Friday, 23 March 2018

Heavy Horses...

In my head my paintings look very different to how they actually turn out.  I wanted this one to be loose, minimal detail, an impression if you will...
Instead it is tightly painted, every chain link & piece of tack painstakingly worked...and as for that plough...
Never mind, I'm liking it anyway!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Another Snow Day...

 Well, after a week of almost Spring-like weather, the snow came back with a vengeance over the weekend.  Being the weekend, it didn't affect us too badly - we had been for supplies early Saturday morning so could afford to take it easy and stay home as the snow fell.
 We awoke to this yesterday - a bit more than predicted!
 Some of us liked it more than others...
...especially to eat!  I'm surprised Daisy didn't spend most of the day asking to go outside for a wee, she ate so much snow during her walks.

The snow bear was made from the sweepings off the front path and off the top of my car - had to find some way to burn off a little energy!

Hopefully it will all melt away today - it's back to business as usual, places to go, things to do...

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Sad Tale With A Happy Ending...

Finished this today - this is a painting of a bear known as 451 who lives at Katmai National Park, Alaska. She has quite a story:

Back in 2015 when I started to watch the bears on, there was a sow with two cubs. One day in the autumn after the visitors' camp had shut down for the season, one of the cubs staggered and collapsed by the side of the road right in front of one of the cameras. All of us who watched the cams were transfixed, waiting to see what would happen. Over three days the poor cub got weaker and weaker and finally died. The mother bear (451) sat next to him with the other cub the whole time, only leaving for a short breaks to catch a fish or two. When the cub was dead, she sat vigil over him for a whole night.

The next day the rangers came in a boat to remove the body for autopsy - they too had seen events over the cams and it was a golden opportunity for scientific investigation. When they arrived, 451 and her remaining cub walked slowly down the road, far enough away for the rangers to safely take the cub. After they had gone, she sat there where her cub had lain for the rest of the day. The whole thing was heartbreaking - I've always believed animals feel emotions and bereavement and this just proved it as far as I was concerned. 451 and her cub eventually slowly walked away and that was the last we saw of her that year.

The following year we hoped to see her return from hibernation with her cub. Sadly there was only one sighting of her limping past one of the cams...on her own. Again, desperately sad.

However, last year at the start of the season 451 showed up at Katmai with three tiny cubs! I was overjoyed to see this! I had watched her with her dying cub every waking minute I could, even taking the kindle to bed with me to check throughout the night as I was so emotionally involved and moved by her plight, so to see her with three healthy cubs and healthy herself was wonderful.

This painting was completed in watercolours using as reference a photograph taken by someone who was actually at Brooks Camp in the autumn, and who kindly gave me permission to use it.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Mystery Solved...

 I had a reply to my question, this wolf is apparently Nuka!  So glad to be able to title my painting properly.
This is not how I pictured this painting in my head, but it is progressing along quite nicely anyway.  This is bear 451 and her cubs from Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park - she has quite a story whcih I shall tell when the painting is finished.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Bit Of This, Bit Of That...

 Well, the Beast From The East (who thinks of these daft names?) has disappeared in a puddle of melt water, thank goodness.  I started knitting these during the big freeze but didn't manage to finish them until the weather had warmed up.  But if it happens again, I'm ready!  This is a pattern from the lovely book Woodland Knits and a golden opportunity to use the fabulous furry yarn that has been languishing in my stash for far too long.
 Also knitted a cowl using recycled denim yarn and adapting a pattern from the Japanese Knitting Pattern Bible - this is one of the less ambitious patterns, but very pretty nonetheless.  I look forward to trying out some of the more complicated ones in the future.  This is for sale in my Etsy shop.
Started this little watercolour yesterday - my painting time seems to be seriously depleted this week - hoping to remedy that today.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Well At Least Someone Is Enjoying It...

Daisy yesterday - I think it's her first snow!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Wolf With No Name...

I completed this yesterday - it went very quickly despite the amount of brushstrokes needed to render the fur!  Painted in acrylics on a canvas board.

This is one of the wolves we saw at the UK Wolf Conservancy during our visit last year - I took lots of photos with a view to making paintings from them at some point.  Unfortunately, what I didn't do was note down the names of the wolves as I took the pictures - I don't know which one this is.  I've sent an email to the Conservancy with the reference photo asking which wolf it is...I'm kind of hoping it is Torak, the one that escaped and went on an adventure a few weeks ago!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Artist's Block...

Sometimes creativity reaches an impasse.  No idea why, it just happens out of the blue and is extremely frustrating.  Last week - and the week before - I had the time to paint but could not think of a single thing I wanted to paint.  Then when I found a subject, the drawing went very badly indeed and two attempts went in the bin.  So it was time to step away and go and do some heavy gardening to take my mind of it and vent some of my annoyance!

Then I had a search through my collection of photos and found one I had taken at the UK Wolf Conservancy last year that I quite fancied painting.  Three attempts later, I gave myself a mental slap round the face and used a grid to map out the basic sketch properly over the top of the failed efforts, painted out the errors and then it was business as usual.  I'm pleased with how this is progressing and very glad that the awful mind fog has lifted!

Acrylics on Dalerboard.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Triangular Shawl

Amongst everything else lately, I have been slowly knitting this scarf/shawl for the past few weeks.  It's in an interesting yarn, cotton consisting of four fine strands which gradually change colour as you knit - it starts with a deep teal and ends up a deep orange.

