Friday 19 July 2019


I received a few more photos showing the Golden Retrievers mouth and it seems even when he's 'smiling' he doesn't show much tooth so I've just added a suggestion of a canine.

I've emailed this photo to my client so 'fingers crossed' if its approved I can call it finished and sign it off.

A little more work has been done on the labrador and this is where I'm at this morning:

In good daylight the background pastelmat colour is quite nice ... but in poor/artificial light it becomes quite garish so I am going to tone it down a little with a very simple background.   I'm going to email this to the client now before going any further to make sure he's happy so far

Monday 15 July 2019


Well after all the excitement of another wonderful Safari - and the days spent sorting through photos and videos, its now time to get back to the drawing board.

Toby, the cat I did as a 'last minute' coloured pencil drawing submission to the exhibition Jury (UK Coloured Pencil Society Int'l Exhibition) was accepted for hanging in Yorkshire next month.   It rather took me by surprise but at least I am one year closer to earning my Diamond Signature Status (acceptances into 15 Annual International Exhibitions) ... I have Gold Status which was granted once I'd had entries accepted into 10 exhibitions in 2017 with this latest acceptance I need to get into 3 more.

He's still waiting for me to sign and frame him but I'll take care of that this week.

Earlier this year I'd been contacted by two 'returning' clients wanting to commission dog portraits.   I put them off as I really wasn't able to take on commissions then.    They both contacted me last week with photos and I've had to knuckle down to some work.

Sadly the photos aren't the best so progress is slow as I'm struggling for detail.

The first portrait is a lovely Golden Retriever.  This is the 3rd or 4th commission from this client.    The favoured pose is from a nice reference photo but the dog isn't the main focus of the photo so when I zoom in for detail his image pixelates out.    I've used the photos as a base and other photos for colour detail but I just couldn't get any sense of his mouth/gums/teeth and have asked the client to look out more pictures specifically showing this area.

Original Ref.

Progress picture 1.   I'm working in pastel on Fisher 400 paper (sandpaper) to match other portraits I've done for this client.   Its an interesting surface and holds pastel well but its painful on the fingertips when you just can't cure yourself of the habit of 'blending' with fingertips!

 Progress picture 2.  Photographed in poor light so looks a bit 'pink'

Progress picture 3.   Colour is better in this photo but at this stage I've stopped until I can see other ref photos to work out what is happening with the mouth area.

Whilst waiting, I've made a start on the other commission which is a chocolate labrador.    I decided to use Pastelmat in Sienna colour which is one I don't often use as the colour looks a bit 'loud' in artificial light.    But I figured its a good base colour for the lab's fur and I'll put a simple background in to mute the colour later.

I'm working from this pose.    The photo is pretty small at 640x480 so, again, it pixelates out when I zoom in to look at detail.

I've now been given another photo (taken at a different angle) which does show a lot more detail so I'm working from the two of them.  

Progress picture 1.

 Progress picture 2.     I have to go back to work on her muzzle area and ear but wanted to get some of the body/fur colour in place.  

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Well, Well ... I didn't expect it to be so easy to upload this many photos to Blogger!!

We returned to Kenya last month and spent 10 nights at 3 different Porini (Gamewatchers) camps. I love the company because they are pioneers in eco-tourism. They combine environmental/wildlife protection with cultural preservation by working with local Maasai communities on conservation projects.

The Porini Camps are situated on Maasai owned land within exclusive wildlife conservancies in Selenkay, Laikipia and the Mara. The camps are staffed by Maasai men.   

The tents are large with 'colonial style' beds and furniture and en suite shower/toilet facilities.  Showers are 'on demand' as the hot water has to be carried to the tent by the Maasai and hoisted up into a huge 'bucket'.   It comes through a conventional style shower head though with a simple on/off switch.

Each camp has between 6 and 9 tents so they are quite small.  There are no swimming pools/hot tubs or brick built buildings on the Porini sites.   Their eco-friendly design ensures that if the camps were dismantled for any reason, the site would return to its natural state within a Season.

The biggest attraction for us is that the Maasai limit the number of tent sites and trucks on their land.   They are able to go 'off piste' to get the best photo opportunities but they are very sympathetic to the wildlife and don't harrass them.    In the Govt owned National Reserves, tourist vehicles have to stick to the designated tracks or face huge fines.   We went to the National Maasi Mara Reserve one day to check the wildebeest migration but hated the fact that each time we saw one of the 'big five' the word went out and up to 20 trucks crowded around, jostling for space and distressing the animals.    Not for us!

Anyway, I took 6000 photos and David took around 3000.   I've culled mine down by 2/3rds but haven't yet had time to sort them into groups as I did last year (separate folders for cats, birds, elephants, zebra etc).     This is a random assortment I posted on FB a couple of days back but I've downsized them to suit Blogger and posting them here for any friends who don't have FB accounts.

I have a couple of commissions to crack on with now so I won't do any more photo sorting till after they are finished.