Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Hope you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year celebrations!   David and I are a bit 'Bah Humbuggish' and don't like all the hype surrounding modern day Christmas so we always try to do our own thing on Christmas Day - then we give in and do the 'traditional' thing with family on Boxing Day.

On Christmas Day this year we drove to Green Lanes, Harringay in London where it is 'business as usual' as the population there is largely non-Christian.  We had a Turkish meze type meal and drove/toured around the Capital for a while just looking at the sights - the roads are so much quieter on Christmas Day :o)   We stopped off at a friends house on the way home for champagne and nibbles ... it was a lovely day!

We've both got colds so the house is echoing with coughs and sneezes .... we're desperately trying to shake them off as we leave for Paris tomorrow - we're going to Disney with friends to see in the New Year.  I'm looking forward to the fireworks and just hope the weather will be kind to us - the forecasters predict rain (but what do they know)?  

I haven't been neglecting my drawing, but I'm struggling a bit with the latest works - I'm blaming the cold which is making concentration difficult!

I'd set aside this time to do some 'me artwork' with coloured pencils as they've been a bit neglected in the run up to Christmas when most of my commissions were finished in graphite or pastel.   Coloured pencils are much cleaner to use than pastels but much more time consuming  and I haven't made much progress. 

Here's one I've been working on - I photographed the tiger last year at a Big Cat sanctuary in Kent (I attended a one-day pastel/velour tutorial with Vic Bearcroft).   Drawing this on black paper may have been a mistake - the paper colour affected the pencil colours quite dramatically - yellows looked green, white looked grey etc., and I had to use some pretty garish colours to obtain the vibrancy I was aiming for.   It isn't quite finished and I'll leave it till after the holiday to decide whether to proceed or bin it .....

Thursday, 24 December 2009


Horrible thought I know, but Christmas really is looming.
At at today (4 September) I cannot accept any more orders for pre-christmas delivery. I have left a gap in my schedule to accommodate portraits for the recipients of 2 gift vouchers who might wish to redeem them before Christmas. Once I've heard from these clients I may be able to slot in another picture or two but I'm erring on the side of caution.

A Portrait Gift Voucher makes an unusual and welcome gift and allows the recipient to submit favourite photograph(s) at their leisure in the New Year. An added bonus is that I include the cost for p&p (normally £8)in my Gift Vouchers - for no additional cost to the purchaser

the portrait in the Xmas decoration above is Ben - a Keeshond (Dutch Barge Dog) I had the pleasure of drawing in January 2009)


Well it won't be long now ......... I'd just like to thank all my friends and followers for keeping me company on my blogging voyage of discovery - technology isn't my forte and its been a huge learning curve but great fun!

Merry Christmas everybody and I hope 2010 will be a happy, healthy and successful one for us all.

Oh and don't forget to track Santa's journey across the World tonight  - I did it last year and its great fun. He sets off at about 11pm tonight (GMT) Here's the link.  Be sure to click on the headers to find out how Norad track Santa via radar and satellite - it has something to do with the infrared signals given off by Rudolph's red nose !!  honest!!


Friday, 18 December 2009


Given the BBCs severe weather warnings for Kent, I was very disappointed when I looked out of the window at 6am this morning to find that I could still see the grass outside - looked as though it had been lightly dusted with icing sugar ... so any thoughts of wandering down to take photos of pretty snow beach scenes went by the board .... and I went back to bed!

We live close to the sea and that seems to protect us from snow.  My friend who lives just 20 mins drive away reports 8 to 12 inches of the white stuff at her home.     David (hubby) works for a charity and had to make a visit to an elderly client this morning so, anticipating poor weather conditions, he stocked the car with bottled water, a ginger cake and a packet of crisps.   His reasoning was that he could be stuck in snow for hours (but anybody who knows David will know that he likes his food and this was as good an excuse as any)!!

So ... no pretty snow scenes, and I haven't any more commissions I can show - so on to Plan B:

That lovely man Dave (Sevenoaksart.co.uk) animated a couple of my pictures for me
Clever or what?

I've sent 4 of my graphite 'celeb' portraits to Dave. He will find ways to animate them and display them on his site. Can't wait to see what he comes up with. This is one of the 'victims'

Thursday, 10 December 2009


I can't show my current Work in Progress for fear of spoiling a Christmas Present surprise ... but we're off to deliver a finished portrait today and then (fingers crossed) picking up Mum-in-Law from hospital and settling her back into her own home

Thanks to Sevenoaks art for their animations (see my link list for contact details) otherwise I'd be back to describing which soup I'm cooking today!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

08/12: HAVING A TIDY UP !!

Its just too dark to draw now (daylight lamps are a godsend but they do make me 'headachey' after a while) so I decided to tidy up my folders of historic photos - more than half of them have gone to the recycle bin ....

I got a little sidetracked as usual.  A common problem for me and my fellow pet/horse portrait artists is being asked to produce realistic portraits of  four legged friends who have passed away and where there are no good close up references to work from.   A fellow artist recently told me she's often felt like putting a huge notice on her site saying 'Please photograph your horse/dog/cat before its too late' .... not something we could really do methinks, but in this day and age with digital cameras readily available its much easier to do (in theory). 

I'm one of the worst culprits.  I've had my horse for nearly 20 years and in the 'early days' I took reels and reels of photographs on my non-digi camera - only to find there were no pictures I really liked.   Now that we are both much older and greyer I have a good camera but don't really want to take photos of her - preferring to remember her as a younger lady.   This is very much a personal thing, but I have been asked on many occasions to portray an animal using (poor ref) photos taken maybe 10 or 15 years ago rather than the more recent, better references, of the older animal.   In such cases I usually work from a selection of photos to find the happy medium.

This afternoon I've been working my way through several folders containing photos of my mare, Roxy.   I've deleted about half of them, which should free up some storage space.   Its amazing how very different she looks in all the photos dependent on age, time of year etc.,  her colour and shape vary enormously! Although these are some of my favourites, none of them would present a good reference for a head portrait - I really don't have many close-up head shots of my own horse!!  So please ..... don't do as I do, do as I say .... get out there and photograph your 'best friends' at all opportunities :o)

Roxy was in very poor condition when I bought her, she had obviously been broken to 'ride and drive', and still had driving shoes on when I saw her.  She had recently lost a foal (according to the vet) and had mastitis and was generally very unhappy.   She hated men (barely tolerates them even now) so I can only guess as what sort of treatment she had received in her early years.   When I bought her the vet believed her age to be either 5 or 3 years, so for the first year or so we didn't doing any strenuous training - mainly tried to win her confidence and it paid off - she has never been an 'easy' mare but she is super-intelligent and great fun.  I wouldn't have swapped her for any other horse.

This is Roxy when she came back into work after 7 months off following a fracture of the splint bone on her hind leg (instead of removing the splintered bone, vets allowed the bones to knit together and calcify to make a stronger repair).  She is a cob and looks particularly 'chunky' in this picture but I think her 'bossy/inquisitive' personality shows through.

This was us returning home from a local dressage show - she was really on her toes here and unwilling to stand still for the photos ... bless!

and this was taken on one of the charity long distance rides we participated in - this was taken 15 years ago but I can still remember how bitterly cold that April day was - which is why my friend Laura and I are padded out like Michelin men.


Christmas Day (around 15 years ago).   For various reasons my best friend Jenni and I always avoided the usual Christmas day hype and took ourselves off for a long 'pub ride' on Christmas day - appropriately decorated of course.

These are some of more recent shots in the last couple of years ... she doesn't pose for the camera - she definitely isn't a 'girly' mare - she wallows in mud and hates being groomed.   She is also dominant and has had three fractures during her working lifetime.  We know the first was through fighting (she was witnessed) but nobody knows how the other two occurred - she needs to be number one in the pecking order and keeps the others in check.  

