Monday, 23 December 2013

My Teaching Philosophy

I have been running watercolour workshops now for about 18 months and have to say I love every minute especially when I see a light bulb moment when someone realises they have just learned something which can help them significantly with their painting... that is a great feeling.

I teach workshops usually in 2 ways and try to vary the content as much as I can especially with the group I run where I cover different topics each session. I either share ways of doing things for example,  last session we studied Winter trees where I demonstrated different ways of painting them or we might cover things like colour mixing, tone, negative painting, techniques so in essence we are looking at a particular area of painting and the group then get a chance to have a go themselves.  Alternatively I will do a step by step painting where I share the way I might approach something from start to finish and again the group get a chance to have a go stage by stage.

However, though I find the latter sessions are very popular and often get good results I do have reservations about doing them. I used to love (in fact still do) doing step by step sessions run by other artists... especially Joanne but I do recognise that during those sessions I am painting more as that artist and using their interpretation of something... something they have worked out how to do and maybe sweated and toiled over in an effort to get it right and deliverable to a class full of keen, eager students. And I am one of those students, always wanting to improve and learn more....and thankfully there are people in the North West of England art world who like my painting enough to want to come to my workshops and learn a bit about how I paint. So what's wrong with that?

Well during my sessions I obviously try to show people ways of doing things and share as many tips and hints as I can and with a step by step, I am sharing my way of doing  a painting from start to finish but what I always want people to understand is that this is my way but not the only way!! I have often done quite a bit of practice working out how I might go about something, working out how best to deliver, what I'm going to say and how I'm going to explain things. That makes it all sounds a bit prescriptive and I don't think my workshops come across like that but am just trying to explain what goes into a session before I present it to a group. What that means is that I have done a lot of the thinking for them, I have worked out the issues as I see them and I am presenting a finished product for them to share. As I run a regular group I am aware that I don't want them to paint as copies of me, I want them to paint as them and try to incorporate the techniques and skills I share into their own work in their own way.

The next session we do in January will be a step by step and I have already started working on the piece, a lovely Winter scene with some Winter trees, lots of snow and a lovely stone building by the roadside. This first go has helped me understand some of the issues... what to include and what not and has helped me create a suitable palette. However I will be doing at least one, probably 2 more examples with  maybe different (but still wintery) palettes and during the workshop we will talk about colours and what colours may be fitting for a scene like this and then I will encourage them to try and find their own palettes and the more inventive they are the better!!. We will have a chat about how to simplify, a reminder about the trees we did previously, we will talk about counterchange and what opportunities we have to capitalise on that but I will be always trying to impress upon them that this is their painting and there are no rights or wrongs.  What I am hoping to teach them over the next weeks and months are the skills and techniques to start interpreting things for themselves to give them the tools to work independently and maybe give them the motivation to practice a bit more by showing them that it is all achievable if they are prepared to put in the hours!!

Having said all this I am not about to stop doing step by steps... I used to be so delighted with my efforts if they had turned out and they used to give me so much encouragement and make me feel really optimistic about my progress and I do know that some of the students in my workshops have gone on to exhibit some of the work they have done with me and have been absolutely delighted with what they have produced......I totally understand why they feel like that and so I feel paint alongs do have their place as long as I always explain that it is my way and they don't have to do it like that.   I do visit some groups very regularly and they are always really positive and pleased to see me and I hope with the way I teach they are getting more confident in themselves to have a go and not be afraid to try something different from how I am doing it, which might mean they use a different palette, they might choose to do a slightly different composition or even a different image on the same theme... I love to see people progress and hope that in the sessions of 2014 I will see lots more light bulbs and I can continue to share things which will make a difference to people and their painting!!

Wishing you all the very best for Christmas and the New Year....

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Painting for Christmas

I have been to Bruges (more about that in another blog) for a few days so my painting time has again been limited and I have been getting severe withdrawal symptoms!! We didn't have enough time for me to do any painting on our trip especially as we were with family so am hoping to have a go at some of the photos I took and develop my ability to paint buildings etc!!

In the meantime I have been doing an odd commission but have finished all for xmas now and so settled to devote some time to painting this afternoon. We did some xmas cards at my group at our last meeting and next time we are doing "Winter Trees" so I wanted to get a bit of practice done and in between did this poinsettia which someone wanted to do for her xmas card so I already had the reference... should have bought a plant today but completely forgot when I was at Tesco this morning.

I am still going to be busy before xmas but am hoping to get back into my routine of painting several times a week, which I really haven't been managing at all recently. I have quite a few seasonal type images I want to have a go at,  and this is the first

Started with the centre then did some petals washing some away (am always striving to achieve a loose watercolour feel),  adding some of the green gold and UB  and a touch more red in the bg as I went along. It's always quite difficult at this stage as the painting needs to dry thoroughly before you can carry on working it but it is at this stage I also get very impatient to see it start developing, hence the need for other pieces to be working on at the same time. The next stage involves both negative and positive painting working around the piece always trying to be mindful of both overworking and not going back in to any areas which aren't dry... sure-fire way to get mud especially when working with complimentary colours like these. Carried on building up here and there, added a few splashes and drips and think I am nearly there with it..... will need to have a look again in daylight as I think I may need a touch more definition on the petals but on the whole feeling quite happy!!

Colours Used

Green Gold
Winsor Red

Ref photo from Barbara Tester on PMP

Monday, 25 November 2013

My Exhibition and its' visitors

I made my first visit to the exhibition last Saturday... some friends had said they would like to come so  made their way over from Huddersfield early Sat morning for us to get to the centre at just after 11.00am. I was very surprised to see my sister there with her husband John Robinson... I hadn't known they were going to be there so that was a lovely surprise. I then started to have a look around the exhibition when I recognised someone in the corner, Mike and then bumped into his partner Carolyn whom I used to work with... she had seen the e-mail I had sent round to my contact list and decided to come up with her Mum for a look round. I know I had sent the information out to people but hadn't really expected anyone to come so am really grateful to everyone who has made the effort to visit!!

I would also like to thank Dave Hendry and Elise who left some delightful comments in the visitors book which told me they had been, am really grateful to you both!!

I had to unframe a painting for a customer who wanted to buy the painting but not the frame which didn't suit their decor so had just finished that when Sharon Whitley walked in. We had talked about the possibility of them stopping by on their way back from the lakes but even though I was expecting them it was still lovely to think they had actually made the effort to stop by. Sharon and I chatted non stop (well I think it was probably me who chatted non stop while Sharon and Gary patiently sat and listened!) and we set the art world both online and off to rights. Sharon and I have known each other for some considerable time now as she has been a member of a group I run on PMP for loose painting and it has been a pleasure to watch her progress into the special unassuming artist she has become!!

Gary also saved the day..........I realised after John had left, that I had forgotten my camera (what a surprise!!) so I prevailed upon Gary who as ever had his trusty camera in the car to take some pics of the work on display... I also asked him to take one of Sharon and me which I have to say is a fab photo as I am not known for being the most photogenic of beings and was very likely to have spoiled things... here are the photos Gary sent

I am both delighted and impressed by the hanging of the exhibition.... the ladies work there voluntarily and it is usually one particular lady Melanie who does the hanging and I have to say she has done a fabulous job hanging work in a very complimentary and sympathetic way, something which, like framing, can make a big difference to an exhibition. So a big thank you to you Melanie for the hard work you put in!! Will be there again tomorrow replacing some of the cards which have sold.....

I also did a demo at Preston Art Society last Tuesday and have been along to a group called Grove Artists in Burscough today... don't know about them but I had a ball at both!! Am running the session at my own group on Thursday.. we're doing xmas cards, one of may favourite ones to teach, so very busy but in a good way and as always loving every minute!!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

New Opportunity

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Marion Dutton,  an artist in my home town of Bolton who has been working hard to build a business not only for her own work and teaching but to promote other artists whom she invites to run workshops at her very busy Mazart studio.

I do know my lovely friend Joanne Boon Thomas mentioned my name to Marion... Joanne is running some Brusho classes there and dropped my name into conversation as Marion is always on the lookout for new people to run classes....... truly grateful Jo!!

Marion contacted me to run some beginners watercolour classes and we agreed on 2 dates one in March and the other in December. My classes will be specifically designed to give people a taste of watercolour with tips and techniques for them to take away and hopefully be able to practice at home and build up their confidence in using this fantastic medium ( I know......... I never seem to tire of watercolour as I am still only touching the surface of what it can do!!).

My classes and Joanne's will be different to the other very popular classes Marion has running for next year as we won't have a particular painting for the class to produce but both classes will be more about exploring the medium and best ways to use it (especially the Brusho which, with some of Jo's expert guidance, will amaze you!!! Check out some of my other Blog entries about Brusho) ... I know the Brusho classes will get booked immediately and am hoping mine will prove as popular!! My previous beginner classes did get booked up quite quickly, which amazed me, but now gives me confidence to say if you would like to come book early to make sure you get a place!! 

You can go to Marion's website here to book your classes  and you will see what a range of media are offered.  If you would like to have a chat with me about anything please don't hesitate to get in touch. If you have a look at my website you will see I am running classes all over the North West and will be updating the schedule for 2014, including the workshops I am running for Marion, shortly.

What I am so loving about this journey is I never know what is going to happen next... bookings for workshops are coming out of the blue and I am delighted whenever someone gets in touch!! Far from having Monday morning blues syndrome (which I definitely had before) I can't wait for Mondays especially if I have a workshop booked!! I get messages from my website, people are getting in touch to buy paintings and request commissions and I am one of the artists showing work at Galleria where I will be delivering more paintings in the new year... life is very full and I am very grateful for opportunities like this at Marion's studio. The art community is very supportive and I hope one day I can help someone else in their journey as I have been helped in mine!!

To change the subject completely, I delivered my paintings to the exhibition today... 35 framed, 21 mounted and a selection of 10 xmas card designs and 9 greetings cards! I need to heave a sigh of relief as it has been quite a feat getting everything ready and I can't wait to visit next Saturday to see it all hanging together as a body of work!! The cards arrived at about 5.00pm last night and we spent the evening bagging 290 ready for today. Am happy to say people were already looking in the box as we delivered them and my son also took them to a shop in Kirkby Lonsdale.... they loved them but said they were inundated with cards and it was too late to take stock for xmas. But far from being disappointed I was delighted to know they liked them!! He is now going to take them to a few more and will also take some to work... real family business!!!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Exhibition at Garstang Arts Centre

Ok..... not long before I stop droning on about this!! I am still getting things ready and even roped my Dad in for added support yesterday!! He helped by taping up the backs of some newly framed pieces (one of my least favourite jobs so thanks Dad!!) Have got to add screws and string to them, create labels, cellophane wrap a few mounted paintings make some bubble wrap covers, make a lists of all work with titles descriptions etc then need to start cellophane packing the xmas and greetings cards which I am hoping will be here early next week... fingers crossed!!

So not much to do then!!!

The exhibition runs from the 19th November until the 12th December and should any of you like to visit the opening times are

Tuesday   10-12.30 and 2-4
Thursday 10-4
Saturday  10-12.30

Tea/coffee, cakes, scones and biscuits available.

Would also like to say thank you to the organisers who take care of the hanging and man the exhibition for the whole time... greatly appreciated!!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Musical Drama

I have been wanting to paint this photo for a while. I find some photos really inspire me but then I don't always know what to do with them!! And this was very much in that category. It is from a photo taken by Franklin from PMP and I have had it on my to do list for just over a year... here is the original image

As you will know we have been puppy sitting and I haven't had much chance to paint... not that I'm complaining.... puppy cuddles are up there with painting!! But I have been feeling a few withdrawal symptoms and urges (I know unusual in  woman of my age!!!) so today I have had chance to spend some time on this. I did have a false attempt a couple of weeks ago which did point me in the right direction for painting it so those failures are never lost and in this case most definitely learned from.

I did draw this as the perspective is tricky and I knew that if I didn't get it right by rushing in with a shoddy drawing the whole painting would be lost before I had even started so I took a bit of time getting it to look reasonable and then started with the cello wet in wet reserving highlights as I went along. I rarely use masking fluid (the exception being the xmas cards whch I spattered with masking before painting) and occasionally use white gouache to restore any highlights I may have lost.

I then did the hair and when all dry started to build up the bg which in total had 2 and in some places 3 layers. Bit more building up on the cello, the face, hands etc and a final splattering and touch of gouache.

Colours used

Alizarin Crimson
Quin Gold
Raw Sienna
Burnt Siena

I used the indigo to add some of the final darks as UB doesn't always give me the tone I am looking for and I added some quin gold in a bit of a wash as I felt the cello needed lifting a touch.

