Friday, 24 July 2009

Oak Tree studies I, II and III

charcoal on cartridge paper

pastel on cartridge paperpastel on ingres paper

Abstract studies

Expressive shapes
Variations in shape
Geometric shapes
Working from Rolina van Vliet's Painting Abstracts; ideas, projects and techniques.
I was excited when I found this book, and it was amazing to find myself considering the each piece as a whole from very early on, ie how the shapes are relating to each other, choosing and adjusting colours quite critically. All this was amazing, considering I didn't have a goal in sight for any of these pieces.
I don't think that any of these deserve hanging space, and yet, more so that when I was doing the still life exercises, I feel like I'm learning in great leaps about composition, rhythm, variation in scale, and colour relationships.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Life studies

Working in charcoal on A2 paper, these backlit figures suggested shades of gray, rather than line drawings, so in I plunged.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Exercise 5 - blending

The teacher is wrong. He advises painting in the pears, then adding the background. But he's wrong. Also, after I'd done some fine blending in shades of green and yellow, I decided that it was all to tame, so I livened it up with some impasto in reads and blues. Then I worked over that with the yellow again.
The background was a flat grey, so I made it purple, to zing against the green, then worked over in a chilly blue to send it all backwards again.
At some point I stopped looking at the pears and just looked at the painting to see if it was all working as a piece, and I think that's when I made leaps. I am very, very happy with this piece.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Exercise 4 - Impasto

Why did I paint a cantaloupe? Because the watermelon was too heavy for the hand basket. The texture was hard to capture, and I'm much happier with the pomegranate.

Impasto was great. I found it hard to lay on the pastel thick enough first time, due to my lack of certainty about the final placement of colours. But I enjoyed going over it all with a thicker layer, slightly adjusting the shapes as I went. I wish I'd used stronger under painting to build up a depth or red and green to work over. I will definitely use this approach on future subjects.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Exercise 3 - Linear technique

At last I get into the swing of pastel painting, then I get a tummy bug (for the third time in a couple of weeks) which puts the kibosh on getting anything done for a while. Plus we're off to the in-laws caravan for the weekend (illness permitting) so, though I may get some sketching done, I'll not be working on these exercises til next week at least.

So here's last night's offering. I didn't think there were legs on this technique but now I'm not so sure. Maybe it's a good way to play around with mixing colours before committing. I found the nectarine difficult, the apple was quite easy, and the orange was a trial but I think I conquered it.

After work yesterday I went into Newcastle and stocked up on pastel paper, hard pastels, and fixative. I also chose two boxes for pastels, as I'd cracked the Ferrero Rocher box I used to use. Actually, the unfinished wood would take well to pyrography. That's a project for another month, me thinks. Don't the pastels look amazing in this box. They cry out to be picked up and used.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Exercise 2 - colour

This was harder than I expected. but I enjoyed looking at the reflected colour in the fruit - the orange light cast onto the lime, the yellow of the lemon reflected back on the orange. I'm also surprised at how much reflected light there is underneath from the table top.
I didn't like the background he suggested of random cross-hatched marks, so I ended up using my trademark squiggle to fill in the blanks. I think it works here because the fruit are so solid.
This time I was stood at the kitchen window in late afternoon, so no messing around with bedside lams on kitchen units. But the light is fading, so the next one may be by candlelight.

Exercise 1 - underpainting

Here's the finished exercise. It was meant to be done all in hard pastels, with a view to learning how to create the tonal structure to paint over in soft pastels. But I only have a limited number of hard pastels. I feel a shopping trip to Details in Newcastle coming on.
I enjoyed working this way - it sounded similar in some ways to the tonal underpainting Mel did in acrylic glazes over grisaille.
Anyway, I didn't expect to enjoy this, I thought it'd be a chore. but I'm looking forward to getting home after work & getting my teeth into the next exercise.

Monday, 13 July 2009

More modelling and background

I like the way the shadow have blurred with the cross-hatched background here.

I'm done for the night. I'll fix it, if I can lay my hands on some fixative, and finish it tomorrow.

Hmmm, local colour and modelling

I do admit that I'm starting to enjoy this, and I'm starting to care about these grapes and bananas.

Grrr, hmmmm

Yup, it's too low down on the paper, but I like the lighting. Must keep an eye on the difference between the lit grapes, and those in shadow with only reflected light from the tablecloth.

Adding local colour next, so it says in the book.


My sister made me do it. I am working my way, page by page and step by step, through a book called Pastels In 10 Steps by Ian Sidaway. The reason being is that my sister, Mel, who is just starting out as an artist, has learnt a lot about acrylics working through a book. And I'm stuck for what to do with my art.

