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.