Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My 2014 review July to September

Inham Nook allotments
12" x 16" £795

Welcome to the third instalment of my busy year - the weather continued to be pretty fantastic the whole summer long. It's lovely to see these sunny paintings at this time of year and remember that we have all that sunshine and those long light evenings to look forward to again soon.
The painting above was a demo piece at a plein air workshop in Nottingham which we based at a fantastic allotments. That was a great day, and I could find a subject at an allotments any time of the year. Definitely one of my recurring subjects these last twenty years.

In July I took part in Pintar Rapido, a two day plein air painting event in London. If I remember rightly there were around 300 artists taking part, painting on the streets of Kensington and Chelsea all day Saturday, and then framing the painting before the one day exhibition which took place on Sunday. Manic really, but good fun, especially as I knew so many of the other artists there. Always fun chatting to passers-by too when painting a busy street scene like this. 

Duke of York square, Chelsea
Private collection

This painting of the market in Chelsea is another example of where I've been stretching and challenging myself this year. At 22" x 24" it was the largest plein air piece I had tackled until then, all in one day. I was happy that it found a buyer at the exhibition the next day.

The long stretch of summer
Private collection

For this one my inspiration was beautiful St Mawes again in Cornwall. I painted it in early summer and then entered it into the annual RSMA (Royal Society of Marine Artists) exhibition and happily it was accepted, together with one of my Staithes paintings from June.

A summer stroll £850

In August we were extremely fortunate to be able to spend three weeks on the island of Bréhat in France. It was three glorious relaxing weeks of sunshine and sketching and painting. I only wished I had a friend to paint with me, as I'd loved spending time painting with Lori Putnam the previous summer. I missed her, but of course I had the family to spend time with when I wasn't painting.

Tout ce qui flotte
8" x 16" £695

Mogador boys bathing
36" x 38" £2500

I would say this was my most ambitious studio painting of the year, an enormous (to me) 36" x 38" canvas that I stretched myself. The framed size of this piece is 43" x 45", and it made a nice big statement in my autumn exhibition at Patchings. It is of course based on reference from my trip to Essaouira in March, where I watched and painted the local boys diving into the harbour.

Regatta at Falmouth
Private collection

We got back from France just in time to travel down to Cornwall to see the tall ships in dock at Falmouth before setting sail for London.
It was a terrific experience to paint there and I got a lot of work done in three days. However, it was probably the busiest place I have ever attempted to paint! (the Queen's pageant was of course a sea of people, but we were separated from the throng being up on the bridge) This brings it's own set of problems, especially finding a viewpoint.
It was also a wildly busy and exciting subject!

Painting at Falmouth in August

Tall ships at falmouth
Private collection

Tall ships
12" x 16" £850

September issue The Artist magazine

In August I was thrilled to see my painting on the cover of The Artist magazine. It certainly has had it's fair share of exposure, that painting! 

Now another big project that I'd been working on throughout the summer months was my two competition entries for the Buxton Spa prize. This was a brand new UK plein air competition that I'd heard about on twitter back in April. I was in France at the time and I remember reading the information on the website and thinking 'oh I'm really busy and I'll be away all of August but I've got to do this. I'll make sure I fit the necessary days into my diary, I'll make it happen'. That's the way my mind works actually 'I'd love to do this - is it really possible to do this? - I don't know how or when I can do this - never mind that, I'll find out as I go along - I'm going to do this'!

The key to actually doing it of course is being organised and putting all the necessary dates in the diary to ensure that I'd had time to prepare equipment and stretch my canvasses, register and have my canvasses stamped, paint on site for three separate days, finish the two painting entries in the studio for however long necessary, produce an entire book of sketches which I also entered into the competition, arrange to have the frames made, paint and wax the frames in my studio, fit the paintings and fill in the entry forms, and make sure I'd done all of the above before leaving for France in early August!

Walking through buttercups
Winner of the Buxton Spa prize
Private collection

Back home in September it was time for the preview evening of the Buxton Spa prize exhibition, an event which I was really looking forward to. Buxton is several hours drive away and I didn't fancy driving back late at night so I'd booked a lovely room for myself above the tearooms at No 6 The Square, which was quite a treat I was excited about!
I never could have imagined that I was about to win the £5000 first prize for my painting 'Walking through buttercups, Harpur Hill'!

