Wednesday, 13 February 2019

13/2: WIP Grey Man from Lyon

Managed to get another half day to work on this CP portrait as I'd love to get it finished before the weekend

I added more layers to his hat to darken the grey colour.    I then worked more on his skintones and although it may not be obvious there are about 8 more layers of colour laid down (very gently with a sharp pointed pencil).

The great thing about WIP photos is that they show up errors that aren't always obvious to the naked eye ... in this case I saw that his right eye (left as we look at it) was much paler than the other one.

Then I got bored with skintones and moved onto his jacket/jumper:

again the light was poor today so the white paper has photographed with a very grey tinge



Next update:

I photographed this in a different room so now I have a 'pink' cast to the photo .... oh well!

I've added a suggestion of knitted pattern to his jacket





I do need to go back to work on his skin/beard ... but reasonably happy with progress so far.


Monday, 31 December 2018

Goodbye 2018 (and good riddance)!

 I wish everybody a Happy and Healthy (and Productive) New Year

As some of my friends will know, the last half of 2018 has been pretty dreadful for us.

We lost my Sister-in-Law to pancreatic cancer (aged 56), my step-daughter's long term partner to Heart failure (totally unexpected - he was just 42 and leaves a 3 year old and 7 year old) - my best friend is battling HER2 breast cancer (nasty one) and now my brother in law is diagnosed with prostate cancer (having just recovered from a bleed on the brain earlier this year).

So I am very happy to say goodbye to 2018.

I've done no artwork for several months but am looking forward to picking up the pencils again in 2019.

.... we are flying to our home in the Canaries tomorrow to start the New Year with some much needed sunshine and happy times.   I'm looking forward to getting back to the drawing board and to Blogging again next year although David (hubby) has itchy feet and has booked us on lots of trips for the first half of 2019 ...

We'll be going to Malaysia/Singapore and to Kenya (another safari) and to and from Fuerteventura in between times.

The last post I made here was of the little dog which I'd been asked to do as a memorial for a client whose horse I'd portrayed before.     I should have completed this in October but it didn't happen.

Yesterday I thought I'd finish it but I realised that if I continued it as a 'portrait orientation' I'd either have to truncate it at the neck or draw in the front legs - the ref shows the dog in a strange position as its body is twisted.

An artist whose opinion I respect once contacted me to say he liked my animal portraits but WHY did I follow the trend of cutting the animal off at the neck and that I should work on bringing the body down to the bottom or the side of the paper.    I've tried to stick to that rule ever since.    With this one it doesn't work - or at least it doesn't work if I want to make it a standard size to fit an 'off the shelf mount/frame'.

So, I wondered about making it landscape orientation - that does fit a standard mount/frame ... but I'm not sure.

Anyway, my plan is to send it as a freebie to the client (who has probably long given up on me ever doing the drawing) as an apology (or a thank you for getting me started back on portraiture).

If its going to be portrait orientation its like this:

I'd need to work something out re. the legs.



If I chop it off to make it landscape orientation (a smaller picture) it'll look like this:  less work but I'm not convinced!





Sunday, 26 August 2018

26/08: What dreadful weather today

It has been as wet and gloomy (and cold) as an October day ... yesterday wasn't a lot better so the light hasn't been good enough to do much artwork.

We're travelling to Fuerte at silly hour tomorrow - leaving home at 2.30am for a 5.40am flight so have just been pottering today - cleaning the house ready for daughter's arrival and filling up the birdseed feeders etc.

This is the little dog commission I started - its around halfway done but the muzzle area needs lots of work and her chest hair/fur has to be added.  Once the base colour is down I need to go back and add fine detail and give her eyes a lovely twinkle

Its pastel on pastelmat and a little smaller than I normally do - the image is around A4 size (roughly 8" x 12") so its a challenge keeping the pastel pencils sharp enough for fine detail


Wednesday, 22 August 2018

22/08: Practice Piece - Lion in Pastel on Fisher 400 sanded paper

Its a long time since I worked on Fisher 400 - I used to love it but am struggling this time.  I think its probably nothing to do with the paper, more that I've lost a bit of confidence as I'm not getting enough practice these days ...

So I'm treating this as a practice piece.   I will draw more animals from photos taken in Kenya earlier this year and hopefully will soon get back up to speed.

My camera insists on turning the paper white and the lion rather red.   I've tried David's camera and got slightly better results but still had to adjust the image a lot to get it close to 'proper' colours.     I do tend to wait will early evening to take the photos so its probably tied up with the poor light.

Anyway, enough ramblings. .... 

see what I mean about strange hues ... Fisher 400 is sandpaper - sort of yellowy but the camera tries to turn it white or grey.


