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


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Art that warms the heart...

Bear number three is now finished - finally!!

I tried to take a photograph of it so I could post it on my blog but I am having real trouble with colour matching. So, once again, Dad to the rescue! 
He is popping over to take some photo's for me tomorrow and when he's emailed it back to me I will post it, I promise :0)

Meanwhile, I received two parcels a few days ago that I just had to share with you.

The first was Codi's new bed. As you know, our beautiful dog, Codi, passed away unexpectedly on Christmas day and it has taken me some time to come to terms with it - in fact I am not even there yet and I know that by how emotional I feel as I type this post.

Initially I had thought that keeping Codi's ashes close to us indoors might be of some comfort, but looking at the box that her ashes were in, merely served as a reminder of her death. It just felt so 'cold'.

I needed to find Codi something more personal to rest in and during my search I came across this website, Pretty Boxes. I contacted Rachel, who makes beautiful handmade, 'decoupage' personal Journey boxes and asked her if she could make me a box for Codi.
Rachel was so empathetic, having recently lost her own dog and she asked me to send her some images of Codi.

Meanwhile, I had also received the most heartwarming poem from my friend and blogger, Suzanne Berry, called 'Rainbow Bridge'. I was so touched when I received it. I'd never heard it before and it was quite a comfort to me. I thought it might be a nice idea to use the poem as a text background and then put the images over the top, so the poem showed through the spaces.
Rachel agreed that this was a nice idea and not long after, I received the box in the post. Here it is...

... This photo really doesn't do the box justice. It is really special. It is scattered with photographs taken during some of the best times Codi has had during her life and Rachel has finished it with pretty gems in each corner.

The box now sits in the front room by the telly and rather than reminding us of her death, instead it reminds us of her life and we really couldn't ask for more than that...

...But - we did get more. Having cried my heart out when I received the poem - and then cried my heart out again when I received the box, it was emotional meltdown when I received the next parcel!

Not long before, I had been a randomly picked winner of the most beautiful limited edition print 'Timeless Remedy', by Crystal Cook. I felt SO lucky! 

Anyway, soon after, I received the most beautifully wrapped parcel...

And inside...

The real thing, if at all possible, is even better than the photograph, but as if that wasn't enough, along with the print was a card and at the end of the words inside, Crystal wrote, 'I hope you love the print and the other little surprise I sent along with it'.

So, I turned the package over ...
and found this...

Drawing by Crystal Cook

(drawn from the Photo I put of Codi on my blog a few posts back)

It must have taken me at least ten minutes to be able to see Crystal's drawing of Codi  properly, because I was so moved by it that I was in floods of tears and literally had to sit down. And I'm honestly not one to cry at the drop of a hat!

Crystal had captured Codi's character so perfectly - far more so than I had ever been able to myself - that I felt momentarily as though Codi had just walked in to the room!

Do you know, I have met the most warm, caring and thoughtful friends through blogging? And I can't begin to explain what it has meant to me. Losing Codi was the hardest thing I've had to deal with in a long time, but these three beautiful things - the box, the poem and the drawing, all of which I will keep forever, have really meant the world :0)

My Dad wrote Charlie a story about his own childhood dog 'Bingo' the day after Codi had passed away. I only managed to bring myself to read it a couple of days ago and as Charlie promised, it really helped. It's amazing how art in it's many forms can be so healing isn't it?

I found that getting on with my own art helped with the healing process and now I have finished the latest bear I am buzzing because I have a great idea for the next bear of the series! It's quite a bit more complex than the one I have just finished but I think it will be really fun to do :0)

So - tomorrow I will begin playing with some new compositions and my Dad will hopefully get a nice photograph of the bear I have just completed so you all finally get to see it :0)

Don't go away!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Saving the best until last...

(...and you will understand the title when you have finished reading!)

When I find a few minutes to sit and sketch, I can never resist these furry little fellows. They are just too cute!

I have never understood why people are so afraid of mice - or in this case, RATS! 
But, for those of you who really do fear rats, I have named this one 'Lord Archibald the II', to make him seem less scary ;0D

On the subject of furry friends, I've been missing Codi in a big way. 
Lately though, the chickens are really making their presence known! Just yesterday as I was making their porridge, whilst Marjorie and Babs ventured into the back porch, Frankie not only wandered into the kitchen as she often does, but this time she flew up on to the kitchen Island and perched herself there, staring intently as I stirred! Clearly she was getting rather impatient for her supper!

I don't mind her wandering into the kitchen. She will usually just peck up any crumbs she comes across on the floor, which I may have missed with the broom. I think the most amusing sight was when she pressed her face against the oven door as though she was trying to see what was inside. Aren't chickens usually looking out of the oven window, rather than in it, lol? If only Frankie knew that, she might not be so keen to go so near!
It has to be said, our feathered girls are quite safe from the dinner table - I don't think I could ever eat something that had a name!