I like a yarn that does something as you work - keeps it interesting!

This is now for sale in my Etsy shop.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Otis Again...

I have finally managed to source some hardwood discs without holes drilled in them in order to make some painted brooches.  Here is Otis the bear again, painted & varnished and ready to go.  I will take better photos when there is daylight as I cannot escape the reflection of the flash or overhead light when taking pictures after dark!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Little Bear At The Falls...

Whilst waiting for photos for the next dog portrait, it seemed a gold opportunity to paint a picture I've had in mind since last summer when I took a snapshot from the webcam of at Brooks Falls.  Most of my snapshots from the webcams are pretty rubbish as far as artisitic composition is concerned, but this one came out nicely.  It was fun to paint as well - the bear itself did not take very long at all, but the water was quite an undertaking.

I've used watercolour on a piece of sample Arches paper - out of the six samples in the pack that I bought, I think this is my favourite to use as it holds the colour but also remains moist for quite a while so that you can work wet in wet for longer.

Next experiment, drawing on brown cartridge paper...

Monday, 29 January 2018


Mica, drawn using Derwent Drawing Pencils & Coloursoft pencils on pastel paper.  This one was a lot of fun to do - aren't they all!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Sometimes They Just Paint Themselves...

Here is the current work in progress - lovely looking cockapoo named Mica.  I don't have very good photos for this - too small, she's too furry, eyes don't show, but for some reason the drawing is going perfectly so far.  Despite numerous interruptions yesterday (doorbell, doorbell, doorbell, phone - argh!!) I managed to make good progress with it.  Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.

Monday, 22 January 2018


 These two peony paintings were a commission last year.  The lady that commissioned them was a previous customer and had been good at communicating and paid on time.  However, when I had completed the first painting and notified her, I was told there had been a death in the family and that she'd get back to me.
Well, she never did, and I was left with two paintings and no money.  Foolishly, as she had been fine the first time, I did not bother getting a deposit.  I waited a respectful while then contacted her again saying that both paintings were complete and that she could purchase them when she was ready.  No reply...and no reply to all further emails, culminating two months later in a final one saying that I was going to try and sell the paintings separately if possible.

I can understand that a bereavement would throw everything else onto the back burner, and I can understand that circumstances change.  What I don't understand is why someone doesn't have the courtesy to write a couple of lines apologising and explaining that they don't want the paintings any more - I'm a reasonable person, things happen that are beyond our control and we have to deal with them as best we can, I would not have been angry about the hours of time and effort I put into painting these.

I am now.

Friday, 19 January 2018


For Christmas I was given a box of Japanese watercolours that I had asked for - I'd seen them on the internet and was taken by the selection of bright colours and also the fact that there were metallic colours as well.  This is the first painting done using these paints - I chose a macaw in order to get to use pretty much all the colours available!  These paints were like a cross between gouache and watercolour, a bit chalky and not quite as bright as I had anticipated.  Great fun to use though as the colours stayed quite true and there didn't seem to be any muddiness when painting one colour over with another.
I didn't use the metallics on this painting, but have tried them out and was quite impressed with the effects obtainable although I;m not sure when I will use them!

Next up - paid work!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Pair Of Pretty Pooches...

Here is my latest commission, all finished.  Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.  It's so much easier drawing a white dog, the background paper does half the work when it comes to shading!

Next up, another dog portrait - a brown dog this time.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Barney No.2

This is Barney, knitted replica of a real lurcher.  I made one of these last year and the owner was so happy with it, she asked me to make another.

 Trouble was, I only had half a ball of the fuzzy yarn left and it is no longer in production (Stylecraft Gypsy - if anyone has any to spare, I'll pay for it!) so I had to hope and pray that it would go the distance.
 It lasted until the middle of the last leg - I then had to use a similar yarn which only notices if you look very closely.  Most of it is covered by the coat!
That's the last of the pre-Christmas knitting commissions - now on the the January ones!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hitting The Ground Running...

 Usually January is a dead month for commissions, which isn't a bad thing as it gives me time to get on with my own work for sale and exhibition.  Not this year however - I have two dog portraits to get done by the end of the month with more to come.  The above is one dog of a double portrait, done in Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.  I'm hoping to make good progress on the other dog this week - the past couple of weeks have been a bit of a nightmare with very little working time to spare.
 The reason being this!  Last year we had a new kitchen fitted...then a couple of weeks later, the housing association thought it a good idea to put in a new boiler (although why it couldn't have been done while the kitchen was gutted is beyond me) which had a flue like this.  Quite an eyesore, looking like a periscope...I was tempted to paint the face of an elephant around it... 
Looks aside, it was a pretty rubbish design too - every time we had heavy rain, which seems to happen a lot over the past few years, the rain water ran straight through the flue which acted like a funnel, through the boiler itself, on to our microwave and eventually on to the floor.  I'd reported it in the summer and it was looked at by three different gentlemen, one of whole walloped some sealant around the join which did nothing.

This Christmas we had rain...a great deal of rain...which resulted in situations like this.  About a litre or more of water running through a working boiler.  More frantic phone calls and we were given the jolly wire waste-paper basket thing around the base of the flue "to deflect the water".  Can you see why this might not work?  The same day the basket was fitted we had another torrential downpour and another bowl of water collected.
Finally we have had a normal flue fitted - it has rained since, but the kitchen remained dry.  So that is one of the things I have been dealing with rather than painting - very frustrating!