Sunday, July 28, 2013

Working my way back to youuuuuuuuuuuu :-)

Goodness gracious where did the time go? I've probably read a billion blog pages and at some point or other the writer is bound to have a lapse of writing and come back all apologetic. So now it is my turn, Gomen kudasai, (please accept my sorrys) as they say in this corner of the world.

So I think working backwards might be the way to go here. The most recent portrait to garner my signature was a sweet teeny tiny little Yorkshire Terrier belonging to a wonderful friend ( Hi B.!:-)) I hadn't done a straight haired dog in a while so was wondering about getting the shine in on her coat.

I didn't work from this picture but you can get an idea of how minuscule she is :-)
I didn't take too many along the way pictures but did have fun playing with camera angles on the close to finished portrait as you'll see below.

.........and from the top!

This little sweetheart had the most expressive eyes that lit up when you caught her smiling:-)


Then the final picture although I have no idea what happened to cause that line down the side and only noticed it later. Sadly it is the only final shot I have.

Can't forget that cute lil' tongue!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spot the difference :-)

So I have two pictures of the same dog, Ruthy. Actually she was the multi-coloured pup you met in the last post. Can you spot the small tweak I made from one photo to the next? well, apart from the fact that the first one is taken in closer proximity to the artwork. :-) C'mon you didn't think I'd make it THAT easy!? LOL!!

And then this one. Taken a little further away. I'll be perfectly honest with you, I hadn't intended her to fill the paper so much. But she looked a little stumpy in the crown when I left her coiffure tight to her head. So I went at it. I continued to primp up those beautiful poodle curls and she just expanded past the paper's borders. I loved the end result as it was a bit of a departure from what I have done so far. I think on my next in between commissions experiment I may just do eyes, cat's eyes as I'm suffering from withdrawal symptoms for cat portraits :-) If you follow my FB page at all you'll know that the cat commissions are few on the ground but the dog commissions are rolling in. Not complaining at all at all. Still thrilled to bits that this is working out beyond my wildest dreams :-) 


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy New Year!!

I'm excited. I'm not even 6 months in and there is a waiting list. People are out there wanting me to draw their beautiful, precious fur-babies. What an honour and what a responsibility! What am I like?!!! I'm giving it my all and enjoying every minute of it. I can't believe that this time last year I didn't know the joy of drawing, painting, experimenting and really breaking out of my paralysis of "Crap! what is the difference between a 2B and a 2H, wahhhhhhh difference must be so big I can't draw......

I am truly looking forward to what 2013 brings on all levels. 2012 was a stellar year for me. I took many leaps of faith with skills I had within but didn't acknowledge, use or even recognise. I became unemployed (but thankfully found part-time work to tide me over), I looked inside, I found art, I resurrected my yoga, I published a book and most of all I listened to me. It was one of the best years out ever. I thoroughly recommend taking a year out from your 'regular life' and just listening to what is inside YOU. We are all here because I found art. No, really you are only reading this far because you are most likely waiting for me to slot a picture in  somewhere soon :-) Ahhhh go on!!! I know you!!! ;=)

My rendition of Lucy in the Sky with Diamondssssssss

            I started my learning curve with paper. This almost had me running the other way!!! Seriously though, art or paper for art is like learning a new language. until you realize that all these lofty sounding names are actually brand names rather than a type of or kind of paper. Strathmore?...... name only! ......and there was me imagining it was a British paper made in the tiniest heirloom village of the British lake district by the 7th generation son who had learned the trade from his ailing grandfather who........ bleh di bleh bleh bleh..... NO! Strathmore is just good paper that is available in good art shops.... bah dah boooom!! They have a large variety within the brand, which most definitely can be confusing to the non-paper "knower", but what I have used, is just wonderful paper, period.

     I can say wonderful paper because I use it. I do trial runs when I get commissions. For those trial runs I use cheap stuff as in cheap paper. Then for the ordering client I move to the 'good stuff' as in good paper. Chalk and cheese, as in the very difference differences are made of. Chalk, dry by nature, cheese the very opposite, fatty. Here is a Pug-sicle I did as practice on the cheap paper. It looks  no different than what is done on the good paper BUT, and here is the big thing, it is that aforementioned chalk and cheese to draw on. This  paper disintegrates with an eraser nearby. Truly, it is that weak. Wait until I tell you about pencils! you'll never look at them the same again!

