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.

A Covid Art Journal – Work in Progress

Good Day – Bad Day

Hello everyone. I’d like to tell you all about the Covid art journal we are putting together. When I say we, I mean the Rotherham Roar group of artists that I am a member of. Obviously, we have not been able to hold our meetings in person since March now. And, as for the exhibition we were planning to put on together, that’s been put on hold. However, we’ve been meeting on Zoom. And we decided to make a record of our feelings during this strange time. For most people this has taken the form of work on paper in a sketchbook.

My Contribution to the Covid Art Journal

A bright , cheerful abstract gouache painting. My Covid art journal page.
Good Day

This is the first half of my double page spread. You see, I decided to highlight the way my mood fluctuates from one day to the next. So here we have ‘Good Day ‘ and it shows optimism, hopefully. Perhaps this day the sun is shining and I’ve been out for a walk in the fresh air. And I’ve been counting my blessings and feeling confident that things will work out well. To explain, I tried to show the beauty of the world and hope for a bright future.

The Second Half of my Pandemic Art Journal Contribution

A dark, sinister abstract with spiky shapes,  dark shadows and uncomfortable contrasts of colour. Showing the mood of a bad day for my page in the Covid art journal.
Bad Day

As you can tell, this gouache painting represents those unhappy feelings that we have probably all experienced recently. To be honest, I had fairly sad things on my mind when I painted this . And I tried to show this in the spiky shapes, gloomy shadows and uncomfortable atmosphere of the piece. Anyway, that’s enough of doom and gloom for the moment. But, I must admit that the situation and free time has given me the opportunity to do a lot of creative work. So, it’s not all bad!

Some Happy Pages from my Own Covid Art Journal

Under the Sea
Cheerful

This mixed media piece ‘ Cheerful ‘ was painted back in March, and it certainly cheered me up at the time ! You might like to have a look at more of my art journal ideas here .

Gouache Landscape – High Viewpoint

A dramatic gouache painting of a turquoise blue fjord in a craggy landscape.
The Fjord

Hello everyone. I thought I’d show you a gouache landscape that I did for my Beginner Gouache group. You see, this month’s theme is Norway and I found a fab high viewpoint photo by Alexey Topolyansky on Unsplash. Honestly, it just blew me away- it’s so dramatic. I’ve never been to the country so, of course, I’m not familiar with this type of scenery. But I think it’s quite beautiful with its craggy peaks and deep, still mountain lakes. However, it still posed a challenge to capture the subtle changes of colour in the sky and water in gouache. Also, the layering of textures on the rocks. Nonetheless, I am still persevering and I will continue because I love the pure, clear colour I can achieve using this medium. And, today’s takeaway is : remember to let the first layers dry overnight and then continue your layering next day!

Another Recent Gouache Landscape

Down by the River

Now, fortunately, I don’t have to remember to give a credit for the photo this time. Because this scene was painted from my imagination. As you can see, it’s just a simple view – a bit reminiscent of the Lake District in the UK. Happily, a place where I have spent many lovely holidays. Of course, it was a good opportunity to practise painting with gouache. And, on this occasion, I decided to concentrate on getting a full range of tones. So that it would appear to recede into the background. Perhaps you may remember from a previous post that I am working on this aspect of composition – see here . It’s all part of a great online course that I am working through. But, maybe more of that later ! There are plenty more gouache landscapes to be attempted – so come along with me on my artistic journey!

Another High Viewpoint View

An acrylic painting of a deep blue lake in gentle, rolling Derbyshire  hills.
Ladybower Reservoir

This is a view over the moors towards the reservoir in the Derbyshire Dales. But this one is in acrylic paint, on paper. Obviously, a more rounded, gently rising view, if you compare it to the Norwegian scene. But, in my opinion, both equally wonderful and ideal for virtual travelling in these restricted times!

More Gouache Experiments

The Pathway to the Sea

Hello everyone. Well, as promised, I’d like to show you my gouache painting now it’s finished. Yes, yet more gouache experiments ! Just to remind you, here I wanted to use the paint in the same way as I use acrylics. That is, applied quite thickly to the paper . And, also, using bigger more gestural brushstrokes. As you can see, I really enjoyed the freedom of using the paint this way. I could allow myself go to town on painting the shape of the rocks and pebbles in the path.

To be honest, I didn’t take this photo myself. But it reminded me so much of the seaside closest to where I live . The Yorkshire coast here in the UK can be quite spectacular with its steep cliffs and rock beaches. So, I must give a shout out to L J George for the permission to use this lovely photo, on the Artists Free Reference Photos Facebook page.

Yet More Gouache Experiments

Coffee with Friends

Now, I must admit, this is not the best urban sketch style painting I have ever made. But I’d like to explain why I’m showing it. To explain, a couple of weeks ago, I met with two friends to go sketching en plein air. However, it was raining too heavily, so we went into a sweet, little cafe nearby. And we were chatting all the time, not having seen each other face to face for months. Bliss! But, when I got home, I was dying to do some sketching. And so I tried to recreate the scene from memory. As you can see, my visual memory is not so good! But, I’m sure the exercise must have been good for me. Click here to see a more successful urban sketch , drawn from life, outside, a few weeks ago in Wentworth.

The Experimental Bit

In this little painting , I tried to indicate that the trees through the window in the car park were obviously further away. And more indistinct than the figures and the furniture etc in the cafe. Also, I tried to indicate the shapes of the figures using deeper colours in the shading on the clothing. I know, just baby steps – but it sometimes feels like going back to the beginning ! And, my friend really did order a banana with her coffee !

Scene of a pathway to the sea, through rugged cliffs.  Paint applied thickly . More gouache experiments.
Banana and Coffee

I Love Trees.

I love trees - I really enjoyed sketching with a thick pen, fineliner and watercolour wash to create this close up of an old massive tree trunk
The Old Tree

I love trees and we often walk in the country in order to enjoy the peaceful, green spaces. And we had a stroll around Cannon Hall Park and Gardens yesterday to have a look at the restoration of the Georgian walled garden. You see, the park finally acquired the cash to restore some of the original features. For example, the 60’s style rectangular pond and pergola was replaced by a beautiful round lily pond. And the old glasshouses that grow the famous 200 year old grapevine are being restored too. However, the work is not quite finished . And when it is, I’ll write a post all about it .

I love trees

But yesterday , I simply enjoyed being in the formal garden. As you know, I love trees and I’m always attracted to drawing them when I’m out plein air sketching. The sketch above was completed in 20 minutes using a super dark pen, a fineliner and a wash of black watercolour. In fact, I sat on a low wall right under the tree. And the markings on the bark and the shadows cast by the foliage of the tree itself were quite fascinating up close .

Some other trees

The Tree in the Park

Actually, I feel quite affectionate towards this drawing. Because it was the first urban sketch I did back in May, when we were at last allowed to go to the town park .

The Wentworth Folly

To be honest, I don’t think I have shown this sketch before. As I have already said, I love trees and at all times of the year too! So this is a tiny pen and watercolour sketch I painted at Wentworth Castle Gardens last year.

I Love Trees – Even in a Spooky Wood !

The Boy and the Bird

Finally, I couldn’t resist showing you one of my favourite acrylic paintings. Obviously, this is what happens when I just let my imagination go wild! You could see another abstracted tree in this post here . But, these paintings and drawings have one thing in common – they are all inspired by trees.

Online Exhibitions in August 2020

A watercolour sketch of the impressive Piece Hall in one of my online exhibitions.  The golden sandstone glows on a sunny day .
The Piece Hall at Halifax

The lovely people at the Skelmanthorpe Community Library Gallery have given me the opportunity to display my work on their Facebook page here . I’m the featured artist for a fortnight with one of my online exhibitions ! They are doing their very best to support and showcase local artists during the pandemic . I’m sure that as soon as it is safe , the gallery will be open again. Until then , we can enjoy taking part and also looking at other artists’ work in this way .

The Piece Hall – in my online exhibition

A detail from The Piece Hall watercolour sketch

The Piece Hall is a very famous site in Halifax, West Yorkshire. It is a Grade 1 listed building . It was the place where handloom weavers sold their pieces of woollen cloth in the 18th Century. As you can see , the building itself is very beautiful . So I couldn’t resist standing on the first floor balcony and doing a small watercolour sketch . Afterwards , at home I used the sketch as a reference along with a couple of postcards to create this larger piece . But , I worked fairly quickly and tried to keep the plein air feeling .

A Reworking of an Old Acrylic Painting – now in one of my online exhibitions

Coffee and Cake

Perhaps you have seen this acrylic painting in one of my blog posts . Or , if not , you might want to go and have a look at the story behind the picture here.

A Spring Painting in one of my Online Exhibitions

An early Spring painting  , showing a walker admiring snowdrops in a picturesque park . On show in one of my online exhibitions
Snowdrops

I painted this acrylic painting just after Christmas, earlier this year for the Springtime in Yorkshire exhibition at Skelmanthorpe Gallery . But of course , as it was due to open in March it was cancelled due to the pandemic . So , it was a great chance to show the picture in my featured fortnight on the Village Art Facebook page in one of my online exhibitions. It shows a figure ( my husband actually ) on a cold day in February, admiring the Snowdrops in the big rockery at Wentworth Castle Gardens . This is a beautiful place where we quite often like to walk.

Art for Sale

All of these paintings, along with eleven more , are available to see on the display on Village Art Facebook page and to buy . If you see anything you like , send me an email , using the form on the Contact Me page

The Lockdown Art Exhibition

Family

And , finally , I was so pleased to be included in this Fronteerlockdown art exhibition on Instagram. This is my intuitive abstract and I’ve called it ‘Family’. You see , Fronteer are a husband and wife team who promote the arts in Sheffield see here. You certainly ought to look up the whole exhibition on Instagram if you can . It’s top class and , if I’m lucky , I might be included in the real life show selection as soon as it can be staged in their Gallery. I’m keeping my fingers crossed ! That’s all the news on my online exhibitions for now , but , I’ll keep you posted !

