Surfacing

‘Surfacing’ Encaustic paper collage fragments and acrylics on 115lb/250gm Clairefontaine acid free paper. A2 (42 x 59 cm) (16 x 23 in)

Hedgerow and Barn

Did a painting over the Easter holidays, inspired by life at the barn where we were a year ago.  I am also fascinated by hedgerow life and conservation.  I used acrylics for this piece on stretched canvas.  To make the marks, I didn’t use any brushes but potatos cut up to stamp the paint with, as well as cotton buds, cotton wool balls, sticks, pieces of wood and cardboard, even tin foil.  I was pleased with the final result and it has received a lot of compliments on Facebook.

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‘Hedgerow and Barn’

Acrylics on stretched canvas.  Ready to hang – does not need a frame.

22″ x 18″ x 3/4″  or 56cm x 45.5cm x 2cm

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‘Monkey’s wedding’ …

Hey, I hope all of you who celebrate Christmas have a joyous one, filled with everything you need – like happiness, love, family and good friends.

Christmas is not about the gifts, or the tree or the baubles and garish lights festooning so many houses at this time of year but you wouldn’t think otherwise if you visited this planet from somewhere else.    As an extra-terrestrial, I wonder if you’d find it all a bit strange when you look around, peer into the crack and see all those many lost people?   The people who don’t have anyone to spend the holidays with, the people who are lonely or just alone in a crowd, the people who don’t have any food or place to live and there are many homeless people in this country and all over the world – what a sin that is!  In this so-called age of enlightenment, that there are still so many people who have nowhere to live, no prospects, no food, relying on hand outs and hand-me-downs just to keep body and soul together.  I wonder if your extra-terrestrial self would stop and think about that while you imbibe the ‘Christmas cheer’ and tuck into the turkey.

I’m not preaching, I’m as guilty as the next when it comes to over-indulging – both in the food and drink and the gift buying.  I just hope that the people in my family who have had a right crap year, manage to glean happiness and warmth over this holiday season – we’ll be seeing one of them on Boxing Day.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR CELEBRATION

I hope 2019 is a great year for you all.

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‘Monkey’s Wedding’

A4.  Water-soluble oil pastels on Bockingford watercolour paper.

Original Water-soluble Oil Pastels Paintings

Some work I’ve been concentrating on this month – all done on Bockingford paper with Caran D’Ache water soluble oil pastels.   Most are either A3 in size or A4:

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Abstract Field 1

A4 – landscape

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Abstract trees and foreground

A4

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Abstract trees and foreground 2

A4

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Abstract sky

A4 landscape

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Variation on a theme

A4 landscape

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Looking out from Glenfinnan monument

A3 – portrait view

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Abstract forest with black foreground

A3 – landscape

New work (not for sale)

Something different (for me, at any rate).   Got a bit tired of one of my larger canvasses last week, so decided to jazz it up somewhat.  I don’t do this ‘pointilist’ type of work normally, so it was something strange to begin with but after a while I enjoyed the freedom.

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‘What do you see?’

Acrylics on pre-textured stretched canvas.

120cm x 100cm x 4cm

 

Close up:

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I have been working with water-soluble oil pastels most of the rest of the time and hope to have something half-way decent to post up here soon!

Water-soluble Oil Pastels

I got me some Caran D’Ache ws oil pastels the other day and some really wonderful Bockingford Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper – A3 size – I took 20 sheets. What a difference good ground paper makes!  It is really sturdy and quite stiff but takes a lot of manhandling with liquid and paint.  I have been wanting to get stuck into water soluble oil pastels for a while now and decided on the Swiss made ones as they do seem to be at the top of everyone’s recommendation lists.  And they are fantastic!  Deeply pigmented, wonderful to work with both off the paper (i.e. mixing as on a palette) and on the paper.  I have tried some layering in this picture, which was basically to test the vibrancy of the colours.  I intend to do a series of paintings using this Bockingford paper of impressions of the Scottish HIghlands … so who knows hey?   Anyhow, this is the result of today’s faffing about …

 

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‘Boadicca’s tree’

Water-soluble Oil Pastels (Caran D’Ache) on A3 Bockingford Hot pressed 300gms watercolour paper. 

