The Artist’s Curse…..

Spent the morning experimenting…..actually just playing, with no particular aims, or thought…

Using the sample paper I got from St.Cuthbert’s Mill at the Patchings Art Festival – a mixture of Saunders Waterford and Bockingford – I put the pigment directly onto the paper before adding water, ink, and in some cases, granulation fluid…with somewhat mixed results…

…perhaps that was to be expected as I definitely wasn’t feeling it …..

Even tried a colour I don’t usually use – Perylene Red – in an effort to get the creative juices flowing….not sure it worked….

Decided to take a closer look at one of the pieces….

…and thought that if I turned it on it’s side….

…I could potentially see honesty seed heads and teasels….so I did the fatal thing, the artist’s curse….and fiddled…

….you would think I would know by now – what can I say, I’m a slow learner …oh well back to playing….oh sorry, I mean experimenting…


Paper, Paper Everywhere….

Whenever I go to an art shop or browse an on-line art catalogue I am always overwhelmed by the selection of paper on offer…paper for all mediums and preferences..

For those of you kind enough to stop by and read my blog, you will know that I have a rather parsimonious attitude to the paper I practice on…using only old sketchbook sheets…and even these vary in weight…

…but today I decided to go mad, call it Friday Frivolity if you will…

….the above are initial watercolour washes… the bottom right is on sketchbook paper whilst the other two are on 300lb Fabriano Artistico HP paper – I know, whatever was I thinking….

It’s fairly obvious how the sketchbook paper buckles under the amount of water I use – and I am lazy and can’t be bothered to stretch it – but the Fabriano paper is lovely. It withstands lots of water and a lot of rough treatment; I used a brush along with a roller, old credit card and stick to move the pigment around… without damaging the surface.

I continued to add washes….and with the help of Adobe Photoshop Express for virtual cropping and framing…these are the results…

Sticking with my favourite colours of Daniel Smith Rich Gold, Indigo, Paynes Grey and Quinacridone Gold…..I based these on Norfolk reed beds… ??

It was actually lovely to have experimental pieces that might be worth framing and not be worried that the paper has buckled…there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Only problem now is that I would like more of the Fabriano paper…doesn’t bode well for my piggy bank when I head off to the Patchings Art Festival next week….



Inspiration for my work comes from many sources…..number one is the countryside, both the coast and and the hills/mountains…

…the large scale…

…and on a smaller scale, from my own garden…

I just love the colour of this plant – Santolina Lemon Fizz… the nearest shade in my selection of watercolours is Daniel Smith Rich Green Gold….so I decided to channel, not only the colour, but also the memories of late evenings in Norfolk…the sunlight filtering through the reed beds…

….so here’s my effort…

…I really like the initial wash so am loathe to add any more to it – perhaps just intensify the colour?

Inspiration also comes from literature…. At the moment I am reading ‘The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland’ by John Lewis-Sempel. Included in the book is this quote from Richard Jefferies’ autobiography, ‘The Story of My Heart’:

‘I want to be always in company with the sun, and sea, and earth. These, and the stars by night, are my natural companions.’

Sounds like my kind of guy!!! This love of the landscape is something I try to convey in my work – whether  I am successful remains to be seen…

Having said that…I am pleased to report that, in the first week of the Exploring Place exhibition at Blue Owl Art, Grantham, Lincolnshire, I have sold FIVE paintings….



That Age Old Question….

Continuing on with my attempts to get to grips with watercolour, I began, as usual with the ‘no pressure’ washes as advocated by Jean Haines.

imageRegular readers will note that there are 4 washes today….(All the pigments are by Daniel Smith apart from the Quinacridone Gold). The LH wash is Quinacridone Pink and Ultramarine Turquoise producing a quiet wash, whilst the next one is Green Apatite Genuine and Rose of Ultramarine with clingfilm. This one hasn’t worked so well; the green produced some great effects with water, but I was determined to use clingfilm on it……resulting in a dirty wash…..lesson learnt…if something looks great…leave it!!The RH two washes are Quinacridone Gold with Ultramarine Turquoise and furthest right, with Indigo. Here I will admit to being unsuccessful with the salt effects on the Indigo wash, hence my fourth wash of the day…..this time with slightly better results…

imageimageI then continued with Jean’s exercise of positive/negative painting – imagining obstacles….


