Saturday, 5 August 2017


Hello everyone!
One of my lovely supporters on Facebook pointed out that my blog has been a little neglected. I thought to myself 'oh it was only recently that I posted' and then realised that it was back in June - whoops. Sorry folks, what can I say, I've been a tad busy with my very exciting project 'Thirty Days hath September' and our house has recently turned in to a bird rescue centre.
Very soon you will hear about Thirty Days via my Facebook and social media pages but just for today I thought I would share some great news on here first. At the end of May, my husband brought home a tiny pheasant chick which had been found in the jaws of a cat. He proceeded to bring it home, thinking it only had a few hours left and here we are at the beginning of August with a fully fledged juvenile.
We had every intention of releasing it back in the wild but both parties became very attached to one another so the decision has been made for it to stay. Hubby is in the process of building it's new lodgings and I couldn't be happier, she is full of personality and very happy in her new home, although has started imitating the Jack Russells so possibly a very mixed up bird.
I hope you are all enjoying the remainder of the summer, my Summer Schools are starting next week so Phez, Hubby, Riley, Troy and I are all looking forward to welcoming the students to the studio.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Daisies for Elizabeth

Yesterday we held a workshop at my studio titled 'Daisies - Masking for Texture' which was fully booked but sadly a lovely lady had to pull out at the last minute. Not able to fill her place, I resolved that I would put a blog post together, especially for her so that she wouldn't have to miss out on what we covered.
So Elizabeth, here is the step-by-step of what we covered on the workshop with pictures...
1. Using good quality, cotton rich watercolour paper, draw out your subject with just enough to map out where you would like the flower heads to sit.
2. Using a wax resist stick, choose which of the daisy heads you would like to have a soft mask in the background and pressing fairly hard, mask out the petals (not the centres)
3. Using liquid Cold Wax and the bent end of a bamboo skewer, coat the skewer in wax and press in a few lines at random to represent grasses. These lines and the was resist lines will stay on the paper.
4. Using making fluid, choose the final daisy heads to have crisp and sharp in the foreground, you should be able to see from the image below the blue flowers on which I used the masking fluid.
5. Wet the paper thoroughly with a spray bottle and drop in a couple of colours for your background. I chose to use Cadmium Yellow for the centres and then Green Gold and Perylene Green for the background. Quickly apply clingfilm and pull in to interesting shapes to simulate background foliage. Allow to dry completely.
6. When fully dry, remove the cling film and work back in to the surface (which will probably be considerably lighter now), adding darks where you think the piece needs it.
7. When you think that you have done everything you can to the background, remove the masking fluid.
8. To complete the piece you may want to consider the following:
    Spattering dilute white gouache in to the background.
    Adding the yellow in to the centres and making sure the centres have a shadow a the base so that it shows the direction that the flower is facing.
    Re-entering your painting with a graphite pencil for shading on the petals or to define the shapes.
    Adding darks back to the stems.

I hope very much that you are inspired to have a go at this project and Elizabeth, if you are reading this, I hope you feel better soon, Alison

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Sometimes, it's not all about the finished painting.

We had an interesting class in the studio yesterday, I teach a large quantity of Saturday workshops and am fortunate enough to have a proportion of repeat clients, so thinking up new ways to tackle some of the issues that need to be overcome in painting, can be a challenge.
I am the type of tutor who is very enthusiastic about each individual participant finding their own interpretation of a scene, rather than copying me. I have hang ups of my own to deal with, let alone inflicting them on others! Therefore, this means that I will guide and show the class what I would do, but then offer a range of alternative approaches so that each person can tackle the project in their own way and hopefully each session becomes different from the last.
Yesterday was no exception in that I wanted the class to have a go at incorporating sand and salt with watercolour ground, but also to try and challenge myself in painting differently and subsequently pass on my experimental approach.
It's yellow, I just don't 'do' yellow. Not in my clothes, furnishings and certainly not in my paintings but this is a daft attitude for a painting tutor, so I have been making myself paint in yellow and using it as often as possible. The solution so far is Quinacridone Gold, for those of you who don't know it, it is relatively new in pigment terms and it is a compromise for me - bright and energetic and capable of making all sorts of other colours - but still it's yellow.
Below you will see the almost finished result of the workshop yesterday, not a grand piece by any stretch of the imagination...

...but it has tackled some interesting techniques. We used a coin wrapped in kitchen roll to blot out the sun, salt, sand and masking fluid for texture and had a lengthy discussion about granulating colours and where you should use them.
Like I say, this isn't going to be a piece that makes it to the framing department (or my husband as he is otherwise known) nonetheless it will go in to the samples book as a teaching aid for textures and for how water can reflect light. It will also be another one to chalk up on the 'I've painted something in yellow' chart and therefore any time spent painting doesn't necessarily have to result in a masterpiece, it's just part of the process of discovery.