Sunday, 30 September 2012

My Mother in Laws Meatballs

Pyracantha 2012
From a Demonstration at Dedham Hall 2012
Dates have been released for 2013 but only three places are left so please book if you would like a place!

I know the title of this blog post is going to raise a few eyebrows but while I was painting this pyracantha,which initially started as a demonstration at Dedham Hall, a wonderful memory crossed my mind.

I met and married a wonderful man and remember the first  few years  of marriage where we regularly visited my parents in law. My Mother- in -Law was the most amazing cook, from Belgium she introduced me to so many wonderful ways of cooking and gorgeous recipes which inspire my time in the kitchen even now. On one summer visit she had wanted to cook a delicious recipe that involved making  tiny meatballs. As her time was taken up with other parts of the evening meal she  delegated the task of  forming many tiny little meatballs to myself and my brother-in -law, Jean Paul.. We were instructed to take the role very seriously and to make each ball the same size which she had carefully shown us.

At first we were really careful making sure each little meatball met with her satisfaction but soon we became more engrossed in having fun and laughing at our weak attempts. Soon giggles were drifting into the kitcehn. Our meatballs had turned into the size of small beefburgers and when my Mother-in law came out of the house to see what was going on she was none too pleased! No meatballs replicating the neat one she had shown us. We were promptly told off like two naughty school children and the task was taken out of our hands. We continued to giggle like kids and looking back I can now see how annoying that must have been for someone with a full meal to cook. One little task would have helped so much. But we were young and didn't really feel the size was incredibly important!

And so today I looked through my demonstration at Dedham Hall, a week ago and came across this painting of a pyracantha. I had shown an artist how to make a wash and paint the small berries out of it, rather than paint each tiny individual berry one at a time which would have taken ages. But all of a sudden today I noticed my berries were beginning to vary in size. To speed things up I was making some disappear into the foliage and limiting those that would be in full detail. Even then I couldn't help laughing as one gigantic berry overshadowed all the neat little ones around it. At a distance it didn't show or matter but as I am now older and wiser I made a correction to neaten the sizes.Now they all look similar. It wouldn't matter if they were hugely different but how funny a painting should bring back such a great memory!

So I may call this " My Mothers in Laws Meatballs" and continue to raise a few eyebrows, just for fun!


Last days Of Summer 2012

Delphinium picked from my garden this morning for a wonderful relaxing day painting in blues.

Over the last week I have witnessed the wind and rain knocking down all the beautiful delphiniums in our garden. Normally I leave these flowers  rather than pick them for flower arrangements as their beauty and vibrant blue shades add such drama to our cottage flower beds. But as the wind had knocked them down my husband had gathered them and given them to me while he worked outside in the sunshine yesterday. I do so love this part of my life, being given armfuls of gorgeous flowesr from our own garden to decorate our cottage with. It feels like something I have yearned for over the years of constant travelling from country to country while we lived abroad,to finally have a place that I know I will be living in for the rest of my life.  Initially I made a wonderful flower arrangement with the delphiniums for our home but I kept looking at it last night and dreamt about the flowers as I slept. So I knew this morning I would just have to get the majestic blooms
 out of my system and paint them!

Cerulean Blue as a pigment has sat in my palette almost ignored all summer and finally it created a basic wash which I merged Winsor Violet in places for the petals. Inside each centre I used Indgo added with my own personalised rigger brush which is perfect for adding fine detail or smaller amounts of neat pigment which I often use as a technique.. I have also used my rigger for working around individual petals adding touches that seperate blocks of colour. I am thrilled with the feedback I am receiving from buyers of my personalised brush sets and love the words " sensual to use" that keep cropping up. They do glide across paper beautifully and help with my work so much. But the finest of Kolinsky brushes always will be a delight to use!

My tip to anyone aware that  a season is coming to an end, is to make time to paint what you love before it disappears until next year. I often say life isn't a rehearsal and we should never put off until tomorrow what we could paint today while we feel so enthusiastic about it.  During my demonstrations and at art events I am meeting so many artists who tell me they never have enough time to paint. Well today there are many things that I need to do including plant foxglove seedlings so that I have lots of them to enjoy painting next year but my heart and mood feels so much more energised and happier because I painted what I wanted to paint first!

So my artists tips this Sunday.........

