Friday, 30 July 2010


at the special request of Tommie, I carried on with his portrait and tidied it up a little - the light wasn't too good for photographing it unfortunately

Whilst the pastels were out, I decided to re-work/finish a small pastel I completed a couple of months ago for fun .... again it hasn't photographed particularly well tonight ... but I have a few small pics like this so think I may just take a selection of them, together with the big framed pictures for the SOFA assessment panel in August

I haven't properly sorted through all the photos I took at the dogshow last weekend but had to post this one.  This poodle was going to great lengths to get her Mum's attention.  She didn't like Mum looking at the dogs in the judging ring - and spent ages standing up like this demanding cuddles and blocking Mum's view (bless)

Sadly, one of my double human portraits has fallen through today.  I received the reference photo today and just knew I wouldn't be able to work from it.   I felt terrible explaining to my client that I would have to turn the work down but I just couldn't see enough detail.  The portrait was intended as a surprise present for a 50th birthday end August so hope she can think of an alternative gift in good time.

Anyway,  we're off tonight to join in the festivities at Tankerton slopes/on the beach.   There will be a big bonfire and party atmosphere.  Its within easy walking distance so no problems if we watch some of the fun from the terrace at the local hostelry :o)  This marks the official end of the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival although there will be more minor events going on throughout next week and then our local carnival/regatta starts .... no shortage of things going on here in the Summer months!


Thursday, 29 July 2010


We've had a busy day today, met a friend for lunch and then had to take some parcels/portraits to the Post Office.  We also had to buy a new 'watering wand' to fix to the hosepipe as the old one finally gave up on us.  It is more than 8 years old so I guess we shouldn't complain.   I don't mind watering the vegetables and greenhouse plants by watering can but its so much easier to water hanging baskets and plants at the back of the borders  with the hosepipe/wand.

Anyway, just about 30 minutes extra on Tom today so hardly worth posting, but I need to crack on with it and decide whether it stays or goes in the bin.    The light grey pastelmat I ordered on Monday has arrived so I can get back to the human portraits tomorrow.

29/07: ODDS N ENDS !!

I haven't posted much recently, but plenty has been happening behind the scenes.

I guess the best news is that Richard was transferred to the Homerton Neuro-rehab hospital on Monday - about 3 weeks ahead of schedule.   As usual, we were given very little notice and had to do some last minute rushing around/plan changing.  Richard has made steady progress in the last 14 weeks and has good movement in the right arm and leg which we feared might be paralysed.   We are confident that the Homerton team will be able to help Richard with his other problems to enable him to return to a lifestyle very close to the one he enjoyed pre-motorcycle accident!

Nana's portrait has been approved, I've made inroads on the next double human portrait on 'mid-grey' pastelmat paper but am still not 100% sure about the background colours .. so am awaiting a delivery of light grey and hope this really is 'light grey' and not 'mid grey' this time.

I have (confirmed) orders for  9 human portraits - most are group portraits - and enquiries for 4 more (2 x doubles) so as a little light relief I've been toying with a very 'quick and nasty' cat drawing in soft pastel on velour. The subject is Thomas O'Malley a very photogenic cat belonging to a fellow artist - Daisyree (Holland).  I just love Tom's mobile ears - they seem to point in different directions in every ref photo I've seen and he always has a brilliant 'quizzical' expression.   I really don't like using soft pastels/velour but thought this would be a quick way of completing a picture with background.   I intend to apply for Full membership of SOFA (society of feline artists) this year and need to submit several pictures to the jury (some of which I have here and framed) and also a selection of sketches and supporting material including full body pictures (not the head/shoulders portraits I usually do).   I have a few pics here that I will submit but not sure about this one.

This is just about 2 hours work -  I've worked very quickly with the intention of scrappingthe picture if I can't make it come good within a couple of days ... its very different to my usual style so I'm enjoying it whilst still not sure if it will be one for the album ... or one for the bin!  It makes a wonderful change from human portraits but does mean I have to clean the working area down before I switch back to coloured pencil drawings - pastel dust gets just everywhere !!

So, if you're looking in Daisyree, thanks for the wonderful ref photos which I'm basing this on - but with lots of background changes.  I usually like to complete one small area of a picture before moving on so this is totally new to me and I'm making lots up as I progress:

Whitstable is enjoying its annual 'Oyster Festival' just now - approx 2 weeks of celebrations and wonderful things going on all day, every day.   We did go out and about with the camera on Sunday, photographing events at a local dog show on Tankerton Slopes where we bumped into fellow local artist Vic
and then we walked along the beach path to Whitstable Harbour.  The path was lined with trade stands from companies producing food and drink from our own County of Kent - so lots of opportunities for sampling the produce.    The weather was beautiful and the beaches/harbour crowded.   I took hundreds of photos but hope to take a good look at them tomorrow and maybe post just a few to give an idea of what goes on in our part of the World.

Friday, 23 July 2010

23/07: SEGWAYS

David & I wanted to organise something slightly different to celebrate my friend's recent birthday and settled on a Segway tour around Leeds Castle in Kent yesterday.

The four of us had great fun - apparently there should have been another couple in our group but the lady took one look at the stationary machine and refused to even try it. Her partner had booked the tour without telling her and she just wasn't 'game'. All the more fun for us!!

We had a practice/training session and then the tour itself was about 40 minutes. We're now thinking about doing a longer Segway tour which will involve even more 'off-road' bumpy terrain and will involve travelling alongside an expanse of water - what an incentive not to fall off!

If anybody hasn't seen a Segway before - the best way I can describe one is to call it a motorised two wheeled scooter. It reaches speeds of 12.5mph (which seems pretty fast when you are on board) and is extremely manouverable and responsive to shifts in bodyweight.

'Look no hands' - getting a little over-confident during the training session!

Taking a breather after a bit of a 'burn up' along the tarmac path.  Leeds Castle is just visible through the trees on the skyline

The weather was very kind to us for the morning.   It was warm enough to enjoy lunch on the covered terrace at a little fish restaurant in a nearby village.   We then went back to Leeds Castle to walk around the grounds and aviary and to see the falconry display which they provided every afternoon.   Unfortunately, it started to rain quite heavily as the display was due to start so the performance was curtailed quite severely.  Managed to get a few photos but nothing spectacular!   We'll definitely go back to have 'another go' though.

Here are a couple of parrot-in-flight photos - the camera lens got rain splashed so didn't help matters

There are some beautiful birds in the Castle Aviary and lots of exotic birds in the grounds (including an albino peacock)  These African cranes were very protective of their 'little one'.  Isn't it amazing that the little brown fluffy thing will grow up to be an exotic African Crane - quite the 'ugly duckling' story

Saturday, 17 July 2010


No artwork posts from me yet .. I'm awaiting feedback re. Nana's portrait and have started on a 'double human' portrait which I won't be able to show for a while.

But today we visited my (retired)  horse and both the Mums.  On our journey home we detoured to buy some Kentish cherries.  It has been a good year for cherries and David loves them .... this must be his fourth punnet in as many days I think!!   A local lady had set up a covered stall in a field adjacent to the orchards and sold nothing but local cherries ... accompanied by her gorgeous 7 month old puppy ( a really cute Jack Russell cross) ... I took a few pictures of him to add to my 'to do' list :o)

Whilst driving through the village we followed directions to the local church which was hosting an 'art show' so stopped off to have a look.   There was a good selection on display from artists of all levels and several pictures bore the desired 'red dots' denoting sales!

Tomorrow the village is hosting its annual 'scarecrow trail' and we saw several scarecrows on display.  We've had extremely windy weather for the past few days in Kent so I think many scarecrows will have been kept safely indoors and won't make their appearance till tomorrow to avoid damage.   I didn't have my 'proper' camera with me but we always keep a little one in the car - it takes reasonable pictures but the setting screen is hard to read so its usually 'point and hope for the best' .... good luck to all contestants tomorrow .. hope you find all the scarecrows, work out all the clues and have a brilliant day!

Here's a few of the scarecrows we met today:

These next ones were all in the church itself - the local vicar obviously has a great sense of humour and its wonderful that he allowed these 'characters' to be displayed in the pews/pulpit etc ..... all for the benefit of the village of course and what a great idea!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


For this portrait I'm working from one main reference from a favourite snapshot which has been 'blown up' and is not quite as clear as the others I was sent in support.  Nana's hair style and colour look slightly different in the references but I've now been told that her hair colour should be brown/grey rather than blonde as it appears in some of the ref pictures and the style (especially the kiss curl) amended slightly.   So here's the updated picture incorporating the revisions which I've just emailed to my client.

I shall be hospital visiting again tomorrow so probably won't do any more work on this portrait until Thursday.

Its very gloomy here today and the photographs kept coming out too blue/grey - although the pastelmat is 'light grey' the grey does have a slight 'fawn/pink' tinge to it in reality.  I adjusted the tones slightly then hubby said the picture appeared too bright on his screen (though it looked fine on mine) so this is a compromise.


Monday, 12 July 2010


We got home from our mini break in the early hours of Thursday but spent the next 3 days visiting Richard in Hospital and catching up with the Mums etc.  We took advantage of yesterday's beautiful weather and walked along the beach to Whitstable where we spent a leisurely couple of hours and David got to sample a couple of the beers on offer from the Whitstable Brewery who have a clubhouse on the beach and a 'garden' overlooking the sea.   Perfick!!

Anyway, back to work with a vengeance now ...  I have several portraits lined up and most of them are two legged subjects at the moment!  This is the portrait I'm currently working on.  You may remember I recently showed Work in Progress pictures of a beautiful golden retriever called Bouncer.   This portrait has been commissioned by the same client and I'm using Van Gogh lightfast coloured pencils on Clairefontaine Pastelmat (light grey)

I've stopped here to check a few things with my client.   The hair colour differs slightly in the various reference photos so at this stage I need a bit of guidance on that before continuing onto the black outfit - don't want to risk smudging the black pencil with my drawing (right) hand.

I took a couple of work in progress photos along the way  but in artificial light so the colours are slightly wrong.    This was stage I after approx 3 hours work - simply outlining 'Nana' and  building up skin and hair tone colours

and after another couple of hours the skintones are a little more refined and the colours stronger (though my camera seems to have picked up on the redtones too much here !

Whilst waiting for feedback I'll probably outline the next portrait which is a double 'person' portrait - again it will be coloured pencil on Pastelmat and I'll probably use light grey again as it is a very pleasing off white shade which makes the selection of mount/frame easier I think.