Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Master of Disguises

The word 'disguise' for Illustration Friday brings to mind the tricks, patterns and colours  used in nature to hide from predators.
I chose a butterfly to illustrate how cleverly animals and insects disguise themselves.  Sometimes they hide from sight, blending in with leaves, wood or rocks, others make themselves conspicious hoping to scare off or deter a predator.  Many species of butterflies are marked with ocelli or false eyes which can mimic a larger animal or divert the attack away from the butterfly's body.  It's  better to have the tip of a wing pecked off rather than your head if you are attacked by a  hungry bird

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Summer Sketching

I sat outside my backdoor in the shade and sketched these prickly pears/fichi d'india on Sunday morning.  It was far to hot to go anywhere or do anything else, hopefully this hot and humid weather will break soon.

Yesterday afternoon I sat on a little sea front in a nearby village hoping to catch a sea breeze and draw the view.  An old couple came and stood directly in my line of vision, the woman had a very bright yellow handbag so I sketched them instead.  It's not often I find people who stay still long enough for me to draw but they  didn't notice they were been observed.

This last little sketch is of the top of the church tower as the sun came down, but didn't quite get finished as I was attacked by fiendish mosquito's.  Must remember insect repellent next time!

Monday, 22 August 2011

High Up (Sketchbook Project)

A couple more pages for the Sketchbook Project.  This first one is a cherub on the front of an old church, I hope nobody puts an 'explicit' label on this!

The next page is what you see if you climb up the bell tower of Monreale cathedral.  You have to peep through one of the stone windows on the way up to see this view.

There is also a tiny hidden peep hole that looks out over the inside of the cathedral from somewhere very high up, which is exciting when you find it!  The tower takes you up very high and it sometimes feels as if there is nothing to stop you falling off (I don't like heights), I always like to climb slide back down in a sitting position just in case!

The paper in the sketchbook gets very wrinkled when I use watercolour, and doesn't scan well.  I tried to eliminate some of the shadows using photoshop where I could.
Does anybody else have problems writing in sketchbooks?   I hate doing it and end up making a mess of it!

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Everyday Matters - Something Forbidden

This one of my cats and probably the most feral of them all.   We call him Forrest (Gump) because of his habit of running off even if we just look at him.
He hates to be picked up, in fact he forbids it!   His whole body goes rigid and he fixes you with an offended stare...'how dare you!'
But he's not against a little tickle from me if he's in the right mood and I don't try to pick him up!

This was a test page to see how my new Moleskine Folio sketchbook works.  I made a real mess of the watercolour, so I lifted as much out as I could and went over the top with coloured pencils.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Sketchbook Project 2012 - On a Roll

The next few pages of my sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project 2012.  This is an old plant container in the grounds of an old villa, the long grass is a figment of my imagination!
My theme is 'Encyclopedia of..' and it feels as if it's going to be an encyclopedia of secret places, perhaps not the ones you would usually find or notice if you visited Sicily?

There are plenty of these old balconies about, but you have to look up while you're walking along the road. (This can be unsafe given the state of the roads and pavements)

I've been using a small amount of watercolour on the flimsy sketchbook paper, which causes some crinkling and the paper feels a bit crispy now!

If you would like to learn more about the Sketchbook Project World Tour  have a look here

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Imperfection - Illustration Friday

Imperfect but still beautiful, sometimes it's the imperfection that makes something  perfect.  If something is too perfect it becomes bland.
This is a little china saucer, not quite as damaged as I've portrayed but still it's without a cup.  I have a weakness for bits of china going cheap perhaps because of a hairline crack...imperfect!  Does anyone else feel sorry for lonely imperfect china on auction sites? 

Monday, 8 August 2011

Sketchbook Project 2012

My sketchbook finally arrived for this year's Arthouse Sketchbook Project and I couldn't wait to start filling it up.
This is the inside cover and first page, the space on the left is empty so that I can write something.
I chose the theme 'encyclopedia of....'

Here's the next couple of pages in watercolour, coloured pencil and pen.  The paper in this sketchbook is better than last year's paper, although still a challenge I've decided to go with it and not change anything.
There are less pages too, so easier to fill without running out of ideas (hopefully!).  Encyclopedia of..what you may ask?  Well I haven't completely made up my mind yet, but  it will be a 'mini' encyclopedia that's for sure!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Exciting News!

I'm very pleased that my two coloured pencil pieces The Silent Keeper and Geranium were accepted into the UKCPS 2011 National Open Exhibition.  The exhibition will be held in Westminster Hall, London, 19th September - 1st October.
Its going to be an exciting event with many coloured pencil workshops going on and of course lots of lovely work on display.  I'm hoping to get to London to see the exhibition if I can find some cheap flights.

Visit the UKCPS website here

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Strange but Interesting

Last week I got to see the gardens of a 17th century villa.  This villa isn't normally open to the public and I could only look on it from afar, so I was really pleased to be invited on this occasion.
The occasion was an arty event, with 'installations' by various artists dotted about the garden and grounds.  Some of it was interesting and good and some was well...just interesting!

I wish I could show some photos, but I think I would need permission to do so.  I did like a sculpture of a child playing hide and seek made from garden mud, and also music made from recordings of the strange noises silence in the empty rooms of the villa.  This latter was broadcast in a dimly lit stable, furnished with piles and piles of very old, dusty newspapers, very spooky indeed.

The evening finished off with jazz music on the terrace and I would have loved to sketch, but the sun was setting as we arrived and light faded fast into darkness.  The sketch above is from my photographs and shows a tree with amazing roots growing over rocks, lit up by the setting sun. (I can't resist trees and roots).


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