On the Easel
I've just announced that shipping to the UK is suspended whilst I sort out tax, VAT and duty implications following the end of the Withdrawal Period for Brexit. I will now have to apply VAT to my paintings in order to comply with tax regulations and also to factor in import duty to my pricing. At this stage I am not VAT registered so until I can find a way forward I have no option but to suspend sales to the UK. What I hadn't realised until a fellow artist pointed it out this morning was that I also have to pay VAT on any paintings I import to the UK for exhibitions and competitions! Although I can claim back if the paintings are unsold, this represents a significant outgoing for a small business. Please contact me anyway if you would like to commission me or to buy a painting. Hopefully it won't take too long for me to sort out.
I'm finding it hard to work in the cold weather as my Renauds kicks in if I sit still for too long, even with the log burner going at full blast. I am putting together a tutorial gto be delivered via Zoom of thsi portrait of my puppy, Ben. It's in coloured pencil on A4ish Pastelmat. The tutorial will run in February on three dates not yet decided but if you fancy joining in please contact me for details.
I've been working on some more portraits in pastel and I'm hoping to find some time for some still life paintings. Although we are still quite restricted here in France and our lockdown continues until at least 15th December there is always plenty to do at home. I have four wildlife cameras in the forest and compile a weekly "Life in the Forest" video for my YouTube channel (Gill Barratt) plus there is a very big vegetable garden that always needs some attention, even in the winter. Plus Buster and Ben need a lot of exercise! Anyway, here is my latest portrait, my niece, Izzy.
I've been taking advantage of lockdown to participate in some online Zoom courses with the lovely Mary Greenacre to hone my art skills and to learn new ones. I've been getting intio human portraiture and have done a few in oils now but fancied having a go at portraits in pastels, a medium I haven't used before. Ther brief was to draw characterful faces, so I chose some photos of my mum taken on her 80th birthday, ten years ago. Sadly she is no longer with us and I can't share these with her. I think I'm in love with pastels! So much quicker than coloured pencils and very messy! I thought I'd finished the second portrait of my mum then I spotted a dark blue fingerprint in her hair. I am by nature messy so pastels are right up my street. Here are my two latest portraits "Contemplation #1 - Mum at 80" and "Contemplation #2 - Mum at 80". I hope you like them?
Well we're still in lockdown here and waiting till tomorrow night to find out what happens next. For me life in lockdown is not disimilar to normal life but I miss going to the coast and walking with the dogs. We are not allowed to dog walk more than 1km from home, and whilst I am grateful that I live in the forest so that within 1km I have really beautiful walks, it would be nice to see the sea. I haven't been idle! I finished this gorgeous trio, Bas, Hobbes and Olive in coloured pencil and hopefully will frame it this week. This is A2 so is very big and has taken me ages, but I'm very pleased with the outcome. You can commission me to draw your dogs, cats, horses ... have a look at the "Pet Portrait" page to get some ideas and get in touch!
The garden has been calling and I've neglected the studio a bit of late, but as France enters her second lockdown I'm back in the studio and working hard on commissions and other stuff that's in my head! I'm currently working on my biggest pencil commission at A2 size. It's three lovely dogs and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. In the meantime, here are some other drawings and paintings I've done recently, starting with "Mike", my brother-in-law. This is oil on gallery canvas so it won't need framing.
I taught some coloured pencil sessions on Zoom this summer and these were the demonstration pieces I did. I'm really enjoying still life drawing / painting and in fact I bought a jug this morning specifically so that I can use it in a still life! I was going to work through the tomato drawing bit by bit over the three week course but I got so engrossed in it I finished it before the course started. Fortunately I remembered to photograph the steps so all was not lost. I'm really pleased with the Bramley drawing which is coloured pencils over white pastel on black card. It's very simple but for me that works, it doesn't need to be any more complicated. It looks particularly effective with the black background.
I've been painting walls and doors, winter time jobs that didn't get done in the winter because I was in the studio so much. In between all of that I've completed a portrait of my nephew, Jim and I'm on my way with the next portrait I've been asked to do. Anyway, here's Jim!
