Monday, June 29, 2015

Wellydog at Newlyn

We have some lovely friends coming to visit us for a few day, later on this morning, and in planning what to do while they are here, I am reminded of what wonderful place we live and what a privilege it is to be living the dream in Cornwall.

On our door step is the wonderful village we live in, Newlyn.  Many visitors drive through and never stop and see what an amazing place it is.  I am always totally stunned that its missed by so many, but also quite pleased as it means it doesn't get as crowded as some towns and villages around here.

We decided to live here on a whim..... well almost.  We have always loved Cornwall,  I spend many happy holidays in a caravan as a child here.  mostly in the Wadebridge area,  my parent used to belong to the caravan club and each year we would go on a Caravan rally at the Royal Cornwall show grounds. We would always visit Padstow and go out on the speed boats from the end of the pier.  I remember the local  beaches with fondness particularly one where we would all picnic at the top of the cliff and then walk down to the beach and body board with our Dad, while our Mum stayed at the top.  It was always packed with hundreds of people.  Unfortunately my memory is not good and I have no idea where that beach was, or what it was called, which is a shame as I would love to re-visit.



When we had children of our own  we sold our record  collection ( I should say Mr WD's) and many other items to afford a basic little Alpine sprite caravan.   We toured it everywhere and our favourite destination was, you guessed it.....Cornwall.

But as the children got older, they no longer fitted in the caravan bunks and didn't really want to come any more so we sold it and started holidaying abroad.  We were lucky to have some amazing holidays with and without the children. We traveled to the Greek Islands, Paris, Brittany, Germany, New York, Florida, Iceland, Mexico and the oh so beautiful Maldives.  But then a little chap came into our lives.  our mad Collie Fin.  We decided after only just adopting him it was unfair to leave him and  swan off again to somewhere warm, also my Dad was not well at the time, so we decided to stay in a cottage at the Lizard, in fact we stayed in the wonderful Lighthouse cottages at Lizard point.

It was amazing, as we drove down the M5 past Exeter, things started to feel very familiar, even after all those years away and as we saw the sea it felt like coming home. We had such an amazing time and felt truly relaxed for the first time in years.  It was very rainy and misty in the October we visited and the fog horn went off for almost 5 continuous days,  but that all seemed to add to the charm and lulled us to sleep.  It also meant we explored quite a lot.  So off we went for a day trip to Moushole.  I can't actually remember if we made it to Mousehole in the end as we stopped off at Newlyn as it had a dog friendly beach and Fin needed a break.  We strolled along the pebbly beach, and looked over at St Michaels mount, held hands and looked at each other and just knew we had come home..... and now of course it is our home.

As we walk out of our house at the top of Newlyn's Chywoone hill ( Pronounced Choon),  you can see the harbour below.  We walk though the back streets past the fabulous little granite and white cottages on cobbled streets to the harbour. These are the same cottages the now famous Newlyn Artists painted from around 1885. If you get a chance visit the wonderful Penlee House museum in Penzance to see some of this amazing work.













Newlyn Harbour is always busy there are fishing boats coming and going all the time as the tide allows.


 Each time a boat leaves the harbour you hear its horn go off and you can watch it sail out past the harbour wall. We then stroll along the harbour side towards the village, quite often there are piles of ice on the harbour side,  I assume these have been used for keeping the fish cold.


We can also see the famous and essential Penlee lifeboat , sitting in the floating harbour.  The original Penlee lifeboat was stationed up toward Moushole but was closed sometime after the Penlee lifeboat disaster, when 8 volunteer lifeboat men lost their lives, coming to the aid of the Solomon Browne.

It is nice to walk round the harbour when we don't have Fin with us, to see the fishing boats more closely. There is the fabulous old original quay to explore, with great views out of the harbour entrance with its lighthouse to guide the fishermen home, across Mount's Bay. The harbour is also the home to the UK tidal observatory, where all tidal heights around the coastline are measured from.

