Charcoal and Pencil Sketch

I started this sketch a week ago – if you popped by to read the previous post you may recall seeing the beginning of it.  It’s a double page spread in my practise journal and I worked on it most evenings, often erasing lines as often as I sketched them.  I didn’t use any reference photos and it shows – and I changed my mind about which quote to use at the last minute…… And of course I’d do it very differently if I decided to make a painting…. 

……… but it was a good exercise and a chance to work through some of the emotions I was feeling.

I’m hoping that next post I can return to plump teddy bears and other things that got themselves doodled, drawn, coloured or painted this month.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m always happy that you did!

Our Black Friday

One week ago as I hit publish on my last post an horrendous event took place in my country. Today at 1.30 pm we will put aside our activities and take two minutes to stand in silence honouring the memories of the victims.

There is an added element to the Christchurch massacre that we in Dunedin are all painfully aware of. The shooter lived here for two years. He trained at a local gun club. He had originally targeted the local city mosque, but a trip to Christchurch had convinced him there was greater glory to be found in the larger population. So he travelled four hours north and on Friday 15th March 2019 targeted two sacred venues, killing adults and children and was on his way to a third when apprehended.

Much has happened here since the event. There are heroes everywhere I look. The two police officers who chased down the gunman as he drove to his third chosen venue of attack and, without a thought for their own lives, successfully took him into custody barely twenty minutes after the first call for help went out. These two men stand tall above all others.

The first responders, including ordinary passers by, who tried desperately to help, to save, to offer succour. One especially, who wept and was hugged by the news interviewer as they recalled the ghastly scene.

The farmer who voluntarily handed in his legal weapon and tweeted about it, asking others to join him. The gun’s convenience to him was nothing when compared to the acts of violence committed by a like weapon he said.

Jacinda, who paused a moment in surprise when a high school student asked her how she was doing at question time.  “How am I doing?” she repeated “i’m feeling very sad.”  Four words that describe a country.  But Jacinda went straight on.  Government, she said, can do certain things.  But I can’t do it alone, I need your help.  And she called on the students to do all they could to ensure the eradication of racism.  

Throughout the country there has been a mass outpouring of support for the victims and vigils are held outside mosques or in city centres where thousands gather and stand together silently in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters. It is a strong and palpable silence and in that silence there is a strong and palpable resolve growing.

First up is the actions of our Prime Minister. I’ve mentioned her here, no doubt you have probably seen her and heard her speak – it seems she is being touted around the world as an example to all leaders of How to Lead. And she is. New gun laws were introduced within six days. People are lining up to voluntarily hand over their weapons before the legislation is even passed.

Jacinda has said she will never to mention the name of the shooter. So very many of us have joined with her. We will, as a nation, deny him the notoriety he sought. We do not speak of him when we gather. We speak of the victims, of the heroes, of Jacinda. We speak of the vigils and the silence and the moments of heart rending sadness and strength and resilience we observe. We speak of our determination to rise above this event and to be one people in our country.

I look always to find the light in all moments of darkness in this world. It has not been hard to find them in this instance. There is a rising up in us, we will not be silent any longer. Racism is being met head on. This is an environment where the white supremacists, the racists, the ignorant do not feel safe.

I was in my local coffee shop buying my beans last Monday. There was a man sitting at the one table with the morning paper opened in front of him, the front page had been removed, carefully folded and sat to his right with the headline blazing out.

Jared went off to grind my beans for me and I looked at the folded page of the newspaper. The man did not acknowledge me when I asked if I could look at it. His face was hard set and he was reading about the shootings with his finger tracing the words. I’m a bit fey, I have a well developed feel for the intentions of people. He did not feel like a man of good intentions to me.

I looked at the article and as Jared returned I said to him ‘I don’t know why I’m reading this – it’s so ugly’. We talked on about the event and he told me how he and his family had made candles (he has two boys and a lovely wife) and they taken them down to the mosque the night before and joined the hundreds of people standing vigil.  He spoke of the silence and stillness and the tears that ran unchecked.

As we spoke we were both aware that the man at the table quietly got up and left the shop. Jared and I made eye contact and he kept on with his retelling of their experiences the night before. But we both knew in that moment, we had just driven a racist from his comfortable seat.

In choosing to honour the sacrifice of the victims, the actions of our heroes and the changes that have come and will come we as a nation are sending a clear and concise message to right wing terrorists. You are not wanted, you will not be elevated in any way, there is no place for you here.

