Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring In The Rookeries

How lovely that spring is approaching. So many little buds bursting into leaf. I love the starkness of winter trees but I am always glad when the leaves appear to gentle the scenery. The only downside is that it is difficult to spot birds' nests and I have a bit of a thing about them at the moment. There don't seem to be enough nests around for all those birds..hmm!

Mythic Cat With Fish Friend - another pen and ink drawing. I bet you didn't know that cats could be friends with fish did you? It happens all the time apparently.

This is a pen and ink cockerel with a digital background. If you ever see a bird like this let me know. Definitely one of a kind.

The spring days are gaining warmth and bursting into life now. I found some beautiful pink blossom on the trees in a local churchyard...

and a host of golden daffodils on a private drive - sneaked in to get this one.

During a geocache in the local park we were of great interest to a lone swan approaching for food...

and swimming away when she realised we hadn't any titbits for her.

Ducks on the sunlit lake.

I love the intriguing narrative that Linda Gourley employs in creating her whimsical and quirky artworks. She is adept at etching, collograph and mixed media and uses a variety of techniques including chine colle. You can follow the link here to see more of Linda's work on her website.

Foot Loose And Fancy Free I

Garden Angel

It wouldn't be March without a few rookery photos. These shots are from one of my favourite local spots. I just wish I had a better zoom on my camera so that I could see them more clearly. I am fascinated by these amazingly gregarious black birds and the fights and squabbles they have when it is time to nest and produce the next generation. Apparently they make a habit of stealing bits of each others nests. It is a wonder they ever get built. I watched a group of rooks nesting in some local trees a few years ago and the nests were beautifully completed. There were about six altogether. A week or so later I happened to be there but the nests had completely and totally vanished. It must have been the wrong spot and they had upcycled the nesting material and built elsewhere.

I found this delightful little textile book in a charity shop the other day. It is by Linda Miller who is a very talented textile artist and is well-known in crafting circles. I have met Linda quite a few times at various art and craft locations and she is always more than happy to discuss her embroidery techniques. This book comprehensively details exactly how she goes about creating her machine emboidered pieces and is very easy to understand and follow. Even I could do it, but it would take me a very long time. The textures and colours of the embroideries are wonderful and the designs beautifully whimsical.

Spring Stroll


Autumn Leaves

I am still enjoying the fruits of my enormous clear out for re-carpeting a couple of weeks ago. I now have a largish pile of books and other things that I rediscovered. It is almost like getting new books. It is lovely reacquainting myself with them. Two old favourites are the books by pen and ink artist Anthony Mackay. The drawings below are from Journeys Into Bedfordshire but I also have a copy of its companion Journeys Into Hertfordshire. I bought them in the 1980's when I first discovered what a wonderful medium pen and ink was. I think he has also produced another two counties since then.

I can find next to nothing about him on the Internet but he obviously has a great sense of perspective to have accurately drawn so many beautiful buildings without making them look like renderings from an architect's handbook. I love the textures and tones he has produced. I learned a lot about pen and ink from his work in those early days. These drawings are also a valuable documentation of our heritage when buildings and trees disappear rapidly and our villages and towns are changed beyond recognition.

Shelton Church

Crawley Park Cottages

Marston Moretaine Moated Manor

Trees Near Old Warden

Abbey Farmhouse, Salph End, Renhold

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bookplates And Quirky Birds

Like everyone else I have been glued to the terrible events in Japan and have viewed with horror the unfolding disaster. I am sure everyones' hearts go out to those people who are left to try and get their lives back into some semblance of normality. What is happening to our world? Disaster after disaster.

I have sorted out lots of the items I had to move to get new carpets laid and hopefully everything is back in its place or perhaps an even better place. The dust bunnies have been laid to rest but no doubt they will be back with a vengeance. I never realised quite what a huge family of house spiders we have given accommodation to. I didn't have the heart to move them outside as they may not be able to tolerate our cold nights and to be quite honest I don't mind them too much. As long as they don't have teeth and they keep out of my bed that is. Live and let live is my motto these days.

I haven't done one of my "Woman Who Planted Trees" series for ages but here is number VII. I still have more in the pipeline. I love this combination of colours. I am not sure how many there will be eventually but I really like the concept so much that there are bound to be more to come.

This is a detail of my latest pen and ink artwork. The bird and flowers are coloured digitally. I did paint the original flowers green but they didn't look quite right.

Journey With A Golden Bird Here is the full version

I have been busy making some more of my greetings cards. I use the spray mount cans now instead of the messy pritt stick. So much cleaner and lovely to be able to reposition the image before it dries. You have to be careful not to inhale the fumes though. There is always a drawback isn't there?

The beautifully detailed etchings below are the work of Bulgarian printmaker Plamena Doycheva. You can find more of her work here at

Still Life With Pears


Below are some of the photos I managed to get a couple of weeks ago when we visited friends in Oxford. I dodged the showers to get these Abingdon shots. The town dates back to the 600's although there is evidence for iron age people in the area. Below is the ancient gatehouse attached to the church. I photographed some fascinating gargoyles here but the little devils decided not to allow me to focus properly on them...typical.

I loved this little side room on the tower of St. Nicholas's church. I wonder what its use was? This lovely building dates from 1170. I wish we had been able to go inside but there was some sort of music practice going on.

This is a view of an intriguing stairway into this old building.

I took a number of photos of these interesting ruins which I supposed to be the remains of the original abbey dating from Saxon times. Imagine my disappointment when I read on the Internet that they were created in 1920 and are considered to be Abingdon's Folly. Still, they are extremely well done and are believed to contain some of the original stones.

Some of you may remember quite a while back I featured an amazing embroidery artist called Nancy Nicholson. I discovered an article about her and her work on a now defunct Craft magazine. Nancy got in touch and said that she was going to create a website for her work and would let me know when it was up and running. She got back in touch recently and gave me the address of the website and also her new blog which is very interesting. Nancy's website is here and is absolutely gorgeous. Don't forget to go to the Gallery to see her lovely collaged birds and her textiles and screenprints. Make yourselves a coffee and go and have a browse. You will be delighted. Below are some of her interactive stationery artworks. Her sense of design and colour is gorgeous and contemporary. Her embroideries are stunning too. Anyway see for yourself. She is also the daughter of well-known embroideress Joan Nicholson who some of you may remember.

I have had this lovely book in my possession for some time but it reappeared when I was clearing out for new carpets. Amazing what you can find when you are not expecting it. It is A Treasury Of Bookplates selected by Fridolf Johnson. It covers the Renaissance to the present. I didn't realise that bookplates were around as early as that. I assumed they were a relatively recent introduction i.e. early 19th century. I suppose that people have wanted to lay claim to their books for as long as books have been around. I expect the old problem of borrowing a book from someone and forgetting who it belonged to is as old as the hills. Lots of famous artists and printmakers produced bookplates for their clients. The collecting of them is alive and thriving. In fact they are often commissioned from an artist and never actually used in books but swapped with other collectors. Below are seven of my favourites from the book (which is a Dover publication by the way). I particularly like the graphic woodcut or engraved design.

Reynolds Stone

Gerard Gaudaen

Pam G Rueter

Mark Severiin

Henry Ospovat

Rockwell Kent

Nico Bulder