Monday 22 November 2010

22/11: BAD NEWS DAY!

Its been a hectic weekend.  In addition to the usual round of family visits etc., my Mum came to stay for a couple of days so we've taken her out and about - not really ideal weather for visiting the seaside resorts though.  I had to 'man' the Gallery from 12 to 3pm yesterday as my share of the 'rota' so Mum and David sat with me - despite the gloomy, drizzly weather the exhibition attracted a lot of visitors and there were lots of sales of smaller gift items.  

Today has been spent preparing the house for the decorators who will make good/paint all woodwork, walls and ceilings whilst we are on holiday.  The house is 3 years old now so I hope all the 'shrinkage' cracks have stopped appearing.  I've been emptying all the display cabinets, dresser etc so the furniture is lighter to move around ... trouble is I then ended up with crates of glasses and 'best china' and nowhere to store it all!   They won't be decorating my 'studio room' so all mirrors, wallhangings and 'breakables' will be temporarily housed here.

Tonight I heard that a commission I despatched to my client on Thursday has arrived with the glass broken and some damage to the portrait (not sure how bad the damage is yet).   I have used these couriers (Interparcel) many times before with no problem but when I phoned to inform them of the damage they deny responsibility.  Apparently despite having completed the declaration stating what was in the parcel - and paying a higher fee to raise the level of insurance cover - glass items, or items containing glass, are covered for loss only and not damage in transit!   Ironically I have despatched 2 framed/glazed portraits to this same client in the past - 3rd time was not lucky!    I think this episode has convinced me that I will never offer framed portraits unless the portrait can be delivered or collected.  

Tomorrow I have to sort out lots of last minute things at home, remove the pictures from the Gallery (exhibition ends tomorrow) and pack a bag.  We leave for the airport in the early hours of Wednesday .. so I have very little time to work out a solution with my client - much depends on what the level of damage is and whether it has to be re-drawn from scratch .    I'm not a happy bunny!  I will never use Interparcel again!!

I don't even have a happy photo to post today  ....  

so here's a portrait I drew 4 years ago now ..... the older I get the more I sympathise with this character

Saturday 20 November 2010


Today was a real 'eye-opener' for me
I worked in London for years and, as most commuters probably do,  took it all for granted

Today David and I travelled  from Ebbsfleet (Kent)  to St Pancras (High speed rail link) and took the Victoria line underground to Green Park.  It was bliss to escape London Underground and walk through the 'Royal Parks' Green Park and St James Park to Central Hall.

Whilst walking through the parks  don't think we heard one English voice ... which is great as it means tourism is obviously booming and these parks are very close to Buckingham Palace of course.

Anyway ..

Whilst  crossing the road to get to St James Park I photographed a Royal Rolls Royce!!    See the crest on the roof.   The most noticeable thing is that these Royal vehicles don't have registration plates (far too common)!!!

I was going to stretch the truth a little and say that this was the vehicle that was laid on for David and Myself during our daytrip to London!    but it wasn't!!

Shortly afterwards, I took a couple of photos of more iconic figures - our mounted police ladies and gents


I have the greatest admiration for the horses that work in central London, facing riot crowds, heavy traffic etc

and here are a few poor pics of the Central Hall Westminster where the UKCPS 2011 exhibition will be staged.   Its directly opposite Westminster Abbey so today my plans to photograph the place were totally thwarted because the surrounding area had been taken over by papparazzi and TV newsreporters who were camped out awaiting news of where the Royal Wedding will be staged next Spring/Summer ..... I believe Westminster Abbey is favourite with the 'Bookies'.  Nevertheless I did get a few photos - this is an amazing building and it will be a very prestigious venue for the 2011 Annual Exhibition of the UKCPS.

Friday 19 November 2010

19/11: UPDATE

I'd hoped to have started work on an English Mastiff  but have been busy with other things so .. watch this space!!

  Yesterday was the AGM of the local art Group I visited as a guest recently so I attended  and signed up for full membership next year.  Mulled wine and mince pies were served - very jolly!

Then it was off to the Horsebridge Gallery armed with sausage rolls, nibbles and wine ready for the 'Open Night' which ran from 6pm to 8.30pm.

It was packed full which was wonderful.  I think the visitors were more interested in socialising and drinking than buying ... but it was a great atmosphere.  Lots of smaller items - cards and crafts were being purchased but not pictures.

Best news was that I had Red Dots on two of my pictures.   3 pictures had sold on the Exhibition's first day (Wednesday) and 2 of those were mine!!!  It was the horse and the spaniel which sold - smaller pieces, but great news nevertheless - and the exhibition still has 6 days to go.

The 'dad and daughters' picture was despatched by courier yesterday.  It has been shipped in a dark pine wood frame which isn't to my client's taste but fits in with the other furnishings in 'dad's' home.  It was completed in coloured pencil on Clairefontaine Pastelmat

Now I'm just getting ready to 'commute' to London to meet with other Executive members of the UK Coloured Pencil Society.   The Society will celebrate its 10th year by staging a huge Exhibition at Central Hall Westminster in September.  Today's trip is to have a look at the venue (I haven't been there before) and sort out a gameplan.

Wednesday 17 November 2010


'Made in Whitstable' is an internet community/group comprised of 'local creative people'     20 of us are exhibiting works this week at Horsebridge Gallery in Whitstable.

Last night the arts and crafts were assembled/hung/laid out and the exhibition opens today with a Private View tomorrow evening 6pm to 8.30pm (drinks/nibbles being served)

I took a few photos during the hanging process as I'm not sure how practical it will be to do so during the week when the gallery is open to the public - I'm thinking positive that there will be lots of interest as Whitstable is a bustling place (and the Gallery is a nice warm refuge in cold weather - it has its own cafeteria too).  We finished hanging my pictures before many of the others so I haven't got pictures of all the exhibits but there's plenty to see if anyone is in the area.

A lot of the art on display is 'contemporary' and mine looks a little out of place - not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing ... also I know I have too many cats (that will be remedied as I get time to produce more non-commissioned pictures).  I am exhibiting some original pictures for sale, and showing some sample pieces which aren't for sale -  to demonstrate my portrait work and create interest for commissions next year (I will be cutting down on commissions in favour of  exhibition pieces but would still like to have a few on the go)

Its all a learning curve - here is my 'bit of wall'

and my neighbours' exhibits - I don't think they are all hung yet.  Flash photography has shown up all the indentations in the walls but in reality they don't look this bad.   At the end of each exhibition all nail/screw holes have to be filled and painted so the walls are pitted but not as dirty as they look here.

Tuesday 16 November 2010


Our garden visitors are costing an absolute fortune at the moment.  The hedgehogs are shovelling in as much food as they can in readiness for hibernation.  A month ago they were eating 1/3 tin dog food each evening with some peanuts, raisins and grated cheese for interest.  Now we've increased that to 2/3 tin food and extra 'bits'.  They really are gaining weight and looking very 'portly'

We have 7 bird feeders hanging from branches of the fruit trees in our garden.  I replenished all the fat balls on Sunday and they're almost empty again just 2 days later ... I blamed the starlings who arrived in droves yesterday - but now I know who the real culprits are.   3 of the little' tree rats' were raiding the feeders this morning.   I managed to get several pictures of this little beastie as he wasn't worried about the camera

and my final 'wildlife' episode ....

David suggested I should produce a small 'contemporary' picture to include in the upcoming exhibition based on Zebra stripes.    We recently bought some  frames and mounts from Hobbycraft as we were attracted to the shape - they are square rather than traditional oblong shape.  So his bright idea was to draw something to fit one of the frames.  

I cracked on with this cropped study using pastels on Pastelmat for speed.   It didn't meet with his approval - he'd been thinking of something more abstract and done in graphite (I had to 'educate' him that graphite is not a 'fast option' and I am not an 'abstract' kind of woman)!!

The silly thing is, we'd both forgotten that when we purchased the frames and mounts, we didn't purchase the glass.  It was a deliberate decision to keep costs down at the time and facilitate storage at home until the frames were needed.    We don't have a Hobbycraft store close to us so .... here's the 'nearly finished' drawing but it won't be hung with the other pictures tonight.

Saturday 13 November 2010


I photographed Reggie this morning in better light so this is pretty accurate re. colouring.   The portrait has been left in safe hands where it can be collected by Reggie's 'dad' on Monday - hope he likes it

En route to the stables to visit my horse this morning I stopped at a parade of shops to buy a couple of items at the little co-op store.  As I got out of my car I saw a horse cantering down the road towards me straight into oncoming traffic.

I managed to wave down the first car and forced all the traffic to stop and stood in front of the horse who slowed down and came towards me.  He was just a youngster - but around 16hh which is quite big and he was really sweated up and stressed.   Luckily he had a headcollar on and I was able to grab that and lead him off the road but he was so jumpy I struggled to hold onto him.

At that point it struck me that I didn't have a clue what to do.  I could barely hold onto him - I'd already yelled at a truck driver who was loading metal pallets very noisily onto his van which was spooking the horse more.  I shouted to a passer by to help me get my mobile phone from my handbag - thought I could call the girls at the nearby stable yard to drive down with a leadrope or something to give me more control... but the guy just shrugged and walked off.   All the passengers in the stopped cars just stared - nobody came to help.

Now I know that handling horses worries some people, but they could see I needed some help and not one person got out of their car - even to offer to phone the police!!   What a great society huh!

I was wearing sandals and worried about getting stamped on and I couldn't lead the horse to the nearby grassed area as there was a steep grassy bank to negotiate first and I had visions of being towed unceremoniously and being forced to let the horse escape.  Eventually, after what seemed like an hour (probably just 10 or 15 minutes) two burly men came on the scene - they'd seen the horse canter past their nearby 'smallholding' and followed him, armed with a long piece of rope.  I was so relieved.    All they did was tether the horse to a tree on the green to await rescue from his owners.   The horse was tied in view of their property so they promised to keep an eye on him and supply water if/when necessary.    I was shaking for ages afterwards - just thinking what might have happened if the horse had run straight into an oncoming bus or car - its a busy road.   Yuk!!

I think the horse had broken out of his field - he was a coloured horse (but quite fine) and probably what we Kentish folk call a 'pikey' pony - belonging to the traveller/gypsy type fraternity who graze their horses on common land in the County.

I'm aching tonight - had my arm/shoulder wrenched a bit - but what hurts most is the knowledge that not one passerby tried to help!!   Where are all the good samaritans when you need them?

Friday 12 November 2010


Meet Reggie!   A rescue JRT puppy.

This must be one of the fastest pictures I've produced in recent years.  Normally I like to take more time and even work on more than one picture at a time so I don't get 'blinkered' or bored with what I'm doing.  Once finished I like to let the portrait sit for a few days before I call it finished - I don't have that luxury with this picture.  Recent computer hiccups have put me a little behind schedule butI thought I had until Monday to complete this ... Unfortunately,  there's been a change of plan and its required tomorrow - so I outlined Reggie late last night and completed him today.

Luckily this is a fairly small portrait - to fit a 16" x 12" frame and he is soooo cute - he almost drew himself!

I've had to use flash photography this evening so the picture isn't wonderful but I might be able to get a better photo early tomorrow.  I try to update my website gallery periodically so its important to get the best photos I can (my scanner only takes A4 and most of my commissions are larger than that)

I didn't dare stop to keep taking WIP pictures so here's the initial outlining stage

and here's the end result (possibly)  -  tonight's photo :

I know Reggie's owner wants me to do another portrait when Reggie is a bit more 'grown-up' but I'm very happy to have been asked to draw him at this stage in his life.  He was rescued after being rejected because he has a short lower jaw (I think its called an underbite) but it doesn't detract from his cute face or personality does it?

Wednesday 10 November 2010


I've had computer woes this week - my machine has crashed several times daily losing workfiles, and several emails have been bounced back to me for no apparent reason - the rejection notices were stored in a file I don't usually check so it took a while to learn I had a problem.  Frustrating to say the least!

One of the bounced emails was to a client for whom I'm drawing a family group in coloured pencil - it had progress pictures attached for her to review and because of the computer glitch we lost a few days - I'd expected it to be finished by the weekend.   Never mind, all is now well.  The portrait is approved but just needs final tidying up over the next day or so.

Whilst waiting to hear from her, I didn't want to start the next commission which will be in pastel, so I slotted in this coloured pencil portrait which will be 'an example piece' for next week's exhibition at the Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable .

David thinks I have too many wildlife pictures to  display and need a coloured 'human' portrait to balance thing up so I decided on this 'celeb'.   It took a couple of afternoons and is drawn in coloured pencil on white Mellotex card which is not recommended for coloured pencil work - the card doesn't hold many layers of colour and is best used with graphite, but I like its smoothness and lack of 'tooth' and enjoy a challenge now and then!   It was drawn specifically to fit an existing mount and frame - the mount is a rich mottled gold and cream colour and the frame is sort of  matt brass colour which works beautifully together I think.  I'll do the final 'tweaks' tomorrow and then she will be framed, ready to go!

Thursday 4 November 2010


Its been a very busy week and I've fallen behind with my blog but lots has been going on behind the scenes.   I've taken on the role of PR/Advertising Director for the UK Coloured Pencil Society and as a 'newby' have spent a lot of time reading through historical posts on the Executive's forum to get up to speed.     2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the UK Society and there is a fantastic event planned for next September to mark the event.  I'll reveal more later ... but all you coloured artists need to get to work on pictures to submit for next year's Exhibition/s  .... Preliminary Announcements will be made in major art journals/forums over the next few weeks

I still can't show any commission pictures on my blog.  Two are at the framers, I should finish the current 3 person portrait over the weekend and then will start on a cute puppy which is also a Christmas commission but I will be able to show on my blog as the recipient doesn't have access to a computer.

One of my pictures was accepted for the 'Simply the Best' Competition and will be exhibited at the Art Materials Live event at  the NEC Birmingham over the next few days but unfortunately I just haven't got the time to visit the show this year (which will save me lots of pennies)

We had lunch with a friend today and met her new baby ... this is Carly a very boisterous chocolate lab puppy.  She is very exuberant and difficult to photograph but she will be allowed outside from Monday so hopefully will run off some of her excess energy.   After trying unsuccessfully to calm her down I shut myself in the kitchen with her, applied my best Cesar Milan (dog whisperer) technique and she accepted my leadership immediately and posed nicely!   Good old Cesar!

Isn't she cute?

A much better behaved baby is our very own Grand-daughter Sophie Louise who we met 'in person' on Tuesday when she had reached the grand old age of 2 days!

I took loads of photos but because her Mum and Dad haven't seen them all yet will hold fire on posting the best ones ... but I just loved this because there is a 92 year age gap between Great Granny (Doris) and Sophie .. amazing!

and this is Sophie Louise in Granddad (David's) safe arms ... I think she's just worked out he'll be a 'soft touch' in the future ... just flash those eyes at him and she'll get her own way :o)