End of Year round up of my work for 2020

Well, this was going to be my last post of 2020 but it has taken so long, its now my 1st post of 2021. Happy New Year, everyone and good riddance to 2020. It got to be better this year, hasn’t it?

I have been quite active this year in my creative work. I have explored stitch mediation and various forms of quilting. I joined in with the first portrait artist of the week season. I painted a quilt! And I joined a zoom class for life drawing. It’s also been a year of heartbreak with the deaths of my Uncle in March from Covid, my ex daughter in law, Shelbie and my Dad in Oct. Also a world of heartbreak for so many reasons due to a virus that has felled so many as it thrives on our lack of respect for the world that is other than us.

There was no hint on the 1st Jan what lay ahead of us in the year to come.

Stitch Mediation Jan 17

I posted my 1st Instagram post for the year. I had been struggling to get back into my creativity after the holiday season. I usually find it difficult to find my rhythm after all the hectic pace of Christmas and New Year. Then I discovered a tag, #stitchmediation. So I gathered up a tote with odds and ends of scraps of material and thread. I posted my 1st one on 17th January and that got my year on the go.

I continued with these while doing other work up until April 19th when I couldn’t continue as it was too emotional. On 15th April, my ex daughter in law committed suicide in the most brutal of ways, by shooting herself in the head. I always knew she has issues but I never expected this. The torment she must had been feeling to do such a thing, is still incomprehensible to me. You would have never known the deep anguish she was suffering underneath her beautiful stunning eyes and amazing smile. Her death was the one that hurt the most this year and still does. She was so young, only 29.

Shelbie and Alan on their wedding day.
Such a bright beautiful smile, hiding the darkness that finally took you. My ex daughter in law took her own life on April 15 2020. See her poetry at Instagram @sjaires91

Sunflower collage Jan 18

I took, what turned out to be my 1st and only class, at the Honeybees Fabric store. It wasn’t a success as it wasn’t what I expected. But I hate to give up something. I didn’t do much with it again until September 19th. It just didn’t resonate with me. I attached it to a painted background and tried some embroidery on it. Still nothing! Then I decided to clear some of stuff in my art room that I would never use again and came across some large hexies I had started probably about 2 yrs ago. I was never going to do anything with them. So I had the idea of attaching them to the cloth. There were about 8 of them and I used 6 in the end. I also added some tulle and some indigo dyed cotton at the top to cover the paint I had there. Then I stitched them all to the fabric. Still zilch! it was a disaster. That when I decided to chop it up randomly. I ended up with a very thick square that I quite liked. I tried to machine quilt it but that was a mistake as it was too thick even with a walking foot. By that point, the Christmas season was about to start, so it is still unquilted but I will hand quilt it in the New Year.

Finished Pat Sloan Winter Fun quilt top Jan 21

I finished this quilt top and that is exactly as it is now as I although I have a backing fabric, it was not yet been quilted. Another task to finish and I will do it early in the new Year.

Pat Sloan’s winter fun quilt top.

Started quilting Happy Blocks Feb 2

I had made this quilt top in a class at Honeybees in June/July 2019. It was quite a daunting challenge to quilt as it was by the far the biggest I had quilted. I decided to used it as a sampler quilt so each block combination (12 x 2) had it own design and I was going to do it using a walking foot only. I even drew out some of the designs. Others were freeform. I finally finished it on July 3rd. I was very pleased with it.

Made 1st Mask Mar 21

News of a new contagious type of flu in China, started to filtered through to the world towards the end of Jan. By the end of February, it was apparent this was a very serious illness and I was getting worried about my trip to the UK, that I had been planning since before Christmas 2019. By now, people in Italy was were dying in ever increasing numbers and it was only a matter of time before it got here or the UK. Unbeknownst to us, it had been circulating around the world for several months before Christmas 2019. It is generally assumed that it came from China but who really knows. Yes, it was discovered in Wuhan when it became widespread but it had been out in the wild for several months by then, it will be difficult to trace the real origins of it. Much like the so called “Spanish” flu in 1918 which was attributed to Spain because they were 1st to identify the flu because they were not part of the war in 1917. Now they think it came from a farm in Kansas and soldiers from the USA spread it amongst the battle fields of WW1

The Chinese government had been monitoring pneumonia outbreaks with the help of the US for several years due to the SARS virus a few years back. The Trump government decided pull out of that agreement in July 2019. But the Chinese government kept up with their research which is why this virus was discovered. Yes, they tried to hide the fact, which they should be held accountable for but they shared the DNA fairly quickly which is why we now have several potentially successful vaccines. They also did what western countries couldn’t do, shut down a whole city full of millions of people.

I was due to fly to London with Juniper on 12th March. I was going to surprise my Dad for his 84th Birthday but nursing homes residents were already locked down by the beginning of March, so I wouldn’t have been able to see him. On March 7th, it was obvious, this was a bad idea with people dying worldwide by now of this new virus, so I cancelled my trip. The day I was due to arrived , London went into lockdown. Juniper finished school on 11th March and has never been back in person since. On the 26th March, my Uncle Lew passed away from Covid. He was 90 yrs old. On the 30th April, my eldest daughter was laid off from her State job due to cuts in government spending. Of course, this being TX the environmental groups and the agency that implements those rules, would be one of the first departments to be cut. She is still unemployed despite applying for too many jobs to count but fortunately she and Juniper are living with us, so she won’t become homeless like millions of others will in the coming months. This virus has been devastating in all respects of life.

I made a few masks at the beginning of the pandemic, mainly because I was asked by my future son-in-law, who works in the pharmacy of one of the bigger hospitals in Austin. I soon realised I was better off with the paper surgical masks as cloth masks in the Texas heat are unbearable. The paper ones are not much better but its better than dying.

Covid drawing April 14

My one and only covid drawing. It was done in my journal which has become sort of redundant since we have been stuck in the house of the last 9 months. I am looking forward to going to restaurants and going to the movies once its safe.

Finished “Why” an improv Quilt Aprl 19

I started in July 2019 and I finally put on a binding on it.

Joined an online Zoom Life drawing class April 23

In April I was invited by my friend to join a life drawing group run by Hackney Wick Life drawing group (Instagram @hwlifedrawing) which was doing zoom sessions for the duration of the pandemic. Little did they know it would be still be going right up to Christmas and probably well into 2021. I stopped around August as I get too flustered and anxiety ridden when I can’t move around a room and examine the model from different aspects. Its poor excuse I know.ūüė•

Sky arts Started their Portrait of the week April 28

By the end of April, people were getting more inventive about ways of doing things that couldn’t be done in the normal way. Sky artist of the Year, had been due to start as their normal yearly contest but obviously with the continuing lockdown, that wasn’t possible. So they moved it to Facebook where one of the previous winners would paint a famous personality over a 4 hour period via a live stream. Viewers were invited to paint along and submit their paintings to be judged. They had additional 4 days when the Judges would chose the best ones submitted via Instagram. I was never pickedūüė≠, not even for their honourable mention wall and a top 3 were chosen by the judges. The standard of painting was amazing, to be honest. By the end of the 9 weeks, there were 1000’s of artists, professional, amateurs and children participating from all over the world. It must have been challenging to look at so many paintings of the same person! They did do another season but I decided not to take part this time around, I was busy doing the Quirky Creatures quilt by then. Maybe the next time, once my wounded pride has healed.ūüėāūü§£

Started Quirky Collections Quilt July 9

I had come across the work of Helen Godden on YouTube a while ago and I thought this would an easy project. No piecing, you simply paint the design with Lumiere paints and then quilt each block as you go. I really didn’t appreciate how big this quilt was. Not quite as big as the Building blocks but very large for a wall hanging! I am rapidly running out of wall space. But I really enjoyed this project and it made me look at fabric collage again. I finished in record time for me by Sept 2. But at the end of it, I resolved not to make any more large quilted pieces.

Made my first project using the project provided by Brother scan n cut

On July 16 I got my Brother scan and cut for my birthday which was not really until August but it was the last machine available locally. I had seen it in a local store just before the pandemic started and thought at the time, this would be great for future mixed media projects. I have not yet used it to its full potential but I am looking forward to experimenting with it in 2021.

My Dad died Oct 12

I had been due to see my Dad in March 2020 for his 84th birthday and for him to meet, Juniper, his great-grand-daughter. He has met her before but Juniper was too young to remember. I knew this would probably be my last chance to see him as he had deteriorated a lot since my Mum died in Sept 2018. He had lived with my sister for the past 3 yrs but he could no longer manage the stairs to get to his bedroom or toilet, so he moved into the nursing home in Jan 2020. After 5 months of being locked in his room due to Covid, his health had deteriorated even more quickly. So I wasn’t surprised when my sister let us know he had been taken to hospital with a chest infection which then turned in pneumonia. Fortunately he was surrounded by the love of my 2 sisters, Sarah and Julie as he passed away from this life, never ever gaining consciousness again. Of course, due to covid I wasn’t able to attend his funeral but I was able to watch and grieve with my sisters via video. He was 84, an age we never thought he would achieve as he retired with ill health on his 59th birthday. He was determined to be with my Mum right to the end after she was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)and he was there for her all the time. I think seeing his youngest great grand-daughter Ava who was born just before my Mum died, was the factor that kept him going much longer than expected afterwards. Family was always very important to him. Losing that contact at the beginning of March was probably the last straw.

A portrait of my Dad that I made during my foundation year at Camberwell.
Juniper with my Dad when she about 11 months old. Mum and Dad were living in France at the time.

Started spiral collage Nov 5

I have seen Susan Carlson work on the Quilting Arts program which is show on PBS on Saturday morning and it was the sort of painterly way I wanted to approach fabric collage, not the applique way I had been shown in Feb. I also had the book where she has this exercise but I tend to work better if I see it in action. On her site, she had some short videos to guide you through the process. Going through my fabric stash, I realised I don’t have lot of textural fabrics or large flowery prints, so I was finding it hard to do the spiral when out of the blue, a friend offered me a huge bag of exactly those type of fabrics. It took longer than I expected but I loved the outcome, unlike the sunflower ūüė• In the end it took me about 3 weeks although I still have to bind it yet. I plan to do another as you can never have enough spirals.

Started advent drawings Dec 2

For the past few years, I have counted down the days to Christmas by posting Christmas themed work on Instagram. The aim is post each day but I rarely managed that as I would try to do something that was too big or complex to finish in one day. At first I wasn’t going to do it this year, but then I came across one of drawings from a previous year. It was late on Dec 1, so rather than rush a drawing, I used that one (Santa with UK/USA flag). After that I decided to stick to one small sketch book and only use the materials on my drawing/sketch table. Also they had to very simple drawings. I managed to do 22.5 drawings. I ran out of time on Christmas eve, too many things to do. So I used a painting I did in 2010! The half done drawing is still on my table!

I think next year, I will do one for each Sunday of Advent

Christmas sacks and other things.

My scan n cut came into use in December when I decided to make Christmas sacks for everyone. First I practised on a t shirt for my grand-daughter as I hadn’t really used the heat transfer vinyl that much.

I got the idea from the software Brother provides. Instead of just using the symbols , I though I would place them down the t-shirt with the corresponding word beside. As you can see from the photo, I got the words the wrong way around. I don’t play the game, in my defence ūüėāūü§£ Anyway it gave me practice of layering on top of my mistake. My grand-daughter was delighted with the result.

Then I got a request to make a stocking for a friend’s baby’s 1st Christmas. I had made one for her daughter when she was a baby but it was in the style I had made for year’s. This year I decided to change up the style as I could use HTV for his name for the name instead of cross stitch as I have done in the past. I was very happy with the result.

Finished all sacks on Dec 19

My final task before Christmas was to make Christmas sacks as the stockings, which are like the one’s above are just too small to cope with the ‘big’ small gifts we give to each other after Christmas dinner. Even with the sacks, there were 2 large gifts that were too big for the sacks. ūü§® I did some YouTube searching and adapted a couple of ideas to suit my needs. I even learn how to make boxed corners, some day I will be a sewerūüėČ I was very pleased with the end result!

1st Digital drawing 27th Dec

Finally Christmas arrived and my gift from my son was digital drawing tablet, a Gaomon M106K Pro with pen. I have tried out digital drawing several times over the years. My old Samsung tablet has a touch sensitive drawing pen but I found all the drawing software programs very daunting with all their brushes, icon etc. I even had one of the first Wacom tablet about 15 yrs ago. At that time, it seem to be directed many towards people who drew Manga type paintings which is definitely not my thing.

Anyway I am determine to crack this nut this year and have downloaded Krita which is a free open source program and recommended for beginners. If I get the hang of it, I might be tempted to try out Corel Paint again. Its still overwhelming when you first dive in. Fortunately, they have quite a few Youtube videos for beginners.

Going forward

I am going to teach myself the digital drawing by daily practice, much like you would if you were using any other drawing/painting media.

I am starting a drawing class with quilt artist Susan Shie ( http://www.turtlemoon.com) called Lucky drawing 149 on Sunday. I want to get back into the habit of drawing but not from life necessarily. I want to spread my wings. The class description is :

Class format: Freehand drawing class, taught in a very radical style: guidance and inspiration without how-to’s, step-by-steps, or judgment. All assignments can be done, changed, or ignored. Positive feedback discussions of drawings posted by all. Drawings done in large, hardbound sketchbooks, with any freehand drawing supplies.

So I am not really sure what I am I letting myself in for but if it anything like her own work, it will be inspiring. I have been a fan of her work for a long long time so when I saw this class was available I decided throw caution to the wind and signed up.

I will continue my exploration of quilts but more small size art quilts like “Why” which I did in 2019 and the spiral collage in Nov. I am going to make a book or books of the stitch mediations I did early on in the year. At the moment, they are just in pile on my drawing table. I might get back to them at some point. Especially if I have an artistic block which I tend to suffer from a lot! It definitely kickstarted me back into action last year.

I might do some painting but its not a high priority at the moment, although I always enjoy painting when I do it. Basically I will be doing what I do best, go where the wind goes and trust my instincts.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Apologies for such a long post. Apologies for such a long post.

Podcasts, Youtube, Spotify have all been there to get me through this Covid era.

The end of the year is looming and it time to list the things that have got me through this year of crisis. To be honest, I would normally be doing these activities anyway but over this past 9 months, they have been more important.

At the beginning of the year, I was listening to a few political podcasts as both this country and my home country, were going through a bit of a crisis (understatement of the year). Then Covid struck and although, politics still remained important, my mental well being needed to escape from it all as it was so overwhelming. I still listened to the nightly news and if I was in the car, I would listen to KUT, the local PBS news channel but I felt powerless to do anything. Taking care of my own mental health was something I could control.


No particular order as I listen to them when I am walking or either doing things in the art room and depending on my mood. I have discovered if I am trying to do something creative, I cannot listen to a podcast at the same time. Cutting fabric, cleaning up my space is fine.

The Graham Norton Podcast. a chat show with a agony aunt section with Maria McErlane. This is an easy on the ears shows with lots of laughter. I particularly like the agony aunt bit where Graham and Maria give advice on the issue chosen and always ends with remember “we are not professionals ūüėāūüėÉūü§£ I will miss him when he does his last podcast this week.

Something Rhymes with Purple. Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth discuss the origins of words or phrases. Very light hearted and lots of laughter. I am noticing a theme here.

Desert Island Discs – A celebrity guest get to choose 8 musical track (sometimes vocal) , a book and a luxury. They can take the luxury and book plus one musical track with them when they are stranded on a deserted island. Sometimes I see the guest name, occupation and think, hmm, not that interesting but more often than not, they are.

The Lonely Palette – Tamar Avishai normally picks one painting from her place of work, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She starts by asking visitors to the museum what they think about a particular painting, the one she is about to discuss. Her voice is so soothing and her narrative is very informative. Unfortunately since August 2019, episode 40, due to maternity leave and then Covid, the podcasts have be very infrequent. Now I am about to start listening to all 50 again.

Quilt and Tell. Traci, Lori and Ginger from Quilting daily have an easy conversation about……quilting. They also interview a celebrity quilter each episode and end the show with tips. Good for the experienced and novice quilter. Very easy going conversation between friends and guests. Lots of laughs.

Quilting Arts. Presented by Susan Brubaker Knapp and Vivika Hansen. This is a fairly new podcast and an off shoot of the PBS show of the same name. Its all about art quilts, which are different from the quilts people normally think of and are more akin to fine arts. Now they are on episode 14, they are beginning to relax a bit and enjoy themselves.

