Friday, 2 January 2015

Round The World Blog Hop

Before Christmas I was invited by Mari French to participate in a Blog Hop Around the World. Unfortunately everyone was so busy, I couldn't find another artist to pass on to so I thought I'd wait until the new year. The Blog Hop is wherepeople share something about their current projects and creative processes. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet other artists and understand the thought processes that run through creative work of all types right round the world.
I first saw Mari's work in a mixed exhibition many years ago and was very impressed by it. I have ventured into realms of abstract painting many times and find it so very difficult. Reading Mari's blog and thought processes was very inspiring. I am pleased to say that I now know Mari and we often paint out together on the North Norfolk coast and I continue to be a great admirer of her work.

Reed beds and bird calls. Mixed media on watercolour board. Mari French.

Reed beds and bird calls. Mixed media on paper. Mari French.

Now to answer the four blog hop questions

What am I working on? 

As a mostly Plein Air painter I have been a bit restricted and reliant on others recently due to a broken ankle but I am pleased to say that it didn't stop me taking part in a Plein Air competition in Norwich.

Elm Hill

 Another trip out was to Brancaster Staithe on the North Norfolk coast with a group of like mind outdoor painters. I do enjoy the company of other artists, chatting over lunch about what we are all up to. Painting can be a very solitary occupation and input from other artists is very encouraging and inspiring. On the day I managed three small oil sketches.

I am using the information gathered on the day to work on larger studio paintings.
I love the immediacy of painting plein air as you have to work quickly to capture the moment and constantly changing light. This something that can easily be lost back in the studio when you have more time. I try to put myself back into zone, trying to recreate my responses to scene in front of me , difficult in a nice warm studio. I also find that setting a time limit helps too. I rarely work from photographs, there is a tendency to be representational if you're not careful

How Does My Work Differ in It's Genre?

That's a tricky question. To be honest, I don't think it is that different. I would like to think that I have developed my own style which I guess is something all artists strive for,  to be different and stand apart. I find it very difficult to stand back and assess my own work.

Why do I write / create what I do?

I can't remember a time when I didn't want to paint. I'm often asked where did it come from. As far as I know non of my ancestors were particularly creative. I wasn't encouraged that much either. I always wanted to go to art school but was persuaded to get a 'proper' job. So I went for the next best thing, teaching art. With the arrival of our family, I left teaching in school and went on to teach Adult Education which I found extremely rewarding. As a self taught artist, analysing other peoples paintings taught me to look at my own paintings in a different way. Eventually I had to give up the weekly classes to give myself more time for my own work. I was becoming a frustrated artist and the urge and need to paint full time won over. Today I continue to teach, taking groups abroad and teaching residential courses.

How does my writing / creating process work?

I mostly answered this in the first question.
I am constantly looking around me and am drawn to the large skies of Lincolnshire and Norfolk
I have got a neat little pochade box that I take out and about with me. This will take a panel up to 14" across. I work quickly usually completing the sketch within an hour.

Back in the studio I prepare my canvas or board with a coat of gesso to give more texture and a base coat of diluted Burnt Sienna.
 Next stage is to block in the main image with diluted Ultramarine and Burnt Umber
 The sky is tackled next using Ultramarine, Titanium White and a touch of Yellow Ochre & Magenta
The clouds and sea are a darker mix of the sky colours. I don't use pure white as I find it looks rather cold.
 Varying mixes of Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine, Magenta are still used in the next stage of putting in the pine trees, dunes and beach
I use some of the sky colour in the pine trees to define their shape. Figures help to give the painting more perspective. Diluted paint splattered on the sand is used to suggest the shingle.

One of the artists I invited to participate is Peter Barker also a Plein Air painter that I have admired for sometime now. He has held many solo exhibitions and regularly has work on show at the Mall galleries, London


  1. What an interesting read and inspiring, thank you Mo, and, Happy New Year to you :)

  2. Thanks for the nice intro Mo. Interesting insight into your practice, especially enjoyed the step-by-step painting.

  3. Great post, Mo. Thank you for sharing your step by step process. Really interesting and helpful.

  4. I enjoyed this insight into your process very much - especially the step by step. I think you were very wise too, to wait for the New Year!

    Hope the ankle is healed now.

  5. Thanks Mo lovely piece, Happy New Year to you & Frank x


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