Judith P. Raynault studio

Trying New Things And Failing A Little

I've been feeling the urge to step away from the screen and draw on actual material again for some time now. I made a start last month, but really what I've been yearning for is something like an artist residency, where I can spend all day everyday doing art and not think about life admin. And this month, that's exactly what I did.


I wasn't invited anywhere (I wish!), so instead I created an artist retreat—rather than a residency—for myself. I'm very privileged that my husband and I could afford a week away in a nice place by the sea in Cornwall. More precisely St Ives, an artistic town at that (it has many galleries, as well as Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum). I packed a suitcase with more art supplies than clothes and off we went.

I was able to explore various mediums such as acrylic paint, pencil, and my old enemy: watercolour.

I started the week with my first ever acrylic painting. I'm not that big a fan of 'by the sea' type of art, but I wanted to paint from real life and there were a few sea urchins scattered around the house so I went with that. At least it's an interesting looking creature. I was once again reminded that observing something for a long time is great to notice all the amazing details about it.

Then came my first attempt at watercolour that week, based on a photo I took of a sunset by the Cornish sea...

Hum, yeah... Granted I didn't have the right paper for it, but I can't blame the result entirely on that! 😳 I decided it wasn't worth trying to salvage it, and that I should watch some YouTube tutorials before starting a new painting. So after an hour or so of learning the technique, this was second attempt (on a more appropriate paper):

Better, but not exactly good. I need A LOT of practice with this medium. An artist friend I was texting then told me not to worry, that watercolour is a lesson in humiliation. She'd actually meant to write 'humility', but her phone auto-corrected it to 'humiliation.' We both agreed that her phone was right.

My last experience with watercolour was this one, based on a photo I took of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture overlooking the sea:

Although it didn't turn out exactly like what I had in mind, I felt more confident painting it than the previous one. So there’s hope for future improvement.

As for the illustration I did in pencil, you'll have to tune in to your emails or this blog next month to see it. ;)

I told my husband at the start of the week that my aim for the retreat was to explore and have fun, and I'm happy to report that I did! It was great to get out of my head and create with the intention of play as opposed to the intention of making the artwork look professional.

Judith xx


Here are the reference pictures I took, and a few more of beautiful St Ives.

Podcast recommendation

Elizabeth Day (of the excellent How To Fail Podcast fame) has teamed up with her best friend Emma Reed-Turrell, a psychotherapist. Every week, they talk about how to tackle the challenges we face in daily life with honesty, compassion and practical wisdom.

I've listened to every episode of season 1 and 2 and they're all great!
There's an excellent blend of advice giving and sharing of real life experiences. I might even have teared up a few times. Some of my favourite episodes so far are 'Transactional Analysis Therapy' (very helpful!) and 'Feelings.'

Shop news

I'm already working on something for Christmas (I know!!), which will be ready to share next month. Watch this space!

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© Judith Poitras-Raynault 2024
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