I thought I’d just take this opportunity to showcase an acrylic painting once a month and offer it at a reduced price – art for sale ! . I have done quite a lot of artwork over the years – there are paintings everywhere in the house !
This is an acrylic painting on paper , sized 16 by 12 inches . It’s unframed , without a mount , and sold as you see it . The colours are just very slightly brighter in real life .
I painted it last summer when I was exploring the technique of painting over an existing finished painting and creating a semi-abstract composition using the same colour palette and atmosphere, if you like . I’m afraid I didn’t keep a record of the original acrylic painting in this case ( I can show two more examples of this technique in a later post )
As you can see , I was very interested in all the wooden objects in the cafe – the window frames , the spokes of the chairs , the panelling and the floor boards. I also concentrated on the textures of the pretty tablecloth and the woman’s pink fluffy sweater . I expect you have already spotted the cup and the dainty , iced cake !
Art for Sale
Would this painting look good in your kitchen ? Or perhaps in your lounge , something intriguing to look at as you enjoy a cup of coffee and a delicious cake or pastry . I wonder what she is thinking about ? You could choose a frame to match your own decor . I’m offering it at the bargain price of £40 including shipping – I’m based in the UK . Please contact me for more details by sending an email on the Contact page.
This post is all about birds – I suppose I have taken more notice of the ones visiting my garden during Lockdown . I certainly have heard more birdsong than usual in the first few weeks of isolation , when the world was quieter.
This first image shows a common garden bird in the UK – a house sparrow. This pencil drawing was done for a challenge set by a painting group I belong to .
An art journal page painted in Lockdown 2020
I started to keep an art journal in March and I have done a few intuitive abstract composition in mixed media like this one ( Birdman ) . I just painted in watercolour on brown toned paper without much thought , and a birdlike shape appeared , cradled in the hands of a rather strange looking man.
My next image is a blast from the past actually (apologies for the poor quality phone snap ) . Again , this was a challenge that I set for Barnsley Art Society a couple of years ago . Mine was painted in acrylic in just over an hour .Wouldn’t it be nice to go on a trip to the seaside right now ? ( only two hours drive from where I live )
And the last one I’d like to show you is a work in progress from my journal . Again , an unplanned , instinctive work , just a watercolour doodle to begin with . And then I realised I was moving towards painting a pigeon !
These are just the first layers. I shall probably add more watercolour and oil pastel then I’ll post it as soon as I have finished it
So , that’s my post . A tribute to Birds – they have certainly kept my spirits up during Lockdown. I wonder if anyone else has noticed a trend in the type of art they have been producing during social isolation ?
This is a watercolour painting of a bunch of flowers that I quickly gathered from the allotment . It’s painted in a loose watercolour style and I can’t really call it a sketch – I spent about an hour and a half on it. It’s in my Lockdown art journal where I can be a bit freer and experiment ( play , really) .
I tried to use more water in the paint and let it flow around . I like using a technique called ‘ wet-in -wet ‘ when you load up your brush with fairly runny watercolour paint and paint it on top or right next to wet paint and then watch what happens ! Sometimes the effects are quite pleasing . Then I exaggerated and worked into the bits that looked effective. I’m not so experienced with this medium but working in an art journal gives you the freedom to try things out , without worrying about ‘ spoiling anything ‘ .
There’s Sweet Williams , euphorbia and verbena in there plus a ferny sort of plant with delicate heads of pale yellow flowers.
At least now I have more time to paint when I feel inspired – instead of putting it on a to-do list !
This is watercolour on paper, a page in my art journal , about 10 inches square. If you want to know more , email me using the form on the Contact page . All my work is for sale at reasonable prices.
I am always inspired by the beauty of plants and flowers in my garden . This acrylic painting in the naive style is an idealized view of my allotment , just as dusk is falling . I’m having a cuppa after a hard day’s work ,watching the last rays of the sun over the pond .
