All that glitters must surely be from Essex

All that glitters must surely be from Essex
Oil and glitter on canvas

Monday, 19 August 2013

Corner cutting and drawing in the dark

With canvas procured I went off to the studio today with a spring in my step and Paloma Faith blasting out of the car.  After a lot of planning and research I could get underway.  I have to admit I envisage this work to be on a larger scale, however the constraints of boot size and with no access to a larger vehicle, I had to go with a size that I could get to and from my studio space.

So without anymore delay I'm staring at the slightly overwhelming sight of a blank canvas.  It doesn't matter how many times in my life I have started a new piece, I always find the sight of a blank canvas daunting. BUT, that soon disappeared as this was the first chance for me to give my new toy a whirl.  I've bought a tracer, and before you start thinking "cheat!", I'm using it to project my own drawings onto larger canvases.  I am corner cutting yes, however it saves a lot of time and frustration measuring and scaling up and I am happy to use technology as a part of the process.

So the next question was composition; in my preparatory sketch of the Roman gate it was landscape, but I wanted the painting to be portrait.  So how much to include.....
Apologies for the quality of the pictures above, but I was taking them on my camera phone in the dark!  After a lot of walking from one side of my studio (now when I say walking, my studio space is rather bijou, so it is more like taking 2 steps!) to the other, tilting my head one way, then the other and talking to myself an AWFUL lot, I decided to go with the composition on the right.  I thought it more dynamic and envisaged the whole composition working better.  I preferred the proportions of sky to gateway and floor here.  If you have read my previous posts you will know that I am creating a layered landscape.  I will not only be painting but also collaging and including images from Colchester's rather colourful past.  Rather than painting just a snapshot of a place in a particular moment in time, I will be getting under it's skin; almost like an archaeologist scraping away layers of time.  I'm a geek and proud, so this work taps into my love of history and research.  See....geek!!!!

With my composition decided upon, then started my next challenge....find a pencil!  How does an artists' studio not have a pencil in it?! I really have no idea what happened to them all.  I finally managed to locate a "Birdworld" pencil that had obviously been bought for me at some point...probably as a joke I can't really remember, but it was sharp and that was all that mattered.  I started with the outline;

......and then eureka!! Whilst stopping for a quick chocolate break I found 2 graphite sticks...hurrah!!  I then began working the darker shades into the surface and giving it extra detail.  I'm working in the dark with the projector and can't really see a thing, so there's no way I can paint like that.  I needed to get as much detail into the drawing as possible to be a guide for the layers of paint that will follow.
I kept the mark making quick and loose as when I come to paint, although working from my original sketch (see previous posts) I want to still have freedom.  With too much information it will constrain the brush strokes and the painting will loose it's energy.

So after 20 or so minutes, working into the image and adding more to the left hand side, making the gateway disappear off to the left hand side of the canvas, I had enough information in the drawing to be to begin drawing on my next studio session.  Here's where I left it and will post the works progress here once the painting is underway so stay tuned.

Monday, 12 August 2013

I've been bad!

I cannot believe my last post on here was May!  I know, I know the most successful blogs are those which are updated regularly.  It has been an incredibly busy few months and I still have to buy a canvas to start the piece that has been in the pipeline for months now!

I've also started as a blogger with UK Arts directory so keep in touch with me over there at  I'm doing a regular stint looking at the up's and down's of becoming a professional artist, it's a little less personal than my blog here, bit more discursive but i'm really enjoying working with the team, they're a great bunch who work to promote all of the creative industries here in the UK.

A trip to Istanbul has given me a lot of ideas for a new series of works, I haven't even finished my Essex series yet and with York in the pipeline as well i need to get busy with the paintbrushes.

Open Studio season is also upon us, so if you are local to Essex (the one in the UK not America) and you're not busy on the weekend of the 5th/6th Sept then come and join us to see some fantastic artwork...I'm not just talking about me here either! you'll find me in the Artists Directory at the top of the page along with all the other wonderful artists (plug, plug, plug!)

There will be a lot more being posted her in the next couple of months, pictures updates on the new painting, Open Studios pictures and plans of the next series.  So sorry for the blog white noise over the last couple of months, I'll more than make up for it...I promise!