Friday, 30 August 2013


This is Hazel, a very happy and energetic 18 month old Border Collie. She loves to round things up; humans, other dogs and anything else that walks, crawls and even flies past! She’s into all sorts of games like Frisbee, catch, tip and fetch (although she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of the bringing it back part yet)! She’s always learning new things and has perfected the handshake and is now working on collecting the paper. She’s a beautiful puppy and attracts a lot of attention wherever she goes – which, of course she never gets sick of!
Ayling family

The lovely Hazel marks half way through my pet portraits challenge. Being thrown into intensive painting for a purpose like this has forced me to figure out many things about the way I work, sit, time manage, rest and not overwhelm my mum with all my crazy ideas! I'm also chipping away at the businessy side of things like setting up a cataloguing system for my work and keeping track of invoices and other things to do with numbers. So it's a busy time but I'm looking forward to seeing where this creative journey takes me.

Thank you again to everyone who has participated in the challenge so far. As there is no obligation to buy your painting I won't send you an invoice unless you let me know you would like to purchase it. Just pop me off an email buy clicking here... Have a great weekend and come back on monday to meet Simba!!

"Linear thinking can take us from A to B but imagination can take us anywhere".
Albert Einstein

Thursday, 29 August 2013


Paddy is a small poodle cross who has been with us for twelve years. He loves his daily walks both in the morning and evening. His favourite summer past time is chasing lizards in the garden and he waits very patiently for them to reappear. Paddy is a great joy to our grand-daughters and usually gets greeted before anyone else. He has been affectionately ‘adopted’ by many residents in our village and welcomes into the house whoever may knock at our door. He has been known to visit various residents for morning treats and in one case used sit by their fridge in passive anticipation. In his later years he has settled well into a retirement lifestyle - walk, rest, forage, rest, walk, eat and sleep but all the time making sure we were still here.

I decided to do Paddy uncropped as the photo wasn't greatly detailed and I think he turned out really cute. I met Paddy a few weeks ago but sadly he has since passed away. Sorry Nancy and Russell, I know he was very dear to you. I hope this painting will stir good memories and make you smile when you see it.

I have to say that a painting a day is quite a challenging pace. There is a movement of Daily Painters (see Daily Paintworks for example) and to be honest I don't know how they keep it up! I think most who post daily, paint 6x6"s and that would make some difference. I'm trying to paint quickly but as true to the photos as possible to catch the personality of each pet. Anyhow, nearly half way there...

Please stay tuned tomorrow for Hazel!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Daisy will be 9 in November. She's a very good natured girl, obedient, loving and especially loves children. She's an extremely gentle dog, doesn't bark and seems to need to help with all the household chores!

Daisy is an adorable dog, maybe it's her ears! I think it turned out to be a happy little painting with the yellow background.

I rearranged the painting space in my room the other day so that the wardrobe mirrors are behind me. It's so helpful to see the painting in reverse because the eyes get tired after a while and can no longer see drawing and value mistakes. Having a quick glance in the mirror is like looking at the painting after a 10 minute break, mistakes leap out at you from everywhere! Note to self: when I move back to my own place set up a mirror behind me.

I went to meet my new local picture framer yesterday to discuss economical framing options for these little paintings. I think we've come up with a good solution which works out about $33. The framer is making me up a prototype which I'll photograph and post on my blog when I pick it up next week, with detailed description so you can ask for the same thing at your own framer if you like the idea. More about that next week. Please come again tomorrow to see Paddy!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


'Our Kooka' is a wild bird that has been visiting us on and off in the Blue Mts over the past eighteen months or so, since around January 2012. She starts to appear on our balcony most mornings for a very tiny portion indeed of organic mince meat and soon gets into a daily routine lasting several months. Then one day, all of a sudden, she flies off never to be seen again, or so we think. Lo and behold, our kookaburra reappears four months later to resume her daily visits for many more months, becoming so familiar with her hosts that she will quite happily sit on the feeder's lap. Sadly for the latter, she has yet again flown the coop, at least for a while.
Marnie A

I was really looking forward to painting Kooka, since I've met her personally on my aunt Marnie's balcony in the Blue Mountains... as it happens, I really struggled to get the background to work. In the photo there were the railings of the balcony to the left and behind but because the light was hitting them quite strongly and Kooka was in shade, they were too distracting. I scraped and repainted them in every non-distracting way I could think of and eventually because time was limited (one pet a day!!) I decided to paint the background without the railings... Tomorrow we have the lovely Daisy!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Ko Ko

Ko Ko is a 5 year old Australian Mist. Very affectionate, he dribbles with joy when being patted. His days are spent lolling in the sun, curled up next to his brother Kossie. His great loves are: having his ears licked clean by my dog, Buddy; licking cattachinos (cappuccino milk froth) off the kitchen bench (!); sitting on the top shelf of the bookcase and flinging books to the floor; and sharpening his claws on any soft furnishings that happen to be handy when the urge comes upon him.

It was fun to paint Ko Ko because we're the best of friends... he always comes running to greet me when I visit Vicki and he won't leave me alone until we've had a full and generous cuddle. I didn't quite finish the Kookaburra today, but will post him tomorrow, stay tuned!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Pet Portraits Challenge update

Greetings! The first week of my Pet Portraits challenge is complete and there are 3 weeks still to go. I'm happy to say the response I've had has been awesome and now I have a pet to paint for each day of the challenge. I'm full up!! Thank you so much to everyone who has sent me photos of their beautiful pets. They are wonderfully various, from tiny to great, furry to feathered!

During this four week challenge there is no obligation to buy your pet portrait but if you would like to, it will be at a reduced price of $100 ($75 for the first 5) including postage. If you decide to buy your portrait it will be ready to ship to you around 2 weeks after it has been posted on the blog. Just let me know if you would like to purchase and I will send you an invoice and ship it off to you as soon as it's varnished and ready to go. If you live close by I might be able to home deliver!

Of course I would still love to paint your pet after the challenge is over. From then on Pet Portraits will be by commission. I will post up sizes and prices in the coming week, as well as my recommendation for an economical way to frame your pet portrait (stay tuned)...

Thank you again for all the positive feedback you have given me, I'm very grateful and feel encouraged to keep painting!!! Until tomorrow...

Friday, 23 August 2013


Jake is a 5 year old Hungarian Vizsla cross who we nickname our Velcro puppy. He loves to lean against people and can't ever seem to get close enough. He loves to play ball on the beach, defend his family from any unknown dangers and takes great joy in finding the sunniest spot in the yard to lie down in - currently my veggie patch!

Painting Jake was quite a challenge for me. When I started planning the painting I realised he's actually in dappled sunlight which had me somewhat confused about what was sunlight (warm) and what was a lighter part of him in shade (cool). I think I got there in the end. Stay tuned for next week's pet portraits, including a kookaburra!!

Thursday, 22 August 2013


Timmy is a playful energetic Lhasa Apso cross who loves people. He is a lively, affectionate and faithful companion who loves to sit beside my chair in the garden. He's a bubbly pooch who has a deep curiosity and love for helicopters...when he hears one overhead he runs outside stands on his back legs with front paws to the air indicating he wants to be lifted up to get a better view. His sporting activities include chasing one particular ball which is falling to bits and chasing the noisy cockatoos flying above the house. Oh yes, and Timmy loves a good ear massage and a warm rub on the back of his neck.

Timmy was great to paint, so much flowing hair! I didn't manage to get a time lapse for various reasons... still I'm happy how this one turned out. Stay tuned tomorrow for Jake!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


This is the late "Cattie" née "Penny" who died on 27 May 2003 at around eighteen years of age, sadly just six weeks after her big move from Darlington in Sydney to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. She was quite the scaredy-cat when first adopted as a mature eight-year-old, or thereabouts, by two equally middle-aged human carers. But her timidity soon diminished and for the next decade she settled in to ruling the roost and a life of leisure in her very own domain. She was always adept at keeping her adoring 'owners' in check when it came to feeding and other matters, such as shedding her black and white fur everywhere she went. Thus in the company of her loving admirers, the rest of her life was spent truly enjoying free range over her three bedroom terrace and luscious, albeit modest, garden.
Marnie A

I needed to paint Cattie 'in full' since the only photos of her were printed ones without a lot of detail. But I think she came up well in the end. Here is a time lapse of her. I tried putting the camera on the other side of me to prevent the glare problem but instead my hand was in the way. Still working on the best set up for it!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Reo is an eight year old Australian Stockhorse. His fancy name is Baymak Reo, but most of his friends just call him Reo. Reo likes apples and is scared of butterflies. Because everyone knows that butterflies eat horses. Especially the little white ones. You know, the ones with sharp teeth that pretend to eat broccoli but really they hide in the grass and JUMP out and try to grab unsuspecting horses by the throat, so they can drag them back to their lairs and eat their flesh – yeah, those ones. Broccoli – pft! Reo is so not fooled by that.

I really enjoyed painting Reo, he's a lovely horse even if he is scared of butterflies... Here's a video of the work in progress... I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do my videos with lighting etc so hopefully by the end they'll be much better. Tune in tomorrow for Cattie!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Pet Portraits Challenge kicks off... here's Ruby!

This is Ruby, we rescued her from death row at the pound when she was 3 months old. She was an abused dog, having had her tail broken by her previous owner. Ruby is the most loving, loyal dog and greets everyone she meets with kisses and a wagging tail. She loves going for a run, is very fond of cashew nuts, and most of all, she loves to snuggle up to you any time of the day or night.

Ruby is my sister's dog, thanks Phil for starting me off with the lovely Ruby! Thanks also to everyone who's sent me pics of their pets, I'm looking forward to painting them all. If anyone is interested in having their pet painted, please see the instructions for sending photos and learn more about my Pet Portraits Challenge here.

I'm also experimenting with an app called Lapse It and made a time lapse video of this painting. Enjoy... and do come back tomorrow to see my cousin's horse Reo!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A comfortable place to sit

Here is a comfortable place to sit on a warm winter's day. I finished this 10x10" painting of mum's living room this morning. I'm a HUGE fan of the late Australian artist Margaret Olley so I added one of her paintings in place of the more modern painting that is actually there. Tomorrow I'll be starting on my pet portraits. I'm looking forward to posting them daily from monday, stay tuned!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Pet Portrait a Day!

This is Buddy. He's a social butterfly who loves going for morning walks to greet all his friends and sniff out the daily news behind every post and tree. He dreams of walks that never end and looks forward to long morning cuddles in bed on the weekends. In the evenings Buddy practices his fine acting skills, pretending to be fast asleep when it's time to go out in the cold for a pee before bed time.

This is my second attempt to paint Buddy. As I'm painting each day and getting used to the primed boards I'm slowly improving my technique so I had another go at Buddy on a larger board (10x10").

I'm setting myself up to improve my pet portraits and need your help. Starting next monday the goal is to paint a pet each day for the next four weeks (weekends off) so I need pets to paint!! Furry or feathered, big or small... If you'd like to help me along, check out the instructions below. There will be no obligation to buy your pet's painting when it's done but if you would like to then the first 5 to send their photos will have the opportunity to buy their paintings for just $75 including postage (within Australia). Afterwards they will be $100 each which is still at a discounted price. Pet portraits are a beautiful way to capture your pet's uniqueness or remember a pet that has passed away and also make a wonderful gift!


1. Email 2-3 photos of your pet (click here for email address). Provide clear, in focus photos of at least the head and shoulders of your pet, taken in natural light if possible. Please don't tightly crop!! I'll choose the photo that I think is best and crop it as needed to work well in the square format.

2. Include in the email a short bio of your pet with name, age, likes/dislikes, personality, quirks/charms... This will be posted to the blog along with your pets painting.

3. If you decide to buy your painting it will be 8x8" and come to you unframed. It will take a couple of weeks to dry completely so expect to wait a little before it arrives in the mail. Paintings are on archival, primed MDF boards using artist quality oil paints and satin varnished.

4. Within Australia all postage will be included. International postage will be a bit extra and I can quote you the price before you decide to go ahead.

5. Payment for paintings will be via PayPal. Signing up for a PayPal account is free, quick and easy. Ask me for more information if you're not sure.

I'm all fired up to paint pets so please get behind me to make this a successful challenge!!

Thursday, 8 August 2013


After painting the 8x8" of Buddy, I'm going to be painting each of Vicki's cats - I guess that will make it a 'triptych' (sounds very fancy). Since I didn't have the right sized boards ready I did this 6x6" practice of my cat Teddy. Very sadly I gave him away last year so I could return to Italy so this will be a nice reminder of him to have on my wall. I'm still trying to get used to painting on these boards. My soft mongoose brushes are working the best... I also got into it with the palette knife for a bit.

Exciting news! I bought which will redirect to my blog for the moment but feel free to try it just for fun. I'm learning as much as I can about the art of 'marketing one's art' from the Blog Talk radio show Artists Helping Artists. It's brilliant. If you are trying to make a living as an artist here is all the information they should be teaching in art schools in the form of weekly podcasts by an incredibly generous artist called Leslie Saeta and her monthly co-hosts. There are interviews with well known artists and how-to's on just about everything you need to know how to do!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


Today I did 2 small 'portraits' of my aunt's dog Buddy. They are both on primed MDF boards which are quite different from painting on canvas. The surface is a bit slippery and I found my softer nylon brushes worked better than the bristles which tend to just scrape the paint off. I might experiment with different brushes until I get the effect I like. I need a lot of practice but it was quite fun doing these little quick paintings after spending a whole week on one and trying to keep up the enthusiasm for it. The close-up with red background was from a photo Vicki gave me on an 8x8" panel. The other one is 6x6" from a photo I took of Buddy today. I told him to sit as I backed away with the camera in hand. He kept a close eye on me waiting for the command to be released from his task!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Canowindra Talls exhibition and other musings

Every year the River Bank Gallery in Canowindra (pronounced Ca-noun-dra) holds serveral exhibitions open to anyone to enter. The up coming one is called Talls and works of any subject can be submitted as long as they are painted on the 24x12" canvases provided by the gallery. Vicki and I discovered this cute little town and its wonderful gallery when we were travelling the countryside back in 2009. We met Catherine the gallery owner and talented resident artist David Isbester and were really taken by their enthusiasm and commitment to local artists. A couple of years ago I submitted 2 works for the Smalls exhibition and they both sold. This is my Talls entry. I'm calling it "The Happy Gathering". The format is quite tricky! I did colour studies for 3 different ideas before I thought I had something that might work. I'm still not sure that it does but it's more 'brush mileage' under the belt and another step towards Improvement which sometimes feels painfully slow.

I've been painting for four and a half years now and I've definitely learned a lot in that time. But when the goal is to make a living and when I compare where I'm at with other artists that I love and admire, it's hard some days to fight off doubts and gloomy thoughts. I love Artists on Art, an online magazine (which I highly recommend if you're an artist. There are four issues a year and the cost is only US$14 a year). In the first issue was an article by Daniel Sprick which was encouraging for my impatience and helped me to see the big picture of an artist's journey:

It usually takes about ten years of intensive effort to achieve mastery in any domain, and in the arts it may require another ten years after that to begin to express anything that is truly one’s own. Artists must be patient and be true to themselves and trust their own tastes and their own habits of working and living, and be true to their own aesthetic preferences. Each individual has his or her own truth to tell, and with a mixture of sincere effort and good fortune it will be a meaningful one for others.

I'm staying with my mum for the next couple of months and I'm thrilled she's allowing me to paint in my bedroom! (it's all about drop sheets and towels - so far so good). The wonderful thing about my temporary studio is the south-facing aspect. The light is consistent for most of the day which makes a Big Difference compared to painting when the light is constantly shifting. I'm quietly thinking it's a bit sad I don't have a single south-facing room in my own house but maybe I'll become a pro at paintings called Interior with Sunlight.

From now on I won't be sending email notifications to those on my mailing list but if you would like to know when I've updated Marnie's Art, please pop your email into the box on the right that says 'follow this blog by email' and you'll (hopefully) not miss a thing! I haven't tried this system before so please let me know if you have any trouble with it. More soon...

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