Monday, October 31, 2011

Spinning a Tale WIP 6

I have spent the last couple of days painting in the pattern on her dress and creating the folds of the fabric. I have also been working on developing the contrast between the light and shady areas. The light of the paper only becomes really bright when it is contrasted closeby with some really strong darks. I have also painted the cloth around her neck. I decided to use a contrasting colour here as it seemed to help draw attention to her face and lead our eyes down towards where her hands will be.

I have now masked around the edges of her hands so I can paint her apron.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Spinning a Tale WIP 5

I know many of you are keen to see my progress in this portrait. I'm really enjoying it now all the weaving is done:)

I wanted to create that late afternoon/ early evening atmosphere  so am using a mostly warm colour palette for this painting with just touches of cool to add contrast and effect. The woman's face is now basically finished. To suggest the light shining in on her from the side it was important to really develop the darks to provide a real contrast to the almost white of the light side. I am pleased with the effect.  Her face is only a small section of the whole painting so I have cropped right in for the photo so you can see it clearly. I will begin working on her clothes next.

 I have also been busy designing some brochures. Debi Watson gave me the idea. Thank you Debi. Business cards are very convenient to have with you but at shows or sales its great to have the extra space that's available in a brochure to give potential customers more information about you. So here are a couple photo's of my new brochure.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spinning a Tale WIP 4

I finally finished painting the background section yesterday so today I was able to start working on the woman's face.

When I start painting a portrait I usually begin with the eyes. I guess it helps me to connect with the person. This time though I just knew I had to start with her mouth. Maybe it’s because I needed to hear her telling her tale once again.

I’m still underpinning her features and working on the light and shade on her face. I’ll add the skin tones once I have worked on her eyes, the bridge of her nose and her forehead. I can hear her encouraging me along now :)


Monday, October 24, 2011

Spinning a Tale WIP 3

It's been slow going weaving this background fabric in watercolour. I've still got a small section to paint but I know from your e mails and messages that so many of you are keen to see the effect so I didn't want to keep you in suspense any longer;)

I love how, when viewed from a distance, it just looks like a simple mottled background. It isn't until you move closer that you begin to see the woven pattern, the sheep and the boy. It's just like when someone is talking. At a distance you can hear the sounds but they are all muffled. It's not till you come closer that you can hear the actual words spoken.

I'm looking forward to the point when I can remove the masking fluid and start on the woman.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Spinning a Tale WIP2

When I researched the work of Jules Cheret for the 'Slice of Life' book a couple years ago I fell in love with his monochromatic style of background that both told a story about his subject and added atmosphere to the painting.  I knew that one day, when the subject matter was right, I would use the essance of this style of background in a painting. It is ideal for 'Spinning a Tale' because through the background I can suggest her tale as she spins. Maybe I shouldn't have tackled one on such a BIG painting though. I've worked on it for two days now and only done one small section. Fingers crossed I speed up with practice. (click on the picture to see a larger version)

You you can see I have masked the woman and spinning wheel while I work on the background. It is such a big painting that I often have to lean over the bottom section while I paint and I wanted to keep the rest of the paper clean while I worked on this section.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spinning a Tale WIP1

There is a Pioneer village fairly close to where we live that is an absolute joy to visit. It feels as if you are entering another world as you pass through the reception area. One very hot day last summer Rebecca and I took a friend for a visit and while she was exploring the village we had enormous fun taking photographs and chatting to the volunteers. A couple in particular were wonderful to talk to, the tin man and this spinner woman.

I loved the way the sunlight from the window was creating wonderful atmospheric lighting but it was more than this that drew me to the photo. You might not be able to see from the small jpg but in the photo the spinner woman is not only busily spinning the wool but also  spinning her tale of how in the days of the pioneers sheep would be kept not only for their meat but also their wool. Every spring the wool would be sheared, collected, cleaned then brought inside and spun into wool to be made into clothing and blankets to keep the families warm during the cold harsh winters.

I thought it would be interesting to tell at least part of this woman's tale in my painting.

I am hoping to keep the lighting effect similar to the photo but to replace the background with a woolen blanket. In this blanket  I hope to creat suggestions of some of the sheep whose wool made it and a boy who is collecting the freshly sheared wool to take to his mother.

It's hard to imagine at this outline stage but I hope you can, at least begin to get the idea of what I am striving for. I just need to decide on the final crop.

I thought you might like to see the different versions that I am pondering over. Its amazing how by changing the crop you can alter the  emphasis of the whole painting. It's really worth exploring different possibilities before deciding on your final outline because, as you hopefully can see below, different crops can really change the emphasis in the message you are conveying.

The first crop I created is only slightly cropped in from my original drawing. I like the fact that it sets the scene and includes the spinning wheel as well as the woman  but I am a little concerned that her expression will be lost as it will be only a small section of the painting.

The second crop focuses more on the process of her spinning the wool but in cropping the spinning wheel becomes rather disjointed.

The third crop really focuses in on her face and hands. I love the fact that you can really see her expression but the spinning, apart from in  the very bottom section of the painting, is basically lost.

I thought about what I liked and didn't like about each of the above and then created the final crop below.  By cropping in slightly more from the first idea the expression on her face increases in importance but at the same time the act of spinning the wool as well as the story she is telling has its place too because the spinning wheel is still largely intact.

I've also adjusted the transparency of the background on this final crop to help give you more of an idea of the kind of effect I would like to create. I want the story she is telling to be almost as if it is woven into the fabric of time.

 I can now start drawing it out on the watercolour paper. I am planning to paint this quite big so will be drawing it out approximately 34 inches high by 25 inches wide:)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Awarded PWS Signature membership

I had a wonderful time over the last few days meeting so many artists here in Pennsylvania. Thank you so much Debi for your hospitality and friendship. Yesterday was the opening of the PWS exhibition and the very special moment when I was awarded my very first signature membership

Here is the moment captured for me by John Walker. Thank you John:)

and with me beside my painting 'Identity'

It was very busy at the opening and quite difficult to wait for quiet moments to take photos but I hope the following pictures will give you a flavour of the exhibition and, if you live close enough, tempt you to go and see it in person. Click on each image to see a larger version.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to create Gallery Wrapped Watercolours... a step by step guide.

Many of you have been asking me how I create a gallery wrapped watercolour so I hope this blog entry will give you the information you need to have a try yourself. Its enormous fun and has been very popular with buyers.

First select the size of individual stretcher bars that you want for your painting. Individual stretcher bars can be purchased easily from most art retail outlets e.g. Currys, Dick Blick, Dan Smith, at a very reasonable price in many different lengths.

Assemble the individual stretcher bars together and then smooth off the corners with a file so there are no sharp edges.

Seal the wood on all sides that the paper will come into contact with using the varnish. This will prevent any chemicals from the wood affecting the paper in any way. I use a roller to apply the varnish quickly and evenly but you can use a brush if you would rather.

Cut a piece of acid free foam board exactly the same size as the stretcher bars. Use some double sided sticky tape to secure the foam board to the stretcher bars as in the photo below.

Make sure you have a staple gun ready filled with staples (you don’t want to run out half way through the process) and a large bowl of water and a brush

Cut your paper to size. I use Arches 140lb cold press.  It will need to be 4 inches bigger than the stretcher bars both in length and width for the Standard 7/8" Profile stretcher bars. This is to allow for enough paper to fold over the side of the bars and onto the back. (If you are using the deeper gallery style stretcher bars, profile approximate 1.5" depth and width, allow 6 inches extra paper.)  On the back of the paper mark a line two inches in on each edge for the standard 7/8 profile stretcher and 3 inches for the gallery style’. This will give you a guide for where to place the stretcher frame once your paper is soaked.

Stretch your paper. Many people stretch the paper in a bathtub or sink. I simply create a puddle of water on a table that my paper sits in for about 5 -10 minutes. If you choose this method simply choose an appropriate surface to work on and then pour the water on the front of your painting. Use the brush to evenly spread the water around. After a couple of minutes carefully turn the paper over and wet on the other side. Your paper should now be standing in a pool of water. Let it soak there for a further 5 minutes.

Place the stretcher frame on top of the paper lining it up with your markings. Because the paper has stretched the rectangle you created on the back will be slightly larger than your frame so just place the frame evenly within these guideline markers. Fold over the two long sides and secure in the middle with a staple.

Repeat with the short sides. This will just help to avoid uneven stretching of the paper. When you fold the edges over pull tightly but don’t over pull (the paper will shrink during the drying process and do the tightening for you)

Generously staple along both long sides

Carefully remove the staple on one of the short sides and fold the edges as in the photo below

Fold over and staple the short edge.

Repeat the above folding and stapling steps with the other short side.

Alternatively you can make a small cut in the paper and fold as shown in the photo below

Then staple the side as before.

Once all sides are stapled turn the ‘canvas’ over and use some paper towel to soak up any excess water.

Remove the paper towel and leave your ‘canvas’ for 24 hours to completely dry before painting.
Then have fun. You will have all the joy of painting on the paper you love that behaves as you expect it but the finished look of a canvas without the need to mat and frame under glass or acrylic. Don’t forget to paint the sides too for that real gallery wrapped effect.

Once you have finished your painting and the paper is completely dry, fix the painting with a fixative such as Prismacolor fixative and allow to dry as per instructions on the can. (make sure you use well ventilated room for this or preferably fix outside as the fumes from the fixative as very overpowering)

Then varnish the paper with an acrylic varnish such as liquitex satin varnish. You usually need to apply about 2 or 3 coats of varnish to create a smooth varnished look.

Once dry you are now ready to hang your painting. Or alternatively you can frame the painting using a canvas floater frame.

Have fun and please don't forget to share any gallery wrappped paintings you do this way with me. I would love to see them!


Monday, October 3, 2011

You're Quackers WIP 1

Do you remember the painting I did recently of the duckling 'Smile and the world smiles back' ? Well I was asked if I could explain how I make a ref photo my own recently and so I thought I would use the same reference photo again for another painting to show how, with a different approach, you can create two totally different paintings.

I will begin by showing you my reference photo. It was taken by my daughter back in July at our local pond.

As you can see from the photo, the little duckling was sat with his brothers and sisters on the grass. I just loved his expression so decided to focus in on this for my paintings.

For the first painting that I completed a couple weeks ago I wanted to create that warm feeling, in essence play on the 'smile factor'. I chose a basically warm colour palette but kept, apart from his beak, to the muted browns and dusky yellows. The background was also kept deliberately soft but at the same time helping to lead our eye towards the duckling and his adorable expression.  I developed the lighting too to help focus our attention on my COI his eye, his beak and those cute downy feathers. The other ducklings were not  important to my message so I decided not to include them. The painting was more about the duckling and our interaction with him.

So, to my next painting. This hopefully will have a very different feel. The painting above had a very cute feel to it. The duckling is smiling but with an air of innocence too. In my next painting I want to play more on the mischief of the young. I am still going for a close crop but have tilted the ducklings head a little more upwards to create more of an appearance of him laughing  rather than simply smiling. So why is he laughing? Well...I thought it would be fun to play with the real duck versus plastic duck theme. Two ducks from very different worlds... how would they react to each other if they met? The answer I think would be to laugh at each other and think 'You're Quackers!'

I then decided since this was going to be very much a 'fun' painting, I would take the ' you're quackers' theme even further and compose the painting on the diagonal so my stretched gallery wrapped canvas is 14 inches square but will be hung as a diamond. Since the plastic duck lives in the bathroom I have decided to include bathroom tiles as part of my background creating a tiled window with the real duckling appearing to be looking into the world of the pastic duck. I wanted both  ducklings facing each other mirroring each others expressions. I wonder what they are saying?

I hope you will enjoy watching the second of these small duckling paintings come to life :)