Friday, November 22, 2013

The Supreme Cat Show - 23rd November 2013

Work in Progress - Jaguar in Graphite Pencil

I know it's been a long, long time since I updated my blog and I'm not promising that I'll write more frequently this year but I do have things to share in 2014.

I'm working on my next techniques in coloured pencil booklet which should be available before the year end. It will be 'How to draw a Brown Hare' in coloured pencil. However it is  basically the same tutorial that appeared in the November issue of Leisure Painter magazine so if you bought the magazine it's probably not worth buying the booklet as you will already have most of the material.

I will have a stand at The Supreme Cat show which is being held tomorrow at the NEC, Birmingham, UK. It will be my last show until next spring so if you're visiting or exhibiting please come and say hello.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Coloured Pencil Techniques in Leisure Painter Magazine

 The October issue of Leisure Painter magazine which is currently on sale includes my article on coloured pencil techniques. The article includes a little about the materials I use, a small demonstration on drawing fur and a section on troubleshooting. I'll be uploading a file of this first article in PDF format to my website soon.

The November issue of Leisure Painter which will shortly be on sale includes a step by step demonstration of how to draw the hare shown above. It also highlights the struggle I had to take the reference photograph.

I'll be writing regularly for Leisure Painter throughout 2014.

If you draw or paint animals the October issue also includes the first part of a tutorial on drawing an Elephant in pastel by Bob Elcock and painting a miniature in watercolour of a lowland gorilla by Tracy Hall. 

My other news is that I am now the tutor for the Pet Portrait Diploma course run by the London Art College.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

'Big Red' is Selected for the Gallery Prize at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery

'Big Red'

While on holiday in Canada I found out that my painting Big Red had been selected by the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery to receive their gallery prize for best in show. The painting is one of four I am currently exhibiting as part of The Society of Feline Artists annual exhibition in London.

Having recharged my batteries while on holiday I'm really looking forward to getting back to painting. I have hundreds of new reference photographs to choose from including both grizzly and black bear, elk, small mammals and many birds. I also took many photographs of trees, rocks, streams etc which will come in very useful.

I was lucky enough to see a humpback whale from the ferry when crossing back to Vancouver from Vancouver island, that was a very special couple of minutes.

I'll be exhibiting at Harrogate Autumn Flower Show later this week, probably still suffering from jet lag!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Early Summer Catch Up

Coloured Pencil and Acrylic on black pastel paper.

I hadn't realised I'd been away from my blog for over a month but I have so here's a catch up of what I've been doing.

Patching was successful as I got commissioned to do some work. I don't want to share the details just yet but all will be revealed later in the year.

I don't accept many commissions so I'm now booked up for the rest of the year and have my first one booked for 2014. I'm looking forward to that one as it's a pencil drawing of a game bird.

I've been accepted as a member of the Association of Animal Artists (AAA) and hope to be exhibiting at their Animals in Art Exhibition. This exhibition will be held from 27th July to th 15th September 2013 at Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington, Lancashire, UK.

I've been on several reference gathering trips for both wild and captive animals including visiting Chester Zoo to photograph their delightful tiger cubs.

I've spent more time gardening than painting over the last few days making the most of the sunshine.

I'll try not to leave it so long next time :)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Patchings Festival Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th June 2013

Dipper on the River Wharf - Acrylic on Board

I've done the printing, wrapping and bagging there's just the car to load and then set off for Patchings Festival.
Today is set up day and for once the weather appears to be behaving, it's not sunny here in Yorkshire but it isn't raining or windy which is a vast improvement on past years.

The festival takes places at Calverton, Nottinghamshire, UK and runs from Thursday 6th June 2013 - Sunday 9th June 2013, 10.00 to 5.00 Thursday to Saturday, 10.00 to 4.30 Sunday.

If you visit the festival come and say hello, it's always nice to meet old friends and make new ones.

I'm not sure what I'll be working on, probably the pastel fox or two raccoons in coloured pencil.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hare Today Gone Tomorrow


Pastel on Velour Paper

I finally finished the hare I'd been working on at Harrogate Spring Flower Show and finalised the limited edition prints.

While working on this image I frequently thought about my dad because one of his little saying was 'hare today, gone tomorrow'. Although he's been dead for over eighteen years I can still hear him saying it.

Having seen the media footage of the aftermath of the Oklahoma hurricane it suddenly struck me how terribly apt the saying was, we are indeed here today and gone tomorrow. It  made me realise just how important it is to live for today, appreciate what I have and not long for tomorrow.

