Thursday, 5 May 2016


I went for a walk with a friend to blow away some cobwebs. The weather has been sunny and clear all day, and I was looking forward to some lovely golden light over the bluebells before sunset.
Unfortunately it got a little bit hazy, but the smell of the bluebells was amazing.
Even without the rich shafts of golden it was definitely worth it.
Here are a couple

See some more on Flickr

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Billy's Wish

Every news story about a victim of knife crime reminds me of when Billy Dove's life was taken and our whole town was rocked.
I am walking the St Albans half marathon in June to raise money for Billy's Wish and their education programme aimed at protecting children from the dangers of knife crime.

Here is my picture for the Just Giving page, and a LINK - if you would like to make a small donation.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Spring is coming!

In the last couple of months the sun comes and goes taking the temperature up and down with it. Today was no different, luckily I caught the tail end of the nice weather.

I took my 'new to me' DSLR on a short walk - I have some way to go to get used to the differences between my bridge camera and this proper, grown-up one.

Here are a couple of shots and a link to a few more on Flickr HERE.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Frosty dawn

I could stay in bed all day given half a chance, there's nothing better than being wrapped up all snug and warm under my duvet - unless it's a clear and crispy morning, perfect for a photo walk.
So my alarm went off at 5.40am and out of bed I hopped, put on my several layers, scrapped a thick layer of ice from my car and I was off!
I picked up my friend and headed up to Boxmoor Trust at Westbrook Hay to see the sunrise.
Here is a selection of the many I took:

Tuesday, 9 February 2016


Redbubble are running a little competition on instagram, so I thought I'd join in.
I browsed for photos that people were submitting to the challenge with the idea an artist would come along and transform / develop their image.
Here's the original photo and my finished piece as a repeated pattern and as the pattern template - well, most of it. I removed some of the pattern edge to make copying it more tricky.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Bluebell Woods workshop ready for bookings!

Come and paint your very own Bluebell Wood!
Saturday 19th March 2016
2 - 4.30pm
Acorn Wellbeing Centre, Hemel Hempstead Old Town
All materials, including your canvas, are included for £25
The smaller painting is my original and the larger one is a slightly simplified version for us to use as a model in our guided painting sessions. 

The sessions, as always, will be suitable for beginners (and terrified!). I will guide you gently, step by step.

If you have been to other workshops you will be suitably challenged. It's a small step up in terms of skills and there is a great deal of scope for making your own mark with this one.

See the events and workshops page for more details 
Or contact me to book a space - a deposit is necessary to secure your place.
I look forward to seeing you there: and seeing the masterpieces you will create!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Bluebell wood - Acrylics workshop

This is a quick painting I did as preparation for a bluebell wood guided painting.
The painting I use as a guide will have similar colours and composition, but with a few tweaks.
  • This was painted with acrylics  - using process yellow, process cyan, process magenta and titanium white
  • on A3 watercolour paper: in the class we will paint on canvas around A4 size 
  • I'll rationalise the steps, as at the moment it will take too long for a workshop.

Please contact me (see 'contact me' page, in the side bar) 
and I'll keep you posted with when workshops become available
or ask for a quote for a private group / party session.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Exploring repeating patterns - I've been 'guest blogging'!

As a child I was fascinated by repeating patterns on wallpapers, wrapping paper and fabric. I spent hours trying to find where each one started and stopped and trying to workout what sort of weird shape was being used to make the seamless tessellation. I was in awe of the creativity and wizardry that made it happen. 
My curiosity never really abated and being part of the wonderful 52 Week illustration challenge on facebook has spurred me into action. 

I have written a full tutorial for the #illo52weeks challenge website - it's quite long, but I hope will inspire others to get pattern making. 
You can read it here: full tutorial

Here's a walkthrough of my latest pattern: 

The prompt for the challenge was 'swimming'. I  decided that an underwater scene would work well. I dithered about the subject and decided firmly on using Koi. However as you can see, I got distracted by mermaids!
I scrolled through story books and stock images, and made a series of sketches (I also made sketches of fish to swim with the mermaids, but I had a word with myself).
I used them as a basis for my ink - a brush pen. Taking photos of the pencil work meant I felt freer with my brush strokes. If it had all gone pear-shaped I could have used the photos as a guide for digital drawing.
As it goes, I wasn't too unhappy with it, even though the characters of the mermaids changed a little.

Pencil lines were erased and the ink drawings were scanned, cropped, layered, flipped and coloured. Backgrounds came and went. The repeats were swapped around to be checked, tweaked, swapped and checked again.

Finally I committed to a pattern template - which I found fault with straight away. I could endlessly make adjustments and it pains me to see things that aren't quite right - but it is a time pit!

So here is the pattern template and the pattern repeated one and half times:

It is available on t-shirts, large silk scarves, duvet covers and a whole a bunch of other stuff in MY REDBUBBLE STORE

Monday, 2 November 2015

Cross hatching

I recently did a scheme of work with my year 5 class focusing on texture, tone and value.
We looked at various techniques, including cross hatching. 
I have used cross hatching in my own art, but not for a while, and never using charcoal and chalk for a portrait: so here we are.
A2 sugar paper.

I don't know who this is, the stimulus was an image from the internet.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

A day out in Cambridge courtesy of Essential Hotels

This weekend I went to Cambridge for the first time.     

