Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Daffodils Galore 2015

"All In a Row"

Yes, I am still painting daffodils. Its' as though I am addicted to painting in yellow at the moment but they feel so great to work on each day. Very spirit lifting.

This afternoon I started a new painting. I used my "Working from a starting point" technique as described in a previous blog post. Initially I created a row of beautiful daffodil centres and then gradually started adding petals around each one.

I have a fabulous tip to share. I always paint a few small studies prior to working on large paintings. These enable me to "warm up" and get to know  my subject well before I commence painting on my large fresh new piece of paper.

I also, sometimes, have a small piece of scrap paper by the side of my  work in progress. If ever I am in doubt of which colours to add next or which detail, I paint on the small scrap study first. Especially if I am working on something very beautiful. As seen in the image below. I used the scrap of paper to experiment with daffodil centres and petals before working on my main painting. 

The scrap however is beginning to look so nice I may turn it into a painting in its own right!

Large painting next to experimental "scrap paper" painting.

This is a brilliant way of working for those who are new to painting without the aid of a preliminary sketch. You can test colour  combinations, discover which detail is fine and which is too much, how dark your new colour applications should be with each brush stroke. And of course you can see if you are capturing the correct shape and proportions of your subjects.

Have fun painting and make the most of each seasons has to bring!

For me, its Spring daffodils!


Positive Beginnings

Spring Easel 2015

It was so wonderful to walk into my studio this morning and be greeted by the glorious yellow paintings of daffodils from this weeks painting sessions. I had added final details to my loose daffodil watercolour painted in my garden on Sunday and placed more tiny brushwork detail to the long composition that I created yesterday. Leaving both on my easel  as a warming welcome this morning has given me such a fabulous boost to start my days' painting today.

Overnight, I had imagined working on a few wildlife subjects for a change but having seen these completed paintings I may just work on more daffodils while I am in the "Spring Fever" mood!

By the way, I have been asked about the paper I use for my floral work.

I highly recommend Bockingford 140lbs  where you are leaving backgrounds white and for more Botanical studies. I am in love with Saunders Waterford High White and often use Saunders Waterford 300lbs for my gallery pieces, rough surface mostly!

I hope this helps.

Saunders Waterford paper makes a stunning surface to work on for my watercolours.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Spring Fever Strikes Again!

Double Daffodil Inspiration

Spring Fever has well and truly hit me. I cannot stop painting daffodils!
I am wandering around my garden looking for each new exciting clump of flowers that create magical inspiration for me. Some blooms are all facing forward neatly in a row. One group has flowers facing three different directions which is fascinating to work on as a composition.

I thought it would be fun and interesting for my blog followers to see how I work.

Firstly I obviously choose my subjects and observe colour, shadows and how light plays a part in the effect I would most like to achieve. To get to this point  as an artist you really do have to learn to sit still patiently and just look, minus a brush in your hand! We are all far too impatient in life. Learning "to see" is so important and a skill many of us don't realise we need to practise more.

Then I have two options on how to start a painting.

1) I can go straight in with a wash of the colours that I see. I aim to capture a " ghost" of the subject in this initial wash. As I never use a preliminary sketch beforehand or pencil lines to guide me, my imagination is free to add colour where I wish. A whispery hint of the subject is aimed for, minus detail which can be added later in the next stages of the painting process. I try to "breath life" into my work at this stage, and it is such a magical feeling when it actually happens in that you can see the subject long before any definition has been added.

 A daffodil " ghost" wash. The subject is mysteriously there minus any detail, But like this, the work is far too abstract to call a complete painting. It needs further brushstrokes.

Or my next option.

 2) I can paint one flower quite seriously and use it as a starting point to add " ghost" flowers around it. As in the painting below.

A more detailed flower on my easel. Painted as a starting point with more expressive " ghost" half finished flowers surrounding it.

I am having such a fantastic time. In fact, I am loving working on these floral paintings so much I have almost forgotten I am suffering from a bad head cold!

I now cannot wait until morning to work further on my Spring collection!

Artist tip for the day? Paint in cheerful colours to lift your spirits and brighten your mood. It works!


Echoes of Spring

Echoes Of Spring

I started my painting career as a Botanical artist. That was a time when every single detail in every painting was  extremely important to me. I would laboriously spend hours adding each tiny piece of information to create to perfection.  There are times when I work now that the " botanical monster" inside of me demands to be unleashed. And I often don't notice it happening. But it did on this daffodil painting. I almost got happily carried away with delight as each new intricate brush stroke touched the paper with colour.

The loose, free, impressionistic daffodils of yesterdays painting session played on my mind this morning and so I returned to the Spring subject. But the sunshine from my previous painting time was missing and the light was very different. I chose a clump of a different variety of daffodils to paint that were smaller and less yellow. As I worked I became fascinated by the trumpets of each bloom rather than the sense of movement in yesterdays spontaneous composition. And before I knew it detail started to appear around petal edges, and of course on  the glorious trumpets that my attention rarely strayed from.

Mood effects our work so often too. Interestingly as Monday is my admin day I was giving more focus to detail. Monday is a day set aside for planning, working on tours and book signing events for the year ahead. It is also always a busy day replying to many emails, often accepting or discussing date options for requested bookings. But no matter what, I always make time to paint because otherwise I just cannot settle!

Close up section from
Echoes of Spring
The shadow under the central petal plays a part in adding drama to this simple flower portrait. A shadow I would have missed had I not been painting from life and observing my chosen subject.

I'm wondering how many daffodil paintings will appear before I tire of capturing them in watercolour!


St Davids Day 2015 : Daffodils in Watercolour

Painted in my garden
Spring 2015

The sun shone yesterday morning and I couldn't resist sitting quietly in my garden to paint the first of this years daffodils. As it was St Davids day this really was an appropriate subject!

Daffodils are the national flower of Wales. As a child I would wear the Welsh national costume on this day to go to school and I would be carrying a bunch of golden daffodils. Singing Welsh songs was a wonderful way to celebrate the occasion. Every year I always have a bouquet of these pretty flowers in our cottage on March 1st, St Davids Day.

This year, however, the sun was shining brightly and even though I am fighting off a cold I dressed up warmly and braved the cool winds to paint flowers that are growing in one of my cottage flower beds. They are leaning forward slightly as if their heads are bowing in prayer.

I could have, of  course, simply taken a photo and painted from that. But we miss so much as artists when we don't paint from life. Exciting new compositions and colour combinations face us daily as light changes on each new fabulous subject that we see.

I loved listening to bird song as I painted. Time flew by and I was really happy with my  capture of the glorious golds in front of me. Now of course I want to paint a larger composition and I can from the study I enjoyed working on this morning.

Artist tip for the day? Be observant, paint from life and forget working from photographs all the time. Be a unique artist and look for something fantastic to paint every day!


Friday, 27 February 2015

Inspirational Workshops : February 2015

Sea Turtle coming to life in watercolour
February 2015 demonstration

Last week saw the first of my 2015 watercolour workshops and each day was absolutely brilliant.  Artists arrived early each day to set up for the session ahead and entered the teaching venue with a mixture of anticipation, excitement , enthusiasm and for some on the first day, sheer fear!

I think we, as professional artists, often forget how daunting attending your first workshop with someone you don't know very well can be. My teaching methods are slightly unique too but after the first introduction section of my courses everyone usually starts to relax very quickly and have fun. The excitement last week built up as days passed and by Friday I was very sad to see the week come to a close. Almost as quickly as it had started.

I could probably enjoy teaching every day but then my own painting would suffer. I need quiet studio time to enjoy painting too. By doing so I have more to offer each time my courses come around. It was terrific to know that everyone had a ball last week and there were also many memorable moments that will stay with me forever.

Like the moment I demonstrated painting a sea turtle in watercolour. A completely new subject to me that I found completely mesmerising. The resource image I was following for  information was gorgeous with sunlight playing on the turtles back and it shone with glowing colours making it seem vibrantly alive. As I love colour, I exaggerated these effects to enhance the beauty of the stunning subject.

I do believe if we constantly paint what we know our work can not only become repetitive but risks becoming boring too. Painting new subjects keeps me very much alive and enthusiastic as an artist and I frequently set myself new challenges.

Thank you to everyone who attended my courses last week. And for being so incredible.  I hope you are now painting up a storm which was the purpose of coming, to be motivated and inspired.

I am!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Beating the Blues Competition : The Artist Magazine 2015

Beating the Blues Competition
The Artist Magazine

For anyone who has missed it, I have a magazine feature in the February 2015 issue of The Artist magazine. It includes a terrific competition with great prizes.

If you would like to win a set of Daniel Smith blue shades and a copy of my new book please see the following link.

The deadline is March so you still have time to get painting!

Good luck with your entry to everyone submitting a blue piece.

Daniel Smith Blue shades