Tuesday 29 June 2010

29/06: BEST LAID PLANS ......

Despite being previously assured that Richard would stay in hospital (local to his home) till a place becomes available in the neuro rehab hospital,  we heard last night that Richard would be assessed today for suitability to be moved from the hospital ward where he has spent the past couple of months to an 'interim' unit in a non-medical facility.

His assessment took place this morning and we got a phone call at 1pm to say he would be moved today at 3pm.   We jumped in the car and got stuck in the most horrendous traffic jam at the Dartford tunnel.    We got to the hospital at 3.15pm to find that his Mum had beaten us there by 5 minutes.   We then spent 2 hours kicking our heels - all Richard's stuff packed up but no ambulance in sight.

At 5.30ish his transport finally arrived so we followed behind to see him settled into his temporary 'home'.  It is much nicer than the last hospital ward ... but all very confusing for Richard and stressful for his family.  We've tried to notify as many people as possible about the move so they don't have wasted journeys ... but what is wrong with the NHS?  We have the highest respect for the doctors and nurses who do such a marvellous job .. but the admin leaves so much to be desired ... so much inefficiency and poor communication between departments/other hospitals and certainly a total lack of regard for the family/friends of patients.  We've had to fight to get every scrap of information. 

Anyway we got home about 8pm.   Watered all the bedding plants/greenhouse vegetables and had something to eat.   Now we just have to throw a few things into the hand luggage bags (we are travelling light) and tommorow evening we'll be sitting outside at our favourite bar on the beach  ... and all this will seem a million miles away (for a short time) .. can't wait!!

I had intended to start on the Piebald horse this morning, but instead I outlined the first of my 'human' portrait commissions which will be completed in coloured pencil.  I normally draw these in cps on white Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper, but am experimenting by using Pastelmat in 'light grey'.   If it doesn't work out as planned I still have time to re-start/complete it when we get home.

So ... yet another rant!!!    I think I'm ready for this week away.

Speak soon

Sunday 27 June 2010


I've worked on the 'grass' area a little more, made the fence posts thicker and added fine whiskers to complete Charlie

It's going to sit on the easel now for a couple of days awaiting approval.

We've booked flights to have a few days break at our holiday home in the Canaries - I think the temperatures are cooler there than they are at home at the moment but we both need to spend some time relaxing.   Every second or third day we've been out and about hospital visiting etc and they are usually 12 to 15 hour days.   We're feeling a bit jaded and in need of a change of scenery.  We fly out on Wednesday this week :o)

I will make a start on the piebald horse before we leave but there is no urgency and it can be completed when we get home.  I then have 5 'people' portraits to work on.   Not sure yet if I can show WIPs on the blog - I'll check with my clients closer to the start date.  4 of them are surprise gifts.


a few pics from the stable yard where my horse lives in happy retirement!

The weather is very hot and humid and only the geese seem happy but they have their little ponds and paddling pools to keep them cool

These little ponies are the 'oldies' - average age 30 and they are only allowed into the fields for limited grazing at this time of year (ponies are prone to laminitis and other problems associated with overindulgence on rich spring/summer grass).   This is one of several temporary penned areas they spend their afternoons in - its cool and shady and they can see everything that goes on in the rest of the yard.   It doesn't look very elegant but it does the trick and is easily dismantled to turn it back into a winter straw/hay storage area.

Flat out and snoring!!

Grumpy at being disturbed ..... what a mess eh?!!

He may be an 'oldie' but he still has a twinkle in his eyes - shetlands are such great little characters

and his Pal Barney is a real old gent - 35 I think.   Spends most of his time dozing but ... why not?

and just to prove they do have legs to stand on!

Poor Noggin .... he really doesn't like this heat at all - best to just snooze till the cooler weather returns!  I know how he feels :o)

Friday 25 June 2010


I didn't get as much done as anticipated on Charlie - he is very nearly finished but it won't hurt to put him to one side for a couple of days and take a look at him with fresh eyes next week.  

Had a visit from 'Bill & Ben' today.  They are two very dapper gents (brothers in their late 60s/early 70s) who make their 'beer money' by delivering garden compost/peat/potting soil/manure etc and they are cheaper than the local garden centres.   They are always beautifully turned out - crisply ironed shirt collars and neat pullovers etc - just to deliver compost.   I think they are ex-forces which would account for it.   They deliver the bags of 'mud' and drop them exactly where you want in the garden and all for an average £2 per bag!!   Their 92 year old mum acts as secretary and takes the phone calls ... amazing family!  

I didn't plan on doing so much gardening today, but I find it hard to say no to these guys when they knock the door and ask what they can do for us  .... so I placed a 'smaller' order than usual - just 20 bags today.  It helps to break up our horrible clay soil.   It's all dug in now and I'm aching a bit tonight!

This is where I'm at with Charlie.  I've strengthened the colours a little more and reapplied the black pastel which had dulled through picking up pastel dust  ... now its photographed I can see that the fence doesn't look  substantial enough to house ponies, so I'll tweak that a little next week to make the fence panel look heavier.  The grass at the lower end of the picture (between fence panels) also looks a bit 'scrubby' in the photo - but less so in 'real life' so I'll rectify that.

But no art tomorrow  - visiting Roxy (horse), our Mums, Richard in hospital and then out for an evening meal with daughter Caroline, her partner Lee, and Lee's parents who are visiting from Yorkshire.   Guess its going to be another 15 hour day :o)

Hope you all have a great weekend

Thursday 24 June 2010


Here's an update on Charlie the palamino pony.  I did take a few photos along the way but I'll just post the last one I think.  

Everything in the vicinity of my 'drawing board' is covered in pastel dust now - Yuk!!   That's the biggest drawback to using velour I think - I prefer to use pastel pencils rather than soft pastels but find the pencils a bit too scratchy on the velour surface.

I hope to get this finished tomorrow - In the reference photo Charlie is looking over a metal gate but I prefer to suggest a wooden fence so I need to tidy that up and add the final whiskers etc.   I then have to decide what paper I'm going to use for the piebald horse .... decisions, decisions!


He just couldn't wait till this evening when we water the garden/greenhouse plants and replenish his usual water tray!

This is one of 3 siblings we've watched grow up together.  Because of them we're kept on our toes pulling up young horse chestnut trees - they've buried hundreds of conkers in our garden and obviously because there was so much snow this Winter the squirrels haven't retrieved them all.   We don't need any more horse-chestnut trees in our garden but they grow as fast as weeds it seems!

Anyway, this one has been helping himself to the bird's water - I assume the water is red coloured as either the squirrel or the birds have been raiding our strawberries!  If you look closely you can see the water dripping off his chin - he has appalling table manners

Tuesday 22 June 2010


Just realised the longest day has been and gone .... horrible thought but at least the sun seems to be breaking through at the moment and I really hope it lasts till Thursday when I'll be able to get into the garden to do a bit of weeding and plant out the marigolds which have been bolting a bit in the greenhouse!

This is Charlie, a beautiful palamino pony I photographed some time ago (so I can't complain about the quality of the reference). 
Its his owner's birthday in a couple of weeks so I thought I'd better get cracking on it.   I'm using pastels on sand coloured velour (a paper I loved initially but abandoned in favour of sanded papers like Fisher 400) and I'm pleasantly surprised at how quickly the portrait is progressing.  The portrait is a little larger than A3 and this is the result of just a couple of hours work - the pony has been outlined, the background is in place and a base coat of colour laid down.   
Maybe I'll have to eat my words about not liking velour!!  I have a piebald (coloured) horse next on the agenda and had planned to use pastels on Fisher 400 paper (my favourite combination) but I'll see if I continue to be happy with this velour portrait before making the final decision. 

The photo isn't good - it was taken in artificial light but as there will be lots more work done on it I won't try adjusting the colours at this stage -  you'll get the idea I hope.

At my client's request I darkened Coco's cheeks/neck and she has now been approved and finished.  I'll 'fix' the pastel lightly tomorrow and she'll be ready to go later in the week.  
Sorry - you're probably bored with seeing her picture by now, but this is the final version I promise :o)

We will be hospital visiting again tomorrow so may not do any posting but I'm certain to be back at the computer in the evening catching up on all your posts.  See you then :o)

Monday 21 June 2010


We're in shock this evening - we had to be at Homerton Hospital in Hackney (London) at 9am.  They have no parking facilities.  Visitors are advised to take public transport.
So we decided to take the high speed train from Ashford International in Kent to Stratford International, London,  and then get a connecting tube train (2 stops) and walk from there.  We set out just after 6am.

We were horrified to find the fare Ashford to Stratford was £49.40 each (return).  The (high speed) train journey takes about 40 minutes.     We can almost fly to Fuerteventura for that price!!!   When we got to Stratford we were told the connecting tube train was out of action for an hour because of  'overhead' rail link problems??   So we took a bus to the hospital - luckily we had allowed plenty of time for the journey.

On leaving the hospital we got on the tube train to take us to Stratford (2 stops).  It broke down before reaching the first station.  After 15 minutes the tannoy announced the train would have to terminate at the next station and couldn't carry on to Stratford because of 'problems'.    We were told special transit buses would be laid on.  Yeah right!!   Having got off the train, the only railway employee we found knew nothing.   Their were no replacement trains laid on.  To cut a very long story short - we finally took a regular local bus to Stratford and arrived back at Ashford at 3pm having eaten nothing all day.    Our car had been in the car park for more than 5 hours which meant we had to pay the daily rate of £11.50.   So the whole trip cost us £120.     It was just a morning visit to a London hospital ... how can the 'powers that be' get away with these extortionate fares??   I've not been a commuter for a long time but I think somebody out there is definitely 'having a larf' as the saying goes!!

I've been asked to make some more changes to the portrait of 'Coco' but will leave it till tomorrow.  I'm so tired and frustrated after today's journey I shouldn't pick up my pencils tonight!

Anyway ...... Rant over and I feel a little better now!!

The sun is shining and the forecast is good for the next week ... I have a couple of horses to draw from very nice reference photos and a few 'human' portrait enquiries so I mustn't let Network South East get me down ...... but £120!!!!  daylight robbery isn't it?

Sunday 20 June 2010


Sorry I've been a bit tardy with posting recently.
We're doing a little more hospital visiting as Richard's mum is having a few days holiday and co-incidentally the medics have started paying more attention to Richard.  He has had opthalmic and orthopaedic assessments in the last couple of days and tomorrow he is being taken by ambulance to a neuro hospital in Hackney to assess his suitability for a rehab programme there.  We have to leave home at 6am to get to the hospital at 9am so another early start for us.   But at the end of all this we should have a better idea of timing etc., assuming the hospital agree to 'take him on' we hope the waiting list won't be too long.  The sooner he starts rehab the better!!

Its my birthday today (not a Big one) and the day got off to a 'great start' when David got up to make coffee then decided to investigate why the water pressure was low from the  mixer tap in the sink.  We have one of those mixer taps on an 'extendable hose' contraption - allows you to pull the hose head out of the tap.   Having removed the head, he turned the water on full and managed to drown the ceiling, walls, windows and floors - nothing wrong with the water pressure now (but my blood pressure went up a few points)!!

But ... its also Father's Day and so he's allowed a bit of leeway :o)

We're off to the hospital this afternoon but this is where I'm at with the portrait of 'Coco'.   I was asked  to make her nose a little more brown and I have darkened a lot of the highlights on her face which I think were exaggerated in the reference photo because of the way the light fell on her.  

Wednesday 16 June 2010

16/06: 'COCO' UPDATE

From the selection of reference photos I have it is difficult to determine Coco's colouring as she looks almost black in many of them but, particularly in the photo I'm working from, closer to the camera and in better light she is dark chocolate.

So, I've called a halt here and emailed my client for guidance.  If she is happy with the coat colour I simply have to add the final whiskers and highlights and then I can call her finished.

The following photos were taken within minutes of each other in the same lighting conditions, but they look slightly different when I lay coloured mounts over the top.

I have made a start on organising my Picasa photo albums into cat, dog, horse and human galleries - so if you click on the GALLERIES button towards the top of this page you will be directed to a page where you can access some of my previous portraits.    I have a lot of work to do here still .... but its a great idea from the Blogger team and I can manage these pages myself - unlike my website which hubby, David, looks after as he built and understands it !!

We're off to visit Roxy and then Richard this afternoon and straight on to friends tonight for a celebratory meal out (its my friend's 50th birthday today) .... many happy returns Jenni !!

Monday 14 June 2010


Its been a very tiring few days and I managed to somehow 'tweak' my neck/shoulder so feeling a bit uncomfortable. Thankfully its easing a little this evening so I should be back on form tomorrow. I plan to spend a full day making up time on the portrait of 'Coco' and the pony.

Really, I don't need to work at all ..... I should just take advantage of one of the many offers emailed to me each day and I could be a multi-millionaire. I can't believe how many international raffle prizes I've won (even without entering) and how many rich (but displaced) Nigerian businessmen (or their Widows) would like me to launder money through my UK account for a generous percentage. I reckon I'll earn several hundred dollars a month with no real effort :o)

Luckily I have a great spam programme which filters these out, but I still like to have a quick read every now and then to see what new ideas the spammers have come up with ... amazing aren't they??

Anyway, here's an update of 'coco' taken at lunchtime. I've done more since then but didn't photograph it before we lost the light.

Saturday 12 June 2010


This is the first Saturday in months that we haven't had to be up early - traditionally I drop David off at the Tenpin Bowling centre (1 hour drive away) where he teaches a Saturday kids club - I then visit my (retired) horse - collect David at midday and we visit our respective Mums.

We're breaking with tradition today and it was great to have a Saturday lie in!!  

We're getting together with the 'old crowd' later this afternoon at a friend's house - fingers crossed the weather will be kind as I think she may be planning on a BBQ.   Really looking forward to it.  We've all known each other for years - initially through our horses - but its the sort of friendship where we often don't see each other for months but can just pick up where we left off each time - albeit with a few more wrinkles and ailments to discuss :o(

4 of us have birthdays within a week of each other so its a multi-celebration:

Hope you all have a good weekend too

Friday 11 June 2010

11/06: 'NAUGHTY MAN' !!!

We had really heavy rain during the late evening and all through the night - and just before the rain reached us the sky turned a wonderful dark stormy colour. I really had to laugh when I looked out and saw our 'little shed roof man' waving his petunia backwards and forwards :o)

Think he was pleased to see us ??

Actually it probably doesn't look as funny here because of the angle I photographed it from ....


I'm not sure it looks like it, but I've spent approximately 5 hours working on this portrait today. 

I have several reference photos of 'Coco' and she is a very dark chocolate/almost black colour in most.  In this reference she has the light in her face and it shows up the beautiful red/brown colouring but makes her neck/shoulders look much darker by comparison. 
So I'm taking my time putting in lots of red/terracotta/carmine/chocolate/lilac/pink and even blue into the base coat and these will help add depth when the final more detailed layer is added.

I'm using mostly Derwent Pastels pencils here as they are slightly thicker/softer than Pitt Pastel pencils which I'll use for the finer detail later on

You may have noticed that I found the 'design' button Blogger have kindly added to the blog headers recently. I idly looked at what it offered and found myself with a whole new look!!

They say a change is as good as a rest and I'm not unhappy with this template.  Is it OK at your end??
I've viewed it in IE8 and Chrome and it appears to be readable in both but as the template page is much wider then my previous set-up I hope its all 'viewable'.

The major plus point is that I can make my images larger - that's why you're now viewing them 'warts n all' but, obviously, pastels are meant to be viewed from a distance rather than how you see these .... 
My next goal must be to sort all the images in my Picasa album into categories so I can link my blog to specific dog/cat/horse/human gallery pages .... another thing on the 'to do' list.

Thursday 10 June 2010


I started work today on the portrait of a beautiful chocolate lab who I'm told is full of mischief despite her sometimes sad expression. 

The portrait is intended as a present but I've been given permission to post WIP pics here.  So this is the first stage where I've drawn in her outline using umber/black/white pastel pencils and simply blocked in a few areas of shadow/highlight and fur direction.  I'm happy that the proportions are accurate now so work can begin in earnest - as usual, I'll point out that the portrait will go through one (or more) ugly stages along the way so bear with me :o)

Fisher 400 paper is a light sandy colour but its so gloomy here today the photograph has distorted the colour a bit.

On a slightly different tack ... we've declared war on the seagulls again! We have a very high aerial on the roof of our house which is a popular resting spot for seagulls - it is very close to the balcony doors in our bedroom and the novelty of being woken by screaming gulls at 3.30am has long since gone!! In addition the aerial is directly above our patio and when seagulls do what seagulls (and other birds) do ... the resulting mess right outside the patio doors is horrible. We did have anti-seagull spikes put on the aerial but the seagulls managed to twist the spikes so they face downwards and they carried on sitting on the aerial.

We had a lovely aerial man round this afternoon and he has re-sited the spikes and tied them more securely ...

so for the moment its Humans 1 -v- Seagull 0 .... but watch this space!

Tuesday 8 June 2010


We had a visit this afternoon from a friend, Debbie, who has been building up a herd of dairy goats in Kent since 2004.  David (hubby) built them a website and I drew a pencil portrait of their founding goat Ellie which is used as their corporate logo.

Debbie used to work part time in addition to looking after 'her girls' but now the herd totals 150 she can concentrate solely on the dairy.    She no longer ships the milk out to be turned into cheese  but has gone into production on site.   Her visit today was to discuss changes to be made to her website to incorporate all the changes.    http://www.elliesdairy.co.uk/index.html

Sadly Ellie passed away recently but two days prior to her death, Ellie's grand-daughter was born and will carry on the name.  I love visiting when the little 'goatlings' arrive - but for obvious reasons the little boy goats have to be sent away and only a couple of breeding males are kept at the farm.

It was great to hear how successful Ellie's dairy has become and ..... better still ... Debbie bought us a new goats milk cheese to sample - its in the style of a camembert and she thoughtfully bought us a home baked loaf to go with it - so I know what we're having for supper tonight.   She needs a catchy name for the new cheese so hopefully once we've sampled it inspiration will hit.   In the interim she calls it goatcam - but I hope we can come up with something better :o)

No posting for me tomorrow - my farrier is coming at 'silly hour' to trim Roxy's hooves so I'll be leaving home at 7am to meet him.   We'll then have a few hours to kill until we can visit Richard in hospital so it may be the perfect opportunity to do a bit of shopping - I have two birthday presents to buy and am cutting it a bit fine as the first one is on Saturday!!  Its going to be a long day anyway.  

See you on Thursday


It seems the common thread running through my recent posts is 'I didn't have time' so I've decided to get tough and stop prevaricating - visiting Richard in hospital inevitably eats into our schedules as each round trip takes approx 5 hours (thanks to the queues at the Blackwall Tunnel) but I really just need to organise myself better.  
We have a visitor early afternoon then I have a hairdresser appointment so they are the 'fixed points' around which I organised my day.  Started off well - greenhouse plants all watered, ripe strawberries picked (before the squirrels find them) long grass round edge of lawn trimmed (David mowed yesterday) and dusting/sweeping/hoovering done. 
My 'studio' really needs a spring clean but I have so many pictures on the go and newly framed works stacked up that its difficult to do a proper job.   I have at least cleaned the visible surfaces and brushed all the pastel dust off the keyboard :o)

But I've been nobbled by my printer .... I need to print my main ref picture for the chocolate lab I'll be working on next.  My printer has decided it will  magnify the dog's face about 8 times and just print out a section per each A4 sheet ... I've spent the best part of an hour cancelling and re-setting print runs with the same result.   I've now emailed the photo to hubby and he will try sending it to print from his laptop ... Oh the joy of these labour saving technical 'toys'  .... so whilst David is trying to tame the printer I thought I'd post these pics of the coloured pencil drawings I've just submitted to the UKCPS for their Autumn International Exhibition - hopefully the CD will arrive in time to meet the 12 June deadline. 

I'm going to say it one last time .... ' I didn't have time' to work on a new entry so these were selected from recent practice pieces.  I don't have high hopes but if I can get one of them selected this year I will have succeeded in getting into this show three times within a five year span and will be  entitled to put the letters UKCPS after my name.

This Ardennes horse named Jeton is one of a horse-logging team worked by Frankie Woodgate.  To find out more about the role of these magnificent horses in woodland management check out the website http://www.britishhorseloggers.org/.  I took this photo at the Kent County Show during a break in her demo when Frankie stopped to explain a point and I just loved the casual way she leaned on Jeton's ample backside for support. 
It was an unusual choice of ref for me as I don't normally like detailed backgrounds - particularly in coloured pencil.  This is drawn on Fabriano Artistico HP paper

Photographed at Port Lympne in Kent I just loved this little character and have ended up with far too many photos of him.   When I originally posted this I was bemoaning the fact I couldn't get the results I wanted with coloured pencils on my favourite sanded paper (Fisher 400) but having set it to one side for a few weeks, I returned and deepened shadows etc and decided to submit it after all.

This is the most recent picture - I've darkened it further to hopefully give the illusion of the tiger stalking in the darkness.   Its coloured pencil on drafting film using a black backing sheet

This last one was destined for the bin months ago as it was an experiment on black paper that didn't go as well as planned.  
The paper didn't take layers very well and I had to use several layers of fixative to give the paper a bit of 'bite' which looks a little as though the picture has been varnished - quite strange.   But I dusted it off and thought I'd give it a stay of execution ... if it isn't accepted for the exhibition then nothing will be lost.  
I've cropped it down a little which means it is now a non-standard size so it will be costly should I need to go ahead and get it mounted/framed for exhibition (that will teach me)!!  

The tiger was another one I photographed at the Wildlife Heritage Trust in Kent when I did a one-day pastel class with Vic Bearcroft.  We had the opportunity throughout the day to get 'up close' to many beautiful big cats so I have lots of photos in my 'to do' file.  
This tiger stayed staring into space like this for around 10 minutes allowing me to get lots of nice photos.  He had an amazing 'ruff' - not sure if this is part of his Winter coat or if this is normal for him - all the other tigers had short 'whiskers' by comparison.  
David suggested I call this one 'Uncle Albert' after the character in one of his favourite sit-coms (Only Fools and Horses)!

As a full member of the UKCPS I can submit 4 pictures to the jury - I had one other which fitted the criteria (must be 100% coloured pencil and the reference source must be the artists - ie photo must have been taken by the artist).   
This was a 'fun' piece based on a photo I took of Joanne Simpson's dog, Pip, last year when we travelled to Derby to attend Jo and Roy's wedding.   This is drawn on drafting film and was completed in just a couple of hours - I won't be doing anything with it now.  

Monday 7 June 2010


Here are the four pictures I picked up from the framer last week.   I struggled to photograph them because of the reflection on the glass - no matter where in the house or garden I placed the pictures I got glare.  I personally prefer non-reflective glass for pictures which stops this problem but a lot of people think the slightly opaque finish detracts from pictures - and certainly non-reflective glass is not permitted for most exhibition/competition work.   So I have to follow instructions !!

I've had this frame at home for ages - its a little ornate for most portraits (particularly commissions) but  I thought it worked with this picture as the background reminds me of a sort of Georgian striped fabric and the cat is quite 'regal' looking.  My framer kindly cut the mount and put it all together for me.

This is another frame I had 'in stock'  and my framer obligingly cut the mount and put it all together - saved a few pennies anyway :o)

This picture was my framer's favourite - he loves the blue eyes.  Its a shame about the reflections - this was photographed in my back garden so I've picked up some fencing and trees - in reality the background is plain and very dark blue/black

I think this is my favourite

Well - they are all ready for their journey to London in August - where I will find out if the jury will accept or reject them for exhibition.  During this visit to London I will also be applying for full membership of SOFA (Society of Feline Artists) so these pictures will form part of the portfolio I submit for consideration.  Its going to be a busy day methinks!!

Sunday 6 June 2010


I'd set myself goals to identify/photograph my entry/ies for the UKCPS Autumn exhibition and mail them this weekend and I have a picture to mount/frame for delivery on Wednesday.   But I didn't quite make it.   We had a long day on Friday - we took David's Mum  to visit Richard in hospital - its only the third time she has been outdoors since breaking her hip in November.  We went on to meet friends for a meal in the evening and didn't get home till the early hours of Saturday for a brief sleep before setting off again for our usual hectic Saturday.   We got back home late yesterday afternoon in time to enjoy the last of the sunshine whilst tidying the back garden and planting out a few bedding plants, vegetables and shrubs.    We then sat outside with a bottle of  'bubbly' and had a simple barbecue meal.    Perfick!!

I now know which pictures I will submit to the UKCPS but couldn't resist 'tweaking' each of them a bit ... I've probably overworked them now but I'll never learn!!   The promised thunderstorms started up this afternoon and it got too dark to take decent photos so I'll post tomorrow - together with photos of the framed cat pictures for the SOFA entries.

 In the meantime I thought I'd show this photo I took today.   We always have our main meal in the evening and a snack at lunchtime.    Today David made up a couple of cheese rolls for lunch and I was amazed to find this array of knives waiting to be washed afterwards:

Whilst I love him to bits ... David's the first to admit he isn't tidy in the kitchen (or anywhere else for that matter) but why five knives to make two rolls???   Apparently it all makes sense - bread knife to cut the rolls, carver to slice the cheese, small paring knife to slice the tomato, dinner knife to spread the relish ... etc..    Its the same rationale for using clean cups and spoons every time he makes himself a cup of tea (if I'm not around) ... the logic being there is no difference in washing 6 cups individually and washing 1 cup 6 times (except there is ....  because its normally me washing up or loading the dishwasher not him)!! 

Men are from Mars .....  !!!

Thursday 3 June 2010


This last week has been absolutely chaotic - definitely a case of one step forwards and two back .... thankfully it is relatively quiet on the commission front otherwise I'd be in a bit of a mess.   The chaos was compounded when our car decided to lock me out on Saturday.   I was about to leave the stables after visiting my (retired) horse, put the key in the ignition and then got out of the car to talk to somebody.  The car door partially closed (you know when it just 'catches' without closing properly) and the central locking system kicked in.  I'm told 'this just can't happen' ... but it did.    I was supposed to collect hubby from the bowling centre where he teaches a kids club - we share the car.   Luckily David's daughter was home and lives 20 minutes drive from the stables.   She collected her dad, then me, and drove us home to collect the spare keys - and back to the stables to open the car (a 2 hour round trip)!!  We then had to drive an hour to hospital to visit Richard - yet another marathon day.

Two or three hospital visits each week certainly puts us behind with other 'stuff' but Richard is making steady progress.   He is still unable to use his right arm/leg/eye and there's no news yet of when he can be accepted into a neuro rehabilitation programme -  its early days yet in terms of recovery from such a serious accident.   We realise he is likely to spend a further year in hospital(s) but all the time we see little improvements we're happy.

Two recent enquiries seem to have died natural deaths and the graphite 'human' portrait is now on hold till later in the year  ... I had announced that I would be taking a break from commissions to concentrate on exhibition work this Summer and it seems events are being taken out of my hands I think the recession is beginning to bite with many artist friends reporting a downturn in orders for the first Quarter of this year.   So the slowdown actually suits me at the moment.   I should be able to start on the chocolate lab a little earlier than anticipated but will liaise with my client first to see whether I can show WIP pics here.

David and I visited my framer today to collect the four cat pictures I will be taking to London in August.   I hope one at least will be accepted by the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery for exhibition (Society of Feline Artists) but I think the selection committee is fairly tough.  I'm really pleased with the framing although I can see things that I'm itching to change with the pictures - always the way isn't it?   They are protectively parcelled at the moment but I'll unwrap them during the weekend and see if I can photograph them to show here.

My framer's workshop is in a little coastal town about 10 miles away (Birchington) .. I love going there as its set in a time warp - the average age must be 70 and I feel soooooooo young.   The little shops still sell tea cosies, sensible knickers and hot water bottles - many items look as though they've lived in the shop windows for 20+ years!   But we had a lovely lunch out and it was a treat to just 'escape' the routine for a few hours.   We stopped off at a nursery on the way home and bought more plants for the garden (thereby extending the 'jobs to be done' list :o)

The weather was beautiful and the visibility wonderful today.  On the way home we passed fields full of giant oak trees ... and this dead one.  The light was fantastic but I didn't have my 'good' camera with me.  We keep a little camera in the glove compartment 'for emergencies' and David took this picture which doesn't really do it justice.   Here's my 'dead tree' photo anyway :o)

Well thats the end of another waffly blog post :o)    We're hospital visiting again tomorrow so I shall be working hard on my art during the weekend to make up and will post again then.   Enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts!

Tuesday 1 June 2010


I spent a few hours on the (pastel) pony commission today (which I've been asked not to show till July) and had intended to do work in the back garden but the weather has been horrible today - grey and drizzly and pretty cold.   So I switched back to cps and did more work on the tiger.   It was intended to be bigger than this but I'm bored with it now so I'm going to crop it to fit the mount I've shown here - it is still quite big as the mount will fit a 20" x 16" frame.   The photos aren't brilliant as the light was poor and I didn't want to turn the overhead lights on as they create too much glare on the film.  But you get the idea I hope.

Tigger - with mount loosely laid on top so I could work out where to finish drawing/crop the picture

I tried to take a 'close-up' but it hasn't worked very well

Once I finish the pony commission, I have a chocolate lab and a graphite human to work on. I'm obviously not going to have time to prepare anything new for submission to the Autumn UKCPS exhibition as entries close on 12 June so I've been looking through some of the practice pieces I've done in the last 6 months. The work has to be based on photos I have taken and must be 100% coloured pencil so I have 3 or 4 possible pics I could submit. I'll take a good look at them tomorrow and make a decision