Virtual Exhibition of New Work

Blue and Yellow

This is my latest acrylic intuitive abstract and it’s on show in my virtual exhibition on Artsteps . It was put together for me by my great friend Matt Butt of Rotherham Roar artists , a wonderful artists collective that I belong to . And this acrylic painting on paper is my first example of working in a larger format for a long while . To tell you the truth , I don’t think I shall ever go smaller now !

Flower Paintings in my Virtual Exhibition

A close up acrylic painting on canvas.  Cone flowers  - red against green foliage . In my virtual exhibition
Cone Flowers

I painted this canvas as the last of a set of four – you’ll get the full set in the virtual exhibition, together with Sunflower, Oriental Poppy and SeaThistle . Look for the link at the bottom of this page to see my show. This fantastic app ‘Artsteps’ allows you to create your own exhibition in a virtual gallery . And then you can ‘ walk ‘ around using the arrow keys .

An intuitive abstract suggesting flight and release - blue shapes floating across a pale yellow sky. Part of my virtual exhibition
Free Spirit

The Progress of Mankind

You’ll also see the last part of my triptych ‘ The Progress of Mankind ‘ – the painting above which I called ‘ Free Spirit ‘ . The other two parts (One and Two) are on show in the virtual exhibition and they really look good hanging together in the gallery . To tell you the truth , that’s the first time I’ve seen them together and it’s amazing what a sense of satisfaction I got from ‘ seeing ‘ them hanging on the wall online . Just imagine , I would never taken up this opportunity of displaying artwork online if not for the pandemic ! And you can also read my post all about this triptych here .

Lockdown Art in my Virtual Exhibition

Pigeon

To finish off this little review , I will include a watercolour and pencil mixed media piece . Well , this came about as a result of watching birds in my garden during early Lockdown. The pigeon continued strutting around as if nothing was amiss . Strangely , this made me feel a lot more optimistic at the time.

Although you can’t visit my show in person , at least you can see my work laid out virtually this way . If you follow this link here , you can see my exhibition. Use the arrow keys or WSAD keys to navigate around . Click on any picture to get a close up and better lighting . Anyway , there are twenty paintings to see and it’s great fun virtually walking around the gallery. This works best on a PC rather than a phone or tablet , unfortunately . All my paintings are available to buy at reasonable prices . So just send me an email using the form on the Contact Me page , if you want to know more.

Open Air Sketching at the Reservoir

A quick open air sketch in watercolour of a view over the reservoir,  framed by trees , with a jetty extending over the water .
Open Air Sketching at Worsbrough Reservoir

We went for a lovely walk last Friday at Worsbrough Mill .The day was very hot , so this shady spot was just perfect for open air sketching . I always carry a small sketching kit when I go into the countryside . For me , sketching means using watercolour with perhaps a simple pencil or pen sketch first . But quite often I draw with the paintbrush to get everything into position and then , the best bit , add the colour .This took about twenty minutes .You see , the idea is , not to produce the best finished sketch you ever did , but to make an on the spot record of the scene .

Outdoor Sketching Kit

It’s quite simple really , I fill a medium sized pencil case with a few pens and pencils , plus an eraser and a sharpener . Then I take my little watercolour set . It has twelve colours and the lid of the case is my palette. Three brushes is enough , I find . I use a little plastic travel bottle with screw top for water . The sketch books I take are mainly decent watercolour paper , two different sizes : 10 by 7 inch or , my favourite, 8 by 5 inches .This is quite small , I know , but then there is a good chance of getting the painting finished .

A close up of my hands doing my open air sketching at the scene . You can just see my little  watercolour sketching kit .
Open Air Sketching at the Res

This is a simple phone snap , nothing fancy , just something to record the scene . I can also refer to it if I decide to use this little study and paint a larger picture of the subject in watercolour or acrylic .

A Shady Spot

The reservoir as Hokusai might have painted it .

The Great Wave at Worsbrough Reservoir

There’s a long story attached to this painting – for all the details , see here . But the short version is : this is my favourite beauty spot re-imagined with ‘The Great Wave ‘ appearing on it . It’s my tribute to the great Japanese artist Hokusai ( 1760 – 1849). Just to end on a lighter , more whimsical note !

Why do we do open air sketching ?

Good question .Firstly, I love the freshness of my work when I paint with the subject directly in front of me ( not from a photo ) . Secondly , finishing it quickly like this improves my drawing skills . And , of course , it’s really enjoyable !

