Friday, December 29, 2006

Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy and Successful 2007

I am going to Scotland until Tuesday to celebrate the New Year in style, or as much style as possible with two collie pups in attendance. On my return home I am going into hospital for a few days, so I will be missing until around the 15/01. I just wanted to wish you all a Very Merry New Year, and hope that 2007 brings only good things.

This is the last photograph of the pups for 2006, the next ones should be from a beach in Scotland.

I have also started a new grey cat 'with a splash' to match the first one. It is all Coloured Pencil on Arches Hot Press Watercolour paper.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Demonstration of how to draw a Cat's Eye in Coloured Pencil

A quick hello from Rio who is progressing really well. He is now able to lead a normal puppy life with the other Glenspey collies.

I am often asked how I draw the eyes in my macro cat series, so I thought I'd do a quick demonstration to show you.

As this is just a demo I haven't been careful with the shape of the eye and as the diagrams are bigger than my drawing the colour might look less smooth than in real life.

I first draw the shape of my eye using Polychromos Paynes Grey, I indicate the pupil in the same, but use graphite to define the highlights then I can easily erase later.

The second step is covering the pupil in Black Grape taking care to reserve the highlights, and washing the iris with Cream, both colours are from the Prismacolor range (used to be Karisma in the UK).

I always use those initial colours no matter what colour the finished eye colour will be.
In the second diagram.I have strengthened the line round the eye using Polychromos Black Soft and softened the graphite round the highlights. Black Soft is a lovely pencil to use, as its name suggests it is a little less dense than black.

The next stage is to place a wash of Polychromos Indigo Blue over the pupil. Most of the iris is then washed with Deco Aqua except the little bit at the bottom and the edges which get another wash of cream.

I again put a wash over the pupil, this time with Polychromos Black Soft. I have completed another layer of Deco Aqua but changed the cream to Jasmine.

All the above layers are completed with a really sharp point. From the next layer I will start using different pressure to indicate marks in the eye.

I have added a layer of black to the pupil, then layered Polychromos Light Aqua over the Deco Aqua, put a layer of cream over the whole area except round the pupil and then another layer of Deco Aqua.
I've put the eye in context by adding some fur round the it using raw umber, dark brown and black.
Back with the eye I used Aquamarine with a really sharp point to start defining marks, then washed the whole thing with cream pressing on slightly harder

I darkened the pupil againwith black, put some more Aquamarine marks in, then added two layers using Jasmine and Deco Aqua working them in to give the effect I'm looking for. I have started to add some Black Grape for shadow.The eye is just starting to look like it has some depth.

I once again go over the pupil, this time using Black Grape.
Added light green over the shadow and jasmine around the edges, then layered cream with medium pressure. Added light blue in the large highlight

I then layered white over everything except the pupil, worked more deco aqua, light green and jasmine in, again looking to create depth. I took a little of the blue out of the top of the highlight, then used white with a really heavy pressure.I added indigo to the shadow.At actual size this is looking reasonable.I will work another layer of cream then blend using a colourless blender.

I hope this has been useful, if you would like a demonstartion of fur or nose, ears etc just leave me a comment to let me know.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Good News for Rio

Rio went back to the hospital today and has continued to make good progress. He can now have his splint off during the day, we need to replace it at night for a few days, but he can now start to use his jaw.

The vet was pleased with his progress and determined that there was a good degree of callus forming, so the jaw is fairly stable. Obviously he will continue to need a high degree of supervision for a while, but at least he can start to live a normal life.

We visited our friends last night who own the Norsvana Norwegian Forest Cats and they gave me the 2007 Norsk Skogkatt Society Calendar. The image for January is the painting I did of John and Caroline Tipper's Ch Tiganlea Prince Dante.

If you like Norwegian Forest Cats then a visit to either website is worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Update on Rio

I'm sorry this has taken so long, I have just been really busy with various things.

We took Rio back to the animal hospital and the Vet removed his tube, vest and collar as his jaw is growing, and best of all growing straight.
He told us to take the splint off when he is being fed. This pleased Rio immensely and he ate a full large tin of rice pudding without lifting his head from the dish. He has continued to eat and eat and eat, and he has gained 7lbs in weight in two weeks. He has now worked out that after eating, his splint goes back on and has decided that puppy activities are better without it. I can only say that I can probably now lasso a steer in full flight quite easily.

He has also been reunited with his sister for short periods of supervised play. They were very pleased to be back together, so pleased that all they want to do is knock one another over. Obviously these periods have to be rather short, and consist of much catching of puppies in full flight. You can see what I mean from the photograph of them.

We take him back to the hospital again on Friday and are all hoping he can have the splint off for longer periods of time.

He is not at all frightened of the big dogs and barks as best he can at them from the other side of his baby gate, or pulls their fur through the gate. Juno is fascinated by him and spends hours lying near him.

We went to the printers yesterday and took Juno with us, he had a lovely time on the beach at Saltburn away from his puppy watching activity.

I have finished my French Grey cat, which was one of the reasons for visiting the printer, he made an excellent job with the prints. So here is 'Shades of Grey'

Tomorrow I'll carry on with my black scratch bord demonstration.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back to Black - Experiments with Claybord

Two of the other Fine Line Artists., Nicole and Maggie, have been using coloured pencil on claybord and producing some great work, so I wanted to give it a try.
I couldn't find a supplier in the UK so I ordered from Dick Blick's in the US, and sent for both black and white Ampersand claybord in various sizes.
The ampersand website has a great deal of useful information on using the claybord with various media.

I have been wanting to try scratchboard/scraperboard work for a while so decided to start with a small piece of the black and use a combination of coloured pencil, gouache, acrylic and scratching.

I transferred my pencil drawing from rough paper to the claybord using white tracedown paper and as always started with the eyes.

I used a base coat of gouache, scraped a little and then put several heavy layers of coloured pencil on top.
I will need to show you some detail in my next post, which will also show my homemade scratching tool.

A Sorry Story

Our dog puppy, who we've finally named Rio, suffered a freak accident last week. He got under the fence and in with the adult dogs in the seconds Bryan's back was turned, and got knocked over. Normally this would have been no problem as he would have been picked up, cuddled and sent back to the garden. But he obviously fell on his face because he suffered a broken bottom jaw.

Because he is so small and has broken it in right on the join, our vets felt there was nothing they could do for him. However, I got him referred to the Animal Medical Centre Referral Services at Manchester as they have a vet who deals in oral and maxillofacial surgery and they are used to dealing with show dogs (in Rio's case prospective show dog).
The vet we saw was wonderful, as were all the nursing staff, even though it was 7.00 at night they were prepared to operate immediately after they had dealt with another emergency admission.
We left him knowing that whatever happened he was in safe hands.
The vet decided to let everything settle down for a week and just 'splint' his jaws and put him a oesophagal tube in to allow us to feed him .
So he came home wearing a string vest to keep his tube clean and out of the way, his jaws taped together and a collar to stop him scratching.

But don't think this is a poorly puppy, the greatest problem we have is stopping him from running about, he is desperate to play with his sister and his mum and cannot understand his solitary confinement. Of course he is getting cuddled by everyone who passes by, and as we have him in the lounge with us there is a lot of through traffic.

Here he is looking extremely cross because he can hear his sister running about in the kitchen.

We take him back next Friday for the vet to decide whether he needs an operation or he can continue letting his body heal itself.

He has a long way to go but he is one tough little puppy so we are praying everything will work out for him.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Early Mornin Play

I am having all my hedges cut later today, so I took the puppies out first thing for their now routine morning romp, because the noise from the hedge cutting will be too much for little puppy ears. It is actually also too much for large dog ears and they are now all protesting that they can't sleep, play or go outside without being deafened. In fact their noise is competing quite satisfactorily with the machine noise, I'm wondering if I should ask the gardener to borrow his ear protectors.
It is a beautiful morning, cold and sunny with a beautiful blue sky and the pups enjoyed running about. We have a large garden with plenty of space, but we do have two large, quite deep ponds. Guess where the puppies make a bee line for, the largest, deepest pond, which is sunk into a patio so falling in it would be easy. No matter how many times I carried them right to the other side of the garden, they dashed back, fortunately my dashing is faster than theirs at present. Although I have a feeling that in not too many days the position will be reversed, then they will have to be confined to a smaller but safer part of the garden.

I decided Roxy should have her own photo this morning and then one of the two of them, don't be fooled by those angelic exteriors.

Back to art, the painting of Juno is now finished, I am pleased with it, because for me it has captured that something that is 'Juno'

I am in the middle of a large commission, which I can't share as the photograph is not mine and it is being done as a gift. But I do hope to start a new work for me later today so I will do it as a demonstration.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Puppies Rule

I wanted to photograph a piece of artwork this morning, and as it has stopped raining decided to go outside.
As I passed the puppies, ever watchful Rosco (name change from Remy/Basil) spotted me and stood up. As we are trying to house train them I picked him up and took him with me. He was well aware that would happen and I am sure he sleeps with one eye open, so he looked very self satisfied.
This morning it is very wet and windy in Yorkshire, although it wasn't actually raining when I went out. I thought the wind might scare him, so put him down in the shelter of the Conservatory, wrong, he immediately climbed into a trough of flowers. I rescued him from there and he did his best 'I rule the world' stand, a show dog in the making I hope.

I am completely puppy orientated at the moment so I completed a new ACEO last night, this time of a border collie puppy from a litter I visited a couple of years ago. It is all coloured pencil on Arches Hot Press Watercolour paper and has been listed on eBay. I think my next small work will have to feature Rosco, I'm sure he's going to pose for the camera.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pooch in Boots

It is my birthday tomorrow and my cyber chums from our Fine Line Artist group have sent me an early present.
Although the present is for me, it actually involves Juno, read on and I'll explain.
I have been known to comment, on how white paws and black mud don't mix when we go to the winter dog shows.
We leave home for the show with Juno having four sparkling white legs and feet. If it has been raining we usually arrive to find a large expanse of churned up black sticky mud. We sit in the car and start the great debate. Can we pick our way through the mud or has my long suffering husband to carry Juno.
We usually start with Juno walking, but what you have to realise is that when Juno arrives at a show he usually needs to announce his arrival by jumping around. During the course of the jumping he spreads the mud far and wide, up his legs, onto his white tummy, and onto Bryan (I've usually moved out of the firing line as I need to stay clean to go in the ring). Then we decide to pick him up, this of course spreads the mud even further up Bryan as Juno struggles to get down, complaining loudly that Rough Collies do not want carrying.

So, my friends have bought me a set of very nice black waterproof boots for Juno. I tried them on him yesterday and he was absolutely horrified. First, he tried to walk without his feet touching the floor, then when he picked himself up, he lifted his legs up as high as he could, then he sat down and refused to move.
I am sure that at the next show Juno will arrive with clean legs, but I'm afraid that Bryan will be no better off, except little black boots will spread the mud rather than white paws.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Beginnings and Nearly Finished

Roma's pups are now looking less like little rodents and more like puppies, not yet Rough Collie puppies but getting there. So here are Roxy (Glenspey Heavely Star) and Remy (aka Basil, Glenspey Shooting Star)

The pups are beginning to develop personalities now, Roxy is more confident in the house, but when we made the most of yesterdays sunshine she collapsed in a heap at her first taste of the great outdoors. Basil however wandered about quite happily in a short sighted blundering way.
Roxy gave her first bark yesterday and frightened herself, she hasn't repeated the experience yet.
The first photograph is 'Roxy', the second 'Basil.

I have been working on my Juno painting and have almost finished. I found the background was starting to come forward a little so I airbrushed some very pale blue over it all.

Friday, October 13, 2006

It's a Dog's Life

I've decided it's time that I got back on track with my dog paintings, having been side tracked by cats for some considerable time.
Roma's puppies are now doing well enough to be left sleeping in their box for short periods of time so I can go large again.
Puppy photo's will be coming, when they look less like small rodents and more like collie puppies.

After spending so much time watching my own collies over the last few days I decided to launch my new series 'It's a Dog's Life' with my own Juno.
I posted the photo in my blog earlier this year and have been meaning to paint it ever since. I am trying to move away from simple head studies to setting the dog in a background, to portray a slice of its life.
This is on drafting film, approx 20 x 18 inches, I have used an airbrush for the background, but Juno himself is all coloured pencil so far.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Less Work, More Play.

I have not done very much art work over the last week as I have spent most of my time watching over Roma and her babies.
She gave birth two nice pups on Sunday morning so I have spent a lot of my making sure the new family have everything they need, mainly warmth, peace and quiet at this stage. She had a dog who will be known as Remy (Glenspey Shooting Star) and a bitch Roxy (Glenspey Heavenly Star).
Roxy will stay here with us at Glenspey if all goes well and Remy is already spoken for, so the stress of finding the right home is removed this time.
I will take a photograph in a few days.

I did however finish my cat on black and called it 'Dark and Dainty', prints will be available from the end of October. The original will go to America to be exhibited in our first Fine Line Artists exhibition.

Now I don't need to sit with the pups all the time, I have started another cat on black stonehenge, this time I am adding to my 'up close and personal' series.

It is amazing how much faster I can work on black, I have only taken about eight hours on this one so far.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Colourful Black

Roma's litter has still not arrived so I am carrying on working in a small format.
I decided to create another ACEO on black, but this time I decided to go colourful. It was a great deal of fun putting blues and violets into a black cat and the result was quite pleasing, at least it was to me.

As I'd brought a huge sheet of black stonehenge down from the loft, I decided to carry on working on black, but go slightly larger.
The Fine Line Artists first joint exhibition is in December so I thought I'd do something for that.
This is all coloured pencil and is approximately 9 x 7.
I nearly always put in the eyes first, but once they were done I abandoned my usual way of working one small area to completion and worked over the whole cat.
This first stage makes the poor cat look a little evil because the bright eyes glow in the middle of all that dark.

I then added some brighter colours, blue and a bright orange to give it some punch and started work on the chest fur.
This one is starting to look a lot less menacing as the fur colours start to brighten.
Because this is much less detailed than my usual way of working it is also much faster, I might be able to acheive my eventual aim of producing a new piece of art every week.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Small is Beautiful, and Collectable

As I am spending most of my waking hours watching Roma for any signs of impending labour, I decided to try something small, and easy to pick up and put down if necessary.
The perfect thing seemed to be to create an ACEO, or to give them their pedigree name, Art Cards, Editions and Originals. (I am busy thinking about pedigree names for Roma's pup(s) )
These cards can be created in any material, using any surface, and cover any subject material. There is just one rule, they must be a uniform size of 3.5 x 2.5 inches, this is the same size as a trading card.
These little cards are immensely popular as they are a way of collecting original art at affordable prices. If you put ACEO into google you will find out just how popular they are.
They can be mounted and framed in the same way as larger works of art, or put in special collectors albums.
Some artists specialise in ACEO's and some just create them as an addition to larger works perhaps when time is limited.
Several members of our Fine Line Artists group produce ACEO's on a regular basis and sell them on eBay, have a look on eBay for katherinellis, caulfieldfineart and greywaren, as well as my own identity, glenspey1a.
This is one I did a while ago and sold.

This time I wanted to do something fun, so with Halloween not to far in the distance I created this one. It is coloured pencil on mountboard and is on eBay now.

Although I enjoyed creating a fun piece it is not something i would want to do very often so my next one is back to my usual macro cat portraits, coloured pencil and acrylic on black pastel paper.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sunshine and Ice

It's a beautiful day here in Yorkshire, too hot in fact for poor Roma whose puppies are due next week.
I even saw a Hummimg Bird Hawk moth in the garden this morning, I'd never seen one before and had to 'Ask Jeeves' what sort of insect looked like a Hummimg Bird. Sadly by the time I got the camera out it had gone to find a more tasty variety of plant.

I decided it was time to get a move on and finish my gesso experiments, so out came the penguins.
I completed the feet in coloured pencil and then added more acrylic to the background, a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Payne's Grey and White.
The bodies need some colour adding to develop form, but then I'm going to varnish them, frame them and let my son have them. I have been fighting with the grain, I didn't put enough layers of gesso on, or sand well enough, so I'm not sure if I will repeat the exercise.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Introducing the Fine Line Artist Group

This is a brief introduction to a group of eight artists called 'Fine Line Artists' , a group that I helped to create in September 2005.

Since then we've worked together to help develop our art and artistic ambitions. We have now decided to launch a new website to promote the members to a wider audience.

Fine Line Artists is a group of eight artists who live on three different continents, in four different countries, and in five different parts of North America. Their ages cross four decades and they have very different backgrounds but they nevertheless share common goals.

The group was formed in September 2005, primarily to provide support both for the development of their art and, for some, the business of being an artist. Their aims have been to achieve artistic growth through honest dialogue and to provide help and support at all times - in dealing with the challenges presented by their artwork, the art business and life generally.

The artists met one another in an internet art forum and subsequently developed close friendships through e-mail correspondence and the subsequent formation of their own private forum in September 2005. This year, some of them have been travelling very many miles to meet up 'face to face' for the very first time.

Since forming, they have met many personal challenges, supported much development and celebrated very many achievements.

They are all unequivocal that they have achieved much more by being a member of this group than they might have done pursuing their art as an individual.
The other members of the group are:-
Nicole Caulfield - New Hampshire, USA
Katherine Ellis - Maine, USA
Louise Sacett - California, USA
Maggie Stiefvater - Virginia, USA
Katherine Tyrrell - London, UK
Gordon Leverton - Ontario, Canada
Wendy Prior - South Island, New Zealand
If you want to find out more then visit our website:-

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Society of Feline Artists Exhibition - 4th - 23rd September

Yesterday saw me travelling to London to meet my friend and fellow artist Katherine Tyrrell to attend the Private viewing and opening of the Society of Feline Artists (SOFA) annual exhibition.
The exhibition is held at the LLewellyn Alexander Gallery in Waterloo and was opened by David Grant MBE who is the patron of the Society. I remembered him from the TV programme 'Animal Hospital.
I have had two pieces accepted into the exhibition 'Sitting Pretty' and 'Stepping Out'

Sitting Pretty
I actually had my photograph taken outside the gallery, make the most of it because it doesn't happen very often.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Cheetah continued

I'm continuing to layer acrylic to build up the fur and finding that I am really enjoying painting after spending so much time with dry media.
I keep adding small fur strokes then glazing with a darker colour and the fur is now starting to show some depth. The close up of the fur is actually larger than it is in RL.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What do Colourfix primer, Gesso and canvas have in Common?

The answer is, that I've been combining them to try to find an ideal surface to use coloured pencil on that I can then varnish and send abroad without the need for framing under glass.

With thinking Roma might be in whelp I've stopped using pastel unless she is well away from any dust, and started this.

The first experiment was applying colourfix primer to a canvas board using a small roller. I tinted the primer with Raw Umber Chromacolour liquid acrylic as I didn't want to work on white.
This proved to be far too rough for my way of working, I could not get the fine detail for fur, although the eyes came out well.

I abandoned that one as a failure.

I then got some white gesso and again using a foam roller applied it to another canvas board. This time I let it dry and then lightly sanded it down before applying another coat and resanding. The surface this time was much smoother and the coloured pencil went on easily. As I've been promising to paint my youngest son some penguins for at least four years, I used his photograph.
The penguins are coloured pencil, the background is acrylic, it will be finished later.

I decided to carry on with the experimenting and did the same thing, but this time used a black gesso. I found it to be thicker than the white, really nice to paint on and it came out a lovely rich matte black. Again I sanded and applied another coat.
This time I found it harder to get the fur strokes in coloured pencil, so I used the pencils for an undercoat and painted on top using acrylic.
I am happy with the gesso on canvas and aim to produce some smaller pieces that I can send abroad.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chase The Tail

After seeing the wildlife artwork of some of the members of the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society I have been wanting to go larger. Sadly all that has happened up to now is that my waistline has expanded due to the excellent food I ate while on holiday.
However I have just started a new wildlife pastel painting using a full sheet of Sienna Pastel Card.
The size is 24 x 20 inches and I am using a mix of hard and soft pastels of several different brands.
I did the outline drawing in black pastel after doing rough sketches on cartridge paper.
I had already done the rough work before I went away and left the photographs and the cartridge paper covering some of the pastel card for a couple of weeks. The first photograph shows what happened, the card faded under the paper. After discussing this with my artist friend Katherine Tyrrell we wondered if this was due to the fact that the cartridge paper would not be acid free. If this has happened to anyone else I would be interested in knowing. I know that my drawing breaks several well established rules but I decided to give it a go anyway. What I hadn't considered was the dead space in between the two tigers, so my challenge will be to make that interesting and yet not draw the eye away from the cubs.
I started putting in some background colours using a range of Unison and Rembrandt soft pastels.
Once I had a base to work on I erased the reeds before adding the colour. I wanted them to stand out and not be contaminated by the background colours.
I continued to work on the background and made a start on the tiger.
Colours used so far are mainly as follows:-
Background:-Unison, BE7, 8 and 11, Rembrandt, Goldochre in 3 different tones, Windsor and Newton Burnt Umber tint 2 and a CarbOthello pencil 620.
All the above plus CarbOthello black, Nupastels in several shades, I can't tell you the colours as my set is not labelled, Unison, orange 16 and 17 and yellow 7 and 14.
Plus a white charcoal pencil.