Tuesday, 30 December 2014


I've done a little more work on this drawing today but have got bored ... so that's the signal to put it away for a while and do something else.   Still got mixed feelings about using coloured pencils on Pastelmat because the colours really do 'sink' into the soft surface a bit but it certainly helps speed up the process - more smudging, less blending LOL

I decided to crop the picture down a bit and found a dark blue mount which shows just about as much picture as I'd like (I don't have to draw more leaves that way!

Monday, 29 December 2014


I've been 'home alone' today and had no inclination to do housework or anything stupid like that LOL

Without hubby interrupting me every 20 minutes cos he's bored, I've been able to spend a few hours at the drawing board and this is where I got with the little Blue Tit picture

I'm using coloured pencils on light grey pastelmat because the 'soft' surface of the pastelmat paper enables me to 'smudge' the coloured pencils to get the fuzzy background effect I'm aiming for.   The downside of using pastelmat is that I find the coloured pencil seems to 'sink' into the paper slightly after a while, dulling the colours and making very fine lines hard to achieve.     To counter this I've sprayed it lightly with Fixative a couple of times and then reworked it to brighten the colours again - particularly the yellow feathers.

I'll work more on it tomorrow and then put it to one side for a while .. not sure yet if it will be an entry for the UKCPS, much will depend what else I can produce in the meantime.   Just in case .... no critique please.

This looks brighter on my screen than in reality - joys of taking photos in poor light.   I'll get a better photo in daylight tomorrow.


I've just been topping up the bird seed feeders and breaking ice on the drinking/bathing bowls for our feathered friends.   Now my hands are so cold I can barely type ... and drawing will have to wait till my fingers have defrosted.

This is the latest version of the graphite RAF portrait which I've now sent to the squadron for approval.   The guy who is co-ordinating the project likes the drawing but has emailed the picture to the 'subject' for final approval before I can call it finished and give it a spray of fixative.

and what it will look like in one of the double mounts I used for my graphite portraits:

In the meantime, I've moved onto a small coloured pencil work as I really need to get something ready for submission to the UKCPS exhibition which is in London this year.    Deadline for entries is 11 February but we will be very busy in January and I won't have time to do much artwork for myself/exhibitions.    

For the first time I'm drawing a bird ... one of the cheeky little Blue Tits from my garden - I spend enough time watching them so I figured its about time I tried drawing one although they're a little bit outside my comfort zone.   If it doesn't look too bad I'll post pics when I've made a bit more progress

Saturday, 27 December 2014


Well, here in Whitstable on the Kent coast we escaped the snow that fell over quite a lot of England but we had very windy weather throughout the night which wreaked havoc in the garden, overturning our BBQ (together with its gas canister) and generally throwing lots of things around which weren't anchored down.   Luckily there was no structural damage though.

It has been cold and gloomy today so a good excuse to do nothing but sit and draw/relax a bit.  The good thing about working with graphite is I don't have to worry about matching colours so don't need to have the daylight bulbs on.

This is where I've got to with the graphite portrait of the first RAF aircrew member ... I'll go back to the face/features tomorrow but then I'll need guidance from the man himself, or at least the RAF guy who is co-ordinating the project ..

This is a scan - it has still picked up a grey cast but I'll show it 'as is' at this stage

This was a photograph which I tried to brighten/remove the cast from - but I'm not very good with photo manipulation and you can see 'grey areas' around the stray hairs, plus he looks as though I've given him a Mr Spock ear ... I'm such a technophobe!!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


and I've got a million things to do before the family descends on us for Christmas Day/Boxing Day .... but I decided to draw instead .... so will have to spend all day tomorrow cooking and getting organised.

This is my first RAF portrait subject ... I will need to do a lot more fine-tuning on the face but wanted to get the uniform done so I can work out how dark I can go with the skintones.

I'm working on bright white Mellotex card but this image has picked up a grey cast ... and at this early stage I won't waste time trying to adjust it

Sunday, 21 December 2014


So after today we can start to look forward to longer days and shorter nights ... not a moment too soon!

I haven't been on Blogger for an age - I keep making the excuse that I've been too busy but really I think my time management skills need honing so that's going to be my resolution for 2015 haha!

Although I finished the black lab a while ago, it was the last Christmas Portrait to go.  It has now been received safely and hidden till Thursday.  This was the final progress photo

We have family coming to us for Christmas so despite not being 'Christmassy' folk, we've had to make an effort this year.   The tree has gone up and been decorated this afternoon and a few Christmas ornaments/decorations strewn around the place.       This is David's contribution - the lights are on the ledge outside his 'office' window - you can just about make out his silhouette (sitting at his computer) indoors. 

I plan to start work on the first of a series of graphite drawings over the holidays (time permitting).  Its an exciting venture for me.  An RAF squadron (no names, no pack drill) want to resurrect a tradition of having drawings/sketches made of their serving personnel.  During World War II one of the lady squadron members was an artist and she spent her free time drawing/sketching squadron men/women.   The resulting pictures are in the RAF Museum.  She drew them from life, I'll be working from photos but I'm looking forward to starting work on the first 'guinea pig' soon.  

Anyway, Happy Christmas to all my Blogging friends and looking forward to catching up in 2015

Saturday, 6 December 2014


We're back from Fuerteventura where the weather wasn't great for the last 10 days ... naughty Jet Stream playing up caused storms and lots of rainfall - but the temperatures didn't drop below 22deg (shade) even on the dullest days .. so returning to wet/murky weather and temperatures of 7degrees was a bit of a shock.   Worse still is the fact that its so dark in Whitstable by mid-afternoon ... There is no time difference between Fuerteventura and UK but sunset is a couple of hours later so the extra daylight is a real boon.

Just a few pics from the Canaries ... as usual I took lots of photos but didn't get round to posting many.

What do you think of this house ... known locally as the 'icing house', for obvious reasons,  it is billed as one of the most unusual 15 houses from around the world

I think the sun shining through those coloured glass windows in the roof/chimney sections must look spectacular inside the house.

The film Exodus: Gods & Kings (directed By Ridley Scott & starring Christian Bale) was filmed on Fuerteventura back in the Summer when we were there.   It is being released this month so am looking forward to watching it.  There was an appeal for 'locals' to appear as extras in the crowd scenes but auditions were restricted to 'thin' people, preferably with beards/long hair and with no tattoos ... obviously the slaves freed by Moses had been wandering the desert for weeks and were hardly likely to be overweight ... I think the hardest task must have been finding non-tattooed people, particularly on Fuerteventura where it seems to be almost compulsory LOL.     

Don't know about you but I hate 'body art' and wonder just how weird some of the young folk's tattoos will look in 20 years time .... just a couple of pics taken this trip, but its becoming increasingly difficult to find anybody on the beach with non-adorned skin

Or am I just being an 'old fogey' ??

Anyway, we're back into a routine now and I finished/delivered one Christmas portrait yesterday and have made progress with another which I hope to finish (subject to approval) tomorrow.   

This is Ruby, a beautiful black working labrador and I'm safe posting pics as her owner won't see them apparently.    

It is difficult working on a black coat in such poor light but I'm getting there ...   

Then I have an exciting new project which, if all goes to plan, will keep me ticking over with work throughout next year so I'm going to struggle to get any exhibition work done ... watch this space

Friday, 7 November 2014


Known as the Windy Island, what better place to stage a Kite Festival than our very own sand dunes at Corralejo?

Today we walked along the  Dunes (and its a fairly long walk) to see some of the wonderful kites on this, the second day of the four day festival.   Its the 27th Annual Festival and attracts flyers from all over the world.

Here's David doing his Lawrence of Arabia thing .....

Should have hopped on a camel ... would have been quicker

Today was 'free fly' day and tomorrow is a bigger event when professionals with stunt kites show their skills.  Sunday is family day when over 150 kites are handed out to kids to have a go while running around trying to catch sweets dropped from the air by little parachuting teddy bears ... bless    Followed by a Firework display in the evening as the Spaniards do like a noisy finale to most events!

These are some of the fabulous kites on display whilst we were there but others were coming and going all the time:  Lovely blue skies this morning although its clouded over this afternoon - not bad for November eh?

Monday, 3 November 2014


Why did I decide to work on a pastel portrait (a black labrador at that) on the day before we leave for a trip?   

The weather is appalling here - torrential rain which at times has thrashed down like hailstones and so very cold .... Its very difficult working on black fur in artificial light so I've given up but of course I now need to have a big clean up (me and the working area)!      

I do tend to get sidetracked and wander round opening cupboards, making coffee etc and just generally leaving a trail of pasteldust behind.    A friend is staying at the house whilst we are away so I need to make sure its all clean and tidy.

At least I've made a decent start on it.   The dog portrait is to be a Christmas Gift so doesn't have to be posted till early December.    I seem to be stockpiling them at the moment.   She's a very shiny black dog and I've been using lots of blues, mauves and reds to lift the colour a bit - using black pastel alone would simply look very flat and dull.    The photo is the best I can get at the moment

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Don't the months/years just rush by when you get older?    Less than 8 weeks to the Big C ... bah humbug.

OK, well I finished the cp drawing and must admit I'm pleased she escaped the bin as I've grown to quite like her now

Now I've posted this I can see some areas I still need to tweak but I've packed the Coloured Pencils away for now in readiness for starting the pastel commission which I've outlined this afternoon.   Its a black dog so I didn't actually make a start on it as I lost the light ... I do have daylight bulb lamps but still prefer to work in good natural light when dealing with black fur.

Tomorrow is our Grand-daughter's 'family birthday tea'.  She's a Halloween baby (4 years old yesterday) so had a playschool party on Friday, a 'soft-play' party for friends today and tomorrow is the family day so she's going to be quite partied-out by the end of the weekend!  I probably won't get any artwork done tomorrow.

Yesterday was the warmest Halloween Day on record in the UK apparently, and it was mild enough to sit outside at our friend's house in short sleeves!        Here's a few photos I 'filched' from her Facebook page

Our hostess, Di, taking a 'Selfie' in front of the mirror.   She isn't normally green, by the way!

Well, we were warned!!!

This was Alan, enjoying a pint and a ciggie in the garden

Love these 'filmy' door hangings/screens .... very creepy, don't you think?

and a coven of witches - note David's pink hair LOL