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


Thursday, 29 December 2011

The day the fairy-lights went out.

I said I wouldn't post until the New-Year, but we find ourselves in bits following the most awful Christmas.

This post is for Codi, our dog, who died unexpectedly on Christmas day.

I have never felt such a loss in my whole life and this feeling is only amplified by the fact that as I work from home, we were virtually never apart and not only that, she was a dog that always made sure her presence was known.

Now, her presence is only 'felt' and earlier today I found myself opening the back door to let her in.  It's the strangest thing.

 When I have heard people speaking of  a 'heavy heart', I always thought that it was just an expression, but now I know that it is a true physical feeling. My heart feels as though it is being dragged down in to the pit of my stomach and I find myself constantly fighting back tears.

I am never usually a person to share negative feelings, but hopefully you will understand that just this once I can't do anything else.

I feel like I should be posting so much more but this is just too painful.

I hope that all of you had a much brighter Christmas.

'We love you Codi - and you will always be here, right by my side xxxxxxxxx'

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ho Ho Ho...

Whilst on the phone at work the other day, I found myself doodling a  little festive pen sketch.
It was one of those things that I did without even thinking and it wasn't until later that I noticed it on my page at all as I scribbled down another phone number. I chuckled to myself and thought that it might make a rather cute and amusing Christmas Card!

Over the last few weeks I have been really busy, not only with Christmas preparations but also with preparations for my next oil painting, so unlike last year when I posted the Baubles and a Cocktail glass as my Christmas post, I haven't had time to produce any thing like it this year!
So, I decided to recreate my little doodle, a little bigger, with a little colour but minus the coffee ring and scribbled telephone numbers beneath! I thought that it would be the perfect Christmas card to all of you, my lovely bloggy friends!

Pen and Watercolour

It's been an interesting year for me. 
I made the decision to leave my course and it is only since I left that I finally realised how 'Sandra' paints. Now I can honestly say I have realised my own style at last and it feels like 'me'!
That in itself is one of my biggest achievements of the year and I now find myself with the backing of a Gallery too. Whether it progresses or not, I can not think of a more positive way to end the year than that!

I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of my followers, old and new, for your continued support and endless words of encouragement throughout the year. I have met such wonderful people!
Speaking of which, I was asked today by one of my American bloggy friends, what I mean when I speak of 'Boxing day'. I was really surprised since I ignorantly assumed that everyone has a Boxing day! So, for the benefit of those from across the pond, Boxing Day is quite simply the day after Christmas Day. But it has become like a second Christmas Day and it has it's own traditions that come with it. 

So, since we have two special days it gives us a chance to share our time around different members of the family and we usually alternate years as to who we see on which day.. This year we are spending Christmas Day with my parents, my Sister and her family. We will have some kind of starter, usually chosen by my Dad, followed by a traditional Christmas dinner as follows: (Vegetarians please shut your eyes!)

Pigs in Blankets (or chippolatas/mini sausages wrapped in bacon)
Sausagemeat Stuffing
Sprouts - I am one of those who LOVES sprouts!
Red cabbage with ginger, red wine and Cinnamon (which I will be making myself as it's my speciality)
Roast potatoes
Roasted parsnips
Honey glazed carrots
and a selection of other veg
Home-made Gravy (this can only be made by my Dad as he is the MASTER of gravy!)
Cranberry Sauce (though some strange people, who enjoy all things disgusting, prefer bread sauce!)

Hmmm, I think I've remembered everything...

Next, we will indulge in a traditional Christmas Pudding (my FAVOURITE!!!), which we will first steep in Brandy and then set fire to it at the table. Once the flames have gone out, we will cover it in fresh double cream (some prefer Brandy butter - I love both!) and devour it! We usually have an alternative pudding too for those, like my Sister, who dares not to like Christmas pudding! 
This is all usually washed down with a merry glass or two of wine along with some terrible jokes from the crackers, which we pull at the table!!

Then on Boxing day we are having Paul's Mum over, followed by his Sister and her family later on in the afternoon. We don't have another Christmas dinner on Boxing day but we will still eat lots of yummy things from the left overs of Christmas Day. Some people make a turkey curry and that has become the traditional thing to do over here. But - we tend to have cold meats, smoked salmon, a cheeseboard, some salads etc. And of course there will be mince-pies with cream too!

And Christmas simply wouldn't be Christmas without a bottle of Original Baileys Irish Cream and a tin of Quality Street or Roses chocolates... Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.. 

The day after boxing day is all about staring at our huge reflections in horror and trying to squeeze our newly gigantic bottoms in to our jeans having over indulged in a big way for the several days beforehand!!!

What will you all be up to I wonder?

