Friday, 28 October 2016

Horse on Red No 2

Portrait of a Horse in red and gold
My last "Horse on Red" here was painted using cadmiums and blues and produced a very different - much cooler - result than this version. 
I painted this one with: Transparent Oxide Red, Transparent Oxide Orange, Lemon Yellow, Transparent Oxide Brown and white. Apart from white, these paints are all transparent, which gives a lovely luminous finish, but which can be frustrating to work with. 
The paint is so luminous, the horse fails to "appear" from out of the background as a solid form. More like a ghostly, Hallowe'en horse..?.  Most of him is painted in two or even three layers to overcome this problem.
The tack was painted using Vandyke Brown, Raw Umber and white. These browns are much cooler than Transparent Oxide Brown and enabled me to make the tack "stand up" from the body of the horse. I found the tack very hard to paint, because of the complexity. I can't imagine how you would actually put it on the animal.
Thank you for visiting my blog and looking at my paintings. Have a lovely weekend 🌞

Friday, 21 October 2016

Roadford Lake - Summer

Oil painting of Roadford Lake, Devon in High Summer

This oil painting of Roadford Lake, Devon in high summer was made from a series of photographs I took on one of many dog walks (if you are local or thinking of visiting - the view is from the Forest car park).
I have not had much practise at landscapes and, realising they made me nervous, I decided to try to improve my confidence and hopefully skills. I watched some marvellous YouTube videos by Michael James Smith: thoroughly recommended. His technique is mesmerising.
High summer is a very difficult time of year to paint a landscape. Stapleton Kearns in his advice to wannabe landscape painters, suggests avoiding this Very Green time of year altogether. Good advice, in my opinion.

I worked the piece on an MDF board I cut to size and prepared myself with 2 coats of household matt emulsion and 2 coats of gesso. It is 16 inches x 8 inches. I drew the rough position of landscape features in charcoal then blocked everything in using thin acrylic paint before working oils on top. Here is the progress of the acrylic block-in:

oil painting of landscape, work0in-progress

If I was to start this one again - and, believe me, I am not going to - I would re-position the gap in the trees at bottom centre so it was less - well - central. I think that would make for a livelier composition. Otherwise, my main learning point is that whilst it is satisfying to practise a technique that allows for a degree of realism, this is probably not the effect I want for my paintings. I need to develop my own techniques that allow for greater expression and atmosphere.
Presently I am working on a forest scene which is more Autumnal in colour. A welcome escape from green.
Have a lovely weekend and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Horse on Red

Oil painting of elegant horse on a red and stormy background
This horse was painted on a red background and the red was allowed to show through the other colours. This gave a unity to the piece (I think).
I went through a phase a couple of years ago of toning the background with a thin red and had some success. Red is a good mid-value colour and forces you to pay attention to the darkest darks. Then one or two pieces went horribly wrong and I abandoned the idea. 
Here is another go at the same technique. The palette was: cad red medium - for the whole board as a background then the bridle; Alizarin, Prussian Green and a touch of Cerulean Blue - to make those greys in the sky; black, white and a touch of yellow ochre for the shiny bits of tack. A combination of these made the various browns of the horse.
Here is a collage of work-in-progress photos.
horse on a red background, work in progress photos
Have a lovely weekend everyone and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Enjoying Autumn

Sheltie surrounded by autumn leaves
It has been a beautiful Autumn here with the trees all copper and gold and the falling leaves gleaming and crunchy. Instead of brown, mushy and soggy like a typical October. We are lucky.  Here is a painting to celebrate.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Resting my ears

A basset hound, sleeping on the sofa, painted in Autumn colours
A basset hound, sleeping on the sofa, painted in Autumn colours, actually using just Transparent Oxide Red, black and white. I was working on my values. As usual.
I am beginning to realise that almost the entire "secret" of realistic painting is down to getting the values right. It is super hard.
Do you remember learning to drive? I was taught to recite the mantra "Mirror, Signal Manoeuvre" - which I used to do quite obsessively for ages before it became second nature. Well, when I am painting, I am mentally reciting: Light, Mid-tone, Dark.
The darkest dark in the lights is ALWAYS lighter than the lightest light in the dark.
Keep your darks, DARK

I don't think this quote is about painting, but it is pinned up on my easel anyway.

quote about light and dark