Pre Christmas Offer in my Folksy shop

This is just a quick post to let you know that I am running a pre-Christmas shopping event in my Folksy shop this weekend. ENJOY!

Slowing down the pace of life with artstagram sketches

I have a confession. I used to take hundreds of photos.

I'd see a beautiful scene and want to capture it immediately - I'd pull out my camera and snap away, but more often than not the photos would be nothing like the scene I had wanted to capture. Yes, proportions were (mostly) spot on, and yes the actions were accurate...but the mood? the atmosphere? the colours? No, these were nearly always disappointing

That old man cycling along the street? the teenager out with the dog? people punting on the river? Everyday scenes would be flat and uninspiring.

Nowadays I much prefer to take a little time over a sketch rather than snap a quick photo, it helps me to appreciate and really look at my world. 

Ink sketch, my local garden centre
Ink sketch, Cambridge UK

  •  Can't draw straight lines? Who cares - a wobble here and there adds charm.

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk, England

  • Struggle with perspective? Don't worry about theory - grab a pencil, hold it at arms length between you and your subject, close one eye and measure angles and distances between key points. And then draw what you see. It's only a piece of paper after all!

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk Motorfest 2013, England

  • Find it difficult to see lights and darks? Squint at your subject to take out some of the confusing colours.

Ink Sketch, Coronation Park
Ormskirk, England
Ink Sketch, Ormskirk, England

Most of all - get out there and practice!

Ink Sketch, Liverpool Philharmonic Rehearsals
Liverpool, England

I still take far too many photos, and do use many of them when I'm back in the studio, but my favourite method of painting these days is on the spot with my mini sketching kit.

  • I always carry a watersoluble pen, a water brush, a small tin full of 2.5 x 3.5 inch pre-cut watercolour paper, and a cardboard coaster to use as a mini drawing board.

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk Motorfest 2013, England

No longer do I sit bored in the doctors waiting room or whilst waiting to perform taxi duties for my teenagers

Ink Sketch, Cross Hall Brow, Ormskirk
Ink Sketch, Doctor's waiting room

I have to say, my studio art has also improved no end because of this.

And why the title "artstagram"? In my last post my daughter laughing said that instead of "instagramming" my life I "art" it!

So do you take lots of photos and never look at them again? Try slowing down the pace of life and sketch instead. Let me know how you get on...

I owe the wonderfully talented Polly Birchall many many thanks for introducing me to this pen (Speedball Elegant Writer). Polly's blog is one of my favourites, I always look forward to reading her posts - do have a nosey round her blog, it's well worth a follow.

Artstagram food

Sat in my local coffee shop with my teens I pulled out my pen, paper and waterbrush and sketched my daughter's coffee.

"It's like art-stagram" she laughed "intead of instagraming your life you 'art' it!"

And she's right - everywhere I go I take a small pack of watercolour paper, a pen and my waterbrush, and a coaster to use as a drawing board.

[instagram, for those who don't know, is a photo sharing network sevice]

Stephanie Guy Fine Art (sold through eBay)

I asked some of my fellow folksy sellers if they had any food related artstagram, and they came up with this little selection...enjoy!

Phoenix Projects
The Card Jeanie
The Crafty Bride

Stephanie Short Stationery

Derwent Artbars

A year after I added Derwent's Artbars to my arsenal, I have finally made friends with them!

Farmyard door £4.50

I first tried the artbars at an SAA (Society for all Artists) convention in Manchester in 2012. There were very many people there, room was hot, and for a village girl it was all rather overwhelming. I didn't stay long, but whilst I was there I watched a few people having a short workshop, and I tried out the artbars at a stand. I thought they had a lot of potential so bought the not-quite-starter box of 24.

Well when I got home I thought they were awful things! I really struggled to get anything decent - see my previous post here.

But in true British spirit, I will not be defeated. So when we were heading off to Cornwall for our 2 week summer holiday, I took a last minute decision to bring the artbars along for the ride. I already had my watercolours and my oils packed - I'm not sure what forces were at work to make me add the artbars, but believe me I'm very glad I did.

What fantastic weather we had! We were in the middle of that very rare thing, a British heatwave (the last one that I recall was in 1995) and as I reported in my last post on the subject, artbars work at their very best when they are warm. So each morning, whilst the teens snoozed, I took my breakfast and my artbars outside to the picnic bench and the most amazing view of Godrevy lighthouse, and painted. And painted. And painted.

Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall, England, £4

All of these are highly collectable miniature paintings. They are small enough to hang on the wall of a dolls house or display in a photo frame. An album of your collection on your coffee table makes an extremely good talking point too.

Beach £3.50

They also look great on a mini-easel.

Sand Dunes £4.50

A few top tips:

  • Artbars work best when warm
  • After a few hours in direct (British summer) sunshine, artbars begin to melt. They are still good for using on the brush, but no good for picking up and applying directly. 
  • The grater will not work with warm artbars, but the dog shaped multi-tool does work well, and I find it to be easier to be more specific with adding texture using this instead of the grater anyway.
  • A waterbrush does not work well with artbars - mine doesn't deliver enough water and just got clogged up with thick not-quite-dissolved wax.
  • I start by picking up lots of colour directly from the artbar with a wet brush and applying it to my paper or applying directly from the bar to the paper and dissolving with a wet brush.
  • You do not need to use watercolour paper, a thick card will suffice. Once the first layer of wax is down and dissolved , additional layers will glide over the top.
  • Apply additional wax as required to build up your painting. You CAN put light colours over dark ones.
Seals at Godrevy in Cornwall £4

  • Add texture by either
    • wetting an area and grating wax over it
Wild Flowers £3.50

    • dissolving a small area of your artbar and flicking it at the paper

Cornish Moorland £3.50

    • building up layers of dry wax and scrape back using the dog-shaped tool

Poppies £4

I hope this was helpful to you. I'd love to hear about your experiences of using artbars - please leave your own findings on artbars in the comments below.

Oil Paint Colour Mixing Chart

I thought I must be sickening for something. My new paints arrived yesterday, and I hadn't even opened them! This is so not like me, I'm an "out of the shop and into the window" girl.

Today I thought I would do something useful and make an oil paint mixing chart to help me make colour choices when I do get going with the painting again. I really enjoy oil painting outside on location where firstly the fumes can escape easily, and secondly I have some inspiration in front of me - I don't know about you, but I'm hopeless at painting things straight out of my head!

I'm fairly new to oil painting and don't have a lot of colours. These are what I already had.

  •  Rowney (pre Daler) Georgian: 
    • French Ultramarine 
    • Sap Green 
    • Yellow Ochre
    • Lemon Yellow 
    • Lamp Black
    • Titanium White
    • Burnt Sienna  
    • Crimson 
  •  Daler Rowney Georgian: 
    • Burnt Umber 
  • W&N Artists:
    • Olive Green 

and my three new colours are

  • Daler Rowney Georgian:
    • a delicious Vermilion, 
    • Cadmium Yellow and 
    • Coeruleum

To make my mixing chart I took a pre-prepared gesso primed piece of A5 card. I then took my palette (a very high tech old ice cream carton lid) squirted out some colours, systematically mixed them with my palette knife, and put labelled blobs on a card. I didn't need to use too much paint, this is after all just a mixing guide. To each mixed colour I added white in a blob to the right. As well as creating a pastel shade, this will help me to distinguish between all the different darks that I made.

And what do you know, I was inspired to carry on and paint this sunset scene. Normality is restored!

Sunset ACEO using Vermillion, Cad Yellow and Burnt Umber

One thing I have noticed is that I don't have a decent purple. I thought I would be able to mix one from my new red and my new blue, but if I had applied colour theory correctly I would have realised that Vermilion (a yellow leaning red) and Coeruleum (a yellow leaning blue) would mix into a dark browny/purple - we all know that red + blue + yellow = brown don't we??

Can anyone recommend a good all purpose purple oil colour?

Indian Ink and Gouache Print Effect

Here's a fun way to use Indian Ink and Gouache to create a print effect.

Step 1: paint the flower shapes in white gouache 

Step 2: scratch out lines and dots with a craft knife

Step 3: Let dry!

Step 4: when it is thoroughly dry paint the whole lot in waterproof indian ink

Step 5: Leave to dry

Step 6: Leave to dry a bit more 

Step 7: Now the fun part – wash the whole thing under the tap and using a soft brush rinse away all the gouache. 


Click on any of the photo's to view larger images and buy if you feel so inclined.

Reworking a mixed media painting

It's my local church summer fete and art exhibition at the end of June. Given that this is only 2 weeks away, I decided that it was time to rework one of my local subject mixed-media paintings, ready to offer for sale. It is of a path through a bluebell wood on the land next to the church. I know that the composition is good, but the painting itself is definitely lacking pizzazz!

Here is the original work, finished two years ago:

Pale, washed out and the bluebells are non-existent! 

The original was painted using watercolours at the end of my first year of a two year watercolour course. Tissue paper was applied using watered down PVA and then some gesso was painted over in a random way to give the watercolour texture. A very fine technique and one that I will try again someday - but it didn't work in this case. I was too afraid of the colour, and didn't create enough contrast.

I could have tried to add more watercolour, but with the greens already laid down in the woods I would never be able to achieve the vibrant blues and purples of the bluebells, so I chose to rework the whole painting with acrylics.

I'm sure you'll agree the end result if very much improved!

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called?