Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Commercial Commission!!

I can now share something I worked on for a good few weeks last year as the project is fully finished and everything is in situ!! Intriguing!!

After our visit to Malaysia and Singapore in February 2016,  I received a commission to paint the artwork for a hotel which was being renovated in Singapore!!

I was to paint the backdrops for the headboards (about 2.5 x2.4 metres) and there were 3 themes....Botanical, Waterscape and Dawn and I was sent a brief of what sort of thing they wanted with a colour scheme for each theme based on Windsor and Newton colours which really helped!!

The idea was, I painted the originals and they blew them up onto canvas and also used the artwork for other accessories so for example, they are using it for the key cards and in the Waterscape they have produced prints to dress a small alcove. They also used the Botanical painting to create some sheer curtains in a sepia colour, though they weren't used on this particular project.

I have to admit this was the most challenging thing I have ever done...trying to create someone else's vision ( I was sent photographs of the sort of thing they were looking for and of course I knew the colours) and get the effects they were looking for from a made up composition and in watercolour was tricky to say the least and I started with the botanical theme first thinking that would be the most difficult! How wrong was I!! They wanted a misty rain forest and happily, the second painting I did after a few smaller practices was the one I sent and ...result.....they loved it!! 

I then started on the Waterscape and that caused me a few problems... I didn't get the colours right with the first one... too grey and dismal and once I had the colour right, I had to alter the composition as I had detail which was covered by the bed... hadn't measured it out properly and on scaling up it was in the wrong position. Then the boat I added needed altering so backwards and forwards a few times!!

The final Dawn scene was more abstract and in fact the most difficult... I was working about 25"x 22" and did 3 versions. I found it quite hard getting the concept of this one so one wasn't quite right with the colour, one had too much texture and the final was a mix of all 3 but again before the final painting was agreed there was lots of back and forth while I was tweaking and doing my best to create the vision!! The creative designer knew exactly what she wanted and as we all know watercolour isn't always the easiest of mediums to alter!

Here are the paintings and these were bought to help furnish a large villa in Vietnam as the supplier of the soft furnishings and canvases for the hotel project liked them and wanted them for a personal project.

The hotel has 105 rooms and they are all furnished in one or other of these themes so my paintings are the backdrop in them all. If you check the links I have provided below they give you an idea of the concept...




The Dawn one isn't very clear but definitely more pink than the others and the Botanical doesn't look quite as green in the photos as it is in reality but looks like a very nice place!!

Hope I can get preferential rates if I ever go back to Singapore!!

The work was commissioned by HLA  designers to the hotel and resort industry based in Malaysia with offices in the far and middle East as well.

So my first commercial venture, it was a completely different experience to working for private clients but I was pleased with the outcome and more importantly so were they as they now have a unique concept in their hotel...they could have easily simply had photographs but the designers decided on watercolour and they had the technology to scale up to these large proportions without losing detail and definition. As you can imagine, a big phew from me when they were all accepted!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Butterfly Step by Step

First I painted the flower and then lost most of the edges into the background. However as you can see I keep some edges...if you lose all the edges all you would get is a yellow wash...losing some of the edges keep some of the form of the flower and also lets me see where I am going.

Next I have painted the butterfly..I haven’t drawn any of this (I draw with the brush) and I worked on the body first then moving on to the wings. When you are painting like this you aren’t looking for a photographic representation of the actual subject, you are looking for a feel of it and I don’t mind if you cannot tell what species of butterfly it is I am more concerned that you simply see it is a butterfly. I have painted the butterfly in exactly the same way as the flower though I haven’t lost any edges on the body. 
I have added a bit more detail to the flower and butterfly, added a touch more colour top left above the flower and done a bit of splattering around the bottom edge of the butterfly.... Colours used, W&N cad yellow, quin gold, burnt sienna and purple, DS transparent pyrrol orange, 15x11 Arches 140lb rough.
There will always be a debate as to whether or not it is finished and my view is that I don't want to work on this any more as too  much fiddling will result in loss of spontaneity.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Wet in Wet fun

So a little while since I updated my blog...life and stuff getting in the way but hoping to get back to it in the future.

I have been playing with wet in wet and decided that although it isn't a technique I often use, that doesn't mean I shouldn't share it with my group so this is the painting we did last week which I have finished today. 

I tend to create washes on the paper so although I don't usually go into wet paper I do end up using a lot of water. Wet in wet is an extension of that really in that the paper is wet to start with and the idea is you drop paint in letting it mix and mingle on the paper and I know many of you may use this technique for skies and backgrounds etc. However when doing skies, the paper isn't usually as wet as it was in the following painting and with others I have done using this technique.

This photo was one from a very talented wildlife photographer...Gary Jones

I decided swans lent themselves very well to this technique as the subject matter to me seems to call for smooth lines and transitions which again isn't my usual style as I love texture but wet in wet does create lovely smooth washes which is what I was looking for here.

The idea is to wet the paper thoroughly, letting the water soak in for 5 minutes or so...you want the paper wet but not dripping when you work like this and any areas where you want to reserve the white of the paper can be done either by not wetting that area (bearing in mind this will give you a hard edge) or by lifting the paint with a thirsty brush,, which is what I did with this painting.

As the paper starts to dry you can then begin to add edges....you can only add hard edges when the paper is completely dry but working when it is still damp will allow you to get some soft edges where paint will bleed slightly into the surrounding areas.

Good painting is a mix of soft lost and found edges so this way of working does allow you to get a good mix of edges.

In this painting you can see soft edges to the right behind the neck...both lost and soft edges around the feathers and hard edges around the neck and head where I want the focus to be.

This was a very limited palette,Daniel Smith Ultramarine Turquoise, Winsor Lemon and Winsor Violet. I am adding some DS colours to my palette and this is a gorgeous colour, a bit greener than W&N Pthalo Turquoise and though I don't prefer it, it adds a different colour to anything else I already have so I will have fun trying to find combinations of colours I like using this new one.
Limited palettes work well for wet in wet... as the colour is mixing on the paper, there is a rainbow of colour you can achieve with all sorts of variations and I would urge anyone reading this to give it a go. 

The group seemed to really enjoy working like this so we may well do more in future, it can be tricky as understanding when to go in with what concentration of paint, is key and as always too much working with the brush can cause a muddy mess...so a challenge but we did get some very nice results. 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

My first video!!

I have been toying with the idea of making videos for years now but never felt confident enough to take the plunge plus I have never know how to set the equipment up. Anyway with the purchase of an ipad, a small stand to fit said ipad I made a commitment on a fb group I belong to so that I could no longer keep procrastinating and had to "do" something.

I asked for some feedback as to subjects for me to video and I decided to concentrate to start with on materials....I get asked a lot about paper, paint and the brushes I use as I visit groups around the country and anyone who regularly reads my blog will know I am particularly passionate about people using paper which is fit for purpose so that was my first subject, the sound is a bit low, and Chester wasn't supposed to make a guest appearance no matter how cute he is...here's the link


Would love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Workshops with Beverley Wells...experiences to remember

Not sure where to start really.....

At the beginning is best I expect so it is true to say that I have wanted to do a Bev Wells workshop for a good few years now...probably as long as I have known of her existence but as the journey is close to 31/2 hours from "up North"  to those posh sunnier climes of Spalding in Lincolnshire I have never taken the plunge and booked one.

Those who read my blog regularly will know that Bev has been mentoring me for a few months now and the desire to attend a session has been growing stronger until I could no longer resist and I booked to go this last weekend. Bev kindly invited me to attend her Friday class with the "Friday Girls" and I decided to set off at an unearthly hour on the Friday morning to make sure I arrived in time... I wasn't going to miss a single second of the wisdom I knew Bev had to share.

The icing on the cake then unexpectedly came my way when Bev posted on fb that she had a couple of places come available and I had a brainwave... why not ask the lovely Polly Birchall... she of Annie Arkwright fame!! Her response was favourable and after staying overnight with us and bellies full of spag bol ( from dinner the night before) we set off at 6.00am for our adventure to Lincolnshire.

Now, we had a list of materials and instructions which was a completely different experience for us both, we needed Arches Cold pressed paper (I don't use it), home made tracedown (what!! with instructions of how to do it), stretched paper (with staples) and my trusty unstretched rough paper was relegated to the boot for the duration of the workshops!!

