Okavango Delta Aerial

Okavango Delta Aerial

Monday, 31 August 2015

Exhibition Countdown -T minus 3 days

This last week or so has been a bit busy to say the least. Quite a few nights working up to 10pm or midnight. Funny how you think there is plenty of time and all these little jobs you know need to be done, won't take long at all!! Hmmm... Then life throws a few little spanners in to hold proceedings up a little too and before you know it you're chasing your tail trying to get everything done in time.

As it stand now, I've just got two last minute drawings to frame and wrap. All the other work is now wrapped in their individual bags as I thought that would make things easier to unpack and also as each bag is labelled with the painting's name it should be easier when it comes to repacking or finding a suitable wrap for a sold piece.

Most of the work all wrapped and ready to go

Once I have those two fitted, sealed, strung and wrapped then I can start on wrapping a couple of mounted drawings and the prints. After that there's all the display photo's to trim and stick to foamboard and the labels for them printed, trimmed and stuck on as well. 
There will, no doubt, be other labels etc that I will think of needing once the show is up and running, but as I am home for a few days each week... I can do those little jobs then.

Tomorrow is the big move day, when all the framed work goes up to Nature In Art. As the big elephant painting now has a frame... she wont go in my car. So I shall be borrowing my brother's van to take them all up . That should be fun.. not driven a big van for a long time. 

Feeling pretty shattered at the moment, my back problems have been somewhat aggravated by all the excessive activity on bending and lifting etc. But hey ho.... it will all soon be calmer and I can hopefully relax a little and sleep long nights. I have a short holiday of a week coming up after the exhibition is all over and I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to that.
I am nervous about the show... have I got enough work, is it the right work, will people like the show, will there be any sales? The usual things that fly around an artists head before a show...My fingers are crossed that all will be well and that the show does its job in raising awareness for the elephants, the work of the conservation research charity 'Elephants For Africa' and does the Okavango Delta and its wildlife justice.

If you can make it to the exhibition and I am there please come over and chat to me. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

T minus 10 days

The preparations have stepped considerably more and I've so far managed to hold the absolute panic at bay. My life is running off of numerous lists (too much to collate into one) There are lists for framing and mounts, paintings, prints progress, day countdown, computer based jobs to do, officey stuff, supply shopping and that's just the exhibition related ones! 
To cut costs I'm fitting all the framed work myself.... so my framer (who has been doing a sterling job) cuts mounts, glass, backboards and makes the frames and then I put it all together. I have just three paintings left at the framers, some more mounts to come and that should be it, bar one or two perhaps.
I have two paintings at the printers, which hopefully I should get back tomorrow.
I have one frame left to paint, the hangings for the batiks still to finish painting and put together, prints to put in mounts and wrap, paintings to fit to frame, paintings to varnish...... I know (maybe 'hope' is a more appropriate word) I will get there, but it is very daunting at the moment.

The production line of varnishing work

I had two paintings started and in need of finishing for the exhibition. I managed to get this one completed last night. It's something a bit different , as I thought that would be an interesting thing to throw into the mix of the exhibition. Livens things up and keeps the show from looking all too much the same.

This piece was an experiment, both in technique and audience reaction. Again using my developing looser approach I wanted to incorporate the image of the Okavango Delta into the exhibition, but not just as a map. So for this piece I drew the approximate shape of the Delta onto a 36" sq canvas and masked the outline and inner islands in copydex glue. I did this as I wanted to be able to paint freely across the white areas so there was no fiddly painting  around when I did the elephant and landscape. And that part worked really well.. I was able to paint easily across the glue to get that continuity through the image. However peeling the glue off afterwards was not as straightforward and 'clean' as I had hoped and it got really quite fiddly and messy so I had to do what I was trying to avoid, which was paint all the white areas in to tidy it all up.
The white areas represent the landmass of Botswana surrounding the Delta and the islands within it and of course the painted area of the elephant and landscape represent the waters of the Delta.

I had wanted to do a painting in a shape.. I could have done the shape of Botswana itself, but as this exhibition is specific to the Okavango Delta... that's the shape that I went with. I don't know how folks are going to react to this one, but it'll be interesting to see.

Last week I took a few of the exhibition paintings to the zoo where I work. I actually finished working there for two months (part of my annual 3 month unpaid leave) the week before. I felt I should show something of the exhibition there for any staff that might have been interested, as the zoo helped me fund the first phase of the project (to get to Botswana) back in 2010 through their Staff Development Fund scheme. 

The staff popped over during their breaks so for much of the day I was able to spend some much needed 'quiet time' to concentrate on my talk draft.

Anyhooooo... time for me to stop typing and get back to the studio and those demanding 'lists'!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Exhibition countdown -T minus 22 days

It was my last day at the zoo today for 2 months (my annual unpaid leave) so it'll be great to be able to concentrate fully on the exhibition prep every day now for the next three weeks.

Had fun creating an 'event' on FB last night. Not done one before and I wanted to tie both of my FB accounts and my page into the same event so that each was a 'host'. Brain tired after some intensive photoshop work on an EFA item since I had got home from work, things didn't go as smoothly or quickly as I hoped. Hence after starting about 11.30 pm I didn't get finished until about 1am!! So, been a bit tired today :)

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Naya goes to the printers

Trying to fit a 40"x50" painted canvas into the back seat area of my car took a little wiggling and jiggling this morning. I had wrapped 'Naya' up in bubblewrap to protect her, but that also made the size of the package bigger so it took some careful manoeuvering to get her in safely. Still, she's safely at the printers now and will be scanned on Tuesday and a proof done for me to check hopefully later in the week. I am thinking of getting her printed at around A3 size... but will have to see what she looks like. Quite excited to get her done as a print.

Also another trip to the framer today.. seems I'm going there weekly at the mo. Hoping I can get all that I want done, sorted in time. Sooo much to think of!

Spent the afternoon in the studio, at last, but still no actual painting. Well, that's a lie because I was painting a couple of frames and cleaning up a few canvases ready for varnishing. Next week is my last week at the zoo before my two months annual unpaid leave. So hoping that will give me enough time in the run up to the exhibition to tie everything together by the end of the month.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Busy busy busy bee!

Sorry that I have not yet published the finished pastel piece I was working on at Art in Action. I have been caught up in a lot of other prep and promotional things  for the exhibition and not had a chance to get down the studio to paint or draw. I have hopes I can get to the studio later this week but also have a fair bit of running around to do for framing and prints. Fingers crossed I can get back to the artier side very soon.

First magazine article for exhibition

Kate just sent me the link for our first magazine article press release.  Hoping for a few more to follow suit and help promote our exhibition in September. Many thanks to Bristol Magazine Online for putting it in their online magazine.


Friday, 31 July 2015

Just a month to go now

Busy working on framing and computer work getting various things ready for the exhibition, the talk evening and the Activity Day... want to paint, need to paint but also need to get all this other stuff done. 
Dr Kate Evans and I will be doing a talk evening on the Launch Evening on Friday 11th September and there will be a Family Activity Day with various elephant themed activities on Saturday 12th September. So much to do and time is fast running out. Just a month to go now.. Yikes!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Art in Action July 16th - 19th

Art in Action is a big event - over 400 visual artists from performers, musicians, sculptors, painters and many other creators and crafts people along with art suppliers are gathered in the setting of Waterperry House and Gardens near Oxford for four days for the public to see and talk to. 
I was there at the invitation of Nature In Art Museum and Art Gallery along with 8 other artists who are associated with Nature In Art through their Artists In Residence Programme. Over the four days  the visitors asked us questions about our work, asked for advice on their own work or just simply watched whilst we worked. 


I decided to work on a pastel piece, as I am now needing to build up drawings in this medium for the exhibition and also it would smell less 'fumey' than oils and white spirits in a hot enclosed space. 

The giraffe (female) is a portrait and I drew her up freehand from my ref photo's at home, where I also transferred her to the UArt 600 pastel sandpaper that I was using for this piece. This was then stapled flat onto a piece of board with a same size piece of board taped to it for protection and for ease of transport.

Step one was the background - I wanted a soft muted backdrop and the original idea was inspired by the late afternoon sun and shadow colours of the Delta in March. I had a photo that I was using to get the colours - a wonderful mix of sunlit peachy pinks with shadows of purples, mauves and blues. The vegetation had warm orange and green where the sun hit it contrasting with blue jades and greens in the shaded areas. I loved the play and contrasts of colour but as I worked in with the pastels that was not working. So that idea will be saved for another day using oils. So I concentrated on the peach, pink and mauve palette.  

I have not used this UArt sandpaper before but as soon as I started applying the pastel I fell in love with it. I love the way it takes the pastel, layer after layer. The background suggestion of trees and vegetation became a late afternoon cloudy sky effect as I layered the colours on and blended them together to get that soft muted colour mix I wanted. 

Now the blending... using fingers to blend can be a problem because the natural oils from the skin can darken the pastel and affect how it takes to the paper in places. Also I foresaw me losing my fingerprints on the fine sandpaper surface and possibly drawing blood if I got too carried away with the blending!! 

So I searched for a suitable blending tool (as usual I had left this to the last minute) and out of desperation, after discounting various art and make-up sponges, I bought a £1 pack of toe separators (meant for when applying nail polish to toenails) but I have to say .... what a buy! They were perfect for the job. The foam was dense enough not to get affected by the sandpaper surface but soft enough to smooth and blend the pastel beautifully. So the background was done by blocking in successive layers of 3 or 4 colours of pinks, peach and mauves and then blending in each layer until I got the mix and effect I was happy with. 

I then tidied up the giraffe head shape- checking proportions and spacings of features refining the shape. Once I was happy with that I also used the pastel sticks to block in the light and shade areas on the giraffe head in pale peach and blue/mauve.

Then I switched to my Schwan Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils to plot the darkest areas of the nostril, eye, horn tips and ear recess; followed by the mapping of the spot pattern.
Once that was done I could then start on the detailing and texturing of the head. To help prevent smudging my work as I progress I am working from the mouth up over the front of the face to the horns then back down to the eye and cheek area before then going down the neck and mane. I'm also using a Mahl stick to support my hand above the surface of the paper.

For four days work I haven't progressed very far, but that was expected in the situation. There is invariably more chat than work, so I wan't concerned with the slow progress. I was actually quite pleased with how it was progressing. It's different than I had planned, but then sometimes that's the way the piece takes you and you just have to go with the flow of it. The reaction to it, from the visitors at Art In Action, was also very pleasing, so I am hopeful of the finished piece doing well for the elephant charity, Elephants For Africa, at the exhibition in September. I am also thinking of having her done as a print.

I will of course post more progress pictures of her - I hope to be able to crack on with her later this week when I return to the studio.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Ivor - First exhibition print

I haven't had any giclee prints of my work done for a few years now and the company I used before are no longer trading. 

Last Saturday I went to a 'new to me' company, Niche, taking the portrait of Ivor along to get scanned and be the first of the exhibition work to get put into print. 

Today I popped in to collect the painting and check the proof. A few adjustments later, I now have one copy with me and another 4 hopefully to be done by Monday or Tuesday. Very pleased with the result, now all I have to hope for is that it appeals to others enough that they want to buy them. Would be nice to take a few to Art in Action next week, if I can, to test this out.

I will definitely be getting a few more images done as prints... the next on the list is the big painting of Naya... I just have to figure out how to get her there! As as a blank 50" x 40" canvas, it just about fitted into the car.. now it's painted I don't want to squeeze it in if I can help it, as I don't want to risk damaging her. Have to have a think on that one. 

I am proud to say that I shall be at Art in Action next week as one' of Nature In Art's artists this year. Every July up to 400 artists, crafters, performers and musicians are part of a big visual arts event in Waterperry Gardens, near Oxford UK to demonstrate their skills and show their work.
I shall be taking a few pieces of my exhibition work to show and promote the exhibition in September. I shall also take a few non exhibition works that will be for sale, along with some cards and prints.

To find out more about the event click on the link below. If you wish to find out more about the artists under the Nature in Art 'umbrella' click on the link below and then move your cursor over Demonstrations and select Nature in Art in the drop down box.

Please come and say hello, if you visit this event.


Friday, 26 June 2015

AFC Featured Artist of the Day

I am a member of Artists For Conservation and they feature one member each day on their website. Today, 26th June, it is me. This link will take you to the Home Page of AFC where you can see me in the Featured Artist of The Day box and from there you can go to my profile home page. 

After today there will be a different artist featured each day. So if you missed seeing this post on the 26th June 2015 and you wished to see my AFC profile please use the following link - it will take you to my Home Page on their website. 

New work

So... how have I been doing on the paintings front? Well, I've been working on a couple of bigger pieces lately as having the studio has given me that opportunity. I couldn't work on such sized work at home... there just wasn't the space. I acquired, through the incredible generosity of a friend, about 18 unused canvasses, some of which were lovely big ones. Well.. big for me.

The biggest was a 50"x60" canvas. This would be ideal on which to do a piece that would be an attention grabber perhaps, a focal point for the show... something to hang opposite the entrance to entice people in to look around. So This is the result..

The elephant is a young female from the captive herd of Abu Camp who was around 9 years old at the time I saw her. She was born to one of the other females in the herd, Gikka, and her father was a wild bull that visited the herd during one of their daily trips to the bush. Her name is Naya and she was a lovely character. During my three days when I went out for the day into the bush with the Abu herd and their mahouts, she would wander around with the two young calves, Paseka and Lorato, taking care of them whilst the adults got on with the serious job of browsing. 
The image I wanted was to be eye catching but not 'in your face' - more showing the quiet beauty and gentleness of elephants. The stick in her trunk was not planned initially, but as she appeared progressively on the canvas I thought it would be a touch to give her more of a story. 

This painting is called 'Serenity' and it is based on the young bull known to the Elephants For Africa researchers as 'Ivor'. I really enjoy this loose cameo approach and have done several for the exhibition.

I am currently working on something a little bit different, which I hope to finish soon. I will post a photo of that hopefully in the not too distant future.

Apologies and grumble

I type this feeling very ashamed of myself for it has been too long since my last post. January!! That's outrageous. I confess that the inability to post to my blogs on my mobile phone and time being a more precious factor has meant that I have favored posting to my Facebook accounts instead; which is so easy and quick to do. 

Posting images on this blog is not straight forward and involves one mobile phone download to pc, then transfer images via flash stick to Mac, adjust to size on Mac and transfer back to pc so that I can then upload to the blog. And until this year that was no problem but time, or rather lack  of it, is now a huge factor as I struggle to keep on top of everything. 

This, of course, is of no use to those of you without Fb accounts and prefer to visit here. I apologise for my lack of input and I will do my best to keep this blog up to date in the final run up to the exhibition; which is not far away now. Panic hasn't quite set in yet, but I am only too aware of the time slipping away when my jobs list seems to get no shorter.

I still have the rented studio space, which is proving invaluable in the run up to the exhibition not only for painting in, but being able to have several jobs on the go at once (something I could not do in the confines of our small house). So I can have something in process on the easel, a couple of canvasses or boards being primed ready, a painting or two laid out with varnish drying as well (as long as the framer isn't creating lots of fine dust with his saws etc) and a couple of pieces sat ready planned raring to go. 
I do love it... the studio is great, but by no means perfect... As I do struggle a bit with noise levels in there, particularly recently. Working part-time I find my days are short and precious in the studio and it doesn't help concentration when there is a grinding machine, mechanical saw, someone hammering, etc etc. Aaah the joys of sharing a room divided into rented units. The other people are lovely and I know they have as much right to be there as me, but I do find it hard, after being used to peace and quiet when I used to work at home to have so much noise around at times. The two newest people to rent are the ones with potentially the most noise making equipment. A framing business and also a jewellery maker (she uses the grinder for sculpting amazing intricate pieces). Then on Sunday there's the church service - which should be 10 -12 but often goes on to 2pm, and on a couple of occasions until 4pm. I have no problem as such that it's a church.. just that they play their music (they have a live band) as loud as a rock concert. I really do feel the floor vibrating under my feet as they use the room below. So it seems the times where it is lovely and quiet to work in are now fewer and farther between. For most of the last year's rental I have had mostly quiet days when I work there often with no-one else in at all and I would time my work on Sundays to miss most of the church service. But the two newest folk might have changed that as they have also been working at the weekends. Ah well... can't have it all ways can you :) 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Ostrich line drawing continued

After drawing up my three female ostrich, the next stage was to scan them into the computer individually.  

The drawings were scanned in and opened in Photoshop for the next phase of cutting out the background, so that it is transparent. I do this so that if I over lap the images I don't get the white background of the top image blocking the one underneath' and I can see clearly the shapes of each subject, in this case the birds.

To cut out the background I add a new layer to each image and using the eraser tool, (the magic wand could also be used), remove all the background. On screen, a grey chequered  pattern is revealed, this won't show up when I use this image later.. it just shows that the background has gone.

Once I have 'cut out' each bird I save them as a psd (photoshop) file, rather than a tiff or jpg. I then create a document in Adobe Illustrator, a design software application, to the size I need. Then I 'place' each bird image file onto this document. 

When I did the original drawings I didn't worry about getting them the same size, as I can now resize each bird image by dragging the corners in or out to make them larger or smaller, until they are comparable heights.

Once I was happy with the sizes I then played with their positioning.  My original idea was to have them in a row, evenly spaced, but I was thinking that looked a little boring, so after trying a few different layouts I ended up preferring a space and overlap in the composition. I then tried the birds in different positions in the layout to see which order I liked best. This was my final version.

I printed a 'hard copy' to the size I wanted for my final drawing and then using a 4B pencil I drew round the outlines of the birds on the back of the paper. Positioning the hard copy onto my final paper (white cartridge) for the ink drawing, I traced the main outlines gently through, being careful not to press hard so I didn't get an indent.

Then using a drawing pen with black ink I used my reference photo's to draw the ostriches being guided on size and position by my traced pencil lines. However my first attempt didn't look right, my drawing stroke technique was too varied. So I traced the outlines again onto another piece of good paper and started again. This time things worked better. The final step in this ink line drawing was to gently rub out the pencil marks once the ink was thoroughly dry.

The ostriches will 'sit' in an mount aperture size of 9" x 13". This photo isn't great, but hopefully you'll get the idea. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Ostrich drawings

Monday I did not get down the studio as domestic duties and running around kept me occupied until mid-afternoon. I want to start a new piece in the studio next, so need a good run of hours to get the initial work on, as I shall be working wet into wet with the oils and don't really want to stop midway through. As I had only a three hours until I'd be home again I decided to stay home and crack on with one of the ink drawings I have planned.

I had previously picked a number of likely subjects for a series of ink line drawings, one of which was ostriches. I had not seen many ostrich in the Delta during my stay in March 2011 and those I did see were mostly females. I think I spied a lone male once, way off in the distance. But I did manage to get a number of photo's that I could now browse through and select good candidates to use as reference for the drawings. As they were mostly distant shots I can use these for general stances but zooming in close on the computer screen doesn't really give me great details like head shape or feet. Therefore I shall also use other ostrich photo's that are better for such details that I have taken elsewhere in Africa or in captive situations here in the UK.

After a short afternoon of drawing, these are the three gals I am going to use. 

The next job will be to scan them individually into the computer for the composition stage.  I know what is in my head.. now I just need to translate that into a 'hard copy' plan. I will write about that process in a follow up post to this one on another day.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Passing Monarch

Having painted the background a while before Christmas, I was keen to start this one of a lilac-breasted roller.

When in Botswana, I tried hard to get some half decent reference shots of this species. I saw rollers often during my month long stay, mostly sat atop a small tree or bush alongside the track. But whenever we approached, yup... you guessed it... it would fly away before I could focus my camera on it. I had many shots of empty space or if I did get it in time, they would be out of focus, blurred by movement or tantalising captures of ends of tail feathers.

My best ref came on the very last day as we waited for the planes to come in to the small airstrip. But it was against the light. On another day we saw a roller that was hunting and I managed to get just a couple of shots (out of focus) as it chased an insect through the air.

This gave me two ideas for roller paintings and they could sit together, telling a story. This piece is the first... where the roller sees an insect fly by. And the second piece will be it chasing that insect.

Enlarging my original ref photo's on the computer to get a closer look at the insect being chased, showed me that it could well have been a dragonfly, or at least that's what I originally thought. So I trawled through my own photo's of dragonflies from the trip to find something I could use. It became obvious that the shapes were wrong... so my perhaps it was a grasshopper? Also the more I thought about it the more I wondered... would dragonflies be part of their diet. Dragonflies are strong fast flyers... would a lilac-breasted hunt them? 

So I did some internet search and found several sites that listed prey items seen to have been taken by this species. Dragonflies were not on the lists, but grasshoppers were. So.. that was looking more likely. But a grasshopper wasn't 'doing it for me' as my secondary subject for my painting. How about another of the prey species listed...Butterfly? I liked that idea.. I had quite a number of butterfly photo's... but which one? 

I had a think.. I wanted a plain blue sky as the backdrop...and suddenly I knew what it should be. An African monarch butterfly. The orangey colour of this species would sit beautifully on the blue sky colour (complimentary colours) and with the blues of the bird. I had several photo's of this species from my trip and luckily a few out of focus flight ones that I could use to get the wing angle and several of ones sitting to get the colours and patterns.

When I painted the blue sky, I used three tones and softly blended them to create darker tones to sit at the bottom and right of the composition with the lightest colour top left.. where the butterfly will be. So that will be a subtle 'eye puller' to the butterfly.

I had photo ref of the bird sat in many positions on branches and in varying light conditions but not in the position I wanted - having the bird's head to be turned and looking up to the corner with the butterfly. So again I turned to the internet to find photos of this species with their heads turned so I could see the angles of beak and plumage colouration. Having found a few I could work from, I drew the bird up on tracing paper ready to transfer to the board of blue.   

Finally I got to start on the painting of the subjects this week. I was working on the vegetation today and hope to finish it tomorrow.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


Almost done on this one... contemplating the next move. Again I am adding birds in flight. Originally I was thinking white-faced whistling duck, but am suddenly drawn to the idea of spur-winged geese as the white areas of their plumage would catch the colour of the low sun rays more so than the whistling duck; who also being much smaller would be too small, as I want them right back over the land mass in the image.

So, this morning, I have been looking at my ref pix and doing an internet search for backups and detail images (as mine are in the distance and slightly fuzzy). So I can use mine for shapes etc and get plumage marking positions etc from the internet images.

This is an oil on deep edge canvas (size approx 16" x20"). The painting continues around to the sides.

Unsure what to call this one, got several ideas, but unable at the mo to pick and stick with one.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Exhibition meeting

Had a great meeting with Dr Kate Evans of Elephants For Africa today, going over exhibition plans and arrangements... ideas to develop, who does what and when - that sort of thing. All very exciting and positive... lots to do, but it's going to be fun... Tis all exciting anyway, but came away even more 'buzzed' about it.... if that's possible. 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

First off the easel in 2015

I am home on leave from the zoo this month (part of my usual 3 month leave, as I work at the zoo for 9 months every year), so after all the computer work I've been doing since Christmas, I finally got into the studio this week. It was good to be back and thinking of paint and Botswana, rather than sums and figures.

It's a tad chilly in the studio at the moment, as the heating seems to be off. I was in Wednesday and though chilly it was bearable. However there were 7 other folk in  their own studio spaces in the same room as mine, so it was quite noisy and distracting. This is the downside of the studio rental aspect. 

My space is just one of about a dozen in the same room and although each is separated with stud walling the unit is not enclosed. The open aspect is great for light, but rubbish for minimising any sounds from neighbours. And it does get noisy what with talking on the phone, music or talking books played rather loudly, dischordant singing of folk with their headphones on. Then there's the installation artists banging, sawing, drilling now and again as they work on their latest piece. 

I love having a separate studio space with no household distractions, with all my art stuff in one area and easily reached and have enjoyed meeting a few other arty folk. But I am so used to working, for the most part, in a house with few noises, so in the studio I do have trouble with concentration... even with my headphones on. 

Anyhooo... whinging aside..... My first painting job of the year was to finish the little warthog piece I had almost completed prior to Christmas. This was one of those ideas that kind of developed as it went. Initially it was just going to be a quick little study of a male warthog. But then I added a few more and then the elephants went in the background. 

At that point I thought something was needed to get the eye moving around the composition. I was finding the eye was conflicted and stuck in either the top area with the elephants or the bottom with the warthog. I needed something to tie them together.

I decided I should put some birds in but what birds do I add? I toyed with flying long-tailed starlings, fork-tailed drongos or white faced duck, maybe a saddle-billed stork or wattled crane standing in the grasses in the background. In the end I decided on coucal's, as their coppery plumage would bring out the colours I used on the warthogs manes. In flight they add some action and story to the piece .. their positioning also helps the eye move around the composition.  

Think it is as good as done... might tweek a couple of little things at some point, but for now I am putting it to one side to see how it 'sits' for a while.

This is an oil on a small canvas panel board about 7" x 8" although that is, at the moment, a very rough guess on size. I will check on that today when I get back down the studio later.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The start to the year

My New Year's Resolution is to try and post something here every week if I can. I got a distracted with work and things by the end of last year and let posting slip. That is not good enough... so must do better. With the exhibition just 8 months away I am even more conscious of the monumental task ahead. There will be much going on this year in the preparation for it, so therefore I shall have a lot more to report on. Or at least that is the plan. And we all know what happens to best laid plans!!

Before I could get back to painting, after Christmas, I had the annual task of doing my accounts. Not the most fun job to do, but if I can get them done and out of the way as the first job of the year then I can concentrate on the more fun stuff afterwards. Fun stuff like planning a few ideas for paintings and sorting the reference for them. This year my account job took a wee bit longer because I couldn't help breaking the serious stuff now and again with working on some fun stuff... a few of my painting ideas that I am eager to crack on with.It meant it did prolong the accounting pain, but at lest I am ready to go with several pieces straight off.

After the accounts, I had an ad to put together. For the last 7 years I have tutored a batik class at the week long event of the Gloucester Arts & Crafts Summer School (GSS) held in July. Although I won't be tutoring this year I thought an ad in their brochure, for my exhibition, would be a good idea. Just an example of how I've really got to start thinking ahead now. My brain just wants to concentrate on painting but there's all this organisational and promotional stuff to do as well.

I'm using the Ivor portrait piece as the image for all the promotional stuff so he is the 'face' of the exhibition and there is a unity to all the promotional flyers, ads, leaflets etc. The ad for the GSS needed to be with the organiser by the end of this week. It's a simple black and white image with wording but took longer than expected as I had an issue (which I resolved) with my text boxes in Adobe Illustrator - the design software I use and with saving it from an Illustrator file to a jpg. Kept losing my border.. but managed to overcome that issue too but my quick little job ended up taking two evenings. On Friday I sent the ad to Simon, the Director at Nature In Art to make sure he was happy with it and then sent it off to the GSS organiser.

This week, the Nature In Art magazine arrived. Their first one of the year with all the listings in a leaflet of their forth coming events this year. Was quite a buzz to see my exhibition image and blurb in there as well. Up til now it was still kind of just an idea almost.. the reality of it was not yet there in front of me in printed form. But seeing the Nature In Art leaflet really brought home to me that this is all very real now. Gulp.