Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Connecting with my painting

It is funny how comments stick in your mind but in particular my tutor Mitch Waite always talked about connecting with the subject of the painting. I was once really struggling with a painting and he sat me down on a chair for 10 minutes and told me to really look and feel the painting. It is amazing what a difference this makes - if I am struggling with something I often follow this advice.

I have learnt that a painting is a whole, it has to all work together as one, it is important to work all the parts to maintain the vigour and excitement.

I am lucky that I am able to capture an image in my mind and hold it there - the feeling of light, colours bouncing around and just something that lifts what I see. Not sure if I am making sense - but it basically boils down to painting what you feel.

I have just finished this painting which illustrates the point. I was walking through Trastevere in Rome with my daughter and we suddenly saw this scene with the wonderful light. I was so excited I had to stop and take photos - I could feel the warmth of the sun, the dappled light through the trees, the halos of light on the people, reflected light on the buildings and on the ground, wonderful dancing light on the cobbles, the gentle hum of people relaxing in the café - amazing. Then each time I have taken those feelings in my mind when I have painted. I am pleased with the result see below.

Afternoon light on the cobbled streets, Rome

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Preparing paper for drawing

I like to draw on paper which has already been prepared particularly for life drawing. I also use it for many simple line drawings. The reason behind doing this, is that I like to put some energy and movement into the paper first. This seems to aid me when I am then actually drawing using charcoal or pastels on top.

Pastel on prepared paper

To start I use gesso or match pots of old emulsion paint. You can use watered down acrylic paint. It is not an exact science! I use a large brush and often a 1" normal emulsion brush. You could also use a scraper for a flatter feel. For me it is important to put the paint on in rounded strokes.

I like to use newspaper ink and text using a reverse print method. I place the newspaper in wet paint and then remove it after a short time period. I find my best results are when only a small part of the ink is in the paint. Sometimes there can be more newspaper left behind. Another important point is not to leave any lines or edges - I tend to rip the paper edges first. Also I tend to put the paper on a diagonal or upside down so that the newspaper is not too obvious.

I have included some photos of the different steps with comments:-

Apply paint with a big brush. Put movement in.

I like to play music while I work, it is quite therapeutic especially as there is no pressure on the result! 

Put a piece of ripped paper on the page.

How long to leave the paper requires some experimentation. Typically 30 seconds to a minute but could be longer depending on paint consistency.

Pull off the paper before too much has stuck on.

Here there is a bit too much paper left

Another example, you can see the ink in the brush marks.

A piece of paper ready for work.

You may find you need to flatten the paper afterwards. I use 200g drawing paper, the thicker the better.

Have a go and experiment. If you need further information drop me an email.

Here's the pastel drawing I finished off at life drawing class.

Golden backed nude

To keep it simple, you can just do the painting (stage 1) without newspaper as it can provide a wonderful feel for a charcoal life drawing on top. See example below.