26 Oct 2013

Dust & Fluff

I didn’t do too badly with my over-ambitious list of things to do last week – the house is full of blind, but mended furry animals and there is a half-done sheep on my easel. I had kept all my drawing materials out of harm’s way with the arrival of Titus – since the tiny house we rent necessitates the sharing of one’s makeshift studio with a bouncy dog. By the time I had set everything out again, and reintroduced myself (and Titus) to the hoover, half the day was gone. It’s surprising how much concentration is required to do a commission – much more than any other painting because I am so keen to make sure I achieve the likeness my clients expect. My little helper didn’t appreciate this, so not much was achieved on day one. Today, day two, was much more successful, thanks to Henry’s assistance with both domestic and dog duties! I remember trying to work when Ned was a pup – he secretly stole a yellow pastel stick from my box. This would have remained undiscovered had he not then knicked a pair of black tights from the washing line and covered them in tell-tale yellow saliva! I consciously arranged my pastel box higher off the ground than usual, but subconsciously I approached my painting process of Princess Neptune a little differently as well. I feel more aware of colour temperature and didn’t start with the nose. I don’t know what her nozzle did to put me off, but I think perhaps my choice of colour has been influenced by my pochade practice.

My little helper - waiting for me to open that interesting box!

21 Oct 2013

Socialising, shopping trips and beauty treatments

Alas, only Titus has been socialising, shopping and getting beauty treatments! His attentive servant has been kept busy taxiing him around and raising funds for the next spree! Three little paintings completed this week and two of them submitted to Inchmore Gallery, near Inverness for their winter CD Collection. But, before I get carried away at being an artist again, there is a queue forming outside the Toy Hospital gates. Several furry creatures require nose jobs, eye surgery and hernia operations. And while the sewing basket is open, there is also some lovely tartan fleece waiting to be converted into new dog beds.  So, alongside some Christmas card designs, two more paintings for another gallery, and a commission I have another busy week ahead……



14 Oct 2013

Pretty as a Princess

This week I was commissioned to do a portrait of a pet sheep – that’ll be a first! I love to meet my clients and subjects face to face and to take the photographs – it’s not always possible of course. But this time it was and I now know all about my next subject. This sheep was very small and sick when she was born, and would certainly not have made it through the night had she not been rescued and taken indoors to be nursed and hand fed. She was born on the day of the Grand National and named after the winner – Neptune, but (being a girl) is known as Princess Neptune. For 3 months she was bathed and blow dried every day, allowed to sit on the sofa and showered with lots of love. She has since moved back outdoors to the Croft where she was born, but refuses to acknowledge the other sheep, and keen to get back indoors whenever she can. When I arrived she was waiting in the yard having had fer face washed and her fleece brushed. She is kissed a lot, so often has red lipstick on her face ! Beneath her thick fleece, marked with two purple hearts, lurks a lot of sheep – the result of being fed biscuits (she prefers Digestives!). Princess Neptune also likes to ride in the car, and knows exactly where to find the travel sweets. I took 168 photographs under the careful watch of a very jealous sheep dog. Whilst looking at the photos on my camera, the sheepdog quietly lifted his leg on my shiney red boots as if to show his disgust at the disproportionate amount of attention given to a sheep! I think I fell under the spell of Princess Neptune so I may ask her to model for some Christmas cards when the commission is finished!

6 Oct 2013

Christmas is coming & the puppy is getting fat

I refer to Christmas as the dreaded “C” word – but I love it really, it’s just a shame we have to think about it so early on. I refuse to consider it whilst the sun shines, but as it gets cooler and the nights a little longer I can get in the mood.  My parents are renting a cottage up here over the festive season which will be lovely and that also means Titus will have a friend to play with (in the form of Dylan the loopy standard poodle). Our four legged beast has doubled in weight and is rapidly growing into his huge feet at a mere 14 kilos at 12 weeks old. By way of domestic preparations, October is normally pickling and sloe gin season – but in the absence of any sloe bushes and vegetable gluts, I only have the cake to think about this year. Professionally, it is also a busy time for Christmas card designs and commissions and I have a stall at a couple of local Christmas Markets this year, so I’m in full Christmas mode! A little self promotion has been employed to help encourage everyone else to think about Christmas too  – I’ve got an article and advert in the Am Bratach this week, “Artist in the Spotlight” in the John O Groats Journal next week and I shall be Etsy’s Craft Britannia “Shop of the Week” at the end of the month.

some festive entries from my last visual dairy - looking through these has given me the urge to start another one....

The Am Bratach article - page 13!