Good morning everyone. A few weeks back I went out for the day with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. And we went sketching in the industrial museum at Kelham Island in Sheffield, UK. Actually, the name is slightly misleading because it is an old preserved industrial area in the city centre. Because it is alongside the River Don and some of the water is diverted to power a mill, a small area becomes an island! Now, as well as the museum in an old electricity generating station for city trams, there lots of lovely buildings. To be honest, they are now blocks of flats and pubs and so on. But still beautifully restored and picturesque.
This is an old drawing on display in Kelham Island Industrial Museum. And it shows the sort of work which was carried out in the small shops typical of the area. For example, making tools, in this case metal files. So, I spent an hour or two wandering around the interesting exhibits, looking for inspiration. As I am at present painting industrial subjects for our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition, see this post here.
Anyway, this is a quick pencil abstract I did later, after spending some time making working drawings in a workshop. In fact, it was an enterprise where the men cut out shapes from sheets of steel, for machinery parts. However, I’m still gathering ideas for a finished painting for our show. If you keep reading this blog I’ll post as soon as it’s finished.
Good morning everyone. This is my new show. And I was delighted to see my five part series ‘ The Progress of Mankind’ displayed at Urban Commune gallery in Wakefield. In fact, I had dreamed of seeing it like this all through the pandemic when I painted it. Of course, I didn’t see it as a story when I painted the first piece ‘Paradise’.
As I painted this intuitive abstract, I realised it was an attempt to portray an idyllic world, completely unspoiled by man. If you look closely, you can spot hints of a bird, an insect, foliage and flowers.
Maybe this piece needs no explanation, it’s a scene of pollution and destruction on an overheated planet. Perhaps you can feel the heat from the monstrous red sun and smell the toxic smoke.
Flying Away in my New Show
Actually, I created this acrylic painting ‘Free Spirit’ out of my subconscious. Because I finished it completely and then afterwards understood its significance. If I can explain, I painted my dream of floating away from all the worry and trouble, just like a kite in the sky.
Now this one is the only one of the series that was partly planned. Really a bit later on when we were aware of vaccines being developed. So I thought of a painting trying to show the feeling of seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. And I decided to use the figure of a young man to represent the human race, naked and vulnerable.
Finally, the last part of my story of my new show – Connections and it’s all about family and friends. Because, this is what I learned during the pandemic, the importance of connections with people. In effect, I painted this without a plan. And, I see here an abstract portrait of me and my nearest and dearest. So, that’s how this work came about and what it means to me. If you like, you could see more of my Story Pictures here.
Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you how I have been painting big pictures in small sketchbooks. Well, they are fairly small, 7 by 5 inches but the pictures I try to cram into them are definitely big! Actually, it seems to be a habit I can’t break. Whenever I pick up a small sketchbook, either sketching outside or from a photo, I paint everything! That is to say, I’m not very good at zooming in and choosing a small, neat subject.
However, I do prefer to finish the painting in one session en plein air, or quite quickly if I’m at home. Of course, this is do-able with a little piece of paper. And it’s also less daunting if I’m short of time and feel a desperate need to create! If you want to see another dryland painting, see here.
Anyway, I have upgraded my watercolour paper now. In addition, I have learned to keep my paints more moist. So, now I’ll turn my attention to my worn out, scrubby brushes. Then, I’ll not be able to blame my tools any more!
Finally, this is one of two folding sketchbooks that my friend gave me (the other one is even tinier!). So, now I will be able to do more painting big pictures in small sketchbooks!
I do paint bigger pictures too, and they are all for sale! See more landscapes in my gallery here. And email me for more details.
Good morning everyone. I’d love to show you my new mini exhibition at the Urban Commune Gallery in Wakefield, UK, seehere . Well, it’s a small exhibition really over two panels in this gorgeous new Gallery, but it feels a lot bigger!
Actually, the commune was founded by a group of artists for the purpose of encouraging creativity in the community. And also to provide a place for local artists to show their work. In addition, they are partnered with the charity Uthink, dedicated to supporting young people in poverty. What a brilliant idea! So, I had to be a part of this and I booked some space for my new mini exhibition.
By the way, it didn’t take us long to set up. Then it was time for a cup of coffee and a look around at all the fab work on the walls and on the shelves. And chat with the artist volunteers who make all this possible.
Perhaps you have seen some of this work before, if you read my blog. So, I’ll just feature this one – take a closer look at my watercolour portrait of a valley in the Yorkshire Dales
Anyway, that’s all about this show, but I’m preparing another in this gallery. And I think it will look good, displayed the way I’ve dreamed of, so, watch this space! If you want to see more of my landscape paintings, have a look at my gallery here.
Good morning everyone. It’s that time of year when dedicated artists draw in ink, guided by a list of suggested prompts, Inktober. But after feeling too much pressure to keep up last year, I decided to do Not Inktober! Actually, I was missing doing small, sometimes silly drawings, where I could play! So, I invented Not Inktober, that is, draw when you like and what you like. And then choose a title.
Of of course, this last one doesn’t need any explanation, I think! However, when I was researching for this post, I found out that there is a challenge called Inktober 52, see here . Perhaps this is worth thinking about too – making a more developed sketch over a week, different prompts. And taking the whole year to take part.
Well. this is the last of my Not Inktober sketches ( there may be more!). Perhaps you would be interested to know that I did this one after a great day out with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. In fact, we went to Kelham Island Industrial Museum and I found it very inspiring. But the best bit is that I’ve now got loads of ideas for an Industry project. Maybe you remember our Northern Fringe Gallery group of artists exhibition on this theme. It’s an ongoing project, so I have plenty of time to create an abstract composition based on this drawing. Anyway, I shall still find time to do small, quirky sketches too as it is so enjoyable. If you want to look back at my Inktober efforts last year, look here.
Good morning everyone. I have felt so inspired lately by the beautiful colours of autumn and I wanted to show you my latest gouache painting. Actually, we were working on the theme of The Colours of Autumn at Art Society this week. So, I decided to do an impressionistic design of leaves drifting to the ground, whilst still keeping their glorious colours. Of course, these colours only last a short while, so, enjoy them while you can. Perhaps you can tell that this little painting is in gouache. Because the creamy texture and soft blending are typical of this medium. Incidentally, can you spot the gold-coloured paint on the two brown leaves? If you would like to see the very. very simple, short video I made about this painting, look here.
Maybe you have seen this plein air watercolour before? In fact, I painted this whilst sitting in my son’s garden last year. And, I particularly wanted to capture the vibrant copper leaves of the Virginia Creeper. Happy Days, sitting on the patio, painting, coffee and cake and good company! Or, here are some more of my happy memories from the year before. When we were admiring the colours of the pumpkin harvest in Wortley Hall gardens, in this post here .
Well, this is just a glimpse of an acrylic painting I started yesterday, based on a fabulous photo by Viktoria Stockmal from Landscape Reference Photos for Artists. And I’ll show you the progress as I go along, I haven’t painted in acrylic for a while. And I’m really enjoying being creative in this simply gorgeous season of the year.
Good morning everyone. I wanted to ask you a question – do you choose to paint in realistic or abstract style? Or, if you aren’t an artist yourself, which style do you prefer to look at and admire? Actually, this is what we were discussing last week at a ROAR artists meeting. Well, to be honest, it was a topic I introduced when it was my turn to show my artwork.
Perhaps it isn’t so obvious in these images. But this started off as an intuitive abstract and morphed into a seaside themed painting. However, in no way could it be called realistic.
Now this one was intended from the outset to be realistic, it’s an Australian landscape. If you read my blog you have probably seen me write about the course I’m following by tutor Rod Moore. And this is the result of one of his tutorials using his own photo. In fact, in addition to learning loads of useful stuff, I found my painting style was really tightening up. Of course, this wasn’t due to the excellent teaching at all. Just an outcome of concentrating very hard on accuracy of detail. Anyway, for me, this is an extremely realistic style .
So, realistic or abstract – which do you find yourself drawn to? Or, which do you spend most time painting? If you want see more of my abstract paintings, have a look at my gallery here – I’ve just updated it.
Good morning everyone. I’ve finished another of my small countryside scenes at last! Actually, I left this one lying around quite a while, it didn’t seem quite right. Thanks to Regina Shrively for the lovely reference photo, on this site here . In fact, I accentuated the red colour of the barn and put more sunshine into the weather. Just because I wanted to (artistic licence!). And I think it makes a very pleasing and colourful composition. Anyway, the most difficult bit was the sky, I still find this tricky with gouache. But, it’s fun to practise.
Next I’ll show you the latest of my countryside scenes, one from my Australian photo gallery, thanks to Rod Moore. To be honest, I really enjoy doing these dry landscape scenes. Although, this one looks pretty green and luscious. Actually, I’ve never been to Australia, so I feel a little unselfconfident. However, one or two visitors to my shows have said my paintings remind them of visits to that country. So, I can’t be too far off the mark. Anyway, I enjoyed painting the variations of colour of the bark on the tree. Also, the patches of sunlight on the path, but they are more realistic in real life than in this image.
Please have a look in my gallery if you like this. All my work is for sale at reasonable prices. For example, I’m letting The Red Barn go for £30 plus shipping , it’s 11 by 7 1/2 inches, on paper, unframed and without a mount.
Good morning everyone. At last I managed to buy a decent watercolour pad! And I just had to paint two small landscape paintings to try it out! To be honest, I discarded the first two attempts. Because I had literally forgotten how to use the paint on good paper Actually, the old paper was not cheap at all, and strangely poor quality for this paint. Anyway, after my little practice, I really enjoyed creating pools of colour, without any effort. The paper is delicious!
By the way, this is another of those small barns in the Yorkshire Dales. And this time I have painted a backdrop of sunlit hills. Perhaps you can smell the sweet scent of warm grass, like me.
Well, here is the second of my small landscape paintings, 9 by 7 ins. And, I’m definitely still experimenting here. But, I’m quite satisfied with it, especially because I put the composition together from a couple of photos and my imagination. And it’s a lovely colourful scene. However, I think I could improve on the scale and size of the flowers. In fact, that’s something I find tricky in a made-up scene like this. Of course, the only way to improve is practice, and, luckily, I enjoy painting so much, so, no problem!
By the way, all my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. So, go to the Contact Me page, if you see anything you like. And send me an email.
Good morning everyone. This is my latest addition to our Northern Fringe Gallery Industry exhibition which opened this week. As you may recall, we are at the Ridings shopping centre in Wakefield, UK. (See this post here ). To be honest, it was a low key opening at our own gallery. Because we are displaying the pictures as they are finished, on a sort of rolling programme. When we have received a decent amount of entries, we will look for a suitable gallery to exhibit.
The Winding Wheel – now in the Industry exhibition
This is my interpretation of an image of the machinery that powered the winding wheel at a local colliery, now closed. To be honest, I don’t know much about this. Except that the men went down the shaft to work in a lift operated by this machinery. And, I remember my dad telling me that they called the lift the cage! However, I felt inspired by the image itself. I perceived it as a powerful abstract image. And I painted the various bits of it as shapes, not really knowing what they were!
Finally, I will show you the last of my four paintings for our Industry exhibition – Spinning Jenny. Actually, I painted this for an art competition in an industrial town in the North of England a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the gallery didn’t accept it, but it’s perfect for our theme. Just to explain, I have interpreted an invention called Spinning Jenny in a rather fanciful way. And the real Spinning Jenny was a frame operated by one person to run four wool spinning wheels at once. In effect, the beginning of the mechanisation of the spinning industry. But, I reimagined the machine as a strong, capable working woman, still spinning over the North Pennines where it was invented.
As you might have noticed if you read my blog, I do love painting a story picture! Please look me up again to see what else I might come up with on this interesting theme.
