Friday, 31 December 2010


2010 has been a great year for me painting wise, so I am really excited about what 2011 will hold!

I have been enjoying a complete break since finishing all my commissions at the end of November but now find myself raring to go again. I have a few very large canvases prepped and ready to start (the first of which is pictured above- a bit different! 39" x 24"!), and some interesting commissions already booked in for later in the year.

My focus in 2011 will very much be on my own work, with commissions taking more of a back seat. I'd love to see some real development in my style and skill over the course of the year so I have decided to make 2011 the year to really challenge myself! First of all I am going to be doing a painting a day in half an hour or less, and posting it on here. I work in such tight detail usually, I think forcing myself to work a bit more freely, from life wherever possible, will really help me. My daily paintings will be much more about the process than the finished product but hopefully they won't ALL be total rubbish! :-D Quite a big project I guess but it's only 30 mins a day max so I'm determined to give it a bash!

In addition to my painting a day I am hoping to get a place on the Society of Equestrian Artists annual workshop which is taking place in June this year. I have been desperate to attend for a few years now but have either been too pregnant or too tied up with babies (or both!) so this will be my first opportunity!

Other than that I hope that 2011 will see me produce some successful original paintings that I can be really proud of, and hopefully release a few more prints too.

So, lots for me to look forward to!

Hope you all had a great 2010, and wish you all the best for 2011!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A long overdue update!

This blog has been rather neglected of late! I have much to update you all on too!

I have been busy with commissioned work recently so not much in the way of new original work to share. I have managed to produce a few more mini paintings, the third of which 'At Play' (above) is on ebay right now (currently bid up to £22, free p&p, you can bid here).

Very excitingly I have finally had my first ever limited edition giclee prints produced! Produced for me by Sally Mitchell Fine Art, prints are available of 'The Warm Up', 'Windswept', and 'Between Chukkas, Bridlington Beach' direct from my website. I am over the moon with the quality, you can see some pictures of them on my Facebook page here. I kept a large print of 'The Warm Up' for my own wall, you can see it all framed up below!

I'm pleased to report that since my last post both original paintings 'The Warm Up', and 'Sweet Disposition' have sold and gone off to lovely new homes- I'm now looking forward to getting started on my next big original projects... just my Christmas commissions to get finished first and then a few months out to concentrate on some BIG paintings of my own, can't wait!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Some experimentation!

I am trying to make more of an effort to explore different, more spontaneous, ways of painting... not because I want to move away from my current style of painting necessarily- but because I know lessons learned sketching from life and quick loose studies will benefit my overall work.

With such little spare time to paint running round after my two small boys and trying to keep on top of commissions/work for exhibitions it's hard to make time to have a play about but when I do I'm always pleased I did.

Above is a 16" x 14" (I think!) 25 min sketch in oils that I did this morning. I had some paint left on my palette and knew I HAD to be out the door in 25 mins to go collect my children so I went for it! Poor horse has some nose issues going on amongst other things but he was fun to paint and could have been a lot worse given I just went straight in with a whopping big (for me!) brush! LOL!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

'The Warm Up' finally finished!

Feel as though I have been working on this one forever!! It is finally done! 30" x 30" oil on box canvas.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

So near and yet so far...

The bulk of this painting is looking nearish completion now, just the rider's left foot to paint really, and the section above the browband, and the plaits, the bridlework still needs some work too... hmmm maybe quite a bit left then. Unfinished bits aside there are still many hours worth of tidying up to do pretty much everywhere! Such a big painting and so much to focus right down in on.

I am almost always guilty of getting to the finished-but-slightly-untidy stage and rushing to declare it done before regretting it later so I think I am going to get it finished to a reasonable standard, re-touch varnish it and then add the finishing tidy-up bits with fresh eyes after a few months when they start to really bother me. I am really pushed at the moment trying to complete commissions so the only time I get to work on this is when things aren't going to plan on the commissions and I need a short break to re-focus!

Really enjoying my current commissioned work, lucky to have such wonderful clients with such beautiful and interesting horses!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The tail goes on...

Been away for the weekend and am snowed under with commissioned work so not much done on this, the tail went on today though!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Another update...

