Friday, 18 November 2011

Jungle Games

Finally got around to making this jungle scene a bit more interesting. It always looked like a background to me but now it is complete. I am quite happy with it. It makes me smile when I look at it.

Oblivious to the spy in the trees, Annica and Bonyo laughed and played,
exhilarated to be high up in the light at last.
Oil on canvas 80x60 cm, 31½ x 23½".

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Burden of Ancestors

Another one for the portrait series:
"This girl was born into a strange family. Luckily she didn't inherit the sun allergy from her mum, and the scales from her grandmother don't seem to be spreading too fast, but to receive so many properties from her etherial dad can only be a disadvantage when growing up in a vampire castle."

This one is coaxed out of layers upon layers. I was trying to get a nice depth in there both to give the colours richness, but also to support the story of so ancestry. Her skin received the most attention. It is a bit nicer-looking in real life and comes out rather flat in the photo. I think it might have been easier to do in oil than acrylics.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tutor Report on Assignment 5

My (new) tutor writes:

Feedback on assignment

Section 9 Expressionism

3 Colour studies

You have interpreted the toy very inventively in study 1; The paint use is expressive giving the toy a particular presence. Whilst it is recognisable as a toy it does have a perceivable threat to it, and undercurrent of menace if you like which does become the subject matter of the painting. The colour choices are effective as is the characterization of the subject. Painting directly helps to carry this study and gives it a certain potency.

Study 2 on the dark ground has quite a different feel to it. Due to its scale the toy becomes vulnerable set in a much wider scenario. You have used the dark ground intelligently to set the atmosphere of the painting; the animation of the toy with its slightly hunched feel is effective also.

It is good to compare these 2 studies as they demonstrate how the same subject can have different content determined by paint use composition and atmosphere.

The third study is the most complete painting of the 3. It is very well executed with some inventive use of paint which activates the whole
canvas. The image has character again but this time revealed through some real understanding and use of the medium. There is scope for some further development combining open paint use with a distinct narrative.

Project 1 Associations Larger painting

This painting does not have the presence or intent that the 3 studies have. Your paint handling is very safe and indeed timid in comparison to the 3 smaller works.
By the way that you use the medium you set up the way that the viewer looks at the work; I look for conventional relationships between the objects and how they are interpreted and the painting lets me down in regards to these aspects as I explore the piece in depth.

You have not really exploited the very expressive use of paint coupled with idea that you showed with the 3 studies. You have tried to make a picture here to the detriment of expression and intent. The fact that you have signed this painting confirms this!


In contrast this painting is full of intent and very powerful associations. You have controlled the colour combinations well and utilized the odd composition to good effect. This being is believable even though it is made up of thought and imagination. The use of impasto in the ground colour is wonderful and really adds to the atmosphere of the painting as does the treatment of the figure. Have a look at Kirchner and how he uses the primitive in his figures. You have explored your subject well here and have exposed some of your inner thoughts which adds to the success. The painting has an odd composition in terms of the positioning of the figure but this adds to the content.

The drawing on the blog looks equally successful both in its effective use of the medium and in its expression.

Section 10 - Painting Outdoors

A garden or park/ a landscape/ townscape/ waterscape

You are a little dismissive of some of your efforts for this section on the blog, particularly when talking about the parkscape. Although this painting does not quite come together as a whole there are some nicely observed parts to it, particularly the building in blues to the right the steps and wall and the flower bed in the mid ground. This painting is not finished; you gave up on it as you honestly say in your log. One more session should do it; look to your greens in terms of tone, especially as they recede and look to the wall on the left and how this relates to the overall. This painting has a fresh open feel to it. Look at the work of Peter Doig.
The landscape is beautiful; fresh and open, well considered and well executed. The approach that you used here is ready for an increase in scale despite what you say on the blog. This painting recedes really successfully and it has a really believable ‘plein aire’ atmosphere to it.
The other works on the blog made on what looks like the same scale look successful also for the same reasons. Look at Ivon Hitchens work to see how he uses the landscape for expressive, abstracted paintings.

The waterscape by comparison is over fussy in places and generalized in others which does not make for a successful whole. This is not really a waterscape as you have made the water the most insignificant part of the painting. The treatment of the water is very tentative indeed, as though you have not understood how you can use paint more expressively as in the previous section. Have a look at how Manet paints water and Monet also to help you here.

You have painted a picture here again as opposed to exploring your subject through the paint. If you explore your subjects through inventive use of the medium the finished painting often looks after itself.

The townscape has a certain charm to it, if a little naïve in places. This said the treatment of the houses on the left and the cars is very inventively interpreted indeed. The foliage is a little generalized and too much ‘straight out of the tube’ in terms of the use of the greens; however it is an acceptable little version without the expression that some of your landscape work has.

Learning logs/critical essays

You learning log/blog looks fine, full of information and research. It is well presented and thorough. My only comment would be that you make too many excuses when things do not go right or to plan for example in how you talk about working outside in places. Negative decision making will always hold your work back.

Suggested reading/viewing

Look at all those artists that I have suggested and include in your log just to complete it.

Overall Comments

Overall this was a reasonable last assignment containing some good work but also some that does not reach the bench mark that you set yourself with your successes. You are a little inconsistent but that is fine for this stage.
Looking through the log in my opinion you have enough work to put in an effective submission for assessment if you choose to do so. Be selective, re reading your reports and picking out your more successful work to put forward.

Bearing this in mind I would advise going with the new criteria i.e. 12 to 15 paintings, ten studies/drawings, 3 to 6 sketch books and your learning log/blog. These criteria should accommodate your selection. 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Painting in Progress - Storytelling

Not quite sure where this is going just yet. I wanted to move a little bit on from the portraits, but still have it as an element. Maybe the storytelling is more important in this one. The girl needs serious work. I want her to look as innocent as possible.
Anyone have any good tricks?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Portrait of a Sailor

That thumbnail of the skipper below, sparked something, so I turned it into a painting.

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas board, 594x420mm

This is mostly acrylics, but I played with some collage, stamping, stencilling and tar gel to get a layered feel. And of course I added real jewellery, just because I really like the effect and it's a challenge to make it fall right so that it fits into the 2D surface.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Getting Ideas

Once a painting is finished, it's not always easy to know what to start with next.
I've noticed it's harder when I've done a painting I'm quite pleased with. If you're only as good as your last painting, maybe you need to stop with one you're happy with :oD
One helpful tool is to start a series of paintings. They don't have to be tightly related, just as long as you have some read thread to lead you to the next canvas.
I like doing thumbnails in my sketchbooks. The smaller frames are so unassuming that it is dead easy to fill them in.
On the above page I've tried to tie a picture to a short sentence. Sometimes the words came first, sometimes the picture.
I decided to try the sailor top left for my next painting. My oh-so-loose theme at the moment are portraits of mythical, fictional characters, so it fits right in. The first painting in this series was the Mermaid.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

P.S. Krøyer



The Daughters Benzon – P.S.Krøyer 1987

I want to write a post for one of the Danish painters who was a master at outdoor painting.

P.S. Krøyer was a contemporary of Monet and Degas and I think the influence can be seen in his works.

He is most famous for the body of work he did in Skagen; a tiny fishing village at the very tip of Denmark, where two oceans meet and the light as a result is extraordinary, not unlike St. Ives. Painters as a result flocked there and there was a lively community there with Krøyer, Anna and Michael Ancher among others.

The light, I think, was that fascinated him the most, and it shows beautifully in his work. I had a look at the histogram for some of his paintings, and they clearly show how bright his paintings were. Dark colours seems only to be used for the sake of emphasizing the light. Even in the evening scenes.


Summer Evening on the Skagen Southern Beach with Anna Ancher and Marie Krøyer, P.S. Krøyer, 1893


Summer afternoon at Skagen, P.S. Krøyer, 1899

He is a very popular painter, like Monet for the utterly romantic settings, and I think he has contributed a great deal to the idea of Scandinavian living; light, airy, bright and peaceful if a bit cold.

I like his paintings in the same way that I like Mozart. It seems to me that both artists remove themselves from their work an achieve a serenity and ethereal atmosphere, but lose something of the personal connection you can get from other artists who let their personality show.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Waterscape–Final Painting


Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I chose this scene from the Yorkshire Sculpture park. A fantastically warm morning in autumn, where the light because of the low angle of the sun looked like sunset in summer. The lake, probably because of undercurrents and wind, reflected large patches of sky, but other places showed the murky colour of the water.

I tried working in a looser fashion with this, relying as much on memory as the sketches and photograph.

To keep the main focus on the water I made it the brightest area in the painting, and to give the painting more depth I hazed down the background with blue, paler colours, while giving the foreground sharper edges.

Up close this painting is a bit of a mess and I again incorporated too much of what I saw. The patches of brown water doesn’t look like water at all, probably because the shape isn’t squashed flat and horizontal enough. I went back and added some more white reflections to fix it somewhat.

Overall though, I like the warm, sunny feel of it, and standing back it really Is quite a peaceful scene.


What have I achieved?

Well I don’t think I am ready to work outdoors just yet. I most certainly feel the need to go back and build up more experience with each subject as the text suggested.

Aspects I especially need to look at are: perspective, composition, simplifying. Trying to bring everything together in these last four paintings has been a great experience, but also sobering. There is so much to learn.

Landscape and scenery painting is not my favourite subject. I find faces, people, animals and still lifes much more appealing. More intimate. But I’d still like to be better at it :oD

Waterscapes - preparation

Reflections in the harbour. Soft pencil

I know one thing. Water is hard to draw. It is easy to think that you’ve sussed the pattern and stop looking. Then start to fill in automatically only to find that it now looks nothing like water.

Colour study. Soluble pencils

It can at times look mirror still and character less, other times like a faceted jewel, reflecting colours you never knew was there.

The pattern is just mesmerizing. Where do you even start?

I can understand Monet's and Constable's fascination with water. Where else can you meticulously observe something and draw it and get a result that looks completely abstract? It challenges your observation skills.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Urban Scape

So I scoped out the busy street near where I live. I liked the way the sun flowed through the leaves in a golden autumn way.
This one was supported mainly by photos and a quick sketch.

Apart from the obvious mistake with the side sigh to the right, I got the perspective right. Can believe I didn't spot that sooner. Ah well.
The colours also seem nice and warm which I am happy with. It is hard in a picture like this not to get lost in all the details and some of them like the row of bay windows down the street I did not resolve in a satisfying manner.
It was a challenge to simplify what I saw and something I need to practice more.
Still I am pretty happy with the overall attempt. It took me a very long time and I don't think I could have achieved anything like it, had I stood on that busy pavement for hours.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

A Landscape

I must admit I find it a bit too daunting at this stage to paint large canvases outside. I'd rather hone my skills some more, continue to sketch and draw outside, but leave the easel in my studio.
I hate backing away from the challenge, but I think outdoor painting for me at this stage becomes too much about materials and logistical problems and not enough about painting. So this I will stick with.
To still get as much out of these last paintings of the course, I will scope out all the locations myself, do notes and sketches on the spot, and then use a photo that I take myself as extra reference for the actual painting.

The paint for this one was laid down in one alla prima session, and I'm quite pleased with the result. The photo as usual makes the lights too bright and the shadows too dark, but I think I managed to compensate for that. I have also made the colours more vibrant.
I do love having my camera with me even when I just intend to sketch - for the simple reason that it's such a great view finder. I have tried walking around with a paper viewfinder, and it does help, but the camera really helps to isolate a subject.

I should have simplified the background more than I did. I got a bit lost in the mess of branches, where a few well chosen ones would have been better, but I'm very pleased with the look of the path. Many times I have tried constructing a path and the result looked fake and tacked on to the landscape; this one was just painted as I saw it and came together nicely.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Garden Painting

After having been quite pleased with my small colour studies, this project was very disappointing. Standing out there trying to paint in wind and aware that I was being overlooked, I completely forgot what else I have learned about painting and made a complete hash of it.
I included far too much in my composition and the scale of the canvas - the course insists on a large one - meant that I spent all of the first session just laying in base colours and not getting a lot done.
Second trip I was disheartened and gave up after an hour.
I can only agree with Ford Madox Brown sentiments. It felt unpleasant and profitless and as if I know absolutely nothing about painting.
This is the state of the painting at the moment.

I feel inclined to never go back to it again, but maybe I will calm down a bit after a while :oD

Well, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Even with just neighbours being able to look in I felt terribly exposed, especially since it was going so badly. Really not relishing the thought of going out again. Still, this is just the first one and with all the expectation I had was bound to turn out badly. I'm not giving up, but I think I might go for a smaller canvas for the next one, and the next thousand after that, just till I get more comfortable. :o)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Colour sketches, dipping my toes.

Let's start small. Let's start with acrylics. I have my trusty sealed palette which I love to use at home too.

With this setup I can paint in my lap and since acrylics dry so fast they are dry by the time I have packed away the brushes. Both of these studies are small 15x10 cm and that is a really nice size for getting something down fast. I felt I could emulate Constable and Bucci and capture something very fleeting.

The cloud formation in this one was gone before the sketch was half done, so I was happy that I hadn't gone bigger. Still, I should be able to do A4 with the same setup, so I'll try that next.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Outdoors - Theoretical Studies

John Constable - oil sketch

Plein Air is very popular these days, but when John Constable did his, it wasn’t considered finished paintings like they are today. Carefully executed paintings made in the studio was the accepted method of the day.
I love the way he captures a quick sky with moving clouds or a rainbow with a background of rainclouds. I think sketches like that are vital to understand the shifting light and vivacity of nature, much like drawing the human form from life gives a vital insight in the shifting muscles and relation between the limbs. And I prefer the quick impressions always to an elaborate and minutely executed photo realistic version. Though I still absolutely admire the skill behind such works.
John Constable - oil sketch
Working quickly and laying down the larger forms seem to be more vital than usual when working outdoors. The light is ever changing. Monet would come back several days in a row and paint from the same spot, but even that does not guarantee you the same light.
James Gurney points out in his book  Color and Light, that an overcast day can be a great help to a novice trying out plein air, as the scene and the objects in it tends to retain more of the actual local colours of each object that way. In high sunlight you have to deal with stark shadows and reflected light which affects the whole colour scheme.
I have trawled the net for various modern examples and fortunately there are a lot of people willing to share their experiences and tips.
One thing that confounds me about the project is that Ian Simpson, as he has done in the previous sections, insists on large canvases. Most other tips I have read advises people to start small, both for convenience and simply to get more comfortable with the medium and to capture the scene quicker and learn to paint fast.
Take a look for example at these quick sketches from Marco Bucci. The hint of a thumb gives an idea of the size.
Marco Bucci - Plain Air sketches

Tiny, but absolutely beautiful and I think there is a lot to be learnt from painting small as well as big. Still I will try to give both sizes a go, but the thought of carrying A2 and A1 sizes around without a car seems nigh on impossible to me.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Section 10 - Painting Outdoors

And so we come to the final section. I have been looking forward to and dreading this one in equal measure.
Plein Air painting sounds so fun and exhilarating, but also awkward with all the equipment you have to log around and even exposed as anyone can walk up to you and comment on your work.
I am a bit sensitive about people remarking on work in progress, especially if I am tryin gout something new and is only timidly finding my way.
Still. I have been drawing outdoors and in cafes for a while now, and while there is definitely curiosity, most people won't actually say anything.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Project 9.2 Atmosphere

This project was about atmosphere. Remembering a strong feeling and trying to capture that moment.
For contrast, I thought I'd go for something darker this time. This is how I remember depression and feeling alone. A sense of restriction and muteness. Not being able to express myself.
Unlike Munch's picture I have never felt inclined to scream when I felt bad, instead caving in on myself in silence.
The turquoise and blue are chosen to be oppressive, even the skin tone taking on a greenish pallor, to make her look sickly.
The drawing I did first I feel is better, but I was trying to work very loosely to let the emotion have centre stage, Her odd proportions and shape seems to fit nicely into the mood.

What have I achieved?
Again I haven't let loose fully from the figurative, but I feel the emotions are all the better conveyed when I can see what the picture is of. I guess it is because I place a lot of importance on the storytelling. I think it helps the empathy. I don't consider myself an angel, but the wings help make the bonding seem all the more horrible.
I really like the subjective approach and find it suits me better than trying to be as naturalistic as possible. Staying loose is also a great relief, at least at the start of a project. at the later stages it was hard not to try and get more detail in there and work over every area again and again.
I'd like to incorporate what I have learnt here in future paintings, perhaps with more subtlety, though. Gently push an emotional expression to make the subject more engaging.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Project 9.1 Finished Painting

Thinking of my Sister
I wanted to convey a sense of joy and playfulness, of safety, toys and imagination, so right from the start I felt that I had to bring in a whole rainbow of colours.
I started by laying down the background in warm colours with a cloth and palette knife, covering the canvas completely, but not blending the colours too much. I wanted the light to come down from the top right and make the foreground slightly darker, just to indicate without specifying the surroundings. Then I had fun stamping the canvas to create some texture. The second sitting had me put in the main shapes, the third the details were defined, such as the fish and the lighter petals. I then glazed the whole picture to bring the colours together again and the last stage was adding back some of the highlights that the glazing lost me.

What have I achieved?
It was fun building a whole painting on a feeling. Even though the still life is still quite descriptive, I feel I also captured some of the emotion I wanted to express. I considered going more all out and creating something a lot more abstract and wild, but it didn't come natural, so to keep the painting flowing I went with the middle ground. I am very happy with the result.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Project 9.1 - Associations

This project is another still life, but with a twist. It should be done in an expressionistic style, which means that the objects are now chosen not for their form and colour, but for the feelings they invoke.
I have chosen a collection that all remind me of my sister. I will try to use these objects to paint the unique way my sister feels to me. It involves history, intimacy, safety, play and imagination, warmth.

These three studies are experiments with different colour sets for just one of the objects. Sticking to tight colour schemes it is interesting to see what effect they have on the mood of the picture.

The first in earth tones definitely has warmth to it. I mainly used a cloth to smear the paint on, which gave little control, and that's good, cause I didn't worry about details. I tried letting the lines come outward towards the viewer to give a feeling of being welcomed.

The second I made in blue tones, which gives it a cooler air, but also a feeling of mystery I thought. The paints were scraped on and off using a palette knife. I also splattered the paper with water, but it is hard to see.

For the third on a black background, I experimented with size. The black was so overwhelming it felt natural to go with a sense of being small and insignificant. The paint is smeared on with a cloth, stamped on with bubble wrap and manipulated with my fingers. I like the smears which make the blue paint transparent and affected by the black. It is a very cold picture. Had I chosen a warm green it would maybe have given the little figure hope, but with the blue I think there is only defiance against the dark.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sketching in the park

More outdoor practice. Really it's just an excuse to go out in lovely weather :o)

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Section 9: Expressionism

Expressionism first emerged in the early twentieth century. It is an artistic style in which the artist attempts to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouses from a persona perspective. It is depicting moods and ideas. This can be  accomplished through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism, and fantasy and through the vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of formal elements.

The result can be as abstract and vivid as Franz Marc’s ‘Fighting Forms’.

And as intensely intimate as Egon Schiele’s ‘Friendship’

‘The fighting forms’ expresses such energy and turmoil.  He achieves this by using various techniques; Colour: complimentary colours enhance each others vibrancy, nearly every inch is covered in strong hues.
Composition: the composition does not allow the eye to rest; spirals and jagged lines push us this way and that, the two halves literally fight for attention.
Application: I have not seen the painting in real life, but the strokes appear to be large, dynamic and swift, only allowing rough blending here and there.

‘Friendship’ on the other hand, appears understated by the lack of colours. They emphasize a quiet moment, but the colour red brings attention to sensitive areas all over the body. The way he draws the forms is also vital to the expression. The body’s not very anatomically correct, making them fit together better, making it hard to see where one body stops and the other begins. This painting is all about touch and the sensation of skin against skin.

In some ways these paintings do make me feel slightly uncomfortable. Not for the feelings they express but because something as intimate as ‘Friendship’ makes me feel like I am intruding slightly. But they also touch me deeply.
For me one important aspect of art is about voice. The artist shares his unique viewpoint, those who feel the same take comfort in sharing; those who don’t might achieve better understanding of a fellow human being.
That is what expressionism is all about.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Classic Illustration

One more for the road. This time it's my own design. Quite happy with it, but now I want to do one for Luna...

Potions - Watercolour and Ink

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Too e-asy?

Too e-asy?

Look at that. I'm a little famous :o)
A very nice article by Elizabeth Underwood.
And thanks to Penny for telling the OCA about my book.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Outdoor Practice

I better start sketching outdoors to get ready for the Plein Air painting.


A few plants in my garden done with the yummy Inktense pencils.

Charcoal Sketch from the back yard,
Colour study 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Old Fashioned Illustration

I wanted to try ink and watercolour in a style close to Arthur Rackham, one of my all time favourite illustrators. I've never done ink and watercolour together before and it's been ages since I played with either medium, so I decided to start with a copy and see where it got me.

This is a loose copy done from a another hero of mine, Justin Gerard. I just adore his style. Loose, whimsical, yet with a drawing skill that just nails the subject every time. Here's the original. No comparison of course, but if I keep practising... :o)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

John Martin Exhibition, Millenium Gallery in Sheffield

John Martin (1789-1854), English Romantic Painter & Illustrator

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
This was a fantastic exhibition. Lots of engravings and small paintings giving a good overall impression of the painter, but first of all it is so lovely to be able to see the large doomsday paintings that he is so famous for. The largest of them must have been about 5-6 meters across.
I had never seen his work before to my recollection and the thing that struck me the most was how modern they seemed to me to be. They remind me very much of matte paintings used in fantasy movies like The Lord of the Rings. They have the drama of modern photographs and nearly always a fantastic depth with the landscape dropping away into mountains and huge skies in the distance, lending them a true epic feel. And it certainly was epic situations he liked to depict. Biblical scenes mostly but also other legends and poems.
I like the intense colours and harsh contrasts. He uses rim lighting and reflected colour to great effect.
He seems to have been hugely popular with the general public for his dramatic pictures, but disdained by the art institutions, but that just makes me like him more.
Look at the fantastic bolt of lightning coming down to strike Lot's wife above.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Al Gury Study 2

One more. I'm more happy with this one, although I'm not sure what happened to the neck. Managed to get thicker paint in and to keep the different planes of colour more defined.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Thoughts on Feedback

Once again, she is spot on with a lot of things.

She again reminds me to use the paint more thickly and I want to, but it doesn't come at all natural to me.
The comment on general colour I hadn't thought of myself, but I can see that it is true. I am a bit lazy sometimes and don't get the subtleties right.

Lots of different greens in a landscape. Yes, that would have definitely made the picture more interesting. Again laziness I'm afraid.   Oh, and time pressure. The stated time for each project is never ever enough to work on these kinds of details, but I guess I'll just use more time than it states.

Must try harder :o)

Tutor Report on Assignment 4

My tutor writes:

Overall Comments
I can see that you really enjoy working from the figure and this is reflected in your competent figure studies.   When painting you tend to use a general colour to sometimes to describe an object and I feel you need to look more closely at the subtle changes in colour.  I would like you to experiment with more ways in which you can apply the paint.

Feedback on assignment
Developing a short hand -The pencil study of your bed and bedside table works well compositionally but the painting has been changed by altering the angle of the bedside table, reducing the book in size and removing one of the objects.  The result of this is that compositionally the painting looks as if it is divided into two.  I like the study where you explore the texture of the wood and I think this could have added more interest to the painting.  I also like the character you give to inanimate objects as in the drawing of the bedside table. 
The wooden table feels solid in the painting but the bedding although well drawn needs more texture with the use of brush strokes and paint to bring out the folds.  
Using photographs – You need to experiment with lots of different greens in a landscape otherwise it becomes a bit monotonous.  The greens in this landscape are a bit acidic adding some brown to the mixture would tone them down a bit.  In a landscape you tend to use cooler colours in the distance and warmer in the foreground and distant objects have less contrast. The distant hills could be paler. The area behind the fence should be darker.  It would have been interesting to have made more of the shadows especially across the path.  I like your handling of the flowers and trees but the foreground grass needs more work.  You could experiment with a painting knife to apply paint and scratch into it, or try a textured surface to paint on.
Squaring up – I like the composition and the way you have brightened up the painting.  Overall it works well but I would have left out the telegraph pole all together.  The pavement slopes downward in the foreground it may have been better to angle the brush strokes across more horizontally.  The car is leaning slightly.  Although the lamppost isn’t quite straight I don’t mind this.

The figure -  Your figure studies are very good and you clearly enjoy this subject.  You have done very well in attempting to paint a child sitting at the table as they never keep still for long. This convincing painting is well composed and painted.  The only area I feel is a bit distracting is the brickwork on the corner of the window it would have been better without the dark lines delineating the bricks.  I really like the way you have painted the fabric on the window sill and the bowl of fruit, these are very well seen and work perfectly.  I also like your handling of the table.
You have captured the child’s concentration very well and you have picked up on the subtleties of her skin colour.  The hand with the pencil is a bit too small when compared with the other hand. 
Artist and model – I like your use of colour when the black is taken out in your painting.  The scumbling under the tops, links with the board colour well.  The figures are well drawn and convincing.
I think the figure standing up would perhaps have been better slightly further to the left hand side of the painting or the composition would be improved by leaving out the objects on the left.  The face of the figure sitting appears like a mask cut out because of the dark edge around it.  Perhaps adding more shadow on the underside of the hair on the far side of the face will help.
A reclining figure – I like your idea for the reclining figure but overall it needs a bit more contrast. The thickness of the paint works and I would have liked this extended into the face as this looks a bit flat.  The figure is well drawn but should be lighter on the back.  The back leg needs more modeling and shadow on it from the leg crossing over it. The arm that the head rests on needs more shadow and the dark shadow of the armpit is too big making this arm look too small.  The draping fabric and lion skin need more substance and shadowing.

Learning logs/blogs/critical essays
I think you can expand more on your analysis of artists work explain more about why you think things work.  I like your attempt at copying  Al Gury, he applies the paint more thickly.
Suggested reading/viewing
Patrick Caulfield is a painter you may be interested in; he created artificial constructions and invented images.   Jenny Saville, Lucian Freud and Euan Uglow are interesting portrait painters.
In answer to your questions, I use liquin to speed up the drying time of my paintings and this gives a fairly matt finish to the oil painting.  The paintings dry in about half the normal time.
Something in between acrylic and oils are gryfin alkyds which are ment to dry more quickly but I think they are the same as using liquin but I haven’t tried them.

Monday, 4 July 2011


Quick study of an Al Gury. I really like the way he works with planes, simplifying the colours. I didn't get it right at all this first time. Will try again.

Friday, 1 July 2011

the Frog King

I forgot how much I enjoy illustrating fairy tales. Such a delight, Here's the final line drawing:

I originally set out to do full shading on paper before I went to the computer. I thought there'd be less chance for me to mess up the colours then. But then this developed and so reminded me of the style of Mucha that I decided to try and colour like he does; fairly flat, but with nuances in each colour. So I ran with it. This in an A3 drawing and I only have an A4 scanner so I had to scan it in three stages and then patching to eliminate the gradients that always creep in.

I think now the illustration is done. I coloured it in Photoshop. Took me ages, but I this kind of thing always does. I expanded the sides a bit, because she felt rather cramped in the coloured version.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Between Assignments - Fairy tale illustration

That lovely time again where I take time to do a few things completely off topic. The ArtOrder blog has a nice challenge this month. Deadline is this week, which is good to get me in gear.
The call is for illustrations to a Grimm Tale. Can it get any better?
I chose the Frog King. I like the idea of the little princess being so utterly disgusted with the frog. Here's the thumb I chose to work from.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Life Drawing Workshop

One of the great things about OCA is that they every now and then offer workshops for us students to attend completely free of charge. I think that's very generous and gives us a good chance to meet a few of our fellow students.

Tinted Charcoal

I attended a workshop in York last Saturday. Ok, I still had to buy a train ticket to get there, but it was worth it. At the York Art Gallery, Jane Lazenby and the model Helen, met us all and we had a great day sketching and chatting about techniques. Here are some of the sketches I cam away with:

Blue Col-erase and mechanical pencil

Blue Col-erase and stick charcoal
My Col-erase pencil is a trick I came away with at university. We were given these pencils as part of an animation course. The blue doesn't show up on the film and is therefore great to sketch in initial shapes with. I find it fantastic to start on. While it isn't invisible, it never dominates and I feel freer beginning with this little pencil. Like I have a free trial before the serious strokes have to be put down.