2020 the year that was…what?

Beverley in her art studio

We are all globally united by effects of Covid 19, there are very few places on this planet that have not been effected by the virus and it has proved to be a total leveller for the human race. I have to acknowledge that each person’s experience of living through this pandemic is truly very personal to them. I therefore want to take stock of the bad and the good things that came out of 2020 and how I will use my person experiences to move forward because one thing is for sure this pandemic has changed life as we know it forever.

At the beginning of each year I try to set aside a little time to plan ahead for the forthcoming year. So I have made two short lists…

1. First a list of things that will be assigned to the ‘2020 bin’, left well and truly in the past, gone, gone, gone!!!

2. And secondly a list of things, some of which were quite unexpected jewels in my year that will be carried forward to 2021 and a beyond.

Chucked in the '2020 Bin'

Being a people pleaser.

I am by nature quite forthright but when it comes to the crunch I was often talked into accepting things I wasn’t happy with. Whether it was being asked to paint something for less money or stressing over hitting a ridiculously tight deadline. My brain was screaming ‘What will ‘they’ think, ‘they’ won’t like you if you don’t given them a discount or get the project done ‘yesterday’.

In all honesty I am an easy person to get along with, I go out of my way to exceed expectations. But the truth is ‘they’ don’t have to like me, they just have to have the confidence I will deliver a superb product and service that is not devalued or undermined by unrealistic time constraints.

You become a people pleaser when you allow your confidence to be eroded.


I so often see the potential in other people but fail to see my own, which is true of a lot of very talented artists. I would often set my creative standard by comparing myself to others work instead of trusting my own abilities.

At the beginning of 2020 I was in bad place, honestly on the floor bad. Self-doubt allowed a couple of individuals to rob me of my self-esteem, forced me to doubt my skill set and totally robbed me of my confidence.

Self-doubt steals your soul if you let it.

Lack of knowledge.

It’s all too easy to avoid trying new things or move forward because it’s deemed too hard to learn something new. While it’s of course true you can’t be good at everything, but if you don’t try something you will never know. If you don’t know how to do it, go and learn!

With all my country shows and events cancelled it became apparent that I had to build an online shop into my website. With no one to help at the time and the finances tight I took the bull by the horns and I did it myself. I am immensely proud that I did it. For sure it took me ages, loads of research (great new knowledge), plenty of head scratching and tears but I had the time in lockdown to learn and grow.

The lack of knowledge is no excuse for the inability to progress.


2020 with it’s restrictions gave me the time and space to think, I became aware that I had the tendency to do nothing, I remained unchanged. Procrastination was fast becoming my main occupation and it’s a hard habit to kick, all too easy to cherry pick the easy jobs.

My procrastination had a lot to do with lack of direction as my tried and trusted means to earning a living were all shut down; no art events, teaching or country shows. It’s a comfortable option to rest on our laurels, bimble along and sit in the safety of the rut. I had a bit of chat to myself, actually more of a big old shout in the ear ‘Go do something!!!.

If you sit doing nothing then life will move on and leave you standing still.

Gems to carry forward

Personal development.

Learning new a skill, better still free training is never a waste of time, no matter what it is and even if you don’t know how you are going to use it right now in your life. If you think it is a waste of time believe me all training and new knowledge is a good thing. I did a variety of online courses through the summer, many where free, some I paid for, all where worth the time and effort. Yes even the Google Analytics training had its interesting moments…yes really, granted not as exciting as the painting courses, but hey I have a new skill. It builds confidence and self-worth.

A little self-love goes a long, long way.


I think confidence ebbs and flows throughout life and confidences changes at different times in your lifetime. I think depending on where you are in life you have different strengths and confidences. Through addressing some of the negatives of ‘My 2020’ it has helped build my confidence to try new things, given me courage to enter competitions, exhibitions and explore new techniques.

I am super excited to branch out with new ideas and equally happy to let go some of the things I have been doing for years in my business. With the confidence to explore my creativity, I am buzzing with new ideas, so I will be leaving behind some of the products I create regularly as they have become just a process with little or no imagination

I am excited and confident in my creative planning for 2021.


The confidence to try new things and open some creative heads space allows new exciting ideas and creativity to grow.  I was always chasing my tail, I felt like I needed to be creating a new painting or mosaic to sell, these mostly piled up just waiting for the right person to come along and buy them. Again I was trying to please what I thought the market wanted.

Over the summer I took the time to experiment with new materials and tried new ways of working. Moving forward I am going to be slowing the pace, carry forward some of what I have learned to creating far more experimental pieces of work that please me, work that is more imaginative and creative. I shall be developing my own unique style, honing new skills and techniques.

I am buzzing with new creative ideas, I feel energised.

People you love.

It’s true to say I do live, eat, sleep art, it is my passion, it has been the one thing that has carried me through the dreaded 2020. However if nothing else 2020 has highlighted the importance of people in our lives, especially if we have lost people from our worlds. Therefore there is more to life than just my work as an artist and this year I will be making more time to spend quality time with the people that are important to me.

Surround yourself with the people that feed your soul, not the people that drain you.

All you need is love!!!

So to sum up what 2020 meant me…

The first list is the thief of creativity and it all comes down to confidence.

The second list is creativity’s warm fluffy blanket.

Stay Safe, Stay Creative… be Happy!!!

Taking inspiration from the old mosaic masters of Ravenna

For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to objects that sparkle and shine, and following a short introduction to mosaic making course about 10 years ago I became totally obsessed with mosaics.

Ravenna gold and blue mosaic detail

Combine my obsession of mosaics and my love of Italy (and Italian art in particular) and you get the magic mosaic wonderland of Ravenna, Italy.

The small town of Ravenna on the north east coat of Italy is home to some of the most amazing and well preserved mosaics in the world. It’s here that one of the worlds most famous mosaics can be found ‘The Small Doves Drinking’.

Ravenna pigeons mosaic postcard

Everywhere that you go in Ravenna you see this image, on postcards, souvenirs and reproduction mosaics etc. It seems to symbolise the very essence of the town. However the ‘Doves’ mosaic is a very small section of a much larger mosaic that adorns the ceiling of the Galla Placidia’s Mausoleum, it can be seen here just left of centre above the left hand arch.

Ravenna pigeons ceiling
Ravenna ceiling mosaic

The small old town area has various sites where you can view some of the worlds most incredibly beautiful and well preserved mosaics. 

It was for me an emotional experience to see vast walls and ceilings filled with gold tiles and mosaics with the most exquisitely intricate designs. 

Particular highlights for me where:

  • The Neonian Baptistery
  • Galla Placidia’s Mausoleum
  • Basilica di S. Vitale
  • S. Appollinare Nouve
Jesus dove christening Ravenna

The Neonian Baptistery – Christening of Jesus

The Magi Mosaic Ravenna

S. Appollinare Nouve – The Magi

Ravenna di s vitale Mosaic ceiling

Basilica di S. Vitale

Ravenna ceiling mosaic

Galla Placidia’s Mausoleum – Vaulted ceiling detail

Ravenna deer mosaic
Ravenna ceiling mosaic
Ravenna ceiling mosaic
Ravenna deer mosaic
Mosaic Shop Ravenna

The fabulous little studio shops that sell mosaic materials were out of this world amazing, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. All sorts of gorgeous glass, milliflori, mirrored glass, textures and colours, I can only describe it as being inside a kalidescope. 

I decided to have a go at replicating the infamous ‘The Small Doves Drinking Mosaic’. Lots of other mosaic makers had done it and it seemed a right of passage. 

The mosaic technique in Ravenna is very different to the way I work. I cut tiles and create shapes and stick them onto a board and then grout the finished mosaic. The Ravenna way is to cut smalti glass and push it directly into the a cement, no grouting. Two very different ways of working producing very results.

Ravenna doves mosaic copy

First attempt…Not very successful attempt as the technique used doesn’t really allow for the tiny pieces of tile to be cut small enough to give the desired effect. However it was a good project for practicing graduating colour.

Ravenna doves inspired mosaic

Second attempt… I have over the years developed my own mosaic style and I decided to recreate the famous mosaic in this style with the sparkles edging and the various textures in the water. The doves created with the tiles cut to give contouring and shape. 

So this is my version of the famous Ravenna Doves,  paying homage to the great mosaic masters of old Ravenna who inspired me to create this piece of work.

Ravenna pigeons mosaic postcard
Ravenna doves mosaic copy
Ravenna doves inspired mosaic

If you would like to see more of my work then take a look in the mosaic section in my  Galleries Mosaic Art

Taking time out to learn new skills

Like many businesses the corona virus certainly did throw a spanner in my works. But sometimes taking a step back and being forced to take a different approach to how I make my living has opened my mind up to learning new skills. The last few months have proved to be a ‘lockdown learning curve’.

With all my Country Shows, Markets and Art Exhibitions  all cancelled, and my Art Workshops and classes postponed until it’s safe to teach again, I have had to adapt and change.


I thought at the very beginning of the lockdown that never again would I get this amount of uninterrupted time so I set out to learn new skills. Normally my time is filled with creating pet portrait commissions, wildlife illustrating, workshop planning and a part time job. So having this opportunity to take time out to learn, build and expand on my skills was not to be missed.

Finances governed some my choices as to what to embark on. With my normal income channels now cancelled I had to think of new ways to sell my products and services, so one of my biggest projects over this period has been to build this website and online shop. With no income it became a necessity to do this all myself, which was certainly challenging and a massive learning curve.


We all sit within our safety zones and stick to doing what we know best. But for a long time I have been wanting improve my watercolour painting and drawing skills. My animal and pet portraits are all highly detailed and I have wanted to find a way of loosening up my work by painting and drawing with some looser, more fluid marks. 

I set out to try new art materials, so I purchased oil pastels, pastel pencils, gouache paint, new papers and just played and experimented. It was amazing how quickly you can learn new techniques and adapt these into your art making.

I have also done a few online courses and taken part in the BBC 4’s life drawing class, and I can honestly say my artwork and my approach to my work has improve hugely. 

Out of necessity other projects came to the fore. I bought an old Singer sewing machine a few years ago but was too lazy, too busy, too preoccupied, too scared to invest the time to learn how to use it properly, so it has been sitting in my studio gathering dust. However seeing some of the face mask offerings on the market, let’s face it they are not the most attractive of accessories I decided to have ago and make some for my family and myself. I was pretty pleased with the results and questioned why I hadn’t used this beautiful old machine before.


So from initially worrying at the beginning of the crisis of how my art business would fair, I am hopefully in a better position to move my business along having learnt new skills and created new opportunities to build my business. 

Its quite amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. 😁

Same photograph 48 years apart

The pictures below are both taken by the same person, in the same place, from the same spot, 48 years apart…almost to the day!

Dad Boating lake (2)I have carried this picture around with me for a very long time and as you can see it is fading a little now.  Mum reckons I was about 4 years old in this picture and I can actually remember the picture being taken. I also knew that it was taken in Sheringham but I didn’t know where.

When I visited Sheringham with my mother a few years ago I asked her where this picture was taken, to my amazement she literally just pointed out of our hotel window to where she thought it was. Mum thought the little boating lake was long gone and was now a flower bed.  I was just very happy to find the general area where it was taken.  Later that day we walked further up the sea front and to my absolute joy there it was, the little boating lake is in fact still there and as nothing has changed.

me boating lake 2013 bwI thought it only fitting and quite poignant that the same person that took the original picture should take the same view again. That person of course was my Mother. We both shed a little tear afterwards as my dad is no longer with us, and it was apt that the photo was taken on Fathers Day 2013. I shall treasure both images now forever.

To portrait website

Why paint a portrait when you can take a photo?

So many times I have heard “Why would you want a portrait painted of your pet? I have loads of photos on my phone…”

Our pets are not just animals they are loved and cherished as part of our families, for many people their pets are their family. We are given these lovely beings for such a short space of time in relation to our lifespan, and we love them with all our hearts. Why would you want to store their images away on your phone or pc?

Of course I am not dissing photography, indeed I am a keen amateur photographer and my hard drive (and phone) are jammed full of images of my pets; dogs, cats, chickens….etc you name it.  However consider the two quick questions below.

One.  Although the pictures below are nice photographs would you consider placing any of these pictures on the wall as a lasting memory to a beloved furry one?

Dog Photos Montage

Two. In comparison these are paintings I have been commissioned to paint, would you be more inclined to display these in your home or give as special gift to someone?

Dog Paintings Montage

A few of the portraits above are of pets of which have now sadly gone over the ‘Rainbow Bridge’. One of which is my own much-loved Rocky (with the stupid ears). I am so glad I got to paint him while he was alive, I loved every minute creating his portrait. Now he has sadly gone I see this painting as a celebration to him.

In contrast I think ‘people portraits’ are different as we are capturing with the camera multiple memories and ‘moments in time’,  a child’s first birthday, weddings, holidays, etc.  Painting a pet portrait we are creating a lasting memory of the spirit of that special animal’s personality and the character who shares his or hers life, love and affection with us.

So maybe the question should be ‘Why would you not want a portrait painted of your pet?’


See more of my paintings and  how to commission a painting

Dogs to the Rescue

rocky-archie-1 rocky-archie-2Having rekindled my love for painting and drawing I found myself quite busy painting pet portraits for people.  I am enormously proud when I am asked to paint someone’s beloved companion and indeed feel very honoured that they have chosen me to paint for them.  However there are times when I find I am at a loss as to what to paint next, this is when my own animals become the subjects, Rocky & Archie became my ‘animals muses’ (I am not actually sure if you can have a male muse and I have no idea what the male equivalent would be) sadly both have now gone over the ‘Rainbow Bridge’.

It soon became apparent that losing a dog (or a cat) leaves a huge hole in your life, no dog to walk over the fields, no chats with fellow dog walkers and no happy dog energy to greet you when you come home.  So after 8 months we missed having a dog in our lives so much we decided to get another.

Labradors to the Rescue!

With so many unwanted animals out there it was simple decision to give a home to a rescue dog so we signed up with Labrador Rescue South East & Central (LRSEC). We filled in the application form and few weeks later Marie from LRSEC and her gorgeous Black Lab ‘Riley’ came to inspect our home. Apparently Riley was the chief inspector, nothing gets passed him…we apparently passed Riley’s scrutiny, now we just had to wait for a suitable dog to be matched to us.

Poppy dogYou obviously don’t completely know what you are getting with a rescue dog even though LRSEC provided us with quite a bit of background history. We knew we would have to approach this process with an open mind, be prepared to be patient with settling in a new dog in to our home. It could take some time, weeks, months even longer and there could be set backs and issues to overcome along the way.

LRSEC try where possible to place a dog home to home so we had to be ready to adopt a dog when a suitable dog became available and was a suitably matched to us. We thought that we would have to wait ages but a few weeks later Jacky the local Coordinator for LRSEC phoned to say they had a 3 year old bitch needing to be re-homed and gave us some background history about her.

Love at first sight?

Lab face 2Our first glimpse of Poppy didn’t evoke the feelings we expected. We were so excited to meeting her but when she walked out to where we were waiting she was so bewildered that she only had eyes for Jo  from LRSEC as a point of security.

The anxiety showed in Poppy’s face and it made her look older than her years. When we made a point of greeting her she was so stressed that she didn’t want us to get too near her and barked to keep us away. To create a calmer atmosphere Jo suggested walking her for a bit and gradually she began to let her guard down enough to accept us a little and we were then able to take her home.

The car journey home was fine, by the time we had got home Poppy had transferred her security attachment to us. It was at this point I could see just what a lovely dog she actual was, her features had softened and her tail was wagging, although she was still clearly quite bewildered by her new surroundings she wasn’t anxious around us… a beautiful dog, if a little bit chubby.

 A little help from the professionals

We had Poppy a couple of days and we were out & about with her going to the places we regular went and although she was fine with other dogs she would sometimes still display defensive behaviour if greeted by a stranger. As a part of the adoption process LRSEC are always available for support and help, and they offered to help with this issue by putting us in touch with Doug a Professional Dog Trainer. He came to visit us along with Marie and spent the morning with us to help us tackle Poppy’s fear of strangers.

As soon as Doug entered our house Poppy started barking and displaying defensive behaviour towards him. We watched in awe as he weaved his magic, it wasn’t a comfortable watch but within a very short space of time Poppy went from a scared and barking animal to a soft relax dog eating treats from his mouth.

The rest of the morning was spent educating us ‘humans’. We thought we were pretty dog savvy and we knew what we were doing, but it became clear that there is still a lot to learn from people who work professionally with dogs. We gained all sorts of tips from diet & equipment to training & obedience, even knowledge specific to the breed. The morning with Doug and Marie was time and money well spent instilling new knowledge and confidence in both Poppy and her ‘humans’.

Although Poppy is still adjusting to her new environment and routine she has not displayed any fears since the training session and is a happy girl.

Great little tips from the professionals:
  • Be firm, give one word instructions, i.e Sit, Stay etc. not prefixed with the dog’s name i.e. ‘Poppy sit’ or ‘Poppy Stay’ the dog is looking to you for clear guidance.
  • Get the right equipment: We were recommended a half check collar and a decent trainer lead, which has worked wonders to stop Poppy pulling. Although there is still some work to be done she actually walks quite well on the lead.
  • Correct diet & exercise, Poppy is slimming down nicely.
  • Frozen Bone: I love this one and so does Poppy, it helped in the early days when we had to leave her home alone. Pack a marrow bone with a mixture of grated carrot & broccoli smooshed together with a little peanut butter to bind, put in the freezer and give it to your dog when you leave the house…a good few hours of entertainment while you are out.

Poppy & poppiesEvery dog is different, of course so are the owners and every adoption is going to be unique to them. The best pieces of knowledge gained from this experience so far are:

  • Be Patience. 
  • Socialise your dog so he/she fits in to your lifestyle, after all they are going to be part of the family for quite some time.
  • Address any problems quickly and get professional help and support if necessary.  Professional help may cost you a little but helps to give you the confidence to deal with any issues.
  • Happy dog = Happy owner … it’s not a vicious circle.

The not so vicious circle

Vicious circleI find myself asking who is rescuing who, Poppy has been with us only a short while and we feel bless that we have her in our lives.

Big thanks to Jacky and her team at LRSEC also Doug & Marie for all the help you gave in re-homing Poppy with us.

It is therefore my pleasure to introduce new muse Poppy and her side kick Roddy (also a rescue animal)

Poppy dog 2 Roody cat

Chicken Four ways

However whilst I was in the Scilly Isles on holiday I had the pleasure of talking to some of the local artists on the islands, and although they were predominately landscape painters they did discuss various styles and techniques that they had tried and tested over the years to try and improve their work. With this in mind I decided that I would have a little experiment with using different mediums that I already had in my art box to see which would best suit the pet portraits that I love to paint, therefore we have a ‘Chicken Four Ways’.

Chicken original

This photograph is of Ginger, she is one of our chickens. I find chickens a difficult subject to photograph as they are never still for long and their movements are very sharp and unpredictable. However she became the subject for my experiment.

Chicken in Coloured Pencil low res

I used coloured pencil for this picture, the small size of the picture meant that very fine detail was difficult to achieve as the colour pencils used were very soft and slightly waxy, it was hard to keep a sharp point for drawing the sharp detail (I am sure though that these would probably great for creating a larger picture). I had to develop a technique and style to achieve the desired effect particularly on the feathers.

Chicken in Pencil low resFor my second offering I thought I would go back to basics and used a plain old simple graphite pencil. The result is a soft image that was easy to draw; the fine details were much easier to define than the colour pencil. However more thought had to be put into portraying textures to give the picture depth and interest to compensate for the lack of colour. It took me a lot longer to create than the previous picture.

Chicken in Watercolour low resFinally I used my usual tried & test medium of watercolour to create my final picture. Not surprisingly I found this picture the easiest to create. As a medium I love watercolours’ translucent qualities and the way that you can build up colour & texture that work particularly well when illustrating fur and feathers.

Every artist has their favourite medium to use, and I think that mine will always be watercolour. However I have had great fun experimenting and it was good to step out of my comfort zone for while and try something new.

Animal Inspiration

kizzy bannerI never thought that I would never paint again. I had actually packed up all my paints and put them in the loft, believing inspiration had left me.  In fact it was 9 years ago that I painted anything in watercolour. I was off exploring other art mediums like silk painting, mosaic and more recently taken up photography again (another medium I had given up after leaving college 30 years ago) which I really enjoy. The watercolours just sat there gathered dust.

It was a close family member that asked me to do a series of photographs of her dog as a Christmas present that nudged me back into the painting again. After I had taken the pictures I thought I would surprise her and do a painting of her beloved Kizzy.

Sitting down and putting the first paint on the paper was daunting, I couldn’t remember any of the painting techniques. But once started I had to carry on; I decided to take the cautious route and lay down a series of washes to build up the colour gradually and only working with a pallet of three colours. I have to admit I was scared of spoiling the picture by over doing it and it seemed to take for ever to complete.

Anyway to cut a long story short I learnt a lot on that first painting:

1. I really loved working in Watercolour again;

2. new painting techniques to paint whiskers & fur; 3. to be confident again in my painting and not to be shy about sharing my work.

I find sitting and painting calming and relaxing, I completely forget all the stresses of my daytime job, which I lovely but it is stressful on occasions.  I would recommend painting and drawing to anyone who wants to unwind especially if you are creating pet portraits from the beautiful faces of peoples much loved animal companions.

I have had a few commissions now and one of the great pleasures for me is watching the expression on the face of someone opening their painting for the first time, it’s a pleasure that money just can’t buy.