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 :-)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hanging out the sheets

Hanging out the sheets
Oils 12" x 16"

This is definitely one of my favourite paintings (and subjects) from the last trip to Venice. Parts of this were reworked a little bit back in the studio, and I find there are some very pleasing passages. I have photos of this scene including passing gondolas so I don't think I'll be stopping with this motif yet...

But I'm driving off to London today to deliver this special one along with two other Venice faves and a couple of London scenes to the Russell Gallery in Putney for their winter show.

I'm also meeting a couple of artist friends for lunch who I don't see very often so that will be a great treat!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Last hour

Last hour on the beach
Oils 16" x 20" SOLD

I painted this en plein air on the French island of Bréhat this summer. It was fairly late afternoon when I got started, a very hot day, and the tide was going out. It was the usual race against the clock, and it was important to get a statement down quickly about the sea and where it reached to on the sand and pinky rocks. 
I was very grateful for the can of cold drink on my easel that Tim brought me. Some local and Parisian friends stopped to say hello. I didn't want to take my eyes from the subject!
So funny, the things you remember. Every plein air painting has a story like no other. This one takes me right back to lazy hot August days on the island.

I'm very happy to say that this painting will be exhibited in the forthcoming Royal Institute of Oil painters exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London. The exhibition is open from the 10th to the 21st December, closing at 1pm on the final day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Portrait of Shirley


I painted a portrait demo today at Patchings art centre, in the middle of my exhibition. Shirley was my patient model, and a really lovely crowd of people came to watch. Matthew in the gallery looked after us well as always. I have just one more painting session in the gallery, it's on Saturday 22nd if you'd like to join me.
I also met a few Facebook/Twitter friends for the first time in person today, thank you for coming such a long way John and Chris, I really appreciate it and am glad to have met you. I might pop back on Facebook for my birthday at the weekend - a birthday treat!

Now I really must say a big hello to Shirley's friend Dimitra who lives on Spetses Island, which sounds like a gorgeous place! Hello!

And now I find myself on a train to London in the dark to meet my husband to catch a train to Paris! How fun!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Oasis in Chelsea

Oasis in Chelsea
26" x 28"

This is a recent studio painting, the inspiration for which came from my visit to Chelsea in July for Pintar Rapido. This is the market place that I painted but the day before the event there were no market stalls and instead children played in these water jets. I was absolutely captivated by the subject with the bright sparkling water seen against the dark buildings in shadow. 
I really enjoyed building up glazes of colour for the darks, something that is only really possible in studio paintings with the benefit of drying time. The wet and dry, sunlit and shaded pavement area was a challenge! I tried to give the children's figures a loose treatment, to add an element of confusion, movement and splashing water.
I'm not altogether decided if it's finished, but it is hanging on my studio wall so I can glance at it occasionally and maybe I'll dip back in.

I'm taking a little holiday from Facebook so I am sorry if you are used to seeing me on there. My blog posts will still automatically update to it because frankly I can't be doing with figuring out how to stop that right now! I will be popping back on from time to time. And if you miss me you can still find me on twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Why? Well I find those easy to dip in and out of, they just don't take up my time in the same way. 

Today (Wednesday 12th November) I will be painting a portrait demo at Patchings art centre. Still a few days left if you haven't seen my big exhibition there yet - it finishes on the 23rd.
Thank you Paul for coming all the way from Canada - you should really get a prize! :-)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

San Giovanni e Paolo

Morning shadows San Giovanni e Paolo
Oils 24 x 30 cms

It has certainly turned chilly here this week! This is one of the plein air studies that I brought back from Venice in October. I was standing on the bridge looking down at the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo in the morning. I really liked the long shadows cast by the Colleone statue and buildings and posts, and I knew I would have to act quickly to get them down and in so doing not worry too much about the drawing of the statue and column. The facing buildings, all in shadow, could be described quite rapidly. I just needed to be fairly careful about the rooflines and how they all fitted together, and then I could block in the dark shapes with just a suggestion of windows.
This was painted in oils on a small panel, 24 x 30 cms.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Autumn at Pull's ferry

Autumn at Pulls ferry

My final painting from the Paint Out Norwich sessions was to paint at Pulls ferry, which was very convenient as it's just near the Hostry where the exhibition was being hung as we painted. Again this is a pretty little area which I'm sure is often depicted in paint. In fact, one of the other artists told me at lunchtime that there are only two views here. So, I wanted to do something a bit different. As was becoming usual me and Mo arrived here late. But at least we did get lunch this day.
And I'm happy I found a slightly different view when I focussed on the reflection in the water. I loved the stillness giving a crisp clear reflection and the autumn leaves scattered on the water like confetti.
It also amused me to hear all the spectators saying I was painting upside down - which actually I wasn't, but I can see why they would think that.
Luckily, the hanging team got it on the nail the right way up.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

City fish

City fish
14" x 18"

Work in progress

This was my first painting of the four sessions at the Paint Out Norwich event. It was a really chilly morning but dry, and I was happy in my woolly hat and fingerless gloves. I'd chosen my viewpoint when I'd had a quick recce the afternoon before which was a really good job, as it happens! Me and Mo were caught up in lots of traffic on the drive in to Norwich that morning, and by the time we'd parked up and got our canvasses stamped and down to the market place and set up (in my case fetching a nourishing breakfast cappuccino on my way to my painting spot) there was only about two and a quarter hours left of the three hour session.
I don't mind a bit of time pressure, you know! In fact I had a great morning and really enjoyed painting this, and the banter with the passers by and the workers from the fish stall. It was quite a complicated subject because of the variety of natural and artificial lighting, and polished reflections. I did my best to simplify what I was seeing. The customer with the flat cap appeared quite early on and I'm really pleased that I managed to note him down quickly, and I think that he has a pleasing sense of weight and character about him.
If you can get to Norwich the exhibition continues at the Hostry only until Saturday, and is well worth a visit. In total there are 110 paintings there all created during the two day event, including this one and my three others.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Huge excitement, Paint Out Norwich

Work in progress, Elm Hill

Work to be done, Elm Hill
Oils 16" x 20"
And breathe... it's all been a bit of a whirlwind week so here's a bit of an explanation...

On Tuesday the selected artists for the first Paint Out Norwich event met together with the organisers and volunteers, which is when I last spoke with you (enjoying the chips and sweatshirts!).
On Wednesday morning I painted in Norwich market, it was heaps of fun but the constant chatting with onlookers meant the three hours passed quickly... at lunchtime I just had time to get the painting framed up and ready for the afternoon session and missed out on lunch. In the afternoon I painted here on Elm Hill, again, within the three hour time frame. This was a pretty big canvas for plein air, at 16" x 20". When I arrived I was surprised to see the scaffolding and the road closed signs. There was also a white van and a slightly bashed blue car parked right in front of the lovely yellow house. At first the sun was out and the plane tree was casting wonderful shadows across the building's facade. Well, you know I love a challenge so I had to give it a go... roadworks and all!
The blue car left after around twenty minutes, so I had to try to paint over it and ignore the fact that it was there, although you can still see the ghost of it. Somebody leant a bike up against Stamp corner so that went in. The sun went away but I'd already placed the shadows early on. The foreground was always in the shade and constant (apart from all the vehicles coming and turning!). The lady in the craft shop came outside and said she wasn't happy about me being there but no, she didn't want me to move 'as I had already started'. I was heartened by visitors who enjoyed what I was doing, especially the lady from the Britons Arms coffee shop who was delighted that I was including the scaffolding rather than painting a typical 'picture postcard' view of Elm Hill. 
At 4.30 my time was up and after cleaning up it was time to head back to the Maddermarket theatre to get this one signed back in and framed. Ended up having a lovely dinner in a big group before driving with Mo back to the cottage and getting up early to do it all again on Thursday.
Thursday morning found me and Mo painting at the Roman Catholic cathedral, back to the Maddermarket for a quick soup lunch and then on to Pulls ferry for our last painting session of the event. 
When we returned with our final paintings the exhibition had mostly been hung at the Hostry, with the hanging team waiting for the last paintings of the event to arrive. We left them to it and went for a bite to eat nearby. Had a quick change from my painting clothes when we got back to the Cathedral, and it was nearly 7 o clock and people were arriving for the evening auction. I think you're starting to forgive me for not having time to blog?!
After an hour or so of chatting it was time for the auction, which included one painting from each artist. It was pretty exciting but a bit nervewracking too! I will definitely come prepared to bid next year.
And after all of that it was soon time for the prizegiving, and I was absolutely amazed and over the moon to be awarded the first prize of £1000 with my painting of the Elm Hill roadworks!!!  
Then all those photos to be taken while I was in a state of shock... then driving back for two and a half hours in the middle of the night... still in a state of happy shock!

The prizewinners
Chris Daynes, me, Roy Connelly

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On the road again!

It's been a busy and fun couple of weeks including the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition preview at the Mall Galleries which is always one of my favourite days out! This is a demo painting from last week at Kirby Bellars Group of Artists, an extremely enjoyable evening. Thanks very much to Ray for being a super model. I will be painting another portrait demo at Patchings art centre on the 9th November, I do hope you can join me there.

And now I have arrived in Norwich for the first Paint Out Norwich event. Twenty eight artists are here to take part and you can read all about it on the website at http://www.paintoutnorwich.org/about/
I think the photo below was taken by Helen, it makes me laugh because I look very relaxed and as though I have completely settled in! We had just been spoiled with our Paint Out Norwich sweatshirts and plates of tasty chips though :-)
Today, lots of chatting, and tomorrow we start the work. In the morning (22nd October) I'll be painting at Norwich market from 9.00 until 12.00 so do please come and say hello if you can get here. In the afternoon I will be painting on Elm Hill. Artists will be delivering wet paintings to the Maddermarket theatre throughout the event. 
And I will try to blog pictures tomorrow!

With Gerald Green, Janet Poole, Roy Connelly, Mo Teeuw & Richard Bond

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Portrait of the artist's mother

Meet my sweet little Mum! On Saturday I painted her portrait in the middle of my exhibition in the Barn gallery at Patchings art centre. We had such a lovely day and so many friends came to watch the painting take shape. It was a lovely atmosphere, thanks to everyone who came and to the brilliant team at Patchings as always. We had a really great day.
Although I've sketched her over the years I think the last painting I did of my mum was the one below, painted when I was still a student 22 years ago!
I am really enjoying the quick portraits that I've been able to do this year, I hope to get some more done this winter so let me know if you'd be interested in sitting for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Early morning, Santa Maria della Salute

Early morning, Santa Maria della Salute
Oils 24 x 30 cms

It's nice to recall while watching the rain lashing down outside my cosy studio today that this time last week I was painting in beautiful Venice. I was really pleased with this one, painted on the Accademia bridge very early on Friday morning as the sun was rising.
It's such a difficult time to paint as the sun moves so quickly, and as it gets higher into the sky it brings more definition into everything you can see. If you start trying to keep up with this before you know it you're attempting to paint all the tiny windows and doors that you can see, and the buildings get darker as well as more clearly defined.
I really wanted to stick to my initial impression of the softness and muted greys of the buildings, the warm orange from the sky reflected into the sea and the relative darkness of the boats against the water.
I'm happy that I stopped as soon as I felt I'd 'said it'.

Painting in situ

I was also happy that I'd captured the difficult transition between the cool areas of water and the hot orange reflected light, and that I'd done so with a brevity of marks and colour.

Wyllis Heaton at work
It was a real pleasure to be painting alongside friends from the US and UK on that morning, and then to go off for a chocolate croissant and cappuccino afterwards. :-)

Penny German, Felicity House, Louisa Calder, Kelly Medford and Ann Justin

Spectacular San Marco light display
This time last week this amazing spectacle of light greeted me at San Marco, shortly before a rainbow appeared in an arc right over the top of the campanile.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Back from Venice to my show opening

Back from Venice haul

At my new solo exhibition

What a jet set lifestyle this week! From Norfolk to Venice, from Venice to home at 3.30 am yesterday, to the opening of my brand new exhibition at 11.00 am after a couple of hours of sleep. I felt absolutely brilliant though and had a thoroughly nice day at Patchings, thank you to everybody who managed to come to the opening day and to all the team at Patchings who did such a brilliant job hanging the exhibition and taking care of everything. Today I've had a lovely family day and tomorrow I'm raring to get back to work.

One thing I want to do tomorrow is take a look at the fourteen paintings that I managed to bring back from Venice with me, here's a sneak peek as I managed to get them out of the suitcase this morning. I'll show you better photos of them as I get them.

And don't worry there's still plenty of time to see my exhibition as it's open until the 23rd of November. I shall be there next on Saturday 11th October from 11.00 am and I'll be painting a portrait in the gallery.

I will then be painting a portrait for the Kirby Bellars group of artists on Monday 13th, attending the Royal Society of Marine Artists preview on Tuesday 14th, and a RSMA workshop on Wednesday 15th and running a workshop at Patchings on the 16th. Before the end of October I must also finish and frame my ROI entries, take part in a two day plein air event in Norwich and have a week in France with the family so no worries about October being boring...
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