I swapped my experience during that conversation with Jared, of having met a man some time ago in my street. As I made my way home with Siddy after our early morning walk we met a lone, older gentleman carrying his coffee mug, wandering towards us, kicking at the odd stone that had made its way from a gravel drive to the pavement, removing a piece of litter from between the fence palings on another property. I greeted him and he responded in a thick accent and with a tired smile.

Initially I was puzzled by his aimless wandering with coffee mug in hand – until one day it clicked for me. Of course, here was a man from a culture that interacted on the street, the cafes where the men would gather for their morning coffees and news gathering, perhaps a board game …… as a refugee he found himself suddenly upended here, in an area where there is no street culture to speak of and he, poor soul, spent his mornings looking for it. I felt so sad for him, and at a loss too as it was so hard to communicate anything other than a smile.

We ran into each other often over the ensuing weeks and as his English slowly improved we advanced beyond the simple greeting to brief conversations. One day he asked the name of my friendly dog. I replied ‘Siddy’. He double checked it. Then his face broke into a huge grin “Ah!” he declaimed, throwing his arm in a wide arc towards the city centre, “Ciddy!” “Yes, yes” I laughed with him in his delight. And so it is that to one man at least, Siddy is not named for the prince who became Buddha, he is named for a place of commerce.

I have not seen him for a while now, I guess he has given up looking for the culture he knows and stays home to drink his coffee.

Jared handed me a coffee card telling me to pass it on to the man when I next met him, he was welcome to go to his rotisserie where he would get a free coffee and Jared would play draughts with him. Perhaps, we thought, it could become the hangout for our new locals. We got stupidly excited at the thought.

And I now have a job to do – to find my refugee and take him somewhere for coffee.

I have started a drawing that may become a painting

Thanks for all your kind and heartfelt words in the last post – they confirm what I already knew. The world is full of good people. My blog stands testament to that and so does yours. We need now to stand up and ensure our voices are the ones that are heard. And, as ever, thanks for coming by today I love that you did!

Memories, Dreams and Reflections

I read Carl Jung’s autobiography ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ at a critical time in my life.  One aspect in particular had struck me and contributed to the unfolding process that lead to my re-experiencing, understanding and, ultimately, healing the events of my childhood.

It was without real surprise therefore, as I sat doodling and colouring in my practise journal one evening last week, a memory floated through my mind and I caught it. I recalled the pivotal scene in Jung’s book when, searching for a deeper understanding of the recesses of the mind, he decided to let go of his sanity and immediately experienced himself as dropping through the floor of his study into the abyss.

Once, long ago, I emulated Jung in that moment of consciously choosing to let go, to drop the drop. In a time of deep despair, when it had been made abundantly clear to me the ultimate in paternal wickedness had taken place and the ultimate in maternal indifference had always existed, I would stop trying to deal with the chaotic aftermath, the soul pain, the anguish. I would simply let go just as Jung had.  I would confront my demons, do or die!  

In a flash I was falling into profound blackness. Terrified at the speed of the fall I grasped at the sides of the pit, trying to hold onto the last threads of my sanity with my fingernails. But the fall continued, I kept slipping and sliding and tearing my hands as I tumbled down that pit of despair. Again a vision of Jung in his study appeared in my mind and I remembered, I knew, I must let go.  I was terrified.

Just.  Let.  Go.

I let go.

I fell no further, gently my feet touched ground.  I was already at the bottom of the pit, perhaps I always had been.  And as I stood in that deep, still, silent, blackness from far, far away a light began to glow.

What followed changed my life. Perhaps I should say changed me at a fundamental, primeval level. Changed the way my brain and mind and heart worked. Changed my very being and changed my life and my view of the events of my life.

In almost thirty years that experience has never faded from my memory and my understanding of why we live, why we have this human experience has only deepened with the passing of the years.

I looked again at the page on which I was doodling and colouring and wrote ‘Memories, Dreams & Reflections’, closed the book and went to bed.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.

Painting a Teddy Bear

March is my month to get back into my art. I have challenged myself to practise sketching daily and to complete a painting every week. Last week an owl appeared. This week it’s been teddy bears – and a dragon or three, but they can wait.

Two Teddy Bear sketches were made in my A4 sketch book:

A plump Teddy Boy was quickly followed by an equally round Teddy Girl

I thought they had potential – so I went on and made another, smaller, sketch of the girl, which in turn, went on to become a watercolour painting. Here she is, about one third of the way through

Of course, being me, I forgot to record anything else til she was


Painted on an A5 sheet of 300gsm watercolour paper using watercolor paints, graphite pencil and white and black pens. The balloons are finished off with a little touch of the shimmery stuff……..

