My Favourite Brushes

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Like many artists, I am always searching for the perfect paint brush. Having bought many inexpensive brushes in the past which have lasted no time at all it really has been a false economy. (I am pretty hard on my paintbrushes as tend to use a ‘scrubbing’ motion a lot when I am working with acrylics for the under layers of the painting.)

Recently I have been using Windsor and Newton’s Artists Acrylic brushes and so far they are lasting well. They are exactly the right softness for me (not too hard with a lot of spring), the handles are weighted beautifully (something I did not really consider important until I bought these) and I do like buying British whenever I can. I do tend to buy synthetic brushes (although I have some hog brushes for oils) as I would not like to think any animals are harmed in the making of the tools I use (I actually have no idea how the hair for paintbrushes is collected) so to be on the safe side I stick with what I know.

I have also been wanting to try the brushes from Rosemary & Co having seen them at various art fairs and noticing many artists recommending them. I am hoping to be able to have a bit of a splurge on brushes in the New Year and I think this company will be my first port of call.

Do you have any favourite brushes that you use for painting?

x x x

New…new…new

New easel (thanks to some birthday money) …tis now in my studio!

 New brushes, and a couple of tubes of paint too…

New painting – just finished today and as yet untitled. I seem to have alot going on at the moment with 2 upcoming exhibitions, an upcoming craft fair, 2 painting commissions and work to complete for a gallery and a new shop and sometimes it is hard to know what to tackle first. All of this is happening in the next month and I am just trying to relax and work on what feels good on any given day.

Thank-you so much for your opinions on the studio photo’s! I have decided on the colour one, although it was close. As it is for an online venture though, I felt it had more impact. I was hoping to reveal what it is all for today but as I still have some tweeking to do it will later on Monday once everything is in place.

Hoping you are having a good week

xxx

Warhorse….

One of the main reason’s for our trip to London last weekend was to go and see Warhorse at the New London Theatre and really it was the highlight of our trip, for both of us. I have had the book by Michael Morpurgo for a wee while, but as the only occassions I seem to have time to read at the moment is in the doctors surgery waiting room, I still have not finished it as I keep having to pause to stop myself from crying… it is an incredibly heart-wrenching story. However I had seen the documentary on the Making of Warhorse and just knew it was something I would love to see…

I had fully intended on really trying to describe this wonderful stage play and my response to it but in truth I don’t think it is possible to put into words how incredible it was. Set in the First World War and focussing on the story of a farm-lad and his horse, it really is an  unforgettable story.

The horses are life size puppets, each requiring 2 or three people to work the mechanics of the animal. The most incredible thing is that after a short time, even although you know the actors are there, you forget that they are working the puppets and instead begin to believe that it is a living, breathing horse with a distinct character. I think I must have looked like a child with that expression of wonder and awe on my face throughout the performance, so breathtaking and heartwrenching.

I don’t know if the show is touring atall but if you are not able to see it you can get a wee taste of the show here on the website – I know there is an up-and-coming film directed by Stephen Speilberg, but really it is the puppets that are the stars of the stage show. Although for some reason calling them ‘puppets’ really doesn’t come close to describing the wonder of them. The music too has stayed with me I have been constantly humming singing the bits that I remember of the folk tunes from the play.  I have ordered the soundtrack with some birthday money so I know that it is going to be played frequently on my studio days – as I get older, my love of folk music grows and it suits the mood and atmosphere of my studio when I am working.

 It is an occassion that I will always remember and there is a very special reason that I was able to go which I would like to tell you about, but for now I have an appointment and then my studio is calling, so I shall leave that for tomorrow….

Thank you for reading and sharing this with me..I truly hope it is something you have the opportunity to see!

xxx

The Big City………

 

So highlights of London were …..

… walking along the embankment with the sight of the incredible architecture of the houses of parliament – a stunning view even after seeing it many times …

…. we missed the Trooping the Colour but saw some of the spectacular fly-past of the Royal Air Force overhead and in a clear blue sky…

………a bit of window shopping on Regent Street, popping into Anthropologie (nil purchases) and the amazing and huge National Geographic shop (a wee treat in the form of a years subscription to the publication which I have coveted for years!)…..

…delighted to find wildlife even in the heart of London via a walk through St James Park where we saw black swan’s, a beautiful, majestic heron and the most precocious squirrels you are ever likely to meet…..

….discovering my dream house and garden, again right in the heart of London – ‘A cottage for a birdkeeper’ – like something from a fairy tale (images of this are sure to appear in my artwork in the near future)…

…. looking around, looking up, gasping at the wonderful and historical architecture that fills Londons street..you can only wonder at how many hands and years it took to build such delicate details that reach for the sky…..

