Tag Archives: art

Watering it all down a bit


I’ve been trying out watercolours for the first time since my age was measured in single digits. I didn’t like it then, as I’m too much of a perfectionist and it annoyed me that watercolour paint didn’t stay where I put it.

But life itself is much more fluid these days. I thought perhaps I’d let loose of some of my control-freak nature and just see what happened.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share my work or not. Again, letting go of the control freak, I decided what the hell. But I still have to give an advance apology/explanation for my efforts. 1. I have NO training on how to paint with watercolours. 2. I’ve not tried to do this in over 30 years. 3. My brain isn’t working quite right.

So. I meant to find hubby’s pastels and play around, because I had some good clean cardboard I didn’t mind wasting. Instead I found his watercolour paints, from… high school era. Black, white, green, red, blue yellow. Not a lot to work with! Also the only proper watercolour paper I have was gifted to my by Socks, and is post-card sized. So I sat down and looked at what she’d sent me. Paintbrushes that hold water in the barrel. Big black pencils that, mysteriously (to me) said watercolour on their sides. Hmm. So I did a quick sketch of the first thing that came into my head, in black, and then filled it in with paint. Here’s the result.

The eye is terrible – but that’s the first thing I drew and the rest didn’t quite follow along those Disney lines. Ah well.

So, next was to find something else to paint. I wanted to do the bell from my local church. While thinking it over, I realised something. I’ve had a small set of expensive Derwent coloured pencils since I was a teen. I recalled that the tin they live in says ‘watercolour’ on it. Holy shit, I’ve had a good set of watercolour pencils for decades and didn’t know what they were for.

So I drew the bell. The perspective is all wrong. I know. I refuse to care.

I thought about it for days before I finally got the nerve up to wet it down.

I actually made the perspective worse! But I learned a lot and it was fast and, dare I say, fun. I’ve another project in mind, way above my skill, but screw it, you have to start somewhere.

Usyaka has inspired a Brushing!



Sorry for shouting, but I got to play tonight and finished up the picture that Usyaka inspired. It’s not exact from the photo, I managed to use my imagination a bit. My favorite part of the original photo was the sheer power in her hind legs – the beauty of muscle in motion and the line of her leg and tail. Hope you like it!


Why ‘Spiders’?


Hi!!!! It’s Friday, and for the second time in nearly two years, that means something to me again! Woot! I have ‘me time’ for one evening and two whole days!

I’m having blogging withdrawals, and Brushes withdrawals. I’ve been working on a version of Usyaka, but I’m nowhere near happy with it yet, so I won’t post it tonight.

I thought I’d return to the reason I started the blog: the writing! I miss it. Sometimes I didn’t really feel like writing, but once I started I was happier every time. Except for the long-ass post that got lost, that still irritates me.

Anyhoo, one of the things I’ve been meaning to write about is my blog name, and why I chose ‘spiders’ instead of any other creature when ‘dragons’ was taken.

I used to be afraid of spiders, like every kid is, or should be. It is way easier (and safer) to teach your child that all snakes and spiders are dangerous than to wait until they pick one up and then decide if it is venomous or not. That never really worked with me as regards snakes – I could and did catch any of them I could find. I got bitten by a wild snake once, and to this day I have no idea what kind of snake it was because the bite worked: I let go. It wasn’t poisonous, thankfully.

In any case this was Florida. We had loads of dangerous spiders: the black widow and the brown recluse being the two we all worried about. But when I was small, all spiders were bad and scary so ‘eww’ and/or ‘eek’ would have been my reaction to any and all of them.

Until I did a chore for my father.

When we moved to Florida, we built a garage on to the ‘new’ house, which was a red brick ranch. The builders left a bunch of bricks and concrete cinder blocks behind. Dad stacked them up neatly at the side of the house, and there they remained for nearly a decade. One day he decided they needed to be moved – I think when we bought a shed and needed a wider path to get it around the back of the house. I was old enough, and strong enough, and tomboy enough, to either be chosen for the job or told to do it. I’m bad with time sense, but I was younger than 12 and older than 9… I think.

Every damn brick I picked up had spiders living in the three holes, or between the bricks. Every damn brick had at least three arachnid residents. Any other insect, I would have been fascinated. The spiders kept creeping me out.

I eventually got sick and tired of saying ‘eww’ and started paying attention to them. I saw how they never even attempted to bite me. I saw how they were all sizes and body shapes and colours. Some were tiny and black with bright white spots and jumped instead of walked. Some had skinny, long legs and elongated bodies. Some were large and fat and a lovely grey shade with brown legs.

I found that I was beginning to like some of them, especially the grey ones. I caught some and kept them in jars. I would take them out and play with them – they were 2 inches long, or longer with their legs stretched out. They never bit, but they were fast! I always worried I would hurt one by accident. For all their size, they were soft and fragile.

I just remembered this: a pencil drawing I did of my favourite grey spider when I was 13. I put the spider on the paper and drew points where her feet touched, so this is life-size.

I learned how to tell the males from females. I learned that if you blow a little puff of air on a spider, they freeze in their tracks. There goes the urban myth that spiders crawl into our mouths when we are asleep – I guarantee you they hate being breathed on!

Eventually I bought myself a tarantula. I named her Chrysanthemum the Tarantulum. She was incredible. Her feet were, to the naked eye, as round and smooth as a finger tip. But somehow they could hold on to you! You could feel the foot clinging. It was as if she and I were the opposite sides of Velcro. She was so strong, too – she peeled back the plastic lid on her massive pickle jar and held it open while she chewed through the screen to escape (found her in my closet). We obtained a terrarium.

My mother was fascinated with ‘Chrissy’ too. Her co-workers would catch crickets in the office for her to being home as food. If we had company over, mom would ask if they wanted to meet her. I’d put her on the kitchen table and we’d giggle as she turned her body sideways to go between the salt and pepper instead of going around or over. Then she’d put on a burst of speed and startle the hell out of all of us.

When I was 15, I learned how to give myself a tattoo. I sat on the couch and diligently branded my left hand with a spider tat. It was black ink but has been blue for decades because home-grown tattoos go too deep and the ink changes colour. But it still looks like a spider!

I don’t catch wild spiders to keep any more, and it is too cold here for me to want to get another tarantula. But I never kill them, and I always feel bad when Lokii gobbles one down.

That blue blur at the bottom of the pic is my tattoo. It isn’t actually blurry, just a bad shot!

New art… 11/22/63


Art inspired by Stephen King’s latest book, 11/22/63.

Hey there hi there ho there! I’m going to share my first attempt at something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

First, I have to apologise for the quality of the background photo: I used the iPad. The iPad camera, as we know, is terrible. The color is all wrong, and the page is curved at the top from holding the book open to take the picture. This is, without a doubt, an experiment in progress. But the hubby loves it, so I think I can eventually get where I want to go with this…

Now, I’ll tell you just what the hell this is! It is the first page of Stephen King’s latest book, ’11/22/63′, with John F Kennedy’s head (from the US fifty-cent coin) drawn between the text.

I got the idea from how occasionally on a typed page I will see a pattern in the white space between words. My desire and intent is to do a drawing relevant to the book (say, a whale on page one of Moby Dick) but in one continuous line, not broken like this one.

’11/22/63′ is about someone getting the chance to go back in time and stop the Kennedy assassination so I found a good, and easy, picture of Kennedy. I really wanted to use a horribly gory one of his autopsy – it seemed to fit with King so much better! However, the pics I found could be of anyone’s black and white brains and hair on an autopsy table. Anyway, with this picture from the coin as a first attempt the subject is indeed recognisable but still not what I wanted. As always, a learning process!

Ps: I’ve not finished the novel yet, so no spoilers please!

Digital Pet Portraits Ireland


Digital pet portraits, any animal! All I need is a digital photo and in a few days, your portrait will be emailed to you in a high quality jpeg or tiff, suitable for printing at any photo shop or even to be put on canvas. Can also be used as your computer’s desktop wallpaper or your social media ‘avatar.’

Very reasonable prices! At today’s exchange rate £20/€23/$31. I do accept PayPal.
Examples of my work are throughout this blog, but here are two recent portraits.



Poulnabrone portal tomb has been brushed…


I started this last night, just playing with settings and creating some plants that don’t exist. I put the ‘grass’ in and called it a night.
Today I had another look, and decided to fill the empty space. But with what? I found a photo we took at the Poulnabrone dolmen in Co Claire a few years ago, and made it teeny tiny and sketched it in. Then added a wonky sky. This is a down n dirty, super-fast drawing. I enjoyed creating it.

It’s a strange feeling out there, in the Burren. Nothing for miles, rock and lichen and silence. If you believe in ley lines there is likely one running through the area. Digital cameras don’t really like to work next to the tomb.
I know I’ll be using this photo again, or another from one of our several visits, because I feel such a connection to this place.

The Open Fair is now closed!


