Monday, April 30, 2018

The Shapes Marilyn Makes!

Marilyn is a remarkable model who can hold the most outrageous poses with precision and quiet. She has long toned legs the body of a former ballet dancer. Today we began with a 15 minute pose followed by a series of 3 or so minute poses. I worked in colour to begin with and have not included those here.  The four below are a sample of what Marilyn got up to and the one above was a twenty minute pose.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Land, The Land

oil on panel, 15 x 20cm
It got almost hot today and I had a whole studio day.  I gathered my plein air 'kit' and walked until I found a vista that interested me. I began with a tonal study.  I was on an information gathering outing.  I had two small (6 x 8 inches) gessoed panels and thought I might be able to record something that would be useful in a studio painting later. That's what I'm exploring at the moment, using drawings and oil sketches as a starting point for a painting.
oil on panel, 15 x 20cm
Back in the studio I worked for a few hours on my four-canvas painting and when I'd resolved that for the time being, I turned back to my London river view.  I really liked it in its unfinished state so was quite hestitant to return to it, but the only thing to do is to keep going… the image below isn't really true to colour.  The sky is a light cerulean and the water is a muddy aqua. I used what I had so far, tried to remember what I felt about the place, used my drawings and my other oil sketch and referred to a photo. 
oil on canvas, 22 x 30cm
A few weeks ago I I drew in the same spot as above but the barge had gone and the sun was out.
pastel on paper, 10 x 6 cm

Monday, April 16, 2018

Decisions Decisions

Yesterday afternoon and today was about a second, third, forth … pass of colour.  It was about deleting confusing detail and deciding where to paint thinly, where to glaze and where to show strokes. It was about choosing a way to bring things forward and send things back.

If you know me  you'll know I say that I hate making decisions.  Huh! Many more decisions necessary.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bigger and looser

I painted for a few hours on these four canvases that in total make a 60 x 60 cm painting. It took me about an hour to arrange the set up, with four canvases in mind, and yet it is a very similar arrangement to the series of pieces across media that I began at the start of the week.  Mostly I have shifted the colour. Last night was the opening of the SOS show at the Apex.  It was a fine event and I was impressed with the scope of the work. Seeing the variety along with the recent rejection seems to have freed me - long may it continue as I march towards resolution.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Drawing through

Flowers on a Grey Day, pastel on paper, 28 x 28 cm
It was another one of those rainy days today. It was also the day I'd hear about an important open submission.  It's hard to get anything done on days when I'm waiting to hear.  But I wanted to change things around a little with the stilllife I had painted and approach it with pastels. I put some cloth over part of the existing background, shortened the daffodils, cut some new hellebores and draped a blue cloth napkin over the red box.  I put some fishing line across the back and hung one of my painted paper collages over it. The beginning marks were awful and I nearly quit repeatedly. The true colour on the right is orange and that flummoxed me for a time.

Once I'd heard I hadn't had either of the pieces I'd carried down to London on Saturday accepted, instead of allowing myself to wallow, I grew determined.  I knew that I would feel awful for a little while but that that would ebb and the best way around it was to draw through. 

And here is that other painting, finished.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Yellow things

I wrote my blurb for the NEAC catalogue today and chose an image to send too.  Summing up the year was a little tricky, but good. One of the things I thought about and added before I pushed send was something I have realised about me. My process is about discovery.  I don't work in a totally premeditated way but it's also not quite the 'not knowing' way I was taught.  I realise I paint and draw to understand. So, I might set something up to test but I won't know where the painting and drawing will take me or even what I really want to find out until it's nearly over or maybe even later.  It's intuitive but I am discovering and learning as I go and that's why observation has mostly been my starting point. Knowing that feels good!

I continue to read the book I mentioned in the previous post, learning some things I guess I really ought to know…  I have been looking at art in galleries, books and museums checking to see if those RULES are hard and fast and the answer is a resounding 'NO'. I went to the Monet at the National on Friday and lo and behold Monet places his subject slap bang in the middle sometimes. His skies might be darker than the ground in some paintings too. Thinking about those things is never a bad thing, though. 

Today I wanted to test out one of my nine new canvas covered rabbit skin glue/gesso panels and decided to try to see if I could use the colour yellow in my composition (lots of daffodils at the moment). In general I find yellow and red difficult colours to use together so not quite sure why I did that except the things were nearby and once I'd arranged them they seemed to work.  I used the basic palette I was taught to use at Stanford and did not use any black. I loved working on the panel and Louise Balaam's advice to put a final coat of rabbit skin glue over the gesso was brilliant!  I will come back to this tomorrow and consider that blue glass vase on the right.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Drawing to take notes for painting

Spring Weather NF, pastel on paper, 10 x 16 cm
John Dobbs gave me a challenge when I visited him in his studio earlier in the year.  And then when he led the workshop painting the Thames in the freezling snowy weather, what he said made sense.  Today was the first day I have had time to begin the challenge.  To prepare, I have been reading Mitchell Albala's Landscape painting: essential concepts and techniques for plein air and studio practice. 

It was windy today and the weather was threatening rain but I lugged my easel out in the field and began by making a few thumbnail sketches.  I had the sun to my left and the wind was blowing the clouds northwest. I thought about four values: the sky, the ground, the slopes and the verticals (from my reading) and that made sense! In terms of composition, it isn't the most enlightened subject matter but because it's close by I can visit the spot regularly, something John suggests I will need to do.

What John thinks I should do next and forever more is to use my sketches/drawings to paint from.  He tells me that as I paint I will discover what information I haven't collected and then will need to go back and get it in order to paint something meaningful. When I painted the Thames that's what I did and I discovered I do remember things and I suspect that muscle just needs conditioning in order to use it properly. We'll see.