Welcome to Polly's Blog

Welcome to Polly's Blog
Watercolour, humour, this and that

Monday, 16 December 2013


This is possibly my last blog until next year, so I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and whatever you do have a wonderful time.  If you are on your own I send you a special hug.

This is my Christmas Card especially for you (oh and family and friends too!). 

Actually it is Sharon Whitley's December Challenge (because of these challenges I have painted things I would never have tried, so a special thank you) and the photograph is by Wildlife Photographer Gary Jones (sorry Gary another beautiful photograph I have changed, but thank you for all the lovely photographs I have used this year).

Caption:  Who's that guy in the red suit?

May Santa bring you whatever you wish for.  

Luv from Polly xx

Saturday, 14 December 2013


You see I don't particularly like using oils, but boss teacher wanted us to do a still life in oils. Yuk and yuk! Not struck on painting in oils nor ordinary still life.  But like a good little girl I did as I was told (this time) Outcome not as bad as I thought. These are water soluble oils.

This was done over two weeks classes.  Patience I didn't know I had, as I like to go whoosh and have a painting done in one session, if possible.  Oh and the round pot didn't have a square opening,  this huge error has only come to light looking at it on screen.  Won't be altering it though, as this will go in my 'not like' box.

Will I use oils at our last class this year,  or will I rebel?

Have a wondrous weekend!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Yes, I am putting brusho away!  There's so much going on. I usually do my brusho at the art club because it is, or sorry, I am soooo messy, and it's our Christmas do today and then that's it til after New Year.  These two paintings I have concentrated on using bleach.  I sprinkled and sprayed the background colours on, covering the whole sheet of paper with colour and then picked out the white with bleach and added some darks.
Dark Stripes were just the background showing through.
This one is actually Sharon Whitley's December challenge, and is from a photograph by Gary Jones of the Ugly House in North Wales.  Just a note to Health and Safety, The snowman didn't suffer any harm from being covered in bleach!!!!!

Friday, 6 December 2013


I'd had this painting in mind for a long time.  I wanted to know what Southport (a Victorian seaside resort on the north west coat of England) looked like in Edwardian days. (early 1900's).  So I did some research, which I promptly didn't really follow!! Typical of me.  Here is the progress

Already I didn't think it was going well, wobbly window syndrome! But persisted in a 'gung ho' fashion! And the attitude, it's only a piece of paper

Hubby didn't like the woman in the foreground and I agreed.  I put the pic out on my facebook page for instant advice.  Wasn't as bad as I thought. But the woman certainly was not right, facing in the wrong direction, too prominent and the wheelie bin in front of her not a good idea (was in fact a pram in case you were wondering)

Well here is the revised version.  Lady now leading you into the picture. I  tried to wash her out but wouldn't work completely, so went over her with an opaque colour, cobalt. Used some white guache to try and straighten some of the windows, and added some more cobalt in the sky to balance the picture, also to the lady linking arms. Can't do anything about the wobbly red writing, but hey it's only a piece of paper.

Hope you get a flavour of what this lovely main street looked like years ago.  To finish here is a pic of what it looks like now.

It's a wide tree lined street, with these distinctive verandahs, it's about a mile long with outside cafes, very contintental and looks lovely on a warm sunny day.  On the right is the Town Hall and Art Centre, a bandstand, small green areas an outdoor cafe and fountains.  Very pleasant place to sit awhile or stroll along.

Have a wonderful weekend. Keep snug and warm

Friday, 29 November 2013


Thought it would be interesting to see how the two react with bleach.  I had only ever used bleach on Brusho and it was suggested that you could use bleach on Watercolour too.  So Polly had to experiment and here are the results, which you might find interesting.

This is the Brusho chart. Using all the colours that I have.  With the exception of Prussian Blue on all the above I used just one sweep of a brush loaded with bleach (or you can use Milton (a sterilising agent)   And the whiteness of the paper just appeared through as if by magic.   Obviously some reacted better than others.  The paper didn't turn yellow and wasn't damaged.  In fact, I have tried and you can paint over the top when it is dry.  Could be very handy to know. 

Watercolours and exactly the same procedure BUT I had to scrub the bleach into the paint, no single strokes here, so was worried about the paper and the brush (an old brush that I washed constantly) And while I can see that some of the colours allowed the white paper to show through, many of them, even after the vigourous brushing, did not turn white.  The scrubbing affected the wash giving run backs sometimes.  I wouldn't use bleach on a watercolour painting from choice, as I feel it could damage the washes around the bleached area, not to mention quickly ruin any brush.

I would be interested to hear from anyone else who has tried a similar experiment.

Have a wonderful weekend my lovely blogging friends!!

Saturday, 23 November 2013


Still in Brusho mode - but I am itching to get back to my beloved watercolours, (six weeks since my holiday with Hazel Soan was watercoloured out) and today am putting Brusho away and getting out my w/c palette. 

These two paintings though are a little experimental, and I also wanted to try my new brusho colours and the effect of bleach on each of them, as I feel this is an important part of using this exciting medium.

This was painted by drawing the figure, then using candle wax for the highlights around the figure and on the skirt, then woosh in with the Brusho.  I used bleach for part of the legs.
First I used Indian Ink and cocktail stick to draw in the outlines, then I used salt in the background top and bottom, love the effect!  I didn't have to do anything, it did it all by itself. I used cobalt thinking I could bleach out the snow.  Not that easy.  Used bleach then a damp magic sponge over the top.  So determined was I to get back to white that a ruined the surface of the paper. Never mind, 'It's only a piece of paper'.


Thursday, 14 November 2013


Thought I'd try a nightscene.  Not easy I know.  And experiment with a mixture of watercolour and brusho.  Firstly I painted a watercolour underwash of pinks, blues and yellows in staining colours.  Then I did the brusho painting using black and a little yellow only.  Using bleach I took out the shape of Blackpool Illuminations from the Brusho,  no drawing, I expected the non staining watercolours to still be there, giving the lights gentle colours showing through.  However, the bleach took out everything.  This was a surprise as I thought bleach didn't work on watercolours.

I was now frustrated!!!   So, I photographed the painting and then, inspired by Rita Vaselli's blog who played around with photoshop recently (Check out her our wonderful blog, beautiful paintings, and someone who experiments and loves art so very much). So I changed the hue and saturation on two of them (the vivid colours) and the other one is a filter and is supposed to be stained glass (you need to look at this one larger to see the effect. It was fun seeing the different colours and effects that you could achieve.  Boredom is my enemy and sometimes I need to find an exciting friend!!!!!!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


I have posted this poppy before so no comments.  I just wondered why we use poppies at this time of year and found this explanation on BBC page, for anyone interested.  I don't know if any other countries reflect in this way with a flower, although I think that France uses the cornflower, must check up on that one.

We must never forget them .................

Why the Poppy?

The poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day. But how did the distinctive red flower become such a potent symbol of our remembrance of the sacrifices made in past wars?
Scarlet corn poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century transformed bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers.
In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as World War One raged through Europe's heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.
The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realised by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem In Flanders Fields. The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made by his comrades and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in World War One and later conflicts. It was adopted by The Royal British Legion as the symbol for their Poppy Appeal, in aid of those serving in the British Armed Forces, after its formation in 1921.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Happy Halloween!

Don't have nightmares, just have fun

Brusho playtime yesterday at art club, it was playtime!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 27 October 2013


Finally, here are the end of my memories of the art holiday with Hazel Soan to Italy. A peek into my personal sketches done at night using my camera as reference and sometimes from life.  When I go on these courses it is like someone switches me on, and I go crazy, painting every hour I can, then when I get home I am drained! Not even attempted a watercolour since I came home.  It's as if I burnt my watercolour self out!!!

Thank you for following my progress and for commenting too.  It has been quite an experience sharing this special holiday with you.  Has brought back recent memories and made me assess the work I have done. Here goes.  I am opening  my khadi pad (8" square) so you can peek inside ............................

Great care was taken in the making of this Ice Cream, it looked like a rose when it was finished. Bought in the market square in Verona, and very delicious it was too.

My little room in Lake Garda was a bit run down, which included this dirty light switch area.  They had even put a plastic panel around the switch but there were many old dirty marks underneath.  You might see this better if you enlarge the photograph. We christened the hotel, Hotel Faded Elegance (Hotel Laurin). While the main rooms were really elegant and stunning, most of our rooms were passed their sell by date!

Saw this bike in Verona with a polythene bag on the seat, to protect it from the rain.  Well it was red, so out came the pyrrol scarlet. However, this bike has ended up with square wheels, not a very comfortable ride!

View from my window in Verona, I just had to paint the terracotta pipe things and the old carvings under the gutter. Hotel Palazzo was a fabulous hotel inside, old building but modern furnishings and unusual works of art.

The painting I am most pleased with from the whole holiday.   I thought this metal key fob for my room in  Verona was so lovely that I felt compelled to get it down in paint.

And not to leave out the hotel in Lake Garda, decided to paint that key fob too.  This one weighed a ton!

Thank you again for bearing with me and taking the time to come on holiday with me, I hope you enjoyed my journey.

Now I will have to get back to painting with my watercolours before the inspiration disappears.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Here's Polly again, with more memories of her painting holiday, with Hazel Soan, to Italy.  Lake Garda was the second part of the holiday (went to Verona first) and challenging it certainly was, what with heavy rain, damp and cloud, it was a grey few days. It was also very cold and I had to buy another thick top. One day I had 5 layers on. Anyway, after the morning demo with Hazel, we went off and did our own thing in the afternoon, sometimes meeting up with other painters, especially when it rained, we would all have found some place to shelter. Beware there are NINE! So have patience if you want to read to the end.

Quickly dashed out of the hotel to paint this bounganvillia (can't spell it) at the side of the hotel.  Bit of a mess really but I just had to paint it.

This couple were sat in front of me for ages, so painted them but the rest of the painting is made up.

Here I was sheltered under some arches. This is the main square in Salo.  There was no-one about. Teaming with rain and windy.  How do I remember that?  Because I was sketching and I remember the sounds, the loneliness, oh everything.  A photograph would have just shown a wet day.

This is another view of the main square and the Lake was behind me.  I was sat on the war memorial steps and we were waiting to catch the ferry.  Hazel Soan is the one in black with a camera in her hand. I sketched this while I was waiting and then went back on a fine afternoon and painted it. So it's a painting in two halves!!!

The doorway to the Duomo, last afternoon, and cruelly the sun was trying to break through the clouds!  People were buying ice creams from a little shop in the square, but I did NOT succumb!

Final sketch of the holiday, by now the sun was shining albeit watery.  Used my water soluble pen and water brush for speed. 

We took a ferry to this little place, the rain was torrential by the time I painted this.  Hazel had done a demo of orange trees so I incorporated that idea in my painting. 

Was looking for a place to paint (This was the ferry destination place called Geronimo or something similar) when it started to rain.  Four of us ended up sketching in this little place where we had a quick lunch and Prosecco.  This poor man you will notice is tall with a decidedly dodgey skinny knee.  In actual fact he was rather on the short side! So you can see that I am not very accurate! Especially when I have had a glass of wine.

This was literally a 10 min sketch done when we stopped at San Sirmione on the way to our second destination, using my Elegant Finewriter water soluble pen.  Too many angles.  Nightmare.  Stupid to attempt when 10 mins was all I had to spare.

Well here endeth my on the spot paintings. My next post will be the fun personal paintings I did in my room at night.  

Saturday, 19 October 2013


These are done without the safety net of Hazel, and were done in and around Verona before breakfast, and after the demo paintings, later in the afternoon.  I apologise here if I may be boring you with my work, but it is nice to share work rather than just shove it in a draw.  Also, for people who have never been on a course, will give them an idea of what you can do. These were all done on the spot .....................
Wonderful stairway in a little piazza. As soon as I saw this I knew I had to paint it carefully, and did so on the last morning before we caught the coach for Lake Garda.

This one tells a story, was painting this before breakfast, suddenly looked at the time and quickly packed up. Now the drawing below continues this story .....................

As I was packing up a young girl, about 12 or 13 came over and gave me this signed drawing she had done of me sketching, what a lovely arty memory and I shall keep this forever!

Fit this in between rain showers, and is a lamp that was in front of the famous arena in Verona where the opera is performed.

The camera angle I took of my painting has distorted this even more as the right hand shop wall IS straight. I was drawn to the crooked balcony that was in the market square.

This is a statue of Dante, but you know what, every time I looked at him whilst drawing, I swear he moved!  The folds were always in a different place

A view across the river from Verona of the  Roman Teatro.  Done in water soluble black and brown pens and softened with a water brush

Just had to paint this Fabriano Shop near the hotel.

Right near the hotel, just inside the city wall. Water soluble pens again

And finally, Phew I hear you say, something carved in the wall.

I hope you have enjoyed this little journey around Verona with me, memories far more precious than photographs. I haven't finished yet as there are some from Lake Garda (not as many) and then I will post my little sketches done in my favourite Khadi pad that I did in the room at night.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Second part of the paintings done in Hazel Soan's style, this time on the second part of the course, in rainy Lake Garda.  It was interesting to see how Hazel dealt with the considerably difficult conditions, rain, mist, damp and even deluge!!  We even had workshops on the covered terrace at the front of the hotel overlooking Lake Garda because there would have been no shelter in the little town. Not  indoors, in the damp outside.  Virtually impossible, but great for wet in wet and slow drying time (hairdryer needed really)

Eeek flowers! Done on a wet balcony, with Hazel's guidance.  Exercise in light against dark or to be posh, counterchange. Colours used Quinacradone Red/Permanent Rose/ adding ultra for shadows. Greens were sap green and ultra and darkened with burnt umber. The pot was raw umber. Hills were to be soft and wafty (Hazel's words) very technical.

Another balcony painting. Clouds floating between the hills.  Hard top and soft at the base.  Hazel asked us to bring a new colour, to me, transparent turquoise, really for the water on  sunny days.  You will notice this colour more on the second painting of the hills.  Here sap green was also used and perm rose to grey the mix. 

The above two panoramic paintings were our own choice of colours.  And Hazel suggested we checked out each others to see which versions we liked.  The top one is predominantly yellow ochre or was it Indian yellow, I can't remember and winsor violet.  The second aureolin, prussian and alizarin.

This is definitely the transparent turquoise (winsor and newton)  and I stress here, Very Staining and Very Intense.  In fact very difficult to work with, there is no going back! Don't think I will be keeping this in my bag of colours. It is a beautiful colour though.  This painting did not dry until I took it to my room.  The paper didn't cockle as both sides were damp with the moist air.  Mainly Turquoise and Permanent Rose and Sap Green.  Waves were done with white.

Here endeth the paintings done with Hazel's influence.  I hope you have enjoyed seeing them and can try and appreciate the conditions they were painted in.  The next tranche will be the work I did in the afternoons and some of my personal sketches, done in my khadi pad.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


I've had a wonderful 11 days with Hazel in Italy along with 18 others.  It was a challenge for Hazel as well as us, as the weather couldn't have been much worse, grey, damp and cold. But boy did she manage to find some subjects to challenge and inspire us. Colour mixes for grey days were interesting and workshops indoors when we were unable to paint en plein air.  A keen bunch to say the least, mixed abilities but all progressing under her gentle but constructive tuition.

I will post some of my versions of her work with a little explanation. Later I will post the paintings I did in the afternoon, without her as a safety net!  And also some of my sketches done before breakfast and in my room after dinner (no one was venturing out for the nightlife oh dear).  I did over 30 paintings, so will obviously pick out the best!  I am no fool. And perhaps do a few posts.

I will start with paintings done in Verona. First 3 are 16 x 10, and are in the style of Hazel Soan. I will give you the main colour combinations as some are quite interesting.

A reddish bridge with strange thingies on the top.  Clouds Aliz and F.Ultra, Bridge Burnt Sienna and Winsor Violet two colours I would never have thought of.

Section of the famous Arena where the Opera is performed en plein air.  Hazel thought the arena wouldn't make an interesting composition but still wanted to paint the main thing in Verona. Painted mainly in Indian Yellow, Alizarin and Prussian or Winsor Blue.

This was a really difficult subject, especially as the police were having to park around us! We didn't get booked for taking up their parking spaces!  Look at all those windows and shutters. Camera has distored the lines but must confess it wasn't my best drawing, and the people are not in correct proportion.  Was glad to get this one over with!!!  Main wall was in Raw Umber and and F.Ultra.  Raw umber is a colour I don't often use.