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.