Monthly Archives: September 2013

It’s that time of the year again !

snow flakes 002

This week I have not managed to paint so much, as I have been busy making my Xmas cards.
I have made my Xmas cards for the last 30 years or more, and it is something I try to get done before Winter arrives.
I used to always be on the last-minute with them, but somewhere along the line I made a decision to have them made by October, which takes the pressure off as Xmas approaches. ( although I always end up rushing to get them done at the end for September)

Over the years they have been printed, collaged, batiked, made with leather, painted, and so many other ways, that I can’t remember !
This year I am making them with Fimo.

After playing around with different Xmasy themes I’ve chosen Snowflakes for my design.

I made a couple of lino cuts of simple snowflake to start with, and mixed some white, pearl and pale silver-grey Fimo, adding metal leaf to give it a bit of glitz.

I pressed the clay onto the lino to make embossed snowflakes in the clay, and then cut them out .

I like all my cards to be individual,( otherwise what’s the point of making them by hand ?)so I didn’t make any set pattern, and I cut them using different shaped cutters, so each one was a bit different.

After firing, I brushed some shimmery eyeshadow powders over them in whites and blues and coated them in varnish.

Next, it was a case of what colour of card to use, and how I wanted to mount them

I tend to go with 2 or 3 harmonious or contrasting colours and vary the size and shape of the mounts, again to keep each one individual

Now they are all mounted, I have put them to one side for a few days.
I will come back to them in the next few days to decide what greeting ( if any) I will use, where I will put it, and if they need any finishing touches.

Again that is something I have learned to do over the years. I used to add finishing touches straight away, and have ruined many a card with too much glitter !

I’m not going to post a photo of my finished cards now ,( I will put one up at Xmas time) as I don’t want my family and friends to see their cards already !

But, I think you can get a general idea from the photos.

Do you send Xmas cards, send e- cards, or do a bit of both ?
Do you buy them or make them ?

Why don’t you try making your cards this year ( or at least one .. for that special person)

If you use my idea, then please let people know where the idea came from !

Painting with acrylics – Colourful trees

This week I have continued my journey of discovery with acrylic paint.
After last weeks realistic landscape with trees, I have painted trees using less realistic colours, thinking more about composition, lights, darks and shadows.

I have enjoyed using bright colours and making my painting up as I went along. The fact I can over paint anything that doesn’t work out makes me less tentative. I find myself experimenting more than I ever did with watercolour painting. I guess it’s like when you click away with a digital camera, knowing you can delete any that you don’t like, where as with a 24 exposure every shot seems precious.

Here’s what I came up with .


On this one I decided the sun was coming from the right, and I tried to think about where to put the tree’s shadow and where the highlights and shade would be on the trunk and branches. Looking at it now, I think the shadow on the ground is too wide for the thickness of the tree. The highlights and shade on the trunk looks ok.
I added the hills later, and I like the cool purple colour against the yellow. I also like the contrast of the blue trunk against the red ground.


On this one I wanted to blend the sky from dark purple to blue, but I was not happy with it, so I added some clouds instead.
I painted the simple trees with a fan brush, and had a go at making the tree reflections using watery paint and dragging a fan brush through it. I painted the water the same colours as the sky but a bit lighter, and used some dark blue on a fan brush to give the idea of water.
I was not sure what to do about highlights, and think I should maybe have some lighter bits in the water, and that the white paint on the trees looks wrong. Maybe I should try a pale grey/lilac ???
I think I need to study some paintings and photos of water at night.
I put the three trees off to the right which I think is ok but maybe I need to add something in the left foreground to balance it out . Some foliage or a duck perhaps?

trees colourful 002

trees colourful 004

In this final painting I wanted to paint a forest. I tried to give an idea of trees in the distance by making them thinner and lighter in colour, and the tree in the foreground more colourful, ( after reading about aerial perspective)
I went a bit over the top with the colours and decided that a few of the trees were too bright, so I painted a glaze ( thin wash ) of burnt umber on top of the blue and green trees, which subdued the colour.
I used 3 or 4 shades of the same colour on each tree to create highlights and shadows, and am pretty happy with how it came out.

Well I think that’s enough writing about trees for a while!( although I’m sure I will continue to paint them)

Next week I want to start trying Still Life , and get back into making some jewellery with my polymer clay.

I also need to start making my Xmas cards, which I normally have done by October, so next week looks like a busy week.

Painting the view from my house

This week I decided I have put off painting the scenery from my house for long enough . Every morning I eat my breakfast and look at the beautiful green hills that surround me. So many trees, so many tones, textures, and shadows. I have been wanting to try to paint it, but have been at a loss where to start. It seems so BIG ! I haven’t been able to work out how to get it onto a little canvas

I would love to stand on my terrace brush in hand and paint, but It just seems too big a step.

I made a few sketches to use as a reference, but when I looked at them later, I couldn’t make head nor tail of them( more sketching practise needed I think ! ) and so in the end I took some photos, and printed one off to refer to.

You will see in the photos, that my painting changed a few times , as I tried to work out what it needed, and what wasn’t right about it. I am sure I will keep ” playing around with it ” as I try to make it more how I want it to be.


1. Making the right shade of green is easier said than done…
2. I need to think about where the sun is coming from and which side of the trees would be lighter, as the shadows and highlights make the trees stand out.
3. I should make the dark parts darker than I do.
4. It is better when I try not to work out where the trees are, and just try to paint the different shapes I see in the right tones.
5. If it goes wrong, let it dry and try again !
6. Coming back to the painting after a break, It is easier to see what needs changing.

ACRYLIC PAINTING – SEASCAPE . Painting on a canvas for the first time

This week I decided to throw caution to the wind and paint something directly onto a canvas. Whilst I have been getting to grips with the basics, I have been using card, canvas paper and water colour paper to practice on.
I decided to see how canvas compared.

After taking loads of photos of the beach and sea the other week and attempting a seascape on cardboard I thought I would try another.

I was not happy with the one I did on board. I had tried to recreate one of my photos, and it looked very lifeless. I didn’t like painting on the smooth board, it seemed to make everything feel flat, and the crashing waves also looked completely wrong. Too fluffy, too white.

Painted on board .I couldn't get the breaking waves to look right. I need to put more colours in them they are too white.It also looks lifeless.

Painted on board. I couldn’t get the breaking waves to look right. I need to put more colours in them,they are too white. It also looks lifeless.

So, instead of painting from a photo, I looked at some other artists paintings, at lots of photos of seas and rivers, and at a couple of You Tube videos showing how different artists painted the sea.
I then made it up as I went along.

I did not think too much, and just enjoyed trying out different shades of blue, and different brush strokes.If parts looked wrong, I just painted over them.

I used Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Titanium White, and Alizarin Crimson. For the sand I used Burnt Sienna, white, and a bit of Ultramarine Blue.


1. The distant sea usually looks very dark.
2. The sea near the shore line is lighter. The colour depends on reflection from the sky and how deep it is.
3. The sea has dark parts where waves and swells are forming, and underneath the breaking waves.
4. I preferred the more abstract paintings of the sea than the ultra realistic ones.
5. Mixing a few different shades of blue and layering them on top of each other using a z stroke, gave the water a feeling of movement ( see Darren Crows video on painting the sea on You Tube for more tips )
6. The bit of water where it meets the beach was hard to paint. My head kept telling me it was clear water. It had to have a colour…. just what was it ???
7. Water looks totally different on different days, and at different times of day. It depends a lot on the light and colours in the sky. How deep the water is, and whether it is a windy day changes it too.
8. I preferred painting on canvas to paper and board. I am not really sure why, but the paint seems to go on better, was easier to work with, and had a bit of texture.
9. I can’t make crashing waves look realistic yet, so need to keep practising.
10. I am happy with how my first painting on canvas turned out.


My first painting on canvas ... and I am happy with how it turned out.

My first painting on canvas .

I am still playing around with this one

I am still playing around with this one

… Which brush should I use ? Time to experiment …

This week the box of goodies I ordered on Amazon arrived from the UK.
I had a great time putting up my lovely new easel and unpacking my brushes.

easel and brushes

I wasn’t really sure what brushes to buy, so when I saw packs of 5 brushes, that were the price of one here in Portugal , I thought I would get different sizes and shapes to try out.

In the assortment, were lots of different sized flat brushes, a fan brush, a round brush, a mop brush ,a short stumpy stencilling type brush, a couple of filbert brushes (these are like flat brushes but thicker, with a rounded tip , and a set of painting knifes .

When I looked at them all laid out, I thought maybe I should have just got 2 or 3. There seemed so many I did not where to start … so it was a good excuse to have a play, and see what marks they made.

which brush ???

which brush ???


1.The big flat brush and big filbert are both good for getting the background paint on quickly.

2. The synthetic fibert seems able to blend the colours better than the one made of animal hair.

3. The fan brush is great fun and makes lovely textures. I think it will be good for making tree and grass textures.

4. The stumpy stencilling brush is good for making soft round shapes and is good for making clouds .

5. The small flat brushes make nice brick shapes when flat, and can make fine lines when using the edge.

6. The mop brush is not very good with thick paint,it seems to just clog up. it worked quite well at softening the edges of wet paint lines though .

7. It is very important to get the paint off the brushes QUICKLY. In this heat the paint seems to dry on the brush as I am using it ( its 36 degrees outside )

8. The round brush is good for lines, but I haven’t found myself using it that much. I have used the edge of the flat brushes instead.

9. I like using the shorter haired brushes with thicker paint, as they seem to scrub the paint into the canvas better, and make nice texture

10 . I need lots more practise before I feel that the marks I am making are how I want them to be, as I can’t get the effects I want yet !