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Monday, 30 July 2012

At last a proper walk! - oh and another kingfisher painting!

It seems such a long time since I last went hill walking due to one thing and another - including the ridiculously wet and windy summer we're having - don't get me wrong I'll go walking in all weathers, rain, sleet, snow, howling gales, the lot but I have to admit I was getting a bit tired of getting an absolute soaking EVERY time I went out! ......  Saturday at last we got out for a proper mountain walk up on the Carneddau in Snowdonia,  a fantastic walk along the ridge from Pen yr Ole Wen to Pen yr Helgu Du, taking in Carnedd Dafydd and Carnedd Llewelyn en route.

I just love these Welsh mountain names and like to know their meanings.  Pen yr Ole Wen was always translated as Head of the White Light although it has more recently been translated as Head of the White Slope - which would make more sense - the Ole being derived from goledd meaning slope rather than golau meaning light.  Pen yr Helgi Du is a wonderful name for a mountain meaning Hill of the Black Hound and sits next to my favourite mountain name Pen Llithrig y Wrach - Slippery Hill of the Witch (though some translate it as Hill of the Slippery Witch - even better!!!)   Not sure where the black hound or the slippery witch come from originally but I don't care - just love those names and they just roll off the tongue in Welsh. Apologies to those of you out there who may use google translate to read my posts  - you won't have a clue what I'm talking about!!  

Anyway off we went on our walk, the weather looking good - for a change - although it wasn't to last, when we got onto the ridge proper the heavens opened and we had torrential rain together with bitingly cold winds - it's July for goodness sake!!!!! It was like this for well over an hour but when the rain finally stopped the wind soon blew us dry!! Despite the downpour and the fact that I had forgotten to pack my waterproofs we had a great day - it was just so good to be up in the mountains again!

Here is a selection of photographs from the walk - when it wasn't raining!

The beautiful Cwm Idwal seen from the climb up the front of Pen yr Ole Wen - the car park and buildings below give it some scale

looking down into the Nant Ffancon valley a typical flat bottomed valley

Everyone's favourite - the magnificent Tryfan

Looking towards Pen yr Helgi Du which we didn't climb as we were so cold and wet we decided to head back down to the valley

One of the Carneddau ponies which roam this area

Carneddau pony
for more photos from this walk see Gary Jones's blog here

and last of all for fellow art bloggers who want to see a painting here is another kingfisher I painted today using the inktense blocks I bought on Friday - I'm loving the vibrant colours they give!

Another go at painting the kingfisher in flight from Chrissy M's amazing photograph

Sunday, 29 July 2012

My first kingfisher sighting

Those of you who have read my last post will know that I was quite excited about a trip to Ken Bromleys art supplies on Friday - the leaflet said and I quote 'come and visit our interactive showroom where you can browse our art materials and even try them out on our tester table. Our showroom assistants are all practicing artists and are there to offer help and advice' - so off I went on the 120 mile round trip expecting to spend a good few hours in a huge warehouse testing art materials, chatting to practicing artists etc.  - well, we got there and to say I was disappointed is an understatement!  A tiny room which did have a tester table but with limited supplies to test and a small selection of art materials on display - the showroom assistant (not a practicing artist!) admitted that the leaflet is a little misleading - well we had a good laugh about it and I bought the watercolour paper I was after, some Bristol board and some inktense blocks - from now on I will be using their excellent online service!!!  Anyway we thought about where else we could go in the area to make the hour long trip there worthwhile so off we went to Meresands to see if we could spot any kingfishers as I love these gorgeous birds but had never actually seen one before.  It was a 2 and a half hour wait but finally the kingfisher made an appearance, obscured a little by some annoying pink flowers but I saw him - and what a beauty he was!    A bonus was meeting wildlife photographer and fellow blogger Brian Rafferty, what a lovely guy! We reluctantly had to leave to get back home and of course soon after we left the kingfisher plonked himself on a branch right in front of the hide where we would have got a really good look at him - never mind there's always next time - and I was happy enough to get the sighting I did of him.  So to test out the new watercolour paper I bought from KBs I painted a kingfisher from one of Gary's photos.  I'm not too pleased with the result but am posting him anyway!

and here is one I painted of a kingfisher in flight last year from a photo by Chrissy M

and here is a photo of the kingfisher we saw on Friday - couldn't get a decent shot because there were pink flowers obscuring the view from where we were sitting - next time!!!!

