Thursday, 24 March 2016

Altered Art Journal: A Peek at a Mixed Media Crocus

When I feel uninspired by my watercolours I take a wander upstairs to my studio to have a play with my mixed media.  I use a book I bought in a charity shop as my Altered Art Journal.  Funnily enough it is a copy of “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.  The title seemed an apt play on words for what I wanted to use it for.  I love the book and the film, so I knew I would enjoy using this as my inspiration mixed media art journal. 

Ready to use gessoed pages.  

The purple and lilac areas are watercolour.  The rest was created using acrylic wash.  

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A couple of weeks ago I had a go at re-creating the crocus using rough cold press watercolour paper.  I found out that was not a good idea at all.  I gessoed over the crocus ready for another day and another project to be added on top. 

A few years ago I bought some vintage music sheets and today I decided to mix it up with some modern day ephemera and some wacky ideas to create a loose leaf art journal page.  Collage, acrylic paint, sharpie pen and ink blocks were the main mixed media ingredients together with a large dose of fun and plenty of relaxed art therapy.     

Monday, 14 March 2016

Elephant in Water Based Mixed Media

Having painted elephants many times before in watercolour, I felt it was time to explore the subject using a different approach.  

"Elephant"  Sold
Mixed Media: acrylic and watercolour on hot press paper.

“Elephant” is a mixed media painting created using acrylic and watercolour pigments. The background and foreground were the most interesting to paint as I embellished these with copper, silver and gold acrylic pigments that created a lovely soft lustre effect in some blended areas. 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Urban Sketching English Churches in Watercolour and My Favourite Inspiring Watercolour Architecture Book

Flicking through my urban sketching journal today I came across my pen and wash sketch of a visit to the quaint St Andrew’s Church in Greensted this summer.  A little church that purports to be the oldest wooden church in the world.  It was a very interesting visit with me managing to fit in a little bit of time to sit in the English sunshine and sketch whilst husband went to explore the interior.           

As I tackled this subject far too quickly on site, I felt I wanted to re-visit the subject using just pencil, line and tone when I got home and had more time. 

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I thought I would share a glimpse into one of my most prized watercolour books as the subject of the book ties in nicely with English churches. 

The Church Triumphant, English Churches in Watercolour by Bob Moody.  I found this book by chance on Amazon.  It was a second hand cheap give away.  When I received it I was astounded at the quality of the book-binding and the calibre of the watercolours published within it.    

Bob Moody is an American artist who was set a challenge to paint the English churches in watercolour in one trip.  He had already done a similar challenge in Alabama which is the same size as England.  He managed that challenge in just one month.  What he did not realise is that there are over 1,000 churches in England and some access to them is via narrow, single track, rural lanes with high hedgerows either side, making the trip extremely slow going.  Lots of my holidays have been spent on these rural lanes, stuck behind cows, sheep and tractors.  So I fully understand the dilemmas of attempting such a trip in England.  His challenge eventually lasted from Summer 2002 to Spring 2003 and he managed to paint 93 exterior and interior watercolours.  All are published within this beautiful book together with an entertaining description of the trip and some history about the churches. 

All original sketches remain in the private collection of the artist, Bob Moody.  Hearing that fact is actually quite refreshing for me, as I do not always want to let go of some of my own artwork either.  So I can fully understand why this artist is still holding onto his sketched memories of the English churches he visited. 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Watercolour Brushes I Occasionally Use

During a quiz evening I attended the other day a question came up about filbert nuts.  That made me remember my Filbert watercolour brush.  I then figured out that the brush is named after the shape of the nut.  It might take a while but the light bulb does actually switch on in my head sometimes.  I have no idea how but my team won the quiz and we each won a bag of chocolates which were munched  with gusto.  

Today I thought I would share some of the brushes I use very occasionally.   Filbert brush at the top, flat square brush in the middle and my hake brush which I have had for years.  I use these brushes when I want to add a vast amount of water onto the paper.  My style has developed into a more delicate and controlled process from the early days that I do not use these high water retaining brushes that often now.  

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Architecture in Watercolour - Working in a Relaxed Style

Due to catching the dreaded virus that seems to be doing the rounds in the UK this winter, I have been feeling quite uninspired lately.  Lack of energy means that very little finished artwork gets done.  I still paint and I use these times to continue to explore my relaxed painting style. 

A lovely day in St Neots in February allowed me the opportunity to collect lots of reference photos of beautiful old UK architecture.  

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Raising a Smile with Cows and Colour

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”  ~ Yogi and Guru Paramahansa Yogananda

Sometimes all I want to do with my art is raise a smile.  Yesterday I posted my painting The Whimsy of Cows on Twitter and received a tweet back from @cowinmontana saying “Haha! Love it! Moo!”

I have no idea who this person is but the painting connected with a complete stranger thousands of miles away and raised a smile on their face as well as mine.  I never know how far my art spreads with the public social media platforms I use, but when I see the spread with  blog statistics and receiving messages from far off places, it leaves me quite surprised at times.  I suppose that is the wonder of the internet.  The world has become a much smaller place. 

My Whimsy with Cows was never intended to be sold and it never will be.  Every now and again I put it out into the ether of the internet just to raise a smile.  Here is a  LINK to its development for anyone who is interested.     

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As a child of eight my parents were told I had no idea about colour.  Luckily my parents quickly rectified that and bought me my first inexpensive children’s metal paint palette full of really low grade watercolours.  My family came from very humble struggling Italian beginnings, so getting that paint palette meant lots to me.  It was treasured for a long time after.  Colour became my passion and joy from then on. 

The huge children’s metal palette was pretty much the same shape as the smaller version I use today.  I had more colours than I have today.    Over the years I have learnt that I do not need lots of colours.  I just need the right ones that possess the right characteristics and mixing power for my needs.

I very rarely buy a new colour.  I work with warms and cools and I have divided my palette accordingly.  The warms are at the top and the cools are along the bottom.  This means I have ultramarine blue in amongst the warms and the cool blues like cobalt blue are along the bottom.  My reds are divided too with Quinacridone red and the cadmium reds at the top (not visible in the photo) and alizarin crimson and permanent rose along the bottom with the cools.  It really is quite a simple system that aids me with mixing and selecting warm and cool opposites instinctively.   Despite having so many colours in one palette there are lots that I rarely use. 

So life for me has been very peachy, rosy, colourful and vibrant ever since that teacher’s comment. Maybe that little comment on a simple report card as a child has made me the enthusiastic watercolourist I am today. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Watercolour Sketchbooks – A Place to Continue to be Creative

One of the things I am very conscious of with having my Artfinder Store is not to become obsessed with becoming prolific just for the reason of filling my store with my art.  I am extremely selective when I choose to create a finished piece of artwork.  Most of the time I am still quite content sketching in my journals and exploring colour and texture.  I paint and draw because it gives me pleasure.  So my art needs to complement my life style and not take it over.

Last year I concentrated greatly on urban sketching.  This year I have come full circle and am spending more of my time exploring colour and texture and my love for watercolour.