Acrylic abstract painting – Break Through

Abstract Composition in Acrylic

Acrylic abstract composition in lemon,  green , ultramarine blue and a touch of maroon.  Big , gestural marks.
Break Through acrylic abstract painting

I’m very proud of this painting – let me explain why . It’s been about six or seven weeks since I felt like painting anything bigger than a small journal page. To be honest , after finishing off a large acrylic abstract begun before Lockdown and then creating just one more ( because the idea wouldn’t give me any peace until I did , see here ) I found that I could only work in a small art journal given to me as a gift . It was an absolute godsend . I could use it to make me feel calmer , and , also to express some of the feelings that I couldn’t say in words , as in this one .

Bunch from the Allotment – watercolour

Back in the studio

However , I really missed painting and , this Monday , I dragged myself to the ‘studio ‘ ( just a small bedroom really ) and , once I started working , I couldn’t stop ! A break through ! It was glorious- painting all day . I’ve decided to work larger now , I was feeling too cramped , trying to work too small so this piece is 16 by 20 inches , on paper . I completed it in two sessions of an hour and a half, on the same day . This abstract composition has been rattling around in my head about four weeks or so . So now it’s finished , I can relax .

Break Through – detail 1
Abstract composition in lemo ,green , ultramarine blue and a touch of  maroon . Big , gestural marks.
Break Through – detail 2

The colours are dynamic and vibrant – they make me feel positive and buoyed up . I don’t think you will be able to see the small , subtle details and texture – perhaps you can see them better in these close- ups .

I hope you enjoy looking at my paintings – all of my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. There are lots of interesting examples of acrylic abstract painting on my Gallery page too.. If you want to know more about prices and so on , go to the Contact page and send me an email using the form.

Break Through

An Old Acrylic Painting Repainted

Abstract composition in pink and Green, a woman staring out through her window. Atmosphere all dreamy and mysterious.
Woman at the Window- acrylic on paper

You might think that I created this acrylic abstract composition during Lockdown this year . I say that because it definitely would fit the theme of loneliness and isolation . In fact , I have painted a few with similar themes recently . Perhaps I’ll gather them together into a post one day soon . Anyway , I did this as part of a series last year on the problems of modern life as a woman ( but that’s another story ). And , what I really wanted to talk about was the way this came about . It is an old acrylic painting repainted !

Old Acrylic Painting – Pink and Green Abstract

An old acrylic painting . an abstract composition in pink and green
Pink and Green Abstract

This is how it began ! In fact , this old acrylic painting was my very first proper abstract ever – painted for an on-line group on Facebook. It did get quite a few likes , but I was not really very pleased with it . So I decided to try to create another painting out of it , using the same colour palette and some of the same shapes . Of course , I can achieve this much more easily with acrylic paint than with watercolour or mixed media . Because the paint has great covering capacity .

Halfway

This is the halfway stage – the composition is just beginning to emerge. Then I started thinking about the way some women today are not allowed to move around freely . And this image of someone staring wistfully outside definitely seemed to fit my theme .

A woman wistfully looking out of the window . Semi abstract style , repainted over an old acrylic painting .
Woman at the Window

I hope you enjoyed reading about how I used one canvas to create another by repurposing an old acrylic painting . It was an interesting experiment . If you did find it interesting , there is another post I wrote not too long ago, where I describe the same process . Just click on the link here . And you can see more pictures about Modern Woman in my Gallery-People here .

Story Pictures

Do you like looking at Story Pictures ? I love creating them . Some people like to have the explanation to think about , some prefer to make up their own idea of what the painting is about . What do you think ?

All my one-of-a-kind artwork is available at reasonable prices. Contact me by email for further details , using the form on the Contact page .

Painting in Red – Three Abstracts

A mixed media abstract composition in red and black.  The black is collaged paper.  The shapes are bold and gestural.
Red and Black

This time , I’d like to show you three new abstracts where I was painting in red plus a couple of other colours.

The image above is the latest page in my art journal ( 9inch square ) – a mixed media piece using collage, watercolour , pen and coloured pencil . It was quite instinctive . However , the only idea I consciously brought to it was using a restricted palette . I think that red and black go very well together and I added greys to get some mid tones into the design . The white you can see is the paper showing through . To sum up , I feel that the mood is loud , upbeat and , possibly confrontational. Can you see any images in this ? I know I can, but I’d be interested to know what your interpretations are.

This abstract is in my Gallery – Abstracts – along with lots of other interesting paintings . Click on the link here

Painting in Red and Blue – Mixed Media on Paper

Sinking

In this one , as you can see , I paired red with blue and added black for more emphasis . And you’ll see collage , watercolour , pen and oil pastel. The red is subdued in places and the blue is quite pale . The atmosphere here is more uncertain , confused and , because of the suggestion of deep water , more sinister. It’s definitely Lockdown art ! I love the way that my feelings come through in the work – but I only realise it later .

Painting in Red and Purple

The last image I want to show you is my ‘ Hell on Earth ‘ acrylic painting on a 2 foot square canvas . As you can see , I chose red and purple colours mainly . This was actually done in response to a challenge from an online group that I belong to : paint in red and purple and orange. To be honest , this is a colour combination I wouldn’t normally choose . But I was quite pleased with the outcome . The subject matter , a ravaged landscape , really sets the scene. And the red and purple help to give quite an eerie feeling to the atmosphere. As you can see , working with a restricted palette leads me to fresh ideas and inspiration which is always welcome !

