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Choosing frame colours

This article links to the framing video I posted, showing how to construct the custom frames from Jacksons Art. I touch upon choosing colours for the frames that set off the artwork to its best advantage, and thought I’d write a short piece elaborating on choosing colours that bring out the best of your artwork.

I am going to use the two examples in the video shown here hanging on deep blue wall.

(I know I damaged the upper frame, it will be replaced when the next order arrives!)

Choosing the colour

An easy way to to pick a suitable colour is to try and match a minor colour element in the painting. I chose the two colours in the Jennifer Irvine seascape by picking out colour hints in the painting, a light grey for the inner moulding, and then a darker blue/grey (Farrow & Ball ‘pigeon’) for the outer moulding. However if I had chosen the dominant blue in the painting, the frame would have overwhelmed the other colours.

For the second painting, the cherry blossom by Anthony Connolly we saw in the video that I started with a light grey, repainted to ‘Pidgeon’ and finally settled on a dark blue (F&B Blue black). The reason this colour works better than the previous two is because it complements the colour values of the painting.

Colour Values

The flower painting has very strongly contrasting ‘values’ that is to say, it has very strong darks, and very pale light colours, this is in part why neither of the greys work as a frame colour – they were mid range in value, so don’t sit well against the high contrast in the art work.

The seascape has much less range of value, so the mid tones of the pigeon grey work in harmony with painting, and don’t overwhelm the art.

Background

It is worth taking your background into consideration. I knew I was going to hang both of these paintings on a blue wall, so I wanted the frames to complement the artwork, but also work with the strong blue behind them. I have used blue toned greys, and the dark blue so they are all on the same spectrum of colour. For example I could have used the purples in Jennifer’s seascape to base my frame colours on, but they would not have worked so well with wall behind, or the painting below.

I hope this helps, I have a short video on how to make the frames on my instagram account. All the frames came from Jacksons Art and the artwork was purchased through the Artists Support Pledge on Instagram.

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Painting not panicking.

The Night Prowler
 I’m at home, looking at my newly blank diary for the next three months; abandoned shows, cancelled contracts, delayed commissions.
It is worrying but I am trying to view it as an opportunity for me to get into the studio and really get to work on creating some new paintings. 
The two new paintings I am launching here are the culmination of many months work, I hope you enjoy them, and that they provide some light relief from the watching the news… I plan to do an accompanying piece to the The Night Prowler, McCaw parrots I think. I will of course have the children off school, but here’s hoping we all settle down to a creative routine! (Wishful thinking?!)

The Night Prowler came from a concept sketch I produced for a couture design studio who wanted to produce a jungle print on silk. In the end the project didn’t come off but I wanted to develop the sketch and after some time studying tropical foliage at Kew, and securing some reference images for jaguars I finally came up with two planned compositions. I’ve loved creating the more atmospheric background, and this is definitely an area I want to explore further. 

The Sable of Fables I heard rumours of the Giant Sable antelope while I was last in Africa, but really so few have ever seem them. The tiny population inhabit a small territory deep in Angola, and this sub species was thought to be wiped out in the Angolan Wars. They are enormous, magnificent antelope, the bulls horns can curve nearly two metres over their backs. There is now a dedicated team working for their conservation, and a percentage of profit from the sale of this original, or prints will go towards supporting their efforts. 
The Sable of Fables 150x100cm
So, dear readers, artists and galleries, if you’ve got this far down the page – please look after yourselves, and your families, and I am sending you all the love and strength I can. It’s going to be a testing few months for us all, I just hope that from the enforced quiet time I can at least create something worthwhile. 
If any of you are artists, and would like help, advice or for feedback on projects, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here. There are some incredibly inspiring projects, ideas and community art sessions springing up on social media. I will definitely be taking part in a few of them. 
In other news…I’ve started doing a few portraits recently , and am really enjoying it after a fifteen year break! Read more here »
My other plan for the next few weeks is to get my long neglected YouTube channel up and running again. This link will take you to a time lapse of me painting a still life for the first time in about decade. A lot more practice needed, but I think I should have some spare time now! There are a few videos up there already and I will load lots more from the archives over the next few weeks. 
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Felicia Forte portrait workshop

“Success is a string of failures” Vincent Van Gogh

There is no point in standing still as an artist, if we continue to paint same things over and over, sticking to the same formula, however successful, our work quickly becomes stale, and we tire of producing it, which in turn shows in the works produced. As we lose our passion the work lacks its fire. 

You may know that I trained at one stage as a portrait artist, and for a while did commissioned portraits until my love of animals won over and I went back to painting subjects that couldn’t offer an opinion.

However, I’ve been dicing with figurative art for a year or two now but have not found it easy, much of the work has found its way onto the bonfire, or been tossed, crumpled, into a corner of the studio. I often find that the way out of a rut, or off a plateau is to step out of my routine and studio, and stretch myself a little harder; an etching course, life drawing or in this case an intense four day portrait workshop with a painter I hugely admire – Felicia Forte. She has that effortless style that makes you want to lick the painting, an ease and confidence in her work that is sorely lacking in my portraiture.

I considered joining her at the fabulous London Fine Art studios, but it’s close enough to commute, and I wanted to escape, albeit briefly, my domestic ties, so I could think of painting and nothing else. I signed up for the newly formed Raw Umber studios in Stroud, set up by former pupil of a LARA (a school coincidently I helped found, but that’s a story for another day) 

Felicia is everything one imagines an artist to be; engaging, quirky with an absolute passion and dedication to her craft. (It irritates me that I feel I look so little like an ‘artist’, years ago a friend of my mothers told me I looked like a headmistress, I haven’t spoken to her since such was my fury, it touched a nerve as I suspect she may be right.)

We watched Felicia demonstrate a 3 hour portrait the first morning. She set out her deceptively simple formula for creating an accurate likeness. Drawing, shadow shapes, average tones, then work out from one area. Suffice to say it was considerably harder than it looked, and my first attempt that afternoon, though a reasonable likeness was a pale, chalky, muddled mess. My drawing skills are poor, rusty from over reliance on technology in the studio. 

Three hour portrait by Felicia
Three hour portrait by me…

Day 2 was a full day painting, and I was allocated the same model all day. I spent a lot longer crafting a more considered drawing, and initially made a good start, but as the day wore on I tired, lost the simplicity of my tones, began to muddy the palette, and over work areas. The end result was ok, but not what I was hoping to achieve. I found myself using tiny brushes, dab dabbing at the same spots… 

Day 3 saw another demo, this time, three portraits in three hours. An hour, 40 minutes, and 20 minutes. Watching Felicia, every brushstroke carries a considered conviction, rather than my more slapdash approach. She mixes the values and applies them with sparsity and economy but with a very definite confidence. No dabbing with tiny brushes… I took a quick trip to Pegasus art, a mere five minutes away, and equipped with a wolverine hand of large bristle brushes set to with the triple portrait challenge. 

I learnt an incredible amount from this exercise, each short session revealing something new, and can see a real progression within the canvas of three heads. I think by the last I had finally begun to observe and mix correct colours, rather rely on preconceived ideas of colour. As I grew in confidence I painted faster, so although the third sketch is in less than half the time of the first, I got almost as much information down. A nugget of information from Felicia was that the head tends to get cooler as you move away from the light, so the upper tones are yellow, the middle tones red, and lower third cooler. We were using a ‘Zorn’ palette, which is restricted to Cadmium red, Ivory black, Titanium white and Yellow ochre. It’s been ages since I used a restricted palette, and it was fascinating to find the ranges of tone and colour you can achieve. My plan is to eventually move towards a very extended palette, and colourful portraits but it has been a useful exercise slowing down, and really taking the time to observe & mix the correct colours within the face. 