However , during Lockdown this year , I , like a lot of other people, was confined to my house and our small back garden received a lot more attention than usual ! I painted this watercolour sketch (Crabapple) outside , sitting on my tiny patio in March this year. I enjoyed just being outside in my Spring garden on a fine afternoon .The tree was just beginning to show its bright green , frilly leaves .This tree provides us with enough apples to make three or four jars of Apple Jelly each year- delicious with pork chops . The sketch was completed in forty minutes urban sketching style !
I observed the Spring flowers quite closely – these were in the window box outside my living room window,. The colours of the flowers in this watercolor sketch really glowed – especially the contrast between the complimentary colours purple and yellow . Again , this was a very quick sketch , done as I stood in front of the window , looking down at the windowbox through the glass !
Straight after painting ‘Spring Flowers ‘ I felt inspired to do a mixed media abstract composition of the colours and shapes of the flowers and leaves. I layered on collage , pencil and oil pastel to create that textured effect .
And , finally, when I was working yesterday at the allotment garden , I found five minutes in a coffee break to do a quick pencil drawing of the brassica plants in front of me as I sat in the shade .Two different kinds of cabbage and a Brussel sprout plant ( the broccoli plants are not ready to go in yet )
My gardens give me endless inspiration !
All of my original artwork is for sale – just go to the Contact page and send me a message . If you like what you see , on this post or in the Gallery or Portfolio section , if you want to treat yourself or buy a gift for a loved one , ask for more details – all my paintings are reasonably priced.
All will now be revealed ! You may remember , a few posts ago , I showed you two large , abstract canvases which formed part of a series of three . Here, as promised , is the final painting .
These three large canvases were entered as a proposal for a commission at a local stately home, to be displayed in the private chapel , inside the big house. Unfortunately, I was not successful on this occasion , but I was really inspired by the idea and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of entering.
Part One of the Triptych
I was reflecting on the state of our modern world , right at the beginning of the lockdown . So I thought about the idyllic world mankind lived in , before industrialisation and I painted this intuitive abstract to show an unspoiled planet , visualized as a sort of tropical paradise. For more details and close-ups of this painting , see https://margarethallfineart.com/paradise-acrylic-abstract-painting/
The next chapter in the story also came easily to me – I must have been feeling quite pessimistic and I portrayed a burnt-out , desolate world with a huge , red sun ( hints of global warming ? )
For the final part of this triptych of acrylic paintings, I thought about how the paintings were to be displayed in a church , where people could sit in quiet contemplation , perhaps hoping for a peaceful resolution of their troubles . So I tried to portray this as a spirit soaring free , away from all difficulties . I suppose I also used the motif of the kite to symbolise that feeling of wanting to escape from the ‘ virus ‘ problem , a feeling that a lot of us have experienced lately . But it was mainly painted instinctively and must have come from my subconscious.
I hope that you enjoyed looking at my Isolation Art. There are actually two more large canvases that do take the story forward , when I think about it . But that can be saved for another day .
This is my latest mixed media experiment an abstract composition using collage, acrylic , watercolour and oil pastel . There’s even some marker and pencil in there – although the pencil might be a mistake as it is too shiny, Do you happen to know how how to apply a few sharp , precise marks over mixed media layers without using pencil ? I’d love to know . Anyway, I don’t really know what I’ve painted here – it was quite instinctive but I think it has something to do with wanting to escape from the anxiety and threat of this virus ! And it’s painted on brown paper ( more of that later ) .
Drawing on Toned Paper
The toned paper in this case is a rather nice brown paper. I have admired other sketching friends’ drawings on brown paper sketchpads so I bought one . However, I don’t really like the effect of acrylic paint on this paper . Perhaps it was the colours I chose , but they don’t seem to have the sparkle that I like when I use white paper.
Now for the interesting part – I bought this sketchpad at the David Hockney gallery at Saltaire when I took part in an Urban Sketchers crawl back in February. You may remember , we spent the morning in a small brewery/pub and I sketched the brewing equipment in mixed media ( pen , pencil and watercolour ) . See my blog post https://margarethallfineart.com/urban-sketching-watercolour-abstract/
It was great fun – perhaps one day soon urbansketchers will be able to meet up again .
