Art Exhibitions – do I or don’t I?

Art Exhibitions – are they a necessary evil?


These are the questions I keep asking myself as I get ready for my first ever exhibition at Hillier & Skuse Gallery on the Gold Coast.  I have never really been able to get a large enough body of work together to hold my own exhibition but this has come along and there will be around 27 different artists all exhibiting in the same gallery.  This has given me the opportunity to try an exhibition out with my limited number of works and see if it pays off.  The cost for a 2mtr wall space is $300 along with the gallery keeping 20% of all sales.   Now as I am new to this I am not sure if this was a good deal or not but I am thinking it is, although time will tell if many people actually visit the exhibition.  What sold me on being part of this is it is running for nearly a 3 month period across christmas and is at a gallery in the queensland tourist capital of the Gold Coast.  With the large amount of artists involved in the exhibtion also comes a large amount of their family and friends that will visit plus each individual artist should be doing there own marketing campaign.   It is also going to be marketed by the great art tv show “Colour in your Life” so with all these pluses i would expect plenty of visitors through the door.

Now I volunteer at another Art Gallery local to me and the price for hiring it out is $150 per week.  So over the same amount of time as the gold coast exhibition the cost would build up to be much higher.  I know that this price if for the entire gallery but for someone like me who has really only been painting seriously for a couple of years then my body of work is not big enough to fill an entire gallery space.  Actually another bonus with this Gold Coast gallery is that we can change our paintings throughout the course of the exhibition which not only helps out the artist to get more work hung but also makes it more exciting for visitors.

The only downside I can see is that my work is possibly tied up for a long period and if nothing sells i am out of pocket $300.  But in saying that I have no other plans for my work to be hung elsewhere anyway and hopefully it will be worth $300 just for getting my name out there a bit.  I know I will have plenty of business cards on hand with all my details and links to social media etc.

I think my biggest worry about signing up for this and over the period of the exhibition is to be able to produce enough works.  I really don’t want the same work hanging in my space for the entire 3 months and if by chance any of my pieces sell, I need to make sure i can replace them.  So if anything, this will actually give me a kick up the arse to get more work finished and out the door.

I will keep you all posted with how I go with this as a first time exhibitor.  Any questions or if you have any tips for me just leave a comment below.  I would love to hear your opinions on Art Galleries and Exhibitions.

Next week we will be looking at Reference images and what equipment I use etc.

Happy Painting 🙂

Kerri xx



Art Technique – Fur

Okay so here we go,  I will try and explain how I achieve a Fur look to my  animal portraits.

I think this is much more achievable in Pastels than most other mediums due to their softness, bleopard-furut the basic principals apply to all.  To start with you need to figure out your Light, Medium and Darks.

In this L14569146_10208432480422850_566614716_neopard Drawing I used basically these range of colours in both pastel pencils and soft pastels.  I always use about 20 different colours but these are the basic Light , Medium and Dark range.

Once I have figured out what colours I’m using I then put down a fairly solid cover in the Medium range.  This then gives me a base that I can work the fur up with by adding the various darks and lights as pictured below.fur-stripFor thick fur you need to look at the shapes within the fur, try not to look at it as heaps of fine lines,  you really need to try and section it into clumps and work on a small area at a time.  For short hair I find that it works best to build up the colours with short strokes but always make sure that these strokes are going in the direction of the fur.

Remember that fur strokes are not perfect so this is crucial in making your fur look realistic.  Try not to use repetitive strokes in a straight line.  Although if you step back and it looks too straight you can always go over this to fix it.  The beauty of Pastels 🙂


This above demonstration is very basic but you can see the use of the dark, medium and light in giving the fur depth.  You can build this up and up by increasing the amount of difference between the darkest darks and the lightest lights, however too much can make it look clumpy, kinda like wet fur, which the bottom demo is getting close too.  For softer fur you wouldn’t use the extreme ends of the dark and lights but rather use a smaller range of middle colours as below.

img_7888I will try and explain better in the steps as shown above.

  1.  Lay a ground of a medium colour with some darks.  You really need to study your reference image here as it is crucial to get an idea of where the darks will be right from the outset, you will make your life a whole lot easier.
  2. Its a bit hard to see in the next image but still using a medium tone colour (a bit lighter than the background) you can start to mark out where the clumps of fur will go.  Again this is another important stage.  Be sure not to make the marks too uniform.  Pay close attention to which way the hair is moving.
  3. Once you are pretty happy with your sections of fur its time to start adding some dark to give the fur depth.  So this is added where the clumps of fur would recede into the animals skin, causing shadows.  So basically anywhere you think a shadow would form you can add some dark.  Make sure you go lightly here as it is best to build up the layers rather than try and get it dark in one go.
  4. Next for the lights.  The lights should go on the top and ends of the fur clumps,  wherever you think the light would be hitting the fur.  Again go lightly so you can build up those layers.
  5. In this step I have added another medium to dark colour.  Now you have your darks and lights marked in you can start to see where the fur is falling.  By adding some other medium to dark colours helps to create a more realistic look.  So at this stage I just lightly add a few strokes here and there as I think is needed.  Remember to always step away from your work to judge this.
  6. The final layer.  This is where I would add my lightest highlights just on the sections that I think the light would be hitting the strongest.  I will also add some squiggly fine hair lines here to really bring out that realism.

Ok well if you can’t understand what the hell i’m talking about here just leave me a comment and we’ll chat haha.  I think I have kinda covered all the do’s and don’ts that I can think of so until next week.

Happy Painting

Kerri xx

Well I figure I should at least have one blog post about me so you can all get to know who I am and what got me into Art.  Well theres no sob story or cliff hanging suspension in my life history haha.  I had a pretty normal middle class upbringing in a fairly small community (at the time) north of Brisbane, Qld Australia.

I think my love for animals definitely came from my childhood,  I was pretty renowned for bringing any stray home, sometimes not even a stray.  I remember clearly buying a cat from the pet shop and telling my mum it followed me home hahaha.  And my friends pets seemed to always be having babies so of course I would try my hardest to convince my parents that they really needed a home.  Luckily my mum and dad were also animal lovers and were pretty cool with it.  So I’ve had my fair share of Dogs, Cats, Birds, Mice, Rabbits, Fish, Lizards, Hermit Crabs.  All the standard pets for a kid.

I think Art was also always in my blood.  While my friends were out playing I would come up with an excuse to stay home and draw.  I loved copying images from the Sunday Newspaper comic strips.  I could draw any of them straight from memory and Snake Tales by SOLS was by far my favorite.  I even used to make little plastercine models of him.


I of course took Visual Art as an OP subject through to Year 12 but decided not to further that Art education by going to University.  I think mainly because I didn’t really have anyone pushing me to do that and none of my group of friends were taking study further than yr 12.  We were all just glad to get out of there haha.

I did however end up working as a Face Painter at Expo 88 in Brisbane and then later became a Signwriter which I have been ever since, with my own business working along side my husband of 25 years.  So even though I do not have any formal training in Art, I have definitely stayed in the field, which had always been my dream.

I hope I’m not boring you with my history but like I said its nothing to write home about 🙂

Even though art was incofolk-artrporated in my daily job as a Signwriter, I think I truly started to take it more seriously when I opened a Market Stall selling hand painted picture frames and house signs.  I would paint a little frog, lizard, kookaburra or anything really onto old rustic timber and turn them into frames.  It was really a form of Folk Art actually but it gave me the bug to get back into my own Art.  So once my 3 kids were in bed I would sit up each night and paint these little animals to my hearts content.  I don’t really consider Folk Art as a serious form of painting, its more of a craft but it was a great stepping stone for me to actually believe I could become an Artist.  I think everyone has to go through these phases in their own artistic journey to get to where they want to ultimately be.

So I spent many years playing around with Acrylics and then progressed into Oils and Graphite.  I really do love all mediums but I don’t think I actually felt like I was good enough to enter any competitions or approach galleries until I discovered Pastels, which was only about 3 years ago.  So after 20 odd years of playing around and learning different Mediums I think I have finally found the one I am meant to draw with.

As an Artist you can never stop learning and over my years I have attended a number of workshops and lessons by a varied group of wonderful tutors in many different mediums and styles.  The eye opener though was a 5 lesson workshop with David Wells,  I saw his course advertised while I was taking Oil Lessons with Marcel at catBrisbane Painting Classes, the flyer showed a beautiful realistic dog portrait and I thought well here is something that suits me,  I would love to learn how to draw animals that look that realistic, even though I had never really heard of or tried Soft Pastels before I decided to give it a go.  And from that first lesson I was hooked.  It just felt natural to me and I love that by building up the layers of pastel, you can achieve a softness to the fur that actually looks like you could run your hands through it,  there is no other medium that can give this effect,  plus you can get your hands dirty, kind of like finger painting really 🙂   So here are my first ever pastels from my lessons with David.


I am definitely in love with this medium and since then have painted 6 Dingoes, 2 Leopards, 1 Tiger, 1 Cheetah and 1 Red Hot Poker Flower and am currently working on a Cassowary, which you can check the progress of all my work on my facebook page.

My next phase will be to take it to the next level and become a full-time Artist.  Hopefully if all goes to plan, by this time next year I should be living the dream and producing a hell of a lot more work.  It is quite difficult working a full-time job and then trying to work on your passion at night, as I’m sure many of you would understand, so this can’t come quick enough for me.

I have plenty of ideas in the pipeline so stay tuned for exciting things to come.  Next week I will start to talk about techniques etc. 🙂


Kerri xx

What is it about Dingoes?

Welcome all to my first official Blog Post.  And what better subject to start my blogging than Dingoes.  If anyone knows of my work, they will know I have a love for these beautiful animals and that transfers into my paintings as probably my favorite subject.  I love the challenge of trying to get that special Dingo gaze into their eyes and I always feel extremely happy and satisfied once I have finished a piece and he’s looking back at me with that renown intelligence.

I saw my first Fraser Island Dingo around 28 years ago and have loved them ever since.   We went on a camping trip over to the island as most Australians do, if not at least many Queenslanders would of been there.  It is such a special and unique place with so much natural beauty it astounds you and the added bonus of seeing many healthy, happy Dingoes around the island made it that much more special.

These were the days when there was plenty of food on the island for them, everyone interacted along side them as it should be.   The small town of Eurong pretty much had its own Dingo that would welcome visitors and generally just hang out around the town which gave tourists plenty of photo opportunities.  Unfortunately as the tourism inclined, so too did the problems with the Dingoes.  There have been many wrong decisions along with some right decisions by our government regarding how to manage the growing tourist population while keeping the Dingoes best interest at heart.  This has always been a much heated ongoing debate among locals and government.  I have no idea how to solve it and will leave that up to the experts but I will say that as an Australian who loves Fraser Island and its native occupants I believe we can still live along side these guys as we used to, with the powers that be learning from the mistakes they have made with the island management, stricter penalties for tourists who don’t respect the Dingoes or the island and take advice from the indigenous people of this sacred place.


I painted my first Dingo (Misunderstood) ‘Who’s the real threat’ around 3 years ago now when I was first introduced to Soft Pastels. I had just completed a short course on Pastel Painting with Artist  David Wells   which opened my eyes up to this wonderful medium.

I just seemed to take to it perfectly, it suits my style of drawing and I don’t have to clean up anything (yay)  or set up anything, If I have a spare 10 minutes I can just go and work on it for the entire 10 minutes.  I have a busy schedule so this is perfect for me.

I had heard about an Art Competition held by WABA in Canberra, the theme was ‘threatened species’ and I had seen a photo of a particular Fraser Island Dingo on the internet by Black Hat Photography and I knew immediately that I wanted to draw it for this contest, with Craig’s permission to use his photo as a reference I knew it would be the perfect fit for the brief and what better way to spread the word, that these guys get a bad wrap and maybe we are the real threat.

If you look closely at this guys eyes you can see the image of a 4 wheel drive vehicle reflected back, which symbolizes ‘human’ and all the problems they bring to the island with them.misunderstood-copy  As this was only the 2nd large pastel piece I had done, I was hesitant to enter but with encouragement from friends and family I did.  You can imagine how thrilled I was when I got a call from WABA to tell me I had won best use of Media as well as they had sold my painting along with some prints.  I was hooked, I new I had found my medium and have happily stuck with it for the last  3 years and am happy to say I have now painted 6 Dingo Portraits and they have all sold within a week of being finished.

So my advice is to keep at it and try many and varied mediums and I guarantee when you find the one you are meant to work with you will know straight away, everything will just click.  Now I am not saying it is easy, each of my works has around 80 hours involved, but you will happily spend that time perfecting each piece when you find the medium you just love to work with.

For those who would fullsizerenderlike to read more about the Fraser Island Dingoes, you can go to     Save the Fraser Island Dingo and find out all about them.  I love trying to donate to these guys when I can because they really are making a difference and they only have the Dingo and Islands best interest at heart.

I hope you all have enjoyed this little insight into why I paint Dingoes (A LOT haha) and if you have any questions make sure to leave me a comment.  I’d love to know if anyone else has been over to Fraser and what your thoughts are on the Dingoes.


Enjoy your week

Kerri xx





First Post ‘WooHoo’

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

If you are reading this, thank-you for taking the time to visit my Blog.  This will be short and sweet as this is only a quick run through of what you can expect to see on here.

‘A Brush with Nature’ is where I want to have you all get to know me as well as I would love to get to know all of you guys, so please leave a comment if you have any questions at all.img_7161

I am hoping to make weekly posts discussing my Art, my process, product reviews, different mediums, we’ll talk about my favorite artists and how they inspire me, and pretty much anything art related that I can think of.  I’m also open to suggestions from you guys too.

Every now and then I will also include a link to a pdf or short video tutorial explaining some of my processes in more detail.  You can also become a Patron if you want full length tutorials etc on my Patreon site.

So hang on to your hats guys and enjoy the ride.

Kerri xx