Monday, 28 May 2012

Brusho Workshop with Joanne Boon thomas

Have had a really brilliant day at a Brusho workshop led by

Joanne Boon Thomas

Some of you may know of Joanne as she has just done a series of DVD's

Expressive Watercolour Florals

for the Art Tutor venture

Art Tutor

Here is a link to the Brusho Secrets website where you can also get Joanne's recent Book and DVD about Brusho... check my review you won't be disappointed!!

You will find some of her demos on youtube.... she's had about 50,000 hits in a very short space of time and can assure you the DVD's are excellent as I have previewed some of them on ID&P.

So what is Brusho...... it's an interesting product....... a powder pigment which sort of explodes when sprayed with water.... as you can imagine I was just a little bit excited (well more like beside myself!!!) when I saw all the effects you could achieve with this stuff.

Joanne has a very easy, encouraging style,  her passion for watercolour shines through and her enthusiasm for this product was infectious....... not that I needed much encouragement!!!! It is a very versatile but unpredictable medium so the whole workshop was punctuated by lots of ooohs and ahhhs, not just from me by the way, and Joanne generously shared hints and tips which she has taken years of experimenting to discover. Thank you for that Joanne.

Just a few photos of the day. Joanne guided us through a few ways of applying the pigment to the paper and we then went on to do one or two washes, just playing and learning how to use with the water.   The next demo was a floral using an initial wash of brusho showing us how to build up the details with negative painting, splattering and the odd application of bleach,. The final piece was a woodland scene. Although brusho very much lends itself to florals Joanne wanted to show us it can be used for any subject..... the effects are brilliant and even though some of us did overwork and as always it wasn't as easy as Joanne made it look can see there is endless potential in this product and will definitely be adding it to my very limited repertoire of medium which at the moment comprises watercolour, watercolour and more watercolour!!!

This was my go at the floral.... tulips, more work needed on this but think you can see them developing, especially top left. Have used bleach and wax crayon on this and I am liking how this is going so will see what develops.....

Finally the woodland scene... not sure about this as it is, but the beauty is I can go back in especially now it is dry and keep working it for as long as the paper will stand it. The bleach is a revelation and can be splattered, applied with a brush and then painted over and can rescue those oh so annoying painted over white bits!!!!!!! Forgot to say, brusho can also be mixed to use like watercolour but one of the main differences is the vibrancy you get. As you will all know watercolour fades as it dries whereas there is much less fading with this from the initial application so all in all am a very happy bunny today!!!

Big thank you to Joanne, her workshop was fun, relaxed, informative, I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed myself!!!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Nature versus Nurture

I have just started trying to set up my own website....... am only on the first page so far and the first thing which strikes me is there are so many decisions to be made and decisions and I don't go together, can always see too many options then am doomed!!! So I can see this will be a long process if I have to deliberate over every aspect!!!!! Will need to pursue this as I can't afford to actually have one built so may take a while but will keep at it.

As I was writing the "About" bit it seemed relevant to mention desire which I know is absolutely key to improving as an artist. Desire will drive everything you need to do. I believe we are all born with our designated, genetic amount of talent, intelligence, personality etc etc, but the key is how do we use that? Very much a nature versus nurture discussion.

This is how I think about it.

Imagine our talent is like an elastic band and we are all born with our own unique band... that band might be thick, thin, long or short but that is where we start. The crucial bit is what influences  our band and how much we are then able to stretch it. Someone who has no access to a musical instrument or has never learned to read music may never discover they have perfect pitch, their musical band remains unstretched , it may be a lovely thick juicy band, whose stretchabilty knows no bounds but its potential will never be recognised. Someone who has a much smaller band but has been introduced to the wonders of music may stretch their band to a much greater size possibly because of their own desire and the opportunities afforded them.

And so it is with art..... some will be blessed with awesome talent which  neither they, nor the rest of the world will ever come to recognise.  Either their talent has never been awakened or maybe they don't have the desire to pursue it and that is where the rest of us come in......just how big our artistic band is, becomes somewhat irrelevant when pitched against desire. Desire will stretch your elastic band as far as you will ever want, the human potential knows no bounds when it is married to desire. Desire will teach you everything...... it will push you to practice, to seek knowledge, improve technique, experiment. Desire is all it takes, you  DO NOT need any special talent you just need to want to do it..... anyone can paint and how good we become depends on how far we stretch our elastic band, it will never snap it will stretch to wherever you need it to stretch to. Please think about this whenever you are feeling despondent... you can do it, practice will help you both improve and cultivate the desire, the more you do the more you will want to do.......I am living proof that desire rather than innate talent is what is needed....... here endeth the first lesson!!!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Success at Exhibition!!!

Well I think it was a success!!!

Sold two paintings to the same delightful lady who seemed to love my work... did wonders for my ego!! One was from my folder

The famous clown Emmet Kelly, done as an image for the loose group on

Paint my Photo

and the other was one of the nudes I did, this was framed but the lady was buying it for a friend who was visiting from Canada and thought it would be better without the frame for ease of transport back to Canada.

I am really pleased to have sold something, the footfall again wasn't too good and as it has been such a glorious day am sure a lot of people have kept away.... who can blame them??

I did make one or two more contacts and gave my name to a local art group who may be interested in me doing a workshop for them. I also met a young artist named Liam Dickinson...... this is his website

He is trying to make a living as a professional artist but works at Tesco at the weekends to supplement his income, he does wonderful portraits and has just ventured into the world of IPAD drawings. He also has quite  few demos on you tube.... check this one out.... Alan Sugar, painted in......guess what?  Sugar!!!!!

Alan Sugar Speed Painting

So all in all a good day for me, met some lovely people and though I didn't make a fortune always feels good to have someone like your work enough to actually buy it....... thank you Linda!!!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Paralysis by analysis... copying from other artists

This is an interesting one... well I think so anyway!!! I referred to this briefly in another blog

Painting holiday in Umbria

When I first started painting I really had no idea about what to do and found that a lot of tutors I went to used other artist's work for us to learn from and as a result I eventually became quite adept at copying what other artists had done

This is Pidgeon's Point after Tony Crouch

One from Milind Mulick..... a wonderful artist from India whose work I recommend you check out

Jonathan Wheeler a fabulous Scottish artist who a few years ago awakened my love of colour

You will see lots more work like this on my page on I Draw and Paint


Not work I am very proud of now but remember being quite pleased at the time as I was starting to get work that looked like proper watercolours........So what was the problem?

Exactly as it says in the title, all this copying and analysing other artists work paralysed my own creativity. Am not denying I learned a lot along the way, however it always felt like cheating and when I finally came to start trying on my own from photos I found myself not quite knowing where to start. I had become too reliant on the creativity of these other artists, using their work as a crutch so much so that I was unable to think for myself. Maybe I didn't do enough of the analysis bit!!!

So where did I go from there? I decided to try and get a bit more serious about things, approaching things with more intent and decided first to start concentrating on colour. This is what I loved seeing in others work so thought it would be a good thing for me to try to get to grips with....... am still learning about colour now but feel a lot more confident in my ability to put together an attractive painterly scheme which I find pleasing and I hope others do to. This is why I started doing my colour planets, just mixing and playing with colour, trying to find the combinations I liked and which for me at least, seemed to work, as many of you know I still do them now.

The significance of this painting is that it was my first moderately successful painting direct from a photograph which I took while we were on holiday...... lots not good with this (the trees to the right  for example) but I like the light and the effects on the stonework and was pretty chuffed with it at the time as it really did represent a breakthrough for me.

So what I have learned?

Well I never do copies from other artists work now, yes I will practice their techniques and will maybe do a step by step as Jean has in her book but would never present it as a finished piece of work, it would always be done as practice and for learning.

I will not be using other artists work when I start with my group in October, I will be trying to encourage them to use their imaginations to not just paint as they see...... to try different things, to experiment, copying definitely set me back and I don't want that to happen in the group. I will encourage them to look at other artists and yes use their work for techniques and ideas maybe, but then to put their own interpretation onto something so they will not become as paralysed as I did.

Finally the one artist I wouldn't mind copying is just impossible to do...... believe me, I've tried!!!!! However Jean Haines' techniques can be learned as I am finding and that is what I recommend you all do. Look and learn from other artists and yes try copies if you must, but don't do direct copies, always try and add something of yourself. A lot of people tell me they recognise my paintings now.... not quite sure what it is they recognise but it must mean there is something of me which is becoming more evident as I progress. I might yearn to paint like Jean but now yearn more to paint like me!!!!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Atmospheric Watercolours by Jean Haines (and sleepless nights!!!)

Well haven't finished it yet but am savouring every page!!!! It's stopped me eating and sleeping a good thing maybe???

Haven't done a book review before (and after reading this you may think "hope she never does one again!!!!") and maybe I should wait until it's finished but am just a lot excited about this one!!!!! It is full of Jean's secrets written in her own easy, inimitable, encouraging way, as if she is talking intimately to you, the reader. She shares moments and memories of her past..... a lovely insight into the Jean we don't get to hear about.....

I have done the first few exercises in the book following just what she did and guess what?????? They turned out and I think the penny might finally be dropping. If any of you have been lucky enough to either see Jean demonstrate or go to a workshop, she makes things look so easy.... well we all know it isn't... right????

Easy comes from years of practice, experience and desire, but.... and this is what I really want to share, this book opens the door and certainly for me has given me those all so sought after glimpses of what I'm looking for...... that's why I was so excited about it and apart from everything else, retiring, exhibition on Saturday, holiday next Wednesday etc etc....... well you can now understand why I couldn't sleep. I said to my husband at 3:30 I think I might get up... he said "What are you going to do.... paint?" Of course I said no....... hmmmm thought she indignantly does he really think I was going to get up and paint at 3;30 in the morning, how ridiculous!!!!!! Am beginning to think he knows me too well  (note to self... need to become more mysterious!!!)

So hope to read and reread more today and the next weeks and months of course, I think Jean was wise to have this published in hardback as I think it will become one of those "bible" sort of books which in paperback may become too worn!!!  Am sorry for those of you who have to wait for a copy, it will be worth the wait I promise!!! Will keep you updated and maybe write another review when I have had more chance to work through and digest... it is a treat for sure.  I normally like to flick through books before I buy but I had faith that this one would be what I was looking for and it is ...... in bucket loads!!!!!! It is a book full of hope, colour and life and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Did these for our studies and exercises in the Loose Group on PMP

Paint my Photo

The first is better in my opinion and I didn't draw that...... seems more spontaneous. Had a problem with these bananas, wanted to paint from life so bought a bunch then ate them!!!!! Painting food isn't good for me, wouldn't be too tempted with onions or garlic but quite like bananas so note to self for next time choose something I don't really like!!!!

Still need to get looser with these, need to lose a bit more control with more lost edges so will work on that. These quick studies are so good for working out how to do something.... when working loose we are trying to portray something with the minimum amount of detail.... creating symbols for things so that the viewer can still see what the subject is, while maintaining an element of mystery about the piece and that is where the skill lies........ how to portray a subject without the detail but still conveying just enough to let the viewer understand what they are looking at..... hmmmmm??????

Any ideas on a postcard.........!!!!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Crazy Holly

Have been working on this today.... my hubby said do some fiery colours!!!! I have actually bought some new colours, some fiery ones amongst them and as you know from my last blog I wanted to do something different with the sea holly as I was getting a bit fed up with the same colours but wanted to try a new composition. I was concerned that it would just look odd and maybe it does but I actually quite like it!! It hasn't photographed terribly well........ the colours are a bit more vibrant and there is more texture than shows up on here but I do like the colours and I think the composition works, decided to do this landscape and got a bit lost with the fronds but that is one beauty of painting loose, it doesn't always matter if some of the details "disappears."

Am not sure this is finished but will leave it a day or two and see what I think and of course if any of you reading this see anything please feel free to let me know

I think I will frame this in black, and maybe take to the exhibition on Saturday..... might try yet another combination using more complimentary colours, rather than these harmonious ones, so need to work out a new composition now as well..... I don't feel I have finished with the sea holly yet and I can't tell you what a useful exercise it has been to do all these different studies, I have got to know the subject so much better and I have more idea how to paint the flower so that I can now concentrate on the other aspects of the piece.

I think I will do this a lot more from now on, explore different subjects, find my way around them try out different compositions and colours.
This is my third try at the Sea holly , the second might have to bite the dust, though I am still working on it!!! I am trying a few different compositions so have started using a sketch book to get some ideas and this one evolved,. I like this composition and I do like the extra texture, check out my first go at these, then you can compare and see which you like best. The first one is much smoother and though I think it does look better in real life and of course framed,  I definitely prefer this one.

First blog

Now another question...... have done 3 of these all with the same colour scheme so for the time being although  I want to try other compositions am thinking of trying another palette. I know I am all for using imaginative colour schemes but have never seen sea holly anything other than varying shades of blue, purple and sometimes white and not sure whether it will just look silly so what colours do you think I might be able to do this in without it looking daft.......alternatively I might have to try and find another flower which has this sort of look........... any ideas?

Sunday, 13 May 2012


Well this was my first ever public showing of paintings and although I didn't get any sales I did hold my own with the other work and got some very positive feedback mainly from my own friends and family admittedly, but as they were the only people there hardly surprising!!!

Unfortunately footfall was terrible and if I hadn't had a host of visitors arriving at intervals the whole thing would have been absolutely dead! We kept the kitchen going with tea, coffee and cakes!!! It was a lovely day and just about a mile away there was a big fayre going on, a friend had been there and said it was heaving so maybe a lot of our potential customers were there.....

A learning experience... still not sure about the prices, but looking at the work there mine was pitched about right, I didn't want to overprice but was also concerned about underpricing as I want to be taken seriously. I would have also had a sale for my horses head

had I not already given it to my son, and might have a commission to do something similar so will wait and see about that. One of the other artists asked me did I have any cards so I might look at that for the future. Trouble is, all this is so costly when starting up without any money coming in.... I have had to frame 10 pictures which is an expensive job but they are all ready and waiting now for the next one!!!

I have a slot at an exhibition, the first one to be held in our small town, which has been well publicised and is an event at the local church to commemorate the Jubilee. Am hopeful the foot flow will be better at this next one, the church has a good following and there are some professional artists showing so although my work won't be up to their standard it won't be their prices either. Will be an interesting experience and hopefully will give me the opportunity to meet some more people and network myself a bit more locally.

So that's my first experience...... not a success if we define that by sales but not a failure either as I learned a lot.... I need to take some hooks!!!! That's one thing to remember for next time. So, will keep plodding on, trying to get my work out there, the next one is 26th May so onwards and upwards!!!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Mixing Mud

I wanted to share my take on this for any of you who might have this problem. There are many theories about why mud happens, mixing too many colours together, mixing complimentaries, mixing opaques etc, etc.

Well...... I don't agree with any of that!!!!

For me there are two reasons why mud happens in a painting...

1. Adding different colours to the paper and then fiddling with the brush. You need to let the colours mix by themselves on the paper, add the paint and LEAVE alone!!!! The only help you need give it is to move the paper around.

2. Painting over something before the underlayer is completely dry.... an absolute no, no..... have  PATIENCE!!!!! I should practice what I preach!!!

Take a look at these ( already featured in my Planets blog but like to get my money's worth out of things!!!!)

Have used raw and burnt sienna for them all and changed the blue, so mixes of warm, cool, primaries, opaques, semi's, transparents.... but no mud!!

This one has a variety of blues and reds all with raw sienna, so again opaques and semis (cad red, cerulean, indigo etc) primaries, warms, cools, really doesn't matter it is the technique which prevents the mud, not the colours. On all of these I just let the colour mix on the paper either wet in wet or wet in dry and then LEFT ALONE!!! As soon as you go in with a brush or go back in before the paint is dry you will get a dull murky mix.... am not talking about brown here am talking about a colour which is dull, unattractive and lifeless and quite obviously a mix you don't want to get in your paintings.

An alternative way to add colour to a wet mix is to splatter or throw paint at the paper (Jean Haines does a lot of that and I defy you to find any mud on her paintings!!!) the key is to let the paint and water do the work, not the brush.

This is an example of what I mean. This was another version of the shell I did, used a different palette and was pleased with how it was going until I added more paint above the shell before it was completely dry... see what happened..... it hasn't actually created a brown colour but I think you can see the mix has totally lost any vibrancy, the colours have lost any identity and it is an ugly unattractive mix. I have washed this out and am going to try and rescue it.

This was a painting done using a step by step by Lydie Pieplu from Paint my Photo as inspiration. I've used lots of colours, just threw them on for the bg and made sure that when I went in with the darker layers around the flowers the paint under was completely dry.


Here's a  challenge for you all......try and make mud, make the muddies yukkiest mix you can and observe how it happened.  Then,  try again and mix as I've tried to describe here. If you feel the colours you are using are impossible to mix without mud, post them here and let me have a go to see if I can manage it!!!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Properties of my Palette

Have just been looking at  Jane Minter's blog where she has done this exercise to check the transparency and staining properties of her palette and it reminded me of this I did last Summer. It is such a useful thing to do and I got one or two surprises as well!! Some colours I thought were transparent, were semi-transparent eg the Schminke May Green, am sure if I'd checked on the tube I as I was buying it I would have found the answer!!!

My raw sienna is also semi but I must admit I historically I have a few makes of it and not sure if it was W&N I used, which is meant to be transparent.

I have added a few colours to my palette since I did this and now I tend to stick to the transparent colours, most of which tend to be staining as well so although not as easy to lift off these for me are the jewels of the colour world, whether the staining quality adds a richness I don't know but they are the colours I am drawn to!!!

I know many of you will think this is too much trouble and you can't be bothered, but I would advise everyone to have a go at this, there is nothing like seeing it for yourself and also checking out your own paints. The principles seem to stick better when you actually see it, it helps you understand and more importantly remember when you have actually done it and also provides you with an instant point of referral for your own palette.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Jean's Influence

Was thinking of entering an SAA competition, they post a photo and invite members to paint so this month was a seascape with a boat. Haven't done many seascapes, then I remembered seeing some landscape paintings Jean Haines had done on one of her master classes which she posted on her blog and on facebook and so have taken inspiration to do this. This is the link

I have been practising the washes Jean does as warm ups, they are not as easy as she makes them look!!! It is quite tricky getting the texture and variation in them, so studied one of hers closely and tried to do the same!!!

I think Jean would definitely say this isn't finished so am letting it sit in my art room and will keep going back to it to see what it might need... the composition isn't right, too uniformly diagonal cross the foreground and not enough interest so will probably have a go at doing something about that. Not worried if I ruin it, there is a painting on the back and it was just a practice, though I do like the sky and parts of the foreground, might have a go with some cling film next time as Jean did in the class.

Leave me a comment if you see anything I could do with it, having been to one of Jean's workshops I now know that most of my paintings aren't finished, and I know I need to work on them for longer and need to be a lot more patient!!!