I've adjusted this but it still not true to life


Another adjusted one - pretty poor really .... the lion isn't finished but I need to start something different tomorrow.    Although Fisher 400 doesn't really need fixative I've sprayed this lightly which will stop me fiddling with it till the fixative dries


I've agreed to portray a dog for a returning client.   I'm not really taking on commissions at the moment but this client provided such wonderful ref. photos for her horse portrait that I assumed the dog photos would be equally good ... they weren't!

Sadly the dog has recently passed away and all ref. photos were taken on a mobile phone and too small for me to work from.    However, the client has now found one photo that is a better size so I'm able to zoom in and get enough detail.     So I need to make a start before we set off on our travels again next week.   

I'll spend a couple of afternoons on it then I'll have to clean the pastel dust from my room (and any other place I trail it) before our house-sitter arrives.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

21/08: A few 'arty' bits

As well as spending days looking for and reworking old family photos, I have done a few arty things

I have a couple of older works on exhibition at a local vineyard.   The owners have decorated an old barn  on their land and painted the walls white in order to display pictures as an additional attraction to visitors.   They only open to the public on Saturdays but the display will be hung there for 6 weeks.    Its a first for them, and for the Canterbury Art Society who organised everything.   Worth a punt I think!

I've submitted 'Senor Molina' and Lulu which are both older works so I won't post them here (again).

Friday evening is the Private View so we'll pop over and take a look.   The vineyard is about 30 minutes drive from us.



I'm also going to have a couple of pictures on display at the Bank Holiday Mini Exhibition staged by the Canterbury Art Society at Blean Village Hall this coming holiday weekend.   Over the last few years I've been fortunate enough to have sales at this little show so am hoping for a repeat this year.     I'm submitting the portrait of the Indian Girl from Olivipe (India).

She was completed in coloured pencil on pastelmat - the picture looks a bit darker here than in real life.


and the 'black on black' labrador in coloured pencil that I was 'playing' with earlier this Summer.   In the end I decided to put more of a background in as the dog just didn't stand out as much as I'd hoped.

I had a big tidy up in my 'studio' in the week and got rid of lots of older works - in some cases I was able to salvage the frames and this is one of them which I think complements the dog nicely.




I've done a few minor tweaks on the portrait of Thierry (man from Sunset Loung beach bar in Corralejo) but have put him to one side for the moment as I've got a bit bored with him.    I know if I leave the portrait alone for a while I'll come back to it with fresh eyes and more enthusiasm.    This is how he has been left:


and for the last couple of afternoons I've been working on something totally different.   I've gone back to pastels on sandpaper (sore fingertip alert) and am tackling a lion that I photographed in Kenya in June.     Its quite refreshing to be working on wildlife again so this has rekindled my enthusiasm a little.

Photos in the next update!


21/08: Old Family Photos

I won't apologise for the long gap in posts (again) ... somehow life keeps getting in the way. 

A couple of years ago (or maybe longer) I 'cleaned up' some old family photographs and framed them to hang on the wall in my Mum's flat.

My brother recently asked me to print copies for him to hang in his house ... but I couldn't find them in my computer files anywhere.   I just can't believe I did all the work on them and didn't save them.   But over the course of 2 afternoons I checked every single photo file on my computer just in case the photos had inadvertently been dragged to the wrong file.  I even check back over FB and Blogger Posts in case I'd posted them there (which I thought I had actually)  Zilch

So I got the originals from Mum and re-worked them.    Here are the Before and After pics.

An old photo of my Mum - faded, torn in places and with my brother's handwriting!


and the cleaned up version - I used Photoshop Elements 12 ... but I'm a bit of a technophobe and just used the simplest tools - but it made a huge difference.


Mum (and little me) in the garden at my maternal Grand-parents' house


and with the background 'blurred' and cropped and the picture sharpened a bit

My maternal Grandparents - Bob and Daisy - original photo


enhanced photo with tears and marks removed, background blurred a bit  and a bit more definition in the foreground



I couldn't do very much with the (small) photos of my Great Grandparents.   The first photo is of my Grandad (Bob's) parents - my Gt Grandparents

Original photo with the shadow of the photographer spoiling it


I've brightened the photo a bit, slightly blurred the background, removed the shadows and cropped the picture to fit a standard photo frame







and then my other Gt Grandparents on the maternal side (Daisy's parents).  The photo is small and faded




I brightened it a bit, removed the 'washing line' and blurred the background a bit


So now I have these safely stored on computer and have printed out copies for my brother to frame and hang ... phew!