Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Last post for 2014

Here we are once again at the end of the year.  I can't believe I've been blogging for over five years and using my blog as way of keeping track of myself and my work.

This time last year I resolved to be more organised as life was (and still is) so busy and I was finding it difficult to follow through any projects.  I am still working on this but have made progress and I'm happy with what I've achieved so far.

I made more time to paint this year and completed more paintings this year than ever before. I started painting on mdf wooden panels and love the smoother surface.  I experimented with mixed media and smaller sizes, I learnt as I went along and improved by making mistakes.

My favourite from this year

My most popular painting of this year (blog and facebook)

I'm not one for big plans and resolutions so all I can say is that I hope to get out and do far more sketching, as I didn't get much chance in 2014.
I will also be building up my newly opened Etsy shop, with new work and perhaps prints.
I hope 2015 is a good year for everyone, happy painting and drawing !

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sketchbook Sunday

A watercolour sketch of some cherry tomatoes, just because I fancied doing some watercolour and I like red.  Although these tomatoes are from Sicily they never used to be available at this time of year. Times change and producers all now have greenhouses and anything is possible or so it seems. 

A family group intently studying a book or magazine  This was a really cold day in Oxford and we took refuge in a warm crowded cafe for coffee and bacon sarnies.
I am beginning to like painting on the strange cream/yellow paper in the Moleskine sketchbooks. It's the paper that really doesn't like water, but I like to challenge myself!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Summer Leftovers

20x20cms(approx 8x8") oil on mdf wood

I used a photograph from the summer to paint these cherries.  It's still wet ( this explains the odd patches) but I wanted to get it finished before I leave for a little 'pre' Christmas holiday.
I like to spend a couple of weeks in the UK during the festive season to see my family, then it's back to Sicily for the final run up to Christmas.
So no painting for a couple of weeks...but I've got my sketchbook packed!

Sunday, 23 November 2014


Oil on mdf wood panel 20x 20 cms (approx 8x8")

We were given some pomegranates and of course I had to use them in a painting, they're just so pretty.
This one is another small painting that will shortly be in my Etsy Shop.
I used one of the pomegranates in a wild rice salad with walnuts and apple, it was delicious!

At this time of year we're often given home grown produce, only this week two 'water' bottles turned up, one full of freshly pressed olive oil and the other home made wine.  
Although we have a couple of olive trees,  they don't produce enough for oil so a big bottle of beautiful fresh olive oil is a treat. When the oil has just been pressed it has a peppery taste and eaten on it's own on warm bread it's exquisite! 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Gooey Chocolate Cake (Do not look if you're on a diet)

Oil on mdf board 20x20cms (approx 8x8")

Gooey chocolatey birthday cake!  This cake was for my daughter's birthday and was so delicious I decided to honour it with a painting.  I didn't make the cake, it was bought from a local pasticceria...I think I will have to make another visit soon!

This is what it looks like popped into one of my frames.
This little painting is available from my Etsy shop

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Grapes Are Back!

Oil on mdf 20x 20cms (approx 8x8")

If you follow my blog you may remember my painting of grapes a  couple of months ago.  This is the same bunch of grapes but from a different angle and a much smaller size.   I really liked the pinks coming through the grapes positioned in a very bright shaft of light, warm light and cool light.
1st grape painting if you want to compare. 

Here's what it would look like in a frame. I had to decide what to do with these small paintings....and some larger ones too,  so I'm pleased to announce the grand (virtual) opening of my Etsy shop!
I'm  slowly adding recent paintings if anyone would like to buy a nice gift for themselves or a friend.
Take look here:

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Small but Sweet

oil on mdf board 20x20cms (aprox  8x8")

It's a dark stormy day here in Sicily, although the morning started off bright and sunny!

My small painting above is from a similar sunny morning, a little pear from my garden on the kitchen table with the clear early sun pouring in through the window. I used a mixture of acrylic and oil paints to get the effect of light (hopefully!)
I am enjoying painting small..I cut a large piece of mdf into 12 small squares and  I've finished about half of them so far.  It's nice not to have to worry about investing a lot of time on a large painting only to find it doesn't really work. It's a chance to try out new ideas and best of all they are easy to store!
Do you have a preference...big or small?

Monday, 20 October 2014

Blue jar and Seed Pods

Oil on mdf wood board 20x20cms approx 8x8"
My little blue jar is putting in another appearance, I love to paint the reflections in its dark blue glass.
As I set up this little still life  the seed pods (found walking along the coast) left little seeds everywhere, so I painted those in too.

Thursday, 9 October 2014


Oil on mdf wood board 20x20 cms/ 8"x8"

You'll find a moka coffee pot in most Italian homes.  It's comforting glugs and gurgles signal the start of  a new day....but coffee is always a good excuse to stop during the day or get together with a friend.
I love to sit in a bar with a capuccino and watch the world go by, especially if there's a warm croissant involved too!
Could you live without coffee? I know I couldn't !

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sketching 'La Natura Morta '

Summer is over and the weather is changing.  We've had some high winds over the past week and it was one windy night when I heard something patter as it blew into my room while I was asleep.
With no glasses and in the dark I could just make out the shape of a small lizard by my bed.  
After a little bit of nudging  it wasn't going to move and I realised it was not only dead but perfectly conserved by the hot dry weather.  It must have got caught between the window and the blinds.

So what else could I do, I sketched it the next morning.  It's still on the sideboard much to my daughter's horror...she says it's looking at her!

Leaves are starting to turn too, this is one I picked up.  Autumn is here, my favourite season!
What's your favourite season?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sketchbook Sunday (on Monday)

I have been getting back to my watercolours this week...sometimes I need to be inspired by a colour or something I see to really enjoy this watery and rebellious medium!
The plums are painted in my favourite colours for painting, I love juicy pinks, reds and purples.

This is a black bumble bee that I found resting on my garden wall.  They are not particularly aggressive although they look quite was the size of my thumb and very black and shiny.
When you get up close the black becomes a vivid blue in the wings.  But I didn't get too near, I'm not that brave....I zoomed in with my camera and took some photos!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Edge

This is a scene slightly off the footpath through a regal hunting forest from  hundreds of years ago.  It's  a little opening that gives you amazing views over the forest.

On this occasion it's about as far as I got as some cows made an appearance, not that I am afraid of cows....but my friend was! Ok so they were very big with long horns and didn't seem to want us to to go any further, but that's no reason to hide behind a tree?
We had to turn back, cutting short our walk... so now you know what I was thinking about while painting!

40x40 cms, oil on mdf board

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sketchbook Sunday

My is sketchbook is always on hand even early in the morning.  This simple teabag was such a pretty colour  (some kind of flower and fruit mix) that I was tempted to make a little watercolour sketch.
Perhaps I'll have a go painting with the tea next time!

This man was enjoying an 'aperitivo' outside a bar....but the big terracotta vase was in my way.  I did think of putting a dog there instead, but I'm not very good at dogs.  The big vases should have plants or a bush of some kind but sadly there was only a few weeds and lots of cigarette butt ends.

I've also been practicing some figure drawing using
A useful site that gives you the choice of many poses, faces, hands and feet.....better than watching TV in the evening!

Here are some more.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Somewhere in the Middle

Living on an island it seems pretty normal to paint the coastline and boats but some of my favourite views are inland.  The Sicily I love is somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  A road that takes you winding up and over the hills, big wide spaces and endless scenery.
I'm not sure I would find this spot again, but I imagine that in the summer months the hill becomes sandy yellow as the hot sun beats down.  Quite a lonely place to live too!

Oil on mdf panel 40x40cms

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Tea With a View

oil painting on mdf panel  24x28 cms 

A couple enjoying a rest from sightseeing caught my eye as they sat sipping drinks on a terrace.  It was the light on the chap's hat that kept my attention, they were also sitting at the table with the best view and to be honest I was envious!
The restaurant was high up looking over the sea and rooftops on a glorious sunny day, what more could you ask for, except for a seat outside on the terrace...ggrrrrrr.

I wanted to try something different so I  collaged some ripped newspaper, tissue and wallpapery bits to make a border.  Not sure if it worked or not but the idea was to capture the old fashioned atmosphere of the restaurant.

I've no idea who the couple are but the man had a white beard and could have been American or Canadian   If you do happen to recognise yourself in this painting or perhaps friends who had a holiday in Sicily this June please let me know.
I have forgiven them for grabbing the best table by the way!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Summer Sketching

I've photographed a few pages from my sketchbook, the first is a corner of my friend's house.
It was built by my friend's grandfather in 1920's and stands on top of a hill over looking the coast.
I'm very tempted to make a larger painting of it.

A slice of water melon...very summery!  This was a melon grown across the road...this year a lemon grove was turned into a little market garden.  This is happening more and more as work gets harder to find and  people are going back to their roots, trying to make a business out of the resources they have.
The  melon was delicious by the way!

A windy afternoon  and a quick sketch on the beach.  this one is in my smallest moleskine sketchbook, the one that slips into the side pocket of my bag.
I hope you're having a good summer!

Sunday, 3 August 2014


Freshly painted fishing boats drawn up on the beach in readiness for the annual 'festa' , when a small flotilla sets off around the bay.  It's a popular occasion which the whole village comes out to see, hoping of course for sunny afternoon. 

My painting is in mixed media on mdf board, 25x50 cms

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Red grapes on the kitchen table

Still drying on my easel and getting a photo without shine was a problem, but here they are... red grapes on my kitchen table.  Not the most original title, can you think of a better one?
If I get up early I can catch the morning sun as it shines through my window onto my kitchen table.  This little pool of light often inspires me to paint, especially glowing almost transparent fruit.  'Glowing grapes' could be another perhaps not !

Oil on board 30 x 40 cms

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Nothing goes to waste!

I broke a flower head off one of my geranium plants by mistake but I didn't want to waste the beautiful red flower... so I turned it into this little oil painting.
I already had the small canvas at home and it didn't take long for me to paint the background in acrylic using masking tape to make the stripes. I also painted the basic flower shape in acrylic, letting it dry overnight before finishing off with oil paints.
I'm enjoying acrylics more, I'm beginning to get a feel for what I could do with them... I might even have to buy some more colours!

20x20cms mixed media

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Last Light

There is always something to inspire a painting when I have a wander down by the sea. Even places I visited time and time again have something different or a certain light to capture.
This little village by the sea is always busy especially in the summer months, if I hang about enough something always catches my eye, it could be a fisherman mending his nets, gulls out on the rocks or the colourful fishing boats like this one.
I experimented with oil over acrylic, trying to get some texture in the harbour wall and sand, it's a fun process and I'm already trying out some new ideas. Hope you like it!

Mixed media on mdf wood panel, 38 x 30 cms

Thursday, 19 June 2014

My sketchbook and days out...

It's the beginning of the summer, and hopefully there will be more time to sketch and paint.  To start with are some tiny little pears.  Every year I can't resist sketching them, they are all different shapes and none bigger than my thumb.

A 'manderino' was hiding in  my sketchbook too (that's one from a couple of months ago).

Out walking in the woods I was struck by how many pink flowers there were, these are just a few.

I've had my mum here to stay for 10 days so some days out... it's nice to be a tourist sometimes!
This is Cefalù, we had a wander around and some lunch overlooking the sea. 

We also ate here on a trip to Erice. It was an old house with much of it's original decorations, we sat upstairs in what could have been a bedroom.  I had the fish cous cous!  This place is an off-shoot of Maria Grammatico's well known cake shop next-door, so we couldn't leave without tasting some almond pastries.

I wrote about Erice in one of my previous posts here if you want to know more.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Soft light and terracotta pots

20x27 cms coloured pencil

I have a thing about terracotta and the way the warm Sicilian sun throws delicate shadows and pools of colour.  This group of plant pots and young grape vines was no exception as the afternoon light filtered through the tender leaves.

I started this coloured pencil piece at the beginning of the year, as much as I love coloured pencil I find that I don't have the patience that I had before or perhaps it's just that I don't have the same time available for art that I used to have. This means I have had to make choices and decide where I will concentrate my time.  It won't be the last of coloured pencil just a break!

Thursday, 29 May 2014


So where did I go in Europe for a short break?  Well to start with I didn't go anywhere as the flight was delayed for four hours!  Luckily the view was good from the departure lounge.

We eventually arrived at our destination late in the evening....yes Barcelona! 

Our hotel was in Gràcia, just slightly out of the city centre.  Everyday we walked down Passeig de Gràcia past Gaudi's Casa Batllò, just one of the stunning examples of his work in Barcelona.

You either love or hate the Sagrada Familia with its towering spires and ornate decoration.  To me the side I sketched looked like a fairytale sandcastle, I loved the carefully thought out madness of it all.

Just around the corner from our hotel was Gaudi's Casa Vincens, his first important building.

No visit would be complete without seeing Parc Guell and one of the reasons why I wanted to see Barcelona. 

A walk along the Ramblas to see the famous Boqueria market, Liceu Theatre and a pavement mosaic by Joan Miro-

So much to see  ( so many tourists) and not enough time...I will have to go back one day!


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