Good morning everyone. This is your last chance to see my solo show in the cafe gallery at Darfield Museum! So I thought I would choose three of my personal favourites to spotlight. Firstly, A Castle in Portugal – and the way this one turned out really pleased me . As you might have noticed, it’s in gouache paint. And I love the texture and chalky quality to the paint. However, it does have its challenges and I’m working on it! To be honest, you have to develop a lightness of touch with the layers. Otherwise, if the top layer is a little bit too wet and you are heavy handed with the brush, the colours will merge.
Now this one I really enjoyed painted and I started it during our holiday in the Yorkshire Dales in July. If you don’t know the area, it’s a series of rivers running through pretty valleys. And this barn is in the vale of the River Swale and it’s a very typical scene. In fact, you can see these small barns almost in every field. Apparently, the tradition was to try and grow two crops of hay each season. And store it conveniently in the barn in the field, so that the farmer and the animals had easy access to the winter feed.
Last Chance to See Top Withens
Anyway, I am very fond of this one too. And, I’m very pleased to say that someone bought it! To be honest, I’m thrilled that someone really loved it enough to take it home. Particularly because it almost sold at another gallery, but mistakes were made. Unfortunately, that potential customer went home disappointed. However, now it will be hung somewhere where it will be appreciated, and that’s all I want. But, I will miss this large framed picture, it does remind so much of the brooding moors up near Haworth. If you want to know the story, read this post here. So, tomorrow really is your last chance to see this show!
Good morning everyone. This is the quick watercolour sketch I did in St. Mary’s church, last weekend on Open Heritage Day. Actually, the event lasts for two weeks and it’s great to have the opportunity to visit buildings that are usually closed. For example, last year we went in the very impressive National Union of Mineworkers Headquarters. Of course, St Mary’s is open several times a week. But it was lovely to be welcomed into this beautiful space by the volunteers and the vicar.
Anyway, I chose this view to sketch, as I wanted to show the tall pillars of white stone. They are so tall that they make the massive door look small!
Next I felt inspired to try and include some of the patterns and colours that really stood out amongst the pale plastered walls and pillars. So I chose an abstract representation of this view down towards the altar.
After that we went to the gallery coffee shop which is just opposite the church, for coffee and cake. And also to look at everyone’s sketches. What a perfect way to spend a morning on Open Heritage Day! Maybe you might like to see the outside of this building in this post here , it is very picturesque.
Good morning everyone. Why do I love red? Well, that’s a good question, and I’m not really sure of the answer. But I thought I would show you this acrylic painting from a few years ago and try and explain. For example, I was inspired by an old black and white photo of children playing on ‘the backs’. That is, behind the terraced row of houses in a pit village where they live. Obviously the colours were black, grey and white. However, I wanted to show the brightness and hope children bring to a community. So I painted them in colour. In my opinion, the touch of red draws the eye most and makes my point perfectly.
Perhaps you may be wondering how I chose this subject for this post? Actually, it was the theme for our latest meeting at our art society. And, it really inspired us all, so picked out some of my own paintings featuring red. Incidentally, this is my unfinished effort from Tuesday’s meeting. And it is a farm building with a tin roof, in gouache. When it’s propenly finished, I will show you . Anyway, in my opinion, the redness forms a strong focal point and also makes the scene look cheerful!
So, why do I love red? Because it can be cheerful and it helps the composition by being a strong focal point. In fact, it can also heighten the drama of a scene. How about the effect in this one?
Personally, I think this is quite dramatic! Finally, of course, red can suggest blood and danger. And I do have some drawings done in the pandemic which reflect this. I’ll show them in another post, I think.
All my work is for sale at reasonable prices, simply email me on the Contact Me page for further details.
Good morning everyone. We had a very enjoyable morning at my Meet the Artist event on Saturday at my solo show. And it was great to show family and friends my exhibition at Darfield Museum. Actually, we all imagined travelling the world while looking at the paintings. In fact, it was fascinating to hear people’s thoughts on exactly where the scenes were set. Because there were no labels on the wall next to the paintings, my visitors didn’t know the titles or locations of the scenes. For example, I described the image above as ‘Sandstone Bluff, Australia’. But a friend of mine said it reminded him of a ruined Crusader castle, somewhere in Europe!
Travelling the World, the Story Behind the Picture
Similarly, another friend was convinced that this was a painting of a town in Italy! Well, it definitely was France, see this post here for the story. However, I must admit that I did miss out the distinctive French 2cv cars on the road. So that the scene was a more simplified composition. Anyway, we both came to the conclusion that the town must have been near the French – Italian border. Perhaps you will have noticed that the tower in the distance is reminiscent of Italian architecture.
Finally, just one more example of a painting that set people off virtually travelling and reminiscing. In reality, this is the scene of a very distinctive rock formation at Brimham Rocks in the Yorkshire Dales. Yet, my friends assured me that it was: a local crag on a moor, another rocky area in the Dales or a beauty spot in Devon in the south of England! And this gave me food for thought, is it better to display a label with title and explanation or not? What do you think?
Good morning everyone. This is my new silver birch painting in gouache. Well, I thought it was about time I created my version of the silver birch woodland scene. Of course, I wanted to make mine a little bit different from the many excellent dark, atmospheric paintings I have seen. So I went for a feeling of slender tree trunks, shimmering in the hazy light. And, the colour of the grass is sharp and bright, just like it is after a shower. As for the sky, I exaggerated the mauve tones, to please myself actually! But, it really makes me want to step into the picture and see what is round the bend in the path!
By the way, I am starting to feel a little bit more confident with gouache paint now, at long last! In fact, I do like painting with it very much. And, I am getting used to the way it moves around on the page and how the colours settle after a while. But, it can still surprise me when one colour can ‘merge’ into another over night! And that’s what happened to these silver birches with the white highlighting. As regards the shift in colour as they dry, I suppose it is becoming a little more instinctive. And, I must have gone through this when learning how to handle acrylic paint. However, I probably forgot about the learning stage as soon as I was through it. But, I must say I am now trying a different type of paper, a more smooth finish. And I’ll show you the first painting when I’ve finished it.
Finally, you must have noticed how much I love painting trees, see this post here . So here are one or two examples. Firstly in watercolour and pen and then in oil pastel and watercolour.
Good morning everyone. This is the acrylic painting that I put on the poster I made to promote my latest exhibition. Well the show opened yesterday and, I must admit that I was very pleased with the way it looked.
Actually, the museum cafe gallery is a lovely, intimate space and we sat quite a while, looking at my paintings. In addition, the cakes are all homemade and delicious, so the time passed quite pleasantly!
Then I took some photos, but the lighting on the paintings reflected and defeated my camera. So, apologies for that!
Perhaps you might have seen this gouache painting before in this post here. However, I don’t think you know this acrylic I did a few years ago. In case you can’t tell (!) it’s my allotment.
After we had looked at my latest exhibition, we went into the courtyard garden to admire the scarecrows. If I could explain, it was the village Scarecrow Festival. Just a bit of fun for the children at the end of summer. Finally, we walked over the road to the church, All Saints. And it’s very picturesque, sited in a peaceful church yard. Actually there is a public footpath at the edge of the graveyard which takes you past the site of the medieval fish ponds. To be honest, the site is not restored but there is a line of willow trees that trace the line of the banks. What a pleasant afternoon out! I will probably post a bit more about my latest exhibition after the Meet the Artist event next week. Incidentally, if you are in the area, you are very welcome to join us, details on the poster.
Good morning everyone. Well, I’ve finished it at last! My new outback painting in gouache. Actually, it was three quarters finished a week ago, but I put it on our dining table . And then I looked at it a lot! Eventually I realised that there were too many clouds for the balance of the design to be pleasing.
So I used the ‘Draw’ function on the editing system and covered up the excess clouds on the image of my painting. Until it looked good, then I altered the painting itself. In my opinion, this is a great way to try out variations without using a paint brush. In fact, it’s really useful when painting in gouache as it is quite difficult to alter on the paper. Obviously it’s not as forgiving as acrylic when it comes to ‘mending’ mistakes. But you can learn how to do it by trial and error.
