Why Do I Love Red?

The Backs

Good morning everyone. Why do I love red? Well, that’s a good question, and I’m not really sure of the answer. But I thought I would show you this acrylic painting from a few years ago and try and explain. For example, I was inspired by an old black and white photo of children playing on ‘the backs’. That is, behind the terraced row of houses in a pit village where they live. Obviously the colours were black, grey and white. However, I wanted to show the brightness and hope children bring to a community. So I painted them in colour. In my opinion, the touch of red draws the eye most and makes my point perfectly.

Perhaps you may be wondering how I chose this subject for this post? Actually, it was the theme for our latest meeting at our art society. And, it really inspired us all, so picked out some of my own paintings featuring red. Incidentally, this is my unfinished effort from Tuesday’s meeting. And it is a farm building with a tin roof, in gouache. When it’s propenly finished, I will show you . Anyway, in my opinion, the redness forms a strong focal point and also makes the scene look cheerful!

A Touch of Red

So, why do I love red? Because it can be cheerful and it helps the composition by being a strong focal point. In fact, it can also heighten the drama of a scene. How about the effect in this one?

Zig Zag

Personally, I think this is quite dramatic! Finally, of course, red can suggest blood and danger. And I do have some drawings done in the pandemic which reflect this. I’ll show them in another post, I think.

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A Very Quick Catchup Post

Dream Landscape

Good morning everyone. Just as it says in the title, a very quick catchup post. In fact, I’ve not really had much time to paint lately. So these two pieces are quite literally small works done in snatches of time. To be honest, I started this gouache in five minutes before starting on breakfast! Well, you get the picture. Anyway, quite unusually for me, this was straight out of my imagination. And, I don’t really feel like it’s finished, but to add any extra elements now would look too artificial. So I’ll consider it as a study, a practice in using gouache paint.

Emotional Outburst

Now, as you can see, this one in my quick catchup post is completely different. Of course, it’s a doodle, but also a picture of my state of mind at the time. What do you reckon, anger, anxiety, bewilderment ? All of the above. We are living in such strange and difficult times and I usually try to keep my worries under control. However, sometimes they break out and I suppose there’s less harm done if it’s contained within a painting. Actually, oil pastel is really good for this kind of art therapy. Because you can pound it into the paper and get rid of all those uncomfortable feelings. Honestly, I’ve no idea what it is or if it means anything. But,I definitely felt better after I’d done it! And there’s another post here with more art therapy exercises that you may not have seen before.

What Inspires You to Paint?

Golden

Good morning everyone. What inspires you to paint or create? Actually, this is what we were discussing yesterday on our Art Society trip. In fact, we went to the town gallery to study and sketch the gorgeous drawings and sculptures of local artist Graham Ibbeson here . And over good strong coffee and delicious scones, the conversation turned to how we feel inspired.

So, one of my art buddies likes to take elements from an old master painting and work them into his surreal style of painting. Another friend likes to try out different media and styles for inspiration. And I talked about seeing an image in my mind’s eye, out of the blue. And then using it as the basis for a painting, which is exactly what happened here. Because I saw vaguely hexagonal shapes, the golden colour of honey and beautiful purple.

Incidentally, after I had thought about using this image for my post, it reminded me of another intuitive abstract. Also the inspiration for this earlier one had just come to me as an arrangement of shapes and colours. Usually when I’m half asleep or daydreaming.

Golden, original

Well, I do have ideas about other kinds of paintings too, this was just for abstract composition. But I’ll maybe talk about that in another post. If you want to see some more intuitive abstract paintings, see this post here. Anyway, what inspires you to paint?

Look at this Small Abstract

Big Brain

Hi everyone. This is a very short post indeed, all about a small abstract. To be honest, I’m so busy at the moment, gardening and arty business. Not to mention just running my life! Anyway, I just couldn’t stand missing my art fix another day. So I found my small drawing pad, watercolour kit and a few pencils, oil pastels etc. And then let a few colours run into each other. Next I added some small, precise marks and accents. And all this without a single conscious thought, a small abstract. Afterwards, I found out which way up I preferred it. Only then did I notice a head in profile and I had a strong idea come into my head! Namely, we need someone with a brain this big to get us out of the mess we are all in. Well, on that cheerful note, I’ll sign off and hope to write a longer, more optimistic post soon. (There is a more cheery abstract here !)

See Australian Landscapes in Gallery

Sunlight on the Crags

Good morning everyone. We had our last meeting before the summer break at Art Society last Tuesday. And, as we usually do we had a pop-up gallery evening. And everyone brought a picture or two to show off to the other members. If you want to see my report on Facebook click here. Even if I say so myself, the work was outstanding! Anyway, I chose two Australian landscapes that I completed on the online course I follow. Actually, I said a few words about the most difficult challenge in this scene, as I saw it. And that was creating the illusion of distance with the crags at the back. Because this is something I find quite difficult to do when the wooded slopes are very green. But, overall I was pleased with the end result, especially the bare rock, visible through the vegetation.

A Beach Day

Next I showed everyone another of my Australian landscapes. And this time it was an idyllic scene of a hot, lazy day spent on the beach in Queensland. However, the main problem for me was the aerial perspective of the lush green headland. And how to give that feeling of it receding into the background when it’s a warm green colour. Hopefully I managed to make it sit back by muting the green.

Secondly, I was pleased with the tiny figures on the beach as I always find people hard to draw. Happily, everyone felt confident enough to say a few words about their artwork in this supportive group. And the evening went very well. Finally, click here to see another one of my Australian landscapes, at present in the Summer exhibition, Open Gallery, Halifax.

New Techniques in Floral Abstract

Blue with Flowers

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick catchup post, to show you what I’ve been enjoying painting, a floral abstract. Actually, I’m working my way through a course by Suzanne Allard, see here. In fact, I have experimented with loose floral abstracts before, as you may have noticed on this blog. And, I’ve used other media over the paint. But I never felt like I knew what I was doing. So I’m very pleased that I found Suzanne’s tuition on line. Because she guides me through the myriad possibilities of adding crayon, oil pastel, ink and so on. And in a way that I can understand.

Blue with Flowers – a closeup

To be honest, I created the background for this painting a while ago, for a different project. However, I thought that it would work well. And I muted the intense colour of the acrylic paint with oil pastel in places where it needed it. As can perhaps see in this close up. You can see another loose floral abstract in my own style in this post here.

Delivering Paintings to New Shows

The Power of the Waves

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick post today – as the title says, it’s been a busy week delivering paintings. Because not only am I catching up furiously in the veg garden. But also I delivered my paintings to two galleries, well, one gallery and a church! Actually, we went to Fronteer Gallery yesterday with the seascape for their exhibition ‘The Sea’. I can’t wait to see that one, Fronteer exhibitions are always interesting, I love a theme for a show.

The Power of the Waves – close up 1
The Power of the Waves – close up 2

We also went to St. John’s church at Hoylandswaine delivering paintings because the art group in the village invited me. In fact, I have belonged to this group a number of years. Admittedly, I couldn’t go to the meetings during the worst of the pandemic. But, fingers crossed, I am gradually going out more now and things are looking more normal, socially speaking.

Sunshiny Day

To be honest, I am taking part in five exhibitions at the moment (I know!) So a lot of my work is already out on the road, so to speak. However, this abstract is a favourite of mine. And I’d like to see it in a lovely exhibition again, so the village festival show seems like a good thing to be involved in. Got to run, but if you want to see more of my abstract painting see here.

Two Paintings of Women’s Stories

The Woman at the Window

Good morning everyone. Here are two more of my paintings from our exhibition ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, on now at Mirfield. And these two in particular are all about women’s stories. For example, in the one above, I wanted to explore the reality behind living a secluded life. As I painted I thought of the women living where the culture requires them to stay indoors most of the time. Hopefully, you can see the loneliness this woman feels, peering at the outside world through the window. While she always must remain indoors.

Coffee for One

Next I chose to exhibit this painting which highlights another one of my women’s stories. And the story here is rooted very firmly in time – a period of respite in the recent pandemic. In fact, here in the UK, restrictions had been lifted, only to be reimposed shortly after. During that time, people seemed to sit quite nervously in cafes, socially distanced. However, they didn’t stay long and soon hurried out, with a sigh of relief. Just like this woman, with her coffee and cake. You could see more stories about women’s lives here and here.

Coffee and Cake

New Narrative Paintings for Mirfield

Paradise

Good morning everyone. This is a quick post today, I’m insanely busy right now. Why is it that you wait two years for an exhibition and then five come along at once! Anyway, I wanted to show you another two of my narrative paintings. And, as we speak, this should be hanging on the wall at Creative Arts Hub Gallery, Mirfield. Well, I hope so, it’s the launch of our art society show ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ in the morning!

Actually, you may have seen this on this blog before, along with the next part of the story, in this post here and here. In fact, I did paint five pieces to tell the tale of ‘ The Progress of Mankind ‘. As illustrated by me! Simply put, this first chapter shows the unspoilt paradise that the earth once was. Perhaps you can see the suggestions of an insect, a bird, a butterfly and a flower.

Hell on Earth

And here is part two – my interpretation of the way our world is almost destroyed by the exploitation of all our resources. Perhaps you think it’s pretty bleak. But by Chapter Five of my narrative paintings, things are a little bit more hopeful.

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other stories on the wall tomorrow morning.

One More Quick Watercolour Abstract

Golden

Good morning everyone. I’m very busy at the moment, arranging exhibitions, visiting galleries and so on. So I don’t seem to have had much time to do any bigger painting projects. And I have also been finishing art society projects. Not to mention planting things at the allotment garden. But I did complete this quick watercolour abstract, thank goodness. As you may know, I hate leaving work unfinished. Anyway, this is quick abstract number 8. Actually, for this one I had a picture in my mind beforehand of hexagonal shapes. And, that along with the golden colour made me think of the shape of honeycomb. However, that was as far as the similarity went. As I painted, I got more interested in blending the gold and mauve together harmoniously. Of course, these two produce a range of soft browns. Therefore, brown was my third colour – I prefer to restrict myself to a few colours in abstract work now.

Areas of soft blending in my quick abstract

Then I decided to do the surface pattern over the soft background. On another day, in a ten minute slot of free time. Perhaps you can see that I used oil pastel, coloured pencil and markers for this stage. Frankly, the problem is knowing when to stop! Well, I added an accent of red and scribbled in some small pattern with black ink. Incidentally, I don’t think I am quite finished with this idea, so I may visit it again. Possibly with acrylic paint this time. As you may have seen on this post here, I am quite fond of the yellow and purple combination!

Finally, I can’t sign off without a mention that our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition ‘Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers ‘ opens tomorrow at Skelmanthorpe Library Gallery. And it’s presented by Village Art. To be honest, this is the third venue on our tour! And this is one of my pieces – Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse near Haworth. Widely agreed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the famous novel by Emily Bronte.

Top Withens

Three More Quick Little Abstracts

Quick Abstract 5

Good morning everyone. I’m showing you a catch up post about my series of quick little abstracts. Well, if I call them a series it makes it sound more serious! But it’s really because I’m so busy at the moment, and only seem to have time for small works. In retrospect, in this one I must have been greatly influenced by dark thoughts about the war in Ukraine. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but the red looks like blood to me, with something scary raining down on the city from above. Actually, I mentioned in my last post in this series that I only notice these things after the sketch is finished.

Quick Abstract 6

In fact, you may have seen this watercolour sketch before, as I included it in my post about our holiday in Scarbrough here. And I painted it after having paddled in the cold North Sea. Honestly, I found it fascinating to spot the different patterns created by the receding tide on the shore. So I had a lot of scope for decorative patterns in ink over the top of the background.

Quick Abstract 7

Finally I painted this one after a day’s work at the allotment garden, Where I immersed myself in greenery, vegetation etc. Obviously, I don’t have to tell all you gardeners out there about the rapid growth. And how all plants grow so quickly in the UK at this time of year. Admittedly, we have to work very hard weeding and cutting back, but it’s quite glorious really. If you want to see more of the greenery in my plot of land, look here. Just another one of my quick little abstracts for the series.

See my Small Watercolour Abstracts

Doodle 3

Good morning everyone. This is a quick catchup post, just to show you more of my small watercolour abstracts. Well, I’m still producing quite a few of these. And I’ve noticed that they definitely reflect my painting interests and colour choices at the time. But I don’t notice this till afterwards! For example, in this one above I’m exploring more restrained and sparse patterns, as a contrast to the busier designs of the previous little abstracts seen here.

Doodle 4

On the other hand, I noticed after I had completed this one above that it was connected to my current large acrylic. And also, the softer colours and bold black calligraphic marks are in the style on my online course. Who knew? Actually, my subconscious painting brain surprises me more every day, especially in my small watercolour abstracts!

Doodle 4 – a closeup

A Day by the Sea

North Landing, Flamborough

Good morning everyone. We’ve just spent a lovely few days by the sea. And I painted this quick watercolour sketch looking down at North Landing Bay at Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast. Although it looks deserted in my sketch, there were actually some families playing on the beach. And the snack bar was open and doing a roaring trade. Also, a small boat came back to the shore, with a few crates of fish. Then they pulled the boat up the ramp to the boat house. After I had finished my sketch, (about 30 minutes) we walked a short way along the cliff path on the headland. Actually, we were looking out for puffins, but they were all hiding! What a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

In fact, I had paddled in the sea on the beach at Scarborough that morning, in freezing cold water. And when I got back to the flat I decided to do an intuitive abstract. So I painted an impression of the movement of the water, as the tide receded around my feet. If you look at this post here from last year, you’ll see another sketch of this coast.

The Tide

See my Spare Time Abstracts

Doodle 1

Good morning everyone. I think the title says it all, really, because I’m very busy at the moment. And, this is all the art I can manage to fit in at present – spare time abstracts! Actually, I saw a few things online about doodling, which seems to be very popular just now. But, to be honest, I’ve been scribbling little designs and patterns all my life. So, it seems to be quite natural to me. However, I noticed lots of ideas suggesting doing these small drawings over a background of watercolour marks. So, nothing could be easier, I use my little travel set of colours and it dries fast. Then, a little bundle of markers to choose from, and off I go!

Although, I must say the notion of using lots of surface pattern over paint is still new to me. But, that’s the fun part. And, as most of my marker pens are waterproof, it seems natural to add a bit more emphasis on top with thicker paint. Next, I have a look at the design for any ugly bits and correct them. And now I’ve done another spare time abstract! Right, back to the allotment gardening! There is some more fun doodling in this post here, using a slightly different technique.

Doodle 2

Bad Planning and Good Planning

Peace

Good morning everyone. Today I wanted to show you this abstract design, which required quite a lot of planning. Obviously, it’s just a modest little watercolour abstract painting, but, first I had to think hard about the background. You see, I kept the colours soft so there is not too much eye catching contrast. At the same time, I introduced a subtle sense of movement with the white paint. Honestly, I really had to restrain myself from adding loads of busyness all over the place! Anyway, I achieved it and now I could choose a motif to put over the top. But, what to choose? Not wanting to experiment on the page, I used my I pad trick and scribbled a few ideas over the image on the screen. After a few tries, I settled on a mandala.

The I pad trick

So then I felt confident enough to paint my mandala in black paint (don’t laugh, it’s an abstract one!) Actually, I haven’t got the skill or the patience to paint a good one. However, I think it’s quite effective. And the main point of the exercise for me is to take some time and thought when planning an abstract.

Peace

Bad Planning

Sunny Morning

Next, here is a glorious example of bad planning, more like my usual style! Here’s the story, l wandered into my ‘studio’ after showering one morning. And there was the usual view over the roofs, all bathed in gentle sunshine. Well, I couldn’t resist grabbing a pad and a black marker for a quick sketch. Then I used my new oil pastel pencils for the colour which didn’t of course cover the lines. So, not the best laid plan, but a real delight to record my response then and there! To sum up, I suppose I think that there is a time for careful planning and also for spontaneous response. Maybe you missed another quick response I made to this view, in a spectacular winter sunrise last year here.

Look at my Framed Abstracts

Up

Good morning everyone. I finished this small watercolour painting yesterday and, with a bit of magic, it’s now one of my new framed abstracts. Isn’t science wonderful? Only a few minutes work, and there it is , in a frame and on the wall of a virtual room!

Up in the Dining Room

Not only does it boost my confidence to see my work displayed on the wall. But also I can then easily assess the work and make mental notes how to progress in the next one.

Perhaps you might not be aware, but I can see quite a lot of influence here from the Painting with Yvette course I am following. For example, the general movement of the colour red across the paper. Also, I have used both thin, washy paint and more thickly applied coats in this composition. In addition, I have applied patches of fine surface pattern on the top layer. Obviously, this might not be all that easy to see in these images of one of my framed abstracts. But, close up it is more effective and I learned all this from this excellent course.

In the Shadows

Finally, I couldn’t resist ‘hanging’ this little abstract on the wall. And I like the way the dark, moody colour of the background complements the mysterious feeling of the painting. In fact, when I look at it now, I think of a passage back into the light from a dark place, perhaps a cave? However, it was an intuitive composition, with no planning beforehand. If you would like to see more of my abstract work, see here.

Discover Shapes in Paint Doodles

Flight

Good morning everyone. This is a fun exercise I did in the tutorial by Charlie O’Shields in the Sketchbook Revival course by Karen Abend. And I tried to discover shapes in simple paint doodles, following the method described by Charlie. To be honest, it was easy to follow. First, scribble some marks with clean water on your brush, on watercolour paper. Most importantly, leave some blank spaces and don’t cover all the sheet. Next, quickly drop in some very wet paint and allow it to mingle. As you can probably tell, my paint blotches did start to dry a little. So I added more and ‘grew’ a few cauliflowers! But, it didn’t matter and just added to the design. When it’s thoroughly dry, take a bit of time to study it. Then pick out the outlines of anything you see in pen or fine marker. Just let your imagination go wild!

Actually, I did enjoy this playing with paint and ideas, and I felt it was a good antidote to worrying about all the sad things I hear on the news. So, if you want a little chuckle, have a look at the other daft doodles I produced.

In the Depths of the Sea
Night Time
Puppy

Finally, here’s an example of a ten minute doodle (done last night). And this shows my usual method of doodling abstracts and how to discover shapes. In fact, I draw or paint colours and shapes at random and then develop it from there. In this case, first, chop courgettes for the dinner, then sit down with marker pens, oil pastels, a biro and tiny notebook!

Courgettes for Dinner

Paintings Inspired by Online Tuition

Dominant

Good morning everyone. When I have ten minutes or so spare, I will always do a quick sketch.( In between finishing off online tuition projects!). On this occasion I quickly sketched a doodle in watercolour, limiting myself to three colours. When it was dry, I doodled some more, adding some black calligraphic marks on top. Later on, I strengthened these marks with one of my new soft oil pastels. Of course, you may have realised that this was influenced by the Painting with Yvette course that I am following. Otherwise I never would have tried putting this kind of a motif on top of a background.

Butterfly Wings

Now this idea is something else that I picked up from online tuition. But unfortunately I can’t remember the details, I look at so much lovely stuff online. Anyway, I did in fact take the idea and do my own version. And the method is to take images of motifs you have chosen to use as inspiration for an abstract composition. Then incorporate them into a design, without doing a realistic painting of them. For example, for this piece I sourced good photos of butterflies and flowers. Then I isolated the shapes and colours that pleased me and tried to make a harmonious pattern. Actually, it does fry your brain a bit in the process! But, I’m still keen to do more. See more intuitive abstracts in this post here

Butterfly Wings – a detail

New Pale Abstracts to See

Something Blue

Good morning everyone. As you may know if you read my blog, I am at present working my way through an excellent online course by Yvette. And I am learning how to create pale abstracts, which are completely different in style to my usual paintings. In fact, in this module we are taking the approach of first creating a background of patterns in dark paint, then applying layer after layer of colours and shapes. Have a look at this image below first to see the process half way through. Then see how it ends up in the next image.

Misty Landscape, half way through
Misty Landscape, finished

In fact, this was my first attempt and I relied quite heavily on the tutor’s version. But this next one I really consider to be my own. And I think it looks well presented in this virtual room. However, my paintings are small and the blown up images really demonstrate how effective large scale abstract paintings can be. See what you think.

Something Blue

Well, I’ve been very busy with these new pale abstracts – they do take some time to do for smallish paintings. Actually, I’m half way through the third one just now, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer to see that one! Meanwhile, here’s a link to a post showing some of my ‘old style’ abstract compositions.

My Abstracts in Virtual Rooms

Blue and Gold 2

Good morning everyone. I thought I would show you the progress I have been making in my abstracts. Actually, these examples are from a lesson I was following last week . And, Yvette’s course is excellent, so I am plodding my way steadily through all the modules.

Blue and Gold 1, inspired by Yvette St Amant

To be honest, this is a copy of the tutor’s work. Because that was the only way I could really understand the techniques used. Consequently, I don’t consider the painting as one of my own. However, it was a good learning experience – I experimented with using a palette knife properly. In addition, this was the first time I applied gold paint with some confidence. But I then needed to produce my own compositions, using the style and colours suggested. As a result, first I painted the one in the virtual room you see above. And this is more close up so that you can hopefully see the textures.

Blue and Gold 2

After that, I just had to try out the method in another painting, this time introducing some soft green. And downplaying the gold. What do you think?

Blue and Gold 3

By the way, it’s quite tricky to photo the gold paint and make it shine. Often it appears to be brown. Maybe I’m using the wrong acrylic paint! Anyway, that’s my little catch up on my abstracts and there will be more to follow. If you missed this post here, an earlier report of my new learning, you may wish to have a look.

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