Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas

10x12 Coloured Pencil

Posted the last of my Christmas commissions off this morning so can now take a deep breath and relax. Not sure if relax is the right word I should be using just now, especially as there's still Christmas shopping and loads of wrapping to do ........ oh well!

It's been a busy year for me commission wise, I'm pleased to say, and I've had the pleasure of drawing some really beautiful dogs along the way. Some of my drawings have gone as far as Singapore, Spain and America which is great. I've also had some wonderful feedback from both my customers and those who've come across my work and taken the time to email me and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support, it means a lot to me.

Commissioned work aside, I have to admit to being disappointed with the achievements made in my own work in that I simply didn't get enough done and failed to meet the goals I had set myself earlier in the year. I would have liked to have done a lot more with my work but, as is always the case with me, there just were not enough hours in the day.

These plans and goals still stand however, and I'm determined to see them through in the coming year. There are so many things I want to do - and try! But, first things first as they say and for me that is getting everything organised for Christmas and making sure it comes and goes as peacefully as possible.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Getting there .....

Slowly but surely. I'm starting to feel organised again after getting so far behind with everything in November. Emails have been dealt with, paperwork is up to date, assessments have been sent, my website's updated, Christmas cards have been written (so pleased with this one after last year) and I'm getting there with my commissions - only two left to finish before Christmas. AND I've done the majority of my Christmas shopping - would you believe that after 8 hours shopping last week I still have more to do!!

So what have I been working on? This is my latest commission, two Border Collies called Bill (black and tan) and Ixannaq (Ixy for short). I just love Ixy's nose! Strange, I know.

Friday, November 30, 2007


10x8 Colour Pencil

What a month, and none of it pleasant. Fingers crossed, touch wood, etc, my headaches appear to be clearing thanks to a course of antibiotics, and I'm starting to feel and look human again.

I've never realised quite how debilitating headaches can be - I was totally useless and could often only manage one or two hours a day on my commissions. Needless to say I have a mountain of things to get through - emails, assessments, commissions, paper work, not to mention Christmas shopping.

I'd like to say this has all been done but unfortunately it hasn't and I HATE the shops at this time of year. I'll need to get my finger out soon as my daughter is starting to wonder whether she'll get anything under the tree this year. Then there's the wrapping (groan). Why does the run up to Christmas invariably turn out to be major stressful? It's enough to give anyone tension headaches and those I could well do without, thank you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Cocker Spaniel

I don't know if it's the weather, something in the air or the stress that comes with the run up to Christmas but I've not been feeling myself these past two weeks - all headachy. Feeling like this does not help when you have to do close, detailed drawings so let's just say not enough's been getting done.

Something I did manage to finish despite all my suffering and pain was this beautiful Cocker Spaniel with very curly ears - my favourite.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A WIP - Part 2

Back again with more of an update really on how my 'experiment' on Ampersand Pastelbord is coming along.

Have now finished the neck area and I am calling it done - minus the whiskers and, of course, the inevitable touch-ups I feel need doing after living with it for a while. BUT as you will no doubt notice, it is still without a background.

I have never been happy doing backgrounds for head studies - you can see this in my work - preferring to leave the white of the paper. Do they really need one? I'm not totally averse to them and will add one if requested to when doing a commission or if I feel it would benefit from having one - if I need to make a lot of white hair or whiskers stand out for example. Having said all this I do want to incorporate backgrounds more into my own work in the future and need to work on this.

If not done correctly a background can be overpowering, not harmonize with the subject or even worse, the subject could end up looking as if it has been stuck on. For these reasons alone I should have worked on the background while I was doing the dog and not left it to last - naughty I know and would probably get a slap on the wrist from many an artist for doing so. I was thinking about it all the way through, honest.

I just hope that whatever I choose to do for this drawing works otherwise I will have wasted 16+ hours working on the dog - another good reason for doing the background first or at the same time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A WIP - Part One

I love trying out new supports to work on when I can - cue Ampersand Pastelbord. I have various sizes and colours of this sitting around waiting to be used and thought it was about time I tried it out.

