April 24, 2013


We spent most of our weekend playing outside, enjoying the sun and warm-ish weather as much as we could. And that means I am late with this week post again!
Wearing papa's woolly hat

This week you:

Had your first proper fall(s) with some minor bleeding. You fell against the tyre of your pram while running in M&S and cut your bottom lip. You fell in the garden on the gravel and bruised your left cheeck. You slipped on your mat and bumped your right cheek against the coffee table. All of this happened within two days...I think we are done for this year!

Had your first proper children menu @ Nandos: veggie strips, luso beans, chips and chocolate frozen yogurt.   Of course you didn't eat it all (except for chips) and kept asking for mama's sweetcorns.

Enjoyed playing in our friends' garden on saturday afternoon. You had so much fun playing with the ball and riding the slide and making everyone laugh.

My favourite from last week are this close up portrait of Lily's blue eyes, pure magic, and Bo's oh so cute pigtails (I'm still waiting for my little Miss hair to grow a little more so I can make these).

If you are curious about this project and want to know more, you can check Jody's blog @ Che and Fidel.

All my previous posts can be found here.

April 22, 2013

Cathy Johnson’s Mini-class // Quick Sketching 1 - Lesson 2

Can't really see much here!

Lesson 2 has been all about sketching a moving object and capturing the essence of it (it’s called gesture sketching, something I didn’t know). I was a bit afraid to start with the exercises. People and animals are not really my favourite subjects, let alone if they are moving. But after watching some of the demo videos included in the class, I geared myself up to the challenge and with some courage I gave it a go.

Drawing using a kitchen timer was one of the many tips given in the lesson. I have done this type of exercise before, but I had forgotten how useful it is to know how much time you have before you start drawing. It helps to decide if focusing on the big picture or looking at details. And this is a problem I always have. I tend to focus on the details when I sketch, and that sometimes overwhelms me, especially when I suddenly realise that I don’t have enough time to draw everything (which happens very often if you try to sketch when out and about with a 16 month old!).

Seeing an object as a number of basic shapes (circles, triangles, etc.) also helped quite a lot, especially when drawing animals. I had learned this technique at one of my botanical art classes, but never really put it into use.    
The results are far from great, but I’m hoping that with practice, and a lot of it, my drawing skills will improve.

My sketches from Lesson 1 can be found here.
More info about Cathy Johnson’s online classes can be found here.

April 17, 2013

Pick of the month: April / Shopping spree

1. Cable knit boatneck sweater from Gap / 2. Picot trim puff-sleeve T from Gap / 3. Striped dot skirt from Gap / 4. Lego Multi Coloured Cotton Dress from TKMAXX / 5. Converse All Star Hi Canvas from Office / 6. Lego Checked Dress from TKMAXX / 7. Brad top by Billabong from Two Seasons / 8. Edita vest by Element from Two Seasons / 9Amed dress by Billabong from Two Seasons.

Olivia and I had our first girls day out a few Saturdays ago. We went shopping, had some lunch, she had a nap and I did more shopping, we had some fun at the soft play café.  She probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I did, but I’m hoping it will become a regular thing for us and that eventually she will start loving it too. The mid-season sales were on and in the craving for colours and light fabrics, I bought some spring/summer clothes for my little miss in the hope that the warm weather will make its appearance very soon.  And looking forward to our end of the month trip to southern Italy (and my birthday!), I also gifted myself with some spring/summer essentials.

April 15, 2013


It's week 15 and this post is going live on Monday, 'cause we ran out of coffee over the weekend and I was too tired to publish it last night.

This week you:
  • Had fun using papa's headphones to listen to music. You were so cute!
  • Laughed at yourself making faces in front of the mirror. You are becoming more funny everyday, and you know it...that's what makes it even better.
  • Didn't cry when I dropped you off at nursery on Friday (yeah!). Truth is, you got distracted by all the other kids crying, but that's ok too.
  • Made us realise once more that you are a wonderful kid, and we feel very lucky to have you.

My favourite portrait from last week is little Audrey walking alongside her dad, so sweet. 

If you are curious about this project and want to know more, you can check Jody's blog @ Che and Fidel.

All my previous posts can be found here.

April 12, 2013

Unfinished sketches

My desk @ work

 Kingston library - detail

 A3 to Woking

I have been trying to sketch whenever possible lately, but that means that I don't always have enough time to finish what I started. But that's ok; a little, unfinished drawing is better than no drawing at all in my opinion.

April 10, 2013

My current notebooks

What I've been carrying around lately

Every year, around December time, I start planning the essential kit for taking notes, writing down appointments, sketching, etc that I will be carrying around the following year. It's a process that I've been doing for years and that I still enjoy very much. What I normally do, is going through my diaries/notebooks/paper pads that I've used during the year and make a decision on what has been essential or superfluous, what has been useful and what hasn't. Over the years I have found some combinations of diary/sketchbooks that have worked very well for me; my very minimal kit consists of a pocket size weekly diary and a small sketchbook, with some variations.
My favourite diary is a black soft cover pocket size Moleskine weekly notebook. I love it, because it has the weekly calendar on one side and a blank lined page on the other, which is great for taking notes, making lists, write down thoughts, etc.
But I like to make some changes once in a while, so this year I decided to use one of those complimentary diaries that my auntie receives every year from pharmaceutical companies (she's a nurse). The size is the same as the Moleskine, although inside is slightly different as the weekly calendar is spread on two pages.
Inside I've added a pink Bobino slim pen, which is great. I got it as a Christmas present from my cousin this year, and I absolutely love it! It doesn't get lost in my bag and it's so slim, you can hardly notice it's inside the diary.
The diary is just a diary; I use it to record my daily appointments, birthdays, holidays, grocery lists. I could easily replace it with an online calendar, but let’s face it; I just need another excuse to use a pen and some paper!
I always carry around a sketchbook with me. I hold an extensive collection of sketchpads which I have going at the same time, but tend to use in different occasions.
They have been around for quite some time now, and one of my last year goals was to complete all of them, one by one. This is still an ongoing project, and it is proving a slow process, but the biggest motivation for me to complete it, is that I'm not going to buy any new sketchbook until I'm done with the old ones. And believe me, I already have a long list of new paper pads I'm dying to get my hands on.
The sketchbook that I'm currently using is a Moleskine watercolour notebook (13x21 cm, 200gr cold-pressed paper). It has a hard cover which is prefect for sketching on-the-go and has a useful inside pocket at the back, which I use to store some extra paper and a sheet of paper with swatches of watercolour pencils.
(Those little fingers on the left side had some fun using the above colour palette) 

Along with the sketchbook, I carry, as a minimum, a pocket size Windsor & Newton lightweight half pan box containing 12 Artists' Water Colours, a medium size Pentel waterbrush and an HB mechanical pencil.
This kit, although minimal, is not as light and small as I’d like, but is utterly necessary, so I can’t really complain. It’s always in my bag, I take it with me every day; you never know when you may get some spare time to draw, better be prepared!
To make things less easy this year I have added a new notebook to my carry-around essential kit.
It's a lined B5 notebook I bought about 3 years ago from Muji (similar to this one) and never found the right use for it. It has about 30 pages and it's very very light. I've combined it with a turquoise Bobino slim pen and I use it to take personal notes, jot down ideas, make plans, write down to-do lists. It also goes along very well with my small post-it notes, which somehow I tend to use very often and that get stuck around all over the place; now they have a special place to go to.
 We are almost at the end of February now, and so far my 2013 carry-around set has been working perfectly. It does the job, it gives me the chance to make a physical record of my day, my ideas, my emotions. All three notebooks are very personal to me, and apart from the sketchbook, which I share on this blog and Flickr from time to time, the rest mainly remains private:  they don’t need to look pretty and this gives me the freedom to do with them whatever I feel like, they represent the true me, without any artefact.

April 09, 2013

Cathy Johnson’s Mini-class // Quick Sketching 1 - Lesson 1

I have been meaning to try out one of Cathy Johnson’s art workshops since I discovered her work a few years ago, but never really found the right time for it. Then a few months back I found myself going through her online art classes and getting more and more excited at the thought of signing up for one. I talked about it for a good couple of months and finally on March 31stI signed up.
The format of these mini-classes is quite simple. Each class costs $30 (which is less than £20) and consists of 4 weekly lessons. Once you’ve signed up, an email containing a link to the lesson (in pdf format) is sent to your address every 7 days. It is up to you to do the rest; the reading, the exercises, the more practicing.
I have been a bit geeky about this mini course and, although I have been sketching for years now, I decided to sign up for the first of the online mini-classes: Quick Sketching 1.
The first lesson included some very basic info and tips, and my first thought was that maybe I should have enrolled for a more advanced class. Much to my surprise I found the lesson very useful to help me get into the idea of what really a quick sketch should be about and also to re-discover some of my old tools.
Here is my sketchbook after week one.

More info about Cathy Johnson’s online classes can be found here.

