Painting Plants At the Allotment

An abstract composition suggesting a tangle of vegetation in a wood. Mixed media.
Among the Trees

We have been working very hard in the garden for a few weeks now . The summer season is in full swing and the crops are growing furiously in this weather . The glorious sunshine and lots of rain have certainly helped ! There’s lots of inspiration for painting plants.

Taking a Break – Painting Plants

Drawing Runner Beans

I don’t often find time to take a break when we are up at the allotment . There are always so many chores to do at this time of year . But , I couldn’t resist it any longer and I just had to draw the tangle of leaves and flowers twining their way up the garden canes ! As you can see in the sketch above , I did a working sketch of the runner beans . To explain , the sketch is a quick record of the scene – about twenty minutes. And it is intended as a reference for me to use later when I have time to do a larger painting.

Drawing Runner Beans – a close up

My Notes on Painting Plants

Hopefully , you can read the notes that I scribbled on my drawing here . They are just reminders of the colours for when I paint the bigger picture . I do also take one or two photos , but the memory of actually drawing this first will be more useful to me . I did observe the shapes of the leaves and flowers quite carefully too .

Tangled vegetation

Painting Plants - a window box crammed full of polyanthus flowers - yellow,  purple and green . Abstract composition
Spring Flowers

I have been quite fascinated by tangled leaves and flowers for a couple of years now . In this mixed media painting of flowers in a windowbox above , I tried to show the crowding of the plants in a small space . And the painting at the top of the page is my impression of how I felt after a walk in a wood in early summer last year. There was a real jungle of growth and I just had to spend some time painting plants . So much inspiration and so little time ! ( see more abstract flower paintings here )

Watercolour and pencil work showing a runner bean plant with scarlet flowers  -painting plants .
Runner Beans in Colour

I took ten minutes later on in the day to add some watercolour to my runner beans . To be honest , I haven’t decided yet whether to turn this into a semi abstracted composition or a design . Stay tuned to find out !

Open Air Sketching by the Water

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 !

Abstract Flower Painting in Summer

A very large pink and red abstract flower painting,  slightly abstracted in style , surrounded by relief prints of leaves in purple and olive green.
Big Pink Abstract Flower

Last week I was inspired by the combinations of colours that I saw in the summer flowers I was planting in our window boxes . Pink and red caught my eye and I worked with these to create an abstract flower painting . I had been talking to a friend online about simple printing . So I had a go at relief printing some leaves . I used the easiest , non-tech method ! After coating the back of the leaf with acrylic paint , I pressed it gently on to the painting , using a sheet of clean paper to protect everything from my painty fingers . Then I experimented with the amount of paint I used and the pressure I applied to get different effects . I also made a second print with the same painted leaf and the resulting print has quite a faint , dreamy quality that is very pleasing . The possibilities are endless ! I quite liked the result .

Windowbox Flowers – mixed media

You might have seen this mixed media piece earlier on in the year. I just loved the colours of the Spring flowers back in April or May .For this abstract flower painting I used watercolour , pen and coloured pencil.

Another Abstract Flower Painting

This watercolour painting is one of my own favourites , Sweetpeas from the Allotment. I liked it so much that I chose it for the poster to advertise my solo exhibition back in January at the Skelmanthorpe Gallery in West Yorkshire. You can read all about it in this post here .

Abstract flower painting of sweetpeas in pink  , purple and green
Sweetpeas from the Allotment

Actually , I have realized just recently that I prefer doing an abstract flower painting now , rather than in realistic style . So , watch this space for more experiments !

All my paintings are available to buy at reasonable prices . For more information , go to the contact page and use the form to send me an email .

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

Under the Sea – Watercolour and Collage

A bright watercolour and collage  sketch of corals and plants with black and white collaged fish swimming by in a sunlit sea .
Fish Swimming By – in watercolour and collage

I started this week’s art journal mixed media piece with no particular subject in mind , except that I wanted to create something light and colourful. Then , without planning it , I sketched out the under the sea scene in watercolour and afterwards added collage. The corals and plants are in fact drawn from my imagination . It was done quite quickly and then I thought about how to make the fish really stand out from the background . So I decided that collaged paper could be the answer . I have seen so many great ideas on line about creating your own collage papers . So l took a sheet of cartridge paper and scribbled some black lines with a marker pen . Then I used a simple template for the cut out fish and arranged them in a pleasing shape . And I have some collage paper leftover for another project !

A detail  of the under the sea painting,  showing the black  and white fish swimming by a pink , fan shaped  coral.
A School of Fish

I hope you feel a bit cheered up by my whimsical under the sea scene – it certainly lifted my spirits !

A bonus picture – Sunflowers

Two sunflower heads in watercolour- yellow and green
Supermarket Sunflowers

A quick sketch in pencil and watercolour in my tiny sketchbook. I finished this in about fifteen minutes – ( almost ) instant art . See more flowers in my gallery .

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

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.

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

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

Colourful Flowers in Mixed Media

Flowers in Watercolour

Colourful Flowers in Watercolour and Collage

Six large colourful flowers floating in  a blue sky painted in watercolour, oil pastel and pen -flowers in mixed media
Bursting with Colour

I was quite pleased with this colourful flowers in mixed media piece that I did in my art journal – I used pen ,watercolour , oil pastel, pencil and collage. It was inspired by the beauty of the Spring flowers and colours I could see all around me . I also tried to pay attention to the shape of the design too – a first for me . It cheers me up when I look at it . I hope you like it too !

You’ll find more paintings of flowers in my Gallery ( Still Life and Flowers) here

Urban Sketching in Watercolour

Plein air watercolour sketching

Urban sketching - a view from the car park over the houses to the hill
From the Carpark

At last ! I managed to do some urban sketching in watercolour outside from life (well , from the car window). And the house really was painted green ! To be honest , I didn’t realise how much I would miss painting from life and going out with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. Well , this took 20 minutes for the watercolour sketch and a little finish off at home with a fineliner . That’s because I like my plein air sketches to keep that freshness. And so I tend not to do too much ‘ editing ‘ afterwards .

A Harbour in Greenland

This is a great idea – Virtual Sketch on Facebook. Actually , you can do this in real time ( or afterwards) and go on a virtual trip . In fact , there are lots of locations in Greenland or other countries to choose from . Then you pause the sequence and sketch . Here is my quick watercolour sketch of Sisimut harbour. Honestly , I enjoyed sketching it ( 30 minutes ) and, for a moment or two I felt like I was really there ! If you check this out , there are lots of interesting places around the world to choose from .

Urban Sketching in Watercolour in a Brewery

At the Brewery urban sketching in watercolour

You might remember that this was the last Urban Sketchers trip I went on , to a brewery in Saltaire. As you can see , I was really into my stride with this one back in February. But I feel quite out of practice now. So you might like to have a look at this post from February . Because it’s all about the Saltaire trip and my pen and wash sketch. See here

Saint Mary’s Church

Just to explain , I did this pen drawing through the art gallery window, looking down at the lovely church and churchyard right in the middle of town . And I drew this straight in with a marker pen which gives it a fresh and lively look but doesn’t leave much room for error .

Sketching in Pen on a Collage Background

Art in the Cafe

And , to finish off with , a pen and ink sketch done last year while drinking a cup of coffee in a shopping centre cafe . I think this is urban sketching at its best . Those were the days ! Perhaps this is something for us all to look forward to in these days of Social Distancing . Meanwhile , take care .

p.s – here is one I did this morning as part of a lovely walk around the park. Actually , it took me 20 minutes. And , I think I might use it as a basis for an acrylic painting, concentrating on the different layers of greens , yellows and browns. So you see , there’s no time to be bored when you’re an artist !

A beautiful old tree

Lockdown Art – Art Journal Page

Watercolour and Mixed Media Painting of a Bird in Flight

A heron flying over a collaged background  - one of my favourite  art journals pages
Free as a Bird

Lockdown Art Anyone ?

I started off this watercolour sketch as a response to a challenge for an art group I belong to. And , it was called ‘ Bird in Flight ‘ . Then I changed it into an art journal page , expressing some of my feelings about being in lockdown . Well, in this mixed media piece I used pen , pencil , collage, watercolour and oil pastel. To be honest , I always knew art was my therapy ! Does anyone else feel as strongly as I do about benefiting so much from creating art when times are hard ? For me , artwork that I have done in this time of social distancing has been a great help in the last few weeks . See more watercolour and collage work here in my post about life under the sea .

Urban Sketching at Saltaire

Pen and Watercolour and Urban Sketching

Watercolour sketch with pen all in yellow mauve and brown showing huge vats in a brewery . Semi abstract style whilst urban sketching
Brewing

This is just a quick post – I wanted to share with you a watercolour sketch I did this weekend . I spent the day with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. We went to the fabulous Salts Mill ,at Saltaire near Bradford , a World Heritage site. But , first of all , we spent the morning in a craft brewery urban sketching, looking down on the factory from a balcony. See here for some great photos of the Beer Factory.

Well, I did my usual pen sketch and I realised how many gorgeous patterns there were in the view . So , when adding watercolour , I started to emphasize and exaggerate the abstract shapes. At the moment , I’m concentrating on abstract composition in my acrylic painting so I’m a bit obsessed ! But this is the first time I’ve actually put one together while ‘ one the spot ‘ so to speak. This could be addictive !

I used some of the new techniques I’ve learned – putting more contrast in the design and trying to harmonize the colours.

I’ll post something a bit longer soon , when I’ve a bit more time, all about a great exhibition I saw in Sheffield .

Have a look here for more of my urban sketching at Saltaire and other places !

Mythical Creatures – including Dragons !

Dragons , Monsters and Angels – a Ceramics Exhibition Review

William de Morgan plate in blue and white with Medieval dragon motif , one of the mythical creatures at Cannon  Hall
De Morgan dragon plate

We went a couple of times to our local stately home Cannon Hall quite recently to look at the “Mythical Creatures” display, taken from their famous ceramics collection.

The Blue Vase with Green Dragon
The Red Dragon

The Dragons – Mythical Creatures at Cannon Hall

It was really very impressive. And I felt quite inspired by the fascinating dragon vase and the plate upstairs in the gallery. In fact , they were produced by the famous Victorian designer William de Morgan . He married Evelyn , whose family lived in Cannon Hall. ( She was , of course a famous artist in her own right ). Actually , this particularly caught my eye as it was a medieval depiction of a dragon . As you can see , it looks like a huge worm or serpent, with no wings. So I painted my own version, first in watercolour [ see above] and then acrylic.

Acrylic painting of a green dragon with no wings surrounded by flames , in a mountain landscape one of the Mythical creatures at Cannon Hall
The Green Dragon

I modelled my acrylic painting on this style of imaginary beast – it still took me a while to figure out how to make the body look realistic without the wings.

Some Other Mythical Creatures

Pencil drawing of the head and shoulders of a ceramic statuette of the  Greek God Pan
Pan , the Greek God

I had a great time sketching the ceramic bust of the Greek god Pan that was also displayed upstairs .Surprisingly ,the porcelain piece was so delicately coloured that the flesh was quite convincing and realistic ! In fact , I really enjoyed the challenge of drawing his crown of leaves, pointed ears and horns too.

Greek style  plate in orange and black with angels - one of the photos in my exhibition review.
Greek style plate with angels
Black and orange bowl with sphinx motif
Sphinx Bowl

Back downstairs, you could see all the mythical creatures you could think of . And a few you never would have thought of . So , there were fairies, gods, dragons, angels, unicorns, sphinxes and other strange hybrids of human and animal origin. To be honest, I was even inspired to paint my own angel this Christmas. To see more angels, look at my December post ‘ Christmas Paintings in Acrylic on Canvas ‘ here

A watercolour sketch  of an angel with golden wings , inspired by the images of mythical creatures in the ceramic collection.
An Angel for Christmas
Salt Cellar

This is a real treasure house of plates, sculpture, vases and tableware. So I’m looking forward to the next display that the curators will, no doubt, put together.

A beautifully illustrated page from an old journal with illustrations of mythical creatures
Imaginary Beasts at Cannon Hall

Finally , the image above is from a sketchbook kept by one of the residents of Cannon Hall , in the past. As you can tell , the beautiful detail on these imaginary beasts is quite exceptional.

To sum up , there was loads of inspiration for creative work, if only I had the time ! I hope you enjoyed my little exhibition review .

Colourful Painting – Sunshiny Days

A Colourful Painting of a Mediterranean Coastal Scene in Watercolour

Colourful painting in watercolour of a harbour and a castle on the  Mediterranean coast .
The Med

This is my latest – a fairly quick watercolour sketch of a harbour scene. Because I was so fed up of all the dark , damp days we were having , I chose something light and sunny to paint. And it really worked ! My mood lifted straight away and , as an added bonus, everyone else who looked at it cheered up too . I really enjoy creating a colourful painting . I don’t know about you , but what I work on always affects my emotions. Art Therapy, anyone ?

An orange and blue abstract composition.
Sunshiny Day

Now , this acrylic painting is another example of my colourful painting that I did to brighten up dark November days . But this was put together in a completely different way from the harbour scene which is carefully detailed . To be honest , Sunshiny Day was painted quite instinctively . And I really had no idea before I started whet it would turn out to be . And it evolved gradually. It was a surprise to me , but I liked it ! I must say , I don’t often produce work this way – but I feel a series coming on. Are there any more Abstract Expressionists out there? ( I added the words afterwards to make it into a poster for my current exhibition – see previous post for details )

You can find this abstract painting with a few more in my Gallery Abstracts here

Christmas Paintings in Acrylic on Canvas

Ideas for Christmas Paintings

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Here are some ideas for Christmas paintings.

Small box canvas Christmas paintings in acrylic- Robin,  Christmas tree  and  snow covered village scenes.
The box canvas Christmas paintings

I love this time of year but the downside is not having enough time to paint as well as get the house Christmas ready. Of course you have to buy and wrap the pressies, decorate the tree and so on.

So it’s a good idea to : 1] Paint Christmas paintings and card designs the year before and then have them printed in time to send this year.

A watercolour painting of a boy dragging home this year's Christmas tree in the forest. A forest landscape.
This year’s tree

And the second strategy is to recycle artwork from previous years, dust them off and arrange them somewhere different in the house.

Mother and child walking through the snow  to the  Christmas service at church
Going to Church

Last year, I took part in the Angel Festival of Hoylandswaine church with my art group. I must say, the church looked brilliant – full of beautiful angels.

A traditional angel  walking down the path from Heaven to Earth .
Angel of Peace

Do you know , I got so enthused this year that I arranged an angel painting evening at Barnsley and District Art Society. And it was great fun. See more angels in my January post ‘ Mythical Creatures – Including Dragons ! ‘ here

Angel in a golden robe

And I did it all before the festive season to cut down on creative stress.

Merry Christmas everyone!