Saturday, March 31, 2007

Day out in the Highlands

I'm always moaning on at Steve that he never takes me out at the weekend because he never feels like driving after driving miles during the week for his job, so today he took me to work with him. We went to Kinbrace first, which is a small village - it has a village school that has 3 pupils! Here are some photographs

I liked the look of this house - Steve wasn't too impressed because of the tin roof - but I am a bit fascinated with disused old buildings. I peered in the windows of this one and it was full of old bicycles and hay bales and in what was once the kitchen there were dozens of empty jam jars and an old ketchup bottle!

But what really made me fall in love with it was the garden was right nect to the river which had a lovely shingle beach sloping down to the water. I love rivers - I find them so peaceful and relaxing, I could sit next to a river and watch the world go by all day, especially on a day like today when it was warm and still, heaven!

After Kinbrace we went up to the north coast to Bettyhill and Melvich, then headed on home. After a lovely trip out we arrived home to this:

Yes - the dogs emptied the bin while we were out and threw the contents all over the kitchen and hall floors. Bless 'em. Steve's Boxers did this regularly when they were puppies. I can imagine the conversation between our dogs when they realised we'd been out for longer than usual:
Boys - they've been out for a while, we're bored, what can we do?
Girls - well we used to play with the bin when we were puppies.
Boys - play with the bin? how does that work then?
Girls - well you just tip it over and spread the contents everywhere, eat anything edible and chew up anything that isn't.
Boys - that sounds like fun - lets do it!

Anyway we'd had a lovely day and I couldn't be cross with them - I was just so amazed that they'd done - the little monsters!

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Golden Retriever take 2

I had another go at the Golden Retriever and am pleased with this second attempt. I've made the eyes and nose bigger and blended the colours a bit more. I also really like the expression - I think it's captured the 'smiley' look of a Golden Retriever. It's on Bristol Board paper which is very smooth and creates a lovely effect when I burnish the coloured pencils.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Golden Retriever - something different

I have been working on something a bit different today - I have been thinking for a while about trying a new style of drawing - something a bit cartoon-like and simple and quicker to do. Not instead of my detailed stuff, just as an extra - probably for the ACEO's so I had a try out today on a Golden Retriever picture:

It's only small, just over 4" x 3" and drawn with coloured pencil and a fine pen. I like the outline and I think it's recognisable but the eyes aren't level and both the eyes and the nose are too small, but other than that i'm reasonably pleased with it. By making the eyes and nose bigger I think this will add to the cartoon-like style as well. This time I drew the outline last, but ended up with some pencil lines showing so next time I will draw the pen outline before doing the colour. Watch this space for some more....

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Springer Spaniels Portrait

Today I started on a new commission - 3 Springer Spaniels. I'm looking forward to doing this one as I have a real fondness for Springers - I do have two of my own! It's also going to be nice doing a graphite portrait after working with the coloured pencils for so long. As much as I enjoy working with colour and the effects achieved with coloured pencils, graphite is and probably always will be, my favourite medium.

Here is the first stage of the portrait. It's 12" x 16" on Italian Fabriano 5 hot press 140lb watercolour paper. The composition was suggested by the customer - he wanted to create a triangular shape with the male Springer in the centre slightly higher and the two girls either side.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Great Dane Pet Portrait finished

Firstly, apologies for not posting for over 10 days - I haven't been that lax with my blog since before Christmas when I had Christmas commissions to do. No real excuse this time - except for overtime at work and moving furniture round at home.

But anyway - here's what you've all been waiting for - the finished Pet Portrait of Strath:

And I was playing around taking some close-up photographs and this one was one of my favourites:

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Great Dane update

At last I have a picture of Strath's portrait. Today I finished the background foliage and now have only grass to do. I'm pretty pleased with how the background came together today when I finished the bush in the background. The photo is a little squiffy, the path in the background is actually straight! Here it is:

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A million blades of grass!

Well ok, a million might be an exageration, but that's how many it feels like i've drawn on Strath's portrait today! And i've only done the background grass. It has taken ages to do the grass - it's a large area and there's a minimum of 4 layers of coloured pencil on the brighter areas, and about 7 on the dark shadowed areas. I don't have a picture but will take one tommorrow, when hopefully I will have finished the background foliage and will only have the foreground grass to go.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Tortoiseshell cat in coloured pencil

Today I finished the drawing of Motley, our Tortoiseshell cat that I was drawing in coloured pencil. I have mounted it and framed it today as well, and it is all ready to go in the post for Mum to open on Mother's Day. Here is the finished portrait:

And here is a photograph of it mounted and framed. There are a few reflections as I had to take the photo in the conservatory to get enough light, but it gives an idea of the completed present. It's nice to get a photograph of one of my Pet Portraits framed as I just post them out unmounted and unframed so don't get an opportunity to see my artwork 'finished'.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tortoiseshell cat update

I have spent this afternoon working on my Tortoiseshell cat in coloured pencil, which you may remember is Motley, our old family cat, who I am drawing for my mum's Mother's Day present.

As you can see it's nearly finished and I am really quite please with it. It's about 5" x 7", leaving a border round the edge so I can mount and frame it. This has taken me about 5 hours so far.

And just a completely pointless note - this is my 100th blog post! This is obviously nothing compared to some blogs, but it seems quite a large amount to me. Here's to another 100...

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Website Design

Today I spent some time working on the new website design. It's looking pretty good and i'm quite pleased with it so far. I have done most of the layout design, just need to style the navigation bar, then I will need to amend all my pages with the new navigation and a few bits of different code. My website is handcoded in HTML and CSS just using notepad. It took me a while to learn it but I really enjoyed it and love playing about with the design. I like the fact that I have access to all the code and can change all of it if need be - so much more control.

I use CSS to control the layout and look of the design, so I just need to make one change to the style sheet regarding the layout or a change of colour and the change happens site wide. I still get excited when I have a web page with no layout or colours - just blue links, Times New Roman font and everything all in one long line - and I just add a few little bits of code to the style sheet and press refresh in the browser and everything changes! Some little changes make a huge impact. I find a font change makes a big impact, and changing the background and text colours can also drastically improve a design.

Anyway - enough waffling - maybe one day I'll organise myself and do a little intro to CSS.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Great Dane background progress

I didn't manage to get a camera battery, so had a brainwave and 'borrowed' the one out of Steve's camera! Here is the latest update:

As you can see i've finished the giant flower pot and the bird bath, and just started the first layer of green for the grass in the background.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Search Engine listings

I got a bit excited today, as I did my usual check of Google to see where my website is listed and i'm on page #1 for worldwide and uk only search for 'Pet Portraits'! I have my fingers crossed that it stays there, but I know that sometimes things jump about a bit and I am right at the bottom, so it'll only take upwards movement of one site and i'll be back on page #2. It has given me a bit of a confidence boost though.

On the portrait front - I have been working on the background of Strath the Great Dane's portrait, however, my camera battery has run out so I am unable to take photographs. Hopefully tommorrow i'll be able to get a battery and then show you an update.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Tortoiseshell cat in coloured pencil

I started a new project today, the Mother's Day present I mentioned before. It's a coloured pencil drawing of our old cat Motley for my Mum. Mum and Dad got Motley before me and my Sister were born, so we grew up with her, she was a gorgeous friendly cat. Sadly she had to be put to sleep about 12 years ago. I remember going with Mum to the vets and sitting in the reception crying my eyes out. I thought I would do a drawing of her for my Mum as I wanted to give her a really special present that will mean something personal to her.

I have drawn Motley in coloured pencil, because of her gorgeous tortoiseshell colouring I just couldn't draw her in black and white. Here she is so far:

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Great Dane background

Here is the latest update on the pet portrait of Strath, the Great Dane in coloured pencil. I have drawn out the background and put in the 'underpainting' layer of coloured pencil. This is just a base layer for the darker colours to go on top of, so it's very sketchy at the moment. I will start working on some of the detail tomorrow, but for now, here is so far:

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Pet Portraits Diploma Course

The other thing I will be doing in March is a Pet Portraits Diploma course. This course is a home study course run by the London Art College and covers all aspects of Pet Portraits in a variety of mediums - graphite, coloured pencil, pastel, oil and acrylic. Because I have no formal artistic training and am self taught I feel that I am possibly missing out on some basic fundamentals that those who have been trained in art have been taught. I am happy with my graphite and coloured pencil techniques, but as you know I struggle when it comes to painting, so I am hoping this course will be able to help with this. The tutor of the course is Pet Portrait artist Melanie Phillips and I will get one-to-one guidance on my artwork that is submitted as part of the exercises.

I actually signed up for the course over a year ago, but with one thing and another never got started. Now I have the time to give my full attention to it and the London Art College have kindly given me an extension on the deadline for finished work, so I am getting started. The first section concentrates on the fundamentals of drawing - tone, texture, composition etc and the exercises are still lifes. I have to admit I am finding it hard work to get motivated to draw fruit and plants - it's like doing GCSE homework! Anyway - here is the first drawing for the first set of exercises. Hopefully i will finish the other two for this set in March and be able to send them off for my critique.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

March already

I can't believe it, but it's March already! Where is the year going? It always amazes me how quick time goes, one week whizzes by, then another, and before you know it, there's another month gone, and so many things I wanted to do haven't been done.

There's a few things i've got planned for March - on the portraits front, i've got Strath, the Great Dane to finish, the Greyhound, Rosie, to finish and a commission of 3 Springer Spaniels to get started on. I've also got a little Mother's Day present to do as well so that takes care of the big art projects for the month.

The other big thing is the website. I'm working on a new design for it. I want something a bit more modern and stylish and I've got a nice design for the gallery that won't involve clicking backwards and forwards between pages, so should make viewing easier. There's also a whole new section that i'm going to add. Not saying much about it yet, except it's got the potential to be very big with lots of information, so I'm going to put the bare bones online, then add to it as time goes by.

So there you go - the plans for March. There is one other thing i'll be working on, but I'll tell you about that tommorow.

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