Posts tagged art

Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012

What a wonderful year 2011 was! Ok, not terribly successful on the writing front but absolutely brilliant for my art. It’s funny, I always visualised myself to being a writer, I mean that was why I went to University and took English,  literature and creative writing, wasn’t it? It is still dear to my heart and I still feel I have a novel or two inside me. I have been reading a lot these last few months, over thirty books actually, with the idea of grasping what framework successful authors use when they write series of books. It is so simple and yet it still escapes me, my brain fails to assimilate it into my understanding. I have one novel almost finished and another written in note form but when I read them they lack the something that makes them ‘live’.

My problem is that I am unable to get inside the protagonist’s head, or even to sustain a plausible protagonist that lives to the end of the book. I have read so many crime series, some of which are so simple to follow, and still I struggle. I haven’t given up on the whole novel-writing thing yet so will have another go this year. I guess the best thing for me is when I pick up something I have written and not looked at for a while, so many times I look at what I wrote and cannot believe that is actually my work. Well I like reading it anyway.

2011 saw a door opening for a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of  illustrating thanks to the fantastic writer, Trevor Belshaw. He writes children’s books under the name Trevor Forest and I for one think they are brilliant. It has been an honour to work with him and so encouraging to me. I have never been able to draw people terribly successfully and have been stretched out of my comfort zone of seascapes and the flora of the countryside but I feel I am improving all the time. If you’d like to take a look at Trevor’s children’s writing here’s a link for you , he  also writes some really great adult stories so do check him out. Of course you will see my art work on his books as well. ; )

On the art front and comfort zones, just before Christmas I was asked to paint a picture to give as a gift. Nervously I asked what the subject was and was told a dog…. My brain immediately screamed  at me… DON’T DO IT! I mean there are so many brilliant artists out there and I couldn’t possibly  copy someone’s loved pet. I mean I have never even attempted that sort  of work before. Anyway, because it was someone close to me I said I would have a go with ‘no promises’ as a get out clause.

Now I have always viewed my ability to create a picture something as a precious gift that I really appreciate. I often wonder just how such amazing pictures end up on my canvas or paper. They seem to just want to be painted and somehow they have chosen me to paint them. I sat down with a photograph and a plea for any help I could get to the heavens. Here is the result… I can tell you, I was just so amazed that I could actually produce anything like this, just like with my seascapes, that I feel sure someone is painting it for me.  I am happy to say the person I painted it for was delighted with it.

It is this little painting that has encouraged me to push myself further with my art and that, in turn, tells me that I need to apply that theory to my writing. Who knows, maybe 2012 will be the year I actually get my novel up to publishing standard. I am sure gonna try anyway.

So I am looking back at 2011 with a sort of affection, from all the things that went wrong, I learned important lessons. From all the soul-searching and analysing of things from my past, close and distant, I learned that I don’t have to be perfect; how others perceive me is for them to form an opinion, as long as I am as good as I think I need to be;  as long as I recognise that it is ok to fail sometimes I can learn from everything that happens to me.

I also learned that I am getting older and it is both painful and joyful to watch my children as the competent adults they all are. Painful because my role as a mother is changing, becoming less important. Joyful because I have a new role as a grandmother. It takes some getting used to, stepping back and seeing your children being totally independent of you,  but the feeling of pride is amazing when watch them as parents being totally wonderful having learned from all my mistakes.

Speaking of being a grandmother, we had a new addition on the 1st August.. Matilda Felicity Dawn weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz and another amazing privilege for me to be one of my daughter’s birth partners. A perfect water birth for her.. and a wonderful day for me. I  am one blessed lady, I can tell you.

2011 also saw me changing myself. As you know from my previous blog entries, I went on a slimming programme.. Many of you have asked how I did.. I can now tell you with pride that in eight months, I have lost 4 stone – 56 lbs for my American friends – I still have a long way to go and apart from a Christmas slip… hmmm… I shall be back on my diet from tonight… the dreaded post-Christmas weigh in…

This leads me to look forward to 2012, New Year resolution time? Hehe, in my experience resolutions never quite work out as I plan. Full of optimism and good intentions I always start well.. the weight losing is of course still a priority… but then life and loved ones seem to take over. Something that I really enjoy, and isn’t an excuse for failure as such, I mean I was thinking just the other day that each moment I spend with my family is precious, all the little things they do and say will never be captured again, a one-off experience. I have missed so much of my older grandchildren due to distance and different countries, that I am really enjoying the younger four that do live close. No doubt I shall be writing about them more, showing the pictures of the things we get up to and …. actually, that’s a good resolution for me, yes!

For 2012 my resolution is to be more organised, to set out specific times for writing and painting and stick to them.. at least that way I will get more done. I also intend to go out more, in the garden – slowly – visiting friends and family and just going out for little walks, as much as I am able,  in the sunshine. That’s it and to enjoy each moment for its own worth… Bearing in mind I have a 60th birthday this year : (.   Meanwhile I wish you all a really HAPPY, HEALTHY and PROSPEROUS 2012 .xxx

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Postaday 2011: Back to painting

Time seems to be whizzing past just lately and I don’t seem to achieve everything I want to. I have in the back of my head that housework is less important than loads of other things I would rather be painting. For instance, the two paintings I started, the identical ones in different mediums, have been sitting in my studio for weeks now. The oil painting is dry and so I can carry on but I have been doing… yes… that’s right, housework! We are still slowly de-cluttering and it takes me so long.  Not throwing the stuff out but making the decision that an object has outlived it’s usefulness or no longer fits the look I want.

Of course I have to start my day with my cup of lemon water and 20 minutes ‘dancercise’.  Good old Reggae music…I need to plan my days much better to fit everything in because I intend to stick to my exercise routine for as long as I can. The knee isn’t holding up too great at the moment so I have to watch how I move but often it warms up after a while and improves. I’m not taking this time for granted and really give it all I can,  once I have lost the weight I can have my knee sorted. What a wonderful motivator – being able to walk without pain.

Today I have been asked to do some more art work for another book. What a perfect excuse to leave the housework and get out my brushes. Each time I do a cover it is a bigger challenge. I love using my imagination to picture the characters and place them in their setting, each one seems to get better. This isn’t an excuse for not writing my blog but they will be much shorter unless I do plan my time better. I am sure somewhere along my life I must have learnt time management. I used to teach it but was hopeless at it myself, haha… that doesn’t seem right. My trouble is that I am a fantastic procrastinator and a very busy lady at the moment.

All this is so exciting and I have no intention of failing, I have one more day before I weigh myself again for the week. I know I have lost at least 4 pounds so far in five days, so I need to keep everything up. After my exercise, my art will take a priority for the moment, along with my gorgeous grandchildren… Looks like some late night coming up!

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Postaday2011: Oils versus Acrylic

Today I decided to recreate the same picture that I blogged about yesterday, only in acrylics. I drew the basic lines and began to apply the paint and it was like taking a step back and learning to paint all over again. I haven’t photographed the acrylic picture yet, though maybe tomorrow I will, mainly because I cannot believe how different it looks. I have learned something about painting methinks.

Because I have had no formal tuition in painting, I have no idea of the how the different mediums work and the exercise today in acrylics has taught me so much. They say the best way to learn is to do, I so agree. When I painted with the oils the colour just flowed onto the canvas and merged evenly because it was all still wet. On the other hand the acrylics were more or less painted wet on dry and so each brush stroke was the picture. It is difficult to describe exactly what I mean.

When I painted in oils I had to mix the colours. They mixed easily and purposefully. I was able to obtain the exact colours I wanted. The picture at the end of the base coating was acceptable as a painting because it could be considered a base picture. Everything blended perfectly. The only drawback is that I have to wait for the paint to dry a bit before I can move on and continue. Whereas the acrylic picture base coat was just a flat selection of colours that would eventually lead to a picture. It was very strange just how different I felt about each picture.

It will be interesting how each develops and which one looks the better. As I was painting this afternoon I was thinking just how much like life painting was. As in the acrylic picture, it is a perfect picture in a very short time but in sacrificing time the picture has to be done perfectly by the artist’s representation of what he/she sees. There is no time to play with the paint because it dries and so the artist needs to be able to create the picture perfectly using their own eye.

However, the oil painting is a slow and relaxing picture. The paint blends and moves in such a way as if to create its own images. Almost like a life of their own, oils have the ability to add soul to the work. It requires patience and an acceptance from the artist that what they paint is not necessarily what will happen on the canvas. I painted lines, added base colours and blended so as not to have ridges of colour. What I ended up with was a smooth blend of sea and sky, depth, light and shade… Where did that come from?

I reckon I need to paint with oils more, I like the fact that maybe I am not in control but if I work with the medium, it works with me to produce even more than I hoped for. It will take a day or two to dry enough but meanwhile I shall photograph the acrylic tomorrow for comparison. We shall see at the end which medium prevails. At the moment, I know which one is winning….Like the hare and the tortoise – slow and steady wins the race!


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Postaday2011: A short blog on oil painting.

