Thursday, 26 March 2015

Sketches, a spider, and a couple of roos...

 Has it really been over two weeks since I last posted?!

Doctors, specialist visits, medical tests,
and family birthdays, including my own, were in there somewhere. 
My niece also gave birth to a beautiful 9lb baby girl 
who now shares the same birthday as my own daughter.
Doctors, specialist visits, and tests were more to do with my Mum 
who is dealing with some health concerns right now. 
Life can sure get busy fast around here.

I have managed a few sketches here and there.

One of my favourite cereals is the Be Natural range.
It's low in sugar and has no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives
 unlike so many of the supposed healthy cereals out there. 
I love mine best with soy added sweetener!

 I decided to use up the blue water-soluble ink that came with
my Lamy Safari fountain pen by doing some pen and wash sketches.
I didn't think I would but I like the variations with the LAMY blue ink.
I added some definition to Jack with some permanent black ink.
Sadly, for Jack, his skin condition persists
and I am now trying a natural, home-made pest repellent that
includes five aromatherapy oils mixed with water.
I spray it on him every morning before he goes outside to go toilet.
I'll keep you posted on how effective it is.

For the selfie sketch, I sat in front of a mirror
and sketched directly in pen (LAMY Safari; EF nib),
then used a water brush to wet and shade.
You might notice that my hair is now much shorter...
Yep, one morning, the scissors found their way magically into my hands
and, before I knew it, I was chopping away at my hair.
A whole 10" or 12" gone over a spur of the moment decision.
That's how I roll when it comes to my hair.

I didn't intend to go that heavy with the lip outline
but hey, when working directly with pen,
you have to accept and love the mistakes too.


OH, and for those wondering how things went with Charlotte
I did go out to look for her the next morning
and was very happy to see her and her web
glistening in the sun.

The view from side-on in the shade...

And just to show that spiders aren't the only creatures lurking around these parts,
I spotted these kangaroos grazing at dusk on a street two suburbs over.
The photos aren't great but I didn't want to get too close
and frighten them off.

 Nature is painting for us, day after day, 
pictures of infinite beauty 
if only we have the eyes to see them.
--- John Ruskin

Sunday, 8 March 2015

For the love of spiders

I like spiders...

and they seem to like me. 
I think spiders are handy to have around because
they help to keep the bug population down. 

In some Native American cultures, 
 A 'Spider' is seen as a symbol of Creativity. 
No surprise there considering the magnificent webs they weave. 


As for me, I can't bear the thought of killing a spider and,
if I do so accidentally, I can feel very guilty about it for hours afterwards.
Normally, I will safely relocate them to our pergola outside.
Growing up, my kids always knew to call for me
if they spotted a spider indoors.
Killing spiders is a taboo in my household.
That said, if a Red-back Spider crosses my path, 
I do help them get to spider Heaven quickly,
considering they are venomous.
After all, I also have an affinity with wolves
and a she-wolf fiercely protects her cubs and pack.

I have been seeing a few different spiders over the past two weeks.
A Golden Orb Weaver took up residence 
not far from my bedroom window under the house eaves.
I named her 'Charlotte'! 
No guessing required to know
where that name came from. hehe
Every morning, when I let the dogs out to do their business,
I'd pop on over to her web for a visit.
Yes, I sketched her too.
I'm linking up with Sunday Sketches HERE.

The real Charlotte, pictured below, in all her glory.
Note that she is missing a leg, poor thing.
I have no idea how it happened.

 A partial profile view of Charlotte, below.
She has quite a bulbous body in full profile.
You can see my bedroom window in the background.

And, below, a close-up of her trail of debris...
Yes, these spiders actually keep a graveyard for their victims in their web.
No, it is NOT a deterrent to other unsuspecting bugs,
unfortunately for them.
Note the yellow colour of her webbing,
hence the name Golden Orb Weaver.

 This morning, I had to carefully relocate Charlotte to our corner garden
because Aaron wanted to Gerni the eaves
and was quite cavalier about poor Charlotte's possible demise.
Believe me, I was not impressed with him!
I hope Charlotte will be happier and more safe in her new place.
She has moved out of sight for now but
I will be checking first thing tomorrow
hoping to see her radiant, golden web on display once more.

At our other back door where we pop out to the clothesline,
there are a group of St. Andrews Cross spiders.
I snapped a picture of this one yesterday.

This group lives happily among the snake plants.


Then, two nights ago, Bradley woke me up close to midnight
to inform me that 'a big, black bug' was on his bedroom wall.
Bradley is legally blind and didn't realise it was actually a Huntsman spider.
I was very relieved that it wasn't a nasty cockroach.
Being night time, and considering my sleepy state,
I didn't get a photo but this night-time 'visitor' was about 4½" across.
My biggest concern was whether, or not, I'd be able to house him
inside the disposable container without harming any of his legs.
My heart was aflutter I can tell you!
Lucky for me and him,
he cooperated and, once housed,
I was able to slide a Manila folder
underneath to form a rather loose seal.
Then I took him out to the pergola
where I hope he will be much happier....
considering there are way more bugs to feast on out there.


I've relocated a few different, but smaller, spiders over the past two weeks
Ones which had found themselves lost indoors.
In a way, I'm kinda relieved they find their way to our house
because, at least, they are given a second chance at survival.

Many may classify me as some weird Spider Lady but hey,
that's the way I roll....
or should I say 'weave'? 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sketches and new fountain pens!

Aaron, my baby, reluctantly went on his first ever school camp.  The camp was mandatory and it was a case of GO, or don't get graded for Biology. It was only an overnight camp but I still worried about him nonetheless and we missed him. They weren't allowed to take mobile phones or electronic devices so there was no communication at all.  I was very glad when he arrived back, safe and sound. Did I mention that Aaron is now in Year 11 at high school? hehe  My other four range in age from 26 to 31. I can't help it...I worry about them too. 

Sitting in the car, awaiting the return of the Biology students from camp,
I sketched my thermo-coffee-mug.

The next day I sketched the shoes I bought to wear to my daughter's wedding. 
I walked her down the aisle in these babies back in 2010.

The finished sketch

Poor Mister Jack has had a terrible time of it with severe skin allergies over the past four months. I've had him to the vet numerous times.  They even took a blood sample to check for hormonal imbalances.  The results were clear, thankfully.  

The vet and I did a Sherlock Holmes and have narrowed it down to the neighbourhood cats.  You see, we have lived here for eight years without incident and I've never seen a flea on our dogs because I treat them regularly.   However, over the past four or five months, we've had a few new people move into the area bringing their cats with them. The problem is that their cats seem to love our yard and the vet feels that the cats may be dropping fleas.  It only takes one flea bite for a flea-allergic dog to have a severe reaction. Even though the flea/s will die and drop off because I treat Cody and Jack, it doesn't stop the allergic reaction.  Jack's body develops clusters of pimple-like lumps and pustules that look so red and sore.  They cause a lot of pain and itching which naturally he will scratch and bite at.  I feel so bad for him.

Don't get me wrong, I love ALL animals but I'm not too keen on irresponsible cat owners who allow their cats to roam freely, to not only wreak havoc on our native wildlife but also, to poop and drop fleas in other people's yards.  Early one evening at dusk, I looked out my window to see THREE cats lounging in our yard.  Another morning, one was stalking a bird in our yard which I promptly stopped. We are constantly shooing cats out of our yard! Not happy, Jan!! It's not fair and I make no apology for my rant!  I have spent a lot of money trying to rectify the ongoing damage their cats are causing my dog.  Poor Jack has been miserable and has suffered horribly.  He has scratched and bitten himself raw in areas to the point of bleeding and causing secondary infections.  He has lost large areas of fur and his overall body hair has thinned dramatically. He has been on three rounds of antibiotics and cortisone treatments which have given temporary relief only.  I hate to see him in so much discomfort.  At the vet's advice, I have now started him on Comfortis which is a monthly oral treatment recommended for dogs with flea allergy.  I pray it makes a difference.

Poor Jack is not amused either!
Lucky for you, he is showing off his good side,
the other side of his body and his rump look ghastly, poor thing.


On a happier note, my fountain pen collection is GROWING!!! 
From the top:
White LAMY Joy with EF nib; contains permanent black ink
Neon Coral LAMY Safari with 1.1 Italic nib; contains permanent black ink
Yellow LAMY Safari with EF nib; contains blue water soluble ink
Platinum Carbon Pen - very fine nib - contains permanent black ink
Aren't they BEAUTIFUL?!!!  

This week, I'm linking up with Sunday Sketches HERE.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

some sketching...

Thank you all so much for the kind and caring words you left on the last post, and via email, regarding my Dad.  I appreciate it so much. Dad is doing much the same.  Morphine with sedative when required.  It continues to be a difficult time as it's so hard to see my Dad deteriorate like this. He is bedridden and sleeps a lot but we visit often. I'm going to pamper him with a manicure when I visit him tomorrow.  He enjoyed the last one I gave him.

