Blue Banded Bees

watercolour bee studies

watercolour bee studies

Hi there, how are you?

This week I discovered there are blue banded bees living in Australia.

They are so beautiful I thought I would draw a few.

The top right is not a blue bee I just liked the position the photo was taken from.

I wanted to try painting them looser so I used a small squirrel mop brush and painted them in as few strokes as possible.

Not bad for quick sketches though if they were painted with a smaller with a smaller brush they would be more convincing.

loose watercolour bees
loose watercolour bees

loose watercolour bees

Louise fletcher ran her free taster course this week. I took this course last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself so I joined again.

So far I’ve only managed the first exercise. I took plenty of notes so will play with the others later.

Most people use acrylic paint in this course; I found some old tester pots of emulsion in the garage. There was a pink, a green and a yellow, not colours I normally put together but they needed using up.

We were supposed to mask the paper off a large sheet of paper into sections, this would have made the squares on my A4 paper very small so after sploshing paint all over the paper I cut it up into six squares roughly 4” in size. They sometimes look like mini abstract paintings.

find your joy lesson 1
find your joy lesson 1

What to do with all of the little squares. Last time I used them as backgrounds and painted birds on them, Bali minors. Since I have been painting bees I thought I would try a little bee.

It was fun to paint although I think I need to practice more painting with acrylics.

find your joy bee painting
Find your joy bee painting


Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. till next time, have fun


Quince Jam’s Ready For The New Year

quince and sage conserve
Quince and sage conserve

Happy New Year! Hi there, were here 2022. Don’t know about you but I’m so glad 2021 is over.

For the last few weeks of December the only creative thing I’ve done is making jam, some experiments I had in mind.

I thought it would be nice to have something special to use with Christmas dinner apart from the usual apple and cranberry sauces. In my river cottage preserves book there is a recipe for herb jellies but they all used apples for a base.

I wondered whether quince could be used in place of apples and since I hate to waste the pulp would making a conserve work. (FYI my idea of a conserve is a slightly less set jam)

Quince and Sage Conserve

1lb peeled and cored quince (I’m using japonicas here)

1lb sugar

1 medium bunch of sage leaves chopped

Wash jars and place in the oven at 100 degrees, this will warm and sterilize the jars ready for use. The lids I place in a jug of boiled water from the kettle.

  • simmer the fruit with the sage leaves and just enough water to cover the fruit in a pan with a lid till the fruit is soft.
  • Add sugar and heat gently till it dissolves
  • boil rapidly until it reaches setting point – use a sugar thermometer if you can get one to work(i have no luck with them at all) or test on a cool plate/saucer. Drop a teaspoon of jam on the plate leave minute and pull a spoon through the middle of the jam, if it stays separate its set if not carry on and test again. I wanted it a little looser so pulled it off the boil a little earlier.
  • Put the jam into the prewarmed jars and screw on the lids. Jam is scalding hot be careful not to get any on your skin!

My batch made roughly four and a half 170g jars which is roughly 6oz a decent size for condiments.

We used the quince and sage Christmas day and I have to say it goes very well with turkey and ham, a very tasty experiment indeed.

Sorry about the sad jam pictures, we have poor light this time of the year.

quince & lemon jam
Quince & lemon jam

Quince and Lemon Jam

  • I had three lemons in the bowl that I thought would blend very nicely.
  • Grate the rind and squeeze the lemons into the pan along with the quince. I neglected to weigh the fruit first, (Doh!).
  • Simmer the fruit till it is soft.
  • Because I hadn’t weight the fruit I used a large jug and measured it that way. I use 1lb of sugar to 1 pint of fruit it usually works fine.
  • Add sugar and heat gently till it dissolves
  • Boil rapidly and continue on as above recipe till the jam on the plate no longer runs back together.

My batch made seven jars of variable sizes from the small 170g to bigger 1lb jars.

