A blog from the painting studio of E J Lazenby BA(hons), QTFE(2), ASEA

Posts tagged “gift

A day for colour (when I should have been doing something else!)

Well, you know how it is, you have to do something which is quite difficult, so you procrastinate……. manyana………

I’ve a lovely, but extremely difficult painting drawn out on the easel… I looked at it for almost an hour before deciding I needed to get myself in the mood…… you know, avoidance tactics…. The time when even cleaning the loo and putting out the bins seems appealing…..

The little pic I decided to do was all about colour, well not JUST colour, but my favourite colour combination of orange and blue…. yup, I LOVE THEM!

I took a few progress shots on my mobile as I worked, just about three hours later she was complete……

Start point- get rid of the white canvas

My first intentions are to get the staring white of the canvas blocked out… The Atelier paint goes on very dry when I use an imprimatura base, or to you and me, a background layer….

Blocked in

Now I’m ready to draw in my subject with a sharp white pencil, I don’t want to create a dark edge around the horse, just a faint indication of where the main structure and tonal changes are…

Drawn out and blocking in colour

The next bit happens very quickly for me, I rapidly place in the main colours, knowing that I can return and refine the details once this paint layer is dry…

Starting to adjust the colour and detail

Once these paint layers are dry, I start to try and increase the effect of the light; brighten the highlights, crisp up the tonal edges and add some detail…….

Just about done

I’m not wanting to place in too much detail, it’s a small piece and I quite like the looseness of the brushmarks…

The lack of detail….

So she’s now completed…… I’m now all warmed up and motivated to get on with the more difficult one on the easel… It’s after 3pm, so it’s WORKTIME!

Before I sign off, I’ll just share a few more images of my growing obsession with blue/purple and orange/yellow…….

Turning Tide

Fille du Joie

Life room painting

Highland Cattle II



I think I am going to have to allow this colour obsession to slowly work itself out….. I wonder which colour combination will become my next favourite???

Thanks for popping in!

Jane x



Please note the artist copyright on all images; no downloading or usage without prior permission… Thank you…..

Whats all this about ‘glazing medium’ ?

A number of people have asked me to explain how glazing medium works…. Now, I’m no expert! I was only introduced to this new technique by the artist David Mc Ewan, in France, this August….

So I will try my best to explain how I used it within my work, with the aid of a number of ‘work in progress’ shots taken in the studio ‘En France’……  (yup, I’m showing off!)

Well, this bottle of innocent white stuff is ‘the magic liquid’, as I soon began to call it! It is white and gloopy, resembling PVA glue, dries clear, and is used in conjunction with a small amount of pigment that becomes ‘suspended ‘in the body of the liquid. It dries clear, and a little glossy…… It’s so much easier to explain a process using pictures rather than words, so here goes………

Stage 1

STAGE 1 – The horse’s mane is painted in rather starkly; big tonal contrasts and I am basically drawing in the structure with a fine paint brush. I’m wanting the mane to fade away into darkness, so the glazing medium will allow me not only to add layers of transparent colour, allowing the understructure to remain visible, it will also allow me to add shadow, and through repeated layer, allow the main to fade into darkness….

Well, that’s the plan!

Stage 2

STAGE 2– More and more purples, blues, burgundy and dark brown is added in thin layers, it only took a few minutes for each to dry (partly because it was 30 degrees plus in the studio!)

The mane rapidly gains a more solid colour….

Stage 4

STAGE 3– I then start to add shadow colour (ultramarine blue plus burnt umber), again, it’s a steady process and can’t really be rushed…..

The mane tips are glazed over maybe 15 times and they start to become softer and softer, I also glaze the same colour mix into my background so that there is no change within the colour palette, I want the mane to smoothly darken with no perceptible edge… as I look into the areas of the painting where the mane was, a subtle glimpse of mane detail is still visible…..

STAGE 4- The darks are now satisfactory; the mane soft yet still with structure and detail… I’ve used no white in my colours, and there is a lovely depth and richness to the colour, not surprising really when there’s 15 odd layers to it!

In the last photo, the wet layers of the glaze are visible on the hair ends……

To now look at the same technique using a different image. I will shut up now, and let the pictures do the talking….

start point- heightened colour

Still bright, but slowly glazing colour back and softening the edges…

Getting softer…

Softer still….

Completed… about 25 partial glazes… phew!

So that’s it in a nutshell… I now can’t stop glazing, it’s given me the ability to create the velvety softness of shine that has previously, always eluded me…..

You know, I’ve just gotta share these things! It’s way too good to keep all to myself!!

Thanks for joining me, and please come back soon and see what I’m up to!

Jane xx

Painting En France

After a while, the daily grind can get you down…. I’ve not given myself a holiday for a number of years and this summer was my chance to change all of that!

I would be travelling alone, my business was healthy, but my continued obsession to paint narrowed down my choices…

Beach? No, paint would dry too fast……

Mountains? No, asthma would kick in……..

Landscapes? I’d miss my horses too much……

I didn’t want to be part of a group of beginners, but also didn’t really want to be alone. A difficult combination of things to fulfill.

All in all, a ‘horse painting’ holiday seemed just the ticket…. But how did I find one suitable, without too many language limitations, within my budget and not too far away?

Facebook, for all of it’s limitations, came into it’s own! I’d chatted online to the extremely talented equestrian and portrait artist David McEwan, admired his work greatly, and found his sense of humour really refreshing….. AND THEN HE MENTIONED HIS PAINTING HOLIDAYS…….

My ears pricked up!

South of France,

English speaking,

Horse painting…..

I booked a slot of 10 days when my little girl was holidaying with her father, and before I knew it… zoom! I was off…..

I arrived with the minimum of fuss, set my stuff up in the homely studio, switched the fan on and couldn’t wait to start painting… I’d taken a few canvas panels with me, a new set of brushes and my trusty tin of Atelier acrylic paints…. The first evening I slogged away till midnight, just really to get myself into a working headstate….

David’s studio

My first painting was in my usual style of ‘go like hell when the child’s asleep’

I soon found out that one of my main stumbling blocks was that I painted what things ‘sort of’ looked like, not exactly what they looked like after careful consideration……

I can remember being quite pleased with this 3 hour painting, and stumbled off to bed and slept like a log……

First day.     I arrived bright and early in the studio after breakfast, ready for what the day was to bring…..

The first challenge David gave me was to create a detailed pencil drawing from a reference photograph. I chose the eye of a black horse, partly due to the purple/orange colour combination which I love.

My instructions were  “to draw every crease and hair….” (gulp… I’m scared of high detail… gulp)

So, I shut up and got on with the job in hand.

To my relief, David decided after considering the finished piece, that I could draw. And the challenge moved up a step…..

“Enlarge and paint in full colour.”

All of this was done by eye, no tracing or similar short cut. I really felt that I needed to prove to David the skill set I had, hoping that he would then find the gaps in my technique and address them!

How right I was!

I remember smiling and saying “Finished!!!”

“Maybe in another couple of days” was David’s reply……

I’d gone as far as I knew how to with this piece, any further and I was moving into uncharted territory! Now this was really scarey and just what I needed…..(That and more wine)

The eye painting, titled Ame (soul in French) was picked up, worked on and left again on a continuous cycle over the next week. Every time I managed a little more accuracy and structure, colour and detail, softness and depth. NEVER have I pushed a painting so far AND not messed it up!


This piece gave me a real boost in confidence and I moved on to the next creation…..

The reference pic I chose for the next painting was a quick mobile phone snap of my daughter’s little shetland mare, Shelbs…..

I cropped the image and tried to create a composition that allowed me to direct the impact to the eye… Again my colour palette is leaning towards the purple/orange combination….

Now, this piece of work was a real learning experience. The mane area was carefully mapped out and painted in high detail, then David showed me how to use the glazing medium, a substance I quickly called ‘MAGIC LIQUID’ – by using the glazing medium with a small addittion of colour pigment, I was able to darken the mane area slowly, leaving some of the detail work showing creating enormous depth…..

Painting titled ” Fille de Joie “

Previously, if it didn’t show, I wouldn’t bother to paint it, but I rapidly began to see the worth in painting more, to lose a little….


I had taken a partly finished painting with me to France, affectionately named ‘The Tranny’- I had come to the end of the path with this work… I was struggling to know how and where to work next… Her face was too masculine, the colours unbalanced, the intertior unfinished…. sigh…. I hoped that David would be able to see past my limitations, and give me a pathway  into this painting to push it back on track……

   Through a series of colour glazes, I was able to correct and refine the interior colours. I worked on losing the feet, defining the light, warming the gold of the chair. Her face and especially the hands needed to be corrected…. David encouraged me to draw them again in my sketchbook to discover the true structure, then to correct on the painting using a white pencil.


  I’m pretty sure you will be able to spot the differences, the image left, is before, the right image is after….

So, what’s next????

   David encouraged me to return to the dark horses genre that I so love, and I searched online, found and purchased the copyright of an image of a back lit horses head…. This was just pure fun to paint! The colour glazing technique allowed me to build up a true richness to the colours, and my new found ability to create accurate detailed structure was wheeled out again, the more I did, the more I was able to do…….

Painting titled ‘Plume d’Or”

Really loving it at this point!!

   My final piece necessitated another online search for just the right image to conclude my  studio time……

   I chose a super glossy stallion to paint, the challenge was the scale and the level of detail…. I shall blog a piece solely about the progress and process of this one painting, most probably my biggest learning experience to date…… It was like trying to find my way through an intricate maze of double shine!

This painting kept me out of mischief till the send of my stay at Lodeve….. Maybe 30 hours completed only to hear David say “Another couple of days and he will be done”….. This time my response rather than looking totally aghast is to quietly smile, because now I know what I’m doing, how to do it, and what is more, I now know what I’m actually capable of…………

A massive thank you to both David and Sally McEwan for making my stay with them so worthwhile, I chose well and shall be returning……..

To contact David McEwan regarding his painting holidays, see www.paintfrance.com

Last day in the studio, Lodeve, France

Open Studio part of Open Up Sheffield 2012

I’ve just completed day 2 of my 5 days of opening my painting studio up to members of the public…. This year I am the only studio based in Barnsley, all of the other 62 studios participating are in the Sheffield area. Check out the catalogue online for a colour image of each artists work, there are 150 artists! Just click on the web link below:


It is now my 4th year of this event, my visitors have been trickling in to my secluded countryside base, quality not quantity I say! I can happily report that 3 originals have now found new homes. I have over 60 paintings on display and have converted my studio and dining room into gallery spaces complete with white voile drapes and matching labels (really pushing the boat out here!)

Over the course of the last few days I have completed some  new works shown below…

Watching. 12 x 16" coloured pencil

Watching. 12 x 16″ coloured pencil. For Sale

Whizzy Woo and Ferg, 10 x 12" acrylic

Whizzy Woo and Ferg, 10 x 12″ acrylic. NFS

It has been lovely to open my private space to visitors and to talk about the inspiration and techniques I use, my last year’s artistic journey and also my plans for the future.

I’m a stones throw from The Yorkshire Sculpture Park and welcome you to pop into my secluded countryside base and have a cuppa and scone….. it would be great to meet you!

The BIG commission…

Whilst busily working on my 100 day challenge, I’ve also been quietly working on my commissions…..

The latest of which had a few faltering starts……

It’s top secret, which often does not bode well for obtaining the best photographs available! I’ve had to take a photo of two provided photos with my zoom lens, just to get enough detail to work with… the third photo was acquired via two MMS photo to phone transfers, over a 3 week timescale, put through Photoshop and still then, provided me with only the bare essentials of the animal…. I’d waited and waited to receive the full set of photos, and with the deadline getting close, we had to just bite the bullet and get on with it…….

first session
I’ve had to be a bit ‘stop and start’ juggling my studio time around my little one, teaching time and 100 challenge painting time. I ended up with an 8 day deadline, rather uncomfortable for a painting of this size (36″ x 16″) and complexity….

session 2

Maybe I should explain my studio equipment… the towel is my ‘brush wipe’ so I don’t add too much water to my colour mixes after washing my brush… the ceramic plate is my palette of choice; smooth, solid, white and easy clean (the most important bit!) the dog, labradoodle Tessa, often lays and watches with the occasional nose dab….
I have been able to work a couple of hours most days, and the three stallions started to take shape… I had different lighting effects in each photograph, so had to try and balance the directional light source so each individual had a similar highlight and shadow pattern….

third session


fourth session

 A day before the urgent deadline I managed to complete the painting… phew….. It is due to be presented to the horse’s breeder over this weekend, and I await feedback with anticipation… I hope that she loves my painting of her 3 ‘boys’….. Rembrandt, Maximillion 381 and Dubloon……



Maximillion 381



Trying new techniques, my GSD commission

Whats on the easel this week?………

I’ve been busy with my 100 challenge as you know, but I’ve managed to make some good progress on my latest commission. I stopped commission work while I was ill last month, but I’ve now regained my energy and brain power, and I’m hard at it!

My first stage is to draw my outlines; I try to be as accurate as I can at this stage….. The photo is a little dark as I was burning the ‘midnight oil’.  A4 photo used as reference……..

Stage 1

My next stage is where the fun starts! I start by blocking in loose areas of colour until I have the majority of the animal and background area with a basic ‘undercoat’ of colour…..

Stage 2


Stage 3

Then this is where the hard work starts….slowly layering detail, adjusting the structure and glazing over areas to create more depth and highlight……

Stage 4

As yet, the nose and tongue areas need a lot more work, and I need to adjust my tones further and add detail to the neck and chest areas….I’m happy with the progress so far, it’s just that I now need daylight studio hours to complete this portrait, rather than midnight under electric lamp hours…..

Will update you on my progress…….