Friday, 27 November 2015

Is art for everyone?

I particularly liked Richard Branson's blog post this week,  Art is for everyone.
He has such a positive attitude and inspires you to 'just go for it'.
He drew a simple little self portrait and, with just a few lines, had captured his likeness so well.

Last week I was drawing the bust of an African woman in class - and yesterday I continued on with it. We have two hours and it takes me half an hour to settle in to it. My head is scatty and maybe if I could concentrate more on what my tutor is saying it would help!

I really think some people are born with a real talent for art, they're gifted.
Others, like me, just like to 'go for it' even though we may never be like Picasso.

My drawing is overworked, I would say, but I am just a beginner.  Some of this is also done at home, from a photo, and that's not ideal.
To me, the shading is all looking dark and much the same all over. I didn't mind the look of the headdress so much. Anyway, here she is.

last week

this week

 Back to the drawing board, methinks!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Fact or Fiction?

My trip to the library the other night got me thinking.  I almost always choose factual books. I can't get in to fiction. It's not that I don't want to, but I have this feeling of guilt if I sit down to read a book for any length of time. Instead I should be up and doing something.
On the other hand, my husband can sit on the sofa reading for hours, and doesn't seem to feel one bit guilty that he hasn't talked to me all evening!
When he starts reading a book he can't put it down. Whereas the books I read, they can be dipped in and out of anytime.
Books are great for keeping you occupied but they can be anti - social too!
I'm looking forward to reading my books. My husband said, "Why is your pile of books always heavier than mine?"

Here are a few of the reasons why I chose them.

  1. The Art of Mindful Walking by Adam Ford.  Because I've always loved walking. My mum tells me I always wanted to walk, while my sister, who is four years older than me, would climb in to my pushchair at any opportunity. I don't know what the book is about and doesn't that word 'mindful' seem to be cropping up all over the place? I think it means that when you're out walking you should be mindful of all the things that can trip you up.  On the road and in life.
  2. Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. Because I like cooking but I don't like recipes that have great long lists of ingredients ( I'm thinking Jamie Oliver here). Rachel cooks in her tiny Paris apartment with few ingredients.. I first saw her on BBC2 in 'The Little Paris Kitchen'. What's more - she has an arty side to her and is a graduate of Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design in London. 
  3. the modern preserver by kylee newton. Because I grew up in a country village and we had a garden where my mum and dad grew fruit and veg and preserving was a way of life.  I love making chutneys and pickles. My husband hates the smell of boiling vinegar with a vengeance, see here, so for now I've given up making chutney and just read the recipes and make jam instead.
  4. Compendium of Drawing Techniques by Donna Krizek.  Because I wanted to learn the basics of drawing - what pencils to use, or how to draw a line or even hold a pencil. I didn't know there was more than one way.
  5. Drawing Nature by Agathe Ravet-Havermans. Because she is a botanical illustrator and her drawings of nature are exquisite. I want to be able to draw like that!
  6. Handmade Interiors, a DK book. Because I've got a bare window that's been waiting ages for a new set of curtains.
  7. The Fundamentals of Drawing Still Life by Barrington Barber. Because he has a brilliant name and for last Thursdays drawing class the scary subject was the bust of an African woman. I need inspiration.

                              Unfortunately the photo I took is blurred, and so is my mind.
                                       Here's my drawing - to be continued next week.

Does her cheek look like a breast and her mouth a nipple?!  Who's still here?
What do you like, fact or fiction?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Basket of cyclamen.

The dreaded basket that went walkabout the week before last was back at my drawing class last Thursday.
It had taken on a new appearance.
Sadly, some flowers had died and some were droopy.

This was my un-finished drawing.

We asked our tutor to demonstrate how she would go about drawing the basket and, starting with an oval shape and very light pencil marks she mapped out her drawing. It was quite mesmerising, watching and listening to someone as skilled as her putting in the different shapes, shading, making marks and chatting about life in general as the drawing gradually formed. 
More than an hour had gone by before we knew it, but it was a worthwhile hour and I learnt a lot and also have a lot to learn. When I look at my drawing I can see some of the things that are wrong with it, but I don't have enough (or any) experience to know all that is wrong with it or how to correct it.
 I wish I did, it's frustrating!
Anyway, after watching the tutor, I attacked the basket again. We're all a bit scared of it. 

