“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Friday, 17 April 2015

Paint Party Friday... Art Workshop

As I mentioned previously we had visitors staying over Easter but just before they arrived I had a place booked into a watercolour workshop. It wasn't the best of timings for me personally, as I was mentally out to lunch quite literally... planning menu's and venues for the visitors but I wasn't going to miss the workshop. 
Even though I was distracted I had a great time catching up with Sofia Perina-Miller.
I have been to a previous workshop and painted the autumn leaf (click here if you'd like to see more) using the paints and paper that Sofia recommended. 
I just love, love love them... there I've said it!
Here's Sofia giving a demonstration of her talent and unique colourful creativity.
She is so incredibly inspiring
No pencils or rubber in sight... just straight in with a loaded brush and she's away!
I could watch her all day but that's not what she wants... 
she just wants everyone to have a go, play and enjoy!
I just adore her paint box... you can see that it's lived!
She really does see that much colour in everything she sees. 
She painted a daffodil but focused more on the bulb which is the last thing I would have done, but it was spectacular and so colourful. 
Sofia makes you look at things differently... for example just take a look at her sunflower above. 
Although, as I say I had other things on my mind on the day... I wasn't happy with what I painted whilst there, so I decided to have another attempt at painting daffodils this week.
Well it's that time isn't it?
 (Aberdeen is completely covered with them on every grass verge and public grass slope. It really is a spectacular sight just now)
If you missed my last post which shows the progression of the painting then click here

Thanks to Sofia and the Jack Tierny Gallery for running these great workshops. They do an amazing job providing a fantastic location, refreshments, art supplies, expertise and friendly helpful guidance and advice when needed.

I've actually produced a painting that I don't mind looking at... and that's quite something!
I'm linking up with Eva and Kristin over at the Paint Party Friday once again.
Paint Party Friday

Enjoy your Friday... have fun and have a fantastic weekend everyone

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

What's on your Workdesk Wednesday (WOYWW #306) Profusions of plants

I had better throw in my cap first to Julia and the WOYWW gang... I may be barred? 
But in my defence, I've had trouble with my laptop (twice), visitors and generally being the preverbial blue ***** fly!
 Just because I haven't posted what's on my desk (WOYWW) doesn't mean I haven't been peeking and thinking about you all.
It's funny how these blogging practices can grab a hold and hang on tight. 
I'm borrowing my son's laptop (again) for this post whilst he's distracted, but I'm aware I'm having to rush because I don't want to be responsible for him not completing an assignment or project. 
So with that in mind... here's my desk.
I was at a loss a few mornings ago. 
I knew I wanted to paint something but couldn't think what... and that's when the negative voice started screaming "well why bother anyway, you're always disappointed with the result" and "you know it's all brilliant in your head... the problem starts when you put the paper and paint in front of you".
Why is it that that negative voice no matter what it refers to is the loudest and the first to come forward. I'm very aware of this, so I gave it a sharp talking to. 
Thankfully silently to myself and not out loud, as I frighten everyone enough already!
Anyway... I picked some flowers out of the garden and started.
I got to that ugly stage and it was nearly time to say "okay you win" but I carried on and surprise surprise I actually like it!!! 
 I went to a watercolour workshop a few weeks ago and hopefully I'll be posting all about it sometime soon (probably when I can bribe more laptop time)

I've also been using a different desk over this week too.
It's the work bench in our garage. 
I've been creating hanging baskets and mangers. 
Yes it's that time already.
They won't be hanging outside for quite some time, but I was caught out last year by starting them too late and they had a job to catch up. 
So I'm ahead of the game... now we just need the right conditions 
(I know the south of the UK is enjoying fantastic temperatures this week, but that frosticle fiend can play cruel tricks) 
I'll not hang them out until at least the end of May and then only depending on conditions.
I came up with an ingenious idea of placing two mangers back to back in the wheel barrow. 
Too many times they have tumbled over and all the tender plants have been given an unwelcome short back and sides! 
Now they are stable and I can wheel them in and out to make the most of the sunshine, but tuck them up safe and sound at night. 
Brillent eh?
So that'll do for today (someone's lurking and wanting the laptop back) 
If you'd like to have a nosy around other talented creative people's desks then click here to be transported to Julia's Stamping Ground link.
I'm also linking up with Create with Joy
Have fun everyone and I hope to see you soon.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Paint Party Friday... Mufftypups portrait

Morning everyone... isn't it a fantastic day, plus it's nearly the weekend (again) Woohoo...
I thought you might like a peep into my studio once again, which is still in a transition phase. 
Not sure how long it will take me to get it as I would like... let's say it's yet another work in progress. Story of my life! 

Anyway here it is...  
Getting messy isn't it? I think that's a good sign.

So as well as having visitors staying over the Easter holiday, I've been spending some time in the garden due to it's awakening, but I've also started a painting that I've wanted to do for quite some time.
It's a portrait of my McMufftypup (my dog for any new comes to this blog) 
Let me just say at this stage she's not the easiest of pooches to paint nor the best of models.
As her groomer keeps telling me, Muffy doesn't like to stand when she can sit, 
and sit when she can lie.
That's my girl... sigh
I lost count of how many times she would curl up for a little snoozelet and refuse to play.
Thankfully, I had a photo printed to help me in times of need.
It's not the best because the colours aren't true but it helped... I think!
I've spent a few sessions over the last few days to try to complete it before Friday's Paint Party but once again I think it needs more time for tweeking. 
I think I could just keep adding to her fur for years.
Let me tell you that a mini shih tzu has a LOT of hair! 
(Just in case you don't know a shih tzu does actually have hair and not fur, hence why we chose to have a dog of that breed. My son and hubby have allegies so she's perfect in that respect. The downfall is she takes forever to dry... but thankfully she loves the hairdryer ^..^ )
Here's the pet portrait so far...
Okay it still doesn't look anything like her and the photo really is bad (no excuses honest it doesn't look like this on my desk) but I'm beginning to like it,
I'll keep going but at the moment the great outdoors is calling.
If you'd like to see more art work then click here to join Eva and Kristin who host this great link every week. 
Or if you'd like a little trip to Balmoral Castle and missed my post yesterday then click here
Have a fabulous Friday and thanks for popping into my place.
Enjoy your weekend everyone

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Easter at Balmoral Castle

Over the Easter holiday weekend the weather was brilliant, so we wanted to make the most of it.
We decided to take a trip to Balmoral Castle which is approximately 50 miles from Aberdeen. 
It was no hardship taking a drive over the Bank Holiday as there were very few cars on the road and driving through the magnificent valley of the River Dee, towards the Cairngorm Mountains the scenery is spectacular. 
I've wanted to enter the gates to Balmoral on numerous occasions but Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has always beaten me to it. Well Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, having been first leased in 1848, so I suppose she should have first choice. 
 (The gates are the main entrance to Balmoral Castle and Estate in Royal Deeside.

 The featured initials G R (George Rex) along with a Royal Crown; the second belonged to Her Majesty Queen Mary and displays the initials M R (Mary Regina) and the date is 1925)

The Castle is located on the large Balmoral Estate, a working estate which aims to protect the environment while contributing to the local economy. The original Balmoral Castle was built in the fifteenth century but it was considered too small. A new castle was constructed on the site about 90 metres (100 yards) north from the old building. Prince Albert planned the grounds and helped with the design of the castle itself, which was completed in 1856. 
The castle has been handed down through their descendants, and today is the traditional holiday home for The Queen and members of her family during the summer vacation period. 
The Castle is built in granite from neighbouring quarries of Glen Gelder, which produced a near white stone. It sparkles in the right light. Unfortunately the sun didn't shine during our visit, but I plan to revisit over the summer months. 

On the impressive front lawn, at a point opposite the tower and about 100 yards from the path, a stone marks the position of the front door of the earlier house which was demolished in 1856.
It is easy to be transported back in time in your mind to days gone by, when you look around you on this estate. 
If you visit the castle there are brilliant audio tours which guides you through the grounds, gardens and exhibitions at Balmoral. This fascinating tour details the story of Balmoral and the workings of the Estate and is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
I wanted to spend more time listening to all of the amazing details, but then I became aware that I'd stopped so many times to take photos and to listen to the audio, that my family had moved on...
So let's get a little closer... 

Don't worry the castle's foundations are solid... it's just the quirky angle that I took this photo. 
Sometimes people just get in the way!
The centre windows in the above photo have a fantastic view over the rose gardens and beyond towards the mountains (snow capped at the moment) This was another reason that the house was rebuilt and moved so that these views could be enjoyed.
If you look closely to the centre of the photo below you can just see the snow on the mountain.
The roses are all timed to bloom when the Queen and the Royal Family visit in August.
All of the rooms will be decorated with posies and flower arrangements for their visit.
That's one of the reasons why I want to return... to see the gardens in all of their glory, but I'll have to make sure it's before August.

Obviously, when Her Majesty is in residence the castle is closed to the public but at this time of year we can enter into the largest room in the house.
The Ballroom...
It is still much used by the Royal Family today and dances such as the Ghillies Ball take place every year since Queen Victoria's reign.
Unfortunately, no photograph's are allowed to be taken by the public in this room, which has fascinating exhibits of photo's, toys and treasures plus amazing art work on the walls.
One incredible treasure was found in the tower of the castle and has been restored.
It is an elaborate cot which they think might have been used for Queen Victoria's nine children.
There is also the fantastic electric car, built in the late 1920s and used by The Queen and Princess Margaret when children. The car was renovated in 1953 and the Citroen radiator was changed for that of a Daimler. The car was then given to Prince Charles and so the registration number was appropriately changed to PC 1953. 
There's lots of video footed showing the car in use. 
Also some great footage of Prince Philip having fun with Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

If you'd like to see more then click here to enter the Balmoral Castle and Estate website.

The exhibitions extend into the Carriage Hall Courtyard where there are a number of other fascinating displays. 
This Daimler has been to Australia House in Australia and back again... just imagine how many miles that would have put on the clock Emoji

The castle has it's own fire station too... but they have moved on from the old equipment on display to the left of this photo below. 
I mean wooden ladders!
I think my favourite car on display was this little blue cutie... it was tiny.
If I remember rightly (sorry I didn't take notes) it used to be a delivery van.

Now here's something you don't see every day. 
The antlers give it away slightly. 
It's the building where the deer and vension were butchered and hung. 
Thankfully the door was locked.
So wandering further in the 50,000 acre Highland Estate we visited the greenhouses and vegetable garden. 
This greenhouse was stunning and another one was packed with seedlings all getting ready to be harvested in August and September during the Royal Family's visit. 

 I didn't take a photo of the veg plot on this occasion because they are just clear beds all ready for planting out, so not much to see at the moment. 
The Duke of Edinburgh has enlarged the flower and vegetable garden and created the water garden.

This photo isn't of the water garden... it's the River Dee from the bridge. 
Fast flowing and looking rather chilly today.
As many of my regular visitors will know... I love trees and as you can imagine I was completely enamoured by the majestic trees and woodland on the estate. 
To think that the specimen below was planted by Prince Albert himself. 
And so this visit comes to an end... for today anyway but I'll be back to listen to more facts and details on the audio tour and to see the gardens in full bloom especially the rose and herbaceous borders.
I would like to take the safari tour too. It takes you through the manicured parkland and out through the Estate farm and into the old Caledonian Pine Forest. 
Who knows we might even see the elusive capercaillie?

No wonder Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family like to come here for their summer holiday.
It's easy to imagine them wandering around the grounds and estate, or fishing in the River Dee. 
It has a wonderful friendly but peaceful ambiance. 

I nearly forgot to say we did have lunch in the cafeteria and I can highly recommend the soup and scones. There's also a gift shop that has unique and high quality souvenir's.
All in all there's something for everyone... so if you're up this way then pop in to see for yourself. 

On the way home, we visited the Bridge of Feugh (another beauty spot) to see if we could spot some salmon climbing the rock ladder to their spawning grounds to breed, but unfortunately we didn't spot one. 
Maybe next time?
I hope you enjoyed our little trip and will pop back again soon. 
Meanwhile, I'm heading out into the garden... it's woken up and the sun's shining! 
Enjoy your week 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Paint Party Friday...Peony and Perfume

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself today because as regular visitors will know, I normally only have unfinished work to bring to Eva and Kristin's PPF 'show and tell' but not so today. 
Oh no my friends, I have finished work... in fact, I have two pieces of art work to show you. 
Yes two!!!
Here's the first which I started at the beginning of the week.
My pink peony.
It shows that I'm now back in my art studio and not working on the kitchen table.
Here's a link that shows the peony painting at it's conception...(click here if you missed it earlier)
I was obviously going through a pink stage, which for anyone who knows me knows that it isn't the norm for me. But I do love my pink peony in my garden but it's been so long since I last saw it...
Thankfully I can happily report that there's signs of life in the garden border at last.
New shoots have appeared... woohoo... spring has sprung.
I may have taken a step too far by adding some glitter to the tips of the petals on the main plant.
Call me reckless but I just couldn't stop myself.
I'm not sure it shows up very well in this photo, but it's there... well in fact it's EVERYWHERE!
And to think I was careful with my application, using it very sparingly.
I'm like a fairy sprinkling fairy dust as I go... it's now scattered throughout the house.
Just how far or easily can glitter travel?
Obviously far and wide! 
(I need to just whisper here that I'm not sure if it's actually finished or not... I know I said it was, but I'm still not sure? What do you think? All comments and advice gratefully accepted)

And so on to my second entry...
Now let me explain before we start... (why is there always an issue with me?)
I wanted to try to paint a perfume bottle like the extremely talented Tracey Fletcher King
Tracey's art and blog posts are legendary and she's going from strenght to strenght. 
No one deserves success more than her, so grab a cuppa (she'll approve trust me) and head over to her place. NO WAIT.... Maybe you should carry on here first and then look at her work. 
A sort of before talent and after! 

The next thing I need to explain is the actual perfume bottle itself.
This bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier's 'Classique' is nothing like what you'd be able to purchase today.
Mine has been fermenting like a great fine wine or a single malt whiskey.
Not intentially, but it has been lost and forgotten over time in the dark depths of an old overnight bag that I found when trying to find a boot to make up a matching pair.
(Another long story which I'll spare you of today)

Anyway... I did find the missing boot plus this bottle of perfume (but not in the same place) but the perfume colour has changed quite considerably
(possibly giving away just how long I've had it to an expert eye)
It actually still smells pretty good and I have to confess that I've been wearing it around the house... I'm not sure that I'm brave enough to wear it outside, although thankfully no-one's commented on a strange pong smell when I'm in their vicinity.
So I'm taking that as a positive.
(but can I just say here and now... I wouldn't say no to some new perfume if a certain someone wants to buy me some... ...if by some miracle he actually reads this blog)  
I was quite pleased at one stage with this, but as usual with me I went on and passed that stage when I should have known better and stopped.
There's so many faults here that I'll not bother explaining them... besides you'll know or see them for yourself.

I remember when my hubby actually bought me this perfume and I also remember being both delighted and quite shocked by the bottle. I'd never seen any other bottle quite like it.
So that should indicate just how many years ago it was when he bought it. 
But I'm sure my hubby was drawn to the perfume and smell and nothing else (hmm...)
I did have fun challenging myself with this one, because I didn't use any pencil lines at all.
Well almost until very near the end, then I used my Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils for the lettering and just a little touch here and there. 
Normally, I use a pencil, ruler and a lot of anxiety when drawing.
I have no idea why I get so hyped up, but I'm trying very hard to just loosen up. 
I think I've been saying that for years now...
Here's a sample of my gin bottle if you missed it from an earlier post which  shows how I would usually draw.

Time's marching on so let the party commence and don't forget to nip over to Tracey Fletcher King and Paint Party Friday for some amazing art work.
Paint Party Friday
I'm also linking up with Sunday Sketches too.
Here's the link...
Sunday Sketches

Have a wonderful weekend whatever you have planned... and until we meet again don't forget to have fun and keep smiling 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

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