Sunday, 30 December 2012


I have painted these flowers lots of times and was surprised that when I came to save it on my pc I found that it is the 10th effort as well as various paintings including Agapanthus, rather than single studies.
I still really love them and have tried endlessly to grow them. My painting partner, Jan, gave me a book on how to grow them for Christmas, so that we can both try to get it right,  and it was this book that set me off on another attempt to capture their elegance!

The painting was done in my by now familiar method, although I did try something a bit different at the end, but we will get to that later.

Fabriano Artistico Extra White 'not' paper, and a mixture of Daniel Smith and Graham Paints and my synthetic 007 series brushes.

I started with the wash using a mixture of the colours intended for the flowers, mixing the paint on wet paper, not on the palette.

I tried to keep it fairly light with lots of white paper remaining. This gives a bit more flexibility about where the heads can be placed.

I then drew out the arrangement, putting plenty of detail in the uppermost flower, and less in the second one. At this stage I pencilled in the stem of a possible 3rd flower head knowing that 3 is better than 2 in general

I painted in the two flowers and decided that I would need the third one, which I added without much drawing at all, using my laden brush to create each bud. By simply pressing the brush onto the paper I got some lovely shapes which I then connected to the stem that was already in position. By doing it this way, the 3rd flower is much looser than the other two, and hopefully disappears a bit into the background.

When the painting of the flowers and leaves was complete I realised that the background was far too pale, so I had a go at darkening it by simply washing colour over the already painted flowers. I don't think I have done this before. I usually paint the background around the flowers, but I wanted to keep it a bit looser and it seems to have worked. I had to be careful to use the lightest of touches, and not disturb the paint under the wash, but I think it has worked ok. This might not be my most exciting painting, but its lovely to have the studio back and it was great to be able to paint again!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Now that all my cards have been sent and received, I can share this year's designs with you.

 I paint a full sized painting, then reduce it, manipulate it slightly in Photoshop if necessary and then print as many as I require for the majority of friends, colleagues and clients to whom I want to send cards. I also use the main design to create an e mail card which I use to send mainly to clients.
In addition to this I paint card sized paintings to send to my daughter and a couple of very special piano  teacher, Liz, and my exhibition/ painting partner, Jan.
This year the theme of the special paintings was all the same, but each one is an individual one-off design.
I would be the first to admit that thinking of something new every year can be a bit of a challenge.

I was enormously flattered by the response I got from an ex colleague to whom I sent an e mail greeting this year, and she wrote back to ask for a hard copy, as she has saved all my cards over the many years since we worked together, and they are all hung on her bathroom door where they continue to give her pleasure all year and frequently give rise to lovely comments from her visitors. I was very happy to oblige!

This was my printed card, which some of you might recognise from a previous post. I try to be seasonal rather than religious so that I never give offence.

The three cards below are the 'specials', all called 'Frosted Berries', one of which may become the mass produced card next year if I fail to think of anything better!

May I take this opportunity to thank all of you who look at my blog, thanks for all the comments, and may I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
See you in 2013

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Trying to make the most of my studio before it becomes the guest room for Christmas visitors, I was determined to paint one more painting before they arrived!
I have tried to grow these beautiful flowers several times, but they are plants which enjoy rocky terrain with good drainage, so my water-logged clay means that I have never succeeded, so I have painted from photos in gardening books!

The paper is my usual Fabriano Artistico Extra White 'Not' paper. Unfortunately it is a new block and has come detached from the cardboard backing, and when I returned from Art Group on Thursday the two sections had become completely separated. I must have put the block back in the cover the wrong way around without noticing, and it was not until I had done the initial wash and was two thirds through the drawing that I realised that I was working on the wrong side of the paper.

I am not sure how much difference this makes, although the texture is nicer on the right side, but I also noticed that the block is separating half way down, and when painting with fair amounts of water, the individual pages are lifting, which defeats the object of working on a block!  Call me picky, but surely paper of that quality should be more fit for purpose than that.
I did think it was maybe just a one-off flaw, but when I consulted my painting pal, Jan said she was having exactly the same problem......not good enough in my opinion.

Anyway, enough of the moaning and on to the painting. I started by painting an initial wash using the predominant colours in the photos (I used several photos to give me various views of the flower heads) and then I lightly pencilled in the drawing.

I painted the flowers using various combinations of all my blues except indigo....Cobalt, Ultramarine,Anthaquinachridone, Teal and Pthalo.
I tried to keep some of the petals crisply defined, and some I tried to lose their edges. On the LH side the flower head was painted quite loosely as well.

It wasn't a very long task as I wanted to keep everything quite light, so there was no need to darken the background, which can take some time when you have to paint around all the petals and stems, or add too much foliage, which I tried to keep very low key. The stamens were added using white Acrylic Gouache and cadmium orange and yellow.

I did find the finished result a bit 'cold' so I carefully added the lightest touch of Quinachridone Magenta to the tips of a number of the petals and some of the same colour into the darkest areas to add a little warmth to the painting.

                                                          'Meconopsis'    26cm x 36cm

Now that I look at it on screen, I think I do need to graduate out a little, the dark areas that I have painted behind the top two flowers, or maybe I will just lighten the existing dark patches with a little water and kitchen towel.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


This weeks subject at Avon Valley Artists was children. I knew the subject was approaching and had found a lovely picture of a young boy enjoying the taclie sensation of handling a modern bird sculpture. It had several advantages, not least the inclusion of plenty of garden and some flowers, but most of all, his face was hidden, something I have never got to grips with, in all my years of painting!

It was a simple 2 hour exercise, which I really enjoyed, but do not think this one will get a frame.

Usual paper, and usual palette and I think it will be called something like....'I Only Want To Touch!'

Monday, 10 December 2012

Butterfly 2

I thought it was time to give the butterfly book another airing. This time the painting is inspired by a photograph of a Malaysian Clipper. I make no apology for the fact that the finished painting in no way resembles the Clipper, but I wanted to use some of the beautiful blues present in the original picture.

I began by washing the sheet of Fabriano Artistico Extra White 'Not' 300gm paper with clean water, and dropped in a variety of blues, including Cobalt, Ultramarine, Quinachridone  and Teal. I also added a bit of Quinachridone Magenta in a couple of places.

I then did the drawing, trying to balance both sides of the butterfly, but adding a bit of variety.

The painting was done using the same colours as the background with additions of some earth colours for the body and some black ink with plenty of water for the bottom edges of the wings.

The original wash gave lovely variations of colours between the wing markings, but it did have the disadvantage of taking away some of the freshness and translucence of the blue markings. Trying to keep it as fresh as possible, I did use some white gouache to replace the lost whiteness of the paper. I was not totally sure what I was doing with the painting, as I wanted it to be a bit loose and to have some lost edges, so I tried to keep reminding myself that the wings needed treating in the same way as I normally treat flower petals, and if I did that, it would turn out ok.

I painted the upper side much more loosely using less careful brushstrokes and plenty of water so that the top left edges bled into the background and I omitted quite a bit of the detail in this area, too, I then completed the background with washes of Teal Blue and Indian Yellow, and added a half identifiable second Butterfly in a much warmer colour.

When the painting was finished, I completed the image by adding black lines using Indian ink on a fine paintbrush and a fine-line permanent marker to highlight some of the drawing lines and I then, as usual, gave the whole thing a good splatter, using a variety of colours from the painting, including the Indian Ink..

On the whole, I am very pleased with the outcome and feel that the subject is worth pursuing. My only reservation is the second butterfly which I hope does not detract from the freshness of the main subject.

                                                    'Butterfly 2'    30cm x 45cm

Since finishing the painting, and looking at it from time to time propped up in the studio, I decided that the secondary butterfly needed its shape improving and the whit areas on the RH side needed a little toning down. I have made the necessary adjustments and hope that, although they are minimal, you think I was right to do so! (Taking photos at different times of day makes consistency of colour a bit apologies!)

Still not satisfied with the bottom LH corner, so have played around a bit more and at one stage felt that I had overworked it, but I hope I have got it back on track!

Friday, 7 December 2012


In amongst all the bustle which the beginnings of the Christmas festival brings, it is difficult to find time to paint. I have painted several Christmas cards, but cannot share those with you until after the event for obvious reasons! In order to keep a bit of sanity, I looked out a simple, gentle calm photo of lilac Asters and have had it on the table all week where I could do a bit now and again when I had 5 minutes.

It was completed in very much the same way as I do lots of my paintings. I wet the paper - Fabriano Artistico Extra White ( but Not this time) - and dropped in colours around the paper, trying to get the purples where the flowers might be and the greens where the leaves and background might be. It was left to dry completely.

I then drew in the flower shapes and painted them a mixture of Ultramarine Violet, Quinachridone Purple and Quinachridone Magenta all by Daniel Smith. I used white acrylic gouache where I wanted the highlights and where I wanted some of the petals to be lost into the background, and I painted the yellow centres with a mix of Hansa Yellow and Quinachridone Rust by Graham& Co and Schminke Transparent Orange.
Once all the flowers, leaves and stems were painted, I darkened the bottom left background and when dry gave the whole painting a good spatter to loosen the image a bit.
The finished result is very restrained, but I think I am pleased with it and don't think it will need any tweaking before mounting!

'Asters'   26 x 36 cm

Friday, 30 November 2012

Water Lilies

One of the great things about Avon Valley Artists is that the set programme pushes you out of your comfort zone and can result in surprising paintings. This week was no exception and the painting I produced is so what I didn't expect and so unlike my usual style. It was not intentional, just the way it went!

The subject was 'Water', and being me, I chose a photo of a couple of water lilies which I took last summer, where I had the joy of painting the flowers, but there was plenty of water to satisfy the subject.

I didn't stop to think think through the process, and I was so anxious to be seen to be painting water during the session (as one of the organisers, I stick rigidly to the rules ) that I didn't think about how to integrate the flowers into the water once it was painted! I also struggled a bit as I did not have much detail in the water to help me produce it and it is not something I paint on a regular basis so I had to make it up a bit as I went along!

When I had finished the water - I used mixtures of  Ultramarine and Anthraquinachridone Blues with Teal Blue and some white Acrylic Gouache added into the wet washes - and started painting the leaves, I realised that all the hard water edges were dry and probably too dark to soften successfully.

 It needed a change of plan. I made the decision to continue with the 'illustrative' style of painting and added the flowers with no bleed at the edges of the petals and shadows very cleanly defined. I did add plenty of splatter at the end to soften the overall effect, but still the painting is startlingly dissimilar to my usual aspirations.

What I did enjoy, was having a go at painting dew drops on the front petals of the LH Lily. I saw this process illustrated ages ago in a book by Jan Kunz 'Painting Watercolour Florals That Glow' but had not given it a try until now. I did a bit of practice first (the trials can be partly seen at the side of the initial drawing) as they do need a light touch, but I think they work well, but I was careful not to put in too many and overdo the effect!

Monet can sleep peacefully in his resting place! No threat there!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Whilst carrying out a construction job in the garden, I noticed that the cyclamen were just starting to put up tiny buds, and it reminded me that I had taken some photos last year that might do as a starting point for a painting. I have, also to admit that I love the paintings of Yoko Nagayama ( an artist whose web site was sent to me by Peter Ward ....thank you Peter ) and she has painted a wonderful very freely painted study of Cyclamen.

I started by doing a fairly accurate drawing of a group of the flowers, vaguely following the photograph, but trying to keep the flowers in a tight cluster.

This proved to be a bit of a mistake, as I wanted to have lots of lost edges and to achieve this, I needed to wash in the background. The result of this was that later in the process, the pencil lines became almost impossible to remove! The wash should have come first, and the drawing second.

However, by doing it this way around, I was able to lightly blot out patches of leaves and petals that I thought would need to be lighter.

I started with the leaves so that I could use water to blend a dark base upwards into the pale pink, and I also wanted to paint the stems in before tackling the flowers. So it was just a case of painting leaves and flowers and adding darks between the stems until all that was left to do' was to loosely paint the flowers.

I started with the very strong 'Opera Rose' at the base of each flower, added lots of water and tried not to have too many identifiable petals across the top of the painting. It was at this stage that I discovered that I could not remove the pencil lines, so I had to resort to a bit of Gouache to cover them. It seemed to work well as I was able to add more water to the edges of the petals and get them to bleed into the background.

I added a bit of dark in places to ensure that some petals were pushed a bit forwards, and others were pushed back, and then a final good splattering of white acrylic gouache and the painting was complete.


By my standards, this is only a smallish painting, 32cm x 22cm and is painted on Fabriano Artistico Extra White, 300g Not paper.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Globe Thistles

The appalling weather has made it easy to spend plenty of time in the studio, and it was nice to look for something floral to paint after spending time on a couple of other things. These Globe Thistles are illustrated in one of my favourite books and as I do not often paint blue floral studies I thought I would give them a go.

In order to get the prickly heads with my usual dark background, I decided to paint the background first and then use Acrylic Gouache to paint parts of the flowers.

In order to identify the flower shapes, I painted a strong wash over the whole paper, using a mixture of Anthraquinachridone, and Ultramarine blues with some Pthalo Blue and Green. I also added some Indigo into the bottom dark corners. I realised that I would not be able to change the background once I had started painting the flowers, so it was important to get the strength right, remembering that it would dry paler in colour!

Whilst the wash was still very wet, I used Sea Salt to identify the flowers, sprinkling generous amounts in circles, where I wanted the flower heads to be. At this stage the salt looks very dark as it absorbs the pigment beneath it.  I left the painting overnight, as it is vital that the salt is absolutely dry before it is removed.
The following morning I used a small plastic glue spatula to remove the salt from the paper.

I lightly sketched in the leaves and stems, and then proceeded to fill in the flower heads. It was a bit like dots and dashes to give the texture to the globes, using various blues and some Quinachridone Magenta and Pthalo Blue to give variety.

I lightened each flower on the top and to the  right and finished of with Acrylic Gouache to give the highlights


I added the leaves and the stems, and finally added a dark wash of Ultramarine Blue and Moonglow to the darker side of each globe for the shadows. Whilst this was still wet I scratched a little paint out from the wash to give some dark spikes to the undersides. I used the ferrule of an old paint brush which had lost all its hairs!

I am pleased with the outcome and really like the pale passage in the background in the middle of the lower half of the painting, but I wish I had had the courage to make the dark background passages even darker.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Shiny Metal

This week's subject at AVA was shiny metal objects. I chose to include a lovely copper skillet that I had recently bought on a day out, and an accompanying copper jug which I had bought from the internet. I added a handful of mixed fruit and that was all I needed to get started.

I did the drawing at home as I wanted to get well on with the painting before the end of the weekly session. I used Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough 300g paper and my usual palette.

I started the painting by putting on a reasonably strong wash down the left hand side, using mainly Translucent Orange with some Pthalo Green, French Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Teal Blue. I made sure the wash included the left hand edge of the copper pan to give some lost edges on that side.
As the subject was shiny metal objects, I painted the pan and jug first and worked the reflections as best I could. It was amazingly difficult as the light was changing and things in the room were moving, so altering the highlights.
I then painted the fruits, working across the sheet from left to right, getting lighter as I went. The fig was the last thing to be painted, as this was the only fruit that I had to paint from memory!
I also washed in paler and paler colours across the background to give me a very light top R H corner.

When all was dry, I gave the oranges a quick rub with sandpaper to texture their skin, and I think it is done.

Having had a look at the painting with eyes half closed, I am not sure that the top pear could realistically be in that position, but it is too late to try to remove it. Maybe nobody else will notice! I will live with it propped up in the studio for a few days before cutting a mount and framing it just to make sure nothing else wants tweaking!

                                                            'Fruit In A Copper Pan'

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Koi Carp

This week has been a bit odd in that I have had a visitor and so my studio has had to become a bedroom, with only very limited access. Therefore there has been no painting since my last visit to AVA on Thursday, and I have not had time either to get onto the pc to post the painting from that session.

All is back to normal again, so I will share the Thursday result with you. The topic was 'Mystery Creature' and we were given a wide range of tropical fish pictures from which to produce a painting. There was no previous prep, so it was all accomplished within the two hour slot.

I chose to paint a pond of Koi Carp[ and another unknown fish ( I liked its colour ).

I wanted some movement in the water, so started the painting by swirling a white wax candle around the paper. This resists the paint when it is applied and retains the white of the paper. The only problem is that you cannot see where you have been with the candle, so lightness of touch is required, so that it is not over-done.

I then drew and painted the fish in the usual way and applied a nice deep blue background, and it is at this point that the candle wax really shows to advantage. At this point you know if you have got it right or not!

When the painting was finished as best it could be in the time available, I made sure that it was totally dry and then lightly sandpapered the bodies of the fish to hopefully produce a fish scales effect. Again, lightness of touch is needed!

The paper is Fabriano, which is of a good enough quality to allow you to abuse it a bit with things like wax and sandpaper.

On reviewing the results, I wish that I had made a bit more of the hint of more fish in the background, and some of the carp are a bit of a funny shape (they appear to have flippers rather than fins!) but apart from that it was great fun and I really enjoyed it!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


I can never go too long without having another go at these lovely flowers. I took the image from my book on Iris by Claire Austin ( daughter of the famous rose grower, I believe ) and the photos are by Clay Perry, a phenomenal flower photographer, whose name I always look out for. If I see a Gardening or flower book with photos by him, I always buy it as I know it will be inspirational.
At a recent demonstration, Paul Weaver talked about the way in which any pencil with 'H' in its description often scratches the paper causing permanent damage. In light of this, I did my drawing in 2B pencil, trying to hold the end of a fairly long pencil just by the tip and keeping the fleshy part of my hand off the paper to try to avoid getting the paper dirty.
I found it really difficult and the resultant drawing still smudged and the lines were much more pronounced than I wanted them to be. This meant that I would need to be extra careful with the initial washes, not to go over the lines, so that I could rub them out before proceeding any further!

I started the painting by lightly identifying each flower, trying not to put in too much detail at this stage, although I did get a bit carried away with the RH semi-bud. I also added a 'fall' to the RH bud to give it a bit more interest and to complete the arch of the composition.
At this stage I was able to remove most of the drawing lines and give the rest of the surface of the paper a good clean, as despite my efforts, the 2B had smudged quite badly.

Once all the flower shapes were identified, I proceeded in the usual way, going over each petal and adding background where I thought it helped me to get the strength of colour right.
It seemed a bit 'fiddley' at the time and I was a bit afraid that the finished painting would be a bit tight, but there was little I could do about it at this stage.

 I used lots of blues in the background  hopefully to compliment the oranges of the iris ( achieved mainly by using glorious Translucent Orange and Quinachridone Rust with some Indian Yellow. I tried to leave some light passages in the background to make the finished painting more interesting, and I gave it a good splatter using the Translucent Orange and white acrylic gouache to loosen the finished painting.

I used Fabriano Artistico Extra white paper, 300g Rough 30 x 45 cm, and my palette for the flowers was an initial wash with mainly Indian Yellow, followed by detail using the same yellow, Translucent Orange and Quinachridone Rust and the background is mainly Ultramarine Blue, Apatite Green with some Translucent Orange and Anthraquinone Blue

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


During a recent trip to my family, my sister bought me a lovely book of butterflies. I thought they might make a nice change from flowers and hoped that they would suit my style of working. This is my first attempt, so I hope that with a bit of practice I will be able to refine the results.
I used Fabriano paper, and my usual palette, deliberately choosing to paint a butterfly with lots of orange and green so that I could make further use of the tube of Translucent Orange from Schminke. The green, I mixed from Teal Blue from Daniel Smith and Indian Yellow from Daler Rowney.
I did a simple drawing, and then painted in the background in the same way that I do with the flower studies, and whilst it was still wet, I sprayed the edges around the butterfly with granulating fluid, so that the colours of the background seeped into the butterfly shape, to give some soft edges.

I then painted the butterfly itself using the two colours mentioned and adding others where necessary. I think there is Quinachridone rust and Transparent Orange Iron amongst others.

I used Indian ink on the reverse end of a thin paint brush to put in the black lines and immediately sprayed with granulating fluid to soften them and to create some texture.

I finally gave the whole painting a good splatter, using all the colours used in the painting but predominantly black and white, being careful to allow each colour to completely dry before adding the next.

I think it has worked sufficiently well to encourage me to have another go. There might even be a series in the making!

Sunday, 4 November 2012


Not my cup of tea, but it was AVA subject of the week so I had to get down to it. I am a great admirer of John Lidzey's work, so I had a quick look at his technique and had a go at a corner of my dining room. He paints lots of dark interiors with light coming through a well placed window. I did not have a window, but I tried to make the objects stand out against dark corners. It may not be the most successful painting, but although it took me a couple of hours to do the drawing, I did enjoy painting it!

Sorry, I have no information about the paper as it was a piece I found in the cupboard which needed using up!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


The garden is looking very forlorn at the moment, and the high winds have blown all the tall Cosmos over, although they are still full of flowers. The Hydrangeas are beginning to fade and they are taking on that very muted colour which is typical of this time of year.
I collected a couple of heads, and some Prunus (Ithink) leaves which have turned the most amazing colour and some Sambuca leaves for contrast, and have had a go at painting a study of them all.  I have found it really difficult to capture that slightly faded and soft colouring in the Hydrangeas, but it has given me another opportunity to play around with the Quinachridone Purple and the Moonglow, but maybe it is time to look for a change in the predominant palette, and have a go with my new tube of Translucent Orange instead.

Not sure if I will frame this painting, but nothing goes to waste, and it will probably get a single mount and be put in the browser as a bargain!


                                            'Hydrangeas' Watercolour on Fabriano Extra White
                                                                     300g 12ins x 18ins

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Thursday again and another lovely morning spent painting at AVA. The subject this week was fruit and with my present passion for Quinachridone Purple still strong, I had decided to paint dark grapes, hanging on the vine.
I decided to have a bit of a go prior to the session, so that I could test out a few colour combinations for the grapes and I had a good look at the way the leaves are formed by accessing photos on the internet.

At this stage I must apologise as I am going to post two paintings, and I did take photos of the original washes and drawing to show you, but when I went to remove the card from the camera, I found the slot empty and the card already in the reader, where it has been since the last post. Having completed the paintings, I have obviously lost the original drawings. Another senior moment!!

I did complete the first 'trial' painting, but although I was generally happy with the fruit, I was less happy with the leaves. I had painted the initial wash far too dark, and when I came to deal with the leaves the top left one especially became very muddy. Although I tried to wash some of it away, being 'Leonardo' paper, I could not budge it.

Now, my mind is mulling over the possibility of cutting around the fruit and using it as a collage some time in the future.I was also unsure about the bottom RH background. The 'lilac' shapes seem a bit hard and solid.

All this gave me ideas about how to tackle the painting at club this morning, so I used a sheet of Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough 300gm paper on a block and repeated a background wash and drawing.

Although I was much more pleased with this initial stage, I did realise that I had not left very much white at the top into which to paint some grapes with pure colour.

It became quite difficult to keep the grapes fresh as I had to paint nearly all of them over a background colour, mainly 'Moonglow' by Daniel Smith, and this is quite a dull blue/purple.
 In light of the muddy leaf in the previous painting, I kept the treatment of the leaves to a minimum, as this was all about the fruit, and in this painting I did try to reproduce the light bloom which appears on grapes and other fruit, but which disappears as they ripen.

In the first painting, I do like the very dark fruit at the bottom of the LH bunch, and I think that the second painting could do with a bit of this treatment to give it more umph, but I will live with it for a few days before deciding if it needs tinkering with, or if it is finished.

As an aside, the green on the LH lower leaf was created by dropping Apatite Green, by Daniel Smith onto wet paper. The paint appears to have granulated without any help from me, but also the granulated particles have collected in the hollows of the rough paper, giving a really lovely effect. This is probably more apparent if you click on the image to see it enlarged. I shall try that again!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Pots,Vases And Flowers

This weeks title for the AVA group session  was Pots,Vases and Flowers. I had already done a drawing for this session, which I was unable to leave alone (see previous post) so I had a bit of a rush job to do a drawing and put on the first wash before Thursdays session. I picked the Cosmos from the garden and made sure I had various pinks and some whites.

I used a piece of Whatman 300g Not, extra white paper that I had bought to try, being attracted by the extra white label. I am informed by Peter that this is no longer available, but I felt it needed using up, as I seem to remember it was not cheap. As I was going to put a nice juicy wet wash onto the sheet, I did stretch it to make it easier to work.

I drew out the pots and flowers and then, using Quinachridone Magenta, Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Teal Blue, I liberally washed areas of the paper. I did make sure that some parts were left white to accommodate the white flowers.

Before starting painting on Thursday morning, I used a drawing pen and some masking fluid to draw in the very fine lines of the leaves as I wanted them to be a very fresh green and so wanted the starting point to be white.
All went well, I painted in the flowers trying to create some lost edges on the LH side, and did some work on the two white pots on the left.

At home , later when I came to add more to the painting, I tried to remove the masking fluid. Most was fine, but I noticed that I had quite a few tiny specks which were difficult to remove. On closer inspection, I saw that the drawing pen had scratched the surface of the paper and the masking fluid has gone into the scratches. The result was that I slightly spoiled some of the surface getting it all off. This has not spoiled the painting, but that is the first time I have seen that happen, and in future I will be very careful to only use the drawing pen with the lightest of touches. I do like the fine lines one can create with these pens, so I do want to continue to use it. I will also look to see if the tips are burred in any way.

                                                            'Cosmos and White Pots'
                                                Whatman 300g not paper,     46x33cm

Monday, 15 October 2012


Because of the lack of sun this summer, the nasturtiums are now in full flower, when in fact they should be just about over. This has meant unexpected colour at this time of year. I have had the added bonus of plants without blackfly! We have a subject 'Pots, Vases and Flowers coming up at AVA, so I thought that I might do a slightly larger painting and take the opportunity to use up some single sheets of Whatman Paper that was sitting around in the cupboard. The sheet I chose is 'rough' and the piece of paper measures approx. 60 x 40 cm. Because it was a loose sheet, and 300gms, I decided to stretch it onto a board, as I was not sure how wet-in-wet it would be.

I did the drawing ready for the next club meeting, as I wanted to start the actual painting during the session and not spend the whole 2 hours drawing. I also wanted to live with the drawing propped up in the studio for a couple of days to make sure the composition was ok.

The best laid plans.......! The following day I could not resist adding a bit of paint here and there, and before I really knew what was happening, I had gone too far to take the painting to AVA to finish. It has been fairly compulsive right through to the end, and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

I chose to paint the flowers etc first with the intention of adding a fairly strong background down the LH side and in the LH top corner, overpainting the flowers and pot to give some lost and semi lost edges. I used the remaining scraps of Schminke Transparent Orange donated by Peter, and added a mixture of Graham's Hansa Yellow and Daniel Smiths's Quinachridone Coral. For the leaves I used  Apatite Green with added Cadmium Yellow.

The background is painted using combinations of the colours already used in the flowers and leaves with a bit of added Indigo. I tried to leave some white spaces to give a bit of variety and light to the background. At this stage, I felt it was going quite well, and I had invested some time in getting this far, and I will admit at this stage to being quite anxious about continuing. There was still plenty to do and therefore plenty of opportunity to spoil the painting. I am not sure where the anxiety came from. It is some time since I felt like this about a painting!!

I made a conscious decision to slow down, and just paint small bits at a time, and to think through carefully what I was going to do at each stage. It was really enjoyable to see the painting develop slowly but surely, and although I am going to live with it for a few days before mounting and framing - just in case I feel it needs a tweak here and there - I think it is finished and its time to stop! I am really pleased with it, and although I try not to think about the Wells exhibition next year, I cannot help feeling that this painting might be a contender to be my 'signature' painting for posters, invitations etc. We will see, there is lots of time to paint somethings else which might fit the bill!

'Nasturtiums'   Watercolour  50 x 36 cms

Just as a small finishing comment, I had to alter the RH side of the jug after having painted the background to identify the jug's shape. I was able to use some clean water and a stiffish brush to lift out the paint and re-position it. I am sure that I would have been unable to do that, had I been using the 'Leonardo' paper.

All that remains now is to stretch another piece of paper and get the drawing done for the AVA session!

Ps........I did eventually tweak it a bit. The leaf behind the white jug seemed a bit odd, so I wet it lightly and removed the dark shadow line, and I added a little more dark on the copper pot behind this leaf to help with recession, being careful to keep the suggestion of a reflection of the jug handle. It is now definitely finished and in a frame.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


The subject at AVA last week was figures and portraits.As I am sure you are aware this is completely out of my comfort zone!! We were  able to either paint from a model, or from a photograph of our choice. I volunteered to be the model for the first half an hour, thinking that this would delay and shorten the time I would have to spend trying to do something reasonable. I know that they are only shapes and should be treated like any other series of shapes, but I do find them difficult.
For the remainder of the morning, after having done my stint of sitting, I needed a figure or figures which was simple, and I found a picture of a child sat in front of a begging bowl, almost completely swathed in a dark grey garment. I decided to change the colours of the cloth to make a much more lively picture, but I still wanted to capture the fear and poverty reflected in his/her expression. I hope the bright colours of the cloth do not detract from this!

The work was done on Fabriano Artistico paper, and I made good use of the remaining blob of Schmincke Transparent Orange, together with a variety of reds, browns and oranges.

Autumn Scene

This was the subject at Avon Valley Artists a couple of weeks ago, and against my usual practise, I decided to paint from imagination.
I had some quite nice props in the studio including teasels, bull rushes, poppy heads etc. and thought one or two of these could be useful.

I started by painting over the whole sheet of paper, to give me the background, and I used some salt to create a few grass shapes within this background, although these became lost in the final composition.

I drew in three teasels on the LH side of the painting and a few grass shapes on the RH side and using lots of the browns,yellow ochre, oranges and reds, I painted in the 'Autumn Field'. I also used a new colour for me, Translucent Orange by Schminke, which again, Peter was generous enough to give me a sample. Although I have been determined not to extend my palette any more, I do think I must have a tube of this colour!!

Since taking the photo, I have extended the stalk of the middle teasel, as in this photo it looks as if two seed heads grow from one stem, and I do not think they do that! I used Fabriano Artistico Extra White paper       ( 35cm x 51cm) so that I could move the background paint around in the initial wash. I also added a few grasses using acrylic inks as they readily cover dark areas.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Fuchsia Again

A few weeks ago, Peter gave me a small amount of Quinachridone Purple by Daniel Smith to try out. I painted a purple skirted Fuchsia, and said at the time that I thought parts of it were a bit heavy and the bottom half did not match the top half, as I used up all the sample and had to mix my own as near as possible. Since then I have acquired a tube of this pigment for myself and decided to have a second go at the painting, and make it appear more fragile, like the actual flowers. The painting was done on 'Leonardo' (I am determined to use it all up!) with my usual palette of colours, mainly Quinachridone Purple and Magenta, and Opera Pink.


                                                                'Fuchsia'  26cm x 36cm

Although it is great to paint sometimes with really bold watercolours, I do prefer this version.