Now I am off to wrap the final gifts so I can enjoy two solid weeks off with my lovely husband :0) (Of course I will be spending some of this time at my easel too)
So, this is my final post until the New Year and I am sorry in advance if I miss any of your own posts during this festive time!

Merry Christmas to you all and have a very happy, 'arty' New Year!!!!

Festive Hugs!!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"

... And here is that truth. Let me introduce you to............. 'Sherlock-Wilson' - my Mum's previously unnamed bear...

If you remember my earlier post on the bear as a W.I.P, you will know why I named him 'Sherlock'. So - why Sherlock-Wilson?

Well, when I spend so much time with one bear, I often find my self, um... talking to it!
Do you remember the Volley Ball that Chuck befriended in the film 'Castaway' and named Wilson?
Well, during the 60 hours I spent in solitude with this bear, he became my Wilson, hence the middle name!

Anyway, it turns out that Sherlock-Wilson has a cockney accent! Who knew? Lol! 

It also turns out that the best tutor I have had to date was my Dads old bear, Ted, from my previous bear painting! I knew I had learned a lot from painting him, but I didn't realise quite how much until I began this one :0)

I found the books to be quite a challenge, particularly that tatty old cotton covered book.
Aside from that, you wouldn't believe the trouble I had getting a photograph of the painting. I had such a problem with reflected blue light bouncing off from what in reality are warm, rich darks - particularly towards the bottom. I had to turn to my Dad in the end who managed to get a much better result than I had!

The painting is 18" x 22" on canvas covered board. 
I have three more boards of the same size, all of which will be paintings of bears. I am just looking for some new props. :0)

I hope you think he was worth the wait, lol!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

An Interview with Crystal Cook...

This is the first interview ever on my blog and who better for me to begin with than Crystal Cook?

And here she is...

Crystal was one of the first to follow my blog and still I remember when her face appeared and off I went to check out her own blog. What I found was one of the most amazingly gifted artists I had come across and I couldn't understand what on earth she saw in my own work! 

Anyway, that was a long time ago and since then, Crystal has become a wonderful friend, always burting with encouragement and willing to offer advice how ever busy she is.
She also invented a brand new word... HUZZAH!!!!!!!!

Crystal has the rare ability to paint  the very soul of her subject, but you really need to see it for yourself to understand what I mean, so I would recommend you visiting  Crystals blog because it really is a treat :0) 

So, here we go - I will be speaking in purple and Crystal will be speaking in blue and throughout the interview I will be showcasing some of Crystals work for you to see... 

First of all, when did you first realise that you could draw?

I have always loved to draw but never felt competent at it. When I was in high school there were so many other kids who could draw better than me and I kind of took it as a challenge to try and improve. So after more years of practice, one day when I was drawing in my sketchbook I looked back over the last few pages of drawings I had done and was surprised to see that they were pretty good. I had spent so much time working and studying and hoping to be good at drawing that it really came as a surprise that I had gotten close to my goal. That’s the long answer to your question. The short answer is, about ten years ago. :0)

Did you have any formal training?

Nope. I took one watercolour class that was a gift from my husband when we were first married (which was about eleven years ago), but that was it. I pretty much taught myself through lots of practice, LOTS of mistakes, and lots of study of paintings I loved. And I’m still learning! Always learning. :0)

As a wife and Mother myself, I often find it hard to juggle painting with other things. What about you, as a wife and mother of three, how do you manage to juggle every day things including entertaining the three little Cooks and yet still manage to find the time to write and paint? Take me through an average day in the life of Crystal Cook…

I find it to be a real struggle too. I’m always trying to find a good balance. It’s hard. I don’t work outside the home so I usually set my schedule by whatever my boys need at the time. I try to make sure that when my boys and husband are home I am giving them all of me so I don’t paint or write from the time my boys get home from school until they go to bed. But I have to paint, every day if I can, it’s a huge part of who I am and when I don’t paint I’m not happy and then I know I’m not giving my family my best self. During the day my youngest son (who’s three) will sometimes take a nap so when that happens I stop whatever I’m doing and paint! I get up early sometimes and paint or write then when my family is still asleep. And I have this little envelope of photos and ideas for future paintings that I keep in my purse and whenever I have free time, if I’m stuck in line somewhere or waiting in the car for my kids to get out of school, I pull those photos out and study them, and I paint it in my head. I think about what colors I would use, I study shapes and shadow patterns, and I plan the entire painting so I know exactly what to do when I do have time to paint so that time isn’t wasted (What a great idea!). At night, once my boys are asleep, I usually paint then too. 

I am a very messy painter! Luckily, my Husband converted the summer house at the end of the garden in to an art studio. Where do you paint and how do you manage to keep tiny fingers away?

I usually paint in my kitchen, which opens up to both the family room and the dining room so it’s one big space. This is pretty awesome because I can have my paintings and drawings that I’m working on out all the time and when I paint at night when my husband’s home we can still be in the same room and talk while I paint so we’re still spending time together. My kids are really good about not touching my paints, and I make sure they have plenty of their own art supplies to use too.

Do you ever have days where you simply don’t feel in the right frame of mind to paint? If so, do you give in to that feeling? Or do you make yourself paint regardless…

Honestly most of the time I feel like painting, it’s my passion (or obsession some might say:0)), I think I might feel differently if I had unlimited amounts of time to paint (does anyone have that though?) (Not me!). But sometimes I really just don’t feel like it so then I’ll take the day off. It usually means that I’m burning out and if I push myself to paint anyway, I’ll get a nasty case of artist’s block that will take a loooong time to get over. 

If I am not in the right frame of mind to paint but paint anyway, I am often unhappy with the end result. Is this the same for you too?

Yes definitely! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ruined a painting because I pushed myself to paint when I wasn’t feeling like it. I think this is more because I’m rushing to get through painting because I think I ‘have to paint’ and so I’m making mistakes I wouldn’t usually make if I took the time to think things through.

My Mum is very artistic and my Dad, as an ex-photographer has a keen eye for colour and composition. Where do you think your Artistic gift came from and are any other members of your family Artistic?

I think it came from my Mom. She’s amazing at drawing! It just comes naturally to her. When I was little I used to ask her to draw pictures of horses for me all the time and I was always so amazed at how easy she made it look. My brother’s also really artistic and my sister is a photographer with an eye for colour and composition like your Dad. 

 I often ask my 15 year old Son Charlie for his view on a finished piece of artwork, because he seems to have a good eye and though always tactful, he is very honest. I think that we all need someone like that! Who is your most honest critic - who do you turn to for an opinion on your art if you are feeling unsure?

My middle son, who’s six, is pretty honest when I ask for his opinion. He even told me once that his favourite part of one of my paintings was my signature. (Ahh, how cute!) :0) 

What about your children, do any of your boys show signs of being a whizz with a paint brush? Do you try to teach them?

Both of my older boys show lots of talent with drawing. But my middle son (the six year old) has always been interested in art. From the time he was about 18 months old he has LOVED to colour and draw. This summer I spent some time teaching him about art and painting, but mostly I just tried to encourage him and provide him with lots of different supplies. Right now he really likes to illustrate his own little books that he makes and he can draw comic book type superheroes really well. 

My husband always says that he can’t even draw a straight line. My answer to that is always, ‘Well, there is nothing at all interesting about a straight line!’ Has Mr. Cook ever tried his hand at drawing?

I love that answer! A straight line is boring! My husband has tried, and he’s pretty good at drawing super hero guys too, but it’s not what he’s passionate about. We always joke that if our kids need help with math homework they go to him and if they need help with literature or art they come to me (Exactly the same in our house!). Which sadly has proved true, who knew fourth grade long division was so hard? :0)

 What first gave you the idea of starting your own blog?

I had just found one of my favourite author’s blogs (Maggie Stiefvater) that was a lot about the process of writing and offering encouragement to other writers and I just loved that approach. I wanted to do something similar, but with an art blog. When I first started as an artist I struggled a lot with feelings of inadequacy and failure and I thought that others probably did too (Ohhhh yes!), and wouldn’t it be great if I could combine my art with a little piece of my writing that was meant to motivate and encourage other artist’s to keep trying and never give up? I guess that sounds a little idealistic, but the whole idea of persevering even when things get tough has really been important to me and I wanted to make sure that if there happened to be other artists out there who needed someone to encourage them when they felt like quitting, then I could be that person for them.

What do you think has been the best part of having a blog?

The feeling of kinship with other artists. I love the connections you can make with people you wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to meet. That is a very, very cool thing.

And the most difficult part?

Coming up with new ideas to write about. And making time for it. Blogging takes a significant amount of time and it’s hard to fit it in sometimes.

You paint portraits more than any other subject, but recently you painted a glass of iced tea, which I thought was just as brilliant. Is there a reason that you tend to stick to portraits even though it is clear that you can paint other subjects in equal amounts of amazingness to your portraits?

First of all, thank you so much for that wonderful compliment! :0) I guess I paint portraits so much because I want to express emotion with my paintings and I think that painting the human face is the most direct way to do that. 

I tend to paint from life when the subject allows. Do you ever paint or draw from life?

I don’t paint from life right now, one day I hope to do that, maybe when my kids are all grown up. I do draw from life in a sketchbook sometimes, and I’m going to be joining a live figure drawing group that I’m really excited about, and I’m a little scared about it too! :0)

As you know, I don’t particularly like painting landscapes. Is there any particular subject you avoid painting? If so, why is that?

Landscapes for me too! I keep telling myself I need to get over that, but I just don’t feel drawn to them for some reason. I think it’s because I am so used to painting close ups that when I see a huge landscape in front of me I just don’t know where to start!

Is there any subject that you haven’t attempted but you would like to try in the future?

I would really like to try some interior scenes with figures, maybe in coffee shops or restaurants or something like that. I want to incorporate more figures and scenes into my paintings instead of just portraits.

I have realised only in the last few months that try though I have, I can not paint like anybody else - I can only paint like ‘me’. Have you ever tried to paint like another Artist and if you have, did you find it difficult?

I think that realising that you can only paint like ‘you’ is one of the most important steps any artist can make. When I was first learning I copied the style of a lot of artists I admired, but quickly came to see, like you, that I couldn’t maintain that. I wasn’t happy painting like anyone else, I had to paint like me.

This is probably a difficult question, but which of your paintings is your favourite to date?

I have one painting, which I have never posted on my blog, that is my favourite because it was the first portrait that I painted that felt like it was ‘my’ style. I wasn’t copying the style of someone else, I was painting like me, and it’s also a portrait of my son and I feel like I really captured who he was in paint for the first time. But my favourite painting posted on my blog is ‘Timeless Remedy’.

and this is it... 

...Breath taking isn't it? Sigh...

I once read that you should never throw away a failed painting. What do you do with the paintings that you regard as unsuccessful, assuming you have any?

I, um, *gulp* throw them away! At least, the ones that I know are beyond saving and that have no sentimental value for me. But I have kept all the ones that I painted when I was learning to paint, just to see my progress over time.

What are your three all time favourite paintings by any Artist, dead or alive?

Now that is a hard question! Let’s see. . . 

Their Journey Together by Daniel Gerhartz - (Have just Googled. It's beautiful!)

The Lost Sheep (modern) by Liz Lemon Swindle - (Googled again - Not what I was expecting as no sheep apparent. Maybe sheep is indeed lost, lol! Can see exactly why you like it.)

By A Thread by Mary Whyte - (Wow, this is like a photograph!)

Aside from painting and writing, do you have time for any other hobbies?

Not really! I read, play with my family, go for a run. I do really enjoy cooking and baking.

Okay – now for the fun part! The Speed round…

  1. Early bird or night owl? Early bird. I love mornings!

  1. Sweet or savoury? Sweet!!! Huzzah!!

  1. Tea or coffee? Neither. Hot chocolate! With dark chocolate if you please. 

  1. Romantic comedy or serious drama? Romantic comedy

  1. Drive or walk? Drive. In a fast car. With a great sound system.

  1. Too warm or too cool? Too warm

  1. Friends for dinner or dinner at friends? Friends for dinner

  1. Autumn or Spring? Autumn

  1. Favourite colour? Pink! Hot pink, dusty pink, rosy pink, anything pink. 
    10. Ask the questions or answer the questions? Ask the questions. I’m very curious.  

    Thank you so much Crystal for such an insightful interview! I'm sure everybody will love reading it as much as I did!

    Now - A quick note to all, about the bear -  I have had real issues in trying to get a good photograph of him, which is why it's taking so long, but it will be the next post, I promise!

      Tuesday, 15 November 2011

      'And I quote...'

      Well, I could go on fiddling with the bear for ever and a day, but as Leonardo de Vinci once said...

      'Art is never finished, only abandoned'. 

      Ooh, don't I sound knowledgeable! But in fact I only learned that the other day whilst on a visit to London's National Gallery with my Mum a few days ago...

      As much as I would have liked to have taken such a good photograph of the Gallery, I found this one on a copyright free website and all of the remaining photographs on this post were courtesy of Wikapedia and similar sites.

      I was really disappointed when we were told that we were not allowed to take photographs inside the gallery.
      Never mind - we had such an amazing time! Just being in Trafalgar Square was nice. There is something to see in every direction; Nelsons Column, Big Ben, the Millennium Wheel... Oh and a few thousand students protesting about University fees along with an equal amount of police, TV Cameras, and helicopters!
      Still, it was all harmless and quite an intriguing sight! All part of the London experience!

      It was the first day of the Leonardo de Vinci exhibition at the gallery, but Mum and I have booked to see that one in January after the initial rush is over. Jolly glad I am too, since the queue ended up somewhere in China I think, lol!

      Inside the gallery, well what a treat!

      We saw paintings by Van Gogh, including these...

      This one was SO much brighter and more vibrant in real life!

      And this, one of my all time favourite paintings by Turner...

