Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sleaford art challenge!

Sleaford art challenge
What fun I had this morning! Sleaford art challenge - six artists, one model posing with bow and arrows, two hours to complete a painting. I really enjoy this sort of thing, working alongside other artists, an audience, a time limit! We don't know what the subject will be until it all begins at 10.30. We stopped halfway through for a coffee and I still finished 15 minutes before the time was up. It must be all that practise painting faster that I've had recently!

It's three years since I last came here and did this, and it's lovely to see so many familiar faces from then!

I had my photo taken for the Sleaford Gazette - I should have asked them to mention my blog!

They've given me this huge table to display my work! How kind! Tomorrow morning I'm going to be doing a demonstration on the stage, haven't decided on subject yet. It is April fools day but I hope there won't be many pranks!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Against the light

Ok so it's finished and it's not exactly as simple as I originally envisioned it! Best laid plans, and all that! This is why I need to paint children whilst sitting in front of said child because photos - well, they just don't move do they?
It needs a title and I'm just stumped. I like mainly practical, descriptive, tell-it-like-it-is titles for paintings. 'Hyacinth, carnations and roses', 'Sunset over paddock', 'Kev with ashtray and beer bottle', you get the picture. 'Gracie with ice lolly' does nothing for me though. I seem to do a lot of paintings of Gracie. Gracie with this, Gracie with that, Gracie with such-and-such. Maybe I should introduce numbers. Gracie no. 87.
Or then again, maybe I should ask you! You have read this far after all!
So what would you call it?

If you are in my area, I'll be at Sleaford Art Event tomorrow night (private view 7.30pm), all day Saturday and Sunday. It's at North Kesteven council offices with free parking and free entry. :-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Summer in March

I had to paint plein air today. We are having weather like summer in March! It's so strange because it is hot and sunny every day and yet mostly the trees are still bare! The yellow flowers you can see are oilseed rape just starting to flower. I think the colour is fine in small doses like this but when all the fields are covered it's not the most attractive yellow in my opinion!
I had an hour and a half for this painting, en route to collecting the children from school. I may work on it a little more. I'd like to take it back and work on the spot but know I won't get a chance to before going back to Brehat on Monday. Tomorrow I'll be workshop planning, Friday teaching all day and Friday night and all weekend I'll be fully occupied with the Sleaford Art Event!

24 x 30cms, oils on canvas board

Monday, March 26, 2012

Haven't disappeared!

As I dash out of the door yet again - this time to watch both my children in a theatre production - just wanted to reassure you I haven't disappeared!! Just been very, very busy!
Haven't spoken with you since the night before I went on a great Internet strategy for artists workshop - that's a little ironic!
In my spare moments I'm still working on the painting above. I know that many of you loved it at it's first stage - so did I actually but it didn't say enough for me. I am finding the stripy top irresistible!
Hope I can keep the essence of the piece - that amazing backlighting and quiet, reflective mood, without killing it off with detail.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Start of something

It's not a great week for having oodles of painting time, it has to be said - teaching two all day workshops, attending one all day workshop, two parents evenings, workshop planning, online course I'm taking... you get the picture... so apologies if my blog looks a little sketchy and sporadic lately! We're going to Brehat soon for two weeks over the Easter break and so I promise you (and myself!) a couple of seascapes coming up!
In the meantime, this is new! Inspired by my 'Party girls' fast painting demo on Monday, I had a hunt for some photos that I'd taken which were similar in that they show children 'contre jour', that is, silhouetted against the light.
This is my god-daughter Gracie again, she's eating an ice lolly at the dining table but what really drew me to the subject was the light.
Now really I should be 'biting the bullet' and painting from children live and not from photos which is something I do want to be tackling more of. Anyway, I'm fired up by this for now and it feels great to be painting on this scale. It's 24" x 16" and as I've mentioned before it feels much more natural to me to paint around this size. I'm hoping to be able to keep to the same level of casual finish as 'Party girls', just capturing the essentials and leaving plenty to the imagination.
I thought you might like to see the photo that I'm working from so here it is together with the canvas;

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just a little bit

Just a little something today! I only had a little time to paint (an hour), and I feel a little bad about that (too long spent with the computer- tsk!) but at least that little time was spent outside in the sunshine!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Party girls!

Party girls!
Today was my 'Painting faster' workshop! It was great!
This was my demo piece which I painted in only forty minutes! I wanted to choose a complicated subject and show how I would simplify it right down to essentials. It's all about the tonal values - crucial to get right in any painting! Believe it or not, when you view this painting from a little distance (or squint your eyes as you look at this small version), you think it's photo-realistic... but it is SO not! Have a little closer peek...

I had thoughts at the time about 'finishing it off' a bit later but I no longer want to! I want to place it somewhere prominent to always remind myself how it is possible to say so much with so little!

Everyone rose to the challenge and did a great job! Eight artists, five hours = 40 paintings! Actually John did a one minute sunset too so make that 41! Hmm... future recruits for my 24 hour paint-a-thon maybe...

Pearl even had time to produce an exciting installation piece...

At the end of the day, even the props went home tired...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cupcake and roses

Cupcake and roses
Click to bid
Oils on stretched canvas, 10" x 12"
I wanted to work again with the same subject that I was using for the thirty minute exercise, and this time get the teacup in! It's a teacup filled with candle, it's very pretty. I also wanted to use the same colour palette and even more importantly, I wanted the same boldness about the brushstrokes. And economy! I wanted to use the minimum of brushstrokes as necessary, place a mark and leave it alone.
I didn't have a time limit this time! I think I've achieved everything I set out to do, I like it very much! Would quite happily keep it but I'll put it up for auction in case one of you wants a chance!

Here's a detail, lovely smooth lusciousness...

Yum, I could eat those colours... or I could actually go and eat the cake I suppose...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ten min prim

Ten minute primula
Click to bid
I'm still thinking about my faster painting workshop and decided to challenge myself with a ten minute time restriction today! Simple enough subject, small board (18 x 13 cms) and paints ready to go.... it was achievable I think!
It's such a good exercise as it forces you to consider what are the most important things about the subject that you need to get down!
Here's a close up so you can see how lush and thick the paint application was...

Still euphoric over the success of yesterday's thirty minute painting I find myself asking why isn't it possible for me to do ten such paintings in a single day? It's a great theory isn't it? So why doesn't it actually WORK like that?! Answers on a postcard please...

Hmm... sounds like a challenge though...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Painting faster!

Cupcake, rose and hyacinth
Click to bid

I've been preparing for my next workshop which is all about painting faster! It throws up some very interesting questions about what exactly you would call fast, and what the benefits are of painting faster. What would you consider fast in the completion of a painting? For me it's anything up to an hour and a half. Back in the day, at university, we painted in full colour from the life model with only five minutes each pose. That's what I call a good education!

So today I set my timer for this painting and gave myself thirty minutes. Not a second more! I started getting anxious when I had ten minutes left mind you!
Although reluctant to stop when the timer finished I did and am actually really thrilled with it! I think I captured the essential info with an expressive, direct feeling to the marks and bold colour. If I had unlimited time I'm sure I would have lost that with 'fiddling' and 'neatening up'! Sound familiar?
I used a fairly small board (10" x 8") and fairly large brush and laid out my paint on the palette before I started the clock.
I thought you might be interested to see the objects I was working from...

There are still places available on the workshop on Monday... you know you love a challenge! Find out all about it on my website

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Venice breakfast and an English tea party!

Union jack tea party
Yesterday was my 'Paint a tea party' workshop in Dry Doddington! What fun! Thank you all for coming and thank you all my friends who provided cake stands and teapots! Thank you Waitrose for those lovely little cakes on sticks... I should have taken a photo before they were all painted then eaten!

I have finished my Venice breakfast, and here it is...

Venice breakfast
Oil on canvas board 12" x 16"

Went to Brehat at the weekend to collect my painting of Camille, 600 miles of driving and two overnight's on the ferry and all worthwhile for seven hours in paradise on Saturday! Then after the tea party I drove up to Doncaster with it where it is now in the capable hands of my lovely courier who will get it down to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters for me. I said I hoped he hadn't received too many entries for the exhibition... and he assured me there are plenty. Oh.
Here she is ready to go...

And more news... you're getting three days worth in one pop here!
My dear friend blogger Julie Ford Oliver from New Mexico awarded me a Liebster blog award! How kind! This is what she said about my blog .. 'Interesting and personal art viewpoints from a fun and talented artist who lives between England and an island in France' - why thank you!

As part of the tradition I get to nominate fellow bloggers whose work motivates and inspires me, and that have less than 200 followers, so I'm going with the Union Jack theme above and nominating three fellow Brits!
Please take a look at the blogs of...

Nigel Fletcher (who lives in France and produces beautiful work in watercolours and oils and I am lucky enough to own an original!),
Ken Devine (who lives in Nottinghamshire but plans to move to France one day, beautiful vibrant paintings and has just started painting out of the studio which I watch with interest!)
Penny German (any links with France Penny?! who lives in England although has moved around the world, paints lovely still life's and is a great online painting buddy support for me. Thank you Penny!

As well as enjoying the artwork of these talented painters by subscribing to their blogs you really get to care about them as individuals too as they share their thoughts and feelings. Power to your elbows guys!

So please take a look at them and don't forget Julie - she's an incredibly inspiring workhorse of an artist with so much information to impart!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Venice on my mind!

I may have Venice on my mind lately... but tomorrow I'm heading off to Brehat to collect the painting of Camille, back on Sunday! You may not hear from me for a few days more...
I've been working on this today and yesterday, from a photo of a delightful breakfast enjoyed in Venice with my friends. This must be what is meant by La dolce vita! Apricot and chocolate filled croissants, heart shapes on top of our cappuccinos, all the time in the world to watch the Venetian world go by... that's the life!!
Anyway this 12" x 16" oil painting isn't quite resolved yet... let's hope it doesn't turn into one of that gang of unfinished pieces lurking around my peripheral vision... won't be able to touch it for a few days anyway!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The church of San Giacomo di Rialto, Venice, 10.30am

Click to bid
Church of San Giacomo di Rialto, Venice
Oils on canvas board, 24 x 30cms.
After getting sidetracked by the new yesterday, I managed to finish something today! This painting was done on the spot on my last trip to Venice, but on reflection it was lacking the strong tonal contrast of the shadow on the front of the church and the sunlit buildings running towards the Rialto bridge. It also had too much of a blue underpainting showing through.
I hope I haven't lost too much of the spontaneity of it in it's original form, that's the danger when you rework something painted en plein air. I was also relying on a memory almost two years old!!
Here's how it was before I started the tweaking...

I hope it hasn't suffered too badly from the experience but I wouldn't have exhibited it in the form it was so I figured I had nothing to lose!
I guess there's only one thing for it - I need to get back to Venice asap to refresh my memory! ;)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lola and Maisie in the studio

Sold Lola and Maisie in the studio
Picture this day... it's sunny outside, but extremely windy and cold. In the studio it's sunny and cosy warm! All the animals are in here - the whole gang, comatosed by the heat. I enter the studio. I'm surrounded by seven or eight unfinished paintings. What do I do? I get sidetracked. I'm far more interested in Maisie lying in the sunlight, Lola lying in the shade and the patterns of the fabric on the chair. Oh dear. Maybe the new e-course I'm about to undertake on setting goals will help me focus...

Oils on linen stretched canvas, 40 x 30cms

Working on the natural linen colour of the canvas (it had been pre-primed with a clear primer), I wanted to quickly establish the shadow and sunlit areas. They changed fast!

As the sun moved around it highlighted the top left corner of the chair, which I liked, so I put it in. I also lightened up the sunlit parts of Maisie's bed and as an afterthought, added the slippers!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Epicerie avec les agapanthes, Bréhat

Click to bid
Epicerie avec les agapanthes
I haven't been painting all weekend (apart from 20 minutes today!) but here's a plein air oil painting of the Ile de Brehat from last August. The building is the island's epicerie, at the far end of the market place behind the huge stunning bed of agapanthus flowers. I varnished this painting today, and thought you may like to see it! It measures 30 x 20 centimetres, please click the link above to see auction info.
Jo mentioned she liked to see the painting in the context of my studio in the last post, and could she see more of my house?! Well I thought you may like to see how I display the little paintings on my kitchen dresser, along with all the other clutter (!)

Perhaps I should have tidied it for you! I think the paintings look very nice on there though! ;)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Acrylics workshop, great day!

On Wednesday I taught a full day acrylics workshop and it was so much fun! This is the rather large demo painting that I did there - it needs a bit of finishing off but not bad for the time I spent on it - less than two hours! I need to brighten up some of the foreground greens and there's a bit of detailing around the window area to do. We set ourselves a tough challenge with a bold red underpainting and I have to say everyone rose to the occasion tremendously well! All shaken and stirred out of their comfort zones my brave artists gave it their all and achieved great things! They pleased me enormously and I hope went home pleased with themselves as well!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Much excitement and a deadline!

I've been in rather a state of excitement and nervous tension today! I found out that this painting of Camille using her iPod touch has been accepted through to the next stage of the selection process for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition! I am so hugely excited that I may have a painting hanging in the exhibition that I haven't been able to think of anything else all day!
The only slight snag .... which I will sort out, don't worry! .... is that the painting is currently in France, so I need to go and collect it, frame it and get it down to London by the 15th March!
Now, where's my passport...
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