Thursday, 30 August 2012

Who Remembers the Cow?

Well finally got back to do this gorgeous little fellow. You may remember from my previous


about it,  I was having all sorts of problems trying to get the drawing right which then led the blog down the route of drawing and more dilemmas!!!

Well here are my first efforts without drawing

and as you can see I didn't "get it" though there are bits that I like about them, mainly the loose feel but I don't think they capture the essence of the pose, which is for me what makes the photo, so here is the go with a bit of drawing. I did use the same colour scheme as I quite liked that, sketches are all about learning for when you come to do the "proper" painting.

Anyway here is the next sketch.....

Still haven't quite got the angle of the nose but better. This is quite small 11x7 as I have been trying out some smaller pieces for the exhibition and looking at this I think I may strengthen the bg and some areas on the head a bit....... just looks  bit "wishy washy."

Having said that I might have another go altogether without drawing to recapture the spontaneity now I have a better idea of the drawing. What we don't necessarily recognise when we watch people like Hazel Soan and Jean Haines who often paint without drawing is that they have often done that subject many times before and therefore get to know how to paint it. Check out this quick DVD on elephants from Hazel

The first time I tried this my elephants were all over the place, all out of proportion but once I had done it a few times, it all went better

Not brilliant but much better once I had learned where to place everything and tons better than my first efforts!!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Cockerels and more Cockerels!!!

Have done these today as I am getting ready for an exhibition in Chorley the last week in September... have had some great advice recently... one is that cockerels sell and two go smaller in the current climate so that I can offer paintings at reasonable prices. So these are 11x7 approx, one eighth imperial. Of the two I prefer the first, it somehow looks more spontaneous and unusually that was the second one I did so maybe the practice with the first paid off!!! Often the first is the best attempt so am pleased that trend is reversing as it means I am learning from my previous mistakes!!

So I intend to do a few more smaller pieces which I will mount and possibly frame, maybe a couple more cockerels with different colours....... a different approach as one of my recent goals had been to go bigger!!!

Friday, 24 August 2012


This photo was taken by my brother in law on our day out the other weekend for my husband's 60th birthday weekend. The whole family had a tour around the Yorkshire Dales and this was taken from a walk we had along the River Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale, We both spotted this lovely property sort of hidden from view so, as we seem to be doing more of recently, you photograph them, I'll paint 'em!!!!

This was another that painted itself, about 40 minutes, though I have been doing lots of thinking about it, no drawing, straight in with the paint, but not much to be drawn on this really so not too difficult..... buildings are another subject I haven't done much of but am going to do some more in the future, we have such a lot of beautiful historic buildings in the North of England crying to be painted and maybe I'm the woman for the job!!! I certainly have a fantastic resource with Johns' photos so no excuse there!! In fact I am getting quite a store of photos I want to paint and hopefully the more I step outside my comfort zone the easier they will become.

I am quite happy with this, I like how the photo has translated to the painting (one of the main problems for artists) and the level of "looseness" about it. Stuck to a fairly limited palette for the bulk of it, cob blue, alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, cad yellow then touches of May green, raw sienna and green gold.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Did this for my sister and husband as she really liked the painting I did of Rolo. This is one of their boxer dogs Jaz, daughter of their other, Cassie. I will soon have introduced the whole family of animals just one or two more to do!!!This isn't as loose as most of my work and I have to admit a touch of drawing went on as this was one I attempted the other day and it just didn't go right. I take back what I said in my previous blog.... it is the loose stuff I can't always manage and don't know how it will turn out... if I want to paint a bit tighter then yes I can manage, just don't always know how best to do "loose!!"

It's since I started loosening up that the real trouble started!! Have used more paper in the last 18 months than in the whole of the rest of the time I've been painting!! So this may be a bit of a "cop out" as far as loose is concerned but I think my sister and brother in law will like and that's more important with this one (well that's my story and I'm sticking to it!!). I may have a go at some of John's other photos of the dogs, check out his page

Paint my Photo

He is an excellent amateur photographer and is interested in doing more work with his photography.... if you are interested in him doing a photoshoot or purchasing any other of his photos you can always leave a message here or e-mail me......

Monday, 20 August 2012

Does This Happen to You?

I suppose we artists (ok am using the word loosely here!!!) can be a sensitive lot and needy for affirmation and praise which is why we choose to post our work and I suppose one reason why I write my blog..... there are other reasons for the blog but one of them is to put my work into the public domain for people either to love, like, hate, reject... whatever is their opinion of what they see.

So taking into account that reason, I noticed that I haven't posted much in August (ok I was quite busy at the beginning of the month with the party)... but why you may ask??? Not because I'm giving up on my blog, but simply because even though I have been painting plenty, I haven't had much to post. I did three paintings last week and two I was delighted with but a lot ended up in the bin and having painted most of the day today, two goes at a cockerel, one attempt at a dog and finishing off a Venetian mask which I am very undecided about, have nothing more to show than 3 unfinished well below average attempts, so after my euphoria of last week, Rolo and the rose where I really felt I had really made progress am now back to somewhere different and struggling a bit!!!

So that is the question, do you have times when things just seem to turn out and you seem to be on a roll and then you seem to slip back or is it because sometimes you just hit on a subject which you can somehow manage to paint standing on your head and then you don't connect with a subject again for a while? Am not clear what my problem is but it has happened to me before when I do something I really like then takes me another age to reach those heights again!!! I suppose I should take heart from the fact that every so often I pop one out that I am thrilled with and maybe the rest of the time I am using my painting time to work up to the next one!!!

I do know that pro artists have their howlers too and I guess that they are better at rescuing their bin work than I am though I must admit I am getting better at doing that as well and don't leave half as many pieces unfinished as I used to, but sometimes things just seem to go right......... then reality comes along, knocks you on your painting beret and says "Ahaa you were getting a bit cocky and over confident then... a bit too big for your boots, time to bring you down a peg or two and let you see just exactly where you're at!!!

The paintings at the top are a couple of "breakthrough" pieces which I really felt worked at the time. I was earlier in my journey to loosen up when I did these but remember being very pleased with how they turned out.... I guess I work on the law of quantity...... the more I do the better I will get and the more successes I will turn out..... I do know it is all about practice and I should look upon these lean times as good practice for the next ones, just a bit disheartening when you seem to have taken a step forward and then 2 back!!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Arose from my Mind

I did this on and off while I was waiting for another to dry. I often paint roses from seeing Jean's blog about them and it was the first image we did in the loose group...... they are not as difficult as they may seem if you follow Jean's instruction and I have been working on them ever since.

This is quite large 20"x25" as I am still on the trail to paint bigger and this is smaller than full imp (22"x30") though larger than half. Have used Alizarin crimson, pthalo turquoise, cadmuim yellow (I don't use this much but am liking it on here).

I did this without reference and it started out just as a play to see if I could fill the paper!!! Am still working on the painting I was doing at the same time.... that doesn't seem to be co-operating like this one did.... it's a flamingo and am having difficulty seeing how to finish it... watch his space!!!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Rolo the Labradoodle

Am really kicking myself with this as I think I am a bit pleased with this one and wish I'd done a step by step...... I didn't even think about it when I started and I had decided I was going to do step by steps for everything now!!! Just forgot in my eagerness to get painting as I haven't done anything for a few days now and today was my first opportunity.

This is Gwen Card's gorgeous dog, Rolo, you may remember I have painted him before and he was my first watercolour sale as Gwen loved it and I sent it to her in Canada!!!

Here is the link to the painting

Its interesting to see how my style seems to have changed over the months since I did the first one..... I think I appear to have got a bit more "sophisticated!!! Not sure if that's a good thing or not but I do like how this has turned out... no drawing on this by the way..... less difficult than it might seem, once you have positioned the nose and eyes the rest is easy and to do that, I just measure with my fingers how far apart everything is then just make an odd mark. Painting loose like this means you don't have such defined edges anyway and all I'm trying to do is get a feel for him rather than a photographic image, so I hope Gwen likes and feels I have captured the "essence" of him!!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Surprise Party Celebrations!!!

What a week it's been!!! My hubby was 60 on Saturday and for months now I have been planning a weekend away for the whole family without him knowing and that has been no mean feat!!! I booked B&B accommodation at

Thorngarth Country Guest House

which if you remember from one of my previous blogs is the Guest House run by my son's girlfriends parents Dave and Sally Gregory.

Here is my previous blog

I have told not only many fibs, but also white lies and even the odd proper "big" lie to try and keep the secret and as we are both now retired it has been very difficult......he is around all the time and asking where I'm going and what I'm doing!!!

As we booked B&B, I had made food for 17 of us for the evening which had to be prepared.... more fibs here...... I said I was going to exercise on Friday morning so left the house in my sports gear to finish off the food at my Dad's then had to wet my hair and slap my face to make it red so I looked all hot and sweaty when I came home!!! It then had to be transported to Ingleton, as well as balloons, banners, alcohol (of course) without him knowing with the added difficulty of how was I going to get him there in the first place?  Sally had the brainwave to invite him as a birthday treat for Friday night as there was obviously something going on for his birthday day so he actually cycled there.......nearly 60 miles at his age, I ask you!!!!

Anyway a little background on my 2 sons who are shall we say "fun loving" and mischievous to put it mildly. They are pranksters of the first order so hubby was a little concerned to say the least as to what his birthday treat might be, fretting from how he was going to cope with an aged, wrinkly stripogram to how he was going to conquer his severe fear of heights with the sky dive they had arranged!!!!

So to arrive in a local hostelry where, with the aid of sat nav, mobile phones and more little fibs the whole family had already landed with all the men wearing red wigs and glasses ( my hubby had red hair when he was younger) was not only the best surprise for him but an even bigger relief!!! Very fetching they looked too!!! Goodness knows what the other customers thought but who cares!!

Thank goodness even with a slip of the tongue from my Dad the day before and lots of underhanded quizzing from Birthday boy he had never got anywhere close to guessing the surprise and was quite overwhelmed with what went on..... RESULT!!!!

So big thank you to Dave and Sally who for their treat, hired a mini bus for the day to take us for a tour around the Yorkshire Dales and who also opened their home to our family with open arms. Their Guest House is absolutely spotless, in a wonderful location with the best breakfast and in particular the best bacon you will ever have tasted. I could go on but better that you check out their website

read their Trip advisor reviews and then maybe visit for yourselves.

Thanks also to my two sons who probably against their better judgement and certainly against type, behaved themselves impeccably and acted with restraint and consideration for their "ageing" Dad!!! He was suitably impressed!! Our whole family helped make this happen and I am truly grateful to them all as he is not easy to hoodwink and never ususally misses a thing.........he wasn't nicknamed "Jodrel Bank" at work for nothing..... so am feeling slightly smug at the moment and believe me, he won't live this down for quite a while!!!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Stepping outside my comfort zone......Bluebell Wood

This is way out of my comfort zone and a practice for a future painting I would like to do for a good fried of mine who has always wanted a bluebell wood. I wanted to try and capture the light which I think has been reasonably successful  but I need to look at the trees (aaaaghhhh!!!!), the shadows and I can see now that I can make the composition better...... am looking at the flat line at the back to the right have learned lots for the "real piece" which I will have a go at in the future....

Joanne Boon Thomas suggests practising elements of the painting to work out how to do the individual parts which I didn't do on this but should have!!! So on this, I need to practice getting the right intensity for the shadows to maximise the light........ amongst other things!!!  In the workshop I went to with Joanne,  the previous week had been spent painting the boat and working through any problems the class might have, they looked at the drawing elements for the boat, any painting issues and then foreground which then prepared the for the big painting..... good idea which I will not only start to do but will take to my own workshops too.

I have been working larger recently (I bought some Hahnemuhle paper from Patchings 20"x25") which I am really enjoying, this was only quarter imperial but have a couple of larger ones on the go which are also out of my comfort zone but I have decided I can't carry on doing what I know how to do, I need to challenge myself with subjects I am less confident with..... the only way I will improve!!

So you may see some more howlers from me as I work through my demons, I long to get to the stage where I can have a go at painting anything, and where I have a vision of how I will approach something backed up with the ability to deliver......... one of my biggest problems is still, after all this time, not letting the paint dry when it needs to before I go in again, need someone here slapping my hands!!!! So that is something else I need to work on.... patience!!!