Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Another day painting along with Pete where we've continued with our Roses, adding background and leaves. So far we are pleased with our results. I couldn't add my leaves as the under paint kept lifting off. I have marked where my stems are going to be ready to start leaves when it has dried again, where as we managed to paint the leaves on Pete’s. The roses are starting to show their full glory now although we still have some work to do in that area.  They are growing. Hopefully we shall finish them next week.

Meantime my pet portrait is also coming along and at the second stage of drying.

This evening I’m off to a line dance session at our little club. This will be my forth week. Line dancing as well as sequence dancing! You may be thinking I've taken this exercise lark a bit over board but there is a reason for my madness. I was told that with most types of dancing, the steps are the same but in a different order and that if I tried line dancing I would only have myself to think about as apposed to having a partner, which would give me more confidence.  I did think it would be too fast for me but like everything that goes on at our club you do as much as you want to do. My first week I was amazed to find by watching others line dance that you put as much effort into it that you feel you can cope with. Yes, it’s becoming easier for me each week and I find I’m looking forward to going. I also found I am becoming more confident when we go on Tuesday to our sequence dance club. Now which shoes shall I wear? 

See you next time,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Do you want to dance?
Why don’t you?

Exercise is good for you so they say; I for one have always shied away from it as much as possible, more so as I've grown older. Why you may ask? Like many others I have used various excuses, work, too busy, I get out of puff too much, excuses pile up when you think of them all.

The decision came for me to start dance sessions where we live, sequence dancing, after being ill for 2 yrs and not being able to do much at all. I missed a lot of things, even going to the supermarket was a task in itself as I couldn't make it all around the store. I then realised I was having more good days than bad and in order for me to move on I decided it was time I became more active and dancing sounded more fun than just walking which we do when the weather is fine. During winter months it is more difficult because of the weather. Our club sounded a good idea, not far to go, and easy to get home in all weathers.

Tuesday afternoon is dance day for us.. We don’t have far to go about 10 yds to our little clubhouse on site where we live. It’s really known by all who live here as 'The Pavilion'. It’s an opportunity to meet a few others in the same frame of mind, to exercise, have a cup of tea and biscuit, also have a good natter to catch up with news; what’s happening, where and to whom within our little area.  Apparently there are quite a few dances around our area, therefore some of the dancers use our session as an opportunity to practice, some used to live here but still come along and others are friends of someone who lives here. There are some who don’t dance at all but come along anyway rather than be home on they’re own, it gets them out of the house and of course the exercise walking to get there.

We've lived here for over 30 yrs now, when we worked we had other things to do and didn't have time to go along to join the fun. We've been going a few weeks now since before Christmas last year and are now starting to remember some of the sequences. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t to things by halves, if I’m going to do it I want to do it right. I find  u tube video’s that show some of the dances and sit here moving my feet to try and follow the moves. More exercise.

The first few weeks the sequences all merged into one in my brain but as weeks pass I am remembering more of them. I still get muddled up and do it wrong but it’s fun of trying to get to the end and have done at least one sequence right. No one watches you or cares if you do it wrong, are very helpful showing you the steps. We do have a couple of ladies who run the dance club, as we call it, who also teach you and are very patient.

Hubby used to do ballroom dancing in his younger days but this is different, it helps me knowing he’s not done this before and learning also. I wore my shoes I normally wear if I go out anywhere nice but found I couldn't glide as they call it  because my shoes being rubber kept squeaking on the floor and I lost my shoe a couple of times. Those who do dance said I needed leather soles to dance. As I enjoy dancing I have invested in some practice shoes for now. When we feel able to go to an actual dance I will buy appropriate dance shoes.  I can’t wait!

I hear many people say it’s not my thing, I can’t do this or that, and I've never been any good at this or that. Are you saying those things too? I believe anyone can do anything they want to do. You have to try and get out of it what you find pleasure in. After all you never know until you try.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Why do we want a pet?

I’m not the right person to ask as being allergic to most animals that cause hospitalization when I do come into contact with them. It’s not a situation I would like to create purposely.

