Cynthia’s sketchbook challenge

Cynthia took part in January’s 30 day sketchbook challenge and enjoyed it so much that she decided to carry on. Her husband, Andy, thought of a prompt for every day in February so Cynthia has drawn 28 pictures for the month.

They’re so detailed and imaginative, well done Cynthia!

PAOTW – Clive Myrie – 28/02/2021

This week’s sitter was Clive Myrie, journalist, presenter and BBC newsreader. Clive has been on our tv screens for years and has reported from over 80 countries. He sat quite still in his study and we learnt about his extensive career but he did flap his hands around quite a lot which made them hard to draw. Some members rose to the challenge and included his hands.

Clive loves abstract expressionism and his favourite artists are Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko (a god amongst artists, said Clive), Jackson Pollock and Aubrey Williams. He and his wife have had their portraits painted once, by the artist Ryan Gander . Here is the painting, so make your own minds up if it’s a good representation…

The artist was Kayoon Anderson, a semi finalist on PAOTY 2020. She studied architecture for 3 years but left the course when she decided to make portrait painting her career. Kayoon drew for about 20 minutes to get Clive’s features in the correct place, then started painting on a canvas prepared with a Raw Umber wash. She used Titanium White, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber. Unusually Kayoon painted the background first, saying she prefers to paint this way as then she can judge the face colours better. It was another very entertaining session with two people of different ages, sexes, backgrounds and careers getting to know each other better.

Here’s Kayoon showing Clive how many colours she saw in his skin.

Cynthia painted in acrylics on an 8” x 10” canvas. She also saw many colours in Clive’s skin, all of which are complemented by the rich purple colour that Cynthia has added as a background.

Steve created two portraits of Clive, the first in coloured pencils on cartridge paper, with Clive’s face looking 3D with the careful shading around his cheeks and chin.

The second portrait is oil pastels on Canson Mi-Teintes paper with Clive looking very serious, but his skin colour rich and looking real.

Juliet used pencils for her sketch, using darker tones around Clive’s eyes, making them look like they are looking intently at whoever he is about to interview.

Dot used watercolours on A4 paper to paint Clive’s face during the session then used watercolour pencils to paint his hands afterwards. She enjoyed the conversation between artist and sitter and like other members commented that although he looks serious reading the news he was a lovely man and the whole conversation very interesting.

For Tracy it was all about Clive’s eyes. While he was being posed at the beginning of the session he looked straight into his computer’s camera and that was the pose Tracy painted. In watercolours on A4 300gsm watercolour paper from Hobbycraft, taking about 30 minutes to draw then 90 minutes to paint.

Here is Kayoon’s finished portrait of Clive, then the picture that he himself chose as his favourite from nearly 2000 entries from the public. After those two are the top three choices by the judges, portraits by the youngsters and images from the wall.

March 2021

Here are a few ideas of what to paint this month. You don’t have to wait until our usual fourth Saturday session date, use the suggested subjects to draw or paint throughout the month. Send any photos of your painting to Tracy by email, text, WhatsApp or Messenger, giving details of medium and paper use, time taken etc. If you haven’t painted for months then dust off your art equipment and make a start.


This year is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most famous novelists and historians. He wrote many books, plays and poems, so paint a picture of one of the characters or a scene from his books. Alternatively paint a portrait of Sir Walter himself.

Traditional Landscapes – the highlands, islands, lowlands or lochs.

Urban landscapes – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, St.Andrews, Paisley, Elgin.

Wildlife – animals found in or around Scotland – hares, red squirrels, pine martens, wildcats, red deer, seals, minke whales, bottle nose dolphins, otters, golden eagles, puffins, ospreys, highland cattle, western capercaillies etc.

Castles – Cawdor, Braemar, Balmoral, Caerlaverock, Blair, Dunottar, Linlithgow, Crathes, Inveraray, Edinburgh, Glamis, Eileen Donan, Stirling, Kellie.

Such a huge variety to choose from so paint more than one picture!


Easter isn’t until April, but it’s early in the month, on Sunday 4th. Some members like painting Easter scenes or cards to send, so if you’re busy painting these, do send some photos to Tracy of your creations. Paint traditional religious scenes or Easter eggs, hares, chicks, rabbits, baskets, spring flowers etc.


March is named for Mars, Roman God of War. Paint his portrait from images available of statues, mosaics and wall art from Roman times. Or listen to ‘Mars, Bringer of War’ from Gustav Holst’s The Planets and use the music to channel your thoughts into images which you put onto paper. Shut your eyes, listen to the music and start creating.