Most of the class went for dinner that evening, though we resisted the nightlife of Stroud as day 4 was an extended pose, 6 hours on the same model. I was pleased with my mornings work, the drawing coming more naturally by now, and managing to find mostly correct tone and value for a challenging pose of strong shadow and highlights. I changed for the afternoon, to other extreme of light and half tone on the other side of the face,  it my focus and stamina were flagging, and although it is a reasonable job, my mind was beginning to wander towards the following week, and the return to my family and home. 

It was truly a privilege to study with Felicia, to have a few days (thank you Peter/Jane!) to focus solely on my beloved painting, and I feel I have learnt an unbelievable amount in a short space of time. It has come at an opportune time for me, as I was struggling with working in solitude, and after a relentless few months of commissioned work was in dire need of a reboot of inspiration and passion. Art is an odd career, I am often told how lucky I am to do what I love for a living, and I agree, I am. However it is a blessing and a curse, as in order to make a living, your passion must also become your job, and after a while any job, if you do for long enough, starts to feel, well, like a job, and less like something you love to do. Sometimes stepping outside the box (or studio) gives you a fresh perspective and in this case has definitely re awakened my passion for painting. 

I can’t wait to get back into the studio this week, I must just find some socks for my son…. 

A very happy class of artists!
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Studio Stories #1 Camilla Dowse

This is the first in a series of interviews with professional artists. It is more of a discussion between artists than a formal interview, and touches on the highs and lows of being a full time artist, with plenty of do and donts for those considering a career in the arts. This series will be a fascinating insight into the private studios and lives of a variety of artists.

www.camilladowse.co.uk

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Decorating for art with Farrow & Ball

This month Farrow & Ball have kindly agree to collaborate with me, sending some ideas and advice on decorating with art in mind. 

Being bold with colour

The Head of Creative at Farrow & Ball, Charlotte Crosby suggested the following:

“Rich colours are the ideal backdrop for gallery walls. Strong shades like Preference Red or Paean Black really complement eclectic pieces of art, particularly those with gold frames.

The calming lavender tones found in Brassica provide a softer alternative to darker shades. Take the wall colour up and over the ceiling to keep the focus on the art.”

 

Stronger wall colour is becoming more fashionable these days and those dark blues, and vivid shades are a godsend for art, as they really make it sing. I honestly think that ‘gallery white’ does no favours to art, it is often used so that the art is seen with no distraction, but equally can make it hard to envisage the work in a domestic setting. Try to avoid colours clashes, generally people lean towards a palette in their house, favouring a range of blues or greens, neutrals or reds so try to choose work that doesn’t fight with the background. Orange or pink/red tones in a painting will stand out against blue walls for example, while greens will be more muted. 

I happen to have F&B Brassica in my study, and while initially I thought the purple seemed a little overwhelming, once there were several photos and paintings on the wall it recedes into the background, and harmonises the various works. I used predominantly gold or black frames so that there was a theme to the variety of art and photos. 

 

 

Keeping things neutral

For those who prefer a more muted palette in their home, monochrome work, such as charcoals, drawings, or etchings work with everything, and are always easy to hang in any setting. I use ‘F&B Archive’ a warm neutral in several rooms, which is very sympathetic to all work, important to me as the paintings and drawings are changed on such a regular basis. Houses that are decorated in greys, and subdued colours are the perfect backdrop for a really vivid artwork to act as a focal point of the room. 

 

Matching colours

Purists will throw up their hands in horror, but I see nothing wrong in choosing work to match or compliment decor or colour scheme, after all it has to fit into your life and home. Berkshire Life recently published a lovely article on the work in my house and we talked a lot about how I choose decorating schemes to complement and showcase the work. In some cases, like the bathroom, I started with the painting, a large seascape by John Benton, and choose one of the blues in the work as the paint colour for the wall (Farrow & Ball Cook’s Blue)

In other rooms I choose the colour first – a muted yellow (India Yellow by Farrow & Ball) in the kitchen, and then hung work, predominantly monochrome, that is set off by the strong background. I have found this colour tricky, as I have to be careful when hanging coloured paintings. They need to be either predominantly neutral, or have a pop of colour that doesn’t clash with the yellow. Greens, reds and pinks are completely out!

