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Monday, 31 December 2012

Last post of the year - Happy New Year

Lucky - commission
© Sharon Whitley

Well 2012 is almost behind us, we're about to wave bye bye to another year - the year I started blogging and hopefully this will continue for many more years to come - thank you so much to everyone who follows this blog and Two pairs of Boots which is the blog Gary and I share.   I really do appreciate every one of you who pops by and leaves comments -  it's a funny thing isn't it - you feel like you really do get to know people through this blogging lark even though you are unlikely to actually meet them in perso - I feel like I've 'met' some wonderful people, inspirational, artists, walkers, birders, wildlife lovers and it's wonderful browsing through all your blogs - which I do, even if I don't always leave comments - sometimes I have to admit that captcha thing puts me off as it takes me at least 3 attempts to get it right!!!

It makes it all the more special when the opportunity arises to actually meet one of you in person which I did yesterday - a truly inspirational young man - this young fella is quckly turning into a local celebrity - Findlay Wilde, having been featured recently in Cheshire Life and with other exciting things in the pipeline - if you don't already follow his blog then take a look, this young man is only 10 years old and is already an expert on birds and his enthusiasm for nature is wonderful to see in someone so young. Gary and I met up with him yesterday at Burton Mere to deliver a painting I'd done earlier this month.  You can read about the day on Gary's blog post here and on Findlay's post here.

Here I am with the young man himself

.... a great way to end the year !  Look forward to meeting you and your family again soon Findlay!

The cheeky chappy who I painted above is my latest pet portrait commission which the recipient is thrilled with so big sigh of relief again - this commission stuff is not good for the nerves! I'm so excited about 2013 and can't wait to keep those brushes flowing with more paintings and hopefully improve with practice and Gary and I have got a big charity challenge coming up in June which I'm both nervous and excited about - more about that soon, so in the meantime have a wonderful New Year whatever you do - we'll be walking up Moel Famau to take in the New Year (as long as it stops blowing a hooly and pouring down with rain that is!)

Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Commissions

Hello bloggers, hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to the New Year festivities whatever you may be doing.  Now that Christmas has come and gone I can post the paintings I did in the run up to Christmas which were commissions for Christmas gifts, and thankfully all the recipients were very happy, the first one is Sam the springer spaniel....

and here is Zack the black labrador who very sadly died in September....

and walking boots, I've now painted 3 versions of these walking boots and all of them are in various locations - still need to paint a version for myself!

so what did I get for Christmas?  Well I've been very very lucky and had some really lovely gifts from friends and family but my very favourite of them all is this fantastic painting of Cwm Idwal as seen from Pen yr Ole Wen, an amazing watercolour by my favourite landscape artist Rob Piercy, isn't it just gorgeous, oh to be able to paint like that!

There's a little story behind this one - you may remember Gary and I were going to Rob Piercy's Christmas exhibition earlier this month link here.  Well while I was browsing he secretly snuck off to collect the painting below which he knew I loved and had bought for me for Christmas....

but while we were there I was raving about Piercy's more recent painting of Cwm Idwal with the snowy tops just like it was when we walked there a few weeks ago link here.  Oh **** thought Gary - I've bought the wrong one!  ..... so a few days later he drove all the way back to Porthmadog to change it (a 4 hour round trip)!  I'd have been just as thrilled with the first one but it makes it all the more special that he went to all that effort to get me the one he knew was my favourite - I'm a very lucky lady !

also on Two Pairs of Boots there are photos of our latest walk which was on Boxing Day - just a short walk in our local area in the Clwydian hills - Christmas stuff combined with very wet and windy weather has meant that we haven't got out walking much over the last few weeks - hopefully get some good walks in soon!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas to you all!

What a mad time of year this is!  Have you been rushed off your feet like me?  My own fault really for leaving everything til the last minute like I do EVERY year!  But nearly there now and today I've given myself the day off from Christmas stuff and been to the zoo with Gary (although I did buy a couple of stocking fillers from the gift shop!.  Gary was in his element trying out the new camera - results soon to be posted on his blog.

This evening I've managed to squeeze in a festive painting - I've given my little robin a Santa hat and made it snow - I really hope the constant rain stops and we get some snow over Christmas.   I made sure there was plenty of snow in Gary's Christmas card too - he's never happier than when he's out in  snow covered mountains, ice axe at the ready...

This will probably be my last post before Christmas so I'd like to wish you all a wonderful time over the festive period and very best wishes for the New Year and thank you all for your support since I started this new venture into blogland earlier this year - I really appreciate you popping in to read my posts, viewing my artwork and photos and leaving such lovely comments!

Nadolig Llawen!!!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Frightened by a wood mouse!