      The Lilly Pond by the wonderful Monet...

      We saw paintings by Constable, Botticelli, Rubens, Cezanne... The list goes on!
      And Mum and I learned that in the 17th cenury, people seemed to love running around with no clothes on!

      Whilst many of the paintings in the gallery weren't really our cup of tea, it was still amazing to see them. Many of the canvases were so huge that we couldn't possibly imagine that they had ever hung anywhere other than in castles and mansions!

      It was wonderful to see paintings such as the 'Sunflowers' just inches away and being able to see every single brush-stroke. It is those details which are lost on a screen or on print.

      What also surprised me was the sheer vibrancy of the paintings in real life when compared to what I have seen in books or on the internet. The best examples of this were 'The Fighting Temeraire' by Turner. If there is one painting to see in real life if you ever get the chance, it has to be that one! Also 'The Wheat Field', by Van Gogh. I have never seen a reproduction of that painting with any where near the brighness and vibrancy as the real thing. I was really surprised when I saw it!

      Anyway, I must stop waffling because I could go on and on!

      I hope to post my new bear soon, but meanwhile, I am HONOURED to have been featured on Crystal Cooks  latest post! I couldn't believe it when she asked me! She is such an incredibly talented artists!
      I was so surprised to be asked and I had so much fun answering all of Crystals questions.

      I was equally as delighted when Crystal agreed that I could interview her on my blog too. So, watch this space because that (and of course the bear) is all coming soon!

      So don't go away!

      Saturday, 12 November 2011

      Self Portrait...

      Yes - for those of you who have managed to work out what exactly that sketch is meant to be on my desk at work, it is indeed a 'headless chicken', or a 'Self-Portrait' as I aptly call it... because that is exactly how I feel at the moment!

      Well, I did promise you some chicken drawings didn't I, lol!

      Oh go on then, here is a close up, I know you want one ;0) ...


      Here in the UK the clocks went back at the end of October and this means that the Autumn sun begins to sink towards the horizon from around 3.30pm. By 5pm it is completely dark and this really does limit painting time.

      Still, I am trying my best to fit as much painting in as I can between my usual day job and other things I need to do such as keeping a cozy and clean home and spending time with my family.

      I am very lucky to have the most amazing husband - and today, I managed to paint for six straight hours! Meanwhile, Paul was attempting his second Victoria Sponge following the slight disaster he'd had with the first attempt! He also cooked us the most yummy dinner! :0P

      Thanks to Paul doing those things for me today, I am on the home stretch with the bear now. It really is all just minor details now such as highlights on the bears fur, the bow needs a little more work and the looking glass needs the last few highlights. I am sure that one more day would do it!

      That said, tomorrow we really need to start our Christmas shopping, since we haven't even started yet! So as much as I would like to paint, a trip to Tunbridge Wells it is!
      I still hope to squeeze in a couple of hours painting time in the afternoon..

      If all goes to plan, I would like to think that by mid-week the painting will be complete. Then I will leave it for a few days and look again with fresh eyes to see if any adjustments are needed.

      Oh I do hope that the final result is as I hope it to be!

      Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed the sketch I did, just for you whilst I was at work yesterday, lol!

      Friday, 21 October 2011

      W.I.P. Thinking like Sherlock...

      Well I have been busy, busy, busy with the second in my series of bears and I have decided to give you just a little peak at the stage I am at right now.

      I have finally finished the under-painting, which I did to establish my darkest tones and as you can see there are plenty of them!
      I am aiming for another old fashioned style painting, rather like the last bear.  That old bear of Dads taught me so much, so this time I feel ready to be a little braver!

      I love this stage. It really does give me an idea of how it will look when it is complete...

      © Sandra Busby

      (Ignore the blue area in the corner, that's just the light from the window hitting the canvas)

      This bear belongs to my Mum and though vintage in style, I actually brought it for her just a few years ago. I have yet to decide whether or not I should 'tatty it up' a bit for the sake of the painting but I'll decide as the painting progresses :0)

      That beautiful antique magnifying glass, which was kindly lent to me by a family friend reminded me of the sort of thing that Sherlock Holmes might have carried around whilst investigating crimes.
      This got me thinking... painting is sort of similar really; although it's not quite like solving a crime, it is still an investigation of sorts. We are still looking at the evidence before us, building a picture and piecing together the puzzle in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

      Just like Sherlock, I seem to go through stages of frustration and elation during the whole process.
      One minute I am scratching my head, for something is wrong or out of place and so I have to step back and unravel, look just that little bit closer, until I reach one of those wonderful 'Aha!' moment.
      It is when those very moments happen, that I find myself one step closer to concluding the whole picture and reaching that long awaited verdict when I can finally declare 'Case Closed'!

