Tuesday, 22 April 2008

My first commission

South Dock viewed from North Dock. Watercolour, April 08
I was out on a walk with the kids in North Dock when I was told I had to paint the piles of sand and cement stored on the keys of South Dock. I had no choice in the matter, I had to paint it. So I did, and here's the result.
While I was painting I realised there was a man in one of the houses behind me on the dock watching birds through binoculars. After some gesticulation I realised he was interested in what i was doing, so, from a distance of about 20 feet he peered at my small painting through his bins. It's a rather rubbishy painting, as watercolours go, but the kids were impressed and I was rewarded with kisses and cuddles. They're my biggest fans, apart from my dad.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

In case you hadn't noticed....

feet of Rebecca
I've been away, visiting my big sister in Cheshire.

Now I'm back I need to find my feet; what with returning to work after the delayed Easter break and getting the kids back into the school routine. I hope to be drawing, painting and posting regularly soon. Oh, and if anyone has seen my feet, please let me know as I do need them. Thanks.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

.... Oaks......

These were done using a variety of charcoal sticks.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Out in the corner of my big-sister's garden is a lovely old oak tree. It attracts nuthatches, bluetits, jays, woodpigeons, squirrels, local cats, and last winter a toad hibernated under it.

Mel asked me what is it with me and sketching trees. I love the silhouettes they make. Maybe I need new glasses but when I first see a tree, more often than not I see it as a paper cut out against the sky. Not until I walk around a tree do I get a feeling for the way it fills a three-dimensional space. And when I draw a tree I start at the bottom of the trunk and follow it as it grows up and out. If loose the line, I'll start back down at the bottom again.
This is the first charcoal drawing I did last night, and it's pretty tight compared to the ones I've been drawing this morning. I'm really falling in love with charcoal, and I think it's funky to draw a tree using something made out of a tree.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Painting, but is it art?

I'm visiting my big sister for the Easter Hols, and though I haven't had a chance to do any sketching, I have been painting.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Fluffy blue skies

Here are some of the quick, and I mean less than a minute each, sketches I did of the clouds over the kids school yesterday.

I'm off work today because my daughter has vomited last night and this morning too. She's pretty okay in herself, but I can't send her to the childminder's or nursery after two bouts.

I'm reading more about lino printing, and getting ideas for some pyracantha prints.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Quink Ink

I know, more pyracantha studies. But what else am I meant to draw at 7am when I manage to grab 20 minutes while the kids are eating breakfast? And yes, that is a bit of green you can see there. All the way on the drive into work I was thinking about using inks on an impervious surface to depict the back lit leaves. I want to make the branches more opaque, with more texture and modelling. This project has legs.

Then, again grabbing about 20 minutes after work before getting the kids, I did these two colour studies at Doxford Park. I especially like the one on the left, and they work upside down too!

Doxford Park

Beech, watercolour in Moleskine
I have been yearning to work on the trees in ink, but I forgot to bring them so I used watercolour instead. However, I really liked teasing the colours out of what, at first, just looked like dark brown. Again, I've been blind all these years.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


I have a dozen that visit my garden. It was one of the birds I first ID'd when I took up birdwatching a couple of years ago. They were perching on top of the lampposts in North Dock, Roker, and I was amazed that something so beautiful could have been on my doorstep all these years. For an artist I'm pretty unobservant at times.

That was it, I was hooked. So now I'm an artist, and a twitcher.
My Dad also has goldfinches visiting his garden at Ballaugh, and the other day we were both stood at our respective kitchen windows, talking to each other about which birds were feeding at the time. Goldfinch, watercolour, March 08Because he seemed so excited about the goldfinches, and because I love him so much, I thought I'd paint this for him. I'll pop it in the post to you in Eire later this week, I promise Dad.

Death Valley, Northumberland

tree, in charcoal and rainwater
gorge, in watercolour, rainwater and riverwater
There's a place we go for walks, driving west from Sunderland towards Carlisle. It's a secret place of ours, a gorge with a thundering river, deciduous and evergreen trees, damp ferns, blackberries and raspberries and hazelnut trees, squirrels, pheasants, foxes, voles, ducks, and hundreds of birds. We call it Death Valley, because it's so little visited by creatures who walk upright on two legs that we often see nature at work, and there are no park keepers to clear away evidence of the cycle of life. We love it there, and so do our children, and so did our dog, May, who we miss terribly whenever we visit there. May's four-paw-drive was essential for her scrambling up steep moss-clad slopes, over rocks, and in and out of the river there.
Over the weekend we found ourselves there, in the mizzle and wind. The kids didn't mind the poor weather, wrapped in scarfs and hats and gloves. While they skimmed stones and built lost-causeways in the river I paused to do these studies.
I never knew charcoal changed character so much on a page covered in rain.
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