Category Archives: Portraits

Scotland’s Trade Fair 2016

Yahoo!  That’s me… I’ve officially booked my stand and accommodation for January’s Scotland Trade Fair – Spring 2016!!!

It was in 2008 when I did my last trade show, just before my first born arrived.  That one was in Harrogate.  In 2007 I exhibited at the trade shows in Torquay and Scotland and before that in 2006, I did the massive Spring Fair in Birmingham’s NEC.

Two little nippers later, I had a break from promotional work to concentrate on my young family and my portrait commissions.  My youngest will shortly be starting school so more time for my business once again.

I can’t say that taking part in trade shows have been up there with the most enjoyable times in my life but strangely enough I’m really looking forward to this latest venture.  My card range has grown considerably since I last exhibited and now, several years on, my confidence and knowledge in this area has grown considerably too.  I’m so proud of the products that I have so I’m really looking forward to showing them off.

I’m hoping to have a little look around Scotland’s Autumn Trade Fair later on this year.  Although I already have my stand planned out, it’s always well worth seeing what your competition is up to.  Not only that, in the past I have found that fellow traders are often very helpful and happy to share advice.

Roll on January!!!

Labradoodle Portrait

Where does the time go?  Too busy drawing portrait commissions and running photo competitions on my portrait Facebook page, that’s where!

Anyway, here I am back in the Blog world for a quick update…

Last month I ran a Labradoodle Photo Competition on my Facebook page, on the hunt for a card design to join next years new arrivals.  The competition was a huge success, mainly due to the fantastic support that I had from Doodle Trust and a number of other rescue kennels.

Winning Photo Poster - Martin Borrett  (Eric)

Martin Borrett had the winning photo of this gorgeous fella, Eric.  Labradoodles always seem to be one of those breads where the dogs are given the most brilliant names!  Anyway, I digress. Here is the portrait in progress…

Labradoodle - Stage 1 Labradoodle - Stage 2 Labradoodle Competition - Stage 3

Just over 32 hours behind the drawing board but what a result!  One of my favourite portraits to date.

Christmas Portrait Commissions

Long time, no write… sorry.

Since my last post, things have been extremely hectic behind the drawing board.  Christmas portrait commissions galore!

Here are just a few of my favourite dog portraits…

Anne-Claire Howard - Photo 2    Anne-Claire Howard - Facebook

“Thank you for Hugo’s portrait! I love it and it will make the perfect Christmas present.”


Judy Long - Photo    Judy Long - Facebook

“Oh Sami that’s gorgeous! It couldn’t possibly be any other dog! Actually has brought me to tears (of happiness!)!! I think my sister will be really delighted. Thank you SO much”


James Hudson - Photo 1 (Teasle)    James Hudson - Facebook

“That looks fantastic! Thank you.”


Gareth Perry - Photo (Fred)    Gareth Perry - Facebook 

“It’s arrived and it’s absolutely brilliant; thank you so much! My mum will be utterly thrilled. You certainly are very talented”

Oh, how I love my job!

And now it’s coming to the end of my Portrait January Sale which, like last year, has proved to be yet another fantastic success.   Busy, busy, busy… just the way I like it.

Horse photo competition

Way back in May this year I announced my latest photo competition.  This one was to find a new companion to join the horse card collection.

Like with all of the other photo competitions that I’ve ran on Facebook, this was another huge success.  So much so, I ended up selecting two winners…

Horse Competition Winner - Jade Storey - Tasy Horse Competition Winner - Hannah Bown - Finn

Between choosing the winning photos and drawing them, I had to squeeze in several urgent portrait commissions on top of an already busy drawing schedule, so it did take a lot longer to get to this final stage than I had originally planned but, at long last, here are the finished results…

Horse Comp Winner 1 - Stage 1 Horse Comp Winner 1 - Stage 2 Horse Competition Winner 1 - Stage 3

Horse Competition Winner 2 - Stage 1 Horse Competition Winner 2 - Stage 2 Horse Competition Winner 2 - Stage 3

Roll on January 2015 when they officially go on sale along with the 6 other new card designs.  I can’t wait to show them off!

My first A1 size pencil portrait

What a hectic couple of months that has been, the last of which was spent drawing a huge pencil portrait of a tree never-the-less… can you still call it a portrait when the subject in question is a tree?

Anyway, I thought my concentration levels were going to dwindle towards the end but surprisingly it was the exact opposite. I would go as far as to say it was quite therapeutic… it would have been even more so if it wasn’t for the strict deadline!

It all started way back in January of this year when I was commissioned to draw an A4 size portrait of…

Tree Photo

The main reason for the drawing on this occasion, was for it to be used within a new letter head design.  As an A4 portrait it looked great but seeing it reduced in size as part of a logo (for want of a better description) well, it looked simply stunning.

A couple of months later, I had second request emailed through that I couldn’t resist and the challenge was set… The same tree drawn onto an A1 sheet.

I can’t remember ever drawing anything on such a large scale, not even at school.  I must admit, secretly I was very nervous about the whole idea.  Not due to whether or not I could draw it but more concerns about the practical side of things.

I use an A1 size drawing board every working day so that wasn’t a problem.  It was more things like sourcing the paper… surprisingly not the easiest, storing the portrait while it was in progress and the thing I had most kittens about was packaging the portrait safely for it’s travels through the postal network.

Believe it or not, it took me well over an hour to get it ready for sending.  The heavy weight paper that I use isn’t very forgiving if handled without the utmost care.  After spending four weeks working on such an intense project the thought of slightly creasing or marking the commission while trying to roll it up into a tube was almost unbearable.  Thankfully my patience rewarded me and it arrived safe and sound the very next day.

Needless to say, my client was very happy with the finished result, equally was I.

Tree Photo A1 Tree Commission A1 - Tree Commission




Memorial portrait testimonial

I short but touching post this time…

Last week I sent an A3 portrait to a gentleman who had commissioned a drawing of his wife who had sadly passed away.  I hadn’t heard from him the day it should have arrived which I thought was a little strange.  I often get an email or phone call to say thank you.

The following day a card arrived through my letterbox…

“Got the portrait this morning and I am delighted with it.  It’s as if you knew her.  You captured her lovely laughing eyes, and made it so full of life.  Although I still miss her so much, seeing her face smiling at me every day through your drawing will help so much”

It goes without saying that these words pulled at my heart strings.  I feel very privileged that the commissions I draw I can mean so much to someone.  This is certainly a card I will treasure.

Last minute portrait requests

Apologies for the distinct lack of posts during the last few weeks…

My previous post said that a last minute portrait commission had come in which had to delay the new horse card images from being drawn.  That was shortly followed by two more last minute commissions and as I hate to disappoint anyone, well put it this way, the pressure has been a tad intense to say the least!

On top of the portraits that were already booked in for May and June… an A3 adult portrait, an A4 adult with dog portrait, an A4 adult with baby portrait and last but by no means least, a heart melting A4 baby portrait, I also had to squeeze in another A4 dog portrait, a beautiful A4 wedding portrait and currently I am in the middle of a fantastic A3 portrait of two gorgeous puppies… very cute!!  After this week is over things should go back to being relatively calm again… I hope.

July will be spent drawing my first A1 size portrait… of a tree of all things.  I can’t wait to show that one off once it’s done!  Then, after I have completed a commission that’s come in all the way from Texas, it will finally be the new horse card images turn.  Poor Jade and Hannah who won the horse photo competition.  It will be well worth the wait, I promise.

For anyone out there who is interested in booking a portrait at short notice, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I usually ask for about three months notice (more during the run up to Christmas) but if there’s anyway that I can squeeze in your booking, then I will.

And be reassured…. although I would do my utmost to help if I can, I would never accept a commission if I wasn’t able to give it 100% and meet the deadline required.

Memorial Portraits

I often get asked to draw portraits of people and pets who are longer with us.

Although they are harder to do, emotionally, they are such an honour to draw… knowing that your work will be the perfect reminder of such a special person or animal.  Something that will be treasured forever.

By far the toughest commissions that I have done over the years are of new born babies who have either been still born or who have died shortly after birth.

These portraits usually involve trying to draw the baby, ignoring any medical equipment or skin discoloration.  It’s hard as I always draw people exactly how they are in the photographs that I’m given.  I don’t like to try and imagine what they might look like behind tubes and wires.  In these cases I always offer to scan the drawing while it’s in progress, giving the parents every opportunity to add changes where they feel it’s necessary.

It’s strange, but after the initial glace at the photo’s I’m sent, I usually don’t notice all the distressing aspects of it.  That may sound wrong and I don’t mean it to… the point I’m trying to get a cross is that I see the the baby as he or she would have been if it wasn’t for the tragic circumstances.  Content and healthy.

I often talk to them too while I’m drawing them… may be that’s just my way of dealing with it.  And when I hear from the grateful parents after they have received their finished portrait, I usually shed a tear or two… I’m only human, after all.



Drawing tips

Donkey Portrait Two - Stage 1  Donkey Portrait Two - Stage 2  Donkey Portrait Two - Stage 3  Donkey Portrait Two - Stage 4

I often get asked to share any hits and tips that I have about drawing.

Well the main one would be…

Draw what you see, not what you think you should see –

Sounds obvious I know, but believe it or not, that’s where most people slip up.  I very rarely look at what I draw as eye’s, nose, mouth etc.  It’s more a case of lines and shading.  It’s only when the portrait is almost finished that I actually look at it as a face if that makes sense?

Look at your drawings reflection in a mirror –

If you’ve made a mistake but you can’t quite put your finger on where it has gone wrong, looking at it through a mirror accentuates the error so it’s easier to put right.

And last but by no means least… Putty rubbers! –

A ‘must have’ for any artist who uses pencils, that’s for sure.  You may find it tricky to get used to at first… to say I wasn’t a big fan at the beginning is an understatement!  But persevere as I wouldn’t be without one now.  Not only can you rub out the smallest of areas but they are great for adding texture to drawings, from fluff on blankets to shine on individual strands of hair.

Horse Portraits

Another subject that I love to draw… horses.

I’ve always been a huge fan of these gorgeous animals so whenever I get commissioned to draw one of them, it’s an absolute pleasure.

Pam Duncan - Buddy 1 The Joker - Stage 2 The Joker - Stage 3 The Joker - Stage 4

The most requested portraits are close-ups, just including the head and neck.  I love being able to capture all of the detail onto a sheet of paper… the glint in their eyes, the course strands of mane, even the tiniest of stitching within a bridle.

Eventing portraits are also a favourite of mine… perfect for getting my teeth into!  So many wonderful textures crammed within one drawing… how could an artist possibly resist!!

Horse and Rider Blog