Sunday, 10 February 2019

Tooth pick box

Hi all,
This year is turning out to be pretty grim so far. My wife has had the paramedics out 5 times and has had 2 stays in hospital. She had the trots for 3 weeks and has lost 2stone in weight. She was actually in hospital for most of this last week so, what with visiting her and looking after her mum who has heart failure, diabetes and Altzhiemers, I haven't had much time for creativity. I hate making excuses but there you go. My wife came out of hospital on Friday and I got a horrible cold on Saturday. I'm begining to think somebody has it in for me.

I did manage a couple of things. Firstly, I firmed up my next woodturning and pyrography project which I hope to start this week. It is only simple, but I think it will be pretty and it is much needed.
Here it is, a tooth pick box.
I don't know what it is about getting older but I seem to need a tooth pick after every meal, yet when I was younger I never used one ever. Must be something to do with the gaps between ones teeth, what's left of them, getting wider as one get older.

The second thing I managed to do was to finish and upload episoide 4 of The Armchair Artist to Youtube. In episode 3 I digitally painted a rose. And, while the rose was okay the background was
crap. So in episode 4 I get rid of the background and paint in some leaves and a bud. You can see how I go about it by clicking here. Hope you enjoy the video, I do hope to get better.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Walking Stick

Hi all,
I've just had the week from hell so not much achieved regarding creative projects in the workshop. I did start carving some flowers on a walking stick.
However I'm not sure if I should continue with it. The stick is made from chestnut and it is very hard to carve. I've tried the knife and various burrs in my dremel but it is hard work. I guess there was a couple of hours work in what I've done so far so to do a whole stick might not be the best way to spend my time. Perhaps I will do it gradually in the summer when I can sit in the garden and whittle await like a good old boy on a veranda in Oklahoma. I've got a lazy old dog so all I need is the weather.

In between events of a domestic nature, I did manage to do a bit more art on my ipad. This time I thought I'd paint a rose.
If you ignore the crass background I think it is pretty good considering I haven't got a bloody clue what I'm doing with the software. I was experimenting with several brushes to see how I could achieve the effects that I wanted. The problem is I used so many brushes I'm not sure which one had what effect. I guess it is just a matter of practise. Anyway, my foray into digital art all seems to be going in the right direction and will serve me well as and when my legs curtail my activity at the lathe.  I did a short video of the painting and it can be found on my Youtube channel The Armchair Artist .
This is my first video with a taking part so it isn't the best, but like the painting I'm hoping that the videos improve as well.
It is my intention to chart my digital art progress on this channel so if you are interested pleased keep watching.
In my next video I am going to do another rose with a better background and hopefully the flower will be an improvement too.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

2019 a poor start

HI All,
Creating something out of wood is on my to do list but I can't get around to it. 2019 has started very badly for us. Although we are both retired we are full time carers for my mother in law who lives with us. She is in her mid eighties and amongst other things suffers from heart failure and diabetes. Now she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's which is making things very difficult for us. If that wasn't bad enough, I have had the paramedics out twice to my wife, one of which resulted in a visit to the hospital. This happened on the same day I had to take our dog, Daisy to the vets to have an operation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning, I'm just trying to explain why I haven't had much time for creative woodwork. Having said that, I have been messing around with my new ipad and doing a bit of artwork whenever I get a couple of minutes in my chair. Learning how to use the ipad, and the "Procreate" art app have been a welcome distraction from the other stuff. Here is my latest digital painting of some birch trees.
 It wasn't meant to be too realistic because I was just trying to see how digital art could cope with creating depth in a painting. The answer is quite easily, it is done by creating layers and altering the opacity of the brush.

I have also been teaching myself to use "imovie" to edit videos for Youtube. I have now created a new Youtube channel called "The Armchair Artist," on there you can see a small clip of how I went about doing the birches painting. Here is a link 
to the video, which is very basic but I hope to get better at the painting and making videos. If you have any questions or comments, both are welcome.

I will get back to the wood soon, I'm sure of it.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Digital Art

Hi all,
Happy new year to you all.

I'm afraid I'm letting the side down when it comes to creative woodwork, I haven't even managed to turn a pen. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, we have been engulfed in the season of over optimistic expectations, which is just another way of saying Christmas can be a bit of a disappointment. The weather has also been a bit cold for a nesh old soul like me, so I haven't been frequenting the workshop at all.

So to answer the question about what I have been doing I will give you the answer. To cheer myself up at Christmas I coughed up a load of money and bought myself an ipad pro. I know this is difficult to understand given my usual miserly way, but all I can say is I must have had a rush of blood.

Anyway, I've always wanted to have a go at digital art so a I thought Id have a bash. Here is the first image I painted digitally.
It only took me a couple of minutes and I was so impressed I thought I do another, this time of a cherry.
Again, this was only a quick study to see if digital art was viable for me. The next thing I did was to take a photo of a cyclamen leaf from my garden. I then imported that into the ipad to use as a reference on the same screen that I was working on. The image on the top left is the photo.
This enabled me to copy it very easily. Again, it was only quick to see what could be done and I'd have to say it has huge potential. If I had taken my time I think I could have rendered a very close copy.

