Plein air Sketching in Yorkshire

A watercolour sketch of a beautiful old church in glowing sandstone - plein air sketching in Woolley village.
St. Peter’s at Woolley Village

Good morning everyone. Last week we went for a stroll around a very picturesque village where I did some plein air sketching. Actually, the weather was extremely cold and we saw a fair few other people, wandering aimlessly around. Well, that’s the Lockdown effect for you, but I couldn’t think of a more pleasant place for an easy winter walk.

The Village Buildings – My Plein Air Sketching

In fact, Woolley village was full of beautiful old cottages, some farm buildings and a splendid Old Hall. But it was the church that caught my eye, and we found a bench under a huge yew tree. So, this is the view right in front of us- irresistible. Just look at the glowing sandstone, the backlit holly tree and the quirky shapes of the ancient gravestones.

St. Peter’s at Woolley Village

Plein Air Sketching at this Historic Site

In fact, there has been a church on this site since Norman times, that is since the eleven hundreds. Hopefully, you can just make out the odd shapes in the bottom left of the picture. Apparently, these are shrine like tomb boxes from the Norman period. In addition to this grade 2 listed graveyard, inside the church there is a William Morris stained glass window. Unfortunately, the church wasn’t open, so that will be for another day.

A photo of St Peter's and the tranquil churchyard that I painted while plein air sketching.
St. Peter’s at Woolley, South Yorkshire

If you follow my blog, you will be aware that I love to sketch en plein air or from life outdoors. For me, this means watercolour sketching and I do like to complete the sketch whilst outside. However, for this one, I managed to do about two layers and then my fingers froze! (40 minutes). Then I finished it off at home. But you can see the Quarry Park here and Wentworth Old Church here which were completed in situ. Oh well, let’s hope for some mild spring weather soon!

Painting Faces in Acrylic Paint

Painting faces. Two sweet cherubs, with small feathered wings, resting in rose pink and deep purple clouds,my study of Raphael's painting.
My Study of Raphael’s Cherubs

Good morning everyone. Well, I decided it was time to take the plunge and try painting faces! And I’m sure that lots of you will be familiar with this image taken from Raphael’s beautiful work. Because you do see it everywhere, on cards, tea towels, diaries and so on.

Raphael (1483- 1520) was an Italian painter and architect in the Renaissance period. In fact, he was very successful in his own lifetime. And he painted the little angels on this commissioned Madonna and child painting in 1512. As you can see, the clouds are not the same colour as in our Valentine’s Day version!

The Sistine Madonna by Raphael

Raphael's Sistine Madonna, a superb painting showing Mary and Jesus, two saints and the two adorable cherubs at the bottom of the picture.

As you can see, in this superb painting by Raphael, the scene shows us Mary, Jesus, two saints and the baby angels waiting and dreaming.

Anyway, I painted this study whilst following along with a free tutorial, hosted by Artclassesgroup. Actually, the tuition was very good and the tutor guided us through completing the angelic cherub on the left. You see, the session was only one hour long, so that, plus a bit of background was good going.Then I spent another hour and added the baby cherub on the right.

Half Finished Cherubs

The Three Stages of Painting Faces

Obviously, I was most interested in painting the faces, something I have tried to avoid in my painting practice. And that’s because it seems to me to be the most difficult subject of all. Fortunately, the tutor cleverly simplified it down and we were able to follow. To be honest, it had never occurred to me to treat the face like anything else I paint. So, firstly we mixed a reasonable flesh colour and covered the face in a mid tone. Then we darkened that colour mix and applied patches of colour for shadows. Lastly, (you’ve guessed it) we lightened the first mid tone and painted highlights, on the nose, forehead and so on.

Painting the Clouds

A close up of Raphael's cherubs - part of my painting faces project.
My study of Raphael’s cherubs

After all the careful brushstrokes of the faces, it was a real pleasure to let myself go and paint clouds! Not only were the colours so delicious, but also the subject really lent itself to expressive marks.And I enjoyed trying to create the fluffy texture of the wings too!

Painting faces- a close of my study of Raphael's baby angel.
A Cherub Resting on a Bed of Clouds

In all, I spent another hour to finish this and I would thoroughly recommend this exercise. Because there’s such a lot to be learnt from studying the work of great painters. And if you want to see how I painted my own version of a delightful abstract by Paul Klee see this post here.

English Cottages in Acrylic and Watercolour

English cottages- this one is a grand house beside a large, beautiful pond. Semi-abstract style.
The Red House by the Pond

Good morning everyone. Last week I took advantage of two free tutorials online and I painted English cottages. Although this one looks to be rather a grand cottage. Of course, the location of it is superb, right next to a tranquil pond. You see, Artclassesgroup is the name of the host, and the classes took place over our school half term week. Although, to be honest, a lot of children in the UK are at home anyway right now. But, nonetheless, the group provided some good activities which were designed to interest all ages, including adults like me!

