Friday, 29 July 2016

What a Week! (and Painting a Lily)

Phew! What a truly exciting couple of weeks it has been. With the Squirrel Website already proving popular, the tutorials and Technique Tool Box tip videos going down pretty well, and the first of the sketchbook in practice exercises going online, it's been a happy whirwind of a month. Many of the new members have said that being a member is like a lovely get together. Just how I wanted it to be. 

Thank you to everyone who has dropped by, left a lovely message, signed up for the Freebie or taken out a subscription. 

Elsewhere, the You Tube channel has had something of a boost, with lots of new subscribers, eagerly waiting for the preview tip video for the next tutorial. It's been such a surprise, as just now I only have two videos on the channel. I'll have to make sure I keep adding plenty of lovely content, so everyone has something new to watch when they come on by.

Here's the trailer I made for the channel.

Speaking of which, the next tutorial for August will be a delicate pink lily bud. It's quite a challenge to capture white and pale flowers without them looking overly muddy, or flat. The disappearing edges are the most tricky, as without enough colour here to give them an obvious placement, the flower can have little shape or form against the white paper. A lovely challenge, even for complete beginners to tackle.

Here's the Pink Lily Bud, with some insights into it's progression

Starting with a sketchbook exercise to get the colours and tone right.

Generally, with all my botanical paintings, I start with a worked up sketch in my sketchbook. This one was actually done some time ago as a demonstration for one of my workshop classes, just to give a general look at how to tackle the subject. As I go, I make loads of colour 'dabs' in the margin, and if I remember, jot down the initials of the colours I used, and in which order I applied them.

It's a good idea to start with the palest colour, or hue that you can see and work up from there. In pale flowers, it's down to the shadow tones mostly, to bring forward all the dimension, forming the roundness of the subject. This can be very difficult as shadow tones tend to be quite grey. By deciding which colours I will need for the complete painting, I find I can mix naturally harmonious shadow mixes from these. But I won't spoil it for you, the rest is on the tutorial.

It was ages before I finally got the chance to work this little study into a final piece, and thought it would make a wonderful tutorial for students wanting to paint a pale flower.

Working the early washes and beginning to get the shape and form

My 'first wash' is actually a series of washes, to build up the whole piece to an even level of finish. Subsequent layers build up the initial layers to give a greater depth of tonal variation

The finished piece
After working wet-in-wet washes, the dry brush techniques can be deployed to really work up those fine details and surface textures. This one was an absolute pleasure to paint, and as it only took a couple of days to do, quite a quick little project.

Final thoughts: 

Last week, I was asked by the lovely Charlie O'Shields over at the amazing blog Doodlewash, to be a guest artist with the ever popular Guest Doodlewash series. It was a great honour and a lovely surprise to be asked, and be among so many wonderfully talented artists. In the interview, Charlie asked me about how I got into botanical painting, where I started, how I paint now, the kit I use, and what keeps me going. It was great to share my experience, and read back all the wonderful comments from the readers. Take a peek  

My happy badge of homour
Proud to have been Doodlewashed!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Lift Off...

Ta Dah! Oh my, what a busy week it's been here at Squirrel HQ, and there's an awfully big reason why that has been so. The new tuition website has reached lift off...

Visit the shiny new home of Squirrel HQ, the Botanical So Beautiful video tutorials website at

With huge thanks to my lovely web design group at
Design Image

The site launched, with very little fanfare on Wednesday (also my wedding anniversary), just to see how things went, (and to get any early glitches and gremlins out of the way). And boy, did it go! 

It's been something of an outrageous whirlwind, and you all know me, I'm never one to go over the top with the me, me, me thing, so I was very surprised how quickly the whole thing took off. It has been so delightful to welcome so many people to my new site,(it's been hard to keep up) and with lots of wonderfully supportive feedback emails from many of the new members, I really hope we all continue to have loads of fun with the tutorials for many years to come.  

Already, the Little Red Chili has gone down a storm, and the Technique Tool Box videos, offering lots of practical tips and advice are proving popular. In the production line are the new In Practice... Sketchbook, and tutorial project videos for July and August, so I've got a busy few weeks ahead of me here at Squirrel HQ.

Little Red Chili and Prickly Bramble Leaf videos from the You Tube Channel, are now available as full tutorials on the website.

It would be really lovely to see you over on the new website. To welcome everyone, there is a FREE package on offer, as well as all the usual Squirrel quirky style. I'm not going to ramble on, telling you all about it, I'll let you all see for yourself. 

So, grab a cuppa, a nice slice of cake or a favourite biccie, settle down and have a good browse. I would love to hear what you think, but, be kind, it's a bit like my first day at school. Fun times indeed. An enormous thank you and huge hugs to absolutely everyone who has supported me on this one. You are genuinely wonderful.

Normal service will, of course resume once the pace slows down a little. We'll all have a get together here in a few days time, for a quiet regroup and a nice little chat.