Tag Archives: art

Cleaning day in the studio.

I’m a bit of a slob when it comes to cleaning my pastels. On Saturday I was doing a little painting and pulled out a brown stick of pastel, swiped on a good solid swathe only to find it was really a deep, luscious red!

With that little bit of motivation a grabbed a rag and started cleaning- now I have a box of glowing pastel sticks sitting on a new bed of rice ( brown of course!) The rice keeps the sticks clean as they roll around and rub against the grains – polenta is even better but I’d eaten it all!

Light and Shadow – beach painting.

I love this little beach in the south of Tasmania – Drip beach seems such a humdrum name for such a gem of a place ! I painted this over the weekend and tried my hand at a time lapse video which I’m trying to edit to post on YouTube this week. Apparantly it’s very simple – I’ve heard that before! Actually I’ve already downloaded some software and done the time lapse bit but the music soundtrack didn’t appear to “stick” and it’s a silent movie – will have another Google and see if there’s a fix for that before I post it.

I also did a full length video of the process – the painting took an hour so not sure if anyone will ever want to sit through that. And I learned that I like to chew my cud whilst painting – who knew! So from now on I’ll have to mindful of all my little painting foibles and do a bit of editing before I hit record. I still have to do the voice over so that might have to wait till later for it’s first night release – so hold off on the popcorn and choc top ice cream till further notice!

Given all the delays that are bound to happen as I navigate the technological maze ahead I thought I’d just throw up a quick still demo here. Apologies for the photos which are not my usual quality – I took some stills from the video and didn’t realise they would be so low res.

Sketching up

Just a few simple charcoal lines to block in the basic shapes of tree line, beach and rocks. There’s no real detail and the rocks will change as I go on.

Full Sketch (28-02-2016 5-32 PM)

The sky

Here I just layer in loosely some soft pinks and yellows near the tree line and then some light blues at the top of the sky . I run the blues over the pinks and yellows and then with the side of my finger blend the colours together to cover the reddish background colour. I don’t really want the backgrund to show through here but it will give a bit of an underglow to the sky.

Next I go back in with the same colours and lay a light layer down to bring back the luminosity to the sky. The crystal structure of the pastels allows the light to bounce off them but not if they’re all pushed into the paper. That’s why I go back again to get a looser layer on top – I want that light and luminosity back again!

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The trees

Now I start to block in the tree shapes starting with some deep dark blues along the beach edge . I follow with some lighter greens , golds and siennas. I work the whole area going back and forth until I have a good balance of dark shadows and sunlit areas. I will come back later and adjust. I also add a sliver of sand at the base of the headland.

 

The Water

Using a light blue similar to the sky value I start laying in the water. I pop in sonme of the tree colours from the headland as reflections and then just smooth them a little with the side of my finger. I let some of the back ground colour show through the water.

I add deeper, darker colors for the water in shadow at the beach edge along with some darker blues.

Reflections2 (28-02-2016 9-51 PM)

 

The beach

Now I want to get the beach established which I do by laying in strokes of purples for the shadowed sand and pinks where the sunlight finds it’s way through the dense trees. I add some sienna next to the dark water where the sun is shining and the contrast really helps to add a bit of zing to this area.

Beach 3 (28-02-2016 9-53 PM)

 

Back to the water

In with some deeper blues, a few rocks and some white foam around the rocks. I also start some dark shadows in the rocky area.

rocks start (28-02-2016 11-06 PM)

Now for the rocks

With a deep purple I block in the shadows and then use a cream colour for the brightest highlight on the rocks. Then I can start modelling the rocks using mid value oranges, golds and greys. I then come back in with blues and browns in the shadows until I have the rock shapes defined.

 

A final round up

I go back over the painting adding a little here and subtracting a little there. I tidy up the rock shapes, add some grey tree trunks amongst the foilage, refine the pebbly area next to the rocks and the painting is done.

Light and Shadow

 

You can also watch a time lapse video or the full narrated 30 minute video.

 

USA National Parks Sketchbook

After my post on how to make a concertina sketchbook I decided to try a little variation and whipped up a small panorama concertina sketch book with a window opening on the front.

Window concertina sketchbook 2

I added a brown leather cord to tie it shut and filled it with sketches from a recent trip to some iconic USA national parks. Here’s a few pages…

usa1

usa4

usa5

It’s very simple but quite effective. I’m thinking of including it in The Writers upcoming birthday present – he’s totally obsessed with desert landscapes at the moment. ( I’m a bit obsessed myself!)

The joys and pitfalls of commission painting.

Over the last few years I’ve done quite a lot of commissioned paintings. In lots of ways it’s very rewarding but it can also be a bit of a sticky wicket if you don’t manage the process well from the very outset. I was reading a great article by by Lori McNee that covers this topic from go to whoa and it made me think about some of my experiences with clients and what I’d learned from them.

What do I enjoy about painting a subject chosen by a stranger? Firstly – I feel a bit chuffed that someone who has never even met me has decided to trust me with their vision, their story and their cold, hard cash! Sure they’ve seen examples of my artwork and style on their computer screen but that can be a bit different than seeing a physical painting.

Secondly, I learn a great deal by letting go of the subject matter choice and moving outside my normal choices. I develop new insights and skills as I tackle different subjects and this can lead me down new and interesting artistic paths. Of course I’ve had to sit on  the chuffed feeling sometimes as it trys to egg me on to tackle a subject I know will be too far outside my skill set (portraiture – I once did a fantastic portrait of my teenage son with beautifully draped clothes, shiny metal chair legs and in his own words”the face of an ork!”. I did fix the problem though- when revealed to him a few hours later he was perfectly happy with the addition of the paper bag over his head).

Thirdly, I enjoy helping clients realise their artistic vision. I’ve created paintings to celebrate anniversaries, weddings, retirements,to immortalise family memories, homes and special pets.

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Heading Home

I’ve painted the lake where that proposal was made, the hiking track that gets visited every year, the view from the family lake house for a soldier on active duty.

I’ve had some wonderful feedback

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Thank you so much for making this a great Christmas for my family! My mother cried when she saw the painting and it now hangs over their fire place!”

… how could I not be touched when a client feels this way. It makes up for any frustrations during the process.

There can be difficulties. Maybe that’s because the reference photos I need to rely on are just not very inspiring, perhaps the client wants a composition that I know isn’t going to work or they have an unrealistic expectation of how long it takes to complete a painting. I recently had a request by a client in New York who hoped I could do quite a complex urban scene and have it reach her in New York from my island home of Tasmania in just 2 weeks. Postage alone would probably take more than 2 weeks!

I find that good communication will sort most of these problems out – I’m the artist and I need to be providing good artistic advice and choice about composition, colour and size of the painting depending on the subject and taking into account my clients own vision.

Taking on commission work has taught me some valuable lessons:

  • be clear from the outset what the client wants
  • be clear whether you can ( or want to) take on the commission
  • agree on all the details composition, size, cost, materials, delivery time
  • don’t give the client too many choices – less is more
  • put the details in writing
  • get a deposit before you start painting
  • provide updates as you go so you can make changes at an early stage if needed
  • pack well and always use a tracking service

 

 

If you haven’t tried commission work and you get an opportunity I recommend the experience as one that can grow your artistic skills and foster some very rewarding client artist relationships.

Travel sketch books

I had a very wobbly moment today. I wanted to check one of my travel sketch books and I just couldn’t find it! I spent last weekend moving my art supplies into our home office and my husband out ( he’s retired now – why does he need an office?). It’s a tiny space, 2×2 metre , so not much room to lose anything you would think. Wrong! I’ve got a complex system of wheeled storage that I move around depending on what I’m doing and where I need the space. There’s a lot of storage for such a tiny space. And then there’s all the other nooks and crannies around the house where I’ve squeezed in a bit of art ephemera that just won’t fit in that little 2m cube. ( I used to have a bigger room but the prodigal son returned and there went my art studio).

So I emptied drawers, moved piles of books, checked under the bed and in the wardrobe. I found some odd socks, 2 dollars, a missing earring and finally three sketch books – but there’s a lot more than that. I could feel my skin getting clammy and a mild sense of panic rising at the thought I might have lost them. Of course I eventually found them – there’s always that one drawer you forget about even when it’s right in plain sight. The heart rate returned to normal and I sat down for a satisfying hour of memories.

The travel collection
Here they are! All those travel memories.

 

Why did I panic at the thought of losing them? Because these travel art journals bring back a lot of sense memories that I just don’t get from my photos.

I can smell the lavander…

Lavendar fields - Provence

I can taste the salt in the breeze….

Walking round an island in a day - Porquerolles

I can feel the heat bouncing off the rocks…

Nursing a sprained ankle - Arches NP USA

I can hear the sound of my laughing children in the room behind me as I sketch at the open window…

View from the Gite window - Burgundy

I can feel a frisson of fear as my husband stands too near the edge….

An evening walk - Etretat

I can feel the joy of finally getting to those US desert national parks after a decade of wearing my husband down –  he loved it! ( not the wearing down part –  the desert colours part)

Red Rocks - Nevada

Travel is a big part of our lives – and travel sketch books have become an integral part of that experience for me.

And yes – I’ve put them somewhere safe.