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!

A Canal Scene in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in muted colours of a canal scene. A lock and a lock keepers cottage.
A Canal Scene

Hello everyone. This is my canal scene, a recent acrylic painting that I did while following an online tutorial by Care Visions. Actually, the teaching by the tutor John Skelcher was very good. And, it was free, so that can’t be bad! To be honest, my natural style of painting is not usually this realistic. On the contrary, I like to take a more loose approach and slightly impressionistic. Really, I do find it very difficult to describe my own painting style. But, on this occasion I found it very helpful to follow the instructions and paint like John! Or, at least, to paint in the style he adopted for the tutorial.

A Canal Scene in a Muted Palette

As you can see, the colours we used are quite toned down – the buildings in cream and brown. And a pale, unobtrusive sky, with brownish green trees in the background. However, I did manage to indulge my love of colour by painting some vivid greens in the foreground. But, I must admit that this restricted palette is very effective. Perhaps it’s a better representation of the actual canal scene than my usual highly saturated, intense colour choices would give? Hmm, something to think about here! Just have a look here at this post of some really monochrome paintings.

I’d like to to pass on to you a good tip that John gave us. Just don’t worry about not having an in depth knowledge of a subject when you’re painting. If you can reproduce the shapes of the elements of a scene fairly accurately, that will suffice. Hopefully the viewers eye will recognise the objects because of the surroundings. And, that’s just as well, for I know nothing at all about lockgates! Apologies to any canal experts!

More Houses by the Water

A bright, vivid painting of the view across the lake to some houses  on the hill.
Cusworth Hall

Finally, by way of contrast, this is an acrylic painting that I did a couple of years ago. And, as you can see, here I gave full rein to my enthusiasm for bright colours. In my defence, I must point out that it was a beautiful, sunny winter’s day. And the water and the grass sang out to me. So, no muting in sight! Admittedly, I can now see several bits that I could improve. Maybe I will! Because, I am quite fond of this painting. Perhaps a before and after version would show me the modest improvements I am making. So, the practice and studying are all worthwhile. And that’s good to know!

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!

Painting Portraits in Acrylic and Watercolour

Painting portraits- this is a face from my imagination,  painted in subtle shades of green and yellow.
A Green Man

Good morning everyone. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about painting portraits. As you can see, for this one I took the slightly unconventional idea of deliberately not using flesh coloured paint . And I used watercolour which is not as forgiving as acrylic. So I had to think carefully about where I placed the brush strokes. Actually, I wanted a chance to practise using tones to model the flesh, something I learnt on an online tutorial. And, because I didn’t use skin tones like pink , orange and brown, this allowed me to be a bit detached. Probably because I could just treat the task like a problem to be solved, instead of wanting to create a lifelike portrait. Anyway, I had a go, my watercolour skills are a bit basic, I know. On the other hand, I do feel like I learnt something from the exercise.

Painting portraits and modelling the flesh

Painting portraits and making a tribute to artist Mary Cassatt. A beautiful,  red haired woman.
My version of a portrait by Mary Cassatt

Although I haven’t quite finished this portrait, this was the exercise I did during a tutorial hosted by Care Visions. In fact, I found it very helpful and the tutor John Skelcher skillfully guided us through the process. First of all, we sketched and checked that the proportions of the face were reasonably correct. Next we painted the face and neck with a mid tone. And then I added darker paint for shadowy areas and lighter colours for highlights. Finally I understood what I was trying to do, instead of adding too many shades and colours!

Incidentally, there was one other challenge in this session – we had to use the ‘ Zorn’ palette. Just to explain, an artist called Anders Zorn (1860 – 1920) made this choice of colours famous when he created his superb portraits in oils. For your information, the restricted palette consists of red, yellow ochre and black, with white allowed too. You could try it out — it’s amazing how many colour mixes you can create with this combination.

Drawing Faces on Toned Paper

A drawing of a man in red-brown pencil and white pastel on light brown paper.
Portrait in sepia pencil

Well, just to finish off with, in this portrait exercise, I used sepia pencil for the darker tones. Then the fawn coloured paper itself for the mid tones and white pastel for the highlights. Honestly, it sounds very simple, I know, but it’s taken me years to understand it!

By the way, I made this study with the aid of a photo provided by the tutor. Whereas, the first image I showed you – the green man – I created from my imagination. Because I’ve been studying the proportions of the face recently, I think I’ve managed to improve at this. And I made the painting look a bit like a real person! (Even though the eyes are not quite right!) If you want to see my baby angel portraits, see here for my tribute to Raphael.

Mountains and High Hills in Acrylic

An acrylic painting- a view of mountains and high hills in Australia,  with pasture and shearing sheds in the foreground.
The Shearing Sheds

Good morning everyone. I love painting mountains and high hills. And this is my latest acrylic painting for the online course I’m following. As you can see, it’s a beautiful view over to a craggy peak in Australia. And in the foreground there is some rough pasture and a couple of shearing sheds. Admittedly, I didn’t know what the buildings were until our tutor Rod made it clear. To be honest, I’m quite out of my comfort zone with some of these scenes, having no personal knowledge of the country. But, I love the challenge! (My apologies for the fuzzy picture – that’s the last painting on poor paper, because I’ve acquired something better now!)

Mountains and High Hills in Home Territory

A view of a track winding through Pennine hills , a stark, bleak landscape.
The Path through the Hills

Actually, you may have seen this painting before, if you follow my blog. Because I posted it in December last year. And I explained how I altered the lie of the land and the colour emphasis. So that it was more reminiscent of the Pennine Hills in Yorkshire. Of course, these are really high hills and they can be very bleak and devoid of much vegetation. In fact, in sharp contrast to the thickly wooded peaks in the Australian landscapes. But we are encouraged to make the paintings our own, so that’s ok! If you look closely, I have even added a gorse bush, a spikey shrub that grows delicious little yellow blossoms in Spring.

Imaginary Mountains

Mountains and high hills , green in the valley and snow on the peaks.
A Mountain View

Finally, this is an acrylic painting of a view that I made up in my head. And, that’s quite an achievement for me, as my visual imagination is not that strong. But I tried here to show how the highest peaks in a mountainous landscape can remain snow capped for a lot of the year. Also, here I experimented with applying the acrylic with a palette knife. However, I found it very difficult as the paint dries very quickly. But I’d like to try again – does anyone have a tip for this?

As usual, I’ll just remind you that all my original art is for sale at reasonable prices. Just have look at my Gallery- Landscapes here and if you like what you see, visit my Contact Me page here . And send me an email.

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.

New Beginnings – a Story Picture

A fantasy scene of a lonely figure  about to set off on a new path, leaving her old life behind for new beginnings.  An acrylic painting.
A Different Path

Good morning everyone. Well, I thought I would show you this story picture all about new beginnings. Actually, the reason why I held back was that I never really felt that I had finished it. Just to wind back a bit, I went into this project quite blindly. To be honest, for the first time ever, I painted this narrative painting quite intuitively. And all I knew was that I wanted to do something with the idea of making a new start. Probably I started thinking about this after hearing stuff on the radio about the recovery from the pandemic . Apparently, this might be an ideal time to rethink the way we run our world.

How to Create a Story Picture on New Beginnings (Badly !)

Firstly, I sketched in a lonely figure and then I imagined surroundings that don’t quite look familiar. Next, I added a moody sky to set a slightly threatening atmosphere.Then I painted various elements like luxuriant plants, a stony path and a mysterious castle. Finally, I changed everything around, including the type of foliage, the sky and the colour scheme! In fact, I wouldn’t recommend this process at all!

An earlier version of the story picture with a stronger, moodier atmosphere.  New  Beginnings for this young woman.
A Different Path – one of the earlier versions

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get photos of all the different attempts I made to improve the composition. And I painted them all in acrylic paint on the same tired old piece of paper! Well, at least I taught myself to understand the importance of planning a complex composition in advance. Even if I chose the hard way to learn!

What’s the Story?

A Different Path – a closeup

Anyway, I eventually chose this version, I don’t think I could give the paper any more punishment! But, all the time I was painting I was thinking of fresh starts and a chance to break out of the old rut. And, I wonder if other people are having the same thoughts as me right now. So, what do you think this woman’s story is?

Incidentally, I have some other interesting story pictures in my Gallery here. For example, you might like to see the enigmatic Silk Princess here or the Green Knight in his rocky church here .

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.

Painting Faces in Acrylic Paint

Painting faces. Two sweet cherubs, with small feathered wings, resting in rose pink and deep purple clouds,my study of Raphael's painting.
My Study of Raphael’s Cherubs

Good morning everyone. Well, I decided it was time to take the plunge and try painting faces! And I’m sure that lots of you will be familiar with this image taken from Raphael’s beautiful work. Because you do see it everywhere, on cards, tea towels, diaries and so on.

Raphael (1483- 1520) was an Italian painter and architect in the Renaissance period. In fact, he was very successful in his own lifetime. And he painted the little angels on this commissioned Madonna and child painting in 1512. As you can see, the clouds are not the same colour as in our Valentine’s Day version!

The Sistine Madonna by Raphael

Raphael's Sistine Madonna, a superb painting showing Mary and Jesus, two saints and the two adorable cherubs at the bottom of the picture.

As you can see, in this superb painting by Raphael, the scene shows us Mary, Jesus, two saints and the baby angels waiting and dreaming.

Anyway, I painted this study whilst following along with a free tutorial, hosted by Artclassesgroup. Actually, the tuition was very good and the tutor guided us through completing the angelic cherub on the left. You see, the session was only one hour long, so that, plus a bit of background was good going.Then I spent another hour and added the baby cherub on the right.

Half Finished Cherubs

The Three Stages of Painting Faces

Obviously, I was most interested in painting the faces, something I have tried to avoid in my painting practice. And that’s because it seems to me to be the most difficult subject of all. Fortunately, the tutor cleverly simplified it down and we were able to follow. To be honest, it had never occurred to me to treat the face like anything else I paint. So, firstly we mixed a reasonable flesh colour and covered the face in a mid tone. Then we darkened that colour mix and applied patches of colour for shadows. Lastly, (you’ve guessed it) we lightened the first mid tone and painted highlights, on the nose, forehead and so on.

Painting the Clouds

A close up of Raphael's cherubs - part of my painting faces project.
My study of Raphael’s cherubs

After all the careful brushstrokes of the faces, it was a real pleasure to let myself go and paint clouds! Not only were the colours so delicious, but also the subject really lent itself to expressive marks.And I enjoyed trying to create the fluffy texture of the wings too!

Painting faces- a close of my study of Raphael's baby angel.
A Cherub Resting on a Bed of Clouds

In all, I spent another hour to finish this and I would thoroughly recommend this exercise. Because there’s such a lot to be learnt from studying the work of great painters. And if you want to see how I painted my own version of a delightful abstract by Paul Klee see this post here.

English Cottages in Acrylic and Watercolour

English cottages- this one is a grand house beside a large, beautiful pond. Semi-abstract style.
The Red House by the Pond

Good morning everyone. Last week I took advantage of two free tutorials online and I painted English cottages. Although this one looks to be rather a grand cottage. Of course, the location of it is superb, right next to a tranquil pond. You see, Artclassesgroup is the name of the host, and the classes took place over our school half term week. Although, to be honest, a lot of children in the UK are at home anyway right now. But, nonetheless, the group provided some good activities which were designed to interest all ages, including adults like me!

The Reflections of the Cottage

Closeup of the Water and the Reflection

As you can probably tell, I painted this in acrylic and fairly rapidly too (the class was only one hour long, but I spent another hour on it as well). Actually, I felt out of my comfort zone using this colour palette, which can be a good thing. Also I enjoyed learning a different way of depicting reflections. In this case, I roughly painted the shape of the cottage, let it dry and then very lightly brushed over the greeny blue colour of the water. Then, when that was dry, I applied some fine ripples in dryish white paint, to show the flow of the water. And all the time, I was wondering about who lived there. And I imagined being able to gaze out over that delicious view every morning, as I opened the curtains.

English Cottages in Watercolour

This white English cottage is beside a river, running through a beautiful valley. Watercolour in realistic style.
The House down by the River

And now for something completely different! In my opinion, this delicate watercolour in more realistic colours and detailed style contrasts well with the first painting. Obviously, the acrylic painting had dramatic, heightened colours and a fairly abstract brushstroke treatment. However, they are both English cottages near the water. Well, I painted this one while I was following a good tutorial hosted by Care Visions Healthy Aging group. Incidentally, I have done a few lessons with this group, including this girl on the beach here , a tribute to Joachim Sorolla. But, to return to my watercolour, here I tried to include realistic detail (not my usual style, but good practice).

Closeup of the House by the River

Although my brushstrokes are only suggestions, I have shown quite a lot of detail in the shutters, the garden shrubs and the gate. Again, what an idyllic, peaceful place to live! So, there’s some more virtual travelling for us, and I hope you enjoyed it!

If you want to see a more humble style of cottage, have a look at this post here. Then you’ll see the miner dressed in his Sunday best too!

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!

Little Hand Painted Cards or Prints?

Two blooms on a gold background,  one of my hand painted cards.
Blue Flower Card

Good morning everyone. Today I thought I’d show you two little hand painted cards I made a couple of weeks ago. Well I had been looking at YouTube and thought I could try it out. The flower is just intuitively painted, but the challenge for me was the tiny size of the paper. In fact, only three and a half inches by five. And that’s tiny for me! Also, the other technique I tried out here was to put down the background first, something I never do. Actually, there’s gold paint on here too, to give the whole thing a bit of sparkle. But, you maybe can’t pick that out on the screen.

The sunflower, another of my hand painted cards.

A bold, graphic sunflower on a dreamy, blue and white background.  One of my hand painted cards.
The Sunflower Card

To be honest, I love painting flowers, especially the ones I pick from my own garden – see here . But I made this one up – not something I do often, because my visual imagination is quite poor.

Any way, I practised laying down a background first and this one was in watercolour wash with a subtle design in white pen. If I remember correctly, the flower itself was in acrylic. To tell you the truth, often when I’m doing mixed media, I grab anything on my workspace. It all gets added to the mix, then I forget what I used!

The Printed Card

Looking down on a fish pond, just catching a glimpse of several fish rising to the top. One of my printed cards.
The Fish Pond

Finally, do you prefer the hand painted cards or the print? This is one I had printed last year from an acrylic painting of carp rising to the surface of the water to be fed. Actually, my intention was to try to show the bodies of the fish covered by a thin film of water. As I recall, the theme of our Art Society project was ‘Under Water’. Undoubtedly, the cards made by hand are more special, but I have found that people also really appreciate a print. Fortunately, you don’t have to make your mind up. Because you can just do both!

Happy Monday!

If you want to see more flowers, have a look at my gallery here . And, don’t forget, if you find anything you like, go to the Contact Me page on the menu and send me an email. Because, everything is for sale at reasonable prices!

Mountain Studies in Acrylic

Good morning everyone. This is the first of a little series of studies from the online course I’m enrolled on. Actually, I’ve been wanting to paint these mountain studies for a while, but my other projects kept getting in the way! For example, here is the post on dogs for my MeWe gouache group . And here is my work on old masters with Care Visions Healthy Aging . Incidentally these classes are free. So you can see I have been busy!

Mountain Studies

Four studies of mountain landscapes

Here is the full sheet of small studies from a module in the course covering landscape features. And, you might remember that I have already completed the sections on skies and trees. Incidentally, I must say that this is a very useful exercise even though I don’t enjoy doing it as much as painting a whole picture.

A simple mountain view, showing ranges of peaks, in tones of blue.
Mountain Ranges

We began with a vista of mountain ranges unfolding increasingly nearer to the viewer. Admittedly, the acrylic sketch is pretty basic. But the main teaching point was to show aerial perspective by using darker and lighter tones . This makes the faraway peaks look distant and the nearer ones look close. Easy peasy ( when someone explains it to you! )

Mountains with grassy slope in foreground

If you look closely, you can see that I have tried to show how the background hills recede.But the grassy slope although nearer is still a good distance away. In fact, I indicated this by the cool tones of the green. I need more practice here, I think! Please try not to get too distracted by the poor quality paper. ( Note to self : Use the best. )

Alpine Mountain Studies in Acrylic

Snow capped Alpine peaks in blue and white - one of my mountain studies.
Alpine Peaks

Now, this was the fun part! To be honest, I had never tried to paint high peaks and had thought it was too difficult. However, I’m quite pleased with this attempt. And I learnt how to describe form using a dark tone for deep shadow, a dull blue white for the shady side of the snow. And, finally, a brilliant white for the sunlit peaks.

The Rocky Outcrop

A lovely Australian landscape showing a rocky outcrop of red stone - one of my mountain studies.
The Crags

Lastly, a lovely scene of a rocky outcrop, in an Australian landscape where the rock is a strong red colour. Actually, the crags were the challenge in this study and I achieved them using a dragging motion of the brush. And then I modelled them with lighter and darker tones of the sandstone colour.

As you can see, I did learn a lot in this section and I do really appreciate the tutor – Rod Moore of the Learn to Paint Academy. So much so that I was exhausted after it and had to have a rest! Now, back to painting whole landscapes.

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.

More Dog Portraits – Gouache and Acrylic

A South American bush dog, forelegs on a fallen tree in the forest. On lookout.
A Bush Dog in the Forest

Good morning everyone. This strange creature is a bush dog, found in South America. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it either. But I was researching ” Canines ” for a challenge we had been set in my Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. And I found this fab photo by Gaynor Lewis – thank you Gaynor! In fact, I rarely paint dog portraits but I do enjoy it when I do. Anyway, this member of the canine family has a bear shaped head and webbed feet. As you might expect, they hunt in packs, but, more unusually, they ambush their prey in rivers and streams.

A Bush Dog, a Close up.

Obviously, I did my little painting for the group in gouache paint. Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of work in acrylic lately for another one of my art projects. ( See here for my latest Australian landscape). But , I soon got into the swing of it and I really love the almost chalky textural marks you can create. In addition, this seems tailor made for the rough coat of a wild dog with all the gradations of colour.

One of my Acrylic Dog Portraits

A big, strong dog in the snow. A head and shoulders pose - one of my dog portraits
A Dog in the Snow.

Finally, I couldn’t finish this post without showing you one of the dog portraits that I did a couple of years ago with my tutor. Unfortunately, this group was disbanded but, nothing lasts for ever and I was lucky enough to learn such a lot with this teacher. This is acrylic paint and it’s much easier to work with than gouache. For instance, I could have as many attempts as I liked to portray the shaggy coat! The tilt of the head was a challenge, but Simon helped me to make a reasonable job of the nose and the tongue advancing out of the picture. Happy days – painting all day long with good company and a great teacher!

If you missed my other post on painting dogs, see here

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