Thursday, 29 December 2011

Four Seasons = One Year

A tree for all seasons, winter, spring, summer and autumn... a whole year in one tree!
This year is drawing to an end and it always amazes me how time just whizzes by.  Naturally we reflect on the year that's gone by, our achievements, successes and probably mistakes too.  Life isn't always easy and my art has been important over the past few years, keeping me me positive and enthusiastic.  Nothing is impossible!
Happy New Year and I hope 2012 is a good one.

"Don't be pushed by your problems.
be led by your dreams."

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

For my blogging friends all over the world, hope you have a peaceful and happy Christmas!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Sketchbook Time

Lead actress having make up done

I've had a busy week but still time for some sketching!  On Monday I spent the day at one of my favourite old villas taking part in a film...only as an 'extra'.  The scene was a high society party in this beautiful ballroom.

Leading actor (the baddie)
It was a tiring day pretending to drink champagne in a long dress, sadly the champagne wasn't real and the glitter was fake......but was fun while it lasted!

This sketch is from a couple of weeks ago early in the morning sitting in my car.  Even an urban scene can look pretty in the autumn.

From  my car again, an old gateway on the main road through town.
The top looks like a crown or perhaps an urn, but I couldn't fit it all on my little sketchbook page.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Sink or Swim?

'Sink' for Illustration Friday.
It can be quite pleasant letting your body sink slowly down into the silent depths of deep water, but sooner or later you have to swim back to the top!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Forever Autumn

Not very seasonal I know, but here in Sicily it's still fairly warm and sunny (it will probably rain tomorrow!)  and autumn comes late.
Up until last week the climbing vine at the front of my house looked like this.  I love the mix of colours and the way the sun shines through the leaves in the morning. 

This is a chocolate coloured sunflower grown in a pot in the summer, I'd like to fill the whole garden with them!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


'Separated' for Illustration Friday

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Bright Knights

Do you remember the video frames we downloaded and coloured for the Bright Knights, here is the final video.
The Bright Knights are an Australian Group who found an unusual method of making a video for their debut single 'This Love', they asked people to colour in all 2,158 frames.  I did two of them, one of which is about 3.29 in to the video, I'm still trying to find the second!
You can see more of the process here

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Village Square

If you venture into some of the smaller towns and villages in Sicily you will always find there is a village square where old men gather to play cards and chat.  If ever a 'stranger' comes into the village you can be sure they have noticed, if there is any gossip then they will know and the Sicilian 'coppola' or cap is a must!
This my latest page for the Sketchbook Project, only three more double pages left to do!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Brigade

'Brigade' is the theme for this week's Illustration Friday.
Geese seem to work in groups as they defiantly take on strangers and people often use them to guard property.  These Canadian geese were in one of London's parks, but I have vivid memories of been chased across a field when I was a little girl by a gaggle of white geese!

It's getting closer to Christmas and I've many things to prepare so this illustration has been transformed into a Christmas card... I just added some white acrylic blobs and they became 'snow' geese.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


'Round' for Illustration Friday.
 This one now has a big red bow to make it into a seasonal Christmas card!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Exhibition Review!

Here are some photographs from this weekend and my joint art exhibition.  As you can see we were able to use Palazzo Aragona Cutò (built in 1712), which was the perfect location, we also had perfect sunny weather too!
We had two large rooms at the top of a double staircase, complete with high painted ceilings and tall shuttered windows.
Venus and Mars on the ceiling
We are a little group that paint and chat together one morning a week, out of this friendship came the idea of organising our own art exhibition.  Each of us had about ten paintings and a wall/panel to display them on.

This is my part of the exhibition, a mixture of coloured pencil pieces and some larger oil paintings.

We had a lot of people come and visit us and there was even  a queue outside the door on Saturday morning before we opened!  
I met so many people who enjoy art and made a whole load of new contacts, the whole exhibition was a very positive experience...

.........and there was even a little time after lunch on Sunday to sketch the view from the window.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


'Stripes' 40x60cms, oil

This is the finished painting, varnished and ready for tomorrow.  I'm pleased with how this turned out, although it started out as only an experiment and is based on a reference came from Wet Canvas's image library.  I changed the background and colours just leaving the shape of the leaves. Unfortunately I don't remember who originally posted the photograph.

Myself and some artist friends will be exhibiting over the weekend at this beautiful 17th century villa.

The photo is actually of the rear of the villa, and is from where I sit in the station car park to sketch while waiting for my daughter's train.  The front faces onto a busy road and I would risk getting run over, but  the back entrance is lovely anyway!

I really like the frame on this painting of local fishing boats, strange how artwork looks so different in it's frame?  I think I will post this to my mum for Christmas after the exhibition (She doesn't have a computer
or ever look at my blog, so it's still a secret!)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Mirror, mirror on the wall
who is fairest of them all?

'Vanity' for Illustration Friday

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hidden Coves

Here are some more pages for the Sketchbook Project complete with wrinkled pages (the paper doesn't like watercolour).
The first is part of a nature reserve on the coast with plenty of hidden coves and caves, perfect for the smugglers of olden days.  My  title is 'Encyclopedia of Secret Places'  and this area has plenty of  secret history!

A closer look at one of the coves, I love the sound of waves as they rattle the pebbles on the beach.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


This is my latest coloured pencil piece.  It's the 'sister' of the Silent Keeper, one of my entries to the UKCPS exhibition this year.  I thought that they would look good together at the upcoming local exhibition where my work will be displayed, well they would if my Silent Keeper would like to return home.  At the moment it's travelling backwards and forwards between the UK and Italy and I'm not friends with DHL carriers anymore!
(It's a long story...sigh..)

At the foot of a staircase, two statues  Endymion and Aglaia from Greek mythology.
I just loved the double shadow in the late evening sun and it was my first sight of the  privately owned 17th century Villa Valguarnera.
I  had to stand and memorise the scene, although I did have a camera,  I wanted to capture how I felt when I first walked up the long drive and through the gate.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Strong and Silent

'Silent' for Illustration Friday.
This one is obviously the strong and silent type!  We have a beautiful park right in the middle of the city, I love to take my sandwiches there and hear the traffic and city noise fade away.  There are many statues  among the trees and flowers (the park dates from the 17th century), an ideal spot to while away an hour or two!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Something Blue

Something blue for Everyday Matters.  I thought about this for a while...what could I choose to sketch that's blue....  the sky, the sea?  Yes the ideas weren't coming thick and fast, but then I looked up and spied my little sketching bag.  The one I grab on my way out...just in case!
This little bag is only 8" wide and 10" long but holds everything I might want to use while out sketching.  It has several pockets and zips all the way round making it easy to get into and I got it free from a travel company, which makes it even nicer.

I unpacked the bag to show you what I carry around with me

Two small sketchbooks, various pens and pencils, a waterbrush, my small set of Maimeri watercolours and it's extra little mixing palette, paper towels, a homemade viewfinder and a water container.  Plus I can get in insect repellant and a small camera comfortably.  A very useful little bag indeed!

Monday, 7 November 2011


'Stripes' for Illustration Friday.
The best stripes are found in nature, animals, fish and plants all have some wonderful patterns and colours.
This is part of a bigger painting that I'm working on but still a long way to go.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Best of the Bunch

The little local art group that I joined a couple of years ago is holding an exhibition at the end of this month, so I have been hard at work preparing some new work for my corner of the room  Although I haven't got precise measurements I think I will be able to hang about six largish paintings and perhaps some smaller coloured pencil pieces.
This is the first time I've had the chance to exhibit more than a couple of piece of work so it's very exciting...any advice welcome!
These grapes are one of the better bunches grown last year, painted in oil from sketches and photographs.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Scary Monsters

The word for Illustration Friday this week is 'scary'.
I decided to paint one of the statues/gargoyle type creatures from a nearby 17th century villa known as the 'Villa of Monsters' for it's strange and creepy statues.
There are at least sixty of them left from a collection of about two hundred, sitting on the walls around the villa!  You can read more about them  here.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sketchbook Pages

I've been having a few sketching afternoons while I wait for my son to finish his football training.  This is a rocky outcrop in the middle of the town with what looks like a watchtower on top.  It's a pretty good place for a watchtower as there are clear views all round, although I don't know anyone who has been up there.

