Painting Clematis Flowers in Watercolour

Clematis Abstract

Hi everyone. I saw something online explaining how to do a nature inspired abstract, so I thought I’d have a go. The idea was to study the subject you have chosen – in this case, glorious pink clematis. Then, make a small sketch, recording the details you really like. And then, let your imagination go wild! (That’s the bit I like!) I’m not sure it’s finished, the pink isn’t vibrant enough for my liking. But it was interesting.

The Real Clematis

You can see why I was inspired! Anyway, just to finish this quick post, this is the same scene (a few years ago) with a different treatment. Acrylic, and painted more slowly. Also with a bit of artist’s license on the colour!

Flowers at Dusk

Sketching in the Walled Garden

The Pear Trees in the Walled Garden

Good morning everyone. Firstly, this is my quick sketch of part of the walled garden at Cannon Hall. And, if you look carefully, you can see the pear trees trained against the old brick wall. Actually, this garden has Heritage Pear Tree status and these varieties are amongst the oldest ones growing in the UK. In effect, some are over 200 years old. And the lovely old brick buildings forming one wall of this space are part of the estate offices and courtyard complex. In fact, the garden is conveniently next to the ‘big house’ . Because, this is where all the veg and fruit for the household was grown. Here’s the link to Cannon Hall’s website, it’s a really interesting old mansion.

Our Sketch Trip to the Walled Garden

The Pear Trees in the Walled Garden

To tell you the truth, this was our first outdoor trip as a society for two years! Also, our art society met for the last time indoors in March 2020, when we had an illustrated talk on painting icons for the Orthodox Church. And it seems such a long time ago – have a look at our Facebook page here to see more. Anyway, we had an absolute blast! Because sketching together outdoors, chatting and the all important coffee and cake is what we love to do.

Two Sketchers in the Garden

In this image you can see two of our sketchers near the ornamental pond (just hidden). Also, you can see part of the installation displayed here temporarily. It’s inspired by the story of a local woman, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who brought inoculation into England in 1721. Apparently, she saw this medical procedure being carried out in Turkey to protect against smallpox. And, given our present situation, this is surely something to celebrate.

A Section of the Wall

Well, in my sketch, which I did in 30 minutes, I tried to capture the soft, mellow colour of the ancient brickwork. In addition, I was interested in the contrast between the formal, espaliered trees, flat against the wall and the modern prairie planting in the foreground.

What a fabulous day out – the first of many, I hope!

A Moorland Scene in Acrylic

In the Hills

Hello everyone. I’ve been busy working on two more projects from the Acrylic Painting course I’m following on line. But, before I tell you about the painting above- the moorland scene, I’d like to describe the first exercise I did. It was studies of skies, as part of a module on landscape features. Actually, I found it very helpful to concentrate on this subject as I have found this difficult to do. And, to be honest, I have more or less limited myself to simple sunny or overcast skies in the past. So, taking up the challenge to paint sunrise and sunset was, for me, both daunting and encouraging at the same time!

A hint of the sunrise behind a headland in a calm seascape.
Sunrise
The sun setting in a blaze of glory over a moorland scene.
Sunset

Admittedly, these little paintings are only studies, not finished works. And I had never chosen this subject before, but I felt quite pleased with my first attempt. Then, I tried my hand at clouds, something I had often included in my landscape paintings. However, by taking advantage of my tutor’s advice, Rod Moore of the Learn to Paint Academy, my clouds looked much more convincing!

Clouds in the Sky

Our final study addressed the problematic subject of heavy storm clouds and driving rain. Of course, I will need to practice this much more to improve, but, at least, I will now know how to approach it.

The Storm

A Moorland Scene

A moorland scene in acrylic,  showing a lovely path through the hills, in the north of England.
In the Hills

And now to the best bit – a landscape painting of a moorland scene. Well, to tell you the truth, the image provided was a view over Australian countryside, looking over to a mountain range. But, as we were encouraged to use the method and, also, paint the landscape we were familiar with, that’s what I did! You see, a short drive from where I live, there are moorland hills like these, with plenty of footpaths. So, I just imagined a walk in the hills and tried to convey the atmosphere of an English summer’s day. In fact, changing the colours and the vegetation whilst keeping the features and the tones was a bit mind boggling. But, I expect I’ll get better with practice! And, it’s also what I love to paint. See here for more paintings of northern England landscapes.

Finished Drawing and Unfinished Drawing.

A watercolour sketch of a stretch of countryside. showing the autumn colours of the trees, hedgerows and fields. With a little house in the foreground of my finished drawing.
A Sunny Autumn Day

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to explain about the difference between plein air drawing and finished drawing. Well, this is only my opinion, and, I know for a fact that many other artists feel differently. Anyway, to my mind, a plein air painting or drawing is one that is completed outdoors and on the spot. Of course, you could complete it indoors, if you were in a museum or a gallery, church or anywhere really. The point is that you draw your impression of the scene and then leave it . To be honest, this means that some parts of it could perhaps benefit from some improvement later. Personally, I prefer to leave it as it is, as a true record of what I saw.

An ” Unfinished ” Drawing

A finished drawing of a copse of pine trees  - a finished drawing done en plein air.
In the Park

This watercolour sketch was done in 25 minutes in a medium sized sketchbook whilst sitting on a bench. In fact, this is one of our favourite places, an English Heritage garden. And it is beautiful even in cold, overcast autumn weather. Actually, I love this spot, looking across at the majestic Scots pines to the ” daffodil meadow “. (You’ll have to use your imagination ! ) You see, some people might think that this is not a finished piece. Mainly because it could stand quite a bit of improvement. But, to my way of thinking it is one of my finished drawings. Because it’s a true record of my immediate reaction to the scene, full, I hope , of spontaneity and memories.

A Finished Drawing

A Sunny Autumn Day

Well, this is an example of what I call a finished watercolour sketch. To be clear, I sat for half an hour in front of this glorious bright view and sketched it and laid down about two layers of colour. Then, time was up! And I had to leave it at that and come home. In effect, I was very inspired by the beauty of the mellow autumn colours of the trees and hedgerows . So I did some work on it afterwards to do it justice, spending a very pleasant hour doing so. To sum up, I have now created quite a nice finished off painting. But I can’t describe it as a plein air watercolour sketch. I hope that I have made my reasoning clear and that you can appreciate both kinds of work.

An Unfinished Drawing ?

The View from the Car Park

Finally, this watercolour sketch was completed in 40 minutes as I sat in the car, while my husband was shopping in the supermarket. In my mind, this is finished, although some people might think of it as unfinished. Mainly because it could be improved. You can see more real plein air sketches here . As we say in Urban Sketchers, a true record of that day. And, I do hope that you can see the difference.

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

Mixed Media Abstract

Stained Glass Window Effect in Mixed Media

A colourful abstract composition , separated by white strips into geometric shapes . Mixed Media -painted in  acrylic , collage , oil pastel and pen .
Fragments – a mixed media abstract

I wanted to show you one of my lockdown art journal piece , a mixed media abstract, now that it is finished. I had seen a few great ideas online using masking tape to divide up paper or canvas into sections. Then you paint an abstract composition, remove the tape carefully and admire ! Well , I couldn’t find the tape , so , rather than waste time looking, I quickly drew some strips with pencil and rule .Then came the fun part . I treated each shape as an independent unit and just painted instinctively. I will admit to having used a limited palette of colours , but no other planning took place . On this mixed media abstract , I used all sorts. For example, watercolour , acrylic , collage , pen , pencil , oil pastel .

This mixed media abstract gives the impression  of a colourful ,  modern stained glass window.

Mixed Media with Collage

#An abstract composition in acrylic  of swirling shapes out of which emerges a distorted face screaming .
A collage sample sheet in acrylic paint

I really enjoyed using all kinds of media on this piece mixed media abstract – first pen , then lots of watercolour . It might be a bit difficult to see in the image ‘ Fragments ‘, but at this stage , I glued on some cutouts of collage samples I made using leftover acrylic paints ( like the one above ) . After that , I couldn’t resist using coloured markers and oil pastels ( and a bit more acrylic in the strips ) .

Fragments of Landscape

What did I think about during the process ? Well, stained glass , glimpses of landscape through a window and colour experiments . But , to be honest, it took on a life of it’s own and I just painted intuitively . It’s quite small , about 8 inches square and I think it’s time I tried this on a much bigger scale . I wonder , do you ever experiment with mixed media work ?

Actually , I did a few mixed media pieces in my isolation art journal – you can see them on my Instagram account – @margarethallfineart or click on the button right at the very bottom of this post.

Isolation Art from my Art Journal

A  scary semi abstract composition , including a spider dropping from it's web and a large red " Don't Panic " sign in the corner .
Don’t Panic a piece I did back in March