I then had some smaller prints made and turned them into cards. A fortuitous mistake by the woman at the print shop gave me a bonus close-up image

I’m also pleased to report that this week saw the completion of a wip that has sat in my basket for two years. I’d kind of forgotten about it for most of the two years. Two years!! (hangs head in shame) In the end it took ten minutes to finish the row of daisy stitches I had decided to do on the back yoke. This is my first garment made using Tunisian crochet and vaguely following a pattern in my how-to book. I am rather fond of the weave like texture you get from this technique.

The photo on the left is closer to the true colour.

I also framed the owl as a frame makes anything look better. Also, in my house it’s hard to capture anything without the addition of a few sparkles from a light catcher …….

Here’s Siddy caught watching something interesting on TV. Orlando doesn’t care about it.

PS If you can’t figure out which way is up on Siddy there is an explanation in my response to Tialys comment……….

So, that’s the second week of my March challenge completed. Thanks for coming by today, I’m happy that you did!

Owl Wisdom

Yesterday I received one of those ‘Happy Anniversary’ notes from WordPress, reminding me that I did still have a blog and despite not having posted once in February, I might quite like to celebrate six years of blogging with a post …..

So here I am.  Six years – isn’t that great.  Thank you all for being here and being so nice and encouraging and such fun……..  

I’ll keep this brief, airy and light filled and just a little bit arty.

With me is the first completed mixed media work in about two years.  I’m sadly out of practise as you will most likely note.  In order to get back into the flow I did a class with the wonderful Tamara LaPorte called Owl Wisdom.  Here’s my version

The sketch


on A3 heavy duty watercolour paper.

And that’s where the photographing stopped until it got to here – almost finished

Finished – or as good as it’s going to get

I scribbled onto the photo on my phone in an effort to avoid having to upload to computer and edit in the photo editor with a watermark….  I had to do all that uploading anyway as WordPress seems to have deleted direct access to my Google Photo account …….  Is it just me or has that happened to you too?

During the last month I knitted and crocheted.  The one item completed is this scarf made with some beautiful beaded silk thread that has been in my stash for years, it drapes beautifully

For a change, let’s finish with Orlando.  He was playing with his nepeta mouse, got high and turned his attention to putting on my shoes and trying to catch the light catcher sparkles all at the same time – then he fell asleep….  


Thanks for coming by to check us out.  Love that you did!  

Two for January

I’m just going to squeeze in another post for January……..  Even so, I can’t be accused of being a prolific blogger  🙂

I haven’t achieved much in the art room, but did settle for a bit to play with some inks, pens and a little stamp.  Clearly early morning walks by the ocean are having an effect


these first two are blurry thanks to my inability to keep the phone still……



It’s basically playing with colour and shapes and doodling.. Like everything I do these days I tend to make two or three at the same time and then turn them into cards.   So…


And just to change it up a bit I did two of these, but one has gone away already



I love the colours of them all – inks are so much fun – the watercolours and acrylics are still languishing…..

How has your January going, going, gone?  It’s either overly warm here or it’s – not.  It’s hard to make plans for a picnic that’s for sure.   Siddy and I continue to pursue our daily goal of leaving random people happier for having met us on our walks – he has such an assortment of fans it’s quite delightful.

This is him at the window, greeting his two favourite special people  –


Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did.

A Christmas Retrospective and Secret Projects

Greetings friends from a warm and sunny city in the far southern reaches of the globe.

I know a few of you are waiting to see the secret handwork projects that I was beavering away on in the months before Christmas.  So here they are


Oh no, that’s just Siddy showing off his sparkly festive outfit – and can you see the piles of parcels?  That’s how the King girls roll when we get to spend a bit of time together alone at Christmas………..


Oops, no –  that’s just me and Siddy taking our very early morning Christmas Day walk on the beach………..  7 am on a perfect morning.   Bliss!


Ah, here we are.  A Persian Tiles Blanket for my ED, Joanna, in her favourite colours


And a detail shot if you are interested.  I went for a 3-D look on the leaves by keeping the hook size the same and adding an extra double-treble……..  And I really like how it turned out


And Orlando on pressing duty


Now, for YD, Danella, this is ‘Winnie’s Wonderland’ from Emily Littlefair’s book ‘ Round and Round the Crochet Hook’ adapted from a square throw to an elongated bed end throw.  This is the centre – loads of texture and interest, I really enjoyed making this one

2 detail 14 Sept.jpg

Here ’tis as it grew bigger


and here it is in-situ – the green is matched in her headboard which you can’t really see


Finally a pair of baskets, one each for the daughters, made from tee-shirt yarn to hold work in progress and containing all kinds of goodies that are essential for handworking


And the boys got presents too –  it was a good day, loads of fun and everyone was quite worn out  by early evening ………



The year is off to a grand start.  I’m on a get healthy – stay healthy kick and with a new pair of headphones I’m well into meditating with Dr Joe Dispenza.  And there will be watercolour paintings this year!  How’s it going for you so far?

