Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back to the easel

Hell I've been doing a lot of drawings in the last two months. A tentative foray into graphite has resulted in a flood of drawings based on my Antarctic trip, both photos and memories. This has been cool, great fun and my drawing has improved beyond all recognition with all the practice.

Check this lot out:

Antarctic drawings

Lots more to come to, I have a folder of references and ideas that, no matter how many drawings I do, seems to still be growing. Enjoyable as all this pencil dust has been I have been missing my painting. Today I got back into my studio and started a full colour pastel painting...such a relief to be free of the constraints of graphite!

Here's progress to far, it's the bow of a wreck here in the Falklands; the Protector at New Island. I like the conflicting lines of the image, the planks of the hull/the remains of the copper sheathing/the streaks of rust from the hawsehole. This is 0n 50 X 70cm light grey pastel mat.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Drawing with brushes

I just can't leave graphite alone now, the genie's out of the bottle...or the jar, in this case a jar of Cretacolor graphite powder. If there's an element that irritates me about graphite it's the slow process of filling in large areas of shading, sure a blending stump and a putty rubber helps but it's still a slow old game laying down the area of shade with a pencil or stick. I recently ordered some bits and pieces to upgrade my drawing kit, foremost being a 2mm propelling pencil to replace the dozen or so steadler HB's I need to keep on sharpening (I like to always have a sharp pencil to hand), this natty tool and it's neat drum sharpener is as great as I remember them being way back when I used to do technical drawing, a gimlet point, easy in the hand and dead quick and clean to sharpen. Anyway, I digress, along with the usual consumables (stumps, erasers and so on) I had a punt on a jar of graphite powder, something I've never used before.

It's very different, dead quick to apply with a brush and very movable, one can keep on shifting it around with a brush or stump for ever and it lifts off incredibly easily with a putty rubber. It'll take a bit of practice to get the hang of but I suspect that this is the end of shading tedium. It's odd drawing with a brush mind.

Friday, November 9, 2012

'X' marks the spot

Well... not really, much as this might look like a prop from Treasure Island it is actually my first attempt at an ilustrated map of a part of the Falklands. I've just come back from two days on Sealion Island; My wife and I were gathering images for our second Barnaby Bear book, and I thought I'd have a crack at using some to produce this:

This is ink and graphite and features some of the iconic wildlife of the island. This was an interesting experiment, a few things didn't work as well as I'd have liked but it went quite well. I'll probably be revisiting this subject.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interesting times.

Looking back at the last couple of months I see . . . well . . . not much; here on my blog. I do, however, have an excuse. I've reached a crossroads; at long last I've made the decision that at some level I know I've needed to make for a while, to bin my printing and embroidery business (my primary source of employment and income). It's not a sensible choice but an inevitable one, under my managment the business was doomed to failure, once you find it impossible to motivate yourself to do more than 'just enough', and sometimes not even that, then it's time to roll the dice, to get out while the goings good, so that is what I'm doing. In the next few months I'll be busy with assisting the transition of the ongoing business to the new owner/operator but after that . . . well, there should be a bit more activity to be seen on the art front. The relief I feel at this is surprising, I'll be poor but able to take up opportunities that with a regular job would be impossible, interesting times indeed.

Anyway, in spite of that I have been doing more art than just farting around with sketching and my new pens, here's a couple of painting commissions I've completed in the last month or so:

Duke, soft pastels on 30 X 40cm yellow pastelmat.

Ruby, soft pastels on 35 X 50cm grey pastelmat.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pens and pencils

Last week I got some new toys, a set of Copic multiliners. Drawing with pens is something I've been meaning to tackle for a while now, now I can have a crack at it with some decent pens rather than any old biro which has been the limit of my ink drawing equipment up till now.

Here's a few birds drawn with these, I'm rather enjoying drawing in ink, an interesting discipline.

In the last few days I've also made a start on doing some work based on my Antarctic trip, I'm planning quite a body of work on this subject so these graphite drawings are going to be the first of many.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Same subject, different media.

This is something I've been been meaning to do for a while, take one subject and paint/draw it in different media. The subject is a single Pale Maiden (that's the flower by the way, not an actual maiden). One version in graphite (as in my last post), one in inktense pencils and graphite and one in soft pastels.

'Twas interesting doing this, the pencil and inktense drawings were satisfying but I still find the constraint of pencil media frustrating to work with, power to the pastels!

Graphite on cartridge paper:

Inktense & graphite on cartridge paper:

Soft pastels on white pastelmat:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Foray into the land of graphite

Graphite? that's what's in pencils isn't it? If you're familiar with my work you'll have noticed that there's not much of this particular form of carbon to be seen. In the past I've preferred to work with the rougher, looser medium of charcoal.
Last weekend I took home a sketchpad and whatever graphite pencils I could find lurking in the studio with the hope of finally getting into working with this elusive medium. Oddly enough after perusing my reference archive I've ended up working in and entirely new subject for me as well, flowers.

These are Pale Maidens, the national flower of the Falkland Islands. Both on A4 cartridge paper.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Horses? Schmorses

Well....it was bound to happen one day, I've had an inquiry about doing a portrait of a horse. This is a subject I've shied away from in the past (fnar fnar) but I've been meaning to have a go at. This, of course, has given me the kick I needed to try it.

So I dug out a reference courtesy of the Artist Reference Photos facebook page and had a crack at my first ever horse painting.

   Horse 1, soft pastels on 30 X 40 cm yellow pastelmat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mini exhibition

The 14th of June is the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. This is always an important day here and this year there's a lot being laid on in the run up to the day for all the people travelling to the islands to mark the anniversary.

In Fox Bay there's a display on in our social club of what's happening out here in the camp and the organiser suggested that I might like to exhibit some of my paintings. Of course I jumped at the chance so here it is, my mini-exhibition. Twelve paintings, two days (12th and 13th of June).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Leicester Bridge, finished

Finished my Leicester Bridge painting. The composition worked and it's got the mood that I wanted so I'm quite pleased with it.

Must do more of this sort of thing.

Leicester Bridge

Months ago I composed the reference for this project, probably about time I started painting it. This is a ruined timber bridge out on a farm called Leicester Creek, the owner expressed an interest in my painting a picture of the bridge some time ago so I've been meaning to have a crack at the subject for a while.

A departure for me as this is the first time I've attempted a large, architectural subject like this. Got off to a good start but still cna't be sure how this's going to turn out.

Charcoal sketch, 50 X 35 cm grey pastelmat:

Filled in the highlights with white pastel:

 Some detail and colour filled in, the colour is quite washed out so was not sure whether to make this a greyscale painting or to use some colour, descision now made:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Inktense, Neocolour II and oil pastels

Still tinkering with watersoluble colours, Inktense pencils and Neocolour crayons. Struggling a bit with these mediums, I'm too used to the flexability of soft pastels, by comparison these are slow and limiting, you can't be as slapdash as you can with pastels as they don't layer, encroach on a highlight and it's terminal, no matter what you do you've lost that highlight. Still, nothing wrong with a bit of discipline for once.

I decided to have a serious bash at a portrait with these. A3 cartridge paper.

Quite pleased with how the eyes and skin worked, not at all happy with the hair (always difficult anyway I find) or the contrast. Being the impatient sort I then pretty much destroyed it with oil pastels (another medium I've done very little with).

An....interesting effect, can't say I'm convinced of it's application for portraits but interesting none the less. There's a very strong holographic effect from the areas of oil pastel that contrasts oddly with the areas done with inktense and neocolour. This could be useful in more abstract, loose applications. I'm not done with this stuff yet I reckon.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tinkering with new mediums....

For a long time now I've been meaning to dig out my almost unused oil pastels and neocolour water-soluble crayons to have a play with. It's not that I'm wanting to get away from soft pastels, just want to try something a bit different.
Rummaging around in my supplies I also unearthed a treasure I'd forgotten about, a gift from my mother in law that I'd never got round to using, a brand new set of Derwent inktense watersoluble ink pencils. Bonus.

It's odd working with such mediums, very different to use than my soft pastels, very fast to use and very responsive when shaped with a wet brush...I still don't like not being able to layer light on dark though and it's simply impossible to get the intensity of colour of soft pastels, good fun though and a far more portable medium.

Here's a silvery grebe, A3 cartridge paper:

Last week I also finished my second large settlement commission.

Hill Cove, soft pastels, 50 X 70 cm grey pastelmat.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Barbed Wire, finished.

Worked all day on this and I think it's done...can't think of anything else to do to it anyway so that's time to stop. It's pretty much done what I wanted it to, from a distance it looks like a study of the long grass, close to all the barbs appear. From a distance it's conventional, close to it's abstract.

I'm quite pleased with it.

More barbs

Looking at what I've done so far on my Barbed wire painting with fresh eyes this morning I saw that the original idea was lost, this was becoming a simple one dimensional painting of some grass and wire, not what I'd intended at all.

So I've thrown in more barbed wire, not as a literal dipiction but using a trick I've messed around with in the past. A relatively simple shape like the twists of barbed wire can be indicated as an extra layer in the painting by using the direction of pastel strokes rather than colour and shade, the underlying colour is still of the background scene but with the extra element indicated by the texture of the painting. I've not really got this to work before. I'm determined that I will this time though, the effect is still quite subtle, not yet sure how far I'll push it.


Birds! the bloody birds.

My studio is full of birds! it's like a bloody Hitchcock movie. After completing my long overdue Goose in the grass painting I seemed to be in the zone for painting birds and rapidly bashed out another three.

Young hawk 2, this is based on another from the same set of photos that inspired my original young hawk painting. soft pastels and charcoal on 30 X 40 cm white pastelmat.

Rocky 2. The cocky, bumptuous rockhopper penguin, again this is an idea I always intended to do more with, original Rocky painting. Soft pastels on 24 x 30 cm brown pastelmat.

...and lastly a newcomer, a little bird that I've not painted before, a Long Tailed Meadowlark, a shy little bird that lives in mortal fear of cats and sparrowhawks. I wanted to catch the slightly frantic trepidation that these birds always seem to display. Soft pastels on 24 x 30 cm beige pastelmat.

Barbed wire

Just our walking my dogs and in a patch of long grass something catches my eye, on closer inspection it's a tangled piece of rusted barbed wire. Now this is most probably a bit of agricultural detritus but it immediately suggested an idea to me.

It's coming up to the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falklands from Argentine occupation in 1982, this short but bloody conflict left many scars, on the servicmen and women involved, on the families of those who died, on the Islanders who lived through the conflict and on the land itself. It was the latter that struck a chord in this instance, this innocuous bit of rusted metal, tangled and overgrown after many years seemed to take on significance as a metaphor of the effect the conflict has left, it's been a long time and time has healed much of the hurt but the legacy of those bloody days is still here. Question is can I translate that metaphor into a painting?

I'm sure going to try. This is a bit of a departure for me as I'm not working with a definate reference or goal in mind, I just want to see where the idea takes me, possibly even into the unexplored territory of abstraction. Painting by the seat of my pants so to speak.

Charcoal sketch on 50 X 70 cm grey pastelmat:

Progress so far:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Déjà vu

Glad to get that commissioned landscape out of the way last week, now I'm working on....a commissioned landscape....and it's almost fecking identical, 50 X 70 cm (again), foreground, sea, background, sky (again), settlement on West Falkland.....OK, it's a different settlement, Hill Cove this time.

Charcoal underpainting:

Progress so far:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Clearing the boards

For a long time there's been a couple of unfinished works occupying two of my drawing boards....for the best part of six months as a matter of fact. Christ knows what's been holding me back with these, both are fine ideas and there's no reason not to finish them.

One is a simple painting of a nesting goose in the long white grass, illuminated by the low sun. The other is a larger landscape, a sunrise over Stanley looking east from the battle monument, the lights of Ross Road reflecting in the water of the harbour.

Both of these have been lurking in my studio, continually catching my attention almost in reproach at their unfinished state. Well, no longer. Over the last two days I've completed both of these malingering works and both have been incredibly rewarding to finish. Maybe there's some advantage to leaving paintings on hold. I've completed both of these without my usual fiddling with pencils and conte sticks, for the first time I've really found soft pastels working for me. Most satisfying.

Stanley Sunrise, 50 x 70 cm grey pastelmat.

Goose inthe white grass, 35 x 50 cm white pastelmat

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Charcoal drawings

Been doing a bit of work in charcoal recently. I find charcoal is a very rewarding medium, you can't mess about with it, got to keep very much in control but I love working with it, much more interesting than bloody graphite. I use stick charoal and charcoal pencils for any fine detail.

Little boy:

Little Girl:

 Blasted tree (3):

Gnarled roots:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nearly done the 'scape

Nearly finshed, good thing too as I have to drop this off for carriage to the UK the day after tommorrow. Better crack on with it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting there with the Landscape.

Feeling better about this now, think it's going to be pretty cool once it's done. Odd that I ended up doing it in colour, as the reference is an old photo I'd intended it to be almost black and white, just a hint of colour. Funny how sometimes a painting just goes it's own way, I've learnt now that when that happens one has to go with it, to try to force it to go the way you originally intended will ruin it.

Just finished this one too, commissioned portrait of two labradors. 30 X 40 cm grey pastelmat.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Landscape progress

Been cracking on with my Fox Bay landscape commission, going....alright. Can't get too excited about this one. Still, it's working so far so that's OK then.