My painting won first prize in the 'quick draw' competition at Art In The Open!

I'm so pleased that my painting won first prize in the 2 hour timed painting competition in Wexford yesterday. 

Participating artists were required to complete a painting of Wexford's Selskar Square in the time allowed. Finding a good outlook I took shelter from the torrential rain in a restaurant doorway with a view down the square.

I decided to paint a cafe with a bright orange awning in front of a deep blue house. I hoped that the complimentary colour combination would brighten an otherwise grey scene. As the rain got heavier I could see the colours reflected...

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Composing the blues

Bluebell glade 24x18cm

Bluebell glade 24x18cm

This study is smaller and was painted faster than the first one, because of this, it has more energy and movement in the brushwork. I returned to the same spot as before but this time with the intention to focus on the composition. I climbed a bank and discovered the 'S' shape of the path winding up the hill, I liked the way that the path was striped with light and shade. The greens turned out to be the hardest part - so many hues yet all the same value!

Got the blues

Morning bluebells 30x40cm

Morning bluebells 30x40cm

I returned from my foggy sojourn to the East Coast to find that the most amazing bluebell carpet had appeared in the woods near Winscote on the Apley estate. This year seems to have been a bumper year for bluebells so I took the opportunity to capture them on canvas.

I set up quite early in the morning to catch the pattern of light and shade on the flowers . I have never seen so many bluebells in an open glade like this and their colour was just spectacular.

It was a challenge to mix the right colour and in the end I needed to use several shades of blue and purple together to give the right depth to the blue. I had so much fun that I returned the following day with a friend to do it all over again!

The merits of Still Life

Tulip Study.jpg

Whilst on the fog bound painting trip to Norfolk with my Mum, we decided to give up on painting the beautiful Norfolk skies 'en plein air' as we had planned...and make the best of our predicament by painting still life instead. 

We bought these gorgeous tulips and I dropped them into a vase, allowing them to settle in a naturally haphazard arrangement. We then moved the vase to a position beneath a spotlight and set about taking black and white photos with our camera phones until we found a composition with potential for developing a painting. Then we squeezed our easels around the tiny kitchen table and set about painting the flowers in a single sitting. Leaving the tulips in bunches helped to create blocks of colour in the painting where the tulips overlap, linking one colour spot to another. A more evenly distributed arrangement of flowers may have produced a 'spotty' painting where the composition broke down into a polka dot pattern of individual coloured flowers against the green, this would have been too 'busy'.

I have been making more still life studies in recent months and I'm finding the process increasingly valuable. Not only does it sharpen my drawing, observation and colour matching skills, it also allows me to play with composition and lighting in a way that landscape will not permit. And, of course, when our lovely British weather is not on my side, it allows me to make very productive use of otherwise wasted painting days!  . 

Escaping the fog

Norfolk, sea mist approaching 18x24cm

Norfolk, sea mist approaching 18x24cm

This is a little plein air study I made on a recent painting trip to Norfolk with my Mum. Having promised her for the last 8 years that I would, one day, make the 6 hour journey from Shropshire to the East Coast, I decided it was finally time for me to visit her favourite spot in Bacton for a few days painting. Picking her up en route in Northamptonshire we loaded the car and set off with high hopes for a few days of glorious painting by the sea under those famous Norfolk skies... only to arrive in dense fog...which had also come to stay for the week in Bacton! 

On venturing inland one afternoon we discovered some lovely sunshine and decided to just stop the car and paint at the first opportunity, much to the amusement of the local farmer - and his brother - and his wife - all of whom were brought to visit the crazy ladies who were painting an empty field! It wasn't at all empty to me though, I liked the purple shadows on the golden ground and, of course, the looming fog bank in the distance.

A very Good Friday

View from Calton Hill, 25x30cm

View from Calton Hill, 25x30cm

Having spent a remarkably chilly morning by Leith Docks I then ventured into town for the afternoon. 

After a very welcome coffee with Fiona McCrindle at the fantastic Edinburgh Drawing School Gallery I continued into the centre of the city to look for a view of that castle...

And I found it, looking across from Calton Hill I liked the mixture of old and new; the classic architecture and distinctive skyline alongside the shiny new roof of the shopping centre over Waverley station and the glittering windows of the traffic on the bridge. I had a great time making the painting and met some really friendly people who had also climbed the hill to enjoy the view. It was the first really warm sunny day of the year and some musicians had gathered nearby me to enjoy the sunshine. The sound of a tin whistle and acoustic guitar playing traditional Scottish folk tunes drifted by on the breeze as I  painted- perfect!