Tag Archives: family

The Sky Caught Up With Us

27 Dec



This time of year there are many family traditions being played out across the Christmas holidays and one in my own family is to visit memorials of those we have lost. Every year we go to the crematorium to lay flowers and clean memorial stones. I reflected on the ancient use of stone for graves and memorials which is still part of our culture. It makes sense really, stone lasts for aeons. The sky was strange today, brooding and heavy around the white crematorium chimneys. The sky caught up with us and it snowed heavily a few minutes after I did this very quick sketch. I used white, sanguine and black conté crayon into an A4 brown paper spiral bound sketchbook.

Swedes, Spit And Soft Apples

1 Nov

Swedes, Spit And Soft Apples



So it’s Halloween again and the streets are full of moppets in Gothic whimsy collecting enough sugary snacks to keep them in sugar rushes until the Easter Bunny brings them shed loads of chocolate. It wasn’t like this when I were a lass.

The boy opposite’s Dad carved him a swede (rutabaga) because pumpkins didn’t exist in those days, not in the UK anyway. It was a nice fat, round swede, pumpkin shaped but smaller. I was impressed and wanted one too so I went into Mam’s kitchen and found a small, shrivelled, rather conical swede and demanded that my Dad carved it for me. Dad was just back from the pub and swaying and I don’t know how he carved it without ending up in A&E (ER), but he managed to gouge out a hollow bit in the middle, stab a couple of mismatched holes for eyes and a slash for a grimace and Mam found the stub of a candle (there were no  night lights back then) and I went out with it proudly. The boy opposite snorted with derisive laughter and mocked me. I was bereft. 😦

Mam tried to cheer me up by organising an apple bob. She rounded up a few neighbour’s children (including the boy opposite with the flashy swede) and poured some water into a washing up bowl and threw in a few apples that had been in the fruit bowl awhile getting soft. They had to be soft for bobbing because you couldn’t sink your teeth into hard ones. The boys rushed forward, jostling each other and dived into the water face first, biting at the apples. I hung back and watched the carnage with distaste – the bowl was murky with little-boy spit. Ychafi (an ancient Welsh exclamation of disgust). Ychafi!

“Go on”, Mam said, “you too”. “No thanks”, I said, crestfallen, clutching my shrivelled mutant swede, watching the boys scoffing the soft apples with saliva dripping down their chins. “I’ll leave it”.

Patchwork Blanket

20 Oct


(Not so) Little Nephew is having a sleepover this evening so I scribbled him as he watched Gogglebox, tucked under a crocheted patchwork blanket made my Mam-inLaw. He’s growing so fast, he’s now taller than me by a good few inches. I’ve been drawing him since he was a baby, it’s nice to have that record of him growing up. I used my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet with a free Markers app.

Barbie Poop And Twin Peaks

13 Aug

Unicorn 1


So, my young niece sent me a link to YouTube a few months ago and asked if I could make her a rainbow unicorn cake like the one on YouTube for her 18th birthday. It looked easy enough. So her birthday’s here and I’ve been cooking for a couple of days to get her cake ready and all went well until it came to putting on the icing and making it look like a unicorn. Then it sort of went pear-shaped. The pound and a half of buttercream icing on the outside looked too bland so I threw handfuls of different coloured shimmer sugar crystals at it so the unicorn became a sparkly piebald, which I don’t think unicorns are supposed to be.

Then the icing kit I’d bought to decorate the top of the cake with lovely pink and white stripey rosettes didn’t quite work out for me and it ended up covered with little piles of what looked like Barbie poop. You know, like the ‘poop’ emoji but pink and white instead of brown. poop emoji

So I  smoothed it down with a knife but then I had to find some real flowers to decorate the head around the horn that I’d bought specially. Luckily, a friend had brought me flowers when she visited a couple of days ago and I used a few of those. Finally I had to cut some attractive eyelashes from black paper but mine went all sort of sinister and I ended up with a mutant unicorn cake that Husb reckons looks “like something from Twin Peaks“. I think that’s meant to be a compliment?

Luckily, when it was cut open it looked a lot better and tasted nice too.

Unicorn 2



A lot of my artwork is available on my Artfinder gallery.  If you’d like to have a look, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

Sprawling Teenager

4 Aug


Our great nephew is having a sleepover and is sprawled out in typical teenager style on his own settee with his mobile in his hand. He’s been scribbled.

Husb and I went to see the outdoor 20th anniversary screening of the cult film Twin Town last night. It rained. Today I have a heavy cold and sore throat and can hardly speak. But it was worth it.


