Tuesday, 30 October 2012


The garden is looking very forlorn at the moment, and the high winds have blown all the tall Cosmos over, although they are still full of flowers. The Hydrangeas are beginning to fade and they are taking on that very muted colour which is typical of this time of year.
I collected a couple of heads, and some Prunus (Ithink) leaves which have turned the most amazing colour and some Sambuca leaves for contrast, and have had a go at painting a study of them all.  I have found it really difficult to capture that slightly faded and soft colouring in the Hydrangeas, but it has given me another opportunity to play around with the Quinachridone Purple and the Moonglow, but maybe it is time to look for a change in the predominant palette, and have a go with my new tube of Translucent Orange instead.

Not sure if I will frame this painting, but nothing goes to waste, and it will probably get a single mount and be put in the browser as a bargain!


                                            'Hydrangeas' Watercolour on Fabriano Extra White
                                                                     300g 12ins x 18ins

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Thursday again and another lovely morning spent painting at AVA. The subject this week was fruit and with my present passion for Quinachridone Purple still strong, I had decided to paint dark grapes, hanging on the vine.
I decided to have a bit of a go prior to the session, so that I could test out a few colour combinations for the grapes and I had a good look at the way the leaves are formed by accessing photos on the internet.

At this stage I must apologise as I am going to post two paintings, and I did take photos of the original washes and drawing to show you, but when I went to remove the card from the camera, I found the slot empty and the card already in the reader, where it has been since the last post. Having completed the paintings, I have obviously lost the original drawings. Another senior moment!!

I did complete the first 'trial' painting, but although I was generally happy with the fruit, I was less happy with the leaves. I had painted the initial wash far too dark, and when I came to deal with the leaves the top left one especially became very muddy. Although I tried to wash some of it away, being 'Leonardo' paper, I could not budge it.

Now, my mind is mulling over the possibility of cutting around the fruit and using it as a collage some time in the future.I was also unsure about the bottom RH background. The 'lilac' shapes seem a bit hard and solid.

All this gave me ideas about how to tackle the painting at club this morning, so I used a sheet of Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough 300gm paper on a block and repeated a background wash and drawing.

Although I was much more pleased with this initial stage, I did realise that I had not left very much white at the top into which to paint some grapes with pure colour.

It became quite difficult to keep the grapes fresh as I had to paint nearly all of them over a background colour, mainly 'Moonglow' by Daniel Smith, and this is quite a dull blue/purple.
 In light of the muddy leaf in the previous painting, I kept the treatment of the leaves to a minimum, as this was all about the fruit, and in this painting I did try to reproduce the light bloom which appears on grapes and other fruit, but which disappears as they ripen.

In the first painting, I do like the very dark fruit at the bottom of the LH bunch, and I think that the second painting could do with a bit of this treatment to give it more umph, but I will live with it for a few days before deciding if it needs tinkering with, or if it is finished.

As an aside, the green on the LH lower leaf was created by dropping Apatite Green, by Daniel Smith onto wet paper. The paint appears to have granulated without any help from me, but also the granulated particles have collected in the hollows of the rough paper, giving a really lovely effect. This is probably more apparent if you click on the image to see it enlarged. I shall try that again!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Pots,Vases And Flowers

This weeks title for the AVA group session  was Pots,Vases and Flowers. I had already done a drawing for this session, which I was unable to leave alone (see previous post) so I had a bit of a rush job to do a drawing and put on the first wash before Thursdays session. I picked the Cosmos from the garden and made sure I had various pinks and some whites.

I used a piece of Whatman 300g Not, extra white paper that I had bought to try, being attracted by the extra white label. I am informed by Peter that this is no longer available, but I felt it needed using up, as I seem to remember it was not cheap. As I was going to put a nice juicy wet wash onto the sheet, I did stretch it to make it easier to work.

I drew out the pots and flowers and then, using Quinachridone Magenta, Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Teal Blue, I liberally washed areas of the paper. I did make sure that some parts were left white to accommodate the white flowers.

Before starting painting on Thursday morning, I used a drawing pen and some masking fluid to draw in the very fine lines of the leaves as I wanted them to be a very fresh green and so wanted the starting point to be white.
All went well, I painted in the flowers trying to create some lost edges on the LH side, and did some work on the two white pots on the left.

At home , later when I came to add more to the painting, I tried to remove the masking fluid. Most was fine, but I noticed that I had quite a few tiny specks which were difficult to remove. On closer inspection, I saw that the drawing pen had scratched the surface of the paper and the masking fluid has gone into the scratches. The result was that I slightly spoiled some of the surface getting it all off. This has not spoiled the painting, but that is the first time I have seen that happen, and in future I will be very careful to only use the drawing pen with the lightest of touches. I do like the fine lines one can create with these pens, so I do want to continue to use it. I will also look to see if the tips are burred in any way.

                                                            'Cosmos and White Pots'
                                                Whatman 300g not paper,     46x33cm

Monday, 15 October 2012


Because of the lack of sun this summer, the nasturtiums are now in full flower, when in fact they should be just about over. This has meant unexpected colour at this time of year. I have had the added bonus of plants without blackfly! We have a subject 'Pots, Vases and Flowers coming up at AVA, so I thought that I might do a slightly larger painting and take the opportunity to use up some single sheets of Whatman Paper that was sitting around in the cupboard. The sheet I chose is 'rough' and the piece of paper measures approx. 60 x 40 cm. Because it was a loose sheet, and 300gms, I decided to stretch it onto a board, as I was not sure how wet-in-wet it would be.

I did the drawing ready for the next club meeting, as I wanted to start the actual painting during the session and not spend the whole 2 hours drawing. I also wanted to live with the drawing propped up in the studio for a couple of days to make sure the composition was ok.

The best laid plans.......! The following day I could not resist adding a bit of paint here and there, and before I really knew what was happening, I had gone too far to take the painting to AVA to finish. It has been fairly compulsive right through to the end, and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

I chose to paint the flowers etc first with the intention of adding a fairly strong background down the LH side and in the LH top corner, overpainting the flowers and pot to give some lost and semi lost edges. I used the remaining scraps of Schminke Transparent Orange donated by Peter, and added a mixture of Graham's Hansa Yellow and Daniel Smiths's Quinachridone Coral. For the leaves I used  Apatite Green with added Cadmium Yellow.

The background is painted using combinations of the colours already used in the flowers and leaves with a bit of added Indigo. I tried to leave some white spaces to give a bit of variety and light to the background. At this stage, I felt it was going quite well, and I had invested some time in getting this far, and I will admit at this stage to being quite anxious about continuing. There was still plenty to do and therefore plenty of opportunity to spoil the painting. I am not sure where the anxiety came from. It is some time since I felt like this about a painting!!

I made a conscious decision to slow down, and just paint small bits at a time, and to think through carefully what I was going to do at each stage. It was really enjoyable to see the painting develop slowly but surely, and although I am going to live with it for a few days before mounting and framing - just in case I feel it needs a tweak here and there - I think it is finished and its time to stop! I am really pleased with it, and although I try not to think about the Wells exhibition next year, I cannot help feeling that this painting might be a contender to be my 'signature' painting for posters, invitations etc. We will see, there is lots of time to paint somethings else which might fit the bill!

'Nasturtiums'   Watercolour  50 x 36 cms

Just as a small finishing comment, I had to alter the RH side of the jug after having painted the background to identify the jug's shape. I was able to use some clean water and a stiffish brush to lift out the paint and re-position it. I am sure that I would have been unable to do that, had I been using the 'Leonardo' paper.

All that remains now is to stretch another piece of paper and get the drawing done for the AVA session!

Ps........I did eventually tweak it a bit. The leaf behind the white jug seemed a bit odd, so I wet it lightly and removed the dark shadow line, and I added a little more dark on the copper pot behind this leaf to help with recession, being careful to keep the suggestion of a reflection of the jug handle. It is now definitely finished and in a frame.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


The subject at AVA last week was figures and portraits.As I am sure you are aware this is completely out of my comfort zone!! We were  able to either paint from a model, or from a photograph of our choice. I volunteered to be the model for the first half an hour, thinking that this would delay and shorten the time I would have to spend trying to do something reasonable. I know that they are only shapes and should be treated like any other series of shapes, but I do find them difficult.
For the remainder of the morning, after having done my stint of sitting, I needed a figure or figures which was simple, and I found a picture of a child sat in front of a begging bowl, almost completely swathed in a dark grey garment. I decided to change the colours of the cloth to make a much more lively picture, but I still wanted to capture the fear and poverty reflected in his/her expression. I hope the bright colours of the cloth do not detract from this!

The work was done on Fabriano Artistico paper, and I made good use of the remaining blob of Schmincke Transparent Orange, together with a variety of reds, browns and oranges.

Autumn Scene

This was the subject at Avon Valley Artists a couple of weeks ago, and against my usual practise, I decided to paint from imagination.
I had some quite nice props in the studio including teasels, bull rushes, poppy heads etc. and thought one or two of these could be useful.

I started by painting over the whole sheet of paper, to give me the background, and I used some salt to create a few grass shapes within this background, although these became lost in the final composition.

I drew in three teasels on the LH side of the painting and a few grass shapes on the RH side and using lots of the browns,yellow ochre, oranges and reds, I painted in the 'Autumn Field'. I also used a new colour for me, Translucent Orange by Schminke, which again, Peter was generous enough to give me a sample. Although I have been determined not to extend my palette any more, I do think I must have a tube of this colour!!

Since taking the photo, I have extended the stalk of the middle teasel, as in this photo it looks as if two seed heads grow from one stem, and I do not think they do that! I used Fabriano Artistico Extra White paper       ( 35cm x 51cm) so that I could move the background paint around in the initial wash. I also added a few grasses using acrylic inks as they readily cover dark areas.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Fuchsia Again

A few weeks ago, Peter gave me a small amount of Quinachridone Purple by Daniel Smith to try out. I painted a purple skirted Fuchsia, and said at the time that I thought parts of it were a bit heavy and the bottom half did not match the top half, as I used up all the sample and had to mix my own as near as possible. Since then I have acquired a tube of this pigment for myself and decided to have a second go at the painting, and make it appear more fragile, like the actual flowers. The painting was done on 'Leonardo' (I am determined to use it all up!) with my usual palette of colours, mainly Quinachridone Purple and Magenta, and Opera Pink.


                                                                'Fuchsia'  26cm x 36cm

Although it is great to paint sometimes with really bold watercolours, I do prefer this version.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Before talking about 'Delphiniums' ( although there is not a lot to say ) I thought I would bring you up to date with last weeks abstract. I took on board the various comments from Peter and Mick and a couple of other close friends, and removed as much of the  collage as possible. It was not possible to remove it all, but finally I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing. I strengthened, a little, some of the darker colours  and decided to leave well alone. It now has a mount, and will soon have a frame, and I am reasonably happy with the outcome.

The delphinium painting simply came about because of a ......'what shall I paint today'....moment. The paper is still 'Leonardo' with my usual palette of colours.

I am not sure if the bottom right hand corner is too light, but I will leave it propped up in the studio for a couple of days and then make a decision. But I do like the hint of flowers in the background and hope they help me to get away with two main flower spikes instead of an odd number!!. They seem to work well.