Seaside Sketchbook

‘The One That Got Away’ ~ Watercolour on Paper


I thought I’d take five minutes to share some of the sketches from my holiday with you (and work done at home inspired by my travels), as promised in my last post.  

I tend to carry a small hard backed sketch book with me in my bag most of the time (either a small moleskine or A6 Daler Rowney), along with a pencil and fine line waterproof black pen (a Staedler number 01), so that I can catch interesting moments that might make for good paintings later on.

Do you remember the photograph I took of the harbour wall in Falmouth in my Holiday Post?  Here it is:

I drew the above sketch whilst waiting for a little boat to take us back to St Mawes, just before it started to rain!
Drawing in a sketch book has the same ability to transport me back to a place in time as does a favourite tune.  I can recall sounds, atmosphere, scents, how I was feeling, and the weather just by looking through my sketches.  

These little boats were drawn from our car, parked up above the beach at Portreath.  It had lashed it down with  monsoonal style rain all morning and we had taken our wee girl to ‘Build a Bear’ as the beach was out of the question.  After this, we drove the odd mile or so to the coast and after we had finished our picnic, all huddled in a steamy damp car (no, not the nicest of scenarios!), the rest of our little party, wrapped up in waterproofs,  took her down on the sand to look for shells.  The rain had turned to drizzle with a blustery wind by this point, and I remember making the most of ten minutes solitude to capture a couple of little boats in my book, that I could see out the window to my right.

Looking at this sketch now, I also remember armies of dark grey clouds marching heavily across the horizon, and the sea was leaden and dark, with a bright aquamarine band on the shoreline.  Raindrops spattered across the car windscreen, and gulls shreiked and harassed the occasional huddled figures of tourists, who seemed intent on making the best of it despite the soggy conditions.

When I came home, I used the sketch above to do a sunnier painting:

I like turning something ‘real’ into something more illustrative!
The top painting is unfinished, I decided to begin the second one below instead and embellished it with stamped letters.

The paints I used for these pictures are my New and Compleeeedly Delicious White Night set (shown above in spanking new condition before I got stuck in!).
The paints are Russian, and have been produced by a company in St Petersburg since 1934.  They use very fine pigments and even honey in their colours.  The colours themselves are extremely fine, fantastic to blend and mix and are proving to be a very valuable investment.

I have been using them again this morning, to create something slightly different…

‘Party’ ~ Watercolour on Paper

I hope you have a fabulous weekend, thanks for dropping by – i’ll be back soon to talk about crocheted blankets on a budget, and an Almost Finished shawl!

Love J x

Rediscovering Watercolour and a Promise


I’ve made a new promise to myself this week.  As part of stepping back and re-prioritising my little life, and making it better and easier on myself, I realised that during the self imposed busy~ness I’d created, I had also neglected to do something very enjoyable.


The realisation that I hadn’t drawn in several weeks was a bit of a shock if I’m honest.  I’m an artist, I’m meant to draw, indeed I LOVE to draw!  I carry a tiny moleskine with me in my bag in case of emergency sketch missions, or if an idea comes to me for a painting or illustration whilst I’m out and about.  But even this has been left untouched.

As I realised how much time had gone by since I last drew or painted, I decided to make a promise to myself, and that was to try and draw at least one thing a day in one of my sketchbooks.  Now you might be reading this and thinking ‘does she never learn??? – off she goes again, filling up her life with Stuff…won’t be long til we’re hearing about how tired and worn out she is etc, etc…(Yawn).’

I promise it’s not like that.  This is a gift to myself, because I love making art and it’s part of who I am.  Without it, I feel a little bit empty or lopsided.  It makes me whole.
So, for a few minutes a day, I am going to draw because it feels good to be in touch with that part of myself.  And if I get longer, I will paint too.  I can probably do a decent sketch of something in the time it takes to watch an advert on TV.

