Thursday, August 31, 2017

Roadside Painting


My most favourite way of working is to travel the highways and byways of France, stopping to paint whenever something catches my eye.  Today it was the wonderful Walnut Orchards that are plentiful in this area.  When it is really hot they have such depths of dark blue green shade, that just to look at them cools you down!
Traveling this trip in extream luxury in my "mobile studio" enough room for all my equipment and enough space for me, and my glamorous assistant, to live comfortably.  We can stop, make some lunch, make use of a handy picknic table to paint on, then move on.

I have watercolour paints in many different containers to suit all occasions. Enough time for a proper painting session and I can get out these shown here. Once upon a time many years ago they started life as a nifty little set of draws holding screws and washers from a supermarket. They got repurposed into a great watercolour resource. I fill them up from tube colours and they last for ages.  I write the names on the lids as I always forget what I use most of!

One of my most favourite colours has got to be "Rose madder genuine" it is key to my french shadow mix, with French Ultramarine it makes a beautiful pinky blue shadow... best of all it actually smells of roses!

No roses in this latest roadside production but plenty of French shadow mix!  

Oils and watercolours are equal contenders for a painting session, not quite sure yet how I decide which to use, it must be instinct but I can say that I am throughly enjoying this painting road trip. 
You can see all of the paintings from this trip, updated as I travel along, on my website. There will also be an exhibition of them in October.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Plein Air Pochade Box

A very fine fellow in the village, an artisan carpenter, has produced a custom designed plein air painting box for me.  We came up with the design together, me saying what I wanted it to do and he refining and making it work.  It is perfect.
Made from lovely beech wood, planed especially, and beech ply.  It has a very cunning, but simple, device of holding many different sized boards in place.  It grips them firmly but discreetly, avoiding the usual big grab space that can be left on plein air studies.
It has a large space for a removeable (for occasional cleaning) perspex pallett.  It has pretty brass wing nuts and blots, for easy adjustments.
It has multiple holes to hold paintbrushes and little turps buckets.  It is waxed with beautiful smelling "black bison wax"
It folds away very neatly and fits into my old painting rucsac well.  Everything sits securely on top of a wooden tripod.  I prefer wood, I like things to be a little retro (I think it is because I like to imagine that I am living in the 19th century, with a beard and chatting away to my artistic heroes while we paint together in the French countryside)
Anyway, musings aside I couldn't be happier with my new plein air pochade box.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

A Sense of Light and Heat.

I am gearing up for a glorious painting trip to France.  Six weeks in my mobile studio (which is a lot more salubrious than the last van I went to France in.  This time we live in colourful luxury and the painting gear has a space of its own, in other words, we don't have to sleep curled up around easels and rolls of paper.
This picture, is a work in progress, large-ish, 80 x 60 cm, it is me warming up to try to capture a sense of light and heat in Provence.
This is it in an early stage.  I love seeing how paintings develop, its fascinating for me to see the marks that I make, which bits do I think are important, how does my painting handwriting look.  Its me without makeup...if I wore any!
Here is a finished work, my Mothers garden in the Cotswolds, again trying to capture that sense of light.  On the French painting trip I shall be painting a lot of Plein Air work, which I will blog and post up as they are done.  Alongside that I am hoping to make a few larger paintings, like these ones.  I hope that you will follow my progress.
Starting in the Brittany, then down to the Vendee, then towards the Camargue, paying homage to Vincent in Arles, then following his journey north to Auvers-sur-Oise.  On the way I shall be visiting a lot of French gardens, including Monet's at Giverny,  and trying to capture that elusive sense of light and heat.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Paintbox Evolution

