Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Entry and Last Tutorial for 2010 - Selective Colouring Graphite Portraits

Without a doubt, the most popular of my commissioned portraits have been the graphite portraits with selective colouring, in particular for the eyes. In this latest tutorial, I show with progressive scans how to combine your graphite and coloured pencils on drafting film for a realistic portrait with a bit more oomph. This was one of my earlier selective colouring portraits and I would probably use different techniques today to achieve a smoother skin tone. I discuss this all in the tutorial - the actual techniques used here, and what could have been done to give a softer result. Once again, I must thank Juno Kughler Carlson for sharing her beautiful reference photos!!
Finally, thankyou to everyone who has taken the time to view my blog. It is a humbling experience to find that anyone might be interested in my art and creative journey and all the support and wonderful comments mean more than you can know; and they also spur me on to try to improve and develop as an artist and as a person. I wish you all a very safe and Happy New Year and may 2011 bring each one of you much success and happiness!!!

Step by Step Coloured Pencil Tutorial of a Pug Dog Portrait

Here is the next in my series of step by step tutorials. This one shows you how to draw a head study of a pug dog using coloured pencils on drafting film. Drafting film is the perfect surface for drawing animal portraits in coloured pencil. It's smooth surface means that your pencils stay sharp for a long time, and so when drawing individual hairs as I have done on this pug dog, you get a lovely realistic appearance. Many people mistook this portrait for a photo. If achieving a photorealistic look in your pet portraits is your goal, then please have a look at this tutorial which is available, either directly from my website, or else from my Etsy or Ebay stores.
On a different note, I would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to all our friends in North Queensland who have been affected by the current floods. We hope and pray that the rain stops and that the waters subside very soon and that your losses are kept to a minimum!!!

Step by Step Coloured Pencil Tutorial - The Little Flower Girl

Firstly, I have to thank Juno Kughler Carlson for allowing me to use the gorgeous reference photo for this step by step tutorial. If you are not already familiar with Juno's amazing coloured pencil work, please take the time to visit her site - her work is truly inspirational. She was very generous in allowing those of us who belonged to the Coloured Pencil Network (no longer operating) access to many of her beautiful reference photos, and this one caught my eye.
The image on the front, as shown, is actually my artwork and the reference photo (which is even more beautiful) is included within the tutorial. This 15 page tutorial includes many progress scans, along with detailed instructions on which coloured pencils and techniques were used to draw this image. I have had many enquiries from other artists regarding how I drew the straw hat, and I have dedicated two pages detailing how to go about achieving a realistic texture on the hat. I had so much fun drawing this artwork, and I hope any of you who purchase the tutorial will enjoy it just as much. The tutorial is available either directly from my website, or from my Etsy or Ebay Stores.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Goddess of Autumn - just for fun

Goddess of Autumn
8x10 inches
Coloured pencil on matte board

I am always extremely grateful for commission work, but it is so liberating and fun sometimes to indulge in a bit of art just for the sake for being creative and playing. I hadn't planned on picking up any pencils or doing any artwork for several weeks, but then the bug bites and I can't relax until I put a little colour on the board and let somes ideas come to fruition. So this artwork has been done for no other reason than to play with colour and because I love to draw beautiful faces.

I do hope everyone has had the most wonderful Christmas and that you all have the opportunity for a little R&R now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Commission for 2010 and a very Merry Christmas to all!!!

Commissioned by the Coin Club of Australia
Painted with Corel Painter
My final commission for 2010 and all ready for Christmas - what a wonderful feeling. This year has been such a busy year, (as I'm sure it has for all of you), as I searched for a sense of direction and purpose with my art. The illustration work, thankfully has taken off and this helps to pay the bills and provides that sense of 'purpose', but my goal for next year is to have more balance. Balance between the 'bread and butter' work and then time to work on the art I love doing the most, which at this stage is the miniature art and the coloured pencil work, and finally balance for the people in my life, which were sadly a bit neglected this year.
To all of you, I wish the most wonderful Christmas full of blessings, love and laughter with the people you love the most and may 2011 bring much success and happiness to each one of you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Step by Step Drawing Tutorial - Animating your Animals

The final tutorial in my current series of six, this 12 page tutorial discusses how to make your realistic animals look a little more animated and provides a comprehensive step by step guide on drawing this cheeky meerkat. This tutorial also has more hints and tips on using coloured pencils on drafting film and includes a list of all materials used. You can purchase this PDF tutorial either directly from my website or from by Ebay or Etsy stores and it will then be emailed to you within 24 hours for your enjoyment.

