Portraits....landscapes....life drawing....and more.....

Little Mr J turned two last week, and I received a surprise birthday card featuring a portrait of him that my dad had painted.  The watercolour portrait is only small being on a birthday card, but it captures him (and his best friend, the Jolly cat) perfectly.
I've never really painted portraits, so I'm always in awe of people who can do this as I think it has to be one of the hardest things to paint.        
My dad has been updating his blog with recent paintings from his home in Ireland, work from a few years ago whilst living in Southern France and prior to that England, as well as sketches and paintings from his sketchbook.  The two paintings below are recent oils depicting moody skies and iridescent landscapes in Ireland.       
The scene below is a watercolour landscape of Ireland, and lastly a painting of Norfolk taken from his sketchbook. 
Recently my dad has also started some still life classes, painting nudes.  You can see more of his figure studies here and here.     
I have recently had the opportunity to paint the female figure for only the third time since leaving art-college, more years ago than I prefer to remember. Painting the human figure presents unique challanges very differnt to landscape or still life. It is, I believe, all in the drawing, getting the balance, form and proportions right. There are no straight lines, no definite angles or corners to take measurments from, coordination of eye and hand are paramount.
 And lastly here is a video featuring some of his current work.  Enjoy!   

Post holiday blues

I've been suffering a little bit with post holiday blues, after a beautiful week spent in Queensland. It was fabulous to get away for a few days for a change of scene, and to escape the chilly winter days here in Kyneton.
Mr J had a great time hanging out at the beach, making sand-castles and running into the surf for a paddle. As a child I loved going to the beach for summer holidays, and growing up in England nearly all of my childhood beach trips were in the UK or Scotland (if anyone watches the British TV series 'Doc Martin', this is filmed at Port Isaac in Cornwall - one of the beautiful beaches where I used to go on holiday) It didn't matter about the weather, it was all about being outside all day, discovering and exploring new places, playing on the beach, collecting shells and poking in rock pools - and yes it did involve swimming in the very cold waters surrounding our small island!  
It was wonderfully refreshing for us to have a break from work, and to be without computers, emails, train timetables and house chores for a week. Back to reality now with frosty mornings and still un-read emails in the in-box! 
Of course I made it a priority to check out a few local op-shops and second-hand places, and my Queensland holiday was complete when I found this rather gorgeous vintage English teacup and saucer featuring an art deco style pattern in tones of greens.

Vintage children's chalk-board & lettering set

Several months ago, I bought this rather cute vintage children's chalk-board and lettering set. The reason I bought it is that it is exactly the same one I had as a child, and it bought back all-sorts of memories when I saw it!

It's a rather nifty little set - the top of the case is a chalkboard that also doubles as a magnetic board, and on opening the case you find two trays of magnetic lower & uppercase letters and numbers, chalk, a chalk-board rubber and a set of descriptive cards. All housed in its own carry case with handle. Tres chic!

The assorted descriptive cards fit onto the chalkboard, and you can either trace around them with the chalk, or pop the magnetic letters into the blank spaces. You can also just put the letters directly onto the magnetised board and create your own words and sentences - or you can simply draw on the chalkboard with chalk.

It all seems very simple and naive compared to the sophisticated toys and video games available on ipads and iphones for children these days, but I think it's much more inventive and imaginative....although sadly it's not as light, and it doesn't fit in a handbag!