A Day at the Seaside

The Path down to the Sea

Good morning everyone. A day at the seaside – I love this intuitive abstract that I made when I was thinking about a day out. Well, to be precise, I was only dreaming about going to the coast. And that’s because we haven’t been able to go for over a year now. Partly due to Covid restrictions and also for practical reasons – I chose to stay home and keep safe. Anyway, I can always dream!

A Day at the Seaside – an Abstract Acrylic

A Day at the Seaside – in my Dreams

However, I must insist that this composition must have come from my subconscious. As I have mentioned before, I do a first quick impulsive pass and create a full design, covering all the paper. Then I might leave it until next day, look at it and think about it a lot! After that, I’ll work on it from all angles and enjoy myself, creating texture. For the next session, I’ll choose which is top, and which is bottom and have a look at the balance of shapes and colours. And that’s when I get nice surprises!

The Unexpected Features

Fish or Seabirds?
The Path and the Fence?

Actually, this picture almost painted itself and it was the first of my summery abstracts. Before this, most of my intuitive abstracts were in a different palette of colours. For example, here is one I did at the end of winter, with dramatic, sombre colours. In contrast, my seaside picture is in warm, mellow colours, with hints of cloudless sky and fresh vegetation. And, of course, the almost tactile yellow ochre indicating sand.

On the Shore

Finally, I made this collage a couple of years ago, partly as a tribute to the wonderful Mark Hearld. So, my imaginary scene of a day out at the seaside was made up of painted collage papers, cut-outs and watercolour. And then rounded off with a pretty, decorative border in muted colours. Ah, it’s almost as good as being there in person (almost!)

You could look at more scenes of the fab Yorkshire coast in my Gallery – Landscapes here. It’s affordable art, folks! Contact me for details here.

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch

The View through the Window

Good morning everyone. I have literally just finished this sketch. (And wiped all the pastel chalk dust off the table! ) As you can see, I made a charcoal and pastel sketch of the view through my window. Well, I have distorted the perspective slightly. But, your eye should travel down the garden, over the fence and the lovely, old brick wall. Then you get a glimpse of the rather fine sandstone office building to the left. And one of the small trees in my crowded shrubbery garden is featured, dominating the space. Actually, it’s an overgrown pyracantha, very hacked about over the years, in an effort to keep it in its place!

To be honest, I sketched this rather impetuously , and I don’t claim to have any skill with pastel painting. You see, I had been browsing the net and I found a great post by kestrelart, all about sketching quickly outdoors. The artist very generously described trying charcoal for capturing the scene and then adding colour with pastel. Or, watercolour and also spraying the paper in some places and leaving others dry. What fun! In fact, I couldn’t wait to try it out. By the way, does any one else use these materials together?

You can see how well the artist uses this technique if you look at his latest post here. As for me, I’ll keep on practising and I’ll definitely take charcoal and pastel out with me next time I go out plein air sketching.

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch of the Camelia Bush

The View through the Window – a closeup

Here I have attempted to paint the camelia bush – it flowered really well this year. However, we’ve been having some late frosts recently and, at the moment, the blooms are partly brown and crispy! But, this is all part of the trials of life as a gardener, as some of you will know!

An Abstracted Cityscape in Acrylic

Cityscape 1

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you my attempt at a semi-abstract cityscape. Actually, I didn’t want to waste the leftover paint on my palette, so I started doodling. (Or, you could call it an intuitive abstract!). Anyway, when I saw the shape of a doorway, I thought I would try to paint a cityscape. Then, I loved the blocks of colour so much that it gradually led me into some semi- abstraction of the scene. And then a bit more! To tell the truth, this is my first attempt at this subject. That is, if you discount one collage of an imaginary view over a city that I did a few years ago. But, I would definitely like to explore this theme a bit more . And, I could even do a series, like a proper artist!

However, I must say that when I posted this on my Instagram account at least two friends saw this as an industrial scene, a steelworks melting shop to be exact. Well, at least they both liked it, so that’s the main thing.

Somewhere in France

And now, in complete contrast, this is a cityscape in southern France somewhere. That is to say, judging by the architecture and the strength of the sunlight. Obviously, I painted this based on a reference photo, and a bit of memory, not from my imagination like the first image. At the time I painted it, a few years ago, I was quite pleased with it. And, I still am, but, I’m quite glad that I am now moving away from following the photo so carefully. So, if I were to do a similar scene, I’m sure I would interpret it with more artistic licence.

An Urban Sketch Cityscape

The Calder Building at the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

Finally, this is an urban sketch I did, on the spot in about 30 minutes. Incidentally, I was out sketching with Urbansketchers Yorkshire, back in the day when there were no restrictions on mixing. Happy days! And, this old warehouse by the canal was part of the site dedicated to the well-known sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Well, I know it has its flaws, and I’ve learnt a bit more about perspective since then. But I do like the freshness and atmosphere I’ve captured here. Plus, of course the memory of a fab day out sketching.

So, whether I use acrylic or watercolour, a photo, my imagination or plein air approach. And, whether I paint in realistic or abstract style, I still find plenty of inspiration in this subject. You could see a very different type of cityscape if you look at this post here – the Piece Hall in Halifax, UK.

Painting Outside in the Spring Sunshine

A quick watercolour sketch of a charming scene, looking over the reservoir to the cafe on the hill.
Thrybergh Country Park

Good morning everyone. As you may know, I absolutely love painting outside and the glorious fine, sunny weather is perfect for me. So, yesterday I went to Thrybergh Country Park to meet up with some art buddies. And we could paint all morning in complete comfort. That is, no shivering with cold or battling with strong winds to keep hold of paper and so on.

The Colours of Spring when Painting Outside

To be honest, it was the colours of the scene which inspired me most. Because at this time of year, as the trees begin to come into leaf, some of the greens are soft and yellowy and even the more vibrant ones are still easy on the eye. However, in this part of the landscape that I chose, most of the trees are bare and stark. Actually, that gave quite a dramatic effect against the calm, lazy surface of the water, gently reflecting the sky and trees. Of course, I did use artistic licence and I left out all the waterbirds. Also, all the walkers. But, for today it was the sight of nature gradually progressing through Springtime that interested me. Incidentally, this man made lake is available for free swimming on two evening sessions during the week. Maybe one day!

A close up of the scene at Thrybergh, which I did when I was painting outside.  The cafe at the top of the hill, and the path leading down to the water's edge.
The Cafe at Thrybergh Res

Naturally, there was plenty of time for coffee and chat. Plus, most importantly of all, scrumptious cake! And we talked about pochade boxes and outdoor easels. Then how to prepare wooden panels with gesso. And we discussed the different methods of capturing a scene like this using realistic versus impressionistic styles. So, all my artistic batteries were charged up. And I really am looking forward to a lovely summer season of sketch trips with like minded people. Sheer bliss! Have a look at this post here to read all about another sketchcrawl on a hot summer’s day last year.

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 .

Mountains and High Hills in Acrylic

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

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

Mountains and High Hills in Home Territory

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

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

Imaginary Mountains

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

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

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

Virtual Sketching with Yorkshire Urbansketchers

A lively watercolour sketch of a fruit and veg stall in Leeds Market.  Done en plein air, not virtual sketching.
The Fruit and Veg Stall

Good morning everyone. To be honest, the image above is not an example of virtual sketching. However, I wanted to show you the sort of work I do when we go out into the real world . In fact, on this particular day a couple of years ago, we went to Leeds Market Hall, UK. And we had special permission to go onto the top balcony which is usually closed to the public. And, what a wonderful view we had, looking over the stalls below. This stallholder shouted his wares incessantly and he attracted loads of customers to buy.

Personally, I feel that sketching quickly like this gives a liveliness to the work. Even though the technique suffers of course. But practice does help me to improve at speed painting! Just to explain, the aim of the Urban Sketchers movement is to record what you see, record the world one sketch at a time!

Virtual Sketching during the First Lockdown.

A watercolour sketch of a peaceful harbour in Iceland.  Virtual sketching.
A Port in Greenland

Now, this is the first virtual sketch that I did back in April last year. Unfortunately, the people who put this group together decided to close it after a few months. But I really enjoyed taking part. And I virtually strolled around in Greenland, Venice and Manchester on Google Earth. We were instructed to sit in front of the laptop and imagine being at the scene. Also, I had to use my travel sketching set and work to the same fairly short timetable as when outside. So I did! Actually, it felt a bit odd to start with. But I gradually relaxed into it. If you remember, the first Lockdown in the UK was very strict, and this was a way of getting out! At least in my imagination.

Going out sketching with Urbansketchers Yorkshire

Sketching in Knaresborough

Finally, I sketched this on Saturday when we ‘went’ to Knaresborough together in North Yorkshire. To tell the truth, as I looked up images of this charming place online I realised something. And I thought about how difficult it has been for many people never going more than a short distance from home. But, of course , keeping everyone as safe as possible is the priority. Anyway, I chose to draw the entrance to a famous visitor attraction in Knaresborough – Mother Shipton’s Cave. Apparently, she was a recluse who lived in a cave on this limestone river gorge. And she made a name for herself seeing into the future, the predictions being written down for us to see today.

And I completed the sketch quickly, with my basic watercolour set (see here) and I tried to imagine myself en plein air. It’s the next best thing to being there. Thank goodness for daydreaming! If you want to see my sketch of Wentworth Old Church ( within permitted visiting distance), see here .

