Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Gift of Giving 2016

"Joyeux Noel"

Christmas Day is almost here and as a child I would believe that Santa was preparing his sleigh, filling it with lots of toys. I look back at my own years of parenthood where my husband would carefully make footprints in the garden outside so it would look as though reindeer had been. He would have the task of eating the mince pie and drinking the sherry neatly left out for Santa. I would have the rather less pleasant task of nibbling a carrot to look as though a reindeer had eaten it. Not that I had a clue what that looked like!

But the joy for me then was in going to bed waiting eagerly to see our children's faces on Christmas morning. Their innocent joy was so beautiful to behold.

As adults we lose that magic. Or do we?

My husband has been asking me for ages,  what I would like as a gift this year. I said " All I want for Christmas is you" and he replied that sounded like a song. But seriously. What do we need ? Many of us have far too much already. Whilst many do not have even a roof over their heads. Or food for their families.

I don't want to bring my blog post down but to me Christmas is a time for giving. Not receiving. And I genuinely don't want anything that money could buy this year. I want love, peace and understanding. Maybe a simple hug. And hope for a fabulous new year ahead with so much to enjoy. That's all.

And what can I give?

Friendship, love, my art and lots of teaching to help others enjoy painting as much as I do. But mainly I can give my time, a few smiles and hopefully some laughter along the way.

However you are feeling about Christmas, it is a  magical time of year because it reminds us that the true gift in life is giving. And that's quite a huge lesson for all of us to remember!

Happy Painting and a very Happy Christmas!


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Bark: The Herald Angels Sing

 "Bark: The Herald Angels Sing"
Bearded Collie Choir revisited

Some time ago I painted a choir of Bearded Collies one Christmas. Actually the paintingreally  never started out as a choir or group of dogs. Altought it ended up as one. It was going to be a painting of just one Bearded Collie. Then two others appeared either side of the first dog and before I knew it I had gotten carried away and lots of dogs joined the choir. As I still have it, I looked at the original painting recently. Because it has been used as a design for raising funds for rescue Beardies this Christmas. In honour of Bailey, my own Bearded Collie who I lost recently.

I knew I could improve the painting by adding detail to it. And I have. I have made some of the nose sizes smaller which looks better and I added shadows under the Santa hats.  I improved the beardie fur too around some of the faces. 

Who knows, maybe these new images will be charity Christmas cards next year to help dogs in need.

But the crops of my painting seem suitable for more Christmas Carol titles. And they made me smile. I hope they make you smile too.

So below we have

"We Three Kings"

 And below next we have

"O Come All Ye Faithful"

You can see how I improved my painting by looking at the original "three king" painting below. I like the softer effect achieved above. We all grow as artists and I am on a very exciting journey. Who knows what tomorrow might bring! 

Original three king painting.


The Holly King : Winter Solstice 2016

"The Holly King"

Today is the Winter Solstice, a special day where the Oak King and Holly King do battle, and the Oak King wins at this time of year. It really is fascinating taking time out to read ancient traditions and beliefs. I have grown up on tales such as these and love the celebrations.
Today in honour of the losing King, I have painted him wearing his holly crown.

Here is a link to information on the two kings.

There are many beliefs connected with the Winter Solstice but for me I love the idea that it is a time of hope, for letting go of the past and looking into the future as being bright and light.

Ancient Celts would bring holly into their homes as they were  considered a symbol of good luck. As a child I would gather holly to decorate our home. Years later, in our cottage garden we have huge holly trees but the birds have long since eaten all their colourful red berries. The holly tree is said to protect your home from evil so in days gone by they would be planted for this reason. 

Who knew?

So when we look at Christmas cards with holly on them we can think about how they play a part at this time of year and their importance.

For now I'm thinking of the Oak King who won his battle.

And I will close this post wishing you a very Happy Winters Solstice.


Friday, 16 December 2016

Building Up a Portrait in Watercolour

 Two child's hands, in my new portrait in watercolour.
No preliminary sketch.

  I have thoroughly enjoyed painting the hands in my new portrait painting. As seen in my previous blog post. I aimed to make the colour of each hand, seen in the image above,  vary as they are in different lighting in my resource photograph. And I must admit I am pleased with the result.

The face is  evolving as a work in progress. Working this way takes time as I allow the colour to dry naturally in between each layer of colour. Gentle brushwork is necessary to keep the skin looking fresh in colour. I am keeping the light as white paper on part of the face also.

 Portrait building up gradually, minus the use of a preliminary sketch.

I added white gouache, just a touch to bring a shine to the eyes. As seen in the image below. Next I will work on the nose and mouth facial features but these will wait until tomorrow as today's painting session is coming to a close. But what an amazing day I have had.

I so love working in watercolour. In fact I love it so much that it doesn't seem like work at all!

Work in Progress
No preliminary sketch.


A Helping Hand: Portrait in Watercolour

 "Child's hand in Watercolour"
No preliminary sketch

 Following on from my recent portrait posts on my blog I remembered how many times I have been asked on my workshops for good colour combinations to use for achieving skin tones in watercolour.

The above child's hand has been painted minus the use of a preliminary sketch and I feel it has far more life in it than the painting I previously shared that had been sketched before hand. Here the colour alone had to bring my subject to life and there were no pencil lines guiding me. I painted what I felt. Which was the soft skin of a child, minus wrinkles of old age. Also the skin hasn't been in the sun recently so it is pale in tone.

The colours I used are Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre, in a heavily diluted wash.

Below is the first wash stage of my portrait minus a preliminary sketch. It is now easier for me to work as I have no strict lines to paint within. But of course it takes longer as I have to think at each stage of adding new brushwork. I need to focus my mind and concentrate on where the facial features need to be placed but it is also far easier to consider what details can be left out. 

I am loving this! And loving sharing with you.

Portrait of a child, first wash stage.
No sketch.


A Christmas Miracle

Angels or Fairies?

 Sometimes things happen while you are painting that are completely unexpected. I took several pieces of paper this morning and created colour washes on them. As my theme for today was painting in cool colours to represent the cold wintry weather outside I opted for one purple and one blue shade and allowed these to flow across my paper fusing, merging and  making patterns as they evolved during the drying process.

I left my studio and headed for a coffee break in our cottage. When I returned to my studio over an hour later I was amazed to see how one wash, seen below, had dried.

Can you see what I see?

 Figures appearing in my wash.

 I see figures flying in the sky. To me they seem like angels on the wing. But they could also be taken for fairies. Both are Christmas symbols.

Either way, I loved what happened  so I added a few hints around  some of the figure edges and loved the painting as it is.

 So here is my "Angels on The Wing " painting.

"Angels on the Wing"


Actually I know a few of  my friends and contacts could really do with a huge hug or an angel on their shoulder right now. 
So from me to you, a Christmas Angel is now on your Shoulder and may she watch over you!


Artist Tips for the Day?

1) Keep practising those washes.
2) Don't be in a rush when you work on a first wash, take your time and see what might be appearing in it.
3) Believe in the magic that can happen with watercolour!

Through a Childs Eyes

"Christmas Wonder"

Last weekend I enjoyed watching my Great Grand daughter Cali pass baubles for the Christmas tree from her Auntie to her Mum, my daughter ,to put on the huge tree in their wonderful home. The laughter and giggling was infectious. But while the adults carefully took out the new, shiny baubles from their boxes the sweetness of a child emerged as Cali gleefully picked up wrapping paper and the boxes the baubles had been in. Each piece was obviously a new exciting treasure to be explored.

Cali was so very cute. Moving as fast as her little legs would carry her. The sounds of giggles erupting each time something caught her eye was fantastic and the evening was a memory I will share forever.

Children have a wonderful innocence that in itself is a form of magic. They see the beauty in the simplest of things as every day brings new incredible adventures from touch, sense, sound and of course sight.

I loved my time with my family last weekend and of course can't wait to return.

Now all we need for Christmas is snow and via my paintbrush I can create that around little Cali too.

This is definitely not my best portrait painting. I am a little rusty in this area  and this watercolour is painted from the sketch I drew previously. And it is well known that I don't enjoy painting from previously drawn sketches. I prefer to capture the magic and movement of a subject without the restrictions of lines. My next watercolour portrait will be without a preliminary sketch and I will enjoy creating it far more.

But for now, below is Cali minus the snow. Her eyes are shining with the joy and curiosity of a child. She looks full of wonder. And she should be because she is absolutely wonderful. 

But then I may be a wee bit biased, but seriously, she is adorable in every way!

"Christmas Wonder"


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

I Wish !

Portrait Sketch and Wash Study

I knew it.  Painting the Christmas Angel Doll earlier did set me thinking about how I used to paint so many portraits and now seldom do. The doll having no nose bothered me.  If you missed it please see my last blog post! The features on the doll, literally looking as though they had just been thrown on casually, bothered me.

And so I found myself  sketching. Yes sketching! Using a pencil! Something I rarely do.

I sketched a profile of a face. I tried to stay just with sketching the eyes, then nose and mouth but little hands came into my sketch too. Before I got too carried away adding every detail, I stopped sketching and painted my profile sketch using shades that were already on my palette.

I found Opera Pink heavily diluted to be a fabulous base skin tone shade. To create the fleshy tone I needed I added touches of Cadmium Yellow and  Cadmium Orange. My challenge was to create a flesh shade minus adding new pigments to my already full palette. This made me work harder to create the shadows and highlighted skin areas.

Of course now I want to add more colour around the face. And work on more portraits. But perhaps without using so much of a sketch next time, as the drawing in this piece really tempted me to stay painting within the lines rather than leaping " out of the box" as is my usual style.

Isn't it strange. I bought one little Christmas Angel ornament and that angel has effected my brushes in so many ways, adding her magic and tempting me to paint subjects that aren't seen on my blog very often.

Where will this angel lead me?

Tomorrow is another day, so we will see!


The Christmas Angel

Christmas Angel Doll

As I walked through a Christmas market this week, I fell in love with a little Christmas Angel doll. The Christmas ornament made me smile as I picked her up so I immediately bought her to give to a friend of mine on my way home. As I handed the little Christmas Angel over to my friend I realised how cute the doll was and so I returned to the stall later on to buy a few more. These extra angels are now adorning Christmas gifts, wrapped ready to be given. At the moment they decorate my cottage and kitchen Christmas table making our home look really festive.

Each time I look at one of these little Christmas angels I smile. They have that effect on me. Perhaps  "angels" in any form have a knack of making us feel better. I love the saying that "Friends Are Angels Without Wings". I have a few "angel" friends who have been so wonderful to lean on and who have been there for me when I have needed them. In return I love that my friends know they too can lean on me, at any time.

I couldn't resist painting the little Christmas Angel doll. I often paint Christmas decorations each year and as this one was so adorable I couldn't put it to one side without trying to capture it in watercolour first. I will confess I find it very hard to paint dolls. My artists brain will always want to see facial features in exactly the right places and proportions. I also find myself desperately trying to choose good skin tones when actually for a doll this really isn't a huge issue! This doll has no nose. It has two beady black eyes and a line for a small shy smile. Painting the doll's face as it is was a huge test to my being strict with myself not to add a nose. An the doll actually looks cute without it.

I loved painting this little angel. I hope it makes others smile,  as much as it did while I was creating this watercolour angel.

Perhaps my painting will make you smile, tempt you to paint one of your own Christmas ornaments or encourage you to buy a Christmas ornament to give to a friend too. Its' a tradition I have. Each year I give  new Christmas ornaments to friends I feel would like one for their tree. It passes smiles around and what else could be better at this time of year?

Who will you pass a smile to?

Happy painting.


Monday, 12 December 2016

Puppy Love 2016 : Spoodle in Watercolour

 "Puppy Love"
Spoodle in Watercolour

I have just returned from a magical weekend at my daughters home in Wales. There. apart from spending quality family time I met "Dexter" the newest addition to the family.

Dexter is the sweetest little thing. A ten week old spoodle that belongs to my beautiful Grand Daughter, Tegan. Needless to say I was happily cuddling the fluffy pup at every opportunity. Dexter also gave me a great opportunity to share tips on painting black animals on my blog. So here he is.

I took a photo of Dexter , held in my grand daughters arms because at his young age sitting still to pose for a camera is not an option.  His tiny body is covered with stunning curly fur that appears to be in shades of blue, grey and black. So what shades did I use to paint him?

I started my base with French Ultramarine Blue, added touches of Amethyst Genuine and in places on my paper I used tiny touches of Cobalt Turquoise to add softness. To darken my mix I added Cascade Green believe it or not and the result was a terrific "dark".

Being an all black puppy, Dexter's eyes are almost missing in that you can hardly see them. In my photo I can see a hint of a sparkle in one of his eyes so I have added this.His little head was tilted to one side so I have opted to paint the leaning side in more detail, leaving the other side of the head more blurred.

It didn't really need it but I have added a tiny touch of white designer gouache to the nose, just to make this pup look younger, and for the nose to appear to be more shiny. As seen in the finished painting above. Below you can see my painting prior to the addition of the white gouache. The change in the result is so subtle.

The sweetness of an innocent pup!

My daughters home is always full of love so this little puppy is going to fit right in with everyone there. And be very loved. How lucky is he!

I feel today as though I was capturing the emotion of love in a watercolour and it is such a wonderful feeling. 

Puppy Love.



Friday, 9 December 2016

Feliz Navidad : Poinsettia in Watercolour

"Feliz Navidad"
 Poinsettia in Watercolour 

Every year, at Christmas, I always have at least one poinsettia plant in our home. Here in UK they are house plants but when we lived in Hong Kong I would buy giant potted plants of poinsettia to decorate the entrance to our home there. Once Christmas was over these massive plants would  be planted in our garden and they grew to form a hedge along one wall. Each year the display of massive red blooms used to give us such wonderful cheer and they were a reminder of our Christmas celebrations at home in England. At times I will admit, I would be homesick but I threw myself into my new life there. It was a fantastic adventure, one I am glad not to have missed.

I think we often have new adventures facing us in our lives but we may not realise it. It could be something huge as in a move, a new journey or something simple. Even trying a new way of painting is an adventure and I am yet again experimenting, preparing for a year ahead full of wonderful paintings.

I am also thinking of all my terrific friends across the world who will be celebrating Christmas in so many countries and in so many languages. Hence the title of my painting today.

"Feliz Navidad" 

Today I took three tubes of red shades. I let them mingle on wet paper and finally picked out the petal shapes in the patterns forming for the burst of energetic red colour creating my poinsettia flower. As seen above.

Where ever you are, whatever you are doing I hope the spirit of the season is with you, giving you reason to smile at times. And that your memories of Christmas's gone by are happy ones.

Happy painting!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Elephants in Watercolour 2016

"The Journey"
Elephants in Watercolour 2016

The above painting came to being as I was enjoying using the shades for my seed head paintings this afternoon. As an example you can see the painting shown in my previous blog post. At the end of each day I always choose a completely different subject to the one I have been working on. This not only " cleanses" my mind to help me unwind but also cleanses my palette. As at this time of day I use whatever colours have watery puddles left in them on my palette. This daily routine makes me think about what subjects would work with what shades I have readily available to paint with.

I looked at the variety of golds on my palette and in my today's paintings, then chose an elephant as my closing subject for todays painting session. I used to paint these majestic creatures far more often than I do at the moment, and it was heaven to return to them.  However , as soon as the one elephant appeared, as always I imagined a youngster nearby. In this composition, seen above, the young elephant is heading off the paper. Leading its' parent in direction.  The mother follows carefully watching over her young. There is almost a story visible in what isn't in my painting. Where are they coming from and even more importantly, where are they heading to?

Below you can see the single elephant and this looked beautiful as a study. But I wasn't ready to put my brushes down for the day so continued adding to the piece.


 Elephant Study , the original version before the young elephant was added.
As seen in the  opening painting to this blog post.

I am still very much concerned about these incredible giants. How their numbers are declining and how man seems to be effecting this planet in such a selfish way that the beauty of nature  can be so badly effected. Who on earth would buy ivory in this century when we all should know better. 

I now, of course, want to paint more elephants. And that may be my goal tomorrow morning.




Seedheads 2016

"Past Their Best"
Seedheads from my cottage garden 

Today the weather is milder and so I have taken time to wander around our cottage garden. My attention has been caught by all the stunning seedheads that now stand out significantly amongst the barren flower beds. 

The colour and hue of the hydrangea, in my painting above, are to me now as pleasing as when they were first in flower this summer. One particular variety is showing violet, turquoise and golden dried flower heads which look wonderful when the ground is snowy, frost covered below and beyond in the distance behind them.

It has been heaven working on these today and I am about to start a new larger wash. 

Artists Tip for the day?

Don't just paint all the time.
Get out and find new inspiration .
Go for a walk to clear your head and come back energised and refreshed.
It works for me!


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Its' Cold Outside!

"Its' Cold Outside" 
Robin in Snow

Goodness, the weather reminds me of the song " Baby, It Cold Outside".

It is! 

I am in my studio working on so much at the moment. I will be sharing news of my 2017 workshops soon.  And catch up by sharing all that has been happening behind the scenes and there has been a lot! Which is why I have been so quiet.

 I feel like hibernating by snuggling up  near the fire watching movies. But as Christmas is around the corner there is plenty of time for that soon.

For now, I hope whatever you are painting or working on, you are feeling the spirit of the season. And I know some of my friends feel alone at this time of year. Can I remind you, if you are alone,  that I may only be behind a computer screen but I am very real in person and my heart is always open to you. 

Artist Tips?
Have a brilliant day, make every minute count and smile.
And if you can't smile personally aim to make someone else smile!
That wonderful happy feeling will then flow into your artwork.


Paint Yourself a Winner : Fabulous Competition!

Jackson's Art Supplies Watercolour Competition


 Recently I was invited by Jackson's Art Supplies to create a watercolour competition with an amazing collection of all of my books, personal brush range , DVDs and my personalised easel  as an incredible prize. How genreous are Jacksons Art Supplies in giving this amazing collection to the winner. Wow!

The competition deadline is 21st December so you are going to have to put your skates on if you wish to enter!

The thing is, when I was first asked to come up with a theme for the competition I thought about all the art competitions I have seen over the years that actually turned me away from entering. For this competition I wanted everyone to enter. Not only that. I want everyone to leap into the spirit of Christmas and do a good turn by encouraging someone they know to enter. Someone who is just starting out maybe. Or someone who lacks confidence. I thought about all the artists who already know how they want to paint but possibly want a change in style. Or maybe there are people out there who have all my books but would love to win the competition purely to do another act of kindness in the form of giving the prize away to someone they know who would love thsi collection as a gift.

Either way the rules are very simple. Using watercolour,  ( i.e any product that says the word watercolour on it!)  paint something you love and show me how you use this magical medium.


For full details on the competition read the Jackson's Art Supplies feature below.

Please enter and good luck! 


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

I can!

Blue Tit 
Study in Watercolour

Yesterdays blog post gave me the perfect excuse to sit and study blue tits today and I did. I observed how bright their tiny eyes are. I noticed what a stunning blue is on the top of their heads in morning sunlight. I loved their fluffy, yellow chest plumage which in some lights looks quite greenish. The white on the face isn't always snow white. Mostly it seems shadowed. Their beaks are really small! And when they do fluff up their feathers they look very different to when the don't. Size wise.

