Tiny Souls

Posted on Updated on

At the moment we are living in Kuwait, where there are sadly never ending problems with stray animals, dumped animals and cruelty cases. It is very frustrating and makes you feel so helpless in face of the enormity of the situation, it will unfortunately take time before any major improvements are seen. I could write pages on this subject alone but the aim of this post is to tell the tale of two tiny Arabian Mau’s who my husband rescued in Kuwait, whilst my daughter and I were on holiday in the UK.

IMG-20150823-WA0003
Tiny and helpless

On his morning jog, he found a tiny tabby kitten in the middle of the road, literally pulling himself along (he was so young, he couldn’t even walk properly yet). My husband did the right thing (I trained him well), he found the kittens litter mate in a nearby bush, and placed the tabby back, in the hope that mum would return; a lot of people don’t realise that the females leave their kittens whilst they go out searching for food, they only return to feed them. Often people pick up what they think are abandoned kittens but if they are in quite good shape, mum probably just left them temporarily. Anyway, unfortunately in this case, mum didn’t return; in Kuwait the way they control the animal population is by poisoning, so mum might have gone that unfortunate route, or else could have got run over, but the main point was, she wasn’t coming back.

IMG-20150823-WA0002
After a bath

So into our spare bathroom they went. At this stage they were probably only about a week old, so the hard work started with the round the clock bottle feeds, my husband had taken on a project! Thankfully he knew what he was doing, as our cats were found down a storm drain in the Philippines when they were just a few days old, tied in a plastic bag, sometimes you have to wonder about mankind!

Trip to the vet
Trip to the vet

Well the new babies are now about 7 weeks and slowly gaining strength.They have had their first trip to the vet for vaccinations, something they didn’t enjoy at all, well who can blame them really! Now we have the massive challenge of finding them a forever home. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of good homes for animals in Kuwait, we might even have to ship them to the UK or the USA in the search for the perfect home for them, a very expensive option.

In the meantime, they are growing steadily, even though they now look quite big in the latest photo, they are still only tiny babies and weigh about 1 pound each! I hope the perfect home is out there for them, the search is now on!

IMG_20150819_074319

Fast forward a few months and unfortunately as predicted, no good home in Kuwait has been found. However, through a few amazing people, they should be on a flight to America soon to start their new life. It will be so sad to say goodbye (quite a few tears have already been shed) but wonderful for them to get this opportunity, plus our older cats will be so happy to have their peaceful life back.
Below are some photos of how they look now, quite the posers! I hope their new forever home, will love them as much as we do.
 Latest update: they are now living in America with their new family – happy endings are sometimes possible!

On The Drawing Board – Contentment

Image Posted on Updated on

Normally I work  in graphite and charcoal, however my first real taste of the art world as an adult, was with pastel.

In 1997 I moved with my husband to Abu Dhabi. As an expat wife you are suddenly thrown into a whole new environment, your daily routine has completely gone, there is no job to go to, no friends to call up and chat to, your husband goes off to work each morning but what do you do! Slowly you find your way, discover new avenues and hopefully, eventually, a job. During the exploration of my new environment, I met a wonderful lady called Christine Fore, a British portrait pastel artist. As a child I had always been interested in art, pondered art college and interior designer but in the end went into the field of dance. Being an expat, meant I had time to re-invent myself and follow an old forgotten dream. Christine inspired me to take an important step in that direction.

ContentmentMyself and a group of ladies would meet once a week round Christine’s apartment and she would teach us the wonders of pastel. Christine was such an enthusiastic teacher, we all got completely addicted, we even progressed to doing art shows together.

So this little pastel kitten, came from all the techniques Christine taught me during my stay in Abu Dhabi. Having since then immersed myself in graphite work, I hadn’t touched a pastel for years, had even given away my pastel set to a friends daughter who was showing an interest. Suddenly though I had an urge to create in colour, and went out and bought a pastel set. It was so enjoyable to see this cat take shape and in comparison to my pencil work, so much quicker. The pastels have now gone away for the time being, but I am sure it won’t be too long before they come out again.

I have Christine to thank for all those years ago, putting me on the path to taking my art seriously.

On The Drawing Board – Designer Stripes

Posted on Updated on

Designer Stripes2 I photographed this zebra at Singapore Zoo; one of my favourite places, nothing like a zoo at all actually. The challenge of course is all the stripes, very time consuming!

The title “Designer Stripes” came to me straight away, nature at its best. Here he is going through the various stage. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The finished piece scanned and then framed, decided to add some foliage.

Designer Stripes

Mixed Media Panels

Posted on Updated on

I spent a very enjoyable week in the summer at Oxford college learning all about how to make Mixed Media Panels. Our tutor was the ever patient and completely inspiring Graham Woodall; have a look at his website to see some of his work: http://www.grahamwoodall.com/ . This course took me completely out of my comfort zone, which actually made it all the more enjoyable, I had initially tried to book a course in Chinese brush strokes but in hindsight am so pleased that course was full and that I was forced into a new area.

The prior-course information was to take with us cardboard, interesting plastic shapes, recycling materials and bits of wood!  It was so interesting to see what our assortment of strange items actually developed into and how different all our projects turned out. Also must quickly mention my fellow class members, a large number who had completed a 6 year part time Fine Arts degree course, true dedication. Not to tell you their ages but they weren’t youngsters, so proves it is never to late to follow your dreams, they impressed me no end.

OK back to the mixed media panels, have to say I am now totally addicted to this new style, felt like a child again sticking, painting and creating with abandon. So refreshing to work in a free spontaneous way, I think I will now use these techniques to “relax” from my usual detailed and time-consuming pencil studies.

Now I am back in Kuwait and completely inspired, below is the start of a new project at the drying stage. At the moment I know it doesn’t look like much but when the dry brushing is done it suddenly comes to life. My aim is to put in a black frame and give it a contemporary feel, well that is the idea, we will see what actually happens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is a close up of a section to give an idea of how it looks once the dry brushing is done, as you can see it changes completely, I love this stage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is a photograph of it in the frame, I cut out and painted the mount so that it fitted with the style of the piece. Normally they actually are shown as panels (not framed) but artistic licence means everything is possible!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On The Drawing Board – Podge & Splodge

Image Posted on Updated on

Cat 1 (Podge)Cat 2These two very cute cats belong to a client in Kuwait, they are going to be drawn in two separate portraits as it was difficult getting them to pose together, plus the photograph of Podge (on the left) came out so well. His friend is called Splodge and the client is going to continue to take photographs of him whilst I work on Podge They look such a perfect pair, with their dark sides over opposite ears.

 Starting to put the basics in place, establishing the light and dark areas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All the basics now in place, lots of tiny hairs! Will move onto the detail stage, really liking this composition.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Final stages coming up, need to work a bit more on the face and then onto the easel for final analyses.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Podge is finished, below is the final scanned image.

Podge

Splodge

The client managed, after lots of perseverance, to get this great photo of Splodge. Love the way he is rolling on his back so trustingly.

Option 1.5

Below is the first stage. At the moment I need to check with the client about his right ear, it looks like it has been tipped; something that is done to cats who live on the streets, as an indication that they have been spayed/neutered to ensure they are not trapped again. However in the other photographs I have of Splodge, the ear doesn’t seem to look tipped. Is it an illusion? Or maybe the tip is folded under the ear?

IMG_1719

Question about the ear answered, it isn’t tipped, so will extend it so that it doesn’t look like it is missing the end. Have also started on the tummy, lots of folds showing the muscle structure.

IMG_1721

All the basics in place, next stage the detail, liking the cute pads on his feet.

IMG_1725-001

Splodge finished.

He looks a bit lighter in real life, my scanner struggles with white images.

Splodge

On The Drawing Board – Elvis

Posted on Updated on

option 12

Look at this cutie! Can’t help but smile when I look at this face. Nicknamed him “Elvis” because of his lip curl – hope he isn’t a she…..

A trip to Wafra at the weekend resulted in this camel photograph; one of over 50 I took in my attempt to get the perfect shot. I am always unsure how to act around camels, I know nothing about them and can’t read their body language at all (give me a horse any day). They also tower above me which is a bit imposing however I have to say, the ones I met at the weekend were all on their best behaviour. At one point a camel walked right up to me and lowered his head to have a closer look, he looked so sweet I scratched his nose which he seemed to enjoy; I did shove my daughter behind me though just in case I had read the situation wrongly! Their companion (not sure what you call the man who walks with them with his stick) did say something to me in Arabic, which unfortunately I couldn’t understand, I just hoped it wasn’t a warning that the camel wasn’t friendly!

This commission is for a lady in Kuwait, I emailed her a few of my better shots and she choose this very unusual and cute one. I am looking forward to the challenge as I have drawn a lot of camels lately (really popular with expats as keepsakes) but never one with quite such attitude and an usual lip curl.

Below is the initial sketch, starting to add the light and shade, all those little hairs take ages! No in depth detail yet, just working out where everything goes and building the framework.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Worked on finding the light and shade of that comical nose curl, now moving across towards the eye. Still just working on getting the structure in place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All the basics now in place, have started working on the detailed layer left to right; at the moment he is looking like a two toned camel, will catch the right-side up soon!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Have added more detail on the neck area, now moving up to the right eye along the cheek.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Big jump here because I got inspired and worked non-stop! My favourite stage is when I begin to add the final detail, it suddenly starts to all come together. Here is the final scanned image.

Elvis

On The Drawing Board – Mushkila

Posted on Updated on

This is a portrait for a lady who lives in Kuwait, as an anniversary present for her husband. Really like this photograph, she has managed to capture her with such a cute but alert look, love the way her ears fold over.IMG_1093

Below is the initial sketch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the moment working on finding the contours of the face using the light and shade, no great detail yet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Continuing to work on the contours, as Mushkila is a white dog, it is finding the fine balance between adding the shading to give depth and “saving” the white of the paper. Discovered that under Mushkila’s nose is a little black patch, if you don’t look closely it looks like her nose is going right down towards her top lip but on closer observation you can see the part underneath is a black patch. At the moment have added this in roughly, will work out how to define this a bit later when all the contours are complete.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All the basic contours now done. Have left the tag until later, we are changing to a different tag and I need to work out the angle it would be lying.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave been working on the fine detail, small but important changes which are actually hard to capture with the camera. Need to now work on her nose now and sort out the disk on the collar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlmost finished. Will put her on the easel over the weekend and check for anymore changes/improvements. Always like to “live” with a portrait for a bit before it is declared finished, just in case I suddenly see something that I have missed, nice to step away and come back with fresh eyes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Made some minor changes but she is now finished and signed. Here is the scanned image.

Mushkila

On The Drawing Board – Channing

Posted on Updated on

_DSC9636cr 2re

Beautiful dog and a great photo!

This portrait is a commission for the clients mum as a Christmas present, yes Christmas is looming quite soon! The photo is so good because the client is a photographer, heaven for me. The only changes I will do from the actual photograph is to clean up her tongue and tidy up a few hairs on her chest, otherwise everything is perfect. I love the way the light catches her eyes. This will be drawn on A3 paper.

Below is the first stage, just establishing the light and shade at this point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now have completed all the basic work, moving onto the first stage of detail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Have started the detail working from the left ear down, haven’t completed it all yet, still have the right side to go. No short cuts to be had with all that wonderful fur, very time consuming but like the look of the thick luscious coat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Have now worked on most areas of the coat, next step is to concentrate on the eyes and nose area; centre panel of the face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Almost finished, just want to “live” with it a few days on the easel to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Final portrait – scanned image

channing

On the Drawing Board – Czar

Posted on Updated on

406849_10151335516746955_782553222_nThis has to be one of my more unusual commissions – half a cat! The owner loves Czar’s expression and is a photographer, so likes this very artistic crop.

I have now drawn the initial sketch and lightly penciled in the scrolling bar in the background, I think it balances the portrait rather than having a blank piece of paper on the right. Not sure yet until I get going, might need to change the position of the bar so that it isn’t touching the ear at that angle, time will tell.

Here is the initial sketch.No detail yet, just adding the basic colouring to make a map to lights, darks and stripes.  Am starting to think it will make an interesting composition with a few background elements.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Have now started the first stage of the detail, have worked from the top of the head across to the ear and down to the eye. Love his markings, makes the eye stand out well. Have now completed one layer of detail. Now have to decide whether to complete the other layer of detail, or work out the placement of the metal scroll. Will have a look in the morning and see which route to go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Have added the metal scroll, moved the position slightly. Got quite carried away researching metal bars, almost was tempted to add another scroll but remembered it was supposed to be about the cat and not the scroll! Have also added another layer of detail to the fur (very difficult for me to capture in a photograph), next step will be to work on the eye and refine the fur.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finished Portrait – scanned image

My most unusual commission to date complete. Interesting to do a portrait from a completely different perspective. Czar looks like a cat with lots of attitude.

Czar

On The Drawing Board – Mr Camel

Image Posted on Updated on

Camel (Christa)

With their haughty looks and wonderful eyelashes, camels are always a favourite with us expats.  This camel drawing has been specially commissioned by a group of ladies for a friend of theirs who is soon to leave Kuwait, a memento of her time here.

I love this photograph, am going to include the halter/harness to give the drawing a very traditional feel.

Stage 1 – the initial sketch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stage 2

Have just started to develop the sketch, finding which direction the coat falls and the underlying muscles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stage 3

All the basics now in place, next layer will be adding more light and shade. He is a handsome chap!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stage 4

Started the detail work on the left-hand side of his face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stage 5

All the basic detail of the camel now in place. Would love to keep working on the camel but will tear myself away and get the harness to the same stage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stage 6

Have added the harness, now onto the final detail. I think Mr Camel will be one of my favourite pieces, the great photograph really helped matters. If you click on the image, you can see it close up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stage 7

Have completed another layer of detail; small but important details. Now onto the final stage of checking and improving.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finished Portrait – Mr Camel scanned.

Mr Camel

On the Drawing Board – Hobbes

Posted on Updated on

HOBBES

Hobbes 3-001

This beautiful cat lives in Kuwait. I am thinking maybe he is called Hobbes because of the Hobnob biscuit but I could be wrong.

Am really looking forward to this one because I love the composition; the photo is very clear, the head at a good angle plus he simply looks so cute but intense all at the same time. Will include the ring in the portrait as it is such an important part of the overall look.

Starting to find all the basic areas of light and shade, am liking the way the dark of the ring gives definition to the head.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAContinuing downwards. Hobbes is A3 size, so allows me lots of space to get the detail in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow and again you come across a portrait where the composition works so perfectly, this is one of those. I knew from the beginning that it would work well – just hope the clients feel the same.

Have now completed all the basics. The clients don’t actually need this one ready for Christmas, so am dragging myself away from it so that I can complete any portraits that are Christmas presents first. Will look forward to putting in the detail later.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas portrait presents complete, back with Mr Hobbes.

Am now refining the detail, have started at the top left ear and am working downwards. The differences are difficult to capture with a camera because they are so small, maybe only noticable if you look very closely. Am going to leave the eyes to last.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Final Portrait

Below is a scanned image of Hobbes – intense but sweet!

Hobbs final

On the Drawing Board – Ghost

Image Posted on Updated on

Handsome Ghost lives at Rahal Ranch which is situated close to Al Ain.

If I was a horse living in the Middle East, this ranch would be my residence of choice. They practice natural horsemanship, which basically means from a horses point of view, that somebody actually tries to understand you rather than forcing you to conform with harsh bits and spurs. Tracy, the owner, is often to be seen cantering around the school doing flying changes without a saddle or bridle, actually only a piece of rope round the horse’s neck – seeing is believing!

Ghost lives in this wonderful environment and I happened by to disturb him one Friday lunchtime. Ok I admit, he was on a break, but Ghost could have co-operated just a little bit with my photography efforts. Every time I would get set up for the photograph, he  either refused to turn his head, or would turn quickly and charge directly at the camera as if to say “what do you want”!  We carried on like this for quite a while until I managed to get the above shot. It was almost as if he finally thought it would be quicker to pose so that I would go away and leave him in peace. I love a horse with attitude!

Here is the first stage of his portrait.

Have now completed the initial sketch, am thinking the powerful neck is going to be an important part of the drawing. His star and white nose also give a nice contrast to his face, this will show more when I establish the dark areas in the next session.

Have now started more detailed work on the left-side of his face. Horses have such interesting bone structure, plus of course the soft muzzle.

Now at the final stage, am working on balancing the light and shade.

Ghost is finished! Below is the scanned version.