Friday 30 November 2012


Where has the year gone??

I won't post any arty stuff tonight as I'm awaiting approval on two commissions so they might need a bit of tweaking.  I'll post them once I know they've been accepted and I can call them finished.

In the meantime, I had a real 'blast from the past' today by way of an email from Singapore.  I haven't seen Lyn and Glenn since I stopped being 'ex pat' and  left Singapore about 15 years ago.   The scary thing is that their young children who I remember very well are now adults - two are in their twenties.   Where does the time go??   I didn't know that Glenn was artistic but this is what he has been up to:

Glenn's paintings and books

I look forward to seeing more of his work soon ... and Lyn will be setting up a Blog for him I believe :-)

If you saw my earlier posts about the unidentified plants that have appeared in my garden recently, you'll recall that we decided they were Yuccas but I didn't know what variety.   The buds were quite deep red coloured.
Well this is what they looked like a couple of days ago.  The red buds have turned into creamy/pink flowers but I still can't work out the variety.   I've been trawling the internet and the variety that looks most similar is Yucca Torreyi (Torrey's soapwort) but that appears native to the USA.   Of the UK varieties Yucca Gloriosa seems likely but the pictures I've seen have variegated leaves - mine has plain green leaves.  

So I'm still stumped .. any ideas please. This is a photo taken on Wednesday, before the heavy frosts started.  Actually, the plant doesn't seem any the worse for being exposed to frost

The buds are still a long way from being properly open so it will be interesting to see whether it is frost hardy or will just die back.

That's it for tonight.  Enjoy your Friday Evening (and the weekend of course).

Tuesday 27 November 2012


I emailed this latest progress picture to my client earlier today as wasn't sure whether she wanted a background added.   I'd got to the stage where I need to add finer fur/whiskers detail but can't do this till the background (if required) is in place.

She's very happy with the progress so far I'm pleased to say.  No background needed so will get back to work on it at the end of the week and finish it in good time to be framed and given as a surprise anniversary gift

and today is hubby's birthday.   Not saying exactly how old he is but he now qualifies to draw his State Pension.

We're going out for a meal at a new restaurant David wants to try.  They pride themselves on sourcing all ingredients locally and therefore the menu consists of whatever they've purchased on the day!!  David spoke with the chef on the phone this afternoon and is very excited about tonight's menu offering ... 

He will be driving as I really don't enjoy driving at night these days and so I dedicate this to David

Happy birthday David ;-)

Monday 26 November 2012


A little more progress on the Spaniel today

this is where I stopped when the light got very poor this afternoon ...

One step back from this ..

Must admit I kept getting sidetracked as each time I went into the kitchen to make coffee (and I get through a lot of coffee when drawing) I kept seeing little birds at the feeders hanging from our trees. 

Each time I got my camera ready the birds disappeared.   Reminded me of the 1989 Kit Kat advert where a photographer spends hours at the zoo trying to capture footage of the pandas - they wait till he takes a break (with a Kit Kat of course) and turns his back on them and they emerge from their den on roller skates and perform a lively dance ... disappearing again when he's finished his snack.     Does anyone else remember that ad??

Despite all the false starts ... I did manage to catch some of them unawares at various times of the day.  I'm sure there will be more opportunities in a couple of weeks' time when all the berry/fruits have finally been eaten and the birds will be more dependant on the fatballs and seeds we put out for them.

Here's a few of my pictures from today.  They are taken through double glazed windows but I'm not too unhappy with the results.

Starlings tend to visit in large groups and chase the other birds off.  They are noisy and argumentative and very, very greedy.   A plus point is that in their haste to polish off the fatballs they drop lots of bits so the ground-feeding birds benefit afterwards.

This house-sparrow stood his ground for as long as he could against the starlings.  He's certainly tucking it away  here ...

and a Dunnock.  The easiest way to distinguish between the female House Sparrow and the dunnock is the shape of the Dunnock's beak which is longer and more pointed than the House-Sparrow's.  Its a much shyer bird than the House-Sparrow.

A lovely blackbird who was feasting on the pyracantha berries

A lovely little Blue Tit.    We get Great Tits and Black Caps at the feeder also, but they weren't being very obliging today.

Male Chaffinch - this is a bit misty looking but it was raining at the time

a Jay.   It was getting dark by the time he turned up so not the best picture but despite their size our local Jays are quite timid and don't spend long feeding in the garden.  I just love the fabulous blue colouring in their wings - very distinctive when they're in flight.

Well that's it for today ... more art tomorrow and hopefully I'll have got the spaniel advanced enough to be able to email my client for critique/acceptance.      

Sunday 25 November 2012


The dividing fence between our house and our elderly neighbour's place was blown over in the recent wet and windy weather.   I hoped we'd be able to re-erect it but it turned out the builder (bless) had put the wooden supports direct into the soil - and we're on wet/clay soil.  As it wasn't raining this morning we went out to investigate but found that the timber was rotted and we had no option but to take it all down.    Going to have to bite the bullet and have a new one built (properly) once the weather gets better.

But we still fared much better than all the poor folks who live in beautiful South West England.  The floods have been quite horrendous and I feel so sorry for the people whose homes were flooded with dirty water.

