My Online Learning – Gouache Landscape Painting

A sunny landscape in Australia with a small river flowing through a limestone gorge - a gouache painting done as part of my online learning.
The Creek

Good morning, everyone. I’d like to tell you about the online learning that I’ve been spending time on these past two weeks. Well, it was a free five day challenge. But I could take my time with it and that was much more doable. Actually, it was very well structured and each unit was almost self contained.

The Colour Mixing

The Colour Chart

So, we started off experimenting with colour mixing using a restricted palette – ultramarine blue ( my favourite ! ) , crimson red and yellow ochre. The yellow ochre was a bit of a surprise as the primary yellow. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how many lovely colours I could mix with this combination. Of course, white was also allowed. In fact, the main benefit of this exercise for me was that I actually sat down and did the chart. To be honest, I’ve always been too lazy to do it before!

Online Learning – the Tonal Sketch

A quick sketch of the landscape in black, white and grey to show the light and shade, part of the online learning.
The Tonal Sketch

Again, for me this was very helpful. Because I am always in too much of a hurry to plan out a light and shade version of my subject. Despite knowing that it is a Good Thing to do ! Anyway, we concentrated on five tones between light and dark. As you can see, I struggled with the ones in the middle. But, my excuse is that gouache paint is quite difficult sometimes. In fact, it can dry a different shade from the one you thought you had mixed.

The Blocking in Stage

Again, this section of the process was done quite methodically, instead of haphazardly, which is my usual method of working. In my own defence, I am a self-taught artist and it’s good to get some proper tuition.

The Finished Painting

The Creek

Finally, after two more excellent sessions, I produced this thoroughly finished off gouache painting of a summer landscape in Australia. I really did enjoy the online learning and the end product. And, I must say a big thank you to Rod Moore of the Learn to Paint Academy see here . Imagine, all this top class tuition was a fab free gift and I appreciate that. Happy Painting!

If you would like to see more of my attempts at showing light and shade in the landscape , see here . There’s another bright, sunny woodland scene in that post too, to cheer us all up!

Gouache Landscape – High Viewpoint

A dramatic gouache painting of a turquoise blue fjord in a craggy landscape.
The Fjord

Hello everyone. I thought I’d show you a gouache landscape that I did for my Beginner Gouache group. You see, this month’s theme is Norway and I found a fab high viewpoint photo by Alexey Topolyansky on Unsplash. Honestly, it just blew me away- it’s so dramatic. I’ve never been to the country so, of course, I’m not familiar with this type of scenery. But I think it’s quite beautiful with its craggy peaks and deep, still mountain lakes. However, it still posed a challenge to capture the subtle changes of colour in the sky and water in gouache. Also, the layering of textures on the rocks. Nonetheless, I am still persevering and I will continue because I love the pure, clear colour I can achieve using this medium. And, today’s takeaway is : remember to let the first layers dry overnight and then continue your layering next day!

Another Recent Gouache Landscape

Down by the River

Now, fortunately, I don’t have to remember to give a credit for the photo this time. Because this scene was painted from my imagination. As you can see, it’s just a simple view – a bit reminiscent of the Lake District in the UK. Happily, a place where I have spent many lovely holidays. Of course, it was a good opportunity to practise painting with gouache. And, on this occasion, I decided to concentrate on getting a full range of tones. So that it would appear to recede into the background. Perhaps you may remember from a previous post that I am working on this aspect of composition – see here . It’s all part of a great online course that I am working through. But, maybe more of that later ! There are plenty more gouache landscapes to be attempted – so come along with me on my artistic journey!

Another High Viewpoint View

An acrylic painting of a deep blue lake in gentle, rolling Derbyshire  hills.
Ladybower Reservoir

This is a view over the moors towards the reservoir in the Derbyshire Dales. But this one is in acrylic paint, on paper. Obviously, a more rounded, gently rising view, if you compare it to the Norwegian scene. But, in my opinion, both equally wonderful and ideal for virtual travelling in these restricted times!

