Up-scaling

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.

‘Winter Thaw – upscaled’ 30x30cm
Winter Thaw v2 and original on right

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).

Reflection

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.

Portrait

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.

‘Tahir’ Soft pastels on pastelmat

New work

These are two pieces I recently did towards coursework – made with raw earth pigments, acrylics and inks on paper.

‘Memory 1’ Earth pigments, inks and acrylics on Atlantis 400gsm paper 22x22cm

‘Memory 2’ Earth pigments, inks and acrylics on pre-prepared (with gypsum) Atlantis 400gsm paper 22x22cm

Storm

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)

‘Storm’ oil on paper 50x37cm

Some new work

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.

Dynjandi Waterfall – study in oils

I love using glossy photo paper to paint on, usually with inks and alcohol. However, I decided to see how it would react using oils and chose one of my own reference photos as the source:

Dynjandi Waterfalls, Westfjords, Iceland – Study in oils on glossy photo paper A3

Iceland

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 …

Petrified Tree, Karoo

‘Petrified Tree, Karoo’ Earth pigments and mixed media on Arches oil paper 23x31cm


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

Earth pigment work to date

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!

Emerging

‘Emerging’ Mixed media on Fabriano paper 30x30cm

Trevellas green, Leswidden white, Meeth white, Fremington grey. Natural earth pastels, Sennelier pastels, Liquitex inks and charcoal on Fabriano Unica paper.

I remember (part 2)

‘I remember – Part 2’ Mixed media on Fabriano paper 30x30cm

Trevellas Green, Leswidden white, Fremington grey. W&N acrylics, Shellac burn, Liquitex inks, Sennelier soft pastels on Fabriano Unica paper.

I remember (part 1)

‘I remember (part 1)’ Janice Scott Mixed media on paper 30x30cm

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)

Earth pigment series

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

Raw pigment test on tiny canvas

These are some of the pieces that I have created so far:

‘Come with me … to the sea’

‘Come with me … to the sea’ Earth pigments, acrylics and inks on canvas panel. 20x20cm square

‘Take me to the River’

‘Take me to the River’ Tissue collage, Earth pigments, acrylics and inks on Atlantis 400gsm paper

‘Last walk around Mirror Lake’

‘Last walk around Mirror Lake’ Collage, Earth pigments, acrylics, inks and beeswax/ encaustic paints on Atlantis 400gsm paper 29x20cm (however this is now framed and is 45x33cm in the frame)

‘Winter Thaw’

‘Winter thaw’ Earth pigments, acrylics on Atlantis 400 gsm paper 20x14cm

If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these items, or would like a commission, please contact me.

Own research – eARTh pigments

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.

‘Winter thaw’. Earth pigments and acrylics on Atlantis 400gsm watercolour paper.

I love the natural texture and colours. I will be doing more work with these pigments on canvas.

New things

I am working on quite a few different things all at once. This is an experimental abstract piece, using inks and soft pastels.

‘You’ll remember me’ Soft pastels and inks on Pastelmat A3

The coursework for Painting 2.1 (Ideas Lab) through OCA is really fun and I’m having a great time messing about with stuff that I wouldn’t normally do. Here are a few images of latest work that was done using various media on canvas panels and monotyped paper – Glitch.cam app, encaustics, shellac, soft pastels, acrylic enamels, polyfilla, inks, tracing paper, A3 Lightbox …

Delivered

I took this piece round to its new owner today and it’s already up on the wall! He’s really pleased with it (and so am I) .. I think it’s happy and serene, hopeful and peaceful.

Look up

I am an artist … repeat after me …

The term ‘imposter syndrome’ is a relatively new one, I wish I’d known about it when I was twenty-five. I’ve been painting, drawing and messing about with creative media since I was 16. Some of the stuff I put out is kindly bought by my small group of patrons and I am really thankful for that. I don’t sell regularly enough though, so because of that I have difficulty referring to myself as a ‘professional artist’. But I am one I guess! It’s so weird. I am not a professional artist in the sense that I have a full-time working job as an artist, with my own studio. But I do produce art on a regular basis – well every day – and it amasses all over the house. It gets framed sometimes. It gets stored away in boxes. I destroy some (actually most) of it. I re-do some of it. If I had a studio, it would be full of work.