I would love to hear your successes (and fails!) of hanging paintings. My worst was, ironically, my studio walls, which I initially painted a green yellow white. Hideous, and completely flattened any art hung on it…

 

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Choosing Art for others

 

I hardly dare write that Christmas is around the corner, but the cards now glitter across the aisles in the supermarket, and the chocolate snowmen are lined up in force! Inevitably the panic of choosing gifts for those in my life sets in about now, and I thought I’d write a few tips on choosing both for your own home and for others. Next month I’ve teamed up with Farrow & Ball  and will delve further into choosing art for interiors, offer advice on hanging art work and colour schemes as a backdrop to art in more depth.

 

Choosing Art for others

I often get the impression that many people feel the art is too personal a gift to choose for others, that they think it is so subjective that they won’t be able to second guess what the recipient will like and so shy away from giving it. However, I think actually the opposite is true, people absolutely love being gifted art, for the very reason that it is a very personal thing to give, or be given. I have received a few works over the years, mostly from other artists, and they are amongst my most treasured items.

Consider their space

When gifting something, it is worth considering their home, and realistically how much wall space they have. There is no point giving a large framed print if they been in their property a long time and every surface is already full, whereas a small oil or sketch can always be squeezed in, or placed on a book shelf. This is actually one of my favourite tricks, as it has the double bonus in hiding my questionable taste of literature!

A small still life by Tom Leveritt hiding multiple sins!

However if they have recently moved or upgraded and need to fill a lot of wall space, a large canvas print is an affordable option that will make a big impact at a budget friendly price.

Unframed large canvas print

 

Consider their taste

Spend some amount of time considering their taste – what subject or colours would tally in with their personality and preferences? A couple who spend a lot of time sailing are probably going to relate to a seascape, while honeymooners back from safari may like a wildlife painting as a reminder.  A good starting point is any art that they have already, a safe bet is to buy a piece by an artist they have already, or to go for something similar in style. Social media can be a godsend, if they have a Pinterest account, browse through any interiors that have pinned, it might give you the inspiration for a subject or style.

Any good gallery should fall over themselves to advise you, or you can always approach an artist to commission something specific either in subject or colour.

Don’t forget the kids

Art is a gift that should last a lifetime, and makes a fantastic christening or new baby gift for a special child. It’s certainly going to give more enjoyment than a silver spoon stored in the safe. There’s the added bonus, if you choose cleverly, that it will appreciate in value over the child’s lifetime. Ideally choose something that will grow with them, while Beatrix Potter illustrations are charming, they are quickly grown out of.

For lower value art I absolutely love the whimsical rabbit prints by ‘Hammade‘ or the stunning laser cut maps by ‘Famille Summerbelle

Frames

If you are gifting art, it is so much easier to receive something that can be hung straight onto the wall. I was the worst culprit for not getting around to framing pieces, and they used to sit gathering dust in a corner of my office for years. It is worth either budgeting for a decent frame, buying a standard sized work that will fit into a good ready made frame or Ikea or Homesense do very reasonable frames, and they can be used as stop gap solution until a visit to the framer, equally they are a great neutral choice if you think your recipient will probably want to choose the frame themselves. Canvas prints on canvas stretchers are great as they can be hung with no frame, avoiding the problem all together!

Some of my ‘yet to be framed properly’ works!

 

If you’re truly, truly stumped, most artists and galleries now do vouchers, which can be gifted so that the recipient can choose their own piece. This is also a great way for people to group together to give a higher value present for a wedding, or special occasion.

Do let me know if you’re considering buying art for someone else, you can post any questions on the comments section below!

 

 

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Commissioning a portrait

Commissioning a portrait


I’m often asked questions about the process of commissioning a portrait or artwork, so thought I’d go through some of the most frequently asked queries. I absolutely love doing portraits, I think it is one of the few jobs where you are truly pleased to make your client cry (with joy hopefully!).

