Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Sketches of South Africa


Arrived back home yesterday from South Africa, a wonderful trip visiting my sister.
Pen & Ink, Table Mountain. We saw the sunrise over Table Mountain twice - It was so good we had to go back and see it again! Beautiful colours and I was itching to paint them.


We went on safari in Madikwe Game Reserve (up near the Botswana boarder). We stayed in an eco bush camp called Mosetlha, the stars at night were unbelievable! These group of African pots were outside in the couryard next to our cabins. Really strong shdaows because of the blazing African sun - I fried when I did the drawing! 
This was the same water soluble pen I used in the Table Mountain drawing but with out a wash on top.
Drawing lions

Really loved the game drives, saw so many animals up close (the safari trucks were able to go off road.) I took photos but I also wanted to try drawing the animal. Not reasy! As you usually had only seconds to complete it buy getting the general form down before they moved again. It was fun to do and I'm sure helped my observational skills.

I did the same thing at Boulders Beach in Cape Town where the wild African Penguins hang out. You can't help smile at them especially when they waddle about. It was blowing a gale when we were there and being sand blasted while I drew added an extra challenge!





Thursday, 13 April 2017

#171 'The Red Boat' 8x10"


This was taken from a photo a took last year in Harridge, Essex. Contra jour with the flags lit in the sun. I didn't feel confident enough to paint it then. So I had a go yesterday in the Museum, not easy when the subject is nearly all in shadow. I painted the boat too red to begin with - as I liked the red boat! but darkened it and it sat in the painting better. 

Sometimes I need input from others like my husband (a photographer) or my Mum who has a great eye she helped with this one saying the jetty/pier behind wasnt right - it had been straight across the painting, she suggested I cut it off. I don't usualy change what's actually there but sometimes it's needed! And it does help the compsition :-)

I have found occasionally it's good to practise a subject or type of light in the studio from a photo so you can learn from it which is harder to do en plein air as the elements are often against you and getting the painting down at speed, with no time to think too much!

Yesterday was our last day in the Musem for our exhitbion. (It continues without us till next Tuesday) It was sad to finish as I had enjoyed painting and showing there and chatting to people and lots of children! We are thinking of doing another show at the Museum in two years time.

Today we are off to South Africa to visit my sister. I'm not taking my painting gear just sketch book as I want to spend time with her.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

#170 'La Plagne, The Alps' 9x12"


This was taken from a drawing I made while in the French Alps. (see below)
It really helpd to have drawn it as the tones are quite close together and having studied it in person helped with the painting. (didn't make it easy though!)
The light source was very subtle, being sunset and the light just catching the tops of the mountains. The roofs of the chalets were a lighter tone even without direct light on them.
This was a real study of tonal observation. Fun to paint though and so different from a green landscape!
Last of my snowy paintings till next season... onto spring.


Sunday, 9 April 2017

#169 'Morning Light, Devils Punch Bowl' 8x10"


This is the second of the snow paintings in this area. I really enjoyed putting the light in - once all the darks and mids were in place. 

I'm starting a painting by mixing the main colour and then using that paint if I can as a starting point to mix other main colours and then mixing a range of light and dark tones. So I end up with piles of paint all connected with each other and therefore hamornising well. Starting like this means, it feels you are on top of it before you begin and having a lot of paint so you dont scrimp with it - I wanted a thicker look.

Just two days left for our exhibition. Here was a photo from Saturday at the Museum....


Thursday, 6 April 2017

#168 'Morning Shadows, Devils Punch Bowl' 8x10"


I made a sketch of this scene back in February when it was snowing, see pic below.

I liked the feathery tree with the dark behind and the wonderful blues. I worked on using thicker paint to create a more shimmery light.

I enjoyed painting it so much I have done another snow scene of the same area and will post it tomorrow. 


I am doing these paintings while we get visitors to our ongoing exhibition at the Haslemere Museum, it's going well! :-)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Haslemere Museum Exhibition & no. 167 Langstone Study


We had our Private View last Thursday. It went well, had a good turn out, lovely feedback and some sales! You can see some daily still life paintings and my plen air land and seascape. I hung 44 and had 10 left over, I didn't want to crowd the wall. Everyone said it worked well in that room and together with Nick on the opposite side. 