Close ups of detail

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New this week – ‘Gold’

We are settling into our new home and I’m beginning to find more space and time to paint.  This week I completed two pieces, this is the first to get up on a wall:

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Image cropped :

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“Gold”

Acrylics, sand texture, gels and inks on stretched canvas.

Size:  70cm x 60cm x 2cm (approx)  or 27½” x  23½” x 1″

 

Some new work

Well, we have at last settled into our new house.   My painting space is very limited but I’m managing to scrape a hole big enough for myself and the paints … the large one below [abstract seascape) was painted mostly outdoors, great fun that was in 32 degrees C, trying to keep the acrylics wet!

The others were kinda commissions – Bay scene (Devon) was requested by the lady of our house and is now enconced in our seascape themed downstairs bathroom.  Photo is crap, ‘cos there’s not enough room to stand back and get it in the camera frame properly.  Never mind.  The poppies was requested by a friend of mine, hope she likes it.

 

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‘Seascape with sand texture’

Acrylics, inks and texture paste (sand) on stretched canvas.

120cm x 100cm x 4cm

 

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‘Bay- Devon’

Acrylics and inks on stretched canvas 100cm x 39cm

 

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‘Poppies and wheat’

Acrylics and inks, gel pastes, structure pastes on stretched canvas.  45cm x 35cm

View below is minus the reflection.

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New mixed media

There are many things influencing my outlook on life at the moment – some very positive (like moving to our own house very soon – yay, no more renting!) and others not quite as positive (like waiting to find out if we will be able to permanently care for my baby granddaughter – we will only know the answer to that one at end of July).   My youngest son is also now seriously making plans to move over to the UK to be with us all – so that thought is very much at top of mind all the time and I was thinking about that a lot when I started painting this abstract.   It was great to get back to canvas and something larger than the work I’ve been doing lately.

I used a lot of layers in this work, using inks mixed with structure gel and acrylics mixed with gloss gels and other medium.  It was a cathartic experience,  no matter what happens in life, family are the most important – at least they are to me.  And sometimes family comprise people who are not your blood relatives.  I hold them all close to my heart, they give me light …

 

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‘DIVE’

Acrylics, inks, gels, structure gel on stretched canvas.

69cm x 59cm or  27″ x 23″

View of the work on one of my easels:

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Texture close ups  (lots of texture!):

This work is available to purchase.

New mixed media

Quite some time ago I started working on a series of paintings relating to the South African landscape, for some reason I didn’t finish that work.  I decided to go back to one of them over the weekend and this is the result, might still do a bit more tweaking (as always!).  This area holds a very special place in my heart (and psyche).  It is one of the most beautiful parts of the world, glorious in any weather.  This is a view of the ampitheatre from the river below. (My own reference photos)

Drakensberg

For this one I used acrylic inks, soft pastels, then oil pastels on mixed media paper.  Paper size is 16.5″ x 11.5″ (A3), painting takes up all surface of the paper.

 

Commission – completed

The brief I was given from my client was to paint her a picture of her field, which lies behind her offices and home in a rural area of South Norfolk.  She wanted a representation of the field in winter and depending on how that went, would probably ask me to do another painting of the field in summer.   The field or meadow doesn’t have any major features in it, other than a small coppice of trees and a separate area for her rescued chickens.   I knew that she didn’t want me to include the chickens in the finished painting, so I couldn’t mess about with that idea, which was actually what I wanted to do!  Chickens make excellent subjects for paintings!

I did have a few issues with the process of painting the required picture and had several different ideas of how to approach it.  So, I decided to present her with three versions last Friday and let her decide which one or ones she wanted to keep.

