Sunday, 26 January 2014


What would we talk about if our weather was boring or predictable???
The rain has been pretty persistent and some areas are having a far worst time of it than we are in my village. Only 5 or 6 miles from me some poor villagers are having to use sandbags to protect their homes, while in Somerset an entire village has been totally cut off with residents relying on a small boat to ferry them to higher ground!
You would think it would give me plenty of time to work at my art, but of course everything with the ponies takes twice as long in the deep, dragging mud.
I have had the chance to try out some new graphite pencils that I bought at Christmas and I'm completely in love with the soft creamy textures I can create now.
 During a break in the weather I managed to take poor Manchee out to stretch his legs.  He hates the rain, but loves a good long run, so I'm afraid he's been climbing the walls on the torrential days! At our nearby lake, the water level was the highest I've seen it.

The young swans are practicing looking elegant and when they've lost the last of their baby feathers, they'll blend in with all the other adults.  I like them at this stage though, they are still sooo beautiful.
 We had to negotiate a partially submerged boardwalk which wobbled and dipped alarmingly.  The ducks don't care though!
Back at home, the cats are equally bored with being stuck inside.  They've begun inventing new games.  This is 'lets be Cheshire cats' :D  If you're unlucky enough not to spot their hiding place, they'll give you a bop on the head as you walk past!  Piper's games are less inventive and simply involve running at high speed around the house.  No photos of that as she's just too quick!
Back at the field, I rearranged the chicken houses (again) and used Charms old rabbit hutch to replace one house that was falling apart.  Between 5 chickens, there are 4 cosy nest/roosting places and I'm thinking of increasing my flock in the coming months!  Just as I was finishing up, the rain began again and I was glad to get home. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


Yesterday was a pretty awful day and not one to be repeated in a hurry.  When we take animals into our lives, it's with the knowledge, deep in our souls, that they won't stay for nearly as long as we'd like. But we make that bargain with them, to care for them and to love them and in return they'll try not to break our hearts too soon. Having more animals than many people, it's a bargain I've made often and I'm sure will continue to make regardless of the risk of pain!

Some of you readers may remember Charm our little lion head rabbit from my old blog.  He was the son of our two 'boy' rabbits, BigWig and Lou (later renamed Lulu!). He used to have the free run of the garden, but escaped so many times, crossed so many roads and was found all over the village that we had to keep him in a run eventually, for his own safety and the sanity of various neighbours!
Here he is with Arnold our very elderly cat (19).

  Charm featured in our Alice in Wonderland blog post as the white rabbit under a spell that had turned him black!!! Moomin made such a sweet Alice and it was magical to see her in such a girly dress :D
Charm sadly left us yesterday at the age of 10.  A good age for a rabbit, I'm told, but I was still so very sad to let him go.  I buried him beside his parents and planted some shrubs on top.  There won't be any more rabbits in this household :(

Sunday, 19 January 2014


When you truly love what you do for work, it doesn't feel like work at all! That's my deep little quote for today and I know I'm paraphrasing someone greater who probably said it better, but you get the meaning!
I've been playing around with ideas, but somehow overdid things a bit and ended up getting stuck in an artist's rut!  Have any of you artists out there done that? Over thought a concept and then gone off it totally.  This first sketch was quite simple, but I wanted to achieve more and so achieved nothing!!!
Time to go back to square one and do some Manga sketches.  I love working from these, it's like ABC for the creative mind and I love the dynamic poses.  I watched some episodes of the anime 'Bleach' while I scribbled and it really helped.
I got tired of long flowing hair for my females, so the one below has had a severe 'chop' :D
While working on 'nothing in particular' I got the idea for a short series of paintings and I hope I can use the tea stained pages for at least one of them.  So maybe this post should really be entitled 'Hurrah for Manga and Anime'! 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Tea wash.

What do you do to while away a stormy, rainy day? Play with tea, of course :D
I tried different techniques on four sheets of paper. The first two were soaked and stretched, but the large board was very hard to maneuver, so I gave up on the stretching part. It didn't make much difference as the paper warped so much anyway!!!
The first two sheets were cold pressed Bockingford and after making a strong jug of tea, I put messy washes onto the semi dry paper and then popped them into a hot oven for 10minutes.  This helped to speed up the process.  I then added another wash and emptied the contents of the tea bags onto the paper, below.

I popped the paper back in the oven and scraped off the tea when it was thoroughly dry using a stiff bristle brush.  The effects were random and to me, pleasing :D
This was the Bockingford paper.
This is a cheaper paper, smoother with less tooth, but the effects were still good and random.
Now to decide what paintings to do on these pages :D  I'll share the next steps as I go along.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Could do better!

Gaia's Tree

This painting has been a pickle from start to finish and I'm not sure why! Parts of it were a sheer joy to paint, while others were quite a headache.  I think the Christmas break did me no favours!!!  Overall, I'm happy now, although a couple more changes need to be made! The rest of this week will be spent playing around with different techniques to flex my creative muscles!

Friday, 10 January 2014

A long wet walk.

I took Manchee to the Country park for inspiration, but the weather turned on us half way through the walk.  We sheltered under some yew trees and then made a dash for one of the big picnic shelters.

Some poor TA trainees were jogging along, weighed down by back packs and getting thoroughly pelted by hail stones.  One looked into the shelter and did a massive double take at Manchee stood on a table :D
The rain continued and we stayed put, too far from the car to make a dash for it.
The hailstones were huge.  After photos were taken, Manchee ate them!!! He's sooo odd :D
Finally, the storm seemed to pass on and we managed to get back to the car before the next downpour, which then set in for the rest of the day!  Manchee didn't mind, he retreated under a blanket on the sofa and was happy :D

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New Year New Work

But first, a couple of Christmas photos :D
My Welsh dresser was so much fun to decorate and I've even left the fairy light in place for those dull January days!
The Christmas tree, complete with glowing kitty!  Well, Gigi is our little Witchy cat :D  We decorated the tree with red this year and it's our little tradition to go to a garden center and each buy one really good decoration.  Next year we may go for wooden items, as my very old ones are getting worn out and tatty!
Bo had a new rug for Christmas and with this crazy weather, he's been  very grateful for it.  Merlin and Toffee have a field shelter, but that didn't stop Bo from showing off :D  Unfortunately, the rug doesn't hamper Bo's movements and he has jumped out of his paddock more than once.  I think he's part stag!!! (I can't wait until he's old enough to ride!!!).

My newest painting has been both pain and pleasure!  I'm loving all the tiny details and those are going so well, but the background just will not behave.  I realised that the atmosphere in the Studio is just too cold and damp for salt washes, so I've had to be creative!!!
This was the point of much hair pulling with the background getting ever uglier!!!
I painted that little fox again though and that cheered me up no end!!!
A little break and a lot of perspective always helps so I'm dragging the dog to the woods for a walk :D