(brightened up in Photoshop – really like the effect of this)

Just this morning (after being inspired by Springwatch again) I decided to do a quick sketch of a little blue tit that was in my garden, sitting in the eucalyptus tree (which is sadly dead and needs cutting down following that extraordinarily cold winter).  The birds still like it though, and use it to cluster on with their offspring.  I was able to capture one little chap fairly quickly (you have to be fast when it’s a live bird you are drawing) and render him in watercolour and ink.

Ah.  Watercolour and Ink.

I used to paint in watercolour very regularly, and then over the last few years I have been working in acrylics more or less constantly.  Now sadly, due to neglect or lack of use (which amounts to the same thing really) most of my watercolour tubes had dried up.  I know you can cut the tubes open to use, but I was feeling frivolous so I ordered myself some new ones (which I’m still waiting for and am going beside myself with excitement about).  However, there were still some that were useable, and my palette still had a few decent colours left on it too!

It’s a strange feeling, using a different medium after spending so long with something familiar.  It’s a bit like being back in the classroom again, learning and stretching yourself and watercolour is so different to acrylic paint.  The fluidity, the transparency…I’d forgotten just how delicate they can be, but I was soon in the swing of it again.  It’s a wonderful paint medium and I think it’s fun to step out of the box and test your levels of comfort with something forgotten or new. 

So I’m on my art journey again.  I feel much happier.  My days also seem extra spacious of late and I’m certainly feeling better for the changes I’ve been making.  I’m making time for healthy breakfasts (although I still need my coffee kick lol)…

…and little bursts of retail therapy (well, when we’ve been a bit over-run with stuff, and feeling fed up it’s nice to cheer ourselves with a small treat, isn’t it?)
So I was super delighted to discover this Sarah Smith apron on sale at just £2.50!

Which will complement this, when it arrives:

 (image from Amazon)

By all accounts, this book is one of the best of the moment.  I had a peep whilst I was in Waterstones at the weekend, and I knew it was one of those books that I Just Had To Have on my bookshelf.  You know the kind I mean.  If you click the Amazon link under the picture, you will be able to see some of the mouth watering treats inside!

Well – it’s time for some lunch, might even manage to sneak in another crocheted flower in between bites of my sarnie!  The shawl/wrap is coming on great, I’m really pleased with it and it’s nice to be using up some of those remnants of wool from my basket at last. 

Right, I’m away!  I look forward to catching up with you soon, sending love
Julia x

Salt Breezes and Other Stories


This has been a funny old week – one of restless mind (yes, again) which was partially soothed by a nice morning making Rocky Road but followed by a general unsettled~ness which began with a very tiny need to be by the sea, and which turned into a bigger and bigger one as the week drew on.

Saturday promised to be a fine day, and without much persuading we gathered ourselves, buckets, spades, shrimping nets and hefty picnic and drove off pronto to the east coast, to Filey, where we set up camp on the vast sandy beach and enjoyed a warm and happy day which we finished off with delicious salt and vinegary fish and chips on a bench overlooking the Brigg.

I’m so happy by the sea, I can hardly put it into words. Its all the simple things like the wonderful scent of the salty sea breezes, the fresh and tangy air, the views, the light heartedness that inevitably comes from being by the coast…There are other little moments too, like that divine feeling of soft white sand under your feet, and cool crystal waves lapping about your ankles as a seagull cries overhead…

It was a tonic, but alas we had to drive home that evening as the following day there was a rather Important Job to be done.

We were off to buy our tent!

Well, at long last we have brought it home, along with a few other goodies such as a little stove and cooking set…and you probably want a peep at it don’t you? Oh – well alright then!! Here you go!

This is our new portable home!! Next weekend it will be coming with us to the Cotswolds for its first outing. We are having a trial run (a sensible thing to do we’ve been told) and are going to put it up in my parents back garden first, to familiarise ourselves with it, and then probably go loopy with excitement and jump about in it a bit, like you do!

We are all looking forward to the adventures we are no doubt going to have, and I will try my hardest to remember to squeeze the camera in the car somewhere and take lots of pictures.

So what else has been going on here?

Well, some art work has been done – here are a couple of line drawings that I did and rendered with greyscale watercolour. These sorts of drawings are fairly quick to do and great fun, it’s almost like messing about and not ‘proper’ drawing at all, the imagination can go wild!

This one above looks a bit like me, going wild in the kitchen on baking day…!

…and this one was inspired by my two little nephews, I think they’re monster hunting or something boyish that boys generally do when equiped with torches and much mischief!

The picture at the bottom of this post is from my sketch book, and was done using watercolour and inks. It was just something I did for fun, but overall I’m liking the effect of ink and watercolour together, and the rather scratchy way I’ve edged it all. I generally work with acrylic paints and so it’s nice to experiment with new stuff to see what works (and what doesn’t) and move away from what’s familiar. I think I’ll be making some new pictures with the ink in future!

Well, someone Small is in the sandpit, the sun is shining and I can feel a spot of crochet coming on, a nice and relaxing pursuit for as long as I can get away with it methinks!!

I hope you all have a nice weekend, we are off to my Mum’s village tomorrow for the yearly Carnival, I just hope the weather holds!

Til next time, much love and thanks for visiting me today!
J x

Tiny Art

Wasn’t I lucky to have these pretty anenomes and daffodils in bloom on my windowledge over my birthday weekend? I had to share them with you 🙂
A tiny pot of springtime goodness bloomed on the back step by the little soapstone frog…there are signs of the new season everywhere right now, its so lovely to see it!
Anyway, back to todays pursuits!

This morning, the tiny one and myself got down to the serious business of making flapjack – its a very necessary staple in our home, and I also went on to make a tasty (or at least I hope it will be as its a new recipie) spinach, potato and goats cheese tart for our tea later today! Busy, busy is the word today folks! When little one went up for her nap, I got busy again, this time with pastels and paints. I created these little ACEO’s (which stands for Art Card Edition & Originals) – so much fun to do and now available in my Etsy shop! Hurrah!!

‘Just Hanging Out’

‘Nose to the Breeze’

‘Lets Go’

As well as these little paintings, which I did using watercolour and ink on acid free watercolour paper, I spent some time adding to my latest picture ‘Can we come too’ which was initially started as a submission piece for the art show….and which yesterday I spent debating whether to continue with, in fact I convinced myself so much to begin new work I posted about it here.

However, as the day wore on and I kept passing it, propped up on the side, I felt that perhaps I may have been a bit too hasty in my decision to shove it on one side in favour of totally new stuff.
Such are the whirlings of an artistic gal’s mind…
Hmmmmm….so, last night, I decided I’d give it another shot, you see the thing is, with some of my work it gets to a point where Im very involved, and then circumstances arise which makes it nigh on impossible to work on it – this time it was visiting family and exciting trips out and about, and when this happens a kind of apathy sets in (well, with me it does at any rate). Almost 10 days later when I have time to work at it again, I look at it and feel quite detached from it. This may sound strange to say, but the painting had become a stranger, so not much wonder I was seduced by some unknown man’s compliments of something Id done before, anything to take me onto something new and perhaps far more interesting than have to get stuck into something half finished.
Its just how I am, Ive always been this way.
So, this afternoon, after drifting off to sleep thinking about it, I added some depth to the acrylic ground work with my buttery oil pastels, and so far it looks like this:

Still alot to do, a long way to go…but despite what I said yesterday, I think I have to give it a chance…don’t you?

Call me fickle…but Id love to hear your thoughts! 🙂
Love J x

A change of plan

‘Safe Home’ ~ A commission piece

Ive not been around this last week as we have had family visiting, so Ive been out on lots of trips to lovely parks, farms, bird reserves etc, and at the weekend it was my birthday (hurrah!!) so there were cakes, shopping trips and a celebration meal at our lovely village pub!

But now, all is quiet. Im pottering around today, and generally musing on something huge.

