Thursday 30 June 2011

Being Creative Gallery Check In ~ June

Hello friends, it's that time again!

This months theme was 'OCEAN' and there's been some great pieces of work emerging in the Flickr Group - I hope I'm going to see more now that the gallery is open with links back to your blogs and websites!

The ocean for me is a huge source of inspiration.  At first I contemplated doing an underwater scene, and then something more scenic, but undecided I just let myself loose in my watercolour book and this eventually came about:

'The One That Got Away...?' 

This is a watercolour and ink piece.  I wanted to do an illustration that showed something under the sea, so I could use all those delicious deep blues and teals.  I also posted a painting in the Flickr Group that I created a few years back, which is now in a private collection in Australia called Dream Haven.  It reflects the calm and tranquil nature of the ocean when housed behind strong, stone walls:

Before we get down to the business of opening the Gallery this month, I just wanted to write a little about posting work that's been created in the past, in the Flickr group.

I really don't mind you sharing pieces of work that you have created in the past, if you feel that the work is relevant to the theme that is being hosted.  However, the main focus of the group is to encourage creativity now, and the idea of the monthly themes is to have a brand new project to work on currently.  I love the work that is emerging through the group and hope that I continue to see you sharing more of your current works as well as older creations too. 

So, back to this month's theme: OCEAN

For those of you who would like to share your work via your blog/Flickr or other photo hosting webpage, then you are very welcome to add your link to the widget below (please just link to the page your work features on).  Don't forget to use the whole caboodle of http://www...etc or else the link won't work.

Anyone who has already posted in the Flickr Group are also encouraged to share your images in the gallery here too!  It's going fantastic to have a monthly source to access everyone's work so please don't be shy! 

Email Support
I would also like to take this opportunity to ask the group whether they feel they would benefit from email support?  I am considering setting up a mailing list for the participants who would like to receive tips, ideas, guidance and coaching via mail.  Is that something you feel would be useful for you?  Please let me know if you're interested in the comments section below.

You will be able to add your OCEAN themed work to the gallery here until the end of July.  There is also a list in the sidebar so that the gallery pages are easier for you to find.

For those of you who are working on the project and don't have the facility to share pictures of your work, then you are welcome to add your thoughts about your creative journey so far in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on taking part in the Being Creative Project, so please do share or feel free to email me privately.

The theme for July is SUMMER

You can post your work freely in the Flickr group as and when you like; don't forget to make use of the Discussion facility if you have any questions, or require some support.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done - thank you so much for sharing the vibrant, colourful energy of your glorious creations!

Julia x

Tuesday 28 June 2011

One Day Only - Summer Art Sale!


If you are on my Mailing List, you will already know about the One Day Summer Art Sale that is happening this very day!  (ooh, by the way - if you are on my list and didn't get that mail, would you make sure that you add me to your contacts page/white list/address book to ensure my little deliveries end up in your inbox and not your junk vacuum ~ thank ye).

So, a bit more about the sale:

1.  It's a compleeeeedly and most generously lovely discount of 20%

2.  You can use the discount against any ORIGINAL PAINTINGS, OPEN or LIMITED EDITION PRINTS.

3.  P&P remains FREE within the UK (shipping charges apply internationally).

4.  It's a one day opportunity to own a little chunk of sparkling colour by yours truly, for a pretty awesome price.  Most people on our wee planet think nothing of spending several hundred quidlets on mobile phones that are out dated within a year, yet art lasts a lifetime, often costs considerably less, and undoubtedly brings oodles more pleasure to us.  

5.  The sale starts right NOW.  And it runs until midnight.


Some of the things that are available in the sale...

Harbour - original acrylic painting on paper, with mount and underboard ready for framing along with a colourful selection of original paintings.

A range of Open edition signed and titled prints,

and Limited Edition Prints, such as 'Home' featured above; signed, titled and numbered.

Fine Art Cards are not included in the sale, but you might want to check them out anyhow because they're rather lovely and each is handsigned by yours truly!

If you have any questions or would like to reserve an item, them please get in touch with me.

I am also considering offering part payment plans for original art where you will have the option to pay in installments for your painting.  If this is something that interests you, then please email me your details and let me know.


To take advantage of the Art Sale, just visit my online gallery, and then email me to let me know what you would like to purchase, quoting the code on the voucher at the top of the screen.  I'll email you an invoice with the 20% discount and all art will be mailed within 3-5 days of payment being received and cleared.
If you have any questions then please email me.

Thank you for visiting today, for reading, and for your continued support!

Have a great day,
Love J x

Friday 24 June 2011

Seaside Sketchbook

'The One That Got Away' ~ Watercolour on Paper


I thought I'd take five minutes to share some of the sketches from my holiday with you (and work done at home inspired by my travels), as promised in my last post.  

I tend to carry a small hard backed sketch book with me in my bag most of the time (either a small moleskine or A6 Daler Rowney), along with a pencil and fine line waterproof black pen (a Staedler number 01), so that I can catch interesting moments that might make for good paintings later on.

Do you remember the photograph I took of the harbour wall in Falmouth in my Holiday Post?  Here it is:

I drew the above sketch whilst waiting for a little boat to take us back to St Mawes, just before it started to rain!
Drawing in a sketch book has the same ability to transport me back to a place in time as does a favourite tune.  I can recall sounds, atmosphere, scents, how I was feeling, and the weather just by looking through my sketches.  

These little boats were drawn from our car, parked up above the beach at Portreath.  It had lashed it down with  monsoonal style rain all morning and we had taken our wee girl to 'Build a Bear' as the beach was out of the question.  After this, we drove the odd mile or so to the coast and after we had finished our picnic, all huddled in a steamy damp car (no, not the nicest of scenarios!), the rest of our little party, wrapped up in waterproofs,  took her down on the sand to look for shells.  The rain had turned to drizzle with a blustery wind by this point, and I remember making the most of ten minutes solitude to capture a couple of little boats in my book, that I could see out the window to my right.

Looking at this sketch now, I also remember armies of dark grey clouds marching heavily across the horizon, and the sea was leaden and dark, with a bright aquamarine band on the shoreline.  Raindrops spattered across the car windscreen, and gulls shreiked and harassed the occasional huddled figures of tourists, who seemed intent on making the best of it despite the soggy conditions.

When I came home, I used the sketch above to do a sunnier painting:

I like turning something 'real' into something more illustrative!
The top painting is unfinished, I decided to begin the second one below instead and embellished it with stamped letters.

The paints I used for these pictures are my New and Compleeeedly Delicious White Night set (shown above in spanking new condition before I got stuck in!).
The paints are Russian, and have been produced by a company in St Petersburg since 1934.  They use very fine pigments and even honey in their colours.  The colours themselves are extremely fine, fantastic to blend and mix and are proving to be a very valuable investment.

I have been using them again this morning, to create something slightly different...

'Party' ~ Watercolour on Paper

I hope you have a fabulous weekend, thanks for dropping by - i'll be back soon to talk about crocheted blankets on a budget, and an Almost Finished shawl!

Love J x

Wednesday 22 June 2011

A Free E-Book for You

I had a great idea today.

To make a little E-Book, with some of my favourite and most popular crochet tutorials in it for you!!!

It was one of those ideas that couldn't wait.  I had to get it done pronto or it would become one of those ideas that kind of dissolved and turned into a hazy memory if left, one that never got completed, and so, while the idea was fresh and exciting, I put it all together.

I decided to call it, quite simply 'Colourful Crochet'.  Because that is exactly what it is.

This little E-Book is completely FREE, available to read online (click on the pages to enlarge the text) or to print off at home to keep.  I've chosen the following patterns which I know alot of people have enjoyed using:

Garden Flower Mobile Phone Pocket

Popcorn Flower Granny Squares

Teeny Tiny Heart Bunting

Chunky Crocheted Bowl

Toasty Mitts Arm Warmers

So, after oodles of writing and outpourings of excitement and creative energy; here it is!  You will also be able to find this book on the Free Goodies and Tutorials page (tab above) and in the sidebar.

Please feel free to spread the Crochet Love and share this with your friends and family.  I'd love to think this little book is going to travel far and wide and I do hope you enjoy it!

Next time:  Seaside sketches and paintings!

