Saturday, 29 November 2008


Had a lovely lazy morning reading the weekend papers after my hectic few days and decided to paint some pansies this afternoon whilst Clive watched football. About the only flowers out now in the garden, except for some late flowering shrubs, but these blooms are so tiny - like little dots in a cluster. I think for the first time in this sketchbook from a photo - I certainly was not going to sketch outdoors in these temperatures.

So I am keeping to my plan (almost last day of Nov) of getting something from the garden into my handmade sketch book every month. Wonder what will be there for December and January. I know there will be snowdrops in February.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


I'm off tomorrow to deliver work to a Christmas Show in the west of the county (Norfolk) and then going on to my daughters for an evening and night. On Friday I will make my way to a friend's watercolour exhibition over that way before motoring home. So I wondered what I could put on my blog's latest post and thought 'Ah yes, Christmas' - as I am taking some of my Christmas greetings cards for sale, thought you might like to see the images of four pieces of older acrylic work , which I use to create my own cards this time of the year.
1 - Fresco Angels 2 - Light of the World (my version!!)
3 - Three Wisemen 4 - Whilst Shepherds watch
All four original paintings sold and for some reason of other I have not got back to working in this style in liquid acrylic. Silly aren't I?? Bit early to wish you all a Happy Christmas, but just imagine I sent you one of these nearer the date???!!!!!

Sunday, 23 November 2008


I little while ago the owner of the local Swallowtail Gallery advised me he was arranging an OPEN DAY for his gallery , framers and art materials business in the village and invited me to do a watercolour demonstration to publicise my local WORKSHOPS. What a great opportunity to communicate with more people interested in art. The event arrived yesterday, and as you will see we could not have chosen a worse weekend weather wise - as can be proved by my garden photos taken this morning. Thats right it is snowing in lovely Norfolk and looks delightful but keeps people at home!!!!

David had publicised the event at a number of local villages, art orientated clubs such as a calligraphy group and weekly art groups and shops and as a result about 40 people came through the door. There were two other demonstrators - one showing visitors how to use the silk painting kits David sold in the gallery and his wife and children creating some very unusual animated greetings card kits also on sale ( which I plan to purchase for my grand children to do over Christmas when the family are staying with us for 3 days) .
At one time I had a number of people looking at my sketchbooks, the workshop guidelines folder and images of work created by students during some of our different workshops on tonal studies, watercolours, acrylic and flowers. Then once I actually started the watercolouor subject a group stayed for quite a while asking questions about such things as advice on the brushes and the manufacture of watercolours etc I use. We practically had a mini class on glazes, colour theory, etc and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was pleased to see some of my workshop publicity leaflets were taken. So here's the subject :
click to enlarge both images
I used Senellier and a few Winsor and Newton watercolours and round Cirrus Kolinsky Sable brushes 0, 4 and an 8 and taped some 200lb Sanders Waterford NOT paper onto a board.

Monday, 17 November 2008

BOATHOUSES AND BOATS gesso and watercolour

I've been having a difficult time these past few days working on my third local landscape to pair with the Wells painting I recently posted. I felt it had to be another watercolour on gesso, but the first attempt seem to get all muddy (something I greatly dislike in a watercolour) and I was having trouble trying to make the sky plain and clean to offset the great deal of detail of the trees, river, boats and boathouses. I decided I didnt think it was good enough although by chance it has a sultry feeling of a storm coming.
click to enlarge

So I began all over again with a fresh piece of watercolour with a layer of gesso. This time the drawing came out different, as I had to keep to the same size painting as I already have the pair of gilt frames and double cream mounts. The river got wider, I only fitted in two boats and the boathouses needed to be bigger for where I had placed them. So in the end I didnt finish it!!!

Still not satisfied! So, yes you've guessed it -I started all over again. This time with a basic watercolour and no gesso. This time it turned out sunny. Shows we have no control over our work - it evolves all its own. !!!

click to enlarge

What I want to know is which do you prefer for me to put into my Christmas Show??? Can you be bothered to choose and let me know why - many thanks for those who do. I dont think I'll actually waste the effort as I can always keep the other finished one for a show next Spring.

I must be mad!!! yes??

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


This is my second attempt at this technique, but this time I put the gesso on with a knife and much thicker. I also tinted it a little pink to make a warm glow through the glazes.

Its a view of Wells Next the Sea on the north Norfolk coast, which I cropped to make a square painting. I think the composition works well in this format, even if I left out things (particularly a larger central pole and lots of little boats) from my original photo .

Its not quite as 'clean' as my first work in this technique, but then it was not such a sunny day - more like scudding rain clouds actually. As you can see its not finished yet, needing another layer on the buildings on the right, the rigging on the black and white Albatross boat and some detail on the quayside wall. Maybe a little more detail on the staging including the metal posts for mooring. Didnt realize how much more there was to do.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


I have for so long admired Sandy Maudlin (click on link on right) and her teachings. For a long time have promised myself I would try the technique of watercolour washes over gesso background on watercolour paper. At last, in readiness for a Christmas Show at Holt, I am preparing some work in this style.

As the show is in north Norfolk, I decided to get together any of my landscapes of the region and add a few new ones from my store of personal photographs over the years I have lived in East Anglia. I am not keen on using photos but as long as they are my own there is no copyright problem and, at least, I have visited the scene in question and was captivated by the subject and particular composition.

I chose this colourful image of a boat moored in Brancaster Staithe*. For this first one I applied the gesso not too thickly with a large brush and it has left stroke marks which are quite interestingly showing through the water colour. The painting measures 16 x 20 inches and has a double cream mount in a rather snazzy silver frame.
* just edited this post as its location was confirmed by a north Norfolk landscape artist friend. I had difficulty knowing where exactly I took the photo as I did a series on the same day as I travelled along the coastline.

Monday, 3 November 2008


We had a great fun day on Saturday with our acrylic workshop. As most attending had never used acrylics before, we spent the morning practicing how to apply the paint in different ways from blending wet on wet, thin glazes, scraping back and cutting into heavy paint, pressing on heavy textured paint and a form of screen printing. Here are some examples of the group members' exercises:
1 scraping back to earlier lighter glaze by Philippa
2 glazes, textured paint, cutting into wet thick paint by Brian
3 Four different methods of applying acrylic by Audrey

Then we planned a full acrylic piece for the afternoon using as many of the different methods of application as was appropriate, choosing from one of two subjects I had set up.
Two different methods of working. Philippa kept her colours muted and used soft glazes for the background and cloth, but created the textured flower heads by the method of pressing thick paint we practiced in the morning. Helen used primary colour glazes to prepare her work and at the stage of this photo had only just started to add thicker paint to develop the flowers and jug.

Here Maggie is working on her china and fruit subject with thin glazes to start. By adding blue to her red for the background cloth (an old sari of mine when I visited India) Maggie was able to reverse the norm and put reds in the background and bring the soft blue and white plate and bowl forward.
Anne had a problem when applying her first thin background layer although the manufacturer of the acrylic board said it had been primed twice - but as usual errors give some stunning results and it created this textured/spotted effect in the gray/blues. Anne had to leave early so didnt get any further with her acrylic piece.

Didnt they do well???

Sunday, 2 November 2008


click to enlarge
This sketch began because when I turned over the page in the moleskin sketchbook the thick colour from the fighting bronze hares on previous page had soaked through, so Anita gave me a sheet from her note pad and stuck it in. I then developed the little ivy sprays on this sheet outside the square, looked at her silk flowers in the lounge and added the poppy seeds and flower shapes. Then came the vase and finally the lace covered slipper to hold rings I gave Anita some while ago. So finally I took two of my rings off and drew them alongside.
At the time I was sketching at the dining table with Harry, who was drawing James Bond in a wonderful tuxedo plus gun of course, as they were going to see Quantum of Solace the next day. I borrowed his colour pencils and decided not to shade the flower shapes on the note sheet, added a few notes in the corner and it was complete.
Our Anita does encourage you to work fast - and I love the way the pages evolve as they go.