Silence that critic and play with paint…

The joys of acrylic paint  – a gallery selection of some of my work using different techniques. 

My next workshop is an opportunity to explore and play with acrylic paint, hopefully silencing your inner critic – or at least turning the volume down while you have some fun.  I love using acrylics – they are versatile, easy to use and have a fabulous range of colours.  I have designed this one day session to provide a chance to chance to explore some of these qualities in a quiet, relaxing setting in the Peak District.

There are lots of really good artists out there offering painting workshops, and what I think I offer that is unique is a combination of skill in teaching and personal development and painting.

I have been a personal development professional and teacher for over the last 10 years so I bring a wealth of experience of working with people supporting them in developing themselves and an in-depth understanding of how we can limit ourselves and stop our selves experimenting and being creative because of unhelpful inner dialogues.  I’ve been painting  seriously for about the last five years and work in acrylics, oils and mixed media.  So I’ve done lots of exploring myself in how to release my own creativity and connect with my inner artist.

P1020158The workshop I’m running on Friday 6th May in Rowsley, Derbyshire runs from 10am until 4.30pm and is all about introducing people to the joys of painting in this medium. We’ll spend some time in the morning doing some experiments that explore and play with the properties of the paint.  Testing out the texture and qualities of the paint, how it mixes, using different tools like sponges and sticks.  Looking at colour.

Then we’ll move on to planning a composition and completing a small painting during the rest of our time together. Mostly, we’ll be playing with paint!


Think this might be for you?  Email me using the form at the bottom of this page with any question or to make a booking. Hope to see you there!



Art Workshop Programme 2016

IMG_20150920_125717 (2)I’ve been putting together my new programme of workshops for 2016 and as a result thinking about some of the comments people have made to me at times.   When I talk about painting I so often hear a response that goes  something like – “Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t draw”, or “Someone told me I can’t draw/paint” etc.   Often said with a strong sense of regret.

Unfortunately it seems that there are quite few people have had some kind of negative experience when growing up around artistic or creative expression. Either that, or that art is not the kind of thing that’s worthwhile or that you can earn a living at.  Even without this kind of interaction people do seem create their own inner critic who sits on their shoulder (metaphorically) getting in the way of them being creative.

As a personal development professional and an artist I am interested in helping people step around this and connect with their inner creativity to express themselves in the ways they want and to be satisfied with their work.  So all my workshops pay attention not only to the techniques of working with the medium in question, whether it’s acrylic or oils, but also to the conversation we might be having with ourselves while we are working.  I’m looking to help the person begin to identify if some of their thinking might be getting in their way of their creativity.

And along the way we’ll be having some fun and Play with Paint! Interested?  Call me to find out more 07985 936393 about workshops or coaching.

Plein Air – Choosing a Subject for Sketching Outside

I’m off to France this weekend for a week of cycling and painting. I’ve got my sketching kit – whittled down to the barest essentials (see my last post on plein air sketching kit) as I’m on my bike and carrying all my gear. Feels like quite an adventure and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ll be taking advantage of coffee and lunch stops to get my sketch book and paints out to do a small sketch.  How do I choose?  For me it can be a myriad of things that catch my attention – the colours on a market stall, the shadows from a tree, the line or angle of a bench, a set of steps,  sunlight on water, roof tiles.  I draw what catches my attention in the moment.  Mostly I’m thinking about keeping it simple, as this is usually the most effective for me.

The temptation to paint the large and obvious I find doesn’t always work, the times I’ve done this I’ve often been dissatisfied with the result. Or, alternatively, when I spend ages and ages searching for the “perfect” view or the “right” thing to draw.  Spontaneity and being in the moment works well I find.

Here’s a few examples of some successful sketching, where there’s a narrow focus or I’ve kept it pretty simple.

Here’s a series of tree studies I did while away in Kent for the weekend. they were all located in the holiday park where we were staying!


Plein Air – What to take

Chesterfield Skyline on a moody evening.  Watercolour on Khadi Paper.
Chesterfield Skyline on a moody evening. Watercolour on Khadi Paper.

I really enjoy sketching and painting outside. It’s one of my recent discoveries and there’s a real delight for me in wandering around a new place, finding a view that appeals to me and settling myself down to draw and paint. My next post will deal with choosing what to paint, but this one is about the first step,  getting your kit together.

I mainly work in pen and wash, I’ve experimented with other media but for ease of use, what works well outside and being carried in a rucksack this works best for me.  Plus I like it.  I keep the kit pretty simple and have definitely whittled it down over the last couple of years.  Firstly the sketch book………

The Collection.......
The Collection…….

Have you an ever burgeoning collection of sketch books of various sizes, paper weights, styles??? I have.  Sketchbooks are a weakness of mine. I have an A4 book I use when I’m going to be in the car, or in one place for a while with good painting close by.   However, I’ve decided it’s too heavy for a rucksack.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great book, one of Stillman and Birn’s hardback lovelies but it weighs a tonne.  Far too heavy for carrying all day along with all my other bits and pieces.  I also find I have “current favourites” out of my sketchbook collection. My two most recent are a comfortably basic A5 cartidge paper book I picked up for a song at Art in the Gardens in Sheffield and a much more expensive purchase from the lovely L. Cornelissen on Great Russell Street London by Khadi Papers, so a rag paper with a fabulous tooth for watercolours and lovely absorbency.  Others that are waiting in the wings are a really special cloth covered delight from Global Art Materials in their Hand book series, and a very cute 6″x 8″ spiral bound number from Daler Rowney.  This latter I think will be great for quick sketches, notes and rough ideas.

Next brushes and paint.

I have a great brush case acquired from Patchings Art Festival a few years ago.  Patchings is definitely worth a visit, both for all the artists displaying their work, the demonstrations and workshops and the art supplies at bargain prices.  My brushes are Prolene Pro Arte and I usually take a 1″ flat,  a couple from the 101 Series a size 12 and 18 and one rigger size 3.  I have a couple of soft pencils,  a 3b and 6b, eraser, sharpener, couple of waterproof drawing pens in black and sepia.  I tend to use a fine pen now, but have experimented with different thicknesses and a brush pen. I think this is something for trial and error as you discover the type of marks you like to make.

Ready to go.
Ready to go.

My watercolour palette is one which has a good seal on it.  I keep to a fairly limited palette with colours I am drawn to, including lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, cadmium red, windsor red, perylene maroon, indigo, paynes grey, dioxylene violet, perylene green, sap green and cerulean.  SO whilst I have quite a few colours with me I probably only use up to 3 or 4 in each sketch. Finally, a bottle of tap water, some drinking water (kept separate!) an old cloth for wiping any excess paint off my brush, small plastic pot for water and a wad of tissue for lifting out.  And that’s it.

Some sketches in the gallery below from over the last three of four years from close at home in the Peaks to as far afield as Cuba.


Tips, Techniques and How To’s

I’m exhibiting at the Horsforth Walk of Art this year on the 4th and 5th of July.  I like these type of open arts events, they attract a lot of people who like to paint, draw and craft themselves.  I get to meet people who want to find out about the work and who are often interested in trying the techniques for themselves. So, I thought in the run up I’ll do a weekly post where I will share one of the techniques I use, a tip about how to make use of a material, something I find useful in my painting or possibly a resource that I’ve found interesting or inspiring.

Centre outside
Come and see me at The Horsforth Centre, Low Lane.

If you want to be sure to receive each weekly post then make sure you sign up either to my blog, and if you have a technique or tip that you’d like to share then post a comment.

Happy Painting!

Viva Espania

Apartments overlooking the river.
Apartments overlooking the river.

I’m taking a break for a week.  I’m going to Catalonia on Friday to visit one of my favourite places  – Girona. It feels like a spiritual home. I love the architecture, the trees and parks, the apartments overlooking the river, the mixture of old and new that is a characteristic of the city. It has a vibrant atmosphere and is a place to wander for hours along its winding cobbled streets, leading to the hills the overlooking the city.

I’ve  not done my packing yet – but my new sketchbook is on the list along with a good selection of paints and probably some pastels too. I’ll be posting again when I get back along with my plein air work and while I’m away check me out on Instagram for daily updates with photos and sketches.

First Signs

Grape vine Amelanchier

The first signs of autumn are here. Leaves starting to turn, end of the blackberries, a cool crisp chill in the air first thing in the  morning, misty days like today.  I love the autumn colour, although its also tinged with a touch of wistfulness  for me as well.  The close of the summer, no more endlessly hot, bright days for a few months.   I always think that the glorious colours of autumn are natures last gasp of majesty before everything goes to sleep for the winter months. So, I’ve been capturing some of the early signs on my morning walks. The hawthorn, the rose hips, teasels, grasses and flowers going to seed and I’m beginning to think about autumn colour – burnt sienna, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, indigo and purple.

Hawthorn Rosehip 2 Teasel Blueberries