Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Col de Joux Plane

Col de Joux Plane our sixth Tour de France pass. A sign at 740 metres with 1000 metres up hill climbing to go, I did wonder what I was doing! I was about to cycle the height of Scafell Pike the highest mountain in the Lake District. Overcast skies made it easier and my favourite granny gear put into slow action, energy bars at the ready and a view at the top which promised Mont Blanc and off we went. 

Passing sleepy hamlets with chalets and Alpine huts brimming with flowers, a friendly 'Bonjour' as we passed farmers and locals enjoying their lunch. Smells of barbecue and sauces to entice.

Cycling through pastures of flowers and quiet woodlands. Snowy mountain peaks coming into view, guessing the names 'The Dru? Mont Joie ah Mont Blanc.

I was delighted to make it too the top and with breath to spare. But not a sunny day? This will be saved for next week when artists will be overcome with joy at such a vista to paint. I've found a suitable cafe with tarts of fruits and a cosy interior.

But one little problem ear plugs could be needed for the sounds of Cow bells ringing singing tunes from the Sound of music.

Looking forward to seeing you here next week.

Doh a deer a female deer laa.......  Well there isn't a line for a cow!

The decent down to Giffre Valley

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A Spare Bike in Samoens

Here we are in beautiful Samoens, writing this in the sunshine, breakfast on the terrace, now I could get used to this lifestyle.We had an eventful journey down, stuck on the M25 for well over an hour, which made us late for the Eurotunnel, which was then delayed four hours. Quiet roads down through France until a busy section near Troyes when half a parasol steel tube flew off the car in front and pierced our bumper, thank goodness it didn't go anywhere else. So now the poor van has a piercing.
Before my painting holiday starts next week we are going to have a good old look about for some suitable locations. But really the scenery is wonderful round every corner.It's a real Alpine delight.

Criou is the mountain that overlooks Samoens and chalet 365 where we will be based for the week

Just some of the flower decked Alpine buildings

A spare bike in Samoens town

The view from Chalet Anpie where we are staying this week. A beautiful apartment with all mod cons and a stunning terrace with views like this.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Williamsburg Oil Paints

Rain clouds, Derwentwater

I was excited this week to try out some HandmadeWilliamsburg Oil paints. With names like Italian Ochre, Monserrat Orange and Fanchon and Pompeii Red and promising to be wonderful tantalising colours.Made from the most beautiful raw materials in the world. 
Well they has a lot to live up to and I certainly wasn't disappointed, they mixed subtly with a beautiful creamy texture, the colours seemed richer and less artificial than other Oils and blended so well.

I particularly loved Fanchon red a lovely bright red with a tiny hint of pink, a great mixer with different shades of blue and also yellow. I can see me using more of these super Oils.

I've been getting my equipment ready for Samoens watercolour course 
I say to everyone, try and keep materials light, I have three sketchbooks, two palettes of paint, around 10 extra colours, a full pack of Arches and many brushes, now what more can I squeeze in!

Keep watching for some Alpine paintings from Samoens

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Painting in Portinscale

A watercolour study of the wild flowers under Latrigg seen from Portinscale. We enjoyed a couple of hours painting in sunshine among the long grasses and Wild flowers. Studying the pink flowers, cow parsley  and long grasses, everyone painted a delightful scene.

Making our way happily towards the launch, I did wonder at the strong gusty wind. After an exciting sail down the lake we unloaded at Hawes End with paints and paper at the ready. Strong gusts blowing, we found a shelted spot looking towards Blencathra. Sketches were applied, with the fells apearing paler and grey clouds getting darker above. It was only time, rain would arrive, but everyone was prepared Umbrellas at the ready we Artists would not fail! But after a little while when the boat was sighted we quickly made our way back to the jetty.

Strong gales and rain, perfect August weather

All was not lost, Coffee was served and a demonstration using just three primary colours.
So tomorrow I wonder what inspiration we will find in the magical Lake District.

Monday, 13 August 2012

August watercolour weather

Walking down to the shores of Derwentwater from the Dalegarth Hotel, a field full of wild flowers caught my inspiring eye!A sky full of  Indigo with Ochre warm hues in a field full of wild flowers. You can see that the Colbalt blue skies that I had hoped for were not really evident today. The first location for our four day painting course was on a fairly windy lakeshore. Watching sails at great speeds fly by and artists applying masking tape to keep the paper from flapping about. Silence fell and with it concentration was high. A quick tonal sketch helped to loosen up, followed by a quick demonstration.

Rain approaching fast. 
Perfect August English weather.

'Old posts at Portinscale'
A quick demo colour wash, applied in a threatening storm of gale force winds.
Fingers crossed for sunshine tomorrow and less windy gales please.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Three more pastel tips

Sunset Sail
Pastel by Jane Ward
Price £295.00 
Size 22x 29inches with double Ivory mount and bespoke frame.
To purchase this painting or for details just email

I really enjoyed getting back into the pastels this week and working with the fisher 400 paper. For those who have never tried pastels, yes it can be messy and dusty and you do need quite a few colours but it is such a tactile and instant medium and you can create some magical effects that are so difficult in watercolours. Here are three more tips, that I find useful.

One* I find working with my board totally upright with a piece of card underneath to catch the excess pastel dust works well. 
Two* Use an old brush to get rid off mistakes, this helps to keep the texture of the paper fresh and not overload with pastel.
Three* Use Derwent pastel pencils for finer detail, like tree branches, boat rigging, birds and especially signing your name. To keep the pencils nice and sharp I use a piece of rough sandpaper rather than a pencil sharpener.

If you fancy a painting holiday after the wonderful Olympics I have two places left 

Monday 13th to 16th August  Watercolours around Derwentwater and Keswick

Watercolours and pastels in Grasmere Monday 8th to 11th October

P.s I am so enjoying our Olympics, Bradley Wiggins getting Gold, Princess Zara getting Silver, Rebecca with Bronze and a gold insight tonight are just some tearful moments. The passion and inspiration is pure joy.