Last Chance to See Show

A Castle in Portugal

Good morning everyone. This is your last chance to see my solo show in the cafe gallery at Darfield Museum! So I thought I would choose three of my personal favourites to spotlight. Firstly, A Castle in Portugal – and the way this one turned out really pleased me . As you might have noticed, it’s in gouache paint. And I love the texture and chalky quality to the paint. However, it does have its challenges and I’m working on it! To be honest, you have to develop a lightness of touch with the layers. Otherwise, if the top layer is a little bit too wet and you are heavy handed with the brush, the colours will merge.

Swaledale Barn

Now this one I really enjoyed painted and I started it during our holiday in the Yorkshire Dales in July. If you don’t know the area, it’s a series of rivers running through pretty valleys. And this barn is in the vale of the River Swale and it’s a very typical scene. In fact, you can see these small barns almost in every field. Apparently, the tradition was to try and grow two crops of hay each season. And store it conveniently in the barn in the field, so that the farmer and the animals had easy access to the winter feed.

Last Chance to See Top Withens

Top Withens

Anyway, I am very fond of this one too. And, I’m very pleased to say that someone bought it! To be honest, I’m thrilled that someone really loved it enough to take it home. Particularly because it almost sold at another gallery, but mistakes were made. Unfortunately, that potential customer went home disappointed. However, now it will be hung somewhere where it will be appreciated, and that’s all I want. But, I will miss this large framed picture, it does remind so much of the brooding moors up near Haworth. If you want to know the story, read this post here. So, tomorrow really is your last chance to see this show!

Sketches from Heritage Open Day

Open Door at St. Mary’s

Good morning everyone. This is the quick watercolour sketch I did in St. Mary’s church, last weekend on Open Heritage Day. Actually, the event lasts for two weeks and it’s great to have the opportunity to visit buildings that are usually closed. For example, last year we went in the very impressive National Union of Mineworkers Headquarters. Of course, St Mary’s is open several times a week. But it was lovely to be welcomed into this beautiful space by the volunteers and the vicar.

Anyway, I chose this view to sketch, as I wanted to show the tall pillars of white stone. They are so tall that they make the massive door look small!

The View Towards the Altar

Next I felt inspired to try and include some of the patterns and colours that really stood out amongst the pale plastered walls and pillars. So I chose an abstract representation of this view down towards the altar.

Patterns and Colours in the Church

After that we went to the gallery coffee shop which is just opposite the church, for coffee and cake. And also to look at everyone’s sketches. What a perfect way to spend a morning on Open Heritage Day! Maybe you might like to see the outside of this building in this post here , it is very picturesque.

Why Do I Love Red?

The Backs

Good morning everyone. Why do I love red? Well, that’s a good question, and I’m not really sure of the answer. But I thought I would show you this acrylic painting from a few years ago and try and explain. For example, I was inspired by an old black and white photo of children playing on ‘the backs’. That is, behind the terraced row of houses in a pit village where they live. Obviously the colours were black, grey and white. However, I wanted to show the brightness and hope children bring to a community. So I painted them in colour. In my opinion, the touch of red draws the eye most and makes my point perfectly.

Perhaps you may be wondering how I chose this subject for this post? Actually, it was the theme for our latest meeting at our art society. And, it really inspired us all, so picked out some of my own paintings featuring red. Incidentally, this is my unfinished effort from Tuesday’s meeting. And it is a farm building with a tin roof, in gouache. When it’s propenly finished, I will show you . Anyway, in my opinion, the redness forms a strong focal point and also makes the scene look cheerful!

A Touch of Red

So, why do I love red? Because it can be cheerful and it helps the composition by being a strong focal point. In fact, it can also heighten the drama of a scene. How about the effect in this one?

Zig Zag

Personally, I think this is quite dramatic! Finally, of course, red can suggest blood and danger. And I do have some drawings done in the pandemic which reflect this. I’ll show them in another post, I think.

All my work is for sale at reasonable prices, simply email me on the Contact Me page for further details.

New Outback Painting in Gouache

The Lone Tree

Good morning everyone. Well, I’ve finished it at last! My new outback painting in gouache. Actually, it was three quarters finished a week ago, but I put it on our dining table . And then I looked at it a lot! Eventually I realised that there were too many clouds for the balance of the design to be pleasing.