The Reflections of the Cottage

Closeup of the Water and the Reflection

As you can probably tell, I painted this in acrylic and fairly rapidly too (the class was only one hour long, but I spent another hour on it as well). Actually, I felt out of my comfort zone using this colour palette, which can be a good thing. Also I enjoyed learning a different way of depicting reflections. In this case, I roughly painted the shape of the cottage, let it dry and then very lightly brushed over the greeny blue colour of the water. Then, when that was dry, I applied some fine ripples in dryish white paint, to show the flow of the water. And all the time, I was wondering about who lived there. And I imagined being able to gaze out over that delicious view every morning, as I opened the curtains.

English Cottages in Watercolour

This white English cottage is beside a river, running through a beautiful valley. Watercolour in realistic style.
The House down by the River

And now for something completely different! In my opinion, this delicate watercolour in more realistic colours and detailed style contrasts well with the first painting. Obviously, the acrylic painting had dramatic, heightened colours and a fairly abstract brushstroke treatment. However, they are both English cottages near the water. Well, I painted this one while I was following a good tutorial hosted by Care Visions Healthy Aging group. Incidentally, I have done a few lessons with this group, including this girl on the beach here , a tribute to Joachim Sorolla. But, to return to my watercolour, here I tried to include realistic detail (not my usual style, but good practice).

Closeup of the House by the River

Although my brushstrokes are only suggestions, I have shown quite a lot of detail in the shutters, the garden shrubs and the gate. Again, what an idyllic, peaceful place to live! So, there’s some more virtual travelling for us, and I hope you enjoyed it!

If you want to see a more humble style of cottage, have a look at this post here. Then you’ll see the miner dressed in his Sunday best too!

In the Hot, Dry Desert

In the hot, dry desert, an old shack in the afternoon heat.
In the Outback

Good morning everyone. Well, I must admit that I was quite pleased with the way I painted this acrylic of the hot, dry desert. As you might know, it is another of the projects in the Learn to Paint Academy course I am following. And the photo was taken by Rod Moore (our tutor) when he took a trip into the outback. Apparently, the temperature was rising to 44° on that particular afternoon! So, it really is a good job that I don’t live in Australia. Because I would just melt into a small puddle!

Home in the Hot, Dry Desert.

Closeup of “In the Outback

As I hope you can see, the heat was positively bouncing off the corrugated iron roof. And this derelict old house with chimney, stove and veranda must have provided a refuge from the heat for someone. Actually, I enjoyed painting this scene- it was something different for me, living as I do in rainy Britain. In fact, trying to put some perspective in that expanse of sand was quite a challenge. And when I added the dense areas of shade around the house it was very satisfying.

A Camel – Ship of the Desert?

A Camel waiting for tourists in the Egyptian desert, next to a pyramid. In gouache.
Ship of the desert – photo by Jose Ignacio Pompe on Unsplash

Now, quite by chance, I painted this in gouache paint a couple of weeks ago for my Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. As the theme for the month was Egypt, I chose a photo of a camel and the handler. And they were waiting for tourists who, after a tour of the pyramid site, were eager for a ride into the hot, dry desert.

Obviously, I cropped the photo right down to get a quirky view of the animal. And then, just to complicate matters, I set myself the challenge of painting in an abstract style. To explain, I would treat each shape as a separate block of colour and texture. And, hopefully, I would not distort the sense of the image too much. Just an artistic experiment!

Have a look at this post here to see a different type of desert – “Drylands” , more of a science fiction scene, really.

Looking at the Great Dufy

My study of an abstract painting by the great Dufy.  Showing boats jumbled up in a Mediterranean harbour, with sizzling colours.
My study of Raoul Dufy’s “Boats at Martigues”

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you the study I made of a superb painting by the great Dufy. Actually, I did this while following a good online tutorial run by Art Enthusiasts London. Perhaps you remember my post about making a study of a Paul Klee abstract composition with the same tutor (see here ).

Unfortunately I haven’t got a lot of background about this painting. Raoul Dufy, 1877- 1953, was well known for his colourful paintings, influenced by Matisse, Cezanne and Monet. And I have long admired his bright, elegant scenes of smart seaside resorts in early 20th century France. Obviously here you can see a jumble of boats in the harbour- maybe on the Mediterranean coast.

The S Shaped Composition of the Great Dufy

Just look at how Dufy has simplified the shapes into ovals and straight lines. And then arranged them into a reverse S shaped composition, starting from bottom right and including all the boats. Masterly!

However, we also concentrated on the juxtaposition of the glorious colours the artist decided to use. No doubt they were inspired by the actual real details he could see at the quayside. But he then arranged them for maximum effect on the canvas. For example, he used complimentary colours green and red, blue and orange to make really sizzling combinations. As you can imagine, I found this exercise perfect for me – I don’t call my art activities ‘A World of Colour’ for nothing!

My Dufy Inspired Acrylic Abstract

My abstract composition,  possibly hinting at a coastal scene. Using colours and structure inspired by the great Dufy.
Coastline

To tell you the truth, I was so inspired that I straight away (well next day anyway) started do an intuitive abstract . I had a print-out of the original in front of me for colour reference. And then I just let my hand paint away. But that was stage one. Then came two more sessions adding and subtracting material, balancing shapes and colours. Until the picture said ” I’m finished “. What a satisfying experience!

I hope you like my little tribute to Dufy. And you can see more abstracts in my Gallery here. All my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page here and use the form to email me.

Rainy Day Painting in Acrylic

A dreamy, misty view through the trees to the hills on a rainy day .
Rainy Day

Good morning everyone. I thought I should show you this rainy day painting today. Because it’s part of the online course I’m following and I have painted a couple since this! Anyway, the challenge in this simple scene is how to make all the different shades of green make sense. In fact, our tutor Rod Moore helped us through this by reminding us of the principles of colour perspective.That is, colours in the distance become cooler in the sense that there is more blue in the mix. In practice, the greens further away are greeny blue and those in the foreground are yellowy blue. To be honest, it’s actually much more tricky than it sounds and it involves a lot of careful colour mixing.

The Greens in the Foreground

Rainy Day – a closeup of the foreground grasses

The second big challenge in this acrylic painting is how to convey the idea of rain and dampness in the air. Well, I tried to blur the colours and shapes by using some indistinct brush strokes. But, if you go too far with this, you’re in danger of losing too much detail. And then the scene just looks confusing. So, although the features in the composition are relatively simple (trees, distant hills and a path) it wasn’t easy!

The Distant Hills in my Rainy Day Painting

A close up of the line of hills in the mist of a rainy day.
Rainy Day – a closeup of the hills and the mist

Finally, I hope you can see in this closeup how I indicated damp, misty conditions. In order to do this I brought the pale sky colour over the line of the wooded hills. And this really helped with the illusion of misty dampness I was trying to create. In effect, this is the only view of Australia in the rain that we have painted on the course. For example, take a look at this sun drenched scene here that I painted a few weeks ago.

My Abstract Impression of English Rain

Raindrops on the Window

See this post here for the story behind this picture!

Mood and Atmosphere in Abstracts

An abstract composition,  reminiscent of a bright woodland scene with a paved path to follow. A cheerful mood and atmosphere.
Down the Path

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to talk about mood and atmosphere in intuitive abstracts. And, just to make it clear, by intuitive this is what I mean. Simply that I sit down to paint a smallish abstract work in my art journal. And I don’t have any idea about the colours and shapes I’m going to use in the composition. In other words, I work instinctively. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean to say that I am not influenced by what’s happening around me.

Also, I notice more and more often that I unconsciously choose colours and sometimes styles that I may have admired in other artist’s work. In addition I seem to include the contrasts and textures I have noticed in the natural world. But, as I said before, none of this is by deliberate choice.

Bright Mood and Atmosphere

In this little piece, I think my mood must have been upbeat. Because I went for cheerful yellow and glimpses of blue sky. Then trees and branches popped up so I went with the idea of a forest, one of my favourite motifs, actually. And, although I worked on this by rotating it round all four ways, the path was clearly obvious. So I guess my subconscious was showing me that there’s still a way to go. So, keep on keeping on!

Cheerful Optimism and Determination?

A close up of the paved path, stretching out before you, leading to the sun.
The Path

Incidentally, I wonder if this scene makes you feel the same as me? Because, of course, I have only discussed the intention and reaction of the artist. However, the reaction of the viewer is also very important. And, with a loose work like this, you can interpret it any way you like. I am sometimes quite fascinated when I talk to friends who visit my exhibitions. Naturally, at the moment this is not possible in the real world. Thank goodness I can show you my work virtually like this! And, we have all got to walk down that path a little bit further yet. Stay well.

If you want to see more of my little intuitive abstracts in mixed media, see this post here.

Little Hand Painted Cards or Prints?

Two blooms on a gold background,  one of my hand painted cards.
Blue Flower Card

Good morning everyone. Today I thought I’d show you two little hand painted cards I made a couple of weeks ago. Well I had been looking at YouTube and thought I could try it out. The flower is just intuitively painted, but the challenge for me was the tiny size of the paper. In fact, only three and a half inches by five. And that’s tiny for me! Also, the other technique I tried out here was to put down the background first, something I never do. Actually, there’s gold paint on here too, to give the whole thing a bit of sparkle. But, you maybe can’t pick that out on the screen.

