30 Paintings in 30 Days – Final Day

Wow! The final day of this challenge, it’s come around so quickly and i’ve managed to be creative every single day. Feeling very pleased.

So, what next? Well, i’m going to continue to be creative everyday, it may not be painting although I have really enjoyed that – I’ve never been much of a painter, not acrylics anyway, and would love to improve (hehe, let’s face it, there’s plenty of room for improvement!).

Next week I head away, off island for a couple of months – first to England to visit my family then travelling down through France and Spain – I’ll stay in southern Spain for two months. I need to decide what art supplies to take with me – I would love to paint while i’m there so have some of the 6″ x 6″ canvases set aside. I’ll also be packing my sketchbook and watercolours. Decisions, decisions…

Anyway, my final painting is a still life, my beloved Bialetti coffee maker and a couple of coffee cups. An artist friend called round mid-painting and said “oh my goodness, why have you chosen something so difficult!” The answer being “well I like a challenge” 🙂

OK, It has issues but at the start of this challenge I would never have dreamed of  attempting something like this – I’ve been very much inspired by the amazing art that all the other participants have been posting day after day on Leslie Saeta’s blog http://30paintingsin30days.weebly.com/blog Thank you Leslie so much, i’ve enjoyed my first time with this 30 in 30 challenge and will definitely participate again!

So here it is, acrylics on 6″ x 6″ canvas board

2016 is here!

Time to do my daily painting. I have to say here and now i’m not much of a painter but really want to improve, so here goes! I’ve signed up for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge as run by Leslie Saeta. As inspiration I have also been reading the book Daily Painting – Paint Small and Often to Become a More Creative, Productive and Successful Artist by Carol Marine. I’m enjoying the book a lot, haven’t quite finished it yet.

I’ve decided that the first week will be devoted to experimental painting, I haven’t decided yet on themes for the following weeks.

Today’s painting is acrylic paint on 6″ x 6″ card and is really a kind of a loose sketch of something i’m working on that will be on a 20″ x 16″ canvas and in mixed media. It was me feeling my way into the work and trying different things. The final painting will no doubt be quite different but it was very useful to do a small version.

I was up early as always on the 1st January to spend the daylight hours birding, working on the year list. The weather was pretty grim, cold and windy but it has to be done. Ended the day on 53 species, the highlights being two Golden Eagles and three Snow Buntings.

Bit of a crummy phone pic – the waves looked way more impressive than this!

The crofter was busy on the beach collecting seaweed, it will be left in a big pile to rot then will be spread onto the crofter’s plot on the machair to fertilise his crops. This time of year there is always massive piles of seaweed after the winter storms – i’ve seen it 10 or more feet deep.

Journey Book

I’m having a joint exhibition with a friend next May, our theme is “Walk this Way” about our experiences walking the Camino de Santiago. I’m writing up my diary from when I walked the Camino de Santiago in 2013. Each of the 44 pages represents one day of the 500 mile walk and includes a variety of writing, photographs, sketches that I did at the time, things I collected along “the way.” Central to each day is my “colours of the Camino” gelli print, done with my 8 inch circular gelli plate.

My “Journey Book” will be available at the exhibition for people to look through. I will also be incorporating “gelli elements” into the art for the exhibition too. It’s no good, there’s no hope, I’ve been a hopeless gelli addict for 12 months now.

Separate pages of my book so far…


Well I thought I would take advantage of the Christmas break to have a play with some monoprinting my new 11″ x 8″ Gelli Plate. After having watched lots of YouTube videos I got everything together – plate, acrylic paints (some old, really cheap ones that i’d bought from The Works when I was working away from home and was separated from my art supplies!), roller, card (I used A4 size matt card) and lots of items from around the house to make some marks and impressions with, including: bubble wrap, rubber stamps, a scallop shell, wool, stencils, paint brushes, cling film, paper towel, bits of paper. A great, fun-filled hour passed quickly and I was pretty happy with the results considering it was my very first time 🙂 Excuse the blurry iPad photo!

Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist

First attempts at monoprinting with my Gelli Plate. So, what will I do with these now? There are a couple of really nice ones that i’ll cut pieces out of and maybe add a little extra paint and/or collage for making birthday cards for friends and family. I can also use the remnants for collaging with and using as backgrounds for my everyday art journal.

75 Day Ink sketch Challenge

Finally got around to compiling the results of my attempt at the 75 Day Ink sketch Challenge.

This is a challenge that was started by artist Brenda Swenson who was one of the amazing teachers at Sketchbook Skool during 2014.

The rules are simple: No preliminary pencil sketch just dive straight in with ink, no erasing, just do it!

I believe I have pushed the rules somewhat as most times I added colour after i’d completed the ink drawing. Colour was added using a variety of media – most often watercolour but at other times Inktense pencils, coloured pencils, spray inks and a little glitter every now and then…

My personal challenge started, very tentatively, on the 19th July 2014 and ended on the 1st October 2014. I really enjoyed the challenge and although didn’t have much confidence when I started but the time the end came around, although I don’t feel that my drawing improved much, I was much more likely to tackle subjects that I never would have dreamed of tackling when I started.

Sketchbook Skool – Seeing – Week 6

Seeing – Week 6 – Homework Part 1

Liz Steel is the tutor for the week 6 Seeing class – I have been really looking forward to this amazing Aussie’s class. Liz is an architect by trade but is mostly known for her urban sketching and her addiction to drawing tea cups. I love her tea cup sketches! Liz Steel Liz’s Flickr Our first lot of homework was to draw an object that means something to us – it didn’t have to be a tea cup… Sadly I don’t have any really fancy cups and saucers (but have it in mind to go through mum’s china cabinet when i’m there next month…) so I started off with a 1930s style cup and saucer – a Clarice Cliff repro by Moorland Pottery with the famous Crocus design on. I wasn’t too thrilled by the results so this morning I had another go – this time using a Wedgewood soup cup and saucer which was given to me by my grandmother on the birth of my oldest daughter 30 years ago. The design is called Kutani Crane. I was much happier with the result. I was quite embarrassed when The Artist from next door dropped by to pick up my husband and i’d left my book on the side, opened to the Wedgwood cup page so he scooted over when he spied it and had a look. He seemed reasonably impressed 🙂

Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist

Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist

Seeing – Week 6 – Homework Part 2 The next lot of homework that Liz set for us was to draw a building. With her being an architect she gave us a number of tips for when drawing buildings. It was a dull and dismal day and I decided to draw our house – it’s kind of wonky, I think I definitely need a lot more practice!

Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist

Sketchbook Skool – Seeing – Week 5

The tutor for week five of Seeing was the totally incredible Andrea Joseph – what that girl can do with a ballpoint pen is truly amazing! Andrea’s Blog Andrea’s Flickr Andrea’s Etsy Shop Andrea is one of the few British tutors on the course and was very generous in her advice and teaching, lots of video demos and she went through some of her sketchbooks too. The first homework was a lettering piece – we had to choose a quote that we liked and write it out. I chose this one by Camille Pissaro.

Next we had to find some objects of the same colour and then draw them in a ballpoint pen of that colour (red objects, use red pen etc.). As I could only find a blue ballpoint pen in the whole of the house that’s what I went for…

Lastly Andrea demonstrated drawing a collection of items and set us the task of drawing a collection of our own – in ballpoint pen of course. I had a bag of buttons that had come from my late mother-in-law’s house so I chose them.

I really enjoyed this homework and indeed the whole week. I don’t think that I’ll be making a habit of doing drawings with ballpoint pen – Andrea made it look way easier than it really is. I guess with practice it would become easier – I found myself pressing too hard occasionally – in Andrea’s video she used very very light, soft strokes when doing the cross-hatching and this is where I found the difficulty – I felt very clumsy. My favourite button to draw and the one that turned out pretty good was the large round, leather-covered button. Sadly week 6 will be the final week of Sketchbook Skool for this semester 🙁 but i’m looking forward very much to it, Liz Steele is leading the last class!

Exhibition – Tumadh: Immersion

Location: An Lanntair, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis 5th July to 30th August 2014 Artists: Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion

I don’t have much opportunity here in the Outer Hebrides for visiting art exhibitons, I have a trip up to the Isle of Lewis every couple of months to visit friends and always call in to An Lanntair in Stornoway – they generally have two exhibitions running, one in the main gallery space and one upstairs in the cafe/bar. As I’m unable to pick and choose what to visit I just take pot luck and visit anyway, I had vaguely heard that the latest exhibition was about birds but I didn’t have any details. Tumadh: Immersion was set up in the main gallery, one of the entrances was closed off just leaving a single entrance and the lights had been dimmed. Three walls at the far end of the space had screens in a variety of sizes set up on the walls in a seemingly random order. On each screen a different video was showing, the common theme being a seabird colony. Footage was a whole variety of shots from general views of the cliffs to much more intimate scenes of a single egg hatching, Fulmars pair bonding and single birds sitting on their nests. There were no natural sounds to go with the footage but there was a soundtrack which complemented the exhibition very well. I thought that the way the display had been set out was well thought out and the screens were on on and had ledges. I made a sketch of some of the screens.

Just as watching a seabird colony for real there was a great sense of enjoyment in sitting and watching and just being there to witness the spectacle, not really knowing where to look next as the screens were constantly changing – one minute it would be a view from the top of a cliff of a White-tailed Sea Eagle drifting over the rocks looking for prey and the next it would be wildflowers swaying in the breeze, followed by row upon row of squabbling auks. I found it like a real colony, endlessly active and fascinating. Of the quieter moments the footage of a Fulmar turning it’s single egg, placed in a nest scaped out on three or four inches of a sheer cliff gave a sense of the fragility of the whole colony. I also felt a sense of sadness because these colonies, so fragile on the edge of the ocean, are under threat, something that we could lose for a variety of reasons – global warming and over-fishing.

Between 1985 and 1990, the sandeel stock around Shetland collapsed, leading to successive years of breeding failures of Arctic Terns, Arctic Skuas, Great Skuas, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Atlantic Puffins. Since then, sandeel availability and breeding success has fluctuated. (Mitchell et al, 2004)

On discussing the exhibition afterwards with a friend they asked “is that art then?” and my considered response was, well, yes if art is supposed to make you think about a subject, ask questions and invoke an emotional response then yes it was art. The artist’s statement from their website  says

Our work explores mankind’s relationship with nature and how we interact with the ecology of the earth.

And I think that with Tumadh: Immersion they fulfilled that remit very well.

More info:- http://www.lanntair.com/content/view/1016/1 http://generationartscotland.org/exhibitions/tumadh-immersion-an-lanntair

References:- P. Ian Mitchell, Stephen F. Newton, Norman Ratcliffe and Timothy E. Dunn (Eds.). 2004. Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland: results of the Seabird 2000 census (1998-2002). Published by T and A.D. Poyser, London. Available online at: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/Complete_seabird_pops_exec_summary.pdf

Sketchbook Skool – Seeing – Week 4

The very first online courses that I participated in were by Cathy Johnson so I was looking forward to learning a whole lot more from this lovely lady, especially as a lot of her drawing is bird and nature orientated. Cathy Johnson’s website Cathy Johnson’s blog Cathy demonstrated techniques for sketching birds – both from life and using photographs – then homework was to do our own bird sketch. I chose a House Sparrow, it turned out OK(ish) it was a little bit out of shape. Maybe i’m just picky when it comes to bird art – I think it stems from knowing birds so well. Anyway here is my homework, followed by some links to a couple of great bird artists.

House Sparrow…

My Lapwing turned out a little better


Both of these birds were drawn from my own photographs. Part 2 of Cathy’s homework was to upload a page from our nature journal. I submitted my seaweed page


I love the lovely loose watercolour work of wildlife artist Darren Woodhead, I first saw his work at the UK Bird Fair in 2011, held annually at Rutland Water. Darren is based in Scotland and his website is: www.darrenwoodheadartist.co.uk Another artist I greatly admire is The Artist that I mention now and again who lives next door. Bill Neill has lived here in the Hebrides for over 30 years and is an amazing all round naturalist. He uses mainly watercolour but sometimes acrylics. Bill’s website is: www.william-neill.co.uk  Books I recommend for drawing birds:-

  • John Busby, Drawing Birds – An RSPB Guide
  • John Muir Laws, The Law’s Guide to Drawing Birds