Quite an ‘interesting’ time…

So, here we are, a lot has happened since my last post but I’ll keep it short and sweet…  to mention just a few:

  1. March 2014 – I’ve trained for and certified as Google Trusted Photographer producing 360 degree virtual tours for businesses
    (this is certainly something I never thought I’d be dong one day!!!)
  2. 29th April 2014 –  I’ve had to say Good Bye to my sweet little Tuticat who I’ve had since she was 8 weeks old in 2006 (watch the tribute I’ve made for her below).
  3. 1 May 2014 – I’ve resigned from my part-time job becoming 100% self-employed (This I find scariest of them all!!!)!

But as life doesn’t stop, all these things are here to make us stronger, better and able to cope with the future challenges better! I thank God for all these opportunities and challenges in my life as I know if it doesn’t kill me, it will make me stronger!

So to reiterate, from 1st June 2014, I will be full time self-employed once again. But the decision hasn’t come easy! For months I’ve been struggling to find the time for myself…for weeks I’ve been working 24/7 all hours a day…then one day, the straw that broke the camel’s back (actually it took only a fraction of the straw) – a realisation that I can’t go on like this forever, this has to stop! My customers are having to wait far too long for the work to be finished…which in turn makes me worried about losing them because they have to wait for so long…catch 22! Ok yes I do know that now I am ‘on my own’ as it were, I don’t have that safety cushion, but I also know that if I didn’t make that decision, there would be nothing I could do to increase my customer base because I couldn’t just magic extra hours into each of my days out of thin air!

So here’s what I am really saying: if you need web/graphic design or photography services, please do get in contact!

Looking forward to working with you! :)


Time-lapse video of my latest painting “The Meagre Trail”

Watch how this painting evolved: Time-lapse video of a painting “The Meagre Trail” by Kerto Koppel-Catlin

The Meagre Trail painting by Kerto Koppel-Catlin
Pencil & Acrylic Inks

So how did this painting come about? Well, it all started years ago with a wish to enter one of my paintings to the RA Summer Exhibition.
Years went past as for one reason or another, I failed to submit anything.  And then…2 years ago I got this image in my head – birch trees! I saw it so clearly and I knew then that this was it, I had to paint it and submit to RA! The only problem was, I knew it would take me a long time to finish it which meant a lot of free time and commitment! Finally at the beginning of December 2013 I set my mind to it, I knew I couldn’t carry this idea with me for another year, I had to ‘give birth’ to it now! And that’s really the top and tail of it, the rest is history (especially the many many hours spent deciding whether the next brush stroke will mean I have over-worked the painting or not!).

But how and why the burning of the edges? Well, that was another one of those things I just saw in my head and so had to complete the picture to match the vision in my mind.

I am planning to do more tree paintings in this style: I just love the way the brown paper already present all the middle tones and leaves you to simply fill in the highlights and the dark bits. Onwards and upwards!


Customers’ question to a web designer

questions to web designerI thought I’d answer the most common question I hear my customers ask all the time. Have you guessed what it is yet? It is……….

How much do I charge for a website?
I don’t know about you but this seems to be the most vague area in all works commissioned, especially if it’s custom-built and not out of the box. There are so many new services out there now where you can get something really cheaply and quickly and totally free! The downside of those services are:

- You end up advertising their website on every page you create
-  You don’t have much choice of the domain name you’re given (unless you pay extra!) so you end up with something like this:  www.theirwebsitename.yourchosenname.com so the chances of anybody else finding you off Google search is practically zero!
- The result is usually less than satisfactory as you will soon find that the website doesn’t have the features you’d like

So before you think of going for free website design services consider the following points:

    1. Is it going to boost my business/will I be easily found on Google?
    2. Will your chosen free website design inspire confidence in your potential customer?
    3. Would you be satisfied if your site lacks features which would boost your business?
    4. Will you regret the lost time (and business?) later by not spending that few hundred pounds now?

I will take the opportunity here and say that wherever I can I will hire a professional for every job I need doing because I’ve learnt from my experiences.
A quote springs to mind here: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Have  a realistic budget 
What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say you’d like to buy a car, and I think I am right if I say most of the times you have a budget when buying a new car. So when you go to the Mercedes’ car show room, it would be a bit silly to expect to get a brand new CLS 65 for the same price as Fiat 500 wouldn’t it? It’s the same with web design – you can’t expect all singing all dancing website for nothing, you get what you pay for.

So the answer to my customers’ question about the price of a website is this: I charge around £100-£150 per page or if the work is very customised ie. ‘not out of the box’,  then £25 p/h. I will therefore always discuss the exact requirements and number of pages before quoting anything.  I also find it easier to give a ball point figure so that a customer knows what to expect eg. in between £300-£450 depending on the extras and final features required. This way you are both covered: if there is extra time to be  added, neither of you will lose out – a customer knows what to expect and you don’t feel like you’ve been hard done by as you set yourself a strict figure to work to!


New era

Preparing the base for the artwork

Preparing the base for the artwork

So here we are, life has moved on and I’ve recently re-designed my website again… As the times and technology move on so rapidly, one feels the need to keep up to date

with it all! So this blog is the latest page to have had the facelift and be fully responsive as the rest of the website.

I/we have been so busy recently designing websites that it is actually really refreshing to have a bit of rest doing some gardening and very soon some painting again! I am planning to enter 2 pen & ink drawings/paintings to the next year’s RA Summer Exhibition, below is the image of the test board I’ve done. Now to get drawing!
Until next time, take care,


Rolf’s pop-up Art School

It all took place yesterday, 26th of May 2012 at the Old Vic tunnels in London. For those of you who don’t know how I landed this amazing opportunity: in 2005 I was lucky enough to be chosen out of over ~4K  people to take part in Rolf Harris ‘The Big Event’ show on BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00dwccb) photos of the event: http://kerto.co.uk/rolfonart.html

So  couple of months ago, I got this email from the executive producer who said they’ve got my details still in their database and that’s how she found me… would I be interested in taking part in ‘Rolf’s pop up art School’? Of course I jumped at the kind of once in a lifetime opportunity! But the day didn’t pass without it’s ‘problems… well, the first thing I noticed was this 2′x2′ space with a tiny easel in a dark damp and VERY unwelcoming corner…it had a chair there too (almost fit in the space with the easel!!!). Why was this a problem? Well because the chair had my name on it! And as I had specifically emailed to the producer a week ago mentioning that I need a table not an easel, this was somewhat surprising.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, after a short while, my ‘new’ space with a nice round table was soon created! Voilà!

The thoughts of not being able to finish my piece in time, started to fill my mind…but by chatting to some other participants, I was glad that I had prepared and had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do… And then, I can’t remember what promoted it but I got talking to the series producer and she informed me that we all have to paint the still life in front of us!!! “Oh s**t!” (not that it was a huge problem, after all, that’s what I was trained to do, for years!) I was somewhat surprised as this wasn’t mentioned in a very comprehensive email we were all sent. Hmm, I thought, should I make a big deal out of it (after all I had prepared for this and had a really good idea…!) or jut say it’s fine?

I ended up being myself (as always) and informed her that this was not at all clear from the received email…and others might have misunderstood it as well!? True enough, 9 people out of 10 had their sketches, pictures etc. in place to start drawing what THEY had in mind when the ‘whistle blows’! This was a BIG problem for the producer as they had prepared all the script for Anneka Rice and Rolf Harris to read out! And it included the term ‘still life’ – the stuff beautifully placed in front of us! So when the time became to choose the artist to ‘represent’ the 70′s, it had to be the one, who didn’t have her own idea and painted what was in front of her: the still life!
I can understand now  what kind of pressure that BBC production team is under, as by now, they only had 5 hours to film everything and having to change the plan at the last minute is just not possible with such a big crew and everything planned out to a single minute!!

There is a lot to tell about that day but I think the main highlight has to be “This is gorgeous!” from Rolf himself! :)


It was quite an eye opener when it comes to how the programmes are made: it’s simply a commercial entity and all that mattered were the camera angles, sticking to the time-line and the script – the end of story! Whether anybody produced a nice piece of art, or whether someone had never painted before, I’m sorry to say, was totally and utterly irrelevant.
I have no idea whether I’ll be a tv star after this or not, but it’s going to be aired on Tuesday 5 June 6.30-7.30pm on BBC ONE. You can read all about it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2012/23/rolf-diamond-jubilee.html

My finished artwork is below…so if you see someone painstakingly drawing outlines of stamps in the program – that’d be me! :)

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