Still struggling for a title for this! More rough detail on the plaits and another layer on the background. I think I will probably keep the background simple and leave it as it is, but will decide once the horse and rider is finished!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Started detail on bridle.

First layer of detail has gone on the bridle now, just highlights really. Some highlights on the forelock plait too.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Another update

Rider now totally blocked in, and more detail on the top section of the neck, and the face. This really is going to be a long project!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Still no title...

More done, on the horse that is, have been really slacking on the rider and background!

A few more glazes of raw umber and then burnt umber over the horse and I now think I have a rich enough foundation to start the fine detail over the top. Did some detailed work on the face today but must get back to the rider tomorrow....

Sunday, 25 July 2010

And some more... still title-less

Still just roughing things in, blocking out colours and generally putting down the foundations. It's a big painting so the small photo makes it look a lot more finished than it is, you can see a close up below!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

More done...

Managed to get some more done on my new 30" x 30" last night (pictured below), and again today (above). Just blocking in areas of colour and highlight/shadow, glazing over, and then picking them out again. True to form I'm spending more time on the horse than anything else, will have to play catch up with the rider tomorrow!

Friday, 23 July 2010

A start made...

This blog has been very neglected as late, I think because I have shifted more towards using my Facebook page to post updates on my work this place has become a bit redundant! Rather than duplicate things I'll probably continue to use the blog, but mainly to keep a track of works in progress.

Speaking of which, I have made a start on the 30" x 30" canvas! No time lapse video though... I ordered a gadget to enable my camera to take photos automatically at intervals but it didn't arrive and I then worked out I hadn't put the order through correctly and I am too keen to get going with the painting to wait now!

So far I have gessoed and sanded the canvas until eggshell smooth, applied a wash of raw sienna/ titanium white/ burnt umber, transferred the drawing onto the canvas over the top and then picked out main highlights and darks. My main aim at this stage is to protect the drawing really so that I can glaze over it without covering it completely and losing the work so far.

The horse looks huge... going to be a long project I think!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

New time lapse video project

A few of you might remember that back in February, I created a time lapse video of 'Winter Beach Polo' being created (you can see it on YouTube here if you missed it). All of a sudden I have the urge to paint something big again, specifically a big version of mini painting 'The Diva'.

I really want to push myself with this painting, and produce something in a different league to my previous work, so figure I might as well set the tripod up and record the process as I find it quite interesting to watch and other people seem to too!

The big, white, empty 30" x 30" canvas looks a bit daunting at the moment (esp after working on several postcard-sized works recently!)! I want to paint this in very fine detail, so to help me do that the canvas will now have many layers of gesso applied, sanded between each layer until the canvas is eggshell smooth- then I can get to work!

The ebay auction of the postcard sized version of the painting finishes this evening, you can view it and bid on it here.

Friday, 2 July 2010

'The Diva'

Another little ebay painting! 7" x 5" oil on canvas board. You can find the auction on ebay here, 1p start and no reserve. Think I might live to regret putting this on one but nevermind! The oainting is of Louisa Lockwood and The Diva warming up for the dressage phase of Bramham Horse Trials last month. Have very much been enjoying these little paintings!

SEA pre-selection results arrived in my in-box this week, of my 6 entries 2 recieved 'yes' votes ('Winter Beach Polo' and 'Wandering') so I shall be taking them both down to London later in the month to be passed in front of the selection panel. Fingers crossed! In previous years Friends of the Society (of which I am one) were permitted just 3 entries, it was changed to 6 this year (although a maximum of 3 paintings could still actually be hung)- I'm so glad it changed and that I took advantage of it as had I submitted just 3 I would not have entered the only ones that the panel liked, I preferred my other entries! I understand that there were a great deal more entries this year compared with last so I am very pleased indeed to get 2 past this stage.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Magic mini painting

The ebay auction of 'Waiting' finished yesterday, reaching £91 in the end which I was very pleased with! The second of these small postcard sized paintings went on ebay last night, a little painting of Magic, a beautiful Dales stallion from the Nipna Stud not far from here. I never ever ever tire of painting the Nipna ponies, they are just so wonderful! You can find the auction here.

Commissioned work continues to keep me busy, I am very lucky to have some really gorgeous horses to paint at the moment!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Available on eBay

Here's a slightly better photo of 'Waiting'. I think the colours in reality are somewhere between this photo and the last one I shared!

Bids are currently up to £22, there is no reserve and the auction ends on Thursday 24th June at 7:10pm UK time.

Link to the auction here.
If you know anyone who might be interested please pass on the word!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

More Mini Originals

I have decided to create more postcard sized paintings, the first of which is pictured above: 'Waiting', 7" x 5" oil on canvas board. You might recognise the subject, I have painted him before!

I am really busy with commissions at the moment which is fantastic, but means I miss having the time to work on my own paintings... little postcard sized things I can tinker with while I'm waiting for commissions to dry between layers etc though so they fit quite nicely into my schedule! I was lucky enough to purchase several of Sally Martin's little 7x5 oils as part of her 100 paintings in 100 days and I just love them! Was interesting hearing how much Sally felt her 100 little paintings had taught her; with a baby and a toddler to run after I sadly don't have the time to commit to such a big project but I hope to churn out one a week or so and use them primarily as trials for bigger painting ideas. They'll all be sold on ebay with bids starting at 1p- I figure the ones that make the most are likely to be the ones worth doing on a bigger scale!

Just need to get a decent photo of this little polo pony to list him on ebay with, proving tricky as ever!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

'Sweet Disposition' FINISHED

24" x 18" ( 61cm x 46cm), oil on hardboard. Really loved painting this one! The original plan was to paint it in 'black and white' using only a mixture of burnt umber and french ultramarine, and titanium white (which I did) but I had decided this after I had began work on the support which had a base layer of burnt umber and white (kind of a pinky pale coffee colour), and it showed though the final painting in places- which I liked- so I added a bit more of it to the main highlights to bring it all together and give it a bit more depth and a touch of warmth.

First time using hardboard and I love it apart from the fact it is so darn heavy!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Another beach polo painting on the go...

Decided to treat myself to painting an image I have wanted to paint since I photographed some polo on the beach in January. Promised myself I wouldn't do any more headshots as original paintings as they can be tough to sell, but I'm making an exception for this little chap!

I think the lovely light and the challenge of that spotty winter coat are what appeal to me, and as an added challenge I'm going to paint it in black and white... or at least a mixture of french ultramarine and burnt umber used with titanium white.

Today is the third day of work on it, so far I have roughly sketched in the coat, marking out spots and the direction of the hair, added some detail to the face, glazed some shadows over the top, and blocked in the background. Was hoping to get the background done alla prima but I was overworking it so I'll need to go back to it later.

Really enjoying it!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Great week!

I have had a busy but great week! Firstly, I finished 'Into the Buttercups' (above); the photo as ever is rubbish (will definitely get this one properly scanned as the colours are so washed out in my photos) but it looks nice in the flesh!

I had a FANTASTIC day at Badminton on Sunday and enjoyed seeing my donated painting 'Arabian Filly' on display in the British Horse Society stand there. Hopefully it will make plenty of money for the Drawing the Line campaign! You can see some of my photos of the XC on my Facebook page.

I'm pleased to report that 'Dark Horse' sold on Friday so the next painting on my clear out list has gone up for auction on my website. As before, the price will drop each Friday by £20 until the painting sells. 'Frosty Morning Ride' is the current painting, pictured below.

The next week or so will be spent tidying up and finishing potential SEA entries in order to get photographs/scans done and my entries for the exhibition off before the deadline... this year is going by so fast!

Friday, 30 April 2010

'Into the Buttercups'

This one has a title now and is not far off finished. Not quite sure where the buttercups came from... I messed on and on with the background trying to go for a blurry kind of grass but it really wasn't happening! I think I ended up dabbing spots of yellow on to blend in to the grass to warm it up a bit and before I knew it they were in a field of buttercups.

They look quite ghostly at the moment waiting for glazes of browns and blues to go over the highlights I have added to their coats. They should be dry enough to work on again tomorrow but I'm (weather permitting!) setting off for Badminton so it will probably have to wait until I get home on Monday now.

'Dark Horse' went down to £170 today, week 5 of the auction...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

More on the new Dales painting...

My internet supplier has randomly cut a load of it's customers off whilst changing servers over or something and we are one of the lucky households affected! I miss it, and feel so cut off! Posting this courtesy of another weak wifi signal my laptop seems to pick up now and again.

Typically bad timing as I had several items on ebay finishing, AND it is the last few days of Sally Martin's 100 paintings which I have been following avidly. Not to mention the fact I waste way too much time on Facebook generally! I'm not very happy :(

Anyway, it has been another quiet week or so on the painting front but have managed to get a few more layers on the new Dales painting (above), and the little commission. Pleased with both of them so far. I don't think my heart was really in the Dales painting for the first few layers, which is perhaps why I have not been all that productive (along with teething babies and sleepless nights!), but all of a sudden it seems to be coming together so I have regained my enthusiasm for it! Rubbish photo of it above which makes it look much 'flatter' than it is...about halfway through now I think; just roughed in the background so next stage will be to tidy up the ponies where green paint has gone over them (esp the mare's mane) and then get to work with my tiny brush working on all that hair in the fluffy coats. Would be nice to end up with one more painting to enter for the SEA exhibition, the deadline for which is just around the corner now, so fingers crossed this one turns out well!

Really looking forward to attending Badminton XC day on Sunday! Sally Lancaster and I will be there with friends, armed with our cameras! We will definitely be popping into the British Horse Society stand while we are there, to see how the Drawing the Line campaign is going. We have both donated paintings to be auctioned for the cause; you might be able to see them if you are there as a selection of donated artwork is going to be on display.

The dutch auction of 'Dark Horse' rumbles on... it is now down from the starting price of £260 to £190, will drop to £170 on Friday...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Finally some paint on canvas...

I have had a fairly unproductive few weeks painting wise, courtesy of a teething baby! Poor Henry has not been happy at all and clingy babies really aren't conducive to painting, especially not when they insist on only sleeping on your lap during the day, and you paint with solvents, and also have a (nearly) 2 year old! Thankfully he is back to his usual cheerful self now so it's back to work (until next time).

As luck would have it I had kept my painting time completely free of commissioned work this month, in order to ensure I had time to complete my entries for the Society of Equestrian Artists Annual Exhibition so it hasn't been too stressful! Having managed to get plenty of original work done this year I do have several paintings to choose from but standards are going to be even higher than usual this year and competition even tougher so I'm still going to try and produce one more potential entry- just started a new original, above. Back to the Dales ponies, and based on photos I took last month. 24" x 18" oil on linen.

I also have a commissioned 8" x 8" mini painting on the go which is just about to have a base layer of paint applied. After a few weeks of doing nothing it feels great to get some paint on canvas again!

The dutch auction of 'Dark Horse' continues on my website... down to £210 at the moment and will drop under £200 this Friday. Further details available on my site. Had a few e-mails from international buyers enquiring about shipping costs so hopefully it will sell soon.

Whilst I haven't been able to paint much I have been on a few excursions with my camera, you can see the photos on my Facebook Page, link to the right >>

Not much else to report other than the fact I am VERY excited about Badminton XC day!!!!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Dutch Auctions

It has been great having this blog to look back on during the 15 months I have been updating it... my work has improved A LOT! That's a good thing of course, good for me and also good for buyers of my work because it means my paintings hopefully increase in value as I continue to improve and carve a name for myself.

One thing that is not so good is that, to me, some of my work rather quickly looks dated and paintings that I was proud of as little as 6 months ago are outshone by my more recent work to the extent that I know I probably won't exhibit them this year... which kind of leaves me with a number of paintings which are just going to end up stacked in my painting room! Soooo... time for a clear out!

I am going to sell most of my 2009 original work via my website using a dutch auction type system. It's very simple- one painting for sale at any one time, the price drops every week until someone buys it!

First up is 'Dark Horse', starting at £250 - you can find details on the Current Dutch Auctions page of my website.

Please spread the word if you know anyone who might be interested in a bargain painting!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

'Wandering' FINISHED

I was up at 5:30am feeding Henry (who is now 4 months old, how time flies!) and couldn't get back to sleep so got up and finished this painting while the rest of the house slept!

24" x 18" oil on linen. Have loved every minute of painting this one!

Saturday, 27 March 2010


Not too far off finishing now, I'm amazed at how quickly this has come together, was expecting it to take much longer! May get it done tomorrow... will put a browny purple glaze over the lot and then pick out the strongest highlights/shadows and see how it looks. Be sad to finish it in a way!

Friday, 26 March 2010


Today's update...

I'm starting to introduce a bit of liquin to the layers now. Some of the highlights look a bit odd at the moment but *hopefully* they'll all be tied in and look more natural once the next browny black coloured glaze goes over the top. I'm really impatient for it to dry so I can do more on it!

Thursday, 25 March 2010


Third layer on, again the paint was thinned down to a watery consistency with turps.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


A thin wash (paint thinned right down with just turps) over the lot, and some detail added over the top with equally thin paint last night. Looking forward to getting back to it tonight once the boys are in bed!

Checked back through my records and the horse is actually Sidnificant, one of Clare Lewis's rides. A very photogenic model, the (many!) photos I have of him being led in hand after his XC round at Bramham are just beautiful!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


New original started this weekend. 24" x 18" oil on linen, based on photographs that I took of one the eventers at Bramham Horse Trials being cooled off after an XC round last summer. The horse was a lovely dark bay with beautiful chestnutty points and a wonderful shine. All the different colours in his (or her- should really find out who the horse is!)coat caught my eye, I'm hoping they'll make for an interesting painting.

The photos I am working from are packed full of detail so I'm aiming to work in even thinner layers of paint than usual to try and capture as much as possible. So far I have just got down the first thin wash of colour blocked in. The background is a pale grey/blue with hints of the red ochre I plan to use in the painting; I plan to keep it plain I think and have this one as more of a study, but may change my mind later if the horse alone isn't strong enough to pull it off.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Busy Week

Despite being rather quiet on here I have had a very busy week!

Last weekend I went out with my camera in the hope of getting some nice reference pictures of the Zetland Hunt to work from. I had great time watching very brave people jump very huge hedges! You can see several of my photos on my Facebook page. I then had the news that the first foal of the season had been born at the Nipna Dales Pony stud! I was thrilled to be invited to go and photograph newborn Heather's first trip out of her box, so bundled up my boys and headed over there! Got some wonderful shots and can't wait to start painting with them!! Little Heather was just beautiful, so very cute!

I'm too busy with commissions to get any original work done at all at the moment but the deadline for the Society of Equestrian Artists Annual Exhibition is looming so I'm planning to knuckle down shortly and have a last ditch attempt at trying to produce something good enough to get me in again this year. I can't decide whether or not to enter photographs of my entries for the pre-selection stage (or rather, the pre-rejection stage as I call it haha!) this year... on the one hand I won't have accurate photos of all my entries and I'd like to try and help with handing in day this year so would go to London anyway so why bother... but on the other hand six entries are allowed this year and I think I'm going to take advantage of that- if I can get feedback on six paintings at pre-selection stage I can potentially avoid spending a crippling amount on framing by just taking the one/s with the best pre-selection results. Decisions decisions...

Thursday, 4 March 2010

'Winter Beach Polo' Time Lapse Painting by Laura Barber-Riley

After much swearing at a very uncooperative YouTube/laptop I have finally managed to upload my time lapse video. Hope you enjoy it!

Ignore this one

Deleted as link too big!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

'Winter Beach Polo' FINISHED (ish)

Well, I say it's finished, it isn't quite, but I am busy with commissions and I've been rushing to get it 'done' when I needn't so for the time being it is signed and put to one side. Once I have got a bit more time I'll go back to it and tidy up all the bits that are still bugging me. Needless to say, as ever, it's a rubbish photo despite my best efforts! The sea and sand in particular have more depth and colour in real life. Nevermind!

My laptop is in the process of generating my time lapse video of the painting process. There are over 11,000 photos in the sequence (!!) so it will probably have to be left processing it overnight!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

'Winter Beach Polo'

Still plugging away. Struggling with the rider's clothes; I never have been able to get clothes looking realistic! Hopefully I'll crack it in the end! Next few days will be spent on the tack which I have re-blocked in today. Busy working on a commission too which will hopefully prevent me from trying to rush this... I always seem to get to a certain point and become over eager to call it finished!

The time lapse video is coming along nicely and it's fun watching the painting so far- my poor little laptop is struggling though as more and more photos get added. Hope it can cope with the final version, be a shame if it can't!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Friday, 26 February 2010

Winter Beach Polo

Bit of an update, about halfway through now I think...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

'Winter Beach Polo'

The second of my polo paintings. Been working on this one on and off for a week or so in total now but haven't bothered keeping a track of it here because I'm attempting to have my first bash at time lapse photography with it (you know, those videos where it looks like things are happening super fast) so taking additional photos to put on here seems overkill!

BUT, I had to show this picture of where I am up to today as it just looks SOOOOO AWFUL lol! Now, most of my paintings go through horrendously ugly stages at the beginning but I think this one really takes the biscuit!

So far everything is just blocked in roughly so I'm not worried about it, although part of me wonders whether it will end up being a total disaster just because I have gone to all the effort of taking the time lapse photos! Only have 2 weeks left of the software trial that's enabling me to do the time lapse photography (can't afford to pay the £120 or whatever it is normally!) so thanks to my unproductive week last week I really need to get my skates on. I think I am going to have to put in some late nights to get it done alongside my commissioned works at the moment!

It's quite a big one, 36" x 24", oil on canvas.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Fine Art Scanning

This morning 12 week old Henry and I trundled 2 hrs down the A1 to Sally Mitchell Fine Arts to get two of my paintings scanned. In order to produce really good quality prints of my work in the future I need truly accurate digital copies of my paintings; so after seeking advice of other more experienced artists I decided to abandon the plan to find a pro photographer and find a proper fine art scanner instead.

The results from the Cruse scanner today are just incredible, I'm over the moon with them! If any artists out there are looking for a scanning service I honestly can't recommend the service provided at Sally Mitchell's enough.

Interesting comparing my best photograph of 'Windswept' (below) against the scan (above)- such a huge difference, and it is SO nice to be able to represent it a bit more realistically online. No photo can do any oil painting real justice though, and it was such a treat today to be able to see some beautiful original paintings by Malcolm Coward, John Trickett, and Frederick Haycock. Oh to be THAT good! - humbling and inspirational in equal measures.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Unproductive week

Thanks to my eldest, Oliver, being unwell with a nasty cold all week I have got very little done at all since the weekend. On the rare occasions I have had the opportunity to paint I have either been waaayyyyy too tired after being up administering calpol and cuddles half the night, or felt the need to opt for a large glass of wine to unwind with after his bedtime instead! Roll on the weekend!

It hasn't been an entirely wasted week though. Whilst sitting watching Finding Nemo for the trillionth time I decided it was about time I stopped moaning about being unable to get to any life drawing classes and make use of the live models I have at home everyday. So, I have pledged to sketch my children and dogs daily in a little hardback sketchbook I have. For some reason I have always found drawing people incredibly difficult and generally avoid it as far as possible- especially faces- so it came as no surprise to me that my sketches were indeed totally rubbish. I'm hoping that once my little book is full I'll be able to look back and see lots of improvement!

Poor Henry has been my main subject so far, what with generally staying still(ish) for longer than anyone else... I hope one day he can forgive me for representing him with such dreadful inaccuracy LOL! He is beautiful in real life, honest!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Mini Painting of Beau

Bit more done. Not too much left to do now, be finished in the next sitting or two I hope.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Mini Painting of Beau

Bit more detail on today. If you click on the photo it should come up about life size... or at least it does on my screen anyway!

I'm busy prepping canvases for the other two polo paintings, and a commission for which I'm off to meet the subjects with camera tomorrow- fingers crossed the weather will be fine!