Two Cormorants…

This week I wanted to take a painting I had painted for a workshop demonstration and add a minimal amount of elements around it in order to complete a composition. This was purely so that I could see how quickly I could go from demo piece to composition…

I have been looking through my Birds portfolio and spotted one of my Cormorants paintings which I had painted for a University of Leicester workshop:

2 cormorants by Paul Maslowski 2018
2 cormorants by Paul Maslowski 2018

As those who attended the workshop at the Botanic Gardens back in 2018 will hopefully remember I had painted this pair of Cormorants, the land and the reedy grasses above.

I had painted this at the bottom of a large piece of grass paper so there was at least the same amount of space above the top of the head of the Cormorant on the land as below it.

From this start I decided to add the land spit on the right, above the line of the top cormorant’s head. This then meant I could add the spit of land on the left further up the page along with the distant mountains.

The final part was a little thought that I wanted to add a man fishing as the birds were not…

Once done, I then added the Calligraphy: my name followed by a Double Happiness seal alongside the year, 2018 followed by a fu seal.

All in all, probably about 15 minutes painting (mostly Calligraphy practice) for a finished picture.

Let me know what you have finished very simply that takes a picture from a draft, sketch, element to a finished composition. I would love to hear what you’ve been able to do when you’ve been pushed for time but wanted to paint!

Best wishes


2014 LTCBP Book

With this weekend starting with VE Day there has been a lot of reflecting on past glories. This has reminded me how grateful I am that we are so lucky to be socially isolating in such relative luxury compared to a lot of the worlds’ peoples.

Looking back I was reminded that in 2014 we were incredibly lucky that Mike Garbett took on a project for the LTCBP Group. Over the course of that year he gathered work from the group and produced a wonderful book, from which I reproduce a few images below:

2014 LTCBP Book cover
2014 LTCBP Book cover c/o Mike Garbett

It is a fabulous record of work created by our students, some of whom are no longer with us…

2014 LTCBP Book Lotus pages
2014 LTCBP Book Lotus pages c/o Mike Garbett

Thank you to everyone in the LTCBP Group who contributed to this record and to Mike for bringing it all together.

Keep well and Happy painting,


Beautiful Wisteria

Claire & I were on our exercise walk earlier and saw so much beautiful Wisteria out that it reminded us of the fabulous workshop we were incredibly lucky to have, back in May 2018, with Jane Dwight.

Unfortunately this year we won’t get to see the Botanic Gardens Wisteria so I thought I’d post up a photo of that workshop when the Wisteria was just peaking:

LTCBP with Jane Dwight and Botanic Gardens Wisteria
LTCBP group with Jane Dwight and Wisteria in the University of Leicester Botanic Gardens c/o Mike

Jane lead a fantastic workshop and left us with some fabulous memories which are captured here c/o Mike Garbett:

Jane Dwight's Wisteria painting styles
Jane Dwight’s Wisteria painting styles c/o Mike

Happy memories of a wonderful workshop with an excellent artist who is sadly missed.

Again, if you are inspired please feel free to share your inspirations.

Happy painting,


Flight over Norfolk

I have been thinking about VE day and we are very lucky in Market Harborough to have just had the Red arrows fly over. We have also seen the news that white-tailed sea eagles have been seen over Norfolk this week.

With these things in mind I have been looking back through my Birds portfolio. I realised I had painted a white-tailed sea eagle after a workshop with William Cai who painted the wonderful still life from which I painted the below. Eagles are one of my favourite painting subjects:

2 season pin an - Paul Maslowski 2015
2 season pin an – 2 season peace still life – Paul Maslowski 2015

No amendments today as I finished this painting back in 2015. However, the good people of Norfolk may appreciate the following sea eagle detail:

2 season pin an - eagle detail - Paul Maslowski 2015
2 season pin an – 2 season peace still life – eagle detail – Paul Maslowski 2015

It must have been a wonderful sight to see them in the wild and it is a shame we can’t be there. However, I have been lucky enough to see them in captivity hence the painting.

Best wishes to all,


Patient Endurance

As mentioned in my post from yesterday I have been looking at, and painting in, various styles this week.

Today’s painting is a return to Landscape to try and express something of the time we are living in, hence the title…

Again, it’s new shoots from old growth in that the painting started out as a demonstration at Beauchamp College I believe. However, it was never ‘completed’ so this was my chance. Some of you may remember a discussion on paper and how some people believe certain papers are ‘rubbish’.

My contention was that you can paint on any paper beautifully as long as you adapt your style to the paper and understand your medium.

The painting was of two pine trees, an owl and a rock on the cheapest wallpaper you could acquire…

Patient Endurance by Paul Maslowski 2012
Patient Endurance (Pines and stone by lake) by Paul Maslowski 2012

If you would like to see the above painting in more detail, please visit my Landscape Portfolio.

I have added the following to bring this to a completed composition:

  • More ink detail on the less detailed pine
  • Much more contrast into the roots of the pines and on the edge of the land
  • More contrast in the rocks
  • A contrasting ground
  • Grasses
  • Distant mountains and light mist
  • A fisherman in a boat
  • Calligraphy: Cantonese – Two thousand and twelve year, my signature and the title, Patient Endurance

I hope that the takeaway from this is that if you treat your paper with respect you can obtain any result you desire. Remember, paper is one of the Four Treasures of the studio…

I hope you enjoy this painting and it inspires you to paint. Please do post back if it has the desired effect as we would love to see your work.

Best wishes,


Iris & Butterfly

I have been working on some different paintings this week, lots of different subjects and styles. However, I thought I would post up another painting that I have finished off but which is not a Landscape. This is purely because the Irises are looking lovely this year and we have seen plenty of butterflies in the garden and I was reminded of a Summer school a couple of years ago…

This one is from two different demonstrations which came together. The first is an Iris from the 2018 Attenborough Arts Botanic Gardens Summer school. The second is a butterfly from an Insects workshop later that year.

Iris and Butterfly by Paul Maslowski 2018
Iris and Butterfly by Paul Maslowski 2018

For those who attended the workshops you will see that I have added Calligraphy to the painting. This is my signature next to the year, two thousand eighteen in what they call Cantonese style. The small title, at the bottom this time, is Iris flower.

Before I completed the Calligraphy I decided to add colour to the butterfly, oh yes…

I liked the original outlined butterfly that I demonstrated but in this painting a coloured butterfly improves the composition, unless, of course, you disagree…

Should you feel inspired to paint something from this please do post back on here as I would love to see it. Alternatively, you can post back on our Double Happiness MH Facebook page.

Best wishes,


Chinese Garden

You may be aware that I have been looking back through my old paintings, studies and sketches and discovering new things within them.

This week I found a sketch of a pine tree I had drafted as part of a workshop some years ago. I cannot recall which workshop it was but suffice to say all I had from it was the bare trunk of a pine with some needles…

This seemed too good a challenge not to see what composition I could pull out of it.

There have been a few things in the back of my mind recently and as I slowly let them come to the fore I ended up with memories from the Chinese Garden at National Trust property, Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire.

Part of this, I know, is because it is a wonderful garden but also because we have no idea at time of writing when we will be able to return…

Chinese Garden (Memories of Biddulph) by Paul Maslowski 2020
Chinese Garden (Memories of NT Biddulph Grange Garden) by Paul Maslowski 2020

From the original outline pine I have added the following:

  1. The hole in the trunk along with lots more definition up and down the trunk – this was applied in layers
  2. More needles of varying shades
  3. Elongated roots so that more definition (and, therefore, interest) could be worked into the roots
  4. Layers of foliage fill in shades of grey in order to get the pine canopy
  5. A ground so that the pine is standing close to a lake
  6. A couple of rocks in the lake along with water weeds along the lake edge
  7. Bamboo as there are beautiful bamboo’s at Biddulph. Again, in varying shades of grey
  8. The Chinese Pavilion from Biddulph Grange garden along with another lake edge behind this
  9. Seven golden koi carp
  10. Calligraphy:
    1. The title: Chinese Garden
    2. The date: Two Thousand Twenty Year in Cantonese style
    3. Seal: Tranquillity
    4. Seal: Double Happiness
    5. My Signature followed by painted

I hope that this is useful to you and inspires you. Ideally, to paint, but also for those with an interest in all things Chinese to visit the beautiful garden of Biddulph Grange when we get chance to…


Goldfinch – tips and techniques

Goldfinch by Claire Seaton
Goldfinch by Claire Seaton

Here are two of my studies of a goldfinch painted about 4 years apart. There are parts of both which I like but I prefer the more recent one. Different times, different styles. I shall describe the steps for painting the second study.

  1. Always with a finch, any finch, begin with the beak.Use very dry black ink. It is a stubby beak for cracking seeds with a downward facing hook at the end.
  2. Then paint in the position of the eye. Do not worry if this disappears as the stage 3 is painted. With this dry black ink paint the lines of the wings and tail.
  3. With a slightly wetter black ink paint in the plumage around the beak, at the back of the head and on the wings.
  4. Add the bright red plumage on the head and the bright yellow flash on the lower wing.
  5. Add the brown plumage on the back and body with as few strokes as possible. Add a few light grey strokes to suggest body shape.
  6. Finally, add legs and feet and the eye. If you want, add the background of a teasel for context.


