A Week of Arty Stuff

Mary River, Queensland

Good morning everyone. Well, the title says it all – a week of arty stuff! For example, today I went to two galleries in Wakefield where some of my work is on display. And I was particularly pleased to see this one – Mary River, Queensland, on show with two other Australian landscapes. Actually, we took them down from a pop-up exhibition at another gallery. And now they are on show in our Northern Fringe Gallery artists display space in the Ridings Shopping Centre.

In Our Gallery

Then we went to the lovely volunteer led Urban Commune Gallery in another part of town, to help out a bit and show support. Actually, I have two mini displays on show at the moment , see this post here. And it’s a real pleasure to be part of a group of artists, dedicated to the promotion of art in the community.

My Story Pictures
The Boy and the Bird

Finally, I’ll just say that tomorrow I’ll be going to the launch of the Rotherham Roar exhibition in the indoor market. And I’m really looking forward to meeting my fellow artists and chatting to interested members of the public. More arty stuff. After all, that’s what it is all about!

A Castle in Portugal

New Countryside Scenes in Gouache

The Red Barn

Good morning everyone. I’ve finished another of my small countryside scenes at last! Actually, I left this one lying around quite a while, it didn’t seem quite right. Thanks to Regina Shrively for the lovely reference photo, on this site here . In fact, I accentuated the red colour of the barn and put more sunshine into the weather. Just because I wanted to (artistic licence!). And I think it makes a very pleasing and colourful composition. Anyway, the most difficult bit was the sky, I still find this tricky with gouache. But, it’s fun to practise.

The Old Tree

Next I’ll show you the latest of my countryside scenes, one from my Australian photo gallery, thanks to Rod Moore. To be honest, I really enjoy doing these dry landscape scenes. Although, this one looks pretty green and luscious. Actually, I’ve never been to Australia, so I feel a little unselfconfident. However, one or two visitors to my shows have said my paintings remind them of visits to that country. So, I can’t be too far off the mark. Anyway, I enjoyed painting the variations of colour of the bark on the tree. Also, the patches of sunlight on the path, but they are more realistic in real life than in this image.

Please have a look in my gallery if you like this. All my work is for sale at reasonable prices. For example, I’m letting The Red Barn go for £30 plus shipping , it’s 11 by 7 1/2 inches, on paper, unframed and without a mount.

My New Silver Birch Painting

Silver Birch Wood

Good morning everyone. This is my new silver birch painting in gouache. Well, I thought it was about time I created my version of the silver birch woodland scene. Of course, I wanted to make mine a little bit different from the many excellent dark, atmospheric paintings I have seen. So I went for a feeling of slender tree trunks, shimmering in the hazy light. And, the colour of the grass is sharp and bright, just like it is after a shower. As for the sky, I exaggerated the mauve tones, to please myself actually! But, it really makes me want to step into the picture and see what is round the bend in the path!

Silver Birch Wood – a closeup

By the way, I am starting to feel a little bit more confident with gouache paint now, at long last! In fact, I do like painting with it very much. And, I am getting used to the way it moves around on the page and how the colours settle after a while. But, it can still surprise me when one colour can ‘merge’ into another over night! And that’s what happened to these silver birches with the white highlighting. As regards the shift in colour as they dry, I suppose it is becoming a little more instinctive. And, I must have gone through this when learning how to handle acrylic paint. However, I probably forgot about the learning stage as soon as I was through it. But, I must say I am now trying a different type of paper, a more smooth finish. And I’ll show you the first painting when I’ve finished it.

Painting Trees

Finally, you must have noticed how much I love painting trees, see this post here . So here are one or two examples. Firstly in watercolour and pen and then in oil pastel and watercolour.

A Tree in Outline
The Big Tree in my Garden

My Brand New Bright Watercolours

Pumpkin Time

Good morning everyone. How do you like my brand new bright watercolours? Actually, that’s my little joke, because they aren’t brand new at all! Well, I was getting so fed up with the pale colours on my plein air quick sketches, see here.