Thanks for coming by today, I’m happy that you did!


Christmas Gnomes

Last year my ‘Secret Santa’ pal from South Africa, the lovely Joey,  included in her present to me two of the cutest little  gnomes I have ever seen.  Here’s a glimpse of one of them, nestled in this years table wreath created by the talented Danella

XmasGnome detailIsn’t he cute!  They are very tiny, being about 7cm high (2 3/4″)   I love them.

ChristmasWreath 2018Then my friend Sue arrived for her annual visit and with her arrived two more gnomes -even tinier and every bit as enchanting.

davAnd here’s the entire family

davAt the time I was putting together a Christmas bag for Siddy’s favourite courier which included a bottle of wine.  The bottle was taller than the bag it was destined for and I hit on the idea of making a bottle topper – so a gnome was created that fit just right and peaked out of the top of the bag.  Of course I forgot to take a photo of it, but the courier was delighted.  Luckily my first attempt at a bottle topper gnome was too big and he has been photographed

davHe is with a friendly pukeko who also lives in my house.  This gnome was made for grander things than being a leaning post for an affectionate swamp hen however and soon took up residence in The Green Room 

Christmas tree 2018While all this collecting, creating and curating of Gnomes was going on there was also an excess of cards being made.  Some have been squirreled away for later, some have been sent out already.  davThese are ‘S’ Fold cards.  My friend Alys gave me the pattern a while back and I had fun playing around with the idea.  The first card is a simplified version.

Above card closed, below opened

davAnd this one features the extra component,  partially open ……..

Gnome gift card………. almost open ……..

dav…………fully open

davCrafting fun!

Then of course many more gnomes were called into service – this is just a few of them

davThese were a conveyor belt, multi step process that was both time consuming and daunting – but thoroughly worthwhile.  It produced cards that are sparkly, texture rich and fun.

davAnd of course we must finish with Siddy.  Not quite a gnome, but trying very hard to be a good reindeer.  Here he is, trying on his antlers,  ready to help  Santa if required

davThank you for coming by today, have a  happy and blessed Christmas, Mid-Summer. Mid-Winter, Hanukkah and or Kwanzaa.   Wherever you are in the world and however you spend this season, be happy, make someone else happy and remember you have the power to change the world with a smile.  With love and thanks for all the times you have made me think, made me feel, made me smile.

A Green Room

Hello there my lovely friends!  I thought I’d pop in briefly to say ‘Hi!’ before I disappear for a summer break – like I haven’t been taking a break from blogging already.   But you know, I’ve been busy making stuff, and keeping up with all of you regular bloggers and getting on with life and of course coping with the most dismal spring weather EVER!!

The really good news though is I finally managed to get my green room made.  What you may ask is a green room – no, it’s not the place I keep all my celebrity friends waiting.  I don’t have any celebrity friends……  maybe its a ‘garden room’ but that’s not quite right either.  If you get to the end and have a suggestion feel free to let me know what it should be called.

Here’s the back story:

My tiny house has the most inconveniently placed and useless ‘conservatory’ attached to it that you can imagine.  I have no clue what anyone was thinking when someone thought it would be a really good idea to attach a single thickness glass and metal corridor to the side of this tiny house.  But they did and I have inherited it.   It scorches in the summer and freezes in the winter and, at 150cm wide by 200cm long, is good for nothing much more than hanging coats and storing containers of tools, dog gear and shoes and that’s about it.  It also serves as an entry foyer when you enter by the front door.   It is fully visible from the sofa in my sitting room and from the dining table as the long wall of the living space is all ranch slider.  Talk about living in a gold fish bowl!  As said ‘conservatory’ looks directly at a 2m high corrugated iron fence and the white stucco wall of the cottage next door I have always kept it curtained.  The curtains take up space visually and are difficult to keep clean and tidy.  It may be a utilitarian area, but it is visible and I needed for it to look vaguely attractive.

You all know by now I don’t have a garden to speak of here, and what I do have can’t be viewed from inside.  I miss trees terribly, so an idea starting fermenting a year ago from conversations with my friend Alys.  Then my daughter Danella added her ideas and it took shape and form and eventually all the necessary bits were gathered and voila – just in time for Christmas we have a fabulous green room.

Have a look, and then I’ll tell you how I made it.