Autumn Landscapes- Plein Air Sketching

A watercolour sketch over the water to a hillside clothed in masses  of autumn trees.  Brown against the vivid green of a farmer's field.
Over the Reservoir

Hello everyone. Well, we had a few fine days last week and I was able to get out for some fresh air. And we went to a couple of local beauty spots to enjoy the autumn landscapes. So, the image above is the view across Worsbrough Reservoir, looking towards the fields and hills beyond. Honestly, it was a feast for the eyes – soft, mellow brown, gold and russet. We were sitting in a nice sheltered spot and the gentle autumn sunshine kept my fingers warm as I sketched. (35 minutes)

Sketching Autumn Landscapes at Wentworth Castle Gardens

Looking over to the Church

Another one of my autumn landscapes. This took me about 25 minutes. To be honest, it was quite difficult to isolate just one part of this view. Because the vista was huge, stretching from the stream at the bottom of the parkland and then up the hill. And, right at the top was the village and the church. As you can see, the trees in the parkland are beautifully placed. And, at this stage of autumn, all the leaves are now shades of brown. Really, I feel so very lucky to have such delightful countryside so close and accessible. Especially now that we are again in lockdown here in the UK. Personally I think it’s so important now to go outside, somewhere pleasant, if that’s possible. And just breathe and let your mind relax.

Plein Air Sketching with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire

A pen and wash sketch of the corner of the town hall, complete with towers and turrets. Surrounded by autumn trees in the park.
Sheffield Town Hall

This is a watercolour sketch I did last year when I went out with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. And what a lovely day it was! To explain, we sat outside on the terrace of a coffee shop and watched the crowds dash by. And I even tried my hand at frantically sketching figures as they wandered around the park and admired the fountains. But, that’s a skill that doesn’t come easily to me. And, now is not quite the time to practise it, for obvious reasons. Oh well, perhaps soon! Stay safe.

P.S. This area is just around the corner from the wonderful Millennium Gallery – click here to see an intriguing exhibition by a local artist from last year.

Two Little Gouache Paintings

A gouache painting in tones of soft grey and ochre. A dramatically lit wall statue of Pharoah in an Egyptian temple.
Pharoah

This is the first of my little gouache paintings and I was thrilled to bits to find the fab reference photo .Thank you Elizabeth Van Der Weert ! You see, I thought the lighting was so perfect and gave just the right atmosphere I was wanting to convey. That is, a mixture of realism (after all it is just a statue ). And , a slight hint of mysticism – is it a real flesh and blood figure ? To be honest, as I was painting I had to restrain myself from using flesh tones, Of course, this would put too much life into the face and skin. Actually, I have been in this position before when painting tomb sculptures in churches. And I had to get rid of rosy cheeks and use more grey ! See my blog post here .

Meanwhile, as I was painting, I also began to think of a sort of a horror film scenario. One where the colossal, crumbling statue of the Egyptian king comes down from the temple wall and walks around ! However, I don’t possess a talent for creative writing so the plot doesn’t get anymore developed than that!

Something Completely Different – a Pattern Based Gouache Painting

A circle based pattern ,in gouache paint. restricted colour palette - inspired by a  beautiful exhibiton of ceramics.
Circle Patterns

I painted the second of my little gouache paintings after seeing a marvellous display of ceramic pieces. And they were in a display all about pattern. Actually, I have written several posts that were inspired by some of the treasures at Cannon Hall , Park and Gardens , For example, this post here on Mythical Creatures. In fact, I plan to write a post soon on these very patterns in ceramics that I saw on this occasion. So, here’s a little example to whet your appetite. And, I do apologise for the blurring – the beautiful piece was in a glass cabinet. Do you know, sometimes you don’t have to go very far from home to see something extra special ?

Inspiration for my Little Gouache Paintings

A Patterned Jug

Curved shapes in Acrylic Abstract Painting

An abstract composition, soft organic  shapes in coral contrasted with interlinking lines in teal.
Trapped

Hello everyone. This morning I thought I’d like to show you the latest in my series of acrylic abstracts. And this one, yet again is largely made up of curved shapes. Perhaps you can see in this painting how I was influenced by the present situation. In a sense, you could interpret it as organic creatures confined behind the mesh structure. Possibly a reflection of lockdown ? But, that’s not the whole story. To be honest, I was also thinking about my ‘stained glass ‘ theme which I was developing a few months ago. And, as you can see, I really got carried away with the beauty of the soft, amorphous coral coloured masses . And, what a glorious contrast they make against the teal blue.

More Curved Shapes

Curved Shapes in Gouache

This is just a quick doodle in gouache – part of my experiments to understand how to handle the paint. However, I was struck by the fact that I automatically draw rounded shapes, inspired by nature or imagination . Very rarely do I want to include many geometric or straight edge shapes in my compositions. And , I must admit, I do sometimes feel out of step with the modern trend in abstract painting . Because it seems to be composed of squares, rectangles, angles and straight edges. In fact, the very opposite of my soft, curved shapes !

The First Big Rounded Abstract

Breakthrough  - an abstract composition in yellow, gold and vibrant blue.
Breakthrough

I wonder if you remember this one from July this year ? Actually, this is the one that set me off on my mission to go larger with my round, gestural shapes. If you want to see more of the story behind this acrylic abstract see here .

Art for Sale

Trapped – in Coral and Teal

But, to go back to the star of the show, this painting is now for sale ! It’s in acrylic on paper, 16 by 20 inches, unframed. And, it’s at the very reasonable price of £60 plus shipping . I’m based in the UK and you can pay by PayPal. So, just go to the Contact page here and send me an email. Then you can have this in your home and look at it and lose yourself in the calm, comfortable, soothing atmosphere.

Plein Air Sketching in the Quarry Park

The Quarry Park

Hello everyone. I don’t think I told you, but last week I managed to get out plein air sketching on a fine day. (After several weeks of rain ! ) Anyway, we drove to a village in West Yorkshire and had a look around this park inside a small abandoned quarry. For more info and photos, see here . The space is small but very picturesque. And the volunteer gardeners have done a marvellous job tidying, planting and looking after the public space on a daily basis. In fact, I’m not quite sure where we would be without volunteers ? Certainly, life in our society would be a lot less rich.

The Quarry Wall – a Perfect Place to go Plein Air Sketching.

Photo of the quarry wall, beautiful trees in autumn colours- a perfect scene for plein air sketching.
The Quarry Wall

After a little walk around, I finally settled on this view – showing the impressive, tall quarry wall which is used as the boundary for the little garden. Actually, the wall was very high. And I don’t think it is so easy to get the full effect on this photo , or in my drawing. To tell the truth, I was quite inspired by the play of sunlight on the thin slabs of stone which the wall was made up of. So I got to work with my lovely dark marker pen and made some bold, definite marks. And I wonder if you can tell from the gestural drawing how much I enjoyed doing this ? in the end, I thought it was time to put the pen down and break out the watercolours !

A pen and watercolour sketch in glowing autumn colours.  Plein air sketching in the quarry garden.
A Pen and Watercolour Sketch

Well, I tried very hard to capture the autumn colours in the flickering sunlight. Actually, the green gold foliage of the trees behind the wall was at its best . But, there was still a lot of fresh green in the undergrowth. Anyway, the temperature in this shady spot was quite low, despite the sunshine. So, after thirty minutes, I packed away my art things and we strolled around the garden and stopped to admire this timber sculpture.

The Tree Trunk Sculpture

Well, I felt a bit warmer by now, so we walked through Cliffe Wood, full of oak and beech trees. Blissful . When we reached the end of this thin strip of wood, it came out at the little back lane. So we retraced our steps and found a handy bench and sat down to drink some hot coffee . It was a lovely morning, and I highly recommend it to calm the nerves and soothe the soul !

You might like to have a look at this post here to find out more about my open air sketching adventures.

Sketching on Location

Landscapes in Gouache Paint – New Experiments

An atmospheric view of the sunrise over the sea in tones of greys and blues.
Sunrise

This is my first attempt at a very small painting in my experiments on landscapes in gouache, 6 by 4 inch. You see, I watched a lot of great videos online about this medium . And I was very impressed by the amount of beautiful detail in these little paintings. So, here’s my first try – just ignore the botched border . ( I’ve had some issues with the tape I used, anyone got a good recommendation? ) Anyway, this photo was given to me by a friend and it’s a sunrise scene from New Zealand. Actually, I also tried to concentrate on tonality, and I struggled with the different tones in the cliffs and hills. But, it was a good exercise and I think I did learn a bit about seeing the values of colours in the landscape Just to make it clear, this means identifying where the shadows and colours are light, darker and darkest.

A Second Attempt – Landscapes in Gouache

Down the River

As you can see, this was the second of my landscapes in gouache on a smaller scale. In fact, it’s one more super scene from a trip to New Zealand. And again, I foolishly set myself two challenges on this. Firstly, the small size (6 by 4 inch ) and secondly how to capture the quality of light on the water. To be honest, working in this way tends to make me paint more tightly and carefully. And that’s not really my style but, again, I did call this a series of experiments. Realistically, I can see how my practice on the tones of faraway hills did help here. As did the use of white gouache to create convincing water in this wide river !

A bright, cheerful gouache painting of a small stream, shaded by trees in a sunlit wood.
The Brook in the Wood

Finally, in this piece, I treated myself to a slightly larger sheet of paper 6.5 by 6.5 inch ( in a mixed media journal). The photo is by Nicola Soricelli Boerer on Artists Free Reference Photos. I must admit, I do feel a bit more comfortable with the paint now. However, I’m still learning all the time about how to paint layers without making mud! To explain, the paint never dries which makes washes and detail over a previous layer tricky ! But, I must confess, I find it quite addictive and I’m looking forward to more experiments. If you want to know more, there is a good video by Sarah Burns here .If you want to see a wood that is atmospheric in a different way (The Boy and the Bird ) have a look at my Gallery here. In fact, I almost included this one in my Halloween post here , but then I thought that might have been a bit over the top!

Halloween Paintings- Past and Present

A ghostly bride waits in the lonely graveyard, one of my favourite Halloween paintings.
Waiting at the Church

Hello everyone. I thought I’d do a quick round up of my Halloween paintings from the last couple of years. And it took me quite a while to find them in my chaotic ‘filing system’ , also known as the piles of sketch books, canvases etc. in the spare bedroom! However, the one above was easy to find because I only just completed it . You see, I painted this for an online Halloween challenge for Artists Free Reference Photos. The original photo was of a peaceful graveyard scene by Fiona Evans. But, I decided to inject a bit of melodrama into it by adding the ghostly bride, waiting at the church. Of course, this is my tribute to Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride’, an image I’ve been longing to paint for a while.

The Churchyard after Dark

A digitally altered sketch of a sinister looking graveyard - one of my Halloween paintings for this season.
The Churchyard at Night

Actually, you might recognise this painting above from a recent post I wrote here . Except for the fact that I took the plein air watercolour sketch and tinkered about with it. And, in fact, this is the first time I used the editing tools on my tablet to change the colours on a piece of my own work. And, I must admit, I’m quite pleased with the outcome. Spooky or what ?

More Halloween Paintings

Which Way to Go ?

I must admit that I painted this sketch ‘Which Way to Go’ a couple of years ago. Initially, I had the idea when I was doing a series of ‘scary trees ‘ pictures. As you might know, I find a lot of inspiration in trees and this was a project to let my imagination run wild. But, at the time, I became engrossed in another theme and this painting didn’t quite get finished ! However, I’m going to include it as one of my Halloween pictures. And, I will get around to completing it soon. Because I rarely leave anything unfinished – that’s just the way I work.

Anubis

Finally, I’ll show you a little watercolour sketch I did when I visited the Ancient Egypt exhibition at our town museum .The exhibition was curated by Professor Joann Fletcher of York University, who actually comes from Barnsley. And there is an interesting review of the exhibition here . Well, the ceremonial mask of Anubis, the god of death with his jackal head looked threatening enough to me! So, I had to include it in my Halloween themed show of paintings.

Autumn Colours- a Gouache Painting

A beautiful old tree in autumn colours,  next to St. Mary's church in churchyard.
St. Mary’s

Hello everyone. Don’t you think the autumn colours have been beautiful this year ? Happily, this charming church in its tranquil garden churchyard is about five minutes walk from my house. To be honest, you wouldn’t think it was right in the middle of a busy town . Yes, I know it isn’t as busy as usual right now. But even when there are no restrictions, it still has that air of peace and quiet.

In fact, there are some glorious trees in the garden , each with its own unique character and shape . Of course, I can enjoy the sight of them all year round, in every season. However, the trees in their autumn colours have to be the most impressive sight of all.

The Dancing Leaves in Autumn Colours

The Dancing Leaves

So, in this closeup of my gouache painting, I really tried to show how the subtle yellow green leaves flickered and gleamed in the autumn sunshine. Well, I tried but it was an impossible task really.

More Autumn Colours

A basket of ripe, red apples in a basket - autumn colours in the harvest.
The Apple Harvest

As it happens, this is an oil pastel drawing of last year’s harvest. But the tree is very reliable and we usually get to eat these delicious fruits all winter ! Actually, this painting was on display for a few months in the Rotherham Art Cafe here .

A bright, impressionistic sketch of a tree in a beautiful garden, full of autumn colours.
View from the Glasshouse Window

Finally, something completely different. To explain , I went to a printing workshop in the elegant Victorian conservatory at Wentworth Castle Gardens last year . It was part of our Inktober 2019 activities. And, this is my impressionistic painting of the show of autumn colours in the garden, through the window. And, if I remember correctly, I used some acrylic inks to do a quick sketch, while my print was drying !

