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Compound Cat TNR Project

December 3rd, 2018

Compound Cat TNR Project

In Qatar we have a serious issue with cat over-population, it causes all sorts of problems because a lot of people aren’t cat lovers to start with, plus when the cats aren’t fixed (neutered/spayed) the behaviour associated with mating (yowling and fighting) does not help their case, or indeed the continual flow of offspring. Unfortunately this often results in residents complaining about the cats and asking for them to be removed, or taking things into their own hands, neither bodes well for the cats – who after all, didn’t ask to be born into such harsh circumstances!

The life of a street cat in the Middle East is extremely hard. Limited food sources, a harsh desert climate (over 50 degrees in the summer), people who are cruel and abuse them, plus the safety aspect of living next to busy roads.Can you imagine the poor female trying to keep her kittens safe and heaven forbid a cat gets injured or sick …

On the gated compound where I live we do have our fair share of street cats, some people love them, some hate them and want them gone. However, there is a solution to keeping the amount of cats under control, addressing the concerns of residents and also protecting the cats. Trap/Neuter/Return, commonly referred to as “TNR,” is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling the feral cat population. Using this technique all the feral cats in a colony are trapped, neutered/spayed and then returned to their territory.


* No more nuisance behaviour – studies show TNR improves relationships with human neighbours. TNR puts an end to the behaviours associated with mating (howling and fighting), that are often cited as concerns by residents. One study found that after Trap-Neuter-Return was implemented, the calls of complaint from residents about cats significantly decreased.
* The population stabilizes—no new kittens! Once TNR is in place, the cats will no longer reproduce, the population will stabilize.
* No issues with rats and mice – cats are predatory animals and help keep the mouse and rat population down! Even the scent of a cat deters rats; we would be overrun with rats if it wasn’t for the cats.


TNR is the solution we need on my compound. I have done TNR extensively in various countries and a group of people on my compound have already started fixing the cats and are dedicated to making this work. The only thing holding us back is raising enough funds to cover the vets bills; it costs at least USD 96 to spay a cat! I am donating 20% from the sale of each Original Artwork to help fund a spay or neuter, it is nowhere near enough money but at least it is a start. We want to show the compound management and the residents, that there is a humane solution that allows the cats and the residents to live peacefully together. Our compound cats are fed by volunteers and carefully monitored by their carers to ensure they stay healthy but they are sadly under threat because their numbers are growing too rapidly, so we have to move fast and get them all fixed!

Farewell to the Middle East

April 12th, 2016

Farewell to the Middle East

After over 20 years living abroad, I am finally returning to live in my home town of Dorset.

A lot of my time overseas has been spent in the Middle East - Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and now Kuwait. It seems somehow fitting, that my final commissioned drawing done on Kuwait "sand", is that of a camel! This camel I photographed in Ras Al Khaimah; there is a camel racing track there which we visited one afternoon. There wasn't an actually race happening at the time but there were young camels practicing on the track and groups of camels meandering around outside the track. This guy we met wandering around, he actually came over, lowered his nose for a stroke and cooperated nicely by posing for photographs. I have loved drawing these amazing creatures so much, I hope at least someone in the UK would like a camel drawing!

So the pencils are being packed away, to be revisited on UK soil. Farewell to expat life, hello green trees, countryside and finally putting down some roots.

On The Drawing Board - Husky

December 19th, 2015

On The Drawing Board - Husky

This is a new piece that I have been working on for a few weeks. All the basics are now in place, onto my favourite part which is adding the detail and trying to get it to "pop"!

I love this breed of dog, unfortunately so do also a lot of people in the Middle East; which is where I am living at the moment. These poor dogs are not suited to a desert climate, so I feel sorry whenever I see one here, bet they wish they were in the snow in Canada!


December 13th, 2015


My latest Pet Portrait is a cute Himalayan called Teddy.

Teddy belongs to a friend of mine and I did this portrait as a surprise leaving present for her; she had been living in Kuwait and was moving back to good old Blighty. Teddy had a sad story to tell, he had been passed from owner to owner because he had a very upset stomach brought on by allergies. When my friend adopted him, he was a very sick boy and pretty much scared of everything. Luckily for him, this time he had been adopted by the right person! He was tested to find out what exactly he was allergic to and then began the slow process of managing his allergies, plus building his trust in people. He is now the most contented cat, allergies under control and extremely loved - so nice to have a happy ending.

Tiny Souls

August 25th, 2015

Tiny Souls

At the moment we are living in Kuwait, where there are sadly never ending problems with stray animals, dumped animals and cruelty cases. It is very sad and makes you feel so helpless in the face of the enormity of the situation, it will unfortunately though be a very longtime before any real improvements are seen. I could write pages on this subject alone but the aim of this post is to tell the tale of two tiny Arabian Mau's my husband rescued, whilst my daughter and I were on holiday in the UK.

On his morning jog he found a tiny tabby kitten in the middle of the road, literally pulling himself along (he was so young, he couldn't even walk properly yet). My husband did the right thing (I trained him well), he found the kittens litter mate in a nearby bush, and placed the tabby back, in the hope that mum would return; a lot of people don't realise that the females leave their kittens whilst they go out searching for food, they only return to feed them. Often people pick up what they think are abandoned kittens but if they are in quite good shape, mum probably just left them for a while. Anyway, unfortunately in this case, mum didn't return; in Kuwait the way they control the animal population is by poisoning, so mum might have gone that unfortunate route, or else could have got run over, but the main point was, she wasn't coming back.

So into our spare bathroom they went. At this stage they were probably only about a week old, so the hard work started with the round the clock bottle feeds, my husband had taken on a project! Thankfully he knew what he was doing, as our cats were found down a storm drain in the Philippines when they were just a few days old, tied in a plastic bag, sometimes you have to wonder about mankind!

Well the new babies are now about 7 weeks and slowly gaining strength.They have had their first trip to the vet for vaccinations, something they didn't enjoy at all, well who can blame them really! Now we have the massive challenge of finding them a forever home. Unfortunately there is a complete lack of good homes for animals in Kuwait, we might even have to ship them to the UK or the USA in the search for the perfect home for them, a very expensive option.

In the meantime, they are growing steadily, even though they now look quite big in the latest photos, they are still only tiny babies and weigh about 1 pound each! I hope the perfect home is out there for them, the search is now on!

Hanging On

May 13th, 2015

Hanging On

This adorable little monkey I photographed in Baguio in the Philippines. Unfortunately he was being kept as a pet and was on a long chain tied to the post that he is clinging to. At the time, Baguio was hosting a garden show/competition and somebody seemed to think he enhanced the look of their garden as I expect you can tell, I am totally against keeping wild animals as pets!

In any case, even though this photograph doesn't hold good memories for me, I do love the depth of emotion in his eyes. I always strife to show emotion in my drawings, therefore I wanted to attempt this one. My husband in the background is saying A frightened monkey, Denise no one will buy it! However instead of being commercial, it is more important for me to draw what moves me, so a worried monkey it is!

Here he is, the finished little monkey. I am so sorry I couldn't help him escape the situation he was in.

The original actually did sell, husbands don't always know best! However he is also available as a print.

Animal Welfare in Kuwait

March 27th, 2015

Animal Welfare in Kuwait

Animals do have a voice. If you ignore their suffering, I will remind you of it. If you dont understand them, I will translate. If you dont hear them, I will be their voice. You may silence them but you cannot silence me as long as I live. ~ Anita Mahdessian


Unfortunately it is an all too common sight to see animals suffering on the streets of Kuwait. Non-existent animal welfare laws, coupled with abuse and complete lack of understanding for animals, is very hard to witness. All too often an unwanted pet is dumped on the streets, very sad to see animals viewed as disposable.

KARE (Kuwait Adoption & Rehabilitation Education) aims to help abused animals find their way back into domestic life with loving, caring families.

In a bid to raise funds to help KARE cover their veterinarian costs, a selection of artwork is available for purchase at Royal Animal Hospital , 50% from any sales will be donated to KARE. Hopefully we can at least help some of these so very deserving animals.

To find out more about KARE and their latest rescues, please visit their Facebook page: FACEBOOK PAGE

Pastel Art Piece

February 22nd, 2015

Pastel Art Piece

Normally I work in graphite and charcoal, however my first real taste of the art world as an adult, was with pastel.

In 1997 I moved with my husband to Abu Dhabi. As an expat wife you are suddenly thrown into a whole new environment, your daily routine has completely gone, there is no job to go to, no friends to call up and chat to, your husband goes off to work each morning but what do you do! Slowly you find your way, discover new avenues and hopefully, eventually, a job. During the exploration of my new environment, I met a wonderful lady called Christine Fore, a British portrait pastel artist. As a child I had always been interested in art, pondered art college and interior designer but in the end went into the field of dance. Being an expat, meant I had time to re-invent myself and follow an old forgotten dream. Christine inspired me to take an important step in that direction.

Myself and a group of ladies would meet once a week round Christines apartment and she would teach us the wonders of pastel. Christine was such an enthusiastic teacher, we all got completely addicted, we even progressed to doing art shows together.

So this little pastel kitten, came from all the techniques Christine taught me during my stay in Abu Dhabi. Having since then immersed myself in graphite work, I hadnt touched a pastel for years, had even given away my pastel set to a friends daughter who was showing an interest. Suddenly though I had an urge to create in colour, and went out and bought a pastel set. It was so enjoyable to see this cat take shape and in comparison to my pencil work, so much quicker. The pastels have now gone away for the time being, but I am sure it wont be too long before they come out again.

I have Christine to thank for all those years ago, putting me on the path to taking my art seriously.

Trap Neuter and Return

April 19th, 2014

In Kuwait the predominate way of controlling the over population of streets cats is to poison them, shocking in this day and age considering the well documented alternatives. TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) is the humane and effective approach for stray and feral cats. Using this technique feral cats are trapped, neutered and then returned to their territory. Grounded in science, TNR stops the breeding cycle of cats and therefore improves their lives while preventing reproduction. It is a fact that the removal and killing of outdoor cats is never-ending and futile. TNR provides a life-saving, effective solution for these beautiful, independent cats. Every cat that is fixed does make a difference - one cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in 7 years!

Pencil Paws & the Kuwait Kitties

Unfortunately it is an all too common sight to see cats suffering on the streets of Kuwait. The harshness of the climate, coupled with the abuse and complete lack of understanding for animals, is very hard to witness. In a bid to raise funds to cover veterinarian costs, a selection of prints are available for purchase at Royal Animal Hospital . 100% from any print sales will be donated and placed in an account at the the Royal Animal Hospital, the funds are then used to treat sick or injured cats and for TNR. Hopefully we can at least help some of these so very deserving cats.

The Noble One

July 26th, 2013

The Noble One

Very happy, Noble One won 3rd prize in the Black and White competition.

Stage 1 - of a gentle giraffe

June 9th, 2013

Stage 1 - of a gentle giraffe

A new project. I just love the gentle expression in her eyes but at the same time she looks just a little condescending. I think she has every reason to look superior.

Stage One - White Tiger

March 6th, 2013

Stage One - White Tiger

This is the initial sketch of this handsome white tiger. I photographed him in Singapore zoo and have been wanting to work on this piece ever since.
Singapore zoo is one of my favourite places to take photographs of wildlife, even though it uses the word "zoo" in the title it is thankfully nothing like a traditional zoo. You can easily spend a whole day there, well worth a visit.


October 7th, 2012


We have just moved from Dubai to Kuwait. All my art equipment is on the ship on its way, I will be able to take pet portrait commissions again from the end of October.

Framing Tips

March 4th, 2012

Framing Tips

So we have spent a long time getting good photos, the artist (me) has spent hours (read weeks) drawing the portrait, but how do you frame it! Here are some tips to help guide you.

It might be tempting to simply place your drawing in a ready-made frame, however there are several things that you should take into consideration before framing your artwork to ensure it is adequately protected over the years. Its how your finished artwork is presented that makes all the difference.


Matting, tape or adhesive, barriers, or backing that you use in the framing of your art or drawing should be completely acid free. Acidic materials, after long periods of time can actually damage the artwork in the frame by distorting the actual paper or by turning the paper a yellowish color.


You could even spend extra money and get UV protection glass. However, never use non-glare glass or Plexiglas, it dampens the detail.


Always use mats/mounts when framing the drawing, they keep the glass off the drawing itself. A double mat is the best option for protection and presentation.The mat should be close to the paper base colour, (which is the tone and colour of the paper the art is on). Pencil sketches are subtle, the framing should match that level of subtly.You dont want the framing to overpower the delicacy of the pencil lines and draw the attention away from the art. Pewter and silver frames can look great on pencil sketches, and you could also look for a rich grayish brown wood frame as well. Stay away from gold, sold black, cherry and mahogany woods - frames that add color where there isnt any to complement.
The frame should mimic the overall feeling of the piece and draw upon the colour (or lack thereof) of the shadows in the art.

This cat has been framed with two mats, notice the inner mat is darker, picking out the colour from the drawing itself.


Professional framers will be able to advise you on all of the above. They will also have lots of mats and frames for you to choose from. They will help you with your selection, placing them on the outside of the drawing until the right look is achieved.

One last thing, please please please get your portrait framed as soon as possible after it is delivered. Yes they are my babies and I dont want something happening to them. Do not place anything on the surface, they are sealed but they can still smudge and be damaged.

Happy framing and dont forget to send me a photo of the framed portrait!

My Journey Into The World Of Art

March 4th, 2012

My Journey Into The World Of Art

My drawings are a combination of my love for animals and art.

As a child I was my happiest at the local stables and walking the neighbours dogs. Those same dogs were also very patient models as I practiced my drawing skills.

On leaving school a career as an artist unfortunately didnt seem the best choice, therefore my life took me down another avenue and the creative skills were channelled in the direction of dance.

However in 1997 whilst living in Abu Dhabi, a chance meeting with a British pastel artist made me rethink my old dream. I started taking classes in pastels and worked for a number of years in pastels drawing a variety of subjects, showing and selling my work with the Abu Dhabi art group.

Pet portraiture started completed by accident when we moved to Germany in the year 2000. I was working in a fitness studio and my boss agreed to show some of my artwork in her studio. On seeing the work she asked me to do a pastel portrait of her two dogs, this developed into portraits off various friends pets, and the idea was born that perhaps this was an area I should pursue.

In 2001 I set up a Pet Portrait website and decided to dedicate my time to perfecting my animal art work. I had found my ideal subject matter but it wasnt until completing a pet portraiture course with the London College of Art, that I found my ideal medium.

On the course we completed portraits in a variety of mediums, which is when I discovered the amazing effects that could be achieved with a simple pencil. I loved the amount of detail I could achieve and the control I had over a portrait yes I am a slight control freak! I packed the pastels away and got totally immersed in pencil and charcoal portraits. J.D Hillberrys book Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil was never far from my side what a great artist he his, truly inspirational.

Now many many years later, I am very happy that I am able to combine my love of animals with art. The thrill of challenging and pushing creativity never ends.

You cant hear your thoughts, your voice, without solitude.