Iris, watercolour


I was given some iris flowers from a friend and last night managed a watercolour before they died… just a few flowers and buds left but enough to capture their “personality”. The big, soft, droopy petals make me think of dogs’ ears…. only more colourful. I have “manufactured” my own colour combinations, as is permitted of an artist if not working rigidly in a botanical illustration manner. However, no one would doubt these are iris. I do hope you agree that I have captured the essence of the elegant, garden favourites.

I did a little light, compositional drawing, but primarily employed freehand painting in a brush painting style on a very unforgiving, smooth, lightweight (120 gsm) Fabriano drawing paper. Challenging, but what a fresh finish it yields.I deliberately chose the paper to ensure I did not go back and “fix” anything…. no overpainting as the soft surface cannot handle that.

I do so love the brush painting style, with the variation of pressure and pulling a twisting a multi-loaded soft brush across the paper surface. Pure meditation!

Iris, watercolour

Iris, watercolour

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Sumi e and Suminagashi…expressive art for special needs children


Today I have been practising “mark making” in preparation for a workshop I will be taking with fellow artist, Jan Marinos, with special needs students. We will be getting the youngsters to explore making marks on various oriental papers. We will also introduce them to Japanese marbling… Suminagashi.

The marbling will give colourful patterns which they can overwork, if they so choose, with ink marks. For this marbling (suminagashi) we use Oriental papers such as Hoshu which need no preliminary treatment and have good wet strength. We will introduce participants to grinding their own ink using a solid ink stick and stone in the traditional way. This is a relaxing activity which focuses the mind in preparation for painting. We will then use soft Chinese brushes of various sizes to make expressive marks…. not necessarily the flowers etc which I painted, but more simple, expressive, non-representational,  mark making.

One of my works shown below, which combined Sumi e roses on marbled paper, I made into a fan employing a simple concertina fold method. The Hosho paper is very strong and easy to fold while retaining those folds well . With assistance from their aides, each participant in the Special Education workshop will make a fan. Other works will contribute to a joint mural/assemblage presentation at the final 2 day camp.

.Sumi esumiganashi on oriental papers  sumiganashi and Sumi e fan

Spring Blooms watercolour


Daffodils are peering out. Daphne sending its scent through the garden. Camellias with full heads coming in quick succession now. The promise of spring…… only a couple of weeks away. Then searching my files for something else I came across this photo of a previous commission…. “spring collection”. Watercolour,spring collection watercolour painted in a free style with no preliminary drawing. Reflective of the free (and a tad untidy, admittedly) nature of our garden. I can feel more flower paintings wanting to be “born”.

Brush painting


Based on principles of sumi-e at my recent workshop the aim was to encourage participants to make varied brush strokes and create works that were fluid.  I did show some traditional Sumi e strokes but with the limited time of a single day workshop thought “giving permission” to develop their own was valuable… and more creative. Numerous brushes were tried (including the one all loved which I made some 10 years ago from part of a feather… it is brilliant!) and loading of a soft sumi e brush  was demonstrated. The advantage of solid ink stick and grinding stone was experienced. We also played with ink and water on yupo after watching my dvd of freestyle Sumi e from a Japanese master. Looking back we covered a lot in a dayIMG_1611 IMG_1612 IMG_1613 IMG_1614 IMG_1615 IMG_1616

Jane eperimented with working on wood. She had even prepared the surface with different finishes. This is a meditation stool.

Jane eperimented with working on wood. She had even prepared the surface with different finishes. This is a meditation stool.

IMG_1618 IMG_1619

Stephen made some lovely free flowing marks... just beautiful

Stephen made some lovely free flowing marks… just beautiful

IMG_1621 IMG_1622

Caught on camera... and I was holding the brush low as I concentrated

Caught on camera… and I was holding the brush low as I concentrated

we had lots of variations on bamboo... practise needed to perfect ... but these are creatively different

we had lots of variations on bamboo… practise needed to perfect … but these are creatively different

dragonfly and iris Cockroach

using the rake brush can create echidna spikes. Not really Suumi e but all about exploring brushmarks

using the rake brush can create echidna spikes. Not really Suumi e but all about exploring brushmarks

Ink on yupo

Handmade Artist’s Book


MAKE YOUR OWN BOOK WITH ME at a workshop a Sheffield Working Artspace (TRAK) on April 21st. Follow the  link to their blog for more info.

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 This is an activity I ran at the recent Scouts Jamboree held in Tasmania (more photos of participants’ work to come). The pages are of handmade paper onto which I have done some ink painting, pasted in some Tasmania in Miniature actual size prints of my paintings and incorporated snippets of abstract acrylic monoprints. The book measures only 105 x125 mm so fits comfortable in the hand for a personal interaction.