As we ran out of time at class I worked on my drawing at home and tried to remember all the things I had been taught. I found the leaves difficult, working from my photo wasn't ideal, but I persevered and here's the finished result below.  Another challenge awaits tomorrow.
Here's someone's drawing and work I admire. I'd like to get some drawing in to my stitching and that's one of the reasons I signed up for this class.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Oxford Island.

A shopping trip to Rushmere Shopping Centre on Saturday, then a stop off at Oxford Island.
I was reluctant to get out of the car.  Do we have to?  It was wet.  Can you see Lough Neagh?

Looking the other way towards the Discovery Centre and the berries were dripping wet. 

The weather was improving  a bit.


The wet afternoon was brightening up. This wall mural was amazing.

The texture of the wall made the  butterflies and bees look almost real.

I loved the way the daisies had been painted over this door. Why don't we paint our houses like this?!

Too wet for a picnic.

Maybe it will be dry in the woodland, under the canopy of trees. 


Oops! No, not Santa in the hide, he's everywhere at the moment!

Can't see many birds.

Never mind, it was worth getting out of the car despite the wet weather.
There's plenty to see at Oxford Island.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Not so Simple Sketching.

 I bought this old book for £1.50, published 1958.

Sketching may have been simple to L.A. Doust, but it's a challenge to me! 

This was the subject, the week before last, at my drawing class. A basket of cyclamen. 
 l looked at it and thought to myself, how am I ever going to draw that, where do I begin?
 But somehow, once I started I produced something that resembled a basket. 
There's something not right about it and I haven't figured out what it is yet. 
I'd hoped to continue last Thursday but the basket went walkabout.

Instead, my tutor brought in this Aloe in a pot to scare me off drawing even more.
I feel happier with a pencil in my hand, but we are encouraged to use charcoal and I wanted to try it.
 I was given a buff coloured page to draw on.
 But where to begin, I didn't have a clue and I did have a bit of a panic. 
 Anyway, I got started and this was my view of the Aloe plant.

My drawing below after two hours of concentration.
I used charcoal and some shading pastels. 
My tutor talks about dark tones, mid-tones, light tones, but it's all Double Dutch to me.

I was putting in the detail long before I'd done the basics.
I took a photo of the plant so I could finish my drawing at home.
Once I looked at it more closely I began to understand. I could see the dark and light, the reflections in the pot -  but that didn't help me in knowing how to put them in to my drawing.
I wore away my rubber and this is how my drawing looks now.

I needed a new rubber after all that rubbing out and decided we would go in to Belfast at the weekend and have a look in the art shop, Bradbury Graphics, now called 'Bradbury Art' . It was nothing like the shop I remember.
 Then we went to North Street as I'd seen on the internet that there's an art shop there called Ink Monkey. The shutters were down, 2pm closing on a Saturday.
 I was pleased to see the second hand bookshop was still there, but it wasn't as I remembered it either.
I used to pick up some good craft books there.  The first book I bought when I was getting interested in creative embroidery was from there, 'Creative Wall - Hangings & Panels by Audrey Babington.
Now on the shelves it's mostly cross stitch books. I love these bird sketches in my new book.

On the way back to the car we passed St Anne's Cathedral bathed in gold.
Now wouldn't I like the skill to draw that!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


I went to see the parade and the fireworks in Derry this Halloween. The 'grandwains' dressed up as Lego characters. It was buzzing, mad, grand, flat to the mat, the craic was 90, Happy Days.  Just some of the colloquialisms I hear when I'm up there.

The weather was gorgeous and the next day we went for a walk in the woods close to where my son lives.

The kids had fun on a swing.

The light was perfect for photos. I took a close up of the bark.

I thought the bark might make a good subject for practising my drawing. I've been going to a drawing class for 5 weeks now and it's challenging. When I signed up for the class I assumed I'd be starting from scratch.
It's not quite like that because, although I'm a beginner, some of the class have experience.
So I'm just getting on with it. Looking. Listening. Learning.

We went for a walk on the beach at Kinnagoe where I collected some shells.

Then I drew them for this week's homework.