Tuesday, December 27, 2011

O Christmas tree!

O beautiful Christmas tree! I've always adored Christmas trees for drawing and painting purposes. This is a black artificial tree that we brought over from England with us. Although it is described as black, I didn't use any black watercolour in the painting of it, but mixes of indigo blue, crimson and viridian. I did use lots of masking fluid! This painting took a long time as I built it up in lots of layers. My first step was to apply masking fluid 'spots' to represent the little lightbulbs, and then to apply a pale blue wash over the entire piece of paper so that the only truly white bits would be the lights. When that was dry I applied masking fluid in a ring around the lightbulbs. After putting colours down for the various baubles I masked them all out. I also painted the violet shadows cast by the tree onto the wall. I built up the dark colour of the tree in several stages, taking my brush in the direction of the tree branches, and not having to worry about saving the decorations or lights as they were all masked. It was really important for me to mix a deep intense colour, as the watercolours always dry lighter and I was after a strong contrast between the dark of the 'black' tree and the lights and ornaments.
It always makes me sad to take the decorations down in January. I miss the extra lights, but continue to light candles every evening ;)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day, watching TV

I have to tell you, I'm not overly pleased with today's painting, of Oscar and Pumpkin. I'm not going to bemoan the fact that Oscar kept getting up to play Lego during the sitting and that Pumpkin rearranged her furry self at least five times because frankly, blaming the subject for a poor painting is like a bad workman blaming his tools, as they say! That is the joy and the vexing challenge of painting from life! It gave us a lot of laughs anyway!
Then it pleased me no end to go for a barefoot boxing day walk on the beach, and Maisie had a really good run around.
I have a new camera now which I need to learn to use, let's hope it's good for taking photos of paintings! Then all I'll need is a computer that works for happy blogging in 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Joyeux Noël!

Merry Christmas everyone! I haven't painted today (yet anyway!), but I painted these pretty Christmas fruits just before our trip to England last week. We think they're made of polystyrene, and are covered in tiny glass balls. I love bringing them out at Christmas! We have them in the centre of the kitchen table this year. It's the first Christmas any of us have spent outside of the UK! We are at home though! ;)
I hope you are all having a really lovely day with your family and friends! XX

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Back on the island for Christmas and Big Prize Draw!

I am exhausted after our 27 hour journey! We arrived back on the island at 4.30pm today, Christmas Eve. Look at all our Christmas luggage! It took several hours to organise things in the house when we got back but now we are all set for a relaxing evening! Hence no new painting!
Sixty four names went into the hat (literally - the familiar old ways are so reliable!) to win the Christmas bauble painting, and the winner is...... Clare P from Lincolnshire, UK!! Well done Clare!!
To everybody a very Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noël !!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ho ho ho!

Again, we find ourselves travelling! It doesn't seem as though we have
been in England five minutes! We're driving back to the south now and
will be spending the night on the ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre,
arriving back on the island mid afternoon on Christmas Eve. I will be
picking a winner out of the hat for the Christmas bauble painting. All
blog followers and email subscribers are included in the draw!
I did try to finish another festive still life painting while visiting
relatives in Yorkshire this week but didn't quite manage it, so here's
Maisie looking serene in front of the Christmas tree! At the time of
writing this she's actually in her crate in the back of the car, being
very good and quiet. Thank goodness she travels well, we spend so much
time on the move!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The King of Christmas

Click to bid

Our journey over to England was an eventful one. We arrived on the mainland amidst enormous waves and drove through rain, sleet and hail storms on the way to Le Havre. The ferry crossing to Portsmouth was rough - luckily I don't get sea sick although many people were suffering on the six hour journey!
Since arriving back in the UK late Friday night we have already enjoyed spending lots of time with friends, we've been to a lovely Christmas party and Fred's fabulous carol concert in his barn which is the village highlight of the year, got absolutely soaked walking Maisie in the rain AND I have made time to paint this festive still life. These are some little Christmas presents for my friends, and my rather regal lion was a fabulous find at a house clearance sale several years ago. I bought him with his unicorn companion whom I have painted many times but lion has been a little underused so far in the still life department!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bon depart!

Oh it's a little sad today as it was Milly and Oscar's last day at French school! Oscar has been inundated with beautiful drawings and homemade cards from his little friends at the island school. This gorgeous one by our friend and neighbour Hugo aged 8 is a really accurate depiction of our house, with the sunflowers growing outside. I love it! I must point out that we don't actually have a huge Union Jack flag attached to our chimney! It also shows Oscar playing with his friend and neighbour Mathis, and 'le petit train' -the island's 'taxi' should you need it, a tractor which pulls a little carriage! Milly's friends have been crying as did her friends in England this time last year!
I have been to the vets with Maisie today for the necessary (pre-entering the UK) tick and worm treatments. I am SO glad the rules are changing from January 1st and the vets' visit 24 hours prior to travelling won't be compulsory! Today it took me almost three and a half hours to make this simple trip because a)there isn't a vets on the island and b) we are on the winter ferry timetable which means at least two hours between crossings and also it was low tide both going and returning which is a good walk!
Tomorrow we are travelling to England for a pre-Christmas week catching up with family and friends and coming back to the island on Christmas Eve. I'm not sure when I'll be able to post again, I did paint some bejewelled Christmas fruits today so if I can get a good photo of that tomorrow I will send it out! Hope all your Christmas preparations are going well!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas tree bauble, Japanese doll

Christmas tree bauble Japanese doll
  'Tis the season to be jolly.... and I really wanted to thank you my friends and subscribers for your support for my blog and my painting! Today I painted this, one of my favourite christmas tree decorations. It's an oil on canvas board, 18 x 13cms, and it is a gift for you - but I can only give it to one of you! All of my members/followers and email subscribers' names will go into a hat - one of Oscar's probably! I'll give the little painting a chance to dry and we'll do the draw on Christmas eve, and shortly afterwards this sweetie will be wrapped up and posted to one of you, an extra pressie!
I do not know why blogger is underlining everything I write today and I can't change it!

Click to bid
Glass VW beetle decoration
Today, my computer is working (a temporary relief!) so I am setting up auctions for these two paintings...
Click to bid
Washing line

Monday, December 12, 2011

Glass VW beetle decoration

Click to bid
Glass VW beetle decoration
I have been absent for a few days, sorry! All those seasonal things to do! I needed to do a painting that would relax me today and get me back into the swing a little bit! Still no computer!
This is a watercolour of a small glass tree decoration that I was given for my birthday, and it's sitting on top of one of Roos Schuring's fabulous postcards that I was very happy to receive today! Unfortunately I can't add a link here but if you don't already know Roos' work, please google her name. You won't be disappointed!
It's a very busy time for me as we're in the process of moving back to England, but I'll post images whenever I can! Thanks so much for staying with me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Washing line

Click to bid
Washing line
The rain has kept away today, finally a day to hang washing on the line! I love the long winter shadows across the garden. I wanted to keep the handling of the subject really broad, and not get sucked into little details. I think I have managed that.
The photo doesn't really do the painting justice!
In truth, the colours are brighter, the contrasts are greater, the dark areas darker, the whites brighter and there is a lush juicy creamy thickness to the paint!
The sunlit grass is more of a chartreuse green than the dirty yellow it looks here! :(
So please bear that in mind and I'll put a better photo on as soon as I can.
Now a big question for you... it occurred to me that I could add an orange ball to the grass just in front of Maisie's nose, give her something to look at!
What do you think? Ball or no ball?!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bright garden hens 2

Bright garden hens
Ooh I am SO cross with technology today!! Computer not working, iPad keeps crashing, iPhone not taking good photos, camera taking terrible photos (!), can't edit photos because computer not working.... sorry to moan but my 'blog-life' is pretty hard going right now!
I'll try to keep going but if I disappear for a few days or weeks you will know why.... but I WILL get all these bugs sorted one way or another so please stick with me!
I've finished my bright garden hens, and it is actually a lot brighter and less fuzzy than it looks on this photo!
I can tell you the children weren't too impressed with it... but I feel it's good to push yourself out of comfort zones and shake things up a bit... even if you don't immediately see the benefits, I believe it will pay you dividends somewhere down the line ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bright garden hens

I think my computer has completely given up on life, so I'm experimenting with posting from my iPad again, let's hope the writing and image go together this time!
I'm also experimenting with a high key palette again!
This is another large (20" x 20") canvas, and my subject matter for this is a small pen sketch that I made several years ago, when we had a very large garden and a little flock of hens. It's very liberating to work from a sketch with no colour, as I really want to get away from the naturalistic colours of objects and use a more emotional approach. It's all a bit of a leap into the unknown, colour wise! As it stands tonight I've no idea how I take it forward from here, but find it extremely exciting none-the-less!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The unicorn, hyacinths and a dream

The unicorn, hyacinths and a dream
While I am on the subject of the elusive THING that I am chasing in my artwork (see yesterday's post!) I thought I would really like to show you this. I painted it last year while living in England. I had gathered these still life objects together in order to paint a demonstration for my class, but due to enormous amounts of snow the class was cancelled (we have very small dangerous rural roads there! Nobody wants to attempt to drive to an art class in those conditions and rightly so!). Therefore I stayed at home and painted the objects anyway.
I find it a very joyful painting and feel it also has a strong touch of the THING!
It also has lettering.... ah, the pleasure!
And gold leaf too - what fun!
It's also the same size canvas, a 20" x 20". And it makes a change from oranges ;)

'To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself - means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight - and never stop fighting.'
E E Cummings

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pumpkin, roses and clementines 2

Pumpkin, roses and clementines 2
It was a much easier day today with occasional rain but big spells of sunshine too. I was able to have three of the four pets outdoors, while I continued with yesterday's painting.
I really wanted to brighten it up in places, but keep the spontaneity. I'm not altogether sure it's finished yet, so I've hung it up where I can keep glancing at it and see what ideas bounce back to me.
What do you think?
Fellow artists I expect you will understand when I say that every now and then you complete a painting and think 'yes, that has that certain nameless thing, that me-ness, that je ne sais quoi, that undefinable THING that I am chasing, the germ of a direction I need to be taking', and this is one of those paintings for me.
Now if only I could name and harness what that THING is, we'll be laughing!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pumpkin, roses and clementines 1

Pumpkin, roses and clementines 1
   Can you imagine my delight today when
a) I saw Pumpkin (my biggest, heaviest cat and supposedly the mature sensible type) walk onto my wet canvas which was drying on the table and
b) I saw Maisie jump on a chair and sweep her tail over my palette full of oil paints.... Grrrr!
It's been raining all day and so while painting in the kitcen I've had the pleasure of the company of all three cats aswell as the dog.
The only upside was that Pumpkin then decided to join my still life subject (usually Charlie's trick) and I had a complete change of plan from what I was about to do. The roses are from the garden - still flowering in December!
I grabbed a large linen canvas (instead of the one with cat pawprints imprinted into it) and oh! What a joy it was to paint! This is definitely my preferred size of working, 20" x 20". I've been doing so many small things lately I'd forgotten how wonderful it is!
I really wanted to stick to a high key palette (which actually isn't as light - tonally- as I intended, with the colour of the linen showing through). I also wanted some ambiguity, vibrant colours and lively brush strokes and I think I've been quite successful on those fronts. I always love paintings with a shallow depth of field like this, as though the subject has been tilted up towards you.
Finally, here is a photo of my muse...
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