The Shield Knot

A while ago I did some more carving.  I had some mahogany offcuts from a local timber yard and decided to make a family present from one of them.  I drew a shield knot onto the wood and then carved it out.  I used the same tools as I used for the Wand last Friday – but no Dremel.


The carving took over a week but was incredibly relaxing to do.  I really enjoyed it.  Once I had the carving work done I painted the carved areas with a dark brown acrylic paint, to make it really stand out, and then varnished the whole thing.

Here’s the finished work:

Shield Knot Carving1_WEB

And here’s a close up:

Shield Knot Carving2_web

Alohomora – Wandmaking Adventures!

Today my little dog brought me home a stick.  She doesn’t often do this because she usually loses them really quickly – she’s not the cleverest dog in the world – in fact my Dad thinks she has the brains of an aubergine!


So I was about to put the stick into the rubbish when I saw how straight it was.  I wondered what I could make out of it.  I’ve been reading a lot of J. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ recently so I thought I’d try to make a wand out of it.  I got out my carving tools and had a go:


Here’s the stick in it’s ‘dog-scrounged’ form:

bonnie's stick

First I stipped the bark off:


Then I could see how good or bad the wood really was.  It wasn’t great…


Both ends were moulded and split:

end2 end1

But the stick was much longer than I needed so I cut those bad ends off:


And I began to carve a handle shape on the thicker end:


(In this picture you can also see my dog’s tooth marks in the wood!)

Once I’d got the basic shape I got out my Dremel and began to clean it up and smooth it out in earnest until it looked properly wand-like:

shaping fishined,jpg

The next job was to sand it, paint  and varnish it.  I decided to paint the handle only and leave the varnished wood on the main shaft.  I used acrylic paint – blue and gold – and Yacht Varnish for it’s high shine.  It took three days for the various coats of varnish to dry but here it is:


I might give this as a gift to a child who’s into Harry Potter.  I did try it 😉 but sadly it’s doesn’t do any magic – you just can’t get the unicorn hair these days!  Good fun for kids though.

Dawn in the Meadow – Acrylic on Watercolour Paper

Last night I saw a brilliant speed painting on YouTube.  It’s by a super artist who’s channel is  StudioSilverCreek .  There’s lots of lovely painting to watch there.  Here’s the video I watched:

I didn’t know you could paint with Acrylics on watercolour paper so I thought I’d give it a go. Initially my plan was to work on a study of the original painting by StudioSilverCreek – just to see if I could make it work.

So I began the same way:




But as I thought about drawing the person going fishing (as seen in the original) I decided to make some changes.  Instead I drew two sillouettes – one of a bird and one of a person kneeling in the meadow.  I got both the bird and the person to look at the same place and then drew a small flower there as the primary focus for the painting.  I’m quite pleased with how it worked out.  The watercolour paper was OK.  At first I had some difficulties with bits of paper rubbing off but I was using a decorating brush at the time – it might be a bit harsh!  🙂  After the first layer or two were dry though the surface improved and was absolutely fine.

Here’s the finished painting:


Credit to StudioSilverCreek for this study, as I was learning from her work.  🙂

Dobby – A Watercolour Portrait

I decided to do a portrait today of a personal hero – Dobby the House Elf (from Harry Potter).


I began with a sketch. I don’t know if you can see it (below), but made him smile a bit more – I wanted a happier elf.


And then began to paint.  I approached the actual painting in a series of discrete washes, starting from light coloured ones and moving towards darker coloured ones.  (This is a method I’ve read about in a Water colour book:


So here are some photos of the painting as it progressed.

dobbypaint1 dobbypaint2

And here it is finished:



An Accidental Watercolour Portrait

Quite by accident I started to work on a watercolour portrait today.  It began with a quick and dirty sketch of Ralph Fiennes from the cover of a DVD he starred in which was lying about in my living room – ‘The Constant Gardener’

Here’ the DVD cover:

DVDHere’s the sketch:

sketchThen I went over the sketch using a black watercolour pencil and used a wet brush to make some gradations in the tone and ‘colour-in’ some parts.

ralph_watercolour_sketchFinally I added some browns and some blues to the picture.  Because it was initially only a sketch it wasn’t on watercolour paper and so I got bumps and dips all over the place but I was pleased with it.  It has a loose sketchy feel which I like.

The I tried again – this time on watercolour paper and with a little more colour:

ralph_paint_1It started out OK, but then I messed it up:

Ralph Fiennes Watercolour Portrait_FIN_WEBDoing the background was really difficult with the watercolour pencils, plus it was getting on for bedtime and I didn’t have the patience to wait for some bits to dry with horrible consequences.  Plus, I decided to use blue as a background colour and I don’t feel that it really works how I envisaged.  In the end I salvaged what I could from it by trimming the painting to a near close-up but it’s not how I wanted it to be.

However, all of that said, I learned loads from making a bit of a mess of it and got a taste for working on portraits in watercolour.  😀  I’ve never done portraits in any paint before, except for one I did for my sister, of her and her two sons in acylics, but it was a portrait of their backs so there were no faces to paint.  I find faces a bit tricky to look at, but it’s OK if it’s on a picture and not in real life and if I’m looking at bits of it, rather than the whole – that helps too.  I quite like this picture of Mr Fiennes too because he’s looking sideways which feels more relaxing.  Tomorrow I’m going to try another watercolour portrait.

Holiday Painting #4

The last holiday painting I did is of the plants outside the dining room window in the Centre we were staying in – ‘Heatree Activity Centre’

Here’s my reference:

art_window_reference_WEBI decided to leave out the building opposite to keep things more simple.  I’d never realised before I read this brilliant watercolour tips book I was readig at the time that you are allowed to miss things out.  It’s kind of liberating, but also kind of a lie.  I’m sure how I feel about the practice really.

So here’s the picture:


Holiday Painting #3

This was paintined on the shallow up-slope to Haytor, whilst a number of fitter church folk, including my son, climbed to the top.

Again I took a reference photo although I took it quiet far into the painting when it began to look like rain.  I think it would be better to take it at the beginning next time as then I would get the same light and cloud-cover as I had when I began.

Art_Haytor_reference_WEBHere’s the painting:


Holiday Painting #2

This second painting was done looking at a show garden in a place called ‘Trago Mill’.  The show garden I was attracted to was quite classical.  Here’s my reference photo:


In this case I did need the photo as it started spitting halfway through the painting.  It was great to be able to pack up and get dry and know I’d not lost the picture.

Here is the final picture:

TregoMillGarden_WEBI was quite self-conscious painting this in public.  Most people very helpfully left me to it although a couple of folk said hello and made encouraging comments.  I found the complex hard landscaping quite difficult to draw in terms of perpective and had to try a few times before I got something OKish.  I think it could still be better.

Holiday Painting #1

While I was on holidays in the West Country I did some painting.  Before I went I pared down my art equipment to something small which I could carry – although it doesn’t look very small when spread out here!


The first picture I did was just a few yards from the centre.  Here’s a reference photo:


I did this one on a watercolour postcard so it took just a few minutes.  For my taste the colours are a bit bright adn the whole thing looks a bit too twee.  But it was a good exercise to get my painting head on.