Comments welcome as always!  

Thursday, 26 July 2012

A splash of colour

Rainbow Lorikeets from a photo by Carla Whelan

I'm always thinking of what subject I'd like to paint next - and have usually got too many ideas on the go at once, and not enough time to do them so many subjects remain on the to do list!! - but since delivering Cali and Charlie's  portraits off  I've been itching to paint some colourful birds.  Why you may ask?   Well Gary's mum (Cali and Charlie's owner) has a parrot, some love birds and some kakarikis and their beautiful colours made me want to get out those lush, vibrant pigments sitting in my palette which haven't seen the light of day for a while.  Then last night while I was blog browsing, I came across this wonderful blog Matteo Grilli Wildlife Art from Australia - this particular post showcases the beautiful  Rainbow Lorikeets. Now I love my garden birds and the birds that populate this country but the thought of having these colourful specimens populate my garden - now that would be something!  All I seem to be getting lately is pigeons and magpies but that's another story!  I painted these Lorikeets back in March along with many others who painted from the beautiful photograph that Carla posted to Paint my Photo.  I just loved painting with those gorgeous colours, so when I get my new batch of watercolour paper - from a trip to Ken Bromleys tomorrow yay!!!   the brighter pigments will be on the agenda.....I've not been to Ken Bromley's before and have got birthday money to spend - all on art supplies, I'll be like a kid in a sweet shop .... happy as a pig in muck .... or a dog with two tails .... you get the picture?

Anyway that's it for today - thank you fellow bloggers for dropping by and reading my ramblings, please take time to leave a little comment - there's none of that word verification nonsense here ....... hugz xx

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Cali and Charlie

A quick update on the finished the painting of Charlie - different type of painting to the one of Cali - as they are completely different characters, Cali being relaxed, chilled out, likes lying around a lot!  ..... and Charlie being energetic and yappy!  Here is the finished version of Charlie.   Cali's portrait can be seen by clicking this link

and here are Cali and Charlie framed up and ready to go to their new home

I've just been given another commission to do a pencil portrait of two dogs so the graphites will be coming out again soon.....ta ta for now!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunshine at last!

Moel Fenlli and Moel Famau taken from Moel Gyw

It was such a treat to wake up to blue skies this morning so before it could start raining again we went for a short walk up to Moel Gyw which is one of my favourite spots on the Southern end of the Clwydian Range. There are usually plenty of buzzards around this area and Gary hauled his 500mm lens up the hill to get some flight shots - so of course no buzzards made an appearance!  In fact no birds at all - plenty of cows though! - nice reference for a painting!

We then went to the NEWA exhibtion again - the 3rd time now that I've been - not only to marvel yet again at the fabulous artwork there but to chat to the demonstrating artists. Yesterday at NEWA I chatted to Julie Nash who paints beautiful acrylic wildlife art and today it was a pleasure to meet Robert Cook again who was demonstrating graphite work. Eric Wilson - an amazing pastel artist was also demonstrating and his work just took my breath away - and the lovely Irene Brierton, a detailed watercolour artist.  Here is a photo Gary candidly took of me chatting to her..

Irene Brierton painting red squirrels

So I came home feeling very inspired to try some different mediums again - I had only used pastels on Daley Rowney pastel paper before and found it a bit scratchy and rough but Eric recommended Clariefontaine pastelmat - really anyone who isn't familiar with his art, take a look at his website here.  Julie Nash had me thinking seriously of trying acrylics again - and as I'm on my last sheet of watercolour paper the acrylics may be coming out sooner than you think!!!  In the meantime, this evening I've started a painting on that last sheet of watercolour paper -  here are some works in progress of Charlie, Cali's friend and Gary's mum's other dog (see last post here) - I desperately need a trip to get some more art supplies!!!

happy with the eyes and the nose  I can move on to the rest of the painting

finishing here for tonight as I could feel myself getting tired and sloppy!!

As always I love to read your comments - they mean so much, thank you

Thursday, 19 July 2012


by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist
This is Cali - she is Gary's mum's much loved golden retriever who I've painted as a gift for her.  It's always a pressure when you are painting for someone else especially when it's a portrait - and you desperately want them to be pleased with it. Cali is one of those dogs who always has sad looking eyes so I've tried to capture that side of her and she's always lying down!  Don't worry she is a happy dog though! - some dogs are like that aren't they, always looking at you with those doleful eyes!  Gary's mum also has another dog called Charlie who is next on my list to paint. I do enjoy painting and drawing people's pets and have had a few commissions to do them - usually as favours for family and friends - I'll never make a business woman lol!  When I do accept paid commissions there is never any obligation to buy if the customer isn't happy with the result - that sort of takes the pressure off a bit!!   The most important thing for me is to capture their personality and as I've said before I always start with the eyes - the soul of the painting.

Here are a couple of WIPs

Thank you for dropping by - comments are welcome as always - it's always a pleasure to hear from fellow bloggers - and I've figured out how to turn off that annoying word verification thing so you don't have to faff about with it!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bear on a mountain!

Bear on a Mountain
from a photo by Franklin
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist

I painted this brown bear back in February as another exercise for Judith's loosening up group on Paint my Photo.  It is from a photo taken by Franklin who is a fabulous artist as well as a brilliant photographer - I remember seeing this photo for the first time and thinking - how lucky get so close to one of these beautiful creatures.  Little did I know then that just a few months later I nearly would get up close to one.  At the end of May Gary and I along with 9 others climbed Mount Olympus in Greece - we did it over 2 days, bunking at Refuge A overnight and setting off in the early hours the following morning to reach the summit.  There was a fresh snowfall the night before and we were soon above the snow line - no other footsteps to be seen except the unmistakable fresh prints of a bear following the same path we were on but coming down from the summit - we were so excited and I was dying to see this bear for real - there were 11 of us after all surely it wouldn't attack!  but no such luck - although I'm sure it will have seen us passing further down!  Not all of us reached the summit because the snowy conditions needed crampons and 3 of the group weren't equipped, so 8 of us carried on in pretty much white out conditions until we reached Skolio summit - and the clouds cleared for a few minutes to give us the most amazing view!  The Greek gods were looking after us!!

It was when we got back to the refuge that we found out that the last bear on Olympus was presumed dead and there had been no evidence of one for over 4 years - our photos caused great excitement in the National Park - I would still love to see one for real, beautiful animals.

That's me up there - in the beautiful Enipeas Canyon which leads to Mount Olympus

Fresh bear prints in the snow

Yay - we got a view!!!

Now I guess it's time I stopped rambling and start producing more art.....

 Interested in seeing more photos from the Olympus trip take a look at Gary's blog post here.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Fish again ........... and a poppy!

As well as painting my own subjects I find it really valuable to try exercises that you may not necessarily choose yourself - so each month I make time to do some watercolour exercises that Judith Farnworth posts in the Loose Group on Paint my Photo - sometimes they work out - sometimes they don't - but I try not to get too frustrated about it!  A couple of months ago I tried and tried to paint a conch shell but wasn't pleased with any of the results - and of course everyone else's attempts were great! - but such is life - I will go back to that damn shell at some point - I'm stubborn like that!!!   I think there may be another post in there somewhere, showcasing my disastrous attempts at paintng a conch!!!!  Anyway I'm rambling, back to this post!! of the exercises Judith chose for this month was some fish on ice - from a photo by Ruth Archer.  There were so many lovely colours in the fish so I wanted to get those in and create an impression of ice for the bg.  I worked on this this afternoon - and actually quite pleased with it and may go on to do a small series of fish paintings ...... that's another great thing about doing these exercises - you find that you actually enjoy painting a subject that you may not have thought of - and then that can lead you in another direction in your art - which is great!   Maybe the opposite is also true and I should stay away from painting subjects that drive me bananas - like conch shells!!!!

Silver Darlings from a photo by Ruth Archer
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist

The other exercise I did was a poppy - I wanted this to be pretty loose so I gave myself a time limit so I wouldn't fiddle - so this was painted in around 20 minutes I think.  Thank you Judith for choosing such great subjects this month - have really enjoyed painting them!

Poppy explosion from Marilyn's lovely photo
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist

click here for a link to Judith Farnworth's blog site

click here for a link to Paint my Photo

As always I really look forward to your comments

Monday, 16 July 2012

Anyone for fish?

Anyone for fish? from Gary Jones' photo
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist

I finished the puffin painting last night and here he (or she) is with a mouth full of fish ready to take into his burrow to feed the little puffins.  Such comical little characters they are - I had never seen one for real until last month when Gary took my daughter and I to the Farne Islands on the East coast of England - have never seen so many birds in one place, puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills to name a few.  This is where he took the photo that I used for this painting.  It was a great day (and it was sunny!) I loved watching the puffins fly out to catch their sand eels and fly back in to feed their young waiting underground in their burrows.  Mind you before they could get to their burrows they had to get past the greedy black headed gulls who were waiting to pinch their fish - just take a look at this........

Oi you black headed bully - go catch your own lunch!!
photo taken by Gary Jones

Saturday, 14 July 2012

National Exhibition of Wildlife Art and a Puffin!

I've been looking forward all week to visiting this exhibition at Gordale Garden Centre and I wasn't disappointed - I honestly could have stayed there all day, viewing the fantastic wildlife artwork on display and chatting to the artists who were demonstrating.  Those who know me know that I love to paint and draw wildlife and I was blown away by the fantastic work there by such talented artists but instead of getting disillusioned, I thought about something that an artist friend Andy Beck said to me -  "Do visit galleries, don't get frustrated at seeing better work but strive to be as good some day" - and even though I know my limitations and know that I would never be able to paint like many of the artists I saw today (for a start I wouldn't have the patience to paint in the minute detail of some) I do strive to be better.  One of the artists demonstrating was a lovely, lovely guy called Paul Dyson - amazing artist, with a mixture of amazing detail and looseness - he's got two new fans in Gary and I - and he's a mountaineer too!  Got the best job in the world as far as I'm concerned - travelling to the Himalayas in search of snow leopards - getting access to the tiger and lion enclosures in zoos to get reference photos!!  I could have talked to him all day and he gave me some valuable advice on painting as well - here is a link to his website .  I also had a lovely chat to oil painter Robert Cook who made me think more about trying oils - you can see some of his beautiful oil paintings on his website here  and pencil artist Chris Wright - amazing detail in his pencil work and watching him at work was a real treat - a lovely guy too - picked up a few tips from him as well!  a link to his website here

Anyway I came home all inspired to paint something wild and I've been promising Gary I'll paint one of his favourite puffin photos so I'm posting a work in progress of a puffin with a beak full of fish - amazing how they do that!!  -  just the beak and fish to do and a bit more work around the eyes and  bobs your uncle it should be done!   

Puffin WIP
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist

Watercolour Withdrawal

Sharp Edge
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist
Even after one bash at the pencils (see last post)  I was already getting withdrawals from the watercolours so just had to do a quick watercolour of my fave mountain ridge in the Lakes - Sharp Edge.   I went with the colours in the photo ref meaning lots of greens - yikes!  Don't you just love greens - anyone who knows the secret to great greens please tell!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Practicing portraits

