Monday, 22 August 2016

A Challenge : Landscape Washes 2016

"Autumn Haze"
Watercolour wash landscape

When I am teaching my workshops I know followers of my blog posts miss me. My blog falls quiet while I am offline. And I recieve many email messages asking where  I am and when I will be back online, which is lovely as it is nice to be missed.

But I thought it might be fun to set a challenge for followers of my blog and readers of my books while I am away from my computer.

How about painting a few daily wash exercises from  my latest book " Paint Yourself Calm".

Paint three each day just for fun with no subjects intended by them.

But then paint a few landscape washes this week. Paint seasonal ones. Try a cool winter landscape with cool blues and violets. Next paint a glowing autumn landscape with trees of gold. Summer could be the fabulous sunflower fields under bright blue skies and vibrant greens would be perfect of course for Spring.
Use your imagination with techniques like using salt patterns as seen in my Autumn landscape above.

Have fun. And by Friday of this week see how many landscapes you painted that worked well.

Use these tips.

1) Choose colour that is perfect for each season
2) Use salt or clingfilm for texture effects
3) Keep it simple! 
4) Try to avoid too much detail that detracts from the beauty of your wash.
 5) Stop when you see something beautiful

Most importantly.


Let me know how you get on. 
 I'd love to see your best landscapes so you can link to your work in a reply to this blog post.

Happy painting and good luck!


Watching Ewe

"Watching Ewe"
Sheep in watercolour

Its' my turn to watch. 

For the next two weeks I have my annual summer watercolour workshops, held in UK near where I live. Artists travel from all over the world to attend these courses and I look forward to them immensely. I take teaching these courses very seriously and put so much effort into them to ensure each attending artist not only has a wonderful time but  also they leave feeling refreshed and inspired.

It is quite a responsibility to have a room full of people knowing you want each one to gain from the experienec of being with you.  They have not only paid for the workshop but they have planned and given up their valuable time to be in your art sessions. This year alone I have had people fly from USA, Canada, Thailand, India, Singapore, Australia and Europe to be with me. Some even fly to be here for just one day.

This means so much to me but I cannot allow one person to leave feeling they had wasted their energy or time in coming. And so I make each course very different. I aim to put new artists with me at ease as soon as they arrive. I make sure returning artists take away somethingnew  in technique they can grow from. Workshops to me are all about our own personal journeys, when we take time to add to what we know or learn a completely new style or way of painting. On courses we all want something different, as our needs and level of skill vary so much.

I am ready for this week. In fact I am bouncing all over the place at the thought of sharing wonderful colour combinations and new ways of painting that I have discovered recently. When I teach, I give from my heart all that I know so that others who paint may enjoy creating as much as I do. And hopefully reach destinations they wish to reach in their journey with art.

I demonstrate throughout the day, for the group as a whole and with individuals in the session on a one on one time basis. Time flies on each of the courses and we often realise it is time to pack up when each day seems to have only just started.

But during these magically heady days I also watch. I will see a room full of people who have reached that special zone where it is just them with their paper. The room goes quiet at times like these and I sometimes feel a little emotional when it happens. And envious as I too would like to be sat in the room painting. But I can't because I am teaching. And my teaching is not about me. It is about everyone else. This is the artists time and whilst I am holding each workshop I belong to everyone in the room. This is their time, not mine, to shine.

And so its' my turn to watch. 

After hopefully getting everyone at that point where they can fly in style.

I start teaching tomorrow and have two weesk of courses. My blog will fall quiet but I will try to pop online now and then.

For now

Happy painting!



Saturday, 20 August 2016

Overtired And Overworked!

"Badger with Blackberries"

Not only has my art life been busy this week but my social life has been too. I have been out rather a lot as so much is going on, including an annual dinner that my husband and I went to last night.  We came home very late.  Resulting in my waking feeling a little overtired, rather than rested, today. 

On days' like this when my energy level has dropped I know I would be far better off sticking to painting experimental washes. But, being me, that is often not always enough. As I looked at one of my previously painted experimental washes I saw a badger waiting to be encouraged to appear in one of them.

This painting started beautifully. The badger was there very quickly. He was  softly coming to life and in a very charming way. But as I was tired I crossed a line of no return. I added far too much dark to my wildlife friend and soon he overwhelmed the soft background.  

