Painting Loose

We have been really busy over the last month with work and other commitments. I’ll write more fully about these in the Autumn.  Over the last weekend we went back to Spurn Point for the Spurn Bird Observatory’s migration festival. It was a real festival and we had to wear wrist bands for entry – though the age group was at least 3 times that of the usual music festivals.  It was mainly a field with a marquee with stalls and food and a lot of guided birding walks.

We had a fabulous weekend, learned a lot, met some lovely people and saw lots of birds.

One of the other options available was a ‘plein air’ art session, that is one where the painting is done outside. I took advantage of this and really enjoyed it. The leader/teacher/artist was Darren Woodhead, a graduate of the Royal College of Art who produces  stunning paintings of birds and wildlife. He only uses water colours and very scarily doesn’t draw his subjects either – he paints straight onto the paper and always from life. So 10 of us trudged up to the beach with him and settled in a semi-circle round him. He is very engaging and encouraging and handed us all we needed, paper, brush, an ‘easel’ and 3 colours of paint. These were ultramarine, raw sienna and burnt umber. Anyone with any knowledge of paints will know that these are not your usual selections.  He encouraged us to play with the colour options and also to try applying paint to wet paper.  This was so far from my comfort zone and really quite daunting.

Very loose water colour painting of the beach at Kilnsea.
Kilnsea Beach

I did however create a sort of sea scape and it wasn’t too bad. I was so focused on working wet on wet, I did the whole thing that way – giving some blurred groynes and rocks. It was interesting seeing the paint move with the water and then of course dry in the sun and the wind.

I know that I need to loosen up my painting and that I also need to use larger brushes than I do. Having got very comfortable using coloured pencils, I know that I was basically doing the same thing but with paint. So large floppy round brushes have now been purchased and I am looking forward to challenging myself to be a little more loose and creative – starting this afternoon.

Watercolour painting of Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire at dawn with an albatroll flying over.
Albatross at Dawn over Bempton Cliffs by Darren Woodhead.

Just as an example of Darren’s work, he and his son stopped off at Bempton cliffs on their way home to  Scotland and he produced this image of the albatross at dawn this morning. He posted this on twitter so I am presuming it is ok to use it here.

Just look at that sky!


  1. Hello Lisa, nice to hear from you again! How very lucky to have had that painting experience! Watercolours are too difficult for me, but when I have tried them I love painting wet on wet and seeing the colours and outlines blur and soften. I love your painting, you’ve obviously got the knack!
    I am also going to start some art classes this Friday. Fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Gilly. I hope you are well and the temperatures are now a little more bearable? rt classes sound like a lot of fun and always helpful. I had plans for some this autumn but we are possibly on the move so am reluctant to commit to them so far. I have paid for some video content online and it has been really helpful – along with lots of free stuff on youtube of course, but I don’t think you can beat the real thing.


  2. Hello again! Well, the price of the art classes here in Posadas aren’t so steep at 10 euros per month! And yes, the temperatures are more bearable now, around 28 degrees and we actually had some heavy rain yesterday!!


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