So I used the ‘Draw’ function on the editing system and covered up the excess clouds on the image of my painting. Until it looked good, then I altered the painting itself. In my opinion, this is a great way to try out variations without using a paint brush. In fact, it’s really useful when painting in gouache as it is quite difficult to alter on the paper. Obviously it’s not as forgiving as acrylic when it comes to ‘mending’ mistakes. But you can learn how to do it by trial and error.

Another part of my process that is different when using gouache is adding trees over a background. Normally, I would paint the tree in right from the beginning. Then ‘cut’ the paint of the sky, for example, around it. After that I would progress all parts of the painting at the same time. To my eyes this looks better. However, here I simply put down the lower tree trunk as a marker and painted all the rest of it later. And it felt very strange!

My Outback Painting
The Lone Tree – a closeup

Anyway, I felt pleased with how it turned out, because it’s all a learning process. If you want to see how I painted one of my earlier gouache paintings, see here. Hopefully you can see a bit of improvement? But the beauty of painting with gouache is feeling a definite sense of achievement after each one you do.

Have You Seen These Paintings?

Somewhere in France

Good morning everyone. Today for this very quick post I’m showing you these paintings that you may not have seen before. When I packed them up for delivery to Darfield Museum for my solo show, I realised that they might be new to you.

As you perhaps can guess, this is a scene in the afternoon heat in a small town, somewhere in the south of France. Actually, I spent a year in a town much like this back in the seventies. And I well remember walking through the streets early afternoon, going back to work after lunch break. As the heat was intense, everyone walked carefully in every patch of shade, no matter how small. Obviously, coming from a cool North of England, this was a new experience for me. Alas, with climate change, I’m getting more used to higher summer temperatures now.

Scarbrough in the Mist

In complete contrast, I painted this scene of the Yorkshire coast in memory of lots of strolls along this beach. And, we have walked so many of them in summer mist, or a sea fret as we call it. Which seems to be a band of mist clinging to the coastal strip, when a few miles inland, the sun shines down strongly! Here you can also see the iconic Grand Hotel in the background.

Anyway, both of these paintings will be in the show at Darfield Museum in September. And there are lots more on display in my Gallery.

Scarbrough in the Mist – in a virtual room

My Sketchbooks Over the Years

The View from Patterdale Hotel

Good morning everyone. In my last post I showed you little watercolour sketches from my sketchbooks. And it got me thinking about how many sketchbooks I had filled over the years. Quite a few! So, I looked through one or two and found plenty that I drew whilst on holiday in the Lake District.

For example, this one is a view over to the hills from the garden at the front of Patterdale Hotel, near Ullswater. Actually, we used to stay here once or twice a year, pre pandemic. Unfortunately, I still don’t feel brave enough yet to stay in an hotel. Anyway, the views all around are spectacular. And it was very tempting to sketch while sitting on the patio garden with a cold drink after a walk in the hills.

Place Fell, from Patterdale Hotel

Well, this is another view from the garden, the majestic Place Fell, which rises to 2154 ft. How could you not draw this? If you’re wondering where the lake is, this view shows the end of the lake, which is rather boggy and soon floods after heavy rain. These two paintings from my sketchbooks are about three or four years old, but, look what else I found! A very similar sort of landscape from 2003. And, I have some even older! How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!

A Lake View

Please note, these are all plein air sketches done in 25 to 40 minutes, to capture the moment and they are 7 by 5 inches. If you wish to see a white cottage view in the Lakes, all neatly finished off, see here.

Plein Air Painting in Cumbria

Inside Brougham Hall

Good morning everyone. We are just back from a short break in the Lake District, UK, where I managed to fit in some plein air painting. And we visited this lovely place here- Brougham Hall, pronounced ‘Broom’, apparently! Of course, quite a lot of it is in ruins now. But a friends group (volunteers) look after it, on a small budget. And they are managing a long project of restoration. However, it is quite charming and I sat in the courtyard cafe here and did this watercolour sketch. Actually, you can see the well which provided the castle’s water, the structure in bottom right.

In fact, on that day we were spoilt for choice. Because we spent the rest of the day visiting another castle and not one but two henges. In case you didn’t know they are the remains of earthwork structures constructed in Prehistoric times. Unfortunately, no one seems to know exactly why they were created. So, it’s all guesswork from there onwards. But, you can let your imagination run wild about what they were used for. Most likely meeting places of some kind, but, very evocative and intriguing!

A Plein Air Sketch of a Lake

Haweswater

Next day it was misty and drizzly, so we drove to Haweswater, a lake up on the high ground. And they enlarged this stretch of water to provide a reservoir of drinking water for Manchester. However, to achieve this they flooded the land near the top of the lake. And in my sketch here I painted the remains of the village buildings that are usually under water. After all, this has been the driest summer for years in the UK. Anyway, I tried very hard to show the misty atmosphere. But I stopped sketching when I realised I subtly changed the lighting , as it naturally happened! Obviously one of the challenges of plein air painting.

Just to remind you, I painted both of these watercolour sketches on the spot and quite quickly. So, by no means are they finished paintings. If you want to see studio painted landscapes, have a look at the landscapes in my Gallery here.

My Elephant Painting has Sold!

All Dressed Up

Good morning everyone. As you can tell, I’m so pleased that my elephant painting has sold from our art society exhibition. And it went off to its new home. The lovely buyer wanted to have it for a splash of colour in a newly decorated hallway in his home. So I know it will be looked after. In fact, we did quite well and four paintings were sold, which is good, I think, in the present state of affairs. Anyway, it’s not the main purpose of putting on our exhibition which was to enjoy showing off our work to each other, friends and family. And, from that point of view it was a huge success.

Woman Carrying Water
Bathing in the Ganges River

The two images above were painted in gouache paint during our first Covid lockdown in 2020, photos from Unsplash. Obviously, they are also scenes from life in India, like my elephant painting. And they were part of a monthly challenge in a painting group I joined. To be honest, it was a godsend to virtually meet up and work with other artists at that time. And the group is still going strong – Beginner Gouache Group over on Mewe. As you can see, connecting with fellow artists is always important to me. And, of course, that’s why I love writing this blog and being a part of this artists’ community. You could click here to see my painting of a bluebell wood, which sold at my last solo exhibition in March.

New Gouache Paintings for Exhibition

Dry Country

Good morning everyone. As I promised, this is one of my new gouache paintings for my solo exhibition in September. By the way, I apologise for the fuzzy quality of the photo – I forgot to photograph the painting before I took it to my framer. In fact, I finished it Tuesday morning at art class and took it straight there! Perhaps you spotted that it’s another Australian scene from my tutor’s Outback trip. And, I just love painting these dry landscapes.

Here are the four pictures just back from John, my lovely framer. Actually, I left six more with him to be framed soon, a selection of acrylic and gouache.

Anyway, there will be a nice mixture of brand new gouache paintings and some slightly older acrylics. But, all in all, a lot of stuff that I haven’t shown before to my artfriends. I wonder if you remember my painting (Somewhere in France) here, this is in the show too.

Finally, just a little look at one of my new favourites that I completed to be a part of Rod’s project. And there are loads more photos at my disposal to be painted when I have time.

High Bluff in the Outback

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

What Inspires You to Paint?

Golden

Good morning everyone. What inspires you to paint or create? Actually, this is what we were discussing yesterday on our Art Society trip. In fact, we went to the town gallery to study and sketch the gorgeous drawings and sculptures of local artist Graham Ibbeson here . And over good strong coffee and delicious scones, the conversation turned to how we feel inspired.

So, one of my art buddies likes to take elements from an old master painting and work them into his surreal style of painting. Another friend likes to try out different media and styles for inspiration. And I talked about seeing an image in my mind’s eye, out of the blue. And then using it as the basis for a painting, which is exactly what happened here. Because I saw vaguely hexagonal shapes, the golden colour of honey and beautiful purple.

Incidentally, after I had thought about using this image for my post, it reminded me of another intuitive abstract. Also the inspiration for this earlier one had just come to me as an arrangement of shapes and colours. Usually when I’m half asleep or daydreaming.

Golden, original

Well, I do have ideas about other kinds of paintings too, this was just for abstract composition. But I’ll maybe talk about that in another post. If you want to see some more intuitive abstract paintings, see this post here. Anyway, what inspires you to paint?

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.

Look at this Wintry Scene

Cold Day

Good morning everyone. I decided to show you my acrylic painting of this wintry scene. Although it might seem a little odd in the middle of summer! Anyway, I started painting it a few weeks ago and I enjoyed the ruggedness of the trees. Also, the cool colours of the icy cold stream. Well, I reached this stage of the painting after two sessions and then decided to leave it a while. As usual, I left it in full view in the living room to try to assess it. But quite a bit of time passed by and I had spotted all the bits I could smooth out. However, I realised that if I carried on ‘improving’ it, it might look over painted. And then, in my opinion, it wouldn’t reflect my style. So, for the first time ever, I decided to leave it and show it as finished. I hope you see my wintry scene as finished too!

