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.


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.


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.


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!



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.







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.


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  😀