Monday, 31 December 2012

Dub it up

I'm in Trinidad for a few weeks (my husband is working here)and when I visit his laundry room becomes my make shift studio. Wet towels and swimsuits hang overhead and I swat away the mosquitoes as they make a meal out of me. Undeterred, today I returned to the chilli theme; in the caribbean they 'dub up' the food to make it a little more interesting, the key ingredient being chillis in any shape or form. Let the 'liming' commence and Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pewter Jug with fruit

This pewter jug was a lucky find during a visit to our local antique market. I felt it was the sort of vessel one might see in an old dutch painting. It posed quite a challenge when it came to arranging a composition. It works well if the other pieces in the arrangement are all fairly neutral in colour. As I wanted to surround it with some colourful fruits I needed to place the pomegranate on the the right of the composition to keep the eye moving along. This adheres to the observation that a still-life at eye level is read from left to right.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Roemer and Fruit

I take a portrait class every Monday and during the lunch break I hurry down the road with a friend to lunch on a bowl of soup at the local cafe. We pass a beautiful medieval hall known locally as 'Dragon Hall' enroute. It is a historical building open to the public and has a small gift shop. Norwich has many strong dutch influences having been one of the most prosperous cities in England during medieval times due to the wool trade and our proximity to Holland. This replica Roemer glass was in the window; which for a still-life painter was far too much of a temptation. Infact, we both sucumbed, and once home I got my paints out. Yesterday, she bought and collected the painting. It turned out a very worthwhile bowl of soup for me:)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Radka 2

This is the second oil sketch I have done of Radka over the past couple of sessions at the scout hut. It was completed in about two hours. I went for a profile this time which gave me the opportunity to include her dreads which are so much part of her.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Me Time

It is a new experience for me painting figures especially a face at this scale. I think it is useful to produce a small study to gauge whether the composition works and will translate to a larger painting. However, it is wise to keep working over the whole and not hone down to the face; we know this stuff and yet human nature takes over - the result - frustration!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pomegranates and clementine

This is not avertly christmassy but is heading that way.... I thought I would ease myself into the season gently. Pomegranates are such fabulous fruit. I was in Spain earlier in the year where the pomegranate trees were laden with the flower blossoms turning into little fruit. This time of year they are everywhere, they even make it onto my muesli at breakfast:)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

'Compliments don't buy bread.....'

I have been off galavanting, having fun and celebrating my birthday, which accounts for my inactivity on this blog. I spent a few days in Paris, and although poorer in cash terms, I have been culturally enriched thanks to all the wonderful Art I was able to see with visits to the Louvre, Rodin's Museum and the Musee D'Orsay. I have returned recharged and raring to go. One of the highlights for every tourist is the obligatory visit to Monmartre. The artists always draw a crowd and I was keen to have a good look at their portraits. It is interesting to watch them as they pull in the punters and how hard they work for fairly small sums of money. I was humbled when having declined the invitation to pose, I complimented the artist on his technique to be told, 'compliments don't buy bread........' coming from someone undoubtedly living from hand to mouth, it is a phrase that will stay with me for a long time.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Blues

This was my first ever daily paintwork. I never showed it on the DPW site as it was entered into the SAA Artist of the year 2011 and won me 2nd place in the still-life section, it then made it into the ROI (Institute of Oil Painters)exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London; so you can see 'The Blues' has worked hard for me.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Demo at South Walsham

This demo was done during a day workshop at South Walsham last Friday. The set up was one of a few put together by the group. This is a regular venue for me and the set ups have certainly changed; there was a time they was so complex it looked as though we were setting up a stall at a flea market. Nowadays everything is pared down but not without its challenges. I was aware with this painting that the shadows on the whites needed to be strong enough to balance the strong value and colour of the plums and grapes.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Oil Sketch of Sophie

Sophie sat for us this week at the Scout Hut for our weekly session of just over two hours. I thought I had a reasonable likeness but now I look at it and think I made her look a little masculine. Sophie is also an artist so she looked at our efforts with interest!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Japanese Tea whisk and Cup 2

I hid the whisk behind the cup in my last study and thought I better tackle it head on this time, which was not an easy task with a wet in wet technique. Indirect painting has definite advantages!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Japanese Whisk and Cup

This Japanese tea whisk and cup are on loan from a friend. I have beeen avoiding painting them for several days as I knew the bamboo whisk would pose quite a challenge for an alla prima daily painting. The cup is joy to paint; the whisk is not sulking behind the cup for nothing...!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Oil Sketch of Radka

This is the first of two sessions that Radka has agreed to sit for our weekly portrait group. She is a young woman from the Czech Republic and her bone structure is distinctive making her both a pleasure and a challenge to paint.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Citrus and Grapes on Cloth

This was painted late in the day. I raided the fruit bowl once again and set to work in the last few hours before the light went. This seems to happen about 3.30pm now that the clocks have changed. It goes to show that you cannot waste the mornings when the light is good. Daylight bulbs just do not seem to solve the problem for me.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Softly Boiled

The most trying part of the process of painting this was to produce a decent looking boiled egg. My first attempt the yolk seemed non existent , by the time I dug dowwn to it the egg looked a dog's dinner. The toast was ready and the butter had all but disappeared by the time the second egg was ready, so I piled on more butter. Then Minnie my little cat was beside herself trying to climb up to the butter once again. Finally I got down to the painting... hopefully my patience paid off:)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Oil sketch of Alan

Although I am the first to admit there are a lot of adjustments needed on this oil sketch, I had a great time with the process.... letting rip over a two hour session, full concentration with the plotting/drawing stage and then Ipod on and it goes where it takes me. I thoroughly enjoyed myself... what do they say about when you start to enjoy yourself.... Stop!?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cracked Open

Sometimes you choose a subject and sometimes it chooses you. I always favour the large eggs which are a tight fit and prone to breakage in the average egg box. Turning a negative into a positive is always the best way to approach these small daily trials. Broken shell and raw eggs is a popular and fun subject to paint, so maybe it was just meant to be.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Sardine Supper

I had to ban my little cat Minie to the utility room this morning whilst I painted this. She is very determined when she knows there is something worth eating on my still-life table and has been known to lick the butter off previous set ups. I wasn't taking any chances today, but she has been rewarded hansomely this evening with a sardine supper:)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Oil Sketch of Alan

I painted Alan this morning at the scout hut in a single session of just over two hours. Alan runs the newsagent near the hut; everybody who is anybody gets roped in by Phil who organises us all. This painting is my 100th daily painting to be posted so it is a bit of a landmark for me; does it mean I can start a new page of paintings? Rather like being given a new exercise book at school it makes you want to make a fresh start and produce better paintings than the first hundred. Only time will tell......

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Laudanum Bottle

This Laudanum bottle is on loan to me from a friend and fellow artist. It belonged to his father and I have no idea how it came into his possession. I find it a thing of beauty but couldn't help thinking of Lizzy Siddal, the pre-raphaelite model, poet and artist who succumbed to this opium tincture. It would be interesting to know this bottle's history before it landed on my still-life table.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


This bottle of Cajun sauce was a present for my husband who likes his chillies. These small gifts of cooking ingredients dipping bowls etc. all get commandered for subject matter and he doesn't get much of a look in until they have worked quite hard for me. Luckily chillies are often to be found lurking at the back of the fridge and are glad to get out for a bit; which could also be said about me!

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Figs are plentiful at the moment which is just as well as my little fig tree didn't produce any fruit this year. Figs are great to paint; I love the bruised colour of the skin and that wonderful scarlet flesh. They also taste wonderful. There is a saying that to be truly content in life you need to sit beneath your own fig tree. If I am patient my little fig tree will one day grow big enough to provide shade as well as fruit:)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Hot Chocolate and Bourbons

I liked the look of this stripey mug so it found it's way into my shopping basket. My mugs tend to be designated as tea or coffee mugs; this one wasn't having any of it, only hot chocolate would suit. The bourbons with their pinkish chocolatey hue seemed the perfect partner just as they did on the taste front.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Oil Sketch of Tom

Today the portrait group moved to our new venue, yet another scout hut. It is a much lighter room than we are used to, the light bounces around a bit but there are no nasty surprises when we see our efforts in proper daylight. Tom is a local musician and is always a great subject; his hair gets a bit wild the longer it gets and changes his look markedly. This study was completed in just over 2 hours and although there are a lot of adjustments and refinements that could be made I felt I had captured something of him and I had fun, which is what it is all about!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Brown Jar and Fruit

You can see from the last two posts how hard these grapes have had to work for me; seeing them together does bring it home that I am guilty of flogging my fruit to an inch of their lives! I got so caught up with my aim of laying down the brushwork with no fiddling or fussing I painted the two studies one after the other, buoyed by my own enthusiasm, I hardly moved the poor old grapes, I dare not! I think there may be a lesson here?

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Grapes and Pomegranate

Having raided the fruit bowl for this set up; my aim was to lay down the paint and leave it alone, for better or for worse. This simple act seems to take super human effort but the advice of that great painter Richard Schmid rings in my ears...'in my experience, an area is seldom improved by going back into it.'

Friday, 28 September 2012

Lime Marmalade

Lime marmalade is a favourite in our family; children love it as do the 'big kids' in our house. Trouble is, nothing is sacred any longer and if it can't be found in the kitchen it will probably be in the studio being painted or waiting patiently next in line!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Oil sketch of Julia

I finished this oil sketch of Julia today during our last session at the scout hut which is going to be used for storage prior to being refurbished. We hope to return when it has all been completed as in the many years we have been meeting to paint together it is by far our favourite venue. We are off to pastures new next week which happens to be yet another scout hut; thank goodness for the scouts eh?!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Orange marmalade

Citrus fruit is plentiful in the shops at the moment and just begs to be included in a painting. I decided I would include the home-made marmalade again; glass is an old favourite of mine to paint. I'm afraid it is not a true seville orange I have painted as they are not in season yet....... but we can pretend can't we?

Thursday, 20 September 2012


This is my effort at the Scout hut today. We often have a model over two sessions and the time taken on this was approx 4 hours. These are oil sketches from life which I get a great deal more enjoyment from than I do a commissioned portrait. There is no client to please, I can just enjoy myself and paint away for all I'm worth.... how lucky am I!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Bramley and blackberries

Autumn is here..... the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness.' The hedgerows are laden with berries and hips. There is a chill in the air and I can smell the hint of an aroma ..... apple and blackbery crumble, me thinks!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Mimi's fruit cake

Mimi was the name my daughter gave to her Grandmother when she first learnt to speak and we all adopted it. She was a great cook and loved to bake. Her fruit cake was a firm favourite with the family and she would soak it well with brandy to help keep it moist over several weeks. I still make this cake for my Dad, who saves it as a Sunday teatime treat. This pastel is a bit of a tribute to Mimi.

Thursday, 6 September 2012


Yippee......... I am back in business. Not withstanding two weddings, and a painting holiday in Mallorca, I somehow got blocked from my blog. Thanks to the advice of my brilliant new son-in-law I managed to 'crack' the code and I am back on line. This painting 'cracked' (great title under the circumstances) was the last painting I posted on the DPW site as an entry in the 'raw egg' challenge. The last three weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind so I need to calm down and get back to some serious painting. My apologies to all my hard earned followers, I'll make it up to you, just watch this space :)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Oil sketch of Echo

This young chinese woman from Xian, was our sitter at the scout hut this week. I was initially startled by her white wig and thought it may look strange in a painting, but I cannot tell you how much pleasure she was to paint! I have included her photo so you can see her for yourself.

Monday, 13 August 2012


This is one of my pastels on the la carte support and once again I have used the Terry Ludwig 'intense darks' range. They are incredibly soft pastels but as I like to work my pastels fairly thickly, they suit me well. I never fix my pastels as I find that as long as the support has plenty of 'tooth' and the pastel is well 'keyed in' I do not get any pastel falling away. Fixatives have a tendency to alter colour as the spray is never even enough. If your experience is different and you can advise, I would love to hear from you....

Friday, 10 August 2012

Study of Caroline

This study of Caroline was painted from life over two weekly sessions at the Scout Hut; where I meet regularly with a group of fellow portrait enthusiasts. Caroline is a New Yorker, married to a Brit who is just happens to be an artist and tutor. She knew exactly what was expected of her as she is well used to the demands of painters! I really enjoyed the opportunity to paint her.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Yellow rose

I notice that most of the entries in this week's rose challenge on DPW have opted for the rose 'portrait' whereas I have opted to make the rose my centre of interest within a composition consisting of other elements. This is probably because I don't paint many floral subjects and find roses in particular quite a challenge to paint well... sorry about the pun! I know we should consider the colour shapes and not get too caught up with over describing, but even so, this is a tough one!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Green Jug

This pastel study of a green jug together with heritage beets and oil bottle is on 'la carte' support. I use this for the majority of my pastel pieces as it holds plenty of pastel and I like to use it fairly thickly. I love using the Terry Ludwig pastels for the thickest passages and also his set of intense darks which in my experience are unrivalled.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Constant companions

This is my entry in the DPW Challenge, 'a painting to include the primary colours'. I use these pigments constantly: ultramarine blue, yellow ochre and light red oxide. I have started to replace light red oxide with terra rosa which makes some lovely pinky notes on flesh for portrait. Cerulean blue also works well to dull down the reds and makes some good greens with the yellow ochre. The title suits this study because that is what they are.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Jam jars

Last week was hectic teaching a City & Guilds (oil painting) summer school; hence I was unable to post anything. This little study is a 'quiet' still life, not a great deal of colour, but as a fellow painter said to me, sometimes restraint can be a positive; I'm not sure my family agree, they are my harshest critics! What do you think?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cream Tea

It was the final class of my Tuesday Painting Group for the summer term. We had hoped to venture forth and paint plein-air but the weather drove us indoors once again. To celebrate our last session we had planned a cream tea, scones and jam kindly made by Janet and clotted cream brought in by Eleanor. Our set up ended up as the Cream Tea; I hope they all enjoyed painting it as much as they did tucking in during the break!

Friday, 6 July 2012


Cornflowers are such a great summer flower. Their colour is gorgeous and they never fail to lift my spirits. I painted these little beauties in the studio this morning when it was raining heavily outside. I created my own little bit of summer!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Croissant, Coffee and Conserve

This is another still-life with a breakfast theme. These are almost as fun to set up as they are to paint. The only drawback is that the smell of the hot croissant (it has to be warm to get the desired crumb effect) and the buttery aroma sends my little cat crazy. She usually curls up on a chair in the studio when I'm painting but with all this temptation in the shadow box, I spend more time controlling her than I do painting! When I painted the hot cross bun earlier this year I had to complete it with all the butter licked off the top. Sometimes it is really funny and othertimes it is infuriating, it all depends on how the painting is going...... so, what does that say about me?!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Oil Sketch of Adam

This oil sketch of Adam was painted from life over two sittings during the weekly session at the scout hut where I paint with a group of fellow portrait enthusiasts. We have been meeting for nearly ten years now, having worked in several locations during that time. It is great to have the opportunity to paint together on a regular basis, at a reasonable cost and the only break in sessions is over the christmas week. The model for this sketch is a tenant to Phil who runs the group. Adam was a great sitter, I really enjoyed painting him.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


This is a large pastel (33 x 66 inches) and is one of my gallery pieces. My daughter is the model and the painting is a reflection on modern life; no matter where or when, we have a need to connect to the outside world via the smart phone, we can even download kindle and read a book from it.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Squashed Flies

In the UK these Garibaldi biscuits are known as 'squashed fly biscuits' and as kids we loved them all the more because of it. I started thinking about the 'insect challenge' and this visual pun came to mind. I couldn't wait to get up this morning and get painting. First 'find ye a fly........' this one was sacrificed to the cause!

Thursday, 21 June 2012


This oil sketch of Beth was done in a sitting of approx two hours at the scout hut. Beth finds her outfits at vintage fairs and I don't think I have ever seen her in contemporary clothing. Even when life modelling she uses 1920's props as you can see from the quick sketches (10 mins) posted below.

Monday, 18 June 2012

C'mon you yellows

This is another study of chillies; I am working these fellas hard before they get chopped up and added to the pot. The title is borrowed from the owner of our local football club Norwich City whose colours just happen to be green and yellow.