Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A Week at Dedham Hall

It is always a pleasure to teach at Dedham Hall in Suffolk. I often get people coming back and over the years many of the students have become friends. This year I had 10 lovely students. Two had never been to Dedham before but very soon fitted in the routine.
We start on Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea and some of Wendy's delicious cake at 4pm when we all introduce ourselves and I have a quick chat about the week to come.
On the first evening I always give a talk and demo in the studio.

Clouds at Blakeney, demo. 14" x 16"

Sunday is always busy in town so we stay in the grounds of the hall, there is so much to paint there one really needn't venture further afield. I started everyone off with a quick demo of the glasshouse

Glasshouse at Dedham Hall  8" x 8"

Monday we took advantage of the good weather and went to Woodbridge. It's been a few years since I took a group there. I'd forgotten how good it was. I did a painting while I was waiting for the group to look around and decide what they wanted to paint. The tide was out but coming in fast, by the time I'd finished 1/2 hour later there was no mud to be seen.

Woodbridge 14" x 16"

I planned to go to Pin Mill so that evening I gave a demo on painting the barges which I hoped we would see there.

Barges at Pin Mill 14" x 10"

Demo at Pin Mill

I don't get much chance to do my own painting at Dedham so I often will go into the studio before breakfast. here are two of the paintings that I got up early to paint.

Cherries and Imari bowl 8" x 8"

Quimper jug and Asters with Satsumas 8" x 8"

The weather turned on us a bit on Tuesday so we went to the river to paint before rain set in. Most managed to get at least some sketching done. I got a quick demo of the cows before they disappeared

and then they were gone!!

Study in White 12" x 12"

Another evening I gave the above as a demo to illustrate light against dark in a still life. I thoroughly enjoyed painting this in spite of all those ellipses I had to deal with.

The week seemed to pass very quickly and all too soon it was time to clear the studio and set up the final exhibition. I like to take time and care over this , to display the students work at it's best. There certainly was some good work done. At 6.30 Jim & Wendy come over with drinks for out little PV and after dinner we all head back into the studio where I go round each persons work and give a constructive appraisal. This for me is the hardest bit as I try to be encouraging yet honest without upsetting anyone - so far I think I have got away with it . We'll see if they come back again next year!!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Visitors From Holland

Last Wednesday my dear friend Corry and husband Ted paid us a visit.Corry had a painting in the Artist exhibition at Patchings. So on Thursday we went to the show. So many artists offering their wares and there were demonstrations in every media. The exhibition itself  was a very high standard as usual. Corry was delighted to win a prize for her pastel of a new born calf. Well deserved too.
It was a good day out and I can home with a new supply of Rosemary brushes and Michael Harding paint.
The following day Corry & Ted went to Norfolk to stay for a few days. .I Joined Corry on the Saturday to go and paint at Felbrigg Hall

Felbrigg Gardens 8" x 8"

The Dove Cote. Felbrigg 8" x 8" oil

The gardens were full of visitors but I managed to stay tucked in out of the way. I returned home early Sunday morning (before either Corry or Ted were up) as Frank and I were visiting friends in the North of the county for lunch. I managed to sneak into the studio first and got another painting done for my forthcoming exhibition.
Monday morning I was back on the road for Norfolk. Corry and I went to Blakeney as the tide was high 

High Tide, Blakeney

From here we went to Wiveton Hall of the 'Normal for Norfolk ' fame (BBC series) I painted chickens whilst Corry painted Chloe 102 year old mother of Desmond, the Halls owner.

Wiveton Hall, chickens. 8" x 8" oil

Tuesday was much cooler. Our first stop was Salthouse. I had to tape my pallet to my easel as it was so windy 

Salthouse 10" x 12" oil

Coffee time took us back to Wiveton Hall. It was very busy as the TV program had aired the previous night. We met Chloe and Charlotte walking back from the cafe and made arrangements for us both to paint her.
Corry managed a brilliant portrait in between her nodding off. I chose to paint the sleeping position as it was more constant 

102 year old Chloe enjoying the sun

Charlotte that cares for Chloe liked the picture and as she was such a kind and generous lady I gave her the painting. 
I look forward to going back to paint at Wiveton. I was made to feel so welcome. Looking forward now to the next episode of Normal 4 Norfolk 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Demo for Peterborough Art Soc

This 14" x 18" was the oil demo that I did for Peterborough Art Society a couple of weeks ago. 
Pin Mill boats. 

Gunby Hall

On 1st July I headed off to Gunby Hall to do my share of stewarding for the Art On The Map exhibition which continues until the end of July 
I got there early as I was keen to paint first and also to see my friend Haidee who was also painting there that day

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Royal Norfolk Show

At the end of last month I was invited by the Paint Out team to paint at the Royal Norfolk Show. The sun was shining at the time so I said yes.
The day arrived and it was throwing it down, cars were stuck in the mud and roadways were flooded.
Not deterred I headed out to find my subject. The fairground took my attention so I set up with an umbrella positioned carefully over my canvas and pallet.

'Not So Much Fun at the Fair' 10" x 10" oil on canvas board

I did enjoy painting this in spite of the rain but I wish I'd had a £1 for every time someone said "Are you painting watercolour?" I tipped the inch of water out of the box easel and moved to another spot.

'Judging the Pigs' 10' x 10" oil on canvas board

This again was fun but I decided that I was wet enough and went off to find somewhere a bit drier for my next subject

'Waiting to be Judged' 10" x 12" oil on canvas board

Well it would have been drier had I gone into the tent but as the rain had eased off a bit I stood outside as I liked the feeling of being able to look through the tent.

Day Two

Hurrah, no rain.
It was still a bit soggy underfoot and I went with Haidee to the chicken tent. The prize winners were all in their cages with the rosettes and made a great subject, I left Haidee painting those and chose this slightly different view with artist Paul Alcock in the background.

'Which Came First?'  -  sold

My next picture was a picture asking to painted. I saw it and had to stop. These fine bullocks were waiting to go into the ring, they weren't there long so had to rely on memory, the picture needs revisiting in the studio maybe to slightly adjust the shape of the animals

Waiting to go into the Ring 10" x 10"

We had to be back at the Paint Out marquee by 3pm for prize giving. There were 13 of us artists in total and the sponsers had given cash prizes for those pictures they judged the best. First prize went to Robert Nelmes for and amazing painting of the farriers at work and second prize went to Tom Cringle for, again, another wonderful painting.

11 happy and now dry artists

At the end of the day, another prize was awarded - The Spirit of Plein Air. Imagine my surprise when it was awarded jointly to myself and my buddy Haidee-Jo Summers

'Spirit of Plein air'

All round it was a good experience, would I do it again next year?? Maybe I'll check the long range weather forecast first

Morston Group

Every year for the past 12 years the Sheringham Art group have hired the village Hall at Morston in Norfolk for me to run a two day workshop for them. In the early days we would have 15 artists attending but due to ill health of many members, numbers have dwindled so this was to be the last year.

High Tide, Morston

I always start off with a demo to get people in the mood, I try to get people working on the quayside to paint but most prefer to remain in the Hall. I managed to get down there for a bit myself first and it was a beautiful high tide.

Low Tide, Morston

I have enjoyed teaching and getting to know this group and will miss them. I have decided to hire the hall myself for the same period next year and to invite artists to join me with the emphasis on Plein Air

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Loss of a Parent

On Saturday 6th of May my lovely Dad passed away. He was 92.

Dennis Osborne 1924 -2017

Unfortunately I was not with him. He'd had a short spell in hospital and was due to go home on the day that I left for Dubai. I went away confidently thinking that he would be settled back into the care home that he'd recently moved into. Two days later I had a call in the night to tell me that his death was imminent. I knew I'd never get home in time. The nurse told me that he was still in good spirits and had asked for a milk shake and that she would stay with him. Half an hour later he'd gone.
I hadn't realised how much time I had spent caring for and thinking of him, it has left a big hole in my life and an ache in my heart.

He was not a religious man so the cremation service was a simple affair. I was strong enough to read the eulogy which I shall copy below .

Dad had a long, healthy and happy life. In fact you could say it was a charmed life.

1941 was a bad time as living close to Northolt Aerodrome the air raids were heavy, Our grandfather was an Air Raid Warden as he was unable to join up due to injuries sustained in WW1 in France.

Dad at 18 was helping out the Wardens, when a bomb exploded in the middle of Dulverton Rd. a few doors away; he was soon doing traffic control. Another night both dad and his brother Bill stayed outside the Air Raid Shelter in their backyard as they thought they may have to dig Mum and younger brother Bob out. He showed courage.
 He joined the RAF at the age of 19 and went on to train as a pilot in South Africa, where he gained his wings at 21. He had a good war as he never went into combat but was based in England maintaining the planes.

On one occasion he was part of a squadron that had to fly 18 Mosquito planes over to Australia, at the last minute Dad had to pull out, none of those planes that left ever reached their destination, it was not dad’s time.

Dad spent a short time as an instructor. I hope he didn’t teach his pupils to do the things he did like flying down through Cheddar Gorge, chasing rabbits, flying under bridges and playing hide and seek in the clouds.

For his 70th birthday Peter and I bought him a flight in a Tiger Moth. The first thing he did was to ask the co pilot if he could loop the loop and do a stall turn. I won’t repeat what Mum said at the time. She did phone me a few days later and say that ‘he hadn’t shut up about it’

He also managed to walk away from a motorbike crash, a car accident and then there was the time he had to crash land a plane. An eye witness to the crash later was talking to dad in the pub and commented that the poor pilot never stood a chance, dad just agreed and drank his beer.

It was during this time he met Freda, our mum. With 3 of his mates on his motor bike he went to the local pub He walked into the bar and spotted mum, he went over and finished off her drink, which I’m sure did not go down well and as he left the pub he told his friend that he was going to marry that WAF. And he did in 1949. Mum and Dad had over 60 years of wedded bliss.

On leaving the air force, dad was undecided as to which direction to take; it was either the Police force or become a teacher so at the flip of a coin he went into teaching. In 1951 he took his first job of woodwork and metalwork teacher at Hillingdon, near Ruislip and then promotion took him to Bridgewater in Somerset.

In 1961 Westhaven, a new residential School for children with special needs at opened in Uphill near Weston-Super-Mare and dad got the job of deputy head with Freda at his side as deputy house mother. Mum and Dad spent 7 happy years working along side each other at Uphill and when the position of Headmaster and Matron of a new school in Spalding was advertised, they applied. Again lady luck was on dad’s side and in 1968 the family moved to Spalding.

Dad had a knack of getting what he wanted for the school, basically he did what he wanted and then asked permission, not sure if he would get away with that today. He and Mum together held many successful dances at the school to help raise funds for equipment. Being a residential school we lived during the week at a flat adjoined to the school and Peter and I often went down to the common room in the evenings. It was like having an extended family. I later went on to teach at the school and had to do night duties and the atmosphere was always happy and friendly.
Dad was offered and took an early retirement, This meant he was able to spend more time doing the things he loved, woodturning, pottering in his greenhouse and enjoying holidays and cruises abroad where he and Mum made many good friends

Dad certainly had a wicked sense of humor.
When Pete was young dad took him canoeing, Pete turned round to see Dad on the bank with tears streaming down his face as Pete was bravely paddled like mad against the tide – going nowhere.
He also thought it highly amusing to give me as a baby, a feather with honey on it. And watch the bemusement on my face as I tried to get rid of it.
Once on holiday mum had to stop him from swapping the signs over on the toilets, which he thought, would have been highly amusing. I could go on
I look at our own children and I am pleased to say (I think) that they seem to have inherited Dad’s sense of fun.

His memory will live on.
Dad at 21

One of the hardest things is clearing his house, all the personal things, and things he and Mum had bought that no one wants any more.
I now have one final task and that is to reunite him with Mum by placing his ashes with hers.

I found a lovely poem which my niece read at the service:
Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


I have been rather neglectful of my blog of late. Life has a way of filling your days, just when you hope to start taking things a bit easier.
I intend filling a few gaps of my activities over the next few posts.
so, to start.

Way back in April I was lucky enough to travel to Portugal as the guest of David Bachmann with 11 fellow artists. The weather was very kind to us and we went out every day to various locations in the Algarve.
From left around the table, Tony Dakin, David Pilgrim, Karl Terry, John Stillman, Andrew Roberts, David Bachmann, Me, Haidee-Jo Summers, Valerie Poirlot, Tim King and (still painting) Michael Richardson

Morning Light 8" x 10"

Ponte do Piedade

We were quite high up painting this but it gave a great perspective with the tiny figures

Lagos - It did rain whilst painting this but we all persevered in true plein air spirit

            As you can see there were lots of stacks in the water which I found fascinating to paint.

Praia da Cordoama

Praia da Cordoama  

We were very lucky to have an exceptional cook for the week. Li prepared some wonderful meals. One day on getting back to the villa, she had just prepped the fish for the evening meal. Two enormous sea bass. I asked how long before she put them in the oven - we were given 40 minutes - easels were up and brushes flew and this was the end result
Supper 8" x 10"
Li loved it so much I gave it to her. I haven't painted fish much before but now I always eye up the fish counter when I walk by looking for a likely subject.

It was a great week in great company. The work produced was astounding, not only in volume but in quality as well. We decided as a group to exhibit our work and have now booked a venue in London for 2018 - watch this space!!  We will shortly have our own web site

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Plums, Hellebores and Muscari

Plums, Hellebores and Muscari 8" x 8" oil

This is about the last of the Hellebores and Muscari so I thought I'd better get another one in quickly. I must remember to start painting them earlier next year. They are so delightful to paint in fact I think I will plan ahead and plant more.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Workshop at Morston

Morston Quay

As part of Norfolk Open Studios this year I am running a one day Plein Air workshop at Morston Quay.

Friday 9 June, 10am - 4pm
Cost £45

10am: Start in the hall, with coffee and oil demonstration,
11am - 3pm: Paint on the Quay,
3pm: back to the hall for a critique of the day's work.

This workshop is suitable for Watercolour, Acrylics and Oil

Individual tuition given throughout the day


 Venue: Morston Village Hall & Quay

The hall is available throughout the day for tea, coffee and conveniences. Also in case of bad weather.

Booking required
Contact: Email

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Helebores & Lime

Helebores and Lime 8" x 8" oil on canvas card

Helebores are amongst my favorite flowers and I have been meaning to paint these beauties for ages.
I missed the white ones again this year, must make more of an effort in future.
I also love painting (and eating) figs so snuck one in for fun.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Blue Bowl & Fruit

Blue Bowl & Fruit 8" x 8" oil on canvas card

 Another painting that I started at the Norfolk Creative Arts. I didn't get as far as putting a pattern on the bowl so found a bowl a similar size in the studio, set up to create the same light effect and finished it off. I have to say that the pattern has made all the difference as you can see from the original below.

Unfinished - Fruit and bowl

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Workshop at Norfolk Creative Arts, Grimston

 Fruit in Blue bowl - 8" x 8" oil on canvas board

Last Friday my lovely painting pal Penny German came to stay over en route to her painting workshop in Norfolk. The plan was to get a bit of painting in but I just happened to mention that we have a very good retail outlet nearby - need I say more??? We did talk a lot of arty stuff later over a few glasses of wine, which was great.
I asked if she minded me joining in on the workshop which was on still life painting - no problem , so I packed my gear and we set off in convoy the next morning.
The Norfolk Creative Art centre is very well appointed. Hans had provided easels, lights, paints and brushes . the building is an old school so the room is spacious and very light. We were welcomed with a delicious fresh coffee while Penny set up the still lifes.
Once the group had arrived Penny demonstrated the technique of grisaille - a method of painting in grey monochrome. very useful for sorting out your tones in a still life. I enjoyed working this way and couldn't wait to start putting the colour on. 
Lunch was a delicious home prepared meal provided by Hans followed by pudding and all dished up in the spacious dining room/gallery.
The whole group really enjoyed the day and everyone including a complete beginner produced some great work under the guidance of Penny.

Penny German
Norfolk Creative Arts 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Demo of Using The Zorn Pallet

River at Dedham Painted using the Zorn pallet

Zorn Pallet Demo painting
The Zorn palette is named after internationally successful artist Anders Zorn  (1860 – 1920). He is well known for using a palette of only four colours
Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Red

There has been a lot of debate as to which Black Zorn used but it is believed to be Ivory Black, which is the colour I used for the painting ‘Zorn Palette demo’. Ivory Black works well as a blue but possibly even better is Winsor & Newton’s Blue Black. Blue Black is a colour I recently discovered and use a lot in my sky paintings now.
It is possible that the red may have been Vermillion; you could try this as an alternative. The white I used was Titanium white but back in Anders Zorn’s time it is more than likely to have been Lead White.
It might at first strike you as an odd selection but the main three colours are just the earthy equivalents of the three primary colours Black being the blue.

cropped sketch

 I was working from a photograph that I took in Dedham last year. Having drawn the sketch I decided that it would be a better composition if it were cropped to a square.

stage 1

First sketch in the main lines with black and red diluted with turps.

stage 3

 Mix the dark cloud colour starting with white and adding black until you have the tone you want. Make sure you mix plenty and then split it, add a little red to one part and then a touch of yellow to another and some with both. This will give a variety of hues within the cloud.
For the blue-sky area, start with white and add a little black. It may not look blue on your pallet but on the canvas next to the other colours it will, you may even want to add some yellow to take the colour down a bit.


Make sure your brush is clean when you mix the light colour near the horizon with white, yellow and a touch of red. The colour here needs to be fresh.
The distant trees are a mix of white, black and yellow; they need to be dark enough to register against the sky but not too dark that they jump forward. In front of these the distant fields are white with a small amount of yellow.
It is very important to make sure there is no trace of white in your brush when you mix the colour for the dark trees. Even a trace left in the brush will make your colour ‘milky’. Painting in the reflections at the same time. The water should reflect the sky colours; paint this around your reflections. The meadow area is yellow with varying amounts of black and, in some places, red added.