Painting of the week - Little Unicorn

I thought I'd take progress shots for this painting of the week. It starts, of course, with a  sketch or two. Which then gets transferred onto some hot pressed water colour paper and stretched onto a mounting board. Left overnight to dry thoroughly.

Then the first very pale yellow under wash is laid down. And left overnight again to dry.

First the floor is added...

When that is completely dry, the background wall of the imaginary setting is filled in, which includes a small crescent paper moon hanging by a knotted thread.

Next comes the very pale violet blue tone of the unicorn toy - which is white -  but even white has tones.

 The final top colours are painted in.

 And finally, when it is bone dry, the pencil work to finish it off.

I left enough bleed around the edges so that it would fit nicely into the 4 inch by 4 inch mount. And popped it up for sale.


Little ruffled dogs

It's been a few years since I made this design, but what's not to like about a little dog with a bunchy ruff?


Each has my log ribbon sewn into their underneath.

And each comes with a signed name tag. They are to be found in the 'needle felt animals' section of my shop here, should anyone want to give one a loving home.

Painting of the week comes up next!


Little Post Office

It's been a bit grey and overcast here recently, so when we finally had a day of sun, I cycled over to the nearest village to post a couple of orders. The landscape was winter bare, and spring is still some way off, despite the clear skies and warmth.

The village has just two shops - the tiny butchers, with its original beams still visible...

..and the Post Office, which is no more than a  doll's house. Marjorie had a rest outside, while I did my errand. We are both out of shape and her tyres need pumping.

And then the return journey home, through the funny twisting lane out of the village.

 Stopping to take a scenic shot as I pushed Marjorie up the big hill.

I dropped in to the farmer next door, to give them a small present or two for cutting the hedge recently and visited the new calves in an old shed.

 They are cautious.

But still curious enough to wander up close, to see what's happening.


Painting of the week - Toadstool

This year, I have set myself the aim of creating a small painting per week. I've kind of cheated here, as I started this one last year, but only finished it last week. So it is unseasonably autumnal. The delicate layers of wash need overnight drying, so even a small piece can take a few days.

Whether I can stick to my resolution remains to be seen - but if anyone fancies an out of season toadstool, it's up for sale in paintings section of my shop here with details  of measurements.

Next week's painting is completely different...


Hedge trimming

Two days after Christmas, we heard a commotion coming down the lane and were delighted to see that the farmer next door had come out on this cold, bleak and dark day, to trim our very over grown hedge (and our neighbours too)


He'd offered to do it back in the summer as we chatted over the fence. It hasn't been done for five years - it wasn't something I felt able to cope with in the first couple of years of trying to survive Andy. So it got more and more out of control; way beyond a manual job with hand clippers, and hiring a contractor would have been beyond my means.


So hooray for the kind farmer, who took it all right down and removed any lethal branches sticking out into the lane. I was rather overcome and gave him two hugs and a kiss on the cheek, which I don't think he was expecting, but Joe said seemed to please him in a rather taken aback way.  I swept the road clear of all the trimmings, and I'm sure the local cyclists are happier with it.

The birds are a bit upset at having their cover reduced, but it will soon grow back again. And this photo has reminded me that this year I have to get rid of the nasty big plastic pot on the wall which I have hated since day one and is another thing I haven't dealt with yet.


Polar bears and snow

My last workshop of the year was scheduled to be Sunday 10th December at Guthrie and Ghani in Birmingham. It was one that I had to be 100% prepared for, as it was a new teaching project and needed a proper written pattern, as well as quite a few extra materials and demo models. However, despite working up until the Friday, I had a nagging feeling that the weather forecast was going to somewhat interfere with my plans. Shropshire was due for an 'awful lot' of snow on Sunday, starting in the early hours. When I learned that taxi companies in town were not running on Friday night, I made a difficult decision and after chatting to the shop owner, we decided to cancel. Which meant letting ten people down and losing this month's income. However on Sunday morning, we woke up  to this.

 Which didn't seem that bad at first, until it carried on...

and on...

 and on.

 The road outside was iced over and only the occasional tractor or SUV went slowly past. The county ground to a halt.

This amount of snow might seem laughable to countries who get it on a regular basis every year. However, over here, on this scale, it is a rare occurrence and we're not usually prepared for it. We had two feet of snow over 24 hours. 

So in the end, I felt I had made the right decision, because even if I could somehow have reached the train station and managed to arrive at Birmingham, I would not have been able to return home, and I'm a bit too old to be sleeping on a station bench overnight. With the temperatures plummeting and the upstairs of the cottage feeling like an ice box, we did the sensible thing and camped in the only warm room, by the wood burner, where we slept each night until the rain came a couple of days later and washed most of the snow away.

Toadstools and cottages

It's been a while, and life quietly ticks over. Nothing much happens and then it's winter workshop season. I held my first local standalone session last month in Shrewsbury at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. I had booked the modest little garden room, but due to circumstances, I was upgraded to this lovely space. It was my first workshop since the summer, but the old routine kicked in as soon as I begin setting up.

The Reserve used to be part of the old Abbey and has been well restored. There is a beautiful modern stained glass window with little etched birds and animals hiding in the undergrowth. 

Everyone arrived safely and were soon at work. 

This is my favourite workshop subject to teach and a particularly enjoyable group to work with. A couple of weeks later there was an impromptu workshop held at Ferndell Bed and Breakfast again, which booked out within a few days. This time the project was a Christmas Cottage. 

As usual, there was a lovely home made lunch, with Prosecco (though sadly not for me, as I was teaching). The wood burner was kept going all day.

And later, afternoon tea with home made brownies and cream.

So two workshops down and the biggest one to follow. Which, unlike these, didn't exactly go to plan...