A few small paintings – all done at Podere Pietrata near Radicofani in southern Tuscany. I just walked out the door and turned in a new direction every evening. They’re simple and not perfect – but they capture the feeling of the place – which is the whole point of plein air painting for me.
I often fill in the day when sitting at the gallery by painting small watercolour art books. People like to see the artist at work and I often sell something because they’ve enjoyed seeing me make it. This is one I did last week. It’s full of small local scenes which is one of the reasons I enjoy doing them so much.
Friday I got to art class early and started this one before my students arrived. I got the basics in and then finished it the next day at home. It took me right back to Arches National Park and I was there again amongst the blue green sage brush which is such a perfect foil for the riot of red, orange and ochres of the rocks and soil.
I fell in love with this plant and one of the most beautiful views from the many places we stayed was the sage brush plain outside our lovely cottage in Kanab. I would just stand and gaze across the blue green brush as the evening descended feeling joyful and serene. A nice state to end the day in. ( and Utah was pretty nice as well!)
Of course this is exactly what Arches National Park is so rightly famous for and I was mesmerised by the thin slivers of rock forming these arches . So graceful yet they were formed by years of abrasion and erosion. I wish I had been shaped so gracefully by my own years .
Every mile of desert landscape we travelled through was colourful, varied and wonderful. I was never bored by the passing landscape and so grateful for the experience and the opportunity to take some hikes that got me up close and personal with some of the landscape. I think you need to get out into nature and experience it in order to get real emotion into your paintings.
I hope that this painting somehow conveys to you those feelings I had as I wandered along the desert trails. The real joy I felt at the exuberance of colour, a sense of wonder that the solidity of those rocks could be changed and sculpted by wind and rain into such delicate structures, a feeling of connectedness to the landscape and a profound thankfulness that places like these have been protected and preserved for generations to enjoy.
If you want to see a real time video of me painting this it will be coming to my Patreon page as a full length video demo in September and will make it’s way to my You Tube channel in October.
July was a busy month for commissions with a really diverse lot of subjects. This is my classroom where I get set new challenges and learn a heap whilst making someone’s vision of a painting come to life.
This one is of a famous hiking trail in Japan. I loved the challenge of getting the mist to look look mist.
Here I got to grow a garden in a couple of days!
And how could I resist this cuddly twosome!
…and a chance to try out some of those quintessential American red barns in a lovely panorama format.
and lastly, a tugboat going about its work. Lots of detail here but that was offset by the loose sky and reflections.
Hope your month has been as varied and interesting!
I recently made some new linocuts and decided it would be fun to add a little story to them for the back of the cards I planned to use the prints on. Here’s what resulted.
“The Birdwatcher’s Club”
The cats met every Tuesday around lunchtime for a spot of sedate birdwatching. It was quietly thrilling as they took up position on the windowsill, never knowing what they might see through the dining room window that day. Perhaps it would be a baby Blue Fairy Wren so tiny and vulnerable as it took its first tentative flights, or maybe an endangered Swift Parrot attracted by all the ripe Irish Strawberries lying on the ground, or the first of the winter Robins with their bright crimson breast so easily spotted as they perched on the low wooden fence. The possibilities were so deliciously varied …
“Harry the Hairy Nosed Wombat”
“Harry was debating if he should get his hairy nose fixed. He felt sure it was hampering him in his quest for love. Maybe it was as simple as investing in a good razor? “
“Tassie was sure that now he had finally made it to the front cover of a greeting card he would be spotted by a talent agent and make the big time. Maybe a wildlife documentary or even a cartoon of his own. “
I enjoyed this so much I think I might try some more…..
I had the first lesson of this terms pastel class today. I know I need to demonstrate techniques for my class and I’m happy to do it but it does put the pressure on to make a “good” painting! When it all goes wrong I can hear them thinking ” I’m paying her to teach me!!!!”
So it was a bit of a mistake to try a new approach today that I knew would take too long to finish. I planned to only do a small area well and leave the rest of the subject area pretty empty.
Plans never go to plan! I started out with the idea of concentrating on the barn and rendering that to a finished stage but then my students had the audacity to follow through on my suggestion that they interrupt at any time and ask questions… I found myself moving into the trees and the sky in response and the end result looked like the unfinished scribblings of a two-year old let loose with the crayon packet! I meant to take a photo but somehow forgot so you’ll just have to imagine it but you can use the following to gauge it’s true horror. To be fait it was a lot more resolved than this but still very, very uninspiring which could be why my sub conscious forgot to take that photo.
Not content with one mess I grabbed another sheet of paper and scribbled a bit more .
I could have done better with more time but I’m always conscious that the main reason they’re in the room is so they can paint and I like to keep a strict 30 minutes for my into waffle and demo so I packed up the waffle iron and got them painting …and they did some great work which I like to think was partly in response to the earlier 30 minutes of demo and discussion. ( and which I hope they think was in some way a result of my teaching points or it coud be a very empty class room next week!)
When I got home I needed to finish that barn! An hour later I put the finishing touches and then tackled the scribbled sheet with an imaginary reflection scene. It felt good to relax with no video running, no need to talk about what I was doing ( I may have babbled on a bit to myself , but myself is very laid back when listening to myself, so no pressure there) and no one to see the end result as it unfolded. It could all go in the bin if I hated it.
Demonstrating to a live audience is full of pressure, a video is a bit better but if it all goes wrong there’s a lot of wasted time ( and to be honest I get a bit tired of talking while I paint – although the IT Geek would tell you I never get tired of talking!) and doing commissions is fraught with possible problems to be resolved. Painting just for me happens a lot less than it used to and I really, REALLY, enjoyed it.
We’re off to the US and Canada next Thursday for six glorious weeks of national parks , painting and walking and I’m knee deep in pre holiday planning. It’s not my usual pre holiday planning though. Having just started up my Patreon page last month I’m really keen to make sure that my wonderful patrons get their monies worth while I’m away so my evenings are spent on the couch with my laptop editing videos, writing up Skill Builder worksheets and scheduling a whole raft of posts for the next 6 weeks.
Usually I’ve packed my bag by now but I haven’t even sorted out what art supplies I’m taking! There are a few piles starting to develop around the house and in the studio so maybe it’s time to fish the suitcase out from under the bed and start piling the piles in!
Just a little overview of what I have scheduled to post this month.
May is Colour Mixing Month!
May will focus on colour mixing and I’ll be talking about colour, demonstrating techniques and giving you lots of ideas to try out!
1st Monday – reference images for the demos later in the month + the Skill Builder and Art Inspiration copyright free reference photos.
2nd Monday- Pastel lesson– this will be a mountain scene with a focus on planning, colour mixing and creating texture.
3rd Monday- Skill Builder worksheet – I’ll be simplifying the idea of using a colour scheme and talking through the pros and cons. There’s a couple of easy but effective exercises with this Skill Builder.
4th Monday – The Acrylic demo and lesson which is an evening scene of an old jetty and some rocks. This will be in 2 parts over 2 days and will build on April’s acrylic lesson. We’ll be exploring graded washes, painting clouds and adding sunset colours to our clouds .
Last Friday – Art Inspiration rewards– I’ll be sending out the hi res images of this months demo paintings for my patrons personal use.
Hints and Tips– there’s a series of hints and tips related to colour mixing sprinkled throughout the month. Mixing neutrals,making greens, avoiding mud and how to get interesting darks will all feature. Also a feature on 5 way thumbnails can really help your art.
A few surprise posts– I hope to post some snippets from my US Canada holiday as my internet connection allows.
Art Challenge– yes there will be another art challenge or two during the month!