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


Monday, 28 May 2012

The Perfect Art Studio...

Well, it so happens that it's my forty-wunth birthday today, lol!

When Paul asked me what I'd like for my birthday a few weeks ago, I said that what I would really like, is for him to strip out my art room and turn it in to a proper art studio. I sort of said it tongue in cheek, to test his response ;0)

I already know how lucky I am just to have a space of my own for me to work in and I have always SO appreciated that. But anyway, as it happens Paul was very happy to redesign it with me!
Wow! It's the perfect birthday present!!

So, without meaning to sound at all unappreciative of the space I already had, there were five main problems I faced...
  • DUST: Coming mainly from the carpet! Dust and oils are NOT a good combination!
  • LIGHT: You wouldn't believe that you could have too much light in a room would you? But you really can! Having already put a daylight strip-light and diffuser in there for dull days, last year Paul also put two skylights in the roof which made a wonderful difference to the light in the room. The unforeseen problem was that when the sun came out, it turned in to a greenhouse and glared so brightly on to my working area that there was at least two hours during a sunny day that I couldn't paint at all!
  • NO WATER SUPPLY: This was probably the biggest draw back of all. The garden is quite long and I used to trek up and down the garden time after time, sometimes to fill up my pots, sometimes just to wash my hands and sometimes just to wet a cloth so I can clean up! Great for burning calories but not so great if you just want to get stuck in to a days painting!
  • NO INSULATION: This means it got really cold in the winter. I had to run the heater constantly when I was in there. In contrast, in the summer it became unbearably hot!
  • WOODEN WALLS AND CEILING: The darkness of the wood absorbed the light and it felt a little oppressive.
So, on a mission to turn my 'Art Room' into an 'Art Studio', Paul is, as we speak transforming it completely for my most perfect birthday present EVER! 

Here's how...
  • The carpet is being replaced with vinyl floor covering, which will massively reduce the dust problem! 
  • The skylights have been frosted so that the sunlight diffuses through them softly.
  •  Paul is running a mains water supply down there with a sink and taps! I am SO excited about this!
  • The room is now insulated to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  •  The wooden walls are being boarded out in white, which will bounce the light around the room.

As if all that wasn't enough, Paul and Charlie are making bespoke furniture for me...
  • A large square table with one side always set up for watercolour and drawing and the other always set up for oils and acrylics.
  •  White blinds for all the doors and windows, which I can open and shut as I need
  •  Work tops all around with an area specifically for drying my paintings under dust screens

Well, I am feeling suitably spoilt! I can honestly say that I am SO grateful for what he is doing for me. He is just the best husband! 

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share the progress with you :0)
      So, here is my art room at the bottom of the garden. And while Paul began work on the room its self - I began working on the view from it - the pond garden!

      This is the inside of my art room before work began...

      Here you can see the glare streaming through those skylights...

      ...Almost stripped and ready to start

       Preparing the skylight for frosting...

      First layer of frosting. What a difference...

      ...The first few wall and ceiling boards go up

       Paul and Charlie making my drying shelves...

      And while that's been going on, I've been working on the pond...

      My little work of art:0)

      So, today the floor is going down, the walls and ceilings will be trimmed up and the drying shelves will be put in. 

      But Paul has banned me from going in there for the day because he wants me to be surprised later on :0) 

      Hopefully, by the end of next weekend it will be almost complete! 

      I'll take some more pictures as it progresses. Meanwhile, the bear who is so nearly finished is safely tucked away waiting to go back on the easel. 

      And since it's my birthday, I think I will potter off now to do a little sketching :0)

      Tuesday, 22 May 2012

      London, City of Art and Culture...

      You may remember a recent post when I spoke of London?

      I complained that there seemed to be a lack of traditional 'Britishness' such as missing red telephone boxes and traditional old pubs.

      Well, I am here to eat a little humble pie and take some of that back!

      I usually go to London twice a year - not through choice but for various boring calendar events blah, blah, blah... Anyway, on those occasions I am always in a hurry and travel with tunnel vision.