Stitchery Stories hosted by Susan Weeks, who describes herself as an embroidery enthusiast and textile art dabbler. She interviews people in the textile world that have sparked her interests via instagram or their blogs. She started off with UK artists but as her show has taken off in the US and Canada, more and more of the artists are international. Its just a friendly conversation about their art/craft and how they came about their practice. Very easy listening and lots of laughs.

I am always on the look out for interesting art podcasts. Most are way too serious and full of ART SPEAK ūüėī that way of talking about art is just turgid and a put off. I soon get bored with it and the podcast. So I was delighted when I came across

Talk Art. Presented by actor Russell Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament, 2 guys who are great friends and both avid art collectors. Robert has a art history back ground but he doesn’t claim to be an expert at all. He started off in a little know UK rock band before moving into the art world. He is now the director for the Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate UK. Robert is the shy one and I think, sometimes surprises himself with his observations in his conversations with their artist of the week. Russell, on the other hand, is fully into all the psycho babble that surrounds art these days. Its hilarious sometimes, when the artist comes back and says, really? in so many words. Of course, then there are artists that swallow it whole. I love both of them! In their 1st few episodes, they would normally talk for about for an hour but now they can go on an hour and 30 mins or more. That can be a bit wearing, so it probably not my favourite podcast now but I still listen to it regularly. I also find American artists for some reason, irritating even if I like their work. Through this show, I am now more aware of lot more modern living artists than I have been. Even become a fan of Tracey Eminūüėģ

My most recent find and delight has been

Waldy and Bendy – hosted by Waldemar Januszczak and Bendor Grosvenor. I could listen to these 2 of hours, I will be honest. Their dynamic is not unlike Tovey and Diament but both of them are professional art historians.

Once of my favourite podcasts use to the Jealous curator but it became a sort of a collective and with that became very insular and cliquey. Also like Art Talk, they became very long. I think its mainly because the presenter is now concentrating on her own work. These podcasts take up a lot of time and energy to make. However, looking at the new episodes that are posted , it looks like back to just Danielle Krysa and the artist. I will give it another try.

I have plenty of others podcasts I listen to but these ones I will listen to a new episode as soon as it appears.


As Covid as gone on and on, youtube has been become my refuge from nothing on TV.

My favourite theme is art History or history.

In the past 9 months, I think I have seen most of the Waldemar Januszczak documentaries that are available and that is a lot of video time!

His documentary of Gauguin Gauguin: The Full Story has to be the best so far.

I need to find another entertaining but informative art historian!

Lucy Worsley is another of my favourite historians She has a strange lisp (I think or it might be my hearing) but somehow it makes her more engaging.

Fit to Rule, Tudor to Stuarts from Gods to men

I have watched too many craft and painting videos to list but I have learnt a lot from them. I have long list of subscriptions but I find after a few videos that I get bored with them. Or they post videos that are too short, like the Royal Academy of Art. I don’t want to watch a 5 min video, I need at least 10 mins! I love the National gallery in London’s curator presentations. They can be as short as 10 mins or as long as 30 mins but each packs in a lot information. The National gallery happens to be my favourite museum.


According to Spotify

my top decade was 1970’s

My top artist was David Bowie

I listened to 1241 artists

Top Genre was Rock

Top song was Wacht op Mij which I apparently listened to more than a dozen time

During the day I will tend to listen to vibrant music and yes, I do like older music rather than todays but I think that is because I don’t listen to music radio anymore. If I am needing to get up and move, like I do now, I chose a dance option. In the evening when I am trying to wind down I will put on some music for mediation.

Back to Christmas now and the run down to the New Year. Hopefully 2021 will be better but I suspect it will be long hard journey. In the meantime, I will continue with my Youtube watching, Spotify listening and podcast explorations.

Its the annual countdown to Christmas time!

For several years now, I have posted a creative piece on Instagram each day at the beginning of December and ending on 24th December. I begin well but alway end up struggling to post each day as I am too ambitious in my goal. It’s my way of getting into the festive season as I don’t have Christmas parties to attend or any other of the festivities that happen during December. This year, it is even harder to get into the Christmas spirit. Normally at this time of year, my grand-daughter would be singing Christmas carols in anticipation of the Christmas concert at school but no school this year.ūüėĘ

I lowered my ambitions this year and so far it’s working! My goal this year was to create a very simple drawing of our tree ornaments and use just pens of various types. No pencil, that way I had to commit to the drawing and a time limit. The last hour or less before I sit with my husband to watch TV before going to bed. Last night I broke one of those rules by using some lumiere paint for the background because I had left only 20 mins to do the drawing. Its surprising how long it takes to colour in an image!

I was so immersed in sorting through the photos, December sort of crept up on me which is why the first drawing of December comes from 2010 when I did a similar project but for Christmas cards. This was one of about 4 that I made. Only 12 drawings for this countdown left!

I did actually cut up the sunflower and I quite like it but its not yet quilted as other things came up. Plus it’s very thick so I might have to hand quilt it. I tried on the machine once but it was a disaster.

Then I got a request to make a Christmas stocking from a friend in the UK. We got our first stocking gifted to us. It was for our eldest daughter from a friend in Massachusetts. The following year, she send us another 4 for the rest of the family.

When the family started to expand about 10 yrs, with the kids new partners coming for Christmas dinner, I started to make my own Christmas stockings, following my friends design. For the first ones I bought quilted Christmas fabric as I wasn’t doing quilting at the time. Then came one Christmas when there was no quilted fabric available. So I had to make my own. Now I have it down to fine art but this time I wanted to change the design slightly and use my Brother cut n scan machine. It worked out exactly as I wanted it to.

Now I am making Christmas sacks for everyone who is coming to Christmas Dinner this year. The stocking were proving to be difficult to fill as although we have a price limit, the gifts can often be large. They are meant to be small jokey gifts from each other which we all open in turn, after Christmas dinner. Which is why I am making Christmas sacks in the hope they will hold the no so small gifts. I already know that someone has bought a gift that is too large but I am promised it is funny and relevant to the person receiving the present. ūü§¶ūüŹĽ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹūüėāūü§£

First Christmas Sack.

After Christmas I will be back to my photo project and making the pet portrait.

Spiral Fabric Collage

I am having one of my regular artistic blocks which isn’t helped by this pandemic. Each day rolls into the next, so I have to mark a cross on the calendar to check which day it is.

I am also trying to sort out all the thousands of digital photos I have on various hard drives. It’s very confusing. I have used photoshop elements for years but only recently took a course on how to use and manage it. The first thing I did was disable the watch files which are linked to Onedrive and Amazon. Before that I would see a pop up downloading from such and such app and stop it but not until several photos were downloaded. I have ended up with so many duplicates. PSE has got a program for duplicates but its not very smart, to be honest. I think mainly because the file names have changed, so it uses visually similar comparisons. You can’t beat a human eye in those circumstances. None of the online cloud programs seem to have a solution for duplicate images either. So far I have deleted about 4000 images because they were duplicates or other reasons ie a photo of your meal for instagram. I don’t do that anymore. I am planning on having it complete by 12/31/2020, to start the year afresh! Then I have sort through all the old photos that we have and the ones from my parents. Unfortunately a lot of them lack names, dates or location. This is why I decide to sort out my digital disaster. That way, in the distance future, my kids will have a reasonable record to wade through. Not until 2021 though!

A while back, I decided I wanted to explore fabric collage. Much as I have enjoyed the quilt making, there are limits such how many quilts can a person have. I am not good enough to sell them and my family is small, so sharing is not an option. Even before I started doing traditional quilts, I wanted to make art quilts/wall hangings. Fabric collage seems to fit into my broad spectrum of art work. I did attend a workshop at the beginning of the year, oh that seems like another age ago but I wasn’t happy with the result. I am currently working on it and I am still not happy with it! It was too basic and was basically applique with scraps of fabric. I want to create a whole image.

I had seen the work of Susan Carlson. Unlike my work, it is monumental in scale but seems to be more inline with my way of seeing things. On her website, I saw she had a eworkshop where she explained her process by using a simple spiral. I signed up and started the Spiral Eworkshop. It was much harder than I expected! I realised my fabric collection which I thought was reasonable was not. It was lacking in lots of respects, in its variety, pattern, colour and tone. As I was about to go fabric shopping, a friend step up with a huge bag of scraps. She is much more adventurous with her choice of colours and patterns. I still had to shop for some tulle for quilting. Within days, I had finished the project. I plan to make another spiral before I progress further.

Now I have to figure out what I will do with the original sunflower collage which doesn’t look much like a sunflower. I am going to chop it up and rearrange it. I don’t like it, so I might as well experiment. Here is how it looks at the moment.


I am also going to work on a pet portrait. I signed up for a workshop by Lea McComas. Her style is very different from Susan Carlson and uses digital imagery. Susan Carlson does also but in different way. Lea McComas uses fusible backing rather than glue to place the fabric and her fabric choices are not bright or patterned because she uses different threads, colours and weight, on a sewing machine to enhance the image. As I am wading through my 20 yrs of photos I am trying to find a suitable photo of any of our pets. Again, harder than you think, especially if you have a black or grey cat. Once I have selected the photo, resized and posterized, I will need to get it printed. With the pandemic getting worse by the day, I will get it done online to reduce my risk of catching covid. By the New Year, I should have the enlarged posterized photo and the fabric I want to use.

At end of 2021, I will be doing my own fabric collage, using my photos. I have collected scores of photos over the years, on visits to Scotland,France, London and Texas. Once I have sorted out my catalogue, I will finally be able to use them for what they were intended for. In the meantime, I have a lot of learning to embrace. Until a few years back, I didn’t know a thread had a weight!

Just a little confused

but learning new skills is a way of keeping your brain healthy. I decided to move my domain to WordPress where my blog resided before a brief dalliance with Wix. Everything was going fine until I saw the theme I was using had been ‘retired’. Easy enough, I thought, change the theme. I wanted something like I already had. I tried one or 2 but they weren’t quite right. Kept searching until I came across this one. Its bit more complex than I thought with hidden pages I can’t see from my dashboard. I have brain (just) and I will work it out.

I am also still teaching myself how to use my Brother Scan n cut SDX 225. The actual machine is very easy but I am not use to designing on a vector program. Other Scan n cut users say the design program by Brother called Canvas Workspace is a bit chunky and slow. There are other vector programs such as Inkscape or Sure Cuts a lot (SCaL) which are easier to use . I checked out the other design programs and they looked as confusing to me as Canvas Workspace. More so, to be honest. I decided I am going to use the program provided as I am new to this type of program. Even that is a steep learning path for me as I have never used vectors. Once I have mastered that I will venture into the world of Inkscape which is a free open source program.

Despite having both 2011,and 2018 suites for several years. I have never mastered Photoshop/Premiere elements. I can resize photos, lighten, darken and use one basic level. I am trying out Udemy at the moment. I did a short course on the scan n cut for the basics and I am currently doing a fundamentals of Math(s) course. In the UK we add an ‘s’. It has long been a gripe of mine that I was never taught maths in school. I will see how it goes. Anyway, they have photoshop elements course and I will do it. Yes, there are plenty of Youtube videos, I know, but I like to follow a progression and not random information. That is where I have become unstuck with the Scan n Cut, there is so much information on Youtube, you get befuddled.

Creativity wise, I have been a bit stymied. I finished my last project Quirkie Creatures Quilt by Helen Godden last month. I had seen a few of her videos on Youtube and thought, why not try my hand at that. As I am a painter, I wanted to use paint rather than piece the quilt blocks. I am not great at piecing yet. Also I could practice my free motion quilting. It’s a great design and nothing like my own personal work which tends to be a big messy. I liked the clear simple shapes she used based, on some ‘quirkie’ objects she owns. I realised by the end of it, I am not a “colour in” kind of person, it’s a bit tedious and repetitive. Of course, I could have deviated from her colour palette but I would still have been colouring in. I loved the free motion quilting. She used some very interesting patterns. I only used one different pattern as I tired of doing a basic meandering stitch. I will be honest, I wasn’t thinking about the size of the finished quilt. I was somewhat surprised at how big it became once all the squares,borders and sashing were sewn on. I had said I wouldn’t do another large quilt and this is for the wall. The question then came up, where the heck do I put it. With all my paintings, beaded pictures and other people’s work, I am running out of wall space!

The Pandemic ….continued

At the beginning of the covid isolation, I was working on my stitch mediations.
I had seen a post by another instagram poster which tagged stitch mediation and slow stitch. I had come across slow stitch before as I have a couple of books on it. With Slow stitch, you use all natural fabrics, wool or cotton. You use a limited number of types of stitches. Running or back stitch which can be used in numerous way like for darning.
Stitch mediation takes it a step further. There is no limit on the fabrics but generally there is a time limit. From the artist who is 1st attributed to the phrase, stitch mediation, the following:

We often use vintage fabrics and linens that we overdye to give them a new life. Then we add fibers, paper and other bits for fun.
There are just a few rules for your stitch meditation practice:
1. Do not take stitches out. Honor the perfection of imperfection.
2. Keep your stitches simple.
3. Don’t think about composition and design. Let your intuition lead you to your next stitch.
4. Feel free to cut or alter the fabrics in your kit and add other papers and fabrics.
5. Most importantly, remember to breathe.

Well, I don’t have vintage fabrics but I do have a lot of scraps. In the beginning I kept them simple and only used simple stitches. As I went along they became more complex and I introduced more types of stitches. I also began to use things like paper flowers or beads. I designated a time and put on music for meditation to aid the mindfulness of the exercise.

I finished in April as I was becoming overwhelmed by my response to the suicide of my ex daughter-in-law. She was only 29.

I have recently started doing them again. I saw as way to get back my creativeness as I have finished a project which wasn’t my design. It had sapped my energy although I enjoyed process.

The pandemic has seen a huge push by artists and organisations to get more people involved in the arts. I have already mentioned Youtube as galleries have introduced guided tours of exhibitions. These were ones that were due to open before the covid crisis. Production companies seem to be pushing out more documentaries on Youtube.

One of the best projects which Sky Arts TV produced. They make a programme called Sky Artist of the Year. Because of the pandemic, they had to put off filming this year’s contest. In place of the normal show, they came up with the idea of Sky Artist of the week. Using Facebook live, they invited famous people to sit via zoom. Each week a former winner from the show, then did a live portrait painting of the person. In turn, the viewers on Facebook live, would also paint a portrait. The viewers were then invited to submit their work via Instagram. The work was then judged by the show’s presenters. 3 paintings out of thousands were chosen and featured on the following week’s show.

I loved setting aside a few hours a week for this. Not sure I would make it as a portrait artist but I made a good stab at it. The standard of work on Instagram was amazing and made me feel inadequate. The main thing was that I enjoyed doing the paintings although one I gave up on one as I couldn’t get the likeness at all.

It must have been nerve wracking for all the sitters. Especially if they checked out Instagram with 1000’s of portraits of them. There were portraits done by professional artists, amateur painters and children.

How has your Pandemic being going?

Up to now I have been active in a creative sense. With my husband working from home, I don’t like to do housework while he is working other than the basics. That suits me fine as I hate housework. So while the house disintegrates around me from lack of attention, I have been been playing in the art room. Sometimes, I forget about even the basic stuff! Unfortunately, I have now hit a bump in the road. I am struggling to work out what to do. Instead I am writing this blog post, in the hope it might jog my brain back into shape. I am sure I was brimming with ideas in the middle of all this chaos.

Example of a spiral design with a walking foot
drawing design for tumbling blocks on a quilt. Done with a walking foot
Full quilt called Happy Blocks, All quilting done by walking foot.
The finished quilt.

Above are a couple of the quilted blocks and the completed quilt called Happy Blocks. I started the quilt at the HoneyBees Quilt stores in 2019. I decided to quilt it all with a walking foot. Although I had used a walking foot, I hadn’t completely explored this way of quilting before . I got ideas from 2 books.

Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. Walk: Master machine Quilting with your walking foot by Jacquie Gering. Both are excellent guides but I found the Jacquie Gering, the most useful.

It was definitely a challenge getting a large quilt through my machine throat, a Juki DX7 but I did it!

Finished block from design of tumbling Blocks. Quilting done by walking foot

I have not done life drawing for several years because there isn’t much available in the area. Also, the one place where they have regular sessions has no natural light. Artificial lights flatten out the shadows and forms I find, plus, I like real light. I should add I am very reluctant to go out most days and the older I get, the worse I get. Regardless, I am always up to a challenge!

Through a friend on Instagram, I was able to join a zoom group for life drawing. It was hosted by the Hackney Wick Life drawing group based in London (@hwlifedrawing ). I enjoyed it most of the time. I am not the best student for life drawing. I get very frustrated with my lack of ability. The models were very patient with all the instructions as they posed. Some could keep very still and others couldn’t stop moving! I am not good with moving subjects, so that was a challenge. Also the models were based in their own space which were either cramped or the light was poor. In one instance, the model almost completely disappeared as the sun when down.

The other things have been exploring are videos on Youtube. Many have been how to videos but I have also been enjoying all the art history videos that are available. At the moment, I am watching a series of videos called Perspective. These written and led by British art historian Waldemar Januszczak. He makes me dizzy with all his rushing around from one painting to another. His presentation though is very informative and absorbing.

I have also watched lectures by the National Gallery in London done before the pandemic hit. “Travels with a curator”, led by Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon of the Frick Collection is also very informative and interesting.

By time the pandemic finished, my art history should be pretty well rounded if I can remember any of it!

Am I a artist, a quilter or a Hobbyist?

Post from my Wix website which I could never really get going. Decided to transfer back to this website. Posted on May 20th 2020.

I will admit I have been avoiding working on this new site as it scares me as it seems more professional than WordPress. With this lockdown, I have no excuse not to learn how to use it! As the numbers in Texas are still rising, I will not be socialising for while yet.
Today I listened to a podcast for quilters which was on the subject of whether you are an artist or a quilter? Podcast is “Quilt and Tell”. In most cases, that would be considered a simple answer as most quilters,I know, follow a pattern to make the quilt top and then pass it on to a person to quilt the top on a specialty quilting machine called a long arm quilting machine which can do free motion stitching or computer created stitching .
However, there are is whole army of people who quilt who I would call artists. They tend to make wall hangings and are just as varied in their subject matter as any other art form. I went to the Modern Quilt convention held in Austin Feb 2020 and was blown away by the amount of art I saw there. It was inspiring and to be honest, quite daunting.

Where to now by Rima Trew.About the Zimbabwe elections in 2018 where 6 people were shot dead by government troops. The 7th dot represents the death of democracy.

Our House is on Fire by the Field Trip Quilters This about climate change and inspired by Greta Thunberg.

No-one is Free by the Portland Modern Quilt Guild.This was in response to the Trump era of locking up and deporting children seeking asylum in the USA. The words are by MLK.

Gateway by Debbie Grifken, Ann Arbor MI.This was inspired by a photograph of some rustic fencing at the Palace of Versailles. I love the fact that with all the gaudy beauty of this enormous palace, the artist was inspired by some old fencing that surrounded the ‘outdoor’ rooms in the garden. A gateway to mystery and intrigue.

I started quilting a brief year ago after going to quilts shows since I first moved to Texas in 2000 and I have a long way to go before I am at that level of professional work. At the moment I am working on a quilt top I made in a class last year. It sort of follows a pattern in that you take 2 x 12″ squares, cut them up , make them into 2 different blocks. Repeat for however many blocks you want to make. Mine is 4 blocks a row x 6 and is called Happy Blocks.

And that is the beauty of quilting, you may be working on the same design concept as the person next to you but it will never be the same as the fabric and size of block choice comes into play. Below is a quilt made in the same way as mine above. Chalk and cheese!

Do I consider it art though, no, its definitely a craft unlike the art quilts I saw at Quiltcon.
Definition of craft: skill in making things especially with the hands. 2 : an occupation or trade requiring skill with the hands or as an artist. So a painter could technically be called a craft person but I suspect most would reject that definition.
I have made a few small wall hanging over the year as I progressed with learning to quilt. This is the reason I got into quilts as I saw it as way of displaying some work I had made a few years back. These I would consider art, not craft, as they are all individual and unique but then each quilt I have made has also been individual and unique to me, so where is the divide? In my mind, basically!
Definition of an artist:

1a: one who professes and practices an imaginative art

b: a person skilled in one of the fine arts

So what am I? An artist or a quilter? Apparently one of the presenters was told if they hadn’t sold anything, then they weren’t an artist. That seems like a pretty narrow definition and would mean that Van Gogh wasn’t an artist. I liked the end of the discussion where one of the guests said they were neither a quilter or artist but a creative!
I would add the word Hobbyist as well. Definition: an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: I might well come into that category as I swing from painting, embroidery, bead embroidery and now quilting, next year I might try my hand at sculpting again! Anything that will convey what I want to express artistically, but it has never been my main occupation. That has been Mother, trailing spouse, Grandmother and wife. However, I strive to be recognised for my work without success as I have regularly posted images of my work on various social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. I have my own domain name and write infrequent blogs on my art work

Saturday Morning Classes at Camberwell school of art and Crafts

Just before I left Greycoats I started to go to the Saturday morning classes provided by Camberwell School of Art and Crafts. I began in the life drawing class and in the final 6 months, I did a sculpture class. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the portrait head I made but for years my parents proudly had it on display in their house. It really was not that good but at least my parents’ like it ūüėä

Model at Camberwell Saturday class

The above drawing is the one that made me decide I was good enough to try to get onto the foundation course at Camberwell, if I could somehow persuade my parents. By that point, I was already in a secure office job as a statistical clerk with Watneys. I was also doing my ‘A’ levels at night school after work. A new Principal had been appointed to the college, Ian Tregarthen Jenkins. He was doing a tour of the Saturday morning classes and he actually spoke to me. He asked me how I had decided to deal with the heater in front of the the model. I forget what I told him but he congratulated me on the way I dealt with it and hope I would apply to the foundation course in the future. Oh wow, to be singled out by the new Principal was amazing to me. My confidence soared!

Looking at it now, it wasn’t that great a drawing but it will always be special for just that reason.

The Saturday morning classes were great for me. I had never really considered a career in art before I started attending these. I was the eldest in the family and neither of my parents went to college, so they didn’t really know that much about college or university, other than it cost a lot of money, (not as much as now). Actually it was wasn’t that onerous, as the cost was nothing and I got a small grant to live on with the addition of ¬£5 a week from my parents. Plus once I got to art college, I was entitle to a certain sum for materials. I would never have gone to art college if those things weren’t available.ūüėí

I also started to sketch at home and my sister, Debra was a willing model for me.

I should have stopped going to the classes when I was made to leave school and start work but fortunately, for reasons I don’t remember, I was able to continue. When it came to the time to apply for the foundation course, my tutors at Camberwell came to my parents and persuaded them that I had a good chance of being accepted and going on for a degree. My parents quite rightly were worried that I would be forever unemployed if I went to Art college. My parents weren’t far off the mark to be honest as I never made a career out of my art but I am forever grateful that they listened to my tutors.

I was not a child prodigy Ha Ha

As promised I am posting some images from my earliest days which happens to be from when I was at secondary school in London.

I first started to become interested in art when I was at St Michael’s Church of England school. I joined the school in 1970 when we moved back to London from Ashford Kent. As I hadn’t passed the 11 plus exam, I had the choice of the brand new school, Pimlico Comprehensive or a much smaller school. Comprehensives weren’t getting any good publicity at the time so Mum chose the C of E school. Big mistake as it was one of the schools which were later referred to as a ‘sink school’, massively underachieving.

I had come from a really good secondary school in Kent (also brand new) where science and art were treated equally. Unfortunately, the lower ratings of school became which was the way St Michael’s was going, the less money was expended on it, so science went by the way. By the time I left in 1973, we had one science teacher for the whole school and his special subject was physics. To do physics, you need a good basic math background. Unfortunately, we ended up with a teacher who didn’t want to teach maths but torment kids, especially boys. So while he would humiliate them, we would chat, play and copy the answers from the back of the workbook. To be honest I would have preferred a career in science and even visited the lab at a hospital as I was interested in becoming a Medical Laboratory Assistant. It was not to be. I got a grade 5 in Physics and a 3 in Maths (if I remember correctly). There was no fail in CSEs (certificate in secondary education). Pointless piece of paper!

Instead I fell into art. Even then, as the school only offered CSE, the consolation prize in school exams, the standard wasn’t that high. Due to some timetable conflict, I ended up doing a class with lower year. So I was in a corner, quietly getting on with my work while the class was creating havoc with the art teacher who was an ex military person and had no idea how to control riotous teenagers. I remember him one time, getting so angry he threw something out of the school window. His basic standard was to yell at them as if they were soldiers.

At least, he just let me just get on with my work. My big project was about abortion and the sanctity of life. I created a Plasticine model of the lower part of a woman with the area where the baby was situated, craved out and then I created a fetus.

I was very confused at the time as I had just learnt my mother had another child before me and had him adopted. She made it clear she blamed me for that event. I would later learn the truth of the situation and it was somewhat different from the story I had been given. She had also revealed when she was pregnant with my sister, who is 13 months younger than me, she tried to abort her several times That was going to lead to years of anguish on my part and my sister. Now in reflection, I can see how much my mother suffered. 3 pregnancies in 3 yrs, she was must have been going out of her mind. My Dad was in the navy and his family was not very supportive at the time, although they later became very close. This was well before the pill and her own Mother was going through her own issues with a husband who was suffering from PTSD although it wasn’t known as that then and terminal TB, so was of no help to her. If Mum had been born a decade later, I am not sure she would have gone on to have 2 more kids as she was much more career minded than I ever was. I suspect for most of her 20’s she was suffering from some form of post natal depression. Of course, yet again, that wasn’t known about for many years after that.

Abortion, although legal by 1973, was still a controversial option especially with the publication of photos of the fetus in the womb in the late 60’s. I am not sure what the art teacher thought of my ‘sculpture’ but he never stopped me. I am not sure what I was trying to convey now as I am not against abortion, far from it but maybe at that time I was. I definitely a confused 15 yr old. For my efforts I got a grade 2. So not a prodigy!ūüėāūü§£


I don’t have any pictures of my grand project but I do have these from that year.

Sewing was my nightmare subject at school plus music. Both for different reasons. Music lessons were just a period where everyone ignored the teacher, walked in and out at will and basically we did anything but music. The teacher in sewing however was no walkover and most of us were scared of her. Not sure why I never learnt to sew given it one of my passions now but I still cannot understand patterns or those diagrams we get in the instruction booklets. Just had to take my sewing machine to the repairs because I misread a diagram in the instruction booklet.ūüėĮ Much better with videos. I was also scared of the sewing machine. Most machines scare me, especially power tools, even now. Fortunately, I have got over my fear of the sewing machine.

However, I did learn to embroider in her class. I had seen a magazine with the design and that was my project in my last year of sewing which was 1972 as I didn’t do the CSE in that. As the rest of the class got on with making various useful items like a blouse or a skirt, I concentrated on my embroidery. I must have been proud of it as I still have have it in the bottom of my stash.


Never thought 47 yrs later, one of my passions would be embroidery.

In August 1973, I started at Greycoats Hospital, the local grammar school in the hope I would get my O levels and maybe A levels. It was obvious from day one, my previous education had been woefully inadequate. As as consequent, no math or science classes as I was so far behind in even the basics. English was a struggle as grammar was not taught at St Michaels , my spelling was appalling (still is) and I suspect I was the first person in the school to fail my oral exam! However the English teacher, Miss Lloyd had great faith in me and encouraged my ramblings, a couple of which I still have in one of my many boxes.

I was put in the secretarial class, so at least I learnt to type properly however as I had no idea how phonetics worked, Pittman’s shorthand was a non starter for me. I was also put in the sewing class. I was useless at it! Art was my one bright spot. ūüėäūüėć

The art department had an arrangement with Camberwell school of art where promising students could attend classes on Saturday morning. That was the beginning of my life in art. In the next blog I will post work from the Saturday morning classes and my some of my work from my Foundation year at Camberwell.

In the meantime, some of the work from Greycoats.

I was a huge David Bowie fan at the time and this was the based on a poster I had. My sister was a T Rex fan. I thought they were rubbish at the time. Now I like both.

I was a big soccer fan at the time and this was a drawing of a player in the newspaper. Can’t remember his name now but think it was Allan Clarke
part of my O level exam. We were given objects for a still life. This was done with those horrible school paints they had then.

I will be back in the New Year

Just a quick post to say I will be back in the New Year after an 18 month break.

My plans for the blog are that I will continue to  add what I am working on as I do them but in the main it will become focused on my life as as artist, beginning with my first embroidery which, in a sense, makes a full circle of my work so far. A biography in other words as no one else is going to write it.  I will be honest, its only recently that I have used the word ‘artist’ for myself as I make no attempt to sell my work or show my work other than via this blog and Instagram. It seemed too grand a title for what has been a rather stop start stop approach to my work.  There were years, especially when my kids were younger that I didn’t do anything creative other than paint kids faces or make birthday cakes.  Art has always been part of my life though, so I thought I should record its progress from its earliest days when I didn’t even know that being an artist was possible, through the college years, etc to present day. Turning 60 in August 2017, really was a turning point, although life does intrude, as it always will.  Now though, I am accepting that and hoping I can get another good 20 yr or so, just enjoying what I do. 

2018 was productive in the sense I realised that I needed to stop putting on pressure on myself for not being ‘productive’. ie not painting. I took an almost complete break from painting and plein air painting. Instead I focused on what I enjoyed doing which at the moment,is learning to quilt and free motion quilting. I am sure it will eventually tie in with my other creative practices.  Until I actually learn how to do it properly though, quilting is what I am focused on.  I am also going to do a class (with actual people) on how to dye my own fabric in March.  I did a bit of that when I attempted the online course in 2016 and did some mono printing. From that I learnt online courses are not really my ‘thing’ and that I enjoyed making my own cloth. Youtube, however, is a great way of learning all sorts of stuff! I am also going to do a couple of quilting classes from the experts at one of the local quilting stores. 
Keep tuned. Hoping to make this a regular thing this year. 

learning to free motion quilt via Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt-As-You-Go Sampler Quilt which you can find on Youtube.

Depression, anxiety and art

Many people seem to think that anxiety, depression and art go together as an artist and that aids the creative process. For me, that is not the case. My mind comes to a grinding halt! As a life long sufferer of depression and anxiety, I can now feel when a period like that is coming along and usually I can mange to side swerve the worse of it by doing very routine things by just plodding along. Not this time!  It has taken almost 8 months to get pass this stage and it is still a struggle but one that is getting better. Unfortunately, I am not yet back to painting.  For the last 2 weeks my body has also decided to rebel against me as I battle a vicious allergic reaction which has left me with nasty welts all over my body and clothing being my enemy. As we are also going through a heatwave at the moment,  so any movement causes sweating which in turns makes the itching even worse. So plenty of cool soothing baths, showers and just keeping still has been the order of the day. Today temperature is meant to top 105F/40c. the joys of living in central Texas!

However, I have finally been making process with the online embroidery course I decided to take in December. It took me 6 months to get the first stage complete!  I have almost finished the 2nd part in less than a month so signs of progress only stopped this week by incessant itching.

Below are some of  the work I have done on this.  Part one  exploring stem stitch , chain stitch and fern stitch beginning with mark making exercises.

Part 2 has been been exploring line though using cut, torn and folding paper.

Finally line in paint through mono printing which amazingly I have never tried before. Not sure I have achieved this so well but I enjoyed the playfulness of this method of working and can see using this again.

Unfortunately I think this is where I acquired up my current allergic reaction as I pick up some plant matter and I suspect I touched some poison ivy in the process, stupid me!

Next step is explore the composite stitches of whipped stem stitch, Pekinese stitch and raised chain band. I have completed the samples so they should come along quite quickly but we have a short stay in Mexico City to enjoy before then. Really looking forward to the Frida Kahlo Museum and obviously I will be looking at any needlework/textile work I get my greedy eyes on.

Painting is also on my agenda but not a priority as it will come along when it is needed but it has not been abandoned. It will always be part of my life in some form or another.

I have done one drawing in the past month or so. I got a sheet of A1 cartridge paper and painted it with acrylic  gesso with no real idea of what I was going to do with it, other than I didn’t want it to be the tight smaller drawings I was doing last year as I wanted to get rid of the inhibitions to drawing that I have developed. For the one drawing it worked out quite well and I planned to do more ( I already have several prepared with gesso) but then the embroidery came along. As I have about 500 or more sheets (send to me by mistake by the supplier and they let me keep them several years ago, nice  ūüôā ) , it is definitely something to explore in the coming months.


last post of 2016

I ¬†re-joined Instagram last year ¬†and posted a countdown to Christmas, a digital advent calendar. So I thought I would do a repeat performance this year. ¬†I was going to try to do an original piece of art for each day but I failed on the first day. The simple felt angel expanded into a piece that was at least 3 times bigger, sparkling with sequins, lace ¬†and ¬†beads. In my mind’s eye, I would have liked to have made it huge but in practice, a lap size was achievable. The 2nd piece was simpler but just as big. I did find out that my ability with the sewing machine was seriously lacking with not a single ¬†non wiggling line. ¬†With the third and last piece, I just went overboard with the sequins, beads and collage. In my head, I saw a Christmas tree competing with the stars of the Universe as I remembered my feelings from childhood. Again I would love to have made it HUGE but even this size took several days to complete.¬†The Christmas tree and the Angels WERE Christmas to me plus the nativity scene at the school play. I always wanted to be an angel but alas it was never to be. I was going to do a nativity scene but failed miserably but I know what I want to achieve so maybe that will be big one next year! ¬†Below are the pictures I posted each day. It was surprisingly hard to post every day.

In the end, December wasn’t as productive as I would have like it. October and November flew by in haze of non activity or nearly. I managed to attend 4 paint out events and 1 open competition in San Angelo. I wasn’t planning to paint at San Angelo as I am not really in the competitions as I know I am unlikely to win anything. I realised quite late in life that one of the reasons I fail to do a lot of things is because I hate being a loser. I know you should just enjoy joining in but doesn’t help with the disappointment as you are passed over again ūüė¶ ¬†I will do it again next year.

My entry.

There was an entry submitted competition which lasted a week and an open quick draw competition on the closing Saturday for other artists.  It was really interesting to see the work of the accepted artists and the quick draw contestants which made me realise how far I have to go with plein air painting. The only issue I had with the competition is that it was judged by one artist, rather than a panel.  Also after a morning of painting the lure of cooked food was torture as it was only for the accepted competition artists, not us lowly plebs (we had paid $10, so it not as if we just turned up). We had to wait for the lone judge to make up his mind before we could eat, so it was the middle of the afternoon before we ate. I was starving!

Apart from my Advent project and the plein air I haven’t really done much. I had started a still life ¬†(which I mentioned in my last post) but quickly abandoned it. ¬†Currently I am working on and hoping to complete the following still life painting ¬†I found the hand-made rag doll in a junk shop in San Angelo.


This will be the last painting for a while as I decided to sign up for an online embroidery course organised by The Embroiderers’ Guild UK. ¬†I am going to start with the beginners course as although I have embroidered and beaded for several years, I am basically working in the dark as I do it (much as I am with painting to be honest, not a lot of teaching done in college in the late 70’s). I thought going through a structured course I might be able to extend my range to fuller extend. Life is a little distracting at home at the moment but come 6th Jan, my time is pretty much going to be ¬†working full-time in this new direction.

I also got 2 books from Gordon this Christmas which I might work through as it should complement the embroidery course.

I already read Liz Steel’s blog ( my husband didn’t know this ūüôā )

Well this is my last post of this year.  I hope I will be more frequent next year with regular updates on my progress on the new course.

Happy 2017 (if that is possible) 

End of very bad year but I suspect it will only get worse for 2017.

an old picture when I was more creative

So the end of the year is fast approaching and its been 3 months since I wrote on here. Unfortunately that depression just got worse as the months went by as it became apparent and then confirmed that Donald Trump was going to win the Presidency ūüė¶

I will admit that shook me to my core. I have lived in the US for nearly 17 yrs now but I have very little contact with other Americans but listening to the folks I do know, it seemed that although they wouldn’t vote for Clinton, they wouldn’t vote for Trump either. Living in Texas, you know most people will vote republican and they would vote down ballot as republican but Trump was just a step too far. They would leave that blank. So I thought it would be close and Clinton might squeak in. I wasn’t convinced she was well, health wise (even before her collapse) , so although she was a flawed candidate ¬†who would be subject to intense house battles, if she died in office, they had an OK VP in Tim Kaine. In the last weeks of the campaign it seemed to reverse, Trump might sneak at least a tie in the electoral college . But it was not a tie or even just a small electoral college win but a large win ¬†ūüė¶ although he massively lost the popular vote. ¬†Since then his actions via twitter and his cabinet picks have done nothing to allay my fears for the future.

Unfortunately, the Democrats still don’t seem to realise they lost because of Clinton, who for some reason the American public don’t like ( its been a hateful relationship since before she was even first Lady it seems and nothing she did was right for some reason, I don’t understand it myself). However, for an outsider (I was in the UK during the Clinton yrs) it was pretty obvious Clinton was not liked even during the non campaigning years ( 2012 -2014) ¬†or she would have beaten Obama 8 yrs ago but the DNC seemed to think it was her ‘turn’ by rights. There are no options like that in politics, Gordon Brown found that out in the UK. You are a winner or a loser but not an heir apparent. Obviously the FBI actions and the Russians had a hand in it but she had lost months before when it was revealed the DNC had contrived to have her win the ¬†nomination, making it obvious to any other candidates they would not get their support regardless of how good they might have been. ¬†In re-electing Nancy Pelosi ¬†minority leader of the House of Representatives, its obvious they don’t know what to do still and will now probably ¬†follow the path of the UK Labour party’s downfall in the UK, where they seem to be in complete disarray despite a very weak Tory party.

Of course my personal bug bear, is Julian Assange. I hope he is happy because he will most definitely be stuck in that room for the next 4 yrs because Trump will definitely have him arrested if he leaves that building. He is a despicable human being in my eyes and deserves everything he gets. He might have started out with admirable intent (not convinced of that) but he has definitely warped into something else now.

My biggest disappointment is that someone like Trump got elected in the first place. Although he didn’t win the popular vote, a sizable number people did believe in his overwhelmingly hateful message, there was nothing positive about his platform. ¬†I felt the same about the Brexit vote although I could see why British people felt overwhelm by the immigration issue. ¬†This country is based on immigration! Trump’s parents were the result of that policy! His mother was Scottish for heaven’s sake and his both of his grandparents were German! ¬†Of course, his campaign has revealed the not too underground current of racism in this country.

Anyway, that view from here. To be honest, the UK doesn’t look any better and its dog eat dog time in the world. Very depressing. ¬†I would like to bury my head in the sand for the next few years but that would be irresponsible. I will just keep my fingers crossed that things aren’t as bleak as they currently look.

My next blog will be pictures (that had been my intention) I promise and I will be more upbeat!

inspiration lost

This is not going to be long post as basically I have not done much in the 2 month since I last wrote – exactly 2 months wow!

There is a paint out today in Austin but there is no way I am facing rush hour traffic plus my allergies have been really bad recently. However, apart from the allergies problem, which has plaguing me about 4 weeks now, I seem to have entered one of my depression periods where nothing interests me.

So I am glad we have these paint outs as I generally push myself to go along even I don’t feel that creative. I also try to find other ways to work my way through these periods as I recognise they are part of my life and they are not going away. This time I have rediscovered crocheting and I am currently on block 18 of a 63 block blanket. I am also still attending the lace making group even though I have not really laced for weeks, ¬†as one of my issues is a total lack of social interaction. Nothing like being on your own 15 hrs of a day to feed this introspection/depression.

It might never get finished (I have tried it before and got to 9 squares) as I am also working getting out of this inaction. I am again trying mediation and I ¬†am already feeling more positive. ¬†I am also rereading ¬†Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and stories. Its a massive book! I don’t plan to actually depict any of the stories but when I was training as art therapist, I had a series of children’s story tapes which I used to get clients to describe by drawing or painting how the story affected them.I didn’t want a literal interpretation of the story.

I am also sort of working on a still life painting except I haven’t worked on it for a few weeks which probably indicates that I should reconsider or start over with a different set up.

Depression is a routine part of my life but I don’t want to be painting about it! ¬†So hopefully the light begins to rise above the dark soon.

Bobbin Lace

Has taken over my creative juices it seems which means I haven’t actually been painting as I intended this month. Its already 21st July and I have done exactly 1 painting plus started a fabric/paper collage to cover a painting that went no-where in June. Like the painting, that has been on my easel for a good 2 weeks waiting for inspiration!

above are my bobbin lacing efforts for the last month. The pink and cream one took for ever with numerous unpickings. However since that one, I seem to have at least mastered the basic stitches.One of the things that made it easier was actually learning to understand the pattern diagram which is to the left of bookmarks. However most patterns/prickings apparently are not as detailed with most being a series of dots and squiggles to indicate the pattern. If I can master that I will be an expert!  My next one is a fan edge in one colour which will be a challenge as it will not be so easy to see the mistakes.

This is what I aiming for, particularly freeform bobbin lace like the dog above.Examples from the lacing group I attend.

These are my two efforts for the month when I was not lacing.  I really want to master water colour but I think I need to get the lacing bug out of my system for the time being.

I haven’t done any plein air work recently. ¬†Due to grass watering ¬†and dog walking, its about 11am before I am even ready to consider painting and the weather the last month has just been too hot by that time to be outside. Although there have only been 11 days of 100f/38c so far, the heat index due to the humidity has be well above 100f since the middle of June. It currently 12.10 pm and already at 100 but feels like 107f (42c)We have another month or so of these temps so I don’t see me going out to paint in the near future. ¬†By then, I am sure my current enthusiasm for bobbin lace will have dissipated a little and I will welcome the chance to paint out in the cool below 80f temps.

That’s all for this month!

June 2016 – gone in a blur

Well, not much has changed since I last wrote other than I have started to learn how to make bobbin lace. For something that has two basic moves Full stitch and half stitch, its surprisingly difficult.  Not sure where it going to take me, if anywhere, yet but I am enjoying learning how to do it, even if it frustrating how slow my brain is these days.

This has taken up most of my time and to be honest, I am still suffering from a creativity block . So I have decided to take it by the horns and make myself produce something everyday for July. I am planning to use the paintings I have done recently at the plein air group and use them as a starting block using various mixed media. I am not going to make the mistake of deciding exactly how that is going to work as I think that was my mistake with the last piece I made

Lastly my sweet Mo went for her final sleep on Friday. She was a very sweet cat who gave us years of loving attention. Unfortunately her last years were blighted by uncurable IBS and she went from a sturdy cat to a very frail 5lb cat. We will miss you Mo.

And the struggle continues

and I don’t know why.

I have lost all enthusiasm for everything. Working in the studio is a chore. I walk with my son’s dog in the morning and see some beautiful wild flowers. I think I really should paint or draw these beauties but by the time I get back home, that desire has gone. It hasn’t helped that there has been torrential rain for the last 10 days but there have been sunny days, it wouldn’t be Texas otherwise, so I have no excuse for not going out.

I have attended a couple of paint outs with the Austin group since I last wrote.



The above was done at Georgetown, a small town about 15 miles north of Pflugerville. ¬†It was organised by the local historical society and there was a little art show a week later to display everyone’s effort. I have shown my work exactly once in public, so I wasn’t too sure about doing it again. But as it was an important show for the group (good advertisement for them), so I decided to participate. There were about 25 pieces in all and I think about 75% were sold, there was one display ¬†unit that was completely sold. I must admit to feeling disappointed there was no red dot by my piece and I suspect this is the reason for my reluctant to show work (apart from laziness, of course). The fear, it wont be liked. Much as I can say, like I did to my son at the weekend, I don’t care what people think, deep down, of course I do.

My last effort to paint was at Mayfield park near the centre of Austin, another paint out with the group. It was mobbed with families and one time I had to stop a child from dipping their fingers into the paint! In the background were loud booms from explosions and artillery fire as they were re-staging an war time event at the Camp Mabry which is less than a¬†¬ľ mile from the park. Also in the back ground were peacocks who shrilled loudly every time ¬†there was an explosion or burst of artillery was fired . All in all, not the best place to paint. I failed miserably. I went back on the Tuesday before the rain arrived ¬†but I only made the painting worse! ¬†I don’t think I ¬†could be an urban sketcher/painter somehow, I would get too distracted!

this was after I went back and I still couldn’t cope with it.
I couldn’t and I can’t cope with all the different foliage that was there, plus my scale was off. I had made the archway too narrow.

The main project I have worked on since I last wrote, is a mixed media work based on a photo I took when I was in France last year. ¬†In theory I had plenty of time to sketch while I was in France and it probably would have been a welcome relief to all the house clearing and visiting of my parents. But I didn’t so, in the week Gordon was there, I decided to take random photos of the countryside as we drove between the nursing home and the recycling dump with the intention to use them some way in my art.

So its all a distance memory now and to be honest, one that I am quite willing to consign to history as it was not a good time.

I started with a small painting as this was basically an experiment as I had a kernel of idea as I scanned in all the old photos my parents had.


I then embroidered extensively over all over the surface. I could have gone on and on to be honest but I got to the stage where I needed to experiment.

this was after I went back and I still couldn’t cope with it.
I placed a large piece of cheesecloth(scrim in the UK) over the whole canvas and attempted to needle felt over the embroidery. It was not a success!   I had tried a smaller area on the red house and road way when I realised the canvas was too thin for the process, so I had added a large piece of black felt on the back. as I embroidered the rest of the piece.


Not a great idea. The felt was a good idea but not in black as it started  to show through to the front. Unfortunately the cheesecloth was not a great fabric to use with  needle felting machine as the needles were getting caught up and snapping. I probably went through about 25 needles just to get this small piece done and as I envision a much larger work, I will need to go back to the drawing board

Although I am probably finished with this particular piece, I am going to do one more process to it. Put it in the washing machine when I do my next load of washing.  It will have to go with a dark load as no doubt the red will run ( the colours from experience are no colour fast). It will wreck it but I will be interested to see how it turns out. Maybe I can work on it further once that process is done.

So that has been my month, not a great one. I am unsure of where I am going next. I should probably give up this blogging and Instagram as I see so much good work on both platforms, so it is making me insecure in my own work. Maybe I am just trying too hard and I should stick to painting. I had a total of 15 visitors on this blog last month and my daily average is 1.6 (255 visitors for the year, so my viewers are disappearing as the months go by), so I am basically ¬†writing into thin air However, I have been doing this for so many years now, its hard to give up and really I write to remind myself to what I was thinking/feeling over the years. I have definitely developed an addiction to Instagram. Not a good thing as it only makes me hanker for things that I are beyond my scope. Makes yearn for London, Glasgow, big cities,art and not my 4 walls. Need to visit the Blanton again, been years since I have been there. I doubt much as changed though ūüė¶

My Instagram page – Jacqui Boyd Alden



I am struggling at the moment. Ever since returning from London which is about 5 weeks now, I have been dithering.

In the hope things would begin to gel in my mind with some reflection as I made stitches, I restarted an embroidery I began a few years ago which was part of the TAST challenge where a single embroidery stitch was explore on a weekly basis. To be honest the reason it was not finished in the first place was because I was not happy with it as it had no direction. So do a directionless piece to find a direction was probably not a good move. 12599325_1739523556294950_1477811889_n

I have done a couple of paint outs with the Austin Plein Air Group¬† over the past month which I have really enjoyed. It helps the weather has been not be hot so far this year, staying in the ¬†high 70’s and low 80’s (25c -29c).The more I paint on the spot, the easier it gets but I have still got a long way to go before I will feel confident doing it. I really need to go out and draw more, like I did last year.

As I have somewhat arbitrarily decided to go back to the fiber side of my art, I decided I have to learn more about the process. So I purchased 3 dvds by 2 great fiber artists, In Motion, In Stitches and In Motion where Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn guide viewers through various ways of using new modern products with traditional and non traditional embroidery methods. Their sketch books were amazing and I would love to just see a DVD of them sketching.

I made the following piece using one of their methods.


At the moment I have no idea what to with it but I love the fragile lace like quality of the fabric I  made.

So that brings me up to date. In the meantime I have rearranged my art room yet again. I do this when I am struggling with my creativity.  It is now very well organised for a few more months. I have also taken down all the old painting I had on my walls I read somewhere that having old work around stifle your creativity. We will see

Daisy the cat exploring her new space

The fabric in the picture is what I am toying with at the moment. I am considering going way back to to my beaded dolls but this one would be more sculptural and my other line of thinking is clowns. All whirling around in my head at the moment and no firm ideas.

the desk where I am currently sitting. No horrible drop sheet on the floor anymore.

Trip to London

I started this blog post about 2 weeks ago and never got around to finishing it. Text in blue will be start from 2 weeks ago and the rest now.


view of Oxford Street from bus. London always busy.

Well, I have not done much ¬†since my last post as I flew to London to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday. ¬†This time last year, we didn’t even know if he would survive the week, much less to his 80th Birthday as he had a huge stroke. Thankfully he survived and it was so good to see him looking healthy and happy.

It was pretty much a last minute decision to go and I had no real plans other than to visit my Dad and Mum plus meet up with a good friend. It was by oft chance that I spotted that Eileen Cooper¬†had a new show opening the day after I arrived in London. Definitely not an opportunity to miss ūüôā

Before I went to Rook and Raven Gallery  I had arranged to meet a good blogger friend and we saw the Botticelli show at the V&A. I am not sure I am a fan of his work in general  but it was an interesting spin of his work, with modern day and Victorian interpretations of his famous themes. A lot of Venus.  Before meeting up with Heather I had a brief visit to some of the other galleries in the V&A 

I love medieval altar pieces 

After an enjoyable lunch with Heather I went to the Rook and Raven gallery. It appeared to closed but it said to ring a bell if the door was locked. So I did. This was pretty amazing for me as I have a fear of private art galleries, especially West End ones, so ringing that bell was a huge step for me. Turned out the show started with an opening reception that night but the lady who opened the door who happened to be the curator of the show was kind enough to let me in.   We had a good conversation about the work, how it came about and how they had decided to hang the work.

The official opening was in the evening, so I returned, I admit, in the hope I would meet the artist. She actually remember me which is amazing as we have only met in person once and that was in 2007! I have a terrible time with remembering names or faces, so I did not say anything to the curator who having looked her up on the internet appears to have Aretha Campbell. She was really busy anyway. She must have thought I was terribly rude but better than saying ‘thanks for the talk this afternoon’ to a complete stranger! ¬†Apart from the artist, I didn’t know one other person so I imagine I stuck out like a sore thumb as most people seemed to talking in groups rather than looking at the art work. ¬†Again unlike my usual self, I suddenly found myself talking to a complete stranger who turned out to be Scottish artist¬†June Redfern with her partner. I was drawn to them as I recognised June’s Scottish accent. ¬†I didn’t know June’s work but I had heard of her ( I must have seen something in the Scottish papers when I lived there).¬†

As to the work itself, I was bowled over by it. I have been a fan of Eileen Cooper’s work since about 1987 when I saw an article about her in the Artist and Illustrators magazine. This new work has such vibrancy in it and the colours were so rich. ¬†It seems like she has had a rebirth of joy and love in her work as the last few years the work seems to have been about anxiety and lost. ¬†I wish I could own at least one of these works and if I had to chose it would be the star of the show – love in Idleness. ¬†However, a late addition to the show were 2 lino prints¬†which were amazing and I wouldn’t mind having one of those on my wall. They were big though, especially for a lino-cut.

Unfortunately that was the last art I saw during the trip but it just makes me hungry to visit the UK again.  Next time I will write about the work I have done since the trip and where I am hoping to go with it.   

Finally finished December BJP 2010


this is the last in this series of works which I started in 2010. ¬†I ended up with bead fatigue about the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 with 3 pieces to complete. ¬†I restarted this project late last year. ¬†This is not a good photo of this piece and it is an issue that has frustrated me for a while. My photography skills are not that good but the one thing that really was really frustrating me were the reds in this piece. To get the red not to be too bright, the blue has become to bright. Its something I really need to work at. At the moment I am using my husband’s ¬†Olympus stylus sh-1¬†

Anyway, yesterday I decided to go down to the local camera camera shop, rather than just relying on the reviews on Amazon or the paltry selection available at the local Best Buy, Target or Frys. ¬†It seems red/orange is a very difficult colour to capture but the guy did give me a couple of useful tips about using a reflector shade and grey card to set the white balance. ¬†I looked up the camera recommended – Panasonic lumix zs-45¬†However, looking it up on Amazon – (1) it was about $100 cheaper than the shop price and the reviews were not good. Admittedly, I did say to the guy I was mainly a hobbyist who posted pictures to FB, instagram and this blog, so he probably thought I didn’t want to spend too much on a camera.He did suggest going back with the image I was trying to photo with an sd card so I could try out a couple of cameras . So hopefully the weather will brighten up tomorrow and I will try them out. I am going to charge up my husband’s Nikon D500 camera and see what I can do with that. I will check the prices on Amazon before I buy though as a $100 difference is quite a lot on what appears to be a basic digital camera. I am prepared to pay more for the opportunity of trying out the cameras but not that much.


I  was pleased with see all the pictures up on my upstairs room (its meant to be a games room but no-one play any games there)  I decided to mount all the works on a 20 x 16 artist canvas (cheap ones from Hobby lobby) and paint an acrylic background dependent on the piece of work. Eventually I will add a simple black fame and glass to protect them from dust.

Now I need to think about what I will do next. I have a mountain of fabric, a ton of beads and plenty of thread but inspiration has not hit me yet. I have thought of using my sketches and paintings from the past year but I will need to get them together and think about it.

Until then I have a plein air outing on Saturday assuming the rain has gone by then. Fortunately nothing was planned today.







Plein Air Austin group at 43rd Street

Much of the beginning of the month was not very creative as I was scanning in old photos for my Dad as an aid for his speech therapy. It was good to look at all the old photos especially of my Grand-parents as they have been gone for a long time now and all we have are memories. But we are luckier than other generations because we have all these wonderful photos. I wish I had photos of my great grandparents as well.

This morning I joined up up with a group of like minded artists and sketched on a busy street in Austin in an area called Hyde Park. It still has some character which is sadly disappearing as Austin gets larger by the day.

I am not use to this type of working and it is daunting to working out in the public but it was surprising how easy it was to forget about all the people milling around as I struggled to work out what I was doing.  It was a bit like doing a puzzle.



I started by putting down an acrylic under-painting. I had forgotten to pack my pencils so did a very quick pen outline before I started. I knew from the beginning I just wanted to concentrate on the shapes and colours, so I kept it very loose. I ended working on it for an hr and 40 mins.

Working outside is still very much a work in progress. I am still overwhelm with all the information that is in front of me which was pretty obvious as I worked on this. It was like working on a jigsaw puzzle. You put down one mark and then as you work, it is obvious that previous mark is in the wrong place.  The light today was also not the best with a grey drizzle which flatten out everything. If I had been painting this yesterday, the building would have had clearly delineated sides. Today, there was barely a colour shift on the top part of the building.

end piece

By the time we left the place was really getting busy with the lunchtime crowd as there were about 4 restaurants in the immediate area and the red car had left a good while before.

So now I have to figure out how this practice is going to work into the direction I am working at home. At the moment, I am still working on the bjp project but that should be finished by the end of this week (end of Feb) and then I am going to start a felt project project using the sketches I have been doing over the past year.  I am also considering using the still life paintings I did last year. I am ready to move onto the next stage.

Next Thursday we are going to a wedding revenue in the Hill Country which had lots of landscape plus traditional buildings. Weather is meant to be good so should be a good day for painting.

just enjoying creating at the moment

This year has started out very well so far. I have ensconced myself in the studio most days and have happily dabbled in lots of different things. This morning I actually managed to move myself and get down to LadyBird Lake in Austin where the Plein Air Austin group was meeting up. I was only there for an hour as my eldest daughter was visiting later in the morning with my grand-daughter. Normally, I would have skipped out but this year, I am trying to break my habits of lifetime and make an effort!  I took along my Sennelier Oil Pastels to draw with, rather than paint, given the time constraints.  Also I want to become looser with my work as a lot of times I get stuck in a mudpile of detail. Using chunky pastels stops this as you cannot get detail on a small drawing if your drawing instrument is big. I did use a pencil for some details but on the whole I manage to do what I set out to do.

LadyBird lake  between Congress and the Longhorn dam.

I am finally on last beaded journal page from 2010. I finished the November page in the first week of  Jan 2016. So it only took 6 years to complete!


This was a lot of hard work but worth it as it has got me back into the swing of beading, embroidery and basically being adventurous, even if it doesn’t actually work out. I had a slight panic when I tried out something with the blue sea-line using my felting machine and then singeing it. Just didn’t work. ¬†So it was time to just pull it out and start over again.

I have started December but have only got as far as the felting as I got sucked into another project.


Its looking very raw and bright at the moment.

In the mean time I am working on doodling with a punch needle. I went to a bead/quilt show a few years back and came across a lady working on a piece in her stall. Couldn’t resist buying a kit with materials and tool. It’s a very simple process but very satisfying as it works up very quickly. I can see lots of possibilities with it.



So February will continue in a similar vein I hope as I explore all the options I have. I am also going to start my running program again as I am going to enter the annual Deutschen Pfest Pfun Run/Walk 5K after I have posted this.


New Year and New Work

This has got to be first for me, completed a piece (only took 5 yrs), started a new work and finished a drawing all before the 6th Jan 2016!

October 2010 Beaded Journal Page

Above is the finished beaded journal page I started in 2011 and never quite finished.  Here is a link to a previous blog post I had made about this 2010 Beaded Journal project

Part of the reason I have gone back to this project is that I decided I have to embrace this side of my creative side. Before I have dismissed it as just a hobby but I get a real feeling of creativity when I am working with all the arms of my artistic abilities. I am a rank amateur in regards of embroidery,beading, sewing or fabrics. However, somehow that is freeing as I don’t have any rules to conform to that seems to block my path with painting and drawing.

Of course, these days there are no rules to break with art but when I was at college, painting was still painting, ceramics were pots (sorry that was the extent of my knowledge then, thankfully I know better now), textiles, what are  they?  Actually my interest in textiles started at Camberwell which had an excellent forwarding thinking textile course. Until I did my foundation course I had never really thought about textiles but by the time, it came around to applying for a degree course, I was split between doing painting or textiles, I knew I had a guaranteed place on either course at Camberwell, so it was a hard decision.  As I knew nothing about other textile courses and I eager to leave home, I chose painting as that is why I did the foundation course. I must have been mad, leave London for a provincial school but it was the only way I could leave home and study, LOL.

I don’t regret not doing a degree in textiles but I do wish I had known about the Embroiders’ Guilds courses when I lived in the UK. Now I just have to content myself with their excellent magazine Embroidery. ¬†I am amazed by the quality of work that is produced and it has genuinely inspired my move back to working with beads, fabric and embroidery.

November 2010 Beaded Journal project

So I decided as way back into this frame of mind, I would complete the remaining 3 pages of the 2010 Beaded Journal Project. Above is the current page I am working on. I had already started the felting on this piece , so it was easy to pick it up and restart. I began by felting a little bit more and now I am on the embroidery stage. It still has a way to go before it is complete.


However, unlike my previous forages into this medium, I will not be working exclusively within it. During the months in France  I took loads of photographs randomly as I travelled around where my parents lived.  Already I was thinking along the lines of incorporating all the various elements together. The fun and daunting aspect was and is, I have no idea how I am going to do it. I have various ideas of how to do it but it will be a trial and error journey.

Above is a oil pastel painting I did yesterday, based on the same image as the beaded journal I am currently doing. ¬†I rediscovered oil pastels over during the time I was doing the advent project. When I was a student, along with Carah d’ache Neocolors II, oil pastels were my favourite medium. ¬†Being a student, I could only afford the craft shop oil pastels which were readily available in most shops with art materials which were the Guitar oil pastel¬†brand. Looking them up just now and it seems there is quite a trade in vintage pastels of this brand. I still have a few of my old pastels left but they are well used and quite hard compared with the brand I am using at the moment, Sennelier¬†which are very rich and creamy.

So 2016 is going well so far. ¬†Don’t forget to keep track of my work on instagram¬† Jacqui Boyd Alden¬†where I posting on an almost daily basis and my Facebook page

24 days of advent

I did not work on my main project that I revived last month as I knew I would have little time to concentrate on any real creative juices to flow.

So decided to do my usual 24 days of Advent. I am not really religious but I always enjoyed the countdown via an Advent Calendar where you open a window a day. Later it included Chocolates. By the time I was 9 or 10 the chocolates disappear well before Christmas eve, the last day before the real event- Presents!

Unlike most years where I only manage a few days, I actually did all 24 days, although a couple of them were a day late in publishing via Instagram.  I really enjoyed doing them, particularly the last few original pieces.

After tidying up my studio from the chaos of gifts and wrapping paper, I am now back to the Calendar project. I hope to be finished with that at the last by the end of January.

Don’t forget to check out my Instagram page as I will post most general pictures there.



Depression and creativity

Well, its been a month since I last wrote and slowly the depression I was suffering from is lifting and life is getting back on track. When I was younger, I didn’t realise I suffered from depression but now I know its a family trait and¬†I¬†let it takes it course. Mine has fairly routine aspect to it as I notice I will have a period of greyness (its not dark or threatening) that will always appear about the end of August or the middle of September when the weather here can be oppressive. ¬†It would worry me at first but now I just go with the flow and know that there is always a light at the end. ¬†Other times it will just suddenly descend and again I just have to suck it up and get through it. Occasionally I will need medical help but that only really happened when my Son was going through a difficult teenage period. Art has always been there to help me through as even if I am not painting, drawing or whatever else, I crave to see good art even if its only on the internet. Recently I took up running and that seems to have a similar effect. So although I really don’t like running I will keep it up as long as I can.

Unfortunately I have not got back into the daily sketching routine. I do intend to take it up again but it needs to come back in its own time. For the moment I am taking sojourn from painting and returning to a more textile based art. ¬†I am really excited by this but realised as I have not really worked in this medium for a while, that I needed to ease myself back into that mode. So I have taken up a project I started with the Beaded Journal group ¬†in 2010. I really didn’t realise it had been that long ago that I started this. ¬†I am pretty much self taught in regard to anything to do with beads, embroidery and material so it doesn’t put the same restraints I put on myself with painting. ¬†So the bead project has 2.5 pages to complete. ¬†I am currently on October ¬†and this is what it looked like at the beginning of the month.IMG_20151112_161218[1]

I began by removing a whole load of beads.I then started hand embroidering the lake/sea but it wasn’t getting the effect I wanted, so then I free machine stitched the right side of the picture. I also removed a lot of the felt. ¬†Now I working on the trees with some hand embroidery.

It is slow work but very meditative. I put on my ipod and listen to several hours of music and podcasts.  My 2 favourites at the  moment are the British History ones and a BBC podcast called Art and ideas.  I try not to listen to the news too much, just an hour or 2 to keep abreast of what is going on in the US and sometimes, if impinges on the US universe, world news. I want to put my head in the sand and cut out all the horrible things going on in the world at the moment.

This the current stage of my project and I expect to finish this page by the end of the week.


Not a great image as I am without a camera again. (using my tablet camera which isn’t great) ¬†Obviously something I need to add to my Christmas list this year (again) I have gone through about 4 cameras in the past 6 yrs!

As this is slow work I have decided to restart using my instagram account to keep up a daily progress diary. I have also discovered that Instagram is a great place to fine other artists working in mixed media, drawing, painting and textiles. Yet another addiction for me to contain. I have also created a Facebook page just for my artwork however, I really haven’t worked on it it yet. ¬†There is link to my instagram page on the sidebar. Once I have sorted out the Facebook account I will link to that.

In an artistic slump but the weather is cooler

I have nothing new at the moment. I briefly sketched today but a wasp drove me away. It was meant to be the beginning of  new project based on the Cap Metro Rail line that goes though Austin and some parts of Cedar Park, that started in 2010. It is only one line but it goes through some pretty diverse neighbourhoods.

I haven’t really drawn since the middle of September when the weather just became unbearable as it was still in the high 90’s. Even for this area, that was well above the norm. ¬†So today with the temperature actually below normal with the arrival of north wind and the remnants of Hurricane Patricia gone, it was the perfect day to draw. So I went to the station that was nearest to us, Howard Lane. Its about 3 miles from my house


This is the view I chose as it was in the shade and there was a seat. Even with the temperature in the 70’s it would have been easy to get sun burnt and as you can see, there was not a lot of shade to be had. ¬†It is also not the most inspiring view to draw, so when the wasp arrive and didn’t want to leave, it gave me an adequate excuse to depart with a half arsed drawing.

So I am not sure I will pursue this particular project. I know I want to move away from the landscape drawings I have been doing and I love buildings as I am at heart a big city person. However, Pflugerville is not the most interesting town to live it. Apart from the old town which is typical Americana of the early 20th century, it does not have much character being mostly new build homes in the US standard. In the last count, the city has nearly 48,000 residents and it has grown 93.40% since 2000, the year we moved here in fact. That makes it larger than Kilmarnock which I thought was a fairly large city in Scotland but Pflugerville has none of the character or history that Kilmarnock has. So the idea of the commuter rail came to me as a way of moving into a more urban setting. It has a strong emotional link as my childhood and early adulthood was spent travelling the tube or buses in London. I still might go with the idea but I think I need to explore the line more before I commit myself.  Austin itself is very interesting but unfortunately it is quickly disappearing into a maze of new high rises as the city grows. Without the older buildings it will soon be just another big  US city which is a shame.

I also have the dilemma of where I am going with all this work and I think is reflected in the chaos which is currently my studio. Quite frankly its a mess and it has been for several months. For the last 6-4 weeks I have largely avoided it which is easy as it is upstairs. I think I am closer to resolving that issue and it is probably going to involve moving back to mixed media projects as I am naturally drawn to that type of work.

Anyway that’s the update for now and hopefully normal service will resume soon.

Jump start your watercolour

I should start by saying I would not teach as I know I cannot teach. A teacher is a very special person who loves to share to what they can do and enthuse a whole new generations of people/children,like my friend and tutor, Beryl Kerwick. ¬†She is a an amazing teacher and truly inspiring. She was not teaching this class, don’t think she teaches now unfortunately.


So I attended the above class over the weekend and it was described as a short course for beginners and for people who want to refresh their skills. ¬†It was disappointing but then I should have expected that when the word ‘beginner’ is used in the description. It was a good class for people who had absolutely no knowledge about watercolour. The tutor was fine but not that inspiring. ¬†She very softly spoken which was meant she was barely heard over the rampant air conditioning the art school has installed. Every time it came on, there was very large BANG, as what appeared to be an inflatable tube was filled with rushing air.

We began by doing a colour wheel and then copying a drawing of a cat, the tutor provided. She then demonstrated how to paint in the cat.  Here is my very poor imitation.

watercolour exercise no1
watercolour exercise no1

I decided to add vague background and some sort of ground for it to sit on.

We were then given several small photos of a blue Jay  in a plastic pouch as obviously they are used as a regular teaching aid. The image was about 2.5 inches by 3

Blue Jay

I have never attempted a bird in my life but that would be poor excuse for my feeble attempt. I wish I had taken out the paper from the plastic pouch  as the light glaring onto it was hurting my eyes.  Again she did a small demonstration of how to do the background. My poor attempt.

watercolour exercise no2
watercolour exercise no2

Finally she provided 3 little still life set-ups with fake flowers (well the one before me had fake flowers).  With this exercise, I had no excuse as we were left completely to own devices for this exercise as by this time, she had given up demonstrating and was going around giving advice to the group as they painted or working on a painting of her own.

my still life setup. I was the only one at this table.

I was too close to the set up, so I was going a little cross eyed doing this but that is no excuse for poor painting. However, it was the one I enjoyed doing the most as I wasn’t restricted to copying another image. I suppose I could have gone mad with the bird but she seemed quite insistent on getting the blue, black and white definitions correctly. With the still life we were giving free rein.


I was actually looking down on the arrangement so the red board in the background seemed to be above the flowers There are bits I like about it, so I wasn’t too unhappy when I left for the day.


Like the day before I was late to the class as I missed a turn on my journey there which resulted in a big detour and then the car park at the school was full (parking is always terrible as there is so little of it). Anyway by the time I came in, the tutor had handed out a sheet with the outline of leaf and we were to practise wet on wet painting.

instruction leaflet

This was pleasant little exercise and I tried out 4 different leaves on the expensive Arches cold press 300 lb watercolour 14in x 20 in(36cm x 51 cm) block she had recommended we use for this class. The day before I used ¬†Cotman’s gummed water colour pad 140lbs ¬†10 x 7 inches (25.4 x17.8 cm) which I had bought to sketch with but brought to the class just in case.

wet in wet exercise

The last exercise was again provided by a worksheet , either a landscape ¬†from an instructional book or a really bad photo of a bay in Mexico. ¬†I chose the instructional landscape ¬†as I was going to use the larger format paper and a poor photo which measure about 2 x 3 inches wouldn’t have worked. Maybe if I had some link to the image I could mange it as I have worked from 4 x 6 photos of landscapes I have taken before, where memories have managed to fill in the gaps.

image was from a work book by Budd Biggs

My version of this image

My painting of the above exercise

So basically the class was a dud, I am not even sure that a beginner watercolourist would have gain much from it but it definitely shouldn’t be advertise for anyone other than beginners. However, it was great to be just painting again with a group and that is probably why I subject myself every so often to these classes but I must stop.

Now I need to go and clear out that studio so I can use it again. I have been ‘tidying up’ since my return from France but all I have manage to do is move some stuff around and make piles of related stuff. I am getting no where with it as its a stalling tactic. The weather is starting get better with lows in the 70’s most of the am, so I really don’t have any excuses other than myself. ¬†Also need to find a good use for the expensive watercolour block I have just purchased. ūüôā

time for a quick sketch


Notes:9/16/2015 time 4.20pm No network connection About 87c Time for a quick sketch before I get burnt.

Time:  4.47 A very broad interpretation. Curious effect to standing next to water, makes me seasick with the motion

My usual inertia hid me after my morning training run and before I knew it I had wasted a complete day. So I decided that despite the heat and humidity, I would go to Pflugerville Lake when I went shopping. I actually did my shopping before I drew as I popped into Walmart to get a new acto knife as I hadn’t put my normal one back into the bag.

There is no shade at the Lake and very few benches so I ended up on a fishing pier. I had brought along my watercolour pad but didn’t feel comfortable balancing a palette on the top of the pier fencing. So I used my aqua pencils but began by doing a light drawing in pencil and I ended up using a fine tipped pen to finish with a few details.

It was  weird experience drawing on the pier which is over the water. After about 10 mins, I was feeling a bit dizzy. At first I thought it was the heat as it was very hot with the sun reflecting off  the water (I had sweat dripping down my face). Then it dawned on me, it was actually the effect of the water motion at the corner of my eyes. I was actually feeling a bit seasick!  I wish I had remembered my hat as it was very difficult to make out the scene due to the strong light from the water and sky. In the end I decided it was best in the short time I had available (I had groceries in a hot car ) just to aim for a quick impression.  Overall I was OK with the result.

In an effort to get rid of my dislike of watercolour, I have signed up for a boot camp at the local art school, The Comptemporary Austin Art School.  I looked up the instructor and although her work is not really to my taste, she looks very proficient  in watercolours. With the coming cooler weather (please October be cool), I am hoping to become more adept in watercolours.

Finally, as I opened the box of aqua pencils, guess what I saw? That’s right the elusive acto knife. Now I have 2 in my bad so no more blunt pencils!

Before you leave, check everything is in the bag


Notes:9/15/2015 12.24pm 82f feels like 88f 27c feels like 31c cloudy with a slight breeze 10/15 mph SE

Ventured out of Pflugerville to place called New Sweden where there is a classic Lutheran church. Used my phone to navigate as I always get lost on the country roads. Once I got there I was in 2 minds about actually drawing but Heck!  I am here so I should do something.

1.25pm 86f feels like 90f  30c feels like 32c

Time to finish. Must remember knife to sharpen pencils – not easy working with blunt pencils.

Almost didn’t go out today as I for some reason I never remember the way to this place with is about a 15 min drive if I get it right. Unfortunately I did not get it right on the way back (I was going to Round Rock which is the next city up from Pflugerville). As it didn’t say left or right on the phone I guessed right and after that I went around in an ever decreasing spiral on the country roads in Travis/Williamson county, only to end up about 1/4 mile from where I started and then it decided that country roads were the best way forward. I never did get to Round Rock, as once I found myself at Hutto ( another town north of Pflugerville) I decided to cut my loses and eat lunch in Pflugerville. However, it did show me some interesting landscape spots if I can ever find my way back!

As you can see the temperatures really haven’t moderated yet. We had a brief 2 days of cooler temperatures over the weekend and from the looks of the forecast, not much is going to change in the next week. Sigh ūüė¶ So if my sketches are infrequent it because I am in a funk about the weather.

A small break due to heat!


This is was only effort this week and I was not happy with it. I tried watercolours again and failed miserably again. It was under the bridge at Swenson Farm Blvd and it was hot. I took a separate small sheet of watercolour paper ¬†(about 4×6 inches) ¬†I managed to lead against the ¬†low wall of a bridge support ¬†and used my stool to balance the watercolour palette plus water.

My notes: Time 11.24  am #22 90f feels like 96f 32c feels like 35c

Under the bridge at Swenson Farm Blvd – only cool spot.

12.25pm  91 feels like 98f  32c feels like 36c 

Yet another failure with watercolour.  Need a bigger sketchbook. Think I will keep this one for drawing and used a bigger pad next time РLunchtime!

After Monday I really not could face the heat (and sense of failure) and decided it would do me good to take a break for a week, This week I plan to take the car out to the Hill country and explore more of the landscape. We have had a little break for the heat for the last couple of days and it looks like the 100f/38c temps will be history for the rest of this year. Unfortunately it will still be about 95f/ 32c for another few week before the fall temperatures arrive but at least the cooler weather is coming.

So this week I have spend semi reorganising my art room. This is a regular event as (1) I am not that tidy (2) I have a lot of stuff and (3) it allows me to reconsider what I am doing.  Amongst the stuff I have is most of my old art work, which includes my CSE,  O level work and the drawings I did at Camberwell School of art Saturday morning classes. It is good to look at this work as it reminds me that I can draw and the principal of Camberwell was particularly complementary of my drawings.

Then I have my art therapy drawings. In 1992 I began to study Art therapy as post grad subject. As part of the course we had to participate in art therapy sessions with other students. It was a very productive 2 yrs for me in drawings and I would love to recapture that level of spontaneity which was sparked by key words, some of which I recorded on the back of the drawings.  At first I found it difficult to let go but as the sessions when on the more visceral the experience became. My dreams in particular were very vivid in the last year.

It had a profound effect on my relationship with my mother. At first I wasn’t sure it was a good effect as it eventually led to break of 2 yrs and only repaired once we moved to the US. In the end though I had much more honest,loving and to be truthful,¬†more grown up relationship¬†with my Mother . I was also more able to deal with the emotions these memories brought up and relate them to my current life, rather than let them fester in the past. From that I gained more understanding of why my relationship with my mother was different from my sisters and just because they hadn’t experience or reacted to it in the same way, didn’t negate the memory, it was just my memory not theirs. Quite understandably my sisters and I have sometimes butted heads about this, in fact just this summer as it happens. Listening to my own kids, I get the sense of the differences a child within a family can have, often relating to the position they are within that group. Most of the time they have a communal memory but every so often a memory resurfaces that is unique to that child. Anyway before I get myself into trouble I had better finished.


still plodding away

When I was kid, the headteacher at my primary school, described me to my mum as a plodder. Not a flattering term but probably quite accurate.


Notes:Sketch #19 9/02/2015 2.36pm 88f felt like 90f  31c feels like 32c Pflugerville lake beach area  Nice breeze in the air 10 mph. Intended to sketch somewhere else but I missed the exit on the free-way. Then I decided I would to go to the trail at the Travis County sport fields . It is being rebuilt and redesigned!  So last resort here. Sun is strong despite lots of clouds and reflecting off the water- too strong really  to give any real tonal difference to features.  So here goes 2.42 pm

Slight break before I even got started – chap came up for some shade- now 3.07 – 3.37 Sigh:(

So that sketching session didn’t really go so well. The guy just sat and chatted for 30 mins before taking himself off to cool down in the water. He makes an appearance in my sketch ūüôā ¬†Then just after that a family arrived with cool boxes and chairs, sitting on the small wall beside the bench where I was seated. It was very obvious they wanted me to leave without actually saying anything. So I made a quick exit and sure enough before I was even 10 yds from the bench, they were already sitting there. Don’t blame them as there are only 2 covered shaded areas on the small beach. There is no shade elsewhere at the lake as its basically a man made reservoir ¬†which has lots of immature trees dotted around. In 10 yrs it might be better.


Notes: – quick sketch before going to sleep. 9/4/2015 #20

12.15pm – my scratching is obviously messing with Gordon’s sleep as he is restless, so time to stop.

So I didn’t sketch on 3rd as I had a really good night sleep and it put me in the mood to do some actual housework (a very rare event) ¬†Then just as I was thinking I might go out, my daughter rang to ask if I could pick up my grand-daughter from daycare as she was running late. ¬†Much prefer playing with my grand-daughter than sketching, she brings me so much fun in my life.

Yesterday, I had the opposite of the day before, a poor night sleep. ¬†Despite that, I did my 5k training but it left me cranky all day and not in the mood to do anything that involved going out into the heat again. Even at 9 am it was hot and humid and by the pm the heat index was nearly a 100f. ¬†I fully intended to sketch indoors but only felt like to doing it as I was going to bed. I love how my bedroom is full of interesting shapes and shadows when we put on our reading lights. So after I had read for 30 mins, I finished off the day with 30 mins of sketching. Unfortunately it didn’t help me get off to sleep.


Notes: 9.00am 9/05/2015 #21 Nice strong breeze, cloudy .  77f feels like 77f  25c feels like 25c Down by the soccer fields at Swenson Farm under canopy with table.

9.50 am sometimes you have to admit things are not going right and admit defeat!  started in watercolour (useless) and end with the aqua pencils.  The paper is not robust enough for that and started to disintergrate. Must remember to bring watercolour paper next time as I might have been able to resolve it with the pencils if I had stronger paper. 

temp 27c feels like 27c  82f feels like 82f  Still cloudy.

So this morning wasn’t so great but hey, not everything is going to work out. ¬†I really don’t like watercolours. Its weird because most beginner painters start off in water colour before they move on to acrylics or oils, In fact most people seem to think acrylics are really difficult to use whereas I love acrylics, always have done. Such a versatile medium. I will get over my phobia about watercolour in the course of time, I am determine of that.

For the ¬†last few months I have just used ¬†my scanner to scan my sketches, I have discovered it better to use the Photoshop elements 11 program I have to scan the images. ¬†Give a much truer colour of my sketch book. ¬†Now I am going to insert glassine paper inbetween the sheets of my sketch book as I have noticed that the pencil is rubbing off on to the opposite page. I don’t really like using fixative so I am going to try the glassine paper I have.

Shade under a bridge

sketch 18

Notes: 1st September 4.00pm about 95f

Totally unprepared today, forgot my glasses & phone. Standing under a bridge for shade so very quick drawing.

Yep pretty difficult to do without my glasses. wasn’t striving for accurity (accurateness) but feel. Loss it at the end

About 30 mins Рtemp 91f  feels like 95f

I did this on my way to the supermarket today. I had another bad night sleep so struggled to keep going today. Managed to get for my run in the morning as I need to train for the 5K I have entered on Nov 1. I was originally going to sketch this morning but my youngest daughter was home and talking to her seemed like a much better idea than going out again.

But it was nagging at me all day so I decided to do a quick session before shopping.¬†Originally when I set out I was going to do a small watercolour and searched out my tiny Windsor and Newton pocket palette that I have had since college. I am not fond of watercolour as I tend to end up with ‘mud’ as I have difficulty controlling the medium. ¬†I thought with the limited 12 colour palette I had a better chance of controlling it that the big one I inherited from my Mum (30 blocks).

I walked along the Bohls loop part of the trail through Pflugerville and eventually decided on a shady spot under the bridge that takes the FM1825 road over the trail. ¬†It was then I realised I left my glasses and phone in the car which was parked about¬†¬Ĺ mile away. I decided to just get on with it as I could see the view OK, just not the paper I was drawing on too well. As I was standing with no available place to set my watercolour palette anywhere I decided to use a pen. The first pen was too scratchy ( Pilot Precise v5 ¬†extra fine) and I changed to just a standard biro pen.

I often view a scene with one eye close as I have a lazy eye but I usually put my glasses on to draw as I really cannot see the paper that well without my bio-focals these days. As I was drawing today all I could really see was a blur which if I really concentrated I could see but then it would blur again and often doubled as my eyes struggled to focus. In the end I decided to just draw with one eye closed most of the time. As I stood, I could feel the sweat dripping down my face, not pleasant.

