Sunday, 26 June 2011

Cycle Paint Cycle

I thought it was high time I did a plein air painting, so I packed up some essential supplies and got on my bike.  I had identified a site last weekend, not too far from home for my first foray, so I was able to waste no time selecting my spot.  

The weather was a bit dull and slightly damp this morning so the lighting wasn't perfect.  I sat down on the ground with my pochade box on my lap.  

My supplies were limited with only 3 brushes, 6 tubes of Griffin Alkyds, thinners and a tear-off palette.  I am used to sketching a lot before I even look at my paint, but decided to force myself to use a turpsy wash instead.  Because the scene was mostly green, I used cad red and alizarin for the wash.  The board is just 8 x 8" and I found it difficult not to have smaller brushes for any finer details.

Here is the result, which is far from perfect (I can now see a huge compositional error straight away), but not the disaster I was afraid it might have been.  I am encouraged enough to do it again and I really do not mind what the end result is, it is the process that is important to me.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


At last I have a new painting completed and I am really pleased with how it turned out.  Finally, I am feeling more comfortable both with the oils as well as painting the landscape.  I have stopped wanting to chuck the oils out and paint still life in watercolour!

This is a scene of Lake Buttermere in the English Lake District, a very beautiful place with a lovely walk along its banks.

Never fear, I haven't forsaken Scotland - if the weather improves for the weekend, I intend to do some plein air painting locally when I can figure out a way to carry my gear on my bike.  Whether I show the results or not remains to be seen!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Sketchbook Project

Last weekend I signed up for the Sketchbook Project.  It is the first time I have taken part in this exercise and I am looking forward to receiving my sketchbook and getting started.

I used to be heavily involved in the world of altered books and decos, so this sort of thing isn't new to me.  

Also, throughout college and university we were encouraged to keep sketchbooks and the habit has remained, although sometimes my sketches are decidedly messy and not something I would wish to show anyone!
You can choose a theme and the one I chose is "In 50 Years" and I have two ideas to decide on.  One is about a 50 year- old person/s and the other idea is a continuation of the landscape theme I am currently working. A look at the changes in the landscape over the last 50 years with perhaps a hint of what may come over the next 50.

It is likely my sketchbook won't arrive until mid-July as the organisers are at exhibitions just now and post to the UK from the US probably won't be all that quick either.  It gives me plenty of time to consider my options anyway.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Keeping Paints on the Palette Usable Over Many Sessions

Because I tend to work on my paintings a little at a time most days, rather than in big blocks of time, I need a method to keep the oils on the palette from hardening. I like to squeeze out a decent amount and really do not want to throw any of it away after just an hour or so of painting.

Here is my solution to the problem.  I have a Daler Rowney Stay Wet palette intended for acrylics, which really doesn't see any acrylic action these days.  The well is 14 x 10", so I cut a board to fit inside the well and cover the board with freezer paper.  

Because the paper is bright white I wipe some burnt umber alkyd paint all over it to reduce the white and to help make colour mixing more accurate. It dries in a trice and in the meantime, you can draw out the composition.

When I finish the day's painting I pop the lid back on the palette and put it in the refridgerator and the paints don't dry up as quick as they would if they were just left out in my work area.  I have read that some people put a drop or two of clove oil on a cotton wool bud and pop that inside as well, but I don't find the need to do that.
The freezer paper can be cleaned off a few times, I tend to wipe up the centre mixing area, leaving the tube paint in piles, but eventually the palette needs a clean up.  Instead of scrubbing away at a traditional wooden palette like I used to, I now just throw away the old used freezer paper and put on a fresh one.  This works perfectly for my busy life.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

So, Why "Walk Paint Walk" Then?

Gleann Garbh Rainbow
For a long time my art consisted of paintings of still life and the odd portrait/life painting, mostly in watercolour, but occasionally oils.  I found still life to be a suitable subject for my busy life.  A  set-up didn't really change all that much and was always there ready to be painted when I had the time to paint it.  I also had (and still have) many ideas and themes I wanted to explore, using objects to symbolise other meanings. 

But for a long time I yearned to paint some of the beautiful countryside around me, Scotland is a glorious place, with awe-inspiring mountains, lush colours, oh and a lot of "atmosphere" (ie, weather)!  I had felt intimidated by the vastness of the vistas before me and preferred paintings that were more unusual, avoiding the cliche and tourist images that are too often seen.  I wanted to explore Scotland to a greater depth than a mere photo taken a few steps from the car and there really is only one way to do it properly.  You have to get your boots muddy!

Two years ago, I decided on a fitness programme and worked up my ability to hike longer distances, greater inclines and rougher terrain.  It took a while, but the rewards of at last being able to see Scotland from greater heights and in more remote places was well worth the bruises, aching joints and blisters.

So now I hike whenever I get the opportunity, which isn't as much as I would like, but is a treat.  I go armed with tons of camera gear and take a lot of photos.  Soon I will go armed with paints and pochade box instead, but that will have to wait until I get to grips with actually painting the landscape.

View from Top of Beinn Alligin

I have heard it said that landscape is the easiest subject to paint, followed by still life then portraits. I am finding landscape a big change from my previous subject matter and am still intimidated by all the green, the rocks, aerial perspective, composition, skies, trees and water, but determination and practice will get me there and I won't give up.  I never do.

So far this year I have painted over 30 landscape studies, most of which have ended up in the bin, I still have a long way to go, but it is beginning to fall into place and I am finally making progress.  Of course, it doesn't help that I have also switched medium, from being a resonably adept watercolourist, I am now using almost exclusively, oils.  

So two major changes at once - subject matter and medium have given me a big learning curve.  Heh, I never choose to take the easy route.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

How it all Began

Early work - in the style of Derain

I am quite excited about having a blog, it took me a while to decide to go for it and now I am glad I have.

Today's post is going to be a bit more of an introduction to me and how my art developed.  I shall try to be brief and perhaps elaborate in later posts if necessary.

Of course, like many artists, I enjoyed art as a child and showed promise.  Like many others also, I was discouraged by my parents to study art at exam level and had to take other subjects at school.  I still drew and painted occasionally in my spare time, but I also enjoyed many other arts and crafts. 

It was while investigating spinning and weaving, that I decided I wanted to understand colour and an opportunity arose for me to take a beginners art class at a local college.  Sometimes the right person comes along at the right time and the course was led by a wonderful teacher.  Her name was Jane and she taught me so much.  She obviously realised some potential in me and brought it out.  My art was still very basic in those days, but I began to understand tone and form and I was introduced to many different media, many of which I had never tried before.

Oh dear, I am not being very brief here, am I? OK, will try harder!
The course ended and I passed and came away with a renewed passion for art intending to study it further at a college locally.  The timing wasn't quite right for me, because my then husband's job moved us far away to Scotland, where I remain to this day as I have fallen in love with the country and its people.  

Life Painting in Watercolour

I attended a life drawing class run by the local university and I also attended a watercolour class run by a very talented husband and wife team.  I was learning so much and enjoying it immensely, but I still wanted to take it to a higher level and study art at college.  I remember sending away for a prospectus for a fine art degree at one of the best universities in the country and when I got it, I saw the work in there and thought "I couldn't possibly do that", so I put the brochure away.

Sometimes things just happen right, though. Again, one of those serendipitous meetings (at the local cattery of all places), introduced me to an art course run by another fabulous teacher.  Two years  of hard work and a lot of learning really brought my art up to a standard that even I was happy with.  Finally the life drawing practice began to pay off as the figure became easier and with that an improved confidence in general.  I now began to think about applying to that university that I had felt unworthy of two years before.  In the meantime, I took a full-time portfolio preparation course at college and with great trepidation applied to the university.  I got in and four years later graduated with an honours degree in fine art. 

Life Study at University

Over those four years, my studies took me through drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and even film.  My graduation piece was an installation including film.  Nothing like I would have expected all those years ago when I began my art journey.

During this period though, my home life hadn't been so easy, my marriage had broken up and finances were very tight, so my initial intention of studying further to masters level had to be shelved while I found work.

Now I can manage financially and I work on paintings and photography in my spare time.  I exhibit and sell locally and am really happy to continue to explore art and grow as an artist. 

Contemporary Pear - Watercolour
I am currently investigating a masters degree through open learning as I know I have so much more to discover about art.

My next post will be about the title of my blog - why "Walk Paint Walk"?

Monday, 6 June 2011

My First Post

OK, lets try this, one day I may just get this blogging lark right and manage to stick with it!  

This blog is going to be about my walks in the beautiful Scottish countryside and about the paintings that these walks have inspired in me.

There will be photos, there will be paintings, there will be musings, there may be some hints and tips.

My next post will be a little bit about me and how I got to be where I am now.

Rolina x