Saturday 28 August 2010


Today's tight schedule went haywire .....

It started badly when the farrier was late arriving at the stables  to attend to Roxy's feet ... he had 5 horses to deal with so we finished up running 1 hour late.  We visited Mum and Mum-in-Law and then drove to London to take a look at the SOFA exhibition, Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, Waterloo.   I was disappointed to find that my picture of a Ragdoll cat, with grey mount and black frame, looked very dowdy compared with its neighbours which were mainly framed with white mounts.   But anyway ..... the exhibition opened yesterday but the official champagne reception/private view is on Tuesday.  We are going on hols 2am tomorrow morning so this was our only opportunity to see the exhibits.

Here are a few of the pics I took

Friday 27 August 2010


The weather has been grim today so I didn't want to work on my coloured pencil human portraits - its so easy to pick the wrong shade of pencil in artificial light and achieve some weird skintone effects .... The portrait (together with one other) is commissioned as a wedding gift in October so I'm going to put the final touches to it when back home.

This is a lovely grey horse I started work on ... its in pastel on a dark blue/grey sanded card. Unfortunately its been difficult to photograph as my camera always thinks it knows best. Whoever said Cameras never lie hadn't experienced mine!

here are some early Work in Progress pics:

Outline drawn with direction of hair in various places

I'm just building up base colour here, paying attention to direction of hair and where the highlights will be

This next picture is an example of my camera thinking it is an X-Ray machine .... I have had to darken all these photos as they all looked spooky/ghostly!   Interesting effect though - don't you think?

This is the same picture as above, but I tried to trick the camera by placing a mount over the paper to 'distract' it a little ... the colour is probably truest in this last picture.  At this early stage I'm not going to worry about adjusting the photos - save that treat for when I'm nearer to completion and its more critical.

This is going to be my last post for a while as we are visiting Richard in hospital tomorrow and then will be taking a holiday ... can't wait to see the sun again !


Del Boy (Birthday portrait) has been approved with no changes required so I'm about to pack it ready for despatch later today .... Hope the 'victim' is amused!

Whilst on hols next week our home/greenhouse will be looked after but I'd hoped to do some weeding today and mow the lawns to tidy it up before we go  ... but it started raining last night and everything is soggy - what happened to Summer?

We always have our patio doors open in the evening and were amazed to see this visitor in the lounge last night ... obviously he'd had enough of the rain as well.   He was a big un .... Must confess I put him over the fence but I believe snails have a homing device so 'he'll be back'

Thursday 26 August 2010

26/08: DEL BOY UPDATE. Coloured Pencil on Pastelmat

This is where I'd got to at the time of my earlier post at lunchtime today ....

and with more work this afternoon on his coat and the cutlery 

It really is getting close to completion now so I've emailed my client to find out whether there are areas she wants changed and also to settle on mount size.    I intended to offer this with my 'mid sized' mount which fits a frame size 14" x 18" and would look like this - the emphasis being on his face

But I've also shown it in a larger mount which centralises the drawing.  This will fit a frame size 16" x 20".   Now I've posted this I can see that the mount would need to move to the left more ... but this is simply to illustrate the options.

So awaiting feedback :o)

26/08: BUSY BUSY .....

I've done quite a bit more to the Del Boy picture today and hope to get back to it later this afternoon/evening .. will post updates then.    I've outlined the grey horse and done a bit more tweaking on one of the wedding present portraits.  I still have another double portrait to start on but am waiting to see whether my client can find some more references to help with detail.

Its been incredibly windy here today and anything not anchored down in the garden has been crashing over ..... can you guess which way the wind is blowing?   The little sunflowers next to the patio weren't planted there, they are courtesy of seeds dropped by birds and squirrels from the nearby feeder!   My approach to gardening is .... if its happy to grow there - it can stay!!  apart from the weeds of course.

I went out to rescue all the toppled plants/ornaments and realised I need to do something with all our ripe tomatoes before we go away at the weekend.    We have 12 vigorous plants in the greenhouse but several unplanned tomato plant forests in the garden borders (I emptied a couple of our compost bins into the soil this Spring and the seeds came from the compost).   Again, as they were happy to flourish where they landed, I left them alone and they are doing very well.

I've just harvested several kilos of tomatoes and I'm making a huge batch of soup which I can freeze ... its bubbling away merrily on the hob.   Can't beat home-made soup using fresh from the garden ingredients can you?

Off to get a haircut this afternoon but will post again later.

Tuesday 24 August 2010


I managed to get quite a lot more done to this portrait this afternoon - here I've been adding colour/texture to the rather 'moth-eaten' looking sheepskin coat (it looks different colours in every photo so I've made it a mottley mixture of all of them)!  I wanted to get the bright red jumper coloured in to show how much stronger all the other colours need to be to pull it together

Then I started to strengthen some of the skintones and this is how I left it this evening.  Its getting a bit gloomy to take photos - we've had very strange weather today - blustery showers lasting maybe 10 minutes then warm but windy weather ... we've lost lots of damsons and apples off the trees in our garden so it feels more like Autumn than Summer 


I collected the framed tiger picture yesterday afternoon - with its black background it has been very hard to get a photo without lots of reflections from the glass - our house is very light with windows everywhere - so lots of light bouncing off this which has dulled the colours a bit.

