Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rocks, Rocks and More Rocks!

I like rocks. I like painting rocks. But I don't like painting imaginary rocks as I'm drifting off to sleep and again as soon as I wake in the morning. I guess it's to be expected given my chosen subject matter!

I'm making slow but steady progress with this painting and enjoying the feel of the textured paper and the way I can build up colour and tone gradually with heavily diluted acrylic paint. Speaking of which, the lesson I learned a long time ago is that acrylics thinned excessively with water may not adhere well to the substrate or to underlying paint layers. To avoid any problems in this regard, I always use a separate small jar to hold water for thinning into which I've mixed a generous squirt or two of acrylic binder medium.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Back On Track

This is the first painting I've attempted since picking up the brushes again a few months ago where I've felt in control. Hopefully, it marks a turning point after I'd struggled with my first couple of paintings.

As I sat and conducted day one's post-mortem last night, my sense of satisfaction was overshadowed by enormous relief. After working on the painting again today, I have to say I'm cautiously optimistic, however, I won't tempt fate by declaring it a success with so much work remaining!

Regardless of the final outcome, I feel I've gone a long way towards rediscovering the techniques and style that had evolved all those years ago and had eluded me until now. It's the confidence boost I so badly needed and another step on the way to producing the kind of art I aspire to.

The lesson for anyone newly entering the world of art is that with persistence and dogged determination, your unique style will reveal itself. I'm not sure it can be rushed though; it will emerge - or in my case re-emerge - when it's good and ready!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Black-Footed Rock Wallaby

Sandi and I encountered this black-footed rock wallaby a few weeks ago on one of our many forays along Yardie Creek. As is so often the case with these creatures, he seemed more indifferent than alarmed and we were able to sneak our kayaks close enough to take as many photos as we liked, one of which features a wallaby mid-leap which I look forward to painting in due course. In the meantime, I'm keen to begin this painting which I'm inclined to think is a little less ambitious.

With careful attention to the sharpness of edges and to colour and contrast, I hope to push the rocks on the left hand side of the image into the background slightly, the goal being to emphasise depth in what could otherwise appear to be a continuous flat expanse of rock wall.

Having flirted briefly with masonite and dabbled unhappily with canvas, I'm back to using watercolour paper, a support I've enjoyed working with in the past - this time it's rough 640gsm Arches. After spending the best part of a day and a half on the preparatory drawing, I've applied acrylic sealer to the surface in readiness for my acrylic paints. Tomorrow, before I make a start, I'll experiment with colour mixes on some offcuts and hopefully be well prepared when paint hits paper.

I made the mistake recently of relying on the digital image displayed on my laptop, with less than ideal results. As I came to realise, tonal values and colour can vary significantly depending on the angle of the screen. As you can see, this time I'm following the lead of fellow blogger Grahame Butler and have printed out two copies of the image on high-definition paper as reference, one in colour and one in black and white.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009


As Colette Theriault alludes to in response to a comment on her blog, there's a danger of boredom setting in before a large work reaches completion. Although I'm rapidly tiring of my own "Wallaby Cave", I think it will be a useful exercise to continue, if only to develop greater discipline.

Pied Oyster Catchers

When I think about the transition from art as a pastime to art as a business, I can see there's an absolute necessity once in a while to put aside the enjoyment factor, grit the teeth and see a painting through to the end, regardless of plumetting enthusiasm levels. For many professional artists whose blogs I keep an eye on, the imperative to finish a painting or drawing would appear to be a fact of life, whether the deadline is due to the promised completion of a commission or because of the need to complete a work for submission in an upcoming show.

There's a school of thought which holds that when we're feeling jaded it's preferable to put our work to one side until the spark returns, however, I know from experience how often I've used this option as an excuse to move onto the next exciting project, never to return!

Which camp do you belong to? How do you cope when you feel less than inspired? Do you believe the standard of your work is compromised when you'd rather be working on something else?

Best wishes

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Now, Where Was I?

After an absence of six weeks, Sandi and I have returned home with a myriad of wonderful memories and, for me, a wealth of photographs to sift through in the never ending search for worthwhile painting subjects.

Striated Heron

Sitting down to lunch one lazy afternoon before we headed home, I thought about the potential drawing and painting ideas my long break has yielded and was able to list over 30 without really trying. I'm sure some of those ideas will be rejected but, without a doubt, one of the greatest hurdles I've faced in the past has been overcome: that of having enough sufficiently interesting subjects to sustain my artistic efforts over a long period.

I certainly didn't achieve all of my objectives where the gathering of reference photographs was concerned, but I'm satisfied enough; it's gradually dawned on me over recent months while reading other web sites and blogs that a successful work of art might be created from many references, perhaps drawing from several photographs of the bird or animal as well as those from which the setting is created. It's a remarkable photograph which reveals all the required detail too, and I'm more comfortable now making use of images on the internet, if only in a limited sense to fill in the gaps in information present in my own photographs.

Well, with the car unpacked and with gear cleaned and stowed away for next time, I can at last look forward to catching up with the progress of my fellow bloggers and to eventually posting some images of my own new work. It's good to be back!