Step by Step Drawing Tutorial - Pencil Cat Portrait

Unlike all the other tutorials in my series so far, this tutorial provides guidance on drawing a realistic head portrait of a cat using coloured pencils on matte board. In the same way that many pastel artists prefer working on a coloured surface to give a more creative result to their artwork, coloured pencils combine perfectly with matte board, particularly if you would like to do a portrait of an animal with a white or pale coat. This 11 page tutorial is available for purchase, either directly from my website, or from my Ebay or Etsy stores. I was so smitten by the beautiful eyes of this gorgeous kitten, that I have used him as a reference a couple of times for my artwork. This tutorial will take you through step by step, listing all materials and show you how you can draw this charming face too.

Step by Step Drawing Tutorial - Graphite Dog Portrait

This tutorial is a lengthy 17 pages long, with numerous progressive images to guide you through doing a graphite pencil portrait of a dog. This tutorial is also available as a PDF either directly from my website or from my Etsy or Ebay stores. It has a comprehensive list of materials used and provides many hints and tips on how to work with drafting film which can take a little getting used to at first, but is well worth persevering with. Drafting film allows you to draw with very fine detail and makes a photorealistic looking portrait quite easy to achieve.

Step by Step Drawing Tutorial - Venetian Carnivale Mask

Some of you may recognise this tutorial which used to be available as a mini tutorial on my website. I have now converted this to a full colour 10 page tutorial with much more detailed and comprehensive information on how to draw this striking mask. This tutorial is available for purchase as a PDF which will be sent via email, either directly from my website, or from my Etsy or Ebay stores. The artwork was originally done as an ACEO (artist cards editions and originals) and so this tutorial discusses how easy it is to achieve the very fine details on the drafting film which is perfect for smaller and miniature drawings and artworks. This artwork has been done using ink and coloured pencils and there are multiple images to guide you through if you would like to draw this mask yourself.

Step by Step Drawing Tutorial - Detailed Eye Drawing

This is the second in my Step by Step tutorial series which are available for purchase either directly from my website or from by Ebay or Etsy stores. Your 10 page tutorial will then be sent via email as a PDF file. This tutorial covers how to do a detailed drawing of an eye using coloured pencils on drafting film and features multiple full colour illustrations to guide you on the way. People often comment on the way I do my eyes and ask how I get that realistic glassy look to them. Working on the drafting film makes achieving this realism very easy, but it does take a little getting used to, as the film accepts pencils quite differently to other surfaces.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Step by Step Drawing Tutorial - Graphite Baby Portrait

In response to all the requests I get for information about drawing on drafting film, I have put together a series of step by step tutorials which are available as a PDF for purchase either directly from my website, or from My Ebay or Etsy Stores. Your tutorial will then be sent via email within 24 hours, (but usually much earlier), allowing for time differences.

This first tutorial is 10 pages long and guides you, with step by step images, on how to do a graphite portrait of an infant using graphite pencil on drafting film. One of the advantages of working with the film is the ability to create very soft shading with an almost seamless result. However, the drafting film is quite different to any other surface I have worked on, and is not without it's challenges. This tutorials provides tips and hints that I hope will make the process a little easier.

My aim is to produce further tutorials down the track and I would love to hear from any bloggers who have suggestions about what they would like to see covered in a tutorial.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A few commissions

Black Rhino
Commissioned by the Coin Club of Australia
Painted with Corel Painter
5x7 inches
Coloured pencil on drafting fiilm

Isn't this a crazy time of year!!! I can see from everyone's blogs that you are all madly trying to complete commissions for clients for Christmas. Here are a few that I have been working on over the last week or two and I am hoping that I have only one more commission to complete before taking some time off for the summer holidays. Hopefully then, I can catch up on all my sadly neglected internet sharing and blogging and commenting. But I know you all understand!!! :)

Step by Step tutorials

Some of you may recognise Fry on the cover of this months issue of Fine Art and Decorative Painting and inside you will find a step by step tutorial on how to draw him.
After some discussion with the editor of the Fine Art & Decorative Painting magazine and after rereading through my contract with them, I have since discovered that I can actually sell copies of these tutorials from my website, so long as the wording is all my own. So, from early next year, I will be posting all the tutorials created so far (and hopefully some more to follow) for sale as a download from my website. If you have something in particular that you would like to see in a tutorial, please don't hesitate to contact me and I will see if I can create a tutorial to suit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lotus Moon Illustration and an update on the finch chicks

Lotus Moon
Commissioned Illustration
Corel Painter
Here is one of my latest commissions and also an update on the little finch chicks that I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs. Sadly, one of the chicks died a few days after my last entry. Then on the weekend, my Mum rang me in tears because her beloved cat had died suddenly, and since it has only been a couple of years since Dad died, her two cats were her constant comfort. Mum lives over 1000kms away, and my heart ached for her, so I jumped on a plane to pop up and give her a hug and some cheer, and left behind strict instructions with all the family on how to take care of the finch chicks. Sunday morning I rang the family to see how all was going, and they vehemently reassured me that they had followed my instructions to a 'T', but unfortunately the two remaining chicks died on Saturday night. I was so sad - they had reached the stage where they were covered in feathers apart from their head and they would sit up and chirp every time I walked past their little cage, but in the end it just wasn't meant to be! :(

Monday, November 15, 2010


Little Tood
8x10 inch Commissioned Portrait
Coloured pencils on Terracotta Matte Board

Even though I have enjoyed the challenge of working digitally lately, I didn't realise how much I missed by beloved coloured pencils until I started working on this portrait. It is lovely to work on something tangible and watch a blank canvas evolve before your eyes. I was a bit unsure about this portrait at first when I saw the reference photo, as the front paws loomed larger than life, but the client reassured me that he wanted it just like that. As, I got into the portrait, it was the look of sheer contentment that showed on Little Tood's face, as he enjoyed his long stretch, that struck me more than the paws in front, so hopefully this is apparent to others who view this portrait too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hand rearing baby finches

No artwork today - although I have several jobs on the go - none are ready to post.
My husband often muses how much more time I would have each day if we didn't have a menagerie of pets, but I love being surrounded by critters and tending to them never feels like a chore. Three years ago, we bought a pair of zebra finches for our aviary and every 6-7 weeks since they have produced a batch of between 3-7 chicks, which we give away to our local birdshop.
Zebra finches are such good parents and I would watch them in fascination, as they took turns in relay, tending to their young and feeding each other. Earlier this week, the mother finch died. She left behind a nest full of young chicks which the father finch valiantly tried to rear himself. I bought him a new girlfriend in the hope that she might help him out - but raising chicks wasn't her thing. Sadly, raising the chicks by himself took its toll on the father finch and three days later he died too. That left me to play the role of Mum Finch. When I retrieved the nest, there were actually five little chicks, but two had already died, probably from dehydration as the father just couldn't feed them near the end. So now I have been playing Mum Finch for three days, giving the chicks formula via a syringe every couple of hours, and so far so good!!! Fingers crossed, they will continue to do well and thrive. They do look a little ugly at this stage, but another week, when they are covered with feathers and they will look very cute. You can see the little sacs either side of their spine full of formula - (I probably over feed them a bit, but they seem to be doing well).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Orangutan Commission

This is the second in a series of illustrations commissioned by the Coin Club of Australia for a series, which I can talk about more after the release date. It's funny how much more observant you become when you draw, paint or illustrate some aspect of our world. I always thought Orangutans were rather strange looking primates, but after researching them for this job I have a new appreciation for the glorious shades of red in their hair and their charming, human like qualities. Being an A type personality, having a busy, stressful job in nursing and raising four boys, I was often too busy before to stop and smell the roses and tended to rush through life without really SEEING things. Since allowing my art to become a much greater focus, I have a renewed appreication of the world around us and find myself studying tree trunks and sky colours, and people with interesting faces in a way I never would before.
Every single day I am grateful for the gift of art (and for my beautiful family)!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Polar Bears Illustration

Polar Bears
Commissioned Illustration
Painted with Corel Painter on a Wacom Cintiq display
This is my second illustration for the Coin Club of Australia. At this stage, I can't reveal too much information about these coins until after their release date (which I didn't quite realise before, and that is why my previous blog entry shrank a bit during the week). I am thoroughly enjoying working digitally, but there are times, such as this week, where I miss the simplicity of picking up a pencil.
I decided, since it looks like much of my commission work will be digital illustrations, to purchase a Wacom Cintiq tablet, which allows you to draw directly on the display screen, whereas with the Bamboo tablet, you are drawing on a tablet whilst looking at a computer screen and this takes a bit of co-ordination. I was so excited when the Cintiq arrived on Wednesday, only to find that the power pack supplied was faulty - rang Wacom and was assured one would be sent the next day. When no power pack arrived next day, I rang again (with steam coming out of my ears) and they arranged to courier me a new pack. It arrived late Thursday, but now I had problems getting Corel to open up on the Cintiq display and it wouldn't maximise without shutting down.
After spending about four hours on the phone to Wacom and Corel, uninstalling both Corel and the tablet and reinstalling both, the problem was finally resolved. And so today, I was able to complete the illustration that was started last Monday. Had I done this illustration in pencil, it would have been finished last Tuesday!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Commemmorative Coin Commission - Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog
Painted with Corel painter

I was approached last week to do a series of illustrations for commemorative coins for the Australian Coin Club. In so many ways, this is the kind of project I love to work on the most.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Dilemma

11x14 inches
Coloured pencils on matte board

After redoing this sample illustration for Macmillan Publishers three times this week (about 30 hours work), I received word today that they have decided not to proceed as they feel this illustration lacks the drama and movement that they are looking for. My overwhelming feeling was one of sheer relief. My family will vouch that I have been a huge stress head and quite challenging to live with whilst working on this project. It has been a goal of mine to try and move more into the area of illustration, but I am starting to have second thoughts. I did struggle with this picture, because those of you familiar with my art would know that I prefer to work on themes that are tender, and gentle, as opposed to dramatic and violent. When working on portraits, and whatever art projects take my fancy, I am generally quite at peace, but the main problem is the unpredictability of the income. Whilst working on Saxon today (and being quite at peace), I started to reevaluate the direction that I am going. One of the main reasons I left nursing was to have the opportunity to work doing something that I love and still have time to be the best possible Mum and wife I could be (I certainly wouldn't have fitted that description this week!) without feeling stressed a lot of the time. My dilemma therefore, is whether to keep striving for a career in illustration and the potential for a better income, or to keep pottering away as I have been. Life is never simple!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Please help me :)

Two blogs in one day - I'm on a roll. But actually I am asking a favour of my fellow bloggers. This is my entry for the upcoming Illustrators Australia exhibition and features our youngest son Sam, who has a particular fascination for dragons and dinosaurs. I wanted to try and capture the magic and wonder of childhood in this illustration, but I am stumped when it comes to giving it a title. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. This is another digital illustration, done with corel painter and photoshop.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sample illustration - Life Cycle of the Green Sea Turtle

Life Cycle of the Green Sea Turtle - attacked by a shark
Painted with a Wacom table, Corel Painter and photoshop
I must apologize, firstly to my blogger friends as I know I have got tardier lately with my blogging and checking out what all my talented fellow artists have been up to. Lately, I am happy to say, my workload has increased substantially, both with commissions and illustration work, and so between this increase in work volume, and also trying to still be a good Mum and wife, it doesn't leave a lot of time left over. This is another sample illustration for Macmillan Publishers, for a children's reference book on the life cycle of Green Sea Turtles, which if approved will lead to the commissioning of illustrations for two books.
I am still very much a novice at digital artwork, but definitely find this the most efficient way of working when doing illustrations. Whilst it still takes me the same amount of time to create an illustration digitally, as by conventional mediums, it makes any inevitable amendments that need to be made so much easier. I can't imagine doing this illustration in watercolours, or coloured pencil and then having to redo the whole thing because some aspects were not suitable. I do find that many people view digital art with suspicion, and in many circles it is not regarded as a legitimate art form. For the purpose of illustration work however, it is an absolute blessing and is somehow very liberating, as I am not overwhelmed with the endless fear that I am going to 'stuff it up' and thereby ruin hours of work.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Final illustration in Platypus Life Cycle Series

Life Cycle of a Platypus - Mother nursing her babies.
This is the final illustration for the series of four on the life cycle of the Platypus for Macmillan Publishers. It is amazing how few reference photos there are for platypus even on-line, which is obviously why Macmillan had to call on the services of an illustrator, however I did a fair bit of research for the project and hopefully have achieved some level of accuracy. These illustrations will actually be within small circular frames, so they will be cropped further, but so long as the kids get the general idea. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More Platypus Life Cycle Illustrations

Platypus mother lays her eggs in a burrow

Two adult platypus mating

I'm having a very constructive weekend in terms of work. We have a labour day long weekend, and so far the weather has been quite wet and miserable (which I really love) and all the men in our house spent yesterday glued to the TV watching the AFL Grand final and then today watching the NRL Grand Final, which left me with not much to do but work. These illustrations aren't due until Friday, but happily I am now well ahead of schedule and only have one more to complete, which means I can also spend some quality time with the kids during the school holidays this week. Both these illustrations were done using Corel painter and

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Step by step Tutorial - Graphite Portrait of a Dog

Volume 18 No.2 edition of Fine Art and Decorative Painting includes my step by step tutorial on doing a dog portrait in graphite pencil on drafting film and is now available from most newsagents. The subject for this tutorial is a stunning dog called Burton and the client kindly gave her permission for me to use him for the article.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Platypus Life Cycle Illustration

Platypus Life Cycle - Young Platypus swimming freely
Drawn with Corel Painter and Photoshop
This illustration is part of a series of four I will be doing for Macmillan Publishers for a book educating young children on Australian Animals. The life cycles of all the other Australian Animals have been depicted using photos, but the platypus lays it's eggs in deep burrows and are extremely sensitive, so getting photos in this instance is much more difficult. Platypus are also extremely hard to find in the wild. I have seen a couple at Taronga Zoo, but because they are nocturnal mammals, the tank was in darkness with only a touch of light and no flash photography was allowed. The only other time I have seen them is in a sanctuary in Tasmania, where they were swimming freely in a creek. We visited Jenolan Caves on Sunday, and there is a beautiful walk along a creek bed where platypus have been spotted, but they were all very shy and didn't appear whilst we were there (having four noisy boys in tow probably didn't help!).
They are the most fascinating animals and researching them for this particular job has been an intriguing exercise.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Commissioned Illustration - Bass

8x10 inches
Coloured pencils on drafting film
Something different this time which took me a little out of my comfort zone, being more used to doing creatures with fur than scales, but I always love to try something new. The client gave me the freedom to work in whichever medium I chose, and whilst I have really enjoyed painting lately, I find nothing beats the coloured pencil on drafting film for finer details. Apart from that, I haven't much to add, and hope everyone is having a wonderful week!!!! :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

A successful day

No images today, as the commission I am working on is of a little baby that has passed. These commissions are always very special to me, but I never post them on the web for obvious reasons. Last night was a busy night, with the opening of the Blacktown City Art Exhibition, where I was honoured to find that I had been awarded a Highly Commended for 'A Life Well Spent', and also to see that the Council had acquired this artwork. We then left and drove to another exhibition opening night, and I discovered that 'The Artist or the Subject' had sold. Last night was also the opening for the Illustrator's Australia exhbition, and I am delighted to see that 'Untold Story' has sold. It never rains but it pours, as the saying goes, is so true. I can go weeks and not sell a single artwork, nor get any commissions, and then all of a sudden there are lovely days like yesterday, where you rejoice that people like your art enough to part with their hard earned dollars, and that is a great feeling!!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Make Me Smile

You Make Me Smile
8x10 inches
Watercolours and acrylics on Canson Mi Teintes Tex Card
I really should have been working on a commission today, but sometimes the urge to be creative overwhelms everything else and I really had a compulsion to have some fun and play with colour. I took a litter of 8 little baby mice off to the pet shop on Monday, and so before Mum and Dad get too busy with another litter, they kindly indulged me with a bit of modelling for a photo shoot last night. Somehow, my art always comes back to the theme of mice - I just love drawing and painting them and their endearing little faces. I hope this brings a smile to your faces :))

Saturday, September 11, 2010


8x10 inches
Acrylics on Canson Mi Teintes Tex Card
This was the commission I completed a few weeks ago, when experimenting with a few different mediums and finally settled on the acrylics. This portrait was another example of where I was given a wonderful reference photo to work with, which made my job so much more enjoyable. A delightful looking littel girl, and because the photo was taken outside, there are beautiful reflections in her eyes which really add to her portrait. So, many of the same principals I outlined in my last blog for taking good reference photos for pet portraits also apply when taking photos for people portraits.

Taking Good Reference Photos for Pet Portraits

8x10 inches
Acrylics on Canson Mi-Teintes Tex card

I wanted to show these two reference photos as a guide to show how to get the best reference photos for your commissioned portraits. Both of these photos were sent by the same client, and without a doubt, I knew straight away that the photo on the left would be perfect and yet the photo on the right is probably more typical of the kind of reference photos I am often sent.

The reasons the photo on the left is so much better include:

The dog is at eye level - I am often sent photos where the owner is standing over their pet, and looking down on them, but as you can see in this composition, with the dog sitting on the table, that it is so much more pleasing and somehow gives the animal ownership of the portrait, rather than looking submissive.

There is a natural light source coming from one side of the pet - Natural light is almost always better than flashlight, and in particular in this case, where you have a strong natural light source from the window contrasting with the darker shadows behind the dog. Your portrait will be so much more interesting if you can achieve these contrasts in your lighting. Portrait artists can usually make some improvements to a photo, such as removing flashlight from the eyes, but creating a masterpiece from an average photo is usually beyond most of us mere mortal artists.
It is especially important to have a contrast of lighting if your pet is either all white, or all black, as it then becomes even more important to seek out any highlights or shadows which will prevent the portrait from looking flat.

Try to avoid front on photos. Your portrait will be far more pleasing if your pet is positioned on an angle. Clients often spend hours trying to get their reluctant pets to look at the camera, thinking that this will make the best photo, but in a lot of cases this only creates foreshortening of their facial features, and creates a dull image. If you would prefer to have your pet looking at the camera, try to have them sitting side on, and encourage them to turn their head toward the camera. Don't be afraid to experiment with different angles. Often the animals will avoid looking at the camera because of the flashlight, but don't be disheartened - be imaginitive and you may find your portrait looks much better anyway!!!

If at all possible avoid using a flash!!! The two best options are to position your pet near a natural light source as in the photo above, or else take your pet outside for the photo. When taking the photo outside, it is also ideal to try to aim for some contrasts in lighting so perhaps sitting your pet near a shady tree. Flash light creates unnatural lighting and taking the photo indoors without good lighting will make it hard to capture accurately the colour of your pet's coat and eyes.

Whilst this may seem like a lot of effort to go to, it really is worth it if you would like the best possible portrait of your precious pet.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Casanova II

Casanova II
10x14 inches
Acrylics on Canson Mi-Teintes Tex Paper
What a marathon week. This painting took much longer than I had anticipated and what a joy to finally complete it!!! I really wasn't blessed with the patience to work on projects that take longer than a day or two. I remember the first time I painted this peacock a few years ago, that it took me 3 months to complete and I was so over it by the end. But I have a special passion for peacocks and wanted to challenge myself to paint a larger piece.
Apart from that we found our darling pet dog Chelsea (Chinese Crested Powder Puff) dragging her hind legs on Wednesday night and discovered she has slipped a disc in her spine which has left her partially paralysed. Hopefully with anti-inflammatories and by keeping the poor thing caged for the next month or two, her spine will heal and she will get back full mobility. She looks at me with such sad eyes through her cage - I think she feels she is being punished for something and my heart goes out to her. Animals are so much more resilient than people.
With all this and the mother of a dear friend dying suddenly, I know I am sadly behind on my blogging, but hope to catch up in the next few days. Happy Father's day to all the Dad's out there for tomorrow (although I think some of you in the US etc. celebrate Father's day at a different time of year) and will check out all your blogs soon :))

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Retrieving Deleted Data

No pics today - just some advice for anyone who ever, like me, accidentally deleted some valuable photos and reference material. Last week, one of my boys needed a Flash Drive urgently and thinking I had already saved the 400mb of photos on this device to a CD, I quickly deleted all the files and then promptly emptied the Recycle Bin. This week, I went searching for one of my reference photos of a peacock, only to realise that all those photos were not stored anywhere else. Time to PANIC!!! Or to go on-line and do a search (thank God for the internet). I came across a program called Uneraser. Many of you may of heard of it, but I never had, and tentatively downloaded the trial version. I then popped the Flash Drive into the USB port and ran the Uneraser software. Up came all the photos I had deleted, however to retrieve them and save them to the computer, you do have to buy the full version which was $45AUD (around $40USD), but in my mind that was money well spent. I was so happy to have all my precious images back and promptly copied them to two CD's. :))

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jack II Portrait, a couple of awards and a Tutorial

8x10 inches
Acrylics on Canson Mi-Teintes Tex Card

I promised by brother and sister-in-law that I would do a portrait of their gorgeous little son Jack when he was first born, and he turns one next week, so here it is (better late than never)
I was thrilled to get a couple of awards in the miniature section of the Art Exhibition at the Penrith Show and the Penrith City Council Encouragement award for 'A Life Well Spent' and 'Carnivale Juggler' this week.

For anyone interested in step by step tutorials on working in pencil on drafting film, the tutorial for drawing this eye came out last week in Fine Arts and Decorative Painting magazine, Vol 17 No. 12.
I helped out at the youngest fellow's athletics carnival today, so that's all from me - I'm dead on my feet!!! Cheers to all :))

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baby Self Portrait

Baby Self Portrait
8x10 inch
Acrylics and some pastels on Canson Mi-Teintes Tex Card
This portrait was really done for a challenge for the portraiture group on RedBubble. I like this one much better than my adult self portrait, and I bet you can tell from the portrait, that it was quite an OLD reference photo - LOL!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Acrylic Portraits - Steph

8x10 inches
Acrylics on Canson Mi-teintes Tex paper (with a hint of coloured pencil and pan pastels)
This was my second portrait using acrylics, and was actually a little more challenging than the first because of the dark skin tones from the cast shadows. I always prefer doing softer, lighter skin tones, but couldn't resist using this beautiful reference photo of my Goddaughter Steph, who actually turned 18 last week. How time flies!!! This portrait will the first used as a sample for my painted portrait listings.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Unlocking Old Secrets

Unlocking Old Secrets
9x5 inches
Acylics on Plywood
This is my entry for the 2010 9x5 Illustrator's Australia Exhibition, where the theme is 'Untold Stories'.
Well, we all know it is a woman's perogative to change her mind, so after several weeks of experimenting and pulling my hair out, I have now decided to offer commissioned portraits in acrylics, rather than coloured or graphite pencil, I redid a commissioned portrait a couple of times last week for a very patient client, and whilst unfortunately I can't post the image at this stage, I was really happy with the results. I will spend this week doing a few more to include with my listings. Being an artist is never dull!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Self Portrait II

Self Portrait II
8x10 inches
Coloured pencil, pastel, graphite pencil on paper
In the last week, I have redone this self portrait about 6 or 7 times on all different supports, (I am so fed up with it and hope I never have to draw it again!!!), as I am looking to change my style a bit with the commissioned portrait work, opting for a softer look. The drafting film is wonderful for achieving smooth skin for portraits when working with graphite, but I often ran into problems at the point of applying fixative, and had to redo several portraits as a result. When it comes to working with coloured pencils, it was much harder to get a nice smooth skin tone on the drafting film, and so I spent a rather frustrating week shuffling between the art shop and the easel in the search for that elusive support that would solve all problems. I must give a huge thanks to Bec Winnel - an extremely talented artist I came across on RedBubble, who does the most beautiful, etherial illustrations of women, and was kind enough to share some of her tips. She works on Epson Archival Matte paper and I was amazed to find how well this surface grabs the pastel powder. It also accepts coloured pencil and graphite very well, and happily there are no issues when applying fixative. The biggest problem I had with this artwork was getting an effective scan - the original is very soft, but for some reason the scanner didn't like that and gave it a dirty, grey appearance, so this image has been altered digitally in an attempt to match the original.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Art or Real - The Money Box

Art or Real - The Money Box
8 x 11 inches
Coloured pencil on drafting film
I probably should have posted WIP's for this artwork, as it took me all week to complete (which is a long time for me). I want to play with the idea of mixing realism with some playfulness, and this is the first artwork I've come up with. My youngest son's hand is putting the coin in the money box, and I must admit, his hand was much easier to draw than mine was with all it's lines. I might have to find a hand model for the artist's hand I think - someone with lovely smooth hands!!! I started this artwork several times, trying illustration board, Bristol board, Matte board, yupo and finally came back to the trusty old drafting film. Whilst I struggle with getting smoothness when there are darker tones on the skin, for me, no other surface allows for the same level of realism when working with coloured pencils.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Slightly disillusioned!

For a whole host of reasons, I have decided to withdraw all listings on all sites for graphite portraits and will be focusing on colour pencil portraits only. I am also going to be a bit stronger and refuse to do portraits if the client doesn''t have a high resolution photo. I was always a bit of a softy in this regard, feeling sorry for the client and not wanting to disappoint them, but I have learnt the hard way that it just doesn't pay!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Artist or The Subject?

The Artist or The Subject
Coloured pencil and Pan Pastels on Matte board
On our recent holiday to Canberra, we took the family to Questacon, which is like an interactive, educational science museum for all ages. We ended up spending two days there, because there is so much to see and do and the kids have a ball. There is one whole level dedicated to perception and why our brain thinks the way it does and how easily it can be fooled - absolutely fascinating!!! It got me thinking that I would like to do some pieces using artist's hands drawing artworks that challenge our perceptions, and so this piece was just a trial piece. No perception challenges here, but just experimenting. I now have commissions starting to roll in again, so will be busy working on those, but will try to work on some of these ideas between portraits.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just for fun - Mystified Illustration

5x7 inches
Gouache on Watercolour Board
I promised my family that I would have a break from the art while we were on holidays, and spend some time with them. It was lovely to do some puzzles and have some quality family time. But school's back tomorrow and everyone was doing their own thing today, so I had to have a play with some gouache that I had recently picked up. I've never used Gouache before, but have to say I found it the easiest of all the different paints to use and will definitely be experimenting with it a bit more. It seems to have some of the benefits of oils, acrylics and watercolours all bundled into one. This artwork is just a bit of fun :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

1st Prize Drawing Section ASMA Awards Exhibition

A Life Well Spent
6x8 cm
Graphite pencil on drafting film
I often forget to post if I have won an award, but have just come back from collecting my prize for winning the Drawing Section of the ASMA (Australian Society of Miniature Art) National Awards Exhibition for "A Life Well Spent". I wasn't able to attend the Presentation Evening last night, as we were on our way back from Canberra, but had the opportunity to browse the exhibition this afternoon. How inspiring!!! When attending these Miniature Art Exhibitions, I am always reminded of why I fell in love with this genre of art in the first place. This was a timely prize for me also, as the prize was a boxed set of 120 Faber Castell Polychromos, and those of you familiar with my work would know that these are my favourite pencils - some of mine are only about one inch long now. Whilst there, I was happy to learn that my painting "Hush Little Mouse" had sold as well.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Couple of Commissions

2.5x3.5 inches
Coloured pencil on drafting film

4x6 inches
Graphite pencil on drafting film
This little portrait of Cheyanne having a big yawn was done a few weeks ago, but I needed to wait until the parents had given approval before posting it. The portrait of Christina is a 21st birthday present for my son's girlfriend's sister, that I wanted to complete before going on holidays. Now the pencils are going away for a couple of weeks :))

Thursday, July 1, 2010

4th Little Pig - Making Daisy Chains

Little Pig's Bliss - Making Daisy Chains
5x7 inches
Coloured pencils on drafting film
This is the fourth little pig in the series and I'm not sure if I will do more. Sometimes I start so enthusiastically with projects and ideas that enter my head, but then self doubt creeps in, when the image on the paper doesn't quite match what I visualised. Either way, tomorrow marks the start of the two week school holidays, and my husband also has a couple of weeks off, so it is time to devote some time to my wonderful family and to give the art a bit of a break. I will still pop in to see what everyone else is up to, but probably won't be making many contributions myself.
Thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to view my blog and especially to those who leave comments - Hugs to all of you!!! :))