To my mind these washes look ‘bitty’, and I was not quick enough to ‘bleed away’ – to use Jean’s term – the pigment, hence the hard lines around the ‘obstacles’. But do you know, I’m not worried…. and that’s a big step forward for me!! I know where I made mistakes and I know how to fix them…

Anyhow, even though the washes weren’t great, I proceeded to add a little more to them…

imageand it seems to have lifted them a little…..

I then moved back to my rose wash…(if it seems as though I am flitting from one piece to another, remember I am trying hard to be patient and let each wash dry completely before deciding what to do next……not always successfully I may add!!)

imageAdding detail, but all the while trying to remember that this is not a piece that I thought would be successful enough to frame…..

imageslowly, slowly building up the detail….


And here’s that old age question, even if it is just a study….when to stop……I know these are supposed to be roses but I don’t know if it is clear to the viewer….but the more I add, the more I feel as if I am fiddling…perhaps it’s time to put it to one side and start another…..

Good days, bad days….

As with life, some days are good and some are not so good…and so it is with my efforts to improve my watercolour skills!!

As ever I started my session with my 3 washes (as per Jean Haines teachings..)

imageimageApart from the Violet in the top wash all the rest are Daniel Smith watercolours. Along with the Violet I used Mayan Blue to create a quiet, calm wash. The bottom left wash is Rich Green Gold combined with Cascade Green and cling film effects, whilst the remaining wash is Indigo and Perinone Orange (which didn’t combine at all well) …and the ever troublesome salt. I dropped water on top of the salt which really pushed the pigment aside…

I then decided to paint on top off one of the washes I created yesterday…

imageand initially it went well….

imageI could see flowers emerging….

imageand here, I think, the trouble started. My flower shapes became confused between sweet peas and tulips…..that will teach me to paint with no subject in front of me. I also think I was too tentative with my colour, only going in with pale washes and lots of water…. I then thought, blow it, go in bold and…..

imageBy this stage I had used so much water in so many layers that I was ruining the surface of the rough watercolour paper…. I have therefore put this attempt to one side; maybe I will look again tomorrow and see if anything can be salvaged.

Needing to finish the day on a good note I returned to the rose washes I had started…

imageI added the smallest details….which, unless you look closely, you probably won’t notice… but I realised I was ‘fiddling’ and in danger of losing the freshness of the initial wash so I …..put my paint brushes down….

imageimageEven if these don’t immediately scream ‘roses’, I am quite happy with my efforts…and feel I have a good idea where to start tomorrow!

I no longer feel so downhearted when my attempts don’t work because I now realise that good or bad, I am learning all the time…and that can only be a good thing!!

Long time no see…….


To say it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything is perhaps an understatement!! For reasons I don’t want to dwell on, the latter half of 2015 and early part of this year, was a difficult time and thoughts of art, drawing and painting were not foremost in my mind.

However, time is a great healer and life goes on……and I have tentatively started to paint again, albeit only in a sketchbook.

I have been spending a lot of time in West Wales, in a tiny village called New Quay, Ceredigion. Quiet during the winter, the population swells during the summer months with holidaymakers drawn here by the sandy beaches, rocky coves, spectacular coastal walks as well as the hills, valleys and verdant lanes to walk along.


New Quay, CeredigionMisty morning in New Quay

Rock pools, Cei BachSunset, Cei BachI have been drawn to a small beach, Cei Bach, that looks out across Cardigan Bay, along the coast to Aberaeron and Aberystwyth. It has the most fabulous sunsets!!

Travels through Wales have also taken me through Snowdonia and the wonderful mountain landscapes. All this super scenery provided me with some much needed encouragement to pick up my pencils, charcoal and paintbrushes……









Even managed to dig out the watercolours – Daniel Smith – gorgeous, surprisingly thick paints! I do seem to have a thing for the edges; coastal views – the line between sea and land, hill tops,…..

Wet DaysLooking to the hillsDreaming of sunsets

There is also a fabulous ridge of windswept trees…that I tried to capture using charcoal and ink…..


which I had printed as a card, along with a couple of other doodles….


My final image for this post is a watercolour – Sunset at Cei Bach…..a beautiful place to sit…….

Sunset at Cei Bach

So that’s just a brief update….I promise not to leave it so long next time!!