Monday, 30 April 2018

Out Of The Woods : Hospitals and Grey Hairs!

"Out Of The Woods"
Textural Work in Progress

Well heres' the thing. I hate admitting that I haven't been well but last week saw me in hospital. Before that I was really poorly and struggling but being me, I wouldn't admit it. I am having a health "blip" for want of a better way to describe it. It started when I was leaving USA on my recent tour. I wasn't well on the flight from Hawaii to Phoenix. In Phoenix we couldn't see or meet up with friends there as again I was so unwell that I had to rest before my flight home. I thought I would be fine once we returned to UK. And for a while I was. But then things went slightly haywire and after visiting our local doctor  I saw a consultant and then had two hospital visits. One being last week, which health wise was not the best of weeks but things are looking up. The big "C", that word that terrifies all of us has been ruled out. Biopsies have been taken just in case but my consultant is confident nothing nasty in that way will show up. Thank heavens. So in many ways I am " Out of the Woods" hence the title of the painting, a work in progress, seen above.

So many of our friends have Cancer. 
And it is a word I dread hearing. 

To be told "we need to eliminate "along with the worry that this is what could have been wrong gave me a few grey hairs. But that is the least of my worries.  In fact if all we ever had to worry about was grey hair our lives would be blessed.

I am seeing a specialist later today and I will be going back to the consultant. But soon hopefully we will know what is wrong, causing my health hiccup and how to deal with it.

But the best news is, I feel much better and I am back in my studio painting and looking forward to now being able to focus on my art, garden and family again. For a while I was out of sorts. I'm feeling much better now, the sky is looking sunnier and my paintings should be far brighter!

Like life!

In fact, I now feel so much happier I will be painting up a storm again. In vibrant colours of course.


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To all my wonderful friends who have sent me such kind caring messages thank you so much. They meant the world to me.  No one likes being ill, no one likes having the worry of facing an illness you'd rather not deal with. But I have many friends who are going through so much, so to you I'm sending my love and prayers. There is light at the end of the tunnel they say. But sometimes the end of the tunnel has a habit of moving just when you get so close to it!

Hugs!

Jean

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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Bluebell Woods 2018

"Bluebell Heaven"
Bluebell Woods 2018


As always time is flying and there is so much to do. Tomorrow I have a meeting with my publisher. Last week I delivered new work to the Wey Gallery in Godalming, Surrey, UK and they will be showing my latest paintings of bluebell woods. Inspired by the woodland near my home and the bluebells that grow in the woodland area of our garden.

Spring is a wonderful time to be inspired by nature. Colour at this time of year is so tempting as flowers begin to bloom and turn the previous dull hues of Winter into lively energetic beautiful scenes that seem to change daily.

In my new book "Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" I describe how I paint bluebells.

This month though I discovered that using two shades in particular by Daniel Smith really added drama to the simple use of blues when painting dense carpets of flowers as those seen in my painting above. 


Small bluebell wood study

I used French Ultramarine but added Wisteria by Daniel Smith on top of the blue application. It gave me a slightly pinkish hue which looks violet in some lights and sections. It is a great combination and one I hadn't expected to use. But then painting is an activity that often leads to stunning happy accidents and surprises.

Now I am working on yet another new book which is really challenging and will need quite a bit of research to complete it. And this research will do me good!

For now I'm happily painting Spring flowers as the seasons change so quickly and if we blink we will miss the opportunity to capture as many in watercolour as we can while they are gloriously in bloom


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Monday, 9 April 2018

Spring Inspiration 2018; Tulips in Watercolour

 Tulips in a glass vase
Work in Progress

This has to be the very best time of year to be inspired. Everywhere I  turn I see new subjects to paint and I spend my evenings imagining how I will paint them when I get to my studio the next day. Spring is a time for looking forward. I feel energised and motivated especially as I was teaching watercolour workshops in UK last week. Thank you so much to everyone who not only came but added to the fabulous warn atmosphere in each session. I left on a high each day too and I know from reading emails about my classes that they were really well received and enjoyed. I do love teaching and sharing my passion for painting so much but each time I do hold a workshop I can't wait to paint myself.


So here the start to this weeks painting. I have a collection of Spring flower paintings on my easel at the moment. My wonderful husband bought me some tulips this weekend and they are to die for. Their colours are beautifully glowing and the sheen on the petals is fascinating me. Silky , shining blooms.


