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Friday, 26 November 2021
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Anyway, that was the dream. I deviated from it on all sorts of ways, starting with the subject. I couldn't find a good landscape subject, so I went instead for a photo of The Allman Brothers Band. The photo is from the early 90s and looks like it's from the same photo session as the covers on the First Set and Second Set albums. From left to right we have Jaimoe, Allen Woody, Dickey Betts, Greg Allman, Warren Haynes, Marc Quiñones and Butch Trucks.
I started off the way that I was expecting my landscape to work. I just went randomly around the outline of the one big shape using all my brightest colours: sherbet lemon, sun yellow, tangerine, poppy red, chill8 red, fuchsia, violet, bright blue, iris blue,vsea blue, teal green, field green and apple green. I then deviated from my plan a bit by filling I. The gap between these pencils and the edge of the paper using Earth colours: mustard closest to the colours, then baked Earth and finally willow at the edge of the paper.
Then I added the water. With such a big area to cover, there was the danger of paint drying too quickly for the whole shape to work together. So I watered it in outwardly radiating stripes. I painted in one set of alternating stripes, then filled in the gaps. I think they work.
Then I looked at the painting and thought that the white shapes looked too white and underworked. So I decided to add some quite faint details, I started with any facial hair or any long hair that wasn't touching the edges. This I did using the yellowish colour that was in my still wet brush. I then added some faint lines to this in poppy red and, still not entirely happy, then added some random things like belts, hands in pockets and trainer decorations, which was just enough to make these white shapes start looking like people.
It,s possible in a painting like this to actually get some good likenesses. The three in the middle look pretty good to me.
Overall, I rate this one as successful and am putting it up for sale. The craziness of the idea, the radiating lines, the likenesses and the subtlety of those marks in the figures all seem to work. It's good to do something different with the inktense pencils once in a while.
Sunday, 21 November 2021
Thursday, 18 November 2021
Wednesday, 17 November 2021
Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Anyway, about the portrait. I was working from a black and white photo, so decided to start off with grey tones. I thought this would bring out some of the white highlights in his hair but it also clashes against the personality of someone who only believed in black and white. I added a few proper flesh tones to the greys later on. And I added a dark background, which helped me improve the shape of his chin.
Likeness-wise, if you cover up the mouth, the eyes and hair are unmistakeable. The mouth isn't quite right though. Probably a mistake to have him smiling.
This one will be included in the Christ's Maths Fellows 1982-86 collection. The collection will be put up for sale but is too niche for there to be any reasonable likelihood of it selling.
Sunday, 14 November 2021
It's time to start a new portrait collection. I was feeling a bit short of ideas and a bit out of form so thought I'd do portraits of the four maths fellows from my days at Christ's College, Cambridge, 1982-86. The idea is to just get a bit better at portraits without the pressure of having to come up with something that I can sell. Because, let's face it, nobody's likely to want to buy this collection even if it comes out perfectly.
First up is Professor Peter Landshoff. Doctor Landshoff (as he was, back in the day) was the only one of those four fellows to be into applied maths, let alone mathematical physics. So he was the one whose interests most overlapped with mine. Unfortunately, though, he was the only one of the four not to be a supervisor (that means the only one not to provide tutorials to two students at a time). My only real contact with him was to ask whether he'd be prepared to put his student entertainment budget towards the Christ's mathy dinner, and he was always willing to do this. And while I never had any Landshoff supervisions, I did enjoy his lecture course on Electrodynamics in my first year. Oh, and he co-wrote the go to book on quantum electrodynamics. A top guy.
I tried to continue the good work from the Bond villains collection by including some unorthodox skin tones. Today it was pink and lime green, although the impact of them has been damped down by greys and flesh tones. Likeness-wise, there's definitely something if him there and I think he'll be easily recognisable once grouped with the rest of the squad. There's a little bit of my Knights Templar headmaster coming through as well though. This also happened in my Doctor No.
Anyway, Professor Landshoff's not for sale. The Christ's Maths Fellows collection may go up for sale at some point but without any expectation of being sold.
Friday, 12 November 2021
Tuesday, 26 October 2021
Ok, it's been a while but I'm back painting again today. I suspect that it,s going to be too cold to paint outside until the Spring, so there won't be any oil pastels or watercolours until then and that I'll instead be cozy indoors using the markers and inktense pencils. Anyway, today it was the inktense pencils. Give a big hand to today's model Katya. It's her first time so make her feel welcome.
As usual, I started with a pencil drawing. Recently I've been trying to copy the photos by dividing the paper up into squares but today's was freehand and I think it looks OK. Then came the colours. Today it was deep indigo, then violet, then bright blue, then shiraz and finally leaf green, which is becoming a real favourite, adding exotic flesh tones while contrasting against the red.
After I activated all the ink with water, I realised that the bottom of Katya's bottom leg was wrong. I think I'd treated a big shadow area on the leg as if it were a big shadow on the table. So I added some more ink there and it's gone on maybe a bit too thick.
