Wednesday, November 25, 2009


There are several beautiful Golden Retrievers who walk past Sheltie Hollow. How could you not love this dog? His blond good looks are matched by a golden personality. He is gentle, reliable, friendly, intelligent, and obedient. It must be remembered though, that he is a powerful dog who still has a retrieving instinct, and while he needs lots of exercise, he needs to be in a fenced area for his own protection.
This little coloured pencil drawing is available as a 5 x 7 matted print for $25. shipping included.

Monday, November 23, 2009

PROCESS 2 - Medium -Coloured Pencil & Graphite

Today I want to tell you about some of the Mediums I use. When I do Portraits, I start with a watercolour wash on either Stonehenge paper or Arches hot press 140 lb. paper and then work over it in Coloured Pencil. The paper is top quality and acid free, and I love the smooth, but not plate finish of both papers because I am a detail person.
I start with the initial drawing on newsprint, (not traced or projected), transfer it to my good paper, and then do a very light watercolour wash to establish the colour pattern and to lay a bit of a grip on the paper. You can see in this image of a commission I did last year where the watercolour is, and that over it, I have started layering the Coloured Pencil. This is a long process, and there is no hurrying it. I was far from finished any part of the portrait when I took this photo. The green you see is the low tack masking tape I use to mask off my painting area because I have a personal preference for a neat, clean, white border around my paintings, even though it will be covered by a mat. Naturally, it comes off as soon as the outline area of the piece is done.
For the most part, I use Prismcolor Pencils because of their quality, availability, and colour range. Added to them, are selected colours from Derwent and Faber Castell. All these brands are professional quality. Coloured pencil is a relatively new Fine Art medium, so there are still things we need to learn about some of the colours, but by using the best quality and the most lightfast colours, I have confidence that these portraits will long outlive the people who commissioned them.
I enjoy using Graphite too, and I have always used Faber Castell Graphite pencils in a range from 8B (very soft and dark) to 5H (very hard and light). It is of paramount importance to use graphite pencils from the same brand because each brand uses a different scale to measure light through dark. When using Graphite, I use Stonehenge paper, as already mentioned, an acid free paper which means it will stand the test of time.
Next time, I will talk about watercolours.

Friday, November 20, 2009

PROCESS - Drawing

I've been following a very interesting discussion about how artist's produce their art, and I thought I would like to tell you something about my process. Because I am an Animal Artist and a Realist - although not a Photo Realist, and because I don't want a plethora of strange dogs, cats, and horses (even if there was room!) in my studio, I work from photographs. I'm a slow painter, and I like the solitude and peace of my studio, so that is another factor in why I choose to work from photo references. Most of the photos I use are taken by myself, but some are generously given to me by a friend or they are provided by a portrait client.
When I am doing a portrait, I need to get the most accurate image possible. However, I don't trace or project, even with a portrait. I learned how to draw at Art School (I chose Fine Art rather than Graphic Art), where we would have been tossed out of class if we had tried to trace or project. If anyone had suggested painting over a photo, I think our Drawing, Life Drawing, and Painting teachers would have fainted. We were there to learn the traditional ways of drawing and painting and I am proud to be using those methods of observation, sketching, measuring, and grid. These things are hard to use - photos lie, (distortion) and measuring or grid can so easily get out of control. The width of a pencil lead can make a difference! And you have to know when to ignore the measurements because your experienced eye is telling you that something is wrong. The best tool an Animal Artist can have is an excellent understanding of their subject - anatomy, hair coat, and expression - that and good observation skills, as well as an undertanding of proportion and perspective. After 20 plus years, I am still working on improving these things.
The photo above is of my acrylic painting "Something In The Air" along with the reference photos I used. As you can see, I don't adhere slavishly to the photo. Even with a portrait, I usually use a combination of several photos. The clipped English Setter photo was sent to me by a friend (her photo, her dog) and another friend sent me a photo (hers) of geese in flight. The landscape was taken by me. This was not a portrait, so I changed things to fit my vision for the scene I wanted to paint - changing the season and adding a full hair coat to the dog. I did some thumbnail sketches for placement, then did a detailed drawing on newsprint, where most of my agonizing over the drawing takes place. When I finally got what I wanted, I transfered my own drawing to my panel using tracing paper and then I was ready to paint.
This time consuming, intensive, nervewracking method obviously isn't for everyone, but it is the only way I want to work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Today's dog is a Rhodesian Ridgeback. This strong, courageous, big dog was once used to protect the families and stock of Colonial African farmers from lion attacks. They still have courage and a deep sense of loyalty, which makes them both good guards dogs and gentle family dogs. The Ridgebacks are beautiful dogs, with their wheaten through red colouring and the tapering ridge of stiff hair that grows in the opposite direction along their shoulders and back.
I wanted this simple, watercolour sketch to reflect the spacious glow of the African plains (as I've seen it portrayed in films), and I think I've accomplished this with the red-gold dog and trees, the golden grasses, and the apricot sky. A 5 x 7 inch matted print can be yours for $25. including shipping by contacting me at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Biff & Jo-Jo On Ice

Like so many Canadians, Biff and Jo-Jo have been glued to The Battle of the Blades these past few weeks. What a great thing for skating in this country! The hockey players were very brave to do something so far out of their comfort zone, and the ladies were just as brave, skating with partners who were new to the lifts and spins. Wonderful Stuff all round!!

And like many Canadians, Biff and Jo-Jo were inspired to get some skates and go skating.

There is ice to be found now if you get out early enough, (and are no bigger than a chipmunk) and these two have been enjoying a dawn skate. Unfortunately, being unused to figure skates and their picks, Biff has suddenly performed the "Cleaning the ice" figure, a manoever I can relate to, while Jo-Jo, in panic lest he be bowled off his skates, has discovered that he can do an impromptu Russian Jump. Skating is just the best fun!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It's November 11, and I want to say THANK YOU to all those who serve and protect. THANK YOU to my Father, Grandfathers and Uncles, and to all who valiantly marched off to war, to those who came back and to those who didn't, and to all the men and women who had the courage to watch their loved ones go and who served by keeping the home fires burning. We will never forget.


Did you see that lean slice of speed that flashed past my window? The elegant, aristocratic Greyhound is the fastest of any dog, yet he makes a calm, clean, loving, and loyal pet.
Once the privilege of the nobility, now the Greyhound is available to those who can commit to giving him the education, love, and care he needs, and that includes daily exercise, like a good run in a safe environment so that he can stretch those long legs of his.
I painted "Greyhound Hill" some time ago, and it has always been one of my favourite watercolour images. The hounds just poised to run, the expanse of countryside, the fresh spring colours, all give me a sense of freedom and lightness of spirit. A 5 x 7 inch (image) matted print for $25. including shipping, can be yours by contacting me at

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'M INNOCENT! - Biff & Jo-Jo

Uh-oh, Biff, tempted beyond sense by a tasty peanut butter cracker, has wandered into a live Mousetrap and is in panic, shouting his innocence to one and all. A loyal friend will do all he can to help, and Jo-Jo has risen to the occasion by baking a cake with a file in it. In the end, it wasn't needed, as Biff - a law-bidding chipmunk if ever there was one, was released with an apology.

This summer, a family of mice moved in under our sunroom, and we were not very pleased about it. All members but one, were eventually rounded up and relocated. Our live trap remains out and ready to nab the last wily mouse, but unfortunately, it was one of our garden Chipmunks that was caught. We released him at once of course, and he raced away to celebrate his freedom.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Getting It Together

I hate surprises, unless they are really nice ones. This past week, I had a bit of a shock when I found out that the Christmas Show at the Gallery is not opening in three weeks, it is opening THIS weekend! I guess in the turmoil of the several small personal crises that have been going on lately, I just lost track of time. So this week, I have been scrambling to get it together - paintings framed (like Woolies Weather) , prints run off and matted, and the paperwork done. It is amazing what you can do when you have to.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


We're walking the dog late tonight. Our dog of the week is the neat looking Boston Terrier. These affable little guys are always formally dressed in shining black or splashy brindle and white, and with their lovely natures, and their ability to be at home in the city or country, they are an increasingly popular breed.
This 5 x 7 watercolour painting is available as a matted print for $25. and inquiries can be sent to: