Friday, 13 January 2012

Hello and Happy 2012

So, it's been nearly a year since my last post, not exactly a regular Blogger am I?
We have arrived in 2012 and I find it hard to believe that's the case but time just flits by.

I have been really working hard on my Scratchboards and it was a brilliant year for me. I am now in The Wye Gallery in Hay-on-Wye selling loads of mounted prints and have also sold some original works in various other places.

I will be doing several exhibitions and the Crickhowell Art Trail so lots to do this spring to prepare....

The first one is at Craft Renaissance Gallery, Kemeys Commander nr Usk first week of February onwards. Framed Prints and cards, some original work still there. Go to my News Page on for latest info.

I just started a Reindeer today, I had a break over Christmas and am finding it hard to get back in the creative groove. It's always the same when I stop to top up stocks of cards and prints the Muse disappears in a huff and leaves me feeling a void where my images come from. Ah well it will return.

 I see the primulas are just starting to show their little heads in the front garden and now the frosts have returned to nip them. I feel like putting a hat over them for protection but they are fairly tough.

This is just a get into the mood of blogging again read so I wish you all the very best for this momentous year and I shall sign off with another cheery pic to lift the spirits.

    love to all, Kay

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A short break

Well, a lovely blue sky sunny day at last. I worked hard this morning scaling up a sketch for a pastel I'm doing and then going out to sweep the yard after all the storms. The big conifers had shed a mass of old needles and small twigs all over the place and the blackbirds in their eating habits had thrown leaf litter off the flower beds just to improve things further.

It was freezing cold but I needed the fresh air. I put food out for the birds when I finished and returned indoors just in time to snap our new local resident.
It doesn't eat for long so the birds still get plenty.
While I was sweeping up I found a dead lady blackbird behind the recycle bin in the corner. I think she must have died of the cold. I kissed her and buried her in deep leaf litter under the hedge, it always makes me sad even though I know it's natural.

I then decided to go over to Crickhowell for lunch. It is a small town on the river Usk 15 minutes away by car and a lovely drive over the mountain. I had a bowl of Spicy Red Lentil soup in my fav' cafe (the Courtroom) and then walked down to the river.


The water has gone down swiftly since I was here last weekend when it looked like it was going to flood.
I love this town and would live here if I could, however I may be able to afford a garage for my car but certainly not a house. So I live where I do and enjoy the wonderful views as I come down from the heights into the valley.

I'll post more pics later but here is the view from the other side of the bridge just to whet your appetite.So I enjoyed my walk in the sunshine and came home to get on with my work.

Forgive the formatting please it seems to have a life of it's own tonight.

I sold three paintings last week by the way, of my Poppy girls so now have to get busy. I have been so busy with the Etsy Shop and the Scraperboard I have neglected the pastels. Watch this space.

Here is a little corner of my studio with autumn leaves and berries and some favourite pots I bought last year. It seems only days ago since I collected them.

From my diary: the Hag of winter keeper of the bare bones of the earth, preserver of life gone underground and the juices of the green world prepares to withdraw, to make way for the spring maiden but not quite yet. Frost thick and hard last night and the blossoms on my Witch hazel were curled up tight. The thrush fed at the bird table and then flew to the top of the Ash tree and sang his I'm here song. Oh, joy.

I saw snowdrops in the hedge on my way home, we are about a month behind lots of other places because we are also nearly 1000 ft up so our snowdrops are not up yet. Goodnight anyone who may still be awake I'm off to my bed.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

How to Scratch Kay's way

Fabulous but freezing sunny day. Have fed the birds so now to catch up on my blog. I treated myself to a new camera yesterday ready to do lots of snaps for my blog.

I just opened an Etsy shop ( and it's getting a lot of attention and some queries on the how do you do that theme about the Scratchboard. So, here is my answer, I hope you find it useful/interesting.

Photo 1.
Tools of the craft. I know many scratchers use all kinds of tools but the most imortant thing is to keep the poinst sharp and start with a gentle touch. Once its scraped away ti never looks the same if you ink it in and do it again.

1. Before you can scratch you need your tools. So here above you see:-
Sketch Book
Tracing paper pad
soft cheap paint brush (to brush dust off your board and table)
putty rubber to remove trace lines
spare blades
basic box of blades
sharpening block
scraper board
white graphite paper (dressmakers tracing paper will do)
two pens,one red one blue/black. I use waterproof Uniball eye micro by Mitsubishi other makes are just as good.
any paper will do to sketch on, greaseproof paper to trace your image will do.
I get my Scraperboards, Cutting tools etc from  but the other things are mostly got from local shops.
The White Graphite transfer paper is by Royal Langnickel (RD201) and i found it in The Heaton Cooper Studio shop in the Lake District when I was on holiday there. (Oh what a paradise for artists that is.)

Photo 2.
2. Trace your drawing.
First secure your tracing paper to the edge of the drawing so it doesn't move.
Trace your drawing, photo etc with a waterproof ink pen in red. Trace as much detail as you need to. You can raise one edge to see how it is progressing.
I start at the top left corner so I don't smudge the ink. I'm right handed. Continue until it is all done then carefully remove the tracing paper. Put your ref' photo aside for now.

Photo 3.
Transfer to Scraperboard.
I attach my s'board to a cutting boards reverse side as it is a good flat smooth surface. I use masking tape on all four sides overlapping by quarter of an inch, this leaves a nice black edge around your finished design.
Now lay your tracing onto the board and line it up how you want it and tape down one side to stop it slipping. Put your carbon paper between the two and using the Blue/Black pen begin in the top left corner to draw over the traced design. You will see easily where you've drawn as the red lines disappear under the darker colour.
Complete the drawing and remove it from your scraperboard.

Photo 5.
Begin to scratch.
You are now ready to scratch your design.
 I of course assume you've done some practice strokes with all the little red handled pointy tools.
 If like me you go in at the deep end you will learn by trial and error and maybe waste some boards but I have more patience now than I did two years ago.
Gradually work the design. I tend to go over the main components of the out line first with the flowers I do but  that's just my way. I then fill in blocks lightly at first so I can judge the mid tones and work up the areas of pure white.
As you go along blow the dust away so you can see your progress and sweep it off with your brush not your hand. Do not get your fingers on
the board as they leave greasy marks which spoil the black areas.
I put a piece of kitchen roll under my hand when I work. As I complete sections I rub out the white lines of the tracing with my putty rubber to leave just the clear scatched lines.
A work in progress.
It takes me many hours to do one of these, this Morning Glory took approx' 42 hours, but you can start small with a little heart or a leaf, something simple then add a bit to it.
Play, I have not been good at this over the years but as I get older it seems more important to try to recover this element of exploring things.

and in closer, it's just like drawing but with the point removing the black instead.

and completed

I used the original tracing of the first version of this and then added new tendrils and leaves to it. Each copy is always different you just can't make it an exact copy even if you tried.

I have looked over this and realise it is quite hard to do these step by step things but you have to be there as they say, To see the strokes arrive and build up is intriguing but would make a boring post.
If you have any questions please email me.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

New Year - New Shop

Well, it seems to be going at a phenomenal speed, January that is. Can't believe we are at the 22nd already and I'm flat out working.

Mind you I've spent the last week uploading items to my new Etsy Shop and stretching my brain to learn how to do all these things.
Wow! I have a shop to sell my cards and prints and artwork. It is far from all encompassing yet but my Scraperboards are on there and some prints and a couple of pastel images too.

 If you are in the UK you can have cards or prints in a few days. Check out the details but I warn you it is a place you can explore for hours so buy what you want from me before you go down the ETSY rabbit hole.
Let's take an interlude to look at the joy outside my window. Imagine tinkly music or birdsong.

Aah! I came down the other morning, rolled up the blind and there it was, glorious and the perfume is gorgeous. I keep dashing out the door to sniff it in, bellissima. Oh it's a Witch Hazel bush.

I want to assure you I have faith in this year. Last year was just hard graft with some amazing spots of reward then more graft.
I feel this year thanks to all that, is going to be much more rewarding and interesting and of course exciting.

So, back to info. In May I shall be exhibiting in the CRiK Art trail (28th, 29th, 30th May) in and around Crickhowell, Powys. If you don't know this area in the Brecon Beacons National Park then redress that this Spring. It is fabulous and they have a cafe, the Courtroom Cafe which I have a wall of art in and they do fab food. Other cafe's are available and lots of other things to do but eat and drink.

They also have a superb Art Gallery in the CRiC Resource Centre, next to the carpark which has a monthly exhibition of stunning work. What are you waiting for?
I actually would like to live in that area but we can't afford to so we are 15 mins away by car and spend quite a lot of time over there. My husband Dek teaches Chi Gong at the CRiC Centere and at Arts Alive.

I will also be at Wilton Castle, nr Ross-on-Wye over the weekend of 14th, 15th, 16th of May. More details later. If you want an invite email me.
Another breath. I was watching the birds in my garden stoking up on bashed up Fat balls and ground peanuts this morning and amazed at the variety in the garden.
The light on the salmon pink chests of the Bullfinches was stunning, the Robins looked a bit out faced by them. I adore watching the birds they give me pure joy.

So I guess I'd better get back to my Scraperboard of Morning Glory Vine No2. I am doing this to get back into the groove you might say as you need to flex your muscles with this craft like any other. I have some ideas for some mystical female figures which I want to have completed by the May deadlines and more Hares. Must go now or it's not going to happen, watch this space!!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The year has turned

So, here I am in 2011 Happy New Year to you all  and I have to say I feel much more positive setting out down the road of this year than I did in 2010. That felt like it was going to be hard and I was starting feeling fairly whacked out to begin with. It did turn out to be challenging but also many really good things came from it and it improved a lot as the year moved on.

Today after one week I have done some clearing out (an ongoing task) and nearly organised my desk so I can find things. I've made a preliminary to do list which will change by the day and set myself some new goals for my business.

I am opening an online shop by the end of the month from my website for cards and prints. This is a big move for me, feels scary but no doubt will fall into a routine as weeks go by. I am finalising info to get it finished  such as posting costs and printing fees etc so I don't shoot myself in the foot. I've been reading up in various places and they all say this is a danger area, like selling on ebay and ending up paying more to ship your item than you get for it. Pricing is a nightmare.

Today I shall be putting together more card stock and then turning to some new work. Is the day that long? It is very dark, we had a load more snow yesterday but it turned to rain so over night it has gone. That's a blessing as we are going across to our friends in the Forest of Dean for a curry party and so many things didn't happen over the hols I am really looking forward to this.

Now must make some Cranberry and apricot porridge to set me up for work and get on.

The blue butterflies are to reming me of colours to come. They were watercolours I did a while ago.
Have a good year.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

- Deep Winter- snow on snow.

Unusually we have been having a lot of snow for the UK and we have only been out of our little town twice this month. We have walked into town for emergency shopping and it is so cold -8 today.

Now I know there are those who have it much worse and regularly and my heart goes out to you, truly but I hate the cold and my bones feel frozen stiff. I go out and feed the birds in a morning while my porridge is cooking ( it sticks to your ribs and lasts well). They are lined up in the trees in the garden waiting. They are such a joy to me all year so I will get a new stock in when we can get to the garden centre. I have used my winter supply already, refuse to think about the fuel bills for us.

Anyway, I am during these wintry days. busy sorting my studio out and trying to get rid of the dross that seems to become a mountain so quickly.

I have had a very busy Autumn taking cards, prints and original work to Galleries. I am so pleased with the response to my Scraperboard work, it's been a long time coming but I love this media and it seems others do too. So a big thankyou to you all.

Here is a little singing Wren to cheer the winter blues away.