Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Collection of some of my hippy paintings

I love Hippeastrums (amaryllis) and grow different ones every winter.There are many hybrids & cultivars to choose from and this year I chose a 'Mont Blanc'.It is a snowy white one (with those sparkly crystals) ,as the name implies and I wanted to paint it in gouache on a dark background,for impact. But as it's opened over the days it is quite clear it is not a Mont Blanc at all! The wrong bulb had been put in the box. However it is a most beautiful double variety called 'Dancing Queen' and I have sketched its progress.

Its the first double I've drawn;quite difficult keeping perspective and not getting lost in the multiple petals! As I made colour notes the second bud burst with a pop and started to open in front of me!
I quickly took this photo which I will use as reference with the sketches if I decide to do a painting.
I will get another white flowering bulb for a gouache study (if they manage to put in the right bulb!!)

Happy new year too!!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Autumn Treasures

Just finished the Autumn Treasures painting;putting in the seedpods, crab apple, little oak leaf and 2 dandelion seedheads to fill the gaps!! An enjoyable painting for all the detail in there,which is my favourite part of the process. Also playing with the paints to get more interesting biege,brown -autumn colours. I love Dan Smiths Quinacridone gold for this palette but I found that it is very staining!
 I hope you like the painting. 
Happy Christmas - Nadolig Llawen  xx

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Nearly finished

Heres the latest picture of my autumn treasures painting.Its coming on slowly but surely as I've been away visiting family and friends aswell. Added the cone and red berries and more contrast to the rest.I must finish soon as I've an Amaryllis(Hippeastrum) flower about to burst that I've got to paint !!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Winters here

Winter has now well and truly begun here, with cold, short days. Fortunately no snow yet in Wales but there is further to the north in England and Scotland. I've not been painting much as there were  bookings in the hotel ,coupled with a lack of energy.

Here is an autumn study I'm still working on;below I have yet to paint in some bits! but it shows how it will look when finished -hopefully.The little acorn cups were quite difficult and shows the need to draw correctly before painting-the Fibonacci spiral is used for drawing various natural objects,like pine cones,pineapples, sunflower centers and these little acorn cups.

Take care xx

Monday, 21 November 2011

Autumn sketches

So far its been a mild autumn here,with tons of berries weighing down the branches,beautiful auburn colours and good amounts of fungi to be found.I've been inspired by all my autumnal finds and my studio is full of dried leaves,and other bits everywhere!
The sketch above includes a magpie moth,jay feather, woodpecker feather and crab apple.

The sketch above includes some mushrooms I found today (21st Nov.) which I think are a spring species called St. Georges mushroom- probably out now due to the recent mild weather. Not sure what this feather is either?

Walking the other day I came across a bank full of fly agarics.It was very beautiful.

Below is my finished painting of rose hips.

Playing around the other day with publisher I made a mix of all the assignments I did on the SBA diploma course. It was really good to look back on the work I did over those 2 years and remember the whole experience.

Thanks for all your comments on my last post x

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Red berries

With such an influx of berries this year I just had to do some studies of them. I drew rose hips ,hawthorn, and red chokeberry mainly,but the Cotoneasters and Sorbus are full of berries too,great for the birds. Berries are great for showing dull and shiny high lights which are left as the white paper.They also have reflected light on them too. I bought a new paint from Winsor and Newton - Winsor red deep which is PR 264 ,perfect for these berries.



Chokeberry,dissected hip and honeysuckle
 I lost patience with the chokeberry and used extra gum arabic on the honeysuckle berries-to make them look sticky-um, it didn't work very well!!

Rose hips study

Above I drew both the Rosa rugosa and the Rosa canina -(dog rose) ,with dissections. The dog rose hips are loaded with anti-oxidants especially vitamin C and can be used to make jams and jellies.

 I hope to start a painting of some of these berries soon.

A while ago I did a light fast test on some of my paints mainly the magenta colours-
Lots of different Pv19's,Pr 206,Pr188,Pr122,Pv 23,Pv15,Pv14,Py3 and Pr122 + flourescent which is Opera rose/pink.They are a mix of Winsor and Newtons and Daler rowneys.(Py3 was Sennelier).
The paint swatches were left in sunlight for 6 months. All of them except one was absolutely fine!
Of course -the Opera!!

The top half was covered- you can see a distinct line in the center and the bottom half has faded in the light. It is very noticable in reality - maybe not so much in the photo! I'm sure that people wouldn't hang originals in sunlight anyway (hope!).

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Elan Valley

Here's a few weeping cherry tree leaves I've completed - the colours should be more red - especially in the one on the right,the photo seems to have lost it!

The Elan Valley is a truly beautiful place,with historic dams and 12 SSSI's ranging from ancient sessile oak woodlands to rare flower meadows. It has 4 large reservoirs with dams of impressive architecture, an aqueduct and lots of walks over the estate. My son and I wandered around the woods and trails on a gorgeous day last week and I took 130 photos!
 Here's a few of my favourites.

The dam above has water rushing over it - I've not seen this before there as its normally dry in the summer. 

I've been ill since then but managed to complete another forest landscape,this time in watercolour on Arches cold press paper.I'm not keen on the texture of this paper and prefer hot press but to get looser landscapes its best to use cold press (also called not paper).
I added the birds(red kites!!)for a focal point.

Bye for now x

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Hafod and Hydrangea

I managed to finish this soft pastel painting yesterday which I have had on my large standing easel for 2 months or so.Its a view of a pathway at the Hafod Estate looking into the sun.I'm so glad its now done;it feels good to finish what you started -eventually.I have worked on it a bit more since posting it on Flickr - the shading on the path and more detail in the stones-I tried not to put too much detail in though!

I'd also been working on this hydrangea study in the past week;the beautiful, luminous and fading colours;cool blues and dusky pinks with the umber, lacy, skeletal petals.I love Hydrangeas so much more in Autumn. The pink was Rhodonite by Daniel Smiths - A Primatek watercolour , which is very close to Quinacridone magenta but with a slightly darker,smoky hue.

Have a lovely weekend xxx

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Autumn walks and sketches

This last week has been very difficult at work but its looking up now. I managed to get out to the Hafod and Cymystwyth arch woods to take photos,look for mushrooms and recharge energies.
The photo above is from the arch woods; the leaves are not quite autumn coloured yet.

Here's the snaking river Ystwyth at the Hafod estate.

I loved this trail of distant sheep!

Saw so many goldfinches tucking in to the thistle heads;There were many Jays too.

Heres the arch at Cymystwyth- built in 1810. The road used to go underneath but it has been bypassed now,to keep it stable.

Below are some fungi sketches ,just quick drawings with colour notes and written details in one of my sketchbooks.

 These are Hygrocybes from the Hafod fields drawn this week.

These are from this week too found at the arch woods.I'm not sure of the exact species names,just their genus' ,its so difficult to identify the species names.

Heres an old sketch from 2007 at the arch woods too.

Ceps,porcini or penny bun - Boletus edulis to be exact but highly edible; I found these and sketched in 2009,near the Ystwyth valley. They have a great velvety cap and white patterned stipe.

This is a really old drawing,watercolour and pen, a blushing bracket-from 2004 when I first started botanical art.

Lastly an old beech leaf  -  not had much time for the leaf challenge unfortunately.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Indian Summer

After cold and autumnal weather last week ,to boiling hot sunshine and blue skies this week. Its a glorious indian summer here in Wales,better weather than it was in the summer!
I've just been catching up with some painting but you can't paint much in beach weather!

I think I've finished the cornflower for my friend-not sure whether to add the single petals or not-might just keep it simple.

Finished this spike in the gladioli painting too.
I think I'll work on a fungi painting for autumn when this is finished.

I started selling greetings cards on my website too-I already sell them from the hotel so thought I'd set it up online, there's a link to my website on the right hand panel of the blog.

Heres my latest colour chart.The colours with the little stars by them are my favourites and so on my palette.I got some M.Graham watercolours which are nice to work with. They stay very moist and so easy to re-wet and the colours are slightly richer than the other brands. M Graham Indian yellow is luscious but see how vibrant scarlet lake by Winsor newton is. I think its nice to have a mix of different paint brands but it can get expensive (and addictive-especially when you see all the colours available from Daniel Smiths!!!) I'll stop buying paints now.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Gouache Technique

Hippeastrum Bud in Gouache
I had a request from a friend to explain my technique in gouache painting;so heres a tutorial showing my method.

My gouache paints
I have Schminke artists quality,Winsor and newton designers and a couple of old Daler rowney goauche paints. The Schminkes and W/N's are good quality with no white added and so are not chalky and can stay on the palette.The Dalers are chalky-with white and fillers added;they form a hard lump on the palette and fall off-but I still have them-they're OK to mix- some I don't use

I have Schminke PY3 lemon yellow
Schminke  PY119 & PBk 9 raw sienna
Schminke Burnt sienna
Schminke PR101 english red
Schminke PV19 Quinacridone violet
Schminke PB27 Prussian  
Schminke PB29 ultramarine
Schminke PB16 Helio turquoise
Schminke PG36 & PO62 olive green
W/N PY35 & PO20 cadmium yellow
W/N PV23 winsor violet
W/N PR108 cadmium scarlet
W/N PR254 Winsor red
W/N PR122 quin. magenta
DR yellow ochre
DR Burnt sienna
DR coeruleum hue

I have mostly chosen paints with the same pigments as lightfast,transparent watercolours and are marked on the tubes as permanent;there are many fugitive gouache paints-and I stay away from those-like rose tyrian,spectrum violet and alizarin.

Heres the arranged palette-with the W/N white (PW6- titanium white) and W/N ivory black top left.
The white is added to lighten the hues and create high lights and the black (and other dark colours) are used to darken the tones. It is more difficult to get the right hues with the red and yellow paints.
I use synthetic brushes around size 2 to 4- or old sables that I no longer use for ordinary watercolours.

First of all I draw the chosen subject-an Anemone japonica 'Honorine Jobert', onto green mount card-you can use any colour card but it must be smooth.

The drawing shows up in white pencil.
Then start adding layers of white and tinted grey paint, mix it not too thick, not too thin. 

Just keep going -layering the paint and blending in. 

Be very careful though with the underlying layers as they can be lifted easily. This can make gouache a very frustrating medium to work with so lots of practise is needed.

Then after adding shadows and high-lights -start adding details-the best bit for me!

Here's the almost finished painting (you can keep fiddling!)-It took approx. 4 and a half hours to do this much.

With the actual flower
Here's a link to the Handprint website for a really in depth read up on gouache;

I hope this helps and inspires. xx