Wednesday 30 September 2009


My client phoned from Belfast and asked whether I'd be able to draw Bobby, his in-laws' poodle who had just passed away at a ripe old age. He didn't have access to a scanner so sent the refs by post. There are only 4 available pictures and these are the clearest two! Had these been emailed to me I think I would have turned the commission down but for some reason I always find it harder to do so when the client has taken the time and expense to mail the refs (silly I know) :o)

Anyway, these are the refs and I'm working mainly from the second one. I was asked to draw Bobby in Coloured Pencil but have steered them towards pastel which I thought would be easier given the lack of detail in the ref photos - I am struggling though. The support is light grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat. I will email a scan to the clients tonight to see how they feel about it so far. It is very difficult to see Bobby's eyes and also to tell whether his fur has a lot of grey in it or whether this is due to the flash on the camera.

I forgot to take photos in the very early stages and at this point I had completed a lot of the left ear and blocked in some base colours on the face. I have used the photo of a black poodle I drew last year to 'borrow' the eye detail and hope the colour is correct.

A little more progress made here

This is it for today. The client wants Bobby's collar and name tag drawn in but I can't see the tag so, again, will have to rely on the client describing the tag for me. I sprayed the portrait with fixative before photographing the last stage so some of the highlights have disappeared but they can easily be restored tomorrow.

It has been a very overcast gloomy day here and I'm finding it difficult to draw in this poor light (even my daylight bulb/lamp isn't helping). Time to call it a day and get cracking in the kitchen. I found a wonderful recipe for home made spicy tomato soup and we've just finished the last lot I made. We now have another batch of very ripe tomotoes in the greenhouse so I'm going to make more soup and hope it will freeze OK. We have one pumpkin left in the garden and I'm debating whether to use it for roast pumpkin soup - or save it for Halloween (a friend is hosting a Halloween party on 31st) .... decisions, decisions!!

What is really spooky though, is that I had my hair cut yesterday - not just trimmed but cut to a really short bob length ..... every time I look in a mirror (which isn't often these days) I don't recognise the face looking back at me. Still not sure whether I like it though?!


I fully intended to make an early start on the poodle this morning (stage II) but got sidetracked by email messages ..... here it is, 11am and I've got no further than staring at my easel with the ref picture and my portrait to date - not that its a bad thing to take a step back and just compare from a distance (squinting helps I find)!!

I've dealt with all the emails now so NO EXCUSES ... I'll turn Outlook Express off for now so I won't be tempted to look at them as they arrive. So much junk these days.

One thing I've been very pleased to do though is to donate a Gift Voucher as a prize for one of the winners at a Charity Dog show being organised to raise funds for a very worthy cause. I was approached by one of the organisers to see whether I wanted to take a stand at the show but as its in Sussex it is just a little too far away for me. Check out the site to see what a great job this charity does.
The date of the dog show is actually 20th June 2010 (my birthday co-incidentally) but they have started organising it already and it will be pretty big by all accounts with radio and media coverage.

Tuesday 29 September 2009


We arrived back home very late on Saturday evening having had a lovely 3 week break. Sunday was spent ploughing through a mountain of mail and hundreds of emails and sorting myself out ready to start work on my commissions with recharged batteries!

I've closed my order book for 2009 as I have commissions for 8 children (in 3 portraits), 4 dogs, 2 horses and 1 pony to complete. I've recently sold 2 gift vouchers which may be redeemed any time during the next 12 months so I have to allow time in my schedule to cover these as well. Whilst on holiday I studied Alyona Nickelsen's book 'Coloured Pencil Painting Bible' and got really motivated to try some of the techniques she demonstrates .... but that will have to wait, along with all the cat pictures I have lined up to work on since joining the Society of Feline Artists recently. Too many ideas, too little time these days (or am I just badly organised)??

I've started work on a portrait of a black poodle, Bobby, who passed away recently. He has been commissioned by a client from Belfast for his in-laws (Bobby's owners). Unfortunately the reference photos are very poor so I will be liaising closely with the clients to ensure I get the best possible likeness under the circumstances. I forgot to photograph the first stage but will post some progress pictures tomorrow.

I've also spent quite a lot of time working on 'mock-ups' for one of the 3 child portraits. I have an ancient version of Photoshop elements but haven't really learned how to use it yet so tend to stick with Paint Net which I find quite user friendly. I've sent a selection of compositions to the client and I hope tomorrow I'll get her approval for the latest version. This portrait is required for a birthday present in November. The other two child portraits (1 x 2 children and 1 x 3 children) are Christmas presents so I have a little more time to work on those.

Wednesday 9 September 2009


A Visitor to the house recently admired my little menagerie of painted stones which I did for fun years ago and which now are scattered round the garden and porch. I'm so used to walking past them every day I don't notice them any more. Anyway, she has contacted me to ask whether I can paint three for her - two based on photos of her deceased cats and one of her daughter's hamster (or it may be a guinea pig - i've forgotten what she said). She wants to place the stones near the graves of her pets in the garden as a memorial. So that will make a nice break from commissioned portraits. Just have to find appropriately shaped stones to work on now. These are a few photos of stones I painted for fun - years ago. The photos don't really do them justice as the stones are varnished and the light reflects off of them.

Saturday 5 September 2009


Found out yesterday that my portrait of Gizmo has been made STARVING ARTISTS Editor's Choice for September by Mike Sibley.


Hubby and I are off to our little house on Fuerteventura (Canaries) today for a very welcome break. We haven't visited since May as I prefer not to be there through the very hottest part of the year (or in School Holiday time)!!. It will be great to catch up with all our friends there. Many have been suffering as a result of the credit crunch and reduced tourism and a lot of bars and restaurants have closed this year although the majority of the failed businesses have been the ones who only cater to the Brits (and we tend not to use them). We don't go abroad to watch soap operas on the big screen or eat 'gut buster' English breakfasts. We like to eat/drink at the places who have a multicultural clientele - and eat local food etc.

So I won't be blogging much for the next few weeks as I'll be reliant on using an internet cafe in town.

Just to get me in the mood I've been looking through a few photos ... wish you were here??

This is one of our favourite beach bars - its a 10 mins walk from our house. We normally end up here at the end of each evening for a nightcap and/or plate of local cheeses. It a beautiful peaceful spot - aptly named 'Serena'

Rush hour on one of the many beautiful sandy beaches!

I love the diverse landscape on this island. Primarily it is volcanic and not very fertile but this makes for some spectacular scenery. Then you have mile upon mile of golden sand blown in from the Sahara and forming fabulous sand dunes (real Lawrence of Arabia stuff)

and here I am with my friend Jenni - scaling one of those huge sand dunes. This was taken on New Years day a couple of years back (and no frost or snow to be seen anywhere)!!

Friday 4 September 2009


Had Mum staying with us for a few days this week so I've had to fit work in between entertaining her and showing her the local sights. We took her home yesterday and have spent today manically working through our list of pre-holiday jobs. Think we are just about on top of things now though.

The good news is that Jake and Jack's portraits have been approved and despatched to the clients today. and I had a text from 'engagement' man to say the proposal went well and his girlfried loved the picture. Another happy ending!

I've had 3 new orders placed last week so will close my order book for Christmas. When we get back from holiday I will go to Birmingham for the end of the exhibition to view all the coloured pencil works (including my own three) and then i'll be chained to the drawing board :o)

My pre-christmas tally stands at:
3 dogs
2 horses
8 children (not as bad as it sounds. two groups of 3 children and a double)
I've left a bit of leeway as I've sold 2 portrait gift vouchers (birthday presents) and its possible the recipients will be in touch re. portraits prior to Christmas.