Tuesday 16 December 2014

Playing With Shadows : Robin in Watercolour

 Christmas Watercolour
Placed on my easel using natural, daylight shadow for ideas on where to add darks.
Option 1. Light in opposite corners.

I have many tips which I share when teaching watercolour workshops interntionally. I love this one because it is so simple. I sometimes place half finished paintings on my easel and allow the natural daylight shadow to fall in different places. By placing each painting in different light positions.The shadows that fall across my work gives me an indication of where to add darks or further layers of colour. Often in ways that I had not considered at first. It is a great tip.

I can show what I mean by using the watercolour of a robin that I shared on my blog yesterday. I have enjoyed working on it gradually. By adding tiny sections and additions of colour to it daily I give myself something fun to look forward to each day, when I come into my studio. This morning I placed the painting on my easel to see where to work next. I have two " shadow" options for the surrounding area.

Option 1. I can work a layer of colour across the central section of this painting . Not quite as dark as the shadow is, but this would give the illusion of bright snow around my focal point. As in the image above.


Option 2. I could add a soft layer of colour in the two opposite corners and leave the central section brighter. As seen in the image below.

Christmas watercolour
Placed in daylight shadow on my easel to gain ideas on where to add colour
Option 2. Dark opposite corners.

There are so many wonderfully easy ways to improve our art without even picking up a brush. And at this time of year many of us miss painting due to so much happening whilst preparing for the Christmas season. So if you are one of the unlucky people who can't get near your watercolours at least have fun enjoying and learning from shadows. By the time you do get back to painting you will have learned so much and discovered many ideas on how to improve your compositions. Just from observing light!

Happy painting!


Monday 15 December 2014

Adelaide Art Society : Watercolour Tour 2014

 Adelaide Botanical Gardens 2014
The trees in Australia are unbelievable!

I promised to  share news of my workshops  while on tour in Australia this year. So this first blog post is about my visit to Adelaide Art Society.

I started my Australia 2014 tour in Adelaide. I had been invited by the wonderful Adelaide Art Society which is lucky enough to have its' own building for art courses, talks and demonstrations. Beforehand emails had been exchanged regarding my workshops. So everything was organised well in advance. On arrival my husband and I met the organiser at the society venue. The person behind my being there. The wonderful Pam Saint.

Pam really is wonderful. A kind, enthusiastic and warm personality. As soon as we met I knew the week ahead was going to be terrific. And it was. In every way.  I have a certain way I like to set up a room for my workshops and as my husband travels with me this is his area. But at this location we had wonderful help and the room was ready in no time. Whatever I needed seemed to magically appear from easels to the ipod base for my music which is now a huge part of my teaching sessions and very popular , as I am constantly being asked for my music selection.

I  stayed at the nearby Tynte Street Apartments which were brilliant. This meant I could walk the five minutes  to class each morning and back again. Very easy!

The first two day workshop course began on the Tuesday and I was thrilled to meet such a fantastic group of artists.  After a brief introduction, I  began the course. I love the enthusiasm in sessions like this. A buzz fills the air that is hard to describe. The second workshop was as exciting with the next group of artists and I loved my time here.

I also loved the names of professional artists  I was given. Artists that I hadn't heard of before who came up in conversations. I must check one female artists' name as I felt very inspitred by her work. I will share her name when I have time in another blog post.

I gave a talk on the Friday evening for members of the Adelaide Art Society, at the same venue. The room quickly filled up and as I made my presentation I noticed a lady in the front row of the audience. She looked quite emotional at one point. She came forward to buy a copy of my book but unfortunately the last one left had been put aside as it had a damaged cover. I chose to give it away to her free of charge. We talked and she told me about her brother.  Amazingly, she is the sister of the  late David Keys, the founder of Art Spectrum.  Watercolour products that I adore. I had talked about how much I particularly loved Australian Red Gold in my presentation. I am so sad that I missed meeting this incredible man who had passed away but to be told by his sister that he would have loved to have met me, because of my own passion for colour . This really is a memory I will cherish forever. The next day Yvonne brought in papers for me to see. Wonderful documents that I have brought back to UK with me and am still reading, being inspired by each word. These papers include Davids notes and the celebration of his life from Davids' farewell. I was so touched by the words 

"Rest in peace David, and I'm sure there will be a ready supply of Art Spectrum colours up there beyond the Pearly Gates, and I'm also reliably informed that everyone up there uses oils and acrylics are banned " 

I so wish I could have met David. As strange as this may seem I felt as though an angel touched my shoulder and I was meant to be there. In Adelaide, meeting this lady and hearing about David Keys. Because an idea for a new book was born this year that I will be working on for some time, starting next year. A new project. This magical meeting gave me the push I needed to go ahead. How incredible life is. I will be reading these treasured notes and learning so much. So David, you are still inspiring artists  from all over the world. And long may you continue to do so.

But back to my visit to Adelaide. What a charming place to live!  Its' beautiful. While there I managed a day tour of the Barossa Valley which is absolutely gorgeous. And yes we did try a few Australian wines. We did manage to go to a wildlife park here too where I saw and fed wallaby, fell in love with koala and saw my first fairy wren. I little blue bird with stunning colour. I also visited the  wonderful Botanical Gardens which are well worth a visit.

Adelaide 2014 

The location of Adelaide Art Society is near a high street full of fascinating restaurants. In fact, when eating at night we were spoilt for choice and all were within easy walking distance of our apartment. A short drive away we were easily in range of even more tempting places to eat and I have to say, the food here is far too good and very hard to resist!

Near the Art Society itself is a fantastic bakery that sells incredible goodies for lunch. I learned what sliders are. Little delicious buns with tasty fillings. I also, unfortunately, discovered what "bee stings" were. Yummy cakes with honey on top and a cream filling.

Would I return to Adelaide Art Society? Yes, in  a heart beat. Everyone, seriously, was fabulous. Warm, welcoming, as fascinated in watercolour as I am. Plus the variety of talent in each workshop was stunning.  I'll remember the artist moving from Arcylics to watercolour for the first time and within just one day on my course leaping from heavy application of colour to light, allowing pigment to flow in exciting ways. I will think fondly of Di who was nervous at first but shone in her own terrific style. Even though she didn't realise it at first, she can paint in a loose style.  There is so much I want to share about Adelaide.

Since I have left I have heard the society would love me to return for future workshops and there are mentions in emails now of rather exciting venue choices if I do go back. So I will be seeing what I can physically fit in, because I know I need to visit new destinations who are patiently waiting for me to hold workshops too. But, oh my, this is a place I have to go back to and see people I desperately want to paint with again.

To Adelaide Art Society, thank you so very much for being so professional, so organised and so welcoming. You are on my hit list of places I want to come back to!

By the way, here I painted my first emu which now lives with one of the artists  who attended my workshops!

Adelaide 2014


My next blog post will be about my time teaching in Sydney

Watercolour Christmas Card Challenge 2014

Robin Appearing in a first wash
Work in progress

Everywhere I gave workshops over the past few weeks I left "homework" challenges. These, of course, are for fun but also they give artists attending a reason to use techniques covered on a course in a way that is interesting.

( I'm expecting a spider or snake from Craig, roses possibly from Diane, a parakeet with a santa hat from Leona and I have already had a fabulous cockerel from Carol. There are many more artists  I could mention but my blog post would be very long!)

Having set the homework I thought I had best make an effort to join in the challenge myself.

The "homework" is to paint a Christmas card that is unique using a variety of watercolour techniques. As a little robin sits outside our cottage daily I thought it would be fun to paint him for my piece. Unfortunately most days the sky here has been a little grey so I have opted to use artistic license and create a more gorgeous backdrop of blues and turquoise.

I'm wondering how many artists from my workshops recognise the favourite green in this work in progress?

Anyone can join in. Once you have painted your Christmas Card please reply to my blog post and share a link to your own blog page.

Whatever you are doing, have a fantastic Christmas and to those who I have sent special emails to, you know who you are, I'm thinking of you and sending very warm hugs with this message. I hope 2015 is really very special for you, and far better than you eve expect it to be. 
I'm only an email away, always!


Magical Time : Orchids

Orchids appearing from an experimental first wash
Australia Tour 2014

I had intended to catch up on my blog before now but life, as always, had other ideas for me this past week.  I fell quiet because the very last proof of my new book arrived and this would be my last opportunity to spot any mistakes or add to my next publication. This proof was the most magical yet as the design team have now worked with my current lay out and I have to say as I turned each page I felt very emotional. This is far more than I had hoped for . So all the time spent hidden away writing has been totally worth it.  My publishers are thrilled and so am I. So my new book is now officially ready to go to print and orders are already flooding in as it is  available to pre order on Amazon.com


On top of working on the final proofs of my book I have been literally wading through many terrific emails from artists who attended my workshops in Australia. I'm thrilled they were enjoyed so much and now I find myself looking ahead to 2015/2016 with new ideas to inspire and motivate. To be honest I am so "on a high" with all the colour and ideas from my time in Australia that all I want to do is lock myself away and quietly paint. So you may see less of me but that will mean I have more to share when I do come out of hibernation!


For now I am going through a few experimental paintings that I brought back with me from Australia. Pieces that have given me new ideas for next years courses. I don't like to stand still with my art. Nor do I like  to teach each year running workshops exactly the same as the previous years. 2015 is going to be  amazing on my courses as I have discovered new colour combinations, watercolour techniques and approaches to all manner of subjects and I have never felt so alive or rejuventated.

So if you are booked on one of my courses  in 2015, be warned, my watercolour addiction is even worse now. And this addiction is positively catching!


Artists on my Australian workshops watched the above orchids appear from a first wash. It was a magical moment as there was no image or flowers in front of me, I just painted these from my imagination and loved how they came to life.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Australia Workshop Tour 2014

I'm in  love with these wonderful animals!

I am home from a fabulous tour of Australia where I taught workshops and signed books in four main locations. It was a superb tour and I met many fantastic people along the path of each trips' eventful destinations. Many touched my heart in the most unexpected of ways and I am right now working through many fabulous emails from my new Australian friends.

Where do I start to write about it? The only way I can think of is to write about each individual location in seperate blog posts which I intend to start next week.

For now I wish to thank everyone who hosted, organised so beautifully and attended my workshops and talks. I am so lucky to meet such incredible artists and art societies.

The Lady Franklin Gallery in Hobart where I taught my first workshop in Tasmania.
This is to be followed by a wonderful blog post about the kindness I recieved there along with the many glorious artists I met.

 I have so much to share in the way of inspiration and even new colour combinations which will keep me painting happily for some time to come.

For now though, I am very tired after the flight home so I will chill this weekend and start adding to my blog from Monday. Im so sorry its been silent here for so long but the people I was with appreciated my spending all my time with them offline whilst travelling. 

Now I will return to my UK art life!

Roos' chilling as roos' do!


I have been inundated with  amazing emails  from everyone I met on my travels on tour and I will reply personally, as soon as time allows. So please don't think I have forgotten you!