      The frustration with this one hasn't been in the painting itself, but rather in arranging a good composition in the first place.
      I really wanted something glass in the picture and the magnifying glass seemed in-keeping with the tatty old books, which I picked up from a local Antique book store. 
      Incidentally, one of the books is called 'Through the Looking Glass', making the magnifying glass even more relevant.

      I had hoped to used the glass to create all sorts of wonderful distortions to the wording on the books, but no matter how hard I tried, it always left the composition looking overly contrived and it also seemed to take the focus away from the bear. So, instead I laid it in front of the books as something relevant to catch the light in what will be a predominantly dark painting.
      Once the painting is complete, I hope I can borrow the magnifying glass again at a later date, because I do want to play around with some distortions at some point and glass is a favorite subject of mine to paint :0)

      Since solving the composition issues, from then on it has been pretty plain sailing so far. Perhaps it's because, like the last bear, I had a pretty clear idea in my head from the start of how I want it to look. Let's hope it continues that way!

      For once I have been properly timing how long I am spending on one painting. So far, from the moment I picked up my pencil to draw my initial sketch (as shown in my last post), to the under-painting as it is now, it has taken me 16.5 hours!

      Anyway, I need to get back to my investigation now. This is the really exciting bit - time to add some colour!!

      Take care everyone :0)

      Thursday, 13 October 2011

      'Bear' Essentials...

      To my lovely, loyal, bloggy friends.

      Firstly, thank you all for still being here!
      I wouldn’t blame you for boring of my recent absence from the land of Blog during the last couple of weeks.
      I feel the need to explain, as much has been going on in the right-hand side of my brain cell over the last few months!
      Firstly, a couple of months ago I composed a long email to my tutor, in which I expressed a wish to withdraw from my Open University art course. To cut a very long story short, I felt that I was being molded to paint in a certain way, to follow a trend and I was therefore being forced to develop a style that just isn’t me.
      A couple of weeks later he contacted me and managed to persuade me that it was the wrong decision to make. So, as weak willed as I suddenly found myself, I reluctantly said I would keep it up - hence the subsequent landscapes and little else to show blah, blah....
      Though I recognise my tutor’s good intentions, I had been looking forward to doing my own thing – I had so many projects in mind and yet here I was, back on that Merry-Go-Round!

      Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I happened to be passing a beautiful Gallery and took a look inside.
      The Gallery owner asked if he could help. I explained that I wasn't buying anything, but I was just interested in the way others paint because I like to paint too.
      I want to paint like this...' I said as I pointed to a painting, which hung proudly upon the crisp, white wall before me, '...instead of like this', I finished as I showed him a random painting of my own on my iPhone.

      He took my phone and asked if he could see some more, so I reluctantly showed him one or two further pictures.
      I was shocked when he expressed an interest in my work and asked if I would bring some of the real things in to show him, so early last week I found myself drinking coffee with the Gallery owner, surrounded by the works of Phillip Gray, Rolf Harris, Hazel Soane etc, apologizing profusely for the work I was showing him!

      During our chat, it became evident that we both seemed to have very similar visions in what would make a nice painting, but what surprised me most was that he said that he 'liked my style' and that it was 'different'! He suggested that when I have done some further paintings, should he feel that they are what he has in mind from me, he might consider testing the interest on his website. He said that if there was enough interest, he may do some limited edition prints in the future!

      He stressed on several occasions that it may come to absolutely nothing and I don't expect it to - But, WOW - Just the fact that a gallery owner would show some interest my work is more than good enough for me!!!
      And what was this 'my style' business? I didn't even know I had one!
      But then, as I sat down and looked at the bits I had shown him, I realised that none of those bits were from my course at all. In fact, all of it was work that I had painted just for the fun of it and from my own vision.
      When I lined them all up, I suddenly realised that I do have a style - one that has developed naturally over time and one, which only finds itself when I am not being pushed to paint in a different way by the course.
      I lean naturally towards realism and when I don't fight it, that is when I create my best work and in my opinion, the only good work I do.

      Anyway - let's not get carried away by this. The reality is that nothing has really 'happened' other than a chat consisting of ifs, buts and maybe's, with the owner of a rather beautiful Gallery. So, I am remembering that and being very realistic.

