August 2020

We cannot access the parish hall again this month but we should be having our 4th Saturday session at the church on 22nd August. There are 5 Saturdays in August but we always meet on the 4th one. Watch out for more details nearer the time.

Steve, Patrick and Tracy met at the hall the other day with a couple of hall committee members to discuss when it will be opening again. With government guidelines as at the moment, the hall should be opening in September but with new rules about social distancing. We have come up with a new layout for tables and chairs and about how to keep apart during our sessions. Once details are finalised we will let you know, but if guidelines change again then we will have to rethink. Watch this space!

Here are some ideas to paint this month, if you’re struggling to think of subjects. Please send any paintings you do to me (Tracy) by email, WhatsApp, Messenger or text, on the mobile number I have emailed to you previously. Don’t forget to tell me the medium, paper used, the inspiration, how long it took etc.

If none of these ideas take your fancy, then paint something else and send it to me, we’d love to see what you’re painting at the mo. About 20 members haven’t been heard from since March, 5 months ago, what have you painted during lockdown?

Portrait Artist of the Month (PAOTM) – Grayson Perry/Claire

Many members watched Grayson Perry’s series of tv programmes during lockdown and thoroughly enjoyed them. Now is your chance to draw and/or paint Grayson Perry himself or his alter-ego Claire. You could also paint Grayson’s wife Philippa, who he had a great rapport with during the programmes, or his first love, his teddy bear Alan Measles, who means so much to Perry.

Lots of photos are online so show us what you can achieve. Any medium, any size, any interpretation, you have a whole month to create your picture, so you have plenty of time.


The official flower of August is the poppy, so paint a poppy or poppies in a vase, in fields, as the symbol of remembrance, in a hedgerow etc. There are so many ways to paint poppies in their various colours, so please get painting.


Even though most holidays aren’t going ahead, I’m sure you can paint a favourite beach that you have been to or one that you’d like to visit. Use any medium or used mixed media to include sand and shells to make your painting 3D.

PAOTM – Dame Vera Lynn

Only 5 members took up July’s challenge to draw or paint Dame Vera Lynn and all also took part in the weekly PAOTW on Sky. A portrait is obviously something that we feel confident to tackle now, from picking up lots of advice during the Sky programmes.

Come on everyone else, it only takes an hour to put pencil to paper to hone your portrait skills! Look out on 1st August for another PAOTM, a person that many of you have seen on tv recently and said you have loved their programme.

Dot painted with acrylic on textured paper. She drew and did the basic colour at Chalk on Saturday, then finished the facial features, medals and poppy another day, taking another hour.

Juliet used pencil, watercolours and pastels for her portrait. Using more that one medium has given her portrait a liveliness and sense of depth.

Steve used acrylic on hardboard and took about 5 hours to achieve a very good likeness in his portrait.

Angela D used pencil and then colouring pencils for her portrait of Dame Vera from her 100th birthday, taking about 3 hours.

Tracy found this stunning black and white portrait of Dame Vera, in the style of film stars from the 1940s. The plan was to used charcoal and pastel pencils to create a similar style, but after a recent art equipment sort out, she couldn’t find the box with pastels and charcoal in. Going for a polar opposite style of bright colours in a pop art-ish style, it took about an hour.

Chalk Church July 2020

For our first session in 4 months it was absolutely wonderful to welcome so many of you to paint ‘en plein air’ at Chalk Church. Twenty enthusiastic members came along and we were so pleased to see each other that quite a lot of chatter went on all day! The weather was a little drizzly at first but after huddling under brollies and trees for a little while it soon brightened up.

Thank you for bringing along your own snacks, drinks and water for your brush pots and then taking everything home again to clean. It meant that whilst a lot of us were there, we didn’t need to crowd together at the beginning and end of the session, we could keep apart.

You will see from the photos that we managed to spread ourselves all around the grounds near the pond and also under the covered area near the barn, keeping a safe distance from each other.

There was such a variety of paintings produced in a few hours, either new ones started or finishing current projects. Some painted or sketched the church and grounds in front of them and others worked from their own photos or references pictures . It was such a good day and if you haven’t painted at the church before it’s hoped that these photos might persuade you to join us next month.

Tracy’s cyanotypes

I created some cyanotype prints at an online workshop, run by Rachel at ‘I Printed That’, a studio in Rochester where she runs cyanotype, linocutting and screen printing workshops. As there are no actual face-to-face sessions at the moment, Rachel is hosting them online and I found it easy to log in and follow the 20 minute session. The next online cyanotype workshop is in August and you can buy the papers through her website at, where I paid £7.06 for 5 round sheets of paper.

Cyanotypes were first created in 1842 and are still popular today. Objects of your choice, but preferably quite flat, are placed on paper impregnated with chemicals. The objects are held down on the paper, in my case with a sheet of glass and some pegs, then exposed to UV light outside. I exposed the papers for 7 minutes in direct sunlight, but on cloudy days the exposure can take up to 30 minutes apparently.

After exposure I removed the objects and you could see the outlines. The paper was then washed in cold water to remove the chemicals and to fix the image. I was very pleased with the images I created, but the faeries were really fast and quite difficult to catch! ;o)

I had created 2 more images the evening before, using paper from a friend who bought the rectangular shaped cyanotype papers online. You can see where I accidentally moved some grass part way through the 10 minute exposure, leaving a much lighter shape. The final picture is an actual cyanotype created in 1853 and which featured in a photography magazine this month.

Peter’s paintings

Peter tends to paint landscapes but is going into new territory purely for practice. He has used pictures in art magazines as references and painted in acrylics, allocating about 4 hours per picture, painting a little each day.

That’s a really good idea, Peter, to paint something different to normal, as it gives you experience of tackling alternative compositions and subjects. Well done for challenging yourself.

July 2020

Here are some ideas to paint this month, if you’re struggling for subjects. Please send any paintings you do to me (Tracy) by email, WhatsApp, Messenger or text, on the mobile number I have emailed to you previously. Don’t forget to tell me the medium, paper used, the inspiration, how long it took etc.

If none of these ideas take your fancy, then paint something else and send it to me, we’d love to see what you’re painting at the mo. A lot of members haven’t been heard from since March, 4 months ago, what are you painting?

Portrait Artist of the Month (PAOTM)Dame Vera Lynn

If you’re missing the weekly Portrait Artist sessions then here’s an idea, but you can take longer that 4 hours! We’ve chosen someone you will all know and who was in the news on the 70th anniversary of VE Day in May and again last month, following her death at the amazing age of 103.

Dame Vera started her professional singing career at just 7 years old and performed throughout her long life. We won’t provide the same picture for everyone, you can source your own from the internet or from a newspaper, books etc. Any medium, any style, a quick sketch, a painting in colour or black and white, your choice. Send your pictures with info and at the end of the month they will be put on the blog together.

July flower – Delphinium

Paint them from your garden or paint anything that’s in flower at the moment.

July birthstone – Ruby

Paint rubies in jewellery, in Mughal paintings, in the Crown Jewels, in Russian Imperial Eggs, ruby-coloured cherries etc. Paint anything at all but in a monochrome ruby colour such as alizarin crimson.

Painting together in June

Several members joined in our session at the weekend and were very creative indeed, well done one and all!

The suggested ideas were Charles Dickens, roses and pearls, or anything at all you wanted to paint.

Doreen used an old copy of a local magazine for her reference picture of Charles Dickens. She drew his portrait, added a little colour on his eyes and lips and has achieved a good likeness.

Christine used watercolour and pen for her very detailed paintings. Firstly there is The Old Curiosity Shop and her second picture is of Joe Clayton Clarke, known as Joe from Bleak house.

Peter painted a portrait of Charles Dickens himself. The background texture of the linen weave adds an extra dimension to the picture.

Susan has beautifully painted two roses in her garden, from a choice of 21 rose bushes. The first is Jude the Obscure, an English Shrub rose. It is chalice shaped and has a very strong fruity fragrance, the loveliest scented rose there is.

This is Arthur Bell, a floribunda rose with a medium, sweet fragrance. Both in watercolour, with subtle colours and tiny details, they look so real you could lean forward to inhale the fragrance.

Denise has been making masks for family and friends so really enjoyed sitting down on Saturday and doing something for herself. She had a lovely day. Her detailed monochrome picture of a lily is done in ink. She used a Noodler’s pen and ink, a fountain pen and ink manufactured in the USA but available in the UK too.

Ruth has been very busy, creating three pictures. The red rose in watercolour she has called “In Loving Memory”, bought in memory of her grandmother.

This next picture is in pastels, of roses in her garden and then a painting of a barrage balloon in WWII.

Juliet took part in an online session (please see a previous post for more info) about Kandinsky. The coloured shapes are made with ink and crayon.

Steve painted roses in watercolour en plein air in his garden. Adding the darker background has really made the roses look 3D. He also took some photos in Cobham and has painted The Leather Bottle in a sepia colour. It looks like one can step into the painting in Victorian attire and walk along the High Street.

Tracy managed to keep her new apron clean all day whilst painting 3 pictures :o) All are 7″ x 5″ on Saunders Waterford rough watercolour paper. She and her family had the pleasure of staying at Bleak House 2 years ago when it was a B&B, having the 3 bedrooms at the top of the building. It was shut as a B&B last year but if it ever opens again they’d all love to stay again.

Also painted are Pip’s Graves at St.James’ Church in Cooling and some roses growing over an arch in a garden.

Sky Arts PAOTW week 9 – Sunday 21st June 2020

Firstly a big thank you to Cynthia, as she made us aware that these sessions would be going on every Sunday. We all thoroughly enjoyed the first 4 sessions and were thrilled when they were extended to 8 and then 9. From all the messages received this week we’re all very sad that they have now finished and we won’t know what to do on Sundays any more! It was incredible to be involved in a joint art experience, not just in the UK and Ireland, but artists joined in from most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South and North America. It was a truly global collaboration. Tai got very emotional at the end of this final session and couldn’t keep his tears at bay, knowing something very special was ending, as we are slowly released from lockdown.

This week classicist, historian and documentary maker, Dame Mary Beard, was painted by PAOTY 2013 finalist, Selena Mowat, from her home in Germany. Selena was quiet and didn’t ask many questions of Mary, but the judges and Joan all asked many questions. Subjects included the Romans as portrayed in films, all wrong apparently, and Kate asked about the Roman goddess Juno, who her daughter is named after. Kathleen asked about older women in the media, both giving their own experiences of first being in front of the camera in their fifties. Joan and Mary reminisced about their times as undergraduates at Newnham College, Cambridge. Mary said this was only her second sitting for a portrait, the first being nude in one of the episodes in her documentary series called “Shock of the Nude” (it’s 3 interesting episodes about the nude in Western art). Mary also said she’d got really good at Zoom calls and sits there in a dressing gown but wearing her pearls, so no-one knows that she hasn’t bothered getting dressed. An interesting morning with lots of amusing anecdotes.

Selena paints on plywood boards that have had white acrylic stippled on them with a big brush so the surface is not smooth. She paints with oils and has 3 tear-off palettes on the go at the same time. One palette has white, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow and yellow ochre. The second palette has crimson and what she calls ‘normal’ red, which looked like cadmium red. The third palette has cerulean blue, cobalt blue, sap green and a ‘dark brown’ that looked like burnt umber. She uses large to small flat topped brushes (known as bright brushes), a fan brush and a small brush for details. Selena started with a pink background, then used darker mixes to block in the darker areas and got a good likeness of Mary within an hour.

The big decision for all of us was painting Mary with teeth or no teeth, as you can see from the photos above, and should we paint the hundreds of books or not? Here are our pictures…

Angela D took 4 hours to paint Mary in water mixable oils. She will add the books as a blurry background later.

Juliet drew Mary in pencils

Cynthia used pastels for her portrait

Susan did no drawing at all but went straight in with watercolours. Those books must have taken a long time.

Steve painted with watercolours on Bockingford paper

Dot drew Mary’s portrait in only 2 hours, changing from teeth to no teeth

Tracy sketched then decided to draw Mary smiling, in black biro, using grey coloured pencil for all the books, cobalt blue watercolour for the t-shirt and pearl coloured shiny watercolour for the pearl necklace. She had another go using watercolours but feels the eyes aren’t quite right.

Tai got very emotional at the end as he is so passionate about art, saying that in these bleak times it has been a slice of escapism on an international level.

“Art has the power to heal, the power to nurture people. Creativity really is the key to staying sane in this sometimes mad, mad world of ours. So well done to all of us. A nice surprise is the talent out there. Thank you so much for coming on a journey with us, we’ve really had a fantastic time. Stay safe, stay creative.”

Here are the judges top three paintings from the public and also Selena”s finished portrait of Mary.

Tracy’s finished paintings

I have been painting most days, keeping up with ideas from the three art groups I belong to, as well as the Sky PAOTW. I loathe housework as it’s boring and I don’t like gardening as it exacerbates my hay fever and asthma, so spending time painting is much better :o)

I recently posted a painting on Facebook of 3 chickens, from a photo on a free reference site for artists. A friend contacted me and asked if I could paint chicken portraits for her daughter’s 13th birthday, of her favourite chickens that they have at home in their garden. The Mum sent me lots of photos and also said I can use any as reference pictures in the future, which is great. It was very interesting to paint their individual combs and wattles (those red dangly bits under their beaks). Here, from front to back, are Dottie Lottie, Bourbon and Atherton.

Roses. Who knew painting roses could be so difficult? I thought they’d be a doddle, but have had a disaster trying to paint them wet in wet, they’ve been a soggy mess. Painting them quite dry hasn’t been much better, but at least I’ve used my Winsor and Newton Opera Rose tube of watercolour paint for the first time! I may try painting roses again, but round a doorway or over an arch.

These three paintings were done for Gravesend Art Group, of something in your garden, Africa and texture..

Last Saturday and Sunday mornings, for 2 hours each time, I took part in LAOTW…Landscape Artist of the Week. Our Sky box conked out last year and with the new Q box we got ‘VIP’ membership, whereby you can watch sports events and other things we’re not interested in. However, for one weekend only they have tried a painting session. It was fun to join in and I hope they will do more.

LAOTY winner 2017, Tom Voyce, guided us through a painting, assisted by Kathleen Soriano asking him questions about how he was painting and about his career. When Tom won in 2017 his prize was to go to Jamaica and paint at Noel Coward’s house ‘Firefly’. Whilst there he also took photos at Ian Fleming’s house, ‘Goldeneye’, and he chose a photo of the sunken garden there for us to paint.

Tom told us not to slavishly copy any photographs and he took out the flower pot in the foreground as he felt it distracted from the rest of the garden. I found the wall line too vertical and moved it to the right a little.

He started by preparing his 2 boards in Naples Yellow. I don’t have that colour in acrylics so I used an emulsion tester pot from B&Q in Lemon Ice. Tom prefers painting on smooth plywood as he often scratches the surface and goes through canvas. He also doesn’t like the springiness of canvas.

Tom used oil paints very thinly, using Zest It to give a runny texture, which also dried quickly. The next stages were underpainting in red, then using blue for the darker areas, then painting white in all the brighter places. After that came the cerulean stage for the sea and sky and then the yellow ochre stage. After that we kept building up all tones until the refining stage, where we painted the palm fronds and other little things like leaves and the fence.

It was interesting seeing how many layers were done, as oils are often painted on in one layer as they can take months to dry. Tom’s way of painting with thinner layers means he works on 2 boards at the same time, one drying as he works on the other.

The first photo also shows the image we worked from, that I sellotaped to the side of my computer monitor. Tom’s 2 paintings are the penultimate photo and the last photo is my painting. I hope there will be more sessions available to join in with.