Tag Archives: watercolour

Dogs as Artist’s Models

Soon it will be time for Crufts again!  Just in case you don’t know it is the ‘World’s Largest Dog Show’ and it is to be held from 9th – 12th March at the NEC in Birmingham.  We used to breed Cocker and Field Spaniels, showing them regularly and Crufts was an important part of the year.  We never did reach the heights, but our black field spaniel ‘Glenaubrey Black Shadow’ did achieve Best Puppy in Breed in 1985.

There never been a time since then that we have been without dogs, although not always spaniels.  Notably the Basset Hounds with so much character.  They live on in memories only so I just had to paint one.  This is Jeeves :-

Jeeves

Jeeves

 

Boxer

Boxer to remind me of the breed I grew up with

Labrador a commission painting

This is a painting I have just finished of Scoobie, a blue roan cocker spaniel, with a lovely personality and impeccable temperament.  Sometimes I think it is easier to paint your own dogs as you know their character and can paint that in.  Certainly you are filled with memories as you work.

Scoobie

I really enjoy painting dogs, but sometimes they are difficult to photograph.  If it is your own dog they want to come and see what you are doing and have some fuss rather than sit still, but someone else’s dog can be even more problematic.  Some will only sit when their owner tells them and then keep looking at them for reassurance all the time.  It can all get very exciting and mayhem can ensue with great hilarity. It’s certainly not dull though!

 

 

 

Great Tit

My RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Count

I have been getting ready for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch for several weeks now.  I always like to feed the birds in the garden in the winter, mainly to help them, you understand, but it is wonderful to be able to watch them so closely.  As the Birdwatch date approaches I find myself watching that bit closer and finding tastier morsels to put out in the hope of being able to record something unusual.

This last week I have been fortunate to see a female siskin and two bramblings along with the usual visitors.  What excitement!  However I think it must have been the low temperatures we were experiencing then, because come Birdwatch time and higher temperatures there was no sign of them. Do they know we are trying to count them do you think?  Well that’s just how it is!

Here is just a selection of the birds I see in my garden:-

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Great Tit

Great Tit

Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tit

Coal Tits on a Cherry Tree

Coal Tits on a Cherry Tree

My aim is eventually to have a go at painting all my local birds.  There’s a long way to go but the research will be enjoyable!

 

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

 

Oh what a beautiful bird is the peregrine falcon.  It is the fastest of our native falcons and can reach 120 mph when hunting.  During the last century numbers in this country fell to around 400 breeding pairs, thought to be caused by persistent pesticides.  Thankfully this trend has reversed and there are now around 1,500 breeding pairs.

One success began in 2011 when peregrines began to nest on Norwich Cathedral.  A platform had been put up by the Hawk and Owl Trust after peregrines had been sighted in 2009 and 2010.  In the wild peregrines nest in mountains and cliff ledges, so the Cathedral spire was thought to be ideal.  This proved to be the case and the public can now view them at a watchpoint in the Cathedral Close. http://upp.hawkandowl.org/

My peregrine watercolour was conceived whilst looking at the pictures of the Norwich peregrines.  I will be taking him and others to the Art and Craft Exhibiton at Wymondham Arts Centre in Norfolk, UK at the end of this month.

 

 

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

I painted this in memory of a lovely lady I used to garden for.  She adored her garden and one of her favourite plants was the blue hydrangea.  She would grow them in very large half barrels in special acid compost.  In the part of Norfolk where I live the soil is alkaline and the hydrangeas grow in various shades of pink.

It is a fact of human nature that we always seem to cherish the rare or unusual.  I am sure those who garden on acid soil would love to grow  the pink hydrangeas.

The painting took me quite a while as it was important to show all the different shades of the warm lilac blue in the many bracts.  The flower itself is insignificant, with the modified bracts holding all the colour.  As the whole is essentially a ball shape (hence the name mophead hydrangea) the shading had to show this whilst not being too dark as to lose the light airy feeling.

I have chosen to paint in a botanical style, but a looser style would also work – they are so spectacular.  It makes you feel good just to look at them.

 

       “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realising one’s sensations”

Paul Cezanne

Swallow

Summer Visitors

As I write we have less than two weeks left of summer here in the northern hemisphere.  Autumn officially begins on 22nd September this year and you can already feel the beginnings of change.  The light is starting to mellow from the harsher sunlight of summer and the foliage on some trees is starting to change.

We count ourselves very lucky to have a pair of swifts come every year to raise a brood under our roof edge, but they have long since left to spend their winter in Africa.  Their arrival in the Spring is awaited with great anticipation – will they make it this year?  It is such a relief when they finally arrive and a joy to see them swooping and screaming through the air on summer evenings.

Swallows no longer seem to be attracted to our part of the village but I could not resist painting one after having seen several in the air round me as I worked one day.

They are still around but it is a sign that summer is finally over when they begin to congregate on the telegraph wires in preparation for their long flight south.

 

Show your artwork

I have not posted for a while ~ life as they say got in the way.  I have been very busy getting ready for an art exhibition at a local gallery and a makers’ market at a nearby town.  It is not so much the amount of work involved that has stopped me blogging, but the fact that these two things seem to have taken over my brain.  There is so much to plan that I find myself thinking of ideas when I should be doing other things. Happily planning is now almost complete ready for the two events next weekend.

The art exhibition is at a beautiful little gallery in Watton, Norfolk called the Dragonfly Gallery where the welcome is warm and the vibes are inspiring.  The exhibition is called ‘Spring is in the Air’ and is mixed media.  There are 16 East Anglian artists taking part.  These are the four watercolours I will be showing:

Tulip

Tulip

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

Crocus

Crocus

Apple Blossom Time

Apple Blossom Time

They are all in simple off-white 10 x 8 frames and I am hoping they will make a nice colourful display together.

The Makers’ Market in Fakenham, Norfolk has taken a lot more planning as I decided to virtually redesign my whole stall.

Fakenham Makers' Market

Fakenham Makers’ Market

It is to be next weekend so I will save that information for another time.  I would love to hear your experiences of craft markets!

The Colours of Advertising

I have to admit to being disappointed!

Trusting to the pictures in advertising, I have bought items and they have not come up to expectation!  Yes I know that is very naive, but that’s how it is.

The thing is that now I have been painting flowers for quite a while, I have begun to look at plant purchases which inspire me to paint them.  So I look at the pictures on the packet (for bulbs, tubers, seeds etc) or on the label (plants).  Seems simple enough, but no!  As I say, I have been disappointed.

It all began last year when I  purchased morning glory (ipomoea) seeds and looked forward to that rich blue.  The flowers when they came were, to put it politely, insipid.  My Viola sororia ‘Speckles’ which looked lovely on the label – white petals liberally sprinkled with violet dots, was actually sporadically sprinkled with pale lilac dots, which could not be seen from a distance.

At Christmas I bought myself an amaryllis which, according to the packet, was white with red stripes.  I watched it sprout, bud and grow with mounting anticipation, paper and paints at the ready until the day it opened.  Cream with peach stripes which, whilst lovely in its own right, was not what I was expecting and the desire to paint it withered.

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

Maybe from the seller’s point of view more sales are made from pictures with brighter colours, but it is …well…….disappointing.

I have finished my watercolour painting of an Himalayan Blue Poppy (Mecanopsis betonicifolia).   I had to use artistic licence here as the plant in my garden is distinctly pinkish.  Not the fault of the advertisers this time as it is probably due to my soil being quite limey, whereas these beautiful poppies prefer it more acidic.

Himalayan Blue Poppy

 

In the future I think I will just have to keep an open mind when looking at advertising material!

 

A Rose for Valentine’s Day

Last summer while working in a local garden I noticed a beautiful rose that made me just want to drop everything and paint it.  The lady who owned it very kindly let me photograph it and now here it is.  Usually when I paint I get to a point where I think it looks awful and it takes a leap of faith to keep going. This time however that did not happen and I enjoyed painting it from start to finish.  That has honestly never happened before!  I mostly painted it wet on wet and I was so enamoured with the changing colours that it kept me going.

I also decided to photograph my work in stages and I found this really helpful to see how the painting was progressing.

I actually took twelve photos but there was little difference to see between some of them.  Unfortunately my photography skills are somewhat limited.

A very kind lady at my art group said you could almost smell the rose!  Music to my ears!  Perhaps I should print the cards on scented paper!

The finished card all ready for Valentine's Day

The finished card all ready for Valentine’s Day

 

 

Time to Stand and Stare

I read Katherine Tyrell’s blog today on the her ’10 golden rules for every busy artist’ and it got me thinking.  We all struggle to allow ourselves time to do what we want, when there is so much that needs doing.  However I do think there is a balance.  The things that need doing are so much easier when personal satisfaction has been achieved by doing the things we want to do!
On my personal list I would put – allow myself time to think or rather let my mind wander.  That is when I find I am at my most creative or inspired.  We have so much “noise” and “traffic” from computers, radios and televisions going on in our heads now that original thought is sometimes difficult to grasp.  I have a picture in my mind of Mel Gibson in the film ‘What women want’ when all the thoughts of women passing by are entering his brain.  He looks as if his brain is about to explode.  I think we all feel like that sometimes…so….. 
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.               Wiliam Henry Davies
This is a very well cited poem, but nevertheless relevant.  I often recite it to myself, but rarely do it.
Changing the subject I have at last opened a shop on Etsy.  I have had it in mind for a while now but there is quite a lot of new ‘learning’ to do to understand the system.  At present I have only two items in my shop, but hope to increase as I get better at photographing etc.  It is all taking an inordinate amount of time at the moment.  Please have a look if you have time.  I would also really appreciate any  comments you might have.
And finally, a picture to leave you with of pink phlox growing in my garden…..
 

Phlox

 

Think Pink!

I think I have said before that I always seem to favour pinks and blues when choosing flower subjects to paint.  Well this week it has all come to a head.  I often have two or three paintings on the go at any given time, usually at different stages.  However, at the moment I am finishing off the details on three paintings – all pink.  There is a lovely pink hollyhock which I have been working on for a while, a pink phlox which just begged to be painted and my pink rhododendron.

Hollyhocks in my garden

Hollyhocks in my garden

Original rhododendron

Original rhododendron

Amended rhodendron

Amended rhodendron

If you read my last blog you will remember I was not happy with one dominant leaf and have been trying to lessen the effect by adding another leaf.  I don’t know if it has worked, because all I can see when I look at it is that one leaf!  I would really welcome your comments.

Why though, am I inspired to paint pinks and blues – is it simply that I like those two colours?  A little research tells me that pink is a compassionate and nurturing colour, basically female and that blue is a safe colour implying honesty and dependability ( boring do you think?)  However when you mix the two colours you get lilac which I have taken to wearing a lot. Apparently, this means that I need to create order and perfection – perhaps a good trait for a botanical artist!  www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com

OR…  maybe there’s just more pink and blue flowers our there in the UK.