23 June 2021
I learnt something I mustn’t forget last week. I don’t like painting heads and faces. Even when trying to distort the image and avoid realism one seems to get fiddly with detail. It might be also working in acrylics. They look great and vibrant when wet but dry darker and flat so what looked good loses its impact.
That said, having finished the Find Your Joy free Taster course for the second time I realised how much my knowledge, skill and understanding has increased in the past year. I am more comfortable with using acrylics when the situation calls for them too.
My current challenge is to paint two large 90cm square abstracts which have hints of florals in them. Scaling up is not easy, not only does the substrate enlarge but so should the marks and shapes that comprise the painting surface. You need to be able to view the work up close but also from several metres away. It must be interesting from each perspective. More paint is needed to be mixed and the gestures made with whole of body if possible.
A new painting wall is set up and my first pass is in acrylics. I was frozen by the large white space; something I don’t experience in my usual size work which ranges from 30 to 70 cm.
These are being painted side by side. The next pass is with white oil paint with wax medium. Not all the surface is covered and the edges are blended.
The next stage involved introducing some loose drawing with oils sticks in three blues.
More gestural mark making with paint applied with a silicon spreader and oil sticks, bringing in some tonal difference and inference of florals. Nothing is thought out beforehand, I just work intuitively responding to what is there. Walking across to the other side of the room frequently is essential. It helps the daily step tally too. The secret is not to care if you might mess it up. It is just a challenge and opportunity to take it further to something you do love.
I am really enjoying these so far. The tricky part is knowing when to stop. This is often a stage or two before I realise!!!
Also on the easel this week are four 40 x 50 cm boards. They were painted not long before COVID and were in a small solo exhibition called Unearthed I had in a small cafe in a large arts precinct. Unfortunately, the exhibition was closed down after a few days and these four have lanquished on a shelf near my studio since then. I had pulled them out to reconsider a few weeks ago, thinking of making them more interesting and spontaneous. I loved them as they were with multilayers of paint creating gorgeous textures. But my work has changed since then. On a late autumn walk I came across some beautiful rich brown, red and gold leaves laying on the soggy ground. I collected a handful and bought them home. The idea of juxtaposing leave images on the four works took hold. Stencils were made and I gradually built up leaf shapes. I am really liking how these are developing. I love the richness of the transparent colour, especially the brown-pink and the magenta. They are not as spontaneous as I hoped but does it matter! They will be what they want to be.
On Monday, I joined my Plein Air group for a visit to the historical and picturesque town of Richmond. Avoiding the obvious landscape options, I concentrated on drawing shapes around me; with my third sketch being inspired by the rusty barbed wire fence. I worked only in India ink. The sun was shining at last after a week of cold, damp and cloudy weather. A throw down and get together over lunch topped off the day.