Monday, 19 March 2018

A good idea at the time

What a lovely shop I found myself in, full of very unusual gift ideas and arty books, as well as a cafe. Surrounded by unique items, I spotted a delightful blue elephant lamp, glowing on a display. It was not alone, there was a fish, a parrot, a turtle, but the baby elephant was my favourite. 
With a 'new arrival' due soon, this looked like an ideal gift.
Surprisingly, these lovely lamps were all in rather small boxes,  but ideal to carry home!
I really can't expect new Parents to assemble their gift, and it will be such a fun project.

Yes, I bought the 'paper lamp kit' 26 cms tall, after all, how hard could it be?

The box has been sitting in my kitchen now for a couple of weeks, I did take a little peek inside and fairly quickly closed the lid again, but with the snow outside, it seemed like a lovely Sunday afternoon activity.

The afternoon just flew by and before I knew it, after copious cups of tea, the light began to fade. 

All the pieces are now scored and folded, I just need to glue all the bits together... in the right order.

Good job this is classed as an 'easy' one! Skill level 1 out of 5 (perhaps 1 is most difficult, oops!)

This lamp will be worth a small fortune in man hours!

I shall let you know when my project is finished... let's hope the new arrival doesn't arrive too soon!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Part Two

Once the basics are all in place, I then begin to work from the back of the painting towards the front.
I add my warmer colours, in this case Raw Sienna, which once added to the Shadow colour results in a lovely deep warm shade, adding more and it becomes a muddy green brown colour, fab for the distant foliage and to suggest clutter and objects.
There is a tendency to look for those little details, shrubs, bushes and distant objects, however, I have learnt over the years to try and avoid thinking about these things, and just simply paint what I can see.
Of course, if I am using a photo, and I bring it right up to my face and peer at it, I will be able to see lots, if using an iPad I can zoom in on a section... oh dear, I do it too! However, this usually just detracts me from what is important in the painting, so if I use a photo, I pin it to the top of my easel or better still the post in my studio. If I use the iPad I stand it up and paint as if I was outside, after all, if I'm painting outside, I can't zoom in, I can only screw up my eyes to try and get a better idea of what it is I'm seeing.
So my rule of thumb is, if I can't make it out, I don't make it up. If I can see a dark shape, I paint a dark shape, I don't make that dark shape into a neat object.

Where was I? Oh yes, background first, trees, distant fields and sky, then the sheds. (always the fun bit) once the sheds are established, I add posts and anything around the sheds and behind them.
Now all that's left, is the foreground. Well I say the foreground, but that can be almost 2/3 of the painting, so I work on the most distant of that, which in this case is the triangular shape to the right of the painting, blocking in the basic sections of colour, then the posts need to be re-established, because they can all but disappear sometimes. 
The sumptuous snow fall in the foreground goes in next and finally, the little touches of snow on the posts, roofs, sunlight on the side of the shed and of course the grasses.
then I prop it up, walk away and come back to it an hour or so later, sometimes the following morning. 
I like this one. I love the snow that has slipped on the roof of the greenhouse, and I like the square patches of ground that so clearly say 'allotments'.  

I hope this makes you want to get out a canvas and have a go.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Painting with a group

A couple of weeks ago I went along to a painting group in a nearby village with a friend of mine who has been going there for years. Fiona, she said, why not come and paint with us all? It's a group of painters who meet weekly, have a natter, paint in any medium they choose and enjoy the company of like minded people. I thought she would probably be right and it might be nice to meet like minded people, and paint in company. There is no tuition, it's just a painting group, so that is perfect as I don't feel like I'm stepping on anyone's toes.

I went along with my 10 x 12 inch blank canvas, easel and art bag, met everyone, wandered around and had a look at what everyone was doing, had a 'cuppa' and listened to everyone chatting away.
During the morning I blocked in all the basics for my next painting.  
This is the stage I got to, when the hall began to feel a bit cold and the lights went out!  Yes the meter had run out and that signalled our time to go return home. It was a very chilly day, but not half as cold as it would have been if we had been painting outside!

The colours I used so far are Shadow, Bluebell and a touch of White.

Already I can see how the painting is building up. I love it when a painting gets to this stage, I know its going the way I want it to and I then can't wait to move it along.

I think some people get a bit nervous is at this stage of their painting, when nothing looks finished. Some people love to have a small section complete, perhaps the shed or greenhouse, however I would say don't do it! Avoid completing any section too soon, just allow the painting to slowly come into ficus, otherwise you just keep on being dragged towards the finished bit to keep on tinkering with it, at the expense of the overall painting.

The finished painting turned out rather well and I will share my process with you tomorrow.

Monday, 22 January 2018

A big step

What a rainy wet weekend we had, the light was so flat, however I used what daylight I could to begin painting again. After setting everything up, and getting everything out I was tempted to complete a half finished painting which I had begun last April, but thought that perhaps a fresh start would be better, so I chose a photo from my iPad which I had taken in the New Year after a fall of snow.
I decided to limit myself to just 5 colours. Shadow, Bluebell, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and White.
I began by blocking in the dark areas using a dilute mix of Shadow and Bluebell.
I spent the first half hour or so finding my feet a bit, and I must admit to dithering! I couldn't quite decide on the depth of colour and should, in hindsight have just used one colour and scrabbled it on quickly rather than faff about too much. Anyway this was the start. 

It began to get quite dark so I decided to leave it till the next day and begin another one in artificial light. My overhead lights are pretty good, so I prepared a couple of canvas boards by coating them with two layers of Pale Raw Umber as my mid tone base.

Then I became much bolder applying the paint with more confidence and this was my second painting. Same two colours but applied quite differently. I don't chose to paint in artificial light  as I always find it affects the colours too much, but I was just keen to get going while I felt like painting and I really enjoyed getting stuck in to it again.

When I looked at this the next morning it did seem rather bold, so I decided to work only in daylight and only paint in artificial light to prepare my boards. I'm used to painting demos indoors of course, but a demo is very different from painting an actual painting, in the sense that a demo is designed to teach techniques, rather than merely to complete a painting in front of an audience.

This was the first painting once I had worked on it the following day. Its 10 x 12 inches.

Below is my second painting in late afternoon light.
Maggie my little schnauzer is curled up on her bed, she is always with me. Occasionally she will push her little nose against me if she wants something, or brings me a squeaky toy if I have been painting for too long!

Terry and I had different studios and we would always comment on each others work. I missed him standing next to me with his coffee in hand, looking intently at my painting before offering advice, a little bit of dark here, or some light there. That voice by my side when he popped in and out throughout the day. I feel so blessed to have had him in my life for the time we were together. 
So these are my first two paintings. 
Thank you for your emails and comments which have encouraged me so much. Now that I have made a start I am sure to continue. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

First steps to painting again

It was April last year that I last painted. Never has so much time passed by, without me picking up my paint brushes, but for the first time since then, I now have an urge to paint again. I have been thinking about it for a couple of days, but today was different, I felt a real determination rather than just a thought.
When we had the heavy snow fall a few weeks back I went out and took some photos, this was my first step to thinking about painting subjects again.

This morning I took out my paints (which have been packed away in a cupboard) I even have a prepared board (so no excuse to delay)

There were two stay-wet palettes and this was the first one I opened! The smell was so overpowering as I lifted the lid that I ran outside, threw away the paper palette and the box and sponge are now soaking in bleach!

So I now intend to set up my easel and see what happens.

Hopefully I will have something to share with you, and it would be so encouraging to know you are interested in what I paint!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Inspired by the SKY Portrait Artist TV show

I love the start of the programme, when everyone is nervous and preparing, there is the ritual of squeezing out the paints, looking at the competition through the corner of eyes and trying to calm the nerves, then, the sitters are introduced, positioned and we are off! 

Basically, each week there are 9 artists split into three groups each having a celebrity sitter who they have to paint. The three celebrities can be anyone from authors to sports personalities or actors, some I wouldn't recognise and some I haven't even heard of, but all are a challenge for the artists.
Out of the 9 portraits, three go into the final group of which that weeks winner is chosen.  Eventually at the end of the series, the weekly finalists then compete for the prize of 'SKY portrait artist of the year'
As with any competition it's all purely subjective, but each week we love to bet on who the three will be and who will win that weeks selection. 
As both of us are artists it's great entertainment and we look forward to it like two big kids each week!
I enjoy the different styles and approaches, some participants use an iPad and seem to look at that for the rest of the sitting whilst others just look at the sitter. I have to admit that I am always most impressed by those who paint direct without relying on a photo, and of course a portrait has to resemble the sitter otherwise it's just a painting of a person. 

I must have bored those of you who have never seen the programme and you have probably switched off by now, but I wanted to share with you what inspired me to paint my latest painting.
It's a good challenge to try new things, perhaps paint in a different scale or use a different media, shake things up a bit, which is what I did.

I decided to use a little wooden panel I have had lurking for a couple of years in the studio, it's only 5 x 5 inches. I applied the double gesso layers, then a layer of pale raw umber, just to get rid of the white, once dry, I was ready to paint, and this is the result.

I'm quite happy with it and it was a fun project. 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Being creative on these short Winter Days

This time of year can be difficult with low light and short days, however, its nice to realise that I am not closing the curtains at 4pm now but 5pm! Hooray! 

Since having my super duper new studio built last Summer with its lovely day-light lights, the lighting is now fantastic which extends my day, and on these grey days I supplement the daylight with artificial. It still means photographing art work is a bit dodgy, but its great for painting indoors.

If you have similar problems, day-light bulbs can be really useful however, a good tip for you is to put the light on during the day, don't switch it on as it begins to get dark in the afternoon, because the lighting is different and by working with it all day you won't be tempted to alter any of your colours once you switch the light on! Its a simple tip, but I learnt a valuable lesson a number of years ago, working into the evening on a painting which I was so enjoying but when I came to view it in the morning I was SO disappointed, it looked so much duller than I had expected.
A bit like looking at a view with Polaroid sunglasses on, all that fabulous aqua blue which seems to vanish if you lift your glasses off!

I have been working on a series of loose watercolour paintings, well, when I say loose, I mean, I let the watercolour do its own thing and encourage it to flow by tilting the paper, flicking in colours, and dropping in stuff. I still like to know where I am going with things and what I'm hoping to achieve. These techniques I will be offering in workshops later in the year.

If you are curious and want to have a look at some more, I have just added eight new watercolours flower paintings to my website gallery

Winter is a good time to set yourself tasks, so why not challenge yourself and paint a series of paintings. Its all too easy to let these days slip by so try the following-

  • Choose a subject to work from and select either one photo or alternatively buy one type of flower to concentrate on.
  • Begin by selecting just one flower, using a soluble coloured watercolour pencil (something like pale green or ochre) lightly position the flower shape onto your paper. This will dissolve if you keep it pale enough. Consider where you want the flower and how much space you want to leave around it.
  • Think about the colours you want to use and make a few colour mixes to check they work well together. Choose a limited number of colours - a maximum of 5
  • Think about the brushes you will use and the techniques you will try.
  • Your first painting should be totally experimental. Expect to discard it, and learn from it, avoid thinking it may be a winner, then go for it and have some fun.
  • Be prepared to paint that same subject at least 3 times and try something different each time.

Let me know how you get on!