Monday 25 August 2014


Seems an age since I last posted but lots has been happening.        The Springer Spaniel, Grace, was approved and despatched to my client but it is intended as a birthday present in September for Grace's Mum.  Hopefully she will be pleased with the portrait.

Hilly, the KC Spaniel has been accepted into The World of Coloured Pencil Exhibition which runs  from Saturday 27th September to Saturday 8th November.     I've found a mount/frame to use and will sort that out closer to the exhibition date.    Hilly's portrait won't be for sale as its going to Hilly's Mum in November.     I have posted a pic before but here she is again ... Hilly, on drafting film over a white backing sheet.

We have almost got the downstairs of our house back to 'normal' with most things back in their rightful place and I've been able to clean some of the dust and plaster residue from the floor and windows.   There are a few jobs still to be done but we're going to take a short holiday to relax and get over these stressful 10 weeks.

Unfortunately, David hasn't been very well and he's been told not to drive just now so I'm doing all the chauffering.  I'm not a 'happy motorist' and view driving as a necessary evil so not enjoying it at all.   Our GP is happy for David to fly so long as he wears those beautiful flight socks on the plane and stays hydrated so we're off to our home on Fuerteventura.     

We have family members house-sitting and just hope the weather picks up for them as it hasn't stopped raining all day and more is forecast for tomorrow.    We're also having our patio cleaned up and repointed whilst we are away so we'll come back to a lovely outdoor area and hopefully will get an Indian Summer so we can catch up on all the outdoor living we missed as a result of the flood ... nice to sit outside with a bottle of wine watching hubby BBQ the food!

I've had very little time for artwork but have been playing with a series of slightly distorted subjects based on photos I've taken and 'tweaked' in Elements .. this is one of them.  Very quick to do as its coloured pencil on drafting film and I just put a 'zoom burst effect' on the ref. photo and tried to capture the effect in pencil.     I'm not sure whether I like it or not but will have a think whilst away and maybe try another of the subjects I've added the effect to

The mount is just laid over the top to anchor the drafting film down.   I'm getting to the end of the large roll I bought years ago and it keeps curling up which is very frustrating.

David borrowed my camera on Friday evening to photograph the lovely cloud formation at sunset and the seagulls whose wings were all glowing pink as they flew into the sunset .... but he got distracted by this visitor and not sure who was most shocked.    Shame its not in focus as David isn't used to my camera and couldn't find the right setting quickly enough.

Our garden fence is 5ft high on top of a concrete base so in reality its closer to 6ft high ... agile little crittur isn't it?

'See you' when we're back and then I'll be onto Christmas commissions I guess ...

Monday 11 August 2014


I sprayed the portrait with fixative last week as it will be going in the post to my client so I like to give it a little more protection, even though its on Pastelmat which holds the pastel quite nicely.

Fixative tends to dull the colours a little I fine, especially the white/light colours so I reworked it a bit and generally tidied up.       I've sent pics of the portrait with and without the mount (mount is just laid over the top for now) and am awaiting approval/critique

Not quite sure what to work on next.   I could make an early start on a Xmas commission but that would be a graphite picture and I'm in the mood to stick with colour for now.

I was looking through the photos I took in India back in January/February and came across one that David instantly took a shine to and he's very keen for me to have a go at it as an exhibition piece.    Its not something I would have chosen to draw and I'm not sure I can do it justice but I think it'll do me good to get outside my comfort zone for a while.   So I'll make a start on it tomorrow and decide after a couple of days whether its working out ..... not showing you anything till then  LOL

and ..... finally our new sofas arrived this afternoon (luckily in a lull between stormy/rainshowers) so we can sit in relative comfort tonight - the decorator has brought forward the start date so he'll be here on Wednesday and once all the painting is finished we can put things back into their proper places and relax ...... yeayyyy!

They aren't much different to the sofas we lost which was deliberate as I didn't want to have to change curtain colours etc - just need to get more scatter cushions but that can wait till everything is back in place and we have time to shop for such 'luxuries'

Saturday 9 August 2014


Well, actually I think Hilly may be finished but will put her to one side for a day or so.  Its difficult to 'tweak' work on drafting film as I'm nearly at pencil saturation point but I'm sure I'll be making some minor adjustments before signing her off.

She really is a very bright coloured dog .... obviously this isn't the ref. pic I worked from but it shows the colouring nicely.

Thursday 7 August 2014


On Monday we drove to Somerset to collect some of my pics which Bev Lewis Bevs Animal Portraits had kindly stored for me since the UK Coloured Pencil Regional Exhibition in Ilminster ended.     Being August and the height of British Summer the roads were appalling and the drive 'interesting'.  Anyway, lovely to meet up with Bev and we then spent the evening in Bristol and had a quick walk round the lovely City Centre and waterways.      

Tuesday we had planned to visit a local zoo to photograph more wild animals but it was wet/windy so we decided to visit a butterfly centre I'd seen signposted en route to Bev's house.

We whiled away a happy few hours snapping away at butterflies (so much simpler if they'd just stay still for a while) and also took photos of the otters and meerkats which were housed at the same centre - the Studley Grange Butterfly World at Swindon, Wilts.