For those of you who may not have heard of Pastelbord it is, and I quote, "a clay and gesso coated hardboard panel with a granular marble dust finish comparable to a sanded pastel paper except more durable and more versatile." Sounds like it could eat my pencils but I was eager to try it out all the same and see what it could do. And why not have my efforts shown as a WIP. So here it is.....

Stage 1: Adding the darks. I wanted to start with an acrylic underpainting before adding any pencils - this would/should reduce the number of hours spent using coloured pencils. Was pleasantly surprised with how the paint took to this surface and really liked the effects achieved when doing wet in wet. Also found the washes stayed wet for longer which gets a big thumbs up from me.

Stage 2: The underpainting finished. At this stage I know I should be thinking about a background and have this washed in but, as is usually the case when it comes to backgrounds, can't decide what I want to do so leave it as it is for now. I do know I want to do a lot more painting on Pastelbord.

Stage 3: Adding coloured pencil. Start with the eyes, as always, and work on her nose and mouth. I was right, it does eat my pencils! Not sure yet if I like working with coloured pencils on this support.

Stage 4: Adding yet more coloured pencil. Nose and mouth area more or less finished apart from the inevitable tidying up here and there at the end. Building up the colours on her face and ear - not having to do as many layers thanks to the underpainting. STILL thinking about a background, even when I'm not working on it!

Stage 5: Latest update. This is the stage I am at now - working my way down the neck area. Next step is putting in that background.

Monday, October 22, 2007


12x10 Coloured Pencil

Last week saw the schools on holiday again. I know I've said this before but I honestly don't remember having as many holidays when I was at school. Luckily my kids are now at an age where they are happy to amuse themselves and are rarely ever in anyway so I didn't have to spend the week thinking of things to do to keep them amused. A good thing really considering my work load in the run up to Christmas - can't see me having any days off for a good while yet.

Friday, October 12, 2007


A work in progress - coloured pencil
I've been thinking a lot lately about how I never make time (that word again) to go to more art galleries. There are at least 45 art galleries in Edinburgh, according to the Yellow Pages, so have plenty to choose from and no excuses not to visit something on a more regular basis.
I really enjoy going around a good exhibition, often coming away full of inspiration, and so found myself browsing the Internet to find out who and what was showing this month. I managed to drag Gav along to a small local gallery as I recognised one of the artists exhibiting as being someone I went to college with all these years ago, be it a couple of years above me. I enjoyed seeing his work - more contemporary than traditional - and would have loved to have caught up with him personally but he works and lives in Dundee.
One thing I always hope to see being exhibited more are drawings - it's all paintings. Anything coloured pencil would be good but I wouldn't be fussy as long as it wasn't paint all the time. The gallery owner I spoke to yesterday never accepts drawings saying they don't sell and there isn't a market for them - not very encouraging.
As I only have a half finished portrait to show in this post, Odie (who by the way has the cutest wee face), I thought I'd let you see the ref I'll be using for my next 'me piece' that I'll be working on between commissions. It's one I took of Zara on her first birthday, waiting ever so patiently for her biscuit.

Working on Ampersand Pastelbord with paint and coloured pencils this will be a first for me - an experiment - and all going well hope to show it as a WIP right here on my blog - ugly stages and all!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cocker Spaniels

Morse and Lewis
16x12 Coloured Pencil

My latest portrait of two Cocker Spaniels is now finished - 33 hours later, taking slightly longer than I had planned. I blame it on the ears. I'm going to be honest here, I've never been totally happy doing Spaniels ears in coloured pencil (and I love their floppy ears) but don't have this problem with pastel or paint.

It's all those layers of curls and flicks going this way and that and trying to create depth at the same time that I find a bit daunting. Strange I know but true all the same. Despite my 'struggle', and I'm sure we all have them, I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

Is there a subject you find challenging or dislike doing? Do let me know and help make me feel less guilty about picking on Spaniels ears.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Time management

12x10, Coloured Pencil on paper

No I haven't abandoned my blog and am still here. Life in general has simply taken over in one way or another leaving me with not enough hours in the day - again - to fit everything in.

