Thursday, 14 December 2017

Seasons Greetings

Each year I create a painting especially for Christmas and I use the original work to print cards for my family and friends. This year one of my favourite subjects has been the little fairy penguin and I have created several original watercolours. It seemed apt to have a Christmas version too so here is

 "We Three Kings"

Wishing all my blogging and follower friends 
a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas time
best regards

Monday, 20 November 2017

A Great Image

Taking a good reference image makes painting easier but having a great image offers so much more.
When the composition has that something special you know it will come out to be painted more than once.
Last year whilst on holiday in Tuscany my husband took some images of colourful umbrellas and a powerful composition has waited for me to paint it.
After attending a Paul Jackson workshop last month where I was reintroduced to the patience of painting in many many layers I knew this method would be great for the umbrellas.
I have now used this image twice in one month, changing the colours, changing the paper size etc. I know this image will provide several more options each creating a unique work.

Come Rain or Shine
56cm x 38cm
Pretty much the colours and design of the original reference

Let it Rain
38cm x 38cm
A square format and a limited palette

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Black and White

Yesterday was week 4 for students in my 6 week foundation course and our main focus was painting black and white. I show how to mix interesting blacks on the paper rather than a flat mix in the palette and of course how we don't use white but retain the clean white of the paper for our whites.
Our Australian Magpie is a perfect subject for black and white. After class I added some colour for a simple background.
At the end of our morning class there was time for a quick 30 minute demo. With just three little pencil marks for the eyes and placement of the nostril this powerful Jaguar started to magically race towards me on the paper.  I was able to show how to have black spots and marks look part of the fur by painting them first and then adding orange and grey colours on top. This ensures some of them fuse a bit and a more natural look is achieved.
This demo was one of those magic moments in the studio, it seemed little effort but its results like this that shows just how magical this medium is. It doesn't always have to take days to paint but of course you have to know when to stop. Lucky for me my 30 minutes were up.

Unframed size 38cm x 28.5cm
Saunders Waterford 425gsm Hot Press Paper

100 km/h
Unframed size 56cm x 38cm
Saunders Waterford  300gsm Cold Press Paper

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

When the Sun Shines

When the Sun Shines
Unframed size 56cm x 43cm

Who doesn't feel good when the sun shines. Today I painted roses using the very first bloom to appear in our garden. This particular bush rose had been out shadowed in the garden by a weeping tree and some lavender so at the start of winter my husband moved it to an open position in the rose bed. How happy it must have been to get some sun as it showed the rest of the roses how beautiful it can be as soon as the Spring sun arrived.
I enjoyed continuing experimenting with my new colours from Da Vinci and beside the yellows I have already tried this painting included Fire Ball and Kathmandu Alizarin - such exciting pigments and such fantastic names.

Friday, 29 September 2017


I have just returned from a three break away touring country Victoria and the start of spring has really been a bit of a lingering winter. We saw snow on the mountain peaks but also enjoyed the hints of spring. The area we visited is perfect for magnificent Camellia and Magnolia and I took so many images. The first blooms to greet us however were thousands of daffodils everywhere.

As this is only my second day back in my studio and I'm still finding my rhythm I was also happy to  experiment with some new colours that had arrived from the USA whilst I was away.

The new colours are from Da Vinci - Paul Jackson Signature colours. I am liking how vibrant they are. I also used a new Green Gold purchase from Daniel Smith. This is so different to the Winsor and Newton Green Gold and again I love its vibrancy.

Great colours for Daffodils

Friday, 22 September 2017

Painting Giveaway

Gosh it has been far too long since I blogged. I have had such a busy art schedule this year that sometimes something has got to give and it looks like it has been my blog.
I am doing a thank you of supporting my art journey giveaway draw on October 10th randomly drawn from the email list of subscribers to my newsletter. I write one each month and as it is linked to my website its easy to include all my latest works. It's not too late to signup if you want the chance to win an original watercolour, unmatted, posted free anywhere in the world.
I have chosen my Kookaburra as the prize painting. He is in a serious mood waiting to see where in the world he will fly off to.
I Can be Serious
38cm x 28.5cm unmatted

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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Title Matters to Me

I am in a "paint blooms"phase. Flowers are beautiful subjects, so varied and allows me to play with lots of colour variety.
The Iris is one flower I have hardly painted so when seeing images of a dark skirted iris I was attracted to its beautiful colours and its fantastic name. For me the painting title is important as it runs through my head right through the painting process and really helps me connect with my chosen subject and how I wish to create my work from it. I normally have the titled locked in right from the first brush stroke.This one was simple as the Iris name was perfect "Romantic Evening".

My Process: 
Day 1

  • Once inspired by my subject I like to use several reference images to give me shape and colour. I choose some colours and do a little combination colour test strip.
  • After working out a pleasing composition I started with using light pencil marks to show me where to leave some untouched paper for the light blooms. 
  • A background wash is done first, dropping in varied colours from my chosen palette of Prussian Blue, Transparent Orange, Winsor Red Deep, Green Gold, Winsor Violet, Opera Rose and Lavender
  • Adding buds and starting the flowers


Day 2

  • Working between the blooms and adding more colour to my now dry background

Day 3

This painting was completed over three days - not something I usually have the patience for but for this work it was required as I took my time over the decisions of each step. When I left it on my easel overnight at the end of day 2 I had signed it which meant I considered it finished. However with fresh eyes this morning and an hours tweaking it's done

Romantic Evenings
on Saunders Waterford 425gsm Cold Press Paper
Unframed size 56cm x 38cm

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Many Decisions

Today some of my former students returned for a"brush up skills" morning class. I was happy to talk and demo any subject they chose but it was left to me to frame the morning session.
I bought a few stems of sunflowers over the weekend knowing they would be a fantastic subject.
They provided the opportunity to reinforce mixing greens, finding shades of yellow, use a variety of texture and colour for those fabulous interesting centres sunflowers have.
The session was all about creating a work that required each choosing their own composition, either painting what they saw in the vase( though I encouraged them to think beyond what they saw), choose some blooms, use the reference photos and the real flowers as their starting point but think beyond what they saw and I wanted to emphasise how important it was to make all the important decisions about your painting before you you apply that first brush stroke on that clean piece of paper.

1.Colour selection first by mixing swatches. Many students only had two yellows, two blues and burnt sienna so I showed them how much variety they could still achieve for their yellows and greens

2.Think of your composition, will it be portrait, landscape or square forma. What shall I use from what I am seeing.

3. Use a yellow watercolour pencil if doing any drawing. This is good when painting yellow as graphite does not cover with yellow paint or it makes yellow murky. Not such a problem for tough sunflowers but would not be good for delicate blooms.

4. Paint the painting as a whole not concentrate on one area too much but build up colour around the whole painting.

The most asked question in any class I have given is do I paint the subject or the background first?
It is best to work back and forth between the subject and the background but I must admit I sometimes do work the background a fair bit before starting on the subject.
If I know I can paint a subject easily but I am making the background up I will do the background first and if I like it I will paint the subject. If you paint the subject first and its beautiful but you don't know what to do with the rest of the painting there is a fright factor of what if I ruin it?.
After many paintings you find what works best for you and with experience you do whatever feels right that day.

I did not have time during class to paint a new work beside the demo studies but I took a sunflower work from a year or so back and  tweaked it.
There is still more decision making after the paint is dry and that is whether to keep it as is or to crop for a stronger work either because of a part you don't like or to change up the dynamics.

Reference material and colour studies

Sun Tough
Original size 56cm x 43cm

Cropped Version 1

Cropped Version 2

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Winter Morning

I see that on the other side of the world they are having some very warm temperatures but here in South Australia we are a couple of weeks into Winter. We are having unusually dry conditions but with very cold starts to the day. I take my poodle Rosie for a walk after breakfast, I say walk she doesn't do much of it, mostly it is a sniff a thon. We live on the edge of the Murray river and have a jetty which remains unused as we do not do boating. Rosie has decided though that we need to unlock the gate and walk its length as part of our daily sniff a thon. One quick check and she is satisfied. I took an image on my iphone whilst we were down the bank on the way to the jetty gate and with the feeling of being towered over by the river reeds still fresh in my mind I set to creating this "scape" as soon as our morning ritual was over and studio time began. I am looking forward to including this in an August exhibition.

A Winter Morning

Sunday, 4 June 2017


Finding time to just play is not so easy when exhibition commitments mean studio time is taken up with more serious work so a purchase of new arty stuff I made whilst on holiday interstate back in March has been left mostly untouched.
This weekend however I had playtime so I had fun testing some of my purchases.

These are water soluble graphite blocks by Art Graf
Wet into Wet, drawn lines on dry paper, and used on the side for bigger shapes

I love to play with adding other water media with my watercolours, some work really well first time and others take some getting used to. These tailor shape blocks can be used dry on dry and then have water added or be used like pigment or ink and added to a wet area. This is how I used them in my play. I loved how they took off when they touched the water on my paper.
They can be washed away but will leave a but if a murky residual so they would not suit if a botanical, neat as a pin result was required.
With French Ultra Marine and Burnt Sienna watercolour added

They suited me just fine to create this abstracted work of Pink Magnolia at the end of winter patiently waiting for spring so their bare branches would give way to new lovely green leaves.

When Winter Ends
Watercolour and Graphite
unframed size 56cm x 38cm

Saturday, 6 May 2017


Using new colour combinations for favourite subjects is a way of creating something new and original even if you are using the same reference over and over.
Unframed size 43cm x 32cm
In week 4 of my current class the subject was painting black and white and for the white I gave everyone the same reference photo of a goose. I have painted this as a demo twice before back in 2016 but this time as I was about to start my demo one of my students ask that I use the two interesting colours she spotted on my palette and my thoughts were "maybe" this might work.
Cascade Green and Quinacridone Lilac both by Daniel Smith
I tested the new shade Quinacridone Lilac in a recent blog post here and really liked the colour. It is PR122 which is also sold by Winsor Newton as Quinacridone Magenta.
Together these two shades produce a beautiful soft neutral and I enjoyed creating an original work of my goose and know that I will enjoy using this combination again.

 Same Subject Painted in 2016

Take a Gander

Take Another Gander

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Too Fast

I am so surprised to see that I have not written on my blog since early March. You may think I am not painting or away on holidays but no here I am with so much arty things happening and the time going by all too fast. 
I have had a whirlwind exhibition program since January, am now a month into giving my second watercolour foundation course this year and still wanting to paint every day. With a little mini break away followed by Easter celebrations with family I now have my studio routine back on track.

Black and White in Watercolour:
Yesterday for week 4 for my class the subject was how to paint black and white. I painted my demo with just three colours - Permanent Rose, Burnt Sienna and French Ultra Marine Blue. This little Boston Terrier appeared in less than 40 minutes, seemed too fast, but no fuss just lovely colour fusions happening before our eyes. 
The most asked question in my classes is what should I do with the background. I normally advise that it be considered as a whole with the subject rather than a scary afterthought but here I was in that scenario as this was only meant to demo the subject colour but after falling in love with this little guy I wanted him to be a finished work.  I left it on my easel overnight loving its simplicity but knowing I wanted something for the background but puzzled what it might be. 
This morning I added the simple shapes and the puzzle was complete.

42cm x 32cm

I have changed the cover picture on my blog to my "Lest We Forget" in celebration of it being awarded a merit for a contemporary work by the judges in the Flagstaff Hill Rotary Art Show on Saturday.  Another of my entries - a large abstract "Key to Winning" was purchased by the Onkaparinga Council for its own collection so I have certainly been on a high this week.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Testing the new Daniel Smith Colours

There has been much hype around the new Daniel Smith colours released last month and I resisted adding more tubes to my huge collection but I succumbed to the pressure of having to be sure I'm not missing out on something spectacular.
They arrived a few days ago but sat on my desk until today when I put them to the test.

Paynes Blue Gray PB60, PBk6
Aussie Red Gold PY83, PR101, PV19
Raw Sienna Light PY42
Burnt Sienna Light PR101, PO48
Quinacridone Lilac PR122
Wisteria PW6, PR122
Rose Madder Permanent PR209, PV19, PR202

I use good watercolour paper for my test strips so that when I use a pigment in a work it should react the same as in my testing.

Each strip has 10 rectangles.
7 are used for a value scale so I can see the colour in its full strength, grading right down to the lightest value being just the white of the paper.
I add a waterproof black texture line on rectangle 8 so I can test in a heavy consistency how transparent the pigment is
Dry paint is lifted with a damp brush in rectangle 9 telling me how staining the pigment is
I use the last rectangle to add salt to the damp paint to see what effects it will make.

Conclusion for me:
1. I often find I have the same pigment under a different name by another manufacturer but this   doesn't mean they behave the same when water is added. This time just two had the same pigment numbers as ones I already own.
** Aussie Red Gold PY83,PR101,PV19 same as Australian Red Gold by Art Spectrum
** Quinacridone Lilac PR122 same as Quinacridone Magenta by Winsor & Newton

2. I like how dark the Payne's Blue Gray is when almost straight out of the tube

3. The Burnt Sienna light didn't seem any different to the regular Burnt Sienna I use

4. The Wisteria was thought chalky in consistency seems quite transparent and is  the same pigment as the Quin Lilac but with titanium white added

5. The most appealing colours meaning I will probably use them and not put them in the big box of wait my turn are the Wisteria, Rose Madder Permanent and the Quinacridone Lilac.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Finding Your Way

There is always so many decisions to make before starting a painting and as we all experience when we actually start out some ideas may have to be abandon as the watercolour makes some decisions of its own and its best not to resist but work with it.
This painting started out for me as a way of demonstrating to my class last week how I might use negative painting in the background but after an hour of painting it was left 90% unfinished. Some days later I started on it again making more of those considered decisions as to how to paint basically black and white birds and have them tell a story. I used a very limited palette of French Ultra Marine Blue, Permanent Rose and Burnt Sienna which gave me interesting blacks. Using just these colours in the background enabled the Willy Wagtails to be the stars but kept the whole painting in harmony.  It required more thought as to how I might bring the two birds more together so the decision to add the darker panels was made. Weaving the branches in and out helped with the design. The negative space was enhanced with some old script stamping which helped me find my way to tell the paintings story

You Kept My Letters
56cm x 30cm unframed size

Monday, 20 February 2017

Too Cute

I have been thinking of painting the little fairy penguin for a while but somehow something else jumps the queue and they have had to wait until now.

I'm glad they have been patient as with all my "make me smile" works there is always a story.

We have a small colony of these little cuties not far from where I live and I have seen them just a couple of times in the past few years but I did take some great photos of the ones at our Adelaide Zoo last year. When looking through photos I see them waddling with their feet at different angles and I immediately thought of that saying "with a hop skip and a jump" and then I knew how this would work so well for my painting. One is jumping in the air, one is skipping and the other is hopping.

Am looking forward to seeing this framed and on the studio wall.

A Little Hop, Skip and Jump
Unframed size 56cm x 30cm

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Wine District

Just played and created my latest abstract. I have already framed it and have it on the studio wall as I love its bright colourful look.
Playing with abstracts in watercolour is very time consuming but lots of fun as there is no fixed result in mind. I often find bits of other media to add bringing it to a finished work. This time I used some silver leaf (not real silver), that I purchased whilst in Italy last year and a silver web spray. To ensure its bright longevity I spray a mat spray varnish over those areas.
My solo show where I released my first abstracts finishes this weekend but the fabulous feed back (and sales) I have received gives me confidence that abstracts in watercolour are worth the play.
Try it!

The Wine District
56cm x 38cm on Saunders Waterford Cold Press 425gsm

Framed size 75cm x 57cm

Friday, 27 January 2017

Revisit and Tweak

I am presently painting new work but also revisiting watercolours that are stored away in my file drawer. They are there and not binned because I liked them when finished but for some reason they never made it to a frame. I may not have seen back then that they needed something extra but with a fresh look and more brush mile experience some of these works can be tweaked and made special enough to frame. You have to be prepared to try additional work without fear, knowing that if it doesn't work they will head for the bin but its from the tweaking process that much is learnt. Here are a couple of florals that are now framed ready to show.

A Dozen in Pink

All about the Blossom

The before's

                             Filed away in 2013    
Filed away in 2014

Monday, 23 January 2017

Abstract Play

One Bright Day 
Watercolour Abstract
56cm x 34cm
My solo show is on in my home town of Goolwa and is called Limitless Watercolour and runs until February 12th. The opening was fabulous and I was heartened by the comments about my abstracts created especially for the show. It has given me confidence to continue to play and experiment with them. Of course I am still going to paint my feel good subjects but having nothing but colour and shape when playing with paint makes for a lot of fun. Today with One Bright Day I tried for a more simple approach but of course its always tricky knowing when its done.