Mata Hari and Datura

I’ve been working on the portrait that I was making sketches for a couple of weeks ago; the subject is the exotic dancer Mata Hari. Steady progress is being made, but I have to admit that the going is slow, especially, when using a ball point pen to make such a detailed drawing on A1 paper! I need to smooth the tone transitions in some areas and complete the shading on the left side of the face. As this is the side in the light, hopefully, it won’t take so long as the right.

Erica Lowe, Mata Hari drawingI’ve also been giving some thought to the motifs for the background/border for the piece. As is well known, Mata Hari was executed by firing squad in France 1917 after being found guilty of being a double agent and spying for Germany. Bearing this in mind, I have chosen the plant Datura, representative of “deceitful charms”, which I felt was good match for this alluring and yet duplicitous woman.

Below is a quick watercolour sketch of a Datura flower.

Erica Lowe, loose watercolour,flower painting,Datura painting

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to brush up your drawing skills, this might just be what you’ve been looking for; Enrolment is now open for my on-line drawing course, Exploring Drawing.

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Beginning by drawing the eyes

This is the first sketch for a new portrait I have planned. Sometimes I make a sketch of the whole composition before I begin, but I felt that I just wanted to  begin by trying out the drawing techniques I will use. I’m going to use ball pen & also watercolour in this piece.

Erica Lowe,drawing eyes,ball pen drawing,mata hari,mata hari drawing


I always begin a portrait by drawing the eyes & build the rest of the face around them. For me the eyes are usually the focus of a portrait.


If you would like to improve your drawing skills please click here for more information about my Exploring Drawing course - it’s perfect for both beginners & those who just want to brush up their skills!

Sunflowers in January

This is a painting of sunflowers that I have been working on for some time. It’s by far the largest still life watercolour that I’ve ever attempted, measuring 23″x 33″. I also tried to in a new way for me, not planning what I wanted the finished painting to look like, but letting it evolve naturally. Although I didn’t plan it as a whole, I did spend a lot of time waiting for the direction of the next stage to make itself known to me (sorry if this sounds a bit strange!) It was an interesting experiment, but I think I have more work to do on letting go of the control of the process if I want to develop this way of working.

The pictures below show the stages & I hope will give some indication of the size of the work – some also include my feet standing on a chair to take the photos!

IMG_20130927_201344IMG_20130928_011600IMG_20130929_000444IMG_20130929_192128IMG_20130929_222409IMG_20131004_013148IMG_20131203_180625sunflowers and pomegranates,loose watercolour sunflowers,Erica Lowe,loose watercolour flower painting,loose watercolor flower painting,sunflower loose watercolor painting


I have two on-line courses currently enrolling - click here to find out more  or send me a message!

Watercolour demonstration at Hobbycraft

I have been demonstrating with watercolour today at my local Hobbycraft store in Cheltenham.

IMG_20131207_124633The photo above is of the demo table set up with a display of my work. I took a mixture of things along, hoping that there would be something to appeal to everyone. My intention was to inspire people to see the versatility that can be achieved with watercolour.


The two sunsets at the front of the photo are the paintings I was working on, along with the iris painting in the centre by the colour chart. Many thanks to all the friendly people who stopped by to say hello!   I’ll post the finished work as soon as it’s completed……..


J.M.W. Turner & Llanstephan Castle

Following on from my last post, I can reveal that the artist who had been inspired to paint Llansteffan was J.M.W. Turner. Turner is an artist who I have the greatest admiration for, not only for his exquisitely beautiful work, but also his revolutionary approach to painting, especially in watercolour.

The painting below was made around 1795 & is entitled “Llanstephan Castle by Moonlight, with a Kiln in the Foreground”.  This contrasting of Medieval ruins with modern industry became a regular theme in Turner’s subsequent work. Turner also made a number of pencil sketches of the Tywi estuary at Llansteffan during a later visit in 1798. The painting also explores one of Turner’s other preoccupations; light. The subjects are lit by both moon & fire light.

It is interesting to note the Anglicisation of the place name from the Welsh ‘Llansteffan’ into ‘Llanstephan’.

Llanstephan Castle by Moonlight, with a Kiln in the Foreground 1795-6 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851Llanstephan Castle, CamarthenshireI think the tide was in when Turner was painting & there was a bit more activity on the beach than the day I took this photo!

Below is a link to the excellent Phaidon series book on Turner, that I can recommend if you are interested to discover more of the work of this ground breaking artist. All the Phaidon books I have in my collection contain beautiful reproductions of the art works & the series is both excellent & inexpensive.

Llansteffan; perfect, tiny compositions

Last weekend, despite rain & high winds, I braved the elements for an intensely bracing walk on the beach at Llansteffan in south west Wales. Llansteffan is not truly coastal, but an estuary with beautiful fine sand & devilish currents.

Llansteffan; perfect, tiny compositions

as I walked perfect, tiny compositions appeared beneath my feet.

Llansteffan; perfect, tiny compositionsLlansteffan; perfect, tiny compositionsLlansteffan; perfect, tiny compositionsLlansteffan; perfect, tiny compositionsI am not the first artist to have appreciated the wild beauty of Llansteffan, but more of that in a forthcoming post.

Thoughts on Creativity

I have a contribution published over on my friend Alison’s website today. It’s about the influence that creativity has in my life. There’s also lots of other interesting information on health & lifestyle, including examples of Alison’s artwork.

L'entente Cordiale Autumn 2008 commissioned and  bought by Marc!  Merci Marc,  Bises Alison

This painting was commissioned by the “Association L’entente Cordiale” in Marseille France. It represents the famous treaty between Great Britain and France signed in 1904 when the two countrie became allies. The powerful images of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben are represented on the woman’s bodice. The hair on the painting resembles the famous “Marianne” which is the emblem of the French Republic. The colours chosen are the official flag colours of both countries and the designs of both flags are found on the painting. The heart represents the new found “love” between the two nations. Alison has used a variation of this design for the logo on her website.
Alison’s website is called Feel Good After Fifty & you can view by clicking here.

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