Tag Archives: watercolour

Elemental Art : Solar Flare

After a crazy busy few weeks making art in Berlin and taking part in the Carshalton Artists Open Studios, things are resuming a slightly more ‘normal’ pace. Having exhibited several elemental art pieces during the open studios, I’ve been wanting to return to making again, and I’ve been playing with a new design.

Here is the image, unmounted. It’s painted using watercolours, spray paint, acrylic, and gold leaf. With all the fine weather we’ve been enjoying lately, this feels like a timely new design in the series.

Matters of The Heart

There’s a really cool free art extravaganza being planned in Peterborough this Summer. All the clues and info for the exhibition and giveaway will be released here, and from what I’ve seen so far – it promises to be a fantastic event. I promised to submit a piece to the event and got round to it this week.

I’ve been pondering some remix work on my winged heart designs for a while and been unsure about where to go. I played with some paint dribble effects to make a bleeding hear design – and at first I got it spectacularly wrong. I mixed the paint too thinly and it ran all over the place. Painting for the bin! Second time around I got the thickness and colour how I wanted it then applied the paint with a brush – before blowing it through an old biro casing.

I like how this turned out. I titled it ‘Careful, I Think It’s Broken’ and shipped it off to Peterborough for inclusion in the exhibition. Next I turned my attention to this week’s We Are All Artists free art drop. I wanted to continue remixing, using the second winged heart design and as I stared at the print – inspiration hit me. I took a dark grey fineliner, and inked in the wing edges, then made a maze design on the heart. This one is titled ‘Getting Lost In The Maze Of Your Heart’, and it will be released locally tomorrow. Keep an eye out for it – finders keepers.


Morning Coffee

The past week has been really tiring. Preparing for, and delivering the Art of Resilience took quite a bit out of me, and in addition, work’s been tough this week. We’ve been analysing the fallout of an unexpected, and pretty toxic resignation from a partnership I work with. More of that another time on my other blog.

I arrived at the end of the week feeling drained, yet needing to make art for the free art drop. Inspiration had I none. In conversation with one of my colleagues, I said I needed more coffee, and Jenny suggested that maybe, the coffee pot should be my subject this week.


I took a few minutes to look at the pot in situ, before bringing it to my desk, and drawing it.


I was concentrating on my observation skills – I took my time over the drawing. On reflection – it’s a bit tight. I was trying too hard to capture the detail of the pot, and you can see this in some of the lines – they lack confidence and directness in places. I’ve also drawn the pot taller and narrower than it is. This observation stuff is hard work!


I added some silver leaf to give the effect of age, and added in some fineliner to make one or two elements stand out a little more (this photo was taken before the fineliner was applied. This art has since been hidden and found as part of the We Are All Artists free art project.

It’s not my usual style of work – but I like it, I might make another to hang in our kitchen!


Adventures in Spain

These paintings are a few months old now, they were all made over a couple of days on holiday in Spain. I’ve been lazy when it comes to updating the blog – the free art project is currently taking up a lot of my painting time.

I painted four postcards based on the Spanish flag which I mailed to friends.

Spanish Flag Postcards.jpg

I made a sketch called Too Much Pressure, based on a tracing of a blind drawing of a radiator, weird!

Too Much Pressure.jpg

I painted two canvas boards, one of the mountains, one of the sea. The mountainscape has been sold, the seascape is available to buy if you would like it.



I made four simple pattern sketches – some of which have since been given away through the free art project.

Pattern Sketches.jpg

The last piece, titled Lost In Spain – was made for the free art project. It has a new home in Wallington.

Lost In Spain.jpg



Signals : Part Three

I’ve just started experimenting with some new liquid watercolours, made by Winsor and Newton. My intention with these paints, is to use these primary colours to mix and blend other colours, shades and tones.

Winsor and Newton

I’m also experimenting with a more themed sense to my art. I’ve recently started following Anna Laurini and I am fascinated by how distinctive her work is. One of the things I am learning from following her is that there’s so much to explore within what at first glance, might mistakenly appear to be a single idea. My thoughts around the kind of art I want to create have drifted around a lot, seeing Anna’s work is helping me to realise I can explore ideas I come cross in much greater depth and breadth than I previously thought. Less hopping from idea to idea, more exploration of each idea. This will become evident as my work progresses.

Here are the first two pieces of work created with the new paints. I’m fascinated by the range of colour brought forth from just three tubes of paint.

Although there are two works here, together they are titled Signals : Part Three. They are painted onto A4 sized sheets of watercolour paper. One piece has been bought by a friend, and I gifted them the second one. They belong together.


As you can see, I made a slight modification to my signature to fit the style of these works.

Passing Strangers

I recently ran a creative workshop titled ‘The Art of Wellbeing’ at the Wellcome Collection in London. It was an interesting experiment, made even more so by the fact that the event is promoted only on the day, and whoever turns up, turns up. So there we were, around 20 strangers, gathered together for a creative inquiry. I’ve made some notes and taken some pictures of our work which you can find by clicking on this lovely sketch of the workshop, made by a participant.

Workshop Sketch

After the session – I kept thinking about the idea of passing strangers, and how we had come together, talked and shared openly. I made a few sketches before settling on this one. To me, the image represents an exchange between persons unknown, to us, and to each other.


This piece of art is sold.

Learning To Paint – With Matt Forster

This post doesn’t contain any of my art. It is a write up of a watercolour class I attended in London run by the very talented Matt Forster. This is only the second time I’ve featured someone else’s art on here, the first being a guest appearance by Robert Ordever.


Matt usually works with just five Winsor and Newton artist quality watercolour paints. Alazarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine Blue. He can mix any other colour he needs from these basic colours. The paint is mixed in wine glasses so as to allow sufficient quantity to be made up to finish a piece of work, and a syringe is used to add water to dilute.

Mixing The Paint

Matt uses synthetic brushes, and large sheets of heavy weight paper, 450 gsm. He soaks the paper for at least an hour then sticks it to a thick mdf board using PVA glue and gumstrip before letting it dry for at least 24 hours. He then has a stretched, flat surface ready to paint on. The board with the paper attached then goes onto an old industrial easel – heavy and adjustable. This piece of kit reminded me of the drawing boards we used to use in school and in my first job as a draughtsman.

Tone and Contrast

We started looking at tone and contrast. Matt said that tone beats colour, and a good water colour should work well in black and white (you can check your own work by photographing then editing it on the computer). Matt took a large sheet of dry paper and on the left hand side he applied a blue wash to which he gradually added red, as he came down the paper. On the right side, he took the purple from the end of the previous wash (blue mixed with red) and diluted it as he came down the paper (leaving a small triangle of white paper on the way). On both sides, Matt worked down the page along straight horizontal lines because it’s the simplest, quickest way to create a wash over a whole/half page. He also made sure he moved quickly enough to ensure the paint didn’t dry on the page until the wash was finished. This ensures a smooth change of tone. Once the left hand side had dried, Matt added a darker shade of blue to create a mountain scape on the page. I didn’t photograph the picture before the mountains were added, but the gradation from blue to purple flowed nicely down the page.

Colour Washes

Dry Brush Work

Matt then showed us some dry brush work techniques – useful for adding more detail. He suggested that three things are important when working this way. The pressure applied, the volume of paint and the speed of the brush. A quick movement can leave useful dragged brush strokes. as seen in the lower part of this photograph, and a mix of dabbles and lines reveals a tree.

Dry Brush Work

Some dry brush work was added to both images, each layer a darker tone than the one before. The occasional white highlight is picked out afterwards using a scalpel and tweezers to score and carefully remove the top layer of paper.

Building the Images

Here are two close ups of the finished images.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wet on Wet

Next Matt showed us painting onto a wet surface. He took a large stretched sheet of dry paper and applied clean water to it using a syringe and a large brush. Moving really quickly he then added colours and we watched them blend and move through each other on the wet paper. Colours are lighter using this technique as the water on the paper dilutes the paint. You can get a sense of how the colours interact and flow into each other from this close up. Matt left some of the paper towards the top of the image dry, and these dry white areas became sunlight striking the clouds as the picture developed.

Wet on Wet Close Up

Matt worked at pace to finish the background before drying the paint using a hairdryer and carrying on – this time using some dry brush work to add the house and some foreground detail. The drifting, flowing nature of the wet paint on wet paper contrasts wonderfully with the later addition of dryer strokes.

Wet on Wet Landscape

What amazed me was how quickly this big landscape appeared – from start to finish in around fifteen/twenty minutes. I included my pencil case in this photo to give you an indication of the scale of this work.

This was an excellent opportunity to see an artist at work and to learn from him, thanks Matt.