Being the Student – Fishing Boat

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Painting number 5 in my Glyn Macey’s Acrylic Workshop was of a fishing boat. Now I love drawing and painting boats. I have absolutely no idea why, especially when I am not very good at painting water – so I tend to paint them moored (a big, BIG cop out I know!), but they appeal to me – I think it’s the shape I love.

However I am not too good at water and have never really liked my paintings which included the sea. So although this tutorial had a boat, it also had water and people (albeit it simple silhouettes) which meant I was going to be a little bit out of my comfort zone.

I have a new found love of Pthalo Blue –  I was stupidly put off it when I did a 3 day art course in St Ives some years ago whereby the teacher wasn’t keen on it (I since found out that she painted a lot of flowers so I guess it made sense) therefore she didn’t encourage anyone to use it, which I now find daft as we were painting the sea outside on the rocks by Porthmeor beach…it would have been perfect.  Anyway after that I chose to leave it out of my palette until a couple of years ago. And now I love it. So imagine my delight when I had to add Pthalo Green to the mix – wow – these colours have a real punch.

I am a cautious painter, as in I like to build up colour which can be frustrating and also can muddy the paintings a bit. So my eyes were wide when I saw the glorious blue and green mix and it was with trepidation (and with my breath held) that I painted the background with a DIY paint brush. And although it wasn’t an old beaten up paint brush (like Glyns), I was pleased with how it worked and how the colour sang from my paper.

I was amazed at how the sea came to life using Glyn’s techniques and enjoyed using the collage too. I have tried using collage in the past with varying degrees of success, and I am learning that subtlety is the key.

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I really do recommend Glyn’s Acrylics Workshop and I love the fact that I can complete a painting in one sitting and know that I have learned heaps in the process.

Hope you have had a lovely Bank Holiday and have a great week.

Helen x

Being the Student – Autumn Barn

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It’s time for painting number four in my Glyn Macey’s Acrylic Workshop tutorials and this one really appealed to me. I love this type of composition and I also loved the subject matter too.

I am gradually getting better at laying down loose washes or using my brush to make marks which are less controlled. I am trusting more that this will be okay even when I look at the painting and wonder if it WILL look semi-decent once I’ve finished!

I was talking to my husband about this painting and how I wouldn’t normally have the confidence to use old netting to make marks on my paper – it’s too unpredictable. I told him how I would be apprehensive, possibly even a little fearful of using this method half way through a painting as what would happen if it ruined it? What if I got so far and it all went wrong due to the lack of control over what I am doing. And then it hit me as I was telling him, that this is why my paintings are too ‘neat’ at times. I need to colour outside the lines more. To enjoy the spontaneity of using different materials to make marks with. I mean I have an old biscuit tin filled to the brim with things to make marks with – all of them barely used. I kid you not when I took it down from the shelf, I had to dust the lid of the tin.

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So I love the fact that I am encouraged to add more life to my work. It is only a piece of paper after all (even if you have just spent the best part of half an hour painting on said paper and liking it) it still is only a piece of paper on which you can start again. Therefore the way I see it, every mark made on my paper using any tool I like is a progressive step.

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There are many things I want to get out of these workshops but one of them is to loosen up more and be more expressive. And would you know, I feel like I am actually getting somewhere – the real test will be when I attempt one of my own paintings!

Happy Sunday to you

Helen x

Being the student – Venetian Sunrise

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My third Glyn Macey tutorial was a picture of a Venetian sunrise. It’s strange but I knew straight away when I saw the picture, before I had even watched the tutorial and before I sat down to paint it, that I would find this one extremely challenging.

I felt right out of my comfort zone, which is not a bad thing…..actually, no, it’s a good thing, as that is when we really learn.

In all the tutorials I have done so far there is always a stage when I think this isn’t going to work and this painting was no exception. Actually quite often when I paint a picture I feel this….so I was grateful to have the safety blanket of Glyn’s step by step process.

There is a video clip doing the rounds at the moment of the great late David Bowie talking about pushing yourself as an artist and he likened it to being far out in the water where your feet are barely touching the ground and it’s at that point that you are in the place to do something exciting. I felt a bit like that at some point.

I completely enjoyed the tutorial and relished the colour palette. I loved using such bold and vibrant colours and creating a painting in a way which is different to my normal style and approach. I am also grateful that Glyn is mixing it up a bit, giving us challenges with different types of scenes, colours and techniques. The joy in these workshops is that you get to try lots of things you may not normally have thought of and see how they fit. I think that is just the best, I mean, what a great way to learn.

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Have a wonderful and relaxing Sunday.

Helen x

A new painting

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I truly believe I am a continual student. I adore learning, taking new courses and reading all manner of books. I am always looking for new painting techniques to stretch myself as an artist. I crave the excitement of new paints, new colours and new ways of adding colour to a canvas. I feel utterly reassured with acrylics that I can paint over something which doesn’t look right and either start again or just remove the thing which offends my eye. And then every now and then I fall back in love with where I first started off – with watercolours.

I painted these leaves from an idea I had in my sketchbook a while ago. I played about with a new colour combination and really liked the mixes they produced. Eventually the sketch called to me again and I decided to create a painting from it.

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I hadn’t used this paper before and I found that it gleefully soaked up the colour, allowing me to really get a strong contrast in colours.

I hope you like it and it is now over in my shop waiting for a new home. Below are some WIP shots as I don’t know about you but I always love to see people’s work in progress. I am sorry some of the lighting on these are not great – I was impatient and took pictures as I went along regardless of the light!

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Happy Friday  and have a lovely weekend.

Helen x

Being the Student – Fancy a Pint?

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For my second painting in Glyn Macey’s Acrylics Workshop I chose the one he calls ‘Fancy a Pint’. Considering it’s the hottest day of the year so far it did feel a bit strange painting a snowy scene!

I haven’t painted many snow scenes before so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and how easy/difficult I would find it. I can honestly say that it did stretch me, which is exactly what I wanted this course to do.

When I paint in acrylics I normally start off with very thick paint or even a palette knife working on a canvas but the way this painting is structured (and my previous one) was to paint with wetter washes initially and then build up to thicker paint.

I had some old Daler Rowney Cryla paper kicking about which I didn’t particularly get on with but couldn’t bear to throw away so decided to try it again for these tutorials. Whether it’s Glyn’s magic, who knows, but it’s working out okay on this paper – I had labelled it up to use as collage paper so feel quite chuffed that it is getting used.

I only have one picture of the painting a short way through as I was too busy having fun to remember to take any more.

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I am learning so much from Glyn’s tutorials already…..learning to not be so precise but allow my brush to make happy mistakes. Learning to allow random brush marks to show through my painting and not fret over the outcome.

As before, I have put it in a mount/frame to get a better idea of how it looks.  All in all I am pleased with how it came out.

I really would recommend Glyn’s Acrylic Workshops if you are looking to improve your painting skills and like me, become a bit free-er in your painting style….they are just great.

Being the student

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My wonderful husband bought me a years membership to Glyn Macey’s Acrylics Workshop a few months ago and at the weekend I did my first painting.

Every two weeks Glyn posts a new video in which he paints a scene and demonstrates lots of useful tips and tricks. I’ve never been a lover of ‘painting-along’ with artists…..not sure why, but it’s just not been my thing, however, I love Glyn’s work – I have two of his paintings at home – and he has such an easy going way that it’s like you are in the studio with him.

So this weekend I did my first paint-along and oh my, was it trickier than I thought.  I had already watched the video so knew that to expect, but it took me a while to get used to stopping the video whilst I painted.  Initially I tried to paint really quickly until I realised that I could pause it for as long as I liked (yep…daft eh), and eventually I got into the swing of it.

My first scene was that of London and I was utterly surprised at how it came out. Normally I would be trying to paint every single building which I would find quite intimidating so I enjoyed this abstract approach.

I have a frame lying about so decided to put it in there so that I could see how it looks, as framing and mounting a picture gives it space to appreciate it – almost like it allows it to breathe.

I really enjoyed this exercise and I am so pleased I have this membership as I need to stretch myself and learn more. I want to develop my own style and try new ways of painting and most of all – it was such fun!

