When my Hyenna painting found a new home (as described in an earlier blog), I had a look for other interesting animals, I had seen whilst in Namibia, as potential subjects. Here, above, is one of a pair of warthogs I sketched by the waterhole at our lodge. They were a young pair and this one was probably a female. I was struck by their incongruous appearance with a big head and body on thin legs. Not only that, but she appeared to me, to be tottering on stilettos as she made her way around the edge of the water.
So I had to have a go – a bit of fun to paint – here for your amusement.
I was talking to a fellow blogger about the perils of reworking a piece. At the time I was reworking two paintings, one of them was this, above. My fellow blogger explained the problems of reworking poems and stories. I felt there was more peril in changing paintings, as it can take a lot of work to correct bad decisions, particularly if you want to get back to where you started. With text, you could keep a copy and quietly lob the revision binward, ressurect the original and pretend nothing had happened ( well, that’s my blinkered view)
I was asked to submit a painting or two to an exhibition and was scraping around for something suitable. I did like the original of the painting above; there was an understated and almost abstract passage in the foreground, but despite a few showings it stayed in my possession. So I thought that I would shake it up ready for another outing.
I was reluctant to change as I was pleased with the original foreground, but having made the change I am equally happy with the outcome. It now looks very similar to the view I saw when I did a watercolour version one sunny summer’s morning, sitting on the hill amid the rough grassland and weeds, a few years ago.
I worked up this larger sized painting from one of the sketches I presented a week or so ago. Acrylic ink was run into the divisions to add depth and interest and further texture was built up by dragging and smearing. The overall impression I wanted was one of hopeful mystery with the yellows and greens evoking lichens that grow in dark, dank environments – but then, that’s what comes at looking at an image for too long.
I need to force myself just to play around with art materials. Most times when I face an easel or board I have a purpose – an image I want to create. So I have changed pace in the last few days and just got some paper ( in the case above, and most of these below, an old discarded painting) and started putting paint down over it. This one I’ll call – Fallen.
Coming from a scientific background I do veer towards structure and the next two show a development of an old theme based on an imagined cityscape, done with mainly square brushes.
I was looking at form on a flat plane and the painting on the left, though I like texture, just felt too busy – even messy, so out came the brushes and paints again to turn it into the painting on the right. Comparing them, I dont think I have moved forward very much – but then this is just about playing.
So, after that cul de sac, I forced myself to into a more organic approach with emphasis on light and shade – a theme I explore in my more representational pieces.
Again, working over an old painting. I think that there is potential in this one. It has a forest feel – similar to some of the representational paintings I’ve done of late. There are some lovely soft edges contrasting with the hard lines I’ve created with acrylic ink.
Bouyed by this, I struck out in a similar direction with the final piece, below.
This is done in a much looser style – mainly using just my fingers. I added moulding medium that allowed some texture which I highlighted with the mix of yellows I still had on my fingers. This use of texture is certainly one I’d like to further incorporate into my painting.
So I might be putting some of these ideas on canvas in the near future – just a warning.
I painted this at the back end of 2017 and posted it shortly afterwards. I did it along with other animals I had seen in Namibia at that time. None of them sold and I never even exhibited this one, though I did like it and I put it on my website where it has resided for around five years. Then, last week a buyer popped out of the ether and purchased it.
It just goes to show that many paintings have only to find an admirer – the problem is finding this elusive creature. This is the second time within a few months that a buyer has suddenly popped up to claim an old, floundering painting of mine. The previous time the actual painting wasnt even on my website. I think the purchaser googled it from this blog. In fact the painting she saw was in a larger format – in an effort to try give it more legs for a sale, I cut it down to focus on the subject matter. Anyway, despite its new size, the lady still wanted it and away it went.
I suppose it’s like angling – you cast them out there and hope for a bite.
This painting started out in hope, but the layout got a bit confused as it developed. Despite this I saw it through to a conclusion and now regard it as preparatory work for the future. I have done a similar piece in the past, but wondered if this version might have possibilities.
So much in the city spins around around football, so this was the central theme, with aspects of the city spilling out of the bursting ball. The spillage just needs a bit of tidying up, one could say. I like the idea – this is the reason I’m posting it.
You may be seeing an updated version in the future with a few of the motifs shuffled about. In the meantime I’m back to watercolour, I’ll show this you next time.
When I get the time I am still playing around with abstract acrylics. Here is another experiment which I am calling Pandora’s Box. It was painted over an old acrylic life painting which can still be seen in places if you know where to look. Building up over a previously painted surface allows for shapes and textures to appear quickly and opens up some happenstance. Though it may be a bugger to scale up on a canvas.
The second one is a painting I posted a few weeks ago but have now made further small adjustments and added text. I am calling it Between the Cracks. The original orientation of the dark lines do not really fit with my new direction. All I was doing was seeing what it might look like. So just a warning: there may be yet more of this to come. This is one of the reasons I do these sketches as it takes me a while to fully formulate the final piece.
In this sketch I strode for simplicity, overworking the first marks with a roller of tinted titanium white in order to reduce the visual image. I have an unease with any simple pieces I make. I feel a drive to add complexity (as with the additions to the second painting above). I dont know why, as I like many such spartan pieces produced by other artists. Probably shows a lack of confidence on my part.
I showed some acrylic sketches recently and had hoped to spend more time developing them further. But then Christmas appeared and you know how it is… So I havent progressed too far on my journey. Here are a couple I did manage to squeeze in, based on applying mixtures of acrylic from a palette knife onto damp paper. It produced some interesting textures on which I added further layers of more solid paint. When looking at the images of the two I prefer the one above.
Looking at this bottom painting in the flesh I feel that the image doesnt do it justice. In reality it has a lovely airy feeling and I cant get the colour balance to match the actual image (to be honest I cant get it right for the first one either, but the match there is a bit closer) – for a start there is far too much yellow and this image fails to show the far greater contrast between the lights and darks that there actually is. Again I used a palette knife to apply paint onto paper sprayed with water in an uneven way. Here you can see more clearly the varied textures that are achieved before I went in with acrylic ink.
When the guests eventually depart and the dust settles I’ll be setting off again. Happy New Year.
As the year has progressed I have upped the frequency of life sessions I attend, now about once a week. It isnt up to my prepandemic level mainly because some groups have folded. This Sunday I attended my last session of the year. It was rather a rushed affair as I realised late on that it clashed with my neighbour’s Christmas party not forgetting a world cup final. In the end I managed them all, getting two paintings in before an early departure, (the pastel above and the acrylic below), which left me time for indulging in some festive cheer and watching a bit of football.
In this Sunday sessions the model adopts one pose for the day, So here is Sarah, from two different angles. Sarah is quite proactive and has ideas for relatively interesting poses. Other models just come for a sit down and you can finish up with some very stiff poses which can come out looking strange like this one from the previous week.
This last one is also in acrylic and I have recently adopted a new approach in that I just mark the positions of the main features in charcoal before going in with colour, influenced by the position of the sitter. When the paint is dry I then restate and develop the figure in charcoal before continuing with painting. This results in some surprising colour combinations and so far I am pleased with the results and think there is plenty of scope for further development and refinement.
Now that my exhibitions are well underway, though failing commercially, I have some time to play around. I thought I would get the acrylics out and these two appeared.
Many people just go straight in with abstracts, throw intuitive marks onto the support and out comes a coherent painting. It rarely happens for me. I need to plan a little, otherwise things go muddily awry. This painting, above, is a case in point. It started out as something completely different and has morphed into this, which has, for me, the feel of the city. It isnt very big 10×14 inches approx but the process might allow me to put it on a canvas, now that I have some vision where the end point could be. Not that I wont still experiment, but I have a visual structure to base things on and hopefully contain any mud.
With this second one there is still work to be done to get to a conclusion I will be satisfied with. However, I feel that I can see a way forward. The process has also allowed me to ponder on other potential themes which I can use in the future which is a good by product of the process. With many of the elements of the first painting, such as the inclusion of line and the predominance of the blue greys it perhaps doesnt feel very different, though I have plans which may develop it into a more organic piece, as opposed to the structural assembly of my top painting.
So back to the easel and have a bit more play and perhaps get myself a completed painting.