Monday, 1 February 2021

New Postcard Range

 Introducing my all-new fine art postcard range. There is a lot to choose from, and new items will be added regularly. These postcards are an economical way for people to collect my images of my paintings, which have been used to create this new range of merchandise.

Click HERE to browse the postcards.

Sun and Moon; watercolour by Adele Cosgrove-Bray.

Now available as a postcard.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

The 'On' Switch and Other Mysteries.

Here's my most recent art video, which shows how I created a watercolour and gouache portrait of Freddie Higson, a lovely lady who I've had the pleasure of knowing since our high school days. I hope you enjoy watching it.

I've been offline for nearly two months. My computer suddenly died. It was six years old and had already been fixed a couple of times, and had always been okay rather than great. So I decided to pension it off and buy a better one. This in itself caused minor confusion, as when I unpacked it there was no tower. Had it been left in the shop? So off I went, back to said shop whose staff then hunted for the missing tower. It stayed missing. So they contacted their company's computer whiz kid, who gently explained that this computer doesn't have a tower - it's all built in behind the monitor. Oh. Mystery solved.

So I began the process of setting up my new computer, which seemed simple. The various bits were plugged into the correct places, but could I find the 'On' switch? No. The instruction booklet used only illustrations without any explanatory text, which is fine if you know in advance which bit of the computer you're supposed to be looking at. The 'On' button image showed only a line with a 90degree bend in it, obviously indicating a corner. But which corner? There was absolutely nothing on the monitor which said 'On'. Nearly an hour later - I kid you not - out of curiosity I poked an insignificant-looking pattern on the back of the monitor, which was exactly the same colour as the rest of the machine's back and just looked like some sort of manufacturers' logo. Yup, that's the 'On' switch. Another mystery solved.

The next obviously job was to set up my internet connection. Simple, isn't it. Ah, but while I quickly linked the computer to the modem/router, (call it what you will), there was hardly any response from the computer. Odd. Usually new computer runs towards the internet like a hound sprinting after a squirrel. Not my computer, oh no; mine didn't budge. Diagnostics insisted nothing was wrong with the computer.

I called out an expert, who scratched his head then linked the computer to the internet by hotwiring it via his mobile phone. The computer was fine, he said, but my broadband speed was awful, so awful that the computer couldn't function. Go see your broadband supplier, he said.

So I did, and the assistant looked at my account and told me that my contract was out of date and so they'd dialled down my speed. A new contract was agreed upon, which is exactly the same as the old one except that I needed a new router. I was assured this would arrive in seven days. Wrong! When I went back to query its whereabouts, I was told the router wasn't scheduled to go live until nearly three weeks later, and it would arrive in the mail five days before that. A quick calculation followed. So my new router would arrive on Xmas day? "Er, erm, well, no, but close to that". Okaaaay, (like I had much choice!)

Anyway, here we are, back online all solved. 

Well, mostly. Now I have to figure out how to make video slideshows of stuff in Windows 10, as Movie Maker seems conspicuous by its absence.

Happy New Year to you all, by the way!

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Painting Boats and COVID 19


Here's my latest watercolour painting, which I've called Messing About on the River. Okay, it's a canal rather than an actual river, but narrowboats can go on rivers if they're careful and the water's not too choppy. Choppy water risks tipping them over due to having a flat hull - or so I'm told. What do I know about it, really? I've been on a grand total of two lovely narrowboat cruises and read a bit and watched too many YouTube videos made by people who live on narrowboats, but my direct experience of them is minimal.

I quite fancy the idea of living on a narrowboat. The ability to travel around appeals. The lack of space to paint in, and my total lack of any relevant mechanical, electrical or navigational skills would be major obstacles, as could my dodgy knee when climbing lock ladders or, indeed, actually opening or closing any canal locks. Richard would need a second narrowboat just to store his beloved Dr Who collection as there's no way he'd part with that. Also, we couldn't travel far as we'd have to keep coming back again in order to go to our jobs, and as we're not off on the same days either...  A pipe dream, clearly.

This painting comes from photos taken by me last year while cruising down the Shropshire Union Canal. The video is low-tech, being a slideshow of still photos rather than an actual running film. My little obsolete-even-before-Kodak-went-bust Kodak camera will film only if you keep your finger on the "film" button, which is a bit tricky for most practical purposes as the button is TINY and slowly sinks into the pad of the finger holding it down, causing filming to stop.

Other news...  On Monday 26th October I had a routine weekly COVID 19 test and on the following Friday the Test & Trace people contacted me, just as I was getting ready to go to work, to tell me that my test results were positive. So now my husband and I have to self-isolate. Neither of us are ill in any way, I'm happy to report. We will come out of isolation on Thursday 5th, when I should be able to return to work as normal. Richard can't, as the restaurant where he works will have gone into lockdown by then so he'll be furloughed a second time.

So while I've been at home, I've been painting a narrowboat...! I'm not sure about this painting, but then I always find fault with everything I paint. I invite you all to share your views, anyway.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Make Do and Mend (Audio)

 About a year ago, I was approached by musician Michael Pillitiere, who asked if he could use one of my short horror stories as a basis for one of his compositions. The story, called Make Do and Mend, had been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, which is where Michael had come across it. 

He also planned to create an animated film to complete his project, though that idea seems to have come to a halt.

Anyway, you can now listen to the audio version of my story accompanied by Michael's music, where it is available for free on Soundcloud.


Friday, 11 September 2020

Trees, Flowers and Chirping Birds

Sun and Moon; watercolour, A3 size; Sept. 2020.

 A lone sunflower burst into bloom on the edge of our patio, probably a spilled seed from the bird feeder. Not much escapes the attentions of resident wood pigeons and blackbirds, but this seed somehow defied the daily regiments of rummaging beaks to seize a foothold and flourish. Good on ya, lil' seed.

So there it was in all its golden glory, bobbing madly in the increasing wind and about to be spoiled. So I nipped out with a pair of scissors and set it in a vase - where it looked pretty daft, actually, all alone on its own-e-oh. The solution was obvious. Very soon it was joined by more sunflowers and some tall white lilies. And then hubby suggested I paint them.

Flower painting is not an area in which I have much confidence; it's way outside of my comfort zone. Yes, I've done two flower paintings recently but these are - so far as I can recall - the only ones I've ever done, and I only did these due to being subject to the COVID 19 lockdown when we were all supposed to stay at home as much as possible. Challenges can be fun, though, and comfort zones are good to expand, so I selected an A3-size sheet of cold pressed, 300 lbs Bockingford paper and drew the blooms.

Note the mandatory cup of tea!

The watercolour paints are a mixture of Winsor & Newton and Daler Rowney, and I use Royal & Langnickel brushes. Some people get very keen to ferret out these technical details, as if knowing this will magically improve their own art. It won't; only practice will do this.

New to watercolour painting and want to know what to buy without spending more than you need? Click on this link to read my useful guide.

Anyway, here's the finished painting, which was done over a number of days. With watercolour, you really need to let each stage dry before pushing ahead with the next, and so I'd paint a bit early in the morning then head off to my day job. By the time I get home, the best light is already fading now we're heading into autumn and so I waited till the next day before doing more.

I'm now toying with the idea of doing more flower paintings. This could possibly become a theme, over time. Besides, it gives me the perfect excuse for buying more gorgeous flowers for our dining room!

Tree #3, Birkenhead Park Series; oil on canvas; 2020.

The other painting which I've now finished is Tree #3. Yes, it is a plain title. Maybe I'll concoct something more poetic later. Or maybe not. Anyway, it's a tree and it grows in Birkenhead Park and so the painting is inevitably a part of my on-going series themed on that location.

I find myself interested by the twisty, entwined shapes of old trees, and by the variations of colour and light/shade especially in a dense, tangled copse or woodland. This particular tree stands in the upper park, close to Ashfield Road, in a small area specifically set aside for wildlife so the ground hasn't been tidied up too much. I may well return to this spot to paint some more.

For oil paintings, I use Winsor & Newton's Artists' Hog brushes, which have long handles and I've found them to be incredibly versatile and hard-wearing. The paints themselves are an assortment of several quality brands, and I use an ancient hardboard palette which I never clean with anything other than a rag or a few sheets of kitchen roll. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the paintings. Do feel free to leave your comments below.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

COVID 19 and Earwigs.


So off he goes, back to work after five months of furlough. Am I awful for being a little envious of his prolonged paid holiday? While hubby's been contentedly lounging on the couch, indulging in reading novels and marathon film-watching sessions, I've been melting under itchy PPE and helping to look after people made ill by COVID 19. Some didn't pull through.

Each day I'd think,"Is this the day I contract the virus? Will I carry it home to Richard?" His health conditions make him more vulnerable to infection. It has been stressful and mentally exhausting, and yet I've had it easy when compared to the experiences of hospital staff on the designated COVID wards.

The place where I work part-time is now free of corona virus/COVID 19. Will we get a second wave?  Your guess is as good as mine, as only time will tell. 