My bedroom is a workshop – the bed occupies a large enough part of the room because it’s a three-quarter sized bed and the room is tiny. The bed becomes an extension of my working table and for most of the day it is covered in art equipment or materials. I try to fill the bed with pillows and cushions, so it looks more ‘bed’ like but the art stuff always wins and eventually the pillows are on the floor as they get replaced by canvasses, brushes, glues, gels, paints, plastic bags … you name it. When I’m working on something large, the whole room becomes engulfed and it’s a battle to find my way around in there, if I turn too quickly I’ll send something flying onto the carpet. My carpet is covered in smaller rugs – which are strategically placed to cover the odd mark from a pastel that fell there last week, or I dripped some paint there last year. My room smells perpetually like the inside of a warehouse – turps, oils, isopropyl alcohol, gels and most recently Golden Pastel Ground, which whilst being a bloody marvellous product, smells something horrid!

One of these days, when I hit the big time and win the Euro Millions, I’ll be able to have my own place again, with its own studio room (oh, how I miss my house in Benoni … sigh) Until then, I’ll just keep telling myself (quietly in a whisper) that I am an artist. No-one else could live amongst all the junk in my room and be happy!

Stages of a Commission

I was asked if I would produce a canvas painting – the inspiration was an Internet sourced photo:

I’m always a bit nervy and unsettled when I have to do something based on someone else’s photo and ‘specially when it’s quite a complex image, as is the case with this one. That said, I really love this image and the feelings it evokes. I’ve looked up at trees like these many times, so it is a special feeling to be able to try and recreate that scene on canvas. I chose to make this painting on a 80x60cm linen stretched canvas. First thing to do was prime it in a burnt gold colour, before painting the ‘sky’. (The gold colour serves two purposes – it stops ‘painter nerves’ 🙂 and also makes the blue ‘glow’, so it’s not so flat)

I added some texture while the blue paint was still wet (dabbing it with a kitchen towel, which I didn’t realise had ‘heart’ shaped motifs on it .. duh.) Once the blue was dry, I started painting the main shapes, using acrylics.

For me, this subject matter works better with soft pastels. However, you cannot apply pastels to a canvas surface without first giving it some form of coating, other wise the pastels will just drop off. I discovered that Golden make a ground specifically for this purpose, so I purchased a small tub. I have never used this Pastel Ground before and wasn’t sure if it would provide enough surface grip or ‘tooth’ for the pastels but I have to say that this stuff is amazing! It is best diluted and applied with a sponge or large brush (I used a brush). I applied about three coats in various directions. It dries almost clear, so I could see the underpainting quite clearly. Then I started applying pastels.

I was still a bit unsure about the pastel ground, not knowing how much pastel I could work into it but really I am so impressed! I could also work the pastels in with a brush, using water. I included watercolour brushpens, fine markers and pastel pencils to create more definition of the shapes. I’ve resisted the urge to draw or paint in millions of tiny branchlets, as that is not indicative of my style. Anyway, I am quite happy with it, this is the end result today:

‘Look up’ Mixed media, soft pastels on stretched canvas 80x60cm

My client is very pleased with it, so I will now give it a few more coats of fixative and possibly also apply some Winsor & Newton matt spray varnish, as a final protective layer. This was great fun to do!

Frozen

Been trying out some ideas on various papers recently, mainly using watercolour brush pens out in our local woodland (towards coursework)

T wood – en plein air

It was really cold and windy on the day I chose to go into our woods. So yesterday I decided to stay inside and use oils, which I haven’t played with for ages but the ice seemed to come into this painting, despite all those hot colours.

Untitled. Cobra was oils on Arches paper +-A4

Today I tried something else:

Untitled- Cobra ws oils on Arches paper.

And again, the ice was there again … I think this is a subconscious response I’m working through, to what I saw in this: