Friday, 23 March 2018

Lambs Tails in Watercolour : A Simple Walk

 "Shaking Tails"

Today the sun shone and as I have been working non stop I decided to go for a short walk. From my studio window I can see catkins nearby blowing in the breeze. The tree opposite my studio is literally covered in these spring blossoms. In fact, have never seen so many tails hanging on individual branches. And they became fascinating to me as a subject to paint.

I stood under the tree looking upwards realising, in sections above me, twigs and branches were completely out of sight due to the heavy dangling catkins which I call "lambs tails" and have done since I was a child. I picked a branch that was within reach and carried it back to my studio as "treasure".

My first painting above started from a simple wash of Daniel Smith Walnut Ink, with water forming patterns which I could then add the catkins to. Similar to the waterfall wash described as a technique in my book "Paint Yourself Calm". Painting waterfall washes is incredibly relaxing and they can be used as a foundation for all kinds of subjects. This kind of wash certainly worked very well for my catkins seen above.

But while I was painting the sight I had just witnessed by looking up, my eyes were drawn to a few branches that just had one or two catkins on, swaying in the breeze. These I began to capture as seen below. This is an unfinished painting but it will have as much depth and interest as the above painting when it is finished with possibly a simpler composition.

"Catkins in the Breeze"

I have had the best week possible painting to my hearts' content. I have a new book to work on but for now my projects are all for me, Exploring colour, improving techniques and having a ball.

I so love my life.

It is amazing how a simple walk can lead you in a new direction. And now I will  be wondering what I will see next when I take a scenic route tomorrow.

 Happy painting!


Artists tip of the day?

Don't just paint. Get out and see things to gain new ideas and inspiration. A break away from your studio or painting space makes you eager to return. So it is never wasted time!


Thursday, 22 March 2018

Freedom 2018 ; Foxgloves

"Fairy gloves"
Foxglove flowers in watercolour

Oh my goodness I am having a ball in my studio at the moment . I give so much time to teaching,filming, exhibiting and writing that over the years my own freedom to paint has diminished in that I grasp any moments I can between commitments and deadlines. To paint just for me in a way that frees my soul. Right now I have another full week ahead where I can paint in the quiet space of my studio and then after that  I start teaching in UK. As my workshops here begin on 3rd April 2018.

But there is a yearning inside of me and I can't explain it. Something is happening to my style and my passion for experimentation in a way that won't let me sit still for a second. I sleep seeing how I can add colours to make stronger patterns in my backgrounds. And I wake eager to try new ideas.

The fairy glove flowers ,or foxgloves as you may know them, above was an old painting that I hadn't finished. It was very quiet and subtle in colour originally. But these real flowers were the ones that fascinated me as a child. I saw them as magical as I had been told they were fairy gloves. Or fairy mittens. I used to think that the fairies must have had larger hands than I first imagined as these flower shapes were so big for tiny little beings. How strange that the memory still plays on my mind whenever I see these flowers. But I do think of fairy gloves as very magical flowers and my original painting didn't do that magic justice.

To improve it, first I played with the foreground adding texture and drama. Then I allowed light and movement to dance on the flowers themselves.

Is it finished? 

Not quite but I like showing my work in progress so anyone following my blog can see what I am up to.

We all change over time. And we grow in so many ways if we are open to new ideas. 
I am. 
I dread the thought of ever being stuck in a rut so I am using new colours, new products and exciting techniques to make the start of 2018 a brilliant one.

To be honest. I must confess I am reading through my new book and listening to myself. Yes we should all strive to be unique as artists and aim for something new when we create rather than always painting what we know and how we know it. Who knew that I would be inspiring "me" with this new book. But I am so glad I wrote it. I needed to read it and take all the tips and advise in!

But for now, back to painting!


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

2018 The Excitement Begins!

 Study and first wash for an elephant painting in watercolour

 The excitement begins! After a day spent on administration, yesterday, filling cancellation spaces on my UK workshops today was the day I could literally throw myself into my studio painting time experimenting and literally having a blast. When I away am on tour  as I have been recently I give my all, in fact I do in every single workshop but I will openly confess there is a point during each workshop day where I feel very envious. I will have worked so hard to get everyone in the class as highly motivated,excited and inspired as possible but while inspiring others my own artists soul is leaping and desperately wanting to paint too. When I am in a room teaching I believe I belong to the room so I put my personal painting time aside and spend every second teaching. This leads me to times like now where I have the luxury of experimenting, building on ideas to ensure my next workshops are really fascinating. I just can't sit still with ideas. And after this last tour I came home with lots of colour ideas and great new products to try.

So today whilst painting a quick warm up wash I could easily see it would turn into an elephant and it did. I was actually cleaning my palette and the mucky collection of colours placed in a line across a large old piece of paper made the best starting point ever for an elephant to appear. Which it did as seen below. But this warm up led me to a colour great wash experiment.

 Getting to know my subject before painting a large composition

 At the moment I am thrilled with my warm up washes, as seen at the opening of each of my workshops but now, oh boy how they have changed. The break up of pigment is greater and the patterns forming are far more thrilling. As seen below. This first wash has been created deliberately as a base for a painting of a group of elephants. I have a solo show  later this year and I'm working on a few ideas that will add to my collection in unexpected ways.

The exciting first wash inspired by my study of an elephant in watercolour

Anyone who attended my workshops on my recent USA tour will instantly recognise the use of Daniel Smiths' Australian Red Gold, a shade I now adore but here it plays with Daniel Smith Amethyst Genuine creating unusual patterns and pigment formations. 

I always advise on my workshops that if you create a magical first wash that you love, paint another as close as possible to the original straight away whilst the colours you used are still clearly in your mind. Which is exactly what I am going to do right now!

This year is off to a great start. Do look out for my new book, even though the theme is flowers the techniques inside are inspiring my new work and pushing me in a fabulous direction art wise. I hope it makes you feel the same way too. Excited about painting!

I am!


I must add that all cancellation places on my UK 2018 workshops have been filled, and once payment is made each place will be confirmed but I am keeping a wait list in case further cancellations arise so now is a good time to get in touch if you wish to be on that list!


Monday, 19 March 2018

Daffs and Cancellations! 3rd April 2018

 Daffodil paintings on my easel
To the right, in a pottery vase
To the left in an ornamental jug

We have had snow in UK and the countryside surrounding our home has been covered in a beautiful white blanket that looks stunning in the bright sunlight. Although this has started to melt it  over the last few hours today. 

I have started my week with administration although I must admit I would much rather be painting. But my watercolours have had to be put on hold as I deal with my UK 2018 workshop bookings. These had sold out last year as soon as the dates were announced but life has a terrible way of creating unavoidable hiccups sometimes and I have been dealing with a few cancellations which has seen me contacting my wait list in the order of recieving them. To offer the now available places. When the workshop dates were announced last year there weren't enough spaces for everyone to attend. Unfortunately with only weeks to go to fill these now available slots it isn't always easy for others  to be able to attend, especially at short notice.  

But one space is coming up soon so I'm going to announce it here.

If anyone would like to attend a workshop with me on Tuesday 3rd April, please could you get in touch for full details?

Which reminds me, if you would like to add your name to my contact list in case of cancellations please do contact me now
Life does often create hiccups and spaces do sometimes appear!

But for now I can get back to my paintings of daffodils, cheery yellow against a grey sky is such a terrific colour to work with.

Daffodils in a floral arrangement
First wash


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Art isn't easy!

 Snowdrop composition coming to life in watercolour

I meet so many people on my travels when I teach my workshops all over the world and the one thing that seems to be a common denominator in my art courses is my coming across people who tell me that they find painting really difficult. In that their results aren't always as pleasing as they want them to be or simple to achieve.

  I think theres' a point that we all miss at times.We all love painting and we all want to paint. But art isn't easy! It takes years of practise to get to a level of painting where you feel you are creating something worthwhile but even then, you still take time to perfect your skills. I cannot imagine one single famous artist  starting out in their career and simply painting a masterpiece straight away. In the same way that a famous golfer didn't get a hole in one on their first attempt at playing golf.

No painting isn't easy at all. 

I still have days where I face a new subject and what I achieve in my results may be passable as a finished painting but it will be far off from where I intended my results to be. In fact I am going to be totally honest and say I must be such a hard task master as right now I know exactly where I want my latest snowdrop and daffodil paintings to be and I am almost there . But not quite. In my mind I can see the daffodils blowing in the breeze and my results although beautiful don't quite say this. But they will. My snowdrops I want to glisten as if in early morning light under fresh snowfall. They aren't there yet but they will be.

Note these three words.

They will be.


Because I want them to be. Its' as simple as that. Mind over matter. I want to paint a great painting. I want to fall in love with my finished work myself. I am the driving force behind my work getting better and that is the most important point. Lets turn that around to you.


You are the most important key to your own work getting better. How good a "key" you are is up to you but unless you keep turning that key and aiming at "somewhere" you will never reach that destination. It helps of course if you know where you want to be in your art journey. But most o fus want to be better.

So for me this morning, it is back to painting flowers and aiming for the painting that is in my mind, just out of reach. The one that I will always strive to get to as a higher level in my art.

Happy painting!


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

All Ears? 2018/2019 USA Workshop Information

"All Ears"
Half a hare!

I have received so many requests regarding my next USA workshops so I am sharing an update here. Please bear in mind that some locations are already fully booked and others are not yet open for registration.

2018 USA Workshops

Daniel Smith , Seattle WA
22/23rd October  Fully Booked
24/25th October  Fully Booked
27/28th October  Fully Booked
29/30th October  Fully Booked
 Demonstration  26th October  
To be added to the wait list in case of cancellations please email me on

Kennewick WA 
 2/3rd November Fully Booked
5/6th November Fully Booked

Keetons Art Store, Bradendon, Florida
9/10th November   Fully Booked
12/13th November  Fully Booked
15/16th November  Fully Booked
Please contact me for booking contact details

 Bonita Springs Art Center, Florida
26/27th November  Places Available
29/30th November  Places Available


 2019 USA Workshops

New England Watercolor Society 
 1/2nd February Places Available
 4/5th February  Places Available


Please Note: Registration for these courses will be opening later this year.

Coachella Watercolor Society
12/13th February 2019
 14/15th February 2019


California Watercolor Association
19/20th February 2019
22/23rd February 2019
Enquiries :


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

New Book: Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour

 I am thrilled to share the news that my new book "Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" will be launched this year. It is now available to pre order, for first edition prints, from

It has been a journey writing this book as for years I have always wanted to write a book about painting flowers. In fact this was the first book I ever imagined writing. But when my publisher invited me to write it as my sixth publication my art, style and subject matter had changed dramatically from when it was first a seed of an original idea in my imagination.

Now , at this stage in my art journey I wanted to share demonstrations that were different covering subjects that might be less well known or popular in many existing floral art books.For example, I chose painting white subjects as a challenge for one whole section and my approach can be used for many other subjects as well as flowers. 

The process was filmed entirely in my garden. So readers are visiting me at home in each chapter throughout the year. This was so lovely as there were always endless subjects at hand to create in watercolour as I am a keen gardener. But it was difficult to stay with flowers only as wildlife in the form of insects and birds visit my garden daily so these too leaped onto the pages.

 My cottage garden

It has been a magical journey and one that took a lot of my time. A labour of love . In fact, I was still working on it while I was on tour but it has now gone to print. Finally. 

To purchase a pre order copy please see this link and I will be signing copies and selling my book at Patchings this year where my book will be launched. A very exciting time!

 Roses from my cottage garden