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All set up ready to go….

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Mid-way through

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Collaging Fun!

Yesterday Daisy and I spent the afternoon collaging.  It was a coldish day weather wise, the sky was a flat, uninviting grey and it felt like a stay at home kind of day.

I have a drawer bulging with all sorts of papers to be used for collaging…..tissue paper, magazines, wrapping paper, watercolour paper which I have painted on, calendars etc. Basically anything that can be used goes in that drawer. Armed with a bundle of papers, glue and card we sat at the table and just played about.

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Daisy created a garden scene and I picked a photo I had taken of Lands End in Cornwall some years ago as inspiration for the picture.

There is something extremely therapeutic about ripping up paper, getting the glue out and sticking to card. Like most people I think it takes me back to being a child and to be honest, what’s not to like about that.

I decided to be a bit more experimental in my colours and all in all I am quite pleased with it, especially as the last time I collaged was at an art workshop I attended in June last year. It also made a refreshing change from painting which does me good. Collaging has an unpredictability which I admit at first I found a bit unsettling as I am used to sketching things out in either pencil or paint, but I had an idea in my head on how I would approach it and I just had fun.

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And every now and then when a hint of uncertainty of where it was heading crept in I said the words ‘I am enough’ just to quash that self doubt.  If you’ve not seen this video from Marisa Peer then I highly recommend it – it really has changed my way of thinking.

Anyway, I hope you have had a great week and that your Sunday is a relaxing and happy one.

Helen x

Sunday Sketches – Ooh La La!

Sunday Sketches Header - transparent background larger version pngI’ve been very up and down during last couple of weeks, mainly due to being ill – twice – which means my normal routine goes out of kilter. Thankfully I’m just getting back on track as I hate it when I have no energy for anything.

This weeks Sunday Sketches entry is my Parisian girl. She started off as a quick doodle on a scrap bit of paper when I should have been doing other things, so I then decided to try and bring her to life.

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In all honesty I prefer the little doodle as in the painted illustration she ended up looking a bit stern and serious. Hence why I love just playing about as my work ends up being free-er than when I sit down and make a conscious effort to paint something. I will have to think up a little mantra to say to myself when I work on something I want to turn out well……to stop me from being all tense!

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I hope you all have a lovely Sunday. It’s a crisp sunny day here today….a nice day to go for a walk and take in the fresh air.

Please do pop on over to Alexandra’s blog to check out the other entries.

Helen x

Sunday Sketches – Sidney the Snail

Sunday Sketches Header - transparent background larger version pngIt’s been a busy week and on Friday I took the afternoon off to spend time in my studio finishing a painting that had been patiently waiting for a while. I just need to frame it and then I can put it in my shop. I then started another one which was an experiment in painting in a looser style.  Not sure if it worked, but it was fun to do.

I also created Sidney the Snail as part of of my illustration characters – I enjoyed creating him and he was inspired by the snail on my Valentine’s Card last week. I used my Kuretake watercolours again and whilst I love the colours, they didn’t really like the paper in my sketchbook – I think the paper in it isn’t the best for paints.

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I hope you all have a lovely Sunday and please do check out the other Sunday Sketches entries on Alexandra’s blog.

Helen x

Sunday Sketches – Love Birds

Sunday Sketches Header - transparent background larger version pngIt’s Valentine’s day so it’s only right that my post for this week’s Sunday Sketches should be love related.

Jim and I always make each other our cards – be it Valentine’s Day, Birthdays or Christmas. We both prefer it that way, which is one of the reasons why he is so perfect for me.  So my entry this week is my card to Jim. My best friend, my inspiration, my soul mate….the only man who has ever really got me. I truly count my blessings that I have found him.

The card kind of depicts us – as he is tall and I am short, so I thought maybe a snail could help these Love Birds be on the same level. I had a lot of fun coming up with the idea.

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I hope you have a lovely day however you spend it. As I get older I am less consumed with the commercialism of these events, and just prefer being with those I love, whether it’s friends or family.

Have a beautiful day and please do grab a cuppa and visit the other entries over at Blue Chair Diary’s blog, which is what I am going to do.

Helen x