… and so to the theatre in the evening to see Warhorse (more about this tomorrow)…

…. a more tired version of ourselves from all the walking the previous day, on Sunday we tucked into a hearty breakfast before taking the bus through London’s rainy street’s to visit one of my favourite places in London with all it’s memories of childhood days out with my dad… The Natural History Museum with wonders of the feather, scaley and furry kind, its’s tales of earth and ocean’s and planets, far too much to see in a day although we did try….

…. and so home again. Tired and happy to have spent a lovely weekend together as fleeting as it was….there is just too much to see!..

So till tomorrow

xxx

This wonderful web….

Today has been a little strange – time running away from me and  plans going awry. I was due to be meeting a friend for coffee and delivering work to the design circus shop across town later this afternoon but that all had to change when I found that I could not get out of our carpark to the rear of our house as the electric gate was stuck!  It was too late to get the tram and bus it would have taken me to get across town so I went for a walk instead – much better for me I am sure.

I am currently following a beginners walking programme as unfortunately one of the side effects of the medication I am on is weight gain and already a very curvy girl it is now time for me to tackle this head on and do something about it! I used to do alot of walking and it really is my favourite form of exercise so I am hoping for good progress.

Recently I have mentioned a few times the various elements I love about my job and it has been good for me to take the extra time to take note and appreciate all that makes me content. Working from home, being my own boss, creating every day that I can, all combine  to make me happy and settled. Another element in this mix is meeting people who understand my work whether I meet them face to face or online.

 I do not see myself as having a talent with words and often find it difficult to put my inspiration into one or two sentences so it is always fascinating to read another persons interpretation. I have very recently met Claire through etsy and blogging and she recently bought the piece above and has very generously blogged about it here.

Tomorrow, weather and car-park-gate permitting I shall be meeting a friend at this local historical place for a few hours of chatting and sketching. It has been far too long since I have sketched outside so I am looking forward to it!

Happiness is……..

There are many small joys along the way in creating artwork…various points where it is impossible not to smile at being able to do this for a living. The pinnacle of course is seeing a happy customer walking away delighted with a piece of artwork that they have purchased and the knowledge that they ‘get’ what you are doing – that they see something in your work that resonates with them. One little step before that though is seeing your work beautifully framed and on a wall – your own – even if it is only for a short while.

I am gradually getting work framed in preparation for an Art Market that I am attending in June, although each piece is available in my shop till then. I am lucky enough  be able to take my work to a wonderful frame company and it is always fun to get all the samples and try them out next to my work to see what works best. I think we hit the nail on the head with these original pencil drawings – the warm silver of the frame and the ivory mount just brings out the tones of the pencil and the buttery paper just beautifully.

These pencil drawings are still available unframed but now all come with an ivory mount and I have also decided to add the option of this frame to each listing in my etsy shop (UK customers only I am afraid). I will be adding the option to the listings in my shop today. This decision was also made based on an online conversation I had with a customer about how sad it was that many high street frame shops were closing and that it was often difficult to get quality frames anywhere else. I also want to check out the possibility of adding an optional frame to my print listings but need to check out how much that would cost to mail so hope to do that soon.

This will be the first time that I have really prepared professionally framed artwork for an event such as this (finances and transportability have made me think twice in the past) but as I move forward in developing my work, I am also keen to develop the presentation of it too. When I see these framed up, I know it is the right way to go.

Happiness is also new tools to play with! My husband bought these for me – how considerate of him! Let’s just gloss over the ulterior motive that was born from the fustration of his wife constantly nicking his screwdriver set for various ‘work related tasks’ and then misplacing it in her studio. Now I have my very own set to bury under a pile of ‘work’!

Anyway it is glorious weather out there today and I am hoping it lasts the weekend as I plan to do a bit of gardening and a bit of car-booting!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend. x

Mosaic Monday March 7th 2011

Mosaic Monday March 7th 2011, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Another new week and as ever – lots to do. I seem to be trying to work on too many things at once at the moment so the aim for this week is to settle down and work on one thing at a time in order to get something finished!

Another mosaic collection from my flickr favourites – please click through to individual pages to discover more!

Chocolate Drop Cookies

yum!, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Okay so I won’t be giving up the day job to become a food photographer but I just had to share this recipe as they are so good!

These are divine, rich tasting little cakelets – much softer than a cookie and surprisingly healthy (or so the recipe says) with the surprise addition of cannellini beans! Yep…..beans….means fibre. We are trying to shake up our eating habits a little lately as we need to lose more than a few pounds and I have been cooking a lot of meals from both the GI diet book by Rick Gallop and the GI diet by Antony Worrall Thompson and in both, the recipes are delicious and easy to make and certainly don’t make you feel like you are on a ‘diet’.

So these are from the Rick Gallop book and I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe according to the ingredients I had in my store cupboard (which probably doesn’t make them quite as healthy as they should be) and I have put those in brackets. (Next time i will follow the recipe the the letter and see how they turn out)

chocolate Drop Cookies

First off you need to make a bean puree which forms the basis for the recipe. In a food processor puree 250ml (1/2 pint) cooked cannellini beans with 2tbsp wheat bran (I used oat bran) and 60ml (2 fl oz) skimmed milk.This makes enough bean puree for 2 batches of cookies – you can use half for one batch and freeze the rest for up to 2 weeks. ( I didn’t measure the beans before soaking them so ended up with enough bean puree for 5 batches – oops)

So the actual recipe is

90g (3oz) non hydrogenated soft margarine (I used 45g butter and 45g rapeseed oil and they turned out fine)
90g (3oz) wholemeal flour
8 tbsp sugar substitute (I used 3 tbsp fructose sugar)
125ml (4 fl oz) bean puree (see above)
35g (1 1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
60 ml (2 fl oz ) skimmed milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 In a bowl using an electric beater, mix all the ingredients until combined.
2 Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto a greaseproof-paper-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 190 C (gas mark 5) oven for about 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Let cool.

Makes about 24 cookies which can be store in an air tight container for about 3 days at room temperature or in freezer for up to 3 weeks.

So simple and so delicious! I have been having one with my mid morning cup of tea and they do satisfy those cake cravings.

It is so drizzly and grey out there today so I am going to be doing a little bit of sculpting and a little bit of embroidering whilst catching up on recorded TV – I am loving the Sky Atlantic channel with the new programmes, in particular Boardwalk Empire and Treme (love, love, love the soundtrack) – perfect for working away to. The Killing is also a smash hit in this household – brilliant slow-burning plot, fantastic acting. 20 episodes of brilliant drama although not so great to work to with it’s subtitles. So there we go – amateur tv critic as well as amateur food photographer and baker.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend! x

PS I will be messaging everyone who submitted a story for Janek today so if you don’t hear anything from me please let me know!

Ola

Ola, originally uploaded by gilfling.

What a day, what a day! Life does not always go to plan, does it?

Mark had a day off today and we were to be driving up to Stafford to take my work to the Out of this World Exhibition – I got up early to photograph the newest pieces before delivering them which seemed like the sensible thing to do. Unfortunately, me and early mornings do not get on that great at the moment and after a few days of working hard on these last pieces I was feeling more than a little wobbly and Ola suffered the tragic consequences. I clumsily knocked her to the floor, damaging one of her ears. (The photograph was taken moments before the ‘incident’) I shall try repairing her tonight and depending on how that goes she will either be off to the exhibition or shall stay on my bookcase, (I would not be too displeased at that as I do love her, even with a wonky ear)

Due to my tears of tiredness and frustration (I was in a proper state) and the fact that we had to be back for a certain time for a hospital appointment it seemed best to not risk the hour-and-a-half journey each way so I made the decision to mail my work instead – minus Ola.

Unfortunately fatigue and self-employment are not the best combination. I love what I do, I just need to be well enough to get on and do it!

In more exciting news however – I have a featured interview in the latest edition of the online UKhandmade magazine. It is truly inspirational to see what can happen when a group of like-minded individuals get together and create magic – this really is a most wonderful read with plenty of interviews, features, tutorials and articles – please hop on over there with a cup of tea and cake and settle down for a good old read – you won’t be disappointed. (my interview is on page 83 – although I expect it will take you a while to peruse the wonderful articles before you get there!)

Incidentally the Ukhandmade Facebook page is also a treasure trove of info – you can find it here.

Mosaic Monday 14/2/11

How these Mondays come around so quickly – for a girl who is just trying to enjoy pottering along in the moment, it makes me a little sad that time passes so quickly – but I am making an even more concerted effort to enjoy small moments….

Speaking of pottering along – that is what our past weekend was mostly about. We had a lovely weekend at home – hanging washing out on the line for the first time this year; switching the TV and computers off and spending many hours playing board games (Mark almost always wins but in my mind it is spending time together that counts….or so I say when trying to lose graciously). We cooked and enjoyed delicious paella; tidied and attempted a spot of spring cleaning; laughed at the bunnies and their obstinate ways (“that shoe or box shouldn’t be there so I am going to move it to here before I lollop off leaving you perplexed”).

I also worked many more hours on my little characters who are shaping up rather nicely. They are very labour intensive but I think that is the kind of work I like best at the moment – carving and carving ever so slowly until the shapes start to form and a little person emerges. I am working on them for an upcoming exhibition and hope to have at least one finished to show you before the week is out….

Above, again a selection of my favourite images from Flickr, so much variety to choose from. Please click the individual links to discover the artists pages and more work…