A tale of three techniques.

Work wise it's been a really interesting week. Normally, whatever painting or drawing I'm working on I carry on till it's completed. But as oil paints take varying times to dry I was able to leave the oil portrait I'm doing right now to start the first of three new pencil drawings. (I have a very restricted corner to work in when I use an easel which resulted in a little accident on Tuesday. As I moved my chair back the legs caught in the legs of the easel and brought the whole painting crashing down on my chest - paint side up! Luckily I was wearing an apron so didn't get too much paint on me, and as a lot of the painting was reasonably dry it didn't do too much damage. When I win the lottery I'll get a proper studio! Fat chance!) Then at the end of the week I got back to the large watercolour portrait I'm doing for my cousin Paul. So three entirely techniques in one week.

Talking of painting techniques, my young friend and I drove through Epping forest yesterday morning to visit an artist friend of mine. Trevor Wayman was our Art Director in Hong Kong when I lived in Asia. Since returning to England Trevor has been incredibly prolific in the art field - from art directing the definitive illustrated book about Queen Mary's dolls house in Windsor Castle to producing an amazing 'pop-up' book on Hong Kong. He also art directed the beautiful book on the Queen's carriages in the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. Here, for example. Is the Gold State Coach.

But yesterday we were treated to see Trev's personal collection of paintings, models, and most romantic, inventive and beautiful Valentine tributes to his wife Laura. We saw over a dozen coach and horse models he'd fashioned out of tinplate. This one Laura considers a bit too macabre as it is an intricate portent of the future ( very distant, we hope). It's his hearse.

And just look at the detail inside - the coffin is made with highly polished wood and even Trev's initials are worked in silver on the lid. Amazing! Everywhere we went there were examples of his artistry - from replicas of ships his ancestors have served in to beautiful and highly detailed old Irish shop fronts. But most intriguing - and romantic - of all, are the little boxes he makes for Laura on Valentine's day. He's now made over 30 of them.

Here are some of the most intriguing - on one side of this example is a heart, and when it spins around you see the other side is a globe of the world with the message "I think the world of you"

Here's another. When the little pump is squeezed the heart expands and contracts with the words "You are my heart-throb"

Lovely, aren't they? And Trev's even made a tiny little jigsaw with the entreaty "Without you my heart would be in pieces"

They say an elephant never forgets. So Trev made an elephant with big red heart- shaped ears, with the words "You're unforgettable"

I could go on and on but I'll just show you a couple more - starting with a heart-winged bee. Wish all the bees in the world spread love all around the world on their backs like this one.

How about a little box of matches - just for two? Here it is and what else could he say but "we're perfectly matched"

As for the man himself, here is Trevor together with Laura - the love of his life. Laura made us a delicious lunch. (Her home-made peach and sultana chutney is to die for!)

But just before we leave them I must show you another example of Trevor's art. It took him 14 years to make and is a fully comprehensive model of the house they live in. It's an heirloom for their children and, apart from the outside - brick by brick - everything contained within every room has been crafted and made to scale. Every pot, pan, book, chair, desk, lamp, plate etc. is an exact tiny replica - even the kitchen sink! And all the walls come apart to show the inside.

Apparently I've been a member of Phyllis Court- Henley's Country Club - for 30 years this week, so an invitation popped through my letterbox yesterday inviting me and a companion to a free dinner anywhere in the club with wine of our choice and a bottle of champagne. We'll take up the offer soon.