Friday, March 29, 2013

August evening on Bréhat

August evening on Bréhat

Well, back home but not for long and very busy! Next week I'll be in Bristol for the SAA's 'It's All About Art' event and then straight to the Ile de Bréhat for a week. Looking forward to those relaxing August evenings on the beach on Bréhat, although I don't want to wish my year away!
I will show you the other Morocco paintings, when I get around to photographing them all. It was a great trip. Bit of a shock coming back to the UK to find it's still winter here - ouch!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Last day in Essaouira

We've just enjoyed our last evening meal as a happy group in Essaouira. Today was almost a complete washout for me, painting wise! Rather a shame for our last day, it poured with rain the whole morning, and showered on and off throughout the afternoon. I twice went out with painting kit only to return to the hotel each time after sheltering with a couple of coffees under a canopy, no painting achieved! Then after a restorative break in the hotel decided to give it one final fling! The painting wasn't up to much but at least I got out there and did it for a couple of hours.
It's been such a fantastic week and was just the tonic I'd hoped it would be, a new kick start. I find the light, the harbour, the subjects here all so exciting, and the people very friendly and interested. We painters need to get away and see new things from time to time to fuel our imaginations don't you think?
I've got a very busy week work-wise when I get back on Monday but I'll start to show you the other Essaouira paintings just as soon as I can!

Friday, March 22, 2013

'Chez Sam'

This one certainly wasn't without it's issues! I started it on Monday and was really keen to finish. Today was the first chance I had to go back in the same light, same time of day.
Disappointingly the three men weren't there today, and I had a succession of vehicles come and park right in front of me. Then I realised the two men on the left were too small so I had to completely repaint them. They were too small because I'd painted the fence too short so that was changed too.
When I'd finished I put the painting down on the ground for two seconds to take a photo and pack it away, then I heard a flurry of wings and suddenly about a handful of grit and broken shells was seemingly thrown across the painting!
I'll have to see if it comes off when it's dry. I think it's all these little challenges and unexpected events that make plein air painting so exciting though!
By the way I'm fairly happy I captured the light, but the seagulls look rather like ducks!

Cinnabar green light

I had a more relaxed day today, enjoying several coffees with my new friends. We were adopted by a sweet dog who followed us around from spot to spot and would lie at our feet while we were painting.
It was overcast most of the day, but in a way I enjoyed that as I didn't have to chase shadows around!
I once bought a tube of Williamsburg Cinnabar Green Light as much because I loved the name as anything!
I don't have much call for it but it came in perfectly for the lady's robe in the foreground, which was the last part I painted. The cherry on the top!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Football on the beach

The beach is just opposite the lovely hotel we're staying in, and I didn't have to go far to find my first subject today!
Been in a really nice routine this week. I leave the hotel at 7.00 am to paint. Head back to the hotel at 9.00/9.30 for a leisurely breakfast and a freshen up. Then head out again for the rest of the day, working through lunch because I've had such a large breakfast.
Return to the hotel about 5.30/6.00 pm to freshen up. We usually all meet to have a chat with Ken and show him our work before all going to dinner together.
The light here is so fantastic, I am so inspired. I'm also loving being able to paint in such warm comfortable weather for a change!
I'll have lots of paintings to show you when I get back :-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rugs for sale

This is my best from today, a few of us found this gorgeous little courtyard hidden away from the strong wind. It looked breathtaking when the sun lit it up. What immediately caught my eye on entering the square was the dark foliage against the bright whitewashed buildings. When the sun was out I sketched in (with the brush) where all the shadows were so I was able to continue just fine as the clouds came over. Each time the clouds parted of course the shadows had moved remarkably but I stuck to my pre-sketched plan!
The array of bright colours are rugs and clothes for sale.
I only managed three paintings today but this one took three hours (I was busy chatting to the two lovely ladies I was painting with) and is my largest at 12" x 16".

Monday, March 18, 2013

Essaouira day one!

Hopefully this will work, I'm attempting to blog via email again!
Well here I am in Morocco and what an interesting day, what a fascinating place! There's so much to see here it's sometimes hard to choose where to stop and paint.
I have managed five and a half paintings today with varying degrees of success! First two were a bit ropey but I was fairly happy after that.
This was number five. Look at all the seagulls sitting along the wall and on the rocks! I love the white against dark of those and the dark against light of the flying seagulls seen against the sky.
There are lots and lots of dogs, cats and seagulls here.
I wasn't very happy when the wind threw my stainless steel turps container off my easel (full of my new clean Winsor & Newton distilled turpentine) upside down into a deep brownish dubious looking puddle from which I had to fetch my now empty container.
Would have been better if that had happened on day five or even six...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

'August evening on Bréhat' detail

'August evening on Bréhat' detail
And I'm off! With 24 kilos of paints and kit and about 2 kilos of clothes... feels like that anyway!
Next time I speak to you I hope it's from Morrocco! :-)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Busy bee

Fin du jour 
I'm officially out of hibernation mode, even though the weather doesn't realise it's spring yet!

This week I have completed three paintings.
Painted and waxed and fitted two frames.
Prepped 26 canvas panels by fixing oil primed linen canvas to 3mm MDF boards.
Painted 40 canvas panels in various shades of beautiful warm greys for an undercoat.
Decided which paints to take to Morocco.
Written a magazine article.
Taken my two self-portraits to London to hand in for the SELF exhibition.
Visited the Royal Society of British Artists exhibition.
Photographed paintings.
And managed a lovely evening with friends and a couple of lunches with my husband and even saw the children once or twice (kidding! No I saw them as often as teenagers like to be seen... mealtimes!)

Hope you don't mind me presenting you with a list but it's been a list kind of a week! Lists on lists on lists. Tomorrow I need to look urgently at the packing list as I'll be leaving before teatime to stay overnight at a hotel at the airport. I may not fit any clothes in the case after the paints and boards...

I made these! Aren't they neat?

Hopefully you'll hear from me again when I'm in Morocco :-)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tonal key studies on a very cold day

It's turned very cold and wintry again. I worked from my studio all day yesterday with the cats and we were extremely grateful of the underfloor heating! All of us lying around on the floor with snow whirling and blizzarding all around us.
I started work on a painting based on a series of photos taken on the beach on the ile de Bréhat one delightful summer evening. The beauty of working in the studio is that you can play around to your heart's content with preparatory work, whereas plein air you are usually in a rush to get started.
In these sketches I had already decided on the composition and was trying to plan which tonal value range to pitch the painting at. Using lovely chunky ProMarker pens in a range of warm greys I tried a low key palette, high key palette, mid range palette and finally using the whole extent of tones from light to dark.
Which do you prefer? I'll let you know soon which one I went with...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lucky girl again!

My Winsor & Newton ROI prize :-)

Look what lovely treats arrived for me today! Prompted by my forthcoming trip I finally settled down with the Winsor and Newton catalogue to choose my prize goodies from winning the ROI event evening in December. 
I chose the compact artist's watercolour set because I really wanted to be able to keep part of my prize as a souvenir of the evening. I do actually love watercolours you might be surprised to hear, I just forget to use them! Anyway I thought this one would be great for 'on the go' with it's fourteen half pans of colour and mini sable brush. I now need to get in the habit of taking it around with me to add a little colour to my line drawings.
Yes I did order brushes too, even though I got my large Pro Arte prize haul only a few months ago. There are 'Monarch' and 'Galeria' brushes that I would hate to be without... and although I hardly ever ever throw a brush away I always seem to need new ones! In fact they just retire to a different jam jar...
Brand new brushes for Morocco! 
The other indulgence that you see here are a couple of tubes of paint I wouldn't usually buy as they're series 7 and retail at £27.50 a tube. I also thought they may come in handy in Morocco... cobalt blue deep and cobalt turquoise. Plus they are just heart-breakingly beautiful. 
Of course I run the risk that I might permanently add them to my palette and I'll be paying for them next time!  

Tomorrow I'm going over to the 'Spotted Dog' art group near Nottingham, to tutor a workshop in 'finding your style'. Hopefully everyone will take home lots of ideas to help them progress with their work.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Unfinished self

Unfinished self

I have neglected you but I've been in hibernation mode I confess and haven't got much of anything done to tell you about. What I really really need right now is some better weather and a change of scene, so roll on Morocco next week!

This is a self portrait I was working on for a couple of days last week but I didn't quite get it finished. I don't think it will ever move on from how you see it here! But here are a few shots of the studio set up and the progress.

I was working on top of a half-finished/failed painting that I did plein air at Sutton on sea one gloomy day. About halfway through I decided to keep the sky and beach huts in the background so it is a strange combination of a landscape and the objects in the studio. 

The yuk that I started with

Here you can see the set up with the flowers and the mirror and incidentally, I didn't create the mess especially for the painting, that was already there. 

I started with a loose outline to place everything
The first colours I started with were the yellows, because that would have the biggest contrast with the colours already in place on the painting

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