Now the mayhem of Summer seems to have subsided, I’ve had plenty of catch-up time in my studio. Pure bliss. Sheela, my ever-enthusiastic pupil, has been a regular visitor on Tuesday mornings and teaching me a lot in return about art and how much more I ought to know and need to learn. We have made some studies of apples and considering how best to apply tone and looking at all the colours in our paintbox which Sheela has set out on a chart.

‘My Apples’

‘Sheela Apples’

Hasn’t she done well? I think these have a wonderful Cezanne-esque quality about them.

Lindsey from Ed’s class has been popping along too and telling me about transparent and opaque paints and learning to use them appropriately. So I’ve learned that transparent paints are good for doing glazes and washes for instance and opaque paints best for laying down background colour. I’ve introduced a couple more pigments to my paint palette this month which include Naples Yellow (one of my new favourites – great for dog portraits), Magenta and Flake White. Flake white is a transparent and a far gentler white than Titanium. My new book on portrait painting by Anthony Connolly tells me that Titanium White should be used very sparingly and just for the brightest of highlights.

I’ve applied this tip to my portrait of Bressingham Gardens below. This was a real step outside my comfort zone so I’m proud at least that I rose to the challenge. Sue from Ed’s class and I popped along to Bressingham on one of the hottest days of the year – not clever planning for my first ever plein air outing (which reminds me of another new addition to my studio which I need to mention) – my new friend – ‘Portable Easel’. Oh the agonies and the ecstasies of the painting life. I had to trudge for what felt like half a mile in the searing heat of the day to the far end of Bressingham gardens laden with the easel in one hand and my monstrously cumbersome carpenter’s trug in the other. This is made of the chunkiest wood you have ever seen and (note made to self that day) – the carpenter’s trug is to be banned from all future plein air painting excursions. Lugging that thing about was not the only hardship of the day – later on at lunchtime I was attacked by a wasp resulting in three stings – one to my precious painter’s pinkie and two to my ankle. I have never had the slenderest of ankle that’s true to say but cruel fate destined that my leg should swell to the size of an elephant’s – as it did in the ensuing days!

To add insult to injury, my picture turned out to resemble one of those ghastly second-rate paintings you might find in a church exhibition. It was shameful – so I emailed Michael Crowe of Suffolk Open Studios that evening asking if I could pay him a visit. Mike has won an award for landscape painting, was tutored by Sir Hugo Grenville and lives just up the road from me – so he seemed like the perfect solution. A couple of days later I courageously pitched up at his house, with, so I thought, my painting in the boot, for criticism and analysis. Well, mysteriously as it happens, when I went to fetch it for his perusal the painting was no where to be found which confirmed my suspicions about my early onset of Alzheimers. No matter, Mike showed me round his inspiring studio and gave me a cup of tea and a couple of days later I spied my miserable painting on the side of the road in the next door close to mine. It had clearly blown off the roof of the car whilst heading down-town to Shelley and I do recall hearing a curious clunk now when I come to think of it. Mystery solved – the appalling painting had gained a rather exciting mixed media character about it but it was still only fit for the dustbin!

So this picture below is my Bressingham Gardens Mark 2, inspired by some of the photographs I took.

This will be entered into the Bressingham Gardens Art Competition and exhibition on the 6th September – prize-giving on Sunday 9th. The competition will be stiff so I’m not expecting anything – just proud to have triumphed over adversity by submitting an entry and making the deadline in spite of wasp-stings, flying canvases, the bellowing voice of doubt and all.

I will soon be gearing up for three Autumn exhibitions to celebrate my passion for Galgos and hounds. The Glemham Church Art Show on the 28th September followed by an all-month October exhibition at Suffolk Living, 12 Orwell Street, Felixstowe, finishing with a weekend show at the Heart of Suffolk exhibition, Thorpe Morieux in November. Exciting Stuff and I look forward to getting my first ‘Paint your Dog in Oils’ workshop off the ground in the meantime … Note to all – there are still some spaces available! See my ‘Tuition & Courses’ page for details.