Getting into the mood for Irises…

Was working on two iris paintings yesterday, one was a sketch to get back into the mood for irises and to remind myself of their quirky shapes and forms.  I have a sizeable collection of photos that I’ve taken in the garden over the years.  Some years have been better than others and our garden didn’t yield this year.

I use the Cayeux irises catalogues for invaluable reference ( for which I have permission.

So here is yesterday’s work…

This one is called Aurelie.

There’s a way to go on this one of the apricot coloured irises.  I painted some of this at a demo I did for Keyworth art club last week.  The jury is still out on the composition.  I have made the right hand iris very blurred using wet in wet washes in an attempt to stop it competing with the left hand dominant flower.

Today I will work on the biggest foreground flower to make it stand out and see where that will take us.

Making my first DVD…SFP Newsletter article

Hi All,  I am writing this against the soothing sound of the waves breaking here at Sovereign Harbour…they are surprisingly big waves for such a lovely sunny day, the effect of a strong easterly breeze.

I thought I would share with you the piece I wrote for the SFP quarterly newsletter.  The story of the making of my DVD…

“The instruction is excellent and very clearly explained, with good filming of all stages (…) so that you are itching to have a go yourself”
So runs the review in the May edition of Leisure Painter of the DVD I recently released.  I can hardly believe that what had begun as a tentative idea sketched out on the back of an old painting was now a reality; because, sure enough, the DVD “Watercolour Techniques by Ann Mortimer” is out there and for sale on Amazon and on my website.
I have been sharing my way of painting with watercolour for ten years both in classes and on social media sites such as Facebook and my blog and people were asking me whether I had made a video.  It seems they wanted to actually see in real time how I did things like background washes and negative painting.
I was lucky enough to know someone involved in the creative industry (my son Steve) who had already filmed and edited videos.  And I had my spacious studio which turned out to be the (almost) perfect place for filming.  Between us we gathered together the necessary equipment, two cameras, tripods, microphones, lighting, laptops and video editing software.
We started out with the intention of filming short three minute snippets for YouTube, but soon realised that we needed more time and that a DVD was the best format.
We had noticed that the painting demonstrations on the market showed artists producing magical and masterful work but often not really explaining the theory and the principles behind the actions.  We thought that in our DVD we would try and bring a deeper understanding while demonstrating the techniques.
We had to map out the process and to impose a structure even before filming started.  Everyone knows that watercolour waits for no man (or woman) and wielding this dynamic and temperamental medium while trying to explain the whys and wherefores was a challenge.  We were only interested in producing something which would be useful and relevant and of good quality.
We used two main ways to bring clarity.  We set up a split screen situation with me explaining as the “talking head” and also we used an information panel where the important details about materials were there to be read on screen. 
There were difficulties!  many to do with the sound on the DVD.  With my studio not being purpose built and sound proofed, we became very aware of our surroundings.  It seemed everyone was out cutting their hedge or strimming their borders!  All the neighbourhood children were suddenly out in the garden, laughing and playing!
  Then I was suddenly required to become a presenter, talking, and preferably saying something that made sense, in front of a camera.  Not my main area of expertise!  There was also the not inconsiderable challenge of painting confidently while explaining difficult concepts.  Quite a taxing few days for both of us, but ultimately very satisfying and the sales of the DVD and the feedback we have received, including that great review in Leisure Painter,  make us think that it was a worthwhile undertaking.
“Watercolour Techniques by Ann Mortimer” has three full demonstrations lasting 1 hour 55 minutes and is available from my website and also from Amazon.  Price £15 plus post and packing.  There are three excerpts to watch on the website.
Hope you enjoyed reading that…
 Even though I am here looking out to sea in this wonderful situation, my mind is on more land based subjects, namely one of my favourite flowers, Irises.  They are floating my boat…sorry…at the moment and I ‘m planning a series of paintings with them as my main subject.  Starting today…
I guess this might have something to do with the fact that I sold two iris paintings at the Chichester exhibition a couple of weeks ago.  Here’s one of them…

Sales at Chichester and a stay of execution for the studio…

The Society of Floral Painters Chichester Exhibition came to an end this weekend and we went off to collect my unsold work.  Was so pleased to find that I had sold three out of the four paintings I submitted, plus some prints, cards, books and DVDs.

Stewarding with Suzanne, Sarah and Fiona at the SFP Chichester Exhibition

I had a great time stewarding on Saturday 24 May with Susan, Sarah and Fiona.  It was so good to be able to spend time among the lovely work on show, talk to visitors and to see Sarah Morrish demonstrating her botanical painting skills.  Thanks Sarah,  Suzanne and Fiona for being great company for the day.
It’s sometimes frustrating being up in the frozen North when there is so much happening here down South.  Spending time here on the South coast has been great for feeling more in touch with cultural aspects, not least of which is being able to visit some of the lovely National Trust gardens around East Sussex. 

The house sale was proving too difficult to organise and is no longer happening so I have my studio for a bit longer!  We hope to film another DVD at the end of the summer and I’m glad I will still have the perfect venue for filming.

Now I’m looking for ideas as to what to cover in this next DVD…any requests anyone?