Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Otterly Delightful.....

I saw this photo by David Webb on PMP and knew it was one I needed to paint!!

Otters are such lovely mammals, generally playful and sociable (though can be very territorial and aggressive) and populations have been gradually increasing thanks to environmental projects all over the country. Introduction of pesticides in the 50's resulted in a massive decline of populations until they were almost eradicated from the UK in the early 80's.... although it is difficult to accurately assess current numbers as they are secretive, nocturnal animals, populations are definitely on the increase and though they are a protected species, they are no longer endangered in the UK.

So back to the painting.... no drawing, that bit is getting easier, but I do think a bit more planning might help, as I just waded in with this one!! Not always the best idea as my brush often does it's own thing and places marks where I have no intentions of making them!!

I used

Permanent Rose
Burnt Umber
Raw Sienna
Touch of Cerulean

and also used some white acrylic for the whiskers... that's another reason for planning a bit more... to reserve the whites and though I wouldn't normally try and reserve the whiskers, I would always tend to use a touch of white acrylic, generally reserving whites is tricky at the best of times, and when you are essentially drawing with the brush and the brush is as wayward as mine, you can get problems!!

Friday, 26 April 2013

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!!

I have had both these images stored for a while just waiting for the moment! Both are from photos on PMP, the swans one of Gary Jones,  a terrific wild life photographer and the Rhino by another super photographer, Nigel (ESP).

I did these two at the same time.... am sure many of you would think that was crazy that I might need to be in the zone especially with the two images being so different, one so serene and the other so imposing but I don't seem to struggle switching from one to another while I'm waiting for them to dry.

I really liked the peacefulness of the first one and the subdued colours (I know, bet you can't believe that!!) and it is such a change from my usual style and it was the light which drew me to the second image. I have been working on trying to achieve light for quite a while and am pleased with the effects I got with this.

Interestingly I have used the same limited palette for both these images...

Perylene Maroon
Cobalt Blue
Raw Sienna

and a touch of UB for the really dark areas in both. I wanted to try the Perylene Maroon and I just sensed cobalt was the right blue to give me the greyish shades on the Rhino with a touch of raw sienna in parts. I used mainly Raw Sienna and Cobalt Blue for the swan with a touch of maroon to give me the subtle shade of the water.

I am quite fascinated by the very different paintings created using exactly the same colours, each has a completely different mood and feel, just goes to show how versatile watercolour is and of course I'm not biased!!

This was quite a quick painting to do and feel it needed less not more whereas I spent a lot more time on e Rhino where I used more layers and glazes while still trying to keep a loose feel.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Colour Choices and the Elephant

Well.... having decided to paint subjects where I feel I have strengths I have had a productive couple of days. Today I am hoping to paint for most of the day and am sticking to an animal theme, as part of my efforts to build up a themed collection. I don't want to be known solely as an animal painter but have been having a lot of fun with the birds I have painted recently and decided to work on this elephant this morning.

I do know people say they recognise my work and I think that is partly because of the colours I use so decided to step out of the box today and use a combination I have never used before... not a hint of purple in sight!! I used my colour planets to check out my ideas and liked the look of the colours I chose... a bit random but somehow they worked, so the colours were

Perylene Green (of course!!)
Helio Turquoise
Burnt Sienna
Alizarin Crimson
Raw Sienna (tried quin gold but that didn't seem to give me the feel I wanted)

I could have used any colours, as you will know from some of my previous posts, as long as you don't fiddle and let the colours mix happily on the page, lots of unexpected combinations will work for you and create unique and interesting work. There are so many colours we can try... forgot to use Perylene Marroon on this, I think that would have worked well too.

I know a lot of artists stick to a very limited palette of say about 12 colours and that works really well for them...... I guess they understand how these paints work and get to know them "intimately" but I prefer to have lots of colours and treat it as a challenge to find a combination which works and is appropriate for my subject. What I do however is stick to a limited colour choice for each painting rarely using more than 5 or 6 colours in any piece and often less. That way I get a harmonious feel to the painting with the colours echoing around my subject. It's a long time since I painted an elephant apart from the xmas one and I will do more as I have enjoyed this one... no drawing by the way... that part seems to be finally getting better!!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Drama, Intent and/or Fun!!

We were having a discussion at a session with Bolton Art circle where I was painting the cockerel and emu. I painted both without drawing and was becoming pleased with what was happening before my eyes and 3 of us began chatting about our work, all very different. One paints dramatic landscapes of the North west and Lakes, mainly in acrylic though is very talented in other media, the other, wonderful detailed graphite portraits, and me from the "slap it on and see" school of art. We were all admiring one another's work and I voiced my observations that my own work was sort of lightweight with very little drama or intent. I tend to paint something and it really is a question of ploughing in and hoping for the best!! Those of you who read my blog regularly will realise that the best happens more often these days ( not mentioning the streetscapes I have been struggling with recently!!) but can still be a haphazard affair.

Anyway the consensus of opinion on my work was that they enjoyed the free way of painting and my use of colour, comments which have been said to me before and which also might signify my style developing.... one lady said after she had seen my painting of Holly, she recognised the emu as being one of mine and that she saw a definite style. I then asked about this feeling of it being a bit frivolous and the reply seemed to be that they would like to inject more colour into their work and that sometimes the idea of intent and drama seems to be a case of "The Emperors New Clothes." The feeling was that skill and techniques have been sidelined for ideas and possible shock factors. We came to the conclusion, that the art world today, while it may be full of creativity, intent and drama might be losing other elements like drawing and painting skills which are more fundamental to my work.

Now while this was music to my ears, as it was partly what I was wanting to hear, I wonder if I should start trying to create something a bit more meaningful. But will that stop me enjoying what I'm doing? I start each painting with renewed optimisim... buoyed on by either previous success or failure and while I have more idea as to how I might want something to look as my understanding increases, I find my brush often just does what it wants and I get carried away which sometimes works and other times doesn't. I think I am a brush stroke painter (saw this on a blog somewhere talking about brushstroke versus wash painters) and while  I don't think I am an instinctive painter as a lot of wonderful artists are,  I do feel my use of colour and brush sometimes take on a life of their own. So do I try and inject more intent and drama, or do I carry on simply painting just what I fancy, what inspires me in the best way I know how?

I think I am swaying to the latter... all I want to do is paint.....yes I constantly try and push myself to achieve better work, but I love the process and get excited about the magic I see happening on the page. If that means my work has little meaning other than what you see then so be it. I try to create interest with light, tone, colour and texture and maybe the intent will develop as I develop my expertise. In the meantime here is my latest effort.... no drawing, colour chosen I guess instinctively.... intent, well painted a little tongue in cheek as I wanted to portray the comical features which seem to be so characteristic of these birds.

Sharon Whitley's April Challenge

Sharon posts a couple of images each month and as some months ago I was advised that cockerels sell, thought I would add this to my collection!! I hasten to add, cockerels might sell but none of mine have so far!! But I like painting cockerels and have been working towards doing them with no predrawing and am happy to say no drawing whatsoever on this!! Progress!!

I am doing another small exhibition with Bolton Art Circle in May so need to make some decisions about which paintings I am going to take and you know me and decisions!! I think I may frame this. I am trying to build up a collection of paintings which have a theme, so it may be that I show only animals and flowers rather than just a mismatch of a whole variety of subjects.... not sure what would be for the best... any ideas???

Thursday, 18 April 2013

My latest Brusho Painting

Have been working on a few nudes and this was one of the images we used in the last workshop with Joanne Boon Thomas . I liked my attempt in the workshop though think I  prefer the softer effects here and the drawing is better as I did a faint pencil sketch. In the workshop the drawing was done with a waterproof marker pen and I personally like the more subtle effects here. Joanne had done one or two studies using this sort of colour scheme which I liked and as I wanted to use a different palette to those I had used in the workshop, I tried this one.

I absolutely love working with Brusho but am finding I have so much to paint and not enough time that I don't get to practice with it as much as I would like and for all of you new to Brusho it really is like all painting..... practice, practice then more practice!! I also believe Joanne's book and DVD is close to completion so as soon as it is available, don't delay in ordering your copies, I think demand is going to be huge and would hate any of you to have to wait if they need to do a repeat run!

Anyway here is the painting, hope you like, done on half imperial, it is good to go bigger with Brusho... it  enables you to paint in such a free way and really lends itself to larger work whereas goig bigger with watercolour can be more intimidating.....

Here is a link to the Brusho Secrets site in case any of you would like to purchase Joanne's book and DVD.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Been to Ken Bromley's..... Again!!!

After going to Pam's workshop last week I decided I needed some Perylene Green!!!  This wasn't a mere want it was a genuine need, you know how it is.....so there was nothing else for it, I just had to go today!!I did need some paper for someone in my group but the paint was calling me!!

Some of you may be horrified to learn but I have done this next painting from a photo of a statue of some boxing hares.... I wanted to use my new paint and when I was looking through my images this one jumped out!! Taken from a photo by Nicola B on PMP. I have been looking for a photo of boxing hares for a while and my photographic skills are pretty dire and I am always forgetting to take my camera with me.... was so mad when we went for a walk on Saturday as there were two ducks sitting on a bank about 3 feet away from us and a small bird which was so tame was within touching distance and of course where was my camera???? Had to settle for a cream scone and a Cappuccino at Rivington Barn to make up for it!!

Anway I digress..... for some reason I decided my new shade and Alizarin crimson would be the perfect choice for this subject. I didn't draw any of this and have tried to keep a loose feel.. don't know about me having a cream scone.... think the one on the left might have had a few too many cream teas as he is looking a bit "porky.!!"

As for the green, Pam, said it was a lovely intense dark colour and that it was a touch grey and that describes it perfectly so a subtle but rich shade which I thought married perfectly with the crimson.... the colours look a little more subdued on here than in real life but I think you can get the idea.

I have been working on more street scenes, and in particular a cafe scene and am not really pleased with the results which is why I haven't updated my blog with much work recently, might give them a rest for a while but I don't like to be beaten and I can promise I will come back to them. I am coming to the conclusion that my strengths are animals, flowers, and portraits with the odd nude thrown in and maybe I should stick to those for the time being..... I feel I also need to do some more landscapes too but not sure I'm ready for those yet either!!! Maybe a waterfall like the one Pam did would be a good start, will keep you posted!!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Pam Potter demonstration at Bolton Art Circle

What always pleases and impresses me is when an artist does a demo they haven't done before and shares their reservations about whether or not it will turn out!!! Makes us all feel a bit better I'm sure and so it was with Pam. She had decided to do a rather complex waterfall scene which she had drawn and masked previously so that she could spend her time sharing her techniques, tips and hints about the variety of media she uses.

As many of you will know who follow my blog regularly am a bit of a watercolour kinda gal, if fact not much room for anything else in my world but I have to admit I was really tempted by what Pam showed us and might be tempted out of the old "comfort zone" and give some of the things a try.

So although Pam uses watercolour, she combines it with other media such as wax crayons, both soluble and non soluble,  pastels, inks, collage, charcoal, graphite, a variety of other products such as acrylic luminescence medium and opaque flakes to name but a few and shared lots of hints as to how and why she might use something in a particular piece. The most interesting thing I found however was how she used her paint tubes to paint with.. She squeezes them and uses the edge to spread and draw with the paint then sprays and lets it all run together and the results are that she achieves some stunning rich, dark colour combos which remain beautifully fresh and vibrant. She uses a glue applicator to create lines and texture within these lovely mixes and to spread the paint around and only rarely in the whole demo did she use a brush.

Pam has an intense love of colour and texture and creates paintings with a contemporary feel using a mixed media approach, she is, most importantly, not afraid to experiment something I think we can all learn from rather than always sticking to what we know and are comfortable with!!

 I love to see the effects of  watercolour mixing and doing it's magic on my page and there is a real challenge in trying to get these effects by skill and technique and using only watercolour and  I am not saying I am prepared give up that challenge and throw in the towel,  but I do think there are effects which though different are quite wonderful as well which cannot necessarily be obtained by pure watercolour.

So here is Pam's finished piece, the texture and special effects can't be seen too well on here but believe me... it was absolutely stunning and encompasses all that I love in both watercolour and art in general, colour, light and texture which is why I may be tempted have a go at something like this!!