Thursday 31 January 2019

Health and workshop update

Colour Blast 2019

USA 2019 Spring Tour Cancelled

Ironically my last blog post was titled " We can't always have what we want" and now I can't. Because right now I should be judging the New England Art Society exhibition in Boston followed by workshops there and further courses in two California locations including the California Watercolor Association.  But sadly I have had to cancel everything on this trip due to health hiccups. 

I am so sorry to disappoint everyone who had booked my courses but my health took a serious and completely unexpected turn.  I am seeing specialists. To say I am heart broken is an understatement as I have to date never had to cancel any of my courses apart from when I famously broke my ankle whilst teaching in Australia. There I tried to persuade the surgeon that if he patched me up I only had two days teaching to go after which I would happily return to the hospital and  have the obviously needed operation. Even then, with my determination strongly working I did teach the next courses which were in UK albeit in a wheel chair with my foot elevated, rather than let anyone down. To date I have never let anyone down if I can help it.

Now the situation is out of my hands and I must follow advise.

As my family and friends keep telling me  "Health has to come first" which is hard for me as my artists on my workshops have always come first in my career. Their pleasure, enjoyment and happiness is always all that has mattered to me and it is why I love teaching so much.

It should be a few months before I can make future plans.

For now I am resting, following doctors orders and painting quietly in my studio.

This is not how I saw 2019 starting. But hopefully the rest of the year is going to be brilliant.

I have been in touch with all the workshop hosts and locations. But to everyone who has missed out on this trip I really am so very sorry. Believe me, if I could have come I would have!


Wednesday 16 January 2019

We Can't Always have What We Want

 Snowdrops forming created by using a negative edge technique to place the flowers on an initial first wash. A work in progress, first stages of a painting.

We can't always have what we want, when we want it. And so we need to learn to adapt , wait patiently and enjoy whatever it was we yearned for when it finally arrives, if it ever does. In my case at the moment my wish is to see snowdrops in my garden before I leave for USA and my next workshops there at the end of this month. It isn't a huge wish. It isn't incredibly important. But to me it would mean the world if they could just bloom now. I love painting from life and I want to paint them in my garden in their natural settings. But as they are not appearing just yet I am having to use a collection of my own photographs, past paintings and my imagination to work from to create. Which probably isn't a bad thing because this way my colour choices and techniques to act as backgrounds will probably be far more innovative. As seen above in a close up of my latest snowdrop painting.

I started today by painting on fresh white paper. Two beautiful clean washes emerged with white space to add my snowdrops. They looked......... actually they look perfect but something is missing from them. A sense of excitement I feel. They look almost wooden and pre sketched with absolutely no movement. I looked at them on my easel, these first snowdrop paintings and considered all that I didn't like about them. They could easily be replicated. They looked preplanned to the point of being dull. I'd left no room for spontaneous additions of  further flowers. They actually looked "predictable" in that millions of exact same paintings could be around all over the universe.

Which led me to look at a few exciting washes I had already that had not been paintedon,  to act as backgrounds, and I found one that was perfect for this adventure in creating.

Now my heart was beating familiarly. I was excited at what could happen next. I easily saw where my first snowdrop flowers could be placed on the wash and then I sensed the familiar oak leaves at their base from my garden scenes last year. There is movement, life and positive energy in this piece and hints of the cold weather that is here in UK at this time of year.

It thrills me.

I can't wait to work further on this piece. It is far more enjoyable and it really has been inspired by my reading my own book " Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" . In this flower book I offer ideas on how to create white subjects and how to make your flower paintings more interesting. I listened to my words in the book and painted from my heart which now feels far more alive!

Below you can see the whole painting as a work in progress so far.

"Snowdrop Heaven"
A work in progress.

Artists Tip for the day

Do you feel your work is becoming predictable? As in are you painting the same subjects in exactly the same way with the same techniques and colours each day? If it is, are you happy? If not how are you going to change your art?

It is a new year. Now is the time to really go for gold if you want to have fun and feel stimulated when you paint. Which in turn should lead you to fabulous unique results.

So here is a challenge.

Look back to something you painted last year and paint it now in a completely different way using new colours and techniques. Then compare the two paintings and see which you prefer!

Stretch yourself and find the inner artist that may be lurking screaming to get out!



Sunday 13 January 2019

Stan and Ollie : The Movie

 Stan and Ollie 
Five minute impression

Last night John and I went to see the movie " Stan and Ollie", which tells the story of Laurel and Hardy, legends in the world of comedy.

All day today I have heard the tune they danced to in my mind, and  I have smiled every single time. But it wasn't the movie that touched my heart so much as the memories it brought flooding back of my father. My Dad worked so hard, like many, to feed his family and make sure we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. Ours was not a grand house but it was spotlessly clean and my stepmother was so proud of it. She had come from a family of thirteen who were mainly male and all miners. Times were hard and there was so little to laugh at back then but laugh they did. 

Dad used to love watching this pair of comedians. He would sit laughing until tears rolled down his face. In fact at times I thought he was about to have a heart attack, so strong was his laughter and his holding of his sides as he did so. I remember not understanding the humour as I didn't " get it". I honestly didn't at the time. But this week I was fascinated by the idea of learning about the men who made so many people laugh out loud.  Which led to us as a couple to be sat in the movies watching the film last night.

I found the film very slow in places. I felt sorry for how these wonderful men were treated at times. But I watched and found myself holding back tears at the very end of the film. It was so moving. The friendship, strong sense of companionship, compassion, understanding and road these men travelled throughout their career was touching. And it makes you wonder, how many people did they make laugh in their life times?  During times when people desperately needed to laugh.

I " 'get it" now. Completely.

And if my Dad is looking down I would love him to know I do.

I found myself grabbing a small scrap of paper this afternoon as I closed my studio painting session. I mixed a few skin tones very hastily using Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre to begin and started to place two face shapes in blocks of colour on paper. When I create faces in watercolour in this way with no preliminary pencil sketch it really is a situation where a face appears or it doesn't. Its' almost a spiritual experience and I wasn't surprised when Ollie started to make an early appearance. Laurel seemed to like him taking over until his own smile appeared.

Side by side this incredible pair led an interesting life. I hope they knew how much they were loved and how much joy they brought into the world. My early stages of their faces I didn't capture on camera as I only had my Ipad to hand. These last few stages show how the painting of  Laurel and Hardy is forming. I like the stage below best of all.They are almost there but not quite.

 I couldn't resist sharing.

This ones for you Dad, you'd have loved the film!

Stan and Ollie first wash,
Essence of a duo.

Blissful Sunday

Double Trouble

Sunday is my day of pure relaxation but I am often found in my studio still on the weekends as I simply love painting. With my next new book complete I can begin to think about other projects that are waiting to be completed. Right now I am working daily with USA on a fabulous new venture, details of which will be released soon. But I race to my computer each morning to begin photography sessions and then I send the images that are needed to complete this next entrance to 2019 as part of my art adventure. Its' exciting.  This means by the end of January I will have completed two exciting projects and I have many more to look forward to.

I'm staying with painting fish at the moment because I see mine each day, coming up to be fed regardless of the cold weather.

I am using a variety of colours in this collection but anyone who has been on last my years' workshops should instantly recognise my favourite shade Daniel Smith, Aussie Red Gold, coming into play on each goldfish. Its' such a great colour. I can use it almost in its' neat form for strong bold colour placement or use it heavily diluted with water to gain a more translucent appearance. Perfect for painting fish submerged under water

Close up of a section of Pure Gold


Life is golden. Living life with a positive attitude is a blessing. Instead of seeing grey days of winter I see time to recharge my batteries and we all need that luxury from time to time.  So instead of racing around I'm actually tackling one project at a time instead of zillions and loving every second.


Artists challenge?

Relax and simply think about what you would like to paint when you next pick up your brushes.
Think about a subject that really turns you on, one that you are desperately eager to paint and imagine what colours you would use to create it.
But now for the hard part.

You can't paint it physically today!

Paint it in your head several times swapping colours and the composition around as much as possible.

When you pick up your brushes next, paint the one that pleased you most.

I have already done that.
And I can't wait for tomorrow to come!

Plan to keep your energy levels and enthusiasm as high as possible this year to make your creative time feel brilliant yet alone achieved in your results.


Saturday 12 January 2019

Green With Envy!

Green Envy
Colour fun  using my favourite Daniel Smith green shades

In winter with so little colour around it's easier to see and enjoy the variety of green shades in the evergreen plants and trees that show off so well at this time of year.

Just going for a walk is magical as I take time to study each green shade I see. Has it a blue hue? Are there brownish tints on the leaves, if so where? If I was to paint a certain plant, like ivy or holly for example, which green shade would I use? There are so many to choose from and it is fun deciding which would be best in colour matching exercises.

I loved writing the winter section in my latest book " Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" as it made me really see clearly how gorgeous winter can be.

Having said that I have always been fascinated with colour but I have often wondered where the saying " Green with envy" comes from. Or the description" Green Eyed Monster"  . I have green eyes but I hope I'm not or ever have been a monster!  I first started reading up about colour years ago. Its' rather neat to understand where sayings and ideas relating to my favourite shades originated from.

Ancient Greeks believed that if you were pale you could be seen as being ill, complexions would be a clue as to what ailed a patient. Lack of a healthy colour indicated illness possibly connected to bile  problems, giving skin have a slight greenish hue.  This is certainly how I have felt in the past when I used to suffer from sea sickness. I always felt my skin had turned green.

From this belief green became linked to illness, it was also thought that jealousy could cause problems with over production of bile. Hence jealousy caused the green appearance of the skin and the saying " Green with envy" now makes sense. Sort of!

Fascinating isn't it?

However, while there is beautiful weather I'm off for yet another walk to see how many green shades and ideas I can come up with before the day is out.

Have fun seeing green!

Artists challenge

How about discovering one new green shade before January is over. It has to be a green shade you have never used before.  I would love to hear what you find if you would like to share your discovery in a reply!


Friday 11 January 2019

USA Spring Tour 2019 : Boston and California

"Pure Gold Too"

It seems unbelievable as time is flying by so quickly but I will be on tour again in February this year. This time visiting completely new teaching locations to me in Boston and California. Details can be found below. Whilst all the workshop classes are already fully booked I will be giving demonstrations in each location. Information is given below regarding dates and details of when these will take place. My demonstrations are pretty high energy full of many tips on how I work and create. They give a good insight into what my workshops are like too! I will be book signing at these events also.

 2019 USA Spring Workshops
New England Watercolor Society 
I am honoured to be the juror of the New England Watercolor Society 2019 Signature Show. Full details of my demonstration here can be seen in the following link
(Feb. 2 Juror demonstration, 5-7pm )
 1/2nd February Fully Booked
 4/5th February  Fully Booked

 Coachella Valley Watercolor Society
Demonstration details February 11th 2019 
12/13th February 2019 Fully Booked
 14/15th February 2019 Fully Booked


California Watercolor Association
Demonstration details 20th February 2019
 19/20th February 2019 Fully booked


Paint Yourself Positive : Pure Gold

"Pure Gold"
Piece inspired by a favourite demonstration in my new book "Paint Yourself Positive" 

Amazing.  Life is simply amazing. We have so much power individually and yet we rarely appreciate it. The power to be happy. To be fitter. To be wiser. To be kinder. To simply be.

Its' not a secret. I have been working on a new book which will be launched later this year and I am not exaggerating by saying it has changed my life. For the better. As I wrote each chapter I thought long and hard how I could improve my own life, routine and attitude by painting myself positive. And oh boy have I changed. In so many ways. Its' refreshing to feel so rejuvenated. I feel so alive and it is fantastic!

This time last year I was preparing to leave my home for my early 2018 tour. I was a little overweight as we so often are after the Christmas season. I was definitely less fit as I no longer walk a dog daily. And my routine as gorgeous as it was saw me painting for hours in my studio especially in winter, writing and fitting my social life around my work. Family always have and always will come first. As they should.  But me? I was at the bottom of my own list in priorities.

We have been trained , or at least I have, to put others first. Always. In every single way. And I love doing so. I adore making others happy. I always have since I was little. I think that's why I enjoy sharing my art techniques so much because I know I am in such a great mood when I am creating and I want others to feel this way too. But seriously I have never really given a lot of time or thought to "me". And I know many of my friends who will instantly say " I know just what you mean".

My family, art, home and garden come first. There was always something far more important or urgent to do than " me" time. That is, other than painting.

There is a chapter in my new book about trying new things. In my book I mean new colours or techniques. But new " anything" can be such a boost to the soul. Last year saw me taking up new activities. Yoga, Pilate's and Zumba. Okay, perhaps taking them ALL up in one go was a little over enthusiastic but this year I am looking ahead to a new year feeling much fitter, more alive, more excited than ever before and I am raring to go in my studio.

I am making time for everything so that when  I look back at this year I can say honestly, wow what a ride! My art will be the best ever. And my goal is to inspire everyone around me who paints to say the same thing. No dull compositions, no boring repetitive work. New colours, new texture. I'm going for gold!

When I am not painting my goal is to enrich my life in so many ways. health, interests and seeing as many friends as possible because life is far too short.

This is where I have a confession to anyone who doesn't know. I had a health blip/scare last year and I am happily fine now. But it was a wake up call. And perhaps I needed it! 

But back to my art.

I have so many new products, samples , techniques and ideas to share and I have no idea where to start in telling everyone about them. My book "Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" woke up a dormant side of me regarding experimenting.  Like the fish in my painting, I am swimming towards a fabulous direction in life. One that will be really appealing on so many levels. I want adventure in colour, creativity and excitement each time I pick up my brushes.

That is a strong positive.

I am going to paint myself positive all year, and for years after that.

My new book is already available to pre order on

But for now, those last chapters in my last book, on painting flowers led me to incredible abstract ideas with new products and I'm eager to get back to using them.So for now I will admit I have many blog posts to follow so please bear with me.

2019 is going to be the best year yet.

Artists Challenge.

As my new book isn't out yet how about getting started with your own positive challenges to yourself for this year

A few questions

1) When was the last time you did something completely new? Not just art related. Think about it and then decide, when will you next be doing something that may be slightly out of your comfort zone
( I'm telling you, walking into an advanced yoga class with almost everyone practically balancing on one finger is possibly my most embarrassing moment to date. But you should see me now ! )

2) When was the last time you bought new watercolour shades? If not recently, why not?

3) Art wise, when was the last time you painted a completely new subject or tried a new technique?

Now set yourself three challenges to complete by the end of this year. Make one easy and one not so easy and make one something you would love to do but have never managed to.

( By the way, I haven't got bungee jumping from my list. I have decided I don't think its quite " me" )

Have a great 2019!

It is up to you if its going to be a great year or not.

You have the power.



Wednesday 2 January 2019

We can't see love but we all know it exists.

You can see this only if you believe 

Maybe you will need tissues to read my blog today. It isn't my usual sort of post but it is one my heart wants me to share.

Yesterday was New Years Day and every year we visit friends who invite us for a wonderful meal to celebrate. But this year was special. And happy. Because this time last year our host discovered shortly after our 2018 celebration that he had Cancer. The last twelve months have been a battle for him yet he has inspired us all by his positive and extremely brave attitude.  He has the most wonderful loving family and many friends , like us,who adore him. Because he is "one of those guys" who touches your heart, makes you laugh and listens if you need a friend to lean on. We were all so very worried for him and his family last year. But while I was on tour in USA last December John and I received the best message of all, Our friend has won the battle.  And so this New Years Day saw our host raise a glass to give very touching thanks all his friends and family for their love and support through such a difficult time.

Sadly though, yesterday was a day for tears as well because we learnt that another dear friend we know had lost his battle. He passed away on New Years Eve. My heart aches. It was really emotional when our friend yesterday added to his toast in honour of our friend who will be really sorely missed. My eyes leaked as they do. It was too hard to hold back the tears.

I came home thinking how I awoke yesterday morning celebrating how wonderful it was to be with my soul mate, best friend and husband John. We have yet another full year ahead of us to share even more wonderful times together. But as happy as I was then we heard the sad news of our friends passing.

New Years Day 2019.

I came into my studio today and looked at my unicorn painting from yesterday and before I could stop myself I added to it. They say you can only see unicorns if you believe in them. But you know, it has to be said. Just because you can't see anything it doesn't mean its ,not there. You can't see love for example but we all know it exists.
I would like to think that our friend is there still but out of sight. His love for his wonderful wife will still exist even if he is out of view. As if he is in another room. 

And then my mind raced thinking of all my dear friends who will understand and relate to this blog post.

If you are missing a loved one. I hope you can think of them as being in another room still loving you and aware of you.

Because they could be watching over you.

Show them how happy you are if you can. Make them as proud of you when you can't see them as if you could.

Oh yes, we can say unicorns don't exist but magic does.

And love is pretty magical.

Huge hugs to all who need them today and I will be sharing more on my blog soon. Colourful happy posts. I promise.