Costa Rican Delights

This week I am feeling very privileged, we have just returned from 2 weeks of wildlife-spotting in Costa Rica, a tiny country sadwiched between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America. It is famous for its National Parks, rainforest and wildlife and it did not disappoint! These are just a tiny selection of photos that my talented other half took during the trip.

Let’s start with what CR is most famous for…. the sloths:

And who can resist the monkeys (Spider, Squirrel, Howler and White Faced Capuchin):

The Coati (we mistook these for raccoons the first time we saw them), we mostly saw them running along the ground, long tails held high but this is a rare shot of them in the trees:

The Racoons – this mumma really held her own against a troop of greedy Capuchin monkeys, it was hilarious to see them scatter when she barked at them 🙂

Agouti and White-tailed Deer:

The oh-so-colourful birds….

Toucans:

The Scarlet Macaws:

The comical Kurasow, his “song” sounded more like a 40-a-day smoker getting out of bed and he had a bad case of bed-hair too 🙂 :

The gorgeously cute hummingbirds:

We spent 2 days watching what we thought were “micro-humingbirds”, just 2-3 cm long until I finally managed to capture a very fuzzy photo and we discovered it is a type of moth – a hummingbird hawk-moth no less… Thank you Google for clearing that one up! 🙂

More water fowl and flycatchers than I can name….

The Crocs and Caymans:

Only a shoe remains of this unfortunate tourist 😮

The Iguanas, Lizards and Snakes:

The Frogs:

The Butterflies and Caterpillars:

 

This colourful caterpillar was in our open-air bathroom for 2 days

The Spiders and Insects:

The Bats:

This little one visited us on Christmas eve

And of course, I cannot end this post without including some of the beautiful scenery…

The view from the toilet in one hotel – no room to be shy in front of the monkeys and birds! 🙂
And the view from the bed in the same bungalow

I am itching to use these images to make art but really must finish writing the tutorials for the bag-making class, if I let myself get side-tracked now they will not be ready for the inaugural class in June. My New Year’s resolution is not to look at these photos again until the first drafts of the tutorials are complete. I’m not very good at keeping NY resolutions 😉

Thank you for indulging me in a meander through these photos, I hope you enjoyed looking at them as much as I do and that you have a very happy and creative 2018!

 

Drawing with 5 (6) Tutors

The end of November saw the second module of my FDAD course at West Dean College, this time it was drawing with 5 tutors but being a sucker for punishment I also tagged a FDAD drawing day onto the start. The drawing days are all about exploring creativity and generally seem to involve a large still life and a series of exercises. Our still life was a set of 5 manikins covered in printed and torn /crumpled pieces of paper.

I tried drawing the manikins, really I did! 🙂 But kept being drawn back to a couple of pieces of crumpled up paper with a black and white stripey print. I most liked the collage pieces I made from looking at those:

 

I think some of these have potential for interpretation in felt, I was sorting through my bag of felted off-cuts today and thinking some could be used for this…

Drawing with a different tutor each day turned out to be quite challenging, largely because they all disagreed on the best approach. It felt like we were continually unlearning what we had discovered the previous day! That said, it was great to be exposed to so many differing points of view 🙂

Day 1 of the course was Accuracy and Observation with Andrew Fitchet. Andrew provided some useful techniques for planning out where each element will sit on the page and maintaining scale and proportion but I confess I found his delicate, controlled approach quite hard work, I was quite relieved when we were encouraged to use charcoal instead of pencil:

experimenting with different blending / shading techniques

In the afternoon we decamped to the house to look at perspective (I think Andrew may have wandered into Maxine’s territory here) and then back to the studio for another still life:

 

Day 2 was spent with John T Freeman, for life drawing. While I gathered useful information and tips from all the tutors, I think this was the session that I have used most so far. John taught us his approach to figure drawing, to him drawing should be like writing and his method for drawing figures has really loosened up my approach to life drawing and made it possible to sketch figures very quickly or from imagination, something I really struggled with before.

Initially he had us sketching sportsmen in unusual poses from the sports section of a newspaper:

Then we had a life model to draw from:

Since the day with John I have been sketching dancing figures from imagination:

Day 3 was led by Maxine Relton, she taught scale and perspective, there was quite a lot of theory and not so much drawing on this day:

Day 4 was spent with Veronique Maria, “drawing with the senses” this was a somewhat New-Age blend of mindfulness, drawing and sculpting with your eyes closed,  and drawing to music. While I enjoy drawing to music I’m not sure drawing blindfolded was all that helpful, I’m sure a toddler with a pack of crayons could produce something more interesting to look at. They were such a dreadful mess I’m not going to post them here.