Having used my original SW-designed-and-built-revolutionary-hold-many-paint-pans-as-you-could-wish-for watercolour box for a few months, it has evolved.
It needed to be smaller, so it could fit into my many bags, I have a need to wander this earth with the means to paint always at hand.  I think its like having a security blanket, I always feel OK if I have some painting gear with me, not just a tube of paint or a brush, not even a pencil and sketchbook but almost a complete studio...in miniature!  "its OK BBC News, I can explain what happened...look I painted it!"
Anyway, to put it another way, I have improved the box that I made in March.
So now I present:  The All Singing, All Dancing Painting Box for Watercolour, open it up and you find...
Housed in a small cigar box, 21 cm x 16 cm or 8.25 x 6.25 inches, lives this... 
A ceramic pallett - not stuck in but wedged in to make removal and cleaning easy.  Its ceramic because I am trying to cut down on the amount of plastic that I use and I am a bit in love with old fashioned style art materials.
A section for brushes to stand in waiting - a habit that I picked up while working in Poland in the film Loving Vincent, having the brushes that I used at hand is, well, very handy!
A linen lined section to hold my brushes - secure and safe and lovingly wrapped, brushes are so important and, especially with watercolour brushes, so delicate.  I have a lot of brushes but about six firm favorites that I always use...so this is their place.
Little wooden lids - these are to protect the paints from getting paint on each other while in transit.  There is no reason for the little wooden lids being cut up (not very neatly I will add) other that I was making this with what materials I had on hand in the studio...its a prototype you know!

Snuggly brushes revealed as well as the gouache section (sounds like a bit of an orchestra) I like to have a little gouache on hand, mainly white, zink and permanent as well as a lemon yellow. Very useful.

And here it is, open and ready for action.
I do have larger boxes full of watercolour paint, I will do another post about them later, this sort of set up however is what I have with me at all times, it comes on my travels and I use it to paint my sketchbooks that end up in opening frames...one of which has been selected for The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition this year.  Which is very exciting indeed.
I have also designed a plein air oil painting box, I couldn't find one that worked for me so I designed what I wanted and have got a genius woodworking friend to make it up, if it works I will be showing it here...very soon.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Glassy Water, February 14th

Glassy Water, February 14th
9.84 x 7.87 ins
I am putting my smaller plein air paintings out there, all sold unframed, directly from the studio, postage and packing is included in the price.  Watch this space or visit the page on my website.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Painting from The Water



I have an exciting new project...I know that I say that a lot but this is really exciting.
I am, with the help of my glamorous assistant, (he is doing all the hard work) restoring this beautiful little 8 foot, clinker built, dinghy.  


Because, this is where I live... I want, need and have to go out onto the water to paint.  I want to be under my own steam.  Painting is a solitary discipline, it takes time and therefore must be attempted when alone...so I need a little boat.
This is she, in the back garden getting a lot of love and attention, Dutch oil for the wooden interior.  She has wooden oars and will will have a little center board and rudder, I will make a sail, called a dipping lug, out of stripy fabric, (not traditional but I dont care)
She is being painted a beautiful bright red,
and rather obviously will be called "Poppy"
So very soon she will be up and on the water, with me and my paints and I can do paintings like this
and this
while sitting on her new stripy cushions and bobbing gently in the river.
Happy Days!





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Your Website...Part One

These days, if you make art you probably need a web site, you might already have one but do you have control of the steering wheel? Is it up to date and does it look professional?

I use Artlook to power my website.  It is very easy to manage and allows you to get into the habit of updating and keeping your website current and relevant. The biggest plus for me is that it virtually builds itself using the work that I have put into my inventory.

This is how it works…
I finish a painting, photograph it, and pop the photograph onto my computer.  I can edit it on my phone and use it directly from there if I want to.  I make a scale image as well and for my own sanity I title the image and scale image with the title of the painting.
Then I add this as a new item to my Artlook inventory. I fill in the details, title, price, medium, category. I add tags (one word descriptions of the work) dimensions then check or uncheck “the publish to web” buttons at the bottom…and click save.
If I want to add details like a link to where the painting is being exhibited or a more detailed description of the work I pop it into the details section… and click save.

Then I add images, as many as necessary, by clicking the add image button and collecting them from wherever I have stored them…and click save.



Then I add them to a grouping by clicking in the big box and choosing from the dropdown menu of groupings that I have already created, click amend groupings…and then click save.

If I have chosen a Grouping that is a “Web_gallery” a “Web_page” or a “Web_exhibition” then the new item will appear on my website…as soon as I click save!  
It is that simple, in the next post I will talk more about Groupings and the choices for the website templates.




