24 Nov 2013

A week in November

We’ve had a busy week and weather of every kind. On Monday I dropped off a painting for Strathpeffer Art Fair- an 80 mile trip across some more fantastic scenery. There was frost on the ground on my way out and on the way back the autumn colours and light was incredible.
On Tuesday Titus experienced his first walk in the snow. 
On Wednesday we had gale force winds, which were so strong my photos are all blurred! Titus 
On Thursday there was a beautiful sunset – but we only had the mobile with us and the photos are too grainy!
On Friday I was stuck indoors whilst the sun shone! It took all day to put together my “stuff” for Saturday’s art show whilst Titus waited patiently (ish) for the exciting walk I promised him. The sun had gone and light was fading by the time we went out. As promised, it was exciting – he ate sand, got muddy and very wet as we walked back from the beach in the rain.
On Saturday I took my artwork to a Christmas Fair in Durness, left Titus at home with Henry and sat down and relaxed……..….. with some freshly baked bread from the stall to my left and some delicious soft goats cheese from the stall opposite, a mince pie (or 2), warm spicey teacakes, some coffee........ and today we shared what was left!

after taking this photo, the mountains disappeared and we drove home in a blizzard

Titus experiences snow - and eats it
Titus feels the wind in his fur and wrestles with a beach Triffid

This photo refuses to upload after an hour of trying - so please imagine
a slightly grainy image of a beautiful sunset taken by Henry on his mobile phone
after eating sand and before getting wet
a snack behind my stall

 no wind, no rain, no snow, no sun - a picnic of local produce for us and
some mud and tasty dead seagull for Titus!

16 Nov 2013

The road to Helmsdale

Chloe and Claudia are on display in the “Winter Salon” at Timespan, Helmsdale. Each submission had to be in a gold frame to give that nostalgic feel of a Victorian Christmas. Everyone at the opening was asked to put a sticker against their favourite painting and Chloe was the most popular! Helmsdale is about 55 miles away from home, but the long journey on a single track road is an incredible drive. The weather and light on the day I drove “the girls” across the moors was fabulous – so it took me about 2 hours to get there after stopping to take so many photos. In both directions I was rewarded with a magnificent view of red deer, but was mortified to find that I had the wrong lens on my camera after changing it to take the photo of the framed paintings before I left!

Claudia and Chloe (a very popular Cheviot!)


10 Nov 2013

Remember Wovember

The spell of Princess Neptune  has taken effect - it’s official, I’ve got a thing about sheep. I did drop a big hint back in February  and there has definitely been a clue or two in my recent blog posts. I think it was there all along, but has recently begun to be more difficult to hide. When I think about it, the best piece of art homework I did at school was a very detailed study of a sheepskin rug – I drew every little curl and twist in the woolly fireside fleece. The very first gift I bought for my Henry (before he was my husband) was a ceramic sheep by Tessa Foulkes (he was a bit confused if I remember, little did he know where it would lead) and my first oil painting was of some Welsh sheep. I’m not sure what it is – the warm woolly fleece, the knobbly knees, their little faces – probably a combination of all three. I started knitting in 2006 after I walked into a Chester wool shop one lunchtime and became mesmerised by the tightly packed shelves of beautiful colours and that smell! I was having a particularly tough time at work, and said to Henry that “I no longer want to be a manager, I want to work in a wool shop – everyone is so happy in there!”. OK darling, he said. Well, I carried on for a few more years and just nipped in to the wool shop for a lanolin-sniff and a skein-squeeze when things were really heavy at work. We would both go to the Woolfest in Cumbria for a serious fix!

These last few weeks have been a journey of discovery – I am not alone - there are quite a few folk out there who share my sheepish behaviour and I’ve found a whole on-line community of happy people passionate about sheep and wool. I’ve also discovered that this month is Wovember, a celebration of real wool from real sheep . In the spirit of Wovember I have embarked on a large sheepy composition, the largest pastel painting I’ve ever attempted. I very chuffed with the end result after 12 woolly faces, 20 knobbly knees and an awful lot of bleating!

The Gang - not sure what to call it - just a few finishing touches to do yet

the initial drawing - ready for transfer onto the pastel paper

my reference photo ( taken near Latheron, Caithness) & the "notan" study 

work in progress - lots of knobbly knees to go

3 Nov 2013

Ploughing a deep furrow

Last weekend we went to the Scottish National Ploughing Championships. The weather was cold but sunny and ideal for ploughing a nice long furrow. We were just watching of course – Henry &  I enjoy seeing the old fergies and the heavy horses. The nostalgic scene was enhanced by the low winter sun and some weird and wonderful Caithness clouds. We left as the sun went down with four rosy cheeks, two pairs of muddy boots, a tired dog and a camera full of photos. This weekend, in contrast, has been wild, wet and windy and we have stomped around indoors in our padded onesies! Even Titus wasn’t too keen on going outside. After painting sheep all week (for a change) I see them when I close my eyes at night! I tried to count them as the wind howled round the croft house, but to no avail – so I shall be taking ear plugs up the hill to the land of nod tonight.