All galleries seem to have different rules about framing pictures.   The Stamford Arts Centre require pictures to have mirror plates attached for hanging purposes (you can see them on this frame).  We were about to package all three pictures this morning so I could check the dimensions/weight and arrange courier collection when disaster struck.

David attached mirror plates to the framed Meerkat picture, and the wood grain of the frame split .... you should have heard the language (!**!*!*!!!)   the only other mount/frame I had at home which would fit this picture has non-reflective glass.  Although Stamford Arts Centre haven't specifically said they don't accept non-reflective glazed pictures, most other galleries have this rule so I didn't want to risk rejection at the final hour.

Sooooooo, a quick trip to Tony, my lovely framer who doesn't keep a huge amount of framing material/mountboard in stock but has promised to get  me out of trouble if I leave choices up to him.  I'll pick the finished article up tomorrow morning.     So I've no idea what he will select but I'm sure he'll do a great job!    

That kind of upset my plans for today ... but back at the drawing board this afternoon.    I've had good feedback from my client regarding progress on the wedding present portraits I'm working on.  But we've agreed that I won't show WIP pictures here till after the presentation.

I will do some more on the Del Boy commission and hopefully also outline a horse which I will be working on properly after my holiday.  

Happy days :-)

Monday 23 August 2010


I've been given the go ahead to show WIP pictures of this portrait which is intended as a 50th birthday present.

I'm working from 3 reference photos and the idea is to show the 'birthday boy' in the guise of David Jason's much loved character 'Del Boy' - complete with flat cap, sheepskin coat and canteen of cutlery (oh and not forgetting the medallion/chain with Letter)

I'm working in coloured pencil on light grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat and this is where I finished at the weekend. This is being fitted in between other ongoing commissions so progress may be a little sporadic

For info, these are the 3 reference pics I'm working from:

I'm really having fun with this one, its nice to work on something a little out of the ordinary now and again!

Sunday 22 August 2010


I'm indebted to Peter for his hilarious post today

and he gave me the perfect excuse to post my graphite picture of the 'original Grumpy Old Man' which I drew 4 years ago ... it hangs on the wall of my studio, next to the drawing of hubby (David) - interchangeable in terms of  grumpy old g*ts!!

I've been given permission to show WIP pictures of another 'birthday' commission I have on the go ... I'll post tomorrow.   This is being fitted in between the wedding and wedding anniversaries commissions which I don't think I can show till later in the year.

Saturday 21 August 2010

21/08: Exciting Times!

Earlier this year I agreed with Hubby (David) that I would cut down on commission work with its inevitable stresses/deadlines etc and simply draw/paint 'for fun' or exhibition/competition work - allowing us to be much more flexible to simply enjoy retired life and take advantage of any decent English Summer weather.

My stepson then had a horrific motorcycle accident in April and has been hospitalised since, so all plans went by the board and I ended up accepting more commissions and doing less exhibition stuff than planned.  However, it all seems to have come together now.   I'm just about ready to close my commission order book for Christmas, and I have several pictures on exhibition from now till the end of November..    Total fluke really and I won't pretend this was planned!

Next week I will be chasing up all 'potential' clients who have expressed an interest in having portraits done as Christmas presents.   If they all turn out to be positive I'm oversubscribed and will be burning the midnight oil with all holidays cancelled!   Realistically however I expect to have a comfortable 'run up' to Christmas this year with a little slack in the system to allow for mishaps or perhaps that 'last minute' request with a reference photo sooooo good I just can't say NO :o)

I'm waffling slightly as I haven't got any current work I can show - still working on wedding/birthday portraits (human).   but I thought I'd take this opportunity to show the non-commissioned pictures which will be exhibited at galleries during the next couple of months:

Three coloured pencil pics were juried into the 9th UK Coloured Pencil Society Annual Open Exhibition and will be on exhibit at Stamford Arts Centre, Lincs PE9 2DL  13 September to 1 October 2010

I'm not good at photographing framed/glazed pictures as I usually end up getting my own reflection in the photo, but here goes:

Meerkat - I photographed this little chap at Port Lympne earlier this Summer.   I have lots of more 'traditional' poses but really liked this unusual angle/close up shot.

Coloured pencils on Fisher 400 paper ... mounted/framed at home to reduce costs :o)

This was coloured pencils on drafting film ... mounted/framed at home

This tiger drawing was destined for the bin but having left it to one side for several weeks, I cropped the picture and decided to give it a second chance.   As a non-standard size, this is being mounted/framed by a specialist framer and I won't collect it till next week ... so here it is as the simple drawing:

Just a reminder that this Ragdoll Cat picture (pastels on Clairefontaine Pastelmat) will be on display at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, Waterloo, London from 27 August till 17 September.   Again, apologies for the poor photos, I photographed this outside but got the reflection of the fence in my photo.

and this was my very first coloured pencil portrait of a 'human' subject.  It was done nearly 3 years ago but has just been selected by jury for inclusion in the 'Simply the Best' competition and Exhibition at the Art Materials Live show, NEC Birmingham in November.  30 exhibitors have been selected and we'll each receive a £50 HobbyCraft Voucher.  Visitors to the show will vote for the 'People's Choice' from the 30 pictures and that lucky artist will receive a £150 Hobbycraft voucher.

Having done this so long ago, I now see lots of things I want to tweak/change but as the picture has been mounted/framed I've been forbidden by Hubby to touch it!!!

I will also have between 12 and 20 original artworks on display at the 'Made in Whitstable' Exhibition which will be staged at the Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable in November ... more news about this to follow but arts and crafts from 20 local 'producers' will be on display for a week.   I believe mince pies and mulled wine will be offered at the official Open Evening but will update you when the schedule is finalised.

So, I should have everything mounted and framed by Tuesday and couriers organised to despatch the pictures to their various destinations.

Deadlines are looming for a couple of my commissioned portraits so I'll be knuckling down to some very hard work from tomorrow!

Saturday 14 August 2010


I got home from a (really good) visit with Richard in hospital this afternoon to find a letter confirming that I've had three pictures accepted for hanging at the 9th UKCPS Annual Open Exhibition at Stamford  in September.   106 pictures have been accepted from 66 UK coloured pencil artists and 6 Overseas artists.

Now I'm panicking as I have to find the pictures, dust them off (!!) and arrange their framing and despatch.  But it was good news and I'm really 'chuffed' as I will now have achieved 'Signature Status' the criteria for which is having works accepted at 3 UKCPS Open Exhibition within 5 years (I've made it in 4 years)!

I haven't heard yet whether I have been accepted as a full member of Society of Feline Artists .... but if I don't make it this year I'll just try again in 2011 ....

No artwork this weekend - Mother-in-Law is 92 on Monday so I'm hosting the family get-together here tomorrow.  Fingers crossed for good weather as I'd really like for us to be able to sit outside in the garden.

I've nearly finished the current portrait and will be starting on a double human portrait next week (wedding gift for October) so again, I won't be able to show WIP pics.

Tuesday 10 August 2010


I still can't show any artwork for fear of spoiling surprises but I haven't been idle.  I'm currently working on human portraits which can't be shown for a couple of months, but I have just received a reference photo of a beautiful grey horse and I hope to be in a position to make a start on him before we go on holiday at the end of August.  This is a Gift Voucher redemption so isn't a surprise.

We have been out and about visiting art exhibitions in London and locally.   I submitted works to the Society of Feline Artists last week and am awaiting the verdict of the jury as to whether I can be voted a Full Member this year or whether I should reapply next year.   I'm grateful to the committee for considering me as I missed the deadline for applying ... our lives aren't as well organised as they should be following stepson's accident earlier this year and hospital visiting every few days.   (usually 6 - 8 hours round trip).  So fingers crossed!

I visited the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery at Waterloo where my picture of the Ragdoll Cat has been accepted  for inclusion in the fifteenth London Exhibition for The Society of Feline Artists.   For future years I will submit my entries by internet earlier in the year so (if accepted) they can be included on the Gallery website.  I was last in the queue to present work and watched as a very large Pollyana Pickering picture was rejected for lack of space (although she has others in the exhibition) and I felt very sorry for Elizabeth (whom I met at the SOFA venue)who had all four of hers rejected.   The exhibition opens on August 27th and I hope to visit the Gallery on Saturday 28th when in London to visit Richard.   We go on holiday on 29th so unfortunately won't be able to attend the Champagne Private View on 31st (opened by David Grant MBE Patron of the SOFA).

Yesterday we drove to Lydd to see the lovely work of fellow UK Coloured Pencil Society artist (Elizabeth Barton) who is staging a solo art exhibition this week at All Saints Church.  Its always nice to meet the artists we usually only get to 'converse' with via the internet.

Anyway, for a little light relief I thought I'd post a few pics taken in the last week or so ...

These huts line the grassy slopes leading down to the beach at Tankerton - they are very fashionable with the 'weekenders' from London although they have no running water and owners aren't permitted to sleep in them overnight - still they fetch between £20,000 and £30,000 each.
A lot of money for what is essentially a shed large enough to house a table, maybe a couple of sofas and a bbq (!)

The beach at Tankerton is relatively quiet

 but as you walk towards neighbouring Whitstable the beaches become increasingly crowded as this is where the yacht club is based and the 'lads' play with their jetskis and other executive toys.

 Whitstable is still a working harbour but at weekends and school Summer Holiday time it is jampacked with visitors sampling the fresh seafood and shellfish (in particular oysters which the area is renowned for).

I had no idea that elderberrys are so attractive to Starlings .... I photographed these just yards away from the busy beach/harbour at Whitstable and they were totally unfazed by the crowds of people walking past.  There were   dozens of birds enjoying a real feeding frenzy