Developing a style part 2 

I have been churning out my back grounds for my still life paintings. My ‘Critical Friend’  Deb suggested that they didn’t look ‘ finished’. I borrowed another vase and messed around with my IPhone looking at composition. 

I like me my layering app- Image Blender and the filter App Prisma for messing about with my images . I wanted to try and get a simillar effect to my painting but using digital methods  

I was pleased with the result – sometimes I wonder why I paint. I don’t get an  emotional response working digitally. 

I started working on several paintings of the same thing at once – because I find it easier to become emerged and like series paintings 

I wasn’t satisfied with these, the vase is horrid to draw and the flowers looked too solid and fleshy. I wondered if the landscape format was too big for the subject 

This was still feeling dull and had lost much of the energy of the initial background . The patterns showed through, but the over all effect was too flat , (teal does not photograph well either) . 

I sent a couple of images to Deb – she liked the last picture  but said: 

‘I think you need to find your ‘why’ and then it will all come together – Why are you making these pictures, what’s the motivation, where’s the energy coming from? ‘ 

I was annoyed at my self – I am trying to find a way to paint  that is mine – then I was more honest 

‘It’s got something to do with my life being a facade – all the turmoil underneath – feeling unwell, traveling , making a mess, mandalas, seeking for spiritual connection . The flowers being plastic because Jon and I are allergic – all the conventions of  a still life – on top of that the flat colour – but some of me coming through ‘ 

I knew what I had to do – I ran the pictures under a tap and attacked them with a washing up abrasive sponge 

The facade is peeling 

I attacked the smaller ones too. I have some others that I produced on printer paper but they are too fragile to be treated in the same way ( lol) 

It’s funny – I have restricted  my self to blues/ teals because I love them  – but I think the stronger colours underneath represent how I am feeling , and work better with the teal/ blue combo on top. 

Next week I shall probably be doing something completely different 


Developing a style – ‘Still life’ 

Since I started being an artist full time 3 years ago, I have been trying to find a style or way of working that is my own. The layering of mandalas and tea dipping is very therapeutic, but the wanted to work towards something more concrete. I want to incorporate these images within other pieces. 

I love flowers and enjoy creating 3D designs that you can achieve with  a ‘still life’. My hubby and I are both a bit allergic to flowers and pollen so I have bought a range of different artificial examples. 

I have a couple of white jugs and a favourite over decorated piece that belonged to my step grandma. I thought it would also be fun to use jars and bottles which are currently in fashion as vases. I also visited the National Museum of Scotland looking for different shaped vessels 

When I start a project – I do lots of preparation and thinking , but then procrastinate about actually starting the work….. 

these are my first efforts – I have prepared lots of mandalas on cartridge paper and printer paper. The printer paper is too thin and buckles and creases too much but is good to practice layouts and composition. 

I used some water soluble powdered pigment  ink in some of the mandalas and this seems to leak into the acrylic, causing the circular effects you can see in the last picture above. 

I like the way the negative shapes of the flowers work well with the flat background. I thought The fowers and vase need to be drawn simpley  to contrast with the mandalas. I have been playing with different tones of blue and thicknesses of pen. I think each mandala needs me to be more intuiative with the back grounds rather than mixing up a vat of colour like I did yesterday 

I hav been trying to draw as realistically as possible and have been posting  on Instagram to see what reaction I get from my friends.  I was surprised when I posted the picture below asking for feed back – I was unsure about the white and felt that the jar was a bit clumsy – it received more positive feed back than some of the more neatly drawn careful designs 

I have tried different colours in the back ground and I am particularly fond of the shapes created by my artificial seed pods 

When I posted the image of the step by step below I was also interested in how people appreciated the contrast  of orange and mandala top left and the thin layer of orange bottom right- when I had been striving to achieve a flat opaque finish 

Larger fleshy flowers are not as effective – because there is not enough negative shape to play with and the thicker line looses definition 

This background is too simillar to the flower- not sure what it is supposed to be really….. the stems and flowers appear to be a climber but the rigid stem is a bit incongruous 

My real cycleman didn’t really work either – I think the flowers and the petals are too close together and the pen line too thick

I will keep at it …. 


Feb 11th 

We visited Brussels today to wander , and visit the Magritte museum. Jon and I liked the humour in Magritte’ s surrealist paintings , particularly how he named the images for example 

Two coffins sitting on a walk  – a beautiful late afternoon 

The Breast – a pile of houses 

A stroke of luck – a pug in a suit looking over its shoulder 

I must give my paintings more interesting names 

 Jon also  noticed that he has a particular penchant for 3D balls 

For example 

Voice of space

The Memory

There are Magritte motifs around Brussels 

Museum shop , station panels and an advert 

After the museum we visited a trip advisor recommended coffee shop  Kaffa Bar which had 8/10 coffee and 9/10 hot chocolate and a resident bulldog called Marcel. 

Later we wandered around looking at shops and architecture 

Grote Markt 

Shops in the Galeries Royals Saint Huber designed by Jean Pierre Cluysenaer


When we got to the cathedral I was very struck by a modern building  near by that echoed the the cathedral architecture .  When we approached the area there were lots of tree branches obscuring the view – the modern building had glass etched panels of branches , steel structures repeating the steeple and concrete  buttresses . 

I have searched for about 10 mins on the Internet ( Google fail) but I can’t find any thing about the architect 

Segway warning 
It snowed lightly all through our trip – I was wearing boots, gloves , hat and a scarf – anyone who knows me ( I wear flip flops in November) will realise how cold it was . I noticed a woman in her twenties on the station platform – she must have had very cold wet feet 


Leuven Part 3 

Feb 11th

Jon’s conference has finished so our exploits today had a different focus. I had noticed a coffee roastery on Diestestraat. It was freezing again so a hot drink was very welcome. 

The interior was very spartan with pretty floor tiles. I think they might be art nouveau 

Jon’s coffee was a 7/10 , my oat milk hot choc was lovely 

Leuven Part 2 

Thursday 9th Feb 

It wasn’t raining to day so I felt like exploring a bit more. A feed on Instagram liked one of my Leuven photos, so I checked  theirs out  -@aboutsomethingaround- They had some photos of Leuven and some interesting descriptions for Goot Bergijnhof and Mussenstraat. These areas are slightly off the beaten track and looked interesting


I quote : ‘The Mussenstraat is by far the cosiest neighbourhood you can find in Leuven and a place of peace and quiet in the sprawling student city. The narrow cobblestone streets with small colourful houses and plants is an absolute delight to walk around in. You can also find one of the murals of the street artist Bisset’ 

There are not many plants awake in February but it was quiet and the scale of the buildings is startling after all the shops and buildings in this area. Apparently Leuven was extensively bombed in the WW1 – which accounts for the variety of different architecture 

Groot Bergijnhof

More from @somethingaround ‘The Groot Bergijnhof or Grand Beguinage in Leuven looks like a small medieval town with its narrow streets and small squares. The beguinage served as a community for unmarried religious women: the beguinage has a long history that dates back to the 13th century…..Today it is one of the largest still in existence. It is currently owned by Leuven Uni and serves as student and guest housing’ 

One of the thing that struck me the most apart from the beauty of it was the medieval buildings  structures had serious double glazing and that there was a wall all around the circumference . 

On my way back to town I walked along one of the out side walls and was amused to see a series of round holes – who was looking at whom? 

Botanical Garden

On my way back into town I stumbled across the botanical garden – this is relatively small and manicured but very pretty. ‘De Kruidtuin in Dutch and officially the Hortus Botanicus Lovaniensis – is the oldest botanical garden of Belgium.’

I went inside the palm house 

Other photos from today: 

Textures- bricks and the wooden stairwell from the Airbnb 

Visiting Leuven, Belgium

Tuesday 6th Feb We are staying in Leuven, Belgium for a few days. Jon booked an Airbnb apartment. The layout and proportions of which are almost the same as where we stayed in New York about 18 months ago. I suppose there are limited alternatives for designs of studio flats. This one is a bit unnerving when they have a shower upstairs, it sounds like it is pouring with rain inside our room. 

At the train station last night all the announcements were in English, French and Flemish, which was interesting in terms of the length of time it took to make announcements. 

After visiting France regularly over the years I was expecting to be able to understand menus and road signs , but we are in the old Flemish capital so everything appears to be in Dutch which I recognise but don’t really understand .

 According to Wikipedia Flemish ‘is one of the three national languages of Belgium, together with French and German, and is the only official language of the Flemish Region. The various Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium contain a number of lexical and a few grammatical features which distinguish them from the standard Dutch’ .

When we got off the train last night and into a taxi the architecture felt familiar, my birth Father lived in Holland for 15 years. He moved around a lot and stayed in a variety of houses. One was a tall maisonette in Den Haag. These were the buildings that I recognised

Last night when we ate out, everybody spoke English and they had English translated menus…..  

Wednesday 7th Feb 

I have braved the murk and the drizzle walking in an almost straight line from the house back to the station to get a Starbucks and what I hoped was free wifi – 

The shops in the centre are very chain store biased – but I saw some pretty smaller house ones 

And lots of half mandala drain covers – I seem to have managed to take 9 different designs –

Bikes and pedestrians appear to  have the same rights on the paved areas, I haven’t managed to kill any one yet lol 

Also please note if you are visiting Leuven and reading this blog , the main museum isn’t open on Wednesdays – it feels a bit like visiting Japan for one day and all the museums and art galleries being shut that day of the week – well at least I am here another few days lol. 

Archtecural details that caught my eye today 

The town hall-  the building of which began in 1439

A window from St Peter’s Church 

Demolition showing tiles and wall paper from the old rooms