Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Meet Georgina's sister

Georgina with her sister... who we are pleased to announce has also been adopted. I think her sister looks a lot like Robin, and so we think Georgina must be some kind of Miniature Pinscher+Jack Russell cross... somewhere in her genes. I am amazed at how different they both look compared to each other.

photo courtesy of Pojecto Animais de Barcelos

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

I have a new shadow and it has a tail!

I personally have never owned a puppy. Cristina has - Robin. I now realise that it means having a 'new shadow'. Georgina is right here by my side - on the chair next to my own... as I work. She follows me EVERYWHERE! Georgina arrived here very late at night, so any plans to walk Robin and her together, in order for them to 'get to know each other' by walking them on 'neutral territory' was not a great success. They had a couple of minutes together - outside (on their leads). It was cold and very wet also. Not good. Luckily, Robin was a gentlemen. Even being sedated, Georgina was excited to meet Robin. There was only one incident on their meeting that was 'tricky'. Georgina jumped onto Robin's chair (whilst he was in it) - he quickly snapped at her - she jumped into the air! Robin was rebuked by me and now they both know their place. Robin is the 'alpha male'... and Georgina knows that now. Taking them both for walks, Georgina always walks behind him and never in front... she stops behind him when he stops. All good we are sure... authority has been established. They are getting on fine now - to Robin, Georgina is a curiosity that he has to tolerate.... or get my rebuke... lovingly, of course.

On her first night here, I placed Georgina in her basket/bed in the lounge... and I slept on the couch the whole night so she would not feel alone... well I could not leave her on her own could I? I watched over her. Whenever she opened her eyes - she saw me, next to her, watching her and stroking her. Needless to say I only got one hour of sleep on that night - I awoke with her between my ankles under the cover! As Robin's place at night is on our bed and Georgina just wants to jump on it also - we feel that Robin will not allow such an intrusion into his territory. So we are training Georgina to sleep in her basket bed... but eventually her bed will be next to ours without any fears of her jumping onto our bed and getting a bad reaction from Robin.

The second night - well Cristina agreed to sleep on the couch (I had a good nights sleep)!
Now Georgina has 'bonded' with us both - she knows she is safe and also importantly - Robin also knows that he is not rejected or being ignored. He now gets extra treats and extra walks!

I keep making the mistake of calling Georgina 'Lucy'... then correcting myself. No doubt that is normal as you all know just how fond of Lucy I was (and still am). This little 'Georgina' has a wonderful personality... and is so bubbly and loving - she sticks like a shadow to me (and Cristina) wherever we go... she also likes the kitchen... no change there!

If I had to describe Georgina in a few words they would be: 'A dainty girlie dog with a loyal disposition and very very bouncy'... will no doubt 'run rings around Robin' and play with all his toys! AND SHE SEEMS TO SLEEP ALOT!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Georgina arrives

Georgina arrived late last night and she was very sleepy due to a mild sedative she was given to help her with the stress of a very long journey from the north of Portugal. She is settling in well and Robin doesn't know what to think of her yet. Early days of course and they have plenty of time to get to know each other.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Introducing Georgina

We would like to introduce Georgina, hopefully a new addition to our household soon. Georgina is an abandoned puppy (I think Cristina said 3 to 4 months old) and in order to fill the 'void' left in our home by the loss of Lucy; we felt we needed to adopt another 'girlie dog'. I just hope when we meet her, Robin accepts her. No idea what breed etc she is, but it doesn't matter. She will never replace Lucy, but Cristina really feels that she needs to fill the void, as it were. I have no doubt that I, personally, will spoil her, as I did Lucy. I am certain Georgina will sooth our grief, and bring back the patter of a second pair of small feet within our apartment walls. And it is good to help these abandoned dogs and give them loving homes. I think she is cute... and especially like the 'bow' across her chest.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

