We have just returned from a visit to Mallorca, the North East coast at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains. It’s a landscape that never fails to inspire me. Usually tranquil, the sea this time was rough and stormy at times, but the blue-green glass of the waves shines through.
I made them on paper with watercolour and then acrylic, image sizes are 24 x 24cm / 9.5in x 9.5in. They can be framed singly or as a pair in one larger frame…the choice is yours!
Yesterday, I mentioned that painting outside was always a different experience partly because of wildlife and nature joining in… well in this next video, you can see exactly that…not exactly wildlife but she made her appearance at just the right time!
At the end of the afternoon, before getting ready to watch the Euros matches, I put the pictures on the grass to photograph and then bring everything back inside and forget all about them until the next day…
This morning, the weather is completely different, rain and cloudy… England will face Germany (AGAIN!!!) on Tuesday….hmmm!
Here are the sketches from yesterday…the question now, is what to do next? I could leave them as they are, but I feel that a bit more would be fun to try… but what?
I don’t rush! I take photos, I put mounts round, just to see where the composition could go next
This is very important ‘mulling’ time! Lots of things to consider, but my first thought is that some elements need strengthening, so as these are quite large scale on cartridge paper, I will change medium and go to a pastel of some kind, which is strong and a little goes a long way, leaving my watercolours ready for the football and cycling pictures that I will make later – a practical consideration but an important one. I really don’t want to run out of yellow and green two days before the Tour de France starts!
The next thing is that I will work on them on the floor, so I can draw comfortably… and still see them side by side. I feel that I want to crop them into square formats.. like these two photos, but if I do, it will be the Very Last Step!
So today’s adventures have begun, I will see how these turn out later and share the results…have a good Thursday! 😊
Basically, it is great to work outdoors. I am not an artist who does this in an epic way, I like my creature comforts too much in all truth. But just to get outside and paint presents different challenges which are just a pleasure. From your eye wandering all over the place… (a constant state for me!) to wildlife and nature joining in, ie, sand in your paints, small creatures wandering over the paper, raindrops plopping on the surface. It’s great and something that many artists love. What you see before you is real, the light moves and changes, you have to work to keep up.
The short video at the end, gives an idea how I often work, especially outside. I like a proper easel, so these two studio easels are my favourites and I have used them in the garden a lot over the years. They are sturdy and withstand my stronger mark making! Lesser easels have been known to topple! If away from home, I work on the ground, on a beach towel often, again with everything spread out.
I also work on several pieces at the same time, at least two, like this. There are a couple of reasons, the first is practical, watercolour needs time to dry, so moving between one picture and another, means that I am not tempted to overwork. The second reason is also practical, I may well have more paint mixed up than I have used, so rather than waste it, I use it on a second (or third) picture.
The other reason is more esoteric perhaps, but I find that with several pictures ‘on the go‘ at the same time, I don’t feel pressured or ‘precious’ about one piece. Each one is important, posing different problems to solve… it’s an enjoyable quest for an image that may or may not work. I like that!
So today’s adventures have begun, I will see how these turn out later and share the results…have a good Wednesday! 😊
I made this image during the first lockdown. It was part of a series I called ‘Hospital’, inspired by news reports and documentaries shown through the early stages of the pandemic, when the crisis was acute.
I was struck by the depth of concentration that was still visible through the smallest glimpse of the surgeons’ faces; the lighting reminiscent of paintings from centuries before. It was a profound and evocative scene.
Earlier this year, I decided to enter the painting to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour 209th exhibition.
I was over the moon to receive the email with the first word, ‘ CONGRATULATIONS’ at the top! My painting was accepted and will travel to London for the show in May.
Throughout the crisis, one promise I made to myself, was to visit London to see my favourite galleries as soon as they were able to reopen.
This impossibly long list, includes the National Gallery, both Tates, the Courtauld, the National Portrait Gallery, the Wallace Collection and the Mall Galleries.
Never in a million years did I think that my first visit will include a show featuring one of my own pictures!
I just looked back on my post for New Year 2020, only to discover that I posted a picture of a frosty morning sunrise; a view of our garden down to the little apple tree where the birds feed. This morning, it was just the same, a beautiful sunrise, with the light filtering through the trees and birds feeding beneath the apple tree.
I realized that having gone through a year like no other, filled with changes, many things have stayed the same… it’s winter in Leicestershire and it’s frosty, the birds are hungry and enjoying the seed we put out, and the light through the trees as the sun rises, is still magical.
It made me realize that at this time and having gone through a year like no other, I still have exactly the same feelings as I do at this time every year; I have plans, ideas and hopes for the year ahead which I may – or may not – achieve, but the hope and the optimism are very real.
So today, after this year like no other, but also, just as last year, I wish you and those you love, the very best for the year to come – Have a good one! Maxine x
This post could very easily be called ‘Racing past Christmas’ as I am certain many of us will be glad for it to come and then go, along with the rest of 2020!
However, I am an optimist and try, always, to find the good side of adversity where I can. It isn’t always easy, but looking for the good in bad times, is an exercise I recommend, whenever things are sad, tough or difficult – or all three at once, as this year has been for so many.
If there has been one positive for me through this year, it has been Friendship. I have been supported by (and I hope, I have supported in return) wonderful friends and family through this difficult year. I would have gone under without them, and thank all of them for kindness, understanding and encouragement in this (and all) years.
The image I have chosen to mark this Christmas came about because of a friendship. The friend is another artist, Derek Brittan, who lives and works nearby. Derek, like many of us has had serious and ongoing challenges to face this year, but nonetheless, his enquiring and creative mind still turns to new ideas and making art.
Derek is known for his colourful abstracts, which he makes in various media, from acrylic to plaster, rope, metals – even dishcloths! All materials can become art in his hands.
In normal times, we meet regularly at his home and studio to drink coffee and discuss whatever we’re presently working on, swap ideas and advice – all the things friends do. This year, of course, has been different, but we keep in touch on the phone and encourage each other where we can.
In one conversation, Derek asked me if I had planned a Christmas card? I hadn’t…Derek had an idea… ‘I have an image’, he said, ‘and I can see your cyclists riding through it’. With the help of his son Nick, and his skills as a graphic designer, we combined two images digitally, so my cyclists were riding through his landscape and ‘Racing to Christmas’ was made.
Amongst so much, our friends bring new thoughts, challenge us to try something we wouldn’t have thought of, cry with us when we weep and laugh with us when we laugh. Without them, we would be incomplete.
This year, Christmas will be different for everyone, and many of us will not be with our family and our friends as usual but nothing can diminish the bonds between us – and I feel, that adversity makes these bonds even stronger. People rise to challenges and pull together to get each other through.
We have seen so much evidence of this throughout 2020, all the years before and we know, yet to come.
Friendship is more infectious than any disease and its ‘R’ number very, very much higher than 1!
There are many pictures I should be sharing with you just now, all sports inspired, but every now and then a picture comes to me almost by accident – they don’t ‘fit’ with the sports work that I usually make but they do ‘fit’ together -since mostly these oddities are made under the same circumstances – in the early hours before it’s quite light – or even in the dark – and I make them because I have woken early and can’t get back off to sleep.
I work as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb everyone else, and use the daylight table light, which bends and stretches to light exactly what needs to be lit and nothing else – I make a picture or two, half asleep almost, leave whatever I have made to dry and go back to bed – usually to sleep fine after that. Making art is a great cure for my occasional sleeplessness, I have to say.
So, it happened last night, (this morning) and I found a piece that I had started and left, not knowing what to do with it. I put on the daylight lamp and only had a few things to hand, a lovely ink made by Diamine called ‘onyx black’, a couple of Derwent Graphitint pencils, ‘Dark indigo’ and ‘Meadow’ a couple of pastels of mixed origin, probably Schmincke and Sennelier, grey and white and some System 3 white acrylic.
These photos give you an idea but it’s a bit tidier now than at the time – I was half asleep and no camera!
What emerged from my marks and spatters were the trees and hedge at the end of our garden – I look at this view a great deal and the hedgerow is a haven to wildlife, especially pheasants.
Normally, our regular visitors are two males, who we call Philip and Phineas – occasionally there is a third, Felix – (Phelix??) and sometimes one or two females – but lately, there have been lots of them, – (a nye?) – of at least 12 , in the garden finding food to eat – and they are lovely to watch.
The marks that came reminded me of the trees and hedgerow where they come in. I reckon the next step is to draw them during the daytime when we are all awake together!
So here, from my reverie, is this night time piece, from memory really, showing where the pheasants live…
Today’s drawings are from the England vs Pakistan Test at Old Trafford. These are the ‘warm up’ drawings which are little more than scribbles but I made them on the tablet for a change.
I am still learning how to use the electronic pen. I have found that holding the pen on its side works better, but still a long way off, but as always, it’s great to try and learn something new.
A tool I have discovered is the video record, which traces each step in the drawing. Most of the time I draw automatically, so it’s fascinating to replay and see how the lines build up and the sketch emerges.
The eagle-eyed among you might just spot Stuart Broad’s bandana, probably not much more! Have a great weekend 🙂
Drawing August, celebrating all things drawing. It’s an online event to celebrate and encourage drawing. Simply post a drawing every day throughout the month using the hashtag #DrawingAugust.
Second drawing for this year’s Drawing August online event. This is pastel on Ingres paper. I used Schmincke and Sennelier here; the pigments are so strong and vibrant, they are always exciting to use.
Pastel is possibly the purest form of painting – we work with pure pigment and little else!
Soft (chalk) pastels were the first medium that hooked me into art properly. I made a picture when I was at school using pastel on black paper. It was a revelation, the colours and contrast were something wonderful and that was it, I was off on my journey. Lovely memories!
Now that lockdown measures are being eased, there is hope of a return to surgical operations recently cancelled due to the intense need of hospital resources and staff covering the pandemic.
My image shows an operation taken from a recent BBC News item. This is the source image, photographed from the TV.
As ever, I was so struck by the intense atmosphere and also the characters revealed by what is the smallest glimpse of their features.
The other striking element for me is the light we can see here. I can’t help myself, I see the light found in paintings by Caravaggio and Rembrandt, the intensity of colour and feeling, resonates from hundreds of years ago to the present day.
See the features on the faces to the top right in this painting by Caravaggio; only the top of the heads are in light, showing eyes and noses, just as the masks do with the surgeons.
Here are my efforts in oil pastel, ink and water colour, a long way off the beauty of the photo and certainly the painting! Maybe the photo says it best here? I will let you decide.
The initiative to clap for carers officially came to a close last week – so I wanted to offer a gesture of support to everyone providing continued, dedicated service by publishing a picture on Thursdays at 8pm, the time we all came out to clap.
This image is a study drawing, made in oil pastel and ink, of doctors and nurses entering resus through the entrance doors, with printed signs – ‘Resus is a high level PPE area’.
All the issues around PPE in the UK brought to mind in a simple phrase.
With thanks to all who work on the frontline. Keep well 🌈
At the start of the Lockdown, the BBC were allowed to film the staff and patients at the Royal Free Hospital in London, a huge hospital that specialises in contagious diseases. The resulting footage was made into two special programmes called, ‘Hospital’ which were broadcast on Monday and Tuesday – Week 8 of Lockdown. The drawings and paintings shown here are based on images from these films.
This trio of images were from the first programme where the healthcare nurses were able to film in the ICU, wearing chest cameras. This particular scene took place with the words of the staff explaining how difficult it was to work whilst wearing the essential PPE.
The basic complaint was the overpowering heat. How impossible it was even to take a drink whilst wearing their kit.
Staff were hot, and stressed.
These words are on first sketch. The second sketch shows figures only, just trying to get them right.
The final piece, essentially a full painting with watercolour, ink and gouache, shows the ward’s water dispenser in the distance – literally and metaphorically a long way off.
These drawings and paintings are my inadequate but heartfelt tribute to all healthcare workers and carers, for the NHS and care homes.
It’s been a while… but I’m getting ready. I recently came across these photos of two drawings I made in our garden…I am not quite sure where they are in my studio so it’s time for a little Spring cleaning, followed by some gardening and definitely pastel drawing outside… Have a lovely weekend! 🙂
In January, there is nothing better than reminders of sunny days. Looking through some of my pictures made in Mallorca brings back good memories and inspiration for the year ahead…can’t wait! Wishing you sunshine inspiration too…
It’s coming up to the anniversary of my blog ‘Racing Lines’ – My first post was made on 7th July 2012… Just text and no images to try WordPress and see what I could do.
In seven years, the blog has taken me to lots of places and I’ve met some lovely people and made friends – It’s been a great adventure – just with my pens, watercolours and pastels – and my laptop.
Today, I discovered that the number of people following ‘Racing Lines’ has risen to 3,000, which I find quite incredible. WordPress tells me that there have been 1,578 comments. I can say that each and every one of them is positive, enthusiastic and encouraging.
So this is a little post to thank all of you who have followed, commented and liked the posts and pictures you have found on ‘Racing Lines’.
Here is just a small selection from the past seven years, which I hope you enjoy. 🙂
Breakaway with the Sunflowers
Fans by the wayside
A sharp turn…
Flags and caravans
Riding into a sunny town
Six Nations – England vs Wales, Pushing on
Omega Pharma Quickstep
Blues, reds and Yellow!
Breezy day in Bridlington! £250
Garmin Sharp, £350
Welcome the Tour!
A quick glance!
Almond times – Mallorca
Diving for the line! Tour of Britain, Stage 1
Second for Sagan; First for Van Avermaet
Blue sky through the trees
View to the mountain
Bradley Wiggins at the start
What a magnificent header!
Harry Kane set about taking the net apart!
A sea of red – Bale for Wales, (£150 Framed)
Yellow fields of Whitby
Pas de deux, Stage 4
Wout Poels climbs Haytor
Stormy descent in blue and red
Vardy and King – what a goal!
Coming into Whitby
Italy v Wales (2017) Crunch time! Getting stuck in!
The autumn is coming to a close – in parts of the UK, the winter has begun even… Here in Leicestershire, it’s all gone a bit dark and gloomy, damp and murky… So to cheer up a bit, here’s a reminder of the Tour de France, and one of my favourite subjects, a lovely long peloton following a lovely winding road – all sunshine, trees and peace, what could be better?
Have a good weekend, and if you have sunshine and your bike, go out enjoy them while you can! 🙂
Click on the image to see full details and to buy 🙂