Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Planning For 2011

Maine Coon in graphite, 2.5 x 3.5 inches
It has taken me almost 9 months to feel comfortable with having retired from my day job. For the first few months I felt terribly unsettled which impacted on my art. Even though I now had more time I simply couldn't focus. My blog suffered as my posting became less regular and the finished paintings became fewer as when I reached the half way point I put them to one side and started something else.
I had a couple of occasions when I posted my feelings and thought I was ready to move on, well I wasn't, I soon returned to feeling unsettled.

But at last I have settled in to my new normal and having been planning to really concentrate on my art in 2011. I have made a start in the following areas:-

  • Over the last few weeks I have completed a number of small works on a regular basis, making myself finish what I've started. Initially I found it easier to finish something that I could complete in a couple of days.All of these have been sold thanks to my loyal following of international collectors.
  • I have collected a body of reference material ready to include in a series instruction booklets I plan to release throughout 2011 on drawing animals in coloured pencil.
  • I have decided which shows I am going to apply to attend as an exhibitor in 2011, with scope for additions.
  • I have made a rough plan of how I will break my time up on a daily basis.

I will discuss each of these aims in further posts together with an overall plan for 2011.

On a different note Katherine Tyrrell has published her selected artwork for her Making A Mark Awards 2010. I'm delighted to announce that she has picked 'The Right Side' as one of the entries in the 'Best Portrayal in Nature' category. If you want to vote (all the entries are well deserving of votes) the link is below:-

Making a Mark: Vote for the best artwork on an art blog in 2010.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Season's Greetings

I just want to say thank you to all my readers, I have appreciated all the comments and have even been able to meet some of you over the past year.

I would like to wish you all Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and hope you all have a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2011.
I will be back soon to reveal what I hope to achieve in 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More birds in the snow

The bitterly cold weather continues here in Yorkshire, it was - 11 degrees when the dogs went out first thing this morning. My dogs have big thick coats and like playing in the snow and sliding across their icy run diving on one another. The birds however are having a much less enjoyable time. I make sure they have a supply of food and fresh water which I replace every couple of hours. The reward is that I'm getting some fantastic photo opportunities.
The Nuthatch wasn't in my garden it was in a nearby wood which has several feeding stations available for the birds to visit.
I don't very often get Pied Wagtails in the garden but this one has visited each day for the last couple of weeks.
The squirrel and robin just made me laugh, the robin seemed amazed that the squirrel was taking the food and moved closer and closer to the squirrel, the squirrel however took absolutely no notice and carried on with its meal. I took that photograph in the wood.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tabby Cat in Oil Pastel

'Fluffy' 6 x 6 inches
I was clearing out a cupboard and found my oil pastels so it seemed like a good idea to stop cleaning and start creating.
I had a pack of three 6 x 6 inch Ampersand gessobords so decided to see how oil pastel worked on one.
I put a fairly thick basecoat down first which I then blended, using my finger for larger areas and a colour shaper for the smaller. On top of that I started adding more colour for the details, again using a colour shaper to draw out fine hairs. I kept the end of the shaper damp which I found made it easier to move through the pastel without dragging the colour in uneven strokes.
Once there was a thick layer of oil pastel I scratched into it using the broken end of a paintbrush (Cody was responsible for the demise of my brush) to create even finer hairs and the whiskers.

I was pleasantly surprised with the detail I could achieve.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Racoons Continued

I'm making slow progress on the three racoons, I've covered about a third of the board and worked some of that up to about 90%
I'm enjoying working from my own photograph as it brings back memories of the day we spent in Stanley Park, Vancouver in the summer. It is far easier not to slavishly follow the photograph when I can remember other details about the scene from actually having been there.
I have used reference material from other sources (always with permission) and I will continue to do so but that obviously restricts what can be done with the resulting artwork.
Most juried exhibitions and competitions now have a ruling that states entries need to be based an the artists own reference material, which is why I now have thousands of my own photographs stored on backup drives.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Strathmore Bristol with a Vellum Surface

'Wet Behind the Ears'
6 x 4 inches on Strathmore Bristol
I'm always looking to try out new papers and brought a couple of different pads back from Canada this year.
One of them was a Strathmore 500 series Bristol with a vellum finish. It has a slightly toothier surface than my usual papers but I found it nice to use with coloured pencil. It took many layers, in fact I ran out of patience before the paper ran out of tooth.
Once again it is a creamy colour rather than a true white but that didn't matter with this piece as I covered almost all the paper.
I prefer this paper to Stonehenge which I find too spongy for my liking although I know it is the paper of choice for a lot of coloured pencil artists.
I've now found a supplier of Strathmore paper in the UK, Castle Hill Crafts who offer a mail order sevice:-

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cold Feet

This morning I swept the top of the fence surrounding the decking so that the birds could reach the food without getting cold feet. However most of them decided that the patches of snow were better to stand in than the cleared areas.

The garden birds are eating seeds, nuts and fat in huge amounts but in return they are providing me with endless photo opportunities.
I will definitely be painting birds in the near future.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bliss - Tabby Cat

'Bliss' 3 x 5 inches

The Prime Minister David Cameron has launched a government survey to measure well-being. I'm not convinced it will be money well spent in the current economic climate but it made me think about what happiness means to animals.
I think this cat rubbing its chin against some broken wood would score highly in the survey, it looks pretty happy to me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cat Protection

'Mischief' - donated to Haworth Cat Rescue
The Supreme had its usual parade of fabulous cats.
Long hair, short hair, no hair, spotted, striped, tabby, black, white, blue, all with one thing in common, cared for.
I love looking at the pampered cats but also want to do something for those less fortunate.
In the Spring I donated my original painting of an Abyssinian kitten 'Mischief' for Haworth Cat Rescue to use on one of their Christmas cards, the above is an image of the card itself.
Haworth Cat Rescue are a local charity doing a fantastic job caring for cats that have fallen on hard times. Some are unwanted but some owners are having to part with loved pets because of a change in circumstances. Having visited Haworth a couple of times I know that all the cats staying there find love from the people looking after them.
100% of the proceeds from sales of the card will benefit cats, so in a very small way I feel I am playing my part in helping.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The 2010 Supreme Show

Maine Coon - coloured pencil and acrylic on pastelbord, 14 x 11 inches

Tomorrow I will be setting off at some dreadfully early hour to drive to Birmingham for the GCCF Supreme Show held at the NEC
Once I get everything set up and the panic that I've forgotten something fades I really enjoy the day, especially meeting all the cats.
Hopefully I'll also have a successful day selling. This year I'm offering framed prints at a reasonable price so fingers crossed they do well.
If anyone is going to the show do come and say hello.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Border Terrier Part 2

A little more work on the terrier but I'm getting ready for the Supreme Cat show on Saturday so I'm busy printing.
I've also decided to offer some framed prints so I'm also sorting that out. I'll post a photograph tomorrow when I get everything ready before loading the car.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Going to the Dogs

Border Terrier, coloured pencil on Arches watercolour paper.

This year I added several venues to my sales strategy, one was a Game and Country Fair, one a Craft Fair and one an Art Festival.
I wanted to see what worked best and decide where to target in 2011. I recognise that the current economic climate doesn't help with sales and that exhibiting once at each type of venue isn't really enough to decide what works, but it did give me a taster.
From a sales point of view non was overwhelmingly successful, but from a learning perspective all had something to offer.

There was a common lesson relevant to all three: my portfolio is too cat orientated to generate large print sales away from the cat shows.
The Supreme cat show next weekend is my last exhibition of the year so I have several months to add some diversity to my range of prints.

One avenue I want to explore is returning to the dogs and adding to the breeds I offer as prints.
Gun dogs and working dogs as groups were numerically greatest at the country fair but the one breed I saw the most of was undoubtedly the Border Terrier so that's the one I decided to start with.

