Tag Archives: painting

A Daffodil for a Dreary Day

So, that’s dark and dreary January over. Thank goodness. February here may still be dreary but at least the days are getting longer in soggy England. February hasn’t gone well so far for us. Only three days old and already three bad things have happened. First, a close family member on my husband’s side has passed on. Next, we hear some other bad news, upsetting us both. And this morning, though nothing as bad, nonetheless annoying, my dishwasher decided it’s had enough and promptly went bang, knocking out the house’s electricity.

The power’s now restored (hence why I’m a little bit late with this post!) but it’s back to dishpan hands and soap suds for me this weekend. (Dave, where’s the handcream?) One bright start to the month was having a lovely lunch with Tricia. The okay food was more than made up for by the company, conversation and laughter – it’s the reason why we meet, after all. Thank you, Tricia. Looking forward to the next time.

It’s been so wet, cold, windy and miserable here in Britain, that it’s been impossible to do anything for the last three months in the garden to restore it to normal after last November’s major overhaul. Instead, we’ve filled the house with flowers and bulbs, rooms filled with the scent of hyacinths and the amaryllis a giant at over 3ft tall with three magnificent blooms.

The gardens are now springing back into life. (Pun there, did you notice?) The front lawn a riot of snowdrops and crocus and first of the daffodils in flower.

Out back, primroses are brightening the pond and the hellibores up and coming. During the dark days of January, I’ve been plotting and planning and ordering new plants. I want the garden to be a blaze of colour this summer, in fact all year round if I can achieve it, and if the winds don’t take it all down.

I mentioned last time the birds are returning. I was so pleased, until… Last weekend was National Birdwatch Weekend in Britain, organised by the RSPB. As several of our birdfeeders were damaged, we bought new ones and stocked up with plenty of bird feed and treats. I was looking forward to spending a happy hour or so watching my delightful garden visitors. I think the birds must have known something was going on as both Saturday and Sunday, not one single bird arrived. It wasn’t just in my garden either. For some unexplained reason we saw none in other gardens, or in nearby trees, and none flying overheard except one solitary gull, and they don’t count. Low and behold, this morning they are all back, so I’m one happy bunny again.

PS: I was just about to publish this post when I received a bit of good news which has also cheered me up. Hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you?

Silly question, really…

Kit’s Website and Blog  and  Kit’s Art  Site

 

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Out of My Comfort Zone

As you probably are aware, I like to paint. It’s a wonderful hobby and given me a lot of fulfilment, but also a lot frustration. This is apparent when a painting doesn’t work out quite as envisaged. Or when my husband, my harshest critic, doesn’t like something I’ve created. His opinion of art is that a painting should be photographic in its image, especially when observed up close. He doesn’t understand a painting is simply an artist’s interpretation and that most art should be seen from several feet away. I think this is the main reason I become increasingly self-critical and hesitant to start a new picture, to the point towards the end of last year I had totally lost my mojo. This, for me, was bad news. Put simply, I had no idea what to paint.

I spent hours trawling the Internet for images, days scanning photographs on Pinterest seeking that one picture that would get the creative juices flowing again. I splashed out on half a dozen large canvases, took long drives with camera at the ready – anything to fire the enthusiasm and push me into opening a tube of paint, dusting off the brushes and setting up the easel. All to no avail. I seriously thought I was all burned out where painting was concerned. And staring at a blank canvas, not knowing what to put down, is as bad as a writer staring at a blank sheet of paper or computer screen at a loss for words.

Then one 100_6751day, whilst idling a morning away on Facebook, an advertisement popped up of a forthcoming day’s art class being held in my region. The tutor, Jeremy Ford, a professional artist I knew from watching many painting programmes on TV and whose work I admired even though he doesn’t use acrylics, was tutoring in pastels – a medium I had tried a couple of times but always a disaster and incredibly messy to use, let alone all the chalk dust created. The fee was expensive but all materials were to be supplied and open to beginners and established artists alike. I wondered whether trying a different medium might give me some inspiration as I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms from not painting for so long and frightened I might lose what little talent I had. Having nothing much else to do in the middle of November on a dreary Saturday, I thought what the heck! Let’s give it a go. So I booked. And wondered what I had let myself in for.

Poppyfield PastelThe location was some distance from home, an hour’s drive through heavy fog, as it turned out, but the moment I walked into the venue I felt at ease, even though I was the last to arrive, and a little late! We got down to work, with Jeremy explaining step-by-step how to use pastels correctly. And most important of all – how not to make a lot of dust. The most difficult part is using the fingers or side of the hand to blend in the colours. If done right, no dust should be created at all. Brilliant! It was hard work but the day flew by. Although we were all painting the same two paintings, one in the morning, the second after lunch, everyone’s work was different. I was more than pleased with the two works I did, and so enthused I came away with a pastel pad and a bundle of pastels Jeremy said we could keep if we wanted in order to do some pastels at home.

Lake District PastelI drove home elated, satisfied with the day and the work I produced. More importantly, I have regained my confidence and found my mojo. Since that day I have produced another painting in acrylics, started another and even attempted another pastel, although I binned that as it wasn’t good. But I shall not give up. It certainly paid to step out of the box for once and away from my comfort zone. Long may it continue.

A Happy New Year to you all and I hope 2015 proves to be a great one for you.

A Splash of Paint

Whilst the weather in the UK this winter has been more than a little wet, it has enabled me to indulge in one of my more recent hobbies; that of painting. Recent, because I only found my muse some 6 years ago whilst at a writing “holiday” where, finding my tutor was a stand-in and a person I wasn’t fond of, I opted to do the painting class put on for accompanying partners. I had dabbled in watercolours (dabbled being the operative word here) since school but was never any good. On this course the tutor allowed me to try all mediums until I found the one that was meant for me: acrylics. That first stroke of the brush and I was away! So I do hope you’ll forgive me this little indulgence.

Lavender Dawn

Lavender Dawn

The first real success came when a lady in Germany saw one of my bluebell paintings (my first serious work) on my website and persuaded me to sell it to her. I was reluctant to let it go, it being my first baby, but I did, turning me into, as someone pointed out, an “international selling artist”. Wow, what accolade! She went on to purchase two more bluebell paintings and is now considering buying another. Since then, my work has sold in Spain, America and Canada, as well as in the UK, with several donated as prizes in various raffles and fund-raising events. And, of course, most of my family now own a painting or two, which is rather nice. And, surprisingly, I have sold two paintings already this year – a fabulous bonus!

Sunset on Snow

It’s a most relaxing hobby although at times can be exceedingly frustrating when something doesn’t work out how I intended or I can’t get something quite right. My husband is very much my top critic although he does have a habit of pointing out where something is not right long before I’ve even finished it! And not all I do is good; there have been many failures, ones I wouldn’t dream of showing to anyone, but one of the joy of acrylics is that you can paint over a canvas time and time again.

Painswick Hill

Painswick Hill

Since taking up this hobby, I find I see the world differently. I notice the seasons more, observing shade and light, even the sky and clouds with increased intensity, as well as appreciating colours and the effect of shadows and the movement of water and the reflections it creates. Most of my work is of landscapes, real and imagined, often from photographs, or photos giving the inspiration, the starting point. This is needed as, like writing, one can be faced with a blank canvas and not have a clue where to begin, let alone know what to actually paint.

Hampshire Ford

One great help in this score is belonging to an online art group whose leaders set a challenge each month for us to tackle, often being out of my comfort zone, ie portraits or people or animals – none of which I am good at because I cannot draw; all my work is freehand. This month’s topic is “what Spring means to you” so this has given me a wonderful opportunity to try my hand at a vase of spring flowers. For the first time, I’ve painted a “draft” on paper so I have something to follow although the final painting, I hope, will be far better.

Wish me luck!

First draft

Spring Challenge: the first draft