Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fishermens shelter and London workshop

Fishermens shelter
Oils 14" x 18"

I had the immense pleasure of spending a couple of days in the fishermens shelter in Portscatho last year, when I put on a little pop-up exhibition with The Harbour Gallery. I was really inspired by the large window overlooking the sea and the way the sunlight came into the room. I did paint this view while I was there but I always felt that I had another one in me. 
Now I've painted this larger version in the studio and I'm really happy with it. It's one of six paintings that I'm framing up at the moment to send for selection to the Mall Galleries for the annual Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition. 

This August I'm going to be running a day workshop at the Mall Galleries in London about 'Capturing the essence', talking about the ways I use simplification in my work. What is important to include and what can be left out?

Friday, July 8, 2016

East view interior

Red sail at East view

Well of course... it's the first thing I noticed when I walked in to this beautiful fishermens cottage in Staithes... a big red sail in the window. What a beautiful cottage and a beautiful subject. I painted this in situ with my small antique pochade box but I'm keen to also paint a version in the studio at a later date. I love love love coastal cottages :-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Good morning heartbreak

Good morning heartbreak
Another painting of Dottys tearoom, this time I used my little antique pochade box and one of my students from the Staithes art school weekend workshop kindly offered to pose for me after another customer whom I'd started painting had left. 

I decided to name the painting after one of the songs that was playing at the time, and when we discovered that it was Billie Holiday's 'Good morning heartbreak' it seemed perfect!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Dottys tearoom

Dottys tearooms
10" x 8"

If I lived in the area, Dottys tearoom vintage shop and boutique in Staithes would definitely be my regular haunt. I do recommend a visit if you're exploring the North Yorkshire coast.

I painted this especially for a magazine article I was writing for The Artist magazine, called 'How finished is finished?'
In it I discuss ways that might help to avoid overworking a painting - firstly you need to know what you want to say in the painting and then it is easier to know when you have said it. 
And yes, that is all easier said than done!
The article will be published in the September issue of the magazine I think, which will be in UK stores in August.

‘A fine suggestion, a sketch with great feeling, can be as expressive as the most finished project’ Eugene Delacroix

International subscriptions to the Artist magazine are available here -

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lyme Regis harbour

Lyme Regis harbour
8" x 10"

While we're on a maritime theme here's a little plein air study from beautiful Lyme Regis a couple of weeks ago. I was in Somerset for a demo and I was in Lyme Regis just to have a lovely day with my good friend Jean Stevens. And fish and chips, of course. We got dive bombed by seagulls, boy are they big and scary when they swoop down on your head!

Managed one painting and I loved the view from up here. Although it was a really bright day it was very breezy. So much so that it was one of those sessions that you really can't place a brushwork exactly where you want it because the wind takes your arm.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Evening light, Harwich

Evening light, Harwich
24 x 30 cms

At the end of the first day of teaching in Harwich (a chilly day with a strong north-easterly wind) I took my paints back out to the Quayside. It wasn't weather conditions for the faint hearted, but once I'd seen this subject well... I couldn't care less about the practical difficulties. I just get so excited and carried away... I only noticed I was shivering with cold when I was packing up afterwards.

I LOVED the red flags and of course the dazzling light on the sea. It was a real challenge because the boat was silhouetted against the water but there was still colour to be seen within that silhouetted shape, but very very muted. Even the bright red flags had to actually be painted as dirty reddish greys. A great learning experience, and I was really happy with the end result and happy that I'd earned my hot dinner.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fishing clutter

Fishing clutter
8" x 6"

I was teaching a plein air painting weekend in Harwich with a really keen group and this is a demo painting of some interesting shapes and colours I spotted just along the road. It doesn't matter what the objects are, I neither need to know or name any of those items. I just need to find the shapes fascinating so that I can enjoy the experience and show my excitement to the viewer of the painting. 

Luckily my group were happy for me to go on with it until it was finished as I was really involved and it would have been hard to tear myself away! 

I'll be teaching a plein air weekend at the Old Bank Studios in Harwich again next May, book a place if you'd like to join me there!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Washing line

Washing line and dappled shade
6" x 8"

Those of you who have been following my blog for a LONG time might have noticed that I love a washing line for a subject! What I really like about this painting is that it's about just a funny little corner, nothing staged, nothing too grand or pretty. The dappled shade on the apple tree and the wall became the subject and stole the show somewhat from the washing line.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom
8" x 12"

For me May is the finest time of the year to be outside painting in the UK, everything has burst into life and the greens are lush and fresh, there are stunning displays of blossom everywhere you look, all the trees and hedgerows are putting on their best show and when the sun is shining there is nothing more glorious.

And yet every May I seem to have a crazy busy schedule with travelling, teaching, studio painting for deadlines... you name it. I often get to the end of May and feel I've missed the best of the year and hardly managed any plein air time.

So around eight months ago I blocked out this May in my diary as far as possible as 'plein air painting' and it seems to have done the trick! Although I have had other commitments to manage I have also made sure to put everything aside when we have a beautiful day and get out somewhere with my paints.

And I didn't have to travel far for these little studies of cherry blossom, painted from my garden looking at my neighbours trees. 

With these I wasn't trying to make a composition of a usual 'finished painting' for me, I was trying really hard just to match spots of colour and value with what I was seeing. I felt that the blossom was worthy of serious attention in itself and worked really hard with the colours and values rather than 'making do'. 

And then as it turned out, they would make rather nice little paintings framed up after all!

Cherry trees
8" x 10"

Friday, May 6, 2016

Beetroot and pears

Pear blossom by the greenhouse

At last we are enjoying some gorgeous spring sunshine this week, and happily I was able to get out to my favourite local allotments. I didn't spend time looking around because this dilapidated greenhouse caught my eye immediately, and I especially liked the pear tree next to it with the sun glowing through its leaves. 

In situ, bright and breezy day

Afterwards I couldn't resist a little study of these beetroot plants nearby, with the gorgeous little glimpses of pink and red amongst the green leaves.

Beetroot going to seed

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