Disclaimer – these recipes are my experiments, I am not a cook, I measure in either metric or imperial depending on the mood my brain is in and as in the quince and lemon recipe sometimes forget to measure till later (doh!)

I put the recipes here because I want to remember them and they won’t be lost on here like the scrappy bit of paper I used last year (again Doh!)

As you may notice I no longer use sticky labels on my preserve jars, I got tired of trying to scrape the old labels off each year so now I use elastic bands and little tags, so much easier.

In other news I did a round up of my favourite artings this year on instagram. I didn’t bother with the algorithm versions as I’m a person not a mathematical equation.

After picking the images I liked it was interesting to see the colours, pink, blue green and orange. Interesting it seems like they were the colours of last year.

Four of the images were watercolour the other five ink. Probably of no interest to any one but me but its interesting to see and notice the direction art is taking me.

my favourite nine
My favourite nine

Once again happy new year people, I’m crossing my fingers, toes, legs and eyes that this year will be better year than last year. That we will all be healthy, happy and creatively inspired.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Inktober 2021 – Acrylic Ink Week 5

19 lotusl 2021 inktober
19 lotus 2021 inktober

Hi there, how are you? Last week of Inktober whew!

I didn’t make it to 31 but it’s been an interesting month.

Lotus –(above) the flower was OK but the thing I like most about this one was the leaf, both the texture and the colours.

Betta fish – these fish are so beautiful but put two males in a tank together and they fight to the death, yikes. They are almost floral in appearance so no wonder I love painting them.

20 betta fish 2021 inktober
20 betta fish 2021 inktober

Bamboo – my first attempts at bamboo with acrylic ink were pretty poor. Getting the lovely dry brush breaks in the stem is incredibly hard. The butterflies were intended to be more two toned, the ink mixes incredibly fast on the brush so they are very well camouflaged.

21 bamboo 2021 inktober
21 bamboo 2021 inktober

Poppy – an experiment trying to paint a poppy with a bold background; interesting textures.

22 red poppy 2021 inktober
22 red poppy 2021 inktober

Not posted but I’m counting them anyway:

I have done a lot of experimenting this month trying to see what works and what doesn’t. These weren’t posted as I wasn’t sure that I liked the way they turned out but these were the best of the bunch.

Wild poppies – The page was splattered with ink from the big red poppy painted on the left side of the sketch book and to stop myself from fiddling as it dried I painted a few loose poppies on the right hand page. It’s better to distract myself than run the risk of ruining the page.

loose poppies 2021 inktober
loose poppies 2021 inktober

Blue poppies – last week I drew blue poppies or rather painted them. I had planned them to be line work but didn’t like the way it turned out so I started again and painted them.

blue poppies 2021 inktober
blue poppies 2021 inktober

Tiny landscapes – this was an experiment to see how the ink flowed. (I was following a tutorial by Nick Stewart, he uses fountain pen ink to make wonderful art.)

I mixed the colours to see if it would separate with water, it did a little but the acrylic ink doesn’t flow as freely as fountain pen ink so not quite as pretty. (this is two pages put together, the landscapes are roughly two inches in size)

tiny landscapes 2021 inktober
Tiny landscapes 2021 inktober

Another experiment testing the flow of the ink, it’s interesting but not what I was looking for. (again this is two pages put together)

landscape 2 2021 inktober
landscape 2 2021 inktober

As I said it’s been an interesting month, I’ve learned a lot about the way these inks work and found some of the properties very useful, the ability to put complimentary colours next to each other without them muting each other out for instance. In some cases I’ve managed to mute the vivid colours and on occasion I’ve enjoyed them.

The thing I don’t like is having to clear space and spend time getting all of the bottles out and then putting it all away at the end, I find watercolour much easier to use even sitting on the sofa with the family but I think I will enjoy it on the occasions that I can spend a longer period of time painting , I need to set up a dedicated space up maybe.

If you are interested in seeing the rest of this years Inktober drawings the links to the posts are below.