Pets to most British people are part of the family, some are doted on more that others.  Earlier on in my life we have had dogs that I loved to bits.There are many dogs now that are said to be perfect for asthmatics but that still puts me off, having been really poorly several times it’s frightening to think what can happen to me, then having to take it back doesn't bear thinking about.

I love animals and if I’d not been allergic to them I would probably have at least one or two.  These days I think it would probably be nice to have one which would get me out in the fresh air more often and I’d get more exercise too. But is that a reason for having a dog? Not to my way of thinking, which brings thoughts of having to get up earlier to take the poor thing out to relieve itself, for me in all weathers does not bear thinking about. Do I love them enough to turn our life around at this stage in our lives?

Going anywhere these days can cause problems as to whether we can take them with us. I've seen them left in cars, taken to car boot sales in all weathers getting under other people’s feet, being left tied up outside supermarkets and shops thinking could do that to mine, but then what do you do with your pet when you also have to live your life. Leave it at home? I’d worry if it were crying for me as I've heard a neighbour’s dog do when she pops out for a little while. I’m a softie at heart.

These days there are holiday places that specifically cater for people who have dogs, but then I’d run into problems with others that I would be allergic to. When there is no other choice do you put them in kennels that I know are expensive and can cost as much as the owners holiday. Many people have someone to pet sit for families in their own home whilst they are away, whilst others have friends or family look after them in their own home. Good idea!

With all this in mind I think I’ll stick to painting them. I have in the past, done portraits of my friends pets, which I’m told, have looked exactly like their beloved pet which for me is something. When I decide I’m going to start a pet portrait I like to have a lot of photographs, that I hang up around my space for a while, it’s my way of getting to know the animal. When I feel I’m ready to start I draw the cat or dog straight onto a board or canvas and live with it for a day or two before applying paint. I start with a background that I think will show the pet’s personality or finished portrait best. The eyes show me it’s soul and brings the portrait alive, they are next. After that it depends on the animal’s fur where I continue. I work in layers allowing each one to dry before starting the next layer. I continually look at it to feel the essence of pet in front of me. They are well worth the effort and time I put into them.

I am at this time starting another portrait to paint in between the roses, which is drying in readiness of the next stage of its development. As this also needs time to dry I decided it would provide stimulation whilst I wait without going away of what I’m doing which has happened then the painting is never completed. I will take photographs for later publication.

I hope you like my pets, which is where I’m going to stay, painting rather than owning. 

Alphie belongs to a young lady i worked with at the time.

Ginger belongs to friends of ours and painted as a Christmas gift and was my first pet portrait..

Sasha belongs to one of the bosses I worked with at that time..

Belle belongs to a dear friend of mine and was a Christmas gift

This cat  was painted after it passed away to help a dear friend deal with it's loss. 

Painted for the same dear friends as a gift to a relative who was sick at the time

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's Friday!

What does Friday mean to you?

Many think of Friday being last day of a five-day working week, and viewed as a cause for celebration or relief.

For some it’s the end of a working week and look forward to a couple of days doing what they want without having to get up and answer to bosses.

Catching up with housework when work commitments take up precious time where these tasks could have been fulfilled during the week is the main aim of for some.

For those who have been able to have accomplished these tasks during the week, Friday indicates the end of the week and look forward to a relaxing weekend having fun with their loved ones or in general just chilling out as some say.

For others looking forward to weekend means they can fulfill their never-ending need or have to shop. Not just supermarkets, there are all those other types of shops where you can purchase anything you may need or don’t need in some cases.

For us, not a lot! By this time we have normally been anywhere we've needed to go, appointments and such. Our shopping is all done and looking forward to a couple of days when we don’t have to go out if we don’t want to.

In general we tend to leave the shops for others to invade who have no alternative than having to go shopping to stock up on provisions that have been used up from the previous nightmare. People who work mostly 9 to 5 are probably too tired to go after work although I believe many do. The supermarkets are usually very busy and clapping their hands watching all those eager folks willing or having to fill their shopping trolleys many to over flowing. The world over it seems to mean the same for many who have to prepare for the week after all work gets in the way of these every day necessities. 

