A few last photos from my recent painting workshop at Higham Hall, and my thanks to everyone — workshop participants and the team at Higham — for an inspiring week.
I’ll be doing another “Capturing Skye in Expressive Acrylics/Watercolours” workshop at Higham Hall next April, and possibly something in October/November 2018 too. Contact Higham Hall to ‘register an interest’ and you’ll be amongst the first to know the details.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard photographers bemoan grey days because grey is supposedly uninteresting. Grey days are beautiful in a different way, sometimes for the gentle gradations in tone, sometimes for narrowing the range of tones, and sometimes for strong contrasts between dark grey skies and sea.
When painting, grey doesn’t mean simply “black + white”. We’ve a bounty of “interesting greys” at our colour-mixing fingertips, which is one of the things we’ve investigated during this week’s workshop at Higham Hall.
We’ve also looked at using coloured grounds, such as orange beneath a seascape (which plays on the fact orange and blue are complementary colours):
And, of course, the joy of splattering paint around to add that final layer of energy to a painting:
The art studio at Higham Hall is off the courtyard at the back, a bright, quirky space that’s got an area for group work and lots of nooks for individual working.
The first full day of my “Capturing Skye” workshop started with an activity designed to put the focus on colour and shape, as building blocks for a layered painting. As always, it’s fascinating and inspiring to see what 10 people do from the same set of instructions, how our individual inclinations, preferences, hesitations influence us. And how it changes and develops when repeating the activity once you know what the elements of it are, rather than following an instruction without knowing where it’s leading. Great work, and inspiring pushing with the concept to develop it individually.
In the afternoon we explored ink and stick (aka “st-ink”) using a bamboo pen/brush that is cut to a nib on one end and has a brush at the other (buy here: affiliate link). I find black ink dramatic to work with, easily overdone and all too easy to drop a bit where you don’t want it. But it can be oh so beautiful and expressive.
My new long-handle big brush was also inaugurated, used to add drama to a sky in a few big sweeps across the top of a painting.
It was one of those perfect sunny days when I arrived at Higham Hall on Sunday: bright blue sky, crisp light, and greens upon greens in every direction, often even overhead as lanes twist and turn beneath trees. Wandering through the beautiful gardens was filled with patterns of light and dark and colour, reflections in the pond that make me feel like I’m channelling Monet, and punctuated by a vibrant splash of brightness that will bring joy to any colourist’s heart.
I’ve been to Higham before as a student, in 2011 and 2012, doing life drawing and then pastel/acrylics landscapes with the inimitable Patrick Oates. If was from the latter workshop that my tree paintings started to develop. It’s a delight, and also nerve-racking, to be back again this time as a tutor, with 10 students. Happily, as I’m writing this on my second morning here, I can report that the first day’s teaching was a joy. Photos will follow.
Now it’s on the upcoming courses list (and thus all official) I’m excited to be able to announce that at the end of next May I’m going to be doing a workshop at Higham Hall in the Lake District titled “Capturing Skye: Vibrant & Atmospheric Acrylics & Watercolour”. So if you like the idea of painting expressive landscapes and seascapes but Skye’s a bit too far north for you to travel, how about heading to near Cockermouth?