Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Deepest Pain

Sweet Dreams

As a child when I was hurt or upset I would quietly paint or draw. I would escape into my own world to release the pain. I still do.

This morning started like an ordinary day, but I knew it wouldn't be. I had to take our beloved Bearded Collie to the vet for surgery. I have mentioned Bailey so often on my blog and on my workshops. He has been my loyal companion for over thirteen years and I love him unconditionally.

My heart is breaking as I type the news that my  lovable companion is no longer with me. During an operation this morning Cancer was found and the situation was far worse than we expected. We lost our four legged family member and friend, our sweet Bearded Collie this morning.

As in my childhood. I escape via my art. I can't bring my wonderful fluffy pup back to life but I can keep him near me via my brushwork.

My heart is aching so badly.

But I am so grateful for all the years of fun and love we have shared.

Forgive my personal heartfelt blog post.

Sometimes life isn't always perfect.

Dear Bailey, we will miss you with all our hearts. To everyone who loved my beautiful dog,thank you so much for loving him over the years. I am going to miss him terribly.

Goodnight Sweet Friend.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

There! Cat in Watercolour 2016

 Cat in Watercolour

There has been something stirring in my soul for some time now. I have had a feeling that has been unable to contain. I knew I was crossing bridges with my own personal art journey but couldn't and still can't put my finger on what really is happening. All I do know is that ever since I wrote my latest book " Paint Yourself Calm" I haven't felt the same as an artist.

I am calmer when I work. My washes are more exciting. I cannot wait to paint each day and each simple exercise from " Paint Yourself Calm" reconfirms what I know about pigment and how it interacts on paper. I think I needed to slow down. I needed to go back to basics and remember the simplicity of clean fresh pigment hitting water and all the magic that it can produce when left to play at random.

I am so grateful for writing that book. It has changed my art completely.

Like every artist who wishes to grow I want more from my own work. But in all honesty with teaching workshops in UK and abroad , plus exhibitions and writing I haven't had very much time just for me. Time to quietly paint and think about what I want to achieve. I spend so much time helping other artists that I have fallen to the bottom of the list in my attention giving. These last few months especially have seen me encouraging others on their art journeys to take time out and think about what they want to achieve. I needed to take my own advise.

I know I can paint but I also know I can be far better. 

This week I have been playing with small studies and experiments on painting cats. But in my head I saw something beautiful that just had to be tried on paper. A level of art that I knew I could reach but wasn't quite getting. In skill.  This afternoon I achieved the cat painting that was in my mind.  I am over the moon. The elusive result that I so wanted to achieve. I managed to achieve it.

I have always believed in allowing pigment to talk when working with it. I let colour tell me what it wants to do. And I love capturing light in watercolour.  Today I combined my washes with my subject and really allowed them to interact. I am really happy with this result. It is how I have wanted to paint for a very long time. I am finally nearer to my goal of where I want to be as an artist. The change is exciting and frightening because I am now setting myself new goals.And I believe we all should. Otherwise we accept what we know and never change.

Below is a close up of the cats head. 
I have deliberately used watermarks to create the face section.

Close up of the cats face in watercolour. The "once in a lifetime" perfect watermark exactly where it needed to be to create the ruff of fur around the cats neck.

I actually became very excited as soon as I started painting this cat. I played with colour in my warm up washes. As described in "Paint Yourself Calm". I liked what I saw had developed, so painted a cat wash immediately while the working colours were still fresh in my mind.

The first exciting wash is below.

First wash for my exciting pigment interaction cat.

I feel this is me, painting at my best, And I want to paint even more glowing paintings like this that are full of light and life.

Oh how I wish I had 48 hour days and so much more energy to paint right through them without taking a break.

This is exciting.



I recently fell in love with hummingbirds and for no reason started painting them non stop. I received several emails telling me that this was an exciting symbol of great change in my life. And friends have noticed my art is changing. I think the hummingbirds maybe were an omen. They feel " lucky".

We will see!


Catalyst 2016 : Cats in Watercolour


Well that's it. I have been hit by the "cat bug" and badly. Every single wash or blob of paint that I create seems to lead to a cat painting like these two simple pieces. Which happened as if by magic.

I love " Catnap" above. My own cat Biscuit has been sprawled out all summer, sleeping with her legs stretched as far as she can stretch them. But now the days are drawing cooler she is pulling herself into a cosy ball shape when she sleeps to keep herself warm. She is a ginger cat, but my painting could be a Siamese. I have allowed the pigments to create whatever colour cat they wish to.

The little cat below really was just a run of colour that I added ears to and then whiskers.It was such fun to play with. But on my easel now is a huge piece of white paper and that will be where I now create something more serious.


I have a new found energy in my latest work. But when I am playing with colour on these smaller studies it will never be a "catastrophe" if they go wrong. On scraps of paper nothing really needs to be purrfect and a whisker of colour here and there can lead to the most stunningly simple of results.


Thoughts for the day

1) Life isn't always purrfect and neither does our art have to be.
2) Whispers of colour can create something just as beautiful as bold colours.
3) Playing with colour can lead to some incredible new art ideas.



Monday, 19 September 2016

"Patience" : White Cat 2016

White cat in watercolour

You may wonder why the title "Patience" for this white cat in watercolour. Well, the reason is that I am often asked to paint peoples pets. I don't accept commissions but,  if I love the particular character I am asked to capture in watercolour, I sometimes keep an image and when the mood takes me will paint it. And that is what has happened here.
A local farmer has a rather splendid white cat. In fact they rescue all manner of animals including a blind goat that keeps bumping into things. Understandably! But the goat is very happy. And white too by coincidence.

The photograph of the white cat I have been given is gorgeous but only half of the cat is in full view as half of it is in shade. The other half is in bright sunlight. This gave me many options on how to paint it but I opted for the above version. This grand creature is well fed and well loved. By the expression on his face Ifelt like calling this " Smug"!

I have painted two versions. This one will be going in a show at some point but for now I think I will just enjoy it!


Monday Inspiration: Daily Washes

 Flowers seen from my studio window
Pigment still wet.

I must admit I laughed when I typed the title to this blog post. Monday in history was always seen as wash day but for different reasons. Washing would be hung on the line to dry. In fact a lovely memory came back to me about my stepmother as I typed this post. She was one of thirteen children who lived with their family in a mining town in Yorkshire. She used to tell me that being the first woman to have a full line of washing out on a Monday morning to show all the neighbours was quite an accomplishment. She would race to have spotlessly clean white linen on the line before any other woman who lived nearby. Each and every week and always on a Monday. Well she would be proud of me because before I walked Bailey, our Bearded Collie, today our bed linen was hanging on the line in our cottage garden but there is no one here to see it. It would probably make a great painting. But my Monday washes are very different and a lot more fun.

While I carried out my usual Monday morning chores of housework, dog walking and washing I thought about  what I would be painting today to start my week. I usually create three washes in different colours each day to act as a warm up to my serious painting time. But today I couldn't because my studio is surrounded by gorgeous summer flowers that will be fading soon as winter approaches here in UK. Days when I can paint bright cheerful flowers from my window will be gone and I shouldn't waste their beauty. Not while it is so abundantly here to view so easily.

So I decided to paint three washes of things that I can see from my window. With no cheating! I can see many flowers and I wanted different colours for each new wash. To make the start to my day interesting.

The first decision was easy as the golden gallardia flowers are still blooming right outside my window.

I started with a warm up wash of yellow as seen above.

 Wash 1.
Going further than a simple wash because I deliberately painted the flowers within the wash composition.

Next I needed a different colour flower for my second wash so I opted for blue. And I can see the last of the delphiniums flowering from my window. The wash for this tall flower is seen below.

Wash 2.
 Hints of delphinium flowers in shades of blue in my first wash.

My next wash now couldn't be golden yellow or blue shades. I wanted something completely different again. As a challenge to you I shan't say what this next flower will be , but can you guess? See the image below.

 Wash 3.
What is it? It is a flower but which plant?
Slightly harder than the previous two washes to depict but that makes the challenge of asking you more fun.

While  my warm up washes are drying I can now get back to my Monday chores. I will be bringing my washing in from the line, cleaning our cottage ready for the week ahead and making an appointment to take Bailey to the vet this afternoon. I also have admin to catch up on by email.  My exhibition opens this weekend and I need to talk to the gallery owner.

My life is busy but I wouldn't want it any other way. It means I am alive!

But the joy in creating these simple warm up washes each day is that you always have an unfinished painting that you can gradually add to and if you like it you can start another bigger painting on the same subject, having learnt from any mistakes in your first warm up exercises. You now know which colours you like and those that didn't work for you.

I did manage to add to my yellow flowers and I can share what additions have been made in this blog post. See the images below.

 Detail added to my initial wash of golden flowers seen from my cottage window.

 Close up of the detail added to my yellow flowers.


Artist Tips

1) Make time for three simple warm up washes each day. You feel better if you have moved your brushes even if its only for minutes.
2) Look out of your window and paint the first three things that you see, each selection hould be a different colour.
3) Leave your washes to dry and work on just one, adding detail. Leave it for a while and look at it with fresh eyes later to see how to complete it.
4) Choose your favourite first wash and paint a much bigger painting of the same thing.
5) Learn from your mistakes. Everything that goes wrong makes you a far better artist. So make lots of mistakes!


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Paint Yourself Calm 2016

With a solo exhibition looming there is something I need.
And it is this book!

Thank heavens I wrote it.

I will be using it every day creating colourful washes to ease the excitement of my forthcoming solo show!

Its' time to relax!!!


A Brush With a Woman : Solo Exhibition 2016

" A Brush With a Woman"
Solo Exhibition
Windrush Gallery
Burford UK

My solo exhibition opens this week at the Windrush Gallery in Burford.
I will be giving a demonstration on the Saturday in aid of charity so please book ahead if you would like to attend. Everyone is welcome to the Preview on the Friday evening but again please contact the gallery in advance to let them know you will be coming.

Everyone is welcome.

For full details please see the following link.


"Something to Crow About"
From my solo exhibition