Tag Archives: allowing the brush to dance

Ghosts from a time gone by….

I had a wonderful time this weekend in Kent with my friends of old, Gail and Mick.

On Saturday evening we went to The Gate Inn in Marshside, Kent to  celebrate the ancient custom of Wassailing.   The atmosphere was one celebration and of times gone by……

The guns were fired after the Apple Yowling. 


The words to this post come from the Yowling Song, written by Gail Duff. 


‘The moon is up, the stars are bright, the lantern’s lit, the fire’s alight,   And we are met in the cold night air, This ancient rite to share.


Our bowl it is made from the apple tree wood, And bound with silver to make it good.   It’s filled with cider spiced and hot, the best that we have got. 

We’ve toast for the Robins, so here they stay, And salt to drive bad spirits away,  The cider we sprinkle around, To bring good luck to the ground. 


Old Apple Tree, we Wassail thee, May you bud and bloom and bear, That when we come in another new year, There’ll be cider for all to share. 

So make your shout and bang your drums, Blow your horns and fire your guns, Make it loud as ever you can, To please the Apple Tree Man. 


Wassail, Wassail, we sing Wassail, Good health to all, may it never fail,   Take a drop from the blow as you say, “Drink Hael”, And join our Wassail. 

So stand fast root and bear well top, God send us a yowling crop, Every twig, apples big every bough, apples enow,  Hat fulls, cap fulls, bushel bushel bag fulls And little heaps under the stairs.  Apple Yowling, Voices howling, Success to the Old Apple Tree. 


After singing and a drink form the Wassail Cup – much merriment was had in the pub when musicians and singers joined together to celebrate:)


Mick and Gail’s daughter Lucy, playing the fiddle.


I was reminded once again that it’s important to remember from whence we cometh:)

A Bientot

The Colours of the Spirit

‘Nature always wears the colours of the spirit’,   Ralph Waldo Emerson

The post war London that I was born into in January 1946, was a city seemingly devoid of colour.

As a very young child, my Father would take me to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square where I would marvel at the paintings.     However, what really excited me were the pavement artists working in front of the museum.   I remember the vibrant colours they used – so full of life and energy.


We only have to look at the bounties of Mother Nature to experience the joy of colour.

The change of each season brings with it a new colour palette….and a continuous source of inspiration.


Colour can influence our thinking.   It can irritate or sooth.  It can lower blood pressure or suppress the appetite.   As a form of communication, colour is vital.


Colour can change the shape of war….it can heal a broken spirit or sick body.


When I apply colour to paper or canvas, I feel a sense of well being.


‘I try to apply colours like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music’.  Joan Miro


Wishing everyone a lovely weekend.   I will be back here on Monday.



A Bientôt

A splash of colour for Wednesday….

Given that it’s August, a month when so many people are on holiday…and life is generally more laid back….this tutorial fits right in.

I am using watercolour on white paper with a touch of designer gouache.    The difference between watercolour and gouache is that Watercolour is a transparent medium, whereas gouache is an opaque medium.        I love the way the transparent and opaque work together.

This image is all about spontaneity and colour, inspired by the beauty of my friend’s garden in Wiltshire.


I first began mixing watercolour and gouache about 16 years ago.   I was in my studio in Wales…facing a bit of block…and so decided to put out several large sheets of paper and PLAY. It was during the PLAYING  process that I discovered how much I enjoyed mixing these two elements.

This image is all about spontaneity and allowing the brush to dance across the paper.

Using white paper, I began by mixing burnt sienna and prussian blue, and then while the paint was still wet I scraped out some of the paint with my knife.


I then added some Winsor & Newton Green Gold – quite an expensive pigment, but a superb addition to anyone’s watercolour palette.   A little goes a long way.


In this frame I have added some Cobalt Turquoise Light gouache to the top of the image….allowing the middle part to stay as dry white paper.    Note I have brought some of the Cobalt Turquoise into the bottom of the painting to bring a sense of harmony and balance to the image.


I now add Opera Rose Gouache, allowing the colour to bleed into the wet blue area.  Again note that I have brought some of the Opera Rose into the bottom of the painting.   The middle of the image is still dry white paper.

Allowing watercolour to bleed and do its own thing is all about letting go


I add some Dioxazine Violet to the middle of image, and a mix of alizarin crimson and violet to the Opera Rose mix….all the whites you see, are dry white paper.

I continue to scrape out paint with my knife, which gives a sense of energy.


To finish, I mix permanent white gouache with gold green to suggest stems and leaves.   I have also added some Schmincke Lasurorange – a wonderful pigment.

The overall effect is an impression of flowers in an English country garden.


There are no wrongs or rights in this exercise…it’s all about spontaneity and playing. 

I could imagine this image on a huge canvas….it would make quite a splash.

Note:   click on each image to see a larger version.

Today’s Magical Hummingbirds.




A Bientôt

Allowing the brush to dance….

The following watercolour/gouache painting is an example of warming up, playing and allowing the brush to dance…..


I cut an unsuccessful painting into quarters so that I could re use the paper for this and other images.


Using a mix of Opera Rose gouache – plus a little permanent white gouache I rapidly indicate the flower heads….I use violet and Alizarin crimson to indicate the darker areas of the flower.

Note that the underlying colour from the original sketch integrates with the flower.


Allowing my brush to dance across the surface, using a mix of burnt sienna and prussian blue watercolour, I begin to indicate the stems and leaves.   I have also added a little Winsor & Newton green gold – an expensive pigment, but one I highly recommend.


Using a knife I scrape out some of the paint while still wet….which gives a sense of energy and movement.


In the final frame, I mix some Green Gold with permanent white gouache to highlight areas of the image and to indicate seed pods.    I also move more opera rose around the image to bring a sense of harmony and balance.

This is all about spontaneity.     Working like this is a great way to hone observational skills.     The key is to let go, be playful and allow the paint to do its own thing……It also helps to work on several pieces at the same time.

I would also add that my ‘wet brush no paint’ technique is used throughout….this means as I add colour, I immediately clean my brush to pull out the colour.    This prevents muddiness, the enemy of all watercolour painters:)


Here is a Magical Hummingbird to start the new week…..

P1130895 (3)



A bientôt