Monday, 30 September 2013

Glengala Day competition winner!

On Saturday I held a Pet Portraits stall at the annual open day of Glengara retirement village where I've been staying with my mum for the past few months. It was terrific timing since I still have works I painted for my Pet Portraits challenge that have not yet been sent to their new homes as well as being able to borrow back paintings from neighbours in the village - some of which were beautifully framed!

My mission was to meet fellow pet lovers, show my paintings and give out my new flyers. I also offered new email subscribers the chance to go in a draw to win 50% off an 8x8" pet portrait. I'm very happy to announce the winner of my very first give-away... congratulations Cathy Rose!! Thank you to all my other new subscribers, it was a pleasure to meet each one of you and I hope you enjoy receiving these updates of my latest news and paintings.

Recently I've looked after my aunt's dog Buddy a couple of times while she's away and it turns out he's a very obliging artist's muse and model. This is a little scene of my mum's living room which I've painted before (see here) but I thought it had a certain extra charm with the addition of said muse draped over the chair. This one is 12x12" and I chose a different Margaret Olley painting for the wall (I just love her work!). I'm still not sure I've nailed the colours, I might go back to it when I'm full of colour-fixing inspiration.

The arts... are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. For heaven's sake, sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Kurt Vonnegut, (A Man Without a Country)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Ruby the Chihuahua

This is a commissioned painting of Ruby who I met and photographed last weekend. She's a friendly non-yappy sort of chihauhua and I enjoyed her company thoroughly. Of all the photos I took only one turned out really well because of her propensity to squint, but the good one was just perfect.

Professional help was available from my aunt's dog Buddy for this one. He took up prime position on my bed and was flowing with great tips and pointers. In fact he worked so hard he wore himself out!

Here's a time lapse video of the painting in progress:

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Pablo Picasso

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bedroom Irises

In trying to spice up my paintings a bit I challenged myself to paint this entire 12x12" still life with a 1 inch brush. My brushes have been getting smaller and smaller over the years and although I was tempted a hundred times to resort to the control of a smaller brush, I'm glad a I stuck it out because it forced me to paint more freely. I also let loose on it with the palette knife at the end. It's a start! I went and bought a few more big brushes so I can experiment further with it.

Coming soon is my next Pet Portrait commission of a cute chihuahua called Ruby... stay tuned!

“You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is… unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far.”
Alice Nee

Friday, 20 September 2013

Pet Portrait commission - Kiri

Today I finished my first commissioned Pet Portrait! This is a darling corgi called Kiri wearing a schoolbag. Tina and John's son used to dress her in it which was "an indignity she tolerated". I like to think she's about to go parachuting and with the blue background she could almost be flying free.

Here is a video of the painting in progress:

If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Lovely day in Patonga

I've not been sure what to sink my teeth into next so today I tried painting a landscape from a photo I took a couple of weeks ago, to see what might come of it. There is a lot to learn about making a successful landscape and I suspect it's mostly concerned with getting the values right and simplifying. In other words, deciding what to leave out and what can be painted in one generalised stroke instead of 3 or four more detailed ones. I started off too stiff and detailed and after lunch I went back over the whole painting without looking at the photo and just let loose with bigger brush strokes. I've decided that for an inexperienced painter like me, landscapes are probably better painted from life as there is too much colour information lost by the camera and as yet I'm not sure how to make it up. So I either need to get out there amongst the elements or paint little garden scenes. Or go back to my first love (still lifes)!!!

I will admit I'm rather fond of being inside as opposed to out in nature. For the purposes of painting that is. What a luxury to have a roof over one's head to protect from the heat/cold/wind/insects/sand ETC. And not having anyone looking over your shoulder. And did I mention the presence of certain desirable facilities such as the kettle, the stereo and the loo? Hmmm... I believe I'll have to summon an ocean of will-power to make myself leave the house to paint!!

On monday I drove up to Newcastle with a good friend of mine and we each put 2 works into the Newcastle Emerging Artists Prize which opens on saturday this week. 'You've gotta be in it to win it' as they say and if nothing else it's another experience under the belt.

Yesterday I whipped up a Pet Portraits flyer (which turned into a double-sided postcard) to let it be known at my local vets and pet-groomers that I'm here and ready to paint pets. I also needed to get the flyer off to the printer immediately so it will be ready for "Glengala" (saturday 28th), the open day of the village where my mum lives (and where I'm currently staying for another 3 weeks). I'm going to have a stall for my pet portraits as there's an abundance of pets amongst the village people and I think there'll be plenty of potential customers coming along for the day as well.

It's all go around here... More soon!

For beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, and creeds follow one another like the withered leaves of autumn; but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons and a possession for all eternity.
Oscar Wilde

Friday, 13 September 2013

Kossie, the final Pet Portraits Challenge pet!

Kossie is an australian spotted mist and brother to Ko Ko. He is an adorable cat but loathes being fenced in. Despite all my efforts to stop him escaping, he has earned the nick name Houdini for his ability to escape no matter how many barriers I put in place. He just loves being free to roam where he will. His morning cuddle is an essential start to the day and like his brother Ko Ko, he enjoys destroying my soft furnishings and having his cattachino off the kitchen bench. One big difference, he hates Buddy (the dog) licking his ears! And he loves his chicken necks, usually devouring Ko Ko's before he has a chance to get to it.

I feel like I've been in a time-warp of pet portraits and I can't remember a time when I wasn't whipping up an entire painting on a daily basis. Actually I'm quite weary now that I've come to the end of it, but quietly satisfied as well. When I came up with the terrific four-weeks-of-daily-Pet-Portraits idea with my trusty brain-storming assistants (thanks mum and Vic!) I had no idea how much it was going to involve. From priming boards, securing pet submissions, painting from photos to the best of my ability, taking time-lapse videos, fine-tuning my email subscription settings, communicating on facebook and my blog, setting up my 'books' to do invoicing and receipts, stationery, packaging, framing and remembering to take breaks and eat and unwind and spend time with people... No wonder I need a few days off!!!

I'm very grateful to everyone who has trusted me to let loose my creativity on their precious pets and to everyone who has bought their painting and to everyone who has 'liked' the works on facebook, left comments, sent me encouraging emails and just generally cheered me on. It's been wonderful to connect with new and old friends and also to see that it might be possible to make a living as an artist with the help of the internet and social media. One day at a time!

So what's next? On monday I'm driving up to Newcastle to submit a work for the Newcastle Emerging Artists prize. I have a couple of pet portrait commissions coming up and I'm planning to keep painting small works of subjects that inspire me, whether from life or photos. I'll continue to update the blog whenever I have new work so stay tuned. You can make sure you don't miss anything by subscribing to email updates (top right). Also, if you're interested in framing ideas, check out the new tab I created at the top of the blog called 'framing'.

Thank you again for all your support, more soon!!

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Jess was born at Lake Maquarie, one of a litter of about ten pups. Her father lives in the foothills of Barrington Tops. Jess is a quick learner and will do anything for you, preferably for a reward of dried liver.   The love of her life is her frisbee and she would chase it all day if she had the chance. She also loved chasing horses but learnt a bit of a lesson one day courtesy of a hind hoof. She is now a little more wary.
Harrison Family

I love the look on Jess' face in this portrait, there's so many things she could be saying, like: "you've got some liver for me after this posing-for-the-photo-thing don't you?", or "you know how much I love you, I could look in your eyes all day" or "can I move now pleeeease???"... Here is the time lapse video of the painting in progress:

Tomorrow is the last pet portrait of my four week challenge, so be sure to come back and see Ko Ko's brother Kossie!!!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Sammy is a 12 year old pure bred Pomeranian who has been with us for 10 years after adoption from doggy rescue. He is a placid dog who only barks when people ring the doorbell or he wants treats. Sammy likes his daily walks and can seem aloof especially to other dogs. Sammy loves to go everywhere with us and sulks when left at home alone. Apart from being a fussy eater we love him to bits and many people mistake him for a female because he is so gorgeous.
Ken and Audrey

Sammy really is a gorgeous dog, I got to meet him to take the photos for this portrait. It was challenging to capture the subtlety in colour and form of his beautiful thick fur. Here is the time lapse video of the painting in progress:

Also, my pet portraits challenge ends this friday (nearly there!!). From then on I'll be painting other things like still lifes, interiors and landscapes (whatever takes the fancy really) but will continue to do pets by commission. I've made a new tab at the top of the blog called Pet Portraits which covers all the information to do with commissioning a painting of your pet. Feel free to share it with your friends of family. They are great value and make lovely gifts.

If you enjoy this blog and would like it delivered straight to your inbox whenever there is an update, just pop your email address in the "Follow by email" box at the top right and you'll never miss a thing!

The second-last pet tomorrow will be Jess!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Holly is a lover not a fighter. She adores everyone and loves to play with other dogs, large or small. Just like Bailey, our other Jack Russell, she loves the beach, but not swimming. She won't venture in too deep, but loves to run through the shallows. Her other favourite things are food, her lovely soft bed and watching tv with the family, (especially Meerkat, Manor, or any other wild life programme). Holly is now 10 years old and still plays like a puppy with Bailey who is 7 years old.
Nick and Jan

I'm happy with how Holly turned out to make a nice partner for her sister Bailey (see yesterdays post). Here is a time lapse of the painting in progress:

And now here is the long awaited frame idea I promised a couple of weeks ago. It's a type of 'float' frame done in a way so that none of the painting is lost behind the edge of the frame (or mounting) which is important for these small works.

The idea is to choose a wide frame to increase the overall size of the painting and attach the work to the MDF backing board, which in this case was painted black. No glass is needed and the price for this particular gold frame from my local framer was $33. Of course you can choose any colour or style of frame that you like and suits your painting and the backing board can be also painted any colour. You could discuss different options with your framer who might have other ideas to suggest.

If you live locally and would like to go with a frame like this (you can choose another colour or style but the price might vary) then pop down to see Josh and Kathy at:

Central Coast Picture Framing
15/15 Clare-Mace Cres
Berkeley Vale
(02) 4388 4038

Remember to mention me and they should know exactly what you are after... Please come back tomorrow to see the next pet portrait which will be Sammy!!

Monday, 9 September 2013


Bailey exudes the joy of life, she is the happiest little girl from day-break, until late into the night. Her favourite activity is swimming and she's quite a water baby. Bailey is a fearless swimmer which is a worry when the surf is up. Her other favourite times are spent running, playing ball, digging on the beach and delving into her large toy box. She also loves her sister Holly, (who is actually her cousin). Holly and Bailey are both pure bread Jack Russell's from different breeders in western New South Wales, but they share the same grandfather.
Nick and Jan

This is the last week of my pet portraits challenge... I love this one of Bailey. The strong side light really helped to make it a successful painting. Here is a timelapse video of the painting in progress:

I changed my email subscriptions service from Feedburner to MailChimp so if you're a subscriber feel free to give me feedback on how they compare and if you have any problems with the emails at all. If you haven't subscribed and would like to receive an email with each of my blog updates feel free to sign up! All you have to do is put your email in the box at the top right where it says "Follow this blog by email" and hit subscribe.

Make sure you come back tomorrow to see Bailey's sister Holly!!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Ava Blu

This is Ava-Blu. She is a lilac pointed Ragdoll. She is very sweet and loves to be where the action is. We got this little girl as a retired breeding cat after she had just had 8 kittens! Her personality is very kind a gentle and she likes to be snuggled up on the couch next to you.

What a beautiful cat, I'm inspired to get a ragdoll! Due to popular demand the time-lapse video is back. I had to work out a way to set it up that wasn't going to put a kink in my neck from the tripod being in my way... I think I've perfected it now and the lighting might be better too:

For anyone reading this update by email, you can go straight to the website to view the video by clicking on the title 'Ava Blu' at the top.

This is the end of the 3rd week, just one week to go of my pet portraits challenge. I promised an idea for framing and I'm still waiting for my framer to finish my prototype which I think will be great. Hopefully I'll have that early next week. On monday I'll be posting up a gorgeous dog called Bailey so stay tuned and have a great weekend!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013


Chinook is my best mate, he has an awesome vocabulary and copies everyone's words and mannerisms perfectly. He thinks he a dog! He shakes hands, fetches a little cat ball and likes lying down on the bottom of the cage rather than sitting on the perch like a bird. He loves helping me with the gardening and chewing my note pads when I'm writing.

I had a budgie just like Chinook when I was in high school so I really enjoyed painting him and remembering Charlie at the same time. I even got out my rarely-used pthalo blue to get that lovely blue he has down his chest and at the top of his beak.

I just added a 'contact' tab along the top of my blog. I realised there was no easy way for people to find my contact details here so now there is!

Also, just letting you know again in case you missed the beginning of my Pet Portraits challenge, all these pet paintings are 8x8" (that's about 20x20cm) so they are quite small. There is no obligation to buy your painting so if you would like to you will need to let me know by email (see the contact tab above!). If your painting was one of the first five then it will be $75, otherwise they are $100. The prices include postage within Australia, or home delivery if you live close by!

Please come again tomorrow to see the last painting for week 3, the lovely Ava Blu!!!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Molly II

Molly is a gorgeous, 14 year old, tennis ball obsessed girl! She is affectionate, enthusiastic for all things that involve her, from a cuddle to a long walk, but her absolute favourite will be a good game involving a tennis racquet and ball! She will often make her opinions known, whether it is about dinner, or escorting her 'mum' to the train station in the morning.

I struggled somewhat to get this painting to work since in the photo Molly was quite a distance from the camera and she lacked a lot of detail. I'm learning what a difference the quality for the reference photo makes. Anyway, I think it still shows her very sweet nature and she looks like she's just resting after a romp around the park chasing her ball.

Please visit again tomorrow to see a special feathered friend called Chinook!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Molly of Glengara, a gorgeous 21 month old Cavoodle latte in colour who charms every person she meets with her very friendly nature and silky soft fur and her ever ready licks, she is so full of energy I think we could run the village on it, she absolutely loves her walks around the village, not to mention barking at any other dogs she meets and when at home is on duty every waking hour in case somebody attempts to pass the house.
Phil and Dianna

Molly lives on my street and wanted to be part of the pet portrait challenge. She's very excitable when visitors come (in this case me) so we had to bribe her with treats to take some photos of her... you can guess what has her undivided attention here!! Somehow though it turned out like she's having a fanciful dream about something rather wonderful in her doggy future. Tomorrow we have another Molly!

Monday, 2 September 2013


My name is Simba and I am a three year old Chocolate Burmese.  I am an Aussie, currently living in Singapore. I have a gorgeous but annoying younger sister called Poppy and Bella and Liam are my besties! I have an infatuation with socks and I love to carry them around the apartment like 'prey' and leave them as gifts for my owners. I also like to show them how much I love them by rubbing myself all over their leather shoes and handbags. I have mastered using the human toilet since moving overseas and I'm very proud of my achievements! My favourite place to sleep is on top of the fridge where its warm and I have a birds eye view!

Simba was the first photo so far in the pet portraits challenge that was taken using a flash (as opposed to natural light). It confused me initially trying to work out if the light was cool or warm and correspondingly, whether the shadows were cool or warm. Possibly because there is so little shadow area and a very cool purple half tone light... so my conclusion is that flash light is in fact cool which creates warm shadows. I think painting natural light is definitely easier as the planes of the form are clearer and there is a more obvious separation of shadow and light areas. All good experience though and she came up nearly as cute as she is in real life. Tomorrow we have Molly!!

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