'Shan't pose for the camera' !!

"Still not going to pose"  ..... and here you can admire the teeth that just cost me £250 following Roxy's equine dental treatment visit !

There ... that wasn't so bad was it???    
I just wanted some more recent shots of the two of us - but it was dinner time and Roxy just wanted to get into her stable.   She has gone really grey and now that she is retired I no longer clip her so she looks like a woolly bear from October till March!

Butter wouldn't melt !! 

Well its been a productive afternoon taking a trip down memory lane.    My recycle Bin needs emptying but I've just found one last thing to add:

Do you agree?????

08/12: BAH HUMBUG!!


I must confess to not feeling very Christmassy at all .... so I'll keep plugging away with the Xmas theme headers here to see if it helps. With Mum-in-Law still in hospital (but hopefully coming out fairly soon) we've changed our holiday entertainment plans and luckily found a restaurant close to her home who can fit seven of us in for a Boxing Day lunch. So we won't have to transport her too far, and I won't have to cook, clean and stress!! Bit of a cop out but now David and I will just do 'our own thing' on Christmas Day and have a low key family get together on Boxing Day.

I'm feeling quite virtuous, having written all the Christmas cards - just have to buy some stamps and drop them in the postbox now ... Phew! another marathon task out of the way


I am back at the drawing board but working on a 'human' double portrait which is to be a surprise Wedding Anniversary gift and can't be shown yet.

Next up is a child portrait (another surprise) and then I can return to the four legged subjects - two dogs and a horse for January completion.

Monday, 7 December 2009


This is a very quick blog today as I'm about to set off to my Mum's home where I've promised to paint her hallway walls, doors and ceilings to brighten it up a little - she had some plumbing work done recently and the workmen made a bit of a mess :o(     We will also be meeting with the carers who will be helping Mum-in-Law when she returns home from hospital and finally we'll be visiting Mum-in-Law this evening in hospital - so another busy day ahead!!

I've photographed the double horse portrait 'as is' and again with the mount and frame that I intend to use for this one. It won't be seen by my client till 17th December, so fingers crossed she will be happy with her present!

Here they are - Riley and Jess

Sunday, 6 December 2009


I've never received a Blog Award before so many thanks to Jan Pets to Posies for nominating me (and for the instruction about how to process it) - all part of the learning curve for us newbie bloggers ...

I'm supposed to give one-word answers to these questions, but I defy anybody to adhere to that rule. I had to think hard about some of the questions though:

1. Where is your cell phone?… desk
2. Your hair?… windswept
3. Your mother?… miles away :o)
4. Your father?… who cares?
5. Your favorite food?… curry
6. Your dream last night?… forgotten
7. Your favorite drink?… wine
8. Your dream/goal?… to die contented
9. What room are you in?… studio
10. Your hobby?… art
11. Your fear?… needles
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?… here
13. Where were you last night?… home
14. Something that you aren’t?… thin
15. Muffins?… Yuk
16. Wish list item?… new kitchen
17. Where did you grow up?… Kent
18. Last thing you did?… prepared dinner
19. What are you wearing?… casuals
20. Your TV?… not mine ... David's
21. Your Pets?… horse
22. Friends?… lovely
23. Your life?… very good
24. Your mood?… content
25. Missing Someone?… no
26. Vehicle?… necessary evil
27. Something you're not wearing?… shoes
28. Your favorite store?… Marks & Spencer
29. Your favorite colour?… anything bright
30. When was the last time you laughed?… 1 hour ago
31. Last time you cried?… don't remember
32. Your best friend?… husband
33. One place that I go to over and over?… Fuerteventura
34. Facebook?… yes
35. Favorite place to eat?… La Taberna

Now for the hard part - this award has to be passed to 5 other bloggers:
Here they are in no particular order:

Jo's Pet Portraits
Victoria's Art with a Pencil
Sally Lancaster Portraits
Nats Wildlife Art
Angela's 'Work in Progress'

06/12: UPDATE

It's been a very disjointed few days since we returned home from Sunny Fuerteventura. I'm pleased to say Mum-in-Law is making such good progress following the operation on her broken hip that we were told on Friday she can return to her home as soon as we can organise a suitable care plan. Easier said than done as David soon found out .... talk about getting pushed from pillar to post. However, there is now light at the end of the tunnel and provided the care company David has recruited, and the hospital authorities, are happy with each other, she may be allowed home on Wednesday.

