Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Peruvian Trumpets

Tomorrow I will be getting my whole house re-fitted with new double glazing as part of a wider strategy to combat outrageously high (and rising) energy prices. Next month I will also have my decrepit, totally inefficient, boiler replaced with a new Grade A fuel efficient combi-boiler, again to allay some of these costs (and make the house cosier). And so today I have a million-zillion things to do in preparation for the contractor's early start tomorrow morning. But I can't put myself anywhere and I certainly can't think about creating artwork. This is typical of me - The Eternal Procrastinator: I would rather do other more interesting things than what I am supposed to. So this afternoon I have been visiting some other friendly bloggers to see what they have been up to and as promised to Melinda I have posted this sketch of a Peruvian plant called 'Datura sanguinea' to compliment the sketch she has recently posted: TobaccoSphinxandDatura:
Pencil and watercolour on paper, 2xA4: "Blazing Trumpets"; Made direct from life while sitting sketching in our local country park conservatory with maw, paw, and a' the weans looking over my shoulder watching me! You will note that this plant is not a native of Scotland and therefore could'nae last ten minutes outside, even at the height of summer on a good day. 40degrees indeed!

Monday, 25 August 2008


The Shasta Daisies are long gone now - cut to the ground and consigned to the compost bin. The one thing I'll do differently next year is to give them some support as they grow so tall strong winds just blow them over. Not so these Crocosmia. They are much stiffer and spikey and can put up with the gale force winds we have had recently. As well as the torrential rain. These bright beauties can handle just about anything Mother Nature throws at them and they still stand there beaming. And the bees just love them too. A lovely warm and sunny afternoon brings me out into the garden again for another painting session starting with a sketch drawing to help me feel my way into the subject:

Neocolour II on paper, A4: "Crocosmia"; Without preliminaries I dive straight in with these water-soluable pastels dancing my way across the paper trying to capture the flowers orange and scarlet exhuberance with the long green spearlike leaves pointing towards them as though they might have been missed! With some touches of water to blend the colours a bit smoother I am finished with the sketch and looking to move on to a larger painting. I feel a surge of confidence and decide I will paint with acrylics to keep it clean and fresh:

Mixed Media on board, 46x61cm: "Crocosmia Clump"; After making initial marks to place the flower racemes with yellow, orange and scarlet Neocolour pastels on the primed hardboard I work in and around them with cerulean mixed with white very fluidly to try to make the image lively. Where the wet acrylics touches the Neocolours they blend and run into each other blurring the edges and running in a way that satisfies a sense of playfulness. So much so I start another one to see if I can do it again:

Mixed Media on plywood, 39x61cm: "Crocosmia Again"; Now I'm having fun! I recently bought some thin sheets of plywood (6mm) cut them to various sizes and primed them with gesso. They have been lying around the studio waiting for a moment like this. And I love the open texture of the plywood surface as the acrylic paint soaks right into it. Repeating the process as the first one I am enjoying the action as I stand in the warm sunshine painting 'en plein air'. In fact here's the garden set up:

You will notice how large the clump of Crocosmia is, and there are a few others like this in different parts of the garden. Next you will notice the great lump of concrete holding my easle in place. Strong gusts of wind were just about lifting it (and me) off the ground with the painting acting like a sail! The strong sunlight is bouncing off my two tin plate palettes which is a pity because they are works of art in their own right with all that brightly coloured acrylic paint. Finally you might just notice the glazed door to my studio top right. I put that door in especially so I could look out on cold winter days and dream of painting outside in the summer. And here I am doing it!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Crashing and Burning!

Oils on board: "Green Man Falling"; Strange - you get an image in your head and nothing will shift it until you exorcise it in paint.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Sfumato Peonies

I was reading this book about painting 'sfumato' and thought: "Hey, I must try that!"

Oils on plywood board, 61x40cm: "Sfumato Peonies"; Anything Italian interests me (wine, food, fashion and car design, politics, history [especially Rome], love, lifestyle, coffee, women) and this method of painting by brushing over the painted image with a dry brush to create this kind of "smokey" atmosphere seemed like a good idea at the time. Personally I feel that the original bold image I had painted was lost. Still it was an interesting exercise to do. I will probably re-work this painting to re-establish the stronger dynamics I prefer.