Tuesday 29 November 2011


I have emailed this latest update to my client and just awaiting feedback.   I did make some minor adjustments after checking measurements etc with a grid but don't want to do any more work on the girls till I hear what their Grandparents think

Sunday 27 November 2011


Today is David's birthday and this is the first time we've spent it in England for many years.   Four years ago (for a BIG) birthday we went to Las Vegas with friends and on 27 November visited the Grand Canyon going the whole hog with plane transfer, helicopter down to the bottom and a boat ride along the Colorado river.   Here's a picture of the birthday boy himself ... sailing on the Colorado river dwarfed by something older than he is/was:

and sitting next to the 'driver' of the plane as a special birthday treat (bless)!!

In successive years we've celebrated his birthday in the sunshine at our house on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands).

This year I have taken on more Christmas work than planned so can't 'escape'.   The day started off windy and grey here in Kent with intermittent drizzle but by lunchtime the sun made an appearance (albeit weak and watery) so I persuaded David to join me for a walk along the beach where we stopped for a late lunch.  We were out for a few hours and the brisk sea breeze certainly blew a few cobwebs away.   OK it wasn't shorts and T shirt weather but for late November in the UK it wasn't  at all bad!

Have to make a mention of this couple of enterprising lads we met on the beach at Whitstable:

Our local beaches are pebble (not sand) and the lads had spelt out the following message in pebbles and left a 'collection' cup alongside.

So we asked them why they thought we should give them money and they 'performed' for us ..... jumping off the wooden boat launch site and somersaulting onto the pebbles ...... no health & safety issues here then!!  

Not sure what their parents would think if they knew what their lads were up to ... but they weren't 'OIKS' they were polite, well spoken and very presentable boys who'd dreamed up this way of earning some cash ...... but those pebbles would be very unforgiving if the boys misjudged their gymnastics!

Anway,   as I'd lost the natural light by the time we got home I didn't want to do much to the girls' portrait - particularly not to skintones.  I did some work on the dresses and here's the latest progress report - its photographed at my workdesk with daylight bulb lamps each side.   Unfortunately, they are different makes of daylight bulb and the light varies (why should that be I wonder if they are both supposed to simulate daylight)??   the right light is more 'white' the left is more 'yellow' as you can see from the photo.

Right, that's it for today .... time to relax for a couple of hours methinks.

Friday 25 November 2011


I had the pleasure of meeting these girls recently as they live just half hour's drive from me so I'd agreed to take my camera and try to get some photos from which we could compose a portrait as a birthday present for their grandmother.    They are absolutely lovely girls.   The youngest was very lively ... bit like trying to photograph a playful puppy but I managed to get a few usable photos.

I photographed them in pretty dresses/cardigans and then in 'royal blue party frocks' at the request of their Nan who likes the way the dresses bring out the lovely colour of their eyes. So the composition is based on two separate photos of the girls in their 'day clothes' and I'll then draw in the blue dresses.

I'm working to a fairly tight deadline but tomorrow I'll have a break (usual round of visiting the 'Old Ladies' plus my horse is having her feet trimmed so I need to be there to pay the farrier).   Its always a good idea to leave a portrait for a while anyway and come back with fresh eyes and  pick up areas that need tweaking ... I'll do some measuring/gridding to check that I've got all the features in place and the right size etc

Oh ... I should add that I'm using pastel pencils on light grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat.    I've decided I prefer the light grey as it means that white highlights/eyes etc show up more than on the white Fabriano paper I used to favour.   Pastelmat is a heavyweight paper with a ground cork surface which gives a slightly 'soft' finish and takes the pastel well.

These 'work in progress' stages are photographed at different times of day in differing light conditions so the colours aren't true but this will be remedied as I get closer to completing the portrait.

OK ... Stage One.   This is big sister .... 

Stage Two ... little sister added

and a little more advanced .... a 'wash' of blue pastel for the dresses.

Lots more to do ... but just an sample of what I've been working on recently .... I still have the dog on my easel looking accusingly at me but I'll get back to her later next week ...

