Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Beginnings

oil painting of a foal on linen
New Year's Eve is one of my favourite days of the year: it always seems to me full of promise for a fresh start. A whole year looms in which - as yet - no resolutions have been broken, no bad paintings painted  and no mistakes made! Wonderful.
What resolutions will you be making?  I am still cooking mine up; it is always a challenge to achieve a balance between things that I have a sporting chance of achieving and things that I would have done anyway: in other words, not too hard, not too easy but just right. 
One area I am brooding on is how to achieve a better balance between small, "daily paintings" - such as this one - and working larger. I find working large difficult, partly due to lack of practice, and I would like to get more fluent and more confident. I have already bought some large canvases and some larger brushes for working on them.
Next, I must put them to use.
I hope you have lots of good new beginnings. Thank you for your company in 2015.

Friday, 25 December 2015

"I see you have turkey..."

I see you have turkey, oil painting, cat looking at turkey
Painted with an extremely limited palette of Venetian red, cad yellow, black and white except for the cat's eyes for which I also used a tiny pin spot of blue to make green and the blue left over from that formed the oven lights.
For me, Venetian Red is the most difficult colour I own. Worse than Pthalo Blue or Pthalo Green: its opacity and pigmenting strength is absolutely formidable. I used the tiniest amount to make this painting and even so had to re-start twice.

My turkey is downstairs, very likely being eyed up by my cat so I must scoot now and sort it out. Have a lovely rest of your day.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The night before Christmas

Christmas Eve, cat and baubles, an oil painting, the night before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; 
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; 
The children were nestled all snug in their beds; 
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

The first verse of the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore which gave us so many of our Christmas traditions.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Friday, 18 December 2015

7 more sleeps until Christmas

golden dachshund painting
A wise, old face on this dog I have always thought. Waiting for Christmas, but finding the whole experience rather tedious. Like me, to be honest.
Last of the Christmas commissions despatched, last of the on-line sales packed. I am beginning to review the year just gone and plan for next. I love New Year.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

8 sleeps until Christmas

A few seasonal bits and bobs, complete with a little selfie in the gold bauble. I managed to resist drinking the wine.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Move 'em out

oil painting of cowboy on galloping horse
At this time of year - wet, dark, grizzly - I am often drawn to anything hot, bright and dusty and once again childhood cowboy fantasies come to life. One of my earliest memories was of going behind the TV to look for the cowboys and indians I had seen on the screen falling from their horses and disappearing. I assumed they had fallen down the back.

My objective with this painting - apart from having a bit of fun - was to try and capture enough detail so you know what is going on without a slavish rendering of the original source photo. I used a palette knife, a larger than normal brush and my fingers.

However, to make a start, I put in a few lines and the darkest darks with dilute raw umber. One day I should like to start a painting using the massing in technique, instead of lines. I have only achieved this with really simple subjects (e.g. an apple) or landscapes. I find it very difficult to get my head round that approach where there is any complex detail.

work-in-progress photo of cowboy painting

Last post for this week. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Best of friends

oil painting of an old cowboy and his horse
A painting made with two colours - Vandyke Brown and Raw Sienna - plus black and white. This is essentially a value study, as well as an experiment in varying texture despite using only transparent colours.  I could increase opacity by adding white, of course, but I tried not to. I experimented with working into the paint after it had begun to tack up, as well as with layering. It is surprisingly time-consuming to work in this way. I might use it as a means of achieving specific effects in future, but not to paint a whole painting.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Don't Look Back

oil painting of horse, standing
Also called "dream horse" by me, as I saw this painting, looking like this, in a dream. Sometimes I do paint in my sleep, but usually I am "working" on a piece that is causing me trouble when I am awake. I haven't "painted" anything before from scratch in a dream. 
It is an unusual limited palette: Manganese Blue, Orange and Vandyke Brown with white. The colour combination makes for a nice, dream-like quality I thought.
Last post for this week, have a great weekend and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Rest and relaxation

oil painting of a snoozing dog
Being a bit pushed for time at present, due to family dramas coinciding with Christmas commissions, this one is a re-post from "one I did earlier" (that phrase was made famous by a UK children's TV programme when I was little). 
I pulled it out of the cupboard because I have always liked it, and could immediately see how to improve it. 
Basically, I glazed over the shadows with a darker colour to strengthen them.
It cheers me up when I can immediately see what needs doing to one of my pieces: it possibly indicates I am improving, do you think? 
Shame I can't practise this on my commissioned work but customers will unlikely sympathise with my desire to put their presents in the cupboard for 3 months in case I can subsequently see how to make improvements.
I did read somewhere that you should never re-touch your work, but only move on to the next piece. Well, I think that is rubbish (at least if you work in oil).
 Leonardo da Vinci said: "A painting is never finished. Only abandoned."

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Guarding the Ball of Power

oil painting of ball and teddy bears
Also known as "My dog's Toys", this is a small study for a larger painting that I have previously posted. I revisited it recently with a view to building a similar but more complex set-up for another larger painting, perhaps with more variety of texture. I like working with brush and knife in the same painting.
The "Ball of Power" is so called because of the impression my timid, little dog gives that - with a tennis ball in his mouth - he is transformed into a super hero.
dog on beach with tennis ball
Bilbo with the Ball of Power

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

River Tavy, Tavistock, Devon

oil painting of River Tavy, Tavistock, Devon

This was the scene about 4 weeks ago. The trees hung on to their leaves for a remarkably long time. Painted from my own photos and observation at the scene, although I did not set up an easel, being still too shy especially in such a public place. There is a footpath to the left of the painting out of sight and it was teaming with Saturday shoppers.
The first time I saw this river from the footpath - which is 10 or so feet higher than the rocks here - it was summer and we scrambled down on to the rocks to sit and watch for trout or salmon. There is a fish gate at the top by the bridge to help spawning fish ascend the weir and continue their journey up river.
Painted mostly with a knife from the back forwards, it took about 4 layers to achieve this effect, drying in-between and I had 3 wipers before I was happy with it. 10"x8" on board.