Monday 31 December 2012


Wishing all my Blogging friends and followers a Very Happy New Year.  

See you in 2013


Oops!  I put a note on my website saying I'm fully booked with commissions till end January but forgot to post a message here on my Blog.
so here's 'Grace' a beautiful poodle I drew in coloured pencil earlier this year in a suitably festive frame ..... Bah Humbug!!

I'm now taking orders for February 2013.

Sunday 30 December 2012

30/12: ROLL ON 2013

2012 is not ending on a good note.

94 year old Mother-In-Law fell and broke her shoulder and hip in September then I had to have Roxy, my horse,  PTS in November.  Our elderly neighbour had a nasty fall 2 weeks ago and is currently in a care home until Thursday when she'll be allowed home under supervision to assess if she will be able to cope in the future.  On Friday we learned that David's Aunt (his Mum's younger sister) has fallen and broken her hip (more hospital visiting for us) and yesterday we were told that the husband of a couple we met regularly in Fuerteventura passed away unexpectedly on 27th December.   There have been a couple more sad events which I won't elaborate on ......  some lovely happenings also, but they seem to have been overshadowed by recent events and the miserable wet weather etc.

I don't think I'm jinxed but next year I might just join my hedgehog family and hibernate for the Winter period.  

2013 MUST be a better year!

Anyway ..... for the first day since we got home from Fuerteventura, the weather was dry and inviting enough to tempt us out for a walk along the beach path.     Hundreds of other people had the same thought and the place was buzzing.   It was very windy but we managed a couple of hours before the rain started again.

It was great to blow a few cobwebs away

We walked into Whitstable which has a traditional working harbour - it has become a firm favourite with the DFLs (Down from London's) who come for the oysters and seafood making it a trendy (and expensive) place to visit or eat in.

Not exactly pretty, but very picturesque in its own way

now, a 'proper artist' would probably get quite excited about views like this .... tangled nets and ropes galore here

I did take a few like this so maybe they will find their way onto my drawing board at some stage

Not everyone enjoyed the fresh air and shingle beaches - this little mutt did not want to get too close to that cold wet stuff

whereas this one did!

and promptly shared the wet stuff with mum - bless!!

She wasn't amused ... but I don't think he was worried about the scolding - just look at that glint in his eye

as always, the seagulls were having fun in the wind.   They 'play'  facing into the wind so they just hover in one place and don't go anywhere.   We've been watching them from our house every day in the recent high winds - the only birds who ventured out.     Here's a group of them next to the yacht club and the old fishermens' cottages.

Quite an amazing trick just hanging there in the air!
Youngsters can do it as well

When it all gets a bit much - just find a convenient groyne and park yourself - standing room only here

but leave it too late and you get a lower perch with no sea view 

Well I feel much better after our walk and we got home before it really started to rain too heavily.   I think the forecast is pretty grim for tomorrow but I will be back at the drawing board with the next commissions.

We're being old and boring tomorrow and staying home where we'll see the old year out with a bottle of bubbly and some nibbles.  

Friday 28 December 2012


I've been away from the drawing board for a couple of days entertaining family etc - oh and I delivered the portrait of Manny (the horse) as I discovered my client lived relatively close to Mother-in-Law so it made sense to hand deliver it rather than entrust it to the Post Office at this time of year.

We visited friends we haven't seen since the Summer late afternoon yesterday.   It was meant to be a short visit but somehow stretched to 4 hours.  We had a great time (especially David as I was driver for the day so he got to have a few beers whilst I stuck with the diet coke)!!

Today I worked more on the 'sepia' portrait.     Stupidly, a couple of days ago I decided to put in a very simple background with watercolour pencil and brush over it with a damp brush .... Canson MiTeintes paper obviously doesn't like being wetted and instantly buckled up.     So I've had it laid flat with a heavy drawing board on top and that has helped.    An artist e-friend suggested using a warm iron on the back of the paper but I'm reluctant to do that in case it 'melts' the coloured pencil - I'm using mostly wax based pencils. 

I'm going to take a break from the picture now and let it spend a few more days being 'flattened'.   That will also give me time to think about whether I'm going to add the final touches or re-do it in graphite ...

I photographed it in a white mount which is a bit too 'bright'

and again in a dark brown mount

David prefers the dark mount but I'm not sure what colour frame would work with it.   I've since found a cream mount which I quite like and which would sit nicely in a brown/wood frame - but its too dark to photograph it now. 

So lots of decisions to make in a couple of days.

