Saturday, August 14, 2010

Study for a painting

I'm working out an idea that I have in my head and to do so needed the help of a model.  I have always used friends and family but am running out of people I know who are willing to pose or be photographed, so the time has come to go up a level to hiring a model.  This morning she arrived for a short photographic session.  The weather was perfect and so was the lighting so we wandered in the garden and field and I got some good photos to work from. This girl has beautiful Celtic colouring pale freckled skin and light titian hair so she should be wonderful to paint. The sun shining through her hair gave her skin a warm reflection too.

The concept that is in my head may not work but there is only one way to find out isn't there?   I sat down late this afternoon to do a small study from one of images that I narrowed my choice down to.  The final piece will be in watercolour and may be layered - or I think so at this stage, but you know how things change sometimes.  I used my kraft paper sketchbook with charcoal and white pencil to put down form and base values so I could see if this would work as a larger piece.  And I think it will.

Friday, August 13, 2010



I can never emphasize enough the need to keep drawing and sketching to keep your skills from becoming rusty.  I know there is the school of thought that says drawing isn't needed to paint, but I belong to the school that says drawing is the backbone of all art.

I know I am biased as my background was drawing and its where I cut my teeth and it still is my comfort zone.  I can't begin to describe the level of satisfaction I get from graphite and paper and seeing something emerge from a blank sheet of paper.

I am buried in fish both figuratively and literally lately and now have two weeks off work.  That means I devote two weeks more or less to producing, marketing, printing, drawing and painting.  I may be glad to go back to work at the end of it!

While I know that fish aren't everyone's idea of good time, they are predominant in my life and art right now but even so, I still wander over into other subjects and tonight was this sketch of a young woman before her wedding.  This was an image from the WetCanvas All Media Weekend Event.  I haven't participated for awhile and really had a need to draw something.  Go on over and see Valri.  Tell her I sent you.

And go draw something!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I'm busy working on a painting that I can't share right now.  Hopefully in the future I will be able to let you see it.  It, of course, involves fish!  However, I have been sketching as well as painting and there's never a sketchbook too far away from my hand.  This little fish in pen and ink with touches of coloured pencil was the result of the evening news.

I have other ideas brewing and they seem to come fast and thick at the moment.  Having time and ability to get them all in place is the challenge.  This weekend I have a model coming to the house so I can take some photos.  Until now, when I draw a portrait, its usually someone I know or an unknown photographic reference that represents a pose I need or like.  I have a specific idea and want to work that out, so I needed to hire a model to ensure that I get the pose and lighting correct for the composition I have in mind. 

Controlling my own images gives me a lot more freedom and hiring a model may be something that I do more frequently to get images that I need for future paintings.

I'll be asking the model to sign a simple model release form which will give me permission to use the images and create derivatives from them.  I know the likelihood of there being a problem in the future is very unlikely, but I'd prefer have that document in place.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Organizing production

There are so many ideas in my head right now, I'll be busier than a one armed wallpaper hanger by the time my holiday rolls around.  Productivity and deadlines suit me. Without them, I'd slide into a level of comfort that would soon lead to discomfort by not producing.

However, producing creates its own level of chaos and work when I'm trying to juggle several balls in the air at once.

I've been spending some time this past weekend organizing myself.  I start off with good intentions of cataloguing pieces, sales, workshops, etc. but it tends to slide in favour of more interesting things.  However, this time I will put the system in place and make myself use it regularly so that I can have a history of what I have produced, sold, sketches, etc.

My production count so far is 38 pieces so far this year.  That is not counting sketches, photographs, gyotaku or other printmaking pieces.  What I class as a production piece is something that is saleable - at least to my eyes.

I've created a simple spreadsheet to track information which consists of the following headers:
  1. Title of artwork
  2. Date completed
  3. Medium
  4. Support
  5. Size
  6. ID #
  7. Exhibited
  8. Purchaser's Name
  9. Price
  10. Date Sold
  11. Reproduction quantity
  12. Cards or prints
Like many artists, I take a lot of photos and lately that is coming together for me as I play in Photoshop to find the perfect composition, adjustment of colour or contrast to make my mark on the world.  Black and white images, especially of simple objects or scenes appeal to me.  I drive regularly past an old farm that I keep meaning to stop and photograph.  There isn't much stopping space on the side of the road and the road is fairly busy, but on a Sunday traffic is slower and I was able to get a few shots.

This one of the old gate posts, a vestige of tried elegance against the backdrop of a fading barn I found interesting and poignant.  The concrete shapes belonged in another era, and the roughness of the workmanship said country through and through.  It is solid and has withstood the elements, but its partner not so, either through weak concrete or an accurate hit by a tractor or wayward cow going through the gates in the past.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Field and studio

While I'm busy in the studio, life outside on the farm is also busy.  Early this morning I walked over to the vegetable garden and amidst gorgeous zucchini blooms and sprawling squash plants, rose scarlet veined beetroot, rainbow chard and these lovely French breakfast radishes.  Can you tell that I grow things that have drawing potential?   The colour of the radishes appealed to me so I brought a couple in and sketched them with coloured pencil.  I don't like the taste of radishes but they're very pretty in a salad and make wonderful drawing models.

I was given a bucket full of capelin and have been busy printing and freezing lots for later in the year.  These little fish always appeal to me and also keep me ensconced in the studio.  The are small and delicate and the colours in them are wonderful when they're fresh and these were literally gathered off the beach before ending up in my hands.  Blues, greens, violets and silver make them perfect for drawing painting and printing.  You will be seeing lots more of these.  But I also have a freezer full of other fish that need printing.  These I hope to make some progress on when I get some holidays in a week or so.