Saturday 28 September 2013


 MEGALLYM the MASK - marker pens, Jez
I am so pleased to have been involved with the  29 FACES challenge run by Martha of Ayala Art blog.  It's been an unusual and exciting month.

I completed my 29th face yesterday, but here is an extra.  Megallym said he would be disappointed not to appear in the challenge now that he has been created.

He was actually very quick and simple to make.  I developed the left-hand side of his face from a blind scribble and inked in the outline of the mask I saw on that side.  Then I simply traced that outline, reversed it and transferred it to the right hand side of the face to complete the mask and make it completely symmetrical.  The colouring was done with marker pens.

Masks can sometimes be a bit scary, but Megallym looks quite a gentle fellow, serious and rather sad.  He is probably sad that the challenge is over.

Thank you Martha for this great challenge, I've learnt a lot about myself and speeded up tremendously, seen wonderful faces by all those bloggers I have been able to visit so far, and will be blog-hopping for quite a while yet to see and comment on more.

I have appreciated the lovely and encouraging comments I have received and thank you all so much for visiting.  And I have found new friends.  What more could anyone ask!

Friday 27 September 2013


Bought on Kindle for 99p


I bought this book when I first got my Kindle and downloaded several books that looked promising.  I'm interested in social history and the synopsis looked as if it would be worth reading.   It's a well-researched book about the problems faced by the first Welsh emigrĂ©s to Patagonia to set up a colony, a Utopian land where the Welsh language and way of life would be safeguarded, well away from the desperate conditions they lived in back in Wales.  I had heard of these Welsh colonists, so I added it to my list of 12 books for the Artful Reading Club.

The brave migrants were promised 'a place of meadows and tall trees' by their charismatic leader who claimed he had been to the area they were to settle in and seen the rich, fertile green fields and trees.  In fact they arrived, after a horrific journey by sea, at the cold Patagonian desert, which is the largest desert in all the Americas.

The fact that they were claiming land that belonged to the nomadic Tehuelche Indians and dispossessing them, just as they had been dispossessed, didn't seem to occur to them.  They had heard of the Indians and feared them and what they might do.

I found the book slow and monotonous, and was continually irritated by the way the settlers responded to their terrible hardships, and even after they realised time after time that they had been duped they still kept faith in their leader and struggled on.  Yes, it is historically accurate, but it made such miserable reading, I just felt as though a black mist descended on me every time I forced myself to go back to reading the book.  I would have given up except for it being one of my ARC choices.

The story alternates between the events as experienced by settler Silas and one of the Indians, a mystical Shaman who eventually helps them to survive just a little better, though the weather conditions they faced never changed.

All in all, I was glad I had only paid 99p for it, and would recommend you to avoid it unless you are Welsh and have Patagonian Welsh ancestors.


When it came to being inspired to create my artwork I was stumped, and I mean completely stumped.    Looking at the book cover, I feel even the cover artist had problems in deciding how to visually sum up the story.  There wasn't a character who had seemed real enough to me to 'see' them in drawing or painting terms.  The only character who seemed to have anything at all I could interpret was the ancient Indian shaman, Yelue, so here he is:

Yelue, the ancient Indian Shaman
Mixed Media - Jez
I found a very tiny and very blurred black and white photograph of an old Patagonian Indian 'on tinternet' and took my inspiration from that.  In the end he doesn't look much like the photograph, though I tried to show how wrinkly he was.  I'm not happy with him, and he looks as miserable as I felt when I had finished the book.

Here's my original drawing, which I was much more pleased with:

For October I really must choose one of my 'list' books that will be a little more interesting.  I think it will be 'The Drawing Book' by Sarah Simblet.  If I can't get interested in that there's no hope for me!



Yes I've managed to achieved the 29 faces within 28 days for the 29 FACES challenge, though there were several times this month that I doubted my ability to manage it.  Although I've done all 29, I shall post another one tomorrow on the last day to complete my efforts to do something different each day.

The chap above is my initial drawing, and it's doing double duty.  As well as showing it for my 29th face, it is an image I have been creating this week for The Artful Reading Club challenge, where we review a book each month and make a piece of artwork inspired by the book.  My September book was 'A Place of Meadows and Tall Trees' by Clare Dudman.  Although the subject of Welsh emigrĂ©s trying to set up a colony in Patagonia should have been interesting as social history, I got annoyed with the characters and the way they responded to the terrible situations they encountered.

Patagonian Indian
Unfinished mixed media painting - Jez
When I had finished the book I had absolutely no inspiration for an artwork, and the only character who had stayed in my memory was that of a very old Patagonian Indian who at first frightened them, but later helped them to exist at a rudimentary level.  I found a very small and very blurred image of a Patagonian Indian on the web to help me.

I have to say my old chappie looks very little like the photograph.  He looks as fed up as I did when I finished the book.  My apologies to the author, Clare Dudman, if she is by chance reading this.  I am not at all pleased with my painting, and even when it is finished I still won't be pleased with it.

I put my initial drawing up at the start of this post because I was much happier with the drawing than with the painting.  I hope that you will call back tomorrow to see my last face.  Thank you for checking in on Face 29.

Here are faces 21 to 28 from this week:

Also linking to Artful Reading Club, Paint Party Friday and Paper Saturdays tomorrow.

Thursday 26 September 2013


Choose two faces, get three free

I'm posting two faces again today, and I'm offering you a choice for the 29 FACES challenge - I'm choosing the lady with the high beehive hairdo for No 27 and the lady in the red dress for No 28.  Dev calls it 'Choose two faces, get three free'.  

This is the right-hand side of an unfinished double page spread in my sketchbook.  The background was painted with random splodges of watercolour few weeks ago.

When I looked at the pages earlier in the week I could see shapes and faces, so in my 'sit down' time, I outlined the shapes wherever I could see cartoonish characters.  I used Inktense pencils for the outlines and the colours, and then used a brush-water pen to turn the pencil colours to paint.

I can see a few faces and figures on the left-hand page, and will fill up all the space with figures and patterns when I have a little more time.  Being left-handed, I always start drawing or painting on the right hand side of the page and work across to the left.  Do any other left-handers do this?  I also always start reading a magazine from the back and read my way to the beginning, I just don't feel comfortable starting at the front, but I do read a book from the first page to the last.

After 56 years of marriage, I have only one little complaint - I still get my cutlery put on the table in the right-handers' way!

I want to give my thanks to all of you who have visited and encouraged me with your kind comments, and for your good wishes during the not-so-nice hospital visits I had, and Dev's cataract operation this month.  All my visits are over for the moment, and I am sure when I go back to see the specialist he will have good news for me.  Dev has had one cataract operation which seems to be a success and is just waiting now for the second one to be done.  I am sorry that I've been behind in commenting as much as I usually do, but will make sure to do so and enjoy seeing all your marvellous artwork.

Just one more face to go now, and for once it will be a more traditional drawing/painting.  I hope I can finish it in time, otherwise it will be posted as 'unfinished'.

Wednesday 25 September 2013


Black pen and digital 'colouring' - Jez


For Martha's 29 FACES during this month of September, we were challenged to create 29 faces in 28 days, so today I am posting two faces to make sure I get the extra day's face in within the 28 days.

Edwain, the young chap above combines the idea of how much information is needed to make it recognisable as a face, which I have mentioned before, and the effects of strong light and shadow.

Both faces were created very quickly on Monday morning, having to get them done hastily because we have a couple of clinic days this week for Dev.  Edwain was drawn with a black pen, and the black shadows and grey stripes added digitally, time being precious.

Here's my second face of the day:

Franz Ferdinand - known by his friends as FF
White pen on black card - Jez 
White on Black:  I haven't drawn with white ink on black card for a long time, though I used a white pen for this drawing.  In fact I drew Franz Ferdinand in a hardly-used black sketchbook.  I really must practise white on black more.  It feels quite different, and I somehow find it quite frightening to do, and it's hard to make my pen touch the paper and start drawing!

I'll say one good thing about this challenge, it has certainly speeded me up.  Neither of these faces is marvellous and I'm only barely satisfied with them, but Martha encouraged us to post our work whether it was unsatisfactory to us or even unfinished.  The challenge has made me braver to put up for public view pieces of artwork that would normally be hidden under the pile of drawings to be kept from anyone else's eyes.  Thank you Martha.

Tuesday 24 September 2013


Bernard, the Dotty Man
Inktense black brush pen - Jez
The face I have created over the weekend for today's face is one I made from dots - I can't say 'drew' because it's not really drawn, it's just ...... well, it's just dotted.  It's something I've never tried before - still keeping to my personal approach to the 29 FACES challenge of making something in a different way every day.

Having created a lady with circles recently, I thought it might be interesting to try a face with nothing but dots, making an attempt to show light and shade through the placement of the dots.

That's why he's Bernard the Dotty Man.  He looks to me as though he might be a golfer.

What more can I say?  I held my breath every time I picked up my sketchbook and added some more dots in case I dotted in the wrong places, but for a first attempt it's quite reasonable and I am very pleased with it.  One of my favourites from the whole series.  In fact, I look at it and can't believe I did it!

Also linking to Try it on Tuesday dots and circles challenge.

Monday 23 September 2013


Matilda, Lady of Mystery
Acrylic and ink - Jez
The last week of the 29 FACES challenge and another six faces to create after today's mystery lady.  Once again I wanted to create an image in a different way, and I was rather pleased with the result.

Why the mystery?  Because you can't tell whether she is outside and quite happily looking IN to somewhere interesting, or inside looking OUT rather pensively because ...... well, I don't quite know where she could be looking out from.  What do you think?

I was wondering yesterday what I could create in a different way for Monday.  I flipped the pages of the sketchbook I was using and found this drippy image in acrylics which I painted a week or two ago and was not too pleased with, so it didn't progress beyond this, and was clearly waiting for its moment to come.

I had the idea of painting a girl's face and digitally superimposing the drippy image on top of it.

No sooner thought than done, and I quickly sketched and painted Matilda in about ten minutes.

With the two images imported into Photoshop, and the drippy page cropped, I inserted Matty behind the drips, or the drips on top of Matty depending on how you look at it.  I leave it to you to write the story behind the image.  Thank you for visiting.

Sunday 22 September 2013


'Clarence' - Jez
Click on image to enlarge
Here's something I've never done before.  I went to get the box of inks to draw a new face for 29 FACES and on top of the box of inks was a strip of polystyrene, about 4 inches by 10 inches.  Since it came to hand to unexpectedly like that, I decided that I would try to create a face on the polystyrene.

The first thing I lifted out of the box of inks was a plastic pouch containing this pen and ink set:

I bought these pens last year but have only tried them once.  They seemed a really good idea, three pens with different sized nibs, and 12 cartridges of different coloured inks.  When I got them home I tried them out straight away and chose purple, yellow and orange.  But when I wanted to change for another colour cartridge I found that once a cartridge has been used and removed it can never be put back in again, even if you have only used a small quantity of ink.  If I have understood the instructions correctly, that means that to use all the colours I would have to buy another 9 pens.  So they have never been used again until now.  Very disappointing.

The materials were decided for me, so I only had to think of a subject to draw and when Clarence came to mind I was ready to start - but carefully because the polystyrene is rather soft.  This picture shows the side view of the polystyrene, showing that it is about half an inch thick.

When I had drawn the outline for Clarence, and the random lines for the background, I thought I'd see if the ink was water soluble, and got my paintbrush and water out.  Happily, just smudging the lines with the wet brush spread the ink and gave an effect I was pleased with.

The polystyrene was very fragile, and you can see where a chunk broke off where I held it.  An unexpected result was that the ink highlighted the circles of the polystyrene, which you can see a little more clearly if you click to enlarge the image.  Quite a co-incicence after drawing my 'circles' lady last week.

I'd be interested to know if anyone else has used polystyrene as a 'canvas' for a drawing/painting.

Saturday 21 September 2013


'ZIGGY' - Collage and brown Inktense Pencil
Click image to enlarge
I can't believe we've already reached Day 21 of the 29 FACES challenge.  Yesterday's was quite a long post, so this is a very short one for today.

Meet my friend Ziggy, a cheerful chappie.  I cut shapes from magazine pages and collaged them onto a sheet of A3 card.  When I had finished the collaging I felt it needed something more, so I used a brown Inktense pencil to draw an abstract pattern over his face, and colour some shapes in for his rosy cheeks.

I have to say, I do love his hairstyle, he must use a whole pot of wax hair gel every day.

As usual I couldn't resist the temptation to add a filter on Photoshop, and just adding the Trace Edges filter made him look quite different.  I think I prefer the collage version though.

Friday 20 September 2013


'FRIGHT' - Monoprint on cartridge paper


Today's offering for Martha's 29 FACES challenge is the monoprint above which was printed on cartridge paper.  I've made monoprints before back in the days when we had a huge workshop space behind the garage, and loads of room to store things.  Now that we live in a flat, I don't have the space or a sheet of toughened glass with bevelled edges any more, which is what I would normally use for this type of monoprint.

As the saying goes, 'If you can't have what you want, want what you have'.  Couldn't have my glass, so I decided to experiment with using an A4 sheet of clear acetate.  Here's howI started the process:

Firstly I needed to draw a face, and I wanted to draw the face of a frightened girl, which you can see above.  Actually in my quick sketch she doesn't look very frightened - it must have been a very small spider she saw.

I covered my desk ( = old dining table) with newspaper, laid the pencil sketch on the newspaper, then laid the clear acetate sheet on top and stuck it down with a bit of masking tape on each side.

I should have taken the photo of my workspace at the beginning, but of course I didn't think of it, so what you can see is the acetate sheet at the end of the process, where the sketch is hidden by the residue of printing ink left on it after the prints have been taken.  The printing ink is in the plastic dish, with the roller/brayer close to it.

I painted over the sketch with Speedball printing ink to which I'd added a retarder to give me plenty of time.  I haven't used the Speedball ink before, but it has the advantage that everything can be cleaned with water.  It was quite a different consistency to the printing ink I've used before, more runny, and I didn't make as good a job of painting on the acetate as I wanted.  I was using fairly fine brushes, but I mean, just look at those eyebrows!  Also, the acetate 'gives' when I roll over the top of the paper, whereas a good thick piece of glass is nice and solid.

Still my response to the 29 Faces challenge is experimentation, so the process is more important than the result.

This was the second print using ordinary ink jet printer paper.  The photos are so dark because of the grey, grey weather.  In fact I feel the greyness gives the image a more atmospheric effect, and the lady looks a little more scared than in the original drawing.

I'm quite pleased with this as a first attempt with the acetate.  It may produce unexpected results but at least I shall be able create monoprints again and improve my technique.  I don't need the newspaper in future because the Speedball ink was not messy at all, and the acetate will not 'give' as much.

There was enough ink for a third print on ordinary printer paper.  I like the effect of the faded ink, though I don't like the unexpected big blob of black.  Given time I would work into a print like this one using charcoal stick or charcoal pencil to take it to another level and give it a different effect.

And a bonus - the picture above shows the sheet of acetate when I have taken all three prints, leaving the dried ink on it after I had finished.  You will notice that in the three prints the eyes are looking to the right, whereas on the acetate sheet and the original sketch the eyes are looking to the left.  The prints are, of course, a mirror image.

Here's the first cartridge paper print again:

If you have a sheet of acetate and some printing ink, or even acrylic paint, I hope you might think of experimenting with the technique.

Here are the other six faces I have created this week for 29 FACES:

Also linking with Paint Party Friday and Manon's Paper Saturdays.

Thursday 19 September 2013


'The Circles of My Mind'
Unfinished - halfway stage
Acrylic and Ink - Jez
The idea for this painting for 29 FACES popped into my mind a week or two ago, and it took me days of drawing the circles freehand, just a small section or two at a time to reach this stage.  It's very concentrated.  Dev didn't believe I had drawn them freehand and I had to draw several for him just to prove that I had.  Not all of them are perfect circles, but they are near enough for me, and it's certainly another different approach.

This is where I started, with a line drawing of a female face.  I used a range of sepia colours for the background, leaving the central section a slightly lighter colour, and then drew the face again on the acrylic background.  I had circles on my mind, and I started drawing circles of various sizes over the face, using one of my black Pitt Artist's pens, my favourite pens.

When I had finished the face I felt I had kept too many of the circles small, so I felt I should use more large circles for the hair.  In fact when it was finished, the density of the small circles made the face stand out from the mass of circles.

When I had completed the face and hair I thought 'Oh no, there's all that area of neck and shoulders to complete with more circles!'  Once I settled down though I enjoyed it, there is a meditative quality to drawing circle after circle to fill a blank space - but it has to be done a bit at a time, it's so concentrated.

My intention is to paint a lot of the circles in shades from cream to brown, leaving some the colour of the background to show through.  The colours for the hair will be darker than those of the face.  I can see now that this is going to take a lot of time and care, and I feel it unlikely that I will finish it in the 9 days that are left in the challenge.  That's why I'm posting the unfinished version.

When I do eventually complete it I shall post it on my blog.

I hope you are all enjoying Martha's 29 Faces challenge as much as I am, both in creating my own faces and seeing all the wonderful work that everyone else is creating.

Wednesday 18 September 2013


'Not Ronald' - Continuous line drawing
Pitt Artist's Fine Line Pen - Jez
Click on picture to enlarge
Still determined to try to create a drawing a day for 29 FACES using a different technique or a different medium every day.  The inspiration for the drawing above was a photo of last century film star Ronald Colman.  It doesn't bear much resemblance to him, which is why I've called him 'Not Ronald'.

This face is drawn with a single 'travelling' continuous line, keeping the pen on the paper from start to finish.  I've done single line drawings before, but usually just the outline.  This time I was determined to investigate the photographic image more thoroughly, drawing as much detail as I could, every shade, every fold of flesh.

I don't mind a bit that it doesn't look like Ronald.  I wasn't trying to draw an accurate image of him.  This drawing activity is about absolute concentration on the details of the face, keeping the pen moving as the eyes search around the image, and focussing on line, shadow, edges and folds.

It's about the feeling of the pen as it moves around the page.  I don't know if I am saying this clearly enough.  Anyway it is a very intense activity and quite tiring because of the concentration involved.

The result really pleases me, and I shall be using this technique again when 29 Faces is over at the end of September.  Can't believe we are more than half-way through.  Only 10 days to go, so I think I shall be able to keep to my personal 'do it differently' challenge.

Tuesday 17 September 2013


'Aidianna' - A widely travelled lady
Paper collage on card, with paper strips for 'hair' only attached around the face.
Cher was on the BBC TV News a week or so ago promoting her latest tour.  I absolutely adore Cher in films such as Tea with Mussolini, and Mermaids, two of our favourite DVDS.  Such an individual face.

The programme showed a photograph of her with a huge newspaper wig she wore in one of her previous tours.  It looked fantastic, and it inspired me to use the idea as a basis for  one of my 29 FACES.

I used pages containing city maps from an old road map book of Europe.  I cut small odd-shaped pieces for the face and stuck them on a piece of card quite at random.  The eyes and lips are shapes I cut from coloured paper and collaged on.

For the 'hair' I cut dozens and dozens of strips, which I stuck around the face just a little glue on a folded-back edge, so that the 'hair' would flop around and position itself as it wished.  The finished piece is 17 inches high by 21 inches wide.

On Sunday, when I finished it and took the photograph, the sky was almost black and it poured with rain all day, so I was amazed when I was able to take this reasonably clear photograph.  The artwork is laid out on a black towel to get a good contrast.

Here's where she started.  As soon as I saw Cher's newspaper wig I knew I wanted to create something along those lines for 29 Faces. I grabbed my 'rough' sketchbook, which is always beside me and quickly made a rough sketch to remind me to do it.  It's always better for me to get an idea down on paper right away, otherwise it gets lost in all the other ideas that are always spinning around in my head.

This close-up of the face shows the various pieces of map a little more clearly.  I like the way the randomly placed pieces of map 'draw' lines across the face, especially the two that are a little like eyebrows above the eyes.  Serendipity.

To finish off I took the image into Photoshop and applied the 'Stylize - Find Edges' filter.  It produced this striking effect, and the effect of the filter on the black towel has produced interesting texture.

I think I like this version of Aidianna even more than the original.