Monday, 4 April 2011

Old Ballet Shoes

Oil on Canvas - Framed

I am delighted to post that this painting has been SOLD. It was beautifully framed by Danielle Brewster, who frames my work. It looked fantastic.

Iris, I hope you are enjoying your new purchase.

Buffalo in the Light

Watercolour on Arches Watercolour Paper

I loved this project. It is the method of "Pouring" which I have done with a few art groups. You literally pour your three colour groups (which represent light values) onto your paper using egg cups or 3 small containers. No paint brush in sight! Yellow to start, followed by red and finishing with blue. It is unpredictable and fun. One has to allow for happy accidents and colour mixes appearing where you don't want them. Because I started my painting like this, I hardly needed to sweat with the painting layer at all. The buffalos features needed to be resolved, but his body only needed to be ever-so-slightly enhanced.


This picture came out of the travel section in one of the Sunday papers. I just loved the light and the dome in the background. One of the lessons in one of my watercolour classes was all about light so this was perfect.

We started by doing a light, simple drawing (I prefer not to) and then we did a series of light, atmospheric washes starting with Quinacridone Gold, followed by Permanent Rose and then finishing with Cobalt Blue. All three layers were very watery and the same strength. The Venetian scene almost disappears. It is when one starts applying the midtones over the top that the scene emerges. It was magical how it came to life. The 'Venice' type in the water was an excuse to paint typography and a challenge to blend it in to the water.

Apt Market

Watercolour and Gouache on Mountboard

This is another example of the loose style which I have described more fully in the post which follows.... I was inspired by Susan Brown - I received a Christmas card with one of her images on it and it was so super that I thought it would be fun to try her style in some of my classes. It is impossible to copy another artist's style (which is a good thing) but one can certainly be stimulated, and this is now the third painting I have done in a similar style. The scene is set in big bold strokes which often look rather clumsy but then the form and details emerge when one inserts shadow shapes and highlights (using tinted gouache). One should allow for distortion and exaggeration. 'Letting go' is harder than it looks but certainly helps if you want to paint like this.

Borough Market

Watercolour and Gouache on Mountboard

This is a style that I am so enjoying at the moment. I have tried to teach it in my classes and it has proved to be rather tricky. The reason for this is that it will challenge the artist to the hilt. One has to paint in a spontaneous and reactionary frame of mind and if you are not confident and if you need your image to be perfect, then you will battle with this approach. It is the ultimate in being loose - one should try to record enough vital information to set the scene or capture a mood. It is really exciting to paint like this and one's adrenalin levels are certainly tested to the full. Who said that art was relaxing?!

Snow Leopard

Pastels Pencils on Tinted Pastel Paper

Snow leopards are beautiful animals. One of my students showed me this picture and I had to use it for my pastel workshop. It was too lovely to pass up. We built him up in layers and finally started achieving those creamy layers and important areas of detail. Such a lovely day.

A Caterham School Supporter

Oil on Linen Canvas

I had so say a fond farewell to this figure in my second painting for the Caterham School Bicentennary. She was too much of a focal point in the painting. Because I enjoyed painting her so much, I decided to feature her in my blog before deleting her from my canvas. A great advert for Costa Coffee.

Male Lion

Acrylic and Pastel Pencil on Spectrum Colourfix Paper.

This painting was very rewarding indeed - my students loved doing it. The paper surface feels like fine sandpaper which allows the pastel to adhere to it. We started by doing a basic line drawing of the lion in pastel pencil, followed by an acrylic wash layer. This acrylic layer results in a strong mid tone image which cries out for highlights. This is the correct way to go about it as these important mid tones form the substance which supports the fresh pastel shades. A bit off putting if you have not done it before. The idea is to leave some of the background layers to 'poke' through which also prevents the pastels from getting too heavy. It is a tester for the artist but worth giving it a go.


Watercolour on Sanders Waterford Paper

This simple reference comes from my collection of photographs from Provence. During our last art holiday to this beautiful part of the world, we created artworks from views that were tucked away or more subtle on arrival in a new village. The above is an example of how one can create a strong image from a simple, familiar subject. I made sure that I had some space around the plant and, by painting without drawing, one could avoid hard, chocolate-box edges. The dark background creates that tonal contrast and allows one to tickle up flower and bud shapes.

Bull Elephant

Drawing, Tissue Paper and Watercolour on Arches Watercolour Paper

The elephant is one of the most versatile subjects to paint. This method results in an illustrative feel as the picture is predominantly done in pencil. The tissue paper is then applied for added texture and then watercolour is used sparingly to enhance the first couple of stages. This method is so tactile and one gets a chance to work with one's hands.

Emu Illustration

Drawing, Tissue Paper and Watercolour on Watercolour Paper

This combination of mediums always results in a subtle, wonderful illustration. One spends a fair amount of time drawing, focusing mainly on line rather than shading. This results in more paper show-through. Once the drawing is complete, then the layer of tissue paper (which has been scrunched and spread out) is stuck down with PVA glue. Once dry then a small amount of watercolour is applied. Be careful not to overwork this layer.

Adie's Van Gogh Chair

Oil on Canvas Board

I have decided to concentrate on the Impressionists this term and what fun we have had so far. We had an example of one of Van Gogh's chairs and then I gave each student a photograph of a chair taken in a pub with a fireplace and wall behind it. We studied the picture and had a good think about what directions the brushstrokes would take, the colours we were going to use and how we were going to represent the chair. Some artists applied their paint using palette knives, one artist achieved a pop art style, another artist made her chair look rather uncomfortable and so on. A great exercise which, despite looking stylised, was rather challenging re design and colour balance.

A Portrait

Oil Wipe-Out

We finished our oil project a week early this term so we spent the 5th session trying out the 'wipe-out' technique. It tends to produce interesting results. It is often used for drawing and the underpainting layer for oils. If combined with detailed painting as well, it can look quite incredible.

I used raw umber, cadmium red, terre verte and black to create this image. The paint needs to be thinned with thinners, but not dribbly, so one needs to find the right consistency. If it is too thick, then it is difficult to 'wipe out'. Once your colours are down, start wiping out your biggest, lightest shape and then build the picture from there. I wipe away and then add darker shadows en route. The picture's structure emerges more clearly and is certainly more helpful. One can use brushes, wet wipes, sponges, material, kitchen towel and/or cotton buds to 'wipe out'.

Eve's Little Puppy

Acrylic on Canvas Board

My Mother's friend Eve, sent us pictures of her adorable puppies. I decided to use these pictures for my acrylic workshop with pleasing results. Thank goodness I chose one puppy, instead of two, as they proved to be challenging subjects. Being a light coloured animal, it is easy to make the shades too light. One needs a healthy mid tone and a fair amount of colour to carry the top layers. I enjoyed this project immensely.

Old Namibian Woman

Oil on Canvas Board

Despite this dear woman's expression, she has been such a pleasure to study, both in pencil and in oils. My Friday group did the oil study and we all learnt a lot from it. The results were fabulous. We started by doing a wipe-out in raw umber to get a feel for the measurements and shapes of the face and then we took our time mixing 3 tonal groups of flesh colours. These formed the basis for our face. Whilst they were drying we went on to do the headscarf. We applied the paint using big strokes using thick paint to give the impression of folded fabric. It is even more important to have colours premixed (shades of white) in order to achieve the 3-dimensional feel of her head. The pattern on the fabric is so important as it also helps to create the shape.

We then put our background colours in which influence the flesh colours and allow one to then apply those discord colours onto the face (second layer). The purple clothing also helped to balance the background and face. It is very important to work on the whole painting even if areas are slightly unfinished.

Male Statue at the V&A

Acrylic and Pastel on Mountboard

The V&A in London has many treasures to choose from if you are an artist. This particular male bust offered so many juicy contrasts and edges that he was irresistable. He is made up of bold surfaces that catch the light or are in shade.

He is also a combination of acrylic and 'acrylic ground for pastels' and soft pastel sticks. I have described the method in more detail in the post which follows this one. It is a quick method and I was very pleased that it came together as it was a tricky choice for an art demonstration. Those carefully placed highlights and shadows brought him together once I had spent some time on the mid tones.


Pastels and Acrylic on Mountboard

The buildings in Petra are spectacular. The sheer size of these majestic fazades take your breath away. The light also benefits the painter or photographer and if you get there at the right time you can accumulate some stunning references. I chose this view of the Treasury for my demonstrate for the Spectrum Art Group this year.

You first prepare the surface of the mountboard with a mixture of acrylic paint and 'acrylic ground for pastels' which creates a sandpaper tooth on the board. Use a big DIY brush for the job. It is up to you what colours you use for the background - one can go for a dramatic affect. Whatever you do, don't smell the 'acrylic ground' - it will burn your nostrils!

Once your background has dried (not long), you create your picture using chalky or soft pastel sticks. This is when your highlights will bring your picture to life - an expressive and suggestive way to work.

Vibrant Irises

Acrylic on Canvas Board

I do love irises. The flower is like a wonderful ballgown from Strictly Come Dancing. I am never disappointed when I paint or draw irises - they seem to encourage one to paint with expression and gay abandon. Whether white or colourful, they will hold your attention throughout the creative process. I used a series of big round acrylic brushes to paint them and the colours evolved as I was painting. One does not always need to be so representational.

Young Girl in the Shadows

Charcoal, black pastel, white pastel and Sanquine on tinted paper

This photo reference of a young girl was passed on to me by one of my students who knows that I love dramatic portraits. I decided to try this combination with my Saturday group as they love their pastels. It is a wonderful exercise, as it teaches one to identify the three main tonal groups and to simplify tones into shapes. The result is far clearer than one could imagine.