Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Sharing my Disasters?

Well maybe disaster might be too strong a word but from the minute I posted this painting on fb I could see it was wrong and it was really annoying me. I hadn't taken a word of my own advice and stupidly had drawn what I thought I saw and not what I actually saw and though it didn't look too bad on the painting as soon as I posted it and could see it properly on the computer the mistake shouted at me.

Maybe I shouldn't post this sort of thing... doesn't do my street cred much good I know, but I am working on the premise that we all make mistakes and have our disasters no matter what stage we're at, working or hobby artists and I know during the early stages of my own journey it was music to my ears to hear someone I perceived as a "good" artist still had off days and their fair share of disasters. At that stage maybe one out of ten paintings turned out for me and even then the ones which turned out weren't that good. Happily the percentage of successes is much higher now but I wanted to share this as a lesson to us all.

So a bit of background. I have done a series of paintings from photos I have taken of "The Street" in Rivington. I worked with the same three colours, Turquoise, Burnt Sienna and purple so unusual combination but I am able to get a rich variety of colours using just those three and produce quite a colourful piece at the same time. None of these paintings represent the true colours from the reference photos, however as long as I keep the tonal value correct the palette is secondary and all I need to do is to make sure the chosen colours look attractive when mixed together.  This was the first piece and one I was very pleased with (and is now with a new owner!!)

The second was one I had painted before keeping the colours fairly closely to the reference and I really didn't like it so this was using the new palette and I much preferred it.

This is the painting I messed up on...

I have no idea why I didn't see this as I was painting.. just shows you can be too close to something and also shows you really need to step back. The other thing it shows is that no matter how good the actual painting bit is, if the drawing stinks the painting doesn't work!! So no prizes for guessing the problem with this one, yes, the perspective on the gates, and here is the new version I did yesterday which I am happier with

Would love to hear what you all think about this. Is it good to share the disasters too, to admit that not everything works or should I keep them to myself?

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

New all Day Workshop at Sunshine House, Scholes, Wigan

Taking place on Saturday the 3rd October it will have a Christmassy feel so that any of you who may want to start producing your own cards or even paint each one individually this is the workshop for you. And even if you don't want to do that you will still learn lots of tips and hints to help you in your every day painting!!

Here are a few of the cards I've done in the past....

For anyone wondering what the format is for my one day sessions, here is is quick overview of how this one will run......

I always start by giving a quick talk with examples about how I paint, mixing the paint on the paper or my brush and how that impacts on my work and usually people have a quick go at mixing their colour on the paper and trying all sorts of different combinations.

Next we will look at washes and how to do backgrounds like these, using the water and paint to create a vibrant, lively effect which is an important part of these paintings and often looks a lot easier than it is.

We will be using masking fluid too so a few tips and hints about how best to use it.

After lunch we will do a full painting, I always bring a variety of images for people to chose from and I demonstrate one which people can then interpret with the images they choose so that everyone will have a different painting to mine. A bit of a bug bear with me, rather than trying to simply copy my work, I love it when people use what they learn to incorporate into their own work so I often suggest students use completely different colours to mine and then they at least inject a bit of their own creativity into the session.

Cost is £20 a head, 10.00-3.00, e-mail me on if you are interested or please pass to anyone else you know who may want to have a go. The last few workshops have been booked pretty quickly so if you are interested please get in touch sooner rather than later!!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Taylor's Bar Mitzvah

We met David and Lisa on holiday 11 years ago and unlike many holiday friendships, this one has flourished over the years (despite the fact we are considerably older......we love having younger friends and thankfully they don't seem to mind having older ones!!). We met the following year when Lisa invited us to the Bar Mitzvah celebrations of her son to take place 10 years later!! They certainly like to have things organised!! As we are Christian we have never had the opportunity to attend a Bar Mitzvah so you can imagine our excitement at the prospect of attending such an event.

2 years ago we received a more formal invitation when the date was booked and we have been looking forward to it ever since.

We had to be at a Synagogue in Essex at around 9.15 on Saturday morning so travelled down the day before, dropping puppy Chester off with my sister in law on the way. I got a posh frock out and hat (for those who are unaware, the Jewish religion states woman must have their heads covered at Synagogue) and hubby collected a Kippah (a Jewish skull cap) which the Jewish men wear during prayer, study and eating (it is a custom rather than a commandment but a respectful gesture). 

The men and woman sit separately at the Synagogue and the men also wear capes over their shoulders. Whether this particular synagogue was more relaxed than normal I'm not sure but the whole service though steeped in Hebrew singing from the Rabbi, male congregation and Bar Mitzvah boy there was also a relaxed atmosphere where people could come and go. I find the Jewish religion very interesting as it crosses and combines the boundaries of religion and ethnicity and by definition to be Jewish by birth, one has to born of Jewish mother (not father) though conversion is also possible and recognised. 

A Bar Mitzvah is a huge event in the Jewish faith and signals a boy's transition to manhood whereupon he becomes respnsible for his own actions and his father is no longer punishable for his son's misdemeanours. He is also able to participate in Jewish prayers, can read from the Torah and can contribute to a Minyan which is a sort of religious quorum and requires 10 members of the community. 

More recently in Jewish history, girls can also have their own ceremony a Bat Mitzvah which happens at the age of 12 and though does not involve quite the same religious content is nevertheless perceived in a similar way to the boys ceremony. Interestingly at this particular ceremony, Grandfather of the Bar Mitzvah boy celebrated a second Bar Mitzvah... only possible at the age of 83, 70 years after the first. 

Having done a bit of reading around the subject I have also learned there is such a thing called a "Bark Mitzvah!!" Yes you heard it here... a doggy ceremony to celebrate the dog's coming of age either at 13 months or 13 years and many of these ceremonies have taken pace in the States!! 

We stayed for two nights at the beautiful Sopwell House nr St Albans and on the Sunday had a lovely walk around the lake packed with birdlife and then on to the Cathedral. The huge Gala dinner took place at 5.00pm and started with a Pimms/Champagne reception with a Sushi Bar and the most delicious canapes I have ever tasted!! 

The Bar Mitzvah celebrations began with some traditional Jewish dancing followed by the first of quite a few speeches during the evening. The band were brilliant and helped create a superb atmosphere. The highlight was a ventriloquist who had special dummies of Taylor and his sister. Mum and Dad had sent photos of them both to a puppet maker in Poland who had made caricature dummies of them..... amazing!! They had also recorded the children interacting during the previous 6 months which the ventriloquist incorporated into his act... very very funny!! This had to be the Bar Mitzvah to end all Bar Mitzvahs (not that we are experts, but we were told by many guests that it was the best that any of them had ever attended). 

As I mentioned Taylor's Grandfather also took part in the ceremony and though it wasn't his actual birthday (the Bar mitzvah celebrates the boy's thirteeth birthday), I wanted to recognise the event for him too and decided to paint a portrait of his two children, David and his sister. The family had already commissioned me to paint a portrait of their parents earlier this year to mark their Diamond Wedding celebration so I thought it might be appropriate to complete their family collection. Here are both portraits

We truly had a wonderful time and feel honoured and privileged to have been asked to such a special event. The weekend will stay in our hearts as one of the most memorable times in our lives and our thanks go to David and Lisa for inviting us and for their warmth, love and generosity shown to us during the weekend.