Thursday, 30 December 2010

Rather him, than me...

We've just returned from a holiday in Portugal staying on the Lisbon coast.
One day we visited a local surfers beach, the sea was spectacular. Only one surfer was braving the waves , I don't know if the reason for this was it was Boxing Day, or like me no-one liked the look of them!
I took some great shots, and I feel inspired to do some seascapes for my next paintings, the energy and movement of the waves was breath taking.

Monday, 13 December 2010

I'm now exhibiting in Richmond

Just a reminder I'm exhibiting with a number of other artists at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond TW9, 14th December until 5th February 2011.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

I think I'm done

He's been tweaked and now I'm stopping. I've just sent a photo to the person who commissioned it, so hope she likes it.
Today I was child-free, now after buying my Xmas cards it dawned on me it's two and a half weeks to Xmas, and I've not even thought about gifts let alone bought them.
So I'm now on holiday until after Xmas.
So I'll wish you all a MERRY XMAS in advance!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

How's my bedside manner?

Michael finally went back to school today, against my better judgement, he looked awful, but he couldn't stand being at home a day longer! I don't think I'm the most patient with sick people. Just to test me my youngest son Spencer was off school today, fingers are firmly crossed its not the same virus.
I've had another go at the doggie today, building up more tones and depth of colour. It nearly there, I finished in the dark today, so had to use a daylight bulb. Tomorrow I need to see it in natural light to tweak abit

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

They're dropping like flies!

My eldest son has had a virus now for best part of a week, a nasty thing making his temperature shoot through the roof. My other son came back from school looking peaky so I checked his temp 37.7c, groan! My husband also went to work complaining he was achy. Now I'm thinking I should really crack on with this commission, if I'm next in the firing line, this needs to be finished, now!
I can now start to pull this together, the dog still needs more contrast, I need to work in some purple which when together with the yellow and orange will hopefully produce some subtle tones. In my reference photo the blanket the dog is on is the same colour as him, very practical choice, but not very artistic. I'm thinking blue at the moment, it would set off the dog well.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Doggie continues...

A lot more layers of pastel later for the texture of his fur. He still needs more contrast, but I need to get the chair in to see how it effects his tone and hue. The chair I'm also using a soft pastel first, obviously green, then working into it with a hard pastel pencil in a contrasting colour, red.
Over the weekend I was hoping that my son Michael would get over his illness, however we woke up this morning with him looking very pale, his temperature back up to 38c. So work is limited again, can't be helped, we have our fingers crossed for tomorrow, he's fed up with me now!

Friday, 3 December 2010

How cold is it....?

I'm still plodding on with this. My eldest son Michael was still not up for school, he managed 38c a trip to the Docs proved inconclusive, some sort of virus, so much to his frustration another day of snow, and he's not getting anywhere near it! Hence my limited progress today. This doggie is very sleek, lots of subtle textures in the fur, so lots of layers to achieve the muscles and folds.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Finally my part of the UK couldn't dodge the big freeze. We woke up today with a blanket of pure white snow. We haven't managed any snowmen yet, Michael my eldest son was sent home from school unwell today, so we have had to stay indoors.
Snow and poorly child have meant that progress has been limited today.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

doggie day 2

I made a small start on this one. I'm using soft pastels then working into them with coloured charcoal pencils to create the texture of the fur. Well we are still missing the chaos that most of the country seems to be effected by, namely the snow.
We are lucky I suppose, but a small amount enough for a snowman would be nice!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Where's our snow?

I know lots of people are cursing the chaos that the snow brings, but as normal my neck of the woods is missing it, we've had a small sprinkle today, but its not looking like it is going to hang around.
I've just received a new commission to keep me busy during the cold snap. Its a A4 pastel portrait of a Staffordshire bull terrier.
I had an hour yesterday to get a basic outline down in pastel pencil.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Come on in, the water's lovely! Finished!

