Thursday, December 31, 2009


It's been a Sidney Carton type of year . . . "the best of times and the worst of times". Here at Sheltie Hollow, we had some serious challenges to deal with and some just plain irritating or nasty stuff to handle. But somehow, everything turned out all right, sometimes wonderfully right, so we end the year full of gratitude and with hope for a bright New Year.
Biff and Jo-Jo are having a wonderful time celebrating. They have noise makers, silly hats, snacks and some vintage ginger ale, and they want to share their wishes to all of you for a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Wanna Be a Reindeer

It's nearly Christmas, and I will finish off my Christmas Cards with my newest one - I Wanna Be A Reindeer! Our littlest Sheltie has big dreams, just like our Eskie cross. In his own words -er- woofs,
"I wanna be a reindeer,
Wanna pull Santa's sleigh.
I want to fly with Santa,
Have a Happy Christmas Day!"

This little 5 x 7 painting is a watercolour and is just plain fun.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Eskie Christmas

You've got to hand it to those little American Eskimo dogs - they love to have a job to do, and they dream big! It seemed natural to imagine them pulling Santa's sleigh - with a little bit of help from Fairy Dust. Maybe this year you will hear the jingle of sleligh bells and the sound of soft, excited woofs on your roof.
Our Eskie/Sheltie cross was the model for every one of Santa's Eskies. Ho Ho HO!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


One of the things I love most about the country are the barns, and near Christmas, many farmers place huge stars on the sides of their barns that sparkle and glow through the cold, dark, northern night. Sometimes, I wonder what the animals must think of these winter beacons. The horses in today's painting are a gentle pair that I photographed many years ago, and I have painted them more than once. I really fell in love with these sweet natured giants.
STAR OF WONDER is an 11 x 14 coloured pencil over watercolour painting.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Visions of SugarMice

About now, most children (and some adults) are going to sleep to dream about presents under the tree and sugar-plums in their stockings. (Does anyone know what a "sugar-plum actually is?) Cats, being super intelligent little creatures, are no exception. I caught our cat happily snoozing near the fireplace, where his stocking is hanging with care, and dreaming of SugarMice. This 11 x 14 watercolour hangs in our house every Christmas season, but small prints are available.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Great Thank You

There is a legend that says that on one night close to Christmas, the animals gather in groups and bend down under the night sky to give thanks for their lives and for all the things that sustain them. It's called The Great Thank You. A couple of years ago, I did this tiny painting as my Christmas Card. Naturally, I chose a horse for this painting, instead of a wild animal. It is a 4 x 6 watercolour sketch and I bring it out at Christmas to remind me to say "thank you" for all the life-gifts I have been given, and that even the creatures of the field and forest understand that we need to give thanks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Biff and Jo-Jo Santa's Grotto

It's the time of year when most people are feeling a sense of peace and good-will towards their fellow man. Biff and Jo-Jo feel the same way, and like to do their bit to put a smile on little faces. They have set up a Santa's Grotto so that the tinies can come and ask Santa for what they really want to find under the Christmas tree. (Biff will secretly relate this to Mom and Dad.) Biff is well suited to playing Santa - no padding needed, while Jo-Jo makes a perfect Elf. Biff's big white beard itches, and Jo-Jo keeps tripping on his toes, but they are having the time of their lives. That often happens when you are doing something nice for someone else.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Carolers Sing Joy

I know, this should be Dog Parade Wednesday, but there is a big storm raging today and there are no dogs walking past Sheltie Hollow. In fact, during the winter, not many dogs walk past at all. It gets dark so early that most of them stay in their own gardens to play, so I will be giving the Dog Parade Wednesdays a rest for a while. There will be lots of other good stuff to see and read though, so please keep stopping by.
Today, I thought it would be fun to start posting a number of my Christmas paintings and card designs from years past, as well as one or two new ones for this year. Between now and the first official day of winter, December 21, I will have several Christmas Card posts.
This one was inspired by two of our Shelties who were having a howling good time. They looked like two little Christmas Carolers, and this is the time to sing out joyfully, all the wonderful old Carols. JOY TO THE WORLD!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fresh Snow