Mucho love
Julia x

Tuesday 21 June 2011


(Summer's Beach, St Mawes)

Finally I have found a little space in my day to share my little trip to Cornwall with you.  Oh friends, it was a wonderful week - I haven't been down in a good long while you see and it was heaven to see familiar places again after such a long time.  After those hectic, weary weeks beforehand too, it was a real tonic to unwind and not have anything very important to take care of or do, no real responsibilities...bliss.

We stayed in the little village of Portscatho, in this very cottage close to the square and a pebbles throw from the sea.  Just a short walk around the corner and you could be standing above the picturesque little harbour, or on the little beach...

...and we had a gorgeous view from our cottage window...

There is something very special about waking up to the sound of gulls calling, and then opening the curtains and seeing glimpses of the sea from your window.  I also managed to squeeze in a bit of al-fresco hooky time too, in the little walled front garden.

The first full day there, we awoke to heavy fog and torrential rain though.  Not a good start, but we found our waterproofs and headed out (typical Brits, going to enjoy it no matter what).  It poured down for most of the day and by mid afternoon it had turned to gales with intermittent showers.  We headed for Porthleven where the sea was wild and the waves were coming up over the harbour wall!

The next day couldn't have been more different.  In St Ives, the sun shone and our wee girl was in and out of the sea on Porthgwidden beach almost all day.

We finished a rather lovely day with a meal at the Ocean Grill, freshly caught fish and a chilled glass of wine...and what a view!

I really liked the decorative glass work inside the restaurant too:

Tired but feeling extremely happy, I walked back along the harbour to the car.  The tide had come in and the sea was that brilliant seaglass-green colour...

I could quite happily sit and watch the water and the waves around St Ives for hours, the colours are wonderful, and so very beautiful.  I find the sea to have a wonderful energy, it's constant movement, changing colour and's hugely inspiring and nourishing to be near to it.  Even on a rainy and cloudy day the sand seems to glow as if the sun shines upon it, and the sea has that bright gleam of soft creamy jade about it.  People talk about the special 'light' at St Ives, it's why the artists originally flocked to the place, and I can understand why they loved it so.

Later in the week, we went to Mousehole.  I love this tiny place, where old fishermens' cottages cluster together around it's pretty harbour, and wandering lanes lead to tiny galleries and cafes.

One morning, we drove to St Mawes, just a few miles from where we were staying.  Having not packed a picnic that day, we bought fresh baguettes at the St Mawes Bakery, a little building right on the harbour, and then nipped over the road to the deli where we stocked up on local cheese, pots of prawns, rolls of pink smoked salmon, and garlic and lemon mayonnaise before finally making our way to Summer's Beach.  What a treat!!
(Gorgeous coastal cottage at St Mawes)

A trip to Falmouth by boat in the afternoon was planned as we ate our feast.  The sun shone on the journey there and the sea was a deep jade green.  Carys and I went to see the Richard Tuff exhibition at Beside The Wave Gallery.  How I wish I could buy one of his paintings, alas they are rather beyond what my little purse can afford!!  

Waiting for the boat to take us back to St Mawes, I was rather taken with the harbour walls around Custom House Quay. I liked the way that different sized stones had been used in a rather pleasing way, and the ochre yellow lichen that had grown upon them contrasted with the grey of the stones beautifully!  I did a little sketch, just before our boat arrived, and then it was time to put the drawing things away and climb aboard.

The boat journey home was a cold affair and we had foolishly left our warm clothes back in St Mawes (Cornish readers please feel free to guffaw loudly at this point).  The weather had turned and a light drizzle accompanied us, along with a cold wind.  The boat bounced up and down on a generous swell, and a couple of our party alighted feeling a little queasy!  

Another lovely discovery for me this visit, was the Helford Passage.  I've long been a fan of Daphne DuMaurier books, and one of my favourite stories is Frenchman's Creek.  To be in the vicinity of where this woman took inspiration for her books was amazing, and although we didn't actually make it to the location of Frenchman's Creek, it was enough to stand down on the quayside at Helford Passage and imagine it all.  

There is a gentle drowsiness to this part of Cornwall which I find irresistible; it has a quiet charm that is far removed from the heaving bustle and busyness of St Ives, and you feel yourself relax in this quiet, pretty place.  As the tide lapped up the shore, and we retreated to the path (with a very annoyed four year old who can't quite fathom out why the sea has to eat her sand) we decided to have a meal in the Ferryboat Inn...local mussels for me, caught in Fowey that same day, with a nice bowl of chips and a cold glass of white!

