Thursday, 25 August 2016

The lemon tree

Some days in winter seem to be so dark, like the light switch is turned off. To brighten up these days we have the wondrous gift of the lemon tree of which we have tons of flourishing in New Zealand. I love seeing their glowing yellow globes of fruit. Light bulbs of nourishment!
  In this artwork I really want to express the glow lemon trees emit. it sits centrally at the bottom of the garden. A storm has passed and the sky in the south is heralding the calm glow of a gentle afternoon. Mr and Mrs Green have been waiting patiently in the warmth of the kitchen for the storm to subside. Lily sets her knitting to one side and gently pushes the cat of the side of the armchair where both had been quite happy in their tasks. For the cat it was watching the clicking needles go back and forth. George had been scanning garden annuals and jotting down ideas on the side of the newspaper.
"right then" says Lily "time to go out and have a look what damage the storm might done to the lemon tree. That wind was pretty strong. I wouldn't be surprised if it hasn't tossed a few lemons around the garden"she added.
George grunted and the dog woke up hearing the paper being put down and George scrape the chair back at the kitchen table as he got up.
"I'll put my gumboots on then" he replied and going to the back door he reached for his battered straw hat he wore since Lily and him had been married. It was his all weather gardening hat.
 Surprisingly it wasn't that cold just dark and damp however as they wondered down the garden path the lemon tree seemed to glow like it was all lit up like a Christmas tree. Scattered about lay yellow globes waiting to be picked up. The dog pounced on ahead eager to sniff and examine these strange offerings.
"That lemon tree is grand isn't Lily"announced George "Just think thirty five years ago when we came here it was just a little sapling, a twig of a tree, now look at it. All grown up, like us and burgeoning with fruit" George was evidently proud of his tree.
"Yes" agreed Lily, she often agreed with George when it came to the garden.It was his domain.
 "lets grab the baskets out of the shed and pick up the fallen fruit and I shall make us a lovely lemon meringue pie for tea" The house and especially the kitchen was Lily's undisputed domain.
 The cat and dog watched as the couple harvested the Lemons. Lovingly Lily and George placed their prizes into dark red cane baskets.
 "You know what?" pondered George as he looked towards the tree and then to his wife. "This lemon tree is a little bit like us"
  "Really!" chuckled Lily "Like we are sweet and bitter at the same time?"
"No, not just like that, but we have been here on this property together since we met and we planted the lemon tree and it is like it's weathered storms and droughts and it still flourishes, a bit like us. We have survived up and downs, the children have grown up here". George smiled lovingly at Lily and hugged her. "and"he added "you still glow."
Lily giggled "You old fool"
The couple meandered back up the path towards the kitchen door, followed by the cat and dog.
 And Lily made her best lemon meringue pie ever. 

Camellia in Winter

Over the August school holidays most families set off in search of mountains to ski and it is truly the month of snow and biting southerlies courtesy of the magnificent land mass of southern Antarctica. Sadly it doesn't snow here in Wellington as we are situated on the coast and it just not cold enough for much other than pelting hail...Snow is elusive. Although I say that and up above the surrounding high hills that encircle Wellington region snow settles and the walks around Eastbourne where I live the vistas of snow capped hills is a delight to behold. Magic even!
  So this artwork is inspired by the all the snow we have had in our country and my absolute love of the beautiful but fragile blooms of Camellia bushes. Nick- named the winter rose they adorn most gardens with an abundance of flowering petals. Colours range from the darkest red through to candy pinks with bright yellow stamens, palest pink and opalescent whites. I love them for their bravery. Against the onslaught winter weather they endure as much as they can and then they bruise and whole heads tumble onto grass and footpaths. I admire their resilience. My Camellia in this artwork loves the snow, she is not afraid for she filled with peaceful love knowing although she may bruise she will survive to bloom again next winter!

