Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I missed my train

Which I was rather miffed about, as, according to my watch, I had a minute to spare.
So I had to take the bus.
Just at the bus-stop when I reached town, there was a little independent Scottish bookshop, which I'd never been into.
And, in it, I go my last two Christmas presents, which I was stumped on.
So it's a good thing I missed my train after all!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Sunset light

I like the hills.

10:45pm, June 4, looking North towards Glasgow
Idiot that I am, I accidentally saved this over another one which I hadn't posted yet :-(

Friday, 16 November 2012

Autumn sun light

9.50am, Nov 5, looking North towards Glasgow
Frost on some roofs!

It's fascinating - the second roof from the front looks reddish brown here. In the previous one it looks bluish grey.

I hope our neighbour never decides to replace his garage roof (front roof) This one has lots of character!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Dreich autumn light

Decided to do another of these (as always, this is just meant to be a light study, not a good picture).
I've got another photo with beautiful autumn sunshine, but this one was quicker!

11.13am, Nov 15, looking North towards Glasgow
 I do like autumn colours.

Friday, 2 November 2012

In memory of 'Uncle' Tom

You need four strips of card and three brass paper fasteners:

I was planning on doing this on Sunday anyway, but it seemed particularly appropriate since today was Tom's funeral, who told it (more or less) this way at a holiday club when I was a wee girl.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Noah's Ark jelly

The ark on calm water

You will need (per person):
  • About 150-200ml of blue soft drink. (I used berry & tropical flavour Powerade - a 500ml bottle between 3 people)
  • Gelatine. About 1 leaf per 100ml of juice.
  • 1 finger of KitKat.
  • A small bowl wide enough to fit the KitKat. 
What to do:
  • Soak gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, put some of the juice in a pan, and heat.
  • Take off the heat, and add the gelatine. Stir to dissolve (it was pretty much instantaneous when I did it).
  • Add the rest of the juice and pour into bowls.
  • Put in fridge to set.
  • (Optional, if you want stormy water). Chop up the jelly small and stir around a bit.
  • Place KitKat finger upside down on top of 'water', to make an 'ark'. 
  • Eat.
 P.S. Don't be put off by using gelatine - it's actually even easier than using jelly cubes.

The ark on choppy water
The KitKat finger is - believe it or not - almost the same proportions as the ark. And, as an added bonus, when you bite into it, it has three floors!!!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Pedantic: Focussing on details I think are unimportant or wrong.
Accurate: Focussing on details I think are important and true.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

In search of beauty

My brother's new blog - click banner below.

The unexpected

    God holds the key of all unknown,
        And I am glad;
    If other hands should hold the key,
    Or if He trusted it to me,
        I might be sad.

    What if tomorrow's cares were here,
        Without its rest?
    I'd rather He unlocked the day,
    And, as the hours swing open, say,
        My will is best.

    The very dimness of my sight
        Makes me secure;
    For, groping in my misty way,
    I feel His hand; I hear Him say,
        My help is sure.

    I cannot read His future plans;
        But this I know:
    I have the smiling of His face,
    And all the refuge of His grace
        While here below.

    Enough; this covers all my wants;
        And so I rest;
    For what I cannot, He can see,
    And in His care I saved shall be,
        Forever blest.
Joseph Parker

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Jesus figure

Here's a Jesus figure to go with the 12 disciples character sheet.
A couple of people have asked for one.

(new version uploaded 13th Sept 2014)

After posting this, I realised that it may not be what people are expecting when they ask for a picture of Jesus! It's not your typical picture, but it's how I'm drawing Jesus at present, so I'm used to it. 

There is a reason for all the things that might be considered 'strange'.

There's nothing in this picture that would tell you it was Jesus unless you knew. This is deliberate:

  • He is a man. Obviously very few people would argue with this in theory, but so often he is portrayed as a sissy. A 'girl-with-a-beard' as I heard this type of picture once described! Masculinity is not somehow less spiritual, and it's unhelpful to imply that it is.
  • He is middle eastern. Does an average middle eastern man have lily-white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes? Why do people draw Jesus this way? Especially when they draw everyone surrounding him in a realistic manner. The implication that fair skin is somehow more holy is dangerous. 
  •  He is not wearing white. At his transfiguration, his clothes 'became white'. The implication, I think, is that they were not white to start with (nor is it likely they were off-white; ancient people had much simpler colour vocabulary than modern English). White is also an impractical colour when travelling! I have chosen red for two reasons: a) it is symbolic of blood, and b) I often do main characters in red to stand out. Any story Jesus is in has him as the main character.   
  • He is wearing a short tunic. He is an ordinary working-class man, and archaeological evidence appears to show that short tunics were the norm at the time. Jesus didn't think much of people who dressed in special clothes to look more holy, so we can assume he didn't wear anything out of the ordinary.
  • He has short hair. There's no reason to suggest Jesus would wear his hair differently from anyone else. (Sometimes people think he was a Nazirite, but he wasn't - he was a Nazarene: i.e. someone who comes from Nazareth.) It seems that short hair was the norm at the time. The reason I have drawn his hair curly is simply to be different. I don't think it's helpful if all pictures of Jesus look the same - no-one knows what he looked like, but we can recognise a picture of Jesus at a glance - this is silly!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Magic Rubber stuff

I use a graphics tablet with my computer. 

However, carrying it back and forwards to my studio was not doing the flex any good.

 I tried taping it, but the tape came off.  I mentioned it to my mum, and she said a friend had given my dad a free sample of this mouldable rubber stuff (Thanks, Susan!)

It really works! It's called Sugru, and is just like soft Plasticene or playdough. But if you leave it for 24 hours, it turns into solid, but still bendy, rubber! (Please excuse excess of exclamation marks, bur it really does deserve it!)

Since you have to use a whole little packet at a time, I also replaced the rubber feet, as all but one were missing.

This will make my tablet last a lot longer.

Comes in several colours: I chose red to go with my laptop.

Class cards

A couple of ideas for if you want a group of children to make a card for someone. Particularly if you don't have loads of time, and need something that will be simple and effective.

In both cases, I used a sheet of A3 card folded in half, to make an A4 card.

Idea 1:

This one was a goodbye card for a Sunday School teacher.

  • Beforehand: Cut a selection of 4½ cm squares in four colours. This is especially easy if you use a guillotine, but it's not neccessary. 
  • With the children: Each child draws whatever they like - aliens were popular in my class, as well as some less conventional objects (a sock?!?). 
  • Stick them on, starting from the bottom. I did it in order of the colours, also trying to ensure there weren't too many similar drawings together.
  • As it is impossible to fit a whole number of squares on an A4 sheet, leave a space for the name or a greeting.
I have done a similar one as a wedding card (can't find a photo). In that case, I got them all to draw one or more hearts on the squares.

Idea 2:
This one definitely suits a short name.

  • Beforehand: Print out the letters as outlines. The font I used was Roger*, but you could use anything chunky, or draw bubble letters. Cut paper apart with one letter to a piece (but don't cut the letters out).
  • Cut up lots of little squares of tissue paper. Pile the paper up and cut through several layers at once. About 2cm square is good - and they don't need to be very neat.
  • With the children: Children stick the tissue paper on the letters. It should overlap the lines a little.
  • Cut them out. We had the adults doing this: one with scissors, the other did the holes with a craft knife. Older kids could do the scissor cutting themselves, but many 5-6 year olds don't cut neat enough for the letters to be legible!
  • Stick them on (preferably better placed than I did) and add stickers if there's time.
  • It really pays to be well organised, so you know exactly what you're aiming at. 
  • Have spare squares or letters, in case someone makes a mess/loses one etc. Keep the spares separate, though, so they're not used unless needed. You don't want to have too many squares to fit!
  • Have enough squares or letters to cater for newcomers or visitors (if your group is likely to have them). That's why I spelled out "Baby Sophie", not just "Sophie". This will also be helpful if some children are quicker than others - they can do several.
  • Do the actual sticking yourself, or it will be chaos. But if you have time, you can call the group together and get them to help: "First I need the 'B' - who's got the 'B'? What letter will I need next?" etc.
*The 'y' is not actually from Roger, as I don't like the one from it. So I made one from an upside-down 'h' and the tail of a 'g'. But if you are a normal sensible person you don't have to do that.

Window washing

Somehow it had never occurred to me that they actually wash the roof of Central Station.

In case it's not very clear, they're using a brush thing on a long handle which is attached to a hose, with water going through it.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Image Libraries

Just found my picture on another image library. This one seems far more legit - it has contact info, and legal stuff about copyright. However, my picture is on it completely illegally. This may not be the fault of the site owners of course.

Many people assume the internet is a copyright-free zone; it's not. Many people assume that everything on the internet is public domain; most of it isn't. Just because someone says 'this is free, you can have it' doesn't mean they have any right to give you it.


I've just spent over 5 hours going through my blog putting a copyright notice on each picture.

After reading this post, I thought I'd just check the internet for a few of my pictures. I did a reverse image search on my 12 disciples picture (as that's by far the most popular page on this blog) - and I discovered it was on some image libraries.

I'm fine with people downloading the picture for personal use - but I want them to do it from my blog, not a random image library. And certainly not a dodgy image library which brings up loads of popup ads and which my virus scanner warns me has threats on it!

I've probably overdone it now (I can't see why anyone would want to steal some of the pictures!). But you can't be too careful.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A verse I like

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. 
 2 Chronicles 20:12

Friday, 28 September 2012

New look

I was wanting a change from the previous template, so here we are. May do more adaptions.
I like how the posts are separated from each other, and white backgrounds are a nice change.
I have been working on a really complicated header, but as I've been doing it for over a year I thin k I won't bother waiting till it's done...


If you want to type a therefore sign , hold down alt and type 8756 on the numeric keypad.
(Except it doesn't seem to work in blogger, and I had to copy paste it)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Not very light study

This is actually from a couple of years ago, which is why the trees are shorter.

Quinaig & Loch Nedd, 10:10pm, 27th July, looking East
My picture is far patchier than the photo, but I just wanted to do it quickly.
I had a number of photos, all with different levels of darkness - I don't know how dark it really was.

It's interesting how much darker this is than the one taken 20 mins earlier (on a different day). The mist will be the reason.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Another light study

Haven't done one of these for a while.

Quinaig & Loch Nedd, 8:30pm, 20th July, looking East
I like the colours in this one.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

One hump or two?

How to remember the difference between a dromedary and a bactrian camel:

(I know they shouldn't really look identical apart from the humps.)

The good thing about drawing dinosaurs

You can do them any colour you like to fit in with your compostion.

Apparently, however, they do know what colour some prehistoric birds are, because they can do tests on the chemicals in the fossilised feathers (or something).

Monday, 20 August 2012

Eeny meeny miny mo

As far as young children are concerned, decisions made by this method are as binding as the laws of the Medes & Persians. This is very useful.

When faced with important choices (such as an argument over who gets the only green folder), I have found they will tend to accept happily and without question the results of eeny meeny miny mo. Strange but true!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Quinaig Light

A couple of light studies. I was getting sick of the high flats, so now we move a bit further north, with a couple of views of Quinaig (the mountain) and Loch Nedd.

Quinaig & Loch Nedd, 7:15pm, 26th July, looking East
Quinaig & Loch Nedd, 9:50pm, 15th July, looking East
This view is one of the reasons my family and I have gone back to the same place every summer for the last 17 years. Every time you look out the window it's different, as the colours on the mountain, loch and sky are constantly changing - so expect more pictures in the coming days...
As with the others, these are not meant to have any artistic merit as pretty pictures - it's just a study of the colours. I enjoy doing studies like this as a morning exercise, as all the info's there - I'm not tempted to go off and do research and never get the rest of my work done!

Friday, 13 July 2012


The condition of the hair depends largely upon careful washing. The greasy scalp should be shampooed more often than the dry one; once every fortnight in the first instance and every three weeks in the second. 
The Complete Home Book, Vol 2,  first published 1937

This book was my Grandma's, and it makes fascinating reading!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Pretend Pizza

We used to have this often for Sunday Lunch when I was young, and my brother was allergic to tomatoes.

You will need (per person):
  • One medium sized roll. Morning rolls work particularly well (if you're fortunate enough to live in Scotland!)
  • One sausage
  • 1/2 tin Heinz Toast Topper - chicken & mushroom or mushroom & bacon *
  • Cheese.
What to do:
  1. Cook sausage - grill or fry. 
  2. Cut roll in half, and toast outsides under the grill.
  3. Turn over and spread both halves with Toast Topper.
  4. Top with thinly sliced or grated cheese.
  5. Cut sausage into 8 and arrange on top.
  6. Put under grill until cheese melts.
*Not all shops sell this. I do know they sell it 3 for £ in Poundland, and from the internet looks like Tescos too.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Aerial perspective

7:05 am. Somewhere between Glasgow and Preston. Dull & overcast.
Lots of interesting things here:
  • Contrast between light and extremely dark.
  • The foreground grass looks very green, but is actually far darker than the greens I usually use.
  • Fairly flat colours.
  • How grey so many colours are. But it doesn't really look dull.
It's odd - I did this on a different computer during the daytime. Some of the tree colours look much lighter, so I would have done it a bit different on this computer.

Not saying I should always do it this dark. But it obviously can be, and not look weird.

Interesting bunting

In the centre of Macclesfield. It's not real clothes, but cutout shapes. No idea why.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Olympic torch

I got a better photo of this wee boy than of the actual torch!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Teaching myself by accident

In Sunday School last Sunday I was teaching the children about the tabernacle, which is a lesson I like for all kinds of reasons:

  • I just find it interesting from a design point of view (which I didn't go into in the lesson). There's gold and silver and a beautiful tent and clothes.
  • The first time God gave his Holy Spirit anyone it was to Bezalel and Oholiab to help them in their craft work for the tabernacle!
  • We don't have a tabernacle, priest or sacrifices now because of Jesus - he is the way we get to God, and he's much better
  • It's also a good lesson for showing interesting objects.
Materials for making the tabernacle

Those were the things I was expecting to teach (on a 5-7 yr old level of course) - and I did.

But I also taught the children - and myself - something else I hadn't planned.

I showed the children a picture of the High Priest; that was Moses' brother Aaron - did they remember Aaron? Blank faces. So to jog their memories, I pointed to the pictures on the wall. Look - there's Aaron with Moses talking to Pharaoh. I looked to see if there were any others. Oh yes, there was another - and for a split second I nearly passed over that one. Because there was Aaron, making the golden calf. We don't want to dwell on that one - focus on the good things he did. 

But in the next split second I realised that didn't make sense.  Instead I pointed out that, while Aaron did some good things, he also did some really bad things - but God still chose him and gave him the very special job of high priest, to help the people meet with God.

Aaron - the one who made the golden calf! Aaron!

And I realised that's the point. Brushing Aaron's sins under the carpet doesn't make the story better. God's grace to a man who did some really stupid and bad stuff makes it better. Because he does not treat us - any of us - as our sins deserve. 

Which fitted in with a lot of the other things in church that day.

It's a bit like Paul. He was hardly your typical candidate for an apostle. In fact, he described himself as "a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man ... the worst of sinners". But he considered that God had chosen him not despite this, but actually because of it, to show his great mercy. 
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Saturday, 9 June 2012

New face paint design

I never did like the fairy design on my face painting sheet, and it was quite difficult, especially the eyes. And the mouth. And the cheeks...

There was also the problem that using white as a base would look really wierd on dark skin, as it would be greyish unless pancaked on very thick (and on really black skin, it would still look grey). But I wasn't really aiming at white at all - I just wanted to give the child's natural skin colour an unearthly ethereal look. So I realised the way to do this was use gold on dark skin. Plain white could still be used on fair skin, but a pearlescent white or silver would be best.

So here's a new design. Disclaimer: I have not actually tried this on a face yet!

More face painting designs on Free Downloads page

Friday, 8 June 2012

Dawn Light

No, I am not completely crazy. I just happened to wake up at that time, noticed it was dawn, took the photo, and went back to sleep.

4.30am, June 3, looking North towards Glasgow
Best visibility of them all, as far as distant hills are concerned.
Very little difference between red roofs and green trees.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


The Queen 2012
I know it's late, but Corel PhotoPaint helpfully crashed when I was part way through the first version :-(

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Overpackaged banana

I was sorting through some photos, and came across this from a few years ago.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Noon Light

I know it says 1pm, but that's because of British Summer Time. As far as the light is concerned, it's noon.

1pm, May 26, looking North towards Glasgow

This is the most colourful one so far. Even so, the greens are much subtler than I would have expected.

This one has the best visibility - there are layers of hills that weren't even in the others. And so much more background detail is visible in the photo.

On the other hand, everything is very flat looking - the foreground roofs in particular - as there's not many shadows, with the sun coming almost straight down.

Hope you're not getting too bored with these - not many left to do now: I have an early evening photo, and rain or mist would be interesting if I can get one. Dawn would also be nice - but I'm not that dedicated at this time of year!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Beach Light

We break into our normal schedule of pictures of roofs and high flats to celebrate a typical (?) Scottish summer day...

This was just meant to be a fairly rough colour study - though  a bit more detailed than the roofs -  but I got carried away, so it took a while.

Troon beach, 4.50pm, 27th May

It's fascinating the different colours in the shadows. The shadows that are on the tops of his arms are blue, because they reflect the sky. But there's also purply, yellowish and reddish ones. Not sure what the reasons for all of them are.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Night Light

Well, this was an easy one - so little detail!

Didn't get the position of the photo quite the same, as I had to brace it against the window frame so it didn't blur with so little light! 

I like  the pink lights; they go well with the sunset.

10:40pm, May 24, looking North towards Glasgow
It's interesting how different this one is from the one 40 minutes earlier (on a different day).

Friday, 25 May 2012

Overcast light

Almost the same time as the photo I took on Wednesday morning, but this one's from Monday, with different weather.

8.20am, May 23, looking North towards Glasgow
In some ways the colours are similar, but the chimneys are barely noticeable in this one, where they were so prominent in the sunny picture. The whites and creams are all grey and murky beige. There's very little contrast. 

Interestingly, though, the greens are almost the same.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

More light studies

Did these yesterday and today - one photo from yesterday morning, the other from yesterday evening. 

I actually had to pochle the second photo a bit - unlike the human eye, the camera can't cope with bright sky and dark ground - if the sky looked right the ground was far too dark. But if the ground was right, the sky was too pale. So I took two photos, one pointing at the sky and one at the foreground, and then blended them. Even then, I think the foreground appeared lighter in reality.

8.25am, May 23, looking North towards Glasgow 

9pm, May 23, looking North towards Glasgow

I thought it would be good to do the same scene with different lighting, a bit like Monet's haystacks (though maybe not quite as skillful - he didn't cheat with a computer!). 

It was very interesting to see what things were more or less important in the different pictures. For example, in the morning one the reds stand out a lot. Also, there is far more detail visible in the background - in the evening ones it all tends to blend together. In the morning one, the blocks of high flats look 3D because of the angle of the light. In the other two, they look flat.

In all the pictures I've done so far, the effect of aerial perspective has been very noticeable (that means that, as things get more distant, they become less distinct, and closer in colour to the sky).

Also, the colours are all more muted than I tend to use. But they don't really look dull.

If I were doing an illustration based on the morning one, I'd probably make the sky bluer. It was blue higher up.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Light study

The book I got about Light has exercises throughout it. The first of these is simply to look. To be aware of what light does. 

Part of this is to take lots of photos, at all times of the day, and with all kinds of light. You should do this with your camera set on the daylight setting, otherwise your camera will compensate for the different colours of light, and make them all look the same.

So I took a number of photos on Saturday, and have done a colour study of one of them. This is not meant to be a good picture - it's just the colours that matter.

10pm, May 19, looking North towards Glasgow
I used the eyedropper tool to select each colour. Some of them surprised me - that little bit of 'white' wall near the bottom is actually a dark greyish blue, far darker than the sky!

In an illustration, I would probably lighten everything a little, and maybe exaggerate the colours a bit. But to stylise something, you need to know what it's really like, first.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Ripping off old paintings

Rebekah goes to the well.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau Young Girl Going to the Spring (1885)
 I wonder if he'd be flattered...?

Edit Nov 2012: Looking back at this, I see I got the pose wrong. The contraposto isn't right. Will redo before publishing.

Edit July 2014: Ooops - I never did! Well, it can wait until  I've got a lot more new stories up.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A spelling rule

It should be i before e except after c.
But weird breaks that rule, which is weird.

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Finally found a quote I've half-remembered for a long time.
"...Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." But Mandos said: "And yet remain evil..."
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
(Eru is God, and is Earth)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Light for Visual Artists

 I got a copy of this book for my birthday. I think it's going to be very useful.

I especially found the bits about colours of shadows interesting - I had no clue about that at all. Knowing why things appear the way they do will make it much easier. 

It will take a few readings to get my head round all the science, but I was encouraged when towards the end he said 'Art is not physics'!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Money money money

I've just been discussing prices for possible upcoming projects with a client. I can't afford to work at what they want to pay me (I mean really can't afford to - not just would prefer not to).

It's so frustrating. I want to do the work - if only money didn't have to come into it. So often I see things and think: this organisation needs an illustrator, that publication could do with a proper designer instead of being clearly designed by the editor. But then I think of what I'd have to charge, and how they are unlikely to be able to (or at least see the necessity of making a way to) pay me.

So many worthwhile things have to make do with amateurish illustration and shoddy design, while all the good design is wasted on big corporations only out to make money.

I've always thought that the best economic system is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". There is the slight problem - unfortunately overlooked by those who have tried to implement it - that it needs perfect human beings to achieve it!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Christ is Risen!

How could we forget
the moment your love rolled the stone away?
Our hearts were opened, our lives were changed.
We remember.
Click here to hear the song: We Remember
(It will take you to a Myspace page, and you'll need to click Play again - sorry - I don't know of an easier way of doing this!)