Monday, 11 May 2015

The story so far...

Hedge planted...
Shed painted...
'Stumpery' filled with hostas and ferns...
New fence built...

Phew, no wonder I'm sleeping well!





Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Packing

I've been packing my life into cardboard boxes ready for the move.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Day Out

I know I said I wouldn't be posting about school visits for a while but I had a day off yesterday at a local school and it was so much fun I wanted to share.
Here's the cake some clever person baked for the grand opening of their library. Isn't it awesome?!
Danes Hill School have a brand new library and they invited me to be artist and writer in residence for a day to celebrate. During the course of that day I met every pupil in years 2 to 6! Hundreds of them! And they were all really impressed with their beautiful new library and super enthusiastic about reading all the book on its shelves. Hurrah!
I had made a mural for the wall leaving space for the children to add their own characters and book designs to it. The younger groups made Pocket Bockett bookmarks which shall no doubt be popping up in books all around the school.
This is a Bockett.
I enjoyed the day so much. It was exhausting but just what I needed.
I set my usual Live Drawing Challenge too. Here are two of the results, a golfing dog with wings and a moustache and a purple punk penguin.
Back to building the studio tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Building my house... 1:25 scale

This morning I had some boring site preparation admin to complete. I really didn't feel in the mood to do it but simply had to. So I decided to reward myself by spending the rest of the day constructing a model of the studio out of foam board.
I LOVE making models. Before I studied fashion I was always going to be a theatre designer. I'd done work experience in a theatre when I was sixteen and got to be a goffer backstage and in the rehearsal studio (later I returned to that theatre as assistant scenic artist). In my first week of work experience I became obsessed with the set designer's office which was full of models from past productions. They were gorgeous! So it was decided. I definitely wanted to be a set designer! Definitely!
The second week I was sent upstairs to the costume department and everything changed. I switched my obsession to clothes that week but I never forgot those models.
I've made models of 'dream houses' before but this is the first time the dream will be realised. Once it's finished I'll be able to look through those 1:25 scale windows and imagine myself in the space. It's so much better than flat drawings or even the 'walk through' video made by my contractor. I hope it will be just like gazing into those gorgeous models in the theatre designers office.
The studio with the office wall missing. I'm just making that...
Right to left. Lobby wall and door to entrance, kitchen with low window, bedroom and through to shower room at the back. That tiny window above will be a sleeping platform for visitors. Any takers?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Day... erm, I'm so tired I've lost track!

I've worked awfully hard since my last post. I turned this...
...into this...
... a shady nook full of ferns and hostas. 
And I've planted a 15m hedge!!
It's a mixed hedge of Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Hornbeam which will look lovely once it's grown a bit. The ground was so hard and compacted and full of stones and roots that I thought I might need to hire a digger but I cleared the whole plot, dug in compost and then holes for 21 plants! Phew!
I am exhausted at the end of every day at the moment, but I have to say it's 'good' exhaustion. I've discovered the perfect antidote to desk bound mental stress is open air physical work. Unfortunately, building a house isn't all physical work. Tomorrow it's back to getting quotes, form filling and talking to utility companies. Boring but must be done. No doubt I shall reward myself later with a few more hours of 'good' exhausting digging.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Day 2 - Weeding & Recycling

I love to recycle so today's clearance session on the plot was more satisfying than expected.
I've been weeding out some of the monster brambles and nettle patches, which seems pointless when we're about to excavate, but my logic is that the spoil is going into raised beds and I don't want brambles and nettles to be my first crop!

Turns out there is a lot more than weeds down there. The bottom of gardens do tend to become dumping grounds, don't they? Especially when the garden is large. Ours is particularly eclectic in the dumped stuff department. So far I've found a pile of pea shingle, two scaffold boards, roof tiles and, most exciting of all, these.
I pulled out two while tackling a long bramble root and was rather pleased. Imagine my delight when I realised there were more and more just below the grass. 18 rope edge tiles!
Not sure about the rest of the haul though.
Suggestions please. I might make the boards into a garden bench but I don't think those tiles are quite good enough for the roof!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Artist Author Illustrator... Self builder!

For the next few months this blog will become something quite different. No more illustrations, school visits or book launches, just my next project, the biggest project I've ever undertaken. Building a house!

2015 will be life changing for me for two reasons. The first being that I'm planning to go back to art college in September to do a part-time MA in Illustration. I'll be more than twice the age of most of my fellow student but the prospect of spending two years studying and experimenting in a community of artists is utterly thrilling.

The second life changing event is the Black Barn Studio.


Many of us dream of building a home but few of us will have the opportunity. I have bought the mags and watched the TV shows and suffered the crippling jealousy of wondering what it would be like to be one of those lucky self builders. I was resigned to the fact that as a freelance author and illustrator I'd never have the dosh to be one of them.
But all that changed last year when my parents offered the bottom of their garden as a building plot and I began to look at the feasibility of actually owning that dream studio.

It's taken a while to get the project off the ground - finding a builder, designing for the plot, getting planning permission - but now my cottage is sold (nearly) to raise the finance and the final engineering drawings are being prepared - so I'm allowing myself to get excited about really really being one of those lucky self builders!

Over the next few months I will document every stage of the build from groundwork to studio-warming party and today I'm clearing the plot and planting a hedge. Not glamorous, I know, but it's the very first real job I've done on site. I also spoke to my solicitor today and it looks like I might complete the sale of my cottage by the end of May (that's the plan) so we could be breaking ground at the beginning of June! Hurrah!
I shall keep you posted.