This is my third year of holding an Open Studio. Joining over 300 other Cambridge Open Studios artists is a highlight of my year. I love all of it – the planning, the build up and most of all, meeting interesting people who come for a browse.
This year, to celebrate my 2016 Open Studio I’ve decided to do a giveaway
The winner of the draw will receive this limited edition signed and numbered giclee print of Poppies in the Sunlight. This print comes mounted and ready to put into a 12 x 16 inch frame.
There are plenty of opportunities to get your name in the draw (see below):
The draw will take place at 6pm on Sunday 24th July.
Your name goes in the draw every time you do one of the following:
- Visit my Open Studio and put your name in the box. I will be open from 11am to 6pm on the 16th, 17th, 23rd and 24th July.
- Sign up for my email newsletter. (I only do 3 or 4 newsletters a year).
- Like my Facebook page
- Share the Facebook post at the top of my page (you will need make sure the privacy setting on the post is ‘public’ so that I can see the share and add your name to the draw)
- Sign up to receive my blog by email
- Follow me on Instagram and pop a comment into the post with about this draw on my feed.
That’s 6 opportunities to get your name in the draw. You could have 6 chances of winning this print.
(About this painting: Every year a few of my works seem to be the zeitgeist pieces of the year. This is one for 2016. It was painted last summer and was then used as the poster image for the Spring Exhibition of the Society of East Anglian Watercolourists Spring Exhibition. The original painting was the first painting to sell at the exhibition. For me this painting represent exuberence and zest for life: a joyful painting)
What’s on show at my Open Studio 2016
This year I have
- 90 of my Running With Brushes paintings on display.
- A number of new watercolours, some of which stem from my South African travels, and some from a recent trip to the island of Paxos.
- I’ve invested in a top quality scanner and giclee printer so this year will also be showing a range of signed limited edition prints mounted and ready to be framed for the wall.
- Seven new greeting cards designs join the collection of evergreen favourites.
I am aware that time is precious and I so value the effort people make to come and see my open studio. My working studio, untidy as it is when I paint, will be open for visitors to look around and I’ll be there to answer any questions and chat about my inspiration and my approach to painting.
And if the weather is kind to us, we’ll even be able to have our tea and cake in the garden. The next two weekends are looking to be fabulous!
It all started with a visit to an art shop in Venice where the delicious display of pigments in the window tempted me inside.
where the delights of making watercolour paint became apparently. Look at all those gorgeous colours lined up in shiny glass jars!
I had to have a go at making watercolour paint, starting with a festival in blues and then added 7 other colours to increase my Venetian palette. Unfortunately, these bags of loveliness don’t come with instructions. I had to start by researching a method and recipe.
Recipe for making watercolour paint.
Start by making a base for the pigment.
- 1 part gum arabic
- 3 parts warm water (I used very hot water as its easier to dissolve the gum arabic)
- 1 part glycerine
- 1 part honey (optional)
Then mix in pigment to the base in a 1:1 ratio.
In the first phase, its important to make sure the gum arabic is fully dissolved. In the second phase, mix until the paint is smooth. It takes longer than you think.
Once mixed, the pigments stay wet for much longer than the commercial tube paints. I presume this may be partly because of the glycerine and honey additions. The effect of this is to make the paint slow to dry on the paper.
I’m still getting to know these paints. I’ll be testing them next and will write about my results. For one thing, lightfastness on any of these is an unknown. I can’t use them in any paintings for sale until I know how they react over time.
I started with a small batch of each colour – and still have a (very small) jar full of each colour I bought. This is years of supply at the rate I paint.
It may not be necessary to go all the way to Italy to have a go at making your own paint. There is an art shop in London which supplies pigments, resins and gums. I’ve not been there before, but it looks as if its worth a visit.
A word of warning: I was careful to wash my hands thoroughly after making each batch of paint – its a messy business. Strictly speaking, I probably should also have used a dust mask as I don’t know the toxicity level of any of these pigments. I will be getting a good quality mask for future paint mixing and I would suggest it for anyone wanting to try making their own paint.
There’s a bit of a buzz in the house at the moment. We’re getting ready for Cambridge Open Studios in a fortnight.
I had the pleasure of going to see the studios of two other artists yesterday, both are experienced artists and have strong styles. They have very different styles of Open Studios and I was impressed by them both for different reasons. Jo Tunmer and Claire Marie Wood inspired me in different ways which was fabulous when faced with a weekend of framing, and organising to get ready. And it was lovely to have a chance to visit a couple of other studios. So often its not possible if your studio is open on the same weekends.
After a couple of days of working on the preparations, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re making progress. The framing is done:
My Running With Brushes will be on display providing some exposure for the project. I wish I could display the whole collection, but even without being able to show the works of other artists, it should raise awareness.
Cambridge Open Studios in Whittlesford
We’re having an Art Safari in the village to make Whittlesford a good destination for Cambridge Open Studios visitors. With 4 artists works on display within a 5 minute walk, visitors will have plenty to see. It’s taken a bit of organising – firstly to make sure we could all be open on the same days, then to arrange our preview evening for the same time and date. Finally, we got the marvellous Lori Bentley to design our map which will be available at all studios and has gone out in 400 guidebooks around the area.
Between the four artists taking part, many mediums will be on display: watercolour, pastel, oil, acrylic and collage. The range is rich and the colours vibrant.
If you’re in the area, pop in for a coffee and say hello.
African Wild Dogs, otherwise known as Painted Wolves are endangered. They are small sociable canines, native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Their habitat is being destroyed and there are now fewer than 6000 Painted Wolves living in the wild.
Jeremy Borg, CEO of South African wine brand, Painted Wolf Wines is on a mission. Today he started an epic journey on two wheels from Cornwall to Scotland. Along the way there will be wine tasting events and an art auction. Jeremy’s progress can be followed on the Painted Wolf Facebook page.
Jeremy’s Top Dog Trek will raise finds for the conservation charity, Tusk in three ways: Donations, Jeremy’s ride sponsorship, and an amazing online Art Auction which opened at noon today and will continue for the duration of Jeremy’s ride. Bidding will close on 30th June. I’m very proud to be one of a group of artists who have donated works to this Art Auction.
The two artworks I have donated were painted this year in the Drakensberg. Each one is a hand-detailed giclée print. The original painting in watercolour is reproduced as a limited edition of 25 prints. Then each one has additional watercolour and ink detail, making it a unique piece of art.
How the Painted Wolves Art Auction Works
Bidding for a piece of artwork is easy. A simple online form must be completed to register. Thereafter, simply place your bid in a comment on the artwork page. Come back from time to time and check the current bid because the highest bidder on 30th June will be the owner of the piece of art.
The Painted Wolves auction art works include original watercolours, acrylics, hand detailed giclee prints, photographs and sculptures. The first 3 bids were received within 5 minutes of the auction opening and artworks will be on display at a number of events along the route.
For the past three weeks I’ve been painting South Africa. I’ve managed to get my brushes out a few times on this trip – each time the result has been very different.
Every on of my South African journeys invariably involves Cape Town for work, and Johannesburg to visit my family. Both of those are special times for me: Cape Town because it is a stunningly beautiful city and I get to catch up with people whose company I really enjoy. Johannesburg because it’s where I grew up and there are loved ones there who I will always miss. Every chance I get to see them is special.
We feel privileged to be able to introduce UK friends to this beautiful country from time to time. This year, Hayley and Simon joined us in a meander through the Drakensberg and the Natal Midlands so the men in the party indulge their fascination with military history and take a Battlefield Tour (Anglo Boer War).
Our Drakensberg time was spent at the wonderful Montusi Mountain Lodge. We had four days of being utterly spoiled with wonderful food, fantastic scenery and staff who could not have been more friendly. Every single person at Montusi went out of their way to make our time there very special. We hiked, we ate, we laughed, we rode and we fell in love with the place. With two photographers in the group, I’ve got more than enough reference photos to ensure there will be more paintings of the Drakensberg from our Montusi days.
Painting South Africa: The Drakensberg
Anyone who has seen my mountain paintings will know that I am drawn to the majesty of towering peaks and the scale of big landscapes. The Drakensberg is a place I can just feed my visual senses with images and ideas for painting.
We’ve moved on to our final stop on this trip: Glen Ormond in the Midlands. On our first evening here it was clear that this week would hold as many great surprises as every leg of this trip has already delivered.
Not much studio time this week, partly because I’ve been spending time on making creative images in a new way.
Inspired by a newsletter from the fabulous marketing department at Artfinder, I took some detailed photographs of a recent mixed media painting of Borgo di Santa Giuliana.
The painting itself has an element of expressionism to it, not least in the alternative colours used to convey the wonderful warm light in the Italian hills. So it seemed a fitting one to choose to play with perspective using my phone camera.
I am particularly pleased with the emphasis this perspective gives to the wonderful old walls of the buildings in this medieval settlement. The textures in this painting stand out really well when its photographed at an oblique angle. It’s not something I would have considered doing before, but now I have done it, I really love the way this sort of creative image gives the viewer a really close look at the painting’s detail.
Now that I’ve started to explore the idea of making more creative images of my artwork, I’ll start thinking about showing them differently in future.
More creative images
In other news, I’ve been experimenting with a new bit of kit over the weekend. It was high time our office printer was replaced. We’ve been operating with one small printer/scanner/copier for years now and it’s getting long in the tooth.
So when our new whizzy A2 printer with an accompanying high resolution scanner arrived, I couldn’t resist playing a bit. This is the result of my working my way through an entire sample pack of fine art paper: Artist proofs all over the place. The scanner works a charm too – great colour resolution and wonderful detail.
I’ve now found the paper I really like, have ordered two pack (different sizes) and will be able to do my own giclée prints from here on.
This has been a real creative image week for me – and for once, it was not my brush doing the work, but technology.
This little Valentines Day painting was done on Saturday – but didn’t get around to posting it. In Finland and Estonia Valentines Day is celebrated as a friendship day, rather than one of romantic love. So despite living in England, I’m posting this in the spirit of Finland and Estonia’s Valentines Day tradition.
If you want to know a bit more about how this Valentines Day painting was done, I’ll be posting it to the Wash a Week Challenge blog.
Another Valentines Day painting:
And as its traditional to give flowers, I’m also sharing one that makes me smile. Sun Worshipers evokes hot summers days – just around the corner for us now that we’ve passed winter’s midpoint.
These are my Valentines Day paintings for you, dear blog readers. Hope this year brings much love into your life.
We all love a clear blue summer sky, but visually, they’re just not as interesting as one that’s filled with clouds. They lack something special – big moody atmosphere!
Painting atmospheric skies on two continents
The sunsets over Istanbul are spectacular. Its the combination of the sky line and the water seem to work perfectly together to create that atmospheric sky. When in Istanbul, I can recommend a ferry ride across the Bosphorus at the end of the day. If you judge your time just right, you get to see the perfect harmony – and that’s what makes an artist want to get painting atmospheric skies.
And then there’s a sunrise sky in the United States. This painting is derived from a photograph sent to me by an athletic friend who noticed the beauty of the water and sky during his morning run in Wilmington. The first attempt to capture the serenity of the scene was in pure watercolour. This first small Wilmington painting and the view from the Bosphorus image were both done for RunningWithBrushes
The mixed media version of the image took longer – it’s had a number of laters applied to get the right textures. Its darker, and moodier, and it certainly has atmosphere. There’s a sort of ‘noir’ feeling about the final image. And despite being derived from the same photograph, they have very different feelings. Same water. Same sky. Different colours. Different textures. Very different mood.
This week has been one of watercolour plans and some explorations.
Watercolour plan 1 : Open Studios
Watercolour plan 1: The start of the week brought paperwork for Open Studios – and the requirement to make some commitments to painting fresh work and exhibiting. I’ve decided to do both Saffron Walden Open studios at the end of April and beginning of May, and Cambridge Open Studios in July. More on these closer to the time.
Watercolour plan 2 : Artfinder
Watercolour plan 2: I took a decision to do a blitz sale on Artfinder to make space for new works in preparation for these exhibitions. This has proved quite successful so far and 5 paintings went over the past few days. It’s often quite difficult to see a painting go – we become attached to them somehow. But I’m excited about developing new lines of work this year and this will spur me on to get my brushes going.
Watercolour Exploration 1: Wash a Week Challenge
This week’s post explores Daniel Smith’s Lunar Blue. Here’s a little abstract treescape painting I did using only this colour. This will go up on the Running With Brushes site when I have time to post it there. (Life is overtaking me a bit at the moment.)
Following Last weeks Wash a Week post on Quinacridone Gold and Quinacridone Violet, I was asked how similar the gold is to Indian Yellow. I happen to have a tube of Indian Yellow I hadn’t yet tried. Perfect excuse to have a go so here’s the little colour swatch I did to see the difference. Separately, they do look quite similar because they are both strong colours. Put them together and you can see the difference.
Watercolour Exploration 2: Abstracts
On Friday evening I went to the monthly meeting of the Saffron Walden Art Society to see a demonstration of Abstract painting by local artist Joyce Crabb. I’m increasingly interested in Abstract art, and I think probably lean towards semi-abstract myself in some of my looser work. I’m not sure I’ll get comfortable with pure abstract work – at least not for some while, if ever. But I will be experimenting a bit more on the fringes I suspect.
Watercolour Plans 3: Tidying up the studio
I’m a book junkie (and a colour junkie as I’ve said before). I have a fair collection of art books and magazines in my studio. When I set up the space for my painting I insisted on having a corner with a sofa and table, as well as a bookshelf, so that I could sit quietly and enjoy dipping into this exciting reference material and inspiration.
A year or so ago, I did a workshop in oil painting with Stephen Higton and decided to start doing a bit of work in other mediums, so I bought a large easel, amongst other things. Its fabulous to have it, but in a small studio, it was always a bit in the way. No matter which way I positioned it, the bookshelf was obscured and it became a mission to reach it. Result: books not read, or books and magazines stacked all over the sofa and any other free surface so I could get to them.
This weekend I had a brainwave about repositioning things and got stuck in to moving furniture before I got started on painting. The result: