In the dark (part one)

dsc_1163As we came out of choir group tonight it was cold and icy. The snow that had fallen earlier had turned from slush on the car park to hard ridges and furrows and ice.

I walked across to the car, managing not to slip. The car started reassuringly. The cold air from the heater took a few minutes to warm up. Then the screen started to demist. A car flew past in the dark. It’s headlights were not switched on so I flashed mine to try and get their attention.

I carefully drove off the car park and onto the road. Luckily it was wet but not slippery. The gritter lorries had clearly been past. Up to the traffic lights, turn right. Now I was on the main road, safe for a moment to drive at normal speed. But I live in a hill so I wanted to park up facing downhill. The only way to do that was to drive up the other side of the hill  But I had a plan. Drive halfway up then take a short, flat, side road through the housing estate to get to my street half way down the hill. .. Well I got to the side road, and it was covered in a thick icy snowy layer. Solid, slippery. A steep slope to one side. I dropped into a lower gear. I did not want to slide across the road, on black ice. Keeping to the centre of the road, I drove at the slowest pace I could. Parked cars on either side made me fear hitting their wing mirrors. Nothing happened. My car slid and glided past, slowly and gently. My heart was thudding and I felt my neck tensing. Half way. A road bisecting my slippery route…. Anything coming fast up the hill and I would not have been able to stop safely. Now the road started to twist and turn. The slope increasingly downhill. The grip between the tyres and the asphalt was reducing. I applied the breaks gently.  Close to the hill where I had to turn down onto my street. Nothing coming. The snow transformed into moisture, salted and defrosted. Slow turn. Almost in slow motion. It was too dark to see any frosty patches. So I carefully drove down hill in first gear. I got home slightly shaken.

I got my partner to read this. He said “it’s a bit boring” which is honest.

Digital patterns


I’m a sucker for patterns. If I can’t think of any other art to do I will draw a pattern on my phone or tablet then play with it.

I do wonder where my ideas come from. I must be very visual. I never feel comfortable unless I’ve got something to look at. Minimalism is not for me.

I once had to live in a student residence while I was on placement somewhere. I had a room with a bed and a desk and chair. Blank walls.  That dingey pale grey /blue /green that public buildings are painted. One kitchen between about 16 rooms and a toilet and shower block.

No home comforts and it was the start of November and I was based there for a months placement. I could only come home at weekends.

I went out and bought a couple of sheets of wrapping paper. A newspaper, a party bag made out of holographic shiny metallic paper. Also a few postcards and a sketch book.

By the end of the day I had 42 (honestly) pictures, photos, patterned paper, the beautiful wrapping paper all stuck up on the walls .. Then I felt much better… Its my visual brain you see…..

Here’s hoping…


I haven’t been able to use WordPress as I used to for the last few days because I’ve been having some work done on my social media. It seems to be working now on my tablet but not on my mobile phone?

I think I altered something and it has thrown everything out of kilter, so this is another test to see if the post and its accompanying picture go to my Facebook page.

Fingers crossed. X

Studio rents


New year, new threat of rent increases in the studios. Not by the cost of inflation, but possibly by 25% or more! Im not saying where I rent, and I’m not publishing this on FB. I’m just worried I won’t be able to afford it. The fear is that I will retreat back to home and have to give up my dream of being an artist. The increase would possibly mean people looking for cheaper alternatives.

The threat is not clear yet, some people are hoping for lower increases. Its just that its a blow for a little thriving community of creative people. I sometimes think that greed is at the bottom of everything. So frustrating.




I was discussing paintbrushes with someone painting gold onto ceramics this week and he said he used a very fine sable brush to get a good point and build up the yellow glaze that goes underneath the gold.

I also watched a friend painting. She was using acrylics and trying to shape some pointed areas on the painting. I looked at the brush she was using and she had a square chisel shaped brush. Although she was turning the brush on its side she could not get a good point to her painting. I suggested she used a pointed brush but a bit bigger than the tiniest brushes you can use.  This is because you can load up your brush with paint. Draw the point of the brush from the area where you want a sharp angle and then use the body of the brush to fill into the shape as it widens below the point of the shape.

I tend to use blunt ended square brushes to fill in larger areas, or shape bricks etc. I use long thin brushes to try and paint straight lines. These also allow you to load a brush and keep going so the paint does not run out too quickly.

You can also use a brush when the bristles split to paint things such as feathers and hair and fur.

My favourite brushes are made with a type of plastic bristles. They tend to keep their shape and point better. Hair brushed like hog, sable and other animal hairs can be good. But it depends on how strong they are and how they are used. I sometimes repoint my brushes by putting them in my mouth and pulling them through my lips. Not recommended if you use oil paint and always make sure they have been washed clean first.

Some hair brushes immediately look like they have been electrocuted .. You know, all the hair sticking out. It’s really annoying. Or the brush bends one way instead of staying straight and keeping a nice point. Sometimes one or two hairs escape and you can get extra lines paralleling where you are painting. This can happen if you wash a brush out and leave it in the water. Just rinse it out, wipe it with tissue and put it back in your paintbox or wherever you store your brushes. If there are a few small hairs frizzing out from the brush don’t try and pull them out, just clip them off with sharp scissors. You can continue to use the brush and don’t have to throw it out.

Please don’t store brushes in a tin point down! You might have some expensive sable brushes but storing them like that. Sometimes in water! That will ruin them. If you have to store them in a water pot, empty the pot, rinse and dry the brushes and store them bristle end up.

Brushes do wear out, and eventually you cannot use them for details. But they are expensive equipment so don’t throw them away. Try using them for when you are roughing out a painting. Or even if you have a particular shape to paint, like a leaf, you can use a misshaped brush for those areas.

When washing brushes I just use clean water for water based paints. I rinse them thoroughly until the water runs clear. With oil paints I tend to rinse them first in turpentine substitute and then use a small amount of household detergent and warm water. I find rubbing the bristles in the palm of my hand is less damaging than trying to rub the paint off in the bottom of a sink.

Wow I know more about brushes than I realised!


2012 jotting


I was just reading through my Facebook page and came across this:

Morning world. this is the last time I get my partner up for work early on Sunday as his firm have decided from next week to make it a noon shift (Too many people not turning in after a night on the town?) anyway I watched the sky lighten in the East over the last half hour, first the sky between the clouds turned deep blue then lightened, the cloud tops yellowing then the dark grey of the clouds gradually became a mid grey shade. I watched to see if the street lights would go out but most are still on, just looking dimmer against the brightening sky. Then I remembered the world is turning not the sun rising…. I imagine the movement, thousands of miles an hour as this house and town and city, with me standing looking out of the window at the top of the stairs all moves rapidly and the suns light creeps over the horizon, with the bright morning stars ( if I could see past the houses and shops and clouds) heralding the first bright glimpse of the sun…..


Just to show what I can do when I’m trying to paint realistically. This took about 4 hours. I saw a photo of it on an envelope. I’m taking it to the two craft fairs so I can try and get a commission or two.

Size about 6 inches square.

I’m going to charge a reasonable price. I usually undercharge but I will never get anywhere if I don’t try and ask for a decent amount ( not hundreds). I’m trying to make a small living at this so I have to be fair and friendly. But I cannot keep giving things away which I have done in the past …