Art Challenge 22 – Portrait

Having watched the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year TV series my Mum and I each created a portrait of the other. The last portrait I did was a self portrait a year ago and before that a self portrait of another student at University 20 years ago.

Having learnt a lot from the artists in the TV series about how to create a portrait I firstly asked my Mum what aspects of her did she want to be reflected in the portrait. She mentioned her love of the sun, the fact that she is hardworking and has tired hands as a result, and Egypt where she likes to holiday.

I took pictures on my iPhone as Mum talked. Interestingly the stand lamp provided a light source in the corner of the picture which I then used to represent the sun and made it bathe Mum in its light and warm glow. In order to include Mum’s ‘hardworking hands’ I added a heart to reflect that this work is out of love for those close to her. Where she in reality sat with the sketch pad I replaced this with a map to demonstrate that she is always exploring and loves to travel.

I firstly sketched the picture in pencil. Then worked in crayon to add colour and shades. Then next in pencil crayon, then the next layer in glitter pens, then felt tips. I felt I had learnt a lot from watching the artists work, although this in no way made up for my lack of experience I felt it gave me a confidence to mark the page, get into the picture and give it time to take shape and just keep going.

IMG_5818After about an hour I felt I had completed the picture, my Mum was pleased with the way I had incorporated the things she loved.

The Portrait

I then took a phone and put the picture into the Snapseed app, where I used the ‘Drama’ feature. I used the ‘Centre Focus’ feature to emphasise the glow of the sun. Then put that picture into Space Effects app where I added a fireball for the sun and a pink glow onto the heart over Mum’s hands.



Art Challenge 21 – Custom Charger Bag

I was asked for a small phone charger bag featuring my beach huts paper cut design.

See how the pictures were created at this previous Art Challenge blog post

I looked around to see which companies were offering photo printed soap bags and chose a company that I could see and feel the quality.

I decided to get a number of the bags printed to gift and sell.

I created two different models of bag, both featuring the beach huts picture on one side and then on the other either the allotments sheds picture of the ski chalet. The different bags will appeal to different people.

I was disappointed that there was a delay with the order which took the shine and excitement away. When I collected the bags I felt that they needed a little more detail to finish them off. I decided that adding a zip pull would give the product more finesse and better overall effect.

I tried a few different ways of creating the zip pull and had a bit of a shock that my eyes aren’t as good for sewing as they used to be. Oh those cross stitches I used to create with just my naked eyes. This time, even with glasses on, I was struggling too see clearly enough.

I searched through my sewing box and found some ribbon I bought a few years ago and had never used. One worked well with the chalet picture, one less so but that worked well with the allotments and beach huts pictures.

I experimented with how to stop the ribbon from fraying, sewing, burning with candle and then with hair straighteners. I settled on burning with matches as the most effective option, but too long and the ribbon would turn black.

At first I sewed the zip pulls on all sides, then tried just sewing a line across, then finally found that I could do it more neatly by just doing stitches at the end of the zip and then secondly through the furthest whole of the zip. This final option was also quickest, although each bag took longer than I expected, as I was eyesight challenged.

So having completed the sewing I felt that the bags needed some kind of label or branding to finalise the designs and overall first impression.

My husband bought me some scissors with different shaped cutting blades, I added a vertical wraparound strip then tried watercolour painting small labels to add a final presentation detail.

2015/01/img_1767.jpgIMG_1787Please with the final results and they have been met with delight from loved ones.



Of you like the pictures you can watch the animations of the pictures at

Art Challenge 20 – Knee Injury Diary Drawings

As I waited for my husband to return from the hotel buffet, feeling all guests eyes on me with my new leg brace and crutches I decided to draw.

My ski knee injury was a guarantee of a need to be patient and go with the flow. It is just a few shirt days since the accident. Trying to diarise my experience through biro pen drawings is a way of expressing my experience and is a subject on which to practice my art.

This is the first drawing of the knee shake as the ligaments damaged.


The pictures of the subsequent experiences and days follow.




I realised that I can draw myself better than others that I have to be wanting to do the drawing as when they are half hearted then I rush them and they are not as good. I realised that faces are tricky when they are small. Some of the pictures are my point of view and some are me stepping back and drawing what I think I looked like at that time.

I am pleased with the drawings from these first four days, will continue to document the experiences in this way. It will be busier when I get home but at present there is little I can do but sit and rest my leg between meals and toilet visits. But we are making the best of it and I appreciate the small things which one usually would take for granted due to their normality. It’s a learning.