I am making a big decision to change the work Im entering for the art show, and this is something that has been playing on my mind for the last few days…kind of like an itch that needs scratching. I am starting to acknowledge the comments that I receive about certain pieces of my artwork, and right now I am very aware that some of my art attracts more attention than others.

As those of you who read my blog will probably know, I have spent the last few weeks working on some new art, works which are illustrative and feature my character ‘Little Red’ and her band of merry animal companions. Im half way through the third one and I was sitting looking at it the other evening with my other half, who happened to mention that he’d given my business card to a chap who he’d met and that he’d heard back from him that he was really taken with my red boat pictures. Now, he’s not the only person to pick these out from all the work on my website and its becoming such a thing that I cant ignore the impact that this type of work has on people.

Suffice to say, the original works are now happily living in Brisbane having being sold more or less instantly (and then this was followed up by a commission request for two more, one of which you can see on todays blog post).

I am really enjoying the character work, but I still feel drawn to creating work with ink and watercolour ~ landscapes with my red boat…Im looking at my website and thinking it needs an overhaul, Im looking at the calendar and thinking I need to get things moving as I have to have 3 paintings ready and framed up for May 10th and with a little one to look after this is no easy feat.

So panic sets in.

I wonder if Im ever going to be able to do it, and I talk to B about it and ask him what he would do if he were me – continue with the character work (which is almost finished) or start from scratch with some totally new work. Im concerned now that Im leaping from one thing to another in haste, that Im not thinking it through, that Im too random…or something…

He said; ‘What does your heart tell you the right thing is to do?’

I know the answer to that already.

I dont exactly make life easy for myself, but I cant live with the consequences of knowing Ive put work out there that doesnt feel right. Im going to have to really knuckle down and work hard now in the spare moments I can find – my little daylight bulb lamp will be brought out again and the crochet may have to be put on one side for a while, but I know in my bones it will be worth the extra effort.

Flying by the seat of my pants again!!

…and still finalising the workshop Im running at the hospital next monday…

…and Im helping out at the Craft Candy fair on saturday…

No time to waste, catch you all soon!

J x

Somewhere in the mayhem…

…I found peace.

It felt like a miracle – after several days of major work and upheaval we have new windows and smooth flat walls in our kitchen – the rest of the house is still upside down but I managed to clear enough space to work today for a little while.

At the moment Im creating a class for a student Ive got next week, so its all go but in a good way. Im sending more prints out to the gallery and designing some new Christmas cards, but I expect it will be a couple of weeks before they are put together.

When I have lots going on, I can easily feel overwhelmed, I don’t make time for myself as much because Im constantly running through mental lists like ‘go to the bank and get the plasterer his money’ and ‘go to the DIY store to buy screws and new sockets and switches’ as well as ‘ironing, cooking and cleaning’ and the big one ‘keeping everything dangerous from the kitchen out of the way of investigative little fingers (which is pretty much most things – lol)’

So I plan extra long baths, where I can dream up new art work in peace. I have been listening to some great tunes on my ipod in the evenings to help me unwind and have discovered a somewhat unbelieveable distraction called Bowling Buddies on Facebook which has relieved me of some unwanted tensions (beware, if you seek this game out you stand to become addicted!!)

Another way Im coping with the strains of decorating our kitchen (perhaps the most utilised room in the home) is to look at the positive aspects of the experience – to visualise the ‘before and after’ that I have in my mind, to pick the soft furnishings, to browse cool tiles in shades of mellow sage and faded blues, to flick through shabby chic websites and choose wrought iron heart hooks, a new clock and french linen tea towels…its so exciting!

I can be creative amongst the worst mess!

Im taking pictures of the work in progress, when the whole thing is completed, I’ll share here the creative project with you all.

Oh ~ a nice thing happened – I was put in the Etsy treasury! Well, one of my paintings was! Here’s the link if you want to take a peek:

I’ll check back soon…probably next week.

Sending soup mugs of warmth and crispy autumnal walks to you-

J x