Thursday, December 29, 2011


After a lot of thought, I've decided to call this painting ‘Imagine’

The John Lennon song has been in my mind today as I finished the last details on her dress. The words just seem to fit with Rebecca’s thoughts about the world. The title also takes us back to my initial request for her to imagine when I took the photo of her sat on the stool. Lastly it  leaves it very open for us all to interpret in different ways. For some it might be imagining her swinging on a star, for others flying and looking down at the clouds, for others just feeling the breeze on our own skin and the warmth of the sun on our faces, and for some imagining a world below the clouds where people live in peace and harmony.

 I wanted to keep that soft dream like quality to it, so haven’t used any bold bright colours. I did want to add some sense of excitement/ joy to it though and for this reason played with the compliments blue/orange and purple /yellow in the painting rather than pick a more analogous colour palette.

Hope this close up helps you to see more of the details.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Watching progress!

Here is my daughter Rebecca taking a look at my progress so far.  I hope the photo gives you some sense of the scale of the painting. I really like working this size. It really helps you to become absorbed in the feeling/emotion of the painting as you paint.

It was a lot of fun yesterday creating the wispy hair blowing in the breeze and the golden brown colour that her hair goes in the summer sun. I still have the bottom section of hair to paint but the tricky sections are done.

I'm still trying to think of a title for this painting. So far the ones I like best are:

1. Sky High
2. 'On top of the world' or 'looking down on creation'
3. J'Imagine

 Any thoughts on these or other ideas are, as always, greatly appreciated :)

I probably won't get around to posting an update again until afer Christmas so I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rise up above the clouds! Portrait WIP1

 I wonder if anyone spends as long on a background as me? Its taken me a week and many layers of glazing to create the effect I wanted. Its been fun though.

To me, a background helps to set the scene and develop the mood or atmosphere of the painting. I wanted a soft almost dreamy feel to this.

I expect many of you have traveled by air and have looked down at the clouds below. It has an almost unreal feel to it. We are so used to looking up at the clouds but now they are below us like snowy mountain ranges peaking through a layer of mist.

This was what I was imagining as I began creating the background.

Ok, time for a quick science lesson now :)

Each winter, when a high pressure weather system moves over the snow-covered mountain valleys , something takes place called a temperature inversion. When this happens the warmer air above traps a layer of cold air in the valley and the clouds settle almost on top of us weighing us down with misery as we long for the sunshine once more. Yet only a couple thousand feet above us, sometimes not even that much, the sky is deep blue in every direction and the sun sparkles. 

Isn't this a little like our lives? We so easily allow the problems and stresses of life to cloud around us, blocking our vision and dulling our spirits.  We need to remember though  that hope and sunshine are just above the haze. Once we realize this, we can leave the clouds of despair below us and move into the sunlight of hope. I guess this is partly what this painting is about and its an important thing to remember at this time of year as we lead up to Christmas.

I'm not sure how quickly I'm going to get the actual portrait section completed in the coming weeks but I'm going to remember to keep my head firmly above the clouds as I do so :)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

And all Because...... of the pieces of music I used for my slideshow was called 'I believe I can fly' and as I listened to it over and over again while I was putting the slideshow together, an idea for a painting popped into my mind.

My daugher Rebecca has been learning to fly  this past summer. Her tuition is on hold now over the winter months but she is looking forward to the spring again when she can complete her training and finally be able to fly solo. She seems so young to me still,  but I know she is growing up fast. She is so full of ambition and motivation to succeed. Its wonderful to see.  You know the saying 'the sky's the limit'... that is certainly true for her. I didn't want to put her in a glider for my painting though because I also wanted to encorporate the more imaginative side of her personality into the portrait too.

She is just like me in that way...she has such a vivid imagination so it was easy to get her 'to believe' in my idea for the reference photo shoot.

" Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!"– Dr Seuss

.... so I placed a chair in the middle of the basement and a  fan beside it, gave her a summer dress to put on and told her to sit on the chair, feel the summer's breeze through her hair and imagine she was on a swing high in the sky, above the clouds. 

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.  ~Henry David Thoreau

yes, I know she only really had the floor to look at, and a chair instead of a swing but  her imagination could fill in the rest and hopefully my pencil and brushes can bring to life what was in her mind. (fingers crossed)

The outline is drawn onto watercolour paper and stretched on a board. It is another big one... I just couldn't resist it. Its 24 by 33 inches.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Going larger with gallery wraps!

Hi everyone:)

So you all know I have been working on developing further the gallery wrapped paper idea for watercolours over the last 8 months or so.

In case you are new to this blog here is an example I did this summer mounted in a floater frame and HERE is the link to my post back in October which takes you through my version of the gallery wrap process

Up until now all the ones I have done, like this one, are small ones but I am now gradually trying and developing the technique for bigger gallery wraps. When I did one of the two baby duck gallery wraps which was14 by 14 inch I found that with the constant wetting of the paper (because I glaze) the foam core 'sandwich' had begun to bow a little. It was hardly noticable at this size, but it made me think about what I could do for larger paintings. I would like to get to the point when I can do a 40 by 40 inch gallery wrap. So....

.... this brings me to my current experiment. I have been sensible and not gone too big yet so I have just wrapped a 20 by 20 inch one (half the size of my goal size).

To stop the bowing/ sagging of the foam core I am trying sandwiching 2 layers of foamcore between the paper and stretcher bars. I stuck the first , as usual to the stretchers with double sided tape and then repeated this with the second layer of foamcore stuck to the first one and then wrapped over the combo. My theory is that while my top layer of foam core will still get very wet, the bottom one will stay dryer and support the top one. I like the slightly deeper more gallery style effect that the double layer of foam core gives me. I did a quick wet on wet experiment at this size and then took apart the gallery wrap to look at the foam core underneath. The experiment worked well.

I will have to think of something to paint this size now :) I'm not sure how much painting I'm going to get done this month as I am working on developing some ideas but in the New year I'm definitely going to try a bigger gallery wrap!