As I said in my notes, in the end I lost my concentration and it really was too hot to be standing still for too long. Fortunately the weather is starting to moderate as autumn approaches although no doubt the mid 90’s will prevail for another month. By October we should start seeing the 80’s again which mean high 60’s/low 70’s for the morning. Really looking forward to¬†the¬†cooler weather!

Maybe I will make a stab at watercolour tomorrow.

a little night time stress reliever.


Notes: sketch #  16 11.23 am 84f feel like 85f 28c feel like 29c  Slight breeze. Thought I would come out to the edge of town where the Heritage House Museum is situated. Just not a lot of shade to be had unfortunately. 

12.11 Had to stop suddenly. swarms of ants on my feet,- the biting kind! Just as I thought I was get(ting) to grips with this sketch. At least the temp didn’t increase, same as 11.23

The above barn is on the outer limits of Pflugerville where they have situated an original house, traditional barn and a windmill plus some other things to represent a past time in Pflugerville. There is also a brand new community pool beside it for the younger kids of Pflugerville and a play scape. Unfortunately, no one has thought to put in any shade around about, so I was hunting for a suitable spot which was a bench in front of play scape and red barn. The bench was barely covered with shade (from the play scape awning) and I could feel the sun beating down on my back.

I always check before I sit anywhere as ants are always a problem over here but there didn’t seem to be any when I first sat down. About 5 mins after starting I saw one random ant and quickly brushed it away. It was fairly large so I knew it was not one of the dreaded fire ants. ¬†I think they were attracted to the sweat in my feet which were almost in the sun, as more came along and then 45 mins into the drawing, they began to swarm and couple bit me. At least they weren’t fireants, so they were just little nips but enough to say to myself, that’s enough.

Its a pity because I was just getting to work with the drawing and probably only needed another 10 mins to get it completed.


Notes, No 17 ¬†Time midnight- 12.00 am. I can’t sleep and I saw something in A&I* ¬†about drawing at night so that is what I am going to do.¬†

30th August 2015 81f feels like 81f  27c feels like 27c

12.21 am Well drawing in the dark is a bit like drawing in the dark! ¬†I really couldn’t see what I was putting down on the paper but it was very freeing. I really didn’t care. I just put down fairly random ¬†marks. I would like to do it with paint next time!

Yes, very random and probably to do with having a couple glasses of wine and then going to bed with thoughts racing through my head. I enjoyed doing it though and just that 20 mins of drawing settled me down enough to sleep reasonably well for the rest of the night. Maybe I should try it more often as sleep is frequently elusive.

*Artists and Illustrators Magazine.

view from the window

sketch #15 Notes: 3.30pm 8/27/2015 Sketch #15 Approximate temp 78f

Thurs is watering day which is 3 hrs of shifting water hoses/sprinklers around the front/back garden every 30 mins- cut off time 10am. In theory, that mean I have time to beat the oppressive heat that is Central Texas. But I am lazy! ¬†So I am indoors ¬†today looking out over our back garden for today’s sketch.

4.15pm Really need to work on prespective then trees blocking the view wouldn’t be such a challenge. Not a good sketch!

As I was working on this at home in the comfort of air conditioning, I should have been able to work on this longer but I just found it frustrating. One thing was the faux window frame would shift ¬†all the time. I hadn’t realised that I move my head so much. Its a wonder I can draw anything with such a wobbly head. ¬†And then trees! Just have no idea how to tackle these. And again perspective. I have books on this subject but have yet to master it. ¬†Practice practice and more practice. ¬†Can’t believe I have actually managed to do 15 sketches since 1st August. That is a record for me and I aim to keep it up.

Sketch #14


Notes: Sketch #14 8/26/2015 10.52  84f feels like 90f  28c feels like 32c

found a nice shady point facing the main road through Pflugerville. trying out stool feels a little precarious to be honest and not that comfortable.

11.41 Рgetting too uncomfortable to stay on longer. Feet are numb from semi couched position the stool forces you into. Hip sore when standing (up). 

28c  feels like 32c  84f  feels like 90f

First attempt at something that has fascinated me since I moved to the US, 15 years ago- all the hanging cables. Even in the countryside you will see wires hanging as for some reason Americans don’t bury their cables as a rule.¬†Of course that means whenever we have a big storm, there are wires hanging everywhere, some of them live! We have been relatively lucky with storms for the past few years but an El nino is predicted (or is actually happening) this year which means we should have above average rain with storms in the fall and probably ice storms in the winter. ¬†I live in a new neighbourhood so all the the wires are buried but we still have the power outages due to cables getting snapped by falling trees somewhere in Pflugerville. It this scene there were numerous wires with trees directing behind them.

Sketch 12 & 13

So I have been a little lax in with the sketching over the last few days. I managed to push myself out very late yesterday despite the heat as I know if I don’t keep it up I will soon let the days slip by and before I know its months. I really want to make this a habit and not slip into my usual routine which is to browse the internet all day!

sketch #12

Notes:8/24/2015 time 2.47pm 97f feels like 100f  36c feels like 37c.

Had to force myself out as I missed my golden hr today. Restarted my running training today. Only 20 mins but it has put a stamp on my day. Tomorrow I will not load my time* until I have done all the things I plan, it starts with browsing the internet and end(s) up later hours later that (I) stop.  Anyway I am at the play park which is deserted as (1) its too hot to play outside and (2) school starts either today (Austin) or tomorrow (Pflugerville). I will try to keep going for 30 mins.2.53pm

3.29 pm 36c feels like 37c  97f feels like 100f  Slight breeze which is cooling. Started too small and too focus(ed) = unbalance. Banging in back ground Рsome kid on basket ball court, very distracting. 

* I am going to be training on alternative days so tomorrow is the day I will have to put this in practice 

I wasn’t particularly happy with this sketch and it might be because I am using a small sketch book. 8″ x 5¬ľ” . I have thought of changing sketch books but this one will be one I will use until 12/31/2015. Also I started to the right again,¬†so managed to miss most to the left part of the page unlike the sketch below where I used most of the page.

sketch #13

Notes: 08/25/2015 sketch #13 10.04 88f feels like 93f  31c feels like 33c  slight breeze

Back to pencil today. I am going to start moving out of the Park into town of Pflugerville from today. 

11.08 am  32c feels like 35c  91f feels like 95f 

Not very good with perspective!  Need to practice.  had a problem of smudging as my hand dragged across the page Рneed to learn to life hand off, difficult when you are standing and holding sketch book. Will come back to this again as its a challenge. 

So I think I have identified a key issue for me Рinterest, much as I like to see the green trees (I used one today to provide the necessary shade), I am not really that interested in drawing or painting them.  So I am going to try for a more urban mix. The above building are situated on the edge of the original old town before suburbia arrived. They are remnants of the old railway that used to run through the town, thence the name of the main artery road in old town Pflugerville (Railway Ave). It really is a gold mine for some one who is sketching and I look forward to exploring it more. This was a view from the Heritage loop trail which is an extension of Pfluger Park.

Heat and tree fagitue

This hit me on Wednesday so I didn’t go out sketching and then about 1pm I had a call from my grand-daughter’s daycare to say she had a high temp. She seemed a little pasty faced and tired when I picked her up but by the end of the day she seemed fine.

Yesterday, I was planning to go Pedernales Falls State Park with the Plein group.  As it was our watering the garden day, I would arrive late so I just planned to sketch. So organised my bag, switched the water off and locked the doors. Just as I was going out to the garage, the phone went off. It was my eldest daugher, my grand-daughter had been sick this time plus she had a temp of 101f again (it had been normal at breakfast time). She was busy with a meeting so could I pick her up while she arranged things with her boss. Of course I said yes and I also said to continue with her work. So that was my day, looking after my grand-daughter. At first she was very listless as you would be if you felt sick and had a temperature but as the day went on she started to perk up. 3yrs olds never stay sick too long, thankfully, so we had another wonderful day together. However, that meant sketching was on the back burner for the day or at least I thought so until Gordon suggested going up to Pflugerville Lake with him.


Gordon has a pretty set routine and Thursday night is when he runs around Pflugerville Lake. It is just shy of 3 miles, so it takes him about 24-26 mins depending on other factors. So my sketch had to be quick. It was also late, later than normal and ¬†the sun was already setting when we arrived, so it was about 8.05. ¬†I forgot to take my stool and there are few benches around. As it had been raining earlier I was not keen on sitting on the grass. All the fishing piers had been taken up by fisherman. ¬†So looking around I thought ‘ah, the limestone blocks that line the parking area would be ideal.’ ¬†I was going to sit on one but ended up standing while resting my pencils on one. Like the other day I used the Derwent Aqua pencils. No graphite drawing to begin with, I just dived in with colour due to the time limits and fading light. Gordon completed his run in 24.32 mins, so this sketch was done in about 15 mins after all the mucking around.

Managed some notes at the end when I got back to the car.

‘sketch 11 21st August ¬†time 8.32 Drawing complete.

came with Gordon to Lake Pflugerville while he ran. Found a spot. Immediately covered in fire ants! Had to work quick as the sun had set.’

Today I was going to go the Falls to meet up with a few member of the group who couldn’t make it yesterday. However, it ¬†has been very overcast with a threat of showers. Sure enough, at about 8.45 this morning, we had a brief shower. Houston is getting a lot of rain at the moment (which were the showers are coming from) but apparently most of it will not get here. So maybe this afternoon I can get out and sketch.

Today there will be colour

sketch 10

My notes for today: “sketch #10 9.17 am. 27c feels like 29c. 81f ¬†feels like 85f. Although it is slightly hotter than yesterday, it feels more pleasant as there is a slight breeze. Not sure what I am doing this morning. I had in mind the playground but at the moment I am looking at the basket ball court surrounded by individual trees with a a canopy of leaves. lots of lines. Also brought along another sketch book – multi media type in case I feel included to (can’t make out word) larger and use colour. Anyway time to get started. 9.22am

10.22 am stopping as I am fiddling and getting lost, in other words I have lost interest. Something i have to work on. I have the attention span of a gnat! 82f feels like 87f ¬†27c ¬†feels like 30c ¬†slight breeze (14mph)”

So I finally committed to some colour. I used the  Derwent Aquatone pencils I have been lugging around for the last few days. They worked well and the paper stood up to a fair amount of water plus scrubbing which was surprising. As I said I started adding details (with a fine tipped pen) but quickly realised I was just being quite random with the marks (like the branch that appears from nowhere on the right). An hour is longer than normal for me but  I really struggle to keep looking after about 40 mins.

tree rubbinbg

On my way back, I was really amused by all the squawking of the birds in the tree and did this LOL.

my notes back in the studio ‘ While walking home and hearing the squawking of several birds I had a sudden urge to do a rubbing of a tree stump. It didn’t work but I enjoyed the action of just scribbling and pressing down hard on the paper with charcoal with no purpose. Fun!”

Not sure why the birds were squawking but it was very loud and the Grackles were flitting all around the tree they were in. I also heard a cry of a hawk near by, so maybe they were in a panic because of that. Just glad they are not my neighbours!

Not a good day for drawing

sketch # 9

Today’s notes “sketch #9. 9.01am ¬†77f feels like 77f. 25c feels like 25c . Thought it would be cooler today but no such luck. Air feels very sticky even though it says it the same as yesterday. Location picked because it’s the closest to HEB (supermarket). Start 9.05 am. Will sit and observe for 5 mins before I draw.

9.46, Drawing is a mess. thought a clump of trees would be simple РNOT!  2nd mistake having the sun behind me shining onto the paper so difficult to see what I am doing. Tried a variety of ways to overcome this- changing to charcoal, drawing without my glasses, closing left eye. Ended up getting totally lost. Taking a walk for 5 mins. Sitting on a park bench also a mistake Рuncomfortable and cramping my arm movements.

10.08 am Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Today was not a good day for drawing but I have learnt a few things ie Sun glaring on paper!

81f feels like 85f 27c feels like 29c”

So today wasn’t great but at least I got out and tried. Sometime soon I will need to start thinking about colour. For some reason I am nervous of adding colour, probably because I am not confident with watercolour. However, I have some water pastels so I begin with those I suspect. Will probably have to use a different sketch book as this one wouldn’t take much water I think.

Pflugerville Watertower

Can you see it?  It just visible at the top of the trees on the left. Haha

My notes for today ” Sketch # 8 8/16/2015 8.56 am. Early today as grand-daughter with her mum, my very multi talented daughter comes over between 10.10.30 am. Temp is nice this morning, lower humidity than yesterday. 25c feels like 25c, 77f feels like 77f. Doing a ‘simple’ landscape. Here goes 9.59 am.

9.50am Finished I got lost again! My trees look more like rocks but I tried. 81f feels like 85f, 27c feels like 29c. Good spot for setting up my plein air kit at least. I will be back next month some time.”

sketch #8


Today’s sketch is mainly ……..

Miss yesterday as I just couldn’t face up to the heat but made sure I was ready for today by packing my bag last night and taking the bag plus stool downstairs for the morning. I was a bit later than normal as I decided to sleep in although in the end with the early morning rain, mewing cats and a strange beeping noise that turned out to be misbehaving electric toothbrush, I may as well of got up early.

down by the creek

Put my notes on the opposite page/back of previous sketch today so the drawing was more centred today.

My notes “Sketch #7 (below) 8/15/2015

Very steamy today as it rained quite hard for 10 mins this morning, just at Day break. When I put on my glasses they steamed up, the humidity is so high.. Trying out my new folding stool today.. So I have found a secluded spot by the creek with lot of debris from  last storm in May and generally overgrown.

86f feels like 92f. 30c feels 33c. 10.45am. Bit late today as I slept in. 11.32am  Got totally lost with this drawing. 11.35. Time to give up and start another day. Once I use to the heat I was fine. Stool very good.

90f feels like 93f ¬†32c feels 33c.”

All the landscape by the creek is a haphazard mess basically. Damaged trees, Dead trees, thicket and just general overgrown vegetation. ¬†Going down to the creek for me, is nerving racking as it full of nasty bugs and sure enough around my feet were some large ants which basically ignored me thankfully. Unfortunately I am very allergic to fire ants, so if they had been those kind I couldn’t have stayed. ¬†Fortunately they were normal ants and once I got into the drawing I became oblivious to all the flying bugs. Stool was very comfy so that is good.

I did add some colour this time, rather nervously and soon gravitated back to the pencil and thin tipped pen. Yet again I really couldn’t get a handle of the leaves of which there were a lot of with this view,although I am not sure you would know that from this drawing.

From next month, once the weather is cooler I think I will move onto painted sketches but until then I continue with what I am doing plus maybe start translating these into something more solid. They will be small to begin with, so a bit like marquette for sculpture. That way I will be able to judge what I am really looking for in a sketch.

Memorial to Pflugerville’s Fallen Warriors.

First sketch in nearly a week, already slacking!  Had a great trip to San Antonio where we visited the McNay Art Museum. What a wonderful place and I so wish the Blanton had been as as visionary as this building. It helps that it still has the original building in place with its Spanish Colonial-Revival architecture but the new part of the museum has been well designed and complements the older part. I will definitely be making another trip as I  only saw the inside as the weather was typical Texas summer heat, 100f +

Since returning from San Antonio, I basically got caught up in arranging for my Mother to be move from France to England. It really didn’t take up all my time and it is a very poor excuse for wasting my time. Anyway, today, the move actually happened and I decided it was time to get back on course. ¬†During that time though, I did update my supplies, not that I really needed to that but when you are sinking, you tend to fall on to your comforts. For me that is TV and shopping for art supplies I really don’t need. ¬†As I mentioned I am a big fan of Heather’s 805 blog¬†and she posted a picture of her mobile work station. I thought it was such a good idea I decided to copy her. Here is my mobile art studio (not quite complete as I haven’t actually put any paints or pencils into the trolley). I don’t actually plan to use the trolley until I start going to the plein air meetings but with all the stuff you need for that, the trolley will be ideal. ¬†The stool will be perfect for sketching (I hope).

my new mobile art studio
my new mobile art studio

I took the stool with me this morning but I didn’t actually use it as the Memorial has no less than 3 benches in front of it. unfortunately none of them are under any shade so although it was mainly overcast this morning, it still got very hot when the sun was out.

