Cactus and carnival inspiration

Tenerife is an island of fantastic beauty, a hard black landscape sculpted by massive volcanic lava eruptions, where prickly cacti grow with so many triffid like variations in weed like abundance.

This week I took photographs of the riot of colour at the Los Gigantes carnival and made a series of quick sketches of cacti.

Here are a few drawings and photos capturing some inspirations together with a painting made at a little studio in the main square at Los Gigantes.


Cactus celebration – acrylic on canvas


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Mini intuitive painting

Sometimes painting small is a good thing and this week I am producing a series of jewel coloured intuitive paintings.


Flight – work in progress ©Mary Price

It is so good to work small. I bought a budget variety pack of hard surfaces from Cass art and I particularly like the smooth gesso so I will be using this in bigger sizes in the future. It’s such a wonderful surface to layer on, very different to the rougher texture of canvas, my usual chosen painting surface.


Mysterious garden – work in progress ©Mary Price

I am about three layers in with these current works in progress. The jewel colours are building beautifully and the next stage will be to introduce more tonal contrast, add some details and see what happens.

The final paintings will all morph into something quite different by the time they are considered finished but I am sharing the progress. Progression is something that always intrigues me, sometimes more than seeing finished artwork. I love to see how artists make what they do and what techniques they use.

With this in mind I signed up for Flora Bowley’s December studio diary this week. I was intrigued to get an insight into her process when she makes mini paintings.

The studio diary is a year-long e course and you can buy a whole year or simply dive into one as I have done this time. It includes a couple of great videos of close-ups of work progressing as Flora develops a series of mini paintings for participants in her workshops. She also paints four small paintings on different surfaces, bamboo, paper and wooden panels.

Watching an artist you admire who shares their process so generously is a brilliant way of learning new techniques. It also kick starts inspiration to try something new so I recommend this to anyone. The first diary is actually free so there’s no excuse not to at least take a look.

New painting from old

Sometimes looking at an old painting that you never really liked is a great opportunity to reinvent and start afresh without having to confront the scary blank canvas.

©Mary Price 2015

I had this garden painting hanging on the wall for ages but had never really felt that it was finished or ‘resolved’ with its two clumsy white spots, an excuse for introducing some tonality to the blue meadow inspired imagery.

©Mary Price 2015

So I took it into the shed and started to paint over it in warm contrasting colours to see what I could do to refresh and renew and make something beautiful out of something I had fallen out of love with.

Sticking with the intuitive process that has dominated my art this year especially, I kept at it, adding colours and marks with varying tools to arrive at a stage where the original painting had not disappeared but provided a backdrop for some new exciting things to emerge and start happening.

©Mary Price 2015

Slowly I began to see the outline of a face suggested in the marks and I worked with this. 

©Mary Price 2015

The meadow of the original painting was still there in essence so I started to think about how I could incorporate the two elements to create a figure immersed in landscape. The headdress morphed several times, at one point a bird was flying out of it, but I preferred the organic flowery, feathery, meadow suggestions and brought these kinds of imagery into sharper focus. 

©Mary Price 2015

I’m learning the power of tonal depth, something that my colourful offerings have lacked so much in the past. Flora Bowley showed me how what she calls value contrast adds to the overall cohesiveness of a painting. For this painting deepening the outline of the figure and introducing translucence to the dress has I think brought some tonal contrast to colour explosion that is her headdress.

©Mary Price 2015

My subliminal inspiration for this painting is a vintage 1970s print bought in a charity shop, some photos that I took on a trip to Bali about 30 years ago and drawings of meadows in Branscombe. I love how different aspects of life and memory can impact on how a painting becomes what it is. There are also shades of inspiration from Girl with a pearl earring by Vermeer.



I will be getting prints done of this painting for sale in my Etsy shop in the near future.

Girl with meadow headdress – mixed media on canvas

Woman with Meadow Head dress 2015 ©Mary Price 2015