He now needed rescuing! 

I added a countryside background to overcome the now really strong colour on his markings.Soon blackberries were above his head and little hints of branches. These made "him" look far happier as a subject. I then liked the longer use of paper for my composition. I added curved brushstrokes lower down to form an interesting design in the lay out of my painting.
Like me feeling tired, I feel this painting has been overworked so I will leave it to rest. And I probably shouldn't admit this but this is one painting that I feel has definitely got away from me so I will be painting on the other side of this paper in the morning. 

I think its'  a good idea  to show my paintings that I am not happy with. We all have good days and bad days when painting. And some paintings do get away from us in that we over work them or make bad decisions. This is certainly not one of my best paintings but I have learnt so much from it that I will try this again.

If you have read my last blog post on simplicity I think that's what is needed with my next attempt at this subject.

And who knows what tomorrow will bring!


Artists Tips:

1) Try to avoid painting when you are over tired. It can lead to bad decisions!
2) Stop long before you think your painting is finished.
3) Enjoy a painting that goes wrong for all the tips you have learnt about what not to do.
4) Keep things simple!


The Beauty of Simplicity

Bulrushes in the mist

It is rather funny how we can easily over complicate life. We often see problems where there are none. If we have nothing to worry about we can sometimes still find something to concern us and when painting it is easy to imagine all kinds of things that can go go wrong long before we even pick up a brush. That is "if" you are a worrier!

I have had such a crazily busy week. I have painted every single day and I am preparing for a show by measuring and wrapping my collection for my solo show in Oxford next month. I need to forward the exhibition catalogue to the gallery by the end of August. I am really tied up with many art related non painting activities right now.

But this morning I walked Bailey and stopped to admire some bulrushes. They were so beautiful in the hazy morning light. I noticed how some were past their best. The reeds and the grasses surrounding them had already turned a dull brown and yet they were gorgeous in my mind. I was determined to paint them in a simple way to show their beauty, as I imagined it to be in my artists mind. So that viewers of my finished painting would feel they too had seen something that was stunning in its' simplicity.

I started painting by dampening my paper first to ensure when pigment hit it I would achieve soft fuzzy shapes of colour. For the bulrushes. I opted for monochrome shades but if you look closely there are tiny touches of deep turquoise because without it this would be a dull painting. I have followed the direction of the plants with my brushstrokes and allowed some stems to fuse into the atmospheric background.

This was a very quick painting to create and yet I love it. I often find I can paint something in minutes and it works as wonderfully as a painting I have taken weeks over to complete. Maybe there is a lesson in that point. We don't always have to labour over a painting for a long time for it to be a masterpiece.

Sometimes simplicity is the most beautiful way of painting. 

Keep it simple is a really good motto to stick to at times!



Friday, 19 August 2016

Blackberry Way

Blackberries in hedgerows
On my easel this morning

I have two  gorgeous blackberry paintings on my easel. Side by side. Both almost finished. The new direction I am moving in is so exciting. If you look at the painting on the left in the image above it is darker and more atmospheric but I do love the clean fresh look of the lighter golden painting too.

I have two sides as an artist and inside me, one is trying to dominate the other. 

Which side will win?

For now I am happy to allow them to fight it out but its' so much fun sharing my personal art journey here. I have no idea where I am heading, that is not quite true I know where I want to head but I am going to let colour alone lead me. 

I will have to try not to allow the artist within me who likes what they are doing to prevent the other artist within me who still wants to come out to escape!

Have a brilliant day


Breaking Free 2016

 "Breaking Free"

I woke  early this morning. It was impossible to sleep. All I could see in my mind was colour. Mainly turquoise but that is because of all the humming birds I have been painting recently. I see humming birds in flight and their movement in my imagination effects my brushwork. It has become faster, more energetic and so very much more alive. Whats' more I am using colour very differently. Artists who have attended my workshops where I have demonstrated how I paint grapes on grapevines will understand my love of using neat pigment and making it transform into wonderful colour combinations.

Well here I am going a step further with that idea and it really is thrilling. This technique will only work if you are not afraid of  using strong bold colour combinations. But if you have been reading my book Paint Yourself Calm your build up of knowledge and experience will help guide you to this point of not being afraid or timid when painting. Just paint for the sheer joy in what you do and it can lead you to fantastic results like this.

When I apply the colour for my abstract work it is really with a very heavy application of product and I deliberately do not dilute it. It looks very dark when wet which can be quite frightening if you aren't used to working this way. And you often only get one shot at the wash as a full painting result because as it can become far too dark to work on top of further, to be used as a background.

The image below shows my wash whilst still wet. It is very dark.

 "Breaking Free" When wet.

The close ups of sections in this new abstract are really gorgeous but on screen I am not sure you will get the gorgeous full impact but here are two segments.

 Upper sections. Toothbrush splattering breaks up block areas of colour to add intrigue and interest.

"Rolling" over the foreground with any fabric at hand adds interesting texture effects.

I am on a roll. Someone told me I was on fire. I feel that way. Energised and so raring to go every day. I wake feeling happy, eager to work in colour. I go to sleep dreaming of what might happen tomorrow. And in the middle of all this activity I take time to sit and relax with my husband enjoying the day that is passing or has passed.

Life is good. It is really great today but tomorrow will be even more exciting.

How about you? 
How is your tomorrow going to be?  
More exciting ? 
Like me you have the chance to make it so.

A few tips. 

1) Try something new regularly whether it is colour or a new technique.
2) Try applying your pigment with something other than a brush! You should see my fingers right now!
3) Don't be afraid of colour

In fact, don't be afraid. So what ifyou make a mess? You just start again on another piece of paper but do explore! You won't know what you are capable of unless you try every possibility in art.

Happy painting


Thursday, 18 August 2016

New Direction : Something Wonderful

"Misty Morning"
 Start of a new atmospheric country scene painting 

I knew it. I knew something was about to happen in my painting style. I have felt a change coming for a while but until now had no idea what it was. I can't explain it, but something in my artistic soul has been very restless recently. And you may have noticed my blog posts have been prolific as I have been painting something, whatever it was, out of my system. But each time I picked up my brushes I knew there was more. Something I wasn't quite " getting" . But now I do feel something is happening in my latest work. This feeling is leading me into a completely new area of my art life.

I love teaching. I always have and I love sharing my passion for working in watercolour. But all the time I have been writing, travelling on tour, or teaching workshops in UK my own creative time has been restricted and limited. Please don't get me wrong. I wouldn't give up what I do for the world. But I do miss the exploration, the pushing of myself to cross new boundaries to find something that I am searching for, always. I miss my solitude. Time spent alone in my studio. Searching for something better and more exciting. Well I know I now am on the right track, because this afternoon something magical happened.

I had been playing with painting hummingbirds. And theses paintings on my easel are lovely but they aren't what my soul is screaming for me to do. So, I went back to the countryside scenes I had been painting as washes all week, but this time I took vey bold colour and a few bits and pieces I had lying around in my studio to gain better texture effects in them and I am really very excited now.

I am working large for this journey as this is not a time to be timid. Here is a photo of my new large painting, so far on my easel.

Atmospheric country scene of autumn fruits in hedgerow
First stage

I have gone in very strong with colour using Quinachirdone Magenta mainly. Cadmium Yellow gave me the burst of warmth I was looking for. I want this scene to look as though you are walking through an early morning fog. Seeing hedgerow through the mist. I am there in my mind feeling the fog swirl around me. Its' a cold  Autumn morning with the first chill hitting the air.  I am alone. Just me, taking in the fresh air. Enjoying the beauty of nature. I want to take the viewer of my art there with me. But they will be alone also ,not with me. They too will be soaking in the atmosphere as if they were experiencing this early morning wonder.

The berries are appearing in the mist as seen in the image below. Just there, visible but almost out of sight

Blackebrries in the mist
Close up from my painting.

I am using all orts of things in all manner of ways to create texture. Rags, lace. You name it I am using it. I love it. I have a way of painting that I call " webbing". It creates really exciting patterns in my work.

Strong colour and texture in a section of my new painting so far.

I know I am crossing a bridge with my art. And its' exciting. I could stay where I am or take that next step. I'm moving forward with that incredible buzz that you feel when you are about to do something totally new.

This is exactly why I love being an artist. There are so many roads yet that I haven't travelled with my art and this could be the most fascinating yet. Maybe those hummingbirds brought me luck after all. They say humming birds carry a meaning.

 Perhaps I should listen to folklore!