A week goes far to fast, and before we knew it we were saying our goodbyes to our quiet little village, and it's tranquil surroundings.  Heading inland for home always makes me feel slightly flat and wistful, so I promise myself to come back again.

In the meantime I have a memory full of inspiration, a sketchbook full of new drawings (more about those next time) and ideas which I'll be sharing with you all soon.

Thanks for dropping in to see me, looking forward to catching up with all of you soon.

Julia x

Monday 20 June 2011

The Sea, The Sea...

Just peeping in to wave "Hello".

I'm just back from a little holiday, and I wonder if any of you can guess where I went?  It's been the most lovely time, despite the ever changing weather (blustery gale force winds and lashing rain storms one minute, paddling in the sea under a blazing sun and huge blue sky the next).  I'll be sharing more about my trip with you in the next few days, along with some sketches I did out and about that I think you might like.  Plus, I'm also in love with a New Blanket I'll tell you more about that too!  Thanks to all of you for your kind comments about the crocheted phone pocket on the last post, it was really nice to read them all.

Off to tackle a huuu-mon-gus ironing pile and yet more laundry...where on earth does it all come from?? How can just three people get through so many clothes in just seven days??!!

Back soon,
Much love Julia x

Friday 10 June 2011

Garden Flower Crocheted Mobile Phone Pocket

I recently got a new mobile phone (my old one was practically an antique and well past it's sell by date) and as my new one is actually a small computer in disguise, rather than just a phone I felt it needed something, a little pocket type protector to look after it.  I hadn't seen anything I really liked in the shops and all of sudden thought...hang on, why don't I crochet one!! Well of course!

So I looked for colour inspiration in my basket of odds and sods...

 ...and found a nice selection of Rowan Handknit Cotton DK.
I chose this particular wool as it can be crocheted up to be pretty sturdy.  Especially using SC (USA) stitches.

So I got busy.  Do you want the pattern?  You do?? Ah, OK then :D

The pocket is really easy.  It's just two stitches ~ chains and single crochet, so if you can do those then you can probably make this in an hour or less.

Choose your yarn.  I would suggest something fairly robust like a cotton but it's up to you.  I used a No. 4 hook and a selection of seven colours which were inspired by my Cath Kidston messenger bag.  The phone pocket is made up in stripes which consist of two rows of the same colour yarn in SC stitch.

The Pattern:

1:  Measure around your mobile phone.  Mine is a HTC and pretty small, so if you have an i-phone you may need extra chains to begin, and extra stripes to fit it height wise.  I will be giving the number of stitches that I used for mine, which may suit yours perfectly but do check before you begin.

2:  Ch 20 + CH1 

3:  SC in second stitch from hook. 

4:  1SC in each stitch all along the row to the end (20 stitches).  Turn for row 2, CH1 then in second stitch from hook, 1SC in each stitch til end of the row.

5:  *Finish off and add a new colour yarn

6:  Row 3:  Hook under 1st stitch of last row, CH1.  In same stitch, 1SC then 1SC in each stitch along the row to the end. (20 stitches).  Turn crochet piece for row 4, CH1 then 1SC in each stitch along the row to the end (20 stitches)*.
Repeat from * (step 5) for the rest of the pocket, until you have a rectangle of stripy crochet that fits just above your mobile phone.

Finish off, sew the edges of the pocket together (right sides facing) with yarn, leaving a space at the top to slide your phone in.  Turn the pocket the right way - almost done!

The will need to be able to do double crochet clusters (DCC) for this - see below flower tutorial for How To:

To embellish your pocket with a small flower, choose a contrasting yarn.

1:  CH 4 and join with a SS into first stitch
2:  *CH3, then 1DCC (see below), then SS into ring*.
3:  Repeat from * four more times, and finish off.
4:  Sew in ends and then sew the flower to your phone pocket, add buttons to finish.

Double Crochet Cluster stitch:  Here is an explanation of how to do this stitch - I hope it makes sense as there aren't any photos!

After doing your CH3, wrap yarn around hook and push hook through ring.
Pull yarn through (3 stitches on hook), wrap yarn around hook and pull through 2 stitches (2 stitches left on hook),  wrap yarn around hook (3 stitches on hook), push hook through thr ring, wrap yarn around hook and pull through (4 stitches on hook).  Wrap yarn around and pull through 2 stitches, wrap yarn around again and pull through remaining 3 stitches on hook.

So there you have it!

A pretty, protective, and unique little Mobile Phone Pocket!  I hope you like it, do have a go if you do, and please get in touch if you have any questions.

Love Julia x

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Rediscovering Watercolour and a Promise


I've made a new promise to myself this week.  As part of stepping back and re-prioritising my little life, and making it better and easier on myself, I realised that during the self imposed busy~ness I'd created, I had also neglected to do something very enjoyable.


The realisation that I hadn't drawn in several weeks was a bit of a shock if I'm honest.  I'm an artist, I'm meant to draw, indeed I LOVE to draw!  I carry a tiny moleskine with me in my bag in case of emergency sketch missions, or if an idea comes to me for a painting or illustration whilst I'm out and about.  But even this has been left untouched.

As I realised how much time had gone by since I last drew or painted, I decided to make a promise to myself, and that was to try and draw at least one thing a day in one of my sketchbooks.  Now you might be reading this and thinking 'does she never learn??? - off she goes again, filling up her life with Stuff...won't be long til we're hearing about how tired and worn out she is etc, etc...(Yawn).'

I promise it's not like that.  This is a gift to myself, because I love making art and it's part of who I am.  Without it, I feel a little bit empty or lopsided.  It makes me whole.
So, for a few minutes a day, I am going to draw because it feels good to be in touch with that part of myself.  And if I get longer, I will paint too.  I can probably do a decent sketch of something in the time it takes to watch an advert on TV.

(brightened up in Photoshop - really like the effect of this)

Just this morning (after being inspired by Springwatch again) I decided to do a quick sketch of a little blue tit that was in my garden, sitting in the eucalyptus tree (which is sadly dead and needs cutting down following that extraordinarily cold winter).  The birds still like it though, and use it to cluster on with their offspring.  I was able to capture one little chap fairly quickly (you have to be fast when it's a live bird you are drawing) and render him in watercolour and ink.

Ah.  Watercolour and Ink.

I used to paint in watercolour very regularly, and then over the last few years I have been working in acrylics more or less constantly.  Now sadly, due to neglect or lack of use (which amounts to the same thing really) most of my watercolour tubes had dried up.  I know you can cut the tubes open to use, but I was feeling frivolous so I ordered myself some new ones (which I'm still waiting for and am going beside myself with excitement about).  However, there were still some that were useable, and my palette still had a few decent colours left on it too!

It's a strange feeling, using a different medium after spending so long with something familiar.  It's a bit like being back in the classroom again, learning and stretching yourself and watercolour is so different to acrylic paint.  The fluidity, the transparency...I'd forgotten just how delicate they can be, but I was soon in the swing of it again.  It's a wonderful paint medium and I think it's fun to step out of the box and test your levels of comfort with something forgotten or new. 

So I'm on my art journey again.  I feel much happier.  My days also seem extra spacious of late and I'm certainly feeling better for the changes I've been making.  I'm making time for healthy breakfasts (although I still need my coffee kick lol)...

...and little bursts of retail therapy (well, when we've been a bit over-run with stuff, and feeling fed up it's nice to cheer ourselves with a small treat, isn't it?)
So I was super delighted to discover this Sarah Smith apron on sale at just £2.50!

Which will complement this, when it arrives:

 (image from Amazon)

By all accounts, this book is one of the best of the moment.  I had a peep whilst I was in Waterstones at the weekend, and I knew it was one of those books that I Just Had To Have on my bookshelf.  You know the kind I mean.  If you click the Amazon link under the picture, you will be able to see some of the mouth watering treats inside!

Well - it's time for some lunch, might even manage to sneak in another crocheted flower in between bites of my sarnie!  The shawl/wrap is coming on great, I'm really pleased with it and it's nice to be using up some of those remnants of wool from my basket at last. 

Right, I'm away!  I look forward to catching up with you soon, sending love
Julia x
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