All about colour

May 21, 2015

Second in the bottles/ painting series

Second in the bottles/ painting series

This is the second oil painting in the series inspired by Rende’s photos of bottles against one of my previous still life paintings. See this post for the first one and some background info.

As I mentioned in the other post, painting something that is already beautiful is not my usual choice. But the richness he captured in the glass against the colourful painting spoke to me. I hadn’t worked with such saturated darks before, and I loved using them.

Nicholas Wilton’s latest post about colour is full of good practical information, a sort of Colour 101. And I appreciated that even though he gives workshops, he is generous about sharing his insights and knowledge for free as well. Basically he breaks down colour theory in painting to 3 main choices, and they all have to do with contrast. Are you going to use a dark or light colour next to your existing colour? Will it be saturated or diluted/toned down? And finally, will it be a cool or warm colour?

All these choices are going on instinctively while I paint. Even though I have a photo as reference, and this dictates my choices to some extent, effects, transparency, back and foreground can all be influenced by the 3 principles Wilton mentions. I’m starting on the third one now, a bit more ambitious as far as complexity. And it really does help to be more conscious of how the colour is going to work in the painting. Here are 2 previous phases of the finished painting above. In this one, after sketching in the approximate colours, I worked from dark to light and slightly more painterly than in number 1.

Set up for second painting

Set up for second painting

an in- between phase

an in- between phase

Nature art

March 24, 2015

Starting at the end of January, we’ve had a continual oasis of blooming spring bulbs on the dining room table. As one pot reaches its peak and fades, we replace it with a fresh new one.

winter bulb garden and micro greens

winter bulb garden and micro greens

Rende got fascinated with the dried up mini daffodils (in background), and made some great photos of them awhile back.

I was idly sitting at the table a few nights ago and picked some of the dried out flowers and stems and started playing with them. The results are below. They eventually inspired a mobile, which I’ll post soon.


Reflections in oils

April 8, 2014




And now for something completely different.

This painting is done from a photo of Rende’s. Normally I avoid working from his beautiful photos, since he has already made all the aesthetic decisions, there doesn’t seem to be any challenge in just copying them.  But I needed a break from fruit (!) and the rippling water with reflections and that lovely red edge of the boat fascinated me.

I used oils but first painted an acrylic ground of that heightened turquoise which shines through most of the painting. My broad, synthetic brushes worked really well getting the large areas of water down, and frankly, this went quickly and more easily than my still lifes. I left a lot of it just as I first sketched it in, and am happy not to have overworked this one.

For more of Rende’s reflection photos, see this book.


on the walk to Lewes

on the walk to Lewes

During my recent trip to England, this was the usual weather. And these muted greens and earth colours were the palette in the South Downs area.

There was some relief from that the day I went to Brighton to meet Sonia. I’ll write about our pleasurable meeting later, you can see Sonia’s account of it here.

I’d thought Brighton was a charming, small white-housed seaside resort- so I was kind of surprised at my first glimpse of it through the train window!

Brighton from train

And after Sonia and I had a light snack at the museum, and I headed out to the ocean, I got away as fast as possible from this scene.

brighton boardwalk
So I guess it isn’t surprising, considering the dull pre-spring greens I’d been seeing up until then,  that when I finally got to the beach, my eye was pulled to stronger colours. I had a brilliant time scavenging for bits of washed up plastic. Though it was devastating to see evidence of how plastics end up in the ocean food chain, I decided to see them also as colours and forms. Below is the first collection.

Collected within a circle about 2 meters from where I was sitting.

Collected within a circle about 2 meters from where I was sitting.

After that I set about collecting (via photos) plastic objects, one for each colour of the rainbow.

Image copied from here

I’m just back from 2 weeks in the UK and will post on that later. For now I want to let people know that my dear friend, Kathy Carr has completed her DVD, Whale Journey, connecting with Humpback whales.

Kathy and I go way back, from Findhorn days. We’ve worked together on several Findhorn publicatoins, one, Faces of Findhorn, published by Harper and Row.

She is a consummate photographer, and impassioned artist and activist. Kathy lives in Hawaii and swims regularly with dolphins. The Whale Journey film was made during several trips to Tonga where she swam with and connected deeply with humpback whales,  and photographed these encounters.

I have always been fascinated by dolphins and whales, and one of my dreams is to eventually be in the water with them. In the meantime, I live with the above image in my studio (available to buy from Kathy’s site), and feel daily the vast, benign presence of these intelligent creatures.

New photo book: Reflections

December 8, 2013

photo by Rende Zoutewelle

photo by Rende Zoutewelle

Rende has a new photo book, a real beauty.  You can see it here: REFLECTIONS

This is the fourth in a series, the other 3 you can view here.

New photo books!

November 1, 2013

photo  Rende zoutewelle

photo Rende Zoutewelle

Rende, my husband has designed 3 books of his photography and has had them reproduced. They are one-offs and they are gorgeous in themselves as well as being beautifully reproduced.

And here you can see LEAVES.

Here you can look through BOATS .


photo Rende Zoutewelle

photo Rende Zoutewelle

And here is the one on DOORS and WINDOWS  from his recent trip to France.

photo Rende Zoutewelle

photo Rende Zoutewelle

Paper houses

June 27, 2013

paper houses 1

paper houses          photo Rende Zoutewelle

I had the painting on the landing outside my studio, and when I cleaned up my drawing table, I put the little paper houses there temporarily for lack of a better place.

I kept passing this little composition enjoying how the painting and sculptures complemented each other, meaning to take a picture.

Evidently Rende had been thinking the same thing. I’m so glad he did it. His photo has all the poetry I’d imagined, and I doubt I would have been able to capture it as well as he has.

More about paper houses here.

Cool digital magazine

June 13, 2013

Go see my friend Kristina’s new magazine. It is so colourful, fun and summery. Great job.

You can download it and look at it at your leisure.  I found it really relaxing and upbeat.

thanks K and friends.

love ,Sarah

Rende and the lens baby

January 31, 2013

Rende takes his camera for a walk on a grey day here in our little village in northern Holland. He stays with a few routes and stops at places I pass by with the dog daily and see but don’t really see. And he comes home with the loot.

There is a dry dock on the other side of the canal which pulls him like a magnet with all the boats up on supports, stranded out of the water, their encrusted bottoms revealed. There is rust and peeling paint, layers of boat life which he manages to transform into paintings.

The lens baby is a lens that gives you one ‘sweet point’- a point of focus while everything else becomes blurred. One usually sees it used in a  clichéed way, like one rose in focus and the leaves out of focus. But Rende seems to easily bypass that and create a new context for focus and out of focus areas.

As an artist I am continually inspired with what he brings home every day. I love the backgrounds in these, they make me want to paint large areas of blurred and rhythmic colour.

The photos are not just used straight from the camera, he spends lots of time carefully tweaking the Raw versions in Photo shop, mostly to just bring out certain details or rebalance contrasts or colour relationships.

I have to share them here because I get to see these little miracles almost every day. He is so humble he doesn’t push his work, but I feel like it is a real gift to see these creations and get to see the world through his eyes.