Friday, December 21, 2007

Art Materials - Part 2

The other new surface I have been using this year is Pastelbord.
I use Ampersand Pastelbord which is described as "a clay and gesso hardboard panel with a granular marble dust finish"
The pastelbord is available in four colours, sand, grey, green and white. I ordered samples of all four colours although up to now I have only worked on the sand one.
The Ampersand website shows the four colours and gives much more information on the product, including the diversity of media you can use on it.

What I want to do, is let you know what my experience of working with it has been.
The first thing I tried was a cheetah on one of the smaller panels, I used coloured pencil and some acrylic. Although it is desribed as being similar to working on sanded paper, I found that initially it was harder to work with because of its inflexibility.

Once I had adapted my working method things became much easier.
I used more pressure with the pencil, certainly on the early layers a soft touch is not required, but you can continue to add layer after layer.
I was also not successful in adding acrylic staight onto the surface, it was too rough for me to get a fine line. I did however successfully add touches of acrylic on top of the pencil.
For the background I blended the colours using the solvent 'Zest it', this worked really well.
Once finished I had no need to frame under glass, I simply varnished it.

Around the time I was starting a new painting I saw a couple of artists using Neocolor ll combined with coloured pencil on pastelbord and liked the effect they were able to get.
The Neocolor ll are made by Caran D'Ache and are a watersoluble stick of pigment.
I added these to the background and the fur of 'Shred' and liked how easy they were to work with.
Shred was the painting I was working on whilst demonstrating at the NEC, and people were amazed at the effect you could get with coloured pencils.

Again I used touches of acrylic to bring out a few highlights.
I will continue to use Pastelbord, I like the finished effect and the fact that you can frame without glass. It is vastly different from working on drafting film and the end result is different, so I would look at what I wanted the final resultto be in order to decide which surface to use.
The one draw back is that I have to order the Pastelbord from America, I have yet to find a supplier based in Europe.
To be continued............

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Art Materials - Part 1

I have found that people are curious about the supports I use for my work, in particular Drafting Film and Pastelbord. So I have decided to include a page on my website giving more information on the materials I use, but I thought I'd also do a blog post.
Although I have tried out many supports over the past few years I return to the same favourites:-
Arches Hot Press Watercolour paper or Mellotex for graphite
Polydraw Drafting Film for coloured pencil, or mixed media including acrylic
Ampersand Pastelbord for coloured pencil including Neocolor ll

Drafting Film, I use Polydraw double matt, 75 micron sheets. Polydraw is by West and is available as sheets or in rolls. It is described as a polyester drafting film with a high degree of dimensional stability.
I find its exceptionally smooth surface ideal for the detail I want to be able to produce. A sharp pencil point lasts for a long time on this surface. I can also easily airbrush acrylic backgrounds to produce a wonderful soft focus effect.
The one thing that you can't do on this surface is use a lot of layering, I've found 3 or 4 layers is about as many as I can manage.
If you make a mistake on Polydraw it is easy to correct, simply dampen the area and wipe off. I have even removed an airbrushed background, although that wasn't quite as easy.
I believe that an equivalent to Polydraw in the US and Canada is Mylar, and I know many artists use Mylar to great effect.
Here are a couple of examples of my work on drafting film. I have airbrushed all the background in the Rough Collie painting, in real life you can see how this pushes the subject forward.
In the Norwegian Forest Cat painting I have done the background entirely in coloured pencil, again a subtle effect but much more time consuming.

To be continued.....................

Friday, November 30, 2007

Things I'd like to find in my Christmas Stocking

1. Time, I never have enough of it to do everything I want.
2. Dog hair fixative, for the times when I do not want to wake up and find their fur coats on the floor.
3. Rose coloured glasses, to put on before opening the door to my eldest son's bedroom.
4. A treadmill for dogs, for the days when I would rather sit indoors with a glass of wine and watch them exercising themselves.
5. A ball that brings itself back to me, for the times when I've thrown it a huge distance and every dog runs in the opposite direction.
6. A towel that can dry 24 paws without any help from me.

