Welcome to my first newsletter of 2017 and Happy New Year to you.

After the indulgences of Christmas, January has brought me crashing back to reality with a bump. What with detoxes, the cold, rainy weather and the long, dark nights, I'm yearning for Spring.

But the good news is - the building work started on my garden studio the first week in Jan and I am very excited to say that its finally finished!

I was a bit of concerned at first as it seemed to dominate the garden with the kids trampoline wedged in next to it but once I painted it in a tasteful shade of 'mushroom', it blended in perfectly with the rest of the garden. Now I can lock myself away from the chaos of home and have my own little den. It's so nice to have some space to spread out and it's been a good opportunity to to have a clear out. Now, everything has a place and it feels great to have some order. I'm hoping this fresh and calm environment will encourage me to produce some amazing work this year!

It's been a busy month so far and I've been working on a few commissions, here is one I've just finished. It was for a lovely family – they had seen my portraits from their friend who had commissioned me previously and wanted their 2 daughters captured in charcoal.

Over the Christmas period I had a chance to do some experimenting with different mediums and tried 'monotyping' for the first time. It was a method used by one of my favourite artists Edger Degas who is particularly well known for his beautiful oil and pastel paintings of ballerinas. Its a technique of making a one off transfer onto paper with ink that produces spontaneous, atmospheric images and surface textures that can't be achieved any other way. It can be a bit 'hit and miss' but so much fun :) The result makes a good starting point from which an image can be reworked and revised as Degas did. I have enhanced these petersfield scenes and flowers in pastels.

My weekly art group that has started back and the new year has brought several newcomers along. It's great to welcome such a diverse mix of styles and mediums and there seems to be a real buzz to the group. I'm looking forward to covering lots of topics and demos throughout the year and I have also booked a visit from a model for this term when I'll be tutoring a life drawing session.

Im working on a self portrait that I'm entering for the SkyArts Portrait Painter of the year competition – its a facinating programme presented by Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell. I keep missing the deadline so I'm determined to get my portrait finished and entered in time this year, I only have a week or 2 left so I must get cracking! See you next month.

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