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This month I am continuing with the theme of colour, as touched upon in March, but in the composition of a picture and what you see.


Whenever I have a picture in mind, or a sculpture, I spend a lot of time investigating the various elements that go to create the finished piece. Most of my work involves depicting animals in some shape or form so I spend a lot of time observing those animals and making numerous sketches, and even taking photographs if possible. Photographs make a very good visual record that can be referred to when back in the studio.


Many photographs I take are purely for reference purposes but even so I still try and compose them in such a way that the information they hold can be used as a reference  point at a later date, and frequently for an entirely new project.


A lot of the time the subject matter of a photograph happens by pure chance; I frequently carry my camera when out walking (despite it's rather cumbersome nature) as you never know when a photo opportunity will arise!

 Now to these pictures. What I would like you to note is not only the use of colour but how that colour is dispersed throughout the picture.


I'll explain further. We frequently draw a blue sky, green grass, brown trees etc., but in those simple colours are a multitude of other colours which are generally very subtle and not so easily noted unless looked for.


The first photograph shows some cup holders. We were outside and I just wondered if the colours of the cup holders actually could be seen in the scenery around us - and yes they can!


I love the picture of the two baby squirrels not only because it was such a wonderful and unique experience, but because the colours of the squirrels are mimicked in those of the tree and the background; nature blends and compliments with itself.

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(For those unfamiliar with Instagram, the video will repeat, repeat, repeat........until you click on it again to stop it. A rather irritating feature that may one day be  modified)

 One snowy evening I was out with our dog and the sun was low. The glow of the orange on the snow set off the golden colour of our dog's fur, and is also reflected in the shower of snow that she shook from her body.


And now to the cats - in their eyes you can also see the colour of their surroundings. The images are both of entirely different colour combinations yet they create an image that encompasses the colouring of the cat with that of their surroundings.


Observing animals can also help to create them in a very simple form. I have a love-hate relationship with technology!  For example a digital camera allows you to take a multitude of photographs and to delete those you don't like; gone are the days when a film was taken to the developer (or you'd do your own) and you never knew if that 'shot' came out alright until the film was printed. Digital photography gives you a new found freedom even though analogue probably gives a better picture. And sadly so many pictures are 'computer enhanced' that it can be quite insulting when people assume ALL photos are computer enhanced and forget the skill of the person behind the lens!

Whilst I love the creativity technology allows, I also love being able to depict something in very basic terms knowing that the image conveys everything it has to in a very simple form. With the use of an ink pen and a few lines, a recognisable cat is created!


I drew the cat face and videoed it as it is rather a neat way of showing how an image can be created. However I am not a great fan of the perpetual re-play feature....I hope you can view the image and stop the video as and when you want!!!


So remember, it's not just blue sky, white sand, green leaves, brown earth - it's every colour of the rainbow (and more!) in everything we see around us. You can add purple to shading in a watercolour, or a yellow wash over the lighter half of a leaf, or a red wash to the dark side; incorporating other colours into a picture adds a greater dimension. Just by looking at the photographs illustrated here, you can see how colours are everywhere, both alone, blended, reflected and repeated.


This is being posted a little late as I succumbed to one of those awful late winter viruses. It's amazing how something so tiddly as a virus can cause such discomfort!!


Whilst ill I was contemplating what I could do for my newsletter in replace of my planned subject matter. I had planned to show the start of my next Pen & Ink drawings but it's impossible to draw with a snuffly nose!


So, plan B. I know I talked about ice rain in January, but these pictures show you the very pretty side of ice rain! It's difficult to imagine a world that looks like glass, and then one that sparkles with all the colours of the rainbow as the sun falls upon the frozen water and is dispersed into a multitude of miniature rainbows; I may be childish, but I just love those rainbows!

When the sun shone it not only brightened the world but also warmed up the air such that the ice started to melt. It poured off the tree trunks in little water falls. The warmth also shattered the frozen encasements of the branches which then showered down to the ground making a most tremendous noise.


And if you are wondering, the blue of the sky is real!!

For some reason the trees being coated in ice and the joy of the rainbows made me think of the story about Pollyanna. She was a little girl created by author Eleanor.H Porter in a novel written in 1913. Pollyanna plays a game which consists of trying to find something to be glad about in every situation - particular the not so good ones.


Sometimes we can be so engrossed in the complexities of life that we forget to enjoy the simple factors. To see the ice crystals vibrating with light was a beautiful experience which is a very stark contrast to the awful impact ice rain can have when you are trying to get somewhere and have to negotiate the treacherous roads......one of the few times to cancel outings and stay at home! But with a Pollyanna 'glad thought' in mind these pictures show that ice rain can be enjoyed!


In one of my childhood memories I remember rainbows dancing on the floor as light was diverted by a small crystal chandelier that an aunt had. How amazing light is. The colours we see aren't really the true colour of the object. For instance a leaf isn't really green however bizarre that seems! Light is carried in different wavelengths (hence the rainbow) and what ever light waves are not absorbed by the object they hit we see as a 'colour'.  This phenomena gives us the impression that the subject matter is that colour, for example, green leaves of a tree, but our eyes are being deceived.


I often wonder what colours the world might be if we had different visual receptors. The photograph below has had the colour enhanced very slightly. I just loved the splurge of multicoloured spheres and halos and just wondered if this is what some insects 'see'. Can you imagine a world that vibrant! It would be a bright contrast to these dreary, sunless days!



Whilst tidying one of my art work drawers I came across some letters I'd written to my grandmother. My aunt had kept them as I'd illustrated the pages with little diagrams, drawings, and attached pieces of fabric from various projects I was doing.


I remembered how much I enjoyed doing those small pen and ink illustrations so I decided I'd allow myself some time to 'play' and make a fancy letter for March. The daffodils aren't out yet so it is a bit of 'wishful thinking' and probably more aligned to April, but daffodils make such lovely simple designs that I couldn't resist drawing them!

And this final picture for the month is one of the adorable red squirrels that frequents our window sill. They are very friendly, noisy and such fun to watch!

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February is one of those months when spring starts to become a reality....


We have had a lot of snow, really cold weather, warmer weather bringing a huge melt, thunderstorms and now snow again! When the snow melted back it revealed the eager shoots of the daffodils making their way out of sleep to become flowers in the not too distant future.


It never ceases to amaze me how these tender life forms -which would wilt if put in our deep-freezes - are able to withstand the sub-zero temperatures of the outdoors! I am looking forward to the warmer weather but do ironically enjoy the snow.

I can't say I enjoy the ice! At one point if I had had ice skates, bright lights and good music I could have used our driveway as a very effective ice skating rink; this does of course, assume that I can skate, which I can't!!


One day our largest Maine Coon decided to brave the outdoors. He was totally perplexed by the cold and strange white stuff that he found; it  certainly wasn't the lush warm grass that he'd become accustomed too last summer. Needless to say he retreated indoors to the warmth of the fire very quickly!


I am so happy to say that I have now finished my Snail Racing series! At last the winner has crossed the line, ribbons awarded and the coveted trophy handed to the happy winner!


I have posted two pictures, The first is the beginning of the drawing with the outlines being drawn and the second is the finished page. There might not seem an awful lot of difference but the extra shading gives dimension to the characters and objects, and the addition of whiskers give life to the faces.


Now I have to put all the drawings together and work out just how many more are needed to make the book complete...It is quite daunting just how many are needed to make the final book substantial enough.


Last April I mentioned our phenomenon of ice rain. Seems like an oxymoron - how can it rain and be ice? Not rain as we know it, not ice either, but water that falls as rain but freezes instantly as ice, coating everything it touches and turning the world into one that looks as if it's made of glass, but one that is also treacherous to be out in. Driving becomes tricky if not impossible and walking likewise. Usually these conditions last a day and then thaw but we are now into day 3 with our driveway like a skating rink, and the trees still bearing their new coats. When you can't go out then photography is very useful!!


How can an icy world that prevents us from leaving the house, be turned into something appealing? By looking for patterns and images, and the changes in light and colouring....It'd be even prettier with a blue sky and sunshine!


You can see from the photos how the water is literally frozen in motion; a drip that can't drip as it has become a solid. When this ice starts to come off the trees the noise is amazing with all the crackling and cracking and the ice showering the ground in large volumes.

And branches aren't just brown as the photo with the horizontal demonstrates; beneath the ice is a motley pattern in shades of green created by the trees own bark melded with various lichens.


Some trees haven't totally discarded their leaves so the orange hues make a lovely back-drop to the ice encased branches. The close up photo to the right shows the ice becoming crazed, yet the branch is still not able to set itself free.

I am pleased to have been able to complete two more pages of my Snail Racing series (which I started last year. Images of the first few pages can be seen in News Letters from January to April 2016).


The two-paged 'race' depicts the hazards of snail racing  i.e. they don't always go in the direction you want them to go!



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