Saturday, 17 December 2016

An Aussie Christmas

Each year I create a painting just for my Christmas card and I start thinking from late October what it might be. Along came a visitor one breakfast time, a rare one to my place on the edge of the river in South Australia.  I knew I had my subject for this years card after my excited photo opportunity, following her as she went on her way, me still in my PJ's

Wishing you all a wonderful, peaceful and joyful Christmas xx

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Last Word

The Last Word
56cm x 38cm

In the bird world the male is often the colourful one and the female less so. In Australia we have several species of fairy wrens are these are the"Superb Blue Wren". I am lucky to have them visit my garden. Often one male and females with youngsters. Pretty as the male is with his blue finery the female is having the last word! (not so different from u mere mortals)
I painted this over a week as I had a lot of away from studio time. I was not sure I would pull it together with so many stop and starts but within 24 hours of it being finished and shown on my facebook page it had enquiries from around the world. When this happens I worry how to handle a sale but in the end it just has to come down to who confirms first. Is there a fairer way to handle multiple offers? Please let me know if you have one


                                   Christmas Give Away to Newsletter Subscribers

Don't forget to sign up to my monthly newsletter to be in the draw to win your choice of an Original Painting chosen from the above 6 watercolours, 1/4 sheet, matted with free postage worldwide.
Winner drawn on December 20th and notified by email to make their choice

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Emotions Run High

I am usually on a creative high when I am painting but never so emotionally charged as I was with painting this weekend.
When I was 21 (gosh such a very long time ago), I had a beautiful Old English Sheepdog we named Trinity. I remember picking him up when he was ready to leave his Mum at 8 weeks, taking a cardboard box with me so he could travel in the car safely home, only to find it was about 10 sizes too small!. We lost our beautiful dog when he was just 2 years old after he died under anaesthetic at the vets as they were taking out a grass seed from his leg.  I was devastated.
We don't see this breed of dog here very much at all but to my surprise in a home just along from us on the river , every now and then I saw 2, one wearing blue, one wearing pink in their hair. Their owners only come down here for weekends every now and then so on Friday when I saw activity there I knocked on the door to ask to take some photos. On Saturday I returned with my camera and had the most amazing, emotionally charged photo shoot. I was literally bowled over on occasion by 2 year old Prince and 16 week Teddy (a third the female didn't come down this time) I am not the bravest person with animals but I was totally at ease and couldn't contain my enthusiasm. On returning to my studio I looked at the images on Saturday afternoon and thought how am I going to paint such a big ball of fluff. On Sunday I set to to capture Prince and I was so pleased it came together perfectly.
After emailing the doggies owners on Monday morning they said "Wow" can we buy it.

Prince - A weekend at the River

Prince 2 years old

Teddy 16 weeks old

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Christmas Giveaway

I am very grateful for the support I receive when I share my art so I am having a thank you giveaway this Christmas.
It is open to all subscribers to my monthly Studio Newsletter.
Some of my blogging friends and followers already subscribe but for those of you who haven't signed up but would like to be in the draw to win an Original Watercolour please use my newsletter link here and sign up before the draw which takes place on December 20th at 9am South Australian time.
The winner chosen randomly from my subscription list will be contacted by email to choose from one of the six paintings. I have included some older work, some very new.
The Giveaway is for an unframed painting, matted and measures 49cm x 40cm ready to frame and postage worldwide.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Make it your Own

As artists we are open to inspiration at every turn.  We are very lucky to have so many generous photographers who enjoy sharing their images for artists to use for reference and I am sometimes compelled to use a photo shared by someone else as it has something so special it resonates too strong with me to pass up the chance to create from it. I am though, always mindful that for me it is the spark, the reference but not the painting. I make it my own with my composition, colour choice, texture etc. Thank you to John Frost for his wonderful owl in flight photo.

Time to Tell
425gsm Saunders Waterford Hot Press 38cm x 28.5cm

Monday, 24 October 2016

Tweaks and Remakes

I am revisiting earlier works, some from two years back, some from two weeks ago. Paintings that I have liked at the time so they have been stored away but have never made it to the framing stage. It isn't possible to frame everything but when a work doesn't get considered I know it has not yet shown me everything it can. This is when I have nothing to loose but to push it further.
Some require just a little tweak others a bit of a bigger remake. This results in some going in the bin because the extra painting didn't work out but a lesson or two is always learnt first. Happy to say this one will go onto the framing stage.

A Touch of Paradise
Unframed size 76cm x 56cm
October 2016

November 2015

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Demo Painting

Gifts from Spring
76cm x 56cm
Saunders Waterford 425gsm Hot Press Paper
Gifts from Spring was painted yesterday as a demo during a two day workshop here in my studio for returning students who had already been on one of my foundation courses over the past two years. 
So much fun and laughter, serious painting too as watercolours were painted to be framed for gifts for special recipients. I really enjoy sharing my journey and passion for this exciting medium and what better way than painting along with others.
The workshop was about each artists painting their own inspiration with help when needed. I enjoyed showing how to move their paintings forward when asked.
I never intended to paint a full sheet demo at all but on our second day from all the combined contributions of flowers it was perfect for me to show how I create a painting without drawing or composing first.
Much fuss was made to make me a nice still life arrangement but I said it was not needed as I don't work that way. You can see the few blooms in a vase in front of my easel. 

  • I wet both sides of the paper
  • Splashed in some colour for a soft background avoiding the area where I needed some white for my white roses. 
  • Darks were added underneath. 
  • Whilst the underpainting was drying I could work on the white blooms.
  • Once dry I added more colour with harder edges with postive and negative painting
 I left the painting many times to go help anyone who was working on their own but even by my standards this large work that can often take two or three days to resolve came together easily and quickly. I was in the zone, the studio was buzzing. A tiny tweak and signature added this morning in my now very quiet back to normal studio and I'm happy.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Bits of Spice

I love painting in pure watercolour but I really do enjoy mixing it up with adding other media which is really bits of spice as the main ingredient is watercolour pigment.
We have just had a few days away in the country further south from where I live and when away in a new town retail therapy always calls. I did purchase a few usual temptations but I was most excited by my purchase of some handmade paper ideal for collage in my work.
This Bougainvillea features two papers- gold leaves on green and real petals on a cream.

Cascading Colour
56cm x 30cm

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

In Tune

It has been a bit of an up and down ride since July after having a month off. It was not just the holiday and getting out of my routine but several happenings at home when we returned saw my mojo flit in and out of my life.

August was a very busy time with my open studio and exhibition for our SALA event and I did have a good number of paintings leave for their new homes but with a large exhibition due in January I have also felt the pressure to come up with my latest and best and we all know that art doesn't work that way.

For the past 2 weeks I feel back in tune and really happy with what I am painting. I have been absent from blogging as I just wanted to go along with my latest artistic ride with not too much care for using the computer. I have shared some paintings on face book as it is a quick process but having my mojo back full time (well right now at least), I am at last adding to my blog.

Here is a painting finished last weekend which really put the smile back on my face

Boy Band
Unframed size 56cm x 43cm
Arches 300gsm Cold Press Paper

Friday, 19 August 2016

Worth the Wait

A Hint of Spring
56cm x 43cm on Saunders Waterford CP 425gsm

I am not a painter who easily works on more than watercolour at a time as I seem to become so engaged with my subject matter that I can think of little else until I finish my painting. This week I have been tempted to start something else as my work on the easel of blossom was becoming a marathon to resolve. I am glad I remained focused on the one work as it took all my imagination and techniques to complete my watercolour early this morning. It was worth the wait.
I had been working on photographs to show me the blossom and even though I have seen many of our trees coming into blossom as I am out and about I no longer have our plum tree for real life inspiration as it grew too big for our garden.
I spent time doing a quick small painting testing out my colours so had really prepared well.
After about 4 sessions this week I was not really getting anywhere. The turning point came about this morning when  I brought a small piece of a branch into my studio that I snipped from a tree, found on the side of the road yesterday, it gave me a real life connection to the blossom and this made all the difference and I was able complete the painting.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Days of Variety

Some of my exhibition at Mt. Jagged Wines
The last week or so in my studio has been filled with so much variety.
Our SALA festival is on this month so my studio is open to the public some days but I still paint whilst visitors look and I stop and answer their questions or give a demo as I explain something.
I had the opening of my exhibition at Mt. Jagged Wines on Sunday afternoon  and was thrilled that a floral painting was sold as I nearly always agonise over my decision on what to include in a show but I know that we all like something different so there is no knowing what subject could be a favourite.
Hide and Seek

I have also painted some new work ready for upcoming exhibitions and tweaked some paintings that I had framed but decided my 2016 techniques and style could enhance them. One of these sold on my first open studio day so I was pleased I took the plunge to add to what I already thought was fine.


Contemplating - Sold
Lemon Fresh

Lemon Drops

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

SALA Festival

August is here and so is SALA. This is an arts festival thats runs for the month of August each year and more than 4000 artists exhibit in hundreds of venues across South Australia. Venues include more than galleries as hotels, cafes, restaurants, banks, surgeries to mention a few offer their venue for artists. Many artists also open their own studios.
This Sala I am exhibiting at Mt. Jagged Wines at Mt. Compass as well as having my own studio open. I am going to do two Saturday demos at the winery too.


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Cooking in Provence

Gosh it already feels like ages since we holidayed in Provence even though it was just last month.
We were lucky to attend two different cooking classes/demonstrations and this watercolour was created from memories and reference images taken there. Unfortunately the reference photos were not that brilliant as we were in a basement kitchen in a hotel and the lighting was not good. Between photography and trying to concentrate on the cooking the camera settings didn't get enough attention but this was a good thing for me as my painting required lots of choices and artistic input from me rather than be a slave to a reference so I could just go for it.

Cooking in Provence
Arches Hot Press 300gsm
56cm x 38cm

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Step by Step - Camellia

Having been back in my studio properly now for a couple of weeks I feel I am just getting my hand back in. I have tackled works requiring drawing along with the free style of just throwing paint around and building from there. I love the freedom of this way of working even though they are not always a winner. Today I thought you might like to see one of my throwing paint around paintings  I started yesterday and this morning tweaked that I am really pleased with.

Reference Material: 
A few shots taken on my Ipad of a potted Camellia in my garden, not a really healthy specimen but it has now has one open flower and lots of buds. It caught my attention on my way to the studio so it became my latest subject.

Paper:     Arches 300gsm Hot Press
Size:        1/2 sheet 56cm x 38cm
I chose to use Hot Press paper simply because I had a half sheet left already in my drawer and as I like using both Hot and Cold Press I did not give its characteristics any real thought for this painting.

I gave most thought to the colours having tested a little with the Pinks choosing a few for variety
Colours:  Pinks/Reds
                Rose Madder, Opera Rose, Quinacridone Magenta, Winsor Red
                Cascade Green, Indigo
                Cadmium Yellow, Quinacridone Gold
                Burnt Sienna, Flinders Violet

Step 1
I wet the paper on the back and laid it flat on my board and easel. I sprayed the front so I had some dry paper left as this makes it easier to not have colours totally merge together and gives me a little room for stop and start sections.

Step 2
NO DRAWING - Using a mop brush add colour randomly but trying to keep some areas light and pink glancing at the photos to get the feel of what might work. If you find this too scary you could always do a bit of pre planning and then lightly draw in where you might have the blooms. I prefer the excitement this way of painting gives me - living dangerously and seeing what happens.
The leaves do not need drawing as they will appear as you build and add colour

Step 3
Whilst the paper is still wet (it will stay wet for longer because of wetting the back) you have plenty of time to add more colour - I added some splattered paint too and the start of branches and stems where all the edges will be soft giving you plenty of choice for sharpening in the next stage.

Step 4
At this stage I had to stop and let it all dry because a friend called in and once the paper starts to dry it is hard to add more without creating watermarks unless of course you want some. Stopping for coffee was a good idea anyway as it have me time to see what the wet into wet had provided me leading me to the next step. This is really working intuitively and there is no right or wrong here you just have to trust your choices.

Step 5
When all was dry I lifted colour out in some centres as I did not leave white paper for the stamens. I could now add some yellow. 
I lifted colour and added more pinks and reds to give the blooms some form.
Greens and blues added making some positive leaf shapes and suggestions with negative shapes
The branches were tidied up and more little twigs added.A little white added to lead my eye through the darks.
At this stage I decided it was complete. This is always the hardest part knowing when to stop. I signed it so really that says to me Stop. 

Step 6
Take a photo, leave it alone and go cook dinner. Look at photo after dinner and decide to tweak in the morning.

Step 7
New day with fresh eyes, I decide to extend the dark to the upper left hand corner. Add a little more yellow here and there, tweak some of the blooms. Time to Stop and call it done!

Hot Pink, Cold Day

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

My return from Tuscany and Provence

Ian and I have returned from our best holiday ever. The first 10 days in Tuscany where for 7 days I painted at The Watermill along with 10 other watercolourists and tutor Sarah Yeoman. What a brilliant start to our trip this was. The grounds and rooms in The Watermill were fabulous as was the delicious food. We were taken on some trips to nearby villages and also to eat in some local family owned restaurants.
Painting was so relaxed, everyone did their own thing and joined in for demos if they wanted too. I did not see many of the painters during the week as they were scattered around the complex busy painting what inspired them. Sarah did demo outside a couple of times but also in the comfort of the wonderful studio. I did paint inside most of the time. She was very generous with her time and advice and I came away with more knowledge to help me in my journey. The last afternoon we had an exhibition where we got to see what everyone had been up to and Sarah also enhanced it with some work she had brought with her. I was thrilled that Phyllis from the USA asked to buy one of mine which finished the week on a high note.

Of the six or so paintings I did I think two were worthy, The Borrowed Umbrella above which sold and one of an old lady busy doing crotchet which was inspired from an image by Phil Jenkins that I had saved to my ipad some weeks earlier. I painted it from my ipad , dancing along to music from Hozier and Adele playing in my ears, my headphones plugged in so I didn't bother any one else in the class studio. I tweaked this in my studio yesterday and it will be framed soon so I can hang it in my studio gallery as open studio weekends are coming up in August.
Future blog posts will no doubt have inspired paintings from our beautiful three weeks in Provence.

A Stitch in Time
Unframed size 28.5cm x 38cm

Monday, 30 May 2016

Ready to Hop

I am taking a blog break during June as we are ready to hop to Italy and France on holiday.
I am taking a weeks painting holiday first in Posara, Italy with USA watercolourist Sarah Yeoman before we head to Provence for a relaxing time. See you back here in July

Ready to Hop
Unframed size 28cm x 28cm

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Surviving the Garden Hose Wash Off

I have never destroyed a finished painting to such a degree and then brought it back to life again.
Oil and Acrylic artists get to paint over but we watercolourists have to be more imaginative if a work is not to end up in the bin.

Yesterday I thought I was happy with my full sheet (76cm x 56cm) abstract mixed media of watercolour and collage using an artichoke for my inspiration.
After I signed it, photographed it and looked again there were parts I did not like and my first thoughts were to just start again.
Instead I took it outside my studio door to the garden hose and hosed off much of the colour and all of the collage elements (textured papers) something I have never ever done before. It felt quite liberating but I hope it is not something I will have to do often. Hours of work flowed down the garden path along with any hope of just a bit of tweaking.You can see from the images below the extent to which the original painting had disappeared.

This morning on entering the studio I was not sure what the surface might be like to restart on given it once had glued on papers but it was fine and suited the earthy, scruffy texture of the artichokes.
You may well have liked the first painting but of course there is no turning back just an opportunity to construct another original. If only we could have the best bits in the one watercolour but that just is not reality.

We learn more from our challenging paintings and the opportunity to think of a fix than we do from those that just happen beautifully.

Here are my steps:
On a full sheet of Saunders Waterford 425gsm Rough

Adding Collage - rice paper, Japanese papers for texture before painting

Creating a background leaving white for some main artichoke globes
Just about finished - should have looked at it for longer before the next step

Artichokes in Mixed Media
Finished - or so I thought

After its radical Garden Hose Wash Off

Adding new colour and changing the composition slightly
No collage added this time

A Rich Source
Watercolour 76cm x 56cm