      But last week, Paul took me to London on a two day trip as a sort of up and coming birthday treat. He booked a hotel right in the heart of Soho, which is not an area I had really explored before. We didn't have anything specific planned and decided instead to just follow our noses.

      The first thing that struck me in Soho was the abundance of red telephone boxes. The second was the fact that there were traditional old pubs on just about every corner! Perfect for people watching and boy, there is an interesting variety of people in that part of London ;0) 

      As we made our way through the streets of Soho on foot, we passed a high rise building which had scaffolding all the way up to its roof. There was a man on each level of the scaffold and we found ourselves quite amused as they shouted up and down to each other in their loud cockney accents. I felt a little like I was watching a West End musical and half expected them to break in to song at any moment!

      Eventually we found ourselves in Chinatown. This is somewhere else I'd never been so we decided to stop for a Chinese lunch.

      Next we made our way to the South Bank. We were planning to have a go on the Millennium Wheel but it was so busy that we decided we would do that another time.

      Still, walking along the Thames was quite entertaining on its own.
      There were so many people dressed up as various characters and doing strange things in exchange for coins.

      At one point I got grabbed from behind by a man with a knife - thankfully a plastic one and he was just pretending.

      It's a jolly good thing I don't have a heart condition though ;0) 

       Artists at work...

        ...This is the view he was painting


       ...Hmm... Artists? 
      Those look suspiciously like builders to me!

      I couldn't guess what this man was creating...


       And this is who we would turn to if we were in trouble, lol!

      No need to explain what this building is...

      This horse is made entirely of shredded and
      woven beer cans...

       This is a legal graffiti park...


      Some of the art was amazing!

      Click the pillar for a bigger view...

      During the ten miles that we walked that day, we came across no end of fascinating little streets and gallery's, which of course we had to explore :0)


       And here's Paul being dragged in to yet another art gallery...


       There were some fascinating treasures inside...


       With equally fascinating price tags!!!


                                      ...Yes, it really does say £7,500.00!

      I think this was inspired by Picasso :0)

       This banana sculpture is made of porcelain...

      We also visited the Tate Modern, just for a giggle. There is a Damien Hirst exhibition there at the moment  and whilst I have no interest in his butchery, we did get to see his £20,000,000 diamond skull, which I believe is his latest and most expensive piece of work.

      It was in a room so dark that we had to hold on to each other just so we didn't get lost! When we got inside, we found ourselves gazing at the skull just a few inches away inside a glass case beneath a spot light. It was blindingly bright! What a shame we weren't aloud to take a photograph :0(

      After that, we had a little look around the rest of the Gallery.

      We came across some Picasso paintings which I was really pleased to see, amongst some other exhibits which we didn't really understand at all.

      You can imagine my husband. He spent most of the time scratching his head!


       ...And I think the words he spoke were, "What the???"

      ...Hmm.. Art? Or just plain cruelty?

      Who actually likes to look at this stuff???

      The following day, suitably full up with tea and a croissant, we made our way to Covent Garden where there was a huge food market going on in the street.

      We were beckoned over to one of the stalls by two African ladies dressed in stunning orange outfits, who offered us a taster of the food that they were cooking. It was 'blow your head off' food, but extremely tasty!

      As we thanked the ladies and wandered off, another lady chased after us and told us that she worked for Sky 1. She said that they had filmed Paul and I trying the food for a new show called 'Food to Market'. We hadn't even realised!
      She asked us if we would mind signing something to say they could use the footage. Hmm.. okay I said, but I wished I had had my roots done first, lol!

      The view over Covent Garden in the evening...

      Anyway, during our trip we learned to appreciate London and all of it's culture.
      But this is where I was when I would normally have been creating my own artwork!

      I did think about taking my sketchbook, but as much as Paul wouldn't have minded, I find it much easier to sketch alone, so I don't have to think about time. 
      But I hope you enjoyed sharing some of my London trip with me.

      And if you do ever visit London yourself, Covent Garden, The South Bank and Soho are a must see experience!
      Wow! What an unusually EPIC post!!!

