I went to visit my friend, Mary Redshaw, this month and catch up with her over a few pots of tea and a fish and chip lunch. I always enjoy this social time with this lady, who proudly displays all of the commission work that I have done for her (all beautifully framed and presented in her living-room). I always enjoy seeing her two ‘new’ dogs: one a Greyhound named Rio and the other a whippet named Tina.
One of my favourite dog portraits I illustrated for Mary was the picture of her brown Doberman Pinscher – Tia, who was such a character. She certainly was a dog that knew her own mind and no amount of persuasion or commands could change her mind if she thought contrary to the request.
I remember doing a mono illustration of Tia, as well as the colour…because I wasn’t sure which one I liked best… Which one would you choose?
It’s my last posting of the year next month; I am so grateful that there are so many people reading this blog now. I am told by WordPress that my stats are booming, so thank you to all of the people who are reading my posts regularly…
I am always delighted when a customer returns to me for another commission. It is an endorsement and validation that they appreciate the style and quality of my work and are happy to commission you to do another piece of artwork for themselves or a loved one.
Last year, Mrs Angela Rose had commissioned me to create a birth illustration for a young relative, with a collection of dinosaurs. On this more recent occasion, she requested me to create a portrait illustration of her daughter’s two West Highland Terriers: Milly and Harper. I prefer to take photographs of pets myself, whenever possible, so I went around to do a photoshoot of the two canine characters. Both of these two dogs were in a rather soporific mood on a hot July day that they needed to look their best for the camera. They were both very well groomed, but their sleepy moments were interspersed with bouts of running, racing and jumping, as Mrs Rose’s daughter, Amy, and myself strived to keep them awake whilst I took numerous photographs.
I have to say that both Milly and Harper were adorable in different ways, but I have a ‘soft-spot’ for Harper who gently raised her nose to touch mine whilst introductions were being made.
The illustration took a number of days to complete and required a background of fawn and soft browns to make Milly and Harper stand out. Whenever I am drawing ‘white’ dogs I am amazed to discover all of the different colours that go to make up the fur. These colours can include a range of browns, creams and fawns to name a few.
I handed over the finished commission to Mrs Rose and her husband, Ian, and they commented that the illustration was “spot on” and that Amy would be delighted with her personal and unique commissioned illustration.
I later heard that Amy was delighted and the commission will soon be displayed on her living-room wall. Thank you to the Roses and my other clients who return to me time-and-time-again for illustrations – it is very much appreciated.
It seems many, many years ago that I was working on this ‘When autumn leaves start to fall’ illustration. All of the Bear-a-thought illustrations take me right back to the time I was drawing them. This was an illustration that appeared in my 2006 calendar and was inspired by a famous song performed by the immortal Nat King Cole.
I was chatting to a good friend recently who mentioned the song and I thought that this illustration would make a very good blog post this month. I have to be honest and say that I have a bit of a ‘downer’ about November and it’s my least favourite month, as I dislike being plunged into the dark days of autumn at the end of October.
In this illustration, I have tried to show November at it’s best with golden leaves and azure blue skies. I chose one of my new teddy bears, named Raymond, for the illustration as I just thought he was so appealing in his blue duffle coat and I loved illustrating the cord buttons on his coat that are keeping him warm from the autumn chills. I also really enjoyed drawing the golden-leafed oak tree in the background and I do remember putting some shapes in amongst the foliage. I think there was a heart, a gingerbread man and a goldfish to name a few, though looking at the illustration now I can’t see them.
The leaves that our lovely little bear is bouncing on were quite difficult and rather monotonous to draw, but I wanted to give them the appearance of looking dry, brittle and ‘crackly’; the kind of bone-dry leaves you cannot resist running through and then watch them being whisked-off by the cool autumn breezes…
Autumn leaves of red, orange and brown, to the ground come fluttering down.
Raymond jumps to catch them as they fall, from the trees above – so big and tall.
As part of my current weekly teaching role I have to find ideas and inspiration for session plans, which often come from friends and colleagues. One of my former colleagues suggested doing ‘reindeer noses in a jar’ and this set my creative mind aflame. The ‘reindeer noses in a jar’ I had seen in the past were just made up of a strip of brown felt around the outside of an empty jam jar, onto which were stuck goggle-eyes and a red furry nose.
The reindeer heads take shape and are temporarily stored on a lampshade.
Probably setting it as a challenge too far, I considered the possibility of creating a reindeer-shaped head out of felt and then attaching that to the jar (with a piece of ribbon) and then decorating it with facial features. So, getting out my recycled pieces of cardboard I started drawing reindeer heads onto pieces of brown and fawn coloured felt and getting busy with the scissors…
The jars are washed and decorated in various festive ribbons.
After cutting some heads out of felt (and attaching them to a lampshade so I didn’t lose them), I got busy cleaning jars and choosing ribbon (tartan was a nice choice, and another that looked like chocolate balls) to attach to the outside of the jars.
The rest, I am sure, is self-explanatory: adding in the facial features etc, but some of the ones in the class were given red fuzzy noses, which also gave them an extra 3D feel. You can see the results, below, which only took me a few hours. Hope they are popular with the buyers at the Christmas Fair… Watch this space…
Finally, the jars are finished and filled with confectionery, with one chocolate ball covered in red foil, to represent Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
Thank you to those who have followed my blog in the last year (or earlier), I hope you will continue to view my posts in 2017. Happy New Year to you all 🙂