Friday, 31 December 2010

31/12: LAST POST IN 2010

I shan't be sorry to say goodbye to 2010 .... as friends and followers will know my stepson had a very nasty motorcycle accident in April.  He was in a coma for 5 weeks and hospital for 23 weeks.  Thankfully he is now continuing his rehab and recovery at home with his Mum and stepdad.  

The plans we had were scuppered and hospital visiting dominated our Summer.  For that reason I will not be joining my many Blogger friends who are being very organised and setting out their goals and objectives for the New Year.   I will probably put in some entries for a couple of exhibitions/competitions but anything else will be 'played by ear' - I intend to just enjoy my art but will not be following a structured plan!  (that's my excuses over .... better than making lots of resolutions and breaking them before the month is out methinks)!!

Our first Grandchild arrived at the end of October and she is lovely (Sophie-Louise)  - so the family news wasn't all bad although I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into Grannyhood   :o)

Anyway, here is an update on Snow Drop ... I didn't manage to finish her today for my last 2010 portrait - she will have to be my first 2011 completion.

We are off to stay with friends this evening ... we traditionally see in the New Year together and have tried various venues -our holiday home in the Canaries, Bernkastel Germany,  Vianden Luxembourg, EuroDisney Paris ... and a couple of  'posh' hotels in the UK.   This year we decided to save megabucks and stay at home with a take-away curry and a few bottles of bubbly.    I'm sure this will be the best one yet!!

Have a great New Year everybody wherever you are and I look forward to catching up with you all in 2011


Thursday, 30 December 2010


This is Snow Drop - her identity tag shows the name as two separate words.

Progress is slow with this picture .... I am definitely struggling with the Sennelier Pastel Card and I'm not sure if its the colour or the gritty texture which is slowing me.    I suspect I should have laid a base of soft pastel first to help with depth ... but I haven't got any soft pastels in white or grey (to be added to shopping list) (!!)

This is where I finished tonight ... I have put in quite a lot of eye and nose detail just to make me feel a little happier about the picture .. although I know I'll have to keep 'touching up' these areas as the pastel dust dulls them.

and here are some photos I took along the way.  It really has been a case of slowly building up the colour.   These are all taken with flash and don't show the underlying shades of cream, grey, blue and pink that I've used to help add contours to her face.   Maybe they'll be clearer if I remember to photograph the next stage whilst we still have some daylight (I won't call it sunlight as we've had heavy mist/fog hanging around all day so I've had to work with two daylight lamps burning)!

It would be nice to think I can finish her tomorrow but realistically it will most likely need an extra day so I'll aim to finish her by Sunday and start work 'proper' on the commissioned portrait of a labrador.    With these two 'under my belt' I feel as though I've finally got back into the swing of things.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010


The more observant readers may notice that this is not the Labrador I was supposed to be working on today (!!)  but David pointed out that I have another exhibition scheduled next week (for 1 week at the Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable) and I'm rather 'top heavy' in terms of cat pictures - both domestic and wild.   He suggested I add another dog or two to the portfolio of works available for sale to balance things up.

So this puppy will probably be on exhibition.  I'm calling it finished now, although it will need tidying up a little when I can see stray specks of pastel etc in better light tomorrow.   I'll also try to photograph it in natural light (however poor that might be) as this is yet another 'flash' photograph.

This is intended to be a portrait of a beautiful white Shepherd puppy I photographed a while back when walking along our local beach path.   Her name is Snow Drop and she probably looks very different now as she will be fully grown. 

In some of the photos I can see her owner's telephone number on her identity tag, so if this picture turns out well and is ready in time to be exhibited I may contact him to see whether he'd be interested in viewing the picture at the Gallery.  He does live locally, judging by the area code of his number :o)   In any event, he might like to have copies of the photographs I took - I have about 20 (she was so cute and photogenic).

I'm not at all sure about the background colour here.   I had planned to use a pink shade but didn't have a large enough piece available.  This is Sennelier La Carte pastelcard in their Sienna shade.  I hope that once I have built up the layers of white fur the background colour will look less sombre.    If all else fails I'll have to add a background, but that really will be a last resort.  The paper feels quite 'scratchy' after using pastelmat for the last few portraits ... its taking a while to adjust to the different texture.

This is the outline I completed before the light became too poor

So, this may or may not work .... I'll have a better idea tomorrow!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


I outlined a yellow labrador, my next commission, but despite having good reference photos I found myself prevaricating and making very little progress.  I think its just the aftermath of Christmas and entertaining etc which is making me a little sluggish :o)

So I've put the labrador to one side and will go back to work on it tomorrow.     In the interim I started work on this border collie puppy.   You may recognise the puppy as he was the model for my 'Windy Day' picture which was awarded Best in Show at the World of Coloured Pencil Exhibition 2009 at the Cumberland Pencil Museum.  I have several similar photos of the same dog and as he is so cute I thought I'd use him as the model to get me back on track.   The last drawing was completed in coloured pencil on drafting film.  This one is pastel on white pastelmat paper.

This is a photograph taken with flash so colours aren't accurate but I'll get better shots as the picture progresses.


Sunday, 26 December 2010


We've just taken my Mum home - the last of our Christmas Guests to leave - and visited Roxy (my horse) then dropped a birthday card into a friend's home - his birthday is tomorrow so we couldn't trust Royal Mail to deliver the card on time given the Christmas chaos and backlog due to snowy conditions.

So .... time to chill out, put our feet up and relax without having to worry about entertaining guests!

Hope you all had (and are continuing to have) an enjoyable holiday.

Here's a photo of the youngest member of our family enjoying the festivities .... Sophie Louise at 8 weeks old - flat on her back and enjoying a good old kick and wriggle on her mat

Grandad (David) has already figured out that she'll be old enough to appreciate a train set next Christmas!!

Tomorrow I need to get back to the drawing board .... I have a yellow labrador next in the schedule, and I must crack on with various jobs I need to undertake for the UK Coloured Pencil Society.    There is a major exhibition/celebration planned for September and its time to let everybody know what will be happening.  

Saturday, 25 December 2010


My commission order book is now full till the end of the year so I can't accept any portrait orders for delivery before 25 December.

However,a Portrait Gift Voucher makes a wonderful gift and is valid for one year which enables the recipient to select their favourite reference photo(s) at their leisure. Please see my website for further details.

If you are the recipient of a Gift Voucher issued during 2010 and require a portrait to be completed by Christmas please contact me .. I  allow some free space in my schedule for redemption of Vouchers and can probably accommodate your requirement.

Best Wishes

Friday, 24 December 2010


Greetings from Roxy (photographed a few years ago before she was old and grey like her Mum) :o)

We hold similar views on Christmas I'm afraid

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Phew!!   Got there in the end ... this is the last of the Christmas portraits and as the snow is clearing in our part of  the county I'm hoping we can deliver the portrait this afternoon.   The recipient lives in a fairly remote area so I'm not sure whether her Lane is passable ... but fingers crossed!

and this is the portrait framed - the mount is cream and the frame is oak but the light isn't great for taking photos today.      As I've said in a previous post, Noggin was a very 'solid, square' dog so I wanted to use a square mount and frame and have him 'fill' the space ... he was a real larger than life character and sorely missed!

I do hope his 'mum' likes this

Right ... off to brave the snow and hopefully we'll also get to visit some family members today else they'll be disinheriting us :-)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

21/12: SLIGHT THAW ?

Here in Whitstable we enjoyed some very weak sunshine which was enough to melt some of the recent snow ... and as you can see, these gulls took the opportunity to soak up some rays on a neighbour's roof.  

I nearly made this a caption competition .. ??!!

The slight thaw, and the news that the local council had gritted all major roads in Kent, encouraged us to venture out in the car to buy a few 'stocking fillers' .....

This is the 'cleared' road through Blean Woods ... en route from Whitstable to Canterbury.  Well done to Canterbury Council!!

we also checked whether our neighbours needed any essential supplies ... we have two neighbours, both single ladies in their 80s (and both real toughies)!!   I'm always worried about being too 'pushy' and annoying them but I was really upset this morning to get a call from the daughter of one of the ladies who was worried that she had received a distress call but  hadn't been able to make phone contact with her mum.

Our 83 year old neighbour's electric system had 'tripped' and the power box was too high on the wall for her to reach  ..... she still had lighting in the house but couldn't use any appliances.     This happened at 8pm last night and so she took herself off to bed to get warm.   This morning she dressed herself in many layers of warm clothing and phoned her daughter (she could make calls but not receive incoming calls because of the problem).   Her daughter phoned us and I went to her Mum's house and was able to throw the trip switch and restore normality ... but she'd gone 12 hours without access to hot food or drinks ..... Senior Citizens can be so bl**dy proud!!      When I restored the power (a matter of seconds) she was so overwhelmingly grateful and apologetic for bothering us that I felt like crying ..... she was a 'gunner' in the War and, in her own words, a toughie!!!    She could certainly teach younger generations a thing or two about life!!"

Anyway,    to end on a happier note ..... despite last night's snowfall ... life goes on ..

and  I hope you don't think I'm fixated on Squirrels but I do admire their cunning and tenacity.    I put some peanuts in the bird feeder tray this afternoon and within minutes this visitor arrived ... I have no idea why the background is so 'orange' as in reality its our snow covered garden ??   My camera must have picked up on the distant fence colouring.

I love the expression on his/her face.

Because of the weather conditions, we haven't been able to visit parents, children or my horse since getting back from Fuerteventura last week ... tomorrow we hope to rectify that.    I also need to deliver the last Christmas portrait tomorrow or Thursday so, fingers crossed!!!

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Another progress report on the portrait I'm currently working on - I'm aiming to deliver this on Wednesday - weather permitting.

I believe Noggin was a Bull Mastiff, although he doesn't have as much of a 'black mask' as the breed standard demands ... but he was a lovely character and I've had my toes squashed many times when he sat on my feet to prevent me moving when he wanted attention.    This portrait is a surprise Xmas present so I hope it isn't too soon after Noggin's death which was about 6 weeks ago ....

This afternoon I've been adding lots more fine hair detail - quite a challenge with all those wrinkles and folds.  I'd like to get the hair finished tomorrow so I can concentrate on his nose and muzzle area.   I have a square mount and frame ready and waiting ... he was kind of a square shaped dog so I think it will work well.

Again, the photo was taken in poor light conditions, using flash but I'll take the final picture/s in daylight when the portrait is finished so the colours will be truer

We had a little more snow here this afternoon but the temperatures must have risen above freezing point as some of the snow has melted this afternoon.  We still have around 5 inches of snow in the garden.    

I took pity on the birds this morning and warmed up some of the frozen fatballs in the microwave (much to David's horror) .... but how would he like to have to sit and wait for his dinner to defrost??   Anyway, 3 x 20 second bursts of full microwave power for a dozen fatballs worked perfectly and we've had a constant stream of feathered visitors this afternoon who were very appreciative!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

18/12: SNOW WOES

Our day was planned with great precision .... deliver a Christmas portrait at a pre-arranged rendezvous point quite close to where our parents and daughter (with new grand-daughter) live so we could do all the family visiting and also see my horse who is retired at a wonderful yard nearby.

We set out in sunshine but as we approached the portrait delivery venue we were driving in blizzard conditions.   Our meeting with the client was therefore very brief as we were all concerned about getting trapped.   We decided the safest option was to head back home without making any visits ... the journey should have taken 45 minutes but because few of the roads had been gritted we got home nearly 5 hours later.    Luckily we had mince pies in the car which had been intended for sharing with the parents ... so we didn't starve!

Our house and garden looks very pretty ... we've only had about 5 inches of snow but in the UK that is more than enough to create total chaos ... so airports closed, major shopping centres closed on the busiest shopping day of the year, roads gridlocked with broken down vehicles and lots of 'crumpled' cars ... its amazing how stupid some drivers are - despite the icy conditions they still try to overtake, drive too fast and brake too hard!

Anyway, grumbles over.  We're safely home.

Here's the mastiff I started working on yesterday - I outlined him and put down a basic layer of pastel to place his 'wrinkles' and work out hair direction etc., I've had to use flash photography here so it isn't a great picture but I need to show it to give me the motivation to crack on with it tomorrow.    I don't think we'll be venturing out of the house unless the snow disappears overnight.

Friday, 17 December 2010

17/12: WE'RE BACK!!

Its always difficult getting back on track after a holiday but we are both really struggling Big Time today.   It isn't so much the 25+ degree drop in temperature, but more the fact that it is dark here in Kent  at 3.30pm .... nearly 3 hours earlier than in the Canaries!

Anyway, we had a fabulous time catching up with friends who live/work full time in Fuerteventura - I think tourism is picking up again and all the restaurants and bars seemed busier .. though it was strange listening to Christmas Carols and festive music being piped through the shop and supermarket sound systems.

Our internet connection was so poor that I couldn't log onto Blogger, or many of the art websites I enjoy in the UK and I probably won't be able to catch up on 3 weeks worth of missed posts now .. so this post is just to say Hi to all my blogger friends

I will be out and about for most of tomorrow ... visiting Roxy (my horse)  our Mums, our daughter and new grand-daughter and I also have to deliver a Christmas portrait (3 Grandchildren).    

I have one more Christmas portrait to finish - it will be hand-delivered mid next week and I made a start on it late this afternoon.   The subject is an English Bull Mastiff who very sadly passed away recently.  I had the privilege of knowing him for four years ... a real gentle giant!   We used to joke about how he conserved his energy, rarely breaking into a trot even when excited ... but since discovered that he had heart problems which made him lethargic .... RIP Noggin .. You are sadly missed by all the gang!  I hope your Mum will be pleased with the portrait.

Hopefully will be able to post a couple of WIP pics tomorrow evening or Sunday.    

Then I have a beautiful yellow lab to complete for an early January birthday so will be working right up until Christmas Day!!

No pictures to post today ... but will get back on track over the weekend!

Incidentally, have any of my UK blogger friends discovered 'purple potatoes' ??    We bought a small pack of 'Albert Bartlett Purple Majesty Potatoes' yesterday .... they taste wonderful as simple baked potatoes.   They look like a cross between standard potatoes and uncooked beetroot.    The flesh is purple and even when peeled, boiled and mashed they retain their unusual colour.    The flavour is good and I'm going to cook some with Christmas lunch ....... just to wind up the guests!! ... I'm pretty certain neither our Mums or the 'younger generation' will have tried them yet!    Happy days ...!!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Just thought I'd try to make a short post on my blog as its a week since we arrived at our little holiday home on the lovely Canarian Island of Fuerteventura.    The weather was fantastic on our first afternoon but has been very 'iffy' since .... we had the most fantastic storm on Monday night with lots of thunder and lighting - very noisy and very bright ... even at 3am!!  According to the local weather station, on Monday night 7028 lightning flashes were counted (makes you wonder who counted them ... but I agree there were lots of them)

Despite the rain/storms, the temperatures here are 22 degrees warmer than in the UK (and I'm quoting shade temperatures here)

I brought the camera with me but forgot the battery charger so I haven't got any new pics.    Here's a little postcard we made last year showing 3 of our favourite views in Corralejo, and all of them within a few minutes walk of our house.  The top view is of the Harbour in the 'old town' and this is our favourite area with lots of lovely bars and restaurants who don't cater for the 'British' tourists wanting 'gutbuster breakfasts' and TVs showing soaps and football!!   We avoid places like that at all costs.   The Ferries leave from here to go to Lanzarote ... which you can just see in the background.

The middle picture is taken from one of our favourite beach bars overlooking the 'town beach'  - A great place to chill out at the end of each evening also

The last view is our first glimpse of the sea when we leave our house and take the 'beach walk' into town ... it looks a little bleak as there isn't much sand here .. its all volcanic rock but still very spectacular.  The famous Corralejo sand dunes are a 15 minute walk from here - real Lawrence of Arabia stuff.    I love this place!

Just 15 minutes walk from our house we have the famous Fuerteventura sand dunes ... miles of sand and turquoise sea .....    wish you were here????

Seriously, I hope everyone in the UK is managing stay warm and safe and the snow isn't causing too many problems.

I'm sitting out on our patio with a glass of wine and it is just getting dark at 6.30pm so I need to find a cardi  to cover my bikini/shorts ... I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be sitting outside at home in Whitstable!!  Actually its getting pretty bl**dy cold now so time to get into warmer clothes.     If this posts successfully I'll try another one later in the week.

Monday, 22 November 2010

22/11: BAD NEWS DAY!

Its been a hectic weekend.  In addition to the usual round of family visits etc., my Mum came to stay for a couple of days so we've taken her out and about - not really ideal weather for visiting the seaside resorts though.  I had to 'man' the Gallery from 12 to 3pm yesterday as my share of the 'rota' so Mum and David sat with me - despite the gloomy, drizzly weather the exhibition attracted a lot of visitors and there were lots of sales of smaller gift items.  

