Sunday 31 October 2010


Grand-daughter Sophie Louise finally arrived at 1.22am (2.22am if the clocks hadn't gone back) despite her Mum's intentions not to have a Halloween baby.   Guess Sophie is setting the scene and letting Caroline know who is really boss!!   Mum, dad and baby are all doing well at home and we'll visit in a day or so (just need to be clear of my cold symptoms first).

Now I know its Halloween ..... this post just appeared twice.  I've deleted one of them but apologies if it still shows as two for anybody that follows my blog

Friday 29 October 2010


I've been feeling poorly for a few days - sore throat, aches & pains and streaming nose - so it came as a great relief to discover (from hubby) that I'm lucky just to have a girlie cold and not MAN FLU!  
Which means I'm still fit enough to get on with my commissions, do the washing, cleaning  and cook his meals of course.  

I've battled on regardless, albeit more slowly than usual and am about 1/3 way through another triple human portrait.   Its another one intended as a surprise Christmas gift so I won't post work in progress pictures here.

The portrait I had been working on was put to one side whilst my client decided what colour mount/matt he wanted.  I was mean and photographed the portrait with a variety of coloured mounts so he could see the way the colour altered the overall appearance.    Since the portrait is a gift for his wife, he couldn't ask her opinion and has had a worrying couple of days trying to choose (!!)  but he has now made an 'executive decision' and the picture will go to be framed next week.

As I have no current art to show - here are even more pictures of our 4 legged visitors.   In bad weather we started putting their food under a plastic storage basket (with the plastic cut away from both ends).  Once the family of hedgehogs increased it was clear that 3 hogs couldn't share the food so David bought a larger container and cut a door into it.  The hogs were very suspicious the first evening - they inspected it several times then scuttled off without venturing inside but now they like their bespoke 'feeding station' - and there's room for at least one more, should they decide to bring friends round

As you can see there's barely room for two.  The sandbag on top is to prevent the container blowing away.

and this is the new deluxe model .. it probably doesn't need to be weighed down.   I haven't photographed the hogs using the new feeding station as they were very unsure of it at first and I didn't want to upset them.  But there is now plenty of room to throw a hedgehog party !

OK - have a great weekend everybody and don't forget to change the clocks tomorrow evening/Sunday morning.  

Tuesday 26 October 2010


You may recall the two double portraits I completed recently as a gift to the Bride/Groom-to-be on their wedding day.   They were married on the 8th October and 'Mum' sent me this photo of the happy couple and has allowed me to show it here.  Don't they look fabulous.

I will be doing portraits of other family members ... including the dog at some stage when the dust settles!

So ... wishing them both a long and happy life together

Sunday 24 October 2010

24/10: PATTER OF TINY FEET (or not) !!

My stepdaughter was due to present us with our first Grand-child on Friday but so far nothing has happened.  She was told that 80% of babies arrive later than scheduled which leads me to wonder why midwives/antenatal nurses don't just add 1 week to to the scheduled arrival dates to so they hit their targets more accurately ????!!

Anyway, grandchild is expected to be female and will probably be named Sophie Louise ....... watch this space !!!

In the meantime, I can report lots of activity on the 4 legged baby front.  We now know we have 3 hedgehogs.   Two are fairly small and one is pretty huge.    The two 'little ones' have turned up together to share food, the bigger one turns up on his/her own.

Unfortunately I can't get good photos because the noise of the patio doors opening frightens them and the big one scuttles off.  The little ones don't exactly roll into a ball (as I would expect) but they kind of lay down sidewards and 'play possum' for 15 mins or so ... till they think all danger has passed.

This picture is of 2 'littlies' ... disguised as one big prickly  'blob'

One of them was startled by the noise of the patio doors opening ... and scuttled off.  The other one was a little slower to react:   Bye !!!!!

and its survival instinct kicked in ... it took up this strange submissive pose and stayed  absolutely still for 15 minutes or so ... then realising the danger had passed it just ambled off !!

We've also had lots of squirrel activity in the garden.    We cut down all the sunflowers recently and left the flowerheads in the garden so the seeds were available for birds/squirrels.

This photo was taken on telephoto and although its not crystal clear I just loved the sun dappled effect on the garden/squirrel

Wasn't quite so chuffed later on when the little 'tree rat' decided to bury all the sunflower seeds in the 'better' areas of our lawn

but he/she is only stocking up in readiness for Winter (which is fast approaching) so I can't get angry .... and what a magnificent tail ....

Last night we attended the official opening of the 'Outside the Square' Art Gallery in Margate.

Despite the horrible weather, the event was really well attended and I met some of the artists exhibiting at the Gallery.    I met the Gallery owner a few weeks ago and he suggested he would be interested in exhibiting a few of my works in his Gallery, but I won't have anything available till the end of the year ... so let's see what will happen.

The Gallery was jam packed full of works from artists around the world so he obviously doesn't have space available at the moment for new artists.   The Outside the Square Gallery is being promoted as the one closest to the new Turner Gallery which will open in Spring 2011 - the area all around the Turner Gallery site is being rejuvenated and lots of grants are available to small businesses to encourage the growth of a 'cafe society' and bring the town back to life.... I have my fingers crossed.  Margate used to be such a wondrous place but it turned into a real 'no go' area in the last couple of decades when British Tourism died a death


I had a change of plan and frame for the snow leopard .... it is now being shown in a bigger, wood frame which I hope sets it off better

Friday 22 October 2010


Because we have a busy few days planned, David decided that today should be the day to organise me and the pictures that I want to display at the Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable in November.  

He has been stripping my studio walls of pictures and sorting out labels etc.  My 'daydreaming tiger' which won Reserve Best in Show at the UKCPS International exhibition in Stamford last month arrived back here today, and the tiger I recently completed in pastels was collected from the framer today.  As usual Tony (from 'Picture This' at Birchington, Kent) has done a wonderful job but I was surprised how large the finished picture is ... and how heavy it is!!   I seem to have mostly cat pictures but probably won't have time to add any more dogs or horses to the collection.  Lets hope there are lots of cat lovers in Whitstable around mid-November (domestic and wild cats).

So my plans to work on the coloured pencil portraits were postponed until tomorrow afternoon but I did manage to (almost) complete the snow leopard - despite all the interruptions!

A few more WIP pictures:   I'm never quite sure whether its best to show the pics in reverse order (ie latest pic first, or t'other way round)

This photo was taken last night and turned out very dark  ... but although not accurate, I preferred the darker background and so I changed it this morning

As you can see these are all photographed at different times of day, in different light conditions but I think the colours shown here are pretty accurate

This next photo looks a little too 'blue'  but I wanted to photograph the picture before I sprayed it with fixative.  I'm not a fan of commercial fixatives as they really 'kill' the vibrancy of the pastels at times, but I'm using soft pastels rather than pastel pencils on this leopard and I'm not comfortable about framing it without 'fixing' it first.  

Finally this evening I photographed the leopard with the mount and frame I'll be using.  This is a single mount and I normally use double mounts with pastel works so I will be putting spacers between the picture and the mount to provide an 'escape route' for any stray pastel dust in the future.  The frame is a very simple brass one  which I had at home

I may re-photograph this tomorrow in better light - but you get the idea I hope:

This is the framed Tiger picture.   I really struggle to photograph pictures once they are behind glass as I always end up with me or something  else quite inappropriate being reflected in the glass.    This is the best I could do today, and it has muted the colours a bit

Thursday 21 October 2010

21/10: BUSY, BUSY !!

Where does the time go?

We've called in a few decorators to quote for repainting the interior of our house.  At 3 years old I hope the settlement cracks have finished appearing now and its time to get all the plaster/woodwork 'made good' and freshened up with a couple of coats of paint.    David (bless) isn't a DIY person.   I like decorating but just haven't got the time so .... we're just waiting now to receive the estimates so we can decide who we choose and when it can be done.    

I haven't done any work on the 3 child portrait as I was sorting out the decorators ... actually if truth be known I had a pretty thorough house-cleaning session as well.  Silly isn't it ... I wanted the house to be clean before the decorators saw it (must be more like my Mother than I thought) :o(

My client has seen the portrait at its current stage and made some suggestions regarding one of the children which I'll deal with tomorrow.  At this stage I normally put a 'grid' on the picture to make sure I'm on track before adding more detail.

I do have another 'Big Cat' on the easel.   Its a snow leopard - another large pastel so has to be segregated from the coloured pencil artwork to avoid dust contamination.  I've done a bit of work on it today but will leave it alone for a few days till I finish the children.  

I'll post more WIP photos tomorrow, but am in a hurry tonight as I'm going to a demonstration/talk by Chris Christoferou the Wildlife artist.   I'm dragging David along tonight as I don't like driving in the dark these days - the talk is being held in a school about 20 minutes drive from home but its along fairly dark country lanes and my eyes don't like headlight glare.    Actually I think David will enjoy it as I believe it will include hints about photography and composition etc.  

These are the first stages.  I'm making use of an old piece of Pastelmat on which for some reason I seem to have experimented with white pastel in the past - hence the big splodge ... the plan is that this will disappear in the leopard's dense fur later on.  Its a fairly big piece at 20" x 16" to fit an old mount and frame I have at home.      Whilst it is lovely to have a custom built frame for every picture the last one (tiger picture) cost around £75 so it makes a big impact on the selling price.     Incidentally I should be picking the framed tiger picture up tomorrow!

more tomorrow!!

Wednesday 20 October 2010


We've noticed that our car appears to be very attractive to some of our garden visitors - no idea why though?

I believe these are Carrion Crows and they periodically gather on top of the car roof/bonnet wing mirrors etc and spend ages pecking.  At first we thought they were catching bugs trapped in the wipers but now I wonder if they are just admiring themselves.   Has anybody else encountered this behaviour  - today we had 6 of them on the car but by the time I got my camera set up to photograph them the others had flown.   Apologies for the lopsided pictures - I had to aim the camera between the venetian blind slats and the windows are double glazed.

Alfred Hitchcock eat your heart out!!

I'm really chuffed to report that as well as having regular nightly visits from Spike the (huge) hedgehog, we also have a smaller hedgehog visitor who I've named Iggy.    They arrive separately but both love the dog food and mild cheddar treats I put out for them.   Regrettably they neither of them touch the bag of special hedgehog food we bought (at great expense) from a pet shop recently.    So, the hedgehog food is being scattered on the lawn for whatever birds/squirrels or other creatures might appreciate it.   Talk about spoilt!

and finally, a kiss goodnight from my 'old girl' Roxy ... she has really gone grey over the last couple of years but she is very happy in her 'retirement home' as well she might be ... she's on full livery and she's the matriarch - keeping all the other mares in order (girls and boys don't mix at her yard)!   This photo was taken on Saturday and its probably the last time she will be allowed out without her Winter Clothing as the weather seems to have definitely turned wintry now.

Sunday 17 October 2010


We had a late night/early morning and are both very 'jaded' today ... so I did a little more on the 3 child portrait  but thought it best to put it to one side till tomorrow when I've had a decent night's sleep.    My client has been on holiday for a few weeks but I think he is back this weekend and I'll find out soon whether its possible to show WIP pictures.

I had intended to make a start on the next '3 person portrait' commission as that will also be in coloured pencil .. but not a good idea until the brain is in gear again!

So I played around with the Cheetah picture a bit more  - David still doesn't like this one.  He doesn't think it stands out enough from the background ... so I spent an hour darkening the background slightly by applying dark green, dark blue and black coloured pencils on the reverse side of the film.  Drafting film doesn't take many layers of colour so this is about as dark as I can get it - bearing in mind the picture will be finished with a white backing sheet behind the film.

My purpose was to make the Cheetah's eyes stand out so I don't mind that the rest is a bit 'insipid' ..  I'm calling it a day on this one now.


Well I hope everyone had a great weekend ... and I'll catch up with all my outstanding emails etc tomorrow - apologies and all that!!!

Friday 15 October 2010


These two portraits were commissioned by 'Mother of the Bride' as a gift to her Daughter and Son-in-Law on their wedding day.

The first is a portrait of the Happy Couple based on a holiday snap.  The second is a portrait of my client's parents who sadly weren't alive to witness their Grand-daughter's wedding - the bride was very close to her Grandparents.

The portraits were to be a surprise and to have pride of place next to the Wedding Cake at the Reception and I've been given permission to post them on my Blog as the Wedding was last Friday.   Hopefully I may get some photos of the big day?

Unfortunately, I didn't photograph the portraits when they were in their final double mounts - which were silver inner and white outers.   But I hope these give the idea.

The portraits were completed in coloured pencil on grey Pastelmat as I wanted to keep the portraits fairly consistent and Grandmother's outfit, being white, needed a darker background to show it off properly.

My clients wanted to collect the portraits in person so we could say 'hello' properly and it was lovely to share their excitement .... I think it will have been a brilliant wedding!!

Thursday 14 October 2010


A few weeks ago I contacted a local Art Group who meet fortnightly in a hall just 5 minutes drive from my home with a view to becoming a member.  The Group meets fortnightly and tries to alternate between themed drawing/painting meetings and demonstrations.    Most of the Group members seem to be oil or watercolour painters but I was assured that I can do my own thing and take pastels/coloured pencils to the sessions.

I've never belonged to an Art Group before so was a little anxious ... but they were a lovely bunch!

I joined them today for a demonstration in oil painting by professional artist Michael Richardson.   I was amazed by the speed at which he completed a Kentish snow scene  (around 45 minutes) and an oil beach/seascape of a familiar view about 3 miles from my home.  I'd always avoided trying my hand at oils because of the long drying times/smell and mess I associated with the medium.  But Michael rarely uses thinners or oils and his technique seemed to involve working quite small and detailed.   I don't really think its something for me but it was fascinating to watch an expert at work and, of course, lots of his observations about perspectives and colours are relevant to all mediums.

The Chairman of the art group has asked whether I'd be willing to demonstrate coloured pencils at some stage so I'm keen to see how other artists demonstrate - next week I'll be going to a demonstration by Wildlife Artist Chris Christoferou which I'm excited about - I love his 'big cat' paintings!

One big advantage about joining an Art Group or two is getting access to Gallery/Exhibition venues with shared costs.   This local Group is holding an exhibition at Fish Slab Gallery in Whitstable in early November (but as a newbie I didn't like to ask to join them this time - plenty more opportunities in the future).

I am also planning to join the Executive Committee for the UKCPS in some capacity and am looking forward to helping out with next year's Annual Exhibition.  As the UKCPS will be celebrating its 10th year the Society has ambitious plans and the venue will be in London - Opposite Westminster Abbey.   They plan to run workshops and demonstrations alongside the main Exhibition to 'bring coloured pencil art to the attention of the world of fine art'.  So ... exciting (and busy) times ahead for 2011.

Monday 11 October 2010


I took this photo today in better light conditions so the colours are more accurate.

I've put this to one side to begin work 'proper' on another Christmas commission.  I won't be able to show progress reports on my blog for that .. but will no doubt keep flitting back to this Cheetah pic for a little light relief between times.

Sunday 10 October 2010


I thought today would be the day I'd start work on the next Christmas commission - a 3 child portrait.... but the weather was pretty good for a change and David (hubby) decided we should clear the runner beans (and collect the beans/seeds to use next year), empty the greenhouse and generally tidy up in the garden.

So,   as we already have a mega amount of home-made tomato soup in the freezer I thought I'd make a huge batch of ratatouille for freezing in portions.   I've also picked another big basket of pears which will ripen over the next week or so.

Yesterday I made lots of apple and blackberry pies/crumbles which are now in the freezer.

Forgive the rambling ... my point is that after chopping onions, garlic and chillies I always worry that the aromas might transfer to paper ..... you know when you look at eBay most sellers say 'from an non-smoking/non-pet home'  .. or similar ... well I love spicy foods and use a lot of ginger/garlic/onion in my cooking and would hate to get feedback about smelly pictures (!!)    sorry, I know that's a bit extreme but its my excuse for doing no more than outlining the group today.

In between my 'domestic goddess' duties, I did some more work on the Cheetah so here are the progress pics .... David doesn't like it very much - says its too 'fuzzy' but I wonder if that is because I've used a white backing.  In any event ..  I decided to darken the background more (working on the reverse side of the drafting film)  I'm pleased with progress and will add more colour to the body in between commissioned stuff .

This can be as big or small as I like, but I think this is a nice compromise - the mount size is 20" x 16"

I do have a few in-between 'work in progress' pictures but its getting late and I still have 'wifely duties'    .... mainly connected to the dishwasher !!

Back to normal tomorrow and I'll be working on the first of the 'human' commissions for Christmas ...

Friday 8 October 2010


I had kind of planned to start one of the group 'human' portraits today but, whilst I like to use light grey pastelmat for these, I had a last minute change of plan and decided to await delivery of some white pastelmat

... so in the meantime, having cleaned my work area and got rid of all the pastel dust, I thought I'd start another big cat in coloured pencil which can be picked up and put down between commissions - I'm very conscious that I need to finish a couple more pictures before the exhibition at Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable, in November.   This is on translucent drafting film and I'm using a white backing sheet (instead of the black backing I've used for previous cat pictures).

I photographed this Cheetah at the Wildlife Heritage Trust foundation in Kent a couple of years ago ... finally got round to using one of the many photos I came away with.

I'm still not absolutely sure about the choice of white background, but with drafting film you have to commit fairly early as the coloured pencils react differently dependent on the colour of the backing sheet.   So, in for a penny ....

Drafting film is quite unusual to work on as it doesn't take many layers of colours so it isn't possible to blend coloured pencil as much as on more traditional surfaces ... I'll give this a few more days before deciding whether to proceed or not.  This is very early stages, just started this morning .... so it has to get through that dreadful 'ugly stage' before I know if its worth persevering with :o)

Have a great weekend everyone

Thursday 7 October 2010


I've fixed and 're-touched' the pastel and added whiskers to my tiger.   Still not sure about a title??

I plan to take it to the framers fairly soon (probably tomorrow) to stop me 'fiddling' with it more ... so please shout if you see anything glaringly obvious that needs to be tweaked first!    I do need to get back to commissions now although my next 'big cat' picture is planned and waiting in the wings ...

07/10: SHIH TZU CROSS - UPDATE (and a SPIKE photo or two)!

I heard from Scamper's 'mum' today that she has seen the WIP photos on my blog and loves it.  She has pointed out that the ref photo was taken on a 'well groomed' day:o)    Anyway, I had put Scamper's portrait to one side for a while as something was bugging me .. then I realised that having guessed at the 'missing eye' I'd actually drawn it in the wrong place. oops!!

I've rectified it and will now have to to tidy up the pastel a little before 'fixing' the final version.   Scamper's mum is on holiday for a week now so I'll have it ready for her return.

I managed to get a couple more photos of Spike last night ... as you can see he really enjoys his 'grub'.    Obviously the dog food is favourite as he tossed the cheese and peanuts to one side ... but he did finish everything later.   He's a big lad (or at least I think he's male - not sure how you tell really)??

Wednesday 6 October 2010


We got home late afternoon so I photographed the Tiger in slightly better light which shows his colours a little better (still not really true to life .. but I'll wait till he is finished before faffing too much)

and I spent about 40 minutes working on his left paw and adding a 'hint' of body .... I lost the light then so we're back to 'blue tone' photos.

Apart from a hairdressing appointment tomorrow (long overdue) I have a fairly free day so should be able to put the Tiger to bed.   I'll take a good look at him in the morning and do all the necessary tweaking to the fur tones and give him a generous spray with fixative.    I guess that will necessitate 'touching up' all the white areas which will inevitably dull (!!) and then I have to add whiskers etc and figure out how to make them stand out .....

Overall I'm pleased with how quickly this has come together (compared with using coloured pencils) but I still prefer Fisher 400 paper for pastel work as it holds more pastel (in my humble opinion) but  only comes in sand colour which is fairly limiting unless a background is painted in.

OK .... time to chill out.    I just need to prepare Spike's evening meal - tonight he has gourmet dog food, diced cheddar (mild) and chopped unsalted peanuts .... I know, I'm spoiling him!    Actually we have a battle of wills going on at the moment and I'm embarrassed to say the hedgehog is winning!

I'm trying to photograph the little blighter but I can't leave our patio doors open all evening because the crane flies get into the house.   When I open the doors to take the photo the noise alerts Spike and he trundles off at a pretty impressive rate of knots and sulks for an hour or so - all I get is a blurred shot of hedgehog bottom!    Last night I stayed up till 2am (must confess I fell asleep watching the story of Elsa the Lioness) and because I'd left the garden lights on Spike wouldn't come to his food bowl for fear of being photographed.   He must have visited as soon as I retired to bed as by the time we got up  he'd finished the food and turned his bowl upside down in disgust (bless)!!

Tuesday 5 October 2010


I hadn't heard from the UKCPS as to whether my 'Hunting Tiger' picture sold at the Stamford Gallery last month so I 'phoned the Gallery direct and eventually found that YES it did sell!   so I've now passed that information to the man who emailed me to find out whether he could buy the picture direct from me.

There is a possibility that he might be interested in 'Daydreaming Tiger' which wasn't listed for sale at Stamford as I plan to exhibit it at the Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable in November.  I'm waiting to hear from him.

I've got so many Big Cat photos taken at various sanctuaries/zoos etc that I'm really enjoying actually using some of them for exhibition work.

Anyway, more progress on the Tiger.   I've had Hunting Tiger and Daydreaming Tiger - not sure what to call this one - any ideas?   I've got a grumpy tiger in mind for the next one (possibly)

As usual, I'll apologise for the poor photos ..... but it has been drizzly/overcast again all day.   These look a bit 'washed out' and drab but  I'll worry about 'tweaking' the scan to adjust colours when the Tiger is finished.

and one taken a couple of hours prior to this  where I'd worked on the tiger's right paw/leg and some of the shadows etc on the tiger's face/body - well I did say I'd been 'flitting'

Tomorrow we are taking Richard out for lunch (picking his Nan and Sister up en-route) so I don't think I'll be getting any work done as it will be a fairly full day.

So see you again on Thursday :o)

Monday 4 October 2010

04/10: TIGER - WIP

Today I've been working on the tiger I started yesterday.  I've been drawing in fine fur detail using pastel pencils which are being 'eaten' at a great rate of knots on the Pastelmat paper!  I'm having to strengthen the white in places by adding more soft pastel on top so will have to resort to using 'fixative' soon I think.   But first I'll have to clean the surrounding paper with Blu Tack to remove all the stray pastel dust.

These are the latest two photos - they look a bit fuzzy but are the best I can do as the light is poor - If I use flash I get a lot of glare from the white pastel - but you get the idea I hope:

I've finished for the day - this stage is very labour intensive but I hope to crack on with the body/paws tomorrow and do all the final tweaking on Friday .. so still on track for the moment

and especially for Jan, who asked I would take photos along the way as she finds it enlightening to see how I work.     If you're looking in Jan, perhaps you'd like to enlighten me too ...... I never seem to tackle two pictures the same way!!   Because this is a large picture,  my attention span is under strain and I keep 'flitting' around the picture.

Sunday 3 October 2010


Tigers that is, not Kellogg's Frosted Flakes or whatever Tony the Tiger used to advertise ..... who else is old enough to remember the advert/slogan   -   Frosties are Grrreat  ???!!

Tigers seem to be popular just now.     My 'Daydreaming Tiger' was awarded Reserve Best in Show at the UKCPS Open Int'l exhibition (Stamford, Lincs) which closed on Friday.      I've had an email enquiry from a man who visited the exhibition a couple of weeks ago and made a note of my name - he would like to buy my 'Hunting Tiger'  which was also exhibited at Stamford.   But a fellow Coloured Pencil artist who was 'demonstrating' at the exhibition has told me she thinks my picture sold at the exhibition.  So I'm just waiting for confirmation.

On the strength of that, I've started a new tiger ... this one is pretty big.   I originally intended to work it in coloured pencil (or a mixture of pastel and coloured pencil) ... but it just grew bigger and bigger so the choice is made for me.   Pastel covers the paper much faster so for something this size is the better choice I think.   I've selected a few cheetah and leopard pictures from my archived photos so will do some smaller pictures later on using cps.

This is what I got done this afternoon - I'm using soft pastels at the moment to block in areas of black and white and then I'll switch to pastel pencils to work on the finer fur detail.   This is on Clairefontaine Pastelmat in their Dark Grey colour and I'm using a full sheet - approx 28" x 20"

This was taken with flash camera tonight so its not a good photo: