Painting stuff: Well I have decided to abandon producing a large format oil painting of the below scene (which was originally done in soft pastels on organza). It wasn’t speaking to me and felt a bit like reinventing the wheel. I am going to be exhibiting this piece anyway in November, so it will get its moment of glory.
I am concentrating nowadays on working with raw (natural rock or refined) mineral (earth) pigments. So, I’m going to do a large piece using earth on the canvas, which is now prepped and waiting.
Degree stuff: I received the Gdrive folder for my autumn assessment last week and have started uploading all the required course work. Even though I’m at level 2, it doesn’t get any easier, the Uni is constantly changing parameters and rules. I hope I do well with this unit, it was an important one for me.
Work/life stuff: I start a new job on Monday! I am excited, nervous and terrified but looking forward to the structure of an office environment again. I’ve been working for myself for so many years, it will be a nice change to be in an office with a bunch of other mad people.
Camping stuff: I will have to wait for a few months I suppose before I can get some time off and then we’re looking at winter. I was going to go camping this weekend but it had to be cancelled due to all sorts of other things going on. If I get chance I still would like to try and squeeze in a wild camp before the end of this year. I have found another site offering semi-wild woodland camping (close to a river this time) – so I hope to get to that at some point.
Health stuff: Well last weekend I tried to take myself out and almost succeeded. I tripped up in the dark and face planted into a concrete plant container. It made a right mess of the right side of my head and the bruising is now all green, purple and yellow. I went and had x-rays last Monday and nothing broken but very badly bruised and I had concussion for a while. The nausea and dizziness is going away but it is SLOW! The doctor at A&E told me it can take over 2 weeks to recover from something like this – bloody hell.
Other stuff: It’s the 1st October today, geez what happened to this year?! It’s been quite momentous for me and seems to be continuing along those lines (despite the head trauma). Next weekend is my birthday and the Saturday I’m going to London to see the Cezanne exhibition at Tate Modern, I can’t wait for that. Then on the Sunday, I’m having a ‘birthday’ lunch with around 20 people t one of our local restaurants … should be fun.
At the moment, I’m kinda stuck between several things. Work on this large canvas (in oils) is taking way longer than I initially anticipated and it’s frustrating. I just hope its worth it once finished. The soft pastel version was much easier to produce.
I have also just completed all the submission artwork, including a somewhat taxing essay for the current course assessment. The assessment event itself happens in November and I get results mid-December.
I spent a few days solo camping in woodland recently. Whilst there, I ‘foraged’ a tiny bit of orange red pigment (probably the remains of a brick) from the area near my campsite.
I ‘refined’ the pigment in a make shift pestle and mortar (I used a melamine bowl and a smooth pebble).
In order to be able to paint with it, I needed some sort of binder. I didn’t have any glue with me. To try and get over my aversion to using egg yolk as a binder (to make egg tempera), I mixed the pigment with about a teaspoon of yolk from the last remaining egg (the things we do for art). Then I used a twig to make a painting.
It is a tiny study on watercolour paper of a baby hedge. I quite like its simplicity.
I still, however, don’t like the smell of raw egg yolk in my paint …
I’ve been invited to exhibit around 15 works of mine for a show happening at the beginning of November. The venue is just down the road from me. I exhibited there a few years ago (before the pandemic struck). It’s a bit nerve-wracking trying to figure out what pieces to include. The clientele around here all seem to like ‘pretty pictures’ i.e. figurative stuff that’s instantly recognisable – they don’t tend to go for abstract paintings – so I don’t think my earth pigment pieces will sell at this venue. I decided to focus on soft pastel or mixed media work and so far I’m thinking of these ones:
Framed pieces – one large (Fjord), one medium (storm over fields – A2) and three smaller
Plus 10 x small pieces (all of them are no larger than A3 – mounted but not framed). I’m not sure about including the first two flowery thingies or the monotypes ?? Aargh!
I’ll probably include a selection of hand-made note cards too, as I make these al the time. Anyway, I’ll update this post with more details once they start putting up advertising. Wish me luck!
I have been thinking a lot about *Cézanne, especially because I will be going to the exhibition at Tate Modern in October. To try something different, I had a go at producing a quick study based very loosely on his ‘The Bibémus Quarry’ painting. My version is with earth pigments, charcoal and some soft pastels on the Fabriano Pittura paper. I’m not sure I like this paper yet, the ‘line’ texture on the surface kinda irritates me. Anyway, we’ll see if it grows on me or not.
Cézanne’s original painting was done around about 1895 in oils 65x80cm:
Sadly for me, I can no longer get single sheets of the Giant Atlantis 400gsm paper delivered – unless I buy 10 sheets and at just over £135 (plus delivery) I don’t think I’ll be doing that for a while. Needless to say I’m trying other papers I have to hand today. This time, I used a Fabriano Unica 250gsm paper – yep I know ideally it should be used for printmaking. Don’t judge!
I gave it a good work out, doing an up-scaled version of something I did earlier this year, on the request of my tutor. I don’t make a habit of ‘duplicating’ work I’ve done before so this was very interesting for me. I used almost the same materials. The paper kinda held up but it was close to disintegrating by the time I’d finished.
Materials: Refined (with a muller) and semi-raw earth pigments, Liquitex acrylic ink and D-R system 3 white acrylic on Fabriano Unica 250gsm paper. Pigments used: Perranuthnoe Ochre, Fremington Grey, Gorran Haven Grey, Bideford Black, Geevor Red, Meeth White, Peppercombe Red from the Devon coastline (I think).
I am now quite interested in the idea of making a much larger work – I have canvasses that are large – around A1 and some a bit bigger but I’m thinking of going even larger than that, which is one of the reasons why I’m disappointed with Atlantis’ new restrictions on how to buy their 400gsm watercolour paper, which is really strong.
I didn’t think it would be satisfying for me to try and recreate one of the older pigment paintings – as the first one had come about very much by accident, I wasn’t working to a plan. With the second attempt, I was aware of the paper having limitations and this tended to stop me from experimenting as much as I would have done on a stronger paper. I like working on paper, as opposed to canvas or other solid types of support but perhaps I might find something else that is much more suitable, so I’m going to do some digging about.
Sometimes an image or emotion (or both in this case) lingers in my head and until it’s come out onto the paper or canvas, I can’t really concentrate on much else.
I’ve had this idea to do a portrait of my friend in Turkey for a long time but was nervous to tackle it, in case I couldn’t capture him properly. He has very strong, striking features, which does make it easier I suppose but I have been following him on YouTube for a long time and there is much more to him than just how he looks. It’s trying to get that essence across that I was nervous about.
Anyway last weekend I managed to make it happen. It is a soft pastel portrait and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I know he is! And that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
I loosely based this new piece on my own reference photo. I was trying to capture emotion and a sense of the power of the sea in this painting. I used magenta and red, with paynes grey and white … oil paint this time. It’s about A2 (50x37cm actual painting; paper is 60x41cm)
I am having a few issues with WordPress at the moment, don’t quite understand what’s happened but for some reason I can’t post from my phone anymore, which is a bit of a pain in the neck. Anyway, this is an update of work I’ve been doing lately …
I may not be posting here for a while, as I have quite a lot of course work to wade through in coming weeks.
I have just returned from my trip through Wales and Ireland up to Iceland. Yep, it was pretty epic. I took gigs of photos and videos, which I’m sure will be the source of inspiration in my artistic life for a long time to come! The photo above was taken at Dynjandi Falls, which is in the Westfjords area – I thought this was the best place to be throughout the whole trip, completely fell in love with it. The Westfjords region is very remote and I understand they are trying all sorts of initiatives to get people to come and settle there … so that’s on my to-do list at the moment.
The flip side to all this gallivanting around is that I caught the plague bug, so am now in isolation until it goes away. I’ve not had it too bad, just a lot of sneezing, coughing, blowing nose …
I keep seeing this place in my mind and remember sitting on such a tree many, many years ago eating sandwiches and drinking coffee … we were on a road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town. I’d never seen a petrified tree before, let alone sat on one, which was just casually dumped there on the side of the road. And to think that piece of stone, which once was a tree, was in the region of 300 to 250 million years old.
For this painting, I used Cobra oil medium with the pigments. Colours used: Trevellas Green, Burnt Umber, Fremington Yellow ochre, Peppercombe Red, Leswidden white, Fremington Grey, Bideford Black, Perranuthnoe ochre. Soft pastels. All on Arches Oil paper – CP Fine 100% pure cotton, 300gm. 23x31cm
I am really enjoying working with these ancient materials and mixing them up with contemporary polymers. I have ordered a 1m square canvas which will be used for a commission, so looking forward to working on that!
Continuing my exploration into natural pigments and the theme of liminality – in my case I am exploring the threshold between raw earth pigments and commercially produced art materials. For this piece, I used: Earth pigments: Trevellas Green, Peppercombe Red Natural pigment pastels by Florence Paintmakers Sennelier Soft Pastels Montana Gold Professional spray paint – Bronze W&N acrylic paint and inks Resin pigment inks Charcoal Fabriano Unica 50% cotton 250gsm white paper (torn to size)
I have started a collection of pieces that I am doing now mainly utilising earth pigments. These are small works – some on canvas panels and others on Atlantis 400gsm paper. I have also used encaustic waxes on one of the pieces. It is fascinating using these earth pigments, especially when I am able to grind and process them myself. The experience is visceral and there is a primordial connection when I touch the pigment with my fingers.
Initially, I used finely processed earth pigments from Cornwall and Devon such as Peppercombe Red (280 million years old), Fremington Yellow (40,000 years old) and Fremington Grey (350 million years old)
I then obtained some raw pigments to get a feel for processing them myself:
Below is a tiny test panel where I ground some of the raw pigment myself and used various binders. From top down: Leswidden white, Trevallas green, Gunwalloe gold, Meeth white, Perranuthanoe ochre, Leswidden white, Bideford black
These are some of the pieces that I have created so far:
‘Come with me … to the sea’
‘Take me to the River’
‘Last walk around Mirror Lake’
If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these items, or would like a commission, please contact me.
I follow Pete Ward on IG and recently ordered some of his own hand foraged/processed and packaged earth pigments from the Cornwall area where he lives. I chose Peppercombe Red, Fremington Grey and Fremington Yellow Ochre. Pete very kindly added Fremington Burnt Umber at no extra cost .. so I could play☺️
I decided to do some very basic quick tests. I don’t have Gum Arabic, so just used water to make the watercolour paint and then did a strip where I dropped some isopropyl alcohol onto it. I also used Pebeo Binder and finally Galleria structure gel, which is not dry in the photos, so I’m keen to see what it looks like dry. Here are some pics of the experiments
I ground the yellow ochre pigment a little onto my glass mixing plate with the back of a spoon, which did make it quite fine but to be honest I prefer it in the state I received it. The grittiness makes it a more primordial experience!
I did a very small study on Atlantis 400gsm paper adding some white and black acrylic.
I love the natural texture and colours. I will be doing more work with these pigments on canvas.