Monday, 29 September 2008

Scarlet and Bold

10" x 8" Oil on hardboard/masonite

This painting was again inspired by an art blog whose theme this week is 'organic'. The word organic immediately brings to mind my allotment and garden which have both been gardened organically for many years. A frequent visitor while I am gardening is the little cheeky robin who with his scarlet breast and pretty song always brings cheer even on a dull day. He will come and sit very close at hand to watch for any tasty morsels which I unearth with my digging and is always a welcome friend. I was surprised to learn that it is only the British robin who is so tame - although I have never been lucky enough to have done so, it is sometimes possible to hand-feed robins as they are so used to human companionship. Not surprising then that this small bird is one of our favourite birds in the UK.


10% from the profits of the sale of this painting will go to the Sarvey Wildlife Center

Please visit my main website for purchase details

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Perfect Peace

Perfect Peace

10" x 8" Oil on hardboard/masonite

This is my latest painting which was inspired by the topic of 'Nature' on an art blog. The expression that nature was "red in tooth and claw" came to mind although I wasn't sure where the saying originated. On investigation I discovered that it was penned by Alfred Lord Tennyson, a poet I had read as a child and whose poems I love.

However, I decided to portray nature as I would like to see it rather than as it is, this time inspired by a rather more famous book - although I've discovered that it is actually a misquote from the Bible but it suited my needs. In my painting the lamb is snuggled up against the protective lion whose magnificent mane tumbles over the lamb's little back. The lamb looks out fearlessly knowing he is perfectly safe.

The colours in the actual painting are somewhat richer than shown here (I have a day later changed the photo which shows the colour a little more accurately)

10% from the profits of the sale of this painting will go to

Tbar True Blue Animal Rescue who have been so involved in helping the animal victims of Hurricane Ike.


This painting is available direct from Anne at or visit

(please allow for drying time as it is shown direct from the easel)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Harvest Mouse

Harvest Mouse - Oil on panel 7" x 5"

These little creatures are the smallest rodents in the UK and according to the BBC website are the only Old World mammals with a truly prehensile tail - that is they can use their tail to grip. What interesting things you find out when you look!

(This painting is now sold)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Colour/color prejudice in watercolours

Well back after a long break - not on holiday unfortunately!

Today I want to talk a little bit about colour prejudice in watercolour painting and, like colour prejudice in the human population, it concerns the colours black and white. However, here the similarity ends thank goodness!

Traditional watercolour purists would never use black or white in their paintings, asserting that black is a 'dead' colour and that white in a watercolour should only be achieved by leaving virgin areas of paper.

When I started painting in the long distant past, being a very law-abiding person, I used to follow this rule and it frequenly made my life very difficult indeed. How do you have white whiskers on a dog for instance if you don't paint them in? Well, when I didn't use white, I basically had two options. One was to simply scratch the paint away with a sharp blade but although I tried many, many times, I never became very proficient at this and instead of nice clean, sharp lines, I used to end up with somewhat 'bobbly' lines. The other technique is to cover the paper you wish to reserve with masking fluid. Masking fluid is a whitish liquid which dries to a rubbery consistency which you can then peel off from your paper. If you decide to have a try with masking fluid, use a pen and not a brush as I did at first - you will never get the dried fluid off your brush. If you want to cover a larger area and have to use a brush, use an old one as you will need to throw it away afterwards. Speaking personally though, like the scratching technique, I never enjoyed using masking fluid.

In my own work, I use watercolour paint in many layers. This in itself would be frowned upon by purists. The fact that I use black and white would just confirm their worst opinion!

However, I must make a couple of, I believe, very important points. Firstly I never mix white with any other colour. I have a real distaste for something which is actually quite widespread in watercolour paintings, and that is 'chalkiness'. I find that this chalkiness completely deadens the painting and removes the light and life from it. I mostly use white where it is the final colour i.e. whiskers or hairs overlapping a coloured part of an animal's coat or the lighest part of a white section. Occasionally I will use it as a 'basecoat' in a small part of the painting. By this I mean that I will paint a very small area white, wait for it to dry completely and then very carefully and lightly, apply a dryish thin coat of colour over the white, thus allowing the white to shine through. If I make a mistake and apply the colour a little too wet or not quite lightly enough and it starts to mix with the white below, I will immediately add more water to dissolve the paint and mop it up - I really, really do hate chalky paintings! Unfortunately this technique is very time-consuming which is why I believe so few artists use it.

As for black I usually use lamp black and add just a little of another colour to enrich it - perhaps a touch of French ultramarine or burnt sienna. I recently bought some mars black but am being very careful about how I use it and in fact will only use it for backgrounds as I like the way it granulates. I dislike it in the body of the painting however as it is a dead, flat colour and despite being black has that 'chalkiness' about it that I don't want in my paintings.

I've included a painting of a border collie today - a black and white dog. This painting contains very little white paint indeed - just the whiskers and where some of the white hairs overlap the black. All the shine in the coat is the paper shining through the paint. Although, as I say, I use many layers of paint, I am careful in certain areas, to make these layers very thin and transparent so that the finished painting will be lively and fresh. The black has been moderated with touches of blue and brown.

So although I am not colour prejudiced in my paintings and will use both black and white, I use them with care.