In our area car parks are full to over flowing with endless rows of cars queuing to park. It seems that wherever you go, Shopping Centres, main towns or Retail Park there is chaos at the weekend. Getting there is part of the nightmare for us, and for many areas too where holiday periods only add to the rage of getting anywhere. Children of many ages being dragged along to help some say, but probably the reason being that they can’t be left home alone or that there is no one to look after them. Many parents have already spent quite of bit of their hard earned cash paying for childcare on weekdays and weekends are their time to be with the kiddies. Where I go you go seems to be the thing for some whether they like it or not. You can hear the wailing of younger ones who’d rather not be there for they have more important things to do other than accompany parents to the shops. Among what seems chaos there are “can I have” and “I want” type, where parents become frustrated with the never-ending demands of their youngsters.  Not for me, I’m happy to say. For us being retired, there really isn't any difference to week days. We can and do what we want when we want. Lovely!

Some call this fun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I've been asked how my roses are coming along so today I thought I’d fill you in on progress so far.

It’s Wednesday again and as I've said previously it’s my painting day. We did paint last week (these roses) but only got as far as the base colour in the flowers and some fiddling around.

Pete arrived with all his gear eager to continue with his, which are yellow. I’m beginning to wish I’d chosen yellow too as I've had success with them before. Red for me at the moment was not a good idea. Perhaps when I have finished I may change my mind. When we decided we’d had enough, I took photos of both paintings as we can see more easily how we are progressing and what needs altering. We discuss together what we like, where we are going to make changes next time and the reverse. My hubby says, “they’re coming”. As you can see there are changes that need to be made before I do the background. I’m sure some of you can see areas that are good, others not so good and what you would do. No, not put it in the bin. We will get there in the end. I hope. Perhaps we will try pansies or some other flower next time. It is surprising when you achieve a completed painting that you or others give positive feed back how you change your mind.

I've scrubbed the brush around with a tiny bit of green (which will cover) to get an idea of how I’m going to do the background, also because I’m getting a little impatient.

There are some people who have no trouble at all painting flowers and some make a good living from them. My purpose is to enjoy what I’m doing; I think the fun is striving for perfection otherwise what’s the point. I’m sure some would say you do it like this or that, but I've found it’s not easy to paint the same way someone else has found successful. You can learn yes, but at the end of the day you have to find your way of doing things like everything else we do, cleaning or washing up, we are all different in what ever we do. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I found the extract below posted on my Facebook wall. (yes they do post some good stuff too) I started to think again as I have been lately. How was I taught right from wrong? How others were taught and children today how are they taught? Why do children brought up with the same family values turn out differently? Some go on to make their way in life and pass the better values to their children whilst others have no consideration for anyone or values at all. Why?

Driving on our congested roads, many show no consideration for others but seem to be on a mission with only thought for themselves. Neighbors show no consideration for those next door when they insist on banging doors, playing loud music or having their TV turned up to top volume. So many other things i don't want to bore you with.

I can’t remember how I was taught all these values of life but I do remember early on learning not to tell lies. If I told a lie and was found out, oh dear, trouble, but if I told the truth, consequences were not so dire and life was more pleasant.  To this day i hate it when people lie to me. 

With my children: saying no when they were very young and as they grew older and had to be punished (where I was just as upset as they were) in some way for misdemeanors I used to ask them “why did I do that” sometimes they would shrug their shoulder and I had to explain why, but as they became older they understood what they had done and the consequences of their actions. I might add that i'm very lucky in that they have grown into good people. 

There is a lot of good in this world of ours as well as bad, life would be so much more pleasant for us all if people would just stop and think before they do something to hurt another mentally or physically. 

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily, gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.” You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. Make sure you control your temper the next time you are tempted to say something you will regret later.

- Author Unknown
 — with Lisa Janicki.

Monday, January 21, 2013

More Snow

Thoughts of the day.

