Friday, 30 August 2013


Well, after the miserable weather we had during the first half of 2013 when the 'experts' predicted that Summer wouldn't happen this year, and maybe not for several more years, we had an extended period of hot, dry weather that proved them totally wrong.

But now we're seeing the signs that Summer is on its way out and Autumn is upon us

More spiders ... this one has set up home outside my 'studio' window 

Swallows gathering in readiness for flying off to warmer climes for the Winter (not a bad idea, we're doing the same thing next week) LOL

We saw these when in Derbyshire earlier in the week 

a bit blurry, but they were high up and I was photographing them against a bright sky

and, as you'll see from this information board, the Fallow Deers antlers are at the 'August/September' stage - not pretty, looks like this one has got dreadlocks

I think the ladies/fawns are much cuter

These were all photographed at the Chestnut Centre Conservation & Wildlife Park which is about 10 minutes drive from the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.   We had a wonderful visit with Jo and Roy and all their four legged family (Collie, Maine Coon cats, Love Birds and Budgies)!!

The Chestnut centre features otters and owls.  The otters were hiding away and apparently are more active shortly after their feedtime but we couldn't spend too much time waiting around.  I have a few photos of owls and one otter which I'll post next time.   For now, need to relax as its been a hectic few days and we're both pretty tired.

Hope your weekend is good so far

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Off to Nottingham now ... I've never been to Patchings Art Centre before but its a very popular venue for art exhibitions and shows so it will be interesting to have a wander round today.   I believe the current exhibitions are montage/collage/mixed media and also a display of work by artists who write 'how to draw' type books.    

The UK Coloured Pencil Society Annual Int'l Exhibition opens on Saturday for the Private View and judging of exhibits, then to the public from 1 September to 6 October.

Sadly I can't stay in the Midlands till Saturday.  I would like to have attended the Private View but have too much to do at home so can't justify the extra few days away and its too far to make the journey twice (to say nothing of the cost of petrol/accommodation).   Will have to rely on photos taken by other attendees.

I just came across this drawing I did a few years ago ... based on Pip, the Collie belonging to Jo and Roy.   We went for a long walk with them during our last visit and Pip had a great time in the water and loved carrying 'his' stick.

Coloured pencil on drafting film

One more coffee 'for the road' and we're off.      I've filled the hedgehog food bowl with dried biscuits so they won't starve tonight ... although I think we over-indulge our little prickly friends as they aren't doing a very good job of keeping the snails/slugs at bay  LOL

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Yet again we're up against the clock ....

we spent the day at Pilgrims Hospice eBay office today as we can't be there tomorrow.    Got home this evening and I decided to spend some time in the garden tackling weeds and clearing up generally.  We have a new garden refuse wheelie bin and I've now filled it completely.     Up till now, David refused to buy one from the council as they cost over £40 each  (such a cheapskate at times) ... most garden refuse goes on our compost mountain at the back of the garden, but the woody/twiggy/brambly bits need to go to the waste depot and despite our best intentions, we don't make those trips often enough so we do put off pruning and trimming longer than we should.   I just persuaded David that the expensive council bin will pay for itself in the end as the council will empty it for us each fortnight, saving a trip in the car to the council depot!

So I'm now covered in scratches and cuts after battling the brambles, but even an hour's work has made a visible difference.

We're off tomorrow to Nottingham (Patchings Art Gallery) to deliver the 3 pictures I've had juried into the UKCPS Annual Int'l Exhibition which opens at the weekend.   We're driving on to Derbyshire to meet friends we haven't seen for 4 years.  In fact 4 years ago was the first time I met Joanne (Simpson-Connor) and Roy 'in the flesh'.  We'd been e-friends for years after meeting on a Pet Portrait Artists forum and just hit it off.   When Jo finally made an honest man of long-term partner, Roy, we were invited to the wedding and they (and their friends) made us feel so welcome.

Looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow and catching up on all the news.

But ... my pictures still aren't packed up.   Although we're delivering them to the gallery ourselves, they have to have appropriate packaging so they can be returned to me at the end of the exhibition if they don't sell.  Blame the Packing Department (David) ... I've been nagging him for weeks and he's beginning to panic now LOL.    We have carboard and bubble wrap everywhere in the lounge it seems ...  I'm just chilling out with a large glass of red wine letting hubby get on with it (so cruel)

I've been asking David to sort out the packaging for at least 2 weeks .... and now adrenaline (and panic) is starting to kick in ... so he's just emailed me the following article in an attempt to justify being late for everything ...

poor excuse for being late .... Daily Mail

afraid I'm not sympathetic ... I think its just poor planning and procrastination!!!

Saturday, 24 August 2013


Do you know the Marmite slogan .... Love it or Hate it??     Well I'm having a Marmite experience with the Gorilla drawing.   As it begins to take on a life of its own now I have to keep at it to see how it will evolve, I'm the artist and I haven't got a clue!

This morning I was going to bin it, this afternoon I swear it winked at me, and it has a stay of execution.   I going to take a break from it and see how I feel after another day or so .... also, this time I photographed it from a distance, which is of course how we normally view art.   Working so close to it and seeing it 'warts n all' isn't good

This morning's photo - there are so many colours in this, but they will tone down as the top layer of fine hairs is added

and this afternoon, with a little more distance.

I've made a start on a much smaller coloured pencil work - just an experiment really to see how I cope with drawing the sea/waves ... I need to get out of my comfort zone and try different things. 

OK ... we're off to a family birthday barbecue tomorrow so fingers crossed the rain will disappear (as promised) and we get a nice sunny day.

ps:   I LOVE Marmite - do you?

Friday, 23 August 2013


Some photos taken at the Venetian Fete 'Floating Tableaux' as its described in the official guidebook.   I took a lot of these photos whilst the boats (or floats I guess they could more aptly be called) were being prepared and before the crowds really started to gather.    The Fete takes place once every two years on the Royal Military Canal in Hythe, Kent.

I think they must have looked far more spectacular when it got dark and  the floats were illuminated but we really didn't want to wait around for nightfall.    Hopefully you get a sense of the wonderful fun atmosphere from this random selection

The Samba Pelo Mar drum group - Whitstable's community Samba Band.   The lady in the middle dressed in blue (Margaret) is a fellow member of our Bowls Club

This band is from Belgium - very good they were too

The Mary Poppins 'crew' on dry land

and on the Water

It was nice that some of the 'rowers' got in on the act as well, these were towing the Dr Who float which was one of the 'best decorated' in my opinion.   They were raising funds for the Alison Wiltshire Trust.  Alison Wiltshire was a local GP in Hythe who died from cancer early this year and her family have set up a Trust to raise funds for local enterprises.

Getting into the spirit of things - looks like mademoiselle is ¾ of the way through that bottle of Spitfire (a potent beer from local Shepherd Neame brewery)!

and the much loved characters from the comedy programme 'Allo Allo'

RNLI - our brave lifeboat men

You can see how busy it became which is partly why we decided to 'escape' the Town early even though we missed the fireworks and illuminations

Best seats in the house went to the local dignitaries, including the Mayors of the Cinque Ports (those in red robes and ceremonial chains).   The Cinque Ports are historic coastal towns which were granted Royal status in the 13th Century for defending the English coastline.  (Ironic that they used 'cinque' for 'five' as we were probably defending the coast from the French more than anyone else) LOL  

There are other towns included in the confederation but the main towns/ports are Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich

Being fed and watered :-)

Bu**er ..... they put the goodies behind metal fencing to keep us commoners out !!

Time for an hour of work on the gorilla and then I'm bowling this afternoon and tonight ....

Thursday, 22 August 2013


A few photos of the Newfoundland Dog Search & Rescue demonstration I watched recently on Margate beach

Big beasties aren't they ... and there were about 20 of them all straining at the leash to get into the water and do what they love best

Bet Mum & Dad's car is a mess after the journey home :-)

and some updates on the Gorilla drawing.    Had a disaster when a bit of the black 'grit' escaped from the sanded paper -  in the Gorilla's right eye (left as we look at it).   I had to spray the paper liberally with Fixative and think I've just about disguised the white patch, but the Fixative dulled all the white coloured pencil so I had to do a lot of extra work to get back to my starting point today ..... bless!

Its all a bit dark yet - I will be adding lots of fine white/grey hairs which will lighten the Gorilla a bit and also soften everything - the lines/wrinkles are very exaggerated at the moment as I'm concentrating on getting lots of colours into the underpainting.    I'm hoping the white Derwent pencils will allow me to work on top of the darker colours.  

Its quite large for a coloured pencil drawing at A3 so progress is slow (well, actually it has only been a couple of days but I've got used to working in pastel which is a 'faster' medium for me)

Not the best of photos as its been raining here all day and very gloomy (but the garden needed it).   I find it difficult to photograph work on black paper even in good light

 As I'm not taking on commissions for a while I'm trying to work outside of my comfort zone.  I don't really like monkeys/apes ... but found the gorillas fascinating at Howletts Zoo when we took Grand-daughter Sophie-Louise to see them in June.

I'm going to try my hand at portraying water (waves/sea) as part of the next experiment ... also in coloured pencils but on white paper this time.

