Project Photo Gallery: Seaweed Rocky Shore Paintings

From watercolour to ink to acrylics to oil pastels to beet juice, there’s a lot of variation in the paintings done in response to June’s painting project. Enjoy!

By Bayberry: I used ink and acrylic.
From Marion: I get a sense from the result that you enjoyed painting this, it has a vibrancy and energy to it.
Join the discussion on Patreon…
By Eddie: This is my take on the June challenge after doing the tweaks Marion suggested, which included extending the area of red seaweed, losing some straight edges and enlivening a rather flat sea. The texture is what I wanted to show and it involved multiple layers of acrylic, gesso and gloss medium with a final layer of oil pastel.

From Marion: There’s such a tangible sense of texture in the photo, and in real life I imagine it’d be hard to resist running my hand over the surface.
Join the discussion on Patreon…
By Gail: It is done all in ink with a little acrylic white for highlights. I added the cat to give it a focal point and thought a cat wouldn’t be too nbelievable on a beach. Really enjoyed doing this project in ink, I don’t do very many art projects with mostly ink and think the result looks okay. This is my home-made alcohol ink made from dried out markers and ink pen.

From Marion: Having had a cat sit on my lap at Talisker Bay beach, I have no trouble believing it! I’ve enjoyed looking at the layers of mark making, the ink energetically pulling my eye around whilst adding a sense of texture of the different elements (rock, water, seaweed) and the gentle colour enhancing it (love that you included the pop of pink on that one rock!).
By Barbara R: Mainly Colourcraft Brusho and acrylic inks.
From Marion: The tide’s come in!
By Erika: “Connections”.
Materials used: acrylic on canvas, Island moss, beet juice, kale greens and juice, money plant petals, dried balsam root leaves cut-outs from magazines and lots of acrylic paste and medium. The critic in me says: done too quickly (3 days), not well thought out, too much alike “Talisker Bay” paintings but overall interesting exploring new materials and checking out the colour “fast-ness” of natural juices.

From Marion: The time taken to make a painting is not a measure of the quality of a painting, it’s only a measure of time. Some paintings happen quickly, others don’t; the ones that take longer aren’t inherently better. I think it’s different to your Talisker Bay paintings and stands by itself, but also sits comfortably alongside them.
By Cathi: Ink and watercolour. I Loved this pic when it came in. I saw total abstracts. Lines predominated. Quilt designs were there too. Then the lights went out and motivation left me… This is kind of what I was imagining. love the half-submerged crocodile rock!

From Marion: I love the strong graphic nature of this, that’s taken it into abstract yet when my eye hits the boulder the shapes shift into seashore. And that’s definitely a crocodile!
By Claire: My June painting in watercolour, which has developed a mysterious blue base I can’t remove!

From Marion: I like the strong colour, that you were bold with this, because this is how it was in real life. It’s got that sense of almost-too-intense and vibrant colour that seaweed so often has.
Join the discussion on Patreon
By Claire: After the half term invasion, I tried again in acrylics with a little bit of moulding paste. With a bit more time, I even dared to put in some pebbles with acrylic pen.

From Marion: I feel this builds on what you did in your first painting. You’ve got the intensity of colour, but it’s more broken up and not so linear. The texture paste has helped to give depth but also variation in colour as it has helped break up brushmarks.
Join the discussion on Patreon…
By Barbara: Acrylic on canvas.
From Marion: If it were mine, I’d keep working on it. Think of it as a colourfield abstract (think: Mark Rothko) of pattern and colour, rather than having a focal point. There wants to be variation, not every area with the same size or level of mark making but simultaneously having every area reward close looking.
Join the discussion on this painting…
By Bee: Ink, acrylic and oil pastels

From Marion: This painting is far livelier and colourful, and feels as if you enjoyed it more. I wonder if it’s bigger than the previous, giving you more space to make the marks? I like that you haven’t tidied up the drips, and that they go multiple directions, giving a sense of movement and water.
Join the discussion…
By Bee: Watercolour and pen, I think this works best, I think the trouble with this project was the lack of obvious focal point.

From Marion: I’d agree that this is the most successful of the three, taken to another level with the pen mark making on top of the layers of colour. The combination of hard edges and soft edges, more saturated colour against the more muted.
Join the discussion…

Remember, it’s never too late to do a project, they’re not limited to only that month and can be done at any stage as fits your time. Your paintings will simply be included in the next photo gallery.

From Shrl: When I saw your photo of the sheep at the crossing and the sign behind it, it reminded me of a similar painting I did a few years ago of a sheep at the side of the road and a sign behind it as well on which I wrote “3 miles to baa”. I didn’t use much artistic license other than making sky color different as well as foreground colors as well.

From Marion: I can’t help myself, I think the title for this has to be “Why did the sheep cross the road?” The touch of sunset colour (or maybe sunrise?) is echoes in the foreground colours, and adds to the tranquility of the scene.
March 19 Painting Project
By Claire: “My first go in acrylic with a few touches of oil pastel. I don’t know what happened with my improvised trees, must practise! I liked the light coming through to the path. But the whole thing is so dark and gothic, I gave up on the gorse as it looked unbalanced.”

From Marion: To the left of where I took the reference photo the path goes down into a shadowy gully, so your painting feels to me as if you were facing in that direction rather than the gorse hillside. I would take the darks further, adding deep purples and blues, perhaps also lighten the gorse to emphasise the darks.
May19 Painting Project
By Claire: “Here is my second attempt in watercolour. I found it difficult , with several features and no clear focal point. I deliberately downplayed the winter trees this time and tried to imagine a walk in early spring and coming across the patch of sunny gorse.”

Several people have commented on the lack of a focal point in my choice of painting project photos, which has made me realise how much my compositional choices are biased towards pattern and colour. It’s made me question and ponder, learn something about my own painting, and it may well develop into a workshop exercise..

Four paintings of seaweed rocky shore by artist Marion Boddy-Evans
My four versions of June’s project.

July’s Painting Project: The Instructions

Beach Huts at Findhorn Beach

On the beach at Findhorn (east of Inverness), there’s a colourful row of beach huts sitting atop the dunes. When I was there, the sun was shining but rain clouds were blowing in from the west, creating a dramatic sky.

The photo I’ve chosen for July’s painting project has a definite focal point (for everyone who missed having one in June’s project!), plus the compositional challenge of strong diagonals on the foreground pulling the eye into the distance but then using the clouds to lead the eye back up and out.

Beach Huts at Findhorn Beach
Beach Huts at Findhorn Beach

In terms of perspective, draw lines towards a vanishing point on the horizon for the top (apex of the roof) and bottom (lower edge of the back wall) of the row of beach huts. Spend a bit of time getting it figured out in your head, then recheck it later. Trust yourself rather than colouring-in your drawing.

Look at how much of the back wall of the huts you see, how you see less of each as they get further away. Also the width of the huts, and the angle of the ridge of the roof compared to the horizon of the sea. Notice also that the side wall is darker in tone than the back, and that it’s only the nearest huts where we see cast shadows.

If you can’t face the perspective on the architecture, consider leaving some or all of the huts out. It’ll be quite a different painting, and for me the main decision would then be whether to make the sky most of the composition (three quarters than the not quite two thirds in the photo).

Here’s a photo I took when I’d walked past the beach hut. The figures give a sense of scale. I’m also looking down at them, there being a high bank of pebbles at this stretch of the beach. They’re very silhouetted, but watch out for making them cutouts; imagine some clothing and colourful darks.

People Walking on Findhorn Beach

The composition with the diagonal bands of colour in the foreground is anchored by the figures, giving the story of the scene continuing in both directions. Without the figures it becomes a painting about bands of colour and texture.

