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Chinese painting workshop

I did a Chinese painting workshop yesterday in Ross-on-Wye near me,  it was interesting and I brought two of the brushes, a larger wolf hair one and a smaller squirrel/raccoon haired one – the teacher couldn’t remember as the smaller one was one used in classes but I fell in love with it and she let me purchase it, these brushes will be brilliant with my pencils – despite being told they wouldn’t! Was an interesting day, I was talked into it by a lovely friend as I didn’t really want to go but it was nice to do something different. I am not a fan of the highly stylized art, there isn’t too much room for being different in the craft in its purest form, it focus’ very much on copying old masters – so old their names are lost in the mists of time. That said, I loved working with ink, hence buying a couple of brushes to see how i can use them with my Inktense pencils – the teacher said the inks was probably not the same.. but I disagree, you grind the ink for Chinese painting as it comes in a stick and you would have to grind the ink from the pencil in very much the same way. Was rather pleased with my hummingbird and lotus flower, you had to go directly onto the paper with the brush, no drawing or practising first! and the paper was soooooo thin!! I used two types of paper, grass paper and bark, the bamboo and minnows are on grass the other on bark, grass is the beginner paper and I liked it you had more control over the ink the bark is a smoother texture and therefore more difficult to control the bleeding. All in all I loved the day and it was with a great group of lovely ladies, all older ladies but they have the best stories.. one lady was telling how she was in a Russian hospital and how much vodka was consumed as she wanted to have a local anesthetic rather than a general as she didn’t quite trust she wouldn’t wake up with her arm not removed – she had an arm injury – after the local hadn’t worked the staff resorted to giving her vodka and she was most alarmed that the surgeon partook in this too! This was many years ago, I was the youngest in the group by quite a few years and I imagine this lady had a good 35 years on me!  She was a delightful person with a twinkle in her eye, I would love to hear more of her stories.


The teacher for the class was Katrina Stephens and you can see more of her work HERE   

It was a lovely day and Katrina was a good teacher with a rather impressive collection of fabulous inks, the Chinese really do know how to display their products, everything is so beautifully packaged.

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Art Journal – it’s a dog’s life

I never really understood art journalling but have kept sketchbooks for years so this year decided to experiment.   The idea is to have fun no fiddling with details, no worrying about perspective and correct angles even colour is chosen through instinct rather than calculated thought.   I now understand the peace and freedom of those adult colouring books… I think…


The need to fiddle is really over whelming, this piece is not right and drawing on the crease of the book really causes problems, BUT, I had fun, I relaxed and I didn’t touch it up in any way!!

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July Component of the Month for the Art Elements challenge – Scarab by Susan Kennedy

Susan, from the Art Elements team chose Scarabs as her choice of COM for July’s challenge – original blog post is here – I opted to have a random choice of colour sent to me and recieved an etched coral/orange one – not got a photo sorry I am so rubbish at that bit!

Being etched my bead was matt to touch and to see but the colour did give me pause to think.

My first idea was to add greens and blues to the soft peachy coral and create a piece of jewellery but my muse is really not jewellery creations, all bar hanging a bead on a chain, but I do have a love of history.. and cats.


I love to watch the Discovery channel on Sky tv, one of the few things I do watch.  Ancient Egypt is one of the civilisations that totally fascinate me, women of power, Gods that represent truth, power, harmony…  and law to name just a few.  The people of Ancient Egypt were a  polytheistic nation where traditions and religion touched every aspect of their lifes.  They had many import symbols including the scarab which represented Ra the Sun God one of the most important Gods of the time.  Ra was often depicted as a scarab he renewed the sun each day and rolled it across the heavens, like a dung beetle moving.. well dung…

I wanted to take the peachy look off of my bead so I added Inktense pencils in blue and green aquamarine, once dried the ‘ink’ is permanent and will not wash off, it was a bit of an experiment to see if the glass would take this colouring and it did, the camera has darkened the bead a bit too much as the peachy coral colour is still prominent but the indents in the glass now have more definition.  I like it.

Bastet,  the daughter of the Sun God Ra was the Egyptian Goddess of home, fertility, keeping all disease away from woman and children.  She is also known to have walked beside the dead as a guide.  Two more things that fascinate me, life after death and cats!  Bastet is also the Goddess of Cats.


The Ancient Greeks changed Bastet to a Goddess of the Moon when she was changed from the form of a lion to that of a more recognized domestic cat, but for me Bastet is still related to Ra and the sun.

Not being jewellery inspired I ‘stuck’ my bead into my art journal, I had every intention of getting out some gold thread and designing a jewellery piece on the page – another great idea that will one day be created – but the image of a cat appeared instead.  As my art leans more towards the whimsy side of life I decided to ‘run with it’ and see what happened.  Bastet was coloured with the deep blues and purples of the night, a slight nod toward the Ancient Greeks and the Goddess of the Moon.  The piece above my Bastet is ceramic and from one of the lovely ladies of the Art Elements team (but again being rubbish I forget who.. sorry) I just liked it and it ‘sort’ of reminded me of the sun in a very stylized way, the scrolls are quite Celtic, to me, and scrolls represent no beginning and no end, being eternal.

Opposite the ‘bead’ page I drew very stylized images of a scarab and pyramids beneath the Sun God Ra.  This ‘art journal’ is handmade paper, made from elephant dung and brought from the Eden Project in Cornwall a few years ago and is really difficult to do anything on, the paper disintegrates quickly and easily and colour ‘sinks’ into it, so I gesso the pages to stop them being absorbent and give them a bit of a tooth on which the pencil will catch.  Several layers of Inktense pencils blended with water and over laid with layers of pencil (Caran d’Ache Prismalo used dry) blended into each other using application and layers.

Final thoughts on this bead was how much it made me think about art, culture, design, mythology and so much more.  Who knew that beads had that power… the Ancient Egyptians probably!

You can find more of Sue’s beads in her Etsy shop 

Links to the others that took part in this challenge are below.


Deb Fortin

Lennis Carrier

Barb Fernald

AE Team











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Exploring Manga

After dismissing Manga/Anime style for many years and having a collection of ‘how to’ books on my bookcases, brought for my kids years ago, I have decided to give Manga a go.  I am not sure if Manga is Anime or if they are different styles they seem to share similar methods.


Eyes have always fascinated me and Manga eyes are no exception although the ‘purple girl’ eyes are more within the style than the blue haired girl.



Still, they are a little different from how I drew this eye years ago!

Cats Eye
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ACEO – Art Cards Editions and Originals


I have been busy creating little works of art on paper, my doodles are now available in the shop as mounted originals or prints and I will be adding plenty more as the days roll by….  beads all start with a doodle and my first love was always pencils.  Hope you all like them.  Click on the shop link to have a better look with more details.


As always monitors do show different colour spectrums so I have included both a scanned image and a photographed image in the shop.  I love bright colour so the bright images are more akin to the ‘real’ piece.