Monday 26 April 2010


I haven't posted for a while as my stepson (Richard)  had a nasty motorbike accident on 18 April and was airlifted to Royal London Hospital where he remains in a coma.   The broken bones in his leg were pinned/plated last week and the wiring of his facial breaks is scheduled for tomorrow.   We are all waiting for him to wake up/open his eyes so the doctors can assess the brain damage/eyesight.    There are minor glimmers of hope each day and in response to the nurse shouting and prodding him, Richard has opened his eyes very briefly on a couple of occasions now

When not visiting the hospital we've been trying to carry on as normal (whatever that is) - David has been tiling one of our bathrooms and he has, today, set up a website to keep Richard's friends/family updated with news as we get it and also to try to raise funds for the Air Ambulance Service who transported Richard to hospital so rapidly.

the site is  hopefully he will be able to post some more positive news soon

To fill time I worked on the last of the cat pictures I hope to exhibit at the Society of Feline Artists exhibition in London (August).    These are the work-in-progress pics.   Unfortunately, to get us out of the house today we decided to take all 4 pictures to the framers to discuss mounts/frames.  I ended up leaving the pics with him, and have now realised none of them has been signed and I hadn't photographed the last stage of this one (with his whiskers).     I won't be collecting the pictures till June and will try to photograph them in their frames at that time.

The picture is A3 sized - pastel on Fisher 400 paper

He really does look soooo much better with whiskers - but you get the idea I hope :)

Now, despite my resolution not to undertake new commissions for the next few months (unless it is a voucher redemption or a work already scheduled in) I've agreed to do a pastel portrait for my farrier.  He has just lost his beloved dog to peritonitis and says it is worse than losing a ten year old son as  'Rocky' was always with him at home and at work.     I have previously drawn Rocky in cps as a gift for my farrier's daughter and luckily have still got some of the original ref photos.   At this time, I'm finding my art to be very therapeutic and the best way to pass the time whilst waiting for news from the hospital.

Friday 16 April 2010


I did a bit of tidying up on 'Wednesday's  Cat' and will probably call this finished now

and this afternoon I continued working on the picture of Page - unfortunately, the final photographs were taken as the light was fading and they turned out a little blue.  I have adjusted the colour slightly to more closely match the original but hopefully I'll get the chance to photograph it in better light during the weekend.

Having almost finished the cat, I wasn't sure what to do about the bottom left hand corner.  In the reference photo there is a blurry, soft focus, effect.  I think its probably the edge of a cat bed?   Anyway, despite hubby's advice to draw a brick wall (??!!) I took the simpler option and merely copied what I saw and that's the way it will stay :o)

I doubt I'll get the chance to do any more drawings for the next day or so as we had 40 bags of compost delivered today and that needs to be spread on the flower beds tomorrow, we also have a very untidy and extremely muddy  'hidden' corner of the garden which needs to be cleared as the garden landscapers will be working there next week laying a gravel/paving slab base so we can more easily use the area in the Winter months.   So a couple of days of hard labour coming up!!

Have a good weekend

Thursday 15 April 2010


I have photographs showing Page in two different poses and will draw them both and decide which one(s) can be included with the submission to SOFA.   I can only submit 4 pictures so decision time will be next week I guess.

This is A3 size, pastels on Fisher 400 paper.   It isn't going as smoothly as the previous two and I'm not sure why.   Because the Fisher 400 only comes in one colour (light sand) I decided to do a very simple white wash background.  But I don't have any white watercolour paint. I tried using shavings from a watercolour pencil but that wasn't successful.  I then watered down some gouache .... not brilliant but it did the trick.

The colours may alter from photo to photo as they were taken at different times of day, in different daylight conditions.

I always start with the eyes - if these don't work I know I'll never be happy with the picture.   Well, that could be the case here also .... I think I'm 'nearly there' and decided to crack on and just mark out the areas of darker fur

The ears are finished and I carried on just blocking in areas of colour working out where his marking are:

To borrow a phrase from a fellow artist - I'm 'flitting' around this one, adding detail in some places, then smudging it all in and losing definition.  So I decided to be sensible and call it a day.   Hopefully things will improve tomorrow

Wednesday 14 April 2010


I had a real tussle with the new printer this morning.  It threw a major tantrum because I loaded 'Epson compatible' inks rather than the real McCoy.  My old printer used to object slightly if I loaded non-Epson inks but after a polite 'do you realise I may not be able to give you high quality results if you proceed with this cheap stuff' it got on with the job ...

Not this printer ..... it stamped its feet and refused to print.   After 10 minutes it told me it was out of Cyan ink.  So I added a new cartridge.   When it did the same thing for the other three colours, which I knew  were full , we had a heated discussion for another half-hour before it eventually shrugged its shoulders and printed my picture!

This all came about because I decided to draft out another cat picture last night - not a good idea after a large glass of red wine.    When I looked at the outline this morning I realised it was way out .... so I wanted to print out the ref picture and grid it so I could more easily spot/rectify the problem area in my sketch. 

Anyway, apart from the computer hassle I've had an interruption-free drawing day.  The gardeners won't be back till next week and David (hubby) was out for the day.     I made good progress with this cat and, like the ragdoll, I will leave it for a few days and look at it with fresh eyes/do final adjustments next week.  I'm not happy with the fur on the 'white ruff' although it looks like that in the ref .... I'll need to have a think about that bit.

This is drawn in pastels on Fisher 400 (still my favourite support for pastels)

Tuesday 13 April 2010


Another day where I didn't get as much time for artwork as I'd hoped ... but the guys are working wonders in our garden and I'm looking forward to getting out there at the weekend and tidying up the beds and pots and sowing seeds etc.   These lovely guys turn up on time, are polite and friendly and ultra tidy .... so I found myself dashing off to the supermarket to buy biscuits and cakes to offer with their hourly cups of tea ... things I don't do for my own hubby :o)    What a sign of the times eh!!

Anyway, the ragdoll cat is just about finished.   It needs some tidying but I'll come back to it in a day or two and look at it with fresh eyes.

I have another three cats on my shortlist - then it will be on to some wildlife art for a very welcome change

Given the angle of the pose and to accommodate his whiskers, I will slightly offset the portrait in the mount/frame and it will look something like this:

Monday 12 April 2010


Things have been a bit chaotic here today.   We have a team of landscape gardeners renewing fences, digging foundations for retaining flower bed walls etc.  They started work last November but because of the horrible Winter weather haven't been able to complete the work till now - our soil is heavy clay and it has just been too boggy for the guys to work out there.

Anyway, I did make some progress with the cat but not as much as I'd hoped.  I'm enjoying this one and hope that will be reflected in the end result:

Sunday 11 April 2010


My lovely hubby bought me a new computer on Bank Holiday Monday and its taken the best part of five days to configure everything.   Why must upgrading be so difficult?   The latest programmes no longer support the old anti-virus or email packages and the printer won't talk to the new machine ..... what a nightmare!!

Anyway, I think everything is sorted at last and this machine is certainly much faster.  I'd had the old one for five years so I guess it was almost an antique in 'computer years'

Since returning from holiday I've been experimenting with different combinations of pencils/pastels and supports.  I have quite a collection of papers that I've tried and abandoned over the months/years and thought it was time to revisit them to see whether I like them any better now.

I've concentrated on drawing cats as I think I may still be in time to submit a picture or two to the SOFA Summer Exhibition if I can come up with something I'm happy with.  So its been almost 'a cat a day' for the last week!   I joined SOFA (Society of Feline Artists) last year but was too busy with commissions to draw any cats 'for me' and I hope to remedy that situation.   This year I will be accepting far fewer commissions (until the run up to Christmas) as we need to do a lot of work in the house and Garden this Summer.

This is an experiment using Prismacolour coloured pencils on Colourfix paper.   I really struggled with this and didn't like the combination at all - in fact I gave up before finishing the drawing and have just cropped the bottom of the picture out.  

