Thursday, 28 March 2013

I've had another try at posting on the new blog site and this time, hooray it appears to be working.

Painting in Pastel & Sketching in Watercolour

So if you want to see the latest post click here and to re-subscribe to the new posts complete the subscriber box on the top right of the page under the menu. You will then receive notification of new posts on the new site. 

In due course I will archive this old blog site, thanks for following.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Unfortunately we have experienced technical problems with the new Wordpress blog so we have decided to continue with our blogs on this site. We are sorry if you have signed up for the new blog but not received notification of new posts. We just can't make it work!
David and I are opening our exhibition at Art Matters in Tenby on Easter Saturday, if you are in the area please do come and say hello.
The western fringes of the British Isles, have always exerted a strong influence on my painting. The stories, myths and legends, the ancient stones and the marks left by prehistory are evident everywhere. The cottages and farms, hunkered down among the rocks in their struggle to survive the Atlantic fury, show clear evidence of the ingenuity of past generations. Even today, in many places, the same building methods are used to protect homes from the violence of the weather.
Farm Above Dinas Cross JK s
Farm above Dinas Fach, Pembrokeshire

In Pembrokeshire especially, the buildings have a unique character, that  makes them a gift for the artist. Like many other painters I am bewitched by this charm. The rugged coastline provides a never-ending bounty of subjects. At every twist and turn of the shoreline another inspiring view appears.
I am fortunate indeed that Pembrokeshire is David’s home county. Through his intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny we have explored fascinating and stimulating places and although we have travelled the world together, it is to Pembrokeshire that I always long to return.

Friday, 8 March 2013

We've moved our blogs

We've moved our blogs to the new website: 

You can see Jenny's blog here

and David's blog here

There are lots of new features on the new website, including galleries of paintings under David's tab and our own video channel

To subscribe to the new blogs just enter your email address on the right hand side under 'Keep in Touch' 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Secret of Speckles

I've been asked many times how I get the fine speckles of colour in my paintings so I am going to let you into the secret. I lay the painting flat on a table and using the edge of a palette knife I scrape flakes of pastel on the surface where I want to create the effect of small leaves, seed heads in a field or sea spray on rocks etc. I than press the flakes into the painting with the flat of the palette knife. If there are some stray flakes which you do not want, you simply don't press them in and they will either fall off when you place the painting in a vertical position or you can blow them away. 

Scrape flakes of pastel on the painting.
Press flakes into the surface with a palette knife

Step 1. Lay the painting horizontal on a table and using the edge of a palette knife, scrape flakes of pastel from a pastel stick on to the surface of the painting where you want to create fine specks of colour.

Step 2. Press the flakes into the surface of the painting with the flat of the palette knife where you want them to stick. Blow away any unwanted flecks.
This technique is most effective if you use contrasting tones and colour.

It is almost impossible to achieve these fine marks with a dotting technique and the random effect is particularly pleasing.  However, I will issue one word of warning. This technique is addictive and it is easy to get carried away using it all over the place and then the effect is spoiled.

This technique is described in my book Painting with Pastels and demonstrated on my DVD of the same name. Or you can buy both at a Special Offer Price of £20

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Painting Rocks in Pastel

One of the most common problems people encounter when painting landscapes is how to portray a realistic looking rock. It is mainly a matter of light and shade but colour is also an important element. Rocks are rarely one uniform colour and although sometimes the colour range is limited, subtle changes from one tint to another are very effective.

In the above image, which is an enlarged part of a painting that I am currently working on for an exhibition in Tenby this spring, the strong light increases the contrast between different planes making it easy to make the rocks look three dimensional. The light faces are defined with a soft transistion of lighter tones and some darker fracture lines, rendered with a sharp charcoal pencil.

It is also important to study the random shapes of rocks. If you make all your rocks the same size and shape and uniformly spaced they will look man-made rather than natural. Of course the best way to improve your rocks is to go out sketching and make some careful studies. Or, if rocks are conspicuous by their absence where you live, gather a pile of randomly shaped stones and make a detailed pencil study in your studio. Even this should help you to understand the play of light and shade and the random nature of their shapes.

If you want to join me on my painting course in Lynmouth, North Devon in May I will be sketching and painting rocks, cottages, trees and water. North Devon has some beautiful scenery and we shall be well looked after by Cheddar Painting Holidays

Friday, 21 September 2012

Leisure Painter magazine has articles by both David and myself this month. David's article interprets a scene in Yorkshire painted by Turner two centuries ago and my article reflects on autumn colour in pastel. There is also a bonus feature by me at Painters Online, (scroll to the bottom of the page) the online branch of the magazine, on the subject of Rapid Sketching which shows a number of  sketches from my journey through Vietnam and Cambodia. A good way to improve your sketching is to restrict yourself to 5 or 10 minute sketches. This forces you to concentrate on the most important features and to leave out unimportant details. It also improves your hand to eye co-ordination. As an exercise try sketching without looking at the drawing, keeping your eye on the subject and use quick fluid lines. It may not work first time but it can be quite liberating and often surprisingly good images emerge. 

Sketch of the Mekong River, Vietnam


Farm in Mid Wales
David and I are taking part in an exhibition in Mid Wales next month (October 2012)  entitled Our Fragile Heritage at the Crossroads, to highlight the threats to our precious wild landscapes. The whole of Mid Wales, from the English border to the Celtic Sea, from Snowdonia to the Brecon Beacons is under unprecedented pressure from industrialisation.  David and Jenny will be exhibiting landscape paintings to highlight the threats to these endangered landscapes. They will be joined by other artists and local campaign groups working to protect their environment. Jenny will be demonstrating Pastel Techniques and David will be giving an illustrated talk on 9th October click here  for details.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Watercolour sketch of Llyn Gwynant
Below is the demonstration painting that I did for Sandpiper Studio last weekend. This event was organised by owner Julie McLean who also teaches painting. The subject of the demonstration was water and reflections so I chose this view of Llyn Gwynant which I had sketched on a damp day. (Above) You can see the speckles where the rain has fallen on the sketch whilst the wash was still wet. I quite like painting watercolour sketches in the rain. It keeps the washes fluid and prevents you fussing about with the detail. I emphasised to the audience the importance of sketching to capture mood and atmosphere. Something that is difficult to capture in a photograph.

Llyn Gwynant, pastel by Jenny Keal
The painting was done with Unison Pastels on Fisher 400 Art paper, which is an abrasive surface and extremely good for creating mood and atmosphere and for portraying reflections. The distant mountain was kept cooler in colour, lighter in tone and without any detail. These three tips will help with the illusion of recession. The autumn colours on the foreground trees also help with this illusion, as their bright, warm colours  and stronger tones stand out well against the soft blue grey background. 

If you are anywhere near Llandrindod Wells this week please come along to Art in the Park on Wednesday 22nd August where I will be demonstrating in pastel and on Thursday 23rd August where David will be demonstrating in watercolour. You can even join in and do your own painting of the Rock Park for the exhibition at the weekend.