Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 2013 year review January to March

Chicken huts in the snow
It's that time of year again for my end of year review, so I'll be taking a few days to look back over all of my artistic events of this year before starting to focus on what's coming next. If you only joined me part way through the year I hope you'll find something of interest here and if you've been with me all the way through I hope you won't mind taking a recap with me. It's been another busy year of fun and travels and opportunity, and being able to spend time with lots of great people who share this passion of mine.

The year began with generous amounts of snowfall in January which meant I was able to get outside a lot to paint one of my favourite subjects - snow! The painting above is definitely one of my top favourites of the year, and was painted in challenging conditions with quite a blizzard at times! The chickens and ducks disappeared and hid whenever the snowfall was heavy.

Painting at Galley Hill allotments

Belton House formal gardens

North Heath lane in snow
I even tackled something I never had before, painting moving figures sledging and playing in the snow, and I loved it! I wanted the snow to stay for longer but I didn't get a chance to paint those sledgers again this year. There is a little video on YouTube of me painting there that you might enjoy.

In February I was a guest artist giving workshops at the SAA 'Its All About Art' event in Manchester and took part in a group exhibition in London on the subject of Venice. I ran a workshop on painting cats in acrylics, and gave demos to local art societies.

In this period I had a couple of articles published in The Artist magazine including one about 'finding your own style' which also became the theme for a couple of workshops.

I was proud of these two self portraits that I painted in early spring, and both were pre-selected for the Royal Society of Portrait painters exhibition in February. I need to paint more portraits, it's something I love to do.

Self portrait with warm backlighting

Self portrait with iPhone 

In March came the trip of a lifetime - painting in Essaouira, Morocco, with Ken Howard RA. In my opinion Ken is the top of the tops here in the UK, and it was such a privilege to be able to get to know him. I didn't spend very much painting time with him because I was so excited by the new surroundings and wanted to choose my own subjects, particularly in the harbour area. We had wonderful group get-togethers in the evening though, and Ken was happy to look over our work while we had the pleasure of viewing all of his work. I only hope I have his energy and stamina when I am in my eighties. 

The fort at Essaouira

Cinnabar green light

Tides at Essaouira

Le médina, Essaouira

Walls of the médina, Essaouira

There was another exciting trip to a new place just around the corner in the next quarter of the year...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Making a mark awards

Leek pickers in Lincolnshire
In between all the festive feasting and socialising I got out with the paints for a couple of hours. This was exactly the subject I was looking for and the weather was kind plus I had permission to paint here. All favourable conditions but I could have done with more time. Maybe I'll get another chance but not today, the weather has turned pretty wild again.

I'm honoured to have been nominated again in the Making a Mark awards 2013, for best landscape picture on an art blog during 2013. There are four categories for best artwork - landscape, nature, portrait/figure and still life. The deadline for voting is tonight at 11.00pm GMT and you can vote for your favourites quite simply by clicking here. Katherine Tyrrell explains the annual awards and the reasons behind her choices plus shares her thoughts on art blogs and as always it makes for interesting reading.

Galley hill allotments in snow
the painting nominated for the award

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you are having a wonderful time whether busy and chaotic or peaceful and calm! Our day has been action packed so far but just now every adult in the house except me is sleeping, which leaves me free to send some seasons greetings to you. I must have been on Santa's 'nice' list and as you can see I just can't wait to use this swish New Wave palette and extra long brushes from Rosemary & Co.

Have a very very happy day my friends xx

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's Kit again!

Kit 2
12" x 16"
I had a fabulous evening down at the Mall Galleries once more for the ROI (Royal Institute of Oil painters) portrait painting evening. I don't know how many artists were painting but it was a large number and we were tightly squeezed in around three models. The painting starts at 6.00pm and the model arrives just before then so you actually set up your easels around an empty chair and don't know who you are going to paint until they come and sit down.

I found my model was Kit again, which I was pleased about as he has an interesting face and hair. Luckily I had a spot very close and his chair was raised up on a plinth which was helpful. The only drawback was that I had a wall behind me so I couldn't step back from the easel at all, not even a couple of feet. Being 'up close' like that made it difficult to see how everything was working together and I really struggled at first with the 'drawing in' stage.

As usual the gallery was packed with painters and spectators and it was good to see old and new friends alike, although there's not much chance to chat once painting is underway!

Kit felt tired under the lights and for about twenty minutes didn't open his eyes at all... and I desperately wanted to paint his eyes! I don't know why I didn't call out to him, just that old ingrained politeness I expect! At one point Peter Barker clapped his hands to wake him which made me chuckle.
I expected that after his next break Kit would come back with open eyes and to my delight he did. By the close of the evening I was really pleased with how my portrait had turned out. Pleased that I'd achieved a likeness, pleased with the colours and freshness and lively brush marks.

I completely forgot to take photos of the event (caught up in all the excitement!) but I've noticed on my friend Peter Barker's blog there are some good ones, so click this link to see those.
I think that fellow bloggers Katherine Tyrell and Adebanji Alade will have a report on the night's events too so I'll keep an eye out for those for you.

While in London I managed a quick visit to the brilliant Peter Brown's exhibition at Messums. Have a look at the online catalogue here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ROI Portrait Masterclass

Portrait of Kit, limited palette
I had a great day in the new learning centre at the Mall Galleries in a portrait masterclass led by Ian Cryer PROI and Tim Benson VPROI. This painting of Kit was using Tim Benson's recommended simple portrait palette of titanium white, lemon yellow, cadmium red, ultramarine, raw umber and alizarin crimson although I hardly used any crimson. I enjoyed the challenge of Kit's silver and grey hair, I found it very colourful. It was quite difficult  to take photos in the room but it gives you the idea. In this one you can see the model and also that's artist Julie Cross working to the left of me.

In this photo you can see artist and blogger Penny German at work -

A very quick one, about 15 minutes

About 45 minutes for this one

I'm looking for volunteers who are coming to my exhibition in Nottingham in January (8th to 18th) to sit for me to paint their portrait, in oils or watercolour. I'm hoping to book one person in each day for a sitting, so please contact me via email if you'd like to be involved. You can email me at thedrawingroomgallery@gmail.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

Royal Institute of Oil portrait preview

I had a really fun few days in London last week visiting the much anticipated Royal Institute of Oil painters exhibition at the Mall Galleries. I was able to catch up with lots of painter friends and meet a few new ones too, lots and lots of chatting. I will get a better chance to look at the actual paintings when I go back this week for the annual portrait painting evening, which feels a bit like a 'works Christmas do' as I'll know so many of the other artists. I can't think of a more fun event than painting a portrait under time pressure in a jam-packed gallery with spectators milling around drinking wine and eating mince pies! Strange to say but I do like a bit of pressure!

Here's a photo of me with my painting 'Galley hill allotments in snow' which I'm thrilled to say sold before the exhibition even opened.

If you can't make it to see the show in person, do have a look here where you can see most of exhibition online.

My friend Adebanji Alade artist has written a really great review based on his experience of the preview day and kindly given mention of my painting 'Sails up in harbour, Paimpol' as seen below (top painting). To see Adebanji's blog post about the exhibition click here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lively still life article

The January issue of The Artist magazine should be out and about in shops in the UK anytime now. In it I have this article about painting vibrant still lifes using acrylics as an underpainting and oils to finish off. Both of these paintings will be framed up for my exhibition in Nottingham in January. 

It's going to be a busy and fun week this week, I have two days in London at the Mall Galleries for the Royal Institute of Oil painters exhibition. Tuesday is the private view and on Wednesday I'm taking part in a figure painting workshop there which will be fun!

I can't wait to see my three paintings hanging, I wonder if they will be next to each other. It's especially exciting that one of them has already sold so I shall see a red dot there! I will also meet up with so many artist friends and it will be great to see everyone. I'll have a better chance to see the paintings in the exhibition when I go back again next week, because on private view day the gallery will be packed.

Peonies and hen

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Back of Millfield Terrace in winter

Back of Millfield Terrace in winter
Watercolour and acrylic ink
Another recent snowy watercolour based on one of my favourite local painting spots, the allotments in Sleaford. 

I started this one with a fairly careful pencil drawing and some blue masking fluid to reserve the highlights. I knew that getting this structure in place early on would enable me to apply the paint and ink freely in later stages.

Firstly the warm sky and reflections in greenhouse glass plus some warmth for the snow in the foreground.

Next I used a mix of ultramarine blue watercolour and sepia acrylic ink diluted with water for the snow in shadow areas and the shadowy backs of the terraced houses, sheds, fences etc.

When that was all dry I went back in with neat ink and a wet brush to confirm all the darkest passages. All that was left to do then was the peeling off of the masking fluid when the paint was dry.

COUNTDOWN!! Only 32 days until my big exhibition begins in Nottingham UK...
8th to 18th January 2014 10.30am - 4.00pm at 71 Friar Lane Nottingham NG1 6DH

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Orchard in the snow

Orchard in the snow
Watercolour and gouache

The days are too short and too dark at the moment, and now we have 70mph gales! On Tuesday our heating stopped working but luckily it was fixed yesterday. Then today we've had a power cut lasting most of the afternoon, but fortunately it's back on just in time for darkness falling. Amazing what you miss without electricity ... heating, wifi, phone and coffee to name just a few!

Anyway here's a cheery scene, a glowing watercolour that I painted recently. There's no actual snow here yet but they're saying blizzards are on their way so watch this space...

I started with wet into wet watercolour for the yellow and orange glow, and while this wash was still damp I used a darker warm colour to start to describe the background tree shapes.

Closer trees and a little bit of fence went in next...

Establishing the darkest darks is tricky to get right in watercolour, remember it dries a lot lighter than it looks when you put it on. It's a good idea to have a little test sheet nearby to try out your colours on.

Some purple shadow washes and the addition of a few chickens in watercolour, and then I finished off in gouache putting some warm whites back into the sunlit snow.

If you're in Scotland, Wales, the north of England or East Anglia, especially by the coast, I hope you manage ok tonight with the storms. 

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