Sunday, 20 July 2014

Coffee at the V&A

Mixed Media: Watercolour, Acrylic Inks, Gouache and Oil Pastel on Canson Board.
Size: 67cm (w) x 48cm (h)

I have really tried to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. After painting my view of Sarlat on a lighter background, which you will see in July posts, I decided to experiment with a really dark background. The results were very interesting and I was encouraged to explore a good range of tints and keep some of the mid tones in tact for added drama. I absolutely love the decorative features in this room ... they certainly kept me busy for many a happy hour. I had to take a few risks with my oil pastels but it was worth it. 

Students Hard at Work

An Oil Painting Workshop in Progress

I have had the most enjoyable workshops this summer and I could not resist taking a photograph of everyone hard at work with their palette knives. The theme was a snapshot of a poppy field giving us the chance to use bright colours and enhance the textures of the flowers and surrounds. We also looked at colour balance and the importance of adding those discords that aren't always obvious at the start. We were lucky with the weather on the whole in the UK, so we were able to eat our lunch outside in the fresh air and actually see what we were painting. I have been so thrilled with what everyone has produced!

Mistaken Identity


Mixed Media: watercolour, acrylic inks and oil pastel. 
Size: 67cm (w) x 48cm (h)

Imagine my delight when I saw the guinea fowl living with the hens and cockerels on the corner plot! They are so reminiscent of South Africa and I have always wanted to explore them as subjects. They have mask-like faces and strange bodies with all those wonderful spots. I have been experimenting with mixed media over the past few months and I wanted to try out the canson pastel board for a second time. Again, I combined watercolour, acrylic inks and a lot of oil pastel before I was happy with it. I must have been influenced by the audio book "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett as they look like two armies facing each other. Again, the fight is over an egg. One has to be silly sometimes. 

Parlez-vous anglais?

Acrylic, acrylic inks and oil on Canvas
Size: 73cm (w) x 60cm (h)

I had such fun painting the "Guilt" painting with its powerful blue background and subjects, that I couldn't wait to do another one. One of my friends has a beautiful chicken enclosure with chickens and cockerels to match, so after spending some time inside their pen photographing various poses, I put another storyboard together. These birds became quite decorative: I got carried away with colour and line. I will leave it up to you to work out what is going on.

Onion Study 1

Size: 36cm (w) x 29cm (h). Watercolour and Acrylic Inks

The initial inspiration came from the onions followed by the copper pot, which I have been dying to paint for some time. It was also important for me to try out my new watercolour pad. (Dalbe, 300g/m + satin finish). I don't normally choose paper like this but it has proved to be fantastic for line work in particular. I jumped straight into this study with my dipping pen and acrylic ink, building the painting from the copper pot outwards. This approach, although nerve racking, adds a sense of discovery and daring to one's experience and leads to all sorts of unusual markings, colour combinations, textures and so on. This painting is busy and colourful. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Onion Study 2

Size: 29cm (w) x 28cm (h). Watercolour, acrylic inks and paper collage.

I enjoyed painting the first study so much that I decided to do another one before I used the onions in my quiche. This time, I tried (really tried) to hold back on using too many colours and make the most of the onions by describing them in as much line as possible. I don't need much encouragement to use my dipping pen and no2 sable liner. The painting evolved (which is always exciting) into a design using paper as well as paint. I was drawn to the colours and fine lines of the map and felt that they would enhance the overall look.


Featured in the Leisure Painter Magazine August Issue.  Size: 58cm (w) x 82 (h). Mixed Media

Painting on mountboard is not a typical choice for watercolourists as the paint tends to float on the surface of the board. What I love about it, is its durability and weightiness ... a perfect choice for mixed media. The article focuses on mixed media combinations and the thought behind the layers that create the final image. I started with watercolour and then continued and finished with pastel and charcoal. A fresh and sunny result.

Ralph and his Postman Pat Van

A Commission:  Size: 73cm (w) x 60 (h). Oil on Canvas

I had the absolute pleasure of painting this heartwarming, sentimental moment in time for our neighbours, whose son absolutely loves vans (old cars he can renovate) and his dogs.  He set up the perfect spot next to a hay bale on the top field where I took a number of photographs trying to capture various expressions. Despite having a car as a focal point, I tried not to turn it into a "chocolate box" rendition, instead, add personality .... and there was plenty of that. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang eat your heart out! I described the texture of the dry grasses and hay using my palette knives and I enjoyed "finding" those warm colours that weren't there to balance the greens. I most welcome project that kept me busy during the cooler weeks. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Quiet Conversations

39cm (w) x 32cm (h) (Including Frame). Original Mixed Media Painting

Venice has been painted many times before but it always holds a fascination especially when you can find different ways to interpret it. This scene is full of broody silences and shadows and areas that you cannot see. I used a mixture of paper collage, watercolour & acrylic inks to try to enhance the atmosphere, texture and age of this magical place.

Boiled Eggs

51cm (w) x 76cm (h).  Original Acrylic & Acrylic Ink Painting

This theme of the V&A tea rooms will appear many times in my work. I seem to hold a fascination for the decorative columns and enormous lighting fixtures that dominate this room. Its appeal is also the fact that it is full of people most of the time, so the room is very much alive. It contains pretty much everything that I love to paint. I have added a little something, however, so I will leave that up to you to spot.

Little Ballerina

A4 Sketch

How can one resist such a cute image? It brings back memories of when my sisters and I started to dance and trying to make sense of what the feet and hands were supposed to be doing. I included this project into one of my drawing classes and, even though we found it challenging with all its soft edges and proportions, we were greatly rewarded.

Pre-Raphaelite Beauty

Mixed Media: Coffee & Acrylic Ink Washes and Paper Collage

During my search for ideas that could be relevant for my mixed media art class, I came across some beautiful paintings on the internet which made me sit up and take notice. It is never wise to mimic another artist but one can certainly be inspired by combinations and approaches. I decided to adapt what I had seen to the portrait above. I photocopied images and typography onto watercolour photocopy paper. I recommend that you only use this type of paper if your machine can cope with a weighty stock. We identified where the highlights in the face were and used the paper to mark them out. Once secured with PVA, we used the coffee wash to map in the mid tones throughout. Acrylic ink and stronger watercolour washes were used to establish shadows and final details. Very rewarding indeed. 

"Your Turn"

46cm (w) x 35cm (h) (Including Frame).
Original Watercolour & Acrylic Ink Painting

It is a joyful experience painting these quirky and characterful animals. The family who live just around the corner have a miniature farm yard next to their house. It has been stocked with all sorts of little creatures this summer. Unfortunately many of them don't survive the Christmas festive season so I have to paint them whilst they are still there. Very sad, because I get to know them .... seriously. This little family are certainly a new addition and their glances and stances are human in every way. Once again, I have enjoyed using acrylic inks in gay abandon because of their fluidity and intensity of colour.

Afternoon Tea

40cm (w) x 51.5cm (h) (Including Frame)
Original Watercolour & Acrylic Ink Painting

The Victoria and Albert Museum Tea Room is one of my favourite interiors to study and paint. You will be seeing a few more interpretations of this subject. I started with loose watercolour washes, and not a drawing, in order to keep it fresh and atmospheric. Seeing where the brush takes me is what keeps me interested and excited about the painting process. Once those foundations were laid, I used acrylic inks for added tone, colour and relevant detail.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

New Artist of the Year 2014 - Thank you for your support

My smile couldn't be bigger!

My friend Diane accompanied me to the preview. A proud moment for both of us. I used to work with her in my early graphic design days in London so it was very special for her to be there.

Peter won the public vote. A worthy winner. His painting really stood out.

Preview Night at the Mall Galleries 7th January 2014

I was beside myself with excitement to have been selected for this competition organised by the Art and Illustrators Magazine. We artists work very hard year after year trying to improve our skills, and it is so uplifting and encouraging to be awarded this sort of accolade. The news came at the end of a long year of preparing for a solo exhibition. For those of you who have painted for extended periods of time, you will understand those moments of self doubt and moments where the ideas just don't come together. When fresh pairs of eyes look at your work and say "YES - thats the one" then you know you are still on the right page.

I would like to thank all of you who have supported me and who voted for my "hen painting".  I feel very fortunate to do what I love and I am certainly endeavouring to push my boundaries in the future.

Summer At Last

Oil on Canvas

This painting was sheer joy to create. 

We had an extremely long winter last year, followed by a wet spring, so it was whilst getting out during one of the first brighter days that I came across this view. I was utterly inspired and could not wait to start. Most of it was painted using a palette knife, working with shapes to create the looseness and expression that is so rewarding. The colours are bright but there is plenty of balance within all that busyness ... a challenging but fascinating learning curve. I am hoping to add more vibrant pieces to my collection. Friends of ours are now enjoying it in their home.


Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico Paper

What a wonderful request to paint a ballet dancer! I received this commission from a couple in Scotland  towards the end of last year. I was never able to achieve such a beautiful "leap" during my ballet days but I certainly tried to capture it in paint. 

Brandon and Maia

Soft Pastels on Sennelier Pastel Card - A3

I loved meeting these two siblings, Brandon and Maia. I laughed so much during my first meeting with them. It was incredibly challenging to get the right pose as Maia just wanted to play. Such characters! I enjoyed this commission immensely.