There are views like this one, looking out over to one side of the town, I live in a valley behind the tree.

I'm sure this man sitting on a bench outside the town hall knew I was drawing him, he kept glancing my way then posing like a professional model!

I did this sketch at home, I picked a branch from a wild olive tree just outside the gate.  This is not far off the actual size of the 'fruit' which is like a large berry.

...and finally some Jasmine from my garden (not quite a yellow as my scanner thinks it is).

Monday, 24 October 2011


'Fuel' for Illustration Friday.
A pile of logs stored ready for the fire in winter, I'd love to have my own open fire or wood burning stove!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Secret Spots (Arthouse Sketchbook Project 2012)

Here are a couple more pages for the Sketchbook Project 2012.   My theme is Encyclopedia of secret places  and so far I have drawn mostly gardens and buildings, castles etc, but you can't get away from the sea if you live on an island.  These are some colourful traditional fishing boats which are still used in smaller fishing villages.  If you go down to the seafront about lunchtime you'll always find someone mending nets, or preparing their boat.

My second secret spot is another little village by the sea and is one of my favourite places to go late on a Saturday afternoon in the summer.  It's a popular place for wedding couples to have their photos taken and sometimes there are 2- 3 couples (and photographers and videos) on the beach as the sun starts to dip behind the sea.
We sit with ice-creams and watch the show...Italians really dress up for weddings and a late afternoon wedding calls for cocktail or evening dresses at the very least!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sprinkled and Scattered

This week the word  for Illustration Friday is scattered, though I'm not sure if this little drawing is more of a sprinkled!?

Watercolour and coloured pencil

Thursday, 13 October 2011

No Strawberry Grapes

A few leaves  that come from my small vine of strawberry grapes.  These are small black, sweet grapes that smell of strawberries and are wonderful to eat.  Unfortunately they didn't bear any fruit this year but  the leaves  turned a burnt orange colour and crisped up into lacy shapes.
Hopefully next year will be a  better harvest but I decided to immortalise the leaves anyway, too pretty to resist!

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Peacock Garden

I visited the Peacock Garden while in the UK, 
so called for it's topiary peacocks and of course real ones.
It helped that it was a warm and sunny day and the lovely flowers,
plants and butterflies were at their best.
I have always liked drawing topiary and have started a painting
based on this garden.
The above is a practice sketch to get the feel of the colours and

These are some small peacock feathers drawn in coloured pencil that I picked up along the way,
actually my pockets were stuffed full of them! 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Back from London

watercolour sketch

I'm still recovering from my quick visit to London to see the UKCPS exhibition which I thoroughly enjoyed.
It's amazing to see work by artists that normally I only ever get to see on internet, and the first thing everyone says when the see work of this standard in coloured pencil is ' I never knew you could do this with pencils '.


The exhibition took place in The Central Hall, Westminster, just opposite Westminster Cathedral, a very grand location.

Both  of my entries were hung in the first room after the Faber Castell stand.   In the main room there were various areas selling cards and books.  I succumbed to temptation and bought a signed copy of Botanical Painting with Coloured Pencils by Ann Swan.  It's a beautiful book that would appeal to non-botanical artists too. 

There was so much to see it was impossible to take it all in, all the entries can be seen here
My favourites in the exhibition were 'Hydrangers' by Gayle Dickinson and 'Wisdom of Age' by Irina Garmashova-Cawton, but there were many others too.

Now it's time to get down to some serious painting as I have a couple of local exhibitions coming up in the next few months and I hope to have some new work ready soon!


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