Wednesday 31 December 2014


I love this time of year, especially when we get lovely bright, crisp mornings, and since getting our little schnauzer, Maggie May I have found some lovely new painting locations, I'm now just waiting for some snow!
I find I return to my favourite subject in all weathers, the allotments, although I have recently found another two in the village so there will be more subjects to inspire coming up soon!

I decided to share with you this final painting of 2014.

I like to begin with a coloured canvas, sometimes its multi coloured, perhaps swirls and blocks of colour using up paint already on my palette, then I get down to blocking in what is actually there using a dark colour. The advantage of this, is that I can block in the colours I actually see, rather than just an overall colour.

In this case however, as I was taking my canvas outdoors, I pre-painted it all over in an ochre colour. You can usually spot these pre-prepared canvases as the ground is always the same colour all over rather than multi coloured. 

Once I have established the overall shapes and values I begin to add blocks of bolder colour. I usually only use about 6 - 8 colours in any given painting, sometimes fewer.

It is my intention to paint the 'feel' of the subject and gradually 'bring it into focus' as I go along. 
I can never understand how other artists paint a tiny detailed area leaving the rest of the canvas untouched, then slowly extend the detailed area until the entire canvas is filled. 

I need to see the 'whole' so that I can tell if my composition is going to work, the total balance and finally the colours. I tend to work from the back to the front as I build up the details, so for example, once I am satisfied with the background I then add more tree branches and twigs. Then I find the need to plunge in with the bright colours, I just block them in. I love it when they 'zing' against the background, the blue water pots almost pop out of the canvas! and the little blue cart is in the perfect spot.

As it happens, this little cart was not here at all, it was more to the right, out of view, but in order to make the composition better, I moved it into the picture. That's the joy of painting, being able to change things!

Of course, you can't just move something and paint it exactly as you see it unless it is fairly close to where you want it, otherwise the lighting is different. If I had to turn around to see it, the lighting would be totally wrong, but just mentally moving something a few metres is what I like to think of as... 'tweaking'

I suppose that is the difference between painting exactly what you see and using artistic licence, at the end of the day, who cares? The only person that knows is me... and now of course, you!

I am looking forward to painting more in 2015.

If you have enjoyed reading  my blog, do let me know. Tell me what you like to read about and I shall try and do a a little more next year. Meanwhile, I wish you the very best for 2015... happy painting!

Monday 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Today is the final day before I engulf myself in Christmas. I have been painting each day this month to complete a series of paintings for Galleries and today the final group will arrived all beautifully framed and ready to hang. Its so exciting to see a painting framed, and I have to say, it is with a little pang of sadness coupled with excitement that I wrap them up to hang on someone else's wall. They will all go to loving homes and give pleasure to others and surely, that's what painting is all about.
I get so much enjoyment from painting so its perfect that someone else gets enjoyment from living with them. 

Many of you are probably well organised for Christmas, all our gifts are wrapped and under the tree but the fridge is looking pretty bare and as the family all arrive tomorrow I had better get my skates on! I did however make the cranberry sauce yesterday afternoon and collected our turkey from the farmers market. There is not a mince pie in sight though!

So to all of you who enjoy painting and take the time to read my very infrequent blog, have a very Happy Christmas and a healthy, happy 2015 :)

Friday 14 November 2014

Paintings sold

My new collection of winter paintings are now at the gallery in Burford, I dropped them off less than two weeks ago and was thrilled to get a call on Monday to tell me that a third had sold on the first week-end, and to please bring in some more!
Goodness that was quick, they can't have been on the wall long.
I have five more ready to take this week-end.
These are a couple of the ones just sold.

This is a lovely walk I do in all weathers, the trees are so varied and the snow clings to the branches. We were lucky with a big snow fall, so I painted this one.

This is the view from the other direction looking towards the village.
I know I shouldn't really wish for snow, but I do hope we get some this winter, I really missed it last winter!

Sunday 26 October 2014

A busy time - new workshops planned

My feet have not touched the ground this summer and life has sped by at an alarming pace!
Ive done lots of paintings and taught in some lovely workshops, a particularly nice one was figures using water soluble media. I do so enjoy painting figures and have introduced collage to some of my work lately (which will appear in an article I am almost finished writing for LP).
Here is an example of what I have been up to, flooding in washes and glazing colour over text and line - great fun. This painting came about after a trip to France where I spent far too much time sitting on station platforms people watching. Something did come out of it though, lots of people studies to use! Hoorah! (Always look on the bright side)

With my last workshop here in the Cotswolds being this week I have been planning the Spring subjects for 2015. I know many of you like to get organised with your dates so I have been super efficient and have just added four dates to my website taking us up to June. As you know, I don't offer many workshops so I try and make them as varied as possible. The water soluble media workshops were very popular this year and I think quite a few people were surprised at what can be achieved, drawing skills was also something we spoke about with many people wanting a fun day learning how to draw, so I have a 'seeing' day planned for the Spring which will be lots of fun.
If you didn't manage to get to the Cotswolds to join me this year, perhaps you will in 2015.

