Preparations for the Carshalton Artists Open Studios are in full swing here, aka panic mode! I’ve been working on a larger (80cm x 30cm) canvas for a while, with a local theme in mind…
I’m currently torn between the River Wandle and the lavender fields which our area is well known for. I’m keen to work up this canvas and because I am unsure where to go next, I’m currently experimenting with some patterns on smaller pieces.
The intention is to offer up some cut shapes containing various colours and patterns to the larger canvas, and see how they do, or do not work. Earlier in my painting career I’d have blundered on with the main canvas and maybe ruined it. Now – when I get to a point where I feel experimentation is required, sometimes I do it in such a way as to preserve something good and as yet unfinished. Also – by working like this, sometimes I get the added bonus of a free art drop emerging out of the experiment.
A few conversations this week have brought to mind the importance of spotting patterns in our work. One off events have their place, and what else do you notice through repeated observations? Is my behaviour today out of the ordinary, or is this how you normally experience me? Should you or I do anything differently as a result? These conversations got pretty deep at times, and as I began to surface, I thought about an artistic interpretation of what had been spoken.
But what to paint? I looked to nature first, the greatest pattern maker of all.
The bottom row emerged first, hints of something floral? The top row came next. Plant life of some sort, maybe coral? I enjoyed watching the paint strokes interact, each overlapping movement creating a darker shade than the original stroke. Mixing slight variations from my paintbox – not identical patterns, just exploring similarities.
I’m enjoying working on panoramic paper at the moment so I cut a sheet from a larger piece, and reworked the patterning.
This time I mixed my shades from liquid watercolour, blending alizarin crimson with cerulean blue and cadmium yellow. Slightly bolder tones, the basic shape the same, the overlapping, darkening shades. This piece of patterning will be the next free art drop. If you live in my neighbourhood, keep an eye out for it over the weekend.
Most of my painting is driven by me, by what I want to paint. Usually when I am commissioned to paint for someone, it’s as a result of them having seen my work and wanting something similar.
Recently I was commissioned by a third party, to paint a sketch for someone’s birthday. We exchanged a few messages about a possible design, before I was asked ‘Could you paint a turtle?’ I’d no idea, having never done so before, so I offered to give it a go.
The answer appears to be, ‘yes I can’. My client and the eventual recipient are both really happy with this work, as am I. It’s not a subject I would have chosen, and I am really pleased that on this occasion, I was asked to try something new and different. It was a useful reminder to be open to the possibilities. For those of you who may be interested, this is a sketch in acrylic paint on rough 300 gsm paper, laid on top of a simple watercolour wash.
I’m taking part in the 64Million Artists January creative challenge. Each day of this month a challenge is set, and you take part, or not. It’s up to you. I’ve had a go at most of them so far, and this week I made my first painting in response to the following:
Just Imagine …
The great Albert Einstein once said that: ‘Logic can take you from a to b but imagination can take you anywhere.’ Children draw orange trees and blue grass and yellow elephants – they draw what they want to see. Inspired by this, today we would like you to unlock your own imagination and:
Get to the highest point you can, either in your house or office or school or outside, wherever you are. Look as far as you can. Draw what you can imagine there – be as fantastical as you like. Or realistic. Look out and imagine who might be standing there looking back towards you.
This is my response.
How high could I get? In my mind I climbed high enough to see the curvature of the earth, and painted what was in my imagination. Edge of Glory. Acrylic and gold leaf. This painting will be given away this weekend as part of the We Are All Artists free art project.
I think this painting wins the longest title competition, in my current body of work at least. The image is intended to represent the currently underwhelming June weather we are experiencing here in London.
Painted on an A4 sheet of watercolour paper using Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine Blue paint in varying strengths, and with varying amounts of water on the paper. I used an empty biro tube for the blown effects.
I will leave this piece of art (unframed) in Wallington as part of my ongoing art drop experiment.
I was recently invited to a friend’s party, and decided to paint an abstract piece of art for the host. I got in touch to find out her favourite colours, and after receiving the response, ‘purple and orange,’ I got to work. I decided to paint onto a 16 inch x 12 inch canvas, that’s a large surface as far as I’m concerned. Here’s phase one of the painting.
Next I added some orange. Ouch! What an awful clash.
I stared to get a bit lost after this. First I applied a layer of translucent white to the main body of the canvas, to tone down the background. That didn’t work so I then applied a thick layer of purple over the orange and scraped off the excess to reveal hints of the colour beneath. I like the effect but the overall composition still isn’t working. It was the night of the party and I had to leave an incomplete painting to one side – there was no way I was giving this to anyone in it’s current form!
The party was good fun. I returned to my work and things deteriorated.
I was lost, and in a mess. I was just about ready to give up, then I decided to take the solid block of colour back to basics. Out came the titanium white.
The intensity disappeared – and then Keira offered a suggestion, ‘how about blue?’ How about it indeed. I loosely mixed up some blue and some translucent white, which I then dragged the mixture over the titanium white in short, blocky strokes.
Finally! Several hours after I started – and with some valuable assistance, I got the painting somewhere I feel happy with. The recipient has seen a photograph and has approved, so it’s now signed and in the process of being delivered.
What have I learned? I tried too hard to work the two favourite colours into one piece – they weren’t getting along. I also learned that when using acrylic paint – you can salvage a disaster. Had I been making this in water colour – I expect I would have abandoned ship and settled on something else as a present long ago.
On a recent walk with Carole, our route took us along a stretch of riverbank by the River Wandle, near Carshalton. In years past, this stretch of the river was pretty grotty, with lots of litter and rubbish floating around, along with the archetypal abandoned shopping trolley or two. More attention is paid to the river now, and thankfully it now looks and feels in better shape. We noticed this as we strolled along – and then something special caught my eye. Something which really signalled to me that the river is now healthier.
An unmistakeable flash of electric blue fizzed past us parallel to the bank, a kingfisher! This beautiful bird darted downstream almost too fast to see, but when you are as striking as that, you’re almost impossible to miss. I didn’t have a camera on me and even if I had – there would have been no time to photograph this wonderful kingfisher in flight, but the flash stayed in my mind, and when we got home, I tried to recall it on paper as best I could.
Santa had given me some new tools for Christmas, in the form of these silicone tipped paint appliers. I used them to push some acrylic paint around, over a pale blue water colour base which I had first allowed to dry. It felt unusual using a tool that doesn’t absorb the paint, you have to work the material quite differently. I think I’ve managed to capture the flow and movement of the bird quite well. Update July 2015 – this picture has been sold.