In the blink of an eye

Last night I had the strangest of dreams. I dreamt that someone gave me a very large book, like one of those large, old, family bibles. It was very thick and heavy. On the front cover was my name and preceding that the words ‘The life of’. Placed loosely, in envelopes at the front and back of the book were numerous photographs of me, taken throughout my life. I remember some of them – taken at primary school, and others that I did not remember or recognise. On the pages of the book, which I say were many hundreds, was the story of my life! Some of the text was read to me, by whom I do not know, but the words were spoken. Just a basic introduction about me. I recall seeing other pages, but do not recall what their content was, apart from one piece. This particular piece incorporated a ‘video’ of what was supposed to be me – ‘though much older. I thought to myself at the time ‘that can’t be me – his nose is much smaller than mine, and yes he was familiar, but I thought he must be a ‘stand-in’, a look-a-like. He spoke about things philosophically – he was well informed and very spiritual. I do not recall the exact content of his words, just the feeling that they were very profound. All through the dream I kept thinking ‘who could have commissioned this story book of my life and how could they have so many photos of me’ – many of which I had lost over the years and even more that I did not know even existed. I thought that whoever had this book produced must love or be proud of me greatly, as it must have cost a small fortune. Then, out of nowhere an impression came to me. I was shown an image of a bubble, one of those we used to make as children, blown through a ring. But the difference was that this ‘bubble’ had another bubble within it, and another and another. There were hundreds or maybe thousands of bubbles within the same bubble. Each layer of those bubble seemed to represent ‘an existence’ shall we say, of me (my soul or essence). They were all existing parallel to each other and all at the same time. It was as though I was on each layer co-existing with the rest of the other layers. Then it was ‘impressed’ upon me that when one of our existences comes to an end, that essence of that existence ‘slipped’ into the next layer and very smoothly, just as though that bubble had burst. It was instantaneous. In the next bubble (layer) I was still ‘myself’, and it was impressed into me that I may sometimes recall that ‘slip’ and memories of that existence but that the memories would be rather like deja vu, familiar in some way. I did not get the feeling that these existences were ‘past lives’, but more one whole existence, all running together at the same time. Best way I can put it is; it is like someone reading a hundred storybooks at the same time… each book has a different amount and pages and when one book ends, the rest just carry on as they were, being read and closing when they are completed. Then I awoke. I have always believed in reincarnation of the soul, but this dream put a new angle on the theory for me. It was as if something was telling me or impressing upon me that reincarnation was not quite the way I had previously seen it; that we exist on many, many levels of existence all parallel to each other and happening simultaneously. When one bubble bursts the essence of that existence is transferred to the next bubble and the whole thing happens in what can best be described as ‘in the blink of an eye’. And it keeps going on and on until all the bubbles have burst. Like a cat with nine lives maybe. Quite a strange and profound dream, don’t you think? Was this dream the result of some undigested cheese, or the sub-conscious product of an over active imagination - or do you think that I was privy to some deeper understanding of life and its mysteries? Maybe even Lucy was 'touching me' reaching out to give me some comfort as I slept. One thing I know for sure - it really opened my analytical mind to 'other' 'rooms' within the 'mansion' that we call our universe.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Thank you for all your kind comments

A big thank you to all who have left loving comments for Lucy. We are still upset at her loss, so apologies for not adding to my blog for some time - my heart was not really into it just lately. Also, Lucy's portrait still has to be completed. I will complete it... hopefully before Christmas. Even now, whenever I pass her incomplete portrait, her eyes follow me; her portrait will be the best I have ever done - I just need to be in the right frame of mind to sit down and continue with it. But I will find the strength - Lucy will give it to me.

Lucy was an abandoned dog whom we adopted. Her previous owners left her with the outside rubbish/garbage when they moved home. Lucy did not want to leave her home so stayed in the area. Then the area had floods and Lucy survived them - it is said that she would swim in the waters, her head held up high in order to find food. Yest she never wanted to leave her home - how cruel of her previous owners to abandon her like that. But she survived, and kept fighting (that was Lucy all over - a real fighter; however her fight was not without damage. Lucy must have been hit by a passing car at some stage as her back leg showed signs of a break at some time. Then she was finally rescued from the floods and we adopted her on our first introduction. The first thing we did was give her a good bath and then take her to the Vet for examination/check-up and then treatment. Lucy's doctor was wonderful - even shipping in special antibiotics for her from Spain... and a long period of continued treatment followed... trying this, trying that - all in an effort to avoid an operation as she probably had a dangerous cyst on her ovaries and the Vet did not think her heart was strong enough to survive an operation. So we persevered with alternative treatments. Lucy fought on - enjoying a good, and love-filled 2-years with Cristina, myself and of course, Robin. Robin misses her also. Lucy (my little 'girlie dog') is gone - but never, ever, will she be forgotten. I just hope she is getting all the Chourico she wants in her 'doggy heaven'. She was a good assistant chef, always watching the food as it was cooking... just to make sure I did not burn anything! She was also my 'chief food tester', strangely enough. But I really miss the 'click, click, click of her 4 small paws on the tiled floors here - I even imagine I still hear them, some nights -- maybe I really do, and will - 4 always...!
We both thank you all again, for your kind words of comfort.

Robert and Cristina

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

We will miss you Lucy

Sadly I have to mention that Lucy lost her battle with a long-term illness in the early hours of this morning. After many months of medical treatment attempting to keep her well, she peacefully passed away in Cristina's loving arms.
Lucy was a fighter and I had hoped that her latest relapse of illness would not defeat her. However, she suffered several strokes in her last few days and was unable to walk and her sight was failing. We cared for her these past two years and gave her a loving home. She will be greatly missed by us all and has left this world leaving us fond memories of her, especially her fighting spirit which was immense indeed. I never imagined that I could be so touched, or hurt so much, by the loss of a dog, but Lucy proved me wrong. She became a part of our family and was, after all, daddy's little girlie dog. I will miss her and she will always be in our hearts.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Protect the chidren

This breaks my heart

Monday, 10 August 2009

Just hanging around and 'aving a Bud

you have to see this... dogs 'ave all the fun!

JackDaddy - you will love this!

That's life!

life is the art of drawing
without an eraser

Cats (and dogs) could be dangerous to your health

A little warning to all us pet owners out there. I once owned a cat that nearly cost me my life!
Retiring to bed late one evening, just as I was climbing my stairs, I was curious about a 'CRACK' sound that startled me somewhat. So what did I do? Decided to investigate of course. I walked into my lounge only to see my sofa begin to burn. There, on the sofa was my cat... also startled. What had happened? Guess what... my very playful cat had found a box of matches that I had carelessly left on the arm of the sofa. He decided it was a good thing to play with! Of course, the matches spilt out and he bit one - igniting it with his teeth... that was the 'crack' sound. What are the odds on a cat igniting a match with his teeth? Must be quite rare I am sure. Fortunately I was there, in ear-shot, close enough to respond. What would have happened if I had left for bed an hour earlier? God only knows. The moral here is obvious - don't leave live matches where our pets might get a hold of them. Even a TV remote control can be a hazard... our pets chewing them or us leaving the remote tucked behind a sofa cushion can cause a short and possibly a fire! So be aware. Whilst our pets can pose a danger to our health, they can also save our lives... but that's another story for later!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Walkies waits for no man

How does Robin let me know when he is ready to go walkies in the mornings? Answer: he sits on my desk just to remind me and blocks my view of the PC whilst I try to use it! Even before I, a mere mortal am dressed and still drinking my morning coffee! He just sits there - looking me in the eyes and cries, like they do when they need to attract our attention. He generally wins every time. Lucy on the other hand sits patiently by the front door without a sound... sometimes I really get to Robin when I casually decide to take Lucy out first... he hates that!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Old beats new EVERY TIME!

Robin is pictured here (which is nothing unusual), however, this composite tells a story that stretches 50 years.
You see, the ball inset is one of Robin's new toys (his most-liked design) ... within moments he almost totally destroys them (as shown above)... BUT the ball in his mouth is one that my wife had, and was given when she was a baby. I found it recently in a box, packed away with old things in our spare room. Nothing unusual about that you may say, however, this little pinkish-red ball has laid untouched for 50 years. That was until 'the BOY' found it! he only mark it had on it was a Small 'bite' created by Cristina's baby teeth! One small mark, she told me, from her 'bay tooth'. Otherwise it was as she left it. But Robin took a liking to it and now, it is his favourite. I wonder why. The good news is that Robin, no matter how hard he tries CANNOT destroy it. It is made of rubber and is hollow. But it is still intact and he cannot make any bite into it. They sure knew how to make balls 50 years ago - 'ROBIN-PROOF' but not Cristina-proof! Her teeth are as sharp today as they were then. I wish I was so well preserved!

A very happy reunion

Who says big cats don't keep memories? Watch this video:

Rex and Dexter

I found this site and thought his cartoons were very humorous, created by Denis R. Poitras.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Time and tide

Entangled in this maze of time,
As seconds and minutes tick away,
To keep up in this rat race,
We have to struggle each day....
No one can stop time,
And no one can bring it back,
Only the present is yours,
So learn to fight, to attack!

What is gone will never come,
Present will become past, soon,
So what if things didn't go as planned,
Each new day is a boon...

Don't regret yesterday, and wait for tomorrow,
Live today as much as you can,
Put in your best, put yourself to the test,
Because time and tide wait for no man!

Daddy, will you draw me as I sleep?

So I did - my daughter when she was about 5-years-old, 11 years ago (she is a 'grown-up' now). (Click on my pics for an expanded view). It was just a quick and very hasty pastel sketch taking only 1o minutes or in poor light whilst she slept like an angel. I read her a story and when she fell asleep I did this on whatever paper I could find at the time... some discarded grey cartridge paper, but I was pleased with the result and so was she. It is probably the most spontaneous work I have ever done in pastels and, of course, my most loved for obvious reasons; further more, I find it extremely difficult to draw the human form. I need more practice! Yes I did 'life' classes at art school etc, but we humans are so difficult to paint and draw - must be some kind of 'mental' block I have... hands and feet are a no-go area for my art! People expect a portrait to look like them - whereas dogs and cats don't... you can hide your mistakes easier with animal art but not so with people. Camille (one of my Blog followers) commented on my self study earlier... about the execution on my own hand shown; It is probably the first time I have painted a hand that looks half human... and really, the painting was never completely finished... it expressed enough of me at the time so I moved on.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

'Hare raising' inspiration

Albrecht Durer
A Young Hare, 1502
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna.

At the top, a self portrait of himself at 26 years old.

This young Hare painting by Durer was the one painting that, in my childhood, probably inspired my love of painting animals more than any other painting. I was astounded by the incredible detail.
I still am today.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Some local scenery

A photograph I took yesterday whilst out and about.
Looks like Jack Daddy and Twix like the view - looking down from my nearest town here - Santarem - towards an old Roman Church (just off-centre of the pic). Look up SANTAREM, PORTUGAL on the internet. A beautiful town. If you look carefully enough - to the horizon - that town in the distance - you may see me... I am sitting there as I write this!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Dogs eat dog food - right?

I cook for four! Cooking is a wonderful diversion for me - all that creativity and presentation etc... I love it. I often say I love to cook, but not eat. 'How can that be' I hear you say. Well it is true - I eat to live and not live to eat. Robin and Lucy - well, they live to eat. I plan for the four of us when I cook... and quite often feed them at the same time as my wife and I. They love my food, but no matter what, whilst Cristina and I sit down - there they both are; Robin and Lucy sitting by our side waiting to eat our meals as well. Any tips anyone as to how we/I can encourage Robin and Lucy NOT to 'beg' for extra food whilst we eat? They even expect a dessert! I suppose I/we have made rods for our own backs. They both go at their food like it was the last meal on earth and then sit by us expecting MORE! Lucy is now a FAT pig... we will take her to see the VET later, just to check her out whilst we purchase their special dried food from him - she is doing just great now - no medication - unlike the rest of us! So what is dog food? I suppose anything they can eat - Lucy just loves to hunt for anything outside that IS AND IS NOT edible... she even now insists on stopping by the store down below, on her way back from 'walkies'... because the store owner always gives her some chourico... and I have to 'drag' / slide her out of his store... I should take a photo she is incredible AND STUBBURN!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

'Time and tide'

Times when things got a little too much for me... a self study to express my inner-most feelings. I am sure every artist and indeed, every person has those moments at some time in their life. This was a reflection of mine, my darkest hour. To find 'self' in art is a life-long journey; I am still looking. But what drives me on this journey? My wife tells me that 'I have a gift for painting animals'... maybe I do, who is to really say? Yes, capturing the spirit of an animal is satisfying, and clients always show joy when seeing the final painting - many even break down in tears when I show them the portrait of their long lost dog; so I bring happiness to many, and bring their beloved pets back to life as they remembered them. That is a good thing, however, my life-long journey as an artist still continues and only 'time and tide' will reveal my true self. 'Time and tide' was an expression a total stranger said to me once, whilst I was waiting at a bus stop... an old man waiting there with me in the rain and he just came up to me and said, with a very large smile those words... then my bus came along and I left him behind... his words still haunt me to this day - such a strange thing for a total stranger to say to another and nothing else. He did not even get on the bus, but maybe he was waiting for another. Maybe he was an angel in disguise? Maybe those three words were words of wisdom, purely for me, to be remembered as my journey in life continues. Time and tide.

Memory Lane

A very young me! When my hair was not grey - and when I still had all of it... painting, probably my second ever dog portrait in gouache. Before we had mobile phones and personal computers... the days when all my design work was done using cow-gum, scalpels, felt-tip markers and CS-10 art board. Times before the digital camera and CDs! I had never tried a cappuccino then, and never tasted chourico... when watercolours were something I just read about and oil paints were out of my reach. When the only time I ever touched canvas was in a tent - camping out in the woods. Times when the only pets I owned were three cats, Kato, Tigger and Rumpleteaser. If someone had told me then that I would end up marrying a beautiful Portuguese lady and living in Portugal, I would have said... 'where's Portugal'! Oh - the good old days when I dreamed of making my fortune... things don't really change, do they? Still the same old me... still painting and designing - still dreaming. Still happy with my 'lot in life'... but I must not forget to play the Loto this week... being an angel all my life must have some payback.

Saturday, 18 July 2009


I know, I know this painting is not a dog or cat, but it is art, so please ladies, do not be offended. I am an artist after all and I indulged myself in this work - I was really impressed with the colours, so had to execute the work for art's sake! Cristina may not agree, but hey, I have to make a living and expand my portfolio, do I not?
At approximately 50 x 50 cms and produced in acrylics and oil pastels on canvas I rather enjoyed the work. Don't wear a bikini when you spend a lot of time in the sun or the results are not so desirable when sun bathing topless. But you have to agree - the light and shade contrasts are interesting. I call her 'sunbather in shade'.
My other paintings are going slowly at the moment as my graphic design work is having to take priority for some days now. But, they will all be completed, soon, including Lucy's portrait. And, by the way, Lucy is doing very very well at the moment - she is really good. Let's hope she continues to stay in better health. Thank you Sashindoubutsu for your comments... much appreciated! And of course Jack's Dad... forever faithful!
Sunbather is for sale, by the way... contact me if you are interested in acquiring her and for further details.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Abyssinian continues

I do not know for sure how this painting will turn out - I trust that 'she' will continue to lead me as I paint. So far, imagine, if you will... she is resting on stones carved in sandstone by her master... watching and yet so content. She lays on those stones, carved with hieroglyphs... always conscious of her master... watching him as he works, in the subdued light of the temple... she is a very happy Abyssinian cat. Much work on her to do yet!

Saturday, 11 July 2009


For all our feline friends out there - time to start another project. The Abyssinian Cat my favourite. I have always wanted to paint this breed, but never have. Robin and Lucy do not like the idea - but hey!, I decide on t his no them! This cat has haunted me for all my life - I don't know why, but now I will paint 'her' and yes she is a 'her'. How she will turn out I do not know - however, one thing I do feel is that she will be like no other portrait I have ever done. The last cat portrait I did was over 25 years ago! I have never painted a cat since, so this will be an 'exorcism' for me now. Lucy will wait until tomorrow. I need to paint this cat now as 'now' seems to be the right time. Cristina would like me to concentrate on Lucy - but she will be completed when my soul dictates. This cat seems a part of me, so has to be painted... so watch as she progresses... initial oil on canvas sketch illustrated above. The flowers are complete, as far as I want to go with them, so they are now on our wall here and pictured above.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Daffodils again today

Work continues on the Daffodils, but too wet to do much more today.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

New project - Daffodils!

Flowers, flowers, flowers - everywhere! My better half insists I paint something that will brighten up our hall way - AND IT MUST MATCH THE DECOR!!!!!... oh give me strength! Ok... chosen subject - Daffodils. Not so bad really - will allow me to explore some other part of me I am sure, so I will enjoy this. Started work on it this afternoon and will post here as I progress. Lucy's portrait still not dry enough to work on some more yet and Santarem landscape also still too wet. 'The Devil finds work for idle hands' and all that stuff - so better to be doing something constructive. Lucy driving me round the bend at the moment - she has to eat EVERYTHING she can find whilst going out for walkies... no guesses as to the results! Mop and disinfectant always at the ready. No visit to the Vet for the rest of the week - he is now keeping her 'med-free' to see how she copes.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Robin's logic

Oh great! He listened to my rebuke about sleeping on my pillow... so moves from my pillow to where? To the one next door to mine of course! I give up! Most definitely the couch for me tonight!

Will Robin ever learn?

He's there AGAIN!... Robin, that is my pillow! Another change of bed linen!
What is it about this dog and comfort? SPOILT, I THINK!
I think I will be safer on the couch tonight! At least I will be able to watch late night TV - unless HE has hidden the remote control AGAIN!
How do we say in English... oh yes - 'that's my boy'!

Friday, 3 July 2009

"I am not amused"! says Lucy

I have blurred out part of the background in photoshop, as I felt it distracted from the main subject.
The 'other' Tall Guy'... my owner!... (with respect to my good friend Jack Daddy) says he has to wait for some time before he can continue with painting my portrait... frankly, "I am not amused". My 'mum' (the short lady) took this picture of me and my BIG 'me' when I was reflecting on my portrait... and my next meal! I am feeling much better now - thank you to all my friends.


Something happened on the way from the cave!

Having fun with this landscape; being very impressionistic - why not, it is such a refreshing change from my usual art. A long way to go yet. Art for art's sake I think... 'though maybe I will do a whole series of paintings based on my location in Portugal. I must admit, I don't really enjoy having to use oils as they take so long to dry! I must get myself some of that 'chemical' that makes them dry quicker. I know that nowadays you can buy quick-drying oils, but finding them here in Portugal may be very difficult. In the UK finding them is easier - every art shop sells them. But alas - I will just have to make do with what I can get.