I’m home! And I have one rum and Pepsi Max in me, and I’ve caught up with all the internets stuff I missed from being gone all day.

The venue was packed full of exhibitors. I had half of an 8 foot table, and a hard wall behind me. It was tiiiight. There was a painter to my right, and a wood-crafts couple on my left. I had to ask painter lady to move a huge painting so I had some wall space. All of us had to squeeze between my end and painter-lady’s table to get out on to the floor. Here’s a couple of really bad iPad camera shots of the room, from my view point.



First pic shows the length of the room. There were back-to-back tables in two rows down the centre like that pic, two more in the middle, and then all three outside walls were filled. Lots of people! Bakers, jewellery makers, knitters, photographers, painters, pasties (not usually an Irish thing, and not what strippers wear), woodworkers, a salsa dancing couple that offered lessons, bog oak art, people doing something that had something to do with angels… loads! I was the only one doing digital art, and the only one doing inexpensive portraits.

Here’s my wall…lots of familiar faces here!

A hurried slap-dash stick it up there quick effort! We were running late.

And, because I see no reason not to put my face on here as long as I don’t use my name (until I decide otherwise)… Here’s me posing in front of my wee ‘booth.’


So… I didn’t sell anything, at all. Neither did painter-lady, and the wood furniture guy sold two candleholders and one little wood framed mirror – and he drove two hours to be there! I did have two people (that I know from town) show real interest in having a portrait done; one for herself and one as a gift. One little girl asked her daddy to buy her a picture of Fergus, but daddy said no, the meanie.

That was really it! But I am NOT disheartened or disappointed. I had the guts to do this, first of all. My hubby, my sister, and my best friend are proud of me. And you know what? I’m proud of me, too.

I know what needs to be done differently, now. I know how to talk to browsing strangers, and I know how to get their interest, sort of. But mainly I learned that when asked if I have a product or a service the answer is service! The shoppers didn’t want something later, they wanted it now, and since I didn’t have my service in my head as what I was actually selling, I didn’t convince anyone that I had a product. Does that make sense? It does to me… It wasn’t the right forum for what I was selling, the way I was selling it. Next time will be different!

One last pic, of me with my precious iPad now showing my markdown on prints; and me, showing by my smile that I am not defeated!


Must not kill.


I am so angry and sickened I could spit, bite someone, and spit again.

Last week we went to Harvey Norman and had 3 prints made on photo paper, to test their quality. It was perfect, and each 8×10 was €2. Good deal, we were happy with that.

We went back today to print another 15 for sale at the show tomorrow. We did our thing at the kiosk and ordered the prints, I took the receipt to Bottled Shite (she was as-thick-as), waited 10 mins, got our prints. I took a look before we left to go pay… and they were all gloss, not matte. Looked like utter shit. They looked like cheap cartoons.

Me: Why are these gloss? We ordered matte.
Her: Oh they didn’t bring us matte paper this week, we only have gloss.

Thanks for fuckin telling me when I ordered them, and thanks for telling me again when you handed me the closed envelope with my prints, you useless twit.

We spent another 10 minutes ringing people for advice, trying find another place, and/or deciding to keep the horrible pics. We ended up giving them back, which pissed me off – who’s to say that dimbulb doesn’t steal my work, even if it did look crappy? We went to another place, and the kiosk there read at least two of my drawings completely wrong – the color was off, and there were lines that must have come from my drawing’s several layers, but they didn’t show anywhere else! Not on my iPad, not the Mac, not in Photoshop even at best resolution and the maximum Dpi…So those two were unprintable. Then they wanted €6.50 EACH (remember, they were €2 in HN?!?) and four flipping hours to print. And we live over 30 mins away.

Well, when I heard €6.50 I started to almost-cry. Too much frustration and running around and now the money we do not have to spend is being more than tripled? I went outside the shop to cool off.

Hubby got them to lower the price to €4 each. Still; double the budget, and I am so disappointed. We put a lot of time and organisation into this part. Now my plan has to change, my day has been wasted, and one of my favorite drawings now cannot be shown on good photo paper.

Screw you, Harvey Norman, and your stupid, useless worker who doesn’t have the sense god gave a rock. I couldn’t even tell her how upset I was: she clearly didn’t understand the problem or didn’t care, and what was she going to do about it at that point anyway? I didn’t want prints that look terrible, even at half price for screwing them up…not that she offered.

A sorry would have been nice, an offer of some sort of solution would have been nicer, but best of all would have been to tell me that what I needed was not available.