Monday, 14 February 2011

Little Blue Houses

I thought it was about time i did an art post. To be honest i've not had much opportunity to get into my art room recently because we have major plumbing work going on, part of which is having a new boiler an extra radiator in the shop (near the till so i'll be warm - the log burner's at the other end of the shop) and a new gorgeous en-suite bathroom. The plumbers will be here for another two-three weeks at least so I can't promise that i'll be able to do much else until then.
Also the "art studio" or "work-room" needs a bit of attention and is going to be re-organised so both Gavin and I can work in there. The plan is to have all storage space for art materials against the walls (but this will only be halfway up the wall, providing extra drying space for various art pieces) and we want a huge work table in the middle of the room that we can both use. So, with the heating sorted i/we should have a nice cosy room to create in.
Anyway, back to art. These are stacks of watercolour boards i bought recently (about 30 of them). I had an idea to do some sets of art in "series". I decided on a series of five each of different things (...stay with me on this...) The first batch (which are the only ones i've done so far) are called "Little Blue Houses" and i thought i'd share the process of creating them with you all. The plan is to make some short video films for this, but whilst the house is undergoing so much re-organisation it's impossible to contemplate that, i bet the minute the camera was set up the plumber would want it moved to get under a floorboard.
So...this is how "Little Blue Houses" started out "watercolour boards" as said. I have a large supply of old (some of it very old) ephemera specifically to use in my art. I used the originals for these, which i don't always do, they were letters dated 1906 from a vicar near Craven Arms buying a house (or vicarage), i love how delicate the paper is and whilst I don't often use the original copies as i said, sometimes the paper is so wispery thin and delicate i think it's a good way to preserve it. I glued these old letters to the watercolour boards with gel medium and let it dry.

I love the way the brown aged tones come throughI had an idea that each house was to be on a hill, so i used old wall paper scraps to represent this (there are some fab decorative pieces around) and I glued the said "hill" on to each board and put in some background colour. I started with the creamy colour you see here, it's "Golden's" heavy body "Titanium Buff" acrylic, i don't use a paintbrush for this part, just squirt the paint straight onto the board and move it around with my fingers. Sometimes i use an old bank card to move it around or anything that can give that random effect, i have a vinyl roller which works too, but when using that i prefer to put down other colours and just roll over it all the effect can be amazing. Titanium Buff mixes well with other colours too so it's good to start with.

I then added some shades of pale blues, i'm never precise or fussy about the shades of colours, i mostly just pick whatever is nearest, pale greens work well too. These are mostly the background colours, but sometimes if a background comes out well i'll just stick with it and not add further colours. is the case with most of these, but for the sake of variety i added some purple and orange to two of them.

I decided not to paint over the wallpaper samples on this occasion as i thought they were decorative enough for what i wanted, however i sometimes do. I paint a colour and rub it back and then paint another colour etc, until the image shows through or at least a little of the initial colour, especially if the design is interesting.

I used some old book pages to make house shapes, i have loads of these thick books which i picked up from Hay on Wye years ago, the words are a facsimilie of hand writing and it works well. The books are written in french and are full of surnames, which i thought was appropriate for houses. I glued the various house shapes onto the boards and let them dry.

then i painted the houses, blue of course.

Added a flower and a bird and outlined windows and doors with a charcoal pencil.

All i have to do now is locate, amongst the chaos, my fixative spray. I don't normally use this but having used charcoal for detail i can't seal them unless i do as the charcoal comes off, and then find some suitable narrative to go on them and number the houses and use a little gold ink here and there. I'll show you the finished pieces in my next post by which time i'll have, hopefully, found the fixative spray.
LIZZIE poor darling Lizzie and her injured tail. This photo was taken the day after the accident, she was still groggy from the anaesthetic!! she's since had to go back to the vets and have a bigger collar put on because this one was too wide and she could reach her tail and kept trying to pull the stitches out.

However, she's a lot brighter these days, but looks funny, every day she manages to up-end her water bowl, as she lifts her head the lip of the collar catches on the rim of the bowl and it goes everywhere. Another week and she'll be back to normal. apart from the shaved tail that is.
I'm so excited (and nervous) that my article is due to be published in the March/April issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, iit's due out on the 8th March. As well as the main feature i was also asked to contribute to the homework page and these are the images i sent them. I won't tell you what it's about until the issue is out, they'll only use one of these images though.
We're busy trying to organise an evening at Indigo Moon to celebrate the article being published. I thought i'd do an exhibition of some of my other work, i'm a little nervous about it as i've not done an exhibition before, but we all have to start somewhere i guess. I've had so many good wishes, support, kindness and encouragement from so many people to do it i thought it was the best next step.
The shop continues to do well, January and February have been quiet (but some days have been a lot busier than expected). We missed the trade show last Monday but are managing with current suppliers, especially with jewellery and scarves, which seem to fly out the door as soon as they're delivered. Mind you i do have some nice lightweight spring and summer scarves in at he moment and i think people are so fed up with the cold it's almost as if they buy them to encourage the warmer weather!!!! Anyway, they're selling like mad, Gav and I have some fabulous ideas between us and just need some time to get organised with them.
For those who have been asking, the rewedding plans are going along splendidly, i finally bought my shoes yesterday in Shrewsbury, which is great because i'd almost given up hope of finding any i liked. It's all so exciting and special.
Sometimes life just takes over, it's like a whirlwind around you and before you know it time has passed you by and all the things you wanted to do and/or planned have slipped away. As you get older i think you're more aware of this, i know it sounds morbid, but never in my life has a year or two gone by and felt like five minutes. The greatest thing about it all is that it's enjoyable and thats why it's going so quickly i guess. People ask me every day how the shop is going, how business is in Montgomery etc. Today i chatted away to a lady who asked the same question and my answer was "well, we'll never be millionaires" but i added that "having gone out at 8.30am this morning to quickly walk the dog in the horrible rain and cold i came back, sat in my lovely kitchen and enjoyed a fresh coffee, then pottered around the shop for an hour making sure everything had price labels on and was straight and tidy and then casually opened up at 10.00am, and that to not have had to drive off anywhere in the horrible weather and work for other people was better" and she said "well you're already a millionaire then aren't you darling?".

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Sorry, i couldn't make Wednesday, so Thursday will have to do this week! Sorry for the poor photo's though.
Again, this is my temporary desk, my other, proper desk, has had to be moved again for plumbing reasons! so, for today at least, this is my workdesk which is the shop counter. You might be able to see my watercolour pencils on the right and in there somewhere is my amazing water brush, full of water and some sketchbooks on the left where i've been designing collage elements. ...and i've been making valentine cards (as well as doing the East of India order, you can see the catalogue here), we don't have any in the shop and as i'd been asked a couple of times for them I thought i'd make a few.
This is what they looked like in the card display stand, little ceramic hangers with hearts and the words love on them - i tied pretty little organza ribbon bows to them and wrapped them in the soap cellophane we have in the shop.
I had a nice surprise this week when Jo (aka twiglet) visited with a present for me, this lovely book, she found at a car boot and thought i might like it for backgrounds in my art - she's so lovely and thoughtful, it's always so nice to see her, she brought me Annie's (aka Wipso) poppy picture for the shop...of which i've already had so many admirers, not sold yet though Annie!.
...and these...lovely "Sweet Nothings", gorgeous little brooches covered in vintage fabric and made by my niece, Megan. I put them in the shop today and they look fabulous. I love her packaging design.

This is my Valentine window design. Huge hanging hearts and a romantic breakfast tray.

I love this gorgeous jug bought from the last auction so much... i'm keeping it for myself Mwaaaaaahhhhhh poor, poor little Lizzie, she's been at the vets all day today having an operation to have the tip of her tail removed....I feel so bad....i jammed it in the door (not on purpose) and it was cut so badly they had to remove the end!!!! There was blood everywhere, i can't show you the wound it's too horrific to contemplate. She's still groggy from the anaesthetic and has one of those collars on, she's very grumpy.

I'm not feeling very well either, i've caught Nicci's snuffly cold she had on the weekend. As Gavin wasn't well on Monday we didn't get to the trade show so i decided to drive Nicci home to South Wales, and being in the car with her for that long was enough for the germs to jump me. The journey took ages as the Hereford to Abergavenny road was closed and i had to detour over to Ross on Wye. Poor Nicci had a problem with her cat when we got there and i stayed longer than i intented, and not wanting to be hampered on the journey back by a closed road i decided to drive back over the mountain road via Builth and llandrindod, it was very dark and creepy, but i got home safely in the time for tea too

The wedding plans are all going well i'm glad to say, but so stressful. We've now booked our flight which is another thing off the list.

I really do have some art to blog about i'm just finishing off a few things and will get them on here as soon as they're done.

Now I'm off to give Lizzie Wizzie a nice big cwtch and might even take her out for a quick walk. Speak to you soon.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I can't believe Wednesday's come around again, seems like only yesterday i took my last photo .....
....this is my real workdesk today. I know it's a mess and i'd like to say it's not usually like this, but it is! I love the mess i work better.
A close up of what i've been working on this week, although it's turned out nothing like i wanted it to, the background colour was meant to be more of a yellowy/gold colour.
A close ups of my Golden paints, of which i couldn't manage without, i love these paints, the colours are amazing, and there are so many to choose from, these are always on my desk

Also on my desk a fab box of old watches and some boxes of old watch faces, Gav got these for me from an auction, great for steampunk!

These are on my sewing table, which is separate from my painting workdesk, these are the needle felted christmas decorations i made for my teaching workshopI did at the Ladies Group in November.

also on my desk, a valentime matchbox shrine, although I made this a while ago.

And these are old vintage books, also kept on my workdesk, i bought them from an auction last year for about £5 (they were in a box with loads of others), to use in my artwork!
Well...that was the intention anyway....but i was recently reading through the January copy of Homes and Antiques and there was a feature on collecting old books, mainly those about Household management, like Mrs Beetons etc....and there on the page was a copy of a book called "the book of Hints and Wrinkles" which is about the fourth blue book down on this pile!!! H&A say it's available from an antique store for £45 that's just one - here are eight of the set and i have another seven somewhere! I was so excited. I bought them for the gorgeous little diagrams in them to use in the background of my collages! Mind you the one in the magazine had a red cover and not blue, but other than that they're exactly the same. Better not cut them up i guess.
Gav's Works desk!!!!! ......... blimey thought mine was a mess.

Hope you're all having a fab wednesday, if you feel like showing off whats on your work desk pop on over to Julia's blog and/or catch up with all the other desks, i'm off there now.