PATH AMONGST THE BIRCHES – ACRYLIC PAINTING

You would be almost correct if you thought you’d seen this before. It is another version of a watercolour I posted earlier in the month. This time I put it on a 76×50 cm canvas and used acrylics. I pushed back the thicket on the right, compressing the trunks and focussed more on the shadows they created on the path – adding a few more for good measure. Hopefully I’ve created a bit more energy on this one and it more accurately reflects the feeling I had cycling through our local woods in Ainsdale on that recent sunny Saturday.

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

MORE LIFE PAINTING – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

My life (though, not the painting of it) has been a bit hectic of late, getting ready for 3 exhibitions, one solo and two joint. Tomorrow I am manning one of these as someone has dropped out – and it is only the second day. Anyway, it will allow me to paint all day at least. I’m not hopeful, in this present economic climate of sales or even visitors at our exhibitions. So there may be plenty of time to fill, though maybe I am being overly pessimistic as I did sell a painting this week from my website.

So without any of my landscapes or seascapes to show, here are some of the figurative sketches I’ve done recently at workshops. I have been trying to get along at least once a week to one of the sessions held in these parts.

I find I am labouring when I use acrylics – failing to get the effects I am after. The top two paintings are pastels and I am trying a direct approach with these, though I do want to introduce more colour, but not as much as I’ve done in the past. With the acrylics – these last two paintings – I still have issues with the tonal changes.

With the Eve, above, I realised late on, that her lower right arm was about to be too long and I spent the last fifteen minutes of the session, frantically reworking the legs and right arm and hand: she doesnt appear to be too happy about it.

Perhaps with this one of Arthur, above, in acrylics, I started to get a more painterly effect, but it still needs to be worked on to get further variation of hue that I am after.

But it is all practice, challenged by a ticking clock, it does make you speed up and make quicker decisions – occasionally the right one.

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

PERFECT DAY – ACRYLIC PAINTING

A couple of months ago we visited friends in London. On our arrival the weather was fine and their dog needed exercise so we went off to Kenwood house – which backs onto Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill – and walked through the grounds. Our route passed a series of lakes. One was the home of the Kenwood Ladies swimming club. Further down the hill was a lake for the men. Apparently they need to be kept apart – maybe they once had similar problems that I get with frogspawn filling my pond. Anyway…

This is another lake, with loungers in the evening’s heat. I particularly like the couple lying in the grass. I recalled that Lou Reed song: memorable for me as the record came out just as I started university. It was a juke box constant whilst I got my feet under the table in the union bar – in those heady, sunny, autumn days – days before the reality hit the fan.

I did a quick painting from a number of my photos, just to scope it out. I left out the guitarist who set up his amp nearby and regaled the whole lake with some practice pieces before the police arrived and curtailed his session; not even giving him time to pass the hat around – showbiz, eh?

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

LIGHT UP THE MODEL – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC PAINTING

For me how light interacts with a subject is important. Initially, faced with this pose I saw very little that gripped me. Just sitting the model on a stool like this induces a very boring pose. I walked all around the model getting more despondent as I went and it was only when I went around the rear that I saw the light on his back. It wasnt much, but enough to develop the form of the body with a few highlights.

Later, another pose was struck, but here there was no compelling light and shadow to raise any interest, so I finished up withis this rather flat rendition in acrylics.

It’s good practice – but that’s about all.

Last Saturday I revisited an old club in Liverpool ( the second oldest in the country). I hadnt been there since well before covid. I gave up as they had moved into a small, dark studio where you couldnt dispose of paint. My complaints were ignored so I voted with my feet.

I had heard that they had moved to a different room in the same building, so I decided to give it a try. The light was a bit better, contra jour, which I like, and the room bigger, though disposing of paint is still an issue. I certainly dont want to take acrylic brushes home to find them brick hard?

On this occasion I took my pastels just to keep the peace..

Around here many people do line drawings, so cast and form shadows arent that relevant, but there must come a time when they want to add shadow. It seems that this time hasn’t yet arrived.

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

FINISHING LINE – ACRYLIC PAINTING

Sometimes a painting eludes your initial vision and this one certainly has, so Finishing Line may be inappropriate as a title – there could be future versions. I wanted a triptych but thought that I could intertwine the images more, instead of just three rectilinear boxes that the subject finally dictated. I also found the greens started to dominate as the piece progressed.

Like all projects that cause consternation, this has taken longer, as the enthusiasm dwindles.

So I am pausing and taking stock.

So why show this? Well, my blog is a diary, and this is what has occupied me over the last few days, brought to some sort of conclusion. And there are a few bits I do like.

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

MERSEY MORNING – ACRYLIC PAINTING

Sitting atop of a sand dune just south of Formby, I had a good view of the mouth of the Mersey. Reflective objects sang bright in the morning sun and I painted this view in watercolour, disturbed only by distant cries of gulls and lapwings. Not a bad way to start the day.

When I got home and looked at my endeavours I thought that pastel or acrylic would be a better medium for this painting. Eventually I plumped for acrylic because of the fiddly nature of the wind turbine and ship, though other aspects would have been easier in pastel.

I did debate about putting wind turbines in at all – there are quite a few more off to the right. In the end you got a token wind turbine and anyway, it adds a bit of balance to the piece.

Other views of the Mersey are 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