Birds, birds, birds…

How are we in the middle of January already? We had snow for about three days last week but the same came out on Sunday and it was gone in a flash. Apparently we are heading for temperatures of 8 or 9 this week, with some sunshine so I’m planning to steam clean the patio and sort out my potting shed ready for planting some seeds. That’s going to involve putting the window and the door back on my greenhouse after those high winds last week though! 😀

Painting wise has involved me experimenting with feathers and fur! I’ve tried to incorporate some of the techniques I’ve learned with Anna Mason’s tutorials, they have proved to be invaluable and I will continue to recommend her online school to anyone who is interested in trying watercolours.

Flamingos are a favourite of mine, I’ve made quite a few in the last couple of years so it was only natural that I’d attempt one. I’m really happy with the feather work, not sure if the images are good enough to show the detail but there are LOTS of tiny brush strokes. I think the beak could do with a bit of work but I’ll go back to that at some point.

 

Someone suggested a puffin because of the beak, we all love puffins, they are real characters.

 

I’m having a few problems capturing the silveryness of the fish but I’m thinking of adding a bit of silver ink to it, that’s cheating isn’t it? I’m giving each layer of work, time to dry and also giving myself time away from the paintings so that I can go back to them with a fresh eye.

The other painting I’ve been working on, is a present for my husband. He’s not on Facebook so he won’t see the photo. It’s my attempt at painting one of our first dogs, Archie. Archie was this gorgeous little Jack Russell who we lost in the spring of 2001, 16 years ago but he is still a big memory for us. This is a very difficult painting for me as it’s one thing to paint a bird or flower from photos because it’s impersonal and easy to be happy with the result. As I work on this one, I’m finding so many errors and issues because I knew that little dog so, so well, it’s harder to capture his essence and personality. I know it’s at the early stages so I’m not giving myself too hard a time but even so it’s quite difficult.

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So far, I’m happy with the left eye! LOL

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing this week…..

A New Journey

Another post so soon??? Send in the doctors, there’s obviously something wrong!!

One of my Christmas presents was a gorgeous set of watercolours from the husband and the problem with getting really good quality materials, is that feeling that you should try to do the very best. I’ve signed myself up for a few months of lessons with the Anna Mason Online School – I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time and had been umming and ahhing over whether to take a few of her lessons.

Watercolours have always been a problem for me, I crave the intensity of acrylics and oils and constantly tried to recreate that with watercolours. Not only that but I never have the patience to persevere with painting, so my work has been quick, slapdash and haphazard, I called it ‘quick art’ and it became a family injoke.

Here’s my first three attempts at the tutorials from Anna Mason.

I’m absolutely gobsmacked that I have done as well as I have, usually I get bored and rush to finish but I didn’t feel the need to do that. I can thoroughly recommend Anna’s tutorials, they are really clear and informative. They are in order from beginner to intermediate but you can do whichever one you want. Although I do recommend that you start with the beginner tutorials as it will work on some of the basics.

That said, I’ve now rushed on to the hummingbird lesson. I told you, I have patience problems!

It’s been difficult for me to do as many birds this past nine months, the back and neck problems made it quite uncomfortable to sit bent over my sewing but now my Occipital Neuralgia has returned, so I’m having to really work on my posture otherwise the headaches are really debilitating. I’m painting, using a drawing board which has helped so much, in just a few days. Finding new ways to create is very important now.

I hope you don’t get too bored with my painting. I’ll be making a start on some of my own work in the coming weeks, I really fancy a flamingo…what do you think?

Now, to put the Christmas deccies away finally!!

It’s been so long….

since I posted anything!

We are still trying to tackle the garden of this beautiful house that we moved into last year, so whenever there has been a lovely day, I’m out there, if not weeding, then sunbathing 🙂

I managed to finish a small Snowy Owl, he’s still available on my etsy shop by the way.

I may not have made very many birds but tried a few new techniques. I know that my work, especially the larger pieces can be quite expensive so I really wanted to make some more affordable pieces but still retain the artistic and unique elements of my work.

I played around with fabric paints, there was a disaster which went in the bin, then a lovely robin, which gave me a little more confidence.

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Then I tried a flamingo, a lot smaller than the usual ones and bloody hell that was tricky doing that neck and beak! He’s ended up as a giveaway prize as although he’s lovely, I didn’t feel as though I could charge anyone for him…

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Then another Robin but this time with some embroidery elements, taking it back to my embellished birds.

And the most recent one, a Blue Tit!

 

Both of these birds are available on my Folksy shop 🙂

I’m not sure where I’m going next. It’s really hard to get motivated at the moment with so much else going on. It’s a strong consideration to wind the business down at the moment as well. Registering as a sole trader, having to do those bloody tax returns takes a lot of joy out of creating for me and am entering CBA (Can’t be Arsed) mode again.

I’m such a child! LOL.

Have a great weekend!

Where now?

I feel as though I’ve been working on this Osprey forever. I suppose I have, if only because my back problem kept me from doing much to him. I still have the problem but pain meds, physio and acupuncture have given me a bit more movement and less pain.

He’s now available in my etsy shop  so pop along to see how much he is, there. Or if you are interested and don’t want to go through that, you can send me a message on my facebook page and we can go from there using paypal. (Same price as on etsy).

Now the next problem is………

 

WHAT NEXT? Suggestions always welcome 😀

 

How do you do that?

It’s a question I’ve been asked on several occasions since I’ve been making my small embellished birds. So I’m going to tell you……

Let’s start with inspiration. When I first started making little birds, it was from the pattern by Ann Wood – she also has a facebook page. I never stop telling people about her patterns. They are incredibly well written with lots of photos and in some cases, like the little wire legs, video! I’ve only made her small birds but she now has quite a few patterns available for sale, including the very wonderful owls and adorable little mice. She’s one of the few textile artists who give permission for you to use her patterns to make things to sell. I still use her pattern when I make my little giveaway birds.

Go to her site, buy a pattern, you will NOT regret it.

There are many other great textile artists who make birds, Abigail BrownDi Osman, Daisy Chain Creations and Made by Aimee among others. Emma Hall makes fabulous birds and patterns as well. Pop along and have a good look at their work.

Now, how do I make mine? I can’t really tell you. I worked on some basic patterns, the flamingo was my first, a very fluid but easy to recognise shape. I did lots of sketches, lots of rough pattern drafts until finally, I had a pattern. Even then, it didn’t turn out the way I expected because as I decorate my birds, I alter the shape of them with stitches, pulling them around, pushing them into place, adding wire. It’s trial and error. Every single bird is unique. I’ve made lots of robins and kingfishers and each one is better than the last because I’m improving them as I go. Look at the Crows below for example.

 

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Evolution of the Crows

The one on the larger white skull was the very first, made over two years ago and the one on the right, last summer. I’ve even used the same fabric. But they are vastly different.

I won’t be making patterns of my birds to sell, I won’t be doing tutorials or ‘how to’ guides. Basically because even I don’t know how I do it most of the time. My birds are constantly evolving.

I like to think that part of the charm of my work, is that every single piece is different, it’s one of the reasons they are covered in hundreds if not thousands of stitches. I don’t want to turn out many, many identical pieces or in actual fact, see copies of my stuff, selfish I know. Sorry 😦

I’m more than happy to encourage and point you in the general direction of great pattern designers. I will always say the same thing….practise, practise, practise. We are ALL capable of being good at something, it’s just a question of finding out what it is and working at it. It’s important to take inspiration from others but to use it to find your own way.

 

Get out there, do your thing, make it yours, make it awesome!