The family portrait, two brothers and their Sister in graphite pencil, was approved and delivered on Friday but obviously can't be shown for fear of spoiling the Christmas surprise.

The portrait of Max (horse) has been approved but is still sitting here on my easel awaiting delivery instructions. Whilst it is a Christmas present it isn't a surprise as Max's owner was instrumental in selecting the reference picture etc.

I think the double horse portrait is now finished so I just have to give it a final 'clean up' removing any loose pastel dust and then it can be lightly sprayed with fixative. This is one that I will be mounting and framing but it isn't needed till 17 December so I won't know the client's reaction till then. I'll photograph it and post some pics tomorrow.

When the rain eventually stopped today we visited our local Christmas Fayre at Tankerton. Sadly only about half of the promised 100 stands were there as I guess many people changed their minds about taking a stand when they saw the torrential rain this morning.

Many Hoots (Owl Sanctuary) were there with a few of their rescue raptors. Sadly Lurch the Vulture wasn't there as it appears he is a 'fair weather' vulture! I was able to present them with the framed portrait of Lurch which was exhibited at the UK Coloured Pencil Society's recent show in Birmingham. The portrait will be hung in their classroom where it will be seen by all the visitors who are learning about the owls and other wild birds.

Shame Lurch couldn't make it today ... but this is one of his friends who braved the windy weather:

and this little chap who wasn't so keen on the wind and very sensibly tucked himself away in his flowerpot! Bless!!

Just as we were leaving the Fayre we saw the most amazing spectacle (which I hadn't seen advertised). Hundreds of motorbikes of all sizes and descriptions descended on Tankerton (from Whitstable direction). Many of the bikers were dressed as Santa and other Christmas characters. When we got home and 'Googled' the event, we found it is an annual Charitable Toy Run event to raise funds for disadvantaged children. Looked as though they were all having fun so I hope they raised lots of money. Tankerton is normally a fairly sleepy sort of resort so it added a bit of excitement to the afternoon!

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Fuerteventura was bright and sunny and it was lovely to catch up with our friends there.

During our trip we had solar heating tubes installed on the roof of our house which will heat the swimming pool during the 'Winter' months when the sun doesn't quite reach it. So we've been able to ditch the electric pool heater which was never efficient and cost mega-bucks to run!

Whilst the builders were doing their work we were confined to the house which was very frustrating. When the builders left - so did the sun ... but we can't really complain. Although the weather turned cloudy for a couple of days and we had some rain showers it was very mild and about 20degrees warmer than here in the UK.

Our holiday was cut short as Mum-in-Law fell over and broke her hip so we flew back yesterday. There isn't a great deal we can do (except visit in hospital of course). She is doing pretty well but at 91 years of age nobody can predict when she will be recovered enough to return to her home. If she had her way she would go home tomorrow of course - she's incredibly bored - poor thing.

Today has been a day for catching up on emails and general correspondence and food shopping etc., tomorrow I'll be back at the drawing board. I have received approval on the portrait of Max and I would like to finish the double horse portrait tomorrow. I'm a bit spoiled for choice after that ... The recipient of one of the Pet Portrait Vouchers has emailed pictures of her dogs and, although they aren't required for Christmas, I would like to make a start on them fairly soon. I hope all is going well for you ........ only 3 weeks to go (and then it will all be over for another year) BAH HUMBUG!!