David decided to start the weekend early by opening a bottle of red wine .... but it was HORRIBLE.    During our recent daytrip to France to stock up on 'essential supplies' he was very pleased to find a particular red wine he loves at a very good discounted price.   We bought quite a lot.   Tonight we realised the wine had been discounted because the corks weren't good and crumbled easily.  The wine wasn't very nice.   We don't have enough of this 'poor' wine to justify another trip to return it to the retailer ... so David's idea is to 'boil' - sorry 'reduce' it down  into a usable quantity for inclusion in  the gourmet meals he expects me to produce ...... first pan full has just been bottled ... watch this space !

Wednesday 23 November 2011


Lots of my Blogger friends use 'Wordless Wednesdays' to post brilliant photos etc with no words ... obviously!

Well, we've just got home from our usual Wednesday working as volunteers at the local Pilgrims Hospice eBay office - and we're both mentally exhausted and drained.    So my version is slightly more apt for us ... we are WEARY!

This morning started badly when our window cleaner arrived unexpectedly ... he always sends me a text message announcing his monthly visits a day or so prior to his arrival.    I then realised I hadn't seen my mobile phone since Saturday (I haven't been out since then).   I eventually found the phone under the passenger seat in our car - battery totally dead.   As we were en-route to 'work' at the Hospice eBay office I couldn't charge the phone battery until this evening when I found 7missed messages .... including one telling me my email system wasn't working.   A client I had been messaging regarding her completed portrait had been unable to contact me via email!    AAAAAARGGGGHHH!

I have a lot of tight deadlines to meet for portraits now so may have to 'abandon' Pilgrims Hospice for a couple of Wednesdays - it is incredibly intensive researching/photographing/describing and listing 'better quality' donated items ..... we have to be so careful not to misdescribe items or promote 'fake' brands.   The volunteer 'listers' at our little office are responsible for sales of around £10,000 per month towards the cost of providing Hospice Care for terminally ill patients in our part of the County.

So tonight is relaxation time and tomorrow will be 'nose to the grindstone' .... and trying to sort out why I'm not receiving some of my emails apparently.

I have two double 'human' portraits to work on next .... one is of 2 young girls and the other of 2 slightly more mature ladies.    I am also fitting in a beautiful dog portrait in pastel ..... and I have 2 graphite portraits on the back-burner where I'm doing little bits 'as and when' I can ... they aren't so urgent.

but ....in the meantime here are a few photos taken yesterday.   I noticed a squirrel in one of the apple trees biting through the stalks to make the apples fall to the ground.   I wasn't happy about that as these end of season apples are destined for Roxy  (my horse) and her stablemates at the weekend.   I prefer not to take windfall apples as they are frequently bruised and therefore go mouldy more quickly.  So to distract the squirrels I sprinkled handfuls of peanuts onto the grass .... which kept them busy for hours, burying them in the grass and borders and flower pots ... and just anywhere they could really - bless!.    It has been damp and foggy here for days but (so far) we've not had any frosts and the garden is confused ... we've just harvested the last of our outdoor cherry tomatoes (in November)????   and even found a half ripe strawberry.    Lots of the flowers and shrubs are having an extra 'bloom' ..... perhaps there is something in this 'Global warming theory'  after all :-)

So, some pictures from my garden yesterday and then I'll stop waffling and get back to work tomorrow ...

Its just amazing how many apples are still on the tree in Mid November:

Chrysanths  just love this time of year and are really beautiful just now:

 and of course, this time of year is when the cobwebs appear just about everywhere it seems.

 and some fungi growing between the paving stones!

and the little 'tree rats' who distracted me in the first place

and just one little 'arty' bit .... a sneak preview of the dog portrait I'll be working on between 'humans' during the next week or so

Monday 21 November 2011


I'm still flitting between portraits ... my schedule had to be amended because I'm awaiting feedback regarding compositions of a couple of the 'double portraits' one of which has an early December deadline .. so I'm hoping to hear back this evening to enable me to get started tomorrow.

I've just outlined another portrait - a beautiful dog I'm looking forward to starting as soon as the 'humans' are underway/completed

I'm awaiting feedback from the client regarding this portrait of his daughter and her dog

I've also done a little bit more on one of the graphite portraits but am struggling to see the curls in her hair as the photo isn't terribly clear ...