It’s Monday and the snow as you know is still causing havoc for many people. Those who work are doing their best to work so that they can earn their daily crust whilst others are not trying as the situation where they are makes it impossible. Hundreds of schools closed, many teachers can’t get there, whilst on the BBC News it was said schools were afraid that our little darlings may get hurt from slipping etc and then being sued. Parents who could have got to work have to stay home whilst others manage childcare via other alternatives.  I applaud the Head Teacher of a school in Durham who said “ they've played in the snow all weekend, Monday is a school day and the children should be here to learn” they are open as usual. Good for him! Many areas have had even worse conditions, allowances have to made in their situation.

Airports are having nightmares with so many flights being cancelled or rescheduled and all those passengers to look after who have been stranded and many since Friday. I’m so glad I decided to stay home! Not that I would be flying anywhere.

Whilst here at home the snow has thawed in many area’s of the garden but there’s still a lot around the estate that is still piled up everywhere still making getting about difficult. I think I’ll stay here in the warm and chat to you instead.

I have poked my head out of windows and taken photographs that I thought might be handy reference at some point when I’m painting. How trees sag with the extra weight and lays on branches and bare bushes. As an artist I do find I look at things differently to a lot of people. Having had cataracts removed a few years ago I became fascinated with colours, they were so defined as from before. Everywhere I go I’m amazed at how beautiful Mother Nature is. You could say it certainly opened my eyes.

Hope you enjoy the photos,
See you soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


After the disappointment yesterday of not being able to go to the craft show, all because of the dreaded snow, I stayed in the warm, in my little room where I have my PCs and where I accomplish the many paintings seen on my web site and ‘Facebook’. Glancing out of the window a few times, looking up at the sky to see how much more was going to come down to join the pile already quite deep outside in the garden. I wanted to take photos to post on my ‘Facebook’ profile, I did feel a little sorry that we hadn't made it to the craft show and so I decided to put some music on to console myself whilst I was playing, which is what my other half calls it.

I played the first CD; ‘IL Divo’, whilst I was looking at the others and decided on ‘G4’, (the ladies will know who they are fellas) I started to think about childhood days when it snowed with snow ball fights, sledging with black bin bags to sit on, anything would do so long as we slid down the hills. Snowmen competitions with rival gangs but we still went to school no matter what the weather. School Closed! ! ! Unheard of, they never closed back then. Anyway we had to make our ice slide in the playground, that had to be done it was all part of the fun. Is it my age I wonder, the disappointment of a cancelled trip, or is the snow different these days? It certainly isn't deeper, I don’t think so anyway, perhaps it was my little short legs in those days, the snow sometimes coming over the top of my ‘wellies’ and getting my woolly socks wet.

I wasn't really concentrating on what I was doing as my mind wondered on to how my taste in music has changed over the years. As a child we heard nursery rhymes Jack and Jill and others. The little ditties we learnt at pre-school, itsy bitsy spider; I’m a little teapot; etc., all passed on to our children and grandchildren. They are never out of date like the music we loved as a teenager, you know, the stuff granddad called hurdy-gurdy rubbish. All those I loved; The Beatles, Elvis, and Cliff Richards who then took me to my early years of marriage when Abba and Barry Manilow came on the scene. I never did like the rowdy stuff the Stones produced and others like them. Here I am playing what others call mushy stuff. 
Life eh!
Perhaps you may know or remember some of these from your own childhood:

A Wise Old Owl
Big Ship Sails on the Ally-Ally-oh
Doctor Foster
Aiken Drum 
Christmas is Coming
For Want of a Nail
For Anna's Baby I painted some time ago
An Apple a Day
Cry Baby Buntin
Georgie Porgie
As I was Going to St. Ives
Diddle Diddle Dumpling
Goosey Goosey Gander
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Ding Dong Bell
Grand Old Duke of York
Hark hark the Dogs do Bark
Here is the Church
Hey Diddle Diddle
Hickory Dickory Dock
Horsey Horsey 
Hot Cross Buns
Humpty Dumpty
Hush-a-bye Baby
Jack and Jill went up the Hill

And many more, so many to remember!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Oh no! Snow!!!