Memorial to Pflugerville's fallen WarriorsAs usual I put in my running commentary, I think I need to put it a separate page, they are getting so long.

“sketch #6 8/12/2015 – 9.36 am. Slightly overcast 86f feels like 94f (30c feels like 33c) A few days break due to life – mum returning to England today. No shade where I am sitting so only a quick sketch possible with the heat! ¬†Managed to last longer than 30 mins despite the sweat dripping down my face! Started too far to the left.10.17 am. 31c ¬†feels like 34c 88f feels like 94f ¬†Memorial to Pflugerville Fallen Warriors”

I think I will be going back to this a few times as its such a feature of the park.  At the moment the park is quite busy as summer camp is still on but I suspect this is the last week as school starts on 25th August.

Supposedly the weather is going to change next week. I hope so as the heat is oppressive at the moment.

Foliage and drawing

How do you do it?  Today was my 4 day of drawing in the park and I will be honest I am struggling.

IMG_edited-1This was my 2nd drawing. At the moment I do not have a chair to sit on and I don’t fancy sitting on the ground. Couple of things, I am too old and fat to sit comfortably on the ground. ¬†There are too many ants in the Park, biting ones. So I am relying on Park benches as most are in the shade, much needed in this heat. Unfortunately, most of the them do not have a great view. ¬†This particular bench view was situated so you can see across the creek bank. It is basically a view of tangled undergrowth and and spindly trees. ¬†You will see I have put notes (a habit I will continue) as I draw.

Notes: ‘ daily sketch No2. 8/2/2015 time 10.34am ¬†temp 86f/30c ¬†7b pencil ¬†Started off ‘blind’ 10.36 begin to draw in structure. Changing ¬†to ketch and wash pencil. Narrowed my focus too much. Finished 11.00am 88f/31


notes for this drawing ‘ contrasting man made with nature. 8/3/2015 Happy birthday to me. 9.44 Sunny 82f/27c feels like 86f/30c aborted drawing at 10.23 need to work on tone and pencil strokes. Only 3rd day so don’t despair . 86f/30c feels like 87f.

I must admit to some reluctance today as I know my drawing skills are not up to the challenge of depicting nature.  At lot of the park is wide open but it seems the planners have decided to place the benches at the most uninspiring parts of the park, so I will need to invest in a seat or use one of the folding chairs we already have. They are quite heavy, so not an appealing prospect and I have not drawn while sat in them, so not sure I would be that comfortable. With the heat, I need to be comfortable at least.  I am sticking to mainly pencil although I have used a fine tipped pen in all of them so far, as I feel I will gain more from seeing the tones rather than working in colour at the moment.

Image1-3_edited-1Notes with this drawing ‘ Daily sketch 8/4/2015 ¬†Time 10.00am 82f/27c feels like 88f/32c ¬†Very humid. Going to look for 2 mins before starting Being way too timid 10.18am Goring to try shading in mass and then erasing. 10.53 getting ¬†the lights and darks confused. Need to work on my mark making. drawing in with Pen. not worrying about how it looks. 88f/30c feels like 93f/33c ‘

I kept getting lost with this drawing. My eyes were wandering all over the place. It wasn’t until the last minute that I realised I had placed the bench on the right in completely wrong place and that was too small! I manage to correct it to a degree but it was important scale mistake. The mass of trees and bushes are proving to to be quite a challenge. I have a lazy right eye so if I closed my right eye, all I see is a blur which is great as it helps to see the real darks and lights but obviously it loses the detail. ¬†As far as I can make this park on the whole has not be ‘planned out’ but craved out of what was originally there so lots of different variety of bushes and trees are intertwined leaving a huge mash of textures.

Still not sure where this project will lead but ultimately I am determined to combine painting and beading together without it being considered crafty (such a dirty word in the art world) I have thought about doing it in the past but never really got that far with the idea. I must admit I am really inspired by the work of ¬†Grayson Perry. While I was in France ¬†I saw a channel 4 program on the house he created, it looked amazing and it brought to mind a comment Eileen Cooper made to me when I saw her in 2011 and show her my bead work. She wonder why I was not trying to get it shown in an art gallery and at the time, I was truthful, I didn’t think people would consider it art.


This is one of the pieces I created in 2007. I did a full twelve months, one for each month and it was part of a world wide project. At the time, it was best way to express myself in an abstract form. I still love beads.

Life intervenes and suddenly 4 months has gone by

Wow, making that matchbox museum piece seems so far away and the intervening months have been crazy. Just after my Dad’s 79th birthday, I received a call from their English neighbour to say Dad had a stroke. 2 days later I was in France and my life was basically put on hold for 3 months. Ever since I returned from France I felt unsettled and unfocused. I can’t even remember what I was doing before going to France as it seems like a life time ago.

I did intend to paint and draw while I was in Brittany as it is a wonderful place full of rivers, amazing architecture  and woods, all the things I would love  to be surrounded by in Texas. However, sorting out my parents and their affairs just drain me completely. I did take a lot of photos at the end of the trip when my husband came for 10 days and I do have an idea fermenting but at the moment artistically I feel spent. I actually took a bunch of photos specifically with that idea in mind. Once I am back up to speed I am sure that idea will become reality.

crucifix le cosquer

This is the one sketch I managed to do while I was away.  These stone crucifixes dot the countryside of Brittany (not sure if it is just a Breton tradition)  which marks the way to the local Temple (church). I have always been fascinated by these crosses and this one is at the bottom of the road that leads to the hamlet where my parents lived,  It was always a welcome sight at end of a long journey. So it was fitting this was the only drawing I managed (I made few other aborted drawings at other places) as this was the last trip I would be making to this part of France.

As I have said, I have not felt settled since coming back, mainly due to the fact there are still several loose ends to tie up in France.  Anyway yesterday, I decided I had enough of this moping around waiting for things to happen, life is too precious. I made the decision to move my table away from a wall to facing a window.  I figured all my energy was being sapped by the blank wall in front of me. Next step was to actually do something. For that I got inspiration from my friend Heather who writes a couple of blogs about drawing. Her latest challenge is found on 805 steps where she has chosen to document a very small part of the Hertford Union Canal, starting at Wick lane and ending at White post Lane in London. The drawings are amazing.

So this morning I took a short walk to Pfluger Park in Pflugerville and did a very brief sketch. One thing I always have problems with when working outside is deciphering what I am seeing as my eyes are darting all over the place. I am not comfortable drawing most of the time and drawing outside is probably my least favourite thing to do. In  my still life set ups I have complete control over what I see, with a landscape everything is out of my control and comfort zone.daily sketch no1

I began by not¬†worrying about drawing accurately¬†¬†by drawing ‘blind’ without looking at my paper. I have done this before sketching in my living room and back garden, it’s very freeing if you are worried about your ability to draw. As you can probably see from my notes on the sketch, I started off in pencil (B7) and then moved on a fine line pen. Towards the end I actually looked at the drawing and started to draw in the structure. ¬†The important thing to me wasn’t the actual view but the process of drawing and looking. So the fact it ended up not looking anything more than a scribble really didn’t bother me. Not sure anyone looking at this drawing would make out much but I know when I come to look at it in future, I will understand it and its shorthand.

I am not very good at keeping up on projects so I don’t know how much this will evolve but I am hopeful. Eventually I would like to have enough drawings to translate the drawings ¬†onto a canvas. That is another area where I plan to evolve and I will write about that next time.

looking back at my previous blog posts, all of the above seems too frequent theme, https://happyjacqui.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/the-fog-is-beginning-to-lift/.  

Need to try to be more positive!

Matchbox Museum entry

So I reworked my matchbox entry and returned to my bead embroidery skills.

I did have an idea of making a box of paper dolls to represent my kids. I had made some beaded dolls a few years back based on some old photos of them. On working with a few ways of doing this, I knew this was non starter as the matchbox was too small for such an elaborate idea.  I must I was struggling to get an idea (2/20/2015) and time was running out as I needed to get it in the post by today (2/23/2015) if it was to get to London on time.

Out of interest, I typed in Matchbox art into Google search and was amazed at the number of hits I got. I hadn’t realised it was such a big movement. ¬†It didn’t really inspire me though, as working so small seemed like an impossible task.

My studio is jumble of stuff that I have collected over the years but my biggest collection is from the time I did exclusively bead embroidery. I also have folders with samples of things I have done over the years, like embroidery stitches and making felt. So I decided to rummage through those folders and hope inspiration would strike. I came across a scrap of felting I had made with wool roving, a piece from a silk shirt which had been my husbands, some applique butterflies and some fabric daisies from a hobby store. I had machine felted them altogether and then just tucked it away in case I could use it some day. The butterfly and the daisy tied in with the previous painting so I thought I could work with that.  The following is the result. I just let my hand and needle just roam across the fabric and it grew much like the subject.

The little box beside the finished piece is the mock box I had made, so you can see it pretty small – 35mm X 47mm X 17mm however with the added beads and felt, that has added a few more mm, so I am not sure if that will acceptable. Fingers crossed.

Originally I was going to have the cover slide as it would if it was still a matchbox . As I worked though I though it would work better if was like little stage, like the one you made as a child and it would also act as a picture frame for the internal image.  So you could just view it as the butterfly or as the little scene, which ever took your fancy.

The material used were glass beads size 15, flower sequins, a fabric flower, white oblong beads for the daisy, flower beads and the 2 charms. The background felt included the main daisy and butterfly.

I really enjoyed making this piece although working with size 15 beads can be quite a strain on the eyes!

Almost back to square one

as the piece I was working on for the Matchbox Museum turned out to be too big to be folded effectively. I could fold it into the tiny little box ¬†14mm X 37mm X 45mm as I did a mock-up but I couldn’t show any of the picture. ¬†I knew this would be an issue a few weeks ago but I am like dog with a bone, so continue on with it. Now I have to rethink the whole thing over the next few days but I have a gleam of an idea, so I think it might be possible.

Anyway, I have a work that I am reasonably happy with as it was based on a still life set up and I was able to move away from that, to create another image which is the way I want to go. Here is the set up:




I am not good at angles so I used modern technology and printed the image to get the chair and tea set. I used the back drop as a guide. ¬†I then used ¬†2 tea towels the kids had printed at primary school where all the kids drew a ‘portrait’ of themselves. ¬†I placed images from the back drop that seem relevant to the kids when they were younger. ¬†I decided to enlarge the butterfly (a paper butterfly from a hobby store) as it seemed good way to unite the back ground and foreground Also the butterfly to me symbolises that¬†time is fleeting, especially childhood. ¬†I was ¬†tempted to move away from the 2 tone colour of the paper butterfly and paint it as a Monarch which is the common butterfly around here and disappearing . ¬†That wouldn’t have worked as it would have made the butterfly too dominant and it was already pretty much in your face! ¬† In the set up the daisies are scattered (and paper) but a memory flashed in my mind of the happy times I spend as child and a mother making daisy chains. ¬†The chair in the painting is my baby chair and has served as a play chair for me and my children and now for my grand-daughter.¬†gillian and Jacqueline 001_edited-1The tea set belongs to my grand-daughter and like me as a child, she loves to make tea for her Mummy and Nanna.

I have finished with this although as normal I am tempted to fiddle with it. That is the reason I stopped, as I getting too fussy with details and getting too tight.  Also having a deadline helped.



Finished Painting – 30cm X 36cm acrylic on Rice paper coated with acrylic gesso.

The fog is beginning to lift.

About 2 weeks ago, I realised I was pretty depressed.  I have been struggling to do even the basic things like get dress, wash or even going to get the shopping. Everything was an effort, why bother getting dressed when no-one would see me until Gordon came home. He eats and then promptly sleeps for an hour or so. Sometimes less. Sometimes more.  Then he will do his thing for that night – gym, running, loading up podcasts . I get that, he has limited free time unlike me who has the whole day.  Eventually he will settle down to watch a Netflix show with me , maybe watch the first 15 mins of the Late show with Jimmy Kimmel. Then its snack time for Angus and bed where we either read or if Gordon is really tired, sleep. If I am tired I will sleep after reading but more often or not, recently, I have got up and watched the serial of the week/month.  At the moment it the French series ‘Spiral’.  Then the day starts over again, exactly the same.

Why have I listed all the above. Because I have not felt in the least bit creative since before Christmas. I finished the Buddha painting and I immediately set up a still life.  I looked at it and walked away from it for a month! Any way the realisation that I was in a deep depressive slump about 2 weeks ago, spurred me on as I know from experience that once I have that realisation, the only way out, is effort on my part.

To begin with, I started by revisiting the still life I had set up and making it the subject of the following project.



There is project ongoing on the Facebook  Bath Academy of Art alumni page  called the Matchbook Museum Project.  Here are the rules

Maximum dimensions for submissions – 47 mm X 35 mm X 14 mm

Anyone can join in!

The curatorial criteria are only that contributors were students who attended Bath Academy of Art, and the work is the size of a matchbox.

There is no need for an actual matchbox, anything with those dimensions is fine.

All media are welcome, sculpture, ceramics, illustration, graphics (or visual communication as we used to call it), painting, fashion, textiles, printing, concrete poetry (remember John Furnival?), paper engineering, screen printing (remember John Vince?), photography, and the other medium I forgot.

First things first,  make an approximate matchbox. Its tiny! Next is to work out how to make a piece this size. To start with, I will not be making a painting that is 1.85  X 1.38 X 0.55 inches, I don’t have the eyesight or skill to do that.  So I will need to some how to make a bigger painting/drawing and fold it to size.  So I tried out a few options and decided on some thick tissue paper, I think its rice paper but I bought it so long ago, I really don’t know. I know its strong and it took a coating of acrylic primer well. Now I am working on the painting but my concern is that when I fold it, the acrylic paint I am using, it will stick together. So I will need to work this out quickly as the clock is ticking and if it doesn’t work, I will need to go back to the drawing idea.

I have also decided to resurrect the idea of sketching. I have a fabric container box of slightly used or not used sketch books of all sizes and types. I do not need a new sketch book!  I bought a new one for this project!  It’s a Strathmore 400 series soft cover art journal. There was a mixed media option which would allow for some painting but at the moment, I am just working on trying to do a sketch a day.  I am not quite there yet. In 9 days I have managed 6 quick sketches.  To achieve what I want I have go outside.  This is an ongoing problem as I get really anxious about going out, especially to draw. By the end of the year I hope I have conquered this fear.

Order is latest (yesterday) to last

The New Year is a knocking

and although I have been working on my painting for the last week, I did not finish as I planned. I have been working on this painting off and on since October and it has been through many changes. The latest occurred today. The day I thought I would be finished but the Buddha was just not working. So I scrapped away the paint,  I start again, scrap again and again. Problem was I was just repeating my previous mistakes, so this last time I decided on a radical change and I think it might just work. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

this is how it looked at the end of the day on Saturday


this is how it looked at the end of today.

By the end of tomorrow who know where it will stand. I will not say it will be finished tomorrow but I think it’s closer than it ever has been.

This year has been much more successful than normal for me. I decided right at the beginning of the year, I would focus on painting and drawing, no bead embroidery.

I attended several life drawing classes which in the end I decided was not the direction I wanted to go. Having spend my formative years at Camberwell, I have this need for the model to be placed properly after breaks, not the haphazard way they seem to do here. ¬†Also the¬†room was too dark (no natural light whatsoever) and relied too much on artificial light (usually one or 2 spotlights).¬† That is something else I realised I need, natural light or at least good light. My work is progressing away from the purely observational stance I was trying as I realise I am not a ‘tidy’ artist, smudges abound in my drawing and paintings and to be honest, I am just not that talented in that way, much as I wish I was. However, the one thing I still need is good light as the colours just go haywire otherwise. Next year, I need to investigate into getting better light for my studio, as sometimes I do think about working up in the studio in the evening, then I go up to be confronted with the dullness and orangeness of the lighting which just saps any energy or enthusiasm I have.

I have also worked in oils, water-soluble oils and acrylics. ¬†My favourite medium is acrylics but oils weren’t as difficult as I remembered. I am not so sure about the water-soluble oils but that might be more to with the brand I am using which seems to have a very limited colour range and very tacky to handle. I have also worked a little on my understanding on how to mix colours. That might seem like an obvious issue and how in decades of mixing colours, have I not worked that one out. Simple, I guessed and hoped for the best!

So next year, I hope to continue with the progress I have been making this year and not give into the depression I get about my work. I have no excuses but myself.