Tuesday 31 January 2012

Watercolour Experiments

Floral Fantasy

Sometimes it is great to simply paint. To just pick up a brush and  throw  colour on paper for the sheer joy of it and not worry about the outcome. I seem to be surrounded by artists who have to achieve a frameable painting each time they pick up their brushes.

I do admire their way of working but my own personality has always been that of having fun and enjoying every minute that I am alive. Yes, I do paint  serious pieces that are framed and  placed in collections for galleries. But most of those paintings and my techniques have developed over time by my knowing how to enjoy holding a brush rather than feeling it is something I have to do.

So here is a painting that is developing from a collective group of techniques and ideas and within it as always there is a favourite section.

I love the shape of this  flower which is purely from my imagination.

Layers  in shapes form a huge part of my style so every single experiment leads me further to where I want to be as an artist. 

And the road ahead is going to  be a wonderful journey of experimentation for me.


Monday 30 January 2012

Catkins or Lambs Tails 2012

Catkins in Morning Sunlight
Still wet on my easel

Walking my dog Bailey is a wonderful way to start my day. I see so many subjects in the countryside just begging to be painted and I usually end up carrying something small home to work on as a warm up exercise each day.

Today I couldn't resist the catkins that are dangling from twigs and moving in breezes. They are a delight in formation so after yesterdays fun session painting witchhazel the colours from my palette and technique lent themselves to this new idea for a composition today.

I can't emphasise the value of painting daily even if it is just small studies for practise or observational purposes.

I am fascinated by light so I will be working on some larger compositions later this week and as always I can't wait for my day to begin tomorrow when I can race eagerly to my studio and  paint whatever tomorrows treasure will be. 

Knowing me, it could be absolutely anything at all!

Light falling on Spring catkins.


Sunday 29 January 2012

SFP ,The Society Of Floral Painters 2012

First Study of Witchhazel 2012

Yesterday I attended my first meeting  with the SFP,Society of Floral Painters. I drove to Salisbury and walked into a truly warm welcome from familar faces and made many new friends who like me have a passion for painting flowers. To hear my name called when I entered the room was a really welcome feeling so thank you to the wonderful artists who  made the day even more memorable.

It is funny how life tends to lead us in the directions we are maybe destined for. I have adored painting flowers ever since I was around five years old. I lived with my Grandparents at the time and my Grandfather was an incredible gardener. I vividly remember his floral beds of brilliant colours throughout the year.  I also remember childhood walks in the counrtyside, taking time to enjoy the  wild flowers along the deserted country lanes. I can't help but realise how fortunate I am as then computers were not the way to spend hours on end. Instead I was growing up in an era when fresh air and nature were  to be appreciated and cherished.

I think this is the time in my life when I started getting lost in what I was admiring! I would constantly leap into my own little world and imagine how I would draw or paint what I was seeing when I got home. Yesterday the  very same thing happened.

After a wonderful lunch with the society we were treated to a short talk where specimens of plants were handed around for  close examination. I fell in love with the witchhazel sprigs and found myself placing them against the restaurant wall behind where I was seated to see which colour would act as a background. For a few minutes I was completely lost to the world as I worked out how I would paint such a complex and delicate sample.

I couldn't wait to get home and race to my studio this morning!

Witchhazel Close up of a section.
I am  really happy with the light and flow in this first study so will devote some time to painting this  plant seriously later in the week ahead.

For my blog readers who haven't a clue what witch hazel looks like,I can only describe it as spidery formations along twigs. They are beautifully scented and fascinating to look at and feel.  This was just the boost I needed as I have become a little bogged down with painting things I know recently. To paint something that everyone tells me is not an easy subject stretched my imagination to the point my enthusiasm is flying right now!

A real Witchhazel plant against my painting.

Joining the Floral Society has given me a sense of  coming home. I started my art career as a botanical artist and at last I can thoroughly enjoy participating  in exhibitions that share a very favourite part of my life.

To Libby,a special thank you for telling me about the Society and encouraging me to join.
To Libby, Sharon, Chrissie, Anne,Carol and Lissie thank you for a wonderful day yesterday and I look forward to seeing you again,very soon.