As promised I put down the paintbrush for the night and picked up the pencils to get some pencil practice in ready for the possible portrait commission that is in the pipeline - wow that is a lot of p's to get your tongue around - good job I'm typing this and not saying it!!  Anyway I'd promised (another p!) my dad I would have a go at his idol Bob Dylan some time so that's who I decided to have a go at - I grew up with the music of Bob Dylan - my dad used to sing Sara to me with his guitar - one of my favourite Dylan songs as well as many others - Tangled up in Blue, Shelter from the Storm, Lay Lady Lay - I could go on........Dylan is an artist as well and his artwork sells for thousands - though my dad much prefers his music and lyrics to his artwork - and says his artwork is a load of rubbish - a bit harsh I said - my dad prefers photo realistic art - so he's not overly impressed with my paintings either- although he likes my drawings - so hopefully he will like this - he hasn't seen it yet but I know he will tell me straight whether he likes it or not and whether he thinks it's a good likeness - yikes - besides ourselves I think family are our worst (or best) critics don't you think - as in they will tell you straight what they think!  This is not a perfect likeness by far but  hopefully you can tell it's a young Bob Dylan - looking at it now I've posted it I can see things wrong and will probably have to go back and tweak it some more

This second pencil portrait is from a photo by Li Newton on Paint my Photo - she has photographed many of the locals on San Salvador island and this is one of them  - Lloyd - Li says some people call him the strongest man on the island.  I really liked his face and gentle eyes.

Lloyd from a photo by Li Newton
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist

As always I look forward to hearing your comments....

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Portrait Commission

Yesterday out of the blue I was given a commission to do a portrait - a lovely lady who brings her grandson to the language and play sessions that I run (that's my day job!) asked me if I do pencil work and when I said yes she asked me if I could do a portrait of a couple she knows for their anniversary - 'yikes!!!!' I thought but a little voice inside me said 'go for it'  - so I said I would have a go but if she didn't like the finished result there would be no obligation to buy  - so it takes the pressure off a little bit!   I haven't done graphite portraits for months and months so it is a bit daunting   -  ' Better get some practice in this week' I thought -  before I get the photo for the commission! - so the watercolours may be on the back burner for a few days and you'll be bombarded with my graphite attempts!   I've been so obsessed with watercolours for the last year that I've completely neglected all other mediums!  I do enjoy working with graphite and have done a few portraits but am definitely a bit out of practice.  One of the last portraits I did was the above one - Li Newton lives in San Salvador and takes the most beautiful photographs of the people who live there - and has very generously posted many of them to PaintmyPhoto.  I've drawn and painted a few of her photographs and this is probably my favourite.

Rachael from San Salvador from a photo by Li Newton

So I'll be sharpening my pencils after tea tonight and getting back into the graphite work - wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Owl Eyes a year on

Owl Eyes
by Sharon Whitley the rambling artist

Well as promised, I've had a go at one of the photos that Gary took of the Eagle Owl from Greenacres on Sunday, a more detailed version than the quick watercolour sketch I did last year.  I didn't really have a plan with this - just started with the eyes as I always do which brings the subject to life for me and then worked my way from there.  I took a few WIPs as I went along

Monday, 9 July 2012

I am an artist - not a camera!

Today's post continues with the landscape theme - those who have been reading my blog up to now will know that I really want to be able to paint the landscapes that I love - the mountains where I walk and try and capture the serenity, beauty and magnificence of these special places and to be able to do this I need to stop being scared of landscapes and practice! - An artist and walking friend, Andy Beck Teesdale Gallery,  who paints beautiful landscapes told me that

'by trying harder subjects it gives you experience and a chance to progress.  They don't work out every time but no matter, you will know better next time.  We are all still learning'.  

Llyn Cau - below Cadair Idris, Snowdonia
from a photo by Gary Jones which can be viewed here
by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist

......I've taken this advice on board .... this painting is from a photo of Llyn Cau which lies below the beautiful Welsh mountain,  Cadair Idris, and is one of my favourite spots if not the most favourite spot of mine in Snowdonia.  I really felt I lost my way with this but have had some great feedback by the lovely people on PMP - the problem with me is that I rely too much on the photo reference - and I think this inhibits me from being more instinctive and creative - after seeing my interpretation of this landscape and knowing how I'd like to be a bit more fearless in my watercolours, Roy Simmons, the fearless watercolourist gave me this advice ..

'say to yourself in the mirror "I am an Artist - I am not a camera!"  You are an Artist, interpreting and reacting emotionally with every stroke of the brush.'

so taking on board Andy and Roy's advice I'm really going to try and get over my fear of landscapes by practice, practice, practice, getting experience and telling myself I'm not a camera!!!!

 As always your comments mean a lot to me

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Owl Eyes

We were treated to another glorious sunny day today (hurray!!!) so the original plan of building the garden fence was put on the back burner - well some things are more important than the garden fence!!!   ... so sarnies prepared,  we headed out to the local animal park with my daughter and her friend.  It was Gary's first visit to this little park and he was pleasantly surprised at the variety of animals there and the 'Pet Corner' where you get the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the animals including a magnificent 15 week old Eagle Owl.

So for today's painting I thought I'd post a quick watercolour sketch I did last year of an Eagle Owl's eyes and funnily enough it's a year to the day that I did it - weird eh?

Owl Eyes - painted July 7th 2011 from a gorgeous photo on PMP by Angeline Rijkeboer
by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist

These beautiful birds have the most amazing hypnotic orange eyes and it was a real thrill to get so close and be able to stroke it's soft feathers - what a treat - much better than building a fence!  I was surprised how big it was already at only 15 weeks.  Here is one of the brilliant photos that Gary took today - you will see many more on his Walks and Wildlife blog here.

A year on, I hope to paint a better version of this magnificent bird so wish me luck and watch this space!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Strawberries? - well it is Wimbledon!

Well it's actually not raining and is a warm and sunny day today - gasp!!  How long it will last I do not know - so a summery post is in order today - and seeing as though Andy Murray has made it to the Wimbledon final tomorrow I think some strawberries are in order - my little tribute and my own little way of wishing him luck - I think he's handled the pressure the public have put on him very well  - having every move scrutinised must be hard and as far as I'm concerned he has nothing to prove but of course would be thrilled for him if he wins so go Andy!!!!  ........ and I hope it doesn't rain in London tomorrow!!!!  Enjoy the strawberries fellow bloggers ... sorry I can't offer the real thing ... yummy!

by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist

and here is a work in progress 
Strawberries WIP

see also cherry paintings here.

As always I love to read your comments - and when I figure out how I'm going to turn off that silly verification thingy - I know they're a pain!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Jubilee Tower

Jubilee Tower on Moel Famau
by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist

Jubilee Tower
by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist

I've had a couple of unscheduled days off due to my daughter slipping and twisting her knee in sports day on Wednesday so it was a trip to A&E for us yesterday and then another day off with her today as she still can't weight bear on it - so in between being nursemaid and fetching and carrying drinks and food for her I've had a bit of extra time to paint - yippee!!!!  I'm feeling quite animated at the moment because I'm having a go at  landscapes which I've usually avoided because I find them a bit scary!  These two paintings are both of a local landmark - Jubilee Tower which sits on the summit of Moel Famau, the highest point on the Clwydian Range in North East Wales and it was here where the hill walking bug started for me - so it  holds a special place in my heart.  Jubilee Tower was built in 1810 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of George III but most of it was blown down in a storm some years later, enough of the tower remains to give Moel Famau it's distinctive look - my niece says it looks like a booby!  Well I'll leave that for you to decide!

As always your comments are welcome!

for earlier posts on  landscapes click here and here

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Fancy a ridge walk?

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good ridge walk (weather permitting !)  - and I've painted two of my favourite ridges in the last 2 days, the first one is Striding Edge in the Lake District with Red Tarn below, I've had a few comments about the water looking out of perspective on this one and would be interested in your thoughts, particularly anyone who knows Striding Edge.  I might soften the blue so the tarn isn't so in yer face!!  The second painting, the magnificent Crib Goch which I'm itching to do again soon (weather permitting!). Crib Goch is the sort of ridge I'll only do on a dry, calm day as there's not a lot of room for manouevre up there and some rather steep drops either side!  For anyone interested there's a photo diary of my first walk on Crib Goch here in perfect conditions where you'll recognise the reference photo I used for the painting. I'm keen to practice more landscapes like this - a perfect way to combine my two favourite pastimes - painting the landscapes that I love ..... thanks for popping by, and as always I love to hear comments from fellow bloggers ..... take care x

Striding Edge and Red Tarn
by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist

Crib Goch and Snowdon
by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist