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The title of work is so important

If you watch the Portrait Artist 2019, you'll know that every entrant has a different and unique way of painting portraits. It's my idea of hell to be stuck in front of a crowd painting a portrait in just 4 hours but I'm glad others don't mind, as I find it fascinating viewing! My portraits build in gentle layers so don't look much at the start.

As you'll know from the last couple of posts I've got to work again on quilts. Yesterday I began to put in some base colours for The Final Vision. I'm thinking of changing the name to Like Mother Like Daughter, simply because this is no longer the final vision I have of my mother.  I have a confession to make here; as I was sitting next to mum when she was really ill, I took some photos mainly to send to family members as they wanted regular updates. As things got worse I stopped sending, but kept them- I felt that they would have been too upsetting for others. The artist in me recognized they would have made amazing paintings, but I deleted them all after she died, as I felt it would be rather crass to use my mother in this way. I know other artists don't think the same as I've looked at many paintings and depictions of death, but it just seemed wrong to me.

I have also applied for a gallery at FoQ for 2021 and submitted the necessary form and images, but don't know if I'll get one. To be fair I don't have a lot of evidence of work over the last 2 years! They have asked me to give regular updates on finished work, so I guess that's kind of a yes, but also not a commitment! I'll give it a go and see where I end up. I wanted to have a goal to work to - only an exhibition is likely to work for me as I'm quite conscientious and the timing would keep me on track! 

50 Years in a Cupboard

If you follow on Instagram you'll know that in yesterdays heat I had to stop stitching - it was 35C and I couldn't be under a pile of wadding without melting. I was sat thinking some thoughts and had an idea.

I'm not sure if any of you out there in interweb-land watch a wonderful BBC programme called The Repair Shop, but it's based around a group of expert and extremely talented craftspeople who work in a largish barn and repair people's treasured possessions and family heirlooms. There has to be a personal reason for the repair - the idea is not to just do anything so you can go off and sell things at a profit - Great Uncle Bulgaria's long lost lemonade bottle for example, or Great Aunt Lilly's hot water bottle cover. The stories are usually a bit sentimental and, here's a confession for a hardened quilter, I'm quite often found blubbing into a hankie.

So I thought I'd have a go at Ted who's been sitting in a bin bag in a cupboard for a number of years. Who can throw their childhood teddy away?  I thought that as he was in a state, I'd do my own Repair Shop jobby on him.

I began by snipping some stitching that I'd put in as a child, and hollowing him out - a stuffinectomy, followed by a warm bath.

Medical waste

Post Operative Stuffinectomy

He's currently in Intensive Care Bear getting over his trauma. We haven't discussed the next stage, the stuffing, but he's been pinned by the ears to prevent any escape attempts.

Continuing on The Fragility of Self Worth

There's a lot to do on this quilt yet. When I started it, I knew exactly where I was going with it, and unfortunately revisiting it quite a while later I find my thoughts have changed a bit. I do want to finish it and will do my best to let it grow and reflect some changes.

Being me, I have decided to be re-energised by quilting just as the weather here in the UK has decided to warm up. Today we're forecast 35-38C which is probably not the best of times to be sitting under a thick and very large quilt!! Such is my life.😅

If you're easily upset you might not want to read this bit, but in my research I have found lots of things that people do to themselves - some I will keep to myself, but tongue splitting is more common than you'd think and more so in the States than here. Not sure why of course, and you can see by the word "Tribes" underneath, that a feeling of being different or standing apart, yet still within a group, might form part of the reasoning.

I do also remember reading something recently that the person doing this procedure had been found guilty of abuse - something I'll look into.

Red Velvet Cake

I thought Red Velvet Cake was just a victoria sandwich with waaaay too much red colouring in it, so I have avoided it.

However, we have an American guest who I know loves it, and I thought I'd make one as a welcoming gesture, and actually took the trouble to find out more. One thing it isn't, is a standard victoria sandwich cake!

I've adapted a recipe found on the internet (there's loads out there) because I had to use substitutions for some of the ingredients. I am a complete convert to the RVC and have printed my version below. It is very light, very moist, not too rich, soft, and keeps well. Recipe is under photographs.

You will need 3x 8" cake tins, lined and greased. Preheat the oven to 160C for a fan oven, 180C if not. I think that's gas 4.


300 grms of muscovado sugar (you can use other sugars but this soft brown sugar gives a bit of fudginess) 
2 large eggs
240 ml of vegetable oil. You can use sunflower oil but nothing else - definitely not olive oil or nut oils!
Red food colouring. (You have to be a bit brave - use a gel colouring if possible but if not go with what you have. I used half a small bottle and it's not exactly red is it!)
250g plain flour
1 1/4 tsps of bicarbonate of soda
40 grms of good cocoa powder
1/2 tblsp vanilla extract
100 ml of coffee
240ml buttermilk
1/2 tblsp white wine vinegar


Sieve the flour, bicarb and cocoa into a large bowl.

In another bowl add the oil, eggs, and colouring and whisk for a couple of minutes until slightly lighter in colour and thicker.

Sieve in half the flour mix and lightly whisk. Add coffee, vinegar and buttermilk and beat together. Fold in the remaining flour. Pour the mix into the 3 tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes until done. The cakes will spring back to a light touch when done.


175 gms butter at room temperature
400 grms icing sugar
2 x 180 grms of full fat cream cheese (don't use low fat as it's too liquid when mixed)

I'd say this was an essential part of the cake! Whisk the softened butter and add the icing sugar until well mixed and fluffy. Whisk in the cream cheese. I used Philadelphia and all was well, but if your brand makes the icing a bit too runny just pop it back into the fridge to set.

Sandwich together and use any remaining as decoration. I had enough to coat the sides quite thickly.

Feeling Lonely?!

I've decided that if I'm ever feeling a bit lonely or at a loss about what to do next, I shall do what I did unwittingly yesterday and put on my black trousers and wear a black tee shirt; then I'll put my glasses on a string around my neck and go into Marks and Spencer for a bit of shopping.Whether you choose to browse whilst there, idly thumbing through the bras or shoes, or just stand quietly looking around the shop floor, people will come up to you and ask you really interesting things, like, "Where's the men's socks please?", or "Do you have this shirt in a size 12 in white?" or even rather horrifically, could you fit me for a bra please?".  I leave it up to you how involved in the conversations you wish to be. Isn't life a blast?

(Apparently M&S uniform is black trousers, black tee shirt and a thing around the neck).

Chocolate Orange Cake