New Exhibition of Story Paintings

New Exhibition Poster

Good morning everyone. This is the fantastic poster for our new story paintings exhibition at Creative Arts Hub, Mirfield in West Yorkshire, UK. Actually Mark Milnes, the curator put this poster together back in 2018 when I arranged the exhibition. And when Covid intervened, the show was postponed until now! So, we are really looking forward to seeing the work up on the wall. It’s all about story pictures. And we would like to invite you to the launch on Saturday morning 18th June, 1.30 till 3pm. If you are in the area, of course!

The Boy and the Bird

This is one of my paintings for the show and I decided to put the explanation all in the title. Then, people can look and make up their own story, there is plenty of inspiration there, I think. In addition to this one, I have entered a few more without any further text. But, I have added a short explanation for some of my work. Because I feel that they will be better appreciated that way. For example, you may know this story, or you may not. Let’s see!

The Silk Princess, one of my Story Paintings

The Silk Princess

Perhaps you know this legend about the princess in China a long time ago? When she travelled to another country to marry the ruler there, she hid silkworms in her large headdress. And smuggled them out of China, effectively taking the secret of silk making with her. Because you see, until then it was known only to her people. Anyway, it’s a good story. And, using artistic licence, I added to it here by showing the ‘silk’ road leading to Bradford, Yorkshire UK. Where there still stands the Manningham Mills building, once the largest silk mill in Europe.

Manningham Mills

Incidentally, can you spot the silk worm, the silk moth and the white roses of Yorkshire in these two paintings?

Maybe you would like to read more about this painting here.

New Painting at Halifax Gallery

Warm Afternoon in Queensland

Good morning everyone. I’m so delighted, my new painting has been accepted for the Summer show in the Open Gallery in Halifax! And this is a new gallery, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it and the current show on the walls. By the way, the theme actually is Summer, so I thought that this painting would fit in very well. In fact, I created this while I was studying a module in an online course. And the tutor, Rod Moore lives in Queensland, Australia. So, most of the reference photos he provides are of his local area. Maybe you can see that I tried to create an atmosphere of heat rising from the fields in the late afternoon. And a hint of heat haze on the distant mountains.

Of course, we have to deliver it soon, so we can spend a morning walking around historic Halifax. And perhaps potter around the wonderful Piece Hall, as I described in my post here. And you can read all about this Grade 1 listed building.

The Piece Hall, Halifax

If you’re in the area, please join us at the opening event on Saturday 25th June, 5 till 7pm.

Painting Old Houses in Watercolour

Old Houses in West Yorkshire

Good morning everyone. I don’t think I have shown you this watercolour, where we were painting old houses at art society. Actually, Tony Burke, a local artist, came to our evening meeting and led us through this painting step by step. It was quite a challenge but very enjoyable. And we found this curved row of houses in a small village very unusual and inspiring. So, the perfect subject for painting old houses. In fact, this was the first time for ages that we invited a guest artist to work with us. Of course, the society was closed a long time during the pandemic. And it’s taken us a while to get back to normal. Anyway, in this exercise I learned how to blend a sunset colour into my sky. Also, Tony taught us how to add character into trees by twisting the brush when painting foliage.

Top Withens

This is another old house in West Yorkshire, but this time it’s a more famous one! Perhaps you remember this post here. Where I explained that this ruin is widely accepted as the inspiration for ‘Wuthering Heights ‘ by Emily Bronte. And I painted it for our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition, Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers. Firstly we showed our work in Creative Arts Hub, Mirfield. Then in Queen’s Mill, Castleford. And now Skelmanthorpe Library Gallery have invited us to exhibit in a week’s time. It was a lovely surprise. What a shame you can’t all come to our preview event – you would be very welcome!

Catching Up with my Paintings

Pumpkin Seedlings

Good morning everyone. At last, I’m really pleased that I managed to do some catching up and finish this gouache painting. In fact, I started it off about four weeks ago at our art society meeting. And the subject was “food” so I chose to paint these pumpkin seedlings we were growing. Well, I called it future food, so it fitted in! Anyway, the way it almost looked like an abstract composition seen from above inspired me. Because of the circles, I suppose. But I didn’t let it take over, and I made sure I painted in quite a realistic style. Another goal I had in mind was to apply the paint more thickly and I did succeed to some extent. However, I will need more practice on this. If you want to check up on the progress of the plants, they are all now in the ground, flourishing and underneath some netting. It’s a rabbit problem, don’t ask! If you want to see a drawing of last year’s harvest, have a look at this post here .

