Site Festival Artist’s Open studios

Thanks to all my visitors that came over the last two weekends to my open studio. The sunlight was out for most of the two weekends, which was a real blessing! Tea and biscuits in the sunshine, greeting my visitors in a studio crammed full of work…perfect.

Studio shot

It was great to hear so much positive feedback on my work. Even if you’re visiting an artists studio and never picked up a paintbrush, you can get an idea of how lonely it can be sometimes. There are many ups and downs of working full time at your passion – some days I’ll have painted all day in my studio until the light fades away and the next day I’ll come in and be frustrated with my previous efforts! My paintings are definitely produced with my utmost enthusiasm and energy, but still aiming to capture the immediate energy or response from my subject, right through to the very last layer of paint.


My bluebells received the most praise during the open studios, and its quite a favourite of mine too! I was focussed on creating the depth and drama of the trees and the bluebells. Building layers of brush marks in a variety of sizes and directions is an effective way to add personality and atmosphere to a painting.

To those who missed the open studios, my exhibition also featured a large oil painting of roses. I’ve been working on another project alongside the landscapes and the collections of objects from my travels and walks, which is of movement in nature. From drawing the outlines of shadows and plotting the tremble of petals in the wind, I found myself drawn to a photograph I’d taken a while back of two roses, one fading away and petals beginning to fall, and the other in rich, luscious bloom.


I used the interest of movement in these delicate forms to explore that in the movement of my paintbrush. Throughout my degree, I was fascinated by the use of very thin oil paint for its similarity to watercolour. I experimented with building up very delicate layers, with expressive marks, so there was a glimpse of the layer of paint before the next one. There was a lot for my eye to explore in this painting of the roses, from the rich encircling layers of tone in the blooming centre of a rose, to the drifting and fading petals.

I also made a visit to the ‘Fresh Art Fair’ at Cheltenham racecourse this Friday, and it was fantastic! It was great to see such a variety of galleries, and some quite prestigious ones too, altogether in a jam packed venue. I’m definitely inspired to visit more art fairs in the future. Some years ago I made a visit to ‘Art in Action,’ which sadly no longer exists, but it was great as I managed to squeeze in some taster courses pre-booked in advance, including egg tempera painting and Islamic geometry. At the Fresh art fair you could also watch some artist demos and ask a few questions, which was rather exciting.


Chatting to a few galleries, I felt inspired to pick their brains. What makes a good artist? I asked ‘Beside the Wave’ gallery. What makes a successful, established artist sing out to you? The reply was; An established, successful artist has a strong, personal style that speaks out to you from a distance. Not only does that artist have a clean, distinguishable style, but an ability to adapt and experiment, for example, change their palette of colours, and remain consistent.

Wow. I felt really inspired. I looked again at that artists work on the wall and thought…one day…I’ll be that artist!

May is a fantastic time of year for painting outdoors. By June and July, I get followed by the mosquitoes and the horseflies, and the heat gets a but much painting for long hours outdoors, but May often has a bright sunlight during the day. Being so close to April there is sometimes the unexpected rain cloud or thunderstorm, so I find lots of changeable subject matter to work from. Artists’ weather forecast is looking good!


I also got asked a few technical painting questions during the open studios, so in response, I might just share a few of my own techniques here on my blog, so stay tuned! Over time I have made my own preferences towards painting supports, mediums, etc, and through experimentation have found things that have worked/not worked. They are of course, personal to the way that I work but I can offer some tried and tested advice on beginning a painting and technical issues with oil painting. Any suggestions on topics would be received and answered with great contemplation!

Thanks for having a read, I’m hoping to update my blog a little more often as I paint more frequently these days as we draw into summer..and the days are longer…hurrah! I’m about to begin two huge canvasses as a commission, which is going all the way to America once completed (exciting). Also, a while ago I had artwork in the Doctors surgeries of St. Briavels and Trellech, which was a great success and they have invited me to exhibit with them again. So in a couple of weeks I shall be hanging quite a bit of work for them. I would love my paintings to find some good homes!


Open Studios is nearly here..!

A belated blog post I’m afraid! However, I have been busy creating and working away and with the Stroud Valleys Artspace weekends coming up I will have a whole range of artworks, drawings, sketchbooks and cards for you all to enjoy. More details can be found on the Stroud Valleys Artspace website or by clicking the online directory

427e93b610795c95494b2eec73321fb6There will be 102 artists opening their studios for the Weekends 6th-7th and 13th-14th May (including me!) and we’re all hoping for some glorious weather and lots of visitors. If you can’t make it to all the artists studios (there are quite a lot..) then why not come to the taster exhibition? The opening night is this Friday 5th May 6-8pm in 39 Kings Street, Stroud and the exhibition continues the 6th-14th May. This will showcase a piece of work from every artist exhibiting for the two weekends, to give you a flavour of all the art that is buzzing in the Stroud Valleys.


This last month of my painting practice has had a ‘plein air’ feeling to it. Sometimes when I come across an old sketch or painting, I can distinctly remember whether it was painted outdoors or from a photograph, so I wanted to rekindle the looseness and freshness of my mark-making that would hone my artistic voice. Working from life is such a challenge as it really exposes your artistic ‘handwriting,’ such as the marks, dots, scribbles that you use to symbolise the observed subject. An intense week spending time drawing and painting on the coast of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, got me to think about honing the intentions of my artworks and think about my mark-making, whilst having a cold slap in the face from the icy wind and being cast a spell by the sea mists.


Sometimes the light was so fleeting and transitionary, I often had the sense it felt right to just stop painting and let the artwork remain as raw as the subject was.

Rome Fragments

Aside from my plein air work, I also had the urge to capture some of the Roman fragments I had frequently photographed during my trip to Rome. At the time, I was also playing around with some collage and liked the idea of tearing up a complete image to make a new composition, and I felt that the was naturally done by the museum curators fixing all these fragments together to explain something about its original state. Whereas the archeologist might look at all these fragments and clearly establish that it was part of a fresco, I feel they are just as interesting in their odd array in display cases. I often look at the fragments and try to make sense of the story or era that they come from through paint.


A few weeks ago I finished my intensive four day paper making course at Bath College, taught by Elaine Cooper, who learnt the Japanese craft of paper making for 10 years in Mino, Japan. I had attempted paper making at home before, reading a few books on it and having a go with recycled paper, kitchen blender, and a crudely made mould and deckle, but I was sincerely disappointed with the results. Having failed at that I thought I must give it another go…under instruction! And what pleasure I got from the course! I learnt both the Western style of paper making, using a metal mould and deckle with cotton fibres, to the (difficult) Japanese method with a bamboo mould and deckle with Kozo fibres. It was so useful for me to learn by the true master -everything was taught from how to make a strong sheet of paper by moving the mould and deckle (in a certain way) to knowing the right consistency of pulp to water. Quality paper making can only be achieved by fully knowing the fibres that you are using.

I decided that my final project (which we did on the last day of the course) should be a series of handmade books inspired by the theme of nature and the materials that I used throughout the course. I love both the natural patterns of nature and its imperfections. Rather akin to the concept of ‘wabi-sabi,’ I dropped natural fibres into my paper mixture to achieve random effects. I also enjoyed using the skill of lamination, where I can layer in leaves, or other material, in-between the layers to make one single sheet with interesting textures. Above are my books, soon to be finished, bound with linen thread, and hopefully I will be inspired to write and draw into them. This is a rather beautiful video that shows the Japanese process, from collecting the raw plant material to making beautiful paper:


I returned from my few days immersed in paper making to catch some of the beautiful sunlight that April has offered. It has given me a taste of summer! A few smiles from my neighbours who see me clamber over the stile for the fields in my painting smock, portable easel, palette and brushes. I often find inspiration just around the corner from home, being so lucky to be in the countryside, and means I can have a tea break too!


This snowdrops piece is now finally finished. It needed a lot of attention to give layers of  paint for the effect of frost and snow between the grasses. Again, having the looseness of the brushwork becomes more and more important to me, as it breathes life and energy into the subject, and sometimes I feel the energy of the subject fluttering in the wind or changing position.


A busy week ahead for me as I get the studio tidy and presented with all my work for -not just one- but two open studios weekends! Really excited for this event and hope to see some familiar, and hopefully new, faces at the exhibition opening night this Friday and in my studio over the next two weekends.