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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Purrfect pet photography

To create a good pastel portrait, I need some good reference material.

I always draw from photographs for portrait work. Imagine trying to get your pet to sit still for 5 minutes let alone the time it takes for a portrait! Unless we’re talking cats, of course, and you’d like a portrait of them sleeping…

If you are unsure whether the images that you have of your pet will be suitable, simply give me a call. Normally I will ask people to post or email the shots and can then let you know if I can use them.

Here are some photography tips that might help:

Not big enough in the frame

Not big enough in the frame

Much better for a full body shot
Much better for a full body shot

Getting the right distance
Get in as close as you can without chopping off important parts of your subject

You’ll want to balance your subject so he fills the frame well.  Too small and the shot will be all background

The second of these photos fills the frame well and makes for a great full body shot of the animal.  Make sure that you don’t capture too much background so that your subject becomes a tiny dot in one corner.

Too Close
Too Close
Much better head shot
Much better head shot




Close, but not too close

The first of these head shots could be nice if it were in focus and the photographer had pulled back slightly.

The second is a much better image.  Its nicely lit, in focus and show enough detail in the coat and the eyes to make a great portrait.

Blur, blur, blur
Blur, blur, blur







Getting the Focus spot on is key.  If the image is blurry, then the artist has to second guess the detail and the result won’t show any character of your pet.


Now we are at Amber’s level


Not so interesting shot from above
Not so interesting shot from above
This is where your camera may have problems getting the right exposure, often a pop of flash is enough to fill the shadow areas. Stops that black cat in coal bunker look.
This is where your camera may have problems getting the right exposure, often a pop of flash is enough to fill the shadow areas. Stops that black cat in coal bunker look.
Now that the light source is in front we can see much more detail
Now that the light source is in front we can see much more detail


Get down to it

Compare the two images of Amber on the sofa. The first one looks much more interesting because we are down at her level in her world.  the second one however is just a cat asleep on the sofa

When you capture the sharp detail its easier to see expressions and capture nuances that make your pet special.





Lastly, make sure that you have the light source in front of the subject . With the light behind, the image again lacks detail.  This is a particularly key point when you’re photographing black or white animals or animals where the coat is predominantly one colour.

Look at the difference in the black cat images here.

OK well I hope that’s been useful.  Happy snapping!

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

A trip back in time

In the process of updating my website, I’ve been searching through my old step by steps and wanted to share a couple on here that were in my old blog. So for me this is a trip down memory lane, but you might not have seen these before.

OK so here’s the first starring my little helper…

Amber in a bag

She couldn’t help herself when she got into John’s photography studio with all those bags!

Obviously it was rude not to capture this great image of her rummaging through a reflector bag.  Loved the look on her face… “What! You want me to stop chasing this imaginary mouse that I have in this bag?”

This was a little demo piece that I did at a cat show.  Its pastel on velour done with soft pastel sticks for the base coats and blocking in major areas of colour, then Derwent pastel pencils for the next detail layers.  Finally graphite to add the fine guard hairs to Amber’s fur.

Barry’s Trike Panier Boxes

You might recall I’m working on the artwork for my 81 year old next door neighbour’s custom trike…

My current job is the artwork on the panier box lids.  Armed with my updated skills from Marissa’s workshop,  I completed the first box which was a wolf scene and have started on the second box – a mountain lion.  The whole trike has a Native American Indian feel to it, which is why I chose these two animals.

Here’s the step by step. Enjoy!

Marissa Oosterlee wildlife art airbrush workshop

OK, so as I promised here’s how I got on at the Wildlife workshop delivered by Marissa Oosterlee and hosted by Pete Millichamp at Airbrush and Paint in Great Yarmouth.

I had booked this workshop last year, Nov 2013 and had to wait until May 19th 2014. How excited was I when we finally arrived in May 🙂

Although I was getting to grips with my airbrush, I had lots of questions and lots of areas where I was convince my technique could be better.

As a qualified trainer, I know the value of workshops like these.  Sometime even just the one little tip can make it all worthwhile and in this workshop I picked up so much..

Enough waffle – here’s the step by step…

Hope you enjoyed the step by step.  The image is not quite completed, I will eventually get around to adding the very last details with watercolour pencils and maybe darken a couple of areas in the background.

I need to finish the trike paniers that I’m working on first, so hopefully you will see those finished in the next update.

J x

Learning a new medium

So I was hooked on airbrushing after being given the chance to create some artwork on my next door neighbour’s trike.

The question was “was I doing it right?”

So off to see what I could find on the internet about airbrushing technique.

Airbrushtutor.comMy first port of call was  Mitch is as nutty as a fruit cake, but in the nicest possible way 🙂  He has some great downloadable files on the site to help beginners practice getting used to the control of an airbrush.

I quickly realised that my starter kit had done its job and I ought to move up to the next level of quality, so…

Infinity CR+

I moved up to a H & S Infinity CR+.  The difference was amazing, everything worked for a start and my artwork immediately improved.

Meanwhile back at the trike, Barry (neighbour) asked me to do the artwork on the real fuel tank at the back of the trike.

For all of the work including this next part I have been using Createx water based auto paint.

Take a look at the next gallery to see how the real fuel tank turned out.

Hope you enjoyed that.

See you soon with the output from My Marissa Oosterlee workshop.

J x


Updates, updates

It’s a full time job this, updating software, updating the way this blog looks on a mobile device, updating what I’m up to….
…and I’m not exactly the best at doing my updates on this blog 🙁
I’d rather be painting…..

So for years my first love has been pastels and graphite, but now I’ve found a new love – my airbrush!

I have used a cheapy old airbrush for airbrushing sugar flowers (of all things), but always fancied learning to use one for fine art.

sugar flowers














Funny how opportunities arise

It is strange how these things happen, but I’ve always wanted to do some custom work on a bike or car, but never had the bike or the car to do it on.  One day just before Christmas I was taking some artwork an exhibition and my neighbour started chatting about his custom trike that he was building.  (Not that it matters, but Barry, my neighbour, is 81 and still tinkering around with and riding his trike!)

The upshot of the conversation was that Barry wanted a North American Indian themed bike and I could design and paint the artwork for the faux fuel tank!


Both of us were very happy with this first adventure into custom bike artwork.  Barry was so please that he asked me to paint the real fuel tank that sits on the back of the trike.  In the meantime I had booked my Marissa Oosterlee airbrush course to learn how to use my airbrush properly…!

I’ll tell you how it went in the next post.

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