Easter Animal Magic

March 29 2017
Animal Magic Blog by Jamie Poole

Charles Cruft - Dog Cake Maker.

So, one thing I didn't realise about the Crufts Dog Show, is how long it has been running for. Apparently, the first show took place way back in 1891, at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, London. (Now the Business Design Centre).

Rather than join the family jewellery business, Charles Cruft went to work for a man called James Spratt who had started a venture selling 'Dog Cakes'. This led him to travel to Europe as a salesman before being asked to organise the promotion of the canine section of the Paris Exhibition.

In March, we went to the show for the first time, as we are now enthusiastic dog owners and wanted to see the professionals in action. The dog agility competition was one of the highlights. It was amazing to see the dogs zoom around the obstacle course. The fun though was seeing if the dogs would make it without making any mistakes. 

Sometimes, things can go really wrong! Check out the video below....

Easter Animal Magic

This month, I decided it was time to work on a new series of paintings based on animals. They seem to feature in a lot of my paintings recently, so I thought it would be fun to get a bit closer to these lovely creatures. 

Inspired by the Easter story (not fluffy bunnies), I chose to make three paintings. Firstly, the donkey Jesus rode when he  arrived into Jerusalem as king, the rooster that crowed when Peter denied Jesus and then a spring lamb, or lamb of God.

Energy, Brushstrokes and Text

I have recently been inspired by the artist Mark Hearld, who has also made lots of great collage paintings of animals and birds. They have so much energy and spontaneity to them that I decided push my own work a bit further, in this series. 

Using ink and various mark making tools I created large sheets of brushstrokes, and patterns which I then photographed. I collected patterns that could also be combined with the words and used in these artworks. Photoshop was used to blend the patterns and mark making with the words.

This is a Happy Donkey!

One aspect of these paintings that I have enjoyed the most was adding expression to the animals features to give them a happy countenance. In the painting below I emphasised the eyes and mouth to make the donkey (Benjamin) look even more cheerful. The lamb and rooster have been given the same treatment too. When I paint our dog and other animals I will be looking to give them character in this way!

Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem as King by Jamie Poole
Gift cards and Prints

Well, it will soon be Easter again! So if you are looking for a gift or a greetings card you might like to visit my shop ! I have turned these artworks into both gift cards and limited edition prints.

For a discount on everything in my shop over Easter please use this code at the checkout.


Immediately a Rooster Crowed

Competition Draw.

Win a print of your choice this month!

Send the answer to the following question along with your name to:  .

What is the name of the dog that won Crufts Best in Show 2017?

The winner will be announced on this blog Easter Monday.

Have a great Easter!

I decided to give out 3 prints for this competition!

Congratulations to :
Lena Mayes
Charlotte Basson
Judith Hart


Please visit my shop,  and then email me at
 to let me know which print you would like as your prize.

A City of Wonder - Florence!

March 03 2017
Florence Italy, cultural trip of the year!

Florence - Too much to see in one visit!

This February, we left cold, rainy and dark old England and took a flight over to Pisa in Italy for our transfer to the medieval city of Florence. Arriving, was like a breath of fresh air, the sun was shining, it was warmer  and suddenly we were in the narrow stone streets of the old medieval city.

At every turn was another beautiful building or architectural detail, I could spend hours drawing on any street corner. Honestly, I don't know where to start when talking about all the things I saw on our short visit. An obvious one is the "Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers" or as it is famously known the 'Duomo'. It is absolutely breathtaking in both size and beauty. Started in 1296 by  Arnolfo di Cambio in the Gothic style, and completed in 1436 by Filippo Brunelleschi, who engineered the dome.
Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, is the third largest church in the world.

Uffizi Art Gallery

The other wonders we saw included the Uffizi Art gallery with its overwhelming collection including works from Botticelli, Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio. If you just visited this, you would need a few days or more to absorb it all. But we also saw the original David sculpture by Michelangelo at the  "Gallery of the Academy of Florence" as well as the view from the top of the bell tower known as 'Giotto’s Campanile'.
Vasari Corridor at the Uffizi art Gallery Florence

Magnificent Mosaics

One of the many highlights for me on this trip was the Baptistery of St John. This octagonal building is one of the oldest in the city and was completed in 1128. However, it is also believed to have been the site of a Roman temple to the god, Mars. 

It was the golden mosaic ceiling that really captured my imagination, made by unknown Venetian craftsman it depicts stories from the Bible including the Last Judgement and the Book of Genesis.  I really liked the idea that the ceiling would have reflected the ripples from the water in the baptism pool.

Below is my photograph showing the whole ceiling. The earliest mosaics here, date from around 1225 but the whole of it was probably not completed until the fourteenth century. I can understand why, when I think about how long it takes to put together my own work - and I only collage paper. 

The Baptistery Of St John, mosaic ceiling.

'Tessarae' Cubes make Paintings that Last.

Mosaics go way back in history at least 4.000 years or more and were probably originally made using terracotta cones. Later, different coloured pebbles were used as decoration to create patterns and then the Greeks turned this into an art form by the fourth century BC.  

Manufactured 'tesserae', were then used a few centuries later (200BC), meaning that mosaics could imitate paintings, such as those found in Pompeii (made by Greek artists too). Tessarae, were made from cubes of marble or stone and sometimes pottery, terracotta or even brick. 

Baptistery Mosaic, detail.

Pietra Dura

So, having visited the amazing Baptistery and being showered from above with images emblazoned with golden mosaic, we then went to the Medici Chapel. If you know anything about Florence you might have heard about how rich the Medici family were. They built this chapel for themselves also as a private mortuary for the family and it is stuffed with amazing art including unbelievable stone marquetry called pietra dura.

Pietra Dura is a decorative, inlay technique using highly polished coloured stones to create images. The stonework is assembled so precisely that contact between each piece is practically invisible. Marbles and semiprecious and even precious stones were used to create these beautiful designs. This technique matured fully in Florence around the sixteenth century. 

When you visit the Medici chapel, the architecture and the famous sculpture draw your attention and this stunning decorative art could be missed. But when I stopped to look and consider the skill and level of craftsmanship it takes to make these artworks, I was in awe.
Pietra Dura , inlaid stone, decorative art. At the Medici Chapel in Florence, Italy
If you get the chance to visit Florence, then I can fully recommend it. But remember that you will need to return, as you will quickly be filled up with the sheer amount there is to see. The weather was also much cooler when we visited (February), and apparently in the summer it is both really busy and super hot.


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