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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Commission complete

I can finally post the drawing I did of two golden labradors now that it has been safely delivered to it's new home.  I love drawing dogs and have done a few pet portraits both in graphite and watercolour including my own black lab Holly whose eyes you can see looking at you every time you open this blog!  It's always a big sigh of relief when the customer is happy with the result - 'you've got them spot on' was the reaction I got to this one - phew!  I'm not one for intricate detail or realism and don't think you need this to capture a likeness or personality. That's not to say that I don't like pet portraits that are photo realistic - I'm in awe of them and the talent and skill that goes into creating them but I know that I could never achieve that sort of detail in my own work, I know my limitations!!

Here's some WIPs for those of you who like WIPs!

I did my first portrait commission last year and a few weeks ago I unexpectedly met the couple I'd done the portrait for and the dogs themselves when we did the Haystacks walk I blogged about recently. The portrait was a birthday present and I was lucky enough to be sent a photo of the framed drawing with the dogs themselves but it was such a surprise and treat to actually meet them all in person.

Roger and Ann Hiley with their drawing of Bethan and Harry
Roger and Ann are keen hill walkers and have a website documenting their walks HERE

To see more pet portraits follow the links below
Portait of Kimmi   
Portrait of Cali
Portrait of Holly

As always your comments are most welcome

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Handsome Pheasant

Today's offering is another bird that I painted back in January this year,  I love pheasants and see a lot of them round the country lanes where I live.  The colours in the males are just beautiful and I really enjoyed painting this one.

You can see the original photo I used for this on Gary's blog post HERE you just need to scroll down a bit.  I love this photo of Gary's depicting the beautiful detail in this handsome bird's feathers.

That's it - just a quickie from me today,  as I've been browsing other blogs and took longer than I should have! - is it just me or do those word verification things make no sense at all?  It takes me at least 3 tries before I get it right!!!  I'm off to Chester now shopping for school uniforms and birthday presents - I'd rather be painting or up in the hills!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Birds of Prey Day

Today's painting is of a Harris Hawk which I painted back in January.

Harris Hawk 

I love seeing birds of prey hovering overhead while I'm out walking or spotting one sitting in a tree or on a fence post, though they've usually flown away by the time the camera comes out!   There's nothing better than seeing them in the wild but you tend not to be able to get that close - something to do with not having wings! so we have to admire them from afar.  So when the opportunity arises to see these beautiful birds up close, well you can imagine, I jumped at the chance.  I live fairly near the Duke of Westminster's Estate at Eaton Hall and there are a few Garden Open days hosted there each year.  I went to one last month and another today, the main attraction for me being the Falconry displays held by Terry Large.  Terry is so accommodating and both the times we've watched his shows he has invited photographers to come inside the display area where the birds are perched so that they can get excellent close up shots.  You can imagine how delighted Gary was being a wildlife photographer!  Last time he even placed his beautiful barn owls into a nearby oak tree to get that perfect 'natural' shot.

This is on my easel ready to paint, but not sure yet whether I'm going loose or more detailed, I'll just see what the brush decides once I make a start!

It was a real treat to get to hold a Harris Hawk after having painted one back in January. Gorgeous birds.

and one of my favourites, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, stunning birds!!

Regular readers of this blog may remember the painting I did last month of an Eagle Owl with very starey eyes! LINK HERE.

I'm hoping to get the barn owl painting done in the next few days, although I've got loads of mundane stuff to do as well like, shopping for school uniforms, ironing, housework, cleaning windows etc etc. but hopefully I'll  find time!  It's such a nuisance when things like that get in the way don't you think, but it has to be done I suppose!

Before I finish this post, I'd like to say a big thank you to all of you who commented on my last post - I found all the lovely, supportive comments and congratulations so heart warming and kind, thank you so much, I really do appreciate it, and that goes for anyone and everyone who takes time to comment on my ramblings!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Art fit for a Spa

I don't know about you other arty bloggers out there but I often have doubts in my abilities as an artist - I struggle to even use that word - artist - yes I know I've called myself The Rambling Artist and all that but that's because I liked how it incorporates the art and the hiking and I wanted a catchy blog name - in fact it wasn't even my idea but an online friend who thought of it.  We all like to get good comments about our work and I've had some really encouraging and complimentary comments - but I still look at other artist's work and sigh - oh if only I could paint like that!    Anyway the point of this rambling post is that this week I've had a bit of a confidence boost as five - yes FIVE of my paintings have been selected to be used for one off prints in a hotel/spa outside London, with three paintings being used for 2 prints.  They said they liked the simplicity of my work - well hey ho I'll carry on keeping things simple then, that works for me!  I went through a tulip phase a few months back where I was had a thing about painting simple tulips and did quite a few of them, just studies and a more detailed one in acrylics, well I'm so glad I did because 3 of them will soon be on display in a London spa.

From a photo by Steven James Gibbs (PMP)
Tulip from a photo by Sue on PMP

and my two magpies which I have to admit I'm quite fond of have also been chosen

It's nice to think of these two spreading their symbol of joy to visitors of the spa....

Til next time fellow bloggers... comments welcome as always

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Art in the Landscape

Cairns of all shapes and sizes have graced the Earth since prehistoric times and can be found all over the world in uplands, moorlands, deserts, sea cliffs, acting as waymarkers and indicating mountain summits.....not everyone likes cairns and feel that they ruin the natural landscape but I love them - they can certainly be a very comforting site when the clag comes in and you suddenly can't see more than 10 ft in front of you ! ...... a cairn ahead reassures you that you're on the right path ..... and oh what a welcome sight a summit cairn can  be when you've had a long,  hard slog up a particularly steep slope!!  It's common for walkers to add a stone to the top of a cairn as they pass - I like to add a stone to summit cairns, it feels like I've left a little piece of myself at the top!

These summit cairns vary in size from small stone markers to huge piles that are like a hill in themselves and they also vary in their complexity - from loose, untidy piles of stones to elaborate works of art!  Andy Goldsworthy, the Scottish landscape artist has certainly recognised the art in the humble cairn and is known for creating them in his work. Give him a google!

The watercolour sketch above is of the trig point cairn at the summit of Red Screes in the Lake District and was painted as a gift for another friend who completed her final Wainwright there.  It was painting this that made me think of all the different varieties of cairns there are and how they are actually works of art in themselves in our landscapes.  Here are a few more of these artworks from photographs I've taken on my walks

I love this cairn on Blea Crag overlooking Derwentwater

and this one on High Spy - complete with cairn huggers!

This is one of my favourites, at the summit of Dale Head looking down over the Newlands Valley in the Lake District

One of the summit cairns on Pike O Blisco in the Lake District

now to Snowdonia - this is another of my favourites - it doesn't sit on a summit but on the Aran ridge between Aran Benllyn and Aran Fawddwy

and the huge obelisk that sits on the Nantlle Ridge in Snowdonia to mark the summit of Mynydd Tal y Mignedd

I'd like to say my favourite fell in the Lake District had a cairn as grand as the above but unfortunately, poor old Blencathra's beautiful summit is marked by a rather scraggy pile of stones although I've added a few more in the times I've been up there, not that it has made a lot of difference!

Would love to hear of favourite cairns that any walking blogger chums may have and as always I love reading all your comments. Til next time ............

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Yesterday was a very special day for a friend of mine - she was completing her Wainwright round by climbing her final two Wainwrights, Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, therefore completing all the 214 fells Alfred Wainwright climbed and featured in his pictorial guides.  It was an early start - 5.15 alarm call then in the car to drive to the Lake District to meet Shirley and some other walking friends at Buttermere and it certainly was a day to remember!

Haystacks - a watercolour I painted for Shirley as a memento of her special day

The weather at the beginning of the day when we all set off was grim to say the least!

On the summit of Fleetwith Pike - it rained all the way up - no view!
photo taken by Shirley

Walmscale Beck swollen so it was boots and socks off to wade across - a first for me!!
photo taken by Shirley

On the summit of Haystacks - and a new member of the Wainwright completion club!!!

While celebrating on the summit the clouds cleared and we enjoyed sunshine and blue skies for the rest of the day !

The route up Fleetwith Pike which we climbed in the pouring rain earlier!

Haystacks looking gorgeous

A great end to the day!!
Climbing all 214 Wainwrights is some challenge to take on especially when you live a fair way from the Lake District but it's something I quite fancy doing in the future - at the moment I'm just happy to be in the mountains, but there is always something special about climbing something you've not done before and I'm keeping note of any new Wainwright fells that I do - and if I ever find I'm within reach of that momentous 214 then I might just go for it!   after yesterday I'm up to 63 so I've got a long way to go yet !

Friday, 17 August 2012

Time for new boots

These boots were made for walking

In the last few big walks I've done I've found that I've ended up with pretty sore feet which I can only put down to the boots I'm wearing - they've served me well but think it may be time to get some new ones.  I love my boots, they have travelled over many mountains and walked many miles, been soaked through on many occasions but managed to keep my feet reasonably dry and they've even doubled as a post walk bottle holder.......


I won't be able to bring myself to throw them away - they hold too many memories - so if anyone has any ideas what I can do with them ....... then please let me know ..... maybe I could stick a plant pot in them and use them to display a couple of nice geraniums!!  All I know is they're just too sentimental to chuck out!!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Walking in the Carneddau

For the last 2 days of our week away we camped in the Ogwen Valley in Snowdonia under the watchful eye of the majestic Tryfan.  I love this place and Tryfan is a favourite of many mountain walkers. The North ridge is a scramble pretty much from bottom to top - I managed to get a quick sketch in using water soluble graphite and a bit of watercolour - all of course while being attacked by those darn midges whose bites I'm still itching now a week later!

Tryfan sketch

We didn't climb Tryfan on this occasion but instead crossed over to the other side of the valley and walked the beautiful Carneddau mountains. It was a glorious day and I wore my shorts -eeek! ... a very rare occurence for me but luckily it was only a few other walkers that had to suffer the sight of my very white, never see the sun, chunky mountain legs!!!

Here is a small selection of the photos that Gary took on the day, we again came across a few of the wild Carneddau ponies which roam this are and which always give me a thrill and got some lovely shots of swallows being fed on the wing.

Tryfan in the early morning sun

A fledgling swallow fed on the wing - one less midgey to worry about!!
(thinking of painting this one!)

Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen

The beautiful Ffynnon Lloer (Source of the Moon)

A nice little scramble up the East ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen 

Carneddau pony
Ffynnon Llugwy below Pen yr Helgi Du (Hill of the Black Hound)

This beautiful wild pony appeared from over the hill, a lovely sight to see and followed by many more looking for water on a hot afternoon

It was a beautiful walk though the soles of my feet were hurting a bit towards the end - which they never used to on big walks - think it may be time for new boots!!!

That's enough of my rambles for today, hope you enjoyed the photos - I'm very lucky to have a walking partner who doubles as an excellent photographer!  To see more of Gary's photos from our trip you can check out his blog site here.

As always your comments are most welcome - I love to read them and I've switched off the word verification - I know it's a pain!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Welsh Matterhorn

Cnicht - the Matterhorn of Wales!
Hello fellow bloggers!.... just a quickie today, this is a watercolour sketch I did last week as we were passing through Dwyfor in Snowdonia.  This is a mountain called Cnicht which comes from the word Knight in English (the silent K used to be pronounced in olden times apparently).  I just love how it looks from this angle - it is also known as the Welsh Matterhorn because of its appearance when viewed from the south-west but is actually the end of a long ridge.  It's part of the Moelwynion range of mountains in Snowdonia.  We'd been admiring the view from the car while driving from Harlech and decided to stop so that I could do a quick watercolour sketch - first time I've sat at the side of the road painting something but it was great fun especially in such beautiful surroundings on a gorgeously sunny day.....

Monday, 13 August 2012


Following on from yesterday's post -  after Sunday's strenuous walk around the Snowdon Horseshoe and climbing Moel Hebog (Hill of the Hawk) and Moel Ogof (Hill of the Cave) on Monday, when it came to Tuesday we decided on a 'chill out' day and visited the beautiful little village of Portmeirion.  This is a place I've wanted to visit for some time but even more so since seeing Rob Piercy's watercolours inspired by his love for the place.  Portmeirion is a tourist village built between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian coastal town.  It's a wonderful little place and we were blessed with glorious sunshine the day we visited which made the colours of the buildings and gardens all the more vibrant.  I took my little watercolour sketch pad with me, a paintbrush and a palette of watercolours, got some water from the pond in the gardens and sat sketching for an hour in the sunshine.....

Watercolour sketch of the Dome Gallery, Portmeirion

Gary took some great photos of this gorgeous place with loads of juicy colours for me to use in future paintings......

Click here for a link to Rob Piercy's Portmeirion collection which I saw exhibited at his gallery in Porthmadog earlier in the day - they are superb!  Oh to be able to paint like that!

Oh and to finish off here are a couple of photos from Monday's walk

Making my way up Moel Hebog - Hill of the hawk, not that we saw any!

The beautiful little village of Beddgelert

Thank you for taking the time to read my rambles, as always I would love to read any comments you have, enjoy your day!