Portrait painting with Martin Brooks

I  don’t do a lot of portrait painting.

Woman | Portrait painting with Martin Brooks

As a member of Salcombe Art Club, I attend watercolour and acrylic classes on a weekly basis, a term at a time. On top of that, there are often specialist workshops – life drawing and portrait painting – and I sign up for these too.

 

2018 Portrait class with Martin Brooks

Last year, I produced this portrait at a Martin Brooks workshop.

I know it’s not brilliant but I can honestly say I caught a likeness of the model and am pleased with my efforts.

Aware though that I had much to learn, this year, I signed up for two more workshops with Martin Brooks.

  • Life drawing last weekend
  • Portrait painting this weekend

advert | Portrait painting with Martin Brooks

I attend as many Life Drawing classes as I can – they are always immensely helpful in keeping your hand and eye ‘in’.

 

2019 Portrait class with Martin Brooks

As for the portrait paintings I completed this weekend … well, judge for yourself. This was painted on Saturday.

Woman 2 | Portrait painting with Martin Brooks

The model for Sunday gave me more problems. This is the morning study.

Man, side view | Portrait painting with Martin Brooks

Martin kindly helped me with positioning of parts of the face: the ears, the eyebrows etc.Martin's sketch | Portrait painting with Martin Brooks

MY sketch | Portrait painting with Martin BrooksAbove, the top sketch  is Martin’s; the other is mine, and I can see how my proportions went awry.

However, I think I am improving … what do you think?

Man again | Portrait painting with Martin Brooks

Salcombe Art Club logoHow can you join Salcombe Art Club?

There are three categories of membership.

  • Lay members may take part in workshops, courses, and social activities and generally assist in supporting the club but may not exhibit.
  • Associate members may take part in most club activities including exhibiting in the Little Studio section (but not the main gallery) of the Annual Summer Exhibition. Associate members also have voting rights at the annual AGM.
  • Full members may take part in all club activities and exhibit their works in the Annual Summer Exhibition when they are required to carry out their share of stewarding duties. Full members also have voting rights at the annual AGM.

The first step is to enroll as a lay member; it only costs £12 per annum. After that, there is an annual selection process to become an associate member or a full member. For full details, check the How to Join page on the SAC website.

Postcard from Milton Keynes: Woughton House

We travel up to Milton Keynes once or twice a year to visit family. We can’t stay with the family – no room – but we found this wonderful hotel, perfect for our needs.

 

Woughton House

MGallery Woughton House is a beautiful country house surrounded by green fields and parkland. It’s so beautiful, I’ve taken many photos and produced this watercolour sketch.

It was a clear day, early in January, with the house bathed in sunshine. How could I resist?

MGallery Woughton House

But the hotel also boasts a gallery and has a splendid display of hundreds of paintings and prints. This collection is at the foot of the stairs. The book on the chest, left casually there, is an ornament – a box fashioned to look like a book.

Walking up the stairs, the walls are packed with images. There’s no space for any more.

And this is the view from the top.

Even the corridors are decorated with a variety of plaques.

Where is Woughton House?

The hotel seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere but is only a few minutes or so from the A5 and the M1 – and very easy to find.

If you have reason to travel to Milton Keynes, eg to visit Bletchley Park, I can heartily recommend this hotel.

This post is one of my POSTCARD series, sharing all things ART with you when I go travelling. My previous postcard discussed the Magic of Manrique, and his house which Anne and I visited when MV Ventura stopped for one day in Lanzarote.

Postcard from Lanzarote: The Magic of Manrique

Imagine: a fourteen-day cruise with stops at Lisbon, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Tenerife, and Madeira … each one with tours to take you ashore and show you the local sights and delights.

When the MV Ventura stopped for one day in Lanzarote, Anne and I took advantage of an excursion to discover the Magic of César Manrique, the Spanish artist, sculptor, architect and activist.

The visit included entrance to the César Manrique Foundation, situated in Manrique’s former home, Taro de Tahíche.

Outside the house, visible from far away, is this statue: Monumento al Campesino (a monument to the peasant). It’s constructed from scrap parts and stands tall above the coach park.

Monumento al Campesino | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

Monumento al Campesino

César Manrique was passionate about the landscape, keen to make use of it, to blend buildings in with it. He chose to site his house on the solidified lava rock created by an 18th-century volcanic eruption that transformed the Lanzarote terrain; he made use of the bubbles which naturally form when the volcano erupts.

The top of the first bubble is visible as you walk through the gates and into what we might call the front garden.

Garden | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

Looking down into it, you see the room below.

Top of bubble | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

The sculpture you can glimpse from up here … is within a room below and is indicative of his style. His sculptures appear all over Lanzarote, especially on the islands in the middle of the many roundabouts.

Red sculpture | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

The decor of the rooms, cut into the volcanic earth, is simple, with single colour schemes. White …

White room | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

And yellow …

Yellow room | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

The emphasis is on clear cut lines. No fuss.

 

The paintings of César Manrique

There’s not enough space here to share all the paintings on show. His, and those of many famous artists of his generation, like Picasso, adorn the walls.

Anne liked this one the best – for its simplicity.

Line drawing | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

His geometric lines are to be seen in the garden too.

Rainbow wall | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

When you are inside the house, you are acutely aware of the outside – the view across the volcanic black earth to the sky through massive windows.  Within the space, a pool is cut into the rock and the black volcanic rock painted white. Even the man-made structures are made to look natural.

Pool | Postcard from Lanzarotte: The Magic of Manrique

If ever you are in Lanzarote, take time out to visit the César Manrique Foundation. Rather than taking a coach tour, which limits you on time, make your own way there and enjoy every part of the experience to the full.

This post is one of my POSTCARD series, sharing all things ART with you when I go travelling. My previous postcard focused on the sketching I did while aboard MV Ventura.

Next week’s blog shares the art we discovered when we returned to the UK.

Postcard from MV Ventura: Sketching at sea

Whenever we go travelling, I pack my watercolour kit and various sketchbooks of various sizes and make time for sketching.

Our ritual, as soon as we arrive at a new place, somewhere we will be staying long enough for Anne to write and me to paint, is to set up the space to suit us both. Our cabin aboard MV Ventura was perfect for our needs. And what a view!

Our cabin | Postcard from MV Ventura: Sketching at sea

Anne bagged the ‘dressing table’ as her office space, and I took over the ‘lounge’ area. Some shelving beneath the TV held all my equipment and I used the small coffee table for my palette and to rest my sketchbook.

We were aboard MV Ventura for fourteen days and seven of those were at sea. This gave me plenty of time for sketching.

 

Water, water, all around …

For the first two days, crossing from Southampton to Lisbon. all we saw from our balcony was the sea. And ships. And even more ships and drilling rigs whenever we went into port. With my marine insurance background, I found this fascinating and took many photos. So much resource material, so much inspiration for my sketching, but never enough hours to paint everything!

Drilling rig | Postcard from MV Ventura: Sketching at sea

However, I did sketch a few cruise ships and captured the landscape when we were in port.

 

Sketching Queen Victoria

One of Anne’s friends cruises regularly. We met her and her husband for lunch in Madeira a few years ago. We were staying in Funchal over Christmas and New Year; they were due to arrive on New Year’s Eve, in time to see the fireworks that night. This time, they were aboard Queen Victoria and – because our itineraries had us both in Madeira on 31 December, we planned to meet up at the same restaurant for a catch-up. Imagine our surprise to wake up the day before, to see their ship just across from ours.

Cunard moored | Postcard from MV Ventura: Sketching at sea

As it turned out, we should have made the effort to meet that day. Once we got to Madeira, they were moored off and the sea was too rough for them to be allowed ashore on the tenders.

This sketch is of Queen Victoria sailing off into the sunset.

Cunard sailing away | Postcard from MV Ventura: Sketching at sea

Sketching in Tenerife

We’ve visited Tenerife before and we were not inclined to go ashore that day. The sky above the mountains was black, and we’d not been attracted by the various tours on offer. Instead, we enjoyed relative peace and quiet aboard ship. Anne did lots of writing and when I wasn’t taking photos, I was sketching . Bliss!

Tenerife | Postcard from MV Ventura: Sketching at sea

Sketching in Madeira

We’ve also visited Madeira many times but never aboard a cruise ship. The day we arrived (31 December), it was a full house.

Madeira | Postcard from MV Ventura: Sketching at sea

We walked ashore in the morning and returned to the ship in time to avoid a downpour. As you will have seen from a previous post, the rain abated, almost, and the New Year’s Eve fireworks were spectacular.

This post is one of my POSTCARD series, sharing all things ART with you when I go travelling. My previous postcard focused on edible art.

Next week’s blog shares more of the art we discovered ashore. If cruising appeals to you, visit the P&O website.

Postcard from MV Ventura: Art good enough to eat

The cruise aboard MV Ventura was a gastronomic delight.

  • Breakfast delivered to our cabin every morning
  • A five-course meal every night
  • Food available at almost any other time you might feel peckish

 

Each evening, as we approached the dining table, we’d be impressed by the table decorations. They changed from day to day, and were always set as if for a feast. Which it always was!

Balloons, glitter, sparkling glassware, shining plates, and cutlery. And the menus were similarly artfully crafted.

 

Getting into the festive spirit

Replete, we’d wander back to our cabin noticing the small touches: tiny Christmas trees (fake!) at every turn, and Christmas decorations adorning alternate cabin doors.

As if that wasn’t enough, we would return to our cabin to find gifts on an almost daily basis.

  • A bottle of fizz and a box of chocolates on arrival day
  • A (small but still too big for us two) Christmas cake
  • Bowls of fruit
  • Tins of biscuits
  • More chocolates …

 

We were surrounded by temptation and, if that wasn’t enough, there were artistic displays of food – although no one was allowed to touch these, let alone eat them.

 

Christmas cakes galore

This first display must have taken many hours to produce. More than a dozen beautifully decorated Christmas cakes.

Christmas cakes | Postcard from MV Ventura: Art good enough to eat

They featured the usual images: Father Christmas, holly, snow …

 

Gingerbread galore

The second display had a gingerbread theme: houses of all shapes and sizes and lots of snow.

Gingerbread houses | Postcard from MV Ventura: Art good enough to eat

Before this cruise, despite being forced to watch Bake-Off, I’d never thought about baking as an art form. The chefs aboard MV Ventura proved me wrong…

If cruising aboard one of P&O liners appeals to you, check them out. They go all over the world.

This post is one of my POSTCARD series, sharing all things ART with you when I go travelling. My previous postcard was all about art on the stairs.

Next week’s blog shares more of the art we discovered aboard MV Ventura, and ashore too.

Postcard from MV Ventura: Art on the stairs

The MV Ventura has many decks (18) and many lifts, to save passengers from walking up and down stairs.

However, the staircases provided yet more art to enjoy. At every landing – halfway between the opportunities to board a lift – there were dramatic displays of works.

There were t0o many to show them all here, but I selected three artists whose works were particularly stunning.

 

Art on the stairs: Johnny Bull

Johnny Bull was born in 1949 and the work he has on display are a series of colourful images produced from photographs taken in various locations visited by MV Ventura. They are unique images: inkjet print on paper, mounted behind a lenticular lens. So, the image moves – comes alive – as you walk past!

This is just one of many of his works of art.

Johnny Bull | Postcard from SS Ventura: Art on the stairs

Art on the stairs: Paul Critchley

Paul Critchley originates from Merseyside but now lives and works in Barcelona. Both parents were art teachers and he is much travelled. His works are oil on canvas mounted on aluminum.

The 3D effect is almost alarming. He presents familiar objects but in such a way as to provoke the viewer to see them differently. This one, called ‘The Daily Commute’, is relatively tame.

Paul Critchley newspapers | Postcard from SS Ventura: Art on the stairs

Others were more exciting and sometimes shocking. This one is called ‘House of Stories’.

This one appealed to the artist in me.

Paul Critchley easels | Postcard from SS Ventura: Art on the stairs

Hexagonal art: Vanessa Ballard

Vanessa Ballard has a passion for patterns. For the images on board MV Ventura, she travelled to 15 countries and spent hundreds of hours creating 100K digital images for these works, all created from hexagons. Close up, you could see how each hexagon was differently coloured.

From afar though, the intention of the artist becomes clear. This one, called ‘Setting Sail’,  is of MV Ventura.

This one, fittingly, is a glass of champagne. It is called Paradise Island I.

 

Art in the cabin: artist unknown

Even in the cabin, we had art … and decided the style – with a wavy perspective – made complete sense aboard a ship, especially when we were crossing the Bay of Biscay. I omitted to note the artist’s name for these pieces … apologies!

This post is one of my POSTCARD series, sharing all things ART with you when I go travelling. My previous postcard was all about Whitewall Galleries.

Next week’s blog shares more of the art we discovered aboard MV Ventura, and ashore too.

Postcard from MV Ventura: Whitewall Galleries

Anne and I spent two weeks aboard the P&O cruise liner SS Ventura, enjoying Christmas and the New Year celebrations, and some art, courtesy of Whitewall Galleries.

 

Whitewall Galleries

Whitewall Galleries offer beautiful and innovative original paintings, collectible editions and sculptures from internationally acclaimed artists, alongside the most exciting emerging talents through a nationwide network of galleries.Network of galleries | Postcard from SS Ventura: Whitewall GalleriesWhitewall Galleries can be found in 36 locations on land, with several on ships, including SS Ventura.

 

Whitewall Gallery aboard SS Ventura

P&O’s SS Ventura provides space on Deck 5 for Whitewall Galleries to display their wide range of works.

As part of the entertainment programme, Jada, the Whitewall Gallery manager, gave several talks and presentations. I attended three:

  • A talk on Jack Vettriano in the Gallery itself
  • A presentation on LS Lowry in one of the theatres, attracting a much larger audience
  • A talk on the Impressionists – back in the Gallery

 

Jack Vettriano at the Whitehall Gallery

I was aware of Jack Vettriano’s work and his images which have proved ideal for greetings cards. This one is called The Picnic Party. (Apologies for the poor lighting and reflections!)

The Picnic Party | Postcard from SS Ventura: Whitewall Galleries

One favourite of mine is The Singing Butler. I love his use of umbrellas.

The Singing butler | Postcard from SS Ventura: Whitewall Galleries

On the cruise, we had to resort to an umbrella now and again and most especially on New Year’s Eve, while watching the fireworks in  Madeira.

Fireworks in Funchal | Postcard from SS Ventura: Whitewall Galleries

Like Vettriano’s dancing pair, we were not deterred by the weather.

Umbrella time | Postcard from SS Ventura: Whitewall Galleries

Born John Hoggan, this talented artist never had any success with that name, so Madonna-style, in 1989, he reinvented himself and took an Italian surname. Makes me wonder if I would sell more paintings if I were to follow suit?!

This post is one of my POSTCARD series, sharing all things ART with you when I go travelling. My previous postcard was from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Next week’s blog shares more of the art we discovered aboard SS Ventura, and ashore too.

Holiday time!

Yes, I’m taking a holiday … a long holiday!

First, Anne and I have a big birthday to celebrate, and then we are escaping for a while to recharge our batteries.

I’ll be back to blogging on Monday 7 January.

In the meantime, I wish you festive greetings: a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Work-in-progress: Watercolour classes with Michael Hill

Michael HillI attend watercolour classes with Michael Hill at Salcombe Art Club every Tuesday during term time, October through to Easter.

Michael arrives with source photos and proceeds to show how he would tackle each painting. We can choose whether to work in acrylic or watercolour and Michael demonstrates both. This is done in stages, so we watch Michael for a short while and then we work on our own paintings, watch again and paint again, and so on. All the while, Michael comes around the class giving encouragement. His strategy works …

I have three work-in-progress watercolours at present. All three are executed under time pressures.

What you’re seeing here is how far I  got during a class session. It’s up me to complete them in my studio at home.

 

Watercolour WIP 1: Cawsands

This is the source photo. Source photo Cawsands | Work-in-progress: Watercolour classes with Michael HillThis is my work-in-progress watercolour painting.

Cawsands | Work-in-progress: Watercolour classes with Michael Hill

The lateral structure was enhanced – made to look more interesting – with the use of pen and ink. I don’t usually use pen and ink, so this was a departure from my normal style.

 

Watercolour WIP 2: Grumpy old man

This is the source photo.Grumpy photo | Work-in-progress: Watercolour classes with Michael Hill

Not a usual subject for me. No water. No boats. No sky. Just a grumpy old man!

This is my work-in-progress watercolour painting. Grumpy painting | Work-in-progress: Watercolour classes with Michael Hill

I’m glad I have him on paper. It’s nowhere near finished and I wouldn’t want to see him in a nightmare.

Again, this was an interesting exercise, but I don’t imagine completing this painting until after I’ve done another workshop on portraiture. I have much to learn.

 

Watercolour WIP 3: Snow scene

This is the source photo. Michael often provides snow scenes at this time of year. Snow is particularly difficult to capture so this adds an extra dimension to the task.

Snow scene photo | Work-in-progress: Watercolour classes with Michael Hill

The grid lines help me to place the buildings and other features proportionately.

This is my work-in-progress watercolour.

Snow painting | Work-in-progress: Watercolour classes with Michael Hill

I still have to improve the tree line behind the cottage and behind the barn in order to give a sense of recession.

 

Watercolour classes in 2019

Salcombe Art ClubI’ve signed up to continue classes with Michael Hill in the Spring term. He is very popular so there is a waiting list.

You have to be at least a lay member of Salcombe Art Club to benefit from Michael’s classes. All the details are here.

Work-in-progress: Oil paintings

I have two oil paintings in progress at the moment. One is a ‘normal’ scene with moored boats and little going on. The other is action-packed.

 

Oil painting 1: Salcombe Harbour

This first oil painting is a Salcombe Harbour scene taking in Cliff House through to the Ferry Inn as seen from the Venus Cafe on the East Portlemouth side of the estuary.

This is one of my source photos, showing the grid pattern I set up for my composition.

This photo also reveals which craft were present when I took the photo, and which ones made it on to the canvas. Notice that the yacht on the right of the photo is on the left in my painting. Also, notice that I’ve introduced some other smaller craft to my composition, to create balance.

The source photo above is one of many photos I took that day, in changeable weather: some with cloud cover; some with the sun breaking through. I’ve tried to capture sunshine on the scene – and that colouration will have come from my other source photos, not shown here.

In all, for anyone painting, I may have a dozen or more photos to inspire me. I draw from as many of them as necessary to arrive at the composition and my palette of colours.

 

Oil painting 2: Merlins racing up Salcombe estuary

This is the other work-in-progress oil painting – four Merlins racing up the estuary.

My source photo for this one included a view of the Venus Cafe umbrellas, which I decided were a distraction, as I wanted to focus on the action on the water.

Notice that I changed the relative position of the boats, and eliminated one. My aim was to capture the sense of speed through the water. I maintained the colour of the spinnakers, but only because they worked in this combination.

These two paintings should be completed in time for the 2019 exhibition at Salcombe Art Club and will keep me busy during the dark days of winter.

 

New card designs

Apart from painting, one of the tasks over the winter is to select new card designs.

Usually, rectangular ones are cropped to create a square. For the Salcombe Harbour image, we might have two cards. Which do you prefer?