Oil Pastel Tutorial

Following the Graphite Pears tutorial I put on LinkedIn, I’m putting some resources here to support my oil pastel tutorial on YouTube which is live today. There are three videos, and you will need a set of Oil Pastels to follow along.

I use Cray Pas Pastels, which are really soft, there are 2 sets – one with 12 colours, the other with 24. To create this image I used some of the colours from the bigger set – you can mix these or buy a few more colours such as the turquoise and ultramarine blue, and an extra stick of white is always useful!

Otherwise, use what you have, the idea of oil pastel is not to be too representational, and look hard for subtle colours like pink and purples. You’ll need some pastel paper to work on, blue, green or even a hotter red or pink would be great. If you buy a pad of A3, you could use a sheet or two to create your set up. Just add pineapple!

If you don’t have these to hand, use this image to draw from – having it on an iPad propped up is great, so that the image doesn’t keep locking, choose ‘never’ from the auto lock controls under ‘display and brightness’ or just print it out…..

Resource image for Pineapple study.

Neoprene Magic

This June I was planning to run some heat press workshops at Ochre Print Studio in Guildford. During my residency there in 2018 I got hooked on the process of heat transfer, using specialist paints which turn into a gas when heated and transfer onto synthetic fabrics.

The colours are so vibrant, I decided to make a series of rock pool inspired neoprene bags, which are close to the technique I will be teaching when the Studio opens again soon.

Pink Seaweed Neoprene Bag

I have also made some which were inspired by local vineyards.

Wine Washbag

These are available in my Etsy shop.

Talking of Vineyards, I visited Albury near Guildford at the weekend, and had the most amazing cream tea and a walk through the vines. Check out my Instagram to see the drawings I made. Rosé definitely helped…..

New work and events

Taking the drawings I made at Greyfriars Vineyard during the harvest in October, I have used the leaf shapes to create some collaged work. I really liked the rich deep blues and greens in this piece…

Blue Green Vines

So I got the design digitally printed onto some heavy canvas to create deckchair slings.

Blue Green Vine Deckchair

I’ve also been working with images of trees from woodland walks in my local area. These also made a good print design.

Woodland Tree Print
Woodland Tree Deckchair

I’m currently also working on some more neoprene and lavender bags, which will be on sale at Farnham Maltings Monthly Market this Saturday (July 4th) – all in the carpark and socially distanced – and then on my etsy shop

Wine inspired neoprene bags

Drawing Courage

Since April, the biggest thing I’ve missed is the regularity of teaching. The last post here was about the Jeanie Senior project at Park Barn Community Centre.

Since then, the Watts Gallery have used the drawings made in those sessions to create beautiful tea towels, money raised will support their further work. It is so lovely to read about how much the participants value the time spent learning new skills.

Art for All Tea Towel

You can get a tea towel here

The other teaching I do is a mix of drawing and painting every Thursday in Woking, as many of the students are vulnerable, no classes have gone ahead during this summer term. I’ve made them a series of videos which I will link to here every couple of weeks

My sketchbook

I have had the chance to get my Etsy shop established , with a promotion from the Lightbox (and 15% off until June 25)

During May I got back into painting too..

Zig Zag Still Life
Albury Still Life

This last piece is partly a reflection on my work this year in documenting the wine making process in Surrey. Some of this will be for sale at the Maltings Monthly Market on July 4th, which will be the first one for quite a while!

Jeanie Senior

This post is to record a project I ran from January to early March, for the Watts Gallery at a community centre in Park Barn, Guildford.

The brief was to think about Victorian women activists, who will be celebrated at an exhibition at the Watts Gallery scheduled for the end of 2020.

I really liked a portrait by George Frederick Watts of his friend Jeanie Senior, painted in 1858.

‘Jane Elizabeth (Jeanie) Hughes, Mrs. Nassau Senior (1828-1877)’. 1858. Oil on canvas, 176.5 x 103cm. Wightwick Manor, Staffordshire (The National Trust).

I went on to read a book called ‘Army of One’ by Sybil Oldfield. Interestingly it is signed by the author to Juliet Stevenson, and on reading the book, Jeanie knew George Eliot, and provided the inspiration for Dorothea in Middlemarch. It would be fascinating to think it is Juliet Stevenson the actress who was perhaps was researching the role.

Jeanie was the sister of Thomas Hughes, who wrote ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’. She came from an influential family, however married unhappily aged 19. Her kind and caring nature and strong conviction that she must spend her time helping those less fortunate eventually led her to be commissioned to write a report on the Pauper Schools for the Government. In this capacity she was the first female Civil Servant, and had she not been struck by illness, would have been even more instrumental in social change.

Watts portrait suggests this caring, nurturing personality, and so I decided to use the colours and the spring plants as inspiration for a drawing session using heat transfer inks. Similarly shapes of the glass jug and smaller ceramic planter were echoed in the arrangement I put in front of the learners…

The heat press inks we used were cobalt, turquoise a deep green and cherry red with some yellow and mandarin for the daffodils. I was really pleased that the learners enjoyed using the inks in a painterly way, varying the marks to suggest flowers and reflections.

On the following week, we cut shapes from sublimation paper in similar strong colours – this time I introduced the orange from the painting, as well as the rich reds and stronger blue. The learners collected their papers – quite a few were negative shapes from around the jugs and pots, I then heat pressed them onto 3 long pieces of fabric. For the final session, I heat pressed some of the left over drawings and shapes onto some embroidery fabric, and the leaners spent the session sewing over the shapes as a guide. I was worried that this might be too difficult, but they loved it!

Heat Press Workshop at Woking Lightbox

This week I’ve been working with the heat press to trial a workshop that will run on Saturday January 25th at the Lightbox in Woking.

In this three hour workshop (10.30am -1.30pm) you will be able to transfer expressive marks made with heat transfer paints onto a cushion cover to take home. The process involves layering colours, both expressive and plain blocks which are created by cutting shapes from sublimation paper.

I used blue and orange shapes in combination with cobalt painted ‘water’ to suggest this detail of reflected tiles in a swimming pool.

Hockney Pool

The reverse of the cushion was inspired by a painting of Californian landscape. The orange, yellow and house shapes cut from sublimation paper and the details created using expressive heat transfer inks…

Hockney California

The workshop costs £25 for adults, members of the Lightbox £22. Book via The Lightbox.

Recording the harvest

My next subject is wine! We are lucky to live on the border of Surrey and Hampshire, where conditions are perfect for creating English wine, especially sparkling wine.

Oil Pastel – Greyfriars Harvest

Our nearest is Greyfriars, who have won awards. They kindly let me spend a morning recording the harvest. It happens at breakneck speed, so the sketches of hands have turned into more of a blur!

Ink Drawing – Greyfriars Harvest
Boxes and boxes of grapes
Empty boxes ready…

The next step will be to document some more of the wine making process. It’s a good job I’ve just subscribed to Pressing Matters!

Festival of Crafts

One week until the Festival of Crafts at Farnham Maltings! Come and see me and try the heat press transfer technique onto a sample of neoprene.

Last week I led a printed tote bag workshop at the Watts Gallery in Guildford with a creative group of 13-17 year olds. We looked for pattern in ‘Facing Fame’, the exhibition featuring John Frederick Lewis , marvelling at the detail of his Orientalist paintings which feature bazaars and fabrics from Cairo and Constantinople. We then painted paper to layer with the press onto the bags with rich coloured heat transfer inks, such as chestnut, cobalt and mandarin…

Painting with heat transfer inks.

Amongst the patterns were some camels and several letters from the artist. It was lovely to see that these provided inspiration, and we started off with small pieces of neoprene which will be similar to the ones you can make at the Festival of Crafts.

Details from the finished bags.

We combined the painted papers (which as you can see come out reversed) with sublimation paper, which is a flat colour. Above the bag you can see the little neoprene sample which could be made into a wallet.

Pink patterns created by making holes in sublimation paper.
Combining layers of painted heat press paper.

Finally, we screen printed foil adhesive to add a final bit of metallic detail using bronze foil which was applied with the heat press.

I will be in the Undercroft area of the Festival of Crafts with my heat press, and a selection of prints and aprons from the Ochre Print Studio Residency. This includes some lino images over which I used Letterpress, to detail favourite tools that are used in the Ochre Studio. Fork still makes me laugh!

Lino with letterpress

The Undercroft is just outside the Great Hall, where you can see and buy more cutting edge craft – mosaics by Denise Jacques (Stand number 1) and silver jewellery by my good friend and fellow Crafts Study Centre staff, Rosie Wesley (Stand number 22 also in the Great Hall).

Apron Printing with the River House Barn Community Café

Heat press over screen print

The exhibition of work from my 2018 Ochre Residency at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton-upon-Thames was accompanied with a heat press workshop to create aprons. During the show, every so often I would get a coffee and chat to the staff at the Community Café who were very envious of the aprons!

So last Sunday, I spent the day printing aprons with them, using both the magical process of heat press sublimation alongside screen print. Inks and my time were kindly sponsored by the RC Sheriff Trust, and this weekend the Riverhouse Barn staff will be proudly wearing them as part of Heritage weekend.

Heat Pressing hearts
Finished fruity apron!

The café make use of surplus food and is staffed by volunteers who love both food and community values. Follow them on Instagram #communitycafe@riverhouse

Squeegeed beetroot colour!
Tea and cakepron
Printing cherry tomatoes
Me holding the screen in place…

Upcoming workshop for teens at the Watts

Sustainability is on everyone’s minds since David Attenborough signposted the damage we are doing to the planet with plastics. The Watts Gallery in Guildford have asked me to run a heat press workshop on September 12th to make re-usable tote bags. The workshop is for 13-17 year-olds, and it’s part of a programme of events to introduce new techniques.


The inspiration for the bags will be the exhibition dedicated to exploring the life and art of the Victorian Orientalist artist John Frederick Lewis (1804-1876). The artist travelled from Constantinople to Cairo, so I will focus on patterns from these areas…

Islamic Tiles
Pattern book
Istanbul not Constantinople
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