Monday, 30 July 2012

Watercolour Class with Joanne Boon Thomas

Joanne runs a class every Friday morning at Sunshine House in Wigan. It is a great class and is accessible for all as members and non members alike can attend and get to be taught by one of the best art tutors I've had the pleasure to be associated with. Joanne has a very easy manner and the class is packed with tips and hints which Joanne shares with enthusiasm and a sense of humour.

This was a sort of part two as last week the class had done a close up study of the boat in this landscape, to get a "feel" for how to paint it, an excellent teaching tool and one which I will be using in my own workshops in the future.... thanks Joanne!!!! So I came a bit late to this and as I am not known for my deliberation and consideration, managed to do both in the class.

As usual lots of things I could and would have done differently, but what I really like about doing classes with different tutors is they all have something new to offer and Joanne is no exception to that. She talks constantly throughout the demonstration, describing how and why she is doing something talking about counterchange, composition, colour (very limited palette for this)and what she is thinking about as the painting progresses. She is constantly stepping back to view how things are going and has a real gift in being able to add that little touch which makes all the difference. I must admit this is something I have witnessed when attending workshops of more talented experienced artists especially those who work in a loose way as Joanne........ they all have that knack of finishing touches without overworking and Joanne is a master at that!!! Definitely something I need to work on!!!

The other thing about doing classes with other Artists is that I need to find tutors who teach in the way I want to paint and I have been lucky enough to see Jean Haines and Joanne Boon Thomas in action on more than one occasion which has been a revelation to me.

Finally check this out  Art tutor. This is a new venture which Joanne is involved with and has done a number of Dvd's for them so if you can't get to see Joanne live you can always see how she works here.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

That's what I like a Chicken with Attitude!!!

This is called Chicken Strut and I really like the pose....... you dare send me for chicken food!!!!

This was a really quick sketch, no drawing about 15 mins and the problem is when I do something this quickly, it leaves me thinking it can't possibly be finished in that time so am often tempted to go back in and fiddle a bit more but I quite like how this is coming along and not sure if I am going to touch again. It may need some darkening in parts, but the other thing is, have this done on the back of another and I have often wondered what happens to paintings like that where they may be saleable but there is a howler on the back?!?!?! I generally use the backs for practice but it often happens that the practice pieces look better than the main event so I probably have lots like this!!!!

So answers on a postcard!!!!  Is it ok to sell paintings with rejects on the back? What does everyone think?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

An award from a fellow Blogger!!!

What a lovely surprise this was from Konstantina. she has awarded 5 of these to blogs she likes and the idea is we pass them on. Konstantina, like me is new to "Blog World", she draws beautifully and has a very thought provoking blog..... so a big thank you from me Konstantina and very best wishes

These are my 5 blogs. they have to be for people who have less than 200 followers..

1. Sharon the Rambling Artist Sharon is even newer to blogging than me but is doing a wonderful job mainly because she is a fab artist and that comes through on her blog. She hasn't been painting that long either, so when you check her out I think you will be amazed at her work!!

2. Roy Simmons. I have chosen Roy for many reasons not least of which is his blog. Though he doesn't comment much on his posts his work speaks for itself, however Roy has many more strings to his bow, he is the founder of Paint my Photo which is a marvellous site and one I recommend you all visit, he has created his own brand of painting "Fearless Watercolour" and has an e-book available from his website and PMP and a host of instructional DVD's.... how can you not check this one out!!!

3.A Blank Sheet of Paper. Dawn in Shanghai writes this and she keeps me riveted from the minute I start reading. Dawn is on a similar journey to me with her painting, she has the same love affair with watercolour and her blogs are funny and interesting, She also writes one about her life in Shanghai which I find equally readable and I always look forward to any new blogs she writes!!

4.Brian Morrison. Now if you are looking for talent, check Brian out.... another man of many talents.... now why is it the men who seem to be multi skilled here!!!! Brian is a caricature and silhouette artist as well as a fabulous watercolourist. He has also done oils in the past and written scripts for television and a novel no less.... I really do live in exalted company!!! Another you need to have a look at!!!

Last but not least

5. Sherry Schmidt. Another beginner to "Blog World" who is developing a lovely loose style and who you will see when you take a look is a very talented artist. Her blog is a lovely look into her art and she unlike most of us seems to be really getting to grips with "Plein Air" painting.

So there you have my 5. The next thing I have to do apparently is list 5 things you don't know about me which as I tend to spill all in my blog will not be easy!!!

1. I LOVE food!!!
2. Apart from coconut which I absolutely hate!!
3. I go to Zumba classes usually on Friday
4. I am a Zoology and Biochemistry graduate (have hinted at my scientific background but never declared in what so hope this one counts!!!)
5. I think I might need treatment... "Hello my name's Judith and I'm a paintaholic!!!"
Maybe that one is a cheat and you do know that so possibly like Konstantina I love to be near the water, either on a boat or at the waterside. One of my best holidays was on the Norfolk broads where we could watch the world go by on the motor boat we hired with our friends and family.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Hindley Art & Soul

Just a quick update about the workshop today..... had another fab time there and they've asked me back........... AGAIN!!!!

Need to make an apology before I go on... I had intended to take some photos of the work everyone had done, there were some really lovely paintings, and with permission of course was going to post some  here but I was so engrossed in it all I completely forgot.... sorry folks!!!

They ask some really good questions here and I love moments like when we were talking about negative painting that the penny seemed to drop with some of the group and the fog seemed to clear.

Anyway to all the group, I wanted to say how well everyone has done today......painting loose is not for the faint hearted but I think today everyone got a better feel for how to approach things and it will be a pleasure to go back in October!!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Painting versus Drawing..... My Dilemma!!!

Deliberately chose the title to indicate a difference between the two and many of you who have followed me on the various forums will know I have spouted forth many times on this subject.

Now I find myself in a bit of a dilemma with my own spouting!!!!!

I have always felt that painting and drawing are completely separate skills... still do in fact. I have never seen anything wrong in using aids for getting a drawing onto the paper allowing someone to then get on with painting. I drew a lot as a child but painted very little so developed reasonable drawing skills and absolutely no painting skills. So did the ability to draw help my ability to paint? Not one bit other than being able to get a credible drawing on the paper which I invariably ruined the minute I touched it with any paint!!!!

I started to get precious about the drawing and the whole thing put me off painting anything which was remotely difficult to draw as I knew I was likely to have to do the drawing again and again and again.  I ruined so many beautiful drawings as soon as I hit the paint and it all took too long, keep having to draw things again to be painted. I found painting to be a much more difficult skill to learn than drawing but how was I to learn to paint if the thought of keep having to do the drawings was holding me back?

So, I started to paint without drawing something which is a fundamental feature of Jean Haines work, work as you will all know I love and has been an inspiration to me. This process really works for me, not because it allows me to be more spontaneous and to be less constrained by the lines ( I know Jean if you are reading those should be my main reasons!!!) but simply because it lets me paint as soon as possible and I can never wait to start painting!!!

So what's the problem then!!!

Well my problem is that although my drawing skills are ok..... am beginning to realise they could be a lot better so that I am struggling with certain things when just going in with the paint and this is where the dilemma arises.....

This is the image I'm working on at the moment, another Susan and I are doing and have done 2 watercolour sketches so far. Am liking how the fur and background are happening but can I get the muzzle right in proportion and angle to the eye and rest of the face? It is totally spoiling the whole sketch and frustrating me at the same time!!!! As with any sort of portrait the features have to be right, the angle of this face is proving particularly tricky and I am really struggling just going in with the paint so on this I am going to do just a faint drawing. But, I don't want to go back to having to draw. I want to paint!!!

When I used to go to art classes and did very little practise during the summer break I used to find my drawing skills deteriorated and needed a bit of work to bring them back to standard. I have done very little drawing recently but have now realised I really do need to brush up on my skills so that I can continue to work without the use of a sketch in my painting.

Painting without drawing needs spot on drawing skills and while I can get away with a lot of subjects, flowers, landscapes, nudes, they don't really seem to test my drawing skills, other subjects I struggle with, face profiles, some animals and other subjects where I maybe just haven't paid attention to the finer points of the drawing (Jean's door for example)..... and with this image there is a tricky angle, so am finding I need a few guidelines and therefore think it is back to the drawing board quite literally for me!!! 

So it isn't really a dilemma but it is something I need to address. It doesn't shake my belief that drawing and painting are two separate skills but what do I now think about people using aids to get the drawing on the paper? I think I still believe that to be a good thing for those who struggle with drawing and spend hours trying to get something to look half decent to then allow them to paint. I have always advocated that people practice drawing for the sake of drawing and painting for the sake of painting.
However, having encouraged people to use other means of getting an image on the paper, doesn't mean I  would not encourage them to improve their drawing skills. Drawing is a fundamental but what I am trying to say is that I don't want lack of drawing skills to stop people painting. Try and learn to draw as a skill in itself and likewise learn to paint as a separate skill. Learning to draw means learning to draw "what you see not what you think you see" and just as you can be taught to paint you can be taught how to draw. I do have the book "Drawing wth the Right Side of the Brain" a bit of a drawing teaching bible and as yet haven't really checked it out... maybe now is the time!!!

So, you might see one or two charcoal sketches appearing on my blog over the next few weeks as I try to polish up my drawing skills so that I no longer need to draw on my paper and can just paint!!!!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Flower "Step by Step" Loose Watercolour Painting

I've been asked to do a video on how I did the clematis but sounds a bit technical so thought a step by step might "break" me in before I go for the filming bit!!! My friend Susan Hall and I were chatting and she wanted to give this flower a go, we have been on-line friends and painting buddies for a good while now and the whole "loose" thing started with Susan so I have a lot to be grateful to her for....

This is the image Susan chose (one of Suzanne Wallick's lovely photos on Paint my Photo ) and I have to say wasn't sure how to begin. I thought I would start on the centre at first, then decided to do a full wash instead
Used opera rose, ub, may green, permanent rose, dash of green gold, paper is 20"x25" 200lb Hahnemuhle, so slightly smaller and squarer than full imperial. The biggest I have ever done!!! Tried to keep the pink/purple shades to the outside with darker shades in the centre. Now what to do next.... well first it needs to dry and then am going to try and do a mix of positive and negative painting defining some of the petals but by no means all but not sure at this stage where to do that..... exciting eh?

Thought I might be losing it here, kept going in before it was properly dry.... am always telling other people not to do that but I get carried away!!! Anyway I add paint then wash it away by adding clean water to the darker paint so that I don't get hard lines (you may notice the bg to the left is slightly lighter than the first photo.. that's because it had a hard line as it dried so I washed it away) and also let the colour bleed into other areas so that hard lines are kept to a minimum. I have made a mistake with the paper, as I had forgotten it has both rough and smoother sides and I have used the smooth for this whereas I much prefer rough.

Starting to see it now and I liked the "unfinished area to the left so decided to keep something of that as I continued to add some of the detail around the centre of the flower. Just kept adding a mix of darks both negatively and positively and washing away to pick out some of the petals. At this stage I was using some violet to give added depth to the darks. Another note about letting the paint dry, as I work on each area and wash away the paint I need to let each of those areas fully dry before I even think about going in again, otherwise mud will happen before my very eyes!!!
This is where it got trickier, deciding where to lose the flower head so I had a few goes and think this looked the best, at this stage it really is a case of keep stepping back to observe from a distance and tweaking it until it looks right to you. At this stage I also added a touch of chinese white for some highlights in the centre.

So that's the first step by step I've done, I usually forget to do the photographs in between but disciplined myself for this one. Would be very interested to hear your comments about whether you found this useful and would also be very happy to answer any questions you might have. Just leave me a message here or by e-mail and I will get back to you.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

WIP's.... Painting "en plein air"

2 WIP's.........sketches done "en plein air" today.... I know can hardly believe the weather has been suitable to actually sit and paint outside!!!! The first is a sad, weather beaten poppy which I don't  know whether I will actually be trying again but somehow there is something appealing and interesting about it and watercolour can often make the ugliest subject come to life.....

As you can see it isn't a pretty sight but there is another behind peeking through so all is not lost!!!

And this is my WIP. Not sure anyone would know it was a poor poppy but again I am quite liking the loose feel about this..... is the penny finally dropping I wonder?

I then looked at some Antirrhinums we have planted which thankfully seem to be ignoring the forces of the rain.... in the words of Pete Kay they seem to be the marines of the flower world just as hob nobs are to biscuits and sadly the poppies are the rich tea version which seem to shrivel, lie down and die at the slightest sign of adversity!!!

Am really seeing things I like in this and feeling like this has a lot of promise for a proper painting... this is only 7x11 and on the back of another but when I say a WIP am thinking I will leave it as any more might tip it over the edge!!! Will just use what I've learned from it work on something bigger.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Flowers, flowers and more flowers!!!

This is a clematis from my garden which I painted at Bolton Art Circle tonight. I took this photo a couple of weeks ago as the flower is so lovely and it's the first year it has bloomed like this and we got so excited about it!!! Take a look....

I didn't really have the right pink shades with me, have got 3 of those big palettes from Ken Bromley's which Jean Haines introduced me to and I took the wrong 2!!!! Anyway despite that. I like how this one has developed, I like the loose feel to it and will be working on some more like this.

I seem to be drawn to flowers at the moment, maybe it's because the garden is decimated by all the tropical rain we are having in the Northwest and I am longing to see some of the flowers we have planted in the last couple of years blossom.

These two are vaguely based on images from Paint my Photo. I have chosen a poppy for one of our July images in the loose group as we have 3 large clumps of poppies which were looking so promising.  Again the rain keeps destroying them, as soon as any come in to bloom, before I get out with the camera the rain gets them and they are ruined!!! But poppies were on my mind so these are my goes. The first is in I guess what you might call "my style" and the second is based loosely on a hint of a poppy in Jean Haines new Book, Atmospheric Watercolours. I think the second might need  bit more definition but again am liking the direction its going in and also quite liking the first..... now that is an improvement, me actually liking some of the things I am doing!!!

Have been having a bit of a lean spell...... doing plenty of painting but lots for the bin and not much to show so am pleased to see these coming to life on the paper!!! I don't need motivation to paint at the best (or worst!!) of times and when things start turning out I need even less and I get more excited and obsessed about it all..... hardly seems possible but just makes me want to paint more!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Right or Left Brain, the Revolving Ballerina and my Art

This blog isn't for the faint hearted but stick with it and I hope it makes sense!!!

I have been interested in this right and left brain phenomenon for for some time. Why, having studied science and been interested in psychology have I then been drawn to art has always puzzled me. I should, according to all the research have a predominantly left sided brain the one connected with logic, language, reasoning, numbers and the right side responsible for more intuitive, creative, expressive, musical traits should be be the less dominant. Yet, whenever I take the tests you can access online to see where your leaning is I invariably present as more right brained. Has anyone checked the revolving ballerina?

Revolving Ballerina

So now I will share my theories. I believe that a lot of people have difficulty understanding all things scientific precisely because they do have left sided brains, the side responsible for logic reasoning, language etc and the reason for my thinking...... the scientific world and in particular the biological side of things is so fantastic and beyond comprehension that it defies logic and actually requires a vivid imagination to make any sense of it!!

Think of how a human actually develops........from 2 cells into a living,breathing, functioning, spirit housing individual. The complexity of how that happens and the visualisation at cellular and molecular level is more than most can contemplate and it is my belief that in my case it is my imagination that allows me to glimpse into understanding how life is possible.

I remember having my first son and genuinely being in awe of nature and if anything was a miracle he was it. When I came to have my second son I remember being so worried throughout....... doubting whether it was possible to create another such miracle, something so perfect could never happen again........... I simply couldn't believe that we could either be so lucky or that nature could work so well again yet for a second time there he was another perfect miracle!! To actually try and make sense of how these miracles can happen for me takes a lot more than basic scientific knowledge. Understanding how something so complex can develop from two cells full of DNA, the building blocks of life, is simply mind blowing.

Without going on too much further with this I also wonder just how much credibility these tests have.... they are pretty basic questions and while I appreciate the brain does have two different sides I think I also believe that most of us have a combination of both sides which we can switch on to whenever the situation presents. I find I am really quite a mix of both, am messy but can be methodical and organised, I remember faces rather than names, I am logical but also rely on my "gut" instinct, I think both in words and pictures and I have specific shapes for some things like the months of the year!!! I know "What is she on?" you must be asking!!!!

What I hope from this is that as I progress, I will start to access my right brain more and more as I try to become more creative and instinctive about my art..... I hope that by engaging that area, experimenting, playing and going with the flow, I will start to see more of how I want things to look, a process that has already started happening especially when working with colour... there is hope yet!!!!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Midnight Walk Bolton Hospice. In memory of my Mum and Father in Law

What a lovely event this is!!! The atmosphere and people who line the streets along the way and your walking companions really pull you through and of course the added incentive if you have someone you are walking in memory of.

My Mum died in the Hospice nearly 2 years ago and I really can't express in words what a wonderful place it is (I know you can't believe that with how "gobby" I can be normally!!!!) and just how comforted she felt to be moved to the Hospice where she felt like she was coming home after a couple of nights in the local NHS hospital . She had visited the Hospice many times previously and had also spent time there for them to sort one or two problems out as well.

Though my father in law didn't die in the Hospice he also spent time there before he died where they did all they could to address his pain so I had very good reasons for wanting to do this walk and so pleased I managed it!

What the staff at the Hospice have is time..... time for the patient, time for the relatives, they offer such a caring, supportive environment and nothing is too much trouble. There is such a lot of palliative care ranging from reiki and aromatherapy to the gentle counselling the staff offer both to the patient and relatives.

I stayed with my Mum the last few nights and a room was also made available for my Dad on the night she died, so that he wouldn't have to make a mad dash from home if anything happened. I think a lot of nursing staff have a special vocation but those we met in the Hospice do seem to have an extra dose of compassion, I expect they need it as they so often have to deal with such tragic cases but what I am so grateful for is the gentleness and understanding they offered my Mum and my Father in law and the rest of the family during what were pretty horrible times.

I was quite nervous about the walk, 8.2 miles so not too far but I, probably like 99% of the population,  don't do that sort of walking on a regular basis... in fact probably never do, I had a trial run last Monday when I walked to my son's house. Admittedly I walked at a fair pace but I could more easily tell you what didn't ache in my body rather than what did!!! Took me 40 minutes to get there and he sort of smiled benevolently at me and asked was I sure I didn't want a lift home.... well yes I did but wasn't going to tell him that so walked another 35 minutes home and was really concerned as that was only just over half of my journey last night!!!

Anyway I needn't have worried, having taken anti inflammatories and pain killers for the previous 24 hours, I managed the walk no problem in 21/2 hours and apart from having two very large blisters on the balls of my feet and being a bit achy am still in one piece and want to say a big thank you to Tarryn and Amy who  kept me going, kept the pace at my level, and made the whole thing a very enjoyable experience. Thank you girls!!!