Monday 28 November 2016

Creativity with Royal Talens at Rydal Hall

Earlier in the year I had the pleasure to review several brand new and cutting edge acrylic products created by leading art brand supplier - Royal Talens. The review was published in the October issue of 'The Artist' magazine.

Recently I took the brand new 'Amsterdam Acrylics' Standard and Expert Series of highly saturated paints (with great lightfastness) to Rydal Hall on a residential art week I led in late October. 

It was an absolute delight to share my creative discoveries using these amazingly versatile paints during our great art week together. 

(More about the art holiday here

Royal Talens professional Amsterdam Acrylic tube and spray paints are really great to use - so versatile and easy to use. Addictive even!

Several exciting and well received demonstrations I gave throughout our great art week together helped create paintings once again I'm personally delighted with.

I have to say, using Royal Talens acrylic spray paints in particular has been a real game changer for me offering new and exciting directions with my own work - less and less I'm using a brush to paint with thanks to Royal Talens spray paints!

Placing the work flat on the floor allows a flat even spray with Royal Talens Amsterdam acrylic spray paints to be achieved. Here I am mid way through my demonstration showing how Royal Talens Amsterdam acrylic spray paints work brilliantly in a mixed media context to build up visually eye catching coloured layers for another expressive painting of The lake District.

Having quickly masked out areas I don't want covered with torn paper, the Royal Talens spray paints were an absolute dream to work with to blend different colours one into the other very easily for seamless blending techniques in given areas. the wide range of nozzles available with the paints ensured even more creative flexibility during the painting process

Masking and spraying for further layers continues. The torn and cut edges with of thin paper (old envelopes turned inside out) worked perfectly to give further lost and found edges in multiple layers throughout the painting process. 

Such great and inspirational paints to use for all sorts of creative directions. Having a wide range of nozzles from supper fine to broad spray allowed even more creativity.

I love the way these opaque spray paints work over transparent water media (Royal Talens Van Gogh watercolour paints and Royal Talens Gouache) to build lots of wonderful expressive marks. 

Using all these top quality products sure inspires confidence as I work in any given include my demonstrations as well. 

Here's how the painting looked at the end of the evenings demonstration at Rydal Hall.

For final details I could return to drawing again (having initially started using 'starter set' Royal Talens acrylic markers to freely draw the painting out with rich and permanent colours), by using Royal Talens Rembrandt pastels or paint again with perhaps some Royal Talens Ecoline acrylic inks. 

Watch this space to see how the painting develops but... the meantime do watch these professional short and exciting films created by Royal Talens for you to see how brilliant Royal Talens products are and how much they can also inspire your own creativity for lots and lots of new directions!

Now you know why I love all their professional products so much - creativity has never been so good thanks to Royal Talens!

For more exciting art holidays for 2017 using Royal Talens inspiring creative art products visit

Photos of my demonstration at Rydal Hall using Royal Talens creative products by kind permission by art student Karen Harrison

Successful painting week in Spain with Dalvaro

Vicky enjoying her pastel painting at Xativa Castle near Valencia - a great painting with stunning views all around. Such a great place to paint!

My first art holiday with 'Dalvaro Art' in Spain (but not the last) I can safely say this - 
it is a place like no other, very unique with a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and a very exciting and inspirational place to paint...for all of us!

Early evening November moon at "Las Orquideas" - I see one of my own paintings in the making inspired by this!

'Angel Trumpet' flowers in the gardens at "Las Orquideas" - beautiful and a real hit with everyone. 

The beautiful sun filled gardens at villa "Las Orquideas" with Dalvaro Art

The dining and breakfast area at villa "Las Orquideas" with Dalvaro Art - it was so sunny in November we had to part pull the blinds down!

The flexibility and easy going relaxed ambience nurtured at Dalvaro had everyone quickly settled in and looking forward to some great painting experiences at inspirational settings. With a great art group who created superb work each and every day with me it was fabulous!

Early evening at "Las Orquideas" - superb inspirational views which we all painted

Morning mists and sunrise. A great start to each day at "Las Orquideas" - every day is exciting, inspirational and different at Dalvaro Art

Everyone got so much out of the art holiday trying new things, new subjects and new media. It was a real thrill to teach a great group with an open mind plenty of techniques and do some great work too for everyone - such is Dalvaro Art!
Jane's wonderful painting of the view from the terrace at "Las Orquideas" painted with pastel on the amazing Canson Mi-Teintes 'Touch' pastel paper - our favourite pastel paper!

