Friday, 28 August 2015

Dappled Light

oil painting of a cat asleep in a flower pot, a pet portrait by karen
Friday, again? That has come around quickly. 
Whenever the sun comes out, my cat unerringly finds the optimum spot for sunbathing without over-heating or being over-looked. 
I hope you have a great weekend and find the optimum spot to relax as well. Thank you for looking at my paintings.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Dogs of New York

oil painting of dogs in Central Park, New York
This fabulous scene is of dogs resting in Central Park, New York and is based on a photograph by Christine Coffey from Paint My Photo. I painted it because I had hoped to go to New York this year - it is on my Bucket List - but that is not practical at present so this was the next best thing. Especially as you can "stroll" round Central Park at your leisure courtesy of Google Earth soaking up the atmosphere before picking up a brush. Such fun.

This was a challenge to paint due to the compositional complexity and the large area of grey stone. I simplified the scene - removing a number of dogs and a complex web of leads, for example - and spent a long time considering how to tackle the subject. 

In the end I opted for a limited "Zorn palette" - I wrote about this at length on my other blog here - and so painted the entire thing using only cad yellow light, transparent oxide red, black and white. It is amazing how much variety you can get into your greys from so few colours and it also results in a nice, harmonious feel.

Here is the swatch chart I originally painted using these colours:
On the other blog there is a second chart using colours closer to those originally chosen by Anders Zorn. But I find the resulting mixes a touch on the cool side for my taste. I like warm colours for warm dogs.

Friday, 21 August 2015


oil painting of a cherub blowing a kiss
Friday once more and raining sideways. 
Ah, well. Don't let that stop you having a great weekend. Thank you for looking at my paintings and for your support and encouragement. It makes a big difference to me.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Me, myself and I

Me, myself and I, oil painting of a cat looking at its own reflection
This is a limited palette painting: Transparent Oxide Brown, Yellow Ochre and white. I used a tiny dab of Cad Red Light for the ear and nose. 
It is the most difficult painting I have succeeded in completing for a long while: anything more difficult would have ended up on the garden bonfire, a fate that this one only narrowly escaped.
I thought the hardest bit would be the reflection, but in fact that was quite easy: I painted what I could see of the cat using very thin paint (thinned with turps). It looked weird. I resisted the temptation to fiddle. Then next day I laid a layer of Transparent White thinned with Liquin right over the top and ta-daa! It looked like a reflection.
The hardest bit was modelling the form of the cat to give the illusion of that sinuous, curving body. I wiped it 5 times back to linen before it came good.
I am now exhausted and thinking about switching to an easier career, such as astrophysics.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Study of a Foxhound

Study of a foxhound, oil painting of a foxhound
"Study of a Foxhound". This is 20"x16" oil on linen. Worked in brush and palette knife. I am going to enter it for a juried show. We'll see if they like it. The dog is called Skye and belongs to my friend.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Red Umbrella

oil painting of woman walking dog with red umbrella in the rain
A very wet morning here in Devon. Hope it is nicer where you are.
For ages, I didn't attempt a painting like this because I couldn't figure out how to paint rain. I was thinking, it is so - visually - intangible. How do you capture it in something as tangible as oil paint? 
Rain doesn't have shapes or lines or edges. It is just kind of blurr-y.
Then I had the ha-ha moment.
Wait a bit for the paint to tack up. Take a firm bristle brush - I often use one of my old ones where I have cut away some of the bristles so there are only a few raggedy ones remaining -  and carefully drag it through the tacky paint in the direction you want the rain to be coming from. Sideways, in this instance.
The rain always falls sideways in Devon.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Bloodhound

oil painting of a bloodhound

A very limited palette painting (mainly burnt sienna) this old friend looks a good deal more wrinkly and lugubrious than the breed used to look, for example when painted by Sir Edwin Landseer. 

Here is a famous one of his, on the left, with my copy of it on the right. I first posted this about 18 months ago:
Dignity & Impudence, Sir Edwin Landseer, a bloodhound

When I was looking for nice paintings of bloodhounds, to show you how much their appearance has changed since the Victorian age, I also came across this one, which was new to me. It is in the Tate, London and was first exhibited in 1839. It was painted by Charles Landseer, Sir Edwin's older brother:

Bloodhound and pups by Charles Landseer

In Devon, UK there is a wonderful charity that uses bloodhounds to search and find lost dogs across both Devon and Cornwall. Here is the aptly named Forager. This photo is from the K9 website, which is here:
The only bloodhound I have ever met was a working dog also, he worked for the police and had been trained to find missing people. He could pick up the scent of a person up to 5 days after they had passed that way and was a truly exceptional tracker. He was also a truly exceptional drooler and left silvery trails in is wake. There is no drool in my painting: he wants to be immortalised looking his best, I think.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Last Walk Before Bed

oil painting of 2 dogs on the beach at dusk, pet portrait by Karen
Last walk before bed and the last painting of this week. Thanks to Coral for sharing this photo and yesterday's on Paint My Photo. I liked how it appears the tide has turned in this scene. The waves always seem to become a bit more assertive at that point. I painted this one in two steps. 
Step 1 - I did a very thin, turps-y underpainting using Paynes Grey and a touch of Olive green. I made thicker, darker lines where I wanted the bigger waves to appear. 
Step 2 - after that layer was dry, I went back in with undiluted darks, trying to get a mix of warmer darks (I added some olive green and a tiny touch of burnt sienna) and cooler darks (by adding black). I felt this might help achieve a more luminous quality.
Once again I waited for this to tack up. It looked very peculiar (with no white highlights). The final stage was to dry brush in the white horses and the highlights on the wet sand in the foreground.
Thank you for looking at my paintings this week, I hope you have a great weekend. In the meantime, for anyone interested, it is Vermeer over on my other blog and The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I have had a lot of fun with this one.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Evening Walk

man walkking dog on beach against the sunset, an oil painting, dog painting
A bit more tranquil than the scene for the morning walk. 
To make this glorious orange I used Rembrandt Transparent Oxide Red and Cad Yellow Light - for the darks I added Vandyke Brown. Also some black for the silhouettes. 
Orange is a difficult colour: I had a tube of Golden Cadmium Orange when I worked with acrylics and it was fabulous, but my W&N Cad Orange is disappointingly pale - almost got a pastel tinge to it - which is no good at all. 
Of all the colours, this is the one you want to ZING. 
The trouble with testing some different brands is, of course, the expense. Michael Harding's Cad Orange 40ml is RRP £29.52 (that's more than $46 for those of you across the pond). 
Perhaps another item for my Christmas list.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Morning Walk

Morning walk, oil painting of man and dog on the beach
To celebrate the summer holidays being in full swing - and to make up for the fact it is pouring with rain - here is how things ought to be this August morning. 
It was fun to paint as I used different colours to normal: Magenta, Cadmium Orange and Manganese Blue. Love these colourful paint tubes. I made darks with the addition of Vandyke Brown and Purple.