I also couldn't keep my hands off the huge empty area on the paper, so I added Katya's name just to be a bit different. While it emphasises that the model here is a real human being and makes you wonder what she's thinking, I don't think it really works. I'd have been better off leaving it empty.
Overall, not too bad for the first painting in a while. But not good enough to go up for sale, being spoilt by the caption and the bottom leg. A shame because this was a fantastic pose by Katya.
Saturday, 23 October 2021
Saturday, 9 October 2021
Remember Hartlip Church In The Snow from a month or so ago? I gave it to Barbara next door as an 80th birthday present. Well, her daughter pulled me to one side at the party and told me that the painting was now up on the wall, on one side of a bigger painting, and that she thought it would be good to have another painting on the other side, maybe of their house…? So I've picked up a commission.
There was one constraint though. This painting of the house needed to be in portrait format. That ruled out any painting of the whole house. So I homed in on the front door and took some photos laying down on the drive to get some three points perspective going on. But then I realised the bit sticking out the front of the house looked just like the porch of the church. Which gave me an idea. Why not make these two paintings really go together by using the same set of colours and (let's really go for it) make it a snow painting?
So the colours, as for the church painting were cerulean blue, rose dore, raw sienna and Indian yellow: a mix of warm green and cool orange colour keys. Winsor red also came in later on but, wing another warm red like rose dore, leaves the keys unchanged. And obviously, there's titanium white there too.
So, after putting down a pencil drawing, I masked out all the white door frames, window frames and trimmings. I also masked out some white snowy bits on upward facing surfaces and put down a load of spatters for falling snow.
Then came the sky and some underpainting. The underpainting included the big shadow on the house, the shadow of a car on the drive and some initial shadows and Indian yellow highlights on the plants in the garden. The house I covered fairly randomly in all sorts of yellows, reds and blues. It looked terrible but underpaintings always do and my confidence never slipped. I spattered on mute masking fluid after the underpainting to get some different coloured snowflakes.
Then it was just a matter of putting two or three coats of colour over all the shapes, gradually creeping towards the colours that I wanted. In the later coats, I was starting to get some 3D effects going on in the door and a tiny belt of detail/texture in the brickwork and the upstairs tiles. The rose dore was being a bit of a pain with the red door, either looking too orange or too garish or both, so I found myself reaching for the Winsor red. The two reds together got me to an acceptable door colour. I also found that the Winsor red could get me to a better roof colour and to a nice dark for the TV aerial and the outdoor light. The rose dore was good for the brickworks, though, so I think I needed both reds.
Then came the fun bit. Off with the masking fluid, leaving lots of bright white. To tone down the whites, I put cerulean blue on the most shadowy bits of snow and some watery variegated blues/reds/yellows on all the white bits of the house.
Did I say that was the fun bit? No. There was even more fun to come. The painting looked good at this stage and worth framing but I knew from experience with the church painting how to make it better. I squeezed out a blob of titanium white. With this, I first spattered on lots more falling snow. Then I want over the top of all my existing snow. Where there were cerulean blue shadows in the snow, these mixed well with the white. And, yes I know I've said before that white isn't for mixing. This is different. Finally, I dry brushed more white onto the roof and drive using the edge of the brush. And maybe added more snow in places too.
I think this looks great. Michelle's happy with it so Barbara will be getting it for Christmas. I think she's expecting a painting but has no idea what this is going to look like.
And I think that's me done with watercolour until the Spring. It's just too cold out there. It's back to markers and inktense pencils until then.
Sunday, 3 October 2021
Thursday, 30 September 2021
Saturday, 25 September 2021
Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Monday, 20 September 2021
Saturday, 18 September 2021
Friday, 17 September 2021
Thursday, 16 September 2021
Wednesday, 15 September 2021
Monday, 13 September 2021
Thursday, 9 September 2021
Wednesday, 8 September 2021
Tuesday, 7 September 2021
This post has been planned for a while but it's only now that I've got enough data around to be able to finally put it together.
A while back, I did a post on colour keys. If I do a painting that's dominated by three primaries, there are eight different combinations of warm/cool blue, warm/cool yellow and warm/cool red that I could use. I’ve given these eight combinations names and, for all watercolours that have been based around three primaries, I've been stating in the posts which key I've painted in. What I'm doing today, though, is grouping together paintings by key in an attempt to identify common themes within individual keys and to just understand the keys a bit better. Basically, I'm a scientist at heart (more of a scientist than an artist) and I want to look at some experimental results and learn things.
First up is purple cool, made up of warm/purpley blue, cool/purpley red and cool/greeny yellow:
Interestingly, these paintings are not always purpley. If there's purple anywhere, it tends to be in some cold looking skies. This key is capable of producing a wide range of colours (check out the two guys from the Hateful Eight in the middle). On the other hand, look at the two on the right in the middle row - when used with a bit of finesse, this key is great for painting chilly village mornings. And there are a couple in the top row that are a bit dark and show how important it is to control values in this key.
Next, purple warm, made up of warm/purpley blue, cool/purpley red and warm/orangey yellow: