Half Way Through Our Exhibition

A Big Back Garden

Good morning everyone. As it says in the title, we are about half way through our exhibition at the ‎Mirfield gallery. So I thought I would show you one of my paintings that you may not have seen before. Actually, I painted this after a lovely holiday in the English Lake District. And, I’ll tell you the idea that inspired me. When people in the farm house looked out of the window at the back, they would see this glorious view. In fact, this hill is part of the Langdale Pikes, if I recall. And, it would be part of their back garden, in my imagination.

Elephant Festival

By the way, this painting makes me smile every time I look at it. And, I remember how much I enjoyed painting it. Of course, the challenge was to make the skin of the animal appear real, varying the colour from shades of brownish grey to delicate pink. Just to finish this quick post, I include here two snapshots of the launch party. Firstly, me and a friend discussing subtle effects of paint, and how to achieve them.

Animated Arty Chat

And here you can see some of our members, deep in discussion about our exhibition. If you look carefully, you can see my elephant in the background! Perhaps you would like to see my post about the launch here.

Another Arty Chat

Look at this Small Abstract

Big Brain

Hi everyone. This is a very short post indeed, all about a small abstract. To be honest, I’m so busy at the moment, gardening and arty business. Not to mention just running my life! Anyway, I just couldn’t stand missing my art fix another day. So I found my small drawing pad, watercolour kit and a few pencils, oil pastels etc. And then let a few colours run into each other. Next I added some small, precise marks and accents. And all this without a single conscious thought, a small abstract. Afterwards, I found out which way up I preferred it. Only then did I notice a head in profile and I had a strong idea come into my head! Namely, we need someone with a brain this big to get us out of the mess we are all in. Well, on that cheerful note, I’ll sign off and hope to write a longer, more optimistic post soon. (There is a more cheery abstract here !)

See Australian Landscapes in Gallery

Sunlight on the Crags

Good morning everyone. We had our last meeting before the summer break at Art Society last Tuesday. And, as we usually do we had a pop-up gallery evening. And everyone brought a picture or two to show off to the other members. If you want to see my report on Facebook click here. Even if I say so myself, the work was outstanding! Anyway, I chose two Australian landscapes that I completed on the online course I follow. Actually, I said a few words about the most difficult challenge in this scene, as I saw it. And that was creating the illusion of distance with the crags at the back. Because this is something I find quite difficult to do when the wooded slopes are very green. But, overall I was pleased with the end result, especially the bare rock, visible through the vegetation.

A Beach Day

Next I showed everyone another of my Australian landscapes. And this time it was an idyllic scene of a hot, lazy day spent on the beach in Queensland. However, the main problem for me was the aerial perspective of the lush green headland. And how to give that feeling of it receding into the background when it’s a warm green colour. Hopefully I managed to make it sit back by muting the green.

Secondly, I was pleased with the tiny figures on the beach as I always find people hard to draw. Happily, everyone felt confident enough to say a few words about their artwork in this supportive group. And the evening went very well. Finally, click here to see another one of my Australian landscapes, at present in the Summer exhibition, Open Gallery, Halifax.

How to Paint a Castle

Somewhere in Portugal

Good morning everyone. As you may know, I love painting castles and old ruins. So, when I saw an article in a painting magazine about how to paint a castle in poster style, I had to have a go!

A Castle in Spain

Actually, the instructions in this article by Andy Walker in the Leisure Painter magazine were very clear and helpful. First, we had to restrict ourselves to a very limited palette of colours – blue, yellow ochre, deep red and white. Of course, these suited the subject very well. In particular the dull greens of late summer vegetation and the weathered stone of the castle. Next we had to simplify the composition and the shadow areas. And, finally, restrict added detail to a minimum, the most difficult part for me! But, I must admit, I’m really pleased with the painting. It’s a strong, appealing image and people really seem to like it. And, there’s a lesson in there somewhere for me – don’t complicate or over elaborate! Therefore, I had to paint another castle. However, as you might have noticed, this next one is in my own painterly style.

The Next Step in my How to Paint a Castle Mini Course

Somewhere in Portugal

In fact, for this gouache painting, I remembered the tuition about restricted palette and simplifying the composition. But when it came to painterly details, I followed my instinct and added as many as I wanted! For me that’s really a lot of the pleasure of painting.

A close up.

Well, the next step in my project on how to paint a castle is an attempt to put these new principles into my painting. But also to retain some of my own approach and style. So I’ll show you this unfinished gouache, and I’ve not yet decided how to complete this. What do you think, how much more should I add?

A Castle in Scotland

And, while you are thinking that over, have a look at this happy, sunshiny watercolour painting of a castle here.

Australian Landscape Paintings in New Gallery

A Hot Afternoon in Queensland

Good morning everyone. On our way back from the Yorkshire Dales, we made a detour to Halifax. Because I wanted to see one of my Australian landscape paintings in the Open Gallery. And I was pleased to see it in a good position in a smart new gallery.

The Poster

Unfortunately, we were not able to attend the preview, so it was good to have a chat with Alina, the curator. In fact, the show was full of really interesting works. Also I had the chance to catch up with another artist about the art scene in the north of England. So, all in all, a very enjoyable visit.

In the Open Gallery, Halifax

Finally, we managed to find time to dash to Hoylandswaine church, to see my paintings in the village festival art exhibition. Actually, it’s a very good show. To tell the truth, we haven’t been so active during the pandemic. So I really enjoyed being with fellow members of the Arts Group in the beautiful setting of St. John the Evangelist church.

A Small Harbour on the Isle of Skye
My Paintings in the Church
The Village Art Exhibition in the Church

As you can see, the church is quite beautiful, with a stained glass window by William Morris. And a mural by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope. And I was pleased to show my paintings there, work very different from my Australian landscape paintings (see here for another).

A Holiday in the Dales

Kilnsey Crag

Good morning everyone. We have just arrived home from a holiday in the Dales. That’s the Yorkshire Dales, UK, a peaceful, fairly unspoilt rural area about an hour and a half from my home. Anyway, we drove up to Kilnsey Crag, and sat on a bench overlooking the trout fishing ponds. And I attempted to capture a bit of the ridge rising up to the skyline. Actually, the most impressive part, the sheer drop of the crag is a bit more difficult to get to. So, that’s for another time!

Quiet Churchyard in Grassington

Actually, this watercolour sketch is not quite finished, but I’ll show it anyhow. Well, we spent the afternoon in Grassington, a town which is always very full of tourists. However, we found a peaceful spot to sit for a while. And I painted away, lost in my thoughts, until the rain made us move away.

Clitheroe Castle Keep

Finally, we spent a lovely day in Clitheroe on this holiday in the dales. And I couldn’t resist painting the imposing ruin of the castle keep. Amazingly, I wasn’t alone – there was a local art group there to keep me company! Perhaps you think that I make a habit of going on holiday in order to paint castles! And, you may be right – see this post here. By the way, these are plein air watercolour sketches, completed on site in roughly 40 minutes.

New Techniques in Floral Abstract

Blue with Flowers

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick catchup post, to show you what I’ve been enjoying painting, a floral abstract. Actually, I’m working my way through a course by Suzanne Allard, see here. In fact, I have experimented with loose floral abstracts before, as you may have noticed on this blog. And, I’ve used other media over the paint. But I never felt like I knew what I was doing. So I’m very pleased that I found Suzanne’s tuition on line. Because she guides me through the myriad possibilities of adding crayon, oil pastel, ink and so on. And in a way that I can understand.

Blue with Flowers – a closeup

To be honest, I created the background for this painting a while ago, for a different project. However, I thought that it would work well. And I muted the intense colour of the acrylic paint with oil pastel in places where it needed it. As can perhaps see in this close up. You can see another loose floral abstract in my own style in this post here.

Delivering Paintings to New Shows

The Power of the Waves

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick post today – as the title says, it’s been a busy week delivering paintings. Because not only am I catching up furiously in the veg garden. But also I delivered my paintings to two galleries, well, one gallery and a church! Actually, we went to Fronteer Gallery yesterday with the seascape for their exhibition ‘The Sea’. I can’t wait to see that one, Fronteer exhibitions are always interesting, I love a theme for a show.

The Power of the Waves – close up 1
The Power of the Waves – close up 2

We also went to St. John’s church at Hoylandswaine delivering paintings because the art group in the village invited me. In fact, I have belonged to this group a number of years. Admittedly, I couldn’t go to the meetings during the worst of the pandemic. But, fingers crossed, I am gradually going out more now and things are looking more normal, socially speaking.

Sunshiny Day

To be honest, I am taking part in five exhibitions at the moment (I know!) So a lot of my work is already out on the road, so to speak. However, this abstract is a favourite of mine. And I’d like to see it in a lovely exhibition again, so the village festival show seems like a good thing to be involved in. Got to run, but if you want to see more of my abstract painting see here.

Two Paintings of Women’s Stories

The Woman at the Window

Good morning everyone. Here are two more of my paintings from our exhibition ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, on now at Mirfield. And these two in particular are all about women’s stories. For example, in the one above, I wanted to explore the reality behind living a secluded life. As I painted I thought of the women living where the culture requires them to stay indoors most of the time. Hopefully, you can see the loneliness this woman feels, peering at the outside world through the window. While she always must remain indoors.

Coffee for One

Next I chose to exhibit this painting which highlights another one of my women’s stories. And the story here is rooted very firmly in time – a period of respite in the recent pandemic. In fact, here in the UK, restrictions had been lifted, only to be reimposed shortly after. During that time, people seemed to sit quite nervously in cafes, socially distanced. However, they didn’t stay long and soon hurried out, with a sigh of relief. Just like this woman, with her coffee and cake. You could see more stories about women’s lives here and here.

Coffee and Cake

New Narrative Paintings for Mirfield

Paradise

Good morning everyone. This is a quick post today, I’m insanely busy right now. Why is it that you wait two years for an exhibition and then five come along at once! Anyway, I wanted to show you another two of my narrative paintings. And, as we speak, this should be hanging on the wall at Creative Arts Hub Gallery, Mirfield. Well, I hope so, it’s the launch of our art society show ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ in the morning!

Actually, you may have seen this on this blog before, along with the next part of the story, in this post here and here. In fact, I did paint five pieces to tell the tale of ‘ The Progress of Mankind ‘. As illustrated by me! Simply put, this first chapter shows the unspoilt paradise that the earth once was. Perhaps you can see the suggestions of an insect, a bird, a butterfly and a flower.

Hell on Earth

And here is part two – my interpretation of the way our world is almost destroyed by the exploitation of all our resources. Perhaps you think it’s pretty bleak. But by Chapter Five of my narrative paintings, things are a little bit more hopeful.

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other stories on the wall tomorrow morning.

New Exhibition of Story Paintings

New Exhibition Poster

Good morning everyone. This is the fantastic poster for our new story paintings exhibition at Creative Arts Hub, Mirfield in West Yorkshire, UK. Actually Mark Milnes, the curator put this poster together back in 2018 when I arranged the exhibition. And when Covid intervened, the show was postponed until now! So, we are really looking forward to seeing the work up on the wall. It’s all about story pictures. And we would like to invite you to the launch on Saturday morning 18th June, 1.30 till 3pm. If you are in the area, of course!

The Boy and the Bird

This is one of my paintings for the show and I decided to put the explanation all in the title. Then, people can look and make up their own story, there is plenty of inspiration there, I think. In addition to this one, I have entered a few more without any further text. But, I have added a short explanation for some of my work. Because I feel that they will be better appreciated that way. For example, you may know this story, or you may not. Let’s see!

The Silk Princess, one of my Story Paintings

The Silk Princess

Perhaps you know this legend about the princess in China a long time ago? When she travelled to another country to marry the ruler there, she hid silkworms in her large headdress. And smuggled them out of China, effectively taking the secret of silk making with her. Because you see, until then it was known only to her people. Anyway, it’s a good story. And, using artistic licence, I added to it here by showing the ‘silk’ road leading to Bradford, Yorkshire UK. Where there still stands the Manningham Mills building, once the largest silk mill in Europe.

Manningham Mills

Incidentally, can you spot the silk worm, the silk moth and the white roses of Yorkshire in these two paintings?

Maybe you would like to read more about this painting here.

One More Quick Watercolour Abstract

Golden

Good morning everyone. I’m very busy at the moment, arranging exhibitions, visiting galleries and so on. So I don’t seem to have had much time to do any bigger painting projects. And I have also been finishing art society projects. Not to mention planting things at the allotment garden. But I did complete this quick watercolour abstract, thank goodness. As you may know, I hate leaving work unfinished. Anyway, this is quick abstract number 8. Actually, for this one I had a picture in my mind beforehand of hexagonal shapes. And, that along with the golden colour made me think of the shape of honeycomb. However, that was as far as the similarity went. As I painted, I got more interested in blending the gold and mauve together harmoniously. Of course, these two produce a range of soft browns. Therefore, brown was my third colour – I prefer to restrict myself to a few colours in abstract work now.

Areas of soft blending in my quick abstract

Then I decided to do the surface pattern over the soft background. On another day, in a ten minute slot of free time. Perhaps you can see that I used oil pastel, coloured pencil and markers for this stage. Frankly, the problem is knowing when to stop! Well, I added an accent of red and scribbled in some small pattern with black ink. Incidentally, I don’t think I am quite finished with this idea, so I may visit it again. Possibly with acrylic paint this time. As you may have seen on this post here, I am quite fond of the yellow and purple combination!

Finally, I can’t sign off without a mention that our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition ‘Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers ‘ opens tomorrow at Skelmanthorpe Library Gallery. And it’s presented by Village Art. To be honest, this is the third venue on our tour! And this is one of my pieces – Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse near Haworth. Widely agreed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the famous novel by Emily Bronte.

Top Withens

New Painting at Halifax Gallery

Warm Afternoon in Queensland

Good morning everyone. I’m so delighted, my new painting has been accepted for the Summer show in the Open Gallery in Halifax! And this is a new gallery, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it and the current show on the walls. By the way, the theme actually is Summer, so I thought that this painting would fit in very well. In fact, I created this while I was studying a module in an online course. And the tutor, Rod Moore lives in Queensland, Australia. So, most of the reference photos he provides are of his local area. Maybe you can see that I tried to create an atmosphere of heat rising from the fields in the late afternoon. And a hint of heat haze on the distant mountains.

Of course, we have to deliver it soon, so we can spend a morning walking around historic Halifax. And perhaps potter around the wonderful Piece Hall, as I described in my post here. And you can read all about this Grade 1 listed building.

The Piece Hall, Halifax

If you’re in the area, please join us at the opening event on Saturday 25th June, 5 till 7pm.

Painting Old Houses in Watercolour

Old Houses in West Yorkshire

Good morning everyone. I don’t think I have shown you this watercolour, where we were painting old houses at art society. Actually, Tony Burke, a local artist, came to our evening meeting and led us through this painting step by step. It was quite a challenge but very enjoyable. And we found this curved row of houses in a small village very unusual and inspiring. So, the perfect subject for painting old houses. In fact, this was the first time for ages that we invited a guest artist to work with us. Of course, the society was closed a long time during the pandemic. And it’s taken us a while to get back to normal. Anyway, in this exercise I learned how to blend a sunset colour into my sky. Also, Tony taught us how to add character into trees by twisting the brush when painting foliage.

Top Withens

This is another old house in West Yorkshire, but this time it’s a more famous one! Perhaps you remember this post here. Where I explained that this ruin is widely accepted as the inspiration for ‘Wuthering Heights ‘ by Emily Bronte. And I painted it for our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition, Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers. Firstly we showed our work in Creative Arts Hub, Mirfield. Then in Queen’s Mill, Castleford. And now Skelmanthorpe Library Gallery have invited us to exhibit in a week’s time. It was a lovely surprise. What a shame you can’t all come to our preview event – you would be very welcome!

Three More Quick Little Abstracts

Quick Abstract 5

Good morning everyone. I’m showing you a catch up post about my series of quick little abstracts. Well, if I call them a series it makes it sound more serious! But it’s really because I’m so busy at the moment, and only seem to have time for small works. In retrospect, in this one I must have been greatly influenced by dark thoughts about the war in Ukraine. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but the red looks like blood to me, with something scary raining down on the city from above. Actually, I mentioned in my last post in this series that I only notice these things after the sketch is finished.

Quick Abstract 6

In fact, you may have seen this watercolour sketch before, as I included it in my post about our holiday in Scarbrough here. And I painted it after having paddled in the cold North Sea. Honestly, I found it fascinating to spot the different patterns created by the receding tide on the shore. So I had a lot of scope for decorative patterns in ink over the top of the background.

Quick Abstract 7

Finally I painted this one after a day’s work at the allotment garden, Where I immersed myself in greenery, vegetation etc. Obviously, I don’t have to tell all you gardeners out there about the rapid growth. And how all plants grow so quickly in the UK at this time of year. Admittedly, we have to work very hard weeding and cutting back, but it’s quite glorious really. If you want to see more of the greenery in my plot of land, look here. Just another one of my quick little abstracts for the series.

Catching Up with my Paintings

Pumpkin Seedlings

Good morning everyone. At last, I’m really pleased that I managed to do some catching up and finish this gouache painting. In fact, I started it off about four weeks ago at our art society meeting. And the subject was “food” so I chose to paint these pumpkin seedlings we were growing. Well, I called it future food, so it fitted in! Anyway, the way it almost looked like an abstract composition seen from above inspired me. Because of the circles, I suppose. But I didn’t let it take over, and I made sure I painted in quite a realistic style. Another goal I had in mind was to apply the paint more thickly and I did succeed to some extent. However, I will need more practice on this. If you want to check up on the progress of the plants, they are all now in the ground, flourishing and underneath some netting. It’s a rabbit problem, don’t ask! If you want to see a drawing of last year’s harvest, have a look at this post here .

The Last Tree

Finally, more catching up,here’s one of my new style abstracts, using passages of colour to provide interest in the background. So, the first stage was done ages ago and was sitting on my dining room table, reproaching me. For, I couldn’t think of a suitable motif to be the top layer. Nonetheless, inspiration eventually came, and I quickly drew in a lifeless tree. See more live trees here .

Some Beautiful Old Stone Buildings

Kirkham Priory

Good morning everyone. I thought I would show you the last of the three watercolour sketches I did on our mini holiday. ( See the other two here) Perhaps you have noticed how much I love painting old stone buildings. So, here’s another one! In fact, I did this as we were driving home from the coast. And we stopped for an hour to eat a sandwich at Kirkham Priory, a beautiful ruin looked after by English Heritage. Well, this was the view from the picnic table and we we were in the old gatehouse. Obviously, I couldn’t resist sketching this section of the massive wall and a glimpse through the door. Meanwhile, my husband walked around the site with a guidebook, trying to imagine the splendid buildings as they once were.

Conisbrough Castle

Actually, we seem to do a lot of this, trying to imagine what old stone buildings once looked like. But, just to show you the exception to the rule, here is the keep at Conisbrough castle which is completely restored. As I recall, when we visited in November last year, we saw all three floors. Then we climbed up to the viewing platform at the top, to see a glorious view over the town. If you want to see another historic English castle, see this post here.

See my Small Watercolour Abstracts

Doodle 3

Good morning everyone. This is a quick catchup post, just to show you more of my small watercolour abstracts. Well, I’m still producing quite a few of these. And I’ve noticed that they definitely reflect my painting interests and colour choices at the time. But I don’t notice this till afterwards! For example, in this one above I’m exploring more restrained and sparse patterns, as a contrast to the busier designs of the previous little abstracts seen here.

Doodle 4

On the other hand, I noticed after I had completed this one above that it was connected to my current large acrylic. And also, the softer colours and bold black calligraphic marks are in the style on my online course. Who knew? Actually, my subconscious painting brain surprises me more every day, especially in my small watercolour abstracts!

Doodle 4 – a closeup

A Day by the Sea

North Landing, Flamborough

Good morning everyone. We’ve just spent a lovely few days by the sea. And I painted this quick watercolour sketch looking down at North Landing Bay at Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast. Although it looks deserted in my sketch, there were actually some families playing on the beach. And the snack bar was open and doing a roaring trade. Also, a small boat came back to the shore, with a few crates of fish. Then they pulled the boat up the ramp to the boat house. After I had finished my sketch, (about 30 minutes) we walked a short way along the cliff path on the headland. Actually, we were looking out for puffins, but they were all hiding! What a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

In fact, I had paddled in the sea on the beach at Scarborough that morning, in freezing cold water. And when I got back to the flat I decided to do an intuitive abstract. So I painted an impression of the movement of the water, as the tide receded around my feet. If you look at this post here from last year, you’ll see another sketch of this coast.

The Tide

See my Spare Time Abstracts

Doodle 1

Good morning everyone. I think the title says it all, really, because I’m very busy at the moment. And, this is all the art I can manage to fit in at present – spare time abstracts! Actually, I saw a few things online about doodling, which seems to be very popular just now. But, to be honest, I’ve been scribbling little designs and patterns all my life. So, it seems to be quite natural to me. However, I noticed lots of ideas suggesting doing these small drawings over a background of watercolour marks. So, nothing could be easier, I use my little travel set of colours and it dries fast. Then, a little bundle of markers to choose from, and off I go!

Although, I must say the notion of using lots of surface pattern over paint is still new to me. But, that’s the fun part. And, as most of my marker pens are waterproof, it seems natural to add a bit more emphasis on top with thicker paint. Next, I have a look at the design for any ugly bits and correct them. And now I’ve done another spare time abstract! Right, back to the allotment gardening! There is some more fun doodling in this post here, using a slightly different technique.

Doodle 2
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