Sunday, November 30, 2008

North West Bird Watching Festival

I took time out from painting today to visit the North West Bird Watching Festival at Martin Mere.
The Reserve opened early this weekend and I was there by just after 9.00am. The weather was freezing, around -2 degrees, but lovely and sunny. I took lots of photographs of the frost edging everything in white. I also took lots of swans, geese and ducks with stunning reflections. My favourite photograph for today however is this little Goldcrest. I had to wait quite a long time to get this shot by which time my hands were so cold I had difficulty operating the camera.

After taking the photograph I had to go inside for reviving coffee and a browse around all the goodies on sale.
I took out a subscription to Birds Illustrated which I've been meaning to do for quite a long time. It is a subscription only magazine and has articles of bird art/artists in every issue. I got 4 free copies with my subscription, so I'm going to go and get another coffee and settle down for a long read.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Red Deer in Mixed Media

I want some examples of British wildlife for my portfolio so I pulled this Red Deer Stag from the WIP file.
I didn't get much done as I'm in the middle of a large pastel commission, but I did paint the sky.

This is an old Stag that I photographed in Scotland last New Years Day. His whole attitude was one of patient endurance. I wonder if he made it through the winter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Watercolour Cat

I can't show any of the commissions I'm working on until after Christmas as they are all surprises for the owners.
I have however done a little bit more work on my watercolour cat.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snow Leopard Finished

I worked on this all day yesterday and got him finished. Hopefully he will be auctioned on behalf of the Snow Leopard Trust, more details in a couple of days.

I know the paw is slightly foreshortened, but I didn't want to change it, as it gave the effect I was looking for. These magnificent animals have such huge paws, an adaptation for their natural habitat.

Now back to my Christmas commissions.

The Supreme Cat Show Experience

We had to get up at 4.00am to be sure of arriving at the NEC in time to set up. Only the younger dogs bothered moving at that time in the morning and even they only went out briefly before going back to sleep.
The only possible benefit I could find in leaving my warm bed at such an hour, was the almost traffic free M1.

Sales were almost non existent in the morning so I wandered about taking photographs. Thank you to all the owners who got their cats out of their pens for me to get up close and personal with.
I did meet a lovely lady who lives close to my home and has invited me to go and photograph all her cats in their own surroundings. I will be arranging that visit over the next couple of weeks and can't wait for the chance to add some different breeds to my portfolio.
Around lunch time the sales started and I ended up taking more than last year. Card sales were down but print sales were definitely up.
I think my new display stand helped as customers could pick the prints up for a closer look.
I had a new range of smaller, less expensive prints available but it was the larger ones that sold.

The highlight of the day came when the owner of the cat I'm in the middle of painting recognised it was her cat immediately, so did several family members and friends, including a little boy. This wasn't a commission, I had just been allowed to use the photograph. However the owner liked the painting so much she is going to buy it when finished.

I had been wondering if I should book a stand next year, but after having a fabulous afternoon, all being well in 2009 I will be back.
Now back to the Snow Leopard, I've got an extension to the deadline until this afternoon!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snow Leopard at the Supreme Cat Show

Well only this one, at least I hope so.

In order to meet my deadline I'm going to take this to the Supreme Cat Show which is being held at the NEC tomorrow. I can work on him in between running my stand and walking round to look at all the fabulous felines who will be on show.
It will be a very early start as I need to be there for round about 7.00am to set up my stand, so I will not get a lot more done today. I'm going to have a dress rehersal later as I have bought a new display stand and had a new sign printed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Snow Leopard in Coloured Pencil

I realised that I was not going to finish the large Snow Leopard painting in time for the weekend, which is my deadline. I've started another one which is smaller and on blue colourfix which I find slightly faster to work on.
It will be about 14 x 12 depending how much of his body I draw.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Demonstrating for the UKCPS at Art Materials Live

I spent Thursday and Saturday helping the UKCPS with their stand at the Art Materials Live show which is held at the NEC. I was demonstrating the use of coloured pencils on various surfaces.
I was joined by several other demonstrators all working with coloured pencil but producing very different effects. I have to mention both Peter Woof and Suzy Herbert as I spent more time with them , I absolutely loved the pieces they were working on.
I think the demonstrating role was far easier than running the workshop, the members there worked non stop helping people have a go using coloured pencils. Hopefully those people will go on to become members of the UKCPS and create art using coloured pencils.
Once again I lost count of the number of people who were astonished at the effects you can achieve with a "crayon"
A special mention for Rachel who I never saw stop throughout the whole time I was there, and she was attending for the whole four days.
Hello to all the people who stopped to talk to me, I really enjoyed meeting you all.
Thursday was a major disaster for me as my husband managed to spill a full cup of coffee over the commission I was working on. Not only did the pristine white background suffer, so did my legs, feet and bag. I'd spent around 10 hours on the work up to the coffee incident so I was ever so slightly upset. However my husband was so sorry that he bought me the entire set of Luminance pencils so I recovered a little after that.

I thought that on the whole there were slightly less people visiting than last year which some of the traders agreed with. However they felt that individuals were spending more per head than last year so didn't think takings would be down.
I hope to be helping again next year as I really enjoy it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hitting or Missing Deadlines

Next year I want to make sure that I meet all my deadlines, or make a conscious decision not to enter exhibitions/competitions. Although I'm reasonably well organized I did end up missing one or two things I'd wanted to try.
So I've bought an academic planner that started in September and runs all through 2009. I've entered all the dates that I already know. I've split them into deadlines for sending images for catalogues and absolute final deadlines. I've also entered closing dates for dog shows if I know them. It's amazing how many dates are already filled. Now I just need to remember where I've put the planner.

I need to finish my Snow Leopard so I got it out of my portfolio and painted a background in acrylic. This is quite large for me around 24 x 20 on heavyweight Arches Hot Press paper.

The cat on pastelbord is half finished probably to the point I want to leave it for working on at the NEC.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Maine Coon Cat on Pastelbord

I've had to put everything to one side to try to paint a couple of new breeds for the Supreme.

This is the first, a Maine Coon cat who is an Imperial Grand Premier. I met him walking round a show in his harness looking down his nose at the other cats as he strolled by their pens.

He is a stunning cat and I hope I can do him justice.

I wanted to use pastelbord so that I can take it to the NEC next week. Last year people seemed interested in using coloured pencil on board.

The background is done in neocolor and needs a little more work to smooth it out.

Size 12 x 16 and I'm using the sand coloured Ampersand Pastelbord.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More Watercolour Cat

I've been carrying on with my watercolour cat, more layers to do but I can see where I'm going now.
I'm also trying to do a couple more cat breeds to offer as prints at the Supreme Cat Show, time is running out though.
I will be at the NEC on the 13th and 15th demonstrating for the UK Coloured Pencil Society and then back there on the 22nd for the Supreme. If you are visiting either event come and say hello.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Coloured Pencil cat and Birds

I've decided to try to exhibit more often next year and a couple of places I'm looking at would require more bird art.
So yesterday we went to Martin Mere which is about an hours drive from us. It is run by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and is a fantastic place to visit. At this time of year it provides a roost for thousands of geese and swans. Yesterday there were around 10,000 Pink Footed Geese arriving to roost from early afternoon.

I got some nice photographs of various species of ducks, geese and swans with beautiful reflections as the sun was quite bright.

We also watched several stoats darting about in the grass, but they were far too fast for my photography skills.

At home I am lucky enough to have quite a few different species visit my feeders. This afternoon however was exceptional. I was trying to get some shots of a flock of Goldfinch which visit every day when I spotted a Goldcrest on the waterfall right in front of the window. As it flew away my husband spotted a Treecreeper on one of the Silver Birch Trees. Five minutes after that flew away we got a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the nuts.

I've seen a handful of Goldcrests in the garden over the 20 years we've lived here but it was only the third time I've seen a Treecreeper actually in the garden. The Woodpecker used to be a regular visitor but I hadn't seen it for a couple of years.

The next time I'm at home all day I'm going to set my camera up on the tripod which will help with the poor light later in the day.

Moving from birds to cats. This is the study I did for the watercolour cat I'm painting, 2.5 x 3.5, coloured pencil on Arches Hot Press.

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