Monday, 29 November 2010

Pet Portraits


Do you have a pet? Be it a dog, a cat, a rabbit... or some other wonderful creature that helps make your house a home? Well, I'd love to paint him or her for you! You have more than one? Well, then I can paint them all! There are so many different options available to you, and me (or my husband!) would love to spend time discussing them with you, to create for you a piece of art you can treasure forever.

Prices vary depending on several factors, such as the size of work you want, how many pets you have and the style you want it in. Generally prices will start from about £30.

I work from a photograph (or multiple), which you can either provide yourself, or we can take for you. I am based in Wirral, and if you live in the North West region myself or my husband can arrange to come to your house and take appropriate pictures for you, for a small fee.

The various styles that I currently offer can be seen in the pictures above:

1. Acrylic paint on canvas - impressionist style
2. Acrylic paint on canvas - mixture of impressionist and detail
3. Acrylic paint on canvas - highly detailed
4. Watercolour paint on quality paper - impressionist style
5. Watercolour paint on quality paper - detailed
6. Pencil drawing

For a small extra cost, watercolour paintings and pencil drawings can be provided in a mount, or framed ready to hang.

All pieces come with a free booklet detailing the journey your art work has taken to reach the finished piece - this may include the original photograph, any pencil sketches undertaken, and the final piece as I transform it from a blank slate to your personalised piece of art.

I would love to hear from you if you are interested, and we can discuss options to suit your requirements!

Winter's Art Market @ St George's Hall & ME/CFS


Yesterday we were at the Winter's Art Market with Feel Good Fair at St George's Hall, Liverpool, organised by Open Culture. I want to share with you not only a bit about the market, but also about how I coped as an ME sufferer. I don't talk about my ME much here, but I think this is an important topic, and having shared some of my story with customers yesterday, I would like to share it here, too.

The market itself was a buzz of activity. From when we arrived just after 9, til when we left just after 5, there was a really positive atmosphere. It oozed creativity, there were over 100 stall holders alone! There was Christmas music playing all day, and the buzz of voices echoed around. I saw more people than I have all year, and had some wonderful conversations with utter strangers - about the content of my photographs, my health and my education. It was lovely to engage in this, as I have suffered from anxiety for years, and to be able to interact is something I am really pleased about.

The interest in Pet Portraits was huge, and has spurred me on to complete that section of this website. Many people were also interested in my photographs, and the shop will hopefully be launched within the week! I believe I was also interviewed for Kensington Community Radio - do send me a message if you heard it - though I have to say I have no idea what I said ;)

Anyway, me and my husband suffer from ME/CFS. This is a chronic illness, with symptoms as diverse as extreme fatigue, constant aches and pains in muscles and joints, gastric problems, headaches and sore throats, sleep problems, and cognitive difficulties. Just climbing the stairs can be a marathon, so doing the Arts Market was... Well, excruciating! Due to having major sleep problems, just waking before midday is a challenge, and getting up at half 7 after less than 4 hours sleep wasn't easy. Sitting in an upright chair without head support was exhausting, and I borrowed my hsuband's walking stick to be able to stand and converse with people. I disappeared for a massage at the fair for half an hour as I have an extremely bad back which the NHS won't fund help for. I had to call in my father-in-law to do all the loading and unloading in the morning and evening, as neither of us can lift anything. And when we returned home before 6pm, we were only able to throw a pizza in the oven, and curl up in bed to eat it. Neither of us could stand, my husband was collapsing, and we were too fatigued to talk and in too much pain to move.

So why did we put ourselves through doing that? Because it is my dream to be an artist and photographer, and the only way to make it happen is to get into the world and show them what I'm made of. I put a grin on my face and lift my voice so they don't see the pain inside. I hide the bandages on my legs which help me stand up. I disguise my inabilitiy to hold me head up with scarves. I hide heat packs under my clothes to ease the pain. For people to see my work, the pain is worth it. It's now the afternoon after, and I have only moved to go to the bathroom. I don't know when I will make it downstairs today - we will have to move at some point to eat. This is life with ME. This is why I can't work, this is why your commission may take longer with me than someone else. But know that I will put my heart and my energy into it, and I will reach perfection no matter what it takes. It's not a pity story, it's an insight into my life.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Something that always shocks me, is when art events - of varying kinds - have bad graphics on their flyers etc. As far as I'm concerned, if there is one event which should have good graphics it's an art event, as it represents the quality of the work being displayed.

I was talking to my husband about this last night, as he is very good at looking at things with a different perspective to what my brain has locked on to. He pointed out, that just because someone is an artist, doesn't make them a graphic designer; just because they can use a paint brush, doesn't mean they can even switch a computer on. Being brutally honest, this was a revelation to me. Why? Well, graphics are integral to my art, my photography, everything. I am a jack of all trades, a master of none. I dabble in art - in various mediums, photography - in various styles, craft, and graphics. I don't know any of them inside out, like a specialist would. But I do all of them to a high standard, and I am able to intermingle them.

So how did I become like this? Why am I not just focussed on one creative path? Honestly, I think it's because I was influenced by my family as I've grown up. Let me explain!

My maternal Grandpa was a carpenter, even with heavy disabilities. I will never forget climbing all the dark twisty stairs in his old house up to the attic. It overlooked the River Mersey, which was always fascinating. But it smelt of wood, and it was full of tools and a lathe. It was amazing. A creative space.

My paternal Nan was an artist, and oil painter. She painted landscapes, scenery, animals. I remember going into the back room of my Grandparents house to see the latest project she was working on. All my famiy have works of her art up around their house. Me? Well, yes. But the piece I have was the piece she was working on at the end. It is maybe a third finished, it that. There is a beautiful wintery sky, and no more. It's in my art room, my inspiration to move forward.

My Dad is the creative type. An author, for one. He lectured in DTP, and knows graphics. He typesets and designs books. He has a collection of old printing presses - you can see my adventures with the Arab Platen here. When I was younger he always had a camera in his hand, and encouraged me to do the same. He bought me my first camera - a yellow one free with 4 Kodak films at Boots, and all my subsequent ones - an APS, my first digital camera, then the Samsung NV7, the Samsung WB5000 - until now. (My EOS 550D arrives this week!!) When most people were given a project at school, along the lines of "design a poster, in French, advertising your favourite TV programme" (I think that was Year 7!), they'd load up one of those Microsoft progammes, paste a picture in and put words around it. We didn't even have Microsoft. I'd load up Photoshop and Quark Xpress. I'd assemble it properly. It had to pass my Dad's eye before I could print it off. Sections had to be lined up, gaps had to be equal. No special effects here, just clear crisp graphics. I often found it a pain at the time, but it gave me the graphic designers eye, to know when something looks Right.

My Mum will deny any idea of being creative, and call herself a scientist. But she does embroidery, tapestry, knitting, and makes clothes. "It's just following patterns." But it's still a form of creativity. It's because of her I can mix these mediums with my work, and i am desperate to get a sewing machine and tailors dummy. It was also my Mum who let me cover the dining room table with my painting stuff as a young child (and it was my Dad who, by my teens, had moved me to the pool table, and then my own art desk in the spare room - they wanted somewhere to eat dinner again!!)

My brothers are an interesting mix of the scientist and the creative, you could almost say they create science. Mark's wife however is an artist, and she is an inspiration for achieving the work she has with ME. I will never forget Chris painting his GCSE Art either... And he went on to do a photography course, which helped inspire me to follow on.

Caroline, my sister, has probably been one of the bigger influences, in all honesty. Another ME sufferer (along with Mark and his wife), she lived with me until I was 14. She had her own card business, she painted, and she is one of these people who sees an idea and says "I can do that". She has no fear of trying new techniques. I remember tie-dying, silk painting, batik, using Fimo, fabric painting, foam stamping, rubber stamping, embossing... So many techniques I can't list them all! (Even sitting there for hours peeling off the back of double sided sticky tape to help her makes cards!!) We even have an enamelling oven to set up. I may not do much of any of that anymore, but it really enriched my young artistic life.

It hasn't been easy though. I think when you're in a family, and they've seen you grow up, it's hard to take a step back and realise what your "youngest daughter" or "little sister" has become. I'm not sure if my family have got their heads round it yet, that I am trying everyday to live my dream. I spent so long in my life being told, by various people, that I couldn't make it as an artist/photographer, and I definitely wouldn't make money. But I'm trying everyday. And one day I know I will succeed. My husband supports me unwaveringly, and if there's one thing which pushes me forward when there seems no way, it's him. He is an amazing muse, and he has ideas when my mind just fails. Without his parents none of my photography would be printed or framed. They'd all still be sat on my computer screaming for light of day!

Really, I am an accumulation of all my family's talents, all these influences. And I quite like being an eclectic mix of talents, each of which I can throw into a project as necessary.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Liverpool Academy of Arts Christmas Open

These two are currently in the Liverpool Academy of Art's Christmas Open exhibition 2010!

You can find them at:
32 Seel Street
L1 4BE

From tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd November) until Thursday 9th December, 12-4pm.

Do pop in, there is a great array of different mediums and styles, from rocking horses to fused glass work, photography, acrylics, pastels - everything!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Winter's Art Market @ St George's Hall

I found out today that out of 200 applicants for 125 places, I got a stall at the Winter's Art Market at St George's Hall!! Put the date in your diary now! :)
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