Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Invisible Woman

Busy days on Friday and Saturday, transferring the drawing for a large painting called The Invisible Woman to canvas. I used oil paint on the tracing paper and it worked well. After trying a few colours I chose raw umber and white, and found that even very thinly spread paint worked, well, in fact that tended to work better. It was hard work though, taking about 6 hours on Saturday. The paint dries of course so it had to be done in one day, but that'll be good for discipline. The fact that I have to do it in one day will make it conversely easier to get more done then! Sometimes harder work is better for productivity.

I aim to underpaint this work before the end of next month, and at least prepare for the other big one, the quest for pity seen a few posts below. These two are to be aperitifs, my two biggest paintings to prepare the way for a third, about schizophrenia which I've wanted to do for a long time.

Until now I've delayed starting that but now it's time to reimpose will. The key factor for success and attainment is discipline, over emotions, overpowering wants with logic.

Tick tick! Time is short. I'd like to get some music done too, before the summer sun heralds a full time painting. My target is two albums; one of songs and one of general symphonic music. It made me ask is pop music sees as less artistic than music without words?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Romeo and Juliet 2

Here's the underpainting to Romeo And Juliet 2 - The Infinite Gap Between Two Worlds. The colours will be corrected by the glazing layer.

Today I mostly worked on sound effects for IndieSFX. I've got a few ideas for large paintings. Working bigger might involve loaning out paintings to friends for storage purposes. Any technical problems such as detail levels and that sort of thing will have to be worked out by experience, so it's important to try a large painting to learn. Another big problem is lack of places to exhibit large works. Outside of major national competitions/galleries, anything over two metres would be too big to do anything with. I think it's best to think of the venue before the design.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Quest For Pity and Up With The Sun

Tha grainy picture is the under-drawing to a painting I'm planning for later in the year called The Quest For Pity On The Road To Self Destruction. I started the drawing last January! But today's work finishes the plan so far. I'll have to glance at it nonchalantly a few times to check it's right but I'm happy with it so far.

The quality of the picture above highlights how hard it is to photograph pencil drawings on paper, especially when over a metre high like this. I've ordered some tracing paper on a roll for this and the other big painting I'm planning. Photographing the tracing will be much easier because I trace with a black pen.

In other news I wrote a song today called Up With The Sun. In mood it's a bit like George Harrison's Here Comes The Sun, but the music is different, a bit like a 70's song called Part of the Union but I can't remember who did that one!

Here are the cheery words to brighten your day!

Come with me and fly.
Come with me and dive in fun.
Up with the sun.

Clouds in orange white.
Push away the night as one.
Up with the Sun.

It's been dark for oh so long
Now at last the sun is strong.

Taste the morning air.
Spring is everywhere begun.
Up with the sun.

Oh my new love see the dawn.
Light is shining and it's warm.

Thought the night would never die.
Now it's over I can fly in sun.

Up with the sun.
Up with the sun.
Up with the...
Up with...

(it repeats and fades...!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This is a small painting about heartbreak I painted in acrylic on Wednesday at my art group. It began with no real aim, then I saw a study of Sargent's Madame X and decided to draw it. I noticed that the negative space on the left was like the facial profile so I put a face there, then I roughly painted it, often choosing the only wet colours on the palette because the acrylics dried so quickly. I should really try a stay-wet one because it annoys me so much to mix a colour and find it's turned to plastic within minutes! At the end I painted the broken heart because I was feeling that way that day. It's rough and blotchy but I liked it enough to sign, if not enough for my website.

Today I've completed the drawing on The Invisible Woman, and added more to another drawing called The Quest For Pity on the Road to Self-Destruction. I started drawing that last one over a year ago! I must get a move on with it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Two busy days, drawing out a large painting called The Invisible Woman. It's harder to see and check a large drawing, especially in my small room. I wonder how the masters managed to check such work? Either from a distance or in a distant mirror I expect.

Last week I wrote two more short stories but found it difficult and they need redrafting. Still, it's good to try and that's how you learn.

I've added a few free downloads to my website, including two new Desktop Wallpaper images. The Crucifixion art one is shown. You can download the image in lots of different sizes on my Free Downloads page (note from the future, this page was short lived and so these images are now lost!).

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Well Well

Not much to say really. Sharmon's blog is about lacking time to blog, and I can sympathise with that.

I've finished this stage of my Annunciation painting. At the last minute I painted a green area red. It's rather dark, being transparent AND over a complimentary colour but the hue balance is much better. I'll add another layer I think, but trying to lighten reds like this is a challenge because they are best glazed over a lighter underpainting (mixing in white always makes ugly pinks). I've also been mixing new media but it's rather rich; 1 part stand oil, 2 parts amber varnish, 3 parts safflower oil. My current one uses more like 9 parts safflower! I need to cut this new one down a bit.

I've got an idea for a short story and have been reading about writing. Learning the "correct" way to do things like this makes the whole thing more daunting. Being aware of what you've done wrong in the past is bound to make you more wary of trying again. The trick is to ignore that and just try. Who cares about mistakes! I'm sure there are better writers than Dan Brown out there who never bothered trying. Dan Brown beats them then. It's better to come last in a race than not have a go.

Monday, February 07, 2011


Painting again today. The Colours of Cheshire is underpainted and drying quietly. I've been glazing today, The Annunciation, a painting that crosses van Eyck's Annunciation with a Kandinsky (the self-portrait van Eyck tribute bit is shown). It's proving to be very slow work as I focus on minute details. In the eight hours of painting today I've only managed a few square inches. The archangel Gabriel is a glittery flying seahorse about 15mm high and he took about an hour!

I'm having fun though and expect I'll have this finished in a couple more days. I've written a second short story too and found it a bit harder than the first. The trick is to just keep going. By coincidence I've been emailed about three different short story competitions! Looks like I'll have to write a third. This is all good practise for a novel... I've had an idea for one for years now... perhaps 2011 is the year it gets written.

(note to self - I seem to write about future events in present or past tense. This confirms my identity as time lord - many recent TARDIS dreams have been noted)!

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Colours of Cheshire

Painting today, a portrait/landscape called The Colours of Cheshire. It will take two days to underpaint.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Thursday Update

A busy few days. I began painting the landscape version of the portrait I've shown here but was unhappy with it, the inaccuracies in the likeness becoming increasingly obvious. I decided to redraw and repaint it. As the same image was used for two portraits this involved preparing two new surfaces and the time consuming process of transferring the drawing to the new panels.

That was completed yesterday. An email inbox clearout revealed one from the Bridport literary prize, and I decided to write a short story for it, the first I've probably written since school. "The Irrational Fear Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome" was a under 500 words but I enjoyed it and will probably write more.

Today I've decorated some frames and have also been investigating methods of transferring drawings to my new polyester canvas. It has a very plastic surface, and seems repellant to the Inktense pencils I use. It accepts oil paint well but the rough surface makes it hard to trace onto using pencils. I had to be innovative. I've tried using watercolour pencils, with or without prior acrylic gesso priming. Wax crayons I thought would be useful but again the results were at best "dotty". Caran D'ache Neocolor II crayons didn't work either, although these produced the most thin and delicate lines on the smooth wood panels I like to paint on. Their greasy character makes drawing with them easier too, so I aim to try them on a main picture one day.

On the canvas though they weren't much use. Today I've tried using oil paint, painting directly on the back of the tracing paper, then using an embossing scribe to "draw" it onto the canvas. I've tried this before and it tended to be messy when leaning on the paper, but this time it worked well. I'm going to try it with dry paint too, test the adhesion of these lines and then experiment with the best way to apply imprimaturae; either over these lines with a thin oil medium as normal, or under them with a thin acrylic wash which can produce better results on some surfaces.

The canvas seems to be very sturdy, and polyester with an acrylic coating is bound to be tougher than a natural fibre, as well as cheaper. Mastering the use of this material will be important as I move towards painting pictures that are too large for wood.

I'm not set to paint much this month, these two small portraits and to finish one from last year called The Annunciation. About twelve days work.

Tick tick. Happy new year of the Rabbit! Wouldn't it be nice to have a new year every month?