Thursday, January 29, 2009

Linoprints with Watercolour

Linoprint with Watercolour

I've been experimenting with adding colour to my linocut prints. I've gone for a Japanese woodcut-like approach on the rooftop cat above. Quite pleased with that one.

Have you noticed how many cats seem to be finding their way into my art? I do hope our dogs haven't noticed, Dermott, particularly!.

I much prefer the quince without the colour (which you can see in my previous post). I will experiment with gouache for a stronger colour effect but first I would like to find a vegetarian alternative to Ox Gall which hopefully gives gouache a smoother finish. Any suggestions you Gouache Experts?

There is a marvellous interview with Sherrie York on Printsy: Printmakers on Etsy today. Sherrie's linocut prints and her generous and informative blog Brush and Barren have inspired me in my latest adventure. When you see the evolution of her work you will understand why.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quince Woodcut

Woodcut 10.5 x 14cm

I bought some thin plywood as backing for lino blocks and couldn't resist trying a little woodcutting. Of course I didn't spend enough time working out the design. Couldn't wait to start cutting. I also think I may have ruined the sharpening job Rick did on my favourite linocut tools. Not sure how I'm going to tell him.

I did learn from this that it's easier to cut fine detail with the grain, rather than across it! I need to come up with a greater variety of marks. I need to keep a lookout for some nice pieces of timber. And finally, the most exciting discovery is that Baby Oil is a great alternative for cleaning up oil based inks. In future I'll not be using turps.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Still Life with Two Objects IV

Oil on panel 18 x 24cm

Like an ill-fated television drama series, I think I'm going to bring down the curtain on this six painting challenge without painting the final two episodes. And like an ill-fated television drama, I leave you with a cliffhanger - Will the beautiful pear escape from under the glass or will it be left to rot?!

My tip is that it does escape, only to be eaten with a lovely, runny Mont d'Or, Vacherin du Haut-Doubs AOC.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cat on a Tuscan Roof

Linocut 10.5 x 11cm

I bought myself a couple of better quality lino-cutting tools recently. My printmaking teacher, Rick kindly spent ages professionally sharpening them for me, so I decided to put the dreaded oil painting aside and make another linocut.

I did a sketch of this image from my own photograph way back, thinking it would make a fine linocut. I initially made a mess of the tiny detail of the cat's ears and had to find a way to patch the lino and re-cut it. The repair instructions I found on the internet suggested using an abrasive on a piece of lino, collecting the resulting dust and mixing it with fish glue. You then use this to fill the area you want to recut. After it is dry, sand it smooth and you should be set to try again. I couldn't face cooking up a pot of fish glue for such a small hole so I mixed the dust with some wood glue. I would do it properly next time.

This is a different lino to the one I have been using and after making this first print I realised I need to sandpaper the surface before I make any more prints because it doesn't hold the ink very well. I'm going to play around with a couple of these prints adding watercolour and other media. Meantime I have an oil painting class this afternoon. Groan...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Still Life with Two Objects III

Flask & Pear - oil on panel 18 x 24cm
(the photograph is a little too blue)

This is the halfway point in the two object still life challenge. I don't know about you guys but I'm getting a bit sick of it! I'm thinking, why did I restrict myself to this limited palette for SIX paintings?! Then I remember it was because I thought it would look more like a series if I did.

Then it occurs to me that it is reminiscent of potty training: initial optimism leads to endless diligent straining, followed by embarrassing mistakes, disappointments and the end result is s***!

On a more positive note, I've discovered a way to transfer my initial sketch on to the canvas. I sketch the composition on a piece of paper the same sized as the canvas. When I'm finally happy with it I place the drawing against a window and from the wrong side trace the major lines with a soft charcoal pencil. Then place the sketch, charcoal side down on the canvas and trace over the pencil lines with a paper stump. This give a lovely clean line on the canvas that can still be easily removed if necessary.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Still Life with Two Objects II

Oil on panel 18 x 24cm

This is the second in the challenge of six still life paintings in which one object is replaced in each picture. I'm following Casey in this challenge which originally started on WetCanvas.

I'm trying to do these paintings alla prima but I fiddled with this one again today. Note to self - don't fiddle!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Flying Pictures - Different Strokes

I've finally added the back cover to my Flying Pictures Sketchbook - Different Strokes and created a slideshow to present the completed book.

You can see the artist of each page by moving your cursor over the picture. It's a wonderful roll of talent:

Casey Toussaint - France
Nina Johansson - Sweden
Glen Heath - England
Vivien Blackburn - England
Ronell van Wyk - France
Lindsay Olson - USA

Thank you all for your gorgeous gift!

Thank you too all of you who've followed our travelling sketchbooks, offering encouragement through our creative angst and remedial chocolate. A sketchbook exchange is an unforgettable experience that I would recommend to all.

Slide shows of the other books and the story of the Flying Pictures exchange can be seen on the Flying Pictures Blog.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Still Life with Two Objects I

Egg & Jug - Oil on panel 18 x 24 cm

Back in December I got very enthusiastic about joining Casey, rue Manuel bis in a challenge to make a series of six still life paintings (from life) using two objects. In each successive still life one of the objects changes. I was very slow to get started and thought I wasn't going to get there at all.

Before I decide if I'm going to abandon oil painting all together, I'm doing some very quick studies to see if I can speed up my learning curve with the media. Today, after seeing Casey post her second pastel painting in the series I decided to give it a go after all.

I got to a point where I thought if I put the above painting aside for a couple of days to dry. I can make a better painting. I'm having a lot of trouble keeping the colours apart. But fiddling around isn't the point of the exercise, so I'm going to post it and move on. Maybe I'll do the next ones on cardboard so I can be even more relaxed in my approach.

Today I posted Lindsay Olsen's Non-Linear-Arts gorgeous oil stick paintings which are the last entry in my book for the Flying Pictures Sketchbook Exchange. They also happen to be the final pictures in the entire exchange as my sketchbook was the last to complete it's adventure. You can enjoy Lindsay's pictures and all the sketchbooks on the Flying Pictures Blog.

It was Casey who invited me into the FP exchange so it seems appropriate that I following her in another challenge. I do hope I have the staying power to complete the whole six still lifes.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Oil Painting's driving me mad.

WIP after Giovanna Garzoni - oil on canvas 50 x 35cm

I didn't have any desire to paint in oil until I was invited to join a local group of Italian artists. I loved the idea of the company and the opportunity to practise my Italian. Everyone was painting in oils. Everyone was painting after the masters. Our teacher doesn't like watercolour. He saw me as a watercolour painter. I started painting contemporary pictures in oil - very slowly because I am totally lacking in confidence with this media. Eventually, in order to benefit from his vast experience, I started trying to copy the masters.

Currently I'm working on a still life after Giovanna Garzoni. She was an amazing woman - Italian artist who lived between 1600-1670, never married, sold her work for big money to wealthy patrons. She made enough to retire at 45 and left a fortune to an art school when she died. Mostly she worked in tempera on vellum.

Giovanna is probably turning in her grave because my picture is copied from two of her paintings. As usual it is going Very Slowly and I still don't know what I'm doing. I'm missing something in oils, I enjoy the feel of them and love the blend ability but it's driving me mad!

So I put aside Garzoni and grabbed a small canvas panel and set about offending Van Gogh....

After Van Gogh - oil on canvas panel 18 x 24 cm

Don't be fooled by the apparent simplicity of this genius! It was impossible to duplicate the wealth of his brushmarks. I worked as quickly as I could - got it done in an afternoon but still had that empty, lost feeling.

There was paint left on my palette so I went mad on a piece of watercolour paper....

I sat back and looked at what I had done and thought - something about this looks familiar - not good but familiar. Is oil painting driving me mad?
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