Thursday, 10 December 2009

Tiger WIP1

I have some lovely pictures of tigers I took at Marwell Zoo a few years ago and I have had several false starts in painting them, never happy with the way it was going and given up long before completion. I have kept them and hope one day to rework them but it seems to have given me a bit of a mental block on tigers. However, here I go again and so far I am a little happier with this one probably because I am using my favoured support, Pastelmat. I have done a rough underpainting in CP to highlight the main areas of colour and have started putting in the face detail. The tiger is lapping at the waters edge and I will need to invent a scene. Fortunately being a close up there isn't a lot of background required.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Cat 2

My second cat in coloured pencil on anthracite Pastelmat. I don't think this one is as good as the previous one I did on dark grey pastelmat. I wanted to create more shadow and thought the anthracite would save me some work, which it did to an extent but then I had to work harder to get the light and midtones which I eventually achieved by using Zest-it to smooth out the layers for the underpainting before putting the hair detail on last. I don't love him as much as the first one but he is still quite cute.

Sunday, 29 November 2009


This week I had a new delivery of Pastelmat in various colours and unfortunately the surface of the sheet of Anthracite is a bit suspect. It wasn't until after I cut it that I realised there was a distinct line across it, some strange shading on the reverse and the surface seemed much coarser than the other colours. Anyway having cut it and still in an experimental mode I decided to give it a try. I'm not totally happy with the owl probably because birds are not really my subject, and I may still do some more tweaking. The size is 25x25cm and I used various makes of pencil from the softest to the very hardest and even used some heat from an iron on the reverse to melt the wax in the lightest areas. This caused some cockling so I then had to glue it to a piece of mount board. I have been more impressionistic with the feathers than I would normally do but maybe it will grow on me.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Experimenting with different styles

Two small pictures one very loose and painterly and the other
sharp and full of contrast. Both coloured pencil, the trees are on dark grey pastelmat using Prismacolor and the machinery is Polydraw using Polychromos.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

End of the lull

I can't believe it is so long since I posted to my blog. I have been so busy with the last of the exhibitions, still have 4 pictures in at the RWA Friends, and besides that we have had a new central heating system installed and still have all the other bits to do to finish off. It has been a hard process getting back into painting again. I have had so many false starts, nothing worth showing and last week I started several different projects that may come to something or not but here is the first picture completed since the last post blog and I am really pleased with it so hopefully the dry period is over. I was inspired by a picture of a cat that Margaret Edwards was demonstrating at the NEC Art Materials Live show. I found a suitable royalty free reference photo on Wet Canvas (a big thank you to the photographer) and have been working on this over the last few days. I have used Prismacolor on dk grey Pastelmat size 36x28cm.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ship Ahoy!

Well, a big departure from CP, this one is acrylic, way out of my comfort zone but I so enjoyed doing it I may do another. Inspired by a photo I took in NZ of a boy at the top of Rangitoto, the volcanic island, overlooking Auckland Harbour. I have done my own interpretation of the scene and included the photo for comparison. The scan of the painting hasn't come out particularly well. 5x7in on canvas.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Daisy with sunglasses

Another picture of Daisy on holiday. I loved doing the distorted reflections of sunbathers in the glasses. Size 21x27cm, mainly Prismacolor on Clarefontaine Pastelmat.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Pebbles 2 WIP

I started this second pebble picture while doing the demo at the RBSA last Friday and spent a couple of hours on it today. It has been a nice break from portraits and animals that have to be so exact and it is the sort of picture I can leave for a while and pick up again at a later date. I have used Fabriano Classico with Prismacolor and a touch of Polychromos.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Another Zebra

Following my highly commended award at the UKCPS exhibition in Birmingham for the 'Not all is black and white' I decided to try another zebra. This is from a photo I took at Marwell Zoo last year. The ref. photo was pretty awful as I had zoomed in so much and lost the detail so I used a lot of imagination to get the shading right but I am pleased with the result. Stonehenge black paper with mainly derwent drawing pencils and Prismacolor. Size about 48x32cm. No title yet.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Daisy on holiday

I recently spent a week with Daisy and her family on holiday in Spain and couldn't resist snapping the odd photo when she wasn't looking. She is such a natural poser and very photogenic. I have tried to capture the sunlight reflecting on her face from the white walls around her. This picture is pure colour pencil on Clarefontaine Pastelmat size 22x28cm.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Award for 'Not all is black and white'

This picture of the grazing zebras received Highly Commended at the UKCPS exhibition at the RBSA in Birmingham and I will be demonstrating there on Friday 2nd October. Of the 3 pictures I am exhibiting this is the one I thought least likely to win anything. You just never know.

Shore Birds

This is my take on Jack Vettriano with a 21st century look. I really loved doing this one. I used a wet application of Derwent Inktense pencils for the sky before going over with dry pencil.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Good news and more good news!

