Sunday, 5 July 2015

Summer of Colour Week 4

This week's colours are two reds and a metalic- very sensual.  I used cad red and crimson red and gold paint (the vertical text). 

I used turquoise underneath as a cool complement to these warm colours and allowed it to show through in the shaped areas.  The painting is collage and acrylic, 10" x 10" on canvas.

I learned a lot with this painting and I felt I had a break-through in my quest to be more painterly and less precise.

Saturday, 27 June 2015


I love to reference the Golden Mean in my paintings, it is something I consider when putting a composition together, whether on canvas or when photographing something.  I have been doing it for so long now, it is almost automatic.

Unable to quite bend a flexi-rule to a neat spiral, I decided to make some out of wire.  I shall call them Spirulers(c), heh-heh, patent pending!

Friday, 26 June 2015

New Canvas Works

I am continuing to work on the ideas from my mindfulness sketchbook pages.  I am still working on the boundaries in the landscape subject and the sketchbook pages are an extension of that. 

I am specifically looking at the shapes that fields form, I love how no matter how hard the farmer tries, they are never square due to things like hillocks, burns, buildings, pylons, rocks, uneven ground.  The shapes of the fields are endlessly fascinating to me.

So drawing those shapes and expanding on them became a great exercise in meditation and the results are now creeping into my everyday work.

It is harder to go bigger, so I am doing it gradually, from 6 or 7 inch square in my previous post to one that is 10inches square and one that is 16inches square.  I am challenging myself with the square format to see how the shapes work.  I don't want them plonked in the middle, so I am experimenting with the placement of them as well.  I also want to do some long thin formats too.

More ideas than time, as usual!

The first one is more or less finished, it is 10"x10" and very precise.  I worked in a very strict, planned manner, drawing things out before transferring them to the canvas and keeping the paint as even as I could.

The second one, is still in progress, sorry for the slightly fuzzy photo, even though we have daylight until the wee hours here in Scotland, we do have cloud and that has reduced the light quality. 

Here I have worked in a much more intuitive way, applying paint, oil pastel and charcoal and letting the shapes form themselves.  I am also applying the paint in a more textured manner.  Although much harder to work this way, I do find it more satisfying and more painterly.

I still have a way to go with this, but I like how it is progressing.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Summer of Colour - Week 3

Actually finishing earlier this week, here are two pieces completed for the Summer of Colour challenge using two purples and a yellow.  The first one I use the purples with just a touch of yellow and the second one uses a wash of yellow over the entire painting, apart from the reserved shapes, with more layers of yellow in some selected areas.

I couldn't choose a favourite, so I am including both!

Here are the mixes I used:  The darker purple is ultramarine and magenta, the lighter purple is cerulean, magenta and white and the yellow is cad yellow medium with a little white.

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Bigger Picture

In yesterday's post, I showed you a painting for Summer of Colour that I made in two pinks and orange.  What I didn't show you, was the bigger picture - the image was just part of a larger whole.

Here is the larger painting in progress, you can see, I have already made changes to the parts shown yesterday.

There is much more still to be done, but I am loving the process.  It is an extension of the ideas that have been forming during my mindfulness sketchbook sessions and it is such fun to be able to get them onto a larger canvas (well, board in this case) at last.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Summer of Colour WK2

Working on board this time, out of the sketchbook for a change, here is this week's Summer of Colour painting.  The colours we were to work with are two pinks and an orange.

I have been using pastels and acrylics and these are my chosen colours: magenta, pale pink and flourescent orange.

It is a lovely colour-scheme, apparently a big hit in previous years, I can see why.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Mindfulness Sketchbook Pages

Things are still very busy in these parts, but I am managing to find time to work in my sketchbooks during my mindfulness sessions, here are a couple of pages that I finished recently.

I really enjoy doing these and am looking forward to experimenting with them on a larger scale soon.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Summer of Colour - Wk 1

The colours for this week are two blues and a green.  I was afraid this was a bit unexciting for me, but by mixing my own blues and by making a nice bright green, I felt the colour addict within me was satisfied.

I mixed ultramarine blue with a little paynes grey for the darker blue, then I  mixed cerulean blue with a little white for a contrasting blue.  For the green, I used pthalo turquoise with lemon yellow.

Sketchbook - Finished
I decided to work in my sketchbook and on a small canvas (10" x 15"), the sketchbook is finished, but the canvas has more work to be done on it.

The Canvas - Work in Progress

Monday, 8 June 2015

Boundaries Series - Push it

During my mindfulness sketchbook sessions, I find I spend more time drawing with charcoal on top of previously painted pages.

Liking the results in the sketchbook, I decided to try it out on a prepared canvas (the one in the last post, that looked like a snow scene).

First I painted over the lovely burnt paper effect (it is OK, I now know how to replicate it if or when I need to), with a few layers of acrylic paint.  I always start with darker colours and work towards lighter as I progress.  Well, when I say always, I mean mostly (sometimes I deviate from this).

Now, I rather liked what I had so far and I really didn't want to change it that much, but, you know and I know, that to progress with art, we have to push it - we have to push it real good!

So I pushed it and I am not entirely happy with the result, I overworked it and lost the translucency that I a wanted in the negative space, I was battling with the texture, it was making the drawn and calligraphic lines that I wanted broken and untidy, the tonal contrast is a bit too harsh to my eyes.

But I am happy that I tried and I have pinned this up on the wall, where it will stay with many other experiments until I AM happy with the results!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Serendipity in Art

It is great to let go of the control-freak inside (well, sometimes).  I was prepping some paper ready for painting and just love what happened here. 

What I am trying to achieve is a sense of perspective in this painting.  You have to imagine it upside down for this, I wanted texture of cracks and creases, with finer ones in the distance (top of the painting) and I wanted harder, larger ones in the foreground (bottom of the painting), so I used tissue for the finer ones and dug out an old fax roll for the harder creases.

Pleased with that aspect of the work, I then applied some lettering through a stencil using texture paste.  Now, texture paste takes ages to dry and I am impatient, I wanted to get started asap, so I blasted it with the hairdryer.  (sidenote here, I have managed to blow out one hairdryer in six months by using it in the studio, but it was an old one).

As I moved the hairdryer over the lettering, I noticed that the fax paper was beginning to darken, even after I stopped.

I thought it looked rather interesting like this, but even so, I will be painting over it.  At least I know how to achieve this effect if I ever want to!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Summer of Colour 2015

Mindful Sketchbook page
It starts today (1st June)!

There is a blog, a Facebook page and a Flickr hosted by Kristin of Twinkle Twinkle blog, that runs the  Summer of Colour challenge.  It has been running for the last few years, this year is the fifth and, after wanting to take part since the very beginning, I am finally going to join in.

When I first heard about it, I was working a lot in photography, I used to have a Flickr site and post photos there regularly and fully intended for a couple of years to take part, but for various reasons never managed it.  

I love colour (did you guess?) and this challenge will be great fun for me.  The work can be in any medium, paint, collage, textile, nail art, ATCs - basically anything!  It is open to participants of all levels, beginners to professionals alike, even children.  I shall be working in my sketchbooks, on canvas and on some art jewellery during the six weeks that it is running.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mindfulness and Art

What do you listen to when you are making art?

I am currently doing a course on Mindfulness and I love it.  It is very helpful for someone like me, who worries a lot about things.  Past hurts and future fears can spoil the current moment we are in and that is a waste of life, really.

So, as I am very busy until the end of June, which is taking me away from doing the art that I want to do, I have decided to be mindful when I do make art, to treasure the moment and enjoy the here and now.

I usually listen to the radio or an audio book when I work, but for half an hour each day, I work in my sketchbooks in silence and savour the moment.

At least I am not wishing my life away as I wait for the end of June to arrive (well, OK, maybe a bit)!

Friday, 29 May 2015

My Messy Studio

I have had several very busy weeks and my time in the studio is very sporadic at the moment.  I get a couple of hours here and there.  I do work on some sketchbook pages, make a clay goddess or add beads to a brooch.  Not much painting has been happening, because that takes a decent block of time.

Because of this, my inner slattern has taken over and this is the current state of my studio.  I think I need to spend some time tidying up this weekend - although I would rather be making art!

Monday, 25 May 2015

New Goddess Shapes

When I first started making the goddesses, I filled a few sketchbook pages with ideas.  I started with the simpler ones at first and they have been very successful, but I felt like trying out a new shape.

I had initially intended to make them flat, almost two dimensional because I wanted to stamp and stencil on them, but I felt they are much better with some form.  It just makes the stamping and stenciling a wee bit harder, but it is worth the extra effort.

After much persuasion by friends, I have finally set up a Facebook Page, specifically for my art.  It was simpler to do than I expected and I hope I can keep up with it.  Oh, I even managed to put a link on the right, here.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cailleach Bheur

I hope I am not overdoing my talisman chatter.  I have worked very hard these past several days on a number of art projects. I am experimenting with a new idea for goddess brooches, but need to take some decent photos of those before showing you and I have worked on my larger boundaries painting, which still isn't resolved yet.  But I do have new talismans to show!  This one is called Cailleach Bheur, named after the Celtic goddess of winter..

Monday, 18 May 2015

Goddess Brooches

 I have been asked a couple of times if I could make the goddesses parts of the talismans as stand-alone brooches and I have been pondering the question for a while.

I would need to make the figure smaller than my current ones as I feel nearly 4" is a bit large for a brooch, especially with the additional dangly bits, so I am aiming at 3" for the figure.

The next question I had was how to attach the clasps, bearing in mind I don't think glue cuts the mustard?  I tried various methods while the clay was soft, but I kept on damaging the sculpting, so I finally hit on the idea of making the figure, baking it and then attaching the clasp with some more clay (and liquid Fimo), then baking again.  It worked!

The rest has been plain sailing and is very much like the work I do to prepare the figure ready to attach to the panel, I really enjoy this part.

So, here they are, my first batch, I think I am going to enjoy making more of these.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Something Totally Different

Tanned Fish Skins
I have started to volunteer at a skill-sharing place in a nearby town, I have only been once, so can't talk much about it just yet.

The current workshops are so completely different, very few people have heard about it - before I tried it, I had no idea either!

We are preparing fish skins ready for tanning into leather - how unusual is that?

Scales Being Removed
It is a much more eco-friendly alternative to crocodile or snake skin, but looks and feels very similar.

The process is fascinating, we are using Scottish salmon fish skins, they have to have the scales removed, which I thought was a shame because the iridescence is quite eye-catching, but they have to go.  The pattern of the scales is still seen on the skin after tanning. The tanning process involves a lot of washing in different levels of tanning agent and oil is involved at some point, but I haven't got that far yet.

Anyway, did you know that the idea for sequins came from fish scales?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Talisman Experiments

I seem to have more ideas for talisman variations than time to make them!  I had an idea that I wanted to do a black one, initially intending for the background and beads to be all black (or variations), but, somehow, colour has crept in.  I have started to name them, this one is named after the Welsh goddess, Cerridwyn.

I have been experimenting with arty photos of the talismans.  I am gradually getting them listed in my Etsy shop at last and I thought the different angles would add a bit of pizzazz to the listings.  Although I have had this Etsy shop for a couple of years now, I have never used it properly, partly because my stock tends to sell before I get the chance to list anything.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Acrylic Mediums

What mediums do you use with your acrylics?  I have found the following to be very useful: 

Working from left to right, the large tub is Gerstaecker light modelling paste, creamy and very elastic, so doesn't crack.  It has a pleasant matt finish.  It is quite subtle, so sometimes I use the Reeves rough texture gel (at the back behind the Liquitex mediums).

Second from the right is a tin of Golden varnish, which I use at the end of a piece to finish it off and seal everything up against dust and damage. This is an acrylic resin-based varnish with UV protection, which provides a thin yet tough coating.

Sitting on top of that tin is quite an old bottle of Liquitex iridescent medium.  I only tend to use that on the goddesses for my talismans.  Mixed in with the paint, it adds a little subtle sparkle.

Third from the left, at the back, is the Reeves texture gel, which is a lovely, sandy texture.  I prefer to use Golden modeling paste, which is nice and firm and is made from marble dust.  I am out of it at the moment and must order some more in soon.

At the front of the Reeves texture gel is some Liquitex Matt medium (the one with the green label), I like the flow of this and it is good for adding to paints to thin them for washes or glazes.

It would appear odd that I also have the Daler Rowney Matt medium as well, but this is much thicker and more like a thin gel. It serves a different purpose and I tend to use it to glaze a layer, before trying out something I am unsure of, which makes it very easy to wipe off, especially when I use the Golden Open paints that I favour.

Sitting on top of that is a crackle glaze.  I had a go at this for the first time this January and I love the effect, I must use it more often!

Finally, on the far right is a bottle of Golden Open Medium, this is light and watery and perfect for watering down the Golden Opens while keeping them workable.