The sunflower, another of my hand painted cards.

A bold, graphic sunflower on a dreamy, blue and white background.  One of my hand painted cards.
The Sunflower Card

To be honest, I love painting flowers, especially the ones I pick from my own garden – see here . But I made this one up – not something I do often, because my visual imagination is quite poor.

Any way, I practised laying down a background first and this one was in watercolour wash with a subtle design in white pen. If I remember correctly, the flower itself was in acrylic. To tell you the truth, often when I’m doing mixed media, I grab anything on my workspace. It all gets added to the mix, then I forget what I used!

The Printed Card

Looking down on a fish pond, just catching a glimpse of several fish rising to the top. One of my printed cards.
The Fish Pond

Finally, do you prefer the hand painted cards or the print? This is one I had printed last year from an acrylic painting of carp rising to the surface of the water to be fed. Actually, my intention was to try to show the bodies of the fish covered by a thin film of water. As I recall, the theme of our Art Society project was ‘Under Water’. Undoubtedly, the cards made by hand are more special, but I have found that people also really appreciate a print. Fortunately, you don’t have to make your mind up. Because you can just do both!

Happy Monday!

If you want to see more flowers, have a look at my gallery here . And, don’t forget, if you find anything you like, go to the Contact Me page on the menu and send me an email. Because, everything is for sale at reasonable prices!

Through the Window- Urban Sketching

A view over terraced houses with a glorious red, pink and orange sunrise - through the window. Felt tip pen.
Sunrise

Good morning everyone. Last week we had a really spectacular sunrise and this is my urban sketch, done through the window. Honestly, I think it was the most amazing sunrise sky I have ever seen. So, for quite a short period of time the red, gold and pink in the intense turquoise blue sky were glorious. What a beautiful planet we live on.

Actually I had just treated myself to a pack of cheap felt tip pens the day before. And I was very keen to try them out, especially as there were more colours in this selection. Normally I buy only the basics and try to blend them. But, having several shades of, for example, red, orange and yellow was much easier! And I used a very scribbly technique, similar to ones I’ve seen on Instagram.

Urban Sketching Postponed.

As you may know, I am a member of the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire but, obviously, our activities have been cut short by the pandemic. And I really miss the opportunity to go out into towns and cities with a group of art buddies. I seem to remember a lovely morning sketching on a high balcony above some market stalls. And the building itself is very interesting too – an ornate Victorian Market Hall in Leeds, UK. Left to my own devices I would always sketch in the countryside, as I did here in the country park . Therefore the urban sketchcrawls give me the encouragement to sketch buildings, churches, markets and streets.

Urban Sketching Through the Car Window

A quick watercolour sketch through the window of my car, parked in the supermarket carpark
Supermarket Carpark 2

As you can probably tell, I sketched this in watercolour (about 20 minutes) in a very cold car. Well, you can have a good laugh at the cars, if you like!. But, in my own defence, I always avoid drawing them. So I think it was a brave first attempt to have them so prominent in this drawing. By the way, the weather here in the UK is quite cold and, of course all cafes are closed. So, any urban sketching outdoors has to be very brief or through the window!

The Church through the Museum Window

St. Mary’s – a sketch from an Urban Sketchers Yorkshire trip 15 months ago.

Mountain Studies in Acrylic

Good morning everyone. This is the first of a little series of studies from the online course I’m enrolled on. Actually, I’ve been wanting to paint these mountain studies for a while, but my other projects kept getting in the way! For example, here is the post on dogs for my MeWe gouache group . And here is my work on old masters with Care Visions Healthy Aging . Incidentally these classes are free. So you can see I have been busy!

Mountain Studies

Four studies of mountain landscapes

Here is the full sheet of small studies from a module in the course covering landscape features. And, you might remember that I have already completed the sections on skies and trees. Incidentally, I must say that this is a very useful exercise even though I don’t enjoy doing it as much as painting a whole picture.

A simple mountain view, showing ranges of peaks, in tones of blue.
Mountain Ranges

We began with a vista of mountain ranges unfolding increasingly nearer to the viewer. Admittedly, the acrylic sketch is pretty basic. But the main teaching point was to show aerial perspective by using darker and lighter tones . This makes the faraway peaks look distant and the nearer ones look close. Easy peasy ( when someone explains it to you! )

Mountains with grassy slope in foreground

If you look closely, you can see that I have tried to show how the background hills recede.But the grassy slope although nearer is still a good distance away. In fact, I indicated this by the cool tones of the green. I need more practice here, I think! Please try not to get too distracted by the poor quality paper. ( Note to self : Use the best. )

Alpine Mountain Studies in Acrylic

Snow capped Alpine peaks in blue and white - one of my mountain studies.
Alpine Peaks

Now, this was the fun part! To be honest, I had never tried to paint high peaks and had thought it was too difficult. However, I’m quite pleased with this attempt. And I learnt how to describe form using a dark tone for deep shadow, a dull blue white for the shady side of the snow. And, finally, a brilliant white for the sunlit peaks.

