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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Through the Trees – Recent Paintings

An acrylic painting of a warm, sunny landscape  - through the trees, looking at the light of the sun.
Afternoon Sunlight

Good morning everyone. Yesterday I was having a look at all the paintings I’ve been doing since last March. And I noticed that quite a few of them feature light shining through the trees. For example, the image above is my latest acrylic done for the online course I’m following. To tell you the truth, I just love the way the shadow of the trees is laid down in stripes with the rays of the late afternoon sun.

Cheerful

In contrast, I did this intuitive abstract in mixed media back in March. You see, that was when our first lockdown started in the UK and things seemed very black. Actually, this was one of the earliest pages I completed in the journal I started. And this really did help me through. As you can see, I instinctively went for a sunlit view through the trees. Nothing was planned beforehand and afterwards I even wrote the word ” cheerful ” on the page to reinforce the optimistic message.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel, Through the Trees

A story picture.  A figure looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel, through the trees in a primeval forest.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel

And finally, I painted this acrylic canvas last April, when we were beginning to talk hopefully about vaccines . In fact, this was the third piece in a triptych telling the story of how the world has been altered by the human race – see this post here if this interests you. ( I subsequently added another two chapters to this story to give it a really happy ending! ) And, I must say, I have continued to paint around the subject of light shining through trees right up until now. But, I’ll save that for another post!

All of my work is for sale. So, if you like what you see, have a look in my Gallery page, and then go to the Contact page to have a chat (by email).

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.

Painting in Monochrome in Acrylic and Watercolour

Sunday Best

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you some of the monochrome paintings I have done. To be honest, I haven’t actually done a lot of painting in monochrome. But I have done loads of drawings in pencil and charcoal and some of the principles are the same. Just to be clear, monochrome means using one colour only. However, you can create all the different tones of colour to create form and perspective. Of course, this is done by adding water to watercolour and white paint to acrylic to make the original colour progressively lighter. ( I’m sure some of you know this already!)

Painting in Monochrome – a Welsh Valley

A watercolour painting in sepia tones. A beautiful, tranquil landscape of brooding Welsh hills, the valley and the river. After John Sell Cotman.
A Valley in Wales, after John Sell Cotman

Well, this is a watercolour exercise I painted this week , following an online tutorial. We were advised to use sepia coloured paint or ink. But the artist himself used black ink, back in the 19th century and it has since faded to a pleasing soft brown . In fact, I mixed burnt umber and ultramarine blue to create a faded sepia look . As we were doing a study of this master’s work, we gridded up the page to copy the composition. Incidentally, this simple scene is really quite complex!

A close up of the bridge and the cattle

The different tones of the hills and trees were carefully mixed , copying the artistic decisions of the artist. Actually, I really enjoyed the experience but I must just mention how much I struggled with the paper – supposedly a good quality one . But I found that the colour wouldn’t lift off at all and also , it ran down in strange vertical lines! And now the painting pad has been firmly placed in the ‘scrap paper’ pile!

A Nostalgia Painting in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in monochrome, faded tones of brown. A man standing proudly outside his cottage in his Sunday best clothes.
Sunday Best

Finally, here’s one from the archives, inspired by an old photo from a local mining museum. This worker stands proudly outside his humble cottage in his Sunday best clothes. As you can imagine, I was well inside my comfort zone with this acrylic painting, making all my own artistic decisions . And, I’m pleased to say that this nostalgic painting went to a new home last year. But, of course, I have plenty more artwork for sale in my gallery here

Painting Dogs in Gouache and Acrylic Paint.

Painting Dogs  - a gouache portrait of a South African wild dog. His coat is patterned with irregular splotches of colour,  good camouflage in the grassland.
A Wild Dog – photo by Moragh Dann

Hello everyone. This is my attempt at a wild dog in South Africa . To be honest, I haven’t really spent much time painting dogs and so, I don’t have a good idea about how the body fits together. Therefore, I was very reliant on the photo, taken by Moragh Dann. Moragh tells us that these dogs are very shy and rarely seen. Also, they are on the endangered species list, so that makes encounters like this all the more precious.

Wild Dog

Firstly, I started off with a detailed pencil drawing, not something that I do often. But, I have found that since joining the Beginner Gouache Group on Mewe, I find myself working a lot more carefully. And I think the paintings are much more like illustrations too.Just to explain, our theme this month is ‘Canines’, so I was really taken with this photo.

Actually, I have been working a lot on acrylic paintings for my online course with Rod Moore (see here ) . So, coming back to gouache paint required a shift in method. The gouache paint doesn’t really dry like acrylic. Consequently, you have to use a much lighter touch when applying layers of paint so that the layer underneath doesn’t rewet. Because then it would blend in with the new layer and create a lovely mud colour!

Painting Dogs- the Face

Painting Dogs – the Face

In my opinion, this is the tricky bit. Well, you can get along ok with the ears and eyes, if you have a good photo ( which I did ). But when it comes to the muzzle, it’s quite difficult to show that the nose and mouth jut forward. Happily, at this point I did remember my classes with a tutor a few years back. And I managed to indicate a bit of foreshortening with subtle brush strokes. Hopefully, I captured a little bit of the proud, alert stance of the dog. After that, I tried to sort out the tangle of limbs in this seated pose. And, the most straight forward element of the scene – the blurry, parched grassland was soon sketched in with soft sandy colours.

A Dog in the Snow – Acrylic Paint.

Painting dogs - an acrylic portrait of a young husky dog with a thick winter coat, waiting in the snow for the off.
A Young Husky Dog

And now, for something completely different! With reference to the art classes I mentioned earlier, I painted this snow scene a few years ago. As you may be able to tell, this is painted in my favourite medium, acrylic paint. It’s much more forgiving and will allow as many revisions as necessary. In fact, I do remember enjoying the process of layering on the texture of the animal’s fur and the deep snow. But, I shall still continue to experiment with gouache, because I love a challenge! If you want to have a little look at the work I have done in gouache paint, see here .

The Quiet Stream – an Acrylic Painting

An acrylic painting of a New Zealand  landscape - The Quiet Stream.
A Quiet Stream

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful and full of possibilities for us all. To be honest, I don’t usually bother with resolutions. But I do intend to work hard this year studying on the online course in acrylic painting that I’m following. And this painting is one of the pieces I just completed – A Quiet Stream. But before I talk about this in detail. I’ll show you some of the studies I painted with the Moore Method of Painting.

Tree Studies

A study of eucalyptus trees in full summer leaf , as later painted in my The Quiet Stream picture.
Tree Study – Eucalyptus

Hopefully, you can see some of the detail on this. To explain, here I concentrated on giving 3d shape to the clusters of leaves and the trunks by using tones. That is, dark, medium and light shades of green.

Tree Study – Pine, Cypress and Willow

In this study, I used a fan brush for the first time. You see, I created the pine and cypress branches by holding the brush so that only the top part of one edge was touching the paper. And, yes, I found that as hard to do as it sounds! Well, for me anyway! Admittedly, it does give a very feathery effect that you couldn’t really produce with a plain brush.

A study in acrylic paint - birch trees in winter with traces of snow on the trunks.
Tree Study – Birch

Happily, I was more in my comfort zone with this one. Because I have more visual memories of winter trees, and touches of snow. And, sometimes, I feel a bit more challenged with the Australian landscape subjects that our tutor Rod Moore demonstrates so well. However, I did experiment in this study with using the edge of a square shaped palette knife to lay down the lighter marks on the tree trunks. Perhaps I might try this technique on another painting. ( I applied the dark green background simply to show off the effect of the white markings.)

Tree Study – Palms

In this last study, I used the fan brush again, this time to create the fronds of long thin leaves that make up the foliage. Well, I tried, but I definitely need more practice!

A New Zealand Landscape

The Quiet Stream

Actually, I am pleased with this acrylic painting and , I think I did a reasonable job of bringing to life this quiet stream, meandering through a little valley in my friend’s photo of New Zealand. In fact, the teaching in the demonstrations must have stayed in my mind and resurfaced in the techniques I used here.

Painting Techniques I have used in The Quiet Stream

For example, if you saw my post on painting a waterlily pond here , that’s where I learned how to convey the idea of reflections and paint credible looking leaves floating on the surface. In addition, the teaching about adjusting the tones of the greens in the trees to suggest recession (distance ) gave me more confidence. Have a look at this post here for more examples. Of course this task is made easier by keeping to a restricted palette, as my teacher suggests. All this benefit, plus , it’s fun too! For your information, I shall do regular updates on my journey through this programme of study. And , if that doesn’t help me to stick to my New Year’s resolution, I don’t know what will!

Christmas Robin in Oil Pastel

Christmas Robin

Well, folks, it’s nearly here, so I thought I’d show you my Christmas Robin. In fact, this is the second version and I did enter them both into the Birdmas challenge. It was hosted by the Triwing Art Challenge blog on Mewe. Honestly, the artwork presented for this fun project was first class – Draw Twelve Birds for Christmas. And, I’m pleased to report that I did complete it in twelve days, running from December 1st till Dec 12th!

Robin in a Thorn Tree

So, here’s version one- a quick watercolour sketch in my art journal. And the super photo I used for inspiration was taken in my daughter in law’s garden. You see, she loves feeding the birds who visit and some of them become quite tame, like this lovely little Christmas robin.

The Abstracted Version of my Christmas Robin.

A Christmas robin,  drawn in oil pastel,  perching on a little branch in a thorn tree.
The Christmas Robin

After I had drawn a couple of straight up, realistic birds, I suddenly felt that I wanted to branch out a bit and use my imagination a bit more. So I drew this alternative version, and really enjoyed myself! Because I chose oil pastels from the very first sketch , I knew the lines would be a bit unpredictable. But, that’s ok – I really did want to create a loose drawing. So, this is my Christmas card to you – have a good one, in the circumstances, that is .

The Crazy Bird

A quick sketch in acrylic  marker.  Drawn from my imagination,  a bird in green and red feathers with a crest on its head, to keep my Christmas Robin company.
The Crazy Bird

Finally, here is my ten minute, acrylic marker crazy bird, created purely to cheer us all up! If you want to see more of the birds I painted for the challenge, see here and here.

A Moorland Scene in Acrylic

In the Hills

Hello everyone. I’ve been busy working on two more projects from the Acrylic Painting course I’m following on line. But, before I tell you about the painting above- the moorland scene, I’d like to describe the first exercise I did. It was studies of skies, as part of a module on landscape features. Actually, I found it very helpful to concentrate on this subject as I have found this difficult to do. And, to be honest, I have more or less limited myself to simple sunny or overcast skies in the past. So, taking up the challenge to paint sunrise and sunset was, for me, both daunting and encouraging at the same time!

A hint of the sunrise behind a headland in a calm seascape.
Sunrise
The sun setting in a blaze of glory over a moorland scene.
Sunset

Admittedly, these little paintings are only studies, not finished works. And I had never chosen this subject before, but I felt quite pleased with my first attempt. Then, I tried my hand at clouds, something I had often included in my landscape paintings. However, by taking advantage of my tutor’s advice, Rod Moore of the Learn to Paint Academy, my clouds looked much more convincing!

Clouds in the Sky

Our final study addressed the problematic subject of heavy storm clouds and driving rain. Of course, I will need to practice this much more to improve, but, at least, I will now know how to approach it.

The Storm

A Moorland Scene

A moorland scene in acrylic,  showing a lovely path through the hills, in the north of England.
In the Hills

And now to the best bit – a landscape painting of a moorland scene. Well, to tell you the truth, the image provided was a view over Australian countryside, looking over to a mountain range. But, as we were encouraged to use the method and, also, paint the landscape we were familiar with, that’s what I did! You see, a short drive from where I live, there are moorland hills like these, with plenty of footpaths. So, I just imagined a walk in the hills and tried to convey the atmosphere of an English summer’s day. In fact, changing the colours and the vegetation whilst keeping the features and the tones was a bit mind boggling. But, I expect I’ll get better with practice! And, it’s also what I love to paint. See here for more paintings of northern England landscapes.

Two Acrylic Practice Paintings – Works in Progress

A dreamy view over the beautiful Australian countryside to the distant Mountains m, in the early morning light , one of my acrylic practice paintings.
The Red Path

As some of you may know, I am following an online course on painting at the moment. And I’d like to show you two of my acrylic practice paintings. In fact, the painting above is almost completely finished and I decided to leave it a while. To be honest, I am learning such a lot on this course. And I want to think a bit more about the techniques and design ideas I now know about. Then, later I will bring the painting to completion. However, I am fairly pleased with the stage I have brought it to. Incidentally, this method of working is quite new to me. Actually, I usually work in a more impulsive manner, but I do always put a lot of thought into my paintings.

New Techniques and Design Ideas in my Practice Paintings

In this painting, I used a different choice of colours on the palette, following the instruction given. And, this took me right out of my comfort zone, which can be a good thing! But, as you can see, these were the right choices for this dreamy Australian landscape. Secondly, I attempted to blend the colours in the sky – again something I never try to do. Admittedly, I need to practise this more, but then, hopefully, I will have acquired a new skill.

