Archive | Studio & Works in Progress

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.

 

 

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

Painting the Norfolk Broads – A forgotten National Park, or an Artist’s Paradise?

Mousehold Heath, Norwich - John Crome

Mousehold Heath, Norwich – John Crome

The Norfolk Broads are renowned for their early morning mists, beautiful lakes and rivers (known as broads), windmills, trees, wildlife, boats and sailing craft of many shapes and sizes, boathouses, low bridges, old stone ruins, and a few human ruins, sorry – I mean artists, setting up their easels all over the place to capture some of this magical atmosphere.

Of course we’re not the first to notice these natural beauties, The Norwich School of Art was the first in this country, founded in 1803 and made famous by John Crome, John Sell Cotman and Joseph Stannard, to name a few. Their works went on to influence the artists of the French Impressionist school.

Atmosphere is what we as artists are trying to capture in paint. To accurately record the scene before our eyes, isn’t inherently difficult, even a camera can do that quite well. But the artist seeks to capture the ‘atmosphere’ which attracted him or her to the scene. That might be the early morning mist, the sound of the ducks, the way the light is filtered through the tree branches, the smell of the woodland, and all the other senses that the artist is experiencing.

It’s not surprising then why I and so many other artists prefer to work out doors, directly from nature.  It is also no surprise to learn that paintings and sketches made on a rainy or misty day, perhaps in the snow, or beneath a magical evening sky or in the early morning light, very often manage to capture something special about that atmosphere in a way that studio work rarely does.  For the same reasons working from photographs is almost never successful.

View from How Hill, Norfolk

View from How Hill, Norfolk. This is the highest hill in Norfolk.

So you might think we have the best job in the world? Visiting interesting places, checking out stunning scenery, painting until the light fades away, well yes and no. That is the creative part of the role, and it has many excitements and disappointments, not least  when a few spots of unexpected rain can ruin an hour and a half’s work in watercolour, or a sudden gust of wind carries away the easel, complete with firmly affixed wet painting, requiring a scramble over the rocks or a dip in the cold algae covered lake to retrieve said masterpiece. Of course, this is all forgotten when the next attempt is a success.

The other part of the ‘job’ is less creative, and more ‘sales and marketing’, a subject which doesn’t come naturally to many creative people. So it’s, framing and mount cutting, cataloging and pricing, entering into competitions, talking to galleries, planning exhibitions, placing work in Internet shops, writing detailed descriptions, packing and sending paintings, web site maintenance and writing blog articles, such as this. All very interesting and it has to be done, but still it keeps us from getting out there and being creative as much as we’d like.

mount cutting

Cutting mounts and double mounts

To follow my continuing story, do make sure you put your e-mail address in the box on this page. It will keep you up to date and ensure you don’t miss my next posting.

To see earlier blog posts – click on this photo.

 

News from the Studio – Sun and Rain, Wexford Ireland, and Open Studios

What a Summer it’s been! Hot dry days and cold rainy days in equal measure!

But this isn’t a weather report, so here is some of my recent work, from my visit to Wexford, Ireland and then some ‘Open Studio’ news.

My visit to Wexford Ireland was to take part in “Art In The Open“. This is an annual event which attracts up to 200 artists from all over the world. Each day has it’s own chosen venue, a town or a harbour, and everyone arrives and sets up their easels, for a day’s ‘plein air painting’, as the title hints, Art in the Open. I like to get started early, to get ‘one in the bag’ so to speak, in case rain arrives later on. Here are some works in watercolour:

Stables, Wells House

Stables, Wells House

 

view from Hook Head

view from Hook Head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

farm in wexford

farm in county wexford

You can see the variety of subjects chosen, I especially loved the farm buildings and the old homestead in this painting, which I did on the last day, which also brought warm dry weather.  It was most enjoyable to meet up with the other artists, in the evenings and to swap tales and experiences etc. Many are household names in their own countries.

What lovely friendly and sociable people and I even sold one work ‘off the easel’ to a cafe owner. The exhibition and dinner at the end of the week was brilliant and I found myself cementing long term friendships and promising to return.

 

My Open Studio was held over the three weekends ending on August Bank Holiday. I shared the studio of local artist, Andrea Chappell and we had the pleasure of welcoming over 80 guests, many of whom were unknown to us, and we both made sufficient sales to encourage us to consider holding open studios again next year.

some Open Studio works

some Open Studio works

Here is a view of some works on display, we had approx 40 framed works, and another 40 mounted unframed works, plus some prints and greetings cards, so something for everyone.

Open Studio

Open Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Between visitors, I managed to paint this watercolour view of our ‘Cabin Studio’, as a gift to Andrea, for her hospitality.

Have you been to Wexford in Ireland? or even visited an Artists Open Studio? I’d like to hear your stories.

Meet the Artist – Open Studios and Art Trails – What’s it all about?