I'm sure I can come up with a few more so please feel free to send me any of the above.

I have worked a bit more on my cat with the reflection.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Christmas ACEO

I was planning this years Christmas card yesterday and liked the kitten I was drawing so much that I let him star in his own ACEO.
I added a mouse so he wouldn't feel lonely, and called it 'Waiting for Santa Paws'. It is coloured pencil and acrylic on drafting film.

My 2007 Christmas card is heading for 2008 if I keep getting distracted.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Cats

I'm glad it's weekend, this has been one of those weeks that go from bad to worse.
I'm having a difficult time at work due to massive restructuring which is ongoing, so that has been on my mind all week.
On Wednesday I slipped on some leaves and hit my chin on a wall that kindly stopped me falling to the floor, but left me with a huge bruise and a bottom jaw that doesn't look to fit the top one.
Thursday we got Juno and Roxie ready for the show which takes place today. We got up on Friday to find most of Roxie's coat on the floor, she told me she was hot in the night so had taken it off. It is not worth taking either of them to the show as Juno is also slightly out of coat, so the hours spent getting them ready was wasted.
Also on Thursday my eldest son's drive shaft on his car rolled over and died. As he needs his car to get to University that took a lot of sorting out to ensure it went to the sick car hospital on Friday.
On Friday I had to have some routine blood tests, as I have had chemotherapy my veins strongly object to anyone even looking at them. They were even less impressed when the nurse told me she had forgotten her glasses, but not to worry she works mainly by touch. All I can say is that her touch let her down on this occasion.

But, Shred is finished and I'm working on a new cat on drafting film.
I used a lot of Neocolor ll on the fur under Shred's chin and then wet it so that I could get a nice slightly out of focus look. I am really impressed with how the Neocolour work so well with coloured pencil.

The other cat is mainly coloured pencil with touches of acrylic, I'm still thinking about how I'm going to do the reflection.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Update on Roxie and Shred

Not having included my collies for a while I thought I'd let you see how Roxie is maturing. She is practicing being a Pointer in this photograph while she does a spot of duck watching.

Rio had trotted on ahead to make sure we weren't in any danger of being kidnapped, he takes his brotherly duties very seriously.

On the art front, here is the update of Shred, at last he is almost finished.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Demonstrating for the UK Coloured Pencil Society

I spent Thursday and Friday at the Art Materials Live Exhibition held at the NEC in Birmingham.

I was demonstrating for the UK Coloured Pencil Society (UKCPS) and it was great fun. I talked myself hoarse early on the first day, and had to revive myself with large amounts of liquid refreshment, strictly non alcoholic as I was driving. The stand had several artists demonstrating, all very talented and quite diverse in approach, so people got a good idea of just what can be done with the coloured pencil.

I had two half finished pieces there, Shred the ginger cat on ampersand pastelbord, and one on drafting film. People were amazed at the finish you could get on the pastelbord and I got some really wonderful comments, if any of you read this, thank you for making my day.

I got so many questions on how to draw eyes and how to work on drafting film that on the second day I started a new cat. I started with the eye and showed people how to work by building up the layers, and then adding the final highlight to get the glassy appearance. I also did a little of the surrounding fur. I met several architects and graphic designers who found watching me work brought back happy(ish) memories of using drafting film.
The drafting film I use is Polydraw double matt, 75 microns in weight.

Here's what I drew plus a bit more that I added yesterday.

