Monday, 27 July 2015


Don't forget, all my art and related material is now posted onto my original ARTYFAX blog.

It can be accessed via the navigation bar above or at http//

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Last Post!

No not the military trumpet call, I have decided to post all my art (whether painting or collage, etc) on my main page at present called My Collage on the navigation bar under the Header Image, above.

The main Blog which started life under the title, "Artyfax, An Artist's Blog" and subtitled, "The Trials and Tribulations of a Leisure Artist", will now become the home for everything based on images. Paintings, digital art, craft-based art-work, etc. I may even include photography in the not too distant future, but still planning an overall strategy. You will find it at

This image is of a stylised representation of The Northern Lights or The Aurora Borealis. Seen in Northern UK last week. Not something we often see but weather conditions have been strange all over recently.

It is a post-card sized acrylic painting, I used cards issued by the BBC for their Little Art Challenge. I did not want to waste the opportunity. You can see more paintings on these cards on the Artyfax Blog, which will effectively be my home page (?) in this series of blogs. As I said, for now it is listed under Collage on the Nav Bar above.

Hope you will stay with me under this new arrangement, I am finding it too time consuming to maintain several niche blogs. There was a time when I had the time to spend on my PC, but I am finding it more and more of a slog. I hope to reduce my portfolio from seven blogs to four or even three. Much more manageable, I think you will agree. Watch this space - well actually keep an eye on the main Artyfax Blog ( ).

This will be the last post on this particular blog! See you around!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Watercolour Sketches

Following on from the subject of my last few posts, here are two hurried sketches which I painted recently. I am still trying to remind myself of the way that watercolour should be used, I think it is coming back to me, but oh so slowly.

Months, if not years of soft pastels and acrylics (not to mention abstracts, but that's another story) have spoilt my feel for the immediacy and delicacy of watercolour paints.

Soon I will try a reasonable sized painting and see just how it works out, I am almost frightened of committing at the moment, hence all this playing around with small and loose sketches.

But it is beginning to feel right, once more - see what you think:-

A snow scene (#2). 
A very simple application of washes
with the trees, etc, adding detail.

A Stormy Sky
I saw a version of this painting in a magazine tutorial and 
decided to try and get the feeling of an overcast sky in a 
snow setting. I think it has worked quite well.

As I said, I am becoming more confident, the acid test will be the next meeting of my art group on the 6th January next year - or next week as it is onlya few days away now.

I would love to hear any criticisms of my watercolours, I hope those reading the blog are interested in what I am doing at the moment.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How Easy Is Watercolour?

Most people who take up painting as a hobby remember having paint boxes as children or maybe using water-based poster colours at school and those experiences tend to leave them feeling that watercolours are easy to use. They must be if children use them to start painting! Oils and acrylics are used by "proper artists" and therefore must be much more difficult to use. And pastels (and other dry media) are rarely, if ever, considered as worth bothering with if one aspires to be a painter; an artist.

But once you have experienced those other media, you may well change your mind. Although you may still use watercolour for other reasons such as, lack of smell, rapid drying, general cleanliness or ease of cleaning, it really is easier to paint or create coloured drawings in virtually all other media.

It seems crazy that we afflict ourselves with this difficult to use and almost impossible to correct (yes, there are ways and means ...), But still we persevere.

Of course there are aspects of watercolours which are difficult if not impossible  to achieve in other media. Freshness, simplicity and sheer transparency of the media are reasons why many artists love watercolour. But consider the issues above:-

Smell; Oils are the culprit here, and I have to say that I have never considered this media because I am affected by the solvents traditionally used. But modern water-based oil paints are used by colleagues who find them perfectly adequate and are little different to the traditional paints in their behaviour and appearance. Of course, my colleagues are not "professionals" and some may argue that there is a difference which a real professional artist would notice. All I can say is that more and more water-based oil paints are used by artists in my art group.

Drying time: If this is the issue then acrylic paints are probably faster drying than watercolours, especially if you are using the latter wet-into-wet. We artists no longer have to spend weeks or even months for a painting to dry before we can feel happy about carrying it home.

Cleanliness: Now this can still be an issue for some. If you do not have a studio, or a dedicated area for painting, splashes of paint or pastel dust, etc, can mean that watercolour is less likely to create a problem at home. Plus the fact that there are no issues with additional paraphernalia.

Despite the logical approach, I have to admit that I do love a good watercolour painting and still want to re-learn how to create a "good" painting with this medium. This weeks sketch is another small, 6 X 3.5 inch painting, again I am looking for the use of washes and brushwork rather than being particular about the drawing.

I wasn't quite sure about this piece at first but it is growing on me, any thoughts?

One of the problems I am experiencing is most definitely the lack of time I have to spend painting. Doing only one such sketch each week is obviously very limiting. When I first started painting I remember spending a little time each evening, even if it was only a few minutes, practising some aspect of my new hobby. But that was when I could count on the use of a small, spare bedroom as a studio. My situation has drastically changed and now that room is more like a store room. But One of these days ... , I live in hope.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Watercolour - A Snow Scene

In my last post, I discussed why I did not think much of a recent watercolour. I was intending to repeat it (or at least complete it) with those comments in mind.

I was at my art group last night and saw a painting in a magazine which really caught my eye, thus inspired I decided to try and capture the scene in my own style. Here it is:-

The drawing is a little sloppy but I am not too bothered about that at this stage. I am simply trying to get a decent painting. So am I happy with this? Well no. I believe that one of the issues is that this is a far higher key painting than the one I used as a reference. To investigate this, as I had packed my paints and brushes away, I tried to improve it in photoshop. I played with lightness and contrast and with saturation, the result was:-

I do think that this is much better, although I had to back off a little on the contrast as the bottom right corner was beginning to get far to dark and the differences in the colours was getting lost.

It is surprising how such a minor change can make such a difference to the end product. Of course, I know the importance of tone in a painting but like all amateur artists (well many at any rate) I often forget their importance as I try to get down the colours I want.

With pastels, I would just go over with another shade or tint of pastel, however it is not so easy with watercolour. But these practice sketches are bringing home how important the basics really are. I hope the lessons are sinking in. The next few weeks will tell, I would love to hear what you think about my musings or even about the art itself.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Some You Win, Some others ...

You lose, LOL.

Now after last weeks, what is wrong with this and why?

I think I could have painted this better in pastel, Or more likely, I was painting this as if I was using pastels. I should have left white space for the middle ground trees and foliage for example.

Also there is no real contrasts in tone, yes there is some but I have mixed up recession thru tonal contrast (the hills) with aerial perspective and colour recession. There are no shadows to speak of and the result is flat and uninteresting.

Lastly, I used a small brush for the last painting, I was using a pocket w/c set. I had to use the brush quickly and scrub/move the paint around. Here, I had decided to use tube colours and a larger brush. Maybe too large for the areas of the painting where some texture would have helped  create a feeling of detail.

I am going to try this same subject again and try to improve it based on the above comments. But I will also try to improve this painting by completing it with pastels. See if I can do something with it as a mixed media work.

Watch this space ...

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A Return To Watercolour Painting

You know how it is, as an artist you want to be able to use all those wonderful media that are available and thrust at you from all directions. However, when you try a different medium, you have to learn how to use it. Of course, all it takes is practice. But to use more than one medium succesfully is difficult.

Moving from one to another often feels difficult. Just as you start to feel happy using say, pastels, you feel compelled to try another. You take out your watercolours, which you may not have used for a few weeks and horrors ... it feels like starting out all over again.

Even swapping more frequently, it feels like one step forward and two steps back. At least that is how I find it.

Now it has been a couple of years, possibly, since I did any real watercolour painting; I did try a little pen and wash but it was a very short experiment. I have been pastelling and even then painting mostly abstract and semi-abstract works. Coming back to watercolours and using a brush rather than my fingers (well thats how I feel with tiny pieces of chalk in my hand) and I am finding it difficult to make the paint do what I want it to.

I hated my first effort so much I actually threw it away - tore it up and put it in the rubbish bin. That is what I felt about it, and I have made a point of keeping almost everything I have done over the years I have been painting. The second was a little better, BUT not much, and I include it here as a point of reference, just to show that I am improving.

Those buildings look awful, and that tree - horrid!!! On the whole though in the background there is something about the brushwork which I felt was moving in the right direction. The next painting is starting to look a little better.

I even felt good after this attempt, and whats more several members of the art group were quite appreciative of it. Just waiting for next week now. Can I keep the improvement on course?