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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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David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year predictions

I dropped my elephant off at the Mall Galleries today, in the company of some very impressive looking pieces arriving at the same time.
I’ve had a scan through the pre sales catalogue and attempted to pick my winners for each category.To be honest, the longer I looked the harder I found it to make up my mind, I don’t envy those poor judges. I’m just very honoured to be featured in such strong company!

So heres the seven categories with my best guess at the winners.

Animal Behaviour: Showing a real understanding of animal behaviour, a sense of character, maybe something the judges may not have seen before.

Combat D’Oryx by Pascal Chesnau

A previous winner of the DSWAY title, I love the movement in this one.

Urban Wildlife: Entries can be in an urban style or depict the city life of animals and plants. Judges will be looking for both originality in the habitat as well as the contrast between wild and urban life.

Unnatural by Candice Bees

 or

Gemma Hayward

 Hidden World: A celebration of remote and rarely observed or lesser known landscapes and species. 

Lucy Paine



Not many seem to qualify for this category, but I particularly like this fox by Lucy Paine

Wings, Feathered or Otherwise: The extraordinary variety of winged wildlife – birds and insects, in flight or at rest. 

I love the bees by Patricia but I think these parrots by Stefano will be spectacular.

Turquoise and gold by Stefano Zagaglia

Into the Blue: Illustrate the wonderful world of water, be it ocean, seashore, wetland, river or stream.




Has to be one of nick O’Neils works (he has FIVE accepted this year, highest no. of entries I think!)

Whip it by Nick O’Neil

Vanishing Fast: Our vanishing world – it can be any species officially listed as endangered or threatened on the IUCN Red List – or any landscape that is at risk. 


Wide category this, but I love this tiger, although it equally falls into the next category.

Tiger 13 by Stephen Rew





Earth’s Beautiful Creatures: The choice is yours! As in all categories the judges are looking for not only beautifully executed original artworks but also imaginative interpretation, moving away from the purely photographic to compositions with great characterization, showing imagination, originality and genuine creativity. 


So anything then…

I’m going to choose the snow leopards, such a a great composition of a tricky subject.

The ghost in the mountains by Cynthia House


Overall Winner?

I’m going to go for either Nick O’Neils polar bear “Before it melts”

or Radha Kirby’s “Hippos in the late afternoon sun”….

Judging is on Monday so I’ll update on Tuesday morning.

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Society of Equine artists

So this is for a bit of fun, but the Society of Equine Artists has opened its annual exhibtion this week, award ceremony this Sunday. These are my picks for the prize winners, not including myself obviously!!
You can see the whole exhibition online at www.equestrianartists.co.uk although the slide show is maddeningly slow. It would be much better formatted as a gallery, so it could be more easily browsed.
I’ll post the actual winners next friday!

Best drawing – “Crusader” Rebecca De Mindonca Pastel £1,900 38″x31″

I haven’t come across this artists work before, and it’s stunning, although I think the shoulder needs to merge more softly into the red background. The racing paintings on her website are fantastic, so I’m suprised they havn’t been included in the SEA exhibtion. 

Best contemporary “Irish Draft Stallion Gortfree Hero” Sara Hodson ASEA Oils £800 21″x21″

Sara has submitted a very strong trio of works. See more at
https://www.sarahodson.com/

Best Group of works by full member – “Guards” Kristine Nason SEA Pencil £580 20″x24″

Best hunting work – “Kimblewick Hunt Leaving the Full Moon” Dennis Syrett SEA PPROI RBA RSMA Oils £8,000 32″x40″

I like Frderick Haycocks work as well, also a strong contender. 

Best coloured horse (!) “Zebra” Kim Thompson Acrylic £1,800 21″x41″
This might not count being a zebra, so technically not a horse, but it’s a lovely work. Realistically Malcolm Coward will probably win. Again.

Best in show -“Seventh Wave” Rosemary Sarah Welch SEA Oils £2,200 42″x38″

Best Sculpture – “The Chaser” Amy Goodman ASEA BA(Hons) Bronze 1/8 £5,250 20″x20″x8″

Best racing work -“Headway” Michelle McCullagh SEA Oils £2,800 25″x18″
Hard one to call this, as Michelle won last year I think, but to me this one stands out. 
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How to dress as an artist.

What to wear?

