Who thought Still Life was dead? I thought it was “So Last Century”

Oil Painting Still life with Blue Fabric

Oil Painting Still life with Blue Fabric

For a long time, I did!

I just thought it was old fashioned and not for me. How wrong could I have been?

Ask yourself, What does a warm weather ‘plein air painter’ do in winter? When it is too cold to work out of doors, of course I retreat to the studio and work from my imagination, or from old paintings, watercolours and sketches.

There is always plenty to do. This year, for a change, I thought it about time I tackled the Still Life genre.

And what a result, so far I have completed eight traditional still life paintings in oils, using antique mirrors, jugs, vases, silverware, brass, all placed on different cloths and fabrics, which can be a challenge in their own right. I’ve also loved painting them, each object has it’s own difficulties, like the shiny surfaces of

oil painting - still life with antiques

oil painting – still life with antiques

silver, and mirrors, the textural surfaces of fabrics, and gilded mirror frames etc, the play of light on folded cloth, all are challenges requiring thought and attention.

I’ve included a few here, to show what I mean. none of the objects need be valuable, it is amazing what can be found at second hand stalls.

oil painting still life with blue bottle

oil painting still life with blue bottle

 

 

 

oil painting chocolate teapot still life

oil painting chocolate teapot still life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you like what I have done here, and if you enjoy painting or drawing, don’t forget the humble still life, this genre has plenty of life left in it still, and you will find it both challenging and rewarding.

still life of oranges before a mirror

still life of oranges before a mirror

What do Artists do all day?

painting a still life

painting a still life

Hello again,

While it’s cold and windy outside, it is a good time to review my activity last year and to make plans for the year ahead. In 2016 I painted just over 100 works mainly in oils, ‘en plein air’ but a few large (1/2 imperial sheet size) watercolours, just to keep my hand in.

I travelled to Wexford, Ireland again in late July for Art in The Open which is 150 approx. artists, amateur and professional, working together in picturesque locations, with prizes awarded for the best work, and demonstrations and workshops available if required. Best of all, the Irish know how to enjoy their evenings, and a BBQ and several impromptu social gatherings were also enjoyed.

In August I opened my studio, and welcomed many visitors to see where I work, when at home, and displayed over 100 paintings framed and unframed, so plenty of variety and choice. I enjoy the chance to meet up with fellow artists and enthusiasts, and to chat about everything art related and otherwise.

In September I travelled to the Norfolk Broads, for four days of painting in the glorious lakeside scenery they have to offer. This was about 80 artists, and it’s now the 3rd time I have attended this most enjoyable event.

painting of boats at Broadstairs

painting of boats at Broadstairs

Now for 2017 I am considering a week long trip to Cornwall as it is many years since I have painted in Cornwall, and I just love their small quaint seaside harbours and villages, and rocky headlands. I like to paint where the Newlyn and St Ives school artists used to paint, at the Lizard, Kynance Cove, Sennen, Lamorna, Newlyn harbour, etc.  I’d also like to paint somewhere warmer this year, if finances allow. In between these visits are day trips to London, and west Kent and Sussex for changes of scenery, urban views, or an abundance of trees and Oast Houses, and rolling downs.

 

 

painting of boats at Queenborough, Sheppey

painting of boats at Queenborough, Sheppey

I also plan on painting more frequently in 2017 and hope to achieve 200 approx. fresh works.

In between painting trips, there are Exhibitions in Margate in April Three Points of View, with two artist friends, in Whitstable in June with Locus Arts, in Margate in July with Broadstairs Arts Group, at home in Broadstairs in August with my Open Studio and in Ramsgate in October for my 3rd Solo Exhibition at York Street Gallery

I also help with a Sketch Group, in Ramsgate encouraging people to sketch regularly, and I also help create a programme of plein air paint outs in and around Thanet, and East Kent in the Summer. In the Autumn I’ll present another six session sketching course for begginers in Ramsgate. I’ve forgotten to mention framing, mount cutting, cellophane wrapping, certificates to be produced etc, and posting off sold works. Last but not least – writing occasional blog posts.

Busy? Yes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Meet up with your favourite artist in 2017

This is my New Year’s resolution! It could be yours as well?

using watercolour last summer

using watercolour last summer

What do we gain from meeting Artists? –

  1. Some insight into the way they work,
  2. We can learn what motivates artists to keep creating,
  3. We can discover what it is we especially like about their works,
  4. We can get a glimpse of their lifestyle and how far they have to travel, to gather ideas for future works,
  5. We can establish a rapport with the artist,
  6. We may decide to start a collection of their work,
  7. We can learn about some of their techniques,
  8. We can perhaps improve our own creativity as a result.

I hope to do all these things over the coming months with my favourite artists.

I will meet them at their Exhibition Previews, where they are happy to discuss their work, I will visit them in their studios, during an Open Studio Event, I will see their work on Facebook, Instagram and other social media, and LIKE and SHARE their work to my friends. More importantly when I see work I really like, I will leave positive comments, and perhaps visit their web sites and online shops. I also watch their You Tube videos, I have learnt so much from these, especially online demonstrations.

As a result, wherever I go people come up to me and say “Oh I know you, we’re Facebook friends”.

So in 2017 – Go and Meet your favourite artists! Enjoy!

 

 

Open Studios – See the Artist in their studio – Get the most out of your visit!

OK It’s that Open Studios time of year again.

Whitstable boats

Boats at Whitstable painting

The time when many artists throw open their doors and welcome all comers.

It is an opportunity to show much more work than would be possible in a gallery, also the artist may choose to show older works, which help to illustrate their personal development, their own journey of learning and experience.

By following a trail of studios, using the booklet provided, visitors can seek out artists working in many different genres, mediums and styles of working. Art appreciation is a personal experience, and we all have our own likes and dislikes. I learn a lot by talking to other artists.

If you enjoy making art, or wish to learn how, then try to visit a few studios, you will meet some very interesting and creative people and by seeing how others work, you may pick up some useful ideas for your own work. Also don’t be shy, if you have a question to ask about your own work, don’t be afraid to ask. Most creative people love to talk about how they overcame problems, and are happy to help you do likewise. Don’t leave it, you may wait another year before your next opportunity.

Open Studios

My studio is open on the last three weekends in August and Bank Holiday Monday. The dates are: 13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, 27th, 28th & 29th August.

Opening times 10am to 4pm on the above dates.

You will see many new works, and some older works, many of which haven’t been shown before. My next Gallery Exhibition isn’t until Easter 2017 in Margate and October 2017 in Ramsgate, so don’t miss this chance to catch up.

To see the booklet with full details of all 33 Open Studios click this link

And to see my online shop, click here

I recently spent 10 Days in Wexford Ireland, painting out doors with 170 other artists from 16 countries.

Ancient bridge at Tintern Abbey

Ancient bridge at Tintern Abbey

Here is a sample of my work  for you. To read all about this adventure, make sure I have your e-mail address, so you can get it direct to your inbox.  Until next time!

 

 

repairs at Ballymorerepairs at Ballymore

Meet an Artist – Ask him or her the Questions you need answered –

Are you trying to improve your drawings or paintings?

Whitstable boats

Boats at Whitstable painting

Do you have some questions you would like to ask an artist, but never get the opportunity? or you feel too embarrassed to ask?

Yes I’ve been there as well, remember no one is born with these skills, we’ve all had to learn them, step by step.

I learnt best when I created an opportunity to ask an artist, or an art teacher. It’s not easy, because everyone is in a rush. I used to go and visit artists in their studios, because they are much happier to answer your questions and talk about art, when ‘at home’ in their own studio. So although I didn’t always ‘get’ their art or their philosophy, I learnt by talking about it, and where I was hoping to go in my own art development.

For three weekends, from the middle of August, I will throw open my studio doors and invite anyone to come in and browse, to drink tea and coffee and to ask loads of questions. At the same time, another 40 artists in East Kent, will be doing the same thing. Most areas of the UK have an Open Studio event, during the year, and these are valuable opportunities to meet the artists, and talk about their work, but more importantly, to use the opportunity to talk about your own artistic problems and your progress. So Make the most of the opportunity, think up the questions you would most like to ask, choose one problem area of yours, and ask clearly, for advice on how to solve the problem, and to get to your next goal. Use your visit to learn your next step. You could even take a photo of your work with you to show where you are in your own journey.

Visit some studios, and Ask Questions!  You’ll be glad you did, later on.

Thanet Artists Open Studios     Weekends of 13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, and 27th, 28th and 29th August. Open 10am to 4pm each day.

My Studio: 21 Seafield Road, Broadstairs, Kent CT10 2DD

Full details are here: Open Studio Details     I look forward to meeting you!

Here is a video from a very successful artist and motivational speaker, you may need to turn your sound down a little! Enjoy!

 

If you enjoyed this and would like to see more posts like this, put your e-mail address in the box nearby, you will also get my FREE My 10 Top Tips Learning to Draw.

From beginner to skilled Artist – In easy steps – I’ll show you how!

What is the ONE BIG IDEA – that HIDDEN SECRET, you need to know, in order to start that mysterious journey from being a sometime sketcher, to a skilled artist. It has nothing to do with shaky lines, or lots of rubbing out, or even lack of confidence, or not understanding colours, or problems with perspective.

our local park in oils

our local park in oils 10″ x 12″ on board.

Sure – these will all need to be mastered step by step, little by little, but what is the one big thing that sets apart beginners work from skilled work.

I remember how infuriating it was when I started to draw and paint, I was so proud of my work, and just couldn’t understand why it didn’t appeal to the ‘more experienced’ members of our Art Club, and it failed to sell, time after time. I couldn’t see what I’d done wrong, It looked perfect to me, and my close friends all offered their congratulations, telling me how wonderful my work was.

Why wouldn’t anyone tell me the honest truth? Perhaps they were afraid to put me off art, perhaps they didn’t want to lose their ‘artistic’ friend, they didn’t want to cause a scene, maybe they didn’t want to be seen as critical.

Perhaps I never asked the Question?

Well now, many years later, I find myself in the position of ‘a more experienced’ art club member, having worked hard to acquire the skills, little by little, step by step, I am now able, but ‘not so willing’ to offer my  critique. I now understand why no one wanted to tell me what I was doing wrong. Sure – If I am asked a direct question – I will answer it as helpfully and truthfully as I can. After all, what learners need – is to know the next step. Which one big issue needs their attention. This is THE HIDDEN SECRET.

I was actually incredibly lucky, and I did have one critic, who knew exactly what was wrong, I would e-mail all my sketches and paintings, one at a time, to my mother, an experienced art teacher, who had been the Head of Art at a large school, for many years. She was always honest with me, because she knew I wanted the truth spelled out clearly.

Sometimes it was brutal, but on every occasion, after a few minutes digesting her words of wisdom, I knew she was right. She could see and understand my problems. The more I tried, and subjected myself to critique, the better my work became, till eventually, I rarely received ‘brutal’ critiques.

So to sum up the HIDDEN SECRET is, to find an experienced artist or art teacher who you can trust and respect as a mentor, someone who will be honest with you, even if its brutal. You will need to ask the Question, clearly, What have I done wrong here? What one big area or thing should I work on? ie: drawing skills, tonal values, composition, colour choices, etc. then go away and learn all you can about the problem area, look for help on You Tube, and Google, if you don’t understand, go back and ask the question again, and practice over and over again until your mentor gives you your next problem area to work on.

If you find the right mentor and ask them the right question, they will be glad to help you.

You can forget all the books and DVD’s – they have far too much info in them. You just need one big thing or idea, to work on. Not a whole book full! So go out there, join your local art group, and ask questions, and keep asking questions, until you find your mentor. Good Luck!  

Here’s a blog you can learn a huge amount from, by in inspirational and motivational artist. Adebanji Alade  Enjoy!

using a pochade box

using a pochade box for oil painting.

News from the Studio

My lack of regular blog articles is not due to idleness, its due to lack of spare time, I know that’s no excuse, but here’s what I’ve been up to, I’ve begun oil painting, and have created nearly twenty 10″ x 12″ oil paintings on board, mainly working out doors on location, ‘en plein air’ as the French say. My pochade box is serving me well, and I have already modified it to make it easier to use.  I have a lot to learn so I have found my mentor, (see article above), who has a wealth of ‘plein air’ painting experience, and likes to go out frequently. I have also been experimenting with larger watercolours using 1/2 imperial size paper ( 15″ x 22″)  usually rough surface, 200 or 300 lbs in weight. I am loving this experimentation, both in oils and watercolours, and look forward to a busy summer of painting ahead.

Also I’ve been planning for my Open Studio, which will happen here on August 13th & 14th, 20th & 21st, 27th, 28th & 29th.  More details in my next blog post. Don’t miss it, put your e-mail address in the box to get my posts in your inbox.

Also click here for a list of my exhibitions in 2016

A Quick and Simple way to Unlock your Creativity

OK – You can start with a £1 sketch book and a 4b pencil.

Yes that’s it, starting on the path to learn a new and valuable skill, can be Quick and Simple!

Sketching with a pen

Sketching with a pen

Unlike other skills such as music, you don’t need to start with a one to one tutor, or even an art class. You can start like I did, with a cheap sketchbook and a pencil. You will need to get into the habit of carrying it with you always, so you can sketch anything you like, in all those brief moments between meetings, while waiting for a bus, waiting for people, just sitting at home in your lounge, there are a thousand items to sketch, without leaving your sofa. A small A6 sized sketchbook will fit in your pocket and will hardly be noticed in a cafe or on the train. Do you get what I’m saying.

Of course, once you do acquire the sketching habit, you will naturally want to learn more techniques and get some useful tips. You will also notice quite quickly that by really looking at things properly, like an artist does, your friends will start to admire your work, and wonder “where that skill came from”. No longer will you have to hide your sketchbooks for fear of ridicule. I’m deadly serious here – your life will improve through the unlocking of your own creativity. This is exactly how I learnt to Draw and went on to Sell my Paintings.  So what if I said you can have my Ten Top Tips – Learning to Draw for FREE – does that sound good! OK! Click Here  or in the box below to get the Pdf file link, so you can save or print it.

News from the Studio

I have become an art teacher!  Did I hear you gasp? Well I recently planned and delivered my first Six Session Course on How to Draw – from the beginning! I received thirty five applications for twelve places.

I was never a ‘teacher’ in my earlier ‘pre artist’ life, but of course I have always enjoyed helping and encouraging people to achieve what they thought impossible and so I suppose the planning and presentation were not new to me.

I am delighted that my students wanted to be shown where to start on the path of learning to draw, and that they listened carefully and responded well to my suggestions and tips, so that when the six sessions ended and we looked back through our sketchbooks, everyone had made real improvements and they could clearly see their own progress.

I think I learned as much as they did and I now know how to structure my next course which will be designed to take them to the next level. Watch this space.

Al Fresco – En Plein Air – Urban Sketching – What is this all about?

Regular readers will know that I am never happier than when sitting in the corner of a muddy field or boatyard and sketching or painting from nature, especially if the weather is warm and dry. Some call it Al Fresco, others En Plein Air, and Urban sketching is the newest and latest trend, with groups forming up in big cities and smaller towns all over the world. I recently joined in with the Urban Sketchers Canterbury having found them on Facebook, and even a bitterly cold wind didn’t stop about 40 people turning up and sketching in and around Dane John Park for 2 hours, ending in a local pub to exchange banter and sketchbooks with an occasional drink to keep out the cold. Most enjoyable, and a lovely way to improve your sketching skills. If you put ‘Urban Sketchers’ into Google, you’ll get the idea.

I'm happy when painting

I’m happy when painting

This leads me on to my next challenge. I have been asked to plan a series of Al Fresco painting days for our local Art Society. I decided to go one step further and open it up to anyone who would like to try painting or drawing out of doors on warm and dry days. It starts on 19th May and continues on most Thursday’s until early September.  I prefer to start about 9.30 – 10 am and to reward my ‘hard work’ with coffee or food afterwards, usually about lunchtime. I can’t attend all venues, but others will. Remember this is a self-help group, with no formal leadership or tuition, just a group of friendly people who prefer to work out doors from nature, in good company. You are also invited to visit and join in the conversation in our Facebook Group:  KENT PLEIN AIR PAINTERS.  where all the dates and venues are to be found.

If you live in East Kent and want to improve your sketching or painting – you know what to do!

How to get creative – for less than £5 – I can show you the way!

Every time I go out doors to draw or paint I meet passers by who take a quick furtive look at my work and say “I can’t Draw”  or “I wish I could Draw” or “I can’t draw but I do like Painting”,

my outdoor set up

my outdoor set up

and then they say “It must be so relaxing”! I wouldn’t mind a £1 for every time I’ve heard that. Drawing and Painting can indeed be very theraputic, and can relieve stress and be very relaxing.

What onlookers don’t see is the brain working rapidly to try to decide how to deal with the problems before me, especially when using watercolour, when I need to know how many washes I’ll use, where to place them and which colours I’ll choose, to give a pleasing result, and how I’ll capture the light which is so essential for a successful painting.

Many people don’t realise that being able to draw with confidence is such a useful and valuable skill.

After all, how can a craft that requires only a couple of pencils and a sketchbook or two, costing less than £5 be valuable?

It certainly doesn’t require expensive one to one tuition, or regular lessons, unlike learning to play the piano, or violin, and you don’t even need a piano. So it is hard to understand why more people don’t take up sketching and drawing.

Being able to draw will change your life in unimagined ways – It will teach you to ‘see like an artist’, which is very different from the way most people see things, it will also help you re-appraise the art all around you, and give you the ability to discuss and debate art in a clearer manner. You will be a better communicator, and perhaps more valuable to an employer, as you will notice things others miss. You may choose to go on and learn how to paint, and if you do, your paintings will be more successful than someone who doesn’t draw well.

If you’ve always wanted to draw, but don’t know where to start, let me offer some FREE help. Send for my

Ten Top Tips – Learning to Draw It’ll get you started and will help unlock your hidden creativity.

You can fill in the form on this page,  or read my story here.

Up the creek 1/2 Imp watercolour

Up the creek 1/2 Imp watercolour

I’ve hardly mentioned all the health benefits from improved creativity, such as:

enhanced brain development, being more observant, people with Alzheimers often notice improved memory and recall, benefits from being able to express ones inner thoughts and feelings, it also helps with shyness, autism and self-esteem.  For an excellent discussion of the many health benefits, click here.

News from the Studio

Since Christmas, I have been very busy with several projects which I wish to develop. The first is to paint watercolour landscapes in a more exciting way, on larger paper (1/2 Imperial size) 22″ x 15″ approx. I’m really enjoying this, having put it off for several years, but now I’m hooked. This started when I managed to buy an original Edward Wesson watercolour, and learned that he always worked at this size. Another benefit is that it helps you ‘loosen up’, and become less interested in minute detail, having to use larger brushes and more water.

Another project was to teach my first Drawing class – twelve students in six sessions, and I am really enjoying this, particularly the planning, and preparations, and finding out which ideas work well in class. Later this year I will make this course available on line, so anyone can have a go.

Another project for this summer is to switch from Acrylics to Oils when painting ‘en plein air’ I’ll let you know how this goes next time. Don’t miss it! Meanwhile here are some of my recent works:

Learn to Draw – In easy steps – To impress your friends!

Would you like to learn how to improve your drawing skills?

Shoppers and visitors in Westgate Canterbury

Shoppers and visitors in Westgate Canterbury

I taught myself how to draw, many years ago after realising that my paintings were not improving.

You see, – I had no real urge to draw but just wanted to paint and I was in a hurry!

Does this ring a bell with you?  So I got myself a sketchbook and some pencils and did a little each day, but no more than one and a half hours a week. and it cost me less than £5 to get started.

Looking back now and seeing how popular my paintings have become, I thought it was time to pass on my knowledge so I began to teach small groups at a time, and to help people struggling with various local art projects.

As a result, I produced a FREE document,  “MY 10 TOP TIPS – Learning to Draw”

Have you read it? It is designed to help get you started in the right direction and to get in the habit of drawing ‘little and often’. exactly how I learned. If you complete the box below or in the right column, I’ll send you the link to print off a copy. You will also receive future news about this subject and details of an on line course and You Tube Videos which are planned and coming shortly.

A page from my sketchbook

A page from my sketchbook

Regular readers will wonder where I’ve been, since I last wrote in mid October, Sorry! At least you know I won’t bombard you with too many updates, and I’m happy to hear your views about learning to draw and paint.

Items from the kitchen drawer make good subjects for quick 5 – 10 minute sketches, I drew these in pen and shaded them with a marker pen. Pro Tip: Put a date on your sketchbooks, so you can see your progress over a period of time.

 

Travels of a Kentish Artist – One Week Only! Why Artist’s Exhibit?

Travels of a Kentish Artist 14th – 20th October – York Street Gallery, Ramsgate CT11 9DS

An exhibition of a whole year’s work is such an exciting way to present the results of my working out in the fields, on the beaches, by the rivers, in the sunshine and the rain and also at home in the studio when it’s too cold or wet outside.

at the exhibition

Proudly displaying some watercolours

In the cold winter months I like to make the best use of all those impromptu sketches and notes I made during the year, in order to maximise the creative output, from all of those ‘al fresco‘ and ‘en plein air‘ opportunities.

This year, I have continued to specialise with my favourite medium, Watercolour, which never fails to intrigue me, watching it run down the page in a seemingly uncontrolled manner, under my watchful eye, and then seeing it blend and allowing it to merge with other washes. The process is often magical, sometimes almost out of control, and sometimes its a disaster. This is why so many people over the years, have told me they switched to other mediums like acrylics or pastels or oils. ‘easier’ mediums, they keep telling me. It’s also why I continue to persevere and to experiment, because I know there is so much more to learn with watercolours.

Another medium of choice for me this year was Acrylics. I have been using them in the studio for a few years now, but this year I took them outside, to use in the warmer weather, where they try to dry incredibly quickly, causing all sorts of problems, so that was another challenge to be overcome and visitors to this exhibition will see a selection of landscape and coastal scenes captured out of doors, all presented in hardwood frames, and ready to hang.

Why Artists Exhibit?

For me, holding an exhibition is a social occasion, as well as an economic one. Artists spend a great deal of their time working alone, out in the country or in the studio, it’s not a very sociable occupation, unless of course they are painting city scenes, or townscapes, when all sorts of people come along to chat. So it is a good opportunity to meet up with ‘real people’ and not just fellow artists, and to talk about the works on view and why and how they were created.

My 2013 Exhibition in Ramsgate

From City Bank to River Bank my 2013 Exhibition

As mentioned above, It is also an economic occasion, when we hope to sell a few works to enthusiastic viewers, but more importantly, it’s meeting those viewers that’s more exciting, and learning what appealed to them, why they chose one work over another, what was the ’emotional connection’? Did it remind them of a place or a time or event in their life? Painting – like all the Arts, is a medium of ‘Communication’ and like all communications, it works best when it is Two Way. So an exhibition perfectly sets the scene for meaningful communications. A final reason to plan an exhibition for the future, is to provide a fresh target to aim for, a new challenge if you like, in order to replenish and update the artist’s body of work.

2015 Exhibition Poster

2015 Exhibition Poster