Come back sunshine…..all is forgiven.



Ohhh, I wish we still had the sunshine of last week! The world has gone all atonal and dull and it’s so chilly!

I’ve posted a little texture exercise that I demonstrated on the course last week, just to have something to decorate this blog entry!

After the excitement of last week’s course in Derbyshire, I am now putting my mind to the weekly classes that start next week. Beginners or “restarters” on Tuesday morning and Experienced painters on Wednesday.
I still have one space on the Experienced painters session, so anyone out there wanting to have a weekly friendly painting session where you can forget the outside world and immerse yourself in some interesting projects, please get in touch!
I’m excited about the beginners. As is often the case with watercolour, I don’t feel that I ever had, years ago when I started studying it seriously, a proper initiation into its secrets and special charms. I fell straight into doing full paintings tending to just draw and colour in rather than exploiting the full potential of this glorious medium.
Through reading loads of books and watching artists I admired, I gradually picked up different nuggets of information and of course gradually realised what it could actually do when I gave it its head and let it do its own thing.
I’m looking forward to helping people have a proper respect for this dynamic medium right from the start. Can’t wait!

We had a laugh!



Just returned from my course at Alison House where we had a really good few days.

I’d like to say thank you to all the lovely course members who made it such a good experience.
Thanks for putting up with me and well done for producing a copious amount of quality art. I think we were just getting into our artistic stride when we had to stop, so here’s hoping you continue the wonderful work at home.
So cheers, (left to right) Lesley, Lynne, Joy, Janet, Elaine, Margaret, Jean, Patsy, Isabel, and Eileen. Here’s to the next time!

Cromford, here we come!



The watercolour painting course I’m running in Cromford, Derbyshire starts on Monday. I am so excited!

There are so many ideas running around in my head, the main problem is going to be to try and curb my enthusiasm and not present people with too many things to do! We only have three days!
Here is a watercolour of a scene at the side of the canal in Cromford where wild flowers were growing in abundance this Spring. I liked the way that the daisies stood out against the dark water behind.

Dog roses





Some dog roses that were growing near the front entrance of Alison House Hotel where I am running the first of my two residential painting courses in a couple of weeks time.

They wont be there when we go but I took lots of photos. They were nicely set against the dark front wall of the hotel. The same dog roses were growing along the canal where we went for a walk later on the day of that visit.
Couldn’t resist making a quick watercolour this morning.

Woodland walks


If anyone had told me a few weeks ago that I would be walking through a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) ancient woodland assiduously scouring the verges for Broad leaved helleborines, I would have said “You what?”

They are a type of orchid which I had never heard of but which suddenly has become the most desirable thing in the world to see as we walk slowly through the undergrowth.
On our walk we meet up with Derek and Iris, both carrying very impressive looking cameras, light metres and tripods and doing the characteristic concentrated nose to the ground amble along the woodland path.
They are very friendly and well informed about orchids and wild flowers in general. In a matter of minutes I am treated to a run down of all the local sites and an impressive list of the orchids that this intrepid couple have seen and photographed in the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire/Derbyshire vicinity. I see some of their excellent photographic work and realise in a flash (sorry!) that my compact camera is patently not up to the job…I need something better to do these rare flowers justice.
Suddenly I am impatient for next Spring when I can go up to Miller’s Dale and see the first of the Early purple orchids…Iris tells me that Frog orchids and Common Spotteds can be seen on this very spot and now the thought that I might someday see a Lady’s slipper is too exciting to bear!
I am well and truly hooked!
My photo of a Broad leaved helleborine above is a truly pathetic offering, but I took it and I saw it and now I can tick it off my list. My first wild orchid! I’m proud!

Echinacea and Poppy seed heads


The Echinaceas or cone flowers in bloom in the garden at the moment are a deep, deep pink colour and are looking gorgeous. I wonder whether they’re deeper pink because of the fact that there has been so little rain this year? That sounds really fanciful I know, but I have noticed that flowers change their hue from year to year, particularly clematis and that may be due in part to the weather conditions.

Anyway…I am going to do Late Summer flowers for my workshop in September and thought these might be a good subject.
I’ve tended to avoid painting them because I couldn’t see how I could get the tonal contrast with the back ground. And pink is a difficult colour to paint successfully. So today I had a go. Still don’t relish the pink but I loved rendering the form of the flowers with their twisty turny petals. The centres are a bit of a challenge too. They become more cone like as the season progresses and at the moment they are quite flat. Fascinating geometric form within the centres…hopeless trying to get that with watercolour so it’s a question of summarising and giving an impression.
I’m hooked now though!