When I had a 'proper job' I had to be ultra-organised as my Office Manager role involved early starts and late finishes frequently.  After work I changed into 'horsey' clothes and drove to the stables to ride/groom my horse then home to cook the evening meal (which was normally prepared the day before) and we ate around 8.30pm every night. I didn't watch TV as most evenings were spent drawing or catching up on  'household' stuff.

Now, I don't have to go to the office every day ... but I've obviously slowed up in my 'old age' and struggle to keep on top of things at this time of year with shorter days and lots of Christmas orders to complete.  I do think the internet is partly to blame as I always have the BBC news running in the background and listen to the local radio station broadcasting from Corralejo, Fuerteventura so I can join in with the quiz/competitions and keep up with what our friends out there are up to.  I'm easily distracted :-)

I did manage to mow the lawns on Friday which was quite an undertaking as the grass was wet and long and full of fallen apples  ... but housework has taken a back seat I'm afraid.

This is what my studio looks like at the moment ... I've got four portraits awaiting collection/despatch in the next couple of weeks and several framed pictures which are still propped up against the walls where they were stacked following exhibitions in September/October ... and several boxes of mounts/frames which need to be sorted and tidied away.   I'm posting this picture to embarrass me into doing some much needed tidying in the next few days!


Watch this space ..... !!!

Tuesday 15 November 2011


It has been a busy couple of days .... but pretty productive and as I'm out all day tomorrow (Pilgrims Hospice voluntary job) I thought I'd risk overloading this post and sending you all to sleep!

Here in the UK we're gradually switching from analog TV to digital TV - working according to postcode (zip) areas.   My Mother's current bedroom TV will not work from April 2012 when the switchover happens in her area so what better Christmas present than a new bedroom TV - saves me hours of wandering round shops looking for pressies ... but life isn't that simple.    We bought a TV and delivered it on Saturday ... plugged it in but no signal ... we bought an indoor aerial (another £25) and drove to Mum's yesterday ...  after an hour or so wiggling it round and holding it high and low we found the optimum reception spot - about 6 foot up in the corner of her bedroom ... so a shelf must now be fixed on which to stand the aerial .....  I guess I may end up building the shelf as David is not a DIY man and I'm not sure I can stand the moaning/bad language!!

We also visited Roxy my 'old girl' as she has an embarrassing problem - well she isn't embarrassed but I am!   My horse had lice/mites!   She's had itchy legs for a while which I tried to treat with 'Front Line' spray but the problem got worse and she has sores on legs and hooves so the vet has prescribed ointment which should clear the problem before the onset of wet/muddy winter weather.     Actually this is a fairly common problem with horses who have 'feathers' on their legs.    Before she was retired I always kept Roxy's winter coat  clipped off for work - so no feathers.   Now she is retired she stays 'au naturel' and hairy!!

Anyway, on to arty stuff:

I heard back from my client that he loved Shona's hair/eyes but thought her mouth wasn't right.     I thought it was pretty accurate based on the ref. photo but the photo I posted a few days ago does exaggerate the white highlights, particularly round the mouth and hubby (David) had already commented on those.  So I scanned the picture (rather than photographing it) and got a more true image.

out of interest, David spent some time 'playing' with a computerised grid programme to compare the original ref. photo and my portrait and this is what he came up with.   It was really useful for me as, although I'm pretty pleased overall with the accuracy I had made her ear lobes too big and I need to reduce the 'lip liner' effect and soften the edges of her lips.

A portrait drawn from a photograph is always going to be an artist's representation of that photo, hence here I have brightened the highlights in the eyes which is something I find myself doing frequently to add more 'life' - or at least that's my perception ....

So I've now altered her ear and softened the edges to her lips (not shown here) and my client is happy!!

and ...... there's more ....

this is where I am with the double portrait I started a few days ago .. pastels on light grey pastelmat paper.  I now need to contact my client with a link so he can see the WIP pictures and comment ....

