Monday, 18 September 2017

Figures in Watercolour

 "Friends"

I find it amazing that I was recognised as one of the figures in my earlier street scene blog post from Florence, shared today. I used to paint figures all the time but then they lost their magic for me as other new favourite subjects took over. But when I painted them as a break from my scheduled painting week I found I had fallen in love with them. All over again.

I started painting figures when I lived in Dubai. I loved the markets and souks there so much and often wandered around with my camera collecting images to paint. Market scenes became my best selling work in exhibitions at that time along with portraits. But I later moved to France and continued with my market theme in watercolour there. Of course the clothing was different. Gone was the dish dash and in came Western clothing.

I still don't sketch before I paint when working on figures. I find my starting point. In this case one head shape, and I added the other heads in a row. Like paint blobs but with character!


 Paint blob heads in a row

Next I begin to add clothing. I look at the leg positions for the men in my painting as this will guide my brushwork on where to add colour. This group of friends are walking close together and I want to show that they like each other by connecting them with colour. As they are in bright sunlight I will leave a lot of paper white.

Adding clothing to the head blobs of colour is the next step.

Once I am very happy with the composition and proportions I strengthen colour in places and add details . From here I can add sunglasses, hats, a background or foreground. The choice is mine and I will have so much fun deciding. I just thought this could be a fun blog post as it is such an interesting way to work.


 Detail begins to be added to my figure painting.

My best tip for painting figures in watercolour is to sit in a busy shopping centre, market or airport even. Observe  and  sketch shapes. then try painting what you have seen with simple blobs of colour.

Be warned, this is addictive as a hobby! 

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Standing Out from the Crowd

 "Just Shopping"

I face another week working in my studio, painting outside when I can, and catching up on my new book which is looking so wonderful. I'm also looking forward to my USA and Canada workshops which commence next month. Already behind the scenes preparation is in hand, My paper and brushes will be sent over in advance and any samples I wish to use in my classes which isn't always possible but I love it when it does.

I remember my Stepmother telling me that time feels as though it slows down when you get older. I'm obviously not old enough yet as time seems to be flying by and speeding up as it does so for me. I pack so much into my days and love each one because I never know exactly what is going to happen. But I did feel like a break yesterday. And to everyone else that might be taken as having a break from painting. But for me painting is my escape, my relaxation. my therapy and yoga all rolled into one. And so I chose a completely different subject to paint so that my brain had a good work out on what to put where and why in this city scene of shoppers.

My resource photo is my own. I always prefer to paint from  my own images, things I have seen and fallen in love with. This particular shot almost gave everyone in the crowd halos as they were bathed in strong sunlight. The scene was in Florence and I loved my time there.





I started by painting the three main shoppers in the foreground, I then added the crowd disappearing into the distance behind them. And finally I added the buildings. Everyone on my recent workshops will know exactly how I painted the buildings, not with my brush, but with my watercolour paper.

This was great fun. The piece feels a little tight as I haven't painted a street scene of figures for quite some time which is why I chose this as a subject. We have to realise that if we paint the same subject repeatedly in the same style we are, in a way, standing still with our art. Even we feel more comfortable painting what we know, we are not allowing our inner artist to stretch their talent to  reach our full potential.

So my artist tips for  today are:-

1) Every now and then choose a subject you don't normally paint 
2) Every now and then, make yourself paint something you feel you will be a disaster at!
3) Then explore how your new painting works or does not work

Afterwards, go back to painting what you like painting. It should now seem easier to create, be more enjoyable and perahps more fun.

Do keep pushing yourself because that way your artistic skills will consistently improve and you will become a more talented artist.

Have a great week ahead and happy painting

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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Dream Catcher Dreams

" Essence of a Dreamcatcher"

This certainly isn't a painting I would dream of selling but it is a very strange how this piece came about this morning. 

I started my day by painting a few new washes. These pieces are for me to experiment with colour, relax through and hopefully discover new ideas for future work. This morning on one wash a spider web seemed to appear. So I aided it with a few brush strokes. As seen below. But where the colour had bled and merged beneath the web I could see a feather effect. Immediately I thought about Native American Dream Catchers.


Spider web or Dream catcher.

The next thing I knew I had left my painting completely and I was reading up about these wonderful items. Said to allow good dreams to pass through but trap bad dreams in the webbing. I love the idea that negativity could be entrapped if a dream catcher was placed near your bed whilst you were sleeping. In fact I love the history behind them completely.

I added to the wash making bolder marks on the feathers below. But I have left the web quite quiet, so it will be easier to trap anything negative in it. Bad dreams or negative thoughts.




What a very odd painting day but so rewarding learning about something, a tradition so ancient and so magical.

I know I want to learn more now.


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Saturday, 16 September 2017

Blackberries and Rosehips 2017




 
 Autumn Hedgerow

 Today has been the best painting day for such a long time. I have painted from my heart ,whatever subject I felt like and when I felt like it. No pressure from preparing for exhibitions. No pressure form having to write magazine features or my new book.

Just fun.

So you could say today was my day off and I could paint whatever I liked and oh boy, I did!

I started the day with washes, then painted the soft rose I shared on my blog earlier. But it was the simplicity of the last blog post that really turned on my artistic "buttons".I loved creating it so immediately grabbed my uncompleted blackberry paintings and added to them. Putting in more branches and an overall wash to give the feeling of another dimension to each piece. I should add that I now paint with my fingers so much and I am literally covered in paint at the moment but I feel great.

My easel looks like the image below and I will walk into my studio tomorrow and love seeing these two works in progress.
 

 
 Autumnal hedgerow complete with blackberries and rose hips.

My favourite painting is the one below as it has a gorgeous 3D effect. The upper berries seem to be leaping off the paper which is terrific. I love it so far. In fact it might be finished but I am in that painting zone where I am so happy that I don't want to leave either of the paintings.

"Hips and Berries"

The painting below has drama. It is exciting and so vibrant in colour. I am using many Daniel Smith shades with a few new techniques in building up colour that I have loved discovering over the summer months whilst I have worked diligently on my new book.


 "Autumn Drama"

I now cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring in my next painting session.

Who knows?

Not me!

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Artists tip for the weekend?

1) Get out. 
2) Go for a walk. Not only will the exercise do you good but you will discover so much new inspiration that you can bring back to paint at your leisure. 
3)Look for treasure in subjects to paint that will be really fantastic to work on. 
4)Remember not all paintings have to be complicated. Some of the simplest paintings are the best.

Have fun and happy painting

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End of Summer

"End of Summer"

The sun is  shining outside my studio and I had started working on a new sea horse painting. But I kept looking at the light behind the trees in our garden. In the afternoon the soft sunlight gives a diffused effect which is so beautiful. Right by my studio I have an Acer which carries gorgeous dark leaves and the sunlit background is really showing them off. But the light alone kept catching my eye. So much so that the tree became irrelevant.

I painted the light in the distance and then added branches and twigs on top. I worked quickly and freely but I kept looking at the scene in front of me while I painted. For inspiration and guidance on where to place my brushwork next.

There is one branch that I have meant t remove. I walk past it daily, see it hanging down and always think next time I walk past I will carry my pruning shears and cut off the offending branch.

But isn't it funny. 

When I painted that branch hanging down it added to what could have been a boring composition. Adding interest and a lovely foreground "dark" to the soft branches in the distance.

I now of course love that branch. Its' artistic.

I won't remove it.

I may even paint it again.

How great to unwind on a simple but large painting that made me feel so relaxed when it came to life on my easel.

The simplest things in life can be the most beautiful of all.

Who knew a broken branch could be so fascinating. It even has its' own blog post now!

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A Gentle Soul

 Rose coming to life in watercolour
Minus a preliminary sketch

On every workshop I am asked to demonstrate how I paint roses. They are indeed a favourite subject of mine. This morning I picked one from my garden and began to paint it.While I did so words from my Chinese mentor came flooding back to me. They told me a good artist can only paint what is in their soul. They believed that you should never try to be someone you aren't with your art. They advised that you should not only be true to your own soul as an artist but you should also allow who you are to shine in your art. They urged me to delve deep within myself each time I picked up a brush to encourage my spirit to flow into my work.

I remember them telling me that I had a gentle soul and that no matter how hard I tried in my art journey I would always  return to who I truly am.

A soft, gentle soul.

So maybe that is why no matter how often I experiment, every now and then I want to paint quietly, softly and gently encouraging subjects to emerge via my soft brushstrokes and gentle use of colour .

As in this rose painting.

I started by selecting gorgeous colours from my Daniel Smith collection of shades.


 Opera Rose, Quinachridone Lilac and Rose Madder Permanent created this soft bloom

I used Cadmium Yellow for the centre but I varied the pinks in the petals.  I think we often look at a pink flower and only see pink. When in truth many shades of pink are right before our eyes. Maybe the best gift an artist possess's is the ability to see. Only by constant observation can we create great replicas of what nature has to offer in beauty.


 Further detail added

Summer is coming to an end here in UK and if I want to paint flowers I need to do so quickly before they all disappear.

There is no time better for painting than right now.

And so I am off to paint!


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Friday, 15 September 2017

A Dragons Charm: Seahorse in Watercolour

 "A Dragons Charm"

I am staying with my seahorse theme and series this week. This is the latest to my collection. Having fallen in love with the subject  my imagination is now stirred by the possibility of background changes.

In this new almost Celtic composition there are  wonderful patterns and effects behind the subject that make the painting more interesting. I say Celtic because this seems quite Irish, although I don't really connect sea horses with Ireland. It is simply the green that makes me think of St Patricks' Day!

I loved playing with coral in the foreground, as seen in the close up section image below.


Coral , adding interest in my sea scene.

Behind the seahorse, circular shapes had formed in my initial wash. These have now turned delightfully into bubbles or sea spray. With a little encouragement from me as the creating artist of course. These can be seen below



Sea "Bubbles" formed from an interesting first wash.

These patterns and effects are so much fun to create but most of the ideas in these washes are from my book "Paint Yourself Calm", that placed the focus on colour and washes to relax whilst painting. This way of working is truly exciting as you never quite know exactly what is going to happen. For example, I am painting a similar idea of a seahorse in each new painting and yet my results so far have been completely different. Because I am being led by colour, not direct thinking ahead of a new piece or from planning it . I am working freely. And this helps my creative time pass so magically. Full of fascinating outcomes.

I am reading up about sea horses now and there is so much folklore attached to them. They hang on with their tails against the currents. Tiny, delicate but so strong. They are said to be a sign to help you through emotional stress or turmoil.

But to me they are dragons. 
Charms that carry good luck. 
Lets' hope my new Celtic one carries a lot for all who see it!

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