Freesias, purchased today and rendered in Caran d’Ache oil pastel, directly from life, over three very enjoyable hours. The support is leaf-green Art Spectrum Colourfix paper.

I’m reluctantly posting a digital pic rather than a scan, due, not only, to lack of access to our home network (the complexities of modern technology!), but also to the painting’s overall “bigness and largity” – to quote Fast Show weatherman Willi Wooliman.

I’ll let you know the dimensions when I have access to the scanner again; and I will post a scanned image, to show you just how much vibrancy is missing from this one. In the meantime, I just had to share it. I am incredibly excited to be painting again!



I have just discovered Slide!!

Benjer was painted in soft pastel back in October 2004. He was my first commissioned piece, a surprise gift from a friend for her mother (his owner) in Chicago, and you can follow his progress via the image sequence below. It may be of interest to anyone who wishes to try their hand at an animal portrait in pastels, and wonders how somebody else (who didn’t have a clue when she set out to paint a dog for the first time – and this was that dog!) approached it.

Blue is not the only colour


Surprise flowers arrived for me the other day, from a friend I haven’t heard from in months: 15 gorgeous dendrobium orchids, with a note thanking me for a favour I’d done her.

Managed a little oil pastel sketch of one or two of the blooms.

Eric Maisel’s book The Van Gogh Blues has a lot of wise things to say about the relationship between creativity and depression. Yesterday, three days after I opened its pages, I found my way back to the Thursday afternoon art sessions I’d abandoned this past month for a tangle of psychological reasons.

It’s been a good week.

Outside, Inside … Outside


Jubilee Gardens, Ely, 7 Feb 2008, from life. Pen & watercolour in small hand*book journal

Sofa in the “Blue Room”, 9 Feb 2008 – a 20-minute sketch from life. Pen & wax pastel on blue art paper pasted across a double spread of my small hand*book journal. This is my #9 in the WetCanvas 100 Pastel Sketches Challenge.

London Plane tree, Dean’s Meadow, Ely, 14 Feb 2008, from a photo. Too cold to sketch out in the open, so I took a snapshot and uploaded it to my screen so I could try to untangle my subject. Sepia pen & wax pastel on yellow A4 Canford paper

While you were sleeping … Boast post #2


I was struck by many things about Audrey Niffenegger’s astonishing novel The Time-Traveler’s Wife when I read it in early 2007 – just before I started this blog – and among them was a tender description of one of the characters, an artist, making a pastel drawing, from life, of a sleeping baby.

As a pastellist, I yearned to do this with my own infant daughter. She’s 18 months old now, and still I have not accomplished it. I found it impossible to sketch her back in those early days, when the only place she would give in to a daytime nap was in my arms; but from the past year I have a handful of small pen sketches made of her while she slept in her pushchair. I thought I would share them as a montage. (The one in the bottom right-hand corner was done 5 days ago while in a moving car, where (strangely) it is easier to draw than to write.)

I have painted M in oil pastels, but “only” from a photo, as shared here. One day , perhaps, she will be patient enough to indulge her mummy while I sketch her awake, and from life.

Meanwhile, here is a record of the moment when she stopped simply making lines back and forth across the page, and started visibly experimenting with mark-making: she was 17 months old. These drawings remind me of abstract work that I have seen, and I’m very fond of them. To me they’re like an exotic script, or some strange dance notation.

Happy daze

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Much knitting and crocheting has been going on in the drinking establishments of Ely and London recently, and I am proud to count myself among those responsible for the knitting (a little of it, in my case), crocheting (a fair bit) and drinking (rather a lot).

Thursday 28 Feb saw the inaugural meeting of the Ely KTog at the Lamb Hotel: the headcount was nine (if one includes the small and very cute head of one knitter’s month-old baby) and the evening was such a fabulous success that it will now be held fortnightly. We all felt very much at home in our cosy little corner of the bar. This is the less unsuccessful of the two photos I took …

I’d been casting on the same sock repeatedly for several days, however, and never advancing beyond row 2, so when the time came to head down to London on Saturday, I put it to one side and grabbed something less taxing. I’m taking a second stab at Interweave Crochet’s Boteh Scarf … this time in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in the “Desert Flower” colourway, and using a 3mm hook rather than the recommended 4mm in the hopes of avoiding the limp seaweed effect that afflicted my first attempt.

The first triangle was crocheted on the train journey from Ely to Kings Cross; the second while glugging wine at The Enterprise, a pub in Chalk Farm, after a lunchtime browse round Camden’s markets; and the third over coffee at the Roundhouse CafĂ© with Claire, whose cabling skills and headless body you can see here. Claire and I did a lot of laughing about knickers, as I recall. We are nothing if not intellectuals.

One of the staff enquired and enthused about what we were doing, which made a truly refreshing change from the usual sniggering and/or bewilderment. And Claire gifted me this fragrant cedar heart to keep the moths away from me yarn.

Jane Birkin’s one-off concert in aid of the charity Anno’s Africa was the reason I’d chosen the Roundhouse as our meeting place. The show rounded off a superb day and was totally worth missing my last direct train for … I got home around 1.15am, still buzzing.