Friday, 20 June 2014

Paint Till You Faint at Pontefract, West Yorkshire


With Rachel Byass
  http://www.firedartdesigns.co.uk/

The West Country painters travelled to Pontefract in June - Friday 13th!!!
Lynne and I from Cornwall, Jane from Devon, Honor from Gloucester and Joanne from Wiltshire, Joanne travelled by train which was pretty wise considering the weather was a super duper sunny day.

Several pit stops on the way up to stretch the legs etc plus coffee and water top ups. The 50 mph speed limit on the Motorways slowed us down a bit and of course the traffic is a lot heavier than we Cornish and Devon  gals are used to.

Arrived at the  Pontefract North Premier Inn, Knottingley. We all highly recommend this hotel the staff were helpful, the rooms and especially the beds were comfortable aiding a good night sleep. All of our rooms were at the back away from road noise.
Rachel had arranged for our ceramic dishes to be at the hotel, complete with instructions on how to transfer the design using Sharpie pens and tissue paper. Always room in the brain cells to learn something new, so after our evening meal and suitable refreshments (hic ) we traced and transferred onto our bowls and stowed them safely in the car.

The next morning we were ready and eager to paint on our plates. We arrived at Rachel’s superb studio ( check out her website, specially built and full of things to paint and learn, a studio to die for. Am green with envy )  ....we met two new painting chums Penny and Lorna.



We all enjoyed learning how to tube pipe, the glaze blending and Sumi painting. Lots to learn and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Lots of laughter with quirky humour! And excellent food, plenty of calories to keep the brain cells fed. Later on Dave Woolass demonstrated – how to paint a rain drop on a leaf with a lot of patience and good sense of humour too. The evening was finished off with a BBQ and wine. Rachel is a superb cook and is planning to write a “Small Kitchen Cook Book” can’t wait to buy one, especially the desserts. YUM, YUM.

Lorna, Honor, Me hiding behind my plate, Jane, Penny, Lynne and Joanne


Sunday morning we finished off the last few details on our dishes, then moved on to strokework. Bamboo on a paintbrush wrap, a small terracotta pot and pink plastic coated aprons. Freehand painting is something most of us don’t do. I prefer the safety net that a line drawing creates, so thinking about placement is something that sends off alarm bells because we like things just right. OK gal – jump straight in – remember that everything grows to the point of growth. Ahhh it’s not that bad!


We practised the bamboo technique on card and because time was running out we decided to paint the project at home.

Rachel stretched us with the bamboo wrap it’s not the normal surface to paint on for new painters, it is quite odd to use a brush on this type of surface but am happy with the result. Hey ho - maybe I ought to have painted them a bit longer ... next time will be on a flat surface.



Before starting the terracotta pots – Rachel did an intensive demonstration on a variety of different brushstrokes, Rose buds and leaves, Sunflowers, Queen Ann Lace, Geranium flowers and leaves, a Fairy, Bluebells, Lavender and a simple stroke flower using her specially designed Sumo brush. It took time to decide which to try first ..... I liked the geraniums, need to play with these sometime soon.



We started the aprons with stamped butterflies, bees and lady birds and then filled in between, most of which I’ve done as homework because time had run out. The hours just flew bye as it always does when fully engrossed it what you are doing. Rachel has a lot to give and share, her studio is crammed to the ceiling rafters with all that she does. Not just ceramics, strokework, fabric painting, candle making, soap and bath treat workshops, fine art and a whole lot more :-)


My fellow West Country Painters - Honor, me, Jane, Joanne & Lynne

The plastic coated apron was another unfamiliar surface and took quite a while to work out how best to paint it, tried everything .......... lots of paint and big .... not too good. Then more by accident than skill realised painting small with slightly watered down paint was best. LOL and then I over played and have a very busy apron!



Yes we painted till we fainted ......... and with Rachel’s computer out of action and sadly no back up paperwork to remind the grey cell, I’ve been painting every minute I could to nail down some of what we learnt during Sunday the rest is on a list. Looking forward to meeting up with Lynne and Jane to play and paint all the things we have been shown.

 Strokework – now in theory this was a big backward step for most of us, but it made me realise how much of the beginner’s strokework has been lost from my memory. The basics that quickly produces pretty projects that build a new painters confidence, before they move on into more brush techniques, I’ve booked a one to one day course with Rachel after the Nilda Seminar in Sheffield at the end of July.  Getting back to basics it’s time to get this nailed down ready for my next set of new students.

Thank you Rachel for a brill few days, the relaxed atmosphere, good company, good food and lots more. An extremely talented teacher, designer and painter.

Love picking up tips and sayings from other teachers. I’ve been stroking the cat and making my brush dance and making a river and not a road this last one is a perfect description on how to water down paint and will be using all three within my teaching.


Four dishes after firing - gosh they look so different from the chalky look you get with painting them. So looking forward to picking them up in July


My apron is full of Sunflowers not at all like Rachel’s original; I got carried away with playing with paint. The sun has had his hat on for several days down here in Cornwall. I’ve been outside getting my daily dosage of Vitamin D whilst the paint dries – Oh Happy Days

Rachels Contact Details

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