Although the weather has been very cold it has been beautiful here - a bit like Narnia with frost staying on the trees and plants all day. On Sunday the sun came out for a while and we went for a drive to Banbury. All the way up on the Banbury Road I was going 'Wow!' - the countryside is breathtaking in Oxfordshire. I hadn't realised how beautiful this county is. And still very unspoilt (long may that continue). On the way back we decided to go to a little village called Tackley, as we'd heard it was nice. It was like going back in time about 100 years - a proper old-fashioned village with a few children playing on the pretty village green, a Christmas tree with lights waiting for a switching on ceremony that night. It was like a Midsomer Murders village without the murders! We went into the village's only pub, The Gardiner Arms and as we walked through the door we could hear the gentle bubble of conversation - no music or sport noise going on in the background. And to top it all the people in there were so nice and friendly. We whiled away an enjoyable couple of hours there and will definitely be returning!
We decided to take a winter mooring quite on impulse. We only became continuous cruisers this August and had planned to carry on moving around the canals, stopping for two weeks at a time, throughout the winter. The biggest worry about the decision to move to Oxford was whether I'd be able to work. My Vodafone dongle works fine in most locations on the Thames, but I had heard the Oxford canal was not the best place for a good signal. However we now know we made the right choice. It's quite a novelty having a new area to explore - we enjoy driving around Oxfordshire - there are some beautiful villages. My dongle decided to co-operate, I have a signal with one bar, but it works fine and I haven't had a problem so far. We miss friends and mail is a bit of a problem - we have to go back to Teddington to pick it up. But we aren't too far away and have been back to see people. We're so glad that we decided to stay put for the winter - especially with the weather as it is now. We've got all the facilities we need nearby and two good pubs to boot!
Although we haven't had much snow here in Oxford, the weather is icy cold and the canal is frozen over. However so far we've managed to keep toasty warm on the boat with our coal fire and paraffin heater. We've learnt a new trick - if we leave the kettle on top of the fire during the day it almost boils and so I can have multiple cups of tea without using too much gas!
I know I haven't blogged for ages. We are now settled at our mooring near Oxford, and getting to know the area gradually. I've been working on this painting of Molly, and have just finished it. As she's a chinese dog I put her on a background of a Tibetan rug. It's in oil on canvas - I'm slowly getting more used to painting in oils. I'm going to try painting on hardboard next.
We're making our way up the Thames to Oxford, where we have winter moorings for five months. Today we stopped in Maidenhead so i could do some work. I hope the Vodafone dongle holds up when we get to more rural parts!
Living on the boat means now weekends are full of boat-related chores. Yesterday we had to go to the laundrette, collect our mail from friends, get the weeks' shopping, take the boat up to and through Molesey lock to fill up with water and empty the toilets, bring it back though the lock again and then hastily try and find somewhere to moor before it got too dark.
Maidenhair fern near the window. I think I should practice my tonal drawings a bit more - I tend to draw in line most of the time. We are now at a mooring near Dumsey Meadows in Chertsey. Apparently this is the only meadow remaining of it's type by the Thames now. A herd of cows are left to graze the meadow without it being interfered with in any way. This means certain wildflowers are able grow here that are not found anywhere else.
Last night we had trouble finding a place to moor. We wanted to stay in Shepperton but all the moorings were full as there is a festival on at the weekend. In the end we stayed at Walton on Thames, outside two nice pubs. This is the garden of The Swan.
This is the view from the boat window today. We are in Shepperton, on the Thames, opposite Pharoah Island. It's very quiet and peaceful here, but we've slightly outstayed our welcome, as it's only a 24 hour mooring, so tomorrow we have to move on.
My life seems to consist of lots of little new starts, times whem I feel inspired again. This one's quite a biggy though. I haven't blogged or sketched or painted for at least two months - I kept saying to myself 'I'll do it when we move to the boat'. Lots of things have been happening, sad things like the loss of my lovely Chester dog, who died four weeks ago aged 14, and having to take the little rabbit Binky to a rescue centre, big things like emptying my house completely, decluttering to the max, putting stuff in storage and fitting all the necessary stuff on the boat. Now we have handed the keys to the house over - we have no mooring - we are rootless for the first time - total water-gypsies! This is the start of our new life as continuous cruisers, and hopefully the start of a lot more sketching! The one above was of the view from our boat moored at Weybridge visitor moorings.
I'm trying to get back into drawing and sketching again. I've been thinking a lot about it but not doing it! I thought it might be a good idea to start occasionally drawing things that I don't really want to draw, partly because I find them hard to do. This is an example.
Just thought I'd show this sweet pic of my three little friends - this is how they were sleeping last night.
I'm sorry I havent posted for so long - it's due to the major distraction of having to pack up a house to fit into a boat. We are moving back to our narrowboat in August and having accumulated stuff from my late parents, husband, his parents and some great aunts, It's a huge job to try and sort it all out. Being of a sentimental nature doesn't help either! As a result I haven't done any drawing or painting recently - but I'm looking forward to resuming it when this is all done!
I used Fisher 400 paper for this 14 x 10 inch self portrait. I started off with a watercolour underpainting, and used all sorts of pastels, pastel pencils, hard and soft pastels. Unison are my favourite soft pastels - they are so buttery and the colours so vivid.
I've just completed this portrait as part of my 'Pet Portraits' course. It's from a photo I found online. I used Wallis paper and started off with an underpainting. I have to say, Wallis paper is so brilliant - it's definitely my favourite, which is unfortunate because you can't get it in the UK any more. You can get it shipped from the USA, but it's quite expensive.
I've been looking at some other sketchers and have decided to experiment with a looser style, which involves holding the pencil further back from the point. I'm not sure if this is the way to achieve it.
This is the kitten after the second layer of oil paint has been applied. When this is dry I will probably add whiskers and stuff. I was thinking of doing little paintings (6 x 6) of cats to sell but if they all take this ridiculously long time to do I won't be making any money! I havent really got the hang of oil paints yet, especially how to get a piece of work to a very detailed stage... I'll just have to keep practising I guess.
Happy 2010 to the lovely people that visit my blog. I hope you all had great holidays! It's nice to get back in the swing of things. I have been doing some drawing but have unfortunately done nothing that I wanted to show anybody - I'm not sure why it's like that at the moment. That's why posts have been a bit thin on the ground lately! However, I'm continuing with my animal portraits and have started this 6 x 6 inch painting of a cat. This is the painting as it stands at the moment - I have painted the first layer. I'm fairly new to the concept of 'layering' in oils so am not sure how this will eventually turn out. I'm waiting for this layer to dry and then will continue with the painting. I have an idea that this is the best the painting is going to look but will have to wait and see! By the way, regular readers of the blog will have noticed that I'm not actually living on a narrowboat any more and I was trying to sell it, but now I'm thinking about moving back onto it in the not so distant future! It's an addictive way of life!
My name is Angie Wood and I live on a narrowboat on the beautiful Oxford canal.
A long time ago in the eighties I studied Art and Design at Goldsmiths College and went on to be a paste up artist and then a graphic designer. I’ve never stopped painting and drawing though – I painted pet and animal portraits for a while and over the past two years have begun creating small oil paintings of vintage objects, textiles and flowers. I collect items from fleamarkets to paint and my little narrowboat is getting fuller all the time! I’m particularly delighted by colourful patterns on textiles and ceramics and I also love painting reflective surfaces. I’m usually attracted to items from the early part of the twentieth century, which bring back memories of my great aunts’ and grandmother’s cosy houses. My artistic aim is to pay homage to the things I paint by observing them as closely as I can, and to create something beautiful that will hopefully make people as happy as I was when I was making it!