Saturday, December 31, 2011

Still Life

Apple and grapes in graphite pencil.  Drew this freehand from one of my own photos.  I may do this again in coloured pencil and also try it in oil paint.  I've never used oil paint before so it will be pretty challenging I think but I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Basset finished!

Finished the sleeping basset this morning, really happy with it.  The overall look is just what I wanted.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Basset progress

after 3rd drawing session, still more to do....

Friday, December 23, 2011


I decided to go with coloured pencil and worked on the background all afternoon, I'm fairly happy with it.  Can't wait to get started on the basset now.  I'm not so confident I have the right colours in my pencil set, might have to invest in a larger set I think...

Preliminary sketch

A preliminary sketch of a sleeping basset hound.  A member of Flickr kindly let me use their photo as a reference.  I'm really pleased how this sketch turned out, drawn completely freehand.  In the past I have measured and used other aides for some of my drawings to help with proportions but I feel my freehand skills are improving and I feel so much more satisfied with it knowing I drew it just using my own eye.

I'm not sure if I am going to finish this drawing just with graphite or use coloured pencil, can't decide...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coloured version

Here is the coloured version.  Coloured pencils.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dog eyes

Another assignment for the Pet Portraits Diploma, dog eyes in graphite pencil.  I'll be doing these eyes again in coloured pencil tomorrow hopefully.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Here is a little sketch I did today of a Chinchilla.  I love these animals, I wish we had them in Australia.  I liked how this turned out so I might try drawing it again on better quality paper.

Peacock Butterfly

I bought a set of Prismacolor colour pencils the other week and finally got a chance to sit down and try them out.  This is a peacock butterfly.  The pencils feel nice and soft to use, maybe too soft as I found the leads break easily.  If I really get into using this medium I might search for another brand, something that is a bit sturdier.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Julia Kay's Portrait Party

I recently joined a Flickr group called Julia Kay's Portrait Party where artists contribute photos of themselves for other artists to draw/paint.  Here are a few sketches I have done of other artists so far.  It's really fun and will be good to improve my portrait skills.

Here's the link to the group if anyone is interested in checking it out:

Antique doll

Here is a graphite drawing I did of one of my antique dolls.  This is actually one of the assignments for the Pet Portraits Diploma.  We had to draw something that says something about us, not necessarily an animal, so I decided to draw one of my dolls.  I've been collecting antique dolls for nearly 3 years now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

......and the winner is!

Penni, congratulations on winning my blog giveaway.  Your name was drawn out of a hat by my 5 year old son :)  I have sent you an email.  Thank you to every one who entered.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Another exercise finished for the Pet Portraits Diploma, a labrador in graphite pencil on watercolour paper.  I find rendering the fur particularly difficult but I'm pleased with this piece.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Giveaway!

Would you like a chance to win this cute 2 inch tubby teddy?  All you have to do is leave a comment below to be in the running!  A random name will be chosen from the list on Wednesday 23rd November (Australian time).  Winner will be announced on this blog and on my facebook fanpage.  Please pass this on to anyone who you think might be interested.   Good luck everybody!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ethel Oliver

I discovered a beautiful antique photo of an actress from the early 1900s on Flickr this morning and knew I just had to draw her.  With kind permission from the owner of the photo I set about drawing her in graphite pencil, this is the result.  I'm really pleased with it.  This is the first time actually that I have drawn a portrait in graphite, I've used charcoal a few times and I think now I prefer graphite.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pet Portraits Diploma

Very excited to report that I received my course material from the London Art College and I have now commenced the Pet Portraits Diploma!  Typically it takes students 1 year to complete, I think I may be a bit quicker than that but we'll see :)  Here is one of my first assignments that I am planning on submitting.  A pug dog in graphite pencil.

New Website!

It's been a while since I posted on my blog.  I now have a new website hosted through Artspan.  Please visit at  I hope you like it.  It took me many hours to set it all up and I'm really happy with it, easy to maintain too.  If you are interested in joining my mailing list, please click on "Notify me of new art by this artist" link that can be seen at the bottom on each page of my website.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eastern Rosella (again!)

Spent all afternoon drawing another Rosella.  This time on good quality watercolour paper.  This is the result!

Eastern Rosella

Preliminary sketch and colour study of an Eastern Rosella.  These are my favourite birds and I'm lucky enough to get them in my yard sometimes.  I did this with watercolour pencils in a sketchbook but unfortunately the paper didn't handle the water very well, so I'll be doing another version of this soon using proper watercolour paper :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Nest

I should be working on my canvas but had this idea for a new drawing.  I'm calling this "The Nest".  Pastel pencils on pastel paper.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Collage done

Did the background collage yesterday.  I plan on painting the figure and chair entirely in acrylic paint.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New canvas

I'm going to start a new collage/acrylic paint piece, this is the outline of what I'm going to do.  I'm hoping to start on the collage work today. This is a very similar pose to my watercolour pencil piece "The Cat Lady".  The original idea for the pose came from a Modigliani painting I saw.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Here is my first attempt at drawing a dog, a short haired Dachshund.  I used pastel pencils on pastel paper.  I loved drawing the eyes and nose the most (and I think it probably shows), the fur I found challenging and also selecting what colours to use, but overall I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  I just love those eyes!

I discovered a pet portraiture course the other day at the London Art College.  It's a 1 year course and I think I'm going to take it!  They accept overseas students and you can work through the course at your own pace and learn how to draw and paint animals in a variety of mediums.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My youngest in charcoal

I'm really quite happy with the way this portrait of Lachlan turned out.  I drew it last night and it took about 1.5 hours.  I can see now though that I have elongated his features, so that is something I am going to have to work on when drawing children.  I used Faber Castell charcoal pencils on pastel paper, tortillions and paper towel for blending.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pastel portrait

I decided to have another go at Thomas' portrait but this time with my pastel pencils.  I didn't quite capture his likeness with this one but I enjoyed drawing it so much.  I'm quite pleased with how the skin tone looks, I think there are about 7 colours in the skin alone.  I'm really glad I decided to buy the full set of Faber Castell pencils because I think I'm going to be using these quite a lot :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Charcoal portrait

On the weekend I bought the magazine "International Artist", what a fantastic magazine and so full of inspiration!  I was particularly inspired by the charcoal portraits of Ellen Milinch.  It got me thinking that this is something I would really love to do too.  Children and babies are of particular interest to me.  So I decided to give it a go myself, I drew a charcoal portrait of my eldest son Thomas when he was 2 years old and this is the result (click on the picture to see a larger version).  I think the paper I chose let me down a bit (just ordinary cartridge paper), so next time I will be using proper charcoal paper and try and render a bit more smoothly.  Otherwise I'm quite happy with it and I think I have captured his essence and expression.  I would actually love to attempt to paint this picture.  I have a canvas that would be the perfect size.  Acrylics or Oils?  I have no idea.  I only have a tiny bit of experience with acrylic and have never used oil paints before.


I  recently bought a book called "The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head" by William Maughan.  It describes a method of drawing called chiaroscuro where form is established by shadows and light rather than lines.  This is my first attempt at chiaroscuro, I used faber castell pastel pencil in "Indian Red" with just a smidge of "white" pencil here and there for highlights.  I'm quite happy with the results and I will definitely be using this method of drawing again I think.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pastel Pencils!

I decided to buy a set of pastel pencils the other week, just to give them a go as I've always loved the look of pastel paintings but using them in the form of a pencil was more attractive to me.  I bought a set of 60 Faber Castell PITT pastel pencils and some paper and this is what I came up with for my first drawing.  I used a photo reference, it's a Cape Parrot (from South Africa I think).  I'm so pleased with the way it turned out.  I found the feathers quite difficult but with practice I think this is something I could get used to doing - drawing animals that is.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I'm not sure if anyone is actually reading my blog or interested in my artwork, but I keep writing about it anyway.  Today I finished the Cat Lady.  Decided to go with a very pale blue dress with a lace collar detail.  I really love working with the watercolour pencils and I plan to do more pieces like this.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

second time lucky

I started to colour my drawing yesterday with watercolour pencils and completely messed it up!  Right towards the end too, how annoying.  Anyway, so I've had to start from scratch again with a brand new drawing.  This is what it looks like so far, I'm glad I decided to try again as I like this one a lot better than the first.  It was challenging getting a skin tone, I think there are about 3 or 4 different colours in there.  Not sure what colour the dress will be yet, I don't want it too overpowering as I want the focus to be on the lady's face.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Watercolour Pencil piece

I've started on a new watercolour pencil piece, so far I've just done the design in graphite on the watercolour paper, hopefully I might have time tomorrow to start working on the colours :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Zealand Teds Magazine

Recently I was asked to provide a profile for the New Zealand Teds magazine, I was honored of course.  In the article I reveal how I got into bearmaking and what inspires me.  Special thanks to Editors Hazel and Pam, what a great little magazine it is, thank you so much :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Just thought I'd share this photo of what my latest mixed media canvas is looking like now.  I haven't touched it for days as I'm so busy with bear orders, but all the collage work is done and I've started on the acrylic paint part.  Still lots of work to do!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another doll listed!

Just listed another doll on Etsy, this one's been in the works for a while too, she is 9.5 inches tall.  I hope she can find a home :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

OOAK Cloth Doll now on Etsy

I made this little doll a while ago and have just decided to list her in my Etsy shop!  I have a few other cloth dolls that I will list in the coming weeks too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bluebird finished!

I finished my bluebird today using Derwent Inktense and watercolour pencils, I really loved the process and happy with how it turned out.  I can't wait to do more drawings in this style again.

Custom orders open

I am accepting a small number of custom orders, currently only for 1 inch or 2 inch bears in the tubby teddy design.  Please visit my Etsy shop now for more information and to purchase:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Progress photos

Here's a progress pic of my latest collage canvas.  Some of the collage is done and the underpainting of the figures in black and white acrylic paint.  Need to collage the dresses next (left will be pink/purple and the right blue), then hopefully in the weekend it will be at the stage that I can start painting the figures properly.

I've also started another online class (like I'm not busy enough!).  This one is through Artful Gathering (see link in the right hand column if you're interested - there are lots of classes to choose from).  I'm doing Elizabeth Johnson's class "An Enchanted Blue Bird", drawing a bird with graphite, watercolour pencils and inktense pencils.  This is my birdy so far, I'm pleased with the shape and I can't wait to colour him.

Monday, July 18, 2011

News & Bear Show Success!

I have decided to consolidate my bears, dolls & artwork.  I will now have just the one blog that will cover all of my creative pursuits (art, bears & dolls).  I will also have a new website, a new facebook fan page and new Etsy shop.  My mailing list will remain unchanged.  It's going to be easier for me to maintain everything this way.  I'm sorry for the impending confusion as people were just getting used to the name "Caya's Cottage" for my bears and dolls, but I will now be known simply by my name Cat Gabriel.

So, now for some bear news!  The recent online show "Bears on Parade" was a huge success.  75 bear artists participated and some wonderful bears were available for adoption.  All of my bears Bobo, Barkly, Bluey, Peaches and Rainbow found homes, thank you.  I hope to participate in the next Teddies Worldwide show, it was a lot of fun :)

I have had many requests for commission orders for bears lately, especially since the online show.  At the moment I am considering it and will let you all know when.

Next canvas

I enjoyed Lesson 6 of the Portraits & Papers Workshop so much I have decided to do another canvas in this style before I move onto the next lesson.  I have pencilled in the basic design.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More progress

I didn't have much time today but what I did do has made such a difference already.  I stained the collage parts with Distress Ink (the background with an orangey ink, the dress with a red ink).  Looks great I think and brings it all together nicely.  I also started working on the skin tones with acrylic paint.  I only had about 20 minutes due to son no.2 waking up from his nap, but already she is looking quite good I think.  Hopefully I can work on her a bit more tomorrow and start working on the bird also.  I'm thinking of keeping the bird quite dark otherwise he might be lost in the collage.

Underpainting & Collage Done

Lesson 6 of the Portraits & Papers Workshop.  Collage and underpainting done.  The collage took ages to do, I decided to go with three different colour schemes:  the top part green and blue, middle brown and beige and the bottom black and white.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Next painting?

Did this charcoal sketch last night and considering doing this as my next painting.  I'll be changing her dress somehow, it just doesn't look right and I'm not sure if she should be holding a staff in her left hand either, might be better with just the bird....however I'm really happy with the face.  Now I need to buy a canvas and get started :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My first painting finished! (I think)

Today I worked a bit more on the dress, then I tried to rub some of the background paint off to reveal the collage underneath.  If you are doing Jane's class and reading this please do what she recommends in the video, that is to use satin or gloss varnish over the collage.  I used matte (because I already had it in my supplies) and it was very difficult to rub the paint off using the windex as a result.  I'm not completely happy with the background but I'm not sure what else I could do with it?

I then antiqued the whole thing by painting over a watery wash of burnt sienna and rubbing it off immediately using a cloth, turned out ok I think but I did lose some of the subtle tones in her face and pinkness in her cheeks.

Overall I'm really happy with my first attempt at painting, and I can't wait to get started on another project!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Colour now added, I decided to place the eyes lower and I'm a lot happier with it.   I may do some more shading on the face, I'm not sure.  It's difficult to know when to stop, I don't want to ruin the work that I've done.  The paint looks a little too perfect to me so tomorrow I'm planning to "antique" it a bit, do a brown wash over everything and rough things up a little.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Underpainting finished

I bought a table top easel yesterday and a palette, earlier in the week I'd bought all the acrylic paint I needed.  I really wanted to try the Golden Fluid Acrylics that Jane recommended in the class but it's not easy to come by in Australia so I decided to go with Matisse Flow paints instead.

This morning I did the underpainting using grey and white paint.  It took me around 2 hours.  I found it pretty hard, I've never painted before.  Creating the right shades of paint and blending is difficult.  When I first started I thought "oh my god, I'm not going to be able to do this", but I persisted and I'm quite happy with the result.  Next step will be to paint skin tones and add some colour.