in tone on the vase and the petals and leaves; getting a more 3D layered look by developing the stalk shadows on the vase and over the swing bridge. Then developing the style and tone of the buildings and removing their roofs, developing the canal boat and putting silver on the windmill blades.

I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see where it takes me from here. ... if anywhere!? I think it is really working for me - hurrah for zentangle practice.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


As you all know, I love painting flowers and then zentangles came along and I slowly (or quickly depending how long two months is to art development!) shifted early graphite patterns into floral coloured versions. Talking with Anita the other day (as usual on the phone for at least an hour!) we talked about the Eastern Open this year which is celebrating their 40th anniversary. I didnt enter last year, but had a piece accepted back both in 2006 and 2007 ... but did not sell them.
So we discussed the idea of using my zentangle imagination to create a pair of canvas pieces to enter, as they definitely like to see more modern pieces than straightforward representation work. The selectors this year are from Kentucky Museum, Tate Liverpool, Norfolk and Norwich Visual Arts Festival and the magazine Galleries features Editor.

So yesterday I dug out two box canvases 16" x 16" from my store and started!!! Well before I knew it I was back to tulips as my last zentangle with Channais I posted recently. Then the thought came into my head about the connection with Amsterdam and the tulip fields. We spent a few days in Amsterdam one time when we visited our son and family and I took lots of photos by the canals as well as attending their 15 year Floriade . The photos are on my huge back up system, so chose a few to give me ideas of the special Dutch building designs to put in the background.
Stage one thin watered down acrylic washes

Stage two where I've added some background shapes of Dutch architecture and reflections on the left, canal boat, windmill and even a swing bridge (a la van Gogh) on the yellow vase shape.
Dont know where it will eventually lead me but I have a base to play with.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


My first snowdrops are out in the back sheltered garden and it gave me the last day of January to sketch them into my handmade garden flower sketchbook I am trying to use monthly.

To save the size of file I have split the double spread into left and right pages so they can be enlarged.

Originally I put pale blue behind the white snowdrop shapes, but it made them look too tall against a clear sky. So I decided to create the colours of the dried leaves and mud in the flower bed instead. Bit 'muddy' (appropriate!) on adding the warm colours over the blue first wash. Anyway I think it gives the effect I was after. Finally I added more penwork to define the flower shapes.

David, the owner of the Swallowertail Gallery in the village , gave me a squirrel and synthetic size 6 brush to try out and report back. It kept a lovely sharp point and held a lot of paint and was very smooth to use. Brushes with only squirrel hair have always been too floppy for me to use, but this is a treat and very reasonable at £3.75.
Ooops! forgot to show you my lovely little forsythia tree in full bloom - and its going to snow from today for the next few days, so they say. Hope it copes with the cold. We have such mixed weather from day to day in England.