pastel sketch for December blog


Thanks for checking out my latest blog. Here you can learn a bit more about my rediscovered passion for pastels and process behind my most recent paintings.

I’m so grateful to live by the coast and having had some extra time to focus on my art due to the closure of Seagrass, I’ve had opportunity to spend more time outdoors.

I started sketching outside and wanting to quickly capture the changing light at dusk, I experimented with various media. I was so excited when I took my ancient pastels with me and black paper; something clicked and I was hooked!

It’s really satisfying observing the changing skies at twilight, and before I know it, I’m donning my head torch and capturing that magical, fading light.

It feels almost spiritual at times, outside, often alone in the dark, paying close attention to my surroundings. It fills my heart up with deep gratitude and a sense of wonder.

Rediscovering soft pastels was revelatory. They blend seamlessly, so softly and seductively, yet enabling a build-up of luminous layers, as well as more textural and gestural mark making. I now know why they were my chosen sketching medium all those years ago on my degree course.

I will continue making my pastel sketches which inform my paintings done in the studio, but they may well also become works of art in their own right.

Here’s a short video of my latest sketches – hope you like!

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a love filled Christmas and a more positive and hopeful new year.




Spreading hope 40x40 Acrylic and sand £195


By now you may now that I had to take the sad decision to close my gallery Seagrass.

It was not an easy choice to make, but it was the right one.

As I move in this new direction, for a limited time only, I’d like to offer a special discount on some existing work.

In the next few days a new sale page will appear on the website, displaying the work available.

Meanwhile, here’s a poster with some further details.

Much love,

Jo xx

New blue painting



It’s been an interesting start to this new decade.

It sees the beginning of a new era in many ways, not least of all having to bid farewell to my youngest daughter who, at the tender age of just 19 has travelled across the world to central America where she will spend the next six months.

It has left me reflecting about the many changes ahead. It has left me feeling if I’m truly honest, pretty low.

I have today returned to my studio and wondered how I could channel this low into something more positive. My daughter Izzy has started sending beautiful Caribbean ocean photos, with the shimmering, sunlit, turquoise waters. Just magical, and it got me thinking about the myriad shades of blue and what blue means to me.

Blue is low mood, but also the colour of distant shores, deep blue skies, profoundly deep blue waters. I could dwell on the devastating impact we humans are having on our blue planet, but if I give it too much thought, I could drown in my own blue tears.

So instead,I want to celebrate blue. It is for me, calming, spiritual and can be energising, it’s regal, strong and at times comforting.

I have many shades of blue acrylics and a few new oil paints in my studio now and have certain favourites which I will explore in some experimental artworks, but I have thought about where pigments come from.

I have discovered that the magnificent semi precious stone Lapiz Lazuli (often used in my jewellery creations), at one time more precious than gold and used in many ancient Egyptian artworks and royal jewels, was originally ground up to make whats now called Ultramarine. Synthetic materials are now used in modern paints but I’ve purchased some pure Lapiz pigment to experiment with.

Ultramarine comes from the Latin ’Ultramarinus’ which means ‘beyond the sea’. I love that! I think it may become a title for a painting. Ultramarine is a beautiful deep blue. The deeper the blue, the stronger it pulls us to the infinite.

In addition to sea and sky, I associate Blue with the heavens and spirituality. It’s a colour I use in paintings to connect me to my ancestors.

In the 18th Century, the blue flower (Blaue Blume) emerged in Romantic art as a symbol of metaphysical longing and love. I have a feeling a few blue flowers may appear in my paintings whilst I attempt to calm my bereft heart.

Watch this space! In the mean time here are a few of my past blue works, and at the top, a new experimental oil and cold wax medium, the start of a new, blue year.

With love and best wishes for an inspiring and creative 2020



Coldwax Ireland 1

November 2019 – Cold wax and oil course in rainy Ireland.

I recently returned from a very intense artistic week in County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland.

I took a week’s course at the Ballinglen arts foundation to master the new medium of cold wax with oil paint.

It was a very exploratory week, investigating the properties of this new medium and learning how to create atmospheric semi abstract landscapes.

Ideally we would have gone outside to do some sketching but it barely stopped raining so we spent many long hours in the studio working with solvents and pigment powders and a few natural objects brought in from the occasional quick trip to the beach to scratch and mark make with.

Using oil and cold wax is very different to working with acrylics, as it slips around and dries much more slowly.

However, the advantage of using this material is that it enables me to create wonderful textures and work in layers to scratch back into.

As I already use a lot of sand and earth collected on my dog walks in my paintings with acrylics, I found myself adapting to using the cold wax and oil with charcoal dust, slate dust, marble dust and sand readily.

I will certainly continue to explore this lovely combination of layering textures, cold wax and pigments with oil paint and see where it leads me. One thing is for sure, it is really very satisfying to use.

And the colour of oil paint it has to be said, is so rich and luminous, particularly when used with cold wax. Having not painted with oils for nearly 30 years, I have rediscovered the joys of this sumptuous, expressive paint.

Here are some images from my trip. Follow my adventures on Instagram josmithartuk for more pictures too.



Beautiful coastline – visible on a rare rain free afternoon!


Some sunshine – YAY!!!!!


One of my oil and cold wax pieces from the course.


One of my oil and cold wax pieces from the course.


One of my oil and cold wax pieces from the course.




New Direction

Today’s rainy dog walk resulted in a blissful connection with the beach and wild autumnal seed head and grasses, leading to treasured finds brought home to inspire a new sketch book page.

It’s quite daunting opening a pristine sketchbook, full of expectation and excitement and a little bit of fear.

To get me started, I considered my feelings about these treasures and related them to my relationship with the beach  and how precious it is to me.

This came up for me… “The Beach is Crowned in Autumn Glory.”

I used a piece of grass to make my initial marks across the full width of the inside pages. It felt wonderful!

I wanted to capture the wet, unified golden and copper grasses so used water based acrylic inks.

And so, the first page is done!

More from the new sketchbook

… and one more…



Make Contact

T: 07732 533999

The coast makes my heart sing with joy whether it’s a rocky Cornish cliff top, a wide stretch of golden Anglesey sand or a quiet little Scottish harbour

Copyright 2019 Jo Smith ©  All Rights Reserved

Website by Sievingnectar