Thursday, 27 June 2013

New Website

Got my heart in my mouth here and have been sitting on this for a few hours mulling over when I should actually publicise the completion of my new website... have just got to figure out a way to get people back to the website from the blog as the blog is from an external source to the website ....... a minor detail for a technophobe who has managed to get to this stage with only a little bit of help from son no 2!!!

Some of you may remember I had a false start with a website many months ago and it never properly got off the ground.. I found it difficult to administer and to be fair wasn't given much training to help me so this is a free, idiot friendly site built on Weebly which I have found to be quite simple and could recommend to any of you who are contemplating a website, am absolutely convinced if I can do it anyone can... bit like painting really!!!

I am excited about this and can now go on to get some business cards and other literature and can feel proud to direct people to it. I haven't been able to get business cards until it was sorted and I am finding more and more that I need something to leave with people rather than keep scribbling things down on a piece of paper ..... not very professional!!!  So here it is... hope you all like and please leave me a message to let me know what you think... as many of you will know I welcome constructive feedback, good or bad!!!

My business name is Art by Judith Farnworth and here is the website

My new Website

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Perfect Poppy.. or not!!!

Some of my readers may remember that last year was a wipe out for the poppies in our garden and I ended up doing one or two plein air studies of some very sorry looking, bedraggled, water logged poppies... well this year we have a much better display and after going to Patchings and seeing Ann Blockley use the acrylic inks I knew I had to have a go at some of the huge blooms we have at the moment.

I  wanted to go big with this one and square as I feel the flower head lends itself to a square format and I have some Hahnemuhle 20"x25" 200lb paper which I cropped to give me the size I wanted (20"x20") of the biggest sizes I have done... am still working up to full size imperial but not quite there yet!!

I did start off with a variety of red and pink watercolours but quickly realised I was going to have to bring out the big guns and bit by bit started to try out the acrylic inks. I really like them and think they suit my sketchy way of painting. I mainly used the scarlet and sepia adding a touch of pink here and there for variety, then started spraying, splattering and tipping my board to within an inch of it's life.... the pipette you use to apply the ink is a very versatile can draw, spot and move the ink around with it and I had a thoroughly fabulous time playing with my new toys.

This was the first stage where I have been looking and wondering and then more looking and more wondering where to go next.....
I knew I needed to add more darks at this stage both to define some petals, create a bit more bg and some more form to the centre but so easy at this stage to go too far and actually ruin what I thought was looking promising... hence my uncharacteristic patience.

I took this to Bolton Art Circle tonight where I worked on it bit by bit and one of the members thought it needed to rotate anti-clockwise by 90 degrees and I had to agree when we turned it and so that's how I continued working on it. Just shows how another eye can really help crystallise thoughts.... I may have come to the same conclusion but then again maybe not. The funny thing was, once I had turned it, what I had to do then became much more obvious... I could actually see the whole thing much more clearly and  was able to see where to put the finishing touches... thank you Ken!!!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Eventful week and it's only Tuesday!!

Where do I start!!!

I have had 4 workshops booked within a week and the last two were yesterday morning and evening.  As always  I try to inject a bit of enthusiasm to the sessions and judging from the comments you will see here on Westhoughton Art Groups Website, I think I have succeeded!! Dave Hendry has been a great help to me and has recommended me to numerous groups within the Northwest so I have a lot to be grateful to him for. Two ladies from the group have also booked for my beginners workshops in July... the first session is now fully booked and I am trying to get bookings now for the second which am hoping will get booked up soon now.

I then went to Leigh to a group I have visited before where a lady also booked for a workshop with another fairly firm commitment from someone else as well!!! I visited Horwich Art Society on Friday and they are passing my details elsewhere for workshop bookings and maybe a final odd person or two for the beginners workshop......

And so to this morning... we set off bright and early to the hospital where hubby had his check up for the hip... all doing really well and the consultant is very pleased as the x-ray shows the hip is in exactly the right position, his muscles are much stronger so no further physio just carry on doing what he's doing!!

Then we made a detour on the way home to a wonderful restaurant in Rainhill called Galleria.  Sadly we didn't eat there but the menu looked delicious!! Joanne Boon Thomas had told me about this place where the proprietors display art work so it is not only  a restaurant but a gallery too... I had loaded the car with a selection to show them and have to admit was not sure they were going to take anything at first... Mala has a good eye for art and is in fact an art teacher herself but more importantly knows what sells in her restaurant/gallery and certainly some of the florals I had taken weren't really what she was looking for. However she was more interested in some of the animal series I have done recently and took 5 to display and see what reaction they get. I am thrilled as 4 out of the 5 are framed identically and I am hoping they will look good as a series all hanging together. She also asked me to frame a couple of mounted pieces which did happen to be florals and a final unframed one which is my own favourite... the Sea Holly.  These are what she took

So now it is Tuesday evening and as I am writing this and I am in the process of getting the domain name for my website which I am hoping will be launched very soon... I know not before time!!! I have built my own on which is a very user friendly host .......must be if I have managed it, at least I haven't had to go into it's brain to tell it to do things and am liking how it's looking so far. Have had some help from son no2... he has added some finishing touches like this blog and my new logo (how professional does that sound?) and tidied things up a bit which has been a real help to me as I sometimes get so far with things then don't know what else to do... he is also getting the domain name transferred over which all seemed a bit teccie for me so watch this space!!!

So a busy couple of days...I have a busy couple of weeks ahead too... having a new kitchen fitted, can't wait, the other one looks ok but is all frills and no knickers.... the hob doesn't fully work the fridge has a hard time staying cold and one of the ovens is on the blink so flatters to deceive!!! And once that is fitted my beginners workshops did I ever find time to work?

Monday, 17 June 2013

Review of Brusho Secrets Book and DVD by Joanne Boon thomas

I don’t really know quite where to start with this as the two publications have “brushoed” me away!!!!
So in terms of a proper review here are a few of my initial observations….

First,  both DVD and Book… extremely professional, very well edited, coherent commentary and instruction, exceptional images, wonderfully illustrated with splashes of colour so well incorporated into the body of the book… hope you are getting the picture…now for my review!!

I was so excited to get my copies of book and DVD and started on the book first…. As with any publication which captures me, food, housework (not that I often partake in that shady occupation!!) all went to the dogs and I settled down to follow Joanne’s journey with her beloved Brusho for that is exactly what the book is, a journey, where she takes you slowly, simply and carefully through the various steps she has taken years to learn, to help us on our way to successfully using this beautiful medium. 
As with her videos, Joanne’s writing is easy, clear and uncomplicated, but, very well thought out, and it sounds just as if she is talking to you……she makes everything really, really clear so together with the stunning illustrations of the many, many studies, and demonstrations  you cannot fail to make progress with this fabulous medium. Speaking of the demonstrations, each one made me feel it was thoroughly achievable…. there is comprehensive instruction and meticulous illustration at each stage so exemplary execution of step by step demos (can certainly learn a lot from this for my own very amateur attempts!!) which I feel sure will help tremendously when you get to do some practice. 

The other thing Joanne shares are all her techniques, the softening technique she uses both for Brusho and watercolour, her use of light and dark, the splattering, use of wax, bleach, too many to mention here but let me assure it would seem no stone has been left unturned in this fabulous publication. I do in fact have only one negative comment to share about the book and that is having been rather  pro e-books,  I have to confess I really want to see this as a hard copy… I somehow want to feel the book, to see it in full glory and see the full impact of the colour illustrations, to show it off on my coffee table, but then I am a bit of a book fiend… I have all my childrens’ books and still have some I bought and never ended up giving!! 

And now to the DVD.  To start with I really can’t say which I prefer, I am lucky enough to have both (there is a special deal if you buy both together) and wouldn’t be able to say yes it’s the book you must have or no it’s the DVD… I usually watch a DVD then refer to the book but this DVD shares some different demos than the book so adds to the value!!  Although I have been on several brusho workshops with Joanne I have sometimes been left wondering… now what did she do then and how did she do that? I do remember a lot of what I see and do in a workshop but there are inevitably bits I forget and would be nice to have Joanne living here just to ask her those little queries… well that’s where this DVD comes in… it’s like having Joanne in your home telling you all the things you might just have forgotten. The DVD follows a similar format to the book and builds up with a host of simple exercises where you are encouraged to play and get a feel for how much product and water to use. There is also a really useful recap screen at the end of each chapter where all the hints, tips and instructions are shared for that particular chapter. 

If you buy the DVD what will become clear is Joanne’s talent… you will see how she builds something up and more importantly how she finishes something off, something I know I drone on about a lot… I believe that is the main difference between the pro artists and we aspiring ones… they know what tiny little bit of paint is needed to transform a painting and you will witness this time and again in this DVD.   I was most impressed with the snowy painting which is building up nicely and suddenly Joanne transforms it and the whole thing comes alive… you need to see it!!!! There are some wonderful florals and I was also hoping a nude would be included  (which it is) and though it is a more advanced painting it concludes the DVD and will certainly  leave you yearning to paint it.

I think it is very clear that not only do I like this new book and DVD, I am in awe of the written, spoken and illustrative content… I do know that both book and DVD were only in the initial planning stages at the start of the year and to have created something as professional and complete as this especially in the time scale is an amazing feat and all credit must go to Joanne Boon Thomas and to Art Tutor who have collaborated wonderfully well.  Nothing has been held back from producing two of the most comprehensive,   instructional, attractive pieces of art publications I ever have seen and read (and believe me I’ve seen a few!!) and I am absolutely certain that if you were to buy this book and DVD you would not only be thoroughly inspired to try this tantalising medium but  it would also give you the tools to produce some paintings you might only dream of!!!

If you would like to buy these wonderful products here is the link…Brusho Secrets

Saturday, 15 June 2013

My Husband's First Watercolour!!!

I have been nagging him to let me practice on him for a few days now and he finally capitulated this afternoon!! As many of you will know I have some beginners workshops coming up and I have been doing some prep and I wanted to get some idea of how it was going and whether I was pitching it right.

So we started with some washes where I guided him through how to use the brush, how much water, the consistency of paint and of course a little mixing of the paint on the paper. He really seemed to take to it very well but was a bit unimpressed as he said he just did what I told him..... I do know from experience that in itself is definitely not a given and of course it was like one to one tuition and he painted along with me so that I could correct him before he made a mess.

After the washes, we did a bit of dry brush practice then drew a very simple mountain scene with a bit of water in the foreground. We built it up glazing layer after layer using UB, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna so that we could see some aerial perspective, the mountains getting darker as we came forward, and here is his finished piece!!

I think for a first attempt this is fantastic and only serves to reinforce my view that anyone can learn to paint... it is a skill not a talent and I am absolutely delighted that he has done this as a complete beginner and proved that someone who doesn't seem to have an artistic bone in his body can actually produce something as good as this!!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Step by Step "Bee on Cornflower" Image by Gary Jones

If you don't want to read any further I would fully understand as you stop and admire this superb photo taken by Gary Jones. Am not sure what has possessed me to even attempt it let alone do a step by step!! But I have chosen it for our June image in the Loose group on Paint my Photo and not wanting to let the side down thought I had better get down to it!! There have already been some wonderful paintings posted and  hope my version does it justice.

The colours I have used are Cobalt Blue
                                               Winsor Violet
                                               May Green
                                               Permanent Rose
                                               Translucent Orange
                                               Cad Yellow
Paper is 25"x20 200lb Hahnemuhle (used on the rough side as this paper has two surfaces)

This was the initial wash where I added the cob blue, Winsor Violet, May green, wet in wet leaving the area of the Bee which I very vaguely sketched to get the position. I did add some orange as you can see to the right but not sure about that area now.
 Next I added some darks and orange to define the bee as I thought that would help me position the petals and give me some reference for the rest of the painting. As you can see also a touch of green negative painting around the petals at the top.

I always seem to have a phase when I think it is not going as I would want and this is the start of that here. I decided to lay down some of the dark values but working around the piece in this way does leave you a bit in the dark as to how it is developing. I often paint like this so different areas can be drying as I work on other areas, this is quite a large piece it obviously takes time to build up the different areas. I have added some green at the bottom to give me some of the stem and tell me where the flower head needs to finish and give me the area I need to be working within.
 I felt I needed more work on the bee at this stage. That is my focal point and by concentrating on that I hoped it would make it clear how much or little I needed to do on the rest of the flower.
Next I start to add some depth to the centre using UB and permanent rose. I am not following the photo rigidly here but just trying to give an impression of the stamens, letting some of the edges wash softly away and keeping others.
Now I move to defining one or to more petals painting negatively around some of the edges with the colours I have used in the background and again the petals only vaguely resemble the positions in the image. Had I drawn the image before I would have had a more accurate representation but that isn't what I wanted, I wanted to capture the colours and the soft feel of the photo and some of the light.
 More work on the bee and at this stage I feel I am beginning to rescue it... still not sure about the orange but will wait until I have finished to decide about that.

In this final stage (for now) I have added the final petals to the right and defined a few darker areas around some of the other petals. I placed the image slightly left of centre but I think it may look better in a square format and may well crop it if I decide to frame and that would get rid of some of the orange. In the meantime I will keep it hanging around and see if I think it needs anything else. As always am open to any ideas you may have too!!

Friday, 7 June 2013

My 2nd visit to Patchings

What a lovely day I had yesterday!!

Set off with an arty friend Lynne Frost before half past seven only to get lost twice on the way despite having printed off the google maps (and no it wasn't women reading maps syndrome!!). I called my husband to let him know we were on the way home and shared my frustration about the outward journey and guess what he said? He said " Well you went last year, didn't you remember the way?" I had to put my foot in my mouth to stiffle the reply (and that is no mean feat... get it feet /feat!!). Good job I was over 2 hours away!!!

Anyway we eventually arrived to a rather dull chilly day and of course I had a flimsy top on  (you can see me now can't you?) and a short sleeved cardy (don't you just love that word) so was pretty cold and needed a coffee to warm us up!! We saw Gill Fox and Sue Bradley almost as we arrived so joined them for refreshments.  We then met up with Dana Mallon and as Gill had kindly got our tickets to see Ann Blockley demonstrate in the St Cuthbert's tent for the afternoon, we decided our first stop in the morning was the artists tent where it was a treat to meet Andrew Geeson. Do check out his work from this link, you won't be disappointed!!

I have never seen Andrew's work before but as we passed his stand I was delighted to see some work which was all that I love about watercolour. We chatted to him for a while where he described in a very amusing way how he goes about things and said if we waited abut 10 minutes he would show us in a short demo... not that we put any pressure on him but the demo seemed to happen immediately rather than in 10 mins and we were all enthralled while Andrew shared his methods and even let me have a little go. Lynne said she thought I painted quite like him anyway but even though I do use lots of water it is in a slightly different way, and he has made me decide to try more direct wet in wet approach.

Not to be too picky about it but the difference is subtle, I add quite thick concentrated paint to my paper and then add water to let it all run and mix with other colours I also add direct to the paper...however Andrew thoroughly wets all his paper... leaving strategic areas dry for the white bits and then adds his colour very wet in wet, mopping up pools of paint and water with kitchen roll . The advantage is the dry paper acts as a barrier to the paint and so he can preserve his whites at the first stage whereas my way of building up a wash seems to be a bit more haphazard. Anyway will be having a go as his work was lovely and one or two of his paintings reminded me of the wonderful Victoria Prischedko. Of course I couldn't resist the DVD he had on sale which I thought was a bargain at £6 for an 85 minute film. We have enquired as well about workshops and we may be inviting him to the sunny shores of the Northwest if we can get a group of us together... the flapjacks and cake will be waiting Andrew!!

So we then meandered around the rest of the artists tent and Lynn and I went for lunch as we wanted to be ready for Ann's demo...... Sue had been to the morning demo as well which was very good apparently but when we met up with Ann she was unsure about what she was going to demonstrate at the afternoon session and was actually quite nervous... well who wouldn't be with 300 people in the room!!

So we arrived at the tent all set up with 2 large screens so that we could see Ann working as she paints almost flat, with her work at just a slight angle... it always feels good to see the really good artists working as you do, makes you think you are doing something right!! And so Ann started the demo and still wasn't sure what she was doing but as she talked her decision seemed to evolve and we were treated to a bluebell wood. Her style is very carefree and I would imagine she encourages real creativity on her workshops as she is prepared to try anything and likewise anything goes. It seems to me the thing about these exceptional artists is that they have transcended the basic stages where we mere mortals are learning about colour, composition, tone etc etc... they seem to have that knowledge which then frees them up for so much more experimental, exciting stuff, they are already masters of their media and they can then really start to play and explore other ways of doing things.

Ann built up the painting adding more and more paint to an already very wet wash... I am sure I would have left it to dry far sooner than she did (big lesson there!!) and finally added some salt and acrylic inks then she left to dry!! In the meantime she started another painting, a vibrant poppy scene and out came more acrylic inks... they certainly have the wow factor and the first washes on this piece were stunning to say the least and despite the real looseness of the approach a few dark spots in the centres and a few well placed edges and the poppies were really starting to appear... how do they do that???? Back to the acrylic inks later!!

Ann's demo finished, we all had a look at her wonderful work, had a quick chat and then I went off to find myself some acrylic inks. I have seen them used before and have Ann's DVD where she uses them fantastically and so the idea started in that wretched tent and what was at first a feeling of ooh I like those rapidly became one of those sort of itches which has to be scratched and I knew I would have no option but to go and find myself some inks!!! I went in search and was relieved to find them on the Daler Rowney stand with an offer of 3 for the price of 2...... a bargain.... should I save money or use the opportunity to buy more... no prizes for guessing which option I chose!! I then had to take decisions about which colours so from picking 3, it very quickly expanded to 6 then 9.

A brush purchase, cup of tea and a cake later..... Lynne and I set off back home.... I didn't lose my keys this time thank goodness and we made the sensible decision to stick to motorway for the journey... we didn't think we could get lost that way. I had a thoroughly lovely day and will be back again next year!!

Monday, 3 June 2013

My Art Room

I hesitate to call it a studio as it doubles up as a spare room even though we do have a another couple of spare rooms for visitors but I always like to have plenty of everything... a mind set  which is now leading me into trouble in my room as well!! It is small, though I like to think bijou is a better word and sounds more artistic!! Read on to be enlightened.......

My room has had two beginnings the first when my older son moved out and I exchanged contracts quickly before he had chance to change his mind (thankfully he still hasn't felt the need to return!!) and the second after my younger son moved out and I took overall possession again after his girlfriend who had been living with us had used part of it for her clothes the space isn't very big it was a bit of a squeeze to fit me in as well so when they left just over a year ago, it underwent another face lift and I have been in there ever since.

I had felt lonely being there when the rest of the family were elsewhere in the house and had started to paint downstairs again, the conservatory being a favoured location (still go in there from time to time as it gets lovely and warm when the sun is shining and I find myself invited in there) but now the house is quiet and I am no longer in fear of missing anything I can retire to my room quite happily and paint and get messy to my heart's content!!

I suppose the reason for me writing this post is that over the weekend I had a good sort out... well managed to throw a whole plastic bag of stuff away but more importantly,  in the process, managed to clear most of the bed which normally fulfils the function of a desk extension... it is a 3/4 size bed and was absolutely full of mount card, paintings, books, and goodness knows what else....... I usually wait until we have someone coming to stay before I have this kind of sort out but it was even getting on my nerves and obviously enough for me to feel I had to do something about it!! Not only did I have no desk space, there was no space on any other horizontal surface in the whole room and I realised it was going to stop me painting as I couldn't face the mess and there was nowhere to paint anyway!!

The trouble is I get so engrossed in what I'm doing I am really oblivious to what I am dumping where... heaven forbid I should actually put something away in it's rightful place!! I  probably do have enough storage space... well would have if I didn't have quite so many provisions... I have drawers full to bursting of paper, (watercolour, smooth rough, 140lb,300lb, Bockingford, Arches, Saunders, Fabriano, Hahnemuhle, full, half, quarter imp, acrylic, cartridge, pastel........etc etc)  in the divan drawers of the bed (in fact they are dropping off their rails under the weight!!), I have drawers and drawers full of old paintings which I know I should  get rid of but they are so much part of my journey I am reluctant, every so often I do part with a few but generally I keep hold and cannot really understand why I am so reluctant when they are all so terrible!!

Then of course I have mount card, books, DVD's, mount cutter, brushes, canvasses, easels, watercolours, painting boards, charcoal, pastels (oil and chalk), pencils coloured and watercolour, acrylics, gouache, oils (yes I even have a small unused selection of oil paint), files of reference photos, glue, glitter, you name it I have it...and am sure I will have forgotten something, but I think you get the idea in fact the phrase "All the gear no idea" springs to mind!!!

So I am a bit of a hoarder and no, before you wonder I didn't have a deprived childhood, I didn't go short of things I just have this predisposition to keep and get things "just in case" and of course I can't resist a bargain!!! So I am doomed whenever I visit Ken Bromley's and I find they have a deal on something or have something reduced because it may be slightly damaged... I may have no immediate need for it but who knows when I might need that very thing in the future!!

I am currently taking myself into needing a good camera and it is one of the next things I will put money towards when I have done a few more workshops and maybe sold one or two more paintings, my son has just got one and I am sure it is just what I need as well!!

Here are a few pics of my now very tidy art room, believe me this is tidy!!!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Are we there yet???

l always remember in the car when I was young and also when my boys were little this being the familiar cry on a long journey especially when there was something exciting to look forward to at the end!! Am still a bit like that even now!!

So I got up early this morning to continue my journey with this testing little piece as I have had some lovely feedback from my online pals both here on my blog, and on my facebook page.

Here is the unfinished one from yesterday

Add caption

I knew it wasn't done but I was a touch wary of doing too much more as the colours have been difficult to work with... silly me for choosing them in the first place but ever since I started working intensively with colour I have constantly tried to be inventive and imaginative with their use... sometimes it works, others it doesn't but I do find that when you mix on the paper (and on the brush which I am doing more of these days... makes a mess of the colours in your palette but I like the way it makes different things happen on the paper) you can mix colours together which you would never have dreamed of and the only restriction is you and your desire to step outside the box, use your imagination and try something new!!

I mentioned in the last blog I wanted to use the perylene green again, is does have a soft grey tone to it so not my usual choice but I love this colour and felt it would be good to use in this painting. I mixed a few planets using violet, permanent rose and various shades of yellow together with my green but didn't care for the "mood" they were showing me!!! Didn't like their attitude at all!! So I toned it down and added a second purple shade, more red in tone than the violet and stuck with that.

Adding more to the bg was suggested and I suppose I did really know that's what it needed but the problem with the colours are that they quickly produce a neutral sort of grey which I didn't mind in small areas but still wanted to keep freshness and vibrancy of the already muted palette I was using. I wanted to try and keep the characters of the colours separate while still letting them blend in parts so i did ix more on the paper than on the brush when I went back in.

This has been splattered, salted, sprayed, tickled, teased and tormented to within an inch of it's life. I have thrown everything at it!!! BTW the colours look slightly different but this is truer to the actual painting.

So are we there yet???