Saturday, 21 December 2013

My five favourite paintings 2013

Here are my top five favourite paintings from this year. All chosen for special reasons 

Peas from Provence fresh from Samoens Market
I love going down to the market each Wednesday, seeing what is on offer and all mainly what is in season, the stalls are prepared like works of art and the smells so enticing.

Daisies and Buttercups

I painted a jar of wild flowers five days on the trot, all very different having positive and some negative issues. Sitting in the shade, trying to capture the delicate and bright hues was truly delightful. 

Polka Dot Jersey

Watching the tour de France was an amazing spectacle, the bright colours of the jerseys flashing by. We watched it over two days one very wet and stormy on Croix Fry and a beautiful sunny start from Annecy, the Polka Dot jersey was painted from this.

Sunshine Mooring

Getting the Oils out and figuring out this intimate scene, challenged me. The reflections of the rowing boats, in the clear Lake Iseo waters and shadows on the posts on a warm afternoon inspired me 

Alpine Retreat

Waking to fresh snowfall, the paints came straight out, a scrap of paper was found and about twenty minutes was spent painting this little scene from the warmth of the chalet.
Been inspired by the seasons and light makes painting such a joy, I hope you've enjoyed my painting time in the Alps this year.

If you would like a week painting in this magical place staying in the best chalet in the French Alps with lovely friendly hosts why not join me? Lakeland Art Courses with Jane Ward

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

My top ten paintings 2013

 Here are the first five of my top ten paintings from this years time in the Alps.
 I've loved painting a different landscape with new views that opened my eyes to new ideas and it's fantastic hearing lovely comments and positive vibes along the way. Thank you

'Blossom Chez Nous' painted in Watercolours
We had just arrived in the Alps, there was Blossom on nearly every tree and carpets of Golden Yellow Dandelions. I wanted to capture a sunny Spring day.

Sunshine Meadow, Samoens painted in watercolours
I painted this en plein with a friend over two afternoons,we watched and painted the thunder and lightening from under the Umbrella, while poor Alison wondered were we even safe, but we came back when the weather broke and finished our paintings.

Maglio Rosso, Giro d' Italia painted in watercolours

Seeing Mark Cavendish wearing the Maglio Rosso jersey on the side of an Italian road and watching the peleton race by  filled me with so much inspiration. I had never painted a cyclist before, but negative thoughts never even came to mind.

Floating painted in watercolours

Swimming in Lac Annecy and sitting on this old jetty on a hot August day was all it needed.

Lac Montriod painted in watercolours

A twenty minute stop while walking round the lake, spent with fellow artists. We quickly got the paints out and just enjoyed the peace and beauty of this lovely lake

The last five will follow tomorrow

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Winter Morning, Samoens painted in Gouache

I've wanted to paint this little scene for ages, and with just two days left at Bonamour chalet, the paints quickly came out early this morning. I choose warm Ochre Murano Pastel paper, stretching it first and then painting on the smooth side.I used a very limited palette of Gouache paints, limited because I only have a few colours!
 What I wanted to capture: the bright light and the Mauve shadows on the roof tops , Winter trees parting their branches to reveal the small town of Samoens below and finishing with the sparkling snow in the foreground casting shadows. I managed to paint a little of this outside in sub zero conditions, but  in the  sunshine. I'm trying out this technique because I think it could be ideal for some real Winter conditions in the New Year.

Colour Sketch Winter Morning, Samoens

Friday, 6 December 2013

Painting in the Snow

We have just a few days left at Chalet Bonamour, I've loved ever minute living here watching the changing seasons all from the balcony. And of course trying to capture it on paper or canvas. You may have noticed I've painted this little wood a few times, It's a hard one!!! There's been lots of rubbing of the head and thinking I'm going to scrap it, but it keeps grabbing my attention. The sun popped out for a few hours today, so out came the easel, well it's actually, a pochade box on an tripod. I started this canvas a few weeks ago and would like to finish it sometime!! Notice the snow, I know I'm painting  Autumn leaves, the imagination melted the snow in front of me! And the puffer jacket kept me warm, I do love painting outside, with the inspiration just there in front of you, giving ideas and showing hints of light.

Still not finished! I will post it again when 'the fat lady is finally singing' The perfect gift for an aspiring artist.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Paris in a weekend

'The kiss ' Hotel Ville by Robert Doisneau 
I bought this print in my early twenties, so I had to go and find the spot in Paris where it was photographed.

A couple of days in Paris. 

We walked miles and miles linking famous landmarks. From the dizzy heights of Sacre- Coeur to finding Hotel de Ville my favourite Paris photo. Up and down the Christmas Market on Champs Elysees under the Arc de Triomphe and along the Seine arm in arm looking at what the street artists had to offer. Had possibly the most expensive Coffee ever in the Tullieries Jardin. Looked at the queues at the Orangiere and decided on Rodin's place, was inspired by the Thinker and in awe at Rodin's portrait by Singer Sargent. Sampled the Marais galleries on a  Sunday afternoon. Figured out the metro colours and ate Croque Monsieur. Loved the train ride from Annecy to Gare de Lyon and delighted people watching while having Petit Dejeuner of warm croissants at a street cafe in Monmatre. Listened to Jazz, Street Buskers and a wonderful legend guitarist called Tony Iommi. 

Shafts of Light from Sacre -Couer

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Painting a Winter Woodland scene

Winter Wonderland
Painted in Watercolours

I really enjoyed painting 'Winter Wonderland' I found it most challenging, nearly gave up and then didn't want to stop, just like reading a good book. 
I've watched this little wood change throughout the year and wanted to capture it. With early snow it became magical, when the sun warmed the heavy branches and the snowdust fell to the ground, it was mesmerising to watch.
I masked large sections of paper first and then washed in mixes of Pinks, Mauves and Emerald, the paper was turned this way and that to get the paint moving and then salt was sprinkled. With all this dry, I then tried to find my way through the wood.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Alpine Hideaway in the French Alps

Alpine Hideaway
Painted in Watercolours

I had lots of fun with this little watercolour.Watching the snow come down and then seeing the sun come out. I quickly got the paper and paints out before the snow would melt and disapear.
I was unsure about how to paint so much White! snow, so I started with the old barn, I masked out a few branches and roofs with tape and fluid and then went for it with strong shades of Blues and Pinks. I dropped in plenty of water and also salt crystals and then hoped for some action to develop.
When all was dry the salt and masking was removed and I then painted some dark tones around the barn and popped in the tree with a rigger and the trusty palette knife.

An online watercolour course for  beginners and Intermediates

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Snowfall in Samoens

We had our first big snowfall in Samoens last night and wow the valley looks truly magical.
I watched the sky change to Prussian blue and then the snow covered trees turn to coral pink, the mist in the valley showed mauves and looked like cotton wool floating by. The sun tried to get out casting a lemon yellow circle in the sky. 
It was a painters delight, to just watch and enjoy the magic of snow and winter.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Winter Afternoon, Derwentwater Original watercolour Painting

Winter afternoon, Derwentwater

Painted in Watercolours 

With the mention of bad weather approaching, unlike most people I do get excited about the prospect of snow and ice. I know it's not ideal to drive in, but it sure looks pretty!!
I painted this scene on Derwentwater after walking down to the Lake, I sat on a very cold rock, quickly got my sketchbook out and did some rapid sketches. I then returned to a warm studio with ideas still fresh and started to paint. The next day I returned to my cold rock, armed with a warm coffee and watched the ducks playing and fighting amongst themselves, the lake was starting to freeze around the edges. The mist kept opening to reveal the snowy mountain tops. Another quick sketch to capture the ducks at play and back to the warmth of the studio to finish this original watercolour.

If you would like more information about this painting please email me at
Fancy painting in watercolours and not sure where to begin? Let me show you how easy it is.
It's wonderful to do, you start and see the world through more colourful eyes!

Friday, 15 November 2013

The most beautiful river in the Lakes

 A few days back in the Lakes and what better place to visit, than beautiful Borrowdale valley. Walking from Grange towards Rosthwaite is pure joy especially with the last of the Autumn colours and a touch of morning frost. This little part of the Lakes is such a wonderful walk, along the riverside, with fells sparkling in the morning sunshine. The river which is called 'the Upper Derwent'  the most beautiful river, the colour of the clear water ranges from emerald to bright Greens to Ochres.

I see watercolours and pastels all  brought to life. But we were wandering up the river in search of Salmon, scrambling along quietly gazing into the crystal waters.No fishing rods or paints just enjoying the sheer beauty of this special place and nature.

I am going to paint this wonderful scene in watercolours, with just a limited colour palette I'll keep you updated on how it goes.
If you would like to learn to paint in watercolours but unsure where to begin or what brushes and colours to use, the Online course is a perfect start  With lots of feedback and easy step by step I will show you all the techniques and secrets I have learnt over the years.

Can you see the Salmon? Not in this photo but the colours in the water are so pretty. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Canvas or Board

What to paint??  A fleeting moment of light catching the fallen leaves. Quick Oils at the ready.
Do you use the large canvas you have saved for something special or the small board? Why save the canvas, this could be special!! Music on 'James Blunt' will share my afternoon of pure joyful painting. Only a couple of hours before dusk, so we must get cracking. Transparent colours diluted with turps, birds are playful, the Jay flies around.

Stand back and take a look, Gosh where are we going. Good job no one is around,  just me and James singing away. An old cloth comes out and softens the way, branches are scrutinised, colours and form. A little white opaque is added to the mixes. The palette knife plasters it on. A shake of the head.
A remembered technique from a fellow artists blog ' the colour shaper starts to prance around lifting and gliding to the music it's feels like the conductors baton.

Stand back and take a look, it might just be the start of something, a shame dusk has come. Not finished yet, but looking forward to pulling it together.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Autumn Glow painted in Oils

I've been waiting for the leaves to turn to rich shades of Autumn to paint this Woodland scene.
Watching each day, the colours change, knowing they could all blow away or maybe not change at all!
With this been our first Autumn in the Alps, I've not known what to expect.
But wow what colours and it's all happened nearly in a few days.
From Green to Gold to Russet.

So with all this in mind.
Out came the Oils, a square format was decided on.
A new approach using Masking tape to keep the light on the tree bark was applied.
Transparent Colours applied with a brush and then a palette knife.
Music was playing ' Yellow' by Coldplay
Now came the tricky messing bit, removing the tape.

With tape all removed the palette knife came back into play. Opaque colours started to bring the painting together adding lights.
 I wanted to keep a loose approach and not get bogged down in detail but keep bright colours alive and the sparkle of an Autumnal wood.

'Autumn Glow'

Painted in Oils on board 

Inspired by a Wood and Coldplay.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Pastel Demonstration Leisure Painter

Sixt Cheval painted in Pastels

I'm delighted to see my article on how I painted this pastel scene in The Leisure painter magazine today.
I started with a very loose watercolour under base and then added the pastel.
Painting this wonderful mountain vista lent itself to the pastel medium. I know it can be a messy medium to work with but the colours are instant and often have a wow effect.
I remember my first ever pastel painting, it gave me more encouragement than the years I had painting watercolours, it suddenly looked like the image I had imagined and opened up a world of painting subjects.
Painting for me is something that is a never ending story and trying out new mediums just adds a few new chapters.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Striding Edge Alpine style

A nice easy walk, along a flat plateau with stunning views towards Mont Blanc. A picnic was packed, art gear was popped in the bag and sunshine was ordered.
Leaving the Col Joux Plane we made quick time to the small lake, the map was brought out to be studied.
The compass also made it's first debut, I then thought maybe I should check this walk on the map!

The easy path to the lake is seen on a short breather up the grassy ride. We have lost the easy path by this stage, but the walk is offering stunning views at every stop.

The grassy scramble up the steep incline is over and we have reached a viewpoint across to Mountain peaks  into Switzerland. The scenery becomes breathtaking, as does the walk. I had mentioned at the Lake that the path had 'red dots'on the map which meant a dangerous route, but was told we're not going along there it's an easy walk!

Striding Edge and it's terrifying ridge did not seem that far away at this point. Concentrate Jane and if you have to fall make it the right hand side it's not as steep!

The views are worth it, I kept telling myself with legs becoming jelly like.The wind was whipping up so we didn't pause for long. Nearly there my trusty climber told me.

Round a sheer edge and 'The red dots' came into action! I was told that the wire rope is to guide and aid, not cling and swing on as I did. Why does the wretched thing have to move. You can see the lake below which I can now appreciate I didn't dare look down at this point.

And then we were safe back on a lovely bike flat path heading our way down to the Joux Plane and what a view to walk towards. The colours are stunning at the moment, but I fear that Autumn could be fast and the golden leaves disappear very fast.

Fancy a painting holiday in the French Alps at Samoens with stunning scenery 
and an amazing chalet to stay at

Friday, 18 October 2013

Van Gogh and St Remy de Provence

What a bizarre week, first I find myself two foot deep in snow and then a quick trip down to Provence and back to lovely Autumn sunshine. I'd heard somewhere that St Remy was a nice place and 'Arty'.
  Van Gogh spent a year at St Pauls Mausole and painted over 150 canvases here in just a year.
I reckon that must be about one every two and half days, quite something.
We first took a walk around the town in the famous man's footsteps. He was allowed to paint away from the rest home but only a mile away.What came across most was seeing the textures he made from the landscape before him and muted colours of Prussian Blues with light showing through. In this part of Provence the light is very special and colours do seem muted and much more opaque.

Next we entered St Pauls Mausole and walked peacefully through the wing which is open to the public.
We stepped inside his light and airy room, what a lovely view from the window. Standing looking out of the same window and I imagined Van Gogh standing there gazing looking across the Olive trees and gardens full of texture, colour and light. I could see how he painted all these paintings.

The view from his bedroom window

Looking back to St Paul's from the garden full of lavender and lemon smelling Rosemary

While enjoying our time in the garden, I glanced over with miles and miles of Olive groves and vineyards in the distant view there was mighty Mont Ventoux.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Winter ride to Col Joux Plane

Winter ride to Col Joux Plane
Painted in Watercolours

The adventurer in me fancied seeing what the snow looked like at the top of the Joux Plane. Most people would probably be happy just imagining the white stuff. I have a annoying habit that needs to see it and be in it, if it's there! So with Number one art critic not too happy about what lay ahead, we set off up the Col.

The first few miles was easy going, getting above 1200 metres and things changed. Into the woods and snow was on the road, a steep 10% incline and the ride became a little tense.It was difficult to turn the VW  round, easier to just head out of the wood.

Through the mist and out into the sunshine. The road improved and we made our way to a Winter wonderland 

With nearly two foot of snow fallen through the night, it was unbelievable and I think not normal for October.

But snow inspiring

Barely a whisper of wind, so reflections at the lake were incredible.And look at the Blue sky

 The mist started rolling in again and the sky looked rather dramatic,we thought better make it back down, safely I can now add.