Monday, 14 November 2022

Portrait workshop with visiting art group

 I was pleased to welcome members of Kilmood Art Group to the studio recently, for an afternoon's portrait drawing workshop. A couple of months earlier I did a full portrait demonstration on Zoom, and while I was unsure about the idea, it actually worked tremendously well. I had my camera facing directly onto my page, so it filled their screens and gave them a better view than I actually had of the artwork!       

Interestingly, even though I have been teaching for more than half my life, I still get nervous demonstrating to people I don't know, so I was glad that some of my own students Zoomed in too, and while I couldn't see anyone at all, I gelt comforted knowing that they were there. Thanks guys!! (for being there, and for not heckling!!!!) This made it all the more lovely to welcome the art group Tony studio for a hands-on session. I must say that the standard was excellent!

We worked from a photo that I had taken specially for this purpose, of my younger son. I'm sure you agree that they all got a likeness, and all dressings were delicate and sensitive. 

A lovely time had, by all.  

For info on weekly classes in drawing and painting please email 

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Rosehips, drawing and watercolour

Gorgeous artwork by Ken 

When I choose images to adorn this blog, I am usually spoilt for choice. I don't always remember to take photos during a class, and sometimes when I do, I"m not sure who's artwork it is, after the event! So I choose a random selection each time, to show what has been going on in the studio, and hopefully this will encourage others to join in. 

Glynis's lovely painting 

 It's such a pleasure to be n the lookout for nature's bounty, and the rose hopes this year were plentiful and lush. I got the best ones from the hedgerows along the Comber Greenway (thought the most enormous offerings every year are usually in the central reservation of the dual carriageways, but I don't stop to collect those....!)

Beautiful and delicate, by Toni

It's always lovely to see how everyone creates their own unique artwork, and it is very beneficial that we all work on the same subject at the same time. We learn from each other - and benefit from the encouragement of those around us. 

Two lovely studies by Phil, who joins the class using Zoom 

Georgie's rose hip, in coloured pencil.
All the paintings here were done during one two and a half hour session, except the one below, which is by Nicki. She was enjoying it so much that she did extra time and got it finished. And what a winning result! And LOOK at those TILES!!!

This artwork is by Nicki, and I'm sure you agree that it's STUNNING!!

For info on classes and workshops please email


If you would like to give a gift of something arty and useful why not give one of Julie's books? Full of illustrations by Julie and her students it is a great read and very beautiful too! 

Monday, 7 November 2022

Conkering watercolour! Student artworks

 I love Autumn, with the bounty of seed pods and colour offered by the season. This year, the conkers were wonderfully spiky - sometimes they are lumpy instead so I guess it is something to do with the weather. The first ones I found were in August, in Lincoln - absolute whoppers! I bagged a few for my children's class, but they were not ripe and I had serious difficulty opening them. (note: do not try opening unripe conkers infant of a children's class, it will make you look weak and puny...!!) When I did manage to open them, the conkers were tiny and some were white in colour. Wrong on every level!



By Jane - the one on the right is unfinished, but still rather appealing!

Above and below - these artworks are by Jane M. Some graphite, some watercolour, some coloured pencils. 
Below - also by Jane M, this graphite study (below) of a horse's eye is remarkably similar to the characteristics of a conker! This beautifully illustrates my constant reminder not to think of what the object IS when we are drawing, but to look  instead at shapes, tones, contrasts and colour. 

Students walking-the-walk at tea break, to give their eyes a rest from looking at their own work, and enjoy seeing how others have talked the same subject. 

For info on courses and workshops please email

ForJulie's work check out the website - www. 

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Amazing Greens! Student artwork 2022

 There has been some lovely artwork produced by my students so far this autumn. And often the most unexpected subject makes the most delicious painting! A great example of this was Cabbage week! The paintings were superb!

This first image below shows Anne-Marie's painting after one session. You can see clearly that the subject really lends itself to learning how watercolour uses layering to build up depth of colour. The cabbage is all shades of greens, so a good lesson in subtlety and close-colour comparisons. 

The photo below is Anne-marie again, at the end of a second session on the painting. As you can see she has one a tremendous job! And she is very new to watercolour, making it a very impressive start to the term. 

The lovely painting below again shows the excellent range of greens - cool dark blue-greens, mid-value grey-greens as well as more limey yellow-greens. 

Sara's painting - delicious!

Georgie's painting, in her Moleskine sketchbook.

Above, Georgie likes to vary her methods each week an in this instance she did a tonal graphite drawing first then added watercolour washes on top. A very efficient way to paint! 

Christine's painting - atmospheric!

The painting above is by Christine McC. Like Anne-Marie this took more than one session, but she has created a painting full of calm and atmosphere. No such thing as 'just a cabbage'!!

For info on classes, workshops and open studios please email 

Book! Thinking of a Christmas gift for your creative friend? Try Julie's huge drawing and painting manual.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Open studio - artworks and video

 At the end of last term, I was delighted to open the studio and rent the pop-up shop below it to display my students artworks. They work so hard all year, and this was the first open day since before Covid, so it felt extra special. It was wonderful to see each person's work as a body, rather than simply seeing the weekly artwork, and I was thrilled to see just how BRILLIANT everyone has become. I noticed that Covid had had a positive impact on the standard of work produced - certainly at the time of lock downs, I know that folks put extra time and effort into their art as a distraction tactic. They had to find the subject matter in their own homes, set it up and light it (as opposed to me doing that in the studio each week), and this, I believe, created a stronger personal connection to the artwork. 

Here are some images from the open studio including a link to a lovely video which shows lots and lots of examples of student work. I know you will agree they are delicious! 

Video link here, but scroll down to view the photos below first as the link will take you off this page:

Above - an easel full of artworks by Gennie, who travelled from County Clare to the open studio. 
Above - a selection of watercolours and oils, by Rose, Ken and Patricia 

Below - a selection from the portfolios on display. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

New Studio new classes!

I am delighted to announce that I am resuming my Friday Night Life drawing classes - May 27th, June 10th, June 17th, July 1st & 8th, from 6pm - 8pm with a glass of wine or tea/coffee. A lovely start to the weekend. I provide chalks, charcoals and pencils and ask students to bring their own paper. A3 and A2 is recommended. Fully tutored sessions so it doesn't matter if you have never drawn the figure before - I am there to guide.
Cost £30 per session. Numbers limited, advance booking required. 

I am also introducing a new weekly children's class on Saturday afternoons from 22nd May to the end of June. Suitable for ages 8 - 18, we will cover drawing in various media as well as painting. We will sometimes use easels, which is a great novelty for children and adds to their experience. Fully structured, fully tutored fun. I provide all materials for these sessions, and the cost is £30 per class.

SUMMER - the summer programme includes portrait drawing, two oils workshops (one to include mixing, and various oils techniques, the other to be a landscape of your choice) and water colour workshops. Dates to follow. If there is a specific subject that you would like to try please don't hesitate to let me know and I will try to accommodate you.

For more info please email

With two studio moves in 5 months, I am glad to say that I have now settled in to my new studio, which is just off the main square in Comber - it turns out that Comber is handy for everywhere, and students enjoy the village feel when they come in and out. I'm beside a bistro, a bakery, a craft shop and just along the street are many lovely shops worth browsing, as well as lots of cafes for lunch or coffee. Above we see the Tuesday morning students busy with their water colours.

Thank you again to Ken for his selfless assistance in the studio move, and for hardly laughing at all when I got stuck in the lift. Ahem.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Trees in oil, student works

The more preparation we do for our oil paintings, the more successful the outcome. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, as they say. This exercise, from a photograph I took in Belmont Park with beautiful light peeping through the trees, started as a charcoal study. Charcoal is a lovely, tonal medium which allows us to move tones around by smudging with a cloth, a sponge, our finger or a putty rubber, to give soft gentle nuances of values, in an attempt to create the right atmosphere. 

Charcoal study by Rose
The next stage is to do an underpainting in oils on the canvas of choice, beginning with a gentle layer of raw umber, diluted with Sansodor,  or odourless mineral spirits. It will look a bit like a water colour. Like the charcoal, the mix can be moved around a bit with paper towel. It is important not to let the dark areas be as dark as you want them in the finished painting. We paint on top of this layer creating a grisaille, and those subsequent layers can be dark. If we go too dark too soon then all will be too heavy. Err on the light side. 

Below we see the beginnings of the grisaille going down - this is Raw Umber,  French Ultramarine (which together will make a black) and White. You can see it, in this painting, in the lightest areas and the foreground. The whole painting will get this layer, creating a black and white painting 

Rose's completed grisaille

Louise's completed grisaille 

                   Once the grisaille is dry (in this case, the following week) colour is put on top of the grisaille. 

Louise finishing the colour on top of her grisaille 

Why so many layers? It gives you a rich and BRIGHT painting, which looks solid and substantial. 

Louise's finished painting 


Christine W's
Students enjoyed this exercise, though there was much nashing of teeth along the way too! 

For info on upcoming workshops please email

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

water colour apples and some oils, student work

Georgie's lovely artwork 
If I could put all my student's work here, I would - but you would be inundated! Here is a small selection of lovely artworks from a recent session, both from students in-studio as well as some working at home using Zoom. 
Students drew the whole of this composition, then selected their favourite section, a composition within a composition, and worked it to a finish within the time available. 
Painting by Christine McC


Working up just a section of a larger drawing means that we get a sense of completion - classes are usually just over two hours, which means it's a challenge to finish larger works. 


For info on upcoming workshops please email