Happy Mother’s Day

I’m very blessed to be a mum to a gorgeous, clever and kind toddler who makes me laugh daily. I’m blessed to have a wonderful mum and a very kind mum-in-law too.

My latest project is a A3 pastel painting for another fantastic mum. So it was very appropriate that I finished it in time for Mother’s Day. Gayna runs TinyTalk classes for babies and toddlers and she brightens up the day of many mums locally, with her energy, enthusiasm and wicked sense of humour.

I decided to celebrate the arrival of her second baby with a pastel painting of him being held by his big brother. I have been busy since his arrival, so it’s a little late, but that only added to the surprise I think!

A3 Pastel Painting

A3 Pastel Painting

It’s my first full colour (human) portrait in pastels and I’m really pleased with the result. My friend Gayna is speechless – and that is saying something!

Whether you are a mum, or just appreciate your own, I hope you’ve had a great Mother’s Day!


Laugh or Latch?

I finally decided it was finished. I guess I am allowed to be a bit of a perfectionist as I’m submitting it for a calendar for the lovely La Leche League GB so it had to be good. Even if doesn’t make it into the calendar, I now have a beautiful celebration of my time as a nursing mother which no matter how long it seems to other people  will be a fleeting part of my life. I also enjoyed the experiment of working in a larger scale – it allowed me to work the pastels in an expressive painterly way and yet still have plenty of room to put in the detailed areas which give it realism.


A celebration of our nursing relationship in pastel

A celebration of our nursing relationship in pastel

The submission guidelines called for a short explanation of the process and personal reflections on the theme and I really like what I came up with eventually.

I created “Laugh or Latch?” with a limited palette of earthy tones of soft pastel and pastel pencil on A3 pastel paper. Since becoming a mum I’ve gotten better at living in the moment. So many beautiful, special moments have had breastfeeding at the heart of them. With this piece I wanted to capture the humour of nursing my 23 month old toddler. Catching each other’s eye, a mutual giggle and that instant when he tries not to laugh so he can stay latched before giving in and laughing out loud.

And now it is framed on the bedroom wall.
Laugh or Latch (Framed)


Couple of Rough Sketches

It has been a couple of days since I last posted and I don’t want to get out of the habit of posting (and drawing) regularly. I have made good progress with my current pastel painting and part of me wants to share it, but it is so near completion that I’d rather finish it first. The last thing you want is me posting nearly identical images over the next couple of days trying to point out the minute changes I’ve made.

I’ve also been thinking ahead to my next few projects, which include trying my hand at oil pastels for the first time, a dog portrait and having another go with ink and watercolour. Whilst it is invigorating to dream up the next challenge or three I do have to make an effort to bring my focus back to the current work in progress rather than let it race ahead.

One of the habits I am trying to get myself into is drawing (almost) everyday, preferably from life. I’m not always successful at remembering to do this and the results aren’t always worth sharing. But here are a couple of rough drawings from my sketchbook to tide me over till I can share some finished work with you.

The first one is of a tree that I can see from the kitchen window and the second is one of my husband and toddler son using my laptop to speak to granny (who lives far away) over Skype.


Cherry Tree in Summer in Charcoal Pencil

Tree in Summer in Charcoal Pencil

Keeping in touch with Granny (Red coloured pencil)

Keeping in touch with Granny (Red coloured pencil)

I find drawing people and animals from life very difficult because they keep moving and I can get frustrated because I can’t be a perfectionist about getting all the details right. I am sure that continuing to practice is beneficial though, both because I should improve at being able to do quick gesture drawings and because being a perfectionist is destructive to creativity, its too easy not to begin at all if I think it won’t turn out brilliantly. So doing these rough sketches and sharing some of them should help me ‘get over myself’ and may be less intimidating to people who look at a ‘finished’ drawing with hours of work in and think ‘I could never do that’.


First Trip on a Steam Train

As promised, I’m going to gradually share some of my previous-to-starting this blog work. This one may be familiar to those who know me on Facebook so apologies if it’s not new to you.

Father and son at a steam railway

Father and son at a steam railway

A3 Detailed Pencil Drawing on Bristol Board with 2B and 6B pencil and little charcoal pencil for the background.

The photo reference for this drawing was taken by me last September when our son was just over one year old. We were at the Royal Deeside Railway in Aberdeenshire. My husband had seen me complete a couple of drawings as presents for friends and asked if I’d do one of him and our son, but he wanted the image to be a surprise so I didn’t let him see the photo. This was a lovely idea but really restricted the time I could draw because as well as having a toddler demanding most of my day and night, I also couldn’t work on it while he was around. So the project ended up shelved over Yule and well into the new year. Eventually I finished it in time for his birthday in May this year.

It takes a long time to build up the layers with pencil and I needed to go back and build up the tones several times, especially on the jacket! There are some things which I think I could have done better, like getting smoother tones on the engine and getting better depth on my son’s clothes. The things I love are how the background turned out just suggesting the background foliage using an eraser and how the back of the engine and driver are so soft.