Wednesday 17 July 2013

On the Easel

Just a quick post  of what I've been up too recently.

I'm currently in my studio where my cooling system is on overdrive as we are currently experiencing a hot summer, something very unusual in the UK! Hopefully I will be able to take advantage of this weather soon and get outdoors for a spot of painting, however in the meantime I have been working on my oil technique.

I have found some really nice oil primed linen boards from Jacksons. I ordered a job lot and have been producing small paintings, with various degrees of success, really just to let me figure out how I want to paint.

These are some of the little paintings I have taken to completion. 
The first painting is on an Ampersand Gesso Board but the others are on the linen. I've tried to vary my edges and not have too much detail as I want to have a bit more of a looser flowing feel in places. The boards are only small 7x5 inches.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Winter Wolves

I've just returned from a very enjoyable weekend visiting my sister in Kent and photographing a group of wolves at the Anglian Wolf Society.

My sister has really taken an interest in photography recently so for her Christmas present I paid for her to go on a one day photography course with Wild Arena, they offer courses photographing various animals but of course I chose my favourite subject of Wolves, I hasten to add that she does like them too! 

I travelled to Kent last Thursday before my sister and I made our way to the Anglian Wolf Society on the Friday to join a few more hardy souls braving the unseasonably cold weather! 
On our arrival we proceeded to add as many layers as possible to keep out the cold wind which was keeping temperatures to about -3, perfect for the Wolves but less so for us.
I must say that we could not have been looked after any better on the day by Peter from Wild Arena and the lovely volunteers from the Society, the never ending supply of hot coffee was much appreciated!

The society is only small but has four very well looked after Carpathian Wolves, two males and two females. They have two enclosures with one male and one female in each, they are very aware of each others presence and are not above letting the other couple know about the 'pecking order' especially at meal times!


This is me in my many layers, I'm not normally quite so chunky looking but at least I was relatively warm, although Cheza the Alpha male kept giving me very withering stares every time he passed me by!

By the end of the afternoon everyone was extremely cold but at least apart from the odd flurries the snow had managed to stay away and no day with Wolves would be complete without a howl or two!

Many thanks for a very enjoyable day to Wild Arena, the Anglian Wolf Society volunteers and especially Cheza, Peyto, Aiyana and Kaya the Wolves!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

All Finished

Well, I should have posted this earlier but here are a few more stages of my mural and the finished product. As you can see I got to have a bit of a workout up and down steps, never a bad thing!

Here's the final mural (above). I wanted it to be quite stylised like the old railway posters and be in tints rather than strong colours as I didn't want it to make the room smaller, it is meant to enhance rather than dominate, hopefully I have managed to achieve that!

Wednesday 6 February 2013

More Mural!

An update on my Mural for you. It is now finished so I now have time to post some pictures for you which were very kindly taken by Paul at TopMark whilst I was painting.

The following pictures give you a bit of an idea about my working set up. I think it always takes a couple of days just to get into a groove and set up a studio away from home, things start to move a little quicker once you are comfortable and have set up a routine.

Just because of the nature of the style I am working on, it means that I have to mix quite a lot of individual paint mixes. I keep the mixes wet by having plenty of cling film wrap to cover my little pots of paint, this also means that I can adapt a mix for a different area of the mural by making it warmer or adding more chroma etc, the trick is trying to keep some sort of order to work out which mix is from which area!

Below is the next stage of the mural, I'm pretty much filling in the big areas, lots of green, keeping it stylised but aware of the chroma. As you can see, my little paint roller is especially handy in the big areas!

More to come next week on the next stage.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Happy New Year, happy new Mural!

Happy New Year to everyone!

I have been a bit quiet on the blog front as I have been working on a mural for a lovely local firm called Topmark. They are specialists in bikes, windsurfing and water sports, should you ever need advise on such matters in this area these are the guys to see, they really know their stuff!
Topmark are opening a new showroom area for kids and ladies bikes so wanted a plain wall painting with a mural. Bill, the owner wanted the subject to be on the local area and of course to include items sold in the shop. I came up with the following design which we all agreed on.

This is the version which I used as a working template for the large mural, hence the blobs of colour all around the edges!
I came up with this very stylised scene of actual places as I needed to be able to fill large areas of the wall quite quickly and too much detail would have taken far too long to complete. I decided to base the design on old railway posters of the UK such as the following:

As you can see, my design is a little less colourful though as I didn't want the room to be too dominated by strong colours. Because my mural is much larger than a railway poster I felt the colours needed to be  less dominant and enhance the room rather than dominate.

The first thing I had to do after agreeing on the rough and visual was to do a line version of the drawing onto acetate. I then took the acetate and an OHP and projected the image onto the wall, once this was done I could then copy the design to scale with a 2B pencil.

Next stage above, I started filling in the big areas with my paint roller. One of the most time consuming things to do was actually mixing enough paint to fill, in some cases, quite large areas. I used Winsor and Newton Galeria flow formula Acrylics as they are pretty hard wearing and perfect for indoor murals.
I could then start to block in other areas such as the clouds and mountains:

I will post on how the mural progresses in my next blog. Happy painting all!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Gesso Board

I've just realised that I haven't posted for a while so here is what I have been up too.

I had the lovely month of August free to work on my own paintings before I launched back into teaching my art classes in September. The classes are now well on their way with my students undertaking various projects suited for the mediums of Graphite, Watercolour and Acrylic.

The last time I posted, I was trying various techniques in oil paint on some of the canvas panels I purchased. With plenty of practice I've realised that these boards are not really suitable for the effect I'm trying to achieve as they are so absorbent I can never achieve the brush strokes I want! What looks good whilst the paint is wet just disappears on drying and renders all my brush strokes pretty much the same!
I'm therefore trying a couple of different surfaces which are far less absorbent and allow me to have a greater variety of brush strokes showing. It's early days yet but I think both surfaces are definitely the way to proceed, the cotton canvas boards have been shelved for now!

The following couple of paintings in progress are on the Ampersand gesso boards that I picked up on my last visit to the US. They have a lovely smooth finish, take a firmer brush stroke and a wash equally well, all the things that I'm a wanting for my technique.

The first picture has an imprimatura in transparent oxide brown on a reasonably cool mid tone wash as the painting is meant to be in a cool light. I've then suggested the relative temperatures, hues and values in thin paint diluted with a little sansador over the entire composition. The next stage is to then start putting more detail in a final layer. 

The following painting is also on the gesso board but I decided after doing the imprimatura the  same way as the first to try taking small areas to completion rather than a loose block in of the entire thing as in the first painting. I might also add a little oil to the first layer rather than just using sansador, I think this will give just a little more richness to the colour.

I will carry on with both these paintings to see which way I prefer working but at the moment I can say for definite that the gesso board has made a huge difference!

I've also just received a shipment of Claessens linen canvas panels which I am dying to have a go of, I will let you know how I get on with those next time around!

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Busy times!

Well my art classes are coming to an end for their usual summer break until September, this then gives me a little more time to work on my own projects, that's not to say that I haven't been busy painting in between classes! With that in mind I thought I would share a little of what I have been up to!

I'm still playing around with the oils to make myself comfortable with the varying ways of starting a painting but also finding a style that really suits me. Although at times I have found it frustrating, overall I am so glad I made the decision just over two years ago to switch mediums from Acrylic to oil, the way I paint now is far looser than my illustrative style and way more enjoyable!
I can safely say I have learned more in the last 2-3 years than in the previous 20 and my focus has definitely changed in what I like artistically and what I am looking to achieve in my paintings. Although my output in terms of finished paintings hasn't been great and I really have neglected things like contacting galleries I have furthered my understanding in many artistic subject areas which hopefully will reap rewards in the long run, maybe all those stacked up failed canvas boards will have been worth it!!

I'm still starting my studio pieces with an imprimatura in transparent oxide brown, some areas scumbled some as washes with a little added sansador, this lets me map out my values and concentrate on the composition of the painting such as below

Now at this stage previously I would start blocking in the large shapes in the appropriate hue, chroma, temperature etc, however I realised that would mean my edges would be all soft so I decided to add a thin block in in the large areas, let them dry and then start to work into them, hence a variety of edges and also I can then leave some of these areas showing through in the final painting, see below

I then decided to do a flat, thin block in of all the middle colour values over the entire picture and let it dry. Currently I have about 8 pictures drying at this stage such as the one below (obviously I haven't finished the wolf section yet)

I'm finding I like doing these layers very thinly with bristle brushes as scumbles and just straight oil paint at this stage no medium. They are meant to be just a block as the appropriate ground colour over which I can lay the finishing layer in one go, I will have to wait for these to dry before giving that a go!

Anyway, chattering done for the day, off to do some more painting!