Wednesday, August 31, 2011

work in progress, oil on canvas: Birch trees and snow, update 1

 Detail 1

detail 2
progress so far ....

Still a little way to go but here is a quick update.  I'm waiting for the paint to dry before working on it further.

You can see a bit of pentimenti* - the copper shape shining through in the trees at the back - some will remain but the unnatural shapes, like the circle and almost triangle,  will be lost/adjusted in subsequent layers and glazes.

*Isn't that a nice word for an altered underpainting showing through?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Birch trees and snow, oil on canvas, work in progress

oil on canvas 16x20inches

I've struggled to find painting time recently - but this is the start of a new canvas, one of a series along with this one in the previous post here, this one, and others if you search under the tag 'trees'  .

It is done over a still life painting that I didn't like with a lot of blues in it and some copper - the paint is very thinly scumbled in places, allowing the colours to come through and become part of this work.   Sometimes I really like working over an old canvas because of the things that happen, the colours that come through - sometimes shining through thin layers of paint and sometimes fragments, flickering through overlaid colour.

I had the previous sketch

propped up - but as always, the painting took on a life of its own.  Both are purely from memories of snow and trees and shining water and quick sketches done plein air.  Using the colour of the underlyng painting changed the feel entirely and the water somehow crept in there :>)

The trees will be simplified  - and I may introduce hints of cool pale beige into the reeds and dry grasses - to be decided.   The mist also needs further work.

I thought I had a photo of the still life but when I checked I hadn't so sadly I can't show you the very different painting underneath,

Monday, August 22, 2011

using collage cut from old paintings and trying out Daniel Smith paint


Winter, Misty Day. watercolour and mixed media 9x6ins approx

What to do with failed paintings?   cut them up .......... and re-use pieces, playing with ideas for future work.

These pieces for the trees were cut from wider trees in a painting I decided was a write off - a what-on-earth-was-I-doing? piece compositionally.

The birches were subtle colours and I thought it would be interesting to keep the background in greyscale to bring out the colours but keep the whole piece very low key.

They were done in a mix of media - Winsor & Newton artists watercolours, a touch of Inktense, some gouache, some coloured pencil. 

Daniel Smith paint

The background was washed in with Daniel Smith's Kyanite to try it out.   I don't generally buy greys, mixing my own, but these are supposed to be single pigment so I thought it might be interesting to look at.   I bought just the one  tube of DS to see what I thought of the brand.  Verdict: It's nice paint- but not special enough to pay the extra cost on this experience.   If Daniel Smith would like to send me a range to try out I'd be happy to!  :>)  but on the basis of this one, though nice,  they are no better than Winsor & Newton and so the extra cost means I'm unlikely to be buying more.

What do you think of Daniel Smith paints?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What size to work? working to standard sizes, or not; winter and autumn trees in oil and watercolour

Early Winter Woods, oil on deep sided canvas, approx 24 ins wide, old painting

Do you always stick to a standard size for work to enable easy framing?  or do you allow the subject to dictate the format?

For me there is no question.   The subject dictates the format.     I tend to find the standard sizes are frequently not right for me.  I enjoy working on long thin formats, vertical or horizontal, square, just off square - all sorts.

OK it involves custom framing if they are on paper, or making my own canvasses up if on canvas.  Use the same framer regularly and the they will usually do you a competitive price - mine does, so the extra cost is minimal.

I don't frame canvasses, I use deep sided gallery wrap, paint the sides neatly and that's that.  

Winter trees, oil on deep canvas,  I no longer have it but it was 30/36 inches tall

My husband made up the stretchers for these long thin canvasses for me - B&Q cut the timber to the sizes I wanted when I bought it.   I had a variety of lengths cut, which I could then mix and match in assembling them (or more accurately himself assembling them!).  I stretched the canvas - I like to make sure the corners are how I want them and the canvas tight.  It gives complete freedom in size and of course canvas type.

Woods in watercolour

This was one was framed just off square.

So that work hangs together well, it's easy to have the framer adjust the mat/mount slightly in size with works on paper and have the outside measurements the same in some - for instance a 9.5 inch and an 11.25 inch can be framed in the same outer measurement frame, just varying the mount.   Some formats crop up again and again, like the squares, so they do become standard, not necessarily the measurement of off-the-shelf squares but fine for custom framing like this.

I often use A3 pads to work plein air, so the variation in size isn't necessarily huge  and because I tend to like light limed ash frames for most, they hang together well.  Having this pad means that the paintings remain protected within it, it's easy to carry when working plein air or travelling - but work is still individually sized and formatted.   Studio work can vary enormously.   I tend not to work larger than 5ft long (framed or canvas) as they are a nightmare to transport.

Also, I like to frame with a wider margin at the bottom to stop the 'falling out of the frame' feel that can happen when the mat/mount is even all the way round.   Off the shelf frames don't have this.

So - do you work to fit the paper?  or to fit your composition?

incidentally - Katherine Tyrrell did an excellent post on the legalities and travel restrictions/not of travelling with oil paints hereWell worth reading.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Postcard Exchange

The envelope from Ronelle Van Wyk

These exuberant, lyrical, expressive - so alive - sunflowers brightened a bad day enormously :>)

and the cards received so far.

This exchange has been so much fun - and it still has a long way to run :>)

You can see all the cards in the exchange so far,  here at Postcards from my Walk.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

and now for something completely different - illustration: a birthday party invitation for emailing

My daughter rang me this morning - no pressure - she said.  But could I do a party invitation for her to email for Sam's 4th birthday party, to send to friends mums - by tonight please?

So here it is - no time for thinking around or reworking.

The drawing is in coloured pencil and the writing was done in Photoshop, a line at a time so I could position it closely.

There is a bit more below this with the venue, date, time and RSVP stuff.

He is going as Batman - evidently :>) )

 So tomorrow I'm hoping to PAINT.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

how to draw a cat 2: sleeping ginger cat in coloured pencil

Another drawing of my daughters cat, sleeping this time with her beautiful bushy whiskers curling, fur glowing in the sunlight.

Again in the A4 moleskine folio sketchbook, done with a mix of Lyra and Polychromos pencils. 

This one is much closer up, so the fluffy, overlapping texture of the fur shows much more with lots of drawing back in with the Jakar eraser for the pale over dark sections and the whiskers.

I deliberately gave the background a mauve/blue haze of colour to cool down all those warm glowing colours and offset them.

detail of details drawn back in with the Jakar eraser

You can see the layers of colour in this detail and the lines drawn back in with the Jakar eraser, clean back to the cream moleskine paper.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

How to draw a cat: Ginger cat in coloured pencil - close ups and thoughts on the process, technique, what it was essential to consider

 Details of the cat in the last post

So how did I work?

My little Jakar battery eraser was essential for drawing back through the colour for those whiskers, adding highlights to the eyes and creating light fur over shaded areas or darker stripes.  It's such a brilliant drawing tool.   Coloured pencil on moleskine paper erases really cleanly and I think is my favourite surface for using them alone, rather than in a mixed media piece.   I also like warm cream paper.

I rarely erase as in correcting and didn't at all here - the first marks are faint, were in orange and were assimilated into the final result.    That gives plenty of time to move things a little before going in with more colour and more detail, knowing you are happy with where it's positioned.

It's so important to understand the layers of the fur and the direction - the skeleton and muscles beneath the fur, causing those shapes and changes of fur direction.  The brow and mouth must be parallel so that the cat isn't distorted or flat.

The shadowing showing the mouth is so subtle - overdo it and it looks like a cartoon but it has to be there just enough to show - a fine balancing act.

I let the fur of the body fade off into scribbles as I wanted attention focussed on the face and eyes.

And the ears inside were a delicate mauve and pink

- curving the marks and scribbles helps to shape the curve of the ear - it's like sculpting with your drawing.   That little slightly balder patch, just in front of the ear, where the skin shows through is also important.

Editing what is used from the photo is vital - I decided to leave out most of the background to focus on her face and fade out the fur at the top for the same reason.   The lower eye was simply black in the photograph - a camera can't deal with the degrees of light and shade that the human eye can,  I had to work out a way of making it look shaded, work out where the pupil would be and keep it convincing.

In addition to all the technical stuff, it's vital to catch the character of the animal - each is so different.   This one was a sweetie with a dreamy gaze and the noisiest chatterbox I've ever known in the cat world - she couldn't come into the house without a long tale of miaows and greetings.

In close up you can see the scribbly way I draw - it isn't actually a 'tight' photorealist drawing as that isn't the way I work.   The image is made up of lots of scribbles, layers of colour, erased lines etc

So ..... that's how I went about it.   You can see other work I've done on cats here.   It's not something I do a lot but I really enjoyed this one and my daughter cried when she saw the online image and loved it - so all is well there!   not that I want to make my daughter cry ............

And for some stunning drawings of animals take a look at Gayle Mason's work at Fur in the Paint.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Ginger cat in coloured pencil

Coloured pencil in A4 moleskine sketchbook

This one is a present for my daughter.   In memory of her much loved cat who sadly is no more.

She was beautiful with eyes that appeared really blue against her fur, very unusual.

It isn't quite finished - I don't know whether to include her collar or not - have I got enough information on how her fur falls round her neck to leave it out?  decisions decisions ........

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

people sketching

 Lots of hospital in my life at the moment so drawing and painting has slowed down a bit.