Monday, April 30, 2012

My blog has moved

This is just to let you know or remind you that my blog has moved to my website, at I hope you will continue to follow my posts there - thank you so much for reading!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Splashes of spring colour

I love how brightly coloured spring flowers are. Bursts of energy that liven up what can be a fairly dreary time of year. They're lovely subjects for watercolour sketches.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New lambs

The first lambs appeared here in early February, poor things- just in time for some very cold weather. The oil paint took about 3 weeks to dry because the studio has been so cold. The paintings are for a couple who live in Germany. Many of my Austrian and German friends are fans of Britain's sheep, maybe because you just don't see so many sheep around in most of Europe except in the mountains.

The other more autumnal coloured painting is of the Forest of Bowland. I think the sheep are either Swaledale or Rough Fell.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fruit salad! still lives by me and my Grandma

I really enjoyed working on this orange and blue still life. My classes have been painting acrylic still life for the last couple of weeks and I was inspired to have a go myself. I haven't painted much still life since school really, where I got a bit put off by being made to paint the same old things endlessly. Mainly skulls, as I recall. No idea why. Also, I remember being infuriated by my art teacher telling us 'See how this shadow has purple/green/orange in it?' and thinking, no, actually - it's all a dull grey....

Weirdly, now that I teach art I see colours in shadows, and annoy people by pointing this out to them, and I think that still life might not be dull after all. Or doesn't have to be anyway - as you set it up you have complete control over the composition; the light, shape, and colour. It's kind of the other way round from something like a landscape, where you almost always need to edit things out as you paint.

Speaking from experience as a student I also think its very helpful to observe others painting, and to see the finished work. I'm really lucky in this respect because I've always had lots of inspiring paintings to look at. My whole family is arty but my grandmother Mary Robinson was a really great painter. I really do not know how she found time to paint alongside raising eight children*, but she certainly did. Her still life of Bramley apples and Tate & Lyle sugar has always been one of my favourites.

* According to one of my uncles she painted between midnight and 4am.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Burns Day Neep

To celebrate Burns Day here's a sketch of a turnip, which in Scotland is called a neep. (As in haggis, neeps, and tatties). Said massive turnip was grown by my Dad, who's really quite keen on giant veg. I still remember the humiliation of me and my sister being photographed for the local paper 20 years ago or so alongside one of Dads prizewinning giant cabbages. Later when I was at college in Dundee our ceramics teacher asked us to bring in some vegetables to use as sculpture models, but my carrots were dismissed as being too scary due to their post-apocalyptic appearance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Borders View (Clearfelling)

Firstly, a very Happy New Year!
This promises to be an exciting one, certainly if doom everywhich way you turn adds that much needed spice to your life. But regardless of what else happens in 2012 and beyond, painters will continue to paint. Painting is a pathological disorder, and as a lifelong 'sufferer', I find myself particularly drawn to, (or rather drawing), beauty in the outwardly most damaged of places. Such as this oil sketch of the clear felled hills on the road to Moffat, in the Scottish Borders. We often take the A701 on our way to or from 'home' in Fife, because it is nicer than the motorway, there is good food to be had*, and most importantly of all there are bleak hills, bog, mist, windmills and forestry plantations... A landscape painters paradise!

Conifer plantations are not native in Scotland. They were mainly planted between the 1950's and 1990's, for softwood timber production. Little light penetrates to the forest floor and they support very few other species. When the trees mature they are usually clear felled. I'm interested in painting such landscapes because they are so striking and yet so overlooked, empty, devoid of animal life and human interest. It's a landscape which is so obviously ugly, scarred and damaged and yet really quite beautiful. If this isn't enough of an excuse, I also think forestry plantations in Scotland, or at least the practice of clear felling, will die out sooner or later, as it is becoming uneconomical in the face of competition.

*At the Buccleuch Arms Hotel

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice in't Woods

Happy Solstice!

This acrylic painting is of the winter sun rising through beech woodland by Jumbles Reservoir, Lancashire. It was a beautiful fairytale scene, to which some have implied my painting adds a certain 'Grimm' factor to...! However, read it as you wish; it was meant to be magical.

I love the effect of light through trees; it's something I'm slightly obsessed by and often try to capture in photos as well as paintings. I took the two photos on Sunday when we were at a Solstice BBQ in some woods north of Lancaster. I climbed up a stalkers' ladder to take the shot of the Scots Pines.