Friday, October 31, 2008

Tayla charcoal pencil portrait

Here she is, my lovely Tayla. This is A4 Arches Smooth with charcoal pencil. I found it difficult getting the gradations of smooth tone with the charcoal pencil and found that if I drew a line then it kind of stained the paper and even my trusty battery-operated eraser couldn't get rid of that line. I did try using compressed charcoal which I drew on another piece of paper and then firstly used a paper stump to blend it but that wasn't too smooth so then I used my trusty finger and I think that worked best.

So this isn't the best outcome that I wanted and I left the clothes and neck pretty undeveloped as by that stage I figured this was a learning piece and not one that I will give away or hang up myself. I do really love the photo that this is based on though so I would like to attempt this one again, perhaps with a mixture of graphite and charcoal? I do really love the intense black you get with charcoal pencils and I am pretty happy with the eyes and hair, it's really the lack of smoothness with the change in tone on the face and because my baby girl has such beautiful smooth clear skin I really wanted to capture that and I don't think I did.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Photos from Cafe Apollo

On Tuesday we managed to get over to the North Shore and hang my paintings in Cafe Apollo. Here is a photo of them hanging. I think it brightened the cafe up and it would be lovely if I got some sales from it. However the publicity and exposure is all good and I have had sales from people taking my business cards before so I think it is a good thing to do. I am going to rotate work every 3 months so I need to get fairly busy on some large pieces very soon so I have work completed to replace these ones with.

I also thought that I would post of photo of my husband's creative work. He has just finished building this house and I am about to load it up on the internet so we can get some tenants in. It's a really lovely house and I was almost tempted to move into it ourselves as it is bigger than our house and has a separate lounge upstairs. After living with two toddlers who absolutely trash the house every single day, the thought of just closing the door on the mess and going into a toy-free tidy lounge in the evening just seems really appealing sometimes.
I do have great plans for when we build THE house which include a top floor studio with views of Rangitoto, a large library and separate office. That's just what I require for me, let along everything for my husband, our toddlers and my teenage step-son. It might have to be a fairly large house I think so I will wait in our current house until we find the right section for THE house (and have the money to pay for it). It will have to be a large section as I want my kids growing up outside with a large lawn and treehuts to climb to, bushes to play hide and seek in and flowers to pick for their mother. Can't wait...

Monday, October 27, 2008

We Are the World - Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, Jackson

Thought that I would check out You Tube to see if the video was there and of course it is so for those of you that haven't heard this song for a while, here it is!

NZ Art Guild fortnightly challenge

Something completely and utterly different for me I know! This fortnight's theme for the NZ Art Guild is 'Community' and the challenge component of it was that you had to use collage. So I played and it was fun doing something light and different.

It is called "We are the World" as my interpretation of community is that we are a global community right now. Look at how inter-related we all are with our systems such as the finance markets which is top of mind at present. Look at how technology has meant that you can communicate instantly with someone the other side of the world. When I thought about our world as our community, it made me remember that song "We are the world, we are the children..." I remember singing that at primary school and I loved it so for this challenge I thought that I would do three girls singing this from different cultures/ethnicities but together in our global community.

I have no idea what I will do with this piece, but it was fun to play and do and gave me a break from this self-portrait which I am still battling with and the dragonfly that I have decided to give up the acrylics with and break out the oils.

This particular piece is 300 x 200 x 35mm and is acrylic, collage and mixed media on canvas.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date - October

I really didn't think I would get anything done in time for the Virtual Sketch Date this month but this afternoon after putting the kiddies down for their nap, I decided to sit down and do a charcoal pencil sketch. I only spent about 45 minutes on this one (just a tad quicker than the 5-6 hours I spent on the coloured pencil peonies last month). I decided to crop the image for two reasons, firstly so I could actually get something finished in time and secondly because in the previous months I have really enjoyed seeing the interesting crops that other artists have done so I wanted to extend myself and try cropping rather than drawing the entire thing and I quite like the effect actually.
I also played around with the reference image on photoshop elements and put a film effect on it (makes it grainy) and then removed the colour so I would do something a bit looser for me.
Here is the original photo that this was based on. This was kindly provided by the very talented Belinda Lindhardt. I would recommend you check out her work as she does some amazing stuff with coloured pencils that I am in awe of.
I am looking forward to seeing all the other versions again this month. Basically check out the Virtual Sketch Date blog by tomorrow and you should see all the links for those that participated. It seems to be growing month on month and there is something really special about seeing just how creative and unique everyone's interpretations of the same image can be.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Charcoal pencil portrait - Tayla WIP

Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful spring day here in Auckland (has been raining ever since) so the kiddies played outside and I took about 150 photos. I got loads of gorgeous ones of Carter and as Tayla was quite grumpy (teething again at the moment) I got lots of grumpy photos and just a few beautiful ones. I decided that I would draw my favourite of Tayla's photos so I started the above last night. It is A4 Arches Smooth and is with a charcoal pencil which I haven't used before. Still a very very long way to go but I am loving the intense darks you get with a charcoal pencil.

What has put me off charcoal in the past is the messiness and the lack of control I feel I have with a charcoal stick. So a charcoal pencil gives me the control I like (am I a control freak?) but the beautiful intense dark which is a change from graphite. I need to figure out the blending side of things and may use a charcoal stick or willow charcoal for that softer part but I was pretty happy with the eyes.

I am nervous of smudging it and was wondering if I should have started top left and worked my way down. The trouble is that I like to draw the eyes first after I have done the outline as that makes the picture come alive to me and I really love seeing my daughter's face appear on the page. I guess I will just have to be careful.

One interesting thing I found when drawing Mackenzie recently, was because I have never met her in real life and only see photos, I didn't get that sense that I get when I draw my children of "that's her". Even though I am working of a photo of Tayla, I know her face so well from life that I think it adds something. I can understand why portrait painters prefer to meet the subject in real life as I think it helps with knowing when you have got that true likeness and sense of who they are.

In terms of other art, I have actually done more work on that self-portrait and it is looking better so once it is further long I will post it along with some of the exceptionally "ugly" stages this particular piece has gone through. I have also been battling with this dragonfly. I have been painting it in acrylic but I keep getting frustrated with not being able to blend and manipulate the paint like you can with oils. I was doing it in acrylic as I was intending to resin it once it was finished as it has a very textured mixed media background which would look great under resin but I think I might just paint over the dragonfly in oils and then just use a gloss varnish. I like acrylic for certain things but I find oil paint so much better for blending and manipulating and I almost feel like I have lost my skills in acrylic and the quick drying frustrates me immensely.

It is also Virtual Sketch Date week and I haven't done anything yet so will try and do that today. It is pears this time so might be a good chance to try out the charcoal pencil on something different that people.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A creative funk

For the last week I have been in a creative funk. Things just weren't going my way with the self-portrait, I damaged the porcelain Christmas decorations that I was hand-painting so wasn't able to get them for donation for Starship Hospital. I didn't like my initial background for the dragonfly painting as I did that one glaze too many and then couldn't go back so ended up starting from scratch again. I also couldn't hang my paintings at Cafe Apollo on Monday as I pulled a shoulder muscle at the gym on Saturday and as it hurts to lift, I couldn't deal with lifting big paintings up to hang and carrying them.
So I've basically felt frustrated and uninspired and in a creative funk. So today while my lovely daughter was sleeping, I decided that I had to pick up a paintbrush. I didn't know what to paint and I didn't want to even think about that so I squirted out 2 blues, 2 cool reds, one white and one gold and just put paint on the canvas. And this is what I came out with.
A bit strange, not really me and I will probably paint over it at some point and re-use the canvas, but it worked in terms of getting me out of this funk I was in by just picking up a paintbrush and pushing paint around. After I had done that, I tidied up my studio, prepared 2 canvases for some mixed media work I've had in the back of my mind and drew out the dragonfly on the prepared background that I re-did.
So I feel a lot better now and am actually inspired to get back out there and start on this dragonfly tonight once the munchkins are in bed. My shoulder has improved although is still not quite right and I am really missing the gym (and no an alien has not taken over my body for those readers that know me in real life) and using my husbands TENS machine on it each night which is helping. He uses the machine on his knee (wakeboarding = hobby) + (building = occupation) = three lots of knee surgery . So each night we sit in bed both with electrodes stuck on us while we read.
Also if you noticed the photo of an avocado at the top, I took that about an hour a go and played around a little with Photoshop Elements. I love avocado and it just gave me a ying and yang type feel when I was cutting it up for dinner so I decided to stop preparing tea and quickly take photos in the late afternoon sun. I actually quite like it and may even paint it at some stage.
So that's me, I'm back and will hopefully post progress on stuff very very soon.....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Self Portrait in Oil - WIP

I decided that I might as well post my work in process with this self-portrait that I am currently working on. Here you can see the first "drawing" that I did in a thin burnt umber. I was really just trying to establish the tonal values and was hoping that it I did that right then I would be able to glaze over to get the final result. In hindsight I think I did this too rough and I think it would be better to spend more time doing that so that the initial under-painting is very very smooth and correct.
Since then I have been glazing and you can see where I am up to with the top photo. I still have a long way to go and at one point I used titanium white instead of the translucent white I had been using to mix with and that put a horrid opaque film over the entire face. So tonight I went back with the burnt umber and have been glazing with my various mixtures of cerulean red and yellow ochre with translucent white. So I am feeling happier with it now. However I think because I brought in the opaqueness too early and all over instead of just the highlights, that I have lost the potential to get that real luminosity coming through.
I haven't worked on the eyes much since that first night at it so a lot to do there and a lot of refinement on the face itself. The hair, eyebrows and background haven't been touched and I will figure out what to do with those once I have completed the face. I have lost some of the deeper values in the shadow part of the face too so I need to darken those. So still a long way to go but I am enjoying the process and I think a self-portrait is a good way to start to explore portraiture. The photo that it is based on was not meant to be a flattering photo - I held the camera out from my un-made-up face in the morning and just snapped. I just wanted to have a simple face structure to paint and decided not to get hung up on whether it made me look good or not.
So I will keep you posted in my first attempt at portraiture in oils and hopefully I end up with an outcome that isn't too painful. In any case I am determined to keep it and not paint over it as I think self-portraits are brilliant for tracking artistic progression so hopefully one day I will look back on this and laugh at my amateur attempts!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Coloured pencil figure drawing - completed

Here she is, my sixth (I think) coloured pencil drawing and this time on gallery wrapped canvas. It is 200 x 200 x 40mm and once I varnish it, it will be ready to hang without framing which appeals to me. I don't have a title for this yet and I am pretty happy with the outcome even though I was ambivalent about whether it was working throughout different parts of the process.

I think for the next coloured pencil piece I do on canvas, I will use a lighter colour to prime it as I couldn't get rid of the black base and haven't made my mind up to whether that adds depth or would a figure drawing be better on a lighter background. The only way to find out is to try another one on a light background.

I enjoyed working on this size as I could cart it around with me and ended up doing quite a bit of it in bed before going to sleep at nights (was a change from reading which is my normal wind down activity).

I just need to find out what varnish to use on this now as I have a horror of spraying it and then finding that it dissolves colour pencil and the drawing runs off the canvas. I am sure that is highly unlikely to happen but these coloured pencil pieces take so damn long that I am not willing to risk it so I will be doing some research first.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mackenzie - graphite portrait - finished

Here is Mackenzie, completed (well unless her mother tells me that something isn't quite right and that I need to fix it). This is graphite on A4 Arches Smooth. I find it really hard to take an accurate photo of pencil drawings. I know that other pencil artists scan their work but when I've tried that it has come out worse. Perhaps I should find out if there are different settings I should use for scanning as I do have a fairly decent scanner.
I have almost completed the figure drawing and it is getting fine-tuned and I am pretty happy with it actually. Just the legs and hand to go. I am a bit nervous of the hand so I need to just suck it in and do it and forget it is a hand just tones and shapes.
I also have a number of paintings on the go, none of which are at interesting stages to show. I have started a small self-portrait of myself in oil which is something I have been meaning to do for a long time. I enjoy looking at artistic development of artists through their self-portraits so I thought now was as good a time to start as any. I have done a painted sketch to establish the tones and shapes in a turpsy burnt umber. I will take photos throughout the process as it is new for me and I thought it would be good to keep a record.
I have also just started preparing the background for a dragonfly painting which is to be gifted to a woman fighting cancer. I don't know her personally but a call went out on the NZ Art Guild forum by another member so I said that I would do this. I was researching dragonflies last night and came across the incredible photography of Mark Plonsky. I emailed him to ask permission to use one of his images as a reference and he has kindly granted permission. Check this out to see his incredible dragonfly photos.
I am also at work on my donation for the Starship Hospital Christmas Fundraising. For those outside of New Zealand, Starship is our Children's Hospital. We have had to go there once late last year when my then one year old son pulled a friend's hot drink down on himself. That was a very very scary day and I am grateful that he has no scars at all from that and that there were such great ambulance and hospital staff at Starship. So they are having special market stalls with hand-made christmas decorations so once I have finished what I am doing, I will post a photo of that too.
So I am feeling very creative and inspired at the moment and it is nice to be enjoying working on so many different things at once so when one thing is drying, I can work on something else.
(please excuse the lack of space between the paragraphs - for some reason today Blogger will not let me publish this with spaces - I have tried extending the spaces when I write it but as soon as I publish it the spaces disappear. After 5 attempts at fixing I give up and I will come and check late to see if it is fixed)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

WIP - Figure Drawing on canvas

I am currently experimenting with using coloured pencil on canvas with this piece above. I primed the canvas with Art Spectrum Pastel primer and thought that I would play around with this because I do love works of art on canvas and it would be fantastic if it does work and I can draw on canvas then seal it and it to be able to be hung just like that. I am also experimenting with using solvent which is interesting - it seems to dissolve the pencil and you can manipulate it a bit like a turpsy oil glaze really. It can muddy it a bit but I will persevere with this as I can see the potential.

Here is a photo of it on its side. As you can see if is gallery wrapped canvas, 200 x 200 x 40mm. The image that I am working from is courtesy from wetcanvas from a virtual life drawing class last year. I will find out more details before I finish it so I can properly credit the photographer.

I also met with the owner of Cafe Apollo in Mairangi Bay on Friday and checked out the space in the cafe for hanging artwork. On the left hand side you can see about half the big white wall space available and there is also more space for two large works by the door at the end (behind me in the photo). I will be assessing whether I have enough works to fill this space appropriately within the next day or so and if I do, I will hang on Wednesday. I will rotate works every 3 months so it is another great opportunity to get my work out on display and hopefully some sales! I've had some good outcomes from displaying my work at the Albany Garden Centre and this opportunity has come from the owner seeing my work at the Pizza de Casa restaurant and taking my business card. So you do have to get out there to be seen and get sold.

If I do paint some new pieces for this cafe I think I will focus more on colourful landscapes. I do enjoy doing them and I think they would fit well in this space. For my personal development I really want to start doing some figure painting and portraiture but that is for me. I've been meaning to sign up for a life drawing class at the local high school so I better check and get on to that as I do have a feeling it was an October start!

I have almost finished the graphite portrait of my god-daughter Mackenzie, just the clothing to do now so I will post that as soon as I have completed it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

WIP - Softly Twilight - oil

Today is the first day all week that I have managed to paint. I have had the kids in daycare extra days this week so I could get work done and I just haven't have the time to paint during the day and in the evenings I have been tired as I have also joined the gym this week so have been working out!!! (And thus feeling the pain in the evenings which is why a glass of wine and a book has been more tempting that painting).
It felt really good to pick up a paint brush today and I really do have a love affair with oil paints. Just the buttery consistency and the smoothness and the blendibility. I mix my colours on my palette and I really love the texture and feel as you mix with a knife. So I enjoyed myself. I still have significant work to do on this - I will go back over the sky and water with glazes and need to work more on the hills. I originally was going to put clouds high in the sky but not too sure about that at the moment - I might work on it more and then see what it needs. The colours are not quite right in the photo - it is actually softer so I will ensure I get a more accurate photo of the final result.
In terms of size, I am pretty sure this is 500 x 500mm but as I am sitting in the nice comfy lounge and can't be bothered to walk up to the studio to check, I potentially may be wrong. It is a nice size to work on in any case and I will post further process.
I also have some good news about potentially finding a cafe to display my art in long term. I currently have some pieces in the Pizza de Casa restaurant in Albany and I have been contacted by a cafe owner who saw my work there. I am off to see him tomorrow to discuss this and will update on the outcome. Apparently it is a nice cafe in a very nice area and on quite a busy road so fingers crossed.