My picture of the Mudlarks was awarded the 'Public Vote' at the exhibition for the Somerton Group of Artists and secondly my 'Lemon Slice' has a red dot at the Clevedon Pier & Heritage Trust exhibition. Both were colour pencil.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


Jacob is about 20 months old in this picture. For the face I have used a cross hatching technique to preserve the look of transparent skin that babies have. I have used Prismacolor pencils and Stonehenge paper on the rough side, should have used the smooth side I think. I have also cross hatched the clothes but used a brush to blend the colours together. I am considering putting in a background. He was laying in his pushchair when I took the original photo and the interior was dark grey. The scan has bleached the colours in the face the original has more contrast and shading in the skin tones. Size is 21x16cm.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Mutt Finished

This is it, not going to do anymore, I struggled with the straggly long hairs on the neck, they are not very realistic but I erased them and redrew them so many times I am making the whites look muddy. Next time I will go it at with a slightly different approach. Nevertheless I am quite pleased with the outcome and I added a little colour in the eye and around the mouth which doesn't show up too well on the scan.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Thursday, 27 August 2009


I have had a day of playing with colour pencil techniques and came up with this one. I have used Derwent Inktense wet and Polychromos dry. Size 8x20cm. Flowers are not something I would normally consider painting because I tend to think of botanical work which is not my style but I feel I have captured the essence of daisies on a sunny day.

Monday, 24 August 2009

UKCPS International Exhibition

I have just been informed that these 3 pictures have been accepted in the UKCPS Exhibition this year. I only got one in last year so must be improving. It is being held at the The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 4 Brook Street, Birmingham, B3 1SA from Monday 21st September to Saturday 3rd October.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Ol' Blue Eyes

I felt like a change of direction today so got out my pastel pencils and sanded paper (first time for this combination) and produced this pussycat in about 4 hours. So much quicker than colour pencils. I had reservations about half way through as the fur looked course but I kept going and smudged a bit and it finally came together. Size is 30x23cm and the photo has taken some of the warmth out of the colour.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Parade

The tallest character is only 3cm high and I thought it would make a nice greetings card. Very fiddly and I need a lot more practise but the ideas are flowing.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sharing the Load

I have had an 'art play day' today. I started with getting everything ready for the next exhibition in Somerton, this always takes longer than I envisage. Handing in day is next Monday so I am well in advance. I have been getting ideas together for some silouhettes, trying different techniques in colour pencil and finally produced this little drawing on black stonehenge paper 14x14cm. It took about 20 minutes so nothing like the detail I normally do but quite effective and suitable for a card.

Friday, 7 August 2009


This was a fun one to do and is quite small, 12x18cm so didn't take too long especially as I didn't have to be too exact. This picture was inspired by a photo I took in Bratislava. I liked the white rag blowing in the window against the blue sky.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


I have been asked to produce some pictures with step-by-step instuctions for the UKCPS to sell on their stall at Art Materials Live, NEC, Birmingham from 5-8 November to raise much needed funds. I have targetted absolute beginners to coloured pencil and hope these pictures will inspire some to have a go. The step by step packs should be available for purchase from the UKCPS in the next couple of months.
'My Red Shoes' is a new idea and 'My Teddy' is inspired by a pen and wash I did a few months ago. I used Faber Castel Polychromos on Fabriano Classico. The little girl sits about 13cm high and the boy 17cm so they will both fit nicely on an A4 sheet.

Friday, 31 July 2009


I think this is just about finished now, the hat wasn't as much of a challenge as I first thought, I kept a quite simple with a few light and dark shaded areas in the line of the weave then put more detail in some places.

Max WIP 2

Getting there, slow but sure. Whilst I have been working on the background and shirt I am continually adjusting the face and I have toned down the lips. The photo makes him look more rosy cheeked than the painting and I may yet tone this down. The straw hat is going to be a challenge.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Max WIP1

This is a picture of my great nephew on pale grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat in coloured pencil, size 23x17cm. It has taken me 5 hours today to get this far and there are a couple of WIP taken on the way.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Mixed Media

A couple of pictures I have done today, just felt like doing something different, quick & easy.
The ladies are from my imagination and the boy from my sketchbook. I started off with a fine waterproof pen outline. An even wash of watercolour and the detail and shading put in with coloured pencil.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Miniature Workshop

Yesterday I attended a workshop by Aza Adlam on the techiniques of miniature painting. It took me 2 hours or more to do the egg and over 3 hours for the apple and both smaller than a 20p piece. Watercolor on Ivorine painted under a magnifying glass. Wow, what patience the miniaturists must have. All those dots that are difficult to see with the naked eye but the camera has certainly found them. Not sure it is for me but Aza is a good tutor and I really enjoyed the challenge. It was surprisingly relaxing to do once you got in to the swing of it. I am going to try Aza's Silhouttes in Miniature workshop next, I think I will like that better as it is a bit quicker.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Maisie Bear

Such a terribly gloomy day here in Somerset, the light not good enough to paint so started a new project. Yesterday I chanced upon a video on You Tube showing how to do needle felting so I have spent 5 hours today making this sweet little teddy, 8cm high sitting down. The crocheted hat I made a few weeks ago and it fitted just perfectly.

Monday, 20 July 2009

On the Beach - finished

Four hours work on this today and it is just about finished but I will may give it more contrast when I have lived with it for a day or two. The photo is not a particulary good representation and it is too big for my scanner unless I stitch it together. 36x24cm. I'm calling it 'Mudlarks'. It was fun to do and the sea was easier than I expected.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

On the Beach WIP7

Some more groynes have been added showing the dry wood. The composition is more circular than triangular but I feel it still works. Hoping to finish this in the next hit.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

On the beach WIP6

I started with the groynes on the right as these were the least complicated and then decided to put some sea around them to see if they looked OK. I prefer to work from top right to bottom left so my hand doesn't rest on the finished work but there are exceptions and I will cover this with paper as I move along. I love doing the sand and pebbles. It is so easy to do a few twiddles and ovals to make stone shapes with bits of gravel in between. Although I have a reference photo I'm making the sea a little rougher than it actually was on the day. The distance sea needs some more work and I will probably take it a little higher on the horizon then add a touch of sky. This stage has taken me about 3 hours. The Fabriano Artisco is a cream colour paper {the photo has bleached it out} and it is hard to get the foam looking white. I am working entirely with Polychromos pencils but will add some aquarelle white at the end for more contrast and more spray.

Old Mill Gallery, Worton.

The South West Pencil Artists had their first exhibition at the Old Mill Gallery, Worton, Wiltshire last night. The Gallery has lots of atmosphere and good lighting. There are about 100 pictures from 20 artists in a wide range of subjects; botanical, fur and feathers, landscapes, portraits, buildings and more. Prices to suit a range of pockets. It is on today and Sunday and definitely worth a visit. There is also a wide range of greetings cards by the artists and some lovely jewellry for sale too. The village has an open garden weekend. A big thank you to those who arranged it so beautifully, I'm sure it will be a success and the first of many.

On the beach WIP5

The three paddlers. These only took about 30 minutes as I haven't given them much detail and played down the contrast to give them some distance. I made need to add more contrast once the sea is completed but for now I am happy with the way they look.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

On the beach WIP3

....the third little chap is finished and while I am working on the fourth I can now imagine the full picture. So I have taken a break from painting while I play around with my images in Photoshop to see if it works. I want to put some children paddling in the sea in the background and the wooden groynes coming across the diagonal from bottom left. This should create a pleasing triangle. The beach will be a mixture of sand and pebbles. At this stage I'm not sure whether to include a sky, if I do I will probably keep the horizon line high.

On the beach WIP2

Another little chap added although I haven't finished his legs yet as I ran out of pale pink pencil. These are actually the same boy but I have changed the colouring and modified the clothes a little. I haven't really planned this picture just doing it on the run and adding bits as I go along. It was the only way I could get started.

Monday, 13 July 2009

On the beach WIP

Two weeks away in the caravan and a week getting forms filled and pictures labelled for forthcoming exhibtions and I feel like I am starting from scratch with my art. I tried several things today to get me in art mode and finally I got hooked with this little chap.

Whilst walking along one of the promenades in Suffolk I spotted some children and teachers on a school outing dressed in Victorian clothes. Unfortunately I had no sketch book with me so a few distant shots with the camera was all I could manage. The photos weren't brilliant as unknowingly I had the camera on ISO1600 AGH!!!! Nevertheless I had a few outlines to work from and hope to make this into a beach scene. This little chap is 13cm high. Coloured pencil on Fabriano Artistico.

Monday, 22 June 2009

More miniature crafts

Some more fun pieces...the basket is wire interwoven with waxed linen thread then painted with acrylic paint with added gloss medium. The straw bits are actually hay from the local field and the eggs are made with flesh coloured Fimo.
The hats are crochet and the hat stands made with cocktail sticks and wooden beads sawn in half..this was the most difficult as the wood was so hard. I put a cocktail stick through the hole and supported it in Blu-tak to give me something to grip. I glued on a card base to cover the rough wood and some linen thread to cover the join. Gold acrylic paint to finish.
The market stall is large BBQ sticks sawn to length. The joints are glued and wound with waxed thread. The table is two lengths of flat beading from the DIY shop, cut in half and distressed to make 4 planks, glued to the support and then painted with burnt umber acrylic. The canopy is from a small piece of patchwork fabric cut and sewn to fit.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Green spectacles Finished

I feel this one is just about finished I could do some more work on the hair and beard
but I don't want to put too much fine detail to detract from the face itself.