Tuesday 24 July 2012


Of all the things I love to draw, faces are one of my favourites, whether I'm using a pen, paintbrush or even my beloved new toys, my I-Phone or I-Pad.  The little 'out-take' above is a traditional pen and paint image, and the full picture will be at the end, but the out-take below is an I-Pad production.

The full image, created with the 'Brushes' App, started out as a simple idea to paint three or four faces surrounding a central face, each looking in a different direction.  

By the time I had roughed out the initial faces I was hooked, and kept adding another, then another, then another.  I made myself stop before I had actually filled the page (which doesn't show up here because the paper was white) because I liked the triangular shape.

I was really happy with the result.  The best thing about Brushes is pressing the 'button' that shows a rapid replay of the whole process of drawing and painting the image.

As usual, I can't leave things at that -

and for this version I took the image into the 'Snapseed' App and applied a couple of different filters to grunge it up, so that it looks like a poster that's been on a wall in the street for too long.  I'm not sure what it would be advertising.

The next painting was a pen and brush image, done a few months ago, with the same idea of multiple faces in my mind.

Once again I just started drawing - from one edge I think - and kept adding more and more faces ..... at least I hope you can see that they are faces.

I love this concept of multiple faces and my mind is busy trying to think of another way to follow through the idea.

If you had patience and nothing better to do, you could count how many different faces there are, but some colours do have more than one face, and there must be more important things in life than counting faces.  

I did try, but I gave up!  And I do have something better to do - it's coffee time.  

Tuesday 17 July 2012


More arty doodling - it keeps me happy.

Just after I had my op on the last day of May, I had an e-mail from Karen Isaacson to say I had won one of her little books, and I looked forward to receiving it.  It arrived in a giant envelope, along with papers, a lovely Karen-printed cloth, scraps, a gorgeous magazine, pan-pastels - all sorts of things.  You can imagine how happy this made me, and how it lifted my spirits, and I am so appreciative of her generous heart. 

I have a project in mind that will find me using all these lovely bits and pieces to make art (and some doodles, of course) as soon as I can put my mind to it. 

So when, a couple of weeks ago, she was a little down, I made a doodle postcard to send her.  The photo of it here shows black all round, but that is simply the table I put it on to photograph it - the card itself is cut around the flowers, just to do a different kind of doodle.

I had to ask for my trusty old Pfaff Creative sewing machine to be lifted from the cupboard so that I could do a little mending.  While it was out, I thought I would "sew-doodle" a card.  I cut out the flower and leaf from a scrap of an unsuccessful painting job.  I was quite pleased with it until I turned it over to the other side .......

The Pfaff was obviously in a bit of a bad mood because it hadn't been used for quite a while, and the stitching underneath had gone completely haywire.  Making the best of a bad job I thought to myself 'well it adds a bit of texture'.

THE DELIBERATE MISTAKES CARD:  Sorting through bits and pieces for a prompt for a doodleI found a photo I had taken of an old-style telephone box, and it reminded me of the procedure for making a telephone call in 'the olden days' when I was about 9 or so.  There was always a chance that some adult might have tried unsuccessfully to make a call and had forgotten to press Button B to get their coins back.  So if we passed a telephone box we would always run to press Button B to see if two pennies were returned.  

What luck if they did, in the WW2 days when our mothers couldn't give us any pocket money, so our source of income would be limited to returning jam jars to the shop for a penny a jar, Button B pennies and any pennies we could earn by running errands for people. 

Did you see the deliberate mistakes on the telephone box card?

And the last doodle today - news of the recent great discovery in the Lascaux caves.

(By the way, I believe Tephelone was the ancient Greek goddess named in advance as the goddess of electronic communication.)

Saturday 14 July 2012


This morning the sun was shining!   So at 6.30 am we went out to walk down the lanes.  We didn't walk a great distance because we kept stopping to take photographs, but still it was my longest walk yet since my op.  We both had our I-Phones with us, and to start with decided to focus on texture, but ended up just snapping anything that interested us.  Here are some of my photos from this morning.

Just a short distance up the our road is an old tree with these lovely shades of brown glowing in the sunlight and really deep texture in the bark.

On the shadowed side of the tree the colour change is dramatic, and the texture looks like the hide of some pre-historic creature.

This is part of an old metal notice fixed to a wooden telephone pole, the metal rusted to a gorgeous orange with a bubbly texture, the wording vanished for ever.

This close-up from a bin just below it makes me think of a vision of the earth from space of a world overtaken by litter.

On the other side of the bin was this graffiti - I wish I could be as free with line painting as young graffiti artists are.

This square of concrete set amongst the paving slabs always catches my interest when I pass it - someone, or a few people, had great fun before the concrete set.

And to finish, a view through the hedge of the fields and trees, and in the last two photos below, some of the lovely flowers in the cottage gardens.

Wednesday 11 July 2012


Repetition in art is always interesting - and no-one has ever surpassed Escher's drawings and the fantastic tessellations he produced.

Endlessly fascinating and so clever.  So this post is about tessellation on a much simpler scale, using just the outline of a girl's head.

If you haven't tried this before, you start with an outline grid of squares, drawn lightly in pencil.  The size of your grid squares, and the number of squares you decide on depends on (a) the size of your paper, and (b) how much patience you will have in repeating the drawing.

I decided on a 3 x 4 grid to give 12 repetitions, and this sketch shows the faces after I had outlined them again in ink and erased the pencil grid.  Each face overlaps the adjoining squares just a little in this case to achieve the tessellation.  The amount of overlap depends on your choice of design.

You will see that the faces are not identical.  This is partly due to the fact that I'm not very good at repeating a drawing identically, and because if I wanted exact repetition of the faces I could create the drawing on Photoshop.  To me, part of the charm is the slight difference from one girl to another.  This shows up more when the faces are painted.

But when it came to colouring the faces I decided to use the computer, simply because I like combining my drawings with the Photoshop program.

It wasn't necessarily easier than painting.  I found one big mistake when I started work on it - I had forgotten to draw in the pupils of the eyes, and this took time and patience.  I considered making each head a different colour, but decided to keep to the repetitive idea.

I like the colours I've chosen, but once I am on Photoshop I can never resist trying out some colour changes.

The pink is not bad, but the blue doesn't work so well.

And the orangey-brown is not bad, but ugh! the green is sickly.

Takes a fair bit of patience, but gives a good sense of achievement.

Saturday 7 July 2012


I really love the challenge of drawing faces from live models, but unfortunately am not able to travel to life drawing/portrait classes now, and don't have a supply of 'sitters' patient enough to sit still for more than 10 seconds!  So I make do with quick sketches of strangers in cafés and waiting rooms.


The drawings here are from a portrait class of a few years ago.  Looking through one of my sketchbooks I found that I had pasted this quote on the front page, with a note that I think it is one of the most accurate descriptions of the problems of drawing I've read.

"You sit down to start - starting is the hard part - there is your model, like a maze of formless confusion.  You look and look .............. then you catch sight of the shadow behind a swatch of hair, a sort of view across the hill of the forehead, a perfect little enclave right out of the sight of the normal eye.  But your eye gets to it ... your eyes search out those secret places no-one else bothers to find, no-one else knows they are the start of the story that face has to tell ...."    Sarah Raphael, artist and portrait painter, quoted in Telegraph Magazine, 23 October 2004, p63.

This is Sergeant Ted, ex RAF, another of the scribbly drawings I like to do when the pose is for a fairly short time.

He really was one of the nicest people you could meet, and I find that I always do a better portrait if I like the person.

This version of Sergeant Ted was from a longer pose, and I took a more traditional approach.

And yes, I do prefer to draw profiles rather than full face views, but I do make myself change to full face or semi-profile to even out the challenge.

So I am serious sometimes ........ but I always feel there should be more fun in life, and this little lady is definitely a bit more fun.

Every now and then Dev and I set ourselves a joint challenge, just for fun, and to loosen us up.  This challenge started with a head only photo in the newspaper of a chubby baby wearing sunglasses. Our challenge was to paint an A3 interpretation of the image within 20 minutes.  Here's my version:

I love her.  She's called Polly, and she thinks her dark glasses make her look like a film star avoiding attention - Liz Taylor perhaps!

Tuesday 3 July 2012


I know I should be more serious about my artwork, but I've been pretty serious all my life - about my family, my work, my art, my writing and my pastimes.

So now, in my dotage I feel entitled to be as frivolous and light-hearted as I like most of the time.  Which is just my excuse for doing more doodling.

I've always doodled and sketched with a pen or pencil to help get over the boredom of so many long-winded and unproductive meetings, but now I find doodling with paints and coloured pens very addictive.  

There's something about starting with a randomly painted background and jumping straight in with an image or a few words, with no idea of where it's going to go. 

I'm not 'into' landscapes of any kind and am never satisfied with any attempt, so it was no surprise when I doodled a landscape background with Inktense pencils and was unhappy with it.  The bird covering a great deal of it simply flew onto the paper, and just as I was about to draw the wing I noticed the floral scrap of paper which seemed just right.

I think he's so pleased with himself and his bright wing and tail.  Looks to me like he's called Geoffrey.

It always surprises me how something quite unexpected appears without thought on a doodled page.  Having drawn the hand the word 'geranium' came into my mind for some reason and the rest of the words invented themselves.  I really enjoyed colouring in with my lovely bright Berol Brush Pens (and I always did colour carefully within the lines from childhood).

When Barry met Ally it proved to be the same old-same old disappointment with internet dating.  How's a handsome fellow like him every going to find a decent-looking bird!

This one's just for me, because I still seem to be no nearer to my pillion ride on a Harley.