Monday, 31 March 2008
In this restless state of mind I found that too much of the day was already gone and I couldn't think of starting any large project, so taking my lead from those artists who advocate painting for one hour and working to a very small scale I quickly set up this simple still life with some oranges and my favourite little yellow pot. Moving the objects around a bit looking for a kind of abstract relationship, and using a small viewfinder aperture, I settled on this view and got to work starting with this colour study:
Neocolour pastels on paper, A5: Many studies were not required since I had already chosen the view with the viewfinder, and the colour choices were to be as I saw them directly, so it was straight into the oil painting (top). Since the colour scheme was very limited it didn't take long to squeeze out the colours I wanted and mix them according to what I could see before me: French Ultramarine with a touch of Alizarin and Tit.White; lemon yellow with white; lemon yellow to various degrees with alizarin for a range of oranges, and with blue for some cooler greens. I continue to work with this limited palette which satisfies my need for simplicity and consistency. By the time I have done all this preparatory work on the palette the painting almost paints itself. With as many single strokes as possible I completed the final painting in jig time!
At least I managed something from today.
Friday, 28 March 2008
Felt pens and watercolour on paper, A4: The various development stages are shown below each in turn leading to this loose watercolour image. What started out as broad sweeps of the pastels ended with this more definitive and less stylised depiction of the lady herself dancing a "Red-hot Salsa" in the sky, with her male counterpart following her lead. He is shown green as the complementary to the female red and he is also rooted in the earth as shown by the flowers around Dakini's feet. It is a night sky with silver stars and a blood-red crescent moon with a multi-coloured "aurora borealis" playing around her legs. The male figure has shifted to this left side position from the previous studies in order to achieve greater interaction with his object of adoration. Some of the development studies are shown below:
Pastel on paper, A2: Development Study 3: I've added her black, unruly, hair, and a crescent moon to indicate the night sky, and the beginnings of an adoring male figure (bottom right) in green.
Pastel on paper, A2: Development Study 4: I have taken the stylisation to a point where I am not sure whether I want the painting to be like this. I have added multi-colours to indicate the Aurora Borealis and I've made the moon blood-red for further dramatic effect. I like it but somehow it's becoming something I am not so sure of. So using the symbolic elements I have already developed I return to more representational figures as seen in the first painting in watercolours.
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Oils on primed cardboard, 20x15cm: Still working small and laying the paint on as far as possible with single strokes of the brush, and also the palette knife, having simplified the image almost to abstraction.
Below is the intial sketch drawing, and below that a series of colour studies some of which I think are better than the final painting so I think there is a lot more mileage in this subject to get to the final, final statement.
Neocolour on paper, A5: Colour Study 1. I should mention here that the bird table and trees have been omitted and replaced by my memory of a cane construction I set up to support my peas. It was the bright orange lines I wanted to give that dash of bright colour and provide some good verticals and a horizontal.
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
Two minutes to set up on my favourite blue coloured textile and I was off - painting like a demon
in this tiny world of make-believe. The big question is: will the big fishie ever catch and eat the little fishie? Perhaps if I paint them again I'll show the little fishie with a chunk out his tail!!!!
Monday, 24 March 2008
Pen and watercolour on paper, A4: 'Escarpment'. Drawn on location sitting in the sun (to begin with!) as it spilled through a gap in the trees, and looking up to my left. I was using this new Stylo liquid fountain pen which I thought made a great drawn line but unfortunately isn't permanent. I enjoy this activity very much - all on my lonesome, far from the madding crown, communing with nature. It could, however, have been a lot warmer especially after the sun moved round behind some trees and plunged me into sub-artic fast-freeze mode!
Oils on board, 40x30cm: Having worked out what colours I would need and spent some time mixing these on the palette this little painting was made with as many single, and final, strokes as I could with no messing around if possible. This was completed within the target one hour and while I am pleased enough with the outcome, and ecstatic that I got painting again, I think it could be a lot better. I have in my mind's eye where I can and want to take this, but that will need to be another day. In the meantime.....
Oils on cardboard, 15x20cm: "My Little Yellow Pot". In order to paint properly direct from life I set up this little still-life in the studio using a favourite blue piece of material and my little yellow pot with some carnations recently consigned to the compost bin but resurrected (appropriately enough on Easter Monday) for one last hurrah! I think this is possibly the very first time I have painted to this small size and I am glad I tried it because it was such a simple and pure pleasure. It's not that it was easy or anything as it required as much concentration as anything else I have done, but it always felt manageable and also only took me 1 hour.
So that's it for today - any observations welcome.
Sunday, 23 March 2008
These musings got me on a quest this morning trawling through internet art supply sites to see if I could find anything of interest at a good price, ie: cheaper than KB's. And lo, I did. A site called The Art Store.com which is based in Iowa, USofA, offers a good looking pochade box http://www.pochade.com/Product.asp?record=1498 and lightweight at only 2Kg. It's small and it requires a tripod to support it but it looks just the thing. Now, and where all this is leading, I decided I want to find out more about this box so I Google the name - Guerrilla Painter Pochade Travel Box - and stumble upon another artist blogging about this very subject and in particular about this very box. What a co-incidence! Must be meant, I wonder? Her name is Jennifer Young and can be found here: http://www.jenniferyoung.com/blog . I'll let Jennifer speak for herself. Enough for me to add that I am indebted to her for her coverage of this topic and that I learned a lot. Thanks Jennifer!
All of this got me thinking about my own efforts to make a lightweight easel for working outdoors. I bought an artbook many years ago by the artist Ted Goerschner called: "Oil Painting, The Workshop Experience" [see TG here: http://www.judithhalegallery.com/featured_artists/artist_goerschner.html ]. Ted's plein air set-up uses what he calls a "Russian Easle" which looks like a back to front French Easel with the addition of an "Easel Pal" - a fold-out box that sits on front and supported by the easel box which supports his palette so he doesn't need to hold it, thereby keeping his hands free, and places to lay brushes and paint tubes. Unable to find either of these items, even on the wondrous internet, I decided to make my own. Here's what I came up with:
My Outdoor Easel and DIY Easel Pal - Front View: The easel is about the cheapest I have every bought, and more importantly the lightest. It is made of something like Obechi wood which feels and looks something like balsa (ha!) but is in fact quite sturdy. I have modified it to get the painting support bars at a higher level, and also added a longer bottom cross-piece because the ones that come with all of these easel types are far too narrow and paintings occassionally fall off. Ok if you want grass and soil embedded in the paint surface but not generally acceptable!
What you see under the easel set-up is one of these rucksac/stools which I lay my finished painting box holder (takes about four paintings each 30x25cm) which also acts as a solid surface for paints.
My DIY Easel Pal: This is a simple hinged narrow box affair which folds in on itself. The central area is, obviously the palette with a piece of hardboard with two circles cut in it to hold the turps and white spirit steady, and brushes to one side and anything else on the other. Brilliant, but- the big problem is how to keep the Easel Pal in one place and steady. It is hooked on to the two sliding lower lugs that come with these easels at the back but it also needs supporting at the front. What you can only see here partially is a length of broomstick dowelled onto a crossbar to form a 't' shape which runs right across the front of this damned contraption. It kind of works but I am even exhausted here talking about it! All together it is much lighter than just about anything else I have contemplated but it is still a burden when carrying it any distance and major construction works when you get there when what you want to do is paint! Needless to say I haven't used it very much recently.
And that brings me full circle back to the Guerrilla Pochade Box-on-a-Camera Tripod ( I even love it's name as painting outdoors can sometimes be just like guerrilla warfare - especially the way I do it!!!!
Heres a wee picture of it just to remind ourselves of the future in a box:
Saturday, 15 March 2008
Watercolour and pencil on paper, 2xA4: Made a few years ago the drawing spills across two pages but it has a liveliness I like and get inspired by, but will it fit the square format I think would suit this subject.
Oil on Canvas, 60x60cm: Choosing a pre-prepared stretched canvas with a darkish blue/green undercoat that I think is eminently suitable for this subject I start with drawing out the principle shapes in a variety of coloured oil pastels. Next I spend a bit of time mixing quantities of the colours I intend to use - tit.white with touches of blue, mauve, yellow and green; ult.blue with alizarin and a touch of white, same again with some green added; and various greens themselves ranging from lemon yellowish to dark blue-ish. The palette at this juncture is looking great and I think about stopping here, taking a picture of it, and posting it as the finished work! But no, I must press on.
With the mighty palette knife I start blocking in - the white flowers first, then the Iris, then the background. Working, working, working. Scraping off, laying on, Scraping off, laying on. Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don't forget to breathe, very important. [walks away, still making circular motions with hands]. Sorry, I got carried away. For a moment there I was the Karate Kid listening to Mr Miyagi's instructions. [Back to the plot] I've now lost the thread. Is there anything more to be said? The final painting is there for all to see. I'm pleased with it.
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Saturday, 1 March 2008
The drummer was fantastic to watch and listen to with his amazing rhythmic beats and a regular smile showing just how much he was enjoying himself. He wore what at first looked like a huge rock hanging round his neck which turned out to be some sort of whistle which he used naturally enough in a Samba tune.
The girl on the guitar was incredible! What dexterity and rhythm. I was mesmerised by the sound, which was just as well because I could hardly see her for a sea of heads in front of me!
Lastly, but not least, The guy I took to be Mandolin 1 and leader of the group - Dave. Again I couldn't see him properly. This sketch was made from glimpses seen through the person in fronts ears every time they turned to the side! Like the others in the group a fantastic musician playing the most wonderful stuff. His solo (with guitar accompanyment) was "Misty". Absolutely beautiful. No wonder the crowd were in raptures. This was fantastic stuff!
Sometime in the future, like most of my sketches, I will try to construct them into some sort of painting. Don't hold your breath though it may take me years to be ready for it!