On my easel

on my easel

At the moment I have a great desire to be painting with no agenda other than to enjoy the materials, to see what will happen, to not worry about painting a finished piece, to just be laying down layers of colour shape. There can be a sense of ‘I should be doing this or that’ but I also know that working without expectation is an important part of what I do.

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Only a fraction of the work I produce is frame or wall worthy, but that is the way and nothing feels wasted. I learn something new every time I put paint to surface. As always I wish I had more time in the day and more days in the week but the more I am in the studio, the more I want to be there. Even when I don’t have time to paint for a few hours at a time, a one or two hour painting keeps my hand in and ensures I don’t have large gaps in-between painting days.

on my easel

It also feels good to leave work in a state where it is not completely resolved. Perhaps I will go back to these pieces. perhaps not. They are a good reference for when I am working on new pieces – each layer of a painting goes through a different phase – there are always the places where it is fresh and minimal, always there are the ugly stages and then there are flashes of something unexpected, so to have a few pieces around me at different stages gives me inspiration for new work. This piece was kind of a self portrait (so, so valuable to do I find) but in the end I think she became something else.

So I really would recommend just painting for the love of it on occasion, no expectations, no guaranteed result, just enjoy the feeling. For me all too soon it will be time to really get down to the work that does need to be done!

(Please excuse the dark shadowy photographs, I don’t seem to be able to pick the right time for photographing on these gloomy winter days.)

x x x

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On my easel… Venturing into Oils.

On my easel

After many years working with acrylics (and loving all the possibilities that they allow) I am currently trying to put my fear aside about working with oil paints. Yep, I said fear. It has gone on for far too long. It is bordering on ridiculous. Acrylics I know, almost inside out. I know that used correctly they are one of the most stable painting materials around. They won’t flake, crack, fall off the substrate or discolour unless you do something really silly. Over the years, all the reading I have been doing about oils has put the idea into my head that they are the opposite unless you really know what you are doing. Because I have never known what I was doing with them, (fat over lean anyone? I know what it means but how much and when?) I have let them be. The odd tube I have purchased has taunted me into starting but never enough for me to open that lid. I know that as silly as it sounds, I will never really feel like a ‘painter’ until I can paint in oils. (yep…silly)

I have read and read and read and am currently reading The oil painting book by Bill Greevy and I have eventually decided that all the reading in the world is never going to make me an oil painter – only actually getting the brushes and paints out will give me even half a chance at that. So today I began. Confused, perplexed, trying to let go of doing it ‘right’ and just ‘doing it’. But I made a start and that’s what counts! Here’s to a new journey.

There is no such thing as too much practice…. A self portrait challenge

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(updating this to now make it a complete post as writing blog posts from my phone with more than image seems to lead to losing the majority of the text!!)

Now that the busy’ness of the last few months has come to an end (hopefully) I am managing to spend much more time in the studio. I had been pin-balling from one event and exhibition to the other with lots of deadlines for my sculptural characters so have had little to no time for drawing or painting. It is so good to be able to remedy that now!

I had a couple of ‘blah’ days in the studio last week where I felt so out of practice and achieved little work and alot of procrastination and staring at the walls. On days like this sometimes it is better to indulge myself a little and not put the pressure on – writing and thinking and dreaming is enough and luxuries that I do not always allow myself.

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But there comes a point – always – when I just have to break out of that and get out the paper and materials and just draw something – anything – no matter how good or bad. Work the rust off and blow the cobwebs away and that in time will lead to a breakthrough of ideas for new work and a period of intense painting.

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So that is what I worked on. I find that the most limiting thing for me at the moment is confidence in drawing figures and faces and poses – or the ability to take them further than I have before and with no spare cash for life drawing classes I decided to work on a series of self portraits. It is something I have worked on a little before but I wanted to seriously motivate myself so I have set myself a challenge. 100 self portraits – drawn, sketched or painted – taking as much time as it takes. I don’t want to worry about how good they are it is the process that is important and the act of getting in the studio as much as I can. So I will be showing the good, the bad, the ugly and the unfinished. Of course I will over a long period of time do more than 100 but I thought that was a nice round figure to start with and it is always good to have a goal in mind!

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So here are the first four with the most recent at the top of the page and the first at the bottom (a really poor effort but not to worry – a reminder that the process is important and not the outcome!) I was so very out of practice as you can see but even in this short time I can see and feel a big improvement. I want to explore many different mediums and challenge my mark making skills so it shall be interesting to see how they develop.

Have you set yourself any challenges lately?