Portrait Artist of the Month – January 2021

This month there were several names suggested to draw or paint and it was great that several members had a go. Sean Connery just pipped Honor Blackman as the most popular subject, along with one Janus and a Kenzō Takada.

Steve drew Sean Connery and then added colour in Derwent Artists’ coloured pencils. It’s good to see the marks of the pencils as the colour is built up on Sean’s face, creating a very striking image.

Angela D drew Honor Blackman in pencil on cartridge paper from a publicity shot from Honor’s younger days, taking about 2 hours. Very gentle pencil marks were used for the softness of Honor’s skin.

Dot drew an image in pencil of the Roman God Janus, after whom the month of January is named. He is looking looking back to the past but at the same time looking forward to the future. The head looks 3D with the pencil markings from light to really dark

Susan drew Sean Connery in pencil, in a loose style but with enough pencil marks to a capture a good likeness. Sean’s eyes are especially noticeable, with his dark gaze.

Juliet sketched Honor Blackman in pencil in about an hour. She captured Honor’s beautiful face and coy look perfectly in a short time.

Angela M drew a study of Sean Connery in only 45 minutes. Proving that you don’t have to sit and draw for hours, you can put pencil to paper in a short time and get a good likeness of the subject.

Tracy drew and then painted the fashion designer Kenzō Takada in watercolours, taking about 90 minutes. The background of the original photo was very busy so she left all the distractions out and focused on Kenzō himself. It was her first time painting Oriental skin but managed to get a good match by combining Cadmium Red, Sap Green and Raw Sienna.

January 2021 – In the Bleak Midwinter

Several members painted last weekend, when our first Saturday session should have been held. All agreed that it felt good to paint again and we all enjoyed ourselves. Making time for a hobby is important for our wellbeing and we felt the day was good art therapy.

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ was the suggested subject and all members painted to that theme. Some used their own photos, some their imagination and others were inspired by images in books and on Instagram.

Susan used watercolours to paint her two pictures. The first is Nurstead Church Lane, with the skeletal trees suggesting winter.

Susan’s second painting is of a snowy path through the woods towards Northfleet Green.

Susan also took a photo of the above painting in black and white. It is shown below and it’s interesting that it gives the same image a different perspective. The painting in colour feels like the yellowish tree to the left and browny green tree to the right are the main focus, as your eye moves around the painting. In the black and white image that centre of focus changes to the centre of the painting with the gap through the trees. What do you think?

Christine painted her picture of a snowy scene in watercolours. Lovely to see the children have built a snowman and now they look ready for a snowball fight.

Peter’s winter scene is painted in acrylics and he has got great detail into his picture. You can see the main characters are skating across the picture by lamplight.

Dot’s painting started out as an ink drawing but she decided to add colour, which is enhanced against the black ink. By including mountains, cabins and trees it feels like you’re in a European ski resort, ready to go back into the warm after a day’s skiing.

Juliet painted her two pictures using watercolours and coloured pencils. By making a tree the main focus you know it’s a cold scene by the total lack of foliage against the snow. The skies in both paintings are sublime, showing how the sky in a wintry scene doesn’t have to be pale or grey, they can be the main focus of colour.

Steve painted in watercolour using a photo he took last week from the football field in Cobham of the church. What a contrast to snow paintings, showing just how contrary January weather can be, with some cold days having bright skies and saturated colours.

Angela D saved a reference photo of a snowy tree years ago and was pleased to be able to use it for this subject. It’s only her second painting of snow and has mastered it well, as the complicated branches of the tree look 3D. It’s in acrylics and took her 3 hours.

Tracy was inspired by a photo she saw on Instagram of snowy fields in Yorkshire. A simple sky was painted in watercolours then field lines in grey in the distance get darker as they get closer to the viewer, until the shapes of the trees in the foreground are in black pen.

Dot’s summer scene

Dot started this oil painting when we visited Chalk Church last August. As a total contrast to the cold, wet weather we’re having now, she has been busy painting to finish the picture.

What a wonderful image that we could walk into to enjoy the hot sun on our skin and have a swim in the inviting sea, lovely!

Dot’s painting

Dot has painted this illustrated quotation and it’s very moving. Life really does pass by like this. Having the letter ‘L’ made larger and painting the flowers around it really makes it stand out.
It has been beautifully painted and lettered, well done, Dot!

January’s 30 Day Sketchbook Challenge

A huge thank you to Cynthia who has made me (Tracy) aware of this 30 day sketchbook challenge on Facebook. Led by an artist called Susan Yeates, every day in January a subject prompt is suggested to you and you spend 5 or 10 minutes sketching that subject. You can just sketch it or take it further with a painting or design that takes you longer, it is your choice.

I think it’s a great idea if it gets a pencil or pen in your hand for just a few minutes. I know some M&C members haven’t done any art for months, so perhaps this is a way of spending 5 minutes a day getting you back into drawing? If you don’t have a sketchbook to hand you can use paper from your printer, a lined notebook, post-it notes, the back of wrapping paper or spare wallpaper etc.

If you’re already on Facebook type ‘30 Day Sketchbook Challenge’ into the search bar and the page should come up. Click on it and request to join the page. I did that yesterday and a day later have been approved to join the page, so now I can see what people have been creating since 1st January. Look at the page every day to see the new prompt.

The three prompts so far have been…1st January – buttons and beads, the 2nd – teapots and the 3rd – biscuits.

You can then post your pictures on the Facebook page and I’ve seen Cynthia’s already, well done :o)

It’s very interesting seeing how other people interpret the prompt with a quick pencil sketch, a tiny colourful painting or a bigger mixed media picture, but you don’t have to show your pictures on the Facebook page if you don’t want to. One lady has painted her teapot on a dried tea bag!

A lot of you will say you don’t have Facebook, but that doesn’t matter. You can sign up for a daily email with the prompt on Susan Yeates’ website at… https://www.magenta-sky.com/

The orange banner at the top says ‘Join the FREE 30 day sketchbook challenge – find out more’. Click on that link and scroll down to where it says ‘join the sketchbook challenge’ in a rectangular red box. Click on that box, fill in your email details then go to your emails and click on the email which asks you to confirm your subscription. It was very easy and it took me about 30 seconds. You will get an email every morning with the day’s prompt, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

I hope you give it a go, even for a few days, you might enjoy it and feel arty again. By the end of the month send me a few of your favourite sketches/paintings and I’ll collate them and post them on the blog.

January 2021

January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, life and death, time, doorways and duality. He is depicted with two faces as he looks to the future and to the past, what was and what is to come.

Portrait Artist of the Month (PAOTM)

Portrait Artist of the Week is not on at the moment so we will return to a monthly portrait project.  Thinking of Janus and looking back over 2020, here are a few famous people no longer with us…

Actors Sir Sean Connery, Chadwick Boseman, Dame Barbara Windsor, Dame Olivia de Havilland, Honor Blackman and designer Kenzō Takada.  Or you could draw an image of Janus himself.

Paint a portrait of one or more of them young or old, as themselves or as a character they portrayed, of which there are many. Any medium, any size, you have a whole month to create an image and send a photo of your portrait to Tracy by the end of January.

In the Bleak Midwinter

January is usually the coldest month with the harshest weather of snow and frosts covering our urban landscape and the countryside. Paint a landscape of snow in daylight or by moonlight, sheep grazing in frosty fields, the view of your garden covered in hoar frost, snowdrops peaking above the soil, birds feeding at peanuts, an image from a skiing holiday, a view of snow capped mountains or the view from the very top etc.

There are many poems and words written about this time of year so be inspired to paint by the following…

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind may moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.                  

Christina Rosetti 1872

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’”      Lewis Carroll 1871

Deep lies the snow upon the earth,

But all the sky is ringing

With joyous song, and all night long

The stars shall dance, with singing.  

Eugene Field, written late 19th C, published 1912.

Do Your Own Thing (DYOT)

You can, of course, paint anything you want to! If you belong to another art group and you’re painting their subject suggestions, that’s fine, it’s good to see what you get up to.

Send the photos of your drawings and paintings to Tracy by email, text, WhatsApp or Messenger with info about the subject, medium, paper used, time taken etc and your paintings can be posted here on the blog.

Welcome to 2021

Happy New Year to everyone and thank you for your continued support for our art group. 2020 was a very odd year with Covid-19 dominating world events and twice bringing our art sessions to a halt. 
It was good to meet outside at Chalk Church on the July and August Saturdays and at the parish hall in September and October, following a strict cleaning and social distancing regime.
A big thank you to those who have continued to paint during lockdown and send photos so your paintings could be shown on the blog.  It is here for YOU, so please continue to send your artwork photos to Tracy.  Whatever you paint we would love to see what you have created. 

2021 session dates

Sadly we’ve not been able to meet since the end of October and our next session date is unknown at the moment.  Painting ideas will still be posted monthly so you can still keep your hands busy painting. If you received any art equipment at Christmas then get it unwrapped and ready to go. As soon as we can meet again you will be informed by email about the date and any restrictions we will have to comply with.


We usually renew memberships in January but because we have not been able to meet for a while your membership is currently paused and you are all still members of the group.