Being the first dry morning we've had for a while, I did a bit of garden clearance and tidied away the hedgehog feeding station (they've hibernated now) and topped up all the bird feeders/water dishes etc.

Guess who was the first garden visitor to test the new fatballs?  

So, yet again, I wasn't as productive with my art/commissions as planned .. but I did manage a couple of hours and ... tomorrow is another day!!

The little girl/toddler portrait has now been approved after I slimmed down the face a little more ... this is the finished picture and it will be wending its way to my client next week.

The colours are more 'true' here as I photographed it in daylight

and the spaniel portrait - not as far advanced as I'd hoped but I'm getting the base colours down which is always a bit tedious (and messy) so looking forward to being able to start on adding fine detail.

This is a rubbish picture as I photographed it under fluorescent lights ... but its pastel on light grey pastelmat (looks very pink here).   Early days yet  but you can see what a pretty, interesting face she has.

Hope you've all stayed warm and dry and had a good weekend.

Saturday 24 November 2012


Thanks to all who gave advice and support re. the Blogger issue I posted about recently.   Since my post I've been directed to several other sites where fellow Bloggers have received the same message from Blogger (all within a week or so).   I think the biggest problem is that when changes were made in April 2012 we were either not alerted to them, or we failed to understand the significance.   Picture uploads were not being resized and therefore were eating into valuable storage space.    Anybody who purchased additional space with Picasa before April 2012 got a very good rate for increased storage ... from April this year the rate is much higher and I personally won't pay it.

Anyway,  I've spent most of yesterday on my Picasa site resizing recent pictures so I now have a bit of 'breathing space' re. capacity - its a slow and tedious job but worth it in my opinion.   Now I'm aware of the problem I'll ensure all photos uploaded to Blogger are reduced in size prior to upload and they won't then be counted in the storage allocation.
Other ideas that have been suggested are using an external photo storage site such as Photobucket or Flickr and uploading pics from there, rather than from one's PC.   Any uploads direct from the PC (and not from an external URL) automatically gets put into Picasa's storage system.

Another idea (clever I thought) is to add another author to your Blog - then write Posts via the new author and use their space allowance!!

Arty stuff:

I made some minor adjustments to the 3 Collie Portrait, added whiskers etc and that has been approved so will be en route to the owner next week:

I've made some adjustments to the little girl also.  The ref. photo shows her with a broad smile which makes her cheeks look very broad and I was asked to slim them down a little.   I've also softened the skintones and altered the smile slightly.   Just waiting to hear whether I'm to slim the face down further ... once happy with the face, I'll put the final touches to the clothing/background etc.

I started work today on a beautiful spaniel.    Haven't got very far really, just outlined the head and sketched in the main areas of colour/hair direction etc - its in pastel on pastelmat so hopefully I'll get quite a lot done on it tomorrow and will show a progress picture.  It was originally intended as a Christmas Gift but now the deadline has been brought forward to make it a Wedding Anniversary present in Mid December - no pressure then!

Then once I can clear the pastels away and clean the working area a bit - I really need to finish the graphite baby portrait as its been sitting on a sidetable for a few weeks now.   Its 90% finished so I need to email the client for critique/approval

Still awaiting the ref. photo for the coloured horse which is a voucher redemption so strictly speaking doesn't need to be finished by Christmas .. but it will be nice to get started as soon as possible.   I do enjoy portraying horses

Just for fun ....

This is a can of Gent's anti-perspirant spray from a well-known supermarket.    What do you think the words at the bottom mean .... NOT FOR EMERGENCY USE.        ???

We couldn't figure it out so David phoned the helpline number shown on the can (as you do when you have too much time on your hands) ... but they didn't have a clue either.    Any ideas?

Wednesday 21 November 2012

22/11: HELP!

I pre-loaded a couple of posts as I won't be home/at computer much for the next couple of days.

Now I have this notice from Blogger:

Whoops! You're out of space. You are currently using 100% of your 1 GB quota for photos. Upgrade storage
Photos are stored in your Picasa Web Albums account and are included in your 1 GB free quota for photos. Additional storage that you purchase is shared between several Google products and is in addition to your free quota. Learn more
Has anybody else had this happen to them?   What do I need to do?   I don't intend to start paying to Blog - might as well give in and go back to Facebook (which I don't really want to do).   Any advice out there please?   I think this is because I used to use 'Blogspot' and when it was upgraded recently new limits re. photos/sizes applied?

I have deleted a few old photos from my Picasa album which has freed up a bit of storage space (but can't delete too many as they'll probably disappear off the old Blog Posts.


Again ..... a pre-prepared post from a couple of days back.     I did wonder today what would happen if I fell under a bus (or similar) and these posts appeared posthumously ????   spooky or what??? 

I need to clear some of my old ref photo files and so it makes sense to post some of the pictures when I don't have any artwork to show ... kills two birds etc!

I promise these pics will be the last I'll show from our recent trip to Bruges.  Mostly these are things that appealed to me ... either scenery or just 'quirky' bits:

Some of the 'nightlight' scenes were very beautiful:

We stayed on a converted Barge, on the river bordering the town.   We had to walk 10 mins through parkland to get to the centre of town and some of the local houses looked really pretty in the night lights.

the next two pictures show the same house .. but with slightly different lighting.  I can't decide which one I like best???

but moving away from building ... these are some of the scenes I enjoyed during our short visit.    There was  a produce market staged in the Main Square on Wednesday .... lots of photo opportunites there.     In a couple of weeks the Christmas Markets will dominate and I'm sure they'll be very pretty (but predictable - so I was just happy to wander around the 'usual' market stalls.

This was the advertising slogan on the outside of the largest food stall ... the stall expanded and probably represented 1/3 of the available space in the market square.... people were queuing to get their BBQ chicken, sausages etc ...

Sorry ..... don't want to offend anybody but I must admit I found this amusing!!

On the other side of this foodstall people were queing  (as mentioned earlier) to collect their roasted chickens, sausages etc....

but why would you take your dogs to the stand (sorry this is a play on words as I remember these dogs as 'sausage dogs' ......

they are very pretty but ... sausage dogs at a chicken and sausage foodstall???


here's another dog I couldn't resist photographing.  He looked far too clean and fluffy for his breed and was obviously very embarrassed about being photographed.   Who remembers Chalky? (Rick Stein's rough coated Terrier who was the major star in most of Rick's food/cookery series on TV)    This little mutt looked like Chalky - but cleaner ...  LOL

back to Bruges ... and the weekly market.

The Christmas markets start soon, but whilst we were in Bruges the local market featured food and flowers.

I wanted to take some daffodil/tulip bulbs home (after all, Bruges/Belgium borders Holland - the most famous tulip/bulb growing country in the world) .... and they were very reasonably priced:

but David was far more interested in the dried sausages:

and guess who won?     to give you a clue ... we won't be planting the winning products in the garden !!!

It was a lovely market experience though ...

Swans feeding from the hands of tourists .... there are lots of signs nearby saying 'please don't feed the birds' but .... hey , swans can't read and the tourists just ignored the signs ...

Oops   Just had a message from Blogger saying I've reached my Maximum storage allowance .. not sure what happens next!!    This may be my last post?????

Watch this space ....


Well ... not back to Bruges literally.  But I did take far too many pictures when there a couple of weeks ago  (its a very photogenic town) and I thought I'd show a few more in photos between 'arty' posts

Thankfully I don't have a sweet tooth so was able to look at these shop window displays without drooling (unlike hubby) and just admire the fantastic selection and displays.

For anybody who doesn't know Bruges, it is famous mostly for its Fine Chocolates, Lace and Tapestry and Belgian Beer!

Belgian Chocolates:

OK enough of the sweet sickly stuff   ......   LOL

I'm not moonlighting - really!    

tapestry work - sorry but there is a bit of glare from the shop window.  Really these were beautifully vibrant.


I loved this window ... the little bear sitting on the window ledge with a couple of empty beer bottles and a view into the shop showing all the goodies!

This has nothing to do with traditional chocolate, lace, tapestry or beer produce ... I just admired the denim horse!

That's probably enough for today's post (pre-prepared yesterday)!!!!    I'm still being very organised ..

Next post will be even more photos from Bruges ... and probably the last selection, you'll be relieved to hear, as I should have more artwork to post on Friday!

Tuesday 20 November 2012


Sorry I borrowed the title from a long-running British TV sitcom

It may not be the last of the Summer Wine, but my garden is certainly putting out a last ditch effort to show off the last of the Summer flowers and fruits ...

I took these photos in my garden yesterday.   For a couple of hours we had sunshine, although it was very cold.   Tomorrow (today - I'm getting confused with this foward planning/pre-posting lark) the forecast is for rain, so although it will feel warmer, it will be pretty dismal here in Kent I believe.

Just look at the berries - aren't they beautiful (and highly attractive to the birds just now)

and the squirrels

The very last apple on our fruit trees ... and its been sampled obviously ....

but passed over in favour of these over-ripe and obviously pretty alcoholic damsons.   

The damsons have been a major attraction for any number of birds and beasties ... we did have a good crop this year, and because of all the rain the fruits were especially large and tasty.   The ground feeding birds have been hoovering up all the windfalls and the others have been clearing the last few from the trees.

Just as well I'm drying the washing indoors now ... the birds aren't too careful about how/where they leave their calling cards!!

Several garden shrubs are putting out a last showy display as well ... look at this beautiful fuschia

and these lovely Cosmos flowers (plus a 'Bishop' Dahlia) which in theory should finish flowering in late September, have put on a last minute spurt for us

Not sure how clear this next photo will be , but I was testing the new camera to the limits here.   Trying to film a sparrow in the hedgerow at the end of our garden.  Bearing in mind I'm using a 'bridge' camera without long lenses etc., I was reasonably happy about this.   Can you spot his grumpy little face in the twigs???   He really didn't want to be disturbed   ... :-)

OK, enough for today's post.    I posted this and one other yesterday (Monday) to fill in gaps where I won't be around long enough to post 'for real' .....

More arty bits at the end of the week ....