Tuesday, 29 July 2014

More Hints on Colour Choices

I have had an online friend Leona Fraser for some time now (she is a very accomplished painter!!) and she has been incredibly supportive of my own work and art journey. I saw this image she posted of her wonderful dog Buster and decided it was a dog in waiting, that is waiting to be painted!!

I loved the composition as well as his soft trusting face so decided to paint him....

The main thing I think about with a painting like this is the palette I should use... as many of you will know I tend not to use more than about 5 or 6 colours in any one painting and still use my planets to get a combination I think will work. Check out this blog I did a couple of years ago which you might find useful.

I always like to use a rich dark, either indigo, ub, purple (usually winsor violet which is my favourite purple), perylene maroon and sometimes more than one dark... then I usually choose a yellow and a red and mix them on the paper to see what effects I get and whether I like the mix. Sometimes the combination needs a subtle change from say quin gold to raw sienna or vice versa. I don't always know what I'm looking for, it is often a process of elimination trying different mixes until I hit on something I think will work. However I could also choose an entirely different combination and still feel it would work!!

There is nothing special or requiring special talent in what I do it is simply a process of trying different things maybe choosing unlikely combinations which helps make the painting more unique but I can assure there is nothing more to it than just choosing some colours and hitting on a mix which I think looks nice.

Colours used in this

UB, winsor violet, burnt sienna, aliz crimson, transparent orange, raw sienna, but it really doesn't matter which colours I used I could equally have decided on prussian blue or indigo, touch of turquoise, permanent rose, that is down to personal choice and what might be an interesting exercise would be to do several paintings of the same subject using a different palette in each case!!

I did a quick sketch of this, it is important even when painting a loose watercolour, the drawing has to be accurate so I placed the nose and eyes then painted around them.

I would encourage you all to try different colours, just play with the paint and see what different combinations you can get, admittedly they may not be realistic but to me that is all part of the fun!!

Am delighted to say Leona loved this by the way!!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Is this "en Plein Air"?

I have just returned from a fabulous time in Anglesey with a super group of painters from the North West. Joanne Boon Thomas organises this trip each year for 2 groups of painters one stay the first half of the week, the others the second half and we have all been blessed with the most amazing weather...the hotel was super with fabulous food (always a plus!!) very warm and welcoming.

Joanne invited me as she keeps telling me I need to get out and do some painting en plein air!!! I know she's right but I guess I have avoided it so far. I did go on a painting holiday to Umbria in 2006 and had a wonderful time and although my paintings left a lot to be desired I was voted best improver of the week so I was happy!! I haven't really done much plein air since I but do know it is another string I need to my bow.

So armed with my easel, a small traveling palette, collapsible water jug and equipment pared to the very bone (going against everything I hold dear!!) I set off first of all to pick up my pal Polly Birchall whom I had met once before on a workshop with Joanne. We had a good journey into NorthWales and then onto the island and no we didn't get lost once!!! Who said women can't navigate!! We chatted and pontificated none stop for the whole journey, setting the art world to right and our 2 hour journey passed in no time.

We arrived at the small town of Moelfre where most of the group were already settled and well on their way with their first efforts. I set up to paint what I realised was a difficult subject, not the house I was painting but all the rocks below... not a good idea, and certainly an even worse idea to attempt it again to try and improve!!

We met for drinkies back at the hotel, changed for dinner and then went on to enjoy our first fabulous meal. Early night for most and then off the following day to the wonderful Chateau Rhianfa. The group had been for the first time last year and must have behaved themselves as we were able to go again this year.. what a place!!! A painter's dream... so much inspiration, am now looking at deals to go and stay!!

The following day we visited Red Wharf Bay and painted there for the morning and after devouring our packed lunches Polly and I set off home. Before I go on to display the paintings and explain the reason for the title of this blog, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Joanne for organising what was a lovely trip and for getting me doing the dreaded "plein air!!"

This was a little Dovecote building in the grounds of the Chateau, hidden amongst the trees.  I tried to capture the lights and shadows which were falling on the building and was actually quite pleased with how this turned out... I maybe overworked it a touch but next time would go in with the deep tones sooner so that I avoided too many layers

The next painting was of the Chateau and what I had in mind was to capture the light rather than all the detail on the turret or all the foliage for that matter. I went in wet in wet, no drawing and avoided the side of the turret to the left which was bathed in light. I then added a bit of detail to the stonework, a touch of shadow and though  the piece may not be finished (it might need some rich dark foliage lower down on the left of the turret), I do like the light....

The final painting I did on location is again unfinished, done at Red Wharf Bay of some lovely little houses and a boat... problem was the tide went out before I managed to get to the boat and  lost the reflections as it ended up on the beach!! Again a bit overworked in the foliage department but so much learned!!!

Artistic license used in this to add the boat and include less foliage!!

And finally to my question!!

