Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Pepepochi brings out the adventurous side of me.

Watercolour on 300gsm 140lb (9x12in)
Those that read this blog will know that I've mentioned before that I am totally addicted to Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr.

In a previous post  (Done to Death)  I mentioned how I wish to improve my work and in this watercolour painting I have tried to bear in mind my words, i.e. loose washes, minimum layering, dropping in other colours while still wet, and to find a good balance between detail and impression.

I am fairly pleased with the work. Some of it's faults have been to the advantage of the finished work, like oversized eyes and watercolour not taking so well to parts of the paper where my hand has lain. A new technique I am trying is to add reflected colour as in the background here.

Isn't it lovely to have this medium at our disposal, to delve into and to explore it's capabilities. Watercolour is just so ..... amazing!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Jordan - a sticky wicket!

Jordan. Acrylic on 240g textured canvass paper
(7x10 inches)

This is Jordan, who has been a friend of mine on MySpace and Facebook a number of years now. Like many young girls of her age, she often posts photos of herself but this is the first one I ever saw of her without braces on her teeth. I guess they've gone now and she can really smile with the best of us.

Jordan kindly agreed to let me do this painting and post it. I thought I would try acrylic this time, but I really got myself on to a sticky wicket with this one. Regular readers will know that I have only done one painting so far in acrylics, so I am really on unfamiliar territory with the medium. While acrylics give you more time than watercolour, they are quick drying and boy do they stick to the palette too! Before I could get down to more detail, the whole thing (and the paints) started to dry out on me, everything including the brushes got really sticky, so I eventually gave up on it, hastily adding a bit of background colour.

While this is a little rough for my liking, Jordan seemed very impressed with it. To be honest, I really need some tutoring with this medium or a lot, lot more practice. Anyway, here it is 'warts 'n all', ready for all to pull apart!

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Slug and Lettuce, Leicester.

You know, life is so much more convenient these days. Back in the 60's and 70's, if we were out and about and saw something interesting that would make a good photograph, chances are that we would not have our camera with us. Even if we had, it would likely to be a large bulky affair, with which you would need to know how to adjust the settings for available light, focus and make sure you made allowances for the viewfinder being offset to the lens and of course have some film in it etc. So unless you were very lucky, you wouldn't get the shot.

Nowadays of course, you can walk around with a camera in your pocket and not even notice it was there. It can even be integrated with your mobile phone - something else that was uncontemplatable back then. What's more, these newfangled digital cameras will work out the exposure, set the focus, recognise faces and work out out so many things automatically and we come to take them as granted, unless of course you are one of us more seasoned of photographers!

Although I visit Leicester everyday in the course of my work, it is only very rarely that I actually walk around the place at my leisure. So when I did just that a few weeks ago, having a camera on my mobile came in very handy for taking a few pictures, which would come in useful as subjects for a piece of artwork at a later date.

This painting is one such piece of work. Originally, I planed to do just a quick sketch, but it turned out to be just a little bit more complex and detailed than I expected. I opted to use watercolour and pen on an A3 bristol board sheet as with the 'New Walk' painting. The colours are a little bit washy but this is only meant to be a sketch and I didn't want to overwork it. At the end I did need to use a little white gauche for the slug and lettuce motifs, as it would have taken too long to work around the letters with the paint, and anyway the paint would be drying out too quickly before the wash was complete. OK, I could have masked the letters out with masking fluid if I had been a purist, but I can never do a neat job with that stuff. In any case, it is much simpler just to add those tiny touches of gauche at the end.

I am happy with this work. It is a little bit blueish due to it being a photo of the finished work, but the original is a clean white. I don't think I would have done anything differently - if you think different, let me know.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Done to Death!

Time to reflect.

I am getting really blunt at telling people what I think about their work, whether it be on blogger, flickr or whatever in the comments section, but what would people rather hear? I would always rather people tell me my work is rubbish if they think so, providing they tell me why, than just say it's lovely sooner than run the risk of hurting my feelings. That doesn't help anyone. Some of the work I put up on the Internet I think is really quite poor, then when people come along and rave about it, it puzzles me so. Maybe I it's because I know what things are wrong with my own work and can't be bothered to fix it due to lost interest or inability, or simply the desire to just start something new.