I started creating my first painting of tulips this year with a gorgeous first wash. It was so beautiful and fresh that I couldn't resist painting another straight away. There was magic in the first spontaneous wash. This one can be seen on the upper right corner of my easel in the photograph below. The next larger first wash seen on the left of  my easel below was better planned, in that I knew where I would be placing my flowers. I painted each individual bloom in this wash differently as I thought about the arrangement more. But to be completely honest, I actually like the freedom in my less planned wash far more. Which is often the case. I do believe we can over think a painting at times, killing the  sense of fluidity and freedom that can occur when pigments simply interact alone minus our help. At the foot of my easel in the image below  you can see a small study of tulips. This piece I quickly did on a scrap of paper to consider where I would add detail to my lovely two bigger washes. This I did as a warm up to completing them. You will be able to see more about this creative form of journey in my new book about painting flowers which will be out later this year.


 Two first washes of tulip arrangements and a small completed study of the same flowers.

 I can't stop painting flowers at the moment which my easel photograph below hints at!

 Spring flower paintings adorning my studio easel

I love the physical creative process as much as the finished paintings. So much so that I am in no rush to complete these pieces. I may even start a third wash before moving on to adding final details. Its' the joy I feel when moving my brushes that is so important to me. And this morning my heart is full of joy.  Even more so because I am falling in love again with techniques covered in my new book which is due out in June. 

"Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" , my new book and the journey in writing it, has given me the boost I needed to spring into life with my latest work. I'm so excited and eager to paint so I will close my blog post for now. But whatever you are doing this week I do hope you find time to paint. Nothing stimulates the artist soul better than watching colours flow. 
So get out and find your own inspiration to keep your brushes moving.

Happy Painting!


First wash, early stage of my tulip painting.
And I love it at this point!


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Monday, 2 April 2018

A Steet Dog Named Abner : Dedicated to Janice Blore

 "A Street Dog Named Abner"
or
(" What big ears you have!" )

Some time back I was invited to teach watercolour workshops in Vancouver by Janice Blore who runs "Artescapes". I delightedly accepted and have since returned and each time loved my time there.

Janice is the most wonderful workshop host. She is generous, genuinely caring and extremely professional. But what hits you about meeting Janice is her heart which is huge. And my painting above is a testament to her kindness and love.

My model for this study is Abner who is a little Mexican rescue dog.

Abner is an escapee! On arrival at the workshop location each attending artist is asked very nicely to be very careful when opening and closing the door as little Abner likes the thought of running around streets still,  but he is safer under the watchful eye of Janice.

 This cute little bundle of fun entertains and is so adorable that when I picked up my brushes yesterday and initially painted a blob of colour I could see him in the " blob" long before I had even decided what it was even going to be.

I have loved teaching in Vancouver and meeting people there.

And I have literally adored meeting little Abner!

Thank you Janice for hosting and being so fantastic.

I hope this post gives you a surprise!



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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Singing for Spring 2018

"How can I keep From Singing"
Spring flowers in watercolour
Muscari,narcissus and pussy willow 

Oh my goodness. I need 48 hour days to be able to paint all I wish to paint at the moment. There is so much inspiration around with flowers  bursting into life everywhere. This week my fascination has turned to pussy willow and their stunningly soft fluffy buds. The above painting started out as just narcissus flowers but then I felt a touch of blue would add to the colour combinations beautifully. So I added muscari. This I did by picking some from my garden to work from as inspiration. But then I saw some pussy willows on a tree whilst I was walking and I thought they would look great in the top upper corner reaching towards the upper white space, that was.

As I'm sat here I can see where a few primroses might look fabulous in the lower lemon mid section. But then perhaps a few bluebells could then balance the composition by my adding them in the upper diagonal line of the composition, away from and opposite my primroses , if I add them.

I think from this dialogue you can see how my paintings develop. They come to life and tell me what they need rather than my sitting looking at them trying to work out what to do next.

But for now I may just enjoy this piece as it is.

What joy!

Where ever you are I hope you will have some great painting time this week. Because painting is such a fantastic way to pass time!

Create!

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Sunday, 25 March 2018

A Breath of Spring 2018



 
 "Spring Whispers"
Narcissus in watercolour
2018

  I love Spring. I do. It's the most wonderful season for recharging batteries and it was a favourite part of writing my new book "Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour". Not so much the subjects that are around and included but the way it makes me feel. Which is what I have explained in my new publication. 

I am currently spring cleaning my studio which is quite a task. I'm throwing away everything that is old including a few unframed paintings because if I look at where I was yesterday in style I will stay there. I want to grow every single year in technique. So I have looked at a few older daffodil paintings, learnt what I like from them and moved on in my new work.

I always suggest keeping a folder of old work to enable you to look back at to see how far you have come in your personal art journey. And oh boy I have grown. Not just in how I paint but in confidence too and I think that is the key to being a good artist. Having the confidence to try new things and admit when things are not going as you wished them to. Being honest with yourself and learning to understand that everyone , no matter how experienced they are as an artist, has off days when paintings simply don't work.

But today I had a great day. In fact I have had a great week. I have worked quietly in my studio and had a ball. So what did I create today? These two paintings of narcissus that were on my easel, as seen below, a short time ago.



 
 Side by side
Two paintings in a similar composition of narcissus in watercolour

My first composition was of an upright spray of narcissus flowers as seen above but it didn't seem to have any energy in it. And so I started a new composition straight away, this time choosing a flowing curved arrangement which I found far more pleasing. There is a section in my new book that talks about composition and it is playing on my mind. It is about being unique and I desperately want to be each time I paint. And better in skill always.


 The second composition seen below was so exciting as I used the same colours as I had done in my first painting but this time I kept them far softer. This piece is very pleasing to me.


 My second  and more pleasing composition in a first wash.

I am almost embarrassed to admit this but I liked the second version, above, so much more that I ripped the piece below up and put it in the bin but looking at it on my computer screen I think I may have been too hasty!


"Spring Flowers"

I think I have probably become far too critical of my own work. Only accepting the best as a finished painting. When I first started working in watercolour I would have been over the moon with the above result. But in time we seek something far more than a finished painting. We want it all. Each new completed piece has to have a magic about it and thats' where I am headed.

It is quite funny though in that when I first started painting I would frame almost everything. Now I don't. Only the very best work ends up for sale or in an exhibition. And I mean the very best.

 I'm being very hard on myself to grow because I know what I am capable of  painting. I know the skill level I can paint at. Teaching for so long on tour has taken me away from what I love best of all. Experimenting and pushing my own personal standard. Right now my goal I have set myself for this year is really high. I feel as though I am treading in old masters' footsteps because they too threw work away. Always moving onward in their quests to be superb artists.

Thats' where I want to be too.

I'm moving forward which is appropriate as the clocks moved forward in UK this weekend.


Happy painting!


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Artist tip for the day?

If you don't have room to keep old work take photos of your paintings of favourite subjects and look back regularly to see if you are improving in style or technique.  
You will soon become your best teacher and be pushing yourself to improve. 
As I do regularly.
Be your own mentor!
And go for gold

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Friday, 23 March 2018

Lambs Tails in Watercolour : A Simple Walk

 "Shaking Tails"

Today the sun shone and as I have been working non stop I decided to go for a short walk. From my studio window I can see catkins nearby blowing in the breeze. The tree opposite my studio is literally covered in these spring blossoms. In fact, have never seen so many tails hanging on individual branches. And they became fascinating to me as a subject to paint.

I stood under the tree looking upwards realising, in sections above me, twigs and branches were completely out of sight due to the heavy dangling catkins which I call "lambs tails" and have done since I was a child. I picked a branch that was within reach and carried it back to my studio as "treasure".

My first painting above started from a simple wash of Daniel Smith Walnut Ink, with water forming patterns which I could then add the catkins to. Similar to the waterfall wash described as a technique in my book "Paint Yourself Calm". Painting waterfall washes is incredibly relaxing and they can be used as a foundation for all kinds of subjects. This kind of wash certainly worked very well for my catkins seen above.

But while I was painting the sight I had just witnessed by looking up, my eyes were drawn to a few branches that just had one or two catkins on, swaying in the breeze. These I began to capture as seen below. This is an unfinished painting but it will have as much depth and interest as the above painting when it is finished with possibly a simpler composition.


"Catkins in the Breeze"


I have had the best week possible painting to my hearts' content. I have a new book to work on but for now my projects are all for me, Exploring colour, improving techniques and having a ball.

I so love my life.

It is amazing how a simple walk can lead you in a new direction. And now I will  be wondering what I will see next when I take a scenic route tomorrow.

 Happy painting!

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Artists tip of the day?

Don't just paint. Get out and see things to gain new ideas and inspiration. A break away from your studio or painting space makes you eager to return. So it is never wasted time!

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