1) Do something just for you even if it is just once a week

2) Find time to paint! Even if its a ten minute play with colour, paint!

3) Don't put off until tomorrow what you know you could paint today!

Have fun!

Close up of the delphinium I am working on.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Painting For Charity

Nude From my latest book
"Atmospheric Watercolours"

I promised a painting to a charity that really touched me personally a few years ago. My original painting of a nude at that time raised a wonderful bid which helped so much at the time. Now a second auction will be taking place in London this November and I am going to share details on my blog and facebook soon.

Sometimes our art can do far more than we realise and it is these times when I feel that moving my brush and learning my skill was so worthwhile.

More details to follow.


Autumnal Glow 2012

Rosehip Demonstration
Dedham Hall 2012

For the first time this year I have had time to plan ahead to 2013 and look forward to exhibitions and workshops that will be highlights of my art life next year. I have a wonderful new project which is also going to keep me very active in my studio.

This year has been incredible with so much happening, especially in the early months. My new book "Atmospheric Watercolours" was launched in May and has been selling so well internationally, following my first book "How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour" I had no idea how it would be received. Written from my heart sharing my passion for my favourite medium and also including techniques and tips given to me by artists from all over the world, it was created purely as a way for me to encourage artists to adore working in watercolour as much as I do. This way of painting really does lead to seeing everything as a possible subject and opens my own eyes to new colour combinations constantly leading to unique results. The feedback from readers has been overwhelming with emails coming in from all over the world and I have been almost in tears so many times from the comments coming my way from artists who are loving each page. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought a copy and told me how much you like my new book.

"Watercolour Passion" my second DVD following "Amazing Ways with Watercolour" was filmed in Spring 2012 and has sold internationally too. This was so much fun to create and TownHouse Films are wonderful in how they work. I am privileged to be one of their artists.

My workshops in UK were fully booked this year with long waiting lists to get on them. Which has almost held me back in releasing dates for 2013 because I am concerned at the lesser amount of time I have free over the next twelve month period. My focus is now held very much with galleries who show my work. Even so, dates will be released on my blog next week and popular sessions will fill very quickly. My advise to anyone following my blog posts who would like to book a workshop with me is to please email me so that your contact details can be listed with my personal assistant who handles my bookings for me. The workshops themselves have evolved each year leading to days full of motivational techniques and the inspirational sessions which seem to have become highly sought after over time.

Over the last year I have received many invitations to be included in several galleries and many exhibitions. I have also been invited to several countries to hold international workshops and I am looking at my Fall programme for 2013 at the moment.

One thing that is vitally important in my own life is my studio time and this is where very hard decisions have had to be made. Rather than happily say yes to everyone and jump in eagerly with new commitments I have taken time out to look ahead and think about what I want as an artist which for someone like me isn't an easy thing to do. When I started painting it was for the love of it. For the joy in creating and for that heady feeling when new ideas turned into exciting paintings with the journey in their evolvement being every part as thrilling as the end result. I am surrounded by peers who endlessly and effortlessly seem to "churn out"  painting after painting but who quietly admit they don't enjoy being an artist any more which is so sad. The profession they so eagerly yearned for, in many way has seen a downside as the passion they once held has led them to a full time job which at times they resent. I find this disappointing when so many new artists would give anything to be in their position.  This has given me food for thought because it is not where I want to be headed and it certainly wouldn't sit well with my bubbly personality and love for watercolour.

Several times this year I have longed to paint roses in my garden or fabulous huge horse racing scenes or animals at a whim but I have needed to load my car for a new destination for a meeting or to demonstrate or teach.  Sometimes I have found myself limited in my studio time when I desperately had the urge to create. Which is why I am finally back on track putting my studio time as my quality time where I paint what I paint when I want to and create work for the galleries who represent me without distraction. Next year I know my art will be the best that I can achieve with the brilliant new subjects that are already pulling at my emotions making me want to race to paint them. Subjects that are being kept under wraps until next years exhibitions.