Today has been spent preparing the house for the decorators who will make good/paint all woodwork, walls and ceilings whilst we are on holiday.  The house is 3 years old now so I hope all the 'shrinkage' cracks have stopped appearing.  I've been emptying all the display cabinets, dresser etc so the furniture is lighter to move around ... trouble is I then ended up with crates of glasses and 'best china' and nowhere to store it all!   They won't be decorating my 'studio room' so all mirrors, wallhangings and 'breakables' will be temporarily housed here.

Tonight I heard that a commission I despatched to my client on Thursday has arrived with the glass broken and some damage to the portrait (not sure how bad the damage is yet).   I have used these couriers (Interparcel) many times before with no problem but when I phoned to inform them of the damage they deny responsibility.  Apparently despite having completed the declaration stating what was in the parcel - and paying a higher fee to raise the level of insurance cover - glass items, or items containing glass, are covered for loss only and not damage in transit!   Ironically I have despatched 2 framed/glazed portraits to this same client in the past - 3rd time was not lucky!    I think this episode has convinced me that I will never offer framed portraits unless the portrait can be delivered or collected.  

Tomorrow I have to sort out lots of last minute things at home, remove the pictures from the Gallery (exhibition ends tomorrow) and pack a bag.  We leave for the airport in the early hours of Wednesday .. so I have very little time to work out a solution with my client - much depends on what the level of damage is and whether it has to be re-drawn from scratch .    I'm not a happy bunny!  I will never use Interparcel again!!

I don't even have a happy photo to post today  ....  

so here's a portrait I drew 4 years ago now ..... the older I get the more I sympathise with this character

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Today was a real 'eye-opener' for me
I worked in London for years and, as most commuters probably do,  took it all for granted

Today David and I travelled  from Ebbsfleet (Kent)  to St Pancras (High speed rail link) and took the Victoria line underground to Green Park.  It was bliss to escape London Underground and walk through the 'Royal Parks' Green Park and St James Park to Central Hall.

Whilst walking through the parks  don't think we heard one English voice ... which is great as it means tourism is obviously booming and these parks are very close to Buckingham Palace of course.

Anyway ..

Whilst  crossing the road to get to St James Park I photographed a Royal Rolls Royce!!    See the crest on the roof.   The most noticeable thing is that these Royal vehicles don't have registration plates (far too common)!!!

I was going to stretch the truth a little and say that this was the vehicle that was laid on for David and Myself during our daytrip to London!    but it wasn't!!

Shortly afterwards, I took a couple of photos of more iconic figures - our mounted police ladies and gents


I have the greatest admiration for the horses that work in central London, facing riot crowds, heavy traffic etc

and here are a few poor pics of the Central Hall Westminster where the UKCPS 2011 exhibition will be staged.   Its directly opposite Westminster Abbey so today my plans to photograph the place were totally thwarted because the surrounding area had been taken over by papparazzi and TV newsreporters who were camped out awaiting news of where the Royal Wedding will be staged next Spring/Summer ..... I believe Westminster Abbey is favourite with the 'Bookies'.  Nevertheless I did get a few photos - this is an amazing building and it will be a very prestigious venue for the 2011 Annual Exhibition of the UKCPS.

Friday, 19 November 2010

19/11: UPDATE

I'd hoped to have started work on an English Mastiff  but have been busy with other things so .. watch this space!!

  Yesterday was the AGM of the local art Group I visited as a guest recently so I attended  and signed up for full membership next year.  Mulled wine and mince pies were served - very jolly!

Then it was off to the Horsebridge Gallery armed with sausage rolls, nibbles and wine ready for the 'Open Night' which ran from 6pm to 8.30pm.

It was packed full which was wonderful.  I think the visitors were more interested in socialising and drinking than buying ... but it was a great atmosphere.  Lots of smaller items - cards and crafts were being purchased but not pictures.

Best news was that I had Red Dots on two of my pictures.   3 pictures had sold on the Exhibition's first day (Wednesday) and 2 of those were mine!!!  It was the horse and the spaniel which sold - smaller pieces, but great news nevertheless - and the exhibition still has 6 days to go.

