Art in August Swansong: Crazy Cat Lady

Mummy and kitten

Mummy and kitten

I know art in August is over, but I found a great tutorial for knitting easy cats and have gone a bit cat crazy. Well, I’m a writer so it’s allowed, especially as hubbie won’t let me get a real cat.

This is the link to the tutorial. I knitted mine flat on 4.5 needles with a random guestimate at rows. They’re rather cute. Might have to let my hands recover now, though, that fluffy wool (especially the black, after I ran out of the beautiful red) is a horrid nightmare to knit, particularly for a newbie.

Back to work on Friday hopefully, although have picked a cold so maybe a day in bed with lemsip and a Harry Potter book might be in order!

 

First cat from the tutorial

First cat from the tutorial

Gorgeous soft kitten close up

Gorgeous soft kitten close up

 

Art in August #31 – Knitted Cat

Knitted Cat

Knitted Cat

And so August comes to an end. My eternal thanks to Laptop on the Ironing Board for coming up with the Art in August challenge; I credit it with enabling me to survive the school holidays with some of my sanity intact (although, now the end is in sight, I seem to have entirely run out of patience!)

I thought I would end with another knitted toy, this time one of my own design (translation: I made it up.) Stuffed with the proper hollow-fibre filling (from a sacrificed pillow) it’s quite soft and cuddly, even if it does look a bit miserable (maybe because it doesn’t have any whiskers, as my daughter pointed out.)

It’s been nice to blog daily again, too, although it has made me wonder how I managed to write and blog every single day last year. I must have had a screw loose! 😉

Hopefully I’ll be back to writing in a week or so, after I’ve reclaimed my house from the marauding invaders (we have extra next week, as people with jobs go back to work and need childcare. I must be crazy!)

I will be working on my fifth novel, Finding Lucy. I’d love to finish it by Christmas, but I haven’t looked at it since I went into labour with my son, nearly four years ago, (where did those years go?!) so it might be Christmas 2015. I’ll keep you posted.

Art in August #30 – Knitted Bunny

Wonky Brown Bunny

Wonky Brown Bunny

My summer obsession with loom-bands leant itself to me trying knitting again. I tried ‘knitting’ using the Rainbow Loom but just ended up with a hot mess, so I convinced my daughter she wanted to learn, so I could get some needles and wool. Five quid later, hubbie reminded me we have buckets of wool and dozens of needles in the loft that used to belong to his Mum. Doh!

I have done basic knitting before – wobbly, colourful scarfs mostly – when hubbie went through his Man Knitting phase (his knitting ended up six foot wide, because he didn’t know the stitches spread after you cast them on). But knitting has never really appealed because it takes soooooooo long.

The thing about making things from loom bands is that nothing I created took more than a couple of hours. I have the attention span of a small child. Novel-writing aside, none of my creative endeavours take more than an hour or two. Some abstracts I’ve added to, spending hours on them in total, but each time I stopped it ‘looked’ finished. Knitting, not so much.

(Wo)man Knitting

(Wo)man Knitting

When my loomband creations started crumbling though (and I’d made as many dragons as I could cope with) I decided to look for knitting tutorials. I came across this ‘simple’ bunny tutorial, made from ‘just’ a square.

It took about four hours and terrible hand cramp to have something vaguely resembling a square (I didn’t have the same amount of stitches as I started with!)

My bunny doesn’t look much like the video (it’s stuffed with cotton wool sheets rather than stuffing, so I couldn’t sew on the arms), but I can see me trying again. I love cuddly toys so I’m more likely to persevere with a toy than a jumper. Besides, then I can use all the funky wool I used in my petite version of Man’s Knitting (hubbie’s looks like this but ten times the size).

I’d like to try crochet, too, but all the loom-banding seems to have given me RSI in my right hand, so I don’t think that’s a good idea. Besides, in a week I’ll need to get back to writing novels so, unless I have a protagonist who likes knitting, my new hobby will have to wait.

 

Art in August #28 – Skull and Cross Bones

Skull and Crossbones

Skull and Crossbones

Quick post this morning as we’re leaving for Warwick Castle in four minutes (ahem, or we’re meant to be. I’ve been making picnic for an hour and I’m still in my PJs eating my breakfast.)

This skull and cross bones is copied from the front cover of Zac and the Dream Pirates by Ross MacKenzie and was drawn using FS Paint. The slight cut off on the left is because I’ve edited out the header bar…

Art in August #27 – Dragon Eyes

Dragon eye

Dragon eye

I found a new free art app for the iPad, called FS Paint, which I had a lot of fun with today. As an app it’s a little rough around the edges, something that’s put me off paying for the full version, but the benefits outweigh the clunky format.

For a start, this one allows colour choice, which is nice after Fingerpaint and KidsDoodle, where colour selection is random. There are a range of brush types, sketch, shading etc. The shading effect is in a criss-cross cross-hatch style which takes a bit of getting used to, but can get some nice results.

Of course my first attempts had to be dragon-themed. I’ve always wanted to draw dragon eyes, but have never managed to capture the life and sparkle. These are not perfect but, for first attempts, I’m pleased. It’s great to build up layer by layer.

This is a subtle drawing app that I feel has more to give with practice. Expect to see more!

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Art in August #26 – Daughter’s YouTube Tutorial Art

Proud of her robot

Proud of her robot

Today’s Art in August is dedicated to my amazing five-year-old daughter who, inspired by Mummy painting Elsa from a YouTube tutorial, has been drawing from tutorials for the last four hours.

I have never seen her concentrate so hard and work for so long at something without input from Mummy and Daddy. Not only has she focussed and chatted along to the videos, she has produced some excellent pictures.

When no one was watching she didn’t get frustrated at mistakes and, on some of the videos, there were even other children doing the drawings too, so she could see others making errors.

My daughter tells people that when she grows up she wants to be an author and an illustrator. In fact, she will tell people she already is both of those things, because she makes books and illustrates them (I believe in visualisation).

Concentrating hard

Concentrating hard

But today is the first time I’ve seen her really work on her drawings, rather than producing endless pictures of (very cute) cats.

YouTube tutorials are amazing. Children take instruction from strangers much better than family members, or mine do anyway.

And after four hours of drawing with a permanent marker, wearing her best party dress, I think she made one small mark on the table and none on herself.

My little girl is growing up and I am so very proud.

Shout out to the following YouTube channels:

  • DoodleDrawArt
  • ArtForKidsHub.com
  • DoodleKat1
  • Artist Rage
  • MNMarcel

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Art in August #25 – Elsa from Frozen

My Elsa Watercolour

My Elsa Watercolour

I think this is probably my favourite Art in August piece so far. I have to say a thousand thank yous to Laptop on the Ironing Board for coming up with the Art in August challenge – it has given me an excuse to indulge in some of my favourite creative pastimes without guilt. It’s for the blog, so it’s working, right?

Drawing animated characters is something I have always enjoyed doing. I find it much easier to copy someone else’s drawing than come up with my own, and cartoons have a simplicity to them that give great results without spending hours on shading and detail.

My first attempts at copying animation, back in my teens, were when I became obsessed with drawing stills from the Watership Down movie. Back then, before the handy invention of the tablet, I had to pause the video and copy from the screen – occasionally tracing off the TV (in the days when they had glass screens and you could touch them) but more often sketching from the image and then redrawing in detail.

Pencil sketch

Pencil sketch

Animation was easier to copy then, as the originals were usually watercolours, in flat colour, rather than the modern CGI three-dimensional almost lifelike characters (well, apart from the scary-huge eyes and tiny chins!) The largest Disney drawings I have done are when I painted a four-foot Ariel and a three-foot flying Dumbo, together with Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, on the wall of a little girl’s bedroom. I always intended to do the same for my children, but our walls of crumbling plaster don’t really lend themselves. Besides, talk about setting a bad precedent!

Today, I was fortunate enough that the children were off trashing the playroom playing for an hour, so I was able to start the picture of Elsa I’ve been wanting to do for weeks.

As time is of a premium now I have children, I decided to use a tutorial by Mark Crilley for my drawing of Elsa. It meant I could follow step by step, focussing on things like the way the eyes tilt up and the sassy slant of the eyebrow.

After first watercolour

After first watercolour

The tutorial was brilliant, although Mark did much of his shading using coloured pencils. I’m not so good with pencils and finding any that weren’t full of broken lead proved challenging, so I used watercolour on pretty much all of it.

I’m a bit frustrated that I started too close to the top of the paper and couldn’t fit all the hair in, and the shading of the dress isn’t great because I couldn’t see it too clearly on the tutorial, but otherwise I am pleased.

I love Elsa, the “conceal, don’t feel” ice queen. They used to call me the ice maiden when I was younger – a combination of white-blonde hair and shyness that came across as arrogance – and I would give anything to have a hundredth of Elsa’s cool sass.

For now the picture will have to do!