Some Sunshiny Paintings in Acrylic

Beach day

Good morning everyone. Today I wanted to show you another one of my sunshiny paintings – finished at last! As you have probably realised, I like to complete projects fairly promptly, before I forget all my ideas. And, this one was started a couple of months ago. So, it only needed a few finishing touches and at last I got round to it.

For example, I strengthened the figures so that you can spot them better.

And I also tried to make the background recede further back by blurring the vegetation on the headland. In addition, I dulled the colour of the sand near the cliff, so that it seemed more distant.

As you may have guessed, this is a bay in Australia, somewhere, sadly, I have never been. But, I really enjoyed painting this as part of the online course I am following. Plus the fact that , in these dull, cold winter days, it cheers me up just looking at it! Actually, I might frame it and hang it on my wall so that I can feel its warmth everyday.

Somewhere in France

Finally, here’s another of my sunshiny paintings. In fact, I did this a couple of years ago and, there is some memory painted into it. Because I visited France many times and well remember walking down streets like these. Always on the shady side of the street!

In case you didn’t know, all my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for details.

My Painting in New Exhibition

Snow’s Melting

Hello everyone. This is just a very quick post today because I’m dashing about, being involved in four exhibitions at the moment. And it feels very strange after all that time with no arty activities, then, suddenly so many opportunities. Anyway, today I’ve been to the new exhibition at the Gallery Gate gallery in Doncaster, South Yorkshire to see the Christmas show.

Well, the new exhibition is looking very good and I think my painting fits in really well. So, many thanks to Kim, curator of the gallery. I think the expression on my face says it all!

Actually, that’s all I have time for today. And, tomorrow I go to a lovely gallery in Sheffield to see my painting, which was chosen for the Fronteer Gallery Open competition. So, look out for a report on that soon.

Summery Days – Painting the Sheep

Good morning everyone. I’ve been doing a bit of finishing off again and this little watercolour, Summery Days was started about a month ago. Actually, I was following a free tutorial one evening. And, putting the first layer down was straightforward, But, after that I found it difficult to make progress. So I left it to one side for a bit, busy with other projects. After a while, I couldn’t ignore it any more. So I tried to move it along by myself. Honestly, I wasn’t very confident. I often feel like that when painting a subject that wasn’t really of my own choosing. However, I persevered and I’m reasonably pleased with the end result.

Summery Days – Painting the Sheep

On the plus side, I learned how to make the sheep look more realistic . Initially I did this by putting a medium tone on the body, reserving the white of the paper for the light patches. Then I added the dark tones after. And, most importantly, I did all this as soon as possible so that the animals look part of the scene from the beginning.

Well, that’s all for now. And, I’ve now got a lovely summery picture to look at while we wait for the snow to melt here in the UK! (And here is another post with summery pictures in it.)

Work for our New Exhibition

Ready to Go On

Good morning everyone. Well, I have been quite busy again doing “art” business. In fact, I’ve realised that I’ve made myself just a bit too busy. But, in my own defence, it’s probably a natural reaction to the situation. First, no art activity for a long time. Then, say yes to every opportunity that comes along! Anyway, what could be nicer than taking part in Rotherham Roar artists’ group exhibition? Because it’s the first one we’ve had for quite a while. And so, I took these two pencil and watercolour sketches I did at life drawing class ages ago , for our new exhibition.

Ready to Go On
Thinking

In fact, the space we are exhibiting in at Rotherham Market Hall is like a wall of glass. So, works on paper and unframed are the way to go. Therefore I choose these two prints.

Working in my Allotment
Clematis at Dusk

As I recall, the flower painting was part of a project at my art society to capture the colours of flowers as the light faded. See here for more of my flower paintings.

And, finally, these last two made the final choice for our new exhibition. Up first is my version of a microscope photo of a neuron (one of those things in your brain that makes everything possible).

Neurons

And, finally, one of my favourites, a mixed media piece I call a semi abstracted memory of a walk in the woods.

