Friday 29 June 2012


Today is our 55th Wedding Anniversary.  A very special day, particularly after the health problems of the past few months.

With the card my sister sent she enclosed a list of wedding anniversary 'gifts', and it seems 55 years is Emerald.  I didn't know that, and it's a good job I wasn't expecting Emeralds because I really don't like them much.  I'll wait for the Diamonds in 5 years' time.

When I look back I'm surprised at how short a time 1957 was after WW2 - still a strong memory for us at that time, and still a time of shortages, and some things continued to be rationed until July 1954.

We had a quiet wedding, just close family.  I made my own dress of figured satin, choosing a pattern with a 'sweetheart' neckline because I loved this style, and also made my own veil with little white cotton flowers stitched on.

My mother made the three-tier wedding cake (fruit cake in those days, not sponge or chocolate cake!), and my brother iced it, and my mother made the wedding 'breakfast' for the 'reception' at home - salad, tinned fruit and blancmange, and wedding cake as far as I can remember, and no alcohol.

Dev's sister's fiancé took the photographs - just a dozen of them.  How different from today, and yet our little album is so precious to us, and the pages are turned over on each anniversary.  As you can see, the photographs are already turning to an old-fashioned sepia colour.  The wedding photos get older and I look younger - today's photos look newer and I look older!

You've probably also spotted the fact that the bridegroom is wearing a medal.  My lovely mother, who had a nice sense of humour, gave him a chocolate medal on a ribbon, awarded for being brave enough to marry me.

He still has it, looking a little the worse for wear, but he treasures it.

We met at his sister's 14th birthday party when I was 13 years old, and he was quite grown up at 15.  You may not believe in love at first sight, but we each saw the other 'across a crowded room' before we even spoke, and that was it - love, and we've never changed.  These days I think that love at first sight is more a question of seeing someone and somehow recognising them as the person you always want to be with.

When I say it was a quiet wedding, there was a special reason for that.  For one thing we were 'too young' (at 24 and almost 22), but most of all for the fact that his family didn't want him to marry me, and my family didn't want me to marry him - apparently we were not right for each other in spite of all our years of 'courting' and we were told the marriage wouldn't last a year.

It was quiet because my family didn't talk to his, and his family didn't talk to mine, and my father turned the 9 inch TV on and he and my brothers watched the cricket.

One nice thing about the day (apart from getting hitched at last) was that it was 'walking day' in the village in the afternoon, and the main street was decorated for the event with bunting and flags.

  Obviously this photo was taken after the church service.  As I said, I made my own dress and veil.  My sister and I always made our own clothes, and my mother sewed all through the war when my father was at first 'missing' and then in a Japanese POW camp in Changi for 4 years, her only way of paying the mortgage on their new bungalow and keeping us in just enough food.  And then I taught my daughters to sew, though it only took with one of them.

It seems sewing has always been in the family.  My mother always said that her grandmother - my great grandmother - made the green velvet suit for the little boy in this famous painting of 'Bubbles' by Sir John Millais.  It's fame rests in the fact that the Pears Soap company bought the painting for £2,200 and used it for advertising their soap after the soap tablet had been added in the lower right corner.  Was Millais prostituting his art for advertising, or was he a canny salesman?

I have two cards of the picture, and obviously the advertising message varied from time to time, and the colour printing also varies.  There's an interesting article on Wikipedia about Pears Soap, worth looking at.  Apparently it was the world's first registered brand, and the worlds oldest continuously existing brand.

So, 55 years on, still best friends, and still in love.  We hope to reach 60 years with a fair wind behind us.

Tuesday 26 June 2012


Still finding it rather difficult to get myself down to any demanding drawing or painting - using spare energy to help Dev with necessary home jobs as much as I can.

So this is rather a lazy blogpost.  I thought I would post some images from my sketchbooks.  You may find the subject matter of most of them a little weird - but I like weird.

This was done at a portrait class where I liked to experiment with different ways of tackling the subject, and this is what I call a scribble drawing.  It's one of my favourites.

Now for something a little more off-beat.  I am really interested in ancient Egyptian art and artefacts, and this was drawn from a photograph - I didn't meet the gentleman in person.  I often think it's a shame that they weren't left in peace in their tombs as they wished.  Still, as long they are written about or drawn, they are remembered.

