Friday, 15 May 2015

Accepting the rough (with the smooth)

After last weeks mixed media demonstration, I had decided to give it a go, however a bad cold and then a trip to Brighton left me totally unprepared - where had I put all the stuff I needed?

So for this week only, it was back to another acrylic landscape - another miniature, I might add and not the wall-sized painting I would have been creating if I had done the mixed media piece. I went about it in my usual way and finished the background with a smile on my face, I really did like the yellow-green foreground, the green rolling hills and the "red" sunset sky. Unfortunately I did not take a photo for posterity, because I think I have totally spoilt it by adding a mass of foliage from the trees which were supposed to have been around the height of the hills - and in the distance!

What went wrong?

Well my best guess is that the ladies at the club, were organising a trip to "Art In Action" and were trying to drum up enough interest to be able to hire a coach for the journey. So much going on, and I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. Fatal! As I was to find out when I finally managed to stop myself from adding yet more foliage. Here is the result, I have to say I do not like it, I may well paint over it and start again.


Ah well, as I said in the title, you have to take the rough with the smooth - the good with the awful. Some you win and some you lose, this one I feel that I definitely lost with thoughts of a coach trip uppermost in my mind.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mixed Media Demonstration

I have always enjoyed mixed media work, but last night at our art group, I had an opportunity to see this type of art demonstrated. It really made me want to have a go for myself. It is quite a small group (23 members as of now) and we try to ring the changes with our demos to try and please the largest number of members. This usually means that although subject matter is widely varied, the media are typically the main contenders; water-colour, acrylic and coloured pencils.

This year we have a new organiser for our program and she has taken some different directions. A portrait in oils and this mixed media work are the very different demos that she has arranged.

Fiona Payne was last nights demonstrator, a very active local artist. After starting with a lively white wax layer, she used water colour paints to prepare a background on a heavyweight cartridge paper. And she worked in size A1, I think (A0 is too large - I guess I should have asked) working on 2 paintings at once  to give time for drying between layers. She said that she often worked on several pieces at once in her studio, when time was not limited although after cropping and selection the number coming thru the process was limited.

She added details with media including acrylic inks and solid, water-soluble "acrylic ink sticks" (Inktense) continuing with the layering process layering. All the way thru the process she liberally used a water spray to induce mixing and runs. Of course the resulting abstracts are not completely repeatable but the immediacy can lead to stunning results.

Final details are added using soft pastels, here is an example of her work, titled "Ragley Flowers".


See this and more of Fiona's work on her web site. When she showed us a print of this piece, she was showing how two paintings could be selected from the one work by cropping into approximately two halves; the upper and lower halves of the original, in effect. Selecting the final composition is the final act in the process. In a piece created with such a free process, there are bound to be some areas which you like and some that do not seem so "happy". Make sure that the cropped work meets your highest expectations of good composition and imagery.

Finally, It should be noted that Fional seldom uses brushes ( she claims she only has three) but uses almost anything else that is capable of making a mark. Adding colour direct from the glass droppers from the ink bottles, spreading and making marks with "your flexible friend" (- credit card, etc), she also uses a roller, the wrong end of the brush,etc and more.

I am inspired to "have-a-go" at the next art group meeting, I don't have the acrylic inks but will find a substitute. After all rules are made to be broken. Hope to have something to show you next time.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Surplus Craft Stash - Need to find a new home!

One of the reasons that I combined this blog with my painting blog was that I saw myself spending increasingly little time with art that did not include painting.

I had decided to go thru my stash which I have collected over the past few years and have a clear out. Started throwing out stuff today and after binning large amounts of craft paper and images I had printed out (when it seemed a good idea), plus a fair bit of paper ephemera, I had to stop as I came to the boxes of more interesting stuff.

 I decided that I would try to sift out the crap and bag the rest and offer it to anyone who may be interested. Once I have got myself into some sort of order, I will be photographing the contents of those "bags" and offering them free to anyone who might be able to give them a good home.

I have a button collection which includes items from my mother-in-laws sewing box (she died recently at 102, however no promises about the source of the buttons), also buttons I have collected from clothes being thrown out and even some purchased collections. I have a bag of clock/watch parts, a collection of off-cuts of materials from haberdasheries and around the home. And those bits of ribbons which seem to come on even chocolate boxes and greeting cards. I squirrelled away so much. And don't ask about the watches clocks and keys, etc (steam punk anyone?).

These are typical but not the actual collections - photos to follow soon.


I do not know when the job will be complete but it is likely to be weeks rather than days - so much happening at home at the moment.

Oh yes, lots of rubber stamps; mounted and unmounted and the ink pads which will become redundant.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Development of a new acrylic painting - part 2

Here I am presenting the completed acrylic painting, which I started and posted on 18th April.

Not sure if this is what I had intended that first week, I rarely leave completing a painting to a second session let alone leaving it for so long. I normally know exactly what I am going to do and aim to complete in one two hour session.

There are fewer daffodils than I expected, and which appear in the reference work, although I do like this version and have had many positive comments from my colleagues in the art group.


I do think it has a very definite spring-time flavour, in fact much more so than the original reference painting. Is mine better? I am not quite saying that but they are different. This is always a feature of my work when "copying" from a reference; I study the original and then create a new work in my own style and do not try to copy the original exactly. In fact, quite the opposite. I select my own colours and work to my own composition. This can lead to images very different to that which I am working from.

Hope you do like this, not my usual subject matter although it is a landscape, but I think I like it. Time will tell ....

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Winged Man - After Odilon Redon

I have just got to tell you a story of an old (early) pastel painting of mine based on an oil painting by Odilon Redon.

When I first started to learn "pastelling" techniques, I used to spend time copying old masters, often oil paintings but anything was open season as far as I was concerned in a quest to develop my own style and the techniques I wanted to explore. One of the sketches which I most liked was painted using The Winged Man by Redon. I still like it and enjoy looking at it.

Today, I wanted to remind myself of the original media used by Redon for his painting, I thought it was oil but I wanted to confirm it for a post I was writing for my FB page. I googled ... and found a copy of my version on a blog which seemed to purport to be a serious art blog. I am not sure! There, some way down the page, I found my own painting amongst a large number of works by the master himself. It is actually signed by myself so how could this blogger have made the mistake? Or did he not actually know or care?

I can only assume that by posting the work onto Flickr, I have put my work out there and it has gotten mixed up with the original somewhere along the line.


Can you see my signature (JRD) at the bottom right? Just for comparison you can see a copy of the original here.

I am not sure whether to be flattered or to be angry that my painting has been used without permission, it is supposed to be copyrighted (all rights reserved) - so much for Flicker's categorisations. I think perhaps, It is slightly more the former. And we all know that most people on the internet think that copyright is something that does not apply to them.

It is interesting to see that the colours in my painting are much more vivid than in the original, something I had not really noticed before.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Development of a new acrylic painting

I decided to work "large" with this latest piece, all of 8 inches by 6 inches - well at twice as large as my post cards, it is large as far as my last few weeks are concerned. Quite honestly I was looking for some card to continue with the post-card sized theme and came across a couple of slightly larger (but quite thick) pieces. Not wanting the bother of cutting these, I decided to use them as they were.

First of all, I prepared the surfaces with an acrylic gesso. The miniatures had been painted with quite "wet" paint, the acrylic had been diluted so that I could work wet-into-wet as if with watercolour. This time I was going to work with paint straight out of the tubes to try and get a textured effect. This was because the reference photo I had chosen was a photo of an oil painting from an old art magazine, and I wanted to try to achieve the same effect. I did not want the paint sinking into the surface of the card.

The painting I had chosen to work with, was from a 1998 (?) copy of The Artist/writer was Edward Noott. A scene of springtime daffodils growing in profusion at the edge of a road (?) with hedges and hills in a distant background. Here is a poor photograph of the painting from the magazine.


In this sort of subject, well in most subjects really, I like to paint the background first and then add the details in the foreground. In this way the background can be seen through the foreground subjects and I do not have to consider what I should do in the gaps - assuming there will be some.

My background looked like this:-


Not exactly a copy but that is how I work. I take the main elements from the reference and "do my own thing" with them. Not too sure it is exactly what I had in mind but good enough to work over at the group meeting next week.

Incidentally, a few of my colleagues thought that it was worth leaving it as it is - I suppose it does have a simple symmetry with a bright and airy feeling, but I shall finish what I have started. Hope to be posting the results next week.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Surrealistic Sunset In Acrylic

Still on a role with these miniature paintings!

My fourth post-card sized painting in this media and format. I don't know why but I do love sunsets and the colourful displays which are possible. This painting is actually based on a reference photograph which I "borrowed". I never actually copy - I am not clever enough for that, but inspect my reference photos (maybe try one or two thumbnail sketches) and decide how I am going to tackle my version.

I decide on:-

  • Size (although to be fair this is often decided and I look for subjects to match)
  • Format (portrait / landscape)
  • Media (for me, the choice is watercolour, pastel or acrylic)
  • Colours (I often use alternative colours to express the mood I am trying to capture)
  • How to simplify the chosen subject (I usually do simplify most of my paintings as it is colour and texture which I use mostly in my artwork)
  • Exactly which elements of the reference to include (or I may add something else to tell the story I am describing)
  • Lastly, knowing what I am going to do, I decide how I am going to tackle it. Maybe which colours to lay first, will the colours be built on layers or individually laid down and such mundane but important constructs. Will the be laid wet-on-wet or otherwise. Do I need to do any drawing before putting down any colour.
Finally, I am ready. And once I do start the actual painting I aim to finish it as quickly as possible. I am not like many of my art group colleagues who will spend week after week on the same painting. Often necessary for the realistic work they choose to paint. I am a fan of the slap it on and watch it dry school of art. I always did like the impressionists way of working. Work quickly to capture the light of the moment.

Well after all that crap, here is the painting itself:



In the reference photo, the foreground trees / bushes were in silhouette, I decided to capture an earlier time before the light was completely gone. The foreground is therefore completely from my own artistic dictionary.

Well there it is, I hope you like it. Having used up all my postcards(?) I will have to try something else next week. If you enjoy my miniatures, check out one of my posts on my atc-sized miniature canvas paintings - also acrylic.