When I paint my studies and discover new colours or subject approaches I will be sharing them on my blog  because I love the emails and comments I recieve from complete strangers when we meet at art events. But I am wisely letting go of a few commitments that have taken a lot of time. I am standing down from councils of art societies and allowing myself the freedom of placing my focus on my own art next year which I believe is important and essential in my life at the moment. One I will miss is the SWA,Society ofr Women Artists  whom I have loved working for under the leadership of the amazing past President, Barbara Penketh Simpson who has to be one of the most caring and inspirational people I have ever met in my life. Her vision and enthusiasm for the society has led to its' success over recent years and has also encouraged many new artists wishing to belong to the society. Anyone who knows me will fully understand I always give 100% when I am involved with any charity or society so I needed to move on to free my time and this sadly means my art society demonstrations next year will be limited also.  Having said that I will be demonstrating at Patchings next year so do come as it is an amazing art event that I would not miss for the world!.

Times change and our lives must too if we wish to enjoy every moment. I honestly thought this year was my most exciting yet but I know now from invitations coming in what 2013 holds for me and I am going to welcome the new year with both hands and step bravely into a whole new adventure.

I hope you,whoever you are reading my blog, are making wise decisions about your future too. Make sure you have time to think about what you want to achieve and go for it because we are only here once and this life is not a rehearsal!

Go For Gold!


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Chandlers Ford Art Group Demonstration 2012

Hawthorn Wash
Demonstration for Chandlers Ford Art Group 2012

Last night I drove to Chandlers Ford as the guest artist to demonstrate for Chandlers Ford Art Group. It was a wet evening after heavy rain all day so my expectations of the number of members turning up wasn't high. The hall was soon full though and the atmosphere was incredible. I would highly recommend getting in touch with this art group if you live in the area because the warm welcome you will receive is well worth it. And on top of the welcome, add incredible enthusiasm about art which is exactly what you need in any brilliant art society.

The evening  was opened with art group announcements followed by an award presentation for the annual exhibition. I was asked to judge the monthly themed small exhibit of members work and chose a beautiful watercolour which was full of exquisite detail depicting autumn treasure of rosehips and chestnuts set against a colourful background.

I started my demonstration with contrasting washes to show how I use watercolour and talked about my favourite shades. They are changing a lot over the years so my next workshops are going to be even more vibrant! As it is Autumn I worked on a country scene until the break during which I had time to answer questions and meet the members. All I can say at this point is that enthusiasm runs high amongst these fantastic artists!

I continued with a figure demonstration and a more detailed composition showing directional brushwork and colour placement leading to the close of the evening which ran over a little. Even then some members seemed reluctant to leave the venue. It was a terrific night and this morning I will be needing to order more books because I sold out yet again last night and my cards are disappearing quickly too.

Thank you so much to Chandlers Ford Art Group for the invitation to demonstrate and thank you to everyone who came and who may now be reading my blog!


Art Society Demonstrations 2013

I have been contacted by various art societies requesting demonstrations and workshops next year. My diary is already heavily committed but I will still keep  contacts as I will plan ahead to 2014.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Workshops, Hampshire, UK 2012

Watercolour Demonstration Dedham Hall 2012

The workshop programme for 2013 has finally been completed and full details will be on my blog and web site next week. There are some fabulous new sessions, old favourites and special opening door days for new artists who have not had a chance to come on one of my workshops before.

If you have forwarded your name by email to me you should be receiving information fairly soon.

Due  to my exhibitions and travelling next year workshop days are very limited so please book early to ensure you have a place!


Artists from last weeks Dedham Hall workshop may be interested in the background wash of the simple geranium demonstration from the garden at Dedham Hall. Light played a very big part of this composition and the plants in situ helped by showing exactly where it should be!

Dedham Hall 2013 : Book Now!

Demonstration in Atmospheric Watercolours
Dedham Hall 2012

Dedham Hall
Watercolour Course
14th -21st September 2013

I am well aware that my watercolour workshops and courses  fill very quickly and that by the time many artists hear of them they are often already too late to book a place.  Last week I loved teaching a weeks watercolour course at Dedham Hall which is a wonderful venue near to the location where the famous haywain scene was painted by John Constable.

This is a very special place to visit and workshop places are strictly limited to allow me time to give personal tuition  to each artist attending throughout the week.

If you would like a place next year please contact Wendy or Jim as soon as possible via this link 

or email 

Demonstration from the grape vine in the garden at Dedham Hall 2012

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Green Tomatoes : Dedham Hall 2012

Tomatoes ripening on the vine.

More images from my demonstrations at Dedham Hall last week. The afternoon spent in sunshine admiring green tomatoes ripening near the greenhouse led to a very inspirational session on colour flow, subject connection and capturing light. Now they will be a "new" favourite subject of mine!


To everyone who knows me well, note the greens.  I seem to now love using green!

Laughter And Tomatoes!

Tomatoes from a demonstration
Dedham Hall 2012

It is amazing where a workshop day can lead you. Last week I started one of the workshop days at Dedham Hall with a demonstration on colour choices and washes. I  then suggested the artists choose their own subjects either inside the studio or outside  to bring a subject to life. As I wandered around the grounds of Dedham Hall I came across one artist enjoying painting tomatoes near the greenhouse in the garden. At this time of year tomatoes don't always look their best but the clusters of juicy red forms really were vibrant in the sunshine that afternoon. 

On the course, I had been looking at how subjects can connect via colour and how watermarks can be useful in creating interest in a finished composition. I sat on the ground next to the artist painting tomatoes and started playing with colour. I shared two techniques for painting, what seemed like a very simple subject, more interesting. Before long a small group of artists had joined us and also watched as I painted. The conversation flowed as questions arose and for some reason we laughed throughout the short demo. Sitting here at my computer I have no idea how the fun started but it was so wonderful listening to comments from the owners of Dedham Hall later, letting me know how much they had loved hearing everyone on the course having such a wonderful time.

I do love painting seriously for shows and galleries. And I thoroughly enjoy my more serious demonstrations. But there are times in life when painting, for some, can be a struggle. When the thought of moving a brush can be frightening and when expectations of  masterful outcomes can be daunting to the artist less experienced to working in watercolour or on a course for the first time.

We had fun and I loved that day!

First wash for a tomato demonstration
Dedham Hall 2012


Louise if you are reading this blog post please allow your colours to flow energetically and make sure some of your subjects are larger. Cover that white paper with colour and have fun. I hope by now the poppies I gave you have been christened!

Sandra, I think red subjects like tomatoes flowing across paper could really be a fabulous subject for you,have fun with some!

Jennifer, I am still laughing at the duck!

Dedham Hall 2012

"Arab Face"
Demonstration by Jean Haines at Dedham Hall 2012

My blog has fallen quiet as I have been away taking a one weeks watercolour course at Dedham Hall which was a superb experience. In the past I have heard so much about this fabulous venue but as my schedule has been really hectic until now, this is the first year I have been able to teach a course there.

The days seem to fly by. There were wonderful people attending the week long workshop. Each day we looked at new subjects and I had time to spend individually tutoring everyone who came.  I have many highlights as memories that will stay with me forever including laughing whilst painting tomatoes by a greenhouse in the garden, a very funny duck story and paintings that flowed and improved with skill as the week wore on.

Because I cover many subjects on my workhops I never know what to expect during each session but a favourite demonstration has to be the face above,asked for by Valerie which held the groups attention while the character appeared from a colourful first wash.

Bookings are already being taken for my course there in September 2013 so if you would like to join me there next year, please get in touch via this link

To anyone reading my blog who came this genuinely was fantastic meeting you and I hope your brushes are already moving this week!


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Leaving Summer Behind. Roses 2012

Enjoying a single rose from my cottage garden. Detail to be added after this first soft wash.

I am going to be very busy over the next few weeks so thought I would share an update on my blog.

Firstly I have a Private Preview on Friday 14th, September 2012 at the Albany Gallery in Cardiff as part of a group exhibition for the SWA,Society for Women Artists.

I will be away  taking a watercolour course at Dedham Hall next week and when I return I will be demonstrating for the Chandlers Ford Art Society.

All of my news will be posted on my web site and my 2013 programme of UK Workshops should be ready  by the end of this month.

I have incredible projects that I am working on and next year looks as though it is going to be really exciting. But then again,my life always is!

Last Days Of Summer 2012

Roses from my cottage garden this afternoon

I have a full week,in fact I have a full month or even year as I am finding the need to juggle my time wisely at the moment. But this afternoon the sun shone and everyone who is waiting for an email from me will be surprised to see I took time out to escape to my cottage garden and paint what may be the last of my summer roses. These gorgeouss pink blooms grow outside my kitchen window so I see them daily and they beg me to paint them. Today I listened to their pleas, picked up my brushes and painted purely for the fun of creating one of my favourite flowers in a soft loose composition.

If you adore painting flowers catch every seasonal bloom before its too late.

Today I did just that!


For artists who attended my demonstration at Virginia Water Art Society recently this is a similar technique to the one demonstrated on the evening. I hope you like it!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Virginia Water Art Society 2012

Roses from my studio collection

Last night I gave a demonstration to Virginia Water Art Society. I will confess I spent yesterday painting and working on a fabulous new horse racing scene that really was so exciting that I found  leaving it to load my car and drive to the venue almost impossible.  As I reached the motorway I realised there was a hold up which meant I would be delayed in traffic for twenty minutes but finally the roads cleared and I reached my destination.

I was welcomed immediately by society members and as soon as I had set up and the opening speech had been made I  looked at the full room and  began my demonstration which covered how I feel about watercolour, my use of the medium for a variety of subjects from working with washes to jumping in directly with a subject.

At this point a photographer was there from the local press who wished to take a photo of me for the Surrey Herald. For someone who used to hate having their photgraph taken I now seem to pass these situations off with a smile and with ease so I have certainly changed!

As I talked I looked around the room full of enthusiastic faces, all smiling in my direction and at the break, loved listening and answering questions from everyone who came to talk to me or buy cards or copies of my book which I hadn't realised had sold out by the end of the evening.

 I talked about creating watercolours full of interest, life and movement. Soft washes as backdrops for landscapes or portraits that glowed quietly. Textural effects for painting koi carp, sea scenes and cockerels by placing pigment on paper and working with it to develop depth and unique patterns.

Time flew. Before I knew it  the end of the evening had arrived and it was time to close my demonstration and this is where a member of the auidence asked me  how I would paint a rose. With minutes left I quickly  showed my favourite way of painting  these beautiful flowers. Considering it was such a glorious day yesterday it was the perfect end to a perfect evening.

 Summer Roses

The traffic on my way home was quiet so the journey was far shorter on my return but this is where I had time to think about how lucky I am. I adore working in watercolour and private time painting in my studio for galleries is so precious to me. But to be able to escape occasionally and share my love for watercolour with societies such as this one is sheer joy.Where I meet enthusiastic artists all eager to learn about techniques which can be  used in addition to their own styles. The feedback I recieve is often that " I am a breath of fresh air" . I think this is mainly because I do  approach demonstrating differently. I want everyone who watches me to leave the room 100% inspired and racing to paint.I hope the members who were there last night feel that way but as usual I have had the same effect on myself and on my easel right now is probably the best  painting I have ever created because colours flowed and the subject looks mysteriously magical.

And on that note I am going to get back to painting!

By the way I am hearing from so many artists who attended my workshops  this year letting me know they  have won competitions, have been accepted into art societies and are showing in galleries for the first time. This is the kind of news that is music to my ears otherwise there would be no point in holding workshops! My next programme of dates will be available soon but places next year are limited as I have major projects and shows to work on so please book early if you are interested as the waiting list to get on sessions continually grows!


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Delft Blue : Delphiniums


Working in my garden enjoying the last of this years warm sunshine , I observed the various hues of blue in the late flowering delphiniums in one flower bed.  Its' quite amazing that they are putting on such a wonderful display as the plants themselves were discovered on a sale section of a garden centre.They looked poor in condition and ready for a compost heap. But the pots  were large and  we took a risk by buying them. Planting almost dead looking species throughout our  cottage  flower beds we didn't really expect much of them this year, if anything at all next year. However, we have been rewarded with a gorgeous display of late flowering delphiniums in beautiful hues of blue. As I took my easel  outside to work in sunshine on a gallery show piece I soon became distracted and allowed colour to flow and form floral  shapes in an abstract manner.


I learn from these relaxing experiments. I love how without my help petals are forming as individual flower shapes are created by pigment and water interaction as in this favourite section.

I have only used two colours in this piece and will decide on whether to add further detail later.For now I am simply enjoying watching paint dry in sunshine. What a great job I have!


I have also leanerd quite a lot from those dead looking plants,tips you may find useful.

1) Never give up on anything as it may reward you later on.

2) Have patience! Waiting for these flowers to bloom has really been worth it. 

3) Beauty isn't always instant!