Hell on Earth

All of my one-of-a-kind artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. If you see anything you like , email me for more details , using the form on the Contact page . It’s Affordable Art !

More Blog Posts

Don’t forget to check out my blog more often – I’m writing two posts a week now and you might not want to miss out on anything !

The Light at the End of the Tunnel – acrylic painting

Hope -The Progress of Mankind , Part 4

We see the back of a naked figure standing in a lush forest  , looking out towards a beautiful green light in the distance - in acrylic . Is this the light at the end of the tunnel ?
Light at the End of the Tunnel – acrylic painting

I painted this picture back in April – I was just longing for some relief from the worry and grief I felt at the height of the pandemic. I’ve waited quite a long while before showing it but perhaps now is the time? The Light at the End of the Tunnel -is there some now ?

Artist’s Inspiration for ‘The Light at the End of the Tunnel ‘

The idea for the painting came to me quite instinctively . I was walking through a small park , enjoying looking at the tree blossom and the new growth on all the plants . And I suddenly thought about how vulnerable we are to illness or viruses . So I decided that the figure should be naked to symbolise the defenceless feelings a lot of us have had , during this pandemic . I also pictured him in luxuriant foliage . I was , no doubt , influenced by the scene in the garden I was walking through !

Light at the End of the Tunnel – acrylic painting

I think I was gradually working towards this idea . Just have a look at this mixed media journal page I created in March this year , to cheer myself up. I called it ‘ A Brighter Day ‘ It was very intuitive , but afterwards I realised it was a picture of hope , breaking through like a glorious sunrise .

A semi-abstract view of light seen through the trees - mixed media  blue and orange  . Is this the light at the end of the tunnel ?
A Brighter Dayin acrylic

My ‘ Progress of Mankind ‘ Series

And the other stage in the process was , of course , my ‘Paradise ‘ painting . Here I portrayed the Earth as a wonderful , unspoilt world in the trilogy that I created for a commission proposal earlier this year.

A semi abstract acrylic painting of a lush jungle with insects and birds - pink  , green and golden yellow .
Paradise

You could say that ‘ Paradise ‘ was Part 1 , then ‘ Hell on Earth ‘ Part 2 came next , followed by ‘ Free Spirit ‘Part 3 . You can see the whole story in this post here . But now I can see that ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel ‘ Part 4 comes next in the story . I’ll show you Part 5 in a little while . None of this was planned . But I realise , with hindsight , that my intuitive inspiration was steadily moving through these past events and helping me to cope . I wonder if anyone else has noticed any effects on their art practice ?

Light at the End of the Tunnel – acrylic on canvas .

Mixed Media Pigeon – Now Finished

A close of the pigeon's face , her yellow beak and beady eye .

Bird in Lockdown – Update

A mixed media pigeon in a loose watercolour style  , drawn first in pen , washed in watercolour ( grey and purple  ) and then finished with coloured pencils
Lockdown Pigeon

As I promised ,here is the finished version of the mixed media pigeon . I first drew this in pen . Then I added thin watercolour washes , and next I strengthened the colours with more washes . And , finally , I added detail with coloured pencils .

Mixed Media Pigeon Spots Something with her Beady Eye !

She’s Spotted Something

As you can see , I like leaving all the construction lines in . To tell you the truth , I actually started this piece off as a doodle , so there are plenty of lines . And then I decided what the drawing should be ! ( see more bird art in this post here )

A close up of Mixed Media Pigeon , showing detail of feathers and grasses .
Feathers and Foliage

Actually , I find that the coloured pencils are ideal for soft feathers and grasses .

I sell all the art on my website at reasonable prices . For example, this mixed media piece is 9 by 9 inches square in watercolour , pen and coloured pencil on paper and it’s priced at £25 including shipping in the UK .So , it’s Affordable Art – if you want to treat yourself !

Bird Art in Lockdown

Art for Sale – Coffee and Cake

Picture of the Month

 This is an abstract composition with the figure of a young woman emerging from the background, sitting in  a cafe with coffee and cake  .
Coffee and Cake

I thought I’d just take this opportunity to showcase an acrylic painting once a month and offer it to you at a reduced price – art for sale ! You see , I have done quite a lot of artwork over the years . And , as a result , there are paintings everywhere in the house , just waiting for a new home to go to !

Anyway , this is an acrylic painting on paper , sized 16 by 12 inches . It’s unframed , without a mount , and sold as you see it . The colours are just very slightly brighter in real life . My camera didn’t pick up the vibrancy and richness of the colours, I’m afraid .

I painted it last summer when I was exploring the technique of painting over an existing finished painting . I created a semi-abstract composition using the same colour palette and atmosphere, if you like .Unfortunately , I didn’t keep a record of the original acrylic painting in this case ( see another example of this technique here )

As you can see , I was very interested in all the wooden objects in the cafe . For example , the window frames , the spokes of the chairs , the panelling and the floor boards. I also concentrated on the textures of the pretty tablecloth and the woman’s pink fluffy sweater . I expect you have already spotted the cup and the dainty , iced cake !

Coffee and Cake – a detail

Art for Sale

Would this painting look good in your kitchen ? Or perhaps in your lounge , something intriguing to look at as you enjoy a cup of coffee and a delicious cake or pastry . I wonder what she is thinking about ? You could choose a frame to match your own decor . I’m offering it at the bargain price of £40 including shipping – I’m based in the UK . Please contact me for more details by sending an email on the Contact page here .

Coffee and Cake – acrylic on paper

Bird Art in Lockdown 2020

A work in progress - a watercolour sketch of a pigeon
A pencil drawing of a house sparrow in my Lockdown art journal  in traditional,  , realistic style  . Bird art in pencil
House Sparrow

This post is all about birds and Bird Art . I suppose I have taken more notice of the ones visiting my garden during Lockdown . I certainly have heard more birdsong than usual in the first few weeks of isolation , when the world was quieter.

This first image shows a common garden bird in the UK – a house sparrow. This bird art pencil drawing was done for a challenge set by a painting group I belong to .

An art journal page painted in Lockdown 2020

A row of seagulls on the sea wall - bird art in acrylic.
Birdman – art in Lockdown 2020

I started to keep an art journal in March and I have done a few intuitive abstract composition in mixed media like this one ( Birdman ) . I just painted in watercolour on brown toned paper without much thought , and a birdlike shape appeared , cradled in the hands of a rather strange looking man.

Seagulls

My next image is a blast from the past actually (apologies for the poor quality phone snap ) . Again , this was a challenge that I set for Barnsley Art Society a couple of years ago . Bird Art with seagulls ! Mine was painted in acrylic in just over an hour .Wouldn’t it be nice to go on a trip to the seaside right now ? ( only two hours drive from where I live )

A work in progress  - a watercolour sketch of a pigeon
Pigeon

And the last one I’d like to show you is a work in progress from my journal . Again , an unplanned , instinctive work , just a watercolour doodle to begin with . And then I realised I was moving towards painting a pigeon !

These are just the first layers. I shall probably add more watercolour and oil pastel then I’ll post it as soon as I have finished it . See it here .

So , that’s my post . A tribute to Birds – they have certainly kept my spirits up during this strange time . I wonder if anyone else has noticed a trend in the type of art they have been producing during social isolation ?

Bird Art Carved in Wood

A bird carved in wood on the mantelpiece in a local stately home , a pen and wash sketch done on the spot in February

Loose Watercolour Style for Flowers

Flowers in Watercolour

Flowers in Watercolour

A painting of a bunch of flowers ina loose watercolour style  - purple  , pink  and golden yellow
A Bunch from the Garden

This is a painting of a bunch of flowers that I quickly gathered from the allotment one day this week . It’s painted in a loose watercolour style and I can’t really call it a sketch. Because I spent about an hour and a half on it. It’s in my Lockdown art journal where I can be a bit freer and experiment ( play , really) .

I tried to use more water in the paint and let it flow around . I like using a technique called ‘ wet-in -wet ‘ when you load up your brush with fairly runny watercolour paint and paint it on top or right next to wet paint . Then watch what happens ! Sometimes the effects are quite pleasing . And then I exaggerated and worked into the bits that looked effective. I must confess that I’m not so experienced with this medium . But working in an art journal gives you the freedom to try things out , without worrying about ‘ spoiling anything ‘ .And I have noticed that I have used my journal to paint in loose watercolour style on several pieces.

Watercolour Detail 1

As you can see , there’s Sweet Williams , euphorbia and verbena in there . And also a ferny sort of plant with delicate heads of pale yellow flowers . But I’m not sure I know what it’s called . It probably planted itself !

Watercolour Detail 2

At least now I have more time to paint when I feel inspired – instead of putting it on a to-do list ! See more flowers in my gallery .

Loose Watercolour Style

Flowers in a loose watercolour style  - yellow and purple areas of colour with some close up detail
Flowers in Watercolour – painted in a loose watercolour style

This is watercolour on paper, a page in my art journal , about 10 inches square. If you want to know more , email me using the form on the Contact Me page . All my work is for sale at reasonable prices.

A Spring Garden – Acrylic Painting

Art Inspired by my Spring Garden

Having a Breather – acrylic on paper 16 by 12 inches , unframed £50 plus shipping

I am always inspired by the beauty of plants and flowers in my spring garden . And this acrylic painting in the naive style is an idealized view of my allotment , just as dusk is falling . As you can see , I’m having a cuppa after a hard day’s work . I’m spending a few minutes watching the last rays of the sun over the pond .

An impressionistic acrylic painting of my Spring garden . A figure sitting on a bench surrounded by plants growing luxuriantly in late Spring
The Crabapple Tree in my Spring Garden – watercolour on paper 10 inch square – a page in my Lockdown art journal

However , during Lockdown this year , I , like a lot of other people, was confined to my house . And our small back garden received a lot more attention than usual ! I painted this watercolour sketch (Crabapple) outside , sitting on my tiny patio in March this year. To tell you the truth , I enjoyed just being outside in my Spring garden on a fine afternoon .The tree was just beginning to show its bright green , frilly leaves .Do you know , this tree provides us with enough apples to make three or four jars of Apple Jelly each year . They are really delicious with pork chops . I completed this sketch in forty minutes urban sketching style !

Windowbox Flowers in our Spring Garden

Spring flowers – watercolour on paper – a page in my art journal

I observed the Spring flowers quite closely . And these were in the window box outside my living room window . As you can see , the colours of the flowers in this watercolor sketch really glowed . Especially the contrast between the complimentary colours purple and yellow . Again , this was a very quick sketch . I did this as I stood in front of the window , looking down at the windowbox through the glass !

Abstract Composition

A swirling abstract composition in yellow purple and green , heavily textured in watercolor , acrylic , collaged paper and oil pastel
Abstract Flowers Mixed Media on Paper – a page in my art journal

Straight after painting ‘Spring Flowers ‘ I felt inspired to do a mixed media abstract composition . So I concentrated on the colours and shapes of the flowers and leaves. Then I layered on collage , pencil and oil pastel to create that textured effect .

My Spring garden - looking down over the small lawn to the crabapple tree . The delicate , pink blossom is just beginning to show .
The Vegetable Plot – pencil drawing

And , finally, when I was working yesterday at the allotment garden , I took five minutes in a coffee break . Just enough time to do a quick pencil drawing of the brassica plants . They were straight in front of me as I sat in the shade . There were two different kinds of cabbage and a Brussel sprout plant in our Spring garden up at the allotment ( the broccoli plants are not ready to go in yet )

So you see ,my gardens give me endless inspiration !

Affordable Art

All of my original artwork is for sale – just go to the Contact page and send me a message . If you like what you see , on this post or in the Gallery or Portfolio section , if you want to treat yourself or buy a gift for a loved one , ask for more details . All my paintings are reasonably priced.

A Triptych of Acrylic Paintings

The Progress of Mankind

All now be revealed ! You may remember , a few posts ago , I showed you two large , abstract canvases which formed part of a series of three . A triptych of acrylic paintings Here, as promised , is the final painting .

A turquoise blue kite , soaring free into a glorious,  golden sky .This is the third canvas in the triptych of acrylic paintings
Free Spirit

I entered these three large canvases as a proposal for a commission at a local stately home, to be displayed in the private chapel , inside the big house. Unfortunately, I was not successful on this occasion , but I was really inspired by the idea and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of entering.

Part One of the Triptych of Acrylic Paintings

I was reflecting on the state of our modern world , right at the beginning of the lockdown . So I thought about the idyllic world mankind lived in , before industrialisation . And I painted this intuitive abstract to show an unspoiled planet , visualized as a sort of tropical paradise. For more details and close-ups of this painting , see here

Swirling shapes in pink green and yellow - a lush jungle paradise. Part one of the triptych of acrylic paintings.
Paradise

The next chapter in the story also came easily to me .I must have been feeling quite pessimistic and I portrayed a burnt-out , desolate world with a huge , red sun Perhaps there are hints of global warming here ?

Hell on Earth

I suppose I must have been thinking about the excessive consumption and the way modern civilisation exhausts the Earth’s resources. I showed this painting in a virtual exhibition on Instagram – see @rotherhamroar . It’s our Washing Line exhibition !

For the final part of this triptych of acrylic paintings, I thought about how the paintings were to be displayed in a church .This is a place where people could sit in quiet contemplation , perhaps hoping for a peaceful resolution of their troubles . So I tried to portray this as a spirit soaring free , away from all difficulties . I think that I also used the motif of the kite to symbolise that feeling of wanting to escape from the ‘ virus ‘ problem. Obviously, this is a feeling that a lot of us have experienced lately . But I painted it instinctively and it must have come from my subconscious.

A turquoise blue kite soaring free into the  glorious golden sky
Free Spirit

I hope that you enjoyed looking at my Isolation Art. There are actually two more large canvases that do take the story forward , when I think about it . But that can be saved for another day .

David Hockney’s Gallery – a Trip to Saltaire

Mixed Media Abstract Composition

Mixed Media Abstract composition in pink,  purple , ochre with black  and  white .Organic shapes with a face and some vague bird like shapes
Mixed Media Abstract Composition – Bird man by Margaret Hall

This is my latest mixed media experiment an abstract composition using collage, acrylic , watercolour and oil pastel . In fact , there’s even some marker and pencil in there – although the pencil might be a mistake as it is too shiny. I wonder , do you happen to know how how to apply a few sharp , precise marks over mixed media layers without using pencil ? Because I’d love to know . Anyway, I don’t really know what I’ve painted here . It was quite instinctive really . But I think it has something to do with wanting to escape from the anxiety and threat of this virus ! And it’s painted on brown paper which I bought at David Hockney’s Gallery on a trip to Saltaire ( more of that later ) .