For today, just butterflies ....    I can identify them from the fact sheet provided (if required) but basically it was just a case of 'point and shoot' at most of these as they were very active.

I've missed out the caterpillar pics and the gigantic butterfly/moth that was on the ceiling (don't know what it was as not on the factsheet).

David tells me he has taken some very good photos ..... but he hasn't downloaded them yet so maybe I'll be posting some of his in the next few days

Monday 4 August 2014


OK, not sure where July went ... except its been a month of non-stop builders/floorers/plasterers and our home hasn't been 'our home' ....   now its August and things are looking up.

Yesterday (Saturday) we had another 'Catering Duty' day at the Whitstable Bowls Club ... David and I are Team Leaders for one of the catering teams.   Throughout the Lawn Bowls Season we have to fulfil 5 catering duties which includes providing tea/coffee at lunchtime and then a 2 course meal for players from our own and visiting clubs on a competition day - this usually means catering for around 75-90 people on a very tight budget so lots of thought/planning go into the meals.   For us its a busy time (buying ingredients during the 24 hours prior to providing the meal), organising the team to prepare and lay out the meals and then all the clearing up/washing up and laundering of aprons and dishcloths/tea towels. 

Anyway, early morning we shopped for fresh bread/salad ingredients and took them to the Clubhouse as we don't have enough fridge space at home ... and we noticed that there were a lot of Thames Sailing Barges on the sea opposite our clubhouse.     I should mention that our Bowls Club is in a beautiful position overlooked by the 'Whitstable Castle, and across the road from the slope leading down to the beach and seafront.     For the first time in months I didn't have my camera in the car so by the time we drove home, picked up the camera and drove back, the barges had moved on and were just specks on the horizon.    It was a hazy morning - the sun didn't burn through the clouds till mid afternoon so my pictures are very poor.

The tide was quite low and you can see part of 'The Street' here .... this is a long stretch of pebbles and land forming a spit which leads out to sea and provides a temporary natural promenade ... but you have to be careful when  walking on it as the tide comes in very quickly and can easily cut you off from the mainland.    this is just a little section of 'The Street'  if you follow the line between the dark/light blue of the sea that is the path taken by 'The Street' when the tide is fully out .... very interesting to walk to the end of 'The Street' and look back at the slopes/mainland

a couple of beach huts in the foreground ... very fashionable with the DFLs (Down from London's) but cost over £25,000 each with no running water and no permissions to live in them (just visiting use)!!

But especially for Jo (Canada) here are some pics of the Boats.    Yesterday was the  Swale Barge & Smack Match race ... starts somewhere out near Herne Bay I believe, and sails past Tankerton and Whitstable (where these pics were taken) and onto the Swale, ending in Faversham .... I'm probably not 100% correct in this but the route varies every year depending on tides etc .... would have been a magnificent sight but I only saw them once they'd passed Tankerton Slopes and were way out on the horizon (that's the Isle of Sheppey in the background)

This is taken in hazy/foggy conditions on zoom lens so looks a little strange - the sea looks more like farmland than water here   LOL

Very low tide here, photographed from the seawall at Whitstable Harbour around lunchtime yesterday.   It was an amazing sight watching all these beautiful old Thames Barges - and brilliant that so many are being maintained/restored

We spent most of the day getting our furniture back into place now that the flooring has all been replaced.   Its looking a little more like 'home' but until the decorating is done (2-3 weeks time) we can't really get everything tidy ... but its all heading in the right direction.

 OK.    arty stuff now.

I had a lovely email from the owner of the recent horse commission - she was in tears and its a sad fact that we pet-portrait artists know we've done a good job when we get a tearful reaction (but that's how it works).   I was so pleased as the refs weren't good but the horse is deceased and I just had to do the best I could.   I can only draw what I can see but with guidance from the owner it all worked out very well and I'm just so pleased that my client loves the portrait.

I've made a very small start on the King Charles Spaniel tonight.    This will be completed in Coloured Pencil and initially I'm working on drafting film over a white backing sheet.     This is experimental and I may switch to a more traditional watercolour HP paper if it doesn't work out  .... its just that I haven't worked on drafting film for quite a while and just fancied trying it again ...   Drafting Film is a matte polyester translucent drawing surface traditionally used by architects and draftsmen which doesn't take many layers of colour pencil but gives some interesting results (when it goes right) so ..... fingers crossed!

This is the result of 30 mins work (would have taken double that on traditional paper I think)

It looks very yellow here but was photographed in poor light this evening so there's a lot of glare from the film.   Also, the drafting film I'm using is very old and came from the stocks of a retired draftsman - on one very large roll  .... nowadays you can buy the film in nice A4 sized pads and its probably easier to work with methinks!

I've only worked on one side of the film so far but the beauty of this support is that you can draw on the reverse side also to intensify the colours if required .. i'll reserve that option, just trying to do a fairly quick drawing for now working on one side only.

OK that's got the excuses out of the way.      No artwork for a few days now ... back to the drawing board on Thursday so more updates then