A question of attitude

"A New Dawn"  watercolour    26 x 33 cm   © Elizabeth Tyler 2017.

I began to paint this watercolour of the view from my cockpit while anchored in the bay of Dokos island in Greece. The sun was about to rise and sent a bright yellow glow across the sky, splitting up the dark clouds of the night. The hills were still in darkness but it was possible to see the sparse vegetation on the slopes. The sea reflected some of the light that was promising to brighten the day.
When I started the painting I was in a very sad and pensive mood, absorbed in deep and serious thought about my life. I was soon to leave my boat, my friends and Greece for the year and, at this age, could not know for certain if I would ever return. Not only was the summer but also, I felt then, a period of my life over.  I painted the clouds even darker than they were and the hills as silhouettes in ivory black. The sea was only suggested with a few strokes of grey.
After returning home to Sweden I left the painting out of sight for a couple of months. I considered it a worthless failure, which also reflected my mood at the time. However after gradually and step by step regaining a grip on myself I took the painting up again and used it as a kind of therapy. I lightened the clouds, brightened the details and created more light by washing the darkness away.
A promising new year was about to begin.

I thought about attitude in general.
Either you only see the threatening clouds, the dark landscape and the murky water, or you see something quite different;
The promising sunlight, the warm glow, the fascinating landscape and the refreshing water.
It’s the same scene but it’s your choice how you look at it.


New video

During the summer months, as often before, I spent my time living aboard my boat in Greece. This time I concentrated on writing a book about painting the sea. It's still not finished but it will be soon, I promise!
In the meantime I did do some sailing and in order to document it with a video I had the help of a friend who filmed my boat under sail from a distance. Also I had another friend, Kirsten, who joined me for a week so we could paint watercolours together.
We didn't do much painting but we had a great time! She managed to film some sequences during very hard weather, something I couldn't do while I was steering the boat. 
The last voyage of the season was a nine hour journey from Poros to Kilada. After a good night's sleep I painted and filmed the work in progress of a watercolour of the bay before dawn from the boat.
This is the resulting video.

My watercolour painting " Before the dawn"

World Wide Watercolour exhibition

My painting "On the rocks" at the World Wide Watercolour exhibition in Hillerød

It was a great honour to be invited to participate in the World Wide Watercolour exhibition in Denmark, so I travelled from my boat in Greece to be there for the opening. I am so glad I did because I not only had the pleasure of meeting old and new friends amongst the visitors but also fellow artists from all over the world. I wouldn't have missed this for the world!
Here is a link to Marianne Gross blog with lots of photos from the exhibition.

About the exhibition:
Denmark's first truly international watercolour exhibition;  World Wide Watercolor opened at Annaborg in Hillerød, Denmark on the 19th of August and will continue until the 1st of October. 
Never before has there been an international watercolour exhibition with such diversity on Danish soil. The audience can see works by 32 artists from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Germany, England, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Serbia, Thailand, New Zealand and Canada. The exhibition is composed so that it shows a wide variety of expressions as well as subjects, techniques and sizes. In total more than 125 works are displayed on two floors.

Over the years, Hillerød Art Association has built a reputation for arranging Danish and Nordic watercolour exhibitions of high artistic quality. This time the field expanded to this international exhibition featuring high-ranking artists from several European and even overseas countries.
The artists Mona Sloth and Marianne Gross, both from Holte, have curated the exhibition for the art association. They have their background in the international watercolour scene, both from private contacts and from their involvement in the Nordic Watercolour Society.
The artists are, in alphabetical order:

Annette Bryne,  Ingrid Buchtal,  Austin Corcoran,  Anet Duncan,  Per Henrik Eriksson,  La Fe, Graham Flatt,  Lilianne Goossens,  Marianne Gross,  Lars Holm,  Leila Hunter, Margaretha Jansson,  Hanne Julie Johansen,  Karin Keane,   Inge Mette Kirkeby,  Arto Korhonen,  Lars Kruse,  Jonina Ninny Magnusdottir,  Jan Min,  Derek Mundell,  Peter Vilhelm Nielsen,  Maija Närhinen,  Endre Penovac,  Lars A Persson,  Jonas Pettersson,  Esther Sarto,  Måns Sjöberg,  Mona Sloth,  Hazel Soan,  Monique Tevenie,  Elizabeth Tyler,  Piet van Leuven.
Opening hours Thursday 15-18, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12-16 in Annaborg, Frederiksværksgade 2a, Hillerød. There is a free entrance.
Waves over rocks  watercolour 54 x 37 cm
 At the opening the visitors were encouraged to hug an artist. This is me hugging a fan; Christian Lemée
Surf over stones  watercolour  54 x 37 cm


A new book emerging

In case anyone’s wondering what I’m up to I thought I’d better publish an update.
After months of hard work with paintings and exhibitions it was time to take a break and do something else. Something I have wanted to do for quite some time.
So I am now sitting on my boat in Greece writing a book. This time the book will printed on real paper and not an ebook.
Actually “writing” is not really a description of the work I’m doing as the book will mostly be comprised of photographs of my artwork. There will be short descriptions of each piece and small anecdotes about the work. The theme of the book is the sea, so as I sit here surrounded and inspired by the sea, the book is gradually taking shape.
Bit by bit, page after page the layout is created on my computer with the over one hundred photographs of watercolours and acrylic paintings. 
I know I can’t keep away from the actual process of painting for very long so I’ll get back to that in due course but until then I spend every day in front of the computer.
Sitting in the shade in the cockpit of my boat, creating the layout for my new book.


Sea birds

Final approach                                              Watercolour 56 x 75 cm                                       © Elizabeth Tyler  2017
In these latest watercolour paintings I was inspired by the seagulls I have often seen along the coast of southern Sweden. Sea birds are often considered a symbol of freedom and this was very much the case for me. I grew up in the middle of England, as far from the coast you could possibly be. We didn't see the sea at all most of the year so it was a great treat and part of the wonderful feeling of being on holiday when we could take a trip to the coast. On the way the whole family would compete with each other by spotting the first seagull. Then we knew we would soon see the sea.
In the first painting "Final Approach"  I have tried to capture the moment when the seagull lowers it's "landing gear" and prepares to land on some rocks on the breakwater. I liked the combination of rocks, seaweed and calm water with the seagull suspended in air for just a moment.
Seagull in Storm                                         Watercolour 56 x 75 cm                                       © Elizabeth Tyler  2017

At my favourite location Kulla Berg I encountered another seagull suspended in air. In "Seagull in Storm" the bird was seen against the backdrop of dark granite cliffs. Although the seagull was actually quite still, balancing in the wind, the sea and spray was in violent motion. I purposely painted the background out of focus with no sharp contours to create a feeling of distance and movement. This was done by using the wet into wet technique, layer over layer while the bird was masked out. After all was dry I painted the details of the seagull and softened the edges.


New video on youtube, sailing and painting.

Although this video starts with clips of me solo sailing in Greece it is also about how I find inspiration for my paintings and some of the techniques I use. In this case it is a watercolour painted from my boat at a mooring off the island of Poros. Hope you enjoy it.
click here: sailing on single handed
Early morning on Poros                                             watercolour                                       © Elizabeth Tyler 2016


Painting larger than life

For my upcoming solo exhibition in a beautiful art hall in Denmark I decided to have a splurge and paint something in a large scale.
I rather like the idea of tall narrow paintings inspired by the traditional Japanese hanging scrolls. In these the eye can wander through the painting from bottom to top taking in the details on the way.
I felt this subject with stranded seaweed on the beach could almost be reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy. The composition itself matched the planned format nicely.
Taking many (and I mean many)reference photos along the local beach I finally narrowed the subject matter down to this ( see below). By cropping and adding details in the foreground the perspective was purposefully exaggerated.
After covering the white canvas with a base colour of pale orange I painted the sea and sky, graduating from light ultramarine to light turquoise and back.
The rocks in the background were painted diffuse with pale shadows. An acrylic marker was used to sketch the stones and shells on the sand. 

In order to keep track of the perspective I put all the shadows in place by painting these in paynes grey.
 Then the laborious work of filling in the details could begin.

drinking a cup of coffee in front of  the finished painting
"Calligraphy of the Sea" 220x100cm © Elizabeth Tyler


Splashing sea

No, I am not changing my style of painting to a Jackson Pollock lookalike. (I could perhaps be tempted as his price record for a painting was 140 million USD. ) It was Pollock who replaced the brush stroke with millions of drips and blobs in the abstract expressionist style of the middle of the last century.
I'm not using so many drips and blobs though, mostly squiggles.

But no matter what you use or how you
applying thin lines of acrylic paint with a fine pen.
apply paint to a surface, its the end result that matters and before that the noble art of being able to judge when the painting is finally finished. A close up view of any painting or photograph will look totally abstract because it's brought out of context. When working on the finer details of my paintings I nearly always have my nose just a few centimetres away from the canvas. With my reading glasses on I can concentrate on the nearest area of the work and the rest is out of focus. There is then the danger of losing the overall impression and composition. So a few steps back to look at the work from a distance is very often necessary many times during the painting process. The larger the work the further distance it should be viewed from.
The finished result  "Splashing Sea" 32 X 32 cm © Elizabeth Tyler 2016


Seascapes in acrylics

My painting "Morning glow" ( 33 x 97 cm) in the cockpit of my boat
Being surrounded by seawater for several months a year I feel inspired by it every day. I felt an irresistible urge to describe the ever changing colours, the random patterns of shapes in the ripples and the sparkling light and deep shadows in the waves. Also the way the sea sometimes disappears in haze in the distance, merging in a horizonless transition with the sky.
So I decided to work on some paintings with only the sea as subject matter. The sea would be the centre of attention in itself. No stones, rocks or seabirds, just water.

It's been done before, I know, by millions of artists throughout time, all over the world, there's nothing new under the sun.  Nevertheless I wanted to capture the scene at different times of the day and give each painting my own personal interpretation, rendering them in every detail.
"Misty sea" acrylics on canvas 45 x 69 cm


Step by step, an acrylic painting in progress

Painting on board my "floating studio" in Greece
The first four stages of the painting

This painting is 97 cm x 33cm. The step by step photographs were just taken with an iphone in varying light conditions, the quality is not so good but gives you an idea of the work involved.

The beach was bathed in a glowing yellow light just before the sun went down so I started by grounding the white canvas with a flat layer of yellow ochre. Then I added transparent washes of yellow, green, blue and white for the sea.  After that had dried I broke up the surface with short brush strokes of the same colours. The stones at the edge of the sea with their shadows and highlights were added and  blues and greens of the wet sand were worked into the surface. For this I used brushes of varying size and while the colour was still wet I lifted the paint again with a colour shaper. This technique reveals the underlying colour in stripes and dots to render the surface of the beach.

The last four stages of the painting "Evening n the beach"
I added darker shadows between the ripples and small waves and varied the direction slightly to give the impression that the water is flowing onto a slanting beach.
Using brushes and fan-brushes to seamlessly blend the colours I then used toothbrushes to flick tiny spots of colour for the spray and the sand. a colour shaper is great  to move the wet paint into flowing lines, and a natural, wet sponge to lift the colour and merge into diffuse patterns. Lastly I used a ruling pen to draw the light yellow lines across the wet sand.
I decided the painting needed something more in the foreground so I placed a few imagined stones at the bottom, taking care to use the same light and shadow as the existing group of stones in the centre of the painting.

The white foam spray looked a little artificial at first so it took some more work to add shadows between and under the tops of light spray. 


Swirling Sand - a new watercolour

Swirling sand          Watercolour 62 x 42 cm               © Elizabeth Tyler 2016
 A favourite subject of mine to paint has for several years been the beach. The dividing line where the land meets the sea seems symbolic and fascinating. Spending many months a year on my boat in Greece I never have far to find a potential subject. This time I found a small area of a beach with different coloured stones lying in the wet sand. Small waves were constantly washing over and around the stones keeping them wet and enhancing their colours. 
I painted the sand first in tiny dots of yellow, ochre, burnt sienna and blue/grey. This was done with the help of a toothbrush, spattering the different colours over the area. I then painted the stones one by one taking care to keep the white shiny dots of light clean. Lastly I wetted the area of sand where I wanted to render the swirling shallow water. This didn't turn out right at all at first because the underlying colours were dissolved and it all looked muddy. More like sewage water than the clear Mediterranean sea! I had to scrub the paper's surface with a wet saucepan scrubber and soak up the pigment. Afterwards I lightened the area where the water was painted with an aquarelle pencil. In other places I used the pencil again to suggest highlights in the swirling water around the stones.


Take off

Take off time                                  Watercolour                             © Elizabeth Tyler 2016
This is a watercolour painting which has been lying in my studio, unfinished for some time.
It's from a photo I took during the winter when the water in the Sound was partially covered in ice.
I was fascinated by the way the black backed gull took off amidst a spray of water. The dark rocks of the harbour wall brought a dramatic contrast to the soft snowy ice on the surface of the sea.
It was one of my more challenging works in watercolour and I am quite certain I will never be able to do anything like it again.


Watercolour Biennale Vancouver

I have just been informed that my watercolour painting "A walk on the wild side" has been selected by the IWS jury for the 1st International watercolour society Biennale 2016 in Vancouver Canada.
The entries from all over the world were selected on the base of photographs of the artworks. I will now be sending the original but haven't decided yet if I will attend in person.
The exhibition will take place in July this year.
"A walk on the wild side"                    watercolour                        © Elizabeth Tyler 2016


My living room right now. (The walls are not really curved its just camera distortion)
Altogether 62 of my acrylics, watercolours, lithographs and photographs are now exhibited in my hall, stairs, livingroom and kitchen.
Everything is finally ready for the annual open studio event which opens tomorrow. So if you are anywhere near Borstahusen Sweden you're welcome, just follow the signs.
The event Konstrundan Nordvästra Skåne with a total of 146 participating artists is open from Good Friday until the 3rd April.


New DVD finally released!

Four years ago I started work on a water-colour painting and filming the work-in-progress, step by step. It was to be a chapter in a new art educational DVD I planned to produce.

Filming the work in progress in my studio
Recording ambient sound in the woods
Little did I know then of how my life would turn out and how many other plans would radically change.
Nevertheless I couldn't let this project go and I kept coming back to it. I painted other watercolours, filming the work as the paintings progressed. Then in the time consuming editing process I wasn't satisfied with the result, I wanted this video to be something special. So other paintings came and went and the DVD project kept being put aside.

At last I decided to make a big effort to get it finished. Choosing four of the paintings I was most satisfied with, I edited the large amount of footage taken during the work on these. I could finally compile the chapters for a 74 minute DVD called Depth and Detail in Watercolour.
I can't count how many times I had promised my distribution agent Peter at Pulsar Productions Australia that the DVD was soon to be finished. I am so very grateful for his patience and encouragement through the years.

So here it is folks, the trailer for the DVD. The full length film (with on-screen text describing all the colours etc) is now available world wide both as a physical DVD and as streaming on-line video.  Get the full version DVD here


(If you have a good connection choose to watch this trailer in HD quality) 

PS I have just received this testimony from a customer:
I love Elizabeth's grit and unique style.  This DVD was so much more than I expected.  She shows you how to use every resource and that you don't need a shiny new box of paints to create a masterful work of art.  Thank you
Crystal Lindenberger


Waves on stones

Sunny days with cloudless skies are not always an advantage when painting watercolours. Especially here in Greece when the sun burns like a furness, mercilessly from dawn to dusk. The colours dry too fast, the heat is sometimes unbearable and it's not always practical to find a place in the shade or rig up a large parasol. In the first light of the early morning though or just after sunset the remaining light has a fascinating, almost magnetic attraction. On the beach at this time there is also the advantage of fewer people around to disturb.
My method of working is often a combination of sketching/painting plein air and photographing the subject to work on later when the light changes. For detailed work I  usually take a few items like stones, weed etc. back with me to my "floating studio".
In these latest works I wanted to experiment in depicting breaking waves and the movement of water juxtaposed against the hard, static, shiny wet stones.
After masking the upper edges of where the stones should be I literally poured diluted blue colours onto wet paper and tilted the drawing board in different directions to render the flow of the waves. By working wet into wet I avoided any hard edges and kept the impression of the sea in soft focus. When this was dry I could continue with the details of the wet stones, carefully keeping small patches of dry clean paper as highlights. 
To get the effect of splashing water in soft focus over the background stones I painted diagonal stripes with clean water and absorbed surplus colour with paper napkins.



"Resting pebbles"                                             watercolour 42x 66 cm                                              © Elizabeth Tyler 2015

Pebbles on the beach have always fascinated me. They are universal, they can be seen anywhere in the world. This happens to be on a Greek beach but the stones, pebbles and sand all amount to the same thing, or do they? 

Not unlike human beings, every single one of them has it's own personality, shaped and coloured by the environment they happen to be situated in. Some are firmly set and embedded in the underlying sand where they have been for years. Others roll around and dance with every wave and even pretend they can float on air. Some have a rough, structured surface, bleached by the sun, others are polished smooth, almost transparent, every day absorbing and reflecting the warm glow of the sun.
That's the fascinating thing about people - I mean pebbles...


Feedback about my ebook "Watercolour in Detail"

I would like to share a couple of the warming, positive comments I have received about my ebook "Watercolour in Detail". (If you're wondering: No, I haven't written these myself!)
Larali wrote: I hope someone realizes you belong in Art History.  To immortalize your techniques, your genius and your passion for beauty will inspire and enable generations to come to follow their dreams.  Thanks for sharing, in this digital age, your amazing talent and provide us, the contemporaries, a glimpse of a Master.
Crystalheart9 wrote:
This ebook is a fantastic resource of watercolor technique and information. I have just recently purchased it and have learned some wonderful new ways of using watercolors. Anyone who wants to paint with watercolor should purchase this beautiful ebook.

For those of you who haven't seen the presentation video about the ebook, here it is
( if the video above doesn't start automatically click on this link instead: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oxOLAbPq8c  )
This is a short presentation about my ebook which is available online for instant download.
The description of the book is as follows:

This ebook in PDF format is primarily written for those who have worked with watercolour for some time, but also new beginners will find help and inspiration. In the course of giving tips and ideas, practical advice and instruction many rules are broken in a different approach to the traditional concept of watercolour painting
“Watercolour in detail” has 106 pages with 224 illustrations.

Apart from methods, tools and techniques the 14 chapters cover a wide range of subject matter including flowers, animals, people and buildings. Also how to paint the sky and the sea, fruit and vegetables and subjects on the beach. What to take with you when travelling with watercolours and how to find unusual subjects by taking a closer look. A chapter about painting watercolours in large formats covers  important things to consider before starting. The book also dedicates a few pages to mistakes and how to avoid them or correct them when things went wrong anyway.
Finally there are some hints and words of advice about how to look after your finished work.

Sell Digital Goods from A Plus Download File Hosting Service If you would like the book it costs 19.95 USD and payment is processed securely by Paypal. Note: The pdf book works on any computer. For iPad just download to your computer first, then transfer it using iTunes.
You can also see more about it at www.elizabethtyler.com


Seagull in storm - work in progress

During the latest winter storm  here in Sweden, I drove to Kullaberg, a beautiful high and rocky headland which reaches out in the Kattegat. This is a favourite destination of mine where I knew the waves would be just about as high as they get around here. The sea is quite deep and the coastline exposed to the north westerly winds.
I took a great number of reference photographs for this painting and combined them to compose this view of a seagull hovering over the waves. The dark rocks served as a backdrop to set off the gull and a contrast to the blue-green foaming waves.

Scroll down and see some step by step shots of the painting in progress...

I started by drawing some guidelines to keep track of the composition. The outline of the gull was taped before painting the dark brown background.

The different shades of the waves blue and green colours where roughly blocked in using thin washes of Ultramarine, Paynes grey, Pthalo blue green and cerulean blue.  Titanium white was painted where the foam should be. I used my fingers to smudge the transitions.

I spent some time painting the different shades of brown in both the rocks and the gull.

The markings and shadows under the gulls wings where rendered in blue, umber and burnt sienna. I added white highlights where the low lying sun touched the outlines of the gull.
 I worked for hours on the details of the frothing waves, using small brushes and feathering any hard lines with a soft dry fan brush.

Covering the gull with a thin wash of
white to bring it forward and
create a contrast to the background 


Drama in New York!

On the second day of my New York visit I wasn't feeling well but tried to ignore it and met up with May for another tour of galleries in the city. After that it was a great privilege to be invited to the Manhattan home of May and her husband Bob. I was able to study May's impressive works of art while Bob entertained on the grand piano. I really and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful music, amazing artworks and an awesome view of the sunset over the Hudson river.
Unfortunately though my stay in New York didn't turn out to be so perfect as it started off. In the evening, back in my room at Queens, my stomach pains got unbearable. I was alone in the apartment so I rang May to ask for advice, she told me to ring 911.
It was definitely not on my bucket list to be dashed across New York in an ambulance with flashing lights and and howling sirens, but that's what happened next! 

A rough sketch of the ambulance
I was taken to New York Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan and after 24 hours in the emergency department the diagnosis was: acute diverticulitis. After that It turned out that I couldn't tolerate the antibiotics they prescribed so I had to stay for another 5 days. 
That was my week in New York!
So for the 2nd time on this trip I missed my flight, this time it was my trip home that wasn't possible.

Skyline of Manhattan just before sundown

On the very last day of my extended stay in New York I was grateful to be collected by car and taken to Staten island for dinner and sightseeing. Thanks to the great initiative and effort of Lynn and Tom and the kind hospitality of Josefine. 

I did finally get to see a glimpse of the statue of liberty (far left) from Staten island.

Fortunately I had a travel insurance. They payed the hospital bill, arranged and payed a hotel room after my discharge from the hospital and a new flight home. All in all a bill of 33,000 USD!!! 
I will never ever travel anywhere without insurance!