Welcome to Polly's Blog

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

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.