Summer sketching

Over the summer I organised a sketching club for my local art group. It was very much easy come, easy go, with no commitment required and I think that it worked out very well.

Week 1 was at our local woodland, Ruff Woods near Edge Hill University in Ormskirk. It turned out that I was billy-no-mates for this one - it was cold, the venue didn't have toilets (which ruled out all of the older ladies) and not even the elusive red squirrels put in an appearance. Speaking of toilets, ahem, I'm not sure what's going on at the end of the path...

Week 2 was at one of the club members houses and I'm ashamed to say that none of us sketched a single thing despite it being a gorgeous morning - we spent all our time drinking tea, eating toasted teacakes and chatting!

Week 3 was a miserable day and it was quite amazing that 4 of us turned out at The Hayloft, which is a farm shop and tearoom in Lydiate. We took shelter in the barn with the peacocks and peahens, but barely made it to an hour before we retreated into the tea room for brunch. This sketch is no-where near finished, I need to go back on a sunny day. Unlike the others, which are all sharpie, watercolour and oil pastel, this one is in watersoluble wax.

Week 4 was at another club member's house. Again the weather was appalling so we sat in the conservatory. A little sketching and a lot of chatting and delicious biscuits washed down with gallons of tea.

Week 5 was at the local allotments right by the church where we meet. Again I was on my own, probably because the church hall was not open and there was no toilet access. I found myself attracted to this wheelbarrow housed in a makeshift shed.

I missed week 6 as  I was away in Bakewell so I sketched the local fish and ducks, viewed from above at the bridge by the car park..

I'd enjoyed the whole sketching thing so much that I decided to take a still life along to our regular art club meeting. I asked my facebook followers what I should take along - the only stipulation was that it must be small enough to carry in my bike basket - and this was what I came up with.

I'm very pleased with how the sketching club progressed, and how my own sketching style has developed. For all of these sketches (except the peahen) I used watercolours, iridescent oil pastels and coloured sharpies. I really like the loose expressiveness of this style and will be interested to see how it develops as I do more.

I'll definitely organise something similar for next year, choose venues that all have toilets so that everyone can come along and join in the fun.

Sketch Diary July 2015

July was a super fun month; wedding dress shopping with my niece (carefully leaving the actual dress chosen out of the sketch or life would have been not worth living), my daughter passed her driving test and we had a lovely fortnight in Cornwall followed by a few days in the Peak District. A thoroughly spoilt time!

week 27

week 28

week 29

week 30

week 31

You can catch up on previous entries here:

Sketch diary June 2015

Here are my sketch diary entries for June 2015 and I'm half way through the year already!

week 23

week 24

week 25

week 26

You can catch up on previous entries here:
I do hope you're enjoying your peek into my world.

Sketch Diary May 2015

Uh oh, it's nearly the end of July and I haven't done a sketch diary post for a while. Oops - I hope you don't mind a sudden barrage of posts until I've caught up!

Here are my entries for May 2015

week 19

week 20
there's a space on Sunday for me to sketch the sewing machine that I inherited (it's currently in for repair)

week 21

week 22

You can catch up on previous entries here:

Around the World Blog Hop

Has anyone got a tuit? I need a good supply of round ones....towards the back end of last year I was invited to take part in an around world blog hop and to my absolute shame it has taken me over six months to get around to it. Get it? A round tuit? No? Hey ho I won't give up the day job just yet.

Back to the blog hop. I was invited by fellow artist Tessa Spanton who runs an interesting art blog full of hints and tips and plenty of inspiration. Tessa and I first met a couple of years ago on the folksy forums where we still meet up for a chat and where we both have shops Tessa's Colours and Textures and my own Stephanie Guy Fine Art. Tessa's silk paintings are particularly inspiring - it was after seeing some of her works that I decided to take a one day workshop. I now have all the gear, just need the time to experiment!

Continuing the blog hop, I'd like to introduce you to two of my arty-farty friends. Well, three friends and an aquaintance, but three of them share a blog.

