Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sketchbook: Trying Out New Media, and Making Simplified Versions

On a trip to Melrose yesterday, I found some Neocolor II watersoluble crayons/pastels in a charity shop. I thought I would try them out in a few sketches. The colour glides onto the page like wax crayon, but is soluble in water. I think that the advantage over watercolour is that you could take them with you and make a quick colour reference sketch on the go, without the need for water. Back at home, you could add water if appropriate. The Ultramarine pastel turned out to be from the Neocolor I range and barely dissolved at all.

These are a couple of earlier sketches taken from a photograph I took in Mungrisdale in Cumbria.

The left hand sketch is made with coloured pencils - quite hard to get any depth of colour or tonal variation. The right hand sketch is made with my current favourite: POSCA pens. They are very opaque, with strong pigmentation. I just have a set of 15 pens with the 1.8 - 2.5mm tip, which forces me to simplify forms and colour choices, and forget too much detail.

Some more POSCA pen sketches taken from my photos of plants and jackdaws. I'm trying to evolve almost abstract representations to use in my artwork. There may be one or two useable ideas amongst the scribbles!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Twelve Hearts Patchwork and Appliqué Wall Hanging

Here is my latest wall hanging: made from a mix of machine sewn patchwork, hand appliqué and hand quilting. I was aiming for a colourful mixture of fabrics with a 'scrappy', improvised look. 

The individual rectangles are pieced, then each has a heart sewn to it. The rectangles are joined (after much deliberation about the layout!), then the top is sandwiched with a wadding and backing layer before quilting begins, using embroidery threads for added touches of colour. I added some Czechoslovakian matte glass beads in three places, to add a further layer of interest. A binding is added, along with a hanging sleeve on the reverse, and finally, my maker's label.

This piece is available for sale in my etsy shop

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Kielder Water Walk

We had a pleasant walk by the shore of Kielder Water today, starting from the Hawkhope car park.

 Spiny puff balls.

We saw several nesting sites of Collete bees, which were interesting to watch. (They are smaller than honey bees). They make burrows in sandy soil and this species feeds on heather. They were buzzing all over the sandy soil at the entrance to their burrows in large numbers. We thought it was a swarm to begin with, but they were just going about their usual business.

Lunch was at Falstone Old School Café. Rob had the vegetarian cooked breakfast and a slice of coffee cake. I had a jacket potato with cheese and salad. With two Americano coffees the bill came to a very reasonable £16. The food was good and the café is a nice, light and airy place to sit with its high ceiling, and it has craft cabinets to browse. And it is dog-friendly. Recommended!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Gracefield Arts Centre

Rob and I had a trip to Dumfries today, walking Brock around the river walk before heading to the Gracefield Arts Centre for lunch and to see the exhibition Past and Present - A Celebration of the Dumfries and Galloway Fine Arts Society, which is on until 19 August 2017.

Here are some of my favourite artworks (apologies in advance for the reflections in the glass!):-

Jessie M King, If All The Carts Were Painted

I love the way she draws simplified flowers and buildings in a light and airy colour palette - very pretty. Her writing font is really lovely (seen at the bottom of the main image - click for a larger version).

Samuel John Peploe, Still Life With Fruit

I like the dark backgrounds/outlining, and his work reminds me of Cézanne's.

Alexander Robb, Still Life

A lovely colour palette, of greens, browns, and ochre. The highlights and range of tones, as well as the subject and composition, I feel, make this so successful.

John Crolla, Two Magpies

Mixed media artwork by this Lockerbie-based artist, who also taught art to many in the region, and was a past president of The Society.

Hazel Campbell, Grey Glenkens Landscape

This gouache and ink artwork could have been painted on a day like today! Very subdued colours and a stark winter landscape. I particularly like the mark making in this piece: spiky, inked lines for the twigs and broad, watery brush strokes for the fields.

The craft shop has a very good range of cards and gifts, and the cafe does a nice cup of coffee and sandwich - always an interesting place to visit.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Over the years, I must have taken hundreds of sunset photographs.

Here are a few of my favourites:-

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Wildflowers at Talkin Tarn

Our dog walk today was at Talkin Tarn in Cumbria. The wildflowers were at their peak.

This shows a bird-watching hide.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Gooseberry Chutney 2017

I decided to use most of this year's crop of gooseberries from our single bush, to make chutney. I adapted a recipe from the Waitrose magazine. I made a double quantity and used raisins instead of dates, and distilled white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.

I really recommend this recipe: it has just the right amount of spice, and the colour (when made with red gooseberries) is beautiful. You are supposed to leave it to mature for a month, but I find it perfectly edible immediately!


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