I find skulls interesting - we once had a sheep's skull that we found on a country walk, and oh! how I wish I had it to draw today.

For some reason this fellow looked happy, even though I he's only a plastic model, and I felt impelled to call him 'The Jolly Miller'.

I love playing about on Photoshop with my drawings or photographs, and this is an 'Andy Warhol' version:

Not a very good scan, for which I apologise.  And to finish, just a painting doodle.  I had done some wax painting and experimented with transferring some of the images onto water-colour paper.  This one came out as just grey blotches, but with a bit of work with my Inktense pencils this is the resulting doodle - Elephant Rears.

Sunday 24 June 2012


I am so pleased with myself!  Yesterday morning I decided I had to stop doodling for the moment and try to get back to something a big more demanding.  So Assignment 5.2 of Lisa Wright's e-course beckoned me (and forgave me for temporarily missing out a few tasks in between).  This the first 'work' I've done since the operation, and I was surprised at how much my hand was shaking, but I persevered.

This assignment really made me think - which of course is what Lisa intended - and it took a lot more thinking about than I expected.

Firstly, it really needs two very contrasting styles - like the Vermeer/Picasso Lisa showed as her example, so I decided on Modigliani and Schiele.

Modigliani is one of my favourite artists, his lines and shapes and colours all so 'wrong' and yet so 'right'.

Egon Schiele is such a different 'kettle of fish'.  I love his lines and his use of colour - again so seemingly 'wrong'.  This painting of Walli, his model, is lovely.  The number of times I've tried to copy her face and capture the sad expression of her eyes and lips and never managed it.  (I think she's taking her pulse, actually).  No wonder she was sad, when after doing everything for him he upped and married someone else.

Now, as you know, Schiele was a bit of a weirdo, and definitely not the kind of man you would invite home for coffee or accept his invitation to pose for him.  Not that he was the only artist with peculiar artistic interests - try Rodin, for example, and I have a vague feeling Picasso too.

So this was the Modigliani painting of Juan Gris that I chose, partly because his head was already as a slight angle.  And this was the Schiele painting.

I chose this because it was not quite as bumpy or knobbly as many of his drawings.  I thought that if I went too much in the direction of Schiele there might be nothing of Juan Gris left.

To start off I did a quick sketch of Juan to provide me with a basis.

Not too clear because the pencil lines were quite faint.  So here's Juan by Egon Amadeo Schiele Modigliani.  I was fairly limited with colour because I am still using just the Inktense pencils.

I can't say that I'm particularly pleased with it, and would have liked a little more of Schiele in it, but Juan would have got lost.  In spite of that I'm happy that I made myself do it: I enjoyed the thinking, the process and the discipline of it.  So it has achieved what Lisa intended.

Just to finish I thought I would include one of my own sketches from my sketchbook, done towards the end of last year, of a gallery attendant in one of the Liverpool museums.  A lovely chap with thick spikes of hair sticking up, I don't know how but not with gel.  He said everyone wanted to photograph him, and I'm not surprised!

Feeling much better now and improving every day, and glad to be getting back to the real world.  Dev made scones this morning, just had one with coffee and it was gorgeous.  Eldest grandson (27) just rang and said he and his brother and sister are all home from down south and are about to come round.  Life is certainly not boring!

Wednesday 20 June 2012


Have been trying each day to do a bit of doodling on the sofa (well, not actually on the sofa, but sitting there with my pencils, pens and pieces of background papers).  

Our new sofas were only delivered on Monday, after 14 weeks of waiting, so I have to be very careful not to get pen marks on the nice cream fabric.  With ordering them so long ago, even before the doctor suspected something was wrong, we had reached the point of wondering whether we would even like the design or the colour.  But very comfortable, so we're happy with them all round.

Doodling like this really suits me at the moment, and I love the way the images develop their own direction and turn out quite unexpectedly, like this one.  The important thing is to let the mind and hand wander quite freely without any conscious intervention.

I keep looking at this one and thinking 'is it finished?', but it keeps telling me it is quite happy as it is, so I've left it alone.  I don't know what it is, but it quite pleases me.