Limited edition giclee prints of 'Watching' are available direct from me, I will update my website later today.
Edition limited to 350, produced on 100% cotton fine art paper.
Image size approximately 13.5 x 9.5 inches, the print is mounted/matted in white, mounted/matted size 16 x 20.

** Now available direct from my website**

If you'd like any further information please email me:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sepia Cat Completed

'Hurry By'
Limited Edition Print
Mounted/Matted in white to 16 x 20 inches

I've finally finished the sepia cat and it's available as a limited edition giclee print. 
I decided to add a ladybird in colour to create another focal point. I called it Hurry By' because the cat hasn't yet spotted it but it could at any moment.
If you're interested in buying a print please email me and I can supply all the details,

I thoroughly enjoyed Harrogate Spring Flower Show with Made in Yorkshire, the first show of the year is always a great social occasion. Sales were up on the same show last year so that's a step in the right direction. I was working on a pastel hare which should be finished in the next couple of days, it seemed to be popular with the visitors.

I have more or less finished this years cat images for this years SOFA (Society of Feline Artists) exhibition so I'll be back to concentrating on wildlife.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monochrome Cat

I've decided to try and be early completing my images for this years Society of Feline Artists exhibition.
I'm drawing this one using a Van Dyck Brown polychromos coloured pencil which is slightly warmer than sepia.
The image will be 16 x 12 and I'm using an Arches board which I'm finding good to work on.

Next week I'll have a stand at Harrogate Spring Flower Show so keep your fingers crossed that the weather is better than it was last year.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Exhibiting - 10 Things Artists Hate to Hear

My newest painting, 'Irish Setter'
Most of the people I meet at exhibitions are a pleasure to talk to but there are others who either intentionally or not are at the best unthinking, at the worst rude.
I usually laugh the comments off as all exhibitors have had their share of 'those' people but a friend of mine has decided not to exhibit any more as she found the comments affected how she viewed her art.

So here are 10 of the comments artists hate to hear:-

  1. 'How much', said in a shocked voice, swiftly followed by John, Sue or Bob only charges a fraction of that, I wouldn't like to pay that much.
  2. 'I wouldn't pay that much' you can buy paintings for £10 at .......
  3.  I like the ones painted by the artist over there better.
  4.  Why do you paint cats they're horrible animals (insert animal of choice for cat, I've had the same comment for dogs, horses, birds etc)
  5.  My friend, wife, sister etc is really good, said while looking at your art then walking away with a slight shake of the head.
  6.  Why would anyone want to hang a painting of an animal on their wall.
  7.  If I had the time I could paint like you
  8. Are you using crayons, I used to use those at school . (if I'm using coloured pencils)
  9. It's like painting by numbers
  10.  How long has it taken to paint that (perfectly reasonable question) but after telling them 100 plus hours they follow it up with, it only takes John, Sue or Bob 10 hours and they're really good.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Exhibitions - The Hanging Dilemma

So far this year I've entered five exhibitions/shows and at four of them I'll have my own stand.

Each year I try to improve on my display so that I show my work to the best possible advantage.
In previous years I've used velcro to attach prints to the exhibition panels. This works well but because of the weight it is only possible to display mounted/matted not framed prints. Even so if the marquee is on grass the damp sometimes causes prints to fall off, usually at night which means the paper buckles by the time they're rescued in the morning.

This year I decided to look for a hanging system so that I can display framed prints and originals, this didn't turn out to be quite as easy as I thought.
I had to make sure that whatever system I went for didn't damage the exhibition panels and obviously I couldn't fix to the wall or ceiling. My initial searches only turned up fixed systems which were either wall or ceiling mounted. It was only when I had a lightbulb moment and entered 'exhibition picture hanging'into the search engine that I started to find what I was looking for.

I settled on using who were very helpful in sorting out what I needed. This was just as well because I was totally confused when I initially looked at what was available.

I did need to email the exhibition organisers to ask the width of the panels as the screen hooks are made to measure. I also needed to weigh a picture and calculate a total weight per cord.

When everything arrives I'll have a practice run and post some pictures just in case anyone else has the same dilemma.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Borzoi - A Fact You Might Not Know

'William' the Borzoi
The reference photograph I used for William was kindly provided by his owner after I expressed a desire to paint him.
I met William at a show a couple of years ago and was impressed by his sweet nature, his elegance and his dignity so when his owner sent me some photographs of him I put him on my 'to do' list. It's taken me a long time but he's finally finished. The original painting is mixed media on hot press watercolour paper.

Before I draw or paint any animal I like to find out about them. I study the anatomy, coat, features etc but I also look for any interesting facts. This brings me to the fact you might not know about the borzoi.
They rank 75th in Stanley Coren's book The Intelligence of Dogs and fall into the category Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience Intelligence.
The classification is partly based on understanding of new commands and the percentage of times they obey a command first time.
Reading further borzois would appear to be selective learners who become easily bored and can be stubborn if not motivated. I'm not sure that I would class that as unintelligent!

No one will be surprised that the border collie comes out top of the list as the brightest dog.
For anyone interested in the full list this is the article :-The Intelligence of Dogs

Limited edition prints of William are available from my website
 'William' Limited Edition Giclee Print
or you can contact me direct

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dipper in Acrylic on Board

This is about a third of my next painting, the final size will be 8 x 16 inches and it's acrylic on board.

The river Wharfe which is not far from home has a healthy resident population of dippers so I've managed to take quite a few photographs of them over the years.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Amur Leopard - Mixed Media

'Vantage Point - Amur Leopard'
16.5 x 11.5 inches

This is the first piece of completed artwork for 2013, an Amur Leopard in mixed media. It is mainly watercolour with some of the details added in coloured pencil on Arches hot pressed watercolour paper.

The leopard on my reference photograph was lying on a shelf so I substituted a rock from another of my reference photographs.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Photographic Reference of 2013 Week 2

I've been suffering from flu so didn't really have anything to post last weekend as I stayed in and felt sorry for myself.

This week the snow was the major event and as my car doesn't manage snow very well it remained on the drive all week and I
walked to the office a couple of times.
I can walk virtually all the way through country lanes which were very pretty but really icy.

A pied wagtail visits the garden every now and then and it became a daily visitor last week arriving mid morning and staying around for an hour or two.
This afternoon we went for a drive to see if there were any red kites about. I was lucky enough to spot one sat in a tree so I took lots of photographs and then caught it just as it flew away.
At one point we had seven of them flying above the car.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Photographic Record of 2013

I want to keep a photograph record of 2013, updating every weekend.

The first photograph is Clinton in Scotland. He forgot his arthritis when he saw the snow. He doesn't look bad for his age, he's 11 in March.

We had a day of sunshine and showers at the beginning of the year, the second photograph is one of many rainbows that appeared that day.

The third photograph is the lane I walk down most days. I took the photograph this morning and intend to take the same view several times over the year so that I can record the changes.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

New Year New Aims for 2013

Moon over Carrbridge, Scotland 31/12/12
I hope you all have a happy, peaceful and successful 2013.

I've had some time to reflect on the old year and look forward to 2013 over the last few days, especially when taking the dogs for their last outing of the day. When in Scotland we take them into a long valley well away from any habitation or lights so that on clear nights the moon and stars make a spectacular display. While they wandered about on New Years Eve I thought about my aims for 2013.

Having had a quick look back to my aims for 2012 I didn't achieve most of them. There were various real life reasons for missing some but I have to admit that a good deal of apathy also crept in and I spent a lot of time thinking rather than doing. So I'm going to move some of them to become this years aims and some I'll drop for now.

Entering Competitions/Exhibitions
 I'm taking the pressure off this one, if I have something suitable I'll enter, if not then I'm not going to rush to produce work that might be less than my best.

Continue to develop the tuition side of my business by:-
Adding to my 'Coloured Pencil Technique' guides, the next ones available will be wolf, snow leopard and tiger, although I'm not sure which will be first. If possible I intend to make these available as ebooks for people to view on their computers, iPads etc.

I almost have the snow leopard ready to print so I'm going to make producing guides my main tuition aim.
In the second half of the year I will look at giving individual tuition either online or in a classroom situation.

Make my blog more interesting by widening the topics discussed.I am aware that my blog has become a place for me to share new artwork. That's fine and was one of my aims but as I've mainly drawn cats for the last few years I feel it's got predictable and boring.
I want to add interest by:-

  • Highlighting competitions and news which might be of interest to animal/wildlife artists.
  • Creating mini tutorials on different subjects.
  • Posting more about the dogs and my travels in search of reference material.
  • Talking more about why I choose to photograph or paint a particular animal or bird.
  • Having a guest artist spot every month (if possible).
  • Discussing more marketing topics which might be useful to others.
  • Not posting if I've nothing useful to say, I see this as important to maintain interest both for me and my readers
Those were my aims for 2012 and will become my aims for 2013 as I feel I didn't move forward with any of them except not posting if I've nothing useful to say which meant I posted much less in 2012.

Apart from the above I want to produce a body of new work and spend more time on marketing.