Category Archives: Art

My animal cards

Greetings Cards and the Just a Card Campaign

A Norfolk Hare

Hare Card

Make someone happy – send them a card!

A card through the post is something to look forward to, appreciate and remember long after the event.  I am not talking about the cheap cards you buy in the discount store, but ones that have been created by an artist or maker and chosen with care to send a loving message to the recipient.  Perhaps even framed afterwards.

My animal cards

A selection of my cards

I am supporting the Just a Card Campaign https://www.justacard.org/ 

Just a Card

This all came about when artist and designer Sarah Hamilton saw the quote:

“If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card‘ we’d still be open”

This is so sad and I have now resolved to buy a card whenever I see one I really like and not rush out at the last minute (just before final posting date) to buy one that will “have to do”.  Will you do that to?

Amazon Parrot

Amazon Parrot

 

 

Border Collie

Dog Portraits

This year I have become interested in dog portraits, both in watercolour and coloured pencil.  I have always loved dogs and there has not been many years in my life when I have not been owned by at least one.  I grew up with a very forgiving boxer but latterly there has mostly been spaniels, in particular English Cockers and Field.  There was a very entertaining and loving period where two Basset Hounds joined us and prior to that a border collie helped us with our small flock of sheep.

I wish now I had taken better photographs of all these colourful characters, but unfortunately whilst there are actions snapshots, nothing quite meets the standards you need to paint from.  Good, clear close-up photographs with as much detail as possible is the best.  Then I can create the high detail portraits that I enjoy doing.  This is especially true when I am doing a commission as I do not know the personality of the dog.

I have in the past posted previous dog portraits (see Dogs as Artist’s Models back in March) but here are the latest two.  The Cavalier is in watercolour and for the Border Collie I used coloured pencils.  I am still finding it easier to use watercolour, but that is probably because I have been doing it for so long and it comes more naturally (taking the easier route?).  However, I think I prefer the finished article when I used coloured pencils.  I still have a lot to learn with this medium though.

Border Collie

Border Collie

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment. – Robert Falcon Scott

Pencil drawing of blackbird

Bird Art -my attempts at photographing them

This post is about my efforts to take photographs of birds.

To be a bird artist you need pictures of birds, ideally ones you have taken yourself.  I have occasionally managed to take a half decent photo, but wanted to do better.

Slightly fuzzy blackbird

First of all let me say it is not a simple thing to do. The experts make it look so easy!  My biggest problem is patience – it runs out very quickly when faced with a view from a hide with absolutely no birds in it.

I recently arrived at a hide to find no room to sit down with my camera.  I could however see
that there were birds a-plenty.  Looking good so far – chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, marsh tits, nuthatch and a greater spotted woodpecker.  I was already planning future paintings in my mind.  Yes – you guessed it – by the time I found a place to sit and set up all the birds were gone!

What have I learnt so far apart from “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”?  Well first of all to just sit, relax, appreciate your surroundings and listen to the birdsong.  Birds will not arrive to order, but that is the exciting thing – you never know what you will see.  Now when I look at a photo of a bird I think about the effort the photographer went to.  It does make you appreciate them more.

Slightly less fuzzy

Getting better

I have not painted a blackbird yet, just a preliminary sketch to get ideas.  They do seem more willing to pose for photos than most birds!

Preliminary sketch

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!