Saturday, June 26, 2010

The view from here

 Three's a crowd
oil on mulberry paper

I realized that I am in my fifth year of blogging.  Five years of writing thoughts, posting images of success and failure in art.  Sharing snippets of life with a group of people who I know and don't know.

I wonder at times if I'll run out of words or ideas for posts or images to show the world.  Silences from me are usually short lived while I work on other things or life refuses to provide me with enough time to share thoughts in any cohesive form. But they still seem to come, at least for now.

I'm still waiting for supplied to turn up to do more work on my gyotaku project.  I do have the basics here, but am waiting for an order of Caligo inks to arrive.  These are oil based but clean up with soap and water.  I have a variety of inks on order to be able to see what works best for me. 

I do have a number of Japanese printing papers here now and some of them are exquisite. And some of them are quite expensive.  None are cheap, but they do print beautifully. 

Today I experimented a little with some leaf printing using oils.  They have a tackier feel to them and work well in printing.  I have to say that I prefer them over the water based inks I've used and they also give a crisper gyotaku image from what I've tried so far with them.  It will be interesting to see how the Caligo inks perform.

Today was a welcome warm day, warm enough to seek shelter from the sun in the gazebo.  Poor gazebo hasn't seen much use this year as the weather's been abysmal this season, but hopefully will change soon.  The gazebo is built on the edge of the woods between what was the enclosed garden for the dog and the meadow.  I can get wireless signal from the house and work or draw there which is an advantage.

The views on all sides are green and lush with coppiced willows sprouting madly and larch trees with that lovely bright green growth of a new season.

If I walk through the gate and past a small greenhouse that I use for tender herbs, I am in the meadow and my wild herb garden.  Wild only because a change in location for herbs meant they were all dumped in this particular area and now run rampant.  That's not always a bad thing and its not as if they are going to interfere with anything else, so I let them be.  Right now the sweet cicely is flowering and seed heads forming.  Its one of my favourites with its lovely aniseed scent and taste.

The strip of tilled soil is waiting for new occupants and if bugs abate, will be filled soon.

If I turn around to face right from this view, the meadow is in front of me and another vegetable bed.  This was one of the meadows that the horses romped in when I had them.  Now its more manicured and today it looked as if I should be setting it up for a game of croquet or other game that requires lots of space.
Finally back down through the gate towards the gazebo again.  See how easily I get distracted and wander off?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mallotus villosus

 Mallotus villosus
12 x 36 - oils
Mallotus villosus.  I've used the latin genus as the name for this painting.  He (as he's fairly thin and small, I'm presuming its a male) is a showy fellow and deserved a more regal name I thought, especially as he sacrificed his life in the name of art. 

I finally managed to get some odorless thinners for the oils I'm using and do some more work on the giant capelin.  Usually turps don't bother me, but they have lately and with the weather cold and damp, having good ventilation wasn't an option while painting.

It seems the older I get, the more things turn against me in terms of scents and foods.  But hopefully, this problem is taken care of for now.  I don't mind the smell of oil paints themselves, in fact I notice very little smell from them.

So on to the fish painting.  I've layered more colours to try to achieve that luminescence that fish have in places as light catches scale or wetness. The subtlety of colour in something as simple as a capelin is quite amazing, as is the detail.  I like the progress so far and still have some work to do on the mouth and the fin, then I'm hoping I can call it done and let it dry.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Final pelican update

I'm calling this pelican finished even if there are a couple of tweaks left to do.  I think there will always be a couple of tweaks left to do on some pieces.  The final brush stroke is always difficult to predict at times and often what I mentally call the last stroke is the stroke that overworks a section and sends me into despair about my ability as an artist.

The tweaks on this piece won't be enough to push it over the edge, so it remains safe.  I rather like having this fellow gazing at me accusingly in the studio.  However, if someone would like to give him a good home, he will be available for sale in my Etsy store soon, so keep an eye out for him.  I know he'd love to come and stay with you too.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Working larger

As a change from some of the tight work and printing that I've been doing lately, I felt the need to start something large in oils.  This is what's currently on my easel.  Its 12" x 36" and of a capelin.  Yes, yet another fish...

The scale of paintings in the 21st century are much smaller than those in the 17th or 18th centuries which often were 6 or 7 feet long and perhaps 3 or 4 feet wide.  The size of houses and available wall space make it more difficult to hang very large pieces and pricing would be prohibitive for the artist and the buyer.

There are good and bad aspects of working larger.  Its very freeing in many ways and allows me to slap on paint that I would normally used in a more controlled way.  The sheer act of using larger brushes prevents me from focusing on detail. Standing back from the piece is crucial to make it become believeable.  When you're on top of something large that you're working on, you don't see easily what isn't working, so moving back 8 or 10 feet at frequent intervals helps me make sure that what I'm painting isn't skewed.

When working on a larger scale, the painting becomes very abstract, as it is just values and colours and I sometimes forget just what I am painting, hence the importance of stepping back often from it.  In this case, instead of filling a larger canvas with images and background, I choose to simply make the focus a single object on a larger scale.

Scaling up an initial drawing can be done several ways.  I choose to use a projector to enlarge to this scale, simply to save time.  And before someone wades in on the 'is a projector cheating' argument; no, it isn't.  I see it as a tool to help save me time, not draw for me.

Of course more paint is used on a larger canvas and the canvas itself more expensive, but it shouldn't deter anyone from trying something larger. Sales and use of student grade paints can overcome economics if you really want to try larger scale pieces.

It will take more time to paint a larger canvas and if you're one for instant gratification, then large paintings won't be your idea of fun.  Errors in your initial drawing will become magnified on a larger scale and what you could get away with on a small canvas won't stand up to scrutiny on a large one.

12 x 36 isn't that large, but suits my purposes for today.  I have much larger canvases sitting and waiting for the right piece to go on them.  However I do like the long horizontal or vertical formats that this size canvas enables.

How large are your paintings?  How large would you like to go?