Back Street: conte pastel 12x9 inches approx.
I am scaling back these news updates now to 3 or maybe 4 weeks; because there are more important things to deal with. Whether we will get Christmas here in the UK or not, I don't know but I will be setting a final date for posting out any paintings. It will most likely be the end of the first week of December and I will put that on the appropriate gallery pages. The issue I have is with the other galleries where I have work placed because they don't seem to operate to any deadline or cut-off. It's probably safest to say that if you would like a painting to arrive BEFORE Christmas then don't delay in placing your order because I will not guarantee a timely arrival. And that's within the United Kingdom.
Today's picture isn't a painting, as such. It is a drawing in conte and harder pastel, on tinted Ingres paper. I have a tendency to enjoy limited colour schemes much more than full-blown technicolour and have returned to using conte sticks and pencils for some subjects. I have actually painted this street scene before, in oils. In the conte picture, colours are reduced to reddish-browns, white, black and the colour of the tinted paper. There is also a little yellow-ochre as well, but not much. I find it much easier to draw buildings than paint them. A few other little experiments (not shown here) have combined watercolour wash with conte pastel lines, on smooth paper. These works are quite small, not more than 12x9 inches.
Valley Walk: gouache 7x5 inches approx.
Not an especially productive period since the last post, but more a time of thinking and testing ideas. The rapid flow of small oils has currently stopped, but I am not too concerned about this. The inner mood right now is still towards the lighter-weight media such as watercolour; and I've recently acquired a small clutch of new gouache tubes. I've used them before, in the distant past and would like to find some new subjects for them. Today's image has actually been painted before, in oils; but I never bothered to display it. I took the scene from a valley walk in Gloucestershire, visited a couple of years ago. A narrow public path going through woodland and past old cottages, one of those areas that has a drawing at almost every turn. I reworked the scene using the oil-painting as a guide; placing gouache and some watercolour on a piece of mountboard. The end result is a flatter, more illustrative style. I had tried it in pastel as well, but it didn't work so well for me.
Sometimes a medium simply "feels" too heavy or awkward for the subject and it is nice to have other paints or drawing tools to choose from. With this in mind, I suspect that future work may be a lot more mixed. It is helping to generate a few more projects, and a series or two where the subject-matter has a common theme. I am building the ideas, I now need to get on with them. I am also going to resist the temptation to turn everything into a "painting"....I know people always want paintings rather than drawings, but often the drawn work of many artists is more interesting than the carefully-controlled final work in whatever medium they've selected. Not everything will go online for sale, things may be too sketchy and end up in my Archive pages....there is a new section now for Watercolour and Drawings.
Finally....after several years' membership I have pulled the plug on Pinterest. It has become politicised, judging by the adverts that they are now permitting to be placed. I'm not prepared to be seen on the same platform. I have at present no alternative in mind as a replacement. Oh yes and the image from 11th October's post apparently didn't show up, so I've fixed that and it should be visible now.
Peppers: watercolour 14x10 inches approx.
The abstracty oil pieces have slowed down a bit. My work-room begins to get chilled at this time of year and there is no heating in it, so it is not such a comfortable place. I have another 6-inch square ongoing, and also a 12-inch canvasboard, plus a 16-inch canvas which is being painted over (repurposed might be appropriate but it is being obliterated to create a background for an abstract). Despite the chilly room I shall pick and choose my worktime to continue with these.
Meanwhile, I had decided that after nearly fifty years of working primarily with oils and pastels, it was time I tackled the final frontier of watercolour. I maintain that it is the most technically challenging of the media. Today's picture was done directly from the subject, on a piece of Langton Prestige cold-pressed paper; I quite like the tooth on this product because it makes a nice colour-wash. I got the yellows ok, then battled a bit for the right kind of green, for the second pepper. The shadow had not been intended as a dominant feature but in the end it formed a strong link between the two vegetables. The original plan had been for a smaller painting, but once the two peppers had been positioned I decided to just go with it, at 14x10 inches (35x25cm roughly). The temptation to add a third pepper in the left-side space was considerable, but I fought it off and just did a dark wash. Trying to lift bright highlights on the peppers proved a difficult task, even with a wad of cotton wool...I need more practise with that. When boredom began to set in a little, I stopped; knowing that to plough on always ruins watercolours.
All the current production line of small abstracts is now at https://christinederrick.com/abstracts/index.html.
MARINE : oils and cold wax on paper 6x6 inches approx.
Not so much painting time this past week, but nonetheless a number of new techniques discovered. I was going to put up another watercolour today but am currently "dried up" for subject-matter and time available for this medium, so maybe next time. Today's image is one which came together in about an hour, using several blues contrasted with ochre. A cool sea-breeze feeling started to emanate from this one, so I kept going with the colour-scheme and "Marine" eventually emerged. Almost all these pieces so far have been six inch (15cm) squares. I have found them ideal for fairly rapidly-made works; however at some point I would like to step up a bit in size, not too much though because I have never really coped that well with "large".
City Night : acrylic on hotpressed paper 6x6 inches approx.
The second picture today is an experiment on hot-pressed watercolour paper, using the more transparent colours in acrylics. I still find this medium interesting but haven't really settled on how best to use it. Here I started with nickel azo yellow, a rather brash brassy colour, and worked on with yellow ochre, followed by a couple of blues. The tendency towards a somewhat garish green might be modified later with opaque colour overlay. Cadmium orange came in towards the end, before the final paint-around with a black made from thalo green and alizarin crimson. No white paint was used. I have done two more like this. Most of these small pieces are appearing in my Archives section.....they aren't really archived work in terms of being "old" or sold, it is simply a useful store for my exploratory stuff.
Where is this new painting leading? I don't yet know; I am just learning, and maybe it will incorporate itself into my more traditional style, in some way, at some time. A vague statement for the vague times we live in.
Stand Alone; watercolour 10x8" approx.
Watercolour presents many new challenges. Besides the technical aspects, I am still searching for my optimum subjects in this medium. Still life is often a good choice, since most of it can be controlled by the artist. This time, a single apple, in a strong light and with shadow. Having spent some weeks now working on abstract and "non-real" images, I wanted to avoid too much detail and being drawn in to getting everything just so and correctly shaped. Deep colouring in watercolour is tricky, there is a tendency to either over-water the paint, or put on too many layers which result in mud. I used translucent aureolin yellow, permanent rose, ultramarine blue, with a small amount of slightly more opaque cerulean blue (for greens on the apple). Rather than mix the colours too much, I laid on glazes; cerulean over aureolin, rose over aureolin, ultra blue over the shadowed reds. This is a limited colour scheme.
I don't envisage much landscape being done in this medium, at the moment, although some simple schemes may come forward. The small abstracts are still turning out well enough in oils, I seem to find one or two new colour combinations every week or so. The acrylic ones are taking some surprising directions, mainly due to my "what if" approach, with regards to painting-surfaces. I don't use canvas. I am testing gessoed boards, be they mdf or mountboard. I am also trying smooth white card and paper. The paint application varies between brush and edge of painting-knife. The combinations are something I really need to write down; I can see a growing need for that second website.
Talking Pears; watercolour 8x8" approx.
The abstract oil pieces are going along nicely. I have placed them in a subdirectory called "abstracts", as well as in the Archivepics section. I have decided that if they continue to grow in number (which seems likely) then they will have to have their own website.
Watercolour is something I rarely do. It is so often used in a detailed style and I really would like to get away from that. "Talking Pears" has been doing quite well for views on Pinterest. It was painted on the reverse side of a small sheet of Langton Prestige NOT 140lb. Why the reverse side? Simply because I had already painted something else on the "correct" side! I chose a used sheet because I have been long out of practise with watercolour. These pears were done directly from in front of me; a quick few outlines and straight into the paint. Only three colours were used; ultramarine blue, permanent rose and aureolin yellow.
I tend to paint by dampening the subject and adding colour to the wet patch, leaving the pigment to flow and find its own way. Not too much brushing. The reverse side of this paper is a little absorbent, the brush "drags" a bit but colour is laid down fairly easily. Yellow first; then permanent rose in the darker areas. The blue goes on last. However, I may work back and forth between the three. The colours have not been mixed but laid over each other in glazes. The wrong side of the paper tends to dull the colour back, but in this case it looked ok at the end.
There is another pear picture completed now and a third is being considered. I like the limited palette approach. It may lead on to some more abstracted styles.
Coastpath near Kilve, Somerset: pastel 13x9 inches approx.
I am reaching a major change point in my painting. My pastel work is online and available, but I haven't done much pastelling lately. I think it has reached a plateau, particularly with the floral pieces...in other words, I cannot as yet see how to develop the style to a higher level. It is much the same with the landscape pastels. Today's piece was completed a couple of months ago; I wanted the picture to focus on waving grasses and the softer coastal lighting. Where does it go from here?
The recent shift to oilbars and cold wax has helped to loosen things up a bit; two landscapes "Rhyne Water" and "Slimbridge Water" are both examples of this; I have yet to make a third one, however, but I have thoughts. What has surprised me is the sudden increase in viewers for the small abstracts. I have these placed on my Pinterest boards and also in the ArchivePics section of this website. They are a total departure from my usual work. I am set up now for creating many more and am wondering how to present them...but separately...from my traditional images. Another website is feasible, but I don't want to carry the costs right now, under the current circumstances. I may well consider a fresh sub-directory of the domain.
Viewers can get a bit upset when a painter changes their style. I can appreciate why. The problem for the painter is that they can get into a rut, creating their work the same way, year after year. They like to play and experiment, which is why I've made it clear that I also like to do this too. I'll still be doing traditional subjects and they will be added to the landscape or flowers sectors as before; but at the same time I would like to push the free-flowing experimental things more.
Without the pressures of annual exhibitions to aim for...bad though that is in many ways...it has opened a new door that I may not have considered going through, in different times. I am hoping that the lack of pressure will spill over to my usual images and result in less concern about including every detail. We shall see.
Sea Clouds; oils on Arches paper 15x11 inches approx.
Oils on Arches oilpaper. A real rushed photo I'm afraid, just so busy right now with garden harvests suddenly turning in a little earlier than expected. Today's picture is quite a simple one; a cloudscape above the sea. Where I live, the sea isn't blue, it contains a lot of silt and therefore runs between a grey brown colour and shades of rusty orange. The landscape is the hill running out on the far side of the bay; in the far distance, a thin line of land representing the Welsh coast. Virtually no foreground here; taking the attention straight to the clouds. Painted initially with thin oil-washes, then built up a little with oils plus a little cold wax and the use of oilbars. The orange-brown sea has a few long strokes of gold metallic oilbar across it, to add a little extra sheen. Not a huge amount of textured paint on this one, looks soft and misty.
The small square abstracts continue to flow; one, sometimes two per week. I have also tried one or two with acrylic, to see how they work out. It is not a particularly favourite medium of mine, but I have a lot of it at the moment, to use up. I want to see how I can begin simplifying my landscapes rather more, to bring in an abstract quality; a halfway house so to speak. I am working quite alone these days; no groups, no forthcoming exhibitions. It means there are no pressures; I can paint what I want (although I generally do anyway) and experiment more than usual. Some new oilbars arrived recently; I treat these now as my new "sticky" pastels and use them just like the normal dry pastel. It has given new ideas.
Since the last post, the weather has been incredibly hot and stuffy. I stopped painting completely for several days, my workroom being almost 100 Fahrenheit and the oilbars showing dangerous signs of bending in half. So...no picture this week, but I did manage to complete the cloudscape as mentioned in the previous post. Hopefully next time I'll have had it photographed and it will be up here. Meanwhile...my foray into small abstracts has proved quite revealing, with the latest few pulling a decent number of views via Pinterest. Although I have done another pastel abstract square, I have also pushed on with the oils in the same format and they have all worked out in some interesting ways. New squares have been added to the Archive at this link.
It is often hard to explain to people WHY one decides to explore an entirely new realm of painting. I have myself puzzled over the same decisions made by other artists...now I think I understand more about it...a little. I often find representational pictures tiring to do, especially if working direct from the subject; I can see too much detail and have to fight, to avoid adding it all in. On the prints page, the two floral studies represent almost twenty hours pastel-working time. I was quite drained after completing the Lilies and Golden Rod picture. The latest little abstract squares, on the other hand, require no reference material and demand a different way of planning. It gives a lot more freedom. It might be a couple of weeks till the next post.