The 'dad and daughters' picture was despatched by courier yesterday.  It has been shipped in a dark pine wood frame which isn't to my client's taste but fits in with the other furnishings in 'dad's' home.  It was completed in coloured pencil on Clairefontaine Pastelmat

Now I'm just getting ready to 'commute' to London to meet with other Executive members of the UK Coloured Pencil Society.   The Society will celebrate its 10th year by staging a huge Exhibition at Central Hall Westminster in September.  Today's trip is to have a look at the venue (I haven't been there before) and sort out a gameplan.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


'Made in Whitstable' is an internet community/group comprised of 'local creative people'     20 of us are exhibiting works this week at Horsebridge Gallery in Whitstable.

Last night the arts and crafts were assembled/hung/laid out and the exhibition opens today with a Private View tomorrow evening 6pm to 8.30pm (drinks/nibbles being served)

I took a few photos during the hanging process as I'm not sure how practical it will be to do so during the week when the gallery is open to the public - I'm thinking positive that there will be lots of interest as Whitstable is a bustling place (and the Gallery is a nice warm refuge in cold weather - it has its own cafeteria too).  We finished hanging my pictures before many of the others so I haven't got pictures of all the exhibits but there's plenty to see if anyone is in the area.

A lot of the art on display is 'contemporary' and mine looks a little out of place - not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing ... also I know I have too many cats (that will be remedied as I get time to produce more non-commissioned pictures).  I am exhibiting some original pictures for sale, and showing some sample pieces which aren't for sale -  to demonstrate my portrait work and create interest for commissions next year (I will be cutting down on commissions in favour of  exhibition pieces but would still like to have a few on the go)

Its all a learning curve - here is my 'bit of wall'

and my neighbours' exhibits - I don't think they are all hung yet.  Flash photography has shown up all the indentations in the walls but in reality they don't look this bad.   At the end of each exhibition all nail/screw holes have to be filled and painted so the walls are pitted but not as dirty as they look here.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Our garden visitors are costing an absolute fortune at the moment.  The hedgehogs are shovelling in as much food as they can in readiness for hibernation.  A month ago they were eating 1/3 tin dog food each evening with some peanuts, raisins and grated cheese for interest.  Now we've increased that to 2/3 tin food and extra 'bits'.  They really are gaining weight and looking very 'portly'

We have 7 bird feeders hanging from branches of the fruit trees in our garden.  I replenished all the fat balls on Sunday and they're almost empty again just 2 days later ... I blamed the starlings who arrived in droves yesterday - but now I know who the real culprits are.   3 of the little' tree rats' were raiding the feeders this morning.   I managed to get several pictures of this little beastie as he wasn't worried about the camera

and my final 'wildlife' episode ....

David suggested I should produce a small 'contemporary' picture to include in the upcoming exhibition based on Zebra stripes.    We recently bought some  frames and mounts from Hobbycraft as we were attracted to the shape - they are square rather than traditional oblong shape.  So his bright idea was to draw something to fit one of the frames.  

I cracked on with this cropped study using pastels on Pastelmat for speed.   It didn't meet with his approval - he'd been thinking of something more abstract and done in graphite (I had to 'educate' him that graphite is not a 'fast option' and I am not an 'abstract' kind of woman)!!

The silly thing is, we'd both forgotten that when we purchased the frames and mounts, we didn't purchase the glass.  It was a deliberate decision to keep costs down at the time and facilitate storage at home until the frames were needed.    We don't have a Hobbycraft store close to us so .... here's the 'nearly finished' drawing but it won't be hung with the other pictures tonight.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


I photographed Reggie this morning in better light so this is pretty accurate re. colouring.   The portrait has been left in safe hands where it can be collected by Reggie's 'dad' on Monday - hope he likes it

En route to the stables to visit my horse this morning I stopped at a parade of shops to buy a couple of items at the little co-op store.  As I got out of my car I saw a horse cantering down the road towards me straight into oncoming traffic.

I managed to wave down the first car and forced all the traffic to stop and stood in front of the horse who slowed down and came towards me.  He was just a youngster - but around 16hh which is quite big and he was really sweated up and stressed.   Luckily he had a headcollar on and I was able to grab that and lead him off the road but he was so jumpy I struggled to hold onto him.

At that point it struck me that I didn't have a clue what to do.  I could barely hold onto him - I'd already yelled at a truck driver who was loading metal pallets very noisily onto his van which was spooking the horse more.  I shouted to a passer by to help me get my mobile phone from my handbag - thought I could call the girls at the nearby stable yard to drive down with a leadrope or something to give me more control... but the guy just shrugged and walked off.   All the passengers in the stopped cars just stared - nobody came to help.

