I did a three dimensional art degree which was great but during that time at art college I realised that drawing and painting was my passion. It was my sketchbooks that took pride of place in my degree show and they outshone any object I had made.
I love drawing and it is always the basis of any painting I may do. You may notice that my paintings are quite drawing-like in many ways...
The following 3 watercolour sketches are from my summer holiday in North Wales
The sheep kept moving for this next one!
I went on to do a painting from this one called 'End of Day'
These next 2 were done on the beautiful Penrose Estate near to where I live which has inspired many of my paintings.
Stunning Loe Bar...
These next pencil sketches were ideas for future paintings. They were made from photographs i had taken on my travels.
If you are at all interested in art, I encourage you to draw, draw, draw as much as you can, whether outside or inside. It is such a rewarding thing to do and many ideas can germinate this way. That is the joy of sketch for me!
Drawing is my main focus whenever I produce a piece of artwork, whatever media I am using. It is a strong underlying drawing which I find so important and forms the backbone of my pieces. I love using colour, often working with acrylic inks and acrylic paints but I often find that working tonally can be a really powerful and beneficial thing to do as an artist because it forces you to concentrate on form and composition in a completely different way than when you use colour. It is quite unforgiving, however, and there is nowhere to hide when you draw purely tonally!
For ‘Porthleven Harbour’ I chose to use just acrylic ink in Paynes Grey on stretched Fabriano Artistico 300gsm HP paper, and all the different shades you see in the finished drawing were all formed by diluting the ink with water in varying amounts.
To begin with, when you’re drawing tonally, I’ve found it really important to choose a subject that has strong directional lighting. The day I was wandering around Porthleven on the south West Cornwall coast was a bright, sunny spring day. You want plenty of light and shadows to really make the drawing leap off the page.
I took a series of photographs which I used to create the drawing back at my studio. I’m not a fantastic photographer and tend to use them as an aide memoir, often sticking them together to form a panorama and taking lots of different angles of the subject.
Initially I drew sketched the outline of my piece in pencil, being careful to get the proportions and perspective right. Line drawings do highlight any mistakes, so it is necessary to be as accurate as possible. I often have to draw, step away and redraw parts of my drawing many times until I’m happy with it.
I really loved drawing all the fishermen’s equipment which had just been unloaded off a boat and stacked at the side. I thought this gave a different view of Porthleven to that I’m used to seeing being drawn or painted by other artists and really showed the atmosphere of this lovely little, working harbour.
Once I was satisfied with the pencil drawing, I started to redraw the outline in ink. Usually, when I’m producing an acrylic ink drawing, I use a dipping pen but as this had such fine detail, I decided to use fine line pens, as I find that they give me much more control over the thickness and quality of line.
For this drawing I used Copic Multiliners in black, in thicknesses, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5. They give a lovely smooth line in a great variety of thicknesses and the nibs and ink are replaceable, which is particularly useful for the very thin nibs as they are easily damaged.
Finally I started to ink in all the different tones by building up layers of washes of Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink in Paynes Grey. The ink is permanent, and unlike watercolour, once it is on the paper, that’s it so it is very important to build up the shades slowly and carefully.
It is at this point that the drawing really starts coming to life and that it seems to start to jump off the paper! I particularly enjoyed building up the light and shade and textures in the fishermen’s equipment and especially the pile of rope. This was where having strong lighting really helped the picture as the contrast between light and shade made it very three dimensional.
In the following photo, you can also see where I’ve drawn test lines with my fine line pens, so that I could decide which thickness pen to use where!
After I had painted in the houses in the background, I noticed they were too dark. I added some white ink over the top to lighten them slightly. This isn’t ideal and I do notice it but I don’t think it detracts too much from the finished drawing, so I went with it!
Once I was happy that I’d finished the ink washes, I completed and signed the drawing. It is so difficult as an artist to know when to stop but when using acrylic ink which is so permanent and tricky to change once it’s on the paper, less is most definitely more!
The original of 'Porthleven Harbour' has been sold but prints are available. For more information click here
This is an acrylic painting based on a watercolour sketch and photos from my summer holiday in North Wales on the border of Snowdonia.
On the last day of our holiday we leapt in the car and drove up to the hills as it had stopped raining at last and we could tell that there was going to be a dramatic sunset!
I did a quick watercolour painting in my sketchbook which I did inside the car as it was VERY windy!
I used this sketch and some photographs taken at the time as reference for my painting
Initially I sketched out the view in pencil. I then laid down the colours very quickly using acrylic ink. I like to use ink when working on paper as an under painting as it is ver fluid and the colours can be got down on large surfaces quite quickly
Here's a detail of the under painting in acrylic ink...
As always, I started painting the sky first with acrylic paint. I always use a stay-wet palette with my acrylic paints to stop them from drying out and I use a 'flow improver' to mix them with as well as water as it slows down the dying time and creates lovely thin, even washes.
The sky was quite tricky to get right! It was such a dramatic sky, but I also wanted the clouds to look not too solid which was quite a struggle! I used lots of thin washes of lots of greys to achieve this.
I loved painting the golds and oranges of the setting sun.
It was time to start on the hills in the background. They had a pale, misty lilac hue which made them recede into the background and parts of them were obscured by the clouds.
As I worked on the green hills farther forwards, I used glazes of white and green to push them back and lessened this for the hills as they got closer. Sometimes I use my finger to smudge the glazes.
I then worked on the trees in the foreground. They needed to be quite dark and solid looking against the hills.
Finally it was time to work on the scrubby grasses and bushes in the foreground. For green fields there was a surprising amount of different colours and shades! I used a lot more detail in the grasses right at the front of the picture, again to give the perception of depth
The finished painting
The colours look different in the final photograph as the progress shots were only taken with the camera on my phone!
For more information about buying prints etc click here
My husband (an amateur photographer) and I can often be seen out and about in Cornwall looking for inspiration. Often we will drive past a lane, park and wander up it to see where it goes!
On one such inspiration search, we found this lovely bridleway running up beside a farm near Godolphin. I really fancied having a go at a large painting and decided on a 100 x 50cm canvas which is the largest I'd ever painted!
I started by doing a very loose under painting using very watered down burnt umber and idantherene blue.
It was great sketching this out in such a loose way and the painting seemed to take shape straight away.
I then lay down the colours quite quickly and loosely over the top. It was already feeling 3 dimensional but I still had a looooong way to go!
The sky had to be done next as a lot of the trees would be overlapping it, I spent quite a lot of time getting that rich, turquoise blue that Cornish skies have and the puffy clouds.
There are a surprising amount of shades and colours that make up a 'white' cloud!
Next I worked on the lovely patchwork of fields in the background.
There needed to be the suggestion of trees and bushes separating the fields.
I started working on the bushes in the foreground on the left hand side. Here you can see the details of the veins in the leaves and the light catching them
I had to build up many layers of twigs and branches in the bare bush on the left hand side.
More foreground leaves
Many layers of twigs and branches had to be applied..
I then concentrated on the trees farther back and the dark bushes receding back out of the painting.
Next to be painted were the bushes on the right hand side. These were mostly in shadow with little highlights where the sun was breaking through.
I then worked on the path with it's deep, muddy furrows made by the farm vehicles with grass in between . I was very mindful of there being more detail nearer the front of the painting to show depth. I looked very carefully at the way the sunlight was coming through the bushes, creating dappled light on the path
I still wasn't happy with the scrubby bush on the left so i tackled it again. In this case less is more definitely did not apply! It needed many, many layers.
Finally it was time to put in the twisty, gnarly tree on the right. It was quite nerve wracking painting over so much of what I had already painted!
A detail showing the complex, twisted branches.
Finally it was done! Phew! It took over 40 hours of painting and was a real labour of love! I love the mysterious quality to it. Where does the path lead? Should you stay on the path? It is for the viewer to decide...
Some of you may know that almost exactly 1 year ago I became a member of The Lizard Art Cooperative. This blog is about my experiences of being in an art cooperative, what you can expect and the opportunities it has opened up for me.
In March 2015 I submitted my work to the Lizard Art Open Spring Fair. I would really encourage any aspiring artist to find out about any local open exhibitions and have a go. It gets your work out there and who knows what opportunities may arise from it!
Luckily all 3 of my pieces were accepted and it was great to see my work up in this lovely gallery in the heart of the Lizard in deepest West Cornwall!
I was then asked if I would like to put forward my name for consideration membership alongside other local artists. The maximum number of members is 15 and the criteria for being a member is to be based on or near The Lizard in Cornwall and to bring something different to the group.
I was absolutely delighted to be accepted into membership and started exhibiting from April 2015
Lizard Art rents the lovely Stableyard Gallery on the Trelowarren Estate near Helston, 'The Gateway to the Lizard'.It is a beautiful rural setting with a restaurant, craft gallery and beautiful walks all on the estate too.
Each member has a space approximately 2m wide in which to hang their work. This changes position with each new exhibition.
We have a Spring Art Fair to start our season off each year which is open to all Cornwall based artists. We then have 3 members exhibitions running from April until the end of October when we shut for the winter months
We take turns in stewarding the gallery which is open daily throughout our open season. I think this is great as we get a chance to meet the people viewing our work and the people coming to the gallery always have an opportunity to meet with one of the artists.
As this is a cooperative, any funds raised by the charging of commission goes straight back into the gallery and this winter we were able to put a fantastic new lighting system in.
Being part of Lizard Art has been great as it can be quite isolating working as an artist. We meet together once a month to organise the running of the gallery, but also socalise too. It's been very encouraging!
Also it has been a great discipline to paint for the exhibitions as we aim to put new work in each time
Each year we support a charity and this year our chosen charity is The St Petroc's Society which supports the homeless in Cornwall. We have produced a pack of 13 of our member's postcard and are selling them in a pack to support this cause.
Being part of Lizard Art really has been a great experience and I hope it will be for a long time to come!
If you would like to visit Lizard Art, the gallery address is :
Lizard Art Stableyard Gallery,