Where to now?

I’m having a bit of a directional crisis at the moment and would appreciate some feedback. I recently approached a local gallery for representation and whilst they absolutely love my soft pastel work, they are reticent to take my work on – basically because they battle to actually sell soft pastel landscapes. Whilst the bulk of their comments were really inspirational, I was left wondering whether I’m going in completely the wrong direction.  

I also know, from experience, that pastel works do not sell – no matter how much everyone raves about them, that applause doesn’t often translate into hard cash. So, should I stop working with this medium and concentrate on developing my style with acrylics or oils? 

Anyone who knows me, understands that I do not enjoy working with oils but I decided to have a go with a scene from outside my window yesterday.    This is the source image (quite heavily pixelated):

I toned the paper with an acrylic wash first – I used Arches for Oil paper, which is just about the best you can get and cracked on. 

I use water-soluble oils – mainly Cobra. After waiting for it to dry up a bit overnight, I fiddled about with it some more today and this is where I am now:

Looking out across the winter fields

I frigging hate it! It needs so much more ‘honey’ – it’s not glowing.    I know that if I did this in soft pastels, it would definitely glow and have a bit of spark.  The way it looks now (to me) seems dull and lifeless.   I will probably fiddle about with it more, perhaps with a honey glaze, not sure yet.

I then decided to re-do a soft pastel work that I did last week – this one:

And for this attempt, I used acrylics. This is the result:

‘Sunlit autumn stream – acrylics’

How I test myself with this is to try and take almost the same amount of time that I would have done when making the soft pastel painting. So I forced myself not to fiddle about too much (with the acrylic). I did not use the best quality acrylics, they are student grade. I toned the paper a burnt ochre but now when I remember, I actually used a green toned paper for the pastel one, so maybe that’s why the acrylic version isn’t sparking as much.

Here they are side by side:

Aargh! Come on, give it to me on the nose (I can take it) – should I pack it in with the soft pastels or what?   

Mixed media on canvas

This is a piece I did recently on a recycled canvas, which had been previously treated to considerable abuse (i.e. covered in concrete and God knows what else). I used soft pastels, inks, pens and then decided to use black acrylic enamel for two of the tree trunks, as I wanted a really black, black for the trunks. I was told that this appears to be a bit on the sinister side, that wasn’t my intention when I did it but I can see that now. Anyway, it’s larger than most of the stuff I’ve done lately.

Dark and light in the forest – mixed media on stretched canvas

I’m also using this post to test out whether it connects and posts to my FB/ Instagram feed. Who knows hey?!

Monotype Notecards

More designs – this time, abstract landscapes, using plants and organic matter to create the images.

I am waiting for the labels, which I ordered last week and then will be taking batches to local card and gift shops in this area – hope i can sell a few!

Monotype landscapes

these were all made using a gel plate, many layers of acrylic paint, plants .. on Japanese paper. Each is about A4

The Creek
A walk on the wild side
A bright day

Monotype

I am becoming obsessed with monotype processes! I have done a lot of work with gel press plates but last week I obtained a sheet of plexiglass (about A2 in size) and have been doing some experiments towards coursework (portraits mainly). I have also been using it to develop some layered landscapes. I am using acrylics at the moment, although my Caligo printing ink should be delivered today and I can start messing about with that. I am fascinated with the process of creating monotypes and how different each one can be. I had a kinda of plan for this one but the trees took over. It’s inspired by all the woodland I visit on my wanderings around these parts.

‘Trees’ monotype acrylics on paper 23½x 16½”
Detail

Monotype landscapes

I use a gel plate, which once painted on is folded to create a channel in the paint. I use Golden Open Acrylics. Then I lay it flat and may use a stencil and dot with isopropyl alcohol before taking a print. Afterwards, I work into the surface with soft pastel pencils. This is all still in the experimental stage but lots of fun.

Monotype landscape
Monotype landscape 2
Monotype landscape 3 (with stencils)

Oil Bars

Apologies for such a long time in posting any arty updates – been lots of family things to sort out lately, I’m quite exhausted by all of that, so let’s get on with it hey?

I discovered Winsor & Newton Oil Bars quite by accident and only have a small selection at this stage.  But boy am I enjoying this new found freedom.  I am still doing fiddly small things while I get used to manipulating the oil bars on different surfaces.  These are some of the more recent things I did over the weekend.

 

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‘Patchwork landscape with blue’

14.5″ x 10″ or 37cm x 25cm – actual painting size.

Acrylic inks, oil bars and oil paints on acrylic art pad.

Surface worked with sgraffito technique

 

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‘Poppy field’

9.5″ x 6.5″ or 24.5cm x 16 cm

Acrylic inks, Oil bars and oil paints on Daler Rowney acrylic paper

Surface worked with sgraffito technique

 

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‘Poppy field with buildings’

7″ x 5″ or 18cm x 12cm

Acrylic inks, oil bars and oil paint on mixed media paper.

Surface worked with sgraffito technique

I am also working on a largre canvas piece, as well as a larger landscape piece but these aren’t ready to put up here yet.

Hope you enjoy!

Small soft pastel paintings

A few more soft pastel paintings … I’m now using Rembrandt materials, although some of these were done with the other pastels I already had.

Pastel Poppies    This is sold

Flaming sky Gold over the sea

These are each about 11″ x 10″

Various … oil and soft pastel experiments

‘Oil Poppies’

Approx. 12″ x 8″

Underpainting of alcohol inks, added area of gold metal effect medium, then overpainted with oils (not artist quality) on canvas board.

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I didn’t have any linseed oil or other mediums, as well as cleaning solvents, so was hesitant to try out these oils but then discovered that I could use Baby oil to dilute the paint and to clean the brushes, also much better on the skin!  So far the baby oil doesn’t appear to have created any dull patches – the paint is still wet, I expect it will only be dry and fully cured in a month’s time.   The oils and canvas board came with the set I describe below.

Soft pastel studies – my first attempts using this medium:

‘Dartmoor landscape’ from reference photo in a book.

Approx. 11″ x 7″

Soft pastels (not artist quality) on cheap scrapbooking type project paper (blue).

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‘Orange landscape’

Approx. 5½” x 7″

Soft pastels (not artist quality) on cheap scrapbooking type project paper (blue).

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Footnote:

I was given a compact artist’s kit comprising oils, acrylics and watercolour materials, plus palette and sample canvas boards, sketching pads, brushes, painting knives etc. etc. for a Christmas present.   These sample paintings are the results of playing about with the stuff in the kit.

I have never used soft pastels (chalk pastels) before and am finding them really fun to work with.  I enjoy the way I can layer over the colours and blend to get quite interesting effects.  This has inspired me to try and purchase better quality soft pastels as soon as I can, as well as some good quality paper – I’d like to turn out more impressive work in the future – so watch this space!

I hope everyone who visits this page had a lovely Christmas and everything of the very best fo 2017 – let’s hope it’s a positive year for all of us!

Art exhibition!

I’m very pleased to write here that I’m going to be exhibiting five works in a local show, which is to be held towards the end of October.  I understand up to a hundred artists take part in this exhibition, so this is a brilliant chance for me to meet and mingle with fellow painterly types and make some connections (I hope).    I’ve had very positive comment from the curator of the show on my work.    I’m going to be showing the following pieces:

One large work:
large-abstract

And four smaller paintings:

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Another one bites the dust …

Surprisingly (for me … well, it always is) … I had a lot of interest in my Poppy painting and potentially it is now sold – pending collection.   Woop woop … crack open the bubbly 🙂

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“Poppies”

20″ x 16″ x 1/2″

Acrylics on stretched canvas.

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And flip …

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I was moving things around over the weekend and ‘accidentally’ stacked my latest large painting the wrong way up.  When I stood back and looked at it, I realised that it is far more dynamic this way up and has more sense of presence.   There is something almost cathedral in the illusion of space.   To me it feels like I am standing on a snow covered street looking up the road  – either side at very tall buildings.  What do others think?

 

Untitled – August 2016

I am going to stop now … quite happy with it on the wall.

 

Untitled - August 2016

120cm x 100cm x 4cm

Acrylic, inks, pastes and gels (for texture) on stretched canvas.

Below to show room view …

Untitled August 2016

Doodling

 

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“In the field”

10″ x 8″

Acrylics, Inks, collage, gels, gold foil on acrylic canvas board/panel.

Close ups of texture:

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I’ve been in a bit of the creative doldrums since I returned from South Africa, artistically speaking.  Pottering about with clay hasn’t really helped, it’s just made me work small and that’s not what I’m about.  I decided yesterday that I needed to put all the clay away and get back to er ‘making art’ … lest I forget how.

Again, I’m working small, so I wasn’t feeling very confident.   I started working with tissue and forming the texture, the ground … I wasn’t really sure where I was going other than I wanted the little panel to express a feeling of wide open space and emotional depth.     Then I got to thinking about the other evening when my daughter and I were travelling home from doing our shopping.   It’s almost harvest time here and the wheat and barley in the fields is very high, golden brown and thick.   In this vast expanse of golden beige, there he was just popping his head out of the grasses to have a look around.  So he became the inspiration for this final bit of rather naive collage.

I hope to be able to get going with a very large canvas I have sitting around downstairs next week, it’s calling to me.

Collage on panel

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“Big sky and windmill”

10″ x 8″

Acrylics, Inks, found collage materials (for the foreground) on acrylic canvas board.

Close up:

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This is very much a bit of whimsy.  I will not be posting on here for a few weeks, as I’m going to be in South Africa soon for a short holiday, visiting friends and family.

Collage on paper

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“Field study”

15 ½”  10 ½”

Acrylics, inks, found objects (threads), aluminium foil and gels on acrylic paper.

Close ups of texture:

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The rape seed fields are now turning a glorious golden / electric yellow – I took this picture whilst out on my own last week, when I went to go and find some bluebells in our local woods.

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Bluebells at Tyrrel’s Wood

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Abstract on paper – small

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“Spring fields”

11 ¾” x 7 ¾ “

Acrylic paints, Daler Rowney inks, Pebeo Fantasy Prisme paint (still settling and drying, so there will be changes in the final effects once it’s dried and cured overnight).

Texture detail:

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Driving home the other evening, I took a quick photo out of the side of the car of the rape seed fields … I love this time of year.  I was inspired by this scene but didn’t want to create just another yellow, blue and green picture … so got fiddling about with the Pebeo paint, which takes an absolute age to dry completely but the results are always interesting.  I will also press this when completely dry so that it lies nice and flat.

Rape Seed April 27 2016

Abstract on Canvas

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“Vibrant field”

20″ x 16″

Acrylics, inks, gels on heavy textured and sculpted surface (my own texture paste), displacement chemical (Surgical Spirits), Montana copper metallic spray paint on stretched canvas.

Again, I haven’t sealed this yet with a binder or clear gel. My daughter likes this one so much, I don’t think I will be allowed to do anymore work on it 🙂

Close ups of texture:

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Abstract on paper – A3

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“Rocks”

Acrylics, inks, thick bonding agent (sort of like grout), gels on A3 acid free paper.

Some close ups of texture:

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I may have finished this series of abstract on paper paintings for now, as I would like to get back to using a more robust support, like canvas or board.  This particular piece has not yet cured, so it is still a bit rippled and wrinkly, it will settle down eventually and be completely flat.   However, I need to start preparing a body of work that I hope to exhibit and hopefully sell 🙂 in the spring/summer (not sure where yet).

I would just like to say thank you to everyone who visits this blog and ‘likes’ or comments on my work, it is very much appreciated and if I don’t automatically go to your blog and like your work it’s not because I’m a cow, it’s perhaps because I got a bit busy and didn’t have time.  I look at all the blogs by the authors who visit this site and all of them are spectacular.  I feel really privileged to have such a strong, experienced and talented ‘peer group’ of people who regularly make the effort to pop by here and look at my work  – thank you all very much!

 

Abstract on paper – small – study for larger work (I hope)

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“Gold waves”

9 ½” x 6 ½” (Actual painting size)

Acrylics, gels, inks and metallic effect Pebeo paper on mixed media paper.

Detail of foil work

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I did a large canvas a few years ago that I’ve never been entirely satisfied with.  I used bronze metallic paint to highlight the texture but it isn’t working properly.  So I now want to bring it up to speed.  The smal piece on paper that I did today is a kind of mock-up for the work I want to do soon on the older large canvas – which looks like this at the moment:

Abstract Acrylic

This canvas is 47″ x 39″ and about 2″ deep – I haven’t really had anywhere to work on it because of its size but I’m determined next week to take it downstairs and get started. Wish me luck!