Christmas Art Gifts

Are you looking for a retro floral look this Christmas?

If you love animals and seasonal wreaths you may like my Christmas Wreath Set of 3 8×10 inch prints – portrait format – SAVE by buying this set of 3! Or buy them individually.

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Total cost for the 3 prints is $70 plus shipping – that’s approx. £49 plus shipping in pounds! :))wreath 3 copy

A fine and vibrant Christmas gift for the hostess or a unique heirloom artwork to bring out at Christmas year after year! YOU ARE GETTING – 3 individual 8×10 inch prints (see photos 2,3 and 4).

I painted the red and green holly, mistletoe and poinsettia wreath in fresh watercolour. Then I painted this Christmas stag, robin and goose and combined them in a heart-warming wreath design.

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WELSH text option

Want it with the Welsh “Nadolig Llawen” (this means Merry Christmas) at the botton in elegant green Chopin script? Then click here to shop the prints in Welsh as individuals or the set – CHOOSE YOUR OPTION IN THE DROP DOWN MENU when you are shopping.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/466544862/welsh-christmas-decor-stag-print?ref=shop_home_active_1

To me this captures to rustic Christmas of days gone by. A timeless and thoughtful gift to give to relatives or friends.

SHOP NOW – please click on any image to go to my online gallery –

 

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I will print your Christmas wreath print individually here in my home studio.

It will be on sumptuous archival Epson watercolor 190gsm paper.

The paper looks and feels like a watercolour surface and enhances the watercolour painting printed onto it for an artwork to treasure for years.

These prints are archival (they don’t fade) for over 70 years and come very securely packaged between a plastic and cardboard supports.

Order today for Xmas! Click this link to BUY NOW –  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/eastwitching/search?search_query=wreath&order=date_desc&view_type=list&ref=shop_search

Alison

My Top 10 Books

 

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10 books that will always be on my shelf – these have all had a huge effect on me in how I think, live my life and appreciate things.

It was so hard to cull all of the possible choices down to 10 – but also fun. I had to be brutal and make hard choices.

So here goes in no particular order –

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I studied this for A level English Literature and was my favourite

The Mayor Of Casterbridge

Love it for it’s fatalistic warnings of bad behaviour and the repercussions thereof plus it’s lush and tangible descriptions of the old English countryside and way of life

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Jaws

Love it as it encapsulates the microcosm of life in a small New England coastal town in the 70’s – the era in which I grew up – and all the drama of a town pitted against a monster shark.

My dad took me to see Jaws in 1977 and I couldn’t get in the bath for fear of sharks for weeks afterwards.

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Future Shock

Love it for the way Toffler warns of humans living beyond their adaptive range due to the onset of technology in out daily lives. Written in the 70’s but as relevant today as it was then.

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Harvest Home

Love it for the painterly way the author expresses life in a rural New England hamlet and the unfolding descent into a grisly tale of ritual horror.  The main character is a painter and when I first read this I aspired to be a full time artist too.

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The Artist Spirit

Love it for it’s ability each time I read it to give me huge impetus in my creative work. Robert Henri is like a friendly art life coach to encourage you to indulge in whatever hunches attract you and to go with your GUT! A cult classic for all artists.

The Uses of Enchantment

Love it for Bettelheim’s laser sharp analysis of the mind of a child and the huge significance of fairy and folktales in their emotional development. A wonderful case put for reasons to read to young children at every opportunity to share this rich and safe form that allows them to explore their inner selves in the safety of a far removed tale.

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Cider With Rosie

Love it for Lee’s poetic portrayal of a tiny Cotswold village and its life and people before the advent of steam or the motorcar. He cradles us in the reassuring descriptions of a life lived close to nature and at a more human pace.

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I bought this particular copy from the amazing Elephant Bookstore in Barcelona while I was there for a year teaching English. I used to love escaping there amongst the shelves and aisles of English books in the heart of Catalonia and having tea and cake.

Three Men in a Boat

Love it for its hilarious account of 3 men taking leave of their strenuous city lives and embarking on a leisurely break on a river boat. It features a Jack Russell (always a plus!) and the tone of the author as he dryly describes human characteristics makes me laugh out loud.

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The Case for Working with the Hands

Love it for the way the author puts into words what I feel about technology and its oftentimes damaging effect on quality of live and how we live and operate as humans. A must read for anyone who wants to find a balance between being master of one’s stuff or being overwhelmed by it and materialism.

The books also discusses the value of skilled manual crafts such as woodworking and mechanics as ways to connect in reality to the material world and do excellent work – always as the result of deep attention and understanding of one’s craft. He suggests that as technology works its way ever further into our daily lives that humans are getting less and less opportunity to use their brains – I couldn’t agree more.

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The Witches of Eastwick

Love it for the brilliantly portrayed small town life in a Rhode Island harbour town. Updike studied art and you can tell – his descriptive passages are so rich and tangible that you can taste them!

I enjoyed reading about the potent creativity of 3 women who in their own way were artists of music, words and clay – and the effect of a stranger on their lives…be careful what you wish for!

Do you have a top 10 of books you would like to share? If so please do so in the comments box below!

 

 

 

Waste Not Want Not

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Working as a freelance artist every little helps and so I have managed to not waste a single scrap of my A3+ sized archival Epson printing paper.

At £35 a pack of 20 sheets you can see why.

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I use this paper exclusively to print my archival animal watercolours.

For the last 5 years since I’ve been a self-employed artist selling on Etsy.com I’ve used this paper. It is the best for my purposes. With over 4,000 prints sold I have not had a single unhappy customer regards print quality.

The surface is divine and looks like real watercolour paper – but it is archival to 70 years giving lasting and vibrant colour. Sometimes I think the prints look better than the original!

So how do I chop up my paper and what uses does it get put to?

Here goes…

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First

I cut two lots of 8×10 inch pieces – these are for my regular and most popular print sizes.

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Second

I use the one remnant from the edge of the first cut to fold into gift tag sized pieces  – I hole punch the top – slip some Irish book-binding thread through it – stamp the back with my shop logo and after finally sticking on a small mini Eastwitching animal they are ready to go.

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Third

I cut the very slim strips that remain from the second main cut up into little 2 inch chunks. These are then used as “strapping” to hold my recycled cardboard (cut up from waste cardboard from supermarkets) that my dad cuts up. This makes my packaging earth-friendly and very rigid.

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Fourth and finally – the longest off-cut from the original cut is used to print off batches of 4 mini Eastwitching prints that adorn my handmade greeting cards or gift tags.

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It is amazing what you can get out of one sheet – without one piece going into the bin.

Do you have any fab economy drive tips in your creative process?

If so please share in the comments below – Alison

 

Linocutting with Erasers

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THE JOY OF STAMPING

Having wanted to have a go at lino-cutting for a couple of years I finally decided to give it a try with little outlay to see if it was as much fun I as I thought it would be.

I had long admired linocut cards by artists and thought it would be fun to stamp away using shapes/designs of my own and make batches of pretty handmade cards.

I just never got around to it.

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It was all finally sparked off when last week I came across a wonderful Dutch artist called Gertie Jaquet in the magazine Flow (a must read for arty crafy dreamer types!).Gertie uses pencil erasers as the material from which to cut her designs. So simple!

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YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

So I shelled out on a cheap set of interchangeable blades, a batch of plain and some kid’s erasers and a set of cheap inking pads.

Everything arrived a day or so ago but the cutting kit was so unusable and badly made that I had to give it to my dad to fix in his workshop! (Moral of the story – do not buy mega cheap – you get what you pay for!).

So after a quick rummage in my art image folders I found some drawings of mistletoe that I had done a few years back for a wreath that I painted in watercolour. The image fitted just nicely on one of the erasers so I set to work.

EAST PEASY!

Within a few minutes I had cut away all the surplus rubber from around my dainty mistltoe sprig! I only managed to nick my finger a little bit!

Next to choose a colour for the leaves so I chose green. I pressed it on the stamp and then pressed my design on some paper et viola! Thrilled and excited I then used the end of a Bic pen dipped in white acrylic paint to add the white berries of the mistletoe. Then that was it – the gloves were off and I launched into trying lots of other colours and rummaged again and got a second spring to draw and then cut!

NEW ADDICTION

I know that soon this will become a new addiction as already my brain is working overtime on thinking up ways of buying bulk rubber offcuts in larger sizes and doing 2, 3 or even 4 colour combos!

Watch this space.

Meantime – this is such fun – all the things we never really had time to enjoy in art class in school because we had a syllabus to get through.

Well now is my time to indulge – so – see you!

To see Gertie’s work – click HERE and for Flow Magazine click HERE!

 

 

 

Painting Goats in Watercolour

THOSE EYES!

They have those strange hypnotic eyes – don’t they? – goats?

Their pupils are a distinctive horizontal ellipse and added to their cloven hooves and raffish beards they are very paintable.

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As some subscribers will have read I visited a local small holding last month and actually smoothed and petted a goat for the first time in my life.

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She was a petite almond coloured nanny goat and very gentle. She nibbled at my fingers but did not attempt to bite me and simply bleated whenever I left off scratching behind her ears.

LOG CABIN DREAMS

I was inspired by her character and came home and painted a cartoon goat relaxing on a rag rug in a log cabin – complete with pot-bellied stove.

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I have this romantic dream of staying or living in a log cabin and so did this as a little indulgence to my aspirations. How much fun would it be to spend a quiet retreat with some goats (and possibly my Jack Russell) for company, just sitting by a stove as the wind and snow howled around – just reading and drinking tea? Lots.

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FREE WATERCOLOUR GOAT TUTORIAL!

For those of you who would like to try painting a goat please feel free to print off the images below giving a step-by-step goat tutorial. If you have any trouble just email me and ask for them to be sent to you – I am at eastwitching@hotmail.com

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I love this stage when things are all soft and blurry – this is where I like to let watercolour be watercolour and let it go more of less where it likes.

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Watercolour allows for lovely expression – especially in the early washes. I tend to then use stronger paint and details at the end of the painting process.

ALL IMPORTANT TONES

The main thing is to always establish your main tonal areas before you start to paint. If you Google “values in painting” or “Tonal Vales” you will find a lot of information on this. It’s well worth doing a tiny black, white and grey thumbnail sketch – only 2-3 inches  – in order to work those out.

Below is a simple tonal thumbnail of a scene I was creating of a junction in Las Vegas.

 

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..and here is the final pastel painting…having established the tones I was free to paint confidently in colour.

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I tend to use hot pressed watercolour paper – preferable Fabriano Artistico 90lbs (200gsm) as it is exquisite to paint on and the watercolour flows so well on it. It is also 100% cotton rag and is archival.

GOATS IN A BOOK

Some other goats I painted over 6 years ago now were for illustrations for a book written by Marnie Jones. It is a children’s book all about animals waking up in the morning. To view the book and a bit about myself and Marnie click here – http://www.fairyrabbit.com/

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OVER TO YOU!

If you’d like to share any goat paintings/sketches/tips of your own please do by adding them in the comments box below!

Finally – for free watercolour tuition head over to my YouTube Channel!

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Thanks – Alison

Painting pigs

Who cannot smile when they see a cute piglet frolicking around in straw or a large sow wallowing in mud on a sunny day?

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Watercolour Pig – 8×10 inches – “Sophie Snuffles for Truffles”

Yesterday I visited Warren Mill Farm near Pendoylan just outside Cardiff for the fun of spending time petting some farm animals.

These are some of the shots I took with a view to painting them at some point.

 

I was allowed by a very sweet goat to rub his ears and neck as he pressed his head against the shed door in bliss. Every time I stopped he got up onto his hind legs and bleated at me – I could easily have taken him home. His coat was the most delicate almond honey colour and though he nibbled my fingers delicately with his lips he never once tried to bite me.

But I digress – back to pigs.

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Watercolour Pig – 8×10 inches – “Oh Do the Okey Cokey”

Pigs have held a special place in my heart since I had an in depth chat with one – albeit through a fence – down a country lane just outside Crickhowell last year. As I crouched down to see the pig’s face I got to see those wise and tolerant eyes under his huge ears. He snuffled around in the mud with his wrinkly distinctive nose and at intervals came closer to me and I spoke to him about how lovely he was. I took photos but they were a bit blurred.

Since then he has popped into my mind and I often wonder about him.

A week or so I got the idea of sketching some pigs so here are those sketches – I love using a Caran D’Ache Technalo pencil – lusciously rich and velvet when used on cheap kids paper!

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Today I got down to painting some pigs in watercolour to try and work out the best mixes for their skin tones and shadows thereon.

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First washes of watercolour pigs underway today – more tomorrow

I find that Rose Madder Genuine mixed with Winsor Orange gives a good pink skin tone and then added to that a speck of cobalt blue gives shadow.

Also I used winsor violet and burnt umber for a grey and some alizarin crimson greyed with a speck of sap green for another muted pink tone.

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I painted the body with clear water first and let it soak in until there was a faint glisten on the paper then I added my washes and as the minutes passed simply added stronger mixes of the first wash or added the shadow colours.

Still more work to do yet but I am just trying to get away from the stereotypical pink pig and explore other hues.

Farm animals are a joy to paint with their antics, gestures and fabulous plumage and particular shapes and sizes and below are a few more of my efforts in watercolour and pencil.

 

To shop my archival pig and piglet prints simply CLICK ON THIS TEXT.

Finally – to view a heart-warming video of the most ENORMOUS pig ever roling over for a tummy rub then click HERE.

Enjoy!

Alison

Top 5 Qualities I Strive for in my Watercolours

 

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My watercolour seagull painted quite loosely using wet into wet in the early stages then tightening to drier work as the painting progressed. You can see the “spatter” that seems to find it’s way into most of my paintings.

There are so many brilliant watercolour artists around these days aren’t there?

Just a brief search on Google brings up a plethora of distinctive styles all using this elegant and mercurial medium.

There are many techniques, approaches and special additives you can add to watercolour to experiment further with different effects.

Being immersed in art we all feed off one another to a degree – one idea may spark another in yourself and off you go in a new direction. At the end of the day everyone will paint the same subject in a different way.

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Watercolour Koi carp using wet into wet technique on the fish’s body to get those fabulous and distinctive scarlet-orange blotches with lost and found edges

Although my style varies from year to year and from subject to subject I find that there are 5 qualities that I can’t seem to do without in my paintings.

These are things that seem to satisfy me as a way of expressing who I am and perhaps – admittedly – fill the need to feel I am working with all my faculties to use the medium in such a way as to showcase its unique qualities.

For example – I don’t like to use the drybrush method very much as I feel it just kills the medium. Drybrush is where you use the bare minimum of moisture – just sufficient to get some paint on to your brush basically – and paint in a very tight and detailed way.

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A simple lemon study I did for my class displaying strong tonal values from light to mid to dark using only yellow and purple – no tube black!

Conversely – I don’t like to use great dollops of paint in thick applications either as I feel this ends up looking like a painting done using hobby poster paints.

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Simple nastursim leaf study – here I like to avoid a solid block of colour and use varying degrees of tone and different shades of green to inject life and interest into my work

For me it is about a happy medium (excuse the pun!) of using delicious and delicate yet vibrant veils of colour – usually applied wet into wet layer after layer.

Within that general approach of application I have 5 specific habits that produce 5 specific qualities – which give me the most fun and satisfaction:-

  1. avoiding using  solid passages of colour – I just can’t seem to paint – nor do I desire to paint in a perfectly even flat way. I like to keep washes irregular with pale, medium and darker areas all intermingling.

Why? Because I feel solid blocks of colour are dead – there is no gradation and no life!

2. creating “lost and found” edges in my painting – this means making for example the stem of a flower have some paler edges so that it isn’t regular all the way along.

WHY? Because I reckon that viewers only need – and in fact like – a little information. If you are painting a still life – people can see that there are apples, pineapples, a bottle of wine etc and so don’t need you to make a complete outline of each item. Suggestions are good enough and letting edges slip into nothingness adds to the poetry and mystery of a painting and also provide some “oxygen” in those “gaps” for the viewer and the elements to breathe.

3. I never use tube black and always mix dark darks using blues, browns, dark reds and dark greens.

WHY? Because these mixes produce a rich velvety dark that says “black” well enough and also separates into the two hues to a degree. The result is an interesting “alive” black that has more depth to it. I always tell my students that to me using tube black is tantamount to stamping the word “Amateur” across your painting! I jest  – but in all seriousness I think mixed blacks lend a much more painterly quality to paintings – especially the when using such a delicate medium as watercolour.

4. Spatter! I can’t seem to resist flicking some dilute wash colour using a floppy mop brush right at the end of my paintings.

WHY? I feel it somehow adds a unifying quality to different areas of the painting and can add a touch of magic or whimsy – especially to my playful animal paintings. That said – I have also used it in more “serious” subjects for a signature flourish and  a burst of energy.

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5. and finally – readable tones. I like to establish well defined tones of lights, mids and darks at the outset.

WHY? Because this is he underpinning – the framework for the whole painting. If you do not establish good strong tonal patterns then no amount of prettily applied paint and detail work will save it.

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This article that I wrote for Leisure Painter a few months ago shows how to paint a black dog without using tube black and by developing clearly discernible tonal values.

 

To view my animal art gallery please visit anytime via clicking THIS TEXT – EASTWITCHING

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My art group – everyone will do their own version using watercolour in their own individual way!

Do you have any preferred habits or qualities in your work?

If so please share them with us in the comments below and watch out for my next post – thanks for reading – meantime – if you fancy watching one of over 200 of my watercolour video tutorials then hop over to my YouTube CHANNEL HERE! Alison