A year ago, Paul Debois and I collaborated on a project I have talked about on this blog called Wildlings. Paul photographed me painting 'Wild Thing' one of a series of my paintings then made this timelapse video: some people have loved it, some laughed at the comic timing! If it makes you smile, job done!
I painted this earlier this year. I used a photograph by Paul Debois (who I was working with at the time) to paint. I'm not altogether comfortable painting urban scenes, but I like a challenge so I set to...
Prep your canvas. I used cotton drill, a heavy weight cotton primed with gesso or acrylic primer. I decided not to stretch the canvas, but to pin the cotton onto a plywood wall, and use the rough texture as part of the painting. Finally, roughly paint a dilute mix of yellow ochre and white spirit over the canvas to knock back the white primer. Leave to dry-this doesn't take long.
Now I have called this blog easy steps and this painting looks very complicated, but by taking it slowly
and layering it over a few days the final image is revealed.
Roughly paint in the main shapes to give the correct balance to the painting. Then paint in the base colour of the two sets of bricks. The 'white bricks' were mixed with:
Vandyke Brown or Burnt sienna
Experiement with different quantities of each to add texture
The red bricks were painted with:
Again, xperiement with different quantities
I didn't worry about each individual brick I just put down rough colour.
Why is this called 'Teaching the world to sing?' Because there is a Coca Cola can in the image.
Just a few brush strokes. Cadmium red and a little grey made with Blue Black, Titanium White and
Put in the finishing touches. The final details to the poster, the Wildling growing in the wall.
The writing on the plaque. more texture to the bricks and a small part of the pavement.
And don't forget to sign it.
Because I liked the rough feel of the canvas I decided to frame these by pinning them onto matt black painted board and mounting them in a black frame.
I painted this as part of 'The Wildlings' series. At the exhibition, Alan Watson a dear friend looked at this painting for some time, and said that he found it very hard to look at rail tracks without thinking about prisoners of war. Art has a profound way of touching us, I found his comments deeply moving. He is publishing a book on Churchill next year.
'I like it when a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete, it's so **** heroic.' George Calin
'Wilding or Wildling….a plant sown by natural agency'
Oxford English Dictionary
Over the last year and a bit I have been working with photographer Paul Debois and Alys Fowler on a new project called 'Wildlings'. It describes in photography, painting and words, plants growing in extraordinary circumstances.
I think of Wildlings as warriors of nature. In reality nature is a warrior, one that protects us and destroys us in uneven measure. We can't tame nature, we must learn to live with it and to wonder and enjoy it's strength and beauty. These images look at the ordinary and the extraordinary persistence of nature.
How it all began...
In 2012, Paul explained the idea for this project by describing a foxglove he saw growing in a wooden post on the River Thames. Against all the odds it survived both the elements and the tides.
Paul's description captured my imagination and drew me into the project. This image has stayed with me constantly-so I painted it.
It is the only Wildling that wasn't photographed.
oil on canvas
78cm x 49cm
I've just spent a few days in St Ives meeting up with a friend and going to a painting course at the St Ives School of Painting. The course was tutored by Alice Mumford a great artist and as it turned out a great coach too. Full of energy and good advice. This is my painting in stages...
One very blank canvas with a wash of yellow ochre and white spirit. We choose our subject in this case mine was the table by the window.
Now I sketch in the scene as I want it to look with more yellow ochre. This involved a lot of rubbing out to get the right composition. I've added an extra chair.
Now for colour choice. This is tricky, I want to produce warm colours inside the room and cold outside. But how far do I go? I want lots of contrast and I want the feeling of sunshine and warmth. The table cloth starts me off, bright yellow with white stripes, and I decide to opt for tones of hot reds for the walls.
I roughly paint in the world outside the window-it's a very sunny day, almost Mediterranean in the picture. It was raining outside the window of the studio, so a little imagination and vivid memories were used here. I wanted a big contrast too. No window bars, partly because I wanted it to feel ambiguous, maybe a dream or a picture.
I decide on a black floor for really dynamic contrast and scratch floor boards in with a palette knife. I'm still very undecided about the other walls and the ceiling. At this point I decide to add a third chair, its mostly out of the composition to add mystery. A third person in the room.
I must have stopped thinking about photographing my steps here-I guess I was just focussing on the picture. They do that to you....drag you in.
The walls ended up different shades of red. Then a great debate ensued about the colour of the ceiling. I opted for yellow. But Alice wanted me to try black then red. I did this by painting a bit of paper and sticking it on. Neither worked both made the room claustrophobic. I opt for yellow. The debate continues, is it too close to the table cloth? Does it make the viewer uncomfortable? I think the answer to both these questions is yes, so I decide I have made the right decision. Alice's mum, Jan (also an artist) calls me an anarchist. I'm happy with the result. A little scraping of design on the wall, more boards on the ceiling and some shading. Working in the chairs and I'm done. I think. It creates a debate. I like that. Everyone feels differently about it. It's not my usual style but I enjoy the process. I like to experiment. I will get it framed.
I haven't posted much in the way of blogs in the last few weeks. It's winter and the weather has not been good! Far too much rain and soggy conditions. Not ideal for a photgrapher who specialises in gardens. However, I have spent the time working away at library material and painting, another love of mine.
I paint in watercolours (very flirtatious), acrylics (feisty) and oils (sublime and yielding), in fact I think I'm falling in love with them, oils that is.
So this is a very pictorial blog so you can see that even when I am quiet I am busy on other projects. I hope you enjoy them as much as I like painting them...
Last January I decided to book myself on a course at the St Ives School of Art. I like to learn new things, meet new people, take myself out of my comfort zone. After I hit the 'pay now' button I felt as excited as a kid on Christmas day, not a feeling I've had in a long while. And the course was being run byEric Ward, a painter I have admired for a few years.
Finally the day arrived when I had to pack up and drive down to Cornwall, four days without making breakfast, four days without doing laundry, four days not being Mrs Ace taxi driver. Four days to paint and wander.
On the first morning, it rained, well more of a drizzle. Hardly surprising as we had had rain constantly since the beginning of March and this was July. We had no Summer to speak of and not much Spring. How would we paint outside in this I wondered as I dragged on my huge mac for yet another day.
A bunch of us gathered at the school, twelve to be precise, one joker suggested it was the last supper.
After a morning in the studio, we braved the elements. The weather had cleared with only a gusty breeze and the occasional splatter of rain, so we went down to the harbour to paint. Surrounded by holiday makers it was a slightly daunting task. A trick I learned in photography is to cut myself off and concentrate on the shots I need to get. I adopted the same here otherwise I would feel so self concious that I would crumple into a small heap and be blown away by a gust of wind.
This is what I saw that first afternoon....
As time went on we all got to know each other a little better. I found two new friends, Mary and Vic. We all had stories to share and enjoyed each other's company for a few days. It's strange how, when in some situations you can forge strong bonds. None of this would have happened if we had gone along with friends. Each of us was travelling alone.
The sun came out again on those days and has stayed with me since. As have my new found friends. I think we will get together again one day.
...this is what we're looking for. Looks like it's all we're going to get this month too. I hope it cheers you up, I painted it earlier this year when I was looking forward to walks in a meadow on a hot summers day...please note it's June 11th and it's rained alot every day this month and we had a storm lasting two days, and my neighbour's 50 year old apple tree has taken up residence in my garden.
I went to Norfolk last week for a couple of photo shoots. The weather was the worst two days in the last couple of months, but it was all planned and deadlines were looming. So I packed up my gear and headed off across the breadth of England.
Driving across Wiltshire and past Stonehenge is always the best bit, I love this road; the fields stretch to the horizon, dark clouds scud across the arching sky. There is a lot of sky. The clouds were menacing but the sun spat shafts of light across the fields, lighting up carpets of new shoots and the skeletons of trees bursting with energy, ready to stage their annual performance.
All too soon I reached Stonehenge and the A303, which shoots off towards London, splices with the M3 before becoming entangled with the hateful M25. The weather worsened as I headed eastwards. However, I saw this, the memory of the light behind the trees stayed with me until I got home, then I painted it.
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