Saturday, 30 March 2013

Do Blogs Have Birthdays... Mine does!!!

It is exactly one year ago today since I started my bog!! For those who have followed regularly you will have some idea of what has been going on but I did want to mark the birthday of my blog with a bit of an update from my first ever post.

A few stats to start with:-

Just over 25000 page views, can you believe that??? Am amazed as I don't have that many followers
88 at the last count!!
90 posts... a whole selection mainly of my ramblings on art with a few other gems thrown in!
800+ unique visits this month (not at the end yet which is why there is a plus sign!!), again with the number of followers am thrilled with that!!

For any tecchies out there I do have Google Analytics attached to my blog....not much idea what to use the info for, but it does show me a rising trend in the visits to my blog, it shows that people move from one page to another and also that I do get visits from a variety of sources and many many countries with quite a high proportion of new visitors each day.

I started the blog for a few reasons, such a lot was happening I thought it was a good idea to start recording my thoughts and  progress, I thought it would be a good way to show my work altogether and would provide a platform to share a few tips and hints about how I go about things with an odd step by step thrown in along the way (for those of you who have asked me to do videos, please be patient I haven't forgotten, just need to get something set up) many of you will know I have started tutoring and have found a passion there which almost rivals my love of painting so I love sharing on here and love it when people ask me questions about colours, techniques in fact anything at all and am especially pleased when people say they like coming to my blog as they learn something... that is the real icing on the cake for me!!

Firsts this year:-


I have done 4 and sold 5 paintings from them  plus another two from someone who had seen my portfolio and one from a workshop, I have no idea if that is good or not, but I am really happy with that!! I may do 2 exhibitions over this summer and have a biggie in November which I am really excited about. I have also sold another 4 paintings from the start of 2013 and as was pointed out to me that is one a month so I hope I can continue with that!! All my work on here is for sale by the way, some framed some not (though I can easily unframe if I need to post anywhere and obviously drop the price!!) and I was interested to read on another blog how the artist is always prepared to consider a reasonable offer... his work was not too expensive anyway (as mine isn't!!) and I am happy to do the same!!!Please e-mail me if you are interested in anything.


I have visited 7 different Art Groups and so far all have asked me back with firm bookings from 4 with tentative dates from 2 more so am delighted with how that is going... I have just two more sessions to run for one group out of a block of 6 they booked me for last Autumn... they have a big choice of tutors they could have asked but was thrilled they chose me as I love going there and they have made me so welcome as I have to say, have all the groups!!

Have just checked up and I have run 29 sessions since the Summer...10 of those in January!!!

My own group runs every other Thursday from Autumn to  Easter and they have asked me to continue for an extra 2 sessions and start a little earlier in September which I have been happy to do. We have been covering lots of topics and I can actually see the progress they are making.

Greetings Cards

Have done well with these and need to get some more printed as I have very few left.... all sold by word of mouth as I didn't have them for any of the exhibitions but I do need to get some for the future ones I have planned.

Step by Steps

I have now done 3, all posted on here... all flowers, have only just realised that so need to do one or two other topics now.


What a product... I love it and under the careful, inspiring, guidance from Joanne Boon Thomas I have had a huge amount of fun and done a few not bad paintings as well... Brusho is a whole new world which I am so glad to have had the opportunity to experience!! Joanne is running a holiday at Bandouille in France in the Summer.

I have tried to stretch myself this year and have attended workshops with Jean Haines and Joanne Boon Thomas. I have tried tackling new subjects, techniques and generally throwing myself at the mercy of these pesky watercolours and thought I might just show you a few of may favs for this year

This one just happened!! No drawing, no sketches no planets just straight in with the paint and instinctively with the colours... was and still am, very pleased with this!!

My first attempt at going big.... 25"x20" and my first ever step by step... if you check on the side of my blog this is actually the second most popular post I have ever done and I was delighted with this as I really thought I was losing it half way through!!