Trial run

Monday, December 17, 2012

Honey I'm baaaaaaack!;-)

Hello there! It has been a while, sorry about that! Life kind of caught up with me and once the new semester started it was a head down and nose to the grindstone kind of deal. The commissions took on a steady flow during that time, for which I was very thankful. A few I can't divulge yet as they are Christmas presents, but in time their presence and the evolution of their portraits will grace these parts.

Today I'd like to introduce you to Lime, a much loved elderly Schnauzer on mainland Japan. I started out by roughly sketching out the shape of the head, making sure the eyes were in the right place and that the nose wasn't too far down. I have learned quite a bit about the camera angles here. If I take the picture from slightly above the muzzle looks quite a bit longer and if I take the shot looking slightly up at the subject invariably the nose becomes a little more snubbed. You guys are smart you probably already know this. I was just fascinated at how small an adjustment could impact the picture in such a big way.

Any way, I reverted to my usual oreo approach of getting the eyes and nose up to a high standard right off the bat. I say a high standard and not perfect because they undergo sooooooooo many changes throughout the drawing process.What may look quite decent to start off with actually might not look the best when everything else is in place. Take a look at these pictures of this Miniature Pinscher. Ignore the rest of the head and other features, look at the eyes and nose.Not too bad if I may say so myself hehehehe yup, I just said it ;-) but then look at the finished version and the differences that occurred between then and now.

ok, got a bit carried away there, and that little minx hogged Lime's moment of glory for a second. Back to Lime. I delivered the portrait on Saturday to a very excited niece. I hope her uncle is as happy with the picture as I was by the end of drawing it. From all the photos I received to draw the portrait, it was easy to see how loved and adored Lime was. It really warmed my heart. 


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Whisper is a wonderful wonderful dog. She has beauty, sweetness and the most soulful eyes you'll ever see. She seems to always take things seriously except when she smiles. And boy this gal can smile! She is a stunner when she is laughing.

worried Whisper

This picture was an on again off again portrait for me. Art is teaching me patience and perseverance. One minute I'm looking at the picture's evolution and thinking hmmmmm I didn't quite get it so I'll start again in a few minutes. I continue and then I step back a little later and think 'Cool, I got it' . So here is Whisper's graphic evolution:-)
hmmmm a little psycho looking no?

I use a few pictures to hone in on features. Ears maybe clearer in one and eyes in another. This was my eyebrow tuft reference picture :-)


Here is the picture I used to draw her from. It was a small file, hence the need for all the other reference photos.


This beautiful dog is Stateside waiting patiently for Momma to come home. Mom was really smart and brought some of her fur babies home just that little bit earlier than the whole family, their earthly belongings and then some. Moving kids, animals, household goods and all that goes along with them is hard on any continent but doing it in between continents and it gets a lot more tension inducing. So Whisper is counting the minutes till she and her family (with and without fur) are reunited.

Not long now baby girl

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Like I mentioned before this is a whole new exciting ball game for me and like a kid in a candy store I just gotta try everything. If you haven't already gathered I'm a bit of an animal lover so those furries were my first dabble in things arty. While most folks would expand from people to pets I went against the traffic and the opposite way, from pets to people.  Below is my first little girl in graphite which I can post now because it is Mom's birthday tomorrow:-)

And then I got my colored pencils :-) so the world on my paper changed. I posted this on my FB page first with the title my first baby and I got congratulatory mails..........sorry to disappoint but this is a baby I only made on paper:-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Campaign time!!!

From the 20th of September to the 20th of October, 20% of all pet portrait commissions go to Doggie Orphans Great and Small (D.O.G.S)  (they rescue cats too). These make great presents and will be ready on time for Christmas  if ordered within this time frame. Check out the Nitty gritty page for details of pricing and photo tips.
This is Jack Jack, from a previous campaign I ran with D.O.G.S.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A new first

My first international order went off today.I don't think I'll rest easy until I know it has arrived safely. Kind of overkill I suppose but it had four layers of extra strength cardboard, a hard plastic case and tissue to protect that. All of the above in a bubble wrap envelope with a big ole red FRAGILE stamped on the outside. Fly safe, stay straight and undamaged and grace the walls of your new home with elegance like the lady in the picture has done for so many years:-)....................ok , yeah I got a little attached to this one:-)

A pet portrait lies within

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Typhoon eile!

From one solid colour to another. Frost taught me white. He was a very handsome pure white Malmute possible Samoyed cross. White to look at, but it took about 8 colours to get his coat right.

Finished Frost

In between commissions I need to take some down time and draw some art that isn't too important if I mess up. Art that I can go with the flow with. This pup was just what the doctor ordered. Fun to do but not quite right. Plus I got to use about half of my new box of colours so it was all good:-)

I'll call her Doodle ;-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Other mediums

Just opened my eyes and there they were in all their glory right in front of me. One minute they were a thumbnail on an art website and the next they were here in Okinawa, just imploring me to play.  I find it hard to say no, so instead I said yes:-) My Prismaclor coloring pencils were a like the best box of chocolates you could hope for.... they had a glorious third layer.

Showing only one layer here because I don't want to get you over excited:-)
Having recently acquired artist quality black paper I was excited to see what all the hype was about these colouring pencils. I went straight for the blues because I have a white dog with one blue eye that I'm very eager to draw. I wanted to see how they all looked against the black back drop and how vividly they would stand out. These pencils are in a word AWESOME. They are so vibrant, their pigment is full of vitality. VERY excited to work with these and expand my horizons some more.

hmmmmm the photo camera skills don't do the colours justice.

Here are those eyes I was telling you about. I started this as a practice sheet but it was going really well and everything was falling into place. I didn't document each stage as I thought I'd be doing it again. We'll see, I'm loving how it is working out, it is on my right track so I'll take the pictures from here on out. I still have some way to go so we'll have to see which way that cookie is going to crumble.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

New page in the title line :-)

I just finished my first black haired (and bits of white) animal commission. What an opportunity for learning it turned out to be. I saw her wonderful HUGE file photographs (Thank you for the outstanding photographs provided) and thought , "YES, I have this". Well suddenly I was on a learning curve I didn't even know had been  looming. Black fur isn't as easy as it makes itself out to be I'll have you know:-)

As usual I started with the eyes after the initial outline. Then I moved to her luxuriant coat............. baddaboom. Do I build up with my lower 'B' pencils or do I go straight for the high 'b's softer yet darker lead. Interesting conundrum I decided the best course of action was to try both on a different sheet. The lowB build up and the high B flat out, yield similar visual results BUT and this is a big BUT, the softer lead  of a 7B pencil lifts right off the page if you touch it. So when I came back to my sample sheet after lunch I found a big ole finger print, my finger print in the middle of my 7B sample. Huh!! who'da thunk it? There you go. So lesson learned for a more stable permanent and dense mark on your paper, work it up. Your shadows will thank you:-)

So this is Star, my darker shades teacher. She is a 19 year old former feral kitty who currently resides in Virginia.

Extreme ear-tipping.
I went a got myself a new page in the title line works in progress. You can follow the evolution of portraits as they come to life. Star's story is my first entry.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Typhoon productions

I was busy, very busy all throughout the typhoon. It battered the bejaysus out of the house but we are still standing, functioning, leaking around the edges just a little but we are here all 7 of us. That is the 5 furbs and two humans.

Thankfully we didn't lose power so I literally sat in front of reference photos for the three days we were housebound. The good thing about all this sitting, drawing and captivity was that I made a huge indent on both my to experiment list and my commissions list.

Like anything you do in life, you gotta keep practicing to keep your skills up. So experimenting is power for the course. There is no point in telling you I was an accomplished pianist when I was 15 if I haven't laid fingers on a set of keys in almost 20 years.  BTW I wasn't that good but I don't think I could even manage Yankee Doodle now.

Anyway Typhoon sequestration saw me whittle down my order list and learn a few new things. These new things will appear over the next few weeks as some of them are still a secret. I'm pretty excited:-)
Add caption

Monday, August 27, 2012


Kind of felt like I was doing it right :-)
Just a small experiment with Pastel blocks. A rather messy affair but still a lot of fun. As I don't really know one medium from another I have this massive urge to experiment with them all. I tend to get pulled in by the colour ranges and how pretty and perfect these sets look displayed in the shop. I have owned this box of pastels for about 7 years now and they are still in pristine condition. Well, that was until yesterday when I decided they were mature enough to be played with.

I picked out a picture of a steel grey kitten and doubled his size on the paper. His eyes look too human I think. I'm working out how to 'cat-ify' him some more. So until then I'll leave you with his dry pastel beginnings.

Human-oid Kitty

Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting Hammered.

Ok, I'll admit, I didn't draw this one but it may leave its artistic impression on our little island. Strongest typhoon to hit Okinawa for 13 years. We are the teeny tiny land mass just to the NorthWest of Typhoon Bolaven.

"Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle........"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Before and After

Sorry no weight loss or plastic surgery pictures here. Only a colour explosion :-)

BEFORE: This charmer is from the oreo post.

