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
Sometimes, things can go really wrong! Check out the video
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
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
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.
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.
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
One of the many highlights for me on this trip was
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.
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.
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 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.
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