Sunday, 11 October 2009

New painting completed.

Here is a new painting commissioned by my dad. They are Jack and Jim, two 9 year old ex racing greyhound brothers he owns and bred. I used a photo I took up on the Pennines as a pretty backdrop.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Overdue dogs update.

I've not made any updates regarding the dogs for a while but not too much was missed anyway as they've both only come out of season just over a week ago anyway. The only major thing I never blogged was the summer champs. Naughty me, only the most important flyball tournament of the year, lol. Anyway, for the quick quick version, Sleets team were the winners of Division 15 so I was very pleased with that.
Last weekend saw the first tournament at Sutton Fields after they came out of season. Sleet wasn't running but I took Wren to run in an NFC team to fill an empty lane due to a pull out. As she has just turned 18 months old, she is now technically an open dog so it was good to get the experience. She was only running over 12" rather than full height that day but good to work up gradually anyway and get a taste of running over higher than 7". It was a hot day and I was definitely feeling a bit under the weather that day and Wren didn't seem on top form either...looking a little slow on the way back as normally she thrashes back for tuggy. I've been working on her fitness at home each day throwing a rope ball and getting her huffing and puffing. She tends to be a little lazy with the full speed running as she is so laid back. Sleet on the other hand seems to manage with chasing a ball full pelt for a lot longer but she's a neurotic fruitcake who always liked to run around full speed for the sheer hell of it. Wren seems more bothered by the heat than Sleet too.
Other than a bit of sluggishness, she ran fine. Still not great on the box but no fumbles and no running out at all. I suppose I get enough heart attacks with sleets unpredictable nature and habit of the odd running out so I'm glad that Wren sticks to doing the hurdles at least.
It's a pity that the team was NFC anyway because we turned out to be a good team and would have been winnng otherwise, lol. Ah well, I was just glad that Wren did as she was supposed to which makes me feel much better about when she runs her first open races for real.
Sleet also finally recieved her flyball dog award certificate which she gained the points for back in June. It turns out the certificate has to be reprinted because it has the wrong BFA number on it...oh well. As soon as sleet sees a camera pointing at her, she's sure to pose herself as much as possible as evident in the photo below. Wren doing a hurdle. Her face looks full of drive even if she was a little sluggish which is good.

Hopping over a horse jump in a nearby field.
Back to training tomorrow..

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

New painting finished...Already!!

Ok, this one was probably the fastest completed painting I've done in years. A black creature on a black background doesn't take too much work though and my muse was well and truly on fire I couldn't drag myself away from it. I decided on a cat because I sold my only other cat painting earlier this year and decided i needed to add a new one to my portfolio. Cats are quite interesting to paint. I should paint more but not many people request cats in commissions...most want dogs or horses.

Meanwhile 'Knightshade' has been awarded 1st place in the Grainthorpe Festival of Arts which ran over the bank holiday weekend. A very nice surprise for me anyway. Very pleased. I had a little feeling that 'Knightshade' would have the ability to appeal in a way that would make it successful in that type of situation.

I also need to pull my finger out updating about the dogs and such too.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

New painting completed.

This is a commissioned portrait of a deceased flyball dog. Her name was Fizz and she was owned by Sue at Doncaster Bellestars.

I'll be taking this with me to the Summer champs this weekend to hand over to Sue.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Flyballing at Wirral.

Saturday, I had both Sleet and Wren racing at Wirral. Sleet on the Riders team and Wren on the starters team. Starters were racing first thing so it was a very early rise to get over there in time. It started off a bit wet but gradually dried up through the morning and wasn't too bad at all for the rest of the day. It was quite close even with a lot of cloud so it was probably a good thing that it wasn't sunny and TOO hot.
The starters team consisted of my sisters dog Storm, then Wren, a younger dog Mackley and then a dog from Tyne Tailwaggers to make it 4 dogs. They were all running great that morning and won all the races. So far so good.
A little later and Sleets team were in which consisted of 5 dogs including my sisters dog Monty, Nell, Max, Libby and Sleet running last so there was a little swapping around between dogs. Sleet was also running great that day and I was quite proud. She didn't try the usual running out in warm up and seems to be gradually getting faster with experience. Her only real issue now is not doing a little detour around the dog she's changing over with. Something we'll have to work on in training. Her team also won all their races that Morning.
Afternoon racing came around and, again, Wren ran great...just missed the ball on the box a couple of times but has got it off to a fine art in grabbing it as soon as possible before returning back so didn't lose much time at all. Her boxwork is pathetic anyway with a two paw slam when there's nothing there to make her turn...more work at home will be needed for her. We won each race again until the very last one when the dog from Tyne started dropping the ball a bit too early a couple of times and Mackley also started to lose his focus...seeing a guy at the side of the ring that looked like his dad and running over to him rather than going down the lane to the box. He was sent again and did it right that time but we'd lost the race already. He's got plenty of time to improve his attention span as he is only 13 months old and considering what it was like a few months ago..there's massive improvement anyway.
Sleets team came up again for their afternoon racing. We won all the races again although in the last races, the whole team went to pot a little and gave the other team a head start. On the second run, a ball from the other team rolled right into sleets path from nowhere and stopped...and me knowing that Sleet would probably just go and grab that rather than going down the lane tried leading her past it and ended up letting her go way too late and also throwing her off and she tried running out. She came straight back and did a correct run but was too late to win the leg. Sleet was pulled even though it wasn't really our fault about that damned stupid ball and they managed to win the rest of the races to get us first place in that Div. Sleet getting her first rosette and it being a 1st made up for having to miss the last races.
Wrens team got a second....her team always seems to come second, it must be her number,, overall, it was quite a successful day for once especially regarding Sleet who's team haven't really stood a chance before now due to being stuck in the wrong division.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Dogs unleashed and Rotherham Tournament.

Well, last weekend we had flyball at Dogs Unleashed in Newark. Only Sleet was racing as there were no starters. Again, she decided to give me a little scare in warm up by missing hurdles but sorted herself out before actual racing. Unfortunately, that morning, the team as a whole didn't run very well, getting lots of lights etc...whilst me, the most inexperienced was holding back a tad too much in order to avoid Sleet ran great all the rest of the day mind. In the afternoon, the team seemed to run much better but, as one of the main dogs on our team wasn't there..again..and Sleet isn't as fast as her yet, we just weren't quick enough to beat the other teams. With sleet running instead of the other dog, our teams time is basically too slow for the div we were in but the other dog was supposed to be running but has a very unreliable owner who is holding the team back because of this.
Of course, we didn't get anywhere but nevermind.
We did take advantage of some of the other stuff going on that day too. Wren did some flybgall runs on the 'have a go', without netting. She was fumbling a lot on the box but her quickest time was 4.9...sort out her box work and she'll be getting low 4s at least. She did also seem to be affected by the heat so I didn't run her too much.
Sleet got to play in the paddling pool. After waiting for a couple of other dogs to have a turn first, of which she made a complete racket in protest throughout, her turn finally came and everyone round and about finally got a rest from her yapping and shouting impatiently. She really enjoyed her time in the pool, bringing out a bunch of toys but also wanting to stop just to have a dig and bite the water. Great way to have fun on a hot day.
After that, she went on the 'have a go' agility course. She has seen some agility equipment before but months ago. She seemed fine with everything and loves the seesaw. The only thing she wasn't keen on was the tunnel. It took some effort convincing her to go through there. We were just about to give up when she just came through...little bugger.
On the seesaw, she went rushing up it on her own and I had to leg it up and grab her quick before it went down on the other side and caught her off guard. She had a second go on the seesaw, this time with me holding her harness to keep her more under control. I think the seesaw must be her favourite part at the moment.
Wren had a go on the agility earlier in the day. She's never seen anything to do with agility before. Still, she did every piece of equipment without trouble. I didn't try her on the weave which sleet did pretty well at.
Wren came through the tunnel without problems mind. The woman in the ring held the seesaw steady for her and I also kept hold of her but she didn't seem at all freaked out by it. I was quite impressed at her very first try. What a clever girl?
Sleet enjoys the paddling pool. Doing the dog walk.

Me having to grab her quick as she rushes confidently up the seesaw.
Wren doing her first ever attempt at the seesaw.

Doing a hurdle

Overall, we had a nice day...and I managed to top up my sunburn....clever girl I am!!!
This weekend was our own tournament in Rotherham. Of course, I had to work saturday and Sunday which is just typical but I did go over once I'd escaped from there at the end of the shift.
On Saturday, Sleet was running with Rotherham Riders and Wren was in starters. As the split starters into two and had each part behind the divisions, I got there well before the second half of starters so was able to run Wren myself then.
Sleet was running her last races just as I turned up but I did get to watch her at least from the back of the ring. Natalie Holtappel was running her for me, many thanks for Nat for that. Apparantly, that morning, Nat was running my sisters dog Monty and my sister was running Sleet who ran fine for the first race. When they changed lanes, she started running out so Nat offered to run Sleet instead. Sleet ran great from there on. Funny little bugger she is. I'm sure she had an interesting time running my little scalliwag anyway. Sleet is only a little collie but she has a BIG personality.
Wren was also running great. Ellie ran her in the morning, many thanks to Ellie, as my sister was running her own starter dog Storm. I ran her that evening and managed to do some spot on changeovers too much to my surprise. We only lost to one team so we came second and got a medal.
On Sunday, Wren and storm also ran in another starters team as one had been pulled so we made up another. Hope from Steelers ran with them and also a couple of dogs from Doncaster teams. This time, they did starters all in one go inbetween morning and afternoon divs so I didn't get there in time to see or race Wren. I got a text at work telling me she ran great and they came 2nd again....another medal, lol. Well done Wren.
One day Sleet will manage to win something too, lol.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

'Glimpse of Youth' completed.

I managed to get this painting completed. It will be going to the framers tomorrow. Now I have a new commission come up of a deceased JRT who did flyball when she was alive. She sadly died suddenly of a mystery virus when she was 4 and her owner has been looking to get a portrait done for a while. As she runs with Doncaster Bellestars flyball team, she saw the Bryn painting that I did for them when it was handed to Bryns owner at their AGM. She decided that she liked my style of work so she brought the photos she has to their tournament on Sunday when I was there and we looked through them to decide which best to use etc... Now just to make some composites in photoshop to decide exactly how it's going to be.

Here is 'A Glimpse of Youth' completed anyway.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

"A glimpse of Youth" in progress.

Just a quick post...the photos tell most of the story. This is the second painting thats going into Holmfirth artweek..providing I get it finished and framed up in time.
The subject is a NSH colt hence the title of the piece. I changed the background completely from the ref photo.
Better leave it at that...the painting needs

Monday, 15 June 2009

Rotherham Flyball tournament and Sleets open debut.

This weekend was our flyball clubs tournament. It was a two ring one as there was so much demand.
I wasn't able to be there on Saturday because of a long shift at work and I couldn't be there Sunday morning either as I had my Martial Arts assessments so I went on Friday to help set up and then went on Sunday afternoon after the wing chun assessments.
Wren was running in starters on Saturday so my sister had to run her. I just sent messages from work asking how she was doing. It turned out she ran with Kellingtons starter team instead of Rotherham one as she would be sharing a space with my sisters dog that way. Our team uses Canadian boxes and Kellington had a Boomerang box. Kath said that she ran great but had a few fumbles for the ball. The last time she ran on a boomerang box was at Markfield with the Chaos Krew and she had the same issue there due to wanting to turn the opposite way to what she does on a Canadian. She was fine once the ball was put in the other side. This time, it wasn't. My sister didn't think of it but, nevermind. Her team came 5th but she ran well which is the main thing. She really trams it down and back again. No slow return problems with her. Just needs more boxwork.
Sleet had her open debut on Sunday. Again, my sister had to run her that morning as I wasn't there. We've had a couple of training sessions at home with my sisters hurdles to try and proof that and she seems to be doing ok now she realises, no hurdles, no ball. I don't think that netting or wings will help with her anymore. You could run her in those for 5 years and she'd still run out if you removed them. The only way to keep her in the hurdles is to get the message that YOU require her to do them rather than just relying on a habit forming. For this reason, I am using hurdles without wings or netting and only letting her have a ball when she does them correctly.
We do a lot of restrained recalls at first which helped as she didn't already have a ball in her mouth when coming to me. I also use her "Clicker training", language to help send the message across more clearly. I use the word "Yessssss" in place of the clicker sometimes but I also have an intermediate word "Good", what I use mid exercise to let them know they are doing it right. They know that "Goods" lead to a click or a "Yesss". I shout "Good", as she jumps each hurdle..not before, then say "Yess" as she comes through where the start gate would be with the ball in her mouth and then I drop another one for her to dive on. Sleet won't drop the first ball until last split second anyway so I have no issues with her spitting or anything.
On the morning of the tournament, Sleet decided she wasn't going to do the hurdles at all. I was quite disappointed when I got the text saying she hadn't raced as she wouldn't do the hurdles.
In the meantime when one of the rings was empty and not in use with starter netting, my sister took her in there and let her do some runs in netting.
That afternoon, I turned up and Sleets team were due to run again. I found out that, as a newly formed team who's time wasn't really known, they had broken out of their division..being way too we couldn't win anything regardless.
We decided to try Sleet again in the two minutes, first doing a restrained recall. She came down all the hurdles just fine. Andy, our team captain, told me to try her with a full run so I did. Again, she did it perfectly...then as we still had enough time, let her do a second run...which was also perfect. She goes down the hurdles a bit like bambi with her strange springy action, lol...but she was doing it.
In the first race, she didn't run but then Andy put her in as last dog. Again, she ran great. During the rest of the afternoon races, she was allowed two more legs and never put a paw wrong and so earning her first 75 points. Natalie Holtappel was judging the devision and was putting the other teams down as winning even though we got the faster time and finished first and made a comment to me about how frustrating it is. At the time, I was just happy that Sleet was doing the bloody hurdles, lol. I'm thinking that she decided she had to do them because MUM was now here. Still, as I can't attend a lot of tournaments due to crappy work, she'll have to learn to run reliably for Kath too.

Here is a photo of part of the showground. The weather was fantastic all weekend....lucky mind as we've had thunder and lightening and heavy rain today, lol. Here is Sleet and Wren having a run after the tournament had finished Sunday evening. Wren has blown her coat and is looking particularly scrawny.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Rested and Ready more good news.

I altered the chain a little between the standing dogs front legs because it didn't fall correctly before and it was bugging me...a lot!! Now I can finally call this finished. I've already started on preperations for my next piece. Both of them need to be framed up and ready for Holmfirth artweek by the end of this I need to get a move on with the next one. Also, 'Emerald Gaze', pictured below, was entered into an exhibition at the Ferens Gallery in Hull a couple of months ago and much to my surprise, I found out it had sold. I was really pleased and got a nice big fat cheque come through the post a few days later.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Rested and ready nearing completion...

Well, I'm really having to press on with this now because I only have a couple of weeks to get the other painting done if I'm to get them framed and mounted in time for Holmfirth. Here it is with more work done on the second dog. And now pretty much complete but I haven't signed it yet because I'm still wondering whether it needs any minor alterations and touch ups. I'll get some fresh eyes on it. As you can see, I added the chains. I'm not into painting stuff like that like I am hair and such. I tend to rush them a little as a result. I took this last shot with my better makes a whole lot of difference to the quality.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

More work on 'Rested And Ready', work on dogs.

I finally got started on the dogs. Here I had made a start on the laying dog. In the ref, they were on grass but here they are on a dirt ground with lots of brown tones around so I added more brown tones to the dog to make her fit with the scene better. They don't show too well in the photo. More work on the first dog and a start on the second. No brown tones in him yet but I'll add them later.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

More work on 'Rested and Ready' painting.

The background is coming along now. I'm itching to get on with the dogs. I had done a lot of work on the ground here with the straw laying about and texture etc.. and started blocking in colour on the nearest barn. More work on the ground and detail coming along on the nearest barn and I also got some work done on the kennel. Still that to finish along with the ground at the front and the nearest barn. I'm wondering whether that kennel needs making a little larger.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Update on Farm Border collies painting.

Here's two new updates on the painting I'm on at the moment. I've been accepted into Holmfirth Artweek so I need to finish this one and do another and have them ready before the end of June.
I have to send entries off before the end of May so I'll have to decide quickly what I'm going to paint next and enter it before it even exists, haha.
Here, you can see more work done on the nearer side of the furthest barn and the gate and I also started putting in layers for the ground. Here, I've refined the gate etc..built up the layers on the ground and started putting in details.

Monday, 4 May 2009

New painting in progress..

After a month or so of artists block, I decided to force myself back into it especially as I have been off work with the pulled back and not able to do much else and also need to get at least a couple more paintings done for exhibitions I wish to enter. I can only work in bursts because my back still doesn't like being in the sitting position for too long or it seizes up. It took long enough to put the photo composite together. The border collies came from a photo I took at our own flyball tournament back in October 08. The farmyard background was from seperate photos I took at a local farm and then the side of the furthest barn, the stone wall and trees/sky were all seperate again. The side of the barn was just a concoction in photoshop along with the kennel. There were a few other changes I made. You can see the messy cloning work on the gate and posts etc...but here is the final result after days and days of messing about. Once that was sorted, I got on with the painting. I'm working from back to front as is usual so here the trees and sky had been put in. The dry stone wall and the side of the barn weren't finished yet in this photo.
You can see a photo stuck to one side with a border collie and terrier in it which shows a wooden kennel that I'll be using as a ref. The border collie is Monty, a dog we bred ourselves when I was a child. He died in 2002. He was also the father of one of my last bitches who died a few weeks before I got Sleet. The terrier we also bred ourselves. He was called Hyde and had a brother, who's in the photo but further over, called Jeckyll. They really were jeckyll and hyde characters and wanted to kill all other dogs. No more terriers after they died. Hyde was run over and killed by a car when he was 8.
Here is more progress on the painting. I did more work on the stone wall and side of the barn so they look much better now. I also started on the nearest side of the barn and also a few bits on the gate and post but I'll finish those once the wall is done. Just base colour so far with the brickwork lines quickly drawn in.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

And the cacti get going again.

This is the first post about cacti in this blog because they'd already gone to sleep for the winter by the time I started it so there was nothing to post about them....until now. Now that spring is well underway, they have started growing again...and flowering. I'll have a wait a little longer for the chinopsis hybrids to start putting out their large spectacular blooms but many are budding already so I should have some pretty good shows to look forward to.
At the moment, it is mainly rebutias, echinocereus, mammillarias and a steno that are starting to bloom. Rebutias always put on a good show.
I have tonnes of seeds I collected from hybrid cross matings last year but I haven't gotten around to sowing them yet. The seedlings from last year are growing like mad and looking very well. They are still in the proagator and I'll be taking them out and potting on soon enough. There's adult plants I also want to repot but can't because my back hasn't recovered properly since I pulled it so I'm still restricted as to what I can do.
I recently did a swap with another echinopsis grower in Italy. I sent them a pup of schick 'Candlelight', and they sent me Schick 'Celeste'. A new one to my collection of Schicks.
Those who already know about my cactus growing will know that I started my own breeding programme involving echinopsis hybrids and related types such as lobivia, chamaecereus and trichos. The oldest batch of crosses I produced are now reaching flowering size and I think there are one or two that are budding so I am excited about that. Here's hoping that they have decent flowers on them. If not, on ebay they go.
Here's a photo from today. Mainly rebutia and two echinocereus. The show is just getting going.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Sleet and Wren training pics.

I finally got some more photos of Sleet and Wren flyball training on Sunday. Taken by my sister as I was running them. They are getting there with regards to staying in the hurdles now with just wings here and there if they forget sometimes. They've not done bad being as I usually can't attend training due to having to work most Sundays.
Here's Sleet. She looks weird in all of hers with her back legs tucked under her rather than spread out like all the other dogs seems to do. If you watch her in real life, it's like watching bambi going up and down to the box. She springs over the hurdles like a Gazelle. Very weird!!
She jumps far higher than the 7" hurdles and does better over higher ones.

Wren looks more normal when she jumps. Again, she jumps much higher than the small hurdles. She looks quite graceful to watch and rushes back quickly too for her tuggy. She had a naughty day on Sunday though where she decided to chase one of the other dogs and pinch the ball from their box in the next lane instead of going for the one she was supposed to go for. Little madame.

She'll need more practise with a dog running in an adjacent lane but she never bothered with dogs in the next lane at the two starters tournaments she's been to.

During her second batch of runs, I managed to badly pull my back and I'm still crippled now three days later with two weeks off work sick because of it. All I did was straighten up after releasing her.

Here they are all running around afterwards. Sleet was returning with a ball that had been launched.
And again....
Some of us standing about watching or launching balls. I'd pulled my back by this time so was standing there in pain in this pic. Kath had to take the free run photos after training this time. I couldn't squat to get any myself. Look at that cloudless sky.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Sleet and Wren tricks.

Whilst at our flyball tournament on saturday, I got Kath to take some photos of Sleet and Wren doing a few tricks. Here's a few of them.
Double act: Never done this before because I normally teach them seperately but they just decided to do it. Wren jumps on my back and Sleet weaves between legs. I'll graduate to walking forward with Wren on my back and Sleet can do the walk weave.
Dual heelwork on the same side...they've never done this before either. We haven't done a whole lot of work on this but they seem to be quite good at it. I'll have to work more on it.

Sleet jumps Wren. She then circles me and jumps wren again and keeps repeating until I give the signal and toss the ball.

Wren on my back.

Sleet on my back.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Emerge - Lion portrait completed.

I managed to get this painting finished today which I'm rather pleased about. That means I've done a painting for each month so far this year. Quite a bit quicker than I usually am. I need to get more done for the exhibitions I want to enter this year. It's thinking of what to paint next thats the biggest problem.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Skateboarding adventures and Lion update.

Sleet and Wren have continued to have skateboarding practise here and there out in the street now as there's not enough room on our backs anymore. They've both learnt to keep three feet on and push with the 4th and to just ride the skateboard with all 4 feet on it when it's gotten moving. They still need more practise to get even better. Meanwhile, they've been attracting quite some audiences in the form of local kids and bunches of chavs..some of which have filmed them on their mobiles with permission mind. I suppose it's not everyday you see dogs skateboarding along your street. Here's a couple of pics, One of Wren and one of Sleet. The photos make them look stationary but they were both pushing themselves along pretty quick.
I've also been getting on with the Lion painting. I need more paintings to enter into exhibitions this year so, along with knightshade, this will be the second of the new paintings I'll have for exhibitions this year and need several more at least.
I've been working on getting detail over more of the lions face and into the mane. Still more work to do mainly on the mane and top of head, I'll need to add whiskers last thing.