Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas bouquet inspiration

I received a lovely bouquet from my son and his young lady on Christmas Eve, its lasted really well so I thought it an ideal subject for a much needed painting fix.  I took out the gold sprayed leaves and red and cream roses to concentrate on the symphony of white lilies but still felt it justified quite a big support. This turned out to be a challenge to do in the time.  Flowers move only marginally less than human models and the blooms seemed to be opening before my eyes so this was done fairly quickly.  A photo of my setup and start, I knew it would be dark by the time I finished so I started with the lights on.

 Oil on 18" x 14" deep canvas

Paints used
Michael Harding (MH) Permanent Sap Green - love this for foliage
MH Bright Green Lake - does what it says on the tin, its bright
MH Titanium White
MH Flake White - not really needed
MH Bright Yellow Lake - a cool zingy yellow
Winsor and Newton Cad Yellow
Vasari Rousseau Green Extra Pale
Vasari Ultramarine Violet - not too strong so good for shadows and neutralising
Old Holland (OH) Red Gold Lake - excellent stamen colour right out of the tube
OH Green Earth - used for intitial drawing, not too strong
OH Neutral Tint - I find neutrals  useful when I dont have a classic red, yellow, blue palette

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Last life of 2012

I did a lot of work from life in 2012 and think I made progress in some areas, certainly I am a quicker painter now but it took until one of the last sessions of the year to have something different happen and maybe become a turning point. All these are on 12" x 16" supports and I am most pleased with the small very quick poses on the same page.  These range from 15 to 40 minutes each if I remember correctly and I was deliberately going for more subtely with my colours and a higher key.  I used earth colurs along with ultramarine blue and I do think they lend themselves well to skintone. 

This was the longer pose about 1.5 hours (done before the quickies) and was much less successful, really I am not sure what that says about my approach!!!

This was an evening pose in a warm glowing light from a heater light, it has some issues but I liked the dramatic lighting.

These two were unfinished as the concensus was to change the pose after the break, about 40 minutes each.  I took some snaps of my set up and as I am the only painter in this session I try and keep everything neat and contained in my painting box, set up and clean up time is very short but after a year of working this way I have it off to a fine art now.  I use water miscible oils in these situations for practical reasons and out of consideration to my fellow artists - they work just fine.  The Arches oil paper I have been using also works just fine but its much harder to cover in the time than a more slippery surface.  I'll post more information on my materials and equipment next year but largely I think that its about getting used to what you are using rather than there being some ultimate selection of tools.  We all have preferences of course and some things suit better than others but its the artists brain that is the ultimate tool in my opinion and I will be forever working on getting mine to function as well as it can.....

So thats it for 2012 - onwards and upwards in 2013 and I am using the Christmas break to formulate my goals for next year and to think about and review the last 12 months.  Thinking is a major part of an artists job after all.  HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Italy Workshops 2013

The highlight of my artistic year was the workshop I attended in Umbria in Italy (see here for the start of my blog a day entries) - two weeks of study, painting, food, culture great companionship and awesome exploration of the local area under the superb guideship of Jason Bowen.  Well he is doing it again next year with two artists, John Poon and Huihan Liu and I definately would love to go.

For further information including pricing, registration and deadlines email

Friday, 30 November 2012

water and oil do mix

Some life work from the last few weeks.  I inherited some Derwent watercolour pencils and a water brush and along with a set of Inktense I already had I thought I would have a go at the unpredictable and scary media. I quickly realised that 'colouring in' wasnt the way, its actually more like drawing than painting and less is more, so in that respect its quite useful for the warm ups.  Most of these are about 5 mins,  4ish loosely sketching and then a minute with the water pen releasing the pigment and ink and pushing it around a bit.  As you can see I am still working out colourways, a warm and a cool seems about right for the time and I think I prefer the more earthy colours.  I do flit about with my media, not sure if thats a good or a bad thing but I cant seem to help myself.


Still trying to speed paint in oils, I sometimes think I am mad trying to accurately capture a figure in an hour, it feels so frantic but it must be good practice.  Some are more finished than others but there is little time to think, plan, mix and correct never mind about making artistic decisions etc.  So if I have got the gesture and the proportions I am happy - so what if they just go into a great pile never to be seen again.  Colours are often hit and miss, sometimes palette leftovers, somtimes mixed without knowing exactly what colours I am using.  Painting in the evening in a low light often brings a colourful suprise the next morning in daylight but if the values are ok though thats fine with me - maybe I should check a few in black and white.  I'm hankering after doing a longer painting soon though and just have to decide what I want to do, thinking and planning is a luxury I havent had just lately.  I am going to commission myself to paint something for our newly decorated living room.  A master study perhaps, something from life, maybe something more abstract, the world is my oyster.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sandy and Brandywine

I haven't posted for a while but am still keeping up with the life sessions although not managing any other painting or artwork right now.  I've been to the US of A for a family wedding since my last post and just about managed to leave before Sandy arrived - my heart goes out to all those still affected by the disaster, its not in the media so much now  but I know many, many people are still suffering.   On our way back to Philadelphia airport we visited the famous Brandywine Museum home of the Wyeths.  I really enjoyed seeing the paintings of the three generations of Wyeth Artists and think Andrew was my favourite but there was inspiration to be had from much on display.  I was amazed to realise that many of Andrews works were tempera and watercolour, really beautifully and carefully painted and quite suprising.  Also there were some impressive pieces done with a drybrush technique which I dont fully understand yet. The museum building itself was impressive and the whole area is incredibly beautiful particularly in its autumn colours (Sandy probably ruined the effect a short while later).   A very special place, I would like to go back one day.

We also visited the Hagley Museum which is where the Dupont company started in the US by making gunpowder for the civil war - its also on the Brandywine Creek being geographically ideal for the purpose but its also stunningly beautiful with many varied and interesting vistas.  Sadly all I could manage was a few snaps and not even on my DSLR so they dont really do it justice but I'll share a few and you'll get the idea.   Twas a plein air painters dream!

Brandywine Museum area

 Hagley Museum area

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Still plugging away....

Some bits and pieces from the last few weeks life sessions, simplification still seems to be eluding me and maybe its time to do another master study.  Jackson Pollack, perhaps!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Painting practice

Getting to know some of my paints a bit better having upgraded to some very nice premium tubes.  So putting them through their paces, and getting up the brush mileage on some quick studies. 

10 x 12" Oil on deep canvas

10" x 12" oil on deep canvas from life

5" x 7" Oil on board from life - yes my bear is alive and posed for me!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Time for a new approach

The bottom two are from the previous couple of weeks but I am in a rut.  They are OK but I am shaking things up, looking for something more abstract and interesting.  Unfortunately I chose to change my approach at the same time as changing my support and this weeks figure is painted on the new Arches Oil paper and is the first time I have used it.  Its lovely to paint on but completely different to the slick smooth supports I usually use.  Its much more absorbent and you really need plenty of paint, it took me a while to get into my stride if I ever did.  I usually sketch in an underpainting in burnt sienna or similar, placing the figure accurately as possible from the start. I approached this more directly,  roughed in the the big shapes, the big colours and values and then carved and refined as I went before finally attacking it with a palette knife.  All the while I'm trying to think cool and warm, light and shadow, and shapes not detail.  This will take a lot more practice and mental adjustment, more dramatic poses and lighting would help but I'll see how I go for a while.  I'm looking to keep my colours cleaner and brighter for these quick oil sketches and not necessarily realistic.  I just noticed how similar all these poses are, I think I need to stand somewhere different next week!