Daisies In The Grass

DAISIES IN THE GRASS by Annie McLean Acrylic on Canvas 12x4in

Last painting for the FunAday Dundee 2017 event completed – yes!  This has been a lovely project for January.  Kept me busy and inspired.  I’ve managed to do 31 small canvases and a larger one (50x50cm) in January – that’s 32 paintings in one month!  Don’t think I have ever been this productive – apart from 2000 when I wrote 365 poems in that year.


The Great Garden

THE GREAT GARDEN by Annie McLean ~ Acrylic on Canvas (deep edge) 50x50cm

My most recent finished abstract painting, completed today.  I have used Daler Rowney System 3 Heavy Body paints: Process Black, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarine, Coeruleum, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red, Burnt Umber and System 3 Titanium White.  I used a small amount of Reeves Gold Acrylic paint for the detail work.  I applied the paint using a selection of palette knives, mostly paddle or angle large ones and a pear-shaped small one for scrapping/removing paint, and flat brushes 24, 16, 10, 8.  The deep-edge sides of the canvas have been painted as part of the composition.

This painting is part of my abstract development for 2017.  It forms part of the SWOT analysis project I started late in 2015.  The SWOT project started as a small activity to encourage colour experimentation as well as self-exploration.  Little did I know that several months later it would take on a life of its own.  In many ways the SWOT project has become the major focus for my abstract development.   The first few paintings are perhaps more like studies for the end products, although they do stand alone as completed works in their own right.

I welcome comments and critique.



Charlie’s Dog Lessons for People

My first ever Re-Blog. Charlie Dog makes a lot of sense – more than most humans do in my opinion. Well done Charlie Dog for passing round the good advice. Ask your human for some extra treats – you deserve them.

the creative life in between


Charlie’s Dog Lessons for People

  • Love unconditionally
  • Take a walk outside every day (even if it is raining and your Mom keeps singing “It’s a Rainy Day… It’s raining outside, and we can’t go out and play.”  It’s only water, and it shakes right off!)
  • Forgive quickly and easily
  • Play every day (and make your family play with you!)
  • Be loyal and faithful
  • Keep digging until you find what you are looking for
  • Accept treats with gratitude
  • Greet guests and strangers lovingly
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat all of your dinner
  • Trust and follow your instincts
  • Take naps
  • Bark only when necessary
  • Appreciate a simple life
  • Be a best friend

Woofs & Wags,

Charlie is an adopted dog with brown eyes and a white-tipped tail who brings joy and laughter to his family and friends.  Charlie is a gifted writer, raving food critic, cat, chipmunk, and

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FunaDay Dundee 2017: Update

FunaDay Dundee 2017: work so far

I’m slowly catching up with myself – or am I actually ahead of myself?  I like structure, uniformity; routines I seem to hedge away from no matter how well I organise my to-do list or diary.  At the start of the FunaDay project I felt I had a head start because I had pre-planned all 31 small paintings.  Ideas were sketched out, some coloured to assess effect etc.  I organised each small sketch in order to be completed.  I made a progress chart.  I created a whole file for this in my project folder.  The build up to this event was exciting.  I felt like a child waiting to catch Santa make an entrance.  And I was feeling rather smug about how well organised I was.  Yes, no problem or so I thought.  I hadn’t reckoned on the Inner Being (my Muse by another name) meddling in the practical tasks.

The first of January arrived and off I went to the studio in the morning.  How quiet the quirky Wee Red Toon was – guess everyone had been celebrating Hogmany the night before.  Not a person or vehicle did I pass on the walk down the Roods.  The studio was quiet too without the noise of the traffic tearing round the one-way system I usually get.  On with the paintings.  And …. The Muse steps in!  I don’t paint the first one planned.  Instead I paint a small painting from a sketch I was going to use as a design for Thank You cards.  Not at all a painting I had even contemplated doing for this project.  The first design did get painted eventually on the third day.

As the days went on, my planning went further to pot.  This Muse, the one who resides within me, is quite mischievous and oppositional at times.  One a day, just one a day.  That’s all I need to focus on I tell myself.  The Muse, she will not listen.  She sneaks up on me when I least expect it and encourages me to work on more than one small painting at a time.  She even had me start something further down the line of my planning.  Much further down the line.  Yesterday she had me paint the one for the 30th January. By now I realise my planning has really been blown away.

There are times when one just has to give in.  After three weeks of trying to get the Muse to toe the line I have succumbed to the pressure.  My Muse has now been allowed to hijack this great plan I had.   Ownership of the project has now been conceded to the Muse.  In all honesty, she took over from the start.  We are now on the 23rd day of January and I have 18 small paintings completed, four more being work in progress, six prepared with the ground and the remaining three being ones salvaged from my reject bin with thoughts on how I can now finish them years after they were started.

So much for the one a day.  Actually, if I count the four WIP’s then I have achieved the one a day – so far.  Or is that cheating?  One thing this project has taught me is that I work best when I am working on more than one painting or project at a time.  Is that a lack of self-discipline or just me being inspired by my own creativity?

One final thing to note.  I now have more ideas than there are days in January.  Perhaps I can take the leftover inspirations onto something else.







Gun Hill

Gun Hill by Annie McLean [acrylic on canvas 6×6 inches]
Today’s painting for the FunaDay Dundee 2017 event.  This painting was inspired by my love of Southwold, where I lived for several years.  I have tried to simplify the scene, in my quest to develop an abstract way of painting.  I’ve concentrated on keeping a realistic but simplified scene, using shape and colour to convey my feelings about this place.  This is one of the ‘wee ones’ I may use as a study for a larger piece.

It has been rumoured that the Duke of Cumberland gave the cannons  to the town after the battle of Culloden – but I am not aware of how true that is.  If you are interested in reading a short article on this then click the link: Gun Hill, Southwold


Today’s workshop

TODAY AT 1.30-4pm   –   STUDIO: 14 Glengate, Kirriemuir, DD8 4HD

Workshop: Painting from photographs

This afternoon’s workshop (repeated on Sunday 22nd January) is Painting from Photographs.  We have a selection of stock photos to choose from or you can bring along one of your own.  We will be exploring what makes a good composition, how to choose your image and what medium would suit the subject best (today we will work in acrylic).  We will discuss ways of transferring your chosen composition/image onto your support and how to begin painting.  There should be enough time for you to complete one study or simple painting. I will give a brief demonstration before you begin your painting and there will be examples of completed works for you to refer to. No experience necessary and all materials are provided.


Painting from photographs


“Tighnabruaich” by Annie McLean [oil on canvas 30x60cm]

Workshops this week: Thursday 19th & Sunday 22nd January 2017 1.30-4pm :            Painting from Photographs – cost £25 per session [Studio: 14 Glengate, Kirriemuir]

This workshop is suitable for beginners and more experienced artists.  Using either your photograph or studio stock, you will have the opportunity to complete one full painting in acrylic. We will begin with a short demonstration and some guidance on how to compose your scene, working with acrylics and lots more tips and techniquesYou can choose your own subject – an indoor or outdoor scene, a still life etc.  A brief demonstration will be given for guidance.  Tips and technical details will also be covered.  All materials are supplied.  Group sizes are kept small to allow for more individual attention.  Most workshops run with a maximum of four people.  Discounts available for multiple workshop bookings.


Free Drop In for Art sessions


A few people have been asking when the Free DROP IN for art sessions are starting this year.  Well not long to go now – the first one for 2017 starts on Thursday 26th January.  There is no need to book – just turn up on the day and spend some time creating or blethering.  These sessions are for ALL people with little, none or a lot of experience of art.  The sessions are untutored but help is at hand if you need to ask some advice.  The idea behind this event is to get people creating, finding the artist with themselves.  Creating art makes us feel good and gives us a sense of achievement.  Making art is about enjoying life – come along for some fun and freedom to express yourself in an artistic way.

2017 Dates: Jan 26 / Feb 23 / Mar 23 /  May 25 / Jun 22 / Sep 21 / Oct26 / Nov 30 

2 – 3.30pm – All Welcome

DROP IN for art LEAFLET – click on link

January Workshops



The above link, hopefully, will take you to the current leaflet for the January 2017 workshops.  The first workshop, Introducing Drawing, is the first one of the 2017 season. All eight of the Introductory workshops are aimed at beginners and learners so no experience is needed to join these sessions.  These workshops can either be taken as a series of learning experiences or taken individually.  Please feel free to print out the leaflet or pick up a copy from some of the local shops in Kirriemuir.

In addition to these Introductory courses there will also be workshops focused on specific styles, mediums etc. In January we will focus on Painting from Photographs and Painting a Winter Scene.  We follow on in February with Introducing Colour Mixing; Painting a Still Life; Painting Spring Flowers, Painting from your Sketchbook and/or Photographs (this is a two-day follow-on course but each session can be taken as stand alone.  Full day courses 10.30-4pm).  Other workshops are planned for the whole of 2017 – details will follow in due course.  Do look out for the leaflets or Blog, Social media, website etc.

And something for everyone – beginners, developers and more experienced artists.  A FREE DROP-IN SESSION almost every month (eight sessions in total during 2017).  The first Drop-In starts on Thursday 26th January.  See the leaflet for more details.

And now it is time to do a gallery visit – I am hoping to manage over to Aberfeldy this afternoon to the Watermill Gallery to see the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham exhibition.

Make 2017 the year to enjoy art.



Workshops & Tuition

andy-finished-painting-2016   andy-4-20161222_1027331

There is nothing like watching a person grow and develop.  Most people who visit me in my studio tell me that they can’t draw or paint.  They say things like “oh I like art but I’m no good at it”.  I honestly believe that the ability to create is within us all.  Making art is a talent that we are all born with; the skill comes with practice and experiment.  Most restraints are from within ourselves.  We tell ourselves we are not good enough or are embarrassed by our early, immature attempts.  We are afraid to show our efforts at mark-making for fear of being laughed at, reprimanded for wasting time and a multitude of other reasons not to pick up a pencil or paintbrush.

Andy, my last ‘student’ of 2016, was one such person who thought he could not paint a picture.  He came into my studio during autumn 2016 asking if I would paint a picture of a silk print he had bought from an African trip some time ago.  I encouraged him to think about painting his own version but he told me that he had not painted a picture since primary school (many years ago).  He went away to think about it, returning several weeks later.  Andy booked a series of one-to-one sessions where we covered things like how to ‘see’ things and transfer an image from one source to another using the rule of thirds to help compose the scene he wanted to capture.  We talked about and experimented with colour mixing.  Then we progressed onto techniques and tips for acrylic medium.  Andy had a total of five sessions where he went from being someone who felt lacking in artistic ability to being an artist in his own right.  He told me that he was now ‘seeing’ colours and shapes in everyday things.

Andy finished his painting (on a 50x50cm deep-edge canvas) in time for Christmas.  He was so enthralled by his achievements that he felt confident enough to give it away for a present.  His happiness was my happiness.  There really is nothing to beat the pleasure of helping someone grow and develop – whether it be in art or any other aspect of life.  I’ve planned several workshops for 2017, including a series of eight ‘Introductory’ workshops covering the basics for beginners. I’ve even included some free taster ‘Drop In’ sessions throughout the year to encourage more people to create art.  I see my role not as someone who ‘teaches’ but someone who encourages others to achieve and develop their own way of creating art.  Everyone can create art – try it.

Have a creative and happy 2017.