It's still cold and dark here in the UK at the moment and whilst I don't want to wish that time would pass by any more quickly than it seems to already, I am looking forward to warmer and longer days.
In the Spring I hope to be sketching the girls as they roam the garden instead of curling up indoors with the sketchbook in my lap.

Anyway, as usual I will end my post with a fact about my week... and this one is BIG........

Q: What is the best thing that has happened to me during the last week?

A: I have been offered a six month contract with a rather beautiful gallery!!! And as I tell my news to my lovely bloggy friends, I am smiling from ear to ear :0))))))))

Monday, 16 January 2012

Watching paint dry...

... at least that's what I was doing before I decided to finish this Portrait of 'Alfie' instead!

Graphite pencil

I had planned to spend a few hours on the latest bear, only to find that the last layer was still too wet to work on. So, every time I tried to work on one area, I smudged another! It just wasn't worth the risk.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was asked to do a pencil portrait of this adorable little chap, 'Alfie'. 
I did the hat a few days ago when I had some time to spare, and I did the rest this afternoon.

My hat goes off to Crystal Cook, who seems to effortlessly produce endless, perfect baby portraits, but portraits are completely out of my comfort zone and this is my first attempt at drawing a baby.
They are so perfect, in fact their adorable, squidgy, pudgy faces are actually too perfect; Their skin is flawless and smooth, their skin tone is even, but this means that there is little skin texture and tone to work with. 

I started with a sketch on a separate piece of paper, just to get the shape of the face and the features correctly placed. I was expecting this stage to take a long time, but when I compared my initial sketch with the photograph, I realised that it was surprisingly close and only a few minor adjustments were necessary. Once I was happy with the sketch, I transferred the outlines to a sheet of Bristol Paper and then it was just a matter of adding the shading.

I found a way of helping with the problem of lack of tone by scanning the photo to my computer and adjusting the mid-tones. This made the shadows on the face a lot more apparent than they were on the actual photograph I was given and so much easier to work from.

The portrait of Alfie really didn't take me long and it was actually nice to have something else to do between 'bear time'.
I need to do more things like this I think!

Anyway - as promised, I will end this post with a useless fact about my day:

Q. What music did I listen to today?

A. None! The sun was shining and so the birds were singing me the most beautiful song. How could I possibly be so ungrateful as to not listen to them :0)

Friday, 13 January 2012

An interview with Carrie Waller...

For the second in my series of interviews, I would like you to meet Carrie Waller (oh, and that's her son, Steven, also a budding Artist!)...

"I am a Mommy/Military Wife/Artist trying to keep her creative side intact in a world full of diapers, spit-up, and toddler conversations."

I have admired Carrie's incredible artwork since I stumbled across her blog a couple of years ago. She is a master of her chosen medium, watercolour and her blog is well worth a visit. You can see it here.

 1.       First of all, when did you first realise that you could draw?
 When I was in the 3rd grade my art teacher entered a collage I did into the Texas State Rodeo and I won 1st place, that was the first time that I had any idea that I might be good in art. I took art as often as I could after that. I guess in Jr. High and High School I realized I could draw.

My own personal favorite of Carrie's paintings

2.     Did you have any formal training?
I majored in Graphic Design at the University of Illinois for 1 yr, I did really well in the program but realized I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. I switched majors and schools. I ended up getting a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design at Southern Illinois University.

3.     What made you settle on watercolour? Have you tried other mediums? 
I had always enjoyed watercolours in high school. I dabbled with ink washes in college. When I decided to start painting after college I wanted something that was easy to get out and not as messy as oils, I wanted as few deterrents between me and painting (if I had to change clothes and worry about ventilation I knew I wouldn’t paint as often). I also read that watercolour is the most difficult medium to master and I’m super competitive so I took it as a personal challenge.

4.     How do you manage to juggle painting with other things such as entertaining your two little boys and keeping a home? Take me through an average day in the life of Carrie Waller…
 Ha Ha Ha, as I’m answering this I’m typing with one hand because I have a squirmy 2 yr old in my lap :0) It’s not always easy, I have to take lots of breaks to do normal life activities, get snacks and drinks for my 5 yr old and 2 yr old, transform a transformer, play with Lego's, break up a brotherly fight, it can be a challenge. But I love to enter competitions, I need deadlines, so if I have my blog and competitions to hold me accountable I soldier through the daily grind:) I also try to get my boys into the action by letting them paint and color anytime they want to .

 5.     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 paint in my dining room. I’m in the center of the house where I can watch everyone and everything. I have trained my kids to be mindful of Mommy’s art. They know not to draw or paint on my paintings. Sometimes I will let my 5 yr old (Steven) paint a little area on my paintings. He takes great pride in helping Mommy :0) I’m not sure I trust my 2 yr old (Sam) to do this yet, but sometime in the future!

6.     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…
Depends on how strong that feeling is. Some days I know I’m just not in the mood and I do other things that day, other days I will force myself to sit down for at least an hour, if I’m still not feeling it after an hour I start fresh a different day. When I am on deadline, however, I will force myself paint.

7.     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?
Not really, sometimes I feel like I’m not even part of the painting, it’s kind of an out of body situation. My hands seem to know what to do even if I’m in a not so creative frame of mind (Now you're just showing off, lol!) In fact I really try to zone out by watching a movie or listening to blog radio shows. (Blog radio shows? I never knew they even existed!)

8.     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?
 My Dad is also a photographer; I think I definitely think in compositions and paintings when I’m out and about. I rely on photographic references and I am always out to capture the perfect photo.
My Mom was always doing something creative as I grew up, she entered a lot of craft fairs—she was the inspiration for the name of my blog Carrie’s Creations, while I was growing up all of her craft tags were Krafty Klassics. Every since I was a little girl I wanted to use Carrie’s Creations for my works. My Mom’s dad was also had his own business and did art work and custom paint jobs on cars and trucks.

9.     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? 

Steven, my 5 yr old. He is super honest and really has a good eye. And he gives his opinion whether it’s asked for or not :0) The longer I have painted the more secure I am and that need to gain approval or another person’s opinion has diminished some. I pretty much have a clear vision now and stick with it.

10.  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. Waller ever tried his hand at drawing?
 My husband has a degree in Graphic Design and Architecture. We met in college in design classes. He will tell you though; his strong suite is in the functionality of a building or object and not the design. After college he commissioned into the Air Force and he is in Aircraft Maintenance so he doesn’t get the opportunity to draw or paint anymore but he is a fabulous photographer. I have used his photos for most of my European scenes, he has a really good eye! He’s also 6’3”+ so he has a different perspective than me at 5’ 3”. It can be interesting to see how differently we view the World.

 11.   What first gave you the idea of starting your own blog? 
The movie “Julie and Julia”. (Love that film!) After I watched that movie 2yrs ago I thought what could I start a blog about and thought oh, yeah, I used to do this watercolour painting thing, I guess I could pick that back up:0) Before that it had been years since I had painted. (Wow - Really? I am genuinely surprised at this answer!)
 12.  What do you think has been the best part of having a blog?
 Definitely the people I have met. What an awesome support system. Keeps me accountable, makes me strive to get better at my craft and keeps me sane as a military wife that moves around all of the time. I have a group of friends and mentors that move with me wherever I am.

13.  And the most difficult part?
That would be when blogger ate my blog and I had to start all over from scratch, that was a bad couple of weeks. (That must have been a nightmare!)

14.  You paint still life’s more than any other subject. Why is that? Are you ever tempted to paint a landscape or portrait?
I have painted landscapes and portraits. I had an epiphany this year that the reason I enjoy still life paintings so much is that I love interiors and design (hence my degree) and I’m just not as interested in the exterior as I am the inside and the objects within. I love to set up little vignettes that I think are beautiful or make an ordinary object elegant. My favourite landscape that I’ve painted is “Venetian Canal” and I realized the other day that I like it so much because you get glimpses into the interior of this building.

15.  I tend to paint from life when the subject allows. Do you ever paint or draw from life, or do you find photo’s to be more useful?
 I paint from photos. I spend a lot of time getting the perfect photograph. I think it through for several days and end up taking around 300 photos of each still life or subject so that I capture the perfect light, composition, etc. (Thank goodness for digital camera's!)

16.  I tend to avoid painting landscapes because I find them uninspiring. Are there any particular subjects that you avoid painting? If so, why is that?
 I find portraits hard to wrap my brain around. I also think that I gravitate to works that lacking people, I’ve always been a fan of Hopper—I always feel like you’re looking in or not really part of the action. In fact if I have a photo of a landscape I will take out the people and cars because I find it to be visual clutter. It may be a glimpse into me as a person, I enjoy my friends but I also enjoy my alone time.

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

I would like to paint my boys, I’m so inspired by Carol Carter and her growth series. She painted a portrait of her son for every year of his life. I really want to do this for my boys. (I'd like to do a portrait of my Son too.)

18.  This is a difficult question. Which of your paintings is your favourite to date?
 I really feel like each painting builds off the other and the more I paint the more I start to find the style and paintings that really feel like me. “Nostalgia” really made me start to focus more on capturing a certain feeling that I wanted. I also feel with my painting “Anticipation” I really found an aesthetic I like. I want to have contemporary compositions with dramatic lighting and objects that resonate with people. More people have shared stories with me about their time canning with their Grandmothers and Mothers. I really love that it evokes good memories for them.



19.  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 really push through on my paintings, I rarely stop in the middle. I have maybe 2 or 3 that I didn’t finish. I paint from left to right and I completely finish a section before I move to the next section, I think this helps me eliminate that stage in the middle where things can get muddy and discouraging. 

  20.What are your three all time favourite paintings by any Artist, dead or alive?
 Wow this is a tough one: I’m constantly finding new art all the time by my fellow bloggy artists that I love. I’m trying to build up a collection.
I love a lot of Edward Hopper “Room by the Sea” is a favourite, appeals to my Interior Design roots, I love the simplicity and the light.
I came across Alvin Richard in the blog world. I would say his art has been the most influential for me so far. He puts so much research and thought behind his compositions. They tell a story and they’re so personal, can’t get enough of his work.
And while not a painting, I am obsessed with chairs and design and I love Charles and Ray Eames. Love this aesthetic it is a definite inspiration for me I want my art to be complimentary to their style. I love the vibe and I will own this chair one day :0)

Speed round!
  1. Early bird or night owl? - Definite Night Owl—Whooo Whoooo :0)
  1. Sweet or savoury? - Both
  1. Tea or coffee? -Tea, not a coffee drinker
  1. Romantic comedy or serious drama? - Romantic comedy
  1. Drive or walk? -Both
  1. Too warm or too cool? - We move all of the time, so I find it fun to live in the South for a while where you can wear shorts in the Winter and also live in the cooler climate where the kids get to enjoy the snow.. I do love my sunshine I don’t enjoy gray days.
  1. Friends for dinner or dinner at friends? Friends for dinner (but not in a Hannibal Lecter kind of way :0) (Hehehe)
  1. Autumn or Spring? Love all seasons
  1. Favourite colour? Really depends on what I’m using it for. When I’m painting I love to incorporate Turquoise somewhere in my painting. I love red (me too), I always have a red purse or red polish on my toes.
    10.  Ask the questions or answer the questions? - I think I learn both ways

Thank you so much Carrie! I really enjoyed reading your answers!

As for me... well don't go away, because between 'bear time' I am also working on something else which I hope to finish soon. So watch this space!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Seeking 'The Light Side of the Moon'...

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for leaving me such heart-felt comments on my last post about Codi.

As you know, I almost always answer comments individually at the end of the comment roll, but this time I hope you will understand that though I read and absorbed them ALL, I really couldn't go back and type an individual response to each one, because I just found it too emotionally difficult.

It took me a while to make my way down to my art room because Codi would normally come with me and so I knew I was going to really feel it... I think they call it 'self preservation'.
But knowing I needed to get my next bear on the go I finally made a start a few days ago.
Ordinarily I would have been doing this all over the Christmas holiday and so it would have been nearly finished by now. Instead I was curled up in my bed with a nine roll pack of tissues - But, at least the ball is now rolling.

Anyway, I thought I would give you a little preview.
I have got the under-painting down now, most of the background and even part of the fiddle, but in this photograph it shows only the first layer of under-painting, where I begin to establish my darkest and lightest areas...

Though it looks quite light at this stage, like the last bear, this will also be very warm and very dark once it's complete.

Meanwhile, I found that painting really helped to take my mind off of what's happened. In fact, it has been the only time that my head has rested since... well, just... since :0(
Painting is a really therapeutic way of passing time isn't it?

The problem with concentrating on a series of large paintings is that I have little to post between. This got me thinking about sketching - AGAIN.
Anyway, I came across this wonderful book called 'An Illustrated Life', by Danny Gregory. Every page is crammed full of sketchbook excerpts, from both amateur and professional Artists. There are hundreds of them and I've never yet read a book that has made me want to rush out and fill a sketchbook as this book has. It's totally non intimidating and shows not just carefully thought out sketches, but also carefree and hap-hazard ones too, just as I like them!

I am now on the look out for a decent sketchbook, which I have never yet found, so, if any of you have managed to find a good one, I'm sure we all want to know about it!

Before I go, this year I thought it might be a fun idea to put some sort of fact about my day at the end of each post, such as, what music I listened to today, or what's for dinner tonight. So, here is this years first fact...

What music I listened to whilst painting today? 

'PINK FLOYD', because it suits my current mood - Both 'The Wall' and 'Dark Side of the Moon', twice each - and both at at least 100 decibels as this is the ONLY way to listen to Pink Floyd. 

Back soon...


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