Sunday, May 07, 2017

Making your Art Business a Success



I am celebrating because yesterday I had my first big sale as a direct result from my brand new website and it made me think about writing (especially to to my online artist friends) about "the Business of Art"
Seriously...How serious are you about your Art.  Do you want to make your Art Business a success? Do you take yourself seriously, Do you value what you create enough to grant it some respect... do you respect yourself enough to call yourself an artist? These are always good questions to be asking.
You don't have to have been nominated for the Turner Prize, you don't have to have a degree in art, you don't even have to sell very much in order call your self an artist but you do need to have a burning desire to create, to keep creating and to strive to learn and improve. Plus you need to be organised.
So now I have another bunch of questions...how good is your record keeping?  Do you know where your work is, do you know which galleries have your work?  Do you know how many paintings, pots, sculptures, prints that you created in 2016, do you know how many sales you had in 2016?  Who are your most loyal collectors?  How much did you spend on materials in 2016?  What competitions did you enter, and what did you put up for selection? And above everything else, do you have a good, easy to manage (for you) and up to date website?
If you don't do or have any of the above, you really should think about it.  Might I suggest that you don't just think about it, ramp it up a notch, take your self seriously, grant yourself the respect that you deserve and get sorted...

Have a look at Artlook , It does all of the above, plus a lot more.  You can have a fabulous system and a great looking, clean and easy to manage website from only £6.00 per month.  That is under $8 per month...for it will work in every country there is.  You also get a great team (including me) to help you with anything that you don't understand.
Sign up for a free 30 day trial, be prepared to put a little effort in, you will need to upload your images and enter their details but be assured that if you decide to carry on and subscribe all of your hard work (on the free trial) wont be lost. So, no time to loose, sign up and get organised...because you are worth it.
You can check out my new and lovely Artlook powered websites one for painting and one for illustration for examples of what the websites can look like, there are lots of templates to choose from. 
Do let me know if you are going to try it out, I am writing this as a very personal top recommendation because I use Artlook and the more that I use it, the more impressed I am with it and I would love to hear your opinion.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Making a New Paint Box

I have used and loved my watercolour box for 40 years, unfortunately it is now full of rust and not big enough for all the paints that I like to own.  I will keep the box as it has travelled all over the world with me but the time has come for it to go into retirement.  I was going to buy a cigar box and make a new one but that felt a little bit too easy, so this is how I made a new one.
Now my woodworking skills are a little rudimentary, plus I don’t own any jig saws or fancy machines so I thought that I would buy strip wood and design it from the paint pans outwards.
I got pine strip wood 90 cm long that measured 9.2 cm wide, one that measured 2.5 cm wide and one that measured 1.8 cm wide, they were all 6mm thick.  I got a lovely length of wood that was 5mm square, I got a long hinge of 30 cm and some smallish screws, various glues and some cocktail sticks. And set to work.
I played about with the paint pans and made a basic plan.  I did some measuring and cut the strip wood up into the right lengths.
With a bit of glue and then pegs made from cocktail sticks I ended up with a box.  The small square strip wood made the dividing places to hold all the paint pans in place. 
I had to add some extra strips of wood to take up the screws for the hinge and I added a strip of wood so that I could put folded up paper towels inside the box.  
The inside had four coats of gesso and one of white emulsion, I thought that would make a good surface for a palette.  The rest had a good staining then got waxed with black bison wax, mainly because I like the smell.  

 After it was all dry I put all the paint pans in with a little silicone glue to hold them in place.

So now it will gather a lovely patina of paint as it is used and I have a lovely new paint box for the next 40 years.


Saturday, March 04, 2017

My Next Book is OUT NOW!

I spent a long time last winter working on this book.  It arrived today and I am impressed ...even though I wrote and drew/painted it. The publishers have done a fantastic job editing and putting it all together.
It has something for everyone, If you are a beginner or you are more experienced, It contains a wide variety of tips, techniques and I use many different mediums to capture people, there is even a section on digital sketching...and what a lovely present it would make!!
You can get a signed copy from my new web site here  or my old web site here 
you can get it from Amazon UK here
so rush out and go shopping!...here are a few more pictures: