Spangled Jerboa

The jerboa is a hopping desert rodent found throughout Northern Africa and Asia east to northern China and Manchuria. They tend to live in hot deserts, their big feet keep them from sinking into the soft sand as they hop. My little guy is a bit of a disco bunny, too…instead of fur (in a desert? So last century!) he’s got a spangled hide of little winking sequins that sparkle in the desert sun.

Again, available on Society6 as a-this-and-a-that and what-have-you.

Click here for my Society6 shop

Shopping for disco desert mice or not, I hope you enjoy the image; he’s a sweetie and I loved painting this one. The original is in another artist-friend’s collection, now.

The Pack Alpaca

Pack Alpaca on Society6Another of my critters from the Dream Menagerie exhibition of 2014…the Pack Alpaca, with a zippered pocket to carry your stuff as you hike through the Andes of southern Peru…

Pack Alpaca on Society6Again, available in the Society6 shop, as art prints. canvas prints, bag, throw pillow, and clock. Hah. I hate selling my own stuff, I feel so pushy!

Then again, I have to be honest and admit that I like this one so much, I may order a bag for myself! It’s weird when you find yourself lusting after your own design and ordering it from someone else…with a little bit of stitching, I may even be able to put a real pocket where that zipper is, that would be really fun!

The original sold last year, so unless I buy or print this design, I’ll never ee my little llama again!

The Armoured Wombat : Society6

Tha Armoured Wombat toteI’ll be adding the animals from last year’s Dream Menagerie to my Society6 shop, too.

Here’s the first one, Panzer Wombat…as though this little living tank of a marsupial needed to get any tougher! Wombats are like cannonballs with eyes and a furry nose. With the added protection of a Galapagos tortoise’s shell, he’s invincible! A superhero, nay, a god, among wombats…

Available as an art print, framed or un~, print on stretched canvas, a mug, a clock, a throw pillow, and a tote bag (I followed the file instructions, but the smaller tote bags chopped off his nose! AARGGH! Pictured is the 18″ bag, where he gets to keep his nose. I will fix this, in a day or two, I promise.)

Oh, yeah, I forgot, my SOCIETY6 SHOP is HERE. Hee.

Society6 : free worldwide shipping

Casa das Flores on Society6FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING TODAY
available for most things in my Society6 shop

CLICK HERE

I’ve added cushions, tote bags, and wall clocks to the main Casa das Flores design…perfect for the summer holidays!

Casa das Flores tote bags on Society6Also, I’ve put some of my beloved’s quirky black-and-white ink drawings in the shop, available as small or medium prints.

Candle Poet on Society6His style is very different to mine, as you can see! Themes are cycling, sailing, the author and the love/hate relationship with his muse, and general weirdness…

Cycling in The Outback on Society6

I’ll be uploading many more of his drawings to the Society6 shop over the next couple of weeks (travel is expensive, we didn’t have much money to begin with, so we will be mining all the creative works we can dig up!)

A new design for Society6 (at last!)

Casa das Flores

I think my craving for old colonial buildings in Brazil is finally mellowing. I am spending less time running around trying to draw them all, and more time being inspired by my own sketches, using them as a springboard for more imaginative works.
Casa das Flores (detail)
In this one I imagined a three-storey building as a vase for giant flowers and foliage.
Casa das Flores (detail)The original painting was made with watercolours, gouache, and a sepia drawing pen on Arches HP paper. At first I really meant to colour the house as brightly as the flowers, using this sketch of Theatro Santa Roza as my guide, but after drawing the building in pen, saw that an almost black-and-white house provided better contrast.
Theatro Santa Roza

I can always try again: the ideas that I didn’t use in this painting will probably turn up in the next, and in the ones after that…
studies and thumbnails (Casa das Flores)This is available as an Art Print on paper and canvas in my SOCIETY6 shop. I will try to have the design available as bags, throw pillows, phone cases, and other products, before the end of the week.

Casa das Flores art print on Society6

sketchbook pages

sketch mosaicIn case you weren’t aware of it, I keep images of most of my recent sketchbook pages on another blog, schizzograffia.

I haven’t been taking many photos or doing much in the way of deep thinking, lately (LOL) but Kris and I have been going out to sketch things in the towns to our left and right (João Pessoa and Cabedelo) pretty much every other day. Full-sized images are on there…you can click the mosaic of pages, too.

A city’s historical center

As casas do colonial

I sure hope you like the colonial Portuguese style of colorful, baroque houses as much as I do…because here are some more, and I suspect there will be months and months more of these confections.

As casas do colonial

We took the train into João Pessoa the other day, and walked around the city’s Centro Historico. This is where the city was founded in 1585…not at all near the beaches on the coast, overlooking the Atlantic ocean, but a good way inland, along the sleepy banks of the Rio Paraiba, where ships could dock and load up on sugar and extremely valuable brasil wood coming from the interior (hence the proximity of the railway to the Historical Center).

As casas do colonial

Unlike Olinda, with its very narrow streets and its air of a museum and residential area, the “wedding cake” buildings of João Pessoa are actively used as business premises.

As casas do colonial

At seeming variance with the vivid colour combinations, the frilly plaster mouldings, and the wrought iron balconies, the businesses housed in this area are mostly hardware and construction supplies, industrial spare parts, automobile parts and garages.

As casas do colonial

And while there are pockets in the area where the houses have been restored and done up to please the tourists and to live up to the bright images in the brochures, most of the buildings are succumbing to a slow decay. On some streets, entire house blocks have not been touched since the houses were built, 500 years ago. These houses are stripped to bare brickwork. The roofs are gone. The doors have been boarded up (sometimes the entire house has been filled in, with rubble and concrete, to discourage squatters). Trees grow inside the houses, vines creep up the once-ornate baroque facades.

DSC_0051

And much as I love the candy-coloured houses restored by money from benevolent societies in Switzerland and the UNESCO, I am more affected by the untouched buildings that stand as they have since they were built.

As casas do colonial

As casas do colonial

I think of what glorious, grand homes for the wealthy Portuguese traders they must have once been, and what an amazing little city João Pessoa must have been at the height of its commercial and political eminence, when it was the “CBD” of the state, and not just a patchily preserved wreck, propped up by historical societies.

As casas do colonial

Sextant navigation made simple(r)

manual titleJust before we left South Africa I asked Kris to teach me how to navigate using a sextant. We have a distrust of electronics on the boat (salt water and electronics do not love each other) because we have seen too many people rely on these gadgets, and then flounder when the gadgets malfunctioned.

Besides, there is romance in navigating using an old-fashioned sextant that modern-day GPS’s don’t seem to possess. As one sailor we met put it, what is these days referred to as “the science of astronavigation” was, once upon a time, called “the art of atronavigation”. We’ll take the art over the technology, anytime.

Kris has only ever navigated using a sextant and an accurate timepiece, and when we are sailing he uses it every day, so he’s got the operation of this beautiful piece of equipment down to a simple and functional process. When he was trying to teach me how to use it he wrote a short manual, because lots of other people have expressed the desire to learn from him, and he hasn’t got the time to sit with them all. So we’ve fixed this file up, added a few diagrams and some (admittedly poor photographs of) pages of a nautical almanac to assist with the equations, and it’s up for sale as a PDF file in my ETSY shop.

fig 1 sextant schem

A lot of people ask me to teach them sextant navigation. While the actual process is simple and easy, to become a confident navigator requires time and practice. I’ve seen so many people discouraged by the technical jargon used to explain celestial mechanics, that I have decided to write a simple how-to manual, leaving out anything that is not essential. You do not really need to understand the underlying spherical geometry to become a proficient navigator. If it takes your fancy, you can fill in the gaps later, but in the 1970ies when I learned the sextant myself, most skippers just did the trick without bothering about the theory, and it still worked.

The only mathematics involved in this manual are addition and subtraction of angles…6th grade algebra. The first man to circumnavigate the globe using a sextant and reliable clock, Captain James Cook, only had two years of formal education. When he joined the Navy at the age of 12 he could barely read and write…roughly the equivalent of a High School Certificate, these days.

I will assume that you are familiar with the concepts of latitude and longitude; namely that the Equator is designated as zero degrees of latitude, the North Pole lies on latitude 90° north and the South Pole is on 90° south.

Sections included in this manual:

  • Introducing the Sextant
  • The Nautical Almanac
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Position Line
  • Finding Your Position and Some Dirty Tricks

19 pages, with 15 illustrations/figures.