Saturday, October 31, 2015

Redwings at Looe

Redwings at Looe
14" x 18"

One of my favourite paintings of the year so far. I feel that the vigorous sketchy nature of the brush marks reflect my excitement and passion for the subject. I lay in wait for hours for the racing to finish and the boats to come ashore and then I ran around with my camera like a woman possessed, in and out of the water. Moments like this are so special and so fleeting that I didn't think I would achieve very much if I attempted a plein air piece. Instead I decided to gather as much information with my camera as I could which I could then use for a series of studio paintings. This is the first and it all came together so easily, I was right back there on the beach with wet legs and a silly grin on my face :-)

This painting is currently on show in the Barn gallery at Patchings Art Centre. I have six paintings in a group exhibition with other artists who won the exhibition prize at The Artist magazine exhibition there last year. It's a smashing exhibition and it's on until the 22nd November so do make a trip to see it if you can. You could even make a day of it if visiting from the 13th November because my solo show 'A lighter touch' will be open in Nottingham city centre a couple of miles away.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Warm evening waves

Warm evening waves
6" x 12"

I was recently interviewed by my friends at New Wave Palettes in Pennsylvania. They make the best palettes, as anyone who's ever seen me demonstrate with my 'grand view confidant' will know!

You can read the full interview here :-)

Painting in regency dress with my New Wave palette

This painting is available to purchase now direct from my studio :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How important is drawing?

I was recently asked if I could write a guest blog post for my friend Lori Putnam, on any subject of my choosing. I decided I would write my thoughts about what drawing means to me, and why I think it matters so much for an artist to draw regularly from life.

How important is drawing? Do I need to learn to draw or can I just skip that and get straight to painting?
Occasionally I come across a student whose face drops when I mention the discipline of drawing practice. Somewhere along the line they have picked up the belief that drawing skills elude them and are nursing a hope that it’s not that important to being able to paint, which is what they really want to do anyway. After all there are plenty of techniques out there to lean on if your drawing skills are lacking – grids, tracing, projecting, carbon transfer paper …although admittedly these things are not so easy to use in the field.

I feel extremely fortunate to have had a love for drawing stretching back to my childhood, as far as I can remember. For me drawing was the most natural of ways to try and make sense of the world. I seem to have a primordial appetite for visually recognising shapes.

As far as I’m concerned, being able to draw accurately from life, far from being restrictive, is actually a pathway to freedom. Drawing underpins everything in the context of figurative painting. It doesn’t matter how good one is at mixing colour or applying the paint, if the drawing has failed the painting has failed. Artists sometimes remark that although they are generally happy with one genre they can’t paint ‘..….’, fill in the blank here with ‘boats’, ‘figures’ or ‘horses’. Students often show a struggle with perspective. The fundamental problem here is lack of drawing practise. When you can competently draw from life, no subject matter will ever feel out of bounds to you.

Why draw particularly from life? How is it different to drawing from paintings or photos? When we draw from life we are bombarded with information about the world before us which we see in three dimensions, and using basic materials we are having to translate and simplify that information onto a flat surface, in a convincing manner. The skills involved are a long way away from copying something that is already two dimensional such as a photograph. That’s not to say I don’t think it’s worthwhile to ever sketch from the static image as any drawing practise is better than none, but it hasn’t taken you through that all important process of interpretation. I would say be aware that it’s the process of drawing from life regularly that’s going to have the fastest and most profound impact on your painting skills, so make every effort to get into a daily habit of even just ten minutes. If you fall out of the habit, as I do from time to time, make every effort to get back into it as soon as you can.

The drawings in your sketchbook don’t have to relate closely to your painting work. This year my sketchbooks are full of faces and figures. I mainly paint marine landscapes. Drawing for it’s own sake is hugely important to me, and when I am in a regular drawing practise I can feel the benefits within my paintings. I feel sharper, more visually ‘tuned in’ and also more open and inspired. The paint flows from my brush more smoothly. Tiny choirs of winged angels hover above my easel singing softly. Ok, so the last sentence wasn’t quite true but you get the idea.

Drawing is the artists way of learning from the world around us, it is a conversation between you and nature with the only intermediary being the tool you use to draw with. It’s also about personal growth, and there’s something immensely satisfying about working privately in your sketchbook for your own interest and improvement in these fast paced times where photos are snapped and shared worldwide in a matter of seconds. I use drawing as meditation, a chance to check in with my deeper self.  Do you incorporate drawing into your working practise? I would love to hear what drawing means to you.

Read the full version of this post on Lori's blog by clicking here. Also tune in to Lori's blog for the whole month because she has invited to her #bestblogpartyever so many fascinating speakers and I am getting so much out of reading all the posts.

Also I have just added a gallery page of some of my favourite drawings to my website and you can see those by clicking here :-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition

Evening light, Polperro harbour

For me when autumn comes around I know it's the time of year for lovely gallery visits to London to begin. 
Firstly it's the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition which starts with the Friends evening on Monday and then the preview today. The exhibition opens at the Mall Galleries to the public tomorrow (Wednesday 14th October) and continues until the 25th October, on which day it closes at 1.00pm. I hope you can make it. If you love marine paintings you really should try to get there.

I'm extremely grateful to have had two works accepted again in this prestigious and inspirational annual show.

Nothing beats seeing the stunning work in this exhibition with your own eyes but you can get a taster by seeing works in the exhibition online here.

Morning light, Guernsey

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Little girl in an armchair

Little girl in an armchair
8" x 10"

The little girl in the armchair is actually Irene, the daughter of talented artist Michele del Campo. Maybe she will grow up to be an artist too. 

It's so hard to stop a painting when you've said enough, but it's what I'm always striving to do. Recognise when I've said enough. I find it especially hard where faces are involved. The face factor, as C.W Mundy would call it. He is quite right in saying that as viewers we are naturally drawn to any part of a painting that represents a human face. I might play around with that idea in future a lot. 

I'm really happy with the freshness of this, the vigorous nature of the brush marks. The thin paint, the underpaint still showing and the thick opaque paint. I find a lot to be excited about here.

In other news...

I've rebuilt my whole website! Yes it took a great many hours that I'd rather have spent at the easel but I am really happy now that it's done. I've learnt so much and I feel like my website reflects my personality better now. (One day I will tackle this blog but that's another story!)
There are still improvements that I need to make but keeping up a website does require regular maintenance anyway so I'll just continue to do bits here and there when I can.

Please do take a look around!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mary Cassatt study and a poem

Study after Mary Cassatt

I am juggling rather a lot of balls and I'm afraid I've let the one marked 'blog' slip a bit. I'm going full pelt on Instagram though if that's any consolation. No?
Here's a study after Mary Cassatt and a poem about September, by way of apology x


The golden-rod is yellow
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.
The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.
The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.
From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.
But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.
'T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

Helen Hunt Jackson
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