November 2020

I hope you are well.

The year rolls on.  Difficult times in many ways, but perhaps some recent signs of hope?

I won’t say much this time, though there are a few ‘news’ items and links at the bottom of this post.
I thought I’d show some pictures though, since it’s been a while.


A Scottish visit in October

A chance for my only getaway of the year came in October, and a lovely visit to Fife, spent walking and contemplating by the sea.  Here are a couple of paintings of the area, done from photos on my return since I wasn’t able to paint plein air.

Approaching St Monan’s


Quiet evening at Cellardyke


A couple of Plein Airs since last time:

Trees Near Didmarton


Whitley Farm Barn, Wiltshire


Abandoned for fear of life (loss of).

Actually this one was pretty scary for a minute or two.  The painting wasn’t a good one anyway, but near the end I found myself being investigated by a sizable number of sizable cows.  I’ve been in the middle of cows several times over the years ‘in the field’, and it’s usually a bit unnerving.  They do tend to want to lick or at least sniff every part of gear, and you.  It’s the suddenness of their appearance very quietly from behind, that’s always unnerving.  And they tend to approach at quite a pace!  I like the poor things a lot, though.  They’re friendly, just inquisitive and big.


And another few studio ones:

On A Footpath Near Saltford


Autumn Near Kelston Round Hill


Stormy Sea At Seaton (from a past Leisure Painter ‘painting project’ article, 2020)



A painting framed on client’s wall, sent to me by the new owner (Thanks again, Kit).  One of my particularly ‘grey’ ones, of the Somerset levels.  I do like how this was mounted and framed.


A few other quick things

I contributed to an article in Companion Stairlifts magazine!  On the subject of the benefits of painting.  That is HERE, if you’d like to have a read.

I also contributed to a Jacksons Art blog, where I was asked to explain my choice of colour palette, along with a few other landscape watercolourists.  You can read that HERE, and I’ve also added this along with info on my other basic materials since I get asked quite a lot, on my About page, if you scroll down a bit.  (By the way, I’ve pretty much stopped using Burnt Umber at all in recent times, so that’s me down to just 8 colours max, 5 in most cases and just 3 quite often.)

I discovered I am featuring to some extent in a new book, though no one actually bothered to inform me.  Here’s the book:

I can’t recommend buying it and have no idea what my contribution is, but assume it is rehashing articles I’ve written in the past for publications other than Leisure Painter.  I’ll receive nothing from any sales.

I recently tested some paints from a new UK based watercolour manufacturer, who offered to develop with me a signature range.  Quite exciting, initially (flattering anyway), though tempered with the fact that I don’t actually wish to be an ‘ambassador’ for any company.  I offered to help anyway, but the paints sadly turned out not to be high quality so following my feedback that didn’t go any further.

Similarly, I was asked to write about a new range of paint brushes for another company, but I couldn’t honestly say that I liked them, or even that they were really what they claimed to be.  Instead I offered to write an investigatory article into the true situation with regard to ethicality and environmental aspects of brush manufacture, delving into polyester/’vegan’ brushes and animal hair use, but this wasn’t taken up.  I’ve looked into it myself, and it is a complicated business.  Vegan, but millions of tiny bits of plastic….  Animal hair, but as a byproduct of food industry…. I’ve written most of an article after finding out as much as I could about all this, so I might put that on the blog one day, though I couldn’t reach a very useful conclusion.

My own ongoing ideas for various projects, including book, video based course, written course and more are always being updated and added to, but this year, during which I’ve tried and failed to move house amongst all the rest of it, has trapped me at times in a kind of dysfunctional doubt-and-confusion limbo, about pretty much everything.

Thank you if you have purchased my Plein Air video, which if you haven’t seen is available to buy HERE (please follow the links to see a trailer/preview).  I’m very grateful for each and every sale, always – of a video or painting – but they are especially helpful in this current climate.

I will be NOT SELLING/SHIPPING PAINTINGS TO OUTSIDE the UK – from Dec – until I see what problems Brexit might create.  Sending paintings through the post is always worry enough until I hear they’ve arrived safely!  I’m taking no chances.  However, if you live outside the UK and are interested in a painting, please contact me and a reservation can be arranged. 

I’m hopeful that my painting holidays/courses will be able to go ahead next year at Dedham Hall and Big Sky Art.  Bookings are being taken, so please consider joining me and get in touch if you have any questions at all.  I really have missed the contact this year, including art group visits, other workshops and socialising in general around painting, including my plein air group.  Most of us benefit a lot from this camaraderie and the pleasure of sharing good experiences, and though I find plein air is always beneficial to me when alone, the sharing of experiences always makes it better.  I am enjoying meeting people one to one via Zoom, though, so thankfully all is not lost.

Finally, Comments are now visible on my blog again.  It’s always nice to hear from you whenever you fancy leaving a message.

Until next time, take care.




Comments On This Post

Mike Davies 10 months ago. Reply

very many thanks – a great deal of food for thought for me. As you see I have a lot to learn ….

Mike Davies 10 months ago. Reply

Hello Jem,
just a quick comment on your Videos ‘Studio
Painting’ and ‘Spring Evening Hedgerow’ which
I have. Both are excellent and I appreciate your
‘down to earth’ way of explaining things that
are not actually so easy ! Personally I would
like to see a bit more from you on the subject
of ‘colour mixing’ though !

    Jem Bowden 10 months ago. Reply

    Hi Mike,
    Glad you like the videos, but yes, it’s true that I don’t talk that much about colour, or colour mixing.
    There are reasons for this, routed in my general philosophy regarding colour. I haven’t yet discussed it at great length all in one place, perhaps; at least not on a Video. But in VERY BRIEF – people worry far too much about colour! For example, you don’t generally need to match colours you see very closely, just vaguely will generally do! eg ‘a green is a green’ and a ‘blue is a blue’. Think about colour in terms of relativity, and in terms of cool and warm variations, and bright and grey/muted variations. Then just choose a palette of colours that YOU like.
    Regarding ‘Mixing’, Mike, think much more about the paint:water ratio, than the colour. How dilute the mix is, and in relation to how damp/wet/dry the paper is at the time. This helps you judge Tone (Value), which is of greater concern. Colour can be viewed much more as a subjective issue, whereas tone can in a sense be more an issue of ‘right or wrong’. Assuming you’re aiming to work in a representational way…
    I recommend working with just 3 (a version of the primaries – for me that’s normally Indian Red, Raw Umber and Thalo/winsor blue – Red shade) or just 2 colours – a cool and a warm. This has many advantages for learning, not least that the simplification will help you focus on all the other aspects of painting (other than colour) which are every bit as important or more so (at least, to me and the way I paint).
    I’m writing about Colour a bit in my book, which I seem to be actually getting properly down to at this moment. Despite the fact that I generally hate my writing so will never be happy with the book!!

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