After the alarm went off for an early start, which is unusual in our house these days, one eye opened to turn the alarm off then turned to look out of the window. Oh no! What a turn up this is, mother nature it seems has decided to put the mockers on our day, we're supposed to be going to Sandown Park craft show by coach all arranged by the little club where we live. The weather was forecast by those lovely people on TV who try to keep us informed but as usual you never believe them having been wrong before.

Dilemma what to do. All the usual thoughts go through my head, it might be ok on the main road, it might be ok away from here, all the usual thoughts of trying to make it work. Best foot forward, sandwiches all done last night and all the other goodies one takes on a day out.

Ah! turn on the TV see what it looks like else where. Looking for programs it says, programs not found try turning off and rebooting better still contact Sky. Nothing works. The trustee ole PC that should be ok. Yes there's the news, looks bad to me. I phoned the organizer of the trip she says the coach is on it's way. So we carry on, get ready and brave the weather.

Needless to say various others have heard all sorts on the TV and local radio about the usual mayhem snow has caused. After a 15 minute conversation including the coach driver who's taken an hour to get to us we all decide to cancel and go back in the warm. Very sensible.  We had really been looking forward to the show but after all, lives are worth more than the cost of the trip and there's always next time.

This is where we live and you can see the satellite dish covered in snow.
 TV works now after the boss went out with the broom.


Stage 1

Having decided to paint roses my way after the last session proved unsuccessful by trying other people’s techniques; I've prepared a new canvas board painted over with a cream acrylic paint which is from one of the bottled acrylic paints used for ceramics and other types of projects on wood etc. Not being able to draw I found some photographs I’d taken of our roses over the years then copied them onto the canvas using pencil. I’m hopeless at arranging flowers too so it’s quite a task to get the layout to look right.  I've shaded in the darker areas of the flowers using black gesso and dabbed some green and blue bottled acrylic over the background using a sponge. I’m hoping that this will give a background effect of leaves and sky after I've gone over it with oil paint.  It looks a mess I know, they look like roses, but as I've said before oil paint is forgiving. We shall see!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Pete and I decided we both need more practice with trees. As we weren't happy with our fir trees in the previous painting this time we’d have a go at deciduous trees. I used black and white gesso on my canvas board and created a forest with bushes and a path to show Pete how you can plan a painting before hand and still use oil on top to complete the painting. Next time I’ll take a photo to show you but I didn't know then I was going to start a blog.

We had a really good day and extremely happy with our finished work. There is room for improvement for both of us but it was a start. As I’d already painted on my board I got Pete to paint his whole board with black gesso. We then applied a dark blue colour then put in our light source with white on top of the blue. The light showed up a lot lighter on mine than Pete’s as it was lighter there before I applied the blue. We kept the tree foliage to a minimum to enable the light to show through. I’m happy to say someone fell in love with mine and bought it. Pete’s is equally as good in fact I liked his tree foliage better than mine, which happens. 


Part 1 

We've had a lovely Christmas with my brother to help us celebrate although quietly chilling as we call it. Now it’s back to paint along with Pete. We decided to start the New Year at a steady pace with roses. I have painted them before but they took me a few sessions to complete. I might add that they turned our really well and sold those I did complete. I've been looking at lots of u tube videos to see how other people paint their roses. Some were very simple and basic, some more elaborate, with oils, acrylics and other mediums no drawings just painting them on.

Well it all looked easy enough with just a bit of practice we'll be fine. 

Firstly we used some grease proof paper to practice some of the strokes I’d seen on the videos. I like my flowers to look realistic and after picking up a few different ideas on shapes and colours we made a start using black gesso to prime the canvas and make the roses stand out as i'd seen demonstrated on one of the videos. We messed about trying to paint roses, mine red and Pete used yellow. For some reason the paint wasn't doing what we expected and not applying to the canvas. By this time it was our lunch break. We wiped the boards back to the black and left them to dry off till we came back.

