Sixteen members attended our first session in over 7 months and it was so good to see each other in person. Even though we sat in three separate bubbles of tables we all felt safe and enjoyed ourselves immensely, catching up with each other’s news whilst painting.
The suggested subjects were the month of May itself, named for the Greek goddess Maia, or anything to do with the Natural History Museum which is celebrating its 140th year.
(The Portrait Artist of the Month paintings of Prince Philip will be posted separately at the end of May.)
There were paintings of Maia, a maypole from May Day celebrations, flowers and many different types of animals, those alive today and long dead dinosaurs. There were also several landscapes and portraits. The mediums used were watercolour, acrylic, oil, pencils, pens and inks. What a fantastic first session of the year, well done everyone who came along!
Fingers crossed that we can meet again at the hall on the fourth Saturday of May, won’t that be good? Here are a few ideas of what to paint at home until then.
HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh1921-2021.
Originally pencilled in to paint in June when he was due to celebrate his 100th birthday, let’s draw and paint him this month whilst all the photos of his long life in the newspapers and on tv are fresh in our minds. Born in Corfu, rescued by the Royal to Italy then educated in France, England and Scotland, Prince Philip was part of our lives for so long. With millions of photos to chose from pick any time of his life from schoolboy to sailor in the Royal Navy, young husband, father to four children and consort to the Queen, attending thousands of events together and on his own.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Opened 140 years ago the museum must have been visited by everyone at least once in their life, on a school trip or with their parents. The Hintze Hall is where Dippy the Dinosaur was exhibited for years and is now being shown in regional museums. Dippy’s replacement is Hope the blue whale.
Draw or paint any exhibit, animal, vegetable or mineral or anything to do with the natural world. This gives you a vast choice of subjects.
Look at the Natural History Museum’s website for more information and inspiration… www.nhm.ac.uk
May is named for the Greek goddess Maia and the Roman goddess Bona Dea whose festival was celebrated in May. Both goddesses were associated with fertility and growth. Images of them are easily available online or paint growing life, which ties in with painting from the natural world.
The two suggested people to draw and paint this month were the legendary motorsports commentator Murray Walker and American civil rights activist and poet Maya Angelou.
Steve drew Murray Walker in charcoal on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper. What a great idea to include Murray’s headphones as this is how most people remember him.
Dot drew Maya Angelou in pencil and then added some inspirational words spoken by Maya herself. The words are so neatly drawn, well done. Dot also completed a picture of opening tree blossom, for the April subject ‘to open’.
Juliet drew both Murray and Maya in her usual impressive pencil sketch style. Their faces are instantly recognisable and their eyes the focus of attention as the pencil is used darker there.
Susan used her favourite medium, watercolours, for her portrait of Maya, beautifully capturing her glowing skin against the darker background.
Tracy drew Maya in HB pencil then added a few words and the rainbow in coloured pencils.
Some members were busy this month producing colourful selections of paintings on the themes of Greece and April’s own definition ‘to open’. Well done to all of you, it’s good to know how much you enjoyed painting at home by joining in with the suggested subjects. (PAOTM pictures of Murray Walker and Maya Angelou will be posted in a few days)
Jane has used oils to paint St.George’s Church in Lindos, Rhodes. Such good depth of field as she has used aerial perspective by painting the distant mountains in a cool purple and the foreground in brighter, stronger colours. It can’t come soon enough that we can travel again to distant lands!
Juliet has painted open blossom on trees in an orchard using watercolours and watercolour pencils. We could just step into the painting and walk amongst the fragrant trees.
Steve has painted open umbrellas in a fun and vibrant design using pen and watercolours. The painting works well with all the colours and shapes seemingly swirling around.
Susan painted this opening flower in watercolours and gouache on Indian watercolour paper which soaks in the paint and gives an interesting texture to the painting. A very delicate painting.
Dot painted an iris in watercolours on A4 watercolour paper and the daffodils and tulips in Brusho on smaller pieces of paper. Such well observed paintings of colourful flowers.
Tracy kept busy in April, loving painting pictures of Greece as it reminded her of holidays in the past. All paintings on Saunders Waterford 300gsm watercolour paper 5″ x 7″.
The first two paintings are of the Church of the Panagia (Our Lady) in Lindos, Rhodes. One in watercolours and one in gouache, giving different effects. Which one do you prefer?
The flowerpots with olive trees in are on a staircase in a shaded inner courtyard in the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes in Rhodes Old Town. The Old Town is well worth visiting as narrow, mediaeval lanes twist and turn and it’s all very photogenic.
Tracy thought painting the whole of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens was rather too complicated so painted a corner of it, trying a looser style than usual, taking inspiration from the Korean artist Sunga Park. Do look at her amazing art work as it’s both very loose and detailed at the same time… parksunga.com
Two final painting, this times on the theme of opening. Some magnolia flowers in watercolours and daffodils in an old coffee pot in gouache in a naive style.
Twelve years ago Angela M was in her last year of Pastoral Counselling Training at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire which she attended once a month. She had a free afternoon and was just going to go for a walk to reflect on the morning’s session when she noticed, behind a shrub, a naturally formed cross that had ivy growing up it.
Angela knew she had to draw the cross and completed it in graphite in 3 hours. It was her first foray into the art world and she has enjoyed drawing and painting ever since. The picture is put up in her home every year at the beginning of Lent, through Easter until Pentecost.
It’s a very apt piece of artwork to put on the blog today as it is Easter Sunday. Thank you, Angela, for sharing your Easter Cross picture with us.
Here are a few ideas to paint this month. The evenings are lovely and light now so even if you’ve had a busy day do sit down late afternoon or early evening and get drawing or painting. There’s quite a variety so you have plenty of subjects to choose from. Send all your photos to Tracy by email, text, WhatsApp or Messenger by the end of the month.
The Romans called this month Aprilis and the word April comes from the verb ‘aperire’ which means ‘to open’. Many things open this month…
umbrellas – paint several umbrellas open in a pattern or do a wet-in-wet rainy background and paint a person walking with an umbrella
eggs of birds hatching
pubs are due open this month too, so draw or paint a favourite pub
April is dedicated to the goddess Venus so create an image of her
Greece has just celebrated the 200th anniversary of independence from the Ottoman Empire. Many members have holidayed somewhere in Greece so use any photos or memories to create a picture. Draw or paint…
one of the many islands
boats or views of the sea, the Mediterranean, Aegean or Ionian Seas
people – holidaymakers or locals
Greek gods, goddesses or legends
Murray Walker – he recently died but was a well known personality, motorsport commentator and journalist for decades in newspapers and on tv.
Maya Angelou – the American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist she had an April birthday. Paint her portrait and add one of her many quotes to her portrait.
What a bumper crop of cards, drawings and paintings our members produced this month. You took the subjects suggested and got very creative, several members producing more than one picture. Well done all of you, they are fantastic paintings!
For the Scotland theme Susan used watercolours to paint Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich in the Western Highlands. She also painted two pictures of Angus, a long haired Highland cow, one in watercolours in a landscape and the other in pen and wash.
For the Easter theme Susan painted St.Margaret’s Church, Hucking, from a walk on the Hucking Estate a Woodland Trust area near Hollingborne.
Jane painted a view in oils of Loch Creran, Argyll and Bute, from the now permanently closed Sea Life Centre.
Dot painted two castles in oils on canvasses 25cm x 20cm. The first is Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe, Argyll and Bute and the second is Keiss Castle on Nybster Broch in the Highlands.
Dot’s third painting she has called ‘The Flower of Scotland’ as it features Scotland’s national flower, the thistle.
Angela D painted some beautiful Easter cards to send to friends and two of her grandchildren. She also drew a portrait of Sir Walter Scott in pencil, taking about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Steve used watercolours to paint Braemar Castle in Aberdeenshire, just up the road from where the Highland Games are held, on Bockingford paper.
Steve also created a portrait of a lady who appears on our tv screens a lot during news items about Covid-19. She is Linda Bould the Scottish Public Health expert. In oil pastels on pastel paper.
Peter painted a traditional image of Scotland of a red-haired bagpiper in a kilt and tam o’shanter cap.
Tracy painted two Scottish castles in gouache, a medium she’s not used for a couple of years. It was used too watery at first but once mixed to the consistency of single cream gouache goes on to watercolour paper smoothly and evenly. The idea was to make the paintings look like old-fashioned railway posters. The first castle is Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire and the second is Blair Castle in Perthshire.
Tracy painted a grouse in heather using the wet-in-wet watercolour technique for the hazy background, on SAA Saunders Waterford 300gsm watercolour paper. She also created a picture of The Kelpies, 30 metre high horse heads, the largest equine sculptures in the world which are near Falkirk, 30 miles west of Edinburgh. Black ink and a black biro on watercolour paper.
George has kept busy painting throughout the lockdowns over the last year. Here are six finished oil paintings, three still lifes and three portraits. George uses his own glass, metal and ceramic objects to create the compositions and lights them to make the shapes interesting. The edges of the glasses are often a simple line and the highlights on the objects a few white marks. Very good paintings, George, keep up the good work!
This week’s sitter was dancer and choreographer Oti Mabuse. Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Oti started dancing lessons when she was just 4 years old. Her mum worked three jobs to pay for Oti’s and her two sisters’ dancing lessons. At 11 Oti went to Germany to live with one of her sisters and to train in dance more. After finishing school Oti’s mum insisted she also learnt ‘a proper job’ so at university she studied engineering. After university Oti realised she loved dancing so much that she wanted it to be her career. Oti trained and danced in competitions for years, moving upwards in the world of Latin and Ballroom dancing. Oti won Strictly Come Dancing in 2019 with Klevin Fletcher and won again in 2020 with Bill Bailey. She is the only professional to have won two years in a row. The tattoos on Oti’s forearms are very true…’Strength through perseverance’ and ‘Believe in yourself’.
Oti was asked to stay in several poses for a little while at the beginning of the session, looking up, down and to the left and right, with her glasses on and then off. This was really useful as we were able to take many screenshots and then choose to draw or paint our favourite pose. Oti’s glasses were a strong prescription so this meant that her facial features were distorted when she wore them. To Oti’s left was a ring light and to her right a window so that is why her face is lit from both sides.
The artist was Curtis Holder, winner of PAOTY 2020. We learnt that since winning PAOTY Curtis has cut back on his teaching hours and now takes commissions for portraits, thus becoming a full time artist, his dream job. He has a very distinct style of creating portraits by using coloured pencils but in a loose, very scribbled style. Curtis did several sketches throughout the session, some with only a few graphite pencil lines and others with many coloured pencil lines. Curtis and Oti talked about their lives and careers so far and it was another interesting session.
Sadly it was the last PAOTW in this third series :o( Every M&C member who took part said how much they will miss the programme. It was brilliant to be part of a global art event, drawing well-known sitters and gleaning tips from fantastic artists, all from the comfort of our own homes. We all hope that as the idea was so successful that Sky TV may consider doing PAOTW again. It was the highlight of lockdown for many of us.
Juliet drew Oti in pencils and by gentle shading has made her face look 3D. By emphasising Oti’s eye by using darker pencil marks Juliet makes sure that we are drawn to her gaze.
Dot painted two portraits of Oti. The first is in watercolour pencils and Dot has bravely tackled Oti’s glasses, with the second portrait in acrylics on paper. Dot saw several different colours in Oti’s skin which she has successfully painted.
Cynthia used Daler Rowney acrylics on a 8″ x 10″ canvas, the background perfectly offsetting Oti’s glowing skin. Cynthia took a screenshot and then put a grid over the top. Instead of drawing a grid on to the actual canvas she used a grid system she made from mountboard and thread that fits perfectly over the canvas. It’s a brilliant idea as it saves trying to rub out the superfluous lines. Thank you for the tip!
Steve enjoyed the great combination of sitter and artist and liked having the choice of poses at the beginning. He also created two portraits of Oti, one with her wearing glasses. The first is in oil pastels on pastel paper, the second coloured pencils on cartridge paper. Steve has caught Oti’s skin tones perfectly, making her portraits very life-like.
Tracy had a disrupted session as it was Mother’s Day so had breakfast cooked for her of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast, followed by a facial, manicure, gel nails and eating a couple of cakes :o) She caught up with the session during the week on Sky TV’s recorded video page, taking about 30 minutes to draw Oti and then about 90 minutes to paint her in profile.
Angela D watched some of PAOTW on catchup and got a good screenshot of one of the judges, Tai Shan Shierenberg, so decided to paint him instead. She used acrylics on acrylic paper taking about 4 hours. Angela has painted Tai’s face so well, we will all know him instantly, well done.
Here is Curtis’s finished portrait, followed by Oti’s favourite portrait and the top three chosen by the judges. There are no portraits by youngsters or a wall of Oti as there was no programme after this session.