I am manning the show every day (till March 12th), so it's a great opportunity to paint while I'm there. I have missed painting as I've been so busy getting this show ready (framing 55 paintings!) It's also nice that I can greet people when they come and have a chat :-)


I painted this scene outside a couple of weeks ago and didn't like the result, but from it I painted this a small 8x8" a study of tone and contra jour (sun shining towards you.) Painting the sky a slightly darker tone than the dazzle on the water, which is true to what was there but also really shows up the water sparkle.
The boats on the left were a tricky because they were mainly in shadow, just a shape no light or dark. Happier with this painting.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

#166 'Frensham Great Pond' 12x12"


I have been itching to do some painting especially outside. It was a beautiful day yesterday and so lovely to be by the water and painting again, I even had to take my coat off it was warm!

Initially I was disappointed with the view, but when I looked into the sun - Contra Jour it came alive- the water with big ripples and reflections, the reed head light against the darker trees, and the light sparkling on the water, yay! Enjoyed painting it. 
It's a similar view to painting no.164 Sunset Frensham Pond but with a different emphasis.

With 3 main colours red-violet, a dusty blue and a mustard yellow, all mixed together to make nuances of the colours.
It was a peaceful area appart from the Moore Hens and Cootes in the reeds and then honking right next to me and making me jump! Great to be out.


Monday, 13 March 2017

Drawing The French Alps


We recently returned form our ski trip in La Plagne France. It snowed and snowed! The drawing above was after a big dump of snow overnight. I used 3 tones - dark, mid and light - the white of the paper.
The one below is when it started to melt, and there was no snow left on the trees! This one was more about scale. The huge mountains, tiny chalets and big foreground pines. Both views from our balcony, wished I drew more but 6 hours plus of skiing there were limits! Hope to make these into paintings...








Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Update Post - Away & Exhibitions

I am away for a week or so skiing for my birthday :-) very excited as I used to be a ski instructor in my 20's and love being in the mountains.
I am not taking my painting gear, a hard descion as I'm sure there will be lots of inspiration in the Alps, but will take my sketching materials and hope to paint from drawings on our return.

I also wanted to tell you about 2 exhibitions this month....

Haslemere Museum Exhibition

I have worked for the past 8 months and produced over 50 plein air paintings to show in our forthcoming exhibition.

I am excited to show this new work, the subjects are mainly of seascapes and boats (my passion) with some local landscapes as well.

All are welcome to come and see us. I will be moving into the museum with my art gear and painting most days, email to check if I will be there.

It's our first joint exhibition and we have cards, prints and my framed originals.

I have attached the flyer below which we had made for the show, to give you a bit more information.

Hope to see you there!

Magpie Exhibition 

I am also taking part in a joint 'pop up' exhibition in the Sands Village near Farnham, Surrey.

16 - 19th March

I'll have around 15 pieces in this exhibition shown in a wonderful setting.

If you're interested email me for an invitation.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

#165 'The Gate, Devils Punch Bowl' 11x14"


I did a quick sketch (see below) when we had a dusting of snow a couple of weeks ago. I liked the limited colours and that you could see the Punch Bowl sweeping around in the distance - when the mist cleared a little!

I drew it out three times on two different sized boards. I wanted the composition to be similar to the drawing I had made - just off square and cutting the the tops of the trees.

The first stage of this painting was made with thined cool and warm darks see below. 

I quite liked it at this stage and the next day when I wanted to complete it, it was scary painting over it as I didn't want to loose the quality I had. I also reassured myself when putting the white snow in which was so contrasted in tone and colour but I knew I needed to be bold!
I kept some of the thined painting but modulated the edges of the path with opaque lighter tones. The sky I put a yellow tinge which there wasn't much of on the day but seams to work well with overcast snow days.

Really pleased with how this one came out :-)



Wednesday, 22 February 2017

#164 'Sunset, Frensham Pond' 9.5x12"


I had made a dash for the Pond as I saw the sky had potential to be a wonderful sunset. But in my haste I forgot my Pochade (outside easel) very annoying but took my board, and sketch book and drew the scene several times to try and learn the subject and imprint it on my memory. I took photos to help with colour reference.
While I was painting it today I thought this would be a great one for my students to have a go at :-) As they haven't tackled a sunset sky and some water reflections to go with it! That will be in the April workshop.

I have learnt that if you paint dark areas to thickly and with opaque colours they tend to look heavy and dull, this is a translucent mix with no white. The little sailing club had very little light but I threw some onto it, to show it was there and give the land more interest.
The mirror reflections in the sky and water, was easier when I turned the board 90 degrees so I could mirror the patterns more easily. The sun felt a risk to put in as it was unsual but went for it and quite pleased with the end result!

Friday, 17 February 2017

#163 Dawn, Langstone Harbour 9x12"


Before the sun showed itself and the warm glow of light. This is the 6th painting of the Langstone area and as I get to know it I see more subtleties and details which I try to include in my painting.
Difficult to manage all the dark tonal areas but I worked from the darkest grading back to the lightest adding paint at each grade. The main two colours are Red-Violet & Yellow-Green tertiary complementaries, which work well together. 
The boat in the foreground, I had to really hold back with the tone, as I wanted to paint it lighter, (as its a white boat) but there is no light source on it and facing away from the light direction. So it was very dark just a suggestion of a boat and I quite like that you don't see it immediately.
I want to paint a bigger one of this area but it feels quite a leap after small boards...I have an 18x24" in my studio I'll let you know how I get on!


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

#162 Langstone Mill 9x12"


When I arrived it was about 10am and being winter the light was warm and soft, no wind and perfectly still waters. 
The tide was going out and the reflection soon disappeared but I blocked in the main shapes before it did! 
I painted the sky in a very light and delicate way to contrast with the heavy buidlings. Although I worked on making the buildings not too fussy or heavy.

A good note to remember is light tones are darker and darks are lighter in reflections, which helps when you trying to decipher it all.

The composition is more unusual to the iconic Mill paintings - usually across the water and quite small in scale, having bigger buildings makes it harder to paint!

I found this quite a challenging piece but pleased with the outcome.

For those interested Langstone Mill was built in 1730 and is one of the rare water and wind mills in the UK. Pictured below is a drawing of it in 1869 and you can see a little of whats left now.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

#161 'Langstone Harbour' 9x12"


I wanted to try my favourite subject of the moment in daylight. Previously I have painted the area at sunrise. Going back today the colour of the light was different, I could see more in the mud flats as they weren't as silhouetted and they had a green tinge instead of pink. I focused on the the tonal values, really observing the subtle changes.
I managed 3/4 outside and then a chap came up to me to talk about painting and by then the wind had frozen my face and my I couldn't form the words to talk to him! 

It's funny how just one thing out of kilter can throw me. When I arrived I unpacked and found my Sansador solvent had emptied out into my bag! So I couldn't ware my pink pinny and had very little solvent to thin the paint with but once I was into the painting these things were forgotten.... 

I noticed I have used a different make of board on each of the 4 paintings I've done of Langstone and they all give a different finish:

1. Belle Arti, Italian canvas panel - fine cotton but quite grippy, I gessoed and sanded before painting.
2. Gerstaeker German canvas board - less of a canvas feel and not so absorbent.
3. Seawhite of Brighton English wood painting panel - bare pine wood require 3-4 layers of gesso, with sanding on the final layer.
4. Gesso Ampersand - an American, high quality, very little texture, the paint doesn't sink, nice to work on. I put a layer of raw umber stained gesso to colour the white.

See post numbers 159, 147, 142 to compare the boards and Langstone paintings :-)

Saturday, 4 February 2017

#160 'Newlands Corner' 8x20"


I started this last weekend. But when I got back to the studio I found I couldn't finish because I didn't have enough information, it was the fist time I had visited and it was misty with the sunrise. 

So I went back and did two drawings of the subject. I must haven chosen the coldest day of the year to do it! With wind chill -7 so bitter my teeth were chattering and I couldn't draw for shaking! But I was able to finsih it today, and I'm pleased with the outcome :-)

I met some friendly photographers when I was painting that day, one of whom, Sarah took some lovely photos while I was painting, here are a couple of them.





Friday, 3 February 2017

#159 'Langstone Mud Flats' 12x12"


The past week or so my time has been dediatcated to the two oil classes I teach. We did a 3 boat seascape,very pleased with how the students managed a tricky subject!

Today I was itching to get out there again, and I managed a weather window before storm Doris blows in. 
Beautiful light, I love this place! It's the third painting of this area (numbers 152 & 147) 
The contrast of the dark rich flats and light from the sunrise, I can't get enough of!
Keeping the mud interesting and making the really dark areas a little translucent so they're not too heavy. The sky has light, bright thin paint which lift the darks.
Hope to go back in the next few days, I did two quick drawings as well to gather more information for a possible bigger painting later. 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

#158 The Chantries, Surrey Hills 9.5x12"


Very busy at the moment, as I have two exhibitions in March, one joint with my husband and one in a gallery. So I'm painting like a mad women to supply both! 

I've discovered two new areas I like for painting (The Chantries & Newlands Corner, both on the North Downs). Last weekend I started 4 plein air paintings in 3 days. One was my previous blog post, the other was a disaster! And two more I'm still working on. I went back to the areas - during the past couple of days to gather more information. I found I didn't have enough from the one visit - in the cold and fog! 
So I drew the scene and did another painting on the spot which is this one.
Had battles with it, much scrapping off and repainting. When it gets like that I cant tell if its worked ok  (which is when my Mum and husband are useful for feedback :-) They liked it.
Decided to leave the distant hills undefined and the forground put in more detail. Also keep the colours quite limited to bring a harmony.
                                                                                                      

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

#157 'The River Wey, Farncombe' 12x12"


A beautiful morning, with a hard frost. I was out with the Surrey Hills Plein Air Painters. A lot of us gathered around to paint this subject. I enjoyed painting with others, and seeing their results of the same subject.

I was attracted to the winding path, frosty white and shadow shapes of the trees.
Again bitterly cold, it comes up through your feet and slowly freezes you! 

I tried a square format as it's different to what I'd normally choose for this sort of scene.
Difficult perspective on the canal and boats. I spent some time blocking in and making sure I got it mapped out as acurately as I could.
The tones are tricky too especially on the frosty areas as its easy to go too dark.
The river was frozen solid and the reflections muted. I repainted them twice before happy!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

#156 'Tower House, Portsmouth Harbour' 8x20"


Painted this a couple of days ago in the city I used to live in. It was a good spot on top of the Round Tower (a fort built from the 1490's) being eye level with the big boats going in and out. I also heard a honking it was swan flapping by right near my head!

I chose to do this as a panoramic because the sky and light was wonderful and the sweep of the harbour a good combo. But it was quite hard to make the composition work with the the Tower House building in the foreground. 
By the time I had finished the outside session, I was unsure as to whether it was going to work out. 

When I returned back to the studio I couldn't bare the sea I had painted so wiped it all off and nearly wiped off the rest too but was pleased I didn't! 
Sometimes paintings work from the start and others don't! For example a painting I did last week but didn't post I worked when I got home but it didn't come together and was ditched.  Thankfully this one came together, yay! 

I drew this same scene back in 2003, I made the drawing outside but never did a painting from it until now. Might do another one in this more square format but on a different day and different weather.....

For Christmas this year my husband Nick, designed and made me a Open Box M pochade converter for panoramic boards like this one. Previously I have been taping the boards onto my pochade with brown tape! Because the Open Box M grips the painting on the sides, this one grips top and bottom.  I used it for the first time to do this painting and it worked beautifully, thank you Nick!


Monday, 16 January 2017

#155 'The First Snow, Bramshott Common' 12x12"


Having painting in the morning I went home for sustenance and to warm my hands then straight out again as the snow was melting fast! 
We are at a high point in the area so I walked over to this common. I was lucky to find a patch of snow which was north facing and protected at the bottom of a hill. I was drawn to the bend of the tree and shapes of shadows in the snow. A square format seamed to suit the  uprights of the trees. 
While I was mixing my paint a deer came running past on the path in the painting, I was such a lovely sight. No people were around and its very quiet with the snow damping any sound. 
I didn't have a plan how the stye of the painting would be, it just seamed to happen! It reminds me a bit like Tom Thomson, the Candian artist. 

Even though I was tired from the mornings painting I was so inspired and excited I painted 95% of it outside and loved it! More snow please :-)

Sunday, 15 January 2017

#154 'The Look out, Devils Punch Bowl' 11.5x16.5"


So excited to see the first snow of the season! I was out early by 8am to catch the sunrise colours, which were too fleeting to paint but photographed for another time.

The Devils Punch Bowl is a National Trust area. I have painted it several times before but first time in snow and it was stunning! It took me a while to settle on this subject, there's a lot of space, and trees and distance and quite difficult to find a strong composition, but was pleased with this one. 
I started on the darks, so it would show up the whites later and went between greeny browns to reddy browns with Raw Umber as the base. 
The sun was in and out of the clouds and quickly painted the bits of light when it came.

After a couple of hours the weather turned and a front came in with more snow, the distant hills were obscured and the scene looked so different, I finished it in the studio today.

It was fun being out there despite the bitter weather! People said to me I'm either crazy or committed to painting both I think! 
It's my first painting of snow outside, absolutely loved it and want to do more!!


Monday, 9 January 2017

Life Drawing no.1


Decided to go back to life drawing. I haven't done any for over 5 years and before that it was sporadic. I thought it would help my observation skills and drawing for painting. 

I had forgotten how tough it is! So intense and focused, really enjoyed it though. A friendly group local to me in Hindhead.
Here are 3 drawings of about 7 I did today.
This first one I used the grey of the paper for my mid tone and the white and black chalk pastel for the light and darks. It feels likes painting when you use these broad strokes.


The second is the same pose a quick paint brush and ink study trying not to use to many lines to describe the figure. Not easy! 


This final one I actually did near the beginning of the day, finding my feet and feeling quite rusty and slow, but tried to do a careful and fairly accurate charcoal pencil drawing.



Friday, 6 January 2017

#153 Morning Light, Staithes 8x8"


I mentioned a few posts back that I had the lurgie and I still getting over bronchitis and don't feel up to painting outside so I looked through my sketchbooks to find a pen and ink I did in Staithes June last year. (see pic below)


Painting from a photo is tricky as the photo is very limiting especially in tonal value. But it really helped to have drawn and seen the view in person.

When there's no time pressure of plein air painting I can afford to experiment. I put a tonal base layer (see pic below) and then working over the top to bring up the colour intensity and tonal contrast. Doing this allows for a more painterly and harmonised feel.


Getting the light on the water the right tone took a couple of goes as you think it's lighter than it is. Squinting I could see it wasn't much lighter just a different colour!
P.s I painted here in June, looking from the opposite direction no.87


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Pears Speed Painting


These look relatively simple to do but they're not! They take a lot of focus and drive to get them done and observed in the 10 minute time. They are still a mini painting even though they are small. They are 3x3" squares I tried apples and jugs last week.
It's to help speed me up when painting plein air and just tune my skills generally. 

Tried thick and thin paint and moving the lamp around to create different shadow shapes. Each time I painted the pear I saw more, like a different tone or shape.
I focused on the planes of the pear - the surface areas, this helped simplify the subject.

My students will be trying this next week, let's hope they enjoy it, as I think its a really useful exercise :-)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

#152 Low Tide, Langstone Harbour 9.5x12"



I painted this yesterday out in Lansgtone harbour, similar area to painting no.147
It was bitterly cold with a north wind blasting me. My hands were numb before I even started! I had gloves and hand warmers but it wasn't enough. 

I haven't painted plein air in a couple of weeks and was surprised at how rusty and out of sinc I felt. I had prepared all my gear the night before, and even that I felt resistance getting into the studio and doing it! I can see how artist block could develop by just not painting and not having that art thinking and routine...

The view I chose needed work with the composition - see pic below. But I thought it had potential. I managed to start but was so cold I could barely think. I got the essence in and then retreated home.
I finished it yesterday afternoon (too late to take pic and blog). Something I was mindful about was the dark bank of mud in the foreground I wanted a line of water to lead you to the mid ground and boat. So I added to the wiggle of water that was there already. I took out the second boat as the compostion was unbalanced with it.
I'm happy with the outcome and very pleased to be painting again!