AFTER: Same furb, with just a lil' chili added!

Monday, August 20, 2012

An Oreo approach

Quick question..... How do you eat your Oreos? (or any similar sandwich style baked goods) I unrepentantly rip the two sides apart and go straight in for filling. The manufacturer's concept of just the right amount of cookie to balance the sweetness of the frosting is wasted on me. I go for the good bit. If it is any solace to those taste engineers over at Nabisco, I do spend my time meticulously removing the the center from the side it has landed on.

I have found my approach to portraiture is the same. I want to do the details first especially the eyes. Like the Oreo it is a guilty pleasure.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Story of a portrait

Paul is a precious kitty. I know I hear you say "Sure, aren't they all?" Yes, that is true but Paul is particularly precious because he is a survivor. Not only did he and his siblings get rescued from Fukushima's no-go zone at weeks old by the wonderful Japan Cat Network, he was also the only member of his litter to look parvo square in the eye and beat it. He now lives a life full of love with his doting humans. When he is not entertaining them or being adorably cute he surveys his demesne from the safety of his lofty coffee table in the catio.

Paul's guardian commissioned me to draw Paul via a local animal rescue's July campaign I offered. I took photos along the way to show each step as I progressed. I took three days to render this fine boy in total about 15 hours. I was thrilled with the final result and probably held on to the portrait a little too long after finishing it because ( Yes, I am about to unabashedly boast :-)) I just loved it:-) It is in the post now and should safely arrive Chez Paul in the morning:-)

He has the most gorgeous eyes. I couldn't resist getting detailed very early on.

Up close stage 2

Starting on the tag and body

Finished Paul

It is all in the details:-)

First steps

My last formal education in the arts was at the tender age of 12. At that time our two major projects were to produce a drawing using perspective and a self portrait. The next thing I remember I was a grade higher and in a German class because ostensibly I was "good at languages"and the option had been art or German. I spent the next 6 years providing a source of disdain for all German teachers who had the misfortune to have me on their roll. I survived and even put several college professors through the same wringer all the in the name of being "good at languages". At 22 and several German language teachers later I admitted defeat and have consequently spent the last few decades ruing that 12 year old's decision to choose German over art. I recently came to the conclusion I should give it a whirl again. After all isn't that what mid-life crises are all about. Checking if you still have it??? hahahha.

I have just spent the past 6 years in one of the most demoralizing not to mention blatantly racist, work environments of my adult working life. It was with relish I welcomed the last day of the contract but a sense of trepidation about the months of unemployment that loomed.

You may know me in another incarnation as an animal lover and if you didn't....... well, I am. It was only natural that the first thing I drew after my 20+ years art hiatus would be some kind of four leggeder. It was.  I can't remember which came first, the cat or the dog, but they knocked on my doorstep and I produced over 200 cartoon notelets to raise funds for Doggies Inc. NPO. Every single one of them was hand drawn because I hadn't got my head around technology.......hmmm still haven't!!

Notelets for Doggie Orphans Great and Small

Then the appeal went out for a character to advertise a fundraising concert for Japan Cat Network (JCN). Again I found myself responding " ahh, sure I 'll give it a whirl" thankfully there was enough time for them to say "ehm yeah..... thanks but no thanks" and find someone else to do the honours. Thing is, they stuck with me. They liked Jayceen. (did you pick up the really clever cat name? that was Anna's genius) So the guitar hauling rock cat was born and he donned the posters advertising the charity event. Yup, one thrilled Kate in Okinawa.
JCN's Jayceen.

My next inspiration came from one piece of paper. It just happened to be a 100 dollar bill. Yes, yes, yes, my unemployed self is weak and has twinkles in the eyes that are lit up by green notes.....guilty.
I swore I would be giving it back. I had no confidence in myself. At 40 I had drawn nothing for close on 30 years. I will graciously accept your monetary support but are cartoons and stick figures ok? My bill waver had confidence in me and for that I am eternally grateful. I'm 3 months in and I have a waiting list of 5 commissions. I found a niche. I'm still pinching myself that it is actually my niche but time will let me know if I'm welcome to park myself here for a while. I'm thrilled to be on this roller coaster it was worth the awful six year waiting line. The predictability, monotony and rote of that line was leaden, the only guarantee whilst in that hamster wheel was that I would face certain uncertainty at the end of it. It is from this uncertainty and freefall state I find myself in that art came alive for me. Thank you to the powers that be, here I am.

Ah-chan a 16 year maltese poodle cross.