Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Website returns

Just to let you know that my website is live again.

And here's a nice snowy picture to celebrate!

December blues

Oh dear, my website is down temporarily and the associate email,
 So a quick message to say that if you want to contact me please comment here or message me on my facebook page where I can talk to you.

Will let you know when the website is live again.  Thank you for your patience!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Mike Leigh's "Mr Turner" turn or turn-off?

I enjoyed this film.  I was convinced by it from start to finish.  I think that Mike Leigh understood the following truth... that much as we would like our famous artists to be prancing about with a paint box producing prettiness very politely, the reality is often very different.  That goes for today and it goes for the 18th and 19th century too.  Artistic creation can be passionate, radical, raw, visceral, in fact arguably the best art is all these things.

Turner was gutsy, driven, he grappled with his subjects, wanted to get as much out of a sky or a seascape as his materials would allow, would not settle for second best.  Spit, eggshells, a rub with a dirty finger, all were grist to the mill in trying to achieve his vision. At least that is what I gather from this portrayal.

I was never particularly a fan of Turner’s art, didn’t really understand him, until now.  Leigh has made me appreciate the man as a passionate genius, a visionary.  As such he was a precursor of the modern non-representational artists, the Tracey Emins who many love to critique and mock for their apparent lack of “talent”. 

Turner, Leigh tells us, was an ordinary bloke verging on the uncouth, but who was consumed by his passion to create with watercolour and oils and he didn’t care a damn what people thought.  Moreover, he was a man of his time in a world where women were treated as chattels and he, along with many men of the time, treated his women badly.  (It is well documented that the great Charles Dickens was guilty of unforgivable cruelty towards his wife, portraying her as insane, so that he could enjoy the company of his mistress unhindered.)  That’s how it was.  Do we want to ignore this or face it?

But Leigh does not shy away from shocking reality and authenticity.  The same honest treatment and wish for authenticity that shows Turner’s animalistic importuning of his landlady up against the bookcase and documents graphically the same poor woman’s worsening psoriasis, also gives us the amazing scenes of the fishing port of Margate, Dutch women strolling along a dyke at dawn, wonderful atmospheric sunsets and the panoramic portrayal of the Fighting Temeraire. 

If art is there to help us appreciate the beauty and complexity of our world and film is an art form, which it certainly is, then Mike Leigh has surely succeeded in opening our eyes on the particular world of J.M.W.Turner and his art.  

Definitely a star turn for me.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Autumn inspirations...

I have been sharing my work on facebook but need to catch up here on the blog and show you some paintings I've been doing inspired by Autumn, which for me is the most wonderful season for finding inspiration.  I guess it's the colours that inspire most, the leaves, fruits, flowers providing a panoply of delicious shades and tones.

A loosener exercise from last Autumn

But it's also the special atmosphere that excites the senses... well no, excites is the wrong word as it is all so mellow and relaxed, as if Nature has done her work for this year and is breathing a long sigh of relief and settling down for a long snooze.

And it's the special light, of course.  Low sun sending shafts of warm light through hedges and wooded areas and trees throwing long shadows across russet coloured undergrowth.

I took a walk along the short stretch of the Grantham canal near our home and saw the fruits and flowers in the hedges.  I have countless photos of tangled hedges with hawthorn, sloe, blackberries, elder berries.  This time I was taken by the bindweed flowers which are not welcome in our garden but which shine out like white stars in the hedges.

I put some of what I saw into a composition of leaves, flowers and fruits.  I masked out the flowers and some stalks, then mixed up loads of the autumn colours that I love and went in with a first wash of yellows, reds, pinks and browns

My drawing

First wash and some negative shapes found

I had masked out some shapes representing the holes in the hedge where the light was filtering through.  I love trying to create that illusion.  I laid one or two more washes over the background trying to keep the illusion of other vegetation behind the main subject.  Finally I painted the flowers with shadow coloured washes.  Hope you like the result!

Final Painting

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Why do we do art?...and similar questions.

The recent news articles about the winner of the £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize, Rose Wylie have really made me think.

If one of the reasons for producing art is to shock and make people ask questions, well then this time it worked!  I had never heard of Rose Wylie or seen any of her work and so seeing her prize winning painting was something of a surprise and a "sit up and take notice!" moment for me.

This is her winning painting "PV Windows and Floorboards"

I've been looking around and researching her, looking at her art on line, reading articles and watching videos of her being interviewed.  Fascinating stuff if only because she is 80 years old and is being described as an up and coming artist.

