Category Archives: Step by step

Book now for new workshop dates!

New dates for June workshops

New dates for pastel workshops in June 2017  have been added.

1 day Scottish Wildcat in pastel –
Monday 19th June

Scottish Wildcat pastel workshops
Scottish wildcat 1 day workshop in pastel

This is a great little piece to get started on if you are new to velour and everything is provided to take you step by step through working on velour.

2 day Chinese Leopard in pastel –
Saturday 3rd June & Sunday 4th June

Chinese Leopard pastel workshops
Chinese Leopard 2 day pastel workshop

This is a beautiful image and is full of colour and texture.  In this 2 day workshop you can really get your teeth into fur and textures on velour in pastel.


Click the images to see the full course outlines.

Workshops coming soon! Adventures in Abstract

If detail is not your thing or if you just want to loosen up or learn more about the principles & elements of design then this new workshop could be for you.

I’m currently creating some great activities and exercises and hope to be able to launch the pilot workshop in late June / early July.

Abstract work is often misunderstood so many artists tend to steer clear, but its a fantastic way to play with colour, new techniques and mediums as well as exploring  the principles and elements of design.  Even if, like me, you love to produce detailed pieces, you might be surprised how an abstract workshop can improve your practise.

The workshops will be over 2 days and a range of mediums will be provided along with a blank canvas for your finished piece.

I will be running a pilot workshop at the reduced fee of £150 per person (for the 2 days) so email me if you’d like to be added to the list for that course.

Well that’s all for now

Hope to see some of you on the new Abstract workshop or one of the pastel sessions.


New Magazine, new course, new things to learn

New Magazine available now!


Last week Paint & Draw made the step from online to a printed paper version and it featured one of my step by steps of a Chinese Leopard in pastel.


This fab new magazine has tips, techniques and articles to inspire and suit everyone no matter what your experience, so its a great read.

There is also a special introductory offer of 4 issues for £5

Click this link to find out for information about the offer


New Courses for 2017

New workshop dates have been added to the courses section of my website.

A 2 day pastel workshop is now available and the first of these is scheduled for Feb 2017.  If you would like to plan for a date that is not yet scheduled, give me a  call – I am always happy to accomodate where I can.

Like most artists I love to learn new skills, especially where art is concerned and recently I have been learning all about Nails and Nail art.  Only the assessments to go and I will be a fully qualified Nail Technician too lol – I know – the things I get myself into.

But there is method in my madness.  Nail art is a bit part of a Nail Technicians job and I find that many of the tricks and techniques I use as an artist – especially airbrush – can transfer to nail art.


The only thing that changes is the canvas size.  I am currently working on a series of Nail art workshops using freehand and airbrushed techniques as well as embedding elements within the gel and acrylic of the nails as they are created.  Look out for the launch dates in early 2017.

See you soon


The Versatile Artist

Not just a wildlife artist…

…this girl is a published wildlife artist, a teacher, a writer, a proof reader, a marketeer…

OK so I’m in danger of sounding like a well-known knicker retailer 😉 , but I guess what I’m saying is that as an artist or anyone working for yourself you have to be versatile.

The Versatile Artist.

I am no longer simply a Wildlife Artist, I write teaching notes and workshop outlines to make my job as a teacher of airbrush and pastel techniques a little easier. I design the workshop structures and create adverts to market them as well as coding the website that handles the bookings…not to mention doing the catering for the workshops.

…and if I’m luck I get to paint too

Versatile Artist - advert
Latest advert for the Artist magazine

This recent advert for The Artist magazine will feature regularly from the May issue, so I spent last weekend choosing which image to use and then deciding on the colour scheme as well as the content and layout that best describes what I’m offering.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not moaning,  just an observing the skills that you have to develop on your journey to success; you have to be so multi-faceted.  Good job I love doing it.

Anyway, at the end of last year I think I mentioned that I was writing an article for Airbrush magazine.  They are based in Germany, but publish an English speaking version too.  Just as well because sadly my cat probably speaks German better than me.

I got the messing with paint gene, not the language one lol

Lynx and Hawker- The Versatile Artist
Lynx and Hawker The Versatile Artist

So I’m very excited right now because I just got the proof of the article sent to me and it will be published in the German version of the mag in March!

This cover gives you a little teaser, in German, but the English version should be available shortly afterwards.

This is quite a large step by step article that charts the progress of my Lynx and Hawker piece in airbrushed acrylics.  The article is choc full of tips and techniques for getting the colours and the textures just right, so if you want to see how I tackle wildlife with an airbrush you might like to pick up a copy.

I’ll post a link to where you can find a copy in a future blog, so watch this space.

Creating a Step by Step article

Describing what you do step by step sometimes comes hard to an artist.  How many times have you sat down to start a piece and 7 hours later realised that just maybe the rest of the family may want dinner at some point?

So stopping and starting to write down just what you are doing to achieve a particular texture or effect can disturb the flow somewhat.

Get out the camera

I learned a long time ago to photograph my pieces as I go.  It’s easier than stopping to write and the images can be used for lots of things:

  • Marketing on social media
  • Creating teaching notes
  • Magazine articles
  • Adverts
  • Great memoir to accompany a commission

You don’t need anything too fancy either if you plan to upload shots to the web – your phone will do nicely if you are going to publish images online.

For printed materials, then a bit more finesse is required.  The images need to be detailed enough for print quality.  Lucky for me I have a professional photographer in the shape of my lovely husband John. So the promise of a bakewell tart is all I need to secure some professional images lol.

There are times too when you need both hands on the drawing, so a second person is needed to take the shot.

Since I can’t show the Lynx and Hawer piece yet, I added a piece I did earlier of a beautiful kingfisher. Click the images to see a larger view.

A great set of images like this can then prompt you to explain some of the techniques as you review them later with a cup of coffee.

Anyway hope you enjoyed the ramblings of the versatile artist 😉

See you soon

Jilly x



Competition Artwork

Every year I set out to be ready with artwork for the plethora of competitions that seem to all kick off at the beginning of the year. In reality only the advertising kicks off, but its enough to send me scurrying to my easel with a head full of ideas.
….and you guessed it every year I am painting like a maniac to make sure I have new work to show.
So here’s one I’ve just finished…

Tiger in pastel
A beautiful imposing beast of a tiger

I love Tigers, well I love all cats really, but Tigers are so colourful and look so regal.  This is from one of my own reference shots and not only is it a competition piece, but its the subject matter for my latest pastel workshop.

If you like the look of this chap and fancy learning how to re-create his likeness in pastel on velour, there are still workshop spaces available – but only 3 for 4th April.

For other dates click here to check the workshops page on the main website.

Pastels not your thing?….try airbrushing

There are not many courses available in the UK where Wildlife art is taught, so I decided to create my own. It’s not as complex as you might think – like anything, just takes a little practise to get to grips with a new tool.

If you fancy a taster session watch this space, the course outline will be available in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime email me if you are interested.

Next competition piece is under way

So to give you a flavour of what you can do with an airbrush, here’s the start of the next competition piece.  This is sadly not my reference, but was downloaded from the Wildlife Reference  Photos for Artists site – a fab ref library for any artist.

It’s a beautiful shot from the very talented photographer Emanuel Keller.

Anyway progress so far looks like this:

The piece is approx17.5″ x 11″, acrylic on canvas.

I tape the canvas to the drawing board and transfer my sketch using  red graphite paper which is less prone to smudging.

Next I mask the Snow leopard using frisket mask so that I can concentrate on the background without worrying about keeping the main subject clean.

I gradually build up layers of texture and colour to create the rock face.  At this point I’m about ready to leave the rock face and start on the Snow Leopard.

Join me next time for more progress.

Take care



New workshop dates: Pet Portraits in pastel

New Pet Portrait Pastel workshops scheduled!

Beautiful British Blue
Beautiful British Blue

I am now taking bookings for my next Pet Portraits in Pastel 1 day workshop:

  • Saturday 13th June 2015
    9:30 – 4:30
  • Light Lunch included
  • All materials and equipment provided
  • A fab art-packed day
  • Fab price! £95 per person

If you can’t make this date, then check out my other Art Workshop dates

Book early to avoid disappointment

Visit my website to make payment online or contact me directly to learn more

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Here be dragons!

Well they might take  bit of time, ‘cos they’re just drying at the moment!

I have been wanting to do this for ages, ever since I saw this:

Dan Reeder is an absolute master of papier mache and cloth sculpture and rivals even Daenerys Targaryen for some striking dragons and mystical creatures.

So I have started on my little dragon project and all his ‘bits’ have been made and are on my studio windowsill drying out.  This is a perfect project to do while you’re waiting for an oil painting to dry.

The parts don’t look like much at the moment, so I can’t wait until I can start to assemble them:

Lordy! This was a messy job, but great fun and something you could do with the kids.  Took me back too to creating papier mache puppets at school.  Remember that Flour and water glue? Well these days you need latex gloves or you’ll be washing your hands for weeks.

Well that’s it so far.  Have to wait for these bits to dry before I can do any more, but I might just go look at the eyes that I bought 🙂

See you next time

Jilly x

Cheetah in Oils

What a busy Easter weekend we had! Hope yours was as packed.

I started off thinking that I would finally be able to put my website overhaul behind me – yeah that’ll be Friday done, then I can start painting.

So Friday came and I did a little web updating and found a few other bits that I needed to fix before I could move on – then we took John’s mum out to lunch. A little more web weaving after lunch, bit still much to do. In addition to that John noticed that the hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard seemed to be leaking – keep our eye on that then…

So came Saturday and a little more web weaving, but I found that I should also spend a little time on my blog! Oh well – we took John’s dad to lunch this time and had a mooch around a garden centre; maybe Saturday afternoon would see off my web site! Well it didn’t, but it did see an increase in the hot water tank leak. Oh Lord – a plumber and at Easter.

Ever hopeful Sunday came and I found myself searching for html code to create a workshop booking form.  John had a photo shoot, so after he’d marched upstairs with a wrench to wage war on the cylinder, he beetled off to the studio and I was left to my own devices to play with html and cook that new lamb recipe ha ha!

Then it crept up on me like the end of a painting – I was finished!!!!! There was nothing left to do on the Website or my blog WHOO HOO, paint and easel here I come.

So beautiful Easter Monday came and I have had a whole day of painting – bliss! Even the plumber delivering the expected news that we need a new hot water cylinder didn’t dampen my mood (See what I did there? Lol)

Anyway, here is progress so far…

Cheetah from ref by John Tisbury
Support: Cotton canvas
Medium: Griffin Alkyd oils
51cm x 41cm
(20″ x 16″)

All in all a fab Easter weekend. Hope you enjoyed the Cheetah gallery. More in a couple of days.

J x

New Big Cats 1 day Pastel workshop Saturday 30th May 2015

Breaking news!

A beautiful pastel piece using one of my husband's (John) reference images
A beautiful pastel piece using one of my husband’s (John) reference images

I am now taking bookings for my next Big Cat 1 day workshop:

  • Saturday 30th May 2015
    9:30 – 4:30
  • Light Lunch included
  • All materials and equipment provided
  • A fab art-packed day

If you can’t make this date, then check out my other Art Workshop dates

Book early to avoid disappointment

Visit my website to make payment online

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Hey there Georgie girl!

I have spent so much time in hotels recently – away delivering training courses.  Its been fab for catching up with commissions and for building up my wildlife art portfolio.

Anyway, this is Georgie my latest equine commission.  The lighting isn’t spectacular as I was in a hotel room and the images were taken using an iPhone. Lesson learned for next time – take your camera Jilly!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the step by step.

3 Little kittens

This piece was great fun to do, not least of all because I got to spend the morning with a nest of foster kittens.

I got some great shots of them waking up and slowly revving up their little engines for mischief. I was able to select 3 shots that I thought captured some great expressions and decided on a large format pastel on velour.

3 kits 1
Sketched the outline of the piece on to large sheet of velour using 3 of my reference shots







I wanted to try and keep from resting my hand on work that I had already completed so I started from the left and completed each kitten as I progressed

Here I’ve started blocking in colour then adding detail with pencils as I work down the kitten’s body.

Started to work from the left most kitten to minimise rubbing on the pastel work already done
Started to work from the left most kitten to minimise rubbing on the pastel work already done







Here’s a closer look at the first kitten

Blocked in the base colours first , then worked into them with the detail layers
Blocked in the base colours first , then worked into them with the detail layers
For this piece I worked slightly differently and worked the base colours then the details in bands down the body as I progressed
For this piece I worked slightly differently and worked the base colours then the details in bands down the body as I progressed











I love his expression.  He was watching his foster mum as she got his breakfast ready and he was so patient.

So this is the first kitten almost complete
So this is the first kitten almost complete

You can see from his dishevelled fur that he had just woken up.

So now I can start on the second kitten

Starting on the second kitten
Starting on the second kitten






Again I use the same technique of blocking in base colours with soft stick pastels, then working into the underlayer with layers of cross hatched fur.  The important thing here is to always work in the direction of the fur growth.

Second kitten completed
Second kitten completed

Finally its the turn of the little yawning kitten who looks like she’s singing for her breakfast.

This was a great little project to do and when you start piecing together a bunch of reference images there are so many possibilities.


Here’s the finished piece.


Lastly a couple of shots showing the head detail for the second kitten and a little cameo piece that I isolated using Photodhop from the final print shot of the piece.

Head detail for the second kitten
Head detail for the second kitten
First kitten isolated in photoshop to make a great little cameo
First kitten isolated in photoshop to make a great little cameo