Saturday, December 31, 2005

Review of 2005


This is a Caroline-centred review of 2005

  • January - the whole world was reeling after the Boxing Day tsunami. The Macaroni Penguins did a charity gig. I got the Dream Oracle and also some Dream cards - this stimulated more recall of dreams than usual.

  • February - we went to a murder mystery supper - Jim turned out to be the murderer and I was the only one to solve it! But the best part was dressing up for it in '60s clothes.

  • March - there was a police chase through our garden - the chap they were chasing dropped a disposable camera in our rhubarb patch - the police took this away - later some more people came looking for the camera - we never did find out what was on it!

  • April - the Pope's funeral was followed next day by Prince Charles' wedding to Camilla; exactly a week later I was at a funeral one day and at a wedding the next... (the only funeral and wedding of 2006 that I went to).

  • May - one morning I was in Bristol and up early - a double decker bus was charging along the bus lane and hit the lamp post next to me - I was showered with glass! Uncut but very shocked.

  • June - we discover a lovely, but expensive, farm shop - Daylesford Organics

  • July - London bombs, plus the police execution in cold blood of someone who turns out to be innocent make me even less inclined to visit the capital again

  • August - we move back into our house in Bristol

  • September - I start blogging - the first blog I mention is Nan's heron's snag (see my posting of Sept 4th) (I also mention a knitting blog that I've not followed since).

  • October - I get Painter IX and an A5 Intuos3 tablet - there's no stopping me now!

  • November - I try to put borders round some of my pictures but I find them quite hard to deal with!

  • December - I get a new camera and start to play with it!

If I could put in a few wishes for 2006, they would include less incidents that involve the police, and more hilarious dreams please!

Happy New Header!

And as 2005 comes to a close, I'm celebrating the beginning of the new year with a new banner.

So this is goodbye to the old:

Caro's Lines

And helllo to the new:

Caro's Lines

Happy New Year to you all!

All around the houses!

All the way round the houses

My first panorama using Canon's PhotoStitch software.... 10 photographs of the tops of the houses - ours is the last magnolia one before the grey ones.

The software suggested a crop that didn't show any of the jagged edges but that didn't leave much in the middle!

And this is my second:

Panoramic Sky

Which gives you (almost) the other 180 degrees of the view!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Illustration Friday - Flavour

Illustration Friday - Flavour

This is what happened after playing with a picture of fruit...

New Camera!

After over a year of saving and pondering what I need I've finally bought my own digital camera - which means Jim will be able to use his again :-)

I got a Canon 350D which came with a standard zoom (I went for the USM version) and I also got a macro lens, so now I'm looking at things in detail...

And as the rain is pouring down today I'm glad I wasn't hoping to go out and take lots of landscapes (yet).

What sorts of things, apart from fruit and flowers, do you think I should try looking closely at with my new camera and lens?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lee (and blogging)


I've had various prompts to do this post, not least an out of the blue email from Lee's sister saying hello and asking where the web page I'd done for Lee had gone...

Lee was an incredible sky diver but she died following a mid-air collision in April 2003. By then she had moved from Bristol to California then on to Australia. As I wasn't well enough to regularly use the computer for email through much of this time I'd had little contact with her since 1996. However her death was a real blow to me and I grieved her loss fully.

One of the consolations I had was discovering a blogger who mentioned her. She had never met Lee but worked with her.

I made Lee a web page despite the fact that it made me quite ill to do so. And the idea of one day doing my own blog was planted.

There is another page dedicated to her and looking at it today I noticed that there was a picture of her with a Marilyn Monroe statue so I thought I'd do a variation on the Andy Warhol Marilyn pictures for her.

For those of you interested in Andy Warhol, whilst looking for references I found a page where you can play with the Marilyn image yourself.

My biggest regret is that I did not go to see Lee whilst she was in Australia. She'd written to tell me she had one of my paintings on her wall but I couldn't picture her properly... and so my resolution for 2006 is to go and see those people young or old whom I value in my life.

What resolutions are you making?

Saturday, December 24, 2005


I feel that this one is about transformation but that's all. Any ideas?

Early bird

Early bird

I woke early this morning and was compelled to draw. Having drawn I scanned then played with them in Painter IX. This and the next posting were the results. Any suggestions about what they might mean is welcome.

Friday, December 23, 2005


See my new pet, Plum, in the sidebar. Move your mouse to see what she does!

First found at Sultry Painter Woman's Journal to a Muse.

They have other animals too. These are pets that you can have just for Christmas!

Illustration Friday - Holiday

Happy Holiday!

Wishing you all the best, however you do, or do not, celebrate at this time of year!

Thank you to everyone from Illustration Friday and all the bloggers who come by - for all your comments and encouragement. Its been great seeing your entries/postings too!

Thank you to all the others as well - the silent ones. Please feel free to carry on looking, whether or not you wish to comment.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Parrot Tom Williams

Parrot Tom Williams

GG has recently sent a postcard of a parrot to a school geography project. It reminded me of this:

In January of this year I got a book called the Dream Oracle. It suggested that one way to get messages from your dreams was to use their code. This associates each letter of the alphabet with a keyword. The idea is that for your dreams to tell you that you need to look at something, say Patience you would dream of lots of things beginning with the associated letter. Maybe you would dream of Penguins playing with Pangolins on the the Pebbles in Pembrokeshire. There are key words associated with each letter of the alphabet so any dream which features either one or maybe two letters is clueing you in to look at the issue associated with that letter.

One of my first dreams after reading this book started like this:

The oracle rings me on the telephone. The voice on the other end says that he is "Parrot Tom Williams".

The dream went on and the letters P, T and W were emphasised again and again. P stands for patience, T for talent and W for will. I thought that this was an overly complex message to be getting through this method and moved on to different methods of dream interpretation.

Looking back on it now I think there was a useful message here; that I needed to balance my will and my patience in both uncovering and honing whatever talents I might have. Maybe if I'd paid attention I'd have started this blog in January and not September.

However the main thing that came out of it was that Parrot Tom Williams has become quite a character in our house and I wanted to introduce him to you now!

Chartreuse Cat

Chartreuse Cat

Another dream I had that did its best to communicate via the Dream Oracle was one about a Chartreuse Cat.

I am outside in my pyjamas. I am trying to get into a house. The police come to arrest me for attempting to break-in. I explain that I'm trying to talk to the cat! I lead them upstairs to show that I know the house. In the bedroom there is a dog and a cat. The cat is a Chartreuse Cat and can talk.

I ask him if he loves me.

He asks if I love him?

I say he's beautiful and I stroke his green fur. He's very fluffy. I tell him that I love him.

He says that in that case, yes he does love me.

I think that maybe this dream was a precognition of the unknown... which leads me to think that before he was a skeleton he had lots of green fur!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pond ice

Pond Ice

Photographed by my sister in her back garden on Sunday Dec 18th 2005.

She has netting over the pond and these icicles had accumulated there.

I thought it was stunning, so wanted to share it with you all!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Illustration Friday - Imagine

IF - Imagine

Imagine the power and mystery of creation.

Dedicated to Wild Mother Lightning whose baby is due any day now. With all the best wishes for a good birth!

The original was a huge file that I did not even attempt to upload. So here is a detail:


Friday, December 16, 2005

The presents, you are looking for, these are not... mmmnn?

The presents, you are looking for, these are not... mmmnn?

Spotted recently in a shop window in Glastonbury.

Christmas Jumble

Christmas Jumble

This is how Christmas really begins in our house.

Despite my earlier attempts (the Phoenix and an unpublished Christmas version of my "Blue Moose"); I was getting no where with producing a card that both of us liked.

Then a few nights ago Jim said he wanted to do some stamping - so we started.

I had hoped we'd finish more of the cards sooner, but we both got distracted into banging our heads against a brick wall instead (see my previous posting)...

Last night, I wasn't feeling well enough to go out, but I also promised myself no more of that headache inducing brick wall. So I got on with the cards and like magic the headache lifted and most of this year's cards are made!

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Saga Continues


Those of you who weren't reading my blog in September can see the first two postings here: dining room, and garden.