Meanwhile, I keep seeing idiots on social media spreading nonsense which implies COVID 19 is a myth and that its dangers have been exaggerated. According to them, the bleak trials of the last months were a figment of health workers' imaginations. What an insult to health workers of all kinds, and also to all the other key workers who've kept this country ticking over while other people have rested safely at home. I wish these conspiracy theorists would stick to chattering about the yeti, Nessie and the likelihood of Lestat being real. (Actually, these can be fun topics....)

Birkenhead Park sketches series; ink and watercolour; August 2020.

Here's one of my recent sketches, part of the on-going Birkenhead Park series which is now into it's fourth year. It's about time I did some more "proper" paintings for this project, isn't it! So far, I've got heaps of A4 and A5 sketches in sketchbooks, mostly done in ink or pencil, and with more recent ones with loose washes of watercolour on top of these. There's an oil painting still on my easel, currently about three-quarters done - no title yet, though Tree #3 is a possibility, (imaginative, hmm?). I haven't done many paintings this year, so far, simply because I've been too tired after work.

This watercolour and graphite sketch shows a family of moorhens daintily exploring waterlily leaves, while sunbathing on the banks of the pond are a cluster of newly-hatched moorhen chicks. This one's from Birkenhead Park, too, drawn with the sketchpad held in the same wobbling hand which was hanging onto two dogs' leads to keep them from the edge of the floating wooden jetty. Neither dog swims by choice; they'll paddle up to their ankles then run for dry land. However, they seemed to think the swarms of wriggling jacksharps looked worthy of investigation.

Emily is feeling her age now. She'll be fourteen years old by November. Her once-brown face is liberally sprinkled with white fur, and she's happier with short walks now. Even then, she likes to rest on a bench and watch the world go by. Her appetite is okay, and she's still the affectionate and mischievous scamp that she's always been. But this last week she's developed a slight wobble, as if she has dizzy spells. Apparently this is quite a common thing in older dogs and is something to do with the inner-ear. She's in no distress at all, but obviously we'll keep an eye on her.

Earlier this year Richard delightedly cried, "An earwig! I've not seen them for decades!" Now we have a massive colony of the (ahem) dear little things who keep creeping under our kitchen door after the dogs' dinner. So now as soon as the dogs have finished eating, once it's time to do the washing up after our evening meal, any scraps get bunged onto the patio - which the neighbour's cats are enjoying - and the invasion has decreased but not ceased. Try vinegar, advised the internet, so we poured vinegar into the door sill to create an acid moat. Our kitchen now reeks like an over-enthusiastic chippy, and the earwigs happily swim through it anyway. 

Richard's cries on spying more earwigs have changed somewhat. To a casual on looker, he might seem to have taken up Irish folk dancing.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Daily Sketches and Annoying Hoops

My work - this week we began having to undergo weekly COVID 19 tests. Yes, that horse had bolted so long ago it is now lost beyond the horizon. At least I don't have to hike to Bidston train station again for these, as we're using self-administered tests done at work - so we're all breathing on the same office mirror while we poke a cotton bud down our gagging throats then up each rebellious nostril while the manager waits with sterile tube in hand in which to dunk it, and the admin lady rattles away on the computer to log each test. Results are sent to each tested person (and place of work) via text, and the NHS log site assumes everyone has a mobile phone and makes no allowance for those like me who don't. So my results get texted to work, then work emails them on to me - so much for data security!

Speaking of daftness, Richard tried to make an appointment to see our doctor. As the surgery is just around the corner and as he was passing it anyway he decided to walk in. The receptionist told him this wasn't allowed and that all appointments have to be made online now. What if a person hasn't got access this way? Apparently, this is too bad; no alternative provision has been granted. "But I'm here now," he said. "Why can't you  just look at your computer and book me in directly?" This, apparently, is too simple. Hoops have been invented and we are now obliged to jump through them.

So, I went online on my PC, got to the medical centre's website which has a Big Red Warning on it about this new requirement. Okay, so there was also a preliminary stage to pass through which asks people to look up their query via a Q&A process - only it had nothing about diabetes in its A-Z list of ailments, or anything about a diabetes/medication annual review, which is what he wants. The robotic computer response advice was to phone 111 - not really relevant. So then, below all this, there was a small Book Your Appointment button - click to that page, only it won't load; all I get is a Page Unavailable sign. Tried several times, no joy.

Anyway, I mentioned this palaver to a colleague who said he'd had a similar run around. He'd ended up going into a Walk-In Centre in order to get antibiotics for the infection which was happily tracing dark lines up his leg from the knee surgery he'd had last year. So next time you hear the NHS whining about the amount of people who keep turning up needlessly at A&E, now you know why!