Painting Bluebell Woods

24 September 2019

Painting Bluebell Woods Finished


The first 'Bluebell Woods' was painted as a commission piece for the lovely people we are renting a flat from while we renovate a bungalow for our new home, they own and maintain these woods and I often walk through them as they are just a few yards from where I'm living. When it was finished I decided to paint another one for our new home - just need the building to be finished so I somewhere to hang it ! The woods were so beautiful in the Spring when the bluebells were flowering and I took many photos, searching for the best view. I eventually decided on this one, I liked the path between the trees leading the viewer into the painting, the sweep of bluebells down the slope from left to right and, most importantly the play of light and dark as the sun shone through the trees from the right. The painting is 4ft by 2 ft (oil on canvas) so I had to put several photos together. 

Painting Bluebell Woods Reference


Stage 1 Drawing:

I almost always start a painting by covering the canvas with a single colour, using the main colour of the scene - in this case a green, this tones down the glaring white and provides a background colour which is much easier to judge tone and colour against than white. Then I make a rough drawing, taking care to get proportions and placement correct. The actual painting is a much lighter green, I had to enhance the photo so you can see the drawing.

Painting Bluebell Woods - stage 1

Stage 2 Colour/Tone Blocking:

Next I start putting in blocks of colour using a large brush, it's important not to get too picky at this stage. What I'm trying to do is establish the main areas of colour and crucially get the tones right. I'm not too concerned that the colours are accurate at this stage. The success of a painting like this rests mainly on the play of light, to get the effect of light through the trees I need to establish the lights and darks early on. Don't be afraid to make the darks really dark and the lights really light, probably more exaggerated than the original photo, if you overdo it you can always correct later, but it's much easier if the contrast is well established than if it's wishy washy.

Colours I used: zinc white, permanent green, permanent yellow medium, lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna. For the bluebells: cobalt blue with a touch of permanent violet medium. 

Painting Bluebell Woods - Blocking In

Stage 3 Painting the Main Areas:

So now I'm starting to paint the main areas with more detail, but not overdoing it yet. It's important not to get carried away on a small area, but to paint the whole painting at each level of detail. As this is a large painting I will paint it in stages, for a smaller painting I would be painting it much more as a whole. I'm also now being much more accurate with colour. I started on the areas of brown bark chipping at the bottom of the painting, then laid in the colour for the grass areas and the bluebells and roughly painted the trees. I'm taking care to make sure I get the tones right, standing back often to see it from a distance to make sure I'm maintaining the contrasts properly.

Painting Bluebell Woods - Main Areas


Stage 4 Painting the Background Trees:

Next I'm painting in the background trees, again looking at tones to get the feel for the light coming through the trees. I'm also looking at the shapes that are emerging, it's impossible to paint every leaf so you need to paint an impression of massed leaves, following the photo in general but making sure the shapes work. Someone once said, or I read it somewhere, 'you're not copying a photo, you're painting a picture' and I think of this every time I paint. So feel free to change things, add more trees where it works, beef up the contrasts, whatever the painting needs. Step back frequently and check the painting as a whole and identify areas that aren't quite right. Have another look after a few days, any problem areas will be more obvious after not seeing it for a while.

Painting Bluebell Wood - Background Trees


Stage 5 Getting More Detailed:

Now I'm finishing the background trees and starting to add more detail to the foreground. I'm also going over the trees to add more light and shade where I feel it needs it. I've left some areas to the right as I need to let the paint dry before I can paint the branches over the sky and the lighter leaves on the tree to the right. This is my favourite stage, when you can really see the painting coming together. 

Painting Bluebell Woods - More Detailed

Stage 6 The fine Details:

Now I can get really detailed. I've completed the trees on the right, added more detail to the rest of the trees and painted in some branches. I've finished the path, making it narrower and more like a woodland path than a path in a park. I can at last paint the foreground bluebells, adding stems, their base leaves and more tufts of grass. I've taken a fan brush and gone over the sweep of bluebells with both a lighter and darker colour to add variation.


Bluebell Woods - Detail

Bluebell Woods - Detail1

I hope this was useful to you, I love to hear your comments, you can add one below.



Making Suncatchers

29 June 2018

Making suncatchers

The sun’s shining and I’m enjoying making more sun catchers. I have a new stock of some lovely crystals, including some Swarovski call ‘metallic sunshine’ and some great faceted large crystals which really sparkle and throw rainbows in the sun. Here I'm making the purple spiral sun catcher you can see below, using Swarovski AB clear and fuschia crystals. These look lovely with the sun shining through them.

Still working from a small table in our rented flat while we wait for our renovated bungalow to be finished, I'll have a dedicated studio where I can really have fun crafting and painting, I have lots of plans for some exciting new jewellery ranges when I have somewhere to set up properly.

How to Make Glass Cabochon Art or Photo Pendants

16 May 2018

How to make a photo pendant

You can make a really pretty pendant using printed images of your choice with just a few simple tools and materials. I will share some of the things I've learned making mine, including what not to do so you don't make the same mistakes I did when learning.

The most important tip I can give you is to use images printed the correct way. You must have laser printed images, the sealer/glue used to attach the paper image to the glass is water based so any other images will run, not what you need. It really doesn't work using ink jet prints or photos from a photo booth - believe me I tried! Images cut from magazines should work, although I haven't tested this. Since most of us don't have colour laser printers handy the easiest way is to copy the image(s) you want to a usb stick and take it to a local print shop for printing.

You will need:

A laser printed image of your choice

Glass sealant/adhesive. I use Judikins Diamond Glaze

Bezels and glass cabochons - you can buy these in sets so you know the cabochon will fit the bezel

Jewellery Glue E6000

A scalpel

Making art pendants

Choose your image. Using the glass adhesive spread a generous layer on the image. You need plenty to make sure there are no gaps or these will show in the finished pendant.

Place the glass cabochon on the image and roll it around a bit to make sure any air bubbles are removed, you will have some adhesive spread out the sides, this is OK, we'll remove that later. Make sure the cabochon is in the correct place on the image.

Leave to dry, I usually leave for at least 24 hours to make sure.

Take your bezel and spread the glass adhesive on the surface to seal it. Leave to dry. This will prevent any colour leaching from the bezel onto the paper image. Without this step you can often get blue staining of the image from the metal of the bezel. 

Don't worry if it all goes wrong, the adhesive is water based so check the image carefully before you glue it into the pendant and if it's not perfect soak it in hot water and the paper will come off easily. You can then try again.

Take your scalpel and carefully trim around the cabochon. Take care to scrape around the sides to remove any adhesive stuck to the glass. Check it fits properly in the bezel then spread glue in the bezel and carefully place the cabochon with the attached image in the bezel. Press down to ensure a seal then leave to dry.

You should now have a pretty pendant you can add a chain to to make a necklace.

Butterfly photo pendant

Have fun ! 

I have images for instant download all ready for you to make into a pendant or other jewellery item. Check them out here