 Here' I've worked on the dog a little more ... defying all the rules which say 'work left from right if right handed' etc ..... I'm flitting all over the place working on bits that catch my attention :-)

His fur was very deep/rich colour so I'm using lots of different shades of reds and browns

more work on strengthening the colours in his coat/fur

Now bored with dog fur/coat ..... moved back to 'human' and added a little more colour to her hair and started work on strengthening colour of blouse which is slightly more red than pink in the reference photo ... I could never use this as a tutorial as I've broken just about every rule in the book I think :-)   and so what!!??

I should also add that these are all photographs ... taken at different times of day in varying light conditions 

Monday 14 November 2011


The moment the Penguins' Holiday photo was ruined .......

Sunday 13 November 2011


Had a lazy day today ... think I'm starting a cold as I have a sore throat and general 'thick head'  so haven't attempted anything strenuous like mowing wet grass or sweeping up fallen leaves - both jobs are overdue but will keep!

The black lab portrait has been packed up ready for despatch tomorrow.

The Lapphund portrait mounted and framed ... I'll be hand delivering this one - meeting the client mid way between his place and mine - he's in Sussex - I'm in Kent, approx 90 miles apart.

apologies for the poor photography but the light was fading - I just wanted to give a feel for the 'finished' portrait.

Here's the first 'work in progress' picture of a portrait I hadn't expected to start till after Christmas .. but things have changed and I've brought this one forward a bit ....

Pastels on light grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat:

the light grey pastelmat paper is very light grey and not as blue as it appears here .... when the portrait is more advanced I'll try scanning it to show the colours more accurately.   This is really just to prove I'm not wallowing in self-pity with 'man-flu'   ......   :-)

Friday 11 November 2011


Its gone quiet on the 'client contact' front this week - feedback still awaited for 2 portraits and photos outstanding for another.   So I've had a bit of a 'juggle' and this afternoon outlined and started work on a double portrait I'd expected to start after Christmas ... got to keep the momentum going!    I'll show some WIP pics when its a little further advanced.

In the meantime here's a graphite drawing I've got 'on the go' as its easier for me to work on non-colour pictures once the daylight disappears.   So this is coming along very slowly as I'm working on it in short sessions.  It isn't required till after Christmas but I expect it to be completed long before then.

The ref photo is an old passport picture so not big or clear but there's enough detail for me to see her features.  My problem is the ornate hairstyle which is very dark in the photo so there will be more than a little 'artistic licence' involved

Its drawn on bright white Mellotex paper but as usual the photos look blue - I will be making lots of adjustments to her lip and skintones along the way but want to get the dark hair a little further advanced which will help me to work out the balance. 

Right that's me finished for the day - have a great weekend everybody.       We had a Royal visit today - well the Queen and Prince Philip visited Margate which is close to us ... I didn't have a car today so couldn't take a look.   I understand the local council scurried round cleaning/painting and 'tarting up' the town and the smelly seaweed was removed from Margate Beach in case it caused a 'right royal stink'   :-)

Thursday 10 November 2011


Well I'm not sure this looks much different to the previous update but I've worked more on her jumper which in the ref photo is bright white .. but I quite like the effect of the paper showing through.   I've added freckles and more skintones and adjusted the colours in her hair.   In the ref photo her fringe (bangs) really are much redder than the rest of her hair so I've tried to compromise a bit.   I have one other ref photo taken when she was a few years younger and her hair is more blonde than red.   Again, much will depend on the client's wishes.

I had intended to call it a day here and email my client for approval/critique  .... but David just looked at the picture on screen and said it looks as though she has white claw marks down her cheek!   So I'll be making some adjustments tomorrow when the light is better - smoothing out those lines although I think the camera has picked up on the highlights and exaggerated them - I'm sure they aren't that pronounced in real life.

Happy Days!

Wednesday 9 November 2011


Here's one I prepared earlier

Knowing I wouldn't be home today (voluntary job at Pilgrims Hospice eBay shop) I just couldn't resist writing this Blog Post (yesterday)

David came home this afternoon (yesterday now) and prodded me in the back ... inviting me to guess what he was holding ... guaranteed to bring tears to my eyes !!!!!    Well, really HOW RUDE!!

