30 Day Painting Challenge

I’ve made it to the end of another painting challenge and here’s the collection of works. Now for the big question – Why do we do it to ourselves?

Every time I take on one of these I reach a point somewhere along the way where I ask myself that question. It doesn’t seem particularly sane. But I do know the answer: I do it because it makes me paint more. It’s very easy at the end of a working day to just sit passively in front of the TV – that’s always a temptation. But if I’m working towards a goal, I will get into the studio for an hour or two before I slow down for the evening. It’s as simple as that.

A painting challenge just like any other training, is an opportunity to practice and improve. It’s really no different to the marathon runner who puts their running shoes on every evening and gets on the road for a training session, or a cyclist who pedals along tarmac for an hour a day. It’s just exercising a different set of muscles – the creative ones in this case. (I’m sure we do have creative muscles – if not literally, then at least figuratively.)

Here’s a brief breakdown of the painting challenge works:

20 paintings donated to Running With Brushes

1 birthday gift

5 in my collection available for sale

1 commission

1 personal challenge (no prizes for guessing which one that was)


Getting some perspective - a painting challenge (watercolour 38 x 28 cm)
Getting some perspective (watercolour (38 x 28 cm)

Paintings of Fishing Flies: Frosty Smelt

Paintings of fishing flies. Frosty Smelt (watercolour 15 x 10cm)
Frosty Smelt (watercolour 15 x 10cm)sc

My series of paintings of fishing flies has led to quite some interesting discoveries. I found out about a film called Kiss the Water  about Megan Boyd. It happened to be screened in London this week so I went along to see it. The film is a combination wonderful animated paintings and images of Megan’s Scotland, and interviews with people who knew her. Well worth watching if you have a chance to see it.

Today’s fishing fly is  Frosty Smelt: another one tied by Darren MacEachern. It’s available for sale on Running With Brushes and is number 22 in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge. I’m a little late, but catch up quickly.

Here’s the series of paintings of fishing flies so far:

– Purple and Black Beaded Woolly Bugger

– General MacArthur

– Megan Boyd’s Beauty – Sold

– Frosty Smelt

Fishing Flies Painting: Megan Boyd’s Beauty

Fishing flies painting: Megan Boyd's Beauty (watercolour 15 x 10 cm)
Megan Boyd’s Beauty (watercolour 15 x 10 cm)

The next episode in my research for the Fishing Flies Painting series involved a little discovery. In conversation with a friend who fishes, I learned about Megan Boyd – an eccentric Scottish woman who lived a austere life in the Highlands, and created the most complicated, wondrous fishing flies.

Her fishing flies are in museums and collections all over the world, and she famously turned down a request from the Prince’s aide who, on behalf of his royal employer, asked for a few little fishing fly gems in a hurry. She was going to a Scottish dance that night.

Megan Boyd never charged more than £1 for the flies she made, which now change hands for £1000 or more. She died in 2001 a the age of 86, leaving behind a legacy of delicate beauty.

Fishing Flies Painting Series so far:

– Purple and Black Beaded Woolly Bugger

– General MacArthur

This painting is part of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge and is for sale on Running With Brushes in aid of Care for Casualties.

Fishing Flies Painting: General MacArthur

Fishing flies painting: General MacArthur (watercolour 15 x 10 cm)
General MacArthur (watercolour 15 x 10 cm)

This is the second in my fishing flies painting series for Running With Brushes.  I’ve been researching the subject online and talking to friends who fish. There are so many different types of fishing fly, I’m going to be spoiled for choice.

This particular fly is called General MacArthur by Darren MacEachern and Carrie Stevens – the red, white and blue, with the yellow and black flash make the US military theme quite clear. I found the painting of it a little challenging because I wasn’t in my studio so I didn’t have the brushes I would normally use.

The other Fishing Flies Painting in series so far:

Purple and Black Beaded Woolly Bugger

More tomorrow!

Fishing Flies Painting: Purple and Black Beaded Woolly Bugger

fishing flies painting in watercolour
Purple and Black Woolly Bugger (watercolour 15 x 10cm)

So here it is: the first of the fishing flies painting. In yesterday’s post I mentioned that painting a damsel fly had led me on to an idea for a new series and this is it.

Sometimes inspiration for a subject is a bit like that word association game families play on long car journeys. I started with painting wings as an exercise in mastering strokes with a round brush, wings led me to flying insects, which led me on to fishing flies. And they have such great colours, they are a dream of a subject for a watercolourist.

Fishing Flies Painting Series

It was only a while after I had finished this painting that I remembered having seen a fishing flies painting somewhere else. Eventually, I managed to squeeze my brain enough to remember where it was: fellow 100 Wash Challenge artist, Christy Lemp posted a picture of a gorgeous fishing flies paintings on her website in May. The subject is ideal for Christy’s wonderful bright loose style. She turns them into little gems.

I enjoyed painting this one so much that I’ve decided to do a series of them for Running With Brushes. Another one tomorrow, perhaps.