I also had my photograph taken with my work several times, even by one of the other exhibitors.
I really enjoyed my two days, I met up with some old friends, made some new ones and saw some stunning work.
The exhibition finishes today but I can highly recommend a visit next year to stock up on your materials and see some wonderful work. I know that as long as they want me, i will be back on the UKCPS stand.
Several people asked me about workshops or if I would do a DVD on drawing animals in coloured pencil, I will look into that after Christmas.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Painting a Miniature

My friend Katherine recently went to see the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of MiniaturePainters,Sculpters and Gravers. This reminded me that I had some Ivorine put to one side, so I decided it was time to have a go at my own miniature.
Ivorine is a manufactured imitation ivory with a white translucent surface. It is totally smooth and very easy to work on.
I wanted a change from cats so decided to paint a Chipmunk that I photographed in the Mount Ranier National Park whilst on holiday.
I think it's a Least Chipmunk but please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
I decided to use acrylics on the Ivorine and I'm using 4/0 to 10/0 brushes.

If you are interested the only place that I know to purchase Ivorine is from Polymers Plus, they are very helpful and have an excellent mail order service.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Book Review, Drawing from Line to Life by Mike Sibley

The Big Draw 2007 has been launched and during October over 1300 Big Draw events will take place throughout the UK.
In conjunction with the official events, Katherine Tyrrell has a new project on her blog which will run throughout October, The Big Drawing Book Review. (Just to make it clear, this project was initiated by Katherine and is not linked to the Big Draw in a formal way.)

Now I'm a bit of a bookaholic, I absolutely love books, so I'm going to try to review one of my drawing books each week during October.

I have to start with my absolute favourite 'Drawing from Line to Life'.
This book is a complete guide to drawing realism in graphite.
It covers materials, methods, techniques and three complete demonstrations, all by professional graphite artist Mike Sibley.
It is divided into 24 chapters which start with, From Line to Life Explained and end with, Putting it all Together.
In between are chapters on techniques such as Blending and Layering, Indenting, Negetive Drawing and Erasing Techniques.
Chapters on drawing various elements such as Ellipses, Textures, Reflections, Foliage, Hair and Features.
There are also three full length demonstrations, Charlotte (little girl), Clarrie (cat) and one featuring a puppy and many other elements from earlier in the book.

This is a large book with 625 illustrations in more than 280 pages, the printing is crisp and clear and the binding means that the book will open flat if you want to refer to it whilst drawing.
I absolutely love this book, but then I am an animal artist who loves to use graphite.
The simple step by step approach yet diverse information make it equally appealing to both the beginner and more advanced artist.
The book only covers graphite and will suit artists who like total control and to produce a high degree of realism in their work, it does not cover a more painterly approach to drawing. Also many of the illustrations are of dogs, or parts of dogs because that is what Mike draws, so there is less in the way of humans.
It is also quite expensive at £35.00, but everyone I know who has bought it, has been absolutely delighted and felt that it has improved their drawing. I know it has improved mine.
Katherine has devised a rating system, I have no hesitation in awarding this book 5 pencils:-
5 pencils - go out and buy this book right now if you have the money. In your opinion, an essential book for anybody seriously interested in drawing and/or learning more about drawing.


I have spent most of today tidying up my website. I was helped in this by my good friend and fellow artist Katherine Tyrrell, in fact Katherine had most of the ideas and did a lot of the work.
If you haven't already visited Katherine's blog then I suggest you go and have a browse, I can guarantee you will find something to interest you.

I also took time to scan Shred so that you can see I have been doing a little work.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Spotty Dog

The Society of Feline Artists Exhibition was a success for me, as well as 'Out of Sight', 'Cat Nap' also sold. I will miss them both, although I'm obviously pleased they sold.

I have attended another Mike Sibley workshop, this time we were tackling drawing fur, long, short, curly and in my case spotty. I completed this using mainly HB and 2B pencils.
I really enjoy drawing in graphite and it was a nice change to draw a dog for a change.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Neocolor and Masquepen

I had to take my son into Leeds today so decided to see what was new at the art shop. I found a couple of treasures, some Caran d'Ache Neocolor ll water soluble wax pastels and a Masquepen.

I've been wondering how to do the background on Shred, I was going to use coloured pencil and solvent but would have lost all the fine hairs that I have already drawn. Plus I find it really difficult to put the hair back in, on top of a layer of coloured pencil to which solvent has already been applied.

I have seen the Neocolours used by other Artists and they have created some great effects so I thought I'd give them a try. I only bought three colours, Terracotta, Vandyke Brown and white. I've started to put the background on Shred with Terracotta and I really like how it's working. I'm scribbling the colour on and then using an acrylic flat and water. The wax in the pencil is resisting the wash and my hairs are safe and sound. I can always add some coloured pencilo over the top if I want.

The masquepen is an applicator for applying blue masking fluid. The applicator end has a 0.5mm nib for drawing really fine lines.I'm going to experiment tomorrow and will post the results.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I was delighted to learn that 'Out of Sight' sold the day following the opening of the SOFA exhibition. Even more impressive, it sold twice. On the day following the first sale another customer also wanted to buy it, so the gallery asked if I would be prepared to do another one. Of course it will not be exactly the same, but it will be quite a challenge to do it again.

I had a stand at a local cat show on Sunday. The show was run by the Viking Cat Club and it was excellent. It was judged under FIFe rules and owners take their cats up in turn to be judged and are given a verbal critique. For an artist it was wonderful to learn the finer points of various breeds of cats.
I also sold a lot of cards, one print and had quite a lot of interest in commissions.
I intend to start a demo later this week, but for now here is Shred the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I have wanted to try suedeboard since seeing some animal portraits drawn on it, quite some time ago. I have used velour which I believed to be similar, but find it more suitable for pastels, coloured pencils seem to leave a hard scratchy line.
So when I saw some suedeboard on eBay I knew I had to try it. I got some small pieces, ACEO size in various colours.

Of course I had to try a cat. This is 2.5 x 3.5 inches on the black using mainly white coloured pencil. I like the effect but have found it quite hard to work on, I don't think I would do a larger piece.

About halfway through here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The National Museum of Wildlife Art

After travelling through Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks we stayed in Jackson Hole. This was a place I had marked on the map because it is the home of the National Museum of Wildlife Art which is a place I had long been wanting to visit.

However Jackson itself was a really interesting place to stay, many of the shops displaying items of historical interest. One of the things I remember is that in the 1920's one of the first all women town councils was elected. I wonder why that stuck in my mind.

The town itself has antler arches made from the fallen antlers of the Elk that overwinter at the Nation Elk Refuge. The antlers are collected from the refuge each spring by the local boy scouts and auctioned off in May, apart from the ones donated to maintain the arches.
The Museum itself is just outside Jackson Hole right across the interstate from the National Elk refuge.
In the winter the refuge is home to up to 10,000 Elk , there they get supplementary feeding for two to three months before returning to the higher pastures in the spring.
The Museum is home to an internationally acclaimed collection of fine art paintings, sculpture and photography devoted to wildlife.
Have a look at the website for more information.

The 'meeters and greeters' were both very welcoming and extremely knowledgeable which made our visit even better.

The one thing that struck me on first seeing the original work of artists like Robert Bateman was the scale they work on. Bateman's Bison painting 'Chief' took up a whole wall, it was simply jaw dropping. I can honestly say that having seen it in books does not prepare you for the real thing.

There were also various examples showing preparatory work in various stages right through to the finished painting.

As well as the paintings there were several DVD's which you could sit and watch, unfortunately we didn't have time to see these.
If you are in the area and like wildlife art I can almost guarantee you would enjoy a visit.

I came home inspired, so after scanning through my photo's I am going to do a demonstration of how I will work through a painting of a chipmunk, in among all the cats of course.

Speaking of the dreaded C word, I will leave you with my latest ACEO, coloured pencil and graphite on drafting film.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cats in the Belfrey

At this time of year we often see bats flying around outside the lounge window at twilight, the especially daring among them even sometimes have a quick peep in the window if we have it open. So far they have remained on the right side of the glass, but Roxie who is the only dog that appears to see them lives in hope.
Anyway last night there were several of them darting around and they obviously made a big impression, because when I went to bed I had a dream about little furry things flying about. However in my dream they looked suspiciously like cats with wings.

I'm not at all surprised as I seem to do nothing but think cats, and for a dog person that is highly traumatic, even more traumatic for my dogs.
Here is the latest partially completed cat, a Ragdoll this time, coloured pencil and acrylic on pastelbord.
I will mention the Museum of Wildlife Art tomorrow(ish) when I find my booklet from there.

However here are a few more photographs from my holiday, all the animals are wild, in their natural settings.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

12th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Feline Artists

The Society of Feline Artists annual London Exhibition takes place at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery on the 3rd September to the 22nd September.

There will be over 300 paintings on show which makes it the largest show of cat art in the UK. Work in oils, acrylics, watercolours, pastels and etchings will all be available for purchase.

All the paintings have been selected by Jillian Llewellyn-Lloyd of the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery from work submitted by both Full and Associate members of the Society.
Both myself and fellow Fine Line artist Katherine Tyrell had all our submitted pieces accepted. You can read Katherine's excellent blog post to find out more.
The three pieces I had accepted are:-

Shades of Grey

Out of Sight

Cat Nap

You can view these and other images that will be included in the exhibition on the gallery's website here.
Back in April I submitted work to be considered for inclusion in the Brochure and Private View Invitation, and am delighted to be able to tell you that Shades of Grey was selected.

The official opening is on the 4th of September and David Grant the celebrity vet will be doing the honours.
If you are in the London area and like Feline Art I can highly recommend a visit to the gallery.

On a completely separate note, we visited the National Museum of Wildlife Art at Jackson Hole, Wyoming whilst on holiday, this will form my blog post for tomorrow.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm Back, but Sleep Deprived

We had a fantastic holiday, Canada was stunning, Yellowstone and Mount Ranier wonderful and Hawaii fun.
One of the best bits was meeting a cyber friend and her dog, we had a lovely chat but didn't get to spend long enough together.

The journey home from Hawaii was trouble free, but long and boring, leaving me achieving very little today.
The house survived as did my eldest son although both looked a little rumpled round the edges. He got his A level results last week and will be going to University in Septemeber. My youngest son got his GCSE results today and I have to do a little parental bragging, he got 4 grade A's and 7 A*'s.

I took hundreds of photographs and although not lucky enough to see a wild bear, I did see many other species of wild animals including a wolf, coyote, grey fox, moose, elk, racoon, and several others. Most will feature in my future work.

I will leave you with a photograph of Mount Ranier until tomorrow when I will share my news about the Society of Feline Artists 12th Exhibition.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Missing a Little Longer

Sorry that I haven't been keeping my blog up to date, but I've been really busy.

I had my first stall at a cat show which went really well. I have now applied to exhibit at two more, one being the Supreme cat show at the NEC, so I need to concentrate on drawing as many different breeds as possible.
I have until November for the Supreme cat show but only September for the other one.
I'm now going on my holidays, my first visit to Canada and the USA so there will be no further updates until the 22/08.

I'll leave you with my latest update on Shred the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Monday, July 16, 2007

National Exhibition of Wildlife Art

I finally completed my squirrel and got her framed ready to meet the deadline for the last handing in day for the NEWA exhibition.
NEWA is the National Exhibition of Wildlife Art and is the biggest wildlife art exhibition outside London.
The 2007 website will open on Saturday 21st July and will showcase the work of all the artists gaining entry to the show. All work will be available for purchase through the website.
The exhibition is held at Gordale Garden Centre on the Wirral, if you like wildlife art and are in the area it will be well worth visiting.
The exhibition runs from the 20th July - 5th August from 9.30am - 6pm every day.

I entered my meerkat 'Sentry Duty' and of course my squirrel 'On the Edge', and have had my fingers crossed that at least one of them got selected.

This morning I found that the list of exhibitors for 2007 was posted on the website. Although I hardly dared look, you cannot imagine my excitement when I saw my name included. I don't know if just one or both have been selected, but I can't wait for the preview evening on Thursday.

Last weekend I attended my second workshop held by Mike Sibley. This time we were studying mist, water and reflections, it was a great two days of which I will write more later.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Almost Finished Squirrel

I have been working on my squirrel and have almost finished her.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about Graphitints and whether they are lightfast. I was aware that some of them are very fugitive but it seems some of the ones that appear lightfast on the chart provided by Derwent, might in fact fade rather quickly. I use the graphitints dry and haven't had any problems so wonder if the addition of water causes them to fade faster.

As I was worried that my squirrel might fade I have changed the indigo graphitint for an indigo prismacolor, and the cool brown graphitint for a brown coloursoft. I also went over the entire squirrel to ensure it wouldn't fade in the near future.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Squirrel, Floods and Photoshop

Anyone living in the UK probably knows about the floods in Yorkshire, we have had so much rain I'm thinking of trading in my car for an ark.
Twice I've been stranded as the trains failed to cope with the wrong sort of water. Which joins the wrong sort of leaves and the wrong sort of snow as reasons for delays and cancellations. However this time I'll forgive British Rail, just.
I check all the dog paws every evening for the first signs of webbing, and even cast sneak looks at the human feet, so far so good, no mutations appearing yet.
As we live on a hill it is easy to trivialise the flooding, but I do feel for all the people whose lives have been turned upside down.

The squirrel is moving slowly forward, but I need to finish her next week so hopefully I will update more frequently.
Finally, I have been practicing my new found skills with photoshop, using layers to create mock ups for possible future projects.
Here are a couple of possibilities, on these the lighting is not consistent and would need working on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Where I've Been

At the end of last week I attended Mike Sibley's 3 day graphite pencil technique workshop.
Mike is well known worldwide for his graphite drawings of dogs, his drawings are simply stunning. If you're not familiar with his work have a look at his website.

To see his original work was an absolutley jaw dropping experience and demonstrates just how much is lost when viewing images on a computer screen.
Several members on the course were my internet friends from the animal and wildlife forum on the Artpapa site. They were a great bunch of people and I hope we all meet up again some time.
I'm actually going back for a two day course in July where Mike will share some different techniques.

The main thing that I came away with was the ability to see rather than just look, which hopefully then translates into three dimensional rather than two dimensional form.

The setting for the workshop was a beautiful village hall situated in the countryside and by the end of day two we were all studying the trees, walls, even the hens which were wandering about in the most minute detail.
Just in case you wanted to see the hens, here they are.

To illustrate looking rather than seeing, the first exercise we did was to draw four objects from memory, there was much scratching of heads as we tried to remember the key pointers of rock, bark, leaf and feather. We then studied the objects and had another go, everyone's second drawing was much better than the first.

We then spent time looking at negetive drawing. I knew the theory and have even tried this in the past but it all fell into place once I'd watched Mike's various demonstrations.

On the second afternoon and day 3 we all started work on a line drawing Mike handed out. I can honestly say all 12 versions turned out differently, although non of us managed to complete very much.

Here's mine, I do intend to finish it, I'm just not sure when at the moment.

It was a fantastic 3 days, talking art with other like minded individuals and best of all learning from a true master at his craft.

Thank you Mike.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Doing Too Many Things at Once

I seem to have been busy for the last few weeks and fast falling behind on everything. It is not helped by the stress in the household at present, due to two teenage boys sitting very important exams.
My youngest soon wants to be a Doctor and takes his exams very seriously, my eldest son alternates between wanting to be a Pilot or a Formula One driver. I almost have to tie him to his desk to do some work, but at eighteen I have decided he is old enough to know how much work he needs to do. He has been offered a place at two Universities to study Computer Science and already has the grades needed for one University so his dedication to study is not great.
I have done a little work on my squirrel and my cat but I am still working on the large commission. I can't show you the commission yet as it is to be a surprise 50th birthday present. I do hope to show it in the future though.
Last week I had a sudden desire to do something completely different, I wanted a break from fur.
I have always liked atmospheric images so decided to create my own. Of course I couldn't ignore animals completely, so I put Juno into the starring role.
This is on 30 x 40 cm pastelbord, using mainly Unison soft pastels from the dark set.
I have made up the background so far, but I am using a reference photo of Juno that I took whilst on holiday in Scotland. I am going to use one of my own tree photographs for the large tree that will be on the right.
I will add the backlighting from the moon at the end as I have a terrible tendency to drag my hand through the blue and spread it everywhere.

The Fine Line Artists Exhibition is now on at the Jitterbug Cafe & Roasting Co. for more details and to see the artwork on display have a look at the Exhibition page on the Fine Line Artists website.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A very wet Bath

I know, I know, you would expect a bath to be wet, but this was Bath with a capital B. We were showing Juno and Roxie at Bath Championship show last Sunday and it rained for the whole 500 mile round trip and the entire time we were at the show.
The ring was under cover which was fine, but to get there entailed a hike through the mud.

Now I used to think Juno bounded about when he first arrived at a show, but Roxie is in a different league entirely.
Here she is on being released from the car, can you imagine how much mud she spreads over everything. We are thinking of tying her in a sheet at the next wet show, in fact I'm thinking of showing her tied in a sheet. At least then, the judge wouldn't actually be able to see how little of her was touching the ground at any one time. I'm sure judges sometimes wonder if she actually has four legs.

The ring itself had very long grass at the edges and as Juno was in a big class we spent quite a long time stood in it. Juno became convinced that there were 'things' moving about down there. He was so fascinated that he could not be convinced that he ought to have his nose up and tail down, so he moved with his nose down and tail up. The beautiful Briard bitch in the next ring also contributed to his tail carriage, he might have impressed her but sadly didn't do the same for our judge.

Roxie did better and gained a place in her class, but she was also interested in what might be hiding in the grass. She thought there might be snakes, and used that as her excuse for only having one leg on the ground at a time.

Please all cross your fingers for better weather next weekend!

Now to share progress on my cat, it is going well although I still need to make the fur a little more apricot, it is a bit harsh in some places yet.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

House Paint help with my New Cat

I still haven't really tried out my new Derwent tinted charcoal pencils because I've started a new Norwegian Forest Cat portrait.
I'm going to be at a Championship cat show in July (more later) and want to show potential clients what a commission could look like.
The breeds at the show will be Norwegian Forest, Maine Coon and Birman.
As most of my own photographs are of NFC's that is what I'm starting with.

I've decided to offer two main sizes for commissions as I'm going to use pastelbord, 11 x 14 inches and 12 x 16 inches.
This is 12 x 16 and will be in coloured pencil, I will use solvent in the later stages.
The cat belongs to John and Caroline Tipper of the Tiganlea Norwegian Forest Cats.

I have only done the eye up to now so to make this post more interesting I thought I'd share my method of looking for the local colours in my reference.
This is where the house paint help comes in. I don't use the paint just the paint sample cards.

I have realised just how much the eye can deceive when trying to decide which pencil or paint to use for the local colour. To try to be more accurate I have used various methods to establish the colour. I will only share one of these, as the others are even sillier than this one.

While drawing a Rough Collie in pastel I have been known to take the painting and hold my own Collies fur against the board. Now nice tempered though my dogs are, this does not come on their list of 'what shall we do today'. They usually struggle which results in the said fur being left all over the painting. All I will say in conclusion is be very careful how you try to remove dog fur from pastel.

However on a recent visit to the local DIY store I spotted the answer to all my problems. There, sitting quietly in a display cabinet was a rainbow of colours, the paint sample cards.

I released several of these into my custody, then went back and obtained several more. The samples are free and looking at the amount thrown onto the floor the ones I took had moved onto a better life.

They are perfect, I punched a hole in the side of each colour and now I can place the little strip over whatever reference I'm using. This can be a photograph, or my dogs or the grass outside, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few of the ones I've been using to look at the colours in this cat.

So, that's how house paint can help in the creation of your next painting.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Finished at Last

I got the horse finished at last and sent on its sea voyage. I was really pleased with how well the varnishing turned out. I used a silk rather than gloss varnish and liked the slightly dull finish.

The grey squirrel hasn't been back to visit for a few days so I was pleased to see two of the young yesterday. One was really athletic and ran up and down our two silver birches, jumping easily from one to the other. The other plodded up the tree realised the gap was too wide for a jump and sort of slithered back to ground level, crept across the lawn pretending it wasn't really there and struggled up the other tree. Obviously tired it then sat there for the next hour while it's sibling played at teasing the dogs, running about and stopping frequently to swear at them. I could see that it's mother had taught it well.

I have bought some of the new Derwent tinted graphite pencils so will hopefully be able to share with you what they are like to use.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Just Horsing Around

Sorry I haven't been updating on a regular basis, life got in the way. I am going to try to update at least every other day with something, even if it is a photograph rather than artwork.

The dogs are all as mad as ever, although over the last couple of months we have noticed Saska is really showing signs of old age. On wakening from a deep sleep she often doesn't recognise us for a couple of seconds and does her best guard dog routine. But she still enjoys her walks and chasing her ball, sometimes now though she lets one of the others bring it back, she tells us she's training them in the art of retrieve.
Roxy got her first rosette at a Championship show last Sunday, she is starting to look a little bit more mature. Sadly Rio is quite small still and we do wonder if he is going to grow large enough to be shown. He isn't worried though, and likes staying at home with my sons, who spoil him when Roxy is away.

The squirrel has had to be put on one side while I sort out my entries for the Fine Line Artists latest exhibition.
The theme of this show is 'Portals' and it is taking place in June at the Jitterbug Cafe & Roasting Co. in Ontario, Canada.
We have all interpreted 'portal' in a different way which should make for a very interesting exhibition.
For my first one I decided to use portal as being a doorway, in this case a stable door.
Only ever having drawn one horse before I am finding this quite a difficult challenge, however he is looking more horse, and less frog like now.

I am using my Ampersand Pastelbord, it is 30 x 40 cm and is the sand coloured one.
I have used coloured pencil, then Zest it solvent on the background. The solvent really saturates the colour and makes blending very easy.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Living on the Edge

I'm lucky enough to have a quite a large garden which is visited by a wide variety of animals and birds.
We buy bird food by the sackful in the winter to stock our feeders, which as well as attracting many birds also attracts the grey squirrels.
I know many people regard these as pests, but we don't have the native red squirrels in my area so I don't need to feel bad about being fond of my grey's.
One female squirrel who I think is feeding young, is particularly tame and feeds right outside my window. She is easy to photograph and after I had taken several nice shots of her I decided it was time to put pencil to paper.
I intend to call this 'Living on the Edge' partly because she is balanced right on the edge of a feeding dish, high above the ground, and partly because they are in conflict with man throughout some of their range.
I need to add here that the collies are much less fond of the squirrels, and tell me in no uncertain terms that I should let them out to play with them. In turn the squirrels have come to recognise the dogs can't reach them and stand there making rude squirrel gestures.

I have recently received some new paper to try. This is Mellotex which comes in various weights and shades of white.
I ordered the 340gms as I like a fairly heavy paper and this is ultra white.
After my Meerkat I am still in graphite mode so decided to continue to use graphite with the addition of Graphitints.
The graphitints are made by Derwent and are watersoluble coloured graphite. They can be used dry to give a hint of colour, or wet if you want a brighter effect.
They are manufactured in 24 colours but not all of them are lightfast so I restrict my use of them to the ones classed as lightfast.

The size will be about 18 x 14 inches and I am using a HB mechanical pencil and graphitints in cool brown, dark indigo and cloud grey.