The Rocky Outcrop

A lovely Australian landscape showing a rocky outcrop of red stone - one of my mountain studies.
The Crags

Lastly, a lovely scene of a rocky outcrop, in an Australian landscape where the rock is a strong red colour. Actually, the crags were the challenge in this study and I achieved them using a dragging motion of the brush. And then I modelled them with lighter and darker tones of the sandstone colour.

As you can see, I did learn a lot in this section and I do really appreciate the tutor – Rod Moore of the Learn to Paint Academy. So much so that I was exhausted after it and had to have a rest! Now, back to painting whole landscapes.

Studying Old Masters – Acrylic Painting

A Study by me of “A Small Rhythmic Landscape by Paul Klee

Good morning everyone. Over the years I have done my fair share of studying old masters, in paint and pencil. In fact, I have always considered it a very useful exercise. And you can learn quite a lot by trying to recreate some of the effects produced by the artist. Actually, this seems to work whether you use the same materials or not. For example the type of paint e.g oils or acrylic, or support (canvas or paper) and so on. In my opinion, there’s always something to be gained by looking closely at the composition, choice of colours and the actual brushstrokes.

And, in my experience, it doesn’t matter which stage you are at in your painting journey. But, the key point is to approach the exercise with the intention to learn . And not to put too much pressure on yourself to paint an exact copy. But it is more enjoyable all round if you choose an artist you admire, or even love! Ok, I confess, I’ve got quite a few ‘ Van Gogh’s ‘ in the archive!

Studying Old Masters – Joachin Sorolla

A study by me of a joyful, bright abstract landscape by Paul Klee with hills, trees and flowers. Studying old masters.
A study by me of ‘ Lowtide – Elena at Biarritz ‘ by Joaquin Sorolla

Well, this is the study I painted in acrylics a few days ago whilst following an online tutorial. Actually, see here for my post on a John Sell Cotman study I completed with this same tutor. To be honest, I’m very fond of this Spanish artist, Joaquin Sorolla, and he is very well-known for painting light. As you can see, I attempted to show the glare of the hot summer sun at the beach. In particular, the extremely subtle play of light on the white cotton material of the young girl’s dress. Admittedly, not an easy task, but it really made me practise mixing slight shifts in tone. And, I will need to improve this skill if I want to progress in my painting. In effect, this is the value in studying old masters.

My Study of Paul Klee’s Abstract Landscape

A study by me of ‘ A Small Rhythmic Landscape ‘ by Paul Klee

Finally, I’d like to show you my study of a fab abstract landscape by Paul Klee. He was a Swiss artist who taught at the famous Bauhaus school of art and design. And I love everything he painted! In order to recreate this work in the class I followed online, we first laid down the grid of lines . As you might imagine, these represent the contours and field boundaries of the land. Then came the fun part. First of all, a soft , hazy background of light brown. Then we treated each section separately using a limited palette of yellow ochre, cobalt blue, crimson, black and white. And the finishing touches were the ‘lollipop’ trees and the tiny flowers.

To sum up, whilst working on this piece, I concentrated on choosing harmonious combinations of the colours obtained from the limited palette. Also, I had to think very carefully about the placement of the features in this tightly controlled composition. If you want to see some of my much less tightly controlled abstracts, see this post here. But, I just love studying like this – an unexpected bonus of having lots of free time at the moment.

More Dog Portraits – Gouache and Acrylic

A South American bush dog, forelegs on a fallen tree in the forest. On lookout.
A Bush Dog in the Forest

Good morning everyone. This strange creature is a bush dog, found in South America. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it either. But I was researching ” Canines ” for a challenge we had been set in my Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. And I found this fab photo by Gaynor Lewis – thank you Gaynor! In fact, I rarely paint dog portraits but I do enjoy it when I do. Anyway, this member of the canine family has a bear shaped head and webbed feet. As you might expect, they hunt in packs, but, more unusually, they ambush their prey in rivers and streams.

A Bush Dog, a Close up.

Obviously, I did my little painting for the group in gouache paint. Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of work in acrylic lately for another one of my art projects. ( See here for my latest Australian landscape). But , I soon got into the swing of it and I really love the almost chalky textural marks you can create. In addition, this seems tailor made for the rough coat of a wild dog with all the gradations of colour.

One of my Acrylic Dog Portraits

A big, strong dog in the snow. A head and shoulders pose - one of my dog portraits
A Dog in the Snow.

Finally, I couldn’t finish this post without showing you one of the dog portraits that I did a couple of years ago with my tutor. Unfortunately, this group was disbanded but, nothing lasts for ever and I was lucky enough to learn such a lot with this teacher. This is acrylic paint and it’s much easier to work with than gouache. For instance, I could have as many attempts as I liked to portray the shaggy coat! The tilt of the head was a challenge, but Simon helped me to make a reasonable job of the nose and the tongue advancing out of the picture. Happy days – painting all day long with good company and a great teacher!

If you missed my other post on painting dogs, see here

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Through the Trees – Recent Paintings

An acrylic painting of a warm, sunny landscape  - through the trees, looking at the light of the sun.
Afternoon Sunlight

Good morning everyone. Yesterday I was having a look at all the paintings I’ve been doing since last March. And I noticed that quite a few of them feature light shining through the trees. For example, the image above is my latest acrylic done for the online course I’m following. To tell you the truth, I just love the way the shadow of the trees is laid down in stripes with the rays of the late afternoon sun.

Cheerful

In contrast, I did this intuitive abstract in mixed media back in March. You see, that was when our first lockdown started in the UK and things seemed very black. Actually, this was one of the earliest pages I completed in the journal I started. And this really did help me through. As you can see, I instinctively went for a sunlit view through the trees. Nothing was planned beforehand and afterwards I even wrote the word ” cheerful ” on the page to reinforce the optimistic message.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel, Through the Trees

A story picture.  A figure looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel, through the trees in a primeval forest.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel

And finally, I painted this acrylic canvas last April, when we were beginning to talk hopefully about vaccines . In fact, this was the third piece in a triptych telling the story of how the world has been altered by the human race – see this post here if this interests you. ( I subsequently added another two chapters to this story to give it a really happy ending! ) And, I must say, I have continued to paint around the subject of light shining through trees right up until now. But, I’ll save that for another post!

All of my work is for sale. So, if you like what you see, have a look in my Gallery page, and then go to the Contact page to have a chat (by email).

Three Mixed Media Abstracts from my Artjournal

A jumble of sharp, jagged shapes and urgent flashes of red - a mixed media abstract showing anxiety and fear.
Jagged

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you the work I’ve been doing in my art journal – some mixed media abstracts. Actually, I’ve continued using this journal since last March, when our first period of lockdown began. To be honest, I turn to it when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. As you can see in the image above, this intuitive abstract composition is quite dark and sombre looking. And there are some spiky shapes and touches of bright red to indicate danger. In fact, I used gouache paint, pencil and pen, and afterwards I felt much better!

An Experimental Mixed Media Abstract

Yellow and Grey

This drawing above is a good example of how I also use my journal to experiment with different techniques. As you can see, here I limited myself to lemon yellow and medium grey. Because I wanted to create a piece for a challenge in the Triwing Challenge group on Mewe. In truth, I would probably never have chosen this combination of colours. But it was very enjoyable and concentrated my mind on texture. You see, I had seen some fab work online with really densely applied layers. And, I used pencil, marker and oil pastel in this drawing. There’s a great freedom in scribbling in a journal. In addition, it’s therapeutic too!

A compact,crowded abstract composition of organic shapes in orange, yellow and dark green.
New Style Abstract

Finally, I’m quite proud of this little painting/ drawing. For, I tried a new style – a composition centred in the middle of the paper, with lots of white paper showing. Obviously, it’s quite different to my usual style which completely covers the space on the paper. And I tried adding graphic marks on top of acrylic paint with markers and biros. Watch out, I feel a series of mixed media abstracts coming on!

If you would like to see more Lockdown Artjournal experiments, see here and here.

Painting in Monochrome in Acrylic and Watercolour

Sunday Best

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you some of the monochrome paintings I have done. To be honest, I haven’t actually done a lot of painting in monochrome. But I have done loads of drawings in pencil and charcoal and some of the principles are the same. Just to be clear, monochrome means using one colour only. However, you can create all the different tones of colour to create form and perspective. Of course, this is done by adding water to watercolour and white paint to acrylic to make the original colour progressively lighter. ( I’m sure some of you know this already!)

Painting in Monochrome – a Welsh Valley

A watercolour painting in sepia tones. A beautiful, tranquil landscape of brooding Welsh hills, the valley and the river. After John Sell Cotman.
A Valley in Wales, after John Sell Cotman

Well, this is a watercolour exercise I painted this week , following an online tutorial. We were advised to use sepia coloured paint or ink. But the artist himself used black ink, back in the 19th century and it has since faded to a pleasing soft brown . In fact, I mixed burnt umber and ultramarine blue to create a faded sepia look . As we were doing a study of this master’s work, we gridded up the page to copy the composition. Incidentally, this simple scene is really quite complex!