This is drawn in pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat and I was much happier with the coverage - the only problem I have with Pastelmat is the limited colour range - this is 'Natural Sienna' which is a great colour in daylight but looks almost orange and a little 'garish' in artificial light.

I love this little chap ..... drawn in pastel on green Canson Mi-Teintes paper.   Canson do a fabulous range of colours but, having got used to the heavy duty sanded papers, I find this paper quite 'flimsy' at just 160gm2 and coverage is not as good (IMHO).  I will be 'test driving' some Murano paper later in the week and suspect I'll have similar views on that range.  But, I'm committed to re-trying the various brands I have gathering dust here ....... I'll probably be leaving the velour till last as I bought quite a lot a couple of years back when it was very 'fashionable' before I fell out of love with it. 

I know I've shown this next one before but I entered him into the UKCPS Spring Exhibition at Keswick.  Closing date for entries was yesterday but, because space at the Gallery is limited and the exhibition will probably be oversubscribed, it will be 'names out of the hat' to select pictures to be hung.  We won't know the results of the ballot for a while yet.   If I'm not one of the successful entrants in the UKCPS exhibition I will probably see whether it can be submitted for the SOFA exhibition.   Actually, this photo was taken before he was properly finished but as he is mounted and framed now it's not so easy to get a decent photo because of the glare from the glass.  He was drawn in coloured pencil on Fabriano Artistico HP paper and the title is 'Curiosity did what?'

and, finally in the cat series, this is one I started today and all I've done here is sketched the outline and fur direction very roughly in white pastel pencil.   As usual I've started with the eyes and I'm looking forward to progressing with this one tomorrow.   It will be drawn in soft pastel/pastel pencil on Sennelier La Carte on the 'dark blue grey' colour.   At 360g this is is real heavyweight paper so its no wonder I'm finding the Canson rather flimsy by comparison!  I will be posting some WIP pics for this one I think.

I have a couple of coloured pencil pictures on the go as well - really trying to get out of my 'comfort zone' and add scenery/backgrounds.   I'll post those on another occasion though.   

Sunday 4 April 2010


Any excuse for a party!!  The Spanish love their Fiestas and Carnivals and the major one on Fuerteventura takes place in March.  It lasts for 12 days with the quieter events taking place throughout the weekdays/nights and the major events at the weekends.  On the final Saturday it ends with a procession through the town of Corralejo and as well as the official floats and dance/drum troupes adhering to the theme (this year it was 'JUNGLE') all the locals and visitors tend to join in too - wearing whatever fancy dress they happen to 'find' in the wardrobe it seems!

Old or Young - its a fun time to be in Corralejo - but expect the unexpected at all times.   It seems to be the norm for men to dress as women - we got coated in talcum powder by a Group of  cross-dressed nurses when walking home from a Quiz in the early hours one morning :o)

After the procession, which takes about 3 hours to travel through town, the open-air party starts at midnight and goes on till about 6am.  Must admit we've never participated in that event

The following evening there is the traditional 'Burial of the Sardine' which entails a huge effigy of a sardine being paraded through town behind a group of grieving/wailing 'widows' dressed in black.    The procession ends up at the Town Beach where (eventually) the Sardine is set alight and when it finishes burning the fireworks start - and they are spectacular.   I believe the meaning behind this tradition is similar to that of our Harvest Festivals.

As if that wasn't enough excitement ...... the annual Blues Festival started a few days later.   Blues singers/groups from around the world appeared throughout the day/night at various venues in Town - both in the open air and in Hotels/Bars etc.

If you ever get the chance to visit Fuerteventura in March you're sure to have fun!   Anyway, here are a few photos of the main procession (the ones in daylight were taken at the assembly point which was close to our house).  Despite having a year to organise everything the procession inevitably starts late ... but as long as there are lots of scantily dressed dancers and lots of guys banging drums and blowing whistles, nobody seems to care much