I make no apologies for painting yet another watercolour of the same image of my step-daughter, Ruth. Inexplicably, this particular image fascinates me and I may still do one final, very loose version. For art to work, it’s important to do what satisfies you and to keep doing it – not what other people expect or what may sell – you have to do your own thing because that is your unique voice.
Watercolour is often thought of as a light, delicate medium. Used correctly, however, it has wonderful, intense depth. In this painting I took my cue from an exercise I did in negative painting. I built up numerous layers, using the most transparent colours from a fairly limited pallet:
- Quinacridone Gold
- Burnt Sienna
- Alizarin Crimson
- Phthalo Blue
- Ultramarine Blue
Despite watercolour being a fast-drying medium, waiting for each thin layer to dry wasn’t easy. Still, it provided the opportunity to stand back from my work and view it from a distance in order to evaluate it. Turning a painting upside down, viewing it in the mirror or via a photograph are other ways to help seeing it through ‘fresh eyes’.
Fifty percent of my art is detailed thinking – sometimes days of repeatedly going over the process in my head before getting the paints out. That being said, once the painting begins, I don’t really know what I’m doing and have to put my trust in the paint…but that’s creating!.
For once I’ve uploaded a large image, but you’ll need to click on it about three times to get the largest version.
So six months of chugging away for my Zazzle store has felt mind-numbingly tedious. Not that the actual designing is boring, more the (necessary) cross-media broadcasting that accompanies each and every single item.
Anyway, the possibility of emigrating to sunny Portugal now totally preoccupies me. I’ve attended overseas property exhibitions, examined online, plots of land for sale, researched property purchasing regulations and everything about private swimming pools – it’s addictive and so much fun! If this does happen, it won’t be until 2018 after my son complete his university studies.
I’m itching to paint and draw again. At the risk of being boring, I’m considering revisiting an image of my youngest step-daughter, the composition of which, inexplicably, still stimulates my creativity. Already drawn in pencil and ink, painted with watercolour – twice. This time I plan using a mixture of media and may give pastels a go.
Here to prove that I haven’t totally given up, is the ink version, but this time with some minor digital modifications.
“I sit before flowers, hoping they will train me in the art of opening up,”
So says modern poet Shane Koyczan.
For five days I’ve been sitting in front of “a host, of golden daffodils” willing them to train me in the art of capturing their glory in watercolours.
“I gazed-and gazed” but found that yellow on yellow is really difficult! Keep it loose and there’s not enough definition – add detail and it looks overworked. Whilst the paint was still wet I went back in with a watercolour crayon which seeemed to work fairly well. Oh and on the vase I used a white wax crayon to (kind of) define the water line.
Here’s the best one out of VERY many attempts.
Although after reading the very talented artist Kate Osborne’s excellent post on “Cropping” I tried this….
…but decided that this one is probably best? Actually, surprisingly, cropping is also more difficult than I assumed it would be.
Frustration aside, I enjoyed using my paints again – a necessary change from designing for my ** Zazzle store.
Ever the optimist, I plan doing some cutsie watercolours of themes suitable for children, which eill be incorporated into designs for greeting cards and various other items…you guessed…for my ** Zazzle store!
“And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
With apologies to William Wordsworth.
** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017
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 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.
Making repetitive gestures was both relaxing and absorbing; sometimes it felt almost unconscious as I tried not to exert too much control.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve always wanted to paint flowers but held back because for some nebulous reason I feared they would be too difficult. Sometimes you just have to go for it. Watercolour is utterly perect for painting flowers!
These Crocosmias (I had to look them up) were painted on dry paper using luscious, raw, thick watercolour paint, straight out of the tube. Before the paint dried, I went back in with a clean, damp brush to tease out the colour. A brush handle dipped in the paint became a handy mark maker.
One of my biggest challenges is knowing when to stop; I’ve ruined so many paintings at the last minute – although on this occasion I managed to step back in time….just.
Where has the sun gone?
This Hydrangea sketch is my attempt to defy indications that the British summer has already bowed out. It’s still July and I’m not ready to put my sandals and sunglasses away just yet.
Based loosely on the principles of negative painting, I worked around the petals and leaves to define their shapes and bring them forward.
Transparent colours were used as several layers of increasingly deeper tone are required to develop the shapes.
For quick reference I use a Winsor & Newton chart of hand-painted professional waercolours which has proved invaluable to me. It not only clearly demonstrates what each colour looks like from intense to watery pale, but it also lists whether they are transparent, semi-transparent or opaque. It also saves me the bother of making my own chart.
It is important to allow the paint to dry properly between each glaze…something I’m particularly bad at.
While you’re here I may as well rid my heaving bosom of something that still has me simultaneously wincing and fuming.
A recent television program documented preparations for an exhibition at the Leopold Museum in Vienna where some witless noodle made the sorry decision to show self-absorbed Tracey Emin’s gratuitous tosh alongside my favourite artist, Egon Scheile (cue audible ey-roll). Really? You just couldn’t make it up. It was embarrassing.
Emin, as inebriated by her own suppurating ego as by the liquor she guzzles, is so trapped by her urge to shock that the outrage she strives for has become a cliché. Her teeth-suckingly offensive ‘work’ has no correlation to art and I freely throw prejudicial cups of tea in the direction of those who confuse art with self-publication.
It’s hard to believe that people pay to stare at this excruciatingly crude fakery and that those who part with vast sums of money to own this pointless, ugly stuff are educated people. The joke is on them. It is freak art masquerading as originality. Self-indulgent clap-trap and most of us have her sussed.
You can probably tell that I consider Emin and her ilk to have all the appeal of a flatulent dog in a lift.
I don’t have her millions nor her obtuse, fawning devotees, but I am confident that whatever I paint will always have more merit than anything Tracely Emin can do.
My husband is right – I do morph into curmudgeonly Victor Meldrew on this subject.
As an antidote to all that negativity – inspired by flower paintings by artist friends who make it look much easier than it is – herewith some sketches where I trusted the paint and allowed the water to do the work. Marks were also made using the brush handle.