I'm not sure if I want to do any more craft fairs but that's another post.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fine Line Artists Fourth International Exhibition

I started this tabby cat quite a long time ago and have decided to finish it in between working on the three racoons.
It's approximately 14 x 18 inches on Arches hot press paper.

Tomorrow is the opening of the International Exhibition of the Fine Line Artists, a group of women artists that I belong to.
The exhibition is being held at the Mission Trails Regional Park Art Gallery and runs from the 6th of November until the 3rd of December.

To read a bigger version of the above visit the Mission Trails web site.

We formed the group several years ago to provide support for the development of our art and the business of being an artist. There are six of us in the group but only five taking part in the exhibition as the sixth member is an international best selling author in the middle of an amazingly busy schedule.

The other artists are:-
Katherine Tyrrell well known for her artists blog Making a Mark
Vivien Blackburn
Nicole Caulfield
Louise Sackett, huge thanks to Louise as she has done all the organizing.

Our subject matter is as diverse as our styles. The exhibition features landscapes, wildlife art, botanical art and still life art relatingto the Mission Trails area of the USA.
All works are for sale.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three Racoons in Acrylic

This is the large (for me) acrylic that I'm working on.
It is about 8 x 16 inches on mdf that I have applied several coats of gesso tinted with acrylic to.
I haven't finished the top corner I just wanted to draw the first racoon in to give myself a reference point.

Last summer while on holiday in Canada I got lots of great reference photographs of racoons. In this one there are three sitting on a log, they couldn't have come up with a better pose.

The local joiners are willing to cut my boards for me which makes it easier to consider sizes that are not readily available. It is also much cheaper than buying prepared board and I'm finding I prefer board to canvas.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Tabby Cat in Coloured Pencil

Another small tabby cat. This one is 5 x 4 coloured pencil and acrylic on stonehenge paper.
I've started a large acrylic and these small pictures give me a break from the intense concentration. I like the lighting on this one so I'm thinking of doing a larger version.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kitten in a Pumpkin

To bid click here.
After painting the Osprey I decided to have a bit of fun and painted this little kitten in the pumpkin.
It's ACEO size, 2.5 x 3.5, coloured pencil and acrylic on pastel paper.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Osprey in Acrylic

Following my workshop this is pure acrylic on illustration board.
Original reference image courtesy Alan D. Wilson, Naturespicsonline.com, used with Alan's permission.

I'm now going to attempt a bigger painting on board, could it be a cat?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Puma Finished

I've finished my puma.
Following the workshop I concentrated on form and darkened the right side.
It's 10 x 8 done in watercolour.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Workshop with Terry Isaac

Demo painted by Terry Isaac

I have had a crazy few days which included a taking a workshop with Canadian Artist Terry Isaac and driving my youngest son back to London for the start of the new University year.

I first heard about the workshop in the summer of 2009 when I met Terry's wife Kathleen at the farmers market in Penticton, Canada.
While admiring Terry's work I mentioned how I would love to attend one of his workshops but living in the UK made it almost impossible.
Imagine my delight when Kathleen said he was proposing to visit the UK in 2010 and hold a couple of workshops. Even better the proposed location of one of them was Harrogate, Yorkshire, which is close to where I live.

She suggested I contact Ken Stroud at Wildscape (The Journal of Wildlife Art and Conservation) to receive updates. I already subscribed to the magazine so the rest as they say is history.

Terry is a wonderful wildlife artist, a great teacher and a really, really nice person.
What made the workshop even better was that without exception all the people were friendly, helpful and willing to share tips and ideas.
I've made a couple of friends that I'll keep in touch with and meet up with again, it's always nice to make contact with fellow artists.

I left after the three days feeling inspired and knowing what I needed to work on to hopefully take my work to the next level.
Although I didn't do any painting (except the background wash) at the workshop I have started an Osprey in acrylic which I'll share later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Puma in Watercolour

The eagle has been put to one side while I painted this puma in watercolour.
It's 8 x 10 on a Stathmore paper I brought back from Canada. I just have the chest to finish and add some whiskers.
The paper is really white which is working well for me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fine Art Christmas Cards

(Please note the black border is only to show the card edges, it is not on the actual card)

I've spent the morning creating Christmas cards from my original artwork.
I'm planning on having a Christmas/Seasonal shop here on my blog and also on my website, from the beginning of October until the end of December.

I'm going to offer a selection of cards and prints for sale and maybe even one or two small originals.
These are the first four images which I'm planning on selling in packs of four.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Grey and White Cat in mixed Media

'Summer's End'
an ACEO by Gayle (2.5 x 3.5 inches)
To bid click here.
I decided to create another aceo today, I like to use this small format to try out ideas for future larger pieces.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Golden Eagle in Watercolour

I decided it was time to get the watercolours out, which I do from time to time.
I took the photograph of this captive Golden Eagle at a game fair last year when it was just about to fly.
This is 10 x 8 on watercolour paper and hopefully will be going to the USA to be included in the joint exhibition.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ring-Tailed Lemur

To bid click here
Coloured pencil and acrylic on black stonehenge paper, 7 x 9 inches
Today was a frustrating day. I was supposed to be having a window replaced with patio doors. So I got up early and made sure that everything was cleared from the work space, got the dogs organised and we moved the cars around to create space on the drive.
The builder turned up twenty minutes late, not too bad you think; at least until he rang the glazier, the doors wouldn't be ready until next Tuesday. Now I'd also organised the internet guy to come and move the cable and a landscape gardener to come later in the week to sort out some decking.
All this needed to be put on hold, (the cable did get moved) which is frustrating to say the least.
It could be worse, the builder could have knocked the wall down before he found out the doors weren't made yet.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Millie the Spaniel continued

I have continued with Millie the Spaniel, now both eyes can watch me :)

I have started adding pages to my blog, the first one will be a showcase for any original artwork I have for sale.
I intend to add a page with details of the materials I use. It might be useful to have all the information in one place rather than spread throughout the blog.
However I've been making the most of the nice weather to tame some areas of the garden. I always find it amazing that anything with thorns grows three times as fast as anything else. Of course my gardening gloves are missing, I have my suspicions that a certain four legged friend, otherwise known as Cody has had something to do with their demise.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cheshire Game and Country Fair

For the next three days I will have a stand in the craft tent at the Cheshire Game and Country Fair.
The fair is held at the Cheshire showground, if you're in the area come and say hello.
I have restarted the Cavalier King Charles spaniel as something didn't look right to me. I was hoping that after my holiday it would look better, but it didn't.
This time it's pastel on pastelbord 11 x 9.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back in The UK

We had a fabulous time in Canada but all good things come to an end and we're now back home. It was nice to see the family, both human and canine and to sleep in my own bed.

I'm feeling jet lagged, although this holiday all the flights were on time and our luggage arrived at the same destination as us.

I got a lot of good reference material, bears, moose, elk etc, but this little ground squirrel holding his grass is one of my favourites.

It appeared a young animal as its attempts to get the stalks of grass were only successful about one in five times. It would leap in the air, grab at the grass and more often than not miss, but when it did succeed boy was it happy.

Back to the art tomorrow, although I'll be at the Cheshire game Fair next Saturday, Sunday and Monday, more details tomorrow.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Pastel Cat Complete.

I made my deadline and hopefully the pastel of Poppy which I've called 'Guilty' will arrive at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery in London tomorrow.
It was collected by the couriers yesterday and together with three more paintings will be included in the 2010 Society of Feline Artists exhibition.
I did a bit of tweaking with the background and removed a couple of the flowers which I decided didn't add anything to the overall impression.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Transition Period

