Tuesday 20 December 2011

'Tis the season .....

"I wonder why I'm stood standing here when I should be dangling from a tree by now ..?"

"Good Grief, now she's made me pose with some baubles just to show everyone how small I am ~ how humiliating!"

"You've got problems, she makes me sit right at the top of the tree just because I've got a halo and a silly gold-beaded dress.  People keep telling her I don't look like a proper fairy but she drags me out every year and perches me up there.  It's really uncomfortable actually."

"Personally, I think she's flipped ... Christmas does that to humans, it's really sad.  And, of course, she has messed up on a couple of drawings lately ... that wouldn't help either, would it?  Anyway, while she's faffing around with the rest of those gaudy baubles, shall we go down the pub?"

"Yea, good idea, that'll teach her!  Maybe we should wish that person who reads her blog a Merry Christmas before we go."

"What do you mean "that person"?  There might be more than one.  Unlikely, I know, but some people like to read stuff like this."

"Really?? ... hehe, they must be as crazy as she is then!"

Thursday 8 December 2011

Flat tyre in London and ... not sure about the Cyclamen!

As I was saying on Saturday, driving in London is not for the faint-hearted!  Three hapless females from the Home Counties in a little Fiat 500 crawling down the Euston Road and heading for the Foundling Museum in Hunter Street, Bloomsbury.  Karen, my sister, was driving and yes, we had the sat nav on but the woman's dulcet tones were directing us to keep turning right when Karen's instincts were telling her we needed to head left.  We duly obeyed the 'voice of wisdom' (sat nav) until, after circling that area three times and ending up on the same congested road, we decided she was just having a laugh and switched her off!

The air in the car started to turn blue with phrases such as "I don't recognise this &**$%^** ing road at all!" and "why do all these **$%^£** ing tourist buses want to come down this road?!"  But ranting is futile in these situations and we ended up laughing about it.  On the third circular detour Karen pointed towards the left, in a eureka moment, and yelled "that's the road we need over there!"  As I was sitting in the front passenger seat, I turned, smiled and waved sweetly at the driver of the black cab to my left (like he had any choice but to give way!) whilst Karen quickly pulled across two lanes, shot round a corner, 'Italian Job' style, and drove triumphantly into Hunter Street.  This is probably the 'bread and butter' experience of all seasoned London road users, I know ~ you have to be forthright and fearless!  But we are greenhorns from 'out of town', what do we know!

We pulled up outside the Museum and were pleased to find a free parking space there ~ imagine that?  Unfortunately, though, Karen had flattened the front left tyre having clipped the kerb rather sharply.  The air turned blue again for a while after which we decided there was no way we were going to conform to that 'helpless females can't change a tyre' stereotype.  After all, we had a full tyre changing kit in the car boot complete with an idiot's guide.  How difficult could it be? 

It would have been a doddle but for two things.  It transpired that 1) none of us had the physical strength to shift those long bolts on the wheel, even with the wrench provided.  And 2) the triangular mark on the car body, indicating where the jack should be placed, was just not visible to the naked eye.  One of us would have to lie flat on the ground to get closer to where it was supposed to be.  Well, mum wasn't keen ... she's 77 years old and has arthritic knees.  It was down to one of her daughters.  Karen and I looked at each other ... no chance!

Hmmm ... you guessed it!  We had to stoop to calling over an unsuspecting, strapping young man to help us out.  Weren't we grateful when a cheerful chappie, who happened to work at the museum, promptly came across and fitted the new temporary wheel.  Bless him!  He would not take any money for his trouble even though we insisted, but we did explain all to the Museum staff when we finally got inside. 

The return journey on that new tyre was a little hairy ... ever tried driving up the MI, when it's clear, at 50 mph (max allowed on a temporary tyre)?  Other drivers just don't get why you're driving so slowly!  We got home safely though, and Karen sent our knight in shining armour a thank you card and box of Cadbury's Heroes ~ very appropriate!

Shame I didn't take pics of our little escapade but here's a photo of mum and Karen standing by a statue of Thomas Coram, founder of the Foundling Museum ~ another hero!



Enough of my ramblings ... what about my art?  I started a drawing of Cyclamen, a crop from some photos I took of these flowers.

9" x 12"  Various coloured pencils on Sennelier La Carte Pastel card.

I wanted to attempt this on 'Leaf Green Dark' Colourfix paper but my supply of that colour has run out so I thought I'd try it on La Carte, a good quality sanded paper.  It's not as rough as Colourfix but I just can't seem to get the results I want on it.  I've stopped and started so many times, trying different colour combinations, different pencils, but this drawing is not flowing well at all.  I don't usually have this problem and I'm not sure what is happening. 

The reference photos I'm using are not great but I usually get around that by being 'creative', using my own instincts.  I have the plant itself in front of me, too, for reference.  These colours are not working well together, to my mind.  Maybe it's because this is a cool colour scheme and I much prefer warmer colours.  I'm not quite at the 'giving in' stage with it yet .....  but almost .....  we'll see.   

Saturday 3 December 2011

Trip to the Foundling Museum, London

I LOVE London.  Every so often my sister, mum and I take a trip down to London, some 30 miles away, to trek around old haunts, especially the City where we used to live many moons ago.  We decided this time to go to the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury and Karen, my sister, volunteered to drive as we didn't want to spend a small fortune going by train.  Karen is also fearless and pretty familiar with the area ~ you have to be both those things to contemplate driving in London.  Personally, I'd choose to use the tube and buses every time.

The Foundling Museum was built near the site of the old Foundling Hospital, a charity founded by Thomas Coram in 1741 to provide a home for abandoned and/or destitute children.  The Museum is utterly fascinating, tracing the history of the Hospital with paintings, audio recordings and artifacts.  Particularly poignant was the display of small tokens, a lock of hair, a tiny bracelet, a coin, for example, which were left by mothers who had to take their children there, due to their own desperate circumstances.  The tokens could identify the child should the mother become able to return to collect him/her in better times. 

I loved this museum because it combined my interests in both social history and art. The original 18th Century interiors house works of art by some well-known British artists such as William Hogarth (a founding governor of the Hospital), Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds. Paintings and sculptures were donated to the Hospital, often by the artists themselves, to support Britain's first home for abandoned children.

"The Pinch of Poverty" by Thomas Benjamin Kennington, 1891.  This particular painting caught my eye as I was going up the grand staircase to the next floor.  It tells a story, rather sad but very 'real' none-the-less ... and is more arresting than commissioned portraits of well-heeled patrons, I think.

 Anyway, we had a great day out despite the mishap that happened when we arrived at the museum.  I'll talk about the flat tyre debacle in the next post.  I'm also starting a new drawing of winter cyclamen from my own photo (wahaaay!).  To be continued .....

Friday 2 December 2011

Pretty Flamingo Finished

Well, I've cut to the chase on this one and finished it.  I got too engrossed to stop and upload the interim stages!  I spent rather longer on the background than I normally do, fussing about with the water.  I took a few liberties with the water which I think is ok ~ not much point in slavishly copying the photo since the camera distorts the colours and tones in the actual scene anyway.  I did try and represent the bird accurately though, those feathers were a challenge. Not sure if I'll be doing another bird for a while ... but it's good practice!


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