We have been very lucky here in Newbiggin by the Sea with the weather. We've had some warm, sunny days that have allowed myself and my partner John Graham, to get out on our bikes for a couple of hours and cycle along the coast. After 7 weeks of limited movement during the Covid-19 lockdown, getting back out to enjoy our beautiful Northumberland coastline again was wonderful. Here I share some photos of that day plus photos of recent artworks in progress or completed. Finally, a bird rarity to Newbiggin!
Newbiggin in the sun
Last week we went out for a bike ride along the coast. We cycled up to Beacon's Point, which is a popular spot for birdwatchers, being that it turns up rarities from time to time. It was a warm day and we sat on the cliff edge for a while before heading towards Lynemouth power station in the search for Flycatchers and Whinchats. We walked along the path at the side of the golf course which is covered in gorse bushes and an ideal place for birds to nest. This was where John once photographed a Red-spotted Bluethroat. A rarity which attracted a large group of photographers from miles around who set up their cameras on the beach and waited for hours in the hope they got a look, some did, others wasn't so lucky (me included) The latest rarity that turned up in Newbiggin can be found at the bottom of this blog.
'On the Easel' - Kingfisher in Acrylics
I have had some relaxing evenings in the studio recently. Having set my sights on completing some of my unfinished paintings which have been sitting on the shelf for a while, I got the paints back out. The Kingfisher painting is a simple composition, but this is what makes it so effective. This bird overpowers its drab surroundings so extra detail is not really needed. The wooden post was created using a mix of paint and texture gel and the raindrops added at the end helped to frame the bird perfectly. This is a 9" x 12" acrylic painting which is available for sale framed or unframed. You ca see some framed examples below.
Get in touch for details about purchasing this painting.
The reference image used for this painting was taken by John last year. Being surrounded by open fields and small, woodland areas, there is always an abundance of wildlife. The Kingfisher momentarily posed on the wooden post early one morning, giving John enough time to capture a few images, before it departed.
'On the Easel' - Bullfinch & Apple Blossom acrylic painting
This painting was created using two reference images, the Bullfinch and the blossom. There is a cycle path close to home, which has a long row of apple blossom trees where you often see Bullfinches. Although I was able to get photos of the trees in blossom, I was not lucky enough to get a Bullfinch posing at the same time and so used one of John's Bullfinch images.
This is an 8" x 8" acrylic painting which will be available for sale upon completion, either framed or unframed. Contact me for details about purchasing this portrait.
What a find!
John was extremely lucky one morning to capture a glimpse of the stunning European Bee-Eater as it flew over a lake close to home. Although it was a long way off, there is no mistaking the Bee-Eater with its long beak and vibrant colours. Although there have been sightings of Bee-Eaters around the country, this is the first time a Bee-Eater has been seen in Newbiggin by the sea.
Whilst in confinement, I plan to complete a 'few' pieces of art that have been hanging around the studio for a while. Over the weekend, I worked on a painting of myself with our old Labrador/Collie cross called Cindy. I am using the Ampersand Pastelbord which allows me to create smooth layers due to its texture.
Red Squirrel Traditional Heart painting
Last night, I worked on a painting depicting a Red Squirrel called Tintin. The subject lives in Denmark with his 'Paps' (you can read his remarkable story HERE). Paps, (aka Decan), has a special permit to keep Tintin. He also rehabilitates injured Red squirrels until it is safe to re-release them.
Click this button to view the progress page of this acrylic Traditional Heart of Tintin the Red squirrel
The colouration on Tintin has been darkened which aids definition, ensuring perspectives are kept in check whilst I work up the layers and finish by evenly applying the highlights. The detail already added is quite heavy at this stage, this will be softened down as I continue so the fur looks more realistic. Sections of the bark on the tree has been built up using moulding paste to create additional effect and this will be worked on a little more as I go along.
You can find more of my Acrylic paintings in my online art gallery
or see more of my Traditional Heart portraits too.
Bespoke commissions are available to book.
It's been rather quiet on the art front in the studio over the last couple of weeks, not that I haven't done any art, I was away on holiday - but before I left, I actually did something that I had never done before, I actually packed a portrait in my suitcase to work on during the evenings, which actually turned out to be a god send as we were in a caravan without any internet connection for a WHOLE WEEK!!!! Can you even begin to imagine!!
The subject chosen was a 'double collared Sunbird' - a stunning image captured by Scotch Macaskill, a photograher living in South Africa. Having purchased a few of the new Derwent Lightfast pencils, I needed a vibrant composition to try them out, this subject was the perfect choice!
Throwing my standard pencil routine in the bin, I decided to trial out some additional products that I hadn't previously thought of using with pencils because I'm a purist and so instead of paper, I used a 3mm canvas called Pastelbord by Ampersand (usually used for my Acrylic paintings) which has a coarse surface, and my latest purchase of the 'Zest-it pencil blend'. I wasn't even sure if all these products together would work very well, but once I got started I found that they did - I was really enjoying the creative process, so much so that I decided to take it down to Torquay with me.
The 3rd night away, I set up my little studio in the small bedroom, plugging in the desk lamp I'd brought with me and the 4way adapter fell onto the floor, the switch bulbs all lighting up like a christmas tree which then knocked out ALL the electrics in the caravan!!! I was sat in darkness and heard my Dad, where seconds earlier he'd been watching the footy with my brother, shouting out "What's goo'in off!??" We had to call the security guard out who knew nothing about electrics and had to phone a professional up for advice before grabbing a butter knife out the drawer to remove the screws on the electric box outside the caravan and finally flick the electric back on..Hoorahh!! I still managed to get some art done though, being extra careful not to let the adapter fall off the table again, you can see in the image above that there was little space to work - the rest of the evening went without a hiccup thankfully.
Now I'm back in the studio, I am currently working on the Autumn newsletter for my www.stepbystepart.co.uk website and so time is limited for a while, however I had a spare frame that I thought I would store the portrait in until I get the chance to finish up which hopefully won't be too long.
I have just finished this beautiful pet portrait of a Rottweiler called Kira. The reference photo was quite small and much of the detail was missing in the black fur however I spent some time searching online for suitable photos of the dog breed and was able to create a highly detailed 12" x 16" coloured pencil portrait, with the above image showing the final result. Kira arrived home today and is being gifted to the commissionee's husband for his birthday later in the month. I hope Kira's portrait is enjoyed for many years to come by them both.
Last year I had 4 portraits that were booked as Christmas Commissions as well as 3 that weren't but that needed to be delivered before Christmas to avoid the postal build up and last year was pretty hectic. All bar one (the Chow Chow dog) were small portraits but this year however I had 3 larger portraits booked in which allowed a much steadier pace. One was not booked as a Christmas Commission and so delayed until the New Year to avoid getting damaged in the overseas post to the USA, and so here are the 2 completed Commissions that I hope were received well by their recipients this Christmas day.
Click on either image to see the progress page.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas day and received some thoughtful gifts too.
Wishing you the very best for the New Year 2019!
After recently losing our Springer Spaniel, Christmas will be a quiet in the Berisford/Graham household but our 3 Labradors were happy to open their present from Mum, literally! I took 3 old gift bags and put sellotape over the top so they had to work out how to get their smelly bone inside. I thought I'd share some photos of the unwrapping.....
Storm - Happy with the world!
Our Storm is about 8½ and an extremely affectionate dog. He loves toys particularly furry ones having dragged our Springer round the garden in the past because he had fur around the neck of his winter coat, so when I gave him this gift bag with a bone in the bottom, he was simply happy with the gift bag and carried it round the garden for a bit before laying on his back for a tummy tickle.
When I attempted to take his gift bag off him, he then thought we were playing a game of tug before the bag began to give way, at that moment he shredded the bag into pieces enjoying every moment and then grabbed the bone. He was off leaving me to pick his mess up!
Haze - The greedy dog
Haze is 7 in January and an absolute gannet! He knew there was food in the bottom of his gift bag and was desperate to get to it ignoring my calls of 'Sit' for the camera. He wasn't interested in playing with a gift bag that he had never seen before, just getting to the yummy bone inside.