This was another which just appeared (don't you just love it when that happens), I haven't framed this yet but think I will for the next exhibition, it is  from a photo taken by my brother in law as we walked along the banks of the River Lune and is called Hidden. It is one of a handful of buildings I have done... I am working on them as I love streetscapes and would love to be a bit more adept at doing them!!

This does have to be one of my all time favourites, and was short listed for the Ken Bromley cover competition.... I was working on a series of Sea Holly and this one I did do some prelim sketches to work out a new composition different to the ones I already had in my reference photos so am proud of this for a number of reasons... mainly because it is my own composition with a bit of originality!!

This was the first ever full painting I demonstrated at a workshop... did two or three practices before and am delighted to say I have done this at 4 groups with really good results everywhere!!

Brusho..... done at one of Joanne's workshops, I did a block of three sessions in October having had a taster in May.... it is fabulous and I love it!!!

What  can I say... I love this one.....maybe the dogs all paint themselves as this was another one which just appeared!! My friend's dog Holly, such a cutie, I loved painting her, and think I captured the essence of her!!

This was the first pencil portrait I have done in more than 15 years and I was so pleased with it as it really captured the dog and wouldn't have worked half as well with my usual charcoal... his fur was too short and smooth. This did take me longer than a charcoal drawing but  I think was worth it for the final result.

I have only just painted this and believe it is special as it represents a shift in my thinking... it tells me that I can work things out and I can actually get close to what is in my head... something we watercolourists don't often achieve and get very frustrated about... it is also something I have worked on and rescued from the brink and encourages me to check out some of my most recent work which has been "binned" (only metaphorically as I keep everything!!!) to see if they are in fact just unfinished. Jean Haines taught me a lot about that and I do now work on pieces for much longer but when doing new subjects or trying something new, I sometimes get to a point when I don't know where to go as with this piece. With nothing to lose I tried a few things and thankfully they worked and I got a lot of satisfaction from completing this one

Reading this back makes me realise that in fact a lot has happened in the last 12 months, with so many firsts for me and I am so grateful and understand how lucky I am to have been able to retire so early to allow me to pursue this lovely career.... I can never see it as a job and even though I am able to spend a lot of time painting and have to prepare for workshops it is never a chore, I love every minute and cannot believe that I am able to do this!! I know it is a cliche but the saying "I don't know how I ever found time to work" couldn't be more true for me!!!

I really would like to take this opportunity to thank you one and all who visit my blog and take the time to read my ramblings...and if you are still here at the end of this marathon, then well done to you and I hope to keep you all engaged in the next 12 months!!!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Little Nude Therapy!!

I have done a few nudes recently as I have run two workshops where we used the same image Joanne had brought to her final Brusho workshop, she brought a selection of images and as I have done this one now a few times and both groups wanted a go at it when they saw my version, this is the one we did.

Just 3 colours used for this, ub, translucent orange and burnt sienna. The groups needed to do a bit of drawing first so we ran through a few pointers for where to place things, head size, where to put the feet, how the angle of her side means her waist is under her head etc etc. The image shows hands but am not keen on drawing those so left them out!!! And then I did a bit of painting to show them how I approached it... quite a lot of dry brush, fairly strong paint to start with,  then some edges softened, some kept harder. Everyone had a really good go and a lot of the students did the best I have seen from them in the whole time I have been tutoring... so we were all really pleased!!!

While on the subject of nudes I've had another image I have been wanting to do for a while, but not been sure how to tackle it... I really love nudes, painted, charcoal, pencil... doesn't matter what medium but wanted to try this one in watercolour....I wanted to create an atmospheric piece with a lot of light but wasn't sure quite how to do it, so started yesterday and was really close to abandoning but today decided to have a go at finishing it off and am quite pleased with the result...leaving it overnight gave me a renewed enthusiasm for it and allowed me to see it through new eyes, it wasn't good but the break away from it helped me see where I needed to adjust it. This one has taught me a huge amount..... I am delighted to have finished it and got what I think,  if not a masterpiece, is an acceptable painting which has achieved what I set out to do!!!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of a new Palette!!

