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Monday, 21 December 2009

Wilbur insisted...

This was going to be a beautiful traditional post with a snowy festive image as a backdrop when... Wilbur tapped on my shoulder!
He had lovingly prepared his own wishes and wondered if I would mind sharing them.
His hand writing (very like my own) is pretty poor but his heart is in the right place and I couldn't resist.

From both Wilbur and myself energetic MERRY CHRISTMAS waves and a remarkable, prosperous and spiffing New-Year wishes.
Here's to 2010!

Cheery cheers everyone back next year with a vengeance!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Just a wee note...

You have to study a great deal to know a little.
~Baron de Montesquieu ~

Deep down we most of us have a thirst for knowledge and learning.
Mine never seems to be quenched and ends up turning regularly (sometimes daily) to several sources.

Here are the main influences that serve me with inspirational, incredibly wise and inspired drinks.

Leonardo da Vinci and Peter Paul Rubens to the legacy they left us.
The TED ideas worth spreading website.
Alyson Stanfields' Artbiz coach website and book "I'd rather be in the Studio".
Seth Godin's blog
Robert Genn's Painter Keys

and last but not least life itself.

To all of them I raise a glass of Christmas cheer!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Seth Godin's free ebook "what matters next"

Like a child gripping a special treat, I'm displaying a cheeky grin, clapping my hands and unable to wait to tell the world about it!

Seth Godin (thinking-marketing-author genius) is offering the world a really tasty special treat.

He's put the question "what matters next?" to 70 big writers and thinkers, captured their answers in an e-book and made it free for EVERYONE to download.

The list is impressive and oozes quality:
Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O'Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber. (quote Seth Godin )

Need I say more?

Have a go. Click the link and see if you agree about "what matters next?"

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dancing on the shelf...

My muse is inspired, the pencils scribbling, concentration at an all time high. (Will post all the commissions in the new year.)
During a calm zen moment, out the corner of my eye I spied... dancing on the shelf !

Meet Wilbur and his own special boogying.

Greetings to all of you from a buzzing busy and happy studio.

p.s: Wilbur's arabesques were performed to Robbie's new "Reality Killed the Video Star", can't blame him it's good!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ilya Repin: Russias open secret.

Mid 2008 saw me discover an unforgettable artist.

Ilya Repin.

For days, my mind pondered on how I could do justice to such a master using words, my words.
In all my wisdom, it then struck me … I couldn't!
A master’s work (just like any other piece of art) has to be seen and savoured by each of us, individually.
I did feel, however, up to the challenge of introducing him, of putting down a few stepping stones allowing my readers to approach and tread, for a few minutes at least, a world well worth glimpsing into.
My intermediaries of preference were: pertinent facts, images, explanations, useful Internet links and one or two personal comments.

So here is once again an open door to Ilya Repin’s world which I hope you will experience with the same awe and respect as I have.
Why have I chosen to stand on the threshold of Repins’ world?
His talent will blow you away!

Repin is still not known well enough in the West despite being Russia’s greatest 19th century painter – despite being one of their household names for well over a century.

This makes him, in my mind, one of Russia’s most openly whispered secrets.

Here for your viewing are some of the canvas that turned my head.

(All the images below have been taken fromWikimedia)

If you have enjoyed Repins work, I have more information all drafted out on squidoo. (If you pop over there you will be able to read more about this master's fascinating life.)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Leonardo da Vinci: a little like us?

(c. 1499–1500)—National Gallery, London

What if I told you Leonardo was just like most of us?

I have a brick.
A solid intense very researched 786 page brick.
A brick published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2003.
A brick entitled "Leonardo da Vinci Master Draftsman".

A stunning solid 3.5kg (7.71617 lbs) volume requiring strong arms and an ounce of time to open and read.
Somehow I found both.
Started reading this amazing volume on the master only to get to page 4 and discover "Even during his lifetime, his inability to finish projects was legendary".

As many of you know Leonardo is one of my favorite masters. Turning to him for advice in drapery, learning from his sketching and often tuning in on his philosophical wisdom for inspiration and guidance. (ie: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.~Leonardo da Vinci~)

What a beautiful discovery to find that he, like so many of us, had hundreds of projects unsolved, unfinished.
Reading this, so early on in the book, brought a massive grin to my face followed by the cheeky thought "oh ah yeah! there's hope for me yet! There may well still be a masterpiece underneath all of my unfinished ideas! Woot!""

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Finished equine pencil portrait.Ingredients used.

Graphite on Paper. 36x56 cm.
Sheona Hamilton-Grant

Hurricane is my first drawing this big.
The result was well worth the extra hours.

In this post I thought it would nice to share the set of instructions used for preparing and producing this specific drawing.
(p.s:The ingredients used can be found worldwide, the way in which they are combined comes from trial and error.)


1 sheet of Mellotex paper, whole

3 clutch pencils, filled (6B, 2B &2H)

1/2 piece of Blu-Tack

1 gorgeous subject (1.1 tones/2425 lb)

12 finely detailed digital photographs

XL Foam board

Artist Tape

1 “White Lies” cd

2 Marillion cds

Collectors Edition Pink Floyd

11/2l of drinking water (daily)

2 nespresso coffees (daily)

Preheated studio to 19 ºC = 66.2 ºF.

65 hours of drawing time.

Freshly ground passion.


In a warm studio, over angled drawing board, outline subject and study eyes, movement and light. Add a pinch of passion and bring inner vision to a simmer.

Place paper on foam board. Tape corners with artist tape. Secure and set aside.

Turn on music.

Review sketch and bring to parchment. Begin eyes to get a perfect expression.

On a clear drawing board, under good light, add more work to overall subject. Pin down the darks and gradually stir in the lighter values. Allow the lighter grays melt into the drawing, and then add detail to the mix. Work gently for approximately 65 hours until the values are completely coated with details.

Finish with a pinch of zeal and a crack of freshly ground passion.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hairy Legs can be ... nice?

Long hairy legs really do make for nice viewing...who would have thought? (insider tip: make sure they are from the animal kingdom.)
Another Christmas commission finished and a few more hours spent on the dashing Hurricane.
Wanted to share a detail of the progress. A few more hours still needed tweaking here and there but overall looking OK and then it will be on to the chest and right shoulder muscle.

May well be a few more days before the next update.
The week end is approaching fast and I'm already tucking down taking on tackling position...
Cheery waves to all of you wherever you are!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Adolph von Menzel: pure genius

"Self Portrait"
Adolph von Menzel

The week-ends always do this: knock me for six.
I know they are coming. I know their speed.
I brace myself, hunch down, tuck my elbows in ... tight and wait for impact!
Never fails: the impact gets me wobbling off balance rocking back and forth like a pin, sometimes worse...

This Monday morning balance has been regained.
This is what helped.
Reading about the work of the Master draftsman Adolf Menzel in the latest issue of Drawing Magazine. (Highly informative and insightful article written by Ephraim Rubenstein.)
The discovery of his work is sobering (despite wanting to drink it all in the hope of gaining a portion of his knowledge) . The execution of his work is stunning, the ease at which handles his pencils and paints to be envied and his mastery of light and form spot on.
His work quite simply has to be shared.

"Living Room with artist's Sister"
Adolph von Menzel, 1847

"Balcony Room"
Adolph von Menzel, 1847

"Two Discussing Voters"
Adolph von Menzel, 1849

Adolph von Menzel was born in Breslau, Poland. In 1830, his father moved the family to Berlin and founded a lithgraphy business, in which Menzel worked from the age of fourteen.
Shortly after moving to Berlin, Menzel’s father died unexpectedly leaving a young Menzel as the sole provider for the family. Eventually, Menzel was able to involve other members of the family in the business and pursue an education and career in art. (source: Forgotten Master: Adolf von Menzel )

Only a few images of his work seem to be available to share.
However, if you follow this link to allPaintings you can discover a few more. Look out for "a costume study of a Seated Woman, the Artist's Sister Emilie", "drawing of a Boy" and "Schlafender". Beautiful...

"Studio Wall"
Adolph von Menzel, 1872

Not sure I agree with his interior decorating skills though... These walls would put a dampener on my creativity ...

p.s: for all you Facebook fans I have jumped off the fence and into the FB world. Please feel free to join my fan page. I look forward to meeting you over there. See right column for link

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

An new visual update: Hurricane

Here he is, the big chap with all sorts of strange feature problems.
Notice how the eyes and the nose are wonky. Easy fix (phew!) and not a big worry at this stage as all is still in the "getting it just right" process.
I will ask you however to forgive the quality of the scan. This drawing is so big and getting it to sit on the scanner is pretty challenging. I will have to revert to my Eos's help from now on.

