Monday, November 26, 2012

When you Wish upon a Star

I have been quietly working away at this portrait over the last few weeks.

It's a nice idea to wish upon a star but in reality you don't need  the night sky to make a wish, for the stars that you can wish upon are within you, deep inside your soul and if you believe and choose your wishes wisely you CAN make them happen

 "Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal." - Pamela Vaull Starr

In my painting I wanted to encorporate both ideas... looking up on a star lit night and dreaming but at the same time being amongst the stars to symbolize that they are part of you.

Remember wish upon those stars within you and wish wisely then just maybe, as they sang in Pinnochio 

"When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you"


Friday, November 23, 2012

Celebrate World Watercolour Day Today and Paint!

It's World Watercolour Day today and what better way to celebrate this great day than by painting and sharing my love of watercolour with you all in two ways...

Firstly,Just in case you are at a loss as to what to paint,  I am adding below a step by step guide on how to paint this beautiful box with a pebbled glass lid.

 To begin, sketch out the outline below

The box section

1. Wet the area of the box you are going to work on, and then leave till there is only a slight sheen, then wet again and wait until shiny but not really wet.

2. Position the paper so that the paint can run in the direction you want, then using quin red or similar colour put some paint on the top section and leave it to gravity to do the rest. Stand by with a tissue just in case, but with practice, knowing how long to wait before applying the paint, you will not often need it. Leave it to dry really well (about 30-45 mins).

3. Re wet the area carefully with a flat glaze brush and repeat step 2 using Perylene maroon.

4. You can do this with each section individually or work on another section of the box while waiting for the first to dry. Do not work on touching sections consecutively though, and do wait until all the shine has gone and it's light touch dry before angling the paper in a different way. You want the water to work with you and not against you.

5. Now you need to work on each part of the box in the opposite direction to the way you began. Wet the area again very carefully and put the paint on the opposite side (the side that probably still has white parts) and let gravity do its thing again.

6. Repeat with each area, first working one way and then, once dry, turn 180 degrees and repeat. You are just building the texture; don’t worry about the shadows yet. You can leave some areas white though if they are in the light.

7. Now using a mix of perylene maroon and a touch of neutral tint start to work in suggestions of shadows wet on dry. Then using a damp brush, soften the edges.

8. With a fine brush, add in the fine line shadow under the lip of the edges of the box.

The pebbled glass

Wet on ever so slightly damp paper, paint in the color of the under rim of the box and the side that shows through the glass. Remember these will not be straight lines because the rough surface of the glass will distort the shapes behind. Using wet on damp, gradually build up the color. You cannot use gravity for this because the lines will be distorted, so will wiggle around with your brush. I use a fine brush for this because I like them, but it doesn’t need to be ultra fine. Keep the whole area ever so slightly lighter in tone than the actual box.

Paint in the colored pieces of glass. You are just painting in the color at this stage, the texture will come later.

Paint in the shadows on the floor behind the glass. I used a mixture of the maroon and neutral tint. Again these shadows will not be straight lines. At the same time, you can paint in the shadows on the floor.

When dry, use a fine brush to dot in the darker areas on the glass. I just used a darker red/grey mix for the white areas and a darker maroon or quin red mix for those areas. It looks a bit weird at the moment but don’t worry.

When the paint is dry, wet a flat wash brush with plain water and gently brush over the glass area. The water will then work to gently soften and blend the dots together and create the pebbled glass look.

The rim of the box

Use a mixture of quin gold, neutral tint or a grey complimetary mix, and a red brown (I used Indian red) and fill in the paint on the rim. For the shiny areas I just added some iridescent watercolor mix to some quin gold deep and touched in these areas once the paint was dry.

I Hope you will enjoy following the steps above and creating your own gift box. Why not add something inside your box and give the exercise as a Christmas or holiday gift to someone special.
Please note this image is not subject to the usual copyright rules so please enjoy painting it yourself.

Secondly, as it is World Watercolour day today, I thought that this would also be a great time to share with you a review of  my  watercolours painted and/or exhibited in 2012.  Thank you all for your support this year.Click on the play button below to see my slideshow or go directly to you tube to see it full screen


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Re Unite-Ted

My Nan used to tell me as a child that when my Teddy was threadbear and his  stuffing was coming out it was because I had filled him so full with my love there wasn't enough room for some of the stuffing too. This is what I was thinking about as I painted the old Ted. You can see from the old man's eyes and whole demeanor how much he loves his bear and I wanted this love to be visible on the bear too.

If there is any one thing that symbolises childhood it's a Teddy bear. Every parent watches with wonder as their baby goes from chewing on their favourite bear to making him dance around and tell stories. As your child bestows a particular personality on a Teddy you start to play along, and soon you're as attached as the child.

But children grow up and they give up their toys. Often parents though cannot give up the symbol of their children's childhood so easily and so put that bear away safely.

Before we know days turn to months and months into years,
Time is mapped with laughter and cheers,
the long road sometimes landmarked with sadness and tears.

Elders pass and children grow,
has it been that long we ask, where does time go? 
                                                                   Ryan Guerrero

and then one day, the child that was finds his beloved bear again

and with it his childhood memories and feeling of love and attachment for his bear come flooding back as if the time between then and now never happened. In his heart he is that child once more.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Demo at Don Valley Art Club

It's wonderful when you have the opportunity to meet other artists who share your joy for painting. Yesterday evening I was asked to give a demonstration at the Don Valley Art club in Toronto.

As I am a slow painter I didn't attempt to do a complete painting in the short time I had. Instead I focused on demonstrating certain techniques that I use when painting portraits of babies or young children.

 members of the Don Valley Art Club Watching my demo

My first focus was the eyes for as I have said many times before, they really are the key to a successful portrait.

For my Don Valley friends and my readers of this blog, here are a few important things to remember about eyes

  1. You can tell the age of the person even if you don’t see the rest of the face because our brain is extremely good at interpreting facial features. When we paint or draw eyes though we have to be consiously aware of some things that normally our brains just process automatically or we will end up aging the children and not understanding why.

2. A newborn’s eyes are 2/3 the size of adults and reach adult size by 6-12 years even though the face isn’t adult size. Therefore, they are larger in comparison to the face and to the eye socket than an adult. The inner corner of a baby’s eye is completely covered by a fold of skin that slowly retracts as the bridge of the nose develops.

Creating a realistic looking eye using my method of glazing taking many many layers so I demonstrated how to begin, by establishing the real darks around and in the corners of the eye and the first few layers of detail and washes on one of the eyes

and then moved onto the second eye to show how, with more layering you can begin to get a sense of depth in the iris and then demonstrated how to push the eye ball back into the socket with the help of shadowing. You can see in the photo below how the iris section and left part of the white of the eye is pushed back but the right side which I hadn't worked on at this point is still level with the skin.

We also talked about looking for the colours under the skin colour which help to shape and form the facial features. Its amazing the colours you can see if you train your eye to look for them.

In the photo below I still have a long way to go but you can begin to see how the glazes of perm rose, ultramarine blue, quin gold and burnt sienna  are creating that sense of depth and form. The eye itself at this stage still needs a little more value strengthening and the last layers of skin tones need to be added.

In the photo below you can see the effect that the increase in value creates, really pulling our attention to them. I used the same ref photo that I used in my demo to paint this. I merely tilted the eyes a little to give them a slightly more quizzical  look and added the puzzle pieces around them for some fun

Thank you to everyone there for making me feel so welcome.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Re Unite-Ted WIP 4

The old man is now finished and I am beginning to work on the equally old teddy. I will be a while on this as its fiddly work suggesting the worn parts. I haven't got a reference photo for this so I'm just working from imagination and some general photos of old teddy's to give me an idea of how to best suggest that sense of love and friendship that the threadbear texture suggests.

Thank you for all your teddy tales by e mail, here on the blog or on facebook. I have loved reading them. Teddy bears obviously have a special place in many of our hearts.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Re Unite-Ted WIP 3

I have really enjoyed bringing this old man's face to life on the paper. He has such an infectious smile. I have a little bit of hair left to paint behind his ear but as this section falls over the top of his shirt I will paint that in first. I'm so keen to paint the long lost and well loved teddy but I'm going to be good and finish the clothing first.

So how many of you have kept your childhood teddy bears or had them safely kept for you? My grandmother looked after mine after I left home and gave them to me before I moved to Canada. There is a lovely story attached to them. My Nana as I used to call her gave me one when I was about one year old but secretly she had bought two. The idea was that when one got dirty she could swap it for the other so I wouldnt be upset when it needed to be washed. One day, when I was about 2 my grandmother opened her cupboard and I saw the other Teddy peaking out. I was so delighted that she had a teddy just like mine and explained that they really ought to be friends. From then on I had two bears and they went everywhere with me :)