There are other mediums I would like to try, some with fibres in, some with little balls, some with pumice or even crystal flakes - I want to try them all over time!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Golden Acrylic Paints

From L-R, Ultramarine, Violet, Magenta, Crimson, Azo Gold, Cad Yellow Med
I have mostly painted with watercolours or oils and used to get very frustrated with acrylics.  When I decided to work in mixed media at the end of last year, I had to come to terms with needing to use acrylic paint.  As a compromise, I decided to order in some Golden Opens.  I love them!

I decided to do some paint swatches to get a feel for the colours.  They are all quite transparent, some more so than others, particularly the ultramarines.  This becomes more evident in the second row, where I have added some Open medium and water to thin them.

On the third row, I increased their opacity by adding white, while that works, it does lessen the intensity of the colours.

On the fourth row, I added some ultramarine blue to each colour, which results in some lovely purples and greens.

Finally, I thought I would add some yellow to the original colours, which has resulted in a warm palette of oranges and greens.

I intend to get some more colours when I next place an order with the supplier.  I can see I would benefit from a cooler blue, a cerulean would be good and maybe a cooler yellow.

It is fun and useful, to do swatches when you get new paints, it helps to familiarise yourself with them.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Art in Fiction

In August, 2011, I wrote about some books that have art as a central theme and I thought I would add two more to the list.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The main character is Theo Decker, a 13 year old boy who loses his mother and survives a devastating incident in NY. He is taken in by some wealthy friends before eventually being taken away and looked after by his feckless father.

The terrible incident has left some legacies, he helps another injured person who urges him to take an action that dominates the rest of his life as he alternates between the criminal underworld and the hallowed world of antique dealing.

At the centre of this story is a painting that has a huge impact on his entire life.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The story begins in occupied France in 1916, Sophie Lefevre runs the local inn while her painter husband Edouard fights at the front. The occupying forces descend on the inn for their evening meals and the Kommandant is taken with a portrait of Sophie, painted by her husband.

The book suddenly leaps forwards in time to now and the new owner, Liv Halston has to fight to retain ownership of the painting that is now called “The Girl You Left Behind”, a treasured gift from her late husband, as it becomes the subject of a legal fight to return it to the family of Sophie Lefevre.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Liminal Project

I had completely forgotten to show my completed section of this collaborative project.  I posted about it when I had laid it all out, but not the finished piece.

Here it is and it has been sent to the coordinator to be assembled.  I am not sure when it is to be shown, there are a lot of other pieces and it has been ongoing for quite a while now as it is.  You can read about it more here.

Other News

I have been very busy, so my studio time has been limited.  I am working on some black goddess talismans and not sure whether they will work out or not, I have a large landscape boundaries piece still ongoing which needs to be resolved, but that needs to wait until I can dedicate a good block of time to it.

I finished some decorations that I had started in December by adding beads and other danglies, they were intended for a Christmas tree, but are now adorning my walls and windows.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

DIY Business Cards - Yes or No?

I have heard it said that it is a big no-no to make your own business cards.  Apparently, it is unprofessional.

Do I listen to good advice?  Well, yes I do, but then I weigh up the information and make my own choices.

I decided to have a go at making my own business cards and I love them!  Here are the results.

So what do you say?  DIY or no DIY?

Friday, 1 May 2015

Talisman Progress

I started making the talismans in February and struggled with new techniques and had quite an uphill journey figuring out how to best assemble all the elements to ensure they lasted well (I was determined not to use glue).

The hardest part for me, at the beginning, was using the polymer clay, but I feel so much more accomplished with the material now and, although I am no quicker at making them, I do feel the latest goddesses are tidier and more polished.

I also feel I have improved other technical aspects like the background is now on heavy watercolour paper and not canvas to avoid the frayed edges I got with canvas.  I am more confident with my sewing machine, in adding all the elements.  I now varnish the background before adding the goddess, which helps keep dust off and I am much better at soldering the jewellery elements as well as being more experimental with them.

These two are the latest, recently finished - I am having so much fun with them!

Monday, 27 April 2015

A Few Sketchbook Pages

I posted about my sketchbooks a couple of months ago and how I like to call them Carnets de Travail after Elisabeth Couloigner's workbooks.  I feel a bit wrong calling them sketchbooks, when very little actual sketching gets done in them, I just paint, experiment and try out ideas.

Anyway, I have been working in them some more and here are a few pages that I have finished recently.