Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fabulous studio gadget

Waste not, want not

Every now and then something very cool comes into my life that I want to tell you all about, because I think you will love it too. I've recently invested in a tube wringer and I'd certainly have got one sooner had I known how easy it makes completely emptying a paint tube - saving every precious drop for the palette!

Crinkle cut

It was fairly expensive to buy but it will save me so much paint that would otherwise have been wasted, and when you use professional and handmade paint you know that's well worth saving.
Not only is it economically sensible but it is SO much fun to crinkle up your tubes like crisps!

All wrung out

I warn you it's strangely addictive... and it was one of those purchases that I wasn't sure when I ordered it how much I would actually use it...

The tube wringer is made in the US so I'm sure it will be easy enough to purchase if you live over there, and here in the UK it is available to buy from Jacksons Art ... and no, I'm not getting paid commission! Click here if interested :-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Old Bank Studios

Giving a demo

Almost two weeks have gone since we last spoke! I haven't painted much since then, we travelled back to England from France and had a four day working week due to a bank holiday Monday. One of those days I drove into the centre of London to deliver some works for the Society of Women Artists exhibition. The other three days were taken up with admin, bookings, photography, printing, framing, shopping, haircut and preparing for my workshop at Old Bank Studios. Oh and an interview for a forthcoming feature in the Lincolnshire Journal magazine. No wonder that week went quickly.

The seascapes workshop on Saturday was a really great day in a fantastic venue with lovely people. Here are some photos of the day. I was bowled over by the quality of the work produced, some of which is shown here. Thanks to Nigel and Bev for the photos and for everything.

Student work

Student work

Student work

Student work

Student work

I know, amazing job all round! I'm looking forward to returning next year :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In the Bréhat garden

Milly and Maisie in the Bréhat garden



Combining my two loves of painting plein air and figure painting has been on the back of my mind for many years and gradually, softly, I'm encouraging the shy little idea to come forwards so that I can start to act on it. Artists reading this, you will probably know what I mean here. Sometimes it's the very thing we want to do most that is the thing we push away and don't get around to doing.
So this year I'm determined not to let the summer months pass without persuading/cajoling/paying models to come outside with me and spend a few hours while I paint. Maybe even humour me by wearing a funny hat once in a while.
Lots more quick studies like this may lead on to larger studio works in the winter.

For this painting I had a session of two hours in the garden on Tuesday, and then another hour or so in the garden yesterday without my models. Milly was only asked to pose for a total of one hour and five minutes. When I was mainly painting the grasses and foliage I didn't need her to be there.
As for Maisie, the dog, she wouldn't stay where I wanted for more than five minutes, so I had to paint in her head afterwards with the help of a photo taken on my ipad.

This is oils 14" x 14"

I'm afraid I couldn't take a very good photo of the painting what with the open weave of the canvas and the shiny nature of the wet darks but you get the gist of it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter holidays

Port Clos at low tide

I'm now with the family on Bréhat for the final week of the Easter holidays and we've been blessed with sunshine so I'm going to be taking it a bit easier for a few days. Having said that in the two days we've been here I've managed three not quite finished paintings of which this is one. I'm hoping to take this one back down to the port for a bit of finishing off at the same time of day at some point this week. I like the zig zag lines of the causeway and the ropes and the seaweed coming across to the boat from the left. When I started painting this the sky was overcast but later the sun came out giving me those lovely spots of sparkling light on the wet sand in the foreground.
This is oils on a cradled wooden panel, 14" x 10".

There are spaces available on a full day seascapes workshop that I'm running at the Old Bank studios, Harwich Essex, on Saturday 26th April. The £65 for the day includes a delicious lunch and refreshments as well as colour photos and notes to take home from the day. If you think you'd like to join me you can book with Old Bank studios, or if you know anybody in that area who might like to come please let them know about it too. Thanks!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sparkling light at St Mawes

Sparkling light at St Mawes
Oils 10" x 12"
On Friday we went over to sunny Portscatho to see lovely Mark at the Harbour Gallery and catch up over a delicious lunch overlooking the beach. Then we went for a drive around the area and I ended up painting this in St Mawes. It was my first ever visit to St Mawes and it made quite an impression on me with this dazzling light display behind the busy little harbour. I will definitely be back!
Oils 10" x 12"

Then yesterday we left Cornwall for France and we've now arrived on the île de Bréhat for the second week of the Easter holidays.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Penzance dry dock

Penzance dry dock

I completed this painting in two sessions which is unusual for me. I did about an hour and a half with it on Tuesday late afternoon and then went back at the same time of day yesterday and spent another hour or just over. I like the dark silhouetted shapes of the buildings against the sky and the bright green mossy strip along the sunlit tin roof of the dry dock sheds.
I was fairly careful with the 'drawing' in of the buildings as I wanted everything to be accurately related, so I really enjoyed being able to treat the water with large loose brush strokes.
This is oils on canvas, 12" x 16"

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sennen cove

On the slipway at Sennen

I wasn't 'feeling the love' at Mousehole yesterday morning. There was a spot I wanted to paint but when I got there the tide was wrong and the light was... well... wrong too. So we ended up driving over to Sennen only to be greeted by glorious sunshine and clear blue skies! After a dog walk and a relaxing lunch in the sunshine I ended up painting this on the slipway. I was rather taken by the contrast of the clear blue sky and turquoise sea with the dark shaded wall behind the boat. Shame I didn't manage to get any figures in but I'm quite happy with what I've ended up with. It seems to have that harsh glare of dazzling light about it. The kind that has you reaching for your sunglasses.

This is oils on canvas, 12" x 16"


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bedruthan steps

It was a beautiful day yesterday and we enjoyed a drive over to the north coast of Cornwall. I painted at the National Trust owned Bedruthan steps. I've never before seen this place on a clear day with no rain so it was such a treat! There's also easy parking, a nice tearoom, gorgeous walks and I found a spot out of the wind to paint. Needless to say I really enjoyed myself here :-)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I'm back in glorious Cornwall for a few days and then travelling straight to France, so here's hoping the 'remote' posting to blog works this time!
Yesterday afternoon I painted St Michael's mount at Marazion. I've never actually been this close to the mount before, so I felt it was something that had to be done! I was fortunate to have the wet sand and reflections and the sky was a beautiful blue with bright scudding clouds.
What you can't see from either the painting or the photos though is how strong the wind was! Woah! I had a bag of rocks tied to my tripod and I could barely get my hand to do what my brain was wanting it to do.
This is oils, 8" x 16"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday market, Morocco

Sunday market, Morocco
Oils 22" x 34"
And here's the finished painting. It's a very different subject for me and I'm pleased that I've fairly well managed to capture the dustiness and the bright light and heat. Hopefully I've also been able to handle the figures and animals loosely, especially the characters in the shade of the tent.

Detail in sepia
It may be difficult to tell from the small picture above the loose and expressive nature of the brushwork up close, so here's a small part shown closer...

detail of donkey

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sunday market part one

Mixing up the same colours

Yesterday I showed you a small plein air oil study that I painted in Morocco at the market at Hedra. I spent most of last week in my studio painting a larger scale version while the scene, the heat, the sounds were all still fresh in my mind. 
Using my painting and a variety of photos that I'd taken I worked out a fairly detailed sketch putting different elements together. I don't always need to do this but it was going to be quite a complicated scene.
I then stretched up a pretty big canvas, big for me anyway at 22" x 34" and set to work.

Compositional sketch

Early stages, blocking in lights and darks

Market at Hedra

Market at Hedra
Oils 10" x 12"
Buy this now!

In the middle of our stay in Morocco we took a taxi ride to a weekly market and wow, what an experience! I had really wanted to see donkeys as they are used all over the place in Morocco but not in the médina of Essaouira where we were staying. We walked all the way through the market which was huge and covered everything from fruit and veg to clothes and shoes and blankets and household wares, all the way to the end where the animals were being traded. The last field was full of donkeys and the one just before was cattle. Apparently there had been camels earlier on but we only saw a couple of those briefly.
It was a really hot day and we'd been warned by several people to expect pickpockets there so we all stayed together for safety and Aziz our driver stayed with us too. We didn't experience any problems but lots of confused looks!
I'm glad we settled down to paint quickly because in the space of two hours the field went from packed to almost empty and even the refreshments marquee was being dismantled (the tent structure in my painting). 
I was very very glad of the Moroccan mint tea when we made it back to a bar :-)

Linda Matthews, Mo Teeuw and I
Photo by Eric Davis

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Putting figures in your paintings

The Artist May 2014

The new (May) issue of The Artist magazine is available in shops in the UK right now.  My latest article to be published is about putting figures into your paintings - why I think it's worthwhile, some things to think about when you're including figures in your work and exercises to try. I hope you enjoy it :-)

As always there is lots more inspiration packed between the pages featuring artists such as Lucy Willis, Geoff Hunt, Ian Sidaway, Ian Cryer, Chris Forsey, Ann Blockley, and Hashim Akib amongst others.

I have been told that in the US you can also buy this inspirational magazine in Barnes and Noble stores. If you can't easily get hold of a copy where you live did you know that you can subscribe and have every issue posted out to you? Read more about that here.

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