Sunday, 30 December 2012


I have painted these flowers lots of times and was surprised that when I came to save it on my pc I found that it is the 10th effort as well as various paintings including Agapanthus, rather than single studies.
I still really love them and have tried endlessly to grow them. My painting partner, Jan, gave me a book on how to grow them for Christmas, so that we can both try to get it right,  and it was this book that set me off on another attempt to capture their elegance!

The painting was done in my by now familiar method, although I did try something a bit different at the end, but we will get to that later.

Fabriano Artistico Extra White 'not' paper, and a mixture of Daniel Smith and Graham Paints and my synthetic 007 series brushes.

I started with the wash using a mixture of the colours intended for the flowers, mixing the paint on wet paper, not on the palette.

I tried to keep it fairly light with lots of white paper remaining. This gives a bit more flexibility about where the heads can be placed.

I then drew out the arrangement, putting plenty of detail in the uppermost flower, and less in the second one. At this stage I pencilled in the stem of a possible 3rd flower head knowing that 3 is better than 2 in general

I painted in the two flowers and decided that I would need the third one, which I added without much drawing at all, using my laden brush to create each bud. By simply pressing the brush onto the paper I got some lovely shapes which I then connected to the stem that was already in position. By doing it this way, the 3rd flower is much looser than the other two, and hopefully disappears a bit into the background.

When the painting of the flowers and leaves was complete I realised that the background was far too pale, so I had a go at darkening it by simply washing colour over the already painted flowers. I don't think I have done this before. I usually paint the background around the flowers, but I wanted to keep it a bit looser and it seems to have worked. I had to be careful to use the lightest of touches, and not disturb the paint under the wash, but I think it has worked ok. This might not be my most exciting painting, but its lovely to have the studio back and it was great to be able to paint again!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Now that all my cards have been sent and received, I can share this year's designs with you.

 I paint a full sized painting, then reduce it, manipulate it slightly in Photoshop if necessary and then print as many as I require for the majority of friends, colleagues and clients to whom I want to send cards. I also use the main design to create an e mail card which I use to send mainly to clients.
In addition to this I paint card sized paintings to send to my daughter and a couple of very special piano  teacher, Liz, and my exhibition/ painting partner, Jan.
This year the theme of the special paintings was all the same, but each one is an individual one-off design.
I would be the first to admit that thinking of something new every year can be a bit of a challenge.

I was enormously flattered by the response I got from an ex colleague to whom I sent an e mail greeting this year, and she wrote back to ask for a hard copy, as she has saved all my cards over the many years since we worked together, and they are all hung on her bathroom door where they continue to give her pleasure all year and frequently give rise to lovely comments from her visitors. I was very happy to oblige!

This was my printed card, which some of you might recognise from a previous post. I try to be seasonal rather than religious so that I never give offence.

The three cards below are the 'specials', all called 'Frosted Berries', one of which may become the mass produced card next year if I fail to think of anything better!

May I take this opportunity to thank all of you who look at my blog, thanks for all the comments, and may I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
See you in 2013

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Trying to make the most of my studio before it becomes the guest room for Christmas visitors, I was determined to paint one more painting before they arrived!
I have tried to grow these beautiful flowers several times, but they are plants which enjoy rocky terrain with good drainage, so my water-logged clay means that I have never succeeded, so I have painted from photos in gardening books!

The paper is my usual Fabriano Artistico Extra White 'Not' paper. Unfortunately it is a new block and has come detached from the cardboard backing, and when I returned from Art Group on Thursday the two sections had become completely separated. I must have put the block back in the cover the wrong way around without noticing, and it was not until I had done the initial wash and was two thirds through the drawing that I realised that I was working on the wrong side of the paper.

I am not sure how much difference this makes, although the texture is nicer on the right side, but I also noticed that the block is separating half way down, and when painting with fair amounts of water, the individual pages are lifting, which defeats the object of working on a block!  Call me picky, but surely paper of that quality should be more fit for purpose than that.
I did think it was maybe just a one-off flaw, but when I consulted my painting pal, Jan said she was having exactly the same problem......not good enough in my opinion.

Anyway, enough of the moaning and on to the painting. I started by painting an initial wash using the predominant colours in the photos (I used several photos to give me various views of the flower heads) and then I lightly pencilled in the drawing.

I painted the flowers using various combinations of all my blues except indigo....Cobalt, Ultramarine,Anthaquinachridone, Teal and Pthalo.
I tried to keep some of the petals crisply defined, and some I tried to lose their edges. On the LH side the flower head was painted quite loosely as well.

It wasn't a very long task as I wanted to keep everything quite light, so there was no need to darken the background, which can take some time when you have to paint around all the petals and stems, or add too much foliage, which I tried to keep very low key. The stamens were added using white Acrylic Gouache and cadmium orange and yellow.

I did find the finished result a bit 'cold' so I carefully added the lightest touch of Quinachridone Magenta to the tips of a number of the petals and some of the same colour into the darkest areas to add a little warmth to the painting.

                                                          'Meconopsis'    26cm x 36cm

Now that I look at it on screen, I think I do need to graduate out a little, the dark areas that I have painted behind the top two flowers, or maybe I will just lighten the existing dark patches with a little water and kitchen towel.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


This weeks subject at Avon Valley Artists was children. I knew the subject was approaching and had found a lovely picture of a young boy enjoying the taclie sensation of handling a modern bird sculpture. It had several advantages, not least the inclusion of plenty of garden and some flowers, but most of all, his face was hidden, something I have never got to grips with, in all my years of painting!

It was a simple 2 hour exercise, which I really enjoyed, but do not think this one will get a frame.

Usual paper, and usual palette and I think it will be called something like....'I Only Want To Touch!'

Monday, 10 December 2012

Butterfly 2

I thought it was time to give the butterfly book another airing. This time the painting is inspired by a photograph of a Malaysian Clipper. I make no apology for the fact that the finished painting in no way resembles the Clipper, but I wanted to use some of the beautiful blues present in the original picture.

I began by washing the sheet of Fabriano Artistico Extra White 'Not' 300gm paper with clean water, and dropped in a variety of blues, including Cobalt, Ultramarine, Quinachridone  and Teal. I also added a bit of Quinachridone Magenta in a couple of places.

I then did the drawing, trying to balance both sides of the butterfly, but adding a bit of variety.

The painting was done using the same colours as the background with additions of some earth colours for the body and some black ink with plenty of water for the bottom edges of the wings.

The original wash gave lovely variations of colours between the wing markings, but it did have the disadvantage of taking away some of the freshness and translucence of the blue markings. Trying to keep it as fresh as possible, I did use some white gouache to replace the lost whiteness of the paper. I was not totally sure what I was doing with the painting, as I wanted it to be a bit loose and to have some lost edges, so I tried to keep reminding myself that the wings needed treating in the same way as I normally treat flower petals, and if I did that, it would turn out ok.

I painted the upper side much more loosely using less careful brushstrokes and plenty of water so that the top left edges bled into the background and I omitted quite a bit of the detail in this area, too, I then completed the background with washes of Teal Blue and Indian Yellow, and added a half identifiable second Butterfly in a much warmer colour.

When the painting was finished, I completed the image by adding black lines using Indian ink on a fine paintbrush and a fine-line permanent marker to highlight some of the drawing lines and I then, as usual, gave the whole thing a good splatter, using a variety of colours from the painting, including the Indian Ink..

On the whole, I am very pleased with the outcome and feel that the subject is worth pursuing. My only reservation is the second butterfly which I hope does not detract from the freshness of the main subject.

                                                    'Butterfly 2'    30cm x 45cm

Since finishing the painting, and looking at it from time to time propped up in the studio, I decided that the secondary butterfly needed its shape improving and the whit areas on the RH side needed a little toning down. I have made the necessary adjustments and hope that, although they are minimal, you think I was right to do so! (Taking photos at different times of day makes consistency of colour a bit apologies!)

Still not satisfied with the bottom LH corner, so have played around a bit more and at one stage felt that I had overworked it, but I hope I have got it back on track!

Friday, 7 December 2012


In amongst all the bustle which the beginnings of the Christmas festival brings, it is difficult to find time to paint. I have painted several Christmas cards, but cannot share those with you until after the event for obvious reasons! In order to keep a bit of sanity, I looked out a simple, gentle calm photo of lilac Asters and have had it on the table all week where I could do a bit now and again when I had 5 minutes.

It was completed in very much the same way as I do lots of my paintings. I wet the paper - Fabriano Artistico Extra White ( but Not this time) - and dropped in colours around the paper, trying to get the purples where the flowers might be and the greens where the leaves and background might be. It was left to dry completely.

I then drew in the flower shapes and painted them a mixture of Ultramarine Violet, Quinachridone Purple and Quinachridone Magenta all by Daniel Smith. I used white acrylic gouache where I wanted the highlights and where I wanted some of the petals to be lost into the background, and I painted the yellow centres with a mix of Hansa Yellow and Quinachridone Rust by Graham& Co and Schminke Transparent Orange.
Once all the flowers, leaves and stems were painted, I darkened the bottom left background and when dry gave the whole painting a good spatter to loosen the image a bit.
The finished result is very restrained, but I think I am pleased with it and don't think it will need any tweaking before mounting!

'Asters'   26 x 36 cm