I turned the  pre-painted background to this one into a landscape with my Inktense pencils, but was not happy with it and couldn't doodle anything else on it.  Then the idea of painting the little girl on a separate piece of paper, cutting her out and sticking her on came to me, and the oyster bucket was amongst the scraps of collage on my side table.  I keep wondering what she's thinking and what she's going to do.  If she's walking, it looks like a long way home with the oysters.

Just for the interest of it, I used the Snapseed app to turn the image into monochrome to see how it looked.  I think I'm getting worried now about her walking home alone through this threatening landscape.

The next doodle is an object lesson in not letting the conscious mind interfere in the process and make independent decisions about the outcome - which is the only reason I'm including it.  

I started to doodle two tall curlicues and put it to one side for a while.  When I came back to it I started thinking 'oh, it's going to look empty down at the bottom of the paper, I'd better put something like flowers in', and the ugly flower things were the result.  

When I finished off the curly shapes, I was so annoyed that I had consciously interfered and messed up the doodle, and I really dislike it.

This is more like it!  Who's going to get the bigger surprise - will the frog really turn into a prince!

And the last one for today .....

Friday 15 June 2012


Yesterday I checked out Tracey Fletcher King's blog   for 14th June on "Doing the Lean" - as usual a really interesting post.  I find it difficult to get my creative juices going at the moment, so I decided to adapt Tracey's advice to my own discomfort zone and lean into art by just doodling during yesterday and today.

I picked up some scrap pieces of watercolour paper that already had a background of some kind on them, and sat on the sofa with my Inktense pencils, a water-brush and my favourite children's gel pens, and just let the images produce themselves.

Don't know where this came from - I don't feel sad, at least not on the surface.  Shouldn't let the mind run free, there's no knowing what corners of the mind it will creep into!

No, this is not a key-stoned photo, just an irregularly-shaped off-cut with just a blobby shape at the top left as a starting point.  Doing something like this lets me go into a sort of trance state where I just let the pencils decide what to do.  What does it matter whether it's any good or not - I'm a member of the Messy Book Group and I don't care about things like that any more!

Not everything works, and this purple and yellow one is not my favourite, but I will defend it by saying it's 'different'.  I think that even if we often feel our own work is not good enough, the one thing we can say is that whatever original work we paint, no-one else in the world would paint exactly that in exactly the way we have done.  So we should at least give ourselves points for originality and creativity.

I quite like this green one.  I would have liked to make it much brighter but, given the restrictions of the strong green paint and the colours of the gel pens I had, it is what it is, not what I wanted to make it be.  It took ages but was good for taking the mind on to another plane, and I am fairly pleased with it.

OK, so my side table also held a few collage scraps, scissors and Pritt-stick, and this fishy image created itself.

The next one really is my favourite.  I cut out the clock faces with no idea of what to do with them, and the idea of using them as faces suddenly came to me.

I love the baby girl with her little bib, and the middle sister who obviously takes care of the younger ones, while her two older sisters regard themselves as too old to have anything to do with the little ones.

Very tiring, but altogether enjoyable ..... so I'm not sad like the first lady, I am .....

Bye for now.

Thursday 14 June 2012


I'm rather tired today, but want to post and keep my mind moving, so I am working on the Blue Peter principle of 'Here's one I prepared earlier' .  (For overseas bloggers Blue Peter is a children's programme my girls loved when they were small, which includes making craft items - though I think it has just been discontinued after over 50 years).

I already had the photos for this post ready in a folder in my 'Blogs To Do' file from a while ago, and it seemed to me appropriate for the moment.  

The image started with a photograph of the door of an old house that I took years ago, and as usual developed from there rather than being planned.

So then the trees started to take over, and the birds flew in ... and it started to feel sad and a bit creepy, and I like to feel happy.

Before sticking the doorway (a doorway in the middle of nowhere?) on the page I had already decided the doors would open and something would be seen through.  Bingo, the idea came and I added a floating tag to carry the text.

The view inside the doors is part of a wax painting, also done some time ago.  (I forgot to include the right hand side black frame in the photo!)

Looking at it now it seems, as I said, very appropriate.  After being given the bad news so suddenly, the world is now brightening up again after the op, and I feel I can enter the world of colour and light again.

Tuesday 12 June 2012





Although I have used the Brushes app for painting on my I-Phone, this is my first attempt at using it on the I-Pad, and I was determined to take advantage of the larger size by trying to paint as if I was using acrylics.  I thought I would lead you through the steps I took to produce the final result.

I didn't know what I was going to do, or where it was going to go, but just dived in and started.  When this emerged I decided it was going to be THE ELF WITH GREEN HAIR.  So this was the basic sketch to start me off, and then on to painting.

Brushes is quite a simple App, and we have downloaded a few other painting apps for the pad - Dev likes to use ArtStudio, but since I am used to Brushes on the phone this is enough for me to try at the moment.  

Brushes is a bit like Photoshop in that it uses layers.  When I use the phone to paint, I always start my painting on the first layer, leaving the original background layer blank in case I want to flood it with colour (the only way to 'fill' withy colour on Brushes is to fill the whole page, not sections like each section of 'hair').  Having painted as far as this I decided to fill the background layer with a fairly neutral colour.  

Had no idea what I was going to do next, but started another new layer just in case I was unhappy with what I did - so the 'unhappy' layer could be deleted if I wanted without damaging the painting so far.

I often like drawing lines and shapes and patterns on faces, and here I thought white designs would look right for an elf.  When I had finished I felt it had developed something of the Maori face patterns.  Loved it.

So, now I have to do something at the bottom of the picture on another layer (what did you just say about planning a painting before you start!!!!).

Pleased with that.  I wanted to echo the shapes and colours of the 'hair'.  I think he is watching something from behind the bushes.

As far as the I-Pad painting is concerned I was really happy with this - it's the first piece of art I have done since the operation and I feel it has taken me a huge step forward, even if I am pretty tired at the end of it.  Signed it and patted myself on the back.

Never one to leave well alone, and always mindful of my sculpture tutor's advice to always take things a step further I tried an experiment I haven't tried before with an App call Snapseed.  

Having sent my painting to the photos camera-roll, I was able to open Snapseed and call up the painting.  Haven't used it before, but I tried the 'Grunge' button, and then the 'Organic Frame', to produce this quite interesting version of the painting.

I can see I'll be trying out the other techniques available on Snapseed in the future - I really like the textured effect of the 'hair' and leaves - which is what I would like to have done when painting the picture.

Hope you feel as I do that painting in this way is just as valid as watercolour, acrylic, etc.  It was good for me at the moment - no need for brushes, paint, or water - just my pad on my lap.

Monday 11 June 2012


This is just to prove that I did do something on the 'eyes' project for Lisa's E-Course, even if it was not much in the way of drawing/painting.

I arrived in the hospital the day before the op in the late morning.  No bed available, but there was a hard chair in the corridor for me to sit on while they tipped someone else out of a bed and readied it to put me in.

So, apart from a break for a 'cuppa' and yet another blood test, I sat and waited on the chair.  Unfortunately it was the afternoon for the fire alarm to be tested - and tested it was, all afternoon!

So, it was me, a hard chair, my sketchbook, a few Inktense pencils and a water-brush ........ something to take my mind off things while I waited.  

It wasn't very convenient or conducive for drawing and painting, so I decided I would just write and write about eyes - almost stream of consciousness writing, with the odd scribbled sketch.  I thought of the way we like to see people's eyes when we talk to them, and how tough men and gangsters - and even the FBI in movies - always seem to wear dark glasses.

I got quite interested in what I was doing and shut the world out - which was fortunate because I sat there for 5 hours solid just writing and drawing!  I just thought about what eyes mean to us.  For instance, if you start to draw someone quite a distance away in a cafe, even if they have their back to you, do you find as I do that they turn round and look straight at you?

Are you influenced in making a decision about someone by the colour of their eyes?

Then I thought more about how unsettling it is when we can't see someone's eyes - and what if the eyes are replaced in an image by something completely alien ..... or not even there at all.

My scribbled sketches got worse and worse as the hours went on, as you can see and eventually I just came to a full stop.  At last I was given a bed in a nice small ward with just two other ladies, and so glad to lie down.

Later in the evening I picked up my Kindle to read a little.  Having written and drawn about masks, it seemed so co-incidental that the very next page was about a body hanging in a shed with a mask on.  Cheerful reading!

After the op the next day I had no 'go' for anything, and am just now feeling that I might be able to start sketching.  I try to make myself do something else each day - and this blog post is today's challenge. Very tired now - Goodnight.