Wednesday, 13 December 2017

My First Acrylic

The Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

I always swore I would never do acrylics and oils but here I am eating my words having used both mediums during this term at SERC. I kindly blame Mary Doran for that! 

For this painting I used illustration board that I gessoed three times to get a gritty surface. That was partly because I wanted to do the sky in soft pastels because my early attempts at clouds with acrylics were rather embarrassing. I was away out of my comfort zone but little by little I found little things that worked for me (namely cheque cards to apply the paint and a roller to give the basalt rocks their distressed look) The green grassy slopes needed a different technique and I had to use several paintbrushes, thick acrylic and my fingers to achieve something I was happy with. The people were painted with watered down paint and layered and I was pleased with their look and the distance I achieved with them.

I painted this from a series of photographs I took on the Causeway around seven years ago. I decided to go bigger than my usual pastel size which are around 38-40cms wide. I went up to a whopping 70cms x 47cms

This was early days Giant's Causeway with the foreground rocks pencilled in
The finished as it'll ever be Giant's Causeway - click to see bigger!
For various work and family reasons this painting took around three months to complete and I still don't think it's there yet but Mary wants it for an exhibition tomorrow night and I am half reluctant to present it in its current state – i.e. without a frame and a glass covering to protect the pastel area! 

So there you go! My first real attempt at acrylics. Oil bars coming up soon! 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

SERC starts tomorrow

Life sometimes throws you lemons so rather than suck them I have learned to make lemonade. My 89 year old Mum had a stroke in May and visiting and looking after her post hospital means art has taken a back seat for the last three months and probably for the foreseeable future as I go to Mum's after work and sleep over four nights a week. All totally worth it mind! She's great! I've a Mac at her house should I need to be bringing work home. 

I do get Wednesdays nights off so I have booked in for another September-December course with tutor Mary Doran at SERC. That'll keep my hand in 7pm-9pm and it gives me a good reason to hang out with my buddy Anne who thankfully has signed up too. Cheryl my niece was going to get back into painting but renovating her new house took precedence this term. 

I am really looking forward to getting the acrylic brushes out and doing some mad art. I'll hopefully get to finish off my Giant's Causeway mixed media artwork in the next few weeks and start on a few others that I have planned in my head. Let's see where that goes...

I also have an idea, inspired by Paul O'Kane at Hillsborough Art Society last Wednesday night, that I could do quick watercolours at my Mum's. I have the pads, the paint and brushes so why not... it'll pass the night away and force me not to watch XFactor and Victoria or surf mindlessly on my iPad. Might as well do something constructive.

Art for All at Lisnagarvey Art Society


Friday, 19 May 2017

New artworks under way

I am working on a few projects at the minute – a Mike Bernard type mixed media piece of art on MDF board and a large pastel artwork. 

The latter is unusual for me as I have sacrificed my usual smoothish pastelmat paper for a grittier gessoed illustration board. I had thought of painting on Dibond – and gesso-ing its aluminium surface but the cost was a bit prohibitive. The piece I am working on is of the Giant’s Causeway here in Northern Ireland and features the iconic basalt rocks quite prominently.

My idea is to do the sky in pastel (the easy bit) and the rest in watercolour and acrylics. It’s a rather awkward marriage but it seems to be working so far. I had to use blue masking fluid on the land area where it hits the sky as I have found in the past that stray chalk pastels are hard to remove in unwanted areas and more so on this heavily gessoed surface. That’s mostly down to my heavy finger blending manner. I rub the pastel in so hard that after 30 minutes CID would have trouble getting fingerprints from me. 

With my 9-5 graphic design work expected to be busy for the rest of the year I think this Causeway paintings is going to be a summer months/spare time project. It measures around 70cms x 46cms. My previous pastel works fitted an A3 sheet  (around 40cms x 27cms) so this significant size increase is rather scary. If it all goes to plan, I may have found a new mixed media style that surpasses my early experiences with pastelmat. It’ll be a bit looser but still quite realistic.

Which is all a far cry from my Mike Bernard excursion at SERC on a Wednesday night. It’s taken me around eleven weeks to discover 'the other side of me’ where creating art is all about fun and less about hard work! 

So far I have glued down crinkled up tissue paper, plaster of paris, dry wall lining tape and newspaper cuttings to my gessoed MDF board and will introduce wax resist next week to the proposed stone wall in the foreground and maybe a little pot pouri for bushes and weeds in areas that I want to be a bit more vague. I've also bought a Neocolour Grey crayon which might be fun to use. I’m working mainly with Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics  and Liquitex Matte Medium. After a hesitant start I have discarded my paintbrushes (thanks Anne) preferring to make my marks with an old Danske Bank cheque card, a few wooden clothes pegs and after reading a book by Jodi Ohl I'll be using a roller to create random effects on the painting too. What am I like? Will put up a picture next week of where I am at with this. Don't be expecting too much at this early days stage!

I never did get around to finishing off this mixed media piece! It just wasn't working for me so best I cut my losses now and move on. I have learned that I don't like working on hardened tissue paper though I haven't abandoned the idea completely. Just not for now in my infancy stage!   

Friday, 7 April 2017

Paper Collage by Nancy Standlee

Cupcake by Nancy Standlee
Click to view bigger
Pear by Nancy Standlee
Click to view bigger
I first did a paper collage for a tourist board client in my advertising agency days. This was in a time before Apple Macs and Adobe Illustrator. I recall my picture having a few boats, a lighthouse, a cliff, land, sea and sky with a few people in a car travelling by road towards a town (I think it was Donaghadee) in the background for a summer holiday. We tore the special coloured art paper so that left an impressive white rough edge and slowly built the landscape up. It was all carefully created and the end result was quite amazing. The client loved it too! I kept the original so it’s in my house somewhere. Check attic!

Many years later the Irish Linen Centre hosted an exhibition of Henri Matisse’s work. The main image used to sell the event was his Blue Nude II, created when he was wheelchair bound and unable to sculpt and paint. He expressed his art with scissors instead and he wasn’t alone. Pablo Picasso got a cut of the action too and well if it’s good enough for these two world famous artists…

I love these cheerful and expressively bold artworks by American artist Nancy Standlee. I will try one of her cupcakes sometime soon. Problem is I need to start collecting/hoarding and then taking scissors to weekend magazines, travel brochures, junk mail and the like instead of dumping them in my green recycle bin! I’ve already started...

For some reason I have hyphenation on in the first paragraph and I can't get rid of it! Annoying!