Now I know that handling horses worries some people, but they could see I needed some help and not one person got out of their car - even to offer to phone the police!!   What a great society huh!

I was wearing sandals and worried about getting stamped on and I couldn't lead the horse to the nearby grassed area as there was a steep grassy bank to negotiate first and I had visions of being towed unceremoniously and being forced to let the horse escape.  Eventually, after what seemed like an hour (probably just 10 or 15 minutes) two burly men came on the scene - they'd seen the horse canter past their nearby 'smallholding' and followed him, armed with a long piece of rope.  I was so relieved.    All they did was tether the horse to a tree on the green to await rescue from his owners.   The horse was tied in view of their property so they promised to keep an eye on him and supply water if/when necessary.    I was shaking for ages afterwards - just thinking what might have happened if the horse had run straight into an oncoming bus or car - its a busy road.   Yuk!!

I think the horse had broken out of his field - he was a coloured horse (but quite fine) and probably what we Kentish folk call a 'pikey' pony - belonging to the traveller/gypsy type fraternity who graze their horses on common land in the County.

I'm aching tonight - had my arm/shoulder wrenched a bit - but what hurts most is the knowledge that not one passerby tried to help!!   Where are all the good samaritans when you need them?

Friday, 12 November 2010


Meet Reggie!   A rescue JRT puppy.

This must be one of the fastest pictures I've produced in recent years.  Normally I like to take more time and even work on more than one picture at a time so I don't get 'blinkered' or bored with what I'm doing.  Once finished I like to let the portrait sit for a few days before I call it finished - I don't have that luxury with this picture.  Recent computer hiccups have put me a little behind schedule butI thought I had until Monday to complete this ... Unfortunately,  there's been a change of plan and its required tomorrow - so I outlined Reggie late last night and completed him today.

Luckily this is a fairly small portrait - to fit a 16" x 12" frame and he is soooo cute - he almost drew himself!

I've had to use flash photography this evening so the picture isn't wonderful but I might be able to get a better photo early tomorrow.  I try to update my website gallery periodically so its important to get the best photos I can (my scanner only takes A4 and most of my commissions are larger than that)

I didn't dare stop to keep taking WIP pictures so here's the initial outlining stage

and here's the end result (possibly)  -  tonight's photo :

I know Reggie's owner wants me to do another portrait when Reggie is a bit more 'grown-up' but I'm very happy to have been asked to draw him at this stage in his life.  He was rescued after being rejected because he has a short lower jaw (I think its called an underbite) but it doesn't detract from his cute face or personality does it?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


I've had computer woes this week - my machine has crashed several times daily losing workfiles, and several emails have been bounced back to me for no apparent reason - the rejection notices were stored in a file I don't usually check so it took a while to learn I had a problem.  Frustrating to say the least!

One of the bounced emails was to a client for whom I'm drawing a family group in coloured pencil - it had progress pictures attached for her to review and because of the computer glitch we lost a few days - I'd expected it to be finished by the weekend.   Never mind, all is now well.  The portrait is approved but just needs final tidying up over the next day or so.

Whilst waiting to hear from her, I didn't want to start the next commission which will be in pastel, so I slotted in this coloured pencil portrait which will be 'an example piece' for next week's exhibition at the Horsebridge Gallery, Whitstable .

David thinks I have too many wildlife pictures to  display and need a coloured 'human' portrait to balance thing up so I decided on this 'celeb'.   It took a couple of afternoons and is drawn in coloured pencil on white Mellotex card which is not recommended for coloured pencil work - the card doesn't hold many layers of colour and is best used with graphite, but I like its smoothness and lack of 'tooth' and enjoy a challenge now and then!   It was drawn specifically to fit an existing mount and frame - the mount is a rich mottled gold and cream colour and the frame is sort of  matt brass colour which works beautifully together I think.  I'll do the final 'tweaks' tomorrow and then she will be framed, ready to go!

