The New Year is a knocking

and although I have been working on my painting for the last week, I did not finish as I planned. I have been working on this painting off and on since October and it has been through many changes. The latest occurred today. The day I thought I would be finished but the Buddha was just not working. So I scrapped away the paint,  I start again, scrap again and again. Problem was I was just repeating my previous mistakes, so this last time I decided on a radical change and I think it might just work. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

this is how it looked at the end of the day on Saturday


this is how it looked at the end of today.

By the end of tomorrow who know where it will stand. I will not say it will be finished tomorrow but I think it’s closer than it ever has been.

This year has been much more successful than normal for me. I decided right at the beginning of the year, I would focus on painting and drawing, no bead embroidery.

I attended several life drawing classes which in the end I decided was not the direction I wanted to go. Having spend my formative years at Camberwell, I have this need for the model to be placed properly after breaks, not the haphazard way they seem to do here. ¬†Also the¬†room was too dark (no natural light whatsoever) and relied too much on artificial light (usually one or 2 spotlights).¬† That is something else I realised I need, natural light or at least good light. My work is progressing away from the purely observational stance I was trying as I realise I am not a ‘tidy’ artist, smudges abound in my drawing and paintings and to be honest, I am just not that talented in that way, much as I wish I was. However, the one thing I still need is good light as the colours just go haywire otherwise. Next year, I need to investigate into getting better light for my studio, as sometimes I do think about working up in the studio in the evening, then I go up to be confronted with the dullness and orangeness of the lighting which just saps any energy or enthusiasm I have.

I have also worked in oils, water-soluble oils and acrylics. ¬†My favourite medium is acrylics but oils weren’t as difficult as I remembered. I am not so sure about the water-soluble oils but that might be more to with the brand I am using which seems to have a very limited colour range and very tacky to handle. I have also worked a little on my understanding on how to mix colours. That might seem like an obvious issue and how in decades of mixing colours, have I not worked that one out. Simple, I guessed and hoped for the best!

So next year, I hope to continue with the progress I have been making this year and not give into the depression I get about my work. I have no excuses but myself.

Battling with drawing

Drawing has always been a struggle for me and the older I get the harder it gets. My eyes no longer focus as well as they did (my right eye has never focused as it’s lazy LOL) and if I concentrate too much, I get a headache.




This was the first drawing of doing this setup which was piece of fabric from Ikea and ¬†part of my grand daughters tea set. Originally I was going to paint it but looking at the complexity of the fabric design I decided to draw it first. ¬†My other motivation being the fact I have a stack of drawing paper from when I first arrived in the US. I ordered a 100 sheets 36″ x 24″ but ended up getting 3 reams instead by mistake. Contacted the seller and they said keep it as it too expensive to return. ¬†I was only charged for the 100 sheets so it was a bonus for me or so I thought. ¬† I still have about 2.5 reams left!




So this is my second drawing as  I was not happy with the first drawing as the angles seemed wrong. Well I never did manage to get them right as you can see from the drawing below.   The table I was using was well below my eye level so I was looking down on the set up.  Ignoring the maxim of never erasing your drawing marks, I continued to make the same mistakes time after time.  Surprising even though I studied at Camberwell for nearly 3 yrs (foundation and Saturday morning classes) I never learnt how to use a plumb line, pencil or whatever to gauge proportion or angles.  I am trying to teach myself that now, carefully drawing a mark for where my foot is position whilst I draw and trying to remember not to move my head too much. I am pretty sure I will not continue to do that but it might give me more of an idea how to assess these things instead of blindly blundering into the subject as per my normal method.


So I have spent the past week drawing this whilst reading numerous books about drawing. ¬†Hasn’t helped! ¬†Eventually I would love to have the freedom to use the drawings as basis for painting so I am not restricted to setting up a still life. I have a long way to go.

So its back to the drawing board again but this time I also plan to paint the still life.  Once the cooler weather comes in the Fall, I will go out and draw from life but at the moment with temperature in the 100f/38c plus range, I will contend myself with still life set ups and looking at objects around the house.





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.

Slowly getting back

Well, I am slowly coming back after a 2 month hiatus. ¬†My trip to France was not good and send me into a a deep cycle of depression. I was enjoying nothing and the weather wasn’t helping. ¬†However, for about 3 weeks or more I have finally begun to emerge from that cycle and think about creative activities. ¬†So hopefully in the next weeks, my output will increase to at least the previous level but hopefully even higher, as I quick my job last week. I realised that sitting at a pc 4 hrs a day moderating reviews was sapping any artistic inspiration from me.

I have joined a regular figure drawing group on Tuesday mornings and next week I intend to make good my plan to attend the plein air society meetings. Unfortunately, the weather is starting to get hot so that will be a hurdle I will have to overcome but it should be fun. My figure drawing not surprisingly is very weak and this Tuesday just plain bad.  Just need to get over the negativity that comes with failure and get on with it!DSC00041

this one and the one below were done the first first Tuesday I attended. DSC00042


This was this week and the bottom one was probably the worst ¬†ūüė¶

I really couldn’t get to grips with the poses this week and part of it was the amount of movement the model (you can sort of see it in the lying down pose with waving foot)l had but it shouldn’t have affected my drawing that much, I am not an artist who works with careful measurements. I have tried that method but because of a very lazy eye, it just doesn’t work. ¬†The actual room is difficult to deal with as it has no natural light so the model is surrounded by studio lights. ¬†The one thing I do tend to do is place the model in the situation so all the objects become part of the process. This model used a chair and stool ¬†which I was using to place her feet in the lying down position. ¬†It was a long pose so she had a break about 20 mins in. By the time I came back the the chair and stool had been move. She then got herself into position and I waited for a few minutes for her to get her legs in the right place but she resolutely kept them resting on each other. As the organiser tends to do portraits, I don’t think she noticed the pose was incorrect but other people were doing the full pose, so why didn’t they speak up? However, I did speak up and I really should have said something about the waving legs but think I will become more established before I start to grumble. ¬†How I miss those Camberwell life poses, where everything was carefully marked and taped before the model moved. Then when we got back to a pose, the model was carefully placed back into position. Most of the time, the model was in the middle of the room and lighted by big windows. ¬†If studio lights were used they were very carefully placed.

Anyway, I am just grateful I get the chance to do this, as only few years back, there was barely any figure drawing sessions available, not it seems there is something available each day of the week.  Once I am back in the groove I will investigate the more burlesque sessions that are available down town several nights of the week.


Still life with wine bottle Jar

Yesterday as promised I started a new still life. ¬†I like the background fabric on the last still life so much I decided to reuse it in this painting and then I coordinated the rest of the still life to complement the fabric. ¬†I feel I am going to struggle with the base fabric as it also has a pattern on it and at the moment, I am not sure how I am going to deal with it. ¬† It not a bold pattern and it’s not striped like the orange fabric. ¬†The pattern is actually leaves which are textured stripes and blackish, so not solid and reflecting light.

So I managed to get the basics done on this painting before the light faded completely. As I was drawing it in I wasn’t too concerned about the light but it actually turned out to be quite a bright afternoon, after the morning fog and showers. Looks like today might be the same but I will working this afternoon so the light will be fading by the time I finish, so will probably continue tomorrow when I know the weather will be sunny.


Today I think I will try to draw something as my drawing skill definitely need brushing up. When I was Camberwell, I constantly used my sketchbook, even for the Saturday morning classes and was actually a requirement in my foundation year. I sort of kept it up at Bath but with the lack of encouragement from the staff, it wasn’t a high priority (in the painting dept anyway.), it soon became an infrequent habit. So really my sketchbook has not been a priority since I was about 20, so its time it regained its importance, if only to reinforce the habit of looking, rather than roaming with my eye.

That is one thing I was always doing in my painting, redrawing, you can sort of see it with the wine bottle as I reaslised when I was working on the background fabric, that it was much taller than I had originally drawn it.  The little red vase is also a little more squat and fatter than I have it here, so  that will be altered  as will the some of the small satsumas. Still I have plenty of time as next week the weather is returning to the normal TX sunshine so I am not going panic.

So far, I am happy with what I have on the painting board. ¬†Materials used so far, Daler Canvas board 16×12 ¬†Golden acrylic paint and some primsacolour pencil.

A new look and a new beginning

Any regular visitors will see I have completely revamped this blog.¬† I decided this year I was going to devoted my time to relearning how to create using paint and brush.¬†¬† Well it taken me until about 1/3rd of the way through the year, to get started on this but now I have actually gotten there, I decided it was time to devote this blog to it, rather than create yet another blog.¬† So in preparation I got all my old posts printed into a book from, via Blog2print .¬† I have had the book for a few weeks now but it didn’t include all the lovely comments from other readers, so I had print them out. Fortunately WordPress have a handy view comments by page, so I manage to print all the comments a page at a time, rather than each comment which would have been very time consuming.¬† So today was the day, to delete all the old posts and start afresh.

To anyone who didn’t know, I started out as a painter, beginning with Saturday Morning classes at Camberwell¬† school of art and crafts at the age of 16 (almost 17) and ended up with a degree in painting from Bath Academy of Art (now sadly defunct)¬† Unfortunately, my time at Bath was not the most productive time spend and as soon as I left, that was my painting career finished before it had even started.¬†¬† Since then I have struggled to continue to paint but due to family commitments, space and general lack of effort, I have never worked on painting full time.¬† In the meantime, I have continued to be creative in other ways with my kids and latterly my beading.¬† However, in the last year,¬† with the kids gone from the house, I realised that beading wasn’t challenging me as much as drawing and painting does.

I have no great plans about  what I am going to paint or any great theories.  I have no interest in all this art speak crap that pervades the modern art world and never have done.  My biggest challenge to convey what I see onto the canvas in the way I see it.   Basically I am starting from the beginning, going back to the challenges I met at Camberwell  when I first started painting and drawing.

I have been painting for some months now but basically very unsatisfied with what I was achieving.¬† Then looking a good friend’s website, Drawing my way around London and another favourite, Hobbs Blog, I realised I needed to get back to basics and that is observing and drawing.¬† So for the next few weeks I will concentrate on that aspect while continuing with my current painting.

Below is the  first painting I produced October 2009 and then my most current finished piece.

paintings 004

blue white caferia 004