Sunday, 16 December 2012

From My Sketch Book

It seems ages since I posted at Sunday Sketches. I have been busy getting my website ready for uploading, which I hope to do in the first couple of weeks of January. Also I have downloaded the software from Blurb and started on my children's book Mystery in Arcadia. I've got the hang of it now, but realise that I need to do more illustrations. Seeing the layout before you, gives you a better idea of what is needed.

Anyways, I decided to show you all a few pages from my sketch books. I have one for flowers from my garden, and another one for my walks in the local countryside.

From my garden is a foxglove (watercolour), I did this a couple of weeks ago. I am glad I did it then, as the weather is so hot this last week that all the flowers are fading. The grass is already brown usually that doesn't happen till mid January.

From the other sketchbook are sketches of mice at the local reserve. If you sit really quiet in the long grass in the late afternoon they come and play. I am drawing mice as I have an idea for a picture book about a gang of mice.
Also I get plenty of opportunity to study them as two of my cats, Bro and Lucy often present them to me as gifts!

Blessings to everyone, and have a great holiday season.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Paint Party Friday

This week I have been getting to grips with acrylics, one of the goals I had set for this year. I want to change from oils to acrylics as I have problems with oil paints (allergies), my hands swell up and I get a rash on my knuckles – not pleasant. I know I should wear gloves but I like to get my hands in amongst the paint!

A perfect opportunity came up when a friend asked for a painting of some of the flowers in her garden. As I want to give the painting as a gift for Christmas, it had to be acrylics, so I bit the bullet, and in more ways than one, she likes the classical style of painting, 'none of this modern stuff please!' A hard ask for me, but as she is a lovely lady and has been so kind to me, I wanted to give her something she would love.

I have to say I really enjoyed myself, do you know the feeling when you are painting and you can't believe it is going so well, it is almost like someone is guiding your hand. Then when you have finished it you look at it and think did I do that?

And today I went to a second hand store and found a perfect frame the right size and all. I just need to rub some gilding on the frame and give it a wax and it is ready to go. Maybe I have found a new path?

Have a Happy PPF everybody, and may your build up to Christmas be smooth and joyful.

Linking to Paint Party Friday

Saturday, 8 December 2012

PPF and FFF - Calm in the Storm

The challenge 5 for Fall, Fearless and Fly. The prompts were:
Headline Prompt:  Lifelong Fan:  What or who have you consistently valued or looked up to in your life?  What lessons have you learned from people you admire?
Color Prompt:  Your favorite color now or from childhood or both!
Quote Prompt: "Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator; but among those whom I love, I can:  all of them make me laugh."  W.H.Auden
Today, I am using the first two prompts. The colours in this piece are purple, a colour I have like all my life and red which is a new found favourite (since the second prompt when we were asked to use a colour we least liked)
 I struggled with this as I do not have a person that I have admired throughout my life, I have admired people for periods of time and something then comes up to show me, they are a mess just like me. I don't stop liking them, but, they are no longer on that pedestal that I had placed them. So it shows something about me, rather than them. I am now very careful not to do that anymore! So I started thinking about qualities of the people I admire, Humour was high up there. But humour can sometimes be very cruel.

Time was ticking by and I had almost decided not to do this prompt, when a very busy and chaotic few days, made me recall, a particular friend I had at Polytechnic. She was always calm even in the midst of crazy student life. Pamela was from Taiwan and her English was not 100 per cent and people put her quietness down to that. I was not so sure, so I asked her one day, “How come she was so relaxed and calm amongst us lot?” He reply was the quote by Buddha in the picture above. She said she was Buddhist and mediation helped to center her. Yes, I have always admired people who keep their cool in a crisis. It is something I aspire to. I can appear to calm on the surface, but there is a nasty storm inside! So I want to learn to be like the quote below, calm inside when there is a storm on the outside. (Blues and turquoise are close seconds in the favourite colours list.)
This week has been stormy for me, I would like to think that I kept my calm throughout. So thanks Pamela, even though we have different faiths, both will help us cope with the slings and arrows of life.

The first piece is acyclic (text added in Photoshop) and the second is an oil painting done earlier in the year with text and embellishments added in Photoshop.

Have a happy PPF day everyone.

Linking to

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Bull, the Frog that talked.

Thank you Sunday Sketchers for all the advice last week. I have made some decisions about publishing. Lynn Cohen has inspired me and I am going to self publish 'Mystery in Arcadia' (last weeks pictures with Blurb and with two others I am going to try the conventional publishers first, and have decided that the sample from 'The Perfect Pet' will suit a publisher in Australia and My fairy story a publisher in USA. So now I have to pull my finger out!