A close up of the bridge and the cattle

The different tones of the hills and trees were carefully mixed , copying the artistic decisions of the artist. Actually, I really enjoyed the experience but I must just mention how much I struggled with the paper – supposedly a good quality one . But I found that the colour wouldn’t lift off at all and also , it ran down in strange vertical lines! And now the painting pad has been firmly placed in the ‘scrap paper’ pile!

A Nostalgia Painting in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in monochrome, faded tones of brown. A man standing proudly outside his cottage in his Sunday best clothes.
Sunday Best

Finally, here’s one from the archives, inspired by an old photo from a local mining museum. This worker stands proudly outside his humble cottage in his Sunday best clothes. As you can imagine, I was well inside my comfort zone with this acrylic painting, making all my own artistic decisions . And, I’m pleased to say that this nostalgic painting went to a new home last year. But, of course, I have plenty more artwork for sale in my gallery here

Painting Dogs in Gouache and Acrylic Paint.

Painting Dogs  - a gouache portrait of a South African wild dog. His coat is patterned with irregular splotches of colour,  good camouflage in the grassland.
A Wild Dog – photo by Moragh Dann

Hello everyone. This is my attempt at a wild dog in South Africa . To be honest, I haven’t really spent much time painting dogs and so, I don’t have a good idea about how the body fits together. Therefore, I was very reliant on the photo, taken by Moragh Dann. Moragh tells us that these dogs are very shy and rarely seen. Also, they are on the endangered species list, so that makes encounters like this all the more precious.

Wild Dog

Firstly, I started off with a detailed pencil drawing, not something that I do often. But, I have found that since joining the Beginner Gouache Group on Mewe, I find myself working a lot more carefully. And I think the paintings are much more like illustrations too.Just to explain, our theme this month is ‘Canines’, so I was really taken with this photo.

Actually, I have been working a lot on acrylic paintings for my online course with Rod Moore (see here ) . So, coming back to gouache paint required a shift in method. The gouache paint doesn’t really dry like acrylic. Consequently, you have to use a much lighter touch when applying layers of paint so that the layer underneath doesn’t rewet. Because then it would blend in with the new layer and create a lovely mud colour!

Painting Dogs- the Face

Painting Dogs – the Face

In my opinion, this is the tricky bit. Well, you can get along ok with the ears and eyes, if you have a good photo ( which I did ). But when it comes to the muzzle, it’s quite difficult to show that the nose and mouth jut forward. Happily, at this point I did remember my classes with a tutor a few years back. And I managed to indicate a bit of foreshortening with subtle brush strokes. Hopefully, I captured a little bit of the proud, alert stance of the dog. After that, I tried to sort out the tangle of limbs in this seated pose. And, the most straight forward element of the scene – the blurry, parched grassland was soon sketched in with soft sandy colours.

A Dog in the Snow – Acrylic Paint.

Painting dogs - an acrylic portrait of a young husky dog with a thick winter coat, waiting in the snow for the off.
A Young Husky Dog

And now, for something completely different! With reference to the art classes I mentioned earlier, I painted this snow scene a few years ago. As you may be able to tell, this is painted in my favourite medium, acrylic paint. It’s much more forgiving and will allow as many revisions as necessary. In fact, I do remember enjoying the process of layering on the texture of the animal’s fur and the deep snow. But, I shall still continue to experiment with gouache, because I love a challenge! If you want to have a little look at the work I have done in gouache paint, see here .

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.

The Quiet Stream – an Acrylic Painting

An acrylic painting of a New Zealand  landscape - The Quiet Stream.
A Quiet Stream

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful and full of possibilities for us all. To be honest, I don’t usually bother with resolutions. But I do intend to work hard this year studying on the online course in acrylic painting that I’m following. And this painting is one of the pieces I just completed – A Quiet Stream. But before I talk about this in detail. I’ll show you some of the studies I painted with the Moore Method of Painting.

Tree Studies

A study of eucalyptus trees in full summer leaf , as later painted in my The Quiet Stream picture.
Tree Study – Eucalyptus

Hopefully, you can see some of the detail on this. To explain, here I concentrated on giving 3d shape to the clusters of leaves and the trunks by using tones. That is, dark, medium and light shades of green.

Tree Study – Pine, Cypress and Willow

In this study, I used a fan brush for the first time. You see, I created the pine and cypress branches by holding the brush so that only the top part of one edge was touching the paper. And, yes, I found that as hard to do as it sounds! Well, for me anyway! Admittedly, it does give a very feathery effect that you couldn’t really produce with a plain brush.

A study in acrylic paint - birch trees in winter with traces of snow on the trunks.
Tree Study – Birch

Happily, I was more in my comfort zone with this one. Because I have more visual memories of winter trees, and touches of snow. And, sometimes, I feel a bit more challenged with the Australian landscape subjects that our tutor Rod Moore demonstrates so well. However, I did experiment in this study with using the edge of a square shaped palette knife to lay down the lighter marks on the tree trunks. Perhaps I might try this technique on another painting. ( I applied the dark green background simply to show off the effect of the white markings.)