Kite over Aberdyfi

I was having a further look back through the archive and discovered a study of a tree that I had painted back in 2010. This was from the window of the cottage we were staying in at a farm near Aberdyfi, Wales and is fairly accurate of the tree. The rest of the elements are impressions from the time and place.

Part of wanting to finish this was the good memories the picture brought back but also the challenge of turning it into a full composition from just this one image. Looking back at the photos from that half-term holiday showed up some wonderful country side and lots of birds in the valley, especially Kites, which we saw a lot of. I did not adjust the tree in any way, just added all the other elements…

I was able to pin the image down to the 15th of February 2010 so this is what I dated it as, literally 2010 year, 2nd month, 15th day.

To learn more about dating paintings please see our Calligraphy pages:

Kite over Aberdyfi - P Maslowski 2010-02-15
Kite over Aberdyfi – Paul Maslowski 2010-02-15


Misty Landscape

Since last weekend when I would have taken a Landscape workshop I have continued looking back through my Landscape portfolio. I have also been thinking about Yuan Dynasty landscapes and carried out a bit more research on this fascinating subject.

I discovered what I think was a demonstration piece for a workshop on Misty Landscapes back in the 2000’s.

As with last weekend’s work I thought it would be useful to complete the painting. See below:

Hidden village in mist by Paul Maslowski
Hidden village in mist after a Yuan Dynasty style by Paul Maslowski

In the workshop I demonstrated the three trees and foliage together with outlines for the rocks. Despite the colouring this is all shades of ink. I have, therefore, added the following to the above painting:

  1. more detail and contrast to the trees. In particular to make the main tree three dimensional
  2. some extra foliage of varying shades
  3. much more contrast into the tree roots
  4. detail on the rocks and contrasting ink strokes to make the rocks look three dimensional
  5. brought out the foreground and the detail of the river bank
  6. more detail on the far river banks
  7. more detail to the misty details across the trees
  8. added a distant rock and the village with the tower
  9. added all the cloud details
  10. signed and sealed the painting. Yes, I haven’t dated it as foolishly I don’t know when I started it which is a note to self!

This is painted on very thin single xuan paper which allows for better misty effects.

Please note: some of the crinkling is because of the thin paper. This will be removed once I back the painting!

Should this inspire you, please let me know how you get on with your Landscapes as I would love to hear what you are up to…


Painting a Lucky Carp – tips and techniques

Rainbow Koi Carp by Claire Seaton

This is my version of a Japanese Koi Carp. A fish which is regarded as lucky in China and Japan as a symbol of abundance. The key to painting this is the bold black first stroke down its back.

  1. With very dry, very black ink and a big brush paint the curved line down the spine. Start at the mouth with a point , bring the brush gradually down onto its belly whilst continuing in a thick line, curving it back towards the tail. With luck and a little judgement you may tail (!) off into flying white.
  2. Paint the line of the belly in the same manner making sure you break the line to finish the line of the underside of the tail.
  3. A similarly thick line should be painted for the mouth.
  4. Add the eye, the fins and the flowing tail in dry black and dark grey.
  5. Than add the scales, try not to be too regular.
  6. Add wet shades of grey and orange to the body in an irregular pattern. Use these same colours for the fins and tail.
  7. Finally paint the water weeds. Add calligraphy and seal.


Trees & Temples

Today, Saturday 4 April 2020 I was due to lead a Landscape workshop for the LCBP group in the University of Leicester Botanic Gardens.

Looking back through my Landscape portfolio this week I discovered a demonstration piece I had done for a workshop back in October 2012. This was for the Trees & Temples workshop which took place at Oadby Beauchamp College.

It, therefore, seemed apposite to complete the piece and post it up here for the benefit of those to took part in the workshop so that they can dig out their old painting while those who joined us after 2012 can give it a go.

Pine Temple after 3 Zhengs by P Maslowski 2012 - 20
Pine Temple after 3 Zhengs by P Maslowski 2012 – 20

The original painting that this was based on was of the Shaolin Temple by the 3 Zhengs. Having found my demo piece I thought I would post it here so you can see the ink work before the colour went on…

Shaolin Temple demonstration by P Maslowski 2012

For those who are happy with their original composition you may want to have a bit of fun with the below photo of the Shaolin Temple gate which is the original inspiration. Please do post up your inspirations as I would love to see them.

Shaolin Temple gate, Dengfeng County, Zhengzhou, Henan

If you notice the board above the gate, it literally says in gold writing, sì lín shao (temple lin shao) i.e. Shaolin Temple

Happy painting