As we walk past the chandlers and fish shops down to the current Fish market, you pass the huge fish market warehouses , which smell of fish and disinfectant.  I am not a fish or seafood eater so I don't really like it . We did go into the market for last years blessing of the fleet , which was very emotional and the world famous Newlyn Fish festival,  which was incredible even for me, who is not a fish lover.


As you round the corner you can see the wonderfully imposing Seaman's Mission building at the end of the harbour.  Unfortunately this has just been sold,  but we have been lucky enough to go in and see the memorial room, part of the mission  I believe is going to still stay after the new owners have renovated it, which is fabulous as The Mission is an essential part of life for Fisherman all over Cornwall,  they help the fishermen in so many ways .  Check them out at their website here http://www.fishermensmission.org.uk

We are then in the lovely village Centre,  there is a butcher,  very nice sausages, a pasty shop, absolutely essential, bakers, post office, newsagents, chemist, Drs surgery, Co-op, veg shop, florist, cheese shop, Italian Restaurant, Meadery ( lovely chicken and Mead fizz) the fabulous Jelberts, homemade cornish clotted cream, ice-cream, made fresh every day.  (There are always queues on a warm summers evening).  There also two new additions, Makerel sky, a little sea food restaurant,  remember I don't eat seafood,  so I can't comment,  but we are told it is wonderful. Also a  little gallery and pottery has literally only just opened so I haven't been in yet.  There are of course a few little pubs to. I nearly forgot also a Chinese take away ,  very very large portions and the amazing Lewis's chip shop.  I am sure I have forgotten other things  but the point is.......you don't need to go anywhere else, its all there on our door step.

Newlyn bridge is past the second hand shop,  and the river coming from the hills and runs into the sea, past the newly build seawall. After the enormous floods of 2013, much of Newlyn's seafront had to be rebuilt.  We arrived just after Newlyn and been breached by the sea and this stone mountain is now there to try and help calm the waves before they hit the village again.
Walking toward the sea front we  pass the Funeral directors , I told you everything was catered for and down toward the beach .  There is the Tolcarne pub and restaurant in the car park just at the back and this leads onto the village green which runs alongside of the beach.  There is a very touching memorial to those lost as sea, just at the end of the car park just as you pass to get onto he beach.  Usually you can see flowers around the memorial,  which always touches my heart.

As you walk onto the beach, you can immediately see the fabulous mounts bay and  St Michaels Mount. On a lovely clear day you can see the Lizard in the distance.   If you follow the beach you will pass though the tiny Wherrytown and then onto Penzance,  but thats for another day.

Newlyn is such an amazing village and the people are amazing to. They have welcomed us with open arms and have been helpful and supportive of our move to their wonderful piece of bliss.




Saturday, June 20, 2015

Life in Cornwall

Yay we finally sold out house in Weston-super-Mare!!!!!  Phew


For those who are not in the know.....the story so far

18 months ago my Dad died,  and left me some money,  we decided to fulfil a life long dream and buy a little fisherman's cottage in Newlyn Cornwall.  We got a small interest free mortgage and in July 2014 we moved into out little dream holiday cottage.   While grieving for my Dad then it was a little bit of bliss on the West Cornish coast and a dream come true.


Unfortunately Mr Wellydogs job was a not as pleasant.  He was stressed beyond belief and he understandably wanted to leave.  Things came to a head and luckily he managed to get out with his head held high.  Obviously for a man who has worked tirelessly for 40 years it was an unbelievable shock,  but as it turned out the absolutely best thing that could have happened to him.

So the decision was made to sell up in Weston super Mare, down size from a  4 bedroom detached house with very large gardens, driveway, garage , greenhouses and shed into  a 2 bedroom little fisherman's cottage with a small yard and street parking for our 2 cars, and be mortgage free.


But with all thing house moving, nothing goes to plan, at least not for us it seems.  We sold the house in December but a catalogue of disasters with estate agents and solicitors (grrrr)  meant the chain kept falling down and the only people still in place was us and our buyers,  so finally 6 months later it has  sold.  As you can imagine it has been a tad stressful and we are very relieved to now only be paying for one house.

We actually moved into our cottage fully on the 1st of Febuary as we had a deadline.  Because we also  moved into a new studio at Heartlands in Pool ,  about 18 miles away from our house.
It was brilliant it gave us ( especially Mr WD) something to focus on,  we set up the studio in a mining visitor centre  to sell leather goods, art and jewellery all made by us.

That was 5 months ago,  so time I think, for an update.


The house is wonderful,  who knew having a tiny house would be such  pleasure.  It doesn't need much cleaning, only 1 toilet not 3 to clean every week.  We have no tumble dryer so we have had to learn to use a washing line and airer again , which of course saves electricity and must be much better for us....and no Dishwasher, which I have to say I miss terribly.  I am a rubbish washer upper and nothing ever seems as clean as it used to be.

The yard has been half filled with a 6ft x4ft shed, we needed this for all those odds and end that we couldn't find a home for.  Its amazing how much you can re-organise, to be able to fit everything in.  The kitchen was tiny but we have a long narrow breakfast area , perfect for the addition of a dresser.  Cupboards in the front room that fit perfectly into the small alcoves either side of the fireplace, provide a perfect place for CD and DVD's.

We have wonderful beaches within walking distance and although due to some ill health I haven't managed to walk to them as often as I would like, then Mr WD and Fin our mad dog, have enjoyed many a walk of an evening to our local beach, just down the hill. As for me a short drive and we are in most magically places possible.


I love the sound of the horns going off when the fishing boats leave the harbour and I even enjoy listening to the seagulls, that are ever present around the house.  They are nesting at the moment and the roof opposite is fascinating to watch as Mr seagull keeps bring Mrs seagull food and more nesting material, as she sits on the eggs.  We have been warned the noise gets very intense once the chicks have hatched  and not all of them survive but I still am looking forward to watching it.

The neighbours are great we have some good characters and generally they are the salt of the earth and have made us feel very welcome and have been very helpful.

So work,  how is that going?

Not so good I'm afraid.  Numbers at the studio are painfully low.  The promised hundreds of visitors have failed to materialise and although we are told of large numbers in the summer, we are becoming  very skeptical this will actually happen.   We are certainly not in dire straights. We have a very high ratio of sales per visitor, so when we do get visitors then we do very well.  Just think what we could do if we had higher visitor numbers.   We are also not sitting on our laurels and waiting for it all to come to us, we are actively seeking out sales.  I do St Ives market most weeks , which has proved to be more profitable than the studio. We have booked in for a number of events including the very high profile, Newlyn fish festival.  I have done a website building course, and am actively developing a new website which should be up and running at the end of the summer. and we are promoting and getting visitors especially coming to Heartlands to see us.  I have started teaching again and our winter courses timetable is about to be released.

But I am getting a bit lonely and fed up of being tied to a studio that is proving to be nothing more that an expensive workshop.  Its not really what we came to Cornwall to do.  There are days when I am very happy to sit and paint and make in the studio but there are equally as many times that I would rather be on the beach or out and about painting.  Especially now the summer is here.  Yesterday I got particularly down as I just sat almost on my own all day with little enthusiasm for making or painting and the sun was shining and I wanted to be anywhere else but in a deserted studio with no company.  I just sat and twiddled my thumbs all day. We had 3 people in all day,  luckily one of them was on a spending spree but if it hadn't been for her, then I would have felt like it had been a complete waste of my time.


I make it sound really bad but what I am really trying to say is, we are rethinking our options.  We don't regret going there as it gave us a focus,  but we are starting to wish we had just rented a cheap garage or workshop.  We would have been making more money and we wouldn't be tied into a contract that states how many hours and days we have to do. We are luckier than most as there are two of us, so we can at least take some time off on our own.

I guess now we have to think about what our options are.  Do we continue with the studio, do we both get a part time job for a couple of days a week and have more time to enjoy our new surroundings.  Do we rent a small work shop and make a couple of days a week and do markets and fairs thoughout the year??

What would you do??


