Friday, February 27, 2009

Ready for Paint

With a fairly detailed drawing completed, I'm ready to prepare the paper for paint - remember, I'm using acrylics.

I found out some time ago - quite by accident - that applying an acrylic sealer to the paper opens up a world of possibilities and allows me to create some interesting textures using techniques such as scumbling and glazing.  Scumbling over a sealed surface with thinned acrylics results in an appearance much like the granulation seen with some watercolor paints, but it does take a little practice to control the degree to which the paint breaks up into clumps.  Using a combination of water and flow medium or binder to thin the paint affects the result too, as does the ratio of each within the mix.  A sealed surface also allows me to push the paint around or more easily wipe it from the surface.

One aspect of acrylic paint that's often mentioned as a handicap is that it dries quickly.  As my technique involves overlaying a series of thin glazes to build up the depth of colour and texture I want, I have the opposite problem and use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process between glazes.

Barring accidents, my next post will contain some photographs of painting in progress.

Best wishes

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board

Before I owned a digital camera I used to worry about composition as my finger was poised over the camera's shutter release button; there was of course no easy way to manipulate an image once I'd committed the shot to film.  For me now, with a digital camera and a Photoshop-enabled laptop, I'm less particular about composing a shot - it's so easy to fine-tune my images later.  The creative process therefore begins at home, or even back in our solar-powered camp when we're at a remote location.

With the image described in my last post printed out on high-definition A4  paper, I've begun the process of transposing it onto a sheet of 640gsm watercolour paper.  Watercolour paper it may be, but I class watercolour painting as a form of masochism and have a strong preference for acrylics.

To more accurately transfer the image onto the drawing surface, I've taken the liberty of drawing a grid onto the printed image.  A grid having the same scale has also been lightly drawn onto the watercolour paper.

I'm a little out of practice so the preparatory drawing is probably more detailed than it needs to be.  As it's a time-consuming process, I hope it pays off when the time comes for some paint to hit the paper.  So far so good I tell myself.

Best wishes


Monday, February 23, 2009


If you've read my previous posts, you'll know it's been several years since I put paintbrush to paper. Now that I've committed to a fresh attempt,  I'm keen to head in a slightly different direction from the earlier paintings I've included in those posts.

When I reflect on my love of animals as a child, and on my earliest painting efforts in the eighties whose subjects were often animals, it seems quite natural that I should return to them as subjects now.   I'd like them to feature in my work in the future, if not as the main subject, then as an incidental part of a landscape study.

While holidaying in the north-west last year, Sandi and I ventured up Mandu Mandu Gorge on foot.  With rich red ochre rock walls on either side of us, we were accompanied at various times by a flock of squawking corellas as well as several of the more tuneful butcher birds.  As we rested in the shade, Sandi snapped a photo of some butcher birds high up on the gorge wall - presumably they were nesting there.  The streaks of mineralisation in the rocks echoed the stark black and white of the birds and the shapes in the rock allowed for an interesting composition which would almost work as an abstract painting, with or without the birds.  The cropped image appears below.

I hope it will be informative to track the progress of this painting.  It will serve either to document my rebirth as an artist, or as a record of yet another false start! 

Best wishes

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fear of Failure

As Homer Simpson once said, "Trying is the first step towards failure".

It's an amusing quote, but the pessimistic attitude it conveys sums up my own discomfort in many ways. For me, it's exactly that fear of not living up to my own expectations which prevents me from risking my self-belief by attempting to repeat with a paintbrush what I've already proven is entirely possible. Yes, I know, it's illogical!

As a form of self-administered therapy, I've scoured the "spare" room over the last few days and have unearthed some photographs of paintings and drawings from a previous life, a few of which are shown here, and in my first post.

I know the artistic vision I now have has evolved since I completed them, but from a technical perspective, these images serve a useful purpose in reminding me of what I managed to achieve all those years ago. When self-doubt intrudes, hopefully I can view them as some kind of affirmation, then doggedly grit my teeth and get stuck in!  If the rate at which new work appears here is painfully slow, please understand what I'm going through!

Best wishes

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Starting Over (Again!)

A love affair with art has been a constant in my life but, through circumstance or conflicting priorities, has risen to the surface only intermittently in any practical sense.

For many of us, life leads us in unexpected and sometimes unwelcome directions. We find ourselves unable to follow our heart's desires - we may even forget what they are - and it's not until we've reached a quieter, more reflective place later in life that we're able once again to indulge in those pursuits which captivated us in our carefree youth.

I've now seen my children grow to adulthood and, having long since discarded any aspirations of financial wealth, find myself turning once again to painting and drawing, not only as a form of relaxation, but hopefully as a viable commercial enterprise.

As soon as I'm able, I intend offering for sale a range of high-quality prints on paper and canvas and will develop a web site for that purpose when they become available.

In the meantime, I hope you can join me on my journey as I seek to recapture my unique style and share with you my vision of the Australian landscape and the diversity of its amazing wildlife.

Best wishes