Dorset Art Weeks 2018

It’s that time again, when artists all over Dorset prepare – with varying degrees of pressure and panic, for Dorset Art Weeks.
This will be the 6th time I have taken part in a variety of venues, including my home, an antiques showroom and Gaunts house, and have also helped the area co-ordinator by distributing all the marketing material to the local artists, ie brochures, banners and road signs etc. We even have little badges this year!

I am pleased to say, this hansome beast is coming back on loan for the exhibition

For anyone not familiar with this event, it is a truly amazing opportunity to look through the brochure, choose the artists that you wish to see, and travel around the Dorset countryside over 16 days tracking them down. Many people plan days out around the venues too.

I have a bit of an admission to make… I had this grand plan of working intensively creating 30 new still life paintings after Christmas however… there was an unseasonal influx, or I should say deluge of new commissions ordered. I completed most of them, had a bit of a rest and then – another deluge. As I write this I have 15 in, not counting the 2 that went out last week. That’s my excuse anyway. I did manage to complete 8 new still life paintings, and have finished some other previous ones too. Because I didn’t take part last time, I have plenty to fill the walls so it will all be just fine, she says calmly.

If you would like a brochure, they are available almost everywhere including many Tourist Information Centres and cafes across Dorset. I have some too, if you let me know fairly promptly as they are flying off the shelf.

The Valentine Gallery will be open 11-5 every day from the 26th May – 10th June except Mondays and Tuesdays.
For more details visit the Event Page

Alfred Stevens – Sculptor. Blandford 1817 – 1875

The famous sculptor Alfred Stevens was born in Blandford 200 years ago, there is a blue plaque on the wall of his house opposite my gallery. His artistic talent was spotted early, and large sums of money were found to send him to train in Florence from the age of 16 where he stayed for many years. The result of that training can be seen in a current exhibition of his works at the Blandford Town Museum (see below for more details). His drawings in particular are incredible, such beautiful and descriptive line-work. At the opening I asked whether I could sit and draw the lion sculptures and also create drawings and a painting of how he may have looked based on the bust, using colour references from his self-portrait. So far I have completed 3 lion drawings, this is a charcoal – the proud way he sits and the big paws and ruff remind me of our dear old Maine Coon Puss-cat. The original sculptures were made to go on the railings outside the British Museum in London, although they now reside inside. Stevens also designed the monument of the Duke of Wellington in St Paul’s Cathedral.
There will be a lecture about his life and work on the 23rd September, see below for details or visit the website. I highly recommend you visit this exhibition at the museum, Bere’s Yard. Blandford, Dorset DT11 7HQ. Tel 01258 450388. Open Monday to Saturday, 10-4 daily until 31st October 2017. The museum if full of fabulous items and information about our beautiful Georgian town and is well worth a visit.

I will be there at random times, please contact me on 07985 027495 if you would like to find out when.
I would like to thank Sylvia Hixson-Andrews for making this project possible, and for everyone who has made me so welcome there.

Christmas Orders:
On a different note – it is that time of year again. If anyone is thinking of ordering a commissioned piece of artwork as a Christmas gift, please let me know as soon as possible as I am about to start advertising, and it is always good if I can be organised and space out the work as much as possible. The slightly daunting thing about this time of year is that all the deadlines to complete work are – Christmas! After Christmas I will be mostly working on a new exhibition for Dorset Art Weeks 2018.

Back to the Real World

So it is with great sadness that I come to the end of my current stint of training, I have created 6 paintings at the Sarum Studio, 3 of which are destined for the bin, and 3 turned out surprisingly well, including the one below. They are all of the same model – I was surprised that my teacher let us work together after the first one as we were really quite chatty, in a mostly quiet room full of concentrating artists, I am already banned from working with another artist for the same reason, we had far too much fun! (Whilst working hard of course)


It has been hugely challenging , I feel as though I have learned so much from the tuition, and I am excited about putting my new skills into practice in future, I will definitely continue my studies when I have saved up again and already miss everyone there.

It is strange being back in Blandford again, and re-opening the gallery which was looking terribly neglected, but I return to many new exciting projects, alongside an attempt to get fit, oh and lots of paperwork.

I have had some interesting photoshoots over the years. I did an outdoor shoot for 2 good sized portraits alongside their dogs near London this February, brrrrr, frozen hands. One of the models – a huge Alsatian guard dog was definitely considering me for dinner. The people were lovely and welcoming and gave us a very tasty lunch, so a great day was had all round.


After celebrating Easter at The Sarum Studio with a pair of bunny ears, four furry guests turned up at the gallery in the shape of the most adorable rescue bunnies. I was only expecting two, and the challenge of getting bunnies to pose together took quite a while, as they happily hopped around.
It was so enjoyable, I would definitely consider a career as a professional bunny photographer; I am looking forward to painting them and will post a blog when they are finished.

I completed another military photoshoot too, neither chilly or fluffy, variety is the spice of life!

Loving Salisbury!

The end of week six at the Old Masters training, following our half term the week before – a much needed rest from pretty much everything. I have ramped up my hours working on commissions for customers at the Wren Hall too. I do this before and after my training each day. Starting artwork before 8am was initially quite traumatic for this night-owl, but I am starting to get used to it now, and enjoying working high up in the building, with old leaded windows overlooking the stunning Salisbury Cathedral. The tutor Nick is trying to get the heating working up there, but I don’t mind working in the near Arctic conditions – the room has it’s own climate much like my home! The odd hot drink to hold when my hands start to go numb works wonders.

I booked a tour of the cathedral tower with a friend from the course, if anyone ever gets the chance to do this, I highly recommend it. Apart from the almost unbelievable facts about how it was built during the medieval times, the views from the spire are just incredible. The building seems a lot higher once you get up there. Around 80,000 tons of materials were used, and apart from the spire, it was built in just 38 years! The medieval transport could only carry 1 ton per trip…. After climbing many many steps, the inside of the spire was a seemingly higgledy piggledy tangle of huge pieces of wood, and very tall indeed.

It has also been a week of new orders – I have 3 more confirmed and there are a lots which will unfold over the next few months, a few photo-shoots need an outdoor backdrop when the weather improves and spring is here.

I am planning more sleep this week, and to get on top of my paperwork, I blink and seem to have another 5 tasks to get through. The ‘things to do’ lists are quite long but I am on it! Surprisingly considering that February is my least favourite month, and the urge to hibernate is quite strong. Sitting at home typing this with the wood-burner gorgeous warmth I am thankful for being cosy.

And no art blog is complete without an image of my work, so here is an oil painting of a very cute dog, 12″ x 16″. The photo-shoot happened in the gallery, and it was such a hot day last summer. The requirement was for his mouth to be closed, however, with the sun streaming in my huge windows, and the dog having just come back from a walk, he flopped on the floor and spent nearly the entire time panting with his tongue hanging out. I luckily captured the split second when he was looking just right.

You can see him and more animal portraits including a newly added image of Canford Cliffs being ridden by top jockey Richard Hughes on the gallery page.

Annabelle Valentine

Pet portrait of a dog in Oils

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