There is something about a painting that no photograph can ever match, for while a photograph captures an instant, a good painting will represent the essence of its subject.

 

Time frame

I would like clients to allow a good couple of months for portraits, sometimes I can fit in an emergency project, but as my waiting list grows longer this is far less likely. I find often that liaising to meet, and take the reference photos can often be the stumbling block for time. I always take my own photos as it makes for much better portrait if I have met my subject. Many clients prefer to give one of my beautiful vouchers as a present so the commission can be arranged without the pressure of secrecy or deadlines, and the recipient is fully involved in the commission process.

A perfect present solution.

Cost

As rough guide drawings start from £450 and paintings from £650 but I am always happy to try and work to a smaller budget if needs be.

Drawing v oil

The medium I use may depend on the subject, black dogs lend themselves well to charcoal for example, whereas brown colouring will be lost in charcoal or pencil. I find that where the colouring is important in the subject, oil works better. My two spaniels are blue roan and tan, and their pretty tan eyebrows and paws would be lost in a monotone drawing.

Process

Once someone has approached me in regards to a commission, I will send through the price list and commission contract for you to read through . This will give you a guide to the costs and process. Once a rough idea of size and medium has been decided I will come and take the photos. I then contact you after I have edited the photos to confirm the sizing, price and time frame. At this stage we sign the contracts and a 30% deposit is taken. I will order the canvas, which are made bespoke to my specifications on aluminium frames and heavy Italian linen. The drawings are done on 600gsm Fabriano Artistico paper, which I hold in stock. For larger or more complicated portraits I will do several composition sketches and send them via email for your approval. As the painting or drawing nears completion I will send another proof, so minor changes can be made. I do ask that you come to the studio for final approval, as viewing a painting in the flesh is so very different from seeing it on a 4″ phone screen! Assuming all is well, final payment is made, the painting is signed and varnished, and will be ready for collection shortly after.

 

Saxon Warrior

Framing

I can do one style of frame, a black Larson Juhl moulding with a linen slip, but for a wider choice have an excellent local framer I am happy to recommend.

 

Delivery

 

We can deliver work worldwide, as I understand that studio visits are not always possible. For this I do ask that the commission is given sufficient drying time before shipping.

Enquiries

I am now taking my last bookings for Xmas 2018, and have a couple of spaces left. If you’d like to contact me please do have a browse through my commissions page, and email me on catherine@catherineingleby.com

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Racehorses and business workshop

It’s been a very busy few months – I’ve finished a series of racehorse portraits, and am finally able to share a couple of them with you! I’ve so enjoyed doing these this year, they have been a welcome challenge in many ways, and a steep learning curve. I have spent many, many hours learning to paint silk, the nemesis of fabric for an artist (although tartan comes a close second…)
I have also had a complete refurbishment of the studio, which is incredibly exciting.

Saxon Warrior

Portait commission

 

The original and prints of Saxon Warrior, winner of this year’s 2000 Guineas, are available to buy through my website.
I am now taking commission bookings for Christmas, so please book early if you’d like one completed in time.

 

 

Isobel Burns, the founder of Online Social Media Marketing & Training, and I have teamed up for a ‘Business for Artists’ workshop on the 25th September

Places are limited and can be booked HERE

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Studio makeover

 

The studio, before and after

I’ve been in my studio for over a decade, and I’m aware of how lucky I am to have such a dedicated space, where I can work, largely undisturbed, in peace.

The studio a few years ago.

It is an old building, originally the forge for a local brewery, long since out of operation. They shod the dray horses there, and I assume, made the barrels from the amount of ironwork (and beer bottles!) we have dug out of the garden.  In more recent times my studio was a motorbike work shop, but apart from adding electricity, I doubt much has been done in the way of modernisation since those hairy feet lined up to be shod.

 

A “before” montage of studio shots

So thats where the mice got in… we cleared many bags of mice nest from the wall cavity.

Old buildings, however quaint, have their drawbacks. The door swung three inches from the floor, on old leather hinges, and mice (please lets not say rats) scampered merrily above my head, and I suspect, at night over the easel, with every corner webbed and netted by spiders. Every winter, I tended to fall prey to some lung or chest infection until I realised my old gas heaters might be the cause and installed an ancient woodburner. This certainly dried the damp in the studio out, but sadly took so long to actually heat the vaulted studio that by the time it was a working temperature, the school bus was honking at the end of the drive, the school and working day well and truly over.

The victorian stove and a variety of pets

The renovation

I worked some winters inside, but I find this claustrophobic, the line between working and home life blurred, never leaving the house. There were objections to the smells, and to the mess. This has been the way for over twelve years, and I began to dread the winters, oil paint is sullenly uncooperative in cold damp conditions, refusing to flow or dry. The commissions began to stack up, and at the busiest time of the year I had to work at my slowest pace, layered in jumpers, constantly feeding my temperamental stove.

This year however I finally took the plunge and the studio has been completely gutted, then insulated, plastered, rewired and painted. We have opened the window up at the back to create french doors, creating a wonderful view of my long neglected garden. The ancient, wonky door, and shoddy, old, glass front have been replaced with a door that shuts and windows that open!

I have had a complete purge of all the rubbishy furniture that had crept into the studio for ‘storage’ to remain mouldering in corners. The old stove, though it has dried many a studio painting, dog, cat and the odd chicken, will be replaced with a modern one. I waved a relieved good bye to the manky, old, red chair, forever impregnated with the succession of dogs that slept in it.

 

heavy duty clearing!

 

The first coat of paint on the new plaster

 

New doors for some much needed light

 

The finished studio

The building work is finally finished, and I only need to rehang the work, and put back the furniture. The space is everything I have dreamed of; light, airy (spider free!) and I hope come winter, warm. I feel over awed by the studio, it seems enormous, and I suspect I have ‘blank canvas’ syndrome, fearful of making the first mark. The easel is in though, and I have always found that painting, whether good or bad, is the best cure for the hump of artist’s block.

Party!

I intend to have a relaunch party one evening this summer, with a private view of recent work and I hope some of you will join me for a cocktail or two! I’ll send out invites through my newsletter, so do please subscribe if you’d like an invitation.

The finished studio

The finished adjoining studio

The front with new windows and door

The view from my desk

The garden, which looks amazing this year, due to the weather rather than my very lacklustre gardening skills!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Collies and commissions

 

My latest work ‘In a twist’
This elephant measures 40x50cm
He is available for sale £1500

My website is back up and running!

It’s been a frustrating year, with endless website woes, but it is finally up and running properly again. All my prints are now available to purchase online, and there is selection of originals too.
I have created an exclusive code for my newsletter readers of ARTYFARTYwhich will give you 15% off across all prints and originals.

Buy Prints

Canine portraits

It has been an incredibly busy year for private commissions, and I have completed many portraits. A huge thank you to all my clients, I so enjoy creating these works with you.

Find out more »

Equine Portraits

I have painted polo ponies, racehorses, shaggy ponies and this gorgeous sports horse. While Ido now have a waiting list, there will be some spaces in 2018.

Enquire about commissions »

This video of my portrait of my sister’s collie proved incredibly popular. I have condensed many hours of work into under two minutes – if only I could paint that fast!
LEANDER Rowing Club 200th Anniversary
I am very honoured to be selected as one of the artists to receive a Leander hippo to decorate. In the company of the likes of Theresa May, Clare Balding & several Olympians, any ideas are welcome! You can follow our progress on instagram #hippo200
Leander are the UK’s most successful sporting club, this wall being their Olympic roll call – nearly 150 names! The hippos a fantastic project and will be auctioned in late summer for charity to support clean water, rowing, education, and wildlife (including Hippos) on the Zambezi.
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Art – the ultimate christmas gift.

 

Limited Edition Giclée Prints

The perfect presents for men, those who ‘have everything’ or a just hard to find presents for. I have a selection of prints available to buy on my website, starting from £45. We can produce them on their own, mounted or framed. I also now offer bespoke canvas prints, in any proportional size up to a maximum width of 3 metres, which fills a LOT of wall space (but probably won’t fit in a stocking!) Please contact me on catherine@catherineingleby.com for pricing.

Aonbárr (Framed)

 

Blind Retrieve (Framed)

 

All the Giclée prints are produced using lightfast ink on acid free 360gsm art paper, individually signed and numbered. Each edition is a run of 250. They take around ten days to produce and frame, although possibly longer as we get very busy in the run up to Christmas. The order deadline is the 12th of December, after we cannot guarantee production & delivery in time for Christmas day.

Kwandwe Quartet

 

Jump for Joy

For those who cannot choose between the prints I have also produced gift vouchers. These are embossed, and gilded, and make a wonderful present to give to someone to redeem the blue of your choice against originals artwork, prints or commissions.

 

WWW.CATHERINEINGLEBY.COM

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What to say to an artist

At the many private views, exhibitions and fairs I’ve been to over the years, I often find people are at a loss as to what to ask me, and say the first thing that comes into their head, which is often, mostly unintentionally, rude. 

So, a light hearted guide of suggested questions;

1. Where do you get your inspiration?
2. What materials do you use? (Do not get an artist started on types of paper, unless you want to be there all night)
3. How do you achieve …. insert suitable aspect of painting (colour/effect/perpespective/technique)
4. What brought you to this subject?
5. Have you always painted in this style?
6. Which other artists influence your work?
7. Apart from yourself which artist would you invest in? (Artists often buy art, I love collecting work by others, and often am in a position to know whos ‘up & coming’. Phrase it carefully though, implying that you’d rather buy someone else work is rude…)
8. Which is your favourite gallery/museum? 
9. What is your studio like? (This could be another long rant)
10. May I get you another glass of wine? (Dear god, yes.)

Here are a few questions I’m asked a lot – in order of popularity! Not rude per se, but asked so often they make me want to scream, or at least reply sharply…


1. How long did it take? (There is no right answer, it takes a lifetime to learn a skill, the better you are, the faster you can do it.)
2. Is it for sale? (That is WHY we’re here.)
3. Is it in oil? (It does say ‘Oil on canvas’ on the label)
4. Can you teach my son/daughter/aunt? (Artist, not art teacher)
5. Have you always been an artist? (Every child is born an artist – Picasso)


And these are just plain rude. Expect a retort in kind..



1. How long did it take? (It’s too annoying)
2. It must be lovely doing your hobby full time. (ITS MY JOB, only about 20% of my long working hours are actually spent painting.)
3. How much do you make? (How much do you make?)
4. It’s like a photograph (It’s a painting/drawing so it’s really not)
5. It doesn’t match my walls. (That was never my intention)
6. Are you any good/famous?(Define that for me…are you judging me against Kim Kardashian?)
7. Can I buy it more cheaply direct? (You want me to jeopardise my business relationship with my gallery?)
8. Can you do x for free, it will be great advertising. (A very dangerous question likely to make an artist boil over, try it out on your plumber to gauge a likely reaction first. On the flip side I often donate work for charity, so it’s always worth asking in the name of a legitimate cause.)
9. You’re so lucky being an artist. (It was mostly hard graft and bloody mindedness. It certainly felt more like a curse at times.)
10. When are you going to get a paid job? (A parental prerogative to ask this one….)
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Pubs and dogs.

It’s all about Labs

I’m in the fortunate position of having a long list of commissions to do at the moment, and am trying to get them done before Easter. First up were three labradors, two yellow and one black. The sharp eyed might spot that the yellow lab portraits are in fact the same dog.

They are still works in progress, I have at least another week to do. 
I’ve moved into the house to work as the studio is just too cold. I may never move back out….

Pub paintings

I’m not sure what triggered me to do a painting of my local pub, I had been researching Cecil Aldin on t’internet, one of my favourite artists for dog portraits. I came across a book of his called “Old Inns’ and found a drawing of my local, which I was already familiar with. The etching puzzles me, its signed ‘Cecil Aldrin’, and is is very accomplished, but I can find no record of him producing etchings.

The Bell Inn – Cecil Aldin
Etching – after Cecil Aldin

Anyway, we had a week of extraordinary light in November, and most mornings that week were spent photographing and sketching, delaying the school run several times! 
I’ve really enjoyed painting landscapes again, and if it’s successful may well explore the idea of a series. My husband works in the pub industry so I suppose I have a added interest in them.
I’ve released an small edition of canvas prints of The Bell in Waltham St Lawrence. Canvas prints can be bought here
The Bell Inn, WSL

Artist’s Dogs

Cecil Aldin is really blame for my current dogs – I saw this sketch many years ago, and decided there and then that when I had spaniels, they would look like the one in the sketch, despite never having seen a roan and tan cocker before. It took a few years, but now I have Ivy and Jazzy below, who are much loved for all the chaos and fun they bring to our lives. 

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Art competitions

Submission and rejection

There’s been a fair amount of discussion in the art world about the validity of various ‘open’ art competitions recently. Kathryn Tyrell who writes the excellent and very informative blog Making a Mark has published an article covering the main points.

Choose the right competition

I think information and transparency are the key factors. Inform yourself as to the nature of works that are accepted for competitions. I had a few frustrating years submitting to the Society of Wildlife Artists before really studying their exhibition and realising that my work simple doesn’t suit their overall theme, which is heavily based towards printmaking, birds and British mammals.
I do wish society exhibitions would publish their numbers more transparently, so artists have a clearer idea of entries, sales, and costs/spend.

My favourite competition by far is the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year. This year I have submitted the following two works. ‘Shadows kiss’ is a huge piece for me, and took me way out of comfort zone. Fingers crossed….

Sun glare

Shadows Kiss

Society of Equine Artists

This is another regular one for me, although there has been considerable chopping and changing with venues recently. It is now based at Palace house in Newmarket instead of London, and I’m a little doubtful as to whether it is going to be able to ensure enough sales to make exhibiting worthwhile, but we shall see. 
Stormrunner
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New Years Resolutions

January 2017

New year promise 

I have a horrible feeling this may be similar to last years resolution, but I am full of hope that this year I will stop neglecting my blog and write a weekly post. I will spend less time watching ridiculous videos on Facebook and construct witty prose packed with my weekly news…

Jump for Joy

Talking of Facebook..

I have finally got to grips with FB advertising, and we were caught completely on the hop by the success of our pre christmas promotions, scrambling to process and ship all the orders in time. Thankfully we succeeded, and now have a fantastic system in place so everything should proceed smoothly from here on out. The biggest sellers by far were ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and Jump for Joy’
Two of my favourite paintings, I think they capture a sense of fun, and humour, and I hope give you as much pleasure looking at them, as they gave me enjoyment in their creation.

Razzle Dazzle

January sale “ARTSALE17”

The 25% off promotion will run until the end of January, please use the code above for 25% off all works on my website, prints and originals.

In the studio.. or not

The studio has become such an uphill battle to heat I have now moved inside, setting up in our garden room. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to think I’ll be able to work during the day without being cold. In fact I overstoked the woodturner so much I had to wear only a T-shirt yesterday. The dogs are also thrilled as they become markedly reluctant to ‘come to work’ over the past few weeks. 

On the easel

I am working on various commissions this month, as a bit of backlog has built up. On the easel are two portraits of same yellow labrador, a client has commissioned one for each of her sons which rather lovely, but presenting its own challenges. 
I’m also working on a series of local landscapes, my first landscapes in a decade. We had a period of spectacular light in November and every school run was, at best,  meandering as I stopped to take photos. 
I’ll leave you with some recent images
My cockerel 

The Bell Inn, Waltham St Lawrence

In progress

Tess, Labradoodle