Wednesday, 15 June 2022

East Neuk Open Studios 2022

A painting of a sheepdog with the text which appears below the image

East Neuk Open Studios
25/25 June & 2/3 July
Venue 18 
Moti Black Art

It's nearly that time of year again, so I am clearing out the garage, sorting out my stock, and finishing as many paintings as I can.

I'll be exhibiting in the usual venue (11 Braehead Road, Pittenweem) with Jan Palmer Art.

I look forward to seeing you there!

And if you can't make it, prints and other products featuring my artwork can be found on RedBubble here.


Monday, 16 May 2022

Around the Colour Wheel in Eighty Shades: Part Two

The following three paintings were created using Daniel Smith Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Orange. For Georgie, I also used a bit of Winsor and Newton Indian Red to add the russet depths of the Strawberry Labrador breed.

A watercolour painting or Pittenweem Harbour at sunset
Pittenweem Harbour at Sunset, Watercolour, Moti Black
This image is on RedBubble here.

A watercolour painting of Lindisfarne Castle
Lindisfarne Castle, Watercolour, Moti Black
This image is on RedBubble here.

I painted this for my parents' sapphire wedding anniversary. They met on Holy Island.

A watercolour painting of a strawberry labrador
Georgie the Strawberry Labrador, Watercolour, Moti Black
This image is on RedBubble here.

I love this colour combination, as you get the warmest orange to bring the focal point of the image forward and the cool blue to push the rest into the background.

As the blues in this part of the colour wheel are quite granulated, I find they are not so good for small detail, but they are easy to lift away if you make a mistake.

A selection of watercolour swatches between orange and blue

I glue sample-circles of my watercolour collection onto magnets and stick them to a white board over colour strips. Where two colours are complementary, when you mix them, the colour will turn a neutral colour, and these strips help me identify the complementary colours. 

When I am planning a painting, I move the magnets around and look at the colour strips on my colour board.

When I set out on my mission to categorise all my paints, I hoped to definitively create a list of where each paint fell on the colour wheel. With this section, because of the granulation of the blues, and with the creaminess of some of the oranges, I found I could not make up my mind which paints best matched the other paints, so in the end, I left it a bit fluid.

Here's a list of the colours that fit on my paint strips for this section. Mostly I use Daniel Smith Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Orange, but there are many other options.


Permanent Orange (Daniel Smith)

Winsor Orange (Winsor and Newton)

Cadmium Orange (Winsor and Newton)

Shades in the middle:

Gold Ochre (Winsor and Newton)

Brown Ochre (Winsor and Newton)

Burnt Sienna (Winsor and Newton)

Magnesium Brown (Winsor and Newton)

Burnt Umber (Winsor and Newton)

Duochrome Desert Bronze (Daniel Smith)

Tigers Eye (Daniel Smith)

Vandyke Brown (Winsor and Newton)

Blue Apatite (Daniel Smith) - a bit green for the overall section, but it fits when Ultramarine Green Shade (Winsor and Newton) is Mixed with Permanent Orange (Daniel Smith) and is a gorgeous paint to work with.


Ultramarine Green Shade (Winsor and Newton)

French Ultramarine (Winsor and Newton)

Cobalt Blue Deep (Winsor and Newton)

Ultramarine Blue (Daniel Smith)

I always think this colour scheme will work fantastically with Winsor and Newton Gold Ink, but as yet, I have never dared splash it on a finished painting. I hope one day I will be brave enough.

Happy creating! And if you do create anything using these colour combinations, please tag me on social media so I can see your fantastic art.


 on facebook, twitter, and instagram

See my art portfolio on my RedBubble Shop!

Thursday, 10 March 2022

The Turkish Poppy and the Happy Accident

A watercolour painting of a Red Turkish poppy
Bleeding Poppy, Watercolour, Moti Black, March 2022
This image is on RedBubble here.

Every year, I grow a patch of Turkish Poppies around my apple tree. I love their deep red; how, when they first open, they pop out of their buds, throwing the casing across the lawn; how they as so small; and that their petals are blown off within a couple of days at most.

I've been wanting to paint a series of paintings featuring these poppies for a while, and decided this was the year. 

I used two opposing colour palettes in this painting, Winsor Red and Holbein's Marine Blue, and Winsor Green Yellow Shade and Opera Rose. Unfortunately, the scan didn't pick out the Winsor Green Yellow Shade as well as I'd have hoped. I photoshopped it for a bit to try and get the colours as close to the original as possible, and although it's not quite right, I like the digital version in its own right.

When I first scanned the painting, I had the brightness setting a bit too low. Although I readjusted the settings and rescanned, the first image was stuck in my mind. Two days later, I decided that, although it felt a bit like the scanner was thumbing its nose at me telling me it could do better than my design, I would release the dark version alongside the original painting. 