Today's sample is from 'The Perfect Pet' as this picture also fits the prompt – Stretch - for Illustration Friday. The story is a Chapter Book for 6 to 8 year olds
Katie waited impatiently till it was nearly dark, and Liam was having his bath, so that he would not be able to mess things up. She went out into the back garden and crept along the grass to the edge of the pond. There was the old frog calling out to his friends. Katie held her breath, reached out, and made a grab for the frog, but he jumped away.
Drat!” The frog started to call out to his friends again.
I will get him this time,” Katie thought as she slithered on her stomach along the edge of the pond, as close to the frog as she could get.
Katie fell into the pond. As she crawled out, Katie was sure that the frog and his friends were laughing.

Have a wonderful week creating everybody.

Linking with SundaySketches

Friday, 30 November 2012


Next week is the first week of summer and at long last the weather is starting to act like summer. So I have been catching up with a lot of outdoor chores. My garden is a picture and so I have been inspired to get my watercolours out and paint flowers galore.
I love painting poppies, they are bold and will give a delicate bunch of flowers a punch.

One thing I am conscious of when painting flowers in water colour is that it is really easy to slip into pretty chocolate box mode, so with these two paintings I tried to create a bolder look but still show the delicacy of the flowers. I am not sure I succeeded in that aim, but I am pretty pleased with the result. Hopefully, next week I can spend more time on my painting and get some oil paintings finished.

Have a great PPF everybody.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Illustration and Sunday Sketches

This week I started to get my head into gear for getting on with my illustration work. First step is link up with Illustration Friday, the prompt is Whiskers.

The above character is Captain Snapper from a story I am writing for children 8 to 10 years. As the prompt is whiskers I have to add the Ruler's cat Bertha who is a grumpy old thing.

Here is a banner of the three main characters – Ambrose, Abdul and Columbia.

Besides my art I am very passionate about my writing and illustration. It has been a bit of a hobby and I have decided to take it out of my closet and attempt to let the world see my work. So the next step is a web site.

Web design was a module when I did my Art and Design Diploma 10 years ago. This year I dug out my rusty skills and have designed 2 web sites for photographer friends. They are very happy with them so really I thought I need to have one for my illustration work if I am serious about moving ahead. So this week I designed my logo, header and background and in Dreamweaver, I have got started on the site, styles and what pages I want. Still have some major decisions such as whether to have a slide show of my work or thumbs that connect to larger versions. I made a slide show in Flash for the Wedding Photographer and it was fun. Also I am toying with having a page for my art work, maybe that can be the slide show, decisions, decisions......

Anyways, here are the logo, header and background.

Logo which will go on Index page (Home)

I have designed the background so it will tile. (repeats fit together without seams)I might actually lighten this will see when it is on the page.

Third step is to act start thinking about what and where to publish, I have about 4 or 5 stories sitting moulding away in my cupboards. Might try self publishing first? Again decisions!!!

So, my friends have a happy week creating lovely works of art. Also linking with Alexandra of Blue Chair Diary Illustrations at Sunday Sketches. Check out the other participants work, it is amazing.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Pyromania and Imagination

Way back in September I brought some gouache paints and I have only used them a couple of times. This week I felt like splashing around with bright colours. So thought it a great opportunity to experiment with them. I just filled the palette with colours and with large brushes set to. This was the result.
The more I looked at the page I thought it reminds me of the bonfire I had a couple of days ago. I had heaps of weeds and prunings from my tidy up of a couple of weeks ago and went out very early (6am) before anyone had washing on their lines and made a giant heap and set it alight! Needless to say it became rather scary! The flames were about my height, so I chucked a lot of damp weeds on and the plume of smoke spiraled into the sky. I was waiting for the fire brigade to turn up in response to a complaint from the neighbours. I also hoped that the fire restrictions hadn't started. The fire was so hot that I managed to burn everything quite quickly and by 7.30 it was a gentle trickle of smoke, phew! I must have had the memory of the bonfire on my mind when I was playing with the paint as this background is calling out to be a picture of my pyromaniac behaviour. (I found out today the fire ban starts next week!)
The next piece is also done in gouache with acrylic finishing touches, I have to admit that I did the text in Photoshop as I wanted to post this today and doing text by hand takes ages. I realized that I have not done any journal pages for a while and horror of horrors no faces for a bit. I love drawing and painting faces, They are always from my imagination, if I had to do representational portrait I think I would struggle. The weirdest thing is that often people think that my picture is of someone they know. Its their imagination! I love letting my imagination flow there are always so many possibilities in life.

I firmly believe that creativity and imagination are hand in hand. So my lovely Paint Party Friday artists what is your imagination creating this week, no doubt I will see when I visit you. Happy PPF!

Linking to Paint Party Friday

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Lemons and Celtic princesses

This week I downloaded a trial version of Corel Painter Essentials 4, as my new computer didn't like my old Painter program. I couldn't afford the full version so thought I would give Essentials a trial. They are very generous with the time – 60 days and they only count the days that you open it! I have to say I am impressed – it has everything I need and I am tempted to buy it straight away as they have it at nearly half price at the moment (must be a new version coming out soon)

A good test of a paint program is to see how painterly it is. So I decided to paint some lemons and their peel. Above is a close up and below is the finished work!
I find that if you want deep colour in digital painting it is a good idea to have a very dark canvas. Also I found that I needed to lower the opacity of the paint to get that textured look. I would say that it passed the painterly test.

Next, I wanted to test how it worked with transparent brushes such as watercolour. I decided to use a drawing I did for the 29 faces challenge. I had done a digital version in Photoshop so it would be interesting to compare.

However I decided I would make it different dimensions, so I doubled the width.  As I was working I thought it would make a good journal page, so I added the text and the digital Celtic stamps in Photoshop.
Below is the Photoshop version I painted for the 29 faces challenge.
I think that Painter passed the transparent test as well.
Below is the Photoshop version I painted for the 29 faces challenge.
I think that Painter passed the transparent test as well, as it looks more natural than the Photoshop version.  Depends what effect you are after really.
So I am a little happy painter, a new program that is better than my old expensive one, who could ask for more!

Have a wonderful week creating lovely art out there. My scripture that I am taking into the coming week is:
But you, be strong
and do not lose courage,
for there is reward for your work.”
2 Chronicles 15:7

Linking with Sunday Sketches

PS. Here is a little bit of whimsy I did this morning in Painter. I do so love this program!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Safe Haven

Challenge 4 for Fall, Fearless and Fly is Security

Headline Prompt:  Security:  What makes you feel safe and secure?  What rattles your sense of security?  Where do you go for comfort and refuge?
Color Prompt: 
Cool colors (blues, greens, violets, etc.) 
Quote Prompt: You can't make a place for yourself in the sun if you keep taking refuge under the family tree.  Helen Keller

First of all, I apologize for length of this post. This is a topic that is major for me at the present time. I have done two pieces, the first one using the first two prompts and the second on the third. Both are digital using original artwork.


Safe Haven uses a painting I did earlier in the year after a dream I had. I was very ill in hospital and had almost given up the fight, then I had this dream. I was in a forest it was very dark and frightening. Suddenly behind me was this man who looked like a hippie. Follow me!” I followed, I was surprised that I did, because he looked a bit unsavoury, as the forest got lighter I noticed that he really was an ordinary person, just a dude I remember thinking. Then I started to notice that the trees and plants were a beautiful green, soon there appeared wonderful flowers, strange insects, and the colours were unbelievable. 

 If I tried to paint or draw them you would have thought it was fantasy art. But it was real I could smell a wonderful perfume it was like a overdose of rose scents hitting you. Then we got to a wonderful glade with a pool and at the far end a waterfall. Again the colours were amazing, the abstract I painted doesn't do justice, but may give you an idea . There was a wonderful glow of golden light. I thought that perhaps I was tripping on the medication. It was so way out there. The man turned to me and he had a golden glow surrounding him. Then I just knew that he was Jesus. He said to me “You must never forget that I am here to carry you in times of need and suffering!” Then he took my hand and sat on the grass by the pool and hugged me. We sat there for a while then he got up and said, “Come here when you feel in need, I will be here, always.” He walked out on to pool and sorted of glided over the water and disappeared under the waterfall! 

When I woke up I knew I could lick this illness and I started to improve much to the amazement of the doctors and nurses. So now I always go to that glade when I am sick or in a bad place. I have never seen that man again, but I know if I needed him he would be there. So, that is the story behind the waterfall.

When I saw the prompt for FFF I just knew I had to tell the story. So to illustrate it better I did the pencil drawing above and added it to the waterfall in Photoshop and lowered the opacity to give that dreamlike feel.

I am really happy with the finished piece and am seriously considering painting a girls face on the waterfall painting but them maybe not! Maybe do a completely new painting?

It actually fits for me to have that glade as a safe haven because all throughout my life, I have always had a spot in nature wherever I lived, where I could go and sort my head out. Where I am living at the moment I have a local lake I go to and commune with nature and God.


The next piece is entirely digital, and it is something I have been working on for a few months. My friend and I are winding up our courage to have a joint exhibition next year at our local museum/art gallery that lets local artists exhibit their work in the large foyer. She is a photographer who uses digital processes to create a completely new work. I do a lot of digital work using original artwork.
I have used the second prompt - the quote, which I feel fitted the picture. It is one of a series I am calling “Walk into the Light”. I only finished this one on Wednesday so even though I didn't start it with FFF in mind it fits the quote.

I have been guilty (as many of us have, I am sure) of hiding behind a security blanket and not stepping out and using my talent because I didn't have faith in myself. I have always had excuses for not doing my art – need to work for the man to get money for the mortgage, my husband wants me to work, I not good enough, haven't the time, the list goes on and on. What art I did, I only let friends and family see, and quite often I burnt it with each move we made! As time went on, holes appeared in my secure world and I had to make the leap, and this is what the above work portrays. Me coming out of my fragile box into the light.
However, I slightly disagree with the quote as I feel we need to have a “sheltering family tree” to go to when we need it. The tree is there to give us strength and grounding so we can go out in the sun and shine like stars that we all are.

If you got this far well done! I am really interested to see what others have posted for this challenge. As this work has taken up most of my art time this week I am also posting it for Paint Party Friday..... Happy PPF and FFF.

Linking to

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Christmas Card Frenzy

This weeks prompt at Artists Play Room at Just Add Water Silly is Christmas.

Strangely enough I started on making my Christmas Cards last week. Cards are important for me as most of my adult life, I have lived in a different country from my family. So, for quite a number of years now, I make a special effort with my cards and design a special card for each member. The one above is especially for my sister who is crazy about bears and collects all things to do with bears. Also I will probably send it to some of my nieces.  I painted the bears in Corel Painter Essentials which I have just downloaded a trial version for 60 days. After 2 days, I have already  decided to buy it! Especially as it is almost half price this month.

Here is one of my baby kitty Delyla for cat loving people.

And one of the cards I posted for Sunday Sketches last week, this I will send to all and sundry! Poinsettias flood the shops at this time of year and always I succumb and buy one, but yet I have never been able to get their tops to grow red again, they just stay stubbornly green! So now I just buy a new one each year and throw it out when it gets scruffy!

The poinsettias were painted in watercolour and the green strip which I think balanced the picture was added in Photoshop.  Now I have my Mum, Auntie, Brothers ........... do do.  

Like me I hope you are having fun making your cards.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sunday Sketches and cards

This week has been about watercolour and digital work. The above trio of pears is in watercolour, quite detailed for me. I love painting fruit especially pears and apples.

I also love painting flowers in watercolour and decided to get a start on my Xmas cards. I noticed when I was looking at PPF posts quite a number are on the same track.  This work is of poinsettias, a popular Xmas flower in NZ. I noticed they are starting to appear in the shops already!

I always send my cat lover friends a photo of my cat “Bro” at Xmas, here is this year's effort. After I draped the holly around his neck he posed then attacked it with vigour and bits of metal leaves are now scattered all over the house.

I have been working on a series of cards of Bro done on Freehand and Photoshop for a while and decided to test the waters by sending some friends this one if him in his Xmas dress.

That's it for this week, have a great time creating wonderful art and hope to see you next week.

Linking to Sunday Sketches

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Girly Moment

Before I start I will apologize to all blonds as this week I had a blond episode.

I haven't done much in the way of art over the last fortnight. I woke up one morning and looked at my house and garden and thought, 'wow, the place is filthy!' Cobwebs were starting to engulf me, and as for the garden, people cant get to my front door because of triffid like geraniums and creeping carpet roses that attack passerby legs. (I use the back door where a daisy bush showers me with petals as I pass.) So I set to and started the mammoth task of tidying up. Its spring right, there must be something inside of us that makes us notice the filth when spring arrives. I got everything sorted inside and then started on the outside. I was living in a jungle. But I licked it. Now I have a heap of stuff ready for composting and burning.

Feeling pleased with myself, I rubbed my hands and thought back to my art with a clear conscience. Ha! I got girly all of a sudden, and wanted to pretty everything up! I went to the market and bought lots of flowers for the garden and pretty china for the house. I also bought new bed linen and throws for the lounge, I am ashamed to say that there was a lot of pink!

That is not all, I went to the hardware store and brought a mini greenhouse so I could grow pretty delicate flowers. You had to assemble it. So spurning offers from my friend's husband to help, I started. Three hours later I was tearing my hair out, it was like those skits you see of people trying to put tents up. I went inside and sulked.
I idly picked up the packaging and a sheet of paper fell out – the instructions. I made a longed for cup of tea and read them. It looked so simple, so had another cuppa and heaved a great sigh and went out again with the instructions firmly in my hand. Well! I had it up in no time. The moral of the story don't be a blond, read the instructions! (Although, I got to say I know a lot of men who also don't read instructions and then get into a fit of temper when it doesn't work, so once again apologies to blonds)

Needless to say I am now back at my computer desk and paint table playing with glee and a clear conscience.

Oh and I have asked my friends to give me a severe slap if I start to wear flowery dresses and skirts etc - especially pink!

Linking to Paint Party Friday

PS. Was Telling my sister about my antics with the Greenhouse and she kindly reminded me that I was a blond up to the age of 8!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


The prompt for The Artists Play Room at Just Add Water Silly this week is sunsets. I love Sunrises and Sunsets, the colours thrill me, they are constantly changing. Sometimes I see a sunset and by the time I've got my camera it has changed. Strangely enough I have never up till now painted one. I love sunsets done by other artists and still remember the thrill of seeing the gigantic paintings of Turner at the National Gallery in London when I was in my early twenties on my OE. I would go and sit in front of one during my lunch break for up to half an hour, just marveling.

This painting I did in acrylics and is of a lake near my home. It is actually a sunrise that I saw some months back. It was very unusual as there was mist as well, and it created a lovely silent glow on the landscape. I often go to this lake to mediate and commune with nature and God. That morning I felt very close to God and can picture it still as if it was yesterday. So thank you APR for giving me the push to paint my first sunrise.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

FFF - Challenge 3

The three prompts for this FFF challenge are:
Headline prompt – Triumphs and defeats, what do you see as your greatest triumphs or defeats? What have they taught you? Which you have learned more from?
Colour – black and white
Quote – Not in the clamour of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves are triumph and defeat. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I have really struggled with the colour prompt. Piece of cake I thought, I do b/w illustrations for kids books, no worries! Ha!
In a sense this exercise was a defeat for me. However as the quote says defeat and triumph are in ourselves. I gave up on the above picture and moved to a different piece this time digital. I didn't like that much either, so gave up on the whole process. 6 Days later I look at them again and think well they are not too bad!The defeat was in my head.

The triumph is not the finished work, but what I learned. I learned, that sometimes you have to walk away from a piece when dissatisfaction sets in. I am a colour freak. Last challenge I said red was the colour I wasn't happy working with. I enjoyed doing that red journal page! These were darn difficult! So now I like red, and am really out of my comfort zone with b and w. The triumph was that I persisted, sometimes you have to make that jump and fly into the unknown

Linking to Fall, Fearless and Fly at Artists in Blogland

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Dream

For a number of years I have had a dream of illustrating my own children's story. I have two versions of the story – picture book for under 5 year old; and a chapter book version for under 8 year old. Finally, I am getting to the point where I need to pluck up courage and send the manuscript and sample pictures to publishers. Really scary to say the least. Anyway, I want to share with you some of the pictures. So, no matter what happens they have seen the light of day!

Melody is different from the other fairies where she lives as she does not belong to a flower family. So she decides to find her family On her quest she makes new friends who help her find out where she comes from. Gavin the grass snake leaves with her.

First port of call Straggly Witch, who tells her that Jeremy the Wizard knows. Straggly Witch's owl decides to go with Melody and Gavin.
Jeremy lives in a tree, can't do spells and gives her a map to the Singing Valley where she comes from. His winged cat Harvey decides to come as he is bored.

They met Amber the tiny red dragon, who flies them over the Red Mountains, and at the giant mushroom forest they meet Woggle the giant worm.

Finally they get to Melody's home and there she meets her mother a Melody Dragon. (I need to redo this picture as I am not happy with the wings)
That is the story briefly. I still have quite a few pictures to do, I am working on the one with Amber flying over the mountains with the others on her back, it is quite a complicated and difficult picture perspective wise. I will post it when it is done!

Here is the scripture I am taking with me into the coming week.

Have a happy Sunday Sketches and a creative week