Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas market at dusk

Christmas market series no 3 - market at dusk

I love this one, it's got such mood and expression and again that economy of strokes which is what I'm always striving for - how to say more with less.
This is such a good time of year to reflect on where your work has been and where it might be heading in the year ahead. I'll certainly be giving some thought in the next few days to personal objectives and projects in the year ahead.

My biggest project in 2015, which I'm very excited to tell you about, is that I'm going to be writing a book about oil painting and I'm going to be starting on that very soon. I'm so excited! I'd love your help with that, if there is anything you struggle with or think should be included in the book then now is a great time to let me know as I'm only just beginning with ideas of topics to cover. Although the book will be written specifically about oil painting I want it to be full of painting advice that you can take to any subject and other mediums also. 

And very soon on my blog I'll be doing my annual review, as I find it really helpful to look back over the year past before making plans for the new year ahead. So in the meantime I can only say that I wish you a happy, healthy and fulfilling new year, and I look forward to seeing you in 2015 :-)

Monday, December 29, 2014

A holiday snow day!

Snow over Wilsford
12" x 16" Oils

In between the fun and feasting and visits I was able to get out locally and paint the snow that had fallen overnight - such excitement after not having had snow here for at least 20 months!
I didn't have a suitable board prepared with an under colour, so I had to start with a white surface for this one which I don't really like to do. So I used some glaze medium mixed in with the paint and turps for the first stages adding thinned blues and purples, very much like a watercolour technique. 
This was dry enough to add thicker lighter paint on top within the hour, without any difficulties.

Painting in situ

A Boxing Day sketch, family watching TV

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Christmas market no 4 Lincoln castle

Merry Christmas to all my friends!
I hope that you have a wonderful festive season and enjoy time spent with loved ones.
Another here in my Lincoln Christmas market series. It wasn't really snowing, I was just having fun and getting carried away! Snow, I miss you! It's been at least 20 months since we've had any here, so I had to be inventive!
Have a good time everyone xx

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mulled wine and hot chocolate

Mulled wine - hot chocolate
Christmas market no 2
24 x 30 cms

Continuing on with the Christmas market theme, this one concentrates on the action within the mulled wine stall. I particularly was after the warmth, the bright lights and the distorting effects of the steam. Again I tried very much to stick to big shapes apart from the odd bits of interest. I loved it in it's fairly abstract stages, shown below. I was very tempted to leave it at stage two but I do like people to be able to recognise the figurative subject matter and so I felt it didn't say enough about it yet. I don't know, maybe there's an abstract artist within me trying to burst through!

The mostly warm colour palette offset by those lavender/grey blues, and small touches of hot red, pleased me no end. I think when a painting speaks to you in this way, you just know that something about it will affect something you work on in the future at some point, like having a new arrow in your quiver. You don't need to be conscious about it, or try too hard, it will just infuse and develop within your repertoire. 

Stage 1 - darks

Stage 2 - large shapes - could have stopped here
Lovely blog readers, I need to ask your help with something. I've decided to rename this blog in the new year. At the moment it's called 'ma vie en couleurs' which seemed appropriate when I started as I was living in France at the time. Well I've been back in England three years and I need a new title. Don't worry, everything else about the blog stays the same.

But here's where I need you... can you think of a couple of words or a short phrase that describes me and my work and my usual blog content? Please drop me a line or even better leave a comment on this blog post so that others can see your ideas too. If you are reading this in your email inbox, you can redirect to my blog here. Thanks so much for taking the time :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sketching the sketcher

Adebanji Alade

Last night was the Royal Institute of Oil painters (ROI) annual painting evening event, when anyone can paint from portrait models alongside many members of the ROI. There is always a great atmosphere of camaraderie amongst the artists taking part. Not to mention the wine and enormous mince pies which provided sustenance throughout the three hour event. 
Thank you to the lovely lady watching who kept getting orange juice for me :-)

And look who my model was this time! My friend and fellow artist Adebanji Alade AROI whose blog will be familiar to many of you. He was very good at sitting still actually, which helps!
I'm really pleased with the looseness of this because I think that a painted face or person should look as though it could move at any second. I also love sketchiness because I like to see evidence of the 'workings out' or the process that the artist has undertaken. And I like illusion of depth balanced with 'look, this is just a painting' brush marks. I suppose that last statement is a strong guiding theme for me. 

