Friday, 28 May 2010

A New Love Affair

Hello dear souls.

I'm here at last, and I'm a day late blogging (which means I'm a day late with my 100th Post Celebration Draw ~ sorry about that!) but it has been a whirlwind week involving a Very Important 3rd Birthday for a Little Someone amongst other things!
First of all though, I would like to share some of my photographs with you from our trip last weekend...

I never expected to be so totally smitten by a place...I never expected such a huge expanse of blue sky to greet me and an amazing sense of space. I never believed that beaches could be this white on the east coast, I never realised such a beautiful corner of England existed until last weekend when we journeyed north to Northumberland.

My dear friends, a new love affair has begun!

Beyond the sea grasses lay miles of soft white sand, and crystal clear seas which turned gently turquoise and then denim blue upon the horizon. Surely places like this are only found on foreign shores...?

Cheerful bunting was hung across the lane that wound its way down to the harbour at Seahouses.

And we were all quite in love with the soft calls of the beautiful eider ducks..

There were far too many beautiful views, I love looking at the beach through the fronds of dusty green sea grass...a magical descent to the beach below through warm sand dunes...

...and from the sandy path that ran along the low cliffs, we could see the Farne Islands clustered in that crystal clear water, the sun shone all day long and we felt so happy to be in this beautiful place...

Our travels took us to Alnmouth, where huge blousy red poppies grew in abundance by the estuary.

I was completely and utterly blown away by the brilliance and size of these wild flowers - and I thought, if I tried to paint this scene with the vivid blue sky and the scarlet petals it would look too much somehow. Only nature can carry off this sort of beauty I think!

Come evening, molten sunsets bathed everything in a rose gold glow...'s 9:30pm here, but Someone Small cares nothing about the time...there's always time for a paddle at the seaside!

I won't forget those long days in the fresh air and the sun which was hot from early morning when we first opened the door of our caravan at just turned seven o'clock. There's nothing quite like scent of wild flowers, grass and salt breezes as you sip a good cup of coffee and know that a whole new day lies ahead, full of wanderings and discoveries.

Now, I have always had a deep fondness for Cornwall and Devon, having holidayed and lived there over the years, but I'm starting to think those places may just have a teeny weeny bit of competition! I'm looking forward to going back to Northumberland some day not so far off, there is much more to see and do and three days, although heavenly, just weren't long enough!

But anyway...I think an important matter needs to be sorted out!!

Who, you may be wondering, is the winner of the 100th Post Draw?

Well my dear friends, I carefully checked and counted up the comments that you all kindly left for me (and they were all so very lovely, thank you all so much for taking the time to write them) and then I found me a Random Number Generator...

The number it drew for me was.....23!

And the winner of the little Cath Kidston address book, and two of my art print cards is
Well done! And thank you to everyone else who took part :D

So, at the beginning of this post I mentioned a 3rd Birthday, which is one of the reasons that I'm a day late with my draw - you see we didn't get back until late on Monday evening, and Tuesday was spent in a whirlwind of shopping and last minute present buying (and wrapping) not to mention cake baking at 8:30pm that same evening...whew!! Im weary again just thinking about it!! Wednesday was our Little One's birthday and she had a lovely day, although how she got to be 3 so fast is beyond me!

We had a little tea party for her, and here is a picture of the Smartie Cake she requested (I used the vanilla sponge recipe from 'Cupcakes from the Primrose Hill Bakery and it's a really good one).

Needless to say, yesterday was spent catching up with chores and the like (how come there is always so much washing after only 3 days away??) and before I knew it, it was early evening.

Ah well, better late than never eh?!

Before I go...(are you still with me?), I wanted to share an illustration piece that I've just finished for my portfolio.

I thought I'd continue with my animal theme, hence the bear. I painted this slightly different to how I usually do, in that I used my acrylic paint very thinly and in lots of layers. It built up gradually and I think it gives a nice depth, which I finished off with some soft crayon here and there.

Whilst on the subject of paintings etc, I'm going to be sharing some new cards with you soon. They are going to be hand illustrated, so therefore very unique and special, and I'll be posting them here for you to see very soon.

Just before I go, I'd like to welcome some new followers, and to say once again Thank You Very Much for visiting my blog, for your kindness and support ~ it means such a lot and I do enjoy reading your little messages!

Anyway, I'm off now, I don't know about you but after this I need a nice cuppa!! :D

See you all again soon~
(I'll be catching up properly with your blogs now life has settled back into a slightly more gentle pace again!!)

Much love
Happy Bank Holiday to you!

Julia x

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A Ta~Dah Moment and a 100th Post Giveaway!!!


And "Hello" to some lovely new followers too!! While I think about it, I'd like to thank you all for the gorgeous comments you left me on my last post - it makes my day to hear from you!

So, on my last post you may remember me teasing you with a shot of some scrumptious circles that I'd joined together (the original pattern can be discovered at Attic24 for those wondering). I wasn't giving much away was I, but today I can reveal what I've been up to...and Oh My, it's a bit of a scrummy reveal if I do say so myself!

I had the idea to do this Project some time ago, and eventually I weaned myself away from my Rainbow Ripple long enough to do it. This is another In Progress shot...hee hee!!

I wonder if you can guess what it is yet...?
Perhaps this next picture might give you a few clues...

Look at those swoonsome buttons would you? Aren't they just the best buttons for a lovely piece of rainbow infested crochet like that???

Alright, alright...I won't tease you any longer - here is my Ta~Dah moment, imaginary drum rolls please!!
For those of you who haven't guessed already, here is my Rainbow Flower Bolster Cushion!!! Woot Woot!!! Hurrah!!
Brace yourselves for some seriously gratuitous Bolster posing shots:

What do you think? Isn't it the most happy, Rest-Upon-Me-Right-Now looking thing you ever saw?

I was surprised how quickly I managed to do this actually. There are 70 little flowers (circles) that are joined as you go (which speeds things up enormously), and then the two main edges were finished off with white, green, turquoise and blue.

Let me tell you that it was very much a Fumble Your Way Along kind of pattern, in as much as there was no pattern - I made it up as I went along. The end circles are both made up with different colours and finished with some little picot stitches around the edges. You see the main point of this project was to use up oodles of bits of wool I had left over from my Big Blanket, and to be honest I only had to invest in a couple of new balls to supplement what ran out midway, and of course I had to buy the bolster cushion too.

So it didn't cost that much :D

And I love the colourful roly poly~ness of it, sitting on my sofa like a big rainbow sausage roll!

Ahhhh...I do like a good Ta~Dah moment to share with you lovely people!!

In the midst of all this evening crocheting, I found time to make the Little One some Proper Bunting at the weekend. She has been asking for flags in the garden for weeks now, and on Sunday morning I had a flick through Homemade (a gorgeous book by Ros Badger & Elspeth Thompson) and followed their very easy pattern and came up with this, which is now draped about the garden making it look very summery and festive!

Needless to say, there hasn't been much time for any painting this week. The other reason for that is because we are off to Northumberland to spend a few days by the sea and I have been busy washing, ironing and packing like a mad woman. I cannot wait for this little break, it is a much needed tonic for us all!

But before I go, there is one more important thing to share! Yes, today this is my 100th post. I know I am not the most frequent of bloggers and it has taken me quite a while to get to 100 as I generally only post once a week at the moment. But I love it, I enjoy writing my blog, I really enjoy getting to know fellow bloggers out there and the whole experience of reaching 100 posts has been wonderful.

So as a little Thank You to you all, for coming by and reading, following and commenting I would like to offer a Giveaway:

I have a very pretty Cath Kidston address book for you and two seasidey art cards of mine for you!

Isn't that a pretty address book? It's full of pretty designs like the Strawberry one above, and I thought I would treat one lucky reader to their very own as I love mine (the one Im showing you above) so very much indeed.
If you would like to be included in the giveaway, just drop me a comment here and your name will be added to the draw which will be taking place next Thursday the 27th May.

Im off now to treat myself to some new summer footwear, the weather forcast has promised sunshine and warm weather (fingers crossed) so Im away to the shops!!

I will try and catch up with your blogs when I come home, I wish you all a lovely weekend and send you lots of sunshine and happy times!

Love Julia x x x

Thursday, 13 May 2010

My Colour~Full World

'Beach Huts & Bunting'

Hello lovely people! How are you?

I'm pleased to be able to share another Small Original painting with you today! This one is 5" square, and is simply called 'Beach Huts & Bunting'...I was inspired to paint this particular scene from good memories of times spent in Wells-Next-The-Sea and Holkham Beach on the north Norfolk coast. If any of you have ever been to this beautiful part of the UK, you will know of the long stretches of white sand backed by firs and trees. Underneath this lush greenery is a string of colourful beach huts painted in cheery ice-cream colours and I love, love, LOVE this place to bits! So that's the inspiration, but the actual painting is very much from the imagination.

This painting can be found for sale on my gallery page, and in my Folksy shop - I'm also hoping to start listing in my Etsy shop again very soon, and I apologise to my friends in the USA for neglecting it (dearest Marge in Kansas, I have been meaning to write to you and tell you that I'm opening my little shop again for you!). The painting includes a white mount so it's all ready for framing and costs £45.00 (which includes P&P in the UK).

Another lovely thing I'm now able to share with you is this painting below. This was a very special commission painting that I did recently for a birthday gift - the birthday girl has become a very dear friend of mine and she's called Emma, and I was over-the-moon delighted to hear that she and her husband (who asked me to do the commission) were very, very happy with it. I hope Emma won't mind me telling you how much she loves rainbows, she is a girl after my own heart as I find them very special myself. Happy Birthday for Sunday Emma!!

You might remember that little patchwork owl that popped up last week...

...well I've been doing a small amount of sketches and doodles with ink pen and crayon, I'm not sure how much I like where this is going at the moment, but it's like most creative journeys I find myself on, there is often a heck of a lot of scribbling and rubbishy things that emerge before the one that makes you shout 'YES!' appears. But anyway, here are a couple of sketch book pages for you, I know I like peeking into other artist's sketch books and that some of you like peeking into mine, so here you are:

I shall persevere though, I'm not one to give up as I think my portfolio may benefit from some character work like this.

So...this week I have been thinking about colour, and how important it is in my little world. I was never ever going to be a minimalist sort of gal surrounded by white and bare surfaces, oh no, my love of colourful things is too strong and I have always been fascinated by its influence on our moods and emotions. While we know that blue is soothing and green is relaxing and so on, did you know that fast food chains very often use the colours red and yellow and white because it makes people eat faster? Its true. Apparently.

I have to admit to loving all colours, and I love rainbow shades together, hence my love for Big Blanket and Rainbow Ripple etc. My home would not be a real 'home' without these festive injections of colours all about the place. Colour plays an important role in our little house, it cheers us up, it makes us feel good and it's also lovely to look at.

And so, over the weekend, adding to the colourful theme, this began to happen:

"What is it?!?! What is it?!?" I can hear you cry. I'm only going to say for now that I'm working on a very nice little project and I will share some more of it with you next week. Isn't that naughty of me to tease you like that?!

However, it is going to involve these gorgeous little buttons...oh how I LOVE buttons!! These caught my eye immediately and I just had to have them for my New Project. Do you like them?

Perfect, rainbow buttony lovliness wouldn't you agree??

And of course, working with a bag full of juicy rainbow coloured wool never ceases to lift the spirits every time I look into it!

This last weekend we had a really nice Sunday - it started out with a lazy breakfast which went on for almost an hour.

And later a trip to a car boot sale at Hope in Derbyshire. After walking around and not finding much we drove up through Castleton to the foot of Mamtor (which is a huge hill which is very popular with walkers and hikers) and had our picnic by Odin Mine. We lay picnic blankets out and after we had eaten everything we had brought, Little Tot went with Daddy and Grandad to look in to the entrance of the mine and shout Loud Things to make Fabulous Noises and Echoes and I decided to lay back in the suddenly warm sunshine and close my eyes. All was very, very quiet - no noise from zooming traffic, just bird song and that soft whistle the wind makes sometimes. I can't remember such peace in a long time and I almost drifted off but the Little One came hurtling along the grass screaming 'ALIENS' and woke me up. :D

On the way home, I took the chance to call in Avant Garde at Baslow again, and I had a little splurge on this pretty, pretty tiffin tin which is just calling out to be filled with brownies and flapjacks don't you think?!

Just the thing for a picnic me thinks!!

Amongst all the other ordinary stuff this last week, we have been up to visit the village nursery & infant school which the Little One will be starting in September...oh my, where has the time gone? Sure she was just a babe in arms not that long ago and now when I look at her I see a proper little girl who makes us laugh, who is growing up a little bit more each day, who is such a beautiful little soul in every way. She is three in a couple of weeks and we are taking her to the seaside in Northumberland for a few days as a treat. She loves the seaside, she loves the sea - it seems to be in her bones, just like it's in her Mums bones and she talks about it or draws it all the time.

Anyway, the visit went very well, it's a warm and happy little place, the teachers were lovely, the children in the classrooms well behaved and we feel quite settled that it's going to be all alright. It's a big step though, and I can't help feeling a bit emotional at the thought of her beginning her little voyage of schooling in just a few months time.

