Image

Happy New Year 2015

I’ve managed to sneak an extra painting into 2014 at the last minute. This is Gypsy having a run along the beach at sunset, and she’s a belated gift for my friend Clara.

Gypsy running on the beach at sunset

A4 (ish) in Acrylics

This was my first painting in acrylics. I think it will take a bit of practice to get the paint flowing the way I’d like it, but I enjoyed the challenge and worked with a limited palette of yellow, orange and purple.

I plan to paint more in 2015 and also to use my new set of Polychromos coloured pencils. I’ll have to have a detailed think about goals and resolutions but that’s a start!

I hope you have a creative 2015! Cheers!

Image

Festive Felines

Two Cats Napping

Two Cats Napping

I’m still at the stage of being in love with this one, it’s great to feel like that about something you have just created. It’s not that I can’t see room for improvement – there’s always something – but I was trying a few things that I’ve been too cautious about in the past and found to my delight that being bold can have great results.

I enjoyed playing with the colours and light in my first portrait in colour. The tricky part was combining separate reference images with different lighting – something I had shied away from before. It probably isn’t as accurate as it might have been if I had worked from a single photo, but I think it encouraged me to be creative and I made the light warmer and softer as a result – making the fur on the tabby, Garlic purplish. It almost has the look of a picture book illustration.

I’m so glad that I was able to finish it a little earlier than expected and got it sent in time for Christmas. Emma ordered the pastel painting of her best friend’s cats as a gift after a tough year and both ladies were enthusiastic about the result.

I hope you all have a great New Year.

Image

Pony Portrait

Highland Pony Portrait

Highland Pony Portrait

I was very keen to share this one but as it was commissioned as a festive gift, I had to wait until it had been received!

I loved working on this piece, the reference photo (courtesy of the pony’s owner) was great because it showed off both the details of his face from a dynamic angle and I feel the result is a portrait full of character.

The woman who ordered it for one of her daughters, also commissioned me to do the previous Highland Pony portrait for her own home. It was a pleasure to deliver both to her.

The two portraits side by side

The two portraits side by side

I have one more completed pastel painting of two felines to share once I get the go ahead that it has been received. It is my first pastel portrait in full colour and was also a lot of fun. I’d better get creating something new to share soon too!

Image

Playing with Abstraction

I’ve never created abstract art before so the October Challenge on Paint my Photo was certainly a challenge. I’m not sure if the end result is truly abstract but it was a fun experiment.

The idea was to create an abstract piece with patterns from one reference and then use autumn colours from another. I had the idea early on in the month that I wanted to do something with geese. The sound of their autumn migration is a real symbol of the season to me and I thought I could do something with the triangular shapes they make in the sky. I had time to let the idea develop whilst I was working on other projects like the horse portrait I posted yesterday.

I chose two references of flying Canada/Canadian Geese by Lynton Bolton (here and here). Of course, with Canada Geese I just had to go for Maple leaves for my colour reference and this one by Rodney Campbell was just right. I also used my own reference of rain making ripples on water.

My first attempt in my sketchbook ended up too dark, so I started over on pastel paper. Last night I just got stuck into it and I surprised myself with the result. I really like the combination of the more organic background and the bold subject. There are areas that could have done with more refinement, but as a quick, fun piece to let me enter the challenge in time and then move on to the rest of my ‘to do’ list, I think it came out pretty well.

Abstract Pastel Painting of Canadian Geese

Abstract Pastel Painting of Canadian Geese

It’s worth me remembering to have fun and experiment like this. I can have a tendency to be too earnest and particular. Loose, playful pieces like this can hopefully give me the confidence to be bolder and work more expressively.

You can see the wonderful variety of responses to the challenge in the album at Paint My Photo.

Have you tried something new to boost your creativity recently?

Image

Equine Deja vu

This Highland pony may be familiar – it was commissioned after my friend’s mum saw the artwork I created for her daughter’s birthday and uses the same reference photos which were taken by her family.

Missy in Pastels version 2.0

Missy in Pastels version 2.0

I hope that there has been even a small improvement in the way I handle pastels, because the first portrait I did of Missy was the first time I had used pastels and I’ve had a bit of practice now.

My friend got me some vouchers for art supplies for my birthday earlier this month. I need to have a think about how best to spend them. My tabletop easel is on it’s last legs and needs replacing – ideally with something that will support larger pieces on. I also want to upgrade my pastels and try out some rougher papers to allow me to work in more layers. So I’ll have fun shopping.

I got a great book on pastels from my husband for my birthday which I’m reading at the moment, hopefully I’ll be able to try out some new techniques soon.

I’ve started work on a quick fun project for the monthly Paint My Photo challenge for October. A bit last minute and out of my comfort zone because I’ve never created anything abstract. But I’m enjoying just playing with bold colours even if the final result isn’t a winner.

Next up, I’ve got a few gifts and gift commissions that I won’t be able to share on this blog until they are received. Hopefully I’ll also have time to experiment with gouache, create a pastel portrait of my border collie and work on branding and illustration for my art business.

Image

Paint My Photo… of Cadair Idris

I’ve submitted this for the September panoramic mountain scenery challenge over on Paint My Photo. I’m not 100% happy with it, but I’m just noodling flakes of pastel around trying to get them to stick now, so I may as well move onto the next project. So we’ll call it finished, shall we?

Photographing Cadair Idris over Llyn Cau, Snowdonia. Soft pastel and Pastel Pencil 80.5cm x 16.5 cm

Photographing Cadair Idris over Llyn Cau, Snowdonia. Soft pastel and Pastel Pencil 80.5cm x 16.5 cm

The main references I used for the is photo were The Photographer by Sharon Whitley (of Gary Jones) and this stunning shot of Llyn Cau and Cadair Idris by Gary Jones.

I don’t know if both photos were taken at the same time and place, but they fitted together so well I hope they were. To fit them both in the same panoramic scene, I needed to alter the perspective of Cadair Idris, so I found two further photographs of the mountain by Gary and Sharon helpful. I even put in the sheep, though obviously they are very small in my painting.

Here are a couple of close ups on the detailed areas though now I look at the first one I’ve accidentally lightened it too much when I was preparing it for uploading:

Can you spot the three sheep?

Can you spot the three sheep? They are tiny!

Detail of Photographer Gary Jones

Detail of Photographer Gary Jones

I find it hard to get in fine detail at this scale in pastel using my current materials but I enjoy the challenge. Maybe I’ll be able to treat myself to some new materials for my birthday!

I’ve got a couple of Pet portrait commissions up next so that’s different again, and then I have a present to work on, and if the October Paint My Photo challenge captures my interest then I’ll likely want to attempt that too. So a busy month ahead, do you have projects stacking up ahead of you too?

I’ll leave you with me experimenting with digitally with blending out the paper join, and adding a digital frame:

Soft Pastel and Pastel Pencils 80.5cm x 16.5 cm with digital frame.

Soft Pastel and Pastel Pencils 80.5cm x 16.5 cm with digital frame.

Posts about this piece in progress

Image

Further Progress on Cadair Idris

I was glad to be able to work on this painting through the night whilst waiting for the results of the Scottish independence referendum. I still have a lot of work to do on the details as you can see but it is really beginning to take shape. Llyn Cau is a spectacular tarn or corrie loch/lake. It should be finished in time for the Paint my Photo September Challenge.

Most areas now blocked in but they need further refinement and details

Most areas now blocked in but they need further refinement and details

Reference photos:
The Photographer – by Sharon Whitley (of photographer Gary Jones)
Llyn Cau by Gary Jones
Cadair Idris over Llyn Cau by Gary Jones

As for the result, I know many people will be disappointed with the result and that is understandable. But I am relieved to still be in a political union with our nearest neighbours in England, Wales and NI. It was poignant to me to be working on a painting of a Welsh scene while waiting for the results.

I went to my new art group this week, who are a very talented but modest bunch. Whilst there I did a sketch of two goldfinches in my sketchbook from a reference brought in by the mentor. I felt that the large panoramic pastel painting would have been too long to transport without risking damage.