Saturday, 27 October 2012

I Think I Need to Get Out More!!!

Ok, the scientist in me has reared it's head again and I have been pondering my world of art for the millionth time!! After my recent "success" at the Brusho workshop it got me thinking about how my progress might go with Brusho and why even if this is a "one painting wonder" I will try, try and try again!!

I did courses on animal behaviour during my studies and then went on to do a course as a mature student on child psychology and one thing that has stuck in my mind was about positive reinforcement. Studies show that the best way to modify, change or encourage certain behaviours is through the technique of reward and positive reinforcement. Now what surprised me most was that reward after each behaviour is not the best way to create the most lasting changes. After a short period of constant reward whilst learning the behaviour, it has been found that intermittent, irregular reward promotes the most consistent response of the required behaviour... in other words, if you want your dog to shake it's paw, after you have achieved the behaviour, the reward should be withdrawn to every so often......the animal always exhibits the behaviour on command as it never know when it will get the treat, so it behaves just in case... clever eh??? Still with me???? If  you happen to be interested in any this psychological stuff which of course I am, you might find my Nature versus Nurture and Right Brain/ Left Brain blogs to your liking.

So how does this relate to me and my painting???? Well I can't say at the beginning I had much positive reinforcement (for me that is not really praise from a tutor, for others could be, but in my case more to do with producing a piece of work that I think is any good), but since I have improved on my journey I think the thing that presses me on now is the not knowing whether the "next" piece will turn out.... the turning out bit being the positive reinforcement, the not knowing being the part which encourages me to pursue the reward. So the elation of the painting makes me want to try again but if I don't achieve the end result (no reward) I am programmed to try again just in case next time I do (irregular, intermittent reward).

Ok maybe I should get out in severe danger of becoming a bit of a geek here......  but I do think it is something tutors need to consider when taking beginners' classes in painting.... the newcomers need to produce something which will encourage them to try again, something simple but something that gives them a glimpse of what they can do. Then maybe they will be encouraged to repeat the behaviour time and time again and as we all know practice makes perfect and the repeated act of painting will help them progress.

Finally,  if you have read to here, I promise, I will get out more!!!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

How Much Excitement Can a Gal Stand!!!

Have just been to the second of a 3 day workshop on Brusho led by Joanne Boon Thomas. You may remember I attended the first ever workshop she did on Brusho at the beginning of the Summer, check out my previous blog here. So you would be right in calculating that this was my third ever attempt with Brusho, as I haven't actually done much practice at home with it ( more of why not later!!). This is what I did today....

We did a quick warm up on a smaller sheet and then did the drawing with black marker pen from an image Joanne had sketched on location in Kettlewell, a lovely place in the Yorkshire Dales.

We then chose our colours and, as I just love this combination, I decided on purple, turquoise and yellow. I had a feeling this was going to be "the one" as I have been learning and carefully watching how Joanne does it...... so yes while there may be areas I would do slightly differently (not much though) overall I am really delighted with this.... Brusho is even more unpredictable than watercolour but the mixing of colours you can get on the page is just fantastic and as Joanne says it gets very addictive!!! You can get washes, drips, splashes, texture, the list is endless.....

What I really want to share in this blog is the fact that it has only taken me three sessions to produce something like this (and the first one was so long ago I didn't really remember too much of the way to apply it, so I'm only counting it as two sessions!!!) and it wasn't just me who produced a piece like this, the whole workshop did so well with it and every one was so incredibly different. Just like watercolour you need to get a "feel" for it, but as it behaves differently to watercolour different ways of handling it are used, though in other respects it can be used just like watercolour.

 I don't know about you but I am really thrilled and impressed with this piece and really after only 2 sessions, I think is a credit to Joanne and her teaching of this product that has really made the progress possible.

Joanne has been booked to take a Brusho painting holiday at the lovely location of Bandouille, an idyllic painting location in France which I did a Blog about in April. Just think how much progress you would make in the week if this is what can be done in two, three hour sessions!!! I know the holiday will include some watercolour but it will be concentrating more on Brusho.... sheer bliss, don't miss out by thinking too long and hard about whether or not you will go!!!

As for me, I am really going to spend some more time developing my Brusho techniques now.... I have intended to go outside on many occasions and have a go but as many of you will know, our "Summer" has been non existent here in the North West so I need to devise a way of painting inside and not get everywhere covered in it.  I am a messy painter at the best of times and I get so excited with Brusho I get myself into even bigger messes, not good when I tend to paint in our conservatory, mainly because my art room has been such a mess..... but it's tidy now and I might set it up as my Brusho workshop.... I believe Tesco sell a plastic coated paper sheet for about £2 which I am going to get to cover everything then I can splash and play to my heart's content!!!

Can you tell I'm a teeny little bit excited?!?!

Monday, 15 October 2012

My 2nd session at Westhoughton Art Group

This group is always so enthusiastic and always give me a lovely welcome so not surprising I enjoy going there!!! Dave Hendry who runs the group seems to be a victim of his own success and now has a waiting list of people who want to join....

I decided to do the barn door again as it is a good exercise to show mixing paint on the paper, isn't a difficult drawing and is possible to complete in one session.

I don't know about the members of the group but I was absolutely delighted with the work they produced and having forgotten to take some photos at Heaton last week remembered today and asked for permission to post here. This is the image we worked from, the old barn door is courtesy of Max Hemingway from PMP

This was the version I did today

I kept to a limited palette of UB, burnt sienna, schmincke violet, and raw sienna with some cad red for the door and a tiny touch of cad yellow for the foliage at the bottom..... and here are the stars of the show!!!
Lovely stonework on this especially in the lintel above the door and good light on the door with really rich darks underneath.

Fabulous colour choices, we chatted about this and I agreed with the suggestion that a red door wouldn't work as well and what did I think about a blue door... fab, that's what I think!!!

Lovely soft subtle effects on this and gorgeous stonework, lovely colour mixing on the paper!!

Some great light on this in contrast to the rich darks under the step, nice rough brush textures on the door.

This has some really beautiful paint mixing wet in wet for the stonework and though looks a bit pale on here created a lovely effect in "Real Life." Not quite finished, we chatted about adding some more darks to the stonework to give the impression of the dark crevices between the stones.

I love the bright colours on this...... fearlessly applied...... looks like someone really had fun doing this!!!

Some gorgeous colour mixing going on here on the stonework and lovely foliage particularly bottom left.

Like the stonework on the left in particular... looks very effective and again nice effect of the light on the door.

Slightly different palette on this but works nicely...... good dry brush on the door, nice rich darks and well painted foliage... nice colour mixing there especially...

I think from seeing all these it is quite obvious that the group were all keen to give mixing the paint on the paper a really good go.....these paintings show just how well they did even though I don't think any of them are really used to working that way and am hoping to have convinced them to keep trying. I am the first one to say that it isn't easy and it takes some practice but I hope I managed to show them it is worth persevering with this way of painting because once you have grasped it, it really does make your work come alive... well done to you all and hope to see you again soon!!!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

My New Class Begins and Autumn Leaves!!!


I arrived early with hubbie in tow to do the "blue" jobs like putting the table and chairs out ready and waiting for the group to start arriving... must admit I was quite nervous about whether everyone would turn up, I had a few apologies from those who couldn't come... how polite and considerate were they to take the time to ring and excuse themselves so wasn't sure how many we might expect. Well, I needn't have worried...... 25 people turned up and am happy to say I really enjoyed myself... just hope everyone else did too!!

We started off with a chat and a quick demo about mixing mud and from there we did a simple painting of an old barn door..... had done a couple of practices at home to make sure it would work and the feedback I got was really encouraging, mainly to say they had enjoyed doing it step by step and it was great to actually finish a painting in the time. This was music to my ears and means I can  happily keep things simple until I am ready to do more complex stuff. It isn't easy demonstrating live in front of all those people, even if you have practised at home, watercolour, being the temperamental mistress it is, can easily mess things up for you when you're back is turned and you are least expecting it!!!

Taken from a photo on Paint My Photo by Max Hemingway.

I did have one moment, where in my excitement I think I scared one of our members half to death when I  saw something lovely happening on the page and I snatched the brush and shouted "leave it alone!!!" The brush fell to the floor, and he nearly jumped out of his skin... note to self need to curb my enthusiasm and act with more decorum!!! So big apologies there!!


I have been to Rivington today as next Thursday we are doing Autumn leaves and I wanted some with a good variety of colours rather than the boring old beech leaves we seem to have too many of in our garden. Sycamore seemed to be by far the best colours, the oak seemed rather dull and the horse chestnut all seemed blighted and looked very much worse for wear. Anyway we found one tree where the colours, sizes and shapes seemed endless so I have a gorgeous selection to take with me with a lovely range of colours.

As always I practice what I am going to do in advance and have decided to show two ways of working. There is a cross section of ability in the class ranging from some very new painters to some very experienced ones and I need to pitch it right so that everyone gets something out of the session. The first two paintings here were done with just one application of paint and three colours dropped in wet in wet and allowed to mix on the page. I am trying to get the group to buy into mixing on the paper not on the palette so I am first going to demonstrate a leaf done just with the three colours mixed in the palette then show them how to do it like this. This first one was a mix of UB, Burnt Sienna and Aliz Crimson, the second Windsor Violet instead of UB.

 This one was a looser impression where I have painted negatively to define edges, keeping some and washing others away, it isn't as easy to work this way which is why I am doing the two options. Green/Gold, Aliz crimson, Raw sienna, Quin gold.
 This final piece was done with a full wash and leaves added again using positive and negative painting techniques, washing some edges away, defining others. Same colours as above.

In the meantime I am back at Westhoughton Art Group on Monday morning so they get a choice of what to do, the barn door or the Autumn leaves... lucky them!!!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Hydrangea Study Step by Step

I made a very weak effort at a loose hydrangea on the workshop I did with Jean Haines earler this year and realised I had a lot of work to do so I hope she will be pleased with this as I think it shows some progress!!!

I started with a wash of Windsor Violet, Pthalo turquoise and a touch of Alizarin Crimson (wouldn't use the red again might try a different colour eg Opera Rose). I let the paints run and added more water to let everything flow across the paper, moving the paper around to allow mixing in the direction I wanted which was a sort of diagonal top right to bottom left..... then left to dry.

I could already see a few opportunities for creating a couple of petals so added one or two centres and a touch of negative painting to define one of the edges then allowed to dry again. At this stage I am adding water all the time to soften edges and trying to keep the whole thing quite diffused, washing the edges away in the diagonal flow I started with.
Going on to define more edges with stronger paint... you can see the shape starting to form now as I add little touches of paint here and there.

I added a touch of Alizarin crimson around the centre of the flower to tie it in with the spots I had put above but am not liking that colour within the piece. Again more of the same, gently defining and washing away to build up the centre slowly. It is very important to let the paint dry between applications, there is a big difference in effect between applying the paint wet in wet and applying water to paint added wet on dry.... the second way in this piece produces a lovely mix of hard and soft edges whereas paint applied wet in wet will give you a soft muted effect which isn't what I want on here.
Just subtle changes here, continuing to build up the petals, painting negatively around them but also inviting the colour into the petals in parts as well. I have also added some Ub to the palette as I felt it was needed, now don't ask me why, I just thought it needed warming up a bit.

Have created one or two more petals... at this stage it is a question of stepping back and looking at the composition to see what it needs to possibly balance it out and make it look pleasing to the eye.Have also gone in quite dark now and I must admit it looks a bit fierce, but hopefully this will be tempered when I start to add the other darks around the petals

Some very dark spots now added to the petals to define one or two of them a bit more, need to consider at this stage does the composition work and do I need to add more to the bg... feel I might need to add a touch bottom right. Am liking the way the light has been caught around the top left of the flower head and want to keep that area just as it is
Decided the bg looked a little too dark so washed out some of that area and added a bit all over the bottom right of the bg and left side of the flower head and prefer the more subtle look to this now. Am going to leave this for a few days and see if I think it needs anything else.

The actual study hasn't taken log to paint, it is the drying which takes the time and for once I did leave this between washes to thoroughly dry so that I didn't get any nasty muddy areas... it always helps to have more than one painting on the go so that you can be working on one while another dries....

A lot of this way of working is what I have learned from Jean Haines, I have seen her demonstrate twice, been to a workshop and have both her DVD's and books, a big thank you Jean!!!  You will find a review of her book here Review.  The book is fantastic and I have learned so much from it... whenever I want to do some practice exercises I reach for it and am lost for hours!!