Friday, 29 June 2012

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Dark Side

Excuse the title of this blog children are Star Wars mad....

Here is a sneak peek of a work in progress, depicting black lace. It is part of a larger painting of about 45x35cm, exploring the textures of black lace. After having painted a few paintings with cream-coloured lace it is a very interesting process to paint black lace. The technique is the same but, as always, values are key. Although I rarely use black paint straight from the tube (I mainly use it for mixing) I have been experimenting with it and found it a tricky paint to use on its own. I have ivory black and recently bought some lamp black which is a slow drying, deep cool black (of course besides ivory and lamp black, there is also mars black which I’ll try and purchase soon). The funny thing with both is that is dries up quite mat, which lightens the value visually. That makes it, for me, a difficult paint to work with as you can only see what you’ve done when it is dry or oiled out/varnished. Of course there are other ways to use black: by mixing. Traditionally artists often use a mix of burnt umber and prussian blue (or something thereabouts), potentially mixed with a cool or warm red. These mixes give a near black that is very useful as its tendency to a warm or cool tone gives a black liveliness. Black from the tube is fairly cool, blue/grey - ish tone, while a black mixed with umber and blue makes a deeper, warmer black.
I’ll continue to play with my blacks for the next few paintings.

Here are some links to interesting web posts on black:
Artists Network: The Color Black by Koo Schadler
Peggi Habets’ posts about black: Lamp Black, Ivory Black, Mars Black, Vine Black
Aaron Westerberg notes on black
(I will update if and when I find more)

pssst....did I tell you to look out for next month’s Artists & Illustrators Magazine? Out 17 July.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

BP Portrait Award - review (sort of)

I went to see the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London yesterday. I met up with two facebook friends and fellow artists and had a wonderful day.  The BP exhibition is an awesome show and I came back wanting to paint. So, very inspiring indeed. Although I found there were quite a few paintings that used modernist gimmicks and invisible concepts, there were some paintings that showed the work of some of the best painters around at the moment. I feel the term ‘portrait’ was sometimes taken in a very big and wide manner but the majority of works were good-ol portraits indeed.
The highlights for me:

Alan Coulson. This painting is just so impressive in real life. The picture does not do justice to the real thing. It oozes character. You can feel the bloke in the picture. Technically it is amazing, the tiny brushmarks in his face make the whole thing sing.
Richie Culver, 85x59cm. ©Alan Coulson

Another highlight was Mary Jane Ansell’s portrait of her father. Again, it is technically superb, but she is using her skills to evoke some real emotions. The portrait is interesting, respectful, tender. Integrity is what makes a portrait work for me.

More highlights: Benjamin Sullivan (boy that guy can paint!! a true master)
Tim Benson (furthest removed from how I paint but he manages to get a huge amount of character and emotion into his bold brush marks. And again, no gimmicks, just plain good painting!!)
Roni Taharlev, and Jean-Paul Tibbles.

I hope that the paintings that show a ‘look at me I am so quirky, bold, modern, daring, arty,’ attitude will disappear from the show next year.....
I suppose I should mention the winner, Aleah Chapin, who won the BP Prize with her huge painting ‘Auntie’. I think Aleah can do amazing things with paint. The way she paints skin is very beautiful. But it reminds me of an unmade bed...are we supposed to be shocked? Surprised? Charmed? A naked elderly lady. Not something we see very often in our western culture that is so focussed on youth and beauty. But displaying a naked elderly lady schmacks of old fashioned modernism. I am sure she IS beautiful. There’s no need to tell me.
But hey, who am I anyway?! Taste, as Grayson Perry has recently explained to us, is a fugitive thing to understand. Each to their own. And I congratulate Aleah with her win, she is no doubt an amazingly skilled painter.

During my trip to London I visited some other galleries and went to see the American Figurative Show at the Albermarle Gallery where I especially loved Gabriela Dellosso’s work and I discovered a new artist (for me) at the Medici Gallery:  Amnon David Ar. Stunning work. And one day, one day, I will take home one of the sculptures of Matthew Simmonds. I just melt by his work. If ever he does a Hawksmoor or Vanbrugh sculpture I just must have it.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Brown Eyes

My latest painting is in the last stages...perhaps a tiny adjustment here or there, but it is pretty much finished. It is not a commissioned piece but a painting that I wanted to paint for a portrait competition. My inspiration were the deep brown eyes of my young model, I wanted to continue the brown theme with a hint of mystery.

Oil on canvas, 50x40cm

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Hands - detail of Work in Progress

A little sneak peek at a current work in progress. I am painting a young girl with a fabric as background. I am currently trying to paint the thread of the fabric, with endless hatching. You can see a the rose in the fabric at ‘underpainting stage’ behind the girl’s hand.
Still lots to do, but hopefully this is going somewhere.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Unicorn Gallery

Frontage of the Unicorn Gallery in Wilmslow, Cheshire
I have delivered 2 new paintings at the Unicorn Gallery this week. If you’re local, do drop by and have a look. Let me know what you think. They are in the centre of Wilmslow on Water Lane, but  they also have a gallery in Widnes, on Victoria Road.

Unicorn Gallery,
1 Kings Court, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AR

Delicates, oil
Silk Dress, oil


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