Thursday, 20 December 2012

A New Venture

Speckled Hen. Acrylic 20 x 20cms on stretched canvas
box frame £30
While looking through my photos for some inspiration for a painting recently, I came across a few shots of some bantams that I had taken at Coton Manor in Northamptonshire. Although the speckled hen here took up only a very small part of the photo, I was able to examine the bird in more detail using the computer to zoom in on a potential image.
The result was this acrylic painting of this fine specimen of a Belgium Bantam hen. She was running loose with a few other hens, as well as a cock bird, in lovely long grass filled with bluebells and cowslips - a very English background indeed.

Now the reason for this painting appearing in this post when the title is "A New Venture", is because I have set myself up with an online art shop, and this painting is the first item I added for sale. Although I've only been up and running for a few days, I've managed to list a few of my recent paintings and greetings cards that I have had professionally printed from these, as well as an old chair that I brought back to life. Hopefully the shop will grow,especially as I have more time for painting now, and I will sell lots of paintings and live happily ever after! Hmmmm, maybe that will be wishful thinking, but I did mention on Facebook that my new shop was open for business, and promptly made a sale - the morning sunrise painting I showed you in my last blog! It is now winging its way to the USA

For those interested to see what I am selling, here's the link:

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The View from my Back Door

Since I've been retired, I am at home and have time to just look out of the kitchen window a lot. For a few mornings now, while gazing up at the sky I have noticed some lovely cloud formations at daybreak. Reaching for my trusty camera and taking a step outside the back door, I take a photograph, then the next day another and so forth. It is a natural progression to translate these photos into paintings, and here is one I did later!

Morning Promise: watercolour on 300gsm 140lb Bokingford paper
Having done quite a few acrylic paintings lately, my wife asked me to do something wet-in-wet, and what better subject for this technique than clouds? A simple subject like this is so easy to do, and took me around 30 minutes - a welcome break from intricate detailed studies that I've been working on of late.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Lengthy Paintings

Acrylic on stretched canvas frame

I know I've said in the past that 2-3 hours spent on a painting is as much as I can bear, and this is especially true with watercolour work, but things have been changing around here.

A few weeks ago I joined a group of people who love to paint, and meet once a week, hiring out a room and spending a couple of hours or so just painting and chatting to each other. There is no tutor, so the cost is minimal, there's a very relaxed atmosphere and it's great to have a look at what each other is doing with their artwork.

At the same time, I've strayed further away from watercolour in favour of acrylics. My subject matter is also more elaborate, requiring much more thought and time getting it down on canvas.

The painting here done at the group meetings has taken me around one month to complete. Well, I say complete, but when is a painting ever finished? There is still more that I can do to it, and unlike watercolour, it doesn't go muddy on you if you start fiddling! But, there comes a point when we have to stop and say "That's enough".

The building is Old Place Yard, London, England, and is worked 'eye to hand' from a photograph I took on a visit last October. I'm not sure what the building is used for but think that it is something to do with parliament, as it stands on Abingdon Street, with the Houses of Parliament standing just across the road from it. To the rear, is the Jewel Tower.

Pictures below show WIP.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Birthday Cards

Despite my more-than-usual busy life at the moment, I did take time to paint a couple of birthday cards. This one was for my daughter-in-law, of our lovely grandson Thomas. I don't always get a good likeness, but this one turned out fairly good. I think she really liked it.

Painting someone a card is very rewarding, doesn't take long at this size (C5), and I think that being a piece of  original artwork, gives the receiver an incentive to keep it rather than discard the card in the recycling box a couple of days after the event. I would dearly loved to have kept this one, but I know it will be looked after by it's owner, and whenever I've visited since, the card is still on display. How nice is that?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Retired, but will I have more time for art?

A few weeks ago, I hung up my milk carrier for good!

You would think that retirement is a time for relaxation, a time to take things easy and potter about in the garden etc., but I seem to be busier than ever. What with a huge decorating project (I am talking about re-plastering, plumbing and electrics as well as paintwork), walking, cycling and swimming (I am now up to 20 lengths at a time and counting!), I am beginning to wonder how I ever had time to work for a living!

Earlier in the year, I got bestowed with the task of Exhibition Secretary for our local art club, as well as maintaining the website I built for us last year. This has meant that the last two or three months has got busier building up to our exhibition later this month, especially as I have been updating existing documents, and helping to bring about a new image to our club.

All this has meant that my artwork has been pushed to the back of everything, and I've had precious little time for painting. But the good news is that, hopefully, I will get back to painting fairly soon.

In the meantime, if anyone local is interested, here are details of our forthcoming exhibition:

Market Harborough Art Club presents our Annual
to be held at
Harborough Theatre
Church Square
Market Harborough
October 18-20 2012, 10.00am - 5.00pm
(Sat 10.00am - 4.30pm)
Free admission

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Stay-wet Palette

Well, it's been a while since I posted anything here I know, so here's one of my later paintings. Continuing my foray into acrylics, this one is larger than anything I've done in this medium - 14"x10". The one thing that has given me confidence for a larger size is my discovery of the "stay-wet palette". What I can tell you now, is that this is the best piece of kit that I've bought in ages. No more does the paint dry on the palette before I have chance to get it on the canvas, or the necessity to use 'flow improver' (which I've not found that satisfactory).

The thing works by a process called osmosis, consisting of a plastic tray in which a sheet of water holding paper (like blotting paper) is placed, then thoroughly wet with water, followed by a sheet of semi-permeable paper (like tracing paper) placed on the top. When acrylic paint is put on this palette, it keeps moist for days or weeks - perfect for Mr Slow Painter like me! It comes with a lid to retain moisture between sessions.

The kit is not cheap at £17.00, but my friend, being a somewhat thrifty person, has made his own makeshift affair by purchasing a 'lock and lock' plastic box just big enough to take the paper packs to fit in it. His cost him £3.50 for the box and £4.00 pound odd for the paper pack - quite a saving in all. The only drawback with his home-made one is that it is a little deep to dip your brushes in, which he admits to, but I suppose I can't knock it having not tried it.

The painting is obviously Venice - a quite back water more typical than the usual views you will find on glossy brochures or travel programmes on TV. This took me about a week, with five sessions to complete it. The paint stayed lovely and moist using the new palette, and just needed a little water adding before each session to stop evaporation.

The WIP shows that after the drawing came initial thin washes of colour before going into any detail with the paint.

At our art club last week, I took this painting along for an evaluation by Tim Fisher, a well know local artist, whose comments were fairly favourable, but pointed out one or two things that would improve the work, which I had missed or not thought about, like more emphasis on light source and direction and more fading needed into the distance. His points were duly observed and born in mind for the next one, as I haven't the heart or willpower to go changing things now!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

More Miniatures

While watching one of those many Antiques programs on TV the other day, I saw a young lady who spent a lot of her time painting miniature portraits. She was very good, and it got me wondering if I could do something like that.

You may remember my last foray into the world of miniature a while back with a watercolour painting of a terrace in Bath, England. Well, just for a little diversity, I thought I'd have a go in acrylics this time.

The painting of Tina here is 5"x5" and is the smallest painting that I have done to date. Even so, I did spend quite some time on it, as I am still learning with this medium - but I think at last that I am getting somewhere with it!

source photo
I have no idea how to use acrylics properly (if there is a proper way). As most of the work on this has been done with small brushes, I've found myself using the current brush to mix the colours rather than the palette knife, pulling in different colours as needed. In the larger areas, I've used the paint well watered down to start with, then adding layers of thicker paint for detail.

The young here has lovely soft skin, so I've found myself adding water and flow improver to blend the subtle skin colours together rather than leaving hard edges to the brush strokes.

This painting has now been framed, and is in a small exhibition at the Market Harborough Building Society. This is an excellent initiative by this company to host works of local artists for free, giving us much needed publicity.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Acrylic Painting Scares Me!

In my office/spare room sits a box of acrylic paints gathering dust. Often when I go in there, I glance across and think to myself "you haven't done a painting in acrylic for some time". In fact, the acrylic works that I have done can be counted on one hand. It's just as if I'm scared to get them out because a: I don't know what I'm doing with them and b: I can spend hours on a painting with them and the whole thing turns into one sticky mess!

A few days ago, I decided to grab the bull by the horns and have another go. Running around my mind are great ideas for a painting in this medium, but on a large scale, and in the loft I know I have some fairly large canvasses on frames, which I would just love to have a go on, but I just don't have the confidence to start on such a large work. So, I got to thinking that I would start with a small work and see how I get on.

The work above is my attempt on a 10x7 inch textured paper. At our art club, I've watched speakers do demonstrations and have taken mental notes on how they go about a painting, and have brought this into play here. I started by giving the paper a thin wash with burnt sienna to avoid having any white parts showing through in the finished work. Next I roughly sketched out Cecca's profile with a brush and darker tone and waited a short while for it to dry off (fig1). With portraiture, you have to keep checking measurements all the time if you are going to get a good likeness, so next came the first round of corrections, shortening the nose and moving the mouth (fig.2).

By the end of the first session, I had got to (fig.3). The mouth was still not right here, nor the nose and her hair largely undefined. At this stage, things were getting really sticky, including the palette!

Another afternoon saw the next session, where I completed the work, adding more definition to the nose and moving the mouth a little. This time I used an acrylic flow improver to give me more time before the paint dried out on me. This helped with the work on her jewellery and lace-work on the ruff. I could have worked more on the detail, but there comes a point when I think you have to say enough is enough, so I've called this one 'finished'!

Last night I watched a program on TV about Lucien Freud - quite an amazing artist who's work is so dramatic but really rather vulgar I feel - nevertheless, incredible work. One of his quotes I found particularly true in my case - "the promise of happiness is felt in the act of creation but disappears towards the completion of the work". 

The source photo below is only of Cecca's head and shoulders from a larger picture, where this talented girl has made a complete outfit depicting Queen Elizabeth I. My intention, if ever I get round to it is to do the full painting of her in all her regalia of robes, crown and jewellery on one of my large canvasses. But first, I have to be sure that I am good enough for the attempt!
source photo

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Rajasthan Lake, Jaipur.
This is the last painting with a Rajasthan theme before I move on to something new. This lake is somewhere near Jaipur, but I'm not sure where - could be Man Sagar Lake. I'm trying to get the feel for water, but at present it is still eluding me.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Rajasthani Woman

Rajasthani Woman: watercolour. Source: video frame.
Rajasthan lies to the North West of India bordering with Pakistan. While literally meaning "Land of Kings", it is also known as "Land of Colours", and it is easy to understand why, as everything in this country is so brightly coloured - furniture, embroidery, wall paintings and clothes.

The woman in this painting is wearing typical traditional clothing, most beautifully and brightly coloured, and adorned with beads and trinkets. Here, the cloth covering the head is both for protection from the heat as well as for modesty.

We hear that, the world over, traditional clothing is giving way to more modern attire, and I personally think that to lose traditional attire such as this would be a huge shame. Rajasthani women are the most beautifully dressed that I have ever seen.

I've tried to keep the work here as near as possible to the correct colours, but it is quite difficult to get the colours so bright and pure using those I have in my palette. Also, the photograph of the painting has lost some of the vibrancy of the work.