We also had slight concerns as to the speed of things, as we are both very fast painters so we both went armed with other images in case we needed other things to paint. How wrong we were... about everything!!

I think I had Bev rather worried before we went...fast painter, never stretches, uses rough paper, and a firm graduate of the "slap it on and see" School of Painting. However she asked me to allow her to entertain me and learn from her.....as she pointed out, I know how to paint my way and of course I do bow to her knowledge and wisdom anyway, so I would have been a fool not to do as she said.

Bev runs a regular class on Fridays where she hates being described as a teacher. However when I looked up one definition of the word teacher...the description (which fits Bev to a tee) is

"teaching is imparting knowledge or skill"

which describes what Bev does in her workshops in bucket loads. They are sessions full of discussion, debate and banter which Polly and I absolutely loved.

The other thing which made a huge impression on me is the professionalism and extent of Bev's preparation. Her workshop piece was framed ready for us all to view and she had drawings, tonal plans a laminated step by step card and her own very precious book of value plans where she has tried out different options and then on the opposite page a full tonal painting in beautiful black watercolour. 

Both the Friday class and the workshop followed a similar format (though there are some who paint alternative subjects in the classes where Bev will advise and help where needed)... in essence everyone discusses the plan for the painting, the planning part for Bev is by far the most important and she has spent the days and weeks before planning her subject, planning the composition and then creating her value plans, her sketch and finally her painting. 

Once the theory behind the plan and then the colour choices have been thoroughly dissected and analysed, Bev starts the painting and the group follow as a step by step. The Friday class was slightly different to the workshop as they could if they wanted create their own value plan (which I did before I went to the class as Bev has e-mailed through the image) whereas in the workshop we all followed Bev's plan.

Bev is very specific about her own colour choices and is exceedingly knowledgeable about colour mixing and understanding the properties of paint. My own method is much less informed (mixing my colour planets) but I do think my colour choices are a strength and so that is one area of my work I am happy to stick with, though my journey with colour continues and I am constantly learning more about which combinations work or don't work.

Though I love painting flowers which was the workshop topic, I was delighted at the subject choice for the Friday class and using my new ipad and pencil set about my own value plan. I have finally learned how to create different tones using the tools and I was really pleased with this digital painting..

 Bev had produced a line drawing for the class to use and again this is very specific as it has been drawn to proportions which create the composition within the specific size of paper. Those who read my blog may remember I did make mention of this in terms of creating my value plan on the ipad and then having to approximate in the scaling up process. I'm sure I will be able to solve this technical problem but I do see the point of creating your drawing the actual size, then doing an accurate transfer onto the paper.

My colour choices were slightly different to Bevs as I do like to inject a bit of self. Bev had liked my value plan which I used as well so although I did adopt Bev's way of painting... very wet in wet which I love anyway, I felt more that the painting was mine, not just a copy of Bev's.

Here is the painting.... not exactly as the tonal as the drawing is slightly different, but the idea is there of following the pattern of darks and lights as I had already prepared in my plan.

The workshop was actually about mark making but initially the painting process was similar to the previous day and Bev has a lovely wet in wet technique which I really must start to use a lot more for my own work. I tend to paint wet on dry for a variety of reasons but each day all who attended had wonderful results although all very different.

Once we were nearing the end of the painting the time had come to do some mark making both with watercolour paper and the end of a computer stylus, very effective and the whole process of working like that reminded me of how good it is to play and experiment....something I should do a lot more of!

I haven't shared the value plan for this as that belongs to Bev and so not appropriate for me to share. I probably won't share many of my plans in the future either.....

In this I have to say that the drawing, composition, colour choices, value plans are all Bev's and while I don't normally do this when I attend workshops there were good reason for all those things as I mentioned earlier and not much point attending to simply do your own thing. The main difference in this and other step by steps is that we were given so much information to use and take away to incorporate into our own work.....this doesn't always happen when you do a step by step but in this workshop we were given many tips and tools to apply to our own work.

As an aside, I would have thought that this workshop was definitely not for beginners and for the best part I would have said that everyone was a pretty experienced painter... with one exception, Jan with whom I have corresponded on fb. When she saw that Bev had places available she also booked to come and as a beginner with not much extra help at all, she did a fabulous painting......more testimony to the exceptional "teaching" and guidance Bev gave us throughout the day.

Bev's mantra is "Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail" and this is not only evident in her planning for her own work but also for these classes and workshops. I have never ever attended a workshop with so much attention to detail, these workshops are meticulously planned and the results of her efforts are there to see in her own paintings and the paintings we all achieved.

In conclusion I cannot recommend this workshop highly enough....Bev is honest, forthright and very generous with her praise where due, but more importantly very generous in her sharing of her wealth of knowledge and that is definitely not always the case!!!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

My New Greetings Card Range

Well have I been busy or what???

I have a demonstration at Lytham Art Society on Saturday, I am preparing for a craft fair I am doing next Wednesday, my own group starts up again on Thursday and in between I came across this lovely company who create greetings cards for artists called

"Love from the Artist"

I heard about it from Alison Board's facebook page or blog, can't remember which,  and decided to check them out.

I have needed new cards for a little while now and been putting it off as it meant I also needed to get technical.....my son has always set the artwork for my cards as he has all the relevant software like photoshop (and more importantly the relevant know how) which I don't have but it was time I became a big girl and started sorting things out for myself........

So I got a new ipad for my birthday and thought that might be the way forward and my son found a programme which he thought would be suitable (although I have to admit he did say the ipad is not really for creating cards!!) and I had a go....I was only on the first card when I had a problem which I couldn't get round...all to do with the orientation of the text on the back and in the end I nearly threw my brand new ipad through the window and just as that was happening........I stumbled upon this little gem......hmmm interesting I thought, very interesting!!

I set up an account with them before we went away and when I got home last week I got into the brains of it and loaded some cards. The site really is user friendly- something I had checked with the owners before I even signed up with them and they have DVD's with easy to follow instructions showing you just how to do things... I was still a little challenged but then I am not the most technically minded and I think in the end I have done rather well and feel immensely pleased with myself as today I received my first small sample batch of cards which have all turned out rather well.

I wanted to wait until I had got those before I placed my big order of xmas cards and others so I have spent most of today creating and uploading cards to my site where they are now all available to view and in fact purchase.

Here are some of the benefits of this site from an Artist's perpective

1. You can order as few as 10 cards all of different designs at the same cost as 1000 cards or even more. You will of course pay a higher relative cost for P&P for the smaller number but it is an ideal way to check out the quality and settings before you order a larger number and now I have set things up, whenever I add a new card I can simple add it to a larger order to check it.

2. The ability to order just a small number of cards to test the sales potential is such an advantage compared to having to do a large run of cards with a printer to get a decent price.

3. The cards come with envelopes and cellophane bags. I have historically bought these separately but here they are included in the price.

4. It is easy to set the artwork on the cards and now I have the hang of it I can do a new one in less than a minute.

5. The owners are extremely responsive and have come back to me re queries very quickly and at any time of day.

6. Cards are available for not only the artist to order in whatever quantities they want and but lso for the general public, as well as card retailers so a real win win for we artists. It means we have an online presence with a good selection of our work available as cards to a good cross section of potential buyers.

7. There are lots of ways to search to find what you are looking for, be it the type of card, the artist the medium etc....as mine are some of the latest to have been loaded they appear at the end of the searches as they must load in order of addition to the site... just something for you all to remember lol!! If you search on the artist their selection of cards is then available to view.

8. Now it is all set up I will always have access to greetings cards for my workshops/demos and odd little outlets who sell my cards and I can replace the best sellers quickly. Also whenever I want to create another card it will be easy not only to set up but I will be able to add to another run so that I can get new cards into circulation very quickly.

9.The service has been very good and I am told the order I have placed today should be with me in 3 days.

10. The quality of cards I have received today is excellent, the paper is a good weight and the surface shiny but not too shiny... very pleased with them.

11. The cost of the cards is more than I have paid at my printers in the past and they are smaller in size but I have had to order considerably more to get that price historically and therefore lay out a lot more money which takes a lot longer to recoup. This way I have ordered a lot less at a still very good price and will get my money back much quicker.

12. Very easy to edit the cards if the images or text needs tweaking.

Here are a few of the cards that came today

So I am really excited about this new little venture....and here is my site...ta da!!!