Friday, 31 August 2012


I showed some early WIP photos of this portrait earlier this year (in fact whilst we were here on Fuerteventura in May/June).

I finished it when we got back to the UK and submitted it to the UKCPS Exhibition jury.   It was accepted so will be on display at Nuneaton later this year along with Reflectivity (shown in earlier blog post).

Dave (the subject) is drummer with a folk group we stumbled across in nearby Faversham a few months ago.   They were taking a break from performing in the street and as I had my camera with me I took a few photos.    When I got home and looked at the photos I really liked the combination of him staring into space with that amazing hair and beard, and the T Shirt depicting Shakespeare (the Bard).

A couple of friends expressed concern that Shakespeare might detract from the man's portrait but I'd already decided on the title 'Beard & Bard' and as someone who really struggles to think of titles usually I stubbornly stuck to my guns ... but I have subdued the image slightly.

Drawn on black sanded paper I did struggle to get the skintones but it was great fun to draw

The Group is called Labyrinth and I've since read that their street performance was to raise funds for a charity which helps Older people with learning difficulties (Patron Hugh Grant).    They will be playing at the Faversham Hop Festival which takes place this weekend.    A great fun event and its main sponsor is the local Brewery Shepherd Neame (loved by all real ale drinkers)

Dave (model) doesn't know about the portrait.   After the exhibition I'm hoping to catch up with the group at one of its 'gigs' and give the portrait to him to do with it as he wants ....

Thursday, 30 August 2012


Here is one of the coloured pencil pictures accepted into the UKCPS Annual International Exhibition at Nuneaton later this year .... its drawn on Clairefontaine pastelmat (Sienna I believe) and is quite different to my normal subject matter - I just fancied a change

Computer/internet is really slow here this morning so will have to add rest of pictures later (tomorrow) ...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


We try not to have too many pictures and ornaments in our holiday home for ease of cleaning etc but over the 8 years we've had this place I seem to have built up a theme of geckos ...  I have several 'climbing' around the garden walls

magnetic metal ones on the hot water boiler ....

and lots more scattered around -including this one on the tea light holder (this wasn't a local gecko objet d'art - this was a present from my friend Jenni and comes all the way from Costa Rica but fits in well with all the others:

and here's the imposter ..... spotted on the garden wall last night he was obviously pretending to be a garden ornament but waiting for bugs to be attracted to the wall light for his supper.    Cute isn't he/she???

He'd had enough of me and the flash at this stage and took off at a great rate of knots.

Monday, 27 August 2012


We got here safely and on time yesterday but after our 2am start were a little subdued last night (and still this morning if the truth be known).

The weather is glorious but a little hotter than we expected so we're taking things slowly till we acclimatise.  We drove through miserable cold, rainy weather to get to the airport .... always nice to fly off when the weather is rubbish back home (sorry) LOL

We have 'variable' internet access here via our Dongle and uploading pictures etc is painfully slow so I plan to write Blog posts just 2 or 3 times a week and spread out the pictures as and when computer/internet is being co-operative.

OK ... I was so well organised this year I submitted 5 pictures to the UKCPS jury for the Annual International Exhibition which will be staged at Nuneaton later this year.    Some of them you'll have seen before as they were 'practice' pieces throughout the year.  The judging is always done by 3 independent people to ensure fairness - if judged by just one person the possibility is that bias would be towards that judge's own tastes - ie contemporary art, or landscapes ...

I'm thrilled that 2 pieces got juried in - this now means I'll have earned Silver Signature Status having had work accepted into the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society's  Annual International Exhibitions 5 years out of 6 .... 

Today I'll show the 3 that didn't make it - all animals incidentally

Grace is a beautiful Silver Standard Poodle I photographed at a local dog show.   Such a lovely happy smile.    Completed in coloured pencil on black sanded paper

I haven't got a decent pictures of the the Whippets unfortunately, as I trimmed it to fit the unusual mount and frame - again these are dogs I photographed at a local Dogs Trust fun day.  They are all members of the same family.

and my tiger didn't make it.   In the last few exhibitions I have done well with 'big cats' either gaining awards or making sales but this is obviously not 'the year of the cat' - for me at least LOL

This very superior tiger was one I photographed earlier in the year at Antwerp Zoo.  He's drawn on drafting film with a plain black backing paper.

