Sketching Scenes in Sunny Scarbrough

The Path down to the Undercliff

Hello everyone. We’ve just come back from a lovely short break in Scarbrough on the Yorkshire coast in the UK. And it was quite sunny and perfect for sketching scenes! To be honest, I did this first sketch in Ravenscar, which is a half-hour drive further north of Scarbrough. Actually, it’s quite a fascinating place, the resort that never was.

Now, I must explain that the location is stunning, right on the edge of a dramatic stretch of steep cliffs. We love to spend time there, gazing down at the lush, expanse of under cliff, which comes between the top of the cliff and the rocky beach. But, this is really the problem because the path to the beach is very steep, and the beach has very little sand. So, not at all the best place to site a resort with relaxing walks and easy access to a nice sandy beach. However, this is exactly what the Peak Estates Company tried to do in 1890. And they planned the entire resort, buying up the land and everything. Even the streets and the sewers were laid out. Unfortunately, the gamble didn’t pay off, the venture failed. Nonetheless , the place has a cafe, a hotel and a National Trust Information Centre, so it makes our visits there even more worthwhile.

Perhaps you may wish to know that I was sitting at a picnic bench on the green in front of the one and only cafe as I sketched this. And, it was closed for the day!

Sketching scenes at the Mere

The Ducks at the Mere

Yesterday, as we were setting off back home, we parked the car right next to the lake. Then we had a cup of coffee and watched the ducks, geese and swans, as they preened and squabbled. In fact, they were never still for long, a bit inconvenient when you’re sketching!

Sketching on the Balcony

Behind the Flats

Finally, here’s a watercolour painting of the view from the flat we usually stay in when we visit Scarbrough. Actually, I did a small sketch on the spot and then I painted this larger version at home two years ago. Incidentally, this view shows the undercliff area at North Bay, Scarbrough. But it’s not as extensive as the one at Ravenscar. Nor as cut off and mysterious like a little lost world!

Perhaps you would like to look at the landscapes and seascapes in my gallery here . And there are more paintings of Scarbrough there too. After all, it is one of my favourite places!

Northern Fringe Gallery Now Open

Hadrian’s Wall

Good morning everyone. Well, I’m really pleased to tell you that our Northern Fringe Gallery is now open again! And with some lovely new work in there too.

We went to the Ridings shopping centre, Wakefield at the weekend and had a good look around. Also a nice catch up with Eddie, our chairman, who is looking after the empty shop premises that we have claimed as our own. In fact, I also found out about our next project, based around the idea of Midsummer. Honestly, it was such a joy to feel connected to our artist group. Especially after so many months of communication by email.

Our Gallery

Taking my work to Northern Fringe Gallery

Hadrian’s Wall

I was so thrilled to take my interpretation of Hadrian’s Wall to be hung in our gallery. Because I felt quite proud of the way this semi abstracted view of the wall, dominating the landscape turned out. And, everything seemed to fit together, including the massive size of the stones. Also, I tried to convey the feeling of the overwhelming power of the Romans who built this huge barrier in northern England. Of course, they intended to keep the fierce Scottish tribes out of the territories that they controlled. But I also wanted to show the Scottish side of the wall, very much alive and thriving.

My Acrylic Painting of the Moors

Ladybower

This was the second picture I took to our gallery. Incidentally, you may recognise this – it’s the banner image for the home page of this website. And, I hope it best represents my description of my site, A World of Colour, with its vibrant greens and blues. In fact, this is a place we’ve walked around many times over the years. Hopefully, in this interpretation you can sense my love of the place. And enjoy the heightened colours of a still, warm summer’s day on the tops, looking down at the jewel-like expanse of the water.

My work on the wall at our Northern Fringe Gallery

It was a real morale booster to talk about the group’s future plans- all of our exhibitions in bigger galleries were put on hold. And such a pleasure to see my fellow artists’ new work. You could find out about our activities here on our website.

These two paintings are for sale at reasonable prices, plus all the work in my Gallery. (There’s a new moody painting of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire coming soon!)

A Day at the Seaside

The Path down to the Sea

Good morning everyone. A day at the seaside – I love this intuitive abstract that I made when I was thinking about a day out. Well, to be precise, I was only dreaming about going to the coast. And that’s because we haven’t been able to go for over a year now. Partly due to Covid restrictions and also for practical reasons – I chose to stay home and keep safe. Anyway, I can always dream!

A Day at the Seaside – an Abstract Acrylic

A Day at the Seaside – in my Dreams

However, I must insist that this composition must have come from my subconscious. As I have mentioned before, I do a first quick impulsive pass and create a full design, covering all the paper. Then I might leave it until next day, look at it and think about it a lot! After that, I’ll work on it from all angles and enjoy myself, creating texture. For the next session, I’ll choose which is top, and which is bottom and have a look at the balance of shapes and colours. And that’s when I get nice surprises!

