Still life with wine bottle Jar

Yesterday as promised I started a new still life. ¬†I like the background fabric on the last still life so much I decided to reuse it in this painting and then I coordinated the rest of the still life to complement the fabric. ¬†I feel I am going to struggle with the base fabric as it also has a pattern on it and at the moment, I am not sure how I am going to deal with it. ¬† It not a bold pattern and it’s not striped like the orange fabric. ¬†The pattern is actually leaves which are textured stripes and blackish, so not solid and reflecting light.

So I managed to get the basics done on this painting before the light faded completely. As I was drawing it in I wasn’t too concerned about the light but it actually turned out to be quite a bright afternoon, after the morning fog and showers. Looks like today might be the same but I will working this afternoon so the light will be fading by the time I finish, so will probably continue tomorrow when I know the weather will be sunny.

altered

Today I think I will try to draw something as my drawing skill definitely need brushing up. When I was Camberwell, I constantly used my sketchbook, even for the Saturday morning classes and was actually a requirement in my foundation year. I sort of kept it up at Bath but with the lack of encouragement from the staff, it wasn’t a high priority (in the painting dept anyway.), it soon became an infrequent habit. So really my sketchbook has not been a priority since I was about 20, so its time it regained its importance, if only to reinforce the habit of looking, rather than roaming with my eye.

That is one thing I was always doing in my painting, redrawing, you can sort of see it with the wine bottle as I reaslised when I was working on the background fabric, that it was much taller than I had originally drawn it.  The little red vase is also a little more squat and fatter than I have it here, so  that will be altered  as will the some of the small satsumas. Still I have plenty of time as next week the weather is returning to the normal TX sunshine so I am not going panic.

So far, I am happy with what I have on the painting board. ¬†Materials used so far, Daler Canvas board 16×12 ¬†Golden acrylic paint and some primsacolour pencil.

Better coloured in this photo

So I looked at the original photo and this is closer to the painting.

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So the last 2 days have been non painting days. Yesterday, I just had to kick in  to the filing as tax year is beckoning and much as I dislike that task, it has to be done!  Still needs to be done but half way there.

Today, was a unusal day for us, Scottish dreich weather ( dark, mild and drizzly) and by the time I had arranged the next still life, the life was way too dark. However, I will draw in the structure before I start work at 7 pm tonight (only 2 hrs) and tomorrow I will be ready for the dull weather. Will need to do it in next 2 days as the weather will be the usual winter sunny day on Saturday.  The best time for the room I am working in, is about 3 hrs after sunrise as its  east facing with only the east wall having windows. So once the sun is high enough above the horizon, the light is pretty steady until about 2 hrs before sunset.

Anyway, time to make dinner. Looking forward to starting the new painting tomorrow.

On a roll, finished

well, this one is for now. I can see areas (lots of them) for improvements but time to move on another still life.

Today, I was looking after my young grand-daughter and normally that would be an excuse not to paint. However, I determined that housework, cooking etc could be deferred whilst Juniper slept and I could work on this during that brief window of opportunity. Wow, a break through for me!  To be honest, it was not that brief as she is still at the longer nap stage at the moment.

The one thing that I had been struggling with was the stripped material the still life was sitting on.  As can be seen in the previous stages of this work I had been painting in the stronger colour and then attempting to put on the yellow/mustard colour. Totally the wrong way to do it and in sudden flash, decided to cover the red/orange completely with  a yellow pastel and using a prismacolor pencil, drew in the stripes.  I just drew them as I saw them, the perspective is all wrong I know but somehow it works.

I worked on the problem area at the top of the painting, scrubbing in white, greys, reds, blues with pastels and pencils. It looks better but it still not quite right. looking at it at the moment, it definitely the large green area to the left that is the issue, more than that area. It lacks substance, maybe that is something I could work on.

I also work on the flower arrangement itself and the material immediately below the still life. The flower arrangement is better but I could never get the shadows on the material to work. I just ended up with a rather ill-defined shape with no real body, it just float very badly.

I added a few touches to the boldly patterned material in the background but not much as it seems to work apart from the odd triangle in the far right.

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Wow, looking this image on the screen and its way too bright. My camera really doesn’t capture reds well. Safe to say it’s not as bright as this image. Think I will need to invest in learning to use my husband’s DSLR. Photography is not my skill.

Anyway, tomorrow, another life to create. This one is finished (maybe work on the bottom material) as the flowers are now too dead!

 

 

progress slow

but its progress. Today I dispensed with the paint, using the pastels, Prismacolor pencils and some Derwent aquatone pencils. Not my best by any means but I’m happy as its only the 5th and I am actually painting. I will probably work on it one more day and then tried out another still life. I am even think of painting a view of the back garden as the weather is meant to improve considerably this week. Unfortunately that also means the Cedar trees will be in full pollen explosion stage. Like most people who live in this area, I am very allergic to it! At the moment it is mainly affecting my eyes, like tiny grains of sand grinding against my eyes. Hopefully that will be the full extend as I take all the allergy meds I can to fight against it.

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So the painting is on ¬†Strathmore Watercolour paper, 140 ¬†11″x15″. Acyrclic paints, Prismacolour pencils, Derwent aquatone pencils and Mungyo soft pastels. ¬† Bit I dislike the most, the grey area at the top above the flowers and the bit I like most the orange star in left bottom, followed closely by the green patterned material in the background.

As to the comment about overwhelmed by the number of colours available for pastels yesterday. Today I realised 60 is not enough! LOL

The New year starts and the anxiety kicks in

So I have actually started a still life – on 3rd Jan. ¬†Set up the still life in a burst of enthusiasm¬†on 31st Dec . Set up an easel on 1st. ¬†Then the anxiety set in and last night it got so bad I couldn’t sleep. ¬†So I got as far as a rough sketch in pastels. They are my issue at the moment because Gordon bought me them as Christmas gift after my bout of excitement with them before the festive season started. Looking at the big box of colours, 60, I suddenly thought what do I do with them!

So today, the 4th, I abandoned the pastels and taking up the brush.  Still anxious but I know I will get over this.  Need to be quck before flowers are completely dead!!!!

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Yes, I know, blue sticking tape is not going to help. Brown tape on my shopping list tomorrow.  Once I have completed the underpainting I will use the pastels again. Monday I start my new shift so most days from 9-5 I am free to do what I want, so no excuses this year but there will be.

Last post of the year

and looking back ¬†there haven’t been many this year! 5 in total and in most I am moaning ūüė¶

So that last month or so I have fallen into more a slump than normal after the terrible mixed media class . So no more classes!  It was also unusually cold at the end of November and beginning of Dec. I only have blinds in the studio, so it was bit cold so in effort to keep the cold out I put up some temporary covers but that only made the studio even more uninviting.

I have been doing some creative stuff but not in the painting sphere, making a couple of gifts for Christmas. ¬†Below is a painting I have been playing with for a few weeks. In a fit of ‘I’m going to paint’ I order some sample acrylic grounds. I had an old painting hanging on my wall which I had done in conjunction with my bead Calendar project.

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As you can see it was barely a painting ¬†(darker more red-orange in real life) so not something I felt particularly precious about. I began by looking at the original calendar photo it was based on, some rocky landscape in Australia. ¬†I decided to use the crackle medium. ¬†So I pasted it on with a large brush everywhere but the tree. ¬†It barely worked, so I put on more with a palette knife. Not much difference to be honest and I put on about another couple of layers but it really didn’t work. Very disappointed.

So I had to work with what I had which wasn’t much and as it was experiment, I wasn’t too concerned if nothing worked. So having used soft pastels on the last painting, I decided to go in that direction. ¬†I don’t think it really improved the image much but it did reaffirm that I enjoyed working with soft pastels.DSC01510Again the colour is quite right, more orangey red that this image. ¬†However comparing images here, I can definitely see more depth and obviously more textured in this painting.

So the new year starts in 2 days (or less) and my work shift changes on 6th Jan.  I am hoping to work more outside, especially as the weather is perfect at this time of year (bit cool for us Texans but not cold for us Brits!) Only fly in this  picture is there is good chance I will be babysitting my grand-daughter during the day from the middle of Jan. It might be only for a couple of hours or it might be a few days. (to honest, looking after Juniper will be a joy and I would give up painting any day, to be with her).  I should have at least one day a week to go out into the Hill Country and get to grips with this landscape I have lived with for the last 13 yrs. Also as a Christmas gift I got a box of Landscape Mungyo Soft Pastels. They are not the ones I wanted but they are better than the ones I have now.May Journal Page

Above is the bead page I made for the bead journal project I was involved at the  time.

Whilst I am not painting, I am reading about artists, mostly painters and one in particular at the moment, Vincent Van Gogh. You get so complacent about some artists as they reprinted so much and you really don’t know that much about the actual artist and how they got to where they achieved their break through moment. ¬†The book I am reading is very long, dense and I don’t think they particularly like the artist that much, well the person, not the work. ¬† I did not know that Van Gogh started his artist career so late and how brief a period it was. ¬†I was surprised in who he thought was the best artist and whose work he aspired to. ¬†I did not know that Gauguin was basically bribed to move to Arles and how brief a time it was. As it has taken me several months of reading the book, I suspect it might be a while before I get to the tragic conclusion.

As this book is a bit of mammoth, I have been dipping into several other books I already have and need to rediscover. I also bought a new book this weekend called ‘What are looking at? the surprising, shocking and sometimes strange story of 150 yrs of modern art. by Will Gompertz. ¬† So far I have read the first chapter and the influence of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, in particular ¬†the ‘Fountain’ Its a pretty light read compared to the Van Gogh book and makes no pretense its an art history tome. ¬†I think I might actually finish it before the Van Gogh book!

Ochil Hills

So I have been slowly but surely working on the last painting I was begun in the mixed media class. I did think I was going to use the acrylic media images I had created and some of the skins I had created in the 2nd class. ¬†In the end I have stuck to soft pastels and I think it will stay this way. I might work on it a bit but I don’t think it really needs much more. ¬†If I put paint on it, I might lose some of the colour blends I have got.

For the next week though I am doing a little embroidery for Christmas and if my afternoons are free, I might just take the car to the Hill country and sketch. ¬†After living here for 13 yrs, the landscape is finally beginning to click with me and I want to explore it more. and now is the time to do it with the cooler weather. After March, it’s all downhill and time to stick to the studio. Hopefully by then I will have plenty of images to work from.

 

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Final class

Well, Thursday was the last class and to be honest it was a dud ūüė¶

The instructor show us how to use acrylic medium with a photocopy to make a direct transfer, except it didn’t exactly work (for the instructor or myself). ¬†And I have tried it several times since and not really had much success with the process. ¬†Basically you coat the surface of your support with acrylic medium and then place your photocopy onto the surface. ¬†Smooth it down and let dry. ¬†This is where it becomes complicated as then you have peel back the image to see the transfer. ¬†If you do it too soon the toner does not have enough time to sink in and if, as I did, you leave it several hours, you end up with a distinctly blurred contact as not all the paper lifts off. ¬† Basically you wet the paper and rub, however, If you rub too hard you lift off the image. ¬†I have not found a happy middle ground with the timing of this process.

So that has been a bust so far but there are plenty of video around, so I will work on this. The other part of the class was rubbing off the paper from the gel images we had been creating over the last few weeks.  This is very tedious and I think so far I have only managed to get the paper off completely from 2 images.  You can see you have missed places until the image has dried and the white fiber fuzz left behind become apparent.  Again videos on youtube are available and I will be working on this as well.

So above was written more than 10 days ago and since then I have bought more materials. I plan to investigate the mediums myself and I have also bought a whole load of golden fluid acrylics instead of my usual golden artists colours in tubes. Hopefully they will be more fluid but more importantly coming in bottles rather than tubes, might make them seem a little less precious.

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So now I need to figure out what to with this mess. It will be challenge to be sure but I will salvage it somehow.

 

Oil pastels and those acrylic skins

Meant to update this yesterday as 2 days later and lot is forgotten.

Arrived at the class a little late this week but fortunately nothing had been started as everyone was peeling off their acrylic skins from the freezer paper.  After that we were instructed to soak some 140lbs water paper in the sink.

