Colourful abstracts and a struggle for artistry

For years I wanted to do a painting which involved a lot of colour. Patches of colour, patterns in colour. One day I’d started a painting with a red background, pondering something of a sunset, perhaps a silhouette. Fidgeting with my palette and brush, I ended up just doodling with blocks of colour and over the next few hours I got more and more engrossed in it. Making the colours overlap, adding in shading, becoming really quite focused on it.
This is what it had become once I’d finally pulled myself away from the canvas.
Deciding that that was a little too bland (despite the colour), that it lacked something, I started thinking ‘lines’, or ovals, or circles.. Unfortunately I don’t have the messy in-between photos when I kept having to cover up the little things I decided I didn’t like, but this was the end result. My first colour filled painting.
Not long after it was given to a good friend who’d fallen in love with it. It had been sat in the corner of my living room for so long that I’d got used to the vibrancy that it brought. It brightened the place up without me even really paying any attention to it. I wanted to embark on a second go, bring that colour back to the place.. This time with some idea of what I was doing.
I wanted the blocks neater, the shading less patchy, more refined overall.
There’s a problem with that, though… I can only paint when I’m in a really loopy, obsessive, mood. These appear for hours at a time, sometimes days. And often by the time I’ve realised that I could focus the excess energy and actually do an art, it’s gone again.
I had a few days in 2010 where I noticed almost immediately, and back to it I went.
Yes, I tend to sit around in very floppy clothing at home, looking like a bit of a tit.
After a day I couldn’t grip the brush because of pain in my hands. Holding cutlery for a meal can be immensely difficult, with the joints stiffening and becoming painful to move very quickly under the strain of positioning. Even though I was working on it intermittently, in 5 minute intervals between very large tea breaks, it wasn’t quite enough.
Then that obsessive ‘I must do something, must paint, must keep busy’ sense of manic ‘I can do ALL THE THINGS’ euphoria wore off. I was mere hours from finishing it when I finally went back to try again. I found I couldn’t focus on mixing the colours I wanted, or shading neatly. The ability to paint drained from me as quickly as it had appeared a few days before. It was eventually tucked away behind a shelf and left, neglected, for over a year.
A few months ago after a conversation with a friend about art, lamenting projects laying around unfinished, and being nudged to paint again, inspiration struck. The large piece of MDF (poor choice of medium, I know) was tugged out from behind a shelf by my husband and the brushes were out.. Busily working away at it, ideas changing a bit as I went.
Finally, I finished it! Now adorning a wall in my bedroom, perfectly complimenting the deep red walls, the bohemian furniture and carpeting (blankets as carpet, various colours/styles of cheap argos furniture), I’m quite satisfied. The bright colours in front of me each morning help as a little pick me up for each day.

While I state in this post that this project is finished, I’ve since seen many flaws in it which I want to correct. The size of the project, and the detail I’ve gone into already, I’m not sure I’ll ever be satisfied with with it. It’s a permanent project, and likely always will be.

Painting technique, ideal for kids (and anyone else)!

This is a set I made to explain a painting technique to a friend for her to try with her kids. She’s been wanting something made by her children to put on the wall, and this can be a simple one that can some out with some good results. I’ve done a number of paintings in this style over the years, generally a lot more detailed, but this gives a description to start you off! It’s as easy or difficult as you choose to make it.


Get your paints out, all the colours you want to mix for the background

Applying the paint

Heap the paint onto the canvas.
If you’re a little worried it’s too much, be a bit more cautious, you can always add more later on.

Heaps of paint!
Blend the colours

Move it all around on the canvas until you’re happy with how the colours are blended together. You can streak the colours or stick with just one.
Be confident, you don’t have to be careful with how you mix it all up on the canvas – part of the beauty of doing this is that it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Make some patterns if you want, whatever you feel like!

Since it’s a lot of paint on the canvas with this one, I used the brush to make patterns in the background. Swirling the brush around is an easy one, just start at one point and swirl it outwards. If you haven’t used as much as me, just leave it with the brush strokes. Whichever you prefer is fine, it’s just an easy way of doing something with excess paint.

Get scratching!

Get a stick, maybe some other things like a fork (multiple sticks!), or turn a paintbrush up the other way. At times I’ve used pins and wax carving tools to get finer detail. Use your scratching implement of choice to start making grooves in the paint. Scratch out a design or an image in the background while the paint is still wet.

Keep going until you’re happy!

If at the end of it you don’t like what you’ve got, you can always take a brush and cover the grooves, add a little water to the brush first, change the scratch design, add more colours and so on until you’re happy.

The finished product.

Not such a great example, I’ll admit.. This was all done very quickly to show a friend how to go about it. The one above has since been dry-brushed over in places with gold acrilyc to separate the background patterns to the lines.

Spicy chilli


1 Tablespoon Paprika (not smoked)
5 Tablespoon Chilli Powder
4-6 Cloves of Garclic, Crushed. Or the equivalent amount of Garlic Puree.
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Oregano
4-5 Chopped Jalapenos
1 Tablespoon Cumin Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

2lbs of Beef Mince
2 Large Onions, finely chopped
1 Beef stock cube
2 Tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tins of kidney beans
Tomato puree

Brown the beef mince in some oil, add in the onions and cook for a little longer. Once cooked, crush the beef stock cube and stir in to the mix.
Drain the kidney beans and add them, along with the tinned tomatoes (3 tins may work better if you’re adding extras like peppers or mushrooms), to the pot. Once it’s all stirred in, add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato puree and stir in well.
When the mix starts to bubble, add the first set of spices and stir until they’re completely mixed in.
Cook on a low-medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the second set of spices and stir until they’re completely mixed in. It may make the chilli go a little dry/powdery. If that happens at any point, add a bit of water until it goes back to being a sauce.
Simmer for an hour.

For the best possible chilli, change the simmering time to 2 hours and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours before reheating and eating.

Complicated as this all sounds, it’s honestly not. You don’t have to pay a lot of attention beyond the browning the mince stage. If it’s 30 minutes before you add the spices? Not a problem.