Saturday, June 06, 2020

Puffin painting & Farne Islands Northumberland

I've been having fun on a virtual holiday escaping lockdown again.  This time I've been recalling time spent in Northumberland a few years ago.  While there we sailed to the Farne Islands, which is supported by the National Trust, to see the puffins, other sea birds and seals.  Well worth a visit, as is Bamburgh Castle, at top of the painting.  We hope to return again when circumstances allow to visit the Longstone Lighthouse. 

As usual, the painting began with a few scribbles in a sketchbook, to remind myself of the subject and roughly work out a composition.
Then fun with paint on the easel.
First a background.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Virtual Vacation on Lockdown

Normally at this time of year I'd be planning a holiday. But with Covid19 lockdown that's sadly not possible.  So instead I'm taking a virtual trip to one of my favorite seaside locations with a bit of imagination and paint.

I'm using up an old sketchbook (waste not, want not 😊) for preparation doodles. 

Mousehole in Cornwall holds so many memories for me and the family. I could fill a whole sketchbook with drawings of it's buildings and harbour features. But I'll concentrate on just a few. At this time I'm trying to simplify the way I work.

I worked a rough composition sketch of part of the harbour.  This painting will be about the fondness I feel for the place and memories, not physical or naturalistic accuracy.  

A blank canvas can be a intimidating thing to some artists. I find painting quickly with a big brush is an exciting way to kill the  white and create a background.  It's just a start and most of it will be painted over eventually.

I'm using acrylic paint on yupo paper for this painting.  It's smooth and doesn't buckle, no matter how many layers of paint get added.

Referring to my sketchbook preparatory doodle, I drew buildings and features. I like to draw with pastel, chalk or charcoal at this stage, so if I change my mind about something I can simply rub it off.

When reasonably comfortable, I went over lines with black paint. Buildings are wonky, inaccurate in any natural sense. Marks are loose and imprecise, which is just the way I want them.

Now it's time to start having fun with colour.  

Unable to get to the studio because of leg injury.  A few boat doodles in sketchbook best I can do in preparation for when painting resumes.
At last I got back up to the studio for a short while and made a little progress on the buildings in this painting.
Using white soft pastel I sketched in where positions of some boats and surf boards might go.  Then roughly went over the outlines with black paint. 
The painting is now finished, complete with a name for the boat in the foreground.

I thought it fitting to include the name of this vessel because of the brave story surrounding her and crew:
PZ107 Renovelle. Was a 54.4 ft long 1st class lugger built in Mousehole in the year 1902.  Operating at Newlyn around 1932 and later.  Her crew included Edwin Madron and son (who was drowned at sea), Grandson James 'Jimmy' Bassett Madron later drowned on the Penlee lifeboat.  The Renovelle was one of the Newlyn fishing boats in naval service during the 1939-45 World War 2.
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Monday, April 27, 2020

Let Art be your Escape from Lockdown cont'd - 3

In this third post in my arty escape from lockdown series, we get busy with paint on your chosen surface.  Remember you only need a few colours and virtually any surface to paint on (See first blog post for suggested list of materials).

 Refer to your doodle sketches (see second blog post). Using a large damp brush and whatever colours you like, loosely lay down the background to simply describe the location for your picture.  Imagine it's a stage before the actors arrive.  Some acrylic colours are translucent, but if you add a little white, they become opaque.

Word of caution, when using acrylic paint take care not to get it on clothing.  Lay protection on furnishings etc., because when dry it will NOT wash off.  It is plastic and when dry becomes waterproof.  Clean brushes thoroughly in your water pot, or with a baby wipe when not in use.  They will be ruined if allowed to dry.

When your background is dry you can paint over it adding other features and people.  I used a small damp brush and black paint.  You'll notice my painting is beginning to change compared with my previous pencil sketches.  Allow yourself to change your mind.  Move things around, take things out.  Leave gaps to fill in later, like I did in the bottom left corner.  Acrylic paint allows you to paint over as many times as you like.  So relax.

When comfortable with the composition, begin colouring-in adding layers to describe the people and place.  Don't fret about detail.  Colours don't need to be accurate.  Sky doesn't have to be blue, nor grass green.  Trees can be purple....why not!  There's no painting policeman standing over you with a big stick saying what's right or wrong's your painting go for it!!!

Close your eyes and think about the people.  Who mows the lawn, plays football, loves cats, takes photos, cooks BBQ, wears sunglasses on top of their head, loves to sunbathe?  Lots of ways to bring life to your characters.  If something doesn't feel right, just paint over it.  Above all paint what makes you feel happy.  

You're welcome to ask questions, comment or contact me.

Happy Painting!  Hugs Bee xxx

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Let Art be your Escape from Lockdown cont'd - 2

Family Garden Party after Lockdown
Naturally it's people we miss most during the Lockdown.  And I've found it helpful to concentrate on looking forward to happier times ahead.  This Family Garden Party is one of the paintings to help me stay positive.

I'm hearing from people who would like to do their own version of this painting.  So I'll try to help you get started by showing a little of my process.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, you don't need much in the way of materials.  

Begin with paper and pencil and jot down in words the people you want to include in your painting;  family, friends, pets etc.  Choose a location that will be the background for your picture.  You may want to use your garden as a setting as I did, but it can be anywhere;  park, playground, theme park, zoo, outdoor cafe, seaside get the idea.  This is important, because although it seems obvious, it will help set the happy story in your mind.

I then like to make a few doodles while thinking about the people, using just simple shapes;  circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, triangles, straight lines. No need for details like facial features.  You might like to show things like beards, sunglasses.  Think about how they dress and what they do;  one of my sons often wears a cap, and the other is rarely seen without a camera.  These are the kind of details that will personalise your picture and make the people recognisable.

Now very roughly draw the location which will form the background to your picture.  If it's to be your garden, does it have a fence?  Are there trees?  Flower beds, pots, steps, child's swing, bench.  Which ever happy place you want to take yourself to in your minds eye, scribble down the main features.  Work quickly, no need to be neat or precise. 

Then you can populate your scene by adding your family, friends and pets.  Have them doing or just being how you might see them.  It's just pencil marks on paper....not written in can make changes at any stage.  Just relax and enjoy the feel of doing it.

Next time we'll get to work on your painting.  Refer back to yesterday's post for a list of suggested materials.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Let Art be your Escape from Lockdown 1

I, like I guess many people are finding ways to best deal with the Covid19 Lockdown.  For me it's making art.  And through it, making connections with the people and places I love, even though I can't physically be with them just now.  

Fiddling around with coloured paint can be a calming and therapeutic way to escape with imagination and have fun.  So if you've always fancied having a go at painting but never found the time before, now's your opportunity.  I hope to be showing how you could make a start here as Lockdown continues.

Picasso said 'Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up'.  Children see what's important more clearly than we do as grown-ups.  I remember my childhood paintings would have a strip of blue for sky at the top and a strip of green or brown at the bottom to show ground, with  space between where big and little stick people hovered.  Mum had scribbly curls and blue dotted triangle body.  To me this way of seeing has a clarity that seems to make sense in the pared-back way we're living just now.  So I'm trying to put aside all the art techniques I've learned as an adult in an attempt to go back to making pictures in a simpler way.

Come back if you'd like to have a go yourself and I'll try to show you how.  You'll need the minimum of materials:

Scraps of paper or a sketchbook
Firm surface to paint on, eg stiff cardboard, smooth scrap wood, hardboard.
Acrylic paint;  red, blue, yellow, yellow ochre, white, black.
1 big brush
1 small brush
Plastic store card or bits of stiff card
Baby wipes
Kitchen paper

You'll notice I haven't suggested painting on canvas or posh artist materials.  And that's because if this is the first time you've made a painting you need to relax and just have fun.  Faced with an artist's canvas you might feel intimidated, stopped from starting for fear of making a mistake.  So use what you have to hand .... cut up a cardboard box or search the garage for scrap wood.  And here's the best thing.  It doesn't matter if you make a 'mistake'!  There's no such thing.....only 'happy accidents' as someone, I forget who, once said.  Not only that.  Acrylic paint is absolutely magical....because you can paint over it with new paint as many times as you like!!!!  

See you next time and we'll get started.
Hugs Bee

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Why you decide to be an artist?

'Why you decided to become an artist'.  Yesterday this was posed as a topic on which to comment by Baz Whitehouse, an artist friend. I hadn't previously given it much thought, but at first tongue in cheek, I thought it deserved its own blog post.  So here we go...  

In the olden days when there were 8 half a crowns in a GB£, and I was around 7 years old, every week I would enter and, more often than not win half a crown in the painting competition promoted in our local newspaper.  'There's money in this art malarkey' I thought. Half a crown is about 12.5 pence in new money.  I've always been an optimist.

But seriously, I think 'being an artist' was who I was always meant to be.  At school I was pretty average at most things, apart from art.  I hung out with the arty crowd and it was always assumed I would go to art school.  That all came a bit un-stuck when the art master put me forward, and I was accepted, as a textile design student at our local art school.  But because I aspired to study at the Regional College of Art in Manchester and then go on to the Slade to study fine art .....(always did have illusions/fantasies that needed to be tugged down to earth at times )  I decided that didn't suit me at all, and in a fit of pique did something else entirely.

But, it seems my old art master wasn't altogether mistaken, and probably at that time knew me better than I knew myself, because decades later I worked freelance for needlecraft magazine publishers creating designs for readers to follow.  Some of my designs continue to be marketed as kits and needlecrarft projects commercially.

Around 2003 when living in Cyprus I began to believe that I could properly begin to express the artist in me.  I shall always be grateful to Stass Paraskkos, who founded the Cyprus College of Art, and my tutors there Andreas Efstathiou, Grahame Parry and visiting tutor, abstract artist Patrick Jones for giving me that freedom.

When I look at their work now, I can see how these mentors each influenced me in different ways.  They would probably be disappointed I didn't push myself more.  But as I see myself as a perpetual student .... there's still time.