OK plan B after lunch:
We’ll leave the roses for now and use the boards for a night scene. Good Plan?  We used dark purple to cover our boards then used white part way down to give us a lighter area for our horizon to show up. Using all the dark colours we already had on our pallet from this morning, we put in some trees on the horizon and used up what was left on the foreground. White finished off the water, highlight on our foreground tree, moon, stars and a shooting star for a bit of fun. All was not lost as we had a simple but effective completed painting and a couple of happy painters.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Pete and I decided we both need more practice with trees. As we weren't happy with our fir trees in the previous painting this time we’d have a go at deciduous trees. I used black and white gesso on my canvas board and created a forest with bushes and a path to show Pete how you can plan a painting before hand and still use oil on top to complete the painting. Next time I’ll take a photo to show you but I didn't know then I was going to start a blog.

We had a really good day and extremely happy with our finished work. There is room for improvement for both of us but it was a start. As I’d already painted on my board I got Pete to paint his whole board with black gesso. We then applied a dark blue colour then put in our light source with white on top of the blue. The light showed up a lot lighter on mine than Pete’s as it was lighter there before I applied the blue. We kept the tree foliage to a minimum to enable the light to show through. Pete’s is equally as good in fact I liked his tree foliage better than mine, which happens. I'm happy to say someone fell in love with mine and bought it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


On my own today. I couldn't decide what to do. As I swung back and forth in my chair thinking, I glanced at my PC screen which showed a photo that  I admired and put on my desktop a couple of weeks ago that I thought I’d like to paint. A sunset seascape with some lovely colours in the mackerel sky and cliff tops.

I used a canvas frame this time. Mainly because I have used this make before and knew it would do what I wanted it to do. Some boards and canvas’s sometimes do what I call play up even though they say they've been primed and I find I have to redo them before I start painting. You might ask how do I know they are not going to do the job. I don’t, the only way is to try it. If you buy more than one of the same make that does this then you know before you paint on one next time, prime it yourself before you start. You can use any acrylic to cover it. Oil will adhere to most acrylics but not the reverse. It depends on what I have decided to do what colour I use.

I had problems trying to create the mackerel sky, so I reverted to my own way of creating clouds but still brought them in towards the sunlight.  My sun glow turned out bigger than I would have wished but decided to leave it and go with the flow. I never try to copy a photograph because I know I can’t but use idea and see what happens. I leave some things out and add things as the idea comes into my head depending on how the painting is turning out. I just see something there and add.

I’m very happy with the end result. 

Monday, January 14, 2013


Another job for later.

Here we are again week 2 with Pete painting along. Having had such a great response from my Facebook friends and selling my last painting I was eager to get started.

Pete decided he’d like to paint something with a mountain and water so we looked at a couple of pictures Bob Ross has done and chosen the colour from one but the scene idea off another.

Mountains are not one of my strong points and Pete’s not done them at all so we kept it as simple as possible. Perhaps we will progress to more dramatic mountains another time. With me also trying to get back to swing of things I thought snow would be easier.

We used a canvas this time with warming colours as it’s snow too we thought it would add warmth to the picture. Neither of us are happy with our clouds but with oils being such a forgiving medium we can rectify them at a later date. I'm not happy with my trees at the front either and obviously need more practice. Another job for later. We both thought our mountains turned out quite well, hillier which is good and the composition worked quite well. 

My painting so far

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I decided that Wednesdays would be put aside as my art day otherwise other things that take up our everyday lives would take over.

Hubby Alan has a friend Pete who pops round to see him, have a cuppa and put the world to rights like men do. On one of these visits before Christmas Pete noticed a sea scape I had painted a while ago and mentioned that he would love to paint one in oils but had no idea where to start. Having not been able to paint myself over two years after a long illness I elected to show him some of the techniques that I have picked up over the years and elected Wednesdays would be a good day for both of us and would also help me get back into the swing of things, so we started 3wks before Christmas.

We sit side by side, I take Pete through one stage at a time, I do it then he has a go on a board or canvas of his own. Of course we have breaks and lunch and resume in the afternoons with more vigour if things are going well.

Our first session was a great success where we both produced a finished sea scape on canvas board which we were both proud of.  Pete was so excited to take home a finished painting.

This is my finished painting