I cannot claim any expertise in fashion world, but it is something I struggle with before every event! ‘What to wear?! How do you marry smart with artistic? Businesslike, but creative? I seem to be trying to balance two extremes.
I googled ‘How to dress as an artist’ and came up with this wikihow link. I can only assume it’s a piss take, but it’s pant wettingly funny. 

Ethnic

I see a lot of outfits like this, fine but a bit ‘I milk my own goats’ although it’s pleasingly named ‘form and whimsy outfit 5’
Blue fish clothing
I love going to art fairs and see how other artists dress, there was a group of three women at a show last year who were wearing between them; a cat ears hairband, neon (pink and yellow), tartan tights, copious velvet, and the obligatory eyewateringly bright kaftan. My gut feeling is that if you want to be taken seriously by buyers or potential galleries then cat’s ears are probably not going to swing things in your favour. 

I’m mad me.

I’m not keen on the ‘toddler in dressing up box’ look either. In fact, I tend to find that the more a successful an artist is, the less they look like an “artist”. Who knows where the fashion for crazy artist dressing stemmed from, Dali perhaps. Picasso always looked a bit like an onion seller to my mind.

Airy fairy

The final group I see alot of are the boho crowd, but it’s not really me. It’s too floaty, and impractical. I think it’s faintly ridiculous on someone the wrong side of 35. 
I tend to stick to less shouty outfits, with as much Anthropologie as I can afford in the sales. Private view at the Affordable Art Fair tomorrow, I won’t be the one wearing animal ear accessories!
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drawing to a close…

The past year

Christmas is nearly upon us and I have been reflecting a bit on the past twelve months. 2014 has been a fantastic year here at Ingleby art HQ, Madeleine joined me early in the year and has been a godsend managing a lot of the areas I’m weak in (basically anything involving organisation or sitting at a computer..)
We have built up to a dozen galleries, and showed at around twenty exhibitions in the ten month period, with one more solo to come in the New Year. I have taken up printmaking once a week, which I’ve loved, well loved etching, not so much the other forms!


www.catherineingleby.com
Camel Etching

 

Inspiration from elsewhere

I’m being inundated with posts form various blogs I follow about reviewing your year as a business, and making plans for 2015. Some of these have brilliant tips, and I take great inspiration from them. www.makingamark.com and www.artbizblog.com are two of my favourites, and my old colleague Marc d’alessio also writes very well about life as painter – www.marcdalessio.com
As some light relief from all these worthy material I also follow www.cupcakesandcashmere.com which pretty much represents the polar opposite of my life, so is fascinating to peek into (and occasionally snigger at – cannot wait to see the havoc a new baby is going to wreak) I must stop accumulating pets though…


My studio mates – Ivy and new puppy Jazzy.

Plans for 2015

My plans for 2015 are going to include more of the gundog series, which has been very popular, a lot more wildlife, especially as we are planning a trip to South Africa in late 2015. I also want to build up the illustration business which goes from strength to strength (due to Madeleine!) We launched the new website and last month and have had steady sales
www.inglebyillustration.co.uk



www.inglebyillustration.co.uk
www.inglebyillustration.co.uk

The prints are also being snapped up very quickly, I am doing a set of 50 of the Tigers as canvas prints 70x70cm, and they are proving very popular. The print quality is so good I really can hardly tell the reproductions from the originals!

www.catherineingleby.com
www.catherineingleby.com

So, Happy Christmas to all, a huge thank you to all those who have supported me over this last year and looking forward to 2015!

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Trade Fairs – are they worth the hassle?

As I’m sure you know, if you read this blog, (I have been drumming it into your heads for what seems like forever) I did my first trade Fair – The Country Life Fair at Fulham Palace last month.
I think if I’d posed myself this question on the Sunday night after closing; exhausted, grubby, and coming down with what turned out to be a severe lung infection, the answer would have been short, and possibly rude.

I’ve now had a while to reflect, and my experience was, on the whole, very positive.

All packed up – with a stowaway…

Customer Interaction

It was the first time, really ever, I’ve had to sell my own work. I’m not sure why this has never occured to me before, but generally, I leave it with a gallery or post it off to an agent, gad about at the private view, then pick up any unsold works at a later date. At Fulham Palace, I got to see how every potential client approached my work, which pieces they were drawn to, and on engaging as many as possible in conversation, learnt as much in two days than over the past five years!

Meeting folk

This is a two pronged postive. I signed up loads of people to my mailing list – though it did take me a while to work out an approach that was more subtle than ‘Sign my mailing list why don’t you?!’ which had people backing off at speed. I got to meet everyone that bought the work, and actually see the pleasure it gave them. So much more satisfying than anonomous or internet sales!

I met loads of other artists, gallery owners and agents, some old friends, but many new. Forging these sort of connections is invaluable in the very close knit art world. As a general rule artists tend to be very supportive of each other (there are exceptions!) which can only be of benefit to all.



www.clairemoynihan.co.uk
I fell in love with these bees by Claire Moynihan.

Preparation

I hold my hands up. I hadn’t thought of everything, or half of what I needed. A large thank you to Frannie (www.francescasanders.com) who was immensely helpful, both in keeping a lid on my rising panic beforehand and lending bits and bobs throughout. In fairness, being an inaugural fair, there were a few last minute, unscheduled changes so next year will be easier!

It did look stunning!
 So many thanks to all those who came, especial thanks to those that bought my work, and yes, I will do some more jumping dogs!
 
 

And the rest

September closed with a great private view at The Circle in Reading. Artscope hosted the drinks, and all profits went to the Alexander Devine Trust which is building a childrens hospice for Berkshire.
 
I mean to get this post out a few weeks ago, but what with being ill, and a deluge of print orders and commissions, it has been delayed somewhat. I have also done quite a few new pieces which are currently at the print studio being photographed.
There is lots coming up for the christmas period, the first event of which is that I’ll be hosting an open studio christmas drinks here on the 22nd november – all welcome!

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Never stand still.

Some months I feel as though I am on a treadmill set at high speed. Work, kids, puppies, exhibitions trade fairs. The downside of having six weeks off for the summer holidays is the mountain of work to come back to in September. I have spent most of this fortnight wading through paperwork, ferrying artwork from one exhibition to another, and figuring out logistics for forthcoming trade fairs and shows.

Our new Puppy, Jazz.
 

I actually haven’t painted anything for nearly three months, and so feel I’m probably going to be pretty rusty when I pick up the brushes again in October (after the Country Life Fair on the 28/29th September, no point even attempting to get started before that circus has finished!) They have been a fantastic job of publicising it, organising a very glamorous event at the Natural History Museum, which was attended by many artists in their finery! Do come and visit me, my stand is number 219.

Printmaking at SouthHill Park

As much I would like to stand still for a few moments, it is all too easy to get stuck in a work rut, and so to that end I have signed up for a printmaking course at the fabulous Southhill Park in Bracknell.

 

I have never really done any printmaking, and the equipment and range of techniques is bewildering for a complete beginner, particularly as I seem to have joined a very experienced class! The first session was absolutely absorbing and inspiring, and while I have hardly produced any masterpieces, it has been great fun, I’ve learnt a huge amount and realised just how much more I have to learn. These were my first two attempts – simple monoprints, working with etching ink onto acetate.

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Elephants, Ebooks & Exhibitions

There’s always a faint hope, after a solo exhibition, that one will make enough cash to pack a suitcase and shove off to the Bahamas for a few months. Not quite.
However I did take a trip, en famille to the south coast, and there found the most wonderful studio in Birdham Pool marina, where dad moors his boat.
Ivy taking to be a sea dog!

 It’s run by the artist Lucie Cookson, and details can be found at www.tidyst.com She mentioned it was available to let sometimes, I was sorely tempted. Could the children, dogs and I live on a boat for a few weeks?!

The view from the studio was an inspiration in itself.

Well, it wasn’t the Bahamas, but it was almost as good as….
Back at Ingleby Art HQ, we had briefest of respites before getting back on it. I’m delighted to say I’m going to be exhibiting with the Aubrey Gallery in Essex in their “Fur, Fin & Feather” exhibition this September. The ByGillian Gallery in Bourne End has also started stocking my work.

Limited Edition Prints

Sales of the Limited Edition print have really taken off, Burning Bright leading the field in popularity, this photo was taken by the couple who were quickest off the mark, snapping both firsts in the print editions. 

Artscope

I’m very pleased to be involved with ARTSCOPE at The Circle Hospital in Reading, a stunning exhibition curated by Rukshi Brownlow which places work in the public building to raise funds for the Alexander Devine Trust.

