Great teachers

Watercolour painting. Cat Napping (RWB0067) Artist: Vandy Massey
Cat Napping (watercolour 6 x 4 inches)

I’ve been lucky to have some fantastic teachers in my short painting career so far.  It all started with a four day intensive exploration of a range of media with Mark Judson which inspired me to take up watercolours in the first place. Then progressed through a series of one-to-one sessions in watercolours with Gilly Marklew, and continued with a workshop in loose colour work from Jean Haines. More recently, my foray into oils with Stephen Higton and acrylics on the workshop by Georgia Mansur, all have been inspiring and hugely knowledgeable. They’ve all be generous with their knowledge and I’ve learned so much from spending time with them.

I’ve written before about my block when it comes to painting people and animals. My inspiring sister, Lori Bentley has the ability to capture the essence of a person with only a few pencil strokes. I’ve watched in amazement as she does this with deceptive ease. And I do know just how difficult it is – I’ve tried and had some embarrassingly awful failures.

I showed one of these to my sister and, when we’d finished laughing, she created me an email tutorial on painting portraits. As a prelude to painting people, while we were on holiday in France, I’d plucked up the courage to try painting a frog, then I had a go at an Augrabies Flat Lizard. The portrait still eludes me but I’m getting closer.

Over the summer, Lori and my fellow 100 Wash Challenge artist, Olivia Quintin met our cat Horatio and both found in him, a co-operative and enticing model for a watercolour painting. (If you’d like to have a look, here are Lori’s Horatio and Olivia’s Horatio ).  This afternoon, I decided to take the leap and progress from cold blooded to warm blooded animals so I had a go at painting Horatio from a photograph taken while he slept on the garden table.

Thanks to all my wonderful teachers, but in this case, particularly to Lori for her inspiration and her tutorial:  people paintings coming soon, I hope.

Five by Five: cat’s eyes

Cat's eyes in green and blue (watercolour sketch)
Cat’s eyes (watercolour sketch)

The end of a wonderful long weekend, and the end of my self-imposed Five by Five challenge. It’s been a great exercise. Firstly, it made me focus on painting every day, and on blogging every day, and it got me thinking about the things that make me smile.

My last five are:

– Horatio. I’ve posted photos of Horatio before and he has his own special category in the blog. Admittedly there are only two photographs of him so far, and neither could be painted because they would just look wierd. So, I did a little watercolour sketch of cat’s eyes to represent Horatio. He is on my list of subjects to paint and clearly (judging by this little sketch), I need more practice painting cats before I can do him justice.

– My job. I often bemoan the fact that I don’t have more time to paint. But that shouldn’t be taken as that meaning I want to spend less time on my work. (Rather that I just wish there were more hours in the day, or that I was more organised with the hours I do have). I love the work I do and wouldn’t change it for anything. My company works with great clients. We love dealing with every one of them. And on top of that, we’ve recently added investment research to the work that we do which is fantastically interesting.

– Knitting. I spent almost all of Monday sorting out thousands of balls of knitting yarn. No, that doesn’t mean I have a stash of yarn that counts into the thousands. Instead we’re closing down an online knitting yarn business we’ve had for the past two years. Perhaps once that has all been sorted out and put to bed properly, I’ll have time to get my needles out again. It can be a great way to relax.

– Aquilegias. They self-seed in our garden and come up again in early summer. They always bring the rest of the flowers following along behind them. This year I want a carpet full of aquilegias

– My sister who is was my first artistic inspiration and who can be relied on to always give me an honest answer to even the most difficult of questions. I would feel lost without her in my world.

Thank you for taking this five day journey with me. I hope it wasn’t too tedious. Tomorrow morning it’s back to work and the usual routine again. Hope you have time to paint something fabulous this week.

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