Spring brambles

Painting greens without using green paint again, the bright spring growth and shadows in the ridges of bramble leaves emerging in the warmth were a great subject for a couple of quick sketches.

Spring Brambles watercolour sketch
Spring Bramble leaf watercolour sketch

Taking a break on a walk through Hatfield Forest, I noticed the rich dark red rims on the edges of the bramble leaves. It struck me that there’s a significant difference in tone between the bright reds of autumn, and the dark red rims and veins in emerging growth of springtime. Autumn colours seem to blaze with resistance to the passing of the warm weather.  Red tones in spring are dark and deep, showing the intensity of the growing period just started.

The first little study of three leaves was done in my sketchbook.

Spring Brambles 2 (watercolour sketch)
Spring Brambles 2 (watercolour sketch)

New shoots burst forth, bright green from last year’s darker growth, speeding upwards towards the sunlight with the vigour and energy of spring.  My second sketch depicted the the strength, speed and flexibility of the newly sprouted branch, running obliquely from old-established sections of the plant.

There is such promise in the fields and hedgerows at this time of year.

Birch Grove in the sunlight

While we wait out the cold and snow, I am determined to keep thinking warm thoughts and reflecting them in my painting and my blog posts

Birch grove in the sunlight (watercolour)
Birch grove in the sunlight (watercolour)

The birch trees in my front garden are still bare. Any day now the little green shoots will start to appear.  This was painted to the rhythms of some great rock music on a summer evening, and I think that shows in the sunny treetops and warm glow in the branches.

It is now with my lovely friend, Jennifer in sunny South Africa. I think it’s in exactly the right place.

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Advertising your exhibition

The success of an exhibition is partly due to the advertising and marketing. Naturally, the purpose is to get as many people to see the exhibition as possible. But in addition that, it’s also worth considering who you want to be in that group. Ideally, you want to be targeting people who are interested in original art, and likely to:

a) buy original art

b) spread the word about work they like (word of mouth can be the most powerful marketing of all)

c) provide you with valuable feedback on the work.

Here are a few ideas you may want to consider:

Develop a mailing list

These are people who know your work and would like to be invited to a preview event.

  • When you mail them the news of your exhibition, ask them to forward the news to others they think will be interested, or bring friends along to the event. People sometimes need to be reminded that they are welcome to do that (and in fact that you actively encourage it – it’s a good way to build your mailing list).
  • Keep track of who has accepted so that you can cater adequately at the preview event, and also so you can;
  • Send a reminder email out 2 days before the event. Include map and parking information in this one, as well as any other last-minute information
  • Expect at least 10% to drop out at the last minute. Stuff happens in people’s lives.


Put out a press release about the exhibition and send it to the local press (newspapers magazines and online)

  • Include a photograph of a painting that has great impact. The more attention-grabbing, the better. We included Girls’ Best Friends on the event poster and that resulted in it being used by a number of publications to illustrate their piece about the event.
  • Compile a spreadsheet to track the publication names, contact person and email addresses of all your local media. This will make it easier to get in touch with them for future events.
  • Think about the demographic of the readership of the magazine, particularly in light of the audience you would like to attract. If a publication has a high proportion of readers who are interested in the arts, it is more likely to publish a piece about an art exhibition. Double bonus: better chance of publication, and the opportunity to reach a higher number of the people you want to attract.
  • Be mindful of deadlines. In particular, printed publications often have quite long lead in times for publications. It’s worth finding out what they are. We left it a bit too late for some of ours and missed out completely on getting into a few key publications.

Cambridgeshire Journal, March 2013

 Look out for local ‘what’s on’ websites and e-bulletins

  • Get in touch with them to get a listing in at the right time. For the weekly editions, a couple of weeks run up to the event should be sufficient.

Put up posters in the local vicinity if you are allowed to do so by councils

  • If you can’t get them onto pavements or public spaces, ask a few people who live close to the venue if they would mind having a temporary sign on their gate or fence. This may only work in villages. It certainly worked in ours.

On the exhibition days, make sure the signage is good

  • People will give up and go away if they can’t quickly and easily work out where you are.
  • It is also a good way of attracting serendipitous visitors. People who have a bit of time to spare and see your signs may well want to pop in for a browse.

Social Media

  • Set up a Facebook Event and invite the Facebook friends who are based in the area where your exhibition will be held.
  • Tweet your event when you announce it.
  • Post news on Facebook and Twitter as your plans develop and things get done.
  • Post news about event publicity. The publications get additional exposure so they love it too.

Get creative

  • Partner with local businesses where you can.
  • Think about what public holidays are taking place during your exhibition time and see if you can take advantage of them some way.

exhibition invitations

What other ways have you advertised your event? Please share them in the comments.

The more people get into the habit of buying original art, the more they will buy original art in the future.

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Four Seasons IV

Four Seasons IV (watercolour 38 x 48 cm)

As the Four Seasons series has evolved, each painting develops more distinctions between the seasons. In the earlier versions, the change of seasons was depicted mainly with colour. The paintings always start from the centre, work outward and move clockwise through time.

Four Seasons IV (watercolour 38 x 48 cm)
Four Seasons IV (watercolour 38 x 48 cm)

A couple of weeks ago, the fourth version of Four Seasons started to take life. For the first time, changing shapes joined colour in the representation of the seasons. I predicted that the painting would produce some surprises along the way – and it certainly did.


Four seasons reprise 2 (watercolour work in progress)

The most interesting paintings to execute are those which attempt to express an intangible concept. There’s a sense of real anticipation at the point of starting a new painting – even when its a concept I’ve tackled before.

My original Four Seasons painting is turning into a series. The first version sold at the Foxton exhibition last year. A second one was requested and when it was recently hung in it’s new home, a new one was requested by visitors. The challenge now becomes painting the concept in a similar style, but with an element of evolution.

The beauty of the Four Season paintings is that they develop in surprising ways. Four Seasons 2  was more textured than it’s predecessor. This weekend Four Seasons 3 was started.

Four Seasons reprise (watercolour work in progress)
Four Seasons reprise (watercolour work in progress)

Here the first section of the painting – these ones always start from the centre and work outwards.

Four seasons reprise 2 (watercolour work in progress)
Four seasons reprise 2 (watercolour work in progress)

Then unexpectedly, green shoots appeared during the second wash. These weren’t part of my initial ideas about this painting, nor did they appear in either of the first two versions. There’s still a long way to go on this picture and as this is just the beginning, I’m sure it will deliver a few more surprises along the way.

New website development:

I’ve developed what was a general Links page into one dedicated to listing artists whose work I admire.  New additions to the page are Sue Rapley whose works in oils and watercolours are vibrant and filled with colour and energy, and brazilian illustrator Simone Matias.