It was a pleasure to paint Paris for a second time. I never met Paris but sweetness shines from her face.
Back in September last year I posted the story behind my painting Blue Mood Mod. Once it was finished, varnished and photographed I was able to get in touch with the rider and arrange for the canvas to be collected. Graham had already told me he had a special birthday coming up and wanted to treat himself to the original artwork.
In November Graham drove 270 miles (round trip) to my home to collect the painting and once here we spent a good few hours chatting about his lifetime’s interest in all things scooter related. He also told me he had freshly decorated his living room in order to give the painting pride of place and he was over the moon when he saw it.
It was so nice to receive photos of the painting in it’s new home and to know that Graham and all his family love it.
Two years ago over the August Bank Holiday we were in Brighton and walking along the seafront. We’d already been shopping on North Laine and had seen a few Mods and their incredible scooters, but they were just a taster for the spectacle on Madeira Drive.
The long weekend sees live music events, a market selling vintage clothes, memorabilia and art and the highlight has to be the ride-out where 100′s of scooters drive 5 miles from Madeira Drive along the coastal road to Smugglers Rest, Peacehaven.
I was taking photos as we walked along and just happened to turn and see a scooter at the traffic lights. The rider turned and gave me the thumbs up as I took his photo.
When we got home and I went through the photos on my camera I knew then that one day it would be really cool to turn this into a painting. So, a short while ago I did just that.
I toyed with the idea of replacing the ugly background of the photograph with a seascape, or arches, railings, a roundel etc., but kept coming back to my original plan of a posterized effect with black background. I’m glad I went with the dark background because I think it makes all the colours and small details stand out. At 24 x 18″ it was quite a large canvas to work on.
The fine details of the rider’s coat badges, fog lights and pipework were major challenges!
As I was nearing completion I thought it would be a nice idea to try and find the Mod to show him how his ‘thumbs up’ inspired me and I’m so glad I did. I put a post on a few Facebook groups and eventually he got in touch. He’s chuffed to bits that I painted him and loves what I’ve done and even wants to treat himself to the original for his birthday in December.
At the beginning of the year I bought an online class to learn the art of abstract floral painting. Easy, you might say …. but allowing myself to free up every brush stroke has been a challenge. Putting down a chaos layer and ‘finding’ the flowers within has been fun but not always successful. Sometimes I’ve worked it too hard and lost the looseness of the painting.
I’ve made a lot of mess splashing paint about, our dining room table is out of use and there are traces of paint on the walls and floors but I’m loving the process.
Out of the dozen or so canvases I’ve painted so far, I’ve kept one for our spare room and two are now hanging on other people’s walls, so that’s not bad. It’s such a great compliment when someone wants to live with a piece of my art in their home.
The online class still offers so much more so no doubt there’ll be more to come. Watch this space
During the summer months our beautiful dog, Elsa developed a condition called Vestibular Disorder. I didn’t write a post about it before because, in some childish way it made it more real and because it was very frightening.
“Vestibular disease in geriatric dogs is often mistaken for stroke. The vertigo caused by the disease can be particularly intense in older dogs with symptoms of nausea, difficulty or complete inability to stand up, head tilt, nystagmus, and circling. Treatment of the disorder consists primarily of supportive care and resolving any underlying cause. Geriatric dogs with peripheral vestibular disease often need supportive therapy in the form of IV fluids and supplemental nutrition, help with eating, drinking.”
The long, hot summer months were very challenging because Elsa needed round the clock help, she was given water through a syringe, hand fed and carried out to the garden with a harness. We took it in turns sleeping downstairs with her and there were many nights where she couldn’t settle; so there were many sleepless nights. During these times I discovered that a lady I follow on Instagram was also awake and up in the wee hours, also caring for an elderly dog. This wasn’t a family pet like ours, this was a dog that was living out her last days on the side of a busy road. Flora was malnourished, filthy dirty, had sores and weeping wounds, cataracts and wobbly back legs - but they took her home.
(At this point I should say that Anja and her husband are living in rural France, in a caravan with three other dogs, while they renovate their home. Anja also makes beautiful jewellery from broken vintage plates.) Back at the caravan they removed 40+ ticks, washed and treated the sores and also discovered that Flora was incontinent …. hence the sleepless nights that followed ….. Anja was constantly laying out dry bedding and making Flora as comfortable as possible until they could see a vet and try to get the condition under control.
So, there we both were, ‘chatting’ over phone messages, supporting each other with encouraging comments and both staring at the same bright moon whilst standing in the garden with our wobbly dogs.
- “We had a dry night!!! Up at 5am”
- Tonight is a more pleasant temperature for our furry friends”
- I’ve slept in my own bed for the last two nights”
- “Flora tried to bounce today, all stiff legged and 2″ off the ground!”
Skipping back to May, Anja posted a photo on Instagram of one of her other dogs. Arthur. She describes Arthur as a bird watching, tractor spotting, hat loving dog. When I saw the photo I just knew I wanted to paint it one day. So I did.
Doing what he loves …. bird watching, tractor spotting, wearing a hat.
Arthur looks like he approves of the painting and I hope there’s a corner in his house for it to hang.
Elsa is doing well; after a few weeks she began eating and drinking unaided. We found that a turning point in her mental state came when we took her to the park for the first time after the disorder began. She is sometimes still wobbly and has a head tilt, but and on the whole she enjoys her walks. She makes us smile when she skips and jumps like a new born lamb just finding its legs! . She appears to have had the most common form of canine vestibular disease – the peripheral form – which in most cases improves with time, supportive care and love.
Flora is no longer with us but during her last months she had a full belly, she was clean, comfortable, had companions and in the end truly knew what love was. RIP Flora <3
Around 49 years ago eleven year old me was standing on the open platform of the 168 bus waiting to get off at the next stop. There had obviously been some altercation between me and the dark haired Spanish schoolgirl standing in the aisle – but for the life of me I don’t remember what it was about – although I do remember surprising her (and myself) by sticking my finger in her Home Economics pudding and ending the argument on the spot. She was livid and I got off the bus.
That was the start of a friendship that has lasted throughout the years, across different countries, with never another crossed word.
Last weekend I made a surprise visit to Inma’s home in Spain with two paintings to celebrate her 60th birthday.
This is Luna, she’s a really sweet Miniature Yorkshire Terrior but don’t be fooled, she rules the roost!
This is Dino, the new addition to the family. He’s full of bounce and love sticks!
Of course, I asked them all if they wouldn’t mind posing with their paintings for me ….. just for a second!
Oh, come on Dino, no sad faces – you only had to put down the squeaky toy for a second!
Do you remember Birra from my April 2016 post Pequeño Perro Negro? (I’ll link it if I can find out how!) I couldn’t forget a quick photo of him too.
My stay was short and sweet, just for the weekend, but it was lovely to catch up again. Plenty of good food and drink – but no finger dipping in puddings this time
Click the link below to see to my journey to Spain with the paintings:
It’s so nice to meet the ‘sitter’ of a portrait before I start to paint. I always work from a photograph and if I haven’t met the pet it’s sometimes hard to gauge their personality. When I dropped off the portrait of Tèa in May I was lucky enough to meet her brother Fidget, a Pomeranian/Spitz. Even with his mohawk haircut, he is just a bundle of fluffy loveliness.
It’s easy to see why he has the nickname ‘The Fudge’ because he is so sweet.
When I deliver a commission there’s always ‘that moment’ when the client peels back the brown paper to reveal the portrait – What if it’s not what they wanted? What if they don’t like it? What if I haven’t captured ‘the look’? My fears were allayed when I got home and my phone went ping. When I opened the notification and saw this I could’ve cried.
HE LOOKS LIKE HE’S SMILING !!
Fidget has now joined the gallery wall alongside Paris and Tèa
For my latest commission I was sent an envelope full of great photos of a very handsome black cat and given total freedom to chose which one I wanted to paint.
It looks to me like Cocoa loves his garden. Perhaps he’s out there pondering why black cats get such bad press.
I love the way the light is bouncing off his shiny coat.
Before the painting left to go to its new home my own little black cat gave her approval
My next commission was to paint Paris, a 13 year old Staffie. I’ve never met Paris but I was sent lots of photos and was asked to paint one specific pose and background. The background requested was a spot-light effect, which I’ve never done before.
So I watched YouTube tutorials and learned about a product called an ‘Extender’ which allows more movement of acrylic paint before it dries. It also allows you to blend and smooth-out brush strokes. With this medium the acrylic paint performs just like oil paint and is workable for a longer period of time.
I visited my local art shop to buy the canvas and invested in a bottle of Extender, went home and practised, practised, practised. At first I thought the spot-light looked like a halo so I practised more and blended more and eventually I was happy with the effect.
I’m so glad I was asked to paint Paris because I feel it’s pushed me to learn a new paint effect which I know I’ll use again.
After Christmas I received a lovely thank you message from Paris’ Mum together with photos of the canvas framed and hung.