Friday, 1 August 2014

We Visit the National Portrait Gallery

People near Fountain. Pen & Wash 20x20 cm
Members of our art club were fortunate enough to have a coach trip down to London to visit the National Portrait gallery yesterday. The BP 2014 Portrait Exhibition was the star of the show and work exhibited was just incredible to see!

I later got the chance to sit in Trafalgar Square for a while and sketch some of the people sitting amongst the fountains just soaking up the sunshine or having a packed lunch and stuff. I was a bit nervous at first with so many people around me, but I soon got lost in my work, occasionally chatting to interested people, especially two American ladies who seemed delighted to look at this and former sketches in my book.

Lovely atmosphere, lovely time.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Italian Cyclists

Italian Cyclists - acrylic 30x40 cms
Isn't it funny how you read all these articles in art magazines by competent artists who give you step-by-step instructions on how to create a masterpiece like theirs in several easy steps, then when you try it, it turns out to be utter rubbish that goes straight in the bin!

after 2 hours
Well for once, I followed one such artist's advice and tried a method of painting that was mostly alien to the normal way I do things, and I was actually quite surprised at the results. "Italian Cyclists" was definitely NOT the way I usually do things and scared the pants off me as it was mostly done at a painting club I belong to, and under much scrutiny from fellow artists.

Working from memory using a stretched canvas and acrylics, the first instruction I followed was to give the canvas an under-painting of red. Not sure what to do after that, I sketched the scene from a photo loosely with a small brush using burnt umber. Normally I would have meticulously sketched the scene in pencil first, though come to think of it, the last portrait I did was done initially in a similar way with a fine brush. The rest of the painting was done mainly using larger brushes, applying the paint in a fairly dry manner so that small areas of the under-painting showed through. I had much difficulty in stopping myself from going into more detail as I knew that I had to keep this one down to an impression.
after 4 hours

The painting took around three 2-hour sessions.

In conclusion, the resultant work that had a continuity about it and a feeling of a warm sunny day. This has set me off on a new course in the wonderful world of painting.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Great Bowden Village Boxing Day Meet

Great Bowden Boxing Day Meet
It is a tradition that goes back many years to hold the Fernie Hunt opening Meet on the village green in Great Bowden, Leicestershire. I try to attend this yearly event whenever I can, mainly to see my favourites, which are the hounds. This must be one of the few days in the year that the hounds are treated like pets with all the patting and stroking from the onlookers and especially the children and the animals just seem to lap up all the attention!

I've used acrylic paint on 16x20 inch stretched canvas for this one, which took two months from start to finish. The video below shows how the work came to fruition with each stage of the work.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

London Tourists - the finished painting

This has been the longest ever time that I've taken over a painting. It has also been on and off the shelf since its conception. I've been both tremendously excited and absolutely fed-up with it at times - a real roller-coaster of a work that well, I'm really glad but in a strange way sad that it's finished. All of the young people in this painting are strangers to me, but having painstakingly painted each of their faces, jackets and jumpers, crinkly jeans and assortment of footwear, I almost feel that I know each and every one of them in a strange way like a friend.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lino Printing - Simple, or is it?

Done Sledging

It's been almost a year since I posted anything on here despite so much that has happened in that time. 2013 has been a good year for me, sold a number of paintings and greetings cards, the proceeds of which have disappeared down that empty hole of investment in painting kit and material costs. That said, I am under no illusion of making it as a half decent artist, but those sales have given me confidence and a little support in the last chance attempt in making a go at a painting career in my twilight years!

My work in acrylics has been dominant in the last half of last year and I've been moving towards bigger and more detailed, though not necessarily better work! I'm always keen to try out new things, and this has resulted in a new medium for me - linocut prints. Did you used to do that at school? I know I did, must have been in junior school in the 1950's - crickey, that seems an awful long time ago!

The first two goes that I had at lino printing were abysmal. Chunky, stark looking images with little detail made me give up in disgust for a couple of months. Then I came across one or two linocut images on the internet which looked amazing. What was I doing wrong then? Like the proverbial poor workman who blames his tools, I put it down to cheap shoddy tools and incorrect ink. So I bought a selection of acrylic printing inks, synthetic lino and a set of better quality tools and with the help of a marvellous book that I put on my Christmas list (never expecting to actually get it), I set about the task with renewed enthusiasm.

The new kit worked!

I decided to go the whole hog and do a three colour 'reduction' or 'suicide' print - well if you are going to do something, might as well think big, or that's what I thought.

fig.2 second print run
For those who aren't familiar with reduction techniques, this means first cutting away anything that is white or the paper colour, then running off as many prints as you need in your underlying colour, then working through this technique for each subsequent colour, cutting away at the lino as you go, though in practice, it isn't quite as simple as that.

The picture above has sort of given me a crash course in lino cutting! For a start, the new lino that came turned out to be dark grey. This meant that after carefully drawing the image on paper, transferring it to the lino by tracing became impracticable - couldn't see my lines, and carbon paper didn't leave a mark on it. I ended up chalking the back of the paper, then tracing it that way, which was extremely messy but gave me enough of an image to use a white acrylic pen to draw over the fast smudging lines!

The next problem was that I didn't have a light enough blue for my needs, so ended up adding some normal titanium white acrylic paint to my blue ink and mixing it in - bad decision, as this altered the viscosity of the ink which was difficult to roll out smoothly and dried very quick, but I didn't want to wait another week for more ink to come through the post or the expense of it, so ploughed on.

fig.1 lino after 2nd cut
With six sheets of the first colour printed, I set about cutting away areas where I wanted the second colour. It's not easy trying to work it all out, but interesting non the less. When it came to printing the second colour with normal blue ink (fig2), the resultant image started to look much more like a picture, but at this point it became clear that the first paler blue was really a bit too dark; also in my eagerness I managed to cut away the boy's right glove ! Couldn't do anything about that now, on with cutting again to leave just the parts I wanted black. After this printing, the image was almost complete, just left the man's cuffs and sled to add by brush in yellow and red.

My first real foray into lino printing produced a few mistakes but was in the main enjoyable and really interesting. Registering the colours during each stage of the printing was no where near as hard as I thought it was going to be, thanks to the book. There are endless possibilities and techniques to explore for future works, so this is going to be an interesting little project between paintings. So a promising start to 2014 it is!