Portrait Artist of the Month – February 2021

The two names suggested for February’s PAOTM were Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Sir Norman Wisdom. Both no longer with us but with long careers spanning decades meaning there’s plenty of reference photos available.

Angela D painted Elizabeth Taylor in acrylics on watercolour paper. Elizabeth’s hair has been painted very skilfully, the highlights making it appear 3D and her face has a look so intense that the viewer has no doubt they are being scrutinised.

Juliet drew both Elizabeth Taylor and Norman Wisdom in pencil. Elizabeth looks very glamorous with Juliet emphasising her eyes and full lips. Norman’s cheeky grin has been drawn perfectly and we know he is just about to get up to some mischief.

Steve used Guitar oil pastels on Bockingford watercolour paper for his portrait of Elizabeth. The skin tones look real and the darker shading on her cheeks and under her chin work so well, highlighting Elizabeth’s bone structure.

Tracy painted Elizabeth in watercolours on A4 300gsm watercolour paper by Hobbycraft, taking about 30 minutes to draw and then 90 minutes to paint. The original publicity photo was taken in 1955 when Elizabeth was only 23.

Dot painted in watercolours on A4 Bockingford watercolour paper, giving Elizabeth a really strong look by painting her features close up. It’s a very striking portrait.

Paintings from February 2021

The suggested subjects for this month were painting in yellow and grey, which are Pantone’s Colours of the Year 2021, and anything to do with the Chinese New Year of the Ox. It’s good to know that several members painted at home during the month so here are their paintings. (Portraits for February’s PAOTM will be in another post).

Juliet has been very busy this month, creating pictures of a dragon, a farmer using an ox to plough and a landscape of a field in grey and yellow. All three are in watercolours and watercolour pencils, with lots of details.

Susan has already painted pictures from her holiday to Vietnam in 2020 during the Lunar New Year and a landscape in grey and yellow (to see them please scroll down to the post dated 18/2/2021). She painted the ploughing ox at home last weekend and her bee picture was painted using only Cadmium Yellow and Payne’s Grey.

Angela D used yellow and grey to paint her picture of flowers. It took about 30 minutes, proving you can paint a picture with detail and style, using just two colours in a short time.

Tracy was determined to use the colours yellow and grey in an abstract way. She spent about an hour drawing the precise lines and letters onto watercolour paper and then coloured in the shapes using a yellow Posca pen and a grey felt tip.

Dot painted this picture recently for another art group when the suggested subject was tropical fish, painting a colourful aquarium.

Many members of M&C are also members of two or three other art groups, so if you do paintings for those other art groups we don’t mind at all if you’d like the paintings shown on this blog too! It’s always interesting to know what people are painting.

PAOTW – Nicola Coughlan – 21/2/2021

The third series of PAOTW started with actor Nicola Coughlan sitting patiently and happily chatting away for hours. She is an actor best known for Derry Girls and more recently the Netflix hit Bridgerton, where she took the part of Penelope Featherington. The characters she has played are usually teenagers but incredibly Nicola is 34 but as she has unlined, glowing skin she looks so much younger than her age.

The artist was Alastair Faulkner who appeared as a contestant in PAOTY and a wildcard in LAOTY, both in 2018. Art is his hobby as well as playing the piano and in real life he is an NHS Trauma and Orthopaedic surgeon. He took part in the NHS Portraits for Heroes event and created a massive painting of the team of NHS professionals he works with every day.

For Nicola’s portrait Alastair used a limited palette of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Cobalt Blue, Ivory Black and Raw Sienna. He usually starts portraits with a Raw Umber wash on the canvas as it’s a mid tone and and takes away the original white. He didn’t bother with a drawing of Nicola but got on straight away using paint to outline her head and features. They talked about many things and we found out that Alastair’s favourite operation is piecing together a fractured elbow! It was another good session and the time zoomed past.

Dot sketched Nicola as she does all the sitters but then decided to use watercolour pencils to add colour to her sketch. Watercolour pencils can be tricky to use but Dot used them skilfully, achieving a good likeness of Nicola with beautiful skin tones.

Cynthia made a rough outline of Nicola on Sunday then continued on Tuesday with acrylics on her favourite canvas size of 8″ x 10″. She achieved soft skin tones, beautifully painted Nicola’s bright blue eyes and the capture of the highlight on the nacre on the pearl earring is sublime.

Steve used oil pastels on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper. Oil pastels can be quite messy but Steve has used them very well, giving Nicola a glowing skin and colourful tones on her highlighted hair.

Juliet sketched Nicola using her favourite sketching medium of pencils. She has captured Nicola’s slightly ethereal quality perfectly by giving her eyes slightly darker emphasis than the rest of het face. Good earrings too, they were a quite complicated curved shape.

Tracy drew Nicola for 30 minutes then spent about 2 hours painting her in watercolours. As Nicola was pale and wore a white blouse she disappeared into the background so Tracy added burnt umber to make her come forward in the painting.

Here is Alastair’s finished portrait of Nicola followed by the judges top three paintings by the public, their favourite three paintings by young artists and images from the wall shown at the beginning of the programme. There was no favourite painting by Nicola, but if she chooses one in a following programme it will be added later.

Susan’s paintings

“Chúc Mừng Năm Mới”…that’s Happy New Year in Vietnamese.
Susan and her husband, Neil, visited Vietnam at the beginning of 2020, during the Tểt celebration for the Lunar New Year. She took many photos and drew sketches of their holiday. Susan used these references to paint the following two pictures in pen, inks and watercolour, beautifully evoking her visit to an amazing country.

Susan was also inspired by the suggested idea of using the two Pantone Colours of the Year, yellow and grey. Using just Payne’s Grey and Lemon Yellow she has mixed the two colours into many different colours and tones. The subject was a walk from the first lockdown in April 2020. What a dramatic sky over fields, hope you got home before the clouds burst!

Super work, Susan, you have created paintings that will hopefully inspire other members to get painting this month.

30 day sketchbook challenge – January 2021

Sketchbook challenges are run throughout the year by many artists on social media, but this challenge was run by artist, printmaker and author Susan Yeates on her website Every day Susan emailed and put on Facebook a prompt and and video of how to attempt the prompt, with hints, tips and advice of how to tackle the subject.

Here are all the prompts from the month, so if you didn’t take part at the time, you could pick a few ideas and have a go at sketching them now.

Cynthia took part from day one and every single day created a detailed sketch of the prompt. A few are in colour and the rest were done with pencil, achieving great detail in all her sketches. Here they are in several photos. (Tap on the first photo to see the image in a larger scale and then tap/click onward to the next photos.) Cynthia enjoyed the month so much that she is carrying on sketching every day, with a prompt suggested by her husband.

Tracy started the challenge a couple of days late but soon caught up. A friend at Gravesend Art Group gave the tip of using Post-it notes for the sketches. This means the sketch is small, doesn’t take a long time, can be done on colourful paper and then stuck into a sketchbook. Sketching small took the pressure off having to create a big image every day and taking a maximum of 15 minutes per sketch meant the task was quickly achieved. The sketches were done in pencil, pen and a little watercolour.

Kay did two prompts but working full time and monitoring two teenagers doing home schooling has meant not much time for art. It’s a great start so hopefully when life gets back to normal do look back at the prompts and sketch a few more.

February 2021

Here are a few ideas for you to paint at home as we still cannot meet at the parish hall for our sessions. Send Tracy photos of your paintings by email, text, WhatsApp or Messenger by the end of the February, giving details of the medium, paper, time taken etc.

Portrait Artist of the Month (PAOTM)

These two very famous actors were born in the month of February…

Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Sir Norman Wisdom.

They had long lives and careers so you can draw or paint them young or old or as absolutely any tv or film character they played. Such a vast choice of images online, so choose a favourite one. As mentioned before, you don’t have to spend hours on a painting, take 30 minutes to draw their likenesses.

February is not named after a Roman god but the Roman month Februarius, from the word ‘februum’ meaning purification, after a ceremony that was held on the 15th.  

Saint Valentine of Rome is celebrated on February 14th, so you could paint his image, or anything to do with our modern Valentine’s Day.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2021

Pantone is the company known worldwide for its colour matching system.  For the past 20 years they have chosen a colour to represent the year, but for 2021 they have chosen two colours.
They are Illuminating (13-0647) a brightish yellow like cadmium yellow and Ultimate Grey (17-5104) a mid grey.  Read what Pantone have to say about these two colours…

Choose the yellow and and paint birds, flowers like daffodils and tulips, butterflies, sunlight etc, or use the grey for skies, landscapes or grey animals. Or you could combine the 2 colours in one painting, realistic or abstract.

Chinese Year of the Ox

Draw or paint oxen pulling ploughs or carts, in fields or in the wild.

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.