      Anyway, I promise I'll be back soon with some of my own artwork  :0)




      Monday, 14 May 2012

      Watercolour cocktail...

      It has been such a long time since I picked up a watercolour brush.  It feels like at least a year!
      Could it really be that long?
      Quite possibly!

      Anyway, on Saturday, I had the entire day and evening to myself :0)
      This almost never happens and having worked on the bear for as long as I could without the risk of either smudging or overdosing on fumes, it was time to put him to one side.

      The problem was, I just didn’t want to leave the art room! After all, nobody was going to be home until at least 8 o'clock. It would be criminal not to make the most of that time to myself, wouldn't it?

      I have always both admired and envied those people that complete a small painting from start to finish in just one day and as I pondered on the fact that it was 3.30pm already, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could actually do that myself.

      I knew that if I attempted it, I would have to pull out those dusty watercolours but, hmmm… did I really want to go back there? After all, my experience with watercolours under the guidance of a tutor was not good - at all!

      Then I remembered a still life I had set up a long time ago. I still had the photograph I had taken of the arrangement, so I thought, why not have a go?

      Three hours later I was washing my brushes having completed this painting...

      Well it seems that sometimes it really does pay to walk away and come back at a later date.
      The break I took from watercolours has enabled me to shed all of the influences that had been drummed in to me back then by a tutor.  I was so irritated by that constant pressure to paint 'loosely' - Ugh, I began to hate that word!

      Of course I admire other Artist's that can work that way, but this time I picked up my brush with no pressure to throw the paint around. I simply painted something that I wanted to paint in a way that felt natural to me - and as simple as it is, I like it! :0)

      Now, don't expect me to rush out and do a landscape any time soon because that's not going to happen, lol! But I love painting sparkly things like glass and water and so yes I will absolutely be doing more paintings like this from here on :0)
      It was so refreshing to walk in to my studio and just a short while later walk out with a finished painting!

      My Vintage Bears take such a long time because I have to allow for so much drying time between layers.
      But now I have something else I can do while my oil layers are drying. And I am surprised to say that I am actually excited about using watercolour again.
      I just can not wait to do another one!

      Yay!!! :0)

      Monday, 7 May 2012

      Say 'Cheese'...

      My Mum is one person who absolutely hates the camera!
      She is extremely camera shy and is never happy with any photo taken of her - at all - ever!!

      So I thought I'd do what any sensitive daughter would do... 

      ...Plaster her face across the Internet! Mwahahahahah!!

      I've had a particular photograph of Mum that I've been meaning to draw for some time. She was obviously only young and it is a lovely photograph, so it seemed the obvious reference for me to choose :0)

      What's odd is that whilst I found my Dad very easy to draw, I found my Mum extremely difficult - particularly her mouth for some reason.
      Anyway, I always expected it to be the other way around! 
      I have to say it was a very difficult photo to work from with its soft focus and lack of tone.

      Ordinarily, I would have drawn this as a gift for Mum as I did for my Dad when I drew him. But since I can tell what my Mum is thinking even when she is pretending otherwise, I thought I would spare my self the possible look of horror on her face when she sees it for the first time!
      Of course she may love it and I hope she does, but at worst I enjoyed the challenge and as always it's a good thing to keep drawing as my oil layers dry :0) 

      Speaking of my oils, I know I keep saying it but I really am excited about the progress of the latest bear! 
      I am working on the glass and decanter of red wine at the moment and the richness of the colours are an absolute joy!

      I have only had one day to spend on the painting this Bank Holiday weekend, because on Saturday we needed to buy Charlie some new clothes and shoes - he is growing so fast! I have told him that if he grows any more, he's grounded, lol! ;0) It's so odd that these days I have to reach up to him to give him a cuddle!

      Then, on Sunday he was playing football in an all day tournament. It was SO cold! I can't believe that after the wettest April on record, we are now having the coldest May! Anyway, by the time we arrived home we were almost numb with cold!

