Sunday, 14 December 2014


The final week before Christmas at the  Avon Valley Art group subject was 'Buildings' and it was a bit of a struggle to find something that I would enjoy and that I could manage. I found a photo in a set of photos from my visit to New England.

First stage , as ever was to do as careful a drawing as possible. I always do this before going to the session, as I would otherwise spend the whole two hours doing the drawing!

I was going to mask out some of the white with masking fluid, but decided against it as it would need to be added the night before, and as the paper has quite a soft surface (I was using 600 gm Leonardo Rough) I was afraid that the removal of the fluid would also remove the surface of the paper.I knew I could touch up with White Acrylic Gouache if I made any mistakes, but it did mean that I had to be careful painting around the steeple.
I started with the sky, and then painted in the building, followed by the greenery and the trees.Lastly I added a few Indigo/Payne;s Grey streaks to the foreground snow and that was it almost done. I used a toothbrush to give a really good splatter to suggest falling snow and that was it.

I am really pleased with the result but just wish I had made the sky a little darker or stronger and the greenery a little less green. However, if it prints well, it may well become next year's Christmas card.....How's that for forward planning!

White Roses

I am not really sure why I decided to have another go at this subject. Maybe it is simply a case of needing to paint and pulling out a picture and getting on with it.

I did think about how I was going to do the painting and I had in my mind the possibility of combining the white with an aqua blue background to produce a very cool image, but that was it as far as thought went!

The drawing was done carefully to ensure that the finished flowers actually looked like roses and I was careful to include an odd number of blooms. I deliberately drew everything to the left hand side of the paper as I am quite into dark passages giving way to very light passages.I is not too important if the pencil lines are a bit heavy as these will be erased when each section is completed.

I painted the flowers first, this time, putting in only enough background to identify the outer shape of each rose. I kept in mind the fact that almost all parts of white flowers are not in fact white and I tried to add blues, greys, yellows and slight amounts of pink as I thought necessary to produce the irregularity of the undulations in the petals. I also identified the orange centres of the four main flowers so that I could see how the composition was developing.At this point, I decided I needed another rose in the top LH corner to make the composition a bit stronger.

I painted just up to the pencil lines but not over them, which enabled me to remove the lines as the painting progressed. I also tried not to define too clearly some of the outer petals so that there could be a few lost edges when the background was added. Maybe in hindsight, I should have done more of this!As the painting developed, I added in the extra stem and flower on the lower right hand side . I also added a fallen petal, which I now wish I had left out.With the flowers generally in place, I added stems and leaves and began painting outwards from the middle the background using Teal Blue, Indigo and Ultramarine Blue. Whilst it was still wet, I dropped in some Apatite Green to increase the darks.

I added shadow to the pot and some strong colour around the pot to define its shape and to push the background back, as well as giving the pot a firm surface on which to stand.I finally added a few extra dark spots to the centres of each rose, lifted out a little green on some of the leaves and decided that it was time to stop.
Looking at the painting propped up in the studio, the roses seem a little to perfect, maybe a few blemishes on some of the petals would have helped them seem more 'real'. Nonetheless, they were a pleasure to paint and they will certainly get a mount and frame some time in the future,

(Sorry about the long black hair across the final daughter has been sleeping in the studio, our spare bed space, and obviously left it behind and I did not notice it!!)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Clematis ('Water' topic)

As mentioned in my previous post, the next subject at our painting group was 'Water'.
I was due to go North to visit my aging mother so could only stay for half the session, so was looking for something small to do.
I came across an article by Jan Kunz in her book 'Painting Watercolour Florals That Glow' which described how to paint dew drops on petals.
I have done this before but thought it was a good small exercise to practice for an hour.

I took a piece of heavy 'not' watercolour paper, and in the top LH corner, I painted freehand several clematis petals and a centre of yellow/orange. At this stage the flower painting was not the object of the exercise so accuracy was not my prime concern.

I then proceeded to paint a few dew drops onto the petals to remind myself how they worked. This filled the necessary first hour of the session and I left for my journey North.

When I got back home, I thought that my club exercise was perhaps better than expected and it might be worth finishing.

I drew in two more flowers, and tried to make them fit the original wash which had only been done for the first clematis.

I used only one colour for the petals...Quinachridone Purple... and the same pigment with a little Indigo for the background.
I originally pencilled in a bud and a couple of leaves, but decided to keep just the flowers with their limited palette. I added a few more dew drops, not all of them totally successful, but ok I think, and of course had to use a bit of white acrylic to alter the centres of the flowers as Clematis has the lovely core of white/cream stamens.Finally I darkened some bits of the background to make the flowers stand out a little more, but tried to be careful to keep the original top flower the main part of the painting.
As usual, my final task was to erase the pencil drawing where possible. No splatter this time!

                                                               'Clematis After Rain'
                                                                    33 x 22 cms

Unusually for me, this is a comparatively small painting and it will go into a 16 x 12 inch frame.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Autumn and Bubbles

Its hard to believe that these two subjects could have any links, but much to even my surprise, they seemed to!

A few weeks ago the subject at Avon Valley Artists was 'Autumn' and I opted to use one of my precious doilys to create an autumn landscape.

I carried out the work in the usual way, painting the doily with lovely oranges, browns and greens and let it dry completely.

I then applied a wash to my paper, using much the same colours, having in mind a sort of circular design. I painted puddles of dark pigment in the corners and made them into trees and blew through a straw to produce the finger-like twiggy bits. I then used the doily, torn into little pieces to create the canopy and some of the undergrowth.

On the RH side of the painting,at the base, I found that watercolours were not enough to cover the base of the trees, so I used Indian ink to create some shapes which I made into fine grasses etc by again using the straw.
I felt that the canopy of leaves was a bit thin, so I added more paint in splattery blobs to hopefully simulate more leaves.
I was quite pleased with the result and refrained from too much more as I wanted it as fresh as possible.

So what has all this got to do with bubbles?

When I paint each doily, I place it onto a piece of plain white paper and the obvious result is a painting of circles formed by the negative shapes of the doily. When I lifted the doily from off the background this time, I saw that the pigment had bled under the top layer and  formed a lovely pattern in its own right!

When I showed this to a couple of painting pals, there were lots of surpise and the inevitable 'What are you going to do with it'

I had no real idea until two weeks later, the subject at AVA was 'Water' and I thought of my bit of accidental patterned paper, and it reminded me of bubbles, so this seemed like a good idea to try.

I was anxious to make the most of the paper print, and not being really sure how it would turn out, I photocopies the sheet so that I could use the copy and retain the original.

I did not do anything clever with the painting, just a lovely wash, some lines to suggest water, and the cut up printed paper, and lots of blobs and spatter.
Knowing when to stop was difficult, but it still looks fresh and although it is quite abstract I hope there is a feel of water about it.

I did not have the time to do this at the art group, and I needed more equipment than I normally take, so it was produced at home in the studio, so now I need to think of something else for the 'Water' topic!

PLEASE if anyone reading these posts knows where I can find doilies like the ones I use, can you let me know. I am down to my last few! I keep searching but these days they are all flowery and flimsy!!!