I recently went to Perugia for a few days and in their National gallery I saw an exhibition of Icon and religious paintings. Wow how beautiful, I’m not religious but I can appreciate the skill, talent and beauty of this work. What really turned me on was the decay, the wear and tear, the fading away of these wonderful pieces.
I have been working with Watercolour, pen, acrylic, gold leaf, and collage on hand made paper. It’s all about the textures, and the distressed effect from ageing.
Exhibited at the Tamar Valley Centre, Gunnerslake, Cornwall
Here we are at the end of October and the colours of Autumn are upon us. We have hosted a weekend and five day course with the dominating theme of autumn. Emphasising the importance of using transparent colours we focused on the gorgeous colours of fallen leaves. The aim to capture the rich burnt browns, oranges and greens found on the fallen and rotting leaves. Wow did we have fun!
We are hosting two more courses In November, a weekend 8th – 19th and a five day 10th – 15th, we will be continuing to explore the Autumn theme exploring rich strong colour in watercolour. As we head in to a dramatic winter landscape we use of a Charcoal to capture the lack of colour and drama of Dartmoor, the trees and skies. Fancy a creative weekend? There are a few places left.
How do I prepare my ideas and practice my painting before painting a huge canvas?
I don’t want to waste paint, canvas and most importantly my time painting a huge canvas without having some idea of what I want to paint.
In preparation for a large painting initially I go out to my favourite location and absorb the atmosphere, take photos, draw and sketch and add watercolour to the sketches.
I often choose a theme for my latest work, it has been winter snow, reflections in water, iced winter colours. This theme idea comes from my time as s fashion designer when I worked with trends.
I used to replicate my photographs, using interesting painting techniques, I now combine my memories of the moment, and my sketches to capture an essence of the moment in my painting, with the aim that it is not a replication.
I like to prepare a few pages of the simplest of ideas, psint this in my sketch book, the simpler the better as few marks as possible. Or I sometimes like to do really detailed drawings, I like to vary my initial ideas.
I then use small square canvases to 20cm x 20cm to produce a small version of ny idea. Often working on 6 – 8 canvases one after the other to formulate an idea. I also enjoy working on watercolour paper A3 size. I also lie to work on another intermediate size canvas 60 x 60cm.
I produce a collection of about 12 pieces of work and then choose the strongest idea to paint much larger.
The development of the smaller works into a very large pieces changes and takes on a life if it’s own.
The larger piece take more time and more content, the mark making needs to be developed and sometimes the drama and scale of the mark has to be bold and flamboyant. This is tricky and sometimes works bigger and sometines doesn’t.
If I feel work from the previous year us now outdated and I no longer like it I use it as a textural base for a new paintings. This adds another dimension and provides an interesting base for the new work.
Painting large scale needs lots of distant viewing so I am always stepping away, at least 10 feet, to get a fresh look and overall perspective of the painting.
I took the whole waxing technique to another level. Deciding to make my cards in a free and abstract style I used watercolour paper as the base, I drew rough pine tree shapes in wax first then washed soft transparent colours over the top, Cerulean, Violet and Phthalo. I waited for the paint to dry then added more wax in wild tree shapes, then washed over another layer of colour. This created some really interesting effects, the wax protecting the colours underneath and allowing stronger darker colours dominate. Really loved the effect, pinked the edges and stuck them on card blanks!