Chicken Four Ways

We are well into autumn now, the summer just whizzed by and I didn’t pick up a paint brush once, I was so preoccupied with getting work together for my photography exam, which is now all done and dusted.

However whilst I was in the Scilly Isles this summer I had the pleasure of talking to some of the local artists on the islands, and although they were predominately landscape painters they did discuss various styles and techniques that they had tried and tested over the years to try and improve their work. With this in mind I decided that I would have a little experiment with using different mediums that I already had in my art box to see which would best suit the pet portraits that I love to paint, therefore we have a ‘Chicken Four Ways’.

Chicken original

This photograph is of Ginger, she is one of our chickens. I find chickens a difficult subject to photograph as they are never still for long and their movements are very sharp and unpredictable. However she became the subject for my experiment.

Chicken in Coloured Pencil low res

I used coloured pencil for this picture, the small size of the picture meant that very fine detail was difficult to achieve as the colour pencils used were very soft and slightly waxy, it was hard to keep a sharp point for drawing the sharp detail (I am sure though that these would probably great for creating a larger picture). I had to develop a technique and style to achieve the desired effect particularly on thefeathers.

Chicken in Pencil low resFor my second offering I thought I would go back to basics and used a plain old simple graphite pencil. The result is a soft image that was easy to draw; the fine details were much easier to define than the colour pencil. However more thought had to be put into portraying textures to give the picture depth and interest to compensate for the lack of colour. It took me a lot longer to create than the previous picture.

Chicken in Watercolour low resFinally I used my usual tried & test medium of watercolour to create my final picture. Not surprisingly I found this picture the easiest to create. As a medium I love watercolours’ translucent qualities and the way that you can build up colour & texture that work particularly well when illustrating fur and feathers.

Every artist has their favourite medium to use, and I think that mine will always be watercolour. However I have had great fun experimenting and it was good to step out of my comfort zone for while and try something new.

If you would like to see some more of my work please visit:

September Spider Season

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September is ‘Spider Season’ in my part of the world. Personally I am not afraid of spiders, but I appreciate that to a great many people spiders (or arachnids) are hideous, repulsive creatures that just have to be stamped on. Maybe these people would feel a little more receptive to these creatures if they could appreciate the skill that goes into the beautiful cobwebs they make, examples of which are abundant at this time of the year.

webs 610Earlier this week I took the camera out with me on my early morning walk with Rocky Dog and was lucky enough to captured not only the beauty of the early morning mist but also the stunning webs weaved by our spider friends.

webs 604webs 607These silk webs are created to the finest mathematical precision; the morning dew and the rising sun have collaborated to highlight the intricacy of these stunning formations.

The early autumn sun sparkles off the droplets of water that have collected like tiny fine jewels in precise spots on the webs. This spectacle only lasts for a very short while as the sun soon burns off the dew and the beauty is lost to a new day.

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webs 612I hope a few of the arachnophobics amongst us could maybe risk a sideways glance to see the beauty these creatures can create and appreciate these ‘Arachnids Artists’

Scilly Secret…Sssshhh!!!!

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We have wanted to visit the Scilly Isles for many years, but have always opted for what we thought were more exotic foreign destinations, however this year we final made the trip.

I can best describe The Scilly Isles as a ‘Frightfully British, Caribbean paradise fusion’, sprinkled with fantastic wild life and a wealth of fascinating history. As a photographer I was in my element, it was virtually impossible to take a bad picture.

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Five of the islands that are inhabited, all having their own individual identity, we opted to base ourselves on the largest island of St Mary’s. We stayed at Lyonness House, a fine Georgian building that has been in the same family for 60 years and has recently been lovingly refurbished by Melanie, Alan & family. We were given the warmest  welcome especially Rocky who was treated like a VIP.

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St Mary’s may be the largest of the islands but you can walk around the entire island in about 5 hours, which was a great way to spend our first day, exploring some of the ancient historical sites, stopping for tea and exploring various artists’ galleries on the way.scillies 334

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Each morning we woke up to this amazing view of the harbour, we would have our breakfast overlooking the beach and decide which island we would like to visit that day. With a picnic packed we headed for the harbour to pick up one of the little boats that ferry you out to the other islands.

First Stop, St Agnes and the island of Gugh (which can be access across a sand bar at low tide).
After a nice walk around the island taking in view of the old man of Gugh  bronze age Menhir , the Lighthouse and stopping for homemade ice cream at Troytown Farm, The Turks head pub that over looks the jetty is great place to have a beer whilst wait for your boat back.

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scillies 489St Agnes is also the starting point of the Gig boat races which are quite a spectacle , they row back to  St Mary’s Harbour.

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Next port of call, St Martins… as you walk down through dunes to the beach you could be in the South Pacific with the white sands and turquoise water. Great Bay & Little Bay are easily up there with some of the best beaches I have seen around the world.

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The Abbey Gardens on Tresco are a sight to be hold with all the tropic plants, and the beaches with all the Agapanthus plants growing in the dunes are truly stunning.

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scillies 580 scillies 584The weather wasn’t great the day we visited Bryher, wild waves crashed in from the Atlantic on to its rugged coastline making the island even more special.  

The power of Mother Nature has a great way of making you feel very small indeed sometimes.

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Given the remoteness of the islands (even though they are only about 30 miles off of the tip of Cornwall) and the fact they are a bit of mission to get too makes you feel like you are miles and miles from anywhere which helps to keep these islands one of Britain’s best kept secrets.


Cool Dog, Smart Car

These photos could be labelled in one of  two ways….

Rocky Smart 3

Rocky Smart 2A Cool Dog in a Smart Car.

or lets face it….

Not the smartest dog, in not the coolest car! Rocky Smart 1

Either way I do love  my dog & my car…. they both make me smile! :o) for pet portraits in watercolour.

On a serious note: Never leave your dog in the car in hot weather!

Camping with New Forest beasts

NF 13This is only a very short blog to share some pictures taken when camping last weekend in the New Forest, Dorset.NF 08

HeartThe weather was so hot that everyone; man and beast were trying to find the coolest ways to relax. Our little ‘Canvas Camp’ was roasting hot by day and cool & mellow by night. We sat around the fire in the evening, ate great food, drank and caught up on the news with friends.

It was Rocky’s (my dog) first camping trip.  The first night under canvas he was spooked by all the noises of the ‘natives’ outside and was on guard all night.  He actually got out of the tent at one point, 4am to be precise and was having a howl waking half the campsite up in the process.

NF 14The ‘natives’ are of course are the animals that live in the New Forest, the ponies which everyone expects to see are the iconic image of the New Forest and they are roaming free everywhere.  If they fancy holding up the traffic and ambling down the centre of the road then they do, and they can’t be hurried.  Many congregated in campsite car park to cool off under the trees. I took a quite a few photos of them, I hope to use them to paint some horse portraits and start building up more animal portraits for my website.NF 07

donkeyThere are other animals that live in the New Forest too, I saw donkeys which I have not seen before in forest, and I believe that later in the year pigs are allowed to roam certain part of the forest to trough the acorns. But the animal that I was most surprised to see in such abundance was cattle. The scene at the small pond at Janesmoor Pond was almost like a scene out of Africa with the animals cool off in a watering hole.

cattle pond NF 15 calf

We can’t rely always on the British weather, and we were lucky we had good weather because camping is a great way to feel at one with nature.  A lovely weekend was had by one and all.

2 photos, same view, 48 years apart

The pictures below are both taken by the same person, in the same place, from the same spot, 48 years apart…almost to the day!

Dad Boating lake (2)I have carried this picture around with me for a very long time and as you can see it is fading a little now.  Mum reckons I was about 4 years old in this picture and I can actually remember the picture being taken. I also knew that it was taken in Sheringham but I didn’t know where.

When I visited Sheringham with my mother a few weeks ago I asked her where this picture was taken, to my amazement she literally just pointed out of our hotel window to where she thought it was. Mum thought the little boating lake was long gone and was now a flower bed.  I was just very happy to find the general area where it was taken.  Later that day we walked further up the sea front and to my absolute joy there it was, the little boating lake is in fact still there and as I said in my previous blog nothing has changed.

me boating lake 2013 bwI thought it only fitting and quite poignant that the same person that took the original picture should take the same view again. That person of course was my Mother. We both shed a little tear afterwards as my dad is no longer with us, and it was apt that the photo was taken on Fathers Day. I shall treasure both images now forever.

Sheringham, a trip down memory lane


Last weekend I took my Mother away for short break to Sheringham in Norfolk,  it proved to be a lovely trip back down memory lane.  When I was kid we had many happy family holidays at the caravan we owned in Trimingham which is just down the coast from Sheringham.

burlingtonThe caravan has long gone and this time we stayed at The Burlington Hotel,  an old Victorian building on The Esplanade, pictured to the left of the picture.

There used to be an even bigger hotel that dwarfed the Burlington called the Grand Hotel (photo courtesy of taken in 1901) next door which was demolished in the 1970’s.  The Burlington can be seen in the distance.

Grande Hotel SheringhamI remember vaguely staying at the Grand when I was a very young child. It had been converted to holiday flats then. Residential flats now occupy part of the site now.

But apart from the Grand being demolished everything else is just the same, nothing has changed in over 40 years.

hutsThe beach is exactly the same with the little beach huts and the tiny gardens that lead to the edge of the cliff that lead down to the beach.

beach 1Sheringham, in fact most of that part of the Norfolk coast  is like a place time forgot. It was a complete tonic for both myself and my Mum to reminisce about happy times gone by, nothing has changed, it was literally like stepping back in time. It’s a lovely part of Britain.

DSC_3215 grass beach gardens


tomatoes-5 fbThis week has been totally dominated by tomatoes, and before you run away thinking this women is quite bonkers, let me explain. I bought vast trays of tomatoes last weekend so that I could photograph them for my City & Guilds Level 2 photographic assignment.tomatoes-6 fb

One of my favourite things to do when I visit another country, particularly Italy, Spain or France is to spend some time in their markets. I love all the different fruits & vegetables, locally produced cheese & meats they have to offer.  The vegetables are all sold as grown, not grown to supermarket specifications…curly cucumbers that have a flavour and tomatoes with character etc.  In Britain we do have amazing farmers markets and farm shops which sell fabulous produce but we are probably not so lucky as some of our european neighbours in having the variety in our supermarkets to buy.

tomatoes-10 fbSaying all this I still did quite well in my search for different shapes, sizes and surprisingly colours as you can see in these photos.

I wanted to create a set of images in different lighting conditions, and took some of my inspiration from various food photographers and stylists…now there’s a profession I would have thought about going into if I had my time over again, I could fancy that on my CV… Beverley Caspall, Food Stylist.

tomatoes-11 fbThe final set of 12 pictures (I didn’t want to bore you with them all) for the assignment fall into 2 categories really, product shots and still life/arty shots. Many of them were photographed in garden with natural sunlight as I think the sunshine brings out a special colour quality in the fruit.  The still life images were created using various lamps and bits of rubbish that I could get hold of around the house.

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I don’t have any special photographic lights or the luxury of a studio so I just make do, I sometimes enlist the help of whoever is willing to stand holding lamps and bits of reflective board for me. I am quite pleased with the results considering the lack of equipment. Now all I have to do is the boring bit and writing up all the technical stuff to submit with the assignment… best get cracking.

Animal Inspiration

Rocky & Archie 1Having rekindled my love for painting and drawing I found myself quite busy in the first few months of this year painting pet portraits for people.  I am enormously proud when I am asked to paint someone’s beloved companion and indeed feel very honoured that they have chosen me to paint for them.Rocky & Archie 2

However there are times when I find I am at a loss as to what to paint next, this is when my own animals become the subjects. As there are a number of people writing blogs about their pets, (indeed there are a good few cats and dogs writing their own, and taking their own self portraits… frightfully clever) I therefore thought it would be nice to introduce Archie Cat and Rocky Dog… my muses! Not actually sure if you can have a male muse, and I have no idea what the male equivalent would be… but hey they are my inspiration.

ArchArchie, he’s an old boy now, 17 years old. I recently did a graphite picture of Archie. He’s a lovely cat but he doesn’t do much these day but lazy around.

rocksIn comparison Rocky, the boxer dog is a mere pup at 6 years old, but hates the camera. I can never get him to look at the lens unless I have a biscuit in my hand of course. I occasionally manage to get a good picture of him, but it is usually treat induced. His whole world revolves around 3 things:  food, especially the cat’s food, walks & getting on the sofa.

chicksIf I am not painting or photographing Archie or Rocky then the chickens get to be models. How hard are they to photograph or paint?  They are hardest models of them all, they never stand still.

If anyone would  like to see some of my recent paintings I have some on my website… only if you fancy a browse.


Bluebells Ashridge 1We in England are moaning that the weather is still cold, and there is no doubt that the late spring has effected plants. The bluebells are very late this year, traditionally blooming at the end of April early May, but they are finally out.

I spent an evening this week photographing at Ashridge (Hertfordshire), and the bluebell  woods there where glorious. The photos in the blog don’t actually do them justice, the views were truly stunning.

The English Countryside in the springtime is fabulous!

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