Friday 5 September 2014

Come and visit us

It's been the most fabulous summer with lots of outdoor painting opportunities, plenty of sunshine and long days to get lots of painting done. 
I have painted a few river paintings this summer which include children paddling, a scene very common here in the village during the school holidays. Fishing nets and home made boat races seem to be the order of the day, a great reminder of childhood without the internet and technology. A simpler time when making things and inventing games was what the summer holidays were all about, so I enjoy seeing children enjoying the river in the sunshine.
Each painting I have done over the summer has sold, which is lovely, so I have four of my most recent paintings being framed in time for my Open Studio event next week. 

The Open Studio is between the 10th to the 14th of September and we are open from 10.00 - 4.00 each day. Our marquee was erected over the Bank holiday week end in preparation for the event. , it's a three man job putting it up, so family come to help us with the promise of some tasty meals and an otherwise relaxed week end. 

The added fun this year was our additional helper?? Our new puppy, Maggie May. She has chewed a few used brushes and bit into a tube of gouache which could have been a disaster, but we got to her just in time! All paints are now above dog height and she is banned from Terry's studio!  

Do come and visit us, watch some painting demos and view all the paintings we have on display.
This event is free, but this year I am selling lovely hand made poppies as part of the national poppy appeal, I have just 24 hand knitted poppies which I made during the winter evenings and I am hoping people will make a donation to have one of my lovely creations!

Saturday 19 July 2014

Painting in Sorrento

The Grande Harbour in Sorrento is actually the smallest of three harbours which has the old fishing boats in it as well as hundreds of people all packed under  bright coloured umbrellas.
I had been the afternoon before and chosen where I would sit, in the quiet section, out of the sun and away from the people, a nice little spot in-between the finishing nets.

This is what I painted in the morning.

Then I walked along the harbour front and found a nice little sheltered place in a tiny bay (still in the harbour) but here it was quieter and I managed to paint some of the people. 

I keep the shapes really simple and the colours nice and fresh. Although the paint was drying quickly, there is no time for laying washes and multi layering watercolour, I just get in the figures then add a simple background. If I was painting this in the studio I would have put the background all over first, right over the figures, then painted the figures on top, but outdoors, they would have gone for their lunch by the time the first wash had dried!

These are the same three figures with the addition of some boats. 

I went back to this little bay the following day and did this quick little study.

I saw this lovely couple they stood for ages (which was great for me) there is more to this little sketch than at first appears.

Then the quiet was broken by some lads who decided to play football. Well, one lad filled his bucket with water and proceeded to create a 'pitch' by wetting the sand.
I managed to remember to take a photo of my original drawing to show you how very simple my contour drawings are.

I am afraid the quality isn't great but you get the idea.

This was it once the paint was added. It became very rowdy shortly afterwards so it was time to move on.
I returned once more on my final day to my original spot by the boats and saw these two sorting out the nets. I couldn't rest it, they were there such a long time, working away and I must have been about 20 yards from them. They didn't see me but I know had I moved to paint them from the front view, they would have spotted me and I may not have managed a little painting after all.

I use a palette of Daniel Smith watercolours which I love. The bronze is a fabulous colour for skin tones and the slight shimmer (which you can't see here) is wonderful for skin. 

If you manage to come to my Open Studio later this year (September 10th - 13th) you will be able to see these originals as well as watch me paint. 
I did some sketching and have some ideas for some paintings which I hope to complete this summer which I will have on display too. I had a great week in Sorrento, lots of lovely painting subjects.

The things I learnt in Sorrento this week
The price on the menu is never the price you payIf you order a drink and sit down, you pay for the table.If you order a drink and don't sit down, you still pay for the table.Three euros is never three eurosThe price of a beer in the same cafe can be different from day to dayIf the sign outside the restaurant says 'recommended by Jamie Oliver' remember it doesn't say which Jamie OliverMost two drinks seem to come to10 euros (8 if you are lucky).Take more spending money on holiday than you think you will need.A 10 minute walk is going to be at least 20
If the bus I'd due to arrive at 8.45 it won't.
In Italy you need to smile and go with the flow, it is what it is.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Porlock Weir

This was the view from my window at 5am... red sky in the morning....

