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On safari, in the nursery wardrobe!

Chalk painted furniture with a safari animal theme

Chalk painted furniture with a safari animal theme has brightened up my recent days! I enjoyed this, pre-Christmas, commission to paint nursery furniture for two baby boys. The client had good quality, but mismatched, furniture that was otherwise ideal for the room. The project was to transform a large stripped wardrobe, a dark wood chest and two side tables, into items suitable for an adventurous nursery!

Stage sets, wall murals and carnival floats aside, this was a new area for me. After a little research, I decided to use chalk paints, and more specifically, Frenchic chalk paints for the project. These are non-toxic, readily available locally and the colour range is exiting. If you are thinking of doing something similar with furniture of your own, my recent experiences with this type of paint may be of interest to you.

‘Frenchic’ for chalk painted furniture

The paint colours used in this project:-

Frenchic Lazy Range
  • Hot as Mustard
  • Creme de la Creme
  • Wolf Whistle
  • Loof
Frenchic Al Fresco Inside / Outdoor Range
  • Ol’ Blue Eyes
  • Hot Lips
  • Constance Moss

Additional items included, Frenchic oval brushes, Frenchic detail brushes, Frenchic Finishing Coat, sandpaper, masking tape, dust sheets, rags, a large flat screwdriver for opening the tins of paint and a hammer for closing them.

What is Frenchic paint?

Frenchic is a chalk and mineral paint with a wax infusion. It is certified child safe (EN 71:3). The paint drys to a lovely matte finish.

Local supplier

I chose a fairly local supplier, My Fab Find. The shop, in Andover, is run by Amanda Parkinson and stocked, or sourced, everything that I required. If you want to try painting something similar yourself, I can recommend My Fab Find, Unit 10 Kenyon’s Yard, 80a Weyhill Road, Andover, Hampshire, UK, SP10 3NP. Phone 07770 365662 to speak to Amanda. 

Beginning with a safari animal theme

Excited about trying the new tins of paint, I first experimented on a small coffee table that I had at home. It quickly became obvious that the paints were easy to use had almost no odour and were quick to dry between coats. I found the detail brushes well-shaped and easy to use, while the oval brushes were fantastic for rapid coverage. When mixing the paints, I stuck to mixing just two or three paints from the same product range together and had no problems.

Since it was particularly large and heavy, I worked on the client’s wardrobe in situ and painted it first. The smaller items I brought back to the studio to paint.

Having washed down the surfaces with sugar soap, I applied a base coat or two of ‘Wolf Whistle’ to each item of furniture. This light grey paint covered well and I knew that it would instantly unify the mismatched group of furniture.

Designing the safari animal decoration for the nursery furniture

The following snaps illustrate the design process. Since Botswana is a particularly popular safari destination, I selected animals found there as subjects for the nursery furniture decoration. Firstly, I made a scale drawing of the key piece of furniture, the wardrobe. Then I played around with lots of cut out photographs of safari animals. I also researched typical African patterns and African fabric designs. Once I had a feel for what was wanted, I made a watercolour sketch of my vision for the wardrobe.

As I designed the furniture, I imagined stories that young children may hear while growing up. Stories about animals who lived in harmony, animals who fought, animals who hunted one another, animals who ran very fast and animals who crept rather slowly. Tales of animals who had difficult youngsters and animals who had easy young, animals who laid eggs, animals who flew and animals who crawled. Tall creatures, tiny creatures, scaled creatures, furry creatures and slimy creatures. I wanted to include them all!

Painting the safari animal wardrobe

The wardrobe was immaculately pre-stripped. These snaps show my initial base coat of Frenchic Lazy Range ‘Wolf Whistle’, grey, and subsequent use of Frenchic Lazy Range ‘Hot as Mustard’, yellow, used to draft out the design onto the wardrobe. Once these stages were dry, I switched to Frenchic Alfresco ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and began to work up the background shapes.

