Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fish cards

I finally found a rainbow trout today after much searching. I was getting ready to go ice fishing myself to get one! I played around with some prints, trying to get a clear image which was being tricky. I'd get the body and the head would be blurred or it would be wet on the gills.

The gyotaku technique really is fish rubbing and I felt like I was giving the trout a massage in the end, but it seems to be the best way to get the imprint of the fish onto the paper.

I tried partial prints onto some card stock to see if they'd translate into greeting cards and it worked fairly well. I then enhanced the original prints with watercolour and a touch of ink. I'll put a couple of these in my Etsy shop. The design wraps around the outside of the card and the inside is blank.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Starts and progressions

Perhaps I'm the odd one out, but in pretty much everything in life I have several things going on at once. I ready several books at once, altering titles each night. I make several pieces of jewelry of various kinds. When I knit, I have a complex piece and a simple piece to do. And when I draw or paint I have several pieces that I work on alternately.

Maddy WIP
9 x 12, coloured pencil

Tonight, its three pieces I'm working on. The portrait of my niece, and a rough start of a piece in which I've laid down basic colours and shapes in oils and will now work on building it. This is a friend's daughter who loves dancing, twirling around in her 'princess' dress - a pale green confection of organza with roses and all the pretty things little girls love.

The third piece is a seascape a shoreline including rocks and water, but its not fit for human consumption yet. I need to make the rocks look more like rocks than balls of putty. It too, is in oils.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I've started another portrait. This time of my niece Maddy, currently studying at Oxford in England.

I did a portrait of Maddy many years ago when she was a toddler and visited me in England. As a few years have passed since then, its time for another portrait.

This is coloured pencils - Prismacolor - on Colourfix paper. Again, not sure of my choice of background colour for this one. The paper is a grey rose and is almost too similar in some skin tones. But I'm into it now so let's see what happens.

Don't worry Maddy, the skin tone will not be all blotchy and weird like it is now. This and the next few are the ugly duckling stages of the portrait, where I usually want to toss the whole thing. But it will come together. Crossing fingers...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lake Louise

Lake Louise
5 x 7 oils on panel

Lake Louise is the reference image kindly provided by Debbie Later for the Virtual Sketch Date for February.

Its funny because I have a photo of me at this same lake, at virtually the same viewpoint - as do likely thousands of others who visit Banff to experience the mountains. The lake in summer is an amazing turquoise colour, fed by glacier springs from the mountains. The skiiing there is beyond compare and I'd highly recommend a visit if you're anywhere nearby.

Landscapes are not my strong suit, but I like to keep trying in the hopes that they'll do what I want them to one day. This little piece was fun to do and I find if I paint them quickly, concentrating on values and shapes without fiddling with details, they seem to come out better. This one may have some adjustments to it but for now it stands.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Capelin print - enhanced

Gyotaku print with watercolour & ink
5.5 x 7

I've been experimenting with gyotaku or fish printing and the initial results are on Watermarks.

The original prints are quite lovely just as they are in their simplicity, but the addition of detail and other colour enhances them more and adds a new dimension. Each print is very unique in its own way and quite limited in edition. For this fish, I took 7 or 8 prints and that's it. Its odd, because of the experimental nature of the fish that I used, the prints even smell slightly fish like. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but definitely adds to the realism of it.

I will continue to add to the prints with different mediums to see where I go with it. And I will tackle some other fish which should give me much more promising results in terms of detail and realism. However, I rather like the movement and lines in this little guy. If you click on the image, you can see a more detailed version of the print/painting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kevin - complete

11 x 14 watercolour & pastel

This is the final update for the portrait that I've been working on for the study group.

I started it in watercolour and it lacked some oomph. I'm always a little timid about watercolours and don't want to muddy them. But then I end up too weak. So I added some pastel to this as well as more layers of watercolour and am pleased with the final result.

The portrait was a fun one to do and challenging as well. There is always great appeal for me in trying to create skin tones and expression and I learn something new with each portrait that I complete.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Something fishy

Capelin study I
watercolour 5.5 x 8

Today I went to the supermarket to find a fish and came away empty handed. It seems winter and snow make people hoard and the fish counter held a vast quantity of crushed ice and nothing more - literally.

So then I figured I'd go for a frozen fish. I wanted a whole one. A simple request you'd think, living on an island wouldn't you? Noooooo, nothing again. Lots of filleted, sliced, diced and pieces but not a whole fish.

So I ended up with my own store of smoked capelin. Capelin 'roll' in late June or early July in Newfoundland. These small silvery fish launch themselves in the thousands on the beaches to spawn and people gather them to eat. Its virtually a tradition in Newfoundland and I have an opinion on overfishing, but I won't go there right now. Personally, I don't care for them. They've got a strong taste to me, but others adore them. Smoked they're not too bad, but I don't go out of my way to get them. In Newfoundland people like to share and there always seems to be a bag full of them landing on the doorstep.

However, I digress.

All of this is Robyn's fault. She put a bug in my ear about a printing process and now I have to do this. Over the next couple of days, if the experiment works, I'll show you what I'm talking about.

For now, here is a little smoked capelin waiting to join his friends in a bath and become hydrated. Keep your fingers crossed. And tomorrow, I'm off to find a real fish! Living on an island...hmph.