Would you love to meet up and chat with artists in their studios, but are too scared to do it?

Bow open studio sign

What will they be like?  Will I get halfway down their path and turn around in trepidation?

Can I think of anything to say and will we have ‘anything’ in common?  Will I be expected to buy something?

Do you recognise these thoughts? Have you been there? Would you prefer to visit the dentist?

I’ve been there, many times, – and I’m an outgoing sort of fellow. I love to visit Artists in their Studios and in practice, it never takes long to establish friendly conversations, and I rarely buy a work of art. So why all the scary thoughts?

I think it will take a psychiatrist to explain all these feelings, but suffice to say, do go along, with a friend if you like, and meet up with your local artists. You’ll be amazed at the variety and scope of their works, and wonder how they were made. If you’re very lucky, the artist may have an item on the easel, and be working on it as you arrive.

Artists at work

Artists at work

Needless to say, once past the front door, I’ve always had fascinating experiences at open studios and met some really wonderful friendly and creative people. So what are you waiting for. Almost every area in the country now has an annual Open studios event or an Art trail as they are sometimes called.  You first need to get hold of the booklet for all the details of times and addresses of venues etc. The booklet will usually have an example of each artist’s style of work, so first of all you need to choose two or three studios, not too far away, who seem to have works that you might like. Some studios show the works of several artists, so it’s almost like two for one. Choose a day and time when those studios are open, and take a friend along for the trip.

I guarantee you wont regret it, you’ll see lots of artworks, meet lots of creative people, perhaps consume lots of tea and biscuits, and maybe make some new friends. You may even acquire a permanent reminder of your day out and I bet you will want to do the same again soon.

In my area of Kent, there are three organisations who run open studios,

South East Open Studios  – more details here       held in June each year.

Thanet Open Studios    – more details here     held in August each year,

East Kent Open Houses     – more details here        held in October each year.

This year I’m sharing the studio of another local artist, Andrea Chappell whose work is really exciting. Here’s our leaflet, with all the details:

My Open Studio

My Open Studio

 

To check out some of the works in my studio click here

 

 

 

What’s on my palette? What colour is that? The most frequently asked question.

It never ceases to amaze me what people ask  me sometimes while I’m painting out of doors, or with a local art group. People will come up and say “what colour is that?” and what did you mix it with?

As an artist, when I am choosing colours to mix or apply, I’m not thinking of their names at all. I’m thinking is it a warm colour or a cool colour, how strong shall I mix it, do I want it to recede into the distance or stand proudly in the foreground? So the last thing on my mind is the name of the colour. The only time I need the name, is when I run out and need to buy some more of it.

colour palette

my colour palette

If you really are interested though, here’s a description of the colours I use most:

Starting from light to dark, and cool to warm:

Lemon Yellow (cool) – Cadmium Yellow (warm)

Alizarin Crimson (cool) – Burnt Sienna – Cadmium Red (warm)

 

Cerulean Blue (cool) – Cobalt Blue  – French Ultramarine (warm)

By careful mixing, I can paint anything with only these EIGHT colours, and often do.

Of course, over the years I have been tempted by a few more colours, but only very rarely use them, they are:

Naples Yellow (warm), Transparent Yellow, Raw Sienna (warm), Paynes Grey (cool), Sap Green, (warm), Light Red (warm), Permanent Rose, Burnt Umber (warm), Viridian (cool), and Prussian Blue (cool).

It is important to get to know your colours really, really well, especially which are cool and which are warm in colour temperature. After a while it comes naturally, but If I try a new colour, I always make a chart with all the possible mixes, and carry it with me until I really understand it. If you have ever tried painting, you will know that mixing greens can give so much trouble to an artist, and a poor choice of greens can ruin a painting completely.

 

 

 

Happening right now! Exhibitions and studio activities!

Exhibitions and Events

2015 Exhibitions! – Leave your e-mail address in the box below, to be kept up to date, and to get your Free 10 Top Tips learn to sketch and Draw !

29th April – 6th May York Street Gallery Ramsgate Kent (Spring, Group Exhibition)

2nd – 31st May  3-7 Tontine Street Folkestone Kent (Group Exhibition)

York Street Gallery in Ramsgate, 100yds from the Harbour, is hosting it’s first Open Exhibition of 2015 from Wednesday 29th April at 2pm to Wednesday 6th May at noon.

There are expected to be many framed works on the walls by a variety of local artists, including me, so there should be quality and variety by the bucket load! Enjoy.

Folkestone Art Society are holding their Spring Exhibition at the Harbour Gallery in Tontine Street, near the car park and Folkestone harbour.

This is a prestigious exhibition by their members including me again, and I have up to 10 works included. This is a lovely gallery, in the best part of Folkestone and is well worth a visit.  It is on from 2nd to 31st May – see the poster below for details.

Folkestone Exhibition Poster Spring 2015

Folkestone Exhibition Poster