Melanie’s May Monthly News

Welcome to Melanie’s May Monthly News! And if there was ever a tongue twister that might be a good one! We are still in lockdown here in Wales. We can only go as far as 5 miles for recreational trips but obviously can go shopping. 5 miles isn’t really a very long way when you live rurally like we do. Shopping to our nearest main town is a 26 mile round trip. But we are sticking within the rules and carrying on with our lives despite all of the craziness that’s happening around us.

The weather has predominantly been beautiful this month, although starting to break now. So our green trees have been looking stunning, as you can see from the photos below. The blue sky and the vivid green of the leaves on the trees at this time of year is just heavenly.

Lily has been enjoying the weather too, she has been groomed this month which was wonderful, all done very safely so it worked extremely well. You can see in the photos below she looked very clean, brushed and tidy. She did smell gorgeous!

Keeping Fit in Lockdown

Earlier this month I ordered a treadmill for the studio. I have been finding it difficult to be able to get out and run on our Welsh hilly roads, especially in the heat too. So this is my pride and joy and I have called it ‘The Beast’.

It’s a folding Nordick Track treadmill with hundreds of real video programs to follow and run along to. The running board inclines when you run uphill, or if the trainer in the program runs up steps or a mountain and then declines when they go back down hill. You can choose whether you want a hilly hike or run and at the moment I’m sticking to fairly flat programs. It also adjusts with the trainers speed as well.

I have tried running when it at it’s steepest incline and its pretty crazy! Something for when I’m a bit fitter I think!! But its a great machine, very sturdy and I would highly recommend it!

The Veg Garden

The garden is gradually growing, it’s coming along slowly and we are starting to eat the strawberries and raspberries which is such a delight. The peas are growing well and I hope to get the runner beans in the ground in the next few days too. I’ll take some more photos of it all for next months blog post.

The flowers have come along beautifully in the sunny weather too. The clematis this year was stunning, you can see a good close up below. The Peony bloomed as did the small Rhododendron. I haven’t had an awful lot of time for doing flowers this year, but the nurseries are now open so it will be good to get back into browsing around there in the coming weeks.

Artwork for May

You may have noticed our feature image is a photo of me in our little cottage. I took it as an example for an art challenge for the London Art College students. Some of our readers will know that I work for the London Art College from my studio helping students, I running the facebook groups and blog. I have worked for them since 1998! Each week I set an art challenge and this time it was to take a photo of themselves in a mirror in an artistic way. The following week they were to draw it. It all went beautifully and I hope you like the photo. Lockdown tidy hair!

Nicholas has created a beautiful portrait of a gorgeous black lab this month called Dotty. The frame is stunning, it was created especially by our framers to match the colours of Dotty’s collar. Take a look at a video of the portrait on our framing page – Westminster Frame.

As you can see the frame is stunning. Clients can have any finish they would like with this moulding. So if you wanted it painted an aged, off white cream, or black and gold, all gold, all silver – the choices are endless. Pretty much whatever finish you would like they can achieve. Our framers are incredible! Complete craftsmen.

My favourite cat portrait this month was of the two gorgeous cats called Lucy and Charlie. They were such delight to draw, loved every minute of it. The portrait was commissioned by a returning client and you can read a testimonial from Nancy below.

Dear Melanie:
Just to let you know that your pencil drawing arrived safe and sound.  We showed it to Emma (she is in lockdown in NYC) and she absolutely loved it.  It looks exactly like Lucy and Charlie – it captured their essence!  It will be another family keepsake like the drawing you did of our cats Tai and Chi.  Once again, many many thanks for making my daughter’s birthday so special…
Best wishes and stay safe,

We hope that you have enjoyed viewing all of the photos and artwork in this months blog post. We have produced a lot more artwork than I have added above. We post regularly on our Instagram page @petportraitartists. Hop over and follow us to see what we are painting or drawing today.

Why not sign up to our Monthly newsletter accessible at the bottom of our website which comes out on the 1st of each month. Catch up on news from our Art Studio! Please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel too, follow our Instagram @petportraitartists and Facebook @petportraitartists . You are more than welcome to comment below too, we love hearing from our readers!


  • Bob huber June 15, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Melanie
    Great newsletter, particularly impressed with the commissions the painting is stunning. The cat drawings are so real one wants to reach out and touch them That brings out a question, do you you a paper stomp or fine pencil strokes or your finger to lay in your background shadows of the drawings of light colored pets? If your methods are proprietary I will understand enjoy your newsletter always look forward such.
    Best wishes

    • petportraitartist June 16, 2020 at 2:31 pm

      Hi Bob,
      Thank you!
      I create the background solely by shading using a graphite pencil. I don’t tend to use any smoothing techniques, I have done in the past, but I feel it can dull the graphite. I find that by shading using a layering technique rather than pencil pressure allows you to build up the tones to whatever depth you require. You can use any grade of pencil, i usually stick to a range between 2b to 6b. The softer the pencil the more grainy it tends to go, but it all depends on the kind of paper you are using. If you were using something really smooth you would probably use slightly different techniques to mine. The paper I use, although Hot Pressed, does have some tooth. hence can give a grainer finish with soft pencils. Does that help at all? 🙂
      Best of luck with your drawings!
      Melanie x

      • Bob huber June 22, 2020 at 3:48 pm

        Hi Melanie
        It helps immensely, confirms the suspicions I came to discover because by rubbing I feel it ruins the tooth of paper surface which one can’t recover by lifting with kneaded eraser. Thank you so much for your help.
        Stay safe and busy

        • petportraitartist June 23, 2020 at 12:50 pm

          Hi Bob,
          You are right, it can ruin the paper, the oils from your fingers can interact with the paper too. You can get powdered charcoals which cover large areas and you can use cotton wool or similar to sooth it over. I have used a paintbrush in the past. That might be something that you could experiment with 🙂 Have fun!
          Melanie x

  • Melanie's June Monthly News - Melanie & Nicholas Pet Portraits June 27, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    […] and show them in our next monthly news. If you missed our previous monthly news, head on over to May’s Monthly News to catch up. We hope that you have enjoyed our ramblings this month and it won’t be long and […]


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