He ripped off as much as he needed to before sticking his nose in and grabbing the bone. As there was minimal damage next to the other 2 dogs efforts, I might be able to use the bag for someones pressi next year!
Switch aka Titch - A bit confused...
Titch is about 12 now and his eyesight isn't as good as it was. Having never seen a gift bag before either, he had no idea what he was supposed to do with it. Should he chew it, avoid it or wee on it? He could hear that his Mum was encouraging him to play with it so picked it up for her, attempting to give it to her as Mum usually asks him to do that for a treat.
After more coaxing he gently put his head in the bag...was he going to get the bone? No, he was somewhat confused that now the big gift bag was stuck on his head and took it a walk round the garden banging into the dustbin before Mum took it off him and gave him his bone.
I hope you have spoilt your babies this Christmas and have lots of fun photos of them too!
Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and all the best for 2019!
Latest Articles at my Step by Step Art website
For those who do not know, I have a dedicated website for Artists with free articles covering different mediums and Art products. I have just completed 8 new articles for my Step by Step Art website which can be viewed by clicking on any of the image links below. These cover Coloured pencils, Acrylic paints, Graphite pencils & Pastels as well as Art Accessories, mini tutorials and guest posts by other Artists such as Welsh Oil painter Chris Chalk who offers advice on which 3 products you will need to start out with Oils.
Each article will open a new tab to the Step by Step Art website.
Karen's 1 day Art Workshops 2018 - From £42.00pp
My 1 Day Art Workshops are now available to book. There are 2 Coloured Pencil Workshops, a Graphite pencil Workshop and an Acrylic Paints Workshop all of which will be run over 2 weekends, the first in May and the second in August. Prices start from £42.00 per person or you can book a weekend Workshop together with prices starting from £80.00. Art Kits can be loaned or purchased and there are 10 places available on each Workshop. If you are looking to learn how to create highly detailed Art, these Workshops are ideal. Get in touch or click on any of the images below to find out more about the Workshop of interest.
Please feel free to share this article or any of the articles and Workshops over at the Step by Step Art website by clicking on any of the 'social' buttons.
Christmas orders began coming in by September last year (2017) and I had little time to spend on anything else. I worked around 10 - 12 hours a day from mid October onwards and had to create a finely tuned schedule list for each day to ensure every portrait was completed for a specific date because there were a few overseas orders, some framed too and I had to ensure frames were received in plenty of time knowing framers tend to be extremely busy in the run up to Christmas too. I was hoping to have finished all my orders a week before I was due to travel to my old home town of Chesterfield so I could relax a bit but I was literally working late into the night before my journey the next morning!
Luckily everything worked out well in the end and my final portrait Star the Chow Chow, was literally collected by the Commissionee at the train station when I arrived in Chesterfield, he had travelled the 6 hours with me on bus, coach and then train in my suitcase! I received a lovely bunch of flowers from the lady for his painting and was pleased to see some lovely comments from recipients throughout Christmas day upon seeing the portrait of their much loved Pets. Click on any of the images to visit the progress pages.
Now all the Christmas Commissions are all complete and I've had a couple of weeks off to recharge, I am back in the studio working on new articles and 2018 Art Workshops for my Step by Step Art website, there's always so much to do behind the scenes. If you are looking to book your own bespoke Commission with me or are an Artist interested in articles, mini tutorials and possibly taking in a 1 Day Art Workshop with me, click on either of the links below to visit the page/website.
Here's hoping 2018 is a wonderful year for you!
It has been a while since I posted on my News page as it has been very busy here in the studio and I completed my final Chesterfield Art Workshop of this year in August and so I thought I would share some of my recent Acrylic paintings with you.
I currently have a list of works to start and others to finalise and more shelves have been put up in the studio to house all my portraits. I prefer to work between portraits as well as swapping mediums, as this works better for me and so there are currently 20 portraits in progress stages, more nearing completion than those in the early stages. Here are 3 of my recent works that I have not yet shared within the pages of my website:
Amethyst Sunbird on Red Hot Poker
Since finding the talented Scotch Macaskill's Reference photos website, I have been inspired to get back to my first love in Art which is Birds. Scotch is an amateur photographer who lives in South Africa and captures whatever photos of South African Wildlife that he can whilst on Safari with whatever camera he has to hand at the time.
I have chosen many reference images from his site and these paintings when complete, will be added to a new website purely depicting all my Wildlife Art, mostly Acrylic work but some Coloured pencil portraits too. I will keep you up to date with this new website but suspect it will be sometime next year when it is up and running as I have a lot of paintings to create yet! Here is one of the first Sunbirds I am working on. It is a male Amethyst feeding on a Red Hot Poker flower also known as a Torch Lily.
I have had the ideal composition photograph of a Red Hibiscus flower for many years and knew I would create it in Art at some point. I chose the Acrylics for such a subject as their vibrancy would be ideal for such a colourful subject.
I applied some tiny blobs of Molding Paste to areas where there were water droplets on the flower and as I already had a gold frame for this portrait, decided to change the colour of the flower to yellow, although the portrait is not yet finished and I may yet change my mind again! This is progress so far along side my little pots of pre-mixed colours that I use for this and a few other paintings I have on the go.
Haze the Black Labrador - Progress so far in the first 4 stages
As we have 4 dogs - 3 Labradors & a Springer Spaniel who love splashing around in the water when we take them out on walks, I wanted to do 4 separate portraits of each and as I enjoy the challenge of painting water, I picked out 4 of my favourite photos that we have captured of them over the years. I have already completed the Springer Spaniel Casper, and this is Haze, the daft Labrador of the bunch! The slideshow below shows current progress of this painting in 4 stages.
The background is always the first thing I work on and the main subject can then be finalised afterwards.
Thanks for viewing and I hope you found this post interesting,
Feel free to 'like' or leave us a comment below!
Have a lovely day, Karen :)
Latest Acrylic Art progress - A beautiful Cherry Blossom Dachshund 'Miss Molly' & Summertime boy 'Storm'
In between Commissions, I will pick the paintbrushes up and work on a Non-Commission portrait. The first one is of a gorgeous little Black Dachshund dressed up for her photo op in the Cherry Blossoms which I thought would make a stunning painting and after Molly's Mum gave me the green light to use her reference photo, I chose a square 12" x 12" canvas size and set to work.
This is quite a technical piece as usually I will begin with the background ensuring it is 95% complete before beginning the subject itself but as there is so much detail in the background and some overlap onto Molly herself, I am doing a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing, it also breaks up the monotony of all those pink petals which can make you 'blind' to detail if I stare at something for too long.
I purchased a frame for it a while back and chose the detailed yet understated 'BROCKWELL' black frame (priced at £45) mainly to set those pinks off well but also as a compliment to Molly's colouration ensuring both the frame and flowers will not overpower Molly once complete. There are many more hours to do but I will post here when I have further updates so do keep checking back regularly or you can follow me on my Facebook page at Karen M Berisford's Artworld.
'Summertime Boy' - An Acrylic painting of our Yellow Labrador 'Storm' relaxing in the evening sunshine
We have 4 dogs ( 3 Labradors & a Springer Spaniel) and 2 birds (Ringneck Parakeet & a Cockatiel) I wanted to create some small paintings of each to hang at the top of our stairs, so I opted for an 8" x 10" size and picked favourite images of each dog in the same type of stance ( head to the side) with a 'foliage' background to match.
I began with our Yellow Labrador Storm, and loosely applied the background colours as a base which can look rather messy at this stage but then I tidy it up and create a softer balance of tones, I then move on to the main subject. In the reference photo, there is a lot of sun shining on the right side of the body and some of his natural colour has been lost due to the need to lighten up a dark photo and so I decided to work from another photo of him to add a more natural colour to his fur and to soften the harsh glow of the sun somewhat.
I chose the ASHGATE frame (priced at £40) to compliment all the portraits as it is a tonal colour of silver/gold which would match the warm browns in the Yellow Labrador & the Liver Springer and the silver tones would suit the Black Labradors and the neutral colours (greys/whites) of my 2 Birdies also. I will keep updating this blog with progress as and when, understandably I have a lot to do with 6 paintings but I think they'll look beautiful together once all framed and hung!
Feel free to share this post or leave a comment below if you wish!
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Karen M Berisford