Every day I spend a considerable amount of time looking at people's artwork on the Internet (what would we do without this marvelous invention?) studying their style and trying to gain more knowledge and different techniques. Trouble is, when you get to my age, it gets more difficult to learn new stuff, to retain it and even to stop losing it LOL! Do you know, I wrote a book a few years ago - it got published and amazingly I sold every copy, even though it is still listed on Amazon, but I have now forgotten much about what I wrote - really scary isn't it?

But to get back to artwork, well remember the art course I took earlier in the year? The class was full and I got to see how different people worked, what they were capable of and the work they produced. It soon became clear to me, who had real flare and who were, well really no-hopers. I know that's awful to say, but if you can't even draw easily, then you have no hope at painting or being an artist. To a certain extent, I believe that artists are born and not 'created' for want of a better word. Some of the 'students' (I still am of the old school where we would call them 'pupils' but we have to move with the times) were capable of some excellent work, but ruined much of what they did by either overworking a painting or fiddling with it till it was done to death! I can still hear our tutor shouting across the room "Fred(made up), put that brush down right now or you will overwork that painting!" I hadn't the heart to say what I thought, and that was that it was ruined two sessions ago!

I know it's tempting to just add that 'little bit more' to a painting, but with watercolour especially (and I do this times as well), overworking is adding too many layers and colours till it gets too dark and muddy, and fiddling is adding that little bit more detail to, or trying to correct or enhance the work. Sometimes a little bit of each of these so called 'faults' actually does improve the finished work, but of course the difficulty is knowing where and when to stop.

Here are my key aims, goals whatever in creating my paintings.

1. When sketching, keep the pencil moving back and forth until it finds the right line in my mind working away from a prominent point, subconsciously measuring distance.
2. Aim to add washes as loosely and transparently as possible adding in other colours while wet for shading and variety and texture.
3. Add the minimum of layers possible to show form.
4. Try to find the balance between detail and impression.
5. Not to try to make my work look too much like a photograph - always to remember it's a painting.
6. There must be more, but you add what you like here.

So, on reflection, I think on the whole that my work is improving, well know it's improving and evolving, much like most of you who read my blog with your own work I suspect. Don't get upset if I've criticised your work - just tell me to b****r off - I'm far from being an expert.

Lastly, thank you all for following me and for all your comments. It's such a buzz to read them and that someone with similar interests actually takes the time to comment on my work.

Friday, 6 August 2010

My first Acrylic

Barry - my 1st acrylic. Painted on WHSmith textured canvas paper
Watercolour is dead, long live acrylic!

Well, I never thought I would say that. Of course this isn't really true, it's just that this first, well actually second attempt at acrylics has got me really excited. I bought a boxed set of acrylics a couple of years back, which contained everything one would need to do some painting, paints, brushes, spatula, palette and even an apron to keep yourself clean! My first attempt was a complete disaster, I swear a three year old could have done better, and I ended up chucking it in the bin and shelved the paintbox.

Today, I came across the paint box and thought "Alright, just one more go to see if I could do a half decent painting, or put the damn thing in the next car boot sale." The picture of Barry (artbbwf) is the result, and it may not be perfect, but I'm fairly pleased with it. Maybe I should stick at this a bit longer?

The source photo for this work is here if want to see it:

Below is my work area with the painting just finished. Oh, and no, I won't be putting the paint set in the car boot sale!
My workspace. Am I the only one who works in a mess?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

New Walk Sketch

image: Watercolour, pigment liner pen and pencil on 220gsm Bristol Board.

Earlier in the year I took the bus over to Leicester to see an art exhibition which was held in the museum in New Walk. New Walk is a tree lined pedestrian street streching almost a mile (I would say) from Victoria Park sloping gently down to the city centre. Along its route are numerous cafe's and pubs etc., most in the continental style with chairs and tables outside, often under parasols. It really is a beautiful part of of Leicester, and at the bottom end is not far from the train station.

While walking down, I couldn't resist taking a few photos, with a view to painting at a later date. The steady stream of people going up and down about their business is such a wonderful atmosphere to take in and be a part of.

Here I've tried to recreate that atmosphere with a loosely drawn and painted sketch in the pen and wash style that I like doing. It's not a masterpiece I know, but the enjoyment of creating something like this certainly gives one a sense of achievement. This could be the subject of a much more detailed watercolour work, but for now, I'm happy just to see it as it is - simple and not too fussy.