Mark making

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.


Two Black Dogs Art & Photography

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: 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 ūüėČ 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.



Finding balance

Pastel painting of a Tawny Frogmouth.
Pastel painting of a Tawny Frogmouth. His face mirrors my feeling at the moment.

2017¬†was going to be¬†the year¬†to spend more time on my art and and photography, attend a few workshops and¬†make the effort to ‘just do it’. I even ditched the Master of Marketing I had enrolled in at the end of 2016 because I knew I could not commit to study,¬†do the things I love, stay married and work full time.¬†In November I¬†signed up to do an online photography course with David duChemin¬†which I am slowly progressing¬†through and I recently bought The Artist’s Way¬†because I¬†thought it might be beneficial to my creativity (or lack thereof) once the other program finishes. I have also been looking into the idea of selling some of my work through¬†online shopfronts like Printful or Fine Art America¬†and perhaps offering pet portraits.

That, said I find myself keen to¬†improve my physical and our financial health. On my desk are books supporting those idea’s: Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor, Sarah Wilson’s Simplicious and David Gillespie’s Eat Real Food¬†although I know I have no hope of getting hubby to ease¬†up on his favourite sugary beverage, Rum and Coke.

With all of these potential ‘balls in the air’ the following questions have crossed my mind:

  • Am I trying to do too much¬†or is it a case of better managing my time?
  • Can I squeeze more into my weekends and mornings?
  • Is this perfectly normal and others manage it fine, even¬†with children?
  • Am I overthinking it?

The question of moving from¬†full time work to part time isn’t an option at this point hence the interest in online shopfronts and¬†the Barefoot Investor.¬†One day I would love to be able to dedicate more hours¬†to my art and photography than I currently can and possibly make a little money to support my habit. The other¬†things I can’t and won’t give up is Hubby (of course), walks with Bundy and my Sunday mornings at the Animal Welfare League.¬†Spending time at the shelter and giving homeless dogs the love and care that they all deserve feeds my soul and makes me happy.

Unlike my previous posts this post has been more of a brain dump, me trying to get my head together and sharing it with you. No doubt it is going to require more processing, hopefully without experiencing analysis paralysis. Have you experienced something similar? Would love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share your answers to my list of questions.


Swell Festival 2016 – part 2

On my last post I shared some of the sculptures featured in the Swell 2016 Sculpture Festival. As promised, here is a part two of my selection of images.

Modern art in Florence

The historical¬†city of Florence in Italy¬†is famous for being the home of some of the most magnificent¬†renaissance art and architecture in the world. Visitors to the city¬†don’t have to venture into a museum or gallery to view¬†great examples of renaissance art because you are literally surrounded by it in this UNESCO heritage listed city. However, if you like something a little more 21st century,¬†look around¬†and you will see modern art everywhere you walk. When we were in Florence in 2011 I never really noticed any street art, but in 2015 we saw¬†plenty and the artwork¬†varied greatly in style from cartoonish to realistic. This is a¬†small selection of what can be seen¬†as you walk around the city and as¬†you can see, nowhere was off limits with art painted¬†on metal utility boxes as well as on¬†the walls of buildings.

For more examples of street art in Florence as well as information about the artists, check out the Girl in Florence blog post A Guide to Street Artists in Florence.

Scotland here I come!


Edinburgh 1999
Edinburgh 1999

Today I am hopping on a plane and flying to Edinburgh, Scotland. It has only been 6 months since our last big holiday which makes me feel extremely lucky, holidays like this don’t come along very often. The first and last time I was in Scotland it was 1999, and I was on a tour which¬†stopped overnight in Glasgow and Edinburgh. It was short but sweet and the desire to return has never left. Why¬†Scotland now you may ask? The opportunity to join¬†a painting tour with my art teacher Louise Corke and several other artists came up and it was too good to resist, two weeks of painting and drawing¬†in the Scottish countryside,¬†destination Dairsie Castle and Gardenstown.

The tour starts and finishes in Edinburgh so I’ve tacked on a couple of days¬†at the beginning and end of the trip, time to explore and do a day trip to Glencoe via¬†Loch Ness.¬†The group will¬†also be heading to Northumberland to visit the Unison pastel factory and perhaps pick up a few more beautiful colours, such lovely soft pastels and¬†with any luck I’ll be able to bring a box home without them turning to dust. What I am really hoping to get out of this trip is inspiration for my drawing, with the weather always changing (apparently)¬†it should be relatively easy to get photos that I can use for as a reference for my art for at least twelve months.

Blog posts may or may not happen¬†while I’m in Scotland,¬†but you can follow me on instagram, twoblackdogz,¬†because¬†I can guarantee¬†that there will be many, many photos taken ūüôā

Travel theme: Creative

This post is motivated by the latest travel theme challenge on ‘Where’s my backpack‘.

A stunning but simple window display at a florist's in Bologna
A stunning but simple window display at a florist’s in Bologna
Bright and colourful Christmas lights at the markets, Berlin
Bright and colourful Christmas lights at the markets, Berlin
Doorknocker, Bologna
Doorknocker, Bologna
Dogs pee here, street art? Bologna
Street art in Florence
Street art in Florence
Sculpture near Mercato Centrale, Florence
Sculpture near Mercato Centrale, Florence
Wine barrel art at a winery in Tuscany
Wine barrel art at a winery in Tuscany
Autumn vegetables on display, Jardin des Plantes, Paris
Autumn vegetables on display, Jardin des Plantes, Paris
Street artist at work in Rome
Street artist at work in Rome

Azzedine Ala√Įa and the Borghese

The Borghese Gallery, Rome

Poor planning on our last trip to Rome resulted in me being unable to get a ticket to see the Borghese Gallery, I was devastated and vowed that it wouldn’t happen again.¬†After failing to successfully purchase tickets through¬†the Borghese Gallery¬†I decided to pay that little bit extra and get skip the line¬†tickets through Viator. Our entry time was at 9am and we had until 11am to¬†view the entire gallery, at 11am they kicked us all out and the next group of visitors went through. Two hours doesn’t seem like much, we could have easily spent another hour at least in the gallery especially with the addition of garments¬†from the Azzedine¬†Ala√Įa collection being on display.

The ‘no photo’ rule seemed to have been withdrawn from the Borghese, I vaguely recall reading in guidebooks and hearing on travel podcasts that photos were strictly prohibited and cameras would have to be stored in lockers. All around us people were taking photos with iphones, DSLRs and compact cameras and nobody seemed to care. After a few quick shots with my iphone, out came my trusty Nikon DSLR and it didn’t return to its bag until we were in the gallery gift shop.

The¬†Azzedine¬†Ala√Įa gowns on display were stunning, much thought had gone into the location of each gown or group of garments¬†with some looking almost like a ghostly apparition among the sculptures and paintings. In the nineties I loved seeing Azzedine¬†Ala√Įa’s designs on supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and Stephanie Seymour, they wore them so well and the gowns looked like works of art. Moving around the gallery, my eyes flicked from classical sculptures to¬†fashion items and while others¬†crowded around Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne I was taking photos of the nearest design¬†by Azzedine¬†Ala√Įa. This gave me one advantage, by the time I had finished admiring the design most of the group had moved on and I could enjoy the sculptures in relative quiet.

The Borghese Gallery is a most magnificent place to visit, I walked out of there feeling extremely happy and it would have to rate as one of my most enjoyable gallery and/or museum experiences. The restricted number of visitors at any one time certainly enhances the experience, having been to the Vatican Museum where numbers do not appear to be limited and large tour groups crowd the halls and stairwells, I much prefer having to book in advance for a nominated time slot.