The Country Life Fair 27th-28th September

www.countrylifefair.co.uk
The Country Life Fair at Fulham Palace is beginning to loom on the horizon, drinks in St James Palace with HRH Prince Micheal of Kent this week, a huge black tie ball at the National History museum in September, they have pulled out all the stops for publicity and promotion, so I am really looking forward to he event itself. It’s my first trade fair, so I don’t mind admitting to a few nerves, and it would be great to see some friendly faces!

Ebooks and Elephants

My work is going to be published in a new iArtBook by Art Has No Borders, a very exciting new collaboration in the digital world of publishing! The book is called ‘Animal Kindom’ and can be downloaded onto iBooks.

I’m looking for an elephant to paint. Preferably a youngish one. If you know where I can find one please let know!

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The process of painting

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the development of a painting, showing my process of work, as I get asked about it all the time.
 So, here is DAY ONE of a new painting.
I start by making the canvas – about 3 foot by 2  and then I do a pale colour wash called a ‘ground’. On top of this I sketch out, in a very thin red oil paint the basic composition of the painting. It is CRUCIAL to get this absolutely right, as it saves heart ache, and much frustration at a later stage.

Next, I start blocking in the main areas of colour.

And then filling in the cows…with some help from my studio assistant!

That is the first days work…a long day, as I’ve been part of the Henley Arts Trail, which has seen a steady stream of visitors to the studio.
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NEW WEBSITE!

At last, the website is finished and published. Brand spanking new, I now have complete control over it so it will be kept much more up to date.

www.catherineingleby.com

If you spot any typos or errors, please let me know. In time I will add an e-commerce page so prints can be bought directly, but for the moment please email me if there is something you are interested in.

The studio has had a bit of spring clean in preparation for the Henley Arts Trail next week, and it’s been lovely working there, looking out at the driving rain. I did this little landscape oil sketch to distract me from the Jubilee commission, and clear my head a bit! Sometimes working on one painting for too long stops you from ‘seeing’ it – all you can see faults, so it’s good to work on a completely different project for a bit.

Landscapes really aren’t my strong point so always good to have a bit of practise. This is a view to the Cabrach, a couple of miles from my parents house in Aberdeenshire.

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New gift cards and thank you note cards

I have had these three images printed to sell at the Henley Arts Trail in two weeks time, they have turned out really well, I wanted something quaint and old fashioned without being too twee or childish. The first two are going to be sold as individual cards with envelopes.

This image is going to be on a set of thank you note cards, sold as a set of 4. I am going to develop a girl version, and hopefully a baby version, for all those notes you write after receiving gifts for a new born baby.

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Paintings And Pincushions

Finally it has warmed up enough to be able to work in the studio without risk of hypothermia and added optional extra of gas poisoning (MUST get that heater fixed!)
I’ve been working on a couple of commissioned paintings, firstly Digby and Mr. Chips.

 I dropped my camera, so have had to resort to my tiny digital one – bit of step down in quality, so if anyone has a lens to fit a Canon Eos – I’m looking!

Secondly the big painting that will be revealed in June – here’s a snip of the oil sketch!

Guessed what it’s going to be of yet?? I’m starting on the main painting next week, having just put in a painfully expensive order for brushes and new paints with Jacksons Art Supplies.

THE HENLEY ARTS TRAIL is hotting up, with the publicity machine getting going and a giant box of leaflets sitting on my passenger seat, waiting to be handed out….I’ve made a small dent in it so far. I have however managed to source and produce some really fun small gift type items, that hopefully will appeal to the crowds. Like these pincushion jars.

And I found a spare hour this afternoon to make this image of my fabulous chocolate poodle, Whirly.

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Highland Photos

A very productive weekend in Scotland, taking photos of some fantastic Highland Cattle, and for another commission, which will be revealed later in the year.

Very exciting, one of the real privileges of being an artist is that it grants you access to places and people that one would otherwise never meet. It really struck me this weekend how lucky I am to be aided by people who have such a passion for their work and animals, and who are happy to give up their time to help me. I learnt A LOT about Highland cattle and Highland ponies this weekend (maybe even more than necessary!) and was blessed with the most spectacular weather in the Highlands, heavy frost with glorious bright sunshine, creating a Narnia like landscape.

Thanks to all those that helped, with the animals, driving, childcare and so on. Best of all – no broken limbs this time around!