I am posting this particular picture to show that the kitchen was white.

This is because I am in dispute with my ex-letting agent and landlord. The agent has made various claims and it has become a case of my word against his. I am posting this to show how inaccurate he is even on something as simple as the colour of a room. He has claimed that the kitchen and the dining room were both "peach". I'm aware that people's colour perception varies. However by no stretch of the imagination can both be considered to be the same!

Today I have seen, for the first time, the response that the agent made to the landlord to a huge email that I sent to her in September. I was attempting to put her in the picture so I went through the whole of my correspondence with the agent. At the time I felt sorry for her so I reduced my claim considerably. His response has made my blood boil as he is directly contradicting so much. Hence this picture!

And whilst I've got this picture up - note that there is no door covering the washing machine, whilst there are hinges sticking out... and that there is incomplete plinth under the sink, dishwasher and washing machine.

Please let me know if you think it a reasonable statement to call the wall paint in both kitchen (above) and dining room peach!

And also whether the garden looks as though it was "fully maintained".

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Illustration Friday - Surprise!


Two darker mandalas, compared to my previous posting.

All three are made using the kaleidoscope filter in Painter IX.

These two were created from a digital collage combining paintings, drawings and photographs.

Its possible to make very similiar images simply by selecting a section of a picture and then reflecting it over and over.

There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had in hand-painting mandalas too and in fact I've used two hand painted ones within these.

On hearing that the topic this week was surprise, Jim said I should draw a picture of some sheep. He said they are always surprised and he's seen them surprised by the sun rising at dawn.

However I'll leave that as a verbal image.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Daddy and Morris Minor

After reading yesterday's posting about our father, one of my brothers unearthed this photograph - thanks J!

It reminds me that as both my parents had Morris Minors when they met, if I'd been a boy, I might have been called Morris.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My father

DaddyAndrea (who has just moved her blog) yesterday did a posting about her grandfather. She was prompted to do so by a dream. I've had lots of prompts to do this one... Not least to balance the posting I did last Sunday about my mother. My sister sent me lots of jpegs in June and as I wasn't blogging then I had no where to put them!

When I read Andrea's posting I immediately connected not with my grandfather but my father.

My father was born in 1912, Griffith Henry Richards, in Wales (near Aberdare), when he was about 18 months they moved to Oxford in England.

This photograph was sent to the front when his father, Cyril, was in the First World War. My father is the boy on the right. His mother was named Ray after an uncle, she graced the name and made it both feminine and powerful; I never saw her looking like this and was amazed by seeing her so young; by the time I was aware of her she was a formidable matriarch. My uncle Trefor is on the left.

My father and one brother

The only record we have of his father's war service is this which came from the National Archives:

war service

I've no idea what it means (do please click on it to enlarge and try and decipher it if you know about these things!).

He survived the war, and the family expanded. Here in 1933 are my father (21), his three brothers and one sister:


I never met the younger two of my uncles as they died in World War 2.

Here is my father, 32, in India:


He spent a lot of time in Africa too and was always beginning anecdotes with "When I was in Rhodesia... ". He had been in the RAF before and during the war. He taught aircraft maintenance.

By the time he met my mother he was teaching in Oxford and mending cars. They married in 1957. And I came along in 1958. He was already 46. This photo is of him with me when I was a baby:

Me and my Father

As it had been my mother's car breaking down and his mending it that had brought them together I was called Caroline.

His parents carried on living in Oxford, here they are when I was small:

Grandfather and Grandmother

My Grandfather, father's father, died when I was about 11, but I'd never really known him despite staying there for many holidays. He'd been a headmaster and he scared me! Gran outlived her husband and all her boys.

My parents ran a garage together in Gloucestershire until his death in 1976. He was 64, I was 17. He died of lung cancer, and yes he smoked.

The photograph of him at the top was one I took when I was about 10. Its how I think of him still.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Illustration Friday - Blue

Illustration Friday - Blue

Click to enlarge.

I've always had a tendency to mishear things... It leads to both misunderstandings and creative ideas.