A Walk in the Woods

To be honest, I’ve probably got enough work to fill the whole wall, not that I’m an excessive painter or anything! But, for now, six is enough!

Sketching Faces – my New Challenge

Good morning everyone. After I’d finished the Inktober challenge this year, I realised how much I had benefited from the daily drawing exercise. So I was pleased to find a new Instagram challenge – sketching faces on #facetasticfriday. Actually, this is hosted by a great group I joined a while ago – Kick in the Creatives. And I think the reference photos are very good and sometimes different (like the one above!) As you can see, I couldn’t resist adding watercolour to the image, to bring it to life a bit. But, I drew most of my sketches just in biro, with no pencil sketch beforehand, just to add that bit of excitement when sketching faces!

Well, I’m only writing a short post today, because I’m just getting busier and busier! So, I’m off to the printers, getting some stuff ready for an exhibition, more of that later.

However, if you want to have a look at some of my adventures in portraiture, see this post here.

A Pink and Blue Intuitive Abstract

A pink and blue intuitive abstract,  organic shapes, swirling about in a sea of grey.
Pink and Blue

Good morning everyone. I been trying to catch up a bit recently and finish off some paintings that I had left midway. For example, this pink and blue painting first started life as a quick abstract sketched out in marker pens. In fact, I was in my studio early one morning watching the sunrise through my window. And the glorious colours – pink, soft blue and turquoise really inspired me. So, I grabbed a pack of cheap felt tip pens and a drawing pad, and created this.

The first drawing of the idea.

As you can see, I added greys to tone down the brightness. And these became quite a feature in my acrylic version on canvas board.

Pink and Blue – the Acrylic Version

Well, I really enjoyed applying the paint thickly and creating texture in this acrylic painting on board. However, it still didn’t seem quite right and so began the long wait! Actually, I looked at it everyday ( there’s stuff all over the house being “looked at”!) And then I got busy! Does this story sound familiar? Finally, I quickly finished it with some subtle marks, so, lots of thinking led to quick painting.

And, I was fairly pleased with it, so I put it on the dresser and I’m still looking at it. But now it’s stopped talking to me, so that’s ok.

You could see more of my abstracts here in my gallery . And all of my work is for sale at reasonable prices, email me via the Contact Me page for details. And here is another pink and blue abstract, acrylic on board.

A Little Gouache Story Picture

Good morning everyone. Well, this story picture is finished at last! In fact, I started it back in August as a response to an open call, online. But, I didn’t like what I produced at all. And, it has been hanging around the house ever since, staring at me reproachfully. And whispering, ” Why won’t you finish me?” Anyway, I gave in on Sunday and repainted it, changing the figure into something I like. By the way, as well as the original reference photo, I looked at this image a lot for direction ( see below)

By Hugo Scheiber

When I looked him up a bit more, I really like this Hungarian artist’s expressionist painting. Hugo Scheiber 1873 – 1950. And to me, still modern and fresh looking.

The Book

What’s the story? Actually, this story picture is quite an open image and full of possibilities, what do you think? And, here’s another of mine, still waiting for its story to be told.

Castles, Palaces and Stately Homes

Once upon a Time

Good morning everyone. At this week’s meeting for our art society, we are having a Studio evening. By that we mean an opportunity to sit and paint together and have a bit of a chat. And the theme for the night is ‘Castles, Palaces and Stately Homes’, in any painting media and style. Of course, this is only a suggestion for inspiration and members often bring their own work to continue instead. But we find that it’s sometimes helpful to concentrate the mind that way.

Conisbrough Castle

The Keep

This is a quick watercolour sketch I painted in September and my intention was to show the huge, overwhelming feeling of standing at the base of the castle keep.

The Fairy Tale Castle

After a painting by John Piper

Actually, I really enjoyed painting this acrylic a while back, taking inspiration from one of my favourite artists – John Piper. But I gave it my own spin and emphasised the out of this world magical quality of it (I hope!)

Castles, Palaces and Stately Homes

Calke Abbey

As you may know, I spent a week this August in Derbyshire and saw a few beautiful old buildings. Including this imposing stately home, Calke Abbey which was rather forbidding in real life, built in greyish stone. Now, that could be a real challenge! However, I’ll show you how I get on later.

If you like looking at English stately homes see this post here.

Going Out Sketching in Wakefield

The huge sandstone cathedral towered above me, when going out sketching in Wakefield.
A Modern Madonna and Child in Wakefield Cathedral

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick post to update you on my plein air sketching. And we spent a lovely morning, going out sketching in Wakefield. Actually, I was with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire and it was great to see everyone after a long break.

Well, the city is full of characterful streets and imposing buildings. So we headed straight for the cathedral and me and my art buddy found a little wall to sit on. Luckily, the cathedral precinct was a little quieter than the main streets. And I particularly liked being so close to the huge building. In fact, that’s what I tried to capture in the watercolour sketch – the stone work towering above me.

The Side Door

After about fifteen minutes we had enough of the battering gusts of wind, blowing round the building. So, I slapped some colour on the pen sketch and we went for a coffee in the octagonal shaped cathedral cafe.

The Modern Madonna and Child

As I recall, there was almost too much to choose from in the beautiful church. But, my eye was caught by this modern statue and I found it was very moving. Somehow it reminded me of what’s really important in this changing world – the love of family and friends.

If you like looking at sketches of English churches, see this post here and here.

Northern Fringe Exhibition Now Open

Good morning everyone. Well, as I write this, it’s not quite true because we are opening the show tomorrow, see poster above for dates. Anyway, we have waited a long time to put on our Northern Fringe exhibition. Obviously, due to lockdowns and so on, so I’m really looking forward to going tomorrow to see everyone’s work.

As I have mentioned before, the theme is a really meaty one that you can get your teeth into! In my opinion, at least, ‘Inspired by Yorkshire Writers’. Perhaps you have seen my first entry already. But, here’s another chance.

The Green Knight, Waiting for Sir Gawain at the Doorway of his Church

And, I felt inspired to paint this by the poem ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ‘ by Simon Armitage. In fact, he reworked the medieval poem about King Arthur and his knights. And it’s a really good read too.

The House on the Moor

Secondly, I painted this view of the ruined farm house on the moors near Howarth, probably the setting Emily Bronte chose for her novel, Wuthering Heights. But, I was also inspired by the poem by Ted Hughes about the day he and his wife, Sylvia Plath walked up to Top Withens.

Top Withens

Now, after having painted both of these, I was tidying my stash, and I found my Egyptian Temple painting. Actually, I did it a year ago, when I did a series of gouache paintings about Egypt. And, I had forgotten that my imagination was fired up by the exhibitions put on by Joann Fletcher in our town. Joann, born locally, is a well-known Egyptologist – her exhibitions were very good, as were the documentaries on tv. In particular, I remember her striding around the sites in baking heat, with the sun striking off the white stone.

I explain all about this painting here, it has just come back from an exhibition.

Two More Paintings for our Northern Fringe Exhibition

Egyptian Temple

Finally, just before I had to take the paintings to the gallery, I had an idea about one of Ebenezer Elliott’s poems, Trees at Brimham , in North Yorkshire. You see, this Victorian poet lived all his life in my area. And I especially like his poem about this area of rocky outcrops. As he says, the rocks and trees are shaped by each other, and live in ‘union strange’.

Brimham Rocks

Literally, I painted this acrylic painting on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then delivered it on Tuesday! As our exhibition themes are usually ongoing, I’ve got time to paint more! Watch this space….

Inktober Project Finished at Last

Good morning everyone. Well, I finished this Inktober project at last! Actually, I’m very pleased that I made it to the end, because that’s the first time ever. And it’s only because I decided to make the sketches just that, quick sketches. Only five or ten minutes (some even less!) in contrast to a lot of the work I saw online. In fact, lots of people did absolutely beautiful finished drawings, and there was plenty of creativity too.

Collide

Anyway, back to my Inktober project – this first image was in response to the prompt Collide. And I immediately thought of stars colliding. So I looked at some astronomy photos online and used them as a starting point. Then my imagination took over! The ink was very easy to push around and layer up to get the effects I wanted.

After that, I simply drew my phone charger for the prompt Connect. Next, the prompt Helmet sparked off a few ideas and I finally settled for this Viking helmet. In actual fact, this piece of armour was found in York, a city in Yorkshire, not far from where I live. It was originally a Viking stronghold and has lots of evidence of Roman activity too.

A decorative fan for my Inktober project

Of course, the prompt for this was Fan and I just had to draw this big red fan on the wall in my hall. But, I found it quite difficult to draw in only black or white. As you may know, I’m really fond of lots of bright colour, so, I must do a coloured version some time.

And, finally, the last image is my response to the prompt Risk. As I had been wading through paperwork to create a risk assessment document for our Art Society, it was very much on my mind!

Maybe you can tell that I enjoyed Inktober – you can see the rest of my sketches on my Instagram margarethallfineart. But, I’m glad it only comes around once year!

A Pink and Yellow Abstract

Pink and Yellow

Good morning everyone. This is just a short post today, about pink and yellow! I’m a bit busy delivering and collecting paintings, now that galleries are working again. But, more of that later.

Actually, I think I’ve mentioned before that I sometimes paint a quick watercolour abstract. Usually when I’m pressed for time and I need to be creative. Well, I painted this pink and yellow effort in lovely calming and optimistic colours. This version is the original one turned around. So have a look at the original.

As you can see, in this intuitive abstract, I seem to have created a cartoonish figure with a large smiling face. And yet, turned around, I see a bowl of fruit, perhaps on a table near the window. Or, perhaps you see something different!

Now, I must go and take my paintings to our Northern Fringe Gallery in the Ridings centre in Wakefield. And here is another post about our lovely gallery.

Ink Sketches for Inktober 2021

Good morning everyone. Today I thought I would show you some of the ink sketches I have been doing for Inktober 2021. Actually, I have been posting them over on my Instagram account @margarethallfineart. So, if you want to see more of these, that’s where they are – the good, the bad and the ugly!

But, back to these ones. Firstly, the Chinese pagoda or gateway – the prompt was ‘Roof’. And, to be honest, it was a bit of a cheat! It was painted using a brush and some thinned sepia ink. Because I had been looking for a dip pen or a fountain pen locally and couldn’t get one. Honestly!

Then we have one of my favourites – ‘Moon’. Incidentally, the real moon has been visible and very beautiful this month here in the UK. And, I sketched this in biro.

One of my Ink Sketches – prompt ‘Extinct’

Of course, this was the sad one. This beautiful animal, the Western Black Rhino, exists no more. Biro sketch.

Next, we have my answer to the prompt ‘Sprout’. And, it couldn’t be anything else but a Brussel Sprout plant! But, this is the best bit, I drew it from memory and this is how the plant looked then. However, this double row of large plants at the allotment is now being cropped. And, very nice they tasted too for dinner last night! Marker pen.

Lastly, I had a little go at a story picture from my imagination, something I find doesn’t come easy to me. And I thought of how gleefully I picked these three sunflowers, because something ate all the other plants. And this was the first time I managed to grow the blooms successfully for a few years.

Well, these were some of my best efforts on my first try at Inktober. And I decided to do very quick five or ten minutes drawings so that I could commit to it. Wish me luck to complete the whole thing!

Autumn Harvest in the Garden

The autumn harvest in the walled garden, some big, bright orange pumpkins.
Big Pumpkins

Good morning everyone. I painted this watercolour sketch of the autumn harvest a week ago in Wortley Hall walled garden. Actually, it’s one of our new favourite things to do – walk round and inspect all the crops! Also, we chat to the volunteer gardeners given half a chance. And ask about planting, pest deterrent and so on, only fascinating to fellow mad gardeners!

Anyway, the pumpkins were a triumph, and the earth around them was quite bare. Because all the luxuriant growth of their stems and leaves were withered away, having given their strength to the fruit. And you can see the drying green runner beans on their bamboo supports in the background. Perhaps the red bush beside them is amaranthus – I’m not quite sure. But the nasturtiums right up front, left side are in their prime. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to get mine to flourish for a few years. When they do, we eat the peppery leaves in salads and make a pickle from the seed pods, like capers. Quite a good autumn harvest, I think.

Our Autumn Harvest, this time Last Year

A quick pencil sketch of three pumpkins, ripening on the soil.
Three Pumpkins

Perhaps you may remember this quick pencil sketch I did last year, showing some of our pumpkins ripening on the soil. Incidentally, this year’s harvest was even better . And we’ve already started enjoying my favourite, pumpkin soup. On a different note, have a look at this post here for glorious autumn colour in the leaves of trees. In effect, quite a beautiful time of year here in the north of England.

Painting Buildings – Real and Virtual

Cityscape

Good morning, everyone. I thought I’d do a little catch up post. Because I’m producing lots of small drawings and paintings at the moment, including painting buildings. Rather than big projects and I suppose that doing Inktober 2021 is partly to blame for that. ( It’s all on my Instagram @margarethallfineart)

Anyway, I really enjoyed doing this quick, virtual urban sketch, thanks to the challenge set by @tobyurbansketch. Actually, I don’t know the location of this photo, but the idea is to imagine that you’re on the spot. Then sketch quickly and fluently, spending the same time on it that you would in the field. In fact, for me that’s about 40 minutes. In this way, you can try to retain the freshness and not overwork it. By the way, this way of urban sketching was very popular during lockdowns, for obvious reasons.

Painting Buildings in the Garden

The Little Shed

In contrast, I was actually here on the spot for this sketch, nothing virtual about it! In effect, we have three sheds, a greenhouse and a polytunnel in our allotment. So, I always have plenty of material to paint, not to mention the plants and the crops. Have a look at this post here, for more garden buildings.

Although you might not notice, I can definitely see some improvements in my watercolour sketching now. Because studying techniques in any styles and paints usually does pay off. For example, I’m pleased with the way I’ve achieved more fluidity in the sky and foliage here. Although I’ve spotted a tendency to push the paint around like I used to, if I don’t concentrate. So, more practice required, I think – but, that’s the fun part!

The Little Shed – a closeup

A Windmill House in Watercolour

The Windmill House

Good morning, everyone. This is the windmill house in Wentworth village, painted in plein air on a sketchtrip in September. At least, I painted the main part of it outdoors. But, as conditions weren’t great, we dashed off to the garden centre cafe for coffee and a chat. This image below is the first draft that I did outside.

The Windmill House – the first draft

Actually, I was quite pleased with this and I tried to use the techniques I have been learning about recently. However, as we were standing in a field of rough pasture and nettles, behind a 5 foot wall, it wasn’t ideal ! Anyway, at home later that day, I tried to think ‘ plein air sketching ‘ and not paint the picture to death!

The History of the Windmill House

Most of the land and the buildings in Wentworth village were built and are still owned by the Wentworth Estate. And this is now separate from the big house Wentworth Woodhouse, just around the corner from this lane. Perhaps you may remember this post here, where I reported on my visit to the mansion gardens. In fact, the family built this mill here on Clayfield Lane in 1745, obviously to process flour from the grain grown on the estate. Of course, it is now a private dwelling in a charming cottage garden, giving pleasure to everyone who walks by. To be honest, the whole village is full of picturesque views. And, I don’t think this will be the last sketch trip we will make to Wentworth village.

The Windmill House – a closeup

Watercolour Experiment in Autumn Colours

Autumn Wood

Good morning everyone. This watercolour experiment started off as a doodle really, then I began testing out different ways of manipulating the paint. After studying Paul Talbot-Greaves’ lovely book, I realised that I needed to practise techniques. And, by making a sample sheet, rather than a ‘proper’ painting so that I felt free to play. And, it definitely worked! So, here you can see wet-in-wet, stippling, spattering, dry brushing dripping and, hopefully, more movement of paint. However, it’s not in my nature not to put a bit of a story into my painting. Consequently, it became a walk in a wood at autumn time. Actually, the choices of colours and shapes must have come from my subconscious.

Autumn Wood, a closeup

In fact, I found this exercise very useful and I think I shall be a bit more confident now when painting in watercolour. Honestly, I wasn’t using enough paint or making it wet enough, so things had to change!

Last Year’s Watercolour Experiment in Autumn Colours

Lovely Autumn Day

Really, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the season than to sit and drink in the atmosphere of a beautiful autumn day. And then to paint a memory.

You could see more of last year’s autumn plein air watercolour sketches in this post here. And, don’t forget, all my work is for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for more details.

Painting Outdoors in Late Summer

Longshaw Estate

Good morning everyone. This is just a catch up post where I’m showing you some of the watercolour sketches I did whilst painting outdoors. In fact, the weather this year was very kind to us artists. And I spent quite a lot of time sitting quietly, painting the view. Sheer bliss! So, this the view over the rough pasture to the pond at Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire, UK. Now the pond is man made and designed to be seen as you leave the formal garden and take the path to the stream. Actually, I’m not sure whether this is the pool for boating or swimming – there are two! But, as you can see, it’s idyllic and right on the edge of the moors.

While I painted this little scene I tried to use some of the techniques I’ve been studying. In particular, I wanted to show the contrast of light and shade in the trees behind the water. Not all that easy on a low sunlight day. Also, I used a gentle touch with the reflections on the water, which were very subtle.

Painting Outdoors at Cannon Hall

The Small Glasshouse at Cannon Hall

Lastly, we also went to Cannon Hall on a warm, sunny day and we sat in the shade in the formal garden. And I had another attempt at portraying the glass panes of the little greenhouse. And the effect is a bit more lifelike, I feel, (see here for another attempt!) Incidentally, this is where the 200 year old grapevine lives, but that’s another story!

A Flower Abstract in Watercolour

Coleus Abstract

Good morning everyone. It’s just a short post for you today about this flower abstract composition. Actually, it was a couple of weeks ago that we went to Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire.

And we sat in the formal garden a hot late summer’s day in the shade, next to a beautiful display of red coleus.

Fortunately, I had my plein air sketching set in my bag. So I spent a blissful half hour doodling shapes and colours whilst looking at the flowers. And, the result was this flower abstract. What a lovely memory this painting brings me!

If you want to see another ‘flower memory’, look here.

A Country Walk in Watercolour

A Country Walk

Good morning, everyone. I’d like to show you this watercolour painting, ‘A Country Walk’. Because it’s the third exercise I have done from Paul Talbot-Greaves excellent book, 30 Minute Landscapes. And I’m really pleased with the result. But I’m well aware that I’m not yet at the stage where I could make such a beautiful, striking composition as this from a simple scene. So, I’ll keep on practising!

However, this painting was an excellent way to practise the new techniques I’m learning and have fun at the same time! For example, I practised stippling, as I explained in my last post here. Also there’s spattering of paint, created by flicking a paintbrush, loaded with paint. Please wear protective clothing! Seriously though, see if you can spot these two techniques in this closeup of a holly bush.

Trees in Closeup

A Country Walk-a closeup

And I also had the chance to practise painting nice fine branches and twigs by gradually changing brush size. Yes, I know I should have thought of that myself, but I didn’t! Finally, you might also see the shadows on the road are carefully painted by following Paul’s method. To be honest, I was very nervous about this part of the painting. Mainly, I think because I am so used to manipulating acrylic paint which very generously allows you to paint over your mistakes. In fact, I might now have a bit more confidence when painting shadows in a landscape. Instead of just fudging it and hoping for the best. Here’s a closeup of branches and shadows.

Anyway, I do think this study will help me to progress my painting. And , to finish off with, have a look at this acrylic painting from a couple of years ago, with a similar composition. Of course, this is an imaginary scene and seems to me not quite finished. Perhaps I will feel more inspired to finish it now, who knows?

Another Country Walk

Which Way Now?