Not having enough hours in the day is something I'm always complaining about prompting me to think more seriously about time management. As a Pay and Personnell Admin Officer in a previous life, managing my time in the office was compulsory so it shouldn't be a problem in the studio and home right? Right! Need to be positive and start as I mean to go on.

So as a start, at the end of everyday I plan to put pen to paper and list all my goals for the following day that I want to accomplish .......... must/WILL accomplish - and stick to it. If that means less time on the Internet or TV, not having elevenses or cooking the kids tea then so be it (ok, maybe not the last one).

The way I see it is that I should be having a lot more work flying off the easel than I am and doing a lot more with my business than what I'm currently doing but for some reason or other am not. I have so many things I want to do, and can do, if I just organized myself better. This should, in turn, give me more time to update my blog regularly (I'm looking at twice a week) - yet something else I keep promising to do but always put off to another day. But not anymore, here's to a more organised and focused me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The horse has a name

I must apologise for the delay in revealing the title I have chosen for my 'Horse on Film' and ultimately the winner who will receive a signed, limited edition print - the first in a run of 150.

Things have been all go this weekend and I've barely had a chance to sit down let alone post on my blog so without further ado .......drum roll ........ 'Horse on Film' is now officially 'Day Dreamer'. Thank you to Lynn from Belgium for this great suggestion - a print will be on its way to you soon.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those who took the time to send me their ideas - it really is much appreciated.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Work, rest and play

Have been really lazy this past week and simply haven't put the hours in that I need to which means playing catch-up for the next week or two. My reason? .... the need to socialise. I love being an artist and doing what I do but there is no getting away from the fact that it can feel quite isolated and lonely stuck behind an easel all day with no-one to talk to (there are many benefits to this also I might add).

So had a great time doing lunch, shopping, talking and visiting. My best friend from school was over from Australia (hi Michelle), having emigrated there just under three years ago, so it was great to catch up with her - talking on the phone just isn't the same. I even had a proper night out, my first in a looooong time.

It wasn't all fun and play though - I did get some work done including this Jack Russell called Archie, my latest commission.

Changing the subject slightly, the closing date for giving a title to my 'Horse on Film' is this Saturday so any suggestions you might have are still gratefully received. A couple of people have chosen to email me personally via my website with their suggestions which is great if you prefer to do it this way. Either way let me have them.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

And another horse...

This time on paper, and with lots of layers. I feel much more at home working with coloured pencils on paper than drafting film - mainly because I know what I'm doing on paper. This does not mean I have given up on drafting film - far from it - just needed to get my layering fix that's all.

When starting a portrait, be it human or animal, I always start with the eyes and work my way out. Get them wrong and the portrait just won't look right as you know. With horses, however, I start with the muzzle and work my way up?!?! Not really sure why apart from it being my favourite part to draw - don't you just love their muzzles?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Horse on film

After a few touch-ups here and there and leaving it for a while to see if anything that wasn't right jumped out at me (it didn't) I am calling my horse on film officially finished. And I'm really quite pleased with it - it looks like a horse which is good.

I'm sure you'll agree with me that 'Horse on film' is not a good title to give it which is why, having been unable to come up with one myself, I am looking to you for inspiration. I'd really love to know what you think so let me have your ideas for a title - you could get a print for your troubles!

Limited edition prints will be available in the near future to purchase via my website but I will give the first of the run - signed, numbered and with a Certificate of Authenticity - to whoever gives me the winning title. There's no rush either, I'll make my choice and reveal the winner on Saturday 15 September, giving you over two weeks of serious thinking time. Now over to you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Collie and Google

My website has been up and running for just over a year now and, I am happy to say, have had a lot of interest in my work because of it. In fact 90% of my commissions come via my website. How people are finding it however remains a mystery to me as I can't find it myself when I do a search! How Google rank websites is beyond me - even more so than Photoshop - and it seems that no matter what I do to increase my chances of it appearing on the top pages it's not happening. I'm just not technically minded, never have been and fear never will be, so maybe expert help is needed but where to start and who to trust. Something to think about.

Something that didn't involve any technology whatsoever was my latest commission of a beautiful Collie called Maggie, completed using coloured pencils. If only everything in life was as straight forward.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Drafting Film

My horse on drafting film was put to one side while I worked on the Springer Spaniel montage and it appears that during this time it had been slowly disappearing under a thick layer of wax bloom. I got a bit of a shock when I saw it because drafting film has a cloudy/frosty look to it anyway and it looked like the colour had literally come off.

I very rarely get wax bloom when working on paper so looks like it could be more of a problem with the drafting film. I am still at the learning stage with this support and, as I said in a previous post, you can't layer like you can on paper and I've definately over layered which wouldn't help with the dreaded bloom.

So with my horse half finished what have I learned, apart from layering, and like about drafting film?
  • I can finish a picture in half the time - OK, so this one has taken 14 hours so far but we (me and drafting paper that is) are just getting aquainted and know that in time it will be a lot quicker to work on.
  • It is so easy to erase mistakes if you happen to make any.
  • I like the feel of the pencil on film - almost creamy - and colours blend better.
  • Colours can be added to the back of the film - a bonus if like me you find you can't add any more pencil on the front.
  • The finished portrait/picture can be mounted on whatever colour support you feel best comliments it.

To give you an idea of how the coloured support can affect the mood and look of the finished picture I have scanned my horse with a few backings. First with black .....

With a bright red .....

A slightly less garish orange .....

And last but not least with a plain white, my favourite so far .....

Try to ignore the background (this will be finished at a later date and has scanned brighter than reality) and look at the colours in the horse and how they change. I've actually been working on her with a black support behind but prefer the white at this stage - all could change when its finished of course.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blog changes

When I joined the world of blogging I mustn't have had my creative thinking hat on when I came up with 'My Art Blog' for a title. So with it forever niggling away at me and a year and a bit later I have eventually done something about it. My blog has a new title - 'Animal Art Adventures'. Still not 100% sure this was the one but I'm a lot happier with it and makes it a lot easier for linking purposes.

That was the easy part, now I have to work out how to add pictures to the sidebar!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Springer Spaniel update

Regular readers of my blog may remember my Springer Spaniel montage - well I am happy to say it is nearing completion having spent the last few days working on it.

This definately comes top of my 'embarrassingly late' list as I have been working on it on and off now for four months. I have never taken this long with a commission - I wont go into the whys and whatnots but am so grateful to my client for being more than understanding and patient.

The main pic of Meg amongst the reeds is now finished and I managed to get a pic of this for you to see, although not a great one due to the crop. Gives you an idea at least. All that's left to do now is the pheasant.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Photoshop and me

I've made no secret of the fact that myself and Photoshop do not get along - I cannot, despite great help from fellow artists, get it sussed and as time goes on fear I never will. I follow instructions step by step and to the letter and while there are times I get it to do what I want there are more when I'm sitting there totally confused - like today when I tried to join two pictures together. I've done this successfully in the past but today Photoshop decided to remove the colour! Why - does it really hate me that much?

I have been working on the Springer Spaniel montage - mainly on the main pic - and wanted to scan where I'm at for my website and blog. Being a large portrait I had to do this in two halves - no problem - but as soon as I joined them the colour disappeared!?!?! I've spent more wasted hours than I care to think of trying to get Photoshop to like me and unfortunately today wasn't the day we gelled so can't show you where I'm at with the montage but can tell you I've made some progress with the reeds and that they're taking a frustratingly long time to do.

Something I could do - hooray - was scan and crop my first of many horse portraits I'm working on in between commissions. This is the first drawing/painting I've done for me in months, in fact coming up to a year and I'm really enjoying working on it.

She's in coloured pencil on drafting film. Working on this surface is great but as with everything, has it's negative points - the main one being layering. As an artist who builds layer upon layer of pencil to get the depth and colour I'm after I found I needed to change my technique quite considerably on this surface. I do like how the pencil feels and looks on it however so will definately be exploring it more.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Collie and horses

My plan to start working doubly hard had to take a back seat this week as I played Florence Nightingale to both my daughter and Zara, our dog. Thankfully nothing serious in both cases but it did take me away from the studio.

I was able to make a start on and finish Elmo the Collie however, which I'm pleased about. Although primarily a black dog, I saw lots of violets, blue and yellows in the black which I had to put in and are there if a bit hard to see in the scan.

Have also spent time this week gathering reference material - mainly horse related - for paintings and drawings I have in mind to do (lots and lots of ideas going on in my head!). Hope to start one - no I WILL start one over the next few days. Horses are going to be a main feature in my work over the coming months as apart from being beautiful, strong, majestic animals I want to take the time to really study them and become more confident in portraying them.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I'm back

Well I can happily say I made it back from my hols in one piece - the plane did not have technical problems causing it to crash land, nor did it have to go through a horrendous thunder and lightning storm or suddenly fall from the sky - AND I managed to stay calm-ish for the whole 2 hours and 50 minute journey. On talking about my anxiety to one of the cabin crew I was told it was not unknown for people to start screaming and demanding to get off just before take-off. Although I can relate to this and totally understand their torment I could see my kids were secretly relieved their mother did not embarass them in this way. Anyway that's my worrying over for another year or so.

We did have a wonderful week away and couldn't fault anything - it was brilliant waking up every morning to guaranteed sunshine and not doing much of anything except eat lots but then doesn't everybody?

I do regret not taking some pencils and a sketch pad with me as by day 3 I was itching to draw something. It wasn't that I forgot or anything as I had considered packing them but didn't think I would have the time or opportunity to draw anything - I won't make that mistake again.

Now back to reality and the British weather I have spent the weekend giving the house a mini spring clean in between doing the inevitable hugh pile of post holiday washing and ironing. Top on my list of priorities was my studio - I hate working surrounded by mess and as it's back to the easel for me tomorrow had to get this done. I plan to work doubly hard and concentrate on producing paintings and drawings for my own use as well as commissioned portraits so should have a lot to blog about and pics to show.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Changes afoot

With less than a week to go before I go off on holiday and all thoughts on ways to survive the flight, work still goes on behind the easel. Harvey the Chocolate Lab and Goldie the Greyhound are now finished ready for posting early next week.

I had hoped to have made a start on the Collie but time hasn't been on my side - again. I did have a terrible headache for two days (probably through too much worrying) which stopped me from doing anything but feel sorry for myself so I do have a reason at least - that and a bit of necessary shopping for holiday essentials.

Have also been doing a lot of thinking this past week on how I see my business progressing and what I want to be doing (on 2nd thoughts maybe this caused my headache!). Prints for sale is one such change.

This has been one of my aims for a long time and now, thanks to hubby, I'm the proud owner of an Epson R2400 (well I will be in 4 days time on my birthday) and I LOVE it. Just need to work on some drawings and paintings I have in mind to turn into prints. The only problem is where to put it - it's HUGE - but no time to worry about that now, I've a plane to catch soon!

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Being a mother of two children I am used to the saying "but I'm the only one in my class....." followed by some thing or other that they don't have. Well the latest from my daughter is that she is the only one who's not going abroad somewhere for the holidays. Although totally untrue it did strike a chord with me and make me think.

If I'm being honest my family have had to make do with spending the holidays at various locations around the UK because I am petrified of flying. On a plane I think too much, I become panicky and it takes everything in me to stop me from having a full blown panic attack - I'd feel a lot better knowing I could go outside for fresh air if I needed to! Instead I am 'trapped' for however many hours inside thousands and thousands and thousands and ....... of feet up in the air - that's another thing why do they have to go so ****** high?

Anyway I could go on and on about why I hate flying and reasons not to but going back to my daughter and her longing to go abroad decided it was time to do something about it. So the last few days have been spent trailing the Internet for that holiday abroad - and Majorca here we come! It's been booked so no going back and we leave in just under two weeks - my hearts racing just writing about it.

There are portraits I need to finish before going on holiday - two I have made a start on and are currently WIP's. The first is of a Greyhound called Goldie and this is where I am at with her (for some reason she never scans well??) .......

The second is of a beautiful Chocolate Lab called Harvey. I am doing this as a demo on a forum that I'm a member of and you can see how I got to this stage, the colours I used etc. by clicking here.

Also need to do a Collie in coloured pencils and work some more on the Springer Spaniel montage so no time to worry about that 3 hour flight - I wish!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Coloured Pencil Course

Of all the mediums I choose to work in (and there are a few) my favourite, and most requested, is definately coloured pencil. They are clean, easy to use, inexpensive, non-toxic not to mention incredibly versatile. I have found them to be a very forgiving medium capable of achieving the finest of details and I love their vibrancy. What's there not to like about them?

I was delighted therefore to be given the opportunity to tutor the distance learning Coloured Pencil Course run by the prestigious London Art College. The course is an introduction to coloured pencils and covers various techniques and a variety of subjects to help the student become an accomplished coloured pencil artist.

On enrolment students are provided with easy to follow course notes with assignments allowing them to work at their own pace, at a time convenient to them and in the comfort of their own home. There are no deadlines or time limits. As the personal tutor I am on hand to provide help, support and advice.

I'm really looking forward to this new role and seeing what the students can do with coloured pencils.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Golden Retrievers finished

Floyd and George the two Goldens are now finished and here is the completed portrait with them together as promised .....

Have now started work on the Greyhound and should have a progress shot to show you soon.

Unfortunately things have been a bit slow behind the easel this past week or two and I haven't had as much time as I would like to dedicate to my drawings with having to catch up on other tedious but necessary tasks - mainly paperwork. But that's it done now - no more complaining.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another Golden

But same portrait. This week I continued working on the portrait of two Golden Retrievers and finished this lovely fellow .....

I plan to have this portrait finished tomorrow so watch this space for the full version with them together. Next up on the easel is a Greyhound.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I'm in love.......

With Prismacolor Verithin pencils that is. I was inspired to try them after another artist I admire gave them a good review on her blog alongside a beautiful drawing she did using them. Always one to try something new, especially when it comes to colour pencils, I included a set of 36 Verithins to an existing order - and am I glad I did.

If a pencil is capable of getting the tiniest of details then this is the one. I have been using them with Derwent Artist pencils on my latest portrait of two Goldens and really like the feel of them. I've always favoured using Derwents to the other brands for a number of reasons, one being the lead is harder and in turn you get a sharper line - the Verithin gets it sharper.

I have one major problem with them however, and that is there are only 36 colours in the range - what were/are Prismacolor thinking? I'd like to draw an animal just using Verithins but apart from taking me, I would imagine, twice as long to complete there are not enough of the right colours but I do think they were intended to be used in conjunction with other brands of pencils, primarily Prismacolors.

This is one of the Goldens nearly completed - still to work on the fur on his neck - using Derwents and the wonderful Verithins (you'll probably have gathered by now I quite like them).

So, if there are any colour pencil enthusiasts out there who haven't tried Verithin pencils yet do try and get hold of some - you wont be disappointed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Elkhound Montage

24 x 18, colour pencil and pencil

After giving both dogs something to sit on - in this case grass - and doing my usual 'touch ups' here and there I am now calling the Elkhound montage finished. After a difficult start and taking a lot longer to complete than I had originally planned I am really happy with how this portrait turned out.

It is now the one and only portrait sitting in my new 'Montage Gallery' on my website. I have wanted to do a montage for a long time now and to offer them as a choice on my website but, as is always the case, I could never find the time.

I don't know about other artists reading this blog but if I sit down and do a bit of art 'for me' and have commissions sitting there with deadlines to meet I feel guilty and would blame that piece if I didn't finish a commission in time. What if a commission takes longer than I first thought?, what about the knock on effect for other commissions? Yes, I probably think too much but it does worry me which is a relatively new thing as I haven't always felt like this - it's a shame as I always said I would put aside time for my own work. That said, I have had a busy year which is great and as my husband always kindly points out, I don't have to sit and watch every soap going on the TV!

My Montage Gallery is in the early stages but I plan to add more to this over the coming months. I'm still slowly working on the Springer Spaniel montage, which I hope to have finished soon, and I want to do one of our dog, Zara, at some point. Hopefully having this choice in my galleries will encourage someone to go for that something a bit more special and have their own pet montage.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

More on the Norwegian Elkhounds

Have now completed three of the four pencil head studies for the Elkhound montage....

As is always the case with my pencil drawings I am never happy with how they scan or photograph as a lot of the detail is lost and the paper always looks grey. I'm sure there is something I can do to them in Photoshop that I don't know about but until I master all there is to know with that program (it is on my 'really must do' list) I will have to make do with this.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Norwegian Elkhounds - a WIP

Keeping a blog really brings home to me how time flies by and I often look at what work I have done between posts and more often than not think I could/should be doing more - like now.

It's almost two weeks since I last posted and in that time I have been working on a large colour pencil portrait of two beautiful Norwegian Elkhounds and this is where I am at (pic has been cropped) .....

Working with colour pencils can and does take time - a lot of time - but, despite having an overwhelming urge to paint something quickly, I still favour them above other media and think the finished result is worth it. That doesn't stop me wishing on occasions that I had more to show at the end of a working day and have been known to despair at 'how little' I have achieved that day. All that said I do love watching the portrait 'come to life'.

The Elkhounds were originally going to have a full outdoor background with lots of greenery but the more I worked on the dogs the more I felt the greens would overpower them. I was reluctant to start the background and, after many a sleepless night to think the best way forward, it's been agreed to turn the portrait into a montage. A lot happier with this decision I am now working on four pencil head studies to complete the portrait. All going well I should be able to show you 2 of these tomorrow - 3 if it turns out to be a productive day!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Artists block?

What a week - and not in a good productive way with work flying off the easel. Instead I have binned two attempts at my latest commission as I wasn't happy with how either were progressing. Normally, although frustrating, this wouldn't be a problem but when I'm on a tight schedule with deadlines to meet it is precious time wasted.

Three days on and a switch from pastels to colour pencils - not to mention many thoughts of self doubt - I am a lot happier with how it is turning out. This is going to be a large portrait with full background so will show some in progress shots in another post - need to work on it a bit more to have anything worth posting (am also hoping to have an A3 size scanner over the weekend to make things easier).

I can however show you a portrait that is finished - except for a bit of tweaking here and there - of two short haired tabbies. Brothers Harry and George are drawn on Fabriano Artistico paper with colour pencils, size 16 x 12.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cairn Terrier

My latest commission using pastels is of a Cairn Terrier called Sherry. I was told she is soft and gentle and being a terrier, bright, alert and full of life. The photographs certainly showed this and I wanted to capture this side of her in her portrait.

Personally, and I don't mind admitting this, I find this type of dog, i.e. terriers of the long haired variety, the most challenging to draw - mind you I haven't tried a poodle yet! It's all that hair which I find a bit ....... overwhelming before I even start. I don't help myself by trying to portray every hair I see and can get lost in the detail.

With Sherry I made a conscious effort to see her as 'tonal shapes' and not 10,000 single hairs layered this way and that and found pastel as a medium helped in not getting too caught up in the intricate details.

On a totally different note I wanted to share with you - you being just about the last to know - a bit of good news. As regular readers will know I have been taking Zara (my gorgeous boxer puppy) to training classes with my daughter and earlier tonight she passed The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Bronze Award. She did really well and was so good - well done Zara!! Silver award here we come.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Springer Spaniel Montage

This week I started working on a montage that's been on my waiting list for an embarrassingly long time now. The main subject is a beautiful Springer Spaniel called Meg and will be a first for me in two ways ......

At 24 x 18 inches it will be the largest colour pencil portrait I have done to date and all going well will look quite impressive when finished. It is also my first montage on paper (I have completed many in my head). Doing a montage has been on my 'must do' list for ages but thanks to work commitments haven't found the time. I will still get this done and then plan to offer 'montages' as an option on my website.

In the meantime I'm enjoying working on Meg's montage which I have named 'Meg and friends' (there will be a rabbit, partridge and pheasant in there as well). So far I have made a start on the main pic of Meg which shows her amongst the reeds - another first when I get round to doing them! This is what I have done so far ..........

And putting the reeds off to another day, a couple of head studies ......

Sunday, April 29, 2007

What a difference a day makes....

..... or 2 or 3. Have now finished the portrait of Lara, the boxer, after putting it to one side for a few days so I could look at it with 'fresh' eyes. I wasn't really happy with how it was progressing but couldn't put my finger on why. Having this break helped as when I looked at it again could see the colouring wasn't right - she was looking too orange - funny how these things seem so obvious after looking at it afresh.

Funnily enough while I had decided to change the colour of her fur I found out from her owner that the photograph I was working from - although taken outside - wasn't a true representation of her colouring and she was in fact a lot darker all over. Her ears, for example, are completely black in real life but looked light brown on the photograph!!

I have now made all the necessary changes and am a lot happier with how it looks. So here she is, Lara, the boxer..........

Monday, April 23, 2007

Boxer update

Another stage in my boxer portrait. Worked on this over the weekend and would be further on if I wasn't so easily distracted.

Being a mother of 2 children, and having a husband who works nights, I have found I can do a lot of work undisturbed in the evenings and had planned such an evening last Saturday. Unfortunately I caught a couple of minutes of 'Grease is the Word' on TV and ended up watching all one and a half hours of it just to see who got through! Sad I know, but I was a BIG Grease fan when I was a child - still find it strange that my daughter is too and like me knows the words to all the songs.

Anyway, I digress, all was not lost and had I been focused could still have a couple of hours behind the easel - I even got as far as sitting there with pastels in hand. But then my daughter decided she wanted to watch one of her DVD's about cheer leaders and boy meets girl etc. I don't know why I'm admitting this but I found myself engrossed in this also and it really wasn't worth watching. So where I could have had 4 hours well spent at my easel I chose to spend it watching rubbish on TV!

I've put my boxer to one side for a few days to start work on a Springer Spaniel montage that has been on my waiting list since before Christmas. Looking forward to this portrait with all the different images to portray - 8 in all - and will post updates as I work on it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Boxer in progress

This is a commissioned portrait I have just finished of a collie and jack russell in colour pencil. Taking just under 2 weeks to complete this portrait is definately up there in the 'taking forever' column.

Next up on my easel is a beautiful boxer in pastel. I have found it very hard to get past the 'ugly stage' with this portrait - for some reason this stage lasts longer for me when working in pastels - and had to keep reminding myself that it would all come together. I think it's because, certainly in the way I work, that there is a lot of blocking in with the pastels and the detail comes later, i.e. I'm impatient! Here is where I am with it just now - as you can see still a long way to go.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rising temperatures

We have been really lucky weatherwise the last couple of days and, if the papers are right, boasted higher temperatures than some popular foreign holiday resorts. I did not, however, laze around in the garden lapping up the suns rays - although I was seriously tempted - and instead worked on my commissions, unlike some......

My husband and Zara having a rest .....

After playing on the trampoline!!!

And not content on keeping me company, preferring instead to make the most of it and watch the world go by .....

But thanks to my strong willpower I finished this portrait of Bonnie .....

Sadly, while working on her portrait Bonnie was put to rest after, I am told, 18 wonderful years of life. Hopefully her portrait will help in some way to keep the memory of Bonnie alive.