Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Amazing light in Rome

It is amazing what wonderful sunlight can do to your mood. I really loved the light in this market square, Campo de' Fiori in Rome. There were lovely shadows in the market place from the stalls and the people. I can still imagine just sitting down for lunch or a coffee.

Sunlight and shadows, Campo de'Fiori 

I managed to finish it just in time for open studios. It was much admired!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Open studio final update

Thanks to everyone who visited my open studios during May. The last day was very busy! I had lovely comments in my visitors book, the demonstrations were very popular.

I have included more stages of the painting I started at the beginning of the open studio - see below. Will post the final version in my blog when it is finished.

Painting after first weekend

Friday 15th May

Saturday 16th May

Sunday 17th May

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Open studios update and photos

Thanks to all the visitors who came to visit me over the first weekend. I have been delighted by the lovely comments about my artwork and also about what people learned behind the scenes. I am open for a further weekend on Friday 15th, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th, 11am-5pm. I am also happy to open at any time by appointment in May.

I have included a few photos of the studio and paintings on walls for those who are not able to visit.

As part of the open studio I have started a new large painting, below are some photos of the progress at different stages. I will also be demonstrating my paper preparation techniques as detailed in a previous blog entry.

Large canvas with sienna ground
First stage sketch to get an idea of composition
First colours on canvas

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Open Studio - 2nd-4th May 11am-5pm

Only 2 days to go now before my studio is open. See the directory details for times and directions at

I will be demonstrating some of the mediums I use such as painting canvas's in acrylic, demonstrating how I prepare paper for life drawing and also painting watercolour sketches.

I have included some photos below of the stages of a painting I am currently working on. It was a warm day with people browsing the art stalls along the river in Rome. The dappled sunlight through the plane trees was wonderful. The painting is almost finished so come and see it in my studio.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

New Venice watercolours

Only 4 days to go to open studios and today I am looking through my sketches of Venice to mount a few of them. My favourite are those of gondolas on the Grand Canal. I can picture the gondolas bobbing up and down and the postures of the gondoliers as they delicately steer their boats. You need to have incredible strength .. I am sure it is not as easy as it looks. Below are a few of my recent favourites:-

These watercolours are done with Schmincke pan watercolours and a large squirrel brush for either washing or finer marks. I use a sepia crayon to capture a few key lines. I always need to remind myself to keep it simple. Sometimes less is more in these small sketches.

If you want to learn more about my watercolour painting, come along to my open studio in May or email to visit by appointment.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

New cards for Open Studios 2015

I have been packaging up my new cards which are prints of my latest Rome paintings. I'm pleased with the quality, they bring back happy memories of Rome. See photos below, they will be available to buy at my Open Studio in May.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Open studios in May

This year I am taking part in the West Berkshire and North Hampshire open studios in May. The brochures are now available (I have a few copies or you can get them from various venues in Newbury). All the details are also on the website

I also have my open studio invites which I will be distributing after Easter. I hope you like the image.

Open studios invite (front)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Venice - Canal with the yellow poles

Venice is such an amazing place to visit. This painting brings back so many happy memories of my wanderings in Venice with camera and sketch book. Here are some of the notes I made and below the resulting painting -
  • large yellow poles - tall and almost imposing - much bigger than I expected them to be 
  • narrow side canal - buildings crowding in - different shapes of windows
  • wonderful small bridge in the distance, people gazing over
  • gondolier making its way gently along
  • light on the water, lightly swirling, reflections of the yellow poles
  • time stood still

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Connecting with my painting

It is funny how comments stick in your mind but in particular my tutor Mitch Waite always talked about connecting with the subject of the painting. I was once really struggling with a painting and he sat me down on a chair for 10 minutes and told me to really look and feel the painting. It is amazing what a difference this makes - if I am struggling with something I often follow this advice.

I have learnt that a painting is a whole, it has to all work together as one, it is important to work all the parts to maintain the vigour and excitement.

I am lucky that I am able to capture an image in my mind and hold it there - the feeling of light, colours bouncing around and just something that lifts what I see. Not sure if I am making sense - but it basically boils down to painting what you feel.

I have just finished this painting which illustrates the point. I was walking through Trastevere in Rome with my daughter and we suddenly saw this scene with the wonderful light. I was so excited I had to stop and take photos - I could feel the warmth of the sun, the dappled light through the trees, the halos of light on the people, reflected light on the buildings and on the ground, wonderful dancing light on the cobbles, the gentle hum of people relaxing in the café - amazing. Then each time I have taken those feelings in my mind when I have painted. I am pleased with the result see below.

Afternoon light on the cobbled streets, Rome

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Preparing paper for drawing

I like to draw on paper which has already been prepared particularly for life drawing. I also use it for many simple line drawings. The reason behind doing this, is that I like to put some energy and movement into the paper first. This seems to aid me when I am then actually drawing using charcoal or pastels on top.

Pastel on prepared paper

To start I use gesso or match pots of old emulsion paint. You can use watered down acrylic paint. It is not an exact science! I use a large brush and often a 1" normal emulsion brush. You could also use a scraper for a flatter feel. For me it is important to put the paint on in rounded strokes.

I like to use newspaper ink and text using a reverse print method. I place the newspaper in wet paint and then remove it after a short time period. I find my best results are when only a small part of the ink is in the paint. Sometimes there can be more newspaper left behind. Another important point is not to leave any lines or edges - I tend to rip the paper edges first. Also I tend to put the paper on a diagonal or upside down so that the newspaper is not too obvious.

I have included some photos of the different steps with comments:-

Apply paint with a big brush. Put movement in.

I like to play music while I work, it is quite therapeutic especially as there is no pressure on the result! 

Put a piece of ripped paper on the page.

How long to leave the paper requires some experimentation. Typically 30 seconds to a minute but could be longer depending on paint consistency.

Pull off the paper before too much has stuck on.

Here there is a bit too much paper left

Another example, you can see the ink in the brush marks.

A piece of paper ready for work.

You may find you need to flatten the paper afterwards. I use 200g drawing paper, the thicker the better.

Have a go and experiment. If you need further information drop me an email.

Here's the pastel drawing I finished off at life drawing class.

Golden backed nude

To keep it simple, you can just do the painting (stage 1) without newspaper as it can provide a wonderful feel for a charcoal life drawing on top. See example below.