Thursday’s artist has far to go …

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Thursday afternoons are now my painting time: a four-hour stretch once a week where I am allowed not to feel guilty that I’m not doing my freelance work, not cleaning the house, and (the big one) not with my daughter.

This is 8×10″, and is based on an oil pastel I made a couple of years back. This time I used soft pastels over a gouache underpainting on leaf green Colourfix paper. Though setting out above all to have fun, I was painting under the burden of anticipation (how would it feel after all this time to touch those velvety pastels to the surface of my favourite paper?) and was distinctly underwhelmed with the outcome; but for some reason, my digital camera has been kind. Perhaps it’s taken pity on me. In any case, the on-screen version looks less messy than the one sitting on my table easel.

This is Sweden Crag, in England’s Lake District. When Paul and I went walking here one day back in spring 2005, our path back down the mountain was made impassable by squishy marshland, and in trying to figure out an alternative route, we were lost for a while. Now I am climbing another mountain, it seems, finding my way back to a medium I used to love, which now feels so unfamiliar.
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Boast post #1

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I knew (ok, I hoped) that it was only a matter of time before I’d be forced to share this sketchblog space with my daughter: her father and I did, after all, buy the poor child a t-shirt bearing the legend “future artist” while she was snuggled up, unsuspecting, in the womb.

And here she is, putting her crayons through their paces. Wax crayons … wax pastels … oil pastels … It will surely be a natural progression!


Computer meltdown means I’m presently unable to scan her scribblings to share with you, but she has astonished me lately: at 17 months, the experimentation and expressiveness that goes into her mark-making is undeniable and, to me, very exciting.

not even the rain …

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I had to modify CrochetMe’s Basic Fingerless Mittens slightly to allow for the fact that my hands are titchier than the average woman’s: just 2 fewer stitches in my foundation row and a another decrease of 2 towards the wrist have made a vast difference to the fit. The yarn is Cashmere Merino Silk Aran, and though it’s not visible in the photo, I added a picot edging at the wrist.

Despite the simplicity of the pattern, the softness of the yarn and the stretchy fit makes these the most comfortable, the most practical, the warmest fingerless mittens I’ve ever worn. On a cold day (and we’re having plenty of those, despite the blue that’s been creeping back into the skies this week) I can happily knit, sketch, dig in my purse for change or pull out baby wipes while wearing these. That’s what’s known as a result.

Spicing up Sunday

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I have my very own domestic god. Yesterday, he baked some subtly-spicy Sunday afternoon cinnamon biscuits, and the 3 of us devoured them eagerly.

Since my window of opportunity for uploading sketches is even narrower than the one I have for actually doing them, I figured I’d better share this now. A couple of strokes are still needed to redefine the shadow of the plate. It took 45 mins, and is my #8 in the WetCanvas 100 Pastel Sketches Challenge. Yum.

9×9″ oil pastel on dark blue Canford paper

Old Year, New Year

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I hadn’t sketched for a while, but Melody was given a xylophone for Christmas, and the areas of bright, solid colour seemed to invite a little playtime with my new set of Aquatone watercolour sticks. This is across 2 pages of my small hand*book journal. EDM Challenge #17: Draw a musical instrument.

Back in February/March 2007, I’d only just joined the EDM group, and I didn’t post the following sketches because I was trying out a Danny Gregoryesque mix of drawing and journalling, and felt uncomfortable exposing my clumsy, rambling thoughts to public view. I was also tentative with the no-pencil-first approach to drawing in ink.

My very first EDM sketch was of M’s Bumbo® seat (she couldn’t sit unaided back then); the second was a toy we knew as Adam Butterfly, sadly long since lost, who played a high-pitched version of “You Are My Sunshine” when you squeezed his bottom. The third in the montage came a little later: it’s a gum soother we used to chill in the fridge, and illustrates EDM #77: Draw something cold or cool

I’m fond of these pages now, as they conjure up a life dominated by a 6-month-old baby; and while life continues to be just as dominated by her as she toddles her way at high speed towards a year and a half, it’s odd to be reminded that the paraphernalia so familiar to one phase of a little one’s development has no place whatsoever in the next.