Sunset on The Levels: pastel 12x9 inches approx.
In progress at present is a beach-scape oil painting. Today's pastel picture isn't unfortunately the best of photographs, the sun shone too brightly on it just as I snapped the picture...it will need to be re-done before going on the website. However, it will do for the news update. I haven't been creating so many pastels of late; this time of year I have itchy eyes due to pollen and the extra dust from pastels can irritate them further. Up till now I've tended to manage ok, but----having produced so many pictures since March this year, I have decided to cut myself some slack and ease off. Instead, I've been exploring the possibilities of smaller pastels in a six or eight-inch square format. This helps to reduce the amount of dust. Similarly, with oils and oilbars on a square format. The small size allows for fairly rapid working and a conclusion within a few days. With the financial tsunami due to hit the world very soon, small will be beautiful; I hope I have enough materials to get me through the storm and out the other side in due time. More extravagant larger works are not an option.
Sunset on the Levels was derived from several photos, recording the gradual disappearance of daylight between two moorland willow-trees. It was worked on PastelMat card with very little under-drawing; just some lines for the horizon and river, and marking out the general forms of the tree trunks. Colours were kept muted, except for the brightly lit horizon (obviously) where Unison bright yellow and orange pastels could be employed. The trees, although marked in with a deep grey-black, were modified with light overlay of purple. Two or three muted greens were selected for the twilight fields in between. The reeds were created with the edge of a harder pastel, used at full length against the paper and literally pushed from bottom to top in a quick movement, following the bend of the reed; turning the pastel more horizontally to complete the"flags".
The new Archive section on the website is picking up viewers. As explained earlier, this is more of a "play" area for me, where I can put up and test out new image ideas and techniques. The abstract gallery now has thirteen images, one of which has recently departed for a new owner. I'm not intending to mix these with my more traditional output, however. One or two will probably find their way to my gallery at Original Art Under100.com.
Abstracts, each 6x6 inches; oils and cold wax. Ochre Abstract; City Winter; Censored.
I've now had just over two weeks right away from landscape work and yesterday returned to the pastel box for a bit of doodling. Nothing forthcoming from that, so moved on to prepare some gessoed paper, ready for oil painting. While producing some small abstracts, I realised that certain themes kept appearing in the designs. Squares or rectangles; cross shapes; horizons. Many painters work all the time in this free-flowing manner, laying down paint to see what comes up from the sub-conscious. I don't think I could do it all the time, but it does allow the brain to relax out from realistic studies. Three of these small abstracts are included here and are also in the abstract section at the Archive. They don't pretend to be anything special and have been made entirely as the result of on-surface process; i.e in simple terms, made up as you go along. Each patch of paint laid on encourages the painter to think carefully about where to put the next. Sometimes it goes well; sometimes it doesn't. They are all in oils with cold wax; two on Arches oil paper and one (Ochre Cross) on canvasboard. I'll be heading back in a day or so to doing more realistic scenery.
Coast Swell: oils on Arches paper 15x11 inches
Taken a brief break from the oil painting, other work to do; but should be back at it soon. Today's image isn't on the website as yet, I've just been too busy to get it prepared and up. I have some ideas for a sequence of further landscapes, but haven't done much more than a few line drawings for that, as yet. A little collection of six-inch abstracts is beginning to build, these are in oils and also pastels; I do them as a relaxation, no need to focus on a particular likeness or set of details. This is especially helpful right now, since my ability to concentrate is not good.
Clevedon Shores: oils on Arches paper 15x11 inches
Landscapes gallery has been updated with the three new oils/oilbar paintings; Rhyne Water, Slimbridge Water and Coastpath by Croyde. I've decided that they are all now sufficiently surface-dry to handle safely, so they're in the gallery. Frames will be available for two of them, if desired. Also uploaded is the painting as shown above. In progress is another oils-and-oilbar painting and I have also just completed a small pastel landscape. Floral work has taken a back seat at the moment; in all fairness most of my webstats show that the landscape gallery is visited more frequently than the floral one, but it will not be ignored...it's just that the outward roll of work right now is very much on the land and seascape theme and one has to "go with it". Experimental playtime has yielded two acrylic pieces using a monotype process; I will place those in the new Archive Gallery in due course. In the same gallery a small collection of ACEO images has been added, in a new album, although a number of the images are from a few years ago...I've put them in just for interest.
There are also a few small six-inch square "play pieces" ongoing, using oils and wax. I am thinking of what to do next, but at present have "slowed down" due to having had a heavy fall while out walking. Bit stiff and sore, but it will mend.I have taken up a listing in the Bath Exhibition being run by ArtGallerySW.co.uk, if you visit their website and look for the Bath Exhibition links, you will find me listed. I have paintings on their normal gallery and still maintain a full gallery of pictures at OriginalArtUnder100.com
Slimbridge Water, Gloucestershire: oilbar on paper 12x12 inches
Landscapes gallery has been updated with the three new oils/oilbar paintings; Rhyne Water, Slimbridge Water and Coastpath by Croyde. I've decided that they are all now sufficiently surface-dry to handle safely, so they're in the gallery. Frames will be available for two of them, if desired. In progress is another oils-and-oilbar painting (that's two now on the go) and I have also just completed a small pastel landscape. Floral work has taken a back seat at the moment; in all fairness most of my webstats show that the landscape gallery is visited more frequently than the floral one, but it will not be ignored...it's just that the outward roll of work right now is very much on the land and seascape theme and one has to "go with it". Experimental playtime has yielded two acrylic pieces using a monotype process; I will place those in the new Archive Gallery in due course. In the same gallery a small collection of ACEO images has been added, in a new album.
I have added a new gallery to the website, which is actually more of a sub-domain; you can access it at https://christinederrick.com/archivepics.html. It contains examples of my experimental methods and playtime-work, many of which were included on the old Wordpress blog but were removed when I abandoned the Wordpress platform. There are images on gessoed paper, some abstracts, some textured acrylics, and so on. Each image has a brief description added below it, to describe what was done to make the picture. I'll add to it on occasions; and it'll be a gallery of mixed ideas. They won't necessarily be for sale though; if I do decide to offer any of them, they'll be moved to the main galleries.
Coastpath by Croyde, Devon: oilbar on paper 15x10 inches.
Just starting a fourth oilbar painting. Here's the third one...oh, what happened to the second one? Nothing...I photographed it yesterday but the photo didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, so I'm having to do it again today. This is a coastal-scape, worked from a photo taken along the coast from Croyde Bay, Devon. I was a bit unsure how I would tackle the seawater, but found that the prussian blue and lemon-yellow oilbars gave me sufficient green-ness that I could modify here and there to create other subtleties with tube-paint. I am finding oilbars ideal for working these broad landscapes. The fourth picture currently in progress is being done on a gessoed board, it's actually one of Jackson's Art supplies' own brands. So, a rigid surface as opposed to paper. All oilbar works take a time to dry, so they won't be made available just yet. My soft pastels have been lying idle for several weeks, however I am not too perturbed by this because I already have subjects in mind to try out. I may well try the same subjects in oilbars as well. With no pressures for exhibition entries, I am doing a lot of experimenting and just seeing what happens. If the results are unexciting then I just move on to another piece.
Other home matters have kept me away from painting for a number of days. I have however completed a second oilbar painting with a third now in progress. The first one mentioned under June 5th has been photographed...I need a better image for the website gallery but this'll do for now, because it's still not dry enough for sale anyway.
Rhyne Water, Somerset: oilbar on paper 12x12 inches
Simple landscape consisting of a large sky, broad and simple river banks and a stretch of water. Worked with ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, prussian blue and cadmium red oilbars; plus white; and the inclusion of tube oilpaint from Light Red, raw sienna and cadmium yellow light. Painted on Arches Huile paper, 12x12 inches. The mix of oil and wax takes rather longer to "set up" (dry) but this piece will be ready to frame in probably a couple of months' time. I put mine under glass, usually, with a mountboard, to keep the painted surface away from the glass. I don't use varnish on this particular paint combination.
New items "Sundown in the Bay" and "Summer Heat" in floral and landscape sections. During the past week or so I have been revisiting a rather messy medium called oilbars. They are formed from proper oil paint and a percentage of wax, to create a stick of paint. They look rather like large sticks of pastel, but behave quite differently from the dry medium. The artist literally draws directly on the paper or board with the oil/wax stick....no brushes necessary. I have been rather determined to get them to work for me, because it is a way of oil-painting without the brushes and more closely resembles how I use my standard dry pastels. The subject needs to be quite "broad" (i.e no fiddly details). I have one completed and will post up when it's surface-dry.
