Sunflowers

When I was a young girl I loved the 1966 British film ‘Born Free’ about Elsa the lioness … and the song ….. well, I’ve only got to hear the opening line and I’m a sobbing mess, it’s so beautiful.    The rescue home that named our Elsa couldn’t have chosen a more apt name;  she had the colouring and big mane of hair that was so reminiscent of a lion.  Whenever I’ve posted photos of Elsa on Instagram I’ve used the hashtag #elsatheliondog for that reason.

Elsa_Fotor_Collage

Since losing Elsa, when I’m asked how I am, the response is often ‘not great, to be honest’, to which the reply more often than not is ‘do some art …. paint, or do something creative’. My own words coming right back at me.   When a kind friend, who I met through Elsa, came round with some beautiful flowers the other week she said, “I’ve bought you sunflowers too because they remind me of Elsa”.  A seed was sown.

I’ve painted a series of four sunflower canvases and they are bright, colourful and full of texture.  I’m putting them in my shop for £25.00 each (plus £4.00 p&p) and when they sell 100% of the money will be donated to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Elsa’s memory.  If you would like to buy a canvas (or even all four!) you would have a piece of original art and the money would help the Battersea rescue centre make life a little more comfy for it’s residents.  Please follow the menu to the left and it will take you to my Shop with secure checkout via Paypal.

SUNFLOWER 1Sunflower 1 crop

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SUNFLOWER 2Sunflower 2 crop Sunflower 2 close-upSunflower 2 close-up

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SUNFLOWER 3Sunflower 3 crop

sunflower 3 close-upSunflower 3 close-up ….. would you just look at that beautiful texture!

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SUNFLOWER 4Sunflower 4 crop Sunflower 4 close-upSunflower 4 close-up

I really enjoyed painting these sunny pictures and it would be so lovely if the money raised brings a little joy to the current ‘residents’ at the home.

Sunflower square

They look great individually or grouped together and will bring some much needed sunshine indoors :)

Elsa

On a sunny April morning in 2005 we met Elsa and our lives were never the same again.  In June we celebrated Elsa’s 15th birthday.   Some might say that’s a grand age for a dog, but it wasn’t enough.  On 16th September we said goodbye.  She brought so much joy and fun to our lives that it’s hard to imagine ever feeling complete again.

Over the last three weeks I’ve been going through hundreds of photos and she is pretty much in all of them, so many happy memories.

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Nick & Elsa

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Sweet dreams my puppydog, until we meet again xx

Blue Mood Mod

Two years ago over the August Bank Holiday we were in Brighton and walking along the seafront.   We’d already been shopping on North Laine and had seen a few Mods and their incredible scooters, but they were just a taster for the spectacle on Madeira Drive.

The long weekend sees live music events, a market selling vintage clothes, memorabilia and art and the highlight has to be the ride-out where 100′s of scooters drive 5 miles from Madeira Drive along the coastal road to Smugglers Rest, Peacehaven.

The Jam Chrome Green & Orange The Jam Green scooter

I was taking photos as we walked along and just happened to turn and see a scooter at the traffic lights.  The rider turned and gave me the thumbs up as I took his photo.

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When we got home and I went through the photos on my camera I knew then that one day it would be really cool to turn this into a painting.    So, a short while ago I did just that.

Finished painting

I toyed with the idea of replacing the ugly background of the photograph with a seascape, or arches, railings, a roundel etc., but kept coming back to my original plan of a posterized effect with black background.  I’m glad I went with the dark background because I think it makes all the colours and small details stand out.   At 24 x 18″ it was quite a large canvas to work on.

The fine details of the rider’s coat badges, fog lights and pipework were major challenges!

Detail 3

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Detail 2

As I was nearing completion I thought it would be a nice idea to try and find the Mod to show him how his ‘thumbs up’ inspired me and I’m so glad I did.  I put a post on a few Facebook groups and eventually he got in touch.   He’s chuffed to bits that I painted him and loves what I’ve done and even wants to treat himself to the original for his birthday in December.

Trees

Who doesn’t love a tree?

When I walk through the woods with Elsa in the winter it’s always slightly warmer among the trees, during the summer it’s always cooler and the leafy canopy above means we get rained on less.  I take photos of birds in the trees, bees, butterflies and insects on the leaves and if I look closely, I usually find a face in the bark.

They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, provide a habitat for animals, birds and insects, provide shade and shelter, timber for house building and furniture, fuel for heating, fruit and nuts to eat and sticks for dens.  TREES ARE BRILLIANTTreesTrees 2

Inspired by my recent floral painting course I decided to try another class and signed up for ‘Trees in Four Seasons’.  Trees are structurally beautiful and provide unlimited inspiration for painting, even during the winter months.  This is what I produced from the first session:  “WINTER”Tree collageIt’s not always easy to photograph artwork indoors given the poor light and often overcast British weather, so I took the canvases out to the woods and made my own little art installation.Tree art installationThis is my favourite, probably because the canvas is an unusual size and the blue background worked better in my opinion; a proper winter scene.

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(Acrylic on canvas 100 x 30 cm)

As always I have far too many projects on the go.   I need to complete this course;  there are three other seasons after all.  Yesterday I bought a bunch of huge beautiful peonies and I’m itching to go back to the Abstract Florals class and have a go at painting them …. but I couldn’t help myself,  I’m working on something new and very exciting.  More to follow soon :)

Little blue pot

It has come to my attention that I don’t have green fingers.   I follow lots of people on Instagram who share photos of their lush green houseplants and I turn to look at mine and I have to admit I have Plant Envy. I water them, feed them, gently wipe their leaves and try to find the right light and temperature for them, but many (not all) still refuse to live.  I’ve killed so many that I’ve resorted to tucking artificial plants in high places where you really can’t tell the difference! Consequently, I have lots of empty plant pots whose inhabitants have long since gone to the composter.

It was shortly after I returned from said trip to the bottom of the garden, carrying a now empty little blue pot, that I realised it could become a paint brush pot and not join the other pots piling up in a cupboard …. so out came my Sharpies.

Frida pot

“I paint flowers so they will not die”   Frida Kahlo   (Seems like an appropriate quote!)

Abstract Floral Paintings

At the beginning of the year I bought an online class to learn the art of abstract floral painting.  Easy, you might say ….  but allowing myself to free up every brush stroke has been a challenge.  Putting down a chaos layer and ‘finding’ the flowers within has been fun but not always successful.  Sometimes I’ve worked it too hard and lost the looseness of the painting.

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I’ve made a lot of mess splashing paint about, our dining room table is out of use and there are traces of paint on the walls and floors but I’m loving the process.

Out of the dozen or so canvases I’ve painted so far, I’ve kept one for our spare room and two are now hanging on other people’s walls, so that’s not bad.  It’s such a great compliment when someone wants to live with a piece of my art in their home.

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The online class still offers so much more so no doubt there’ll be more to come.  Watch this space :)

Eggcellent!

Back in October last year my son mentioned he didn’t have any egg cups at his flat so the next time I was in the supermarket I bought two, but they were plain white and very boring.  What could I do to brighten them up?   Yep, that’s right, personalise them, of course!

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Using ceramic paint (I used Pebeo) here’s a brief outline of how I did it :-

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Following the paint manufacturers instructions bake in oven and then enjoy boiled egg and soldiers for breakfast!

Click the link below to watch my YouTube tutorial for more details :)

PERSONALISED EGG CUPS

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Our little mitten noir

I just checked and it’s six months since I’ve been here.

Last November we suddenly became aware that our little mitten had a health problem when she began breathing heavily.  Cats are clever like that, they mask their pain.  Unfortunately she was hiding several critical conditions and although we tried a month of veterinary treatment and medicating her, we couldn’t save her.   The last six months have been so hard because we weren’t ready to say goodbye and she has left a huge gaping hole in our lives.

Samba collageSamba 10.05.2005 – 14.12.2018

Our elderly dog, Elsa now requires around the clock care and we think the loss of Samba had an impact on her health too;  they really didn’t know life without each other.

I’ve lost so many furry friends over the last few years so I know that many of you will understand the great feelings of loss, but we have to remember how lucky we were to have spent our lives with each other and cherish all the memories we made.

Christmas Stick Tree

Earlier this year I collected fallen branches from the woods so I could make a Christmas stick tree again.  My last effort was made from big branches and it was VERY heavy,  so this time I was more selective!  (Yes, I am that woman with leaves and twigs in her hair, seen dragging things back to the van!)  This year I was determined to be more successful!

Stick Tree

I was so lucky to find the little hearts and stars in a charity shop and they were perfect for the tree.  I also bought some new lights (such a great price, from B&Q).

Stick Tree and samba

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It looks so pretty all lit up at night :) and I’m definitely going to keep this one for next year too.  It’s amazing what you can do with a pile of sticks!

Stick Tree bokeh

Sheer fluke that I took this bokeh image!

 

Elsa, Flora and Arthur

During the summer months our beautiful dog, Elsa developed a condition called Vestibular Disorder.   I didn’t write a post about it before because, in some childish way it made it more real and because it was very frightening. 

“Vestibular disease in geriatric dogs is often mistaken for stroke.  The vertigo caused by the disease can be particularly intense in older dogs with symptoms of nausea, difficulty or complete inability to stand up, head tilt, nystagmus, and circling.   Treatment of the disorder consists primarily of supportive care and resolving any underlying cause. Geriatric dogs with peripheral vestibular disease often need supportive therapy in the form of IV fluids and supplemental nutrition, help with eating, drinking.”

The long, hot summer months were very challenging because Elsa needed round the clock help, she was given water through a syringe, hand fed and carried out to the garden with a harness. We took it in turns sleeping downstairs with her and there were many nights where she couldn’t settle;  so there were many sleepless nights.  During these times I discovered that a lady I follow on Instagram was also awake and up in the wee hours, also caring for an elderly dog.  This wasn’t a family pet like ours, this was a dog that was living out her last days on the side of a busy road.  Flora was malnourished, filthy dirty, had sores and weeping wounds, cataracts and wobbly back legs -  but they took her home.

(At this point I should say that Anja and her husband are living in rural France, in a caravan with three other dogs, while they renovate their home.  Anja also makes beautiful jewellery from broken vintage plates.)   Back at the caravan they removed 40+ ticks, washed and treated the sores and also discovered that Flora was incontinent …. hence the sleepless nights that followed ….. Anja was constantly laying out dry bedding and making Flora as comfortable as possible until they could see a vet and try to get the condition under control.

So, there we both were, ‘chatting’ over phone messages, supporting each other with encouraging comments and both staring at the same bright moon whilst standing in the garden with our wobbly dogs.

    • “We had a dry night!!! Up at 5am”
    • Tonight is a more pleasant temperature for our furry friends”
    • I’ve slept in my own bed for the last two nights”
    • Flora tried to bounce today, all stiff legged and 2″ off the ground!”

Skipping back to May, Anja posted a photo on Instagram of one of her other dogs.  Arthur.  She describes Arthur as a bird watching, tractor spotting, hat loving dog.  When I saw the photo I just knew I wanted to paint it one day.   So I did.

Arthur

Doing what he loves …. bird watching, tractor spotting, wearing a hat.

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Arthur looks like he approves of the painting and I hope there’s a corner in his house for it to hang.

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Elsa is doing well;  after a few weeks she began eating and drinking unaided.  We found that a turning point in her mental state came when we took her to the park for the first time after the disorder began.  She is sometimes still wobbly and has a head tilt, but and on the whole she enjoys her walks.  She makes us smile when she skips and jumps like a new born lamb just finding its legs!  .  She appears to have had the most common form of canine vestibular disease – the peripheral form – which in most cases improves with time, supportive care and love.

Flora is no longer with us but during her last months she had a full belly, she was clean, comfortable, had companions and in the end truly knew what love was.   RIP Flora <3