Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Porto, Portugal.

So, you tip out of your beautiful tile covered hotel up the hill in Porto,

Admiring the garden as you go

Popping into the hotel grotto to admire the statues

and after you have had breakfast in the very Victorian dining room 

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complete with this fabulous statement clock.

Oh, I forgot to mention the bathroom! You have carried out your ablutions in the bathroom furnished with these fabulous tiles. 

Anyway, as I say, you tip out of the hotel and head down the hill towards the quayside past fabulous tiled buildings (some have seen better days it must be said!)

And stopping for refreshments in The Majestic - the art deco cafe where you are served tea by white aproned waiters.

All this deco could confuse - you would be forgiven for thinking that you were in Paris. 

And then you could be tempted by the antique trams.

Past more tiles - this time on the outside of a church.

And quaint old buildings.

Until you get to the funicular railway which then affords this fabulous view of the River Douro as you tip down a vertiginous slope towards the base of the bride and the quayside. 

Crossing the bridge you can watch the kids playing in the water at high tide (at other times the water flows too fast).

And you can take a trip on the cable car.

And take a bus around the old town of Gaia to look back over the roofs of the Port warehouses to Porto.

Then there is time for more wandering and exploring through steep lanes

Before you end up at the quayside, teeming with restaurants and bars and just in time for a refreshing drink and perhaps a little snack to fuel you before you had back up the hill. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Porto - a love affair with Blue Tiles

For many people Porto, Portugal's second largest city which tips down to the banks of the river Douro, is all about bridges. 

This one in particular.

But if blue and white tiles are your thing, then I cannot recommend it enough.

On the outside of church's, 

In the railway station,

On the outside of our hotel 

And in the bathroom - it was a slightly eccentric hotel. 

We stayed for 3 nights at this hotel, Castelo Santa Catarina

Which also had a grotto in the garden!

It's a central hotel - not right on top of the main sights but a stroll down the hill (and a taxi ride back up) and you are in the thick of it. 

Porto is a great place for just chilling in a big city. The old town, and the old town of Gaia on the opposite banks of the Douro, are compact and though thronging with visitors ( Portuguese as well as tourists) somehow don't feel overcrowded. 

Perhaps it's the water - the river Douro meets the Atlantic at Porto - and the Port wine that give the place such a chilled atmosphere. 

I highly recommend it! 

Monday, 29 August 2016

All about blogging

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Gosh, dear reader.

The start of a new week and it's a rhetorical question rather than a fluffy 'here is what I've been working on'.

And I have asked it before, but i think it's a question worth asking again. Why spend time,  in my case usually early in the morning over that first cup of coffee before the dogs are awake, composing a blog post for you to (hopefully) read and enjoy?

So why do I do it?

To keep me working - without a doubt my blog has spurred me on to keep making art. In the early days in particular, when I had not started showing any work and with a fairly full on day job, without you, dear reader, the art would have ground to a halt. I used to feel a pang of guilt ( bonkers I know) if I did not have something to share.

To learn new techniques - linked to the above really. "I need to write about something new. I can try this and share the outcome on my blog". Some of the techniques have not made it much past the blog post. Others I have incorporated into my work more frequently. Now, I guess, it's not so much about new techniques as new materials and new work I produce and of course all those inspirational days out in between. But there are also all those other techniques that you have to learn when posting a blog - writing, taking half way decent photographs (still got some way to go on this) working out how to make a nice looking blog etc. I hope I have improved with all of these over time. 

To get feedback - fiddle faddling about on my own in my own little studio, sometimes it's good to get feedback from fellow artists. I do love it when you leave me a comment, dear reader. "Yes, I like that!" - Spurs you on when it would be so easy to slump in front of the television instead.

To satisfy my ego - ok, let's cut to the chase here! Confession time. I get a real buzz when I look at my stats and see how many page hits I have had. Recently, I had some amazing spikes in readership. Ok, let's be honest, they did not last but I have to say that knowing that people in other countries stop by and have a little gander at my words of wisdom ( ahem) does feel rather good! Is that bad of me?

To make friends - Kim, Sheila, Chris, Alison, Mrs Bertimus, you are all people I know I could stop and chat with over a coffee and a custard cream. If it had not been for this lovely wonderful thing called The Internet and the opportunity to self publish all these little fripperies would we have met? I somehow doubt it.

To build my name now I'm an emerging artist - ok, another 'let's cut to the chase' moment. Recently, I was picked up by a small gallery and have had some success selling my work there. And they described me on their blurb as an emerging artist. And I do now sell work. Who would have thought it? But people like what I do, are prepared to part with hard earned pennies and put my work in their homes. Heart skips a little beat. So, if I am to keep that momentum going I need to create a bit of a noise. Though of course here, I still hide behind a slightly anonymous blog title. Whoops!

Because I enjoy it - I really do. It's not a chore. I really enjoy tippity tapping away on my laptop or silently on my iPad. It must be a bit like the pleasure of keeping a diary, which I never have, to be able to look back at what I have written in the past - "Gosh, was it really three years since I did that?" - some posts I remember so clearly. Others I have completely forgotten about.

So- there we have it. A little bit of self analysis. 

Normal service will be resumed! 

Monday, 22 August 2016

j u n k a h o l i q u e: vintage caravan renovation project

I just had to share this with you.

This lady, Artemis Russell, is a lesson in how to produce a successful blog.

She lives on the Isle of Wight with her little family and runs a jewellery business with her hubby.

The jewellery is traditional - exquisite and very english.

And she blogs about life and vintage and collecting and the seasons and her camper van etc. They have lovely little mini breaks. They never travel far - well if you live on the isle of Wight you don't really have to.

And recently they invested in a Vintage Caravan. And, well, I am so tempted! But in all honesty when would I have time to use it and when would I have time to renovate it!

In the meantime, pop over to her blog here to read all about the caravan project.

j u n k a h o l i q u e: vintage caravan renovation project (part 2) completion!

And have a little peruse around their shop while you are at it too.

Oh, and she is an avid Instagramer if you want a bit of eye candy.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Inky powders

I love Brusho powders.

I love the way that they can be turned into ink, can colour other media but best of all the way that they can be used dry and then spritzed with water.

I am using them just now in the Transfusions project I am working on.

But you may also know that I love Paper Artsy paints.

And now, just to tempt me, Paper Artsy have introduced an Ink Powder range - Infusions.

Oh - the temptation!

And I have not yet succumbed (how strong willed is that?) but I did find this little video which I thought to share with you. Some really useful stuff here on how to use these powders.

I the video link does not work from this post you can pop over to Youtube and find it here. The Blogger is Scrapcosy - I don't know anything about her. Sorry. 

But let me know if you use these powders and how.

Meanwhile, I am wrestling with how to fix Brusho. I don't want to paint on a fixative - that will loose the random effect I get from using a spritz of water. I think I will have to find a fixative spray. Again, if anyone has any tips do leave me a comment. 

Thanks, and hope you enjoy the video. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Dog sitting distractions

Dear reader you will know that my blog posts sometimes get photo bombed by my four legged friends. 

These last few weeks have been a particular distraction. 

Let me introduce Brandy - on the right in this photo sharing a post walk moment with my elderly gentleman Gazza. 

Brandy has come to stay, and we are all hoping the arrangement will be permanent. 

We've been settling down and getting to know each other. So far it has been going well and even grumpy Gazza has taken to her in his own way.  And you can see from the photo above that she loves a good art book! 

And then Pigeon the Whippet came to stay. 

And there was doggy wrestling on the bed! Of course I don't approve!! 

And practising our social skills (sharing a moment here at Rob and Andy's Barbecue with the lovely Sandi) 

And we have been going to doggy school. 

And if you follow me on Instagram then you will know that we have been having a few adventures.

So that explains why things have been a bit erratic both in the studio and here on the blog. 


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Summer barbecue

Because we all need a break from the studio ( and indeed the office and the day job!) 

And it's a fab way to relax with friends. 

I had a call from my darling boys. Hills, they said, get yourself down here for the weekend because we are firing up the barbecue. 

And if course, being Rob and Andy, the salads were a work of art in them selves. 

Those are home grown beetroot. Not the vivid red variety but a subtler pink version and sweet, sweet, sweet. And the salad was sliced oranges, sliced beetroot and walnuts glazes with honey. 

Oh my days!!! 

And the garden looked magnificent. 

The geranium above I think came from a cutting but is now a huge beast and fills a large pot. Rob has a green house and has more success at overwintering these things than I do. I lost all of mine last winter - poor plant husbandry! 

And the borders are choc with flowers from seed that came from a collection called the Venetian Collection. This photo does not do them justice! And I was too busy eating to take many photos. 

And this beast was dominating the patio.

Meanwhile, back in the studio and just to prove some creative stuff is going on, a new set of handmade stamp blocks for a new project, "Transformation".