Thanks for popping by.
More to come... soon. Tomorrow is another "no school" day.

Monday, 9 November 2009

One week gone...way too quickly.

It is a certainty, when "no school" days come round, my days begin to turn in very strange circles indeed. (I'm sure all you working mums can totally relate)
The result: weird working hours and very little time for my "puter" and all things cyberly connected.
To cut a long week short: it was a great success on the art front. First three Christmas commissions approved and delivered safely (woot !), new orders come in (2x woot!), went to a great vernissage and have a diminishing stock of Christmas cards.
On the "mummy" front: sadly, been dealing with 2 sickly kiddies with sore tummies and grumpy dispositions.
Nursed, loved and entertained them as best I could. Seems to have done the trick: they're back at school and up to all sorts of tricks.

With "normality" returned my pencils have been actively scribbling. Very happy indeed to be able to catch up on lost time.

In fact, have been working on Hurricane's portrait (visual up-date tomorrow) with a very appropriate "A great day for Freedom" by Pink Floyd in the background.
Half my life since the wall came down ...

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Winter cards made from "Snow"

Nothing like the present to think about the future, the not so distant future: winter and Christmas.
Vision: create a card not too ornate with the whole Christmas theme but still totally at home under a Christmas tree...
"Snow" was ideal.
This is a drawing a did last year from a reference by fellow artist Donna Ridgway. She lives in Montana and never leaves the house without her camera. What exactly made her leave her warm cosy house on that snow blizzard day is a mystery... However, she captured shots only my imagination would ever see. Thank you.

Pencil on Paper
Sheona Hamilton-Grant. All rights reserved.

250 Euros

One of my bullet points (now ticked) on the "to-do-list": Christmas cards. Took it a wee step further and created winter cards.
Ideal for the entire winter .

They have been printed on great quality Strathmore white Deckel card (acid free, 5"x 6 7/8" (12.7 x 17.4 cm)) with matching envelopes.
Deliberately left blank inside with made to measure packaging designed for that all important finishing touch.
The look: tastefully & classic.

A limited stock is available.
The note cards come as a set of 6 (20$/ 15 Euros) or as a single card (4.20$/3 Euros).

Be the first to get your winter cheers out in style by purchasing your own either directly through me ( or through my Etsy store.

The most beautiful simple way to send a sunny smile, a warm hug or blow a Christmas kiss.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Mini progress on Hurrican portrait

Zoomed in and cropped: due to the size of the piece this is all my scanner could cope with (sadly all I could get done this week)
I did however finish another Christmas commission, sort out paperwork and miscellaneous data before the school break next week, so all in all it has been a successful and busy week.

Hurricane is coming along smoothly (if still a little bit bland and without much muscle shape.) This is has all been rendered in light layers of 2B on Mellotex paper.

Must admit to wondering if I have not bitten off (size-wise) more than I can chew draw...
One thing for sure: there's nothing like a new challenge and pushed boundaries to keep an artist on hers toes...
Thanks for popping by. Have a great week-end.

Monday, 26 October 2009

A horse, a horse yet another horse...

Have you all started thinking of Christmas and tackling it's yearly challenges?
Affirmative at this end.
Christmas commissions: the challenge facing Black on Grey on White.
Keeping the surprise intact implies keeping the image and drawing hidden and therefore depriving my blog of a substantial amount of material.

To counter this, I have started a large new piece (26x61cm = 10"x24").
A "full frontal" view.
My targeted subject Hurrican.
In August I was granted a private photo session with this gem of an equine(big thank you to the Warendorf National Stud) .
150 frames to work from . Really can't help thinking this is the first in many Hurrican portraits.
Work will be done in-between commissions.
Slow progress a certainty.
Updates a promise.
Until then, feel free to get know this big chap: he has his own website.
It's in German but a horse is a horse...right?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Mathieu Kessels: le Deluge.

One of my vivid summer memories comes in form of a neoclassical sculpture.
Discreetly posed ( in Brussels' Royal Art Museum) between Jacques Louis David's Death of Marat and the grandiose works of Rubens, "Le Deluge", by Matthieu Kessels, stopped me in my tracks.
Hypnotised, I circled this work of art.
Encompassing every detailed fold, hair and muscle.
Desperately trying not to intrude on the intimate pain so present.
Unable to look away.
A sculpture so powerful and beautiful its image burned my memory .
The strong balanced composition, the fluidity of the lines, the interwoven movement, the raw pain, the simple drama all quite simply... set in stone.

Mathieu Kessels was born in Maastricht on the 20 May 1784, he died in Rome in on the 3rd of March 1836. A sculptor with a low profile but incredibly hypnotic works.

(b Maastricht, 20 May 1784; d Rome, 3 March 1836). Flemish sculptor. He gave up his apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Venlo to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He then went to Hamburg and subsequently stayed in St Petersburg between 1806 and 1814, where he probably trained with the Antwerp sculptor Joseph Camberlain (1756-1821). In 1814 he returned to the Low Countries and spent several months at Anne-Louis Girodet's studio in Paris, where he exhibited at the Salon of 1819. In the same year he went to Rome, where his terracotta St Sebastian Martyr (sketch in Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.) won the first prize in a competition organized by Antonio Canova. During this period he began working in the studio of Bertel Thorvaldsen, whose pupil and assistant he became. From the beginning of the 1820s in his numerous variations on the theme of the Diskobolos (plaster; examples in Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.), Kessels demonstrated his devotion to Classical and Hellenistic sculpture as interpreted by Thorvaldsen according to the doctrines of Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Among his numerous classically minded patrons was William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, who commissioned two marble bas-reliefs, Day and Night (1819), and Diskobolos Preparing to Throw (1828; all Chatsworth, Derbys). In the late 1820s Kessels renounced the pure classicism of Thorvaldsen in favour of the more seductive style of Canova and the pathos of the Italian Baroque, as in his monument to the Comtesse de Celles (marble, 1828; Rome, S Giuliano dei Belgi). The romantic emphasis of his Flood Scene (plaster, c. 1833; Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.) differentiates it from the works of his last period, which are imbued with religious sentimentality. In Rome Kessels taught the Liege sculptors Louis Jehotte (c. 1803-84) and Eugene Simonis, who exerted an influence through their teaching at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. On Kessels's death his studio, having been inventoried by Thorvaldsen, was acquired by the Belgian government and transferred to the Musee d'Art Moderne, Brussels.
Photos by Brett

Thursday, 15 October 2009

New cold weather look.

An early morning -3 Celsius saw hats and scarves flying and a grumpy mum clearing frosted car windows.
Autumn has packed its bags and opened the door to winter...a whole month too early.
I so disagree and am thinking up ways of coaxing it back for a few more weeks ...
Should I come up with no plans: at least Jess is ready and waiting!

p.s: Jess was dressed with the scarf by our youngest. She was worried the wee "fluff ball" might catch cold... All I could do was catch my camera and try to avoid giggle shakes while shooting...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Trying to define art...

Every now and then I take the time to "flick" through the posts of my blog.
I enjoy remembering, pondering and through it find inspiration.

This one the posts that got me rethinking and for once agreeing with myself.

My small attempt at answering the massive question:

What is Art?

What is art?

This must be one of the most controversial and complex questions to answer.
Controversial in its subjectivity and complex if only by the number of art forms there are.
This actually means answers (usually long and longer) can be given at so many different levels and in no definite way.
Having said this, answers have been given and in quite a large way.
So why ask I hear you think.
Well, I believe it is an important question for every artist to think about at least once and to attempt to give a coherent answer.

So I will put my thinking cap on and probably bore you all to tears.

OK here goes.
If you don't want to read any further you could always check out the wikipedia, free encyclopedia for their definition and answer to Art.

A spontaneous answer would be the classic: "it's a fantastic means of expression". How shallow is that?

Start again.
Art, is something comes straight from the heart.
It is something which comes alive without boundaries. making it unlimited.
Art is something that takes your mind places, your heart places.
In my case it has been a steady discovery of myself, a wonderful way of facing fear and dealing with life. A reason for stepping up to reality.
Art is the reward for patience, deep emotion and gritty determination.
Art causes the viewer to react, to feel, to think.
It connects with the viewer and becomes something that you (the viewer) cannot take your eyes off. Something that stays anchored in ones memory.
Great art stirs thought and something very deep within.
There is something intangible that makes it special and at the end of the day it really boils down to what we like.

Have I come any closer to answering the question of what makes art art? Maybe not but one thing for sure is that I have been pondering about the answer for days now. Focusing on making some kind of sense of the ramifications the question has lead to.
The nice thing is that there is no wrong answer and I feel as though have dotted my I' and crossed my T's.

Back to the drawing board to let loose some of that gritty determination...
Have a great week-end.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

"Legacy" featured in Alyson Stanfield's Artbizblog.

Boasting yet another great big proud smile: Legacy is featured on Alyson Stanfield's Artbiz blog and in her Art Marketing Action newsletter.
Thank you very much for the honour and the real-time fab feeling.

Alyson is an artist advocate, an approachable art-marketing consultant and the author of the successful ( in my case well-read and earmarked) "I'd rather be in the studio".
(If you don't have a copy. Easy fix: available directly through or Amazon. I doubt any artist in possession of this "must" will willingly sell their copy !)

When you have a moment (and if you haven't done so already) check out Alyson's blog here
Highly recommendable.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Legacy - New graphite equine drawing.

He's magnificent.
He's striking.
He had to be drawn.
Had to get the pencils to "comb" through the tick wavy mane and tail. Render the muscles, the faint traces of sweat...

The reference for this new piece was kindly provided by friend and photographer extraordinaire Juliet Harrison. (If you are seeking for inspiration trundle over to her website Juliet Harrison Photography ... a must!)

This is a large piece, completed over the summer months, in between servings of ice cream, visits to France and tin men on stilts.
A labour of love, an indispensable support maintaining an all important stability and sanity during the happy chaotic summer months.

The result is powerful, strong and full of movement.
Just right ...

Graphite on Paper. 2009. 34x37 cm
Sheona Hamilton-Grant. All rights reserved.
Inquire for Purchase

Monday, 21 September 2009

"Quality Time" wins 2 awards!!!!

Quality Time
Pencil on paper, 2008
Sheona Hamilton-Grant. All rights reserved

Quality Time has won!!!!
1st place in the Charcoal/Ink/Pencil category and 1st Place in the Human realism category in this years American Arts Awards.

A "double wammy". I am hugely chuffed, honoured and ... speechless.
So much so not another word will be said and I'll continue strutting around for the rest of the day as proud as a peacock....
OK .... maybe just a very loud whispered yipeeeeee, pencils rock!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Beyond. New graphite canine drawing

This week's work took me off on a tangent, a good tangent but a tangent nevertheless.
Realising I needed another entry for the up and coming CAG Helping Paws online show, I got down to business.
Love the mystery of the piece the way so much is said yet so much left unsaid...
Applied my lessons learned from the master Da Vinci once again in the drapery of the dog's blanket.

Beyond is for sale unframed (framing is easily organised ).
20% of the proceeds of the sale will be donated to the DCGR.
Dumfries & Cumbria Greyhound Rescue is based in Scotland helping Greyhounds escape their doomed future after their racing careers end.
This is worthy cause I am proud to support the best way I can: through my art.

Who knows maybe one day I'll be able to adopt one of these thoroughbred canines myself ...
Until then I proudly present Beyond... the dog that never turned round.


Graphite on Paper.29x19 cm
Sheona Hamilton-Grant. All rights reserved

260 Euros

Monday, 14 September 2009

Trains just like Thomas...

Saturday, a day of steam, soot and fun.
These glorious old-timers live down the road.... just down passed the cows.

p.s: website address
If you are ever down this way a great way to take a wee trip down memory lane.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Calle. Equine Head portrait finished and signed.

Calle is now finished and the portrait approved by his owner.(Yippee!)
So, he's off to the framers before making his end journey to Germany .

As with all 2xbridled head portraits, I get my "knickers in a twist" when it comes to all the cheek pieces, throat lashes and nose band. After a while though, managed to straightened out knickers and crossed eyes, followed the lines of logic and completed the bridle.

Interestingly enough most of the drawing was done using a 2B (layered). A few parts were done on the nose using an F.

Here you can see the blank space waiting for some attention. The head piece and the nose band are rendered. Really left the bridle to the bitter end!

Pencil on Paper. 23x27 cm.
Sheona Hamilton-Grant. 2009
All rights reserved.

Another week-end is just round the corner.
Once again loads of quality familly time on the agenda here.
Wishing you the very same wherever you are.