If you read my recent post Painting of a mouse – in progress you will remember I had been painting a mouse in watercolour. He was left sitting on my desk whilst I wondered what to do with him. I didn’t want to introduce any new colours into the painting as I wanted the emphasis to remain on him and his inquisitive expression. For the same reason I couldn’t put anything too interesting to attract the eye away from him.
After several days of looking at him every time I passed by I decided upon a simple rocky area. This was neither too bold nor too distracting.
Mouse in progress
This, I felt, worked. Now just the finishing touches and some more definition and we were good to go!
Hope you like him! He can be seen on a new card in my Etsy shop (see above for the link). All he lacks now is a name – any ideas?
This is my current work in progress. A little mouse who is sitting watching me from the easel on my worktable. He is patiently waiting for me to decide where he lives or what he is doing with his life.
Mouse Close up
I like to have more than one painting on the go at any one time, preferably in different stages of completion. It helps keep me away from that dreadful time when I have NOTHING to paint. That’s when procrastination sets in along with loss of confidence. Not a nice place. But when I am painting, ideas flow and I can’t wait to have a go at the next idea.
Back to the mouse though – he looks such a friendly fellow (I’m starting to feel like Beatrix Potter!). Shall I put him peeping out from behind a rock, a flowerpot or perhaps just vegetation? It will come to me I know, but in the meantime I am just enjoying his company.
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.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment. – Robert Falcon Scott
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 :-
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.
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!
I have been getting ready for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch for several weeks now. I always like to feed the birds in the garden in the winter, mainly to help them, you understand, but it is wonderful to be able to watch them so closely. As the Birdwatch date approaches I find myself watching that bit closer and finding tastier morsels to put out in the hope of being able to record something unusual.
This last week I have been fortunate to see a female siskin and two bramblings along with the usual visitors. What excitement! However I think it must have been the low temperatures we were experiencing then, because come Birdwatch time and higher temperatures there was no sign of them. Do they know we are trying to count them do you think? Well that’s just how it is!
Here is just a selection of the birds I see in my garden:-
Coal Tits on a Cherry Tree
My aim is eventually to have a go at painting all my local birds. There’s a long way to go but the research will be enjoyable!
Oh what a beautiful bird is the peregrine falcon. It is the fastest of our native falcons and can reach 120 mph when hunting. During the last century numbers in this country fell to around 400 breeding pairs, thought to be caused by persistent pesticides. Thankfully this trend has reversed and there are now around 1,500 breeding pairs.
One success began in 2011 when peregrines began to nest on Norwich Cathedral. A platform had been put up by the Hawk and Owl Trust after peregrines had been sighted in 2009 and 2010. In the wild peregrines nest in mountains and cliff ledges, so the Cathedral spire was thought to be ideal. This proved to be the case and the public can now view them at a watchpoint in the Cathedral Close. http://upp.hawkandowl.org/
My peregrine watercolour was conceived whilst looking at the pictures of the Norwich peregrines. I will be taking him and others to the Art and Craft Exhibiton at Wymondham Arts Centre in Norfolk, UK at the end of this month.