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.
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
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!
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!
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?
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.
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Good morning everyone. We had a very enjoyable morning at my Meet the Artist event on Saturday at my solo show. And it was great to show family and friends my exhibition at Darfield Museum. Actually, we all imagined travelling the world while looking at the paintings. In fact, it was fascinating to hear people’s thoughts on exactly where the scenes were set. Because there were no labels on the wall next to the paintings, my visitors didn’t know the titles or locations of the scenes. For example, I described the image above as ‘Sandstone Bluff, Australia’. But a friend of mine said it reminded him of a ruined Crusader castle, somewhere in Europe!
Travelling the World, the Story Behind the Picture
Similarly, another friend was convinced that this was a painting of a town in Italy! Well, it definitely was France, see this post here for the story. However, I must admit that I did miss out the distinctive French 2cv cars on the road. So that the scene was a more simplified composition. Anyway, we both came to the conclusion that the town must have been near the French – Italian border. Perhaps you will have noticed that the tower in the distance is reminiscent of Italian architecture.
Finally, just one more example of a painting that set people off virtually travelling and reminiscing. In reality, this is the scene of a very distinctive rock formation at Brimham Rocks in the Yorkshire Dales. Yet, my friends assured me that it was: a local crag on a moor, another rocky area in the Dales or a beauty spot in Devon in the south of England! And this gave me food for thought, is it better to display a label with title and explanation or not? What do you think?
Good morning everyone. This is my new silver birch painting in gouache. Well, I thought it was about time I created my version of the silver birch woodland scene. Of course, I wanted to make mine a little bit different from the many excellent dark, atmospheric paintings I have seen. So I went for a feeling of slender tree trunks, shimmering in the hazy light. And, the colour of the grass is sharp and bright, just like it is after a shower. As for the sky, I exaggerated the mauve tones, to please myself actually! But, it really makes me want to step into the picture and see what is round the bend in the path!
By the way, I am starting to feel a little bit more confident with gouache paint now, at long last! In fact, I do like painting with it very much. And, I am getting used to the way it moves around on the page and how the colours settle after a while. But, it can still surprise me when one colour can ‘merge’ into another over night! And that’s what happened to these silver birches with the white highlighting. As regards the shift in colour as they dry, I suppose it is becoming a little more instinctive. And, I must have gone through this when learning how to handle acrylic paint. However, I probably forgot about the learning stage as soon as I was through it. But, I must say I am now trying a different type of paper, a more smooth finish. And I’ll show you the first painting when I’ve finished it.
Finally, you must have noticed how much I love painting trees, see this post here . So here are one or two examples. Firstly in watercolour and pen and then in oil pastel and watercolour.
Good morning everyone. This is the acrylic painting that I put on the poster I made to promote my latest exhibition. Well the show opened yesterday and, I must admit that I was very pleased with the way it looked.
Actually, the museum cafe gallery is a lovely, intimate space and we sat quite a while, looking at my paintings. In addition, the cakes are all homemade and delicious, so the time passed quite pleasantly!
Then I took some photos, but the lighting on the paintings reflected and defeated my camera. So, apologies for that!
Perhaps you might have seen this gouache painting before in this post here. However, I don’t think you know this acrylic I did a few years ago. In case you can’t tell (!) it’s my allotment.
After we had looked at my latest exhibition, we went into the courtyard garden to admire the scarecrows. If I could explain, it was the village Scarecrow Festival. Just a bit of fun for the children at the end of summer. Finally, we walked over the road to the church, All Saints. And it’s very picturesque, sited in a peaceful church yard. Actually there is a public footpath at the edge of the graveyard which takes you past the site of the medieval fish ponds. To be honest, the site is not restored but there is a line of willow trees that trace the line of the banks. What a pleasant afternoon out! I will probably post a bit more about my latest exhibition after the Meet the Artist event next week. Incidentally, if you are in the area, you are very welcome to join us, details on the poster.
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!
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.
Good morning everyone. How do you like my brand new bright watercolours? Actually, that’s my little joke, because they aren’t brand new at all! Well, I was getting so fed up with the pale colours on my plein air quick sketches, see here.
So I looked a few things up on the internet, and found out that my paints should be ok. Because they are reasonable UK brands. Also, the paper is decent quality, but I’m working on finding something a bit better. Then I tried to remember not to muddy the colours too much. Eventually, I even started using gouache colours for their brightness, but I really prefer watercolours for on the spot sketching. Anyway, I decided to try something I read in a few posts and articles. And that is really wetting the pans of colour with lots of drops of water ( from a water brush). Then I waited ten minutes and painted two examples, this one being an imaginary landscape.
New Improved Bright Watercolours
By the way, my Australian tutor Rod Moore encourages us to paint from imagination to help develop composition skills. But I’ll talk about that in another post. Next, I just had to do a little abstract doodle to test the colours again!
As you can see, these are very bright watercolours. But, just a word of caution, let the paints absorb all the water before taking the box out on a sketch trip. If not, it will leak all over your bag! Perhaps you knew all this already, however it’s new to me. And, I’m very glad I read this advice on line.
Finally, I gave this new system a proper road test this weekend when I went to the allotment. After working hard all day watering, picking and tidying, I just had to do a quick 30 minute sketch. Can you see the pumpkins and the scarlet flowers on the runner bean plants? Happy painting!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
Good morning everyone. Just as it says in the title, a very quick catchup post. In fact, I’ve not really had much time to paint lately. So these two pieces are quite literally small works done in snatches of time. To be honest, I started this gouache in five minutes before starting on breakfast! Well, you get the picture. Anyway, quite unusually for me, this was straight out of my imagination. And, I don’t really feel like it’s finished, but to add any extra elements now would look too artificial. So I’ll consider it as a study, a practice in using gouache paint.
Now, as you can see, this one in my quick catchup post is completely different. Of course, it’s a doodle, but also a picture of my state of mind at the time. What do you reckon, anger, anxiety, bewilderment ? All of the above. We are living in such strange and difficult times and I usually try to keep my worries under control. However, sometimes they break out and I suppose there’s less harm done if it’s contained within a painting. Actually, oil pastel is really good for this kind of art therapy. Because you can pound it into the paper and get rid of all those uncomfortable feelings. Honestly, I’ve no idea what it is or if it means anything. But,I definitely felt better after I’d done it! And there’s another post here with more art therapy exercises that you may not have seen before.
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.
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.
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!
Good morning everyone. As it says in the title, we are about half way through our exhibition at the Mirfieldgallery. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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?
And, while you are thinking that over, have a look at this happy, sunshiny watercolour painting of a castle here.
Good morning everyone. On our way back from the Yorkshire Dales, we made a detour to Halifax. Because I wanted to see one of my Australian landscape paintings in the Open Gallery. And I was pleased to see it in a good position in a smart new gallery.
Unfortunately, we were not able to attend the preview, so it was good to have a chat with Alina, the curator. In fact, the show was full of really interesting works. Also I had the chance to catch up with another artist about the art scene in the north of England. So, all in all, a very enjoyable visit.
Finally, we managed to find time to dash to Hoylandswaine church, to see my paintings in the village festival art exhibition. Actually, it’s a very good show. To tell the truth, we haven’t been so active during the pandemic. So I really enjoyed being with fellow members of the Arts Group in the beautiful setting of St. John the Evangelist church.
As you can see, the church is quite beautiful, with a stained glass window by William Morris. And a mural by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope. And I was pleased to show my paintings there, work very different from my Australian landscape paintings (see here for another).
Good morning everyone. We have just arrived home from a holiday in the Dales. That’s the Yorkshire Dales, UK, a peaceful, fairly unspoilt rural area about an hour and a half from my home. Anyway, we drove up to Kilnsey Crag, and sat on a bench overlooking the trout fishing ponds. And I attempted to capture a bit of the ridge rising up to the skyline. Actually, the most impressive part, the sheer drop of the crag is a bit more difficult to get to. So, that’s for another time!
Actually, this watercolour sketch is not quite finished, but I’ll show it anyhow. Well, we spent the afternoon in Grassington, a town which is always very full of tourists. However, we found a peaceful spot to sit for a while. And I painted away, lost in my thoughts, until the rain made us move away.
Finally, we spent a lovely day in Clitheroe on this holiday in the dales. And I couldn’t resist painting the imposing ruin of the castle keep. Amazingly, I wasn’t alone – there was a local art group there to keep me company! Perhaps you think that I make a habit of going on holiday in order to paint castles! And, you may be right – see this post here. By the way, these are plein air watercolour sketches, completed on site in roughly 40 minutes.
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!
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
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.
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.