Anyway, I have been so impressed with the ipad and the app that I used for the painting that I have created a new youtube channel called "The Armchair Artist."  Please click on this  link To see my introductory video and my first real go at a digital painting. It is only short but well worth a look.

Some creative woodwork and pyrography will be on the way soon, but I just thought I share my move to digital art with you. Any comments or questions welcome.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Pyro Santa

Hi all
I managed to carve a Santa for my wife for Christmas without her finding out. This wasn't easy because it took about two months to complete using most of my spare time.
Here it is.

He was carved from a piece of lime. The lantern and robin were carved separately and stuck on at the end.  To throw my wife off the scent whilst carving it I pretended that I was doing a carving on a walking stick. Each time I heard the door to the workshop opening I would stick the Santa up my jumper and start carving the stick.

In the end, I almost ran out of time because I underestimated how long it would take to do the pyrography. In fact, it took several hours and almost as long as the carving itself. It would be more difficult to do pyrography in secret because of the smell, so again I pretended I was working on another project, this time burning flowers on a wood egg.

Anyway I got away with it and her face was a picture when she opened it on Christmas morning.

I hope you like it, any questions please feel free to ask.

To celebrate the new year, I am giving away downloads of my book "Bossyboots." To get a free copy and have a good laugh please click this link.

This is probably the last time this book will be offered for free because I an removing it from the Amazon "select" programme.

So let me wish you all good health a peaceful new year.

Thursday, 13 December 2018


Hi all
Just a quick one. I was hoping to show you the carving that I'm doing, but work on it has been very spasmodic due to other commitments. However, it is now coming along fine and I will be putting up pictures of it in my next post. The carving is mostly complete, so it just need some pyrography and finishing.

One thing I have managed to get on with is my latest drawing. I am doing a set of three to put in some frames I got from a charity shop.

Here is the second picture in the series which is about flowers growing on trellis. This is one of some bindweed that was partly inspired by a photo and the rest came from my imagination.
I am pleased with the way it came out. I used 4 pencils to complete the drawing: a9B, 3B, H and 2H
The images measure 5 inches square or 125mm square in new money.

The paper is Arches hot pressed watercolour paper, which I can thoroughly recommend if your aim is to get a very dark blacks.

You may be wondering how come I can manage to do drawing, but struggle to get on with other creative projects like turning wood and carving etc. Well the simple answer is that I reserve time in the evening for drawing and that is not affected by the temperature and other commitments at the moment.

Please watch out for my next post which will include some woodcarving and pyrography.

Just a reminder, here is the first drawing in the series.

By the way, I have surprise coming your way. I am going to have a go at something completely different. All will be revealed in due course but I can't let you know until after Santa's done his rounds.

Thursday, 6 December 2018


HI all,
My woodworking output is very poor at the moment. It is too cold in the workshop even though I purchased an oil filled radiator. The radiator is okay, perhaps not as warm as I would have liked, but it is slow to warm up, so if I am going into the workshop I need to switch it on about a hour before I go in there and stay for a couple of hours to make it worthwhile. The problem is, like everybody else I am very busy at this time of year so can only snatch small chunks of time for crafting. Having said that, I have managed to finish the carving of a fridge magnet Santa.
He looks quite good and doesn't suffer from the flat face that my other carvings have suffered from. I'm giving it to my wife for an extra Christmas present so I hope she likes it.

So my main creative time at the moment is going into drawing. I manage to snatch a couple of hours each evening before settling down in front of that hopeless little box in the corner. I started pencil drawing last winter and did some roses that I was quite happy with.

These are the roses that I did last year. The only issue I have with them now is that they were drawn with a plain white background and they look incomplete. So I am now experimenting with a dark background which I think gives an image a bit more character.

Here is the first of a series of pencil drawings of climbing plants. This one is a clematis, Montana growing on a trellis and was based on a photograph taken in our back garden.
I'm not sure if it is better than the roses but I think it is more realistic. I would love to know what you think about the two images. Which do you like best?

Besides the background colour there is also another difference and that is in the paper. The rose picture was drawn on Bristol board paper, which is very smooth and incredibly nice to draw on.
The clematis drawing was completed on Archie's hot pressed paper, which although smooth does have a bit of tooth. The reason for choosing the Arches paper was because I wanted a really dark background and after a few tests I found that it was possible to get a much darker black on the Arches than it was on the Bristol board.

Having finished the image I now realise the darkness came at a price. Because the paper has more tooth it does look more grainy and I'm not sure I like that.

My intentions are to do a series of 3 drawings with the theme of flowers growing on a trellis so I will use the Archie's paper for the next 2 to give the series some continuity. However, when they are complete I will probably go back to the Bristol board with some carbon pencil which should give me a darker finish.

In my next post I hope to be able to show you the second flower in this series complete and in its frame.

One really important tip I would give anybody who is is thinking of having a go at drawning. Please don't use cheap sketch pads or paper from your computer. The pads they sell in shops for sketching, are in my opinion, just not good enough for proper drawing. Give yourself half a chance and get a small Bristol board pad for about a fiver. That way you may find that drawing isn't so difficult after all.