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...

Another quiz

Wild Mother Lightning has found this quiz. I have to admit I cheated as I just didn't want to be the other ones that came up... Not sure about this one either...

You're the Raven Fairy.

What kind of fairy are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Blue Surgeon Fish

Blue Surgeon
When I asked which animal to do next, Andrea suggested I try painting fish, and my new collection of wildflife books had a rather handsome Blue Surgeon on one of the covers.

An abundance of books!

wildlife books

What luck!

I was out browsing in my favourite local charity book shop and what did I see? A whole box of books full of fabulous photographs of wildlife. And they only wanted £5 for the lot!

It was far too heavy to carry home so I had to go and get the car. And here my luck held too as there was a place to park when I arrived, just outside the shop.

Thank you universe - and those who give books to charity, etc., etc.

Cookie Monster

Cookie Monster

When I admited in my Quirky facts posting that I often see faces, GG mentioned that she likes "to spot people shapes in things".

She's got me doing it too...

The above photograph of this morning's hot chocolate dregs shows what looks to me like a figure with the head of a cookie and no face!

My friend Wild Mother Lightning, interprets this as meaning I need to have cookies with my hot chocolate!

Comic Anger

Comic Anger
One of the ways I have of giving myself a subject to paint is to use OH cards. OH cards come as two packs of cards, one with pictures and one with words. If I want a subject I ignore the picture set and just pull a couple from the word set. Today I got Comic and Anger.

I don't normally draw in an intentionally cartoon style so this was itself a challenge. I also found it really hard to focus on anger when the funny little man just wouldn't look angry enough! I even invented a story for him (he is in a cartoon after all) about how he had lost his job, and that had led to the break up of this marriage and now to cap it all his beloved car has been vandalised (he suspects by his ex-wife). The trouble was I kept thinking he'd probably brought it all on himself, I just couldn't sympathise with him - I thought he was the bad egg!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Paint it out


Last night I dreamt of a friend who died in an accident two and a half years ago. Talking about this with a new friend who'd never met the old one, she suggested I may still have grief to release. So this is an expression of that.

I think that what has come is more a release of other past griefs.

And I feel pretty good now!

Two of my favourite creative books

I have lots of books and today I thought I'd put up tiny reviews of two of the ones I like best for breaking out of artistic blocks. I've included links to amazon in the uk and the us so you can read more about them there. If you buy through my link I'll get a minute amount of what you pay... and amazon will get that much less!

Life, Paint and Passion by Michell Cassou and Stewart Cubley

This is a great book for breaking out of a rut. Its appeal to me was as a way to get away from having to draw what I saw; it helped me get back to painting from my imagination when I wanted to.

This book is good for a quick bit of inspiration. For instance:
to care and not to care

life, paint and passionDescription of someone who kept on getting to the point where she became careless and sloppy in her work followed by this advice:

"Act as if you cared about the painting. Put the brush on the paper with intention, not covering or going over what is already painted. Paint with care for a few minutes, then see how you feel."

Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

I expect most of you have heard of the Artist's Way already. It is a book that really needs to be worked through to be of real value. It takes at least 12 weeks to follow the whole course. Once I'd been through it I found myself coming up with all sorts of variations on it.

It was the Artist Way that encouraged me to experiment with collage.
It really helps to have an on-line group to support you as you go through the 12 weeks the first time.

Although it is called the Artist's Way it felt as I did it more relevant to writing. But the critics and self-doubts are similiar.

The best bit of the Artist's Way is taking yourself for Artist's Dates.

My current favourite is going out and just looking for things of a particular colour. Maybe taking photos of them.

The idea of an artist's date is that it should be inexpensive and fun. It needs to feed the inner artist, it may or may not in itself produce anything. For instance if your inner artist needs a penny whistle, let yourself have one even if you are no musician!

What's your favourite artist's date?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Today's art: Clay man

clay man

This strange chap started out as a clay figure I'd made. Then photographed. Then I painted him in Painter IX.

Not sure about him at all.

But I decided that part of the point of doing art everyday was to put up something whether I liked it or not!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Today's art: Song


I've been admiring various people's works that include words. So today I thought I'd try some things that included words. The banner (current at time of posting) and the image above are the fruits of today's labours.

I started singing the words before I'd written them, which is why I've called this one "song".

If I've stolen the words from somewhere that you recognise please let me know!

People who use words well in their work (I'll add to this as I've not been keeping an active note):

All Over Coffee Amazing drawings - with a few words incorporated
The Unknown A range of styles some of which include words - and that often make me laugh
Melba lots of collage with words
Jody - who often quotes song lyrics after her pictures
Lost Aussie who includes words into her collages
Thompson Designs words sometimes collaged in
JacqueLynn words swirl through some of these pictures
The Crafty Girl often has words added
Tony incorporates words often too.

Creative Blend - Two more quizzes!

Holly has found some more quizzes.

You Are Mexican Food

Spicy yet dependable.
You pull punches, but people still love you.


You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique woman like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.

New Banner(s)

You may notice that the banner keeps changing - I haven't settled on which I like best yet.

Art Everyday!

I've joined a group of bloggers who are set to make art everyday this month:

The guidelines are:

Art is very loosely defined (painting, drawing, doodle, jewelry, photo, craft, whatever!!) The idea is to have fun and play in a no pressure way (no pressure to make a masterpiece, no pressure to complete a certain number of pieces) and receive some support in the process. You can join in anytime too!

If you are interested go Kat's Paws blog.

I'm hoping to create a few non-virtual things during this time!

Though no doubt I'll still be doing lots in Painter IX.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

South Park

I've noticed that several people are showing us what they look like as South Park characters, in particular didrooglie / Andrea, Carla and Jol, Lyn, and I'm sure I've seen others too... kg's

These are South Park Caroline and Jim:

Make your own South Park character

Cheesy dream

Last night I was lucky not to be woken up to hear this joke which Jim had just dreamt...

He was making a salad and although we normally put cheese into it he was purposefully keeping it separate.



So that it would remain un-feta'd.

Do you ever dream jokes?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Cave Art

Cave Art
I'm trying to dispel the gloom I've been feeling all day... but there wasn't much light in the cave...

Illustration Friday - Night

Fireworks Night

Click for a larger version.

I may do another version yet. I think this one probably ought to be coming out of its frame.

Thursday, November 03, 2005



Another in my animal series.

When I was a child I was enchanted by elephants and would draw them over and over. I thought it would be interesting to revisit them again now.

Does anyone have a favourite animal that I could add to this series?

Witch winners are in

Penny has announced the winners of the witch contest and my two favourites weren't amongst them... so now I'll never know who did them... unless someone tells me....
my absolute favourite was the dark 68 and my favourite cute one was the tortoise 138.

Anyone know???

Update: the tortoise is by happy d

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Quirky Tag


I've been tagged! Thanks to Andrea... who tells the secret behind her nick name...

The only hint to this game seems to be that the idea is to mention quirky things about oneself...

And this time there is no time limit, no specific way to calculate how many people to tag next or anything...

  1. I like to know what the rules are! I even read manuals (sob).... so:
    quirky: unusual in an attractive and interesting way

    according to freesearch
    (Which might, to other people, make this, my first fact, inadmissible...)

  2. I like to know what the rules are so that I can break them.

  3. I can be a bit pedantic... what's attractive about that?
    Well I try not to actually say all the pedantic things that occur to me.
    But I really, really, really have to tell you what a meme is!

    A meme is an idea that is passed on from one human generation to another. It's the cultural equivalent of a gene, the basic element of biological inheritance. The term was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene.

    It is often used ironically to refer to short-term things like these tag games... but it does not mean "a quiz"!

    And I've read The Selfish Gene and Susan Blackmore's The Meme Machine.

  4. I can be extremely unpedantic. I like to tease pedants (so now you know why I often keep my own hidden...). And no that doesn't seem like an attractive feature if you happen to be a pedant... well there really is no pleasing some people...

  5. I laugh a lot.

  6. I like celebrating anniversaries, so Jim and I celebrate our getting together day and our wedding anniversary every year - twice the sparkling wine! (The photo above was taken on last year's wedding anniversary on the Stonehenge site).

  7. I get really giggly on sparkling wine straight away.

  8. I have lots of dreams and I don't tell everyone about them all... just the really, really amazing ones...

  9. One amazing dream I had involved meeting two wise women, I was surprised when I met them as they were so young, and had the same face - like identical twins. In the dream they put a hand each on my lower back and said "Don't Ask!".

    A few days later I was on the first day of a new course. There were a couple of women there whom I'd never met before. They were cousins. One of them had the same face as the wise women in my dream.

    I told them about my dream. I told them about the phrase "Don't Ask!". And they went into giggles. It was one of their catch phrases!

    So much for my having thought it was some deep message...

  10. I'm still really good friends with the wise woman who had the face of my wise women.

  11. My phone conversations last either about 10 minutes or an hour.

  12. When walking to the shops I've started looking for things of a specific colour - I've found that makes me see where I live differently - helps me be more observant of what would otherwise be too familiar. Today was a fuschia pink day...

  13. I've always been sensitive about how things feel - as a child I disliked one of my blankets because it had a slippery edge; I still don't like it if one hand is wet and other dry - I'd rather make them both wet or both dry; I love to feel things in shops where they say "Don't touch!".

  14. I started to smile a lot otherwise everyone said "Cheer up love - it might never happen!" My face when in peaceful repose obviously looks sad... But I've taken back ownership of my face, so if you see me and I'm smiling it won't just be to avoid being nagged.

  15. Sometimes I arrange my books by the colours of their spines - this looks lovely but makes finding things trickier.

  16. Just occasionally I absolutely have to eat lettuce, not just any lettuce but "Little Gem". The rest of the time I eat other leaves but no lettuce thanks.

    This could be genetic. I discovered it for myself then my sister said she does it and so does our aunt Eileen...

  17. I love spotting faces in things. Jim took this photo for me of some lichen I'd spotted in Painswick church yard:


That must be enough...

I've just chased all the way up the tags to find that at one point this wasn't "quirks" but "personal idiosyncrasies"... (if I got the right posts...)

Now I'm not going to tag anyone unless they volunteer. I'll add any volunteers in here so that I link to their list. Let me know if you've picked up this tag!

And if no-one volunteers I'll pull a face like the stone at the top - but if someone does then I'll be like the lichen smiley.

1st Volunteer sort-of: Nan - who is making her way through to 100 facts anway... that's a lot... Having a separate 100-fact blog is a good idea!

Bird Woman Dancer

Bird woman dancer

Inspired by Greek figures of bird headed women, combined with a wish to start exploring putting borders around my pictures!

As I was working on it I kept on thinking of carnival masks and dance.

I particularly liked the borders used here in Janey's Journey.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pumpkin Mandala


Last night we had only 2 trick or treaters so there are plenty of chocolates left for me!

The second lot who came round said a big boy had stolen all their goodies... was this a trick to get more treats?