Saturday, August 4, 2018


The moth frivolity has served it's purpose to loosen me up and shoo away the ghosts of self doubt. It's a strange thing, but once you make a start, doesn't really matter what it is that you produce, you get engrossed and somehow all the clutter in your head goes away and it becomes about the work and you are happy again.

I have didn't have much freelance work on Friday, so worked on a portrait of a friend's son. It started out as a watercolour/gouache painting and then I drew over it in chalk pastels but didn't love the background or the way I'd done his hair... so scanned it into the Mac and replaced them and generally messed around until I was happy.  The end result looks to be a hybrid between a watercolour and a linocut or screen print! His mother is also happy, I was relieved to know!

It got me thinking, because this portrait is not fully painted in the "real world", the finished image will need to be a high quality single print out instead of a painting. I am wondering if I could offer a commission service where I do them this way, because I can change the background colour and some other details until the client is happy, they buy the single print out of the end result, but I could also email them the digital file so that they could use the portrait to make their own greetings cards or a T Shirt for a doting Nana.... what do you think?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Still experimenting...

Moth  number 2 went off in several different directions as I wondered if Gouache was even the right approach......went for a wash background but then it took attention away from 'Merv' himself and it was difficult to read the text, so wound up doing a flat Gouache colour over the top (but not completely opaque, so some of the dried wash texture showed through) and the lettering is now a font applied in the Mac... still playing :o)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

but the joy of computers is...

My Mac definitely has it's uses. The Amazon delivery guy brought the eagerly awaited gouache and so I got to work on the first moth. I had a vague idea in my head of how I wanted it to look but I needed the moth to be speaking (naturally!) so I went and painted in some speech bubbles.... they looked off in white so I painted them a plum colour, thinking I would do the text in white instead.... that looked really rubbish.... but as it's so hot, the colour I had mixed for the background was now completely dried up! Rather than try to mix the exact same colour again I decided to fix things in the computer instead.

I scanned in the little painting at high resolution, and adjusted the text at the bottom to straighten it up, then I set about removing the speech bubbles. I think it looks a lot better now and I have a model for the other moths in the series :o)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


for Gouache rather than Godot.

I finally got in the swing of creativity in my wonderfully tidy and rearranged art space... it was a little too organised for a mind so used to working in chaos.... it seemed such a shame to mess it up to begin with - but then the search for the Mystery Moth brought that overwhelming wave of ideas that always find their way onto paper.

I looked around after finishing the preliminary sketches for 3 little moth paintings... everything has a place and everything, including my huge stash of gouache paints, was in it's place...yay!!! Hhhmmmmm, as a working illustrator back in the 1980's (yes, imagine that!) I used to quickly rattle off brightly coloured "spot illustration" for magazines like Just Seventeen and others for a few years, all brightly, solidly coloured in lovely creamy Gouache.... my moths were calling out for the same treatment...and I was so excited to be returning to something so familiar that I had been forced to abandon when computers completely turned magazine production on it's head. For a while in the early 90's an illustrator couldn't get arrested, and so I learned to use a Mac and kept myself busy with design work.... and when illustration became the rage again it needed to be done completely on the computer so that art directors could order you to change the position and placement of every detail at whim.

Drawing on a computer is something you can pick up quite quickly but back then scanners were quite iffy and there weren't any wacom pens for a while either. I picked up how to draw with Bezier curves and then fill in the shapes... precise, mechanical and not great for your posture. It kind of sucked a lot of the joy out of creating images for me. Yes the end results looked fine, and you could change everything at will, incorporating photographic textures and vintage imagery to spice things up.... but something was lost in the process, the fun.

I missed sitting there with my right arm cartwheeling around several times before each new sketching session, dipping my paint brush in my tea, cats jumping up on my angled drawing board and knocking everything to the floor, dancing around to the radio and suddenly seeing what I was painting in a new light.... I miss accidents, happy, happy accidents. Drawing and painting is as much a physical occupation as it is a creative one. You need to keep your upper body quite loose and supple... and I miss all of that.

So, here is the big tin box of Gouache, I take off the lid and look at those little tubes of wonder, some squished from use with the caps on wonky, little darlings, little friends... little long abandoned friends, little dried out corpses! So the 3 little moth prep sketches hang on the wall, waiting patiently for the kiss of gouache to bring them to life. I just wait for the Amazon delivery guy...

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mystery Moth

Still no luck identifying my mystery visitor from the other morning so I decided to do a sketch to see if anyone has any ideas.... it's probably something very common that I just haven't taken any notice of before! Hee hee... but to me he seemed strange and exotic (and I'd seen a whole of cloud of Burnett Moths just a few days before!). His real size was maybe a 3rd the size of the sketch (if you use my fingers as a guide) and he was a kind of beige/oatmeal colour with quite intricate patterns of many shades of tan and brown and those metallic gold splodges in the centre of both upper wings and some evidence of metallic scales in the centre of the lower wings too. He didn't have big fluffy antenna but there were definitely visible hairs on them and his overall shape was wide at the top tapering toward his bum....and he may well have been a girly of course! :o)

Anyhow, in trying to identify him I have decided that moths are excellent subjects to paint and am now knee deep in sketches and the paints are out ;o)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dead Heading

I was just out in the yard, dead heading the pot plants and reflecting on the faux pas of Petunias, to have shrivelled and done flowers that look rather similar to soon to open blooms. They are giving a good show despite some of my mistakes, though, probably enjoying the extraordinary run of heat we have been having. It's now rainy and cooler - is this just a brief respite... or has Wales returned to it's Default Setting, I wonder?

Anyway, as it's one of my favourite ways to start the day, I'm enthusiastically dead-heading a new plant, that I don't even know the name of (scarlet trumpets with white edging, structured like small Foxglove towers?) when I disturbed a resting moth... it flew off erratically in through the open kitchen door and proceeded to batter itself dementedly between the ceramic soap dish and the window above the sink. Here lurks a MONSTER of the eight-legged variety (one I keep deciding to tackle before losing my nerve!). I found a little cleaned out desert pot (funny how they are often to hand, on the draining board) and managed to get the moth in residence after a little gentle coaxing. A beautiful little chap, smaller and more "racer" shaped than the usual, with a furry body and feathery antennae. All brown and cream intricate patterned wings with some gold leafing in the centres that caught the light wonderfully. I've not seen his kind before and would happily have taken his pic if I hadn't needed both hands to keep him safe. I wonder if he was some foreign visitor blown over from the continent on the hot breezes (he will need a Visa for that next Summer, unfortunately!) or maybe a stowaway in a shipment of exotic plants? Whatever he was, he happily flittered away into the bushes when I set him free up the steps into the garden proper.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ooopppss, thanks for the comments! ;o)

Tee heee! It's so long ago since I blogged regularly and I guess a few things have changed. Back when I last was at this every few days (dinosaurs roamed the earth... well, the Isle of Wight, it was only 2016!) there used to always be an orange "Comments Awaiting Approval" flag on the page you go to compose a new post. As the layout generally looks the same, I didn't realise that they had done away with that feature and now you have to go in search of your comments... DOH!!!!!

So thanks to all of you for leaving comments all along, I promise I will answer quicker now I know where they live.... I'm coming to check out all of your blogs later too! ;o)