Another part of my process that is different when using gouache is adding trees over a background. Normally, I would paint the tree in right from the beginning. Then ‘cut’ the paint of the sky, for example, around it. After that I would progress all parts of the painting at the same time. To my eyes this looks better. However, here I simply put down the lower tree trunk as a marker and painted all the rest of it later. And it felt very strange!
Anyway, I felt pleased with how it turned out, because it’s all a learning process. If you want to see how I painted one of my earlier gouache paintings, see here. Hopefully you can see a bit of improvement? But the beauty of painting with gouache is feeling a definite sense of achievement after each one you do.
Good morning everyone. How do you like my brand new bright watercolours? Actually, that’s my little joke, because they aren’t brand new at all! Well, I was getting so fed up with the pale colours on my plein air quick sketches, see here.
So I looked a few things up on the internet, and found out that my paints should be ok. Because they are reasonable UK brands. Also, the paper is decent quality, but I’m working on finding something a bit better. Then I tried to remember not to muddy the colours too much. Eventually, I even started using gouache colours for their brightness, but I really prefer watercolours for on the spot sketching. Anyway, I decided to try something I read in a few posts and articles. And that is really wetting the pans of colour with lots of drops of water ( from a water brush). Then I waited ten minutes and painted two examples, this one being an imaginary landscape.
New Improved Bright Watercolours
By the way, my Australian tutor Rod Moore encourages us to paint from imagination to help develop composition skills. But I’ll talk about that in another post. Next, I just had to do a little abstract doodle to test the colours again!
As you can see, these are very bright watercolours. But, just a word of caution, let the paints absorb all the water before taking the box out on a sketch trip. If not, it will leak all over your bag! Perhaps you knew all this already, however it’s new to me. And, I’m very glad I read this advice on line.
Finally, I gave this new system a proper road test this weekend when I went to the allotment. After working hard all day watering, picking and tidying, I just had to do a quick 30 minute sketch. Can you see the pumpkins and the scarlet flowers on the runner bean plants? Happy painting!
Good morning everyone. Today for this very quick post I’m showing you these paintings that you may not have seen before. When I packed them up for delivery to Darfield Museum for my solo show, I realised that they might be new to you.
As you perhaps can guess, this is a scene in the afternoon heat in a small town, somewhere in the south of France. Actually, I spent a year in a town much like this back in the seventies. And I well remember walking through the streets early afternoon, going back to work after lunch break. As the heat was intense, everyone walked carefully in every patch of shade, no matter how small. Obviously, coming from a cool North of England, this was a new experience for me. Alas, with climate change, I’m getting more used to higher summer temperatures now.
In complete contrast, I painted this scene of the Yorkshire coast in memory of lots of strolls along this beach. And, we have walked so many of them in summer mist, or a sea fret as we call it. Which seems to be a band of mist clinging to the coastal strip, when a few miles inland, the sun shines down strongly! Here you can also see the iconic Grand Hotel in the background.
Anyway, both of these paintings will be in the show at Darfield Museum in September. And there are lots more on display in my Gallery.
Good morning everyone. In my last post I showed you little watercolour sketches from my sketchbooks. And it got me thinking about how many sketchbooks I had filled over the years. Quite a few! So, I looked through one or two and found plenty that I drew whilst on holiday in the Lake District.
For example, this one is a view over to the hills from the garden at the front of Patterdale Hotel, near Ullswater. Actually, we used to stay here once or twice a year, pre pandemic. Unfortunately, I still don’t feel brave enough yet to stay in an hotel. Anyway, the views all around are spectacular. And it was very tempting to sketch while sitting on the patio garden with a cold drink after a walk in the hills.
Well, this is another view from the garden, the majestic Place Fell, which rises to 2154 ft. How could you not draw this? If you’re wondering where the lake is, this view shows the end of the lake, which is rather boggy and soon floods after heavy rain. These two paintings from my sketchbooks are about three or four years old, but, look what else I found! A very similar sort of landscape from 2003. And, I have some even older! How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!
Please note, these are all plein air sketches done in 25 to 40 minutes, to capture the moment and they are 7 by 5 inches. If you wish to see a white cottage view in the Lakes, all neatly finished off, see here.