Monday, 22 March 2010

Leaving work to 'breathe' for a while highlights any problems

When I think I've finished a piece of work it goes up on my studio wall, or sometimes I hang it in the house.  This lets the piece breathe for a while and it gives me the opportunity to make sure that it really works.  Even pieces that I feel are finished are subject to this 'breathing space' and in some cases I have actually gone back to them some months later.

This is a short blog to show you the transitions that took place on one of the paintings in my Mountains series.  The first image is what I had when I first hung the piece on the wall.  I quickly felt that it wasn't working and actually left it for about a month.  The recent snow on the peak of the mountain I was painting helped to etch it's details more clearly (it is right opposite my studio, but across the other side of a valley). I wasn't after photo realism,  I wanted to capture the drama of these mountains in my own way.  In the middle picture you can see I had given the peak itself much more detail, but I was floundering for a while with the foreground and in the last picture you can see how I have now resolved it.

Friday, 12 March 2010

The Search for Inspiration

In between work sessions this week I have been following a heated discussion on the Linkedin website. A member of one of the artists’ groups caused a veritable storm of response when she announced that she was committed to producing a piece of art a day for the next year.  One particularly savage comment prompted her to explain more fully the reasoning behind her project and it was part of that reasoning that I found particularly interesting. She says that by forcing herself to create a piece a day, she is not only hoping to improve her work technically, but is also hoping ‘to find inspiration in places I never looked before’.

Like any job a daily routine can become boring. Creating art is no exception. So I will be interested to see the results of this girl's project and whether it delivers all that she hopes.  Meanwhile, I'm in no man's land - searching for inspiration for the next piece. Maybe I too should find a way to search in places I haven't looked before. In the meantime the above painting is last week's work.

This was one of those paintings that really ‘painted itself’.  It is nearly always the very first layer that I put down that will tell me how a painting is likely to go.  Woodland scenes like this one can be difficult if you get bogged down in detail too early, so I used a big brush and half closing my eyes put in the areas of light and shade with quick, loose brush strokes.  Working like this I look for shape and pattern that will inform the rest of the piece.

Next I focussed on the tree.  It will be evident if you have been following my blog, that I have  a bit of a thing for trees !  So this beauty made its presence felt pretty quickly.  There are so many different ways to tackle the leafy areas.  Having established my shapes of  light and shade in my initial work I go back to look for shapes within the shapes : patterns that are created by clusters of leaves between branches.  The result is something of a mosaic, or a kaleidoscope of colour which I occasionally exaggerate.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

New Work in Progress

I am working on three tree paintings at the moment, including the one you can see posted in my last blog.  I am still resolving elements of all three, but I thought I would post them while they are still in the melting pot as they are part of the same series.

I have painted the big tree before and wanted to approach it again in a slightly simpler way.  Initially I thought I would leave it stark against the canvas with no background at all, but that idea has changed and I have had another thought about painting it for a third time, which I may try next.

The restricted palette this year has been very exciting and partly influenced by looking at daughter Beth's work ( on a regular basis.  Take a look and you will see what I mean.