Whilst that was soaking  we did a critique of the self portraits we did last week. Again a good variety of styles.

Then we retrieved our soaked watercolour paper, soaked up the excess water and then stretched it on a board.

A an elaborate still life was set up in the middle of the room but before we started we sketched a scene from outside.

 

 

quick sketch

Once we had finished out quick sketch, Linda show us how to use oil pastels overlaid with thin washes of acrylic paint and some mineral spirits to blend the oil pastels.  Our task was to combine our sketches with the intricate still life in front of us.

 

still life with persimmon

 

Linda really does manage to put some amazing still life groups together. ¬†The colours are amazing, one day I will get that blue just right. ¬†So this week I really managed to wrong foot myself as I completely forgot to bring any oil pastels with me. ¬†Everything else bar the kitchen sink was in my huge bag of stuff. ¬†So I had to borrow pastels from Linda and mineral spirits from another student. ¬† With this in mind, (you can’t work as freely if you using another person gear) I used a smaller sheet of watercolour paper. ¬†Then I had to think about combining my very basic sketch with this very elaborate set up in front of me. ¬†I started with the main feature of the sketch a large branch of a tree and then the purple bottle. ¬†Once I had established the main features I decided to tear down the sheet to even smaller space. Then it was just a matter of working into the painting. ¬†It was actually easier to do than I imagined. ¬†The method used reminded me of a painter I greatly admire – Mary Fedden,

As the evening went on I was wondering what we were going to do with the acrylic skins we so lovingly created last week and eventually towards the end of the session I had to ask. Basically you used them as you would any other collage material.  This is one aspect of the this class I am not enjoying.   I would rather she show us this sort of technique and then we do it at home, rather than spending half the class faffing around on something we might used the following week.  For example we were told to bring along objects like plastic fencing, netting, doilies or other things that could be imprinted (the reason I forgot the pastels as I was concentrating on these objects).  So we bring out our objects, just for us to be told to coat them in acrylic medium if they are absorbent, like the doilies.  I could and will do this at home but we had to spend 20 mins faffing around coating our objects, in the meantime it was getting darker and darker outside.

still life with acrylic skins

 

You can see quite clearly where I have used some of the acrylic skins on the branch of  the tree and the persimmon in the foreground. I must admit I enjoyed this exercise more than I expected.   It actually takes off the pressure of trying to do the still life as you are considering so many more aspects of the painting surface, like how do you link 2 completely different aspects on to one plane.

Next week we experiment with imprinting.

 

 

Mixed Media class 3

So this week was broken up into 3 parts.

We began by mixing up paint with an acrylic medium ( regular gel gloss with water) GAC medium 500 if we had it  or matte medium. Once the colour was mixed and the right consistency we poured it on to freezer paper or in my case, palette paper.  We will use them next week as acrylic skins.

We then did a critique of the painting we did the other week. As we were down in numbers, we only had 3 paintings to discuss but all 3 were so different, you would never imagine we were all working from the same still life. I like that.

Then we were on  to this weeks project, wax resist.  I must admit, my memory of wax resist dates back to doing this at primary school and then later in my first year at Secondary school, doing batik. So I was intrigued but not overwhelmed by the prospect.

She started by doing a demonstration, doing a quick  self-portrait drawing with a wax crayon and then covering it with some watered down Indian ink.

So we went about creating our selfies,( using after 1st 2 stages) with pastel, charcoal and paint. I had brought along a small round bathroom mirror, so I kept on having to bop around to see all of my face. However, I have done enough selfies to know what to expect and to be honest, it probably helped so I didn’t overly focus on one particular feature (none of which I love) Due to the extended time we spend on creating our acrylic skins, we ended up not having a lot of time for this exercise. I might try it again during the week.

Image

My camera has made this much more vivid than it actually is. The reds are too red but the blues are about right. I particularly like effect created by the wax in the hair as that is always one (of many) of my problem areas.  Below is a close up

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As I said I have always done self portraits and here is one when I was in my first year at college in 1977. It’s still one of my favourites.

selfie 1977

Mixed Media class

So much is going on  the house at the moment, I decided that as I want to return to painting as my focus, I need some space and time to do it. Not going to rent a studio when I have ample room in my house so the next best option was to do an art class at the Austin Contemporary at Laguna Gloria.

