A Christmas Candle

Watercolour painting of a candle in a Christmas tree
A Christmas Candle. Watercolour 8ins x 5ins.

Just to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and an inspiring, artistic and healthy New Year!

This painting was a commission for a Christmas scene to form the front cover of the December issue of the Dersingham village magazine, Village Voice. Painted on Arches 300lb rough paper using Maimeri Blu watercolours. A very limited palette of mainly Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna with a few splashes of Cadmium Red. I hope you enjoy the painting and that it puts you in the Christmas mood. I’ll be back with more painting articles and tips in the New Year. Happy Painting!

Artist Trading Cards can make little gems

Have you heard of Artist Trading Cards? I have to admit that I hadn’t until recently. The idea is that you produce a piece of work at the exact size of 89mm x 64mm and then offer it for sale. There are various websites that specialise in this format. You might only get say ¬£10 for the painting, but if you produce and sell loads of them . . .

artist trading card norfolk field 1
December Fields Norfolk 1. Watercolour 89mm x 64mm on Waterford 300lb rough paper.
artist trading card norfolk field 2
December Fields Norfolk 2. Watercolour 89mm x 64mm on Waterford 300lb rough paper.
artist trading card norfolk fields 3
December Fields Norfolk 3. Watercolour 89mm x 64mm on Waterford 300lb rough paper.
artist trading card norfolk fields 4
December Fields Norfolk 4. Watercolour 89mm x 64mm on Waterford 300lb rough paper.

Anyway, this post is not about selling Artist Trading Cards it’s about encouraging you to have a go at producing some. When I first heard of the cards, in an article in Artist and Illustrator magazine, I really didn’t pay much attention, figuring that working ultra small was not for me. It wasn’t until the SAA (Society for All Artists) decided to launch their ‘World Record Art Challenge’ that the trading cards popped up on my radar. The SAA Challenge is to create a world record for the largest number of original artworks exhibited under one roof. And all those works have to be, yes you guessed it, Artist Trading Cards.

Now how many works might that be? Certainly several thousand, maybe tens of thousands – there are some pretty big galleries out there. But the SAA has many, many members of which I am one, so it’s possible they could pull it off. I decided to add my efforts to the pile and have produced these four miniature paintings, all featuring winter skies over Norfolk fields.

Despite being small, I used quite a big brush to try and keep it nice and loose. A number 2 squirrel hair mop did most of the work, with a number 6 round sable for a few bits of detail. All four were painted with Maimeri Blu watercolours.

You too could be part of this world record attempt. All you have to do is produce as many artworks as you like on any support, in any medium and of any subject. The only requirement is that they must be 2D, capable of being fixed to a display board and they must be the exact size mentioned above, 89mm x 64mm. Oh, and they must be dry too, no wet oils and any pastels or charcoal must be fixed.

Sounds like fun? Just paint away and when you’ve done then download an entry form from the SAA website. The link is here and you only need one form no matter how many works you submit. All entrants will have to chance to visit SAA headquarters at Newark-on-Trent to see the final display. Mine will be in there somewhere! I’ve just learned that over 8000 have been sent in already, but more are needed. The closing date is not far away, the 31st December so get those brushes working. Happy Painting!

Clouds, Shadows, Light

Clouds, shadows, light. Three words that mean a lot to a landscape artist. Here are two new paintings that I’ve made in the last few days, which feature those three motifs.

Watercolour painting of St Felix church Babingley
Shadows Within Shadows. St Felix, Babingley. Watercolour 15ins x 11ins.
Watercolour painting of walkers on the beach at Thornham
Walking the Dogs, Thornham. Watercolour 15ins x 11ins.

Although the works look quite different they both use clouds and the varying light in the sky to draw the eye deep into the composition. The aim is to lead the eye on a journey, from the foreground to the focal point and from the focal point into the distance. In both paintings the dark shadows of the foreground act as a lead-in for the eye, pushing you through to the focus. On the one hand the little ruined church of St Felix at Babingley which is just a few miles from my Dersingham studio, and on the other the figures on the beach, with a couple walking their two dogs.

With careful use of devices such as cloud shadows cast over the landscape, it’s possible to turn the simplest of compositions into the powerful and atmospheric painting. When that is coupled with the beauty of fluid watercolour washes some people might regard the end result as some kind of ‘magic’. But it’s not, it is all about carefully thinking through the painting process and making a well judged plan before you start to paint. ¬†Often, to help the process, I make small pencil planning sketches to work out the composition and the areas of light and dark. I’ve talked about this before, but in my next post I will show you some of these sketches and talk about them some more. Enjoy your painting!