Bluebells I

Bluebells I, 16 x 23cm (6 x 9″), gouache on watercolour paper, £30

No matter how often I paint them, I never get tired of bluebells. I think purple has definitely got something to do with it. I have to admit I love the contrasting colours of purple and orange together.

Sunset I is for sale on Etsy, Artfinder and artgallery.

Sunset I

Sunset I, 16 x 23cm (6 x 9″), gouache on watercolour paper, £30

I’m happily working away on lots of wee paintings just now. It’s not a size I’m used to, but I’m loving the spontaneity of using gouache and just going with the flow, as it were.

Sunset I is for sale on Etsy, Artfinder and artgallery.


Happiness is a red dot

Blossom Avenue, mixed media on board, sold

I was at a private view a while back. It was for a group show at Smithy Gallery, and I have a couple of paintings exhibiting.

Just about anybody can go to a private view, you don’t need an invite, really, as they are all about selling the artists’ work; and they are what they seem to be on television, lots of people milling about talking about art and to artists, drinking champagne. A group of passing backpackers turned up and were welcomed with a glass and a catalogue list – I think they bought cards and prints.

However, from my point of view, private views can be something very different. I am a nervous wreck before I even arrive, and when I walk in, the first thing I do is look around trying to find where my paintings are hanging; then I check out if there are any red dots (meaning they have sold). I try to avoid looking at anyone while they look at my paintings (will they buy, won’t they buy), then there are the people who just glance at my work and walk on (obviously no taste). I don’t know why I put myself through them. It’s much more fun doing something else and receiving the good news by phone from the gallery.

My Dad coined the family motto, “Happiness is a Red Dot”. So true, but I like to think of it with additional small print – “…but only when you are not present”.

Bluebells at Culzean Castle painting 5

Bluebells at Culzean Castle, gouache and chalk pastel on watercolour paper

Finally, I added the bluebells with a mix of cobalt blue, white and purple.  I dulled down over zealous greens and yellows, and added final details to the tree trunks.

I use Chinese calligraphy paint brushes as well as western square tipped and pointed sables.  As I said before, when it comes to watercolour, for me, anything goes.

Culzean bluebells, work in progress 4

Culzean Bluebells, stage 4

I worked on the detail here, trying to bring light into the background through the trees as well as on the leaves of the tree on the left.  As I painted in all the foliage on the floor of the wood, I allowed the original purple that covers the paper to show through, especially on the bottom left – this helped me deepen the shadows.

Culzean bluebells, work in progress 3

Culzean Bluebells, stage 3

I love using blocks of colour, letting the types of brushes I am using dictate the shapes on the paper; I started to illustrate the trees this way and added more depth to both the foreground and background.



Bluebells at Culzean, work in progress 2


I used a variety of blues, yellows and browns, including Prussian and ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, burnt sienna and burnt umber to mix my greens, while painting more detail into the background and introducing colour and light to the foreground.

Experimentation and Mess

A rather messy table

I decided to try experimenting today and have been working on MDF (I had it cut to size at B & Q).

In my studio, I coated it with purple acrylic (no reason, really, it was to hand) and then drew a landscape with a pastel pencil; I then blocked in colour with gouache, putting details  in with chalk pastels and pushing the colours around in both media with water. I liked the effect but decided the textures created by the initial acrylic layer are too rough and took sandpaper to them.

I worked for a while longer into the sky, and now think I’ve ruined the painting altogether. The only answer is to use water to effectively rub out the clouds and start on that bit again.  


I wrote that yesterday and when I came in this morning, having allowed time for drying, I was relieved to see the sky looking much better.  A little bit of fiddling about, and I think I have a finished painting.  Chalk pastel mixed with water is rather fun.