Saturday, 25 February 2017



I've been so inspired this last couple of weeks by the new growth in the garden that I haven't done much drawing in the portrait book.
Here is the latest picture of the Hellebores in my garden given to me about 10 years ago by Justine and still going strong.
I can see the clump from my kitchen window lit by the morning sun when it passes through the cut down hydrangea branches.  The white flowers glow like lanterns against the dark soil and leaves.
I picked a sprig to draw from another clump elsewhere in the garden as I didn't want to spoil my display near the house and drew it in grey pen and watercolours.
Then it was time to get out the fabrics and start cutting.  I had found some non-woven fabrics at the local shop and I attached a layer of bondaweb to several of the colours so that I could build up a background on a piece of yellow cotton.  Then I stitched around the dark leaves as a simple under layer for the flowers.
Then it was just a case of gathering together some green and white fabrics and yellow ribbons for the stems and stitching them onto the background.  I love the abstract fuzzy background, what do you think?  The picture is already in a frame and hanging in the bedroom!
Next I decided to tackle the tiny daffodils that have opened in a big clump in the herb garden.
First a sketch to get used to the shapes of the trumpets and angles of the petals.
Then another background using the non-woven fabrics to which I added a few solid and spotty leaves.

I had already coloured a length of lace with some yellow acrylic paints so I used it to shape the trumpets for the flowers.  I used some narrow green ribbon for the stems and added a pink bow and a few more leaves.
This is going to be mounted on pink card for my mother in law on Mothering Sunday in a few week's time.

Saturday, 18 February 2017


My portrait sketchbook project is carrying on in the background while I work on my needlepainting during the afternoons.

I switch off my sewing machine and go downstairs at 5.30 to pick up my pencils and sketchbook to try and capture another family member.

I trawled through my photo albums in search of suitable images to scan and print ready for when the drawing mood takes me.

I made a pocket in the back of the sketchbook to hold the prints which I can then copy into the sketchbook. 

I'm trying to vary the colours I use, especially when I come to a tinted page.  Some work quite nicely....

but I don't like this shades of blue combination on purple very much.

The black and white looks best on this paper.  It's funny how you don't notice the errors till much later.. his glasses aren't the same size on both sides!

I look a bit odd too but the whole point of the exercise is to practise my portrait drawing and eventually by the time I've filled about 60 pages I'll have got it!!

Saturday, 11 February 2017


Here's my latest needlepainting, a view of Tourony plage, our favourite beach and one of the iconic images of Ploumanac'h used in most of the publicity for this wonderful area of the pink granite coast.
I collected together a bunch of photos of the little chateau on the island at the entrance to the harbour and the rocks as well as some of my sketches done over the years to use as inspiration.

I started with a calico background that I covered with pale blue organza scraps held down with a piece of blue net.  The sea is made from bondaweb coloured with acrylic inks thanks to a tip from my friend in Sweden, Jacqueline.
I started to build up the image with scraps of green and pink fabrics and overstitching till I was happy with the effect.

The rocks came next in a combination of all the orange and pink scraps I could find. I played around with different stitches on the sewing machine to give them some texture.  As you can see from the picture at the top I gradually worked forward adding bits till I was happy.  The painted bondaweb was great for the little bits of sea on the sand as long as I remembered to cover them with paper before touching with the iron!

When I had finished I turned over the work and decided to scan the back as it looks rather like a coloured sketch.
I hope you've enjoyed seeing this process and I will be sharing some more with you later in the year.

Saturday, 4 February 2017


I've been searching through all my old photos for suitable subjects for my portrait sketchbook and I've spent a lot of time nostalging.  It's very easy to get sidetracked isn't it!  Here is a photo taken in 1966 of my youngest sister Juliet when she was 12.

My daughters Justine and Joanna appear in lots more photos, especially since the advent of digital photography.  Do you remember when we had to consider carefully what to photograph as there were only 12 shots on the film?

These two drawings are copied from this delightful photo of my girls helping with the renovations of our home in Salfords.  Bob gave them bits of wood to play with while we got on with the serious business of building a new kitchen.  Anyone who knows Bob won't be surprised to hear that we still own all those tools as well as the worktable that was my father's before we took it over.

It's not easy to get a good drawing from such a tiny image but I'll be working hard to get better likeness by the end of the book!

Here's Joanna 38 years later at a wedding looking very glamorous.
I'll be back to the drawing board this week so watch this space for more of my family portraits.