The Tui Aria

                                           The Tui Aria

Okay so I haven't been back to visit my blog for quite about two years!!!! I think I lost the plot on many levels. My post was supposed to be a short description of Miss Pohutukawa...but it launched almost all by its self into a really ridiculous story that I felt the urge to write, but realised afterwards it was a pile of pooh!!!And then I got shy about writing my blog and ran away back into my daily life and stuck to painting and running my shoppe.
  So moving right a long I have since closed my shoppe back in March of this year. A good idea me thinks as I wasn't making any money and the sanctuary of my neglected studio at home was calling me. It is such bliss to roll out of bed knowing how lucky I am to indulge in my passion which is to create artworks. I usually get up about 8am as I am lazy in nature and nothing is as more luxurious than making a cup of tea and going back to the warmth and comfort of a rumpled bed. Here Ruby my gorgeous hairy canine friend nestles down under the sheets and I peruse my emails, art books, poetry,  magazines and indeed anything that starts the creative engine racing. By 10am I am out for my walk with Ruby. Usually we do the coast walk, observing nature. The harbour is always different. The sea can be as smooth as silk and silvery in Winter or boiling with almost black waves crested with white wings. The wind blows like a ferocious pouncing beast or the air is so still you can melt into a wonderful sense of peace.
  This particular morning I had been out for one of my walks with Ruby and after a night of gales and rain the morning recovered and was breathing calmly. The wind had dropped to just a hush and droplets of rain clung to leaves and gutters. The world was all washed clean and sparkling. We took the path that takes us past the park where my favourite Oak tree stands. As we passed I suddenly noticed high up on the most tallest branches that a Tui bird had perched. And seemingly as if to acknowledge that we had stood still to view it, the glorious dark green bird launched into a beautiful Aria. I felt the bird was singing just for me and I felt like the luckiest person alive. 
  The painting above is my record of this occasion. Beauty can be found and heard even in the darkest and deepest of winter!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Miss Pohutukawa, Mr Tui and a wild affair

Summer is in full flush. Christmas went rushing by with all the excitement of a wind up tin toy. The New Year raised spirits in glasses and spirit in the soul. I fervently wished that 2015 will be a good year for all and the Prince of Peace will rule the planet.

so here I reveal my latest artwork and its entitled 'Miss Pohutukawa walks her red carpet'

As I have mentioned in previous blog postings my inspiration for creating artworks is firmly rooted in my observation of nature and the seasons and without exception the joyous explosion of red blooms on the usually evergreen Pohutukawa trees around Christmas time that never cease to capture my imagination. This native tree of New Zealand is usually found around the coastal areas of the islands. Here in Eastbourne ( by the sea ) they flourish in abundance and seem to take on the role of natures Christmas tree lit with dozens of red fairy lights. During the day under a soaringly high blue sky one can stand under the tree and marvel at the magic it exudes. The Bees cluster and crackle like electricity in search of nectar. Cicadas thrum and click their castanets and the native birds join in with the celebrations with rousing renditions of their favourite songs. Of course the Lothario of native birds Mr Tui is right there. Prancing and carousing with his usual sweet gurgling and I just can't help but believe that Mr Tui is involved in some magic that might just bring Miss Pohutukawa alive even if it is for just one night.......So.......Here I go....

This year the young Miss Pohutukawa was proud of her red blooms. They glistened in the summer sun and shone like the finest Rubies. After many years of nurturing and unfurling of new branches she had grown in stature and took her place along the avenue of other family members.' I stand so tall and sturdy now I feel like dancing' she thought and with that she shook with delight in the gentle breeze. Every day the bees came and tickled her has they sipped on her nectar and the cicadas kept up with their cascade of strumming on her bark and leaves. The wind blew soft and gentle whispers, cooling her down. What she loved the most was the sudden appearance of Mr Tui. Swooping in from above he sent shivers down her trunk as he perched and danced a long her branch. "Hey Miss Pohutukawa" he sang "I love you most of all, I will be true to you, just come and dance with me..I will take you up amongst the stars" Mr Tui crooned with delight and fluffed out his dark emerald wings as if to point up towards the sky....' We just need the wind to ignite the magic and with the full moon high in the heavens we can waltz all night and you can wear your finest robe. It is your time to shine!' At this stage  Mr Tui was almost gurgling in a crescendo of excitement that his white tuft of feathers on his throat bobbed up and down. Miss Pohutukawa swayed..totally entranced with the promises of Mr Tui. How she longed to break her limbs away from the boundaries of her bark. The desire to wear her finest gown and waltz all night amongst the stars was almost too much to bear. " Yes!" she cried and swayed " I will be there for you when the wind ignites the magic and the full moon shines high in the heavens, I really will" and with that Mr Tui swooped from bough to bough shaking her leaves and blooms...."till then my love" and he dove into an almost perfect arc across the blue sky and disappeared into the day.