 I may try this again though I am fairly happy with how it has turned out. I wanted to capture the light but also a sense of movement which I think I have partly succeeded in, but maybe could have managed more, I may play around with the composition of the bg for a future effort maybe trying a more diagonal format, this is where a quick thumbnail would come in.... keep promising myself I will start to do them and then the brushes take over and before I know it have started and have to finish!!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Workshop at "The Wheatsheaf"

This workshop has been in the pipeline since May when we met Tony and Kathryn Marshall, landlord and lady at The Wheatsheaf, Thurcaston, on our holiday at Lopud Island. I had run a little painting session with Kathryn on one of the rainy days and she invited me to do something at their pub.

They do have a lot of different things going on with a host of "special evenings" offering exceptionally good value and quality food and have a "skittle room" where they hold all sorts of different events and where we held the workshop.

The workshop was really enjoyable with mainly beginners and they produced some terrific little studies seeming to get the "gist" of what I was trying to teach them.....I was particularly pleased when a couple of ladies said they had always wanted to try painting and had felt slightly afraid to try... I had made them realise it is all about playing with the paint and enjoying the process rather than needing to produce a masterpiece every time...

They also asked me about running a two day course which having had a chat with Kathryn, I will be doing..... I will share more details on here when we finalise a date but we are looking to possibly late Feb or early March. If you are interested please let me know as there will be a few people from the workshop  who I think will book and numbers would be limited to 12.

We carried on our journey after the workshop to visit my sister in law near Milton Keynes where we have had a lovely relaxing weekend and returned yesterday to be entertained with a super meal at my son's! All in all a great short break!! Did some clothes shopping in Buckingham too.....

I would also like to say a huge thank you to Kathryn for lunch, for providing the venue and for the refreshments which were available thoughout the afternoon.....

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Opening an Exhibition!!

A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from Dave Hendry (he of Westhoughton Art Group fame) asking would I like to open their annual exhibition? What an honour that was... he had asked the group what they thought about the suggestion of me doing it and they apparently agreed!!! Both my sons greeted the news with superior amusement and also as if I had grown two heads as if to say "aw bless her she does try!!!"

Anyway I didn't really have to think about it, apart from enjoying being with them all as they are a very warm and friendly crowd... I have a lot to thank Dave for in these early stages of my arty life!! I did my first workshop at the group and seem to have been a fixture ever since and also know he has passed my name to other groups recommending they book me to run sessions for them as well.

So I did write a little speech at home, I haven't ever given a speech before but I thought it would be similar to speaking at the demos and workshops I do, which it was and as I do at those I decided to speak naturally without referring to any notes ..... I did take my specs off as I didn't want to see any grimacing expressions so as far as I'm concerned it went really well and they were all smiling happy faces!!!

I had decided that I would mention the quality of the art work and offer some words of encouragement whatever the standard.  I don't always see the finished pieces when I go to the group and of course don't know what they do in other media of which there are a lot so didn't really know what to expect. Anyway I was able to say in absolute honesty that the work was of a really high standard and I was quite blown away by it... there were some truly lovely pieces and I was very impressed by the variety of media they use as I only get to see the watercolour they do.

I have to say a big thank you to everyone for the lovely flowers Dave presented me with.. I was very taken aback as I certainly wasn't expecting anything and it was my pleasure to be at their lovely event!!

On a final note I understand what it takes to put together in exhibition of this sort and every credit should go to Dave Hendry who works very hard behind the scenes for WAG.... the group has had a waiting list recently... Dave's solution, he has started another session!! So they now hold 2 meetings every Monday, am and pm in the same venue and it looks like both sessions will be equally well attended... already looking good for next year's exhibition!!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

2013 Xmas Cards

I think these are my final cards. I have done another 3 today as I wasn't altogether satisfied with the ones I had done previously and decided to stick with my animal theme.

Photo by Paul Sherman
 Photo by John Robinson
 Photo by Chrissy M
 Photo by Steve Gibbs
Photo by Caroline Yealey

Monday, 14 October 2013

Demonstration by Katie Hampson

I was invited to Westhoughton Art Group today first to do a workshop for the second group they have formed in the afternoons due to popular demand and second to attend a demonstration by young Lancashire artist Katie Hampson.

