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.
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 :)
to the Jaguar itself, applying every single hair individually with a very fine brush. This fur layering process will probably take around 3 layers to get the right balance of tone and level of detail that I like to add into my work and I
break up the intensity of the application by switching to different sections of the painting throughout, it also avoids paint waste as Acrylics can dry quickly so I ensure I place smaller amounts in the paint palette that will be used up before starting with a different range of tones for the next section. There is a lot of small detail on this painting and so it will take a good few hours to complete but I think you'll agree it is a beautiful subject!
Buddy the Springer Spaniel - 11" x 14"
Buddy's portrait was created using 5 different photographs. The body taken from this photo, the head from another, the tail from a third, the background from a fourth and some of the background flowers from a fifth image, all cut and pasted together to create the mock up of the reference image. Doing this can throw a whole lot of problems into the mix as different images can have different lighting, luckily I was able to ensure the correct balance as I was provided with lots of great quality photos that i could pull detail from. As you would suspect the grass took the longest as each blade of grass was applied individually and this was done in 3 layers so individually repeated 3 times!
"I'm sitting looking at Buddy in pride of place on the wall, photo attached! It is absolutely lovely and it had the desired effect on Steve when he unwrapped - there were tears!! Everyone that has seen it has said how amazing it is with the amount of fine detail and so Buddy. If I manage to get a decent photo of Buddy next to it I will send it on! Thank you once again, it is lovely to have a painting of Buddy forever."
Dudley the Springer Spaniel - 9" x 12" in Acrylics
This was a lovely composition but a tiny photo meaning that it pixelated when zooming in and the detail was lost in the face, especially around the eyes. The Commissionee loved the composition so much that I decided to see what I could do and asked if she could send some close up photos of Dudley taken in a less sunny environment and using all the photos together, I elaborated on the background/foreground somewhat and toned down the colouration on his head whilst still keeping the favoured stance. This was a challenge but I really loved the composition too and was happy with the final painting.
"Just wanted to let you know that mum loves her portrait and we all cried our eyes out when we first saw it. What you've done is so special and we couldn't have asked for a better painting to remember him by. It captures his brilliant personality so well. I'll definitely be recommending you to my spaniel loving friends!
Picture of framed painting to follow soon!
The Commissionee only had a few photos of Kita who they had recently lost and so I was limited to flash photos. This image was a nice pose but as flash distorts natural colour I had to guess the balance by using online photos as reference. The image was slightly blurry up close but I found that I was able to apply a lot of fine detail simply by being aware of the fur shortness and the final portrait was far more detailed than I thought possible due to the quality of the photo. The final painting was framed in a lovely black frame which helped Kita's portrait to stand out.
"Hi Karen, I just wanted you to know that I absolutely love my painting of Kita. Thank you so much, you have done the most amazing portrait of him. He was my best friend and my little boy and the painting has been hung in the living room so we can all admire him everyday! Thank you again xx"
Diarmid E-mailed me a great photo of himself, his girlfriend Max and their little French Bulldog Kyla stood in front of the famous red phone box from the film 'Local Hero' when they visited Pennan in Aberdeenshire. As the phone box only covered half the background and the other half would add nothing to the composition it was decided to leave the background out completely and simply write 'Pennan' in the corner of the portrait. As mobile phone images tend to 'flatten' detail, the fineness of the Coloured pencils brought back the sharpness of detail and I really enjoyed creating this portrait - I always love a challenge!
"Hi Karen , Hope you had a lovely Christmas. Wanted to drop you a note to say that Max absolutely loved the portrait! She couldn't believe how well you'd captured the detail from the photo and was thrilled to pieces! We've already recommended you to friends and family and am sure we'll use your amazing skills again in the the future. Have a great New Year!! Diarmid"
This portrait was the last drawing I completed for Christmas and depicts 2 Bearded Collie's called Pyppa (L) & William (R) completed in Coloured pencils. I had taken some photos of them both a year earlier but as William (R) is a rather nervous little boy, I struggled to get any close ups of him. trying to distinguish between them after a year was a challenge too! I was provided with a few great quality photos which I could also use to add in their eyes a little more too.
"Thank you so much for my beautiful portrait, you've really excelled yourself this time, its amazing!"
"I just wanted you to know that I absolutely love my painting of Kita. You have done the most amazing portrait of him, he was my best friend and my little boy. I love him so much and the painting of him has been put up in the living room so we can all admire him everyday!!!
Thank you again" xx
Karen, I was the lucky one to receive this beautiful painting. I can't tell you what a lovely gift it is, thank you so much for capturing Willow's character so well. I absolutely love it, it's beautiful and one to be treasured for many years to come.
Murphie - Large Traditional Heart Memorial portrait
"Murphie arrived home safe and sound this afternoon and what can I say. The photos were fantastic but she is even better now I can see her in "close up". I always knew it would be hard to lose Murphie after having her in my life for 20 years but I didn't fully appreciate just how big of a hole she would leave behind. Your painting has given me little bit of my girl back and I can't seem to tear my eyes away from it at the moment. I attach a photo so that you can see that she arrived unscathed and thank you again for everything. You made the process so easy from start to finish and you took good care of my girl and have created a truly fitting memorial to her and for that I am so grateful"
Bailey - 10" x 12" Coloured pencil pet portrait
" Bailey just arrived! Well, about 15 minutes of tape removal ago. We are so chuffed! Bailey was loved by all of us, but loves my husband best, he was over the moon! We are blessed by your talent!
I just love him! Thank you so much! xxxx"
Obe - 11" x 14" Boxer Dog Acrylic painting
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