I’ll be sharing my secrets, tips, and techniques on how I paint at this week's Fresh Art fair.
Last week, I took the train up to London to visit the Sorolla exhibition and it was truly an inspiration.
Why sometimes my oil paintings can look like watercolour even though water never goes anywhere near the canvas!
By popular demand! Here's more time lapse work for me.
This particular piece will be entered into a competition later in the year. I'll give you details nearer the time.
This piece is inspired by some beautiful pictures from my husband, when he met some Orang-utans in the jungle in Sumatra.
At the weekend I had the great pleasure of delivering two beautiful paintings to a beautiful home. It was the end of the commission process and I drove away feeling absolutely delighted with a job well done.
The story began a few months ago when my client spotted a painting in an exhibition at Waterstones. She went home and happily told her husband secretly hoping that perhaps he might invest in an original painting for her birthday. Little did she know that her husband also went to Waterstones, checked out the painting that she liked and made a decision to commission me for a bespoke piece.
The next stage of the process was him visiting my studio. He came armed with various photographs of his beautiful White Park cattle. I can't tell you how I felt when I saw those photos; they are such picturesque animals. Blue black ears and noses juxtaposed with their creamy white faces make them an incredible subject matter to paint.
The next stage was very exciting as I arranged to visit the farm meet the cows themselves!
I was shown in to the pen with the bull by the herdsman. My heart lept into my throat when he informed me "If I say run, run. I'm not mucking about"! The bull was actually very placid and calm and not bothered at all by me crawling around on the ground trying to get photos every conceivable angle. However I'm reliably informed that the calm bulls are the ones you have to watch out for, but that day was my lucky day and I escaped completely unharmed!
Next was selecting the most picturesque of the cows. I focused on three or four in particular. The cows were so friendly and curious whilst I was photographing one, another would rest her nose on my shoulder, while a third decided to lick my arm. It didn't bother me at all these are beautiful friendly beasts and besides if you're going to paint animals this is an occupational hazard!
The next stage is quite formal where I draw up a commission agreement. This is really important for both artist and client as it makes sure that absolutely everyone involved knows what's happening. The price quoted is the price paid no hidden extras here. Everything is agreed from the reference photographs to be used, the size of the painting, the frames, the canvas, and the style.
I began with a couple of really rough sketches, sometimes I like to do the sketches in situ in front of the animals. My rough sketches aren't clear enough to act as a true reference but they capture the character of the animal. I enjoyed the stage very much indeed.
The next stage is marking out the underpainting on my beautiful linen canvases. This is very formal and painstaking you have to get it right. With any commission piece I am no longer trying to capture the essence of a breed, I am capturing the beauty of a specific animal.
After this it's a question of balancing style with accuracy. I wanted a glint in the eye, and a beautiful shiny black nose but also to incorporate my characteristic colours. Though on these pieces the colours on not quite as strong as usual as the black-and-white had to be the main focus.
Once completed the paintings were framed and then delivered to a happy client.
I absolutely love these two, they were a joy to paint.
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.
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.
Let the light do the talking.
The story of my most recent oil painting coming to life.
I have been working on a new piece from my Town and Country collection, and I have returned to London. This painting is a well trodden route down Bow Street across Watling street heading towards St Paul's cathedral. On sunny Summer evenings, London's bright young things, still in their work suits, line the street enjoying a refreshing ice cold beverage after a hard day at the office. This particular painting is however a morning view before the crowds gather and the street is quiet.
So how do I create this scene? Firstly a couple of quick sketches in the street if at all possible really helps- the sketches for this particular piece were carried out nearly a year a ago. Often an idea needs to ferment a little in the brain before it is ready. Even with my animals, who never stay still, I have to do a couple of quick sketches as that is where the character comes from. With a scene like this, entirely made from buildings, I have to create the atmosphere of the scene. Otherwise it would be an exercise in linear perspective and painting buildings. The vast majority of the time when I paint I stick to the time honoured tradition of "light over dark" and "thick over thin". Even on my signature linen canvases, with the background showing through, I still use this type of method. My very first layer; french ultramarine mixed with raw umber, or burnt siena, very diluted, and will mark out the scene.
In this particular painting the light coming from the back of the picture is absolutely key to creating the atmosphere. So I had to put in a light wash of a very pale yellow in order to see how the light would bounce off the buildings. This felt very scary to me as I never add an opaque pale colour at the start of the painting but I think it has served me well in this instance.
The next stages are a case of making sure the perspective works, a task I don't particularly enjoy but it is essential. In addition I added the taxi as a little interest to help the eye walk down that road towards St Paul's. I also need to start resolving the problem of the dome, the Dome was very difficult to get right. It didn't feel at all symmetrical! A trick of the eye surely due to the buildings either side not being equidistant.
As the painting progresses there is a chance to start thinking about colour in addition to tone. I have used a very limited pallet here using gold ochre and burnt siena for the warm tones combined with an Old holland favourite of mine -blue violet and kings blue for the cooler tones.
The final stages start holding things all together I am able to add in the highlights and some added detail around the statue and balustrades of St Paul's. I was able to tidy up the taxi and add some glorious reflections on its glossy black paint and glass windows, and I whitened the sky still further to really create that cold morning light as London comes to life from it all too brief slumber.
The last decision is at what point do you walk away from the camvas. I'm still not completely sure that I have walked away from this one! It may put me back in for just an extra couple of highlights once this layer is dry and I'm sure I won't ruin what I've already created. Once the decision really is made and I'm confident with my work, I signed it. Once the signature is there I'm not allowed to touch it again.
After all, I have to let the light do the talking.
Last week I was writing about what I've been working on, and I've been working on some more art works this week too; it's been great.
But this week I'm going to tell you what I've been reading - The brilliant novel "The Muse" by Jessie Burton. When I go on holiday I nearly always try to find a novel set in the region that I have travelled to. It somehow helps create mood and atmosphere I enjoy reading books set in Italy when I'm in Italy! So what does an artist read when she's at home in Salisbury? It may come as no surprise to read a book about an artist, and about their Muse. This novel though is set in London and Spain. It nice reading about the sun while it's so cold here!
I don't think I've ever fully understood the concept of a muse; an artist only being able to create because one special person inspires them to paint; to create. Even with Valentine's Day coming, I still can't quite believe that creativity is dependent on one person!
But The Muse explores the concept of the muse much more fully, there is more of an element of thriller than romance about this novel.
There is a delightful passage in The Muse where one of the characters describes opening a package of art supplies that she has brought with her to Spain.
"She knelt before the travelling trunks like a pilgrim at an altar not one of her colours had burst in transit, all had powders intact, the sticks of pastel not cracked in half, that always been loyal to her when everything else was falling out of place"
Like many artists I get genuinely excited about new art supplies.
She goes on to describe how the paints were in more control that she was. Is if here hands were guided by the colours.
"I purchased this green, vivid grasshopper green and the shade of Scarlett, and oil called night indigo, a plum and silvery grey; all colours I've never used before. I just picked them up and put them on the counter and it was as if I'd known that only here would those paints come into their own and help me. That they would flesh out my fears and my dreams. But now it's done and out of me I can't help wondering that the paints didn't do it all on their own as if my involvement was nothing at all".
I remember buying some beautiful Charvin oil paints in a wonderful little art shop in Paris by the Pont Neuf. I adored that shop, an oil painters idea of heaven. I wanted to stay in there for an entire day. When I came home and started using my paints and new colours I couldn't believe the positive impact it had on my oil paintings. I still use some of those incredible Monet blues and pinks, even in my animal art. I've enjoyed using colour in surprising ways for many years
The novel the Muse is also in set into different time periods in 1937 and 1967 this was a particularly enjoyable aspect of the novel. Especially when it came to perceptions of women. Women in business and women as artists. Now that I am a female entrepreneur, and full-time artist I am able to understand just how fortunate I am to live in a time that accepts me in both of those roles, for it was not always so. It is very difficult to describe the power of the twists and turns in Jessie Burton's novel without ruining it for you so I will confine myself to a quote from a review and merely say it is well worth a read if you enjoy art and you enjoy history.
,,,"Burtons multi layered story is never less than engaging she has an undoubted gift for seizing the readers attention and holding it moving back and forth between the two periods, the story reaches a powerful conclusion. It has much to say about the search for authenticity in love and in art"
So now I've finished this luscious novel exploring art, artists and inspiration, I've got to chase something else and hopefully find something that will inspire me just as much.
But in the meantime, for the rest of the day I will be painting!
My new collection is finding the truth in my surroundings. My Countryside Companions Collection was the most popular work I have done to date. In fact you may have one hanging in your home right now.
I adore my oil painted animals on natural linen and they have been a real hit. I have wanted to expand my collection by including surrounding areas that inspire me and to paint them on my natural linen canvases to place beside my animal artworks.
I have drawn inspiration from my hometown of Salisbury, the beautiful nearby Georgian town of Bath, and London. I have included some extracts from my forthcoming Town and Country collection in this blog before they are available to buy on my website. If you would like to reserve any before they are available, simply email me and I'll happily send you details. Some more beautiful animals will also be added to the collection too.
At the beginning of March I will be running a workshop in Salisbury Cathedral on how to draw the complex architecture without getting bogged down in linear perspective. I teach you some arty tricks to find your way through tricky subject matter. We will explore the natural beauty in this incredible place. I still have a few spaces left on this course; it's always good fun, relaxed and really useful if you want to have the confidence to go and sketch when you're on holiday or sitting in a cafe. I promise you it's not as intimidating as you think!
Some of my new Town and country collection will be on display in Waterstones from 19th February. I'll be blogging about that exhibition next week...
Back when Trivial Pursuit was fashionable and just about everyone was playing it I always plumped for the brown piece of cheese first!
Art and literature was my specialism, so it seems only appropriate to refer to Art and literature when thinking about my forthcoming exhibition at Waterstones in Salisbury.
My planning and preparation for this kind of exhibition is very similar to that of an art fair (more on that story later). In addition to preparing and packing your paintings I always create a hanging plan. It saves a lot of mucking about when you get to the venue. Sometimes I stray a little from the hanging plan and smaller pictures might find their way into gaps, or a centrepiece might find its way onto a different part of the stairwell, but broadly speaking I stick to the original plan, carefully choosing pieces that sit well together. You want to give each piece enough room to breathe, whilst still using wall space effectively so that you get to show off as much of your work as you can.
In addition I have fully stocked tool box, hooks, a stepladder, a drill, a screwdriver all ready to hang my work in precisely the right place. I have prepared laminated artist's statements, free postcard sized flyers and business cards all available for future customers to collect my details.
Is it all worth the bother?
Well of course it is, I go back to my first paragraph Art and literature always sat rather nicely together and I love the idea of people shopping and browsing in a bookstore, selecting a novel to take home and in the process being able to see beautiful, original oil paintings produced by an artist in their locality.
It's really lovely.
So I urge you over the next month to make your way to Waterstones on the High Street in Salisbury it's really lovely to buy books, real books, and I think it's rather nice to look at some art whilst you're there.
Next week I'll be telling you about future opportunities to see my artwork as there are plenty of art fairs coming your way in April and May.
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