      But, this is why I haven't posted anything over the last couple of weeks. I have felt entirely lost again. I have been feeling SO guilty that one minute I am agreeing to carry on with the course and yet the next I am realising that I can’t do it all.
      At this moment in my art room, in one corner there is a figure painting half finished, in another corner there is a still life with a glass sketched and ready to paint, there is a sketchbook open, begging me to sketch anything, at least something for my blog until I finish a bigger piece, then there is the course book open at the page where I am supposed to be painting a 'sky dominated landscape', yaaaaawn...
      Consequently, I walk in, spin around, scratch my head and run out. What do I do first? Gaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      So, I thought about this and realised that I need to forget about the course and everything else in the room at the moment. I need to start painting again from the heart and who knows, maybe the gallery owner will like it – but if not, I will at least have painted something by the real me.
      And what better subject to start with than another bear!
      Having played around with some arrangements I got the initial sketch down on paper today, though I still have some adjustments to make before transferring my sketch to canvas ready to paint. For one thing the perspective of the magnifying glass needs adjusting before I go any further and there are also some further shadows to add.
      It looks a little busy at the moment but a lot of it, such as the clock, wallpaper pattern and magnifying glass will be in DARK shadow and so ‘bearly’ even there!
      Well, having not posted for a while, I am sorry that this one is consequently so EPIC!!! 
      But, you really don’t have to read it!

      Instead, you might just like to see my sketch…

      © Sandra Busby
      Thank you SO much for not leaving me!

      See you again soon!

      Wednesday, 28 September 2011

      Thoughts and photo's to share...

      Nature offers such treasures for us to find at this time of year; an abundance of inspiration for small paintings and sketches!

      During my earlier woodland walk, I took some photographs of the colourful and glossy fungi that has sprung up over the last few days...

      ... Aren't they beautiful?

      If anyone would like to use any of these particular photographs for painting or sketching purposes, please feel free!

      I have had little time to do so myself over the last couple of weeks for various reasons. That said, I currently have one painting on the go, and a new one which I am about to start.

      It's funny how I have so many mixtures of feelings when I paint. I will often go from excitement, anticipation and loving each brush-stroke, to a feeling of sheer frustration! Of course sometimes it's the other way around :0)

      And then there are those finished paintings, which I like at first and then later go on to never wanting to see them again! Like this old one...

      Acrylic on canvas

      I quite liked it at first and yet now, I see so much about it that I would change!

      It goes to show how each painting or sketch that we do, teaches us something about ourselves as Artists and which direction we need to take next in order to evolve :0)

      Tuesday, 6 September 2011

      Putting things into perspective...

      ... And that's what I was trying to do here...

      © Sandra Busby Watercolour

      As you know, landscapes are simply not my thing. I don't like painting them and I am not fond of using watercolour either. But because of this I make myself do both from time to time.
      Give me oils or Acrylics any day!
      This watercolour sketch was going perfectly well until it came to the shadows of the trees, which where meant to hugely emphasize the perspective. It's a shame that impatience got the better of me and I began painting the shadows whilst the wash beneath was still too wet! Grrr...

      The idea was that they would start off much thinner in the distance and get progressively larger as they came further towards the foreground. Instead they are the same all the way along and this actually takes away that feeling of distance that I had hoped to achieve. Talk about fall at the last hurdle!!
      Oh well, never mind - another lesson learned!

      At first, I was really disappointed and I almost put the painting away, never to be seen again. But then I really did 'put things into perspective' and changed my mind, because there are elements of it which I am really pleased with. 
      I am very happy with the light, which gives a real sense of the sun going down. This adds mood and atmosphere to the painting, which was largely achieved by studying other Artists and the way in which they work. 

      Monday, 29 August 2011

      Foul Play...

      ...And there has been plenty of that around here in the last week!

      Having enjoyed a week of all things 'chickeny' it seemed my obvious choice of theme for today's post!
      If I am to be completely honest with you all, I have a feeling it might be the theme of several posts over the next few weeks :0)

      The girls have been SO well behaved! After just three nights of having to pick them up and put them on their perch, by night four, when we got to their chicken mansion to put them to bed, they were already there! They are such good chickens!

      Anyway, having had some time to get to know them a little, they each have very different personalities. Babs has the most attitude, Frankie is the most curious and Marjorie is the most laid back.

      This morning I thought that it might be nice to sketch one of our girls. However, whilst considering the best place to sit, I noticed that Marjorie had very kindly discarded one of her tail feathers, which was now drifting along the ground of their run in the breeze. So - I thought that I might sketch the feather instead - after all, it wouldn't move...

      © Sandra Busby

      ... Or so I thought. But on two occasions, whilst drawing the feather I looked up to find that it had fluttered to the floor in the breeze from the open door!

      I was almost disappointed to have completed the sketch as quickly as I did! However, whilst I had been happily scribbling away, Paul had made his way down to the Coop and retrieved a lovely fresh egg, still warm, from Frankie, who is firing out eggs like there is no tomorrow! She has given us seven eggs in seven days so far!

