Thursday, 2 November 2017

USA and Canada Tour 2018

My blog has fallen quiet as I am currently on tour in USA and Canada. I started this trip teaching at the Oregon Society of Artists in Portland, who hosted three sold out workshops.  From there I headed to Daniel Smith in Seattle where I taught four sold out courses and I am now teaching three fully booked workshops in Vancouver at Art Escapes. In each location I have been invited to return. My Daniel Smith workshops in Seattle which were already scheduled for 2018 had just four places available as of last week which is wonderful news.

It's been an incredible trip and I've loved every second sharing my passion for working with watercolour. There have been many occasions where I have felt both humbled and privileged to be able to travel and meet such amazing people and hear many inspirational stories about life being improved by art.

I return home to UK in December after a well deserved holiday and a hugely busy year. Then I'll be back in my blog more regularly with a lot to share and catch up on.

For now , I have to prepare for filming my new DVDs in 2018 and complete my new book which will also be out next year.

Thank you so much to everyone who has attended my courses and made me feel so warmly welcome in each location. A new adventure lies ahead of us with every brush stoke we make. My motto? Make every brush stroke count!

Happy painting.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Hydrangea Blues

"Hydrangea Blues"
Lace cap Hydrangea caught in watercolour

A truly hectic week so time to write on my blog has fallen to the bottom of my priority list. I am packing for my trip to USA , I leave next week. And I am still working hard on my new book which looks so gorgeous that I now don't want to leave my studio for a second.
The thing is. When writing I gain so much inspiration and so many new ideas that I want to paint non stop and this new book is making me open my eyes to so many possibilities of how I can improve my own art. I don't want to leave it alone as each new chapter brings with it even more excitement and inspiration.

But before I leap back into my world of writing I just thought I would share this blue lace cap hydrangea that seems hit by sunlight, which we had here yesterday.

I will be very honest. I was going to give this painting the title " Las Vegas Blues" because I feel so terribly sad for the awful tragedy that has been covered by all the news channels in UK this week. My heart aches for the victims and the victims families who left home that day looking forward to a festival of music which turned into a night of terror.

My brain doesn't understand how anyone can create such horror in peoples lives. Even the most unhappiest of souls does not have the right to ruin someone elses' happiness. It was a selfish and evil act that will never be understood.

For now, my thoughts and prayers are with those effected by such a heinous crime and for a place that travellers from all over the world head to for many reasons.

Life must go on. 

But at this time it is right to think of others.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Mist and Fog: BlacKberries in Watercolour

"Autumn Mist"

It is strange how new ideas come to you as an artist. I have been walking in the countryside looking at the berries growing in the hedgerows and become fascinated by changing light throughout the day. I also love all the brambles and tiny twigs with many in reality being almost out of sight. I couldn't work out how to create this feeling of distance until now. Yes, violets as a shade work to push a subject further into the background and bold strong pigment works to pull branches in the foreground more strongly into view.

  Blackberry painting revisited

I revisited a previous painting of blackberries that I luckily had in my studio still and continued my experiments with colour and technique on it. And must admit I am thrilled with how it is now evolving as a piece.

The foreground branches have been painted now with shades I wouldn't normally use. They are black and dark brown shades from the Daniel Smith range. Very powerful,dynamic and fascinating as they make the warm colours in the background glow even more in contrast, as if in soft diffused light.

Lamp Black,Transparent Brown Oxide and Purpurite Genuine.
Strong, dynamic shades.

 For an artist who has always  avoided painting with black or dark shades this is quite a turn around in my way of thinking and painting. I love it!

The branches in the foreground now stand out. The deep brown areas you can see in the section below have been created by applying pigment with a cloth and twisting it  over the paper. This gives me freedom and less planned looking results, which I also love.

 Dark brown sections have been creating by rolling a cloth over my work once colour had been applied

If I liked an effect in this piece I simply repeated it so the brown section grew and became more interesting . A subtle, gradual build up of strong colour gave me the effects seen below that I found intriguing.

Build up of brown section, slowly adding depth and drama to my work

I find I am the happiest when experimenting. I don't accept  that every technique has been learnt about this magical medium. I honestly feel there is far more to be gained from spending as much time as possible pushing the limits and hoping to cross boundaries of what and what does not work with watercolour pigment.

I loved this experiment which wouldn't be possible without the products I use from Daniel Smith. I owe the inventor of these amazing watercolours so much as my life is so exciting because of them, as an artist who adores colour and exploration with it.

Great fun and I cannot wait to paint even more bold pieces now which are perfect choices for this Autumnal time of year. Gone are the soft summer shades. In come the powerful Autumn and Winter effects!


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

A Little Grubby : Blue Tit in Watercolour

 "A Little Grubby"

My husband fills bird feeders in our garden regularly.  I place meal worms on a special old table we have near our living room window for our almost tame robin to feed from. We take great delight in watching him enjoy his little feast. But this year he has had competition at his private bird restaurant from a family of Blue Tits that have nested, successfully bred and fledged in our garden. These little blue and yellow birds choose the juiciest of meal worms and then sit on a barbed wire fence nearby to enjoy their stolen fare.

I have taken several photographs of the theiving taking place. And as the blue tits sit on the wire. they make delightful compositions for an artist. But I have yet to take a great shot of a meal worm in a beak where I can really see the beak well. Not just the grub. Hence the grub looking so all important in my new painting of a blue tit seen above.

I have opted to change the boring real green background of the field behind my subject. Instead I have chosen a lovely blue wash to  harmonise with the wing colour of my little bird. And as we always place more bird food out in winter I have let a little snowfall enhance my composition.

 Bird coming to life in watercolour

  When painting, I found the bird in a blue "first wash" then added detail to bring it to life. As described as a technique in all of my books. As soon as the bird was successfully in place and recognisable as a subject I began to add the back outline by painting a negative edge here for me to work from.

I have some gorgeous photographs of  these tiny birds holding caterpillar larva in their mouths but these don't work so well for me in my paintings. The meal worm did as it was shiny and I felt added interest to what the bird was holding.

 We have now planted a hedge so we can't see the barbed wire any more and happily wild birds love to nest in it. But I quickly became entranced with painting wire as it is something I have never done before. I love the lost and found edges of the wire in this piece as the technique makes something so ordinary look quite glamorous!

 Interesting lost and found edges make even barbed wire look beautiful!

I love my life. I never know what I am going to paint next and this piece was a complete surprise  on my painting schedule today. But as I type a blue tit faces me on a branch outside my window with yes, a meal worm in its' beak as if to say

" Paint me again\"

And I just might!



Tuesday, 26 September 2017

How can I Keep From Singing; Roses in Watercolour

 How can I keep from singing?

I walk around my garden each morning taking in the beauty of every single flower. Like every brush stroke in a work of art, petals  make the shape of every bloom sing so beautifully in harmony with all around them. Birds were singing so loudly this morning too as I walked whilst the world slept.

I absorbed this heavenly peaceful feeling and raced to my studio trying to maintain the wonderful early morning sense of calm but I couldn't. Excitement had taken over my soul. Placing colour on paper was the urgent and most important thing on my mind.

I treated myself to picking a few new roses to work from and placed them in a little brown jug that I have had for years. I love these items from my cottage cupboards. Items that are often hidden away until the day they come into use again. Perfect for still life paintings.

 Queen Elizabeth pink roses are still in bloom in our garden and look so delicate next to the vibrant more velvety red roses. I first saw these pink blooms in our very first house when we were married. I fell in love with them straight away. We had our first son in this home, and while pregnant I used to sit in the garden admiring these flowers. Once he was born I used to sit holding him in sunshine, again admiring these roses which carry such  a special connection to that for me.That was a long time ago and our eldest son is now married and in his own home creating memories. But these roses will always remind me of carrying him and looking forward to the day he was born. A tiny premature baby. Who is now a wonderful grown man. I paint these roses and think of so many happy memories.

 This new painting of Queen Elizabeth roses has a softness to it that is so beautiful, even to me as the creating artist. It is holding a magic. I call that magic "love" because if you love what you are doing it shows. I think my feelings definitely shine in this piece.

 Queen Elizabeth roses, soft and beautiful coming to life in watercolour

 The red roses are so very different. Bold in colour. Velvety to touch. They demand stronger bold brushwork and they are repaying me for doing just that by shining against the white of my watercolour paper. Seen below on my easel.

 Pink and Red rosse start my day in watercolour. heaven to work on for an artist who loves colour and energy in their work

I am going to have a magnificent day. I can feel it in my bones. Which is why I am going to get off my computer and paint. I wish you a great day too!

 Roses coming to life on my easel


Artists Tip for the Day

1) Think positive. No matter how hard life is, try to see the beauty and positive side of life. This positive energy will flow into your paintings.
2) Look for the beauty in everything around you. It is there. But sometimes our vision is a wee bit clouded by what is going on in our lives. 
3) Take time to simply sit and look at a subject. Paint it in your mind not on paper. You will be surprised at how much you learn by doing so!


Monday, 25 September 2017

A Simple Act Of Kindness

Simple Pleasures
Roses from my garden, painted in Watercolour 

We have no idea how we effect others by our words or actions. But there is one piece of advise I have always believed in. Of all the things we can be in life, being kind is the greatest achievement of all. And that is a huge thing to achieve when often in life so much happens that perhaps we wish hadn't.

I shared a post on Facebook this morning, saying that I was eager to race to my studio. I had looked out of my window and seen grey skies and gloomy rainfall that could have dampened my spirits. I could have sat and watched the news and been thoroughly depressed by it but again, like the weather that too is out of my control. All that is in my control is how I behave and how I can hopefully make others smile.

So with my new book weighing on my mind and a deadline to meet to finish it I headed for my studio this morning. And to do so I had to walk past the roses in bloom in my garden. The pink ones caught my attention first. But these were quickly outshone by the velvety red roses that are fading, past their best but in doing so they look even more beautiful to me. Like a face with gorgeous laughter lines or a story to tell from wrinkles that have appeared through the years. My red roses have bloomed beautifully for quite some time. But after a heavy rainfall they had bent their heads with no strength to hold them upright. They looked even more fascinating, telling a new story. Beauty after the storm.

I carried three of these blooms into my studio and began painting them. I placed them side by side.I love that they then can represent the most important words anyone can hear in life.

I love you.

Maybe that will be this paintings' title!


Last Rose of Summer: Daniel Smith Shades

Rose, painting and Daniel Smith colours from my studio work this morning

Although Autumn is here roses are still blooming in my garden, hanging on to Summer and I don't blame them. They look so beautiful. As if they are denying that things are about to change weather wise. Some things are out of our control, like the seasons. But everything that is beautiful we should make the most of whilst we are able to. 

Today I picked a few roses and carried them into my studio. Into the warm to paint. I have roses in every colour blooming but the pink ones caught my attention.

Before painting I placed a few dots of colour on paper to try out a few possible shade choices.

The following are my favourite shades, all by Daniel Smith.

1) Opera Pink. Perfect for painting summer roses!
2) Rose Madder Permanent . I absolutely love this colour , it adds a terrific richness to my floral work.
3) Quinachridone Lilac. I use this sparingly for depth underneath the petal edges. It creates interest and gives impact as a new addition to what could be just a plain pink painting.
4) My favourite of all. Rhodonite Genuine. My secret favourite. It gives me such a great effect. 

I love Daniel Smith watercolours for giving me such variety in so many ways with colours that excite and lift the soul. Especially when the day is as grey as it is today here in UK.

I can heavily dilute any of these shades to give me translucent petals or use the pigment more heavily for  stronger bold impact.

But for now I am painting roses. The last of this year from my garden.

And I am already longing for the summer of 2018!

Opera Pink rose, heavily diluted pigment makes this piece work well.