The first one is a realism approach taken from a photograph.  I wanted to capture the wintery light and bare branches, the grass was still quite luminous and deeply green.  This is on stretched canvas – 19″ x 16″.  Acrylics over inks.

 

Trees R 1

The second painting was more like the kind of style I enjoy doing, especially when it comes to depictions of trees.  Also on stretched canvas, same size (19″ x 16″) but portrait style.   I used an acrylic ink underpainting, topping it off with oil pastels and oil paints.

 

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The third painting was totally abstract and processed using gels, inks and acrylic paint on an artist canvas board.  This is about twice the size of the stretched canvas paintings.  I forgot to take a photo with my Canon before I took them to the client, and only have this mobile phone photo.

ABstract field

My client was so thrilled with all the paintings that she’s decided she wants all of them!  She is going to get them professionaly framed and then I will return to her home and take photos of these paintings in frames.  I am overjoyed that she really liked all the work, her husband especially liked the middle painting.  She has also decided to feature the paintings in prominent areas of her home – originally she was only going to place the paintings against a wall in one of the corridors leading into her house.

New series – flower studies.

These are the first in a series of flower studies.

All on A3 double gesso-ed acrylic paper.

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‘Cosmos – mixed’

Oils blended with glazing medium on acrylic inks background.

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‘Daisies in sunlight’

Acrylics on acrylic ink background.

 

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Oil pastels and paints – blended with glazing medium on acrylic ink background.

‘Cosmos -2’

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‘Pastel poppies’

Oil pastels blended with glazing medium

New painting – with back story.

I’ve titled this one,  ‘On her way’ – it is inspired by the devastating mental health struggles my youngest daughter is currently experiencing after the birth of her baby almost three months ago.   These last few months have been extremely traumatic for all of us but last night, when I went to visit her with her older sister, it was like she was back to her old self again. There is still a lot more work needs to be done but it was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel I saw last night, as she walked away from us down the corridor to her room.  She seemed to be surrounded by a golden glow and that’s what I wanted to get across in this painting.

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“On her way”

Acrylics, inks, soft pastels on Daler Rowney system 3 acid free acrylic paper.

16 1/2″ x 11 1/2″  (not for sale)

 

 

 

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!

Ink landscapes

Yes, I’ve been absent from WordPress for quite a while … the whole of November has been a bit of a bugger up on my side – mainly because I’ve been in and out of hospital.  I’m on the mend now and getting stronger all the time but it’s been a very long, stressful and  frustrating process, don’t recommend it.

I was doodling about with inks recently, just to see if I could still do something artistic while I was feeling so down.   So here are the results … one (the daisies) was a request from a friend of my daughters, I hope she likes it.

 

 

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New Small Abstract Works

‘The Twins’

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Both pieces are 8″ x 10″ x 1½ deep”  (or 20.5cm x 25.5cm x 3.5cm)

Acrylic/metallic/oil paint, substrate of concrete and contractor’s caulk on stretched canvas.

 

Textural detail

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Marketing of art and ascribing value to a piece

All things are relative. That’s the first point of reference, I find, when it comes to putting a price to a piece of art. It ISN’T about supply and demand either, as many marketers would have you believe. It’s about concept and connections.   Many pieces of mediocre art are sold at astronomical prices because the artist or artwork itself, has generated some controversy, fame or following – not because of the scarcity of the work (limited edition prints for example) or physical output of original work by the artist.

Coming to a point where an artist can accurately gauge the hard currency value of his or her piece of work, rests solely on historical feedback and constant manipulation of the selling price. There is no magic formula. Pricing a work cheaply, does not guarantee that it will sell – in fact, it can very often have the opposite effect and actually result in work being perceived as sub-standard or below par; or that the artist is naïve and does not understand the intrinsic value of his or her work. Under-valuing a work of art, I believe, is the single biggest mistake that emergent artists make but how do you avoid this pitfall? Yes, you can assign some crazy value to that oil you just did (that took you all of ten minutes to create) in the hope that someone with tons of money will walk past and offload the cash in your direction – you are very lucky indeed if that happens! Or you can sit down, carefully and examine:

  1. How much your materials cost.
  2. The length of time it took you to produce the work.
  3. Comment from your peers, as to the work’s artistic merit, originality and individuality of the artist’s voice.
  4. Feedback you may have received since the work’s creation, from interested parties – such as galleries or private collectors.

The first two points above are relatively easy to put a value on.  Especially, if you have a clear idea of how much you want to earn as a professional artist on a monthly basis, then you can reasonably calculate what your hourly rate is. So adding up the values of the first two items on the above list, will give you your base line, your ‘cost of sale’. Assigning a value to the mystical ‘artistic’ worth of a painting is where you hit the big problems.

It is sometimes valuable to look at work that is being marketed at local galleries (if you are hoping to attract interest from your neighbourhood gallery owner) but that can be a constraint in itself. Just because Joe Soap’s Gallery down the road markets abstract works of a similar size to your pieces at 20 to 100 pounds a painting, doesn’t mean that this price range applies to your work.  So how do you (the new artist on the block) come to a realistic selling price for an original piece of art?

I decided to do something a bit daft on this blog and put a picture below of one of my recent works and ask commentators/followers/ visitors to this site to give me an idea what they believed the work was worth – not what they’d pay for it, what they believed it was worth (these are two entirely different values :))   So please would you participate for a bit of fun?  You can be entirely anonymous in your comment.

Windy day at Caister-on-Sea

Acrylics, collage (silk material), effect paints on stretched canvas.

24″ x 18″

 

Work-in-progress …

I read a report in our local newspaper a week or so ago about an elderly couple who killed themselves in a pact that they made 30 years ago. The man was 72 and his wife was 66 – they had always said that they did not want to go into a nursing home when they became old or ill and that when the time came they would take their own lives. When the wife’s health began to deteriorate they got their affairs in order and sent hand-written letters to all of their friends, some of whom they had known for three decades or more.

One of the friends realised that the couple had or were intending killing themselves when she received her letter and alerted the police. The local Sergeant arrived at the couple’s large house, to find the door partially open.  The couple were fully clothed, holding hands lying next to each other on their bed.   The post-mortem examination recorded that the medical cause of the couple’s death was drug toxicity – they had taken an overdose of the husband’s medication.

Yellow ‘post-it‘ notes were left on certain items in the house, explaining that they had been washed and cleaned. The couple had made sure that all their bills had been paid and had even put money aside for the window cleaner.

The pathos of this story goes very deep in me. I found it incredibly moving and sad but also so beautiful, proud and strong! In this day and age, we allow women to abort a foetus, we should also be allowed to end our own lives with dignity when we feel that the time is right.  This couple knew that each could not live without the other, so they chose to go together, calmly, in their sleep.   I had been dwelling on these thoughts and the story of these two people for a while before I started working on this piece and my mind was consumed with this story the whole time I was applying the paint.   I did not set out to pay any homage, or create anything with obvious symbolism, metaphor, icon included in it – this is just how the emotion of these feelings came out (for me) in the creative process.

Preparation of canvas
Preparation of an old discarded canvas – with newspaper cutting and glue

Preparation of canvas2
More preparation of sub-strate

First strokes
First strokes of colour – using water-soluble oils, acrylics and irridescent gel medium

emotion coming through
Emotion starting to come through, more application of paint with a knife and brush

Close ups of textural detail

Close up detail of newspaper cutting
Newspaper cutting showing through the paint

Textural detail Textural detail2 Textural detail 3

Might be the final result, not sure …

FInal painting

New work – April – Colour

Image

“Rapeseed under a Norfolk sky” (Study for larger work-in-progress)

19½” x 15¾” (49.5cm x 50cm)

Acrylics, contractor’s caulk on stretched canvas.

 

Close up detail:

Detail of study