April 07, 2013


It's week 14 and I'm still enjoying with this weekly project. This week has been one of those rare weeks that seems to be lasting forever. I did spend more time with my Little Miss O, as I only worked 4 days and my mister was busy with some work; and this may be the reason for this. We did lots of things together, play dates, shopping, long breakfasts and a lot of playing. And it was fun and tiring, but I liked it.
This is you making fun of yourself in the mirror

This week you:

  • Turned 16 months. Wow, it feels yeaterday I was writing down a similar sentence!
  • Had a playdate with your friends on Monday and had lots of fun riding the slides, playing with the mirrors and climbing the soft ladder. 
  • Loved giving eskimo kisses, especially to your dad.
  • Laughed a lot.
  • Learned to do the pig noise... sort of. You can now imitate the sound of 5 animals, the chicken, the monkey, the fish, the lion, and now the pig!
  • Ate an entire mini pot of Philadelphia with your fingers. I guess using the breadsticks that come with it was not as fun!
  • Cried when I dropped you off at nursery, but by Friday you cried a little less and played a little more.
  • Woke up at 6am on Saturday, and didn't want go back to sleep. Let's not make it a habit, please?

My favourite picture from last week's portraits has to be the portrait of Sunny, from Sunny & Scout, hugging her mama's pregnant belly; it just had my heart melt.

If you are curious about this project and want to know more, you can check Jody's blog @ Che and Fidel.

My posts for the previous weeks can be found here.

April 04, 2013

Trying something new

I had the chance to come across some new materials I haven’t used before. To be honest, I’m not the type of person that likes to experiment with either materials or techniques. I know it sounds really bad, but not having much time to draw and paint I prefer stick to what I know it gives me some kind of comfort. However, once in a while, I get some free samples of some new products; this is when I don’t really have an excuse for not to trying them out.
A while back, Cass Art opened a new branch in Kingston upon Thames and to celebrate its launch they gave away a very generous goody bag with all sorts of materials.
Amongst some more familiar stuff, like paints and pencils, there were some sketching crayons (Conté Carrés Esquisse) and some watersoluble wax bars (Derwent Artbars), which caught my attention.
I decided to give them a try and these are the results.
I also received a sample of the Derwent XL graphite blockand the Derwent XL charcoal block this week. Finding myself in this experimenting mood, I thought I should try these as well. I did not realise at first that one block was graphite and the other one was charcoal so I used them in the same way, in the same drawing…the graphite block did feel harder and less messy than the charcoal one, but not being very familiar with any of the two, I thought it was normal!
I’m no expert in using these media, so I can’t really give a proper review as I’ve got nothing to compare them against. However, I did enjoy trying them out and if I have to pick a favourite that would be the sketching crayons from Conté. They were relatively easy to use, messy, but not too much. I could get some pretty sharp lines and, at the same time, fill in a big area quite quickly. Also, I love sanguine colours!
Second favourite were the Derwent artbars. I loved their smooth lines, the results of overlapping colours and the fact that they are watersoluble. Bit of advice, as they are wax bars, they tend to actually melt in your hands while holding them; the solution is to be quick and make a lot of breaks to avoid heating them too much.
Least favourites are the blocks. The ones I used were samples, so not the actual size and a bit difficult to hold. They were very messy, and not really appropriate for small size drawings, as the XL in the name suggests! Very good for filling in big areas and do some bold and quick sketches, probably excellent for doing some big scale live drawings.

April 03, 2013

#30lists // wrap up


So this is it! This project seemed a bit daunting at first, and instead it went by very quickly. I found out about “30 days of lists” via Twitter, one week before the start date. I wasn’t really sure what this project was about, or what to expect from it, or if I was getting myself into something difficult to keep up with. But I was very much intrigued. I remember reading somewhere that some people were doing this challenge but at their own pace, so I thought worst case scenario, I will complete it whenever I can. Still wasn’t 100% convinced. Then I did pay a visit to my local art store that afternoon and while browsing around I found a simple A6 notebook…perfect size, perfect number of pages, perfect price (95p+20%off!), not too intimidating to be filled in with 30 lists. And so I was sold. I signed up for “30 days of lists” that very evening and got access to the private blog. In there I found lots of tips on how to make these lists, some printables, a forum, and all the basic info about this project; and most of all, the list of the 30 prompts was ready to be downloaded in advance! I must admit, the thought of working on a daily prompt was making me a bit nervous, mostly because I wasn’t sure how much time was required to do each list. Having the list of the lists in advance was somehow reassuring. I spent the week before the start date to get the notebook ready. I did a bit of planning on how the notebook should look like, then printed out the daily prompts, prepared the numbers, stuck some washi tape, tried to letterpress the front cover. Now I was ready to go; one list a day for 30 days! Some of the lists were easy to write, some others required more thoughts and inspiration from other fellow listers, but it was such fun. Sharing my lists on the blog, instagram and flickr was fun too, but more time consuming than anticipated. I did try to do it once every day as soon as the list was ready, but had to play catch up a few times!
To be honest, having the notebook all set up was the key to easily keep up with this project and to enjoy it. It did feel a bit like cheating, but I couldn’t have done it otherwise. So very glad I joined in, and will look forward to next one.

If you are curious about this challenge and want to know more, check the 30 days of lists website.
Each of my 30 lists can be found here.
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