Next week I fly to Canada for almost three weeks so my posting will continue to be infrequent until the beginning of September.
When I took early retirement at the end of March I thought I would spend far more time on my art which would include posting to my blog. I have spent more time on my art but it has mainly been behind the scenes marketing. The number of completed pieces I have produced has not been great and I have missed more deadlines than I ever did when I was juggling working and art.
I've also felt that I had little to post about, and the days I was going to post I've left it until I was too tired.
However on the positive side things I have done are:-
Set the wheels in motion to exhibit at two or three large Agricultural shows in 2011
Joined the members of Living Heritage craftsmen and committed to attend the Cheshire Game Fair with them at the end of August
Created and produced a 2011 calendar which is already selling well
Catalogued my prints and cards and made sure I have sufficient stock to avoid any future marathon printing sessions.
Had one of my images included on the 2010 Society of Feline Artists Brochure (I'll show you in my next post)
I'm treating the last few months as a time of transition and not worrying over what I have or haven't done. It's been hard for me to switch from the daily challenges I had in my job which involved a great deal of responsibility to just managing myself.
But I think I'm getting there, I've a lot of ideas for future drawings and paintings and posts for my blog and am quite excited with how 'Poppy' is turning out.
I've decided to continue sporadic posting until the end of August and then return with a bang in September.
I hope you all have a wonderful Summer (or Winter, depending on where you live)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pastel Cat - Part 2

A couple of people asked if I'd post progress shots, so here's Poppy after todays work.
The colours aren't quite right as I had to take a photograph using a flash. The light is terrible here in Yorkshire as we're in the middle of a deluge. I have never, ever seen it rain as hard as it has been doing on and off over the last few hours.
Apart from Clinton and Roxie the dogs have point blank refused to go outside. Trying to encourage them to go outside I ended up standing in the dog run in the rain while they watched from the Conservatory door refusing to even put a paw out the door.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Return to Pastel, Poppy the Cat

Years ago I mainly used pastel for my art with an occasional foray into graphite. Then I discovered coloured pencil, followed swiftly by acrylic and watercolour and ended up using mixed media for most of my work.
Every so often I have tried pastels again but been frustrated by the lack of detail I could achieve when compared to coloured pencil and acrylic.
However I wanted to do a picture complete with background for my last submission for the Society of Feline Artists exhibition and decided to give pastel a try. The reason being I can work faster in pastel than anything else and for the background I had in mind the ability to blend was ideal.
This time I used the Fisher pastel paper and was delighted with how much detail it was possible to achieve.
Hopefully the background will go as smoothly as the head.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Black Cat ACEO

'Colours of Black'
To bid click here.
I decided it was about time I created another ACEO.

I had fun with this one using various pink, blue and purple coloured pencils to create the black fur.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cat in Graphite

This is one I started a long time ago however the deadline for completion has crept up on me and I need to finish it this week.

I've been busy away from art over the last week.
I visited the Great Yorkshire Show on Tuesday which is the largest agricultural show in the UK and a really great day out.
I want to draw some cows and sheep in the future and there were many stunning specimens to choose from. I also took some very nice photographs of a Sea Eagle who will make an appearance at some stage in a drawing or painting.
Yesterday it was our eldest son's graduation which involved many proud parent moments.
But I'm back at the drawing board, at least for today.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Portrait of a King

"Portrait of a King"
Graphite on mellotex paper.
I made my deadline with a whole night to spare.
I need to deliver this tomorrow, keep your fingers crossed it gets juried in to the exhibition.

Friday, July 02, 2010

How Not to Create a Calendar

The images for my 2011 calendar.

I thought I would share the lessons I've learned during the process of creating my calendar.
Decide before starting how you are going to print your calendar.
I decided after I'd finished creating that it would be more cost effective to have the calendars printed by a company specialising in litho printing. My printer is a large format Epson with 8 colour cartridges more suitable for giclee printing soI decided it would be rather expensive to print calendars using it.
I found a company that offered what I wanted at a good price. However I then had a huge problem as they wanted each page as a print ready Pdf file. Of course I hadn't used Publisher which meant I know very little about the embedded fonts, my colours were in the wrong mode and I hadn't considered having a bleed area. I decided that rather than start again I would print them myself and make sure for my next calendar I'd get it right from the start.

If you are going to bind the calendars yourself make sure you select the equipment suitable for the task.

I already have a plastic comb binder but thought calendars would look better using wire so I ordered one.When it arrived it was tiny, plastic, and only had the capacity to punch 8 x 70gms sheets of paper at a time. What. I was using 170gms paper and 100 calendars would be 1400 sheets (front and back plus 12 sheets) You do the maths and decide how long that would take. So back I went, read the specifications in full and bought a heavy weight model. This one weighs so much I can just move it around but it easily punches the whole calendar excluding the back at one go.

Quality check the first sheet when you change months.

I left the printer happily printing 100 sheets to find when I returned that I'd used a different font for March so they all need reprinting.

But I have now assembled my first calendar and despite all the set backs along the way I'm really pleased with the end result.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2011 Cat Calendar by Gayle

I've been designing a calendar for 2011. Actually I realised I had enough cat images to create two calendars, one in a portrait format, one in a landscape. Putting everything together in the right format has not been easy.
I now need to create a front page and then bind the pages, that sounds like fun.
I'm hoping to have the finished product ready for the cat show I'm having a stand at in a couple of weeks, fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ragdoll Cat in Coloured Pencil Continued

I've started adding the dark background which makes the pale fur really stand out.

I've spent time over the last couple of days getting my garden in shape and I can tell you it's been fighting back. The weeds resist all attempts to remove them while the plants leap out if you look at them and then lie gasping on the surface.
I cleaned the small pond and found I have gained two fish which I've never seen before and have no idea what they are. They are the shape of an orf but black with a little white on the head and slightly barred across the back, about 3 inches long. The only fish I've ever put in that pond are Blue and Golden Orf, Goldfish, Sarasa Comets and long ago I had a couple of Dace.
I think Rob has lost his Sturgeon which lived in the big pond to the Heron, I haven't seen it for a few days and I have seen the Heron visiting in the early mornings.

I'll try to photograph my mystery fish and maybe someone can enlighten me as to what they are. They are much more timid than the other fish though.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ragdoll Cat in Coloured Pencil

This is my latest commision, a stunning Ragdoll cat. I'm drawing her in coloured pencil on Fabriano Artistico Hot Press watercolour paper in extra white. The photograph is a delight to work from, it really is a pleasure of a commission.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Patchings Art Festival 2010

I worked on the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel during my four days exhibiting at the Patchings Art Festival. She is approximately 12 x 10 on Fabriano Artistico Hot Press Watercolour paper in extra white.
My friends Katherine (Making a Mark) and Vivien (Paintings, Prints and Stuff) have each done a review of their impression as visitors to Patchings. Click the links to read what they thought.
I was there as a first time exhibitor and returned home after 5 days, tired, but glad I took part.
I met some old friends and made some new ones, and feel I helped some beginners to coloured pencils get started.
During the first two days a lot of the visitors belonged to art societies and had travelled by coach to the event. Many of these people were attending the workshops, stocking up on their art supplies and watching the artist exhibitors demonstrate. For next year I aim to have expanded my step by step collection as I felt this was an area I could have developed more. Regular readers to my blog will know that I spent so long printing that I simply ran out of time.
The second two days, Saturday and Sunday, there were less art society visitors and I did better with selling my prints.
Although some of the exhibitors had a very successful show there was widespread feeling that there was less money being spent this year. In the current economic climate that came as no surprise.
It was obvious that Patchings is a very well run Festival which is attended by many hundreds of visitors who come back year after year, I hope to do the same.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Amur Tiger Continued

I'm still printing although I did sneak outside for a little while today to enjoy some sunshine.

Progress is still slow but I need to have him finished by the end of the weekend.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Progress is Slow

I am still printing so drawing has been almost non existent, however I am slowly going in the right direction with the tiger.
I wanted an image to put on my 'About Me' brochure for Patchings so I got my son to take a hand rather than a head shot.

I've also been doing a stock take today and have decided to offer a couple of my original cats for sale.
'Black and Gold', to bid click here.
9 x 7 inches coloured pencil on black colourfix paper.