Painting Practice

I’ve recently finished a new still-life painting and when I’d finished it, it rung a bell.

I’m pretty sure I’ve painted a starfish before.

I went back through some of my old work and, sure enough, there it was. One starfish on a coloured background with a couple of shells thrown in for good measure. I painted the first version in 2013 at an oil painting course at West Dean College.

It was really interesting to compare the two side-by-side. There’s actually quite a few things I like about the first one: The jaunty angle, the impasto, the perspective and the shells. I learnt a lot about the process of painting with oils in doing it.

Palette set up

The second one, completed this week comes from a different place. I’m 5 years further down the road with my art. I draw nearly every day. I set myself new challenges with the composition and background. I observed the light, shadows, abstract shapes, tone, colour, texture and form in a way that I just didn’t grasp in 2013.

So, my lessons to myself this week are:

Don’t throw old artwork away – keep it, learn from it, love the good bits, leave the bad bits.

And, practice, practice, practice. Keep learning, keep moving forward, keep sketching and observing. As David Hockney said “Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache”. Perhaps that explains why, 5 years down the line, I’m also having to wear glasses.


Left: Starfish with Shells 2013

Right: Still-Life study – Textures 2018

(c) Bethany Moore

Painters Progress

I love to see paintings when they are complete, framed and ready to show…  but I really love to see how they started, how they progressed, what worked, what didn’t and the decisions that were made as a result.

Drawing is my first love, I find painting a much more challenging medium, so it really helps me to see the process behind the work and learn tips and techniques to help and inspire me.

Here’s a series of photos that I took when I painted ‘Lobster Pots of Lyme’.  I chose the subject because it was complicated. I wanted to challenge myself to convey the shape/volume of the pots with strokes of paint. I liked the cropped composition, too. It felt like a cross between an abstract and a still life.

close up

I used a very limited colour palette of acrylic paints; raw sienna, raw umber, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, paynes grey and white on a pebeo canvas panel. I used my own photograph for reference.


I roughed out the composition. then concentrated on adding the foreground areas. I painted the areas ‘inside’ the pots as abstracted shapes, looking at the ‘negative’ spaces between the ‘positive’ wicker structures. I worked on each pot individually, but kept coming back to the painting as a whole to check the colour choices and the light and shadow. Finally I added in a grey-ish background to anchor them.



Lobster Pots of Lyme. Bethany Moore 2016

Acrylic on canvas panel 40cm x 40cm