Monday, 30 January 2012

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New Year, New Career, New Paintings!

The week before Christmas was the end of my career in IT. After more than 10 years working as an IT consultant, developing code, analysing systems and managing a team, I've taken the plunge and traded it all in for the chance to make a lifetime's dream a reality - to become an artist, full time!
It's going to be a major challenge, and will take a lot of hard work, new skills and struggles, but I'm ready for it!

In my first few weeks I've been researching, planning, stocking up my shop and starting to make the most of my time to develop my art and find my direction. I've also been working to a couple of exhibition deadlines - more on that to follow.

For now, here are a couple of my latest paintings, with some photos of the stages and how they were built up:

Pears for Breakfast

Planning - I started by arranging a still life, choosing complimentary colours and some of my favourite objects (you might recognise the central vase from some of my other paintings). The colours were also based around some beautiful yellow tulips and lovely conference pears. In the background of the still life set up I propped up one of my framed monoprints, and a book on botanical art. Once I was happy with the arrangement I made a quick sketch in pencil and watercolour, which allowed me to see anything that I needed to adjust, and got me started thinking about the structure of the painting.

First steps - I wanted the tulips to be the main focus of the painting, so without making an preparitory drawing on the paper, I started building up the tulips with loose bright yellows. I tried to keep each mark fresh, and used watersoluble coloured pencils, wax crayon and oil pastels throughout the painting, in addition to the watercolour.

Next - After completing most of the tulips and leaves I started to paint in the vase and some of the background - the little blue arches, and a bit of the cream book cover. I then tackled the other main features of the arrangement - the blue and white tea-pot, the lovely pears, the start of the mustard coloured vase, and the beginnings of the willow pattern plate:

Adding the background - The next step was to start tying the seperate areas together, and building up the background. I've used some spots of grey oil pastel to link up the middle section to the bottom left of the painting. I've added more of the monoprint and book cover behind the tulips:

Adding structure - Now that the painting is coming together I've added in a few lines to try and improve the composition and lead the eye around the painting. To echo the plate and bowl in the foreground I've added another curved edge on the left, a possible table edge. I've also added a couple of diagonal lines to draw the eye in to the composition.

Final stages - I've used some more of the deep blue from the central vase on the table edge, to balance the strong colour across the painting. For the remaining background areas I've used more subtle greys and cream, so that they don't distract from the main subject too much. There was a lovely red squiggle pattern in my framed monoprint in the background, which I've extended out from the monoprint to the far left top corner, as if the squiggles are floating from the tulips. I've used masking fluid to suggest the pattern of the green and gold tin which the tea-pot is standing on. I've also linked the apple into the painting by the addition of the rusty red sliver on the right of the pears.

The finished painting - Pears for Breakfast

Watercolour Mixed Media  - 48cm x 36cm

David Hockney

I'm a huge fan of David Hockney and I've been wanting to paint his portrait for some time, it was great to have the time to do it!
I took quite a few (bad) photos of this as I went - I find it really helps to see your progress on screen, it's the same as looking at it from a distance really. I'll save you from a detailed description this time, the main stages were:

  1. Pencil drawing directly on the watercolour paper, in an attempt to keep the energy of the drawing, rather than tracing from a separate drawing.
  2. Watercolour for most of the painting but I've used some watersoluble coloured pencil to build up the darkness and depth of parts of the face.
  3. When I'd almost completed the portrait i decided to add a simple background.



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