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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A rescued stag and Challenge no.1

I painted this over a year ago and didn't like it so I thought I'd do a little experiment and try and do a rescue attempt on it - I lifted out the original background and added more washes to the stag and the water reflections underneath and now I quite like it - well it's better than it was anyway!!!!  The original painting was very flat with no tonal value  - It was fun getting out an old painting and seeing if it could be improved upon, it made me realise that my painting has improved a bit over the past year or so!!

After Polly Birchall posted some old school paintings on her blog, I said I would do the same so here are a couple of sketches from my VERY old sketchpad - from 1985!!!  I still kick myself for not continuing with art after I left school and leaving it til now but making up for lost time now!

Even back then my favourite subject to draw was wildlife and portraits.   

And for those of you who are interested in joining in with the monthly painting challenge I've just started on my facebook page here is the first photo - it's one of Gary's and is of 2 greylag geese strutting their stuff in the snow - I think he's captured great character in these geese, why not have a go, any medium, any style, I'd love to see what you artists out there come up with, I'll be having a go as well of course - if you post the result on your blog I'll copy and paste it on to here for everyone to see with a link to your blog and with your permission I'll post it to my facebook page as well - just a bit of fun, happy painting xxx

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Big cat and little cats

©Sharon Whitley

Hellooooo all you bloggers out there, hope you're all having a great day.  Where do the weekends go?  Can't believe it's back to work again tomorrow - it's been a funny old weekend, no walking this weekend except for an unscheduled one on Friday night!  Gary and I went on our 'spinning' Christmas do in Chester - we got the bus and paid for a return fare planning to get the last bus back - but while we were having our meal it was snowing heavily outside - so much so that all the buses stopped running - and most of the taxi drivers went home too!  After about an hour trying to find a taxi we finally managed to flag one down but it couldn't get us all the way home because of the snow and we had to walk the last couple of miles - in pouring rain, cold - now you know I love a good snowy walk but not in my party frock! I was glad to be home I can tell you!  Yesterday we went to Chester Zoo again and met the baby elephant that was born last Monday - oh what a little cutie!  It was great to see the animals in the snow and Gary got some wonderful photos as usual, the highlight of the day was watching a rather brave little robin hopping around one of the tigers trying to pinch a scrap of his lunch!

As well as painting a big cat I've painted a couple of small cats too, in a much looser style

© Sharon Whitley

©Sharon Whitley

Those of you who follow my facebook page may have read that I'm planning on starting a 'monthly art challenge', wherby I post a photo and invite other artists to paint it in whatever medium and style they wish - there are a few interested and I'll be posting the first challenge before the end of the month ready for February - I'll post the photo here on my blog too if any of you out there would like to join in.  It's just a bit of fun, not a competition, just a way of seeing how different artists interpret the same subject and hopefully we can all learn a little bit from each other.  I'll be mainly using Gary's photos, but I won't limit it to wildlife and landscapes and will also use photos from the Paint my Photo site and use suggestions from artists that are joining in the fun - so let me know if you'd like to join in - it doesn't have to be every month just whenever you want depending on whether you have the time and like the subject!  That's it from me for now - have a wonderful week!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Back to painting birds

© Sharon Whitley

Continuing with the theme of painting the garden birds, I was inspired to paint a fieldfare today as I've been watching a flock of them at the bottom of next door's garden all day - and even though I tried to tempt them into my garden by putting out halved apples, they didn't come in, but it was lovely to see them anyway - gorgeous birds.  The garden birds have become quite scarce since next door cut his trees back and I really miss seeing them.  Any ideas how to entice them back would be much appreciated - I'm planning on planting a couple of trees soon so that should help.  I do feel sorry for the birds during this particularly cold spell - if you don't already please put out some food for them to help them along! 

Another painting I did this evening was the lovely rook which have a beautiful purple and blue sheen to them when the light hits them in a certain way - thanks to Richard Steel for allowing me to use his beautiful photo - his wonderful blog can be found here.  He really captures the beautifully subtle colours of some often overlooked birds like the rook, jackdaw, magpie and starling and has some gorgeous in flight bird shots.

© Sharon Whitley

Next on the easel is a tiger!!!

Managed to get out walking in the mountains yesterday - we drove to Aber and climbed a mountain called Drosgl - it was bitterly cold up there but great to be out and we saw a few of our favourite Carneddau ponies in the winter coats.

I'm posting a couple of pics for you here but there will soon be more on the other blog Two Pairs of Boots.

The partly frozen Aber Falls, impressive as always

These gorgeous Welsh Mountain ponies are so hardy!

It felt like arctic conditions on the top of Drosgl!

It's snowing again tonight and hoping the snow sticks around for next week's walk but a bit less wind would be nice - it was sooo cold!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Carneddau Pony

This is painted from one of my favourite photographs of Gary/'s.  It was one of those special moments when we were walking over the summit of the final mountain on our walk and this beautiful wild pony appeared from over the skyline towards us - we both looked at each other, thinking the same thing - magic!  Gary managed to get a wonderful photo and I've wanted to have a go at painting it ever since, only now plucking up the courage to do it!  Here is the photo.....

