I started writing this blog about 12 years ago, it was my way of sharing stories and images of the travels Hubby and I were planning. After a few trips the focus changed and I wrote more about our dogs, volunteering at an animal shelter, my love for photography and art, and life as it was.
It is now 2022 and I haven’t written anything for this blog since early 2019. So much has happened yet in many ways, nothing has changed. I have changed jobs and now work from home for a software company and for a number of reasons (including COVID-19) I took a break from volunteering at the shelter. We no longer have a dog after losing Bundy in October 2021 and a combination of things, including the pandemic, left me feeling overwhelmed and struggling to find joy in the things I love.
Blogging was something I really enjoyed, and I am sure I will find joy in it again one day but for now, it is time to say TTFN.
My primary medium for creating art is to paint or draw with pastels, soft chalk-like chunks or sticks of colour. Pastels are a medium that I have been learning to use well for several years and there is still so much to learn. Lately I have been experimenting with my mark making, a way of adding texture and interest to my artwork. It has been a fun yet challenging process, requiring me to resist falling back on old habits of softening edges, blending clouds and overworking the detail. Colour is also something I have been playing with, some of my paintings have no more than five colours in them but this one definitely features more colour.
The source photo for this painting was taken in the Mt Aspiring National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. Initially it was a crisp and clear Autumn day but the weather soon changed and the clouds set in, bringing the occasional shower of rain making the track towards the Rob Roy glacier slippery and a little nerve wracking at times.
New Zealand, Scotland and animals continue to be a great source of inspiration for me. I will be attempting to do more portraits this year, people portraits that is so stay tuned if you want to see how I progress.
We live near bushland and get a lot of birds visiting our yard, especially when everything is in flower. For some reason, our Poinciana tree is flowering now after a rather lacklustre performance in December and it recently attracted the attention of a male and female pair of King Parrots. We don’t see King Parrots very often and they never stick around for long, but these two love birds preened and napped for about an hour while Hubby washed the car and I invaded their privacy with my zoom lens.
It is easy to tell the difference between an adult male and female, the male has a red head and his colouring is more vibrant. The female has more green, and she kept a watchful eye on me whilst going about her business. It was a real pleasure to see these birds hanging out in our garden, so often that tree is full of less colourful but more vocal crows and noisy miner birds.
So, I finally decided on a business name and some of you have probably already guess what it is after seeing the title of my blog post. Thank you for all of the feedback I received after my earlier post ‘What’s in a name?’ it helped me develop more concrete thoughts about the next steps to take. The name I settled on is ‘Two Black Dogs Art & Photography’ which seemed logical because it has meaning to me, and it builds on my existing ‘brand’ (if you can call it that). I hope that the words ‘art’ and ‘photography’ provide enough information about me and people will explore my website or contact me through social media to get more detail about me and the type of work I do. For those of you reading this post my business focuses on creating pet portraits using the medium of pastels and/or photography. You may be wondering why the word ‘pet’ doesn’t feature in the business name, it is because I also paint landscapes and wildlife, photograph shelter dogs, and on the odd occasion I photograph people.
My website is currently a portfolio, created using the Adobe Portfolio which is free to Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers. At the moment I have no pricing available and no way of booking online, my work comes through requests via email or direct from friends and family. Whilst I have years of management experience, having my own business is new to me and there is a lot to learn so I am taking things slowly while I find my feet. If you would like to see examples of my work, please take a look at my portfolio: https://www.twoblackdogsartandphotography.com.au and let me know what you think.
The logo for Two Black Dogs Art and Photography was partly developed by a graphic designer and I then tweaked the typeface and layout a little to suit the various formats. Thankfully the designer is a friend who accepts gift cards as payment and he was happy for me to adapt the logo to suit, providing me with the source files that made it possible.
This is going to be a steep learning curve for me, I will be trying to find more regular work in the interim as art and photography supplies don’t come cheap plus we have a senior dog to support 😉 If you want to follow my work you can find me on instagram @twoblackdoggiesartandphoto and I will try to share more on this blog, my posts have been rather infrequent these past 12-18 months. On that note I’d like to thank you all for your patience and your support, this blog has been going for about 8 years and I’ve (virtually) met some wonderful people as a result.
After two major health scares in the last 18 months I was worried Bundy might not make it to his 12th birthday (equivalent to approximately 75 years of age in human years). The fabulous news is that he did make it and apart from being hard of hearing and slightly more demanding, he is in great health and still capable of wreaking havoc on all stuffed and squeaky toys.
Happy 12th Birthday Bundy! Sorry, there is no cake (apart from the squeaky cake toy) but I can promise you lots of love, car rides, chicken pieces, squeaky toys, kisses and another year of being smothered with love.
It’s a hot day for a birthday, time to relax in the shade
Ready to party and waiting for me to hand over the presents
November is storm season in Queensland and we’ve had a couple of loud and scary ones but thankfully the worst of them missed our place (touch wood). As a twenty something loving in Newcastle I discovered how much I loved a good storm when staying with family near the beach. From their house I watched in awe as the clouds rolled in and the light changed creating an eery atmosphere before the skies opened and the lightning let loose. It was magic.
There were pockets of storm action Sunday afternoon, mainly to the north of us so we got very little rain and only a few rumbles of thunder. We did however see some amazing cloud formations and fantastic light as we strolled around a local sports field. Bundy could not have cared less about any of it, he was too busy following random scent trails. With only my iPhone at hand I tried to capture the amazing nature of the clouds and light using the Lightoom mobile app and my phone’s native camera app. The images are a little dark, more post-processing required or perhaps there are better apps for capturing these types of scenes on a smartphone.
I’ve spent the last few months debating whether to start a business focused on offering animal lovers a choice of pastel pet portraits and photographic portraits. The business idea is a possible alternative to full-time work or a side hustle that could supplement part-time employment whilst building up a client base. The latter certainly sounds more sensible.
Either way, one decision I have to make is to decide on a business name. Do I use my full name, a variation of my name, expand on the use of Two Black Dogs or even come up with something completely different? Two Black Dogs is my handle on Twitter and Instagram as well as being the title of this blog so I would need to have separate social media accounts regardless of what I decide. In researching existing businesses that focus on either pet photography or pet portraits there appears to be a mix of businesses using the artist’s name and those with names that reflect the genre of their art.
My reason for considering the expansion of the use of Two Black Dogs is the same reason for starting this blog, my black dogs Maxi and Bundy. Their antics, those big, brown eyes and my obsession with them inspired me to do pastel pet portraits, and being a crazy dog mum who volunteers in a shelter gave me a focus for my photography. Whilst the name is meaningful to me I realise it may not be meaningful to potential clients, which is often the argument for not using an individual’s name. It is all doing my head in and that is without even starting the business…what hope do I have?
Halloween is not a huge event in Australia although it’s popularity is growing and if there are children in your neighbourhood you tend to notice it more. We don’t have children, so poor little Bundy bears the brunt of the Halloween costumes on offer at Kmart. This year it was a toss-up between a pumpkin and a glittering red devil costume, however, as a result of my indecision neither made it into the shopping trolley. Fortunately a camera-toting, dog loving friend had underestimated the size of her wolfhound cross when buying a spider costume, and apparently, an XL costume is more suitable for a staffy such as Bundy.
The first photoshoot was conducted in bushland, I thought a natural environment would suit a big, black spider. The messy nature of the background and the floppy legs made it a little harder to see the detail of the costume, and converting images to black and white didn’t seem to help. I then tried photographing Bundy in our backyard with a less cluttered background. At this stage Bundy was pretty much over the costume and I really had to bribe him to do more than stand there and look sullen, as you can see, he still looks sullen but he did cooperate.
More recently I bought a hooded skeleton costume which supposedly glows in the dark. The glow factor of the costume hasn’t been tested, a photoshoot in the dark isn’t something I am prepared for so I am happy to wait until Halloween to see if the costume actually glows. With props in hand and treats in my camera bag, Bundy and I headed off to our bushland setting. Bundy was happy to explore while I stuck fake spider webs on the trees and lit a few candles, thankfully the day was overcast and the rain had dampened the setting minimising any risk of a fire breaking out.
The results aren’t bad although there are a few things I would have done differently:
Sprayed for mosquitoes (huge and vicious things)
Take the time to set the scene up before adding Bundy
Used more candles
Dressed Bundy in a costume that you could easily see from any angle
What do you think? What could I have done differently?
As the weather heats up in Queensland I am reminded of the rainy Autumn days that we spent in Venice in 2015. For the most part, the weather was cold and wet, a high tide was predicted and we could not have been happier. Protected by the covered passage of the Doges Palace we watched a parade of colourful umbrellas and plastic ponchos pass us by.