SATURDAY MAY 23RD 2020
Several new pieces nearing completion. "Hazy Coast Minehead" in pastel; and two oils which are near enough done but, of course, won't be ready to go online until they are dry. I haven't added anything new in the way of flower pictures recently; I have had a "surge" of landscape ideas, so have been concentrating on those instead. Things come around and go around. A still life from a couple of years back, Glass Eggcup, has now found a new home and has been added to the Sold page.
SATURDAY MAY 16th 2020
Trying to paint positively under the current UK police state is very difficult at times. I am afraid of nothing, by the way, but am just incredulous at the sheer madness that has gripped the country. Despite this, I am pleased to be finding some of my practise with new pastel techniques is paying off. I am making between one and two new works each week; which might not sound much but, as a generally slow painter, this is pretty good for me. As well as pastel, I have also launched back into oil painting, completing (near enough) a new piece on Arches oil-paper and a small landscape on gessoed board. I have re-acquainted myself with Winsor and Newton's alkyd oil paints, which allow fast lay-in of a picture and a pleasant semi-translucent finish after a couple of coats. It dries quickly too, permitting continuation of the work (with either alkyds or traditional oils) the next day. I have also spent too much money on new painting panels! (grin). I am thankful for painting....it is keeping me reasonably strong and focused. I recommend it, or indeed any handicraft, for these aggravating times.
THURSDAY MAY 7TH 2020
Plans for pastel paintings and their delivery. I have always been able to successfully deliver pastel paintings in an UNframed condition, to buyers both in the UK and overseas. My pastels are rarely large ones so this isn't too difficult. Some potential buyers may be put off by the fact that they aren't framed, so here is what I do and suggest:
An unframed pastel is first of all protected with glassine paper (rather like a tracing paper), over the coloured surface. It is then sandwiched between another sheet of strong paper and finally sandwiched again between two strong boards...either foam or mdf or hardboard. These boards are then taped tightly together, both vertically and horizontally. This prevents the pastel from sliding around during transit. The package is then wrapped again in bubblewrap (I try not to use too much), and finally boxed, ready for sending.
Buyers are encouraged to keep their pastel safely within these boards until they can get it framed. Once behind glass, job done, the pastel will remain bright and fresh and be protected from damage. Despite seeming vulnerable, pastel is actually a permanent medium; Rembrandt's works from past centuries are still in good order.
As for FRAMED works, there are a few little issues. I can and have sent small works complete with frame and glass. However, carriers are getting more and more fussy about glass and at some point I may have to stop. BUT....there is a solution. I am looking into using acrylic sheet as a TEMPORARY cover for my framed work, for posting. This will allow the buyer to get the work glazed at "their end". I would thoroughly recommend glass as opposed to acrylic sheet, for one main reason; CLARITY. Acrylic sheet does not transmit light as effectively as glass, and can make pastel colours a little dull.
So, I hope this will help potential buyers when looking at pastels. They CAN be delivered!
SUNDAY MAY 3rd 2020
A few days ago I ditched the Wordpress blog installation because it was occupying too much of my time. Having run the blog for a few years, I felt it wasn't offering any particular advantage...I'd be better off just painting....so that's what I've done. So now, I'm just going to keep a small Updates page, like this, to detail any new pictures or changes.
I am already a gallery member with Original-Art-Under100.com; and am now also a member with ArtGallerySW.co.uk. I decided I now had enough paintings to cope with two outlets, so during this crazy virus lockdown period I have gotten on with it; preparing new work, uploading, updating and also bringing in a few floral digital prints....see the prints and products page. I can't hold large stock numbers, so this is just a start....see how it goes.
All the traditional annual art shows have been cancelled....it's an utterly miserable time...and especially tricky when one is trying to do landscapes....just can't get out and about anywhere, so the reliance on photographs is essential. That's it for now. This will be the Updates page and I'll place a link to it on the other main pages as soon as I can.
email chris [at]christinederrick.com