Saturday, 13 August 2016

Variety is the Spice of Life : Robin in Watercolour

" Favourite Visitor"
Robin in Watercolour

There is no doubt about it. I am inspired. I have been reading my latest book " Paint Yourself Calm" and using the exercises from it daily. You may think I paint daily anyway so why would anything I do now be different. Well for one I have had  such a busy year that at times I couldn't paint at all which is very unusual for me. Family life took me well away from my studio and when I was in it I had to catch up on so much administration for future tours and my own UK workshops. I lost my muse for a while. My artistic energy level was drained. I know we can all feel like this at times and its a very hard feeling to climb out of. Which is why painting colour washes with no pressure is so helpful and motivational.

Now I am not only back in my studio but my own personal art journey has seen a huge growth in style, technique and results. I am over the moon. This was achieved purely from my daily playing with colour. Maybe I am also influenced in how I approach painting by some of the professional artists I meet  when I am on tour or travelling. Many tell me quietly that they do what they do but they don't love it anymore. They have been painting in the same style, with the same colours and working with the same subjects and the same techniques for years. Passing on this information in the same teaching style too and their passion is dying. They find teaching a chore and sadly some find painting a chore too.

That would kill me!

I have to be free to create whatever I wish and whenever I wish with whatever colours or techniques grab me in that moment in time. This week I have been painting so many things and especially got caught up in my new addiction for painting blackberries. Every day I walk into my studio and paint something new. I paint a few daily washes to warm up and then on top of one of those washes I will paint a new subject. This means my imagination is continually opened up as I have to find just the right subject to work on top of each wash. And each painting will be different.

One wash this week was in shades of turquoise and violet. It looked so cold. As it happens the little robin that visits our cottage each day made an appearance and sat outside my studio so I painted him. My husband buys meal worms especially to feed this little bird and I laugh at him. Not so long ago he was laughing at me , telling me I was " soft" for buying duck food for the wild ducks in our garden. We both love wildlife so much and it shows. We do all we can for every creature and living thing that visit our cottage garden and are rewarded by hours of viewing of beautiful birds and wildlife visitors.

So here is my first stage of the robin. Created on top of a first exercise wash which was aimed for the bin.. This piece is definitely not going in a bin now, for sure.  I started with painting the eye  and  worked away from it building up the head and body of the bird with suitable colour. I left the first stage to dry completely before working further. This gave me the chance to look at this painting with fresh eyes this morning. It is beautiful even though I shouldn't say that as the artist who painted it, but it makes me feel good! I know the cheeky little bird and feel I have caught its' character.

 Stage 1

Sometimes when you paint a subject without a pencil sketch to follow you have to go very gently to make sure your brushwork and detail is in the right place. So I painted thus in soft shades at first.

Stage 2

Once I knew I was happy with what I painted I then went in with far stronger detail. You cant see the feather detail on this painting on screen but it looks gorgeous offline.


Artist Tips:

1) Don't repeat daily painting of the same thing.
2) Make yourself paint something completely new as a subject as often as you can
3) Paint three washes every single day
4) Paint on top of one of the daily wash exercises every day too!

Mainly and most importantly

Just Paint! 


"Paint Yourself Calm" is a book to invest in, to read not just paint from. It is created to get you in the mood to paint. No matter what is happening in your life. It certainly has helped me and I will forever be grateful that I had the chance to write it. It is available on

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