A Year in Art Lockdown

My last update was regrettably a whole year ago. Apart from living through the Covid pandemic, (unscathed so far and now vaccinated!) a lot has happened to me personally this year to take my mind off painting.

In my family and among my children, there have been two weddings, the birth of a baby boy and an ongoing pregnancy, due in May! So getting down to painting watercolours has had to be low on my priority list.

So it has been a time of great joy but also of underlying anxiety. And like many artists I guess, I have to be upbeat before I feel like painting.

But now times are improving and with Spring well and truly here and lovely colour and life appearing in the garden, I’ve been painting again. Hurrah!

The hellebores are catching my eye right now and this is my favourite one in my garden catching the sun one early Spring day.

Hellebores catching the Sun

Spring in an uncertain world

Well after an amazingly wet Winter, Spring is here in the UK along with an accompanying sense of uncertainty and gloom which is worldwide.  Covid 19 is an unwelcome visitor.

But we carry on and keep going, gardening, enjoying the emerging blossom, painting and drawing what we see around us.  To be honest I haven’t been painting much lately…I need to be upbeat to paint and it’s difficult.

But back in February I was enjoying adding to my garden journal…I use a combination of watercolour and pen and wash for these pages.

feb garden

I will leave the images nice and big so you can read the words.  There is nothing so hopeful and positive than seeing fresh Spring growth appearing…and it goes on no matter what dreadful things are happening around us.  We have to appreciate that and give thanks.

feb flowers


I do love designing these pages and they serve as a reminder of what was around me and how I felt about it.



The magnolia was uprooted from our old house and brought here and it’s doing well.  love its elegant blooms.

I wish everyone well in these awful times and look forward to better days ahead.  Keep safe!

Happy New Year!

As I write the wind is howling outside on this bleak January day and so I’m glad to be in my cosy studio.  I wish you all a Happy New Year, a bit belatedly, and hope it will prove to be a wonderful creative one for everyone, including me!

I have been seeking inspiration to paint over the last few months and it has been a fallow time for me.  But I sense an upturn with the new year.  I enjoyed writing the four articles, one for each season, on keeping a garden journal last year for Leisure Painter magazine.  Did you see the articles?  They gave me a chance to enjoy the garden as well as experimenting with keeping a journal.

As I look out on the garden today, I’m reminded of my Winter article.  The starkness of the Winter branches against a grey stormy sky.

A page from my garden journal 

Today the crab apples on our tree provide a touch of welcome colour to the wintry scene.

Another beacon of colour today is provided by the Winter Jasmine, lovely golden speckles against the dark fence behind and a giving us a hint of Spring to come.

adj winter jasmine small
My Winter Jasmine watercolour

I love the way the jasmine gets itself in a tangle and the way the bright yellow flowers stand out against the dark background.

Time to be freshly inspired I hope…!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments with your stories about how you find inspiration to paint.  We should stand together and encourage each other, don’t you think?

Spring is in the air

lp page 2
My third article in the Garden Journal series in Leisure Painter this month


Glad to see my latest article in July’s issue of Leisure Painter magazine.  I write about my artist’s journal where I paint, draw and write about my garden through the seasons.  This month I write about the joys of Spring and how you might use collage to enhance your journal entries.


montana copyright
Clematis Montana


The other day I took this photo of some trailing clematis against the fence.  It’s inspiring me!  Reminded me of a painting I did a few years ago…


clematis montana crop
Extract from one of my favourite watercolours from a few years ago now.

There is so much happening in the garden at the moment.  New flowers emerging everywhere…it’s easy just to spend hours standing and staring.  But I’m working up to putting brush to paper.  Perhaps I’ll start with this clematis.  Stay tuned!


Autumn leaves painting

Continuing from yesterday’s post (see below), I did a few quick studies of the Field Maple leaves, as promised.

First I added some water with a brush to the squeezed out paint on my plate and gently mingled the three primary colours so that you can see I have some oranges, greens and blues, purples and browns.  You will have made your own colour wheel!

colour mix
The yellow, red and blue mingled together give us orange, green and purple and brown

I then drew the leaves with pencil…I drew round them to save time.  Yes I give you permission!  Then I painted the whole leaf with a watery yellow as this is the background colour in all the leaves.

While this was still wet, I picked up reds, oranges and browns with my brush and dropped in the colours, observing how they worked on the actual leaves.  Then I picked up the paper and allowed the colours to spread in the wet first wash.

colour moving
Her I tip up the paper to allow the colour to spread down making its own colour mixes within the leaf

With the wrong end of my brush I drew in some veins, looking carefully to see how they worked on the actual leaf.  when you do this, the colour spreads into the marks you have made to create dark coloured veins.

leaves painting adj
My painted leaves

You can see how the paint has blended together to create a very realistic version of the leaves.

You could let this dry thoroughly and then go in again doing exactly the same thing with a second wash of colour to deepen the effects.

And there you have a wet in wet painting of the field maple leaves.  Lovely job!

Autumn-a brilliant time to get back to watercolour…

Walking back from the shops this morning through the scattered Autumn leaves in the park, it occurred to me that Autumn is the very best time to start on watercolour painting or to get back to it if you’ve not done any for a while.

Why?  It’s because the colours of Autumn are beautiful!  They are so vibrant and warm and lovely and watercolour is just the best medium for painting Autumn (I’m biased!)

Why is it the best?  Well look at these Autumn leaves…See how the colours blend into each other from yellow to orange to red.  You can paint this effect with watercolour because the pigment moves in the water (if you use plenty of water and plenty of colour).

Autumn leaves
Field Maple leaves have variegated colours in Autumn

September/October has always been a good time to start afresh on a hobby.  Summer holidays are over…Christmas is ages away…the kids are back at school, be they your children or grandchildren…and it’s time to make a fresh start.

Equipment?  Easy…

My advice- buy 3 tubes of watercolour, a red, a yellow and a blue.  Buy one paintbrush (made of a mix of man made and natural hairs), and a 7×9 inch (or similar) watercolour sketchbook (140not) get an ordinary white plate from the kitchen for a palette and you have everything you need.

Here it all is below…plus a pencil and some Autumn leaves.

I’m going to paint a leaf now using this basic kit.

And the great thing is that I will be using the “wet in wet” method.  Its huge fun…come back soon to see what I  did!

Basic equipment for a watercolour painting

My Garden Journal

In a few days time, the November issue of Leisure Painter will be in the shops.  I’m excited as there’s an article of mine in it about my new passion of journalling my garden.

With the huge pile of paintings in my studio getting taller by the day, I thought it would be a good idea, for a change, to put my paintings all together in a book, a journal with sketches, watercolours and words.

And as gardening becomes more and more important to me, I’ve chosen that as my subject.

helenium chair crop
A page from the journal with some live flowers 

It’s been fun so far.  I’m free to paint and write about whatever I want to.  It’s great!

I will have another three more articles appearing in Leisure Painter throughout the year, each one depicting a different season.  Can’t wait!

Spring is on its way…

…But it has been a very long Winter and even today, halfway through the month of March, it has been snowing and there’s a bitterly cold wind.

I’ve been trying to cheer myself up by seeking out signs of Spring in the garden.  A beautiful pink hellebore has been bravely defying the Winter chill.




I brought a flower in and made a watercolour.


IMG_1513 (Edited)


Other hellebores are now blooming, and I brought some in with anything else I could find in the garden that had flowers coming…even a sprig of Rosemary!





New Year 2018 Best Wishes to all for a good one!

narcissi in the woods

Happy New Year everyone!

In my last post on this blog, I promised that I would post some tips to accompany the book.  So I thought I’d start with this project.  In the book you get an A4 tracing to help you along if you wish.

How do you get that misty effect in the background with the trees and branches showing up as shadowy shapes?

I’ve made a short video to demo that technique.


Of course the daffodils would be masked out  with masking fluid in front of this woodland area.  You could then paint this boldly without worrying about spoiling your flowers.

More tips soon!

Blackberries step by step


copyright blackberries stage 6

I painted this a few years ago after a walk along a local canal where the hedges were full of Autumn fruits and I photographed the different stages.

Autumn forage
The results of my Autumn foraging walk along  the canal

blackberries stage 1
My drawing with some details masked out

blackberries stage 2
A first wash wet in wet was allowed to dry

blackberries stage 3
Some leaf shapes have been cut out with darker washes.

blackberries stage 4
The blackberries have been washed in leaving some highlights

copyright blackberries stage 6
The finished painting.

Some more leaf shapes have been cut out of the background wash to give depth.

The leaves have been washed with different colours wet in wet.   The masking has been removed and the hawthorn berries and flowers have been painted in.

Towards the outer edges of the painting you can see areas of the first wash left un touched in order to take the eye towards the middle of the painting.

Colours used:

Winsor and Newton artists watercolours

aureolin                      Winsor blue (red shade)         Winsor red           Ultramarine blue

raw sienna                   Quinacridone gold                   cobalt blue           Indian yellow

burnt sienna                Quinacridone magenta           Alizarin crimson     Permanent rose

blackberries 2013 palette annotated
My palette with colours ready.  I love these rich Autumn mixes!


I used 140 not watercolour paper.  Saunders Waterford.

I hope you’re inspired to paint Autumn!