      Today though, I took myself and my radio down to my art room at the bottom of the garden and spent about three hours working on the bear, listening to my new favourite radio show, while Paul worked in the garden. And when I couldn't paint anymore I completed Mum's drawing. So it was a most productive and enjoyable day :0)

      Meanwhile, Paul is preparing to completely strip my art room over the next few weeks and redesign it with me! I am so excited! So, if anyone has some studio design tips you can share with me, I would really appreciate it :0D

      Anyway, before I go I will leave you with a random fact about my week...

      Q: What did I learn from our Son Charlie today?

      A: Well, I find it interesting that both Charlie and Adele refer to me as 'Mum' almost all the time - until they want something! Then they calls me 'Mummy'! 
      "Mummy, can I have...", "Mummy, will you please..."

      So, I asked Charlie why this is...

      "Well", he said. "The word Mummy is supposed to trigger your maternal instinct. So I figure that when I call you Mummy, you should instantly do what ever I want!"

      Hmm.. I don't think so Charlie, lol!


      Mummy, I hope you like my drawing :0))

      Wednesday, 2 May 2012

      Artists Helping Artists...

      I recently followed a link to a Podcast called Artists Helping Artists. This is because two exceptional Artists, Crystal Cook and Carrie Waller had been interviewed on the show and I was intrigued to find out what it was all about and of course having followed both for such a long time, to put the voices to the faces!


      I hope they are still speaking to me when they see my sketches! ;0)

      Anyway, I am now a complete addict! It is a great show - so much so that instead of listening to music as I normally would whilst I paint, I have been listening to the soft American twang of Leslie and Dreama, who host the show (though I think Dreama has left now). 
      I am sure that I painted for at least an hour or two more than I usually would in my last couple of sessions because I was truly absorbed. This can only be a good thing!

      It has different shows about individual subjects - from selling art to dealing with galleries and also plenty of studio and blogging tips. The only down side of this is that I learned everything that is wrong with my blog - and there is A LOT! Oh well!

      This brings me nicely on to the subject of blogging. What do you think makes a great blog?

      After listening to the Podcast on the subject, I began to ask myself what draws me to certain blogs and away from others. If I can answer that question, then maybe I can improve my own over time.

      I definitely think that plain backgrounds are less distracting. Apparently black or white is the best colour choice - but I LOVE PINK! And since it's plain I don't think it's distracting. Perhaps you disagree!
      I also think that sometimes if there is too much going on in the side bar it can be a little confusing. This led me to cleaning mine up a little.

      Anyway, how about you? What do you think makes a great blog? Is it the art work? Is it the writing? Is it just great art you are looking for or are you equally interesting in seeing somebody post the work they are not so proud of?

      Another subject I listened to intently was on tips for Artists. 
      They had all sorts of Artists from the land of blog phoning in and sharing their own tips. 
      One good one was that an effective way of removing dust from an oil painting is with a putty rubber (kneedable eraser). I had never thought of trying that before, but. I will definitely remember that one!

      I have my own tip for oils painters when it comes to avoiding dust landing on your painting in the first place.
      Since my vintage bears are painted in such dark tones, the dust shows up really easily, so I have to avoid allowing it to settle in the first place. When I am working on one area I cover the rest with baking paper. This stops dust settling as I am working. And when I finish each session I lay it under my dust screen which Paul made for me. It's basically a wooden frame covered in tightly woven net. This allows the air to flow through but not the dust and since he made that for me I have little or no problem with dust on my work and I don't know what I would do without it!

      Another thing I learned from the show - Did you know that if you leave Linseed Oil to dry on a rag in the open air it can set fire??? I had no idea about this, but apparently it can heat to a very high temperature as it dries and so unless it is deprived of oxygen, ie in an air-tight container, it is a huge fire risk! I would never have known had I not listened to the show and am just glad that I don't use it all that often because I am sure my studio would have burnt down by now otherwise!

      I wonder if any of you have a tip you would like to share with us all?

      I think I am pretty much half way through the bear now :0) But, I must get back in to some sketching too. Since I finished my old sketchbook I have been staring at the first scary blank page of the new one and for some reason I just freeze! Why do we do that?

      Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend :0)

      Back soon :0D


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