Wednesday, 29 December 2010


You may remember an earlier post at the beginning of December when I had started a second acrylic piece to go with my AFTER THE RAIN. Well, I have finished it choosing hollyhocks and irises as my main flowers, so maybe you'd like to check back and see how it started because here is the finished VIEW ACROSS THE BORDER:

In case it does not enlarge, I add some closeups of areas of the flower border.

I am pleased with the result and it makes a good contrast to the AFTER THE RAIN garden piece both 76 x 61 cms canvas. I have some moulding of a silvery bronze box frame about 4 cms wide and will ask David (local framer gallery owner) if he could use that for me.
Now I must work on my second MAGIC GARDEN 41 x 41 c ms to deliver all by the end of January to be transported to Normandy.

Friday, 17 December 2010


Here is one of my original paintings I used for a Christmas card a few year's ago and still sent out one or two this year to art friends who had not received them in the past. These fresco angels were created with a palette knife and lots of acrylic paste to create the feeling of plaster peeling off an old church wall.

Originally, I thought I'd send you my Christmas Greetings using some photos this year... so I'll still do that and add these too ...........

This first one is a decoration I have created for our lounge to substitute for a Christmas Tree, as we are going to our daughters for the Christmas period. When the candle inside the snowman is lit, it makes a really pretty corner.
Here's another lounge decoration, two robins sitting on the hi fi equipment in front of one of the many windows along the long wall running through our lounge and dining room.

So I'll finish with HAPPY CHRISTMAS GREETINGS and every good wish for a happy and successful arty New Year.

Saturday, 11 December 2010


After many weeks not painting any main work, I felt the need to get away from sketchbooks and practicing for Italy, so decided I needed a second acrylic work to pair with my AFTER THE RAIN on 76 x 61 cms canvas. I had a rummage through many references from my photos to previous paintings to get ideas and then just got out my varied acrylics from both Liquitex heavy and soft body to Liquitex ink, a one inch Pro Arte acrylic brush and simply wacked on diagonal streaks of blue and white paint across what might become the sky area. Then filled the area below in shades of blues, greens and naples, with a few ideas for distant trees and flower borders in the front.

To date it has arrived at this, by which time I had decided to soften the blue of the sky, use the same hue for irises in the foreground and reduce the width area of the left and right flower borders.

Working backwards, here are some images showing the transitions as I worked without any particular ref in mind, apart from the shapes of the tall hollyhocks on the left.

Here you can see the earlier darker more vibrant sky I obliterated and the wider borders I removed.

I think this was the first photo I took, simply to remind myself how I had begun.

Where it now takes me I have no idea after the best part of a week away, but it certainly contrasts well with the original painting I wish to pair it with shown below, which you may remember from a much earlier posting.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Its been such bad weather that I put on a DVD of a programme called GRAND TOUR when the art critic Brian Sewell toured the cities of Italy. I stilled some of the scenes and sketched in the comfort of my lounge with my Schmincke watercolours.

Number one is of a group of people in a square with blue fountain and some columns - Brian Sewell is in the left bottom corner where you can just see his umbrella cum sun parasol.

This one was of a pretty corner in Vicenza - the people must have gone inside the pay the bill!!

Here's Brian - looking with my hand rather much younger - outside the steps of one of the many buildings he took us into.
Well, a bit of fun one afternoon getting practice trying to sketch people in street scenes.

Monday, 22 November 2010

IRIDACEAE PAINTINGS - in other words Irises!

Am currently working on an idea for a large piece on irises - that wonderful flower family Iridaceae. So am going over images of earlier work depicting irises, of which I thought you might like to see a selection.

This one is from a large tall canvas in acrylic showing the textured acrylic stone surround of a stainglass window with painted irises in the bottom window so that I could combine my two favourite genre - flowers and churches

This is the first of abstracted pieces framed as three individual squares alongside each other, in very thinned acrylic to create flowing washes.
.. and finally here is a panoramic line of different irises painted in acrylic on canvas, which you can see is not quite finished at this stage. After adding the stems and leaves on the right I added some soft lavender thin acrylic washes to the background creating more light to the left. Don't seem to have a photo in my archives of the finished piece but I remember it well. I still have the original pencil sketch in one of my panoramic watercolour books.

I am enjoying going through the archive photos of my earlier work with irises - and there are plenty more from watercolour botanical studies of flowers in my garden to acrylic decorative large pieces. Its amazing how often you can paint one flower species and yet create something entirely different every time.
Glad to say all three images will enlarge with a click.

Friday, 19 November 2010


My Thursday afternoon meetings continue with the five ladies invited attending as and when they can. This week there was just Helen and Maggie working with me, so we had fun.

I continued with a sketch I had done the previous day with my Stabilo brown fineliner soluble pen on quattro square block watercolour. It was of a local Gardens during the summer with one of their wired sculptures. This time a heron by the water. My visitors were surprised to see me use both a water spray to dampen the washes and then add ground salt crystals to create the effect you can see mainly in the left hand side foliage. Needless to say, it is nowhere near completed.

Maggie fell for my two little Christmas robin ornaments I had set by the side of a cyclamen plant in a basket. She added the logs from her imagination and I've promised to turn them into Christmas cards for her with my computer and Publisher software.

Helen brought along three works that had never been fully completed and we discussed what they needed. There was an acrylic landscape with poppies in a field which she felt had too strong a green in the distant fields. A watercolour of tulips in one of my square vases that needed anchoring with the use of a shadow at the base and also some darks into the foliage and petals helped bring it more 3D and alive. The third one was of a Yorkshsire cottage she staid at on holiday that just needed some attention to the pathway to the door. Then in the last 15 minutes or so she just got out a size 10 brush some green and red watercolours and created this lovely study of the cyclamen - adding some salt to the leaves whilst they were still wet. All without any initial drawing. Charming.

I thoughoughly enjoyed our afternoon together - our work encouraged along by music playing and tea and coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate.

Friday, 12 November 2010


I thought I might practice sketching hands and feet and with the Italian trip in mind I started with my Sistene Chapel book and inevitably went to the famous God creating Adam Michelangelo painting on the ceiling.
Then I checked out lots of feet from various scenes in the chapel and came up with this selection
from angels, sibyls and prophets:

Then at the weekend on the front cover of the Telegraph Magazine was this photo of Elton John using his hands to speak! Simply had to have a try:

All done with my latest favourite Stabilo Brown (45) fine liner with water and a little Schmincke watercolour.

Friday, 5 November 2010


Philippa and Maggie joined me yesterday afternoon for a session of sketching and painting . Prior to their arrival I walked down to the river and along the common to collect some of the glorious autumn leaves from oak trees, sycamore, beech and others. Here are a selection of leaves I chose to paint - I am afraid they have scanned rather darker than they really are

.... and here are my watercolour interpretations sketched into my garden flower sketch book labelled 'Autumn leaves from my village' as I did not have such a variety in my own garden. I used the Daniel Smith palette that still seems to be going on and on, having put down the shapes with a water soluble graphite pencil.

Hope you are also enjoying this wonderful natural display of colours.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Still working on practice sketches for my Italian visit, I went to my wonderful full colour plate book MICHELANGELO - THE FRESCOES OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL which I purchased a few years back at a local library sale. I was hooked when I came to the chapter on SEERS - ie prophets and sibyls. So began a series of watercolour and pen sketches using my Daniel Smith paints and Lamy pen with noodlers Lexington grey ink. Here are three efforts:

Jeremiah - lost in thought

I think the hands are a bit big but pleased with all the colours I managed to put into the flesh.

The Libyan Sibyl

Afraid she has turned out rather masculine and squashed at the top of the sketchbook page.

Zechariah - the Hebrew Prophet

This, in fact, was my first one and as you can see the head is too small. Well! its only practice and I have not done figures for ages.

To be continued at some stage.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Anita came for the weekend and we spent sketchcrawl day at Norwich Cathedral.
Must confess this little sketch of the spire is from a photo I took whilst popping outside
when the sun broke through.............

... so while it was sunny we found a bench and I chose these two diverse buildings in the cathedral grounds. I think the one on the left is the chapel and assume the dutch architectured white house is the home of someone who works in the cathedral - lucky family.........

By the time we were frozen through with a cold wind blowing up, we dashed back to the restaurant for lunch where, when we arrived around 11 am , we had gone straight for latte and cake before beginning our endeavours. Here's part of our table 14..............

........... and by 3.30 we were in the cloisters sitting in the sun trying to understand the intricate design of one of the archways....

A good fun day and thankfully Clive had kindly offered to cook his famous meatballs and tagliatelli for dinner. So we got home in plenty of time for a little sip of alcohol before settling down round the dining table.

Monday, 18 October 2010


I am certain you will have read that I am going on holiday to Italy next May with Anita sketching in a number of cities on a tour . Ever since our booking, I have been practicing buildings and people from DVD's and holiday brochures in different media trying to find a particular technique and materials I would like to take with me.

I have my Lamy cartridge pen with Noodlers Lexington grey ink I thought would do beautifully with overwashes of watercolour, but realised well into producing a series of work from my book on the Sistene Chapel that I actually needed soluble ink. So last night, the last evening of Anita's visit, we set up a still life and I tried out my set of stabilo pens to see which bled the most. It turned out that the result was dependent on the paper used. This made me realise why my sketches the previous day in Norwich cathedral for the 29th sketch crawl with Anita came out so pale - it was the paper in the Derwent Journal bound with soft caramel coloured suede effect I had taken for the day. (I'll post these another time - probably via Flickr which I opened an account with this weekend with the guidance of Anita).

So here is the result in a watercolour book of the still life using the brown (45) stabilo fine liner and Daniel Smith watercolour washes.

... and a close up in case the full image does not enlarge so you can see how lovely the ink bleeds into the washes at the drawn line edges. :

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Nanny's garden - a beautiful place
Like a dream
Like a fairytale
It brightens the day
It brightens our way
The sun upon nanny's garden

This little verse was written by my youngest grand daughter (aged 11 yrs) when she and her sister stayed with us for a weekend recently. Elisha has always liked 'playing' with figures and words and we often make up games together. This time it was to give her a title and for her to produce a few lines in less than 5 minutes. We happen to be sitting in the sun room when I mentioned my garden and out popped these wonderful words in no time at all.

We had some magic this past week or two as I had almost given up on my planted cosmos that just seem to grow taller and taller as the summer came and went and could almost be entered into the Guineas book of records for their giant height. Not until now in October have they decided to bloom - three colours and at least thirty blooms out all at once with many a bud awaiting. So here's a couple of photos, both taken through my bedroom window. In one you can just see the village church down the hill over the rooftops.

Elisha nearly broke my heart when she wrote the following for the subject of family:

Family are forever
Family stay together
We love
We care
The sky never dull
The sky always bright
We see brightness
We see darkness
but whatever happens
we stay together.

Unusual posting but just had to share them with you. Hope Elisha doesn't mind.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


It was such a lovely day last Thursday that Philippa and I decided to paint the afternoon away in the garden and we chose a pot of glorious apricot/orange begonias in bloom on the garden house steps.

I decided to use watercolour on the Lana Vanguard (YUPO type paper) and here is the work as it is today - not sure if it is finished really but I like the soft washes of the reflections on the table I created. Maybe the blooms need more attention but somehow I like the unfinished look. Think it makes a good pairing with the sunflowers I posted last week.
This is a photo of the early stages just letting the colours mingle as I created the shapes before me.
The palette looked so yummy I had to photo it for you full of the lovely Daniel Smith paints Anita squeezed in for me last summer. They have lasted for ever and my favourite palette to use outdoors especially flowers/gardens.
Here's a close up of some of the early washes, where you can almost see a replica of the palette above!!

Thursdays seemed to have turned into floral works, but as the weather deteriorates I shall get back to my Italian practice sketchbook.
Currently sorting out some work for a Christmas themed show. I think my two Ely Cathedral interiors might be right, my crackle glaze candles and possibly from my work when I visited Peterborough cathedral. Or I might work on creating some new nativity style pieces. Only got to the end of the month to submit details, so better get cracking!!!

Monday, 4 October 2010


Finished Sunflowers in watercolour on Lana Vanguard medium 16" x 12"

On Thursday afternoon I only had one of my ladies arrive for a session of painting together, but that was fine. Just as I planned for the 6 ladies I had invited to be part of this rather personal group to come as and when they wanted with no commitment simply to spend art time together.

So I had the chance to paint the sunflowers I had purchased from the local farm shop and decided to play wet on wet on YUPO type paper (a French version called Lana Vanguard) and I used watercolour for a change in place of my more regular acrylic inks. Maggie had brought three red rose buds to paint in acrylic on a small canvas.

Here is the first layer and early design:

.. and some close ups of the various areas of the painting where you can see I added or lifted colour:

It was lots of fun and I simply developed it as I went along. Hope the top finished work will enlarge for you to see the detail of layers. These Thursday afternoons I am keeping for this little group are good for me as I don't have to do anything 'seriously' ... maybe that way they will turn out better!!

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Today Anita booked our trip to Italy for May to benefit from an early booking reduction. Whilst discussing all the ideas over the past week on the phone, thought I'd like to do a painting from my sketchbook. So decided to use two sketches and put them together of when I went to Venice last year. I decided to use acrylic inks on YUPO (well that new Vanguard I have been telling you about available from Jacksons of London).

This is the finished piece, measuring 20" x 8". Gondolas look very dark here, hope you can enlarge and see the detail in this corner.

Here are a few cropped photos as the work progressed.

It was lots of fun as the sky changed colour radically and the darker corner (where the gondolas are) changed a lot in respect of shadow, moving water and the addition of the poles.
Clive reckons the light shows the scene as it would be just before dusk.
I think I might try some more another time from the sketches Anita and I have been doing from the BBC Art programme series POWER OF ART. Nothing like getting the feel for Italy 6 months before you go!!!

Monday, 27 September 2010


Had our second Coltishall Ladies Art Group at my home last Thursday, everyone doing something different. I'm taking these Thursday afternoon sessions as a regular opportunity to get back to my sketchbooks I have so neglected this year.

Helen had brought along a cutting from her passionflower to draw after she finished her acrylic canvas of mixed flowers. I liked it so much, I decided to paint it directly into my garden sketchbook - maybe it will encourage my new passionflower to grow in my garden next year!! Philippa and I sat alongside each other so we could share the cutting and both tackled it with watercolour. At the end I added a few lines with Stabilo fineliner water soluble pens. Here's my sketch:

Before the time for the afternoon gathering, I walked up the lane and cut some blackberries which I also painted into my garden sketchbook. Well! I can always imagine the lane is part of my garden!!

Jasmine sketched one of my figurines - an elegant Edwardian looking lady with long flowing dress and big picture hat. Penny tackled the conkers we did the previous week and improved with each water soluble pencil sketch. Maggie had brought along a very funny bouncy chicken ornament to create an acrylic on canvas for a gift.

Lots of comradery, chat and fun by all. What a lovely afternoon it was together.