Experiments in Abstract Mark Making

You rarely get what you expect in life and despite it being almost Christmas you won’t see a stunningly beautiful festive painting as done by Lesley White nor this marvelous Thanksgiving watercolour by Carol King.  But I do promise not to whine this time.

Anyone who kindly reads my witterings know that the process of setting up my online shop has wilted the neurons in my feeble brain.  (Almost whined there.)  The remedy?  A first venture into abstract doodling mark making, some of which is influenced by images seen on the internet.

Abstract©WonkySquares

Abstract art isn’t supposed to look like anything, which is immediately freeing.  It can be whatever you make of it – or whatever you don’t make of it.

With ink and watercolour paints, I soon became totally immersed in making marks and shapes for their own sake, which was most gratifying.  Time zipped by.

Abstract©Waves

Making repetitive gestures was both relaxing and absorbing; sometimes it felt almost unconscious as I tried not to exert too much control.

AbstractLines©Horizontal+Spots

And yes, these images will be put to use in my ** Zazzle Store.

I’m considering running another site purely for commercial posts.  Maybe next year.

Until then, a huge thank you to all of you who have supported me by stopping to look or comment and I sincerely do wish you all a very merry festive holiday.

** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017.

Hello Zazzle, Goodbye Life!

Anyone who wants to make money by selling their art online, let me warn you that it is a deeply formidable task.

When I naively thought it would fun to open an online business little did I realise what I was letting myself in for. Every day sees me investing long hours on activities which do not include painting pretty pictures.  I’ve had to…..

  • Decipher what and how to adhere to the site requirements on setting up the store front.
  • Learn every damned thing alone as Zazzle don’t really offer much advice.
  • Interpret and complete complicated forms to keep the taxman happy.
  • Know what size images are required for each individual product.
  • Be proficient at using imaging software – I’m self-taught on Adobe Fireworks.
  • Think up original ideas.
  • Create new images, not just with paint and inks, but digitally as well.
  • Become a champion at tagging.
  • Delve deeply into my box of descriptive words.
  • Open promotional media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Zazzle©Desk.fw

But still…all I hear is crickets.

It’s going to be a long time before I see any reward for my efforts and I’m realising that it will be necessary to open new stores with other online platforms in order to appeal to a variety of audiences.

The thing I’ve found the most difficult is to not be timid about pushing my Zazzle store on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not enough to simply upload a few items and sit back waiting for them to sell.  Constant promotion of each item is vital and I’m convinced that I’ve probably irritated my friends and lost a good few followers in the process.

On the plus side, Zazzle do print my designs on good quality merchandise and I am enjoying the process; the novelty hasn’t worn off…yet.

I just saw an article proclaiming that those who succeed with these online stores have been doing it fo approximately fifteen years, (FIFTEEN!!) producing more than one item per day – I’ll probably be dead in fifteen years.

Well, much as I’d like to, I obviously can’t sit here chatting – got to get back to consistently and persistently producing for my Zazzle shop.

Zazzle Dazzle Greetings Cards – Making Art Pay

I don’t have any controversial unmade beds nor hideous dead creatures suspended in formaldehyde to flog – and I don’t want my art just sitting around taking up shelf space – so as passion and creativity won’t generate an income, I’m commercialising; selling (very cheesy) greetings cards and other merchandise on the internet. This allows me to paint and draw what and when I want without pressure.

June-Malones_zazzle©lcards

Initial enthusiastic research rapidly dwindled into bewilderment and I had to enter a darkened room for a little lie down.

I’m currently limited to creating for greetings cards and various items such as t-shirts as my technical ignorance regarding converting images to acceptable vector file formats excludes me from contributing to Stock sites for now.

Being under no illusion, I admit my cards aren’t particularly original and realise that just because I’ve decided to put them out there doesn’t mean people will actually buy them; I’m a small voice in a very crowded room.  So definitely not a “get rich quick” scheme.  Nevertheless, even a few pennies here and there, must be better than a deft boot to the derrière.

Here is a link to the first site – my ** Zazzle store front… which will be regularly replenished.

One benefit of shopping here is that nobody will have to endure “All I want for Christmas” played on a perpetual loop just because it’s November.

Perseverance!  I’ll let you know how I get on.

** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017.

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.

Paradigm Shifter

Are you a follower of rules?

I recently underwent an epiphany whilst devouring a rare treat of a book, focusing on the raw drawings and watercolours of Egon Schiele, the Austrian Expressionist.  It was edifying to note that this influential figurative artist characteristically left the backgrounds of many paintings unadorned or simply washed parts in a thin, flat, monochrome.  A master of fine line, he conveying much with a minimum of detail.  He did not bow to societal dictates.

An all-but audible ‘thunk’ occurred as my soggy neural structures were permeated: the copious purist ‘rules’ underpinning traditional techniques are not to be interpreted as rigid instruction – they are merely principles to guide.  Fine, mock all you like!

It proved impossible to get this A2 image scanned so my abysmal photograph will have to do – if you click the image a few times it looks better larger.  There’s some artistic licence with the guitar which was a struggle to accurately depict and the body proportions look wrong – which is strange since I conscientiously measured scale and ratios for the first time ever.

This study was, however, brazenly created in the knowledge that nobody will punish me for leaving the subject floating untethered on the paper.  I’m free to vociferously outline in ink or crayon.  Do I dare highlight with white paint?  Do I dare disturb the universe?

Suddenly, I feel vaguely unloosened.

Caution: Contents may offend

Looking forward to Christmas shopping?  Of course not.

It is a british requisite to moan about Christmas coming too early and I’m usually first to grumble about the crass hype during the ever-lengthening run-up to Christmas.

Apologies then, to those who haven’t even managed to de-rust their barbecue yet – there’s a glimmer of tinsel to be found here!

For once I’ve resolved to positively embrace Christmas absurdly early by launching myself into the Tiger Print competition to create surface pattern designs for wrapping paper, cards etc – 2011!

Anyway, here it is for what it’s worth….and my entry has actually been uploaded to the site.

I approached it purely as a learning exercise and after WEEKS (!) of careful work I’ve realised that my (Fireworks) self-taught approach isn’t nearly enough and I urgently need some formal Photoshop training

So I don’t care how early those bells start jing-a-ling-ing or partridges are shoved into pear trees, just as long as someone stomps on every single recording of that repellent, ear-bashing, omnipresent Christmas song by those miscreants known as Slade.

la-la-la-not-listening…

Shelf Portrait

Herewith only a small portion of my current reading matter.Some are being avidly studied – others, I’m merely dipping into.  They all offer me the opportunity to further develop the multiple intricacies of illustration skills and feed my insatiable curiosity about the subject.

Soon I hope to demonstrate here how they have inspired and educated me.  My motto is to never stop learning and trying to improve.

Watch this space….*cue “Wonder Woman theme tune”* ♬ ♫ ♪ ♩