Not long after the New Year on a particularly sweltering day Miss Pohutukawa, stared out onto the aqua sea below,  she sighed long and hard and then shook her branches, a few blooms scattered onto the grassy patch on the beach below"Oh No!...Not my blooms! falling already" She cried to herself as she watched the red petals tumble and disperse onto the summer beach breeze. " I haven't been able to dance in my finest gown yet across the night sky and if Mr Tui doesn't hurry with the igniting of magic...I will have no blooms left to decorate my dress!!" and with that thought she felt a prickle of moisture seep from her bark and trickle down her trunk. For the next few days Mr Tui did not come to see her and that made her feel so very sad and lonely, so lonely more blooms fell like tears from her branches.

On the third day the dawn arose tinged with a violet light that turned to almost an indigo so dark and the sky filled with brooding clouds. Miss Pohutukawa felt the first drops of rain splash on her leaves and blooms it felt refreshing after so many weeks with no rain. Gradually the rain joined the cacophony of nature with its own constant tempo and Miss Pohutukawa simply let the rain bathe her with its glorious abundant life giving tonic. The day passed and the evening arrived with a breeze that at first caressed Miss Pohutukawa with the air perfumed wet and warm. Suddenly a gasp and a whipping wind encircled her making her leaves and blooms shiver with an excitement that she could not explain. And all at once like an entrance a magician would make on stage Mr Tui appeared right up close to her the heart of her trunk...." My Darling"... He crooned... "I am here and I am going to ignite the magic so that you can waltz with me across the night sky wearing your finest gown. Miss Pohutukawa felt so giddy with happiness she could feel the wind push and tug at her branches to the point she felt her bark crackle and a pulse of utter euphoric joy she thought she might explode. The wind was now thrashing and growling like an untamed tiger. The rain was now pelting hard and in the arc of the sky, suddenly an explosion of piercing light with a dazzling crack filled the whole of the heavens...." The magic is now ignited!!!" screamed Mr Tui over the wrath of the weather..." It is your time now to join me and dance and dance until we are dizzy"..With no hesitation Miss Pohutukawa felt her inner core slip and slide, her limbs fell free from her bark as she pushed through its rough skin. Her hair deep copper and glistening honey unfurled into thick tendrils and flowed out waving in the wind. Mr Tui fluttered and flew around her slim naked body...around and around he flew with plucked foliage and blooms adorning her skin with devotion to detail and it wasn't long before there Miss Pohutukawa stood swathed in the freshest of greens and reddest of blooms, the most startlingly divine dress. Next he gathered the remaining leaves and blooms and wove them into a tiara fit for a princess. "Almost there" he sang and he slipped his beak beneath his wings producing a pair of purple gloves to protect her fragile skin so newly exposed, a pair of tiny perfect red satin dancing shoes and a fan that held the twinkling stars and the southern cross.

"Come my love" he beckoned and spread his inky iridescent wings to the night sky that now spun around in the perfect carousel of planets and stars " We must Dance" and with that Mr Tui swung Miss Pohutukawa who was now breathless with excitement into his arms and they twirled and whirled and soared off into the night sky. The storm did not abate all night long. The more the wind raced and the rain howled the more intense their dancing became. Miss Pohutukawa was at one with the spirit of the universe.This was a perfect wild affair with Mr Tui. The tiger in the wind started to abate to a gentle purr and the carousal of planet and stars slowly came to a halt. The full moon did not gleam so brightly although pink stars seemed to flit and fly like butterflies on wing. " My Darling" whispered Mr Tui "Sadly it is time to end our wild dancing affair, it is not long before the breaking of dawn and all the magic shall cease to be"So Miss Pohutukawa held on tightly to Mr Tui as he swirled and twirled their way right back down to the grass beside the avenue of family Pohutukawa trees she knew so well. Feeling slightly dizzy Miss Pohutukawa steadied herself and rearranged her finest robe so all her blooms held their place, she tilted her tiara back into place and spun her fan in a pretty spread. Before her between the avenue of Pohutukawas was a fabulous crimson carpet of petals. The family of Pohutukawa trees swayed and bowed and she heard them all whisper encouragement "This crimson carpet is for you dear girl, we sprinkled and rolled it out in the night with the help of the rain and the wind. It is your chance to walk your red carpet. Shine and be proud. Walk your red carpet" So, escorted by Mr Tui she did. Holding her head high she placed one red slipper in front at a time and waving her starry night fan she regally sauntered down the through the avenue of Pohutukawa trees waving to her family in thanks and appreciation. In turn the family clapped their leaves, so proud they were, because from this very moment in time Miss Pohutukawa had flowered into a grown up tree and had walked her red carpet. Mr Tui bowed before her. "Dearest love our wild affair is now over and you must return into your inner tree before it is too late and you wither and perish into a pile of broken branches and leaves beside your family. The dawn is nigh!"He seemed most urgent and  she sensed the palest of pink light on the horizon starting to appear. With a flurry she picked up her gown of blooms and hurried towards her awaiting inner home. Spinning around she felt her blooms disperse and fall at her feet. She suddenly felt as light as the wind, ethereal and naked. She felt her skin as slippery sap and touching the bark skin of her home she felt herself melt like honey into her inner core. Miss Pohutukawa stretched with in her bark, trunk and branches filling up all the little places she had left last night. She felt good, very Good. She was a grown-up tree now. She knew all there was to be one with the universal spirit and she will hold in her heart a very special place for Mr Tui, after all if he had not ignited the magic and danced all night in a wild affair she would never been able to walk her red carpet! All at once she felt the hopping and prancing of Mr Tui on her branch. She gave a sigh of pleasure remembering all that had been. " Thank you Mr Tui for everything, I feel complete now, I feel all grown up and happy with my life" She tried to tickle him with her leaves, but he hopped just out of reach. "I must leave you now, dear" he whispered in a gentle gurgle "My deed is done and you are now a beautiful majestic tree to be revered by all. I will return next summer when you bloom again!" and with a passionate resonating gurgle he dipped into a low bow and back flipped off her branch and was gone.
 The following morning a human girl child and mother were strolling down to the beach through the avenue of Pohutukawa trees. The air was moist and the passing storm had scattered leaves and crimson petals of the Pohutukawa trees. " Look Mummy, It's like a carpet" chirped the child. "Yes" agreed her mother,"like a carpet". It was then they both spied a tiny pair of red slippers, tiny lilac gloves so diaphanous you could see through them and a very pretty fan that seem to twinkle  with stars. "Somebody must have left them by mistake" the human mother decided. " Oh can I have them" cried the little girl. "They would fit my Lou Lou doll"."No" the human mother replied "Who ever left them will be sure to come back and be so relieved they are still there". So with that decision they trailed off down through the avenue of Pohutukawa trees towards the beach.
Miss Pohutukawa stared down to where her little items of accessories lay abandoned in her hurry she had forgotten them. Still they were of no use to her now. That little girl should have taken them...nevermind she thought, some human will eventually take them and she shook her leaves with an air of self agreement then watched her blooms drift down below her trunk roots.
Staring out to sea Miss Pohutukawa felt a sense of peace, all was calm and the bees and cicadas had ceased to make their music. Most of her blooms had scattered away on the breeze, but she did not mind. She could feel the urge to rest awhile before the summer ended and so recalling her wild and wonderful night affair with Mr Tui she folded up within herself and drifted off into a deep sleep smiling with up turned branches arching in to the sky.    

                                                        The End

Oh my goodness! I am apologizing now for what was so supposed to be a very short couple of paragraphs that decided to grow and grow and it is almost complete rubbish writing! But what fun...I had no idea where it was going to go...I guess that is part of a creative persons journey...just letting a thought and idea blossom. I think I know though that, as the saying goes ...It is better to stick with your day job!!!!!!...Promise next blog posting won't be so ridiculously ridiculous!

Ridiculously yours Annie X

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Foxtrot, Queen wasps and Christmas!!!??!!!

I am listening to my favourite music app at the moment and that is Pandora. In New Zealand it is either Spotify or Pandora as the new way to find music via the internet. You can listen to it all day long and not have to think what shall I listen to next! Its an absolute bonus having it play in my open Studio/gallery/gift shoppe....I am constantly entertained by a stream of music that also showcases artists that I never knew existed and now I am crazy about, so it's a learning tool too, however more importantly I love to spontaneously get up and have a bit of a boogie on down in the shoppe or when I am painting!!!! I can't help but move the body in time to sway and I have mentioned in earlier postings I love music and dancing so it will crop up in my artworks...Hence my latest artwork..'Fancy a quick Foxtrot?'
So here are my darling Fox's in the dead of night under a full moon, totally and amorously absorbed in each other doing the romantic and feisty Fox trot. As much as I love dancing I categorically rate myself as a free form floater. I admire the people who can Ballroom dance with the ease of a seasoned professional and I am definitely jealous of those who can Ceroc, Mambo, Tango or Tap dance. If I attempt any structured moves I suddenly get two left feet and breakout in a sweat and quite frankly lose the 'passion' of moving...So I remain a observer of dance, because who knows when I might get the desire to paint the 'The Tigers Tango'....Watch this space.....

I love all Gods creatures apart from the insect world..I find Flies repulsive and Wasps darn right unnecessary in the realm of nature..and they scare the bejesus out of me, having been stung numerous times in the summer months. I am almost sure they just want to sting, just because they can! So here we are in well into Spring and I am concentrating on the artwork above and then suddenly Ruby my precious hairy muse who usually dozes in her doggy basket in a serene manner, suddenly let rip with a bark that set my paintbrush fly from my hand, such was the surprise she gave me. Turning around to see what had made her react I saw the biggest wasp in creation hovering centimeters above her nose!!!!!....From there it flew in a droning sort of manner towards me!!!!OMG on high alert I managed to deflect it by flapping my arms and escaped into my tiny kitchenette area and grabbed the fly spray...and blindly sprayed in the wasps direction..eventually the wasp must have realized I had a weapon more lethal than its sting and flew towards the window ledge and started to do that dying thing so for good measure I gave another good squirt of spray and the Queen was no more, lying inert. I scooped it into the dregs of my takeaway paper coffee effectively drowning it too and popped it into the waste paper bin outside. End of story, but NO....I was listening to the radio and there was a story/interview with a bloke called Bob from in the South Island doing a study on Queen wasps...he was from the Abel Tasman park organization..and he was asking for any listeners who catch a Queen wasp to send it down to this stage I was feeling a tad guilty for my over reactive behaviour and to make amends with karma I went out to the bin and retrieved my coffee cup and soaked wasp. I laid her out on a napkin to dry out and went back to painting. goodness...about a couple of hours later....just like one of those B grade horror movies Queenie Wasp seemed to gasp and then twitch and kept twitching and oh quelle horreur started to faintly 'drone'. Resisting the urge to reach for the fly spray I wildly thought about what I could contain it in just incase it really did come alive again and come FOR ME?!? So I picked up my trusty little pencil sharpener container and scooped it into that and firmly screwed the lid back on. Thank goodness it was the end of the day in the shoppe so happily left my captive to squirm and drone to its hearts content....I am thinking you are reading this and think I am pretty heartless...and me thinks I am just plain gutless! The following morning I opened up the shoppe feeling slightly intrepid and with a twinge of guilt I checked out my pencil sharpener and Queenie lay there inert...finally she had was to package her up for send her to Bob...I do have mixed feelings about the whole ordeal. I think on my shoppe door I should have a sign...Every creature welcome except big black flies and wasps and definitely no Queen wasps!

I did not mean to write so are more than welcome to speed read the rest or just look at the last picture! Christmas or Christmad! as I like to term it. This is the third year of being a shoppe/gallery/gift shoppe, but this is the first year of big organised Christmad gift buying which has to be done here in New Zealand mid July!!!!...Well having an upside down seasons..our July is cold so with a pinch of imagination buying Santa,Snow and Deer themed gifts isn't to hard. Being my first time I had a sales rep make a visit and she quickly bamboozled me with umpteen catalogue's of temptation!..I don't what possessed me but I think I had a moment of insanity and started ordering like I was head buyer of a major department store!...Not that I remember, but when mid October 8 big boxes arrived via courier, not santa...I nearly died...and I twice nearly died when I saw my invoices...Crazy artist over buys Christmad stock for tiny shoppe in quiet out of the way by the seaside village. Well I had to bite the bullet and put it all out in my now overcrowded Christmad themed shoppe...Luckily no-one has scowled in Scrooge like tones about...or if they are hopefully being the mad artist they think I am ..the just sigh and say...'ah well, that's Annie for you'....and to celebrate my entrance into an early Christmad celebration LETS ALL DO THE POLAR POLKA!!!!!!and hope like crazy I sell enough to pay the flipping Christmad bill!...BYE for now!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Monet, Mermaids and Polar bears

This artwork which is fresh off the easel is titled...What Monet really saw in his Lily pond....I am so delighted and relieved that I have finally gotten around to painting this image which has in all honesty been muddling around in my mind for years. Firstly I love the impressionist art movement even though it has been ridiculously overexposed and randomly and not at all connected I love Mermaids, Sirens and water nymphs. So here, very much tongue in cheek (Monet who is famous for his artistic captivation of his Lily ponds and his paintings of them onto huge canvas's) actually had another secret fascination and that was at twilight he would venture onto his bridge and call out to his beautiful nubile mermaids who would frolic and flirt with Monet. Monet did realize, though, that his captives were lovely to watch and feed, but extremely dangerous, like all sirens if he should accidentally fall in the sirens wouldn't hesitate in gobbling him up!
Over many years I have been building up in my imagination what Mermaids are like. Much of this realization has been through reading about these sea and water creatures since my childhood days and then again through story telling to my two boys when they were much younger. One of our favourite family expeditions was to go searching for treasure on our local beach. Amongst the shells and stripey pebbles we found shards of sea worn china.It was such a thrill to find these pretty pieces, usually they were blue willow patterns and I often wondered where or why it rolled up on the beach, some pieces seemed to be very old! So it was when one of my boys asked me where it had all come from...I just automatically replied that it was because deep in the sea after Neptune and his mermaids had eaten their dinner the naughty mermaids couldn't be bothered to do the dishes and just tossed them over their shoulders and of course they would break and eventually many moons later arrive onto the beach! For next few years my boys were convinced this was true..until obviously, like the belief in Father Christmas waned they weren't so convinced by my reliability of telling the absolute truth and just humoured me as I was the child that refused to grow up!
    Mermaids are very naughty, dangerous even, as they wouldn't hesitate to eat humans. They are extremely vain, however they have a soft spot for Polar bears...mainly because the Polar bears are completely besotted with the mermaids and they are often seen together, frolicking or generally lazing around. Polar bears are quite happy to be servants to the mermaids.

As you can see here at this seaside beach fete the Mermaids are having a jolly good time with their faithful companions the Polar bears lumbering after them. Having been to the Penguins fish stall and the Seals 'balls' stall the mermaids are now stuck at the mirror stall....such is their vanity they can never have enough mirrors!
I painted this artwork in 2002 and since then I have painted several other 'Mermaid' artworks, but sadly I never really got a good clean scan or photograph of some artworks may have to be reinterpreted and brought back into life in Annie's Art collection...Plus there are many other Mermaid tales to be told!

