Thursday, June 26, 2008

Batik workshop with children

June 19th
Now and again I get to do a workshop in this medium with school children, usually as part of the Nature In Art Museum and Art Gallery’s educational programme.

I had 34 eleven year olds to introduce to the fun medium of batik for the day. They were split into two groups of 17 and had about 2 hours each.

Our project for the day was to incorporate a design using their own drawing of bugs and fish with using and mixing the primary colours (red, yellow and blue).
Several days of preparation included one day of trying numerous ideas/ways to achieve this project within the 2 hour time limit. I finally hit on what I thought would be a good ‘line of attack’ and on the day was pleased to see it worked well, with the kids seeming to enjoy playing with this medium, which none of them had tried before.

This is the demo piece I used.

First we traced our animal onto the cotton then using tjantings (batik pens for drawing with melted wax) waxed in the outline. Next repeating bands of the primary colours were painted onto the cotton with brushes going vertically over the design. The frames were then tilted to allow the colours to run into each other creating our secondary colours of orange, green and purple.

Then the cotton was dried and more waxing done to create leaf and other shapes in the background and patterns on the animal itself. Then more repeating bands of the primary colours were painted over the design, only this time diagonally. Another quick few tilts of the frames got the colours mixing and blending again. Now we had not only the effect of the first application of colour but also the double effect of putting another lot of colours on top (which affect the colours underneath) and also the effects of blending as the frames are tilted. This gave us lots of random mixings of red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple and also where they all mixed together…. the tertiary colours of browns.

It was quite a full on day, but the kids were lovely and well behaved, making it a good fun experience. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Up coming workshops

Art in Action

Under the umbrella of the Nature In Art Museum and Art Gallery, I shall be doing two batik workshops at this event on Friday 18th July.
I have never been to this event before, but have known of it for a few years, so it is an exciting prospect for me to be there. And I am looking forward to it very much.

Gloucester Arts and Crafts Summer School

This is organized by the Gloucester Arts and Crafts Group and will be from 21 – 25 July. There are 2,3 and 5 day workshops available in many aspects of art and craft such as calligraphy, drawing, pastels, watercolours, ceramics, glass engraving, chair making, mosaics and much more.
Last year’s event had to be cancelled due to the awful flooding and problems created by it that the area suffered. Hopefully this year will be far more encouraging weather-wise. Also last year would have been my first time at this event, so I was bitterly disappointed that circumstances prevented me from teaching there.
As I was to have done last time, this year I shall be tutoring a five-day workshop on batik. If you are interested in booking a place, please leave a message in my guestbook and I will send you the contact details for the organizer.

Drawing Workshop – Heron gallery

I have been asked back to do another workshop at the Heron gallery in Bath, only this time it will be drawing. The two-day workshop on 2 & 3 August will be aimed at the beginner, unconfident and nervous artist’s that have trouble getting a drawing going or knowing a easy way to start. I will show the various techniques I use for drawing with much emphasis on the practical. If you are interested in booking onto this workshop please contact the gallery via the link to their website at or emailing info@

Workshop with BAS

If you have not heard of BAS, you must visit his website, please look in the Links listings to the right of this page. He is an artist of worldwide reknown; a very inspirational artist with an incredible sense and use of colour. I was very pleased and honoured that he asked me to tutor an art course alongside him that will be held October 10 - 12 at the Nature In Art Museum and Art Gallery in Gloucestershire.
The course will be 3 days and is limited to twelve people. It will be a very creative few days and we very much look forward to your company at this wonderful location.
For details and to enroll please contact Nature In Art at or telephone 01452 731422 or click on this link

Autumnal Silk Painting with the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project

On Saturday 25th October I shall once again be holding a silk painting workshop in conjunction with The Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project. I really enjoy the workshops I do for this project, as it involves a foray onto the Downs where Mandy Leivers, the Biodiversity Educational Officer for this project, takes us on a walk of discoveries. Her well trained and observant eyes find the tiniest of treasures and her enthusiast imparting of knowledge about all that we see is inspirational.
After meeting at the zoo, there's a quick walk up to the Downs to have a look around and gain inspiration with shapes and colours of the Autumnal season before returning to the zoo to do our silk paintings.
This workshop is suitable for everyone, including the artistically challenged. If you are interested in booking a place on this workshop please visit the Avon Gorge and Down Wildlife Project website (See Links list on right) and click on 'Contact Us' for Mandy's contact details.

National Exhibition of Wildlife Art

I have sent off my work to NEWA and await the verdict on the judging to see if any of them has got in. This year I have submitted these three pieces…

Tutuila - American Samoa - oil

Great expectations - oil

Hare and Hedgerow - Gouache

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bristol Festival of Nature

7 -8 June

Once again this year I held a workshop at this wonderful event in Bristol. This time I was in a tent/marquee down in the Millenium Square amongst the others; in past years the workshops and talks were held in a building close to the square, which felt quite seperate from the main body of the event.

The two days of the event were perfect weather-wise… lovely and hot, clear cloudless skies and a good feeling of summer with kids splashing about in the water features of the Harbourside area, people walking around in suntops and shorts, ice-creams and music.

My drawing workshop was on the Sunday morning, so had the best part of the day, when it was coolest, to teach in, with the rest of the day to explore and wander myself. There were about a dozen people who came along to the workshop and their ages ranged from children to adults.
I took them stage by stage through the drawing of a red squirrel using the method I have described before in earlier posts; starting with basic shapes to get the sizing and proportions right and then building up on that.

It was only an hour long, so I had to move them along at a good pace in their drawing. Everyone kept up and they all turned out some good drawings. It can be difficult to produce something you can be happy with when you are not only being shown, perhaps, a new way to approach your drawing, but then have less than an hour to actually do it in. So they all did very well. I had some good feedback directly from some of the participants and from the organizers since the event, and have been invited back next year.

For the workshop I had three volunteers who were a great help in getting me set up before the workshop and clearing up after. My thanks go to them and also to the Education Dept at the zoo for assisting me; as ever a great help by storing and providing clipboards, pencils, paper etc and a flipchart stand.

After the workshop I wandered around the rest of the event and was really pleased I didn’t clash with Dr. Kate Evans, who was doing a talk on her research on young bull elephants in the Okavango Delta in Botswana that I particularly wanted to hear. It was a very interesting talk and I could easily have sat there for a longer talk by her on this subject. I urge you to visit the website for her research……

The Festival is a great event, with lots of interesting things to see and do… if you live in the area and have never been… don’t miss it next year!

The Wildlife Art Society Exhibition

This exhibition was held on 23 May - 1 June in a marquee in the grounds of the Nature In Art Museum and Art Gallery. These are the three pieces of work I had showing in it.

It is not a juried exhibition, so I didn't have to wait to hear what had or had not got accepted; the society aims to give equal exhibition space to amateurs and professional wildlife artists alike.

I had intended to submit work so that I could ‘go for’ the top award of excellence in the show, which needs four very specific pieces meeting the criteria of the categories given.
So I changed the Hedgerow painting to fit into one of the categories by adding a couple of hares and the title of the hyenas piece was altered also.
However my fourth and final piece, a batik of an Asiatic lion head, went horribly wrong at the 11th hour and I had to withdraw it and myself from that particular award. I was very annoyed with myself as I feel that I should be aiming for this award if I am going to enter this exhibition now. However I was very pleased to find that two of my other three paintings received awards. The hyenas won a silver citation and the heron won the Founders Award, which is for the best piece of work depicting British Wildlife. So not a bad result at all in the end.

I did a stint of demo-ing for two days…. Which consisted on sitting in the marquee painting; the idea being that the viewing public could watch artists work and talk to them. It all helps add an approachable aspect to the show and hopefully encourages people to learn more about art and get painting themselves. I enjoyed those couple of days, meeting other artists and those just interested in looking rather than doing; I got to chat to some lovely folks. Most particularly I enjoyed it as life at the present seems to be such that I get little or no painting done at home. So to sit for two days and do more painting than I have done in the last 6 months …. Was sheer pleasure.

The downer on the whole event for me, was discovering at the end, as I was helping to pack up the exhibition, that one of my prints has gone missing, with no record of a sale!