Friday, 30 March 2018

Positive progress for painters at Higham Hall

Ray in the studio with his colourful and expressive acrylic mixed media painting created from field trip to Grange in Borrowdale. First hand experiences drawing outside sure have paid off! Well done Ray!

The start of an yearly teaching program at Higham Hall began with a fabulous art course for everyone recently in March using mixed media with an 'everything acrylic theme' which was really popular, a great learning experience for all and above all - fun!

With a full class of 13 students top quality paintings just kept rolling out all week from everyone. Our exciting painting week was organised with several studio days painting with acrylics on bespoke textured surfaces, oil pastels with acrylic ink,  palette knife work using heavy body acrylic paints and so much more.

Here is everyone with just one of their fabulous paintings created during the week in the studio. Photos by kind permission of Janet Harvey (page 2 bottom right).

The weather could not have been better. Snow capped peaks around Higham Hall and on our outings were a delight to see.

Skiddaw mountain range seen from the terrace at Higham Hall - what a fabulous view!

We even had the chance to get outdoors early in the week to explore Lakeland some more with a visit to the lovely village of Grange in Borrowdale to sketch and paint which everyone enjoyed and really benefited from.

Grange in Borrowdale - lovely Autumn colours bathed in sunshine

Another example of just one of the superb mixed media acrylic ink and oil pastel paintings created from drawing at Grange - a lovely composition and strong controlled drawing.

Spread out along the River Derwent everyone quickly chose their view and got stuck going enjoying every moment...time to catch up with the rest of the group painting and sketching in the village

Ray on the far side of the bank sketching the iconic double span bridge crossing the River Derwent into the village of Grange -
Ray's smile says it all!

A thoroughly enjoyable 'jolly good painting time' had by all with lots and lots of laughter, fun times and wonderful paintings too that boosted everyones confidence to explore mixed media even more on the next courses at Higham Hall.

I'll be back in May at Higham Hall teaching a 'Garden Impressions' themed holiday taking students to paint at the wonderfully inspirational Mirehouse and Gardens (close to Higham Hall) and within the ever improving gardens and woodland at Higham Hall itself. 

Details here of the May art holiday at Higham Hall:

Just one of the very special and natural garden areas within the grounds of Higham Hall we will be painting in come July - such a tranquil and relaxing setting, no wonder everyone's garden paintings are so good!

With the Chelsea Flower Show being televised during our painting week it's sure to be a colourful week celebrating a very different side of The Northern Lake District with exclusive access to some fantastic places to paint. 

See you in May - just 5 places left now so you'd better get your place booked pronto if you are coming!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Derwent Inktense workshop brighten everyones day!

Derwent Inktense blocks - everyones favourite as they proved so easy to use to create bright uplifting paintings with - especially those during our 'Bluebells in Spring Woodland' workshop in North Leeds

It might still be Winter but artists who came to a recent workshop in North Leeds are full of the joys of Spring having recently painted some fabulous colourful paintings using Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils.

The popular theme 'Bluebell woodland in sunlight and shade' could not have been better to explore the wonderful range of versatile colours generously provided by Derwent Art Materials supporting our recent North Leeds workshop.

A little goes a long way with Derwent Inktense - beautiful bright colours to both draw and paint with easily

Multiple layering with Derwent Inktense blocks produce real depth in everyones colourful paintings. A fabulous media to create pastel type effects over several Inktense colour washes without dusting

Combination techniques between big brush washes with Inktense and details on top using the edges and corners of different Inktense blocks and Inktense pencils

Each student was provided with a full set of 24 Inktense colours and Inktense pencils too throughout the day to work with. The entire Derwent inktense range of colours in both blocks and pencils consists of 12 very useful colours, 24 and 36 gorgeous colours and an extensive 72 full colour set of really fabulous colours that offer so much versatility!

Derwent Inktense Blocks being used to draw into wet washes of applied Inktense colours. Washes are prepared before hand in large wells by shaving, trimming or cutting sections of the blocks into containers and adding water to allow them to dissolve. More water - lighter wash, less water - stronger wash. So versatile!

