Saturday, August 28, 2010

One hour self portrait

I'm hopping all over the place lately due to my fish printing not cooperating or more like, me not concentrating on it enough.

Today I was going to throw the remains of some oil paint away.  It was the remainder of a previous painting and I had over squeezed.  Instead, I decided that I'd do another one hour painting with whatever was left on this limited palette.

This is a self portrait, done from looking into the webcam of my laptop.  Its not a perfect likeness, but close, considering my limitations of time and paint.  Its on a 6 x 8 canvas panel.

I like self imposed time limits for paintings.  They really loosen up strokes and colour value decisions and prevent me from futzing around on a piece forever.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fish and chairs

I'm at a stage of frustration with the gyotaku project I'm working on.  Not being able to find the supplies I need locally always frustrates.  Not finding whole fish easily frustrates.  Fish prints not turning out as I want frustrates.  Mounting not going well frustrates.

I am experimenting with mounting pieces using both wet and dry techniques.  The dry is an iron on silicone paper and my first attempt was not great, leaving wrinkles in the painting.  So I peeled it apart and salvaged the painting - I hope. 

The wet method involves wheat or rice paste as the 'glue' that binds the painting to another piece of similar paper to reinforce it, ready for printing.  It works more effectively than the dry method, at least in my hands so I will be sticking with it for now.  My concerns were with using the wet mount when I have watercolour on the paper, however, it hasn't seemed to affect it in the pieces I've used so far.

So while pieces dry I always have something else on the easel, several things usually.  This is the start of a new watercolour on 18 x 24 200lb paper.  I've had these Adirondack chairs in the garden for years and they're coming apart a bit and need a lick of stain.  On a hot sunny day, the shadows caught my eye and I thought they may make an interesting painting.

I've drawn the chair and shadows in detail and have now added masking fluid in white areas and around the edges of the shadow and parts of the chair so I can use the paint a little more freely.  Sorry the image is rather dark, I had to increase the midtones to make it more visible.  Better image tomorrow in daylight, I promise.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Early morning start

I pass by this view most days and have become a little immune to it. 

But early this morning the light was hitting the water and softening the cliffs so I decided to try a quick oil sketch of it.

Here's Torbay harbour or the start of it on an 8 x 8 canvas. The ocean currents here always form lovely shapes across the water.

And yes, the table in my studio is always this full.  I need more space.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Toby Jugs

Dick Turpin
pen and ink

When I was a child, I recall my grandmother having a small collection of Toby Jugs.  I would be allowed to carefully examine them and to me, they were a world of characters that would help me create stories around.

I have acquired my own Toby Jugs now and this is a sketch of one of them that I did this afternoon, and is of Dick Turpin, the infamous highwayman. The jug was produced in the 1930s and shows Dick with his mask pushed up against his tricorner hat and his pistol forms the jug handle.
A feature of character jugs is their handle which often shows an elaborate diversity of applied decoration. However, this is a feature which has developed over the years. The first jugs generally had plain handles, with one or two exceptions, for some of the clown jugs had multi-coloured handles, Dick Turpin had a gun for a handle and the Cellerer a bunch of keys. It was during the 1950s that the handles achieved greater creative significance when Max Henk was involved in their production. His Long John Silver had a parrot handle and for the sake authenticity does not have an eye patch, sticking to Louis Stevenson's book ' Treasure Island'.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Not everything that falls off the brush or, in this case, the fish, works well.  That is all part and parcel of the process of making art. Some pieces that don't work get trashed, some are put away to be looked at later and some are worked on further to see if they are salvageable.

I was printing a herring using a variety of supports and with not quite enough ink on the fish, I rolled it onto a small piece of watercolour paper that I had nearby.  The result wasn't great.  The ink didn't print well onto the paper and I didn't press the fish firmly enough into the paper to get a strong impression.

I sloshed on some watercolours randomly and this emerged.  Still not great, but interesting merging of colours and shapes. 

So why am I showing you my rejects?  Simply because I want people to know that not everything I do is good.  Not every stroke I make is positive. Not every print is successful.   And that's a good thing. 

It may frustrate me at the time, but ultimately it helps me learn and keeps me humble.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ferryland Islands

On the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula is the small, but historic town of Ferryland.

Just offshore lie a group of small islands, some of them no more than rocks jutting out of the ocean.  Others are large enough to support plant life and a couple have a gravel beach where kayakers sometimes land.

On the day I was in Ferryland, the weather was warm but grey and still as a thunderstorm had passed through. The sea and the sky were very similar in colour and the ocean was the calmest I had ever seen it.  If the islands have names I do not know them and names don't seem to be listed anywhere.  But if anyone knows if they have names, I'd be interested to know them.

The soft light highlighted the vegetation colours on the islands and the cool greys of the water and sky and I knew I had to paint it.  This is painted in oils on a 6 x 12" gallery canvas.

This painting is available for sale on the Available Original Work page of this blog.