Friday, January 28, 2011

Animal Antics And Interesting Art And Craft

I have had a very busy week this week and therefore haven't achieved as much as I would have liked. I start the week with grand plans and 80% of them come to nothing. At the end of the week I am quite glad to have achieved 20%. How our goals change when the circumstances alter.

This is a delicate little pen and ink called Birds In A Strange Garden... and here is a detail from it

Some of you may remember me starting this scraperboard of Abby back in July here. I haven't made as much progress as I would have liked, but I am almost afraid to touch it for fear of ruining hours of work. I must get it finished though. It is a slow, painstaking process but I am sure I will get her day.

I thought I would include this photo although it is not good due to the distance but we thought it was very amusing to see these horses all with their backs to the hedge as if they are getting ready to start a race. I do have another photo where another horse joins them in the same position. I suppose they must have had some protection from the biting wind.

Below is the work of English artist/printmaker Angela Harding. Her work is immensely popular and I have several greetings cards with her images on. Needless to say I don't send them to anyone. Angela is from the Midlands and is inspired by nature, flora and fauna. Birds are a recurring theme in her work and very beautifully stylised - always the best way. There is lots to see of Angela's work on her website here and also on the Serena Hall Gallery site here.

Black Bird And Berry Print

Hare, Field And Stream

There is a local community book area near to where I live. People bring in books and magazines and volunteers sort them and shelve them and keep things tidy. It is actually housed in a covered yard area but gates are shut at night to prevent vandalism. The books and mags are dirt cheap but you can pick up some great old books sometimes. I found this early copy of Far From The Madding Crowd and was really taken by the cover. It only cost me 50p but I think it was worth it for this lovely Lola Fielding illustration. It looks like woodcut or maybe scraperboard as a lot of book illustrations are done on this medium. Anyway I have tidied it up a bit in Photoshop to take out most of the crease lines and I am quite pleased with the result.

Here are a few of the hundreds of sheep photos I have taken over the past few months. I cannot resist photographing sheep. There is just something about them that fascinates me.

Below is a rather handsome Jacob I saw recently. A spot of sunshine works wonders.

This poor little lady looks like she has been involved in an explosion in a poo factory. I think this is the sort of fleece you get if you stand too close to a tractor revving in a very muddy field...hmm.

This one is brave to stare. Mostly they turn and run when they see me approaching. I have more photos of sheeps' bottoms than anyone else in the country.

These gorgeous and cleverly detailed whimsical creatures are the creations of American jeweller and artist Robin Wade. She believes in recycling and repurposing as much as possible and uses silver, typewriter keys, buttons and all sorts to create her angels. I love their names and the titles she gives her pieces. You can find Robin's little angels, and other pieces, in her Etsy shop here and also on her website here, where she also displays her exquisitely painted little faces. A very talented lady.

This was the scene I thought would make a lovely photo on our geocache walk last week....

but who are these two and what on earth are they up to? Well we thought a cache might be hidden inside the footpath sign (they sometimes are), but the only way to get to it was double human height. Luckily no one happened to pass at the time or they may have been a bit of explaining to do. I didn't offer to look as I am not good with heights...haha and no, it was hidden in a totally different place.

My eye was caught by these amazing patterns on the inside of bark and I had to stop for a photo. At first glance they looked a bit like tooled leather but on closer inspection they turned out to be the damage created by the elm bark beetles and the fungus spread by them which wrecked such havoc on British trees from the 1960's onwards. The sad thing is that this damage is recent. The elm bark beetle is still here and still destroying elm trees. When the trees reach a certain height they fall prey to the fungus spread by the beetles. There is lots of elm in the hedgerows of the countryside and it remains as long as it doesn't grow into a tree.

Natalia Moroz is a wonderful printmaker with a well deserved international reputation. She has a fantastic sense of graphic style, line and colour. She studied graphic design and illustration in Uzbekistan but now resides in the USA. She has a lovely website here with a huge number of very varied artworks. She is married to another artist who also creates jewellery and has a young son who is a very competent linocut artist, so there are three websites in one to browse. You can find her Flickr site here and her Etsy shop here where she sells her and her son's prints and her husband's jewellery. What a creative family.

Along The Bridges And Canals

Winter Branches

Bird Catching


Scent Of Lilac

Friday, January 21, 2011

Umbellifer Tree And Rusty Barbed Wire

We had a wonderful geocaching walk on Sunday, literally uphill and down dale again. One path was muddy, slippery and as near vertical as anything. I almost needed oxygen at the top but coming down would have been much worse. I took lots of beautiful pictures including the dinkiest empty bird's nest my brother discovered. I have been bemoaning the fact that all the nests are high up and difficult to photograph but this one was hidden in the middle of a tree and was quite low. I have a fascination for birds' nests. I just think their construction is totally amazing and if I could find more I would have lots of photos of them to show you. As it is there is just this one so I will show you it next week. I think I can feel a bird's nest drawing coming on....!

This is a lovely song by the multi-talented Moya Brennan -Tell Me Now What You See

I knew all my multitude of umbellifer photos would come in useful as reference material. This is a very colourful version but it was fun to draw. This is a pen and ink drawing which has been digitally coloured. It is called The Farmer's Wife and she is wearing a paper hat which is my latest "thing".

You can see the paper hat in more detail here.

This little quirky drawing is called Protection.


It recently came to the country's notice that the Government is planning on doing nasty things to our heritage behind our backs. They are planning to sell off our forests to the highest bidders. Once they have gone they will never return. We all need to help stop this from happening by signing this online petition asap. You can go here to sign: Save Our Forests Petition

Has anyone bought the new Making magazine? It has only recently started and although I have missed a couple of issues I will get it regularly from now on. It is about making crafty/arty things and the features are of a really good standard with excellent and interesting photography. They have interviews with crafters like Kaffe Fassett etc, and a Lust List of items we would all like to own. Worth having a browse when you are next in Smiths.

I am sure I am not the only one who loves old tangled, rusty barbed wire on bleached wooden fence posts. I find the textures of the old wood and the colours of the rusty wire irresistible. I must admit I have a small but growing collection of such things. It has to be rusty. New wire is not interesting in the least. It is the altered and decaying aspect of it that I am interested in. Nutty I know!

If you admire unique jewellery you will love Sara Lloyd-Morris's work. She has wonderful hares and other themed jewellery. I absolutely adore this seaweed necklace with a beautiful starfish tucked into it. Sara lives and works in Wales and has been a jeweller for very many years. She has a great website here. If you look under the jewellery themes you will find the hares.

I found a lovely churchyard angel on a walk recently. I suppose technically she isn't an angel because she is wingless but she looks like one to me anyway. It never ceases to amaze me that such beautiful sculptures reside in our churchyards. This young girl's face is so sad and poignant it makes you wonder who was the model and if she had lost someone dear to her or whether the sculptor just used his imagination. I am using the photo below on my desktop at the moment.

I think this mixed media piece by Rachel Ricketts is really sweet. It is called Fraser 3. You can see more of her sculptural work here at FountainFineArt. If you click on the archive at the bottom of the page it will take you to some past work.

This is one of the nicest chicken linocuts I have seen. It is called Sophie's Chickens and is by the artist/printmaker Jenny Crocker.

Jiri Borsky was born in Czechoslovakia and then studied in Prague. He eventually emigrated to England and now works full time as an artist and exhibits widely. He has been inspired by European medieval painters and his work definitely has a reminiscent stylised look. I love the amazing texture he employs in his work. He has a very comprehensive website here with lots to browse.

Fruit Picking

Modern Art Lovers

Harbour Lovers


Hair Wash

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back to Drypoint Etching

Is anyone else amazed that we are halfway through January already? Scary!

I haven't done a collage for ages and I had two cute pen and ink birds that did not like the background I put them into one little bit. I decided to cut them out and give them one more suited to their quirkiness. I think they much prefer being on this boat and sailing off into the sunset together.

If you cannot read the text the top one says: from quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered ends, there's nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends. The banner on the boat reads: the wing of friendship never moults a feather.

I decided to pull the wraps off my etching press at long last and produce some drypoints. It is a very addictive process with some good and some not so good results. I have the same problems with inking that I have with linocuts. The actual etching is easy by comparison. The bird carrying heart is on copper and the others are on perspex. A lot of people don't like hand coloured drypoints but I really like the effect. I have lots of ideas for new drypoints so there are more to come.

The Sun At My Back Drypoint

Bird Carrying Heart drypoint etching

White Goose Etching

I found an interesting site on the internet dated from 2009 about printmaking at the Sidney Nolan Trust. A group of artists got together with the public and made some huge prints which they printed using a steamroller. You can see the gallery photos here. Below is a wonderful print by Pam Whitehead, one of the participating artists, in which she repeats the block - absolutely gorgeous work. This would be a real talking point given prime position in someone's sitting room.

Pam Whitehead - Birds In Motion

These lovely illustrative bird ceramics are by artist Emily Jones. I love her whimsical depictions and the colours she uses. You can see other work by Emily on her website here. Apparently many years ago she used to be the "Nimble" girl in the adverts about Nimble bread. I remember those...!

We had a wonderful geocaching walk last weekend. The weather was very cold but the skies brilliantly clear. Great weather for photography. The set of photos below shows our walk as we progressed through the day to the semi darkness when we completed it. It was extremely tiring as all hills and dales, the hills being higher than the dales were deep for some strange reason. No I cannot understand it either. The last photo shows the muddy fields post snow and rain. No we didn't go through those particular fields but we did manage to find ones equally claggy. My poor boots will never recover. Plenty of sheep around but none in distress this time I am relieved to say.

I found a wonderful book on Art Quilts during one of my London forays in the old year. It is compliled by Lark Books and is crammed full of the most amazing pictorial quilts. Every one of them is award worthy but the four below are among my uber favourites. The art of the quilt maker is akin to painting with fabric and often with as much detail. The only thing that would be better would be to see them in person to appreciate the textures and the stitching - gorgeous.

Gabrielle Paquin - Scarlet Ibis Quilt

Jan Swearington - The Sea Dream Quilt

Betty Busby - Silverlight

Nancy B Dickey - Windswept

I love Michael Kidd's painting for several reasons; they are exquisitely designed and detailed, they have a lovely, fresh and modern appearance and they are intensely colourful. He uses realism but with a big chunk of stylisation and it gives the appearance that the places are not quite of this world. They are too perfect to be on planet Earth. I really enjoy that effect. Michael is a British artist who was born in London and studied in the late 60s. He has turned his hand to many things but came back to painting in the early 80s. You can find more of his intriguing work on his website here and also more if you enter his name into a search engine.

Chateau Latour, Bordeaux

Garden Of Silly Hats

Autumn, Chateau Pichon

White Garden, Sissinghurst