I have just discovered a brilliant and free piece of software called MyPaint. This allows for a very good painting experience with a wide range of pens and brushes with loads of options for customising these. I have used ArtRage before which is a great piece of software, but I just feel the simple interface and the wide range of features, particularly with watercolours, which ArtRage tried to include, will lead me to use MyPaint more.

The image below is my first attempt and I do expect to get better, but the result is better than my first try with ArtRAge.

The hard thing I find with this sort of painting is getting the colours right. However the spin off is that there is no clearing up afterwards.

As ever thanks for looking.


This week at the Art Group I attempted a watercolour based on a photo I took in Wetherby in Yorkshire. I liked the view because it posed a perspective challenge, and it was a very sunny day with some very dark shadows.

I used to use trace down paper which basically lets you trace the picture before painting. However I have dumped this and am enjoying freehand drawing before beginning my paintings. Overall I was happy with the effort even though it does look a bit off centre. I didn’t rotate the picture in photoshop before posting and my camera skills are a bit lacking!


This morning we had an extra session which was a life class. This is the first time I have painted a life model and to be honest I, along with others in the group were a bit nervous, much more than the model who is very used to this.

I made lots of sketches throughout the morning with the model in a variety of poses. The morning culminated in a 45min pose which turned out to be my most successful drawing and is shown here. The difference with life drawing as opposed to landscapes and buildings, is that on a building it doesn’t really matter if a window is not in the correct position or the right size. But get a foot the wrong size or a limb out of proportion on a person and the whole thing is messed up.


As ever…thanks for looking.

This week at art group I thought I would have a go at a self portrait. The first version was a pencil sketch. The outcome is not that bad even though it looks a bit grainy as it was done on watercolour paper. This only took about half an hour so I attempted a watercolour version with just one colour. As a first attempt at a watercolour portrait I must admit to being happy with it, even though it makes me look a bit mean. Finally and to use up my paint at the end of the evening I completed a quick ten minute watercolour sketch of some unknown girl. This came out better than I expected as I did work really fast.

All this was done in preparation for a life model we will be drawing next week. I am looking forward to this experience even though I am a bit nervous about it. Results to follow….if they are any good!

As ever…thanks for looking.

Self Portrait

Unknown Woman

This painting was done at art group this week and is a view in Manchester City Centre from St Anne’s Square towards Harvel Nicholls. I took the original image on my phone, uploaded it to Flickr to enable me to get it from the computer easily for printing.

My aim in this painting was to try and produce a very loose watercolour that was applied on top of a pen sketch. I made sure the perspective was correct before drawing then produced a 15 minute sketch. The colour was added in about 45 minutes to give a very quick picture that hopefully the viewer can add the details for themselves.

The group finishes for the summer in a couple of weeks which is a little devastating as I do find it hard doing things at home. I am determined to ensure that I do something at least weekly. If I don’t the blog will be a bit pointless.

As ever…thanks for looking.

From St Anne's Square in Manchester

It was art group last night. We meet at the Civic Hall in the centre of Whalley Village in Lancashire. There are only about ten of us who meet each week and everybody does their own thing in different media. This free approach makes the meetings interesting as we don’t have to follow a teacher. We do have half an hour to learn new techniques at the beginning of the session, but after that we get on with our own thing.

This week we had to choose one word from a list we were given, then produce a quick sketch representing that word. The word I chose was ‘Peeping’ and the resulting 10 minute sketch is shown below.


Once this exercise was over I started on the main subject of the evening which was a watercolour of Rye in East Sussex from across the marshes. This was completed in about an hour, and to be honest I am quite happy with this one and the new larger format I am working in seems to fit a more loose style of painting. I am sort of beginning to get a style and I don’t really want to get into a deep comfort zone. The result is shown below.


As this only took an hour to complete, our tutor Jean, took me out of the comfort zone and gave me an image to reproduce. I eventually want to get into portrait painting and the picture below is a watercolour sketch that only took about 15 minutes including the initial sketch. I was amazed by the outcome. Working quick and in one colour really worked and made me use dark colours to get the shadow atmosphere.

Once again… thanks for looking.


This watercolour is my latest effort done at art group last night. Once again I painted this in a larger format (16″ x 12″) and it gives the opportunity to use big brushes and lots of paint. The painting only took one hour to complete including the initial sketch. I find that if I take any longer I over work the painting and it starts turning out like mud. If I was to change anything I would make the distant hills more blue, but to be fair the original does look better than the photograph which seems to draw the life out the picture.

As ever thanks for looking.

The Seven Sisters East Sussex

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid-Lynx

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid-Lynx

was released at the end of April. I have been a fan of Linux for about six months now and I have a netbook running Ubuntu by my side most of the time. The reason I like the operating system so much is that it just runs perfectly well on really lightweight computers. Currently my netbook dual boots with Ubuntu 10.04 and Windows 7. Whilst I like the new incarnation of Windows it just takes ages to boot up as did Windows XP before it. Ubuntu loads in a fraction of the time and once started it speeds along nicely.

The new incarnation of the software has a nice new look. I must admit to not really being a fan of the brown theme of earlier versions and this is what I changed first, however the new purple look is very nice and I will be keeping this, for the time being at least.

Under the bonnet Canonical have made changes to the boot up which makes it even quicker. The standard software supplied has had a few changes with some packages being updated and some removed. The major change as far as I am concerned is the removal of The Gimp graphics editing software. As soon as the installation was complete I headed over to the updated Software Centre, which can be seen as the Linux App Store, and downloaded it. I also downloaded Scribus for DTP and Blender for 3d modelling. Social networking is well supported with the Gwibber Application that puts your Facebook and Twitterfeeds at your findertips. Not quite as good as Tweet Deck but this can be downloaded and installed as well if required.

If you have older hardware hanging around it may be worth loading Linux to give it a new lease of life. Personally I have an old laptop which is about seven years old. The startup time is nearly ten minutes and as such I only ever hibernate it. With a fresh install of Ubuntu it performs like a new machine. My concern is that two bits of software I need the most in my work  Promethean ActivInspire and the Smart Notebook software, may be tricky to get onto my new operating system. I run training courses on both of these and use them to create resources. The Linux versions installed like a dream and run as fast as they do on my brand new machine running Windows 7.

Overall this is a great update of a very good operating system and if you find old kit hidden in the attic it may be a way to add another family computer to the home network. Linux has the reputation for being hard and clunky with lots of complicated commands. I have only needed to use the command line on a few occasions and generally you will not need to know anything more technical than you would using Windows.

This painting was done a couple of weeks ago and is a reworking in a larger format of a smaller painting. As with every painting there are things I like about it and things I don’t. Tree continue to be my nemesis and I just can’t seem to get them right. I tens to overwork the foliage and this has happened to the tree on the left. It looks a bit smudged because I tried to take some out with a wet brush. I was close to ruining it. Since doing this painting I have done a lot of research into painting trees so I hope subsequent efforts will begin to see improvements. We will see tonight at art group.

Thanks for looking.

Windmill with reflections

This was the painting done at my art group last week. I only tend to paint on Wednesday Evenings as I just don’t seem to have the time during the rest of the week. I don’t have anywhere I can leave things out and the constant tidying up and washing of stuff is always a pain. I keep threatening to convert one of the spare bedrooms into a studio, but that seems a bit snooty at this early stage, plus I like watching the TV and being in the lounge with the rest of the family during the evening.

With this painting I have started to use a larger format. I am trying to be a bit more free in my painting and using larger paper and larger brushes makes this a little easier. The tower is overworked and some of the bushes I am not happy about. However I do like the foreground which does bring it forward. The background is too dark and this is one of the problems of working with a photograph. I have alos broken the rules of composition here by putting the tower in the middle of the picture with the horizon at the centre of the paper. However this seems to work in this example.

Thanks for looking.

Tower in Watercolour