I was inspired to do this little watercolour sketch (albeit not a very good one!) of a cute little wood mouse after one frightened the life out of me as I was carrying the Christmas decorations from the shed - something flew out of the box I was carrying and landed on the grass beside me - standing stock still with big stary eyes looking at me!  Mice are very cute and it's lovely that they're in the garden but it soon became clear that they had been getting into the shed and feasting on the bird seed I keep in there - we had a good clear out of the shed, got rid of a few things they'd pooped all over and nibbled and eventually found the hole they had been using to get in and out - thanks to Gary that is now blocked off and there's been no sign of them coming in since - I think they're probably nesting under the shed but I'm sorry little mice I'm afraid the nightly shed party is over (I hope!)

I think the poor little fella had more of a fright than I did - he stood like this on the grass for a couple of minutes before scooting off

At least they didn't nibble through the lights, all in perfect working order!

Hope you're all enjoying the run up to Christmas, I've still loads of pressies to get and food to buy, a mad time of year!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Findlay's Ducks

I love this photo that Findlay took of the three ducks that he has on his wonderful birding blog here.

I thought it would make a nice, simple little painting, just 3 ducks waddling along, hope you like this Findlay...

Don't forget to pop over to Findlay's blog Wilde About Birds - it's an absolute delight, a very inspiring young man!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Castell y Gwynt (Castle of the Winds)

Our first proper winter walk of the year - loads of snow up on the Glyders in Snowdonia and even though I've been full of a horrible cold all week I was determined to get out there as the conditions were looking good .... and we weren't disappointed.  This is one of my favourite views, Castell y Gwynt (Castle of the Winds) up on Glyder Fach with the Snowdon Horseshoe looking glorious in the background.  It's a view that has been painted by many landscape artists - I've not yet tackled it but plan to one day - whether anyone will actually get to see my effort is another matter!

Here are some of my favourites from real artists!

© Louise Morgan
see more on her website HERE

© Alwyn Dempster Jones (pastel)
I've seen this one 'in the flesh' at the Helfa Gelf event (North Wales Open Studios) amazing detail and really nice to meet him, here is a link to his blog

© Dave Roberts (pastel)
I've been lucky enough to see this one up close as well at the Helfa Gelf when we visited Dave Robert's studio - a brilliant painting and a really lovely guy too

© Rob Piercy
 from the amazingly talented artist Rob Piercy painted this wonderful interpretation of Castell y Gwynt - fabulous isn't it....
here is a link to his website

Rob Piercy is previewing his Christmas exhibition at his Porthmadog gallery tomorrow and Gary's taking  me to see it - can't wait to meet the man himself!

Here is another of his paintings and another place where we walked yesterday - the beautiful Cwm Idwal,  what a fabulous painting and just how it looked yesterday with the snow topped Glyders behind

© Rob Piercy

 to see more photos from yesterday's walk,  pop over to our walking blog
if you like winter mountain landscapes I promise you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Barn Owl complete

I've made a bit of room in my blogger storage which such keep me going another few posts before I have to pay for extra storage (very annoying!!) I'm now resizing photos before I upload to minimize space - thanks again for the advice I was given in the last post.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Barn Owl Update and New Blog

When I first tried to upload this barn owl update I received a lovely message telling me I've run out space and have used my 1GB allowance for photos and telling me I have to pay to upgrade my storage - what is that all about?? I've only been blogging since July - well it seems I've been uploading large files and have run out of space pretty quickly - I've deleted a few photos which I know are not linked to blogger so I got enough space to add the barn owl - looks like I'll have to buy some more space now if I want to continue  - anyone else had this problem?  Thank you so much for the replies below and the link from Claire, much appreciated!

In the meantime Gary and I have started a blog just about our walks in Snowdonia, the Lake District and beyond.  It's called Two Pairs of Boots so if you'd like to follow our walks pop over, Gary's put the first post on this evening about today's walk from Abergwyngregin


Comments welcome as always especially if you know anything about this storage thing!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Happy Birthday little bruv!

Doing what he loves
© Sharon Whitley

It was my little brother's 40th birthday at the weekend - so actually not so little any more! - but to me he'll always be my 'little' brother - even though he towers above me.  He's as mad on mountain biking as I am on hiking and art so as a birthday card I painted this watercolour of him on his mountain bike.  It was a bit rushed and even though the legs are not right and the wheel is a bit wobbly I quite like it overall - and it certainly made a change from birds!   Not done any more on the barn owl, will hopefully have time to work on it tomorrow, hope you're all having a great day!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Waxwings and more from the Wildlife Event

I was thrilled on Friday when I got to see the waxwings for myself - not the most exotic of places, Deeside Industrial Park!  We soon found them - there were a few serious photographers already lined up with their huge lenses on tripods ready to photograph the waxwings as they flew down to feed on the Rowan berries.  There was also an artist there sketching the birds in preparation for doing a painting in acrylics - he said he doesn't do watercolour - too difficult lol!  As always Gary got some spectacular shots of them and hope you like the selection I've posted here....

Here are a few more photos from the wildlife event that was held at the shopping centre on Saturday where I sat painting the barn owl.  It was nice to actually have a real barn owl there too!

It was lovely talking to passers by who stopped to watch and ask questions, including quite a few children who said they'd like to be artists when they grow up so if I gave them just a little bit of encouragement I'd be very happy - it's certainly something I'd enjoy doing again.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Barn Owl update

I did some more work on the barn owl today while I was doing a painting demo at a small wildlife event at Birchwood Shopping Centre.  There were birds of prey at the event which attracted lots of people - and also nest box building by Risley Moss - I had some lovely comments by passers by and one lovely lady asked if she could buy it when it was finished so Barny has been sold - I have to say though I'd got quite attached to him so I'll have to paint another for myself!  Still got the tree branch and background to complete on this one first though!

Oh and before I go ... the waxwing hunt was successful - we went straight to Deeside Industrial Park, 10 minutes drive from home and there they were next to the Triumph building in Zone 2. I was thrilled to see them, loads of them - such beautiful birds - photos to follow in the next post and more photos from todays wildlife event.

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend whatever you're doing!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Another waxwing (sorry!)

© Sharon Whitley

Seems I just can't stay away from painting birds!   The waxwing invasion is causing quite a stir among the birding community as these beautiful birds search for their favourite berries from the Rowan tree - they won't be around for long so I'm just hoping they'll stick around til Friday so I can get a chance to see this wonderful spectacle.

I'm a little bit excited about finally starting a painting that has been on the drawing board waiting to paint for quite some time now  - and I've been avoiding making a start - the beautiful barn owl - I'm taking my time over this one - it's started off quite well, I've done the eyes and happy with them - just hope I don't ruin it now!!   Here is is so far.........hopefully you can tell it's a barn owl!

and finally just for a bit of fun here's a sock monkey - I know a bit random but that's me!

Sock Monkey
© Sharon Whitley

Have a wonderful day whatever it is you're doing xx

Monday, 12 November 2012

Wonderful Waxwings

© Sharon Whitley

I'm pretty excited about the invasion of waxwings we're having over here at the moment from Scandinavia - apparently lots seen in areas not far from me in North Wales - all in very strange places - Industrial Estates, streets, superstores etc. all after the berries from the lovely Rowan tree.  Gary was lucky enough to photograph them up in Barrow, near Clitheroe at the weekend while he was up there - I missed out unfortunately but we're off on a Waxwing hunt on our day off on Friday - to B&Q in Llandudno of all places!   In the meantime I thought I'd do a quick painting of one from one of Gary's fabulous photos which you can see on his blog.  Here's a little taster to tempt you................

Absolutely beautiful birds and really hope I get to see them for real on Friday at B&Q!

I've also been busy painting a couple of pet portraits for commissions for Christmas presents so obviously can't show them here until after Christmas but the owners are really pleased with them so I'm very happy!

Have a wonderful day and please leave a comment so I know you've popped by!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Painting Watercolour Christmas Cards

Christmas is drawing ever closer and over the last couple of evenings I've been spending a bit of my spare time painting watercolour Christmas cards based on a frosty robin painting I did recently

I've been enjoying painting these little cards - nice and relaxing - no two robins are the same and each card is unique, then I decided to try some snowdrops cards

and can you spot the holly card below....

...I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that robins are my favourite to paint though ...... have a lovely day everyone

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Now for something completely different.....

After painting nothing but birds for the last few weeks I'm having a play around with other subjects - so as Autumn is well and truly with us I thought I'd start with a little study of conkers.

Bonkers about Conkers
© Sharon Whitley

As some of you reading this will know from my last couple of  posts I've been away for a few days walking in the Lake District with Gary and despite it being rather a mixed bag weather wise we got some wonderful walks in, starting with the beautiful Cadair Idris on Saturday where we had great weather...

The glaciated bowl of Llyn Cau

Cadair Idris summit - Penygadair

We did a round of the Coniston Fells on Monday - 5 more Wainwrights completed and again, pretty good weather for most of the I am on Grey Friar, with the mighty Scafells behind me.

Grey Friar with a Scafells backdrop

One of the things I always love seeing when walking in the Lake District are the local sheep, especially the tough Herdwicks or Herdys as they are more affectionately is a particularly cute one....

 and I've also got a soft spot for can you not love this face!

Both of these are contenders for future paintings, hopefully sooner rather than later so watch this space!

We ended our stay in the Lake District with a visit to Loweswater where we stayed with the lovely Ann and Roger Hiley of Loweswatercam  fame.  Here they are with a drawing I did of their dogs Harry and Bethan.  Take a look at their website to get to know them better and maybe buy one of their calenders (we did) in aid of Mountain Rescue.

The Hileys made us feel so welcome and really looked after us, freshly made bread, home made soup before a wet and windy walk up Low Fell (enabling me to tick off my 80th Wainwright fell) and a wonderful Greek themed supper - the first thing I did when I got home was get the bread maker out which has been hidden away in the cupboard for the last few years!

Holly enjoyed meeting Bethan and Harry, here they are on Low Fell looking down over Crummock Water

Thank you for reading and don't forget to leave a comment so I know you've popped by - have a wonderful day!