Friday, 29 September 2017

Successful creative directions in Essex

David in his element! Another excellent expressive painting (just one of many) created on our 'Expressive Mixed Media Seascape' workshops at watershed Studio

Like a good sat nav. that heads you in the right direction, giving enthusiastic art students the perfect pointers for their artistic endeavours is very satisfying when you see them finish a great painting you've guided them through.

Big brushes in action allowing all that creativity to flow!

For all the students who booked an 'Expressive Seascape' 2 day workshop event with me at 'Watershed studio' in Essex (St Osyth, Clacton on Sea to be exact), seeing everyones paintings come together at the end of each day is exactly what happened.

Shall I pour tea on it this time and see what happens? Our experimental mixed media workshops in full flow, just like the paint! A well deserved of a cup of Yorkshire tea now the next demo is done!

Productivity over the two days with very successful results for all, together with the enthusiasm for expressive painting techniques I was teaching and demonstrating using layers of acrylic ink, watercolour with gouache and pastel created a real buzz in both workshops.

Mixed media can often lead to 'mixed mess' so showing 'how, 'why' and 'when' with a little bit of 'lets do it' thrown in for good measure, gave some outstanding results for everyones expressive seascape paintings.

What a great multi layered mixed media seascape. Great depth and bright colours - a painting full of expression!
Stage one, big brush techniques in action. Using gravity on a damp sheet of Canson Moulin du roy 300gsm (140lb) 'not' 100% rag content watercolour paper with acrylic inks to give a great free flowing foundation on which to work. 

The pencil case says it all!

Being a leading UK Canson Ambassador for the world class paper making company in France (there is only two UK Canson Ambassadors so its' an honour to be one of them), during our Seascape workshops we used two very different Canson papers I brought with me for everyone to try. The top quality 100% rag content (cotton) watercolour paper was Canson Moulin du Roy 300gsm (140lb) 'Hot Pressed' and also 'Not' surfaces. 

Demonstration painting half way through. time for a breather and to take a photo of it as well of course!
The workability of these papers is exceptional! Colours remain clean, bright and above all fresh and surprisingly for a Hot Pressed paper Moulin du Roy 'HP' holds  a lot of soft and hard pastels too (with a little fixing of course). 

Expressive painting techniques really embraced! A superb start allowing watercolour and acrylic inks to layer and interact - a superb start by Sharon working on Canson Moulin du Roy 300gsm (140lb) 'not'.

This meant we could both draw and paint at the same time with colour on these exceptional papers with total confidence that they would respond beautifully to the multi layering we created on them each time both adding pigments and also removing pigments as a technique when required by sponging, soaking and blotting without the paper tearing, or flaking.

Working around the whites - no need for traditional masking techniques and heavy preparation in these expressive mixed media watershed Studio workshops!

We all had such a great two day workshop event together at Watershed Studio with our amazing host Allison Bond (director) laying everything on for us, to include amazing home cooked lunches and home made cakes throughout each day that everyone left totally satisfied - for all sorts of positive reasons!

Everyone enjoying a well earned alfresco lunch in the lovely tranquil gardens at Watershed Studio.
Our smiles say it all!

Well worth the 4.5hr journey down to this beautiful 'warm and welcoming' part of Essex and  I look forward to coming back again next year for another successful two day creative workshop event - 'Expressive Drawing - Big Skies and Marshes' on 11 and 12 September 2018. See you all then!

For further details about this exciting 2 day workshop (which will include free Nitram Charcoal for every student who attends and costs only £170 for both days inclusive), please contact Alison Bond on 01255 820466 or email 

For further information about Watershed Studio visit

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Summer Successes at Higham Hall

September and a great mornings adventure for all sketching, painting and drawing along the shoreline of Bassenthwaite Lake near Higham Hall

It's been a pretty busy Summer season for teaching and painting again this year for lots of different art courses far and wide. 

Some really exciting paintings have been created on all the different art courses by the students I've had the pleasure to teach, non less than those who have filled my classes at Higham Hall too.

Our carefully designed creative program allows students of mixed levels of ability to enjoy both studio and outdoor painting experiences in wonderful inspirational Lakeland locations - be they close to Higham Hall itself close to Keswick or a little further afield venturing a little deeper into the unspoilt regions of The Western Fells.

July Expressive Painting students and friends with me from Higham Hall enjoying the sunshine and inspirational views at Honister Pass 

Tumbling mountain waters and dramatic views at Honister Pass

The immediate and lasting effects of direct contact with nature - an amazing stylised painting created in the Higham Hall studio. well done - it looks amazing!