Last night before I closed my studio for the day I painted the above study of a Blue Tit. I felt calm and I knew these were the last brushstrokes of the day. Just like the last chocolates in a box, these are to be savoured not raced.

I took my time painting a beautiful small beady eye first. I carefully thought about the colour of the back of the head. I created part of the breast feathers but then stopped. I could already see the little fellow very clearly minus their wings, legs or a background. I loved creating this little bird. Now I can create a new painting taking the information from this study into my new work.

Oh how I love sitting watching the wildlife from my studio window, and as I type my model is posing outside again.

Its' time to paint!

Artists Tips of the Day?

Think about your brushstrokes as you would your favourite chocolates. Savour each one and take your time enjoying them. 
 Thats' it! 
Take your time.
Learn and enjoy!


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

I Can't !

Blue Tit in Willow Tree

I am still on bird feeding duties while my husband is recovering from surgery.  There is one bird feeder that I haven't been able to fill though and this morning my husband noticed it was empty. It is the one that holds the tiny black Niger seed for the chaffinches. I haven't filled it for a reason. It is  high on a branch, hidden in one of the willow trees in our garden. The Blue Tits usually line up on its' branches as they take it in turns to feed from the usual bird feeder nearby.

"I can't reach"

I told my husband why I hadn't filled thsi feeder and he smiled.  Over the years whenever I have said I can't do something he has encouraged me to try.  He mockingly says" I can't do it" to me, in a way that drives me nuts. But the strange thing is by him making me do things I have achieved so much.

For example. Years ago I hated driving long distances and my husband would always act as driver if we had to go anywhere. But then came an offer of my first book and I had a meeting with my publishers to attend. " Can you drive me there " I pleaded at the time. " No" was the response. He explained "This will be the first of many meetings so you either drive or don't write a book." Five books later I now drive anywhere and with confidence.

" I can't do it"

How many times have I heard that line in my workshops.

I constantly hear....

"You make it look so easy"
" I haven't been painting long, I can't do it"
"I would love to paint but I know I can't" 
"I'd like to paint portraits but I can't"
"I can't paint in a loose style" 
I can't paint flowers"

The list is endless.

But "I can't" is all that is stopping many of us. Those words.

"I can't"

I believe we can.

If we try and if we really want to.

And so while my husband was out walking I went and stood and looked at the Niger feeder in the tree in our garden. It was empty.  By the side of it sat a small blue tit , I imagined his expression  telling me " You can't". in fact to me it was clearly written on his tiny face. I went and found the Niger seed . With determination I stood on tip toe and reached for the feeder. After a while I got it down, filled it and put it back in the tree for the birds to enjoy.

I walked back into our cottage and smiled. I did it. It wasn't a case of " I can't" after all. It was a case of my not even trying. 

And then I thought " I have never painted a blue tit before" And it occurred to me that "I can't" !

I need to paint another as I am not happy with the above painting. But I tried.  And if I try harder I know I can paint one!

So now over to you. 

What are you saying " I can't" over?


Monday, 28 November 2016

Small Changes: Spot The Difference

Spot The Difference? 

I have decided to use the above painting as a Christmas card design. But the minute I shared the painting on my blog I realised something could be improved.

The painting I originally posted is below.

The tiny changes I have made improve the painting to me and now I am happy to put my brushes down.

Can you see the small changes to the above and below painting?


I wasn't happy with the legs and feet so just added small brush strokes to strengthen and correct them.

Now my robin isn't legless and looks as though he can balance better

Sometimes it is the tiniest of changes that can make all the difference to a painting!


Christmas Robin in Watercolour 2016

 Christmas Robin in Watercolour

How funny that my series of bird paintings this Christmas are leading me to so many almost forgotten memories. Like the painting above that I have just completed. I have been working on a few experiments recently using many different techniques that are new to me. In fact many I am simply making up. I teach workshops all over the world now and on each course I often state that not everything in art, or working in watercolour as a medium, has been discovered. So I am playing with many ideas right now and loving the results whether they work or not. In fact the ideas that don't work often lead me to better experiments and outcomes. We do learn far more from our mistakes than from things that go right and thats' the same in all walks of life. But back to my robin painting!

As I am the main bird feeder while my husband is recovering from surgery I am having to fill several bird feeders with all manner of goodies for the variety of birds that visit our garden. But we also have a special little visitor daily, in the form of a very tame robin. No ordinary bird food for this little fellow. Oh no. My husband buys special bags of meal worms for this tiny chap and he even has his own table and feeding station, which we can see from our living room window. Believe me, if I am late feeding this little bird he lets me know! And so does my husband by asking me if I have fed his robin yet. Two males against one female? I don't stand a chance!

But I have been enjoying watching our robin and after painting the sweet wren yesterday I couldn't resist painting our robin today in a similar background setting. As both of these birds seem to love the same hedge and wall with ivy covering it. 

While I was painting the foliage in my new composition my mind slipped back to a time when I was teaching watercolour workshops in Dubai. I was painting a beautiful composition of orchids one day while sat in a group of professional artists. I busily painted the negative spaces in my watercolour to form the background and leaves. One artist stopped to watch me paint, and then another from the group watched as my dark colour additions made my white orchid leap into life. " I wish I could do that" said one artist whom I greatly admired. I stopped painting and looked up, saying " You must be joking, you are a far better artist than I am". In turn she laughed and told me I had no idea how talented I am. I remember her telling me this years ago and my sitting there thinking she was being polite. I was flattered but of course didn't believe that this was anything but a truly  sweet compliment.

But now, years later, I am saying exactly the same thing to artists on my own workshops when I teach. This year I would love to have been given a new shade of colour for every time I have said it. I am constantly meeting people who haven't a clue how brilliantly talented they are. And many newer artists actually hold themselves back by not believing in their own ability. Yes.  I meet many new painters who are going to be far better artists than I am and I meet many who already are far more talented.

But isn't that the joy in painting? 

The journey not the destination?

I watched this little robin this morning and he watched me in return.  I thought about how small he is. I am small too, very small in this huge art world. But I like to think the robin and I both sing beautifully from our hearts. He sings the most gorgeous bird song. I sing via colour from my brushstrokes. To anyone, like the robin, who will listen!

My robin painting.

I painted the wash first for this new composition and in all honesty, this wash was just a wash. Not intended for any subject when I created it but it looked perfect to add a little robin in the lower corner and so I did. I made the leaves work by painting around the negative spaces.  Leaves are falling daily so only holly and ivy leaves are showing in this particular area of my garden. And twigs which are looking bare. I added these too and I also added the black berries of the ivy which  gave more interest to my scene.

This week I have painted many berries. Rose hips, mistletoe, holly and now ivy berries.

What next I wonder!

Below is the uncropped version of my painting but you can see more detail in the cropped version above.

"A Christmas Robin"


Artists Tip for the Day?

Believe in yourself.

1) Don't hold yourself back from painting by having a lack of confidence.

2) Remember that everyone was a beginner once.

3) If you have been painting the same thing in a similar way for a long time, try something new.

4) Most importantly, enjoy creating. Otherwise it becomes a chore and there are enough things we have to do in life, without making painting one of them! 


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Learning From Experience : Christmas Wren 2016

"A Christmas Wren" 

I am still learning from every single experience in my life. While my husband is recovering from surgery it has been my daily task to fill the many bird feeders around our garden. I was aware how often my wonderfully caring husband fed the wildlife and feathered visitors to our garden. But until now I hadn't realised how time consuming this task is. I must add. This is one task I thoroughly enjoy because each time I fill a feeder I get the joy of watching the birds flock to eat greedily.

Among the daily feathered visitors to our  cottage garden is a tiny brown wren. This little bird isn't as colourful admittedly as the other feathered guests we entertain. But it is so sweet. It hovers nearby, shyly, sitting on a post that has a mixture of hedgerow growing over it including holly, ivy and other pretty shaped foliage.  The little bird seems to wait patiently until all the other birds have had their fill and then it coyly hops around eating whatever is left.