      I decided that I would sketch the egg to go with the feather. I know that an egg is hardly a challenge, but it is SO easy to forget how much fun it is to just draw. There is no pressure involved, no worrying about the result, nor if people will like it, its just drawing - and I do SO love that, and I forget just how much until I actually do it!

      © Sandra Busby

      Aside from this, let's not forget just how important it is to keep drawing! Art is an illusive thing and it's all too easy to let other things get in the way and before you know it, it might have been a month since you picked up a pencil. And oddly, it's not like riding a bike - If you don't keep it up, you do go rusty!

      A very talented Artist once said to me that there are plenty of artists out there who can paint, and yet they can not draw. Someone who doesn't practice art may not understand that, but those of us who do, will.
      Recently, I have been so wrapped up in long-winded paintings, that I have been neglecting the very fundamentals of drawing and for this reason I am planning to be doing a lot more basic drawing over the next few months.

      Sketching is one of the most important things an Artist can do and yet why is it that I will make every excuse not to do it? Just look at this charming sketch by John, at J.W.J. Arts . Aside from the hilarious narrative, I just LOVE looking at sketches like this - and yet I rarely do them myself! I need to change this and start to embrace the simple joy of sketching, just for fun.

      Anyway - enough of my waffling! Time to enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday and get my pencils out :0)

      Ta ta for now!

      Wednesday, 24 August 2011

      Exercising creativity in other areas, and visiting the Tate Britain...

      Firstly, my apologies for neglecting my blog for the last couple of weeks!

      I have been working all hours to cover my colleague whilst she is on holiday, and aside from this, my hubby Paul, my son Charlie and I have all been busy creating something else together and our little project has meant devoting every minute of every evening and weekend to our new creation!

      Anyway, it is finally finished!

      The chicken run...

      We have been toying with the idea of keeping chickens for the last couple of years. There was an unused area of garden that seemed like the perfect spot, and work began soon after my last post!

      And these are the three girls who now live in this luxury chicken palace...

      We collected them on Sunday and they are all 15 weeks old.

      The red one is called Frankie. She is the most confident and she is the first to do everything, including laying her first egg just 24 hours after we brought them home...

      And here it is again, the freshest egg I have ever cooked, straight from butt to pan - though my son wasn't overjoyed to be reminded of this when he was eating it, lol!


      The black one is called Babs. She is the one with the most attitude!
      The white one is called Marjorie and she is the most docile and the most lazy too.
      Babs and Marjorie haven't started laying yet but hopefully they will soon :0)

      Anyway, it may not be art, but there was some painting involved and I have no doubt that it will lead to some chicken and egg sketches too ;0)

      Anyway, during this time, there was one thing that I couldn't resist making some time for.
      The Tate Britain in London were holding a two week watercolour exhibition and I just had to go! You can't keep me away from local galleries, but I had never been to a gallery in London before.

      I invited Mum along and was surprised at how much she enjoyed the day too.

      The exhibition was far bigger than I had expected and there was so much to see! There were some of Turners sketchbooks and paintings on view. The two of us felt quite privileged to see them for real.
      The one I was most surprised about was the famous 'Scarlett Sunset' painting which has always been a favourite of mine...

      ...Though I had seen the painting so many times in books and in print, it was so small in reality! Much smaller than I had ever imagined it to be - about A5, I would say.

      There were also items which belonged to Turner on display such as his wallet, his paintbox and palette.
      Of course there were other inspiring ideas on show too used by some of the other great masters! There were some oyster and mussel shells which had been used as portable palettes - what a neat idea! And lots of experimental works dotted about - Most inspiring!

      We were also delighted to see some of  John Singer-Sargents paintings which were also on display. It's so different to look at the paintings for real because you just can't see those all important brush-strokes when you see them in print.

      When we had finished looking around the watercolour exhibition we didn't have a lot of time left, but we were determined to see some of the paintings in the rest of the gallery too.
      It was just unfortunate that I had assumed that cameras were not allowed, because I realised late in the day that actually they were. If  I'd have known, I would have taken lots of photographs.

      This painting is made up of the fewest brush-strokes and colours and yet it was so beautiful, proving that less really is more. The photograph I'm afraid doesn't do it justice at all...

      And this is a beautiful painting of Claude Monet, painting by a river, by John Singer-Sargent...

      And this Singer-Sergent was absolutely huge!

      The day filled me with new ideas but I the main thing I learned is that, the greatest paintings are made with the least fuss!!!

      I found the whole day to be so inspiring and the both of us had a lovely day.

      My colleague is back to work on Tuesday and so I will be getting my usual day off to paint, so normal activities will resume on my blog from then onwards! And following our visit to The Tate, I am determined to come up with some sketches and paintings created with the minimum fuss!


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