Tuesday, 15 December 2009

My life - latest updates

It's been a while since I last had time to write in this blog. In the last month I've been on an intensive Spanish course, trying to get to grips with the language in my new home country. The old brain has filled up and there's not been time for much else.

I am still in the process of writing the oil painting course, which I still hope to be able to publish in February. It will be an introduction to using water-soluble oil paints.

I'm also considering breaking the watercolour course down into separate sections (a beginners introduction to using watercolours, how to mix colours, how to create different effects and textures etc...) These would be sold available as an alternative to the complete watercolour course. Let me know what you think.

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and an arty New Year!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Painting Holiday in Northern Spain

I've just arranged a painting holiday in Cantabria in Northern Spain for next summer (May 30th - 5th June). It's a beautiful part of the country, and I'm really looking forward to it. So why not come along and join me for a week of painting tuition, fun, good food and good company? I'd love to see you there. For more info visit http://www.learntodo.co.uk/html/painting_holidays.html

Friday, 16 October 2009

Hola from Olhao - Painting Holiday

I've just returned form a great painting holiday in the Algarve in Portu
gal. Seven painters from the Rohampton Club in London joined
me for a week of sketching and painting in the lovely fishing town of Olhao.
The town has everything an artist could want - old crumbling buildings with magnificant wooden doors and windows, cobbled streets full of charm, a large fish and fruit market, a fine white church, a harbour full of colourful fishing boats, and islands in a lagoon which are reminiscent of the caribbean. Plus of course, lots of sunshine and warm weather.

I've now returned with a number of oil and
watercolour paintings from the trip, and with loads of photos to work from in future. The colours, buildings, fishing boats and coastal waters have been a great inspiration.We were accomodated in a very plush and quirky house with it's own studio where paintings could be finished in comfort. And every lunchtime and evening we were wined and dined in one of the many restaurants edging the harbour, often being served the local speciality fish dishes.

I've got another two painting holidays planned for the same venue in 2010 (April 10-17 and October 9-16) so why not join me there. There are more details on my website at www.learntodo.co.uk

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Pochade Paintings

I've recently painted four small water-soluble oils and here they are.

We sat in a little courtyard in the Andalucian mountain town of Competa in Southern Spain and ate bocadillos and drank wine. The sun cast lovely shadows on this little scene in front of me and I tried to capture it in a small pochade painting in oils. The large ceramic pot added character to the picture.

I also painted from the roof terrace of our friends house and tried to catch the sunlight and shadows of the narrow street below. Not sure how well I did on this one.

The beach huts below are on Southwold Beach in Suffolk and reminded me so much of our family holidays when I was young. We used to rent out one of these huts every year and sit and shiver in it as the cold north wind swept past the door!

Finally a small painting of Venice, taken from a photo I took there last year. Yes, I know it's all a bit familiar and there are hundreds of paintings of this very scene, but this is my quick attempt at it.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Counterfeit Banknotes

I read somewhere recently that banks train their staff to recognise counterfeit banknotes. They do so, not by pointing out defective notes, or letting them study bank notes which contain mistakes, or with lists of how to spot a counterfeit, but by showing them hundreds and hundreds of real notes. The bank employees get so used to seeing the real thing, that when a counterfeit note appears it just jumps out at them.

How does this relate to art? Well, I think we can spend too long looking at the wrong sort of painting! We can study our own mistakes and those paintings that haven't turned out particularly well, we can look at the paintings of others in our evening class who are at our same level and ability, and we can begin to assume that we can then spot a good painting.

However I think it is much better for us to spend our time looking at the Best of the Best in order to understand what a good painting is - immersing ourselves in galleries, looking at books of paintings by famous or professional artists, cutting out and keeping paintings from magazines that we really admire. And as we get used to seeing the 'real thing' I believe our own art will improve in leaps and bounds.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Click, clickaway!

I've just spent a day at Southwold in Suffolk in the UK. It's a place I know well because I spent many a happy holiday there when I was a child. I've not been back for many years so yesterday was a real treat, especially as I am now looking at it through artist's eyes.

Southwold (and the nearby village of Walberswick) have been a painters paradise for many years and you will often find paintings of these places in magazines and books on art. Yesterday I could see why. The harbour area is particularly interesting from a painting point of view, but because I was with my wife and my sister and we only had a few hours there, I had no oportunity to paint or even sketch. So I snapped away on the camera.

The wonder of digital cameras is that you can do this with great liberty. I took loads of photos - just aiming the camera roughly in the direction of my subject, clicking and hoping to get something. But I know that when I then upload the photos onto my pc I'll be able to edit, crop, lighten, increase the contrast and do all sorts of wobndrful things with them that I will have plenty of great reference material for paintings.

So, my advice is this - don't wait for the perfect shot or the perfect scene before taking a photo. Just click, clickaway and then find the perfect composition later on your computer. And happy painting!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Balloon Man

Here's the latest small pochade painting, taken from a photo but painted as quickly as I could. The balloon seller was sitting in deep shadow and looked really bored and he contrasted so well with his coloured balloons he just made a great subject.

I had an 'Aha!' moment whilst doing this painting and I want to explore a new painting strategy which if it works out well, I'll incorporate into a new course on oil and colour.

I've now decided to sell some of my smaller paintings over the net, so if you're interested just look at my website at www.learntodo.co.uk.

Monday, 8 June 2009

New pochade paintings

Here are a few of may latest small pochade paintings in water-soluble oils for you to see. They are all just 6" x 8" and painted on board. I've used an underpainting in each case - just a mid-toned colour, which gives continuity to the painting in the places where it shows through. Hope you like them.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Superb Sorolla

I've just spent a few days in Madrid, visiting the Prado (all the great paintings from Velazquez, Goya, Bosch, and so many more), the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia (modern art), and on a trip to Toledo an exhibition of paintings by El Greco. But to me the best artist I came across was Joaquin Sorolla. Visiting his house I was confronted with some of the most exciting oil paintings I've ever seen. We just missed the Sorolla exhibition at the Prado which starts next week, but I splashed out and bought the catalogue of the show. Such amazing paintings. I include two here to wet your appetite.

Just out of interest - whose your favourite painter?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Forum beginning to buzz!

The online Forum is beginning to really buzz now with 90 members at the last count and almost 400 posts. There's a new monthly painting competition (with prizes!) which has attracted a good deal of entries, and the Forum as a whole is a good place to meet friends and get your painting questions answered.

So if you've not joined up yet, why not do so now. Just click on the Forum webpage from the site at www.learntodo.co.uk

Monday, 13 April 2009

Watercolour Fast and Loose

My next course - Watercolour Fast and Loose - is about to be published. I'm most of the way through writing it now and have enjoyed every minute of it! It's amazing just how much you can learn from other artists and so in this course I have chosen seven of my personal favourite watercolour masters and have drawn out lessons from their paintings that will help all of us to paint better. They are all experts in the loose and impressionistic style of watercolour painting.

So if you want to loosen up, then I think you'll find this course really helpful. I know it's helped me! Look out for it at www.learntodo.co.uk before the end of April '09.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Fighting the Elements

I took my long-suffering wife, Donna, with me on an afternoon painting trip last week. She had on her smart high heels as she thought we were heading for a town where I would paint from an outdoor cafe, but on the way I saw this bodega which I thought made a great subject. So we stopped the car and scrambled over some wasteland and up a small hill to get the best vantage point. Donna found a rock to sit on (she had on a posh frock as well), and I set up to do a watercolour.

Up went the easel, and at the same time up came the wind. It started as a gentle breeze, then within minutes had turned into a not so gentle breeze. The easel blew over, the fixing broke so the backing board wobbled loosely, and as the wind grew ever stronger I found myself painting with one hand on the easel to steady it and the other on a brush. The easel wouldn't stand at its full height so I had to lower it, which meant bending over to paint at a back stretching angle. And added to that, it was a warm day and the paint was drying very quickly on the paper and in the palette. Still, I was determined to make something of the scene, so while Donna clung to the rocks I carried on to the bitter - and gale force - end.

Sometimes it's not easy. But it's still great fun! And we did end up at a nice outdoor cafe as a reward!

Friday, 20 March 2009

oils en plein air

I spent a very happy two hours painting a small scene with my pochade box and water soluble oil paints yesterday in a small town in Spain. The sun was shining on the church tower and I just couldn't resist the composition of the old street leading up to the tower. I have to say it's quite a challenge painting here and gathering local spaniards around who want to talk. My limited spanish only just copes with the basics! Anyway, thought you might like to see the little scene. It's only 15cm x 20cm.
I've also completed a small oil painting from a photo I took a few years ago of some children sitting on a step by a canal in France. Hope you like it.

Monday, 23 February 2009

New Forum A Success

The new forum that I put online just a few weeks ago is proving to be a success, with new people joining daily and new topics being discussed and added to. To join in just sign up for my free news-and-info emails, and as part of the package of goodies I'll send you is access to the forum.

Thanks to everyone who's taken part in it and encouragement to all of you who haven't yet done so to join in and let's make this the best and most useful art forum on the web! Connect with others, make new friends, ask questions and get answers, or just make comments! It's a great way of turning our sometimes solitary hobby into a social affair!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Proper paper proportions

Here's a strange bit of info I came across the other day. It relates to the most common proportions that are used in paintings. Did you know that when you buy paper, prepared canvases or ready made frames, they will be almost always in one of these ratios: 1:1, 1:2, 2:3, 3:4, 4:5 or 5:6?

Here's how it works out:
1:1 All squares
1:2 10" x 20" or 12" x 24" (about 25 x 50cm or 30 x 60cm)
2:3 20" x 30" or 24" x 36" (about 50 x 75cm or 60 x 90cm)
3:4 9" x 12", 12" x 16" or 18" x 24" (about 23 x 30cm, 30 x 40cm, 45 x 60cm)
4:5 8" x 10", 16" x 20" or 24" x 30" (about 20 x 25cm, 40 x 50cm, 60 x 75cm)
5:6 10" x 12" or 20" x 24" (about 25 x 30cm or 50 x 60cm)

Fascinating isn't it?

Friday, 23 January 2009

Painting Course on Tone and Colour

I'm in the process of arranging a four day (arrive on Monday and leave on Friday) painting course where I'll be teaching on how to use colour and tone to improve your paintings. The course will be very practical, with plenty of opportunity for you to get your brushes out and experiment. There is only room for 8 people on the course which is based at the delightful Ravenstone Hotel, near Keswick in the heart of England's beautiful Lake District National Park.

I've managed to keep the price the same as last year, and it represents great value for all meals, excellent accomodation, and tuition, all for just £445. The dates are 27th April to 1st May. So why not book in now and spend the week with me learning how to dramatically enhance and improve your paintings. To find out more go to Painting Holidays.


Saturday, 3 January 2009

Paint like Picasso

This is just a bit of fun, but someone sent it to me and I'd like to share it with you.

It's a silly site for drawing Picasso heads. Just go to
http://www.mrpicassohead.com/create.html to have a play! You too can unleash your creative potential...