Friday, 28 September 2007

Pencil Drawing

Dipping my toe into the world of watercolours caused me to have to sketch out, very lightly, the rough outline of what I was going to paint. Over time I began to wonder how a picture might look if I did it all in pencil. When I finally decided to have-a-go I was extremely surprised and very pleased. In many ways I feel more at home with a pencil than I do a brush, and certainly get more satisfaction from the drawing.

"TESS"Soon after the loss (through old age) of my beloved dog 'Tess' I decided to attempt my first-ever drawing of an animal. Tess's coat was what they call 'Brindle' and I found it very difficult to depict the varying light and dark shades without making her look strippey. Still, I was very pleased with the end result and her picture now hangs proudly in our hall for everyone to see. What was particularly comforting was that the long periods I spent working on her drawing, so soon after her loss, provided a warm and meaningful 'farewell'.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Watercolours for Beginners

LOL ... I had to chuckle to myself when I looked back at my first 3/4 posts. The whole point behind building my website some years ago was to try and encourage people to have a go at watercolours. That is still the major emphasis behind my website, it is the sole reason why I created my Art Forum, and was the main purpose for starting this blog. Yet my first few posts seem to be about anything but watercolours.

I believe that everyone has the ability to draw and paint. What don't have is the knowledge of "How". If a person starts with very simple scenes and grasps a few basics, then progressively more difficult images can be accomplished as experience grows. This is why I make such a big thing on my site about "having-a-go".

Regrettably, many people who do have-a-go, start off with something much too hard, make a hash of it and therefore conclude that they can't paint. This is what I did in my teens and I wrote-off any artistic tendencies I may have as a result. When I tried again, more sensibly, in my fifties, I was absolutely astounded. Oh, don't get me wrong ... my pictures aren't brilliant ... but that's not the point. They are MY pictures and I had great fun making them.

In my Art Forum we run a Monthly Painting Project in which we all, regardless of experience, paint the same subject. We then look at them all together, not to determine which is best and which is worse but to appreciate each others approach, style and accomplishment and learn from what others have done. Interestingly, 'the others' learn from us also. In another post I will show you some of the projects we have undertaken. They may not be 'great art' but we're all proud of them.

So, if you've ever thought you wouldn't mind trying your hand at drawing or painting then visit my website. Better still, join my forum. Guaranteed, the question "I'd like to draw but don't know where to start" will be greeted by warm and friendly help, suggestions and encouragement. Go on ... do it ... "have-a-go".

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Rugby Forecast again

It is not overly difficult to look at rankings, weigh the odds, consider trends and performance, and predict who is most likely to win or lose a game of Rugby. Of course, predicting the actual score is a different matter altogether and is something I have not attempted to do. However, to determine whether or not Bonus points will be obtained it has obviously been necessary to try and determine how closely matched any two teams are. This means attempting to calculate at least the points difference. One of the forecasted results showed such a small points difference that my calculations indicated the most likely explanation to be a DRAW. This was the game between Canada and Japan which finished up at 12 points each .... a draw!!!

If only I'd have had some money on that one. :-)

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Sony DSC-H9 Digital Camera

I have decided to have a new digital camera courtesy of my upcoming birthday. Since a friend showed me the results he had obtained with his Olympus SP550UZ I felt sure that would be the camera I would choose. I had already decided I wanted more than a simple point-and-shoot compact but I didn't want to go to the extreme's of getting a SLR. One of the new breed of 'Bridge' camera's, like the SP550UZ fitted my requirements very nicely.

Another good friend suggested I should consider the Sony DSC-H9. Thanks to his good advice and able assistance I have now trawled through dozens of camera reviews and I have to admit that the Sony comes out on top in most regards. Of course, like all camera's, the reviewers will always find something to complain about, but on balance, for the type of amateur photography I will be doing, the specification seems to be pretty good.

I have to wait another 4 weeks until I can actually get my hands on it but rest assurred I will be very keen to snap some photo's and publish the results here. If you have any comments or advice regarding the H9 then please don't hesitate to drop me a line or add a comment to this post.

Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra

Many years ago, my daughter was set an English project to create a small booklet for a particular target audience. It had to be written in a manner suitable for that target audience. As a keen musician and with half-an-eye on a teaching career, her choice was a book about Orchestra's aimed at 5-8 year olds. She wrote and illustrated the booklet herself and I was so impressed with the result that I decided to create a web site that emulates her creation. Her book, and my web site, are called Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra.
Though the web site is functional from a display point of view, I have always felt it lacks one major ingredient .... sound! I would very much like to add the sounds of the various instruments in an interactive way to help children better appreciate the role each instrument has in an Orchestra. Regrettably, I have not been successful in finding a suitable set of sound files. Either they are not the type of sounds I am looking for or I can't get permission to use them. If anyone reading this can offer a solution to this problem then please let me know by using the contact form on the web site.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Rugby World Cup Forecast

If you're even remotely interested in the world cup then my Rugby World Cup Forecast is a great way of keeping up-to-date with how things are progressing.
I don't claim to know anything about the game, in fact there are very few people who know less than me. My forecast is largely based on world rankings but with some additional parameters to take into account recent trends, current performance and performance during the World Cup itself.
The main purpose of the Forecast is really just an excerise in modelling. It isn't intended as a serious attempt to predict the outcome of the world cup. That said, unexpected results like a poorly rated team beating a highly rated one, will have an effect on the expectations for the latter games. That has already been seen with the shick defeat of France in the opening game. The Forecast was initially showing an 'All Blacks' v. France final, but not after that game.

Holiday in Scotland

I have recently returned from a wonderful week in Scotland. Rather than attempt to do one substantial painting during the week I deliberatly chose to try and do one quick and casual sketch/painting each day. It was an opportunity to try new things and that is just what I did. I had mixed success and consider some things successful and some things not, but I learned a great deal from the experience, and that makes even the failures successful in their own way. All of my Scotland paintings/drawings have been posted in my forum but I hope to post them here and on my web site as soon as I can.

New Chapter

I have built and run my own web site for a few years now, and have often thought about creating a blog. There often seems to be things to say or updates to announce that would benefit from an easier, more independant source. For example, I had no easy way of heralding the opening of my brand new Art Forum in April, nor of promoting my mathematical forecast of the Rugby World Cup. The addition of new art to my web site will be something else I can promote from here, and it will be so much easier to provide a bit of background to each new creation.
LOL ... I'm quite sure this blog isn't going to get a massive following (or even a small one) but if I can get it working sympathetically with what I am also doing on my web site and in my forum, then it will prove to be very useful facillity and one that moves the development of my online presence into a new chapter.