Out and About

From July onwards, the Luton and District Art Club meets outdoors during the day. This is great providing the weather’s good – and so far this month we’ve been fortunate in that respect. There is one aspect of drawing or painting outdoors that troubles me and that is people! People coming up and peering over your shoulder and making comments or worse, saying nothing. If there’s even one other fellow artist with you, somehow this intimidation is lessened. Last week there were 7 of us at Wardown House in Luton. Definitely worth a visit by the way – and it’s free!    http://www.lutonculture.com/wardown-house/
Recently restored, it’s a beautiful building set in grounds of flowers and trees. I used a 2B pencil and some coloured crayons to depict a flower bed and part of the porch entrance (not being very confident in buildings!)

Yesterday the Art Club arranged to meet at The Walled Garden, Luton Hoo which is currently being painstakingly renovated by dedicated volunteers. Another place definitely worth exploring. http://www.lutonhooestate.co.uk/walled-garden

As it turned out just one other artist turned up – and I certainly appreciated the moral support! We avoided the touring groups and found a quiet corner of the grounds, by one of the dilapidated greenhouses, full of visual interest and character. This time I used pen and watercolour wash and was more pleased with it than the previous week’s effort due to the stronger colours.

Still Life Abstract

We’ve had a two week project at Art Group this month. Week one was painting a vegetable still life including a basket, which, not being a particularly basket shape was hard to depict.

Veg Still Life crop

Week two we painted an abstract based on the previous week’s work. I did this leaving out the basket!

Veg Abstract
I found a number of benefits from painting an abstract:

1. It made me look hard at the different vegetable shapes so that there was some correlation with the previous week’s work. I did in fact sketch out these shapes on the page in pencil before starting to paint.
2. It actually simplified the form and colour for me.
3. It felt extremely absorbing and therapeutic – a form of mindfulness if you like.
4. It turned out to be a more interesting painting, in my eyes anyway!

There are lots of youtube clips of people showing how they go about doing abstract art. Here’s one I like a lot by Suraj Fine Art:

Everyone, beginner or established artist, will have their own preferences as to how to go about abstract art. Anyone can do it – so why not give it a go?!

Spring Flowers 2

Continuing the Spring Flowers theme …  earlier this month, David, organiser of Luton and District Art Club, brought these flowers from his and his wife Gwen’s garden for us to draw and paint  This time I chose pencil and watercolour wash to depict the still life of wallflowers, lilac and bluebells.

For anyone new to painting but reasonably confident in drawing, it is sometimes useful to sketch out what’s before you – without shading of any kind, just to capture the form. Then with that as your guide,  and still looking keenly, fill in with watercolour wash.

The need to look and look again is a key skill for any artist – and it’s still one I’m working on!

Spring Flowers Watercolour 1

Spring Flowers 1

My favourite still life is drawing or painting flowers. This one was started at my Wednesday night art session – Luton and District Art Club  – a group of artists ranging from 50 to 80 who meet to encourage one another to keep those art skills alive! We have a varied programme and that week it was “bouquet”.

It always requires self-discipline to finish a half-completed painting – but this week I did! Smell those freesias and hyacinths!



Caribbean “Stomp”

Drawing is the baseline for painting and other art skills. It teaches you to look hard and to develop the hand-eye “muscle”. One mantra that came out of a course I went on some years ago was “one look-one mark”. In other words that you are constantly checking to see that what you’re drawing tallies with what you’re looking at.

At my Art Group last week we had the joy of drawing Lauren who is a gifted dancer from Luton. It is one thing to draw something that’s still and quite another someone who’s moving!

Lauren showed us a Caribbean dance – which I can’t remember the name of – maybe someone will recognise it in the sketches below. She sashayed forwards, leaning back with her arms waving in the air and then reversed, this time leaning forwards and rocking her bent arms in front of her. It was mesmerising!

I share my drawings, not because they’re brilliant – but in the hope that it will encourage others to get out their sketchbook again, and exercise that hand-eye “muscle”!


Chittering Farm Barn

Recently I was on a family holiday staying in Stretham in the heart of Cambridgeshire. We stayed in a spacious farmhouse in the middle of wide fields and skies. Apart from the occasional chugging of a tractor, it was so peaceful. There were several barns near us and I was struck by how the functionality of this modern barn was transformed by nature, by the vibrant Virginia Creeper now clothing it. It’s an ink sketch on site with watercolours added at home, informed by a photo.