A busy summer, part 1.

Well it’s been a while since I last posted anything. I’ve been a bit busy!!

The summer turned out to be a lot busier than I had anticipated!

It began, of course, with my Book Illustration module re-sit. I hoped to do the course justice but, sadly, it was not to be. But I did manage to pass which is the main thing.

However, I thought that I would share some of the work that I produced. The first project was a set of three paintings which were illustrations taken from one of Malcolm Pryce’s Aberystwyth Noir novels.

The brief was to read one of the six Aberystwyth novels and then create three separate paintings illustrating three different scenes from the book.

I chose the novel Don’t Cry For Me Aberystwyth and I decided to create paintings of some of the characters in the book.

With this first one I decided to create a painting of an old sepia photo. In the story it is an old torn sepia photograph of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and Etta Place, Sundance’s companion taken just before they set off to Patagonia. I researched the Wild Bunch outlaws and managed to find original photographs of the real men and Etta. I had to amalgamate two different photos into one, but I think it works.


The second painting was of a character in the book called The Man in the Fedora Hat and the character is described in detail; from his fedora hat being pulled down low over his face to his black and white brogues and silk handkerchief in his pocket, and him standing in the shadows under a streetlamp. You learn later on in the book the man’s real identity, but I won’t give the game away! I recommend you give these books a go! Especially if you like old 1950s film noir detective stories!


The final painting is of a character called Miss Evangeline. In the book Miss Evangeline is showing the detective, Louie Knight some old photographs of herself and one is described as being of her when she was Borth Carnival Queen, dressed in a swimsuit and wearing a tiara and sash, sporting a beehive hairdo and eye make-up like Dusty Springfield.


The other project I completed was a design for a book dust jacket. We were given a list of authors that we could choose whichever of their books we wished to. I chose Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina. It was one of my favourites stories as a little girl and I was fortunate to have a photo that I could use to depict the character of Thumbelina. I really enjoyed drawing the artwork for this one because I finally got to use my expensive Polychromos coloured pencils!!


While I am pleased with the work I produced, I have come to the conclusion that book illustration is probably not for me. I’ll stick to realism and painting what I can see!!

My latest work.

In the second semester I have continued with my still life paintings. Each subject is a vessel of some sort. The focus was on depicting the material the object was made from accurately. The compositions were simple to allow the focus to be on the objects and their relationship with each other and their surroundings.

This painting was focusing on the relationship between the teapot and the milk jug and how their shadows interact with each other.

I started this painting using a pallet knife but it soon became clear that it was not going to be possible to convey the reflective surface accurately. As you can see in the first image, it was looking more like a patchwork teapot that a shiny crock one! So I reverted back to the paintbrush for this one.

I always have a coloured ground before I start a painting. I chose a warm mustard yellow for this painting. I did intend to keep it as the table colour but it was too bright and took too much attention away from the objects themselves. As you can see from the work-in-progress photos, it took some experimenting before I found the colour that worked. I also struggled with finding the right colour blue for the milk jug. At first it was too bright and it became the only focus but eventually I found the right one!

My apologies for the change of lighting with the last two photographs. I couldn’t seem to find the right lighting conditions to photograph it at it’s best. It is somewhere in between the two images. However I did lighten the table slightly as it was a little too yellow.

Finally, after eventually calling it finished, (knowing when to stop is the hardest thing to do) I decided there was too much table on view, too much dead space. So the decision was made to crop it. I just hope I haven’t cropped it too much! Please comment and let me know what you think.

Final painting 7

The final finished painting.  Untitled  acrylic on paper board  297mm x 351mm.

Artists I admire. Part 3.

I met David Grosvenor when he tutored an art session at Tywyn Art Group. He was trying to teach us how to do wet on wet watercolours. He has infinite patience that’s all I can say!

He works primarily in watercolours but also works in oils. I adore his watercolours of flowers.  They have so much life to them, yet are so delicate also.


His oils are just as exquisite.


But he doesn’t just paint still lifes and flowers. His landscapes really must be seen in person for the full impact to be appreciated. If I become half the artist he is, then I will be a very lucky girl.


David exhibits widely and has his work for sale all over Wales. Here are just some of the galleries where you can find his work.







Mixing greys in acrylic

I promised you a video on how to mix your own greys, sadly my camera has decided it no longer wants to record video and so I am having to resort to still images! Hopefully my descriptions and images will be enough, but feel free to ask me any questions if they are not!

So we’ll start with photo one…the colours I have used. I am using Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylics. These are not professional artist acrylics but are a good budget range.

