This Week: Expressive Painting Workshop at Higham Hall, and Getting There

A few moments from my week.

I undertook my longest journey in my e-van since I bought it in the summer, to the Lake District for my workshop at Higham Hall; it’s about 300 miles. This recharge point not far off the motorway in a village had gorgeous autumnal colours. So much calmer than a motorway service station.

I had fun kicking through the autumn leaves and taking photos of the colours. The black rectangle is the top of a rubbish bin, with the sky and a tree reflected in it.

Being at Higham Hall to lead another “Expressive Scotland Mixed Media” workshop is as enjoyable as ever. The new door from the hall to the courtyard means there’s now step-free access to the studio. All sorts of beautiful paintings being developed by participants, and the copy of Henry Moore’s sheep sketchbook in the studio library being passed around with the consensus that his proportions are a bit dubious in places.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, “The Librarian”, c1566

I discovered that the veggies and fruit portraits artist had done one with books called “The Librarian”, and I think it’s as clever and amusing as his paintings I am familiar with. It was one of this week’s images on the Pictdle daily art puzzle.

Photos: My “Expressive Skye” Painting Workshop at Higham Hall

Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans

My thanks to all participants in my workshop at Higham Hall for your enthusiasm and to everyone at Higham for all you do to make it happen in such a special venue. I thoroughly enjoyed the week, and look forward to next time.

The week started and ended with blue sky, with beautiful sunrises, hail, storm winds, and snow inbetween. Felt just like Skye!

Higham Hall in the Sunshine
Higham Hall sunrise
Sunrise, taken in front of the hall.
Higham hall in the snow
Standing in about the same spot as where I took the photo above, looking in the opposite direction, on the morning it had snowed.
Higham Hall in the snow
The bedrooms at Higham are on the second floor of the building.
The studio (left) is in the old stables at the back that form a courtyard with the three wings of the hall.

It’s up to tutors to decide how to use the space. I like to set the studio up with an area with tables where we work together as a group on specific activities I set, and then use the three alcoves as areas where people work alone if they wish. All those hours playing Tetris came in useful to fit in 10 of the high-adjustable tables so everyone could have one to themselves.

Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Spot the Creative Skye booklets!
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
From left to right: Acrylic on canvas board, pastel on dark blue pastel paper and watercolour, by B. Acrylic on paper by J. My acrylic on paper version, one of the example paintings I brought with me to the workshop.
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
A limited colour watercolour and ink interpretation of one of the photos in my photo reference books (buy online).
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Exploring working in layers, from loose and expressive to detail, with my photo of daisies as the starting-point.
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
One of the mornings is spent exploring colour mixing, creating “interesting greys”
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Painting using “interesting greys” inspired by my reference photo of seaweed and rocks at Camus Mor.
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Painting inspired by a reference photo of rapids in the river at Sligachan, using “interesting greys” and “strong, varied darks”. On A2 size watercolour paper.
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
Workshop at Higham Hall by Marion Boddy-Evans
My Thursday evening demo painting.
The demo painting before it rained and the sheep arrived.

For Nervous Workshop Participants

Higham Hall Workshop: Studio

As I look ahead to Sunday’s workshop at Higham Hall, I’m excited and nervous, wondering who’ll be on it, who I’ll be meeting and working with, travelling with on a painting journey for which I’m the guide, whether the last spots will be taken by a last-minute booking, whether anyone will be wearing perfume that makes me sneeze, and what breakthrough moments there might be and what surprises. It’s both a joy and an anxiety.

Thankfully the latter is relieved and the former enhanced by having some participants who’ve done workshops with me before, and I look forward to travelling together for a few days again. I’ve some new worksheets, so don’t think you know exactly what to expect! To those doing a workshop with me for the first time, I hope you’ll be reassured that there are other participants who’re coming for the second and third time, so I must be doing something right. It’s going to be a fun, rewarding week, with time for hard work and relaxation, plus all the delicious food that Higham puts in front of us, thinking about which is making me hope it’ll include Pavlova one evening again.

Suggested Reading:

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

Photos: Trees at Higham Hall

Being at Higham Hall in April for my workshop meant it was a bit early for most flowers (sorry daffodils, don’t meant to ignore you), but it did mean fewer distractions from beautiful trees like this:

There was a splash of non-daffodil yellow by the pond:

I won’t be sharing my spot-the-red-squirrel photo, but here’s something else I saw in the garden that’s much easierto photograph:

higham Hall Dickinson poem quote garden

My next workshops at Higham Hall are:
4 to 9 November 2018 and 31 March to 5 April 2019.
Contact Higham here…

Higham Hall Workshop: Capturing Skye #3

Higham Hall Class of May 2017 painting

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.

Higham Hall Class of May 2017 painting
Class of May 2017

Higham Hall Workshop: Studio
“The Circle of Creativity” aka tables in the main area of the studio.

Higham Hall Workshop: Studio Work

Higham Hall Workshop: Sunset painting
Colours that came out of us exploring “interesting greys”, which then proved perfect for a painting inspired by one of my sunset photos.

Higham Hall Workshop: Student Work on Orange Ground start
Painting on an coloured ground, and focusing on painting faster, not considering every single brush stroke too meticulously but trusting the process.

Higham Hall Workshop: Student Work on Orange Ground
The painting above, a bit later on Thursday.

Higham Hall Workshop: Gold paint
To any art groups out there with members who suddenly arrive with tubes of gold and bronze. Yes, it’s all my fault. Once you’ve got over the shock, you might ask to try a bit yourself.

Higham Hall Workshop: Detail from Painting
Tiny detail of a painting that “rewards close looking”.

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.

You can read feedback on this workshop on my Higham profile page here.

Higham Hall Workshop: Capturing Skye #2

Mixing interesting greys

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.

Mixing Interesting Greys

Mixing Interesting Greys

Mixing Interesting Greys

Mixing interesting greys

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):
WOrking on an orange ground

And, of course, the joy of splattering paint around to add that final layer of energy to a painting:
Just add a splash of paint

Higham Hall Workshop: Capturing Skye #1

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

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.

Higham Hall courtyard

Higham Hall view from studio into courtyard

Higham Hall Art Studio May 2017

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall May 2017

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.

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1 g

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

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. Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

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.

Expressive Skye at Higham Hall Day 1

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Anticipation in the Gardens at Higham Hall

Higham Hall art workshops with Marion Boddy-Evans

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.

Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall Garden May 2017 Higham Hall

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.