Well here's my latest pastel. I'm going to use it in my next exhibition in Richmond at the Orange Tree Theatre, the exhibition is running from 14th Dec to 5th February.
I'm a bit fed up because I spent an hour or so framing this today thinking I had a good photo of the painting, however today inserting the photo on to my blog I realised that the board is showing on the bottom right. The edge of the painting has been distorted in the photo, so I can't crop the board out. I can't take a photo of it the painting glazed, so I have no option but to take it out of the frame to re photo, grrrrrrrrr!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Keeping it loose

Today I filled in the penguins, I haven't gone into too much detail, I'm not sure I will. I need to make a few areas stand out a little more, and play with some highlights. There are also some rosy hues reflecting off the white areas such as their tummies.
The sea I've played with a dry bristle brush to re-expose my original background colour. I also tried wetting the pastel, but was a little concerned I would get tide-marks as it dried. The penguin on the far right, I need to tweak his arm, its going to close to the edge of the paper.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Come on in the water's lovely!

After the recent headlines about the British Beaches having the best blue
flag records ever, I guess this is quite topical! Pure chance, I made a start on this back in July, however had to put it down as the school hols meant I needed to put on the hat of full-time Mum, of which I have no complaint! After the Summer I've been fortunate to have a good run of commissions so this one was left on the shelf. Now I can finally get back to this, I'm hoping to put it into an exhibition in December.
This started out as an experimental painting, its A3 pastel on pastelmat, not an unusual combo for me, however, I used a gouache wash to create a bespoke coloured pastelmat. I was not sure how the tooth of the pastelmat would handle the gouache wash, the result was, extremely well. My plan now is to work onto it in pastel, I may also try wetting the pastel once on the paper a technique I've yet to try.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Catching up, getting back up to speed

This is a WIP of my last commission. Due to being off line for a month I couldn't share this one on my blog. Its an A3 pastel painting on pastelmat paper. The landscape is a view in Scotland. It's already been handed over. I'm now on to my next project.
This time its back to a piece I started in the Summer. I've an exhibition coming up in December, I'm hoping this one is going to be a good one!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

I'm back!

NEVER AGAIN will we change our broadband. One month to get it back!
Here's Bertie, he's pretty much there, I'm going to send a picture to his owner to see what she has to say. She has seen the earlier progress and likes his attitude, so we'll see.
I'm a whole commission behind on my blog, I've just finished and handed over the one after this. I post a wip of it tomorrow.

Friday, 5 November 2010


Well three weeks on still no broadband. My husband has given up hope that he will ever have his iPad back. SKY have blamed BT for the delay, we now have a promise that we will be connected next Friday. I think I'm going to have to go to my local pub to use their wi-fi, I've many things I need to download.
I'm now well into my next commission, going well I'm using soft pastel for this one.
Anyway, hopefully will be back next Friday, will SKY deliver?

Friday, 22 October 2010

I'm lost without broadband

5 days now without broadband, and I'm not on holiday. I have borrowed my husbands i pad so I can keep up with emails. We dared to change from BT to Sky, now I'm facing 2 weeks without anything. I can't post my wip, but I've finished Bertie the parrot, now I'm starting my new commission, 3 boys with a gorgeous Scottish view behind them.
So I will have lots to post in approximately a weeks time!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Now we're getting some attitude!

I've changed quite a few things, hopefully for the better. His profile is the main thing, also I've enlarged his nostrils. I've also reworked his eye. Generally I've been using a palette knife to paint the direction of the feathers. As mentioned yesterday, I've now put in his other wing, I also noticed that his body wasn't right his tummy was to small.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Bertie slowly, slowly...

I've had a play with a palette knife today, I wanted to get some sharp edges, and reflections.
I've also been trying to get the feel for the direction of the feathers around Bertie's eyes, also I've had a go at the eye. I need to put back in some more colour once it dries.
Just noticed I need to tweek the profile it needs to go in by the nostril, I also need to put his wing in. The thing about commissions sometimes they make you paint something you might not have considered painting before, and giving up isn't an option, I think I'm getting him now.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Bertie continues

I've had an emotionally straining few days, lots on my mind. My Mum had to have what sounded like a hideous op' on her foot that involved breaking pinning, chipping. Thankfully she seems to be okay.
I've been visiting secondary schools for my son, a daunting task at best, but I've got the added complication of Michael's autism.
Finally my art group's exhibition, this one wasn't to be my show, no paintings sold, I must admit a little disappointing after selling 5 at the previous one. On a plus note, my cards sold very well. These were a new venture for me, so that's good.
I think as I've had plenty of other things to occupy my thoughts I've not had time to ponder it too much.
I finally got to deliver my latest painting of 5 cousins, the lady who commissioned it was thrilled. So ups and downs personally and professionally.
Bertie still remains untouched. I'm still inching my way around the colander, nothing has been decided upon yet, some areas I think I'm getting there, lots not.
Tomorrow I'm back to Bertie, I need to let the colander dry, then sharpen up areas

Saturday, 9 October 2010

From feathers to holes

We opened our little exhibition last night, I say little but we had 70 framed works, and lots of portfolio, unframed work. I thought I'd try selling cards of my work this time, they seemed to fairly popular so I think I will continue to do so. Now its waiting to see how I sell. In May we had a fantastic exhibition, so hopes are high.
I am still getting some work done on Bertie. I've moved away from feathers for a while, to let them dry, also to preserve my sanity!
I've now the somewhat daunting task to paint a colander.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Ham Art Exhibition

I'm exhibiting this weekend with my Art group. So please pop by if you're able.
The artist on this poster is very talented, Anna Tikhomirova, she's well worth seeing, as well as me of course!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Feathers, feathers, feathers

He's starting to get some form, I've been painting wet on wet, alternating between hard bristle brushes and softer ones, I had about 8 brushes to clean after today's session. He's perched on a colander, lots of reflections and uniform holes, I'm uncertain what my approach shall be. Mind you that's be the general approach to the painting on the whole!

Friday, 1 October 2010

This painting is starting to be fun. Today I was using fingers, rolling brushes and all sorts. The owner of Bertie has told me anything goes, and not to be too photographic. As I'm working in oils it gives me the opportunity to work with textures.
I'll be honest I'm making this up as I go along.
I know I want to try to capture the movement of him precariously perched on the colinder.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

I hate feathers

It's not a good thing to discover that feathers are very difficult things to paint this early into a parrot painting. Today I've spent a long time trying to really understand how they work. You can't successfully simplify until you truly understand it. I think I'm beginning to, but I am still struggling with the overall shape of his head.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


My next commission, a parrot called Bertie. He's a character, generally up to no good! He's learnt to say 'wine o'clock' so I approve of him!
I'm back painting in oils after a long break. I'm using a 16x12 deep profile canvas.
I'm interested in all the colours in the greys, he's a grey parrot, perched on a metal colander. There's also lots of different textures to consider, Bertie's soft feathers, compared to the hard shiney metal.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Made the final push on this to get it finished.
The girl in the background was the hardest to decide what to do. I made the decision to loose her hat because the shape was hard to recreate, then I decided to do away with her jumper around her waist. I liked the pink however the arm of the jumper was sticking out at a strange angle making it hard to read as a jumper arm. I had to make an artist judgement what her waist underneath it would look like.
I am pleased with the animation I've caught in their expressions and poses so kept the background plain. I have worked into the blue leaving brush strokes to also give a feeling of movement.
Now for the scary bit, waiting to hear if the lady who commissioned the piece is happy. I hope so I'm pleased with it, and enjoyed working with the lovely photos she sent me.
My next commission couldn't be more different. Its a grey parrot called Bertie, if the photos are anything to go by he's very mischievous!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Right we are starting to get somewhere

So happy I lost the hat! Today just filling in the gaps really, making sense of arms and legs (I hope!). Tomorrow I need to do the background to see the effect on the colours and tones on the kids. I'm definitely keeping it simple, just colours. Then last accents and highlights, and probably abit of tweaking!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Lost the hat!

I decided today to loose the hat on the girl at the back. It was a bit shapeless. I had another photo of her without a hat.

I must have a go at the boy sat next to her, he's looking a bit cross-eyed!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

4 down 1 to go!

4 started I should say, plenty of tweaking to come. I really want to get the last little girl started tomorrow. Then I need to address the background, after that I can decide my highlights. I also want to harmonise the children using colours that will connect them, which will hopefully make the picture work as a complete composition. This means to use the same colours throughout a picture, e.g; maybe put some yellow from the boys shirt in the hair of the girl in the foreground, or on her necklace, it all helps to direct the eye around the picture.

Monday, 20 September 2010

I think I'm half-way there!

With my usual lightning speed of painting (not!), in just over a week I'm about half -way. I think most of my problem is that I rarely get a uninterrupted day to really get stuck in. I am fairly pleased with how this is shaping up, looking forward to getting on with the last two figures, so I can pull the painting together as a whole composition, rather than 5 individual portraits.

Friday, 17 September 2010

It's the weekend

Well almost, and my decorators have gone till Monday, yipee! More of the same today, using the gouache to create basic tones and hues, then working into them with watercolour pencils.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

My house is a mad-house!

Today has not proved to be a good day to get some work done. My house has been taken over by painters, not the artist type, decorators. I'm very happy I'm not up the ladder doing the work, however its a little distracting having someone tapping on your studio window saying 'that's very clever, that it!', thou obviously very flattering!
My house has disappeared under a layer of dust, and my sinuses stuffed up with fumes and paint dust, joy!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Another couple of hours

Looking at this now, I need to change the bottom of the girls t-shirt, it's too high, so she's looking a little dumpy, which she's not at all!
I also need to lighten her hair which I think has more blonde highlights. The boy hasn't got ginger hair, the orange is going to be a undercoat.
I'm using the gouache to create basic hues and tones, then working in details with the watercolour pencils.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Let's get some paint on

I finished off my sketching today, so decided it was time to get painting. The background is very rough, I wanted to loose the white. Once I finish the children I will decide what I'm going to do with it.
The little girls features have softened nicely as I have applied wet paint onto the watercolour pencils.

Monday, 13 September 2010

I've survived turning middle-aged!

Well that was a weird week, nice but strange. Why is 40 so significant? One thing I know its a great opportunity
to catch up with everyone you know and throw a party!
Had another session at this today, one more to sketch out, then I think I be ready to get some paint on. They all look quite hard at the moment, but the features will soften once I start to paint. I've used a watercolour pencil which will dissolve away once I get painting.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Summer's over!

It's back to the usual routine, the boys are back at school, and I'm back in front of the easel.
Over the summer I was asked to do a new commission. Five kids who are cousins. The photos are great, they are animated and taken in good light. Its an A3 painting, I decided today that gouache and watercolour pencil will work well. I made a small start today taking my time to get a feel for the characters and expressions of the children.
Its a busy week for me so I'm not sure how much more I will get done in the rest of the week. I've an added distraction, that this Friday I turn 40!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

2 weeks of rain......

I'm back from my summer hols, and rain was a large feature of the 2 weeks. This year we travelled to the Loire Valley in France, I had been looking forward to taking some pictures of the scenery, however the weather had other ideas. To add to my joy we were camping! We tried to make the best of it, hey we were pitched on a vineyard, so wine was never far away!
Last year we had better luck in the Loire, beautiful weather all week, and one thing we did this year was to revisit a fantastic zoo in the Loire, Zoo Doue.
We left France after 8 days, to go back to the UK heading down south west to Cornwall. If we thought the rain was bad in France, nothing compared to the cornish stuff, the sea-mists came in for the 4 days we were there. Scenery I believe was some where under it! We know the area well so decided to cut our losses and leave, fed up of fighting our way though grumpy tourists in the soggy attractions.
So glad to be back!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Butterflies at Kew

One of our favourite places to visit is Kew Gardens, and its just a short bus trip away. We got lucky today, Kew has got a fantastic display in its Princess of Wales glasshouse. Butterflies and moths flying free amongst tropical plants. Some of them are as big as birds, absolutely spectacular!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Penguins, wip day 1

The experiment continues! The pastel is going on well. My interest is in the movements of the birds, and to capture the animation of the sea. Its a sweet scene the penguin on the far left looks like he's sticking in a toe to test the water! I'm determined not to over work the details on this, I have been advised by a parrot not too, yes I did say parrot, but I trust his judgement ( long story).

Monday, 26 July 2010

Getting experimental

Its been a week since I've posted, the Summer hols have started so I've been busy with the boys. I have however had a project in the back of my mind. Again its from the photos my parents took in the Antarctica. This time its penguins. I am going to make it mainly a study of greys, and the textures and reflections. Today I just taped a piece of A3 pastelmat to a board, and applied a wash of gouache paint. Im crossing my fingers that it stays flat as it dries, pastelmat is almost like card. I've had a play on a swatch so am hopeful the texture or tooth of the paper can take the water from the wash. The test piece I used kept a good tooth, and still took multiple layers of pastel. Anyway let it dry and see what happens!