Thirsty work

I have come to the end of the road with my first oil painting. It was a lengthy journey. One I abandoned a few times. One I obsessed over - trudging the road at 4am in the morning several times. In fact, I am not entirely sure I have reached the end of the road. There is another path branching off just here, and I can see it leads to an intersection just over there. But I have decided to stop.

Deciding to stop is something new to me in painting. It seems to distinguish oil painting from watercolours. Watercolours are something of an adrenaline rush. They are swift, unwieldy, reckless and spontaneous. There is no going back, no correction, few ways to change course and there always seems to be an obvious end….a point in a picture, where it would be foolish to continue. A saturation point where I know the paper simply can’t take another layer of water and pigment. In watercolour….it is a sudden stop.

Now on my oil painting journey I finally understand the intense inquiry about the need for it to end, pulling against the possibility of just one more glaze here and there, a touch more highlight, a minor change of hue. Oil painting affords ME the luxury of deciding when to stop. I’m not sure it’s a privilege I wanted. It is the ability to work and re-work that makes oil paint so appealing….but also so maddening. So the decision to stop is an intellectual one.

This time it’s the end of a learning road for me. I’ve learnt as much as I can from this painting. It has made me thirsty for more. I have drunk as much from this canvas as I can. This is part of the problem for the thirsty artist (no…not the bill for all the bottles of sav blanc….that’s another issue) – as soon as a painting is done I know I could do it better if I started again. The process teaches me so much about the subject, the medium….that I can’t help casting this painting aside to collect dust as I move onto the next (better) project. I really don’t care about the painting that is done….it is the 2 new paintings in progress on my easel that have my attention now.

And so the journey of the thirsty artist continues. This first ‘finished’ canvas is posted here for others who have followed this road. Perhaps here it will not collect as much dust.


Return to life drawing

It was so lovely getting back to life drawing last night. The set-up at the Art Factory is simply perfect, with 2 models to draw, plenty of room and a great atmosphere. I felt rusty to begin with but thankfully the quick one minute poses at the beginning help to wake-up the creative mind.

These are quick 5 minute sketches. It is hard to get much detail in that time, so I focus on gesture, form and line. Please excuse the poor photography - the iPhone doesn't make a very good camera for art!

5 minute sketch 20 Oct 09

5 minutes 2 20 Oct 09

5 minutes 3 20 Oct 09

20 minutes 20 Oct 09


Blogging on Facebook

I'm now streaming my blog posts to Facebook! Hopefully that will encourage me to blog post more often. I have lots of painting planned this weekend - finishing off the floral oil, I've already started on a skyscape from New Zealand and I have to start on a still life that my mum wants! Happy painting :-)


First oil painting - untitled floral

I started this oil painting last year. I've painted in watercolours for years but this is my first attempt at oils. It is taking some time to get used to the reversal in process and I must admit to being a little intimidated by the medium, the fat over lean and all. :o I hope you don't mind if I step out the process. I am as much interested in comments and ideas about the way to approach oil painting as in the finished product at this stage.

I started with this photo:

Did quite a bit of work in photoshop to begin with. Cropped the image, changed the colour balance and made selective changes to the tones to achieve the look I was after as guidance for painting. You'll see as I start painting that the colours I was after were more apricot with reds and soft greens and lemons. I'm working on a very small canvas - 25cm square (about 10 inches). It may not be ideal but I was a bit frightened about tackling a large blank space.

I primed the canvas with AS acrylic gesso and sanded it back in a few layers to smooth it off a bit. I then tinted it with Indian Yellow for an overall golden glow.

Then I sketched in the flower and started blocking in with some thin washes. Ummm - can't remember what this colour was. An umber perhaps.

Now I started on the grisaille underpainting. I'm using burnt umber and titanium white. All my paints are Blockx. I'll expand them to include some Old Hollands eventually. I'm using some wax medium and odourless solvent. I love the feel of wax medium.
beginning the underpainting
Well, by now I think I have finished the underpainting. I've got the modelling about right and softened edges where I need to. I'm still a bit unsure about how much of the detail I should include in the underpainting?? There are still some golden areas from the tinted canvas showing through. It looks a bit messy in places, but I'm trying not to obsess too much about the tiny things because I have a tendency to overwork.

I then waited many, many months for it to dry. Well, actually I was very nervous and unsure about the next stages. So I procrastinated beyond belief....for about 8 months :eek: . Started some glazes of oranges, yellows, peach and apricots. I don't really like pink (silly I know!) so I've decided against a pink colour overall - it's getting further and further away from the original reference.

That was about two weeks ago - since then I have added more glazes to the dark areas and more highlights. I still have a lot of the petals around the back to complete and may add some even brighter areas to where the sun is hitting the petals. Excuse my latest photo - it's a little blurry (too dark when I took this pic inside in the late afternoon).

Comments and criticism welcome. I will post a final image when the painting is complete.


More flowers in watercolour

Yes finally....I am painting again! After months of sunshine therapy in BrisVegas I'm seeing my life in colour.

Actually, I painted the background for the field of poppies perhaps 12 months ago and finally got around this week to finishing the flowers. In my usual sloppy style I managed to splash paint on the background over that time in a few inconvenient places - so this sort of dictated the shape of the flowers at times. Nothing like a happy accident to keep the creative process loose!

Original is 30cm square on 300gsm HP waterford paper. Hope you like it.

The painting below is my interpretation of a gladiola by Ann Pember painted for learning purposes. A year ago I worked mostly straight onto dry paper with mixed colours and glazes. Through studying Ann's work I've moved to more wet on wet technique with the colours painted straight on to mingle on the paper.

Video: Keeping an Art Journal

Yes - time for a confession. I'm in love with Suzi Blu from YouTube! Check out her video series on keeping an artist journal. Hope they bring you some inspiration!

Check out the sample below or go to suziblutube for he complete art vlog (video blog for the uninitiated).


Life Drawing 1

I've been experimenting with watercolour and pen at life drawing lately. I use a hot pressed heavy paper, Faber Castell Pitt artist sepia pens plus my watercolours and waterbrush. This one is a 20 minute sketch from later in the evening.



Rhododendron Final

Rhododendron Final
Originally uploaded by raejada.
I did some more work on the rhododendron shown below. Intensified the darks in the background, the shadows and added more depth to the curled petals. Also neatened the stamens as much as I could - should have masked them to begin with! Much, much happier with the result!



Originally uploaded by raejada.
Latest watercolour painting. I tried to loosen up the style here and think I went a bit too far - I find this a bit messy looking. Going to try to neaten up a few of the lines.


Under the sea

My post for this week's Illustration Friday topic
Watercolour on 300gsm hot pressed paper.
As always constructive comment
on how this illustration can be improved
always graciously received.