Oh, to be as fresh as Paul Cezanne - my favourite artist next to Vincent van Gogh and Monet. I don't really think I have yet developed my own style of painting, but this Santarem landscape is a good step in that direction. Just to paint from my soul and forget all I have learnt - that to me is the quest. I don't even think I have a favourite subject that I enjoy painting... I just enjoy creating art. Abstracts are fine I suppose, but I am not an artist who can spend his days that way... maybe I just get the satisfaction from having people enjoy my work. Anyone can paint - yes anyone! The problem arises when we compare ourselves to others... I find that destructive. Art should be totally subjective - just paint and to hell with the critics. It saddens me when I see, for example, a painting by Cezanne selling for over sixty million dollars - oh how he could have used that money during his lifetime. I see art today and think what?... a pile of bricks on the floor of the Tate, or some 'installation'... what ever happened to the human ability to just paint? Something happened along the way in our evolution in art - give me a painting by some caveman on a cave wall any day, compared to the crap (my personal view) in our 'modern' galleries. I do/can appreciate the 'technical' abilities of many artists today and in centuries gone by. A lot of my training in my younger years was in scientific and medical illustration... apart from graphic design of course. Yes I could paint or draw your heart, lungs or boil - like a photograph in fact, spending hours upon hours painting in every little detail... but now we have photography and that does the job in seconds - so why bother? In many ways, as I said earlier, I wish I could just forget that I ever saw another artist's work; then all my work would be from me alone and not influenced. Failing a complete brain transplant that would not be possible... like erasing a hard disc and starting from scratch! Maybe my 'gift' if we can call it that, is to paint animals all of my life... who can say? All I know is this... there is a part of me, deep down that craves art... just to paint! I remember quite clearly at 5 years old, in my infants class, painting a landscape and painting the sky meeting the horizon - my teacher asked me... "who told you to paint the sky like that" (instead of the usual - sky, gap, and then the ground!) I said "no one, that is how it is" - she did not believe me of course. I am fortunate enough now, to have earned my living over the past 30 years and more as a graphic designer... but I wonder just what my life would have turned out like if I had concentrated purely on my art. Or even, if I had accepted my first job offer, at secondary school - to become a Biology Technician for the school (my joint equal best subject at school then) or even passed my flight assessment exams to become an RAF fighter pilot at the age of 23. I have to thank my father for my career - my first job interview after leaving school at 16 was as a trainee cartographer for British Gypsum. They gave me, in the interview, some test - colour in some areas on a map with water colours. Hec! I had never even seen water colours at that age - at school all we had was those silly powder paints! I failed the test of course, so my father sent me straight to college, to study art and design. Five years then past and my design career began. So here I am now - 5o years old and still wanting to paint... still trying to find my own style from deep within. Will I ever find it? Well only you all can judge. I still believe a painting is far better than a photograph... oh, by the way, I also studied photography for two years - and typography, calligraphy and even product design - but it always comes full-circle back to art - must be the caveman in me!

The major difference to me, between painting a portrait of a dog/cat or person as opposed to a landscape is this... clients expect the portrait to look like the subject... (no problem) when it comes to my interpretation of a landscape - well, then it is my impression alone and that is where the fun is... even cavemen could enjoy that part... just recording what they felt and were impressed with. And they did not have to trot down to the local shop and purchase expensive paint or canvas - they managed with what they had to hand - brilliant!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Picture Santarem - an art first for me!

I know, I know... it doesn't look much at the moment, a lot of work to be done yet. Allow me this break as I wait to work on Lucy some more. Getting me to start painting again has taken 4 years by my wife insisting - well, I just need to regain my confidence again - and that is not an easy thing to reacquire after some years absence from picking up a paintbrush! Santarem - the nearest large town to me - seen each morning as I walk Robin and Lucy. I will capture the view I have on canvas. Santarem - see:

The view I am painting is one that I photographed this morning - looking out over grapevine fields to Santarem in the distance. I admit, I had to 'drag' Lucy along with me... I took the opportunity to take a photograph for my painting. AND in the style of 'Jack's Dad' - don't worry - Lucy says... the 'tall man (me also) carried her most of the way! Lucy is getting quite used to her daily visits now. I keep her cool in the car by fanning her with a road map as we drive along. Basically it is just a visit to the Vet... he checks her out and gives her the injection - I distract her whilst it is administered! She just stares at me as if to say 'how can you allow this'? It is needed. Then it is back to the car, and home, stopping on the way for a walk with her.

A couple of evenings ago we had a visit from a member of the ASPA (the shelter we adopted Lucy from) - they had read on my blog here that she was not well so decided to visit. Lucy remembered her new visitor which was nice. I could not help thinking that because this particular lady brought Lucy to us in the first place, that maybe Lucy thought she was going back - no chance! Lucy is with us forever!

From a personal point of view - if I can leave one or two works of art for this mortal world, just to be remembered by, then all my efforts will have some meaning... without that I will fade into oblivion and my art will fade to dust. Let's hope that now, in my mature years I will start to contribute more to art - art from 'me' and not just for a 'paying' client.

I need a break from Lucy

Thanks Ruby's mum and Docwitch for your comments.
Yes, painting Lucy causes me to get into her 'self'... studying her each time I apply brush to canvas. As much as my art seems to always go to a photographic rendition, there is always a part of me that longs for a more impressionistic style. Lucy has dominated my painting as late so now it is time for a small break whilst her paint sets off some more. With that in mind I am going to indulge myself in a little landscape painting - just some local view of mine that I see each day as I walk the dogs, here in Portugal, of Santarem, viewed over vineyard fields in a summer haze. I was inspired this morning to paint it. I admit, it is not to be my normal style, but feel I need a break to explore a little more of my own soul - with regards to painting. So I post here the start of another painting - purely in oils this time - a landscape, a subject I am not at all used to, in the medium I rarely use. I just started it... so you are only viewing a back-wash. I hope you continue to watch its progress, as keenly as you watch Lucy's. A few hours away from her portrait may revitalise me. It is a daunting thing, to paint something I am alien to.. but here goes! I will get back to Lucy soon, and she is responding well to the 'Spanish' antibiotics... fingers crossed it continues.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Lucy's portrait progression so far - overview

...and still much more work to do! The final stages will require the use of a fine brush.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Over painting Lucy with oils

Now over painting Lucy in oils to get my blends and colours correct.
Had to purchase oils especially but forgot the linseed oil - so using sunflower oil from the kitchen for now until I get the correct oil! She will taste good if nothing else! Who said cooking and painting can never mix?

Monday, 29 June 2009

Lucy portrait continued

OK, now is the time to bring out the 'Big Guns' as I like to say - the oil paints and brushes! Lucy has reached the stage where I now need to bring her to life with a silky coat and real eyes etc etc. I have been avoiding the use of oil paints (mainly because of their expense) but I now feel she deserves that special treatment, indeed, her portrait demands it! Only the best for her. Because of my use of acrylics and oil pastels in these early stages there is now no other medium that would allow me to complete her portrait to my satisfaction. As my own dog, I have to do my very best. Lucy is still responding well to treatment from the Vet. Both Lucy and Robin walked with us today and the rain kept falling and falling and falling - we were all soaking wet on our return and Lucy especially, liked being wiped dry with the towel. As for Robin - well he is a MAN DOG - so no need for a towel... just try and dry him and he lets you know he is not at all happy!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Lucy - more work on her portrait today

...Also Robin and Lucy 'chilling' on this Sunday afternoon!

Helmet with fruit

My great granfather's firemen's helmet with fruit.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Lucy portrait stage 4 - work in progress

I was running around this Saturday morning like a headless chicken! I need to be doing something.. idle hands and all that. I kept running past my Lucy's portrait and looked for all the excuses in the world to avoid touching it any more. It had reached the stage that I always reach - I hate it. Just another one of those barriers that I usually reach when painting. I could not find anything else to do - either tidy my study or cook an English beef pie... I was running out of distractions - I had to do some more of her portrait. Acrylics just weren't doing anything for her. Too frustrating. I had to change medium. So, out with the oil pastels. Then I could begin to get the depth of colour I desired. OK, so some more on her portrait - at least an hour... then I will probably give up until tomorrow! Lucy is eating well, by the way, but is still not out of the woods - another trip to the Vet later.
Anyway - here she is so far... as much as I could manage today. Eyes, nose and everything else still needs much much work. I think I will have a cold beer now and continue to walk past her portrait for the rest of today, letting my objectivity wash over me. The problem with working from a photo whilst having the subject with you is you can never be satisfied... you have to absorb yourself into the subject and know the character. At least I did some more work on her today. I have to admit - oil pastels are more comfortable for me now and allow me to really get into her character.


A painting commissioned FOC by a Greyhound racing magazine. I believe it was a Greyhound owned by one of our 'Royals'. Homefarm Flyer, I think was/is his name. What eventually happened to the portrait I don't really know - and I only have this poor quality photo of the final portrait. The original reference photograph was quite uninspiring, so I created an imaginary landscape to set him in. The magazine was to publish a double-page spread of my work but unfortunately the company ceased trading before I was featured!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Robin hides in his toys

Robin is stressed about Lucy and so just keeps himself nose-down in his cuddly toys!

Thank you JackDaddy

Your words are a great encouragement for Lucy and us all.

Lucy eats!!!!

After visiting the Vet for the second time today, we now have some Gel (Nutri-plus Gel) that will stimulate Lucy's appetite.
Lucy is pictured above eating some solid food (Chicken/Frango) for the first time in over four days (in fact the only food she has really eaten so far). We hope that she continues to eat and keeps the food down - it will give her much needed strength.

Lucy portrait stage 3

So far her portrait is going very slowly; I keep skirting round the canvas unable to pay too much attention to her features. I think that I am avoiding really getting into her details as some small superstition - the longer I take to paint her - the longer she will be with us. So please bear with me on this. The portrait doesn't look much yet - just starting to fill-in areas of colour. I managed to apply brush to canvass today but my heart is not really in it. Lucy is lying here by my side. She is now being able to drink water without vomiting, but she has not had any food for three days, and only managed to 'sip' a small amount of watered down baby food this morning - chicken-flavoured - her favourite - FRANGO! We carried her out this morning to do 'her business'... just a few minutes on the grass and then carried her back home. She is resting now, but Robin knows something is not right with her and does his best to comfort her - keeps licking her ears and tries to get some reaction from her. I have to rebuke him so that Lucy has some peace, but I sense he is just doing what he feels is needed - a dog's way! Each hour I try to temp her with more 'baby food' but she really doesn't seem interested. It breaks my heart to see her like this, which is why her portrait will take so much time. I think I will spend a thousand hours at least to complete it!!!!... or maybe even longer!!! Yes, I am very superstitious! I know that her portrait will turn out beautiful on completion and will be a heart-felt tribute to her. So please do not 'judge' the portrait as it is now - her eyes need doing and nose etc etc... it is very much a work in progress, just so you can see how I paint. Judge my work on the final portrait, as they say an artist is only as good as his last piece; this will be my largest portrait and my greatest! One million hours and counting!
4:30pm... Lucy just left with my wife for her daily visit to the Vet; I hope he has good news about her. Robin needs his second walk of the day so I will take him now and lose myself in thought and let him 'drag' me around the park and everywhere else... revisiting HIS 'peemails'!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Lucy portrait stage 2

After sketching out her image I now begin the place a neutral wash over areas of her to define the composition more, defining areas of light and shade.
The next step will be to define her eyes more so that the canvas can come to life and bring out her spirit. It is that spirit that will always stay with us through her portrait. Unless I bring life to the image now through her eyes I would usually give up at this stage... and this next stage will take a very fine brush and great detail. Then I will start to define her nose better... and by doing both these things she will inspire me to carry on with the portrait, speaking to me as I paint. The medium I have decided to use will be acrylics. Some people say painting is relaxing - I always find it so draining as it drains my soul... like I was giving something from me so deep to my art that I lose something in return, a part of me. It seems to me like some kind of trade-off - a sacrifice. The portraits I paint take on their own life and the reference photo starts to fade into the background as the subject itself begins to take on its own spirit upon canvas. If art was easy then the artist is not painting from his soul merely his mind!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Lucy portrait begins

I will update my blog to show you all how her portrait progresses. What is shown here is a photograph of how the process begins. I start working from a photograph, transferring her image to canvass using a grid system. Her portrait will be fairly large - 65cms x 55cms. The pencil sketch illustrated here is just a 'rough' a guide for me. Just what medium I will use to complete her, I have not decided yet. It could be pastels or a mixed medium. I will decide as I progress. The most important thing is to make a start. The journey begins with this first step. I will of course be using Lucy, rather than just her photo as my point of reference for fine details. I know it will be a difficult portrait to paint because of Lucy's health. Lucy is still quite ill at he moment, completely off her food and only allowed water by droplet rations as she is vomiting each day if she drinks too much. Now two visits to the vet each day. She is now on new antibiotics ordered from Spain. We really hope she starts to respond better to her treatment now.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Cappuccino and croissant for the dogs, and I'll have the same

Oh, I thought life in Portugal would be leisurely! NOT! Start of the day: wake up early (around 7am) just because Robin wants me to. How does he tell me? He rolls on his back, on the bed at my side and starts yelping and sneezing. So, what do I do? I get up, make a cup of tea for my wife and a cup of cappuccino for me. Sounds good does it not? The perfect life! One slight catch - Robin insists on sitting on my lap, or even the table (or maybe even on my mouse) as I attempt to log in to my pc. All he is concerned about is getting his tongue into my coffee. And, if I was so lucky, half of my croissant (but only if it has butter on it). Of course he will not leave me alone until I leave him some small amount in my cup, and when the half croissant is gone he settles down on my lap again with his nose on the table, looking at the pc screen as if he is really interested! Lucy at this time is also awake and sitting on the floor looking up at me, wondering why she is not on my lap as well. Those wanting eyes so begging and yes she has a little croissant also. Have you ever tried to do something on your pc with two dogs on your lap? Crazy dogs! Well, you would think I could get some work done at this time and think again - there is still the small question of THEM taking ME out for a walk! As for getting down to some serious painting; well that is another story for later. A 'dogs life' and they have all the fun - I am just their waiter!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

How I stopped Robin barking

How did I stop Robin barking at the front door?
Lucy gave me the answer - she told me to "put him at the back door!!
A dog's logic!

Seriously though, I have not managed to stop him barking a the front door every time he hears someone approaching, or the door bell rings. He runs at the door like a bull at a gate - barking like crazy... he frightens visitors; he gets so excited! Any helpful suggestions anyone? Or is he now too old to change?

Can YOU speak Dog?

Interesting article...