Back to reality my little shoppe is just about to get it's Christmas make over...With Spring definitely well sprung and the promise of summer wafting on the breeze it is odd that here in the southern hemisphere Christmas in all it's kitschy glory will be glinting in summer sun and not under the street lamps and winter chill like of the northern hemisphere. What do you feel is better..Christmas in the summer or the winter?...I wonder what the Mermaids would pick....?

Friday, 3 October 2014

You Can eat your cake and Keep it too!

Hello Hello Hello...I have been suffering from a little 'blogging' withdrawal syptoms! I have to say I have been rather busy in my little Shoppe and studio. In the Shoppe, Annie's Art +Treasures I have been Spring cleaning, putting and tooking and unbelievably gearing up for the delivery of Christmas goodies and stock. In the back where my tiny space services for a studio set up and storage I have been busy baking a cake, but not as you would ever believe! Obviously not really baking in literal terms, but baking in an artistic sense.

  My mother was a great baker of cakes and similar elk. All my childhood as far back as my memory stretches our cake tins would be overflowing with mouth watering treats! After school meant scrambling home as fast as possible, ravenous and piling a plate up with cake and glasses of milk. Over the years 'Afternoon teas' have always been an important feature of our families, centered at the parental home. My step father loved a cup of tea and cake around 3pm in the afternoon and if we happened to be around at the same time...lucky us! Every celebration like Birthdays and Christmas's we could rely on our darling mum to conjure up our favourite cake. Sadly five years ago my beloved stepfather died and my mum slowly lost interest in baking cakes, although for a few years she kept up with the Birthday requests..she is now living in a home and her baking days are over. She still has all her recipes in her bulging higgley..Piggley blue notebook..and when we go and visit her we fondly remember the memories that revolved around a slice of cake!

Now I am going to feel awful here, because I can almost hear you say why don't I carry on with the baking prowess. Well I did bake cakes and biscuits when my boys were small, but sadly I didn't have the urge to bake. It was more of a chore than a passion and when they the boys left home the tins remained empty...Once and a while my husband, James gets an urge to bake something but I guess we don't really have a sweet tooth urge as we used's a completely different kettle of cake if you asked me to paint one!!!!!..Now that gets me excited!!!!!

Just recently I was approached by a couple who knew that I had illustrated a Cake and Special dates book and they are just about to celebrate their Ruby (40yrs) wedding they commissioned me to Paint a special Cake for them that they could hang in their kitchen. They asked for a chocolate Black Forest Cake with chocolate, cream and Raspberries...they also wanted to be on top of the cake, however the rest of detail and outcome was left to me. so whipping out canvas and brushes with paint and palette I set to the task and watched it evolve. Being a 'forest' cake I knew it would have to be in the middle of a forest with a grand old tree acting as a pedestal. Naturally they needed to climb up onto it so a rich red ladder appeared and when I started painting the butter icing it reminded me of waves so I felt they should be in a boat with 4 sails/candles(signifying four decades) and naturally the boat is called  'Ruby' so here they are surveying their celebration from a cake they can keep forever!

As I mentioned back in 2008 I illustrated a book called Celebrate....'A calendar of cakes and special dates'. The author is Annabel Langbein a well known entrepreneurial chef in New Zealand who also has a swag of books and fronts a her own T.V cooking show. The book was fun to do, but only had a very small print run and isn't available anymore...but I can share some illustrations I did. Below is a
                                                 A GREEK CITRUS CAKE

                                        ANGEL RASPBERRY LAYER CAKE
                                       CANDLES FOR ARTEMIS
I hope Annabel won't mind but I am just going to quote a passage she has written about this illustration..........The birthdays of Greek deities were celebrated each month and therefore each god was honoured with twelve different fetes a year. The birthday of Artemis,goddess of the moon and the hunt, was celebrated on the sixth day of the month. Worshipers made a large round cake with flour and honey, representing the full moon. Candles were lit on the cake as a symbol of the moonlight, the goddess's earthward radiance.

I am feeling quite replete with all the story telling about cakes, but I now need a nice big refreshing cup of tea!....Till next the blog...Keep Smiling and if you'd like a recipe for the last three cakes I am very happy to oblige...X P.S The weather is mad today! Sunny, cold, warm, windy and raining nearly all at once!