A series to be of winter landscape studies inspired by my local landscape.  All around 180 mm square and acrylic on stretched paper.

I like to do these at the end of the painting session when I feel the need for a bit of a play!




Back in the studio and starting this series of oil sketches on board from a Newmarket visit with the Society of Equestrian Artists a few years ago.  I am working as loosely as I can here to capture the essential shapes and colours.  Another 9 to go and hoping to submit a few for the Horse In Art exhibition.   I am planning to continue beyond these sketches towards real abstraction.  But first I want to look and try and get these studies into my bones.

#5 is an awkward photo and as yet I have not resolved it as a painting.  I am going to darken the area top right, something wrong, too much detail, wrong tone.  The red tree so important to the whole thing.  I did not realise this until I had stopped painting today.  I went back and altered it.


My 2020 calendar is now ready for sale in the shop or from me directly at events throughout the summer.

There are 12 beautiful drawings and paintings, one for each month, and you can choose from two different covers.

Diana Hand calendar 2020 Horse in Blue cover Diana Hand calendar 2020 Rosie cover Diana Hand calendar 2020 indexDiana Hand calendar 2020 March

Plum tree and wall oil painting Diana Hand

I am showing work at my own studio VENUE 35  from Monday June 10th to Sunday June 16th between 12 pm and 5 pm each afternoon.

I LOOK FORWARD TO SHOWING YOU MY NEW WORK!  This will include paintings and drawings from recent exhibitions in Edinburgh and Dunblane as well as current equestrian paintings and drawings.  Also a range of beautiful cards, mugs, prints and my new calendar for 2020.

Green oil painting by Diana HandPlum tree in light oil painting by Diana Hand


Dancing in the street Mixed media on canvas 800 x 1000Ghost drawing Charcoal on papeer 330 x 500 mm

Newmarket oil painting by Diana Hand Dawn Riders Charcoal and paint on board 400 x 300 by Diana HandRoaring Red Acrylic on board painting by Diana Hand

I am looking forward to this year’s Forth Valley Art Beat  

I am showing work at the Westmossside Art Collective (VENUE 35) based on my experiences of working in the Flanders Moss area every day.  This year I have been inspired by a visit I made on Christmas Eve, 2018, when the whole area was transformed by an intense frost.  I have done my best to convey this experience by a series of small oil sketches, each 150 x 150 mm.

I shall be showing paintings of a different kind in my own Studio (VENUE 37) on the south side of Flanders Moss.  Find out more here

Christmas Eve 1 oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders Moss Christmas Eve 3 oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders Moss Christmas Eve 4 oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders Moss Christmas Eve 5 oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders Moss Christmas Eve 6 oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders Moss Christmas Eve 7 oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders Moss Christmas Eve 4 oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders MossChristmas Eve oil sketch by Diana Hand Flanders Moss



Drawing Horses workshop with Diana Hand Charcoal drawing by student

I had a great day on Saturday with the group of dedicated and enthusiastic students at the Drawing Horses workshop.  We began by using charcoal very freely,  and everyone, including some people who had never felt comfortable with or even tried drawing, did some splendid work.  I then did a short demo explaining the principles behind my book “Draw Horses in 15 Minutes” and the rest of day was spent building on these two approaches.  I am looking forward to more classes next year.  Watch this website for further information over the winter.


Drawing Horses Workshop with Diana HandDrawing Horses Workshop with Diana HandDrawing Horses Workshop with Diana HandDrawing Horses Workshop with Diana HandDrawing Horses workshop with Diana Hand Charcoal drawing by studentDrawing Horses workshop with Diana HandDrawing Horses workshop with Diana Hand Charcoal drawing by student


Plum tree in light oil painting by Diana Hand

Green oil painting by Diana Hand



Whitespace Gallery,  76, East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 8HQ

22nd to 27th September, 2018      12pm to 5pm

Private view Friday, 21st September, 2018


Whitespace Gallery Diana Hand exhibition


Whitespace Gallery Diana Hand exhibition

Whitespace gallery Diana Hand exhibition







The Green Thought

This exhibition has been my project for the summer and I have been working on it since May.  I decided to be bold and make three large canvases, sized 1200 x 900 mm,  for the space in Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh.  The idea gradually came to me on train journeys, first on a trip to Newcastle to see the David Bomberg exhibition, and then on a day out to Dundee to see the Duncan of Jordanstone degree show.

Horse in the woods photograph

Ares in the woods Photograph

Detail charcoal abstract drawing Diana Hand

Detail charcoal drawing

Detail charcoal abstract drawing Diana Hand

Detail charcoal study









Where it started

I had spent the first few months of the year “dissecting” a complicated photograph sent to me by a customer.  The picture was of a spotted horse in a twiggy winter woodland.  I tackled this by gridding the photo into 64 squares and finding the miraculous unexpected abstractions within each thumbnail.  The train journeys gave me the chance to look at the 50 million shades of green that existed in the landscape, near and far, and which would transform my twiggy drawings in paintings.


Green 2 large oil painting forest Diana Hand

Dark trees Oil painting 1200 x 900 mm

Green 2 oil painting Diana Hand

From the train to Dundee Oil painting 1200 x 900

Plum tree in light oil painting by Diana Hand

The  Plum Tree Oil Painting 800 x 500 mm









How I did it

I selected three photos and gradually worked across each of them to create the three large paintings.  In each case, there were moments when I despaired and lost track of how the compositon was going to work.  I masked off all but the crucial areas so that I could observe more clearly and prevent my mind interfering and confusing me.  The result was that I achieved three coherent paintings.  I did the same in the smaller paintings of the plum tree leaves.

My plan was to build on the exhibition by adding larger versions of the charcoal thumbnail drawings, which are beautiful in themselves, but which, I found, did not translate to a larger scale of 800 x 800 mm without me taking a completely different approach.  It could be that I did not have time to create very detailed drawings on this scale, which are at least as challenging as making a painting, or it could be that after this intense period of rigour and scrutiny it is time to have a play.




“The horse that a master miniaturist has drawn tens of thousands of times eventually comes close to God’s vision of a horse, and the artist knows this through experience and deep in his soul.  The horse that his hand draws quickly from memory is rendered with talent, great effort, and insight, and it is a horse that approaches Allah’s horse.  However the ear that is drawn before the hand has accumulated any knowledge, before the artist has weighed and considered what it is doing … will always be a flaw”   p. 405  My Name is Red  by Orhan Pamuk


Freud portrait All Too Human Tate


Sickert All too human

Walter Richard Sickert La Hollandaise c. 1906

Stanley Spencer Patricia Preece 1933


This exhibition was a perspective on British figurative art over the past 100 years, the focus being on painters who worked with the human figure as their main subject. Featured artists included Sickert (1860-1942), Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), William Coldstream (1908-1987)and  David Bomberg (1890-1957) from the earlier part of the century,  to the post war generation (Francis Bacon (1909-1992), Lucian Freud (1922-2011), R. B.Kitaj (1932-2007), Frank Auerbach (b. 1931), Leon Kossoff (b. 1926), Paula Rego (b. 1935) and F. N. Souza (1924-2002).  Contemporary artists on show included  Cecily Brown (b. 1969), Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977) and Jenny Saville (b. 1970)



william coldstream

William Coldstream Portrait of Walter A Brandt 1962-3


uglow all too human

Euan Uglow Georgia 1973


This show was a revelation to me.  I attended the Ruskin School of Drawing in Oxford at a period when it was dominated by the Coldstream emphasis on precise linear drawing from observation.  Excellent training, no doubt, but contrary to my temperament, particularly at that time when art was my only means of expression.  I became distressed and frustrated at the lack of ability to express myself in this environment. Artists who shared such an experience at the Slade School, for example,  include Patrick Heron and David Bomberg himself.



David Bomberg Ronda Valley (detail) 1954

Leon Kossoff Self Portrait 11 1972

Dorothy Mead All Too Human Tate

Dorothy Mead Reclining Figure 1954

Frank Auerbach Looking Towards Mornington Crescent Station, Night 1972-3









This exhibition showed that the Coldstream approach was dominant in England, but by no means definitive. Taboos were broken by David Bomberg himself who focussed on the “spirit of the mass” and subjective experience.  Many artists such as Auerbach, Kossoff and Mead were indebted to Bomberg’s classes at Borough Polytechnic.





Freud plants All too Human Tate

Lucian Freud Two Plants 1977-80

Freud portrait All Too Human Tate

Lucian Freud David and Eli 2003-4









Lucian Freud worked from intense observation but eventually transcended the extreme objectivity of the Coldstream school in his sensuous handling of paint and unflinching scrutiny and humanity of his subjects.



Francis Bacon portrait All Too Human Tate

Francis Bacon Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne 1966

Francis Bacon All too Human Tate

Francis Bacon Triptych (detail) 1974-77









Another taboo was crossed and ignored by the self taught maestro, Francis Bacon, who distorted the figure in extreme ways and used photographic sources to express a deep sense of angst and pain at the human existence.  The Goan artist  Souza painted in a symbolic and non-representational way.



Paula Rego The Family 1988

Kitaj All Too Human Tate

R.B. Kitaj To Live in Peace (The Singers) 1973-4









In the modernist aesthetic of the Coldstream school, formal abstract qualities of line, shape and colour were considered most important.  “Illustration” and “narrative” was frowned upon as somehow inferior, yet Kitaj and Paula Rego painted human social dynamics and stories as their subject matter.



Cecily Brown All too Human Tate

Cecily Brown Teenage Wildlife 2003

Jenny Saville Reverse (detail) 2002-3

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Coterie of Questions 2015









Younger figurative painters included Cecily Brown, Jenny Saville and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye


It was not until very recently that I returned to working from the life model in my attempt to improve my painting and knowledge of anatomy.  I did this because I wanted to develop my equestrian art and there is little on offer in that department.  I found myself still working in the traditional way that I had been taught.  David Bomberg termed this ideology the “hand and eye disease”, and although some artists transcended it (Lucian Freud being a prime example), many became limited by it.

It was only because of my need to express deeper feeling and different ways of working that I have recently encountered teachers and artists who think in another way.  Alan McGowan, Martin Campos and Pauline Agnew come to mind. I was amazed that the early studies had remained so powerful in my life and that I had been unable until now to work in another way, in spite of an inner energy in myself that forced me to circumnavigate this ideology.  Only by working freely with colour on fabric (well outside the artistic canon) had I been able to work naturally.

The world has greatly changed especially over the past 50 years. In Britain we have a more liberal and prosperous life.  Homosexuality is legalised,  women are far more equal in expectation and reality.  The bitterness of gay artists such as Bacon is expressed as a scream of pain and frustration in his work, but the art world of the time was also full of misogyny which made it difficult for a woman to progress.  Fashions in art also come and go.  For years figurative art was neglected and unregarded, while abstraction and conceptualism became the way to work.  Even Lucian Freud was unable to sell his work for years, but he kept going in his metier.  There are signs that the human body and human experience is becoming acknowledged again as a form of art and figurative art.

This was a marvellous and complex show, and I appreciate the curators for bringing together such diverse approaches to making art.  Apologies for the artists I have omitted.  The Tate catalogue “All Too Human” is excellent, with full illustrations and several interesting articles about this period.


Woman in a tub pastel Degas
Preparations for the class pastel Degas

Preparations for the Class (detail) Degas (about 1877) pastel on paper

 Jockeys in the rain pastel Degas

Jockeys in the rain (detail) Degas (1883) Pastel on tracing paper

Degas and his use of pastels  National Gallery London

This was a fascinating exhibition of Degas drawings, which showed  how working methods change with fashion and with available materials. During the second half of the 19th century, new dyes became available which were used for paper and pigment.  These materials were quickly adopted by artists and altered the way they worked.  This exhibition focused on Degas and his use of pastels.



Degas always started his work with charcoal drawings, but although at first he was a master in the traditional use of pastel, with a single layer of chalk, carefully blended and left unfixed, plus a few highlights (“Preparations“), gradually he became much more experimental, building layers of pastel with fixative until the surface was firm and translucent. On this surface he could then draw more texture and detail, often with rough scribbly strokes, unlike the traditional blending, and with brilliant colour (“Jockeys“)

Dancers on a bench pastel Degas

Dancers on a bench (detail) Degas (about 1898) Pastel on tracing paper

Woman in a tub pastel Degas

Woman in a tub (detail) Degas (1896-1901) Pastel on paper

Eventually Degas began to draw with charcoal on tracing paper. The transparent paper allowed him to play with his drawings, to reverse them, take monoprints from them and to create multiple images, and to experiment with composition. It was a free starting point. He would then fix the charcoal drawings and have them mounted on a rougher textured board to create a stronger drawing base which also gave more tooth to the tracing paper. At the same time he often asked for the mounter to add more sheets of tracing paper to the original so that the whole drawing space was extended. On this he would work with pastels to create the whole layered surface, often covering the original charcoal completely. Final brilliant detail was added in relief by dipping the sticks of pastel into water to liquefy them and leaving the marks unfixed.


I was amazed and inspired by how unconventional and innovative Degas was, over 100 years ago, also so interested to learn just how his work looks how it does. These are (apparently) simple processes which I can and will try. I like the idea of creating multiple images and also experimenting with pastel in new ways. I later went to Tate Britain (“All too Human” exhibition) and discovered that pastel is the preferred medium of Paula Rego.  There is an excellent catalogue accompanying the Degas exhibition:  Drawn in Colour – published by the National Gallery.  Thanks to Catherine Froy for telling me about this show.