Meantime I've got to get myself ready to start the next 'human' portrait - which is a family group.   I'm just waiting for one more ref. photo and trying to decide whether to use Pastelmat and pastels, or coloured pencils - or both.

I used to be decisive .... now I just don't know   ;-)

Monday 24 December 2012


Well its been such a nasty day weatherwise we haven't felt like walking or doing anything outdoors.
I started this portrait today.

Originally I was going to work in graphite pencil on Mellotex paper but following a recent 'discussion' with fellow Blogger Laura Hardie about using coloured pencils on Canson Mi Teinte paper I rooted out my Canson pack that hasn't seen the light of day for a couple of years (I got disenchanted with the paper after discovering Pastelmat and Fisher 400 which I much prefer).

So I thought I'd have a play on an off-white shade of Mi Teinte and give the drawing a sepia look.  The paper isn't quite as dark as it looks here (joys of photographing under artificial light).   This is where I left off when it got dark (about 4pm). 

Jury is still out but I'm enjoying it so far.  I am 'colouring' the background also so it looks a bit disjointed just now.    If I mess up, then its back to Graphite - I don't have to have it finished till mid-January so there's time to change my mind.

I'm using a selection of coloured pencils - Derwent Studio, Van Gogh and Caran D'ache Prismalos because these are slightly harder than the Prismacolors and I hope they won't 'soak into' the paper as much - which is the problem I was discussing with Laura.   So far, so good!

The next 'human' portrait has 5 subjects so will be a real challenge.  I'm just waiting to hear whether my client wants to change the photo of one of the subjects so we can settle on the composition.   That will be one for after the holidays!

So have a brilliant holiday everyone  :-)

Sunday 23 December 2012


Are you all prepared??   4 days and it will all be over for another year .....

David and I aren't Christmassy people - hate all the hype!   We will have a quiet day at home by ourselves on Christmas Day but will visit/entertain family for a couple of days from Boxing Day.   We haven't even put the tree up this year!   We did our food shopping on Friday and apart from forgetting the prawns for the Boxing Day starter I think we came through it all relatively stress-free!

This afternoon I did a bit of work on the horse portrait but will need to get a better photo in daylight tomorrow to email to my client - this is the best I could achieve under artificial light.   Manny's 'mum' agreed I could show his eye so just need to find out if she is happy with this.     Manny has been clipped out and I think his whiskers have also been clipped so I haven't added them (yet)

Once he is finished and approved its onto the human subjects ...

I'll probably fit in another post before Christmas but, if not, I wish all my e-friends and fellow Bloggers a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Saturday 22 December 2012


What a great boost for coloured pencil artists (and Caran D'Ache of course - and may I say that I love their Prismalo Pencils) hint hint!!

The classic Christmas animated film 'the snowman' celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion a sequel has been made and will be screened on Christmas Eve.

The Sequel is called 'the snowman and the snowdog' and runs for 24 minutes.   It has been entirely hand-drawn using Caran D'Ache coloured pencils. 

Numbers vary a little depending on which interview you read/watch but more than 70 artists were employed and each had to produce 1 second's worth of viewing/film per day.    Between 12-24 drawings went into 1 second of film.   In total the film used 200,000 bits of paper and 5,000 pencils.

The Director explained that they thought about using PhotoShop or computer generated images but these just couldn't match the soft, magical look achieved with 'crayons' .... yeaaaaay!

and I have done more work on the Horse portrait and will show the update later this weekend.

Friday 21 December 2012


Well, we got back to England last night so goodby sunshine for a few weeks and hello Winter Skies.  Mustn't complain, although we had a slow drive home through torrential rain and rush hour traffic, the weather today is quite mild and no rain (so far).

This Nativity Scene was photographed at Fuerteventura Airport yesterday morning, it was behind glass so difficult to photograph without getting reflections from all the bright lights from the airport shops

notice anything different?

Yep.  Its behind glass because its in an aquarim.   The concourse at Fuerteventura Airport has a floor to ceiling aquarium full of colourful fish.  Must confess I'm so used to seeing it now I usually pass by without really looking at it but some bright spark has set up a nativity scene on the bed and it was quite surreal watching the fish dart in between all the figurines.

These shepherds are so busy watching the bright star they haven't noticed the fish!

The three wise men brought Frankincense, Myrrh and Goldfish ?!

I took lots more photos but won't bore you ....

and some fluffy white clouds through the plane window - think these were over Portugal (or thereabouts). 

