Sunday, 30 September 2012

30/09: ALL THAT JAZZ ...

Another update on the pastel portrait of Jazz, the beautiful chestnut mare.  I have laid a double mount over the portrait to show how Jazz fills the space.

I've emailed this update to my client and am waiting to hear whether she is happy with the coat colour etc at this stage.   I may be required to put in a simple background and, if so, details such as whiskers, flyaway bits of mane/forelock etc can't be added till the very end as they will need to overlap the background colours.

The double mount is Ivory with plum coloured inner (sorry but photo is a bit dark) 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


My time at the 'drawing board' is a little disjointed as the drive to London to visit Mum-in-Law in hospital  takes several hours each time.  At 94 years old her broken hip and shoulder will be fairly slow to mend so she can't leave hospital till she's semi-mobile and can walk with a frame.   Happy days ... but she's improving slowly which is good news.   I've allowed plenty of time in the commission schedule to allow for these visits.

Unfortunately I've picked up some kind of throat infection which isn't actually a cold but stops me from sleeping as I have an irritating tickle/cough.   I tried sleeping upright on the sofa on Monday night to avoid keeping David awake, but that wasn't very successful so I've been very tired (and grumpy I'm told) from the resultant tiredness  LOL

Jazz (the mare) has a rich chestnut colouring so I'm using a range of pastels - 11 different colours so far in this 'base coat' - but can't tell you which colours.  For some reason Conte, Caran D'ache and Carbathello pastel pencils just have code numbers, not colour descriptions. 

Again the photos look a bit dark but its so gloomy here in Kent today.   

I'll be emailing this update to my client so have lightened the colour slightly in PaintNet so the background colour is more true although the chestnut now looks a tad subdued.    The colour will be more critical once I have completed the 'base' and need to sort out the finer detail - hopefully the weather will have improved by then and I can photograph in good natural light and will be guided by Jazz's owner as to whether I've made the coat dark/bright enough.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


On Friday I started work on the commissioned portrait of a beautiful chestnut mare.  I'm working in pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat paper (light grey) - size A3

I will be emailing progress pics to her owner Monday or Tuesday, once I've got a reasonable colour base down so she can decide whether she wants the background left plain or whether I need to put in a very simple tree/skyline background.

For the first time in ages I decided to 'grid' the reference picture to help me with placement of markings in the portrait.  I haven't used a grid for ages but as I'm a little under the weather just now (just a cold, not Man Flu) I felt I probably needed the security of the grid to ensure accuracy  :-)

close up

A little more progress with base colour - photos are coming up very dark, the pastelmat is very light grey in reality

Today David and I should have been manning the Air Ambulance stand at a horseshow in Kent, but given the weather forecast for high winds and torrential rain all day we decided to withdraw.   I doubt we'd have had many visitors and the (rather flimsy) marquees wouldn't have provided much protection from the elements.    So I had some unexpected spare time to work on the portrait this afternoon

But .... I had to have the daylight lamps working (in September)!!!???  and really struggled to get motivated.  So this is where I got to this afternoon.  The colour is showing much too red but no point in spending time adjusting the photos till I'm ready to send WIP pics to the client:

Friday, 21 September 2012


If you're old enough to remember the 80s TV show 'Through the Keyhole' with Lloyd Grossman and Sir David Frost you'll be familiar with the catchphrase as they invited you to guess which celebrity owned the home they were showing a video tour of.

So .... 'who'd live in a house like this'?

When walking out of Corralejo towards the famous sand dunes, we pass a group of very pretty privately owned villas all tastefully painted with nice, but normal, gardens.

Exept for this one .....   barely a square foot of unadorned wall, roof or garden space.   Not to my taste but very spectacular and a great photo opportunity .... bet it pees the neighbours off though :-)

No comments ... I think the pictures speak for themselves LOL

and just a few yards further down the road is a single Villa which appears to be called Siboney but there is some confusion about the address/villa number.     

Have to assume the Cartero (postman) has worked it out

I have a couple of new works in the pipeline and will be posting some WIP next week.   First off will probably be a beautiful chestnut mare from N. Ireland and then a couple of Jack Russell Terriers.    All will be portrayed in pastel.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I'm not sure about the identities of all these birds - so many are very similar and after spending far too long on Google trying to work out the species I'm boggle eyed!    So if I've got these wrong, I'm very happy to be corrected

Once the tide goes out and uncovers all the rockpools there are rich pickings

Starting off on safe ground as I've previously been told that these are Whimbrels  by Mike Woodcock, a wildlife artist not a million miles away from me in Kent  Mike's blog

Handsome birds with a taste for small crabs obviously:

There are two in this picture (one on extreme right and one on the left halfway down) - very well disguised against the volcanic rocks - till they move of course

yum yum

Imagine if you were a little crab and this loomed above you .... nightmarish or what??

and there's no escaping that probing beak

I believe this is a Godwit but not sure what type ..... Bartailed perhaps?


Now these little chaps are just everywhere along the coastline ... but probably the best camouflaged of the lot - luckily they are noisy so give their positions away :-)    I think they are Ruddy Turnstones

In this photo they can be seen quite clearly against the sand

but once amongst the rocks they are very hard to spot ...  there are 3 Ruddy Turnstones in this photo with the gull

and  these are all Plovers,  there are Kentish Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Little Ringed Plovers and Grey Plovers on the island and the images I've seen on the internet seem confused/confusing ... but Mike Woodcock (wildlife artist) has kindly identified these for me

Ringed Plover (juvenile)

 the one at the back with a longer beak than the others is a Dunlin

and another juvenile Ringed Plover

Don't want to bore you with too many, but I had great fun watching these and will spend more time learning about them and hopefully getting better shots next visit when I'll have a new camera to play with :-)

I think we've decided that the 'bridge' camera we'll be buying next  is the new Panasonic FZ150.  It ticks all the boxes in that it can be used by a non-techie like me, but has lots of manual controls should I/we decide to improve our skills.  Its compact enough to travel in handluggage and not horribly expensive although we've decided to purchase from tried and trusted Jessops in the UK which will be more expensive than buying online from a Chinese supplier but we'll have peace of mind should we have any problems with the camera.    All the reviews I've read have been very good so just a case of waiting till our local store gets one in stock - we can order online (to save money) for local collection instore.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


We had to cut short our holiday as Mum-in-Law (aged 94) fell and broke her shoulder and her hip - both have been operated on and she's doing very well but will be immobile for weeks/months so we'll be hammering up and down the motorway to London several times per week.

Blogposts will be a bit sporadic but I should have some new art to show soon ... in the meantime I still have masses of photos from Fuerteventura to sort out so I make no apologies for posting a selection when time permits.

Fuerteventura gulls are so much better behaved than the 'thugs' we have in England .... I wonder if its because the fish are so plentiful that the gulls don't need to steal from humans - they are content to bob around in the water in large groups or when the weather is windy, just play in the air.    They get fed periodically by local fish restaurants who throw 'bits' into the water for them - even then, they don't fight or cause a nuisance.

Anyway, I think these are yellow legged gulls - adult and juvenile

The 'poorer' ones have to rest on the water - just bobbing around having a chat and occasionally diving for fish

whereas the richer ones have boats LOL

Waiter service has arrived:

and some expect silver service .... at various points around the town beaches there are wooden tables by the sea where fisherman clean their catches and the gulls wait patiently to be served

Here's the 'waiter' descaling the fish ... no gull customers yet as he hasn't got to the best bits

here they come ... but in a very orderly fashion and no fighting at all:

I think the next post may be about more sea/shore birds as I spent a lot of time watching them - I hadn't appreciated in earlier visits just how many varieties there are and most are so well camouflaged they are difficult to photograph.   

Much as I love my camera, an old Panasonic DMC FZ20, we've decided its time to buy one with a more powerful lens.  I can't be doing with all the chopping and changing of lenses and it will have to be fairly idiot-proof as I'm very much a point and shoot photographer.  It also has to be small/light enough to fit into Ryanair's size handluggage as we rarely travel with suitcases.  David is researching cameras at the moment but if anybody has any suggestions I'd be grateful for your input.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Have you come across that old proverb that says if you save a life you are responsible for the person ever after?

Well I saved this bug's life when it got trapped in our house .... it wasn't too impressed at the time as I had to trap it with a fly swat and a glass, but now visits me every day and even landed on my book when I was reading by the pool one afternoon.    It has seen off a rival that tried to land in the garden so is obviously quite territorial.

Actually I have no way of knowing if its the same bug each time ... but like to think so.    Thanks to Chrissy who told me once before that this is a Scarlet Darter:

Here it is posing on the hosepipe we use to top the water up in the pool:

Who needs man-made scarecrows when Mother Nature does the same job so brilliantly:

David's cousin had a week on Fuerteventura staying at a lovely hotel right on the sand dunes.  We spent the afternoon with them on Saturday, basically just sitting in the garden overlooking the beach and chatting.   I thought it was really funny to see a flock of Spanish sparrows taking a bath in the hotel swimming pool - sparrows are the same the world over obviously ... cheeky little chaps!

Tuesday's walk along the beach path was quite productive ... I took about 30 photos of this Whimbrel at the water's edge

It was too hot to sit in our garden today so I wandered down to the beach - away from the main Town Beaches which attract families/tourists - towards the less popular areas.  Just about 10 mins walk away we have stretches of beach that are part sandy and part volcanic rock with odd scrubby areas of vegetation.     I saw the section I wanted to park myself on - great views across the bay and then saw somebody had been there before me and been very busy gathering white shells and small black rocks .......

Wonder what the outcome was??

During recent walks I've been fascinated  by the local seagulls ...  but that will have to be another post ...