Tuesday, 14 January 2020


I saved this as a draft last year, then...reasons...
I'll write about them in the next post :o)

Ivy is a beautiful sacred plant.
Many Gods and Goddesses are honoured with it.
We have lots of old gnarled Ivy here.
Birds nest in the deep dark holes within.
Insects buzz around the fuzzy flowers.
The weird black berries disappear in the Autumn, I'm not sure who takes them all, but I know the thrushes love them.

I wanted to make a picture which shows the depths inside an old Ivy 'bush'.
It seems that the Fae wanted to join in too.
Who am I to say no?
So, here is the sketch.

Sketchbook Ivy

I liked her pose, she looked deep in thought but she wasn't quite right.
Anyway, the painting started, this is the fun bit, where you can make a mess...:o)

First, scruffy layers
Okay, I'm really not loving this, it just looks wrong.
Not how I picture the lovely old Ivy when I peer into it...or the little Fae.
I'll give her some more layers of skin.

And some leaves, and redder hair...
Mmmm...still not loving it.

Looking better, but still not right, damn...

So, now I think she would look better wearing a floaty little dress.

I really don't mind painting over her body, it is useful to have as a base.
(Yeah, right, I'm saying that because I'm annoyed with myself for not doing it sooner!)
So, after lots (& lots) more layers were added and some dew drops...taddaaa!


(Painted in Oils on canvas, size 12 x 16 inches)

Saturday, 9 February 2019

When Bert Came Down The Chimney

We have an inglenook fireplace, a very huge one.
We found it behind a modern ugly replica inglenook fireplace !?!
We had soot in our eyes and up our noses for months trying to clear the stones away and find the chimney.  But we managed it eventually and this demon of an inglenook was behind the modern thing.
It would have been a place to roast a dragon no doubt, in the days of Yore ;o)
It would have wasted so much energy to heat the house, so we installed a cast iron stove, those square ones on legs, with glass doors.
There is a reason I'm telling you this bear with me...

So, the other day my children and I heard this scratching noise coming from the stove.
The torch showed nothing inside it but you could hear something, then it went quiet.
We have lived in other old houses and have had dead jackdaws fall out of old chimneys (on top of my head!) before, but these were in big old wide chimney stacks which had never been lined..
Our chimney here has a flue liner and a cap on the top, with just enough gap for ventilation around the rim.
It is also very high.

The chimney stack

Needless to say, we thought it might be a little mouse or vole but couldn't see how it could get inside the flue pipe.
We opened the doors, holding this big net in front to catch the little critter...nothing.
So, 'The Giant Troll' aka Steve thought it would be a good idea to clean out the stove, it needed a visit from the chimney sweep as it hadn't been used in a while and there was a pile-up of soot inside the stove.
Strangely, on each side...
He wriggled the plate which is just below the pipe and tipped it sideways to get it out and...
This thing shot out, jumped on my back (I was bending over looking into the stove) and vanished.
Steve: 'What the hell was that?'
Me: 'A Jackdaw?'
I looked around the room to see where it was flapping, expecting it to be going crazy round the room, nothing.
Then I saw this weird black thing quickly crawling into the front room, up the step.
So, I rushed over and saw this totally black, long-tailed creature jump onto the mantelpiece and run along it, so fast, my eyes couldn't make out what it was.
I closed the door fast, to contain it.
Then we all heard things smashing and glass breaking, never a good sign.

My children ran in to ask what was in there.
Me: 'I'm not sure, I thought it was a Jackdaw but it has a big black, fluffy tail...like a cat...but too big, more like a black kitten?'
A black kitten?
How could it be?
Well, how were we going to catch the whatever-it-was?
We decided the front door to the house was the best bet, so stood with a big net guarding the stairs and making a pathway for it to run out.
Steve opened the door to the room and this just made it go crazy, Steve is a Giant Troll after all, the thing just went mad flinging itself all over the room!
Soot was flying everywhere, over everything and pots were falling over and smashing.
We told Steve to go outside out of the way and it might come out.
It did, it saw the open door to freedom and ran/skulked out the door and off into the front garden.

So, what do you think it was?
Yup, a jet-black fat squirrel.
It was so covered in soot you had a hard time seeing it clearly.
It disappeared over the wall and away to the fields.
And left us with the mess.
Soot prints everywhere.

I don't think it liked the radio channel!

My children were laughing because I had footprints on my back!
I also had soot on my face and in my hair.
We are still cleaning up after it, probably will be for a while, soot is evil to clean, it floats on water you see.

Even the curtain pole was covered, not to mention the curtains!

One good thing did come out of this though.
'Bert' as he will be forever known, did a great job of cleaning the chimney for us, with his big fluffy tail.
We even had a fire in there to celebrate .

These pots are covered, the small one has now lost a lid :o(

As they say in the 1960's Mary Poppins film
'Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee
A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be
Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-oo
Good luck will rub off when I shakes 'ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that's lucky too
(Which is probably why my face was black) :o)
And I am just not even going to try to clean my art stuff...
Art Prints or Foot Prints?

Did anyone ever think that country living was relaxing?
And if anyone is worried about 'Bert'...he came on the bird feeder this morning and stuffed his face with nuts.
We knew it was him because he had a big black stripe down his back and head :o)

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Working with those Elementals...

'Dance of Fire and Water'

Well here she is, actually finished.
I have to say she's looking a lot smoother now and the fish are just how I pictured them when I began, not just blobs of orange!
Sometimes when you are creating art, there is this awful stage which you just have to push through. (The 'Wall' which everyone hits).
The voices in your head are telling you that this is dire, that you have messed everything up (again), that you are rubbish and should try digging graves instead ;o)
These are the times that you have to be the bravest.
Luckily, paint is very forgiving, you can cover most things up and no one will ever know just how bad it was before.
But...I wanted to show my early stages, for just those reasons.
So that those of us, struggling with our paintings can take heart in the fact that all paintings start off really really horrid.
They don't just appear on the canvas looking pretty and perfect.
They are all ugly ducklings. (I actually think ducklings are adorable).

This one is for the Elementals.
I wanted to paint two forces of nature playing together.
The mermaid represents Water, so is cool and blue.
The fishes represent Fire and are warm, red-orange.
I wanted them to dance the Eternal Elemental Dance within the water.

I have to say, that they were great fun to paint.
I now need to come up with an idea for the other Elemental beings...
After all, I wouldn't want them to feel left out :o)

See you again soon, maybe with some more awful beginnings...
(Painted in Oils, size A3)