Tuesday, 2 February 2021

31 Paintings in 31 Days

30 of the 31 paintings (couldn't fit 31)

 Phew!! I did it 31 paintings in 31 days, that's a painting every day in January. Thanks to Strada Easel.

What better way is there for an artist to start the year but to take up a painting challenge??

Strada Easel throw out a challenge twice a year inviting artists to take part in painting from life every day for a whole month.

This is the first time I've done the Strada challenge and would totally recommend it to anyone thinking of taking part. I mean, how hard can it be to paint every day for 31 days?? 

 I think the main issue is, not the fact that you commit to paint every day, but committing to share a painting every day with the world!!!! 

Suddenly there isn't any time for mistakes so even on the days that I wasn't entirely happy with the painting, I still posted it, warts and all.

To become better at what you do, and to grow as an artist you need to commit, you need to sacrifice, you need to work hard. In doing so you gain confidence,  loosen up, and try new things. Often it's too easy to stay in our comfort zone but by pushing ourselves to try something different we can become more creative!! By sharing my work, I got to learn from others too. 

It's a great kickstart to the year and I found a lot of inspiration and encouragement from the other participating artists. I met some great people and really connected with them. Now that it's over, it's a strange feeling not to be committed to painting, I so looked forward each day to seeing what people had posted on Instagram. I think it's a bit like how I used to feel at the end of a school year.

I am definitely looking forward to the next challenge. Meanwhile, I have made a promise to myself to paint more often.

Painting is a journey for me and I will never stop learning!!!

Friday, 1 January 2021

Daffodils in oils

For the month of January my aim is to complete a painting a day. As added incentive, I am taking part in the Strada easel challenge. https://www.stradaeasel.com

My first painting is of daffodils. For me at this time of year, they are a promise of things to come

Monday, 28 September 2020


Another first for me today!  

I gave my very first Zoom demonstration. It was to Norwich and Norfolk Art Circle. I have no idea how many participants there were as I couldn't see anyone. I have to say it was very strange, working alone in my studio and giving a running commentary to a silent audience, nevertheless, it was well received and I have had a lot of good feed back. 

The original demo was 1 hour 45 mins but I have edited out the chat and unnecessary bits so it is now just an hour long.

Here is the link to my You Tube channel if you'd care to have a look.


Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Painting in The Limousin

Cottage by The Sedell

June 3rd - 10th     September 30th - 7th October 2021

I am delighted to be returning to the wonderful Limousin region of France next year to run two painting holidays. This holiday is certainly very good value as there are no hidden costs. All meals and drinks (some in restaurants), transport, accommodation and tuition are included

The courses are based at Les Marrionniers, a group of gites set in 7 acres of grounds with it's own private swimming pool, hot tub, games room and studio. 
All our painting locations and picturesque villages are within an easy drive or within the grounds. All abilities are welcome on the courses as tuition is on an individual basis in the medium of your choice. There are also plenty of group demonstrations with opportunities for questions. Each day there is a morning and afternoon painting session with a relaxing picnic and a glass of wine. Evenings are for relaxing and reviewing the days work with a drink before enjoying the wonderful French cuisine.

We will be following in the steps of some of the early impressionists along the banks of the River Sedell. 

There will be painting trips to:

Argenton, a beautiful town situated by the River Creuse.  

Crozant, home of Impressionist Armand Guillaumin, with it's ruins of a 13th century castle situated on a rocky outcrop between the Creuse  and its tributary, the Sédelle.  Indulge in a bit of history as we visit The Hotel Lapinet in Crozant to see an exhibition, The Origins of Impressionism, with slide shows and original artists' materials as well reproductions by Monet that visited the area to paint, 

La Celle Dunoise with it's church of St. Pierre, dating from the twelfth century and the bridge, dating from the fourteenth century.

Oradour sur Glane We will also take a trip to this fascinating village, destroyed in 1944, when 642 inhabitants were killed, the village now remains as a permanent memorial and museum. If time allows we may also visit a porcelain factory in Limoges.

Gargilesse A highlight for me is painting in the artists' village of Gargilesse where there will be an opportunity to visit the home of George Sand as well as painting the spectacular view or the local château. Here we will have lunch in the welcoming local restaurant, Les Artiste.  

St Benoit du Sault  A medieval village, perched in a curve on a rocky butte overlooking the Portefeuille River  In 1988, it was named one of the most beautiful towns in France. Enjoy wandering through the narrow streets and portals and see the 14th century priory.  


     La Celle Dunoise


     St Benoit du Sault



Gite 1    3 star 1 x double bedroom, 1 x twin room   bathroom on ground floor

Gite 2    3 star 1 x double bedroom  1 x twin room  separate shower and bathroom on first floor

Gite 3    4 star  3 x double/kingsize bedrooms all en-suite


Prices below are inclusive of all tuition, accommodation, meals, drinks, transport to and from Limoges airport
Not included: flights and personal purchases

Gites 1 & 2   2 occupants £950.00 pp  3 occupants £793 pp   4 occupants £710.00 pp
Gite 3          1 person per room  £1007.00      2 people per room £890.00pp

NB: In the event of another Covid outbreak, full refunds will be given. This does not apply to your airfare. Cancellation for any other reason eight weeks before the course will result in a loss of deposit.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Sweet Peas demo in Oils

I have been playing around with editing and have put together a short time lapse video. 
I have to say I feel rather pleased with myself. It is a steep learning curve for someone who has no idea when it comes to technology but I think I'm getting there.

See what you think, all comments welcome.

Here is the final painting to see the video on You Tube, Click HERE

Friday, 12 June 2020

Preparing Boards

I get through quite a few boards and canvases. Not all the paintings, I have to say, make it to being framed. Quite often I will sand a painting down (if it's not been scraped off) and paint over it.

My main preference for a surface is a linen canvas. This comes in different grades. The one I am using at the moment is a fairly fine linen, which I bought on a roll of 10 metres from Ken Bromely. You can buy stretchers for your canvas but as I work outside a lot I prefer the portability of boards.

I buy a whole sheet of 3-5mm MDF (8' x 4') which my local woodyard cut into 8, 24" squares.

The next step is to seal the boards front AND back. This is especially important as MDF is porous and will absorb moisture. If, in the future, your painting were to be hanging on a damp wall or in a damp atmosphere, then, water absorbed through the back could potentially ruin your masterpiece.

Paint is applied with a roller for an even coverage

Cut the canvas to size

While the boards are drying I cut the canvas cut to size. It does shrink so I allow approx 1cm extra all round. 

A good quality PVA is poured on the board. You could use the roller again but cleaning up is a sticky business so I spread the glue with a piece of stiff card

Spreading glue with card

PVA poured on board

I ensure that there is a good even coverage of glue before carefully laying the canvas on top. 
A quick note here - the canvas comes ready primed, I have known people to used the unprimed side thinking that the linen colour was the side to use.

Use a clean piece of card

Starting from the middle of the board, use a clean piece of card as a squeegee and work towards the edges. Wipe off any surplus glue that squeezes out. When I am happy that there are no lumps of excess glue under the canvas, I repeat the whole procedure with all the other boards. I lay them face down on top of each other with some weight on top. When they are dry, trim any surplus canvas from the edges with a craft knife on a cutting mat canvas side down.

Trim surplus canvas

Now they are completely dry I can decide on the sizes I want to work on. 
I do like to work my still life paintings in a square format so I might cut one board into nine 8" x 8" squares. Another into sixteen 6" x 6" squares and another into four 12" squares.  Alternatively you can mix the sizes. For example two 10" squares and two 14" x 12". This does mean a bit of wastage but it is minimal.

Mark out canvas side up

Mark out the sizes you require using a 'T' square,  canvas side up. It is important to use a sharp knife and cut down through the canvas side. If you were to cut through the back of the board you wouldn't get such a clean cut.

Use a fresh blade in craft knife

I use a metal ruler with a safety edge cut down through the board. It does take several strokes to get through. I usually get husband Frank to do it for me if he's around.

Now we have a neat stack of boards all ready to paint on. If I am going to use them for taking out to work plein air, I glue matchsticks onto the back so that I can stack wet paintings together. I wish I could claim this as my idea but it was a tip from Ken Howard. I keep a clean board for 'the lid' and use masking tape to keep the pictures together

Matchsticks glued on

Ready to go out painting

Doing a whole sheet at a time is time consuming but well worth the effort, not just because of the stash of boards you have to paint on but, just think of all the money you've saved and the convenience.
If you would rather not go to the trouble of gluing canvas on then you can always cover the boards with gesso. Do use a good quality one though and give the boards at least two coats and don't forget to seal the back of the board. You can use household emulsion, PVA or gesso to do this.

Another tip - try and work to standard sizes, it is much easier if you have standard size frames. This way you can swap you work around.

Good luck and do let me know how you get on