Tuesday 30 August 2016


I didn't have very long in Cambridge this time, but as I was staying in an Air BnB with a bike, I was able to cover some ground :-)

Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
I love the Gonville and Caius building, which is opposite Great St Mary's and next to the Senate building. I suppose I like the scale of it - not as enormous as the lovely Kings College and others that date back so many centuries, but more of a 'human' scale.

Gonville and Caius from St Mary's.

I started painting the tower it last April on a very cold windy day, so was determined to return to my spot outside St Mary's and finish it this year. Last year I also went up and had a look at the view of Cambridge from the St Mary's tower - quite wonderful. This year I sat in the sunshine, and a busker set up and started singing gorgeous love songs just behind me. What a tough life :-)

Gonville and Caius tower,
Moleskine watercolour sketchbook A5.
Herring Compact palette
with Daniel Smith colours.
There were tour groups wandering past giving a commentary in various languages and a lovely sense of Summer holidays.

I was using my lightweight Herring palette - shown left - which I have modified to hold 24 Daniel Smith watercolours. More than really necessary but I enjoy having so many colour options and a number of lovely earth colours and convenience greens. Here are the colours in this palette and here is a post on many of the palettes I use for watercolour and gouache.

The brushes are Rosemary & Co - a size 10 and a new size 2 sable, and I was also using a Faber Castell watersoluble graphite pencil and a Copic cool grey felt tip pen.

The markets in Cambridge are open every day, but with different stalls on different days. I bought a lot of gorgeous fresh summer berries :-)

I also spent some time sketching from this shaded position - a rather nice view of Great St Mary's from the rear. It's a very important church for the university - all Cambridge students must live within 3 miles of it. On graduation day they parade to the church, and then into the Senate building to be presented with their degrees.

Great St Mary's, Cambridge, in The perfect sketchbook B5. Stage one.
A visit to Cambridge wouldn't be the same without enjoying some of the college gardens, checking out the freshly made fudge shop, a high tea, a cello and violin concert in a stunning chapel and an open air Shakespeare - all with my lovely daughter as my tour guide! 

Walking around in Cambridge, like Bath, is lovely. I feel there are more historical buildings in one English city than in my whole country! Fortunately many of them are beautifully preserved.

I'll come back next year and finish my painting :-)

Sunday 28 August 2016

Teaching in Bath, United Kingdom. July 2016.

I flew into Heathrow and headed straight to Bath to prepare to teach another 5 day watercolour workshop. It's terrific having that much time to thoroughly introduce watercolour to both new and more experienced participants.

My students spent the week getting familiar with their colours, making colour wheels and charts and painting a range of studies exploring many watercolour techniques. Washes, softening edges, glazing, wet-in-wet, dry-brush, splatter, salt...so many techniques to play with and explore :-)
Before and after classes, I headed down to the river to sketch the beautiful Pulteney Bridge - one of only three such bridges in the world, the others being the Rialto and the Ponte Vecchio.

Bath is full of gorgeous sandstone. We sketching just a little as part of the watercolour workshop and will do a little more in the repeat workshop in July 2017. We are considering an Urban Sketching week in 2018 though need to figure out great locations in case of rain.

I visited the Roman Baths in the evening. It's lovely to see the transition between the ancient bath house and the more recent upper story additions. 

I then visited the enormous Art in Action event, a massive festival of arts near Oxford, before catching a cross-country bus to Cambridge.

Friday 26 August 2016


Purples are easily mixed, but there are many different characteristics to explore - staining, granulating, lifting...Mixing yellows to neutralise purples creates another fabulous range of colours from deep greys through earthy colours depending on the colours chosen.

See more purples on my website here.

Thursday 25 August 2016

A busy month...Bathurst, NSW

July started out with a great week teaching a 5-day watercolour workshop in Bathurst, NSW. It's run by Art Scene, a terrific art store in Sydney. Up to 25 tutors and a couple of hundred students head to Bathurst twice a year for this Mitchell Summer or Winter Art School.

I taught Mastering Watercolours to a lovely group of participants. They worked very hard to explore their pigments, mix them to create colour wheels, colour charts and then a range of paintings to explore many different watercolour techniques. I'll do it again in January :-)

At the end of the week we had an exhibition of all the students' work arrange by tutor - very impressive.

Then I headed straight home to get on a plane to the UK...


The third week was reds. It's rather a long time ago now - I've been to Bathurst and the UK and back, then New Zealand and back. So much to write about...

I find reds fascinating. Adjust the bias from orange to purple and the mixing possibilities change dramatically. I tend to choose the semi-transparent reds though the cadmiums are excellent pigments. I like to use three reds rather than the standard warm and cool - a warm, a crimson and a rose red - great mixing options there.

I love the dramatic blacks and greys you can mix with a good strong crimson and phthalo green. And phthalo blue with a warm red won't make a purple. Fascinating :-)

My students had a go at painting a still life filled with red objects and using greens to create the shadow colours.
See more red pigments on my website here