Friday, 20 December 2013

Season's Greetings

I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

For those of you who are interested, the card this year was painted by cutting a small square stamp with the branches of a conifer scored into it. The stamp was made of ordinary mount board, and I used the same stamp throughout. I painted the stamp with a mixture of Apatite Green and Paynes Grey and then pressed it onto the dry paper in several positions.
I then lightly dampened the top edges of some of the trees, and added trunks and shadowing in the snow.
I gave the whole painting a good splatter of white acrylic gouache to represent the falling snow and then scanned it into my pc, added the lettering and border and simply printed the required number.
See you all in the new year....have fun!

Thursday, 19 December 2013


This will probably be my last big painting before turning the studio into the guest bedroom. It is called peonies, but I am not sure that the image is botanically correct or if peonies exist in this lovely colour, but I don't really think it matters. I just had the urge to use this lovely Quinachridone Coral which has been tempting me for ages. I took the shapes from a variety of gardening books of which I have many!

The process was quite simple.....a decent drawing, painting the flowers and then adding a background wash and over painting the leaves.

Sorry about the photo. I am not sure why the drawing is so faint. I took the photo in the usual way but can only assume that the poor light we have had recently is to blame. I also have no idea why the second image has acquired a blue background. It is definitely white!

The flowers were painted using only the Quinachridone Coral in various strengths and a little Indian Yellow to add vartiety.

I used Moonglow with a little of the coral for the dark centres. It made a lovely colour, but even at this stage I was a little worried about the centre of the LH flower. I then removed the pencil lines from the flowers, leaving only those that defined the outer edges. These will be removed after the background wash has dried.

I added a wash to the background using Apatite Green Genuine mixed with the coral and a little Indian yellow. These colours were just dropped onto wet paper and allowed to blend naturally.

I over painted the wash with more Apatite and Hookers greens to produce the leaf shapes, and finished off the markings in the centre of the flowers. Finally I darkened a bit of the background in the centre of the painting.

'Coral Beauties'
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico Extra White Not
45 cm x 30 cm

I did wash away a bit of the colour in the LH flower centre, which I think helps, and I am particularly pleased with the way some of the leaves have picked up the background colours.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas cards

This week at Avon Valley Artists Group it was time for those who wanted to, to prepare for christmas. I always try to prepare my daughter's christmas card during this session, but I have to admit that I am beginning to run out of ideas. She, unfortunately for me, keeps them all, or I might be tempted to look up the old records and adapt some of those from earlier times. I think I paint a little better now.
However, the task had to be faced and putting up the christmas decorations this week, I thought I might try to replicate the garland that hangs above the mantle piece.

I began by measuring out a piece of paper the size of my card envelopes, doubled its width and folded it in half, to ensure the painting went on the correct half. I could do just a simple painting and then mount it on card, but I thought it might end up a bit heavy.

I started by applying a green and yellowish wash to the paper to sort of suit the holly, ivy and greenery I intended to use.
Using a pair of compasses, I drew a circle very faintly in the middle of the painted paper.

I then began filling in the circle with holly,ivy and evergreen sprigs.

When the circle was complete, I painted two scraps of paper with some green and greenish-yellow paint to use as extra leaves to be applied 3D to the card.

I drew simple holly leaves on the dark green, and ivy leaves on the paler section and carefully cut around them. I then glued these leaves at random around the circle and added red circles cut using a hole punch from red painted paper. I lightly sprayed it with white acrylic gouache on a tooth brush to create very fine spatter, and added a highlight to the red circles.

I then printed a Season's Greetings label to stick on the bottom.

The label does not look quite straight, but in fact, it is. The water colour paper has buckled slightly and the label stands proud of the painting, so it looks odd in the photo. I only wish I had used a capital G on the label!

Because of the 3D nature of the card, I then had to create a box into which to put it. It was worth the trouble because I am sure she liked it when she opened it. One more job I can now tick off of the list!!

Saturday, 7 December 2013


After having spent quite a lot of time on tight precise images.....the butterflies and my daughter's Christmas card (which I will show you in a later post)........ I had the urge to paint something bold and free. I have a bunch of artificial flowers in the conservatory which it has never occurred to me before to use as subject matter. I love the very dark blue in some of the flowers and decided they were worth a go. Sorry....the photo does not do them justice!

The point of this exercise was to loosen up, so I decided that there would be no drawing at all in this painting.Nor was I concerned about producing a recognisable type of flower.

I simply wet the paper and dropped colour onto the sheet where I thought the flowers might be, adding greens below to suggest the stems and leaf positions

Without any drawing I began to do the flowers, working around the central area of each, which I had blotted out with a bit of tissue, whilst the wash was still damp.

I am a little disappointed with the flower on the lower right edge, but as a quick and spontaneous exercise, I am quite pleased with it. I might not have posted it except for one part of the painting which I really love and I thought you might like to know how I achieved it, if you haven't happened on it by accident already.

I really love the way the paint has travelled across the paper in little zig-zaggy lines almost as if the paint is granulating. At first I was not sure what I had done. Then I realised that I had wet the paper by spraying the surface. Hence, the paper was covered in tiny droplets of water and the paint ran through the drops but failed to cover the dry areas. What a lovely textural passage....I will definitely use that trick again.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


This weeks subject at Avon Valley Artists was Birds and Butterflies.
I have a book of butterfly photos and on browsing through it, came across a photo of a huge swarm of Monarch butterflies, sunning themselves on some warm rocks.

I thought it might make a lovely pattern painting.

                                          From 'Butterflies' By David Badger and Brian Kenny

I had no intention of making exact drawings of each butterfly, and was not even concerned about them being true monarchs. I just wanted to have a go at producing a fresh attractive painting where the subject was obviously butterflies, but nothing specific.
I liked the way there were lots of different shapes, plenty of white and that lovely rich orange colour. I instantly thought of using Transparent Orange and Pthalo and Cobalt Teal blues for the background.

The process was simple. I drew out the shapes using first a pencil and then a fine black liner pen. I then washed over the shapes with the Transparent Orange, leaving plenty of white. Large areas of black were painted in Indian Ink.
I used the two blues and some Quinachridone Rust for the background, and that was about all. Two points to make:
1. It took ages to do the drawings and I was quite bored with the whole thing by the time I got to the end of the pen drawing, and in places I got quite careless. It needs patience!
2. I had various pens on the table at the time, and did not realise that I had picked up a non permanent one for a small part of the drawing and so when I added the wash, the black lines bled into the wet paint.I need to be more careful!

                                                      'Butterflies' (unknown paper)