Friday 27 May 2016


We're back from a lovely 4 day visit to Lyon, France.   Lyon is France's 2nd most important City and a World Heritage Site with lovely architecture, cobbled streets with fab restaurants/bars and was a large silk production region.   

The weather was a bit 'iffy' and we got a little wet at times but we packed a lot into our 4 days and travelled by bus, trolley-bus, tram, 'wally-trolley' (the new tourist tram that is being trialled so we got a free ride), a riverboat cruise and the funicular railway.    We visited the Basilica, a park with free zoo and a brilliant exhibition at the newly built Musée des Confluences - lots of separate exhibitions devoted to the evolution of the World and mankind.   I'm not usually a fan of museums but was really blown away by this exhibition.

I took hundreds of photos which need working through but I've got a few more ref. photos to add to my ever increasing folders of  'to draw' subjects.     3 are 'street people' to whom we gave donations in exchange for their permission to photograph them and the others are birds/animals encountered on our travels.      

Today I've been catching up on emails etc., and sorting out entries for the Canterbury Society of Art's Summer show which will be held at the Whitstable Horsebridge Centre from 22 June to 5 July.     I will be away for handing-in day but one of the Exec has very kindly offered to store my entries and take them to the Gallery for me.    One of the Society's criteria is that work must not have been shown in the Gallery for the previous 5 years.   As I have already allocated 5 drawings to the UKCPS Regional Exhibition in Romsey, Hampshire from 6 to 31 July, I've been scratching around to find pictures to enter ... 

I've cut a mount for 'Sax on the Beach' and framed him so might as well enter him.  I'm liking him a little more now he's been 'cut down to size' and put behind glass so I can't fret about him any more!  He's completed in pure coloured pencil on Derwent Watercolour Paper

I'm also giving Senor Molina another airing ... you all know what he looks like by now but here he is again in his frame .. apologies for the glare off the glass.    The frame is a simple black wooden one and the mount is a very dark grey

and I'm going to put a couple of 'oldies' in ... both pastel pictures which have been hanging around for too long .. time to see if I can find them new homes and make space for newer works.    

This is a snow leopard I photographed at a small private Zoo in Sandwich, Kent and the portrait was done about 5 years ago.     Pastel on Pastelmat


and finally a lovely 'Russian Blue' cat which is also Pastel on Pastelmat

Just got to print the labels for them and I can forget about them for a few weeks.

Thursday 19 May 2016


Today I worked more on the drawing of the Saxophonist and did a lot of erasing, trying to brighten up some of the buttons and knobs on the saxophone but I'm still not sure about it.   I'm much happier doing 'head and shoulder' portraits and concentrating on facial features - the musical instrument has got me beat I think!

David looked at the drawing this evening and was a bit 'ho hum' - which ordinarily I wouldn't worry about as traditionally any picture he doesn't like does well in exhibitions/competitions.   But I agree with him on this one ... so I'm going to stop working on it now.    I will put 'Sax on the Beach' into the (long thin) frame which was the main reason for drawing this image .... but may well find another subject to replace the saxophonist/fit the frame at a later stage.

Its possible I'll have a change of heart at some stage if I leave the drawing alone for a few weeks/months so .... watch this space.

Now I just have to work out what I'm going to work on next.    I have so many reference photos from our recent trip to India, and of course the fabulous Andalusian horses/riders photographed last month on Fuerteventura.   Whatever I work on, I think it will have to be in coloured pencil as I've been lucky enough to win hundreds of pencils over the last few months so I really need to use them - the pastels will have to wait their turn!

We're out and about tomorrow .... when the UKCPS exhibition finished I collected some pictures belonging to an artist who lives in a neighbouring seaside resort and will deliver them to him tomorrow.   Its many years since I visited Broadstairs so I'm looking forward to spending some time there and just hope the weather will be kind to us.  I remember 'skiving' off school and catching the train to Broadstairs and/or Margate as a teenager - hoping the place won't have changed too much in the decades since my misspent youth!

Wednesday 18 May 2016

18/05: CATCH UP

Its been a busy few days - we were in London last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday we were out all day selling raffle tickets for the Air Ambulance Charity - win a Mini Cooper convertible!

Monday we were busy with Air Ambulance in the morning and then enjoyed a lovely lunch with David's cousin and her husband and just chilled out for the afternoon.

Whilst demonstrating/stewarding at the UK Coloured Pencil Society Exhibition I took along a picture to work on which I started about a year ago and got disillusioned with and abandoned ... you know how it is.     I needed something I could pick up and put down between chatting with visitors so this fitted the bill - in fact I did very little work on it as was chatting most of the time.

Anyway .... first off, just a little bit more fab news:

Senor Molina (as well as being awarded Best Portrait at the exhibition) was voted joint first in the People's Choice vote - based on voting slips completed by visitors to the Gallery during the two week exhibition.   I was really amazed as the Portrait display was on the lower level of the Gallery and it was noticeable that many visitors didn't want to go downstairs - either because they were in a hurry or because they had mobility problems so a lot of the People's Choice votes were being based solely on the pictures in the Ground floor gallery.

Anyway, this is a drawing I started in April last year.   The subject is a saxophonist who is part of a group called 'La Familia Flotante' (Spanish for 'floating family')   They are excellent musicians and regularly play near the Town Beach in Corralejo (where we have a holiday home - in the Canaries).  I specifically chose him as the model because if have a tall, narrow picture frame and wanted a subject who would fit the bill ... and the frame.

I gave up on the drawing halfway through as just wasn't enjoying it - normally I do head & shoulder type portraits which allows me to concentrate on facial features/detail and I'm out of my comfort zone with the saxophone and all its buttons etc.,

This is the last progress photo I showed ... in April 2015

and this is where I got to after the exhibition where I added more detail/colour, and a couple of hours at home today:

The photo is a bit dark as I've lost the light now but I plan to take a close look at the saxophone tomorrow and and try to work out all the twiddly bits ... If I succeed I'll carry on and finish the drawing so I can move onto something new without feeling guilty!

Sunday 8 May 2016


Well we're back in the UK (briefly) having had a brilliant time in Corralejo, Canaries.   

We had a horrible trip home with a delayed flight as the airline had to switch planes due to ours having been damaged by luggage handlers who made a large hole in the bodywork somehow, then a passenger was taken ill on board, the 'alternative' plane had no sandwiches or food on board - just crisps and chocolate and NO white or rose wine!    When we finally landed we had to wait 15 mins for steps to arrive so we could disembark .... not impressed Easyjet!

So we finally got home at 4.30am this morning and apart from a bit of food shopping and an hour pulling the most obvious weeds from the garden, we've just chilled and enjoyed the lovely sunshine here in Kent.

The UK Coloured Pencil Society 15th Annual Exhibition opened with its Private View at Menier Gallery, London, last Tuesday and I was thrilled to learn on Wednesday that 2 of my 3 pictures had won awards.      Senor Molina won the Derwent Award for Best Portrait

So I'm very pleased about that ... sadly Alexander (the subject of my portrait) passed away in January but that twinkle in his eye will carry on.    This has proved to be a popular portrait and won a few awards so I hope he's watching and raising a glass 

and The Big Issue Seller got a Highly Commended Award which is quite topical as I photographed him near the Gallery when I was demonstrating at last year's exhibition.     He was sitting on the pavement at his 'pitch' near Guy's Hospital, wrapped up against the chill and I loved the colourful layers of jumpers and gilet.

 I will be demonstrating at the Gallery on Thursday and stewarding on Friday, so am looking forward to seeing all the pictures 'in the flesh' as they always look so much better than online I think.  

The exhibition runs till next Saturday 14th so if you're in the area, do pop in and say hello.    If not, here's a link to the UKCPS website page showing all the entries

2016 UKCPS Open Int'l Exhibition entries

If you click on the 'i' symbol top right of each picture it gives details of the artist and the work.