Janice x

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sculpture Canvas

How lucky was I?  I managed to get some samples of one of the SAA’s newest products,  Sculpture block and sculpture canvas .  Being someone who is deeply rooted in 2D work, then the chance to try something new, to bring further depth into my work ,was intriguing, but also slightly scary.  But really I should not have been nervous about it.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with this new medium and it pushed me to look at how my work could benefit from a more 3D approach.

My first little experiment went rather better than I had expected. I am known for my wave paintings and so I wanted to see if this subject would translate to this new medium.
The principle of the material seems to be to carve into it with tools, for example lino cutter,  but also use knives and sandpaper to refine the design. Then to paint it.  You could go full 3d to produce a sculpture piece, but I chose not to. I wanted to explore working in relief,  this was something I had touched on many years ago, whilst on my Art Foundation course.

On opening the pack I was surprised to find how light the block was.  It felt a little strange , slightly like polystyrene but denser.  If I am honest I didn’t feel it would be easy to use or be hard wearing.  I almost expected it to crumble as I cut it, only time would tell.
The first step was to choose a design and I decided to go with the flow and just draw a wave straight onto the canvas.  This I did with a fine felt pen, it was easy to draw on and I discovered that you could lightly sand away, with some fine grade sandpaper, any unwanted lines.


I then had to think which areas I wanted to be the deepest and which the shallowest to get the most out of the material.  I chose at this stage to just go with 2 depths, so I cut away with the lino-cutting tools,  above the crest of the wave.  I did get a bit messy and soon realised, it may have been better to be more organized than I was,  but it was a great feeling just cutting away and seeing what happened.   I think if you want to have  as hap hazard approach then either,  mark or shade in the areas to cut away, or concentrate on one area at a time and work slowly.  I found the medium cut away nicely.  I did create quite a bit of dust, that collected both on my hands and on the work itself, this was easily sorted with hand washing and a trusty old toothbrush to get the dust out of the cuts on the canvas . 
I also felt it was important to step back once in a while to review how it was going, like you would with any work, but I think especially when workingh in a more 3 D way.  You can check on progress before it become to difficult to put any mistake right. As sculpting was easier than I had expected, I did wish I had take the plunge and created more layers,  but I think  in it was probably a good move to keep it simple for a first attempt.



I sanded each area with a rough grain sandpaper as I went along, but I finished at the end with a overall tidying up off all the cuts with a finer grade of sandpaper.

When finished I sealed the block with a mixture of acrylic paint and an acrylic binder,  I then very roughly blocked out the canvas in the chosen colours . I continued with more blending and detail on the next two layers, much like I would on my normal canvases. 


For my larger version I wanted to be braver and add more depths.  I estimated I could cut away half the depth and not compromise the strength of the canvas.  This seemed to work nicely.  I worked from a sketch I already had, of a harbour scene looking out in the distance at a lighthouse, with  orange buoys very prominent in the foreground. It has a strong perspective quality, so I felt it would work well in relief.  It did become quite confusing at times as this scene was far more complicated, so I had to be more organised.  I cut the deepest area first and worked my way up through 4 layers of various depths.  This time I decided to try priming it with PVA glue to see what would happen .  I found the first time I got a lot of areas that took ages to cover.  The PVA seemed to work very well,  but needed overnight to dry and  I cant vouch for it longevity. 

When painting I made sure I kept aerial perspective in mind and chose lighter colors and used less detail in the distance. I added darker stronger pigments in the foreground, which added another optical layer of depth.

I think overall the medium is brilliant.  I do think you have to compromise slightly on detail and try not to fit to much into one area as it was not easy to cut around very small areas.  My main tip would be to make everything slightly bigger than you need and then when you sand to finish off to a smooth surface, you don’t loose too much definition.  Being a terribly impatient person I also used a hairdryer in between paint layers to speed up the process and the block did not suffer
I was surprised at the strength of the block , especially when I dropped it down the back of a radiator it was leaning on to dry.  I had to prod and poke to several times with a ruler  to get it out and it faired very well. It was not at all crumbly like I had imagined.

I have yet to decide how to best present the finished pieces.  With the wave, it was easy to paint the edges of the block, so this could be framed and mounted on board.  With the harbour painting I couldn’t decide how to paint the edges, this would be something to consider for my future pieces in this new medium.

I would definitely use again and would highly recommend to any artist , especially those taking their first tentative steps into sculpture , or those wanting to get extra depth into their paintings.

Great fun and definitely a great experience


Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy to be settled and working again



So here we are at last in Cornwall, well nearly.  Our house sale fell through so we had to put it on the market again, luckily its all go again,  but it has delayed us settling as we are still travelling to and from Weston-super-Mare quite a lot.  To say we are tired is an understatement, but hopefully all the travelling will stop soon and we can get into a much better routine.  We are managing to be in the studio 4 days a week which is good.  

The best thing is that the studio is looking quite nice.  Some great friends from Wight and Wight  came and helped us build the studio. We are so pleased.  Most of the materials were re-cycled and the wood panelling on the front was an amazing find.  


The counter is made up of 3 sections the two side ones are attached to the walls.  The centre section is free standing so can be moved out when we want to add some more tables for teaching sessions. and the the two gates either side will open out . the middle section is also designed very cleverly to be able to change the display in it as often as I like .   



 These gates are of course to keep our Fin in .  He does want to greet everyone who comes in, I am not sure they are all pleased to see him,  but he loves it.


We have managed to get drilling some sea glass for jewellery and you will see the results soon on our folksy shop.



but we have been concentrating on getting some leather goods made,  We are trying to get ahead for the easter rush ( hopefully) 









and if you look closely you can see a sneak preview of my latest painting.  Its nice to have a brush in my hand again.  but more on that soon



Take care and catch up soon

janice x

Friday, January 30, 2015

Our New studio space

It has seemed like a long time coming but it is finally here, we move in on Monday.  Scary and exciting :-)






Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 and New ventures or should I say Adventures!!


Wowee!!   What a funny old time we have had since we last spoke. So here I am to give you a quick update.

2014 was not my favourite year, so I am hoping that now, we can get on with a year that will be kinder to us and our family.   Such a lot has happened but I shall give you the highlight,  Mr Wellydog is now unemployed.  

We had hoped to move to Cornwall in a year or two but had decided that as we had just got ourselves into a comfortable financial position for the first time in our married lives, that we would do some travelling and just live it up a little before getting serious and looking at retirement.  Well that didn't quite work out the way we had planned, but we are happy to be in such a fortunate position that we can move into the house in Cornwall.   Very sadly we have sold our current home and are in the process of packing up and moving... I know... I know,  no one feels sorry for us HAVING to moving to Cornwall, but we will just have to make the best of the situation !!!!

Mr WD has been in a very stressful job in the last few years so its actually a relief for him to be able to take some down time, relax and recharge his batteries, but not for too long............. because I have got him working for me!!!   well I suppose he would say we were equal partners, but we will fight that one out much later!!  hehe!

We are about to take up residence in a craft unit at Heartlands in Pool, Cornwall.  Its a visitor attraction about 18 miles away from our house.  It has a bit of everything, adventure playground, gardens, artwork, a Tin mine and visitor centre, weddings and community events, why not check out their website







This is the unit we are taking on 

No 3 Artist Muse


the view from the window, we are not moving in yet but it has been used for storage, so will hopefully be empty when we arrive on the 1st Febuary to pick up the keys ( or probably the Monday , the 2nd).




Mr WD coming from a business and finance background, will be getting my pricing sorted and help me get my artwork properly framed.  I will be experimenting with my Seaglass jewellery a bit more and we will both add some handmade  leather goods to our stock list.  Mr WD is currently working on some beautiful photography to also bring in and sell as prints and maybe the odd canvas or two.  

He is amazingly organised and is already bringing in a whole new feel to Wellydog.  We are hopeful for a bright future but we know it won't come without a lot of hard work,  so sleeves rolled up and business heads on ,  we are packing up, shifting out and well.... the sky's the limit!


Happy New Year everyone,

Janice x


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Moved to Cornwall :-)

Taking it easy for a while will update Dreckly :-)