The Unexpected Features

Fish or Seabirds?
The Path and the Fence?

Actually, this picture almost painted itself and it was the first of my summery abstracts. Before this, most of my intuitive abstracts were in a different palette of colours. For example, here is one I did at the end of winter, with dramatic, sombre colours. In contrast, my seaside picture is in warm, mellow colours, with hints of cloudless sky and fresh vegetation. And, of course, the almost tactile yellow ochre indicating sand.

On the Shore

Finally, I made this collage a couple of years ago, partly as a tribute to the wonderful Mark Hearld. So, my imaginary scene of a day out at the seaside was made up of painted collage papers, cut-outs and watercolour. And then rounded off with a pretty, decorative border in muted colours. Ah, it’s almost as good as being there in person (almost!)

You could look at more scenes of the fab Yorkshire coast in my Gallery – Landscapes here. It’s affordable art, folks! Contact me for details here.

An Abstracted Cityscape in Acrylic

Cityscape 1

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you my attempt at a semi-abstract cityscape. Actually, I didn’t want to waste the leftover paint on my palette, so I started doodling. (Or, you could call it an intuitive abstract!). Anyway, when I saw the shape of a doorway, I thought I would try to paint a cityscape. Then, I loved the blocks of colour so much that it gradually led me into some semi- abstraction of the scene. And then a bit more! To tell the truth, this is my first attempt at this subject. That is, if you discount one collage of an imaginary view over a city that I did a few years ago. But, I would definitely like to explore this theme a bit more . And, I could even do a series, like a proper artist!

However, I must say that when I posted this on my Instagram account at least two friends saw this as an industrial scene, a steelworks melting shop to be exact. Well, at least they both liked it, so that’s the main thing.

Somewhere in France

And now, in complete contrast, this is a cityscape in southern France somewhere. That is to say, judging by the architecture and the strength of the sunlight. Obviously, I painted this based on a reference photo, and a bit of memory, not from my imagination like the first image. At the time I painted it, a few years ago, I was quite pleased with it. And, I still am, but, I’m quite glad that I am now moving away from following the photo so carefully. So, if I were to do a similar scene, I’m sure I would interpret it with more artistic licence.

An Urban Sketch Cityscape

The Calder Building at the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

Finally, this is an urban sketch I did, on the spot in about 30 minutes. Incidentally, I was out sketching with Urbansketchers Yorkshire, back in the day when there were no restrictions on mixing. Happy days! And, this old warehouse by the canal was part of the site dedicated to the well-known sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Well, I know it has its flaws, and I’ve learnt a bit more about perspective since then. But I do like the freshness and atmosphere I’ve captured here. Plus, of course the memory of a fab day out sketching.

So, whether I use acrylic or watercolour, a photo, my imagination or plein air approach. And, whether I paint in realistic or abstract style, I still find plenty of inspiration in this subject. You could see a very different type of cityscape if you look at this post here – the Piece Hall in Halifax, UK.

‘Floating’ Shapes – an Abstract Composition

A colourful abstract composition in crimson, blue and ochre. Shapes floating through the air or swimming.
Floating

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you an acrylic abstract painting ‘Floating’ that I have just finished. Of course, now that it’s complete, you can see all kinds of motifs. But, I assure you, these were not planned or anything. And, as I painted, after the first impetuous, free stage, I began to see shapes developing. So I just helped them a little bit to emerge more clearly. Actually, what is weird is that I rotate the painting round when I do this. And still something recognisable appears! Incidentally, this is quite a contrast to how I created this post here all about floating objects. As you can perhaps see, this was carefully constructed and planned.

What do You see, Floating in Air or Swimming?

A closeup of the strange face floating up close to the viewer.
Floating – a closeup
Floating – another close up

Obviously, there is a face appearing and that’s because I sort of painted the lips while the painting was upside down. (From the way it was started, I mean). And then I just went with the flow! And, in order to explain away the fishy detail in the second closeup, I can’t! But those fish just seem to find their way into lots of my abstracts.

However, I do remember reading somewhere that the human brain is programmed into finding patterns in what we see. Particularly, we perceive faces and people very readily everywhere. Perhaps it’s some kind of survival instinct. Personally, I do enjoy looking at abstract and semi abstract work more when I can see shapes and make a story. As if this way of seeing allows me into the picture more easily. Instead of feeling that I am blocked from entering.

Straight Lines and Curved Shapes

Finally, I’d like to explore the concept of design a little. Or, to put it more simply, how to decide where to put things, and how to arrange them on the page. Naturally, this element of composition is important for figurative and abstract paintings alike. In my own case, I think about the design about half way through the process in abstract work. To be honest, I have been watching stuff recently on line about various types of composition design. And I read all about the combination of straight lines and curved shapes.

In fact, I realised that I use this style of design quite a lot in my abstracts (see here ) And, I didn’t really know I was doing it! But, I shall carry on because you can create strong compositions with a lot of movement this way. However, now I can think about trying out some more design schemes as well. Well, it’s all part of the lifelong learning plan!

Stories of Strong Women in Acrylic

A symbolic view of a woman with wings confined in a cage, ready to break free. one of my strong women.
The Caged Bird

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to delve into the archive and show you some of my paintings of strong women. These are from a couple of years ago. And as I looked at loads of images, I realised that I quite often work on themes, sometimes without really being aware. Actually, I did this painting ‘The Caged Bird’ for an exhibition ‘Vote 100 – A Century of Change?’ . And it was to mark the one hundredth anniversary of votes for women in the UK. Honestly, I was so thrilled to be included in the show (and even more thrilled when it sold!) But then the curator asked me for more images of women for another exhibition. And I realized how many paintings and drawings I had on this theme of strong, brave women.

Purple, Green and White – the Colours of Strong Women

Incidentally, in this painting I wanted to show how the suffragettes broke free of a confined, stifling life. And then they led the way for all women to claim equal rights. Of course, this was just the beginning of female emancipation here in Britain. As you might have noticed, she is reaching out to a flower painted in the suffragette colours of purple, green and white. Just before she breaks out of the cage. Apologies for the poor image – I have since thrown that camera away!

The Problems of Modern Life

A mixed media painting of a modern woman struggling with the problems in her life - one of my strong women.
Woman Fighting Chaos

Finally, this is a mixed media piece, including oil pastel, chalk pastel, acrylic and ink. And I created it in response to a callout for a show about women facing the problems of modern life. In fact, I did the basic drawing at Life Drawing class – back in the day! Oh how far away that time seems now! Anyway, I found this model very inspiring and I made a few works based on her really dynamic poses. But, perhaps I’ll do another post with those pieces, plus more paintings of strong women. (You could look at Gallery – People for a sneak preview) Watch this space!

Purple and Yellow in Abstract Art

An abstract in purple and yellow,  full of dynamic shapes and intriguing details
Sunny Mood

Good morning everyone. This is an acrylic abstract I did recently, featuring a restricted palette of purple and yellow. With a bit of yellow ochre thrown in, plus black and white, if I remember correctly. So, today I’d like to think about how colours influence mood in abstract painting. Incidentally, I never set out trying to choose a mood or atmosphere at the start. Because I paint instinctively and ‘choose ‘ the colours and shapes unconsciously. And then analyse what I have created afterwards!

Probably I turned to making art on this occasion to help me with a low mood. As I’ve mentioned before, for me (and lots of other people, no doubt) art is therapy. It soothes my soul and very rarely do I not feel better after an hour or two of painting.

Shades of Purple and Yellow

Sunny Mood

Actually, I bought some artist’s grade cadmium yellow a few weeks ago, and I’ve never looked back! Because the pigment is nice and strong, unlike the student grade acrylic I had been using. So, I can use it freely and make a really definite mark. And, to me, the colour signifies sunshine and happy days – the vitality of life. In fact, I use it to create a cheerful atmosphere as in ‘Sunshiny Day’ here .

And, what about the purple? Well, I spent some time thinking about why I so love the colour. Usually straight out of the tube, which is rare for me. Anyway, I’ve come to the realisation that I use it to conjure up the richness and intricate variety of life. And how we should take advantage of that and live life to the full. (Apologies for the darker colours here – I found it almost impossible to get a good reproduction of the true colour purple in this painting and in the next one!)

Family

Another purple and yellow abstract,  bold, vibrant colours,  carefully  balanced with a cheerful atmosphere.
Family

Finally, I’d like to feature another purple and yellow abstract which shows my great love for these two beautiful colours. Now, if I hadn’t given it a title revealing my thoughts on the subject, what would you sense about the mood of this painting? Hopefully something cheering and heartwarming. But, who knows?

All my original artworks are available at reasonable prices. I sell them unframed and if you are interested, you could go to the Contact Me page and send me an email.

Signs of Spring in the Country Park

Signs of Spring – Blackthorn Blossom

Good morning everyone. This is a little watercolour sketch I did at Worsbrough Country Park last week. Finally we had one or two milder days and we really enjoyed the fresh air. Actually, I have been searching out the first signs of Spring this year. Because the winter did seem to me to be very long. And, it was such a pleasure to spot the first hazel catkins and the willow blossoms.

In fact I realised this year something I had never noticed before. That is, that the pussy willow flowers gradually open right out into larger flowers and the pollen escapes. Then the tree seems to be a vivid greeny yellow from a distance. As you approach, it gradually changes to be a dusty yellow colour. Just remember, the stark, dark brown branches are bare of leaves at this time. Honestly, this is the first time I ever noticed this!

One of the first signs of Spring on the willow trees

The Willow Blossom

But, just to return to the blackthorn tree and its creamy white blossom. What a welcome sight at the end of winter! Again, the branches have no leaves, and the trees are covered in clouds of creamy white blossom.

The Blackthorn Blossom

In order to sketch this view en plein air, I sat on a very comfy bench near one of the pedestrian entrances of the park. And we were looking down towards the paths that lead around the shore of the reservoir in both directions. Honestly, it was such a treat to sit in the sunshine, and see happy walkers, children and dogs relaxing. In fact, even the watercolour sketch went well until I tried to indicate the showy, white flowers! Eventually, I had to leave that part of the painting until I got home. Then, out came the little tube of white gouache paint , but even then, I couldn’t quite do the tree justice! But, it was worth it to do my first outdoor sketch of the season.

Last year’s Spring flowers

A colourful acrylic painting - semi-abstract composition of pansies and polyanthus in the rain  - the first signs of Spring in the garden.
Flowers in the Rain

Incidentally, this is an acrylic painting I did last year, in Spring to cheer myself up. It’s a semi abstracted view of pansies and polyanthus flowers in my garden, listening in the Spring showers. Well, it did cheer me up, but I’m so glad that I could go out this year. And appreciate the trees and their impressive blossoms in the Great Outdoors! If you want to read my post about last year’s exhibition ‘Springtime in Yorkshire ‘ see here .

Waterlily Pond in Green and Gold

A semi-abstract interpretation of a tangle of lily pads. Green and gold on shimmering water, with glimpses of goldfish.  In gouache paint.
Waterlily Pond

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you this gouache painting of a waterlily pond that I did for our Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. Well, the prompt for this month is Aquatic Life and I think it’s a great choice. Because it’s nice and wide reaching. For example, I decided to concentrate on a pool , or you could choose a river or the sea. And, even better, the Life could be animal or vegetable. Actually, the reference photo of this scene really appealed to me – it’s by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash. In particular, I liked the arrangement of the waxy green pads, just lightly resting on the surface of the water.

The semi abstract approach to the leaves on the waterlily pond.

The Waterlily Pond – a closeup

To be honest, I was very attracted by the semi abstract jumble of leaves gently floating. And also, of course the shimmering light and reflections on the water and on the glossy pads themselves. Perhaps you remember that I am working on a theme of the semi abstract in these little gouache pieces. And you can click here to see my painting of a camel at the pyramids in this style. By the way, did you spot any other kind of life in the pond?

The Watercolour Version

A watercolour painting of waterlily leaves, in a small pond.
Waterlily Pond – the watercolour version

Finally, I just couldn’t resist exploring the subject a bit more and I tried a different medium. Frankly, I’m no expert with watercolour, but I do sometimes really love to play with it. Possibly it’s the complete contrast to acrylic paint that I like – wet and flowing rather than thick and textured. Anyway, I think I’m not done yet with this theme. And I looked up some images by Monet yesterday, seeking inspiration. So, watch this space! Meanwhile, here is my acrylic painting of a lily pond, with some more aquatic life!

A Bright Red Abstract Painting

A joyful. bright red abstract in acrylic.  With soft greens and earthy yellow ochre.

Red for Happiness

Good morning everyone. I finished this bright red abstract in acrylic a couple of weeks ago. And I propped it up on the dining table so that I could look at it everyday. Actually, after all that looking, I’m still not sure what it’s all about! Of course, I am aware that it doesn’t have to be ‘about’ anything. However, I do usually have some ideas on the main themes and so on. Strangely, I don’t in this case, but I do remember that I felt calmer and more settled as I was painting. So, maybe that was its significance, to me anyway.

The Bright Red Abstract, an Earlier Version

The bright red abstract as it progressed. This version is turned a quarter to the left.
The Bright Red Abstract, an earlier version

As I might have mentioned before, I do now always rotate the painting round as I’m doing an abstract. To be honest, I used to think that this practice was pointless. But I completely changed my mind and now, I find that it helps me to work on each ‘quarter’ individually. Perhaps you noticed that in the image above, I have turned the painting around. It was in fact the first version of the painting in watercolour. Actually, it’s an important part of the development of the piece. Also, it can help to prevent the artist from inadvertently making it into a realistic scene. For example, a landscape or a group of people. But, for me, the most intriguing thing is how the picture does suggest realistic images. Even after all I do to prevent it! And they always come as a complete surprise!

What Can You See ?

Red is Happiness

Of course, I haven’t talked much about what the viewer sees in this bright, red abstract, which is, of course, very important. So, that’s the deal – I paint it and you make of it what you like! And I hope it makes you feel calmer and more settled too!

As I remember, I wrote a post about red in abstract paintings. Mainly artjournal pages – earlier in lockdown last year. See here.

Incidentally, all my original artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. This one , acrylic on paper and 16 by 12 inches (unframed) is £60 plus shipping. And if you want to treat yourself, go to the Contact Me page and send me an email.

Winter Landscapes, in my Sketchbook

An instinctive,  semi abstract composition of trees in the mist, one of my winter landscapes. In graphite pencil, acrylic and ink.
Trees in the Mist

Good morning everyone. I thought I’d like to share with you some winter landscapes I’ve painted quite recently. In fact, I realized I’d better hurry up, as everyone is now spotlighting the signs of Spring!

Well, the image above is a mixed media piece I did instinctively straight after a short drive in local countryside. As you can see, the mist was fairly thick, and the sun just peeped through briefly in a couple of spots. Actually, I was quite fascinated by the tangle of bare, tree branches looming in and out of focus . And all this against the thick, soupy consistency of the off-white sky.

Closeup of Trees in the Mist

Winter Landscapes – Part One, the Instinctive Semi Abstract

Firstly, I scribbled some trunks, branches and random lines with a graphite pencil. And this gave me very strong marks, just what I wanted. Then, my idea was to lay in shapes in the negative spaces between the branches with acrylic paint. But the paint wouldn’t quite cooperate – I think it’s time I tried water mixable oils! However, I used what I had, sketched in some grasses and so on. Then I put some detail into the tree trunks with sepia ink, applied with a tiny brush.

A Winter Scene – Part Two , the Plein Air Sketch

A quick, en plein air sketch in watercolour.  One of my favourite winter landscapes,  Wentworth Castle Gardens.
Wentworth Castle – the Folly

And this is the other one of my winter landscapes – a watercolour sketch I did en plein air. To be honest, the ‘air’ was very cold! So I spent 20 minutes sketching from life, then painted more layers of washes at home. Again we have the bare branches against the beautiful, subtle greys of the sky. But I hope you can see the difference between the two approaches to the similar subject matter. That is, an impressionistic, imagined painting and an on the spot sketch, staying close to reality. Which style do you think gives a more effective record of a scene?

We often walk in the grounds of Wentworth Castle Gardens (NT) and I love to paint the mock castle here and the other features, such as the rockery, see here if you’d like to enjoy the views.

In the Hot, Dry Desert

In the hot, dry desert, an old shack in the afternoon heat.
In the Outback

Good morning everyone. Well, I must admit that I was quite pleased with the way I painted this acrylic of the hot, dry desert. As you might know, it is another of the projects in the Learn to Paint Academy course I am following. And the photo was taken by Rod Moore (our tutor) when he took a trip into the outback. Apparently, the temperature was rising to 44° on that particular afternoon! So, it really is a good job that I don’t live in Australia. Because I would just melt into a small puddle!

Home in the Hot, Dry Desert.

Closeup of “In the Outback

As I hope you can see, the heat was positively bouncing off the corrugated iron roof. And this derelict old house with chimney, stove and veranda must have provided a refuge from the heat for someone. Actually, I enjoyed painting this scene- it was something different for me, living as I do in rainy Britain. In fact, trying to put some perspective in that expanse of sand was quite a challenge. And when I added the dense areas of shade around the house it was very satisfying.

A Camel – Ship of the Desert?

A Camel waiting for tourists in the Egyptian desert, next to a pyramid. In gouache.
Ship of the desert – photo by Jose Ignacio Pompe on Unsplash

Now, quite by chance, I painted this in gouache paint a couple of weeks ago for my Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. As the theme for the month was Egypt, I chose a photo of a camel and the handler. And they were waiting for tourists who, after a tour of the pyramid site, were eager for a ride into the hot, dry desert.

Obviously, I cropped the photo right down to get a quirky view of the animal. And then, just to complicate matters, I set myself the challenge of painting in an abstract style. To explain, I would treat each shape as a separate block of colour and texture. And, hopefully, I would not distort the sense of the image too much. Just an artistic experiment!

Have a look at this post here to see a different type of desert – “Drylands” , more of a science fiction scene, really.

Looking at the Great Dufy

My study of an abstract painting by the great Dufy.  Showing boats jumbled up in a Mediterranean harbour, with sizzling colours.
My study of Raoul Dufy’s “Boats at Martigues”

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you the study I made of a superb painting by the great Dufy. Actually, I did this while following a good online tutorial run by Art Enthusiasts London. Perhaps you remember my post about making a study of a Paul Klee abstract composition with the same tutor (see here ).

Unfortunately I haven’t got a lot of background about this painting. Raoul Dufy, 1877- 1953, was well known for his colourful paintings, influenced by Matisse, Cezanne and Monet. And I have long admired his bright, elegant scenes of smart seaside resorts in early 20th century France. Obviously here you can see a jumble of boats in the harbour- maybe on the Mediterranean coast.

The S Shaped Composition of the Great Dufy

Just look at how Dufy has simplified the shapes into ovals and straight lines. And then arranged them into a reverse S shaped composition, starting from bottom right and including all the boats. Masterly!

However, we also concentrated on the juxtaposition of the glorious colours the artist decided to use. No doubt they were inspired by the actual real details he could see at the quayside. But he then arranged them for maximum effect on the canvas. For example, he used complimentary colours green and red, blue and orange to make really sizzling combinations. As you can imagine, I found this exercise perfect for me – I don’t call my art activities ‘A World of Colour’ for nothing!

My Dufy Inspired Acrylic Abstract

My abstract composition,  possibly hinting at a coastal scene. Using colours and structure inspired by the great Dufy.
Coastline

To tell you the truth, I was so inspired that I straight away (well next day anyway) started do an intuitive abstract . I had a print-out of the original in front of me for colour reference. And then I just let my hand paint away. But that was stage one. Then came two more sessions adding and subtracting material, balancing shapes and colours. Until the picture said ” I’m finished “. What a satisfying experience!

I hope you like my little tribute to Dufy. And you can see more abstracts in my Gallery here. All my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page here and use the form to email me.

Rainy Day Painting in Acrylic

A dreamy, misty view through the trees to the hills on a rainy day .
Rainy Day

Good morning everyone. I thought I should show you this rainy day painting today. Because it’s part of the online course I’m following and I have painted a couple since this! Anyway, the challenge in this simple scene is how to make all the different shades of green make sense. In fact, our tutor Rod Moore helped us through this by reminding us of the principles of colour perspective.That is, colours in the distance become cooler in the sense that there is more blue in the mix. In practice, the greens further away are greeny blue and those in the foreground are yellowy blue. To be honest, it’s actually much more tricky than it sounds and it involves a lot of careful colour mixing.

The Greens in the Foreground

Rainy Day – a closeup of the foreground grasses

The second big challenge in this acrylic painting is how to convey the idea of rain and dampness in the air. Well, I tried to blur the colours and shapes by using some indistinct brush strokes. But, if you go too far with this, you’re in danger of losing too much detail. And then the scene just looks confusing. So, although the features in the composition are relatively simple (trees, distant hills and a path) it wasn’t easy!

The Distant Hills in my Rainy Day Painting

A close up of the line of hills in the mist of a rainy day.
Rainy Day – a closeup of the hills and the mist

Finally, I hope you can see in this closeup how I indicated damp, misty conditions. In order to do this I brought the pale sky colour over the line of the wooded hills. And this really helped with the illusion of misty dampness I was trying to create. In effect, this is the only view of Australia in the rain that we have painted on the course. For example, take a look at this sun drenched scene here that I painted a few weeks ago.

My Abstract Impression of English Rain

Raindrops on the Window

See this post here for the story behind this picture!

Mood and Atmosphere in Abstracts

An abstract composition,  reminiscent of a bright woodland scene with a paved path to follow. A cheerful mood and atmosphere.
Down the Path

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to talk about mood and atmosphere in intuitive abstracts. And, just to make it clear, by intuitive this is what I mean. Simply that I sit down to paint a smallish abstract work in my art journal. And I don’t have any idea about the colours and shapes I’m going to use in the composition. In other words, I work instinctively. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean to say that I am not influenced by what’s happening around me.

Also, I notice more and more often that I unconsciously choose colours and sometimes styles that I may have admired in other artist’s work. In addition I seem to include the contrasts and textures I have noticed in the natural world. But, as I said before, none of this is by deliberate choice.

Bright Mood and Atmosphere

In this little piece, I think my mood must have been upbeat. Because I went for cheerful yellow and glimpses of blue sky. Then trees and branches popped up so I went with the idea of a forest, one of my favourite motifs, actually. And, although I worked on this by rotating it round all four ways, the path was clearly obvious. So I guess my subconscious was showing me that there’s still a way to go. So, keep on keeping on!

Cheerful Optimism and Determination?

A close up of the paved path, stretching out before you, leading to the sun.
The Path

Incidentally, I wonder if this scene makes you feel the same as me? Because, of course, I have only discussed the intention and reaction of the artist. However, the reaction of the viewer is also very important. And, with a loose work like this, you can interpret it any way you like. I am sometimes quite fascinated when I talk to friends who visit my exhibitions. Naturally, at the moment this is not possible in the real world. Thank goodness I can show you my work virtually like this! And, we have all got to walk down that path a little bit further yet. Stay well.

If you want to see more of my little intuitive abstracts in mixed media, see this post here.

Studying Old Masters – Acrylic Painting

A Study by me of “A Small Rhythmic Landscape by Paul Klee

Good morning everyone. Over the years I have done my fair share of studying old masters, in paint and pencil. In fact, I have always considered it a very useful exercise. And you can learn quite a lot by trying to recreate some of the effects produced by the artist. Actually, this seems to work whether you use the same materials or not. For example the type of paint e.g oils or acrylic, or support (canvas or paper) and so on. In my opinion, there’s always something to be gained by looking closely at the composition, choice of colours and the actual brushstrokes.

And, in my experience, it doesn’t matter which stage you are at in your painting journey. But, the key point is to approach the exercise with the intention to learn . And not to put too much pressure on yourself to paint an exact copy. But it is more enjoyable all round if you choose an artist you admire, or even love! Ok, I confess, I’ve got quite a few ‘ Van Gogh’s ‘ in the archive!

Studying Old Masters – Joachin Sorolla

A study by me of a joyful, bright abstract landscape by Paul Klee with hills, trees and flowers. Studying old masters.
A study by me of ‘ Lowtide – Elena at Biarritz ‘ by Joaquin Sorolla

Well, this is the study I painted in acrylics a few days ago whilst following an online tutorial. Actually, see here for my post on a John Sell Cotman study I completed with this same tutor. To be honest, I’m very fond of this Spanish artist, Joaquin Sorolla, and he is very well-known for painting light. As you can see, I attempted to show the glare of the hot summer sun at the beach. In particular, the extremely subtle play of light on the white cotton material of the young girl’s dress. Admittedly, not an easy task, but it really made me practise mixing slight shifts in tone. And, I will need to improve this skill if I want to progress in my painting. In effect, this is the value in studying old masters.

My Study of Paul Klee’s Abstract Landscape

A study by me of ‘ A Small Rhythmic Landscape ‘ by Paul Klee

Finally, I’d like to show you my study of a fab abstract landscape by Paul Klee. He was a Swiss artist who taught at the famous Bauhaus school of art and design. And I love everything he painted! In order to recreate this work in the class I followed online, we first laid down the grid of lines . As you might imagine, these represent the contours and field boundaries of the land. Then came the fun part. First of all, a soft , hazy background of light brown. Then we treated each section separately using a limited palette of yellow ochre, cobalt blue, crimson, black and white. And the finishing touches were the ‘lollipop’ trees and the tiny flowers.

To sum up, whilst working on this piece, I concentrated on choosing harmonious combinations of the colours obtained from the limited palette. Also, I had to think very carefully about the placement of the features in this tightly controlled composition. If you want to see some of my much less tightly controlled abstracts, see this post here. But, I just love studying like this – an unexpected bonus of having lots of free time at the moment.

Three Mixed Media Abstracts from my Artjournal

A jumble of sharp, jagged shapes and urgent flashes of red - a mixed media abstract showing anxiety and fear.
Jagged

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you the work I’ve been doing in my art journal – some mixed media abstracts. Actually, I’ve continued using this journal since last March, when our first period of lockdown began. To be honest, I turn to it when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. As you can see in the image above, this intuitive abstract composition is quite dark and sombre looking. And there are some spiky shapes and touches of bright red to indicate danger. In fact, I used gouache paint, pencil and pen, and afterwards I felt much better!

An Experimental Mixed Media Abstract

Yellow and Grey

This drawing above is a good example of how I also use my journal to experiment with different techniques. As you can see, here I limited myself to lemon yellow and medium grey. Because I wanted to create a piece for a challenge in the Triwing Challenge group on Mewe. In truth, I would probably never have chosen this combination of colours. But it was very enjoyable and concentrated my mind on texture. You see, I had seen some fab work online with really densely applied layers. And, I used pencil, marker and oil pastel in this drawing. There’s a great freedom in scribbling in a journal. In addition, it’s therapeutic too!

A compact,crowded abstract composition of organic shapes in orange, yellow and dark green.
New Style Abstract

Finally, I’m quite proud of this little painting/ drawing. For, I tried a new style – a composition centred in the middle of the paper, with lots of white paper showing. Obviously, it’s quite different to my usual style which completely covers the space on the paper. And I tried adding graphic marks on top of acrylic paint with markers and biros. Watch out, I feel a series of mixed media abstracts coming on!

If you would like to see more Lockdown Artjournal experiments, see here and here.

A Covid Art Journal – Work in Progress

Good Day – Bad Day

Hello everyone. I’d like to tell you all about the Covid art journal we are putting together. When I say we, I mean the Rotherham Roar group of artists that I am a member of. Obviously, we have not been able to hold our meetings in person since March now. And, as for the exhibition we were planning to put on together, that’s been put on hold. However, we’ve been meeting on Zoom. And we decided to make a record of our feelings during this strange time. For most people this has taken the form of work on paper in a sketchbook.

My Contribution to the Covid Art Journal

A bright , cheerful abstract gouache painting. My Covid art journal page.
Good Day

This is the first half of my double page spread. You see, I decided to highlight the way my mood fluctuates from one day to the next. So here we have ‘Good Day ‘ and it shows optimism, hopefully. Perhaps this day the sun is shining and I’ve been out for a walk in the fresh air. And I’ve been counting my blessings and feeling confident that things will work out well. To explain, I tried to show the beauty of the world and hope for a bright future.

The Second Half of my Pandemic Art Journal Contribution

A dark, sinister abstract with spiky shapes,  dark shadows and uncomfortable contrasts of colour. Showing the mood of a bad day for my page in the Covid art journal.
Bad Day

As you can tell, this gouache painting represents those unhappy feelings that we have probably all experienced recently. To be honest, I had fairly sad things on my mind when I painted this . And I tried to show this in the spiky shapes, gloomy shadows and uncomfortable atmosphere of the piece. Anyway, that’s enough of doom and gloom for the moment. But, I must admit that the situation and free time has given me the opportunity to do a lot of creative work. So, it’s not all bad!

Some Happy Pages from my Own Covid Art Journal

Under the Sea
Cheerful

This mixed media piece ‘ Cheerful ‘ was painted back in March, and it certainly cheered me up at the time ! You might like to have a look at more of my art journal ideas here .

See myThree Art Journal Abstracts

Frantic

Hello everyone. This morning I’d like to show you some of the art journal abstracts that I’ve been painting over the past week or so. My art journal has been such a lifeline to me during the pandemic. For example, when I felt that everything was beyond my control, I would turn to my journal. Then I would grab the nearest materials to hand and just randomly create. Invariably, I would have some precious time engrossed in painting or drawing and not dwelling on problems. And , afterwards, I would feel better !

The Ceramics Patterns One

A softly coloured,  calming abstract composition in watercolour and gouache.  Muted palette of green, gold purple and fawn. One of my art journal abstracts.
Patterns

I painted this one above very quickly in watercolour and gouache. Actually, it was only afterwards that I realised how much I had been influenced by the beautiful ceramics on display at Cannon Hall. In fact, I can also see echoes of the colours in the pieces – soft green, gold, purple and fawn. As it happens, that’s quite an attractive combination of colours to inspire feelings of calm, I think.

The Ink Drop Art Journal Abstract

A chaotic jumble of shapes, half glimpsed figures and patterns in orange and red acrylic inks, fineliner and watercolour wash. One of my art journal abstracts.
Frantic

To tell you the story behind this picture, I had watched an interesting documentary about the British artist Maggie Hambling. And she explained how, every morning she sat down and ‘ doodled ‘ or scribbled very quick sketches using acrylic inks. Interestingly, without pen or brush – just moving the ink around with the dropper in the bottle. But, as she explained, this was an exercise to loosen up before spending the rest of the day painting. As you can see, my small abstract clearly reflects my agitated state of mind ! However, I really enjoyed the process, especially adding marker and watercolour afterwards. So, having a sketchbook and a few art materials handy enables me to follow any inspiration straight away and on the spot ! ( The dining table, actually )

The Graphite Mark Making One

Making Marks

Obviously, my mind was still running on pattern in this one. But I had also been looking at art blogs online where people had been experimenting with pencil and marker. So, I had a go and, I must say, it was very soothing to do. And, I quite like the black and white movement around the page in this example of my art journal abstracts. Well, that’s another reason to keep an art journal – a little safe space to experiment and practice different media and techniques. And I was also quite pleased with some of the collage that I experimented with in my journal. See here – my underwater scene. To be honest, my journal is almost full up, but I’ve got another one, all ready in the wings and waiting to be put to good use!

Curved shapes in Acrylic Abstract Painting

An abstract composition, soft organic  shapes in coral contrasted with interlinking lines in teal.
Trapped

Hello everyone. This morning I thought I’d like to show you the latest in my series of acrylic abstracts. And this one, yet again is largely made up of curved shapes. Perhaps you can see in this painting how I was influenced by the present situation. In a sense, you could interpret it as organic creatures confined behind the mesh structure. Possibly a reflection of lockdown ? But, that’s not the whole story. To be honest, I was also thinking about my ‘stained glass ‘ theme which I was developing a few months ago. And, as you can see, I really got carried away with the beauty of the soft, amorphous coral coloured masses . And, what a glorious contrast they make against the teal blue.

More Curved Shapes

Curved Shapes in Gouache

This is just a quick doodle in gouache – part of my experiments to understand how to handle the paint. However, I was struck by the fact that I automatically draw rounded shapes, inspired by nature or imagination . Very rarely do I want to include many geometric or straight edge shapes in my compositions. And , I must admit, I do sometimes feel out of step with the modern trend in abstract painting . Because it seems to be composed of squares, rectangles, angles and straight edges. In fact, the very opposite of my soft, curved shapes !

The First Big Rounded Abstract

Breakthrough  - an abstract composition in yellow, gold and vibrant blue.
Breakthrough

I wonder if you remember this one from July this year ? Actually, this is the one that set me off on my mission to go larger with my round, gestural shapes. If you want to see more of the story behind this acrylic abstract see here .

Art for Sale

Trapped – in Coral and Teal

But, to go back to the star of the show, this painting is now for sale ! It’s in acrylic on paper, 16 by 20 inches, unframed. And, it’s at the very reasonable price of £60 plus shipping . I’m based in the UK and you can pay by PayPal. So, just go to the Contact page here and send me an email. Then you can have this in your home and look at it and lose yourself in the calm, comfortable, soothing atmosphere.