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Gallery Highlights E-Newsletter March 2017

Read more from the gallery artists whose work has been selected for this month's gallery highlights e-newsletter

Mark Luckhurst   Paul Bennell   Pete Batho   Dermot Brennan   Maureen Sherman   Elizabeth Williams

Black Grouse by Mark Luckhurst

This painting is the first large piece in acrylics I have attempted. I have worked mostly in watercolour and pencil, but, as I wanted to work on larger scale pieces, acrylics seemed a natural progression. I keep the acrylics quite wet and use a similar technique to watercolour.

The painting was inspired by a journey back from Derbyshire. With deep snow covering the fields, we stopped in traffic and, in a field next to us, two pheasants came out of a hedgerow and began attempting to feed through the snow.

I found that the pheasants didn't quite work in the composition, so I introduced the black grouse for a bit more drama.

The detail of the snow came from photos I took on a snowy Essex golf course. I tried to convey the coldness by depicting very little foliage - just a few tufts of Heather, hardly any detail in the background and a low angle to get more of a feeling of being close to the action.

The painting is acrylic on canvas and is 20" by 30".

You can see more of Mark's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here.

The Stour at Longham by Paul Bennell

Hi, my name is Paul Bennell, but I exhibit under the name Pib. I was delighted to be asked to write a few words about this piece. It is the latest in a series that I am creating for a show this summer; more on that later. I like to paint scenes with interesting light so I am particularly drawn to sunsets, big stormy skies or in this case the low January sun. You can’t beat painting plein air, but it’s not always practical. In this instance, the light was too good to waste, and I had had it in mind that I wanted to make a painting of the Stour at Longham, but I only had ten minutes at the location to make some quick sketches and reference notes then take a few photos.

I belong to the Guild of Aviation Artists and Ringwood Art Society and I would recommend that everyone join an art club or society. There is no substitute for attending a series of critiques to improve your work.  I also enjoy reading The Artist and I thought I’d highlight some of the tips I’d picked up along the way and put to work in this painting.

Firstly, I decided to use a square format, this gives a more instant impact and a sense of tension. A strong composition is crucial so I selected a view with a series of triangles leading the eye in to the focal point of the bare tree in the background. A small foreground tree was omitted because it detracted from overall effect.

A very limited palette of artist’s oils was used: Paynes grey, ochre, cerulean and white which help to give a cohesive feel. I never mix paints completely, letting my palette knife produce some nice surprises as it lays the paint down.

I have been painting almost exclusively with palette knives for the last four years. I love the effects that can be produced. Long vertical scrapes of the knife were used for the water; this creates lovely reflections. For the bare trees, I swabbed the sky back with kitchen towel then dabbed Liquin-rich patches of colour in with the flat side of my knife. The river banks and islands had highlights of pure colour added, and this time I used short vertical strokes to represent the scrub. For the sky, I emphasised the brighter light source for effect, using broad sweeps of the knife to add some sense of dynamism to the sky.

If you would like to learn more about my work you can visit my website or my Facebook page, including details of my Summer Exhibition ‘Plain to Sea’ with my artist friend, Rob Hames.

You can also see more of Paul's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here, and on his website,

St. Michael's Mount by Pete Batho

My name is Pete. I was highly honoured when asked if I would write a short piece about my painting, St. Michael’s Mount - Marazion, for the newsletter.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in drawing. I can remember drawing an antelope for inclusion in the school magazine. I would have been about seven or eight at the time. Sadly I never pursued art at school beyond the ‘choices’ year. Being born in the industrial heartland of the Black Country, it influenced my decisions on ‘O’ level subjects, heavily biased towards prospective trades and apprenticeships. I ended up working in Telecoms for nearly all my working life.

My first attempts with watercolour were in the 70s when I bought a small book by the artist John Blockley. My first choice is still watercolour. Over the years I have had periods when I would paint, then I wouldn’t paint for a long time. That changed when I took early retirement in 2014. Since then I have had the time to be more focussed on my art. I have also dabbled in the past with oils and pastel, but never with acrylic for some reason, until last year.

Myself and my wife have always had a love affair with Cornwall. We used to holiday here every year and, in 1997, I was lucky enough to move here with my job. I am primarily a landscape painter and I’m steadily working my way around all the iconic landmarks that this county has to offer.

I love the vibrancy of acrylics, and for this subject I was looking for a contra-jour effect with the Mount against the skyline. The sky and sea were fairly thin washes, with more impasto work in the foreground. I find it quite liberating to paint with a palette knife. It instantly loosens up my style and locks the engineer in me firmly away! The only brushes used were 1/2” flat and a rigger.

Painted on a 20” x 16” sheet of Galeria paper, my palette consisted mainly of earth colours - burnt and raw sienna, burnt umber, yellow ochre, with cadmium orange, ultramarine blue, ultramarine violet, cobalt blue and titanium white. The total painting time was about two hours.

I will be taking part in three exhibitions with my local art society, Bude Art Society, this year. If you are in the area why not come along? Entrance is free and there will be a lot more than just my work on show. The dates are:

  • Bude Information Centre - 14th to 18th April
  • Bude Castle - 22nd September to 12th October
  • Kilkhampton Framers - 17th November to 2nd December

Happy painting,

You can see more of Pete's work on his website at, where his work is available for purchase, and in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here.
You can also find him on Facebook and on Etsy at

Misty Morning by Dermot Brennan

This simple painting was based on a one of the many walks I take locally, it's painted from memory and took about half an hour to paint - it's not a difficult subject. The whole painting was done on very wet or damp paper except for the figure, dog, and the ruts in the road.

After drawing the outline of the various elements I soaked the entire sheet of paper leaving a little circle for the sun on top left; I then dragged a wash of Naples yellow across the top and horizon and cobalt blue across the entire central area, I put in the grasses on the left and right of the road with a mix of raw sienna and Ultramarine mix .

I let the paper dry a bit and, when still damp, I used an ultramarine/ochre mix to paint the house - dropping water at the bottom so it diffused. I then painted the tree trunk and branches, and used the brush on its side to drag some colour across the outside edges. I put the same mix of colour on my brush and spattered the grasses on the right and left, then painted the posts letting it all merge into the grasses.

The figure, dog and the ruts in the road were all painted when the painting was totally dry. A painting like this is fun and easy - it's all about painting loosely and not getting bogged down in the detail.

See more of Dermot's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here. Or visit his website:

Towards Home by Maureen Sherman

The inspiration for this picture came from a photo, given to me by a friend, of a view from her home. I decided to paint it for her because I loved the dramatic sky and the vineyard, which was unusual for a Devon landscape. Her room decor was a duck-egg blue, so I used a palette of cerulean blue and yellow, starting with watercolour for a fluid look and then adding acrylic. However, once I got started, I decided I needed to add a distant town rather than the village which was hardly visible in the photograph. So, I used quite a bit of artistic licence and then decided not to give it to my friend as she had moved house anyway! She did however get a different picture which I knew she liked.

I have always been interested in art, even as a child, and have attended many courses. I took it up more seriously after I lost my lovely son over twenty five years ago. Painting is therapeutic - it takes over the mind and allows escape from the world and it's troubles.

I have a small studio in the attic of The East Devon Art Academy, with a large window overlooking rooftops and  a glimpse of the sea and I sometimes exhibit in the gallery on the first floor. Towards Home will form part of an exhibition from the 7th -14th August, 2017 - which is Folk Week in Sidmouth.  

You can see more of Maureen's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here.

Lilacs in a Bowl by Elizabeth Williams

I paint seascapes, landscapes and floral still life in oils. The seascapes and landscapes are painted en plein air or from my imagination, whilst the still life are from a live set up in my studio. I particularly love lilacs; their colour, their form and of course their smell - they are one of my all time favourites.

Lilacs in a Bowl was painted whilst I was spending time in Andalucia in southern Spain. The light there is a pure delight for painters of floral subjects. There is an abundance of exotic flowers in this lovely country that one can choose to paint - bougainvillea, wild orchids, almond blossom and la dama del noche (lady of the night) which imparts its scent at evening time and is absolutely intoxicating. On my sojourn in Spain, I often took my dog for a walk on  balmy evenings, to enjoy the experience where the senses are assailed and rival the amazing sunsets. Enjoying what Mother Nature offers, generously showing off her beauty as I wandered here, I greedily absorbed all the inspiration that surrounds me.

La Cala de Mijas (below) was also painted whilst in Spain.

With a background in architecture and interior design I moved to Poole in Dorset, where the light is also special, over three years ago.

I now paint full time and have exhibited in London and locally and sell to collectors world wide.

You can see more of my work on my website and of course in the PaintersOnline Gallery.