We've also now completed our 4th waterproof free walk of the year - that must be already a record on last year which was horrendous weather wise!  We decided to walk up Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales and it was a gorgeous (although cold) day... so if you'd like to see the photos pop over to TWO PAIRS OF BOOTS for a nosey!  Here's a taster.....

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Stonechat and a Herdy

After finishing my series of garden birds I decided I would gradually start painting the birds that I see when out and about and the beautiful stonechat is one of them.  We sometimes see one or two when we're out walking - they're gorgeous, love the way they perch right on top of the heather and love the noise they make, like two stones being bashed together. Unfortunately, they've been hit by harsh winter weather which has seen a decline in their numbers over the last couple of years. Gary rarely carries his big lens when we're out on a long walk and so he doesn't have any close up photos of the stonechat (yet) so I've pinched my reference photo from Brian Rafferty's blog (I know you don't mind Brian!)

By the way if anyone reading this actually sees a stonechat in this country I know a man who'd be very interested to hear about it Pete Woodruff of Birds2Blog is recording all the sightings he can, to try and discover if their numbers are on the increase again.

Something else which we never fail to see when out walking the hills is sheep of course and the Herdwick breed fondly known as 'Herdy's, native to the Lake District in Cumbria are my favourites. They are such characters and I've got a mountain of photos to choose from as he can rarely walk past one without stopping to take a photo!

I'm trying to get a bit of painting done before I go back to work tomorrow after the Christmas break - I shouldn't complain as I've had two weeks off but I'd rather be out walking or painting than going to work, sigh, keep buying those lottery tickets!

Thank you to those of you who have checked out my daughter's new blog Wildlife with Whitley  and left such encouraging comments - she was thrilled!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Carneddau ponies

Yesterday was a stunner of a walk - pop over to Two pairs of boots for more photos - the cloud was rolling around all day but the mountains remained cloud free where we were walking.  We saw the shaggiest Carneddau ponies we've ever seen, snug in their winter coats and breathtaking scenery.  Next on the agenda art wise is to paint one of these beautiful ponies but not sure whether to paint them in their surroundings like in the photo above or a close up as I've done before, the one below is now owned by one of my facebook page likers, so I definitely need to paint another!

Gary often posts his photos on to Paint My Photo, a site where artists can browse copyright free photos to use as references for their artwork - there is an amazing selection of photos on there and I would highly recommend it to artists who like to use photos as references. He has posted a few of his Welsh ponies on there which have inspired quite a few artists to paint them. Here is a small selection of them......

 by the amazingly talented David Stribbling - in oils

 and his equally talented daughter Rachel - yes that is an oil painting not a photo!

a stunning acrylic by Christine Williams

and this lovely little watercolour by Betty Mulligan

and to end my blog post today I'd like to introduce you all to my daughter Sian who decided last night to take up blogging herself - she's 12 years old and loves taking photos, particularly of animals so her blog will be dedicated to wildlife photography - I hope some of you will pop over and give her a bit of encouragement  as I would really like to spur on this interest she has - psssst, she's also pretty good at drawing so hoping to spark an interest in art there too!  

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Baby Elephant and a trip to the zoo

Today's painting for you is the very cute and brand new baby elephant which was born at the end of November at Chester Zoo.  Gary was there on Monday and took some beautiful photos of the little elly as well as some more amazing tiger and cheetah shots and some of the gorgeous painted dogs which I love - so lots more tempt me into getting those brushes flowing!!

Talking of zoos we've been to the zoo today, not Chester Zoo though but South Lakes Animal Park, a cracking little privately owned zoo in Dalton in Furness, in Cumbria - it's well worth the 2 hour drive - I just love it there, there's not as much variety as in Chester but it feels more personal and inviting somehow, and my daughter Sian absolutely loved it!   Here we are taking a walk with the emus......

There'll be more piccies from South Lakes and Chester Zoo on Gary's blog soon.  That's it from me today - off for a BIG walk tomorrow - weather looking good so fingers crossed  - thank you so much to everyone who commented on my zebra painting from yesterday, those stripes certainly gave me a headache but it was worth it - I'm planning on doing more partial face paintings in the future and Rhonda I'm planning on painting some of those wild ponies for sure - here is one I did a while back....hopefully we'll see some on our big walk tomorrow!

Your comments are welcome as always...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

First painting of 2013!

I've always loved Gary's photo which I used as a reference for this painting - I love the composition of it with just the eye showing so I've been wanting to have a go at painting it for a while now - but all those stripes!!!!  Arrrgh!!!  And I have to say they did drive me a bit nuts but I'm glad I persevered  - so here it is my first painting of hopefully many more to come this year.  We've also had our first walk of the year, on New Year's Day up onto Conwy Mountain, a really great start to the year.......

for more piccies from the walk, hop over to Two Pairs of Boots where you'll see the smallest house in Britain (it's tiny!), Holly in her element swimming in the Conwy Estuary and some gorgeous wild ponies which we often see in this area  - we could do with a few more followers over there as well if you like!  We're off to South Lakes Animal Park tomorrow, looking forward to that and then Friday another walk - I hope the year has started full of excitement for the year ahead -  til next time bloggers!