The terrace garden at "Las Orquideas" - amazing views towards the distant mountains overlooking the beautiful mature planting with exotic plants...and the tennis court of course!

Marion's wonderful pastel painting of the terrace gardens and tennis court and those beautiful distant mountains. First time with pastels for Marion and what a great painting this is on Canson Mi-Tientes 'touch' pastel paper (black' this time from a choice of 10 colours). Great result Marion!

Here are just some more of the wonderful paintings everyone created, places we went too and all between the amazing banquets Loli created for us at meal times breakfast, noon and night in great company which was further enjoyed by all.

Jane's lovely mixed media black and white painting of the view through the local olives to the monastery
 Convento franciscano de Benig├ínim near "Las Orquideas" - such a great painting day for everyone and back in time for a lovely Sunday lunch too lovingly prepared by Loli and expert catering staff - we were all so spoilt!

The beautiful ripe olives that were just falling of the trees all around us as we painted in lovely warm sunshine - fantastic!

Another great painting location  facing El Aventador (the mountain) towering above the olive groves at Moli Guardner just 30 minutes from "Las Orquideas"  - fabulous paintings again created that morning. Such an inspirational setting to paint again using mixed media on Canson Moulin du roy 300gsm (140lb) 100% rag content watercolour paper. Those who chose to come and paint that morning just loved it!

The wonderful inspirational river and mountain view at Moli Guardner - a perfect setting for a relaxed mornings painting
Xativa Castle approach. Such a wonderful and exciting place to paint!

Inside Xativa Castle  - there is a painting view everywhere!
Further inside Xativa Castle - what a magnificent place

Everyone enjoying their pastel painting day at Xativa Castle - great work ladies!

Jane's lovely pastel painting of Xativa Castle ramparts in full sun. A great composition and lovely colours using pastels on Canson Mi-Tientes 'Touch' pastel paper (black)  - good choice to allow those colours to really stand out!

Jane having a great time pastel painting at Xativa Castle 
A quick photo ref for Jane as a reminder of my demo painting to take home. Drawing as well as painting with pastels is important, especially in the early stages to map everything out

AT the top of Xativa Castle 

Another great pastel painting of Xativa Castle - love the portrait choice. Canson Mi-Tientes 'Touch' pastel paper again being the preferred choice

View over the beautiful and green pastoral landscape of Spain from Xativa Castle. See the mountain in the middle distance? That is El Aventador - one of our other chosen painting locations during this great art week together

Here's the feedback from everyone:
"I've learnt many new techniques on this course - thank you."

"Particularly enjoyed the pastels."
Sue Kemp

"I have gained experience using mixed media which was new to me under expert tuition. I have enjoyed the demonstrations and guidance given. Day 1 was a little daunting but I soon relaxed into the week. Many thanks."
Marion Edwards

"I have enjoyed the course and found the information very helpful - especially the techniques using pastels".
Hillary Betts

"The information given in the course was excellent! I seel I will be going home very keen to experiment far more. You have given me confidence in my abilities."

"Many thanks Robert for the time, patience and guidance. I wish you well with all that you undertake."

"Thank you so much Robert. You have helped me and made me feel quite good about my painting."

A place in the sun  at the villa. The lovely terrace garden at "Las Orquideas" with beautiful views towards the distant mountains.

With fabulous work created by everyone, top class tuition, everything laid on in the fully equipped studio it's fab to know that I too 'more than made my mark' so to speak with a lasting impression helping everyone Ito improve their work in lots of different directions.

It was sad to go and wave good bye to everyone and the four friendly dogs which are lovely to be with too! 

The lucky students had another day at Dalvaro to further relax and enjoy themselves at the end of the course and soak up the last of the lovely Spanish sun before heading home.

I'll be back next year for sure with a new teaching program for everyone. Next year's art holiday is going to be really great as well! I'm look forward to teaching at Dalvaro Art in 2017 already and sharing some quality time again with Harold and Loli and a new group of students again for more painting adventures in Valencia.

For further details about painting in Spain with me with Davlaro in 2017 visit

See you all then.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Nitram charcoal takes centre stage at Honister Pass

Nitram Charcoal, Nitram sharpening bloc with other black and white mixed media drawing and painting tools to include PanPastels, Rembrandt black, white and grey top quality pastels and Royal Talens Black and White Gouache. Great choices for expressive mixed media black and white outdoor and studio painting 
What an absolute thrilling week I've had again recently teaching a great art holiday at Higham Hall in The Lake District (near Keswick) this November.

One of the main highlights of the week was drawing and painting mixed black and white media in one of the most dramatic locations in the National Park - Honister Pass at the top of Borrowdale.

Working outdoors in such an inspirational setting at the top of the pass surrounded by the mountains was really fantastic. 

Margaret proving that big and bold is best using a large 25mm piece of Nitram Charcoal for her great mixed media drawing of Honister Pass. 

As a tutor what was even more inspirational was how intuitively everyone took to both my drawing and expressive painting techniques within their own work after my initial demonstration using Nitram Charcoal, PanPastels, Royal Talens Black and White Gouache and Rembrandt pastels in combination.

Everyone was impressed how easily Nitram Charcoal helped their drawings quickly develop with confidence - the quality of the media helping everyones ideas take shape with ease.

Veronica using Nitram Charcoal to add real depth to her mixed media painting - a superior charcoal enjoyed by all inspiring great creativity in every drawing

The different hard and soft, thick and thin Nitram Charcoal sticks were so easy to work with in lots of creative and exciting ways. I'm not usually an artist that advocates a lot of rubbing and blending with charcoal (preferring all my marks to do that for me one into the other) but Nitram Charcoal just encourages such an approach too! Such a lovely drawing media to work with!

Nitram Charcoal when combined in layers with other black and white media adds real depth to your work. Choosing a rough textured paper adds even more expression to your work too!

Canson 'Moulin du Roy' 300gsm (140lb) 100% rag content watercolour paper helped me to really 'let go' and interpret all the amazing textures surrounding us all at the top of Honister Pass. Many of my students in the group chose to use the same paper too - the results all round were fantastic.

Everyone's mixed black and white drawings taking shape - even in the early stages when using Nitram Charcoal!

With my own drawing and painting techniques these days I push and experiment with all my media a lot more. Its a high risk strategy that can result in instant success, very exciting and unpredictable outcomes from which to build an expressive painting full of visual interest or miserably fall flat on its proverbial there and then. 

At other times my painting approach fluctuates between quick intuitive marks band layers I built carefully. If a drawing for me looks too safe, wooden or what I believe to be predictable I'll tear it up and re-collage it back together again (my own that is!!).

The drawing I did at Honister Pass working alongside everyone between my group and one to one tuition for each and every student ended up as a re-collaged piece which I created for everyone back at Higham Hall studio.

Like Nitram Charcoal - I just don't accept second best with what I create. So for me, to destroy to recreate provides me with another opportunity to use Nitram Charcoal in this expressive mixed media drawing once more.

Anyone would say I did that deliberately  - any excuse to use Nitram Charcoal once again! Well, I'll keep you all guessing but one thing for sure, Nitram Charcoal, will, once again take centre stage in the creative process putting everything back together again perfectly!

Watch this space.

For further information about Nitram Charcoal visit

A November to remember at Higham Hall

Dramatic light and shade explored with tonal drawing at Honister Pass - what a view, what a great drawing underway!

What an exciting and rewarding painting week we have all just had at Higham Hall.

Our first full day started with a superb painting and drawing trip to one of the most dramatic locations in The Lake District - Honister Pass!

Fantastic and dramatic light and shade at Honister Pass in The lake District - perfect for our first mixed media painting and drawing day at Higham Hall this November

The amazing buttress walls at Honister Pass near Honister Slate Mine in The lake District - the real caretakers of the mountain. What these guys cannot do with slate, nobody can!

The views from the top of the mountain pass where absolutely stunning. The late Autumn colours just glowed in the sunshine and the deep mountain shadows carpeting the flanks of both sides of the deep descending valley added to the visual impact.

Diana enjoying every minute painting in the Autumn sunlight at Honister Pass - such an inspirational location for everyone!

Diana's  free and expressive mixed media drawing underway at Honister Pass - ink and stick never looked so good!

Choosing to work in black and white mixed media only for all provided the perfect opportunity for everyone to explore expressive drawing techniques to the full at such a dramatic location. 

A great mountain path at the top of Honister Pass - the perfect place to explore the 'big view' looking all the way down into Borrowdale towards Buttermere. Fantastic!
Margaret's exciting mixed media black and white painting really coming along and developing - well done Margaret!

Painting and drawing at Honister Pass was such a great success for everyone that further studio paintings created during the week at Higham Hall looked equally amazing as the location work did. 

Barbara's superb mixed media acrylic painting created in the studio. A beautiful expressive painting full of texture, drama and life based upon Barbara's equally great expressive drawing with black and white media at Honister Pass. A top class result!

Studio workshops were packed full of great learning experiences for everyone with regular demonstrations, group and one to one tuition each and every day to maximise everyone's learning ability. 

Veronica's studio painting and very personal interpretation in painting style (greatly encouraged during the week with me) based upon her drawing at Honister Pass. How fantastic this acrylic ink and pastel painting looks - especially since this is the first time Veronica has ever used either media! WOW!
A change os scene - Wastwater Lake this time in Wasdale Valley, The Lake District. Acrylic mixed media painted on canvas by Margaret focusing on light and dark and glowing colours. Another great 'first time experience' combining acrylic inks, acrylic, gesso and pumice together on canvas for Margaret. 

Diane concentrating on the exercise 'making a painting from within a painting' highly successfully using acrylic mixed media in lots of exciting ways - thrilling, eye catching results in each one!

Between evening demos, constructive painting reviews and social get togethers we had lots of fun sharing time with other Higham Hall tutors and students on different art courses all there the same time, exchanging ideas with a mutual appreciation for each other's creative skills.

Here are just a few of the comments kindly left by some from all who enjoyed the course with me:

"Thoroughly enjoyed taking part. Robert is a first class tutor, not precious about sharing his experience and techniques with others. Looking forward to trying them even more at home."

"Enjoyed the course with Robert who is a serious artist but light hearted in approach. Lots of good info. as well re. other artists and also about materials."

"I have acquired lots of new techniques which I will enjoy using and, I hope, will be able to develop."

Higham Hall really is a great place to relax. Unwind, have a great learning experience and being one big happy family, very welcoming to new students and regular guests with an open mind who continually  want to experience something very different, enriching and altogether - fun and personally rewarding." 

See you all next time!

New art holidays at Higham Hall for 2017:

Mixed media Winter landscape outdoor and indoor studio painting art holiday...

Mixed media gardens themed painting art holiday exploring rich colour...

Mixed media glowing colour landscape outdoor and indoor studio painting art holiday...

For more details about the amazing Honister Slate Mine with activities, visitors centre and shop visit

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Derwent Inktense does it again!

Rebecca creating a great painting with Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils for the details complete with stunning colours and a painting full of depth and perspective

The Yorkshire Dales has never looked so colourful, certainly not until the arrival of Derwent Inktense that is!

Whatever the subject Derwent Inktense  blocks and pencils work for you in new and exciting ways for both drawing and painting - a fab painting of Swaledale being created here with them for sure!
These amazingly versatile and creative water soluble pastels and pencils created by Derwent proved once again to be a real thrill for everyone to use in our recent and very popular November art workshop at Bardsey Village, North Leeds with a Yorkshire dales Landscape theme.

Using an extensive range of the Derwent 'Ink within a stick' the Inktense colours proved to be so versatile for both drawing and painting with in many different ways with exciting paintings being created by all participants.  

Derwent Inktense pencils - perfect for drawing and detailing wet in wet, wet into dry areas of the paper and superb for blending and drawing with too. the perfect partner with Derwent Inktense blocks. 
Throughout the day the paintings everyone created positively radiated with colour with Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils proving ease of use and their long lasting permanency allowed a great range of colourful techniques to be enjoyed by everyone.

Caroline creating an absolutely colourful and dramatic painting of Lakeland mountains using big broad gestural strokes and wet washes with dissolved Inktense blocks. Great layering, great use of dark and light tones throughout. Derwent Inktense pencils once again proving the perfect painting tools for all those special drawn details that just pull the painting together 
Working on Canson Moulin du Roy 'not' 300gsm (140lb) 100% cotton watercolour, Derwent Inktense and this great paper was a perfect match - the slight tooth of the paper and unique surface providing just right balance between detail and expressive sweeping strokes of lovely Inktense colours that blended so well together.

Another successful painting in process as Mark focusses on the detail and drawing aspects within his lovely Lakeland painting of a slate and stone bridge with lots of clean radiating underpainting using Derwent Inktense blocks - fabulous!

Derwent Inktense work exceptionally well with other water media such as Watercolour and Gouache which we used throughout the day at different stages showing great interaction between all media. Using wet brush and drawn marks in abundance to create both deep and subtle tinted colours, Inktense proved to be a real hit with everyone. 

Everyone's exciting paintings well underway with Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks. Exploring just how good they are to use could never be more captivating!

Everyone is a winner with Derwent Inktense! 

Try them for yourself and you'll soon find out just how good they are!

For further information about Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks and discover even more about them visit