Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

'Run for Fun'

My blog will be six years old early next year and I want to say thank you to all my friends and supporters who leave comments or simply follow along. You all help to motivate me as I continue on my artistic journey.

So I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wildlife Artist of the Year x 2 - Call for Entries

I've finally finished my christmas commissions and can get back to the paintings and drawings awaiting completion, one of them being the hare in the above image.

One of my goals for 2012 is to enter more competitions/exhibitions and two of the ones I'm aiming for have closing dates early in the new year.

These are:-

David Shepherd's Wildlife Artist of the year which has a closing date of 20/01/2012, and,
BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year with a closing date of 29/02/2012

'Hot Spot'

My painting Hot Spot was short listed for the David Shepherd award in 2009.

For full details visit Making a Mark the art blog of my artist friend Katherine Tyrrell.
Katherine has written a post covering all the details of the call for entries of both competitions, if you are interested in giving either a try then I recommend you read her post.

Link: Making a Mark - Wildlife Artist of the Year

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Back to Black - Black Cat Mixed Media Painting

'Back to Black'
Image Size 12 x 17 inches, mixed media on board.

Following the success of my painting Black on Black which was sold at the Society of Feline Artists exhibition early this year I have painted a matching image.
I used coloured pencil and acrylic on mountboard making the eyes the focal point.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Creating A Still Life - For the Birds

The above photograph shows my arrangement for taking more natural reference photographs
of the birds that visit my garden.
I don't like working from photographs of birds on feeders unless I'm just looking at colour or a particular detail so I decided to prepare a more natural resting place.

While out walking the dogs I kept a look out for a nice fallen branch, preferably one that had some moss on it. The one pictured above was ideal so my OH carried it back to the car. We had to put it on the back seat because Cody would have chewed on it during the drive home if we'd put it in the back with her. Although we carefully checked that we weren't taking any small creatures with us we spent the short drive home hoping that nothing was leaving the log to take up residence in the car.

To make the log more attractive to the birds my OH drilled several holes in the top of it which I filled with a mixture of fat and seeds.
I then pushed one end in the hedge and fastened the other end to the rail of the decking just under the feeders.
Although the birds were wary at first they now walk up and down my set up quite happily which gives me great photo opportunities.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

This is another stage in my large acrylic, I can't wait to put the animal in but I'm making myself wait until the background is complete.
I have a few unrelated bits and pieces to share hence the heading 'Thursday Thoughts'
Thank you to all the people who bought my prints and cards at the Supreme cat show. I am happy to report that I sold out of several card designs together with all the prints I'd taken of the Siamese.
I'm working on three new coloured pencil guides, a wolf, a tiger and a snow leopard.
With these new guides I am going to offer the option of including the full size line drawing, reference photograph and paper for an additional charge.
The tiger is a little different in that he has his mouth open which I thought made a change from a more traditional portrait and gives me a chance to demonstrate how I do the tongue and make the gums look wet.
My apologies to all the people who notified me that they were interested in taking my online course. I originally thought I would have time to fit it in this year but unfortunately I haven't been able to and am now aiming to start early next year. I will email you all when it is available.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blue Point Siamese in Coloured Pencil and Pan Pastel

The last image is now completed and ready for me to print in the morning so that it will be available at the Supreme.
The image size is 6 x 8 and it will be mounted/matted in white, the mounted/matted size will be 10 x 12.
The prints will be giclee, signed by me in pencil and limited to 350 worldwide.
Anyone interested in a print but not going to the Supreme can email me for details. The print will be available from my website once I have time to add it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Supreme Cat Show, Birmingham UK

A selection of fine art cards available from my trade stand at the Supreme Cat Show.

The Supreme Cat show will be held at the NEC, Birmingham, next Saturday the 19th of November.
It is open to the public from 9.00 to 5.30 and is situated in Halls 17 and 18.

I've been busy this week printing cards and mounting and framing prints and have several new images available.
The Supreme is one of the highlights of my year, it has a wonderful atmosphere, everyone is really friendly but best of all I get to walk round and see some wonderful cats.

Come and say hello if you're at the show.

Link : GCCF Supreme Cat Show

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Acrylic Puzzle

I'm going to paint all the background on this one before I add the animal so that I don't get a halo effect.
It's 16 x 20 acrylic on board.
I prepared my own board by adding several coats of gesso and sanding between each coat. The finished surface is very smooth which is how I like it.
Once I'd finished with the gesso I painted a mid grey all over which I find better to work on than the white of the gesso.

This will be a small animal on a large background, any guesses what it might be?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Raccoon - Part 2

I haven't done a great deal more on the raccoon but I didn't want to wait to post any longer.
I'm busy with a couple of Christmas commissions and working on a large acrylic painting. I also don't seem to have had much to say recently but hopefully things will improve soon. I'll post my acrylic soon which is a little different from my usual work.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rio and the Pheasants

Rio has decided to take up a new hobby, birdwatching.
He was sitting on the grooming table having just been brushed and tidied up when the white pheasant appeared with a normal brown one following along behind.

Rio was fascinated and the pheasants didn't seem to mind, they wandered about picking up seed from under the feeders.
Cody spoilt things though. She spotted them and decided they were far to big to be wandering about her garden unchallenged so she bounced along the fence barking. The pheasants retreated for about two minutes and then came back and I removed Cody to watch from behind glass.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Raccoon in Graphite

I started this one a long, long time ago and have picked it up again.
I like to work on graphite in the evenings when there is no natural light so I don't have to worry about the colour changing with the artificial light.
I photographed this raccoon probably three years ago in Stanley Park, Vancouver, it was one of a family group who emerged one by one from the brambles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Graphite Jaguar - Part 2

I'm busy with commissions and real life issues so I haven't much to show at the moment. I've done a little bit more on the jaguar but it's very slow progress.

The birds are returning to the feeders, I have a small flock of greenfinch that visit throughout the day and two or three goldfinches together with great, blue and coal tits. The coal tits are much more numerous than the others, sometimes I can see five or six moving from feeder to feeder.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Amur Tiger Print Available

'Bad Fur Day'

Limited Edition giclee print. (limited to 350 prints worldwide)

Image size approximately 9.75 x 12 inches

Mounted/matted in white to 16 x 20 inches

£25 plus £4.00 post and packing

Available from my website, or contact me direct:-

I will be back to posting my work in progress and other topics later this week, I've just been occupied with 'real life' for the last week or two.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wolf Print Now Available

'Winter Wolf'

Limited Edition giclee print. (limited to 350 prints worldwide)

Image size approximately 8.5 x 13 inches

Mounted/matted in white to 16 x 20 inches

£25 plus £4.00 post and packing

Available from my website, or contact me direct:-

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Siamese Cat - Part 3

I've added some blue pan pastel to the background but it still needs more work.

As for the cat I'm getting to the end, one more leg and foot then some little touches and hopefully it will be finished.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

The Apple co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs has died at the age of 56.

A great innovator, risk taker and leader, described as an industry oracle who revolutionised computing.

The world has lost a creative genius.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Poppy the Tabby Cat

5 x 7 inches, to bid click here

This is the original drawing of Poppy that I used when creating my guide to drawing a tabby cat in coloured pencil. The drawing is coloured pencil on watercolour paper and is mounted/matted in white and backed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Siamese Cat Continued

I've continued to work on the siamese. For the white in the fur I've started with an under layer of neocolor II in white using a damp brush and blending it into the paper. I can then add the coloured pencil on top.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Maine Coon Cat in Mixed Media

'Black and Gold'
9 x 7 inches, mixed media on black pastel paper
To bid click here.
The birds have slowly been returning to the garden feeders since we arrived back from holiday. There are more coal tits about than usual and they are one of my favourite birds so I'm spending a lot of time looking out of the patio doors.

This little hedgehog has also been a regular visitor over the last few days. I just hope it will have enough fat reserves to hibernate, it is really small for this time of year.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blue Point Siamese

This is a blue point siamese. coloured pencil on a buff coloured stonehenge paper.
I need to darken the ear quite a lot yet to contrast with the body fur.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Portrait of a Tabby Cat and Kitten in Coloured Pencil

'Sleep Over'

Mixed Media on watercolour paper 4.5 x 6 inches
To purchase click here

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Publication in a Magazine and a Book

The first place my work has appeared in print this month is in Talking Point the magazine issued by the UK Coloured Pencil Society.

This is an exerpt from the current issue of Talking Point it was written by the editor Malcolm Cudmore and forms part of an article on Fur and Feathers.
The UKCPS website is well worth a visit if you are interested in using coloured pencil in your artwork.

The second place it will appear is in the soon to be published book ' The Secret Ingredient' which has been compiled by my friend Dot Tadman.
The book has been put together to raise funds for the Friends of Anchor Charity.
Anchor is the Aberdeen and North Centre for Haematology, Oncology and Radiotherapy and supports patients with different forms of cancer.
The book itself itself features favourite recipes beautifully illustrated by Local and International artists.
You can now visit the website for the book to find out more and view sample pages:-
The Secret Ingredient.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Graphite Jaguar

I'm back home but still jet lagged so have spent time this week on a graphite portrait of a jaguar from my own photograph.
I understand that Black on Black had sold before the private view of the SOFA exhibition which was good news.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Contrasts from the Grand Canyon

The beauty of the scenery contrasted with one of the ugliest birds I have photographed, the turkey vulture.

I incorrectly identified this bird,k Rodri has pointed out that it is in fact a Californian Condor not a Turkey Buzzard which makes it very special, but still ugly!

However these birds were quite majestic when soaring above the canyon.

Apologies that some of the photographs are the wrong orientation the program is doing it's own thing.
Flying home from Phoenix tomorrow and back to sharing artwork.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Zion and Red Canyons

Moved on from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon.
We travelled through Zion and Red Canyons which were quite spectacular, actually started to see animals and birds again.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Death Valley

Very, very hot driving across Death Valley it was 125 degrees in the afternoon and we had to turn the car air conditioning off to make sure the car didn't overheat.
Great experience but I won't be coming back for a return visit.

Monday, August 29, 2011


The hotel is very close to a huge fire and we had to make a hundred mile detour as the road was closed but Yosemite itself is beautiful, scenery and residents. Moving on to Death Valley tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Holiday Break

Canada 2010 (you might be able to see two elk crossing the lake)

I leave tomorrow for three weeks in the US. I'm visiting some of the national parks in the southwest and hoping to get some good reference material.
My friend Katherine Tyrrell posted a photograph a day when she went painting in Provence and I'm hoping to do the same from my travels, at least when I have internet access.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer (or winter) and I'll be back mid September with new artwork to share.
I leave you with a photograph from my holiday last year to start the photographic journey, tomorrow it should be from San Francisco.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Robin in Watercolour

A few months ago I painted a robin in watercolour but was never happy with the crop. I got the original out today and tightened it up, it looks better now, to me anyway.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Basic Income Tax and the Artist - Part I -Deadlines

Having been involved with both Income and Corporation Tax for almost all of my working life I thought it might be useful to share some things you need to consider once you begin earning money from your art.

As I am only familiar with the UK tax system this post will be less useful to my international readers with regard to dates etc, but information regarding record keeping applies to all.
I do plan on going into more depth in future posts.

If you're self-employed then you are responsible for keeping records of your income and expenses and paying your tax and NIC (National Insurance Contributions) You might use the services of a Financial Advisor/Accountant but even then the ultimate responsibility rests with you as the individual to ensure that you provide them with complete business records.

1. Important Deadlines
Once you start making money from your art you need to advise HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) within three months of the start date.
(However if you are only receiving small occasional amounts of money it could be classed as a hobby, in that case you would not need to inform HMRC)
If the intent is there to make a profit or you feel your hobby has turned into a business make sure to get in touch with HMRC.

Once you are registered as self-employed you will receive a tax return each year to complete and submit to HMRC, the deadlines for submitting the return are:-
Midnight on 31/10 each year for paper returns
Midnight on 31/01 each year if submitting on-line (or 3 months from the date of the letter advising you to complete a return if you received it after the 31/10)
31/10 if you want HMRC to calculate the amount of tax you owe

The other important deadlines are the dates for paying your income tax:-
All tax must be paid by the 31/01 following the end of the tax year, for example any tax due for the tax year 2010/11 (ends on 05/04/2011) must be paid by 31/01/2012
Any payment on account that HMRC tells you to pay is due on 31/07 (only applies if your liability to income tax is over £1000)


Year Ended 05/04 2011
Liability £1200
31/01/2012 Due £1200 plus £600 (half of the £1200) on account for 2011/12 = £1800
31/07/2012 2nd payment on account £600 (the other half of the £1200)

HMRC estimate the following year to be the same as the current year until they review your tax return or you tell them otherwise.

If anyone wants me to carry this on with what happens in January 2013 if the liability has increased just ask, otherwise I'll leave it relatively straight forward.

The HMRC website is useful if you want any additional information

My next post will be on record keeping, what you need to keep to ensure you pay the right amount of tax.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Coloured Pencil Techniques - Drawing Animals

One of Chester Zoo's six week old cheetah cubs.

The subtitle for this post could be 'New Beginnings' and what better image could I use to illustrate that thought than one of the four six week old Cheetah cubs born at Chester Zoo.
I had the chance to photograph the mother and cubs last week. I spent several hours in front of the glass window watching them and filled an 8GB camera card. A lot of the shots aren't very good but can be used for reference of paws, fur, size etc but there are one or two really nice compositions.
Cheetah cubs are rarely seen in the wild because their mothers keep them well hidden. They have an exceedingly high mortality rate and are rarely born in Zoos so I feel very privileged to have been able to watch them interact with one another and their environment.
I'm sure I'll go back to see them later this year.

The other new beginnings are :-

I've been asked about having a solo exhibition next spring
I'm going to start the third in my series of coloured pencil technique guides
I'm going to offer online/postal tuition starting in the autumn.

My intention is to offer two options for tuition, students will be able to choose from a 'full' package or a 'guidance only' package.
If you choose the full package I will send you all the paper and pencils you need to complete the animal.
For people who already have supplies the lessons will be the same and you will still receive the printed lesson plan/booklet but you can use your own materials.
At this stage I'm planning on the drawing being either a Snow Leopard or a Wolf and there being six lessons in the course but I'm still finalising the details.
You will be able to either work online, or if you prefer post your work to me for comments.

As a first step would anyone interested please email me letting me know:-
Which animal you would prefer to draw
If you want the complete package or not
If you prefer to work online or use 'snail mail'

My intention is to restrict this first course to six students which I aim to start at the beginning of October.

My email is

Monday, August 01, 2011

Ready for the Society of Feline Artists 2011 Exhibition

In the next couple of hours the courier will arrive to pick up my paintings which will be included in the 2011 Society of Feline Artists Exhibition.
The exhibition takes place in September at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery in London, UK and if you like feline art is well worth a visit. I'll be doing another post later this month about the exhibition.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wolf - Part 4

The second of our bitches is now in season so the chaos deepens. At least it sets the scene for painting the wolf when Rio and Clinton are both howling in the background.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wolf - Part 3

I've done some more on the wolf, the next stage is adding some background with pan pastels. I'd been hoping to do that today but real life got in the way. Roma is coming into season so Rio and Clinton have decided that killing one another is the way to win her heart. This does not create a happy and relaxed atmosphere, quite the opposite.

Monday, July 11, 2011

National Exhibition of Wildlife Art - NEWA

I will be exhibiting at NEWA, the National Exhibition of Wildlife Art from the 15th - 31st July 2011.
The exhibition takes place at the Gordale Garden Centre Chester High Road, Burton, Wirral CH64 8TF.
I entered two pieces, 'Stolen Moment' the Amur leopard in graphite and 'Bad Fur Day' the pastel of the Amur tiger. I don't know which one, or if both of them got in.
The private view is on Thursday and I'm looking forward to meeting up with several friends who have also had work accepted.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wolf in Coloured Pencil

I can only work on my horse in daylight while I'm sat at my drawing table so I've started a coloured pencil wolf.
I find it easier to work with coloured pencil in the evenings.
This is approximately 12 x 9 on a stone coloured pastel paper.
I'm wishing I'd done it as a step by step because I think a wolf might be popular.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Horse in Watercolour

I decided to have a complete change of subject.
For the last two years I have visited Bramham 3 day event and taken lots of photographs of horses in action.
This horse was just jumping out of the water which you will be able to see when I paint his legs.
I'm also having a change of medium, this is watercolour on a hot press watercolour paper.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hare - Finished

I added a little background to my hare which puts it in a setting without distracting the viewer, in my opinion anyway.
I added the touch of blue, white and ochre using pan pastels and was pleased how well they worked to give a hint of colour on a smooth paper. The foliage is painted in watercolour, so all in all this is a real mixed media piece.
I'll let it sit a couple of days before deciding if I need to tweak.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hare - Part 4

The hare itself is almost complete I'm now working on the background. I'm just going to add a few bits of grass and lightly tone the background with pan pastels so that it becomes more of a complete picture rather than a study.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brown Hare - Part 3

I've been updating my website so progress on the hare has been slow.
I'm hoping that I can finish it tomorrow.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brown Hare - Part 2

Yesterday I picked some of the orange poppies I have flowering in my garden. I'm considering adding one or two in the background using very soft watercolour washes as they are more or less the same colour as the hare's eyes.
It's a good job I picked them yesterday as there is heavy rain here in Yorkshire this morning and most of the petals are now ruined.