In my opinion, this time of year is truly beautiful. And, the display doesn’t last so long. So, get out and enjoy it while you can !

More Gouache Experiments

The Pathway to the Sea

Hello everyone. Well, as promised, I’d like to show you my gouache painting now it’s finished. Yes, yet more gouache experiments ! Just to remind you, here I wanted to use the paint in the same way as I use acrylics. That is, applied quite thickly to the paper . And, also, using bigger more gestural brushstrokes. As you can see, I really enjoyed the freedom of using the paint this way. I could allow myself go to town on painting the shape of the rocks and pebbles in the path.

To be honest, I didn’t take this photo myself. But it reminded me so much of the seaside closest to where I live . The Yorkshire coast here in the UK can be quite spectacular with its steep cliffs and rock beaches. So, I must give a shout out to L J George for the permission to use this lovely photo, on the Artists Free Reference Photos Facebook page.

Yet More Gouache Experiments

Coffee with Friends

Now, I must admit, this is not the best urban sketch style painting I have ever made. But I’d like to explain why I’m showing it. To explain, a couple of weeks ago, I met with two friends to go sketching en plein air. However, it was raining too heavily, so we went into a sweet, little cafe nearby. And we were chatting all the time, not having seen each other face to face for months. Bliss! But, when I got home, I was dying to do some sketching. And so I tried to recreate the scene from memory. As you can see, my visual memory is not so good! But, I’m sure the exercise must have been good for me. Click here to see a more successful urban sketch , drawn from life, outside, a few weeks ago in Wentworth.

The Experimental Bit

In this little painting , I tried to indicate that the trees through the window in the car park were obviously further away. And more indistinct than the figures and the furniture etc in the cafe. Also, I tried to indicate the shapes of the figures using deeper colours in the shading on the clothing. I know, just baby steps – but it sometimes feels like going back to the beginning ! And, my friend really did order a banana with her coffee !

Scene of a pathway to the sea, through rugged cliffs.  Paint applied thickly . More gouache experiments.
Banana and Coffee

Floating on Air – an Acrylic Painting

A peaceful scene , beautiful white flower-like shapes floating on air in a warm, pink sky.
Floating on Air

Hello everyone. I finished this acrylic painting quite recently. But I had started it a few weeks ago . And I had begun seeing pictures in my mind a little while before that. Pictures of things floating on air – first of all fluffy, cold snowflakes drifting down from a peaceful , warm sky . Then I visualized white flowers or petals slowly sinking on to a dry, dark landscape. To be honest, the inspiration for this idea was easy to see. Because every time I look out of my kitchen window, I see glorious, blooming begonia flowers in the windowbox. Actually I was inspired earlier by my flowers in another planting arrangement here – a painting in a very different mood.

Blooming Begonias

Begonias in the Windowbox

As you can see, these beautiful flowers with their delicate layers of petals are very appealing. However, when I picked up my paintbrush, I had decided on the main idea of something white , drifting down. Also, I was clear that that I wanted a subtle pink sky above a grey expanse – perhaps landscape or rolling waves ? After all, that’s the image that came to me. But, I kept seeing snowflakes or clouds, balloons or parachutes. And that’s what took me so much time to plan this painting. Well, a long time for me anyway.

The Close Ups

Floating on Air

I hope that I managed to capture the light, drifting quality of these white objects. In effect, I was thinking of all of the ideas I had at first. For example, clouds, snowflakes and petals, and so on. Although, obviously, the actual form they took was the shape of flowers.

A Flower Floating on Air

A close up of a flower with ruffled,  layered petals , floating on air.
White on White

As it happens, the actual painting of the white flower shape was quite difficult. In order to give it some idea of form, I had to introduce other colours to suggest the layers of ‘ petals ‘. Hopefully, you can see this in the detail above. Well, I tried ! But , I don’t think this particular inspiration has finished with me yet. And, I might have to work with it again !

New Paintings for our Exhibition

A bright, colourful abstract composition in orange and blue. One of the new paintings for our exhibition
Sunshiny Day

Last Friday I went to look around our gallery in the Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield. Perhaps you may remember that I am a member of an artists group called Northern Fringe Artists. And we have a lovely gallery in a shop unit there. So I took some new paintings for our exhibition. Obviously, we like to change things around so that visitors have something fresh to look at. Actually, I’m quite fond of this painting – Sunshiny Day . In fact, I painted it quite simply to cheer myself up last year . Because we were in the middle of a dark , damp winter and I was longing for some sunshine! Incidentally, I borrowed the title from the lyrics of a song by Bill Withers ‘ Lovely Day ‘, an old favourite of mine.

Elephant Festival

Another One of the New Paintings for Our Exhibition

To be honest, this was great fun to do. In my opinion, elephants are fascinating animals to paint. I could really go to town on the pinkish tinge of the skin on the elephant’s face and ears. Actually , I’ve done another sketch of a model of an elephant in battle armour . It’s somewhere about -I’ll find it and show you soon. As I recall, I was at the Leeds Armouries Museum, back in January, with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. Do you remember those days when being out with a group of friends was a pleasant, stress-free experience?

The Apple and Pear Harvest

A semi abstract scene showing apples rolling on the grass under the tree - green and red.
Apples Falling

When Inspiration Strikes

As you can probably see, I used this painting for one of the online posters I made for my solo exhibition. Have a look at this post here to see the other paintings on show in January this year. However, this painting does have a nice back story. Well, we went to Cannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens last year to join in the celebrations on Pear Day. There are lots of heritage varieties of pear trees in the Walled Garden there. And, it’s usually quite a jolly day. As usual, I took my sketchbook with me. And , in spite of all the luscious pears on display, a box of apples, spilling out over the grass caught my eye. A couple of watercolour sketches and a few photos later, I went home and started painting an acrylic painting of the scene. You see, when inspiration strikes, you’ve just got to go with the flow!

Playing with Gouache Paint

Bathing in the River – Early Morning – reference photo by Frank Holleman from Unsplash

Hello everyone. I thought you might be interested to know what else I have painted while playing with gouache paint. First of all, I tried using a better quality watercolour paper. Because I wasn’t really satisfied with the mixed media paper I used for this painting here of a woman, carrying water home . To be honest, I put so many light washes on places that I rubbed the surface off ! So, I experimented on a small piece of smooth watercolour paper in this painting below.

Playing with Gouache Paint on Smooth Paper

A colourful abstract in gouache applied with watercolour techniques.
Abstract Gouache Experiment

As you can see, I put several washes on some areas to darken and strengthen them. And, the paper would easily take three or four. Also, I tried to apply dark colours over light too and that was quite successful. I must admit , I might use this as an idea for a larger, acrylic painting. And, people seemed to like it on my Instagram account here . So, next I used good watercolour paper for this painting of a figure bathing in the river. Actually, this was done for the India theme we are following in the Beginner Gouache group I belong to.

Gouache Experiment for India Theme

More Experiments – Acrylic Style

I was quite pleased with this painting and I enjoyed trying to show the early morning light on the water. In fact, I think it might be the Ganges river but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m not really a watercolourist, so my next painting is different. And, this time, I’m using the gouache paint more as I would use acrylic paint . Obviously, gouache paint is very versatile. And, I am much more in my comfort zone when putting on thicker layers of paint ! Of course, I’ll show you the picture when it’s finished . So, that’s all for now.

From Sketch to Acrylic Painting

Scarlet Flowers

Well, here it is, as promised . A step by step demonstration of the runner bean plant in my allotment – from sketch to acrylic painting! To be honest, it really seems a long time ago now when the growth was at its height. Of course, I’m talking about August, when I did this quick, plein air sketch.

The Working Sketch

The Working Sketch of Runner Beans

As you can see, (if it’s not too faint) I wrote myself a few notes about colours. Actually, I often do this, if I plan to paint the scene later. But, on this occasion, I did find another few minutes later that day to add watercolour to the sketch . Although I took a few photos as well, a colour sketch at the scene is much more helpful.

From sketch to acrylic painting.  This is the working sketch in pencil with added watercolour.
The Runner Bean Plant in Colour

So far, so good. Perhaps you may have seen these sketches in a post I wrote a few weeks ago. And, I drew our cabbage and sprout plants too here . Really, I find my garden very inspiring. But, I’m often far too busy working on the plants to do much artwork. But, when I got home, I drafted this painting in acrylic in a couple of sessions.

From Sketch to Acrylic Painting – the First Draft

The Runner Bean Painting – First Draft

At last, some time to paint! In fact, I had already done a lot of the editing and designing of the composition in the working sketch. To explain, I had to decide which of the shapes of leaves and so on I wanted to include in the final version. Because the design would have looked too busy if I had included them all. Also, I tried to give the arrangement of the stems, beans and flowers some movement across the page. After all, this would give a more pleasing picture. Well, that’s the theory, anyway!

The Final Version

From sketch to acrylic painting  - the finished version.  A runner bean plant climbing up a cane support .
The Runner Bean Plant – Acrylic Painting

Well, this is the version I decided on. First of all, I painted in too much detail in the background. So , all that had to be calmed down so it did not take attention away from the plant . Then, I made some decisions about the different shades of green and tried to be more consistent with them. Finally, I made sure that the focal point – the scarlet flowers – were as red as I could paint them . So , I really hope you like my painting! By the way, we ate the last helping of runner beans last night at dinner. So, all the work is really worthwhile!

All my work is for sale at reasonable prices. This painting is acrylic on paper, 16 by 20 inches. Unframed and without a mount. Price – £ 60 plus shipping. I’m based in the UK . You can pay by PayPal. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email

Experiments in Gouache

An abstract in  bright jewel like colours divided by a diagonal line. One of my Experiments in gouache.
On Either Side of the Divide

This is the very first of my experiments in gouache paint. Because, as you might know, I paint mostly in acrylic and also sometimes in watercolour and mixed media. Anyway, I picked up a couple of very cheap starter sets of gouache paints. Actually, as far as I can tell, the paint is watercolour as a base and then body colour is added. Hopefully, I’ve got that right – I’m no expert! In fact, the combination of the two elements makes the paint opaque instead of translucent. And then, obviously, it doesn’t behave on the paper exactly like watercolour. As you might be able to see, I tried to apply it as acrylic on this painting. But , it isn’t acrylic either, so I couldn’t layer it on thickly as I tried to do. I’m not sure where this leaves me, which is why I am calling these paintings experiments in gouache!

More Experiments in Gouache

Fetching Water – reference photo by Ibrahim Rifath in Unsplash

This is a little painting I did on unsuitable paper in my art journal for a great new group I have joined. Well, it’s called ‘Beginner Gouache’ and it’s on a new media platform MeWe – new to me , anyway. To be honest, I like it because we can pass on useful tips to each other about the painting process . Also, because it’s a lovely group, we can encourage and support each other at the same time. However, to get back to the unsuitable paper, it’s mixed media paper in my art journal. And it does a pretty good job of handling most of what I throw at it – see this post here . But very wet gouache paint is a step too far for it, as I have found out in my experiments in gouache. And, if you want to watch a good tutorial on using gouache, click here . As you will see, the medium is very versatile ( and the artist Shari Blaukopf is very good too! )

Another Abstract in Gouache

Doodle Abstract

I really enjoyed working on this. Actually , I was reading a good book on abstract composition which reminded me about the ‘ doodle and fill it in’ approach. But the book also taught me about the importance of colour balance in abstracts. And I tried to put it into practice in this painting. To sum up, I really like using gouache. However, I do consider myself to be a beginner. And I’ll probably show you a few more of my experiments as I go along!

I Love Trees.

I love trees - I really enjoyed sketching with a thick pen, fineliner and watercolour wash to create this close up of an old massive tree trunk
The Old Tree

I love trees and we often walk in the country in order to enjoy the peaceful, green spaces. And we had a stroll around Cannon Hall Park and Gardens yesterday to have a look at the restoration of the Georgian walled garden. You see, the park finally acquired the cash to restore some of the original features. For example, the 60’s style rectangular pond and pergola was replaced by a beautiful round lily pond. And the old glasshouses that grow the famous 200 year old grapevine are being restored too. However, the work is not quite finished . And when it is, I’ll write a post all about it .

I love trees

But yesterday , I simply enjoyed being in the formal garden. As you know, I love trees and I’m always attracted to drawing them when I’m out plein air sketching. The sketch above was completed in 20 minutes using a super dark pen, a fineliner and a wash of black watercolour. In fact, I sat on a low wall right under the tree. And the markings on the bark and the shadows cast by the foliage of the tree itself were quite fascinating up close .

Some other trees

The Tree in the Park

Actually, I feel quite affectionate towards this drawing. Because it was the first urban sketch I did back in May, when we were at last allowed to go to the town park .

The Wentworth Folly

To be honest, I don’t think I have shown this sketch before. As I have already said, I love trees and at all times of the year too! So this is a tiny pen and watercolour sketch I painted at Wentworth Castle Gardens last year.

I Love Trees – Even in a Spooky Wood !

The Boy and the Bird

Finally, I couldn’t resist showing you one of my favourite acrylic paintings. Obviously, this is what happens when I just let my imagination go wild! You could see another abstracted tree in this post here . But, these paintings and drawings have one thing in common – they are all inspired by trees.