What intrigues me is her utter unconcern about how her work is viewed and how she has all these years kept to her particular vision of what she wants to create as art despite up til now being largely ignored and her paintings not selling. She appears not to be interested in putting over a message or communicating or creating something which would be described in traditional terms as beautiful.

So I ask why do we do art?

More musings to come...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

DVD available again on Amazon

Apologies to anyone who has been trying to order my watercolour Techniques DVD from Amazon.  The technical problem has been sorted and the DVD is now available again.  

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Anemones step by step project...continued

Bunch of Anemones Instructions for painting

I hope you enjoy this step by step if you have a go at painting it.
I love sharing the joys of using techniques to "tame" this wonderful medium and use it to express the beauty of the natural forms around us.

My future plan is to start an series of on line courses.  You would get A4 drawings, full instructions and most importantly FEEDBACK on your work for maximum learning potential.

So look out for these!

Reference photo

My drawing


-Watercolour paper 140not 11x15 inches
(I used Saunders
-A board with your paper fixed to it with masking tape all around the edge.
-Watercolour Brushes Size 6, 8 10
-Masking Fluid and a small old brush to apply it
2B Pencil and a putty rubber

Raw sienna
Quinacridone gold
Winsor blue
Cobalt Blue
Winsor Violet
Permanent Rose
Quinacridone Magenta
Quinacridone Red

Step One
I drew the design on to the watercolour paper set at landscape. I then put a line of masking fluid approx. half a centimetre thick round the edge of the flowers in order to protect them from the first wash. I also masked out some small sparkly spots in the glass vase. While the masking was drying I prepared my colours for the first wash.
I made large wells of aureolin and raw sienna lightly mingled, permanent rose, Winsor violet, cobalt blue. The paint was single cream consistency. I wetted the paper with clean water everywhere except the main body of the flowers so that any colour would only spread where the water was.
Ignoring the drawn lines, I started by dropping in yellows top left and down through the vase and over the table. I then dropped in the blues and violets using a weaving action and allowing the colours to blend on the paper. Once the colours were in I lifted the board and allowed the colours to mix and run one into the other. I let this first wash dry completely. Then I removed the masking on the flowers.

TIP! Cover your masking brush with soap to protect it.

Step Two
I made wells of the yellows, a green well made with Winsor blue and Quinacridone gold loosely mingled, and separate ones of violet, red and pink in order to paint the flowers. I wet each flower with clean water and stroked in the thick colour leaving some areas unpainted to depict light.
The water makes the colour blend naturally. One or two white flowers were left unpainted. I dropped some yellows and greens into the leafy areas and let them blend. I allowed this to dry completely

Step 2

Step Three
Studying closely the reference photo, I used thicker mixes of each flower colour to make one petal stand out against another. I painted in some folds and creases within one of the unpainted flowers to make a pale violet flower. With a mix of cobalt and a tiny touch of pink I painted in the creases in the white flowers. For the flower centres, I first laid in some cobalt blue, and then dropped in a dark mix made with Winsor blue, pink and a touch of green. The little stamens were painted with the dark mix.
I painted the frilly leaves in the centre by painting the negative spaces around them with darker green and then leaves around the outside were painted.
For the vase, I made a mix of Winsor blue and a little gold and aureolin to make a blue green colour. I wet the vase with clean water and then dropped the thick colour in round the edge and allowed it to travel into the centre. I stroked in some stalk shapes wet in wet with a thick green mix. All this was allowed to dry.

TIP! Try and leave some edges unpainted
on the flowers to give an effect of light.

Step 3

TIP! When painting the vase, concentrate your colour round the outside to keep the centre light to make it look more “glassy” and see through.

Step Four
The vase needed another layer of paint. Once again I gently wet the whole vase and a very thick mix of the dark blue/green colour was dropped in around the edge and at the bottom to depict the thick glass. I let the colour spread naturally. With some yellowy green I painted in some negative shapes among the stalks in the vase to make them stand out. Some more negative shapes were painted among the frilly leaves. I removed the masking on the vase to reveal some sparkles on the glass.
Finally it was time to lay in a second wash behind the flowers to make then stand out with more impact. For this I made up some Winsor blue, some violet, some magenta and then wet the background on the top half of the painting right the way to the edge of the paper. I then dropped in the colours up against the flowers and weaved them to the edge of the paper and allowed them to blend by tipping the board this way and that. I left the wash alone without manipulating it so it stayed fresh and clean. I allowed this to dry.
I laid in the suggestion of a cast shadow and a reflection from the vase with a mix of cobalt and a touch of pink and wetting the paper lightly first.

TIP! You can do the background wash in
two parts if this is easier, making a break
in the middle at the top.