A dark scan of a watercolour painting of a red Turkish poppy
Vibrant Bleeding Poppy, Watercolour and dark scan, Moti Black, 2022
This image is on RedBubble here.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

My Top 20 pumpkins from 2018-2020

Pumpkin season is upon us, and I have dug out my carving tools, picked my three home grown pumpkins and bought my ticket to the Cairnie pumpkin patch.

This will be my fourth year carving pumpkins, and once again, The Dory, Pittenweem, have kindly offered to display my carvings in their window.

I'll upload my carvings as I finish them to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If an image works particularly well, I will upload it to RedBubble, but this year I will be focusing more on display pumpkins than carving to the camera.

Before I start carving, I thought I would have a look back at my favourite carvings from the last three years.

I carve real pumpkins using U gouges and craft knifes. All the designs are my own.


Pumpkin Carving of a Cat
Toast the Tabby Cat, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.


Pumpkin Carving of Crail
Crail, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2020

This was my big carve of last year. Because I got my pumpkin seeds in late, over watered them, and with Covid, I wasn't going out shopping for pumpkins, I was working on an under ripe, waterlogged pumpkin, and I wasn't carving at my optimum level, so I plan to redo this design this year.


Pumpkin Carving of Pamela Coleman Smith

Pamela Coleman Smith, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2018

This was one of my first pumpkin carvings. It was my second attempt at the image, and I went on to win a carving competition with it. It was probably the carving that got me seriously interested in carving, and the reason I am now tired and in pain every October.


Pumpkin Carving of a Hedgehog
Hedgehog, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2020

I had finished pumpkin carving for the year, when a friend of mine prompted me to enter a competition. Although this pumpkin was rotting, so I couldn't get the lighting right, it won me the competition :)


pumpkin carving of a lobster
Lobster, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2020
This image is on RedBubble here.

Last year I was so rusty when I started carving, it took me three goes to get this carving. But I finally got one I was happy with.


Pumpkin Carving of St Monans Church
St Monans Kirk, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.

My first attempt at shaded images combining holes all the way through the pumpkin, trying to make the windows look like they were lit up with light coming from within the Kirk.


Pumpkin Carving of a French Horn
French Horn, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2020

Trumpet carved on a Pumpkin
Trumpet, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black 2020

My niece plays the French Horn, so I thought I would have a go at carving one on a pumpkin, as I loved the way the tubes wrap around and form different layers. I thought I would do a whole brass section on one pumpkin, but started with the images being too small and abandoned the project. (The hedgehog ended up on the other side of this pumpkin.)


Celtic Knot carved on a pumpkin
Celtic Knot, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.

I think celtic knots are my favouirite things to carve on pumpkins. As long as you have a clear stencil to work with and approach it methodically, very little can go wrong, and when you finish, you can photoshop the image to create some fantastic patterns in many different colours.


Celtic knot Carved on a Pumpkin
Celtic Knot, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.


An all over pumpkin carving using a celtic knot design
360 Celtic Knot, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2021

I have wanted to do an all over carve for a while, and as I had an early ripener in the garden, I took the opportunity to create a 360 celtic knot design. It looked great, but I was in agony after two solid days of carving, so I won't be repeating that again any time soon.


Sunflower carved on a pumpkin
Sunflower, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.


An Owl carved on a pumpkin
Dark owl, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.


A skull carved on a pumpkin
Skull, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.


A young boy carved on a pumpkin
Hayden, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
Based on a photo by James Palmer


The Dory Logo carved on a pumpkin
Dory Logo, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019

The Dory Bistro in Pittenweem kindly display my pumpkins in their window, so I thought as a surprise for them, I would do their logo.


The Dreel Halls in Anstruther carved onto a pumpkin
Dreel Halls, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.


St Andrews Cathedral carved onto a pumpkin
St Andrews Cathedral, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.


A leafless winter tree carved onto a pumpkin
Winter Tree, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.

This pumpkin had started rotting when I started carving, so I thought I would choose an easy design. Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as I thought and took me two days, during which, the pumpkin was going brown and soggy. This is why it is my only pumpkin photographed without the top on since I stopped using real tea lights.


Lighthouse carved on a pumpkin
Low Light on the Isle of May, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.

This is actually my personal favourite carving, but the Pittenweem West Shore took about four times as long to carve and is much more popular, so I have let that one have first place.


Pittenweem West Shore carved onto a pumpkin
Pittenweem West Shore, Pumpkin Carving, Moti Black, 2019
This image is on RedBubble here.

I grew this pumpkin in my garden and the carve took two days. I've not managed to create something as large or as intricate since, but I hope to do a couple this year.

Happy Carving

Monday, 26 July 2021

New Exhibition Lined Up!

I am painting away like crazy to make sure there are a few new paintings at my next exhibition in Pittenweem as part of the West Braes Gala celebrations on 6th - 8th August 2021 10:00-17:00.

Pooky the Black Cat, Watercolour Moti Black
Available from RedBubble here

Over 20 other artists will also be exhibiting throughout the village, and a huge celebration at the West Braes Park will mark the official opening at midday, 7th August, of the Pittenweem Pool after the renovations.

I will be selling paintings, prints, cards, bags, cushion covers, notebooks, mouse mats and stickers. I will be exhibiting in my garage alongside Jan Palmer at Venue 15.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Around the Colour Wheel in Eighty Shades: Part One

I've been asked quite a bit lately about my colour choices in my paintings. I have been reluctant to write about it, as I am a self taught artist and assume I have huge holes in my knowledge, but as there seems to be some interest, and I started to tell people I would blog about it, here we go.

Cadmium Scarlet and Phthalo Blue (Red Shade)

When I am starting a painting, I pick two colours which are opposite each other on the colour wheel, so when they are combined in the right amounts, they create a neutral greyish colour. As you mix these two colours, they create a range of colours, some of which can be matched with other paints, which may have different and useful properties.

With my Firth of Forth series, I mostly use Cadmium Scarlet and Winsor Blue (Red Shade). 

Bass Rock, November 2018, Watercolur, Moti Black
Available on RedBubble here

Isle of May, August 2018, Watercolour, Moti Black
Available on RedBubble here

Berwick Law and Craig Leith, November 2018
Available on RedBubble here

The paints that fit in with this colour scheme are

  • Phthalo Blue, Red Shade - Holbein Artists' Watercolour. Lovely and bright blue. Useful when you want to give the sky an extra oomph. However, it does leave a darker blue line around where you apply the wet paint.
  • Phthalo Sapphire - Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour. Very similar to the Holbein, Phthalo Blue Red Shade, but a limited edition, so may be hard to get your hands on.
  • Winsor Blue, Red Shade - Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour. My go to paint for paintings in these colours, but it doesn't work very well if you want to do effects with clingfilm, and like the Hobein, leaves a darker blue line at the edge of the wet paint when it dries.
  • Prussian Blue - Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour. I haven't used this much.
  • Indigo - Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour. I love the properties of this paint. It works really well with clingfilm. However, I find it is best used with plenty of water as can develop a coppery sheen.
  • Venetian Red - Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour. I haven't used this much
  • Light Red - Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour, again, I haven't used this much.

With the Firth of Forth Scenes Range, I only use Phthalo Blue, Red Shade (Holbein Artists' Watercolour), Winsor Blue, Red Shade (Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour), Indigo (Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour) and Cadmium Scarlet (Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour). (Sometimes I have used Chinese White to pick out the white areas, but I do try to leave the paper blank where I can.)

I have also found these colours useful in other paintings, where I first paint the image using Winsor Blue Red Shade and Cadmium Scarlet, then add minimal colours from elsewhere in the colour wheel.

For example, the colours are perfect for house sparrows. Here I added a bit of Raw Umber (Winsor and Newton Professional) on the feathers and Permanent Green Light (Daniel Smith) for the background.

House Sparrow, Watercolour, Moti Black
This image is on RedBubble here

I used the colour scheme again in my 'Dragon Attack on Pittenweem', with just a bit of Viridian (Winsor and Newton Professional) for the green doors, plants and reflections and Permanent Carmine (Winsor and Newton Professional) for the pink house.

Dragon Attack on Pittenweem, Moti Black, Watercolour
Available on RedBubble here

Happy Painting!

Friday, 18 June 2021

Watercolour Border Collie


Watercolour painting of a border collie dog.
Tess the Border Collie, Watercolour, Moti Black 2021
This image can be found on RedBubble here

Two people wearing border collie T Shirts

Border Collie painting on a set of coasters

Today I finished a long term project I have been working on, and phew! That was a marathon. 

Except for the eyes, this image was created using just two complimentary colours, Viridian and Permanent Alizarin Crimson (I used Winsor and Newton Professional paint.) When combined, these colours create the neutral black colour of Tess's fur; ramp up the red, and you have the perfect pink for the gums; let the green dominate, and you have a cool background colour, which I thought would be good for a dog that loves running around in fields.

I finished this image just in time for my first outing in the art world in a couple of years. If you are in Fife on the weekend of the 26/27th June 2021, I have a stall at Bowhouse near St Monans. Hopefully I will see you there!


Filter Posts By...