Finally, we have snow. At the moment, there is just enough to dust the ground, like the snowfall we had last week, but this time, we are told that it will stay. This week is supposed to bring a proper drop, so it will really look like Christmas.
This is a little watercolour sketch I did called FRESH SNOW. I really like it so it may end up as a full size painting one of these days. I wanted to get the idea down before it drifted out of my mind. Can't you just imagine the cold, crisp air, and a glorious Friesian thundering across a snowy field, sending the Cardinals, (or Red Birds, as I like to call them) flying out of the bushes? This is a Winter scene I could look at all year long.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

PROCESS 3 - Mediums - Watercolour

My very favourite art medium is Watercolour. I love the flow, the brightness of the colours, and the challenge. Watercolour has a way of doing what it wants, just at the wrong moment, and part of the challenge with this exciting, exacting medium is knowing how to coax it back to doing what you had intended. Sometimes, you have to insist, and sometimes, you just start over. Watercolour can be etherial, moody, or bold, and I have chosen an older painting of mine to show that a rich depth of colour can be achieved.
With this medium, perhaps more than any other, the quality of your tools is of paramount importance. For the best results, you must use the best. That best will differ, depending on what you want to achieve. For example, for loose watercolours, a Cold Press (textured) or a Rough paper is often found to give the best results, and for detailed work, although a Cold Press will work, Hot Press (very smooth) is what I like best. The paper (heavy enough to be called a board) comes in several weights or thicknesses, and that can affect the outcome of your painting too. Paper or Board is actually a misnomer, as the best "papers" are made of 100% acid-free cotton or linen rag . Various companies produce papers that have slightly different textures and behave in different ways, and it is up to the artist to discover what works best for them. My favourite is Arches 140 or 300 pound Hot Press, but I usually have some Lanaquarelle and some Fabriano Artistico (both Hot Press) on hand too.
My brushes of choice range from the king of brushes, the Winsor & Newton Series 7 Number 7 kolinsky sable brush, to some 000 fine point acrylic brushes for the smallest details. If I could only have one brush, it would be the Series 7 Number 7, it is so versatile and reliable. I've had mine for 30 years and it is still great.
The paints I use are mostly Winsor & Newton Artist's professional quality tube paints, because they are of the very best quality, with a wide range of reliable, brilliant colours. I also use some Daniel Smith and some Holbien, all top quality and reliable.
I start a watercolour painting the same way I begin any other painting - with a pencil drawing that has been thoroughly worked out on newsprint before my pencil touches the watercolour board. The image is intially hand drawn, then transferred to the board using a very light touch, as the pencil lines should not show through the finished painting. Once the graphite gets wet, it is on the paper forever, so it is important that the drawing be barely visible at the time I start to paint. Then I lay in washes, wait for them to dry, and lay in more. With watercolour, I have to work from light to dark, because many of the colours are translucent. The details come last. A watercolour takes a long time to acomplish - there really are no shortcuts, and while it is forgiving of mistakes, they had better be small ones.
I hope this little series on my Process has given you a glimpse of how I do my paintings. If anyone has any questions, please email me and I will try to answer them for you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


We live in an area where there are some sheep farms as well as cattle farms, and we often see Border Collies. There are also some in the village who work at being pet for a living, and they are always a treat to see trotting past the Sheltie Hollow window.
These beautiful dogs are super intelligent, intense, focused, and need a job, even if that job does not involve sheep. They come in two coat types - short haired with some feathering on the legs, or medium long and often wavy. Although usually black and white, there are a variety of possible colours as well as some solid coloured dogs. Border Collies are high energy dogs, as in HIGH ENEREGY, and need safe exercise as well as either a job or a canine activity such as Agility, Flyball, etc. to focus on.
This coloured pencil drawing is available as a 5 x 7 matted print for $25. shipping included. You can reach me at: