Sunday, 30 January 2011

Boston Maybe

After I finished the second phase of my value sketch and felt it was successful enough to post again below, I felt the need to use this positive energy. I used this energy to finish a gouache I was having a few problems with i.e., the other painting I had finished for the Virtual Paintout 'Boston' challenge this month. There are a few things I could do to it but as the paint is on quite heavily, I don't think I'll add anything to it at this late stage. I quite like it for some obscure reason, well not obscure, I like the colours and the 'hot Summer afternoon' feel, but I don't think I'll send this one in. I don't know...I'm going out and I'll decide later.

"Boston in the Summer or Autumn"
Gouache & Pastel on Watercolour Paper - 9" x 9"

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Value Sketches for Portrait II - Redux

Last night I sprayed fixative on this sketch to seal the charcoal hoping to add another layer today to darken it to the point where the values of the photograph are at least matched. I thought I had succeeded but knew something was detracting from the strong contrasts and the sketch was 'off'. I noticed that I had outlined the side of her face nearest the light which was incorrect; the edge of her face almost merges with the light filled background. I couldn't eliminate the fixed charcoal line so I painted over it with white gouache and, even though this is obvious, it got the sketch as close to the photograph as possible. These little things make all the difference. I've also nearly completed my second Boston painting for The Virtual Paintout, but it's been another dark day with leaden skies, so colour photography is totally out of the question.

"FINAL Value Sketch for Melancholy Portrait Series"
Charcoal & Gouache on Cartridge Paper - 12" x 9" (Approx.)

"Value Sketch for Melancholy Portrait Series"
Charcoal on Cartridge Paper - 12"x 8" (Approx.)

(Adapted from a photograph by Margrethe Mather p.96 "Portraits" published by Thames and Hudson 1982, 1983)

Friday, 28 January 2011

Value Sketches for Portrait II

I have just ended a week of annual leave. Nice, but I had hoped to get some really good work under my belt and didn't due to mountains of personal 'admin' getting in the way. I completed most of my chores but feel a bit down not having been at the easel all week - in fact for two weeks bar a mawkish attempt at another Boston gouache for The Virtual Paintout. I had also planned to get a new work complete to send for submission to a show overseas, but the work I produced was just good enough for a 'sketch', so I ditched that project. I really needed more time to produce the quality of work I had in mind.

So tonight, I thought "anything" just anything to get the creative juices going, so I started on another charcoal sketch for a project of mine based on "Melancholy". Goodness knows what will emerge but I have faces in mind and beautiful photographs to work from but I have to overcome my impatience and get to grips with doing preparatory sketches on values. I don't often get them right, so I decided to do the work below to try and get accurate contrasts between the darks and the lights. It's nearly there, but the photograph is not good. I just don't have the right lens or lighting for caputuring charcoal work accurately. I chose the 'sepia' one (accidentally captured) to post here as it shows the darks with more depth. I might post a better photograph if the sun appears in London tomorrow, which is unlikely. The Winters are getting darker and colder here. A move southwards?

"Value Sketch for Melancholy Portrait Series"
Charcoal on Cartridge Paper - 12"x 8" (Approx.)

(Adapted from a photograph by Margrethe Mather p.96 "Portraits" published by Thames and Hudson 1982, 1983)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Virtual Paintout - January Challenge

It's good to be back on the "challenge" bandwagon again after a long hiatus and "The Virtual Paintout" is my personal favourite to enter each month. I had the usual trip around the city of the month, Boston, and I couldn't find any 'juicy' windows to paint, so I settled on boats of all things. The scene I chose here is not representative of Boston; it could be anywhere. I feel that with most of my past entries for this Challenge, my work has somehow evoked the character or feel of the city or place I am painting, but this grey scene, caught my eye. I think it was the challenge of the greyness of the water, the strip of boats across the centre and the potential to reduce it down to a brighter quasi abstract. I have another boat scene for Boston on the conveyor belt which might appear here in a couple of days, time permitting.

"Boston Boats - Interstate 93 - Boston, Mass., USA"
Gouache on Watercolour Paper - 9.25" x 8.5" (Approx.)

The screenshot from the Google Maps Scene

Click to see the scene directly on Google Maps ">HERE.

Painted from Google Maps with their kind permission.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A Salute to Ai Weiwei

I have been promising myself for months to go and visit the Ai Weiwei "Sunflower Seeds" exhibition at Tate Modern, and even though I work close to the gallery, I found it difficult to get there and back in a lunch time. So after work tonight I went determined to experience this very unusual work for myself. Let me say from the start I found it very beautiful. We are no longer allowed to walk on it because of the dust it generates, but even with that restriction it was very special to look at. Sadder still is the story of Ai Weiwei who was put under house arrest by the Chinese government shortly after the commencement of this exhbition and now I hear that his studio was destroyed on 11 January 2011. His bravery amazes me. His Wikipedia article can be found here if you are interested. How I would love to have been able to roll around in that sea of porcelain seeds, just for the sheer hell of it!

On the way to Tate Modern. The Tate is the large building

on the left with the 'light-box' on its roof.

The dome of the majestic St Paul's Cathedral in the distance.

View from the high balcony looking down at Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds.

Walking under the high balcony towards the exhibition.

My favourite taken with a timed shot. The height of the seeds is about six inches.

A slightly out of focus close-up

View from the far end showing the height of the Turbine Hall.

Video recording room where visitors can video record their

responses to the exhibition which are then relayed to Ai Weiwei.

Near the exit. The view down the ramp towards the exhibition.

If you walk under the balcony you reach the exhibition.

This is such a dramatic vista even though it's dark.