Having never visited Cambridge, we knew there were a lot of bicycles, some fancy architecture and a river, but apart from that we had no idea where to go or what to see. In our hotel room were some tourist leaflets and a hardback book, beautifully photographed and crammed with useful information for everything from where to eat and shop to the history and culture of the city – and how to get there.

The Cambridge Hallmark Hotel is about 5 miles from the centre of Cambridge. It was clear from the literature and the several Park and Ride sites around Cambridge that driving into Cambridge is not encouraged. Luckily the hotel is served by a frequent bus which stops practically on the doorstep.
The ride took about 20 minutes and we got off right in the middle of the city armed with some notes we had made of galleries, eateries and sights we wanted to see in the day. The streets were busy and there were no signs of empty parking spaces and few car parks. The bus was definitely a good option.

I have a terrible sense of direction but this was not a problem in Cambridge because on almost every street corner is a map listing everything a tourist could be interested in including churches, shopping, museums and of course colleges.

It seems there are graduations all year round. It soon became clear that this was a graduation weekend, students in gowns wafted around the streets all day; sometimes escorted by proud family members and sometimes swarming in large groups in and around the grand entrances to the colleges. I understood on an emotional level, for the first time, a sense of how special it is to study in a place like this.

The first attraction on our list was Kettles Yard, after which we planned to stroll along The Backs en route to the Fitzwilliam Museum.  (‘The Backs’ needed to be explained to me: it is a picturesque walk along the backs of the colleges.) Unfortunately Kettles Yard was in the middle of a refurbishment,  but we were glad to have walked there down the charming, ancient streets, and over Magdalene Bridge for our first sight of the river and punts. 

Finally we stumbled by chance across the tiniest church, St Peter’s. When we had cooed over the church for a few minutes, we headed in the pouring rain in the general direction of The Backs. 

For the second time that day, a local stopped us and asked if we needed help and offered friendly and useful advice. We definitely felt that for a town so full of tourists and students it was lovely that visitors were not seen with resentment of as a nuisance.

Even though we were walking in the rain and the light was terrible, we still enjoyed the wonderful autumnal colours in the trees and the beautiful landscaping the colleges are set into. We stood and watched the punts glide by and continued past the colleges until we were near the museum. There were some attempts to persuade us to take a punt but they were not overly insistent and politely declining was accepted in a good manner by all. 

By this time we were ready to eat and metaphorically pressed our noses up against the windows of an array of very appealing bistros and restaurants nearby. However, we were more interested in a light lunch and opted for a sandwich in the museum itself.

The Fitzwilliam Museum was a delight. With a wide variety of collections, it reminded me of a small V and A. I was particularly pleased to see the modern and abstract art exhibition – some of which I believe were on loan from Kettles Yard.

In my naivety, I hadn’t realised the extent of the college buildings across the city. Everywhere we turned, we saw the stone buildings of the colleges reminiscent of the Cotswolds in their colour but larger in scale and grander in design, with their coats of arms, grand entrances and courtyards. I don’t think I could tire of wandering these streets, they were such a feast for the eyes. Just one word of warning: there are cyclists everywhere and cycles are a very quiet mode of transport. Look both ways and look again before crossing any road! 

There are many small streets with quirky shops and markets. Our favourite was an art and craft market. What a great collection of talented local artists there was! I lingered by many but resisted buying until I saw a leather stall. For £10, the trader cut me a length of leather and made me a bespoke belt from scratch. 
He promises me it will last forever.

When we needed an afternoon boost we paid a visit to Fitzbillies Café on Trumpington Street, a recommendation from our trusty book in the hotel. We were not disappointed. I had the most scrumptious rich, moist slice of chocolate cake and my husband thoroughly enjoyed a sticky Chelsea bun. Fitzwilliams have used the same tried and trusted recipe since 1920, judging by the popularity of the café, they would be foolish to change it.

Not in any of the literature we read, but a real wow moment for me, was when I saw the Lloyds Bank on Sidney Street. I have no idea if this on anyone else's radar, but the building is stunning. I was drawn in by the entrance and once inside I was treated to what I thought was an Art Deco marvel but it actually a Victorian building. I'll let the photos do the talking. 

As it got darker and wetter we took shelter in the nearest bar. What a lovely find it was too. We had dived into the Castle Bar, on St Andrew’s street, with a cool vibe and retro film / art house feel. We spent an hour or so enjoying our drinks, listening to the music and watching the world go by.

Because it was half term and because the city was full of graduating students we had tried in vain to book a table at a local, independent restaurant, let us be a lesson to you! We chose to eat at the nearby All Bar One. It’s been many years since I was in an All Bar One. I was very impressed. Clean and sparkling with great service we both enjoyed our food immensely. I had a new arrival to their winter menu: pulled lamb pappardelle. It was stunning, who would have thought?

We could easily have caught a bus back to the hotel, but the weather beat us and we took a taxi from one of the many easy to find ranks.
Before we checked out of the hotel in the morning, I had a lovely swim in their pool and enjoyed the fiery autumnal colours on the golf course.
There was so much we didn’t see and do – and so much we would love to see again, we are certain to return.

 For more information, and other hotels in the area please visit:  Essential Hotels: Cambridge