Adebanji modelling in the gallery
Just to remind you that if you are in London you have until lunchtime on Sunday to see the ROI exhibition at the Mall Galleries, and there are many brilliant paintings still available for sale. One of my very favourites is only £500. See if you can spot it.

And here's mine in the exhibition -
Last hour on the beach SOLD

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas market

Christmas market no 1 - mulled wine stall
10" x 12"

I loved the lights, colour and busyness of the Lincoln Christmas market that I visited a couple of weeks ago. I did find a place to set up and paint but it was away from where I wanted to be and I got very cold! After a couple of hours of painting followed by a warm up in a cafe I decided to walk around taking photos on my phone if anything caught my eye. It was very busy by then and day was turning into dusk which was the very best time for me.  I find it magical when the artificial lights start to take over from the light from the sky.
Since that day I've been developing the theme in the studio, and trying some new approaches. In many ways this is easier to do in the studio than en plein air, when it's best to get the job done as quickly as you can (especially in this weather!).
With this one I really wanted to keep the drawing quite fluid, so I started with painting large shapes and masses rather than a linear or drawn approach. If you imagine screwing your eyes up so that you can only see a blurred vision of the subject, that's how I began. 
I carried on with large shapes and then assessed which places needed more definition and which didn't.
I wanted to describe a little more the two central figures and the lights and decoration of the stall, but to leave the background group of figures as loose marks and large shapes. I think it's best this way as the figures look as though they are moving and populate the scene without dominating it.
You can probably tell I really enjoyed the whole process, I think it shows in the juicy paintwork!


Detail showing broad treatment of figures

Thursday, December 11, 2014

June Mendoza ROI

June getting started 

I've had a wonderful two days at the Mall galleries in London. Tuesday was the private view of the Royal Institute of Oil painters exhibition, and I am fortunate to have work included in this wonderful exhibition again this year. It was brilliant as ever to catch up with friends, and I was tempted by many of the paintings. Unfortunately I've blown the painting budget already this year, and I must keep some money aside for tax - yuk! 

June with the sitters, Ian Cryer ROI President and his fiancé Felicity

Yesterday I watched all day as June Mendoza (surely one of our country's finest portrait painters) painted a dual portrait. June explained that she would normally take around five two hour sessions with each sitter separately, so the day would serve to provide a glimpse into her working methods although nothing like a completed painting.
What a fascinating glimpse it was to be able to watch somebody so skilled with eye and hand as the painting developed and the sitters came to life on the canvas.

The demo in the middle of the gallery

There are other events happening during the course of the exhibition that you might be interested in getting to. On Tuesday 16th December there is a tour of the exhibition at 3pm with the President Ian Cryer (the portrait subject in these pictures) and then from 6 - 9pm on the same day it's the Painting Event evening. This is a great chance to paint from the model alongside ROI members or just come along to enjoy the spectacle with a mince pie and a glass of wine. For painting or spectating you need to book tickets by calling 020 7930 6844.

You can see Bill Dean ROI painting in the gallery on Wednesday 17th December from 2 - 4pm, and Tim Benson VPROI working in the gallery on Thursday 18th December from 2 - 4pm.
The exhibition finishes on Sunday 21st December at 1pm and you can get a flavour of the exhibition here

The portrait at the end of the day

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas cards

Chicken huts in the snow

I have been so busy with Christmas things as I like to really leave it until December to get started. Hence a few weeks of present buying, house decorating, food ordering, socialising... I haven't started to write any Christmas cards yet. And as for wrapping, well... 

I've also been working on my website developing the store items so that books and greetings cards can now be purchased easily online direct from my studio, including this new winter card 'Chicken huts in the snow'. I've added about a dozen paintings to the site also, it's worth checking back from time to time to see new ones which become available. My calendars have been so popular that I only have two left as well as one for me out of the 100 I had printed. Be quick if you want one!

I've also been out painting and taking photos at the Christmas market in Lincoln so I hope to show you a few of those paintings very soon! 

Tomorrow I'm off to London for the Royal Institute of Oil painters exhibition, so it will be great to catch up with many friends there, and that will be my first visit of three to the exhibition which ends on Sunday 21st December at 1pm. You can see many of the paintings in the exhibition online if you can't make it to the Mall Galleries. Click here to see the works.

Winter collection of ten cards, two designs

Collectors pack, assorted designs

A peek inside Volume 2 Paintings of light and colour

Take a look at my cards and calendars here :-)

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