Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Painting Ullswater

It's great to be be back in the Lakes. Only driven on the wrong side of the road a few times and asked for 'L'oignon in Sainsburys so adjusting to life in good old England. I've not managed yet to get the paints out properly but have unpacked all the gear and got all my wonderful art books out of store.
I wonder if anyone else also thinks about placing certain artists books next to each other. Matisse is rubbing shoulders with John Singer Sargent  and Trevor Chamblain is in between John Curtis his painting friend and Edward Wesson!!

I managed a sneaky cycle down to Ullswater, this been my closest lake about five miles away. The skies threatened heavy rain, as you can see by the grey lake shimmering in light. Autumn colours are starting to show and the fells are rich velvet shades of Ochre.
I think this little scene would be great in pastels or watercolours, I will keep you posted on which medium I pick and do a little demo.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Heading back

A little sad to take a photo of the view from the terrace this morning.
It's our last day here in the French Alps, we head back home to Cumbria tomorrow to start a new chapter. But I'm not too sad, it's been an amazing adventure and I've seen and done things I will never forget.
 I do believe that you should follow your dreams and try and make them come true, and spending time here in the Alps is a dream come true.

I'm delighted to be heading back to the Lakes, and spending time away, made us realise how much we love this very beautiful part of England. And so with new inspiration ready to hit the lakes, I look forward to sharing it on the blog with you. And of course those gorgeous Autumn colours that should be coming out a treat. Thank you for all the positive comments over the last couple of years it really does make a difference.
See you in the Lakes ................

Friday, 3 October 2014

Painting in Val Veny, Aosta

I've been wanting to visit ' Val Veny ' in Aosta for ages. Not because it is a beautiful valley on the Italian side of Mont Blanc with stunning scenery. The main reason 'John Singer Sargent' one of my favourite artists spent many Summers painting here. He would bring a party of friends and family to this high mountain valley in Summer and stay near this hotel at Purtod. Days would be spent painting and relaxing. Ladies wearing costumes of Oriental floral silk, lazing on the grass beside the bubbling stream were famously painted. He also painted many dramatic Glaciers and rock strewn valleys wanting to capture the bright light and shadows. He used wax as a resist to create texture and overlaying transparent colours in his watercolours. I could see the famous honey coloured rocks here in this valley. I used a mix of Naples yellow with a touch of permanent Rose.

We drove up the same thin mountain road that Sargent had, seeing the mountain scenery as he would, and found the famous river. It  gushed rather than bubbled and no way was Number One Art Critic dressing in Costume for me to paint!

I did get the paints out for a quick watercolour sketch of Brenva Glacier and thought about Sargents 'Moraine' painting while tackling this dramatic scene, which he had painted in 1908.

I worked very fast on this watercolour sketch, the light was changing at a rapid rate and I didn't want to get bogged down with detail, I also knew it was only a reminder and just to enjoy painting this amazing scenery in front of me.

I'd also heard about a place that did 'Porcetta' Now for some reason I had romantic ideas about this meal.
We sat down at a table with a view of the entire valley before us. The sun was shinning, the open oven was gently smoking and the smell was quite enticing. We ordered our roasted Pig with vegetables and fries and enjoyed the scene.
Poor piggy arrived on a plate, we picked at the meat and I enjoyed the vegetables. It was quite nice but I did decline a trotter and wondered why Number One Art Critic was suddenly putting Piggies face onto his plate. I then realised he did not know he was holding one ear!! All I can say is I'm not sure when we will be eating Roast Pork again, not for a while!!!


Monday, 29 September 2014

A walk to see Mont Blanc.

A walk up to Bellevue. Just a mere gallop up the ski slopes for a few hours on a glorious sunny day. Or so I thought! Orange and Red Autumn leaves looked great next to the bright blue sky.

Pots and baskets full of flowers sitting pretty at the chalet halfway up the slopes.

Washing day at this chalet perched on the slope, warm socks and jumpers on the line drying ready for Winter to begin.

Bellevue was reached and then we decided to head a bit further up the hill looking for a nice picnic spot. I was hoping for a pretty cafe, a cold glass of Coke, maybe with a red chequered tablecloth. It's funny what runs through the mind tramping up hills.

Up the road we have skied down many times. Looking back towards the mighty Blanc

Late Summer and Autumn flowers Purple Heather, Pansies and Giant Mushrooms basking in the sunshine.

No mushrooms were hurt in taking this photo.

The picnic spot was finally found. Perched high on the top of Prailon a mere 1969 metres high. What a vista. Sandwiches were quickly eaten, so that a sketch of this fabulous view would be remembered. To walk up here is something special, the views and light were incredible. Funny that I never considered the descent at this point.My head was full of paintings, flowers and pretty walking!

So now I find myself sitting perched on an edge staring at the abyss below. Number One Art Critic is ahead checking out the path for a frightened Mountain artist who's not good with heights!
We took the path one step at a time, clinging to the wire rope that was there for added drama. No photo's were taken as I could only look at the ground beneath my feet. Thank goodness for Number One Art Critic with a good head for heights.

And so safely down, and aching thighs but a wonderful hike that filled me with inspiration to paint a stunning scene.

Have no fear I will never venture up the Mighty Mont Blanc, just admire from below.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Painting clouds in Oils

 Painting en plein is not easy. It is very enjoyable, and you see so much more than looking at a photograph but there are factors that you need to considerate.Getting the equipment set up in front of 'the view' I then feel at one with nature and ready to capture.
I am a little fussy about light and so looking out and seeing the Aguile look just right, the oil paints were grabbed and I started on a colourful canvas I had previously given an underbase.
Looking up all the time and then placing colour, looking up again trying to figure out the rock formations. Clouds started to roll around playing hide and seek with the mountain peaks. So I started following suit. Succumbing and softening clouds over the too bright sky. I was now starting to speed paint and then looking up to see all the view was lost behind a mass of cloud!

Clear Blue skies I thought. Why didn't I notice the clouds rolling in. But it does make a more atmospheric scene.

I thought I would paint this view so much, but instead I just sit and watch it change every minute. It's more entertaining  than  TV especially when a storm is brewing, the colours of the clouds and light on the mountains can be so dramatic.
But as the cloud came completing down today, the brushes had to be put down for another day.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A walk in Chamonix

 The Autumn colours are suddenly emerging, they look great against the blue haze of the mountains. It must be the complementary Orange and Blue. We have three weeks left here in the Alps and then it's back to the glorious Lakes to make a new home and art studio! The light today was wonderful as we walked up to catch the Montenvers train back down to Chamonix. This fab little Red train and track was built around 1907 to take tourists up to see the Mer de Glace and the awesome views.

We walked up the ski slopes that we have skied down, then into the forests that cling to the mountain sides. Sunlight and magical views of the valley kept popping into view. A pretty little chalet perched on the edge offered tea, coffee and comfy seating.

The litle Red train passed us by, tourists cameras at the ready wondered why we would be walking up.

Gorgeous woodland waiting to be captured with a paintbrush of colour.

We reached our picnic spot and sat in delight taking in the view that anyone would amaze at. A quick sketch, but it took a while wondering what to pick 'The mighty Dru, Grandes Jorasses or the Glacier sweeping round.So much for the artist to admire.

We spied some climbers on the Glacier, this is zoomed in to show the expanse of the glacier

I love this view and have painted it a few times in Pastel and Acrylics, it never fails to inspire me and I think it is such a special place.

Grandes Jorasses from Flegere
 painted in Acrylics

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Ten tips to paint a Bluebell Wood in Watercolours

How to paint a Bluebell Wood in Watercolours

Top ten tips
1. Use Not or Rough watercolour paper, ideal with a little more texture.
2.Test colour mixing before on a scrap piece of paper.
3.  Create many different Tonal values with different amounts of water.
4. Cobalt Blue and Ultramarine Blue mixed with Permanent Rose give a great Bluebell color.
5. Have a few good photographs and even a sketch to work from.
6. Try gently rubbing a little candle wax over the paper to create sparkle.
7.Paint some complementary colours in the scene, this will make the scene sing!
8. Take a walk through a wood and note the colours and shapes of trees.
9. Add a little Gouache for lighter Bluebells. 
And Number ten let the scene evolve naturally with the watercolours.

www.watercolourcourse.co.uk for more details

Online watercolour course with six projects