Sunday, 27 October 2019

Witches ,Goblins ,Mischief, Famous Scary Illustrations for Dark Nights

The clocks have changed, the nights are getting darker .Time for witches and other spooky characters to step out .
                                             Something Wicked This Way Comes

The Autumn People by Frank Frazetta (1965)

On a Bat's Back I Do Fly by Helen Jacobs (1880-1970)

Two Witches Inscribed Teheran

The Wind's Tale  (Hans Anderson) by Dulac (1882-1975)


The Witch from Walt Disney's film of Snow White

Rip Van Winkle by Arthur Rackham


Halloween Illustration for War Time 1942

Hansel and Gretel, Arthur Rackham


Saturday, 12 October 2019

Summer Days Turned Into Paintings

Summer is over and I have used the things that I saw around me to make 3 paintings for an exhibition.

One of my academic neighbours let a rose bush grow wild and it has reverted to natural flowering for a brief period in June showing the pretty traditional Tudor rose blossoms. Still to be seen in our hedgerows in England.


I have inherited a lot of pottery and china from my grandmothers and mother .I shall have to cut down on it sometime but have fond memories of drinking tea with my family brewed in this old teapot.


Sunflowers did well in my garden , their big golden heads alive with bumble bees and butterflies.The shops were full of big cheap bunches of them too.I saw the Van Gogoh exhibition in London in July, who could resist having a go at a sunflower painting after seeing his?


The Final Result


              Three paintings entered for the Cambridge Open Art Exhibition

Grandma's Teapot sold already.



Thursday, 15 August 2019

A Good Book,10 Best Paintings of People Reading

I love reading and I love art.

People reading have been the subjects of many  famous paintings.Reading when travelling,with children,in the bathroom, or my favourite place which is in bed.
 We read to learn,for the pleasure of a good book,letters from loved ones, to catch up on the news or to find comfort  from old favourites like The Bible.

These are some of the reading paintings that I like best. 
I wonder where you  dear reader are reading this.

Reading The Bible by Albert Anker

Painting by Ho Shoha

The Law Student by Norman Rockwell
The Readers by Joseph Lorusso
A Good Picture Book by Walter Firle
Lamplight by Georg Pauli
ABC by Jessica Wilcox Smith
Letter from The Front by Agnes Goodsir
Painting by Sally Storch
Painting by Grace Cha


Monday, 15 July 2019

Best Paintings of The Sea by Famous Artists

                     SEA FEVER  by John  Masefield

                     I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
                    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
                    And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
                    And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

Artists have painted the sea to show the enjoyment of it all, the dangers ,ancient story telling, movement from one place to another and nostalgia. I have not mentioned merchant vessels or battles in this blog. I will look at these another time.

  • The joy of sailing is embodied in this painting by Winslow Homer.The boys are having an adventure taking their little boat out to sea alone.I wonder how many parents would let their children test themselves like this today.

Breezing Up a Fair Wind,Winslow Homer

  •   Stories and legends about the sea are a source of inspiration to artists.The beautiful girls known as sirens whose irrestible voices lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks have been painted here by the Victorian artist Waterhouse. The rocks  the sirens are said to inhabit are off the coast of Sorrento in Italy. I have been there many times but never seen a siren.

The Sirens, Waterhouse

  •  Fishing has inspired many artists .One of my favourites is the fisherman artist Alfred Wallis who had no art training,  little money for materials and painted in a charming, naive style the boats around his village in Cornwall.

Five Fishing Boats, Arther Wallis

The light and colours  of the sea were favourite subjects of Impressionist artists.Here the romance of fishing boats with sails are set against the changing times with a steam powered ship.

Fishing Boats Coming In Before The Wind,Manet

  • Oceans that have to be crossed as a means of reaching a new life have been painted as emotional emigrants leave their homeland and set out for another world.Hardship onboard and surviving the terror of storms on the high seas are illustrated in these prints.


  • The relief of seeing land after many weeks at sea after a slow journey on a sailing ship is felt in this much loved painting by Montague Dawson.
Land Ho ,Montague Dawson
  • Rescue at sea is often carried out by  Life Boatmen who volunteer to rescue ships in trouble at sea.Some seaside towns in the U.K. give demonstrations on the beaches that are open to the public.Aldeburgh in Suffolk is one village that does this.
The Lifeboat,W.L.Wylie,1873

  •  The sea has become the playground of the super -rich especially around the resorts of Monte Carlo,Nice and the Greek islands and Florida where magnificent yachts worth billions of dollars can be seen in the harbours.The less affluent can travel the world on the enormous luxury  cruise liners that can be seen in tourist harbours around the world.

Ground-Swell,Edward Hopper

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Best Beach Scene Paintings by Artists

Beach Culture,A British Export

This summer millions of people will  enjoy the cultural ritual of flocking  to the beach to enjoy warm weather, swimming in the sea, sandcastles and picnics. Squeezing large bodies into tiny swimsuits and slathering themselves with expensive suncreams and oils citizens from around the globe will doze off on the sand believing in the benefits from sea and sun.

It hasn't always been like this. It is hard to find any paintings of the seaside before 1750.Before then the sea shore was regarded  as a dangerous place to be. A place of sea monsters and shipwrecks , pirates,smugglers and a boundary between nations.

By the 1840s a change in attitude followed the recommendations  of fashionable  European doctors that the sea air ,exercise and cold water sea bathing had restorative  effects on numerous ailments.One of the first seaside resorts was established at Scarborough on the chilly coast of Yorkshire,bathing machines were invented to enable chaste ladies to change into their swimming costumes beside the water.Even Queen Victoria had one at her seaside home on the Isle of Wight. More resorts followed  at Brighton and Margate.This British export made its way to Coney Island in the U.S.A. , Normandy in France and parts of Germany ,Italy and Scandinavia.As railways expanded access to the coast became cheaper and it became within the grasp of working class families to visit this landscape of pleasure.Tourism was born.
During World War 2 the beaches of northwest Europe returned to no go areas as the Nazi regime turned them into borders to be defended or invavded. I was six years old before I saw the sea.My Dad borrowed my Grandpa's car and drove us to Cromer. With my dress tucked into my knickers I braved the cold North Sea for a paddle.I loved it.
Air travel has meant an ever increasing ability to find new and more unspoiled pristine sands and blue oceans far away.Our desire for exotic locations is endless.
 In our pursuit of health and leisure we should heed the words of Rachel Carson who saw the history of the earth in "every grain of sand"A warning that the beach has a history that is fragile and could easily disappear.

     1.One of the first artists to paint beach scenes was Eugene-Louis Boudin.Trouville in Normandy became a summer venue for fashionable Parisian aristocracy .

On The Beach At Trouville, Boudin

2.Boulogne became another favourite seaside  destination in France.
On The Beach at Boulogne, Degas

3.Monet painted his wife, Camille , on several occasions.She has kept her parasol up to protect herself from the sun. Sun tans were not fashionable until the 1930s.

Camille on The Beach at Trouville.Monet

4.The American artist Winslow Homer was an early painter of beach scenes  both at home and in Europe and the Carribean. His water colour paintings are exquisite.
On The Beach, Winslow Homer

5.Mary Cassatt was another American artist, defying convention she remained unmarried and moved to Paris to live and work among the Impressionist painters.
Children Playing on The Beach,Mary Cassatt

 6.A painting from the 1940s.

Scenes of American Life, Beach,Gertrude Goodwin

 7.Dangerous Work at Low Tide.A painting of officers removing a magnet mine planted  in  the oyster beds at Whitby by World War 2 artist Eric Ravilious.

Dangerous Work at Low Tide,E. Ravilious

Click on these links these links to find out where to see beach paintings :



7. Naval Officers Sent to Diffuse a Magnetic Mine 
This painting is owned by the Ministry of Defence , unless you have a reason to go there you will have to wait until it is loaned to an exhibition to see the original.


Thursday, 20 June 2019

Best Sketchbooks for Artists Review

Before you buy a sketch book there are some decisions to be made about what you want to use it for.Whether you are buying online or visiting an art supply store you will be confronted by a huge range of books in different shapes and sizes and varying in cost.

I have purchased a large number of sketch books  over the years always convinced that another one will have a special quality that justifies the expense. Not so.It is the large expensive ones that have remained half used and the small ones that I use the most.The sketch books that I am going to review have all been bought and used by me.If I reviewed every sketch book that I have ever bought this blog would be as long as Moby Dick.

What do you need to consider ?

Size,binding,format, paper quality. 


Larger sketchbooks are useful if you planning on drawings that may take some time in a formal setting like a life class or for planning a painting.The largest sketch book that I own is A3 .

Life Drawing Class

       My most frequently used sketch book sizes  are A4, A5 and a smaller pocket size book  which will fit into a bag when travelling.


     Sketch books can be bought with a spiral ring back or hard cover binding.
   I like spiral backs as these can be bent over and clipped to a drawing board if necessary .

                                                    SPIRAL BINDING

This is an A4 spiral backed sketch book with 100 pages of 130gsm cartridge paper from Rymans.

Hard backs  like this Daler Rowney do provide a firm drawing surface for drawing outside or if your book is likely to take a beating on a walking or camping trip.

                                                    HARD BACK BINDING                   
Daler Rowney Hard Back Sketch book

3.  Format     

Sketch books come in portrait and landscape formats. It is useful to have several sketchbooks so that you can choose the format that suits your situation best.
I like to open out landscape pages and draw across them fitting in figures  across the pages

The Williamsburg Lodge, USA


   Cheap sketchbooks have cheap paper which is only robust enough for light pencil sketches.If you are planning to do pen and ink drawings then buy something with good quality cartridge paper.Water colour paper sketch books will take the water without buckling the pages.
Moleskin Water Colour A3 Notebook -- Thorpe Bay,

Black paper gives good effects if you  can use white pencil,white pastel or correction pen.

White Pastel on Black Paper by Derek Batty


Why Sketch?

Sketch books do not have to be filled with perfect drawings.You can show them around or treat them as your private records of your world .

Some famous sketchers

 In the top sketch Vincent Van Gogh sends an idea for a painting of his bedroom to his brother Theo.
Below is a sketch of war time Londoners taking shelter from Nazi bombs in a London Underground station by Henry Moore.Best known for his sculptures Moore spent time in the English countryside and filled some of his sketch books with drawings of sheep.These were eventually published in a book that became a best seller.

Sheep, Henry Moore

 Click on the links below to see sketch books available from Amazon 




Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Best Coloured Pencils for Artists Review

There is a vast and confusing array of coloured pencils for sale .Very cheap ones are suitable for small children and will not give a good result for the more skilled or ambitious artist.
The coloured pencils that I have chosen to review are types that I own and have used.They are widely available .These are professional grade pencils, not for for small children to play with.


Here is my list.To buy from Amazon or see the range of sizes that they have available click on the links.

1.Pablo Coloured Pencils ,Caran d'Ache


These pencils are creamy, soft and water resistant.They have excellent covering power.They can be used with other media and have exceptional light fastness.There is a large range of 120 colours, they can be bought as a pre-selected tin or individually.

2.Derwent Water Colour Pencils 

This range of colours can be used dry for the traditional control of a pencil drawing.The addition of water adds to their versatility for water colour effects and soft lines.The full range is presented in a wooden box but smaller budget sizes are avaliable.


3.Museum Aquarelle,Water Colour Pencils,Caran d'Ache

 These are top of the range pencils .They can be used wet or dry,The colours are intense and exceptionally light fast making them suitable for artists who sell their work.They can be bought as a full set or individually.There is a lovely wooden box containing the full range but smaller, less expensive selections are available.



4. The Derwent Academy range.They are hard and quite chalky but if you enjoy colouring in  Adult Drawing books  the  36 colour range will give pleasing results at a budget price.

Two must have extras

Keeping coloured pencils sharp is essential.Using hand held sharpeners or Stanley knives can ruin your expensive pencils.A good quality desk sharpener will extend the life of your pencils.

 I use the Swordfish Omnipoint


Your  drawing can be ruined by using a dirty or unsuitable erasure.For a neat clean up I use  The Derwent  battery driven erasure.



  The most comprehensive book I have found about coloured pencils is

                    The Ultimate Guide to Colored Pencil by Gary Greene 




Some of the very best examples of illustrations using coloured pencils can be seen in 
                                  The Snowman by Raymond Briggs



My Style
Many of the books about coloured pencils are illustrated by very polished drawings of fruit and other static subjects .I do not do this kind of drawing and prefer to use my crayons for less formal sketching .Coloured pencils are very useful to take on vacation.They do not take up too much room in your bag and the addition of a couple of water brushes and a small sketch book means you have enough equipment at your disposal.

I like to hold my sketch book behind a newspaper and capture some of the characters around swimming pools .These are from a trip to Tenerife last year .Ivan the Terrible was a Russian business man who marched around shouting on his phone and annoying everyone who wanted a bit of peace and quiet.



It is not necessary to go to exotic locations to find subjects to draw.There is plenty of stuff on TV you can use. I did these action drawings of a cricket match between India and Pakistan today.






        These links will take you to the blogs of two artists who are well known for their use of sketches