We woke up to glorious sunshine again but the forecast predicted heavy rain by lunch time, so there was a rush to Porlock along the coast. This is such a fab harbour, there are some modern sailing boats as well as old wooden ones and lots of little rowing boats scattered about.
There is so much choice that if you are not careful you can spend an entire morning deliberating and not achieving anything.
The wind was picking up and I chose to sit in the wind because that was the view I wanted to paint, I didn't want to sit in a sheltered spot and compromise on my subject. I loved the dark harbour walls behind these white boats and the water glistening on the mud, but it all had to be done pretty swiftly.
This was the stage after flooding in the initial washes. I think the wind assisted the drying time, and the paper had to be securely taped in place. I was a bit worried balancing the painting on my feet to take a picture, I has visions of it flying off into the mud. (Terry lost his hat to the wind today, one more item in the harbour)

Next I need to add the darks, I have stumbled upon a really nice colour combination which seems to be lovely for creating warm interesting darks, Tarmac and Raw Sienna with Sunlit Green dropped in for the green sludge of the harbour.

I really enjoyed painting this little view, it became very dark and overcast so in order to keep the original light I had to look at the photo I had taken at the first washes stage to add the shadows. But the haste with which I needed to paint it helped my concentration, that's for sure. 
There is a certain atmosphere in a painting painted directly outdoors rather than those painted indoors, they often become firm favourites of mine. This one I am really pleased with.

It poured with rain just 10 minutes after this photo was taken and continued to rain heavily on our journey home, but what a wonderful trip we had.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Lorna Doone Country

This cluster of buildings and a ford is so quintessentially English, I just had to do a little pen and wash of it. I view pen and wash as a sketch, an excercise in looking and a simple way to portray buildings. I try not to add too much detail which can be quite hard when using a fine nib pen.

This was the stage when the pen was complete before the colour was added.

The colour is added really quickly and simply.

After lunch I fancied doing something relatively simple as I had a demo to do in the evening, so I needed some time to switch off and I wanted to avoid spending time on a more complex painting.
I had spotted this wonderful subject from the car park when I arrived in the morning, a lovely little VW camper van in my favourite colour! It was in shade in the morning and I hoped it would be in sunshine that afternoon.

This is my finished painting.

Monday 30 June 2014

Painting in Lynmouth

We were blessed with perfect weather for our painting trip based in the picturesque harbour of Lynmouth in North Devon. We stayed at Rock House Hotel which has magical views over the harbour and town, I could hardly wait to get my paints out when I saw the sun streaming into the room on our first morning. After a quick rekky I decided it just HAD to be the boats in the harbour with the tide out, great sparkling light and dramatic contrasts, my first washes flood on, after which I was itching to get going again. I suppose this is the down side of watercolour if you use this technique, the drying time, but whilst it's drying I tend to think about the next stages and plan my next colour mixes.

Then I begin to add those sumptuous darks. Confidence is essential because if the colour is too light another layer just doesn't look right, so deep breath and off I go! This proved to be a great place to paint, the harbour wall serves as my table so I stand to paint and have a mini studio all around me - who says painting outdoors is hard?

Once the dark blocks of colour are established I can then add a few details and that's it! after the basic drawing, the actual painting stage doesn't take more than an hour. I don't always draw first, but it like to draw the shapes of the boats, a wonky boat never looks great. The drawing doesn't have any details on it, just the simple basic shapes.

After lunch the tide started to come in so I painted the little rowing boats and their reflections. I found this nice sheltered spot on the harbour steps where no one could see me unless they leaned over the wall. 

This was such a lovely day, sunshine, bobbing boats and the cry of the seagulls. Talking of which... This chap found me very interesting, a bit too interesting really, he was so curious he came nearer and nearer a step at a time. He was much bigger than you might imagine!

This was my finished little study of Boats and Ropes, not such a great photo, but you get the idea I'm sure.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Patchings 2014

The Patchings Art Festival all sped by in a bit of a whirl again this year. There is a mad buzz of activity on the Wednesday as everyone arrives  with their stand props and art work all securely bubble wrapped ready to set up their areas. 
When the show finally opens on Thursday morning there is a tense excitement as the crowds pour into the venue and hundreds of people all dissipate around the festival grounds. There were 48 coaches and a field of cars on the Thursday alone!
There is so much to see that you could spend all four days here, you just can't see it all.
I was invited by The Artist and Leisure Painter magazine to demonstrate each day in their marquee, five demos throughout the day. The marquee gets very full with people sitting on the floor and standing where they can. Each year I think I will find the time to go around and take lots of photos, but the days just seem to fly by.

This is one of my half hour demos, using acrylics on Bockingford watercolour paper. It shows how I go about beginning a painting outside by looking for tonal blocks. The more time I have, the more the painting builds up.

This is a second example using the same idea but just an extra tonal dimension. I quite like the simplicity of these type of paintings.

Then I did a couple of watercolour demos, this one again a half hour demo with a simple background wash and three figures. That little lad on the right REALLY wishes he had a finishing net!

I did a few flower demos too which always seem popular. I try and pack as much into the half hour as I can, so I don't always finish a painting.

Terry Harrison demonstrates in the Art Materials Marquee at the other end of the show, this was him busy on the first morning. As you can see, it gets really busy and he always seems to attract a crowd.

David Bellamy and Jenny Keal came to say hello, which was lovely, although we only seem to meet up at shows!

There are some wonderfully talented artists who display their work at Patchings, it is my favourite show of the year and a chance to see old friends as well as make new ones.

Haidee-Jo Summers and Michele del Campo, two of my favourite artists.

Monday 2 June 2014

Preparing for the Patchings Art Festival

I can't believe another year has flown by and its Patchings this week once again. It really is my favourite show of the year, this is its 21st year and it seems to get better and better. There are so many talented artists to see, some demonstrating and others willing to chat to visitors and answer questions. 
If you can visit - 5th - 8th June
Patchings Art Centre
Oxon Road
NG14 6NU

I have been invited again to demonstrate on behalf of The Artist and Leisure Painter Magazines in their marquee (number 24) its right in front of the main entrance. The marquee has seating for you, and all of my demonstrations are free, you don't have to book, you just come along, find a seat and watch a demo or two, they last about half an hour.
I will be painting 5 paintings each day. The demonstrations will be at 10.30 11.30 1pm 2.30 and 3.30 the media and subjects will be listed on my black board so you can plan which ones you want to watch.

Ive planned some lovely demos this year which include figures, children paddling, (with nice reflections) boats (with lovely light on the water) and a bit of an experimental demo using mixed media. I have an idea the direction this demo will go in, and am planning on using stencils, sponging, transparent colour and opaque colour. I don't know what it will look like because it will be what ever takes my fancy on the day! That should keep me on my toes, so this one will be an exciting demo for me, especially with 50+ people all watching!

Birthday Tea - mixed media
I shall take photos during the show and put them on my blog next week. If you follow me on twitter I shall tweet from the event (phone signal permitting) with images.

Thursday 15 May 2014

My morning walk

When we are young, we never have time to smell the roses, but as we get a little older we begin to realise that we need to make the time. I try and go for an early morning walk whenever  I can and today I thought it might be nice to share it with you.

Its quiet in the village at this time of day, I love the dappled light, the sound of the water and the birds, they seem so loud, but that's probably because it is so quiet.

I am heading towards the 'Ford bridge' where there is a family of ducks I have been watching since they were tiny. There is a small run off where the ducks can get trapped when they are tiny, so a make shift rescue bridge is placed in the river to help them along. I have watched a line of them balance on the wood and hop up out of danger.

I'm not sure if its a good idea, but I count them, and there are 11 survivors this year out of 15. The heron has a lot to answer for, he stands silently along the bank here on the left and watches for any limpers or stragglers. This is the family this morning, sunning themselves.

The calm for the ducks is certainly shattered as a Labrador gallops up the river. He is having such fun it is hard to begrudge him!

I follow the river past the village car park and now begin to see parts of the village the visitors rarely see. The river narrows and I cross this little bridge, the iris are in bud, the shrubs are covered in blossom and the hedgerows seem particularly lovely this year.

The honeysuckle is amazing this spring, the hedgerow smells wonderful.

I pass the little stables along the way, these two love a bit of attention, a nose rub, goodness, they are velvety soft.

Then further along, its the chickens, in the blossom orchard. Most of them seem to be hiding this morning, now these are what I call 'free range' these are the hens I use as models for my paintings, and the eggs in my cooking. What could be nicer? 

After collecting the eggs, its time to head back, this is such a beautiful place, and just a few hundred yards from where I live. There are little lanes like this all over the UK, with people enjoying today, just as I am.

My walk takes me back along the river where I look for the trout. There used to be so many of them, but now there are very few, I think the heron eats them. However, i did see one this morning in the sunshine, lets hope the heron doesn't!

This is the little seat I like to sit on, there are lots of these along the river and at this time if day it is so peaceful, there is hardly anyone about. I am now almost at home, my walk is a wonderful way to clear the mind and smell the roses.