David Hockney exhibition at Saltaire World Heritage Site, Shipley , near Bradford , UK
This is actually a complex of woollen mill buildings established by Titus Salt along with the model village he built for his workers in the 1850’s . The village included neat, tidy terraced cottages , a church and a Sunday school , allotments , a school , a park and much more alongside the river Aire . It’s quite fascinating, so go and have a look if you get the chance .
The downstairs floor of Salt’s Mill shows an exhibition of earlier Hockney artwork and houses the art shop where I bought the toned paper sketchpad . Upstairs there’s a museum room about the history of the factory . But the star of the show is the David Hockney Gallery displaying some recent work from the Spring exhibition of locations in East Yorkshire , where the artist used to live . Enough said , just have a look at the fabulous pictures !
The Coming of Spring in Yorkshire – 2011
The first time we visited the gallery thirty years ago we were lucky enough to see some of the sections of a larger drawing that David was , at that very moment , sending by fax across from California ! The very large drawing, re-assembled from pieces of copy paper is displayed on the wall . I love the way he always enjoys using the latest technology to create his work .
These ‘paintings ‘ are all actually prints of iPad drawings and I think they are absolutely stunning ! I hope that you have enjoyed my little exhibition review .
An Intuitive Abstract Composition in Pink and Green
This is the first painting in a set of three that I mentioned a couple of posts ago .I think I must have imagined a tropical scene or a scene in a jungle before I started painting . The colours I was drawn to – luscious pinks and vibrant greens – definitely fitted into this theme . I tried really hard not to paint anything too figurative and realistic but when I stood back from my easel, I saw suggestions of a bird , an insect , perhaps an animal, flowers and leaves . So I realized this acrylic abstract composition was going to be semi-abstracted not purely abstract . But that’s ok – I often find that my paintings decide what they want to be , without a lot of input from me . I even turned this one upside down several times to paint it and the motifs still appeared !
Paradise – Birds , Flowers and an Insect ? – details from my acrylic abstract
I believe that the term ‘ paradise ‘ has its origins in a word which meant ‘garden’ , a place with lush growth and plenty of water , a place where you could rest and gaze upon a beautiful scene . When I painted this , I was thinking about the story I was telling in a series of three canvases for a commission proposal : this is the first one ‘Paradise ‘ and the second one ‘ Hell on Earth ‘ was shown in a previous post in May and it carries the story forward .. All will become clearer soon when I reveal the third part !
I wanted to show you one of my lockdown art journal pieces , now that it is finished. I had seen a few great ideas online using masking tape to divide up paper or canvas into sections. Then you paint an abstract composition, remove the tape carefully and admire ! Well , I couldn’t find the tape , so , rather than waste time looking, I quickly ‘ drew ‘ some strips with pencil and ruler .Then came the fun part . I treated each shape as an independent unit and just painted instinctively. I will admit to having used a limited palette of colours , but no other planning took place . On this mixed media abstract , I used all sorts – watercolour , acrylic , collage , pen , pencil , oil pastel .
Mixed Media Abstract with Collage
I really enjoyed using all kinds of media on this piece mixed media abstract – first pen , then lots of watercolour . It might be a bit difficult to see in the image ‘ Fragments ‘, but at this stage , I glued on some cutouts of collage samples I made using leftover acrylic paints ( like the one above ) . After that , I couldn’t resist using coloured markers and oil pastels ( and a bit more acrylic in the strips ) .
Fragments of Landscape
What did I think about during the process ? Well, stained glass , glimpses of landscape through a window and colour experiments . But , to be honest, it took on a life of it’s own and I just painted intuitively . It’s quite small , about 8 inches square and I think it’s time I tried this on a much bigger scale . I wonder , do you ever experiment with mixed media work ?
Actually , I did a few mixed media pieces in my isolation art journal – you can see them on my Instagram account – @margarethallfineart or click on the button right at the very bottom of this post.
This is an intuitive abstract painting from a few weeks ago on a 2 foot square canvas which is the largest size I have ever painted. It took me a while to learn how to adapt the size and shape of the design to the square format , after the initial free expressive part of the painting . Of course , some semi-abstracted shapes crept in , but that was ok because it fitted in well with the story I was developing over three canvases . These form a triptych which I entered in a commission to produce artwork for a chapel gallery in a local stately home . Unfortunately , I wasn’t successful but I felt it was a very useful exercise and I learned a lot about describing and presenting my work whilst doing the submission .
However , now this work can now go public and here it is in a virtual exhibition called ‘ On a Washing Line ‘ presented by a group of local artists that I belong to. We were due to exhibit our recent work in the real world but this is the next best thing and a lot of fun too !
To let you into a bit of a secret , the piece was called ‘Hell on Earth ‘ the second of three paintings on canvas – a story about the difficulties the world seems to be going through just now. A dramatic piece to catch the eye and make a bold statement in a large space. But , don’t worry , the ending is hopeful and I will tell the tale in a while over a couple more posts .
Colourful Flower Painting in Watercolour and Collage
I was quite pleased with this flowers in mixed media piece that I did in my art journal – I used pen ,watercolour , oil pastel, pencil and collage. It was inspired by the beauty of the Spring flowers and colours I could see all around me . I also tried to pay attention to the shape of the design too – a first for me .It cheers me up when I look at it . I hope you like it too !
This acrylic painting , along with the other two I will show you, were chosen to be on display in a ‘Spring Time in Yorkshire ‘ exhibition at Skelmanthorpe Gallery featuring local artists ,in the month of April . But , of course , the exhibition was cancelled due to social isolation . This painting shows a sweet view of my allotment, complete with gardener and a row of daffodils , my favourite spring flowers .
I’ve just started working in the veg garden (a little bit late I know ) and today I sowed rocket and radish seeds and picked a stir fry of little shoots and things for dinner.
This painting – Bluebell Wood – was proving to be quite popular with my art friends and supporters and would have been for sale . But, they didn’t get to see it , nicely framed and in a gallery setting.
It’s bluebell time at the moment here in Yorkshire, UK , making all the little pieces of woodland around us shimmer with that heavenly blue, perfect for a vibrant , colourful painting .
Snowdrops in the Big Rockery is one of my favourite paintings .We often go walking in the grounds and park of a local stately home and this shows the very end of winter and the beginning of spring last year. If you look carefully, you can see small clumps of snowdrop flowers, shining in the low light of late afternoon.
I was really looking forward to seeing all the original artwork from my fellow artists for this exhibition . Alas , it didn’t happen , but , maybe next year ! I hope that you enjoyed my exhibition review .
At last ! I managed to do a watercolour sketch outside from life (well , from the car window). And the house really was painted green ! I didn’t realise how much I would miss painting from life and going on Urban Sketchers Yorkshire days out . This took 20 minutes for the watercolour sketch and a little finish off at home with a fineliner . I like my plein air sketches to keep that freshness and I tend not to do too much ‘ editing ‘ afterwards .
This is a great idea – Virtual Sketch on Facebook. You can do this in real time ( or afterwards) and go on a virtual trip to various locations in Greenland , pause the sequence and sketch . This is quick watercolour sketch of Sisimut harbour. I enjoyed sketching it ( 30 minutes ) and, for a moment or two I felt like I was really there ! If you check this out , there are lots of interesting places around the world to choose from .
Urban Sketching in a Brewery
You might remember that this was the last Urban Sketchers trip I went on , to a brewery in Saltaire. I was really into my stride with this one back in February. I feel quite out of practice now. You might like to have a look at this post from February all about the Saltaire trip and my pen and wash sketch . http://margarethallfineart.com/urban-sketching-watercolour-abstract/
I did this pen drawing through the art gallery window, looking down at the lovely church and churchyard right in the middle of town . I drew this straight in with a marker pen which gives it a fresh and lively look but doesn’t leave much room for error .
Sketching in Pen on a Collage Background
And , to finish off with , a pen and ink sketch done last year while drinking a cup of coffee in a shopping centre cafe . Urban sketching at its best . were the days ! Something for us all to look forward to in these days of Social Distancing . Meanwhile , take care .
p.s – here is one I did this morning as part of a lovely walk around the park. 20 minutes. I think I might use it as a basis for an acrylic painting, concentrating on the different layers of greens , yellows and browns. There’s no time to be bored when you’re an artist !
Watercolour and Mixed Media Painting of a Bird in Flight
This watercolour sketch started off as a response to a challenge for an art group I belong to – ‘ Bird in Flight ‘ and then it changed into an art journal page , expressing some of my feelings about being in lockdown . In this mixed media piece I used pen , pencil , collage and oil pastel. I always knew art was my therapy ! Does anyone else feel as strongly as I do about benefiting so much from creating art when times are hard ?
Bright Lights – Barnsley Town Hall at Christmas 2019
At last , I’ve managed to paint my acrylic painting of one of the fabulous light installations we enjoyed in our town at Christmas. This one lit up the iconic building by illuminating all the windows , sometimes red , sometimes pink and , at the same time washing the stonework over with shades of blue . It was very inspiring and moving – showing the War Memorial silhouetted in black against the bright colours and also , during the sequence , drenched in blood red . There’s a full account , plus the photos I used for inspiration in my blogpost http://margarethallfineart.com/575-2 back in December 2019 . Ever since then , I was longing to paint the scene and the lockdown has , ironically , given me the opportunity. However , I know I haven’t finished with this idea yet and I’d like to try at least one abstract painting .
Harbour Lights – Reflections on the Sea
This acrylic painting is a completely different interpretation of the idea of electric light dominating the scene – in this case a harbour scene . It was inspired by a photo , which I altered a great deal as I became engrossed in the abstract shapes of the buildings and the reflections of the light on the water . I also managed to indulge my love of bright blues , red and yellow . Any excuse to show my World of Colour ! It’s a good job we can all go virtually travelling like this , in this time of lockdown . Stay safe .
I’ve finished my little acrylic painting at last. Despite all this extra isolation free time , I still haven’t done much art . Well, I have actually been finishing off another large canvas – so that’s my excuse. And I’ve also started an art journal ( more for art therapy than anything else) .
This was an exercise we did a couple of weeks ago at Art Group – all look at the same copyright free photo and produce your own version . At art class we were encouraged to make as many changes as we wanted to or to add anything to it . So I changed some details such as omitting the bench and moving the cliff .Then I tried changing all the colours , which was surprisingly difficult , if you wanted to make it look harmonious . ( I think this is called colour abstraction ) . I also found patterns in the leaves, rocks and waves and exaggerated them , which I am more used to doing in my semi-abstract style . I have been told that it now resembles a sci- fi landscape ! It was quite enjoyable to do , if you like a little challenge
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Acrylic painting
Northern Fringe Artists’ Show at the Ridings Centre, Wakefield
We had to cancel the launch of our latest exhibition this week due to the present situation, but the artwork is on the walls of our pop-up gallery , all ready for the time when we can safely open it to friends , family and the general public .
I belong to the Northern Fringe group of artists and this latest show is all about Yorkshire Makers inspired by Yorkshire Writers. I chose Simon Armitage who reworked a medieval poem about the Knights of the Round Table into a superb piece of his own in modern English. It was so easy to picture the scene : the Green Knight is waiting for Sir Gawain to continue the fight . I’ll not give away the ending , you’ll have to read it yourself !
As you might have heard me say before , I love painting story pictures and it’s really good to take up challenges from groups I belong to for fresh inspiration . For example, last year I responded to an artist’s call-out on the theme of ‘ Iconic ‘ and I came up with this semi-abstracted view of a ring of standing stones in the Lake District , England
Happily, this one was on display last year so I can’t really complain
I just finished the fourth in my flower paintings in acrylic on small canvases – so I can’t call it a triptych anymore ! I always find such a lot of inspiration in flowers . This is some kind of ornamental thistle , I think . Anyway , I’ve just bought three 8 by 8 inch canvases so I can paint some more . Happy Days !
See ” Floral Art – a Triptych ” posted on February 1st , 2020 .
Local Artist’s Show at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield
I went to see a great exhibition at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield a couple of weeks ago : Nomadic tales by Richard Bartle .
We were so delighted to be able to walk round with Richard himself as he told us the fascinating stories behind his huge paintings on canvas material , just like banners . Richard took inspiration from the medieval illustrations of a 14th century artist and storyteller Siyah Kalem who used the motifs of men and demons to comment on the everyday life of the nomadic tribes who lived on and around the Silk Road in Asia .
Richard lives part of the year in Istanbul , Turkey and he has put his own interpretation of the life and political turmoil of the area into his story pictures .
Its a really inspiring show – try and catch it if you are in the area but only if you enjoyed my exhibition review !
I do enjoy painting story pictures myself and , funnily enough , I painted the story of how the secret of making silk was smuggled out of China by a Chinese princess . She hid the silkworms and cocoons in her huge headdress , according to the legend . ( See more Story Pictures in my Gallery )
My Story Pictures
This is a romantic version of history , of course . But I am also drawn to putting social comment into my pictures , particularly highlighting the problems of women in our modern world .
This one ‘ Caged Bird ‘ was painted for the exhibition ‘Vote 100 – a Century of Change ‘ for the Cooper Gallery ,Barnsley http://www.cooper-gallery.com last year all about the suffragettes and their struggles to get the vote .
In this painting , ‘ Woman at the Window ‘ , I explored the idea of the restricted lives that some women lead . I followed this theme over quite a few paintings and sort of brought it to a conclusion with this last one ‘ Women in Chaos ‘ in which I tried to show someone trying to deal with all the pressures and problems modern life can throw at us .
Perhaps this is pretty heavy stuff – I suppose it is . But I like all kinds of art – including the kind that really makes you think
Pen and Watercolour with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire
This is just a quick post – I wanted to share with you a watercolour sketch I did this weekend . I spent the day with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. We went to the fabulous Salts Mill ,at Saltaire near Bradford , a World Heritage site. But , first of all , we spent the morning in a craft brewery , looking down on the factory from a balcony.
Well, I did my usual pen sketch and I realised how many gorgeous patterns there were in the view . So , when adding watercolour , I started to emphasize and exaggerate the abstract shapes. At the moment , I’m concentrating on abstract composition in my acrylic painting so I’m a bit obsessed ! But this is the first time I’ve actually put one together while ‘ one the spot ‘ so to speak. This could be addictive !
I used some of the new techniques I’ve learned – putting more contrast in the design and trying to harmonize the colours.
I’ll post something a bit longer soon , when I’ve a bit more time, all about a great exhibition I saw in Sheffield .
This is my latest acrylic abstract painting. I followed a suggestion online to play with these three colours plus black and white and , literally , just see what happened. I did find this brief quite inspiring – choosing the colours had already been done for me . So if I could ‘ let go ‘ , I thought it might be relaxing, as opposed to the hard thinking and research that goes into , for example , one of my Story Pictures.
Anyway, I usually work in this ‘ portrait ‘ format and I didn’t realise how used I was to creating a rectangular composition until a friend of mine gave me some lovely square canvases. So , that was a challenge I set myself and this was the first version.
I was pleased with the movement but I realised that the ‘white ‘ shapes were not working so – on to the next version.
So next day, I worked on the painting some more and took away a lot of the white. But meanwhile , I had been far too busy and I had added so many ‘ interesting ‘ little sections . They were cute in their own way , but all together , it was too much and just confused the eye. So, they had to go – it was quite a painful experience to paint them out . I think this is why some artists find it difficult to judge when an abstract is finished . I certainly do . What do you think ? Is it finished ?
Well , that way of creating an intuitive abstract seems to me completely different to the way I put this next one together
Believe it or not , this composition came to me as a finished design in my imagination. This hardly ever happens for me – so it was just a question of trying to put it down on paper ( or canvas in this case )