I applied an opaque window film to the glass wall.  Over that two bamboo garden trellises were stretched and wired together.  The existing curtain rod was handy for attaching and tying and hanging all the separate components.   Fabric ivy in three different varieties was threaded through the trellis and the back wall was ready to go.

The open shelving unit that holds my box of tools, another of gardening equipment, Siddy’s not unextensive wardrobe and shoes for walking in all weathers was given a fabric curtain in keeping with the green theme and various faux plants tastefully scattered about.   The green cat has been a friend for at least 20 years and now has a lovely new resting place


As it is Christmas, a small tree and lights were gifted to me by Danella and suddenly it is magical


That’s a gnome resting on top of that tree.  I don’t have a star of the right size and he had been made and had nothing to do so I popped him on top and he seems quite happy.  Christmas gnomes are a bit of a theme here at the moment.   Maybe I’ll tell you more about that in my next post………

Here’s Siddy posing for you in his lovely new collar and kerchief all the way from Le Belle France and the very kind and lovely Tialys who also made me a rather fabulous pinny for my art room…….


He’s really rather be having his dinner……

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

October Went By In a Blur ……

Time is shooting past isn’t it.  Danella, aka The Official Photographer, went back into hospital and finally, almost eleven months after the initial accident had all the screws,  broken and entire, removed from her leg.  The steel plates however are left in.

Due to the extraordinarily long wait period, Danella was booked into a private hospital.  We reported to Mercy Hospital  at 9 am on the 21st and she was  checked in and ready to go off with her handsome American surgeon within the hour.

I received a call from said handsome American surgeon an hour and a half later, immediately following the surgery and given full details of what had been done.  We had a prolonged and congenial discussion about whether he was a surgeon or a car mechanic after he described having difficulty getting one of the screws out from behind the metal plate and having to use his screwdriver to ‘ping it up’.

It was an almost shocking juxtaposition from the event a year earlier when the Dunedin Hospital had lost my daughter for two hours and no-one could tell me where she was or what was happening to her, followed by the lack of communication over what had been done to her in surgery.

I was incredibly impressed with the quality of care and attention given by the nursing staff at Mercy and by the calm, serene ambience of the reception and the ward.   She was well tended to by her nurse throughout the day and I was encouraged to be there, and  be fully  informed throughout the process.  By 4 pm that day I was driving Danella back home and tucking her in.  Within two days she was up and about and caring totally for herself and was back at work a week later, having been at my place the day before cleaning my hard to reach windows.  🙂  It was, all in all, a really great experience.  I do love it when life serves us up the very best possible outcome and puts bells on it too.

We’ve been enjoying some lovely weather.   Siddy and I took it into out heads to take an extra walk in the evenings as dusk was falling and the streets were a bit quieter so he could practise his off leash walking.  Orlando took it into his head to come with us, each night coming a little further.  So there we were last night, all three of us, heading off for a stroll round the block.

I say ‘stroll’, but the thing that got me was that the puppy became quite serious when he saw that the cat stayed with him.  He didn’t stop to pick up or leave messages as usual, but trotted along, not deviating from the path as is his usual style, as if he needed to get his kitty back home safely as soon as possible.  The kitty trotted along just behind Siddy, tail held high and clearly not bothered.  I was quite puffed as we completed the block in record time.   I’m kind of hoping it doesn’t become a regular occurrence and I kind of wished The Official Photographer could have accompanied us, it must have been quite a sight.

I’m still managing to create at least one card every day and a series gets completed in about three days.  Here’s a few of them.  I do love my owlsimg_20181011_163128.jpgThese are fun and will appeal to certain people in my circle of friends and familydavThis one isn’t a card, I made it for me to put on the fridge just to remind me I don’t need to buy any more crafting supplies – I gave myself an intervention  🙂   I’m not sure if it’s worked…..davI designed a Christmas card and blinged them up with an increasing amount of diamantes and glitter, which you can’t see here, but believe me they sparkle and shine  – these are just the first two, there’s several more….davThen, with the next series, the pets got in on the actimg_20181022_091111.jpgSomewhere along the line I found some unused inky splatter backgrounds and added these gnomes to them  – this made me happy!  They are so useless and cute and I must make moredavdavdavdavAnd to finish a design still in process davThat’s it, that’s October almost done and dusted.  Is it seven weeks til Christmas?

Here’s Siddy getting his aunty Jo’s bed ready for her Christmas visit.  If you look closely you might catch a glimpse of his ‘Superdog’ harness.  He’s looking a little porky on account of too many treats, so not really capable of flying ……… davThanks for coming by today, I love that you did.