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’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:
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:
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?
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?
Acrylics, Inks, collage, gels, gold foil on acrylic canvas board/panel.
Close ups of texture:
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.
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).
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.
Acrylics, metallic paints and inks, on stretched deep wrap canvas.
Ground has been highly textured over a period of months, resulting in a very robust, cured surface that is quite hard. I used caulk, modelling paste and other gels to get the texture. It’s currently hanging in my bedroom (swamping my room as well because it’s quite a large painting), ‘cos I don’t have anywhere else to put it!
UPDATE: After weighting the painting last night, it’s not as rippled as in the previous photograph – so I’ve updated this post with new photos.
Another reason why working on acrylic paper is not always the best thing for me to choose but I didn’t have any canvasses lying around that were ready and as I’ve got kids home for the Easter holidays, time is limited. The paper (even though it’s like linen and thick) wrinkles something horrid – despite the gesso, binders and what not … anyway, this is a ‘sketch’ really. I want to work on a very large canvas that I applied texture to several years ago in the form of waves and spray. With this mock up, I wanted to see if I could get the colours I need for the ‘sea’ with inks.
I only used white acrylic paint, the rest is ink and pencils and globules of texture paste (actually grout). The finished thingie is about 11 1/2″ x 7 1/2′ and needs to be weighted, which I’ll do in the next couple of days (to flatten it out). The colours are much richer in natural light, it looks dull in the photo.
Acrylics, inks, thick bonding agent (sort of like grout), gels on A3 acid free paper.
Some close ups of texture:
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!
Acrylics, inks, gel, metallic effect medium on mixed-media paper.
10 ¾ “ x 7 ½ “
Close ups of texture:
About the title:
I was going through old dvd’s I have of stored family photos and came across a picture I’d taken when on holiday in the Southern Drakensberg with my family for a long weekend over Easter back in 2008. We made a fire outside whilst we were braaing (you guys in the UK call it a barbeque). My son placed a few twigs in the red embers, waited until they were glowing and then began making circular patterns, zigzags and drawing words in the darkness (as we would do with sparklers on Guy Fawkes night back in the day when people were responsible and there was no need for stupid draconian health & safety regulations for everything). I digress. Anyway, that moment inspired this painting. (even though I promised I’d lay off the gilt paper for a bit, couldn’t help myself) 🙂