5 Jul

I’m going to be running some creative training sessions soon and one of them is going to be about stamping. That’s not moving your feet up and down with force, but the practice of creating new artworks from rubber – or lino or wood – stamps. I’ve been doing some work in this technique, inspired by artists Atif Khan, Ryan McGinnis and Federico Pietrella. Here are some different ways I’ve been using a stamp I had made from a screenprint I did of my hero, German artist Käthe Kollwitz. On the left, a ‘mashup’ with a newspaper fragment; in the middle a 3D construction from Shiohara paper and aluminium armature wire; on the right a stitched piece with chine collé.


Here are some examples of work from other artists using stamps too. From left to right, Federico Pietrella, Ryan McGinnis, Atif Khan.





For a limited period I am putting a new drawing from my recent sketch books on my Artfinder gallery every day.  If you’d like to check them out, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.



Just A Quick One

3 Jul


I didn’t do any art today, bogged down with admin and cooking, so I had a quick scribble when a relative popped round this evening. My friends and family are fair game. If they sit still for a few minutes, it’s inevitable that they’ll end up in my sketchbook. It’s a very small sketchbook with a lovely fabric cover and a red ribbon, very good white paper too.



For a limited period I am putting a new drawing from my recent sketch books on my Artfinder gallery every day. This is a view from Swansea Beach.  If you’d like to check them out, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.



Boop That Little Nose

15 Jul


Our great-nephew is having a sleepover and of course he got scribbled! He was contentedly playing with his iPhone which reflected light back onto his face. He’s at that stage where he’s no longer a little boy but not quite a teenager and his face still has some of the softness of a child, but not for much longer. I still want to boop his little nose though. He hates that 😀

I haven’t done much work in my sketchbooks lately so it’s nice to sit at home and draw family. I drew into my A4 hardbound sketchbook, prepared with ripped brown paper stuck in with Pritt stick, using white conte crayon, a 6B graphite stick and carbon.


I have been travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams, hunting the wild megalith, accompanied by my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials.  Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures. All the work I’m doing will eventually be featured in a solo show in The Worker’s Gallery in the Rhondda Valley in September. If you want to know more, please click here.

If you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

Aunty Nin’s Chair And #3000chairs

11 May
Aunty Nin's Chair

Aunty Nin’s Chair

Back in the 1930’s my beloved Aunty Nin saved hard from her wages at Swansea Market to buy a lovely Art Deco suite from the poshest furniture store in the area for the parlour of her tiny little council house. A generation later, my sister and I used to visit with Mam and Dad and if we were on our very best behaviour, we were allowed to sit in the parlour on the Art Deco suite. Aunty Nin, like many other older relatives, kept her tiny front room immaculately clean and tidy, with glass fronted cabinets filled with tiny ornaments and lacy antimacassars on the backs of the furniture. Meanwhile, they crammed table and chairs, television and even a settee into the kitchen, cooking, washing up, eating, socialising and watching TV all in the same tiny room, while the parlour was kept for best.

Another generation later and my sister’s children were occasionally allowed to sit on the Art Deco suite in the parlour, but had to have their milk and Jammie Dodger biscuits in the kitchen. Eventually Aunty Nin became too old to live alone and I took the Art Deco suite, ripped and tatty with age. I found a wonderful furniture restoration firm and the suite was restored to its former Art Deco glory and now another generation of our family, Aunty Nin’s great, great nieces and nephews, sit on it. I don’t have a parlour and the little ‘uns are allowed to sit where they want, even with a handful of Jammie Dodgers.

I have just submitted this drawing to The Guardian Witness #3000 Chairs. Last week The Guardian newspaper published Nicola Davies’s poem The Day The War Came about the 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian children refused a safe haven by the UK government. Davis called on everyone who felt strongly about this to paint/draw/sketch an empty chair and share it on Twitter with #3000chairs. Images have been pouring in from professionals, amateurs, children. It’s a moving body of work.

Here’s a bit of trivia, Jammie Dodgers are made in Wales and they’re Doctor Who’s favourite biscuit 😀

Rain And Racing In The Rhondda

26 Mar

From the outside looking in through a work in progress from Chris Williams

Husb and I had a day off today, a rare thing when you’re self-employed and we went off to The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir for an afternoon of slot-car (Scalextric) racing with our young nephew. It was pouring down outside but we were warm and having a whale of a time inside, surrounded by gorgeous art.


Artists Gayle Rogers and Chris Williams set up this little jewel of a gallery just over a year ago when the village library was closed by ‘austerity’ cutbacks. It’s a fabulous place to visit and so is the Rhondda Valley, where Ynyshir is situated, with spectacular scenery. Gayle has her studio up at one end and the rest is divided into two gallery spaces, one for a rolling programme of contemporary art shows and the other for a permanent collection of the gallery artists.


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