Category Archives: Animals

Visiting horses at the World Horse Welfare Centre

Under an azure blue sky with House Martins darting darting here and there in the late summer warmth, I spent the morning at the World Horse Welfare Centre at Snetterton in Norfolk.  http://www,worldhorsewelfare.org

 

Horses, ponies and donkeys come here when in need.  They are rescued, cared for and rehomed after rehabilitation.  The work of the organisation, whose president is the Princess Royal, can range from giving advice to owners through to court cases for cruelty.

During a walk around the paddocks you may encounter many different equines.  Hall Farm can be home to up to 104 horses at any one time.  There differences in size, colour and personalities are all represented.

My visit was part of an event organised by my local art group.  Members can sit and draw or paint anything that inspires them.  My own aim was to take photos as my  style is very detailed and considered.  This does not gel with animals continually on the move.

I took many photos;  some horses ignored me, carried on grazing, they’d seen it all before.  Others came over to see what was going on and came much too close to photograph!  It was lovely to stroke their soft, velvety noses though.

I had a lovely morning – the weather was glorious, the surroundings idyllic, and the atmosphere very calming.  I also have many photos to work from over the coming months – looking forward to that!

Thanks to the staff of World Horse Welfare for opening it doors to us on a non-public opening day!

 

 

“Ask me to show you poetry in motion and I will show you a horse.”

~ Author Unknown

 

 

Swallow

Spring Migration – the Cuckoo has arrived!

The swallows are here, the swifts have arrived this week and I heard my first cuckoo this morning.  I get shouted at every time I go to the shed by a Great Tit fiercely defending the offspring, and the baby blackbirds get in the way when I am moving compost out of the heap. It is an easy way for them to find food.  Oh what a lovely time of year it is!

Swallow

Swallow –
Hirundo rustica

Even the baby rabbits munching on the young hydrangea leaves within their, somewhat limited, reach are something to smile about.  Well they deserve it I think.  They have such a struggle with myxomatosis and the new RHD2 which is wiping out thousands of rabbits.  They are such lovely creatures  and get such a bad press because they eat what we are trying to grow.  

There are several nests around the garden, but I am concerned about upsetting them so I leave well alone.

Goldcrests

Goldcrests –
Regulus regulus

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Coloured Pencils Artwork – Learning to use new media and techniques

It is a generally accepted view that we should all try something new occasionally.  It is thought to be good for us!  It can give us a new outlook on life, renewed enthusiasm and who knows, we might find that one thing in life that we were meant to do.

Coming back down to earth, in art we are encouraged to move out of our comfort zones and try new things.  This is just what I have been doing this month – coloured pencils.  Every so often I have thought about having a go, but remembering ‘colouring-in’ efforts when I was at school put me off.  It wasn’t something to be proud of.

Having done a lot of research and watched many YouTube videos I finally decided upon Faber-Castell Polychromos which are oil based and have a good range of colours available.  I chose a dozen that I thought would be suitable to create animal fur as a starting point – a mix of browns, black, greys, yellows and a blue and green for eyes.

My first attempt was a cat’s eye and I was pleased with the results that could be obtained although somewhat surprised about the time needed to produce an acceptable result (no definitely not like colouring-in at school!).  I then decided to try the whole head of a domestic kitten.  I have not yet worked out how to do white whiskers over brown fur.  I have used a stylus pen, which puts a groove in the paper which the pencil just glides over.  This means the groove should be left the colour of the paper i.e. white, but it definitely needs more practice.  I would welcome any advice on this one.

Kitten

Paper is not a problem for me as it needs to be very smooth and I already use hot-pressed paper.  I have tried Bristol Board but the HP has a little more tooth to hold on to the colour better.  Other things I have found useful are: a Derwent  Blender and Zest-It, a citrus smelling solvent made in the UK,  which when applied sparingly with a brush also blends and smooths out the colour.

The most important tip I have found is keep the pencils very sharp all the time!

To sum up I would say that I am really enjoying the coloured pencil work, but I still love watercolours and have no intention of giving them up.  Do have a go it you get the opportunity.  They are a real surprise!

 

Dogs as Artist’s Models

Soon it will be time for Crufts again!  Just in case you don’t know it is the ‘World’s Largest Dog Show’ and it is to be held from 9th – 12th March at the NEC in Birmingham.  We used to breed Cocker and Field Spaniels, showing them regularly and Crufts was an important part of the year.  We never did reach the heights, but our black field spaniel ‘Glenaubrey Black Shadow’ did achieve Best Puppy in Breed in 1985.

There never been a time since then that we have been without dogs, although not always spaniels.  Notably the Basset Hounds with so much character.  They live on in memories only so I just had to paint one.  This is Jeeves :-

Jeeves

Jeeves

 

Boxer

Boxer to remind me of the breed I grew up with

Labrador a commission painting

This is a painting I have just finished of Scoobie, a blue roan cocker spaniel, with a lovely personality and impeccable temperament.  Sometimes I think it is easier to paint your own dogs as you know their character and can paint that in.  Certainly you are filled with memories as you work.

Scoobie

I really enjoy painting dogs, but sometimes they are difficult to photograph.  If it is your own dog they want to come and see what you are doing and have some fuss rather than sit still, but someone else’s dog can be even more problematic.  Some will only sit when their owner tells them and then keep looking at them for reassurance all the time.  It can all get very exciting and mayhem can ensue with great hilarity. It’s certainly not dull though!

 

 

 

Robins and Others!

I have not posted for a while as I have been unable to get internet access for almost seven weeks!!  This has been quite difficult as it made me realise how much I have come to rely on it.

I do a lot of research on line before I start a painting, for ideas and to make sure I have the details correct. It is interesting to see how other artists approach a subject and whilst it may not be your style, it can lead your imagination on to other ideas.

Blogs are another thing I have missed.  I read a lot of other blogs, particularly those on botanical art.  Some are factual, which helps and inspires the learning process, and some are friendly chat about all things botanical.  Painting can be quite a lonely business and it is lovely to feel that there are other people out there with the same issues as you.

I have recently become interested in painting birds.   I have always loved watching birds and would like to be able to catch their character in watercolour.  Once I have painted the eyes in it brings the painting to life.  Depicting feathers is quite a challenge, but I have found plenty of advice from other bloggers.

Robin

This Robin was my first attempt

Blue Tits

Blue Tits came next

Wren

and then the Wren

I apologise for the brevity of this post, but I am not totally confident that my internet connection is now Ok and I wanted to make sure I had posted.

 

 

 

In Praise of Art Classes

I go to a watercolour art class once a week in a nearby village.   I have been going for the last three years  and would recommend them to anyone thinking about joining one.  It is a bit daunting to start with, but after a while you become so engrossed that you forget your worries (about art and life!).

It is a two hour class, too short really but it concentrates your mind.  I think we all really want to end the class with a ‘finished’ picture.  It certainly stops you fiddling too much! Pictures from this term include:

Raspberry

First we did fruit and berries – just my thing.  Left to my own devices I would probably only paint things botanical but an art class stretches you …  You have to try things you would normally dismiss as too difficult.

Gloucester Old Spot

One week was pigs – to paint, that is.  A Gloucester Old Spot to be precise.  I was a little apprehensive about this as it is outside my comfort zone, but again was pleased with the result.  What do you think?

Butterfly

Lion

The butterfly filled me with anticipation and the lion with trepidation, but didn’t work out too badly.

Rusty Chain

This rusty chain taught us how to paint rust – colours and texture as well as shadows.  As you can see the subjects are quite diverse.  We also do landscapes, but I do not seem to be able to do those ……. yet.

Anyone out there who is uncertain whether to join a class – I say do.  Aside from encouragement and inspiration you also get to talk art (and other things) with like-minded people.