I've been cracking on with some cat and dog commissions in the past month, none that I can share yet, and I've also been doing some workshops to learn some new techniques. I love animals and given the choice always choose animals to draw, but recently my friend Mary Greenacre, a very talented portrait artist has been running workshops in human portraiture via Zoom. I joined in and have discovered a love for human portraiture! I started with a self portrait which has been much panned by my friends for my expression, but I argued that I needed to concentrate, hence the miserable look! I then learned how to use gold leaf guilding for background work and put this into practice with a portrait of my niece, Megan. I'm currently doing some botanicals in oils again with a gold leaf background. Anyway, here is my self portrait but first, Megan!
I'm sorry I haven't updated since February! I've been so busy. I've been diving in the Socorro islands (600kms off the coast of Mexico) and taking advantage of the beautiful weather to crack on with planting and tending the veggie beds. I've also been spending time in the studio working in various media doing commissions and artwork for pleasure. Here in France I'm part of an art group where we have daily and weekly challenges, and whilst I don't do all of them (I just don't have time) sometimes one grabs my imagination and I'm compelled to do it. Here is a selection of what I've been up to since February ...
This is titled "Orange Tea" and is oil on canvas measuring 16" x 12". It is my response to the challenge to create a focal point using colour. It's available in the "Still Life" area of my shop.
This "Blue Jug" was my first attempt at creating a focal point using colour. This is created using a mixture of coloured pencils - Derwent Inktense, Lightfast and Coloursoft plus some Luminance and Polychromos on A3 Cansonm Aquarelle paper. The Inktense adds a real sense of depth to the blue of the jug. Again this is in the still life section of my shop.
I'm still working hard on commissions, quite a few of which I can't share yet, but here is one I can! "Maggie" was drawn from a very old photograph and it required a bit of work to be able to see her features clearly. The work was worth it as I am really pleased with the way this one turned out. Each commission takes around 16 - 20 hours and involves many layers of colour before the final layer is applied. I sometimes use a Slice knife to draw whiskers and fine detail, other times a Tombow eraser or coloured pencil, depending on the surface I'm working on. To commission your own pet portrait, please contact me.
Some good news! "Autumn's Bounty" has been selected for a runner up award in the Derwent Procolour Competition. A big "thank you" to all at Derwent, I'm very pleased! This is still for sale, please contact me if you would like to buy this drawing.
I don't only take commissions for animals! I can draw or paint your house, please contact me to discuss what you would like me to do. This is mine ...
A round of pet portraits wouldn't be complete for me unless I did one of my own dog, Buster. I still have some commissions to complete but the Christmas pressure is off now and I am working on those ordered for 2020. I can't show those yet even though I'm itching to do so! Have a look at the "Pet Portrait" page to commission me to do a portrait of your pet ...
Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas or solstice or whatever you do to celebrate at this time of year was fun. For me it's a time to reflect on what I have or haven't achieved in the past year and to set my intentions for the coming year. This year I intend to spend even more time in nature and I hope this will be reflected in my work. The run up to Christmas is generally a busy one with commissions for pet portraits to be fulfilled and this Christmas was my busiest yet. Thank you! Here are a selection of the commissions I completed for Christmas, mainly in coloured pencil but one was an oil commission. Please have a look at the "Pet Portrait" page for all the information you need to commission your own portrait.
Here is "Poppy". I visited her home to photograph her. Sometimes this is the much easiest approach because I can take photos I know will make good portraits and between us we choose the best one. It's important to capture the essence of your pet and to do that it's essential to have light contrast and to be able to see the eyes, which brings me on to "Freddie" ...
This is "Freddie" ... I think the one eyed approach made for a lovely portrait. When his fur was pulled back to show his eyes he no longer looked like Freddie. Freddie came to the studio to be photographed ads he is notoriously camera averse.
And "Brodie" who was painted in oils on gallery canvas which has no need for framing.
Sadly "Sonny" is no longer with us but his family were very pleased with this portrait which was well received on Christmas Day! My commissioner said "It's just lioke having him back with us". That makes me happy.
And here is "Lucy", a very sweet dog we see quite a bit of. She gets on well with my dog Buster and always joins us for an afternoon walk when she's here.
"Sonic" is no longer with us and this portrait is a lovely way for him to be remembered. It's so nice to receive a photo of the portrait once it's been framed. All of my portraits (unless specified) are sent out mounted, backed and wrapped in a celophane wrapper for protection (all of which are able to be recycled!) and most are suitable for standard frame sizes. I think that having spent the money having a professional portrait done it makes sense if you can afford it to have it professionally framed. This looks lovely!
Here in France I spend some time foraging every afternoon when I walk Buster in the forest. Timothee and Hyacinth, my French builders taught me how to identify several mushrooms and now is the time to collect sweet chestnuts. I eat a lot of these usually roast with squash in nut loaves, so this year so far I've collected and vacuum packed about four kilos. Mother Nature is extremely generous and there is much edible wild food to be gathered in autumn. This drawing is called "Nature's Bounty" and is mainly Derwent Procolour pencils on Daler Rowney A3 light brown pastel paper. It's available for sale as either the original or a print via the "Still Life" section of my shop.
I have a lot of commissions right now which is great, but sometimes you just want to do something for yourself. I saw this image on Pixabay (an internet site that hosts loads of free images you can use without accreditation) and really wanted to draw it. Voila! I ran a competition to name the image via my Facebook page (The Art of Backyard Bunnies) and the winning entry was "Bottoms Up!". So, I give you "Bottoms Up!". The original has sold but I have greetings cards and prints available, just ask.
Yesterday I "rewarded" myself for working hard in the garden by spending a couple of hours in the studio doing a picture I really wanted to do. I'm really pleased with the result and this drawing has already sold (cards and prints are available, just ask!). This is coloured pencils (mainly Derwent and FC Polychromos) on "Paint On" light grey paper.
I'm working hard catching up with my commissions. It really helps when I'm supplied with good photographs to work from - if it's possible I'll invite sitters here or I'll come to you to take a series of digital photos but that's not always possible. If you are thinking of commissioning a portrait it's worth getting the very best photos you can to ensure that you are really pleased with the result. I was supplied with a number of great individual photos for this commission so I was able to put the two cats together. This is in coloured pencil, mainly Derwent Lightfast and Coloursoft but also FC Polychromos, the paper used is light grey Pastelmat.
I tried to get a good photo of this highland cow but found it incredibly difficult to do so until it was framed. The frame really shows off the background colour which in turn makes the cow stand out. I hope you like it!
I am so enjoying being in my new studio, it's a lovely space and the light is fantastic. I've been catching up on my commissions (I can't show you yet) and doing coursework plus learning new techniques. Here are my two recent favourites ... a piece of coursework which shows the leftovers after "we" fitted my reclaimed spiral staircase, and a rabbit drawn in coloured pencils but relying heavily on my new slice knife. This is a new technique for me and one I'm enjoying learning.
I'm so sorry it's been such a long time since I updated the website but I've been busy with my move, painting ceilings and walls and finally, finally getting my own studio! It's still a mess as I'm waiting for Yves the plumber to plumb in the sink, but it's almost there! I haven't been able to paint since I moved because of the dust and dirt of the building project but I have been doing some coloured pencil work, some commissions and some work for a course I'm following. Here's one of my favourites, a still life of a red pepper and a banana which demonstrates my love of colour! I'm very tempted to put this in my new kitchern, but I could be persuaded to sell it. Use the contact form if you would like to buy it ...
I love Marmite. Really love it. I get through loads of the stuff, in fact, I think I keep the company afloat. Ahead of my proposed move to France, where Marmite is available in the supermarkets but costs an arm and a leg I thought I'd stock up, so £65.00 later I thought I might have enough to last a week or so. The phrase "Marmart" came into my head and I had to exorcise it. Two of my passions in one phrase! This painting is something completely different for me in that it's not an animal (!), it's done in acrylics and for the first time on my own I used Elichem 1-2-1 resin to cover the painting. It's a nervewracking moment when you pour chemicals all over your finished painting but it was worth it, I'm really pleased with the outcome.
Thanks once again to Jeff Acreman for allowing me the use of his superb wildlife photographs, he is a very talented photographer. This is oil on canvas and measures 15" x 18" and it's available in the original painting section of the shop. It's called simply "Buzzard". It's framed in a plain black frame which complements the painting well.
I've been pretty busy on a number of fronts including completing commissions and painting for pleasure. I've spent quite a bit of time in France. I took my coloured pencils with me and had a great time sketching with them. I really enjoy using pencils, especially for drawing animals ands I've completed a number of commissions using this medium. Here are a couple of sketches from my time in France, "Sunday Morning Hare" and "Manu's Tracteur", which has already sold.
I've been busy painting most days at Haslemere Museum but have mainly been working on commissions which I can't show you just yet. Today though I painted this, which is something newish for me. The idea was in my head but I wasn't too sure how best to translate the image in my head onto canvas. I painted the canvas and played with adding and removing paint using my favourite palette knife but it wasn't working for me, sometimes it goes like that. I decided to use some tools I bought from Wilkinsons for about tuppence, and suddenly it started to work. I'm really pleased with the final outcome which I've called "Autumn on Longmoor" after the area where Buster and I walk every day. It's oil on canvas and measures 15" x 8" and it will be sold framed. It will appear in the Landscape section of my shop but if you can't wait. please contact me.
My exhibition is well underway at Haslemere Museum, High Street, Haslemere, Surrey. I'm really pleased with the display and I think anyone visiting will find it colourful and eclectic. I also have my tapestry kits and some cards and canvases on sale - I'm there most days and it would be great to see you there. Some days I'm painting and other days I'm working on my new tapestry design, I'm always happy to stop and chat though!
The tapestry kits are in stock. Early orders are being sent out now, please order in good time for Christmas!
Yay!! The tapestry kits are almost ready! You can see pictures in the shop section under a brand new category, strangely entitled "Tapestry Kits"! The kits will be ready for the beginning of December but you can pre-order now if you don't want to wait! I have been working really hard on these kits and there are a few more in the pipeline but now I'm going to concentrate on some commissions I have for Christmas. I have also taken a trip to see the progress on my new studio which is currently being built. I am really looking forward to moving in there and settling in, the light is fantastic and I will have a lot more space to spread out and also to display more of my work. I'm hoping to host some "Open Studios" so watch this space if you either live in, or are visiting Brittany!
I have been obsessing about skies all summer and I now have 50 million photos of skies from both Brittany and here in Hampshire to incorporate into my future paintings. Here is the first, entitled "Coucher du Soleil, Bretagne". It's oil on canvas and it measures 24" x 20". I really love colour and the contrast between the reds, yellows and deep blues excites me! This painting only has three colours in it, phthalo blue, cadmium red and cadmium yellow. It can be found in the "Landscape" section of my shop, or please contact me for more details. I can reproduce this painting as a print, either on art paper, mounted and backed or on canvas.
This painting has been in the pipeline for a while and this week I felt compelled to put it on canvas. Sometimes it goes like that, one minute I'm happily doing something then I am drawn into the studio and I don't move till I've finished. This painting was the product of such a compulsion! It's called "Tuscan Landscape II" and although it has sold, prints are available through the "Landscapes" section of my shop, or contact me for details.
This takes me back to a year ago when I celebrated my retirement from my paid employment with a few diving trips. I guess a highlight for any diver is a trip to the Galapagos Islands, 1000 kms off the coast of Ecuador and an absolute haven for some amazing wildlife. The diving was spectacular ... hammerhead, silky, galapagos and white tip sharks, sealions, turtles and eagle rays to name just a few of the critters we dived with. It was also probably the only time I will ever dive with a penguin! After the diving I stayed on and saw the land based wildlife - almost as good as the underwater stuff. This painting comes from that time. I think it's pretty self explanatory. It's called "The End of a Perfect Day" and it's in the "Landscape" section of my shop.
Here is another idea I've had for a while and have just found time to paint. I like working in monotone, I think it challenges me more than using colour, and lets me use loads of Payne's Grey which is one of my favourite colours. I've called this "Sunday Morning ..." It's oil on canvas and it measures 24" x 18". Check out the "portraits" section of my shop. This will be exhibited at Haslemere Educational Museum in December.
I've been really busy of late and although I have a lot of ideas in my head and sketches ready to be painted, I've been struggling for time. I am focussing on getting exhibition ready for December, so I'm turning some of those ideas into canvasses. The original photograph for the following canvas was taken by Stephen Tavener, a talented wildlife photographer and old schoolfriend, and the image is used with his consent. I've called this "One Swallow ..." and it's oil on canvas, measuring 18" x 36". Have a look in the "Wildlife" section of the shop for the original or it can be reproduced on canvas, paper or as a greetings card.
I've been a bit quiet recently, mainly because I have been preparing for my exhibition at Haslemere Educational Museum in Surrey. I will have a full exhibition at the museum in December 2017 with my friend Rob Jenkinson, so now I need to work towards that. I have been a bit distracted of late by my new passion, which is designing needlepoint! I'll show some here at a later date. In the meantime I thought I'd share this pet portrait which I was commissioned to do as a birthday present for Marta's owner in Austria. Have a look at the "Pet Portrait" section of this website for details about how to commission your own pet portrait.
I went into the studio with the intention of painting an owl. I had carefully planned and considered what I was going to do ... then I painted these two foxes! I came across a reference photgraph I admired some time ago and before I knew it I had sketched it out and had requested permission from the photographer Jeff Acreman to use the image. He agreed and the owl became two foxes. This is called "Brothers" and is available in the shop in the "Wildlife" category of original paintings.
I can't help painting portraits of this handsome devil. There are so many things I should be doing, but the pull to paint him is stronger. This is oil on canvas and it measures 24" x 24". This is not for sale but you can commission me to paint you favourite animal. Please see the "Pet Potrait" page for details.
I've had this painting in mind to do ever since I took the photo about 10 years ago. I love the colourful French markets which seem to sell 50 thousand different varieties of the same vegetable, each one looking, smelling and tasting different to the others. I started painting this by layering the oil paint, building up the colour slowly, but then my usual desperate need to finish took over and the paint suddenly became thicker with the texture of the garlic bulbs enhanced by the contours of the paint I was applying ... I just can't help myself! Still, the palette knife stayed in it's tin, so I did apply some discipline! This is oil on canvas and it measures 30cms x 100cms. It is framed in a simple black wooden frame and comes ready to hang. It's in the "Landscapes" section of my shop, and it's called "The Garlic Seller, Guingamp Market".
I've spent a bit of time in France thoughout December and January and I've added a few new paintings to the "Landscape" section of the shop, all inspired by my time in beautiful Brittany. Have a look at "Home to Roost" and "Homeward Bound" to see the latest chapters of my crow obsession! One lovely sunny but cold January afternoon Buster and I went for a walk with my good friend Jacky and her two dogs. We ended up following the Circuit des Chaire de la Druids (Circuit of the Druids Pulpit) for 13 kms ... it was well worth it though, the countryside was stunning in the sunshine and we lingered just outside Mael Pestivien at the lovely Chapelle Saint-Isidore. This is oil on canvas and measures 18" x 14" and is offered for sale in my shop, please take a look.
I find it easier to paint in the winterish months when the days are shorter and there is less of a pull to be outside all day. Plus the new puppy is fooled into thinking it's bedtime by the early onset of darkness. I am his personal assistant, at his beck and call to play / feed / poop pick (delete as necessary). Here he is, looking as if butter wouldn't melt. Don't be fooled. This is oil on canvas and measures 24" x 24". It isn't for sale but if it gives you an idea for a portrait of your own pet, please have a look at the "Pet Portrait" page and contact me to discuss your ideas.
November 2016 ...
"The Chord" is a follow on from "The Piper" ... I really like these two paintings for their apparent simplicity when in fact they are quite comlex and difficult to paint. The guitar strings were particularly difficult as I was trying to get the strings straight whilst fending off a puppy who wanted to play with the paint brushes. This is in the portrait section of the original paintings in the shop. It's oil on canvas 15" x 10" and I can reproduce it as a print on canvas or on art paper, mounted and backed to just about any size you would like. Please contact me for details.
October 2016 ...
A neglected church and churchyard with the gravestones barely visible through the long grass ... the poppies were borne out of the thought "Lest we Forget". I struggled with this at the outset because I didn't like the base layer I put on the canvas in July, so I set it aside. I have another church I want to paint but had run out of canvas stretcher bars which I needed to make the new canvas, so I went back to this painting. I'm really pleased with the outcome. This is called "Resting" and is available in the "Landscape" section of "Original Paintings" in the shop.
This painting is another indulgence for me of my love of colour. This was inspired by my friend's son exploring the beach in Cornwall as the sun set and night drew in. This could be the end of a perfect day. This is in the "Landscape" section of "Original Paintings" and is available as a print, canvas or the original oil on canvas. It measures 24" x 12".
"The Piper" has been in my head for a while and I sketched it on canvas and did the preliminary sketch in oils a few days ago but other things kept getting in the way! Yesterday it was raining and definately an indoors day, so I settled down to crack on with this, and I'm really glad I did because I am very pleased with the outcome. It's painted mainly in Payne's Grey, it's oil on canvas and it measures 14" x 10". You can find it in the "Portraits" section of "Original Paintings" in the shop.
I've been very busy bolstering my portfolio with the flower series of paintings. I've been enjoying painting these because I love the colours and because they give me a lift when I look at them. I have two hanging in my house as I type! However, my latest painting is that of the Mairie in Mael-Pestivien, my home from home in Brittany. I love Brittany for it's stunning coastlines, beautiful countryside and warm people. I've been visiting Mael for about 20 years and I love my time there. This painting is oil on canvas and it measures 24" x 14". It is featured under "Landscapes" in the "Original Paintings" section of my shop.
I used my imagination for this one! It's called "Summer's Day"! It is acrylic on canvas and it measures 40 cms x 40 cms (16" x 16") unframed, however it's on wraparound canvas so it doesn't really need framing. It's another of those lovely bright paintings that lifts my soul! Prints are available, contact me for the size you require. Greetings cards are also available. The original is for sale on the "original paintings" page.
This one is called "Poppies". I spent a weekend in Germany in a rural area just outside Hagen. The verges of the fields were full of poppies interspersed amongst the grasses and weeds. I love poppies at the best of times for their striking colours and their graceful air. Sadly they never last long. This is acrylic on canvas and it measures 8" x 8". Prints and cards are available, the original has sold.
"Rape Fields, Brittany" was inspired by the sight of the rape fields early one morning as I drove home from my friend's house in Plougonver to my cottage in Mael Pestivien. I love colour and the stunning yellows cried out to be painted. This is oil and acrylic on canvas and it measures 24" x 12.5". The original has sold, but prints are available in different sizes, contact me for details.
Owls feature quite heavily for me at the moment. I live in an are surrounded by forest and they are a constant noisy neighbour. In flight they are magnificent; elegant, noiseless and graceful. Unless you are a mouse, then they are sneaky whatsits. This is oil and acrylic on wood and it measures about 7" X 5 1/2". It was completed in February 2016.
This painting is inspired by my shamanic work. It depicts the animal spirits answering the call of the drum. This painting started life as a very different image of a group of women seated round a pair of boxing hares, but it became clear to me that it should change and I was drawn to the image of the Barn Owl. The stag always features for me! This is oil on canvas and it is big - it measures 50" x 40".
This is a group of the happiest children I have ever met! They were in Tivoli Gardens in Jamaica and it's fair to say that they had very little by way of material possessions but just buckets full of fun and laughter. They were completely taken by the digital camera and we spent ages taking their photos and showing them on the screen. The painting is oil on canvas, measuring 24" x 14" and is gallery wrapped on 38mm deep box canvas. It is available on the "original paintings" page of the shop section for £250.00. Prints and canvases are also available, please contact me for details.
"Drumming the Stag" was completed in October 2015. The original has sold, but you could order this as a greetings card or on any size of canvas. This is painted using a palette knife for the majority of the background and is oil on canvas. The original measured 14" x 14" and was presented on 38mm deep canvas.
This painting was inspired by a dive trip to the Red Sea. The fish are amazing and the wrecks, corals and colours are fantastic. This one is called "Fish!"
The Fusileer fish gather in huge shoals under and around the dive boat and hang about wrecks in great numbers. They might not be the most spectacular fish in the sea, but I like them!
This handsome fellow is Roy, my Black Orpington cockerel. He lives with some pure breed Light Sussex hens, and the offspring are stunning. The girls are pure black with a gorgeous sheen on their feathers. The boys are black with white feathers around the neck. Because of the size of both the Orpingtons and the Light Sussex the offspring are big birds. Beautiful! "Roy" is sold but canvasses and prints are available.
This Tuscan Landscape is one of my latest works ... Completed January 2015. It's a break for me from animals - this is my first landscape for a very long time. For me it's all about the colour; I love colour and I like a painting that lifts me, and I think this does that. This is oil on canvas and it measures 2' x 14". The original has sold but canvasses are available in any size, just message me for details.