Sunday, 26 August 2018

26/08: What dreadful weather today

It has been as wet and gloomy (and cold) as an October day ... yesterday wasn't a lot better so the light hasn't been good enough to do much artwork.

We're travelling to Fuerte at silly hour tomorrow - leaving home at 2.30am for a 5.40am flight so have just been pottering today - cleaning the house ready for daughter's arrival and filling up the birdseed feeders etc.

This is the little dog commission I started - its around halfway done but the muzzle area needs lots of work and her chest hair/fur has to be added.  Once the base colour is down I need to go back and add fine detail and give her eyes a lovely twinkle

Its pastel on pastelmat and a little smaller than I normally do - the image is around A4 size (roughly 8" x 12") so its a challenge keeping the pastel pencils sharp enough for fine detail


Wednesday, 22 August 2018

22/08: Practice Piece - Lion in Pastel on Fisher 400 sanded paper

Its a long time since I worked on Fisher 400 - I used to love it but am struggling this time.  I think its probably nothing to do with the paper, more that I've lost a bit of confidence as I'm not getting enough practice these days ...

So I'm treating this as a practice piece.   I will draw more animals from photos taken in Kenya earlier this year and hopefully will soon get back up to speed.

My camera insists on turning the paper white and the lion rather red.   I've tried David's camera and got slightly better results but still had to adjust the image a lot to get it close to 'proper' colours.     I do tend to wait will early evening to take the photos so its probably tied up with the poor light.

Anyway, enough ramblings. .... 

see what I mean about strange hues ... Fisher 400 is sandpaper - sort of yellowy but the camera tries to turn it white or grey.


I've adjusted this but it still not true to life


Another adjusted one - pretty poor really .... the lion isn't finished but I need to start something different tomorrow.    Although Fisher 400 doesn't really need fixative I've sprayed this lightly which will stop me fiddling with it till the fixative dries


I've agreed to portray a dog for a returning client.   I'm not really taking on commissions at the moment but this client provided such wonderful ref. photos for her horse portrait that I assumed the dog photos would be equally good ... they weren't!

Sadly the dog has recently passed away and all ref. photos were taken on a mobile phone and too small for me to work from.    However, the client has now found one photo that is a better size so I'm able to zoom in and get enough detail.     So I need to make a start before we set off on our travels again next week.   

I'll spend a couple of afternoons on it then I'll have to clean the pastel dust from my room (and any other place I trail it) before our house-sitter arrives.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

21/08: A few 'arty' bits

As well as spending days looking for and reworking old family photos, I have done a few arty things

I have a couple of older works on exhibition at a local vineyard.   The owners have decorated an old barn  on their land and painted the walls white in order to display pictures as an additional attraction to visitors.   They only open to the public on Saturdays but the display will be hung there for 6 weeks.    Its a first for them, and for the Canterbury Art Society who organised everything.   Worth a punt I think!

I've submitted 'Senor Molina' and Lulu which are both older works so I won't post them here (again).

Friday evening is the Private View so we'll pop over and take a look.   The vineyard is about 30 minutes drive from us.



I'm also going to have a couple of pictures on display at the Bank Holiday Mini Exhibition staged by the Canterbury Art Society at Blean Village Hall this coming holiday weekend.   Over the last few years I've been fortunate enough to have sales at this little show so am hoping for a repeat this year.     I'm submitting the portrait of the Indian Girl from Olivipe (India).

She was completed in coloured pencil on pastelmat - the picture looks a bit darker here than in real life.


and the 'black on black' labrador in coloured pencil that I was 'playing' with earlier this Summer.   In the end I decided to put more of a background in as the dog just didn't stand out as much as I'd hoped.

I had a big tidy up in my 'studio' in the week and got rid of lots of older works - in some cases I was able to salvage the frames and this is one of them which I think complements the dog nicely.




I've done a few minor tweaks on the portrait of Thierry (man from Sunset Loung beach bar in Corralejo) but have put him to one side for the moment as I've got a bit bored with him.    I know if I leave the portrait alone for a while I'll come back to it with fresh eyes and more enthusiasm.    This is how he has been left:


and for the last couple of afternoons I've been working on something totally different.   I've gone back to pastels on sandpaper (sore fingertip alert) and am tackling a lion that I photographed in Kenya in June.     Its quite refreshing to be working on wildlife again so this has rekindled my enthusiasm a little.

Photos in the next update!


21/08: Old Family Photos

I won't apologise for the long gap in posts (again) ... somehow life keeps getting in the way. 

A couple of years ago (or maybe longer) I 'cleaned up' some old family photographs and framed them to hang on the wall in my Mum's flat.

My brother recently asked me to print copies for him to hang in his house ... but I couldn't find them in my computer files anywhere.   I just can't believe I did all the work on them and didn't save them.   But over the course of 2 afternoons I checked every single photo file on my computer just in case the photos had inadvertently been dragged to the wrong file.  I even check back over FB and Blogger Posts in case I'd posted them there (which I thought I had actually)  Zilch

So I got the originals from Mum and re-worked them.    Here are the Before and After pics.

An old photo of my Mum - faded, torn in places and with my brother's handwriting!


and the cleaned up version - I used Photoshop Elements 12 ... but I'm a bit of a technophobe and just used the simplest tools - but it made a huge difference.


Mum (and little me) in the garden at my maternal Grand-parents' house


and with the background 'blurred' and cropped and the picture sharpened a bit

My maternal Grandparents - Bob and Daisy - original photo


enhanced photo with tears and marks removed, background blurred a bit  and a bit more definition in the foreground



I couldn't do very much with the (small) photos of my Great Grandparents.   The first photo is of my Grandad (Bob's) parents - my Gt Grandparents

Original photo with the shadow of the photographer spoiling it


I've brightened the photo a bit, slightly blurred the background, removed the shadows and cropped the picture to fit a standard photo frame







and then my other Gt Grandparents on the maternal side (Daisy's parents).  The photo is small and faded




I brightened it a bit, removed the 'washing line' and blurred the background a bit


So now I have these safely stored on computer and have printed out copies for my brother to frame and hang ... phew!

Sunday, 12 August 2018

12/08 ... Sunset Lounge Man

Since my last post ( a long time ago ) we've been to Kenya and also to our home on Fuerteventura with my brother as our guest following the death of his wife (my Sister in Law).    Life has been a bit 'full-on' so I've not had much time for art but now I need to get my backside into gear as exhibition deadlines are looming.

I have a couple of commissions to undertake in the next few weeks but always at the back of my mind is the need to get some coloured pencil works done.    I've been a member of the UK Coloured Pencil Society for around 13 years.   I've had work accepted into every International Exhibition for 12 years (one year I didn't have any work to submit) so I have earned Gold Status but would really like to get to Platinum status - work accepted into the Annual International Exhibition on 15 different occasions.   Just 3 more to go.

We celebrated my 60th birthday in Kenya this year (June) and I have thousands of photos in my reference files but I think most are suited to pastels rather than coloured pencils so I've fallen back on 'human' portraits for my cps.

This is a lovely guy we encountered in July in Corralejo, Fuerteventura.    We took my brother to a beach bar near our house to listen to a fabulous saxophonist who plays every Friday afternoon - she is stunningly beautiful and manages to play and dance (in heels) on the sandy beach.     As we were watching/listening to her performance this guy came up and started dancing with her.    He has a wonderful smiley face (and dances beautifully) so couldn't resist photographing him (with permission).

I gave up with this halfway through as I couldn't get it past the 'ugly stage' but now I've had a few days break from it I intend to go back and refine it. 

His name is Thierry.   He is portrayed in pure coloured pencil on white pastelmat.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

14/06: FRANKIE - Finished (for the moment)

I'm calling this finished for the time being as I need to put the pastels away and clean my workroom which is a REAL mess.

We're flying to Kenya on Sunday for a 3 camp Safari (staying 3 nights at each one).   So I need to get packing and cleaning the house before the 'house-sitter' arrives.   She is family but, even so, don't want her thinking I'm a real slob!

I know that when I next look at Frankie I'll want to change lots of things but I don't want to overwork it.   FB suppresses photo quality so I can't really see all the detail in Frankie's mouth for instance ... but as its going to be a surprise gift I really can't ask Sister-in-law for the original photo.  I guess it was taken on her phone anyway so probably not as clear as I'd like.