Here's the 'offending' object:   -  it looks slightly strange as its wrapped in cellophane/clingfilm  here

Well, its something I've been craving for some time - I just love horseradish ... but unfortunately its not easily grown in the UK and we have to settle for the wishy washy creamed horseradish we find in jars in the supermarket.  But BLISS!!   David saw this root for sale, immediately thought of me and purchased it!!    I just love the stuff (and even mix it with mustard for a further kick sometimes)!

Now if you've never tried to grate this wonderful root - be warned!!!   It will make your eyes and nose burn and must be treated with extreme caution and only grated in a room with good ventilation - hence my Blog title.       David used the food mixer/blender but ... even so ... it definitely reduced him to tears and made him choke!!    So ... as I said, No greater (grater) love etc....

But I found a way to show my gratitude ......

I went to school in the days when we had morning assemblies and it was considered important to learn the three Rs ... to have to recite multiplication tables forwards and backwards and have class spelling tests (with no holds barred - to hell with the kids who struggled - we can't all hold back for your sake - life's a bitch) etc ....  At my primary/junior school some of the lessons were broadcast via special school radio programmes.   One such  English lesson struck a nerve with me - so much so that I memorised  the poem we heard and I still remember it perfectly today - periodically I reel it out for David's edification.   He hates this poem - or at least he hates it when I start reciting

David has no soul and no appreciation of the fact that 43 years on I'm still word-perfect ...   Hilaire Belloc's book 'Cautionary Tales For Children' was published in the UK in 1907 but I'm sure it must still appeal today with its tales of naughty children being devoured by lions or crushed by falling statues .... I played this audio link today and I'm 100% word perfect - how amazing is that?  especially when I barely remember what happened yesterday!

Still have to convince David who cringes if I start reciting ... There was a Boy whose name was Jim ... etc
If you want to hear the whole tale - click the link below

Hilaire Belloc Cautionary Tales for Children

Apparently a revised version of the book is available through Amazon ... I'm very tempted!   There are a lot more lessons to be learned

Tuesday 8 November 2011


Some more progress on Shona's portrait today.    I've decided I DO like the colour background 'as is' but obviously the final decision will rest with my client.

I'm having a little trouble with the brighter highlighted areas of her face as the pale pink and white pastels seem to disappear into the fabric of the pastelmat after a couple of hours (I'm sure its not my imagination)!!  I believe pastelmat is a ground cork surface so perhaps it really does absorb the pastel ??

Has anybody else experienced this?   Would a light spray of fixative help do you think?

I'm out for the day tomorrow (my Pilgrims Hospice eBay Office 'job') so won't be drawing ....

Monday 7 November 2011


I heard back from my client this morning that he thinks the likeness is perfect and there's nothing to change.   So I added the final touches - a few whiskers etc., and finished the paving stones in the foreground and here he is:

I photographed the portrait with a double mount laid loosely on top to give an idea how the finished portrait will look - the mount is white with a black inner

but then I found another double mount which is ivory with a plum coloured inner and I think this works better as it picks up the pink tones in the paving slabs (apologies if you can't see the pink tones ... joys of technology I'm afraid)!

so now, on to the first of the human commissions ....

When I first started portraying 2 legged subjects I worked in graphite only and then gradually moved onto to coloured pencils (but only if the references were very clear). 

For some reason I never wanted to try pastels for human subjects ... until now that is.    I decided to use some of the pastelmat I've had sitting around for ages as it is quite brightly coloured (and looks even more so in artificial light).    I figured that I can easily put  in a simple pastel background and cover the original paper colour if I think its too bright later on - in my reference photo the background is mottled blue/grey.    

