Monday, 23 October 2017

How long did it take you to paint that?

Welland Valley oil on canvas 100 x 40 cm

I have been asked that question many times, and you can almost see the questioner calculating in their mind how much they think the painting is worth! I found these considerations on Pinterest; it is the hours of errors, experimentation, frustration, joy, someones heart and soul, a small piece of their life you are buying.  In addition to this Welland Valley took me two research visits before I actually started painting, so that took time and fuel to get there. My first visit was a scouting expedition with a quick sketch and photograph. The light changed quickly and became very poor, so I went again on a sunny summer day. The bright atmosphere enabled me to see a lot more and the colours were much more cheerful. To get my, ‘eye in’ I used a thick felt pen on news paper. A pencil sketch + notes with more photographs were taken. The painting was done from start to finish in the studio.

The painting is a small section of the Welland Valley, viewed from the top of Sutton Hill. This is Richard Hart’s land.  Access to it is by a bridle way. Hidden amongst the trees is an old tumbled down cottage. Locals tell me a Mr Smith used to live there in the 1960s, it had running water but no electricity. A doctor advised the then asthmatic Mr Smith to live there as the air was of a better quality for his health.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Autumn landscape

Feeling a little ‘jaded,’ after working on a 100 x 40 cm painting I decided to do a smaller 30 x 40 cm autumn landscape. I used a limited palette of colours: Titanium white, Cadmium yellow pale, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine blue, and Viridian. This time I didn’t use a palette knife to apply the paint, just a brush. Two and a half hours later, painting complete and I feel reenergised and motivated to finish the larger one.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Flower Painting

Flower painting

Flowers were the subject for the art club painting night, so for a couple of days before I had been thinking about what to paint. I would like to share with you a few thoughts. Nothing quite like laying in a field of buttercups on a hot summers day looking up at the sky, however buttercups are past their best, but there are plenty of daisies and Queen Annes lace to conjure up memories of childhood. Some wild flowers are protected so a photograph would be necessary. June sees an abundance of garden flowers, but I didn’t want to raid my garden. Aldi has a good cheap selection and that statement flower from the  florist shop would be a bit expensive.Further inspiration? Vincent Van Gogh, Georgia O’ Keeffe, and Claude Monet are all master flower painters worth looking at. Modern, traditional, simple or complex? The Victorians used flowers as symbols. Many flowers were attributed with their own language. May be the gift of a painting could have a coded message? Everyone knows a red rose says ‘I love you,’ a deep pink one is for appreciation and gratitude, whereas a white rose states, ‘I am worthy of you.’  With a pansy and white clover you are asking someone to think about you, but a Hellebore means scandal and false statements. Having received pink carnations as a present I found on the internet they mean gratitude (how appropriate as they were given to me as a thank you). I added the deep pink rose, and Gysophilia (baby’s breath) which  is a symbol of everlasting love.

Fat over lean

Unhappy with painting in artificial light I turned my flower painting into ‘A wiper’!  The next day I set the flowers up on a windowsill and took a photo of them in sunlight.  Sometimes life gets in the way and I have to restart or return to a unfinished painting. July I made a restart, but is now August and I have had to work ‘fat over lean,to finish the painting. I much prefer ‘Alla Prima,’ (one shot) painting. Up to press I am never happy with a painting when I use the ‘Fat Over Lean,’ method. I persevered because I was experimenting with the red background. I think I am unhappy with this one because it is overworked, and the brush marks are unexpressive. Was it worth the effort?  Well,Yes, one must learn!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Feeling Inspired

Following a recommendation from an artist friend, Lisa Timmerman I took a day trip to Brancaster. Artists’ do have the ‘eye’ and a feel for a place, so thank you Lisa. Not only has Lisa saved me art scouting time, but she has picked a great holiday location! Over the Salt Marsh - Brancaster is oil on linen canvas 30 x 24 cm, so I was definitely feeling inspired!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Painting greens

Pretty Field 30 x30 cm oil on board — a palette knife painting

I was attracted by the patterns created by the ridge and furrow and the beautiful buttercups, but apart from the sky and buttercups the image was all green. Well, we all know recession is created by using blue in the green, but how do you get warmth in the foreground?

I was advised to put the greens in first, however not listening to advice I put the sky in first (you know how it is — old habits die hard)!

My plan was to have a dark foreground, a middle-tone middle ground and a light background. A warm cadmium yellow and a warm ultramarine blue mixed a nice warm green for the foreground. Cool lemon yellow and cerulean blue make a nice bright to cool green, however it can look so unnatural, so a tiny amount on the tip of the brush of magenta or burnt umber knocks the colour back. To given a tonal range to the greens, darken with its complementary red, or any other colour that contains a lot of red. To lighten the greens try using pale blue, or cream instead of just white. A Prussian blue is a powerful cool blue, so only a light touch is only needed in those colour mixes. 

I always check my paintings during the painting process by taking a quick snap with my mobile phone, and that sky looked too boring! A touch of yellow ochre in the blue paint along that horizon line made all the difference.

Friday, 7 July 2017

How cute is that?

Whilst out scouting for new landscapes to paint I saw a couple of swans with their cygnets. One had 'a piggy back ride'. How cute is that?

Monday, 3 July 2017

Solo Exhibition

An opportunity for a solo exhibition arrived at the end of March, however it was to be hung at the beginning of June. I didn't want to hang old paintings, so that gave me 2 months to prepare by painting new pictures! Lucky for me it wasn't a big space. Shortly afterwards I did a brilliant on line painting course with Roos Schuring. For the past 2 weeks I have been in 'reflective mode'.  Now two of my goals is to paint one picture a week, and post it on the blog.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Promoting the arts

A joint venture! Market Harborough Art Club (MHAC) and Harborough Artist Cluster (HAC) help each other.  Last weekend the HAC & MHAC took to the streets and the local market to advertise the HAC Open Studios and MHAC. 

It was good to see members of both groups chatting to interested locals and visitors. The event was well received.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Knife painting

Alan Cotton’s paintings have a big impact, especially on my mind. He is represented by the Messum gallery London, I wish I could afford one of his paintings! 

Saturday 2nd September 2006 I read the obituary of Sir Kiffin Williams in the Indepedent. Investigating his work and ‘Wow’! I have been in love with his paintings ever since.

More recently I discovered Ben Taffinders work; a modern Cornish knife painter whose work I much admire.

I love texture, and I make a connection with knife painting, so I decided to give it a go.

Unfortunately I can not show you my first attempt as my feelings were so negative about it I threw it in the fire and deleted all records.

It has taken me a year to reflect upon this and I have returned to the subject. I stood in my wellies and watched the storm and river begin to flood (no camera or sketch book). I returned the next day and took a photograph to work from. Big mistake! It is best to work from a sketch and use your visual memory to convey the feelings the scene had on you. I am much happier with the second attempt  and will continue to paint with a knife.

The river Welland in flood oil on panel 30 x 30cm

Friday, 28 April 2017

March came and went!

A little painting done last month; a portrait of 'Libby,' and my entry into the Kettering Open.

'Libby,' Oil on board 25 x 30 cm

'Catkins and Courtship, oil on wooden panel 30 x 40 cm

First prize winner was a watercolour, 'Prickly customer,' by Gill Denbigh

'Prickly customer.' by Gill Denbigh.
The painting was behind glass
 so the photograph does not do
it justice. 

Monday, 13 February 2017


40.5 x 25 cm oil on canvas. NFS. I allowed the acrylic underpainting to show through in some areas of this painting, I hope this adds a little interest to an otherwise monochromatic painting. I used Prussian blue and Burnt Umber, with varying amount of white to get a wide range of greys.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


Gerbera 18 x 24cm. Thoughts of summer, cheerful bright colours to brighten up a grey winters day.

Monday, 30 January 2017


'Trust,' 28 x18cm. I saw this little scene out of a cafe window, and couldn't resist painting it. Did the boy get the duck to eat out of his hand? Well, that is for you to decide.