Two years ago I started a work in oil for The Virtual Paintout challenge and didn't finish it because I just couldn't get the colours right. I then tried to do it in gouache and watercolour and it still didn't work out but I found this half-done work a few weeks ago and was determined to 'fix' it. I didn't!! However, I then became determined to 'finish' it to some level of competence. I couldn't match the glowing oranges and rusts of the original photograph as those colours just didn't exist in my collection of gouache tubes and the detail was too fine in the original photograph to transpose to this small format, especially in that long line of small houses on the left. I also should have used a finer grain of watercolour paper to make detail work easier. The only thing I am really happy with is the tree, and even that needs some fine-tuning but I can't do any more without muddying the whole work. I now have lots of work on the go for a year-end project which might be a bit too ambitious for me taking into account the little spare time I have for painting on the weekends. We carry on.
"Lane in San Miguel de Allende"
Gouache, Watercolour and Coloured Pencil on Watercolour Paper
6" x 6"
Yet again I have indulged my love for painting shop windows with muted objects behind the vast sheets of glass and their weird reflections. I make no excuse for this but I do add to the technical difficulty with this obsessive response to the Virtual Paintout every time I do it, but I suppose it wouldn't be a challenge for me otherwise. I had hoped to do two, but just ran out of time. Below my work is a screen capture of the Google Streetview I used as my reference. I cropped the top left hand corner of the shopfront and used that for the composition.
"Storefront Window - Kobmargergade Street - Copenhagen
Oil on Board - 12" x 12"
Google Street View - With kind permission from Google
I am determined to start drawing again, drawing each day and drawing skillfully. I recently found a website that puts up photographs of life models in various poses for artists to use and practice their drawings. Great idea and a fantastic service but heck, did it test me tonight. I drew better at school, truly. This close up of one of the drawings was the best of a bad bunch. Also, the photography isn't that hot.
"Head in Hand" - Close Up
Pencil on Cartridge Paper.
I am hoping to paint some cityscapes shortly but I want to do quite a few sketches of favourite scenes before I start painting. I am finding that sketching the scene before I paint is a very good exercise for me even though it drives me mad as I am so impatient. All I wanted to do here was investigate the values, perspective and composition, and also to see whether the charcoal I have can 'handle' small works. Well it can't really and I couldn't get in the finer details so I stopped trying. I am going to buy a professional brand in a few weeks' time, the kind one sharpens with sandpaper. That should be fun. I had hoped to put in more of the details of the cathedral but that just proved impossible.
My last post was a lament for my lost or stolen camera. I never saw it again and I now have another which I claimed on insurance. It wasn't a good deal, and I won't go into that as it makes me so angry to think what happens to the consumer here in the UK with insurance and financial services' rip-offs, but the camera is the same brand as my old one and has a few extra features plus a wider zoom. What surprised me was how lost I was without one and I seriously didn't even feel like doing much art because of this which is a weird syndrome I shall have to work on at a later stage. Why couldn't I just paint and get on with it? My work doesn't need to be photographed - who the heck is waiting for it? What am I doing here not feeling my work can progress without being documented? Anyway, I feel as though my tools of trade are now complete and I look across at the disturbingly bad work in progress in the corner, a watercolour of a church altar, and I also lament the lack of practice I have been getting in lately. No-one's fault but my own. Some work will appear in the next few weeks; it will, it will, it will, it will.....will it?
"Watercolour collecting dust - early evening in the Studio"
Sometime in the last three weeks I lost my trusty digital camera, or horror of all horrors, it was stolen. I think it must have fallen out of my backpack on the train or something like that but nobody has handed it in. I am lost, totally lost without it and I can't photograph any work to post here. It's frightening to realise how dependent an artist is on her tools, and all I have left is an old SLR and a baby digital, which works, but can't meet the challenge of photographing art. I don't know if my insurance covers this sort of thing and I am loathe to fork out hundreds of pounds for another. Woe is me. Really down about this.
I had no intentions of participating in any challenges this year as I am working on bigger and 'slower' works which are more personal to me but I still check into the Virtual Paintout blog, and when I saw this month's city was Jerusalem, I felt a bit left out. I've been to Israel and walked down the Via Dolorosa and believe me it is very, very strange. The Google Street Maps seem to have visited on a sunny, busy day in this chaotic and mysterious part of the Old City of Jerusalem, so different from the day I visited when it was darker, in fact spooky, and far fewer shops were open.
"Corner Via Dolorosa & Beit HaBad - Old City, Jerusalem"
In a recent post, I wrote about the second Twitter Art Exhibition that was put on by top Norwegian artist, David Sandum to raise funds for a women's crisis centre. I just thought I would share some photographs from the exhibition held in the library at Moss, Norway. It is currently still running and apparently paintings are still being sold. This was a superb effort put on by David Sandum and I was delighted to have taken part. Apparently my painting has sold which is good news. Above the photograph of the display stand there is a link to the whole photo album on David's 'Posterous' page which beautifully shows what a well-attended and exciting event it was. So strange to think of my little work hanging up in a library in Norway without my seeing it on show! My painting is in the middle of the right hand side display in the photograph below.
I have been wanting to paint some tall, spindly trees for ages and hadn't realised there were two such gorgeous examples in the beautiful park next door to my home. Sometimes it takes years to take in one's environment! I photographed these recently and decided to paint them today. The work is basically a bit busy and I must learn to edit and work from large areas first and then develop the details at the end of the process. I also had difficulty with the yellows as they were just so transparent and weren't able to pick up the luminous leaves dancing and sparkling in the dark shadows so I mixed in a bit of white. It's probably worth saying that the sky did have that dramatic transition from dark to light - the values of the blues in the painting are not fabricated. However, I'm fairly satisfied with this one and quite surprised with it really as it was the first time I've worked on this ultra-elongated format.
This started out as a sketch for a bigger work but ended up being a bit more detailed than planned. I just couldn't help it for some reason. The colour of the peony was such a violent pink and very difficult to paint and photograph, but it was luscious and I just couldn't stop. I learned a quite a bit in this tiny work, one being that the surface of the watercolour paper I was using was a bit too rough, but overall, it's not a real issue. Learning a bit each day, these days.
Today, after enduring about five months of low dark skies and no natural light, I was determined to make good use of the sudden appearance of sunshine in my part of the world, to the extent that I turned my back on domestic chores and pulled out the art materials and quickly got painting and sketching. I haven't painted for weeks now and this is due in part to not having any decent light and being very busy at work. No excuse, but a very solid, irritating reason. I didn't even want to think about anything; I just wanted to splash some colour around so I chose a painting of Fantin Latour's as inspiration and went from there. I am partly shocked, (but not surprised), if that makes sense, how difficult it was for me to get the effects I wanted. I really have to work a plan to give myself more time in front of the easel.
"February Flowers - Mini Homage to Fantin Latour"
Watercolour, Gouache, Pencil on Watercolour Paper - 6.5" x 5.25"
After a long think this past weekend about what I have been doing art-wise since I started this blog, I decided that some of the work should be deleted as it was just not up to scratch. Part of my 'agenda' with the blog was to document my progress as it went along, but now I have realised that to a certain extent some of the paintings were done just to keep my hand around a paint brush and I refer specifically, in this instance, to a lot of the art blog challenges I have participated in over three years. These have been good for me in their own way, but as most of the subjects painted haven't been close to my own vision for my work, they have passed their sell-by date and quite frankly, have gone 'dead' on me. The juice has gone from all of them except for the 'History of Art Challenge Blog', which hosts challenges that, if I submit good work, will actually serve as an enabler for my next project. If I am going to be serious about pushing my art to a higher level, (and I am) most of the work on this blog should really be categorised as 'warm ups' and to have said 'exercises' out there in the blogosphere, doesn't seem strategic or grown-up. I am all for full disclosure when it is practical and I even considered deleting the blog, but felt that might be a step too far and too soon until I had another blog going.
So, I am keeping this blog open to everyone until Sunday evening, 29 January 2012, and after that it will be open only to those who wish to keep up with what I am doing on a regular basis and I know there are at least three friends out there who want that. Once I have sorted things out, which should be by the end of February, I shall open it to everyone again. Friends, if you wish to continue viewing this blog until I get cracking on my new series, please send me your email address via a comment (which I obviously won't publish) and I will add it to my contacts list. I am not too sure how this will work, but I think if I submit your email address, you can get in automatically. I hope this new step I am taking doesn't sound too aloof or pompous as I truly appreciate everyone who arrives on my blog whether they comment or not.
I intend to work on a series for a while on a subject that for me is truly the most painterly, most beautiful and yet, most difficult of them all. More later, but I leave a clue in the lower photograph. 2012 is going to be a year of depth for me even though I shall still be without a studio, but who knows what will happen? My purpose is to generate my own unique work for a change. I also intend to do more still lifes, slowly executed this time, to keep my technical skills honed. More later!