so, long time no posting. How is everyone, thanks for reading the blog, and thanks a lot for posting comments!

I’ve been very busy with various work aspects and so the blog has got a bit behind. Please feel free to comment on areas that you would like to see blogged about, in the field of ”pets…. and ART!”.

I’ve just taken our clinic dog for a walk… he really enjoyed sniffing everywhere…

is there such a thing as ‘the art of scent, or smell’?

Can smells be an art form, if so, whats a Monet or a Picasso??!!

Here are a couple of fun links.

“please stop to smell the art”

‘the odour artist’

anyway… what do you guys think about odors…. is it crazy… or can smells be an art form?  😉

Its becoming clear to me that as well as veterinary surgery being an art, in fact there are many artists in veterinary medicine.

Some say that the skill needed for surgery is similar to the skill needed to paint. Or perhaps some vets love of animals and nature then allows him or her  to connect well with things, to do paintings and artwork-

who knows.

Here is a great link to an art show which was promoting an animal disease- and where all the art was done by vets. Please check it out!

People ask veterinarians this very commonly-

why should I spay my pet?

With every operation, there are a combination of advantages and disadvantages to be carefully weighed up. The decision made must be an informed one.

For some operations, such as this one you mention, neutering a female dog, the advantages heavily hugely outweigh the disadvantages, but the choice to do an operation of course must still be a carefully considered one.

The advantages line up approximately as follows:

Rereduce risk of unwanted pregnancies.

Reduce or eliminate the risk of breast cancers in female dogs. Breast cancers are common in elderly female dogs who have not had this operation, and they can be life-threatening.

Eliminate the risk of testicular cancer in male dogs, which again can be life-threatening.

Reduce the risk of prostate disease (including prostate gland cancer) in male dogs

Reduce the aggressive behavior of male dogs.

Stop female dogs getting “false pregnancies” (=”pseudopregnancies”) where they believe they are pregnant but in fact they are not- although their breasts do swell up with milk.

Stop any chance of female dogs getting womb infections (a “pyometra”). This is a life-threatening disease which is common in older female dogs which have not had the neutering operation.

Stop animals running away (females when they are in heat, to find a mate, and males when they smell a female dog who is in heat/season).

There are also some negatives.

To see the whole discussion, and add any comments, please go to where this discussion originated, the Pet Doctor Forum, on this thread….

Did you get a chance to see these great animations by

Aardman Animations?

Check them out below:

They are an excellent illustration of what inspired us to start the Pet Doctor Forum as we realised that animals really do need a voice….

Part 1:

Part 2:

What the reviewers say:

“It works, largely because most of the interviews seem selected to be not wacky but low-key and conversational. Am I proud of laughing? No, but I don’t care.”
James Posiewozik,

“Each juxtaposition of voice and creature, even or especially the most unexpected, creates something wonderful. The domestic version, which like it s predecessor is made by Aardman Animations, is every bit as good as the original. While the animation is masterful – beautifully timed and fully attendant to character, even when a character is merely listening – what makes “Creature Comforts” valuable is the unscripted, and unscriptable voice of the people.”
Robert Lloyd, LA Times

“Hilarious feat of animated clay. Four Stars. So if it took until the second season for an American version of “The Office” to approximate the quality and charm of the British original, how long will it take for an Americanized “Creature Comforts” to prove itself? About five seconds. The series, ‘featuring the voices of your fellow Americans’ finds just as many eccentric regional dialects here as in England, and uses them hilariously from the start. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so quickly and loudly at a new TV series. And it just keeps delivering gold – even from a goldfish who is heard complaining of her latest medical malady. “Dry skin,” she says while floating in her goldfish bowl. “Can you believe it?”
New York Daily News

February is Pet Dental Month, in the US. Its organised by the The American Veterinary Medical Association who estimate more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have oral disease by the time they are three years old.

ive seen a lot worse than this

ive seen a lot worse than this

The message is “go to the vet and let them check you pet’s teeth.
When you see the vet in Pet Dental month, there are lots of things that the vet will look at, apart from just the teeth.
Here is a list of some things which the veterinarian may be assessing, when they look in your pet’s mouth.
Of course, there are many benefits apart from these for a check up, as the vet will always check the whole body and not just look in the mouth!

1) bad breath. Can be a sign of dental decay, but also if the Kidneys are not working, the breath occasionally becomes bad also and so thats one thing the vet will be trying to rule out.
2) rotten teeth. These can be painful, or even cause an abscess. Bacteria around rotten teeth which are neglected for a long time can get into the bloodstream and cause further complications in some circumstances also.
3) broken teeth- any broken teeth can be painful or perhaps decay more quickly so they need to be discovered and regularly assessed.
4) tongue- check for ulcerations which could be symptoms of a virus, or other disease.
5) soft palate- young dogs can in rare cases be born with problems with the roof of the mouth, so the vet will check here in a new/ young dog.
6) growths- its possible to get lumps and growths within the mouth, either on the gums or even on the tongue, so the vet would be able to see if this was the case.
7) pale gum colour- a sign of low blood concentration which could be a sign of a problem.
8) too many teeth- sometimes baby teeth don’t fall out, then the mouth is too crowded and more prone to food sticking between the teeth and then the teeth rotting. So if the teeth have not fallen out by 6-12 months of age, the vet usually recommends these to be removed.
9) holes in the teeth- at specialist clinics its possible to do fillings although this is very rare still due to the high cost, so big holes are normally an indication that the tooth must be removed to avoid pain.
10) gingivitis- vet will check for redness/inflammation along the gum line, meaning that the gums are sore due to bad mouth hygiene- normallly requiring a dental procedure at the clinic to clean the teeth.
11) tartar- lots of brown/yellow lumps on the teeth, basically its a more solid form of plaque, again the vet needs to remove it.
12) recessed gums- a sign of severe disease in the mouth.
13) bleeding gums- also a  sign of severe mouth disease.
I like lists. Want any more PET LISTS? let me know.

This list is not fully exhaustive… see the associated thread on the Pet Doctor Forum to see if it has been added to?

We tried to get to 101 but ran out of steam at 42. But they cover the most important things.

Here is a great list we have compiled, of 42 ways to keep your cat or dog healthy. Please bookmark the list and keep coming back to it.

The list starts-

1) See the veterinarian immediately if you have any cause for concern.
2) Vaccinate your pet to prevent diseases such as cat flu, parvo virus, distemper
3) Regularly de-worm your pet to prevent against stomach worms (which can also transfer to people)
4) Clip the nails regularly to ensure they don’t overgrow
5) Check the teeth and brush the teeth regularly to keep gum disease at bay. Bacteria in the mouth with rotten teeth can enter the bloodstream and cause infections in older animals with awful teeth.

As a veterinarian, people ask me all the time about what these things are.

“It might be a problem with Alfie’s anal sac’s” I say

“what the heck are they?!!” they reply with a puzzled look on their face, as if I have just insulted them.

Well, these glands with a horrible name, are also in a horrible place- right next to the bottom. And to the bane of vet’s worldwide, they don’t simply just get on with their job of being a scent marking sac…. oh no, they often regularly decided to get ‘bunged up’ with sludge, a bit like leaves in the gutter… and who’s job is it to clear the gutter…. oh its mine, Mr Veterinarian! 😉

Anyway, on a more serious note, these glands do have a role, and they can get some problems. I’m sure every dog owner and every vet has stories to talk about these glands!

Check this recent thread on the Pet Doctor Forum to see what they are in more detail.


when pets have operations, they often are sent home with big collars on…

people often know that their friend’s pet has seen the vet, because they see them wandering around with a bandage on their leg, and a huge white collar around the top of their head.

“can your dog eat with that huge thing on?” you ask them? “it makes your dog look like an alien!”.

Well, what are they for, and why?

This recent thread on the Pet Doctor Forum explains in some detail what they are used for and why. But what do you think of them?

Would it be better to use something else to do this function instead of a collar? If so, what?!!

Feel free to comment on your thoughts- on the comments page of this blog. (Or see the thread link above, and get involved in the conversation there….)

where is that itch?!

where is that itch?!

Skin problems are very stressful to observe in pets as you feel helpless- what can you do?

As a veterinarian, they are also not simple to treat these diseases.

To diagnose and treat skin allergies (atopic dermatitis) it requires many tests and lots of patience! These allergies, like ashma in people, are life long.

So:the drugs or treatment options are for life.

Here is an interesting very recent thread on the Pet Doctor Forum discussing this disease and its treatments.. .

What are your experiences?

okay, well this isn’t really very serious, but its just a bit of fun…. enjoy. Some pets dancing with music as the background. Not by myself, all off youtube. And I don’t believe they are real, just edited.

For something more pet-serious, come and join the chatting at

So, here are some pet-techno video’s! Time to wake up!!

so, whats all the fuss about?

Well its about this

I am a tub of peanut butter

I am a tub of peanut butter

and THESE…..

salmonella salmonella_bacteria

well Dr Matt, nice pictures, but what are they?!!

Ok, the pretty artistic things are not aliens, but are infact Salmonella bacteria. One factory in the US accidentally somehow contaminated the peanut butter with the latter! And it appears now that peanut butter is in many things, NOT just in your grandma’s sandwiches.

One thing its in is in PET FOOD.

If you have a pet, what to do? Well, check this online pet/veterinary forum discussion yesterday on the very same topical issue…what are the peanut butter recall implications on pet food? (If you post a few questions, perhaps someone will answer it if you have any further questions).

what do people think about fleas? Have you ever seen a flea?


Electron Micgrograph photo (courtesty Bayer) of a flea biting a pet

Electron Micgrograph photo (courtesty Bayer) of a flea biting a pet

There is an interesting discussion on a pet/veterinary forum here, where a member of the public asks if “flea control is just a big scam” or if its really needed.

What do you think? As a vet, I must say its essential against some different diseases (the posts on the forum above explain it well).

Anyway- I hope you like these images! Fleas are so small but they can jump about 30x higher than their body length…amazing eh… thats how they can jump quickly from one pet to another!!

well, my blog is regularly getting 100 hits a day now, just to tell my regular followers!

So some of you must like my images and content at least…. thats good. Please keep letting me know by email or with your comments, if you want me to blog on any certain topics etc

117 views yesterday, not too bad if i say it myself…. just started on twitter… anyone here use that…. big experiment for me…

im using it to promote mynew forum

see here for my forum

and here for my twitter

Ive ambitiously decided I want to aim for a forum of 100k users, but am happy with 10k by the end of this year. Lets see what happens eh.

Keep an eye on the twitter feeds, if thats your thing!

But I will stick to the pets and art on this blog and not get too distracted, don’t be worried…!


please help  test drive this new forum

This is a new forum, targeted mainly at the UK, but also at all English speaking countries.

The aim of the forum is to foster better communication between pets and their vets… so basically its an open forum, for pet owners to post things about their pets (especially but not exclusively about any medical worries with their pets) and also for vets to talk about anything they want to talk about (there is a private area that they can learn how to improve their skills in by talking to other doctors, but also the shared public area where they can get involved in the conversations.

The hope is that this site will free up dialogue between vets and the pet community, enabling

  • better veterinary understanding of pet owners worries
  • better pet owners understanding of pet health issues
  • better client vet communication
  • education for all
  • news and entertainment for all this community
  • pets to get a Voice!
  • animal lovers to be united together

please check out the site, sign up there, and post some comments!

check out this great link to some cat photos in the telegraph newspaper.


These lovely photos of cats and kittens are some of the final works by renowned artist and wildlife photographer Jane Burton who died in 2007, aged 74.

If you look at the link, there is a whole series of great pics!! enjoy!

Betteles in art?

Ive recently been finding out about an interesting Americal artist who uses them to help him paint on the canvas. And yes, they are … ALIVE!!!!

Kutcher controls the direction and movement of his arthropods — such as hissing cockroaches  darkling beetles and grasshoppers — by their response to external lighting. The result is controlled and random movements, created in a co-authorship between the artist — with predetermined ideas about colour, form, shape and creative flexibility — and his living brushes!?!

see here for some more details!

my attention was drawn today to buntings, see here for what they are, on wiki.

Basically, a “bunting” is a term for any festive decorations made of fabric, they can often be used for wedding decorations, check out this interesting site.

So, these can be a form of art.

Here is a blog about textile’s, while includes a refernce to them. In fact, there are good few blogs out there about textile art, here are a few of them

I guess what Im trying to say, is that textiles are a fantastic source of art ispiration, and an amazing art medium also.


The above tibetan imagery is always inspiring… but the ones below are perhaps more familiar images!!



These minor works of art, alone, can seem plain, but when hanging in the wing and blowing, are inspiring- and they are a real part of traditional culture!!

They are always used at weddings. See here for some other wedding art ideas- oil portraits from wedding photo’s


Happy Chinese New year to everyone!!!

So, today’s post is about OXEN and art. Cattle/oxen are well regarded in many cultures- even godlike in the Hindu culture.

This year is the Chinese Calender year of the ox. Whether you think about the wild west, herding cattle, to cattle in any anchient or modern culture, they have a close association with man.


Here is a cave painting of some oxen. Thats got to be old.

So you can see they have a long history of being associated with art!


this is the kind of painting you are likely to see in a gallery.

by Norma Wilson

by Norma Wilson

Above is more of a contemporary painting. Of a swiss cow.

by-tony-jones1Here are a couple I like


you seen any cow art recently?

if so, let me know.

Kung Hei Fat Choi-

peace and prosperity to you all at Chinese New Year!


Surf art…

This above work is by David Lloyd.. Lloyd’s work tries to evoke the memories that all surfers have stored up inside.  “Deep in your head there is this place, and it’s not Huntington Pier,”   It’s more like a collective surfing unconscious.  Surfers live in longing for that moment, they relish the anticipation.  But arriving there is never as good as you picture it.  Eventually, your memory mixes up all these snapshots of the best days and they all become part of this inner place.” 
Okay Im off to Bali next month, so thats what may have inspired this.

Here is some art by Glenn Francis…

'pacific reef'

Originally from Corpus Cristi, Texas, Glenn now resides in Encinitas CA., and Costa Rica.  His dramatic paintings capture that special moment in surfing on a perfect day, or as they say in Costa Rica, “pura vida”, which translates to a pure moment in life. Through the years Glenn has worked in Galleries, shaped surfboards, and chased the perfect wave, while evolving into one of the most renowned and dynamic surf artists in the world.

Another surf artist is Peter Edington, a wonderul visionary artist who lives on the Golden Coast of Australia, and whose art is an inspiration.
Peter was one fo those lucky few who was part of the psychedelic surfer culture of Australia during the 1970’s. Hrt is beautiful, warm and uplifting. Here is an example…



and here are just some suf photos…

surf is amazing!!!




Hey… if im going too ‘off-topic’ let me know… its not really pets here, but I hope you like the art!!

SO, IS this really art? well, i say it is. And of course, who determines art is not someone else, but is up to you!

No, this is a ‘series of images’ and it combines a ‘human design element’ ie the artwork of the boards, with a ‘random act of nature’ ie the shark bite….. so while you might not like it, I can still look at this series as a set of  creative images inspired/enhanced by nature!

okay, perhaps im crazy……… let me know your thoughts!!! =




a good idea would be to use these photos to then create a painting………. eg do it yourself, or get artists do do it for you, eg those at portraitxpress!

Here are some more paintings that we did recently. See and go to the gallery dection, to see further examples.

We hope to keep regularly putting up examples of our Portrait Artist’s work, so you can get an idea about the quality and good standard of the work, and transpanency of the business. Here is the painting, on Canvas. As we use the word Xpress- yes, this means we are VERY fast! But also the quality is top notch. The subject/ client can review the painting and request any changes they want to it also, and choose the size, style, make alterations, etc.


original photo artist used to paint the painting from

original photo artist used to paint the painting from

Happy new year.

Well, just to show people what art we can do at portrait xpress, here are the steps involved in a painting we did recently.

First we were contacted by a customer, who’s boyfriend loves James Dean. They wanted us to paint (by hand, no printing) a James Dean style poster, like that below- but instead of using James Dean’s face, they wanted the boyfriend’s face!!



Of course we love James Dean and were very enthusiastic about this fun project!

We can’t show you the client’s photo, but here is the final painting below by one of our great artsist!!!! Amazing eh. What a great gift!

final painting (cropped)

final painting (cropped)

We have cropped the picture, so you don’t see the person’s name as thats private…. so actually the painting was the same shape as the original poster. The subject wasn’t posing with this picture in mind, otherwise the result could have been even better- if they had tried to do a similar pose as James Dean!!

Hope this stimulates people’s imagination!

and here a a few James Dean photos for you out there…..

What? you don’t know who he was? actor, photographer, race driver, artist, ultimate rebel and one of the greatest Legends of the 20th Century.


forgotten why you love art?

well, here are some great art video’s where you can see art being made live!

if you live in the UK go to art-in -action show once a year, to see it being done .. or check out our own Portrait Xpress video of a pet painting being done by one of our artist

Dont know who portrait Xpress is yet? check us out at where we are No.1 at painting art for you from your photos.



I have been reading about tea today, did you know…

Tea, that most quintessential of English drinks, is a relative latecomer to British shores. Although the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China, it was not until the mid 17th century that the drink first appeared in England. Thats not really very long ago is it?

The use of tea spread slowly from its Asian homeland, reaching Europe by way of Venice around 1560, although Portuguese trading ships may have made contact with the Chinese from as early as 1515.
It was the Portuguese and Dutch traders who first imported tea to Europe, with regular shipments coming by 1610. England was a latecomer to the tea trade, as the East India Company did not capitalize on tea’s popularity until the mid-18th century.

You can read more about this at wikipedia, here.

I started thinking about Tea and its formative role in art in the last 300 yrs in British culture….So, here I will start with some old vintage tea posters!



And then I started thinking about art USING tea leaves…


or perhaps more commonly, using coffee beans…


check these links…

1) a site selling paintingonly made from coffee

2) a forum discussing how to paint with tea…

and here is a video on painting with coffee..

Enjoy! Merry Christmas from Matt and all the Portrait Xpress artists

Hi, well occasionally I do come across other good blogs, here is a nice one, worth checking out-

dog art today. If you are interested in my blog, and art, and pets, you my find this one good. Its by an artist and she loves dogs.

Like me she also sells art, although I hope you would come back here and order your pet art from me at  portrait xpress rather than her shop! But its up to you.. ha ha ..

okay, perhaps this is not the most serious post I have made. But it is Sunday.

See which calls itself   “The world’s largest educationally oriented website dedicated to soap bubble creativity, play, brewing and performance! “

Actually, the site is a bit tricky to navigate, the only page only really worth looking at is this one which shows lots (about 500) pictures of paintings where bubbles are a feature of them! as thats what I think is quite interesting….

Now, I really do still enjoy blowing bubbles, and all kids love this. Have you noticed the beauty in a bubble? either in running water, or artificial soap bubbles? check some images below.


There is a great photo book series called “Hong Kong/China Photographers
The 12-book Hong Kong Photographers series presents a complete collection – art, documentary and news photography – of some of the most accomplished yet underexposed photographers in Hong Kong. Photographs are accompanied by critical analyses and a unique look into the lives behind the lens. Its come about as a study of 12 HK photographers- there being a huge number of successful photographers living on this small mountain (Hong Kong island).

The latest one is Hong Kong/China Photographers Two – anothermountainman by John Batten. John is a member of the International Association of Art Critics -Hong Kong and used to have his own Art Gallery in HK and writes a lot in the art press. Books are HKD 300.

AnotherMountain Man (see his website here) is A Hong Konger called Stanley Wong Ping-Pui in reality.

By: Asia One Product and Publishing Limited



here is a portrait of Stanley Wong (courtesty of ChaChaHavana on Flikr)

And here are some of his photos below.





Hi, here is what the RSPCA sent me today and I think you will all enjoy it

“Hi Matt,

I have just been on your blog and I thought you may be interested in RSPCA’s ‘Give Animals a Voice’ campaign that I am currently involved in.

RPSCA have teamed up with the maker of ‘Simon’s Cat’ and created a video called ‘Fed up’. This video illustrates food-begging behaviour that is typical to dogs and the issue of pet obesity. The video, which launched yesterday, has already been viewed over 47,000 times!

Though it is not art… (that you have covered in your blog), I thought you may be interested seeing this approach to raising pet obesity awareness.

Though this animation has a light side to it, it still carries a very serious message, and we are really keen for this to be highlighted.

Pet obesity is a growing concern, and RSPCA want to raise awareness and get people to start thinking and talking about this issue. Especially during Christmas, is giving your pets treats under the dining table a nice or cruel thing to do? Do we actually know when our pets are overweight? And what do we do to combat this problem?

I hope this is of interest to you”

Also have a look at this link from the RSPCA re weight less help for your pet.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Im always interested in new technology and its role in the pet world.

Will your vet next time be performing text message surgery when you take them your pet?

Médecins Sans Frontières surgeon Dr. David Nott (working in the Congo) recently performed a life-saving amputation of a young boy’s gangrenous left arm after receiving step-by-step text messaging instructions from a colleague!

The young boy was spear fishing when he had most of his left arm ripped off by a hippo.  A’ forequarter amputation’ is no small operation, even in a big hospital as it entails the surgical removal of the entire upper extremity, and 2 other bones- the scapula, and clavicle.

Dr. Nott had never performed such a surgery, but luckily, his friend in the UK had, so he sent his friend, Professor Meirion Thomas, a text message…. Thomas replied almost immediately with 10 steps Nott should follow to carry out the procedure and then signed off with “Easy! Good luck.”

Amazing world eh.


So, to learn about Banksy, perhaps start by having a look at his site.

It doesnt have much text but it does have most of his work.

His life biography can be seen at wikipedia and its a fascinating yarn.

He started as a graffiti artist in Bristol, and his artworks are often satirical works of art on diverse topics such as politics, culture, and ethics.

Important to note is his anti- commercial stance: Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti or mount exhibitions of screenprints, in commercial galleries.

check some of them out below!!


i especially like this one! above..


Here a Uk newspaper (well its the daily mail so Im not sure if that really counts as a newspaper?) reveals who Banksy is … the Scarlet Pimpernel of modern art!

He is a very clever guy. Here is his statement when one council tried to remove his art, claiming it was an advertisement.

“I was offended when Westminster said my painting was an advertisement. Advertising makes people feel inadequate and worthless. Graffiti doesn’t do that. Graffiti doesn’t emotionally blackmail you, graffiti doesn’t make you feel fat and graffiti doesn’t make you rush out and buy things, except maybe high strength cleaning products.”

His latest work is an installation called “The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill,” about the human-animal relationship….. that features walking chicken nuggets, swimming fish sticks, .. and hot dogs that slither like snakes.

See here for the link.

art is dead?

If you are feeling all melancholic in the cold weather and the run up to christmas, here is a great series of melancholic photo’s entitled ‘art is dead”. Actually the photographer is exhibiting some of his works in New Mexico , USA, till mid-january 2009.


Art is dead?

This is a question that many people ask. Some artists even use it as a title, as we saw above.

Here is a painting in mixed media by an artist, with that very title…

you can buy art by this artist at the Richard Goodall Gallery in Manchester, Uk.

ART IS DEAD - by Federico Gonzales

ART IS DEAD - by Federico Gonzales

So, what do people think? or course art is not dead, its just that art/creativity has changed, its become commercial, people of an artistic bent are no longer necessarily pure artists, they perhaps have decided to get a mortgage and so do web design or clothes design or music videos and what is left for pure artists has often needed to become very different and provocative (eg sharks in a tank by damian hirst) to get people’s attention.

See here a post by David Mellender in the Art’s Journal, about ‘is art dead’ where he argues that it is.

Actually, part of me thinks that art may be dead, as art critics wrap it up in such funny language that makes it unaccessible to the general public..

pets- I guess they like the lead up to Christmas just like the rest of us. Lots of food! yummy yummy.


I have started to see pets in Christmas clothes, like the picture below, what about you, seen anything pet and christmas related?

Check out here for a dog xmas clothes website!


If you are looking for some good pet-related Christmas cards, check these out. Have a great weekend!

I was drawn into a discussion today about Redbull, where I suggested that it was more of a marketing concepty that actually a product…

so, that started me thinking about Red Bull related ART!

First thing to note, is that red bull is an incredibly innovative company and as part of their brand-building they actually sponsor art projects.

One fun project they are currently running is “red bull art of can”.

Here artists must make a picture or sculpture or piece of modern art, using mainly a red bull can!!! Crazy but exciting, and a fantastic opportunity for promotion by new young cutting edge artists.


See here for an image of a dragon made from a red bull can!!

Also see here for a you tube video of a drumming sequence using red bull, also done by independent artists, not red bull staff.

And here is a Flikr set of Red bull  ‘art of the can” series…

Have a great day.

Please take time to have a read about PortraitXpress artists…  if you need to order a personalised painting as a gift to arrive with you by Christmas day, you need to order it in the next few days to allow time for the paint to dry and the artwork to be shipped!

Lots of cartoon art is about animals…eg Hobbes the imaginary tiger belonging to Calvin…




Calvin and Hobbes is a comic strip written and illustratted by Bill Watterson, following the humorous antics of Calvin , a very  imaginative six-year old boy, and Hobbes, his energetic and sardonic—albeit stuffed—tiger. The pair are named after “John Calvin” , a 16th-century French Protestant theologian and “Thomas Hobbes” a 17th-century English political philosopher.

The  themes of the strip deal with Calvin’s flights of fantasy, his friendship with Hobbes, his adventures and scrapes, his unique views on a diverse range of political and cultural issues and his relationships and interactions with his parents, classmates, teachers, and other members of society. The dual nature of Hobbes is also that while Calvin sees Hobbes as a live tiger, other characters see him as a stuffed animal.

See here for their official website.

Another huge favourite pet illustrator of mine is Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit.

Peter Rabbit is the main character  in a series of books. He first appeared in  “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” in 1902.

In this story- One day, Mrs. Rabbit goes to the bakery, leaving Peter and his sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail to play and gather berries in the forest. Disobeying his mother’s orders, Peter sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden and eats as many vegetables as he can before Mr. McGregor spots him and chases him around. Eventually, Peter manages to escape, but not before losing his jacket and his shoes, which Mr. McGregor uses for his new scarecrow. He is famously remembered by some as being in fear of Mrs. McGregor putting him “in a pie”.

Although he and the other rabbits are drawn from life, they wear human clothes; Peter wears a bright blue coat and clogs. The Peter Rabbit series has sold more than 151 million copies in 35 languages.

Sure, its not fine art BUT its about the interactions between people and animals and these illustrators have a profound effect on generation after generation of individuals..and to produce illustrations of volume and quality like these requires some substancial imagination…..




Christmas is coming…. time to think about presents for your pets!!

Nota good time to buy a pet however, remember “a pet is for life, not just for Christmas”. I saw one person with a new 1 month old puppy last week, and really some people have no idea about the commitment involved to have a pet.




However, for all the great pet owners out there, its time to start planning a Christmas present for your pets!!!

One Uk survey a couple of years back indicated that nearly three quarters of pet owners (70%) will buy their pet a Christmas present.

So, what to buy??

One suggestion I have, if you have not heard about this already or already have one, is a hand-painted picture of your pet or your friend’s pet. See here for some pictures, and here for more details!!!

My idea of a pig portrait is something like the picture below…


This is a watercolour by PAT WEAVER, of Dade City, Florida.

Its fairly similar to the kind of work Portrait Xpress Artists do as comissions of pets, from a photo.

This is art, and I like it. What comes below- really, this ain’t art.

I heard today about something very strange…. “pet art” by a Belgian Artist in China.

Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye currently (Nov 08) employs workers to tattoo pigs in an “Art Farm” at the outskirts of Beijing, China. Delvoye has staff consisting of local farmers to raise the pigs.. and professionals to tattoo them with cartoons or symbols. The pigs would then be displayed at art exhibitions and their skins sold to collectors after they were slaughtered.


Very wierd, and actually I dont like it- putting a tattoo on a live animal has got to hurt, and even if they are sedated, it seems pretty cruel. From a veterinary perspective, this seems very unnecessary and quite sick. Any comments?


photo by opimentas

photo by opimentas


ive found an interesting website which gives details on some interesting art exhibitions about nature. Check out their exhibitions here.

“Living Art’s exhibitions aim to raise awareness of the beauty and wonder of our natural heritage, both in the UK and globally, while at the same time championing the benefits of the natural environment to our wellbeing and the need to protect and conserve that environment.

The exhibitions take an innovative, responsible and, above all, we hope entertaining approach.”

Also, check this, if you want to buy a topiary elephant for your garden?!!

And see this great blog about ART HELPING ANIMALS.

So, I was inspired by the ant art I discussed in a previous post (go check it out, on my site), what other living art is there?

Well, here is some art which is for sale, BY ANIMALS IN A ZOO!!!

The pictures here are just a bit of fun, not related to the links by the way…


by amy solovay

pinkfire: by amy solovay

The more I look, the more art I find out there inspired by FIRE. I guess this is not suprising given that fire is one of the basic components of nature and this planet.

But I have yet to find a painting which captures what a photo like the one below does. I guess this is because art is usually used to simplify and distill things into simple emotive images… so flames don’t really require simplification as they are already so weak yet so fragile, so simple….Im still looking for a powerful fire painting though!!


Okay.. Ive got it now.. the better Fire Paintings are historical really, rather than simply an ‘artistic interpretation of fire”. Such as paintings of the GREAT FIRE OF LONDON.

See here for the History of this and a famous picture by an unknown artist.

If you live in Hong Kong (okay, lots of readers don’t, but hey some of you do!) the have you heard about Digital Light Craft?

This venture is a workshop for budding photographers, ran by some of the most experienced and best photographers living in HK.

A fun one is the Flash/Glamour Workshop.

This will appeal to those of you who are more comfortable with your cameras and want to learn some more specialized skills involved in shooting with flash and other light sources in a studio setting.

Ike will go over the various light sources available and discuss the reasons for choosing one over the others and how to use it to its best advantage.  He will also discuss lenses and related camera equipment as well as filters and gels.  Directing models and how  to get the poses and expressions that best suit the project.

This will be followed by a practise portrait session using different lighting sources, during which Ike will be helping fine tune your approach and technique.

Before wrapping up for the day, Ike will answer questions about the shoot and the upcoming model shoot.

Sunday morning will involve photographing models under different lighting conditions.  The models will have 3 outfits each.

So…. interested?

If so, go along!!

Its run by Keith, he says

“I have decided to put together a workshop based on the lessons I have learned about digital photography over the last 6 years or so.  Combined with the relevant lessons learned while shooting with Film SLRs before that I hope to share some of the joy that Digital Photography has brought me with others looking to capture a slice of their lives in Hong Kong. Let the digital light shine!!”




Flames and fire are incredible, they are needed for life, they are needed for rebirth.



  What a feeling it inspires. No im not a pyromanic, but just looking into the light of a flame is a meaningful experience for most people! Live waves, it has immense power, a threat of danger, but yet an inner beauty. Fire regenerates in one way, by providing a catalyst for opening seeds, in nature.

Fire art is art involving flames. It can be people juggling with something on fire, or more aesthetic art pieces.


One real art using fire, is glassblowing. I love the ‘liveness’ of this art, how visual it is!!




See here for a link to some pieces in glass made by a Uk glassblower. Here is one piece.

peter-layton-glass-blowingIts a bit fancy for me, but maybe you like it?

Okay, and I have one REAL GEM for you.

See this Flikr set… and type GLASS into the search panel, to see some amazing glass blowing pics. This photographer also has a site at but I prefer the Flickr for the search function.

Have a great day. Fire! Friend or Foe?

Mosaics. Here are some nice ones below.

Mosaic is ‘the art of creating images with small pieces of colored glass, stone or other material.’

See wiki for some history!

Nowadays, people like to take photo’s in a mosaic layout, because it looks pretty fun way of grouping pictures together. See here for a good Flikr set of mosaic pictures: where each picture is a mosaic of many photos!

See here for some mosaic from the romans, on the BBC website.

Ive also found an interesting blog on mosaic contemporary art.. check it out!

In fact, the internet is a bit of a mosaic nowadays.. if you think about it 😉

photo by digithill

photo by digithill

photo by Mitatos'

photo by Mitatos

to do a good life-drawing, you need to have a good idea of anatomy. (Click the links to see the definitions).

I guess this is a thread linking my interests in art and animals- as obviously to understand the workings of a body, you need to understand how it is made up. And in a similar way, to make a good painting or photograph, you really have to understand the make-up of its composition, ie how the human or animal body is constructed, if its a portrait.

There have been some amazing paintings and sketches done of Anatomy over the years…




these last 2 are by Da Vinci.

reptile’s are amazing. I particularily love the colours and details of their skin. Here are some photo’s below. Im not alone in finding the beauty in these, seeing as snake skin has been used in clothes/shoes for many centuries. Read here about snakes scales on wiki!

The last one actually is a photo of reptile skin as seen microscopically. You like it? Pretty cool stuff I say!






Nowadays, its very easy to get a portrait made of your self, or your family, or your pet.

In the old days, traditionally, you needed to sit many times in front of the artist, to get a painting made. This is still probably the best way to do it, however its very time consuming and also very expensive!

Good on you if you have the time for all the many trips to an artist’s studio… it will be fun, but it’s not so practical nowadays! However, portrait paintings are still a very desirable thing to have: a great piece of art that can be treasured for ever, and it is highly personal also.

Most busy professionals, and corporate companies, are now chosing portraits of themsleves or their staff to be comissioned by a reputable artist, from a photograph of the client or clients.

One group of artists which are very experienced in this, are the artists at Portrait Xpress . (The information and entertainment on this blog is actually written by a staff member at Portrait Xpress, so we are biased !- there are other companies or private artists also, so please shop around! But we are sure that you will not find another company which has such good quality or service or a better price).

See here and click PAINTING SAMPLES/GALLERY (the button on the left) for  some of the artist’s past works.

See here for a fuller explanation of how to order, using just your digital image.

And see here for an explanation of different customisations which can be made to the painting, or different styles you may like to have the portrait painted in.

We hope you will pass this information on to anyone who may be interested in a Portrait Painting!

Have a great day.

todays post is on one of my all time favourites, the Natural History Museum: in London. Actually my primary school was very close so I have happy memories of many visits as a child. Here are some images of the outside of it (the main entrance) and of the dinosaur in the main hall. In-cred-i-ble!

The building itself is a piece of art, and a real treasure trove of beauty and science.

The foundation of the collection was that of the Ulster doctor Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), who allowed his significant collections to be purchased by the British Government at a price well below their market value at the time.

Work began on this building in Kensington in 1873 and was completed in 1880. The museum opened in 1881, although the move from the previous building was not fully completed until 1883.

Both the interiors and exteriors of the Waterhouse building make extensive use of terracotta tiles to resist the sooty climate of  Victorian era London. The tiles and bricks feature many relief sculptures of flora and fauna, with living and extinct species featured within the west and east wings respectively.

This explicit separation was at the request of Mr Richard Owen, appointed Superintendent of the natural history departments of the British Museum in 1856, and has been seen as a statement of his contemporary rebuttal of Darwin’s attempt to link present species with past through the theory of Natural Selection. Clever hey?

The central axis of the museum is aligned with the tower of The Imperial College, london  and the Royal Albert hall and the Albert memorial further north.



” Dippy ” — is a 105-foot (32 m) long replica Diplodocus carnegii skeleton, situated within the central hall. The cast was given as a gift by Andrew Carnegie the Scottish American industrialist, after a discussion with King Edwars VII, then a keen trustee of the British Museum. Carnegie arranged for the cast to be created at his own considerable expense of £2000, copying the original held at the Carnegie Museum.

The pieces were sent to London in 36 crates, and on the 12th May 1905, the exhibit was unveiled, to great public and media interest.

The dinosaur quickly became an iconic representation of the museum, and has featured in many cartoons and other media.


this is a post I have meaning to write for a long time. Its involves art…. and an animal!

Death in the mind of someone living” the shark art-piece by Damien Hirst.

How do we interpret this? One concept is, if you bend down and peer through its sharply jagged teeth, you’ll be looking past the pure white mouth at the large black hole of its throat. It’s a reasonable visual metaphor for the crossing-over from life to death that we think will never happen.

Also, the viewers imagination is focused on the pickled sharks jaws; the jaws of death stopped in motion, suspended in time. So the shark can’t attack you, its been suspended in time… so your death is not coming now, it will come later…

If you have other interpretations, let me know here!!

So is that what art always is, a visual metaphor? Yes, in a way. Although sometimes art is just for art’s sake and there is no need for any metaphorology.

To be honest, my idea of art involves freshness and a concept of something seeming alive, and I see art in nature and animals, so Im not hugely keen on the idea of animals in formaldehyde as some kind of art.

However, Damien Hirst is certainly very innovative so I repect that, and by shocking the public he helps create debate about art and other interesting subjects, which has to be good.

This shark pictured below is given the title:”death in the mind of someone living”.

Apart from the crazy price this fetched, one interesting point is that actually its not the same shark as in the original art. When asked is this is an issue, the artist said:

“”It’s a big dilemma. Artists and conservators have different opinions about what’s important: the original artwork or the original intention. I come from a conceptual art background, so I think it should be the intention. It’s the same piece. But the jury will be out for a long time to come.”

I guess I agree with him, but what are your views?!


the artist, above, with the artwork titled.





The Royal Watercolur Society is the oldest watercolour society in the world, established in 1804, and is second only to the Royal Academy of Art in importance as an art society.

It exhibits twice a year at the Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH.

A great new exhibition is coming up- check this out!!:

The Poet and the Painter

13th November – 30th November 2008

“JMW Turner believed that poetry and painting flowed from the same font, and twenty Members of the Royal Watercolour Society, in collaboration with the Poetry Society, explore this common bond. Celebrated poets, including Roger McGough, Polly Clarke, Kathleen Jamies and James Kirkup are working directly with artists to create new and exciting work.”

The exhibition is being curated by David Brayne RWS.
Click here to see a link to some of their upcoming events!

Here is a painting by one of their artists, Francis Bowyer.


I love watercolour, check this old one out………..


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