Friday, May 23, 2014

Carp pond at Gunby Hall

Carp pond at Gunby Hall
Oils 12" x 16"

On an absolutely beautiful day I had to drop everything else and get out with my paints. I actually went looking for some cows that I'd seen recently but they weren't in the field, so I continued in an easterly direction until I reached beautiful Gunby Hall again. Once there, I knew I would head for the carp pond. I couldn't believe how much it had changed in the last couple of weeks. This yellowy green weed that you can see on the right hand side of my painting had spread far and wide under the surface of the water. I'm sure it's nutritious for the fish but it does rather obliterate all reflections in that area. 
Still, I had a wonderful trip and there were sky reflections still to be had! I'm also looking forward to when the water lilies come into flower, and I'm going to get back here with a model first chance I get. 
Also, the team at Gunby Hall looked after me well and gave me a coffee and with the sun shining too, what could be better? :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pond sketches

Pond sketches
Watercolour and pen

In a quieter moment in between either painting with oils or cleaning oil paint off brushes and palette, I worked on these preparatory sketches in watercolours and marker pens. I have a lovely huge and chunky watercolour paper sketchbook (two inches thick) which you can see here. 
These sketches are thoughts about possible large oil paintings of the pond at Lincolnshire's Gunby Hall.   My idea is to start a large painting in the studio with an underpainting, then take it out on site for the main painting session, then work on it again in the studio etc. Not sure when this will actually take place as I've got so much else on the go at the moment, but it's always good to have ideas stacking up!

Masking fluid in action on the lily pads

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Starting over

Work in progress

I really love the chance to start over again on a canvas that's already painted. I have a few half finished demos languishing around the studio on beautiful stretched fine linen canvasses, which deserve another chance in life you know?
Such as this one. If you tilt your head over so that your right ear rests on your shoulder you might be able to make out a blue jug shape in the middle, with yellow tulips and green leaves and stems coming up out of it. The purple that you can see poking through here and there was also a part of this previous life of the canvas. 

This is how it looked after I'd worked a couple of hours on it. Pleasing textures and a harmonious palette of colours, but I still had quite a long way to go.

I'll show you what it evolved into next time. Sorry to leave you dangling but I haven't got a good photo of it yet. ;-)

I like this patch

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Patchings festival taster

Montage of paintings to be shown at
Patchings Festival

It's coming up fast, the big fun event that is Patchings Festival. Always taking place at the beginning of June, this will be my third year as an exhibitor at the festival. This four day event takes place near Nottingham in the UK, and has so much going on with live demos by top artists, workshops and taster sessions, live music and all manner of arts and crafts. This year a photography element has been added to the festival for the first time. 

I thought I'd give you a sneak preview of some of my new paintings which will be on show at the festival and tell you a little about what's on offer there.
You won't want to miss the art materials marquee where there is always a bargain or two to be indulged in! The Barn gallery hosts The Artist magazine's annual competition exhibition which includes my painting 'Sails up in harbour'. The Pavilion gallery will show the Leisure Painter magazine's exhibition. Both exhibitions open on the first day of the festival, and both will be a really good show. The festival is a great day out but there's so much to do here you might want to come for two days or even three! Top UK painters Ken Howard RA and David Curtis ROI RSMA will be there, as well as many other of your favourite artists.

This year I will be doing a demo in the festival marquee on Sunday 8th June in the morning. Now this marquee is huge with hundreds of seats (really, hundreds) and big screens showing the brushstroke action up close so please try to come and watch me there! I will be very happy to chat for hours afterwards (you know me) ;-)

Plein air painting demo 2013

I will be giving plein air painting demos throughout the festival, weather permitting. It's not that I mind painting in the rain it's just there won't be anyone wanting to watch me if it's pouring down! Look at the gorgeous weather we had last year... more of the same please ...

My stand in the painters marquee last year

When I'm not doing my outside demos and Sunday morning demo I'll be here on my stand in the painters marquee which is just before you shop til you drop in the art materials marquee next door which includes Rosemary brushes, Pro Arte, Hahnemuhle, Terry Harrison and lots more.

You'll spot me easily enough, just head for the bunting and fairy lights!

One of my plein air demos at Patchings festival 2013

This is my other plein air demo from last year which shows the pretty farm buildings at the heart of Patchings art centre. This is where you'll find the Barn gallery, lovely Patchings cafe, individual studios and shops, art materials and picture framing. It's just down the hill from the marquees, but you'll be given a detailed plan and map on arrival so you needn't miss a thing :-)

The dates for your diary are Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th June. Find out more here

Monday, May 12, 2014

Belton House fountain

Belton House fountain
Oils 16" x 20"

Here's a closer look at the fountain painting from last week. Despite the outbursts of rain I really thoroughly enjoyed painting this. I only live a couple of miles away so I can easily return here to paint the fountain again. Lucky me. Usually when I come here it's with the family at weekends and without my paints, so I will have to make another midweek visit.
We're having quite a lot of rain showers at the moment, with sunny intervals in between. I've got plenty to be getting on with inside but I'm keeping a lookout for a consistently fine painting day.

Here's a detail from the painting so you can get a better look at the brush marks. I especially like that squidgy turquoise stroke in the water section. 

Belton House fountain

Friday, May 9, 2014

Movie star!

In the spotlight!

Movie star? No not really, but if you were one of the school children on a trip to Belton House near Grantham yesterday you might have been forgiven for thinking that I was a VIP! 
I met up with a photographer there to have photos taken for a forthcoming article in a local magazine, the Lincolnshire Journal. 
The weather looked a bit dubious, and after an hour of painting I was caught in a downpour, thank goodness I had my umbrella with me! I could do very little for twenty minutes except stand close to the painting huddled under the umbrella. 

After the rain, painting again!

Luckily by the time the photographer came the sun was shining again. I think the magazine will be published in early June, so I'll show you what the article looks like when I get a copy.

I need to put a few finishing touches on my painting of the fountain and garden, and then I'll take a better photo of the painting to show you.

I'm also planning images for a 2015 calendar right now,  maybe this painting will make an appearance for the month of May ;-)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gunby Hall gardens

Gracie in the gardens at Gunby Hall
Oils 10" x 12"

It's always exciting to find a great new painting location and I found one on Monday. It's a National Trust stately home and garden called Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire, and only a little over an hour's drive away from me. The gardens are absolutely beautiful and I could find so many subjects there. As a bonus on Monday it was 'regency day' and there were people walking around and dancing in regency costumes which was so exciting for me, like visiting a Jane Austen film set.

After a lovely picnic I looked for a spot to paint in the gardens. The sun was out a little bit but when I was painting it was mostly cloudy, so I chose a subject with a little inherent colour. 

I was hoping to get a passing figure or two into the painting, and when I was almost beyond the point of being able to add anybody my goddaughter Gracie came along and offered to pose for me. She stood there by the sundial for between twenty minutes and half an hour bless her. She didn't mind at all, and I kept asking her if she'd had enough and wanted to stop.

She really improved the painting by her presence I'm sure you'll agree. My absolutely favourite part is her right foot which was turned inwards for a moment and I managed to catch it!

Painting at Gunby Hall

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Exhibition news

Towards St Michael's mount from Mousehole
Oils 46 x 46 cms framed

I had the happy news that two of my paintings have been selected for the Society of Women Artists (SWA) annual exhibition 2014. These are both plein air paintings, one painted in Mousehole in Cornwall and the other in Morocco.

The exhibition takes place at the Mall Galleries, London from the 26th June to the 5th July, with the private view on the 25th June. I have a few invitations to the private view so let me know if you can get to London on that day and would like one, or if you would like to know about owning one of these two paintings. You can email me at

Towards the fort, Essaouira
Oils 41 x 51 cms framed

A little info about the society from their website...

Founded as the Society of Female Artists, this unique group has held an annual exhibition in London of the work of women artists ever since 1857. 
In the mid-nineteenth century, women were not considered to be serious contributors to the field of art and had great difficulty in obtaining a public showing. At the first exhibition, 149 women showed 358 works, some hiding their true identities for fear of social recrimination. 
The art world was dominated by the Royal Academy which, at its foundation in 1768, had two women among the founders but had no other women academicians for over 150 years when, in 1922, Annie Swynnerton S.W.A (a member since 1889) was elected as an Associate. 
The Society attracted some of the most noted artists of the time; when Lady Elizabeth Butler's The Roll Call was displayed at the Royal Academy in 1874, even Ruskin, with his peculiar views of femininity, revised his opinion that no woman could paint. The S.F.A was involved in education for women artists, effectively excluded by the mores of the time from professional training. Even for those who did gain a place at art school, the model in the women's class would be decorously draped on grounds of propriety. 

The Society has had many famous artists among its members. Dame Laura Knight, the first woman Royal Academician for over 160 years, was elected President of the S.W.A in 1932. The world-famous illustrator Mabel Lucy Atwell was a member. Current members include Daphne Todd OBE, the first woman President of the Royal Portrait Society; well-known portraitist June Mendoza OBE; the late Suzanne Lucas, Past President of both the Society of Botanical Artists and the Royal Miniature Society, who in 1980 was elected as the first woman president of a Royal Society; and Philomena Davis, elected first woman President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1990. The current President is Sue Jelley. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Porthcurnick beach in summer

Porthcurnick beach in summer
Oils on canvas
14" x 18" 

I spent some time finishing off the demo painting from the weekend, as I was really pleased with the way it was going. It's got a lovely freshness of colour reminiscent of early summer. The sea in Cornwall often looks that gorgeous turquoise colour on a bright sunny day. 

What I wanted to show you in particular are some close up shots so that you can see the nature of the brushwork. For me it is incredibly important to see brush marks in a painting. They are as individual as handwriting, and they tell you a story about how the painting was crafted and what the artist was feeling. They remind you that you are looking at paint on a flat surface, and then when you stand back a few yards everything falls into place and becomes an illusion of space and depth.

A pleasing mix of thin and thick paint, and visible brush marks 

Up close it's just a few light and dark marks

Enough description to read as figures

It also demonstrates how little information you need to give the viewer for them to understand and read the painting. Take the section below for example. When you look at the whole painting from a reasonable viewing distance this reads as a distant headland with buildings and grass, trees, rocks and boats. What is it actually in terms of paint when you take a closer look? Very little information has been given but your mind fills it all in.
The trick is to give the right information I suppose!

Enough information

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