Well! This has turned into rather a long post hasn't it?!! I wasn't expecting it to go on so long so well done if you made it right through to the end!

Next week is going to be my 100th blog post, so I will be having a little giveaway to celebrate!! Don't forget to come by and join in will you, you know how much I enjoy it when you do! :D

Right, that's all for now ~ have scrumptious weekends, sending you warm sunshine, home-made lollipops and happy times!

Love Julia x x x

Friday, 7 May 2010

Home Front

'Patchwork Owls'


I've been working on some animal/bird character sketches this week, and this is one of them above ~ I'm calling them the Patchwork Owls.
These are what I call my Paint Sketches, I work from pencil sketch drawings and then render them with colour. They are only small, about 10cm square and give me an excuse to play. Oh I like my paint sketch time very much indeed! There is no pressure to perform and execute a brilliant piece, its just painting for paintings sake (if you get my drift)...working on a Real Painting involves a bit more pressure at times, and attention to detail, and blending, and so on...paint sketching is just simple, wonderful, messing about.

In my mind I have a whole zoo of animals that are waiting to be put onto paper, and I've really enjoyed doing the owls, I want to work with the animals expressions a bit more as well.

It's been a while since I really did any animal characters...I think the last ones I painted were for my nephews a few years back. I did each of them a painting when they were new to the world, one was of a train full of different creatures with a letter on each little carriage spelling the eldest's name, and the other was a procession of elephants walking trunk to tail with a lettered coverlet spelling the youngest nephews name. These were done in watercolour but I find myself working more and more with acrylic nowadays ~ I love the way it dries quickly and how you can layer the colours over one another to give some great depth, and you can also water them down so they are almost as transparent as watercolour paint.

I have also been sketching some ideas for my next Small Original, I was over the moon delighted to sell the one I showed you last week (Tulips & Boats) and it is now happily on its way to a lovely new home.
The next painting will most likely feature the following: Beach Huts. Sea. Bunting.

...and, I will post pics as soon as it's done!

So how are you all this week? Have you had the awful cold snap that we have had here?? My goodness, we took ourselves off to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park on bank holiday Monday and nearly froze to death, despite putting several layers on! We also got caught in some icy cold rain showers and had to shelter in some bluebell woods (right next to a badger set) 'til it passed over...but it was worth it, the Wildlife Park is a fairly new attraction in these parts and we really enjoyed it. The Lemur experience where you are allowed to walk through their compound is magical, they are swinging about in the trees right above your head, and sitting not a foot away from the path you are walking on, warming their little tummies in the weak sunshine!

I think with this shock cold spell, I have been driven to a spot of nesting. Brownies have been baked (thank the Lord for Rachel Allen) and much crochet has been done of an evening. We have read lots of books and magazines, built lego towers, napped, made dens under the dining table with blankets, had a thunder storm and lamented the loss of all the blossom on the cherry tree, thanks to nasty gusty winds that blew it all off. We have pretty much harboured ourselves at home this week and I must say, I have enjoyed it very much. The gentle pace has been quite necessary.

Here is a little peak into our world of home made egg cosies, books, the Tiny Allotment (aka a patch of dirt in the back garden), crochet, and other bits and bobs:

Talking of domestic bliss, I have to tell you that I shocked myself the other day. My iron broke. And that meant I had to get a new one...oh dear, I actually felt quite excited at the thought of a new appliance...good grief, that would never have happened 10 years ago!! And so, the new iron was purchased, as was a dinky Cath Kidston ironing board cover (luxuriously thick and pretty) to replace the old one which was so thin you could see the metal through it. Why oh why did this delight me so much? I don't especially like ironing to tell you the truth but there is something about a New Iron and a New Cover that has me itching to get my hands on a fresh pile of laundry and get cracking. Perhaps I need help, or perhaps this is what happens when one is sequestered away in the confines of their home for several days...

Anyway! Im going to have a cup of tea and the other half of my lunch time brownie now - I want to say 'Welcome' to some lovely new followers (eek, they're nearly at 100, how did that happen??), it's nice of you all to stop by and please do say "Hello" if you feel like it, it's always smashing to hear from you, and it means I can come and visit you at your little blog too!

I hope you have a warm weekend, and I will catch up with you all again soon.

Mucho love,
J x


* Edited to add that the above mentioned Cath Kidston ironing board cover sadly had a tear along the seam and so it has been sent to the land of Returns and I am left with the above mentioned tatty one for the time being!! (Heart actually sank upon discovering it, my dream of ironing amongst the colourful flowers horribly dashed! Bah!)
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