Here’s a close-up of the beautiful pebbles on this beach. A colourfield of pattern, shape and colour. Click on the photo to get the biggest version of it.

Pebbles at Findhorn Beach
Pebbles at Findhorn Beach

The pebbles could be fun to do with granulating watercolour, or texture medium. Also as a collage with different papers. Or watercolour with oil pastel. Or larger than life on a big canvas. I wouldn’t try to paint them all, because I’m not that patient, rather pick a section or use it as a jumpstart.

To my eye, it’s the dark shadows between and beneath them that give a sense of depth, rather than form shadow (changes in tone on a pebble). Probably enhanced by the memory of how flat and smooth most of the pebbles were here.

As always, medium, size and format are up to you. I look forward to seeing what this inspires. If you’ve done a painting in response to June’s project, or any earlier one (see list of painting projects), do email me a photo to put in the photo gallery so we can all enjoy it. Happy painting!

Photo Gallery: May’s Painting Project (Yellow Gorse Tree)

I’ve found it very interesting to see the choices of tree vs landscape, silhouette vs colour, focal point vs pattern, in May’s project paintings. Thank you to everyone who’s shared their paintings for us to enjoy.

Painting project photo gallery
By Bee: “Acrylic ink and acrylic paint, I don’t know whether to go any further. Looking at it again I’ve seen a waterfall that i didn’t know I’d put in!”
From Marion: I wouldn’t! It has a beautiful delicacy to it that could so easily be overworked. I think the balance of suggestion and detail is perfect.
Painting Project painting by Sarah
By Sarah: “Thoroughly enjoyed this project thanks. I’m learning so much.”
By Sarah: It’s the last day of the month and I haven’t got back to putting the next layer on this, my second go at it using ink then watercolour. Will hopefully get back to it.
From Marion: Even if you never add more colour to this, the different compositional choices to the first make it worth having done.
By Eddie: “Here is my interpretation of the May project photo after doing the changes suggested by Marion. I have used layers of thin and thick acrylic paint and acrylic ink. I like the way the sinuous lines of the branches sweep across the scene.”
By Eddie: “I used antelope brown acrylic ink with a Chinese brush and a couple of Shiraz riggers with some palette knife scraping. Regardless of the result it was a lot of fun.”
Painting project gorse with tree
By Bayberry: “Here’s mine in ink and watercolor. I never have much luck with trees, although I love them so.”
From Marion: I suspect trees are on of those subjects we underestimate how long it should take us because we think of it as one thing. If we rather start thinking “one trunk, dozen main branches, roots, etc.” and granting ourselves permission to spend equal time on each of these, it adds up.
By Gail
From Marion: My first reaction was that there was no yellow of the gorse, and my second was that the season has shifted to late summer when the landscape is dominated by deep blue-greens. The sense of light on part of the hill and shadow/soft light on the rest is beautiful.
By Cathi: “I have not spent enough time on this, but sometimes that is a good thing! I do like the way my tree and mossy wall come together. Continuous line drawing came into play too.”
From Marion: I like the interplay between line and colour. Initially I wanted there to be line in the ‘negative space’ in the bottom right corner, but after looking at it a bit I think what I would do is crop a sliver off the bottom and left so the lines go up to the edge.
By Barbara B: “my attempt at tree with gorse, in acrylics on canvas type paper meant for oils. I found the composition the biggest challenge with this one, trying to find a focal point that worked for me.”
From Marion: For me it’s a composition I’d approach as a colourfield, a painting more about pattern and colour than a focal point, because there are so many elements striving for attention whilst interacting with on another.
By Erika: “How a tree became a fish. For me, this was a very tough one. Didn’t really like my first try, study I (above). Was happier with study II (below), until it became fish.”
From Marion: I would never have got to fish myself from this reference photo, and throughly enjoyed seeing your journey, how the ‘netting’ in the first attempt takes over as the inspiration point and where it leads.

 

See Also:

My Paintings of June’s Project Photo

I did six paintings using the photo I chose for June’s Painting project as the starting point. Two were dire and I’m not going to show you those. One was in watercolour, the other in acrylic. The former I gave up on as it got too dark and I didn’t feel like making it a mixed media piece because I was trying to do ‘pure’ watercolour; the latter I even tore up the next day, which I rarely do.

Here are the other four. The top two are mixed media on paper (acrylic and oil pastel) and were done first, followed by the watercolour bottom left (I hadn’t taped the edges) and the acrylic on canvas bottom right. (I’ve created a step-by-step video of photos taken as I painted the first two for project subscribers.)

The latter is my favourite, and feels like persistence rewarded. If you’re thinking it’s more realistic than many of my paintings, it’s simply because I was in the mood for a bit of painterly realism.

Four paintings of seaweed rocky shore by artist Marion Boddy-Evans

June’s Painting Project: The Instructions (Seaweed Rock Shore)

Seaweed covered rocky shore painting project inspiration photo

This month’s project photo is of a section of rocky shore dominated by a big rock and seaweek, presenting an array of colours and textures. I took the photo at Staffin, on the eastern side of the Trotternish Peninsula on Skye, when I was doing some on-location drawing (see photos).

I think the photo offers interesting possibilities for composition, starting with the decision of whether to include the big rock or not, and whether to include any of the sea and breaking waves at the top or not. There’s a strong diagonal in the photo, and where this intersects with the edge is crucial — I’d avoid it being right in the corner because it’ll feel improbable. In terms of colour, I think it lends itself to exploring mixing an orange and blue, the range of browns to greys this produces.

You might use modelling paste or collage to help convey a sense of the different textures of the rocks, water, and seaweed. Perhaps salt or string in still-wet paint. In watercolour, consider granulating colours. Think about how you might convey a sense of the various textures in a painterly way, letting your materials and mark making do the work.

The photo could be the starting point for something completely abstract, a painting that’s about colours and/or textures without strongly stating “sea shore”. What about a mixed media collage using paper, fabric, and paint?

As always, medium, size and format are up to you. Happy painting! I look forward to seeing what this inspires.

If you’ve done a painting in response to May’s project, or any earlier one (see list of painting projects), do email me a photo to put in the photo gallery so we can all enjoy it.

April’s Project Photo Gallery (Paint Tube Still Life)

April painting project

An interesting mix of paintings in response to April’s project, and thank you to everyone who’s shared theirs. I was a bit worried I’d put you off by setting a still life, and I do empathise with those of you who’re ambivalent about still life paintings. I often am too, but started loving them more when I met the still lifes of Giorgio Morandi, the way he plays with pattern and shape amongst the objects (such as this painting) his mastery of hatching (see example) creating form. Now still-life painting is a way to completely change pace when I need it. Enjoy the photos!

April painting project
By Bee: ” My attempt at paint tubes.”

From Marion: “I like the juxtaposition between the three tubes in an almost-neat row and the tube of yellow; for me it’s that moment when using tubes overrides the desire to have an organized painting space.” Join the discussion…
April painting project
By Bayberry: “My small effort for the paint tubes.”

From Marion: “I like the contrast between the expressive splashed colour and the controlled line, the sense of a tube containing and restraining colourful expression.” Join the discussion…
April painting project
By Claire: “I struggled most with the background and the lettering. Perhaps if I let the tubes dry properly and used a black pen instead of a barbecue stick and drying paint, perhaps if I took more time, perhaps…”

From Marion: I like the subtleness to the composition, the way the tubes at first glance seem like three in a row but then you notice one is the other way up to the other two, and one has the cap off. Join the discussion…
April painting project
By Eddie: “I struggled a bit with this and spent ages doing thumbnails exploring the various possible compositions. I found the shadows difficult in pencil and almost impossible in paint. I thought I would just go for it to avoid endless vacillation and hope the bold colours distract from the poor painting of the tube. I rarely do still life because I don’t have the patience for the subtle variation in colour, tone and shading required for a realistic depiction. I have tried to do this project in one shot and largely avoided over-thinking it.”

From Marion: I like the flow of the composition, and the contrast of the b&w to colour. Join the discussion…
April painting project
By Lesley: “This one was another challenge as the more I looked, the more errors jumped out in my drawing with all the folds of the tube so there was much correcting as I went along. Time ran away with me this month and no painting, instead a quick pastel pencil drawing (using the wrong kind of paper) then a go at my first digital drawing [see below]. It was good fun learning how to use the drawing app as I went along and I like how it ended up. Not quite as satisfying as real paint, though.”

From Marion: If you hadn’t said it was a digital painting I probably wouldn’t have guessed, though it does explain the even-ness to the drybrush mark making which is harder to achieve when you’re having to reload a brush with paint. I’ve found that with digital I end up missing the tactile quality of paint, but it does save having to wash brushes!
April painting project
By Lesley. digital painting
April painting project
By Erika: “Suckling Piglets”. I couldn’t resist – this was too much fun even though it was cheating on the task of the project! “

From Marion: I wouldn’t call it cheating, it’s thinking out of the box to create a piece of assemblage art.
By Cathi: “What fun I have had this month! I specifically did not look at your work until I had finished mine, I did not want to be influenced!! Having said that I love Joshua Starcher’s work. The design aspect led me to my first two flamboyant efforts.”

From Marion: I love your “flamboyant tubes”, and found myself imagining what the colours would be called, e.g. “Paisley” and “Raindrops”.
By Cathi
April painting project
By Cathi: “I then had a go on a little 8” square board, trying to capture the essence of a used tube….”

From Marion: The mark making of the background conveys a sense of flattening the tub to get every last bit of paint out.
April painting project
By Cathi: “Then I thought “who needs mountains to use texture paste and runny paint! This tube is actually formed with texture paste, details added and then the overcoat added. I love this one, I keep coming back to look at it! I like the way the shadow really lifts the tube off the surface.”

From Marion: I imagine that in real life it’d be hard not to touch the tube!
April painting project
By Cathi: “Finally, I was reminded of your sheep collage painting you were working on. I photographed all the information found on the tubes and used them for the collage background. The tube and lid are painted but the paint is texture paste!

From Marion: This would also be very hard not to touch! It feels as if I could put a finger against the tube and squeeze some more out.
April painting project
By Gail: “April was a very hectic month for me so I am sending a painting I did in 2018 that features not only paint tubes but other artist accoutrements. I didn’t have any metal paint tubes to use as a reference in my studio since just about all my paint either comes in tubs or plastic tubes. Hope this will be suitable and I am looking forward to May’s painting project.”

From Marion: It counts because the project made you think about it! Hope May is less hectic for you.

 

May’s Painting Project: The Instructions

Gorse adds a splash of colour before the greens return to the Skye landscape and continues flowering for weeks. Walking along a familiar path recently (more photos) I suddenly noticed this tree and the strip of stone wall, with the yellows across the hillside behind. There was something about the light at that moment that made my fingers itch to paint it, and so it’s the challenge for May.

Painting Project Gorse and Tree
Painting Project Gorse and Tree

For me the interesting things to explore are:
1. All those warm and cool greens: blue-greens of the grass and yellow-greens of the moss. An excuse to pull out all your blues and yellows to spend time colour mixing, and to also explore adding yellow and blue to tube greens.

2. The deep darks in the shadows: how dark can you make it with still having a suggestion of what’s going on. What colours to use, with perylene black feeling like an obvious choice as it makes also interesting greens when mixed with yellow. Alternatively, how colourful can you make this “dark”, or how purple (taking inspiration from the Impressionists).

3. How far across will the tree extend, which will partly be determined by shape of the composition, whether it’s square, portrait or landscape.

4. Compositional choices of things to leave out. The telephone pole seems a definite to me, but what about the fence behind it?

Medium, size and format are up to you. Have fun! I look forward to seeing what this inspires.

My first attempt I did using acrylic ink, one yellow and Payne’s grey only, with the aim of having a light touch, using lots of negative space. Working flat so the ink wouldn’t run.

Only when I stood up again did I notice I’d made the tree too upright and the bundle of small trunks into one solid one even though I had the reference right in front of me!

I’ll be posting my thumbnails for this project and the notes I made on my potential to Patreon for project subscribers, along with a video of when I added the ink tree to a background done in acrylics, my third attempt at this. Become a subscriber here…

These are not thumbnails…

Photo Gallery: Single-Track Road Project Paintings (March 2019)

Thanks to everyone who’s shared their painting (I’m a little disorganized this month trying to juggle too many things and hope I haven’t missed any!).

Seeiing how some people have struggled with this project’s reference photo, with the large area of landscape with relatively little in it, has made me realise that I  enjoyed the challenge of this because it lends itself to layering variations colour and brushmarks to create visual interest (which is what I’m currently enjoying). Other people have zoomed in on a section of the scene, a useful reminder to resist the urge to include everything we see.

Passing places painting project
By Cathy, in ink.
Passing places painting project
By Cathy: “After the inkI had a go with pastels using a new ‘powder and water’ technique we were shown at our art club demo evening…… great fun but not as flexible as acrylics.”
Passing places painting project
By Cathy: “In acrylic, I challenged myself to a) reverse the landscape as I thought it a better composition and b) do the entire painting without using a brush (palette knife and credit card only). This idea came to me after the sand sections I really liked my Talisker Bay project.”
By Claire: “Here is my effort for the March project, using acrylic. Such an inspiring subject but a big challenge for me. I ended up reworking the middle ground and now I have posted it I can see that I have messed up the sky.”
By Eddie: This is my submission for the March project after making the changes suggested by Marion. I think the hills sit back better and I toned down a rather acid green in the foreground. Another passing place sign was added in the mid-ground.
Passing places painting project submission by Eddie
By Eddie: “I enjoyed the pastel so much I thought I would do another version. This is in acrylic 50 x50cm.”
Monthly art project
By Barbara R: “I was recently introduced to your blog by someone in our walking group, and I thought I’d try doing the monthly projects. So here’s my first Passing Place attempt, watercolour and Inktense on watercolour paper, approx 30×24 cm.”

 

Monthly painting project
By Bayberry: “The updated painting minus the pine tree.”
Monthly painting project
By Barbara: “I decided I needed to be honest and post disasters as well as those I am happier with. The hills are to dark , probably the format is wrong , in fact there isn’t anything I like about it. One to cut up.”
Monthly painting project
By Gail: “. I painted an underpainting and then painted over that with a palette knife. I had a lot of fun with this project.”
Monthly painting project
By Lesley: ” I struggled a bit with this one and am still not sure I ended up with anything I’m entirely happy with. I started off with a quick pastel drawing to work out where I wanted to put things, but didn’t quite find enough tonal range from the limited pastel colours I had to hand.”
Monthly painting project
By Lesley: “I then moved on to acrylic, which I’m happier with than the pastel, but it’s lacking something, not entirely sure what. I might try another without looking at the photo references now that I know the scene a bit better. Maybe going mad with colour is the way to go?”
Monthly painting project
By Erika: “First try….what a dud. Boring. The inside art critic was very dissatisfied. More than the sheep inside the phone booth.”
Monthly painting project
By Erika: “Happier with this one””
By Marion: “My first painting for this project, Mixed media on A2 watercolour paper.”
Passing places painting by Marion Boddy-Evans
By Marion: “I challenged myself to do this in a portrait (vertical) format, adding another section of road. I’m suspect it it’s too busy overall and may glaze over areas to make the sheep and road stand out more. Acrylic on A2 watercolour paper.”
Passing places painting by Marion Boddy-Evans
By Marion: “I decided to focus on the sign and sheep only. The background wasn’t initially yellow, but I felt it needed brightening up so changed it to be a hillside covered in gorse. Acrylic on A2 watercolour paper”

 

Monthly art project
By Barbara R: “I was recently introduced to your blog by someone in our walking group, and I thought I’d try doing the monthly projects. So here’s my first Passing Place attempt, watercolour and Inktense on watercolour paper, approx 30×24 cm.”

 

Monthly painting project
By Bayberry: “The updated painting minus the pine tree.”
Monthly painting project
By Barbara: “I decided I needed to be honest and post disasters as well as those I am happier with. The hills are to dark , probably the format is wrong , in fact there isn’t anything I like about it. One to cut up.”
Monthly painting project
By Gail: “. I painted an underpainting and then painted over that with a palette knife. I had a lot of fun with this project.”
Monthly painting project
By Lesley: ” I struggled a bit with this one and am still not sure I ended up with anything I’m entirely happy with. I started off with a quick pastel drawing to work out where I wanted to put things, but didn’t quite find enough tonal range from the limited pastel colours I had to hand.”
Monthly painting project
By Lesley: “I then moved on to acrylic, which I’m happier with than the pastel, but it’s lacking something, not entirely sure what. I might try another without looking at the photo references now that I know the scene a bit better. Maybe going mad with colour is the way to go?”
Monthly painting project
By Erika: “First try….what a dud. Boring. The inside art critic was very dissatisfied. More than the sheep inside the phone booth.”
Monthly painting project
By Erika: “Happier with this one””
By Marion: “My first painting for this project, Mixed media on A2 watercolour paper.”
Passing places painting by Marion Boddy-Evans
By Marion: “I challenged myself to do this in a portrait (vertical) format, adding another section of road. I’m suspect it it’s too busy overall and may glaze over areas to make the sheep and road stand out more. Acrylic on A2 watercolour paper.”
Passing places painting by Marion Boddy-Evans
By Marion: “I decided to focus on the sign and sheep only. The background wasn’t initially yellow, but I felt it needed brightening up so changed it to be a hillside covered in gorse. Acrylic on A2 watercolour paper”

 

April’s Painting Project: The Instructions

Drawing paint tubes

This month we’re going to move from landscape to still life, to looking at something familiar and small, a tube of paint. It’s something we rarely pay much attention to, merely a container for the colour it contains. My thought is for this project to be about slowing down, seeing the familiar with fresh eyes, a reminder that we don’t need to be out chasing new experiences, there’s plenty right in front of us.

So dig out a tube of paint, and study it. Draw it, paint it, collage it, abstract it. Don’t spend too long deciding which is the perfect tube to use, they’re all good. How you juggle the realism/painterly/abstraction balance is up to you. The medium is up to you.

Start with one, explore the possibilities of a composition with a single element. Is the tube flat or rolled up, viewed from the top or side, cap on or off? How about a foreshortened view from the cap end? How many compositional choices do you have with a single tube?

For inspiration: Abstracted and more graphic approach to paint tubes, take a look at the paint-tube paintings by Joshua Starcher (a random find, his website doesn’t give any info about him) and the paint tube paintings by Duane Keiser (the original painting-a-day artist, whose painterly realism I greatly admire).

For intrigue: When I was in Edinburgh a couple of weekends ago, I came across paintings by Donald Provan which are done on paint tube he’s opened and flattened, like this.

My paint-tube painting: For me the aim was to have a painterly painting, something that’s used paint to convey a sense of the subject, with parts that are detailed and parts that are suggestive. I wanted some evidence of the “hand of the artist”, some poetry not an academic treatise.

Painting of a paint tube by Marion Boddy-Evans

The photo above illustrates what my thinking. The small painted lettering isn’t readable, it’s squiggled lines not letters, but your eye wants to make it into words. You can see the brushmarks of paint on the tube, the edges aren’t blended out to make soft transitions in colour/tone. (Project subscribers will get to see step-by-step photos of this painting, and the one before it, on my Patreon.)

I chose this particular tube of paint because I wanted the challenge of the silvers of the metal tube. Silvers are but shades of grey. Though iridescent paint colours we have available to us work beautifully to add the glimmer of light catching on silver, resist these initially and focus on tone. Think three intially — dark, light, and medium. Black, white, and mixed.

The painting above wasn’t my starting point, though, I began with pencil drawings, then added watercolour to a pencil drawing, then got out the acrylics, then there were a couple before the one on the yellow which pleased me.

Drawing paint tubes

Initially I was drawing small than actual size, but then realised it would be easier if I did it the same size as the tube of paint. Remembering that the photos show a viewpoint from above, not what I’m seeing as I’m sat drawing.

Remember to send in your photos for March’s painting project (and previous months). I’m away teaching a workshop at Higham Hall, so the photo gallery won’t appear until the second week in April.

Monsieur P and the BIg Paint Tube

March 2019 Painting Project: Instructions

Reference photo for March 2019 painting prohect

This month I’ve selected a photo that offers the option of going wide with a broad landscape view or zooming in on a detail. Plus an extra photo with some other elements you might add into your painting, or all if you prefer it. There is one requirement for this month — your painting must include a passing places sign, however small. The road in this photos is single-track, and where you get such roads, there you find passing places signs. The older signs have a diamond shape, which is easy to identify at a distance; the newer signs are boringly square.

Here’s the wide view, with mountains disappearing into the distance, a road to lead your eye into the middle distance, and a couple of sheep alongside a passing places sign to give a focal point.

Reference photo for March 2019 painting prohect

I would edit out the electricity poles and wires, and the raindrops on the camera lens. The grass in the foreground is quite blue to my eye (blue-green rather than yellow-green) and with the aerial perspective (that distant things get lighter in tone and bluer in colour the further away they are) it could be interesting to paint this with a warmer blue-green in the foreground and cooler, paler blues in the distance. (Have a look at Michael Chelsea Johnson’s paintings for this warm/cool near/far colour shift, he does it beautifully.)

Alternately, exaggerate and emphasise colours, be playful and emotional. Turn a hint of something into a rich version of that colour. For instance the browns in the tufts to sienna-golds, the grass greens to sunlit yellows. What about starting with brighter-than-you-think colour and subdue it with subsequent layers, rather than mixing restrained colours.

Another option would be to focus on a smaller section of the painting. What catches your attention or interest? Might you change these sheep into ones with horns inspired from February’s project?

Reference photo for March 2019 painting prohect

How about adding some other elements into your composition? This photo was taken further down the same road, giving you a passing place sign, post box, red phone box, wheelie bin, gate, and a croft house (plus multiple electricity poles and wires). You might prefer this stretch of road, curving around the corner.

Reference photo for March 2019 painting prohect

The video below (click here if you don’t see it) was taken while I was working on one of my paintings inspired by the photos I chose for March’s project. It’s about 20 minutes of real-time painting (I know this because of the playtime of the original video not because I keep track whilst I’m painting) sped up to two. A couple of things I noticed when watching it was how the board wobbles, something I’m not aware of when painting, and how I shifted the position of the brush in my fingers when I started using the rigger to do the letter, to how I would hold a pen for writing, with the control in my fingers rather than wrist.

I’ll post a photo gallery of February’s project paintings on Sunday, so do send me yours if you haven’t already. Also any from January. Happy painting!

My thanks to all the Project Patrons who help keep my blog advert free and enable me to spend the time on the monthly projects. Project Patrons get access to exclusive extra content on my Patreon page, as well as the option of a critique of their project paintings. It works like a monthly subscription, find out more here.