25 May 2014

Highland Wool Festival 2014

Another crazy week in the Simpson household. On Thursday we managed the local polling station, which, although very official, was also a social occasion and somewhat different to the city polling district we have been used to. Titus, however, was unimpressed. This Saturday was the first ever Highland Wool Festival which turned out to be a great success and is set to be repeated next year. Most of the stalls were in a livestock market – a most appropriate setting both visually and aromatically! It was quite a challenge to make a sheep pen look inviting, but everyone made them look lovely with drapes of beautiful naturally dyed yarn, spinning wheels, and all things woolly. The overwhelming smell of sheep became softened with a more fleecey fragrance and the perfume of lots of wool enthusiasts. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, surrounded by lots of people with a passion for sheep! Sales were good, but my hardest lesson was the loss of the biggest sale due to my lack of card machine. Later in the day Henry and Titus arrived to keep me company and staff the stall so that I could have a look round the show. I returned to a throng of people gathered around my stall and concluded that Henry must be charming the ladies. Some were browsing, others approached me saying “My partner has told me to come and see your..…( ….artwork ?) ……beautiful dog!” I have already planned my stall for next year including a card machine and a corner for Titus, who has requested something soft to lie on - not just any old mat, but something to compliment his colouring and suitable for receiving his admiring public!

Henry had a little helper with the framing

Artist in a sheep pen

View from  my sheep pen - can you smell sheep?

"OH! Isn't he lovely"

18 May 2014

Working with a tetrad #2

I decided to do all 4 of my little lambs using the same pastels – a tetrad of red, green, yellow and violet. This is my second lamb, named “Geordie” – he seemed too cheeky to be called “Good Friday”.

No more words – must get on with the third……..

11 May 2014

Working with a tetrad

I shifted straight into sheep mode this weekend after another busy, but art-less week. I am very pleased with the square frames I pre-ordered online, as recommended by my friend Louise Worthy and I have at last found the thin black wooden moulding I had been searching for. Yesterday I sat down to ponder what shape sheep to put in them! So many photos, so many live subjects just outside the door -  but what to paint? I decided to work on a set of four lambs. This little sweety sat on the doorstep of our neighbour's bothy, soaking up the sun and asking for a portrait – so I obliged.

It’s a bit of a challenge and somewhat back-to-front to compose your art to suit your frame, but it limited my choices and helped make some decisions. My source photo was very colourful, so to ensure I achieved a balanced design I selected my pastels from a tetrad of red, violet, yellow and green and then closed the lid of my pastel box so that I was not tempted to reach for any more. At the very end I lifted the lid and added some off-white to the very lightest lamby bits and a very dark violet-brown for the darkest shadowy bits – this seemed to lift the composition as well as make a connection with the frame and cream mount. Henry named this painting “Easter Sunday” and now I shall make a start on “Good Friday” (back-to-front and a bit behind as usual).

A tetrad of tasty pastels
(Titus thought so when he knocked them on the floor)
"Easter Sunday" 20 x 20cm
Framed picture against newly painted door, obscured by Pumpkin

4 May 2014


Carrying on from the theme of new and exciting challenges, I have another one on the go. I have been accepted for the Highland Wool Festival as a “sheep artist”. The show will be a celebration of wool with all sorts of makers who use wool in their work. My stall of course, will be slightly different – celebrating the source of the raw material – the sheep! So, I now have just a few weeks left until 24 May to put together enough new paintings to take to the show, and design an interesting display around the constraints of a sheep market pen without spending a fortune. I’ve ordered the frames, just some painting to fit in which has been a bit difficult of late! This weekend I slipped into the required sheep-mode using a pastel sheep drawing as a demo for my first workshop – drawing animals. The day was fully booked with budding artists, aged 8 to 80, filling the room with piles of paper and pastel dust. I really enjoyed it and hope to see the same faces again at my second workshop at the end of the month.