The Art of Sandra Busby...
Painter of Playful Light in Glass and Still Life


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Well, it's almost time - and there is still so much to do!

There are those last few presents to buy, there's the wrapping to do, the cards to write and send, the food shopping - you know, all of those last minute things? 

Still, it's a nice feeling when it's all done and we finally get to relax and enjoy the festivities with a nice glass of Baileys... Ahh, Baileys! Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without it!

Christmas will be a little different this year because my eldest has now flown the nest. 
Up until now, every Christmas morning we would hear the kids excited whispers at around 6am as they discovered their present filled stockings! 
We have them well trained though; They would always bring us in a cup of tea with their stockings, before sitting at the end of our bed and opening the little presents inside - one of which, would always be a tangerine. It's funny how those little things that you remember as a child carry on for your own children!

Next, I would hurry downstairs and turn on the fairy tree lights, Paul would make another cup of tea and then we would all sit around the tree and take it in turns to open some more presents. 
I imagine that this year we will all do exactly the same as we have always done, it's just that for the first time, Adele won't be here with Charlie in the morning... :0(

When they were really young, they used to get so excited that Santa had 'really been'! This magic was very much fueled by the fact that every year, Father Christmas would spell my Daughters name wrong!
One year he even knocked the fire-guard over and left big boot prints on the floor. And then there was the year that he must have been running late because instead of arranging the presents nicely around the tree, he literally emptied his sack down the chimney and all of the presents were spilling out from the chimney breast! 

...And what child doesn't get exited when they realise that the mince-pies, brandy, milk and carrots that they had left out for Father Christmas and the Reindeer's the night before, have all gone!

Christmas when I was little was always full of magic. I used to be so exited by the fact that when I was asleep, a jolly man in a red outfit would land on the roof in his sleigh and leave lots of presents! So I tried to make that magic last as long as possible for my own children too.

Right now, I am sitting in my living room by the little orange fairy lights of the Christmas tree, which the kids put up together on Sunday afternoon. It looks so pretty! And since it's such a busy time, this will be my final post of 2010, so I wanted to make it a little festive. 

I enjoyed everything about this painting, from thinking it up to setting it up, right up to the last brush stroke.

Before I go, I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you, my bloggy friends and followers SO much for all of your lovely comments throughout 2010!

My next post will be in January and this is when my usual, more regular, weekly bloggy activity will start again. 
In the mean time, have a FANTASTIC Christmas and I wish each and every one of you a very creative and wonderful 2011!!!!

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Red is my absolute favorite colour (closely followed by hot orange and warm pink). 
That might explain why Poppy's are my very favorite flower (closely followed by red Tulips). 

I have never yet come across a red so striking and with such brilliance, than that of these beautiful flowers as they bask their delicate and translucent petals beneath the golden sunshine.

A friend of mine has a spectacular display of Poppy's, which prance proudly in the breeze in one sunny corner of her garden. Of course they are not there at the moment, but each year when the sunshine arrives, they spring up and shout, 'Look at me!!!'

She says that they have never once planted poppy's and that she can only imagine that they are there because it's the very corner of the garden where they empty their toaster tray on a regular basis. 
I imagine that the poppy seeds from the bread decided that it would be the perfect place to set up home :0)

I finished painting this today, and though there is an abundance of beautiful things to paint in the autumn, sometimes it's nice to be reminded of summer too :0)

© Sandra Busby. 8 x 20 inches, Acrylic on canvas

There is not a red in the palette that could possibly equal the vibrancy of the real thing, but I know exactly where this painting is destined to hang - and it will compliment its surroundings just perfectly!

I am more than a little frustrated with the photograph of this painting because the stalks, which are actually green - look brown and not only that but a lot of the detail in the petals has been lost, so the photograph doesn't do the painting justice. Never mind. I am very happy with the real thing :0)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A girls best friend II (after the dishwasher!)

The autumn leaves have almost all fallen now and though some of the trees have lost much of their autumn beauty, for now it's a lovely sight to see all of the school kids walking ankle deep through a crispy carpet of golden leaves along the pathways, kicking them up in the air for fun as they trudge their way home.

I have always imagined it would be such a nice feeling to walk barefoot across the crunchy leaves, in a park somewhere. 
The only thing that stops me is the fact that I can't see what's underneath - and of course there is the occasional dog owner who 'forgets' to pick up after their pet! 

I think that it might somehow spoil my fantasy of skipping along, barefoot in a floaty dress, throwing the leaves in to the air, twirling beneath the autumn confetti, with the leaves stuck between my toes... if I should then look down to find something 'else' stuck between them too - Ugh! 
So - I will just have to stick to my boots. Humph!

I do love the autumn, but I miss wearing my girly shoes! Especially these ones - my favorites...

© Sandra busby. 8 x 8 inches, Acrylic on canvas

What girl doesn't just LOVE shoes :0D

I am dedicating this 'girly' post to my sister, who has great taste in shoes and who lives with her husband and three boys and is consequently surrounded by a thick fog of testosterone! 
Though my daughter flew the nest just last week, I only have two boys to contend with - one being my husband!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Seaside villains...

Of all the birds I have ever come across, these guys are one of my favorites. 
They're not rare, nor are they blessed with splendid beauty - but I have never yet met any other bird with such unconcealed boldness, personality and character!

© Sandra Busby. Pen, ink and watercolour

They are such crafty and cunning little crooks - I have seen them steal everything from a cherry in a cocktail glass, to a whole ice-cream from a child's hand! 

Last year, one of these rascals even stole a sausage whilst it was still cooking on our barbecue - That was surprise enough, but I was actually turning the sausages at the time! You have to admire such barefaced, unashamed bravery don't you?

© Sandra Busby

Apart from that, they remind me of my first love - the sea!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Daddy's Home!

Well, here it is - that long awaited 'shoe painting'! 

© Sandra Busby. Watercolour.

Actually, I completed this several days ago.  I was just reluctant to post it - mainly because I had shared with all of you such expectations in which I would finally produce a still life, with 'life'! 
Well, I do believe I have done that, it's just that the vision I had in my head, is entirely different to what I see on the paper! 
Now, I'm not sure if I like it or not. I don't hate it... Um... I'm just not sure! What do you think?

In a recent post by Crystal Cook, she talked about how sometimes it is a good idea to make lists of what you like about your work and why we paint. I thought about this for a while and decided to note what I do like about the painting rather than focusing on what I don't.

So - I like the sentiment behind the painting. I like the title I gave it too - 'Daddy's Home'. I like that my brush strokes were lively and not over cautious as they usually are, I like that it is very different to what I have done before and I like that I am one step closer to creating paintings with an individual style.

Crystal didn't mention listing the things you don't like - I'm sure that is definitely not what she had in mind! But me, being me will do that anyway - and that actually helped me to get my head around the painting because I realised that there is nothing about the painting I really don't like, but rather things that I am simply 'uncomfortable' with. 
The style is very different than my usual, which is surely not a bad thing - but I suppose I am naturally more of a realist, so this type of painting feels quite alien to me. I find myself wondering that if someone else had painted it, whether I would then really like it..?

Unusually for me, I stood to paint the shoes. This helped me to stand back and 'lunge' with my brush! Okay, so I didn't really lunge, but, I do think that standing helped me to let go a little!
The painting filled a large sheet of A2 paper, which was almost completely upright on an easel to encourage drips, though I actually mopped them up when they occurred because I thought that they just didn't look right. 

Because the shoes were sitting on and expanse of neutral coloured carpet on a dull day, I had to make up a background and exaggerate the light.  I deliberately left my rough pencil marks in and used loose translucent brush marks and spatters to suggest a wet, textured tiled floor, dirtied by the shoes. 
I used fresh, clean washes on the little shoes, yet deliberately muddied up the faded old work boots. For those, I used more layers of pigment, which I then lifted off in places with damp cotton wool to help describe those faded areas - Quite effective... I think? 

If I could change something now, I think another small item such as a bunch of keys or a small toy in the picture would have helped - odd numbers of items definitely help a composition. 

I think I will get very mixed reviews on this painting. My husband was very unsure at first. He doesn't get the whole 'spattering' thing. Having said that, the painting seems to have grown on him and he says he now actually quite likes it!

Yesterday morning I sketched my husbands other boots - his newer ones, which were sitting in the hallway. It took around ten minutes.

Pen and Ink

How ever much I try to talk myself into liking the painting - I still prefer this pen sketch!

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Fellow blogger Sue Pownell contacted me a few days ago and said that the 'Urban Sketchers' theme will shortly be dogs. She challenged me to draw a dog, post it on my blog and she would do the same.

Sue will have a hard job trying to find a dog where she is - but I am lucky enough to have the perfect model right here! Her name is Codi.

I took an opportunity this morning to sketch her face in charcoal whilst waiting for the weekly shopping to arrive. I could have gone on to draw her whole body too, in fact, I could have done a lot more with just her face and created something far more special, but I have another painting waiting for me to complete and I have very little time today in which to do it, so I decided to just sketch her best bit - that beautiful face :0)

© Sandra Busby. Charcoal

Hmm.. I should have suggested her neck - Oh well.

I have done a full pastel drawing of her before, which you can see here. But this charcoal sketch didn't take me much time to do at all, maybe 25 minutes? 

I forget how much I love charcoal and all of those other mediums which are well within my comfort zone. I miss them! For now, I will struggle on with watercolours until I have significantly improved :0)

Anyway - before I go, here are some photograph's of the real Codi, which I took on our woodland walk yesterday...


And as Autumn settles in, the leaves are turning...                                                                                                                                                                       

 Aren't they pretty?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

My Tardis....

Here's the latest colourful addition to my sketchbook - my handbag!

© Sandra Busby. Pen, Ink and watercolour

I'm off to my little room at the bottom of the garden now to start painting some shoes - by the end of the day I will either be feeling really happy or the complete opposite! Wish me luck!!

Don't forget - time is running out  to enter the competition that is being held by Crystal Cook. For a chance to win a portrait painted by Crystal, just for you, click on the link at the side of my blog beneath the link to The Showcase. Good luck to everyone who enters! Hurry - entries end on the 30th September!!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Sandraws Colchester...

A few weeks ago I was contacted by fellow blogger Sue, from Art of a Nomad. She was going to be in the country for a while and wondered if I'd like to meet up for a day out sketching.

Those of you who have been following me for a some time, will know that I don't like sketching in public. For this reason it would have been very easy to make my excuses, but bearing in mind that some time ago I set myself a challenge to be sketching in public regularly by the end of the year (something which I have still managed to avoid), I decided to just go for it! 
It was also so nice to get an opportunity to actually meet a someone from the blog in person! Sadly, most of my bloggy friends come from so far away.

We arranged to meet in Colchester, which is apparently the oldest town in England and what a great choice that was. It really is any sketchers paradise - There was something to sketch everywhere we turned! Our meeting place was the George Hotel on the High Street. I was relieved to see that Sue really is who she appears to be on her blog and not an 'axe murderer' as my husband had put to me on the way there!

After a quick cuppa, we made our way to Colchester Castle Park and sat by the ornamental pond. Sue perched herself on a bench and I decided to sit right next to the pond, where it would be more difficult for somebody to sit next to me and put me off! This was my first experience of sketching with other people around. I was surprised just how friendly and nice they seemed though as they stood first over Sue's shoulder who was thankfully taking 50% of the attention and then over mine. Hmm...

This is the sketch I did of the water feature...

© Sandra Busby

I hadn't realised that Sue had also been sketching me, whilst I was sketching! 
So, this is Sue's sketch....

© Sue Pownall

...Isn't it lovely? 

She took a photo too....

© Sue Pownall

Next stop - lunch at The Mineries for a bowl of warming and surprisingly spicy Butternut-Squash soup. Afterwards, we made our way to Hollytrees Museum, where Sue did an amazing sketch of an old fashioned camera and I did a pen sketch of an old iron. We then made our way back to the George Hotel for a drink and sketched a lovely big lantern, which hung above the courtyard alley way.

I did both sketches on one page. Here they are....

© Sandra Busby

Whist sketching the lamp, a boy stood watching over my shoulder, totally intrigued it seemed.

© Sandra Busby
Next, I set off to find this lovely palm tree in amongst one of the many flower gardens...

You can see Sue's sketches of our day here.

Thanks Sue!!

Friday, 27 August 2010

How to get your art noticed...

You may already know that I am a short way through a very long art degree course.

I have mixed feelings about the course so far. On the one hand there is no question that I have learned so much about technique and perspective, but on the other I can't help but question the modern way of teaching which seems to focus more on imagination than skill.

Having completed my first year, as instructed I mounted all of my work and put it into a portfolio, before sending it off to the University for assessment.
Before sending it, I took it to show my new tutor, just to get his opinion on whether it was displayed correctly.

I was rather baffled, because he flicked through the portfolio, barely commenting any of the work I am most proud of such as my Fish on a Plate, Still Life with Shells, my portrait of Codi... the list goes on. All of this was the work of which I was the most happy with and of which a lot of work had gone in to.

So - there he was, flicking past them, barely raising an eyebrow, before coming across this one and saying...

'Ah! Now I really like this!'

© Sandra Busby. Mixed Media.

Can someone explain please???

This was initially an A3 sketch that went wrong. My son came in to the bathroom and honest as kids are, he said - 'Mum, that is rubbish!'  
I was amused by his honesty (though maybe I should teach him a little more tact!) and I told him that since he had not long had a shower, it would probably look more like the bathroom if I simply threw a bucket of water over the paper! 

It was this flippant remark that gave me an idea; Rather than wasting the paper, I decided to use the awful sketch to play around with some paint and to have a little fun and experiment -  and what you see above is the result. 
I called it 'View from Behind the Shower Screen' and I decided to put it in my Portfolio, just to show some more 'experimental' work. But - I never expected it to be seen by my tutor as one of my best pieces!

Maybe I am missing something -  I mean, it seems that if I put half the amount of work in to my paintings, ignore the rules of perspective, and try to paint something as poorly as possible, that this could well be what helps me to achieve a Degree - and quite honestly it would take me a third of the time too!

For those of you that haven't already seen these, here is just a small selection of the paintings/drawings he didn't look at for more than a second... 

© Sandra Busby

© Sandra Busby

© Sandra Busby

Am I wrong to think that these are better than the one he really liked?

Don't get me wrong, I love to experiment - Take my recently posted abstract for example; This was not for my course but more as a fun thing to paint, just for me - but now I think I should actually use it as part of my course!

It seems that these days, imagination is far more important than technical skill.
In fact, it seems that by sawing a cow in half, or painting a portrait of a dead human being, it is this 'shock' factor that gets an artist noticed! Hats off to them for their vivid imagination, but that's just not a place I could ever go.

Maybe my own drawings are simply too predictable. 
In fact - I have made a decision - I am going to make my next required still life far more imaginative! There, I have said it - So watch this space!

I am awaiting my results for the first year of the course as we speak. They should arrive in the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed that I have passed regardless - and though I now know what they are looking for, I am determined to develop my own style and not be too influenced by what someone says I 'should' be doing!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Woodland delights...

I awoke unusually bright and early this morning and threw open the curtains to be greeted by a warm, but windy and rainy day. It felt almost autumnal - but then I suppose Autumn is fast approaching.  

Since Autumn is one of my favourite seasons, I felt enthused to take Codi to the woods for a nice, long walk. There is simply no smell on earth like that of the warm, wet woodland on a rainy summers day - It's really quite enchanting.

There were so many huge, glossy toadstools nestling amongst the carpet of bright green moss that was creeping across the leafy ground. Sunset-Orange in colour, they were simply begging to be noticed - I wished I had taken my camera with me - And It's amazing just how green everything looks when there is so much rain! 

During our walk, we came across masses of beautiful leaves in green and gold, scattered all around, so I decided to take a few home with me to paint. 
On route to my little art room at the bottom of the garden, I also happened upon some newly developed, juicy little berries in tiny little bunches, hanging from some foliage. I thought that this also might be a nice subject, so I picked one of the little bunches and took those with me too.

This was a day for sketching really. I wasn't trying to make a perfect painting - I didn't use a pencil, but rather went straight in with my brush and just played around.

It was surprising just how much the leaves changed and curled in the short time I had had them in a warm, dry place!

© Sandra Busby

I could have gone on, adding more depth and tone, but then I would be in danger of doing what I usually do and over-working it. And - this was after all, meant to be a sketch.

Next I went on to the lovely little berries I had stumbled across. 

I started with a pale wash...

© Sandra Busby

Then I began adding layers of colour and gradually built them up...

© Sandra Busby

© Sandra Busby

And now for the apple and pear, painted in less than five minutes. Just a few brush strokes was all that was needed...

© Sandra Busby

They could do with some shadows really, but I ran out of time.

Now - Before I forget...
I was honoured the other day when Robin, asked if she could showcase my Abstract on her website 'The Showcase' . There is some amazing and inspiring art on her site. It really is well worth a visit!
My picture was showcased on Friday 20th and I must admit to feeling really chuffed when I saw it - It put a huge smile on my face - So, Robin if you are reading this - Thank you :0)))

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Glass on glass...

Whilst I continue to play around with my paints, I thought you might like to see a drawing I did a while back.

The idea for this drawing came to me when I was unloading the dishwasher. (Ideas come at the strangest moments sometimes, don't they?)

Anyway - I had rested some glasses on the black, shiny hob just prior to putting them away when I noticed their reflections, which I thought were rather interesting. I couldn't actually see the glasses themselves, but rather the refracted light which was reflecting from them. 

I immediately thought it might make an interesting drawing and was soon recreating the black shiny surface of the hob with three pieces of  black card and a sheet of glass, upon which I placed the glasses. 
I then directed a bright light towards the glasses, which gave me the exact effect I was looking for...

© Sandra Busby. Pastel pencils

It's quite effective, don't you think? 

Every line you see is the first laid down, because if I tried to erase such light pastel pencils from such black paper, it would have left a mark. I just started very lightly and then sharpened it up as I progressed. As you can see, drawing ellipses free hand, with no room for error is rather challenging!

What strikes me now is how much more interesting I could have made it if I had put another sheet of glass behind the glasses too. There would have been even more reflections!

It's a shame that I couldn't get a good photograph of the picture. Unfortunately the light is bouncing back from the black paper. So, you need to imagine it how it really is - the entire black surface of the paper is  jet black, and all of the lights are very sharp.

For this drawing, I used a sheet of large A2 black paper and pastel pencils, but I'd like to do something similar with acrylics.  - Oh there are so many things in a queue in my head at the moment!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Something simple...

When I look back on the description of my blog, it begs the question, 'Where is all the simple sketching I was talking about?'

I think having been driven mad by trying to be 'in control' of watercolour, when actually it's not a style I even enjoy. Today I have been going back to 'playing' with watercolour and letting them run together and bleed, and boy did I have fun! At last!! 

I will be posting the results soon, but in the meantime, here is something even more simple - a quick, ten minute pen sketch of the hallway! 

I just had to give myself  - and you -  a break from all of those far too careful watercolours!

© Sandra Busby. Pen and Ink

Monday, 2 August 2010

Some photo's to share...

It's been more than a week since my last post - but the school holidays have arrived and we have been enjoying lots of other things! 

Just a few days ago we had a ride in a Hot-Air Balloon, bought for me for Christmas by my lovely husband! 
I thought I'd show you some of the photo's so I can share with you some of what we saw...

It was a very early start! We had to meet up at 5am!

This is me, wondering how on earth they were going to blow this thing up..............................?

This is my husband, Paul, helping out. Can you see the person standing inside at the far end?

This is what we saw when we looked up inside the balloon. It was so warm -  just like standing beneath a giant patio heater!

Up, up and awayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy................................ (Notice our own shadow?)

The world below, still sleeping.....................

The stunning view across the Kent countryside......................

A whopping 2,900 feet up....................................

And here is a beautiful sight. Look at the gorgeous, elongated shadows behind the grave-stones........

We saw so much wildlife; pheasants, foxes, wild deer, all of which would soon be hiding away. There were horses and farm animals a plenty, and we were treated to the most beautiful sunrise - natures very own art!


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