Swan in pastels

I completed this swan a few weeks ago. It was part of a challenge run by Lachri in a group she runs for Patreon supporters. The reference image was from MorgueFile and the challenge was to improve upon the reference by simplifying the background and adding details.

My attempt was only on A4 and so the swan wasn’t large enough for me to add a lot of detail. But it is a nice little study.

Pastel painting of a white swan

A4 Pastel on dark toned Canson Mi-Teintes.


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!

A Look Ahead (and Zebras!)

I must have given a very good impression of having a slow start to 2015 because I haven’t updated this blog. But really, I’ve been extremely busy. In early January we got some surprising but very welcome news that we were going to be able to move house. So I spent a lot of January and February packing, unpacking and decorating, and several weeks without home internet access.

I prioritised having a place to work on my art, and an easy to access place to store my materials, as soon as we moved in. I didn’t want to have my art materials spread around in boxes and difficult to get to because it just puts a massive obstacle to creating. I also tried to get my drawing board out as many evenings as possible to get into a good habit of working and creating here.

These zebras I drew as part of an art challenge run by Lisa Clough (Lachri Fine Art). She provided a reference photo of the foreground zebra, and challenged people to draw or paint it into a new scene. I choose a natural backdrop, from a beautiful shot of zebra by Frankie Kay (via Neil Nicholson on Paint My Photo).

Zebras Grazing on the Savannah

Zebras Grazing on the Savannah

I’m currently working on a portrait which is a gift so I can’t share in progress photos. Over the next few weeks I’m going to concentrate on designing my website so that I’m ready to market my art business outside of my friends and relatives on Facebook. 2015 has been lucky and exciting for me so far and I’m really looking forward to growing as an artist this year. I’ve got the opportunity to exhibit some artwork in a local exhibition in June with my local art group, so I’m looking forward to creating some original work for that. I’d like to focus on some wildlife pieces, so these zebras might make an appearance!

I’ve also joined an online art group started by Lisa Clough (Lachri) who I mentioned above, and it’s really great to be surrounded by so many inspiring artists, especially when I find it difficult to get along to my local group regularly.

I hope your new year is going as well as mine, I’ll try to update again soon, so if you have any questions or comments, just leave me a message below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.



Festive Felines

Two Cats Napping

Two Cats Napping

I’m still at the stage of being in love with this one, it’s great to feel like that about something you have just created. It’s not that I can’t see room for improvement – there’s always something – but I was trying a few things that I’ve been too cautious about in the past and found to my delight that being bold can have great results.

I enjoyed playing with the colours and light in my first portrait in colour. The tricky part was combining separate reference images with different lighting – something I had shied away from before. It probably isn’t as accurate as it might have been if I had worked from a single photo, but I think it encouraged me to be creative and I made the light warmer and softer as a result – making the fur on the tabby, Garlic purplish. It almost has the look of a picture book illustration.

I’m so glad that I was able to finish it a little earlier than expected and got it sent in time for Christmas. Emma ordered the pastel painting of her best friend’s cats as a gift after a tough year and both ladies were enthusiastic about the result.

I hope you all have a great New Year.


Pony Portrait

Highland Pony Portrait

Highland Pony Portrait

I was very keen to share this one but as it was commissioned as a festive gift, I had to wait until it had been received!

I loved working on this piece, the reference photo (courtesy of the pony’s owner) was great because it showed off both the details of his face from a dynamic angle and I feel the result is a portrait full of character.

The woman who ordered it for one of her daughters, also commissioned me to do the previous Highland Pony portrait for her own home. It was a pleasure to deliver both to her.

The two portraits side by side

The two portraits side by side

I have one more completed pastel painting of two felines to share once I get the go ahead that it has been received. It is my first pastel portrait in full colour and was also a lot of fun. I’d better get creating something new to share soon too!


Playing with Abstraction

I’ve never created abstract art before so the October Challenge on Paint my Photo was certainly a challenge. I’m not sure if the end result is truly abstract but it was a fun experiment.

The idea was to create an abstract piece with patterns from one reference and then use autumn colours from another. I had the idea early on in the month that I wanted to do something with geese. The sound of their autumn migration is a real symbol of the season to me and I thought I could do something with the triangular shapes they make in the sky. I had time to let the idea develop whilst I was working on other projects like the horse portrait I posted yesterday.

I chose two references of flying Canada/Canadian Geese by Lynton Bolton (here and here). Of course, with Canada Geese I just had to go for Maple leaves for my colour reference and this one by Rodney Campbell was just right. I also used my own reference of rain making ripples on water.

My first attempt in my sketchbook ended up too dark, so I started over on pastel paper. Last night I just got stuck into it and I surprised myself with the result. I really like the combination of the more organic background and the bold subject. There are areas that could have done with more refinement, but as a quick, fun piece to let me enter the challenge in time and then move on to the rest of my ‘to do’ list, I think it came out pretty well.

Abstract Pastel Painting of Canadian Geese

Abstract Pastel Painting of Canadian Geese

It’s worth me remembering to have fun and experiment like this. I can have a tendency to be too earnest and particular. Loose, playful pieces like this can hopefully give me the confidence to be bolder and work more expressively.

You can see the wonderful variety of responses to the challenge in the album at Paint My Photo.

Have you tried something new to boost your creativity recently?


Equine Deja vu

This Highland pony may be familiar – it was commissioned after my friend’s mum saw the artwork I created for her daughter’s birthday and uses the same reference photos which were taken by her family.

Missy in Pastels version 2.0

Missy in Pastels version 2.0

I hope that there has been even a small improvement in the way I handle pastels, because the first portrait I did of Missy was the first time I had used pastels and I’ve had a bit of practice now.

My friend got me some vouchers for art supplies for my birthday earlier this month. I need to have a think about how best to spend them. My tabletop easel is on it’s last legs and needs replacing – ideally with something that will support larger pieces on. I also want to upgrade my pastels and try out some rougher papers to allow me to work in more layers. So I’ll have fun shopping.

I got a great book on pastels from my husband for my birthday which I’m reading at the moment, hopefully I’ll be able to try out some new techniques soon.

I’ve started work on a quick fun project for the monthly Paint My Photo challenge for October. A bit last minute and out of my comfort zone because I’ve never created anything abstract. But I’m enjoying just playing with bold colours even if the final result isn’t a winner.

Next up, I’ve got a few gifts and gift commissions that I won’t be able to share on this blog until they are received. Hopefully I’ll also have time to experiment with gouache, create a pastel portrait of my border collie and work on branding and illustration for my art business.