It’s not what you do, it’s what you don’t.

Ta-daa!

It may be possible to detect a whiff of satisfaction since I’ve muffled that chattering inner critical voice.

I’ve realised that in order to appreciate my own work it is imperative that I wait a few days after completion to be able to stand back and look at it with fresh eyes…rather like getting used to a new haircut.

The fear of using watercolours is diminishing.  First using only transparent pigments mixed with plenty of water enables me to lightly ‘map out’ the image.  It allows for painting as many layers as I need to build up the impression of dimension.

Flat brushes instead of round were used in an attempt to introduce spontaneity, with charcoal and pastels for intensity.

I’m persevering with the same subject as before, my youngest step-daughter, Ruth.

  • The ink version was all about the lines; a clean, graphic quality being appropriate.
  • Although not exactly a whimper of a painting, I abandoned the watercolour portrait because, despite scribbling on it with pastels, it still felt too flat, rigid-as-a-stick and the edges were too similar.  It didn’t excite me – it lacked those extra ingredients of chaos and energy that I respond to and there was none of the fluidity that only watercolour can deliver.

With this simplified version, the ‘unfinished’ appearance is entirely intentional (assume your “Oh come OFF it” face here).

Ruth©watercolour

Pablo Picasso described art as the eliminiation of the unnecessary and Claude Debussy stated that “music is the space between the notes”.

Simplify, simplify, simplify!  Do more with less!

In this vein, I tried to embrace the blank spaces and make each mark count, obtaining a perfect image being less important than how the paint was applied.  And what was left out.  Yes, you guessed it, I’m making it up as I go along here.

This painting feels complete to me.  And there are edges; some soft, some sharp and I may have even managed to lose some!

Enough?

In keeping with the minimalist theme, I’ll end here and see myself out.

 

 

Someone Pass Me The Tranquilisers

I’ve just completed a superb online watercolour portrait course given by the amazingly talented professional artist and tutor, and all-round great guy, Mario A. Robinson from which I learned so much.

Between you and me, I secretly hoped the course would immediately turn me into a master portrait painter, that there’d be an orchestra playing in the background as I twirled around in front of you with my masterpiece in one hand, paintbrush in the other.  Patently, it’s very much a learning process and I concluded that painting layer upon layer of glazes isn’t quite ‘me’, preferring spontaneity and risk-taking for a light, fresh, painterly finish….Oh all right then, it was bloody difficult and I simply don’t have the patience so I gave up!

I did learn heaps of valuable techniques, not least how to paint with a brush in each hand – and my confidence has definitely grown, but clearly, dilligent practise is required.

It was interesting to learn that in all his work, whether portraiture, still life or landscape, Mario uses the Grisaille method of painting – a monochromatic under-painting, which is a useful and accurate process that establishes a map of the tonal values prior to adding colour and helps create the illusion of depth and form.

After deciding not to complete the painting, I had some fun with it using charcoal and pastels, then decided to put it up here anyway, maybe even start a trend for showing failed works?

Ruth©flop There are no watermarks on this, what you may be able to see are pencil lines which would have eventually been covered if I’d taken the layers to the end and finished the painting properly.

Rut©cutNot too daunted for once, I’ll have another go at the portrait, using the lessons I’ve learned, but with my take on them – watch this space.

Look out for a crazy grinning woman prancing madly around an easel waving her paint brushes with quite a lot of attitude – that loon would be me.

Ah the hell with it….Cue orchestra!

I’ve forgotten how to art

I’ve left it so long that I’ve forgotten how to paint; my neglected paintbrushes stare accusingly at me and I fear my paints will putrefy.

To remedy this I searched for a simple painting exercise and Google did not disappoint.  I chose a negative painting technique to try and capture something of the beautiful autumnal leaves before they disappear.

It was a surprise to find how much I enjoyed this technique, pushing the paint around without caring about the end result…it’s purely an exercise  It is one that I’ll use in future.

A bonus was that it also gave my brain an unexpected (much needed) workout.

My talented friend Carol King did some much softer, prettier versions, which I wish I’d found before I started mine.

Negative©Painting

Leaves©2014

  • Select three transparent colours and paint a light background wash using one or all.
  • It is important to allow each layer to dry completely.
  • When dry, draw some outline shapes of leaves (or whatever).  Then, in the negative spaces only, paint another wash, preferably in a darker tone.
  • Allow to dry completely.  The idea is to suggest shapes by painting around them.
  • Into these darker negative spaces, draw in additional shapes and continue with another wash into the negative spaces.
  • Continue building up these layers until you ae satisfied with the picture.
  • Try not to overwork it by losing some edges, softening with a water spray and facing towards the edges of the paper.
  • For better definition I refined the shapes with pastels and ink.

You are very welcome.

Last Squeak of 2013

And so as Christmas creaks into view, with the nation reaching wearily for its winter woolies once again, lo – behold my latest offering before I totally disappear up my own festive fundament.

Portrait©FinalPersonally, I prefer a looser, more spontaneous and drippy effect to this overworked watercolour portrait, but I learned so much; primarily how to conquer my fear of a blank sheet of paper:

  • my pigments are not as translucent as those of the tutor
  • squinting to properly see tone, light, shadow and reflected light
  • identifying warm and cool colours
  • preparation – pre-mix enough paints
  • glazing – how graduated washes create many layers – first time using a mop brush
  • establishing soft and hard edges
  • lifting off damp as well as dried pigment
  • ability to look at watercolour paintings by other artists and decipher which technical aspects were probably used

I enjoyed this online course so much.

Herewith the various stages showing the process…

Portrait©MontagePortrait©Likeness…just don’t ask me to share the technical details – it took me a long time to complete and I am busy preparing for the impending fa-la-laaa fiasco.

Once they have had time to complete the course themselves and IF they decide to publish, I will be adding links here to posts by my good painting buddies, Leslie White and Carol King.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.  Rum pum pum pum!

I’m not a slacker…I’m just surrounded by over-achievers!

I won’t lie.  Sometimes not very much art happens.  (What do you mean, you noticed?)

Yes, it’s been a while but here I am again – and thanks to this great online watercolour portrait tutorial I’m getting a kick out of painting again.

This image is merely an exercise in tonal values which I found compelling.  Agreed, it is undoubtedly overworked for what is supposed to be a simple study.

tonal©study

I find the tutor, Matt Rota, to be exceptional and easy to understand.  I haven’t even started the final portrait yet and I already feel I’ve learned more in a couple of hours watching his tutorials than ever before.

I’d forgotten what it’s like to be this motivated and giddy about painting…I feel like I could throw off sparks from my fingertips.  A new phase in my creativity is opening up and finally giving it some direction.  Seriously, I don’t know if I can take much more excitement!

Despite your suspicions, I’m not getting paid to drool enthusiastically about this course.