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Its been a very busy week and I've fallen behind with my blog but lots has been going on behind the scenes.   I've taken on the role of PR/Advertising Director for the UK Coloured Pencil Society and as a 'newby' have spent a lot of time reading through historical posts on the Executive's forum to get up to speed.     2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the UK Society and there is a fantastic event planned for next September to mark the event.  I'll reveal more later ... but all you coloured artists need to get to work on pictures to submit for next year's Exhibition/s  .... Preliminary Announcements will be made in major art journals/forums over the next few weeks

I still can't show any commission pictures on my blog.  Two are at the framers, I should finish the current 3 person portrait over the weekend and then will start on a cute puppy which is also a Christmas commission but I will be able to show on my blog as the recipient doesn't have access to a computer.

One of my pictures was accepted for the 'Simply the Best' Competition and will be exhibited at the Art Materials Live event at  the NEC Birmingham over the next few days but unfortunately I just haven't got the time to visit the show this year (which will save me lots of pennies)

We had lunch with a friend today and met her new baby ... this is Carly a very boisterous chocolate lab puppy.  She is very exuberant and difficult to photograph but she will be allowed outside from Monday so hopefully will run off some of her excess energy.   After trying unsuccessfully to calm her down I shut myself in the kitchen with her, applied my best Cesar Milan (dog whisperer) technique and she accepted my leadership immediately and posed nicely!   Good old Cesar!

Isn't she cute?

A much better behaved baby is our very own Grand-daughter Sophie Louise who we met 'in person' on Tuesday when she had reached the grand old age of 2 days!

I took loads of photos but because her Mum and Dad haven't seen them all yet will hold fire on posting the best ones ... but I just loved this because there is a 92 year age gap between Great Granny (Doris) and Sophie .. amazing!

and this is Sophie Louise in Granddad (David's) safe arms ... I think she's just worked out he'll be a 'soft touch' in the future ... just flash those eyes at him and she'll get her own way :o)

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Grand-daughter Sophie Louise finally arrived at 1.22am (2.22am if the clocks hadn't gone back) despite her Mum's intentions not to have a Halloween baby.   Guess Sophie is setting the scene and letting Caroline know who is really boss!!   Mum, dad and baby are all doing well at home and we'll visit in a day or so (just need to be clear of my cold symptoms first).

Now I know its Halloween ..... this post just appeared twice.  I've deleted one of them but apologies if it still shows as two for anybody that follows my blog

Friday, 29 October 2010


I've been feeling poorly for a few days - sore throat, aches & pains and streaming nose - so it came as a great relief to discover (from hubby) that I'm lucky just to have a girlie cold and not MAN FLU!  
Which means I'm still fit enough to get on with my commissions, do the washing, cleaning  and cook his meals of course.  

I've battled on regardless, albeit more slowly than usual and am about 1/3 way through another triple human portrait.   Its another one intended as a surprise Christmas gift so I won't post work in progress pictures here.

The portrait I had been working on was put to one side whilst my client decided what colour mount/matt he wanted.  I was mean and photographed the portrait with a variety of coloured mounts so he could see the way the colour altered the overall appearance.    Since the portrait is a gift for his wife, he couldn't ask her opinion and has had a worrying couple of days trying to choose (!!)  but he has now made an 'executive decision' and the picture will go to be framed next week.

As I have no current art to show - here are even more pictures of our 4 legged visitors.   In bad weather we started putting their food under a plastic storage basket (with the plastic cut away from both ends).  Once the family of hedgehogs increased it was clear that 3 hogs couldn't share the food so David bought a larger container and cut a door into it.  The hogs were very suspicious the first evening - they inspected it several times then scuttled off without venturing inside but now they like their bespoke 'feeding station' - and there's room for at least one more, should they decide to bring friends round

As you can see there's barely room for two.  The sandbag on top is to prevent the container blowing away.

and this is the new deluxe model .. it probably doesn't need to be weighed down.   I haven't photographed the hogs using the new feeding station as they were very unsure of it at first and I didn't want to upset them.  But there is now plenty of room to throw a hedgehog party !

OK - have a great weekend everybody and don't forget to change the clocks tomorrow evening/Sunday morning.  

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


You may recall the two double portraits I completed recently as a gift to the Bride/Groom-to-be on their wedding day.   They were married on the 8th October and 'Mum' sent me this photo of the happy couple and has allowed me to show it here.  Don't they look fabulous.

I will be doing portraits of other family members ... including the dog at some stage when the dust settles!

So ... wishing them both a long and happy life together