If you are leaving a comment I'd love to know you favourite misheard song lyric!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Illustration Friday - Small


This mouse and dancing wheat were drawn using a dipping pen and black Indian ink when I was in my teens.

And whilst looking for it I unearthed these as well. Not sure when I did them, but food for the mouse now...


Now seems the right time to explain why I don't call myself an artist, even though I have done so in the past and I've exhibited too.

My mother was an artist by training, and throughout my childhood we were encouraged to paint, draw and make things. We all responded differently. I used to say that "when I grow up I'll be either an artist or an astrophysicist".

I wanted to take art, physics and maths for my A-levels but the timetable did not allow it, so I had to take chemistry instead of art - poor substitute! Incidentally this was just a timetabling problem and 6 years later my sister was able to take art with physics and maths, which she has turned to good use as she is now an architect.

I envied her the course but not her eventual career. She is good at it; it wouldn't have suited me.

But I carried on painting etc. Over the years I've taken plenty of classes and read enough books that I think I've made up for not going to art school. So lack of opportunity is not the reason.

Back to my mother.

She had trained as an artist in Scotland. And later she worked in a studio and painted pub signs and at some point did adverts too. When married to her first husband (whom I never met) she even painted a mural in a church in Shropshire.

But she had already given up by the time she got together with my father. So it wasn't him or having children that stopped her.

She would, on demand, draw wonderful picture for us to colour in and later she was there to save a painting of roof tops that had become a mass of muddy greys into a magical picture of a church on misty moors. She let me leave my paints out when my painting wasn't finished though it was dinner time.

She occasionally submitted her old pictures to exhibitions but never got accepted.

Her artist self seemed to become permanently depressed. She did not paint anything new before she died a few years ago.

Hence I don't call myself an artist because, although I have other more productive role models (my sister, my mother-in-law and many artist-friends) the one I am most like continued to call herself an artist but stopped doing any. I prefer to forgo the title and just do the work (and play!).

Last night I realised that she had started to live her artistic life entirely through us, though she told me my sister had always been better than me, and my sister that she wouldn't amount to anything... These comments though hurtful were really reflections on herself not us. And being stubborn types we only carried on anyway!

I also allowed myself to fully appreciate the person she had been before she subdued her artist self. She was brave, strong, adventurous and charming - now these are all wonderful qualities that I would like to have too!

If this was Hollywood I would probably now say and yes I am an artist!

But its not. And there is another reason...

I just prefer not to have a label.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Its stopped snowing and the sun has come out

Snow on branches

Snow on roof tops

So after about half an hour it stopped snowing and now the sun is just highlighting it nicely.


First snow

I woke feeling that there would be snow in the air - and there was!

This is the current state (photgraphed at 7:17:17 am)

Light covering

Unfortunately we normally only get a few hours to enjoy the snow before its all gone.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Humber View

Humber view

When I was in the North East recently I took this picture. The water was wonderfully still. There was a seal too, though not in this picture as it didn't come out well.

Fog Over Cheltenham

Fog over Cheltenham

This photo was taken by my sister who gave me permission to post it. They have been in the fog for the last few days but she discovered this viewpoint over it.

Christmas Muses 2005

On Kathryn's blog she has posted about Artella's Mystery Muse 2005. I've never done this but it looks like fun.

The idea is to send a "creative offering" to whoever is assigned as your Muse-ee.

I love the idea of giving like this!

The deadline to sign-up is Sunday, November, 27, at midnight EST.

Competition number 3 - British winter photography competition

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme have a winter photography competition.

British winter photography competition - send us your best photograph taken between 6 a.m. Friday morning and 6 a.m. Monday morning, one that captures the feel of the season and place.
And they need to get the pictures by Wednesday Nov 30th, 2005.

Oh and the prize is a set of Today egg-cups! (They seem to be an egg-cup variation on the Toby jug, based on the Today presenters.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

An idea for a design a body

Design a body

My idea of the attributes needed for a scientist's perfect body, having worked with a few...