There are more landscapes in all weathers and seasons in my gallery here. And, finally, I found my other painting of a brook, this time in gouache paint. And, this time in summer!

The View over to the Mountains

Half Way Through Our Exhibition

A Big Back Garden

Good morning everyone. As it says in the title, we are about half way through our exhibition at the ‎Mirfield gallery. So I thought I would show you one of my paintings that you may not have seen before. Actually, I painted this after a lovely holiday in the English Lake District. And, I’ll tell you the idea that inspired me. When people in the farm house looked out of the window at the back, they would see this glorious view. In fact, this hill is part of the Langdale Pikes, if I recall. And, it would be part of their back garden, in my imagination.

Elephant Festival

By the way, this painting makes me smile every time I look at it. And, I remember how much I enjoyed painting it. Of course, the challenge was to make the skin of the animal appear real, varying the colour from shades of brownish grey to delicate pink. Just to finish this quick post, I include here two snapshots of the launch party. Firstly, me and a friend discussing subtle effects of paint, and how to achieve them.

Animated Arty Chat

And here you can see some of our members, deep in discussion about our exhibition. If you look carefully, you can see my elephant in the background! Perhaps you would like to see my post about the launch here.

Another Arty Chat

Look at this Small Abstract

Big Brain

Hi everyone. This is a very short post indeed, all about a small abstract. To be honest, I’m so busy at the moment, gardening and arty business. Not to mention just running my life! Anyway, I just couldn’t stand missing my art fix another day. So I found my small drawing pad, watercolour kit and a few pencils, oil pastels etc. And then let a few colours run into each other. Next I added some small, precise marks and accents. And all this without a single conscious thought, a small abstract. Afterwards, I found out which way up I preferred it. Only then did I notice a head in profile and I had a strong idea come into my head! Namely, we need someone with a brain this big to get us out of the mess we are all in. Well, on that cheerful note, I’ll sign off and hope to write a longer, more optimistic post soon. (There is a more cheery abstract here !)

See Australian Landscapes in Gallery

Sunlight on the Crags

Good morning everyone. We had our last meeting before the summer break at Art Society last Tuesday. And, as we usually do we had a pop-up gallery evening. And everyone brought a picture or two to show off to the other members. If you want to see my report on Facebook click here. Even if I say so myself, the work was outstanding! Anyway, I chose two Australian landscapes that I completed on the online course I follow. Actually, I said a few words about the most difficult challenge in this scene, as I saw it. And that was creating the illusion of distance with the crags at the back. Because this is something I find quite difficult to do when the wooded slopes are very green. But, overall I was pleased with the end result, especially the bare rock, visible through the vegetation.

A Beach Day

Next I showed everyone another of my Australian landscapes. And this time it was an idyllic scene of a hot, lazy day spent on the beach in Queensland. However, the main problem for me was the aerial perspective of the lush green headland. And how to give that feeling of it receding into the background when it’s a warm green colour. Hopefully I managed to make it sit back by muting the green.

Secondly, I was pleased with the tiny figures on the beach as I always find people hard to draw. Happily, everyone felt confident enough to say a few words about their artwork in this supportive group. And the evening went very well. Finally, click here to see another one of my Australian landscapes, at present in the Summer exhibition, Open Gallery, Halifax.

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.

New Techniques in Floral Abstract

Blue with Flowers

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick catchup post, to show you what I’ve been enjoying painting, a floral abstract. Actually, I’m working my way through a course by Suzanne Allard, see here. In fact, I have experimented with loose floral abstracts before, as you may have noticed on this blog. And, I’ve used other media over the paint. But I never felt like I knew what I was doing. So I’m very pleased that I found Suzanne’s tuition on line. Because she guides me through the myriad possibilities of adding crayon, oil pastel, ink and so on. And in a way that I can understand.

Blue with Flowers – a closeup

To be honest, I created the background for this painting a while ago, for a different project. However, I thought that it would work well. And I muted the intense colour of the acrylic paint with oil pastel in places where it needed it. As can perhaps see in this close up. You can see another loose floral abstract in my own style in this post here.

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.

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