PORTRAIT AND LIFE – PASTEL PAINTINGS

I was going to show life paintings today, but on Sunday, when I turned up for the session, I was told that the model booked had called in at around 11pm on the previous night to say he couldnt make it. With some quick thinking, Phil, the guy organising the session, had roped in a fellow drinker at the pub he was at, to sit for a portrait. Who would have that job of organising models – it’s like herding cats? Well, you do get a few reliable ones, but the flakes make the job an unnecessarily difficult one.

So Trevor strode into the studio on Sunday morning. Two things I hate when painting people are glasses and beards, so I wasnt hopeful at the beginning, but decided to give it a go. However, the lighting was good and gave some interesting shadows and the greyness of the jersey, hair and beard seemed to set off the flesh tones well. So in the end it wasnt a wasted morning.

The previous week, at a different session, the model – Sarah, who is very reliable, did turn up. Though for her efforts it seems that I turned her into the ice maiden for reasons even unknown to me.

Though Roy, the organiser, had turned the heating full on so, rest assured, no model suffered unduly in the making of this picture.

Other figurative work is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

THE FISHING EXPEDITION – ACRYLIC PAINTING

I managed to slip in a little acrylic study between the demos and workshops I am currently doing. It’s like buses – nothing for ages and then they all come along at once.

I saw this scene on a visit to Ness Gardens on the Wirral peninsular in September, this year and wondered whether it would make a good painting. Grandparents providing childcare.

I particularly like the man’s pose. I prised the woman away from the child as the woman’s head obscured the view, though I liked the foil of the tumbling, ragged foliage against the solid form of the figures.

Other figurative painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

FIGURES IN ACRYLIC

On Wednesday I attended a local life group. They do some quicker poses and then allow an hour and a half for a longer pose. I did the one below of the female model, Sarah.

It had a pleasing sculptural quality but I was dissatisfied with the vitality. I feel I get more success with pastels, pushing colour and contrast and wondered how I could achieve this with acrylics. It’s something I’ve done before but then pushed too far, so this time I was also trying to strike a balance.

I did this one the next day from an image off the internet.

I started with some brighter colours scraped on the prepared surface and then applied my paint in a blockier way with square brushes . Perhaps I should have allowed the background colours to come through.

I then did the one at the top which pushed colour further. The only trouble was, the initial colours were done by splattering liquid acrylics on the surface which took an age to dry. Not much good for a time-restricted session which I would like to use this on.

Other life painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

MORE LIFE SESSIONS – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

Though still not doing as much life drawing as I did pre-covid I am beginning to attend a few more sessions of late, but on an irregular basis. Here are samples from three recent visits.

This one above was in acrylic which I felt could have been made a bit more dynamic with injections of colour and variations of brush stroke.

And above, I did push the colour a bit more here, but upon reflection it could have been brought into the figure to better effect. Especially to tone down the orange – she looks like a spray tan victim. Also, the upper left arm appears a bit on the short side – but those are the oversights you can make when working against the clock. Hopefully, next time you wont repeat those mistakes, though, in any case, they are easily corrected.

Other life painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

PAUSING AWHILE – ACRYLIC PAINTING

This is another painting from my recent visit to Dublin. Persuaded to just take hand luggage on the flight, I didnt have my usual painting kit. Instead, I took a small sketch book for quick captures of people etc. A war memorial park was just up the road from our hotel and had benches along each side of a long pond, allowing me to sketch people on the other side. One gate of that park opened up opposite an art gallery which contained Francis Bacon’s London studio, brought over to Dublin and reconstructed there, upon his death. He was a messy worker and certainly liked his champagne. Well worth a visit.

The fellow in this picture was sat in O’Connell Street. I didnt have time to sketch him as I was on the top deck of a bus, but it was such a magnificent pose – augmented by the shadows. He also reminded me of one of my grandfathers – Patrick Fitzpatrick McQuade – who also had a similar hat and stick.

Other figurative paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A DAY OF LIFE – VARIOUS MEDIA

Yesterday I went to a day life session with a local group. It was a small group -there were only three of us, which was disappointing for the organiser. If it had been me running it, I would have called it off. I remember, a few years ago, being barely able to get into the studio on a similar session – in fact, on that occasion I just came home, as being unable to move around in an all day session would just frustrate me. As for the session. it’s good getting back to more frequent life drawing, but I do notice I start in a rush and the basics get overlooked. This one in acrylics, below, required me to rework the whole head area as, on applying the paint, things didn’t actually conform with reality. Making corrections takes longer than taking a bit more time to get it right first time, and then with the time limit, other things get overlooked.

Still, that’s the nature of the game, making quick decisions in the timeframe allowed. It certainly sharpens you. Hopefully, making you better next time.

Other life painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

RIGID AND CHAIR BOUND – PASTEL AND PENCIL SKETCHES

Whilst manning a pop-up gallery recently, a painter I know came in and reminded me about a group we used to paint with. I hadnt been to that group since before Covid ( though I had heard that they were secretly running throughout the epidemic – but that’s another story). Also, since Covid they had, for various reasons, started meeting earlier, which makes it more awkward for me to attend. Anyway, last Wednesday I forsook my evening meal and made the effort to attend.

I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the evening, though there wasnt any direction to the model and we were presented, throughout the evening, to my eye, with various versions of someone sitting naked on a bus . The lighting was good, though, but I did have to prevent the organiser turning on all the lights and ruining its effect.

Afterwards, looking back over some earlier pre-covid drawings, what did I see? Similar seated poses, just different models – a bit like the other sketches I did on the night, shown below. Despite these moans, I will try and get back there as we have lost one life group around here completely and I am not getting much figurative practice these days.

Life and figure paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SATURDAY LIFE PAINTING – PASTELS

Yesterday was a now rare visit to a life session. I took my pastels, deciding to focus on one medium – well apart from half a dozen pencil sketches done at different points of the session.

Before I went to the session, I played around with with photos off the internet from Line of Action and explored possibilities I could try yesterday. Here are a few of them, below.

I wanted to mix bold and unusual colours alongside more natural flesh tones.

I hoped that by playing around in my own time, without the pressures of a ticking clock, I would develop a process I could take into the life room and produce whilst dealing with all the other issues that crop up.

Well, it half worked. I think I should be doing more at home with photos so that I have a clearer and more honed pathway when I attend another session.

Other figurative painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A DAY OF LIFE – ACRYLIC AND PENCIL

Saturday saw a now rare opportunity for me to do some life painting and drawing. This study above was done in acrylic. I decided to roughly paint areas of light and shade before I did any drawing and I was pleased with the energy this created in the final piece.

I did this second one in a similar way, but I felt it lacked something of the first study.

Perhaps it was the stiffer pose and the lighting not being as effective. At this point of the session, the guy running the show decided to have two models posing together. I decided to focus on just the female model because the male model was even more rigid as the quick sketch below left shows.

So, it was good to get at least one satisfying painting from the day, especially as I hadnt attended a life session since December. I must make more of an effort, but the thought of standing, cramped in a room with a whole bunch of artists for two or three hours is still unappealing – especially as I want to go on holiday in a few weeks time.

Other life paintings can be found on my website: grahammcquadefineart,com

WORD GETS AROUND – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Now all the planned exhibitions have either finished or are currently running I can stop painting local scenes and start playing around a bit more. This is a half imperial size (56x76cm) watercolour – so double the size of watercolour I’ve been painting of late.

I’m not sure of its commercial value, but working into light is something I love doing. In this case it was a low evening sun washing a golden glow over the subject and casting long violet shadows. Not to forget the transparent feather tips of the gulls which seemed to carry their own illumination, particularly when set against the shadows. So I got a great deal of satisfaction doing it.

I’m not sure of the sentiment of feeding gulls and pigeons; as all you end up doing is increasing the population and teaching them to rely on people for food. But I did like the guy struggling with his plastic bag full of breadcrumbs, perilously close to having the bag being whipped from his hands by an impatient gull.

Other figurative paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com