Koi Carp

There’s an aquarium store near us that have a large indoor pond just inside their door. In which they keep large beautiful koi fish.  It’s the sort of set up that most fish lovers would love but I am sure would cost a bomb or two to achieve your own, not considering the upkeep, maintenance and space.  I don’t think I have seen too many of these since I moved over here if any apart from the one at this store.  My 3 yr old daughter likes the fish but what she really loves is that if you go to the till the other side of the door you can buy a pre-measured out little pot of fish food for a dollar and feed the koi.  The excitement and thrashing that ensues from the feeding frenzy, as their big mouths open to gulp down the tiny pellets gets giggles and raucous laughter from S.  So every once in a while we visit the aquarium store so she can feed the fish.

We have actually been doing this a while, yet it hadn’t made it to this blog yet.

But I have recently been trying to reorganize my digital devices which I use for my art.  Even when I hand draw or paint with traditional medium I still use technology to scan it, finish it or tidy it up and enlarge, before I share on this blog. Other times I use it to actually make art from scratch with my different apps and programs I have.  But I am pretty bad at transferring and deleting things and so it’s gotten to the point of clean up and tidy up or not be able to do anything more.  Digital memory is limited it seems more than my memory on a Monday morning, during a caffeine ban.  One of my favorite and go-to creative apps is the Art Rage for IPad app, which was struggling to process the simplest of tasks thanks to the multiple large as possible multi-layer works it had saved all waiting to be transferred or finished.  I can no longer ignore spring cleaning my digital files and work. So I have been trying to do it here and there, especially when it comes to inside the apps, which I found have quite a few pieces not finished.

And then I saw a fish, an unfinished fish, a whole lot of effort put in already fish, but no where near finished.


A fish in need, Koi in progress long forgotten.

A fish in need, Koi in progress long forgotten.

And then I remembered our walks to feed the fish and S’s squeals of laughter and happiness.  And that this fish has been waiting for more detail since 2013, poor poor lonely forgotten fish.

How could I leave it for so long languishing, with all the memories it represents? Clearly I had lost momentum during the creative process, probably from loosing my nerve.  I tend to get scared about ruining a piece and back off for a breather.  This breather apparently took a year.  Well I clearly couldn’t leave it any longer.  So I pushed through the uncertainty about what direction to take it and started making progress.

Close up of the nose details in progress.

Close up of the nose details in progress.


In Progress Koi Carp close to being finished. Screen shot of the work in the Art Rage app which I am creating it in.

In Progress Koi Carp close to being finished. Screen shot of the work in the Art Rage app which I am creating it in.

I was surprised how little time it took to finish considering how long it took me to get to the point in which i found it. I came to the conclusion that it’s my dithering and lack in confidence in my directional choices that make it such a long creational process.  The minute I chose to ignore those little voices and just go with the flow it seemed to speed up.

But as always I had a last minute wobble with the eye colour.

Screen shot of Koi Carp in progress within the app. With lighter blue eyes.

Screen shot of Koi Carp in progress within the app. With lighter blue eyes.

I realized whilst on screen the darker blue version was striking, but in print the lighter blue would stand out more.  So I decided to make both versions. Why not? This is the benefit of digital art. you can create different versions of things with simple tweaks quite easily without having to start over on a canvas or board.

So here they are my two versions of the same fish.

Dark blue eyed koi carp.

Dark blue eyed koi carp.

And with a lighter touch.

Koi Carp version two with lighter blue eyes.

Koi Carp version two with lighter blue eyes.

I think it works. I am glad I didn’t go whole hog on the water swirls, as I think that the plain black areas of the water add a nice touch and stop the water from overwhelming the koi.  I have to admit it makes a nice mirrored fabric print design.

And more so I have something finished to represent all those memories of S and her screams of laughter and giggles whilst feeding the fish.

I think it’s probably time we take another walk back to feed the fishes.



I owe you a valentine.

I’ve owed you this post for over a month. In fact I have been working on the artwork for this post since way before Valentines day. For one reason or another I got distracted by so many things I never got to finish the different drawings and idea I had going. Such is life I guess of the artist/mummy.

I was inspired to create an tongue in cheek annotated study of a Valentine’s card. When I started I was really enjoying it. I decided to create the artwork digitally and use watercolour paints and black ink pen effects.

I figured the art piece would need a title.


Ribbon banner…Annotated study of the best Valentine ever!


Love me, love you…..I figured there would be writing theres always soppy messages on a Valentine’s card.


Watercolour Heart.

Because love hearts are the quintessential icon of love.
At this point I decided it was best and easier to create individual elements that I thought would be obligatory parts of an awesome valentine. Then later on I could splice the, together to make one.


Cupids Arrow

I figured Cupid needed to feature somewhere.


Yarn Ball Heart


Yarn Ball Heart with shading.

The Yarn Ball Heart image is an illustration of a ball of yarn, in the shape of a heart. I was going somewhere with this, as you will see next.


Yarn Ball Heart gains a kitty. Screenshot of work in progress.


The initial makings of a teddy bear. Screenshot of work in progress.

Almost all Valentine’s have a featured cartoon person or character. Something or someone soppy, cute or funny. Which is where I was going with both the teddy bear and the cat. But this is where things started unraveling. I am my worst critic of my work. And I don’t really feel I can do cartoon work. I struggled to get a good flow from the start on both. And was never happy with what I made. Perpetually erasing and restarting. Till I got as far as you can see in these screenshots. The problem with not feeling like I getting it right over and over and over is I start loosing interest. The desire to continue wanes and I lose the energy to propel myself forward to the end. That coupled with the fact that I lost the inspiration behind my cat illustration just very recently (my awesome, front door knocking, mint and roast potato thieving, bigger character than any human, cat of almost 15 years. And whom we had from the very start of his life. Lost a fight with a car. The next artwork I finish inspired by him feel needs to be something as awesome as him……or at least something I’m proud of and feel connected to. I will probably finish this annotated valentine at some point. But for now I need to stop looking at it. And get rid of that “need to finish now” feeling.

So with all that said…….

I still owe you a Valentine.

Yarn Ball Heart Tee Shirt
Yarn Ball Heart Tee Shirt by InspiredMeStudio
Check out Black and white sketch T-Shirts online at zazzle

Old Memories and New tricks

This blog post is a long time coming! 9 months to be exact….and thats just the length of time I have been working on and off on the painting for this post. I had intended to do something like this for a post before Christmas last year. but had to wait until I had some important tools, without which I was having trouble making it work. When I started this blog, I had visions of paints, inks and paper, canvases and a lot of mess. I love using those mediums. But there’s one problem with those lovely messy mediums, when you have your very intelligent, also highly inquisitive toddler with you at all times. And it’s the messy part. Whatever I have, hold, want, eat. she must know what it is/have what it is. All of this is the atypical life with a toddler. Can you imagine sitting down with an easel and oil pants with a small mini you who wants to take the paint brushes, feel the paints, copy mummy and paint/draw something herself? (Yes she loves to engage her creative side, usually with crayons or pens on the travertine floor!) as you can imagine its hard to actually draw/paint yourself when your little one wants to try their hand at it too, specifically with your tools. It’s chaos and hard to be productive. And then there is the set up. I snatch a few minutes here or there. But rarely find a huge chunk of time in one sitting to do anything. By the time I would have set up and started getting through the initial creative block it would be time to take off my artist cap and just be mummy again. And I would have to put it away again or else risk a room redecoration. I really love these messy, traditional mediums. But they are not the most convenient for this Mummartist (yup that’s right I just made up a new word for myself). So I got a little bit excited when I got an iPad for my birthday last year and found out you could get painting apps that simulate many of the traditional/real art mediums. Even better I don’t have to scan it in to share with you all, I don’t have to tidy a mass of mess away after five minutes or a length set up. Just click save and then later start where I left off later. The Sensu brand (as well as other brands) even have a paintbrush stylus! Holly Molly this secret gadget geek went giddy. So I downloaded a few apps to play with. And armed with my new pad and apps I had a little play. Initially I played with the free sketchbook app and one called brushes (free versions) and as I didn’t have a stylus used my fingers. I found it clumsy and hard to get with….finger painting on the iPad just wasn’t coming close to my beloved oils, artist inks and paint brushes. Everything I did looked klutzy and immature. But the examples on the apps showed such exquisite and detailed artwork…..I figured it was me and a lack of talent for digital art. In particular my fingers were too chunky and inaccurate to achieve what I was wanting.

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the above images of hummingbirds and flowers, were drawn on sketchbook for Ipad app ***free version. Using fingers instead of a stylus.

I decided I wanted a stylus that would simulate a pencil or a paintbrush better than my fingers. And after a little searching around on the net I came across stylus’s that actually had brush ends to do just that. On more contemplation I decided I wanted the stylus brush by Sensu as it seemed thinner than the others and I was hoping therefore easier to draw more detailed and less clumsy (remember I was trying to avoid the problems I was having with my sausage fingers…..well I don’t really have sausage fingers. It’s just that when you are trying to draw a fine line or detail a finger or stubby/chunky stylus blocks your view). I must have been good that year because guess what I found in my stocking? Yup my own Sensu paintbrush stylus!! (insert images of happy dances here). The Sensu stylus box had app suggestions, which I guess the brand felt they are compatible with. I was not really bonding with the free version of brushes and decided to delete it. I was semi bonded with the Sketchbook apps free version but not enough to pay to go pro….and I missed being able to paint with oils. So I decided to give one of the suggested apps a go. I already had the free version of sketchbook so I opted to try Art Rage for IPad. It didn’t have a free version to try which made me nervous to spend $4.99 but its screenshots showed options that looked like it had what I wanted. The simulated oils, pencils etc. even better was they have a computer version that’s not too bad a price. After downloading Art rage for Ipad and using my new brush stylus. I experimented and made the artwork I shared in both my valentines day and valentines chaser posts. After this Art rage became my favorite app and Sketchbook my second. I decided to try and challenge myself and see what I could really do if I tried. I started looking through my old digital pictures for inspiration and came across some from my first holiday with my husband after we were married. It was a road trip. I saw a great deal of The American landscape. And a fair bit of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in Canada. Lots of breath taking sights and good photo opportunities.


View roadside from the Indian Canyon Scenic Byway(191), in the Ashley National Forest, UT.


Another scenic roadside view in Ashley National Forest, UT.


Ashley National Forest, UT.


Obviously I took quite a few in Ashley National Forest, UT.


But in my defence the sights were quite breath taking.


And all of them taken from the roadside.


A beach in Gros Morne National Park, NF.


The lighting was very inspiring and moody.


Each angle gave a different sight and lighting.


As you can tell I went a little snap happy here too.


I loved the moody clouds and how the light lit up the water.


Just one more moody beach picture I promise, all of the beach pictures are the same beach.


On the way back through Colorado, we found these old rusty tanker cars being stored on a track in Alamosa.  The end of the cars were miles away and out of sight.  Curving to the right and out of shot.


We also went through the Petrified Forest National Park really quick.

As you can see I took so many pictures…the above were my favourites. I particularly loved the beach in New Foundland and the tanker car train that was being stored on a track in Colorado. That train was endless you couldn’t even see its end. It was a rather spectacular sight. The Grand Canyon and petrified forest also provided for some spectacular sights. I’m glad to have got the opportunity to see these sights. I really wanted to paint. I hadn’t had the opportunity to use oils on canvas for a long time and wanted to see how rusty I was at painting landscapes. I decided to choose two to flit between as and when I needed a change or got painters block. Being that Art rage was my newest app acquisition and it promised a simulation of oil paints using a brush. I decided to use that app. And I settled in to start painting….. I started with the Colorado tanker car train photo. 20131019-222552.jpg

Screenshot of in progress Colorado Tanker Cars painting, in open Art Rage App.

I realized quite quickly this wasn’t going to be by any means a quick project. I got a little bored with the slow progress and being….well me, and needing a change of pace. I messed around on both Art Rage and Sketchbook to make some valentines themed images for my valentines day and valentines chaser posts (see I didn’t forget, I promised I would explain how I made them in my next post). After a while the painters block never cleared with the tanker cars painting. And I never got past the above screenshot. I intend to go back to it though. Hopefully. When the mood takes and perhaps I’ll make progress rather than going around and around in circles doing and undoing things. That’s one of the beauties of the apps. You can undo like in photoshop your last action. You could never do that for a real oil painting mistake. Before I gave up, all be it temporarily on the tanker cars, I did start another digital oil on canvas landscape. This time choosing one of the Newfoundland beach photos as my subject matter.


Close up screenshot of Newfoundland beach painting in open Art Rage app.

This painting I was able to continue with, all be it with a few other “distractions” in the form of other illustrations, sketches and paintings here and there to give me a break and perspective when I felt it wasn’t working out right. Sometimes you have to take a break and step back so you can see it with a fresh pair of eyes. That said distractions aside, this was a slow project. In snatched minutes here and there, I worked on the beach painting. And worked on it……


Another screenshot of a zoomed in part of the Newfoundland beach painting in progress.  Open app Art Rage.

And worked on it……


Screenshot of the Art Rage APP gallery with Newfoundland beach painting, front and center. 

For 8 long months on and off, until eventually I felt like I could do any more. Until eventually I felt it was done. And here you have it. The finished Newfoundland beach painting. Created entirely on an IPad.


All finished.  Gros Morne National Park Beach Painting, by Inspired Me Studio.

Not too bad for these rusty hands, especially considering I’ve never digitally painted before. What do you think? Does it look like realistic oil paint on canvas?