Prizegiving and exhibition preview evening
with Keith Wilkinson and Rob Wilson

Painting 'Walking through buttercups'

Wow, that was a really special night! After the prize giving the winning artists and judges (including the artists Ken Howard RA and Harold Riley) and organisers all went for a fantastic meal. One of the judges had bought my painting too. I was on cloud nine as you might imagine! Yes, a very special time indeed.

Buxton Opera House
24" x 30" £1800
My other painting for the competition was of the majestic opera house. Again, pretty enormous for plein air at 24" x 30". I painted this two separate days on location and then another couple of days in the studio. I was really happy with the resulting painting, I think it's very fresh and painterly and it's so easy to become tight when painting subjects where the drawing really matters like architecture and figures. Another painting which I think was breaking new ground for me.

A few weeks later I was painting on the Norfolk broads for a couple of days, as part of another new plein air event 'A brush with the broads'. The weather was gorgeous again, I was so lucky for the whole summer. I always thought I wouldn't paint a windmill (bit chocolate boxy) but fell in love with the solidity of this strong brick red structure, and it's reflection in the water. Passers by told me it was a shame (for my painting) that they'd removed the sails for essential repairs, but I disagree. I loved it exactly as it was.

Horsey Mill
Private collection

I couldn't stay for the whole event as I was flying off to Venice but I framed and left two paintings for the exhibition. I was delighted to learn that the painting of Horsey Mill had sold and that the painting of the boat house had won me a prize!
It was a gorgeous £200 brush bouquet from Rosemary brushes, how exciting was that?! 

I was certain that after such an amazingly successful year that would be the last prize I would win in 2014 for sure... I could hardly keep up with myself, goodness knows how you felt reading about the whirlwind events!

Boat house at Hickling Staithe

I love the boat house painting and subject, and I'm determined I will continue this theme with a studio painting. Sometimes when you're painting plein air you just know 'yes, this has got all the ingredients I need, and a dash of magic'. This was one of those days.

Now as if all of the above didn't make for enough activity for one summer, I was also busy preparing and framing around sixty paintings for my next solo exhibition. This was my newest, a gorgeous subject with a thrilling light effect. I painted this large oil on canvas in the studio, from a watercolour sketch in my sketchbook and some photos I'd taken earlier in the summer when I'd gone into Lincoln for a radio interview and was driving past this scene. Always be on the lookout because you never know where your next painting subject may be!

Gathered in the shade
Private collection 

If you are thinking that you'd like to take part in any of the events I've mentioned this year, take a look at my website. I've put links to all these events on the links page, and also I've listed all my forthcoming workshops and demos, and exhibitions that I've got coming up in 2015 so there may be something there of interest to you :-)


  1. Wonderful to hear about it all in your reviews Haidee-Jo. It is phenomenal how your year gained momentum as it went along. But not surprising considering how hard you work and how sparkling your paintings are! Hearty congratulations. Philippa

  2. Oh Haidee-Jo, what a year, I thought 2013 was exciting but you've topped it again. Thank you so much for sharing with us all. It's lovely to see your painting progress, not only how you are developing but the progress of HOW you paint. In Walking Through Buttercups, (a deserved winner)!, I thought perhaps with oils you would put the figure on top of the painting but you've left a space, a bit like watercolour. I was quite surprised and I will take that on board! Also, you have not needed to fill in the landscape down to the bottom edge of the canvass. Your teaching is wonderful, thank you. If I lived closer I would offer to be your secretary and framer just so I could see them closer and leave you more time ..... I don't know how you fit it all in!!? But untill I migrate your way I will continue to enjoy 'Charlie and his crossaint' on my kitchen wall.
    With love
    Joy xx

    1. Ahh, thanks Joy. I can hardly believe it myself, I thought 2012 was incredible and it's been brilliant ever since! Of course I might have a pretty calm end of year review one of these days when I've had an uneventful year... but I don't expect it will be this year with so much already going on! X


Thank you for your words!

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