I haven't found a lot of time for sketching due to visiting my Dad so much but I have grabbed pockets of time where I've been able to.  I'm not overly happy with the following sketches but I'm happy that I sketched something, at least.

On December 4th, Brad had an appointment at Vision Australia to register and become a member. He and I went crazy in their gadget shop for the visually impaired! I bought myself a magnifier lamp which has already come in very handy on my art desk.

Before Aaron went back to school after the Christmas holiday break, we took a drive out to the new Wyaralong Dam near Beaudesert.  It was lovely!  We will definitely be visiting again although, next time, we will take insect repellent!  I managed a very quick sketch of  my view before it started to rain, forcing us to head home early.  It was a nice day out regardless.

I've been taking Liz Steel's 'Sketching Now' online course which has been fantastic. Twelve weeks of fun and learning.  Liz is such a good teacher and puts so much time and effort into covering even the small details.  She is very in-depth and explains everything so clearly.  I've read and watched the videos each week but, as my free time has been limited, I'm only just starting to do homework where I can. Thankfully, the class material will remain available for at least twelve months which should give me plenty of time to catch up.

I created a colour mixing chart from my palette thanks to this very helpful post on Jenny's blog - How to make a watercolour chart. I had so much fun doing this that I'm sure it won't be the last colour mixing chart I do.

Another online class I registered for on Craftsy was Sketching People in Motion by Marc Taro Holmes.  Oh my, another gem of a class!  Marc is an amazing teacher and I'm keen to put some of his techniques into action.  I've actually been enjoying quite a few of the courses on Craftsy of late. Their classes are quite reasonable in price and they give life-time access...can't complain about that. 

I was one of the lucky backers who helped to make The Perfect Sketchbook a reality.  It was the brainchild of Erwin Lian Cherngzhi.  This sketchbook is gorgeous and a little bulkier in size compared to the Moleskine pocket watercolour notebook. I feel privileged to own one because I'm not sure that they will be produced again. It was a one time thing, however, Erwin did mention that he may attempt it once more for an A5 sketchbook.

I was very excited to receive my order for a carbon pen and cartridge from The Goulet Pen Company on Friday!  It was beautifully packaged and they even included a little treat.  I'm fairly new to sketching with fountain pens.  I only have two so far...notice that implies that there will be more. Me thinks I'm developing an addiction.  I LOVE sketching with my Lamy JOY and now this Carbon Pen.

To add a lovely end to my week, I had my two beautiful Granddaughters come for a sleep-over. Their Mummy and Daddy went out for a Valentine's dinner and a movie.  We had a great time with Mikayla and Maddy and I'm sure they enjoyed their visit too.  They have not long left to go home, bless their little hearts.  I miss them already.

Today, I'm linking up with Sunday Sketches HERE.

Until next time.....

Saturday, 7 February 2015

It's been a while...

I haven't posted since December 28th so I guess this is HAPPY NEW YEAR from me to you!  
May 2015 bring you lots of love, light, peace, and many blessings.

 We brought in 2015 at Michelle and Alex's place and we made a special toast to Dad shortly after. As you know my Dad hasn't been well and is now classified as Palliative Care so it's been a tough start to the year for us.  They have stopped all his medications and the plan is to keep Dad comfortable and pain-free.  It's not an easy road and this is part of the reason I haven't been posting on my blog, let alone keep up with friends' blogs.  I've been spending a lot of time visiting Dad at the Home.

Here is a recent photo of my beautiful granddaughters, Mikayla and Madelyn,
enjoying a treat while their Poppy sleeps peacefully in the bed beside them.


Mum had been sleeping over a couple of nights a week from October up until New Year. We're already looking forward to her next sleep-over.  As Mum and I love jigsaw puzzles, I couldn't resist buying one for us to work on together while she was here in December.  I also bought one for her to take home and do by herself.  We became quite addicted I can tell you. 

It was fairly large too at 1000 pieces.
The total measurement being 700mm/27½" x 500mm/20". 
We were very pleased with ourselves when it was done. 
Bradley even helped here and there too.


I haven't done a lot of sketching since my last blog post but I will share the ones I have done in future posts.  For now, I wanted to share a work-in-progress I'm painting for Aaron's room. It will be a silhouette of African animals against a rich sunset.

First layer

Second layer

I've had this painting on hold also but I'm hoping to find some time to finish it this month.

Stay tuned for more posts very soon....
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