So I looked a few things up on the internet, and found out that my paints should be ok. Because they are reasonable UK brands. Also, the paper is decent quality, but I’m working on finding something a bit better. Then I tried to remember not to muddy the colours too much. Eventually, I even started using gouache colours for their brightness, but I really prefer watercolours for on the spot sketching. Anyway, I decided to try something I read in a few posts and articles. And that is really wetting the pans of colour with lots of drops of water ( from a water brush). Then I waited ten minutes and painted two examples, this one being an imaginary landscape.

New Improved Bright Watercolours

View over the Bay

By the way, my Australian tutor Rod Moore encourages us to paint from imagination to help develop composition skills. But I’ll talk about that in another post. Next, I just had to do a little abstract doodle to test the colours again!

Another Purple and Yellow Abstract

As you can see, these are very bright watercolours. But, just a word of caution, let the paints absorb all the water before taking the box out on a sketch trip. If not, it will leak all over your bag! Perhaps you knew all this already, however it’s new to me. And, I’m very glad I read this advice on line.

Finally, I gave this new system a proper road test this weekend when I went to the allotment. After working hard all day watering, picking and tidying, I just had to do a quick 30 minute sketch. Can you see the pumpkins and the scarlet flowers on the runner bean plants? Happy painting!

Pumpkin Time

How to Paint the Sea

The Power of the Waves – closeup

Good morning everyone. Yesterday I went to see my acrylic painting at Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield and I was very pleased with it. Such a good exhibition of a variety of excellent painters, showing how to paint the sea.

In fact, there were oil, acrylic and watercolour paintings, resin, textiles, ceramics and photos. And what a thrill to be exhibited with them. And a nice opportunity to paint the sea.

My Painting in the Show

Finally, here’s another of my seascapes, I’m taking it to be framed this afternoon. Then it’s all ready for my solo show next month. But more of that later! Meanwhile, here is another seascape to look at.

Beach Day

New Australian Landscape in Gouache

Just Before Sunset

Hello everyone. At last I can write a new post! After a few tension filled days when I couldn’t get into my website! But my host provider did a great job and banished all the glitches promptly. Thank goodness. And here is my new Australian landscape in gouache. In fact, there is a story behind this painting. Perhaps you remember that I follow a great course online by Rod Moore here . And we have just been on a virtual trip into the Outback with him. Well, virtual for us and very real for Rod. Along the way we watched the travel videos and sketched and painted the spectacular views. Actually it was very enjoyable and quite inspiring. Of course, I don’t know much about this type of landscape, as I’ve never been to Australia. However, I feel I know it a bit better now. And I really enjoyed the challenge of portraying the dry soil and the faded vegetation in my new Australian landscape. Because of course it’s winter there at the moment. Well, that’s all for now and I’ll show you my next gouache of Australia as soon as it is finished.

Meanwhile, here is my favourite of all the landscapes of Australia that I’ve painted on this course.

How to Paint a Castle

Somewhere in Portugal

Good morning everyone. As you may know, I love painting castles and old ruins. So, when I saw an article in a painting magazine about how to paint a castle in poster style, I had to have a go!

A Castle in Spain

Actually, the instructions in this article by Andy Walker in the Leisure Painter magazine were very clear and helpful. First, we had to restrict ourselves to a very limited palette of colours – blue, yellow ochre, deep red and white. Of course, these suited the subject very well. In particular the dull greens of late summer vegetation and the weathered stone of the castle. Next we had to simplify the composition and the shadow areas. And, finally, restrict added detail to a minimum, the most difficult part for me! But, I must admit, I’m really pleased with the painting. It’s a strong, appealing image and people really seem to like it. And, there’s a lesson in there somewhere for me – don’t complicate or over elaborate! Therefore, I had to paint another castle. However, as you might have noticed, this next one is in my own painterly style.

The Next Step in my How to Paint a Castle Mini Course

Somewhere in Portugal

In fact, for this gouache painting, I remembered the tuition about restricted palette and simplifying the composition. But when it came to painterly details, I followed my instinct and added as many as I wanted! For me that’s really a lot of the pleasure of painting.

A close up.

Well, the next step in my project on how to paint a castle is an attempt to put these new principles into my painting. But also to retain some of my own approach and style. So I’ll show you this unfinished gouache, and I’ve not yet decided how to complete this. What do you think, how much more should I add?

A Castle in Scotland

And, while you are thinking that over, have a look at this happy, sunshiny watercolour painting of a castle here.

A Holiday in the Dales

Kilnsey Crag

Good morning everyone. We have just arrived home from a holiday in the Dales. That’s the Yorkshire Dales, UK, a peaceful, fairly unspoilt rural area about an hour and a half from my home. Anyway, we drove up to Kilnsey Crag, and sat on a bench overlooking the trout fishing ponds. And I attempted to capture a bit of the ridge rising up to the skyline. Actually, the most impressive part, the sheer drop of the crag is a bit more difficult to get to. So, that’s for another time!

Quiet Churchyard in Grassington

Actually, this watercolour sketch is not quite finished, but I’ll show it anyhow. Well, we spent the afternoon in Grassington, a town which is always very full of tourists. However, we found a peaceful spot to sit for a while. And I painted away, lost in my thoughts, until the rain made us move away.

Clitheroe Castle Keep

Finally, we spent a lovely day in Clitheroe on this holiday in the dales. And I couldn’t resist painting the imposing ruin of the castle keep. Amazingly, I wasn’t alone – there was a local art group there to keep me company! Perhaps you think that I make a habit of going on holiday in order to paint castles! And, you may be right – see this post here. By the way, these are plein air watercolour sketches, completed on site in roughly 40 minutes.

Another Fine Day

Another Fine Day

Good morning everyone. I really enjoyed painting this landscape in gouache, Another Fine Day. And it was one more step in my journey in mastering this medium. Perhaps if I painted solid for a few weeks I could get more confidence in using gouache. But, because I adore using all sorts of media and paint all kinds of subjects, my progress will be slow. Actually, what do you think – is this a disadvantage or instead, is this a gift? Anyway, I posted this on our MeWe group and then started another one!

A close up

Two Birds in One Week

Royal Tern, inspired by Shari Blaukopf

Good morning everyone. This is a cheeky little bird I painted from a good tutorial by Shari Blaukopf in the Karen Abend ‘Sketchbook Revival ‘ series. And it was great fun, so that makes two birds in one week! (More of that later). Anyway, the reference photo and the tuition were excellent, and I learnt how to make the feathers look more realistic. Hopefully the bird then doesn’t seem too ‘solid’, a pitfall I have fallen into sometimes. In the case of this watercolour sketch, things were a bit more tricky because of the windy weather. Perhaps you can see that the wing and breast feathers are ruffled up into a fluffy ball by the breeze. In fact, the bit I am most proud of is the effect of the reflections of the legs. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the bird itself, how about you?

The Reflections

Two Birds in One Week

A Mallard

Well, I did say two birds, so this is the other one! Actually, there were plenty of birds to spot on our quiet walk around the Dearne Valley Country Park . But this one very obligingly stood still for me to do a quick pencil sketch, as we sat in front of the small lake. By the way, we did go to see the bluebell display in the ancient woodland. And, Nature didn’t disappoint – I really love this time of year. ( You could see more of my bird sketches in this post here . )

Northern Fringe Exhibition at Castleford

Top Withens

Good morning, everyone. As I promised, here is my report on our exhibition at Castleford. Actually, we put this show on at Mirfield Creative Arts Hub last November and December, see this post here. But, several of the group, me included, added new work. So, it’s not quite the same show. Here is my new acrylic canvas that I just completed in time to hang up!

Looking towards Heaven- Whitby Abbey

This is a view through the ruined church of the abbey, a fabulous English Heritage site in Whitby on the Yorkshire coast. And the literary link is Caedmon, a monk who lived there in the 7th century. When he experienced a vision of heaven there in a dream, he composed a hymn praising God as the creator of heaven and earth. Because this appears to be the first poem in Old English, Caedmon is remembered in history. Actually, the bit I like best in this short poem is the reference to heaven being the roof for Mankind.

As I mentioned in my first post, my other paintings were based on works by Ted Hughes and Emily Bronte, Joann Fletcher, Simon Armitage and Ebenezer Elliott. After all, the exhibition was called ‘Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers!

My ‘Yorkshire Writer’ Paintings

Exhibition at Castleford, in the Queen’s Mill

Anyway, the highlights of this show were: firstly the fact that it was opened by Yvette Cooper, local member of parliament and shadow home secretary.

Yvette with Eddie, our chairman

And, secondly the fabulous location in the restored 19th century flour mill on the edge of the River Aire. Incidentally, there was a mill on this site over nine hundred years ago. And, possibly back to Roman times!

Our Exhibition Poster

Well, we spent quite a few hours in the gallery on the second floor. And the view over the river was spectacular. As the river was very high after some heavy rains.

The River Aire in Full Flood

And, I just couldn’t resist sketching the scene!

The Torrential River Aire

Still Life in the Kitchen

Old Kitchen Scales

Good morning everyone. I really enjoyed painting this gouache portrait of old kitchen scales at art group last week. One of our members brought in loads of fascinating old objects to inspire us to do a still life. And I decided to paint quickly, like I do when I’m out urban sketching. First I did a very quick pencil sketch to set the general shape. Then I drew with the brush, something I love to do. Also, I tried to show the grime and wear and tear on this well used weight scale. Which wasn’t all that easy , actually! And it felt good to paint from life – photos obviously have their place in my art practice. But, I feel that observing and recording an object sharpens up my drawing skills.

Old Saucepan

If I remember correctly, I painted this in the Victorian kitchen of our local stately home . Back in the day when sketching groups were encouraged to linger and draw ( about two years ago!) Anyway, I used pen and watercolour and chose this little group of utensils on the old shelf near the big, black range. By the way, one of the best days to visit is when they fire up the range and demonstrate baking for the big house.

Still life in my Kitchen

Finally, here’s a painting of a fish, caught at sea by a friend of a friend and being prepared for cooking. Acrylic on box canvas, I put it on my kitchen wall! And here’s another food still life you might like to see, this time fruit.

Fish

In fact, making this post reminded me that it’s high time I updated my Still Life and Flowers section in my gallery. Oh well, that will have to be something for another day- I’m far too busy painting today!

New Exhibition at the Market

Neurons

Good morning everyone. As promised, here is a review of our new exhibition at the market in Rotherham. By ‘our’ I mean ROAR – Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance, an artist’s group that I am a member of. And, we have displayed our art on a glass wall in the covered market building in the town centre.

Our New Exhibition at the Market

As you can see, this space was a bit of a challenge to use, but I think we have done well. The windows were actually different dimensions and all landscape orientation. So I could not show two nice life drawings, because they were portrait. And, obviously, framed paintings were not possible. However I think the display is excellent, including prints and some originals. Here are the other three of my paintings on show.

Clematis at Dusk
Daffs at the Allotment
In the Wood

Actually, our work is quite varied, comprising acrylic paintings, contemporary watercolour portraits, prints and mixed media collage.

Matt’s Portraits
Ken’s pencil drawing
Kevan’s print
Mixed media collage
Acrylic painting

Because of the pandemic, we have not been able to meet up so much. So it felt really good to be involved in a project together. And, also to show off our new exhibition at the market. Have a look at this post here when we went out sketching at the Steel Henge.

Coffee for One, Lockdown Painting

Coffee for One

Good morning everyone. Well, there are only two more days to see my lockdown painting at the Open Art Exhibition by Fronteer Gallery in Sheffield, UK. But it looks really good up on the wall at Exchange Place Gallery – see this poster for details.

Honestly, I was thrilled to bits to be accepted for the Open, this is the first time I got in! And, I decided to enter a lockdown painting in acrylic that I did last summer. Actually, I just sat down to do an intuitive abstract and gradually this figure emerged. So I ran with it and developed a cafe setting around it, with the light emerging through the tall windows, revealing the stripped pine floor. She sits alone at a table for one, covered by a gorgeous pink and yellow embroidered cloth. And you can almost smell the dark brown coffee and taste the dainty chocolate cup cake. In fact, the yearning for cafe society that I suffered from last year probably inspired me to paint this picture!

However, this is what I see, and you can obviously see into it anything you like! Anyway, I’m so glad that the gallery gave my picture its few minutes in the limelight! Have a look at this post here for another intuitive abstract in a similar colour palette.

My Painting in New Exhibition

Snow’s Melting

Hello everyone. This is just a very quick post today because I’m dashing about, being involved in four exhibitions at the moment. And it feels very strange after all that time with no arty activities, then, suddenly so many opportunities. Anyway, today I’ve been to the new exhibition at the Gallery Gate gallery in Doncaster, South Yorkshire to see the Christmas show.

Well, the new exhibition is looking very good and I think my painting fits in really well. So, many thanks to Kim, curator of the gallery. I think the expression on my face says it all!

Actually, that’s all I have time for today. And, tomorrow I go to a lovely gallery in Sheffield to see my painting, which was chosen for the Fronteer Gallery Open competition. So, look out for a report on that soon.

Painting Outdoors in Late Summer

Longshaw Estate

Good morning everyone. This is just a catch up post where I’m showing you some of the watercolour sketches I did whilst painting outdoors. In fact, the weather this year was very kind to us artists. And I spent quite a lot of time sitting quietly, painting the view. Sheer bliss! So, this the view over the rough pasture to the pond at Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire, UK. Now the pond is man made and designed to be seen as you leave the formal garden and take the path to the stream. Actually, I’m not sure whether this is the pool for boating or swimming – there are two! But, as you can see, it’s idyllic and right on the edge of the moors.

While I painted this little scene I tried to use some of the techniques I’ve been studying. In particular, I wanted to show the contrast of light and shade in the trees behind the water. Not all that easy on a low sunlight day. Also, I used a gentle touch with the reflections on the water, which were very subtle.

Painting Outdoors at Cannon Hall

The Small Glasshouse at Cannon Hall

Lastly, we also went to Cannon Hall on a warm, sunny day and we sat in the shade in the formal garden. And I had another attempt at portraying the glass panes of the little greenhouse. And the effect is a bit more lifelike, I feel, (see here for another attempt!) Incidentally, this is where the 200 year old grapevine lives, but that’s another story!

Yorkshire Writers Exhibition in Progress

Top Withens

Good morning everyone. This Saturday I took my big acrylic painting to our gallery at the Ridings centre in Wakefield. Because we are getting our show ready for the 29th September – Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers. Perhaps you remember that we started this project in 2019, but the pandemic stopped it in its tracks, with only half of the artwork in the gallery.

My First Painting for our Yorkshire Writers Exhibition

The Green Man Waiting for Sir Gawain at the Doorway of his Green Church

As you can see, here is my first piece for our current Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition and you can read all about it here. Actually, we do have super themes for our exhibitions – have a look at my Exhibitions page here. And you will see some of the work I did for the Northern Fringe Gallery exhibitions.

Top Withens

Anyway, just a word of explanation about this painting in which I felt inspired by poet Ted Hughes. In fact, I like many of his poems but I really loved the one entitled ‘Wuthering Heights’. And this location, Top Withens, is a ruined farmhouse on the Pennine moors near Haworth in West Yorkshire. Because it is presumed to be the setting for Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, it’s quite a famous spot. Well, Ted Hughes and his wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath lived nearby. And they hired a local guide to take them to the house. Both poets wrote a poem about the moving experience and I chose Ted’s piece. Here he describes the wild, now abandoned spot where the story of Cathy and Heathcliff took place. As well as his wife’s reaction to the experience. You can see both poems here.

Top Withens – a closeup

Finally, here’s a closeup so you can see the ghostly figure in the window, as described in the poem.

We are launching this exhibition 29th September at the Ridings, then it moves on to Mirfield Creative Arts Hub in October. And, I must admit that I just love being involved in art projects!

Look at my Summer Paintings

A Summer’s Day in Swaledale

Good morning everyone. Well, as I write this post all about summer paintings, the rain is falling in a steady drizzle. And the temperature has dropped a few degrees, so it’s not exactly hot and summery. Nonetheless, the day is warm and fine in this acrylic painting of a scene in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Perhaps you don’t know this area of rounded hills and sheltered valleys (the dales) in the north of England. But it’s one of our favourite spots and only a couple of hours drive from our home.

This view shows a very distinctive feature of the valley of the river Swale – the very numerous small barns. Actually, there’s practically one for each field and the farmers used them mainly for storing the hay. Whatever the reason, they are picturesque and very sketchable! In fact, the whole area is covered by a network of public footpaths and quite easy to explore. If you want to find out more about the region, look here.

Another One of my Summer Paintings

The Path to the Sea

Now, this is something completely different! And it started off as an intuitive abstract I painted in March this year. As the winter dragged on, my thoughts turned to sunshine and holidays by the sea. Slowly elements started to emerge which suggested a landscape I’ve often seen in France. Of course, this was back in the day when we used to travel – seems an age ago now! Anyway, we would often camp near a small seaside resort. And, somehow, this scene reminds me of parking the car on a rough patch of ground. Then struggling down a path made of soft sand to the idyllic beach, with only a few families to keep us company. Happy days!

Finally, I hope you enjoy looking at my summer paintings and dreaming your own dreams. Here is another lovely scene you might like. As you may know, all my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. Affordable art! Just go to my Contact Me page and get in touch.

Our Solstice Exhibition Now On

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to tell you all about our Solstice exhibition – now on show at Fronteer Gallery in Sheffield, UK. Well, we had a great launch on Monday evening, despite the Covid regulations. Of course, we had to wear masks and only ten people were allowed in the Gallery at one time. Nevertheless, I managed to have a good look around the show. And to have a nice chat with Michael and Sharon, who set the whole thing up. Actually, it’s not been the best time to open an art gallery in the pandemic, but they have done it!

I took this snap in a sort of an open space in front of the gallery which is traffic free. In fact, it’s an ideal performance area. And we watched a bit of street theatre by Pink and grAy. Sun Circle, referencing Ra, the sungod, bringing light to the world. Incidentally, this is the theme of my gouache painting too! Also, the abundance of food produced by its energy, represented by a basket of oranges.

The Artwork in Our Solstice Exhibition

Egyptian Temple

Honestly, it was a real pleasure to see my own painting up on the wall in this super gallery. It’s been so long since I could chat to people looking at my work. In addition to that I had actual contact with the other artists too! Here is just a taster of the wonderful artwork on display. I did take lots of photos, but the lighting in the rooms was too much for my little phone camera!

Julie Massie
Nicky Scott-Francis

At last, my artworld is slowly returning.

The solstice exhibition is on this week and next. Just see the poster for the dates and times it is open. And, with its wide variety of media and interpretation of the summer sun, it’s well worth a visit.

If you want to have a look at the beautiful exhibition catalogue, see here.

Adding Colour to Quick Sketches

Flowers on the Runner Bean Plant

Good morning everyone. Well, I had a little bit of time to play this week and I read something online about not forgetting the importance of experimenting with your art. So I spent some time adding colour to this very quick pen sketch I made last year. As you might remember, I wrote here about how inspiring I found the lush growth on the runner bean plants. Anyway, I took the opportunity to really try to work out how to use the Inktense paints I bought. And, I had a breakthrough – use more water! In fact, as you will see, a bit too much water in places!

Flowers on the Runner Bean Plant

Adding Colour to the Pencil Sketch

The Big Glasshouse in the Walled Garden

Actually, this is the second very quick sketch I made when we went to Cannon Hall Park and Gardens (see here). And now, here’s the coloured version.

The Coloured Version

Now I feel that I’m getting to grips with using this type of watercolour, and the colours certainly are bright. And, to be honest, I felt very relaxed when I just concentrated on texture and colour like this, so it’s a win-win situation for all! So, have a good weekend, everyone!

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