To see me actually painting similar projects have a look at this link about my DVD (£15 via PayPal or Amazon)  

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Back home and September means a new beginning...

I have finally got around to posting here after our trip to the USA.

We had a great time in Seattle and Port Townsend, WA.  We spent time with our daughter and son in law and, as it was our first ever trip to the USA, went around looking in awe at the tremendous sense of space and hugeness in that big country.

Now back to work and art and first of all THE BOOKS!  Tax returns do not fill in themselves and so this is what is taking my time at the moment.


September is nearly with us with all it's sense of a new "term", a new beginning, new uniform, a new series of "Strictly" on the telly and all know what I mean!

So I thought I would upload a step by step for anyone who wants to have a go at something new. Colourful Anemones!

This is actually one of the step by steps I have published in a leaflet with the written instructions, colours to use etc..

For today though here are the photo and drawing to have a look at and an example of the finished painting.

I'll upload the different stages to help you paint this next time.

By the way, the glass vase is one of the projects that I paint on my DVD.  So there's a reason to send for it!


Sunday, 3 August 2014

DVD shipping suspended for two weeks.

DVD shipping.

Just wanted to let you know that all deliveries of the DVD "Watercolour Techniques by Ann Mortimer" will be suspended as from tomorrow 4 August until the 18 August 2014 as I'll be out of the country. Orders received up to 8pm today will be dispatched tomorrow. Otherwise deliveries will start again on 18 Aug. Thanks for your understanding! 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Attraction of opposites...

The lovely sunny weather just draws you out to take photos in the garden.  Today I was taken with the Etoile Violette clematis that grows over the shed and took a photo of a sunlit spray.  Under it and totally by happy accident there is a crocosmia plant growing and the complementary colours are fabulous together.

Today I had the idea of combining them in a painting.

So I'm drawing the scene first as the crocosmia will need to be masked out carefully to show up brightly against the background. To use masking fluid, you need to have a drawing to follow.

Etoile Violette clematis

Another quite complicated painting but no one said it was going to be easy!  Purple is not the most straightforward colour but glorious when it works.  I'm looking forward to dropping in bright orange in the background washes to represent the crocosmia and of course there will be loads of negative painting to do.  Lovely!

Monday, 14 July 2014

In production mode again...the paint is flowing!

If I haven't posted here recently, it's because, for a change I've been busy PAINTING!

I thought I would share some of the work produced.

First of all the Sissinghurst lilies which were not without their problems, but I overcame most of them.  I was painting this some of the time in the seaside apartment and being wonderfully distracted by the sea view.  Not an excuse, you  understand!

Painting the Lilies

I was pleased with the end result although I realised halfway through that I had got bogged down in an over detailed background.  I simplified it as best I could, and this included sponging out and water being poured on it!  and here is the finished result.  

Lilies...finished painting

I then decided that I should finish the Clematis Montana painting started in April.  And that was quite enjoyable too.  

Clematis Montana and Ivy

Those ivy leaves were good fun to do.

And then the day before yesterday my eye was caught by the buttery coloured Day Lilies that were soaking up the sun in the garden.  So I took some photos and one of them had the light effect I was looking for where the tops of the flowers were bleached out by the very strong sunshine.  I imagined that against a dark background and was inspired.  Isn't it always the same, that you wait months for inspiration and then several inspiring subjects come along at once, just like buses!

This is what inspired me

My Painting finished yesterday

I was encouraged by some pals on facebook to do a looser less finished version and so I did.

Hope you like this little gallery...

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Sissinghurst, an artist's delight...

Even flower paintings can have a sense of narrative; they can tell a story and invite the viewer to imagine being in the scene enjoying the moment.

When I saw these lilies next to a welcoming shady corner complete with table and chairs, I couldn’t resist taking several photos and enjoying the knowledge that this would make an interesting painting.

The scene was at Sissinghurst, in the famous white garden created by Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson.  There are people there still who continue to nurture and emulate the couple’s sense of artistry and creative genius, as the lilies had been cleverly placed to create a tableau and a certain atmosphere.

Here’s my drawing, which I enjoyed making.  Lilies are wonderful subjects to draw, so generous and open and creating beautiful forms.  They are almost my favourite flower...after hollyhocks, daisies, irises, etc...!

There was a fig tree forming a backdrop to the scene.  Lots of detail and opportunities for negative painting!  I would have to outline the leaf forms and make the sense of depth apparent, but then I would need to subdue all this so that the "show off" lilies would stand out and take centre stage.  My only regret is that there was no chink of sunshine making its way into the scene at the time of day I was there.

But we will see where this goes...

Apricots and cream...

Here is the Irises painting I started at Keyworth.  I was quite pleased with it and thought I would show you the finished effect.

Apricot Irises

The main challenge was the colour of the irises which was a sort of apricot, a creamy base with orange and pink in it but some blue as well. 

The other potential problem was the right hand iris which might have drawn the attention of the viewer away from the focal point which I suppose has to be the top left hand iris with the eye taking in the largest iris on the way.

Anyway, I enjoyed getting back into painting again with this and my beloved irises in general.  It has been a long troublesome time with a dearth of  inspiration to get me going.  But I know I'm not alone in experiencing this.  

It would be so nice to know what you think!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Getting into the mood for Irises...

Was working on two iris paintings yesterday, one was a sketch to get back into the mood for irises and to remind myself of their quirky shapes and forms.  I have a sizeable collection of photos that I've taken in the garden over the years.  Some years have been better than others and our garden didn't yield this year.

I use the Cayeux irises catalogues for invaluable reference ( for which I have permission.

So here is yesterday's work...

This one is called Aurelie.

There's a way to go on this one of the apricot coloured irises.  I painted some of this at a demo I did for Keyworth art club last week.  The jury is still out on the composition.  I have made the right hand iris very blurred using wet in wet washes in an attempt to stop it competing with the left hand dominant flower.

Today I will work on the biggest foreground flower to make it stand out and see where that will take us.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Making my first DVD...SFP Newsletter article

Hi All,  I am writing this against the soothing sound of the waves breaking here at Sovereign Harbour...they are surprisingly big waves for such a lovely sunny day, the effect of a strong easterly breeze.

I thought I would share with you the piece I wrote for the SFP quarterly newsletter.  The story of the making of my DVD...

“The instruction is excellent and very clearly explained, with good filming of all stages (...) so that you are itching to have a go yourself”
So runs the review in the May edition of Leisure Painter of the DVD I recently released.  I can hardly believe that what had begun as a tentative idea sketched out on the back of an old painting was now a reality; because, sure enough, the DVD “Watercolour Techniques by Ann Mortimer” is out there and for sale on Amazon and on my website.

I have been sharing my way of painting with watercolour for ten years both in classes and on social media sites such as Facebook and my blog and people were asking me whether I had made a video.  It seems they wanted to actually see in real time how I did things like background washes and negative painting.

I was lucky enough to know someone involved in the creative industry (my son Steve) who had already filmed and edited videos.  And I had my spacious studio which turned out to be the (almost) perfect place for filming.  Between us we gathered together the necessary equipment, two cameras, tripods, microphones, lighting, laptops and video editing software.

We started out with the intention of filming short three minute snippets for YouTube, but soon realised that we needed more time and that a DVD was the best format.
We had noticed that the painting demonstrations on the market showed artists producing magical and masterful work but often not really explaining the theory and the principles behind the actions.  We thought that in our DVD we would try and bring a deeper understanding while demonstrating the techniques.

We had to map out the process and to impose a structure even before filming started.  Everyone knows that watercolour waits for no man (or woman) and wielding this dynamic and temperamental medium while trying to explain the whys and wherefores was a challenge.  We were only interested in producing something which would be useful and relevant and of good quality.

We used two main ways to bring clarity.  We set up a split screen situation with me explaining as the “talking head” and also we used an information panel where the important details about materials were there to be read on screen. 

There were difficulties!  many to do with the sound on the DVD.  With my studio not being purpose built and sound proofed, we became very aware of our surroundings.  It seemed everyone was out cutting their hedge or strimming their borders!  All the neighbourhood children were suddenly out in the garden, laughing and playing!

  Then I was suddenly required to become a presenter, talking, and preferably saying something that made sense, in front of a camera.  Not my main area of expertise!  There was also the not inconsiderable challenge of painting confidently while explaining difficult concepts.  Quite a taxing few days for both of us, but ultimately very satisfying and the sales of the DVD and the feedback we have received, including that great review in Leisure Painter,  make us think that it was a worthwhile undertaking.

“Watercolour Techniques by Ann Mortimer” has three full demonstrations lasting 1 hour 55 minutes and is available from my website and also from Amazon.  Price £15 plus post and packing.  There are three excerpts to watch on the website.

Hope you enjoyed reading that...
 Even though I am here looking out to sea in this wonderful situation, my mind is on more land based subjects, namely one of my favourite flowers, Irises.  They are floating my the moment and I 'm planning a series of paintings with them as my main subject.  Starting today...
I guess this might have something to do with the fact that I sold two iris paintings at the Chichester exhibition a couple of weeks ago.  Here's one of them...

Monday, 9 June 2014

Sales at Chichester and a stay of execution for the studio...

The Society of Floral Painters Chichester Exhibition came to an end this weekend and we went off to collect my unsold work.  Was so pleased to find that I had sold three out of the four paintings I submitted, plus some prints, cards, books and DVDs.

Stewarding with Suzanne, Sarah and Fiona at the SFP Chichester Exhibition

I had a great time stewarding on Saturday 24 May with Susan, Sarah and Fiona.  It was so good to be able to spend time among the lovely work on show, talk to visitors and to see Sarah Morrish demonstrating her botanical painting skills.  Thanks Sarah,  Suzanne and Fiona for being great company for the day.

It’s sometimes frustrating being up in the frozen North when there is so much happening here down South.  Spending time here on the South coast has been great for feeling more in touch with cultural aspects, not least of which is being able to visit some of the lovely National Trust gardens around East Sussex. 

The house sale was proving too difficult to organise and is no longer happening so I have my studio for a bit longer!  We hope to film another DVD at the end of the summer and I’m glad I will still have the perfect venue for filming.

Now I'm looking for ideas as to what to cover in this next DVD...any requests anyone?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

SFP Exhibition, the Oxmarket, Chichester starting Wednesday 21 May 2014.

We took four of my paintings, prints, cards, DVDs and books to the Oxmarket Centre of Arts in Chichester yesterday for the Society of Floral Painters Exhibition which starts on Wednesday 21 May 2014.

Always a bit of a struggle getting paintings, books, prints etc. to an exhibition, especially when it’s in the middle of a busy town centre, but it was a lovely day to take a drive along the South coast and we called in at beautiful Bosham on the way back for lunch.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

My DVD reviewed in Leisure Painter magazine...have you seen it?

Review of my DVD in the June issue of Leisure Painter magazine

Have you seen the review of my DVD in Leisure Painter this month?  It’s on Page 54 of the June issue and is very nice and positive...

”The instruction is excellent and very clearly explained, with good filming of all stages of the painting (...) so that you are itching to have a go yourself.”

Thank you Leisure Painter!

The web address where you can order the DVD at the end of the review is wrongly printed though.  So be sure to use this correct one:

To issues of a more domestic nature...our house is up for sale in West Bridgford and along with it my lovely studio!  It will be a wrench to leave both the house, which has been happy and sunny for our family, and the studio where I have had many moments of inspiration, joy and laughter with students who have come to my courses.

My studio

But in life if you do not keep moving forward, you go backwards, and I think it’s important to invite new adventures and challenges into your life in order to keep fresh and interested!

Painting is even more on the back burner now as I show people round the house and spend a lot of time tidying up!  But I feel the creative juices stirring nevertheless and I shall get into that studio this coming week.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Where has the time gone?...

I don't know what happened to the time between 8 March, the date of my last post and now.  Tempus fugit indeed!  

Well the Easter holidays happened and also a lot of activity around my new DVD.  I'm really pleased at how well it has been selling and copies have winged their way all over the world.

If you haven't ordered your copy yet, remember that it is now for sale on Amazon UK:

as well as through my website:

I notice that on the Amazon site, two lovely people have given the DVD a great review and I thank them warmly!

I heard the other day that one of the paintings I entered for this year's Patchings competition in the Artist category received a "highly commended".  Given the incredibly high standard of work exhibited at the Patchings June Exhibition every year, I am well pleased with that!

Highly Commended in the 2014 Patchings Competition
"Backlit Hellebores"

Despite all the good news, I haven't been in a very fertile place painting wise lately.  Perhaps it's because we are a bit unsettled at the moment as we are on the move.  Yes, moving house after 24 years!  Wish us luck!

But the other day I started a painting inspired by the Clematis Montana that is coming into flower as we speak.  Here's the drawing...

Saturday, 8 March 2014

My free Clematis Painting Tutorial for you to view now on YouTube.

For those of you who do not do Facebook where this has already appeared, I'm posting a link to my eleven part video tutorial featuring a Clematis painting from start to finish.

Hope you 'll click on the above and take a peek and enjoy looking over my shoulder as I go through from masking to first wash to negative painting, leaf details, shadows right through to the finishing details.

If you click on Playlist you will see all eleven videos in the right order.

Why not subscribe (it's free!) and then you will be informed of any new videos that appear.

You can also get to my Ann Mortimer Art youtube channel via my website where there is a link on the homepage

Enjoy!  And feel free to comment!