Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Getting going after a break

Sometimes life takes turns that you have to take in your stride. At the beginning of December I had to have surgery which, though successful, left me with very low energy levels. 
While recuperating, I spent some time painting in watercolour and working with Procreate on a few digital portraits. 

I had abandoned my easel, canvases and oil paints, preferring to work with mediums more suitable to painting while away from my studio. (I spent the six weeks when I was unable to drive with my daughter and her family - and thoroughly enjoyed being with them over the holidays) 

After spending some time getting the Studio classes running, I decided that it was time to get back to painting. I realised with a shock that the last time I had worked on a canvas was at the end of October when I started a large abstract. 

Such a long break from a painting means that, in the interim, you have really lost your way. I couldn’t feel what I felt more than three months ago. I looked around the studio and discovered two small panels that been given a layer of underpainting. I realised that if I started with a surface that had already been painted this would be less intimidating. 

I had been wanting to paint King Proteas for some time. They remind me of South Africa and I love the strong design coupled with their soft colours. I found an old photograph to use as reference. (I couldn’t bring myself to pay an eye-watering amount for a couple of fresh blooms #sorrynotsorry!)

Here are some photos showing the progress of the painting. This panel had been covered in a very random application of paint applied with both brush and palette knife - and full disclosure here - I used up paint left on the palette from another painting)

Fig. 1.                                                                                   Fig. 2

In Fig.1 the random brushstrokes are visible, particularly on the left hand side and the form of the blooms have been drawn roughly with a brush. I worked directly from my photographic reference. I soon realised that the jug was creating an imbalance in the design.

Fig. 2 shows the addition of a couple of glasses in an attempt to correct this problem. I still did not like the design.

I turned to Procreate where I tried an alternative composition before attempting the changes on the painting. I copied the jug, and moved it to the left of the glass vase. 

Fig.3.                                                                                     Fig. 4 Proteas with a jug  

                                                                                              oil on panel 405 mm x 405 mm

Happier with the changes that I had done in the digital version, I painted out the jug, adding stronger darker value blocks of colour. Where the jug would be, I prepared the area by adding the same pinks and yellows that had been present in the original jug. Once that layer of paint was dry I could add the lines of the jug. 

I had a second panel which had an under painting of bright blues and pinks. Lovely photos of peonies in a bucket that provided the perfect inspiration - they would be perfect with the colours of the under painting. Since I wanted to keep the painting loose, I did no drawing at all, and simply added areas of free brushstrokes. 

Fig. 5                                                                                  Fig. 6 Pink Peonies in a bucket - 
                                                                                           oil on panel 500 mm x 500 mm

One thing I love about painting is that each time you face a new canvas you can reinvent your story - the work can be detailed and defined or it can be very loose and almost abstract. 

You might remember some other peony paintings - this one Damask Peony - oil on canvas 900 mm x 900 mm which features a single huge bloom or this watercolour and ink Peonies. The links will take you to blog posts about these paintings.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Art Classes - Hamilton Road Studio 2019

It’s the beginning of a new year which is a good time to start a new challenge. Perhaps it’s time to learn a new skill or develop a talent that has been left on the back burner for too long.
If you have always wanted to learn to draw and paint, there’s no time like the present. 

I have been teaching in my Studio on Hamilton Road, McDowall for the last eight years. Teaching has been so rewarding, I love seeing the people who attend my Studio grow and develop as artists. The classes are designed for both beginners and experienced artists alike. The classes are small with a maximum of six people in each class. The small size allows for individual tuition as well as the opportunity to work in the medium of your choice. 

I strongly believe that artists should follow their own direction and find personal inspiration. I encourage them to find their own voice rather than producing work that looks exactly the same as the rest of the class. I work with each artist to assist in finding what they want to paint and how to plan the design of each work.

While my methods of teaching may not suit everyone, especially if you like to be given a set plan to follow. Doing your own thing can be a little confronting - you do have to come up with your own ideas but will do so with my guidance. After a short while, the artists soon start producing unique artwork.

Weekly classes

Wednesday  6.00 pm -   9.00 pm - fully enrolled for 2019
Thursday      9.00 am - 12.00 pm - space available 
Friday           9.00 am - 12.00 pm - space available 
Saturday      8.00 am - 11.00 am - space available 


Term 1  Wed 23 January - Sat 6 April
Term 2  Wed. 24 April - Sat. 29 June
Term 3  Wed. 17 July - Sat. 21 September
Term 4  Wed. 9 October - Sat. 14 December
  • Tuition in drawing, watercolour, acrylics and oils is offered
  • During each class there will be some demonstration of technique as well as individually mentored tuition.
  • Classes are small (Max 6) so each participant can work in their chosen medium and at their own pace.
  • Students should preferably be prepared to enroll for a term (usually 10 weeks)
  • Fees are $36.00 per class, paid at the beginning of term - single payment; or two payments during the term. Payment can be by bank transfer, cheque or cash.
  • Credit card facilities are available - Surcharge applies.
There are often blocks of a few weeks at a time when regular artists take holidays.

Please contact me at for Studio Terms and Conditions.

Monday, 7 January 2019

The days in between...

Christmas is over. We’ve opened the presents and eaten the turkey. We have packed away the Christmas decorations and although it is only a few days into January, some shops, believe it or not, are advertising Hot Cross Buns - really? 

The New Year has dawned but it has not really begun. Many people are still on holiday. We fill the days in between with making plans, creating goals, and looking at ways to improve our lives. 

In reality, it’s best to just do something. Anything. And then do another thing and then do something else. 

I have been doing precisely that with this little series of watercolour portraits. 
A simple graphite drawing - then a light wash of watercolour - then some detail and deeper values for a bit of drama. 


Should you wish to have a watercolour painting of  your precious pooch or kitty I would be delighted to undertake a commission. 
Please contact me on for more details.


The sketchbook I am using is a new one for me which I found at Art Shed Brisbane. It’s by Kunst & Papier and at 160gsm it is a little too light for very watery washes but I don’t mind a little buckling in a sketchbook. I do like the size and format, and since it’s hard cover it is good for plein air sketching. (More of those in another post)

The doggy muses are all courtesy their owners on the Sktchy app.