Quick Sketching in Walled Gardens

The Walled Garden at Calke Abbey

Good morning everyone. Well, we just got back yesterday from a few days holiday in Derbyshire, UK. And, it was very pleasant indeed! So, I thought I’d show you some of the quick sketching I did. Actually, I painted this yesterday afternoon when we were visiting Calke Abbey, an old stately home managed by the National Trust. To be honest, we chose not to go on the tour of the house, although I’m sure it was fascinating. But we are still being a bit cautious about indoor spaces at present. However, the estate, park and gardens were very impressive.

The Walled Garden – image by Wikimedia Commons.

Part of the Walled Garden

As you can see, this section of the walled garden was laid out with delightful flower beds and very healthy looking tree ferns. But for us the best bit was the vegetable garden and the fruit trees. And we admired a medlar tree in full fruit and the most bright orange pumpkins we have ever seen! Then we walked out through one of the lovely arched entrances. Fortunately, there was a very well placed bench for me to sit on, where I quite happily spent almost an hour watercolour sketching.

Quick Sketching in the Walled Garden

The Walled Garden at Calke Abbey

To tell you the truth, I had just read an article in my art magazine about keeping plein air sketches simple. So I immediately put it into practice and followed the three steps. Firstly, make an accurate sketch using light pencil strokes. Then draw over the lines in ink – without following them too carefully. After erasing most of the pencil marks, next add colour. And, it’s nowhere as easy as it sounds! Especially the add the colour bit – but it did simplify and speed up the process. Finally, back in the cottage, I took a good look at it and just added a few more darks. In fact, I think I needed that bit of time and distance to assess it. And add the finishing touches to my quick sketching.

See more of my plein air sketching here.

Lovely Old Buildings in Watercolour

At Pot House Hamlet

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you two watercolour paintings of lovely old buildings that I have just finished. In fact, you may have seen the pencil sketches of animals in the petting zoo at Pot House Hamlet before. (See here). Because we visited this place in Silkstone village on a recent sketch trip. And we were surrounded by the beautiful old buildings of this little settlement – now a garden centre, cafe, shops and small zoo. Actually, the original buildings were 17th century glass making workshops and later pottery kilns. To be honest, I’m not sure about this building, but I chose it because of the unusual shapes. And, of course, the attractive colour of the stone. Then I added more washes of colour at home – the hot sunshine drove us into the shade!

Sketching at Elsecar Heritage Centre

Secondly, this is a sketch I more or less completed en plein air here at Elsecar, despite the steady drizzle. But, when I got home, I decided to heighten the colours, just for impact. Interestingly, one of my art buddies was painting his dramatically coloured acrylic paintings that morning. And I felt that I just had to have a go! I think I need a bit more practice, but I really enjoyed it.

Watercolour sketch of the Allotment

Picking Fruit

Good morning everyone. This is a little watercolour sketch I did yesterday, when I was sitting in the shade. Actually, it was a hot day and I thought that I had been in the sun long enough. And I had been quite busy. Firstly preparing a small patch of soil in the polytunnel and putting in some lettuce seedlings. Also sowing spinach and sorrel for salad leaves – we do love salad leaves! Next, I raked a small bed of ground outside to break the soil up a bit. Then I planted sixteen chicory plants and, hopefully, we shall have some winter salad next year. Meanwhile, my husband checked the courgette plants and did a bit more picking in the blackcurrant bushes . As you can see, I just managed to sketch him, examining the bush closely, not wanting to miss a berry. Unfortunately, it’s not been a good year for blackcurrant.

Man at Work, a Watercolour Sketch

Man at Work

Did you spot him? Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the ‘palm’ tree in my watercolour sketch, it’s actually a house plant we put there a few years ago and it really flourished! But I do confess to having used artistic license on the tomatoes in the green house. In effect, they are not red yet, rather pale yellowish green at the moment.

Ripe Tomatoes?

Well, this is good evidence, I think, that I really am very busy at the moment. Because everything in the veg garden is growing madly, and it takes up all my energy. If you want to see more paintings of us working in the allotment, see this post here. Anyway, some day soon I’ll put together a post with all the paintings of the garden that I have not yet shown you. Because it really does give me a lot of inspiration.

Rotherham Steel Henge in Watercolour

Rotherham Steel Henge

Good morning everyone. Well, the image above is a page out of my sketchbook and I completed it on Thursday. You see, I went to a very interesting location with Rotherhamroar artbuddies. The Steel Henge at Centenary Riverside nature park, Rotherham. Honestly, it seemed at first like a very odd choice for a sketchtrip, but nothing could be further from the truth! Admittedly, it was a tiny green space in the middle of an industrial area. However, it was a haven for wildlife, with a river and wildflower meadows.

The Wildflower Meadow

In addition, there is this very powerful art installation right in the centre of the space. Honestly, we all reacted strongly to it, and set to work straight away with pencil, oils, acrylic and, in my case, watercolour.

Watercolour Sketching at the Henge

The History Bit

Just to give a bit of background, before much industrial development, this beautiful spot was used as a swimming place. And, very likely a picnic area by the locals. Then came the building of steel works. Actually, as they were investigating this site to add to the existing plant, the workmen found the remains of a Roman fort here. Apparently, it was sited to guard the crossing place of the River Don. What a history! (You could take a peep here at my painting of the mighty Hadrian’s Wall, another Roman remain in Britain.)

The Steel Henge

Anyway, the artist created the sculpture by using these huge pieces of steel, discarded parts of machinery that were found nearby. As you can see, the artist had the inspired idea of shaping them into a Stonehenge like formation. And, it certainly does pull at your heartstrings when you stand among the monoliths of the Steel Henge.

After my first watercolour sketch, I looked out in a different direction to see a modern factory in the distance. Now, perhaps it’s just me, but these buildings often remind me of a castle. So, that’s what I thought of as I painted. All in all, a very thought-provoking place to simply sit and sketch.

The Factory at the Edge of the Reserve

This Week’s Paintings in Watercolour

An abstract for my journal

Good morning everyone. This is a quick catch up post showing you this week’s paintings. Honestly, I haven’t really had much time for creating art. Because things have opened up a bit, I seem to be busier. And, of course, there is lots to be done in my allotment vegetable garden. For example, yesterday I spent a few hours watering everything and weeding the parsnip and broadbean plants. And it was tough on my hands as the ground was hard after heavy rain, then baking hot June sunshine.But, I can’t complain – I absolutely love the fresh, organic fruit and veg we grow.

Our Allotment Garden

Well, you can tell how much I miss painting when I take my sketching kit up to the garden. And snatch a few moments between chores. As you see, I couldn’t resist trying to paint these beautiful flowers. For example, the huge red Oriental poppies are so spectacular and so short lived. Also, the blooms of the purple irises in the tiny barrel pond last just a few days. So I had to include them in this week’s paintings. Fortunately, the mauve foxglove does stick around longer and these self seeded flowers are dotted all around the garden. However, I think you can tell by the way I overworked the watercolour that I am really missing painting with acrylic! There are some more paintings of my allotment here, you may not have seen them.

My Art Journal Abstract – One of This Week’s Paintings

As you can see, I had to do a small, intuitive abstract in my art journal in watercolour. When I was longing to do one on canvas. But, I didn’t have the time, so I really enjoyed creating this smaller one. And, it calmed my nerves, so, a good result all round! Plus the bonus is an interesting experiment in shapes and colours that I could expand into a larger version. When I have time!

A Close up of my watercolour abstract

In fact, I can see lots of possibilities of interpretation here – for some reason it reminds me of cave painting. What do you see?

Fishes Swimming in the Deep Blue Sea

Swimming Free

Good morning everyone. This is my latest little gouache painting for our Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. And I painted these fishes swimming among the coral for our March theme – Aquatic Life. If you want to see the other gouache of a lily pond that I did for the theme, see here . To be honest, I try to paint at least two each month for this group. Because it’s a great group and well worth supporting – the work we produce is really rather good. Also, I find that joining in like this is helpful for my development as an artist. For example, I think that the themes are quite inspiring (this month’s challenge is ‘Garden’). In addition, I am still quite a beginner with this medium and I do benefit from the practice of a new skill.

Fishes Swimming among the Coral

A gouche painting of tropical fish, swimming through the coral.
Photo reference by David Cloade in Unsplash

Actually, I did rather enjoy painting the faces of the fish, much to my surprise. And, I did somehow manage to put a little bit of character into them! But, we are, happily, allowed some artistic license in this group!

Swimming Free – a closeup

I was quite pleased with this effort, 11 by 8 inches in my sketchbook. However, I was disappointed that I didn’t work out how to add more vibrant flashes of green on the fish. Perhaps I need a better quality of paints, or more variety of colours. Or, maybe just more practice! I do find gouache more tricky to work with than acrylic. But I just love the chalky quality and the colours.

Fishes in a Tropical Sea

A watercolour background of sea and coral with collaged fish in black and white.
Under the sea

Finally, here’s another sketchbook page of collage fishes swimming in a watercolour sea, with some imagined coral! Well, I created this last year in deep Lockdown, hoping to cheer myself up. And, it still makes me smile! If you want to read more about this post, see here .

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.

Plein air Sketching in Yorkshire

A watercolour sketch of a beautiful old church in glowing sandstone - plein air sketching in Woolley village.
St. Peter’s at Woolley Village

Good morning everyone. Last week we went for a stroll around a very picturesque village where I did some plein air sketching. Actually, the weather was extremely cold and we saw a fair few other people, wandering aimlessly around. Well, that’s the Lockdown effect for you, but I couldn’t think of a more pleasant place for an easy winter walk.

The Village Buildings – My Plein Air Sketching

In fact, Woolley village was full of beautiful old cottages, some farm buildings and a splendid Old Hall. But it was the church that caught my eye, and we found a bench under a huge yew tree. So, this is the view right in front of us- irresistible. Just look at the glowing sandstone, the backlit holly tree and the quirky shapes of the ancient gravestones.

St. Peter’s at Woolley Village

Plein Air Sketching at this Historic Site

In fact, there has been a church on this site since Norman times, that is since the eleven hundreds. Hopefully, you can just make out the odd shapes in the bottom left of the picture. Apparently, these are shrine like tomb boxes from the Norman period. In addition to this grade 2 listed graveyard, inside the church there is a William Morris stained glass window. Unfortunately, the church wasn’t open, so that will be for another day.

A photo of St Peter's and the tranquil churchyard that I painted while plein air sketching.
St. Peter’s at Woolley, South Yorkshire

If you follow my blog, you will be aware that I love to sketch en plein air or from life outdoors. For me, this means watercolour sketching and I do like to complete the sketch whilst outside. However, for this one, I managed to do about two layers and then my fingers froze! (40 minutes). Then I finished it off at home. But you can see the Quarry Park here and Wentworth Old Church here which were completed in situ. Oh well, let’s hope for some mild spring weather soon!

Mood and Atmosphere in Abstracts

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

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

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

Bright Mood and Atmosphere

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

Cheerful Optimism and Determination?

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

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

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

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.

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.

Drawing Twelve Birds for Christmas

Sparrowhawk

Good morning, everyone. I think I mentioned that I joined a great Beginner Gouache group on Mewe . And that led me to another group running the challenge – Birdmas. That is, drawing twelve birds for Christmas, from December 1st to 12th. Well, it looks as though I’m on track to complete the full set. So I’d like to show you a few of the earlier ones. For example, my sparrowhawk.

A gouache painting from my drawing twelve birds for Christmas challenge. A powerful sparrowhawk.
My first bird

Drawing Twelve Birds for Christmas – Day One

Just to be clear, the photos which inspired these paintings and drawings were taken by my lovely daughter in law. And they were taken mostly in her garden. And this particular one shows the sparrowhawk peering around carefully to make sure it can safely carry on eating. In fact, it had just brought down a pigeon and in this shot, the grass beneath its feet was covered in white feathers. Actually, during Lockdown, and afterwards, we saw two birds of prey bringing their kill into our own garden. To be honest, I live almost in the town centre and this is something we’ve never seen before. Anyway, I enjoyed painting this magnificent creature in gouache paint.

Day Two – A Pigeon

A Woodpigeon

Actually, this pigeon is quite tame and it will come down on to the lawn to be fed. So there is plenty of opportunity to get good close ups. I focused on the head and tried to capture the softness of the feathers in a pencil drawing.

A Hungry Bird

An ink and coloured pencil drawing of a hungry young crow, beak wide open and with a caption " feed me "
A Hungry Young Crow

As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge in the Triwing Art Challenge group. And the best part was seeing the creativity unleashed in my fellow artists. In fact, the artwork is a very high standard and it’s very pleasant to see this develop . Personally I think the challenge of drawing twelve birds for Christmas was very well chosen. And, finally, the image above, A Hungry Young Crow was completed in ink and coloured pencil. I tried to show the texture of the ragged wing feathers and the tree bark. To my own surprise, I was inspired by the beautiful work of the other artists to add a caption, not my usual style. The story behind the picture is that this bird was continually exhausting its parents with loud demands for food. I’ll post some more of my drawings soon.

If you want to see more of my bird paintings, look at this post here .

A Covid Art Journal – Work in Progress

Good Day – Bad Day

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

My Contribution to the Covid Art Journal

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

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

The Second Half of my Pandemic Art Journal Contribution

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

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

Some Happy Pages from my Own Covid Art Journal

Under the Sea
Cheerful

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

See myThree Art Journal Abstracts

Frantic

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

The Ceramics Patterns One

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

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

The Ink Drop Art Journal Abstract

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

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

The Graphite Mark Making One

Making Marks

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

Experiments in Gouache

An abstract in  bright jewel like colours divided by a diagonal line. One of my Experiments in gouache.
On Either Side of the Divide

This is the very first of my experiments in gouache paint. Because, as you might know, I paint mostly in acrylic and also sometimes in watercolour and mixed media. Anyway, I picked up a couple of very cheap starter sets of gouache paints. Actually, as far as I can tell, the paint is watercolour as a base and then body colour is added. Hopefully, I’ve got that right – I’m no expert! In fact, the combination of the two elements makes the paint opaque instead of translucent. And then, obviously, it doesn’t behave on the paper exactly like watercolour. As you might be able to see, I tried to apply it as acrylic on this painting. But , it isn’t acrylic either, so I couldn’t layer it on thickly as I tried to do. I’m not sure where this leaves me, which is why I am calling these paintings experiments in gouache!

More Experiments in Gouache

Fetching Water – reference photo by Ibrahim Rifath in Unsplash

This is a little painting I did on unsuitable paper in my art journal for a great new group I have joined. Well, it’s called ‘Beginner Gouache’ and it’s on a new media platform MeWe – new to me , anyway. To be honest, I like it because we can pass on useful tips to each other about the painting process . Also, because it’s a lovely group, we can encourage and support each other at the same time. However, to get back to the unsuitable paper, it’s mixed media paper in my art journal. And it does a pretty good job of handling most of what I throw at it – see this post here . But very wet gouache paint is a step too far for it, as I have found out in my experiments in gouache. And, if you want to watch a good tutorial on using gouache, click here . As you will see, the medium is very versatile ( and the artist Shari Blaukopf is very good too! )

Another Abstract in Gouache

Doodle Abstract

I really enjoyed working on this. Actually , I was reading a good book on abstract composition which reminded me about the ‘ doodle and fill it in’ approach. But the book also taught me about the importance of colour balance in abstracts. And I tried to put it into practice in this painting. To sum up, I really like using gouache. However, I do consider myself to be a beginner. And I’ll probably show you a few more of my experiments as I go along!

Sculpture in the Open Air

This is just a short post today . And , I’d like to tell you a little bit about the fantastic huge sculpture of a cockerel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park , sculpture in the open air.

The glorious , huge sculpture of a rooster at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, sculpture in the open air.
‘Pop Galo ‘ ( Pop Rooster ) at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

This beautiful monumental installation is part of the exhibition by renowned Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos . It’s covered in brightly coloured ceramic tiles and it is a symbol of Portugal . As far as I could see, it brought a smile to the face of everyone who looked at it. And that includes me ! And , best of all , it’s sculpture in the open air.

Social Distancing

Do you know , it was absolutely wonderful to go out and see some art . Although we had to pre-book our tickets , it was quite easy to do on-line. Of course , we wore our masks when inside the gallery spaces and the main reception area. Honestly , I think it is second nature now to manoeuvre yourself around others in public spaces. And , more importantly , most people are quite polite. In short , I think it is a small price to pay in order to have the pleasure of seeing art face-to-face.

View of the Sculpture from the Cafe Terrace

We sat on the lovely shady cafe terrace with coffee and cake . And it was very pleasant to sit under the trees and look out over the parkland at the monumental installation . Then I took out my sketchbook and watercolours to do a twenty minute sketch. So , if you look closely, you can see a figure . I think he is trying to get a good photo on his phone . Anyway , it gives an idea of the scale of the piece . Just watch out for a post with more detail on this glorious sculpture in the open air . ( See more of my bird art here )

Acrylic abstract painting – Break Through

Abstract Composition in Acrylic

Acrylic abstract composition in lemon,  green , ultramarine blue and a touch of maroon.  Big , gestural marks.
Break Through acrylic abstract painting

I’m very proud of this painting – let me explain why . It’s been about six or seven weeks since I felt like painting anything bigger than a small journal page. To be honest , after finishing off a large acrylic abstract begun before Lockdown and then creating just one more ( because the idea wouldn’t give me any peace until I did , see here ) I found that I could only work in a small art journal given to me as a gift . It was an absolute godsend . I could use it to make me feel calmer , and , also to express some of the feelings that I couldn’t say in words , as in this one .

Bunch from the Allotment – watercolour

Back in the studio

However , I really missed painting and , this Monday , I dragged myself to the ‘studio ‘ ( just a small bedroom really ) and , once I started working , I couldn’t stop ! A break through ! It was glorious- painting all day . I’ve decided to work larger now , I was feeling too cramped , trying to work too small so this piece is 16 by 20 inches , on paper . I completed it in two sessions of an hour and a half, on the same day . This abstract composition has been rattling around in my head about four weeks or so . So now it’s finished , I can relax .

Break Through – detail 1
Abstract composition in lemo ,green , ultramarine blue and a touch of  maroon . Big , gestural marks.
Break Through – detail 2

The colours are dynamic and vibrant – they make me feel positive and buoyed up . I don’t think you will be able to see the small , subtle details and texture – perhaps you can see them better in these close- ups .

I hope you enjoy looking at my paintings – all of my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. There are lots of interesting examples of acrylic abstract painting on my Gallery page too.. If you want to know more about prices and so on , go to the Contact page and send me an email using the form.

Break Through

Under the Sea – Watercolour and Collage

A bright watercolour and collage  sketch of corals and plants with black and white collaged fish swimming by in a sunlit sea .
Fish Swimming By – in watercolour and collage

I started this week’s art journal mixed media piece with no particular subject in mind , except that I wanted to create something light and colourful. Then , without planning it , I sketched out the under the sea scene in watercolour and afterwards added collage. The corals and plants are in fact drawn from my imagination . It was done quite quickly and then I thought about how to make the fish really stand out from the background . So I decided that collaged paper could be the answer . I have seen so many great ideas on line about creating your own collage papers . So l took a sheet of cartridge paper and scribbled some black lines with a marker pen . Then I used a simple template for the cut out fish and arranged them in a pleasing shape . And I have some collage paper leftover for another project !

A detail  of the under the sea painting,  showing the black  and white fish swimming by a pink , fan shaped  coral.
A School of Fish

I hope you feel a bit cheered up by my whimsical under the sea scene – it certainly lifted my spirits !

A bonus picture – Sunflowers

Two sunflower heads in watercolour- yellow and green
Supermarket Sunflowers

A quick sketch in pencil and watercolour in my tiny sketchbook. I finished this in about fifteen minutes – ( almost ) instant art . See more flowers in my gallery .

Mixed Media – Raindrops and Hailstones

An abstract mixed media design in blues and greys , representing raindrops and hailstones falling on to the window  .
Raindrops and Hailstones

This mixed media piece was inspired by the relentless rainy weather we had a couple of weeks ago – the raindrops splashed across the glass of the windowpanes in different patterns according to the direction of the wind . Sometimes they just landed softly and trickled down – sometimes they lashed across diagonally and , as in this art journal piece , the hailstones fell at the same time ! What strange summer weather .

Watercolour, pencil and coloured pencil – mixed media

Hailstones – an abstract interpretation

I tried to capture the subdued , melancholy feeling of a drenched world by using soft blues and greys . The gestural marks and shapes I made were at first soft and rounded, but , as the storm became more intense , I drew harder , stronger straight lines . Finally , I added my abstract interpretation of hailstones , making each one different. I don’t know if this is scientifically correct , but it’s how I imagined them – a bit like snowflakes . The hailstones are so fierce as they arrive but they only last a short while and then they quickly melt . Then the sun came nearer to a gap in the clouds and a few rays of orange light filtered through . All this may or may not be obvious when you look at the painting, but it was going through my mind as I created it . Anyway , I hope you like my weather picture : Raindrops and Hailstones.

Raindrops and Hailstones – in mixed media

I hope I have given you a brief insight into the mind of an artist . You can see more abstract compositions in blue shades in my Gallery – Abstracts here

Did you know ?

If you click on the title of any post until it is underlined , you can see the likes and comments and perhaps add your own ! And I will have a better idea of how many visitors are reading this blog .

P.S Have a look at the new gallery of my work in the sidebar of the blog. I shall keep this up to date and , remember , all of my work is for sale at affordable prices.