Wednesday, 12 August 2015


I started a painting of Staithes last week, and I had the idea of painting in a different style, using minimal colours and making it slightly abstracted.  Unfortunately it didn't work.  I started it at my Tuesday class, and by the end of the two hours I had produced something which wasn't that much different to my own style, and certainly wasn't abstract in any way.

My original idea was to use Burnt Sienna, Phthalo Blue (green shade) and Raw Sienna, plus white.  You can see that Cadmium Red crept in and then Cobalt blue -I am so annoyed with myself.  I am going to start it again and see if I can do better.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

More collaged villages

I hope to get more work done today on the fishing village collages.  The two below are in the first stages, as were the ones yesterday.

I like how this one is turning out, partly because of the lovely orange sky - I just love orange skies.  It looks very messy at the moment, everything needs to be tidied up and straightened out a little, though not too much.

I don't really like this one at all, there are too many houses, and they are all the same, there isn't enough variety to keep interest going.  I also don't like the grey around the houses, it looks like concrete. This piece may not make it to the finishing line!

I had thought about doing some stitching on some of these collages, and I may use this piece to experiment on, as I feel I have nothing to lose.

This is another 'starter' showing how I add the acrylic ink, spray it and let it flow about on the page, I love the serendipity of the bursts of different colours and tones.

Monday, 10 August 2015

New collage work

I have started doing some collages of seaside or fishing villages, the type that are very common along the North Yorkshire coast.  I love doing the collages of still life, and I have painted lots of the fishing villages, but never done them in collage.

It has turned out to be much more difficult than I originally thought it would be.  Because I had painted them lots of times, I thought it would just flow, but it is a completely different way of working, and the paintings I have done don't necessarily lend themselves to collage.

These are two of the four I originally started with.  The top one is on some lovely handmade paper that accidentally was stained with black ink, so it needed covering over with something.  I started by using acrylic inks to cover most of the paper with colour, keeping to a minimal palette.

I then added the houses, roofs and windows, plus basic boat shapes, which can be seen more clearly on the piece below, which is on Bockingford watercolour paper.  They both need a lot more work.

I weill post again when I have worked on them a bit more.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bridlington boats, the last post (for now)

Here are some more from the experimental day, using my photographs of Bridlington harbour as inspiration.

The first one is another Quink ink and bleach painting, but I got too much bleach on and the ink almost disappeared.

This one is a mix of acrylic inks, oil pastel and charcoal.

Another similar one, but using Quink ink on a background of acrylic ink.

This last one is Quink ink, bleach and oil pastels.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

More Bridlington boats

Yet again a week has slipped by without my posting, time seems to be on warp-drive at the moment.  I am very busy trying to get some new work finished for our exhibition at Burton Agnes Hall,the first two weeks of September.  I am away the last week of August, so will only have one day between getting back and setting up the exhibition, so I need to get everything ready before I go away.

Anyway, here are some more pictures of the Bridlington Boats I was experimenting with a few weeks ago.

These two pieces are oil paint.  I drew them straight from the tube - no brush or palette knife.  It was very liberating as I just couldn't be precise and fussy.

 I like them both, and will do this again with other subjects.

This piece was using acrylic inks, drawing with the pipette, then adding Quink ink, letting it dry and then using bleach in a plastic pipette to draw with.  The bleach technique is very hit and miss, and also quite smelly.  I don't know what effect it has on the paper, I usually wait until everything is bone dry then run the picture under the tap to get rid of any remaining bleach residue.


Monday, 3 August 2015

Bridlington boats

I spent the week before last working on images of fishing boats.  The idea originally was to work up a serious of sketches for textile work.  I did several 'mood' sheets, which is something I always did for my textiles, before I started painting seriously and ended up painting more than stitching.

I have wanted to get back to stitching for months now, but I just never seem to get the time for both painting and stitching, and can never work out how to divide my time so it does work.  Anyway, that's where I started when I did these.

These are some of the mood sheets - I like to collage my photographs, scans of my previous work, both actual and in sketchbooks, and texture/colour from old magazines until I get the right 'feel'.

These are all copies from my 'Sea' sketchbook - although it is more of a 'mood' book in itself - no drawing was used during the making of this book!

These are photos, plus some lovely imagery I found in an old  National Geographic magazine.  I like to alter the magazine imagery a little by using white spirit on paper towel, gently rubbing to disturb the ink.

This one was similar to the one above, but I then used some oil painting, drawing with the tube, to add marks, and also splattered  some acrylic ink in places.

The last one is the cover of a sketchbook I made- it was meant to contain all the works from these sessions, but the size of the works ran away with me, and also I am quite pleased with some of the work, so will be framing it.  I think I will print out the work and mount it into the book, adding more marks if I feel like it needs it.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Studio as finished

Here are some of the photo's of the studio as it is now.  This is as tidy as it ever will be.  The table at the front has wood, glue and batons for the storage boxes I am making, see further down this post.

Here are the cupboards and the bookcase, moved so that there are no nasty corners where I can dump stuff.

On the right of this picture you can see a wooden box?  I am making a set of three of these, each a slightly different size, to store blank canvasses, paper and board, plus some of the finished works.  They will slot behind the bookcases and hopefully keep tidier than before.

Here is one cupboard, nice and tidy, although the shelf is sagging.  I have taken a lot of the weighty stuff out of the drawers and it's now stored at the bottom of the cupboard.

Here is the other cupboard, lovely and tidy - for now.

I have been doing quite a bit of work in between all the chaos, but just didn't have time to take photographs, put them through Photoshop and post them,  so will start today.

Studio re-organisation almost done

It's eight days since I last posted - again!  I think I am almost finished with the re-organising, and it's as tidy as it ever will be.

Here are some of the photo's showing the chaos when I emptied out these cupboards so I could move them.

Who would imagine that emptying out a  bookcase would take so long and take up so much room!

and here is the mess when I emptied one of the large IKEA wardrobe/cupboards.

More pics later.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

studio reorganisation continues

It's over a week since I posted, and the studio is still in limbo.  I should have taken photographs before I started to tidy up.  The corner of the studio shown below, with the bookcase and my book press was totally filled with boxes and canvasses, up to the top of the bookcase and overflowing onto the floor.

It was impossible to use the book press, and the clutter had filled the floor space so much that I couldn't get to my easel which is in the opposite corner (photographs later). 

Today I am going through the stuff in the bookcase.  The top one and a half shelves is full of my sketchbooks, some of which I never look at, so they are being relegated to the loft.  I also have A LOT of gallery exhibition catalogues, collected over the years, or in the case of the Sotherby's and Bonham's catalogues, bought from a Marlborough bookshop whilst on holiday.  I need to go through all these catalogues WITHOUT getting distracted, and weed out any that have no interest for me and pass them on  to someone who would appreciate them.

The art books will mostly stay in the bookcase, although I do have a lot of some artists such as Monet and Van Gogh as I pick these up in charity shops for very little and I can't resist buying them.

This is the IKEA wardrobe which is next to the bookcase, crammed full of STUFF - mostly paints, mediums, and sketchbooks, plus the wire drawer is full of paper - all muddled up.  This is the problem when you like to try everything and anything, so I have pastels, acrylics, oils and watercolours plus all the mediums for them, plus coloured pencils in a variety of mediums, charcoal etc, etc.

I have now tidied this up, and am trying to work out how to stop myself piling stuff onto the space in front of the drawers.  I guess I will move the drawers to the front of the shelf, and store stuff I don't use much behind them. When this stage is finished the bookcase is coming out of the corner and the wardrobe will be moved into it's place I hope.  The Ikea wardrobes are very heavy, even when empty, so I think it will be a struggle.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Studio reorganisation

I have been thinking about altering the layout of my studio for several weeks.  Over the last few months I have come to realise that the layout at present just isn't working well.  I have corners that fill up with clutter, the access to my easel is easily blocked and my table tops soon become covered with STUFF.

I need somewhere to store blank supports, and also work in progress, and work which is finished, but may be worked on again.  I also need somewhere to put work up so that I can see and assess it over a period of time.

I have accumulated a large collection of jugs, bowls, cups and the like, for my still life set-ups, and these are stacked precariously in plastic boxes.  I would like them to be out on show, but not in the way.

I have come up with some ideas that I hope will cover most of the above problems.  It does mean that the two large IKEA wardrobes that I use as storage cupboards will have to be moved - and of course emptied before they can be moved!  The two bookcases are also being moved.  So I am not going to be able to do any work for at least a week.

In between heaving all this stuff around I hope to be working on all the ideas that are spinning around in my head, after the visit to Hull museum.  I also have ideas for new work in general.  I may post some preliminary sketches, but I really want to keep these ideas to myself for a while.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Hull museum

Here are a few of the photographs I took.

Household shrine - also me taking the photo, reflected in the glass.

 Medieval stone arch

 Medieval stone carving.

 Medieval wood carving

I can't remember which area this was from, I liked the pattern, and the crack.  Reminds me of a landscape.

Hull & East Riding Museum

I visited the above museum yesterday, with Diane and Jacqui.  We were looking for inspiration for an upcoming ERA exhibition titled 'Layers of Meaning'.  It is linked to the East Yorkshire Archaeology Society, hence the visit to the history museum.

We had a great afternoon, and all took lots of pics (without flash, but it doesn't seem to matter too much).  I particularly liked the Gothic medieval period, the stonework and wood carving is amazing, and I love the colours from the hand-painted books of that period - brilliant blues and reds with gold.

I have a few ideas for the exhibition, but the pieces will have to be small as hand-in day will be end august/beginning September and we are all three exhibiting at Burton Agnes in the summerhouse 1-10th September, so we are all also working on pieces for that.

I will also be away the last week in August as I am going down to Art Van Go at Knebworth to do a workshop with Alice Fox on experimental mark making and stitch - I am so looking forward to that.

So - looks like I have five weeks to do both sets of work!  I think I will be working small for both exhibitions!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Art Society preview

I went to the Bridlington Art Society annual exhibition preview last night.  I haven't been for a couple of years, mainly because I just tend to forget.  Diane offered me a lift, so I had to remember.

The exhibition was very nice, some very good work.  I was very pleased to get the Still Life category,  I think this is the third year running that I have won one of the categories, in fact last year I won the Acrylic prize and the overall best picture of the exhibition as well which amazed me because the painting was put in as an after thought.  Perhaps I need to paint more of these casual, off-the-cuff paintings.

This is the painting that won the Bridlington Art Society Still Life painting category of 2015.  I do like it, although I think a few more edgy lines would improve it.

And this is the painting that won the Acrylic and the best painting in the show last year.  This really was last minute as it was one I literally dashed off at Neil Helyard's class, using up paint on the palette.

I think this is the painting that won a category in 2013, but I can't remember which category, or even if this was the painting which won in 2013!

I am trying to see if a) there is any common factors of composition in these paintings, and b) am I improving?  I don't know - perhaps I need to print out the photo's and pin them on the wall for a while.

Monday, 13 July 2015

more on mini canvasses

The mount I painted yesterday with the acrylic inks has worked out quite well.  I think the colours are a little on the strong side, and I would do them much paler next time.  I finished framing it and took it up to the Old Town Gallery where I was stewarding this afternoon.  The one below isn't it.

I had made another one with a spare mount which also had a mark on it (they seem so prone to it) I don't think it quite works with this double canvas as the colour as pooled and run down the inside edge, making it look grubby.  I can take off the back mount and just leave the front.

I do feel that since I said I would be part of the Old Town Gallery my paintings have been more 'touristy' and also smaller.  I don't think this is a good idea, painting for a venue.  I feel I have lost my way since I got back from holiday, I'm confused and just don't know what my style is anymore.

I do like to do quirky paintings, I love colourful work, and I do like collage.  I also like muted, softer work and probably don't do as much of that as it just isn't saleable around here.

Back to the drawing board - why do I paint?  I paint because I have to do something creative.  I need to try to improve my work all the time - I can't just do the same things.  I critique my work all the time, probably too much.  Should I just paint for myself, or to sell?  If just for myself, how will I evaluate my skills? 
How hard it is being an artist.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Mini Canvasses

I have worked a little on the mini canvasses today, but mostly on other things.  I took three pieces of work down to the Spa for the annual Bridlington Art Society exhibition this morning and unfortunately one of them fell out of the boot of the car - the glass broke and the frame did too!  I had to come home and re-frame the piece, by which time it was lunchtime.  

I had various housework and other boring jobs to do after lunch, and by the time I actually got into the studio it was nearly four o'clock and I was just too tired to do much.  I did float mount one of the mini canvasses into a frame, and it looks nice.  I've also experimented with painting a mount using acrylic inks to go with another mini canvas.  The mount had a slight mark on it so I couldn't use it, so nothing is lost if it doesn't work.

I coated the finished canvasses with acrylic varnish today and noticed something which I probably wouldn't have otherwise noticed.

Wish a little pre-planning, the mini canvasses could be made as diptychs or triptychs.  I think they would look very nice in pairs or a row of three, and it was only because the two canvasses above were side by side and I saw the way the houses seem to be in the same scene.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

East Riding Artists preview

I went to the ERA preview of the summer exhibition at Wolds Village  Gallery, Bainton last night with Diane, her mum Dorothy and Ivy.  There weren't as many people there as I remember last year, and few people I actually knew.  The exhibition was quite good, but I need to go again when it's quiet as you can't really see the work at a preview.

We stayed for the ERA social supper afterwards, but I didn't enjoy the meal, I just wasn't feeling hungry as it was after 7.30pm when we actually got our food which is too late for me to enjoy it.  I think I will give it a miss next year and just go the week after the preview.  It was nice to have a good chat with Diane and catch up with her news.

More on the Lesley Birch workshop

The Dutch House Gallery, cafe, and garden is lovely, well worth a visit.  The food is great, all freshly prepared.  Lunch was included in the workshop price and we ate outside as it was a sunny day.

In the morning we experimented with tints and shades, using a couple of different colours, and then mixed colours and made more tints and shades.

We then each had a large piece of paper that we tore into smaller pieces, all the pieces stuck down to a large board with masking tape.  We then added different acrylic mediums; Black Lava, Fine Grain, Molding paste and gesso.  We tried to make different marks and textures into these, and then left them to dry whilst we had lunch.

After lunch we added acrylic paint, again trying to make interesting marks and textures.  I thought this a great exercise, but I need at least three boards as I had finished within half-an-hour whilst most of the other people on the course were hardly started.  I should have just left it and gone for a walk or something, but I just continued working and completely ruined them.

These pieces are around 4-5 inch wide.  We were also given pencils and charcoal to help with the mark making.  I love charcoal, so of course I went over the top - again and again unfortunately.

Lesley told us that she uses this method to get abstracted thumbnails of the landscape, which she can then work up into larger pieces back in her studio.  There is a picture of her doing just that on her blog here Lesley Birch

This is something I will definitely try again, but I will prep up at least three boards before I start.  I will also be more careful tearing the paper and  applying the masking tape - I didn't at Crayke!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Lesley Birch workshop

I attended a workshop with Lesley Birch at the Dutch House Gallery yesterday.  It was very good and I really did enjoy it.  Unfortunately as usual, I overworked mine.  I'll write more later as I don't have much time now.

This piece was worked on a small 8 x 10 inch canvas as part of a series experimenting with various acrylic mediums.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Mini Canvasses

I managed to get two of the mini canvasses finished today.  I am quite pleased with them, although they are far from fine art.

mini canvas 1

mini canvas 2
I like the second one because the underpainting worked out so well.  In the first one the houses are a little dark.  I think they need to have a coat of acrylic varnish as I'm not sure how I am going to display them yet.  I may frame them with a mount, or float frame them, or, in the case of the stretched canvasses, I may just leave them as they are and display them on mini easels.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Playing catch up

I seem to be in the mood to write posts today, so I am taking advantage of it.  I feel so much better having worked out why I am not being so productive.  I accept that I am not going to be a "painting a day" sort of person.  I need to work on several pieces at the same time, going back from one to the other.  Often two out of three paintings may be abandoned as not worth pushing further.  It's the way I work, so I'm not worrying about keeping up with a painting a day.  I do feel that I need to blog most days though, otherwise I could stop working at all.

I am my own worst enemy though as I have added another string to my bow, and I am now spending around an hour each evening doing scale model buildings for my husbands model railway.  I have been promising to do them for over a year, and there is nothing on the TV in the evening.  I am quite enjoying doing them as I am working on a kit at the moment and just have to follow the instructions.

I realised today that there is yet another exhibition I wanted to enter, although it is only the entry form that has to be in by next weekend, and not the actual work.  This is a 'postcard' exhibition being held at Woodend, Scarborough.  There is only one stipulation, and that is that they be 6 x 4 inch (10 x 15cm).  As several of my watercolour paper experiments turned out so well, I though this was an ideal opportunity to use some of them.  I just need to choose, trim if necessary, then count the number I want to enter.  So not a huge undertaking.

More mini canvasses

I have been thinking about why I feel I am not getting on with work since I came back from holiday, and I have come to the conclusion that I was working an 8-10 hour day then, and it isn't something I can keep up.  I am therefore going to stop beating myself up about it and just try to go with the flow.

Just to show willing, and to bump up the number of posts, here are a couple more of the mini canvasses.  I managed to work on them between trips out.

stage 1, painted canvas
I quite enjoy doing the backgrounds, they don't always come out looking good, but it's fun to let the acrylic inks flow and run.

stage 2, adding collage

On this piece I have just started to add the collage, and it obviously needs blending in, using some tissue type papers for the beach and the space between the beach and the houses.  I love how the sea has turned out on this one, so may just put in some beach umbrella's rather than boats.  I think this one will have to be called 'Low Tide'!

Missed another day

I can't seem to catch up with myself since I came back from holiday.  I planned a quiet day yesterday, but it didn't turn out like that as I had work to get ready for an East Riding Artist exhibition.  Today I have to take it to the venue, so another day broken up - it's also Slimming World this morning, and I have to call in at the framers for the next exhibition's work.  That exhibition has to be in next Sunday!

Anyway, I did get a little work done yesterday and Sunday.  I am trying out working on some small canvasses I bought last year and never used.  They are tiny, 5 x 7 inch.  I bought a pack of canvas boards and a pack of shallow stretched canvasses.  I am finding them very fiddly.

stage 1, painted background
I painted the backgrounds first with acrylic inks.  Some I added salt to make a bubble texture, and some I just sprayed with water.  The one above came out particularly well.  I could use it this way up and have an orange sky, which I love, or I could turn it around and have a beach with a stormy sky.

stage 2, collage added and windows painted

On most of the canvasses I am adding collage to some degree, although one or two I have just painted.  The one above is mostly collage.  The next stage is the very fiddly stage of painting in the window bars, and chimney pots, on the houses, adding masts and other bits and pieces to the boats.  I may add a beach umbrella or three.

These are not giving me the same feeling as the free-flowing landscapes on the watercolour paper.  I am finding them fiddly and frustrating.  There are five or six of each type of canvas, and I am going to get them finished and out of the way.  I may then try a similar imagery on watercolour paper.

I haven't got back to the compositional exercises I was doing, and doubt if I will in the near future.  Sometimes you just have to let plans go.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Angie McCall workshop

I was out all day again yesterday and was so tired when I got back that I forgot to post again!  I had a lovely day, although I didn't like the work I produced there, but at least I did get some work done.  Everyone else at the workshop painted watercolour flowers, but that just isn't me.  I thought the workshop was about collage, so this was a compromise that didn't work.

I'm hoping for a quiet day with a little work, so will post again later.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Cornish fishing boats

This is a piece I started whilst on holiday, and I worked on it for a little while this afternoon.  It needs loads more work, and something happening in the mid ground which is a bit empty at the moment.  I decided to post it today, to make up for the missed post yesterday.

Cornish fishing boats, acrylic mixed media collage, 10 inch square

I don't know whether to add more boats, or just add more detail to the quayside.  Everything seems to be a struggle at the moment, and only a month ago painting seemed to be getting easier, but I don't ever think it does get easy really, unless you paint the same thing over and over again.  I want to learn and move on, not stay in the same place, but it is hard.

Missed post

I missed posting yesterday, I just forgot.  I have been out every day since I got back from holiday and am just so tired.  I need to get back into a routine of working in the studio, and hopefully I can get going again next week as I am only out one day and one evening.

Here is another of the Renishaw Hall experiments.  I was trying out texture paste and tissue, and was in a hurry to see how it looked so didn't bother with the drawing much, or even letting the texture stuff dry properly and it shows.

Renishaw Hall front

I like the quirkiness of the centre tilted walls, but it isn't quite what I want in the final painting.  I need to do lots more drawing and experimenting.  I added some soft pastel white and ochre, and I do like the broken effect, but think it would work better as part of the painting, in a dry brush technique.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Experimental Composition No. 3

Today's composition is less than exciting, but in my defence I had very little time.  It was Foston Studio Day today, and I had to go out before 9am and didn't get back until after 4pm.  I had a lovely time, and hope to write about it on my other blog Material Matters, which is sadly falling by the wayside at the moment, as is my sketchbook/ideas book.

Experimental composition No. 3 parallels in monotone

I'm out again tomorrow, stewarding at the Old Town Gallery, I'm taking a sketch book to work on the Renishaw Hall project, but I'm also taking a couple of books and may give myself a break and just read.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Renishaw Hall

While on holiday last week we visited Renishaw Hall, nr Sheffield.  I had wanted to go for quite some time and this holiday seemed the ideal occasion as we were staying not too far away.

Renishaw Hall is owned by the Sitwell family, and is a wonderful place.  the house is only open to visitors on Friday afternoon's, by appointment, for a guided tour (and August Saturday and Sundays).  It is well worth a visit as it has a large collection of John Piper artwork.  I have admired his work for years, and the chance to see it close up was wonderful.

I took loads of photographs of the outside of the house, and the lovely Italianate gardens, and have started working on sketches for hopefully, at least one piece of work.  I started by writing down all the points which seemed important in the photographs of the house and gardens, and then all the points I loved about Piper's work.  These drawings are quick sketches, looking at style and technique.

Coach house entrance

Main doorway to the hall

I did a piece in textile, based on Burton Agnes Hall, in a similar style, several years ago.  As well as paintings, I may also try these in textile.

Today marks the half-way point in my year of blogging.  It is becoming a habit that I find hard not to keep now.  I haven't done very well with my material blog, but hopefully I will get into that more, now I am going to the Foston Studio day once a month and working on my textiles there.