Wednesday, January 30, 2013

North Heath Lane in snow

North Heath Lane in snow

Our snow has all gone now, but here's another one from last week. It was Monday and we had about four or five inches of snow settle overnight. The local roads were pretty dangerous that day and I decided I'd rather not drive anywhere if I could help it.  So I took my paints out on a sledge and headed up this hill away from the village. The effect of looking back towards the village and hill behind was lovely and soft and muted - things which don't come easily to me with painting but I'm trying hard to introduce softness and blending where it is needed!

Now that the snow has gone outside, I'm working on snow inside the studio - the painting based on the sketch of the ponies that I showed you last week. I'm not sure how it's going - it's exciting and terrifying all at the same time. It's not very often that I don't have the subject in front of me! Well I do have the line drawing in front of me, but no colour notes which also makes it quite freeing.

It's amazing that in the space of a few days all this snow has gone, and this lane is now back to it's default winter setting - mud!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snow on the beach, Sutton on sea

Snow on the beach, Sutton on sea

Yesterday I thought it might be nice to have a change from painting snow, so headed over to Sutton on sea again and would you believe it? I was amazed to find the beach was covered in snow!
So here we are - first time I've ever painted snow on a beach and I think it's the first time I've ever seen snow on a beach...

I used one of my 8" x 16" wooden panels for this, and at the time I was really unsure about how it was going but after getting it home and warming up (and quite a few favourable comments) I've really warmed to the painting too. I think the snowy beach looks like a snowy beach, and that's a good thing!

Last visit here was in November, and I did a similar format painting looking exactly in the same direction...

No snow in November!

Looking very serious... or cold.. or thinking about chips and mushy peas...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Galley hill allotments in the snow

Galley hill allotments in snow

Here's a better look at my painting from Tuesday, at the allotments. In the actual painting there is more in the way of subtle colour variation - for example on this photo the brightest white snow looks all the same when in fact there's a subtle variation of added lemon yellow and/or magenta. Hopefully I'll learn how to take better photos this year!
It's not too bad though, it gives you the general idea. I'm really happy I had an opportunity to paint some shadows on snow. Much of our snow has melted away now - anybody got a lovely snowman photo to send me?
Here is Cameron and Katie's - he's a beauty! Thank you!

Have a great weekend everyone :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lily's gift

I've a few bits and bobs for you today. I've had a really good day getting on with some of the work I've fallen behind with due to my snow obsession! I've also been taking photos of my snow paintings so I'll be able to show you better images of those.
Yesterday I went out with the intention of painting but only managed this drawing of a horse beside it's ramshackle stable and I just love the snowman. He looks as though he is surrendering! I've always wanted to paint snowmen.
Anyway, I've started a large-ish studio painting on the basis of this sketch which I'm quite excited about at the moment. The tricky thing will be keeping up the momentum, as you know I really need to get outside to paint from life, it's my passion.
I'd like to try more studio work based on my plein air studies, it's an avenue I want to explore. I really like this quote from Kevin Macpherson - "Indoor and outdoor painting are complementary experiences. As memories of nature breathe life into your studio work, the disciplined approaches and principles you practice indoors will enable you to attack the canvas outdoors in new ways"

This is the lovely photo of Ken Howard that I took at his exhibition last week. As I was sitting talking to him a lady came along and pulled out a painting from her bag wrapped in a little bubble wrap. It was a self portrait that he'd painted when he was 22 years old! It had obviously been in the lady's family for a very long time and was wonderful to see. Ken is hoping to exhibit it at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition alongside a current self portrait, aged 80.

I had a very nice surprise in the post yesterday! My youngest blog subscriber is Lily, a little girl who lives in Normandy in France and she has made me this wonderful keyring! Isn't that just so adorable and kind? 
Merci beaucoup Lily! Ça me plaît énormément! Gros bisous à toi :-)

Today I discovered that my painting (Ice cream shed) is on the front cover of the next issue of The Artist magazine, and my article on how to find your own style is now featured online on the website so you can have a sneak peek before the magazine hits the shops!

Finally, I spotted this snow family in my village! Please email me a picture if you've spotted any fun snowman or snowlady- I never tire of seeing them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Allotments in the snow

The painting on the easel a few minutes before I left

I am happy to tell you we still have snow and I'm finding time to get out amongst it and paint as often as I can. I've had eight painting trips in the last eight days so I have a few things to show you when I get around to taking photos of them! Everything else in my house and work is going a bit to pot but I just want to get as much out of it as I can while it's here :-)

This is today's! I had an unscheduled trip to Sleaford and not a lot of time to spare before an appointment (an hour and a half in all) so of course I headed to the allotments. What a heavenly scene! When I arrived, the sun was bright in the sky casting cool crisp shadows around. I didn't know where to look at first but then this scene really grabbed me. I loved the contrast between the sunlit snow on the shed roofs and the dark of the buildings behind. My secondary motivation was the cool blue shadows on the snow cast by the fence and sheds in contrast with the large clean bright area of snow. 
I couldn't wait to get started and knew I would have to be quick, and I would have to be bold...

No time for drawing with the brush, I started straight away to mass in the dark shapes of the sheds.

The sun was in my eyes when I was taking these photos and I wasn't sure if they would work or not but luckily they did!

The darks of the red brick terraced houses were the next to go in. I didn't have time to be careful about chimney pots or anything, just blocked it all in with a big brush, trying to leave shapes for windows. 

The next most important thing about my subject was the shadows on the snow so I started to block those in quickly, and the snow on the roofs behind. I knew I would have to get this snow dark enough or the whole idea would fall flat. This painting is all about the contrast.
Although it looks here as though my board was white to start with, it was actually undercoated with a light-mid warm grey.
I do confess though, at this stage I did panic a little - was that snow too blue? too dark? Were the houses too red? (Was it all a bit ghastly?!)
I knew all would be revealed as I continued to cover areas of the board with colour, and consoled myself that I could mute all these colours down later if need be.

Time to bring some more definition into the dark areas. I don't know what those black shapes are hidden in the snow but I thought they looked great with their snow blankets. 
By now the sun had gone behind thick cloud. Good job I had all those shadows in place.

The joy I felt at this stage! I started to apply the brightest snow and it was as if somebody had switched on a light! It was then that I knew all those dark tones had paid off, this was exactly the effect I was after.
I didn't use pure white, but enhanced it with a little lemon yellow for brightness, particularly on the surfaces nearer the sun. Much of the white in the foreground had a touch of magenta added.

I only spent an hour and a half here including setting up and packing away. I'm pleased that I managed to say what I wanted to say about my subject today. All this snow is getting me so excited!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sledgers in the snow

Sledgers at Belmont Tower, Grantham

I was really smitten with this subject yesterday. I wanted to go back today to see fresh snow but unfortunately we've had no further snowfall today or during the night. I did achieve a snow painting though, in the gardens of Belton House.

Here's a short video filmed yesterday (on an iPhone!) of me painting this at Belmont tower. It's lovely to feel the ambience of being there. I warn you though - you may feel the need for a hot chocolate after watching this!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pony in the snow

Pony in the snow

This is my fairly quick afternoon painting from Tuesday. The pony didn't stay in that position for long! And please don't think it has an odd shaped body - it was wearing a coat (sensible). This one and the chicken huts one were painted on the wooden panels primed with the clear gesso.
We are due more snow tomorrow. At the moment we have patches of ice that look like snow! I did get out painting for a couple of hours this afternoon but didn't get it finished. It might be worth me taking it back on site though, a railway cottage about five miles away.

I had a fantastic day in London yesterday seeing Ken Howard's exhibition. At one point I was sitting down talking to Ken and a lady came along with a self portrait that he'd done when he was 22 years old! It was wonderful to see! I have a photo but I'll need to seek permission before I can show it to you here. 

I've been burning the candle at both ends as usual so tonight I feel the need for an early night with a cup of hot chocolate and a few choice art books! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chicken huts in the snow

Chicken huts in the snow
This is yesterday's painting, produced during constant snowfall. I'm quite pleased with it now that I see it again, and the conditions were pretty challenging! My friend suggested I use it as next year's Christmas card design which I think is a brilliant idea! Also, if I get around to producing a calendar for 2014, this could be January :-)
Today was very different as no new snow fell here, and in fact yesterday's snow thawed a lot throughout the day. We have a lot less now and need a top up!
I managed two paintings today and both featured snow and animals. I'll show you those next.

I can't paint tomorrow as I'm going to London to see the famous new Royal portrait and then Ken Howard's new exhibition at the Richard Green gallery. How exciting! I will miss painting in the snow but am looking forward to catching up with painter friends.
Will hopefully get a few words with Ken Howard too although I expect he will be surrounded at all times!

Monday, January 14, 2013


I was so excited to wake up to snow this morning! All other work plans had to go out of the window I'm afraid, snow is so rare and so special around here! We're lucky if we get six days of snow in a year, and so when it comes I have to drop everything and paint it. It's the law.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Coffee and cake with friends

Coffee and cake with friends

A painted sketch from yesterday afternoon, with friends enjoying coffee and birthday cakes at Sarah's house. Friday afternoon, two o clock, everything stops for coffee. It's our tradition dating back about seven years. Before that, we used to meet for coffee on Friday mornings while our children played in ball pools :-)
This is the kind of subject I always want to paint. An hour wasn't quite long enough but I'm pleased with what I got down in that time. Managed to eat cake and drink coffee too, of course.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sorolla and panels

After Sorolla 'Pasajes de San Pedro'

I don't know if I have ever told you this but Joaquin Sorolla is one of my favourite top three all time best ever painters. He's not widely known of in the UK which is strange - I never heard his name during any of my art education or art history lessons but discovered him for myself while still a student. I've realised in recent years that his work is highly rated in the United States - well done to you my American friends!
I painted this small study on Arches huile - oil painting paper, and it felt great! I was really surprised at how easy it is to move the paint around and continue to blend, and it looks exactly like watercolour paper which was another surprise!

Have a guess and see if you know who my other two all time top artists are!

I got these in the post today and I'm super excited about using them!

Jacksons wooden panels

They are a smooth plywood panel with 20mm wooden bracing on the back and they look SO beautiful don't they?  I can't wait to try painting on them. They need priming and because I love the warm colour of the wood I'm going to use a clear gesso primer.
I may actually find them too smooth for my liking but I'll let you know. It's love at first sight so far!
I bought them from

I've been really busy with emails today - everybody is booking into my 2013 local workshops suddenly! They've only been on the website a few days and three of the eleven are fully booked already. If you're around Lincolnshire/ Nottinghamshire you can see the whole list here :-)

So... as well as Sorolla, who do you think are my other top two artistic heroes?

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