I love this little bird. 

And as I had yet another green mixed wash ready to work leaves on, I placed this sweet little bird in the new composition. And I will confess, I got carried away painting the foliage because now as well as holly berries there are also mistletoe berries sneaking into this almost Christmas scene.

This composition works as a crop also. As seen in the cropped version of my painting below. Here the composition works very well.

 Cropped version of " A Christmas Wren "

I enjoyed creating this piece and have left it on my easel to enjoy seeing when I walk into my studio tomorrow morning. I always like to end each day on a happy thought. This is a very happy thought, that I may see this little bird outside my window again tomorrow.

"A Christmas Wren" coming to life on my easel


Artist tip of the day?

Find joy in doing a daily chore that could otherwise be boring!
There is always a positive if you look for one, with me it was seeing this little wren.
What treasure will you find to paint in your next daily " chore"? 

 Happy Painting!


Friday, 25 November 2016

Not Black Friday ! "Red Instead "

 Rose hips painted in watercolour on a scrap of paper

It is wonderful how we change. We learn each day. We cannot be the same person or artist as we were the day before. Because every single thing that happens in our life changes us. Sometimes in a very subtle way, sometimes more obviously. I have changed as a person so much over the years but I know I am still learning how to be a better human being. I am practising this skill but I have much to perfect in it!

With my painting though I feel I am getting somewhere. The excitement of finding new treasure each day is still very much with me. As it was as a child. I lived with my Grandparents then and country walks was a regular way of life. We didn't drive anywhere. We walked. At that time in my life picking up the most beautiful golden leaf in autumn, or seeing the brightest of berries was always a thrilling adventure. How different to todays' youngsters who can sit endlessly in front of a computer screen for entertainment. As a child I had to go out and it was considered safe to do so. 
Times change!

Today is apparently Black Friday and there are sales everywhere to entice people to buy and save money. My own "Black Friday" is going to be "Red Instead" and I am going to paint and see how I have changed with a view to next years Black Friday, when I will be seeing how I have grown as a person and as an artist. We can all be better than we are in whatever we choose to do. That is my personal goal.

Today, as my treasure, I picked up three rose hip berries that were together on one stem. As seen in the above painting. They were fairly bruised, although one berry was almost perfect.   I painted them on a scrap of paper that already had colour on it from a previous wash. I chose vibrant red shades and aimed to make my berries look as solid with pigment on paper as they did in reality. But whilst I painted them I was tempted to look back at how I had painted these same subjects before. Here are a few of my past favourite rose hip paintings. And my thoughts on them.

1)  Rose hip demonstration from one of my UK workshops.
 With this painting I was encouraging an artist on my workshop to paint from life. I chose this simple subject to show them how to look, observe and paint what you see. The artist told me I had " blown them away"with my technique and study, and this is still one of my favourite teaching memories to this day. And little study painting.

2) Rose hip painting inspired by  a local hedgerow

 I saw these berries on a walk with my dog. I loved the light behind them so captured it in watercolour. It became the inspiration for one of the chapters in my first book on painting in watercolour. Stopping to enjoy looking at these berries gave me so much joy at the time but also a fabulous reward in teaching material.

 3) Rose hip painting again inspired by a walk

The above painting is also one of my favourites. An early berry painting of mine but I still love the colours in it. I hadn't discovered Daniel Smith watercolours when I painted this piece so I wonder what would happen if I tried it again with my new favourite colours!

Its' fun to revisit old work to see how you have grown as an artist. I know we can learn from our past mistakes to avoid them in the future. But we can also learn what we loved most about our past work and this walk down memory lane has inspired me to paint some large, new country scenes. Which means I will have to go out for a walk to see the real thing, study colour, leaf and berry formations and gain some new ideas!

Until I return

Happy Painting!