Make a Splash 21-28

The last week my family have been away on holiday, our first in a very long time.  We had a lovely time and I am pleased to say I even managed to keep up painting for my Make a Splash challenge.

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#21 Lily Pad and Tadpoles.  Don’t feel this one was as successful as i wanted, the white got a bit heavy again.

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#22 Luggage. Trying a lighter more subdued palette.

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#23 Calendula

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#24 Rooster.  We stayed on a farm so there were plenty of these beauties to inspire me.

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#25 Clematis

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#26 Peacock Feather.  There was a peacock on the farm and his feathers were simply amazing (also they are extremely noisy birds)

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#27 Flower Doodle.  I happened to pop into an art shop and picked up a few new colours which ended up looking pretty good together, this was my little test to try them.

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# 28 Blackberry Flowers

I wish I had gotten more done while I was away, 50 paintings still seems like a stretch for this month.  But keeping up a habit when your schedule is disturbed is a challenge in itself.

I hope you all had a great week and I look forward to catching up with all your work.

Make a Splash 11-15

I have a feeling that I’m addicted to challenges, at the moment not only am I doing my personal 365 day challenge and the Cass Art Make a Splash challenge but also the popular Every Day in May.  Maybe it’s because the crossover of making art everyday makes it easy to sign up to anything that helps keep it up, and being prolific is the best way to improvement.  I’m not sure exactly what the etiquette for EDIM is but I decided to do birds for Every Day in May.

Just realised that Every Day in May is a very specific set of challenges each day (draw something hot, draw a tree…) so I’m actually NOT doing that.  One less thing to think about!

2015-04-29 22.22.54 #11 Mistle Thrush.  Very disappointingly overworked! 2015-05-01 21.19.56 #12 Redstart.  Again I think I overworked this with the details a little, it’s a fine line between keeping something simple and then going overboard.  The white inking is a lot of fun so it’s hard to show restraint sometimes. 2015-05-01 21.45.13 #13 Robin.  Much much happier with this one, I love how simple it is and I started using colours for design a bit more, so it’s less accurate than my birds in the past but maybe more charming? 2015-05-02 22.38.50 #14 Turtle Dove.  While I really enjoyed painting this again I think the final details look overworked, so this is obviously something I need to keep in mind when I’m working on a piece. 2015-05-03 21.42.30 #15 Grey Wagtails.  This I am really rather proud of, it has just the feel I was looking for.  A simple design with very clean colours.  I sacrificed accuracy in colour (these are more blue than grey) but think they still come across well. So only 35 more to go, I feel like I need a bit of a push to get some more done this week before we go on holiday(!) but I think I might just make it.

Cassart Make a Splash Challenge 1-4

The last couple of days I have been attempting to catch up with the Cass Art “Make a Splash” watercolour challenge to make 50 paintings by May 30.  That means nearly 2 paintings a day for a month for me.  I feel a little insane attempting it but the benefit is that I’m finally diving into paintings with ideas I’ve had swimming in my head.

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I’m attempting more of an illustrative feel for these than my usual sketches.  Learning to simplify and still make an image come across is so hard without pen for me, but I’m finding it a lot of fun trying.  Simplifying this landscape is one of my top challenges, I want to get a little more depth into this.

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So inspired by the spring leaves emerging on the trees lately.  I love these vivid greens (much more vivid than real life obviously), and playing with tree shapes.

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All the birds around here have been gathering materials for nests.  This is my first attempt at a piece that tells a story.

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Birds again (surprise surprise).  I love the elegance of barn owls, though making the chick cute was a challenge!  I actually liked the finished product enough to make it into a simple Mother’s Day card with some hand lettering.

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This wasn’t an official entry in the challenge, but the weather has been so fine today that I couldn’t help going out and sketching some of the beautiful spring trees I see from our garden.  It’s always good to practice since I”m sure I’ll be doing lots more trees in the next month!

Do you have any personal challenges coming up for May?

Flowers, Pheasants and Fields

The first day of my Garden challenge went well, it always helps when there’s a bit of warm weather and sunshine.  Along with a lot of gardening I made a lot of attempts at capturing some of the flowers that are open in the garden this time of year.  My favourite are Hellebores, they are so elegant.


But however many times I tried I just never could paint them in a way that I liked.  Finally I decided to try drawing with liquid watercolour and brush and came up with a simpler illustration.


This morning I did some very quick gesture sketches of a pheasant visiting the garden.


And a quick attempt of the view from our kitchen towards the hills.  There was a touch of snow up on the fields in Exmoor.  Wish I had worked the colours a bit better but overall fairly pleased with the composition.


I want to take a local class on watercolour landscapes in April but hope to improve a little on my own before then.

An Early Morning Start and New Challenge

I love it when I wake up early and get some painting done before the family wakes up.  I always seem to do better work and it’s a good way to set up my day.  Yesterday I managed to do two paintings in the morning.


Lesser Spotted Woodpecker


Snowdrops.  Painting white flowers is no easy task, I figured by creating a dark background the effect of the white would be more dramatic, even with the petals in shadow.  I look forward to learning more about botanical illustration in the future.

I also went out for a short sketching session in the afternoon.  I meant to go down to the village to draw some of the old cottages, but got distracted by the early flowers along the way.


This camelia was in full bloom in a neighbour’s garden.  In real life it was a shocking vivid hot pink that quinacridone rose couldn’t even capture.  I did the outline in watercolour pencil and coloured it in with my St. Petersburg palette.  I wanted to use watercolour pencil for the details but didn’t like the look of it after a few petals.  I lifted it off with my brush and afterwards and just suggested the veins with the brush.

Speaking of flowers today marks the start of my next challenge “Garden Month”.  I have a beautiful (but neglected) garden but don’t go out to enjoy it nearly as much in winter.   Spring is such precious season that I want to enjoy it as much as I can.  I hope to get some gardening and sketching done by spending a bit of time everyday out in it (rain or shine).

Do you have a personal challenge for March?  I’d love to hear about it.


Crazy for Birds

Lately I have been drawing and painting lots of birds.  I love that their shapes are fairly simple but the colours and variety make them challenging and interesting.  I can highly recommend the Craftsy class “Drawing Birds in Brush and Ink“, it is packed with information about bird anatomy, feathers, rendering in pencil and ink.  Superb resource if you want to get into bird illustration, especially highly detailed ones.  I’ve been doing mine more loosely in watercolour but am totally hooked.


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