Firstly, Maxine Veronica is the owner of the wonderful folksy shop Paper Chains and Beads. Max describes herself as a Crafty Welsh Mam, and creates a huge range of items. I'm very fond of her ink art and regularly use and admire a set of her coasters that I bought. She also creates the most wonderful shopping lists with matching pens - I have commissioned her to make over 15 of these with a Liverpool basis so far, they make superb gifts for our many foreign visitors. My favourite part of Max's blog is her art journal - she has an envious ability to assemble random items on a page and make them look like they belong together.

And now for one of my very favourite blogs. Watercolours by Polly Birchall is where Polly and her friends and creations Annie Arkwright and Kenny Eckerslyke document their trials and tribulations. A hop over to this blog will be so rewarding. Polly shares the ups (lots of these) and downs (I have to say I don't think they are downs at all) of her watercolour journey creating the most beautiful paintings and sketches. She also shares the absolute joy of Annie's life...I can't wait to see how Annie and Kenny do at this year's Wimbledon tennis tournament.

I'm really looking forward to seeing who Polly and Max introduce in their blog hop posts, I'm sure their introductions will be equally worthy of a follow.

Pet Portraits in aid of the Cinnamon Trust

A few weeks ago I was introduced to the wonderful work of The Cinnamon Trust- the only specialist national charity for people in their last years and their much loved, much needed companion animals.

Volunteers undertake a multitude of pet related tasks; exercising, bathing, cleaning out cages, taking the pet to the vet, fostering while the owner is in hospital or care - basically anything that will keep the pet and owner together for longer, thus extending the lives, happiness and well-being of both owners and pets.

On the sad occasion that an owner dies, the Cinnamon trust will then rehome the pet, where possible matching up with a new owner who's companion pet has died - allowing an animal loving person who is approaching the end of their life (and therefore cannot commit to a new pet) to still have an animal companion to ease their days. They also have a centre where some pets can go to live out the rest of their lives in peace and comfort.

Isn't that a fabulous cause? I was so blown away by this charity that I immediately decided to donate 20% of the list price of all future pet portraits to The Cinnamon trust. And in the Autumn I intend to donate my time too.

The Cinnamon Trust

A sample of my most popular miniature pet portraits

A recent colour portrait 2.5 x 3.5 inches

Pets come in all shapes and sizes!

How I package my small paintings

I'm frequently asked how I package my mini paintings, and am just as frequently complimented on how well packaged my art is. Here's how I do it...

The first layer of protection for my mini paintings is a clear cellophane collectors sleeve. I haven't shown the sleeve in the photo as the reflections play havoc with my camera settings.

Every miniature painting is presented with a Certificate of Authenticity. The certificate is made from card and acts as the second layer of protection.

The third level of protection is a super cute hand-made envelope, made from recycled materials. I use any good quality paper - magazine covers, top quality catalogues (the M&S food catalogue is a good one although it can make one feel a little peckish).

The fourth layer of protection is tissue paper. It only has to cover one side of the envelope with a little to wrap around the edges.

The fifth layer of protection is a piece of card. Shoe box card is the perfect thickness as this keeps the whole depth of the final package under 5mm, the size of an ordinary first class envelope, whilst being tough enough to offer a good level of protection. I always use a guillotine to cut my card - just because it is recycled doesn't mean that it can't look professional. The card needs to be just a little bigger than the tissue wrapped envelope so that the corners will be well protected. I tape the package to the middle of the card.

If I'm sending a few mini paintings in the one package I cut a larger piece of card and tape them so that they do not overlap, keeping the package within the standard first class envelope size.

As a courtesy to my customers I always include a hand written thank you note with the essential care instructions and a little snippet about the piece. Full care instructions are detailed within the Certificate of Authenticity.

The sixth layer of protection is the envelope itself. 

We were due some seriously wet weather when I posted this next one so I put it in a waterproof envelope. Sadly when I got to the post office the excess plastic that I had wrapped double around the package took it over the 5mm and I had to pay extra postage for a few more stamps. I'm glad I found that out before it went into the postal system - my policy of always getting my packages checked at the post office counter paid off this time. No prizes for spotting that I have manipulated the addresses in photoshop!

And that's it! Efficient, mostly recycled and most importantly, safe packaging for my mini artwork.

Larger pieces are packaged in lots of thick card...but that's a post for another day.