Friday, December 21, 2012

Nipper the Coon Cat

"Nipper" the Coon cat 8x8 oil on board

This is Nipper, a Coon cat, that was rescued from the wild in 1998 but went missing in 2008, the owner has commissioned me to paint his portrait along with three other of her cats.
Nipper was a big cat and one of the Coon family a breed brought over on ships many years ago from Europe. They are friendly and can be very large compared to other breeds this one has many colours in his coat and beautiful long whiskers. They come in many colours this one I think is special and looks like he has plenty of character.  I really  enjoyed painting him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas celebration in the 40's

Lighting the candles on the tree ( photo from Google)

As we get older we love to reminisce: growing up in my home city Bristol UK Christmas was very different being just after the War we were far from having the goodies the kids are privy to now.

It wasn't quite Charles Dickens Scrooge we did make paper chains to hang from the ceiling, lots of white glue made from flour and water kept us busy for a few hours, usually made a week before Christmas

The Cockerel, unknown by us, was being fattened up for the Celebration dinner.
This year's cake.
Janet Parker lighting the candles on a very ancient tree!
Mum had us sitting at the table as she made our Christmas pudding that was a treat, dried fruit, cherries of course, suet, eggs etc. all went into the mix ready for us to stir and make our wishes in silence, eyes tightly closed. That went into to a big black saucepan for hours of cooking on the stove.
All this was the start of excitement especially when Mum would take us to the local shops for picking out the tree we bought it from the Vegetable Shop, to me it was magical picking out the little fresh pine tree at the time I thought was huge when we brought it home sitting on top of my sisters pram her peaking from in  between the branches. I felt very important.

We had an aspidistra pot to put the tree in and water it, Mum had real candles that were attached to the tree with clips not to be lit till Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated with paper lanterns we had made and they were arranged carefully away from the candles, then we would place it on the Sideboard in all it's glory waiting for THE moment for lighting up. By then the excitement was really building ,the Christmas cake was made and we had a hand in decorating it with cochineal pink icing finishing it up with silver balls you could eat, just set the whole thing off. The coal  fire lit and the shutters at the window closed we would sit by the fire with Mum telling us stories of her Christmases years gone by while we ate a Jaffa orange (our fathers stash) which was our secret!

I can remember Jo my sister and I would get out of our beds on Christmas eve and were quiet as little mice,sitting on the stairs listening to paper being wrapped and thinking Father Christmas was with Mum having a glass of milk and a chat! of course it was Mum and my Grandmother doing the wrapping and no doubt having a glass of good cheer doing it.

I have no idea of the time but eventually we would settle in our beds waiting for THE moment to come.We never did see Father Christmas (he was busy) but waking up very early and tweaking our toes at the end of our beds he managed to leave a stocking each full of special treats an orange and nuts with sweets at the bottom of the stocking and gifts usually crayons paper jigsaw puzzles plasticine in coloured strips to make
pretend cakes, usually ended up stuck to the bed sheets and the dainty box of handkerchiefs with  embroidered flowers on them. best of all for me were the comics Beano and Dandy just the start to the best day of the year With the aroma of a beautiful chicken cooking, we never did find out where the Cockerell went, we were told he was on a holiday ! We were happy just listening to the radio by the fire with our gifts around us looking forward to Aunt Olga's visit for tea and a little sherry with Christmas cake.

Simple good times.

Merry Christmas to you and your family

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vermeer's "The Lace Maker"

Vermeer's "The Lace Maker"
Vermeer's original
Another Challenge from

When I saw this picture as a challenge I dismissed it right away!
The original is approx 8 x 8 and hangs in the Louvre.
Vermeer is famous for using something called a Camera Obscura and made his paintings beautifully clear and detailed.
This one is different not so detailed but still has the feeling almost similar to the idea of being abstract especially on one side of the subject. The more I looked the more it told me to try and work on it. I loved the deep blues and greens of the material and the challenge of the concentration on the young girl as she works on the lace, her fingers working so delicately on her work. The light coloured background is unusual too.
Babs' version oil on board 8x8
Anyway it has certainly kept me in a state of complete concentration with many frustrating breaks away: the angle of he face and hardly much detail eyes cast down and a dark nose and lips cast in shadow,
Phew I have learned a lot on this one patience, and definitely frustration it all goads us on though to do better.

When I saw Babs working on this I thought I'll whip one off" and get back into painting again. Well I did get back into painting, but hardly "whipped" it off!
I paint quite loose and frequently leave the undercoat showing through, not allowed on this one first try looked awful, and funnily enough I couldn't see the faults until I looked at a photo.
John's Version oil on board 8x8
Another mistake was that I did a brown undercoat, it would have been better blue to get the cold light of the original.
Tis done and now back to trees and a lake!

Friday, November 30, 2012

String of Pearls

Aother painting Challenge from
"String of Pearls" 8x10 oil on board
Paint and Draw Together

At first glance this picture caught my eye, I have always loved pearls, it amazes me that an oyster could produce such a beautiful jewel with all the colours of the rainbow.

Never having owned a real string of pearls I thought at least I can try and paint some. Easier said than done, they capture light from colour so well .

As these were resting on a shell and on a highly coloured rock it made the pearls extremely difficult to capture the softness and reflections.

This is an attempt that pails from what I saw in my mind but, decided to finish the project and ask for some suggestions from fellow artists on their ideas on how to get the glow to look real??


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Morning After a Good Night Out

"Morning After a Good Night Out" 8x10 oil on board

A Challenge from Paint and Draw Together

I have found this website to be a little different, challenges come out once a month. I achieved the old master type painting after a fashion, enjoyed doing that a lot and certainly realize there were mistakes but, that is OK that's how we learn. It's the opportunity to look at the same work other artists produce encouraging us to make comments from other artists.

Meantime I have worked on an old challenge dark background of a yellow rose and delicate vase. This has been a challenge working out the fallen petals and all the shadows and reflections in the glass.
It really kept me occupied that's for sure, sometimes it just takes a tiny spot of colour to make things shine. Training myself now to look more at all the little things you can play with and experiment making the painting come to life.

We will see if I get some comments and some good ideas to make it look more professional.

I have named the painting "The morning after a good night out"!
thanks for looking in on our blog.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Dew Drops on Roses

Dew Drops on a Rose oil on board 8x10
Barn Owl, oil on board 8x8

I have deviated somewhat from painting dogs,but, the experience was a change to paint some still life. I am enjoying the change in colours and working on this lovely rose with dew drops has been a challenge, concentrating on petals with soft curves and varying light and shade, dew drops were difficult but interesting lots of practice coming up with that one!

The owl was fun, I liked the way he looked from behind the hay..

One thing about painting small boards you have the ability to try many subjects which for me is good to stretch imagination and improve technique, it's all an interesting way to practice something that means a lot to me personally I guess that is all part of creativity it keeps you on your toes and good for the brain too.

I won't forget the puppies though, they are part of my passion and to help in a small way.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

In the Style of the Old Masters

8x10 Oil on board
In spite of all the chaos in the house with the leaking roof, I managed to get some painting done,
We found a blog for Artist'Paint and Draw together' which encourages beginners and artists to get together and help each other. Each month a picture is displayed which you can use any medium the time frame is
just right even if you have a busy life you can manage to work at it without rushing.

This month is a part of an old master painting containing apple, cherries a bowl and silver vase. At first it looked a bit daunting but, once you start the process you understand more about soft edges, tones and colours. It's a good teaching tool as well. We are looking forward to getting to know others through this blog and learn to critique and enjoy others work too


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunset on the Crouch

Sunset on the Crouch, 36x30 Acrylic on canvas
This a from a photo taken many years ago when we were invited to sail on a relatives yacht along the River Crouch and into the North Sea.

A wonderful experience, and this shows the peace of the evening, especially after a dinner of Fish & Chips from a local shop right on the dockside.

This is the largest painting I have ever done, I used Acrylic paint, thinking that the fast drying would be an advantage, it was in some ways, but a problem with acrylic is the colours darken when dry and with a dark subject like this I found that very frustrating, so much so I shoved the painting in a spare room and never looked at it for a long time.

But now I get praise for it and when I look through fresh eyes I like it!

You can get acrylic paint now that keeps the colour when dry, I highly recommend Winsor & Newton's "Artists Acrylics".

But for me I now paint in oils and love it!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Couple of Drips in an Old House

The big Reveal!

Well it has been a couple of weeks of  little problems turning into a bit bigger than we expected, and with Sandy the big storm on the way we realized things should get fixed quickly.

We live in a lovely old house built in the 1860's but with old age comes problems the most recent being a drip of water coming into our Parlour which we couldn't understand. The rain over the last few days had increased the problem so it was serious enough to get it fixed quickly  before the drop became a flow.

It was traced eventually to the water flowing  between the wall and plaster board in our bedroom, so  John had to work at removing a lot of drywall and insulating material so that the cause of the drip could be found.
This meant us sleeping  in the spare bedroom, which is probably more comfortable than our own room!

Eventually an expert came and after climbing up ladders and prowling over the roof, the solution was found: get the roof re-tiled!

Now we are waiting for the roofer to work out a quote and assess if it is feasible to do the job at this time of the year, if not we will have to keep the bucket in the bedroom and carry on sleeping in the spare room.

Barn Owl Oil on board 8x10
Luckily the huge Storm has past and we were very lucky to escape with a lot of rain and high winds but no damage.

It's amazing how something out of nowhere can really stop you from functioning normally and totally freezing your creative mind!

A little creativity did get done though Babs just finished painting this delightful little barn Owl.

Babs & John

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Studies in loose strokes

Study from original by Bryce Cameron Liston
I have many difficulties in painting the first I tend not to get values correctly, whether that's a function of my brain or eyesight I'm not sure. My work tends to lean toward reality,but, I admire many artists that can work with very strong strokes even if it's still life or portraits the ability of confidence and concentration to stroke on one line of colour intermixed and not muddy up your work is a miracle.
I consider what I do is always a work in progress not having the luxury of being taught by a pro., but I have a guide in my head that does talk sometimes a lot!
John has had the opportunity to have been to a few classes so knows all about the taboos his work is looser and he achieves and enjoys perspective uses measuring devises due to have been a draftsman in engineering so he gets the right proportions. So I am fortunate to have him tell me when I am too light with values or perspectives are not correct.

I have over the last year painted almost every day, mostly dogs for rescue a few horses a goat and a cow with a calf. I have worked on still life too inspired by Carol Marine who does incredible work  and makes  painting wet on wet look a breeze .

Everyone that has a creative side for arts and crafts knows it is a consistent practice towards perfection, good days when the Art Fairy sits on your shoulder and in a good zone you feel at last you "GOT IT" only to find when you leave the area and go back later some elf has definitely worked in some mischief and you crumble. Luckily we found Robert Genn who has the ability to be kind enough to goad us poor mortal right brainer's not to give up. He helps keep you motivated.

So the last couple of days I went out on a limb and did a brightly coloured study of young women. Lots of fun and lots of anguish. I have decided to put this on the blog with a great deal of angst! any helpers out there
who know the how toos I would appreciate a word or two.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

September on Main Street

September on main Street 18x24 Oil on canvas
Brick and leaves, what a combination!Fun to paint from a photo I took in mid September. This is a lovely old house that has been renovated in the last few years and the reno was done with great respect to the original.

Now all the leaves are on the grass but the house still looks strong and ready for  Winter, I do too!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Little Bull!

"A Little Bull" 8x10 oil on Board
This is from a photo by a friend of ours, Erika Longman, who works at Everdale farm in Erin.
The farm has a Lovely Facebook page where they state   "Everdale is a teaching farm that provides hands-on, solution-based food and farming education to build and engage healthy local communities."

Erika tells us:  The Farm is about how people are so disconnected from agriculture and Everdale is working hard to fix that, in a variety of ways, through the programs they offer."

Painting this Scottish Island bull was quite a challenge because of his beautiful coat, but I think I go there!

The farm is just starting their Fall Fund Raising Campaign and I am donating this painting for the auction.
So if you would like it keep an eye on the website:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bullies in Need

These two puppies need help!
We are in touch with Bullies in need and today we were able to send a donation for two little puppies in need of help and quickly.
It seems there was an incident in, Pembroke it was such a frightening and unbelievable event We thought it was worth reporting.

Too often we hear of dogs having aggressive tendencies and it's usually accepted without a second thought Oh it's one of those Bull dogs they're aggressive and obviously have be to dealt with immediately put down!

Although not all the details have not been released we are still wondering what happened to create the situation to find an owner of a female dog so aggressive he took bites out of the animal which injured her, luckily someone saw what was happening and managed to report it to the police .

As it happened the dog had two puppies which were rescued,and in an emergency foster home according to "Bullies in Need" "They are 10 weeks old, and will need to be fully vetted before they can be adopted to forever homes outside of Ontario. They need vaccines, neuters, and "puppy stuff".

The Mum is being attended to and will probably survive.

At the moment Bullies in Need are in need of donations in a hurry to help the little ones. $800 needed for vet fees any HELP out there would be very much appreciated every little helps.
OK they're Bullies but it makes you think about owners too. ??

For more info check out Streets Puppies

Monday, October 8, 2012

Living in the 21st Century

Flickr Photo by CitroenAZU
Thinking out loud and realizing that the fast track is the place where everything happens at once and I am running behind trying to catch up.

I am grateful for all the technology coming into our lives but there are some things that seem to be changing that I'm not so keen on.

I am fortunate enough to have grandchildren who are more than computer savvy, they Tweet and Skype keep their fingers busy on the I phone. Granted a very useful tool but continuous connection makes me wonder if they ever see, hear or feel  much about life.

I am quite aware that they find me difficult to understand. They always look at me as though I am from Venus! When I mention anything about keeping a daily journal  to them it's a waste of time and the painting we do is considered a bit on the queer side of life!

Have Fun! painting by Norman Rockwell
The idea of art or writing by hand is foreign to them. "U R" texting to keep in touch , spelling is taboo short form is THE way to go. I am accused of sending a message they consider a composition, If I text them at all.the short form words is quite an art in itself.

So kids that is my rant for the day keep the I pads/pods etc going but look out from that and SEE life around you too, feel your fingers on a pen or brush, it might surprise you. Use your imagination you have a lot on the right side of your brain not being used! GO FOR IT it's good for you!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Helping Animal Rescue

I hope you like our new blog, we enjoy working on it. It feels we have brought all we do together as our individual paintings go on our blog and we are hoping to get some interesting comments along the way.

My passion is for painting dogs.or any animals that need help, so many dogs are looking for homes and here are two I recently painted, one got lucky.

Mickey a little Yorkie. has found a loving home and looks happy, he was adopted from

Frenchie looks so worried, a Bullie who has to find a home outside of Ontario.
He is with

How can you resist these little beings who just need a loving home?

I donate a percentage of my painting sales to Animal Rescue.

Saw this on Pinterest

Monday, October 1, 2012

Falling for Autumn

"Muskoka" by John  2007
I think artists have always found Fall to be very inspirational, and we are just the same!There is so much contrasting colours in the leaves, whether they are on the tree or scattered on the ground. Then get these glorious colours by the side of a lake and you are seeing heaven.
Here are paintings we have done over the years:
"The Strret where we live" by John 2011
"Schomberg Mill" by Babs 2007
This field is now full of houses!
"Main Street Schomberg" by John 2012
"Vermont" by John 2007
"Northern River" by John 1974

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chippy our Tenant

Digesting the Daily Bread
We have a very entertaining although serious friend that lives under our deck. He arrived we think this year early summer.

We had a new deck outside of our garden quite comfortably large enough to put pots of flowers and a  rosemary bush, we call him "Chippy", and he has taken residence beneath the deck and pops out morning and evening to gather bread and sunflower seeds for lunch and dinner.

He seems to be used to us padding across his roof in the morning and we drop a small piece of bread or even better a couple of almonds down into his "porch-way".

He sometimes plays with the squirrels and surveys his property with great aplomb sitting on his hind legs and looking a bit like Winston Churchill about to make a speech !

We looked up how Chippy lives and were surprised to find their life span is only about 3 years. Their home can be almost similar to the way we live: they have an area like a pantry storing for food, we often wonder if it's neat and tidy piled up and counted making sure he has enough.

They also have a space for toilet duties and are quite fussy about keeping it clean.
The more we get to know him the more we are amazed that this little creature, often not liked by gardeners, we find gives us pleasure so what if he decides to eat out tomatoes and bury them in our pot of Rosemary, a bonus for next year for him and us if they seed!

So for us Chippy is a blessing not a curse! all creatures great or small incredible so Cheers to the animals who are in our garden may they be happy and reign over us!
Storing seeds next to the Rosemary bush
Inspiration for a Painting as well
6x6 Oil on Board by Babs

Monday, September 24, 2012

July Morning on Main Street

14x18 inches oil on canvas
I was attracted to the early morning light in the alley on Main street Schomberg.
The alley is between the old De Router's Mill and Grackle Coffee shop. Over the decades the buildings on Main Street seemed to have crept closer together and it is difficult to distinguish one side from the other.

The hard part of the painting was the dapple on the floor, but it got done after several attempts, one of the good things about oil paint you can have another go... eventually!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Flake White Paint and Me!

8x8 oil on board
I bought this paint as an experiment, I usually use titanium white and read the Flake white is a better mixing paint. Flake White contains lead and is not a healthy choice but many painters use it.

It has been with me for many weeks just sitting there in my egg box daring me to work with it, and on Monday I took the plunge and tried to put it on the pallet, but  you have to be a strong arm woman, it's very thick it certainly doesn't ooze. It was do or die and I managed to paint a Westi with a lot of effort and this is the result.

I did get used to the thickness and it does bring out a nice texture, but, I know I have lot of practice to get it right but any help out there or comments would be appreciated?

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Great Love of Art and Painting

John's copy of painting by B C Liston
Babs' copy of "Matisse" by Derain
Experience is everything and most of all these days the 
opportunity to indulge in creativity is very popular. The hardest part is looking at people's likes and dislikes through the ages.

On a few occasions we have gone out on a limb and decided to copy a famous portrait. this as it turns out makes me wonder about our sanity, we must be raving mad to even try to copy a classic.

I think it is in us as always a challenge we must do . We call it "Good for the Soul" or worse "It looks easy I'll have that done in a week or two!" But that's the rub after canvas has been prepared and paint colours worked out on the pallet you sit at the easel and wonder what gave you the gall to even consider such a thought.never the less the brush is waiting and you decide to "go for it". Like the charge of the light brigade your brain starts talking well you're in for it now! let's get cracking.

Warning do not try this unless you want to experience anguish, frustration and a messy canvas you will be out of your depth! Especially if you are a wannabe like me keep to simple things unless you can afford to pay for tuition Don't give up and the more you paint the more you see the more you read and look at other artists going through the same trauma and come to the decision you have taken up the gauntlet and you can't give up painting now you invested in easel paints and brushes and besides you like the experience of going to Curry's Art shop and see all the goodies and feel rather satisfied with yourself picking up a few more pieces to go home and try again, it's. right brain thing and good for the soul striving for that special feeling to achieve something you never thought you could.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Toby 9x10 oil on board
Toby is my grandson's Chesapeake. he is a beautiful colour chestnut and full of life he seems ready for plenty any time.

He was fun to paint but difficult to get right on the dark side of the picture

Monday, September 10, 2012

I love tomatoes, but do they love me?

Every day I can eat a dozen cherry size so every day they produce 40, and that is too many for my consumption, But they know what they are doing, the more I cannot take the more goes to the ground as seed for next years plants and so they are fulfilling their purpose, which is to procreate, and I'm not part of the process, I am an enemy.

The big tomatoes have a different strategy, they hang on the vine pretending to be green, they never ripen until I go away for a day then they fall off and sacrifice themselves to the slugs.
I also find when I go to the vines, carrying my little harvesting basket, I can pick all I can see, then a few minutes later I might pass by them again as I mow the grass and suddenly I can see hundreds of the damn things,
They are playing Hide and Seek!
Tomatoes are very Saucy!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Standing Proud

"Standing Proud" 8x10 oil on board

From a photo taken by John on an assignment a few year's ago,
I liked the stance, the horse looking proud and strong, I must confess horses are very difficult to paint and I have a long way to go, the changing colours which make muscles and bones look right were giving me some trouble but I was determined to complete him and will keep up the practicing till I get it
right !


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cow & Calf

"Just Born"  by Barbara Bradbury 11x14 oil on board

I don't know any thing about them other than my son in law  took a photo after this cute little one when it was about an hour old. Just love the fact an  iPhone can capture a moment like this.
I decided I had to try and paint the two of them, I was attracted by the back light and the feeling of comfort with the calf so close to its mother it seemed a lovely moment.
Many difficulties though, the marking on the animals and the eyes on the mother cow you could only just make out , it took a while to get the right expression but I felt I made a good effort.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You Can Do It !

New Life by Barbara Bradbury, oil on board
I believe everyone has a passion for something and most of our working lives keep it tucked up in a dream in the back of our minds never letting it leave to express.
Our cherished secret stays inside the' if only' I had the time is usually our excuse, kids too young, work more important but there it is niggling away in the back ground.
It could be that our right brain these days gets jammed up with so much new techno stuff, computers that can write and correct for you, paintings can be worked on I Pads etc.
As a couple we have decided over the last  7 years to break the mold and got down to using the dream and see what happened both of us luckily interested in painting. Anything from still life, landscapes and figurative . It has developed into almost a family thing and sometimes can prove to be a lot of fun. Gradually we have been accepted within our family circle that there is merit in indulging our selves we have almost developed a certain amount ofconfidence enough to give gifts of our efforts to family and friends. much to our surprise well received! so here we are both of us enjoying our experience in real life and getting a good kick out of it.
Motto of the day:
Never give up on a dream it was put there for a reason. 
You Can Do It !
Develop a habit that is fun and run with it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Struggling Artists & Studios

Where we started: in the dinette

Over the last seven years as we have struggled learning how to paint, we have moved from room to room. We started in the back room where we dine when it's just the two of us, but as our canvases grew and paint supplies increased we had to find more space so we moved over to the barn, which I used to use as a photo studio, but once I retired I could free up the space to the aspiring artists,

The Barn, our Summer workplace.

So we painted quite happy in there till we got the gas bill in February and found the inefficient 120 year old barn was costing us a fortune to heat!
Converted Bedroom this is my side, Babs is on the other
So we converted a bedroom into a studio/office, all it needed was some fluorescent lights hanging and away we went till Summer came and the bedroom got to hot so back to the barn. Now we use the barn from May to October and the house during the winter months.
Fortunately our easels are quite light.
We even have been known to paint outside, we did Plein Air twice!