Tuesday, 26 April 2016

5 Steps to rescue a painting

WIP Detail from Dragon Vase with Magnolia - oil on canvas

What do you do when a painting is behaving badly?
Blame yourself? 
Say "I'm no good, I'll never be any good!" 
Throw your brushes down and give up? 
Keep on adding more and more paint to the canvas regardless? 

Here are 5 ways to work your way out of a creative impasse and find your joy once more.

1. Put your brushes down and step away from the easel 
2. Look at your painting in a mirror 
3. Clean your palette and your brushes
4. Mix some fresh paint.
5. Find something to eliminate or simplify.

1. Put your brushes down - so often we forget that a painting is generally viewed from a few metres away. The viewer seldom is as close as we stand when we paint. If you paint sitting down then it's even more important to get up and move away from the work. And don't just take a single step back, go to the other side of the room. This is usually where the problem areas will be more obvious.

2. Look at your painting in a mirror
I like to do this frequently when painting a portrait. Use a small make-up mirror if you don't have a large one handy.This helps to highlight a feature that is out of kilter. 

3. Clean your palette and your brushes
Now I know that there are many artists (very famous ones too) who can work from a palette that is a muddle of paint - old and dried mixed up with fresh paint so you really don't know what's what. Cleaning off the old paint is rather like re-booting your computer, it gives you a fresh start. 

4.Mix some fresh paint 
So often I will find artists in my studio trying to paint with hardly any paint on their palettes. Tiny mean little bits of paint will result in a mean painting. More generous blobs of paint will result in more luscious brushstrokes. This is especially true if you're painting in acrylics. Larger piles of paint will take longer to dry out so in fact it's less wasteful in the long run.

5. Find something to eliminate or simplify
Now that you have a clean palette and some lovely juicy paint see what you can eliminate from your painting. What is there that doesn't need to be there for the story still to work. 
I saw an exhibition recently of beautiful still life paintings. The paintings were lovingly and competently painted. However in almost all of them there were one or two items that I felt were irrelevant to the main story. 

I'd love to hear if you have some solutions that you'd like to share.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Story of a Tree

A few years ago I did a drawing of a Moreton Bay Fig in Vulture Street, West End. 

          The Fig - pen and ink on paper

This drawing was the inspiration for an abstract painting called Bark.

Bark I - oil on canvas 

You can imagine my disappointment and sense of loss when a year ago the tree had been hacked to a quarter of its size. Only the trunk remained - so very sad. 

Then last week I was in the neighbourhood once more. This time the tree was different. It was now a sculpture. The outer layers of bark had been used to encase a stainless steel structure. 

Fig Tree Sculpture - Vulture Street West End

So someone else felt the same as I did about this tree. They cared enough to transform the mutilated trunk into something beautiful.

Whoever you are - thank you. 

Friday, 15 April 2016

Flower paintings - Magnolias

I received a cryptic email from the organisers of the Rotary Art Spectacular 2016 saying:

“Congratulations, one or more of your entries has been selected for the exhibition. You will be notified of the details by the end of April.”

So I have at least one accepted painting.
This is the third flower painting completed recently and entered for the Exhibition.

Is this the one? Or is it Peony or Magnolia Diptych?

Which is your favourite?

Monday, 4 April 2016

Peony - exploring the complexity

Work in progress - Damask Peony 

During the last few weeks I've been working on a few paintings and have used the same technique to transfer my original drawing to the canvas. This post Magnolia Diptych- tracking the process is where I discuss the technique.

Northside Flower Market in my area has the most enticing Instagram profile - it's loaded with stunning images of flowers. A few months ago, the exotic Peony was featured. I woke up a little late this year as the season was almost at an end. The first blooms I bought were deep magenta and the very last bunch of the season was this beautiful pink. The flower is extremely complex, with petal folded upon petal. In our hot climate the blooms don't last as long as they might in a cooler part of the world so I took a lot of photographs. Then I did a number of very loose quick sketches as well as some more detailed careful drawings. 
My local Officeworks was the next place to visit where I had a large copy made of my original drawing. The plan print size is largest and for a few dollars you have a large copy of the drawing A0 - 841 mm x 1189 mm. This is so much easier than using a grid to enlarge the image. Once work was started on the flower, centrally and symmetrically placed, I decided to add the damask motif by means of a stencil. This allowed me to add new colours and provide a background to the central flower. 

As I worked slowly to develop the petals quite a lot of the drawing surrounding the painted area remained. The more I looked at the work in progress the more I liked the drawing contrasting with the petals rendered in a realistic manner. Sometimes every  "T" doesn't need to be crossed. I have therefore left many of these sketchy lines in the final painting.

 Damask Peony – oil on canvas 765mm x 765mm