Monday, 31 March 2008

pastel portrait - of Chagall

Here I am again with another pastel painting. Not what I would call a masterpiece, but another step in the long road back to producing drawings/paintings. I have been quite busy of late and have not kept my promise to myself of starting a sketch book to try to recover some of my old skills. Too much abstact painting and papercrafting/craftwork has left me feeling just a little lost when it comes to this sort of thing. I never was what you would call a draftsman but I did feel that I could do a fair job, I have a lot of hard work ahead.

For a look at the original try here and for more work by Marc Chagall (an artist I admire tremendously) try this link

My own poor version of this self-portrait shows that I have a love of colours which is not evident in the original. I can't resist using the brighter colours which jump out of the box of pastels at me. I evidently need to retrain my hand to work in co-ordination with my eyes. I have lapsed back into the approach of drawing what I want to see or what I think is there rather than what I actually see. Anyway, here it is:-

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actual size 14 X 10 inches
Look at any area in detail and it is quite easy to spot the differences which contribute to the overall failure to capture the likeness. The ear, for example, I have drawn shadows which aren't on the original... but which I would have expected to be there. The eyes in my version are smaller and closer together. The nose is more bulbous and the mouth.... well I had so much trouble with that it is not true.
However I post the portrait here as another marker in my return journey. I must get out my sketchbook and get back to seeing what is there. It was always a problem with me and I have just allowed the discipline to drift away. Possibly one of the reasons why I always liked landscape painting. More freedom and less hassle trying to get things "right".
Anyway back to papercrafting and altered art this morning, my sketch book will have to wait.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

ATC, My Favourite Things

Just a quick entry to show one ATC I did for a swap on the theme of my favourite things, for me there is no competition. It has to be my guitars.

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again couldn't be simpler. Have been taxing my brain with too many new techniques lately and felt like a well-earned break.

BTW I have started posting videos of some original material on You Tube. No slick edits, or sound production. I stuck a digital camera on the dining room table and recorded a song with out rehearsal and accepted the first take with warts and all.

This is a song called "Going To The City" and is the first in a continuing series. If I get too involved in this I may start another blog just for my musical activities but just for now the two hobbies will have to get along together.

Rock on, brothers and sisters

have I told you about....

My cardmaking activities?

I don't do many cards but I belong to a group which I joined when I first started collaging which has a number of "card crafters" (no offense meant) and we have regular swaps based on greeting cards as well as ATC's. The problem is that my OH sees these cards, and requests ( as they do )the odd card for family and friends. Just thought I would share a couple of these with you since other activities have been very slow over easter.

the first is one of these swaps, a very simple but effective card, I like to think. Sometimes simple is good.

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The second is a card I did for my son and his wife, actually based on one I did for a swap

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This is a card I did for mother-in-law

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This is one for a swap based on a movie theme, no prizes for guessing the name of the movie

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Sometimes, I guess we all need to relax

Friday, 21 March 2008

Digital images

I have been seeing such a lot of digitally altered and enhanced images of late that I thought that I would have to have a go. I downloaded a free copy of Photoplus from serif and started playing. I am amazed at the plethora of new vocabulary, completely maddening for someone not versed in the ways of the digital image world. Anyway I started to pick one or two things up and using two of my original paintings, I have constructed ( is that the right word?) my first digital painting. The landscape is a watercolour and the portrait is a pastel painting.

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It seems almost de rigeur to include some text/prose in these sort of images so I have included a single word which I thought the overall image was saying to me - you might disagree!
A very simple start, but we all have to begin somewhere. And I have now started to get to grips with layers. Not something that I found easy, I must admit.
Just had to have another play.... This time I have used an abstract pastel as a background and two other images. The winged man ( a pastel after redon), and a male portrait. I have added a couple of picture brushes and again a little prose (?) for effect.

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I think I may well enjoy playing with this new toy. And to top it all, I have recently bought a graphics tablet which had lain almost untouched. I now have a reason to use this. I will be "experimenting" and hoping to produce some interesting images.
Are these digital paintings? Digitally manipulated photos? Altered art? I am not sure what to call the products of these toys, any reasonable offers?

Monday, 17 March 2008

Art versus Craft

I mentioned in my last post that I had been contemplating why I had forsaken painting/drawing for collage and altered art............. I am going to try and explain some of my conclusions here.

I do this without casting any aspersions about either one or the other in terms of skill or kudos. as far as I am concerned fine art is no more deserving of any special place in the pantheon of artisitic endeavours than artistic crafting if I can use that term. And I use the term only for simplicity, don't ask me to define it. However I do recognise that there are some differences and my purpose here is to compare my own thoughts on drawing/painting ( which for convenience I shall refer to as painting) and collage/altered art ( which I shall refer to as collage). I hope that no one will take offence, as none is intended.

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This is a fairly recent pastel sketch (A4, I do love the black paper) the question for me here is , " why have I not been doing much painting recently?"
I guess I have always found it difficult to decide on a subject ( scroll for several entries on sketching)and I have written in the past about how I enjoy sketching. Often using quite small sketches to explore subjects from the point of view of colour and composition. This is one reason why I took to aceo paintings so quickly when I first discovered them.

I do seem however to have lost this "skill", I never seem to have time now to sit and sketch meaningfully. When I paint I seem to launch into a subject before I have fully explored it. this often means that I am less than satisfied with the final outcome.

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This is a fairly recent water colour abstract ( approx 10x8 inch, my first choice of media) and this is another reason for the lack of sketching. Nearly always I will paint an abstract in one go, straight off. There are time when I do sketch the ideas first as for canvasses for a recent exhibition but this is probably an exception. here it was because of the time constraint and the fact that I wanted to do a series.

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This was my very first aceo ( which incidentally sold on ebay) and was done from a photograph. Many of my aceo's were, although not all by any means. But I think this is where the "rot" set in. I started doing small paintings rather than sketches and expected to get a saleable product from each one. I did well at first but seemed to run into a period when my painting just dried up. I was painting to sell rather than painting for myself . All the enjoyment seemed to have drained out of the action of creating a painting. I have found it again on odd ocassions but lost my appetite for art until I found collage.

This corresponded with coming across web site giving a means of swapping and finding a stash of old family photographs dating back to my grandparents' early married life. I made my first collaged ATC using photos from this stash.

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This is actually three of my mother's brothers, they went to the three different services during WW2. I was hooked and have been trying out and trying to learn new techniques ever since. One of the reasons is the swapping ( I have written about this before on this blog) but I feel that by collecting items and spreading them out to select bits and pieces to use and being able to move and rearrange them before finally glueing them in place, I have found some of the fun of my early sketching. The excitement from this and the subsequent fun of swapping has made creating art fun again for me.
But I do want to paint.... so bearing this in mind I have invested in a pocket sketch book and will be filling up pages regularly. Perhaps I will post the results regularly to let you see how I am getting on. Of course I will keep on collaging, now that I have found it I can't see any going back. Both aspects will have to co-exist!
All the photos here have been posted before and if you would like to see more then the posts on here and in my previous blog on freewebs are still available.
Here's looking to a creative future....

Thursday, 13 March 2008

new pastel painting - I'm on a roll

Yes, another painting. Went to my art group the other night and actually did a pastel painting. Not terribly original, but mine none the less.

I have been thinking about why I am so addicted to collage/assemblage and associated crafts again. I will have to expound upon this idea further in my next post. But for now, suffice to say that I was looking for inspiration and browsing thro' a couple of art books which I had taken along for the purpose. One a biography of Paul Klee and the other a similar book about Marc Chagall. I happened upon a painting by Chagall with a figure apparently drifting in the air (as many of his do) which stirred something, however I did not like the colour(s) of the painting. White and Blue... seemed rather cold and impersonal. I had earlier noted a painting by Klee which I had considered as a starter for ten and decided to borrow the colours to raise the temperature of the subject.

My pastel painting consists of layering colour upon colour to give an effect which I really like. I will thoroughly 'fix' each layer in turn and put three or four layers down in most areas. I often start with a complementary of the final colour which gives a tremendous depth to the painting, I feel.

Anyway here is my unamed composition based on works by these two great artists.

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The drawing leaves a lot to be desired, After two years of virtually nothing but abstracts and collaging, I would be the first to criticise it. Both accuracy and proportion are badly in need of improvement. However , I post this here because it is I hope the first step on the road back to aquiring the skills in painting and drawing which I seem to have mislaid. See my gallery for paintings/drawings from before my abstract period. I intend to carry on posting here the results of the long road back, whatever the outcome along the way.

BTW this painting is quite small, having been done on an A4 sheet of black Canson paper. (Raven by Daler-Rowney).

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

New watercolour ACEO and another ATC

Had some very bad news yesterday evening... a cousin, who is more like a sister to me, was told by her doctors that her fight against cancer has virtually been lost and that she should consider that she perhaps had only four weeks to live. It has ben a long struggle and before Christmas it looked as though she had beaten it, but a check up showed it had come back with a vengeance. Will be seeing her later today but what can one say...............?

In the meantime I am posting a couple of items which I had done yesterday. Terrible weather and decided to stay in anad make art. The first is another ATC from the goodie bag bits and pieces described in my last post. I did however use a figure from the free samples provided regularly by Dover publishing. A figure always seems to be a central focus in my ATC's - perhaps because they are so often absent in my paintings.

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The second photo shows a painting (aceo-sized) of Haveringland church (Norfolk, UK). This was done from a sketch I did a little while ago. The sketch was a little hurried and I believe I may have got the architecture wrong on the tower - but hey... that's what artists' licence is all about.

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It is only a very loose, quick painting, but it feels good to be using brushes again for something other than glue.
NB: Just checked Wikipedia; the tower is actually round, my apologies to all concerned with the village or the church. Will be trying to do another from a photo off the web which corrects this anomaly.
PS is the atc above a collage or do the 3-D flowers/jewels combinations make it an assemblage. Or is it something else. As a 'newish' crafter I am confused by the terminology.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

An ATC from a bag of swapped bits

Ok, here is the first new piece as promised, My group, New Inspirations, was set a challenge to make an ATC from a small bag of craft goodies. A swap with a difference!

Took me over an hour, not my cup of tea at all and I felt at one stage (when I gave up on the first attempt) that Angie had got me beaten. Lovely goodies, ribbons, papers, flowery stamp, flowers,buttons and some gilded text but not something that I would usually go for.

Well, I did decide not to be beaten and set about it on a different tack.Took the paper flowers and painted them with acrylic and layered yellow on red. The blue buttons were to be added last. I used purple rather than black for the stamping ( less obvious??) and put two ofthe words together although it sounds like a film title rather than english. I cut the painted flowers in two and positioned them on the backing, one of them off the edge, so it needed cutting again. I added a jewelled cloth flower and had cut a butterfly out from another of the backing papers which needed company so got out a couple of die-cuts from the same paper. Put a little ribbon at the bottom and decided that I had a half-decent atc after all.

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Had a few panicky moments when I thought this was never going to happen tho'.

Thanks for the challenge Angie.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

coloured pencil sketch

Wow it seems such a long time since my last post, I have been away over the last couple of weekends and time at the PC keyboard has been very limited. My wife gets quite uppity if I seek out an internet cafe while we are away, don't know why but there it is!!!

The first weekend was a visit to Dublin to visit an aunt of my wife's who has been in hospital for some time, we had intended to take her a couple of presents. One of these was a sketch book and some coloured pencils to pass some time but unfortunately, we didn't think that she would be up to it so bought them away. I decided that I could put them to some use. That evening in the hotel I picked up a postcard and started to idly sketch away. It has been so long since I did any "real" drawing that I am afraid it seems a little simplistic, I felt very rusty - but as I have no new work to post I thought that i would share this with you anyway.

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I seem to have lost the sky in the scanning operation but never mind, we all know the sky is there, don't we? the major problem is the correction (?) of the shape of the simple building . there was a time when such a simple use of perspective would have been no problem. i keep saying that I want to paint again, well... I will have to get in a little drawing practice first.
This last weekend, we decided to spend a couple of days in the Cotswold, a beautiful location in the heart of the English countryside. Wish I could show you a few pictures but would you believe that I didn't take my camera. In the event althought it was quite cold, the sun shone brilliantly every day and I found myself longing to be taking pictures. But we had a great time, I added to my craft book library and we came back much more relaxed and ready to get on with life. If you would like to see photos of Bourton-on-the-water where we stayed, what better than the villages official web-site.
Hope to have more art to post in the next few days.