Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Composition Exercise Evolves in Acrylic

Acrylic on Oil Sketch Paper 13.5 x 25cm

I'm really happy with this one! As far as composition goes, I just went for what felt right.

The reason I'm happy with it is because I just sat down and painted it, no pencil or charcoal lines, just straight in with the brush. I know there's nothing new about that approach but it's a first for me. The result was some less than real proportions but it's more painterly, isn't it?

I really enjoyed this limited palette. First the entire paper was covered with Yellow Ochre and then over-painted with Titanium White, Payne's Grey and Mars Black.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Exploring Composition in Pastel

Pastel on tinted paper 13.5 x 27.5cm

I'm closely following Katherine Tyrrell's study of Composition on Making a Mark.

Katherine posted a treasure of a link which gave me access to a pdf version of Arthur Wesley Dow's book Composition. It's a wonderful read.

Inspired by all this study I went back to my last oil painting, photographed it and imported it into Photoshop where I turned it into a greyscale image. I then looked for a more interesting crop within the painting.

This study is on a sand coloured ground, and I limited myself to a grey, black & white pastel pencil. I'm considering giving my pastels away, as I seem to be incapable of making clean, elegant marks with them.

I went back to my original photograph for this sketch and I think that was a mistake because I preferred the proportions of the cropped painting where I eliminated that corner of another building on the left. Photos always seduce me with detail.

Anyway, I think I will now try this composition in watercolour and then maybe later in acrylic on a coloured ground inspired by David Hockney's The Bradford Exchange (also found on the official Hockney website kindly posted by Katherine.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Still Life with Chair

Watercolour & mixed media 26x28cm

Trust me, this is not going to be a series. Too much of the wrong sort of colour and I feel like I did when I ate too much fairy floss (cotton candy). I'm not sure why I'm posting this, maybe it's so I can put it behind me and move on.

Version II with background wash

I've killed it with the background wash. Indigo wasn't a great choice for the wash.
Definitely moving on now!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Greek Vase Strikes a Chord

Watercolour & black watercolour pencil in Canson sketchbook

Do you have a muse?

My muse has been absent for many weeks - on holiday in warmer climes, I've joked. Then I opened my emailed link to Art Daily and there she was! A 500BC Greek vase spoke to me!

She is now on loan from the Italian Government to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the next four years. So that's where she's been! The loan is in exchange for the return to Italy of the Euphronios krater.

What does your muse look like?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Exploring Oil Paints

Gloves & Oranges 18 x 23 cms
Oil on Canson Primed Paper for oil

I'm way off track with my 2008 Art Goal no.7 to sketch something every day. I've been mucking around with oil paint again, determined to pursue Art Goal no.8 to be more risky and playful. Since I don't seem to have the nerve to be more risky and playful on a proper canvas, I've cut up some Canson paper primed for oil.

My friend Taya has a passion for Italian kid gloves, so while she and Peter were packing to return to Australia I swiped her new gloves and paired them with three oranges as an exercise in complementary colours. Nothing subtle about this one!

My tiny studio isn't a healthy place to work with oils and I think that's been one of the reasons I've not really got into this medium. Now I've set up a corner at the back of the apartment I have the benefit of what natural light there is at this time of year, plus some air circulation.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

He Who Encourages Me

Feburary 2006 (my first attempt at a graphite portrait).

When I first met He Who Encourages Me (HWEM) he was writing on an Epson 286 PC, which didn't even have enough grunt to run the first version of Windows. I had been a Mac fan - using nothing else, since I laid eyes on the very first model. It took me a while to convert HWEM and I enjoyed that 'while' because, for once, I knew more about something than the did! Of course it was bound not to last - my superior position. Now whenever I have a computer problem, I give a plaintive yelp and he comes to the rescue.

Yesterday I discovered on Facebook that Dave of Dave's Blog has lost his iPod. Poor Dave, I was truly sympathetic but couldn't resist a little quip that this was his opportunity to upgrade to the latest model. Well, of course, I got what I deserved. The very same day I dropped my iPod. It continued to work for about 20 minutes and then froze. I tried every troubleshooting tip in the manual before I resorted to the Plaintive Yelp. HWEM was soon on his Mac - a man with a technical mission.

Meanwhile I started checking out the latest models in the Apple Store. I'd finally settled on the new 80 Gigabyte Classic and was thinking of adding some rather flash speakers when HWEM placed my old iPod on the desk. It was working!

In typical HWEM fashion he refused for some time to tell me how he had fixed it. It turns out, for that particular problem, you drop it a couple more times!

HWEM - My Hero.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Third Oil Painting and Art Goals 2008

Old & New Oil on canvas 30x40cms

Some of you may recognise this picture from the value sketch I did earlier this year. It's from my own photo of part of our village where old architecture meets new. I've been working on the painting at my Wednesday afternoon painting group for weeks. Everyone laughs because I am so slow with oils. To date, I've pretty much been on my own learning the medium. This is only my third painting. I've now started my fourth - Flora, a detail from Botticelli's Primavera (Spring) which is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. By copying a master I'm hoping I will get greater benefit from of the experience of our Italian teacher.


This is the first time I've attempted to set art goals and is due to the good influence of some of my favourite art bloggers such as Katherine, Laura, Ronell , Shirley and all the others I haven't managed to get to yet.

Mine is a rough list but better than no list.

1. Learn to make more use of the wonderful tools I have in Photoshop CS and Illustrator. Does anyone else have trouble learning and remembering how to use these programs?

2. Study Italian EVERY day. I know it's not art but it is necessary if I'm going to get all that is on offer here both personally and artistically.

3. Sell a painting (and I don't mean to a friend!)

4. Come to grips with oil painting by become faster and more confident.

5. Paint more watercolours and make more pen & ink sketches en plein air.

6. Share more of our life in Tuscany through my blog.

7. Achieve a quick sketch each day (even if I have to learn to trash a few). Shirley of Paper and Threads inspired me by revealing in her goals that she's 'not willing to take big risks and be really playful on the pages' of her daily sketchbook because it has become a precious visual journal. Shirley is going to overcome this problem by continuing to keep her illustrated journal but to also carry loose paper for risky and playful sketches. Which inspires my last goal......

8. Be more risky and playful.
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