Although I have been working in acrylics for all of my art life (allergic to oils) I really don’t know that much about the mediums that are available to artists now. I was hoping this class might have helped in that area but so far I have been disappointed as we have only used techniques I was already aware of. However I am enjoying the actual act of painting which is the main point. ¬†I might sign up with the next class as apparently that is the advanced class.

The first week the instructor (Linda Montignani) demonstrated the different applications of acrylic paint and why it is the most versatile of mediums. She also show us a few mediums and gels available  to extend that versatility. She then show us how blotting, using shapes, salt and mineral spirits could affect the  surface of the paint.  We were then instructed to cover our chosen painting surface with paint and use a few of the techniques described above. Once we had done that and while we were waiting for the paint to dry, she show us how to use drawing ink and straws. Back to the paintings in progress.  The last part of the exercise was to make our random actions into something.

I must admit I was a little stumped at this point and it was a bit like doing an art therapy exercise. However, below is what evolve. Looking at it later, I realise it kind of encompassed my art work over the last 35+ yrs, harking back to my interest in graffiti on walls and children’s art while I was in college and then right up to the mixed media project I did for the Sketchbook project.

doodle

So last night was the 2nd class and I must admit I was not happy on entering the class to see a very elaborate still life set up in the middle of the room.  I love modern still painting but still not a fan of doing them myself, even though that has been my main output for the last few years. Mainly I think it because I have no idea how to approach it in the free and easy way I see a lot of UK artists do this kind of subject

still life with charcoal, pastel and  acrylic paint

the still life set up.

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So the beginning of the class started with us trying to peer over the shoulder of Linda to see the minute screen of her apple laptop to see examples of the type of work we would be doing in the class. I didn’t even bother to look as the glare off the screen meant I couldn’t see anything and the screen was so small, even if I had been able to see something, it wouldn’t have really shown the pastel and charcoal techniques she was going to demonstrate.

So after about 15 minutes of the others peering over her shoulder, Linda then demonstrated to the class how to abstract from the still life in front of us, using a charcoal drawing as a base and how that would blend into the acrylics.  Once we had worked on that part of the technique, she should us how pastels could be worked into the painting.

Neither techniques were new to me ¬†but I eventually got to enjoy the actual painting part of the class. Maybe that is the reason why I didn’t hear a very important instruction as I switched off. Naughty girl!

I had stop at one point because the classical music on the radio was driving me nuts. It wasn’t particularly loud but the rhythm was fairly fast. When you are trying to concentrate on painting, you don’t particular want ¬†your brain racing along with the music! ¬†So I went outside for a while, calmed down and asked for the sound to be lowered. Linda was very accommodating about this and even said the station could be changed but lowering it so it was barely heard was enough. Next week I will follow the example of another of the students and bring in my MP3 player.

As to the actual painting, I was fairly pleased with the way it came out, given that I started on the wrong foot. At Camberwell, we didn’t really do that much in the way of still life but if we did, it was staged towards a wall with no distractions from the setup and the class would cluster around in a semi-circle. This was set in the middle of the room with lots of other distractions.

Linda had asked us to block in the background very loosely. To me that meant looking at the background of the piece, looking at the edges and painting those objects in loosely. Actually what she meant was to pick a fairly arbitrary colour or colours and block in the paper. So once the background had been blocked in and dried, then we were to abstract only part of the still life display. Of course, that is when the issue with my background came into play, as suddenly where there had been an empty easel and a clear view of the table in the background, there was now a person with their canvas on the easel, blocking the table.

In the end it worked out well for me as my view was now completely over the place and not much related to the background. It actually made me much freer with my work than I am typically. It still had the tendency to tighten up if I looked too closely but the music annoying me helped in that regard. As I felt myself getting angry with the music and probably with the painting I stopped and walked away from it.  Anyway below is the image I produced.

Pastel, Charcoal and Acrylics

Pastel, Charcoal and Acrylics

Next week we are doing self portraits with charcoal, pastels, wax crayons and drawing ink. That should be fun ¬†ūüėÄ

Painting in progress

This the painting I am currently working on, so far its a good start and I envision a whole army of Gnome portraits by the end of the year. The room I use as my art room, painting and sewing, has no direct sunlight after 9am so the shadows are very shallow and subtle. So getting the nuances of the tones is quite difficult.  As I am currently painting from life I do not paint once the light starts to fade. So in the evening I  work on sewing/beading projects.  Truth is  I am still more comfortable working on my stitching and beading at the moment and to that end I have just re-started a project from 2 yrs ago.

This week I came across a really good blog called Making a Mark by an urban sketcher called Katherine Tyrrell.  This will definitely be a blog I will make regular trips to as it contains all sorts of useful advise for artists and art lovers.

This week she has whole host of posts about the current BP Portrait Award.¬†¬† This was one of my favourites art shows when I lived in the UK.¬† However the last time I visited it in 2010, I must admit I was very disappointed in it as I think the only painting I liked was the winning portrait.¬† Most of the other were photo realistic (from my memory) and often I had to look at the labels to see if they were paintings at all. Not that I am against photorealism in painting, I have admired a lot of that sort of work in the past, usually cityscapes of inner London or other big cities. There was a very big movement in that direction when I was at Camberwell in the late 1970’s.¬† However, to me, a lot of it,¬† is just a way of showing off,¬† look at me , I have mastered a technique and it lacks any real connection with the viewer. This year’s painting seem to have strong influence of photography but there seems to be some growth away from the actual photography to create a unique perspective in painting¬† the subject.¬† So I am very disappointed that I am going to miss this year’s show by one month.¬†¬† It is going to Edinburgh in November after being in London. We will be visiting Scotland in Sept/Oct ūüė¶

The winner this year is  Aleah Chapin who is only 26yrs old and American. Wow, she is a very talented young lady. Reminds of Jenny Saville who also has a show opening this week in Oxford.

Whilst on the Guardian’s art page this week¬† I noticed that another painter who work I love, die this week.¬† Mary Fedden.¬† Take a look at the gallery of pictures the Guardian has provided.

2011 Sketchbook project

My ‘sketchbook’, turned out to be very mixed media.

After my first few attempts at this project, I realised the paper in the sketchbook¬† just wouldn’t hacked it as it was very poor quality and even the slightest mark bled through to the other side.¬† So I set about redoing the sketchbook.¬†¬†¬† At first I was going to use some 300lbs watercolour paper which I cut to size.¬†¬† As I progress and re- read the rules, I realised this wasn’t going to work .

My first page was a drawing  using a charcoal pencil and very much based on the original photo as can be seen from the image below.

2nd page was a straightforward painting  using acrylic paints and the 2nd sketch was also a painting with the same colours but swapped around

The use of the use in the foreground seemed to have made the middle object much further back  but of course although the paper is the same size the shapes are of different sizes and shape so that would have had an effect as well.   After I did the 2nd painting I was not happy with what I achieved and seem too  rely to much on the original image.

That is when I decided I need to explore it in a medium that I was more comfortable with – needle felting, hand embroidery and machine embroidery.

The last 2 pages resulted directly from this experimenting  and was done on watercolour paper, using machine embroidery and acrylic paint, exactly the direction I hope to go eventually once I get over my nervousness of using paint at the moment. I think it help the size was so small, 5.25 inches x 7.25 inches which allowed me to be fairly tight but loose at the same time.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a good image of last¬† the painting/embroidery¬† but if you go to my page at the Sketchbook Project ¬† you will get a better view and also see the sort of process I used on the back of the previous page.

If you go to that page, you will see a bit of paper on the backs of some of the work as I originally stuck them on paper and then realising that the book would be too thick to submit.  Because of the materials I used this also limited how many pages I could submit. Also I worked up to the wire for the deadline.   The last thing I did was rebind the pages (very crudely) and I also did a very free painting for the cover based on both the photos I used.    The large image I have included here, was the most successful of the pages but I think I like the cover the best, as it was very quickly done with very little actual thought. I just combined all the things I had processed from the other pages and ended up with the most flowing painting I have done for long time.

Obviously I wasn’t too scarred by the process as I have signed up for the same project but this year I will try to work with the paper provided and not leave it so late to that I am right up to the submission deadline.

A new beginning

Well, for the last 2 days I have actually managed to paint but I still have a ways to go before it become a habit.  This is a quick painting I did this morning on 300g/m fabriano watercolour paper with acrylics.  Capturing the light off the vase was difficult to say the least and most of the time I ended up with very dead colours as my mixing was way off.  In the end I think I ended with an OK start but I would be disappointed if this was prolonged effort as it fails to get the vibrancy of the piece completely

Earlier in the year I completed a sketchbook for the Art House Co-op 2011 Sketch Book project ¬† Again it was something I struggled over as although I use a sketchbook from time to time, it’s not a habit unfortunately.¬† When I was at Camberwell I would never have been without my sketchbook and even at Bath Academy of Art, I had several on the go.¬†¬† I like to collect sketchbooks but actually using them seems an uphill struggle and I think it mainly because I am putting too much expectation on them.¬† To honest, it was probably a mistake to do this project as you get to see other people books and most are finished refined projects which a sketchbook shouldn’t be.¬† It should be a place to make notes, observation and experimentation.

Anyway, I decided to do the last, experimentation and I ended up with a book that wasn’t pretty but I think quite interesting.¬† My pages were based on 2 Polaroids my husband had made at work to see the defects on the microchips his company were producing at the time.¬† I had always been drawn to them as they seemed like another world but also very much part of this world.¬† At first I stuck too rigidly to the Polaroids but as I went forward they began to have a life of their own.

My biggest challenge was the sketchbook which was sent was very flimsy, even a pen bled through to the other side.¬† I read that you could take out the pages and rebind the book¬† which is what I did but then I read about the thickness rule. It shouldn’t be more than 1″ think once complete and no outside fasteners.¬†¬† More problems.¬† I will write about them tomorrow

Sargy Mann the blind painter

Just watch this documentary made by the artist’s son. Watching it and hearing what Sargy Mann has to say as he is painting, I can see myself having the same conversation in my head as I paint. I can see why he continues to paint despite the blindness and doesn’t just turn to Sculpture. A painter’s perception of places and objects is so different from a sculptor’s vision If you are a painter I really recommend this film – Sargy Mann

I knew Sargy Mann briefly as¬† a tutor at Camberwell¬† where I did my foundation year.¬† My very¬† first class was a drawing class held by Sargy Mann and as we walked in we were confronted by a sea of crumpled up paper which filled the whole room.¬† We were to draw this and I remember hating it.¬† How do you draw a roomful of¬† crumpled paper. Of course, you weren’t meant to draw the paper and thus our first lesson – take in the whole and make up the rest in between with observation of light and tone.¬† I am still learning

In addition to the film which is wonderful, is a very good interview with the artist in 2010, 5 yrs after he went blind totally and he was still painting.¬† –¬† Sargy Mann, the blind painter of Peckham

So its half way through  the year and I have done very little actual painting or drawing. However that is about to change as I am going to start some still life paintings based on some Garden Gnomes Gordon has acquired over the years.  Initially I just brought them up to repaint before putting them back in the garden. But sitting on my table as I have been writing status updates on Facebook, I just have an irresistible urge to make some  paintings on them. I am hopeful I will be more successful this time.

Middle of November progress report

I was on James Hobbs blog¬† and click on his link to my blog. I was shocked to see I hadn’t posted anything since 4th July and even more shocking nothing to show for it.

Part of that is because I moved my painting studio from the laundry room and my craft room to the unused bunk room which is massive (20ft x30ft approx).¬† So that took a while. Then in September we went on a home visit to Scotland and France . Whilst I was there, my eldest daughter announced her engagement and her wedding date – 29th October.!¬†¬†¬† From the time I got back to her wedding day I was making 285 or slightly more flags to make into banners for her. I never want to see or make another triangle. It was more than worth all the effort though. ūüôā

My flags the happy couple with the flags in background.

In that time my father-in- law came to visit so no painting in that time. ūüė¶

However, I did enter a local contest and my painting of¬† tin Bird with black ground was accepted. I had entered the drummer painting and put the Bird in as whim so was completely surprised when it was accepted.¬† Have never had anything accepted before, so was pretty chuffed even if was just for the local art association.¬† Maybe next year I will enter a bigger competition, if I ever get back to painting!¬† Alas the drummer boy was not accepted ūüė¶

Painting in frame – Study in black – Tin Bird

A drastic change

after mulling things over and looking. More looking. Pondering and then a critique from my husband (who is not an artist but has a really good eye for art), I decided I needed to change the background.¬† It just wasn’t working and would definitely not work with the flute and horn players. so now they will appear as it they are about to make a bit announcement.¬† I have only just started making this adjustment as you would think this will entails some adjustment of the drummer figure as well as the background.¬† So far I have only worked on the background.¬† Think this is going to work!

Drummer finished

At the moment I am concentrating on Still Life subjects as with 100f weather outside, indoor work is the only viable option. Drummer will a series of 3 with a different character for each painting but with the same background. It will be interesting to see how different the pictures will appears with the same background. Presumably, although the colours of the background will be similar, the tone will be different due the colour of the ornament. Any way here is the finished Drummer Whilst working on the drummer, I was looking up info on different palettes and different coloured grounds to start with. The typical ground to start with is a brownish one with burnt Umber and white mixed together.  However, I came across a painter who used black with a very limited palette Р6 colours plus white.  This suited my plans as one of my problems with Drummer was my control over tone- often I just ended up with mud.  So using the black ground and a limited palette , I worked on the following paintings.

My first mistake with both paintings – they were too small!¬†¬† The bird is about 6×4 and vase with flowers ,is about 8×6.¬† Just because the subject matter is small, I have learnt, don’t assume you need a small work surface.¬† It made me way too fussy, getting lost in the detail and not seeing the whole.¬† That is why the vase is still floating in the air.

I liked working on these though as working black on black, I really had¬† to work hard to define the objects and think about the tones.¬† I don’t think I was completely successful but I was close.¬† Hopefully the next in the drummer series, will be more successful.

keeping up the sketching …..just

For me this is a good effort, hopefully it will become a daily practice with my new work schedule next week.  From next week I will only be working 4 hrs instead of 8 on Tuesday and Wednesday. Plus my shift on Thursday I have altered my shift to 4-8 like Tues and Weds.  Hopefully the regularity  will help me to keep focus.  Also I need to explore different themes in the evening.  When I was at college, I combined observation with my personal feeling plus graffiti. At the time it was a natural progression in my work and I was full of angst then.  These days my life has flatlined so much, it hard to have any feelings about it all.

the coffee table which I can see as I watch tv at night

I was walking through Gillieland Park, Pflugerville and it was last school day before summer. In the car park there were several school buses waiting as the kids spend the day in the swimming pool.

A five min drawing as we walk along the trail at Lake Georgetown

A short stop as I walked Angus, our dog

Not a flattering view but until the phone went, Gordon was pretty still as he slept on the sofa after work.

drawing is hard:(

Since my last post I have been struggling to get to grips with drawing. In that effort I have scoured my books and done a few exercises  but nothing really helps other than to keep drawing.  The one thing I have learnt is that I cannot drawing a straight line to save my life. However that appears to be the least of my problems.  Hereare a couple of examples:
this was an exercise from ‘drawing on the right side of the brain’ using a plastic view finder where you draw directly on the plastic and then you transfer the image to your paper. Its a bit of a cheat really. I have tried using the view finder before where you place in front of you and translate the image you see onto paper. I cannot work with it.


This one was about working with negative space which was fine for the bottom half but then I lost it trying to find the space for the seat. I was getting there but was grateful for the need to move the chair for dinner.


As I was concentrating on improving my drawing, the painting I started a few weeks back has been rather neglected.  I must admit I thought this might be easier with the grid in the background but really all it has meant is that I have concentrated on the background rather than the object, a drummer.  However this afternoon, I think I made some progress with it although it has a ways to before it is complete.  Hopefully this will be the first of three.