Saturday, 8 October 2016


Back to some old favourites this week for my solution to my art group subject of  'Harvest'

The work is done on Hahnamuehle 'Cornwall' matt 450gm paper. I like this density as it avoids buckling whilst painting, especially if I am going to start with a fairly wet wash.

I started by wetting the top corner of the painting, and dropping in some Indigo and Bordeaux and allowing them to mix freely together. Whilst still very wet, I blew the paint with a straw to send 'twiggy' shapes diagonally across the paper.

When the background was dry, I did a light drawing of the composition, very vague just so that I knew where I might want the fruit. I could alter it as I went along if required. I did the drawing on top of the wash to enable me to erase it as I worked the painting.

The dark berries were painted with Indigo and Bordeaux, the green ones with a mixture of Serpentine Green and Yellow Ochre, with a hint of Quinachridone Coral in places, and the red ones with a mixture of Quinachridone Coral and Pyrrol Red.

The leaves were painted with Serpentine Green, Cadmium Yellow and Yellow Ochre.

The initial background wash gave me vague shapes in the background which I slightly enhanced and the twiggy bits were made into stems using various browns.

When the painting was displayed at the end of the session, I was encouraged to leave it totally alone as it seemed to have reached the point of completion. However, propping it up in the studio for a few hours made me realise that all the lower fruits were art the same level so I added 3 more blackberries and a leaf to the spray second from the left to take it slightly lower. I think this works better.

Hope you enjoy looking.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

L'Age Baston Holiday

After all the hard work with the exhibition in Wells Cathedral, I went on a much deserved painting holiday in La Charante region in France, at a chateau called L'Age Baston.
We all had a wonderful time in lovely surroundings, with great food and Jenny Johnson as our lovely tutor.
My aim was to just enjoy the pleasure of drawing and painting each day, and perhaps try to paint a landscape or two.....with Jenny's help, as this is totally unusual for me.

I managed some quite good sketch work and produced two proper paintings during the week. Strangely, they both ended up as square images, which again is so unlike me.

They were both painted on Arches paper, which was the only paper on offer, so another new experience.

By the end of the week, I was back painting flower subjects!!

Hope you enjoy looking.

Sunday, 14 August 2016


Having said that there would be no more painting before the exhibition, I was organised enough to be able to go to AVA group as usual and painted a picture with which I was quite pleased.

The hydrangea have been really lovely this year, perhaps because of the very damp spring. The various ones in my garden are very subtle shades of pink/purple/blue. They proved to good to resist and so whilst dog sitting a friends pet whilst they are away on holiday, I managed a second more abstract painting covering the initial wash with random dyed tiny squares of silk. I also used a little lilac pen and added some of the loose threads from the silk.
I tried not to overdo the collage part of the painting and kept some of the edges quite shadowy.

Two completely different ways of tackling the same subject. I hope you enjoy looking.

The top painting was done on Fabriano Artistico extra white rough 300g paper, and the second painting was done on Hahnemuhle AndalucĂ­a 500g rough paper

Friday, 29 July 2016

Painting without drawing

I recently went to a demo by Soraya French and she said the too careful a drawing was very limiting to freedom. She suggested that if you spent ages on a complex drawing, when you came to paint it, you became too afraid to spoil all your efforts, that the process of painting became less spontaneous and hence less free.

I took up this idea and over the last few weeks at AVA I have tried to paint images with no drawing at all. It started with the Bluebell Wood in the previous post and over the next three weeks produced 3 more images with no drawing other than a couple of circles to place the flower heads in the right place. In the poppy painting, I did not even do this.
So all the paintings were straight in with a brush loaded with pigment, to see what I could do.

They are not totally successful, my visual memory is poor and there is very little room for error, but it was liberating, and I will certainly do more.




