Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Gamekeeper's Cottage

Finally finished, I think.  Time to get it mounted and framed in the New Year, ready for its new owner.

Indian ink, gouache and watercolour - approx 11" x 7"

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Greetings

I must have produced about 25 of the Christmas Rose cards, some were printed with white acrylic and some with Daler Rowney interference "shimmering green"- the latter being very effective on the black paper.  Each was individually coloured with acrylic inks and coloured pencil so there was a certain amount of variation in the final results.

A few of my cards in progress

I also made a few of the "Madonna and Child" cards - these were printed in white acrylic on a blue painted background, then pasted onto white card which had been splattered with silver ink.  I didn't think these were as effective as the Christmas Rose image so I didn't print any more after the initial trial run.

"Madonna and Child"

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Dyrham Park

We chose a good day to visit Dyrham Park, near Bath, this week - sunny and not too cold.  I managed a quick pencil sketch of the cascade and ornamental pond, adding watercolour marker back at home.

Pencil, pen and watercolour marker - 5" x 4"

The park is home to about 180 fallow deer.  We took an interesting guided walk through the herd with an opportunity to take some close-up photos of the bucks (the does and juveniles being a little more wary in our presence).  After my journal entry for the day, there wasn't a lot of room left for my deer sketch!

Watercolour, pen and watercolour pencil - from my photographic reference

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Ink resist progress

I have managed to get a bit further with my latest "ink resist" painting (started here).

The white gouache resist has been completed
Once the gouache is completely dry, Indian ink is brushed over the image

The Indian ink has now been washed off

The ink was washed off under running water and the paper stretched onto a board, awaiting the final washes of watercolour to bring it to life.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Bookbinding workshop

Last week I attended a bookbinding workshop tutored by Josie Brown.  Josie is a calligrapher and she also makes delightful artist's books.

The structure we were making was a Japanese butterfly bound book, this involved sewing the sections with four needles - supposed to be really simple, but it was also quite easy to get in a tangle until you got the hang of it!  We used various weights of drawing and watercolour paper, with the binding allowing the book to open quite flat - ideal for use as a sketchbook. The cover was an uncomplicated folded wrapper into which the end papers of the book were slotted.

The sewn book block to which I added painted end papers

The folded cover
The end papers in place

I decorated the cover with a thin strip of salvaged end paper

Josie also showed us how to make a slipcase.  We didn't have enough time to make this on the day, but came away with an instruction sheet for later use.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Paste grain papers

Another diversion - it is a while since I attempted some paste grain papers, but with some leftover wallpaper paste and some "hand-me-down" craft acrylics, decided I could spend a couple of hours playing with materials.

I mixed acrylic paint with the paste and used a small sponge paint roller to apply it to an A3 sheet of 100 gsm copier paper.  The paste stays wet long enough to impress or drag patterns into the surface.  On this occasion I used a plastic fork, a spatula, a silicon brush and a bottle cork.  The papers can be used in bookbinding, collage, etc. - the surface will smudge if it gets too moist when using glue, so I usually seal it with an acrylic medium.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Another ink and gouache resist

Taking a break from bookmarks and Christmas card production, I have started another small ink and gouache resist painting.

This little sketch was done after a wander round the forest paths on the Longleat estate in Wiltshire some 5 years ago.  I call it The Gamekeeper's Cottage - I am not sure if that is correct, but there seemed to be dozens of pheasants strutting around in the vicinity.

Pen and wash - approx 4" x 3"
Pencil and watercolour under-wash - 10" x 6.5"

Part way through adding white gouache
I can already see that I will have to reinforce some areas of gouache to ensure the subsequent Indian ink wash doesn't dirty the areas I need to keep the lightest.

(See the final image here.)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Northern Lights

Our local art group challenge this month was the create a travel poster illustration in the style of those of the 1930s or 1940s.

My effort was inspired by a winter trip to Norway some years ago - my reference was a photo taken on our visit to North Cape on the Norwegian island of Mageroya.  Later, on our journey south, we witnessed the Aurora Borealis, so I was keen to include that phenomenon to highlight the sculpture on the headland.

The effect of the Northern Lights was achieved by dry-brushing iridescent green and blue acrylic through a mask, then adding touches of metallic wax crayon once it had dried.  Obviously, the appearance changes according to the surrounding light conditions, so it is not easy to photograph.

North Cape - Acrylic and mixed media - 6.5" x 8"

North Cape (detail) photographed in artificial light

Some time ago I attempted to capture a similar scene in watercolour.

Northern Lights - watercolour

Monday, 14 November 2016

Lino prints

The bookmark project is progressing well - I have been painting backgrounds, printing, cutting and collaging.  To date, I am a third of the way to the target of 100.  As these will not be released until September 2017, I suppose further progress pictures will have to wait until then!

Meanwhile, I have been trialling a couple of prints for my personal Christmas cards this year.  I will probably try out different printing or background colours before I decide on the final format. The Christmas rose on the black paper has already had some hand-colouring added.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Sketch outing

For our November sketch outing we met in the comfort and warmth of the Central Library cafe.  We had been asked not to sketch individual library visitors so we dispersed to the upper floors and made the most of the internal architecture of the building or views from the windows.  My effort was of the Town Hall clock tower - a bit wonky as I was straining to look up from my viewpoint (that's my excuse, anyway!).

Sanguine Pitt artist pen and W&N Burnt Sienna watercolour marker

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Handmade books and cards

I really enjoy spending an evening randomly painting and printing sheets of paper to use for folded books and special occasion cards.  Things can get quite messy and sometimes an unpromising start can turn out to be really effective.  These are some of the results of my past efforts.

Outside front - folded size 3.5" x 5.5"

This is made from one sheet of paper - no glue or stitching needed - but both sides of the paper are painted differently to highlight the folded nature of the book.  (The greetings and floral motif on cream paper were printed on the computer and added separately.)

Handmade card and envelope - approx. 4.5" square

Origami box with paper band (approx. 4" square)
This was difficult to fold neatly, I should have used a much thinner paper.  Again, the paper was painted on both sides in toning colours.  It opens up like a little box to reveal a separate folded message inside (unfortunately I forgot to photograph that bit before I put it in the post!).

Folded card with paper buttons (outside)

Similar to the blue one above, but with paper flower insert

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Lino print project

Another project in the melting pot - I have agreed to make an edition of 100 items for the "Bookmarks XV Infiltrating the Library System".  Fortunately, I have until June 2017 to finish these.  I plan to use 140 lb hot pressed watercolour paper, with an abstract painted background, over-printed in acrylic with a simple lino cut design.

This is actually Softcut rather than lino, I find it is easier to work with and clean up afterwards.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Autumn colour

On a reasonably fine day last week, we paid another visit to Westonbirt Arboretum to catch the autumn colour.  Just in time, I think,  before too much rain and wind wreaks havoc.

Old English "leaf peepers"

Arboretum cottage

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


The challenge at our monthly art workshop yesterday was to make an abstract composition.  Quite a few of us were unfamiliar with this concept, but we were given a brief explanation and shown some examples of other artists' work to get us started.  It certainly made a change from our usual subject matter and, judging from the quiet concentration for a couple of hours, we all entered into the spirit of exploration.

My effort was on black paper, using Caran d'Ache Neo-pastels, gouache and some coloured pencil.  I quite liked the effect of the gouache over the waxy pastels - another technique which could come in useful in mixed media paintings.

11" x 16"

Monday, 17 October 2016

Japanese Anemones

My second attempt....  When I painted my watercolour "In the Pink", I started off with two separate drawings on Arches cold pressed paper, but I abandoned the looser version as I felt the background was too strong.  However, given more time, I thought it could be reworked and this is how it has turned out.  I'm much happier with it now, but will mull over it for a couple of days to see whether I should add anything more.

Japanese Anemones - watercolour - approx. 8" x 8"

Monday, 10 October 2016


This is the collage which I was working on earlier last month.  The bulk of this is acrylic printed tissue paper.

"Jester" - collage approx 6" x 8"

Friday, 7 October 2016

Derwent Drawing pencils

Another little foray into drawing materials.

I recently came across some videos about drawing materials by Judith Logan and liked the effects she achieves in her work. A trip to the art shop this week had me picking up a handful of Derwent Drawing pencils to see how they would work for me.

I tried them out in my watercolour Moleskine, on a whiter, smooth drawing paper and on black paper (a Frisk Black Pad).  I also tested them over light washes of watercolour and gouache.  I believe there are only about 24 colours available and they all seem to be fairly muted.  Overall, I preferred them on the black paper, but on my little flower sketch I attempted to brighten it up a bit with a couple of Stabilo Softcolour pencils and hatched in the background with a silver metallic pencil.

Some further experiments needed, I think.  Has anyone else used these successfully?

Monday, 3 October 2016

Roses complete

This is the finalised rose painting.  I opted to leave the background untouched - I didn't want to risk messing it up in the final stages.

Summer Fragrance - watercolour - approx 8" square

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Sketch outing

On Saturday I joined the newly formed Swindon urban sketching group at Coate Water Country Park.  Despite really heavy rain to begin with, nine brave souls turned up and we managed to squeeze ourselves into a sheltered seating area overlooking the lake and it's iconic 1930's diving board.  True to our fickle British weather, we ended our session with sun and blue skies.

I managed a couple of very rough sketches whilst trying to keep my hands warm.

The Diving Board - pen and wash

Canoes in the distance - pen and wash

Friday, 30 September 2016

"In the Pink"

"In the Pink" - watercolour approx. 8" square

This is one of the pictures I have managed to get finished and framed, ready for the exhibition which starts this Sunday.

Image - "Terminus" - artist Lloyd Washington

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Rose in progress

I've made a start on the watercolour roses, using a methodical petal by petal approach. The problem with working this way is that the end result might look a bit disjointed. Let's hope I can complete it without any disasters - I would hate to have to start again at this late stage.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Chaos in the studio

Still trying to get work completed for the October exhibition.  I decided to start two paintings of the Japanese anemones - one to be fairly loose, the other more controlled, my reasoning being that I'd have two chances at getting one worth framing.  I wasn't happy with my background attempt on the loose one (pictured below), although I may try and solve that at a later date.

Japanese Anemone - temporarily abandoned!
There is also a collage "simmering" on the sidelines - it is almost there, I just need to bring all the elements together.

Collage bits and pieces

..... and to add to the chaos, I have started another watercolour floral from this rose sketch.

Roses - pencil sketch

At least I will have three titles to add to my entry form - with a few days grace to finish the pictures to fit!