Sunday, 21 May 2017

Summer Delight: Lupin in Watercolour

"Summer Delight"
Lupins in Watercolour
Painted in my cottage garden

This week has been really busy and I am delighted to have  worked so hard on my new book. The latest chapter additions are full of inspirational ideas. And simply by writing them I have felt strongly moved to paint. Finally today I had time to sit quietly in my garden and do just that. 

I set up my painting table, outside, by a gorgeous lupin that has burst into flower this week. I will confess that the gardening bug has hit me really hard this year and this is one of the plants that I have been feeding with my own home made nettle feed. The extra care has paid off  because now I have huge, glorious blooms that are irresistible to an artist to pass up the opportunity of painting.

This afternoon, the sun is so strong in this part of my garden that the lupins are bathed in glowing, soft summer light making them even more attractive to me as a subject.

When I first started writing this new book I thought about its' content and would there be enough material to fill it. How I am going to break it to my publishers that all my ideas will not fit into this one new publication I don't know. But the joy for me will be my putting in it the most wonderful demonstrations to follow and my favourite ideas that have had me racing for my own brushes. With the intention of  my books 'readers feeling the same way.

In fact, I can't sit still to type, I have just had another wonderful idea so I am going to paint and see if it works , right now!

Whatever you are doing, I hope you feel as happy as I do.

Happy painting!


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Fighting a Ghost

Foxgloves painted in my cottage garden this afternoon
To be completed

She is there every time I paint a flower and she won't be ignored which at times can be so frustrating. The botanical artist that I used to be will never leave me. She is like a ghost in my soul that keeps making an appearance, always when I least expect her too. 

The gardening bug has hit me and as it wasn't raining ( finally) today I caught up with a few tasks in our cottage garden. The flower borders fall on my shoulders to work on as my husband can be over enthusiastic at removing what he thinks are weeds, when in fact they are seedlings. One year he "over enthusiastically" removed all my fox glove seedlings and I was completely heartbroken. As I love painting them.

But this year the seedlings are safe as I  am caring for them again. But I have to admit, I am getting a little carried away. It started with my seeing nettles and reading about their uses. I remember my Grandfather, years ago when I was a child, making nettle feed to feed his plants. He used mainly natural products with very little bought from a garden centre as gardeners often do today. He collected his own seeds, grew his own plants and created his own fertiliser. So as nettle feed seemed very easy to make I made some and my plants are now looking fantastic.  They do indeed love it.

But I didn't stop there. 

Next, I purchased seed packets and now I have trays of seedlings that will all need planting. I did carefully thin them out and transplant them. They too look fabulous.  But where on earth does this new addiction of  doing everything from scratch leave time for my painting and writing. Especially as I am working on a new book at the moment. 

You may well ask " How does she find the time?"

I don't know!

All I do know is that I wake at the crack of dawn each day to see what the weather is like. If it is fine I spend an hour or two in the garden and from there I bring inspiration and my happy mood into my studio to paint or write. Listening to bird song while I garden really does make me feel so energised and cheerful. 

Yesterday I worked on my new book all day until late in the evening and was so pleased with the chapter I had completed. It read back so beautifully this afternoon.

After gardening today I wandered around my garden taking photographs in sunlight and the first flowering foxglove caught my attention. I knew I had to paint it , there and then. Hence the painting above because I quickly raced to get my art equipment to paint outside . I eagerly began capturing the sunlight on the upper buds of the foxglove plant in my garden. I loved the start of the painting. It was full of energy and life but there came that moment when the rigger brush was in my hand and the ghost of my "artist past" appeared. I had to fight her off  as she beckoned me to consider adding every single dot in every single foxglove bell shape.

I do like the above watercolour study but I have a far more exciting foxglove wash just waiting for me to paint flowers on top of it tomorrow. But when I do paint tomorrow I am hoping the "botanical ghost" of yesteryear doesn't appear and persuade me to add too much detail. She is pretty strong minded that ghost ,and I have a constant battle with her.

I started my art career as a botanical artist and I thought I had left that ghost way behind me . But she seems to have found me again and she won't let me go.

Lets' see who wins tomorrow. The ghost or me!


Friday, 12 May 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons

"Facing The Sun"

I am working so hard on my new book which will be out next year. To create it, I needed to really take time out to think about what is already out there on the market book wise. I  also considered why my past books have become so popular. I am constantly told it is because my directions on how to paint are easy to follow. But I am more importantly told I encourage everyone to believe they can paint and well.  And I do strongly believe this. If you can find the right help and guidance to keep you enthusiastic and focused when learning. This can be very hard if you are living somewhere rural or unable to attend art classes or groups. This is where art books and DVDs are invaluable. Good ones that is, with great instruction. And I want my next publication to be just that. A great inspirational book.

I have found that writing is a part of my soul. As a voice that will not be silenced. Right now I am taking a journey back in time to who taught me, who inspired me the most as I learnt how to paint. At this very moment I am thinking of an art mentor of mine who lived in Dubai. They taught at the same art centre that I taught at when I lived there. They worked in every single medium as I did at that time of my art life. I loved learning from them. They helped me see how unusual use of colour could give me exciting and dramatic effects.  They taught me never to head towards the ordinary and I never have. But that side  of me was already part of my make up. Ever since I was a tiny child I loved working with colour in ways that everyone around me did not. For example I never accepted that certain colours couldn't be worn together and always opted to put two together that I was advised against in my teens. Maybe that is why I dress so quirkily! But I love odd colour combinations in my art. I thrive on them.

This weeks chapter that I am writing in my new book has been so exciting as I  am encouraging readers of my next book to try something new, using new techniques even to me. I have tested them and they work. Breathing life and energy into results. I have never felt so exhilarated when painting. I know I am now leaping into a new stage of my art life and I am not hesitating. I am throwing myself head long towards this new direction. And loving it. I hope you will too when you see my new book next year.


The title of this blog post is " When Life Gives you Lemons" because I am surrounded by a few fabulous friends who are going through really traumatic experiences. Finding the positives in life at times like this is really difficult. But when life gives us lemons we can either make lemonade or aim for a new fruit all together. Mango juice perhaps? Either way, I am sending huge  warm wishes, love and prayers to all my friends who right now need a spirit lift. Life may be throwing you a few obstacles but together we will make sunshine  to follow the rain.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Finding Daisy : West Highland White, Continued

 "Finding Daisy"

An unfinished painting has a voice. It continually calls to you until it is heard when you listen to make the final touches and complete it. Until the painting is finished the voice will not be silenced. Nor will the restlessness in a true artists soul.

This morning I headed for my studio to work on my new book. I have a fabulous new chapter to work on that is really thrilling me. And yet I couldn't ignore the call to finish my painting of Daisy, the West Highland White terrier that I shared on my blog yesterday. Bearing in mind that this painting is merely a study to work from in a later larger creation, it is now looking so intriguing that I am wanting to show Daisy's owner. I hadn't wished to until I painted the real thing. There is a feeling of connection between myself, the little dog and the moment I watched her play in my garden in this study. A connection that may be lost in the real painting, because as time passes my emotions will soften and change as I work on new paintings instead. Paintings that lead me further away from Daisy.

I have now strengthened the detail on the face of my terrier study. You can see I did indeed make the decision not to add the tongue showing. The inquisitive expression of the face seemed more interesting with the mouth closed. I have also hinted at one paw being raised which to me looks cute and hints at action about to happen . As if Daisy could indeed dart away at any second, as she did on the day in real life.

I like the last stage seen below as well. The white of the rear coat worked well so I may go back to this idea for my full large painting.

 Yesterdays closing stage of my study of Daisy.

It is hard to imagine that below is the starting stage, or was, of this little painting. Just a few colour marks for an outline, hints of eyes and a nose and the suggestion of what my subject could be is there. Minus any of the later work involved in the study at the top of this blog post. The whole point of a study exercise is to learn. To learn about form, colour combinations and ideas that may bring a subject to life in a way that is pleasing. Each brushstroke leads me further into loving painting this breed of dog that I love so much.

 Perhaps Daisy needs a soul mate in my next painting with a new model! We will see. 
But for now, I am "Finding Daisy" in watercolour

How my study of Daisy originally started before it grew to the above painting.


Artists Tips for the day

1) Learn to "listen" to what a painting tells you it needs
2) Take a break from a painting overnight, so you can look at it with fresh eyes the next morning to see what it needs.
3) Listen to your heart when it tells you to paint!


Monday, 8 May 2017

Finland Watercolour Workshops August 2017

Watercolour Workshops

Workshop 1.  31st July /1st August 2017
Workshop 2.  3rd/4th  August 2017

I haven't had time to share the news on my blog that I will be holding two watercolour workshops in Finland in August this year.

At the moment there are currently only a few places left so please contact me urgently if you would like to come!

The workshops are aimed at being highly motivational and inspirational. 

You can contact me to be put in touch with the wonderful organiser by my email 


"Daisy Do" West Highland White in Watercolour

 West Highland White in Watercolour

Head study of Daisy
A West Highland White Terrier
No preliminary sketch.

Yesterday friends called around to collect a painting. While they were here their fabulous little West Highland White called "Daisy" raced around our garden. Daisy delighted us all with her happy frolic as she hurtled around, taking in the excitement of new scents in the way that only dogs can. This little lady was so much fun to watch and her enthusiasm for life was infectious.

I couldn't resist starting a small study of Daisy  in watercolour this afternoon, at the end of my serious painting session. This little study will act as a platform for a new larger painting to be created later when I have more free time. I needed to paint the study today to remember the sunshine of yesterday and Daisy's obvious joy. She was such a delightful little bundle of energy. 

Unfortunately for me, no matter how much Daisy raced around our garden she never seemed to tire so gaining a great photograph of her sat or stood still to paint from was absolutely impossible. I did however manage to get one shot just before she darted in another playful direction, daring us all to chase after her.

"Catch me if you can!"
First Stage 

I started my painting by finding the outline of this beautiful little dog. I usually start painting animals by their eyes but the energy of this pup was more important to me. I then added the eyes and nose, and some green grass for Daisy to stand on.

Once I had a good loose background to build on, as a foundation for my painting, I then added detail to the face. Strengthening the eyes, nose and whisker area around the mouth. Having owned dogs with white faces I knew I could fall back on a touch of gold here to brighten my white subject up as a watercolour. My own dogs faces were rarely snow white around the mouth!

 Adding detail to the face

 Close up of face detail

 I then had a decision to make. As an artist I could paint what I saw or change the tail position. Daisy was about to dart away to play so I kept the tail pointing as in my photograph . As if she was about to hurtle into action rather than change the tail into a wagging upright and more "show" dog position. But in the larger painting I may place Daisy in a show dog pose with her tail proudly held high.  Next, I have another decision to make. In my photograph Daisy has her tongue out, hence the blur and space left in my study painting. I can either add the tongue or hint at the under side of a little bit of beard here. I think I prefer the latter idea.

Daisy , study so far.

This is a beautiful study to work a larger painting from. I have gleaned so much information that the larger painting will be a joy to work on. Now I just need the time to create this fabulous painting of a gorgeous little character that I have fallen in love with hook, line and sinker!


Artists Tips for the day

1) If you fall in love with something try to find time to paint even a small study of it while the memory of the moment, mood and colour are still very much alive in your mind.
2) Try painting small studies of new subjects before attempting to paint larger pieces. That way any mistakes can be corrected with the real thing.
3) Learn from small studies. Take what you like into your next painting and simply dismiss colour combinations or ideas that didn't work well.

Most importantly.

Try to paint daily even if it is for ten minutes only!  It is the best way to improve your painting skills.




How do you describe art? 
 Is it the finished creation that appeals to you or the joy in creating? 
However you answer the above questions there is no doubt that how we feel about art is highly personal.  I have always in the past for example preferred to paint a recognisable subject but my heart has also always been drawn to colour as well, rather than the subject itself. If I dismiss the thought of a subject entirely when creating, colour alone and its' application has to be extremely impressive to keep my connection with is happening on paper very much alive. And at the same time the creative colour journey has to be consistently fascinating to my artists soul.

From time to time I break free from my usual painting routine and experiment with colour alone. I believe that a good abstract painting has to hold certain elements to make it a successful piece. And from working continually in colour over the years I am following a direction of what does and what does not work, at least for me. I know what I like when I look at other artists abstract paintings. But when it comes to my own I want excitement, drama and in the piece above a feeling when painting of freedom and incrediblly uplifting mood swings.

Today the weather outside is freezing for the month of May in UK. Hence the use of warm colours in my colourful abstract.  I am also aware that I must work on my new book this week, so I will be strict with the amount of free time I have to experiment in my studio. I always aim for a balance of freedom when painting along with having a goal of achieving at least one new chapter or piece for an exhibition. As I have a solo later this year new work that is different for the show is vital at the moment.

But it is Monday and I needed to start my week on a high. I find that painting with positive colours aiming for attractive abstracts that make my soul sing lifts my mood so quickly that I am raring to paint and work. Even more so than I may have been before the colourful experimental paintings.

Whatever you are doing this week, I hope colour lifts your soul and makes you smile.

Life often needs a boost in energy and our spirits also need that little push from time to time.

How will you lift yours?

Have a great week ahead!