Saturday 30 May 2015


I had a couple of hours to myself this afternoon so have prepared a big batch of chicken curry and a smaller mushroom/chickpea curry with coconut.    The house smells like an Indian Restaurant now!

I have 5 minutes before I need to serve Dins to hungry hubby so just time to post the latest progress photo of the 'Big Issue Seller'

I need to concentrate on this one as there are so many colours/textures in his layers of coats/fleecies so progress is going to be slow

Here's the latest:

This is coloured pencil on light grey pastelmat paper but I'll probably put in a very simple background.  In the ref. photo he is leaning against a plain white painted brick wall which I think will work well .... maybe

Thursday 28 May 2015

28/05: 25 YEARS - Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance Celebrations

I'm not doing very well on the Blogging front just now - just too many things going on ... but I hope to catch up on reading posts next week.

David and I do a couple of voluntary jobs - a regular day (or two) per week at the eBay office of Pilgrims Hospice (we research and list on eBay the better quality items donated to the Hospice Charity Shops - where we get a better price for them than can be achieved in the shops).    

We also fund raise/give talks on behalf of the Air Ambulance on an ad-hoc basis.

Last night we attended a 'Service of Thanksgiving and Celebration' at Canterbury Cathedral to mark the 25th anniversary of Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance - it used to be Kent Air Ambulance but now covers 3 Counties.   Although we live just half hour's drive away, we've never been inside Canterbury Cathedral itself, just wandered around the grounds/gardens on a couple of occasions.

A few crew members (doctors, paramedics and pilots) photographed by the entrance doors whilst we were waiting to get inside:

The cathedral itself is undergoing major refurbishment/cleaning so much of it is covered in scaffolding - its a major undertaking.        This is how grimy the walls/windows look

and a section that has been cleaned and looks beautiful now

During the service we had both phones on silent/vibrate in case we got 'the call' to dash up the motorway for babysitting duties when Caroline (daughter) finally goes into labour with Grand-daughter No. 2.    She's more than a week late now .... but still no sign.

I've not had much spare time to draw but did get a little more work done on the 'Big Issue Seller' this evening before the daylight faded.    Although it was just a few weeks ago when I photographed him, the weather was very cold/damp and he was wearing a very chunky jacket which has some complicated textures/stitching so I've been trying to sketch in some of the design ready to add colour.   I did more work on his hat and face but the skintones will need to be adjusted once I have more colour in the clothing against which to judge them.

Saturday 23 May 2015

23/05: The Big Issue

Just a quick post today

Mum-in-Law is still very poorly in hospital, but until she is free of pneumonia we won't know what can be done to alleviate the stroke symptoms.   She doesn't seem to recognise us when we visit although I remain convinced that coma patients can often hear, even if they don't respond.   We're visiting every other day so we get a break between driving 4 - 6 hours to and from hospital each day.

No sign of the overdue grand-daughter yet but we're on call to babysit the older grand-daughter and that can be anytime.

As we can't venture far from home/telephones just now I have started work on a drawing of a man I photographed a couple of weeks ago in Southwark when I was in London for the UKCPS Annual Exhibition.    He is a 'Big Issue' seller and was sitting on the pavement looking very pensive when I spotted him.    The Big Issue is a charity set up to help homeless people by 'giving hand-ups not hand'outs'.   Once they're enrolled in the scheme they get a 'pitch' of their own and a starter pack of Big Issue Magazines to sell.  Thereafter they buy the magazines at a nominal price and live on the profits they make when they sell on.   In addition they get access to health care, counselling etc., so its a brilliant, and well-known organisation.

Early days yet ... this is coloured pencil on light grey pastelmat paper

Monday 18 May 2015

Brown Man (again)

OK, sorry to be boring folks but I've hardly done any artwork since my demo/stewarding sessions with the UK Coloured Pencil Society Exhibition in London last week so very little progress has been made on the demo piece I was working on.

Sadly my Mum-in-Law had a massive stroke sometime between Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon when she was found ... so David and I have been backwards and forward to hospital over the last few days - and she has been moved 3 times.    She is now in a dedicated Stroke Unit at Lewisham hospital in London where she is getting great attention but she is very poorly ... and at nearly 97 years old is probably the oldest lady in the unit.

Here's where I finished work on Steve (the Brown Man) :

I might do some final tweaking at a later stage - Particularly that area between nose and upper lip which looks a little strange with the dark patch being one-sided - but it is true to the ref. photo. The whiskers/colouration really look like that.  The great thing about drawing/painting a portrait is that I can use a bit of artistic licence and nobody will really notice

I have two ref. photos that I'd really like to get 'stuck into' next with the coloured pencils, but we're still on call to dash up to London on babysitting duty when daughter goes into labour with Grand-daughter II (due Wednesday 20th) and of course we might also be called to London for Doris (Mum in Law) so I can't really concentrate on anything just now and its probably not a good idea to tackle anything very detailed ...

Thursday 14 May 2015

14/05: BROWN MAN ...

It seems ages since my last post but I've been in London demonstrating and stewarding at the UK Coloured Pencil Society's Int'l Exhibition for a few days and then yesterday did my usual Wednesday voluntary job for Pilgrims Hospice near Canterbury.

The exhibition is still running till Saturday and there are some fabulous works on display from coloured pencil artists in the UK and around the world.   If you get the chance do pop in to have a look and try out some of the brands of pencils and papers available on the 'have a go' desk.   The exhibition is in the Menier Gallery, Southwark Street which is very close to the bustling Borough Market and Thames-side attractions so why not make a day of it?

I didn't get much work done on my 'demo' piece as I spent more time chatting to people than drawing but this is where I got to by yesterday evening - apologies for the horrible background colour as it was photographed in poor light - in reality the paper is ivory white.    I'll try to get him finished today as I want to move onto a different subject now.

The subject is Steve Lipner, a well-known character around Corralejo,  Fuerteventura (where we spend several months each year) but I selected this picture specifically because its 'very brown' so I could take a limited range of pencils/colours with me to London.

The saxophonist is still standing in the corner of my studio reminding me that he needs to be completed also but I have to be in the mood for him :-)

Thursday 7 May 2015


The weather was awful for our day in London yesterday and travelling was a nightmare - traffic jams on the motorway and engineering works on the trains but we got to the Gallery by 11 as planned.   The Private View went well and we got home just before midnight having set out at 7.45 in the morning.   Feeling a bit jaded today.

The standard of coloured pencil works on exhibit is very high so if anybody is able to visit the Menier Gallery at Southwark Street (near London Bridge Station) its worth popping in to have a look.

I will be demonstrating at the Gallery tomorrow, together with Karen Coulson and here's an update on the drawing I'll be working on for the demo

The wrinkles on his forehead don't look this harsh in reality, I think the camera is picking up the white areas too much, but not worth faffing around with it till its finished

At least being busy with the Coloured Pencil activities is enabling me to switch off from the monotonous round of pre-election reporting on the TV and radio.   Of course its important, but we've been bombarded with politics for weeks now.  At least the arrival of baby Princess Charlotte gave reporters something else to focus on for a couple of days.   Now we'll get another few weeks of 'experts' dissecting the results ... Oh Joy!

Tuesday 5 May 2015


After 3+ weeks away there is so much that needs to be dealt with quickly at home but we just didn't really feel motivated .. you know how it is when you return from holiday ...

Today we had to do a trial run to collect Grand-daughter from Play School in case we have to do it for real when our daughter goes into labour with Grand-daughter II (due 20th of this month) so that took up all afternoon but was necessary as the staff at the nursery needed to be sure we're 'responsible' adults.

Tomorrow we'll be in London for the UKCPS International Exhibition to deliver my one picture that got juried in and sort out the snacks/soft drinks for the Private View in the evening.   Its going to be a very long day for us.       We'll be back at the Gallery on Friday (I'm demonstrating coloured pencils and David is stewarding) and Saturday when we're both stewarding ... we're not used to commuting so will be ready for another holiday after this week methinks.

I've never demonstrated at an exhibition like this before so I decided to use a photograph of Steve Lipner who is British but has lived on Fuerteventura for many years and  runs a secondhand 'household goods' business and does lots of charity work - often donating items from his shop to families who have fallen on hard times.  We spend around 4 months a year on Fuerteventura (Canary Island) and lots of my portrait models are photograhed here.     I think Steve has a very interesting 'lived in' face.   I took his photo in our house on a day when he was very relaxed, hadn't shaved and was wearing very battered, brown hat and coat ....   As I will have to transport pencils and all my drawing paraphernalia by train to London I want to minimise the load.     Having a picture which is so very BROWN I can probably get away with carrying just 25 pencils for a limited palette.     This is where I got after a couple of hours work on Sunday and again this morning .... I just want to get it past the 'ugly' stage and then I'll be happy to just work on adding layers and deepening the colours whilst 'demonstrating' ..

I have to put the eyes in early ... can't bear looking at empty sockets

Deepening the skin colours here ... long way to go yet - it all looks very harsh at the moment but don't want to lose sight of those wrinkles (laughter lines)  

 I hope to do another couple of hours work on this on Thursday before using it as my demo piece on Friday (talk about cutting things fine) ... but I'm guessing I'll be doing more talking with the Gallery visitors than actually drawing so ... fingers crossed I won't make a fool of myself!

Friday 1 May 2015

01/05: BACK & READY TO RUN (almost)

We're back in Kent after 3 weeks at our home on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) where I've taken lots of photos and some may be appearing on my drawing board soon.

On our return, I had some brilliant news in a letter from Dr Sally Bulgin, MD of The Artist Publishing Company.    I'd entered 3 pictures into The Artist Category of Patchings 2015 Competition/Exhibition before I went away.   The Artist Category is for experienced artists .. the other category is for beginners/amateur artists.     I knew that 70 works from each category would be selected by a jury to be hung in the exhibition which runs from June 4 till 19 July.

Whilst away I checked the Patchings Facebook page regularly and when I realised there were more than 1700 entries I knew I had no chance of getting through .... and there were so many beautiful painted works that I didn't think coloured pencil stuff would get a look in ... BUT my cp drawing of the tramp I photographed on Fuerteventura a few months back did make it  YEEEEAAAAAYY!

I am still very amazed by the news but obviously very happy. 

70 pictures from each category (140 total) will be hung at the exhibition.   They will also be shown on Patchings website together with a further 50 pictures which were awarded Highly Commended places.  

Now I just have to get the work framed and sort out pricing etc ...

I couldn't call him a 'tramp' so have named it Senor Molina (Mr Windmill) since he spends most of his time living rough on a bench near a landmark, renovated windmill in Corralejo.

I hope to catch up on all missed blog posts over the next few days but, as always, there are so many things to be done after time away.

I'll be in London for 3 days next week where I have a picture on exhibition with the UK Coloured Pencil Society and I'll be doing a bit of demonstrating and stewarding with help from hubby, David.   I think we'll be pretty tired as we're out of practice with commuting and busy City Centres.