Friday 14 December 2018

Teaching again in 2019

I have made the huge decision to begin teaching again after April 2019. I have missed you all, painting with you, chatting with you and seeing your progress.
It will be 2 years since I last taught or demonstrated and during that difficult time, there were days I felt I would never paint again, never mind the idea of teaching. However, as time passes I have begun to realise that I need to paint, not only on my own, but I need to share my experiences with you. As I said, I have missed you.
I have felt excited about painting again, and will be experimenting and developing new ideas and projects over the coming months. 

I have already agreed to teach for the Pure Watercolour Society at Windrush House near Burford next September, this has only just been agreed, so its not available to book yet, but places will be limited and more information will be available on the news page as I have it for you.

I am determined to begin 2019 with a positive mindset, for my own wellbeing as well as my family, so if you phone me and the answer machine goes on, I may be in the middle of a wash, and it wont necessarily be the laundry! 

I would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas wherever you are, and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your kindness and support over the last 18 months, it has certainly helped me to get through this difficult time.
I hope we will be able to paint together next year, if not in person, then perhaps I can master the mysteries of the video camera, and add some film clips to this blog! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Ready to go to new homes

This week has been a bit like 'old times' for me, there have been canvases and frames stacked up, paints and brushes out and 'in use' clutter all over my work area, and an air of 'things happening' in stark contrast to the neat and tidy work space which has welcomed me each day for the past 18 months. 
I think back on times when I wished for a 'tidy work space' and the 'time to just paint' and that phrase springs to mind....'be careful what you wish for' 
I used to be so rushed off my feet that I didn't have time to 'smell the roses' this Summer however, I did have time to 'smell the roses' and time has quietly moved on. 

I had 10 paintings but one sold this weekend which will be going overseas, these nine are going to The Longitude Gallery in Clitheroe this week.  

Friday 2 November 2018

Adapting to a new pace of life

The cold weather has arrived, the sun is shining and I am painting again.
I got off to a slow start in January, but my life has settled down at this new pace and I feel ready to start enjoying being creative once more.

Well being, has played a huge part in my progress. I know its a phrase that's banded about, but well being is really about giving yourself quality time.
I go walking with my little dog Maggie each day, often joining a friend who also has a schnauzer. The two dogs are the greatest of friends, with only 2 weeks between them, they are like siblings with one another. Walking in all weathers, being outdoors and able to appreciate life, is one of the things that has helped me through these past months.

Many of you have emailed me and spoken to me on the phone offering words of support, all of which I have very much appreciated. Many of you have said how Terry would have wanted me to paint again, and of course he would, however, I have to want to paint for myself and I am only just beginning to feel that now.

So, I won't go on about it, but the cloud is lifting.

So far, I have a collection of 10 new paintings ready to frame. They will be going to Clitheroe to the Longitude Gallery in time for January.
The frames have arrived and I have just photographed these paintings before they go into the frames.

I took some photos of a couple of the paintings during the painting progress. I have to decide at the start to do this, because I think the beginning is so important for you to be able to see the progression clearly.

This is possibly a little more detailed than I would have wanted, but I got carried away with all that lovely foliage! And yes, I know flowers can look a bit twee, but these were all there, and the dahlias in the foreground were gorgeous!

When I paint, I tend to build up a painting, starting with my tonal blocks.
I find this helps me to establish the correct lighting for the painting, rather than getting carried away with colour.


I never begin on a white canvas. I always start on a mid toned base. I pre-paint my canvas boards so I am ready to go as soon as I have the urge to paint. The base is usually a putty colour, an ochre grey colour, not too bright.

I dilute the paint and establish the darker sections of foliage. I'm not looking at any details, just blobs of tone. I then add the very dark sections (although sometimes I don't bother with this just yet) I do like to add a couple of posts and tree trunks as I find these are good to have in place so I can use them as a reference point when I cover things up later (which I always do!)
I have added the white or very light tone too. The white flowers in the foreground are really for your benefit, because I probably wouldn't have bothered with them at this point, but I think it shows the importance of tone, and how that base colour is darker than you might at first think.


Once that first stage is done, I suppose it really wouldn't matter where I then painted, but I like to get the back sections in. I do enjoy getting the backdrop to my subject in place, so I would recommend starting at the back and working your way forward.
My brush stroked are very bold and gestural. I don't mind if I paint over any edges, I tend to hold my brush at it's end, stand back from the easel and daub!
Sometimes I think I should just create a 'daub' painting and leave it at that!!


I did get a bit carried away with this one though. I began to add textures in the background foliage, so of course, once I'd done that, I then needed to add more to the mid sections, and from there on I had to keep adding those details!

I enjoyed it though.
I had a serialised play on the radio and I switched off to everything. I drank tea, talked to Maggie and submersed myself in the painting.
I came back to it over a few days as I like the light to be bright. I don't like painting in artificial light, no matter how bright it is, so I usually stop mid afternoon.
I also need to take Maggie out of course, we have a little walk around the village. She likes to greet all the visiting dogs, so I usually end up chatting with people from all over the place.

I hope my chattering to you about my painting has perhaps inspired you to get your paints out, so until next time, Im off to put the kettle on and think about my next subject.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Yes, I am still here!

I know... its been ages, but what spurred me into writing again was an email I received last week asking me if I was still here, well not 'here' exactly, the email asked if my site was 'manned'
I had this little picture in my mind of my sitting in front of my website.... just waiting for someone to get in touch. Anyway - that's why I decided I should confirm that yes, I am still here.
For those of you that don't know, the reason I just stopped blogging, indeed, stopped all social media was because my wonderful husband Terry, passed away suddenly in June 2017.
This stopped me in my tracks.
It was like crashing into an invisible wall. 

 So when I was asked if I was 'still here', it got me thinking. Yes, I am still here, life has changed for me, and inevitably I have changed.

I am so thankful that I have my little dog Maggie. She is certainly my well-being dog. She takes me walking each day, across the fields in all weathers, no matter what my mood.
This is Maggie this month.

My painting journey is about to continue, I made a start earlier in the year, then paused but I have some plans now underway which I shall share with you soon.

I needed this time out, but for anyone wondering.... yes, I'm still here!

Monday 26 March 2018

Hooray! Finished!

After a lot of gluing, waiting and gluing again, my elephant lamp is complete!
actually, its really lovely and I'm thrilled with it, however, it makes me wonder how many people buy these and never quite get around to finishing them.
The thing is, you can only glue perhaps two sections at once (often just one) then you have to wait until the glue has dried before gluing the next, otherwise the first bit moves and you get a wonky elephant.
I also found that I was gluing myself quite a bit, so I reverted to wearing rubber gloves so that I could get on with other things while the sections dried and not have to keep washing my hands.

Anyway! This is it. It looks lovely lit as well as just standing in all its glory.

Monday 19 March 2018

A good idea at the time

What a lovely shop I found myself in, full of very unusual gift ideas and arty books, as well as a cafe. Surrounded by unique items, I spotted a delightful blue elephant lamp, glowing on a display. It was not alone, there was a fish, a parrot, a turtle, but the baby elephant was my favourite. 
With a 'new arrival' due soon, this looked like an ideal gift.
Surprisingly, these lovely lamps were all in rather small boxes,  but ideal to carry home!
I really can't expect new Parents to assemble their gift, and it will be such a fun project.

Yes, I bought the 'paper lamp kit' 26 cms tall, after all, how hard could it be?

The box has been sitting in my kitchen now for a couple of weeks, I did take a little peek inside and fairly quickly closed the lid again, but with the snow outside, it seemed like a lovely Sunday afternoon activity.

The afternoon just flew by and before I knew it, after copious cups of tea, the light began to fade. 

All the pieces are now scored and folded, I just need to glue all the bits together... in the right order.

Good job this is classed as an 'easy' one! Skill level 1 out of 5 (perhaps 1 is most difficult, oops!)

This lamp will be worth a small fortune in man hours!

I shall let you know when my project is finished... let's hope the new arrival doesn't arrive too soon!

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Part Two

Once the basics are all in place, I then begin to work from the back of the painting towards the front.
I add my warmer colours, in this case Raw Sienna, which once added to the Shadow colour results in a lovely deep warm shade, adding more and it becomes a muddy green brown colour, fab for the distant foliage and to suggest clutter and objects.
There is a tendency to look for those little details, shrubs, bushes and distant objects, however, I have learnt over the years to try and avoid thinking about these things, and just simply paint what I can see.
Of course, if I am using a photo, and I bring it right up to my face and peer at it, I will be able to see lots, if using an iPad I can zoom in on a section... oh dear, I do it too! However, this usually just detracts me from what is important in the painting, so if I use a photo, I pin it to the top of my easel or better still the post in my studio. If I use the iPad I stand it up and paint as if I was outside, after all, if I'm painting outside, I can't zoom in, I can only screw up my eyes to try and get a better idea of what it is I'm seeing.
So my rule of thumb is, if I can't make it out, I don't make it up. If I can see a dark shape, I paint a dark shape, I don't make that dark shape into a neat object.

Where was I? Oh yes, background first, trees, distant fields and sky, then the sheds. (always the fun bit) once the sheds are established, I add posts and anything around the sheds and behind them.
Now all that's left, is the foreground. Well I say the foreground, but that can be almost 2/3 of the painting, so I work on the most distant of that, which in this case is the triangular shape to the right of the painting, blocking in the basic sections of colour, then the posts need to be re-established, because they can all but disappear sometimes. 
The sumptuous snow fall in the foreground goes in next and finally, the little touches of snow on the posts, roofs, sunlight on the side of the shed and of course the grasses.
then I prop it up, walk away and come back to it an hour or so later, sometimes the following morning. 
I like this one. I love the snow that has slipped on the roof of the greenhouse, and I like the square patches of ground that so clearly say 'allotments'.  

I hope this makes you want to get out a canvas and have a go.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Painting with a group

A couple of weeks ago I went along to a painting group in a nearby village with a friend of mine who has been going there for years. Fiona, she said, why not come and paint with us all? It's a group of painters who meet weekly, have a natter, paint in any medium they choose and enjoy the company of like minded people. I thought she would probably be right and it might be nice to meet like minded people, and paint in company. There is no tuition, it's just a painting group, so that is perfect as I don't feel like I'm stepping on anyone's toes.

I went along with my 10 x 12 inch blank canvas, easel and art bag, met everyone, wandered around and had a look at what everyone was doing, had a 'cuppa' and listened to everyone chatting away.
During the morning I blocked in all the basics for my next painting.  
This is the stage I got to, when the hall began to feel a bit cold and the lights went out!  Yes the meter had run out and that signalled our time to go return home. It was a very chilly day, but not half as cold as it would have been if we had been painting outside!

The colours I used so far are Shadow, Bluebell and a touch of White.

Already I can see how the painting is building up. I love it when a painting gets to this stage, I know its going the way I want it to and I then can't wait to move it along.

I think some people get a bit nervous is at this stage of their painting, when nothing looks finished. Some people love to have a small section complete, perhaps the shed or greenhouse, however I would say don't do it! Avoid completing any section too soon, just allow the painting to slowly come into ficus, otherwise you just keep on being dragged towards the finished bit to keep on tinkering with it, at the expense of the overall painting.

The finished painting turned out rather well and I will share my process with you tomorrow.

Monday 22 January 2018

A big step

What a rainy wet weekend we had, the light was so flat, however I used what daylight I could to begin painting again. After setting everything up, and getting everything out I was tempted to complete a half finished painting which I had begun last April, but thought that perhaps a fresh start would be better, so I chose a photo from my iPad which I had taken in the New Year after a fall of snow.
I decided to limit myself to just 5 colours. Shadow, Bluebell, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and White.
I began by blocking in the dark areas using a dilute mix of Shadow and Bluebell.
I spent the first half hour or so finding my feet a bit, and I must admit to dithering! I couldn't quite decide on the depth of colour and should, in hindsight have just used one colour and scrabbled it on quickly rather than faff about too much. Anyway this was the start. 

It began to get quite dark so I decided to leave it till the next day and begin another one in artificial light. My overhead lights are pretty good, so I prepared a couple of canvas boards by coating them with two layers of Pale Raw Umber as my mid tone base.

Then I became much bolder applying the paint with more confidence and this was my second painting. Same two colours but applied quite differently. I don't chose to paint in artificial light  as I always find it affects the colours too much, but I was just keen to get going while I felt like painting and I really enjoyed getting stuck in to it again.

When I looked at this the next morning it did seem rather bold, so I decided to work only in daylight and only paint in artificial light to prepare my boards. I'm used to painting demos indoors of course, but a demo is very different from painting an actual painting, in the sense that a demo is designed to teach techniques, rather than merely to complete a painting in front of an audience.

This was the first painting once I had worked on it the following day. Its 10 x 12 inches.

Below is my second painting in late afternoon light.
Maggie my little schnauzer is curled up on her bed, she is always with me. Occasionally she will push her little nose against me if she wants something, or brings me a squeaky toy if I have been painting for too long!

Terry and I had different studios and we would always comment on each others work. I missed him standing next to me with his coffee in hand, looking intently at my painting before offering advice, a little bit of dark here, or some light there. That voice by my side when he popped in and out throughout the day. I feel so blessed to have had him in my life for the time we were together. 
So these are my first two paintings. 
Thank you for your emails and comments which have encouraged me so much. Now that I have made a start I am sure to continue. 

Friday 19 January 2018

First steps to painting again

It was April last year that I last painted. Never has so much time passed by, without me picking up my paint brushes, but for the first time since then, I now have an urge to paint again. I have been thinking about it for a couple of days, but today was different, I felt a real determination rather than just a thought.
When we had the heavy snow fall a few weeks back I went out and took some photos, this was my first step to thinking about painting subjects again.

This morning I took out my paints (which have been packed away in a cupboard) I even have a prepared board (so no excuse to delay)

There were two stay-wet palettes and this was the first one I opened! The smell was so overpowering as I lifted the lid that I ran outside, threw away the paper palette and the box and sponge are now soaking in bleach!

So I now intend to set up my easel and see what happens.

Hopefully I will have something to share with you, and it would be so encouraging to know you are interested in what I paint!