Honister Pass from above - another superb mixed media painting created in the studio at Higham Hall on the 'Expressive Art' Course

A further example of the importance of being out there amongst it'. Superb sunlight and shadows giving a really dramatic effect in this mixed media painting. Another successful painting - well done!

In July I took a group of 7 students to the shores of Buttermere and later in the week to the quiet village of Grange in Borrowdale to sketch, draw and paint as part of an exciting art week using mixed media in lots of expressive ways. 

Summer sunshine and shadows at Buttermere - our painting and sketching view

Christine's beautiful and colourful stylised outdoor watercolour painting - it positively glows!

The outdoor experience at the beginning of the week payed dividends with everyone's work for the rest of the course. Direct contact with nature gave everyone a real insight into the ethos of what the course was about and the results speak for themselves.

The serene Summer location at Grange in Borrowdale near Higham Hall - perfect with the gentle flowing river by our feet as we drew and painted - lovely!

John enjoying the sunshine whilst drawing at Grange
Johns 'first time' pastel painting at grange - a cracking result. Your a natural John!

A great little corner by one of the double arches of the bridge at Grange - a perfect choice for painting those lovely reflections
A great days painting had by all at Grange in borrowdale. A rewarding experience for everyone

A lovely colourful and stylised painting again from Christine focusing on the still reflective pools and contrasting flowing waters at Grange in Borrowdale

Lovely freedom of brushwork in this lovely outdoor watercolour painting created at Grange. This captures the summer greens and location beautifully

Great pen, ink and wash with a difference - it's all done with acrylic inks! Superb feeling of the enormity of the mountain that dominates Grange village (Low Scawdell) with this portrait composition. lovely use of dark and light tones throughout

Another great painting by Christine. This time a studio painting using watercolour and pastel of Wastwater. A lovely feeling of space and light in this one. great colour choices too!

A confident approach to a dynamic abstract composition using lots of different mixed media in combination in this studio painting (created on a large scale). Love the variety of lines in this one  as well as the textured blocks of colour

In early September I returned to Higham Hall once more in to teach 12 students this time on my popular 'Expressive mixed Media' art course once again. This time I added a bit of a twist - more loose drawing getting students involved with mixing lots of different black and white media together with demonstrations using collage and liquid graphite! 

 Sketching along the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake
The expressive drawings helped everyone to really loosen up and create colourful layering in their work with a strong focus on clean colour mixing, tone, depth...and so much more!

Just one of the amazing sketches created paining outdoors along the shoreline of Bassenthwaite Lake - captures the break in the weather perfectly!

Honister Pass studio painting. A lovely stylised painting focusing on the 'less is more' lesson - great result!

Through the trees - lovely aerial perspective in this large format full imperial mixed media painting created on heavy weight watercolour paper utilising the texture of the paper perfectly

Close mountain view. Another great 'less is more' result full of atmosphere. This time from Rebecca using pastels on Canson mi-Teintes 'Touch' 350gsm pastel paper
The year at Higham Hall concludes with my final December course with an emphasis on 'all things acrylic' (just in the studio this time) using acrylic inks, acrylic 'flow' and 'heavy body' paints, texture gels, mediums and all applied to different surfaces creating some very unusual and exciting Lakeland paintings indeed.

There are only a few places left now to fill the class once again so if you'd like to get involved, create something out of the ordinary with a real contemporary edge, you'd better give the booking office a call ASAP!

For further information about this exciting acrylic mixed media art holiday rounding of the year visit
or call Higham Hall directly on 017687 76276 to book your place.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A new creative winning formula in The Peak District!

What an exciting two days we have all had recently over the weekend painting together in fabulous and brand new modern studio at 'The Old house Studio' on the edge of The Peak District - a fabulous way to kick start August over the first weekend in the month.

The fully equipped, spacious, warm and bright studio was perfect for our needs exploring expressive mixed media techniques over the weekend with an expressive painting moorland theme using watercolour, gouache, acrylic inks and soft pastel allowing all our ideas to flow, as well as the paint!

We couldn't resist a moorland theme for the weekend now could we - not with the Pennine Way being only 600 metres away from our studio!

Your hosts James and Joanne Crook who have lovingly restored their historic farmhouse with superb accommodation for guests (and Pennine Walkers) on site couldn't do enough for us! None stop care and attention (to include amazing and generous lunches) from James and Joanne meant everyone could relax into their painting, enjoy the beautiful serene 'get away from it all' location and really enjoy a relaxed creative weekend together.

It was great to share so many different creative skills with everyone in the popular and buzzing art class each day. 

Brimming with creative ideas and really receptive to new, innovative and exciting mixed media techniques, everyone's paintings were really captivating to watch as they developed.

Using lots of different layering techniques combining our chosen media together, everyone's moorland paintings had real expression, depth of colour and real magnetism to them.

It was great to hear how everyone had really enjoyed their weekend painting together, each others company both in the studio and on our evening out together in the local village pub too!

A really successful and rewarding weekend painting break for all over the creative weekend. 

With the studio being perfectly placed in a really inspirational setting yet easy to get to being on the edge of The Peak District (Manchester and Leeds at best being only an hour away, Glossop just 3 miles away), next years creative weekend on 7-8 July 2018 is set to become as popular as this one was too! 

With easy travelling, great accommodation for those who choose to stay, generous and tasty lunches, great tuition a superb studio (and more besides), Joanne and James together really have created a winning and popular formula!

Full details about next years expressive mixed media weekend workshop (this time with a loose and contemporary woodland and river theme) can be found here...

I look forward to teaching you again in a truly fabulous and unique studio in The Peak District in 2018. See you then!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

New in Norfolk

Demonstrating expressive gouache opaque and semi-transparent painting techniques over acrylic ink washes on the first of two fabulous painting days with Norfolk Creative Arts students
Just returned from a fabulous weekend teaching two back to back expressive painting  mixed media workshops with Norfolk Creative Arts, North Norfolk in a quiet peaceful part of the historical West Norfolk friendly village of Grimston.

The historical old Grimston Church Hill School now lovingly restored into a wonderful art studio - complete with lots of spacious and free off road parking too!

The lovely village cottages at Grimston right opposite Norfolk Creative Arts - a great landmark to know you've really arrived in the heart of West Norfolk!
Norfolk Creative Arts nestling perfectly in a quiet corner of Grimston village seen through the lovely old church yard at St. Botolph's Church - a church which dates back to the 12 Century - fabulous!
The wonderful and historical St.Boltoph's Church just a few steps away from Norfolk Creative Arts - quite literally as you can see the church through the windows!

The spacious, light and airy fully equipped studio in 'The Old School' at Grimston, West Norfolk (having been carefully and sympathetically restored by directors of Norfolk Creative Arts, Hans and Sean), was perfect for everyone to fully enjoy their really exciting and thoroughly rewarding full day workshops. 

The workshop well underway in the wonderful fully equipped bright and airy studio at Norfolk Creative Arts

Assessing those all important next steps to both draw and paint with the brush at the same time - a great mixed media painting being created using acrylic inks, gouache and watercolour in combination

Using the foundation of the painting to draw back into with dark colours - a real mixed media painting, drawn and painted throughout

With everyone continually pampered by Hans with a lovely range of teas, fresh coffee, homemade light refreshments and a wonderful tasty gourmet lunch midday - all between one to one tuition, demos and practical painting experiences, our painting days were packed full of great things which reflected in all the work.

Hans - your happy host! Speciality teas and fresh coffee and cakes await!

As each day progressed and everyone's paintings began to develop, the rich tapestry of layering using acrylic inks, watercolour, gouache and pastel created amazing visual effects in each and every painting. 

Each and every artist who came to the popular workshops brought with them different levels of creative painting ability. Using the chosen media combined was a unique, exciting and creatively rewarding experience for everyone!

Students review celebrating everyones creative approach 

Milage in your marks - showing how one painting can make several or become the start of something new entirely by cropping into the bigger picture

Texture, colour, pattern and expression - it's all there!

It was a real honour to be teach in such a wonderful, historical yes modern learning environment at Norfolk Creative Arts and with art students in each full class travelling far and wide to come to learn my mixed media techniques, it was a joy to know how each and every student was creatively enriched by their painting experiences with me.

Start with some free and expressive drawing using a soft 4B large graphite stick 

Add some acrylic inks...

...add some more...

...use a large Chinese brush (this one is a Wolf hair from 'Asian Brush Painter'), to keep things moving, expressive and ideas creatively flowing - sideways! Gravity being incorporated, big time!

Explaining the importance of both drawing and painting with expression throughout the painting process with all media

Demo done - yes, alright, I'll try that, turn myself upside down and painting it like that next time...thanks!

Expressive mixed media demonstration painting using acrylic inks, watercolour mixed with gouache and final layering with pastel. a few more special marks with soft pastel at home and this expressive mixed media of 'Autumn tide on the turn at Morston, North Norfolk' is done!

I'll be back again next year to teach another creative break for artists with Norfolk Creative Arts. It's going to be an exciting and rewarding 3 day 'creative block buster' over a long weekend next time using different media so look out for that!