Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Sneaking in at the end of the year

It is that time again when we reflect on the year gone by and wonder at what the next one will bring.
In 2013 I wanted to concentrate on improving and just doing more oil paintings, so when I made my collage I was pleased to find I had quite a few to choose from considering how busy the year has been.

See more oil paintings here

We all make goals and promises for the New Year but don't always manage to attain them...the worst offender being the promise to lose weight?  It's important not to be too hard on yourself or at least set yourself some easier goals!

One of my goals for 2014 will be to blog more.  This year has been sadly lacking I'm afraid, although I did  get onto Facebook this year (kicking and screaming all the way).

It seems that most people have been blogging less and using other social networks in 2013.
Even so I still think that blogs are an important way of showing your art and getting to know people, perhaps more so than Facebook as blog posts are generally longer and more interesting.

So that brings me to some goals for 2014....no wait I'll tell you next year! 


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas

Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy Christmas.

I hope to be posting more in 2014, work and bigger paintings have been keeping me busy.
Watch this space as they say!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Making Time

Rat Race

I need more time!
How often do you wish for more hours in a day or even more days in the week?

It's not easy fitting everything into a busy life and making time to paint and be creative.   We all have our obligations, family and  other jobs.  Sometimes I wonder how I will find time to paint at all.

Creative people naturally have projects, ideas, materials floating about...both in their heads and in the studio. We are easily distracted and  the only way I can keep my head clear for new ideas is to be tidy ( just  don't open any of my cupboard doors!)
I like to know where my materials are and where that lovely reference photo is filed  on my computer.  I keep a notebook or sketchbook handy to jot down anything I want to remember or ideas, that way I don't  worry about forgetting something important.

To make time for actual painting in a hectic schedule is not easy.  First you need to be organised (a horrible dirty word I know).  I set myself a time limit for mundane tasks, I grab back  a few minutes here and there, whenever I can then block off some creative time when possible.
It's useful to decide when your ideal time for painting is and  try and work round that. Mine is in the afternoon which isn't easy when I'm working.

So then when you finally get to your easel, or studio...make sure everyone knows you don't want to be disturbed ....headphones are good for this.   Ignore the phone, Facebook etc as much as you can (sorry to anyone who knows me!)  Give yourself some time to get in the mood, look at some art or doodle in your sketchbook.  It also helps to have some idea what you want to do before you start or you will waste precious art time looking for something to paint.

Does anyone else have some ideas for saving time or making time for art?

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Terracotta Pots

Oil on stretched canvas 40x50cms

I think I like terracotta pots more than the plants that go in them!  I especially like them worn and chipped and the way they change in different light.
These pots were sitting in dappled light under some  trees, which seemed to be the perfect spot for them.
Earlier this summer I painted several little watercolour studies of the same pots and I'm looking forward to painting a few more before I'm done.
This painting is available for purchase on  my web site

Friday, 8 November 2013

A Little Bit of Good News

My oil painting 'Farfalla' was a awarded a special recognition in
the Lightspacetime online gallery. open exhibition.

There were 673 entries from 24 countries so not a bad result!

There are some paintings I really like, one of them was the outright winner by Sallie Ann Swift,
seen here on the exhibitions cover image.    See the exhibition on Youtube


Saturday, 2 November 2013

How Much Is Your Art Really Worth?

I have been asked for evidence of value after the above work 'Walking Shadows' was destroyed by fire during its journey back from an exhibition in the UK.   I now have to try and claim back the value of my artwork from the insurance.

So do you know how much your art is really worth?

Retail price or market value is normally what an insurance company would look at first, but what if the work hasn't been sold?  The price ticket on the artwork is only what the artist thinks it's worth, taking into account emotional value, time spent  and materials used. 

The piece of art could be valued on recent selling prices of similar work by the artist, but if the artist is less established and hasn't many recent documented sales that becomes more difficult.

So what I think my art is worth and how much an insurance company value it (if anything) is completely different.

So beware when shipping work around the world, check the insurance details and document wherever possible the value of your art, that includes newspaper articles, exhibitions and catalogues, auction site pages, anything that could be used as evidence of value.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Pebbles and bubbles (a continuation)

oil on stretched canvas 20x20cms

This is the last in my mini pebble series.  It is another small canvas of pebbles on the beach as the waves gently break onto them.  I painted the pebbles in almost a continuation of my previous small pebble painting.
Why? Well just because I could and it was fun.

As you can see the could be displayed together and will look better once I've varnished an painted the sides of the canvases.
I said this is the last but these paintings are so relaxing to do, so you never know what might happen!

Sunday, 13 October 2013


20x20cms oil on stretched canvas 

There is something theraputic about painting these pebbles and water.  I can hear the waves breaking gently on the shoreline and the rattle of the pebbles as the water  back runs to the sea.
I have nearly finished a second painting which is a continuation of this one.  Both go together with my larger painting here 
Memories of summer?

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sun in the Garden

Mixed media on stretched canvas 70x50cms

It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted here on my blog as I've been concentrating on some larger paintings in oil.  I have several on the go and this is the first to be completed (I'm calling it finished for now).
I took a year out to experiment and learn about watercolour and what it can do, now I feel it's time to get back to some oil painting.
That's not say I've hung up my watercolour brushes to dry!

These flowers are from my friend's garden.  We were sitting outside in the shade (with a coffee of course) when the sun suddenly illuminated the leaves from behind.  The background is acrylic with a pearly effect roughly brushed on, the rest of the painting is in oil.

I haven't got a very original title yet so if anyone has any ideas..... you haven't let me down yet!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Places for Inspiration

I paid another visit to the Botanical gardens this week.  I often go at different times times during the year for inspiration, to sketch or just because it's a lovely peaceful spot in the middle of the city.

 I have many sketches and paintings made over the years inspired by the gardens and I'm sure many more are to come (lots of photographs were taken ).  I went looking for some terracotta plant pot references and I found loads of pots, hundreds of them!

Not only are there wonderful ancient trees and rare plants, there are insects galore (including mozzies yuk) and turtles, parrots and fish too.

Do you have a favourite place that inspires your work?

Monday, 9 September 2013

Bell Peppers

Still painting veggies... I get more pleasure painting from life than a photograph and tend to paint whatever is in season and of course in my fridge!
These are watercolour with a bit of pastel on top (23x33 cms).  

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

One, two, three...peppers!

 I bought these little sweet peppers just because of their interesting shapes and I admit I sorted through to find the best.

This was the the most difficult to paint as it was curled up more than the others.  It's always difficult to find the right coloured green and for the peppers I used a yellow green mixed with a couple of transparent blues.

I like to  paint my vegetables and fruit on a white cloth, reflecting the light in lovely pools of colour.  Everything has it's season....my chilli peppers are ready to be picked so look out for those soon!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Windows and Balconies

A typical corner of a little Sicilian town.  This little corner belongs to the town of Lipari on the island of the same name.  It was late afternoon and I just happened to glance up and see the shutters, balconies and shadows, while everyone else was checking out the little shops along the road.
Sometimes the best views are the unexpected ones.

20x 17cms Watercolour and gouache

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

String of Onions

I bought a string of onions, it wasn't my intention to paint them.....but they were just too pretty not to.

I 've painted red onions many times but I never tire of their glorious reds, purples and pinks.  Sometimes I see a lorry loaded up and selling them on the side of the road and I'm tempted to stop and take pictures, but I think that many onions might be just a little bit ambitious!

This is mixed media - watercolour with coloured pencil and pastel scribbled on top.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Summer Sketching

It's a hot August bank holiday and everyone flocks to the beach in search of a cooling dip in the sea.
The best time of the day is late afternoon when the sun is low and has lost some of its heat.  Spotted on a local beach was this old man paddling and holding up his shorts to keep them dry.

On another day I sat behind a couple who quietly watched everything that was going on.
This one got a bit messy as I went along! 

You could just settle for a walk on the seafront and a delicious Italian icecream :-)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Liquid Patterns

There was a perfection reflection of the cathedral in the still water until a pigeon touched the surface  to drink and the surface of the water dissolved into a shimmering liquid abstract pattern.
The 'fountain' is inside the peaceful and quiet Cloisters of Monreale Cathedral.

Coloured pencil 21x 16cms

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Cherries on String II

mixed media 24x26cms

I decided to have another go at my 'cherry necklace'.  This is in watercolour and coloured pencil, the first one I did was in watercolour only and was painted from life.
I used my original painting and a photograph I took of my set up at the time.  So which do you like best?  You can see the original here

Friday, 26 July 2013

Terracotta pots in the Sun

Mixed media 16x18cms

I started off doing a larger painting complete with flowers but halfway through I realised that it was the plant pots that really interested me and the way the terracotta glowed in the sun.  
I bought some lovely Canson watercolour paper from the local art shop and it seems to take the coloured pencil well too, which is good as I have been looking for something that could take a really wet watercolour or acrylic wash but was smooth enough for pencil. So this is amixture of watercolour and coloured pencil. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Made of Stone

Mixed media 24x16cms


Walking up the long driveway of a 17th century villa is a little niche in the wall. In the niche is a life size statue of a young boy.  Some of what I think is the pearly blue colour remains, but this could be the effect of time on what originally covered the wall behind and the statue.
I can't find any information on who the boy was but he does look as if he carried something more on his shoulder. 
I used watercolour, coloured pencil and gouache to capture the effect of time on the stone, statues are good to paint of draw...they don't move!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Garden Sketching

Once a week I meet up with some friends to paint together.  In the summer we paint outside in my friend's lovely garden.  It's not a posh garden, it's the sort with plant pots piled up in the corner and herbs growing in a variety of containers.  Often it's a source of inspiration for sketches and paintings and on this occasion a row of cactus in matching pots the sun lighting them up from behind that caught my eye.  This sketch is unfinished so I cropped it down for now but I think it would make a good painting one day?

These two cats were waiting expectantly under a window for a little something to be thrown their way.
Sketched quickly in the station carpark  and colour put on at home.

Sunday, 14 July 2013


I meant to just try out my coloured pencils over an acrylic underpainting but got lost in the moment and did a whole saucer of cherries.  It's a little unfinished and I'm not too happy with some of the hard edge created by the acrylic but I had great fun using all my favourite colours.
Needless to say when I get 'lost' in my work I forget to feed my family, it's a good job nobody seems to mind!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sketches from Sicily

After a little blogging break here's a couple of sketches from my sketchbook.
The first is a young fisherman preparing his nets, a typical scene in a local village and one of my favourite subjects. 

This is part of a church on the island of Lipari, sketched from  my photos.
Time to get back and focus on some painting now I think!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Walking Shadow

26x69 cms coloured pencil

If you are like me you love people watching and inventing stories and lives for the people you see.
I had the chance to watch people walking along a stretch of path one sunny morning, the shadows were full of life too as they walked along.  My 'tableau' is invented, I put some of the people and their shadows together and made up characters for them in my head.

I received great news this week, this piece of work has been accepted into the  UKCPS Annual Exhibition 2013 at Patchings Art Centre.

I've posted a small size version here as it was too long for this page but hopefully if you click on
the image it will open up larger.  

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Quiet Reflection

Oil on board 30x40 cms

Finished and varnished just in time for a mini exhibition (more about that in my next
post)  This is my latest oil painting with a 'sea' theme.        
You might remember the fishing boat one from a little sketch I did at a local marina,
I love the swordfish reflection and the name of the boat  it sums up this area of Sicily
so well.

The painting below is one I posted a couple of months ago but the photograph was dire, this one is slightly better.  It's actually twice the size of the fishing boat painting.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Posh Necklace

 I bought a big carton of cherries and instead of the usual earrings made out of cherries I decided to go a step further and design a necklace.... all my favourite colours too.  Of course if you get hungry you can always eat it!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Sitting on a Volcano

It's not often I get to sit on a volcano and sketch so I'll make the most of my title!

This sketch is from the island of Vulcano looking over to the island of Lipari, both are part of the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily. The Aeolian islands are of vulcanic origins and there are still two active volcanos...Vulcano and Stromboli.

We stayed on Lipari just behind this church, you can see from the birds-eye view the bar where I sat and sketched over my morning coffee.

The streets are narrow, sometimes just alleyways and steps, this was the view from the bed and breakfast.

It's well worth the extra trip to see the islands if you're ever in Sicily.....I only visited two but there are five in all.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Wall Sketching

I'm out and about this week so just a quick look in my sketchbook....the first is a small, local village seen from the harbour wall.  Quite a few posh boats here.

Here's a sketch of over the garden wall so to speak.  Overgrown, long grass and olive trees behind, I love the different layers.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


I was attracted to a photo of one of my Italian nieces on facebook, she looked so carefree and young...so I decided to draw her, using sepia and black coloured pencils.


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