Got a busy couple of days coming up so may not have time to post before Sunday.    Have a great weekend

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


After our usual Wednesday stint working as volunteers at the Pilgrims Hospice eBay office, we decided to take a look at the Venetian Fete which was being staged at Hythe in Kent (about 20 miles from where we live).  

The Venetian Fete is staged every two years and basically it is a Carnival on water, with the floats being built onto pontoons which are towed by small rowing boats along the Royal Military Canal.   The first parade takes part in the early evening around 6pm and floats are judged for originality etc.   Then there is an interval and firework display, followed by a second procession when it gets dark and the boats/floats are illuminated.

We'd never heard of this event before so wanted to take a look.   There was a fantastic atmosphere there with lots of food stalls and fairground games and rides.  Friends/families settled on the banks of the canal early to enjoy picnics etc before the fun started.   Hundreds of people were enjoying the beautiful sunshine.   I'll probably post a few of the pics tomorrow.

The Canal is about 28 miles long and was built in the early 1800s as a defence against invading Frenchmen after the Napoleonic war.   This Fete took part on a small stretch of canal between two bridges and was blocked off  so nobody could view the procession without paying a hefty entrance fee LOL

We saw the daylight procession but didn't want to wait around for the extra hour and a half to see the illuminated one, so we escaped early to avoid getting trapped in the car park when everybody wanted to leave en masse.   I took lots of photos though and it was good fun.

We explored the town a bit before the fun started - looking for somewhere to have a drink and snack.     Had to laugh at the signs which were plastered all over the windows of a Nepalese restaurant which was being refurbished:

You'd expect the signs to say 'Wet Paint' But then I realised it probably isn't so silly as it sounds ... after all we do talk about 'waiting for paint to dry' .....

We found a nice pub with a terrace garden and enjoyed a glass of wine and light meal ... closely watched by this character who parked himself on the umbrella at the neighbouring table - he didn't get anything to eat from us though

Its been a long day so no more computer for me tonight

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Made a start on a coloured pencil drawing today.   I couldn't decide whether to work on black or white paper but in the end I decided on black.

Its going to be A3+ size so the Canson Black Pad I have isn't large enough - annoying when its just a mm or so too narrow for the mount/frame.    I found a piece of dark grey/black sanded paper in my paper stock.   Its a one-off piece that I ordered from one of the mainstream art suppliers but sadly I didn't keep a  note of the brand.

I'm rather disappointed as the grit/sand is easily removed and leaves nasty white spots which are difficult to disguise.    I will continue with this picture on Thursday before deciding whether to keep it or scrap it and start again on a white paper.

So this is just a teaser - I've cropped it considerably but can you guess what it is going to be??

Monday, 19 August 2013


Had a lovely email enclosing photos of the memorial portrait which went out to Singapore recently and is now framed and hanging on my client's wall.    Here is 'Spice'

I love the simplicity of the frame with this picture.    The  horse portrait (Zinc) was for the same client who has had the portrait framed and will be taking it to her daughter next month.  Her daughter lives in Australia where she is training to be a Vet, the horse belonged to her and is another memorial portrait.  I'm hoping to see photos of the framed portrait once it is delivered and hung.

I heard from my friend Lynne (Catwoman) in Fuerteventura that one of the two feral cats I feed when out there has died.   Its companion is very sad and lonely so just hope it pulls through as they are quite elderly I think.  We think they are/were brother and sister.  I never named them but we just called them 'The Lara Cats' as they lived in the garden of an empty villa named Lara Villa.    When I'm in England, Lynne visits regularly to leave biscuits and water for them as they aren't tame enough to be rehomed, they come to call but are wary of humans.

The one we have been most concerned about is the one at the back here (the boy) because of that growth on his face, but it is the other one (the girl) that has passed away.

RIP little girl and I hope brother can adapt to being alone

Talking of Fuerteventura, the weather out there is exceptionally hot just now with temperatures of up to 44deg in the shade being recorded.   I'm pleased we aren't there at the moment as that would be too hot for me.   

I have been very busy with non-arty bits recently but have been sorting through my hundreds of ref. photos to shortlist a few which will be next on the drawing board.   I'm going to concentrate on coloured pencil work for the next couple and hope to make a start on the first one by the weekend.

We're being treated to lunch at Whitstable Castle today so must go and make myself presentable ... seems to take longer to do that these days LOL.    Its also getting harder to get David to be ready on time - he's always late for everything because he gets sidetracked too easily.

Yesterday we were late leaving to visit the mums as he couldn't find his trainers/shoes.    He searched upstairs and downstairs getting more and more frantic so I had to join the search.    I eventually spotted them on a shelf in his office.   He'd intended to file away a folder of papers he'd been working on but picked up his shoes and filed them instead ... I ask you !!!!!!!     ;-}