Sharon, I am smiling. I hope you are too because yes, I painted the witchhazel today! 
I knew I would!


Friday 27 January 2012

The Unexpected

Close up of a New Painting of Primroses
I love painting shadows so the fall of  soft violet over one face of a flower is really pleasing to my eye.

Sometimes when everything is going so beautifully the unexpected will take you by surprise as it did to me this week. A hurried race to hospital in severe pain started my early morning on Monday and I was kept in for observation. After x-rays, and rest I was allowed to come home. I am really relieved to say the pain is now subsiding and on treament I feel fine again. I have had to take an unplanned break which has given me time to enjoy looking forward to my year and what is planned.

Sometimes not being able to paint is a good thing.We have more time in our minds to see what we want to achieve. I have a full year ahead with some really wonderful exhibitions which I plan to only show exciting work in. Which means I will be loving my time in the garden and nearby locations painting what I enjoy most, from life in amazingly different lights and with a feeling of movement in my brushstrokes capturing what I see in unique results.

In my imagination I see all the gorgeous Spring Flower paintings yet to be approached lightly and in stunning  colours that scream the time of year.

On my positive, as always note, I am so lucky.

It was a good time to be taken ill as this is my quiet month mainly set aside for administration. It is a great time to  recover well and a brilliant time to rest when  the flora and fauna is yet to  come into full bloom.

Spring Posy appearing in watercolour


Sunday 22 January 2012

Sunday: A Day Of Rest

Simple Church Study

I live not far away from Jane Austens home in  Chawton.  There is a beautiful church in the village that has always attracted my brush and I have painted it over the years in many  different ways. But today I really was simply playing with watercolour and gaining a few ideas for my week ahead. I am so fortunate in that we are surrounded by beautiful churches with incredible architecture.

This really is a very simple study, not intended as a finished painting. It is more of an exploration into working with a landscape.

I keep small pieces of watercolour paper for moments like this. Days when I know I should take a complete break but in my heart know that would be impossible. I am a true addict when it comes to working with my favourite medium.

Tomorrow will come and I know my studio is ready, my easel awaits with a clean fresh piece of large paper.

You can read about Jane Austens home in Hamphsire via this link.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Good Intentions

Studio: Primrose Collection 2012
Using techniques from my new book "Atmospheric Watercolours" which will be out in May 2012

My studio right now is full of paintings. Some complete and many waiting for the final brushstrokes. To walk into this haven each day and have gorgeous washes tempting me to work on them is an ideal start to my days.

I have so much on in the way of projects and upcoming exhibitions. Today to enjoy colour flowing, see flowers appearing out of washes and simply allow myself the freedom to enjoy each new brushstroke was heaven.

Over the last week I have communicated with USA and Australia for future workshops.  I have recieved some very touching emails about my work and replied to as many personal messages as I can.

Next week I hope to add to my growing collection of floral work and begin to paint  my next new subjects in a unique experimental style.
Life is great!


Friday 20 January 2012

Pleasantly Pheasant

The beginning of a new painting of a pheasant

You wouldn't want to eat the same thing every day. It would become boring and the joy of looking forward to meals would be lost.  And yet many artists paint the same subject repeatedly in exactly the same way for a variety of reasons. Maybe they sell well, or they are what the artist is best at painting.

I am a butterfly as an artist. I leap from one subject to the next and yet when I do settle on an idea I will play with it, looking at every way I could possibly improve with each new brushstroke. I have settled with the notion of painting pheasant.  In my mind I can still see the bird in the lane that caught my attention and made me yearn to paint them in the first place. There is an emotuonal connection in that I fell in love with it as a possible painting. I have a beautiful image in my head that I desperately want to portray on paper.

I couldn't wait to start painting today and now have not one but four  pheasants in various stages of development. They are all very different and each is a favourite at the moment. I have changed the washes,  head positions, eyes, feathers yet kept all of the compositions similar.

On this painting I am eager to add details around the eye and work downwards towards the fabulous,proud chest.  But I will put my brushes down and leave my studio with that fantastic high of wanting to race back tomorrow to complete the exciting pieces.

