Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Should be Good!!

So have I done enough? Practice that is!!

I have been doing a few studies of more fur and feathered babies over the last couple of days so that no matter which I decide or am asked to demonstrate I will happily be able to deliver!!

I always do this for my workshops and as this is the first animal theme I have done and the subject matter is so vast I felt I needed to cover a few more subjects than I might normally, so I have done cockerels, owls, flamingos, dogs, cats,hares, squirrels, robins and a nuthatch....all subjects I have painted before but not taught.

I do like sketches but ran out of space for the cat on this one... didn't plan that very well as his right ear is composed of the squirrel's nose and his chin is the nuthatch's bottom!! Made me realise that part of the beauty of sketch pages is the composition and where to place everything, not bull in a China shop and hope for the best!!! Ooops!!

Thought I would show the cat separately as a few at my at group last night really liked it.

All of these have been done with no predrawing so straight in with the paint and I am getting better at it!! Yippeeee!!  I won't be expecting the students to do this, my main reason is that I can't wait to paint so I don't want to spend my time drawing, but part of achieving a decent painting is a good drawing in the first place and so I help the students get the drawing on the paper  before they paint, if they aren't confident enough to have a go like this.

May do a few more practices yet....I have to say that though it might seem I spend a lot of time "working" on things, it isn't really "work", it's pure joy and pleasure and planning a workshop like this gives me focus and subject matter I might not normally paint. I have to admit I do like painting animals and when I've done a few like this it reminds me how much!! Might have to decide to do a landscape workshop then I would have to crack that subject matter once and for all, now that's an idea!!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Moving South?!? And the SAA "It's All About Art Event"

You can imagine my surprise when I was in Lytham, puppy walking along the beach and I got an e-mail from the SAA inviting me to attend their "It's All About Art" event in Islington to run some Brusho workshops for them!!

Knock me down with a feather!! As many of you will know I have been very receptive to any offers of work taking me further South but wasn't expecting that one!!

Anyway a few logistics sorted, like how I was going to get there, where was I going to stay etc etc and I am very happy to say I will be at the event running 3 BRUSHO workshops on Saturday afternoon at 1.00/2.00/3.00 pm though I will be there as the event opens in the morning.

Would love to meet any of my "virtual" friends met through my blog and  facebook so if you are "umming and ahhing" about whether to go to the event, make the decision now and pop along on the Saturday!! Come and see me either for a workshop or just to say hello....I don't want to be "Billy-no-mates" twiddling my thumbs!!!

As I said, I will be running 3 sessions each of 45 minutes where I will be going through some of the basics of how to use Brusho and how to get the best out of it!! All materials are included and apparently you will need to get there early to avoid disappointment if you want to book for workshops.

Now as far as I can see, you won't find my name anywhere on the SAA website or on the promotional material for the event (the SAA only highlight their "top" artists!!!) but I promise I will be there and the only one teaching Brusho during the afternoon so it's me or no-one!!!

I'm very excited to be invited to take part in the event, as you all know, I love running workshops and I love going to art events so this sort of  kills 2 birds with one stone!! See you there!!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Book Review of Jean Haine's World of Watercolour

Having got all 3 of Jean's books and reviewed Atmospheric Watercolours here, and the follow up here I took a different approach with this one, savouring it (I tried to savour the others too but excitement made me gulp them down as quickly as possible, not always the best way though they are books to revisit time and time again!!) taking my time and enjoying every word, paragraph and chapter.

It isn't easy to paint in a loose way and even harder to teach it and once again Jean does a truly fabulous job of  bringing her style of painting to the masses!! The illustrations are simply beautiful, full of life and colour and in fact this book concentrates very much on colour describing Jean's own perspective and view of how we should be excited and inspired by all the colours available in today's market. Music to my ears as I also love colour so am obviously in very good company!!

At no point does Jean assume we know what she is talking about as the text is clear, concise and explanatory, and while there are many excellent step by steps in this book, which I highly recommend you try, as the instructions are articulate and descriptive, this book is so much more than that. It is about Jean's own journey and how she has moved on in her style and ways of working, as she says, "Every artist was once a beginner" gives hope to all the wannabes, hope that with dedication, hard work and most importantly practice, everyone can become an artist, something we all need to hear time and time again when things aren't going well and we are getting despondent.

The book is aimed at every level of artist, and I really wish something like this had been available earlier in my own journey as Jean vocalises her thought processes and that is certainly something I needed.(still do!!).  It is so helpful to understand why someone is painting as they do and more importantly making the decisions they are making and for me that is what is unique about this book and why I would recommend to anyone who desires to move on.

Finally, this is a really, really well thought out book.  It takes the reader through the materials, exercises and techniques Jean uses, is filled with lots of tips and hints and then goes on to the final section "Putting it all together" which for me is the real jewel in this book. We often have snippets of skills, ideas, techniques and don't always know where to go with them so this last section helps pull everything together making sense of it all.

Finally, finally (!!) again, as in Jean's previous books, I am struck by how easy she makes things seem, but (and I can speak from personal experience here)  if you do put in the practice it will also become easier for you. If you read the previous reviews, there is a general theme...... I have spent hours and hours doing little exercises, washes and generally practicing the techniques and I can assure you that is what it takes, it isn't about talent (says she on her hobby horse again) it is about practice but, and this is the important bit, its the right practice you need, which is what all Jean's books teach so if you want to pursue a loose watercolour journey (or even if you want to simply improve your watercolour painting) this is the book for you!!!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Befores and Afters!!

And no before you start thinking food (even though that is truly my other passion next to painting) this isn't about what I'm having for starter and dessert!!

Without wanting to bore the pants off everyone, you may know I am running a "Fur and "Feathers workshop in June and I have been doing a bit of prep over the last few weeks. A lot of my sessions are about giving people ideas and ways of painting things rather than doing step by step paintings (though I do those as well) but I wanted this workshop to be about how to paint fur, feathers, noses, eyes etc so that people will have the tools to go home and have a better idea than when they started.

I have acquired lots of images over the years and will be taking a wide selection for people to try and part of my preparation is to paint a good number of them so that I know what the difficulties are and how best to guide people through them. The next two pieces are paintings I have done before, the flamingo is an image by Gary Jones and the labradoodle is from an photo of Rolo, Gwen Card's dog.

This is my recent attempt at the flamingo... no predrawing (in fact non of the following paintings have been drawn first) a different composition to the other two and more texture in the feathers.

 My first attempt, done about 3 years ago and I'd like to think worse than the one above!!
 Much smoother version done not long after the first go... a bit boring and predictable!! Prefer the first version to this...
So I think this looks like improvement... what about you?

So Rolo next, this one is a WIP and I am sitting on it to see if I feel it needs further work, quite different to the first version I did. I do like how I have kept more white of the paper, think it may need a touch of red bottom left but will see...

I do remember being very pleased with the one below when I painted it and still have it framed. It was one of those painting which just "worked!!" This was also painted about 3 years ago when paintings didn't often just work for me then .......happens a bit more often now thank goodness, and I do know how to paint rough haired dogs like this now.

Looking at this on here I do still like it very much and not sure which I prefer. I think the recent one is more textured and more reliant on brush stroke rather then softer washes but I do like the colours and the reserved whites of the paper which gives it a different feel. I have always been looking to develop a style and think these two pieces clearly show a difference.

It is so interesting to look at previous efforts and to hopefully see an improvement but also nice to see work which I was thrilled with at the time that also stands up now. In the main, past work, even work I was satisfied with at the time, no longer pleases me as the goal posts have moved....I constantly strive to improve and what I once might have thought was ok, I now cringe at and as we have recently discussed on fb, if we no longer seek to improve as we are totally satisfied with our work there wouldn't seem to be much point... it is the constant desire to produce that touch of magic which certainly spurs me on... sometimes it is only a small section in a painting where I see it and other times the whole piece like this second painting of Rolo.

So I hope you have enjoyed this peek into my past efforts, I do keep virtually every piece of work and I can honestly say some of them are so bad I am mortified!! I never thought they were any good even when I did them btw!! I was always aware of where I was but always pleased to see progress...I would say it is good to keep past work (maybe not as much as I have) but it does help give you an idea of your improvement over the years and my efforts only serve to reinforce my mantra that painting is a skill and not a talent and can therefore be learned and I am unanimous in that!!!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

All Feathered Out!!

As many of you will know I tutor to art groups in the area and am more than happy to travel further afield if invited. At the moment the furthest I have travelled is to Leicester but am looking at one or two new places which will involve overnight stays ... exciting!!

In the meantime, I work at a lovely community centre in Wigan called Sunshine House where I run blocks of 4 week lessons and all day workshops and the next all day workshop is on Sunday the 7th June. This has booked up very quickly and I do have a few people on a waiting list... the subject is "Fur and Feathers" where I will be showing people how to paint different types of fur and feathers and we will also look at noses, eyes etc and how to make them look part of the animal's face.

I usually do a bit of preparation for my workshops and this is no exception so I have been working on a few chickens,cockerels and owls. I don't always draw them but often that approach isn't helpful in workshops as not all the students can paint without drawing and I also need to understand how difficult the drawing is in the first place.

Those who have followed me for a while will know I have an opinion about drawing and painting (well actually I have an opinion about most things!!)... I believe them to be separate skills and often students complain they are no good at drawing and it often stops them painting. I identify with this to an extent as my drawing skills have always been reasonable but when I started my painting skills were hopeless so I cannot count the number of times I ruined a lovely drawing the minute I touched with my brush!! It used to stop me painting because I hated spending all that time on a drawing to have it ruined within minutes...likewise for those who feel their drawing skills are lacking even if they can paint they feel there is no point as the drawing spoils their efforts, so what's the solution? I encourage my students to learn to draw, but not when they want to paint. Learn to draw for the sake of learning to draw and paint for the sake of painting. So I have no difficulty with students tracing, using a light box or grid to get the image down on paper as in fact a lot of the masters did. I still practice drawing skills and this is one I did of Una Stubbs during the Big Painting challenge

 This took about 20 minutes with no grid or tracing etc but not always that easy to get a likeness, some seem to come quickly and others take ages and still not very successful but one thing I do  know is that practice makes perfect and drawing skills can be improved dramatically with perseverance!!

On to the feathers!!

So I have drawn these but worked on them in different ways. The chicken was painted mainly positively with a few edges lost and a few found negatively.

Used indigo, Winsor Red, Burnt Sienna (really can't do without that colour!!) and touch of Raw Sienna
In my classes I am often asked what colours I am using and I am really mean and rarely tell people... why? Because the colours are not so important and I don't want people to have to go out and buy the paint I am using in the hope it will make all the difference. I invite people to use their own colours, try them out first and see what combination they might like then at least they can choose from their own palettes and not be influenced by what I'm using because next time my palette would be different too!!
 The cockerel was done with the background first so all the edges were broken to start with and my job was to go back in and create them again so although the subject was drawn first I haven't slavishly followed the lines,  rather used them as a guide. Colours in this, Winsor Blue, indigo, Winsor Purple, Burnt Sienna, Translucent Orange, Windsor Red.
Different again, used a bit of both methods on this and a touch of masking fluid to the head and eye. Not something I use a lot of but have got one of those ruling pens from the SAA and find I can get some really thin lines with it so I now do use it occasionally. This one is obviously more subtle but I rather like his face and may have another try using a more colourful palette. Colours used, Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Blue, Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Tranlucent Orange

Watch out for the next furry sketches.....