Saturday, 27 August 2011

Saturday selection.

Today's blog post is a simple promotion of a piece of art that I really like the look of.  Created by Van Renselar, this is a one-off canvas print. You can view it on the Rogue Gene Gallery by clicking on this link, but here's what it looks like if you just want a quick view:

Blue Shoes by Van Renselar

Sunday, 21 August 2011

My garden in August....

As we don't have a very big garden and neither of us are particularly green-fingered, we (that is, I) tend to just have displays of container plants each year, which I love doing at the beginning of the season. Each year I usually take some photos of the plants to remember them in the winter months and possibly as future subjects for my artwork. However, I've not yet used or shown any of the previous years' photos so thought I'd better display this year's before I forget again. I love bright reds, oranges, purples, pinks and blues so tend to try and stick to those as much as possible. My favourite flowers this year are new to me - a lovely trailing version of the Thunbergia, Orange Beauty variety. I just love the dramatic flower heads against the trailing green leaves.

I'm afraid if you don't like looking at flowers, leaves, hover flies and buds then please stop reading now, as there follows a fair amount of the above in the series of photographs I am about to upload! Nature never ceases to please, especially this time of year, I think, and it is always beautiful.

The gorgeous head of the Thunbergia (Orange Beauty)

 Marigold - one of the many plants I got given this year by a friend
Thunbergia plant in the container on our back wall.

A gorgeous double-headed petunia, also a donated plant.

A lone viola head - these little gems appear each year in one of the containers!

This marigold bud looks like a small creature, ready to uncurl and pounce!

I love the detail on this clump of geranium buds - so hairy!

These geranium buds are a little bit further on than the previous set.
Although leaves may not be as pretty as flowers, I still love looking at them - these are begonia leaves

Variegated geranium leaves - free (flowers included) from my friend.

Marigold leaves.

The succulent leaves of the Portulaca plant, which also bears some dainty flowers.
Having shown you all the photos I took of the flowers, buds and leaves this year, I thought I'd also share the images of the hover flies which are abundantly present in our garden. They are very pretty to look at up close, but I don't particularly like them buzzing around near me!

Just look at the symmetry!

Add caption

Settled on the lobelia.

It's almost as though I arranged for this one to sit like that!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sketch-book images

I don't often share my sketch-book work online or with anyone, actually - mainly because I don't do as much work in my sketchbook as I'd like to, but also because I'm not sure of the interest it would really create with any of my blog readers. However, having seen my fellow RGC artist and blogger, Andrea Farmer's sketchbook blog posts, and finding them a great inspiration I decided to show one or two of the sketches I did when in Nottinghamshire a few weeks ago.

I always take a small spiral bound sketchbook away with me along with a set of Derwent Inktense pencils - and my usual set of sketching pencils. I don't, however, often find the time to just sit and sketch - not being the sort of artist who can do decent quick sketches, I tend to need a long time of uninterrupted peace in order to create anything worth sharing. Even then, the end results of my sketches are not as interesting as I'd like them to be - but then I suppose they are just sketches and not a finished piece of art. I would have liked to spend longer trying to sketch the whole of the landscape around Thoresby Hall - but my small sketchbook was not ideal for that purpose and I just picked out one or two areas that appealed to me. I hope you like seeing something a little bit different to my usual creations.

I did this one first of all, sitting on the wide window-cill of our bedroom in the hotel, looking down towards what was once the main entrance to Thoresby Hall.

This view was a favourite spot of mine, sitting in one of the gazebos not far from the hall itself. I loved the texture of the bricks in the gazebo, and the view through them all around of the garden and surrounding landscape.

Perhaps a still-life is not a typical subject for a holiday sketch - but I just thought this arrangement of apples and oranges was so pretty I wanted to capture it in coloured pencil rather than just take a photo of it. I love these white rectangular plates that are popular in restaurants too and think it really sets off the fruit beautifully. The fruit was rather tasty, too!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Latest painting

Finished a while ago, but only just uploaded online, this small ink and acrylic abstract painting is available to buy from my website at

Named "Undersea Adventure", it was inspired by an improvised group mime done by members of the Youth Section of B.A.D.S. several years ago at a festival. The title of the mime was "Undersea Adventure" and I will never forget it.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Summer Production - some pics!

OK, so this is slightly later than anticipated, but here are a few photographs that I took of some of the children involved in the Summer Production at B.A.D.S. last month. I have also included a photo of the ark we made for the Noah play, along with the rainbow that appeared at the end of the play and the tree stump that Noah sat on.

All the plays that were performed on the two nights were so well done by all the children and we were really proud of them all. Each time we start rehearsing for a junior or youth section play, we wonder how on earth it will ever be ready to show to their parents, but somehow it always seems to happen. Children who we thought weren't listening to us at the last rehearsals before the night suddenly do everything you asked and more besides - the younger members perhaps impressed us more this year than ever before, simply because there were no prompts required from any of them, which is quite an achievement for them. We did tell them that one of our aims at Bilton is to never have a prompt, but fully expected to give one or two out on the night due to nerves or lack of concentration. However, it would appear that we are actually having some influence on them, which is so rewarding and fuels our passion for passing on our skills even more. I think one of the best things about watching the children (whatever their age) perform is to see the joy on their faces at the end of the night, when everything has worked and they receive the applause they rightfully deserve.Considering the fact that we were several animals short with only a couple of weeks to spare, we are immensely grateful to Mr Jowett from Preston Primary School, since he helped us fill those places by sending along some keen members of his drama club - they all performed really well and we look forward to their return in September.

Mrs Noah with the girls in the family

The three "boys" (even though one of them is a girl in real life!) of Noah's family.

Noah, Mrs Noah, Rebecca, Japheth, Shem, Ruth, Rachel & Ham.
The animals as they walked to their entrance with me.
Waiting to make their entrance via the auditorium!

This animal also made a convincing God - see next pic!

God - complete with obligatory white beard!
The final scene when the rainbow appears as if by magic!
Youth members backstage waiting for their turn in "Panto Question Time"
"A trio of lovely girls" from the Youth Section - backstage ready for "Emporium 2".
Unfortunately, these are the only photos we managed to take - we didn't have time to take any during the performances as we were both tied up backstage.

The first night was a huge success. We invited some of our patrons to support the younger members and was happy to see that a fair few of them came along. To the delight of the audience (with the exception of one or two of the junior members who happened to be sitting on the front row at the time) a chair that is pushed to the floor during the course of the action in "Last Tango in Little Grimley" ended up rolling off the stage and onto the auditorium. This rendered the remaining cast speechless, the audience were screaming with laughter and the cast members were trying desperately to finish the scene without laughing.There then followed a moment of absolute farce when one cast member (during the scene change which was done in blackout) retrieved the chair from the audience, and another cast member came on looking for it without realising that it had been taken into the wings! Thankfully, nobody was hurt and the 4-strong team continued to the end of the play without losing control of their emotions. Credit to them all - it was a difficult play and they certainly did it justice.

I am pleased to report that our N.O.D.A (National Operatic & Dramatic Association) representative managed to watch the plays on the second evening and I spoke to him at the end of the night. He was impressed with them all, even if he wasn't too keen on one of the Youth Section plays (he's at least honest, which I like) and he seemed most impressed with the junior section's production of Noah.

Our next task is to source material for the Hornsea Speech & Drama Festival -this takes place in November each year and all our members take part in various classes to try and win trophies, but mainly for the experience of being adjudicated by a professional drama practitioner. We start rehearsing for this as soon as we meet again in September, so not much time now for us to get enough material prepared - we haven't yet received the syllabus either!!!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Two items in ETSY Treasury!

I was thrilled to receive notification that two of my items are featured in this Treasury entitled "Red for...East Yorkshire Etsians" recently. Created to celebrate Yorkshire Day at the beginning of this month, I am pleased to have my red "Holm" notebook and my mini painting "Textured Heart" featured in this delightful collection, as you can see below.

 You can view the Treasury, created by cardsbyjane, by clicking on the link here.  As I have not been featured in many treasuries, it's always a lovely surprise when I discover that someone has included one of my pieces in theirs!

You can view my Etsy shop any time by visiting Arty Aitch.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Thoresby Hall taster....

We have just returned from a very relaxing week's break at the Thoresby Hall Hotel,Thoresby Park, Ollerton, Nottinghamshire. The whole week was so peaceful and we felt as though we had our own enormous back garden in which to walk. I even did some sketching whilst there, something I normally forget to do on holiday. We were exploring the massive grounds on our first full day there (Tuesday 26th July) when we discovered the "Courtyard" - a lovely circular arrangement of building, in the centre of which was the courtyard and there, in all their finery was a military brass band - plus a hoard of people dressed up in their "Sunday Best". Eventually, we discovered that a new military museum was to be officially opened by Princess Alexandra, so all the usual Royal procedures had obviously been employed - security staff located in the vicinity, etc.
Keith got a good shot of Princess Alexandra from where we were standing.
One of the tunes was an "Abba" medley!
The best thing about this holiday was that we were both so relaxed, we did nothing but go for strolls in the grounds, read our books and visit Sherwood Forest to see the Great Oak of Robin Hood fame. The surrounding parkland of Thoresby Hall covers approximately 50 acres of land - with a variety of different areas to wander along, including shaded woodland walks, hidden rose garden, River Meden, a cricket ground, tree-lined roads and avenues, not to mention a church & tennis court, which were both 3/4 of a mile from the hotel itself.

The two photos above are both taken from our bedroom window, which was situated on the side of the hall that used to be the main entrance. I drew a sketch of this view one day - sitting on the window-cill in our bedroom -focusing on the two beech trees (I think!) framing the gates. We also particularly liked the Cedar trees which can be seen in the first photo - they look so old and gnarled, which really adds to their beauty.
View from the gates towards the front of the Hall. Our bedroom was on the top floor.

The fountain in the gardens to the side of the Hall.

Keith sitting in the gazebo closest to the woodland walks.

I took up a position at the other gazebo, from which you could gaze at either the hall itself or the magnificent surrounding landscape.
Aside from the fact that the Hall itself was a wonderful display of architecture, there were gargoyles, ornaments, statues and features throughout the gardens that I loved looking at and taking photos of.

The Japanese urn here was probably as tall as me, since I am wearing heels in this photo!
As our bedroom was on the top floor, we made every effort to use the four flights of stairs both ways whenever possible. I also loved the artefacts, ornaments, tapestries and wooden carvings that were on display throughout the historic part of the Hall. Additional building has been added onto the original hall in order to create a new reception area, more rooms and a late lounge/theatre.

Regularly to be seen around the entrance to the hotel and in the grounds were several peacocks and peahens. The cocks seemed to roam about majestically together, as did the peahens - who also had chicks with them. Here are a couple of shots of the cocks which show their stunning beauty. They really do seem to proudly display their colours, whether showing their feathers or just strolling along!

We did lots of walking on this holiday and enjoyed a "Great Oak" walk in Sherwood Forest, some of these photos were taken on that walk - which leads you to the legendary Great oak Tree where Robin Hood supposedly met his merry men regularly. I will try to find a decent photo of that for a future post, but it was shored up with scaffolding and doesn't lend itself to being photographed very well.

I really loved the textures and patterns in this ancient tree stump.

Even when walking the woodland paths on the surrounding parkland of the estate, you got the feeling you were miles from anywhere, and the fields seemed to go on for miles. I particularly liked this view and the light shining through the leaves of the crops.

Taken on our last night at the hotel, this is one of my favourite shots - it looks like a magical old building with the lights burning from inside.

This is just a taster of the holiday - there were other things that I want to share, too,  but as I have other things to talk about as well, I thought I'd split the holiday post and give you variety in your reading (if indeed you are still reading this by now!).