This will be my last post for about 3-4 weeks as I now have two weeks of hard work getting over 90 paintings ready for my annual exhibition in Wells Cathedral and 2 weeks of being there to man it. I cannot be distracted by painting etc, so it will be quiet until the beginning of September.
Hope you like looking at the images.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Bluebell Wood

Just a quick post. I have been away for a short break and came back with the need to prep something for AVA the following day.
No time for detailed drawings so decided to go a bit abstract/creative.
Sorry there are no pictures of the process, but it is quite simple

I painted a wash onto a piece of Fabriano 300g paper and added a bit of sea salt to start off the texture thing!.
I then diluted some PVA glue and gently covered the paper being careful not to disturb the wash.
I took a piece of good quality tissue paper, crumpled it as tight as possible and then opened it up and gently pulled it to cover the pasted wash.
I then lightly rollered it with a bottle to remove too much air and to create small, shallow but crisp creases.
 I then simply painted my bluebell wood on top, keeping each layer of paint reasonably wet to allow it to run across the creases, but I dried it well before adding another wash on top. It was finally finished with a good splattering of white acrylic gouache as usual.

Apologies to any long-standing readers for repeating the process, but I wanted to quickly add something to the blog to keep it active. Hope you like the result.

                                   Mixed Media, Fabriano Artistico, Extra White 24 x 36cm
                                                                     Bluebell Wood

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Rhododendrons in Sunlight

Continuing on the theme of trying to capture sunlight on petals, I thought I might have a go at this beautiful white Rhododendron that has just finished flowering in the garden. Needless to say, it was beautiful until we had a storm and very heavy rain and I am afraid it did not recover well. Thank goodness I did the photos before that happened!

I am not going to say a lot about the process, as I think the photos speak for themselves. I did the drawing on rough Fabriano Artistico extra white paper and used mainly Cobalt Blue and Alizarine Crimson for the flowers.
I started with a detailed drawing, but have to admit to losing my way with all the trumpet shapes, so quite a bit was 'made up'!

My apologies for the quality of the next 3 photos, but they were taken during the art session at AVA and I cannot work out what was reflecting so badly across the paper. I have tried to remove some of the violet haze, but I am not very computer savvy, so they are not brilliant. At this stage the background was all white. I did not do any preliminary washes before starting the flowers.
 I spent a lot of time thinking about the actual colour of the flowers. So little was really white, but I needed lots of white paper to give the bleached out areas where the sun caught them.

At this stage I started to add some leaves as this gave me the negative shapes of the flowers and helped me to keep track of where I was going. Even at this stage I was not sure if the shadow areas were strong and dark enough for the effect that I wanted. But it is really difficult to add overdark washes which you hope will dry paler, especially with very staining pigments. I can over paint more darks if I decide it need it.

I then stared filling in the background washes. Dark in the middle but much lighter around the edges as I did not want the painting to become too heavy (Remembering what happened with the Fatsia leaves!) For these areas I used pale washes of blues, yellows and blue/greys with a little QuinachridoneGold. I also used this colour with Burnt Umber for the stems.

I finished by adding more leaves around the painting, leaving small patches of sunlight.

The painting looks quite bright on the screen, but by comparison to the previous Clematis painting, it does lack a bit of contrast, so as usual, I will live with it in the studio for a few days to see if I need to darken some of the shadows.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Sunlit Clematis

In my search for the best way to paint strong sunlight and shadows, I searched my stock of photos and found this lovely photo of some lilac /pink clematis from my garden last summer.
I thought it an ideal subject to have another go.

I have painted Clematis lots of times and been pleased with the results, but this time I wanted to capture the burnt out effect of the strong sunlight and the dark shadows created by this sunlight,

I did a very careful drawing and added a 3rd flower bottom centre behind the other main flowers to hopefully give a more interesting composition'
I painted the flowers first using only two pigments....quinachridone magenta and ultramarine violet.

I was quite careful to follow the darks and lights from the original photo as I wanted it to 'read' correctly when it was finished.

I will admit to finding it difficult to add the dark shadows, so afraid of spoiling it at this stage, as the flowers had taken some time to paint.  I also dreaded doing the background as the source photo was too dark and I did not want to make the same mistake that I had made with the Fatsia leaves (previous post ).
I am not sure if the leaves are dark enough even now, but I will live with it in the studio for a while and then darken any areas if I think it will help'

I am not sure either, if the shadows on the flowers are 'blue' enough but I think it is a step forward and I will keep on returning to this subject for now and see if I can really master it. There are some lovely roses out in the garden now so maybe they will be next.