Thursday, 20 July 2017

Bright Eyes

Oil painting of a beautiful beagle using a limited palette
This was a limited palette painting, working with a No 4 Ivory flat brush. For fiddly bits (chiefly eyes) I turned the brush and used the corners to get a touch of detail. Whiskers were painted separately when everything else was dry using an extra long liner with about 2 hairs (I think it is aimed at miniaturists, size 30/0).

The palette was chosen almost by accident, as the support had seen two previous 'wipers' and as a result was coloured a sort of pale, salmon pink. It reminded me of the paler colouring on some beagle-type dogs and I thought it would be fun to try and make a dog emerge organically out of the mush of previous failures.

To paint his eyes I cleaned up eye-shaped holes in the background using cotton buds and mineral spirits. I seem to get a better shine on eyes if the background behind the transparent paint is white.

So, colours were: Transparent Oxide Brown (by Rembrandt - for the eyes); Burnt Sienna, Purple Lake, Lamp Black, Titanium White and Cadmium Red Medium (all Winsor and Newton).

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Got something for me?

oil painting of a Pointer looking straight at you and saying "Got something for me?"
This painting was worked standing at my new easel, using bigger brushes and with the goal of loosening up my technique a bit. I found it impossible to work the eyes standing and with big brushes, though. 
The linen board was pre-loved - in other words, my previous painting was a wiper. And the one before that. To get a fresh surface for a 3rd attempt, I wiped some titanium white all over it and left it to dry.
Then I drew out the dog with a pencil and decided I didn't like the fact I had set the board up landscape.
So I turned it round to portrait, wiped burnt sienna and turps all over the board and re-drew the dog with a brush, ignoring the lines underneath.
oil painting work-in-progress, 1st stage

Incidentally, this is how I set my easel up to hold small panels in position (as with all studio easels, they are really built to hold large canvases not small panels):
How to Set up a studio easel to hold small panels

Basically, I have set up a large 6mm deep canvas board as the support for the panel. Then I have cut strips off a canvas board using a Stanley knife and attached those strips to the backing board with nice, big, stiff clips. These strips can then be moved to accommodate larger or smaller panels. I placed my panel between the two strips and adjusted them so it was held really tightly and will not move. The main thing is to make sure the strips are thicker than the panel you are working on so they get a proper grip. If necessary, stick two strips together with a glue gun. That's what I did.

Anyway, here is the next stage. Basic colour blocks and especially the darks in place:
work-in-progress oil painting of a pointer dog
And the final stage photo, working right to left now laying in more detail and correcting the drawing as needed along the way.
work-in-progress oil painting of a pointer dog
Thanks for reading along, have a great weekend.

Friday, 7 July 2017

First Light

High chiaroscuro oil painting of a Maine Coon cat
This high chiaroscuro portrait of a Maine Coon cat marks a new beginning for me: I have decided to change some of my approaches to painting in the hope that I can improve more quickly. 
It is difficult to sustain progress when you work alone and have no teacher or mentor to chivvy you out of your comfort zone.
But as the old cliché says: if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

So I decided to change a few things to try and get off my plateau and on to the next level up of this painting journey.

My goal is to paint more freely whilst also maintaining accuracy. 

To work towards achieving looser brushwork I decided, first, to change my work area, dumping the desk easel and working as much as I can standing up. 
I bought a fab new easel and what I call my Yellow Brick Road Rug which shows me how far to step back to evaluate my work:
photograph of a working artist's studio
Yes, I know the road isn't yellow, but let's pretend
Second, I have dumped working with lines. At least, as much as feasible. I am trying to block in the painting using mass and tone. Here is the first stage of the cat:

underpainting of Maine Coon cat

Third, I have dumped black. I read somewhere - and annoyingly, I cannot remember where - of an artist who said you should use black exactly as you would tube white i.e. very very sparingly and only to make a statement.

In this painting, I have used no black at all apart from the cat's 'eye-liner' and pupils. All the other darks I mixed, using various amounts of: Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Purple Lake and Pthalo Green. You can see the shadow of the Pthalo Green in the stage photo, above.

It was Michael Harding Pthalo Green and I think one of his small tubes of this colour would be sufficient, if squeezed out,  to colour the entire ocean. I used a pin prick. I still have a suspicious green tinge to one or two of my nails. Makes a fab dark with alizarin, though.

Then I started to add the lights, but still no white at all: these colours are Yellow Ochre Deep and Naples Yellow Light, plus Transparent Oxide Red


I used great care with the brush because the darks were still wet and we all know what happens if you mix Yellow Ochre with darks (see previous posts on cowpats).

The final stages I painted next day when the paint wasn't dry but had tacked up sufficiently to reduce the risk of me creating mud.

I am pleased with this painting but it cost me great pains to make. It is hard to work standing up if you are not used to it. It is rare for me to actually be reduced to tears by a painting, but what with the tiredness and the wobbly legs and aching arm (from using unfamiliar long-handled brushes) and the final insult of not one, not two, but three wipers, that is what happened. 

Got somewhere in the end, though.

If you have got to the end of this - thank you very much for reading along with me. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

White Horses Study (No 2)

an oil painting of white horses galloping in the sea and emerging from the waves. Inspired by the myth of Poseidon

A second study of Poseidon's white horses galloping in the waves. 

This is painted on A4 MDF board. I gessoed it with white acrylic gesso with turquoise acrylic paint stirred in. I was none too fussy about  smoothing it out as I wanted a textured surface to make me loosen up with the paint application. 

Having decided the positioning of the horses before hand, I pushed the gesso around a bit so it is not quite so rough in the upper centre of the board, where they were to be placed. 

I drew the horses out first on a bit of paper, based on about 100 internet images of white horses together with my own toy horses that I bought from the toy shop, like these:

me with my horse painting and the horse models

Toy shops are wonderful. It is fab to have an excuse to go in them again and buy things. I also have cows, sheep, cats and dogs in my toy basket. Very helpful for compositions! 

Also I have got some skulls - you can see Yorick immediately behind me in this photo, although he is not real, he is made of resin. Real ones can be obtained from medical equipment suppliers but they are vastly expensive and also a bit creepy, don't you think?

These are real, though. I found them over many walks with the dog :


So, back row from left to right: a sheep's skull - found on Dartmoor; a roe or fallow deer stag (not sure which), found in the forest down the road and thirdly a red deer stag, found in the same forest. At the front: a fox cub skull, same forest. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

White Horses Study (No 1)

oil painting of white horses emerging from breaking waves and a foaming sea
White horses have a magical part to play in mythologies from around the world. In Greek mythology - the source of my inspiration - the sea god Poseidon had a son called Pegasus. A magnificent, winged white horse. Poseidon was also the creator of horses, making them out of the breaking waves.

One of the most famous paintings of Poseidon's white horses was by Walter Crane, an English artist and illustrator 1845-1915. Here is a study "Neptune's Horses" that he painted in 1892 (Neptune is the Roman name for the Greek god Poseidon - same bloke).

Walter Crane a study of Neptune's white horses

and a painting on the same theme from 1910. Walter made several pieces on the theme and I am going to try to do the same.

Walter Crane, Neptune's Horses, 1910

I was lucky enough to see this one - or maybe a version of it, I am not sure how many he painted - at an exhibition of animal art the other year at the Russell Coates in Bournemouth - easily my favourite Art Gallery/Museum.

I have had a go at painting a multiple horse version as well and will post that next week, hopefully. Have a lovely weekend and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Sheltie Study No 3

Oil painting of a sheltie, back view, looking up and waiting
This sheltie painting is a re-work of a previous favourite using a golden colour scheme.
I had a couple of other sheltie pieces lined up for this series but have decided to leave them for now and move on to something else, so for next week - expect something completely different!
Have a lovely weekend everyone and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Sheltie Study No 2

oil painting of a sheltie with his nose on his paw in golden colours

A little oil painting of a sheltie with his nose on his paw in golden colours. This is one of those pieces that I have photographed a number of times and still can't get a result quite as nice as the original. I started with a rejected board re-coated with  a gesso that I had coloured a soft pink, using burnt sienna. 

I painted the dog in two steps: all the darker fur, or at any rate all the fur that did not need white, then when that was dry - everything else. I twice attempted to paint him all in one go, but this combo of colours and long fur is still very hard for me to do in one pass and it resulted in wipers and frustration.
I would have had to settle for a much more impressionistic result in order to pull it off.