What I would like to know is.... if I painted the following painting in my garden this afternoon, having taken the original photo and already done a version once above, does it count as plein air?Am really hoping so!!! I think for the "purists" amongst you I would need to have done the whole painting in front of the actual subject but for those who may be a bit more liberal, the experience of fighting the elements (in this case, glorious baking sunshine) with a photo stuck to the side of my easel may just count!

I wanted to create a more complete representation of the same scene above including the foliage (aarrrgghhhh) and I might even do the same painting again but use a different colour scheme as am feeling this is a bit cool and some warmer tones might be needed.

So what have I learned....

Well first, to make sure if the tide is going out get the boat done first so that the reflectons are captured!!

Second, decisions en plein air need to be made quickly and it therefore helps to have a sort of template or formula for how to paint something, ie stonework, beach, sea, foliage, there are too many other things to be thinking about without wondering how to paint something in the first place... the rocks in my first efforts are a good point in question.

Third, you don't need to include everything... I think I am actually ok at that bit... anything which looks remotely tricky... leave it out, that's my motto!!! Vignettes are good for plein air (like the little Summer House) you just need to make sure you get the composition looking ok at the edges. So, not a uniform unbroken circle around your subject, more random and uneven.

Am sure I will have learned lots more but for now these are the areas I will be working on, I am on the edge of the Pennines, the start of the moors in Lancashire and we have Rivington Country Park on our doorstep... an area full of old stone buildings, doors, reservoirs,  derelict barns so there really is no excuse and I am hoping I have developed a few more skills to encourage me to get out there and give it a go!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ken Bromley Cover Competition

Ken Bromley is a company supplying art equipment all over the world via mail order and I have the added bonus of living a couple of miles away... believe me child in a sweetie shop has never been a more apt description!!

They produce a catalogue twice a year which is sent out (again all over the word) and their service is excellent! Every year they invite artists to submit paintings for selection for the cover on this brochure and I have entered for the last 3 years and have been shortlisted on each occasion.

This year I do have a good feeling about my entry but who knows?? This watercolour painting would be very different from their usual choice so I'm not sure if  that is a good or bad thing!!

This is the painting, done from a photo by Freda Austin Nichols on Paint my Photo

If any of you would like to vote here is the link and while obviously, a vote for me would be greatly appreciated, you might like to check it out and simply vote for your favourite!! Thank you!!

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Lonely Photographer


I have had this in my "to do" list for a while and as the photographer John Robinson is now adding to his series  "The Lonely Photographer", so thought I had better get going!!

I liked the light on this image plus the mystery and the thoughts of where he is going and where he's been.

As some of you will know I like back images especially of portraits...no need to worry about a likeness so I just had to decide on my palette for this one.

I knew I would need a good dark so I used indigo which I like mixed with alizarin crimson and a touch of raw sienna to give me an "almost" black... I wanted to capture the light at the end of the tunnel so went in with fairly pale washes to start with and built the tone later.  As you can see I added a touch of green to the darks to connect them with the greens in the distance. The walls of the tunnel were quite shiny in parts, not sure if they were wet anyway I tried to capture that too.

One tip is to photograph your work and view it on screen, it's amazing how areas you need to address become so clear.....with this the walls, floor and figure weren't dark enough.

If any of you would like to see more of John's work, here are his links


John is also a member of Paint my Photo

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Rose Commission and Jean Haines influence

I have been asked to do a commission to present to a church committee for 3 paintings which will be displayed in their new entrance lobby... I have a brief and have been playing around with compositions of roses and crosses (will feature the crosses in a future blog) and think I have settled on a vertical "S" shaped composition.

I have sent this for approval and thankfully in principle they liked though we think it needs tightening up a bit

In the meantime I have done another this afternoon which I have tightened up and done in a different colourway inspired by a rose in our garden which is a very delicate shade of yellow and pink.

Not as drippy or loose but I still like it and like the formation and light on the roses... will be letting them have a look at this one too. The cross, which will be the centre piece with a rose painting either side, is causing me a few headaches but I think I know where I'm going with that now...

I have practiced lots and lots of roses and have been inspired by Jean Haines work and in particular this blog (as an aside Jean raises money for cancer research via this blog by asking those who use it to make a donation) which I have used to do many studies from. However I would like to think that I am now painting them in my own style... both these studies have been painted entirely from my imagination, with no reference to anyone else's work, BUT backed up with those hours of practice, getting to know the subject and learning just how to paint them in a way that suits me and my fast, bold brushstrokes!! I am not  known for subtlety but am learning to be slightly more delicate when the subject demands and that is something I have had to learn the hard way as your brush stroke is as individual as your handwriting and only by working and working on it have I learned to apply the paint with differing amounts of pressure.

As for the finishing touches, where to keep lost edges and where to add darker bits negatively, that also comes with practice, that and standing back, reviewing, sometimes taking photos and again, no two artists would add those touches in exactly the same place... they are as individual as the brushstrokes and partly what gives us our style... so, having been inspired by another artist I feel I am now on the road with my own work and while I will always follow Jean and her wonderful paintings I no longer use her as a crutch......something I am sure she would be delighted to hear as I know she is thrilled to see people she has helped moving on!!