Tree Study – Palms

In this last study, I used the fan brush again, this time to create the fronds of long thin leaves that make up the foliage. Well, I tried, but I definitely need more practice!

A New Zealand Landscape

The Quiet Stream

Actually, I am pleased with this acrylic painting and , I think I did a reasonable job of bringing to life this quiet stream, meandering through a little valley in my friend’s photo of New Zealand. In fact, the teaching in the demonstrations must have stayed in my mind and resurfaced in the techniques I used here.

Painting Techniques I have used in The Quiet Stream

For example, if you saw my post on painting a waterlily pond here , that’s where I learned how to convey the idea of reflections and paint credible looking leaves floating on the surface. In addition, the teaching about adjusting the tones of the greens in the trees to suggest recession (distance ) gave me more confidence. Have a look at this post here for more examples. Of course this task is made easier by keeping to a restricted palette, as my teacher suggests. All this benefit, plus , it’s fun too! For your information, I shall do regular updates on my journey through this programme of study. And , if that doesn’t help me to stick to my New Year’s resolution, I don’t know what will!

My Natural Style Christmas Decorations

A gouache painting, showing a Christmas wreath , natural style. Hanging on a garden gate
Christmas Wreath

Hello everyone. I hope you have had a peaceful few days. Before the season is over, I’d like to show you this little gouache painting in my artjournal, a natural style of Christmas decoration. To be honest, I chose this subject in response to the challenge ‘ Christmas at Home ‘. It was set to inspire us in our Beginner Gouache Group on Mewe. And, I think it is a really good subject to explore. Especially now, of course, when some people can’t get home or see the ones they want to.

Anyway, this little illustration took far longer then I expected to complete, considering that it is only 8 inch square. But, I think it is really good that I try different styles of painting and drawing – it gets me out of my comfort zone. And it can also be surprisingly enjoyable.

Christmas Tree – Natural Style

Christmas Tree – Natural Style.

Actually, I painted this gloriously impressive tree from life, whilst sitting in the beautifully decorated Ballroom at Cannon Hall, a nearby stately home. However, I don’t think that my on the spot watercolour really captures the full effect of the tree. It must have been at least 18 foot tall! Personally, I adore real life fir trees and we always have one in the house ( about 6 feet tall ). It really makes Christmas for me. And, I also choose a very simple, natural style wreath, made of fir or holly, with just a simple ribbon bow. In fact, a lot of the decorations in my house are painted wood and ceramic,textile, my own festive paintings, flowers and plants plus candles – quite simple and natural.

A photo of a twig garland decorated in natural style with holly, fir ,slices of dried lime and white wooden stars.

We went for a walk before Christmas in the formal garden of Nostell Priory, another big house nearby. And to my delight, as we walked away from the lake towards the Menagerie Garden, we caught sight of the natural style decorations in the trees. And they were beautifully made by a local artist, using twigs, pinecones, twine and holly. As you might imagine, I felt quite inspired. Something to bear in mind for next Christmas! Click here to see some of my festive paintings from last year.

Christmas Robin in Oil Pastel

Christmas Robin

Well, folks, it’s nearly here, so I thought I’d show you my Christmas Robin. In fact, this is the second version and I did enter them both into the Birdmas challenge. It was hosted by the Triwing Art Challenge blog on Mewe. Honestly, the artwork presented for this fun project was first class – Draw Twelve Birds for Christmas. And, I’m pleased to report that I did complete it in twelve days, running from December 1st till Dec 12th!

Robin in a Thorn Tree

So, here’s version one- a quick watercolour sketch in my art journal. And the super photo I used for inspiration was taken in my daughter in law’s garden. You see, she loves feeding the birds who visit and some of them become quite tame, like this lovely little Christmas robin.

The Abstracted Version of my Christmas Robin.

A Christmas robin,  drawn in oil pastel,  perching on a little branch in a thorn tree.
The Christmas Robin

After I had drawn a couple of straight up, realistic birds, I suddenly felt that I wanted to branch out a bit and use my imagination a bit more. So I drew this alternative version, and really enjoyed myself! Because I chose oil pastels from the very first sketch , I knew the lines would be a bit unpredictable. But, that’s ok – I really did want to create a loose drawing. So, this is my Christmas card to you – have a good one, in the circumstances, that is .

The Crazy Bird

A quick sketch in acrylic  marker.  Drawn from my imagination,  a bird in green and red feathers with a crest on its head, to keep my Christmas Robin company.
The Crazy Bird

Finally, here is my ten minute, acrylic marker crazy bird, created purely to cheer us all up! If you want to see more of the birds I painted for the challenge, see here and here.