Katie introduced herself with a string of accolades most of us only dream of, exhibiting on several occasions at the Mall galleries and winning The Artist' Editors award in 2012. She has work in many countries and at the ripe old age of 20 has an amazing career ahead of her!!

She started her demonstration of a Bavarian cow working on mountboard with a freehand pencil drawing (no reference image) and then water soluble felt tip pen which she bled into the painting. She started to build up the piece with blues and purples allowing and encouraging the paint to drip. 

She works instinctively adding more and more colour moving effortlessly around the painting and also adding white gouache as she progressed. She then moved on to using some watercolour inks which give her a slightly more vibrant depth of colour, followed by Copic Ciao marker pens and Posca White markers.

The final stages were added using normal coloured pencils adding more and more texture and building up depth of colour so a full mixed media piece at it's completion

This is the finished piece which to be fair doesn't do it justice as we can't see the multi-layered effect Katie achieves with these pieces. She uses many colours and though the piece was quite subtle it was full of life, interest and depth.

This whole painting took about and hour and a half and after a morning coffee break Katie asked for suggestions for a second piece which was slightly more caricaturist and which I painted along with. It was a dog which again she drew freehand, Katie has studied anatomy and for birthdays and xmas presents has had skulls and deer's legs!!! As a result her drawing skills are based on very solid anatomical knowledge and she is very able to draw from her imagination as she understands the form and how the skulls and bones form the features of the particular animal she is drawing.. I messed up the initial drawing so was fighting it the whole way through but I did enjoy the process of applying the paint as it suits my style. I'm not sure about painting on mount board as I do love the way watercolour behaves on paper and feel the mountboard would behave more like a smooth paper which I am not fond of!!

Katie brought some of her sketch books which imho were wonderful and almost stole the show for me!!

She had such a mature way of painting which doesn't fit her tender years. She paints quickly and instinctively and though she remains silent during the process is quite happy to answer questions as she goes along. When you paint as she does, I'm sure it is quite difficult to verbalise exactly why you are doing what you are doing, she moves around the whole piece, never lingering in any one area adding, what you may think are at times, indiscriminate and sometimes indistinct marks but bringing the whole piece together in a fascinating way.

On this subject of dialogue during a demo I can empathise with Katie... (not that I am trying to compare in any way what I do with what she does) but it made me think about a few paintings I have done which I would find very hard to demonstrate or deliver in a workshop, they are those which sort of evolve and I have as little idea as anyone about why I am putting the strokes where I am!! Other paintings are more formulaic and can be explained more easily, they maybe demonstrate certain skills and techniques which show how different effects can be obtained, how colours can be mixed, why I'm using the colours I have chosen and why I am making decisions around the piece and I find it helps both me and the people attending to verbalise my thoughts.Whether I will find a means to talk my way around these other pieces time will tell!!!  What I do find however, is by deliberating about the dialogue I will use during a workshop (I often practice out loud while I am practising a painting), it helps me to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing, forcing me to understand the reasons behind my methods and therefore actually reinforces my own learning... I knew there was a jolly good reason why I love doing these workshops!!

After lunch I did the workshop for the new group of people who have joined Westhoughton Art Group for the afternoon session and a great time was had by all, me included!! I have also been asked to open the annual group exhibition so need to get a little speech ready for that which will do the members proud and get their exhibition off to a flying start!! No pressure then.......

BTW if you are still here, do take a look at Katie's website

And this is the link to Westhoughton Art Group where over the next few days am sure Dave will update the blog about Katie's visit.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Back to Painting

Not on puppy duty this weekend so first chance to get some painting done... yeh!!!! I need to get my xmas cards printed along with some greetings cards as I am doing a solo exhibition at Garstang Arts Centre in November and I want to have a good price range of paintings to offer so cards are ideal for anyone who may like what I do but can't afford to buy a painting (I have to say my unframed, mounted paintings are very reasonably priced, as in fact is all my work but obviously framed pieces are more expensive).

So have had the afternoon painting and have been working on 6 different paintings at one go, doing little bits here and there as I am waiting for them to dry. We are doing a still life of pears in the loose group on
Paint my Photo using a photo taken by Clare and when I started to think about it I realised it might be suitable as an xmas card

 I also did this other image of pears which Lorna had tried......... a complicated reference with a very busy bg which I decided to simplify. This was done by first painting the pears but losing edges here and there then building up the whole thing with both negative and positive painting. This isn't a finished painting it was just something I fancied having a go at to see how it might work.

Finally I finished another xmas card.  The other 3 are still drying and I will finish them next week sometime. I have painted this image before but went in much darker with the bg this time as my xmas cards have a sort of theme with darks bgs and I want them to look like a collection. Image from a reference by Chrissy M

 So now I have to start making decisions ... which images to use for both xmas and greetings cards and then which paintings I need to have framed for the exhibition... thankfully I do have quite a few already done..... think I might need to do another 10 and maybe swap some around as well. I think I will be taking about 35, some just mounted, then some cards. Am getting worn out just thinking about it!!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Meet Archie!!!

Well my blog has been quiet for the last few days and have almost kissed goodbye to the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge, you see we have been kept rather busy with a new addition to the family!!

Here is Archie, Mark (my son) and Steph's new puppy, a field spaniel/show cocker cross!! We are standing in for his other day care at the moment and it is a sheer pleasure to have him!!

How cute is he!! I tagged along when they went to choose him and nearly came home with one myself as well!! So he arrived at their house, just 10 weeks old, last Friday and we have been puppy sitting during the day since Monday. He is so cuddly and smart... not that we're biased of course!!

He is almost house trained already and has been getting really confident and cheeky today!! He has been such a brave little boy, exploring all by himself taking a look around the house, and even trying out the wooden floor he has been reluctant to step on until now.  He knows his name and seems to already be displaying his innate tendencies to sniff and retrieve, taking all his toys back to his crate and playing with them there. He is very curious but so loving and affectionate and we are having a lot of fun with him at the moment!!

Suffice to say I have not done a scrap of painting as even when he sleeps he likes to be nursed and neither of us have the heart to say no!! He seems to be getting to know us especially hubbie who has spent the most time with him but goes mental when Steph arrives to pick him up.

His favourite position!!

So happy in his crate with his toys... seems to know it's his little house!!

Wondering what mischief to get up to next!!

Spends most of his time like this with his nose to the ground!!

So not sure just when I will get back to doing some painting, I don't normally paint at night but think that might have to start happening, need to get my daylight lamp out and change my habits as there is a sweet little puppy who needs attention in the day..... wonder if this is how it feels to have grandchildren???

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Day 19 Monochrome Paintings

I have been to my group today for the start of our new season... was lovely to see lots of familiar faces there and lots of new ones as well!!

We were looking at tone and monchrome paintings and I do think the penny dropped with them as we started to add some of the really dark, was amazing how it started to transform their paintings!!

Here are a few of the skethces I have done to prepare for the session

of our new season... was lovely to see lots of familiar faces there and lots of new ones as well!!

We were looking at tone and monchrome paintings and I do think the penny dropped with them as we started to add some of the really dark, was amazing how it started to transform their paintings!!

Painting a day

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Day 18

This is day 18.... I have a few dark coloured birds to paint and this is another 6x4 for Running with Brushes of a Blackbird, photo by Rob on PMP.

I think he looks a bit fat or maybe he's just a bit fluffed up!! I was running out of paper at the bottom so must have squeezed him in!!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Day 17

My blog today adds day 17 to  Leslie's challenge... I have done one or two more 6x4's and a couple more monochrome paintings today so keeping up nicely now...

I painted this one a while ago inspired by another of Gary Jones' fab photos... the link will take you to a combined website of both his photos and Sharon Whitley's wonderful paintings. I loved the serenity of this and was really pleased with my full colour version which you will see here, where you will also see a painting of a Rhino done at the same time.

My group at Heaton, Bolton starts up again on Thursday and so I am beavering away getting the lesson prepared... we are doing monchrome paintings to look at tonal value. I find as I visit various groups people have a fear of using rich dark tones... well not in my group!!! We will be looking at how we don't need colour to create a painting, it isn't colour which makes a painting sing, it is shape and tone which defines things for us and colour when used well is the icing on the cake!! We will also be looking at counterchange and how to use tone to create a focal point or area of interest by creating an area of greatest tonal contrast, and anything else I think about along the way!!

So I have painted the swans in burnt umber... just a quick sketch but shows how colour is not as important as tone and looking at this here I can see it could stand some darker areas on the necks but will leave alone for now.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Trials of Painting Commissions and day 16

This piece is a commission which I have struggled with and have actually done 4 times!!

