There are some brushes I always reach for no matter how many hundreds of brushes sit on my worktop. There are some colours I always reach for the matter how many hundreds of tubes of paint there are and there are some canvases that I always seem to be ordering. So here are my top 10 materials that I use every single day.
1. Zest-it oil paint dilutant and brush cleaner.
I started using zest-it oil paint dilutant instead of turps sometime ago. It isn't as ‘clean’ as water, But it is a lot less harmful than turps. I discovered that when working in my studio all day every day much as I've grown to love the smell of turpentine(!) it was beginning to give me a headache.
It's great to work in a well ventilated space but sometimes in Winter that simply isn't possible, so zest it has really helped make sure that I'm free from headaches and that my lungs have a much nicer time even though I'm an oil painter.
2.Natural linen canvases. The vast majority of my work is on linen rather than a standard Canvas. I let the linen show through as the background of my painting I think it is so beautiful. I have developed my own method of priming the linen so that it is clear. You can buy clear primers off the Internet but I find that they leave a chalky residue which isn't appropriate for me when I want the linen to show through so I have developed my own secret recipe.
3. Rigger. I use lots of different sizes of rigger brush. I use the fine tip of the point of a rigour, I even use a rigour sideways. I get through riggers quite quickly so most of the time I use a synthetic rigger as they are cheaper but I have real sable brushes which I use at the end of the painting for the final finishing touches. I absolutely love these brushes.
4. In combination with my rigger I also love a good flat brush again I have a combination of sizes some synthentic, some sable. Having a flat brush to lay down quick washes of colour and to blend and mix tones is an absolute must during my painting ritual.
5.Old Holland bleu-violet. I tend to use this colour more often than I use French ultramarine, the blue-violet has a lovely warmth and depth to it. I can mix it with different browns to create a very dark almost black colour. I can mix it with white to create a beautiful warm blue. I have tried to paint without blue-violet and it can't be done I absolutely adore using this colour.
6.Brown madder. Like most artists I have plenty of burnt siena and raw umber in my box of tricks but I have added to my Browns collection with brown madder. In the same way that blue violet is a warmer deeper version of French ultramarine I found brown madder to be a warmer deeper version of burnt sienna. I love it. it has a translucency all of it’s own and it can be found in the under painting layers of most of my work.
7. Michael Harding’s Titanium white. I absolutely love Michael Hardings oil paint. It has a creamy constituency and the depth of colour on a par with Old Holland paint. I particularly enjoy using Michael Harding is Titaniam white as it seems to contain all of the blendable quality of a good zinc white, with the bright whiteness required from titanium white. It works. It works really well.
8. Old Holland Naples yellow-reddish extra. Like many artists I fell in love with Naples yellow sometime ago, it is incredible to work with when creating beautiful skies in oil, however I have added to my collection with the Naples yellow-reddish extra. This has been particularly useful in painting animals and getting lovely reflections on a cows nose, or a hare’s ear! I love this colour.
9. Michael Harding’s glaze medium. There are loads of glaze mediums out there and for many years I painted without using glaze mediums and simply used more oil and less turps to create a clear glossy finish. But since discovering Michael Harding’s glaze medium there's been no going back. I adore it’s consistency and it enables me to put a very thin coloured glaze over the top of my paintings. A glaze medium enables a translucency simply not possible without it.
10. A painters smock. I suppose I don't really need a real smock. I have loads of them; seriously loads. But I have gotten into the habit of being free and easy with my paint allowing splatters and dribbles in trickles to be part of the paintwork and this means I'm never going to be the kind of artist that can paint in good clothes. Painting clothes are essential for me and I have become rather attached to my painting smocks.
On my home page I state that ‘I love to paint”. My top ten help me enjoy the painting process all the more.
Why my packing will ensure your painting will arrive safe and sound when you order from me.
When I travel to exhibitions and art fairs, like many artists I use Stiffy bags. These are bagsmade from reinforced bubble wrap, they are reusable time and time again and they enable artists to quickly and safely move their paintings. I love them and use them all the time!
However when I'm packing my paintings to be transported by post I have to be significantly more careful. Postage and shipping can be a problem, but not for me!
Most of my paintings are oil on linen canvas. They are quite light. However they can be fragile the most common problem with transporting an oil painting will be a dent.
How many times have you ordered something on the Internet to find a significant dent in the side of the box? If there is a big book inside there is no problem but if there is a painting could be ruined. So here are the layers that go into making sure your painting will arrive without a dent or scratch regardless of how beaten up the box might look on the outside!
The very first layer in my painting-package-sandwich is a layer of archival tissue paper this ensures that the painting surface arrives in perfect condition. Archival tissue paper is acid free and feels soft to the touch.
The next layer is simply a layer of package film to keep the tissue paper in place.
The next layer is a layer of cardboard on either side of the canvas; this is essential to keep the canvas free from dents during transit. The inside layer of cardboard is cut to fit inside the frame keeping the campus really safe and secure.
Then I wrap the entire painting in a few layers of bubblewrap. I have a huge role on hand in my studio and I'm very generous with the bubblewrap! After a couple of layers I then cut another two pieces of cardboard. Remembering that the painting has now grown a little! Then I wrap another few layers of bubblewrap around the painting/ Remember the painting is now completely cosy with four layers of cardboard and about eight layers of bubblewrap.
Then I put my fully wrapped painting into a cardboard box. Sometimes I will have a box that fits as I will recycle the boxes that my canvases arrived. So in this instance a 60 cm canvas now fits perfectly in an 80 cm box. Finally I will tape up the box firmly with parcel tape and “fragile” tape
If I haven't got an appropriate sized box I can make one. I use a sturdy type of cardboard and plenty of gaffer tape and parcel tape will keep it in position.
Over the years I have used a variety of different carriers, it really depends on where you live! Thus far my packaging sandwich has worked extremely well as I have never had a customer faced with the horror of received in damaged painting.
So if you've been thinking about buying a painting from me online, but you're worried about how it will ever get to you; don't panic the packaging will make sure your painting arrives safe and sound.
If you sign up for my newsletter you'll get FREE POSTAGE AND PACKING on any order placed on 24-26th March.
I have always adored going to galleries and having a nice mooch about. All through my student days I haunted the National and the Tate, sketchbook in hand, for hours on end. Galleries, whilst attracting huge numbers of visitors, are so vast that you can still find a moment of peace and calm right in the centre of the hustle and bustle of London
During my many years as a teacher, I took students to a variety of galleries including the Uffizzi in Florence and the Dali museum in Figueras. During these trips I always wanted to encourage a life long love of art. I wanted to develop the confidence required to draw in public without worrying, and a feeling that the galleries of the world belong to us all. They aren't just for the elites and the show-offs. But beautiful artwork can be enjoyed by everyone.
So on Wednesday, I decided to give myself a birthday treat and I went to the Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition at the National gallery.
With some trepidation and heart full of excitement I went in.
To be frank I got a bit emotional about it all. Michelangelo has that effect on me. Always has.
The initial impact was "Wow".
I'm lucky enough to have seen the vast majority is of Michaelangelo's work in Italy and beyond but there are still some serious gems in this exhibition.
The exhibition itself explores the relationship between heavyweight Michaelangelo and the lesser known Venetian Sebastiano.
There are a whole series of letters between Sebastiano and Michaelangelo - it is very interesting to see the references to the papacy and indeed to Michaelangelo's arch rival Raphael. At first it might seem that Michaelangelo's collaboration with Sebastiano is almost entirely about rivalling Rapheal. One of Sebastiano's letters even references Rapheal's death - "My dearest compare, I believe you have heard poor Rapheal of Urbino has died, something that you must soon be very sorry about, may God forgive him".
Forgive him for what? The story goes that Raphael died, aged 37 from sexual exhaustion! Though this has yet to be fully proven. However his death did provide Michaelangelo with an opportunity to pursue further commissions from the papacy and to recommend his friend Sebastiano.
Unlike Michelangelo, Sebastiano was an oil painter. I believe that his luminescence and beautiful use of colour had been hugely influenced by Michaelangelo's frescoes.
One room largely focused on the Pieta (literally meaning 'pity' and referring to Mary holding Christ's dead body) there is a cast of Michaelangelo's Pieta. Whilst it's not quite the same as seeing the original, you simply can't get close to the original in St Peter's (Rome) so being up close and personal to this cast is great. It was a super opportunity to really see how it's been constructed.
At the opposite end of the Pieta room is Sebastiano's Pieta - a huge oil painting, as Mary looks up to the heavens lamenting the death of her son. What is really interesting is that the back of Sebastiano's Pieta is also visible. And you can see the sketches that both artists drew on the back of the wooden panel. This suggests that perhaps Michaelangelo had allowed Sebastiano to share his studio for a time. The sketches also show the start of some figures later appear on Michaelangelo's Sistine ceiling.
Throughout the exhibition there are many drawings from both artists. Some you may have already seen in the British Museum but there are others from Frankfurt, from Washington, and several from the Queen's own collection.
They are exquisite, delicate, beautiful and I spent much of my time studying them.
My "weak at the knees moment" was the room with the Risen Christ. One statue is an original by Michelangelo which he abandoned due to finding a black vein on Christ's face. I rather liked the black marble vein. It added to the drama. I sat and drew this for some time. The other Statue in this room is a cast of a second risen Christ created by Michelangelo, the juxtaposition of the two statues is extraordinary; one pose is contrapposto like Michelangelo's David the other dynamic. It's interesting to look at both of them; make your own mind up as to which is the better.
As if all this isn't enough, there is a huge 3D recreation of the Borgherini chapel, executed by Sebastiano with some preliminary drawings by Michelangelo. It is, quite simply, breath taking.
By the end of the exhibition I felt it had raised a few questions for me.
It appears at first sight that Sebastiano had learnt great deal from Michaelangelo. He learned about light, colour, successful rendering of twisted figures. Yet Michaelangelo seems to have learnt a lot less from Sebastiano, most notably he didn't learn to oil paint. Was this that Michaelangelo stubbornly did not want to learn how to oil paint? I won't spoil the end of their story, nor the end of the exhibition, but you'll leave with some interesting ideas about the answer!
The exhibition continues until 25th June and I can heartily recommend the visit.
There is always a friendly buzz as I arrive at an art fair. Many artists on the circuit know each other and have done for years. Whilst unloading our cars and vans laden heavily with canvases, sculptures and passpartout, there are hugs and kisses abound as everyone says hello and makes their way to their stand - Their home for the next few days
Creating the perfect stand, regardless of its size. Curating your own work by allowing each piece enough room to breathe whilst maximising your space and meeting your customers is what is an art fair is all about for an artist.
There is something indefinably wonderful about meeting your customers and explaining the work to them. In fact one of the great pleasures about attending an art fair is being able to speak to the artists, find out what their inspiration was, and how they created their work.
The artworld has undergone a drastic transformation in recent years. More and more people are getting in on the art act and now you can too.
People are becoming comfortable buying original works of art, and developing their own tastes and styles. Art fairs are a great way to spot emerging talent, there are many hidden gems to be unearthed. You’ll be able to buy high quality artwork at an affordable price and have a good day out in the process!
So this year, there is a new art fair on my calendar, as it turns out, it's my most local fair and I'm delighted to be a part of it. Norton St Philip will see it’s first - Bath Art Fair (why not be original) from April 7-9th 2017. I have a few 2 for 1 tickets left for Bath Art fair so do contact me if you'd like some. Alternatively you can find all the information you need on the website here.
My next art fair on the calendar is Reading Contemporary Art fair [RCAF]. This will be my third year at Reading. I love Reading Art fair, it's beautifully laid out and really friendly. Again, if you'd like 2 for 1 tickets you'd only need ask...
Click here for more info about RCAF
So whether you're an old hand at art fairs, or whether you've never been before, why not make this April a truly arty affair? You might just find the perfect painting to complete your perfect room.
Beautiful limited edition prints, ready mounted.
I often sell limited edition prints directly from my website. Sometimes people have already seen the original painting at an exhibition in Salisbury or at one of the art fairs I attend, and have decided to have a print of it. Other times they have simply seen my website and can't resist buying a print. It is a lot less scary to buy a print from a website than buying original art as the prints are significantly cheaper than originals, and they are also usually smaller!
My prints are sold with the mounts and backing board included. This means that the print is shipped to you flat. It also means the print is nicely protected. And in addition is much cheaper for you to frame it. I tend to get my prints made to fit standard size mounts, which also makes things a little cheaper for my customers.
I begin by making sure my work surface is completely clean. This might sound obvious but as an oil painter there are often wet paintings in the studio, so by far the simplest way of making sure I have a clean surface is to get some clean white mounting board as my surface to work on that way I can ensure that aren't any stray splatters of wet paint that would ruin the print. I also make sure I have all the things I need to hand, masking tape, craft knife scissors and glue.
My mounts, backing boards and cellphone wraps are prepared by my framers.
My prints are printed onto beautiful museum quality watercolour paper, and arrive from the printers wrapped in archival paper. I remove the print from the paper, sign it, number it and then it is ready to be mounted. I turn the print over and attach it to the inside window mount with masking tape. Masking tape is used because it is strong enough to hold the print in place but it is also easy to remove with out ruining the print itself. Next I apply a dab of glue to each corner of the inside of the window mount. This is to keep the backing board firmly in place. The glue does not touch the back of the print at any point to ensure that you are able to remount it at a later date if you want to without damaging the print itself. The backing board however does keep the print in good condition and can be used again if you buy a frame that fits the mount.
When I post my prints they are also placed in a sandwich of bubble wrap and between two sheets of thicker cardboard before being wrapped in brown paper and sent to my customer. To bigger the print the thicker the sandwich has to be!
I am looking into getting larger prints created of my work which would come with a white border but without a mount. And would be shipped in a cardboard tube. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.. Would you prefer an un-mounted print posted to you rolled up? Or do you prefer the ones that are already in a mount for you? I'd be interested to know.
Thus far this method has work as all of my customers have always been happy with them arriving in perfect condition.
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