This piece was drawn to music in near darkness and was inspired by a glimpse into a box of squash just before we started:

This is one of the squash I drew for fun in between taught sessions:

This next piece involved drawing an object you could not see but only feel (it was hidden in a bag that you put your hand into), this was interesting and I enjoyed it. The object turned out to be a shell and here it is drawn “blind” from several different angles:

Day 5 was with Freya Pocklington, drawing from imagination, this was the shortest of the days but we packed a lot in, covering some approaches to surrealism and charcoal reduction. One of the first exercises she gave us was to create a drawing in less than 10 min that encompasses the words; storm, room, jealous and dancer. Looking at this now I realise “room” could have been interpreted as space to move.

Charcoal reduction, drawn from a stuffed head in the main house:

Finally, applying some principles of surrealism to objects found in the house:

Scale: Cats teeth witnessed through and open door / Texture: fur on an eyeball

Parts: Piano keys replaced with cat paws / Place: diving bell on a can-can dancer

All in all, a very good but thoroughly exhausting week. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to expand their drawing skills and the good news is you don’t need to be a FDAD student to attend the West Dean short courses.

I probably will not be able to post next week but hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and find some time to be creative in between tending to your families’ needs.

I take my hat off to you Guildford!

Wow, what a week! Last week saw the second module of my FDAD course at West Deam, it was an incredibly intense 6 days, I was a zombie by Wednesday but made it to the end and I am so glad I did, it was well worth it. I will post about that when I feel a bit more recovered!

I got back from West Dean on Friday afternoon and had to pack the car for an Etsy Local fair in Guildford, at the time I was so exhausted I questioned if I would make it through to the end of the fair but the wonderful people of Guildford carried me through with their fantastic sense of fun and laughter 🙂

A slightly smaller space than the last fair but it still attracted plenty of attention.

The people of Guildford really surprised me, I expected to sell a couple of my more conventional styled hats but it was the really quirky ones that everyone wanted to try on and buy!

The horned hat was very popular…

But the prize for the best reaction had to go to this gent’s youngest son, his delighted laughter when his daddy turned around to face him in the hat was the most endearing and honest response I could have wished for, his wonderful reaction had us all laughing along with him 🙂 And that is how the horned hat found its forever home! I hope to see it out and about around Guildford 🙂

Almost as soon as I put the alien hat on display to fill the spot vacated by the horned hat this lovely lady came along and snapped it up!

Well done Guildford, I was pleasantly surprised by your willingness to embrace the unconventional, I will bring more of my wacky hats next year! 🙂

Everybody was in such good spirits, there were a lot of conversations along the lines:

Friend 1: “Ooooh that’s lovely, I really like that”

Friend 2: “Oh no, that wouldn’t suit you at all!” while nudging me or giving hand signals to say, “could you put it aside, I will be back to buy it just as soon as Friend 1 can’t see me getting it for him/her”.

This was a very successful event and one I would gladly take part in again, the only snag is I have sold about 25% of my stock, I need to get making again! 🙂

Lastly (thank you for reading this far), the new dates for the FFS online classes have been posted on the FFS website, and I will be hosting a new class on making seamless felt bags, from small pouches to rucksacks, please check them out and drop me a line if you have any questions.

 

Christmas is a comin’

Today was a very good day, it was my first Christmas fayre of the year and it was at a company where I worked for more than 10 years, I sold a few prints but the best part was catching up with everyone, most of whom I haven’t seen since this time last year. The lady who organises this event said they are planning a much smaller scale event next year but I hope I can persuade her to repeat a similar event next year, or make it even bigger and better, I just need to network with a few more sellers who might be interested. If you are in the Surrey / Berkshire border area and would like a table next year please drop me a line via the contact form at the top of this page.

It is funny how the stuffed kitten was the only thing on the table not for sale but it was the one thing everyone made a bee-line for, I could have sold him a dozen times over! 🙂

 

It was quite a luxury to have 2 x 6 ft tables today, I could really spread out…

This week I made a start on 2 new felting hangings during my life drawing group, they both need more work, some embroidery for the hands and a mixture of needle felting and embroidery for “Chantelle”. I am liking the random dyed backgrounds, I will be making more of those…

Chantelle

Happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends, I hope you are having a lovely day with your family and friends.

 

Monoprinting with Caroline Wendling

Last weekend was the first module of my foundation diploma in art and design course. It was an intense 3 days but we tried out a wide range of techniques and I came away with some prints I feel proud of, here are a selection of my favourites….

This weekend has been spent cutting mount-boards for them all, the first of the Christmas fairs this year is on Thanksgiving, desperately trying to get ready for that. How are your holiday preparations coming along?

1 2 3 4 5 43