Angela M’s Easter Cross

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.

April 2021

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.

APRIL

The Romans called this month Aprilis and the word April comes from the verb ‘aperire’ which means ‘to open’. Many things open this month…

  • flowers in the wild and in your garden
  • blossom on trees
  • David Hockney’s exhibition ‘The Arrival of Spring – Normandy 2020’ is due to open soon at the Royal Academy. Look at www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/david-hockney and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see his artwork.
  • 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

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
  • animals
  • buildings
  • famous landmarks
  • Greek gods, goddesses or legends


PAOTM

  • 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.

Paintings from March 2021

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’s paintings

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!

PAOTW – Oti Mabuse – 14/3/2021

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.

PAOTW – Jill Nalder – 7/3/2021

The sitter this week was Jill Nalder, an actor in musical theatre. She has played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, been in Oliver and a show called Westenders, singing West End and Broadway Hits. She’s also an AIDS activist and inspired writer Russell T Davies to write the recent tv show ‘It’s a Sin’. Jill went to drama school in London in the 1980s and at first didn’t understand why her gay friends fell ill with a mystery illness and went home to die. Those who were too embarrassed to go home Jill nursed until they died. That mystery illness became known as HIV, developing into AIDS and terminal to all who had the virus.

Jill had rented a flat in London with friends and it became known as the Pink Palace as gay friends were welcomed there. She has dedicated her life to raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and raising money for the Terence Higgins Trust and for charities around the world who help the millions of children who have been orphaned when their parents died from AIDS. No M&C members had heard of Jill before but we were all very moved to hear the life story of this amazing and remarkable woman.

Jill wore a very bright pink jumper and lipstick in memory of the Pink Palace, combining it with a crystal necklace that had belonged to her late mother. The lights in the background represent heavenly stars, in memory of all the friends she has lost over the years.

The artist was Greg Mason PAOTY semi finalist in 2017 and LAOTY finalist in 2018. He was at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at the same time that Jill was at drama school, so he could relate to all that Jill said. He was painting in Majorca, where he spends several months a year.

Greg got Jill to look in different directions so all of us drawing at home could quickly screenshot our favourite pose. Greg drew Jill on aluminium then underpainted her in acrylics during the session, planning on painting over the acrylics with oils in the next couple of days. His acrylic warm colours were Raw Sienna and a pink and the cool colours were a purple, grey and white. For the oil paints he was going to use Liquin, to help the paint flow.

It was another good session and very emotional at times as we found out about Jill.

Steve again created two portraits of Jill which is a great achievement in itself. The first portrait is in soft pastels, the second in oil pastels, both being on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper. The pictures have very good skin tones and a knowledge of the bone structure of the face.

Juliet’s portrait of Jill is in pencil. The unusual angle of the head gives emphasis to Jill’s long, lustrous locks and well defined cheekbones, with the shadows on her face giving the portrait a 3D look.

Dot did a graphite drawing of Jill and then added the pink jumper in watercolour as it was such an important part of Jill’s story. Jill was reflective a lot of the time but Dot has caught her smiling, which she did when she remembered some of her special friends.

Tracy spent 45 minutes drawing Jill, her long, curly hair taking the most time. Another 45 minutes was spent painting Jill’s jumper in Winsor & Newton’s Opera Pink watercolour paint. On Hobbycraft 300gsm watercolour paper.

Cynthia used acrylics on an 8” x 10” canvas. The beautiful golden and purple colour from the lights in the background compliment Jill’s complexion and jumper perfectly.

Here are Greg’s portrait and the one that Jill chose as her favourite by a member of the public. Following those are the top three chosen by the judges, portraits by three young siblings and then portraits from the wall.

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.

SCOTLAND

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

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

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.