Pheasantly Surprised Again!

I hope when I walk into my studio tomorrow morning I will be "pheasantly" surprised!


Thursday 19 January 2012

Pleasantly Surprised

Pheasantly Surprised

It was only a matter of time before a pheasant popped up in my watercolour collections again. I haven't painted one for a while but as I came home from a trip this week a beauty casually walked across the country lane in front of me.

I couldn't help myself. I put the primroses I was working on to one side and began to paint  the colourful fellow instead, using some of my new water  techniques from my new book.

I am not sure how long I will stay away from painting primroses but I know one thing.

I am having so much fun!


Wednesday 18 January 2012

My new book cover!

Here it is at last,
My new book cover!

"Atmospheric Watercolours" will be launched in May 2012.

More details will be added on my blog shortly.

More Primroses in Watercolour 2012

A close up of todays primrose painting.

I knew it!
I knew once I started painting Spring flowers I would become hooked and not think of anything else which is a real worry as I have exhibitions  in the not so distant future where other subjects are more urgently needed.

 New primrose painting developing through layers of colour placement and addition of details.

Having worked on bold  horse racing scenes and my favourite cockerels recently I found  jumping into more subtle, pale, soft shades a welcome challenge at first. I am much happied with todays work. There are ghosts of flowers within the centre and background of each new piece and the colours flow more magically.

I am loving working on the  flower in the foreground of this particular painting as it makes a statement of being the star of the show.

Shadow and petal edge detail brings the first flower to life

By the time Spring really arrives I could be " primrosesd out" at this rate! My studio looks fabulous with flower paintings dotted in every single space. And as always I can't wait for my next painting session to begin.


Tuesday 17 January 2012

Spring Again

Primrose Cluster

Amazingly, with frost on the ground, primroses are braving the cold weather and forming clumps of creamy yellow patches in the woodland area of my garden. I hadn't expected to be painting them so early in the year but couldn't resist a first brush with Spring this afternoon.

Last year I painted primroses with many different yellows. I haven't settled on a favourite shade yet so will keep experimenting and sharing my thoughts here on my blog.

I hope my blog readers are also being inspired by nature. It certainly is the best art teacher as the autmun leaves are a great backdrop to my earliest spring paintings! 

Yellow against bright orange? 

Who would have come up with that combination!

David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition 2012

 Amost There
From my first book " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour "
Signed copies are now available from my web site

Please can I remind  all my art colleagues and friends that the deadline for submitting to the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition 2012 is this week.

If you haven't forwarded your paintings there is still time.

This is the one occasion that you can say thank you to all the wonderful animals and birds that give us as artists so much inspiration for subject matter to paint. Whilst submitting you are helping endangered species and participating in an annual event that has become an established and incredible art event of each year.

You can read  more about why I feel so strongly about helping WAY from last years blog post via this link.

Full details can be found on the David Shepherd web site so don't miss a chance to join in!

Sunday 15 January 2012

A Day Of Rest

Colours flowing with light and life in a spring medley of  daffodils

I have been thinking about the Spring flowers that will be appearing shortly in my garden. Frost has already hit the blossoms that decided to appear far too early. Nature seems to have designed the garden plants so that they show at their best  during certain times of the year.  Each season brings with it new palette choices and subject material. All of which I am  very keen to capture in watercolour.

But I don't think it is just the bulbs that need a rest before flowering at their best. I believe artists also need a well deserved break from their brushes and easels. It is times when we are not painting that we can see more clearly in our minds what we are desperately trying to achieve.

I decided long ago that I don't want to just capture an image in watercolour on paper. I truly want to find a way to bring it to life so that is unique to me in style . Also I want the viewer of my work to feel emotion behind my brushstrokes, so that they know I wasn't painting merely for the sake of it, but because I adore working in this medium.

It is very easy for a professional to get entrapped into working for sales alone which in turn can reduce even the most talented of artists to  do what I sadly see so often.  Paintings churned out, one after the other purely for the goal of yet another sale. This can kill the artistic soul of yearning to paint a composition that holds a sense of something new.

I have taken a wonderful day out in sunshine to consider what I am going to be doing this week.  I have project decisions to make that are really important. I won't race into anything even though some of the offers that have recently come my way have been incredible. What I really want for 2012 is a goal of painting at my best and hopefully inspiring others around me to do the same.

It has given me time to reflect and think about  not just one but all of my tomorrows, all of which I am going to fill very wisely!

Spring Fusions of Gorgeous Daffodil Washes adorning my easel


Saturday 14 January 2012

January Studio 2012: Spring Fusion

Spring flowers bursting to life in watercolour
My studio January 2012

I woke this morning to glorious sunshine even though the ground was covered outside with a deep crispy white frost. Having walked my  four legged companion, Bailey I looked for inspiration around me as is my usual way of starting the day. I imagined famous artists of the past enjoying the gorgeous landscape before me ,set in the mysterious mist. This scene I could easily see painted in oil and felt tempted to race back and capture it myself.

Morning walk, January 2012

However once I did return to my studio a beautiful scent hit me as I opened the door. I had left a vase of  narcissi with the intention of painting them today. The vibrant splash of yellow after the wintry mornings walk really captured my artists imagination,cheered my soul and excited me with all kinds of ideas on how a new composition of them  could work.

With a few simple brushstrokes they came to life on paper with very little help from me as the artist. I have a special palette which holds all my favourite spring colours. It was so wonderful to work and enjoy the thought of  all the gorgeous flowers to come over the next few months leading me into another fabulous year of working in watercolour. At times like these it feels so amazing to be alive and able to enjoy all nature has to offer.

Narcissi coming to life with a few simple brush strokes.

I only paint these particular flowers from life as I find working from photographs really does kill the natural flow in my work.  In my workshops I can't stress highly enough the importance of learning to really look minus the help of a pre composed image. You physically see and feel so much more when working with the subject right in front of your eyes.Your senses come alive as you can not only admire what you are  aiming to portray on paper but  by touching the flowers a feeling of delicacy also comes strongly across. This  helps the strength of my brush hitting the paper which is an area of being an artist that often gets over looked. I am very gentle when I work. My brushes caress the paper not force pigment to lay where placed. I encourage flow and natural interaction of pigments. This I hope to demonstrate in my new DVD which will be filmed in March 2012.

 But I have to admit,while sat here typing I can still see my flowers,my easel and  smell the heady  perfume which appears to be coming from my painting as much as the real thing!

I am heading back to paint and quickly.


Watercolour Brush Research 2012

I am currently doing  research on watercolour brushes so every single mark I make on paper really is important to be observed for  so many fine details.  What make are best and why ?

More on that later.

For now my brushes are calling me!


Friday 13 January 2012

The Wey Gallery.Godalming Exhibition 2012

Watercolour Collection at the Wey Gallery
Godalming, January 2012

Yesterday I visited the Wey Gallery in Godalming to see  a collection of my watercolours on display to open their 2012 year for an exciting future of vibrant exhibitions.

Last year I held a solo at the Wey Gallery in Spring 2011 and from then have regularly had work on display there. My subjects range from horse racing, sailing and landscape scenes mainly in a contemporary style. My sheep and cockerel paintings have become so popular that at the moment they are very hard to find on a gallery wall.

This is a  very up to date gallery with art by many fascinating artists.The work is unique and always,without fail, takes my breath away when I walk through the door.

I will be holding another major solo exhibition later in the year and this is the main reason why my blog has fallen quiet at times, because I am  looking forward to showcasing my new collections for the first time later this year with many surprises. 

I hope to share more art on my blog very soon though!


Wednesday 11 January 2012

2012. A. New Years Challenge

Building up a background behind a petal

Art should not be boring. It should excite not just the viewer of a finished painting but the artist who is moving the brush while the piece is being created.

Over the last few weeks I have come across friends and colleagues who have mentioned the dreaded words to me that they are either bored or are finding it very hard to feel motivated to pick up their brushes.  Many of the artists have been painting the same subjects in exactly the same way for years. Other messages are flooding in from the beginner or amateur  who desperately wants to paint or make a huge breakthrough in their painting results this year.