Thinking about Drawing

The Old Church

Last Friday I went to a brilliant exhibition at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. ‘ Lines of Beauty ‘ and this got me thinking about drawing. I saw some fabulous Old Master Drawings from the Chatsworth House collection like this one by Van Dyck.

A beautiful charcoal drawing of two friars by Van Dyck. A thinking about drawing example.
The Two Friars

In addition to these works of art, there was also interesting information about the artist’s materials available back in the day . And I was very taken by the drawings on toned paper made with black or brown ink, and , then coloured with watercolour wash . Finally, highlights were added in white chalk . Amazingly, these materials were often made by the artist and his or her assistant. To be honest, it made me feel very grateful for how easy it it is nowadays to buy chalk, ink, charcoal and paint ! If you want to see more pictures of the exhibition, have a look at the latest post on our Art Society Facebook page here .

On the shore

Reserving the White Paper

However, to get back to thinking about drawing, I did the drawing above last year. And, I think it shows very clearly how when you draw on white paper, you add the medium tones first. Then you strengthen some of them up to create dark areas . And, all the time you are quite cleverly ‘reserving’ the white paper for the light tones and the highlights. This means, plan the drawing carefully and leave the paper white in all the right places! To be honest, it took me a while to manage to do this properly.

Toned Paper Thinking about Drawing

Now comes the difficult bit – for me anyway. You see, when you use toned paper( that is, not white ) you can leave the paper showing for the mid tones. And this works well with beige or stone coloured paper. Then you can use darker pastel pencil or watercolour wash for the darks. Of course, you can then add white pastel or chalk for highlights. Obviously, this sounds straightforward but it took me a while to get my head around it . However, with the guidance of a good tutor , I managed to produce this drawing at art class.

A portrait of a man. On stone coloured paper with brown and black pastel and chalk. A thinking about drawing exercise.
A Portrait on Toned Paper

The Old Church

This was another exercise we did in class , thinking about drawing on grey toned paper.

As you can see, I had to be very disciplined about the different shades of grey. Because I wanted to show the shapes of the building and landscape as the light fell on them . Actually, all this at the same time as looking at a colour photo of the scene , which can be confusing. In truth, it’s a real workout for the brain !

Drawing from Life

Finally, I would suggest that when you are thinking about drawing, the very best thing you can do is to draw from life . So, here’s some of our pumpkin harvest , drawn very quickly at my allotment yesterday. Just think of all that roasted pumpkin ( with garlic ) that we shall enjoy all winter !

A simple pencil drawing of three pumpkins - a thinking about drawing exercise.
Three Crown Prince Pumpkins

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Drylands – Art for Sale

Picture of the Month

Drylands

I just finished this acrylic painting today , and I wanted to show it to you straight away ! This painting – Drylands – Art for Sale – needs to be featured all by itself, I think . To be honest, I am quite pleased with it . You see, it’s another experiment with a restricted palette of colour. And this time, I used soft browns, vibrant orange and a touch of gold. In fact, I mixed the shades of brown from blue and a ready made orange. Surprisingly, this combination includes the three primary colours red , yellow and blue. Because, of course, the orange is a mixture of red and yellow. ( In actual fact, it took me a while to figure this out ) . And I had never tried to mix browns before, always using the brown umber straight from the tube. But, I must say, I really prefer the DIY mixtures. And, that’s what I like about these experiments – I always learn something!

Drylands – Art for Sale -The Dead Trees

A detail from ‘Drylands’

Clearly, when I painted this parched landscape with its swathes of dusty foliage, I must have been thinking of the climatic changes taking place in the world. For example, it seems that dry, hot regions seem to be getting hotter and drier. If you would like to see another surreal landscape painting, look at this post here .

A close up of the sky

I’m including this shot in order to try to show the intense and rich colour of the sky . There are also passages of interesting textures, as there are on most of my paintings. Unfortunately, these details don’t show up so well on a screen.

Well, I hope you like my painting ‘Drylands’ . As I said earlier , it is a work in acrylic on paper, 16 by 20 inches, unframed and without a mount. And , it’s priced at £60 plus shipping ( I’m based in the UK ). So you can pay by PayPal and I’ll package it up and send it off to you without delay ! Just go to the Contact Me page here and send me an email for further details. Then you can frame it to suit your taste and enjoy soaking up the evocative atmosphere it seems to create.

Drylands – Art for Sale