I continued to build up the design using blue. I immediately noticed a marked difference in the way the Frenchic Lazy Range and the Frenchic Alfresco range paints performed. In order to achieve a similarly flat and opaque surface result, the Frenchic Alfresco Range paints that I used for this project required many more coats of paint than did the Frenchic Lazy Range paints. I also found Frenchic Alfresco Range paints less efficient at self-levelling than were Frenchic Lazy Range paints. As a consequence of the experience, were I to embark on further indoor furniture projects of this type, I would be inclined to stick to the colours available in the Frenchic Lazy Range and to avoid the Frenchic Alfresco Range. Having said that, the fabulous Frenchic Alfresco Range colours were perfect for this project and looked well together!

Next came a green, ‘Constance Moss’, and a lovely red, ‘Hot Lips’. I mixed these two colours together to make a satisfying range of browns.

Various greys were achieved using a rich dark grey, Frenchic Lazy Range, ‘Loof’. This was mixed with the light grey, Frenchic Lazy Range ‘Wolf Whistle’, that I had used as the overall base coat, to create some pale toned greys.

Wardrobe details

Since the chosen curtains have a cream base colour, the tops and backs of all the furniture were painted to match, in Frenchic Lazy Range, ‘Creme de la Creme’. Inside the wardrobe door, the safari theme continues with an Impala, a Crocodile, a Painted Wolf plus various insects and amphibians.

Treasure chest

For the treasure chest, I picked out the existing carved design in ‘African’ colours, while adding wilder beast, buffalo, meerkat, snakes and more to the back and sides of the chest.

Side tables

The side tables feature a simple outline map of Africa and some patterns and colours sampled from suitable traditional fabric designs, that I found illustrated, online.

At one point I was a bit hasty in applying masking tape to a not yet fully dry layer of paint. I needed to sand back and patch in a new layer of paint to repair my mistake but the paints we forgiving and the end effect was seamless. I used paper stencils to make a template for a reasonably accurate map of the continent of Africa.

A short video, showing the finished nursery room.

Once it had been imaginatively styled by the homeowner, the nursery took on personality. Won’t it be a fun space for young zebras, meerkats and Tarzans to grow up in?!

All in all, this was a satisfying project to work on during a nationally difficult time. I may have ‘got-the-bug’, but it’s for nothing more sinister than chalk paint! Future ‘victims’ are currently sitting, unsuspectingly, in corners my own home! Watercolour paint will always be my preferred medium but chalk paint makes a fun change!

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Rewarding Outdoor Painting Sessions in the Hampshire Countryside

Outdoor Painting in July and August 2020

Small groups of artists from Kirstin White’s existing classes have recently been getting together to paint ‘en plein air’. Students who previously met for weekly lessons in Dummer, are enjoying meeting up again and putting all those virtual lessons to good use. 🙂

An outdoor watercolour painting session in Warnford

In July 2020 we visited Warnford in the Meon Valley Having painted from the top of Old Winchester Hill the previous week, we now wanted to look back towards it from below. We were grateful for the opportunity to paint on private land, where we had just the view we had been looking for. Warnford is in the South Downs National Park and makes a rewarding painting location.

The day we visited Warnford was bright and blowy, the right conditions to be able to concentrate on aerial perspective. Finding different ways in which to create the impression of distance and depth in our paintings was fun and everyone managed to achieve the desired result. Some for the wall, I feel!


Swarraton, painted from Northington, at a rewarding outdoor painting session in August 2020

It was a case of all weathers in one day when we painted Swarraton from Northington! Arriving to fine drizzle, since it was not a cold day, the painting group doughtily settled down to work in pencil instead.

Painting in the drizzle!

Quite soon the conditions changed to a flat overcast light, just right for moody detailed watercolour paintings. By lunchtime, the day had brightened considerably, so it was out with the sun hats and in with the strong defining shadows! All in all a rewarding outdoor painting session in good company.


Artists painting together at Meon Shore in Hampshire

July 2020 saw us outdoor watercolour painting at Meon Shore, a shingle beach roughly halfway between Lee on Solent and Warsash.

On a typical day, as Cliff Road turns away inland and becomes Meon Road, the beach at Meon Shore becomes increasingly unoccupied. A good spot for a spot of socially distanced painting, we thought!

In the event, the day was gloriously hot and sunny. Consequently, the beach was considerably busier than the painting group had anticipated. Never the less, we did succeed in finding a suitably quiet spot, with just enough activity to inspire exciting ‘en plein air’ watercolour paintings!

There was a lot to record, but since the paint was drying fast so we could work quickly with time to spare for a natter!

Another popular painting destination, Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve, an area of coastal wetland, is just behind the beach and we will probably paint there later in the year. Hill Head Harbour, at the opposite end of the beach, has been a favourite painting spot in the past.

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Getting the band back together!

Meeting up with a few
of my class members

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It’s been so lovely to be able to be meeting up with a few of my class members over the past two weeks, getting the band back together! We visited Old Winchester Hill last week and Watership Down the week before. Social distancing and masks not withstanding, it seemed so much more effective teaching face to face!

At both locations, we were able to find a spot away from the main thoroughfare, keep our social distance but never-the-less chat. (Neanderthal Skull Facemask by Kirstin White, available at RedBubble!)

Meeting up with a few of my class members

Since lockdown, my beginners groups have been on hold, I am hoping that we may be able to resume again, perhaps around October (fingers crossed that there’ll be no second wave!). I have been sharing online inspiration and ideas with my more experienced students and have been so impressed with the beautiful and accomplished paintings that have been achieved.

Online, in June 2020, we took trees as our subject and discussed different way we might edit what we saw in life or in photographs. We thought about ways of developing an individual language of marks appropriate to trees. Additionally, we thought about how we were going to compose our pictures, in order that what we intended the viewer to notice, was made clear.

With these considerations in mind, everyone had a go at copying a work by Francis Towne (1739–1816). In fact, we looked for inspiration at the approaches taken by several different artists. Of these, contemporary artist, Melissa Scott- Miller was a favourite, admired both for her skilful handling of detail and her relatable subject matter.

Old Winchester Hill, Warnford.

A Big Summer Sky at Old Winchester Hill, Warnford (watercolour and gouache)
Artists watercolour painting at Old Winchester Hill

Beautiful Hampshire Downland

We are fortunate to be in this part of the world, with beautiful Hampshire downland on the doorstep. Old Winchester Hill is a 66.2-hectare (164-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Hampshire. It is a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, and a National Nature Reserve. Part of it is a Scheduled Monument.

Old Winchester Hill gave us lots of scope for painting. Looking down onto trees, trees seen from a distance, deciduous and evergreen trees and trees in groups were all considered.

Overcast in the morning and bright in the afternoon, the changing weather meant that we had to work fast to record the different moods and also gave us that wonderful feeling of being in the moment.

The ever changing big sky at Old Winchester Hill made a good painting subject.

With sweeping views across the South Downs towards The New Forest, this made a lovely spot for meeting up with a few of my class members.

Watership Down, Kingsclere.

Meeting up with a few of my class members at Watership Down was a great success. Despite the threat of rain, we stayed dry and found a comfortable location from which to make individual trees the subject of our paintings. At the spot we chose, there were many characterful tree specimens to choose between.

Members of the watercolour painting group, meeting up at Watership Down
Majestic Beech Trees on Watership Down (watercolour)

As we all knew Richards Adams book, Watership Down and it was fun reminiscing about the story while painting in the spectacular setting of the novel.

A lovely walking area, once we had completed our painting session, I enjoyed a bit of a ramble with the dog.

Looking across Watership Down, near Newbury UK.

The group will share the pictures and sketches that they made on the spot, as well as photographs taken on the day, with group members who weren’t able to join us. We will use the material to inspire more finished indoor paintings, where careful washes and planned composition can be incorporated without interference by the wild outside!

All being well, we plan to continue these limited meet ups on a weekly basis. I’ll be organising painting sessions for bigger groups as soon as its safe to do so. Keep you posted!

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June 2020 Latest Paintings for Sale

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So, its June and life is still ‘different’!
These are my June 2020 latest paintings for sale.

This watercolour about how June 2020 is for me. How is it for you?!

The Marrow of the Problem- Kirstin White (Image area of painting 47.5 x 30cm)

The Marrow of the Problem – Kirstin White

The Marrow of the Problem - Kirstin White (Image area of painting 47.5cm x 30cm). Unframed. Post and packing included. An original watercolour, direct from the artist.

£255.00

A Remembered Dance – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48cm x 30cm)

A Remembered Dance – Kirstin White

A Remembered Dance - Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48cm x 30cm). A watercolour painting with dancing couple and flowers. Unframed. Post and packing included. An original watercolour, direct from the artist.

£255.00

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Kirstin White merchandise available from Redbubble

T shirts, facemasks and more available from Redbubble

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Fancy a T shirt or sticker featuring one of these 2020 designs? Kirstin White merchandise is now available from Redbubble.

Many Kirstin White designs to choose from
Kirstin White face masks from RedBubble

From Monday 15 June 2020 everyone must wear a face covering when travelling by public transport in England.

The original paintings are for sale in the shop.

Original Watercolours for Sale

Paintings Made Since the PM Speech of 10th May 2020

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Paintings made since the PM Speech of 10th May 2020. Continuing to work from home, these watercolour paintings are reflection on the times.

If and But Lessons – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48.5cm x 30cm)

If and But Lessons – Kirstin White

If and But Lessons - Kirstin White. (Image area of painting 48.5cm x 30cm). Unframed. Post and packing included. An original watercolour, direct from the artist.

£255.00

Stay Alert, Control the Virus – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48cm x 30cm)

Stay Alert, Control the Virus – Kirstin White

Stay Alert, Control the Virus - Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48cm x 30cm). Unframed. Post and packing included. An original watercolour, direct from the artist.

£255.00

Cummings and Goings – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 49.5cm x 30cm)

Cummings and Goings – Kirstin White

Cummings and Goings - Kirstin White (Image area of painting 49.5cm x 30cm). Unframed. Post and packing included. An original watercolour, direct from the artist.

£255.00

The Amaryllis Being Sociable in May – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48cm x 30cm)

The Amaryllis Being Sociable in May – Kirstin White

The Amaryllis Being Sociable in May - Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48cm x 30cm) Unframed. Post and packing included. An original watercolour, direct from the artist.

£255.00

Uncomfortable Divide – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 49 x 30.5cm)

Uncomfortable Divide – Kirstin White

Uncomfortable Divide - Kirstin White (Image area of painting 49cm x 30.5cm) Unframed. Post and packing included. An original watercolour, direct from the artist.

£255.00

If you need help with the checkout process, please email: kirstinww@gmail.com (I have been advised that, on some phones, the payment buttons are not working.)

These paintings are available direct to the public. Your purchase will be dispatched via Royal Mail.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the paintings in this section are supplied unframed. Original paintings at crisis prices!
The dimensions given are for the image area of the painting. Once mounted, framed and on your wall, the painting will be larger.

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COVID-19 Lockdown Paintings 2020

Paintings made during Spring 2020 and available now, direct to the public, at crisis prices!

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The weddings and events where I would normally be painting are not happening, so, in keeping with the times, I am painting from home. The still lives that I have created recently are inspired by the combination of the beautiful Spring and the less beautiful, though thought-provoking, times. Original paintings at crisis prices!

July 2020 update – You can now find these paintings for sale in the shop

April Lockdown – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 42cm x 31.5cm) SOLD
Lockdown Lilacs – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 44cm x 30cm)
Lockdown Introspection – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 49cm x 37cm)
White Lilac and Bluebells – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 48cm x 34cm)
Wild Rhododendron – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 46cm x 31.5cm) #artistssupportpledge

I am supporting the #artistssupportpledge initative. So that artists can help one another during this period of lockdown, I am creating affordable pieces available for £200 (not including shipping). When I have sold five paintings for £200, I will buy another artists work for £200.

Bluebells, blue bowl and Magnolia – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 47cm x 36cm)
Rhododendron in the Conservatory – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 39cm x 32cm)

‘Lead Us Not’ is a painting reflecting on life pre the 23rd March 2020 , UK Lockdown.

Lead Us Not – Kirstin White (Image area of painting 45cm x 28cm) #artistssupportpledge
I Am Involved In Mankind – Kirstin White. (Image area of painting 47cm x 29cm)

My response to the VE Day celebrations on Friday 8th May 2020, ‘I Am Involved In Mankind’.

These paintings are available direct to the public. Your purchase will be dispatched via Royal Mail.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the paintings in this section are supplied unframed. Original paintings at crisis prices!
The dimensions given are for the image area of the painting. Once mounted, framed and on your wall, the painting will be larger.

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Paint-out in memory of Richard Price

June 14th 2019 saw a group of artists gather at Sandbanks in Poole, to paint en plein air, in celebration of the memory of Richard Price.

Kirstin White watercolour at Sandbanks

The beach cafe made the ideal gathering point. As we sat sipping coffee and chatting, the weather improved minute by minute! Four or five Richard’s favourite painting spots were identified, whereupon we each made our personal selections. By lunchtime, it was picnic-on-the-beach weather and we were drinking a toast to Richard’s memory.

Artists gather to celebrate the life of Richard Price RIO.
Sandbanks in Poole, a watercolour by Kirstin White

The watercolours I made on the day are available to purchase on the gallery page, alternatively, commission me to paint from your own favourite spot. Fellow artists made atmospheric paintings on Friday in oil, watercolour, pastel and acrylic.

Kite Surfing in Poole, a watercolour by Kirstin White
It’s a dogs life!
It’s a dogs life!
Gentle waves at Sandbanks Beach in Poole
Windblown Sand
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Where else have we been painting in May?

Outdoor watercolour painting groups with Kirstin White

During May 2019 Kirstin White’s watercolour painting groups have been getting out and about. We have been fortunate with the weather, managing to pick the right time in the day to miss any showers and make the most of the sunshine. In May we have been to Micheldever, Nun’s Walk and Abbey Gardens in Winchester, All Saints’ Church in Dummer, Winnal Moors and St Giles’ Hill in Winchester, and Preston Candover

Dummer painting group in Preston Candover

Dummer Art Group painting watercolours at Preston Candover
Working out picture compositions
  • Dummer Art Group found a rural idyll in Preston Candover! The old church there is set in a paddock frequented by sheep and butterflies. Rain the night before had made the setting look especially lush and green. Having tackled perspective drawing in previous classes, today, the group were able to concentrate on creating an interesting composition for their watercolour.
We were kept company by sheep at the old church in Preston Candover
Painting at the old church in Preston Candover, a rural idyll much enjoyed by the spotty dog!

Winchester painting group at Nuns’ Walk in Winchester

  • On a warm and breezy day in May, we visited Nuns’ Walk. This is a pleasant footpath that begins in North Walls Recreation Ground. The painting challenge for the class was to depict reflections in the River Itchen. Although reflections can be a tricky subject in watercolour, everyone managed to pull off a successful painting.
We spotter a Rescue Helicopter in North Walls Recreation Ground
  • While we were in the recreation ground, we spotted a rescue helicopter and watched it take off from the ground. As far as we could discover, nobody had been hurt.

The painting groups make a second visit to Micheldever

  • On our second visit to Micheldever, the group were more familiar with their surroundings and spoilt for choice over which views to choose to paint. The class spread out and settled down to a lovely peaceful morning amongst flowers, listening to bird song and enjoying their painting time.

The painting groups visit All Saints’ Church in Dummer

All Saints’ Church in Dummer
  • Being a location early in the series of venues the art group visited in May, the church in Dummer caused a lot of discussion about perspective drawing. The building has been modified over the years, there are architectural additions and a considerable variety of different building materials have been used. Although the building itself presents a complicated drawing subject, All Saints’ Dummer proved to be a popular location with the group and some really impressive painting resulted.
Watercolour painting at All Saints’in Dummer

Watercolour painting in Abbey Gardens in Winchester

Painting in watercolour at Abbey Gardens in Winchester
  • The weather was spectacular when we visited Abbey Gardens in Winchester May sunshine brought lots of people out to spend lunchtime in the sun. We chatted with other artists, met tourists from Canada and the United States and tried to avoid some rather rowdy locals! Not everyone in the painting group chose the parks trees and flower beds, some people painted a view of Winchester Cathedral, while others the rather hansom council offices.
Winchester Cathedral seen from Abbey Gardens

Watercolour painting in gardens near Micheldever

  • Dummer Art Group were invited to paint in beautiful spring gardens near Micheldever. Just as the group were thinking about what they wanted to paint, there was an off-putting sprinkle of rain, and so we arranged to come back to the garden another time. In the event, however, the rain passed quickly and consequently, there was time for a demonstration watercolour, hot coffee and ginger cake!
Lonicera periclymenum
Clematis montans ‘Elizabeth’
A striking Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum)
Judas Tree or Cercis siliquastrum
A watercolour artist’s kit

The Painting Group Calendar for June 2019

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat/Sun
3


4


5

1pm- 3pm
Avington
6

11.15 -1.15
Avington
7


8/9


10


11


12

1pm- 3pm
Shawford
13

11.15 -1.15
Easton
14


15/16


17


18

19

1pm- 3pm
Cheriton
20

11.15 -1.15
Cheriton
21


22/23


24


25


26

1pm- 3pm
Shawford
27

11.15 -1.15
Easton
28


29/30


  • If you would like to join for any of the painting sessions planned for June or July 2019 then please use the contact form. Full details of locations will be sent to you on enrolment.

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Watercolour Painting at Winnall Moors


Watercolour outside!

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Kirstin White’s Winchester watercolour painting group met on a breezy spring afternoon at Winnall Moors today.

Kirstin White with the Winchester watercolour painting group who meet from one until three on a Wednesday.
Winnall Moors
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
Winnall Moors
Wildlife Reserve in Winchester.

The watercolour painting group met at
Winnall Moors in Winchester
on a chilly spring day in May 2019

So much to choose from!

Billowing white May blossom was looking abundant and beautiful against a darkened sky. The ground was covered by a green tapestry of leaves in diverse variety and pockets of bright pink ragged robin shone prettily.

May blossom at the gates
to Winnall Moors nature reserve
Red campion at Winnall Moors in Winchester

Undeterred

We were lucky with the weather, managing to avoid the threatened rain, but the changing light levels made for challenging picture composition. It was a case of knowing what had first drawn us to a particular scene and then remembering to paint it as it had looked when we chose it!

Come and learn
watercolour yourself.

There will be further painting opportunities throughout the summer of 2019. Watercolour outside, in and around Winchester and Basingstoke. If there are wet days when outdoor painting was planned, we will meet at the studio in Dummer, halfway between Winchester and Basingstoke. Everyone welcome but booking is essential.

The ground was a green tapestry when we visited
Winnall Moors, to paint in watercolour, on 8th May 2019.
The Willow Tree (Green King) in Winchester seen from Winnall Moors.
The watercolour painting group met at
Winnall Moors in Winchester
on a chilly spring day in May 2019

Choosing a subject

The view, looking across from the
river, chosen as a watercolour painting subject
by two members of the group.

Views depicting the river water as well as the wonderful spring foliage were favourite watercolour painting subjects. A scene, looking out across from the river was chosen as a by two members of the group. I painted a demonstration of a range of different spring foliage, with the picture held together by an attractive building.

A demonstration of spring foliage in watercolour, painted
by Kirstin White, at Winnall Moors in Winchester
Watercolour painting with Kirstin White at Winnall Moors in Winchester. May 2019.
Winnall Moors – An Exemplar for the Itchen Valley
Natural England
Winchester City Council
Environment Agency
The Tubney Charitable Trust.