Friday, 29 November 2013

Artful Readers Club - November Read

Up until last weekend, I hadn't read so much as a bus ticket  this month and thought that I would have to call it a day on this year's challenge.  I find reading a huge effort these days, unless it is a subject that really takes my interest.
John and I went on a pre-anniversary mini-break to Ballater in the Scottish Highlands for two nights.  It is about 90 minutes drive from where we live and is right on the doorstep of the Cairngorm mountains.  As usual, I had a poke around the second-hand shops that abound in these touristy places and found Shakespeare Cats by Susan Herbert.

  It is a beautifully illustrated book, of 32 colour plates of  feline paintings depicting famous scenes from a variety of Shakespeare's plays.  I love this type of illustration and was highly delighted that she had also included a pen and ink drawing of some of the minor characters on each double page spread.  As we were in Scotland, I felt it only right and proper that I should attempt a character from "that Scottish play", Macbeth.

Here is my depiction of Macduff.  He, of course,  had to be a ginger tom.  Macduff is the archetype of the avenging hero, not simply out for revenge but with a good and holy purpose.  "I have no words, my voice is my sword".

I sketched him in pencil and then watercoloured him with  Caran d'Ache Neocolours.  I thoroughly enjoyed making this month's painting and know I will re-visit the literary cats for more drawing practice.  The lovely Darcy's Artful Readers Club has certainly got a lot to answer for!

Thank you for stopping by and do feel free to leave a comment, I appreciate them all very much.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

October Journal Page

I am very lucky.  We live in a very beautiful part of the country (Scotland)  and each month I have tried to depict the changes I have seen in the fields and woods surrounding our house.  The idea is to make a memory book of the changing seasons.  The month of October is a big card in the annual change.  We see the foliage on the native broad-leaf woodland change colour and, in some cases disappear altogether, and due to the reducing canopy, we  notice the abundance of roe deer in the wood - all preparing for the annual rut.  Fungi has been very common this year due to the damp, warm autumn.

This is an A4 spread on two A5 pages, hence the centre fold.  I have used stamps from Impression Obsession and Chocolate Baroque (trees), Stampin' USA (leaves), Lavinia Stamps (shrubs), roe deer (Penny Black), fungi (Chocolate Baroque).  I have used various Distress Inks and dye based inks from Stampin' Up.

I should like to enter this layout in the Craft a Scene challenge "Trees".  Thank you for visiting my blog and for your encouraging comments.  I do appreciate them all.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Artful Readers Club - October Read

I have again strayed from the list I nominated at the beginning of the year.  This month I have chosen a short story (160 pages) "The Clothes They Stood Up In" by Alan Bennett.

This story was first heard when Alan Bennett read it on BBC Radio 4 at Christmas 1997.  It was so popular that it was published almost straight away and was a runaway success.

We meet Maurice and Rosemary Ransome, a childless couple who have been married for almost thirty years.  He is a solicitor, she a housewife and they live in an Edwardian mansion block of apartments in a good part of North London.  They are both Mozart lovers (in fact it is only the mutual appreciation of Mozart that has kept them together) and they have just returned home from a performance of Cose Fan Tutte at Covent Garden.  When they let themselves into their flat, they notice immediately that every piece of what they considered home has vanished - even down to the toilet roll.  "We've been robbed" says Mrs Ransome.  "No, we have been burgled" says her husband, correcting her.  He was ever the stickler for the correct terminology.

My sketch is of Mr. Mrs. Ransome sitting on the floor of their flat, looking rather bemused, in their opera clothes and wondering where all their stuff has gone to.  It is coloured with pencils.

Bennett's narrative sharply observes the relationship between the snobbish and narrow-minded husband, Maurice and that of his down trodden wife Rosemary and how she quietly blossoms after the liberating affect of the burglary.  Things would never be the same again.

Thank you for visiting and I do hope you will have a look at the other reviews and artwork over at the Artful Readers Club on Darcy's Art and Sole Blog.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Artful Readers Club - September Read

This month's book is a departure from my original list and what a good decision!  I thoroughly enjoyed Enigma by Robert Harris, so much so, I couldn't put it down and read it in two days - a record for me.  You may have seen the excellent  film Enigma starring Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows and Kate Winslet and this is the book the film was based on.  As always, the book is better than the movie version which I also found exciting and very entertaining.

Enigma is the name of the German code machine used by all Nazi military during World War II.  The fact based story is about the mathematicians and scientists employed at Bletchley Park Intelligence Gathering and Decoding Centre. Their  battle  was to break into the German Navy's  Enigma code 'Shark' before the submarine wolf-packs could sink the convoys of supply ships making their slow and ponderous way across the North Atlantic  to the UK from America.  A nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat read wonderfully wrapped up in intrigue and betrayal.  Thoroughly recommended!

Here is my pastel drawing of a cargo ship on the North Atlantic at night in 1942 having been spotted by a German U-boat.  The 4 character codes were transmitted to other U-boats and they took up positions in line, as much as 20 miles apart, and then set about blowing the convoys out of the water with great success and huge loss of life.

Thank you for stopping by and do feel free to leave a comment, all are much appreciated.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Get Real Challenge #17 - Bold

This is the first time I have ever entered a digital scrapbooking challenge.  I loved the inspirational freebie mini kit by CBD  that went with this challenge and thought I should have a go!  The challenge over at Real Life Scrapped is open until the 10th September.  I have only used  items in the mini kit apart from a CBD Journal Junk Border.

Thank you for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment, I appreciate them all.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


My blogging friend Faye asked me to paint a face of Inspector Rebus - the main character of the book review I did in my last blog post.  Here he is

He has a well lived- in face, lopsided, big nose and puffy from all the late nights and  booze.  His hair needs cutting and combing, he probably needs a shave and he can see right through all those lies he is told.  He doesn't smile much either.  A typical old-school detective!
I have used watercolours with a water brush.  I have only recently started to try to paint and would love to take part in the 29 Faces challenge  as it is for people of all abilities, but I will be away from home  for a good part of this month.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Artful Readers Club - August Read

This month's book is the last in the Inspector Rebus series, Exit Music by Ian Rankin.

It is late autumn in Edinburgh and the final days of police service for Inspector Rebus.  Nothing to look forward to and many loose ends to tie up before he retires, Rebus and his sergeant Siobhan attempt to solve the murder of a dissident Russian poet.

I am delighted to tell you that Inspector John Rebus is not killed off but the prospect of his retirement is not a happy one.  The man is a very flawed character, so wonderfully depicted by Ian Rankin throughout the series - each book lets you in to another secret about his life - and he faces a lonely retirement.  As usual, the story is a cracking yarn that fairly speeds along recounting the events of one week in the investigation.

My artwork is an attempt at a  watercolour evoked by the description of Rebus returning at night to his flat.

"Rebus had driven through the silent pre-dawn streets to Marchmont, an eventual parking space, and his second-floor tenement flat.  The living room had a bay window, and that was where his chair was.  He was promising himself  he'd make it as far as the bedroom, but there was a spare duvet behind the sofa just in case.  He had a bottle of whisky, too - eighteen- year- old Highland Park, bought the previous weekend with a couple of good hits left in it.  Ciggies and booze and a little night music.  At one time they would have provided enough consolation, but he wondered if they would sustain him once the job was behind him.  What else did he have?"

A jolly good read.

Thank you for stopping by and do feel free to leave a comment - I appreciate them all.

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