The toned paper in this case is a rather nice brown paper. You see , I have admired other sketching friends’ drawings on brown paper sketchpads so I bought one . However, I don’t really like the effect of acrylic paint on this paper . Perhaps it was the colours I chose . But they don’t seem to have the sparkle that I like when I use white paper.

Sketching on Brown Toned Paper – the Hockney Gallery Connection

Pencil drawings on  brown  paper.  Patterns observed on objects in David Hockney's Gallery in Saltaire
Patterns seen at the Museum

Now for the interesting par – I bought this sketchpad at David Hockney’s gallery at Saltaire . At the time , I was taking part in an Urban Sketchers crawl back in February. Maybe you remember my post all about it . Anyway , we spent the morning in a small brewery/pub and I sketched the brewing equipment in mixed media . As you can see , I used pen , pencil and watercolour . See my blog post here

Watercolour and pen sketch of vats at a small brewery
The Brewery – Urban Sketching

To be honest , it was great fun – perhaps one day soon Urbansketchers Yorkshire will be able to meet up again .

David Hockney’s Gallery at the Saltaire World Heritage Site, Shipley , near Bradford , UK

A view from the gallery window across to the allotments and the model village

Salt’s Mill is actually a complex of woollen mill buildings established by Titus Salt . Also , he built the model village alongside it in the 1850’s . In effect , the village included neat, tidy terraced cottages , a church and a Sunday school . And then there were allotments , a school , a park and much more alongside the river Aire . Really , it’s quite fascinating, so go and have a look if you get the chance .

The downstairs floor of Salt’s Mill shows an exhibition of earlier Hockney artwork . Do you know, David Hockney was born and brought up in Bradford , just down the road from Saltaire .The downstairs floor is also where you can find the art shop where I bought the toned paper sketchpad . And , upstairs there’s a museum room about the history of the factory . But the star of the show is the David Hockney Gallery. In fact , it now displays some recent work from the Spring exhibition of locations in East Yorkshire . This , of course , is where the artist used to live . Enough said , just have a look at the fabulous pictures !

The Coming of Spring in Yorkshire – 2011 in David Hockney’s Gallery

A beautiful Ipad drawing of a wild flower meadow from David Hockney's Gallery
By David Hockney
By David Hockney
A painting of East Yorkshire in Springtime showing a leafless old tree and a tree in May blossom from David Hockney's Gallery
By David Hockney
By David Hockney

Our First Visit

The first time we visited the gallery was thirty years ago . And we were lucky enough to see the large drawing that David was sending by fax across from California ! The drawing was arriving piece by piece. Then the very large drawing was re-assembled from pieces of copy paper and displayed on the wall . This was revolutionary at the time . I love the way this artist always enjoys using the latest technology to create his work .

These ‘paintings ‘ are all actually prints of iPad drawings and I think they are absolutely stunning ! I hope that you have enjoyed my little exhibition review .

By David Hockney

Paradise – Acrylic Abstract Painting

An Intuitive Abstract Composition in Pink and Green

A colourful acrylic abstract, mainly pinks and greens , suggesting  a jungle or a paradise garden.
Paradise – an abstract composition by Margaret Hall

This is the first painting in a set of three that I mentioned a couple of posts ago .And I called this one ‘Paradise ‘ . I think I must have imagined a tropical scene or a scene in a jungle . The colours I was drawn to – luscious pinks and vibrant greens – definitely fitted into this theme . I tried really hard not to paint anything too figurative and realistic . But when I stood back from my easel, I saw suggestions of a bird , an insect , perhaps an animal, flowers and leaves . So I realized that I was going to make this this acrylic abstract composition semi-abstracted not purely abstract . But that’s ok. To be honest , I often find that my paintings decide what they want to be . And , sometimes without a lot of input from me ! I even turned this one upside down several times to paint it and the motifs still appeared ! I wonder if you can see any signs of life in this jungle ( as well as the luxuriant foliage , that is ) ?

Paradise – Birds , Flowers and an Insect ? – details from my acrylic abstract

a close up of shapes like birds and flowers .
A Bird ?
A shape in stripes of yellow and black suggesting an insect in the paradise garden .
An Insect ?

I believe that the term ‘ paradise ‘ has its origins in a word which meant ‘garden’ , a place with lush growth and plenty of water , a place where you could rest and gaze upon a beautiful scene . When I painted this , I was thinking about the story I was telling in a series of three canvases for a commission proposal : this is the first one ‘Paradise ‘. And the second one ‘ Hell on Earth ‘ was shown in a previous post in May here and it carries the story forward .. All will become clearer soon when I reveal the third part !

Paradise