Its funny seeing clouds from above and reminds me of that lovely 60s song 'Both Sides Now'

Tough decision which version I like best - Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins, but I think Judy's version wins (for me)

Tuesday 18 December 2012


Just realised this is my 500th post!!!   

One week till Christmas Day and not feeling at all festive - but enjoying the lovely sunshine here on Fuerteventura.  We've had a fantastic break,  met up with friends - eaten/drunk far too much and still 2 more evenings out to come.   Tapas tonight with Catwoman, our cat rescue friend and tomorrow Curry with a Group of 'ex pat' friends.   Batteries are recharged and I'm itching to get back to some artwork now.

In the meantime, I just wanted to share a couple of videos that have been forwarded to me and which made me laugh.


and a bit of romance:

Normal service will be resumed on Friday as I'll be back at the drawing board and have the horse portrait to finish and lots of 'human' commissions to tackle next.

Saturday 8 December 2012

08/12: ALL'S FAIR ......

Shouldn't be doing this as we're leaving for the airport in about 8 hours and  need to deliver Xmas cards locally, take the recycle bins out, eat and get a couple of hours sleep before we leave home at 'silly hour' (2.30am departure for 6.10am flight).

Thanks for all the tips and advice etc re. pesky squirrels - I coated the peanut feeder in Cayenne pepper but despite squirrels supposedly not liking the taste (birds don't mind) they've carried on with their demolition work.

David's idea for a squirrel proof feeder:

I love the look of these 'Twirl a Squirrel' devices which are activated by the weight of the squirrel on the feeder  ... but they are expensive and the reviews are very mixed about their durability.   Good for a laugh though.  In most videos I've seen the squirrel falls off fairly quickly ... but this one is hanging on in there LOL

Right, that really is all from me

Friday 7 December 2012


After the snow/ice we had on Wednesday, today saw torrential rain and high wind and grey, gloomy sky.  I've had the daylight bulbs working all day but really don't enjoy drawing under those conditions.    Not a huge amount of progress on the horse but I called a halt to work and emailed a photo to my client for consideration.   Working from a variety of ref photos I need to know I've got the marking placed correctly and, of course, there's the consideration of the forelock and how much eye (if any) can be shown.

This is photographed under artificial light so the colour is a bit bleached ...

and more rodent rants .... despite the horrible weather today the squirrels were on a mission to get into the rustic peanut feeder David bought yesterday .... I wouldn't have believed they could chew through wire so easily ... I'd have expected them to work on the rope first but they are very enterprising.  They've almost demolished the bottom strip of wire mesh

and enjoying his ill-gotten gains

We are heading off to our home on Fuerteventura on Sunday for a few days so you'll be pleased to know there won't be any more squirrel posts for a while - unless our house-sitters decide  to forward some photos to me LOL

David spent a day at the Pilgrims Hospice eBay office today (where we both do voluntary work on Wednesdays).  He came home with one of these each for us - a home-made gift from the Office Manageress.   Cute isn't it?

There are chocolates and sweets inside so I wonder how long it will be before David has finished his and started on mine as I haven't got a sweet tooth?   I might just eat the little chocolate snowman from the outside stocking though :-)

My next post will be from somewhere around 25 degrees warmer than here (not that I'm gloating) ... we won't necessarily have sunshine as the weather has been a little 'iffy' recently but so long as its warm I really don't mind cloud or a few showers!

Thursday 6 December 2012


I'm struggling a bit with the horse picture as the main ref is cropped down from a photo showing two horses and there is very little detail to work from.    I do have other pictures which show more but having to use ears from one, eye from another, markings from a third makes it a bit of a challenge.   My client likes the main ref photo as the horse's forelock falls over his face and he's peeping out from under it.  Problem is that it hides his eye so although she thinks it looks cute/cheeky I'm going to try to persuade her to let me rearrange the forelock slightly to reveal the eye (or part of it) as I think the eyes add personality ... but the client is always right so I'll do as I'm told LOL

This is where I've got to - pastels on Fisher 400 sanded paper

and I'm now disenchanted with the squirrels ....

I know I've always excused their bad behaviour/thieving habits because they keep me amused ... but now their antics are becoming expensive.

Two seed 'bells' stolen at the weekend and now one of the new seedfeeders has been wrecked.  A fellow Blogger, Bev, had the same thing happen to her where the squirrels chew at the plastic 'plugs' which surround the holes where the birds get the seeds.  They enlarge the holes so all the food falls to the floor.   

Today we replaced that feeder with one that has metal plugs and perches ... lets see the little bu**ers chew through that!    David also bought a peanut feeder because he liked the appearance of it - its a wooden and wire mesh contraption supported on a hessian rope so wonder how long before that gets demolished?   I think we are going to reinforce the rope by adding another handle - probably staple a length of metal chain to the wooden holder.

I still like to think they look cute - and I really must draw one soon as I have so many photos:

But .... word's obviously got out that we have lots of feeders on our trees and this afternoon there were four of them wolfing down the bird seeds/fatballs ... never seen that many in one go before.   I think we're under siege now.

06/12: SNOW JOKE!

Well, yesterday's light coating of snow managed to bring the South East to its knees again!!   Our half-hour journey to the Pilgrims Hospice office where we do voluntary work took 1½ hours - mainly because of cars (BMWs in particular) which couldn't cope on slippery roads.

The snow hadn't actually been forecast and it came early in the morning and settled on the roads which were already wet/icy so black ice was the biggest problem.  We passed crashed vehicles and some that simply couldn't get a grip and make it up hills.   There was a 10 car pile-up just minutes from where we live although we didn't witness that and thankfully there were no injuries (just a few dented cars).

Rain came by lunchtime and most of the snow cleared by mid afternoon although its still very cold.

Some pictures taken of our first Winter Snow.  Didn't realise I'd left the camera set to Monochrome ... but I think it looks quite atmospheric really

Yeti AKA David walking to our car

Me taking photos out of the car window  :-)

Back to colour once I realised I'd got the wrong camera settings.    Stuck in a jam waiting for cars at front to get up the hill, or be pushed to one side by volunteers trying to keep traffic flowing.

Can't wait to see what happens when we get 'proper' snow!!

OK ... back to work now.  I'm waiting for my client to come and collect the Spaniel portrait today.  She lives fairly close and has to time the collection so her husband doesn't become suspicious.

So I'm working on a horse pastel whilst waiting.   I haven't got very good ref photos of the 'favourite pose' so he's being drawn using a selection of pictures so I'm building a composite almost.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

05/12: GOOD OLD BEEB!!!

Well they've done it again ... I don't know why I ever believe the BBC online forecasts.    When I checked yesterday it suggested rain showers this morning.   Showers (possibly wintry) on Thursday and sunny again Friday.

Woke up this morning to black skies and drizzle.

Half hour later it started snowing, and snowing and snowing.   Took these at 8.30am in the garden and am wondering how long its likely to last.   The BEEB (bless them) now say rain at 9am, sleet at 10am and rain again at 11am.  If that's so, then the snow will soon disappear.  It's still a bit 'girlie snow' but it is settling and the flakes are very large

We are just getting ready to do our usual Wednesday stint at the Pilgrims Hospice eBay office which is approx half hour's drive away.  Here's hoping the snow doesn't stay around for too long making driving difficult.

But I've been out and broken the ice on all the birds' water bowls so they'll be OK for a few hours.

Hope you're staying warm and dry in your part of the world

Monday 3 December 2012


Tea Leaf is the Cockney Rhyming Slang for THIEF!

Saturday afternoon we hung two of these on our apple tree:

Yummy .... the Blue Tits and the Great Tits loved them!

Yesterday morning (Sunday) one of the 'bells' had disappeared ... not a trace of it, or the wire hanger, anywhere in the garden.  Now these little birds couldn't have carried one off ... so I suspected the squirrels.

But .... the squirrels showed absolutely no interest in the other bell, which may have just been a ploy to evade suspicion of course!    They did raid just about every other fatball, nut and sunflower seed holder though.

Last night we still had one 'bell' feeder left.     This morning it was gone.  As with the first one, there is no part of it in the garden and we didn't see the going of it.  Admittedly we get up a couple of hours later than the birds and squirrels but the thief obviously goes about his dasterdly deeds very early

The squirrel is still No. 1 suspect - which set me to thinking about a cartoon I remember from my (early) childhood :-)      Who else will admit to watching Secret Squirrel in the 60s?

There is one feeder which remains squirrel proof (for now) and that contains Niger seeds which I'm very pleased to say has attracted Goldfinches to our garden (first year since we moved here). 

and yesterday the Jay spent a long time in the garden.  The grass is getting long and he seems to enjoy 'rootling' around better now ... that and the fact that there are lots of crumbs being dropped from the fatballs/seedfeeders at the moment so he's hoovering them all up I guess.

Quite ferocious looking aren't they ... but also very timid it seems