The Last Tree

Finally, more catching up,here’s one of my new style abstracts, using passages of colour to provide interest in the background. So, the first stage was done ages ago and was sitting on my dining room table, reproaching me. For, I couldn’t think of a suitable motif to be the top layer. Nonetheless, inspiration eventually came, and I quickly drew in a lifeless tree. See more live trees here .

Some Beautiful Old Stone Buildings

Kirkham Priory

Good morning everyone. I thought I would show you the last of the three watercolour sketches I did on our mini holiday. ( See the other two here) Perhaps you have noticed how much I love painting old stone buildings. So, here’s another one! In fact, I did this as we were driving home from the coast. And we stopped for an hour to eat a sandwich at Kirkham Priory, a beautiful ruin looked after by English Heritage. Well, this was the view from the picnic table and we we were in the old gatehouse. Obviously, I couldn’t resist sketching this section of the massive wall and a glimpse through the door. Meanwhile, my husband walked around the site with a guidebook, trying to imagine the splendid buildings as they once were.

Conisbrough Castle

Actually, we seem to do a lot of this, trying to imagine what old stone buildings once looked like. But, just to show you the exception to the rule, here is the keep at Conisbrough castle which is completely restored. As I recall, when we visited in November last year, we saw all three floors. Then we climbed up to the viewing platform at the top, to see a glorious view over the town. If you want to see another historic English castle, see this post here.

A Day by the Sea

North Landing, Flamborough

Good morning everyone. We’ve just spent a lovely few days by the sea. And I painted this quick watercolour sketch looking down at North Landing Bay at Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast. Although it looks deserted in my sketch, there were actually some families playing on the beach. And the snack bar was open and doing a roaring trade. Also, a small boat came back to the shore, with a few crates of fish. Then they pulled the boat up the ramp to the boat house. After I had finished my sketch, (about 30 minutes) we walked a short way along the cliff path on the headland. Actually, we were looking out for puffins, but they were all hiding! What a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

In fact, I had paddled in the sea on the beach at Scarborough that morning, in freezing cold water. And when I got back to the flat I decided to do an intuitive abstract. So I painted an impression of the movement of the water, as the tide receded around my feet. If you look at this post here from last year, you’ll see another sketch of this coast.

The Tide

See my Spare Time Abstracts

Doodle 1

Good morning everyone. I think the title says it all, really, because I’m very busy at the moment. And, this is all the art I can manage to fit in at present – spare time abstracts! Actually, I saw a few things online about doodling, which seems to be very popular just now. But, to be honest, I’ve been scribbling little designs and patterns all my life. So, it seems to be quite natural to me. However, I noticed lots of ideas suggesting doing these small drawings over a background of watercolour marks. So, nothing could be easier, I use my little travel set of colours and it dries fast. Then, a little bundle of markers to choose from, and off I go!

Although, I must say the notion of using lots of surface pattern over paint is still new to me. But, that’s the fun part. And, as most of my marker pens are waterproof, it seems natural to add a bit more emphasis on top with thicker paint. Next, I have a look at the design for any ugly bits and correct them. And now I’ve done another spare time abstract! Right, back to the allotment gardening! There is some more fun doodling in this post here, using a slightly different technique.

Doodle 2

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

Drawing the Figure in Movement

Figure in Movement

Good morning everyone. This is another page in the art journaling course Sketchbook Revival by Karen Abend. And I really enjoyed this tutorial by Barbara Baumann all about the gestural method of sketching the figure. That is, concentrating on the figure in movement. Basically, you sketch out the direction of the limbs, the torso and the head. Most importantly you study the angles of the tilt of the head and torso. Also, the direction of the outstretched arms and legs. Obviously the photo reference for this sketch was ideal – the pose was quite extreme. Also, unbelievably high off the ground!

The Proportions of the Body

After that, the really hard part! To be honest, I already knew about planning out the shoulders, elbows and knees as circles. But in the lesson I learned about the shapes of the upper and lower torso. And that is new to me and extremely helpful. In addition, I appreciated the tips about creating a background of dynamic lines and splodges. In my opinion is does suggest the figure in movement, which is not easy.

Ballerina in Flight

As you may know if you follow my blog, I have attended life drawing classes for a few years now. And I’ll finish up with one of my favourite drawings, done from life when we were also thinking about Matisse. In fact, a lot of his later cut- out work is very gestural. So, here’s my tribute to that great French artist. Actually, you could see more of my paintings of the figure in People, a section of my gallery.

Model in Blue

Discover Shapes in Paint Doodles

Flight

Good morning everyone. This is a fun exercise I did in the tutorial by Charlie O’Shields in the Sketchbook Revival course by Karen Abend. And I tried to discover shapes in simple paint doodles, following the method described by Charlie. To be honest, it was easy to follow. First, scribble some marks with clean water on your brush, on watercolour paper. Most importantly, leave some blank spaces and don’t cover all the sheet. Next, quickly drop in some very wet paint and allow it to mingle. As you can probably tell, my paint blotches did start to dry a little. So I added more and ‘grew’ a few cauliflowers! But, it didn’t matter and just added to the design. When it’s thoroughly dry, take a bit of time to study it. Then pick out the outlines of anything you see in pen or fine marker. Just let your imagination go wild!

Actually, I did enjoy this playing with paint and ideas, and I felt it was a good antidote to worrying about all the sad things I hear on the news. So, if you want a little chuckle, have a look at the other daft doodles I produced.

In the Depths of the Sea
Night Time
Puppy

Finally, here’s an example of a ten minute doodle (done last night). And this shows my usual method of doodling abstracts and how to discover shapes. In fact, I draw or paint colours and shapes at random and then develop it from there. In this case, first, chop courgettes for the dinner, then sit down with marker pens, oil pastels, a biro and tiny notebook!

Courgettes for Dinner

Trying New Approaches with Flowers

The Tulips on the Table

Good morning everyone. Lately I have been working my way through the excellent tutorials in the free Sketchbook Revival course with Karen Abend. Actually, it’s finished now, but I will certainly look out for it next year. In particular I have enjoyed the sections on painting flowers. And I have been trying the new approaches introduced by several of the tutors. For example, using a looser painting technique when observing flowers from life.

Bouquet with Roses

To be honest, this was quite difficult to do, as I have always observed each flower carefully before. And then attempted to paint all details on each bloom separately. But here I observed closely first. And then tried to paint the different elements and shapes into flowers that were pleasing in the overall design. Anyway, this was my first attempt and things can only get better! In fact, this exercise ‘Mixed Media Floral Study’ was led by Joy Ting.

Trying New Approaches in Design

Flower Design 1

This was another exercise that I enjoyed, a simple flower design by Viddhi Saschit. And the tutor broke it down into easy steps, so that I created this reasonably attractive design. Afterwards I felt that I could try to paint another little pattern by myself.

Finally, I just wanted to show you The Tulips on the Table, which I did quite spontaneously in watercolour and oil pastel. And, I like to think that I put into practice some of the new ideas that I learnt. You could see more of my flower pictures here.

Look at my Group Projects

Amazonian Waterlily Pond

Good morning everyone. I did a bit of tidying yesterday, because we could hardly move in the living room and hall. And all because I brought my stuff back from two exhibitions and failed to store it away! Anyway, to be honest, the space was already packed to capacity with sketchbooks and loose pieces on paper. And while I was shuffling paper, I came across some work I had done for my group projects. Somehow, this kind of painting ranks a bit lower in my mind than my own self lead creations. Actually, I shouldn’t really think that way, so, to make up for it, here they are in the spotlight.

Gouache Paintings of Brazil – one of our Group Projects

As you can see, the title says it all and this was for our Beginner Gouache group on the Mewe platform. In fact, we are a friendly bunch. None of us claim to be experts and we help each other along the way. And help is very welcome when you’re trying to make progress with this challenging medium!

The House for a Folding Book of a Street Project

While I was tidying up, I found these paintings I created for some of my group projects. I love the variety of inspiration they give me for my art work.
A House for the Street

This is my second offering for the street and it is also in gouache paint. (Because it is so easy to take out and use at our art society meetings). If you would like to see my first house, look at this post here and keep watching this channel for an update on the book. In construction as we speak!

An Unfinished Project

Reading

Finally, here’s a finished painting for one of the group projects I intended to enter, but never quite completed. To be honest, I didn’t think it was quite good enough, the brief for the open call was very restricting. And the image I ended up with didn’t inspire me. So, this princess stayed at home! And now I’ll get back to finding space to store all of these paintings I’ve “tidied”!

Paintings Inspired by Online Tuition

Dominant

Good morning everyone. When I have ten minutes or so spare, I will always do a quick sketch.( In between finishing off online tuition projects!). On this occasion I quickly sketched a doodle in watercolour, limiting myself to three colours. When it was dry, I doodled some more, adding some black calligraphic marks on top. Later on, I strengthened these marks with one of my new soft oil pastels. Of course, you may have realised that this was influenced by the Painting with Yvette course that I am following. Otherwise I never would have tried putting this kind of a motif on top of a background.

Butterfly Wings

Now this idea is something else that I picked up from online tuition. But unfortunately I can’t remember the details, I look at so much lovely stuff online. Anyway, I did in fact take the idea and do my own version. And the method is to take images of motifs you have chosen to use as inspiration for an abstract composition. Then incorporate them into a design, without doing a realistic painting of them. For example, for this piece I sourced good photos of butterflies and flowers. Then I isolated the shapes and colours that pleased me and tried to make a harmonious pattern. Actually, it does fry your brain a bit in the process! But, I’m still keen to do more. See more intuitive abstracts in this post here

Butterfly Wings – a detail

Art Work Inspired by Japan

Full Moon, inspired by Hiroshige

Good morning everyone. This is a painting I did for this month’s theme in our Beginner Gouache group, Of course, the theme is Japan and I looked up works by Hiroshige and Hokusai, two masters of the woodblock printing technique. Actually, in this art work inspired by Japan, I did change some of the elements in the design when I painted this tribute to the artist. And I just loved working in this gorgeous limited palette of colours, a couple of blues, black and white. Perhaps you agree with me how effective these choices can be, creating a mood of calm and serenity.

The Great Wave

You may remember seeing this acrylic painting before, if you like to look at this blog. Anyway, I painted this in response to a theme for a Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition a couple of years ago. In fact, we chose from a long list of a hundred objects selected from the marvellous British Museum collection. And I chose that well-known print by Hokusai, The Great Wave. But I set it in a local beauty spot, so that the keen fisherman on the bank was blissfully unaware of the coming deluge!

Another Art Work Inspired by Japan

Mount Fuji

Finally, I couldn’t miss out this acrylic painting of the familiar iconic view of Mount Fuji. It shows the view from over the water. And this painting is at present on display at Rotherham Roar Buzz Gallery. (Incidentally, we take it down next Wednesday, the month is nearly up). So, I found at least three paintings inspired by Japan. And there are two more in existence, if only I could find them!

All my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. To find out more, go to the Contact Me page and send me an email and we can have a chat.

Old and New Style Abstracts

The Path of Life

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you the way my abstract painting is changing. The image above is one of my new abstracts, experiments I am creating as I follow a great online course. It’s called Painting with Yvette. And, I’m really enjoying it. Because the colours and compositions are quite different from my own intuitive abstracts.

The Abstract Section of my Exhibition

The picture above is one of the sections in my current solo exhibition at Rotherham Roar. Actually, I am pleased with the way they came together. And each one has a particular meaning to me which evolved as I painted it. In contrast to that way of creating, my new abstracts are of course suggested by the tutor. Nonetheless, the brush marks are full of significance to me the artist. Perhaps in a more subtle way than in my earlier paintings. For example, the painting at the top of this post, The Path of Life, developed out of the suggestions by Yvette on colours to choose and techniques to use. I’m very often out of my comfort zone but I do feel that I am moving on.

The Path of Life

Another of my New Abstracts

Dominant

Anyway, I’m learning new approaches and techniques on this course so that I can apply them in my own work. So, it’s all part of a learning curve and I love it!

Pink and Blue 2

What do you think, is this old or new? Find out more 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

Experiments at Beginner Printing Workshop

Which Way Up?

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick catchup post, I’m quite busy with two exhibitions at the moment, so, more of that later! Anyway, we did an in house beginner printing workshop at Art Society last week. And we carved out designs on cheap polystyrene tiles. Honestly we really did have a great time. Firstly I concentrated on a simple star shaped design.

Stars 1
Stars 2

Then I went a bit more fancy, added two colours, reversed the block for the second print and used cardboard to print on ( breakfast cereal packet, actually!

Which Way Up?

Finally, I went mad and printed white, black and orange on black paper. And I tore up the two blocks into pieces and over printed with them till the paper was saturated with ink! Perhaps you can see how the protective sheet of paper I placed on top ripped out chunks of the print. All because it wasn’t dry as I took it home. In fact, it didn’t dry for a week!

Black on Black

Anyway, it was great fun and we went home full of ideas to try out on our next printing workshop. You could have a look at more mixed media experiments in this post here.

Quick Sketch in Oil Pastel

Movement

Good morning everyone. Today this is a short post because I’m insanely busy this week! Incidentally, have you ever noticed how everything happens at once?. Not only is my show opening this week, but I’m helping to put up our group exhibition at the weekend. And, I did squeeze in an oil pastel workshop at the weekend, which was brilliant. What a difference good quality materials make. In fact, it was quite a revelation to use artists quality pastels and paper on Saturday. Not to mention learning from our excellent tutor how to blend colours and create textures. So, I promptly ordered some pastel and oil pencils online and can’t wait until they arrive. Actually, the work we produced at the class will be on display for a short while, so more of that later. And there’s a cute little bird in oil pastel here , from a while ago.

Anyway, this is an enthusiastic little oil pastel sketch I did when I got home, to practise some of the techniques. Finally, here’s a taster of the work in my new exhibition, more of that in my next post.

Jagged

Two New Style Abstract Paintings

Waves

Good morning everyone. Well, as I promised, I’d like to show you the first abstract composition I painted from Painting with Yvette. And it’s a new style abstract painting, for me, that is! Actually I found out about this course by chance, just at the very time I was feeling that I needed a change of direction. To be honest, as you might have noticed, the shapes and composition are not all that different from the ones I often use in my paintings. But, first of all, the colours are very different, or, in different combinations – see this post here. Secondly, there is a lot more empty space between the elements. As you might say, a bit more breathing space. Lastly, there are more definite calligraphic marks. In fact, our tutor Yvette St Amant is very generous with her advice and guidance. So I try not to reproduce her work, but to use the ideas and develop them into my own style.

However, I find it quite difficult to achieve and, I spend a few hours on each painting, but I do feel that I am learning. Indeed, I think this is the only way to achieve progress, to spend time practising.

Another New Style Abstract

Pink and Gold

Actually, have a look at the image this way round, I’ve just this minute noticedthat in this view, a totally different idea springs to mind. To me it suggests new things on the horizon.

A New Horizon

I think I like it better this way! And, putting gold paint on a painting and having it make sense in an abstract way is a first for me! So, I’m working on a couple more of these new direction abstract compositions at the moment. But quite slowly. And I will show you when they are ready. (By the way, these are gouache not acrylic)

Try Zentangle Patterns in Animals

My Zentangle Monster

Good morning everyone. I hope you like my monster filled with Zentangle patterns. Incidentally, have you heard of Zentangle drawing? Actually, it’s been very popular for a few years now. Of course, my drawing is only inspired by this style. Because I haven’t got the hand control or the patience to do the beautiful, intricate patterns that people do. Although I do admire them very much. In fact, I heard about this style of drawing a couple of years ago at my drawing group. And we decided to use animal outlines as a template. Have a look at what I did then.

The Ink Fish ( !)
A Decorated Penguin

Anyway, the main point of these exercises is to enjoy yourself and to create a feeling of calm as you draw. And, it really does work – I feel it myself and I have seen the soothing effect on my art buddies. In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you are creating something original or following along someone else’s design. Because, the result is the same – a calm, quiet room full of contented people! I drew my zentangle patterns at our art society meeting recently and I sketched a made up monster outline. Then, I amused myself drawing the lines of pattern design so that they followed the contours of the body. When I was looking through my picture gallery I found another recent attempt at the style. And, this time it was for one of last year’s Inktober prompts – tick.

Zentangle Patterns for Inktober

Tick

To be honest, I think it’s a good idea to try something completely different from your usual art practice. Certainly it refreshes your ideas, and that’s always a good thing. For myself, these new ideas seem to find their way into my quick abstracts like the fruit one in this post here. And I do believe that they can take your art into new directions that might even surprise you! But, also, it’s fun to do work that’s a bit less serious from time to time.

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