Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Changing my Mind and more about Working from Photos

Switzerland is a beautiful place and we are lucky enough to be able to visit fairly often and during our first visit earlier this year, we had glorious weather.  I took masses of photos always with a view to painting them. Now I'm not sure if this happens to you but only a handful seem promising when I finally get to view them on here... why is that?

Anyway I do love painting poppies and there was a huge cornfield with clumps of wild poppies growing and I did think I would have a go, even though the images didn't look all that promising.

This is a selection of photos from the field to give you a feel for the view

The last image is the one I vaguely took the composition from and as you can see there is a sea of pale brown with odd bits of green. I thought I might do the painting like that but must have subconsciously changed my mind as it progressed as I found myself adding more blues, yellows and greens to the bg and moving away from the brown shades. Whether that is because I know green and red are complimentary and I am always looking for maximum contrast or whether on viewing I felt the combination a touch boring (am inclined to believe the latter is the case!!) I'm not sure but once again illustrates we don't need to stick to the colour scheme we see....the image is there as a starting point, and in terms of colour, shape, composition, tone etc, just there as a clue, a bit of guidance but not to be followed implicitly.

The composition took on more of a square feel and evolved as I painted it. Unusually for me I worked across the piece from right to left... normally I work across the whole painting at once, trying to make sure I work on dry areas around the piece but this happened differently (no idea why!!). So the darks were added as I moved across helping to build the composition as I went along. I then decided it needed a quin gold glaze across the whole of the top... I had kept the left quite warm and yellow and realised the right side needed a touch of warmth too. This is where I don't have to be a slave to my photo, I give myself permission to do whatever I like and whatever I think will improve my painting be it the colour, the composition, the light in fact anything at all. Because all those decisions are specific to me and my perception on the day, that is why painting like this creates a unique piece of art that not even I can copy!!

Next, I plan to do a close up of one or two heads and see where that takes me. Another benefit of painting like this is that I can use the same image and produce all sorts of different paintings and trying to think of different ways to do things certainly exercises the creative brain cells!!  I am always trying to challenge my students into using their own palette... sometimes I am very mean to them and don't tell them what colours I am using and they are sometimes quite frightened of making a mistake but often find it has been liberating too and they end up quite pleased with their results as their painting has their own stamp on it.

Monday, 12 October 2015

New Directions

Inspired by seeing Ann Blockley at Patchings 2 years ago I went mad and bought a rather large selection of acrylic inks.. having seen how Ann used them I just "had" to have some... some girls need shoes......I need art materials (as well as shoes!!)

However having had all good intentions in the world I have barely used them until now... but..... having seen Ann again at Patchings again this year, bought her book and seen snippets of the DVD I decided it might be a new direction for me especially for landscapes. I have been working on buildings and features inn the landscape recently and much happier with those but straight landscapes are still testing me!! I took quite a lot of photos on our trip to Basel during the Summer and have quite a few in my "pending file" and this was such a pretty scene I decided to have a go

I'm not sure I would have attempted this with pure watercolour but felt it was something I could use the acrylic inks with mixed with watercolour. I am quite pleased with this first attempt though I'm not sure it is finished as I feel it needs some more variety of line in it but I am going to sit on it and maybe get some feedback... would be interested to hear what any of you think.....

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Charcoal Workshop

I go to a lovely group near St Helens called Paint Pots (great name for a group!!) and they invited me recently to do a charcoal workshop. They really want to do a charcoal portrait class but thought the group could be introduced to the medium with a landscape lesson first.

I told Doris, the organiser, that I had never run a charcoal class before but that I would love to run one for them as I do enjoy charcoal and in the very early days of my art journey was the medium I had most success with as it suits my sketchy way of drawing. I do know Joanne does a lot of charcoal sketching en plein air as preparation for watercolour and Brusho paintings and then works from the sketch rather than the photo for her paintings and I need to take a leaf out of her book for the future.

So I went armed with a variety of papers, my blending tools (got lots of them but in the main use my fingers), putty rubber and some images for us to attempt and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed the session.

The first drawing was of an image taken by my brother in law John Robinson and is a fantastic atmospheric image of a sunset at Glen Coe and the second from one of my own photos of the Pigeon Tower Rivington. I have painted both images but never drawn them so a challenge for us all!!

This was done on a thickish smooth cartridge paper and not one I generally use but wanted to show the group the differences made by different papers. Blending isn't as easy as the charcoal tends to make quite permanent unmovable marks. I showed them all the blending tools but as ever came back to my fingers!!

This isn't finished as we didn't quite have time to complete both in the session but you can see lots more texture which I like and done on Bockingford extra rough. For what it's worth a NOT watercolour paper (rough in Bockingford) would probably be best though I do use the extra rough for portraits, unless I am drawing a very smooth haired animal in which case I would probably use graphite rather than charcoal anyway.

As usual I forgot to take photos, but the group did so well (you'll have to take my word for that!!) and I have to say they were all really pleased with their efforts as I had been all those years ago when I first tried charcoal. It is a very forgiving medium and I would advise anyone to have a go. A charcoal sketch is a great tool for a later painting, but a lovely medium to use just for its own sake. Would love to hear and see the results if any of you decide to try it.....