Though we weren't exactly snowed in yesterday, we decided it wasn't good to go out in the slippy weather with two crutches in tow so we had a lovely day hibernating!!

Apart from the obligatory soup and casserole making I decided it was a day of art, a day for finishing off and playing with new toys!!

I bought a new palette from Ken Bromley on Thursday and as many of you will know from previous posts I am not the most decisive person in the world and as the three radial palettes I currently use have 36 colours (I know, I know..... what on earth am I doing with so many colours, back to that later) and this palette only has 21 wells, have had to have a serious cull of colour... it was a sad day!!!

I love my radial palettes, the wells are so big when I add water to them I can get quite a dilute wash within the wells and as you know I do the rest of my mixing on the paper so rarely have to use the central area

When I first got them I was doing a workshop on mixing greens so chose a selection of yellows and blues and filled one palette with those.... I then added the other more popular colours I use in the second palette and the final one I filled with my less used colours and any new ones I have bought since.

The Palettes stack and although they don't have a lid (should contact the manufacturers about that as it would improve the design if they did) they really suit me and I get on well with them!!

So what have I bought another palette for? Well although these stack and I like using them they are rather large and a bit cumbersome for me to cart about to all the groups I go to.... as I mentioned, a lid would help as I could stand them up and any wet paint wouldn't run all over the place but as they are I have to have a bag wide enough to fit them in laid flat.

I saw this new palette advertised at Ken Bromley's and happened to be speaking to Gill Fox who had just bought one and was very happy with it. The wells are quite large and when I saw it thought it would be much easier to carry about. As I do workshops both at my own group and others and I also go to Bolton Art Circle I thought I would try it out... phew!!!

Here you can see it all white and virgin like... it has 21 wells and because the minimum colours I wanted were 22 I have had to use one of the 6 little trays for one more colour (think they might be pouring trays). For those who use mixing areas there are 2 large trays and the whole thing is very versatile.

Here it is with the lid on... already splashed some paint on it.... am just so messy!!!

The number of colours I possess have been accrued over many years and am a sucker for buying anything anyone says is a nice colour!!! So my basic palette I think would be

UB, cob, indigo, prussian, cerulean, windsor violet, helio turquoise,  raw sienna, burnt sienna, cad yellow, lemon yellow, translucent yellow, translucent orange, quin gold, aliz crimson, permanent rose, opera rose, green gold, May green.

My other colours include quin magenta, rose carthame, pthalo blue,  aureolin, sepia, brown madder, raw umber,cad yellow light,  permanent magenta, permanent mauve, perylene maroon, perylene violet.

I also have a few other blues and yellows which seem to be very close to the ones listed and one or two reds and oranges so in total a lot of colours. Having said that I rarely use more than 5 in any one painting but I do intend to start experimenting with some of the colours I don't use as often....... what seem to happen is we have a comfort zone of colours, we know what we like and what works for us, what to expect of those familiar friends and for me at least, I forget to try the different ones.. but no more!! I have already started on them, using them to create my colour planets and trying to get some different combinations... the painting of the rook used perylene maroon which I haven't use a lot of but felt I wanted to get to know it!! So that was my start!!

That was my lazy Friday then... it probably took me close on 2 hours to sort out my new palette..... deliberating, considering, wondering, deciding...... make no mistake these were big decisions to make in Judith's world and couldn't be taken lightly!!!  My husband thinks I was painting, he would think I was mental taking so much time to sort out a new palette, but we know some things just cannot be rushed and that was one of them!!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Working on Skin Tones

I have had several false stars when it comes to portraits but always knew I would come back to them when skill levels allowed and decided to have another go this week. ~I wanted to do some African/Afro Caribbean skins so I could  play with the colour and put my stamp on them. The first was a little girl whose face and expression I just loved, both paintings are taken from a photos by Li Newton on PMP.

I used raw sienna, permanent rose, UB and burnt sienna for this one has her skin tone was quite honey coloured so I didn't want such a dark appearance.

Much darker skin tones on this, I used alizarin crimson, sepia, indigo, burnt sienna and raw sienna.  I feel I might have overworked this it has maybe lost some "freshness" so I may try it again. I think I went in too dark too early, going in gently to start with would have allowed me to leave some lighter, brighter areas, and given me a greater variety of tone within her face... you live and learn!!!

I will work some more on these as I enjoy portraits and think they have potential... not sure how saleable they are but if I worried about that am not sure I would paint anything!! I do know some artists tend to paint for sales and maybe when sales start to increase I will have decisions to make... I have actually sold both paintings I had of Venice so should I paint another??? I may do, as Venice is the topic we are doing at my group next time so I may have a suitable paiting to mount and frame when I have demonstrated next time.. decisions, decisions!!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

What to Paint???

I don't really have a problem with what to paint and get spoiled for choice, so my indecision kicks in and from the very long list of possibles, I have to decide which to do next, so I umm and ahh about what to do (can sometimes take nearly as long as I do to paint it!!!) and yesterday decided on a portrait and a rook. I will be doing the portrait again as I didn't get the drawing quite right though I am pleased with the painting part ( that is an interesting development as historically it is the painting bit which has let me down!) but I am pleased with the rook. Taken from a photo by Steve Lyddon on PMP

I wanted to get some really deep values so used Indigo, Perylene Maroon, burnt Sienna and Quin Gold... lovely colours letting me get some really rich tones. Perylene Maroon is a beautiful colour, it is a really good rich warm red and is one of those colours that is just "right"... don't know why but I only knew I needed it once I got it!! And if that sounds a touch crazy.... welcome to my world!!

So now I am thinking of doing a series of bird paintings to get a bit of a collection together to maybe sell as a series..... rooks like this, blackbirds and any others which have the rich dark tones I love.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Practice makes Perfect?

Well not exactly perfect, but always working towards it!!

Have had a little time this afternoon and decide to have a go at the foxgloves again... still a study piece just trying to work things out and think I am happier with this as this is more the sort of thing I had imagined. Only small... I was only intending to do some practices, so wasn't planning a full painting but this has shown me some ideas for a larger painting which I may get around to sometime!! Started off with a wash and built the flowers up once it had dried

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sharon Whitley's Challenge

Some of you may know I run the loose group on Paint my Photo and each month I choose an image from the many wonderful photos on the site for members of the group to have a go at painting in a loose style. It is sometimes quite difficult to choose images which I think everyone will like and I have to work on the principle that you can't please all of the people all of the time and there will be some months where people are uninspired or alternatively where the image pushes people to try something out of their comfort zone.

And so it was with Sharon's image this month, although I have been working with flowers recently I haven't tried a foxglove for a few years and wasn't sure how to approach it... I decided to start using my sketch book again (where I did actually do a drawing) mainly to try and get a feel for how to paint the flower heads and what colours to use, so this is my sketch book effort

Paper wasn't quite dry but this is quite close to the composition on the image and I do like the light and colours.

The main painting I did on the back of a practice tree so if I ever sold it might have to do as a seconds!! I decided to do the bg first hoping to get a looser feel so went in with the greens (green gold and a touch of May green) splashing some Opera rose around and allowing it to blend. Once dry I formed some flower heads where I could see the wash was "inviting" them, trying to keep some form of the flower in an upright stance, so no predrawing, just formed the flowers with the paint and brush

I can see from them on here the second looks a lot more delicate and could maybe stand a bit more work in the bg but will leave for a day or two and maybe it will tell me what I should do. The colours are more "fluorescent" looking as opera rose is a very bright pink colour and on the painting shows as more pink than on this image. I also used Quin magenta and permanent rose to darken areas and to calm it down a bit but it is still quite vibrant in real life. If I try this again I will be more adventurous with the colours as these are quite true to the photo and less bound by the composition... I have used a touch of turquoise in the greens to darken them a bit but think I would also like a bit more contrast. But as with my previous posts on Daffs and Pinks I will use this as a starting point for working out how to give the impression of foxgloves with less information... more practice needed on that score but this is a start!!!

If I could already do all this I would have nothing to strive for and as readers of my blog will know it is the desire to improve which keeps me going... as I do improve all that happens is there is an imaginary shift in my head where the goal posts move and I am still striving!!!

One final tip... I did the drawing in my sketch book to learn the shapes and how to depict them.... this is good practice so that you can paint them more spontaneously as you become more confident in the shapes and proportions, so do lots of studies and get to know your subject so that one big element ie the drawing, is less of an issue and you can concentrate on the painting!! You know it makes sense!!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Advantages of Having an Invalid!!

As most of you will know my husband had a hip replacement two weeks ago and people have been so kind bringing him all sorts of goodies from DVD's to books, biscuits to jigsaws, shower gel, a plant and a beautiful bunch of daffodils. Apparently they are expensive this year as there is a shortage and of course here in the bleak Northwest they are barely raising their heads so I am taking on board Jean Haines advice from her recent blog and doing lots of paintings of daffodils playing around with the composition each time so that I get to know them well and can then use my imagination....

I worked on these today in between the streetscapes... yes I know I am a fast painter but just kept adding a few blobs (technical painting term there!!) as I waited for the others to dry

These are the lovely flowers

The first is looser and I prefer, the second looks a bit contrived but did that to try and get a feel for the shapes and how the flowers are formed. I am finding that once I learn the shape and form of the flower I can then go on to lose the edges and detail just adding it at various points to give the impression of the flower. So, will be doing more daffs in the next few days, nursing duties allowing of course, and then will be doing a few more primroses as my lovely sister in law brought a gorgeous spring planter when she came for dinner on Saturday, with primroses, daffs and some surprises (not sure if there are narcissi and hyacinths or something else?).

BTW didn't get flowers for Mothers Day, got a voucher for Ken Bromleys (yea!!) and a ticket to see the Full Monty at the Lowry with my sons' girlfriends and their Mums then joined by the boys for Teppanyaki in Manchester later. My son and both girlfriends (my other son is in Australia with work) also prepared Mother's day lunch for 12 at our house which was a truly lovely treat. Think I was a little bit spoiled, don't you?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Streetscapes escape me!!

I have been doing quite a bit of  practice with streetscapes recently, trying to find my way with them and think I am finally getting closer!! Streetscapes aren't like doing a single subject like an animal where you can maybe hint at a nose, eye and mouth to tell the story I always feel I need to add a little bit more, but it has finally dawned on me that I can do exactly the same with a streetscape and just paint what interests me in the scene.

I have a lot of photos "in waiting!!" Waiting for when I have figured out how to paint them, a lot from Italy and Spain which I have taken on our travels with the specific purpose of painting them so need to get cracking!!! The first is of a small village in Umbria where I went on a painting holiday in 2007, I have painted it once before but didn't like the result so with renewed enthusiasm had another go today... this is my first day back painting since starting the nursing duties and has been a treat to get the brush back in my hand!! Oops tell a lie... did some sky practices for my workshop last week but my first day doing full paintings rather than just practising.

I decided to concentrate on the tower, the first roof line, the lower roof line and the building to the left. There are quite a few more buildings in the bg but I decided not to feature those at all.

I do like the light on this and might need to darken a touch in the foregound but will sleep on it and see how it looks tomorrow.

The second is of a scene in Florence where I have played a little with the composition... I liked the merry-go-round, the arch and the young man sitting in the foreground but the merry-go-round was too near the arch so I moved it to the left

I might highlight the foreground figure a bit the image he is sitting in sunlight so quite pale but looks a bit too pale on this. Think I will also do something with the "diagonal" from the arch to the right.. only spotted that on here and the carousel looks a bit "iffy!!" but overall I think this is my way forward.. decide what I like in a scene and just concentrate on those bits and see where it goes from there... that's my plan unless you have any better ideas!!!

Both these paintings while not perfect have given me food for thought and ideas of how to go forward, so a very satisfying afternoon's painting.