Sunday, 23 January 2011

More Kitchen Table

I had hoped to get outside with the oils with the recent easing of the weather but the old back hasn't been up to it. Consequently the best chance to get some painting done is the kitchen and some of the flowers that are around the house.

The greens are still a bit of a struggle, nowhere near as convincing as some I was producing just a couple of months ago. I need to take a leaf from other colleagues and spend a bit of time just working on colour swatches to sharpen up my colour mixing.

With this one I should have got in the tones on the table before making a delicate shadow shape, at the moment there is an inconsistency with the current rendition. I got another drawing done so when we get some light tomorrow I've got another to go at hopefully with some better greens. That's the agenda for the morning.

Tulips - watercolour on rough paper 12" x 9"

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

January Project

The latest in the series of projects that I share with my friend Peter Ward. This month I put up the photograph below which is an image of a bandstand in one of our local parks. I chose this because of the challenges provided by the snow and light conditions.

Mowbray Park Bandstand - Photograph

This turned out to be difficult in terms of deciding on a style, part of my personal search for a way of making images that is my own. Whereas with some subject matter I find it easier to adopt a loose approach this picture pushed me to a tighter way of operating. As usual parts of the finished piece please me and others less so. My main disappointment is with the foreground where depiction of the snow and shadows is particularly problematic. I tried to make it other than a slavish copy and introduce a few loose strokes but having done so I think that that whole section of the painting looks a little at odds with the upper portions. Nevertheless the whole exercise has been stimulating and I look forward to next month's exercise.

Mowbray Park Bandstand - watercolour on Not paper 16" x 12"

Monday, 17 January 2011

Gallery Shows

John Lavery - The Tennis Party

Last week gave me an opportunity to have a couple of days in London and catch a couple of gallery shows before they ended later in January.

The first show was another chance to spend some time with one of my favourite groups of painters, the Glasgow Boys. Many of the paintings in the show are ones that I've seen in various gallery visits but not before all in the same place, so a real treat.

The Glasgow Boys were a group who challenged the conventional Academy wisdom of the day by taking up ideas deriving from French painters of the Barbizon School and Impressionists. In particular the method of painting en plein air became an important element in their approach. Linking this to an interest in more natural subject matter was the key to their methodology.
Some of these works are among my favourite pictures and I thoroughly enjoy the technique and subject material of some of their members, particularly James Guthrie.

James Guthrie - Hard at It

James Guthrie - A Hind's Daughter

James Guthrie - To Pastures New

James Guthrie - A Funeral Service in the Highlands

The second show that I chose to visit was the Tate Modern presentation of Paul Gauguin, Maker of Myth. A different set of paintings as Gauguin shifts away from naturalist interpretations and pushes our understanding of colour, form and perspective and marks a shift towards more modernist image making. There is no doubt that this has been an impressive exhibition but as I write it has just closed and sad to say opportunities like this do not occur very often.

Paul Gauguin - The Ancestors of Tehamana

Paul Gauguin - Nevermore O Tahiti

Paul Gauguin - Self Portrait

The curation of the Gauguin show was interesting in way that the rooms were laid out thematically. Titles such as Identity and Self Mythology, Fictions of Femininity and Making the Familiar Strange give a flavour of the thinking behind the organisation.

Exciting though these fabulous shows are do think that there needs to be some thought given by galleries as to how they organise access, in particular in terms of numbers of people. It's a real challenge to reconcile the need to balance the different considerations of allowing access to the maximum number of people, financial returns and comfortable viewing. One thought that came to mind whilst wandering the Gauguin was that there are different reasons for attending exhibitions from casual interest to serious study and that may be worth thinking about in terms of how one caters for those different needs. The reason I mention this is the fact that I came away from Tate Modern feeling that I'd not had the best of it having had to negotiate the huge crowd and finding it impossible to spend sufficient time in front of the works that caught my attention. However, it's better to have had the chance to see the show rather than not having been allowed to experience them at all.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Welsh Miner

Welsh Miner - Watercolour on Not paper 14" x 11"

Found a little bit of time to add some context to the picture of a miner in the last post. The source photograph was a group of miners with terraced houses in the background so I decided to show some similar homes with the addition of a pit head wheel house.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Struggle Indeed

Regular readers will know that it is over a month since my last post and that absence indicates a state of inactivity on the painting front. Holidays, company, family celebrations, grandchild sitting and excess induced inertia have had the brushes well and truly redundant.

In preparation for the monthly project I moistened the paints and squeezed out some fresh pigment and had a bash at a favourite subject, flowers on the kitchen table. You may have heard me mention in the past that regular practise is the key to consistency, well these efforts are a case in point. In fact the main reason for posting them at all is to give myself the appropriate boot up the rear and get down to some more serious work.

Flowers - watercolour on rough paper

You will notice that the first piece attempted has resulted in an unfinished picture. It is not usual for me to abandon a work but my inconsistency in paint application became a mental barrier on this occasion and I decided that instead of soldiering on I should step back and reflect on why I was dissatisfied.

Below are two details that I think get to the heart of my problem. In the first I've managed to get some decent paint in the irises with some variety of colour and interest. Now compare that with the weak colour in the second detail. The greens lack any depth or vibrancy. For me this inconsistency kills the balance in the piece and the reason is mostly down to the painting muscles being out of use for so long and then finding difficulty in what is a difficult technique anyway, that of getting the consistency of the paint right before laying it on the paper.

Detail 1

Detail 2

The next session had me attempt another interest of mine, old photographs of the mining communities and their use as subjects for study. Whilst this picture has problems of its own I started to get the feel of the paint again. Hopefully, the next session will produce another step in the right direction.

Miner - watercolour on Not paper

A little thought at the start of the new year and that is a thanks to all of you who have visited and given me food for thought and inspiration. Last year was a big learning experience for me and resulted in me entering the world of selling artists. That has been a real novelty and very flattering that there are people out there who have enjoyed my work sufficiently well to put their hands in their pockets and buy them.

Hopefully next year will be as exciting and full of similar learning experiences.