Week 1

week 2

week 3

week 4

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Inktober 2021 – Acrylic Ink Week 4

13 seahorse 2021 inktober
13 seahorse 2021 inktober

Hi there, how are you? Is any one still inktobering?

It’s week 4 of inktober already, this month is racing by!

I’ve managed a drawing every day this week so am feeling very happy with myself (pats self on back hehehe).

Seahorse – I found a refillable paint pen in a draw and decided to mix my own colour to fill it with. A few drops of blue, a few drops of green and some white made a lovely shade of turquoise. I drew the seahorse with the pen and painted in some background weeds

Anemone – I was using thin washes of ink trying to build them up like watercolour. It worked quite well, very happy with this one.

14 anemone 2021 inktober
14 anemone 2021 inktober

Iris – again painting with thin washes of ink. I had a hard time mixing colours for this one. What I do like is adding the purple over the yellow the colours didn’t get muddy and grey as once the ink’s dry it can’t move.

15 iris 2021 inktober
15 iris 2021 inktober

Crested guinea fowl – I have a few photos of these and it’s always fun to draw them. The youngling said it looks like it’s dancing, who knows maybe it is hehehe.

16 guinea fowl 2021 inktober
16 guinea fowl 2021 inktober

Helmeted guinea fowl – I saw a photo on the interned and loved it. Had a chuckle to myself as I drew it, just look at that little face hehehe

17 guinea fowl 2021 inktober
17 guinea fowl 2021 inktobe

Blue poppies – I l have tried to grow blue ones before but they’re always eaten as soon as they start to shoot, too tasty me thinks. I’ll have to content myself with drawing them.

I used the paint pen for this as there was still a little ink left in the pen and I didn’t want it to dry up. I used a brush and water to pull some of the ink around the petals.

18 blue poppies 2021 inktober

All in all I’m quite happy with this weeks collection. Colour mixing has been a problem as I only have a basic set of colours but I’m learning lots which is really the point of this month.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Inktober 2021 – Acrylic Ink Week 3

09 crow 2021 inktober
09 crow 2021 inktober

Hi there, how are you?

I’m a bit behind this week with everything and didn’t get a lot of arting done either, only managed four inktobers.

Not sure if I’ll catch up at the end, we’ll see how I feel when it’s time.

Crow – (above)I always love drawing crows and this was no exception. Since the inks are translucent I thought I’d try a spot of glazing. Didn’t go quite to plan as the black has a little more body to it. I like the effect though so I’m calling it a win.

Fish – I was attempting to mix a more muted colour with this one, I find the inks on their own are a little too vibrant. There are some nice washy things going on it the tail and fins, I’ll have to try and remember how I did it.

10 fish 2021 inktober
10 fish 2021 inktober

Cherry blossom – I wondered if I could dry brush with these inks. Chinese brush painting seemed a good way to test it. I didn’t use my best Chinese brushes for this technique as I didn’t want to ruin them with dry acrylic. It worked pretty well though I don’t think its something I’ll do too often.

11 blossom 2021 inktober
11 blossom 2021 inktober

Orchid – another little Chinese brush painting because I enjoyed the cherry blossom painting so much.

12 orchid 2021 inktober
12 orchid 2021 inktober

I didn’t manage to make art every day last week, a very nasty stomach bug has visited upon us and were all a little under the weather. Don’t panic we are recovering and will be fighting fit soon.

I have enjoyed the days I did make something, experimenting with acrylic ink is turning out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Inktober 2021 – Acrylic Ink Week 2

05 fresh honesty 2021 inktober
05 fresh honesty

Hi there, how are you?

Week 2, still doing the Inktobers but not every thing is postable or is the beginning of something and continued the next day.

Honesty 1 – I splashed some ink around to make a background. Earlier in the year I found an honesty plant at the back of the botanical gardens. Every time I visit I take a few photos to sort of document it’s growing season. It has small purple flowers then the pods develop quite quickly.

Backgrounds – experimenting with the ink, dropping colours onto the paper and moving it around. Salt also works on these inks which was a nice surprise. They’re all a bit grungy and drippy but it made some interesting effects.

Honesty 2 – this is the honesty a little later in the season. Love the autumnal colours in this one and the salt effect. It’s one of the backgrounds made earlier in the week.

06 honesty 2021 inktober
06 honesty

Happy frog – I like this little frog, he looks very cheeky. I discovered some of the inks are translucent so don’t cover other colours well. In some parts I tried a little white ink under the colours to make them stand out. Maybe I should have changed his colour to make him stand out more.

07 froggy 2021 inktober
07 happy frog

Sitting frog – another frog; a lot of frogs in my head at the moment apparently. It’s painted on another of the pre-made backgrounds.

08 frog 2021 inktober
08 sitting frog

I don’t think any of these are beautifully rendered but I am learning a lot about the inks properties and hopefully how best to use them.

I haven’t managed posting every day the main problem I have is I need to be sitting at the kitchen table to use them so I can spread out and not have ink spilling everywhere, so everything has to be moved and put away, brought out and set up. It’s quite a palava.

I am looking forward to more experiments next week.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Inktober 2021 – Acrylic Ink

01 octopus 2021 inktober
01 octopus 2021 inktober

Hello every one, how are you?

And so it begins, Inktober
This year I will be playing with acrylic ink. I have a draw full of these colourful little bottles and I need to learn how to use them before they dry up.

I’m not following prompts just trying to turn up each day with something reasonably postable.

Day 1: octopus. The background is some sort of watercolour wash, I’m using the paper up.

Day 2: sunflowers. Yuk! I tried so hard to make this into something presentable but it was not to be sadly. Rather than spent more time over it I decided to pick the least offending part to post.

02 sunflowers 2021 inktober
02 sunflowers 2021 inktober

Day 3: little green bird. After yesterdays disaster I tried something smaller and easier to manage. Little wins.

03 little green bird 2021 inktober
03 little green bird 2021 inktober

Day 4: poppy skeleton. I was a little happier having painted the washy green background on yesterdays bird. I decided I needed to experiment more with the inks and just play.

After wetting the paper I dripped various coloured ink onto the page and moved it around to see what would happen. I really liked the effect and thought it might suit a poppy seed head.

04 poppy seed skeleton 2021-inktober
04 poppy seed skeleton 2021 inktober

When I do Inktober or any challenge for that matter I need to set some parameters or goals I want to achieve; that way I have a reason to carry on even when everything goes wrong.

Day two really sucked, acrylic ink is not one of my favourite mediums and the colours are so vibrant. Probably why they’ve been sitting around unused for so long. Using them for 31 days I will either learn how to use and enjoy them or I’ll know they’re not for me.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Painting More Bali Myna Birds On Colour Swatches

Bali mynah swatch painting
Bali mynah swatch painting

Hi there, how are you?

Last week I painted Bali mynah birds on some colour swatches, this week I finished up painting the last two swatches.(You can see an image of two of the swatches here along with the reason I made them).

I picked out two decent photos from my camera roll and sketched them out on a sketchbook page with a fountain pen. This helped me simplify the image and pick out the important details.

I do prefer the top branch in the sketch but didn’t think it would match the branches in the other paintings so maybe next time I’ll try something different.

bali mynah sketches
Bali mynah sketches

Last time I painted each bird separately which meant mixing and matching the colours for each painting so this time I painted both at the same time, it was much easier.

Bali mynah acrylic swatch painting
Bali mynah acrylic swatch painting

Placing them all together to see how they looked; I had used a limited palette (turquoise, cad orange, buff titanium, black and white) and because of this they all seem to harmonise with each other, even though some were painted a week apart, interesting.

four bali mynah bird paintings
All four Bali mynah bird paintings together.

I think it actually looks like a little series of bird paintings, hehehe.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun