Well, I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last put something up here but life kinda got in the way – birthdays, holidays, family visits, speaking engagements, not to mention false starts or interesting and enjoyable distractions! Hopefully this will be the start of a more sustained and disciplined approach. I do feel with this little oil painting of a local view that I have discovered a systematic approach that will yield better results if I just keep working at it.
Recently I’ve been studying the beautiful paintings of Jennifer McChristian, a Canadian artist. She emphasises the crucial importance of getting the values right (i.e. the tonal values). It’s something that I’ve always known is much more important than colour, but the way Jennifer approaches it is in a very methodical way, creating a little tonal sketch first, then working from that in the painting. So I thought I would take a leaf out of her book and see if it had any “value” for me! As I worked on the painting, I began to feel I was onto something in a way that I’ve not fully grasped in practice before. I’m excited because I see the way ahead beginning to unfold and I’m really motivated to “stay with the programme” and see where this takes me! Onwards and upwards!
"Values are critical. This can't be overstated. If you don't get the value relationship right between your color masses, it just won't work" - Jeff Mahorney
Recently I completed this oil painting of “Billy” the Cairn Terrier which a friend of mine commissioned. As you can see from the photo, the painting is on a much larger scale than I usually do, so it took me considerably longer to finish than normal!
My client wanted a large painting and we discussed the possibility of including a Scottish croft in the background, since he had been brought up on a croft as a boy in Fife. I created the background to suggest the Lomond Hills in the distance and placed “Billy” in the foreground, as if he is anxiously waiting for his master to return.
This painting stretched me beyond the limits of what I normally do but I think the end result worked out “no’ too bad” as they say in these parts!
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!
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)