I'm using Sienna coloured pastelmat and I selected it as I thought it would provide a good base colour for my subject's beautiful hair/skin colouring.    And, so far so good (fingers firmly crossed)  ... I'm even thinking I may leave the paper colour 'as is' ... early days yet but this is where I got to this afternoon:

I had to give up as the light is so poor this evening .. I have 2 daylight bulb/lamps but still struggle with colours.   I've outlined another 'human' who is to be completed in graphite so in theory I can work on it in the evening light - but not tonight

Sunday 6 November 2011


I don't want to bang on about these mini prints ... especially as Peter Williams (Mighty Fine Art) has blogged about his and presented them so beautifully on little easels .... but I have now put a few of mine into mounts/cellophane and here they are  'tastefully displayed' on the floor - I just need to add my signature:

Here's one framed .... standard 'off the shelf' 8" x 10" frame

I've spent a few more hours working on the labrador today and have got to the stage where I need feedback from the client.

As you may recall, the dog has lost his eyesight so I need guidance as to whether to portray him as he looks now or to make his eyes slightly less 'cloudy'  its a sensitive point and I have often been asked if I think its best to portray an older pet as a 'younger animal' or 'as they are now - warts n all'.

I don't know the answer to that .. it really has to be the decision of the pet owner.  Personally I wouldn't want to portray Roxy (my elderly horse) as she is now .... she has more grey hairs than me!   But equally, I don't have many good photos of her as a young lady - 20 years ago we didn't have the benefit of digital cameras etc., and I have hundreds of useless photos where she turned her head/flicked her ears/closed her eyes at the critical moment .... you know how it is when trying to photograph our horses/dogs/cats :-)

So ... this is where I finished this afternoon

These WIPs (work in progress) are all photographs taken in differing light conditions as we've had a few computer hitches and I didn't want to waste time playing with the scanner/scan programme.

I know I've said this before but in reality the picture doesn't look as blue as shown - although I have used many layers of blue/mauve/grey/red in the coat.   This is definitely a problem when showing artwork - scans/photos are taken close-up whereas in real life the portrait would usually be viewed at a slight distance and the overall perception will be very different.

Friday 4 November 2011

04/11: THE BEST LAID PLANS ......

The Best Laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry  - or if you are Scottish and a purist I believe the actual words are 'The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley'    and I make no apologies for quoting Robbie Burns way ahead of the usual anniversary date 25 January ... it just seemed more appropriate now  ....

David was out all day so my goal was to work on (possibly finish) the black labrador pastel portrait.  But I've had parcel deliveries, phone calls, emails and visitors - no end of distractions.     Here's an update on the lab who is many hours away from completion yet:

Despite what I said in earlier posts, this has been photographed (not scanned) and it has picked up far too many blue tones .. I won't adjust anything yet as I hope to have more progress pics on Sunday.  But at least I did make a little progress.

Now for the excuses ..... 2 lengthy phone calls from commission clients - difficulties with getting good photos etc

Courier delivery:     Following my recent post about mini photo prints from Photobox (thanks to Peter Williams - Mighty Fine Art)  -  I received the mount packs (mounts/backing card/cellophane bags) today from Kadinsky Art and I'm very impressed with their service.   Ordered online yesterday (with a phone call from them to clarify part of my order) and delivered today - beautifully packaged, extremely good value and top class service.  I've been 'playing' this evening with displaying some of the mini prints in the mount packs and they work beautifully.  

A huge thank you to Tim and Louise Fisher for my 'prize' pack of Fisher 400 paper - so beautifully packaged it took me 20 minutes to get to the 'goodies'

Phone call from the Vet ... we've overlooked payment for Roxy's last treatment (flu & tet jab.  The invoice arrived when we were on holiday.      David's excuse is that he wants them to repossess Roxy following non-payment of bill  (he is not flavour of the month now)!!

and finally a blast from the past ...... an email from JILL who we met more than 8 years ago at a remote resort in Greece (with her 'then' man).  She has just returned from  her 9th visit where she met a couple who suggested she holidayed in Fuerteventura next time.   

 Jill has just booked a holiday on Fuerteventura in January 2012 and remembered we had bought a house there.    David and I will be there for a few weeks from 1 January so I then spent a few hours exchanging emails working out distances between her apartment complex and our place .... and setting the scene to avoid girlie embarrassment about inevitable appearance changes in the last 8 or 9 years (thankfully we've both admitted to putting on a stone or two)!! 

As we were:

hmmmm!! I still have that dress in my wardrobe ... and can just about fit into it. Need new clothes!!! note to David :-)

Thursday 3 November 2011


Do you remember The Reduced Shakespeare Company's claim to fame  'Three guys, one dead playwright, and 37 plays, all in under two hours'  ??    The troupe who managed to compress the complete works of Shakespeare into about an hour and 40 minutes of high-speed over-the-top theatre?

Well so much has been going on in my life I thought I'd attempt something similar ... so - in a nutshell here's what I/we have been up to (in addition to the usual charity/volunteer work I/we do):

Caught up on 3 weeks worth of snail/email correspondence 

Grand-daughter's first birthday  (Halloween baby)  done (Brownie points all round)!  Sophie Louise threw a wonderful party even if there wasn't any jelly/ice cream for Grandad!!

Calendars showing my artwork designed, ordered and delivered (family Xmas stocking pressies)

Personalised Christmas cards designed based on our own photos taken in/around Whitstable ... ordered - for delivery early December.

 I took up Peter Williams' invitation to join Photobox and receive 50 photo prints free of charge.  Peter (Mighty Fine Art) presents his photoprints beautifully with mounts/backing boards and they are in demand at exhibition and artfairs.

My photoprints arrived - I ordered 2 each of 25 pictures to see how they looked.  A few of them had a decidedly pink cast so I emailed Photobox and I was amazed to get a response within a couple of hours.  They checked my original artwork and agreed that the problem was at their end and they would reprint the whole order for me FOC.       I hadn't expected that response but I'm now a huge fan.   Things do go wrong in life but if Photobox Customer Service is that good I certainly have no qualms about dealing with them again.

Unlike Peter, I don't cut my own picture mounts but I found a wonderful frame/mount supplier who is doing an excellent deal with 25 mounts/backing boards/cellophane bags for just £9.99 .... so they arrive tomorrow and I'll have yet another little job to complete before the next art fair!

I'm still attending the spine clinic 3 times per week for treatment which is time consuming but I'm now just about back into a routine with my artwork ... about time too as I have lots of work to get on with.

Here's the latest update on the beautiful Finnish Lapphund I started before I went on holiday.   She has been approved so I just need to add the final whiskers, sign the picture and 'fix' the pastel.    It  has been an absolute pleasure to portray her as she is so beautiful.  She is intended as a Christmas Gift but I have permission to show progress on my Blog.

The Manchester Terrier has undergone several changes.   She has such a shiny black coat that the bright reflections can appear 'grey' or white ... this was a scan taken a few days ago (forgive the weird shape as we are trying out a new programme to allow us to 'stitch' scans where the subject is larger than our A4 scanner - not quite got the hang of it yet)

I was asked to make the nose and neck fur much darker so I toned down all the white highlights.   She now looks much darker but I'm awaiting feedback from my client before proceeding to add final touches like whiskers etc.

As daylight hours are severely curtailed at this time of year I'm planning to scan my Work in Progress pictures rather than trying to photograph them.   I have an old scanner that takes A4 sized pictures but am experimenting with programmes that allow 'stitching' so I can scan my pictures in pieces and then put them all together again  -   (to be honest ... its David who is doing the experimenting/testing).    Scanning is a bit 'warts & all' in that it shows all the tiniest detail in the artwork ... not sure if that's good or bad as I think most art looks better when you stand back a few feet to look at it ... but the scan does show all the subtle colours in the fur/skintones which can be lost when photographing art.    Jury's out on this at the moment!

I've done about an hours work this afternoon on the black labrador but gave up when my computer crashed for the umpteenth time and wiped out PaintNet ... one of my favourite programmes for manipulating photos to enable me to see more detail.

David has spent days trying to work out what is going wrong with my computer ... something in the background is causing horrendous problems but we can't get to the bottom of it.    The Help Desk that we pay monthly for can do little but advise us to take the computer back to factory settings .... Yeah right!!

My next commissions will be human subjects 4 in a row (unless I decide to slot in one of the four legged babies if I need some light relief)!!

I'm still missing the sunshine and the extra daylight hours in Fuerte .... but I think I have at last acclimatised and stopped shivering!