The Tribute to Monet Acrylic Painting

A spectacular deep lily pond with pink and white blossoms - one of my acrylic practice paintings.
The Lily Pond

Again, I must make it clear that this one of my acrylic practice paintings just lacks the final finishing touches. And , I’m prepared to leave it a while before I decide how much extra detail to add, if any. As you can see, there were plenty of challenges in this. Including, naturally, the subject – reflections on still water, a subject I have skillfully avoided until now! Well, I did do my best, but there’s room for improvement. On the other hand, I managed to suggest perspective in the floating flowers and leaves. That is, to put it simply, the furthest ones smaller and the nearest ones bigger and all at the correct angle to suggest they are lying on the water. Baby steps I know, but it’s very valuable to a self taught artist like me ! I really can’t wait to see what else I can learn. If you want to see a painting that I completed with the tutor’s help, see this post here . I will post another update soon!

Gouache Landscape – High Viewpoint

A dramatic gouache painting of a turquoise blue fjord in a craggy landscape.
The Fjord

Hello everyone. I thought I’d show you a gouache landscape that I did for my Beginner Gouache group. You see, this month’s theme is Norway and I found a fab high viewpoint photo by Alexey Topolyansky on Unsplash. Honestly, it just blew me away- it’s so dramatic. I’ve never been to the country so, of course, I’m not familiar with this type of scenery. But I think it’s quite beautiful with its craggy peaks and deep, still mountain lakes. However, it still posed a challenge to capture the subtle changes of colour in the sky and water in gouache. Also, the layering of textures on the rocks. Nonetheless, I am still persevering and I will continue because I love the pure, clear colour I can achieve using this medium. And, today’s takeaway is : remember to let the first layers dry overnight and then continue your layering next day!

Another Recent Gouache Landscape

Down by the River

Now, fortunately, I don’t have to remember to give a credit for the photo this time. Because this scene was painted from my imagination. As you can see, it’s just a simple view – a bit reminiscent of the Lake District in the UK. Happily, a place where I have spent many lovely holidays. Of course, it was a good opportunity to practise painting with gouache. And, on this occasion, I decided to concentrate on getting a full range of tones. So that it would appear to recede into the background. Perhaps you may remember from a previous post that I am working on this aspect of composition – see here . It’s all part of a great online course that I am working through. But, maybe more of that later ! There are plenty more gouache landscapes to be attempted – so come along with me on my artistic journey!

Another High Viewpoint View

An acrylic painting of a deep blue lake in gentle, rolling Derbyshire  hills.
Ladybower Reservoir

This is a view over the moors towards the reservoir in the Derbyshire Dales. But this one is in acrylic paint, on paper. Obviously, a more rounded, gently rising view, if you compare it to the Norwegian scene. But, in my opinion, both equally wonderful and ideal for virtual travelling in these restricted times!

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.

Halloween Paintings- Past and Present

A ghostly bride waits in the lonely graveyard, one of my favourite Halloween paintings.
Waiting at the Church

Hello everyone. I thought I’d do a quick round up of my Halloween paintings from the last couple of years. And it took me quite a while to find them in my chaotic ‘filing system’ , also known as the piles of sketch books, canvases etc. in the spare bedroom! However, the one above was easy to find because I only just completed it . You see, I painted this for an online Halloween challenge for Artists Free Reference Photos. The original photo was of a peaceful graveyard scene by Fiona Evans. But, I decided to inject a bit of melodrama into it by adding the ghostly bride, waiting at the church. Of course, this is my tribute to Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride’, an image I’ve been longing to paint for a while.

The Churchyard after Dark

A digitally altered sketch of a sinister looking graveyard - one of my Halloween paintings for this season.
The Churchyard at Night

Actually, you might recognise this painting above from a recent post I wrote here . Except for the fact that I took the plein air watercolour sketch and tinkered about with it. And, in fact, this is the first time I used the editing tools on my tablet to change the colours on a piece of my own work. And, I must admit, I’m quite pleased with the outcome. Spooky or what ?

More Halloween Paintings

Which Way to Go ?

I must admit that I painted this sketch ‘Which Way to Go’ a couple of years ago. Initially, I had the idea when I was doing a series of ‘scary trees ‘ pictures. As you might know, I find a lot of inspiration in trees and this was a project to let my imagination run wild. But, at the time, I became engrossed in another theme and this painting didn’t quite get finished ! However, I’m going to include it as one of my Halloween pictures. And, I will get around to completing it soon. Because I rarely leave anything unfinished – that’s just the way I work.

Anubis

Finally, I’ll show you a little watercolour sketch I did when I visited the Ancient Egypt exhibition at our town museum .The exhibition was curated by Professor Joann Fletcher of York University, who actually comes from Barnsley. And there is an interesting review of the exhibition here . Well, the ceremonial mask of Anubis, the god of death with his jackal head looked threatening enough to me! So, I had to include it in my Halloween themed show of paintings.

Floating on Air – an Acrylic Painting

A peaceful scene , beautiful white flower-like shapes floating on air in a warm, pink sky.
Floating on Air

Hello everyone. I finished this acrylic painting quite recently. But I had started it a few weeks ago . And I had begun seeing pictures in my mind a little while before that. Pictures of things floating on air – first of all fluffy, cold snowflakes drifting down from a peaceful , warm sky . Then I visualized white flowers or petals slowly sinking on to a dry, dark landscape. To be honest, the inspiration for this idea was easy to see. Because every time I look out of my kitchen window, I see glorious, blooming begonia flowers in the windowbox. Actually I was inspired earlier by my flowers in another planting arrangement here – a painting in a very different mood.

Blooming Begonias

Begonias in the Windowbox

As you can see, these beautiful flowers with their delicate layers of petals are very appealing. However, when I picked up my paintbrush, I had decided on the main idea of something white , drifting down. Also, I was clear that that I wanted a subtle pink sky above a grey expanse – perhaps landscape or rolling waves ? After all, that’s the image that came to me. But, I kept seeing snowflakes or clouds, balloons or parachutes. And that’s what took me so much time to plan this painting. Well, a long time for me anyway.

The Close Ups

Floating on Air

I hope that I managed to capture the light, drifting quality of these white objects. In effect, I was thinking of all of the ideas I had at first. For example, clouds, snowflakes and petals, and so on. Although, obviously, the actual form they took was the shape of flowers.

A Flower Floating on Air

A close up of a flower with ruffled,  layered petals , floating on air.
White on White

As it happens, the actual painting of the white flower shape was quite difficult. In order to give it some idea of form, I had to introduce other colours to suggest the layers of ‘ petals ‘. Hopefully, you can see this in the detail above. Well, I tried ! But , I don’t think this particular inspiration has finished with me yet. And, I might have to work with it again !

New Paintings for our Exhibition

A bright, colourful abstract composition in orange and blue. One of the new paintings for our exhibition
Sunshiny Day

Last Friday I went to look around our gallery in the Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield. Perhaps you may remember that I am a member of an artists group called Northern Fringe Artists. And we have a lovely gallery in a shop unit there. So I took some new paintings for our exhibition. Obviously, we like to change things around so that visitors have something fresh to look at. Actually, I’m quite fond of this painting – Sunshiny Day . In fact, I painted it quite simply to cheer myself up last year . Because we were in the middle of a dark , damp winter and I was longing for some sunshine! Incidentally, I borrowed the title from the lyrics of a song by Bill Withers ‘ Lovely Day ‘, an old favourite of mine.

Elephant Festival

Another One of the New Paintings for Our Exhibition

To be honest, this was great fun to do. In my opinion, elephants are fascinating animals to paint. I could really go to town on the pinkish tinge of the skin on the elephant’s face and ears. Actually , I’ve done another sketch of a model of an elephant in battle armour . It’s somewhere about -I’ll find it and show you soon. As I recall, I was at the Leeds Armouries Museum, back in January, with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. Do you remember those days when being out with a group of friends was a pleasant, stress-free experience?

The Apple and Pear Harvest

A semi abstract scene showing apples rolling on the grass under the tree - green and red.
Apples Falling

When Inspiration Strikes

As you can probably see, I used this painting for one of the online posters I made for my solo exhibition. Have a look at this post here to see the other paintings on show in January this year. However, this painting does have a nice back story. Well, we went to Cannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens last year to join in the celebrations on Pear Day. There are lots of heritage varieties of pear trees in the Walled Garden there. And, it’s usually quite a jolly day. As usual, I took my sketchbook with me. And , in spite of all the luscious pears on display, a box of apples, spilling out over the grass caught my eye. A couple of watercolour sketches and a few photos later, I went home and started painting an acrylic painting of the scene. You see, when inspiration strikes, you’ve just got to go with the flow!