So I found this book in the library and I liked what he'd done on the back page, so I thought I'd give it a go. Even though it means doing poxy still lifes step by poxy step.

Here's the first step - in bananas and grapes. It's blurred because you're meant to brush off the excess pastel before moving on. It's not the absinthe, honest. Though I could do with a stiff drink. Setting up the still life was a chore. I mean - Cezanne had it easy; 8pm at night and he's only got one light bulb swinging from a bare cable in the middle of a room. Me; I've got 6 light sources in the kitchen ceiling alone. I had to resort to grabbing the bedside lamp, but now I can see the still life and my drawing board, but not the pastels to my left, or my feet for that matter.

Looking at this photo I see I've placed everything too low on the page but I'll be damned before I re-do it. The left side of my brain isn't a happy bunny at the moment. Don't mind me - I'm off to block in the dark areas on and around each grape. There's 43 of them by the way. I know. Because I counted them. I thought drawing and painting was meant to be a calming exercise.

Grumble mumble.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A plan

I've been planning a big self-portrait for some time, which has raised a lot of questions which needed resolving before I could move on. Not thinking about it for a long time seems to have settled things in my mind without my realising it.
Then, after doing the self portrait drawing, and just hanging around in my studio for some time, I found I had an image in my mind of myself, viewed from behind (I'm told I have a recognisable slouch), stood in front of a huge virgin canvas (of which there's one sitting unused in the studio), creating a silhouette effect. I have been drawn to artwork with strong contrasts of light, and I also like good use of negative space. This composition includes both elements. The question of my clothing is answered by wearing dark-neutrals, which I've worn for most of my life, until recently, but that's another story. The details will be hidden in the gloom, but they will be there - cluttered shelves, off-cut carpets on the floor.... There is also be a mirror to the right into which I'm peering but, because of the lighting, the reflection will also be mostly dark, except my brightly lit face, which I intend to be almost bleached out by the strong light-source. That may be an angle-poise light, with the bulb obscured by the angle, which is casting light on my face and the canvas alone.
The next step is to take some preparatory photographs, and play with the composition before I commit. But I think the sketch about sums up my thinking so far.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Having fun

Okay, it may not look like I'm enjoying myself but I am. I only went into the studio to get some graphite pencils, caught sight of myself in one of the many mirrors in there, and I just had to stop and draw. Nor perfect, but I caught the moment. I had to squint with one eye closed to see myself clearly as I was stood some way from the mirror. Rembrandt, maybe? I mean the lighting, not the execution, of course.

My sister Mel and I were discussing art the other day and, amongst conceptual art, Hurst, acrylic techniques, still lifes and cats, we chatted about self portraits. So funny that in my first week back, so to speak, I end up doing one. Though if you know my work, they're a pet subject of mine. Always a ready sitter, willing to stay still, and always needs a loo break or a coffee at the same time as I do. How more convenient can you get?

I have done some art every day so far this week , as agreed, and have even taken some photos. Gasp! Dare I mention the glimmer of a possible series in the hatching? tableBest not for now. But thanks, Mel, for the kick up the bum, just when I was ready for one.
I have a busy week ahead, what with work projects, family events and what not, but I know I can fit in some drawing time, and I'm feeling better for it.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

A fresh start

So far this summer I've looked out of my kitchen window every day and my eyes have rested on this magnificent foxglove in the back garden. It's the softest lilac with pale green at the top of each bell, and deep purple splotches inside. In a storm last week it was so laden with raindrops that it was bent over at right angles, so I've had to stake it up to protect it. Fingers crossed it'll self seed and come again in two years time.
I love this box of watercolours, and should take it with me everywhere I go, as when I pick it up it just begs to be used. I've been very remiss these last few months with little or no art in my days. In fact I lost momentum last year around August, with a burst of activity in November, and not much since. So I've kind of had a year's sabbatical I suppose.

Not that I've come back with any strong sense of direction. Maybe that's what I was waiting for all that time. But it never came. I felt lost in my art work, with no strong subject to get my teeth into. Often I've stood in my studio, getting filled up with junk from the house which needed storing out of the way. I can't blame my lack of work on a messy studio. More like the mess was a symptom of my apathy. No, apathy is wrong, because I've yearned to paint and draw, but I've had a block. A fear of failing. I suppose it's good that I felt my art had been improving for a long time, and after a pause I was scared to back-peddle. But when I started this blog, after a very long sabattical indeed (look back to my beginnings and you'll see) I had no strong direction then. Just an itch to pick up a mark-making impliment of some kind and make a start, after a very long block.

This morning I woke up with that itch again. So here I am. I make no promises to you guys, or even to myself. I just have a hope - that I'll be here in a week's time, and that there'll be a couple of things I'd like to show you all.
Related Posts with Thumbnails