When Inktense washes are dry, unlike watercolour, they are permanent. A great advantage as further applications of colour do not disturb those underneath so colour washes remain clean and pure. As shown here this inspires so many different creative expressive mark making techniques in the same painting creating stunning visual effects

From the very expressive to the delicate and controlled approach Derwent Inktense is with you all the way helping you to develop your own particular style in a much brighter and more colourful way - a joy to use

Premixed Derwent Inktense colours being used with a Pro Arte Swordliner to create beautiful painterly detailed effects in all the trees in this colourful Springtime composition 

The paintings everyone created were amazing - really colourful compositions that explored the bright colourful permanent layering techniques Derwent Inktense blocks are known for, together with a whole host of other creative techniques that everyone really enjoyed exploring throughout the workshop.

Watercolour techniques being explored with premixed colours of Derwent Inktense blocks which intermix perfectly one into the other to create just the right tone you need when you need it most

The results spoke for themselves - a line up of of 20 lovely colourful paintings created by everyone who came. 
Combinations of both drawn and painted effects using Derwent Inktense blocks. Notice how clean and radiant Derwent Inktense colour washes are when painted one over the other - a fabulous media that both water colourists and pastelists can benefit from

Here are just a few comments I've kindly received about the workshop and Inktense so far:

'Many thanks for an inspirational workshop on Friday at Bardsey.  I loved the product and have just ordered a set, can't wait for them to arrive and start painting, developing all the tips you showed us.'
P. Gurd

'I think the Inktense blocks are fantastic. I love the vibrancy and the fact that they are permanent and don't lift when layering.  I will certainly be using them again and think they will be great as an underpainting for my pastels on the Fisher 400 and Uart sanded paper instead of watercolour or acrylic.  Such value for money as well.  I'll be going to see Tim at the Art Shop soon to get a set!'
D. Dyer 

Students on the workshop putting into practice what they have learned from my short demos throughout the day, group and one to one tuition - the results speak for themselves!
To learn more about the creative possibilities for you and your art you'll be interested to know that 'The Artist' magazine (for whom I regularly contribute articles for) with be including in the June issue (available at the end of May from all leading newsagents) a full article in review of this very versatile and popular creative media from Derwent.

My own demonstration painting of 'Bluebells in Spring light'. I'm so looking forward to finishing this and using Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils to do so...keep you posted!

For further information about the full range of popular top quality Derwent Art Materials visit:

To purchase your choice of Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils at a really competitive price 'The Ilkley Art Shop' stocks the entire range. 

Visit for more details 

The Ilkley Art Shop'
Hawksworth St, 
Ilkley LS29 9DU
Tel: 01943 609031

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Glorious Graphite!

Caroline working large on a full sheet of Canson Moulin du Roy 300gsm (140lb) 'Not' watercolour sheet with Derwent XL Blocks - great colour combinations and great layering techniques Caroline!
It's always exciting to combine different media together, especially when they are new to students who are eager to try them to see just what they can do.

Students expectations were recently fulfilled when we combined Derwent XL Graphite Blocks and Wallace Seymour liquid graphite together in a full day workshop exploring 'Coastal Textures' on Canson Moulin du Roy  300gsm (140lb) 'Not' Watercolour paper - a fabulous painting surface that works so well with creative techniques with the two very different graphite media in combination.

Pam adding Derwent XL Graphite Blocks as a drawing technique over lots of layered tones of Wallace Seymour liquid graphite to create a rich painted and drawn study of the coast
Everyone's paintings developing nicely with real expression in each and every multi layered drawn and painted work
Different again. Wallace Saymour Liquid Graphite and Derwent XL Graphite Block layering forming the perfect foundation when combined for further layering with Derwent Inktense pastels. 
Wallace Seymour liquid graphite is available in 4 different shades of 125ml pots - 'Cuddly Brown', (a beautiful warm shade of sepia), 'Blue Lapis' (a wonderful deep rich intense blue), 'Shimmer Glimmer' (a grey liquid graphite with a very subtle metallic 'sparkle' added to the mixture) and 'Liquid Graphite' (a grey high quality fluid liquid graphite) that all can be glazed one over the other, intermixed to create unique colour shades of used on their own to add a 'fluid' dimension to your drawings.

You can just feel the concentration from the class! Great to see everyone so engaged in their work and enjoying learning very useful drawing techniques with both of these unique graphite mediums
By adding different amounts of water to various amounts of Wallace Seymour liquid graphite colours, mixing really well until the product is diluted consistently in the water, subtle painting shades can be applied to the paper support with all sorts of brushes to give unique painterly effects with graphite. The media dries pretty quickly and permanently on the paper so subsequent glazes can be quickly applied thus building up tones.

Demo liquid graphite painting on Canson Moulin du Roy 300gsm (140lb) 'not' watercolour paper showing how all four colours of Wallace Seymour Liquid Graphite and select Derwent XL Graphite Blocks work in harmony together to create a very expressive drawn and painted coastal study
This underpainting is then ideal for graphite drawing with graphite pencils or sticks to create a drawn and painted look to your work offering a new way of expressively drawing altogether.

Furthermore, the layering effects with Wallace Seymour liquid graphite colours form the perfect foundation on which to build further creative expression for different types of subjects with soft 'Derwent XL Graphite blocks' which themselves are also water soluble. 

A beautifully controlled coastal study accurately yet expressively created by Pauline - superb!
The softness of the Dewent XL Blocks are one of their unique properties. Pastelists in particular love them as techniques akin to that media can also be applied when using these versatile chunky blocks of the finest graphite pigments.

Everything about Derwent XL Graphite is big; big blocks and even bigger possibilities. You can create a wide variety of textures and effects with these generous graphite blocks; subtle blending, fine lines and deep tonal work are all possible.
David showing that acrylic ink serves just as well as an underpainting to add a strong colour base on which to add Wallace Seymour select liquid graphite colours in combination with Derwent XL Graphite Blocks to add texture - lovely expressive rhythm in this painting too David. 
Developed 6 strong shades from Olive Green to Burnt and Raw Umber with 2 shades of graphite Grey which work really well for a bold drawing approach. No wonder everyone liked them and different shades of the Wallace Seymour Liquid Graphite so much!
Charmaine creating an impressive drawing filled with bright light, space and air by combining subtle Wallace Seymour Liquid Graphite washes with the perfect tonal strength and colour mixing with Derwent XL Graphite Blocks  - a great painting!
A big thanks to Wallace Seymour who generously supported this workshop with their unique Liquid Graphite products and also a big thanks to Derwent too for their generous support also providing the workshop with lots of their versatile XL Graphite Blocks too.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed working with the different graphite products and appreciated the opportunity to see what they were like when combined together in this very rewarding and successful workshop.
Your feedback for the workshop has been very useful to all of us and thanks everyone for attending. See you next time for our next painting adventure together!

Monday, 8 January 2018

It makes sense to use Derwent 'Inktense'

Alex working on a colourful study using Derwent 'Inktense' in a series of great paintings created during the painting week at Higham Hall

What a great expressive mixed media painting week we had recently at Higham Hall. Thanks to the support of Derwent with their amazingly versatile Inktense Blocks and pencils and XL Graphite and charcoal blocks. 

These innovative products were tried and tested in everyone’s work throughout the week creating some stunning results.  

Heres just a few of the eye catching paintings everyone created in progress with them together with everyone’s honest appraisal of these versatile products from Derwent with Derwent Inktense first.

Derwent Inktense
Derwent Inktense as 24 colour set. Even with this 'limited' range of colours so much creativity with colour both drawn and painted is possible

A great mixed media painting in progress using Derwent Inktense created by Alex - such a versatile and expressive media for a contemporary painting approach

Jill working on her atmospheric coastal mixed media painting using Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils
(Photo by kind permission by Eric Cooper)

Close up of foreground texture in Jills painting utilising the expressive mark making capabilities of Derwent XL Blocks on Canson Moulin du Roy 'Rough' 300gsm (140lb) 100% rag content watercolour paper.
Photo by kind permission by Eric Cooper)

"Inktense Blocks and Robert's inspiration helped me loosen up and become more expressive and I loved to use them with mixed media. Derwent Inktense pencils are great for defining edges."
Jill Cooper

Alex working with Derwent Inktense using expressive techniques with them both as a wet 'painterly' media and drawing pastel media too

"Derwent Inktense have lovely powerful colours and provide opportunities for effective and easy layering combining depth with transparency. They can be vibrant yet subtle. The darks are particularly chromatic but the white is a little milky - a good mixing colour though."

Alex Jakob-Whitworth

Roger with his lovely expressive mixed media Derwent Inktense paintings created on two very different watercolour papers - Canson Moulin du Roy 'not' and 'rough' 300gsm (140lb) 100% cotton papers - ideal for expressive textures in one and focussed detail on the other

"Derwent Inktense are lovely to use offering a lot of new possibilities. Quick to use and I'm keen to learn more."
Roger Gillie

Ruth using Derwent inktense blocks to add pastel effects over watercolour and soluble Inktense layering in her colourful sunlit Autumn painting keeping all the colours bright, fresh and above all loose and expressive. great job Ruth!

"I have had Derwent Inktense pencils and not known how to use them. Now I have the opportunity of advise from Robert with Inktense pastels and I am sure I will use my pencils more and will buy the pastels at the first chance I get! Great for outdoor work and I'm sure that when combined with other media there will be even more exciting results!"

Ruth Gamsby

Roger enjoying working in detail using Derwent XL Blocks on their edges, corners and so on to create foreground texture and detail in another lovely expressive mountain view. 

"Inktense pastels used dry and wet really extend the range. Just great to use."
Roger Salmon

Jane and here lovely series of great mixed media paintings. Several featured combining Derwent Inktense with other media for such powerful, colourful and expressive results. Well done Jane, all that enjoyable and concentrated focussed input sure has really paid off!

"Derwent Inktense are very exciting to use and opens up lots of possibilities especially for outdoor work. Colour large areas very quickly but I'd like to see more earth colours really in the 24 set."

Jane Fraser

Just to let you  know, I’ve written a full in-depth review all about the Derwent Inktense range with several of my own paintings shown in stages which will be published in the April ‘18 edition of ‘The Artist’ magazine so look out for that.

Derwent XL Blocks
During the week we also used another personal favourite of mine from the Derwent range - their wonderful ‘XL Charcoal and Graphite Blocks’ which add real dynamism to an expressive drawing approach in particular. Being chunky in the hand you cannot help but want work bigger, be free and expressive with them!

The full range of Derwent XK Blocks in both charcoal and graphite colours that inspire so much creative freedom and versatility - especially with a contemporary drawing and painting approach

Being soft water-soluble and easy to use pigment from both the 6 colours in the XL Charcoal range and another 6 useful colours in the XL Graphite range helped everyone create yet more expressive paintings.

Roger loves his mountains and using XL Blocks to express his passion for them to so easily. Great painting Roger!

"I have been very taken by Derwent XL Blocks and eager to keep using them. Thanks to Robert for teaching me the freedom of expression and line with them. Found them great to work with and to achieve a looseness but with control. I can't wait to get home to try them even more!"
Brian Whitaker

Another great painting created by Alex, this time using Derwent XL Blocks (both Grpahite and Charcoal) on a full imperial sheet of Canson Moulin du Roy 300gsm (140lb) 'not'. The perfect paper for detail and expression and a great surface for Derwent XL Blocks with just the right 'tooth'.

"Derwent XL Blocks are soft and velvety, strong, excellent for large scale drawing and painting offering great dynamics. Prefer the charcoal colours, be nice to see a blue in there like in the graphite range."
Alex Jakob-Whitworth

Your next links for Higham Hall art holidays for 2018 follow.

Last remaining place on several already so now's the time to book your place or you may miss out!