This was the reference

The lady who commissioned this has bought paintings from me before, in fact is my best customer so I really wanted to make sure it was right for her. She wanted this for her friend in Canada who has just lost the cat but I know that she likes my more colourful work and try as I might I was stuck in the palette I used for this. The more I paint the more I "see" what colours I might choose for a painting particularly of an animal and this was no exception but I wasn't sure it was what she might want as well!!!

Anyway my plan was to do a couple of trial paintings for her to have a look at and test the water

Here was the first... no drawing just a very quick sketch

The colours were

Transparent orange
Burnt sienna
May green and a touch of Green Gold and Turq for the eyes

I decided I wanted a bit more drama and needed some more darks so I decided to use some Violet as well and I also zoomed in a bit to concentrate more on the eyes... so again more of a sketch but another practice to try out the colours

I thought I was getting nearer with this one and decided to have a go at a "proper" one so did another smaller version but this time paid a bit more attention and reined my wayward brush in a bit!!

Forgotten the whiskers on this one!!

So these were the three I sent to view and it was the larger version the client liked (she really liked the eyes) so I then set to work on the final piece. I so wanted to get this right for her but was very unsure as to whether I was going in the right direction... I know she likes something more whimsical than this but the photo literally told me the colours I needed to use and I couldn't get away from the idea... the image was quite "in your face" and he seems to have such a dominant personality with those piercing green eyes that in the end I couldn't paint it any other way.

Here is the finished piece

I feel I have captured the "essence" of him and am really quite pleased with this though was on pins before the final viewing!! Doing watercolour commissions is probably the most difficult area for me.... painting like I do is not easy if I am trying to capture a likeness, as each stroke can potentially take me further away from what I am trying to achieve. At the same time I have to stay true to the style I am developing (I actually don't know how to paint any other way!!), and so it is a balance between producing something which will be acceptable for someone whose beloved pet I am trying to capture and the way I seem to haphazardly apply the paint to the paper, am often amazed myself that I get there in the end when I start, sometimes I have to look at something over a few days to understand what, if anything else it needs and that is an area that I know I need to improve upon but I am thrilled that I am seeing more all the time!!

Doing commissions means an added dimension to our work.... I normally paint what I like to paint with very few restrictions... when I say that I might decide to do a series of paintings around a subject , so I may concentrate on animals or flowers etc but always a broad enough subject to give me plenty of choice before I start.... with a commission you obviously paint what you are given with the added pressure of not only having to please yourself but someone else too, while achieving a likeness which will also be acceptable.. so why do them? Well, I have really enjoyed this, it has been a challenge to say the least but I have risen to that, I have enjoyed thinking about it, how to go about it, so although I have constantly fretted about whether it will turn out or not, the bonus is I am rather pleased by the outcome.

So... did she like?  Well am delighted to report, she loved it, especially the eyes which to me is what the painting was all about. I do think that if you get the eyes looking good, in the right position compared to the shape of the head and nose area, with the right shape and highlights you are a very good part of the way there, in fact I think the eyes and nose define the whole painting, so although a lot of prep and hard work went into this one, it was all worth it to know that she is so pleased with this final piece. She will be taking it to Canada for her friend this xmas so the next nail biter will be does the owner of the cat like!!!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Painting a day 15

Well am actually ahead but need to work on a few larger pieces as well, I have done some smaller paintings which I will be sending to Vandy Massy's Running with Brushes charity... quite a few artists have got involved now so there is a lovely selection of work to view there on the site.....

Here is my next painting, I have painted this once before for my xmas cards last year and is one of Gary Jone's wonderful photos

I decided to keep it simple with this one just letting the colours mix and blend in the first washes then going in with some deep colour for the final stage so very economical with the brushstrokes on this.

Painting a day 15

Painting a day 14

Well have caught up a bit by doing some small postcard paintings over the weekend. have done one for our challenge in the loose group and am  hoping it has given me the way forward for a larger piece... there are lots of trees in it and trees and I are not the best of friends when it comes to painting!! Photo from John Robinson

 Painting a day blog

Friday, 13 September 2013

Day 10,11,12 and 13.... Phew!!!

Well am hoping these count as some are what I have started and have been finishing off!!

I've come to realise that a painting a day isn't always possible for me......although I am a fast painter, I do have my disasters and I also have quite a few on the go at the same time so I have had a one or two which  I have been finishing off today. I know lots of people say they need to be in "the Zone" for a particular painting but I find I can flit about from one to another, completely different subjects and the break away often helps me to see what needs doing next, but I also often leave them overnight or for a day or two if I'm not sure where to go with them, which is why I have a few to show today but nothing much earlier i the week.  Anyway here are a few I have been working on.
Here is a little Brusho painting which I did while waiting for another to dry, again with Brusho I often leave them to see what needs doing but am thinking I will leave this one alone and try a mount on it.

This is one I have had on the go for a while, I've added a few more touches today but am still not sure it is finished, I've tried a bit of creative cropping on it so I think I will live with a bit longer untilI decide if it is worth saving or only fit for the bin!!
Another little floral which was done to get my painting a day completed, might add a few more darks to this yet.
Finally something I have been working on for a while... this was one of my practice pieces for a commission........... playing with the colour and trying to get a feel for the cat so this isn't actually the finished piece (which I have completed today so although I can't show it here, I have done it honest!!!) but gives you a flavour of the sort of thing I have been aiming for.

Painting a day Challenge

Monday, 9 September 2013

Day 9

I have chosen landscapes for the September images in the Loose group and decided to do this one as a tonal study as that is what we will be doing in the first lesson back with my group next week.....

As many of you know I love colour in my work but I also recognise that without good tonal value the painting simply wouldn't work and as you saw in my last post, I often paint from B&W images so that I can work on colour and tone. I will be taking a selection of images for the group to work on and we will be doing a monochrome study so that I can hopefully get the idea across of not being afraid of using really dark colour in a painting and how small touches of darks can really bring a painting to life.

Have also done this 6x4 so that it can be sent to the Running with Brushes charity and of course it is day 9 for the  30 day Painting Challenge..... so many uses for such a little painting!!

Taken from an image by John Robinson

Day 8 "On the Lookout"

Taken from a photo by Janepi on PMP I converted this into a black and white image... I often paint from black and white... 2 reasons, I can obviously see the tonal variation better from black and white but the main reason is I want to use my imagination for the colour. I started using black and white a few years ago when our tutor would bring images for us to paint. I didn't want to simply "copy" what he brought especially if they were images of paintings so if he had any black and white that was what I would choose so that at least I could inject a little bit of individuality into what I did. I was trying to study colour and I learned a lot about how to put a successful colour palette together. It was more challenging for me instead of using the palette worked out by someone else.

For anyone who is interested I wrote a blog sometime ago about copying from other artists work here

Anyway here is day 8 of the challenge... a quick sketch

Link to 30 day blog

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Day 7 of 30 day challenge

Didn't get chance to paint but had one in reserve... another mas card.  I had two squirrels I wanted to paint this second one is from a photo by John Robinson and is my second attempt. As you can see there is a pattern to these paintings as I want them to gel together as a collection. I choose a palette I like which I think will not only compliment the subject but at the same time be an attractive colour combination and portray a festive feeling.... I think this may be a bit busy looking as I have gone overboard with the snow!! But once I have a few I will choose the best and get them printed... he also looks rather well fed!!

30 day challenge

Friday, 6 September 2013

Day 6 The Camel!!

Now I'm not sure if I like this one... it was a bit of an experiment as I thought camels... three kings etc might be rather xmassy!!!  I think I could have used a bit more quin gold to give it more of a feeling of glitz and gold to help with the Christmas feel and I also think I could have done a star top right which again would give it the right will think about it and see if I get inspired!! Could still put the star in with some gouache or acrylic. I did want it to look quite comical which I am hoping I did achieve!!

In the meantime this is day 6 for the challenge and I have actually finished a couple more today as I am in for a busy weekend... phew!!

Photo by Gary Jones

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Xmas Cards and day 5 of the 30 day challenge

Have started planning my 2014 cards and finished this little number yesterday... have got several more on the go so hope they all turn out. This will be also be day 5 of the challenge!!

Taken from a photo on PMP by Paul Sherman.

I have probably 7 unfinished paintings at the moment so sure hope I get some finished tomorrow as I have a busy weekend ahead and may not get chance to do much painting until Monday... fingers crossed!!

30 Day Challenge