Saturday, March 29, 2014

About wet paintings

An array of panel carriers

I often get asked practical questions by readers of my blog and I've decided that once in a while it would be a good idea to answer those questions here as there may be lots of you wondering about the same thing.
Today Pat asked "  how do you get your wet paintings back from abroad?  Also I've noticed that your painting s seem to go into galleries quite quickly.  I'm put off oil painting by the problem go what to do when they're drying. What's your secret?"

The first thing to mention is that oil paintings may be drier a lot sooner than you realise - touch dry anyway. If you paint quite thinly (as I do) a painting can be touch dry in as little as three days. You can further speed up the drying time by adding liquin or using alkyd paints. Some people just replace their white oil paint with Underpainting white or Alkyd white and mix with ordinary oil colour, some use all alkyd colours.

That said, you still have the short term problem of carrying your wet paintings from the site, and I'm going to assume here that you're painting on panels or boards.

The photo above shows an array of wet panel carriers, this is where I tell you that you're spoilt rotten in the USA to be able to buy all this kit. All except the black one at the back (home made by my friend) were manufactured and sold in the USA and pretty difficult to get hold of if you're here in the UK.

But don't worry! There is a perfect and inexpensive solution and it's so easy when you know how :-)

It's the Ken Howard matchstick method!

Maisie's getting quite good at placing the matchsticks now,
after extensive training

You can buy matchsticks without the heads in their hundreds or thousands online (people who make models use them) so no need to be cutting them up!

On the back of your board stick one matchstick close to the edge, in the centre of each side. On a large board I stick two on the longer sides.

This is one of the things I prepare before going away on a trip. I also take with me some matchsticks and a tiny pot of pva glue in case any fall off en route.

Now as long as you have at least two boards of the same size this method really is foolproof. You use a clean board, or a dry painting, to stand on top of the wet painting just finished. You then put a little tape on to hold them together and hey presto - there's a small gap in between to keep your wet painting safe and protected.

You can stack up as many as you like in a pile, as long as they're the same size -

All safe for travel

And if it's raining you can wrap the stack in a carrier bag or bin bag.
I use boards that are at least 4mm thick and this method works perfectly. If you use something a lot thinner it may not work so well as the panels could get squished together in transit. But this is the method I use both for day trips and flying abroad trips and I've never had any problems with it. I love it because I can take as many different shapes and sizes as I want, as long as I have at least two in each size.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fountain in the Cantina square

Fountain in the square
Just a quiet little painting this one and a memory of a really enjoyable afternoon. Believe it or not the white wall on the right really was that curved, or so it seemed to me anyway!  I could probably check that with photo reference. I really loved the simple tiled water fountain and the intrigue of the dark doorway contrasted with the brightness outside in the square. 
That blob to the left of the door is supposed to be a dog but that doesn't come across! There was also a cat or two milling around.
The moped on the right hand side was actually yellow but before I got any of the yellow bits painted it left the courtyard.

And isn't this the cutest photo? It's me and painter Mo Teeuw with a few local children who entertained us with antics while we were painting in this square! Many thanks for the great photo Eric Davis.

Me and Mo Teeuw with some of the locals

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Monsieur Bouabid

Monsieur Bouabid

This was one of my most exciting painting moments from my trip to Morocco last week. Monsieur Bouabid who is the wc attendant near the harbour in Essaouira remembers me from my painting trip last year and so, as we exchanged pleasantries I asked him if I could paint a picture of him right there and then and he agreed! I was a lot braver this year about attempting to put the people into the paintings and I felt that attempting this portrait in the street was a pretty courageous move. 
Of course, the doing of it attracted a lot of attention from the other workers and passers by but I had to pretty much ignore them and crack on. I just didn't know how long I would have and thought that he could have moved off at any moment. (It could be, I was thinking, that I'd misunderstood when he'd apparently agreed to sit for me, in French)

Unfortunately I soon realised that I wouldn't get his whole self in unless I did a naughty thing and shortened his legs by a couple of inches. Usually I would have restarted at that point, with the top of his head higher up on the board but I was in a major hurry thinking that this glorious moment wouldn't last long. So I had to make a decision and I sacrificed accuracy for the added information of being able to include his feet, which will come in useful if I start a studio painting based on this. And if I do I will know I need to lengthen his shins :-)

The painting in situ, outside the toilets

All was not as simple as first appeared with this white jacketed figure lit by bright sunlight. I was amazed at the amount of reflected light bouncing up from the ground, it certainly made things tricky.

Fresh fried fish, Essaouira
You might remember this studio painting from last year, that's my friend Monsieur Bouabid there on the right hand side, underneath the WC sign. 

With a little help from friends
And on this photo taken on a different evening last week I am wearing Mr Bouabid's lovely coat (he lent me it because I was cold) and eating chocolate given to me by another new Essaouira friend. That is why I love love love plein air painting. Unforgettable, unmissable experiences. The kindness of people.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Essaouira montage

Studies of characters in Morocco

I must apologise for abandoning you while I was still in Morocco - technical glitch to blame! I was using wifi every day at a very friendly cafe but then I realised that things with my blog had gone a bit strange and my text had completely disappeared. Thus you subscribers probably received two small photos by email without the accompanying stories. It's not that I couldn't be bothered to write because I was having too much of a ball, as you might be thinking! Naughty blog going doolally like that, I decided I'd better not try again until back in the UK.

Now that I am back I'm hoping that all will be magically cured, and therefore I won't have to look into anything too taxing technical ;-)

In order to strike while the iron's hot I have made up some BIG canvasses today and started work on two studio pieces based on Essaouira studies from last week.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The butchers

Butchers shop with chickens

I love painting on the high street here. It's very very busy so it's hard to get out of the way, but I have a sympathetic shop owner who is happy for me to stand in front. In fact he asked me to mind the shop for ten minutes today while he nipped out!
I'm here with a group of painter friends from the UK, plus we have met with some American artists - one of whom I was already friends with on good ole Facebook. We managed to get eleven of us together one evening for a delicious seafood dinner so that was fun.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Essaouira encore

It's great to be back painting in Morocco! This is my fifth painting since arriving here late on Wednesday. There are subjects everywhere, the light is stunning. The locals are very sympathetic to an artist's needs, happily working around you. This morning I set up on the high street to paint this greengrocer's shop.
Tomorrow I may paint the butchers next door :-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Low tide in the harbour, Mousehole

Low tide in the harbour, Mousehole

While I fly to Morocco today I thought I would just leave you with another Mousehole painting with a different feel. Again this is the harbour but here you see it's low tide and there are still lots of boats. I painted this en plein air in October. I was looking across the glare of light on the wet sand, and had to work fast as the sky was rapidly changing. I like the directness of the marks on this piece.

This is one of three paintings now available for sale at the Little Picture Gallery in Mousehole, Cornwall.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Silver light at Mousehole

Silver light at Mousehole
8" x 10"

On the one day that it didn't rain for me in Mousehole this is the other painting I achieved, and I'm really pleased with it. You get such blinding sunlight on the water in Mousehole when the sun is shining. Although this looks a lot like a sunset it was actually painted in the morning. In the foreground of the painting you can see that it's high tide in the harbour. The other noticeable feature is the one boat. In winter the vast majority of boats are taken out of the harbour and onto dry land to decrease the risk of damage. A very good thing too when you consider the awful storms we've had this winter.

When I next visit Mousehole in April there will be a lot of boats back in the water, which is good for me for painting. Although, I do very much like this simple uncluttered scene too.

The colours in the dark area of the harbour wall have subtle differences of hue and value which are not apparent on the photo really.

All three of these paintings were delivered on Friday and available to buy now at the Harbour Gallery.

Today I am travelling to a hotel at Gatwick airport ready to fly to Marrakech in the early hours of tomorrow. I may not have any access to wifi while I'm over there so if you don't hear from me that's why. I'll show you all the paintings when I get back.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Perfect summer's day

A perfect summer's day, Portscatho

After four mostly rainy days in Cornwall when I had to leave on Friday the weather had transformed into a mini heatwave with sunshine and blue skies as far as the eye could see. It goes like that sometimes. Hopefully my week in Morocco will be dry. 
Although I didn't get very much plein air painting achieved last week I did at least have time to finish this studio painting of Portscatho harbour. I'm afraid the photo above doesn't really do it justice.

It's now available for purchase at the Harbour Gallery in Portscatho along with many others. Take a better look here.

And... I remembered to take some photos of the work in progress as I know you like to see that :-)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It stopped raining!

Towards St Michael's mount, from Mousehole

Work in progress
Hooray, it didn't rain today so I was able to get out and paint two pieces in Mousehole. This one was a really interesting view looking towards St Michael's mount, which was lit by the sun for a couple of hours. I also liked the little glints of light on the buildings in the distance. And of course I fell in love with the waves against the rocks here, all over again :-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Painting pilchards in Cornwall

Fairmaids of Mousehole

Weather is a bit miserable at the moment down here in the south west of Cornwall! I got a small plein air piece painted yesterday in between showers but I wasn't very pleased with it. After lunch I had a drive around hoping to find a spot out of the wind and rain, but ended up buying these pilchards and painting a still life.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Heading out of harbour

Moving on

The work carried on in the studio, I would do a little bit one day and then leave it alone for a fortnight. Then go in for another attack... and so on.
Here you see me stating the majority colour in the water area quite early on. I find that it's helpful to get strong colours in early so that you can see how well they will work together. I don't just mean strong in saturation, but also strong as in they will make up a large part of the painting. The blue in the water for example, which is pretty dull in hue but covers a large area and therefore is important.

Getting the lightest values
This was an obvious next step - getting in the highlights and lightest values. I also found I needed to lighten in value the red areas. 
I used a Rembrandt cadmium red light which is a gorgeous colour.
Darkening up the background also brought that red forward, let it have it's limelight!
The figures and background all had further work, and I made those white sails really sharp and opaque.
This is the finished painting...

Heading out of harbour
16" x 20"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Heading out of harbour - the start

Very beginning, a simple painted line to work out the composition

Ok, while I'm packing for Cornwall I thought I could show you this recent studio painting in stages. 
You know how much I loved that red sail don't you? I couldn't resist another go at it. I'm still not sure I'm over it!
In fact I'm seeking out sails this summer... watch this space as they say.

I began with a fine linen canvas panel which I had already tinted with a diluted umber. 

Adding diluted paint to create tonal areas

After a rough linear sketch I began working on tonal values, again with paint thinned with turps. 

Initial turpsy washes of paint drying flat
Then I couldn't wait to add a bit of red! This photo shows the painting drying flat because the washes were so runny and I wanted them to pretty much stay put! By the way, everything hadn't suddenly turned green! My camera picked it up as green at this point, must have been dazzled by the red.

Incidentally, is it just me or is it too soon to be March? Apologies to those awaiting workshop news I just haven't had the time yet. On the plus side though it's great to be so busy :-)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...