Thursday, 28 November 2013

Solo Exhibition at Soper Hall - Caterham.

Once all the hard work of setting up the exhibition was completed, I could glam up and enjoy the weekend. It was fantastic and a perfect opportunity to re-connect with all my lovely people.

Our family photos aren't quite the same without the "pose". Here my sister, Gaenor and I, do just that next to one of my favourite paintings (The Lipstick Ladies).

The three girls are so symbolic of my theatrical mother and sisters, so the painting of this picture entertained me as much as it entertained the viewers.

My team of helpers: Mary-Anne, Rosie, Gaenor, Sally and Penny.

The exhibition at Soper Hall. 15th to 17th November 2013

Friends at the exhibition



I remember painting this watercolour as if it was yesterday. Provence is a beautiful place to be if you are an artist. We were dropped off for the day with a cooler bag (thank goodness), and after setting up our easels, we proceeded to capture the view (of Rousillon) and do it justice. As it was so warm, I had to be bold with my colours and apply them as quickly as possible. One has to welcome the blobs and splashes. 

The Goblet


I thought that this painting might not appeal to people at my exhibition because it was painted with such a limited palette with so little colour. I remember being inspired to paint this still life after my unbelievable experience in Florence where shadows were a must. I still love those hidden spaces and the idea that you have to 'find' the edges. I am thrilled that this painting was appreciated so much.

The Orangery

Mixed Media

It was fascinating to observe the reactions of visitors at my exhibition. My framer, Danielle, did such a fantastic job with the frame and I was thrilled with the result. This is very definitely a mixed media project. I used mountboard as my support and painted the interior using watercolour, gouache, charcoal, ink and pastel. I wanted to capture the elegance of the space and the light streaming in through the high windows. It is worth visiting the Orangery at West Kensington .... their scones are wonderful. If anyone out there could direct me to similar interiors then I will be forever grateful.

Rufus & Aubergines

Aubergines - Acrylic Inks and Watercolour 

Rufus - Acrylic Inks and Watercolour

I have discovered the joys of using acrylic inks as a drawing tool "sewn into" the form using washes. I absolutely love combining blue (cobalt magic colour), red (scarlet magic colour) and pink (process magenta) at the start. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and a predictable finish right from the get go. It is an exciting way to work, very immediate and forces you to find solutions en route. It is very important that the line describes the subject - its personality - not just outlines it. A must for the courageous draughtsman!

Hare in the Headlights


This painting deserves a special mention. I had great fun capturing his alarmed expression and getting involved in the energetic washes that hint that he might run off at any moment. I could have sold him a number of times over at my exhibition. Ruth, I hope you enjoy him for many moons to come.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Solo Exhibition

I would love to see you there.

Silent Witness & A Friendly Encounter

Silent Witness: Acrylic Inks, Acrylics and Oil on Canvas 60cm (w) x 91cm (h)

It has been 9 years since I had my first big solo exhibition and it is incredible to see how one's style and approach evolves over that time. The question is, has it evolved enough and is it exciting to view?  Oh, the perils of being an artist! It has been challenging and rewarding over the past year trying to see things differently. It is not as easy at it seems to step out of one's comfort zones and take the time to play and experiment. Time is precious. I had very strong feedback regarding my "blue painting" when I opened my studio doors in July. It was my first real play with medium combinations and style mixes. It combines drawing, designing with shapes and a defined focal point, usually painted in oils. 

I embarked on a few more in this style. Each painting seems to develop its own personality en route. I have had fun putting collages together - snippets of French life. Besides telling a story, they are also exercises in colour and design. I am looking forward to the feedback in November when I have my exhibition.

A Friendly Encounter: Acrylic Inks, Acrylics and Oil on Canvas 65cm (w) x 54cm (h)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Star is Born

Oil and Acrylic on Canvas. 60cm (w) x 73cm (h)

I have been working on a series of bigger oils over the past few months whereby most of the painting has been done with palette knives. It allows me to be expressive and deposit large areas of fresh, vibrant paint. Surprisingly, it has not hindered my progress, as I have been able to work from day to day without worrying about wet layers. Movement certainly interests me as well as capturing a mood or atmosphere. Texture is also achieved using this method of painting.

Bonjour Indeed!

Watercolour and Acrylic Inks. 32.5 (w) x 27.5 (h)

I could do painting after painting of these characters. Their expressions are almost human. Again, this is a study using watercolour washes and loose acrylic lines drawn with a dipping pen.

Chateau in Salviac

Watercolour & Acrylic Ink. 24cm (w) x 32 (h)

We decided to investigate what the brocante at Salviac (the Lot) had to offer and discovered this jewel in the centre of the village. The gates were open indicating that there were items on display inside the property. It had such a lovely feel and the garden was intimate and mysterious. I am so enjoying using acrylic inks at the moment so the result was very colourful indeed.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Lipstick Ladies 2

Watercolour and Acrylic Inks on Fabriano Extra White

This is a new way of painting which I am finding very exciting. It is spontaneous and colourful in every sense of the word. I am trying to move away from being absolutely precise with my subjects, capturing their personalities through line and colour instead. My sable liner has never worked so hard! What I have found quite interesting is that my students have found this method so challenging and rewarding. It moves you out of your comfort zone straight away, just through colour choice and the fact that you cannot remove any lines. One has to just 'go for it'.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Havana Girls

Havana Girls.  Size: 89cm x 115cm.  Acrylic and Oil on Canvas

We saw these 3 friends walking together, chatting and smiling under their bright umbrella whilst in Cuba. I absolutely loved the image. It reminded me of my sisters and I. I would loved to have known what they were talking about and where they were going. I loved the bright colours - there is a mix of flat and textured areas to emphasize and knock back certain parts of the painting. A sheer joy to paint on such a big canvas.

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day - Venice. Size: 38cm x 44 cm. Watercolour 

We have had so many grey days in France this winter, that I desperately needed to paint an atmospheric scene in bright cheerful colours. I loved this view, especially the domes. My aim was to record enough information to tell the story and stop before overworking it. I love the power of suggestion and we artists appreciate how difficult it is to stop painting before it is too late. I made sure that I used a big brush 95% of the time, applying big washes and lots of water. I also incorporated some acrylic inks to strengthen the chroma and to add a little zing. Very rewarding indeed.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Atmospheric Havana

Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico - 14 inches x 21 inches

I felt excitement coursing through my veins as soon as I stepped foot into Havana. I have no doubt that the cubans must be concerned about the the state of their buildings and dwellings, as so many are falling to pieces both inside and out. Selfishly, as an artist, the colours, peeling plaster, decorative designs and elegant proportions are a dream .... not to mention the old, American cars.

Building up the painting is a most enjoyable, yet challenging process. I tend to build up a healthy mix of mid tone colours covering the cool and warm groups. It is important to drop in a darker shadow or two so that you can get a sense of depth and perspective.  I try not to worry about achieving perfect edges and lines. You are creating an impression of something. Buildings can be particularly tricky as we try our best to keep doors, windows and walls tidy. The first few layers of a watercolour tend to be more transparent and lighter anyway, so dare yourself to go over that edge.  The darker layers or shapes, which are selectively added towards the end of the process, can define areas that appear too ‘wishy washy’.

Some tips: If you do have a complex scene to paint, try to keep the line work light and loose to allow for tweaking and movement. For me, the car was the most challenging part of the illustration. Identify as many simple shapes as possible that make up the whole. Really look at those shapes (and this applies to the whole drawing): is it long and elegant, squat, square, flat, and does the shape on the left line up with the shape above or below??? Is the distance between object ‘x’ really that far or close to object ‘y’? Use your ruler to check the angles of the windows, rooftops and balconies. Take your time. Before painting soften some of your lines.

Load a big brush with a watery wash of quinacridone gold or new gamboge and paint a loose layer over most of your picture. Even at this stage try to describe the space and the objects. It is very good practice. Don’t be neat and tidy - paint over those edges. (C) Once this has dried apply a second layer of permanent rose and a little windsor violet ... then proceed to build up the darker tones, both warm and cool. 

I have not specified which colours were painted in what order as it is instinctive. Trust your own colour choices and combinations. I sometimes use a colour to link areas together e.g. a raw sienna can be added to a pinker area of wall and also to beige area next to it to create a little harmony.I have used cobalt green, french ultramarine, permanent rose, raw umber, gamboge, cadmium red and so on. Instead of going for one shadow colour for the windows, try to mix two darker colours together i.e. french ultramarine and raw umber. Drop in some cadmium red for interest and for fun. Try to see each shape as an individual painting. Try to enjoy it and not see it as a trial.