New Beginnings – a Story Picture

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the Story?

A Different Path – a closeup

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

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

Winter Landscapes, in my Sketchbook

An instinctive,  semi abstract composition of trees in the mist, one of my winter landscapes. In graphite pencil, acrylic and ink.
Trees in the Mist

Good morning everyone. I thought I’d like to share with you some winter landscapes I’ve painted quite recently. In fact, I realized I’d better hurry up, as everyone is now spotlighting the signs of Spring!

Well, the image above is a mixed media piece I did instinctively straight after a short drive in local countryside. As you can see, the mist was fairly thick, and the sun just peeped through briefly in a couple of spots. Actually, I was quite fascinated by the tangle of bare, tree branches looming in and out of focus . And all this against the thick, soupy consistency of the off-white sky.

Closeup of Trees in the Mist

Winter Landscapes – Part One, the Instinctive Semi Abstract

Firstly, I scribbled some trunks, branches and random lines with a graphite pencil. And this gave me very strong marks, just what I wanted. Then, my idea was to lay in shapes in the negative spaces between the branches with acrylic paint. But the paint wouldn’t quite cooperate – I think it’s time I tried water mixable oils! However, I used what I had, sketched in some grasses and so on. Then I put some detail into the tree trunks with sepia ink, applied with a tiny brush.

A Winter Scene – Part Two , the Plein Air Sketch

A quick, en plein air sketch in watercolour.  One of my favourite winter landscapes,  Wentworth Castle Gardens.
Wentworth Castle – the Folly

And this is the other one of my winter landscapes – a watercolour sketch I did en plein air. To be honest, the ‘air’ was very cold! So I spent 20 minutes sketching from life, then painted more layers of washes at home. Again we have the bare branches against the beautiful, subtle greys of the sky. But I hope you can see the difference between the two approaches to the similar subject matter. That is, an impressionistic, imagined painting and an on the spot sketch, staying close to reality. Which style do you think gives a more effective record of a scene?

We often walk in the grounds of Wentworth Castle Gardens (NT) and I love to paint the mock castle here and the other features, such as the rockery, see here if you’d like to enjoy the views.

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!

Painting Faces in Acrylic Paint

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

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

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

The Sistine Madonna by Raphael

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

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

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

Half Finished Cherubs

The Three Stages of Painting Faces

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

Painting the Clouds

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

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

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

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

English Cottages in Acrylic and Watercolour

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

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

The Reflections of the Cottage

Closeup of the Water and the Reflection

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

English Cottages in Watercolour

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

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

Closeup of the House by the River

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

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

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.

Little Hand Painted Cards or Prints?

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

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

The sunflower, another of my hand painted cards.

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

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

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

The Printed Card

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

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

Happy Monday!

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

Through the Window- Urban Sketching

A view over terraced houses with a glorious red, pink and orange sunrise - through the window. Felt tip pen.
Sunrise

Good morning everyone. Last week we had a really spectacular sunrise and this is my urban sketch, done through the window. Honestly, I think it was the most amazing sunrise sky I have ever seen. So, for quite a short period of time the red, gold and pink in the intense turquoise blue sky were glorious. What a beautiful planet we live on.

Actually I had just treated myself to a pack of cheap felt tip pens the day before. And I was very keen to try them out, especially as there were more colours in this selection. Normally I buy only the basics and try to blend them. But, having several shades of, for example, red, orange and yellow was much easier! And I used a very scribbly technique, similar to ones I’ve seen on Instagram.

Urban Sketching Postponed.

As you may know, I am a member of the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire but, obviously, our activities have been cut short by the pandemic. And I really miss the opportunity to go out into towns and cities with a group of art buddies. I seem to remember a lovely morning sketching on a high balcony above some market stalls. And the building itself is very interesting too – an ornate Victorian Market Hall in Leeds, UK. Left to my own devices I would always sketch in the countryside, as I did here in the country park . Therefore the urban sketchcrawls give me the encouragement to sketch buildings, churches, markets and streets.

Urban Sketching Through the Car Window

A quick watercolour sketch through the window of my car, parked in the supermarket carpark
Supermarket Carpark 2

As you can probably tell, I sketched this in watercolour (about 20 minutes) in a very cold car. Well, you can have a good laugh at the cars, if you like!. But, in my own defence, I always avoid drawing them. So I think it was a brave first attempt to have them so prominent in this drawing. By the way, the weather here in the UK is quite cold and, of course all cafes are closed. So, any urban sketching outdoors has to be very brief or through the window!

The Church through the Museum Window

St. Mary’s – a sketch from an Urban Sketchers Yorkshire trip 15 months ago.

More Dog Portraits – Gouache and Acrylic

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

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

A Bush Dog, a Close up.

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

One of my Acrylic Dog Portraits

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

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

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

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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.

Sketching Outside in Winter with Watercolour

The Town Park

Hello everyone. Happy New Year to you all – let’s make this a good one ! Well, sketching outside in winter actually depends on just a few things, a fine day, some simple art materials and enthusiasm! To be honest, I have sketched outside in drizzly rain (see image above ) But, if the rain persists, the paper becomes too wet and the watercolour develops strange patches of colour that you definitely didn’t intend! Seriously though, I do enjoy sketching outside in cooler weather. And you can always go for a brisk walk to warm up and drink some hot coffee from your flask. ( I forgot to mention this in the list of essentials )

Sketching Outside in the Town Park

Sketching outside in the town park. Ink and watercolour sketch showing the impressive tower and the grand entrance with a flight of steps.
The Town Park

Back in November, on a cold, intermittently rainy day , I sat for half an hour and managed this watercolour sketch. And I just went straight in with the ink and didn’t bother with a pencil sketch. Incidentally, this is my preferred method of outdoor sketching. Actually, it does help me to produce a fresh, lively painting, a record of the occasion, which is what I’m aiming at. Although it was damp and grey, the park was quite busy with families, pairs of friends meeting up outdoors and loners, coming out to stare hungrily at company. There was also an elderly jogger doing a circuit round the tower and up and down the steps. Actually, this tower is a fine sight. And a team of volunteers look after it and show visitors round on Sundays. However, I must explain that my sketch only shows about a half of the impressive height of the tower.

Sketching from the Car

A watercolour sketch showing a wide view of snowy fields and winter trees, through the  car windscreen- almost sketching outside.
A Snowy Day

As you can see, in December the weather became much colder. And I was dying to go out and attempt to paint the snow covered fields. Fortunately, we found a decent parking spot with a huge view over the fields and little copses of trees. And, I was still hankering after propping up my sketch book and paints on the dry stone wall. But, it wasn’t practicable, so I settled for the passenger seat of the car. I wanted to convey the way the tufts of rough grass were forcing their way through the slowly melting snow. And, I enjoyed leaving the paper white for the snow – it seems ages since I painted a wintry picture. This one took 40 minutes

The Winter Trees

The Winter Trees

As I have tried to show here in this close up, in the golden sunshine, the bare branches almost glowed a warm russet brown. And, then I realized that I was trying to change the temperature of the colours and the sky. Because the stormy clouds were moving in and I hadn’t noticed! So, it was time to call it a day and go home to get warmed up. Let’s hope for more milder, fine days – ideal for outdoor sketching!

If you would like to see more of my recent winter sketching, see here and here.

My Natural Style Christmas Decorations

A gouache painting, showing a Christmas wreath , natural style. Hanging on a garden gate
Christmas Wreath

Hello everyone. I hope you have had a peaceful few days. Before the season is over, I’d like to show you this little gouache painting in my artjournal, a natural style of Christmas decoration. To be honest, I chose this subject in response to the challenge ‘ Christmas at Home ‘. It was set to inspire us in our Beginner Gouache Group on Mewe. And, I think it is a really good subject to explore. Especially now, of course, when some people can’t get home or see the ones they want to.

Anyway, this little illustration took far longer then I expected to complete, considering that it is only 8 inch square. But, I think it is really good that I try different styles of painting and drawing – it gets me out of my comfort zone. And it can also be surprisingly enjoyable.

Christmas Tree – Natural Style

Christmas Tree – Natural Style.

Actually, I painted this gloriously impressive tree from life, whilst sitting in the beautifully decorated Ballroom at Cannon Hall, a nearby stately home. However, I don’t think that my on the spot watercolour really captures the full effect of the tree. It must have been at least 18 foot tall! Personally, I adore real life fir trees and we always have one in the house ( about 6 feet tall ). It really makes Christmas for me. And, I also choose a very simple, natural style wreath, made of fir or holly, with just a simple ribbon bow. In fact, a lot of the decorations in my house are painted wood and ceramic,textile, my own festive paintings, flowers and plants plus candles – quite simple and natural.

A photo of a twig garland decorated in natural style with holly, fir ,slices of dried lime and white wooden stars.

We went for a walk before Christmas in the formal garden of Nostell Priory, another big house nearby. And to my delight, as we walked away from the lake towards the Menagerie Garden, we caught sight of the natural style decorations in the trees. And they were beautifully made by a local artist, using twigs, pinecones, twine and holly. As you might imagine, I felt quite inspired. Something to bear in mind for next Christmas! Click here to see some of my festive paintings from last year.

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.