I always feel sad when I hear of anyone struggling when they paint, whatever their reason may be for feeling so low and despondant. Because working in watercolour is such a freeing sensation. Possibly too much pressure is placed on their shoulders to succeed in whatever their goal is that they are aiming for.

Right now it is the beginning of a new year and there is so much to look forward to. As each season approaches we can enjoy what nature has to offer, adore painting landscapes and architecture in the many fascunating lights to come and capture the animals we love via  dynamic brushstrokes that bring them to life.

But not if a starting point comes from negative thinking or a despondant feeling of depression!

So my New Years challenge is for you to pick any subject, consider the true colours you see and then paint exactly the opposite. Especially in the background. Choose cheerful,vibrant pigments and place them as a backdrop allowing them to merge freely with each other. Next allow them to dry and  see what the results are. Avoid muddy messes and aim for clean, fresh, exciting effects.

I have been painting gorgeous Christmas roses from my garden. From life in reality I see beautiful colour behind these snow white flowers and yet my photograph of them indicates a dark section that could be flat and boring.

I am opting for purples and pinks to shine against Cadmium Yellow for my background.

Christmas Roses from my garden

An unusual colour combination for my floral background.

Thinking differently, having a positive approach to working in watercolour, observing the beauty in all that we see and loving life can have such a huge impact on our work. So if you are having problems painting  or picking up your brushes, consider why that is happening to you. Then throw all the negative thoughts out of your window and paint cheerful paintings full of vibrant colour and life.

Soon you won't be able to put your brushes down and if I have anything to do with it, you will be having a year ahead that is filled with fabulous paintings!


Tuesday 10 January 2012

A Vibrant Beginning

Rowan Berries bursting to life in a watercolour
From a workshop demonstration in Autumn 2011

Life is amazing. Mine never seems to have a dull moment in it. 

I have been completing my new book which will be launched in May 2012. This week saw the cover arrive for my approval of design and lay out. Seeing the idea actually in print is a very emotional  moment that always lives with me. I felt nervous when I saw the cover of my first book over a year ago. I thought seeing the cover of my second book would be easier. If anything the nerves are this time far worse. Maybe I expect far too much from myself but I so want this next publication to be as loved as the care I put into bringing it together. It holds many of my favourite watercolour secrets given to me and developed over the years.

Working on this new book has seen me locked in my studio recently but gripped mainly with the proof reading  and making decisions time after time. This has kept me away from what I love doing most of all.

So today I have adored being back in my studio, holding and moving my brushes on a new watercolour collection that will be shown later this year. I delivered the first pieces for framing this afternoon. I have exhibitions lined up throughout the year and the first of my 2012 workshops starts next month. I can't wait as I have so much I wish to share with everyone attending.

I know this is going to be a very special year. I can feel it.The messages and requests coming my way are unbelievable and plans for 2013 are already in the pipeline with a workshop proposal for Australia.

For now all I want to do is paint,and enjoy the sheer pleasure of colour moving across paper.
At last!


Tuesday 3 January 2012

January 2012

Christmas Roses in early stages of a new watercolour

It's here. A new year and like a fresh piece of white paper it is waiting to be covered with glorious colour and excitement.

The colour will come from my new watercolours and the excitement will build up gradually until the launch of my new book. It's very hard waiting for its' release but I know the wait will be worth it. Even now, there are still final decsions to be made before it goes to print. A couple of new pages have been added since my last post and I have now written the acknowledgements.

This morning the latest issue of the SAA ,Society for All Artists " Paint" magazine arrived and I was delighted to see I was featured in the " In the Picture " series which gives an update and insight into my art career.

I have many emails to reply to  that have built up over the Christmas period and also a few  engagments and projects desperately need my attention so I will be posting as and when I can during January.

Even so I wandered around my garden this afternoon and was thrilled to see a cluster of Christmas roses bursting into bloom. I couldn't resist just a few quick washes to relax from all the more serious work I have in my studio at the moment.And I loved the break!

Happy painting