Happy New Year!

This was my Christmas creation for this year sent to everyone on my email list, inspired by the unseasonably warm weather and the appearance of daffs in the beds around my studio, and sung to the tune of...


Rudolph the red nosed reindeer

Had his share of Christmas chills

This year with global warming

He's even sprouting daffodils!


Wishing you a healthy, prosperous and creative 2016!

Pastel Portrait of Bingo

A very cute pose of a beloved dog called Bingo, sitting up for his owner. His portrait needs to be ready so he can join them again for Christmas as he recently passed away. He already has a place reserved for him on a pillar and the final framed size needs to be 30 x 40cm, which means the portrait size is in between A4 and A3. I chose a warm neutral brown Ingres Pastel Paper and sketched the main proportions of the head and body. I started to put in the highlighted areas with my soft pastels and then decided to work with the shadows to create the shape of the fur. Because of the texture of Bingo's fur I chose to use pastel pencils for the majority of the portrait, using each layer of colour to be blended by the tip of my pencil rather than my finger or a blending stick. For the finishing touches I sharpened my pastel pencils and emphasized the outline with flicking out stray hairs and making sure the overall portrait balanced tonally and had the right amount of texture, also that I captured that little spark of personality!

Pastel Portrait of Saffy the Siamese

Another Christmas portrait from a past customer is being worked on in my studio. This is Saffy - a sleek Siamese with a wry smile. I chose a blue/grey midtone Murano pastel paper to sketch her onto before choosing the lighter tones to apply and blend as a base coat. Then I applied the darks and golden colours and pushed the pastel into the tooth of the paper which has a honeycomb texture if left unblended. Next I worked on the ears and the main part of the face adding in some subtle colours and tones. With these blended using a silicone tipped shaper I started work on the texture of the coat. I switched to pastel pencils as it's a relatively small A4 size portrait, and flicked in greys, creams, whites and yellows into the lighter areas. These were blended using the lighter pencils so the marks remain. I put some golden colours into the face and added some darks on top. Finally I have gone darker on the face as the other photos show her slightly older and this is how the owner wanted to remember her. I have also widened her eyes so you get transfixed by her blue stare and added whiskers!

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Portrait of Poppy

Christmas portraits are underway and this is one of a lovely dog called Poppy who is being painted in acrylics. The process so far shows how I first applied a ground of yellow ochre to underpin the painting with a warm colour before drawing Poppy onto the canvas board. I have placed her in a fictitious park with a ball at her feet as she looks eager to play in the original photograph. Next I painted green onto the background to establish the balance. When that was dry the light and shadow areas were marked out in Poppy's coat along with the shadows in the background scenery. I am painting in the details now and building up glazes within the coat to create thick fur and depth. Keep watching - this is only halfway through...!

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Family Cat Portraits

My mum is celebrating a big birthday this month so I decided to surprise her with a portrait of her British Blue cat, Jeeves. I also managed to finish a pastel portrait of my black cat and my sister's British Blue cat, Dexter, for her birthday. So here we have a trio of family cats!

Pastel Portrait of Lady

This is an A4 size pastel commission of the face of an old dog called Lady which I have been working on and is now complete. I had two photos to work from and the colour varies so I'm hoping I've captured her!

Confessions of a Holiday Painter

Whenever I go on holiday I always pack art materials - the biggest pad of paper my suitcase will take, some watercolours or pastels, drawing pens, pencils, a rubber, masking fluid, tape, a selection of brushes, you name it, I'll use up my baggage allowance with creative paraphernalia and if I'm not quite up to the limit I'll chuck a couple of art books in too for added inspiration. My confession is that I often return home with at least a third of my suitcase unworn and unread and the art materials untouched! However, this time, I decided rather than setting myself the onerous task of creating a finished masterpiece by lunchtime each day (preferably framed and packaged for shipping as well), I would just try to do a doodle each day - a quick sketch of a landscape, a detail in my surroundings, something quick, in pen & ink, just as my great-grandfather did on his travels. I have plenty of photos to inspire me now I am home but these are the doodles from my sketchbook and a flower I painted as a gift for our friends Ioanna and Antoniou in Greece as it was picked for me from their garden...