I have managed to start the oil painting that I promised to do and it has been so long since I used oils that I had forgotten how messy it can be. Especially if you are me. My space is limited, light -dreadful and the picture I am working from doesn’t have enough detail to get it accurate but that doesn’t matter. As long as I have a basic idea I can work with it and make it look the way I want it to.

I chose a beach scene which I believed was taken on Ferring Beach in West Sussex, UK. If not I will find out and correct that statement. Here is the picture.

There is little detail showing so I shall have to practice a bit of artistic licence. This gives me an idea and it can be used to verify depth and distance as I go along. The very first thing I do is to prime my canvas if it isn’t already primed. For this I use a cheap white, matt emulsion. This helps the oil paint to bond to the canvas, often the primer on ready canvasses seem to have some repellant properties so it really does help.

I have to say at this point that I am not an expert artist, I am completely self taught using books and naked eye. There is probably a decent vocabulary to go along with what I am trying to describe but plain English will have to do.

This isn’t easy to see but the very first thing I do once the canvas is ready, is to sketch out lightly the picture I want to paint just to give me an idea of where I want to put the paint. Some people paint straight away but I prefer to have something to follow. No it isn’t paint by numbers.. hahaha.

Once the sketch is on I can start to paint. Once again, I do this the way I learned and no doubt if you went to art college they would tell you something completely different. I then paint the entire picture with a base coat. The colours aren’t important at this stage it just gives a rough guide to the shape of things to come.

As you can see once again, I have a good idea of where I want to go with this picture. I shall inevitably put in a lot more detail than the photograph contains but already it is possible to see a picture.

Oils take a long time to dry, I can’t remember how long exactly, so I shan’t do any more to this until I can paint on top of it without moving or blending the colours underneath about, this could be a couple of days or so. Therefore I shall continue my paint encounter once it is dried and give any would be artist out there a brush by brush account so that you can follow and have a go at painting yourself.

Acrylic is easier in one way because it dries in minutes but that is not always an advantage when, like me, perfection as near as possible is desired. If this is successful I will follow through an acrylic picture as well, mind you I might get tired of waiting for the oils to dry so could well start an acrylic one at the same time. Water colour, once again is totally different. Like I said, I am no expert, I just love to  draw and paint. I keep hoping I shall make some money from them one day… You never know…

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Postaday2011: A day of achievements

I did try to post yesterday but the time I was going to post, the page was down and I missed my slot. Can you imagine how I felt when I got a mail from a friend to say she missed my blog and enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much Barbara, little things like messages from a friend are so encouraging.

I was chatting to the guy I have done the book covers for and we were discussing not being confident in our own work. I always feel like that, especially with my writing, even with my art. Yet somehow, I have no problems free writing, or as H would put it, writing mindless drivel. It is quite cathartic and it would seem that because it is what I call butterfly writing it is quite relaxing to read too. You would think I ought to worry about this more… Any way, all my hiccups and problems that prevented me from writing are getting better,so here we go again.

Today I achieved a lot, well I didn’t do them all today but I managed to get done everything I wanted to. Yesterday I completed the book covers. They were such fun to do and half the pleasure is knowing that the person they were for was delighted with them too. That is worth so much to me, more than that, my name is out there on some brilliant children’s books. A little plug here. Amazon Kindle – Peggy Larkin’s War by Trevor Forest, that’s where you can see the first cover, the other two are being released soon. Trevor is a very sensitive and excellent writer, well worth a read and Kindle can be downloaded free for your computer.

So today I completed the panoramic seascape. It has been a few weeks, because it was a big work I have had to fit it round family and life but now it is finished, I am pleased with the result, so here it is to see what you think.

It looks kind of fuzzy here but it is rather difficult to photograph, even harder to try and print out, I have to print the back ground and cut it out, grrr. I can’t wait to see the face of the person it is intended for, I am sure he will be delighted.

Then on top of that I managed to get in the garden for an hour and weed around my pond. I had to sit to do it but it was really satisfying, well apart from finding that the mint I thought I had pulled out last year had spread and grown and the roots were enormous. I somehow think I will not have seen the last of that.

Don’t you just hate it when you press a key, suddenly you’ve highlighted the text and deleted it in a matter of a moment! Ok I will write that again. Today was a great sense of achievement for me and I have enjoyed every moment of being creative. Much better than housework, of which I have done none, apart from tidying up, for the last week. I figured that if I went out to work, I wouldn’t be here and it wouldn’t get done any way, would it? So that is my justification, I do miss the fat pay packets though.

My next project is to go back to my oils, I haven’t painted for years in oil paints because acrylics are so much more convenient because they dry so quickly, but just lately I have got frustrated with that fact, oils do give you time to look and decide before going ahead whereas acrylics are dry before you can even think, so oils it is. Part of the project is to get together a collection of art so that when an open exhibition comes up I can take some along and try to sell them. I have been lucky so far and most of my art has found a loving home but there is something special about not knowing who liked it enough to buy it and always being left wondering. I think the secret is to paint what people want or is familiar to where they live. Simply because if a painting relates to someone personally, they are more likely to want to buy it.Well, that’s my theory any way.

That’s a bit like the seascape. It is a nice scene but it is just a seascape, not everyone would want to see it every day, but to the person I painted it for, it was an important part of his life. He took the photographs I copied for instance. I feel sure he will really enjoy it and that is why I love to do all the things I do, often as a barter for something else or just for the cost of materials. I feel it is so much more important to give someone a bit of pleasure that worry about the cost of it. I mean, there is no price on my pleasure when doing it. Maybe one day someone will come along and think, Wow! I want to pay you lots of money for this picture! and I shall smile sweetly and say thank you, very much… I think I am dreaming again…


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Postaday2011: Opportunities

Despite going to the GP and getting the steroids, I have still not taken them. The side effect sheet is, to be totally honest, terrifying. Do I really want to put my body through that. I was told I would have an upset stomach, the rest are possibles. I don’t think so. I am more terrified of taking the tablets than I am of putting up with the wheezing and coughing. I know my fear is probably really irrational but I don’t take any chemicals, I eat as little processed foods as possible and as much fresh fruit and vegetables as I can. My body is unused to taking a lot of chemical stuff and I always have had bad reactions to many drugs in the past which is why I am so cautious about taking them. That and the ‘what if’ syndrome drives me to be in complete fear of any manufactured medication. I mean I don’t even take pain relief for the arthritis unless I am in extreme pain and unable to function.

Anyway, my blog wasn’t going to be a moan about my fears. I was offered a great opportunity that helps to fulfill part of my dream of leaving something memorable behind and I have been working on that for the last couple of days. An internet friend asked if I could do some art work for a book cover because she was unable to due to RA. She is a lovely lady and naturally I said yes and produced a picture that the person who wrote the book, liked. He then asked for a couple more pictures for another story which I am in the middle of doing right now.

The first book, Peggy Larkin’s War by Trevor Forest, has been released on Kindle this week, with my picture on it.( It can be downloaded for your PC too.  It is really strange to see a book with my art work and name to it but it goes along with wanting just to get my art noticed. Not for anything amazing, I know it isn’t going to make me rich, but just for the satisfaction that I can do something, have achieved something, important to me. I think this is a great opportunity and gives me a great sense of achievement.

It seems art has taken over from my writing and the same friend showed me details to an art competition. I know many competitions have modern, contemporary art and mine is more classical and realistic but I felt good just posting it off. The proceeds also go to a charity too, so even if I get nowhere, I have helped to raise funds for a good cause. I am glad painting has moved to the fore because my writing is personal and few people read it whereas my art I like to show to everyone, especially recently because I have had so much encouragement from my family that I beginning to believe them.

So here’s to two things, recovery from this virus and to the wonderful friends who gave the opportunity to just sit and paint. Here’s to a brighter future!

I shall get back to the questions my son asked me but at the moment, my head is too full of trying not to cough and splutter to be able to concentrate properly on writing.

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Postaday2011: Getting there

I have been working hard on the painting still, and I am determined to try and get it completed by the weekend. The light has been good and I am pleased with the results so far. I asked my daughter exactly where the photograph was taken and it is in Pria de Anquieiro (also called Carriera) La Coruna, Spain. The actual photo is breathtaking, or should I say, photos, there are four of them.

I am keeping my blog a day up but it will be just short bursts until I finish this painting, and reading other  blogs when I have my break of course. Here are some pictures of the progress so far.

1) The completed left-hand side. This first picture was the easy part, painting the sea is easy for me because it just seems to drip from the end of my brush, much to my amazement every time I paint a seascape.


2)  This is the bit I have worked on today, just trying to get the sea the same as the photo without losing the movement. I am just about happy with this and have moved onto the third part of the picture. This part is going to be the hardest of it all.

3) The far rocks and sea and the rocks on the left are today’s worked areas. It takes me so long because a bit of a perfectionist and try hard to get everything as exact as I can…


4) This is the whole picture so far, I still have the rocks to do on the right hand side which I think are going to be fun, there are so many of them and each with their own special characteristics, we shall see what happens… The last picture is made up of two of the photos I have been trying to copy. I will post the complete set once I have finished the painting.

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Postaday2011: escape to the sea…

Bit of a fib there, not really so much an escape to the sea as escape into my painting. I am about halfway through my panoramic seascape and already I am as amazed as I always am when I paint a picture. I get to some bits and struggle, get fed up and leave it to have a cuppa, when I go back to it I am completely thrilled with the way it looks and wonder who snuck in and made it good for me. I will never stop appreciating the wonderful gift I have. OK it will never make me rich but I love the thought that after I am gone from this earth I will have left something lovely behind that some, somewhere enjoys owning.

Rather than a long blog today I am posting the painting so far… this is just half of it and it still needs a bit of work, and two of the original photographs I am trying to copy.

The following picture is of the first two photographs in a set of four. If anyone has any constructive criticism, I shall be really glad to hear it. There is always room for improvement.

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Postaday2011:A beep and a pink sky

And it was far from intentional. The early start I mean. I wouldn’t normally leave the warmth of my bed until 7.30 – 8am. Sounds lazy but Harry gets up at 4.30 to go to work and I am awake for at least an hour then. Why is it if I get up to go to the loo which requires motion, thought, actions etc, I can go back to bed and fall straight to sleep again. Yet when the alarms go off                 ( typical Harry, has to have two of everything – he’s a nightmare shopping!) I have to do nothing but give him a hug, wish him a lovely day and other lovey things and I don’t even have to move from my pillow but even if I close my eyes straight away within minutes I am wide awake. My brain kicks into gear and won’t stop thinking and before I know it and not long after I have finally dropped off, it is time to get up. Strange.

This morning I had actually managed to go back to sleep but at 5.45, as I was happily walking through one of those warm mixed up kind of happy dreams a bleep crept in. It fitted into my dream nicely and somewhere I questioned it but carried on dreaming. The second time it bleeped I woke up, my conscious brain telling me it isn’t a dream and that somewhere in the house a phone is telling me it’s hungry. I lay there for ages seeing if I can ascertain if it has come from upstairs or downstairs, not an easy feat because I have a hearing problem and the sound could be coming from anywhere depending on which ear is closest to it. Upstairs! I padded along to my studio where my mobile phone was sitting on my desk. Refusing to go downstairs for the charger I switched it off and went back to bed.. Could I sleep? no chance whatsoever so I had to get up.

I looked out of the window to see a beautiful mother of pearl pink sky and thought to myself, I would have missed it had I slept on so I silently thanked my phone for the early call. I wondered what would have happened to my day had I got angry that I had been wakened and cursed things instead, bet my day would have been awful. So my positive thinking made the difference today. I tidied and cleaned my studio and Harry’s study which was great because I found the notes I had been looking for to do a piece of writing. It took me ages because I am still suffering for the spring cleaning on Tuesday but it made me feel so good to sit and work in my tidy room. Tomorrow I have some ironing to do and then I am going to do some more to the painting I should have finished by now. I posted the beginning of it a couple of weeks ago so I will post the next stage now in the hope it will motivate me to get it finished. After all what better way to rest my poor bones, an afternoon at the easel sitting comfortably.

The picture has a way to go but the base is on and I am starting to put some detail in the sea and rocks having almost finished the sky. I am using acrylics though I want to try to paint the sea in oils at some point.

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Postaday2011: Maybe tomorrow.

I started out today with a set of plans. I was really systematic and started off really well. Shower, breakfast – read a chapter of my book –  clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, iron my trousers, write my blog. I did most of it before 11am and was feeling pretty smug, just my blog to do. I looked out my photos and found some gorgeous ones to post but then I got wonderfully distracted. My daughter came over with Millie and everything goes out of the window because I cannot resist her. I haven’t seen her all week because of this cough and I missed them so much. Best laid plans etc. I have put the coastlines pictures off until tomorrow. They are marked priority!

I had an interesting afternoon, my daughter came with me to a hospital appointment to find out the results of aforeblogged MRI scan. I can report I do have a brain in there and nothing else. I am delighted, doesn’t explain, and no explanation offered, why I have gone deaf in one ear. Ah well. All the blood tests came back as insignificant except the RA one which wasn’t surprising since I have arthritis but even though the doctor was unable to help I am just so pleased there is nothing serious going on in my head.

So todays blog is a little short and on the boring side but I have found one picture of a painting I have done that was based on the view from the window of Harry’s sisters home in Port Stewart, NI . The pot in front of the picture is real btw, I’m not that good- yet!  Hope it whets the appetite for tomorrow’s blog x.

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