  • Eyes that look open whilst one's having a snooze. This feature is essential to allow one to make good use of meetings.
  • Hair that never greys, needs washing or cutting. Teeth that stay clean and need no attention.
  • And mouth, feet and armpits that smell lovely no matter what (not illustrated).
  • And no need to eat... that's just a waste of time that could be spent programming something or other...
  • No need to look lovely, just passable and not smelly!

Competition number 2 - Design a body!

This is a competition (in by Dec 5th) currently running in New Scientist's Feedback section:

Designer bodies competition

FINALLY, don't forget to send in your entries to our end-of-year competition. This year's theme revolves around current advances in biotechnology. "Designer bodies" are becoming more and more possible, so how would you modify the human body if you were not restricted in any way?

You may send in up to three suggestions by email, post or fax; the ones judged the most witty and original will win. All replies must reach us by Monday 5 December and the results will be published in our end-of-year issue (24 December/31 December). The editor's decision, as always, is final.

Thanks to the generosity of the Royal Society, 10 lucky winners will each receive copies of all six books shortlisted for the Royal Society's Aventis Prize for Science Books 2005.

Competition number 1 - Letter to Danny

Danny Gregory (Everday Matters) is offering some nice prizes for the best illustrated letters he receives before Christmas.

I think this is a fun idea!

Words in Painter IX

Words in Painter

I tried to write a how to but I guess that's really not what I'm good at!

This is my best attempt:

What you need to do to make words go where you want them to is first set them in the text tool to one of the bendy modes - don't panic that they first look like a bridge with a straight line running off from it.

Then switch to the Bezier tool and use it to add in more points and shift the points around, also to move the handles that adjust the curves. The Bezier tool has several modes - the adjust points mode, the add points mode and the remove points mode. I can't really be more precise as I do it just by experimenting!

I find it easiest to create the shape I want by first creating it, like this mountain and then fitting the curve to it.

Hmm... well I suppose that might help, at least its a proof of concept!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Illustration Friday - Free


Free brings to mind free will. And that's something I'm not sure exists. Of course I act like it exists, moment to moment and expect others to, too.

But is there really such a thing?

Experimentally the evidence is not so good. We may individually think we act freely yet advertising seems to pay...

These are self-portraits one in the mirror and one unreflected.

Inspired by Grey Matter Gruel self-portraits including hands.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Phoenix Christmas Card

Phoenix Christmas Card

The Christmas Cactus from yesterday reminded me that I keep on meaning to design this year's card. This is my first attempt - I found out how to make letters bend around in Painter!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus 2

I bought two Christmas cacti about three years ago. They have got out of step with each other, this one is already in flower.

Monday, November 14, 2005



I sat and drew my own feet. I was going to colour them in but I liked them as they were. A contrast to the busy blind contour self-portrait!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Blind Contour Self Portrait

Blind Contour Self Portrait
I was tagged by Janey to do a blind contour self-portrait. I had commented on hers, which are fun and I'd also admired both Julie's moving gif version and Wally Torta's Monsterboy version.

I tried to make a moving gif but I haven't managed that yet, instead I got the odd composite above.

I used several different coloured pens and tried various positions and distances from the mirror. I did them all on separate pieces of paper... but I prefer them this way!

And since I was tagged to do this, I'll pass the tag on to Holly, oh and Andrea and Lyn 'cos I owe them tags...

Curse of the Were-Rabbit in the sky...

Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Jim spotted this cloud formation just now and its reminded me that I haven't mentioned that we went to see the Wallace and Grommit film on Tuesday.

It seemed rather like a cross between a Carry On film and a P G Wodehouse. Some of the jokes were a lot less subtle than I'd have expected.

We found it amusing. And we laughed at the joke at the end of the credits too. Most people had left and missed this.

And I also liked the short at the start too, The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper. Especially the improvised machine gun... This one was CG and more in the mould of Tom and Jerry.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Illustration Friday - Strength

Morning Glory

This is a piece that I enamelled a few years ago. It is an image of a power plant, Morning Glory that claimed me with great strength. I couldn't not make this image.

My only experience of such plants is through their flower essences which contain no chemically active ingredients. (And growing them)

Cookie monster's face

I've been sent this:

How can you say it has no face...


Thank you...