Saturday, 30 April 2016

5 Tweets in 5 Days (no 2)

oil painting of siskin

A pretty spectacle for a Saturday and a Bank Holiday, I thought. Siskins are members of the finch family and are resident in this part of the UK (South West). Not sure what is going on in this scene: a bit of a land grab, I shouldn't be surprised. 
We must have a million potential nest sites round about our house, but it is surprisingly common to see fisticuffs over one or two preferred sites: avian prime real estate.
Painted in one sitting using cadmium yellow, black and white (and a blob of permanent rose for one guy's mouth). I washed in the background the night before and let it dry.

Friday, 29 April 2016

5 Tweets in 5 Days (No 1)

After a few weeks of working on "Map" and "wallpaper" paintings, I took a break and went back to daily paintings. It is very satisfying being able to complete a painting in one sitting and I had missed the fun of that.
Casting about for subject matter, I only had to look out of the window where the birds are in the throes of early spring house-building, foraging and pairing up. Here's a blue tit, Tweet No 1.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Scottish Deerhound

oil painting, Scottish deerhound, Scotland, painting

Here is my final "wallpaper" painting, at least for a while. This handsome boy is a Scottish Deerhound, with a long coat that is naturally the same colour as Scottish skies. At any rate, this is the colour they have always been when I have gone to Scotland.  As the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly famously once said: "Scotland has two seasons: June and winter".

When I saw the tilt of this dog's head, I thought he looked homesick for some reason and I imagined he would be homesick for Scotland, given that he is a Scottish deerhound.

Even though I know very little about Scotland, I put into this painting all I knew about the emotion of homesickness.

It uses an extremely limited palette: Ultramarine Deep, Alizarin Crimson, black and white.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Yellow Wallpaper

Black dog, yellow wallpaper, an oil painting
This is a black dog, with a white bib, painted on a background of yellow wallpaper. I am not sure what else to say about him. 
I am still experimenting with using different techniques for setting a portrait. I used to work with with stitch and textiles, but switched to oil paint chiefly in order to aim for a degree of realism not easily achieved in thread. 
Now I am tempted to incorporate fabric as well as paper into my oil paintings.
The "how to" is quite tricky though - you obviously cannot paint directly onto fabric without prepping it first (think linen or canvas, which usually has at least 3 layers of glue or gesso to prepare it to accept oils). As soon as you prep it appropriately, it loses its fundamental qualities. 
A conundrum, then, which at present I am resolving by working round the additional material.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Sled-dog puppy

oil painting of a malamute, husky, sled-dog
This sweet dog is a Malamute or a Husky or maybe a mix of both: I am not sure, hence titling the piece "Sled-dog". His back drop is a map of Canada. I liked the way the state lines echoed his one-ear-up, one-ear-down pose.
I started by "wall-papering" my linen board with the map and started with his eyes. Then, I blocked in the warm, middling sort of tone in his fur and the pink of his inner ear. I let this stage dry:
work-in-progress photo 1, oil painting of a sled-dog

Next, I painted his nose and began adding some of his darker fur:
work-in-progress photo 2, oil painting of a sled dog

At this stage, the white you can see is the white of the linen board. I let this stage tack-up and then took a big breath and began to add white. I used Gamblin Flake White ( a lead white replacement) because it behaves nicely and is much less like to turn to mud on the surface if I am a bit heavy handed
work-in-progress photo 3, oil painting of a sled dog

The paint went on nicely but I had forgotten how long this white takes to dry. 
So there was a longer than normal pause before I could finish the piece. The difference between this stage and the finished painting at the top of the post is a glaze of Raw Sienna to warm him up a bit and then a re-stating and softening of his white fur.

I continue learning how best to achieve different effects. Sometimes the pressure - wholly artificial - I put on myself to complete daily paintings is counter-productive. I can't achieve the sort of effects in this painting in one session. Brindle coats or any dark coat with light ticking (or vice versa) needs to be worked in layers, I find (unless you are willing to dump the detail in favour of a more impressionist result).

Sometimes I try to achieve both: detail, and completion in one sitting. The outcome, for me, is not likely to be success.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

American Bluetick Coonhound

American Bluetick Coonhound, oil painting
Bluetick Coonhounds are one variety of American coonhound, bred to assist raccoon-hunting. Their ancestors include English Foxhounds, which were found by the early arrivals from the UK to the USA to be not much use for hunting American critters. Raccoons, possums, bobcats etc. turned out to be very un-sporting: they shinned up any likely looking tree out of the way and the English foxhounds were rendered completely non-plussed by this unexpected outcome. They wandered off in search of something else or milled about uselessly. 
Coonhounds, by contrast, have been raised and taught to "tree" the animal: there are videos on YouTube showing these dogs tree-ing raccoons.
The painting is made on a linen board pre-mounted with a bit of map of the US torn out of an old atlas. Please see my previous post for invaluable tips on wallpapering! I chose this section because there was a nice big blue square, labelled Wyoming, which echoed nicely the dog's blueticking. I painted him in two sessions: in the first, I painted everything but used no white at all. He looked rather strange. I left the paint to dry for 3-4 days and then came back with white, toned down very slightly with raw sienna in parts. So in terms of method, he could more accurately be described as a white-ticked coonhound.
The wonderful, subtle blue shimmer is thanks to my new Rembrandt Ultramarine Deep. It is fantastic, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I saw the tube in a photo of Richard Schmid's palette and thought I must get myself one of these. All blues, I have discovered, are not the same.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Labradoodle - Study in Red

labradoodle oil painting
This was much more difficult to paint than I had anticipated when I started. The palette I used was: Transparent Oxide Brown (Rembrandt), Transparent Oxide Red (Rembrandt), Naples Yellow Light (Rembrandt), Transparent Red Ochre (W&N), Yellow Ochre Light (W&N) and white.There is a brush tip of black for the pupils of his eyes and his nostrils.
To achieve the impression of soft curls on his chest, I scrubbed in Transparent Oxide Brown and Red, in a sort of stripes pattern, trying not to over blend. Then I used a cotton bud (Q tip) to wipe out the light-catching 'ridges' of his curls. Once the paint had tacked up, but was not completely dry, I added some lighter highlights with a soft brush and tidied up the darks. 
His face took forever. I let the paint dry twice in order to add additional layers. So this "daily painting" took about 10 days.
I seem to be moving away from the lick-and-finish approach of daily painting - trying to complete a piece from start to finish in 2 or 3 hours. It is an approach that doesn't always give the effects I want. Hence less frequent posts of late.
But this is OK, I think. Have a good weekend everyone and thanks you for looking at my paintings.