Last week I was working on a commission for a client of Lone Mountain and here it is after I added in the foreground trees covered in snow. I echoed the purple /blue shadows on the mountain in the foreground and really piled on the snow on those tree branches. It was very satisfying laying on thick swodges of snowy blues and whites to build up believable snow laden trees.
After the snow settled I started in on an entirely different scene of the impressive cliffs of Moher in Ireland. What a contrast to all that snow! Now it was green, green grass and those stark cliffs plunging into the ocean. The client wanted me to focus on the light on the foreground grasses and that bright sky against the distant grasses, and I’m happy with the end result because she’s happy!
On Monday I posted off my latest commission and was waiting for a client to get back to me before I could start the next one so Tuesday found me with a RDO (rare day off) and no paintings waiting to be done! That really doesn’t happen often at this time of year with a steady stream of Christmas commissions coming in( as I write there’s already a new painting on the easel and 2 more waiting to be started).
With no painting on the go I found myself eyeing off my stash of fabric and favourite black sheep stamp . I love cottons and had a lovely earthy piece with tan,cream and terracotta stripes that I decided to pair with a tan cotton drill and turn into a couple of bags. I stamped away happily , making some decorative patches to sew on the flaps and backs and then spent a few hours at the sewing machine which has been feeling very neglected lately. By the end of the day I’d finished off 3 bags featuring the sheep print and felt reconnected to my sewing machine !
But now it’s back to the easel……………I need to get some big snow covered pines on the foreground ridge , and maybe a few falling snowflakes.
This is my first venture into the world of aviation art and it was a lot of fun. The hardest part was getting the lettering right – I must have done it a dozen times! I’m really happy with the painting overall and especially like the little spots of light on shining on the propellor housings. I just learn so much when I take on a new subject – who knew painting a plane could be so much fun!
Sometimes I need a bit of a kick in the pants to shake me up and get me a bit braver when it comes to using colour. When I think I’m getting a bit too safe I like to break out the acrylic inks and use them as an underpainting.
I’ve been pretty liberal in the cliffs with deep violet, turquoise blue and a dollop of yellow orange as well.I just lay it on with a soft brush and let it run and bend. Sometimes I just pour it straight onto the paper or canvas or add colour with the droppers.
I’ve used a lemon yellow in the water and mixed it with the turquoise to make a strong yellow, green underpainting. I give the sky a yellow ochre wash and I’m all set to be a bit braver when I start adding the acrylic paint.
Here I am part way through. I’m liking the cliffs although The Writer thinks the purple is a bit strange. I often ask for a critique from various family members walking past ( and yes they do sometimes try and avoid eye contact!) I’ve found the best critic is The IT Geek who has an uncanny knack of homing in on the bit I’ve been secretly worried about whereas The Writer often homes in on the bit I’m quite pleased with.
I’ve still got a lot of work to do but I like where it’s heading . I ‘m trying for really sunlit cliffs and I think I’ve got that on the island. Sometimes it’s the small areas that draw the eye and I like the gap between the headland and the island. The beach area and it’s trees have a lot of work to do yet as well as the water needing some more glazes. We’ll see what happens tomorrow!
Had a clear weekend so gessoed up a canvas and did my second painting in the Sardinia series. Capo Testa is a wonderful area on the north-west coast of Sardinia. There’s a maze of walking tracks amongst the huge boulders and so many wildflowers it’s like a series of rock gardens. There’s the mild scent of curry wafting over the cape from the yellow curry plants and the stunning blue of the Mediterranean in the background. Hope I managed to capture just a little of this amazing place which I hope to get back to some day.
I had a painting day today and broke out the acrylics for a change. I’ve been doing a lot of pastels lately and although I love them sometimes I crave the luxury of slathering on thick wodges of paint and building up some texture.
I had a lot of fun with the foreground using some modelling paste mixed with the paint to give volume and texture to all that vegetation. The Queen Anne’s Lace was all over the island with flower heads the size of dinner plates in some places! I took a bit of liberty with some of the flowers so I could harmonise the painting but there were a lot of coastal blooms all around Sardinia.
I like how the red underpainting shows through in places giving the painting a bit of zing.
Another joy of acrylics on canvas is that I can continue the painting around the sides , put in a couple of d rings, wire it up and straight onto the wall. No tedious mat cutting and then having to put the pastel in and out of the frame half a dozen times because I keep seeing a speck of dust that’s fallen on the mat – it always happens no mater how careful I am!
This one’s for an upcoming exhibition and I’m thinking it might not come home. All in all a satisfying days work.
Recently a work friend asked me to paint her a large acrylic painting – she just gave me a few hints- water, maybe a rock or two and some sand. I’m used to clients being pretty prescriptive about what they want. There’s usually a photo or three and several emails before we settle on exactly what I’ll be painting and how. My friend was very open – she just wanted those blue green waters and the rest was up to me. It was such a pleasure to paint that I felt I hadn’t really earned my fee – so I decided to donate a large chunk of it to the Fred Hollows Foundation. So now whenever my friend looks at her painting she will know that four people can now see because she asked me to to paint it. I kind of like that thought.
I’m having a bit of a snow theme lately with my commission work! My client asked me to capture the excitement and movement in this winter sledding scene. It was a bit of a challenge for me as I’ve only ever painted dogs once before….but then that’s one of the reasons I do commission work– for the challenge of subjects outside my usual comfort zone!
As with any painting I can see areas that are less than perfect but there are also passages I’m quietly pleased with. I like the sense of movement from the different leg positions of the running dogs, the way the fur on the lead dog is being swept back by the wind and the lolling tongues that suggest they’ve been running hard. The lead husky looks a bit wolf like but that’s really how he looked in the reference photos!
Research always helps
I did a bit of research on husky sled harnesses so I could understand how the harness wrapped around their bodies as it was difficult to tell in the reference photo – this really made it easier to paint the fur as it moved around and over the harness.
I was saved the problem of painting facial likeness by the fantastic reflective visors! I like the way the man is leaning as they round the corner – it helps that feeling of movement. I added the flakes of falling snow for another touch of movement and a feeling of cold and fun as they sled through the swirling snow.
Practice makes perfect
So now I’m going to practice some dog portraits – I’m determined to get better! A workmate has clumber spaniels and St Bernards so I’ve offered her a portrait if she will give me an honest critique. I wonder how that will go?