I called the piece 'Look into my Eyes' which isn't very unique and recently Jennifer Rose Blogged about her Tigers Eye drawing with the same title LOL Jennifer!!   but there is a limit to how many titles I can think of these days - a Google Search doesn't throw out many better suggestions!

and this is how he looks framed - having tried various types of frames I thought this looked best, if a trifle bright.  Maybe another title based on the 'golden' theme might spring to mind.   I'll probably exhibit this picture later in the year at my local Gallery to see if it will sell there.

So, I'm a happy bunny that 2 pictures got through.   Congratulations to all the other artists whose names have now been published on the UKCPS website ... I think many of the artists are either new to the Society or are non-members as I don't recognise the names - but that's the beauty of an Open Int'l Exhibition ... 

Next Post I'll show the 2 that got through ... 

Off for a curry now.     We have a wonderful Indian Restaurant just 10 minutes walk from our house (Jaipur Restaurant, Corralejo) and the food is so good that we now don't eat Indian in the UK as we just haven't found anything to compare ..... I look forward to this first curry of our holidays for weeks .....  the anticipation and build up is tremendous ... and it never disappoints!!!!

Friday, 24 August 2012


The double cat portrait has been approved so have just given it a light spray of fixative and it will be on its way to 'mum and dad' tomorrow.    I portrayed the client's chocolate labrador  as a wedding present and this cat portrait was commissioned as a first anniversary gift ... so they have the 'full set' now.

The internet is invaluable for providing 'work in progress' pictures to clients for critique/approval, but with the vagaries of monitor colours, photography -v- scanning it can be difficult at times.     I scanned and photographed the portrait and got very different results.  The photograph (in the mount/mat) is probably most accurate as the scan has come out very 'bright'.

The photograph

The scan

Anyway,   I'm pleased that the client is happy.  I've now packed away my pastels for a while and cleaned up my studio (black pastel dust everywhere it seemed)!!    Although I close the door to my studio when the house-sitters are here, I like to leave it as clean as possible - just in case they take a peek!   So, off to the sunshine on Sunday - can't wait!

Thursday, 23 August 2012


No arty postings today .... I was advised by email earlier this week that 2 of my coloured pencil drawings have been juried into the UKCPS International Exhibition in Nuneaton later this year but nothing has appeared on the Society's website yet ... I think they need to notify some members in writing so probably the website will be updated next week when letters will have had time to arrive .... so I'll post about this next week (from sunny Fuerteventura)!!

In the meantime, slightly tongue in cheek ......

Royal Mail in its wisdom decided a couple of years ago that to save money some of its provincial sorting offices would be closed down over a period of a couple of years so anybody who isn't at home to take delivery of parcels/letters which are too big to go through the letterbox, or require a signature on receipt, must now travel much further afield to collect the parcel.   

In our case, when the local sorting office is closed (scheduled for Jan 2013 I believe) we will have to travel into busy Canterbury City - 30 minutes away if you are a car driver  -  far longer if you need to use public transport

Must admit I hadn't really focussed too much on the protests but as the closure date gets closer I've been noticing more and more leaflets/notices around town:

Well I thought long and hard about how I/we could help the cause.   Our house sits at the end of a long gravel private drive and whenever I/we walk into town I can't help but notice and pick up masses of rubber bands that are dropped by the postmen/women when they deliver letters.       Here's a photo of the latest collection picked up from our drive/the local footpath:

The bands are dangerous to wildlife and I figure they probably cost Royal Mail quite a lot of money to replace ... so I've now started picking up all the bands I find and very helpfully posting them in the local mailbox so they can be re-used by our posties .... ingenious don't you think!! 

Local Mailbox

Win Win situation all round       -     and if everyone did this perhaps it would save Royal Mail so much money they could afford to maintain our much needed local centres .... 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


I know I've shown photos before of the Breitling Wingwalkers when they performed at the local Regatta, but I'm just so impressed with their skill and the whole spectacle that I make no apology for showing a few of the photos I took on Saturday at nearby Herne Bay Festival.

The weather was hot and sunny with clear blue skies and the beaches and town centre shops were packed with tourists - obviously its school holidays here still so lots of families taking advantage of the sunshine 

The wingwalkers performed their magic for around 25 minutes until we were barely able to see the planes because of the smoke/vapour? trails they left which caused a fog-like atmosphere where we could scarcely see a few feet in front of us :-)

The 'wing walkers' seem to be enjoying themselves immensely - and they are all very glamourous ladies as you'll see from their website WINGWALKERS
So for a mere £399 anybody can 'have a go' it seems .... probably not for the faint-hearted or the over 55s methinks!

No particular order - just a few of the many photos I took - just look at that clear bright blue sky (not something we've seen much of this Summer)!!

As well as the Breitling Wingwalkers, we were treated to a display of spectacular flying by the RedBull Matadors - "2 pilots flying Sukhoi 26 unlimited aerobatic aeroplanes in close formation as well as some wacky synchronised and not so synchronised manoeuvres" is the way their performance is described on their website

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

21/08: MORE CATS

So much going on at the moment .... I'm struggling to find time to update the Blog but here are some WIP (work in progress) photos of the current double cat commission.

Loki (short coated) and Delilah (long coated) are brother and sister.   I'm working from a selection of photos to try to see as much detail as possible - black cats have so many colours in their fur when you really look closely - I've been using lots of blues, mauves, browns and reds to get as much depth as possible and help define the highlights.

This is where I stopped work today, now its on the screen I can see a couple of areas that need tweaking then I'll be able to add the final touches - amazing how different cats look with whiskers and eyebrows!! and a suggestion of floor to 'ground' them.  

I'm using pastel pencils, mainly Conte, Derwent and (my favourite for bright highlights) Stabilo Carbothellos on Fisher 400 sanded paper:

This image (with mount laid on top) was sent to Loki and Deli's 'dad' on Friday to ensure he is happy with progress so far - and he is ...

We've just experienced the hottest weekend of the year and it coincided with the Whitstable Regatta weekend and Herne Bay week-long Festival.  My Mum has visited for a few days so we've been out and about at local 'tourist' attractions/events' and, as usual, I had my camera with me all the time so have a plentiful supply of 'odds and sods' photos to share  -   watch this space :-)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

16/08: CATS!

My mum is visiting for a few days from tomorrow so I made a huge effort to get the current double cat commission finished today .... but it wasn't to be.    The cats are mostly black and I find black or white animals usually take so much longer than 'brown' for some reason.   Anyway, I've emailed the client with a progress report and will await feedback before finishing the portrait next Tuesday/Wednesday.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures I took at the Cat Sanctuary yesterday.   I have been there before but specifically for a halfday pastel workshop with Vic Bearcroft followed by a half day photo opportunity.  We were able to get right up to the perimeter fencing on that occasion and position the camera lenses between the wires to get the best possible pics.   Yesterday the centre was open to the General Public for a fund raising event and so we were all held further back from the enclosures and had to take our chances trying to focus the cameras to avoid the wires.  My camera (photography skills) aren't quite up to that challenge but I did get some pictures that will be good enough to work from.

A couple of the 'two legged' species

and back

the sanctuary is close to a small airport at Headcorn which offers adventure days .. parachuting, sky diving etc.   There was lots going on yesterday ...

but would these 'thrill seekers' be so keen if they realised what was next door to the airport???   Many of the big cat enclosures have high wire fences which slope inwards at the top to prevent the cats climbing out ... but they don't have roof wiring so they are open topped.       If they were unlucky enough to be blown off course the parachutists could be in for a nasty shock when they see what's waiting below :-)

This didn't work out very well as I was filming into the light but you can just make out a parachutist above the tree behind the tiger here:

Waiting for Supper??

Despite the problem with the wire fencing spoiling the photos a bit, I was able to get more than enough usable ones - here's one of the white lionesses who arrived at the Centre in May to hopefully breed with the resident white male lion in due course.    She and her sister were very laid back about all the attention they were getting.

I also got lots of photos of the two Serval Cat kittens who were impossibly cute and playful.  But I think my favourite photo of the day is this one of the two brothers - I photographed them many times during my previous visit to the Centre but they were very scruffy then - going through a moult or something.   They looked much more handsome this visit. 

This is definitely on my 'to do' list ...

Right ... enough for tonight!   

I'll post a few WIP pictures of the two (domestic) cats during the weekend if/when I get feedback from my client and know if changes need to be made before I get to the final stages of adding whiskers etc.