Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Two-colour tonal exercises, Water Colour, and an Oils workshop, Belfast

Here is Susan, who came over from Wales as part of my distance learning programme, for an Oils workshop. In this pic she is demonstrating how to squint through the little hole in the paper, to see what colour the white ball REALLY is...! Well, it's yellow, no its pink, no no it's blue, purple..ORANGE.!


Susan's first oil paintings. 

Tonal Value Studies -
I was very surprised, when I looked for imagery on line to show in demonstration to my students, that nothing came up under Two Colour Tonal. This is not a good sign.
From my sketch book
Painting using one or two 'colours' (or one colour, or 3)  is so important in helping to understand balance without the distraction of actual colour. The darks, lights and mid-tones are more important the the colours themselves. The painting above was done during a class, and I was very relaxed about it - it is not a Finished painting, it is an Observation of tonal balance. I'm not saying that it is correct either, but it's not far off. I used Payne's Gray and Yellow Ochre, which together give an interesting and complex array of greens. Mixing two colours doesn't equal three colours, it equals a hundred possibilities...

For info on workshops, please email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Friday, 22 June 2012

Sunbeam Sheep, Colour Pencil on Bristol Board

I love sheep. (and cows and chickens and pigs. ) This is one of the most complicated drawings I ever did in Colour Pencil... Its a pity it is reduced in size here - I really don't like seeing my work smaller, as it compresses and hardens the detail - if anything it looks better enlarged! It was the first in a series of sheep and the only one of the series that included so much landscape. I drew this a few years ago and it was the first large drawing I had done for some time as my children were small. I think that's why it ended up being so complicated - perhaps I needed to know if I could still 'do it'. The sheep belonged to neighbours in Sussex who had a Smallholding,  Sunbeam Farm, and I drew some of their pigs later, and chickens. And in fact, their children too now I think on it.

The chicken wire fence against the tree had me a bit cross-eyed, and looking at it now, I notice there are a lot of fences here - I like fences and gates. Notice the colours in the sheep - pink, green, blue... There is a LOT going on in this image, including a pig in the background. The blue distant hills are of Hastings, East Sussex. It took many weeks to complete.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Tone - the Heart of the matter. Student Watercolour studies.

Yes, I know I keep coming back to Tone, but it truly is vital...! Last week I gave my students a group of three peppers, one yellow one red and one green, which they painted using only Payne's Grey (a totally delicious colour, if you use Artist Quality... Never use anything else).

Jean R

Ruth T

Pat F

Choosing tones which correctly balance these three different colours is not easy, and it was interesting to note that often the yellow one was not the palest tone...

Kate A

Hilary H

Ciara's - this was huge, on A3 paper, and just her second watercolour..!! 

There was, as usual, much huffing and grinding of teeth, and, as usual, I took no notice... The results were astonishing. All brilliant! So good, in fact, that we're doing another tonal study this week, but I haven't told them yet...

John McI

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Portfolio Preparation, Ireland

Last week I did the first portfolio course of the summer (that's an Irish summer, mostly damp). I had a sweet group (don't tell them I said that), students from all over the country, who worked hard, produced great work and set themselves new, higher targets to aim for. With only a minimal amount of nagging on my part and hardly any huffing on theirs...!

For the first time ever, I had more boys than girls on the course, which meant it was a bit quieter and a lot more...funny! Yup. (girls, if you think boys are 'stupid', try listening harder, for they are truly funny if we let them get a word in!)

I had a chat with one of the parents afterwards and between us we came up with a wonderful idea for distance-portfolio-help. Sort of like a weekly class but at home with internet-nagging one day a week, to get the students through the summer. 

Lovely bunch - Conny, Bilal, Rowan, Josh, me (using Siranee as a human shield), Siranee, Ellen, Eoin, Bronagh and Ciara.
More portfolio courses in July and August, as well as Oils workshops, Big Drawing Days, Art for Teenagers and more...
Email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

Monday, 11 June 2012

For Sale - a slice of Heaven

Well, it may seem a little odd, but why not...? These photos are of my gorgeous house in east County Clare, Ireland. It's called The Park, it is nestled half way down a hill, and is surrounded by beautiful countryside, with a view across to a lough.

It's an old farmhouse, with a warm history and an important role in the village - it was the first house to have a television, for example, so the neighbours used to come over on Tuesday nights to watch The High Chaparral..! As well as card nights, and for tea after weddings. In my time, we had an evening of tradtional music in the studio as well as open art days. A living history, a lovely place. Lovingly restored, with an Aga, open fireplace and wood burning stoves, 4 reception rooms, 4 bedrooms and separate studio.

Inside the studio

View from the front door.
last week I got stuck in traffic... 

The reason I'm showing you is because it is for sale. Many of you have visited it and spent hours painting and drawing, and basking in the lovelieness of the place. If you are interested in living in Heaven, send me an email and I'll pass you on to the estate agent. It's less than 45 minutes from Limerick city and Galway city, making it accessible yet private, quiet but also the centre of the Universe.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Sex in the City...! (on my birthday!)


Last week I was invited to the library of the  National Botanic Gardens in Dublin to meet some botanical artists. I was extremely grateful to be invited, as I'm not strictly a botanical artist at all. The library has an extensive collection of amazing Botanical artwork, and having noticed an increase in the number of visitors asking about botanical painting, they decided to invite a few artists along for a get together. After a talk by Brendan Sayers, the foreman of the Gardens, about the background of botanical painting there, we were given a tour by Librarians Colette and Alex of the rare books room (I could have spent all day in there..) and shown some drawings by Irish artists (all women..), including Sophia Rosamond Praeger, who lived in Holywood, Co Down (I was so impressed by my student Geraldine who came with me, for when they mentioned Praeger, Geraldine immediately recited a quote from one of Praeger's sculptures.. I just basked in the reflected glory!) - Praeger was well known for her scultptures. We also had a fabulous peer at the botanical paintings of Lydia Shackleton (1848 - 1914) - they were laid out for us to view unframed. Amazing work and an honour to get such a good, close-up look. Some of the work is incredibly small - in botanical painting, your painting must be the same size as the flower.

                                            Painting by Lydia Shackleton.

We were treated to coffee and scones, and I was taken totally by surprise when they began singing Happy Birthday and brought out a cake for me!! Aw! Big blushes, and thanks to Colette, and to Shevaun for being so kind. You can see from the photo that I'm only 3..

The highlight was a talk by Susan Sex, who is a beautiful painter, generous with her time and happy to share her knowledge. She has produced two books alongside Brendan Sayers on Irish orchids, and has recently completed a set of Botanical Stamps. Very interesting hearing how she has about 2 days to paint a flower before it gives up the ghost. To help her, she has people turning up on her doorstep with floral offerings. The foxgloves were, apparently, the 'last foxgloves in Ireland', and were brought to her from the Mournes last year! So, an art form which requires the artist to drop everything, paint it now and paint fast. (no pressure there then..) The exhibition of stamps is still on, really worth a look. It includes all the artwork plus many of the preliminary drawings. As you can see from the photo below, the paintings are tiny - there is one on the wall behind Susan's head.

                      Susan Sex, above and below, talking about her sketch books.

Photos above and below by Lorraine Adams.
On the right above, Shevaun Doherty, a wonderful botanical painter, who so kindly invited me to this lovely day. Best birthday treat Shevaun, thanks. 

Above, Colette Roberts, also from Holywood (small world!) talking about her work. Seated on the tables are Librarians Colette and Alex. These are the most welcoming of women. (photo by Lorraine Adams)

Susan also spoke to us about a variety of artists, including Frans Bower, Augusta Drake, Margaret Meade (who spent many years painting in the Amazon, and was deeply concerned about the number of plants disappearing), Wendy Walsh, who is still painting, aged 97, and Raymond Piper, who was a mad-sounding artist from Belfast. (Well, a mad artist in Belfast? Whatever next?!)
We finished by showing and sharing our paintings, which was a pleasure - botanical painting is alive and well in Ireland. This fantastic water colour painting by Lynn Stringer was shown on the day