I made this drawing of what was left an old Ford Prefect, which had been abandoned on a disused railway line outside the village where I used to live many moons ago! I was a “wet behind the ears” first year student at Glasgow School of Art at the time and I made the drawing in response to the annual First Year Drawing competition which was run over the Christmas and new Year holiday period that year. The title that we were asked to illustrate was “Inside/Outside” – an intriguingly open ended subject title which gave lots of scope for choice. I went out for a walk one day, came upon this old hulk rotting away quietly and thought, “Wow! that would make a great drawing!” I remember it well because it was the middle of winter and it took me three very cold mornings to finish the drawing! I pulled the battered bonnet of the car and the seat springs out and re-arranged them to make it more obvious that the inside was actually outside!
It turned out to be worth turning my fingers to ice each day, because along with several other first year students, my drawing was nominated as a winner – the prize was a three-day trip to go round the London Galleries with one of the 1st year tutors! And a memorable experience it was too because we visited the Constable exhibition which was held at the Tate Gallery in early 1976. I was bowled over by the sheer scale and number of Constable’s work and longed to be able to paint with the same skill and panache. (If only it had worked out like that!)
I thought I’d show the stages I went through in the development of this little painting of Lower Largo in the bonny county of Fife, which I painted for my nephew and his wife. It was very refreshing to take a break from creating black & white designs for my adult colouring book (which I hope to publish in the autumn) and re-acquaint myself with brushes and paint. It reminded me of how much I enjoy the physicality of mixing and putting paint on canvas just as much as analysing the tones and colours required. And that elusive quality of painterly-ness that I strive to achieve, still dances frustratingly – just out of reach!
The photos speak for themselves, so I’ll ditch the descriptions and let your eyes teach you all you need to know.
My Daler-Rowney “Stay-Wet” Palette. A great invention!
Recently, out of the blue, a friend happened to mention the growing trend in adult colouring books. “You could do that” he said. At first I was skeptical – “Whaaat? “Colouring-in books for adults? Really?!!”
However, after some interesting online research, I thought “Why not?” I spent many hours as a child – “just colouring in” and I well remember, as many of us do, the contented, quiet satisfaction that such activities produced. So perhaps it’s not so strange to want to recapture that happy state of being. Now, thanks to adult colouring pioneers such as Johanna Basford in Aberdeenshire and Millie Marotta in Wales, many big boys and girls (mostly women actually), are doing just that – rediscovering what “arty people” have known forever, that engaging in any creative activity takes your mind to a place where the urgency of time disappears and you become completely absorbed in the process of making something unique.
So, for better or worse, I’ve started work on a colouring book for adults! Even though it’s a time consuming task, the pleasure of creating something completely different from my usual output, is very motivating.
Eventually I hope to set up a Facebook or Twitter page for the project but meantime the goal is to reach my self-imposed deadline of next Autumn! [UPDATE: The book is finished. just waiting on the proof copy to arrive, then the book will go live on Amazon. Go to my colouring website to learn more!]
Message me if you’d like to share your thoughts or comments!
I’ve spent a very enjoyable couple of days on & off, painting this beautiful lily that is gracing our garden pond at the moment. This is a mixed media painting – watercolour, white chalk and white gouache paint. I’m afraid the delicate, lucid tones of the stamens eluded me! Which points up the fact that Art only imitates nature, it can never portray accurately the amazing delicacy and subtle nuances of light that we see with our eyes. As Picasso famously said: “Art is a lie which makes us understand the truth.” in other words my painting, or anyone else’s for that matter, can only be an approximation; we have to find an equivalent in paint or whatever medium we work in, that will at best enable us to mimic on paper or canvas the effect of light .
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…” (Matthew 6:28,29)
Every now and then we get a visit from these lovely little birds in our garden. Their markings and colours make them immediately recognisable. I really enjoyed painting this little beauty.
“They make the most use of our gardens at the same time in late spring every year – between returning from their wintering grounds and the start of breeding, and at a time when natural food resources are at their lowest. More interestingly, this finch is increasingly using garden bird feeders, this may be because natural resources are in steady decline or more gardens are offering niger seed and sunflower hearts, which are both high energy foods that Goldfinches seem to prefer”. (Garden Birds UK)