Paints re-sized

Just in case you can’t read my writing, the colours are:-

  • Ultramarine Blue PB29
  • Cadmium Red PR112
  • Cadmium Yellow PY65
  • Cerulean Blue PB15:3, PBk11, PW6
  • Alizarin Crimson PR170, PV19
  • Lemon Yellow PY3
  • Lamp Black PBk6
  • Payne’s Grey PBk7, PBk9, PB29
  • Titanium White PW6

If you are wondering about the codes next to each colour, these are the pigment colour codes. I have included them for a very important reason. Different brands can often make a colour that is different to another brand even though it is called the same name. But you can rest assured that if you buy a paint colour by the pigment code, you will get the same colour, no matter what brand it is. For the colours that have more than one code, it is not a pure colour and so you will need to buy each individual code in order to make up that colour or a paint with all those exact codes.

Now we have got that out of the way, let us get down to mixing greys! There is the lazy way of mixing grey that I have included in the next photograph. You can mix Titanium White with either Lamp Black or Payne’s Grey and you will get a grey. Now I can hear you thinking, of course you will get grey from Payne’s Grey, it’s in the name right? Well, actually, Payne’s Grey is made up of Ultramarine (PB29) and Ivory Black (PBk9) in professional artist’s colours and, as with Galeria paints, also with Carbon Black (PBk7), no white.

As you can see from the photograph below, you can see the greys you can get by mixing Lamp Black with Titanium White and Payne’s Grey with Titanium White. Now while they make satisfactory greys, I personally feel that they lack something.


Now I am mixing greys using just two of each primary colour. There are more but we would be here for some time if I mixed using everyone! Most of the time, I only use Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow to mix my greys. It is possible to get a warm and a cool grey with just those colours. It is all about the balance of colours used.

To start mixing take a small amount of Cadmium Yellow first as it’s easier to add to without you wasting a lot of paint. Then add a tiny amount of Cadmium Red. You won’t need anywhere near the same amount as the yellow, as the red is much stronger than the yellow. You want to create a good orange before adding the blue. Then add a tiny amount of Ultramarine Blue. Add a little at a time as it’s better to have too little than too much, or it leads to paint wastage! Your mix will turn brown to begin with. You need to keep adding the blue until the paint changes from brown to almost black. If you are unsure whether you have got to that stage, then you can take a small amount out and add a little white to it. If it turns grey then you are at the right colour. Don’t add white to the whole mix as you want to keep that as your master mix, for when you want to darken a grey you are using.

As you can see from the photo above I did a warm and a cool grey mix. A cool grey has a blue bias, while a warm grey has either a yellow or red bias. Although I haven’t shown it in the photo, you can mix grey with a purple bias where you add more red and blue than you do yellow.

There are other blues, yellows and reds that you can mix with. I found that I got much closer to a black with the Ultramarine/Cadmium Red/Cadmium Yellow mix than I did with the Cerulean Blue/Alizarin Crimson/Lemon Yellow mix. I found with Cerulean it was much more like a brown mix but that could just be my mixing! It’s all about experimenting with your paints to see what they can do.

Please feel free to comment if you think I have missed anything or if you want to ask any questions!

Workshop 2

Remember in a previous post I mentioned a workshop where we had to mix our own greys? Well this is the result of said workshop. We had to do this with a pallet knife, which is fine when you’re just blocking in rectangular shapes but not so easy when you are trying to paint objects that are round or have any texture or pattern.

I spent most of the workshop mixing the greys so had very little time to actually paint the still life. But apparently I did an okay job, as my tutor was happy that I was able to accurately depict the correct tones of each area. Again my control freak would have preferred to have finished it but at least I got to use up all that grey paint on my masking tape painting!

I hope to be able to upload a video on how to mix greys soon. So watch this space!


Workshop 1

Every week, on my painting module, we have a two hour workshop. Sometimes it is a practical session where our tutor attempts to teach us something! These sessions are not about producing a finished painting, which is a good thing because I never managed to complete anything in the two hours! This particular workshop was about using coloured grounds. That is, painting your support with a background colour before you begin. This can be beneficial in a number of ways. One, getting rid of all that white can make it less scary to put colour on it! Two, it can add interest to your painting if allowed to show through or to be the background and three, it can change how a colour interacts with the colours around it.  


This particular workshop was about how colours interact with each other and how they can change when painted over certain colours. If you look at the photograph above you can see that the yellow almost disappears on the yellow background, while it appears cooler on the green background.

Colour relationships can also be important when you want to try glazing in your painting. Choosing the right colour for your glaze can make all the difference to the atmosphere of your painting. In another workshop we mixed different greens and then painted them over various different colours. Some colours made the green appear warm, some appeared cool and some almost disappeared completely.

WP_20170316_002 (2)

When considering a colour for glazing, always make sure that you are using a colour that is transparent. Opaque colours won’t allow the under colour to show through. Most good quality paints will say on them whether they are transparent (t), semi-transparent (s) or opaque (o). I am not an expert at glazing, in fact, I am practically a beginner too, but I am passing on what little I know to you all! If you want to learn more there is a great article on Artists & Illustrators magazine’s website artistsandillustrators.co.uk/…/how-to-layer-colours-5-glazing-essentials and there are some great videos on Youtube of course!


Artists I admire. Part 2.

I thought I would tell you about another artist that I admire. Her work is so beautiful and she happens to be a lovely lady too.

I first met Valerie Land when she came to tutor a session for Tywyn Art Group. She always made the day so enjoyable with plenty of laughs. She made everything look so easy but our measly efforts were never anywhere near the quality of her work.

She mainly works with watercolour and gouache, though uses other media too. Her shore paintings are stunning, as is all her work. In fact I can’t quite find the words to do her work justice so I will finish this little post with some of her work.

You can see more of her work at valerieland.co.uk

f1_winter_barn_ Valerie Land

Winter Barn – Mixed Media – 50cm x 50cm

mermaids_necklace_ Valerie Land

Mermaid’s Necklace – Gouache – 30cm x 30cm

f1_secret_garden_Valerie Land

The Secret Garden – Gouache and watercolour – 29cm x 29cm

Images courtesy of Valerie’s website. All images are subject to copyright. Used with the kind permission of Valerie.

Studies in tonal greys.


After my success with the masking tape I decided to do some further studies in grey. I wanted to concentrate on the forms and tones rather than obsessing over my colour mixing skills (they need some work!). I mixed my own greys as this can give an added dimension to your paintings. I will do a separate post on mixing greys.

All three paintings were created using a pallet knife and a paintbrush. Some things are difficult to do with a pallet knife alone, like curves. Although the pallet knife is great for creating textures as with the tables in the vase paintings. Textures can help add interest to a painting. I achieved this by creating layers with the pallet knife.

‘Vase in Grey’ is on an A4 acrylic board. ‘Two Vases in Grey’ and ‘Three of a kind’ are both on A3 boards. All in acrylics. I did have alternative titles but my tutor suggested not to give them titles that would limit how viewers would see them. Well, he actually said, not to give them titles but I couldn’t bring myself to leave them untitled! But I won’t bore you with a discussion on the merits of titling your work, just now!


Getting out of my comfort zone.

Up until I started at university I had barely touched a pallet knife, except when I wanted to create texture. But I’m a control freak when it comes to my paintings, I obsess over detail. That’s fine if you’ve got all the time in the world to finish a painting, but in uni, you don’t have months to do one painting!

It was the day of my ‘happy accident’, just after we had a workshop with a pallet knife and I had all that left-over grey paint! Well, to cut a short story even shorter, my tutor suggested using a pallet knife for my next painting. That way I wouldn’t be able to obsess with tiny little details using tiny little brushes!

Another first for me was painting on a canvas. Before uni, I had always painted on paper only, now I’m using boards and canvasses. Okay they may be small ones but it’s a start! And the results? Here they are….

Both paintings are done with acrylic on 12″ square canvasses.

The green bowl I am really happy with. I love the colour and am pleased with the texture of the bowl. The broken pot was not planned to be as it is, and my control freak doesn’t like it! It was incomplete when I took it to a group critique session. It was meant to be a cream and blue miniature Chinese bowl but everyone said they liked it as it was and that I should leave it alone. So my tutor said just to add the shadows and leave it. But to me it will always look incomplete. My inner control freak doesn’t like unfinished pieces. But there is one thing I am learning from my time at university, that each painting is a learning experience and it’s not always the end result but what you learn in the process. Now if I can get my inner control freak to get that, I would be much more relaxed with my work!

My happy accident.


I had been at university for a few weeks before I produced anything that I was remotely proud of and I wasn’t really trying! I had completed a workshop where we had to mix our own grey and I still haven’t learned how to mix paint without having a large amount of paint left over!

So there I was with all this magnificent grey paint that I couldn’t bear to throw away. I had a couple of hours before I needed to go home so thought what can I do with this paint? I looked around for something simple to paint and there was my roll of masking tape on top of one of my boards, that I had painted with a background colour earlier, but damaged so had decided it wouldn’t do for a REAL painting.

So I grabbed a pallet knife and got going. I concentrated on the tones and how they related to the tones around them, not thinking of what the item actually was until the end. I kept going until I had used up most of the paint that I had left over and voila! There it was, probably the best painting I had done up until then!

Everyone who passed said they liked it, that it had something! What this? This, using-up-paint-I-couldn’t-bear-to-throw-away-on-a-scrap-piece-of-board thing? So it seems I do my best work when I don’t care about the result! I guess I learned that day that art can surprise you and you achieve far more when you’re relaxed and going with the flow! 😁