Break from Routine: oils on canvasboard 6x6 inches approx. £65 plus £10 postage within the UK.
You can enquire and reserve this work by visiting my Contact pagefor details.
Here is the second 6x6 inch painting, dry enough now to handle. Again, my aim was to complete the work in a short time-span and I did manage to achieve that; probably about two hours on the first work-session and another half hour on the second, which consisted primarily of a final look-over and minor alterations. Even this is quite long, however the main challenge here was the elliptical shape of the mug top; and it took me a while to get it placed and shaped to my own satisfaction. If I had gotten it right first or second time of asking, my work-time would have been faster. Nonetheless....it did what I wanted and I am now feeling more confident again about speeding up my processes.
As is often the way, I am now hindered by a recent wrist injury...strained the tendons during gardening...so it's good that I've got a few completed paintings to keep on hand for this news update. While pondering my next small work, I am also playing around with my experimental stuff, it means I have something "on the go" all the time. These paintings are quite abstract and imaginary, yet I've realised that quite a few of them are actually based on objects and places that I've seen and experienced before. The small abstracts such as Twilight Time (posted 21st March) where buildings are featured seem to have their roots in a few industrial sites around my locality. Now, I realise such places are perhaps not always the sort of thing folk wish to hang on their walls, but painters look at shapes, effects of light and lots of other elements in order to create a painting. And it doesn't have to be a faithful representation of the actual place, but perhaps certain features are taken and used in a more imaginative manner. It is rather different from sitting down in front of a glass bowl of fruit and aiming to depict the textures therein.
Pepper and Cut Lettuce: oils on canvasboard 6x6 inches approx. £65 plus £10 postage within the UK.
You can enquire and reserve this work by visiting my Contact pagefor details.
I've now completed two small six-inch paintings, and am close on completing an 11x9 and an 8-inch square one. Today's piece is not quite dry enough to post out (needs another week) but with the others all still so sticky, it was the best choice for this post.
It is some time since I have tackled a still life. This red sweet pepper was posing in the fridge and I was able to set it up again in my work-room, with the same slant and positioning of the stem. The cut lettuce wouldn't have been my first choice for a complementary green object, but it provided texture as well, so it joined the pepper to make a twosome. The painting progressed and completed itself remarkably quickly, with a fair percentage of time spent on working out how to paint the lettuce. I made use of small blobs of Liquin impasto medium for this, mixed with the greeny yellow paint.
Arranging a still life can take longer to do than the painting itself...I stick to a few objects and make the best of it. I also don't have the room to display anything much more than three or four objects and get them suitably lit. Natural daylight is really best, so when the weather improves I would like to go outdoors, using the little 6x8-inch pochade box. This allows me to handle up to an 8x8 inch board; and possibly even a 10x8 in portrait format although I haven't tried that. No easel legs to set up, just rest box on table or else hold, or place on lap.
An interim message to inform of updates to the Contact page. No, I haven't gone anywhere. It's just to clarify the process for reserving and buying a painting. I realised that the original wording was rather vague, so I have done a simple five-point procedure at the head of the page; most information that comes below it is pretty much as before.
Many artists are including full pricing in their blogs for their paintings, under each picture; since it seems that their readers are more inclined to just follow the blog rather than visit the static website. I'm an internet old-school type, having started online in the late 90's and have maintained a "static" website throughout. I've resisted the idea of converting the website to a rolling daily blog simply because I do not post every day. However; to compromise a little, I will give full pricing details of each new painting as they get put up, with a link to how to reserve and buy. Some years ago I used to have Paypal buy-now buttons on many artworks, but the complexity of configuring postage for a variety of countries gave me a head-ache, so I just stopped and now work simply by providing an invoice to prospective buyers.
I've worked down through a number of previous postings and added extra detail.
Another new post soon, when my new pieces have dried enough to handle and photograph.
Twilight Time: oil and cold wax on board 6x6 inches approx. £55 plus £10 postage within the UK.
You can enquire and reserve this work by visiting my Contact pagefor details.
Today's painting is another semi-abstract styled on an urban environment. The paint is applied thinly to start with, then after a little drying time a painting knife is used to add more, mixed with some cold wax and a blob of impasto medium. The composition is worked out intuitively, but based on past results and experimental applications.
A further sale of a small abstract has confirmed my inner convictions that painting smaller and less tentatively is the way I need to go, at this point in time. There is an assumption that artists aren't really artists unless they can paint yacht-sail size canvases. I was once asked to paint some flowers on a huge panel that would have been around four feet, or 1.2 metres across. I turned it down, because I knew that this wasn't my "thing". My painting doesn't "hang together" at large sizes, and certainly not florals, where the resulting image would be many times larger than the original subjects. In the past, I have gotten away with something like a coastal-scape on a 2 foot (60cm) panel, because such scenes are filled with light, pattern and not a great deal of actual subject.
Even with a small panel, I have often spent several hours working it out, when I should have really been finishing it within two. My "failing" is that I am often too tidy; fiddling around with things that don't matter and with things that most buyers probably wouldn't even notice. In all these instances I am talking about using oils, by the way. There is a movement of daily painters who paint small and often. I have been most impressed by many of their creations and continue to follow several websites where they are active. I used to be on one myself, a few years back, but was unable to cope with the regularity of daily input. Nonetheless, I realised that they were onto something with this business of "small and often", because it prevents the painter from getting hung up on ONE piece of art for weeks on end. This is mind-numbing.
The good thing about small paintings is that you can have several ongoing and move from one to the other during a work-session. It doesn't, unfortunately, mean that all the paintings work out successfully. From, say, five on the go, there might be one really satisfying result; two others might look decent; one might require extra thinking and re-organising; and the fifth goes to scraping-down and a start-over. And thus, only one (or maybe two) will make it onto the website or online gallery.
Pastels have rarely been more than sixteen inches (40cm) one way. Small ones have been most successful as eight or occasionally six inch squares (20 or 15cm). I do find, though, that they require more attention, due to the chunky nature of pastel sticks. Two square works in particular have become favourites for me; both are now with their new owners in America but I have a digital print of each one for myself. They help to remind me of what IS possible when I have a good day.
View to Crook Peak, Somerset: oil on board 7x5 inches approx. £70 plus £10 postage within the UK.
You can enquire and reserve this work by visiting my Contact pagefor details.
This is a small scene on Ampersand gessoboard, a lovely white-surfaced panel that takes oil paint very well and allows areas like skies to look full of light. It was completed in a little over two hours, still rather long for a small panel but that is my usual rate. I was determined not to fiddle too much with this piece and managed to lay in the skyline, tree-blocking and foreground colour in session one; followed by tree and foreground completion in session two; and the final spurt then to add the bare trees and ensure the distinctive crook of the skyline was evident, by using a tiny brush with a miniscule paint blob.
This past week I have completed the painting above and revisited the oils and cold wax combination. There are currently five small abstract pieces set aside for drying; allowing the cold wax to "set up" before applying more. I have been thinking through how to use this medium combination for pictures that are a little more recognisable as "something", rather than just patterns and colour-blocks (although one might argue that all subjects are just shapes and colour-blocks when reduced to their most basic level). For those wondering what cold wax actually adds to an oil painting; it thickens the paint, making it spread like butter and allows impasto-style. It also adds a degree of translucency to the colour. Wax allows the artist to scrape through layers to reveal colours below, if desired. Colour-blending is enhanced and effects are possible with it that may not be so easy to achieve through other means. I also use an impasto gel medium at times, this also gives body to the paint but is a different material.
The final picture has a more "matte" look, rather the usual expected shiny surface of oils; and the work cannot be varnished. However this is not a negative; many artists don't varnish their normal oil paintings at all. Pictures with cold wax content may remain a little soft for quite a while, on the surface, but the ones I've completed so far (from last year) are quite firm.
I find smaller sheets and boards (12 inches or less) much more satisfactory in their outcome, in terms of composition. I tend to work quite close-up, rather than be an arm-swinging, wide sweeping mark-maker. Occasionally....just occasionally...I might manage a larger one.
Portmeirion Village: gouache on paper 12x12 inches approx. £110 plus £10 postage within the UK.
You can enquire and reserve this work by visiting my Contact pagefor details.
Gouache painting finished; small oil painting completed; a few more small oil abstracts in play. I am always slow to get underway after the start of the new year, this year especially so. I find the North Wales Italian-style village at Portmeirion a helpful tool for creativity when feeling low in energy. Having visited it twice I have accumulated a lot of photos; the landscaping there is rather ornate but I find it relaxing. Today's painting is in gouache on hot-pressed watercolour paper. Lots of awkward angles, fancy shapes and viewpoints, so the whole thing had to be drawn out first before applying any paint. The final image doesn't quite fill the 16 x 12 inch sheet, in fact it is rather more square at 12 x 12 in (30x30cm approx). I felt that the softer, more matt gouache colour was appropriate for the colour of the buildings.
Another small oil abstract has made its way to a new home and I'm rather pleased that what started off as a casual project has actually been fruitful. I'm setting up a few more; it has been some months since I completed the last one, so I will have to see what develops for this second round.
Pastels....no I haven't been active with them. There are a couple of landscape subjects that I've earmarked as possibilities, though; and both of them would work equally as well in oils, so...we shall see.
Street in Port Isaac, Cornwall: sepia technical pen on cream paper 11x9 inches approx.
With a hint of warmer weather as we crawl towards springtime, my unheated "messy" attic workspace is feeling a little more habitable. This is a small room where messy stuff like oils, sticky bottles and spray varnishes are stored and used. It is also where I tend to do most oil painting. In the coming weeks I'll be assessing some ideas for a few more small-scale paintings on board. Meanwhile the line-drawings continue. This week's image is on tinted Ingres paper. I am not sure whether it will ever go forward into a painting; sometimes it is enough simply to work out how to draw the houses and all the windows. It is also a rather complex scene for fitting onto a small oil-board.
Another reason for this "drawing drive" is to try and sharpen up my observation work when outdoors. I am rather disorganised when it comes to working in sketchbooks; I try to draw too much and too large, instead of being more selective. I also spend too much time fiddling with unnecessary details and have ruined many a reasonably good sketch. Shouldn't be telling you this! But it happens, and is simply a part of personal development. It is rare for me to fully complete a painting on-site, especially with pastels, which are not particularly well geared for lugging around town or country; and their dusty, somewhat vulnerable nature makes them prone to accidents before I've got them home. Oils are a bit easier, using a pochade box; I have one that takes boards around 6 x 8 inches; and of course the same box can be kitted out with watermedia instead, if needs be.
Another two paintings have found new homes this month; View to Uphill, and Clouds and Floodwater. These are now on the Sold page. Next post will be early March.
Glass Bottles. Pencil on paper 10 x 7 inches approx.
A quiet period, but with several pieces completed before February and one in progress that is being painted in gouache. Just for a change, here is a small still life drawn in pencil. It is a pair of (possibly) old scent bottles found in the garden and rescued. I thought they would make interesting subjects, one with patterned glass and the other with a smooth round shape. I will own up here and say that it was started many months ago, being finished just in the past month. At the time I was reading some books on using pencil for highly realistic drawings; not wishing to be brave and starting on a large object I chose smaller ones; even so, I have lost count of the hours spent on them. This intensity of observation is tiring and I can just about do a couple of hours at a time. Pencil can be coaxed into creating some intensely realistic work, but even if that isn't the main goal, it takes a while to blend the graphite into a range of tones. I think I prefer to do something like this alongside a less intense piece using ink or pastel; then I can move from one to the other for a "break".
Variety of drawing pens
An interim update on changes to the website. Firstly, the Archive page will be ended in the next week or so. It appears to be attracting a lot of spam and the numbers of visitors are way out of step with the reality of what the website stats are showing. There are a few other issues as well, no point in going through them, so this section of the website will go. The albums contained therein will be retained by me but since some of the work is quite dated I probably will not be displaying them any longer. Drawings will be incorporated into the main site, and the small abstracts project has already got its own section.
Secondly, the blog page is running ok but the RSS feed seems very reluctant to deliver images. Well, that's the case on the feed-reader I'm using, unfortunately I don't have time to test out all the others. I avoid using Big Tech platforms such as Facebook Instagram and Twitter for obvious reasons. I will never go to them. For now I will continue with my own rss-feed and make it just a brief paragraph, no images; and ask readers to click the hyperlink provided, which will take them to the full News2 page and the images. Hopefully that will work better.
Now, I thought I would do a short bit on where I hope to go with the drawing. Pictured are some of the pens I play around with. I've mentioned Sakura and I'm using sizes 003,005,01 and 05 for most of the ink-work; both black and sepia. I also have some Derwent fine-liner pens; the black comes in 005 and 05 sizes (plus others); the sepia seems to be only available as 05. There is also a rather nice graphite-grey colour ink, again only in size 05 (I think!). The Derwent ink in the pens is not waterproof; the Sakura inks are. This makes a difference as to which ones I might select for a drawing if there is to be additional wash-work added. I also have some nibs for dip-pens but have not as yet tried using those for drawing. I am finding comfort with buildings using these pens; I can get the lines I want and also the small things like doors and windows, plus any other stone or brick features. Adding tonal or colour wash on top of the ink lines is something I have rarely done but now I am exploring it. I would like to continue this approach with floral subjects when we finally get some spring and summer flowers. The resulting pictures are far more sketchy than my standard pastels but I am finding this to be a good thing.
Portmeirion; Clifftop View: ink, 15 x 11 inches approx. £85 plus £10 postage within the UK
You can enquire and reserve this work by visiting my Contact pagefor details.
I have always found the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales to be full of delightful views. There is a drawing and photo to be had on virtually every corner, out of every window and porthole. For this week's drawing, I used my reference photos to position and feature key buildings, such as the tall bell-tower and the Domed Building. The pastel colours of the buildings are also a feature here, but these would have to be the subject of a separate painting, not combined with pen and ink. In this exercise it is the building details that I am looking for, along with supporting vegetation.
I use a Sakura Micron pen size 005 for virtually all the drawing. The buildings are of course formal shapes, but the background trees are worked as flowing curly lines, spacing them out and moving them together to create light and dark areas. The trees below the buildings are worked in a similar manner, but varying the marks so that some are curly lines and others sharper, straight ones. The topiary tree in the centre section is made with tightly-packed looped lines, allowing them to create dark regions and then open out a bit to catch the light.
One or two areas had to be corrected; for this I used carefully placed dabs of opaque white gouache, applied with a 00 brush. Once dry, I was able to redraw the required details on top. Since I was using white paper, the gouache became virtually invisible. On tinted paper I would have to be rather more creative and colour the gouache to get it to blend with the paper colour. By carrying out the drawings I learn what is there in the scene, in detail; at a later point I may move on to do a colour work. The Village has many potential scenes and I shall be doing some more in due course.
I am having a rethink about the Archive section, where I keep examples of aceo cards, experimental pieces and so on. I have noticed that it is attracting "hits" on images and giving totals for visitors that are not reflected in the main monthly web-stats. I can only assume that a lot of it is spam/bots/similar. It does not help me to assess how the site is doing overall; so I may terminate the whole Archive section quite soon. The drawings, which also appear under the Archive portal, are gradually being brought in to the main site, so that's another reason for a re-think. This might happen during February, while I tidy the website up a bit.
With no prospect of physical art exhibitions yet again this year, I am detaching myself from the processes of mounting-and-framing my work. I have little difficulty storing oil paintings, but pastels have to be kept in a box, interleaved with either newspaper or glassine sheets. Now that I have drawings as well, I shall be needing to plan storage for those.
Church Window and Tree: pencil, 16 x 12 inches approx.
While I finish off another ink-line drawing, here is one that I have worked on in pencil since before Christmas. I am finding that these works in pencil take more time than ink-line...fairly obvious, really, due to the shading and blending required. This one is still not really completely finished, but I chose to stop because I was getting tired. It is 16 x 12 inches but has been cropped by the scanner a little, because I can't take it outdoors to photograph.
The window is a feature seen on St Nicholas' Church, Bristol; and in my line of sight was a tree-trunk, which I decided to include because it was smooth in comparison to the details of the window. The drawing is on white cartridge paper; I thought about tinted paper for a little while but decided not to use the type that I currently have (laid paper with horizontal lines). Now, it is true that I did not stand outside the building for hours trying to draw it; I would have been run over by traffic. This is something that has to be done quietly at home with reference material; and even then I did not manage to collect all that I required.
Using a H grade pencil I began drawing the window arch and working out where the various "folds" of stonework needed to go. Having got that in place finally, I moved on to the very dark areas and curly stonework. With this positioned, I took a break and started marking in the outline of the tree. Different grades of pencil were used to add shading to the stonework; moving gradually down the work and shielding it with a sheet of paper. The very dark parts of the window were 7B and 8B grade pencils. All this was done over several working sessions, a couple of which were six hours each, so at a guess I think the whole thing took around 20+ hours. During this time I also used paper torchons to rub the graphite....I have not done much of this technique before so it has been the start of a learning curve.
Finally the lower ledges of the window and stain marks on the stonework. An A3 size sheet is more than enough for me, for pencil work like this. Maybe something smaller next time!
At the time of posting this, the new ink drawing is finished and will go up next time. A second ink drawing is near completion also, in fact this one has been drawn twice...the first one got damaged, but the experience of having drawn it once was invaluable in getting started on a replacement.
Bossington Tearooms: sepia ink-line 8x8 inches approx.
Really pared down to basic tools at the moment. Not much enthusiasm for more involved painting. Hands cold, workroom cold. So I am working "simple" with line drawings or pencil. Today's image is on tinted Ingres paper, using a Derwent sepia Line-Maker pen. Bossington is a little hamlet in Somerset, near Minehead and Porlock. I never did get into the tearooms for a cake; I wonder now whether I ever will and whether it has survived. I began the drawing by doing a freehand pencil sketch on thin layout-paper, working from my photo as reference. Once the sketch was done, I transferred it to my tinted paper, using carbon-transfer. This is sometimes problematical because it creates dark lines that are hard to disguise with media such as watercolour; but in this case I would be using sepia ink.
I do not transfer every tiny detail or line; the main shapes are enough. I will have already worked out the finicky bits in the freehand pencil drawing. From here on I inked in the building, starting with the chimney and working downwards. Vegetation was drawn with tightly-spaced random scribble, relaxing the spacing in areas where more light was present. The cottage walls required some subtle shadows, especially on the right-hand corner; I could have used carefully placed fine dots for these, but in the end took a reddish-brown Graphitint pencil and lightly shaded those areas.
I may use a copy of this drawing as guideline for a painting in the future.
Christ Church Chalford: conte pastel and ink-line 12x12 inches approx.
Beginning 2021 with a new drawing, "Christ Church Chalford", on tinted Ingres paper, 12x12 inches (approx 29x29cm). I often find it difficult to get started again in the new year, so this post's drawing was actually started before Christmas and completed afterwards. It was laid out in pencil first, then the building was inked in sepia ink to bring forward the details; before moving to hard conte carre pastels for the surrounding vegetation and roof colouring. Highlights with white conte pastel. I was tempted initially to leave colour out of this picture, but eventually decided that some was needed on a soft, subtle level. This building is in Gloucestershire, viewed from the Stroud Canal. It actually stands on a main road with no vegetation in front of it; but from my position it was softly framed all round with winter trees and undergrowth.
Buildings often demand a rather rigid, architect-style approach to their depiction, but I prefer to combine this with a "human hand" element; a few verticals ever so slightly out of line, or shading or colouring to temper any harshness. Bright white paper doesn't always feel good to me, for these subjects; a warm white or tinted surface isn't as brutal.
This year I will be letting the subject tell me what medium to use, rather than trying to create "pastels", "oils", etc as categories. As a result, I suspect my output will be more mixed than it has been. We shall see. Personal projects....I'd like to do more local buildings as drawings. I also have a coastal project in mind, much of which may be done with oils and oilbars. Flowers? yes, maybe more drawn this time than painted. I am giving myself more freedom than I have done in the past. Ideas pop up in my mind all the time and I have to write them down. My pictures have never been large and this will continue; small is fun to do and easy to post. I was pleased to see a 7x5 inch work find a new home just before Christmas; now displayed on the updated Sold website-page.
St. Peter's, Castle Green, Bristol: conte pastel and ink-line 12x9 inches approx.
This is probably the final completed picture this year. A line drawing on tinted Ingres paper, with reddish-brown conte pastel added for trees, and a little blue-green from the Rembrandt pastels. Sunlit parts added with a white Conte pencil. I'm not a great fan of Ingres paper because I don't care much for the horizontal lines in the laid paper....but the range does do some nice colours; cool blue-grey, warmer siennas.
The website has been re-jigged a little, this time Gallery 2b holds drawings, such as today's picture and the one from December 1st. The "Archive" section has been expanded a little, with a Drawings album, again holding the same pictures. I'm deciding now what subject to do next; whether or not I'll be able to progress it before the Christmas holiday starts remains to be seen. A lot of stuff has been packed away, ready for a good clean-up and in preparation for a holiday visitor. Quite a bit of junk has been bagged up too! It's surprising what builds up throughout the year.
With little hope of "real" physical exhibitions being available next year unless participants are forced into gloves and face-wraps, I have decided to increase my online "reach" by linking with another gallery. I have taken a basic account at the Dutch-based www.onlinegallery.art . It's a bit unusual but seems more accommodating for my recent output of small-scale abstracts. I continue with Original-Art-Under100.com, where I have been for 7 years now; this gallery is really good for my wide mix of subject-matter. The other one I have space in is Artgallerysw.co.uk; probably more geared to paintings of the south-west region but, again, allows me to offer up more traditional material.
Thank you to all buyers for your purchases this year. I am pleased that I have been able to help you. I do hope, despite all our current limitations, that you will have a good Christmas and New Year holiday.
Back Street: conte pastel 12x9 inches approx.
Pictures involving more drawing is going quite well and I have resurrected some old drawing materials to put them to work. Buildings are rather a new subject for me, but not quite...I've been tackling the odd sketch on and off for some years.
Whether any actual paintings will emerge from this subject-matter, I don't know, because thicker brushes and paint aren't ideal for details. Neither are my usual pastels. Hence a return, for a while, to pens, pencils and a somewhat lighter-weight approach. Today's picture is in conte pastel on tinted Ingres paper. The colours are limited to reds, red-brown, white and a little ochre. There is a lot of structural stuff in the scene and too many colours are distracting. It is an interesting view and I've already sketched it twice, so there maybe another version in due time. It is in a city nearby to me, so is a local theme rather than a "general" one. Having said that, I do have a few ideas for buildings visited elsewhere, in past years. With still so many restrictions on travelling around, I am having to work from my own photos, but this is no great difficulty.
"Wet" media have taken a back seat for a while but I've no doubt I shall be back onto a project of some kind shortly. Pleased to see, last month, a Bristol pastel making its way to a new owner in Europe; and another of my 'intuitive abstracts' squares also on the road to a new home. A few bright days in an otherwise miserable and troubled lockdown Britain. Don't forget to check out the online exhibition as mentioned above this article.
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.
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