Moving to the outside world

I have studiously avoided painting outside for most of my painting career.  When I was a Saturday morning and foundation student at Camberwell, I got into the habit of sketching people as I stood at a bus stop or sitting on a tube. Anywhere I could be fairly inconspicuous and not really be notice. Even if I was noticed, people would look, maybe make a comment and go on. Until one day in Church Market,London NW8, some woman noticed I was sketching an old man directly in front of me. Well, seemingly it was her Dad and by sketching him I was stealing his soul?  Obviously I stopped drawing him as the woman was clearly upset, so I moved on. However, that wasn’t enough for her. She then proceeded to stand/jump in the way of anything I might want to sketch. She was also becoming verbally abusive so I decided then I was finished and I have never really felt comfortable sketching outside, let alone painting outside.

Anyway,  I have decided I need to get back outside to get inspiration as I am quite a homebody.  So, this week, I did a small painting (12×12) in our back garden which is not terribly inspiring but its a start. One of the thing you have to learn to contend with in the summer in Texas, the heat. When I got up this morning it was 75F(24c) and by the time I stopped painting at 2.15pm, it was 91f (33f), so its important to use the sunscreen and wear a hat. I am not that dynamic in the morning, so for the Thurs/Fri it was about 10.30 before I got out. Today, I managed to be out by 9.30.  As is normal I was using acrylics.




This was the result for my first day as I had numerous stops and starts, scrubbing out several starts mainly due to lack of confidence. First issue was, what do I paint, what do I focus on? Fortunately I was in my garden so not a lot of options but in the brief times I have consider landscape before, that has been my biggest hurdle, where do I start?

One of my issues is to focus on a part and not the whole. By doing that I am creating more work for myself as once I finished on that part, it was at odds with the rest! So I would work on the windows and then remember, boy there is all that other space to work on as well.  As you can see I can draw a straight line to save myself. Photographic painting (which I don’t particularly like anyway) will never be my forte.  Anyway day 2 was not a lot better but at least I didn’t give up as I am apt to.





Today, I was determined that whatever the outcome, it would be the last day. I worked mainly on the windows and walls. I don’t know why but I decided I was going about the windows entirely the wrong way. I should forget about the frame and work back to the reflections. By focusing on the windows, I could see there were at least 3 if not 4 levels before I could even consider the frame. I don’t think I mastered it but it was closer than yesterday. The walls were difficult and I know I could do better. Our walls are very light coloured but obviously this is a covered area so even though they are light, they are also dark compared to the outside wall. Also how do you depict a brick wall. It’s tempting to paint in every brick but not practical. Not painting any indication of the brick would also not work. I never did solve the issue!




Finish piece. Most admit I quite enjoyed the challenge despite the heat.

Next time, I am going to try oil paints as acrylics just dry too quickly. I would mix up a colour and as I was using it, the paint was drying.I suppose I could use an extender but it’s not something I am use to doing, so I would probably forget most of the time. However, I haven’t used oils since my foundation years as basically they scare me to death as there appears to be lot of rituals involved in oil paints LOL and I hate the smell. I am sure I can get over the smell and as for the rituals, I will ignore them. Also mean using gloves as I tend to get contact dermatitis when using them, the original reason I started using acrylics

Whilst I am learning, I am going to stick to small canvases or boards. I thought  12×12 was small but really it was probably a little big for my ability or maybe I should use large board so I don’t get so stuck with the minute details?

Time limits  I think this would be a good option so I don’t get bogged down in the details.

What is the aim of all this figure and landscape work, just observation, as I have seriously stopped doing in the past 20 years. Without this simple ability, I will never move onto the next stage. What will be the next stage? Have no idea but not trying, will get me no where.


  1. If you have Photoshop Jaqui, try setting the white level to the white in your painting, you’ll get much more powerful renderings of the paintings then. Looks like a pretty good days work, more successful than my feeble efforts yesterday


  2. I like this very much, Jacqui – your windows especially. I think you’ve also achieved the right balance with the brick detail. If you’ll forgive one slight negative (only negative to me, others will have different opinions I am sure), the chair on the left appears to have no back legs, and the chair on the right appears to be floating on one rather weak looking leg. I realise it’s a matter of perspective and personal taste. In fact this sort of thing is the reason why, when I paint, I get bogged down in trying to be too realistic. I love the windows and that gorgeous blue, but my mind wants to see the legs which are hidden in the shadows and behind the table.

    Anway, well done, Jacqui, for getting back outside. The back yard is a good place to start and you’re a good artist. Good luck as you continue in that hot Texas sun.


    1. Thanks Jan. I appreciate the ‘negative’ comment. With my daughter’s comments and yours I should have a clearer idea of what to work on as I progress. Elisabeth was particularly wary of giving any ‘negative’ feed back as she didn’t want to upset me but as soon as she said’ you haven’t finished this yet have you?’ I knew she would give me some valuable feedback but I had to coax it out of her.


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