Two new paintings


Garden rock, acrylic on canvas 8 x 10 (copyright)

A new box of canvases arrived today – twenty more sixteen by twenty inch ones. I have a plan. Now I have to go to it.

I’m working in acrylics because I can work in an enclosed space without special ventilation to drive off solvents. I need to get familiar with acrylics before I will be able to make them do what I want them to.

Yesterday, I found about six 8 x 10 canvases in the basement that are pristinely white. I decide to do some landscapes with them, just to get familiar with mixing colours, finding out how miscible the paint is and how it draws along with the brush.

This is the rock in Mrs. Stepford’s garden – a single rock sitting in the front yard and graced with a little azalea shrub that will flower in the spring. A sumac grows right beside the rock. It almost looks as if it is coming right out of the rock. In summer when I took a picture of it, the flowers had already dropped and the sunlight coming from the West streamed through the lower branches of the cedar hedge to crown this little plant with glorious light.

I’m trying to work freely, to be painterly, not to fuss with details.  Et, Voila! This is yesterday and today’s offering in acrylic.

I’ve also been working on a watercolour in the  series where I stop and try to identify how I feel.  It’s harder going because it’s not “realistic” so the colours could be anything, really. I have to make them up – and make them work. If I get a colour on that doesn’t work, then either I have to find a way to fix it or abandon the painting.

This one which I call Shark threatens dove,  is in watercolour because the series of paintings I’ve done so far with this theme have all been in this medium. If ever I show them in an exhibition, I will want them to be able to hang together comfortably, so I continue on in the same vein.

As for method – I started with a fairly detailed drawing, then I made one wash for the background, one for the flesh tones, and one for the garment at the lower part of the paintingm, making sure to let each wash dry thoroughly.. These are all light in saturation because it’s easier to paint over them if the colours or the density is not right.

Once the last general wash has dried and there is no risk of one colour bleeding into another and making odd shaped blooms where the two coloursmeet, I coloured in the fish and the dove, then the eye colour.

Here are some of the stages where I’ve stopped to take photos of the progress I’ve not got good light for taking photos, so once again, please excuse the colour quality. These were the best I could get:

shark-threatens-dove-stage-1 shark-threatens-dove-stage-3 shark-threatens-dove-stage-4

Next I fill in detail and pattern.

I strengthened the background colour to make the face come forward. I patterned the garment for a contrast to the broad flat shapes. I didn’t like the blue I chose for the bird and the shark, so in the final, I painted another colour over it and it worked better for me.

It’s meant to be an uncomfortable image. Otto has been causing me grief (verbally) and I don’t want to talk to him. When I do, I get upset – perhaps he does too – I feel constricted in the throat, I feel that my eyes are big but they are quite vacant.  My eyebrows feel aggressive, but please don’t ask me to explain how that is possible.

I feel immensely better if I am able to paint my feelings out into some kind of representative imagery. I can laugh at myself rather than get all ingrown and horrible feeling.

When I began this image, I began it as a pencil crayon drawing with just the minimum of lines sketched on. It’s way more dynamic than what I did a final painting. I’ve started another one to see if I can go back to that freedom of movement, but I don’t feel happy with the results for the moment. I’ll post the second one later if I can succeed in pulling it all together.

As I was painting, I spent long times between applying paint to the paper, considering  whether the colour was strong enough, whether there was a balance, whether I liked the colours I had chosen, whether there was sufficient pattern and if not, what else might I put on. All of that consideration takes time – so this painting has been a week in the making, although the actual painting process could have been done in a day.

I consider that this method of painting where a fine line drawing denotes where everything should go, is akin to a colouring book. Once the drawing is on the paper, it’s just a matter of filling in the shapes with paint. In general, I try to keep with the original drawing and stay within the lines.

With this painting, I ended up finding the cerulean blue a bit to blatant when compared with the rest of the painting, so I ended up covering it up with a different colour wash. I’m much happier with it now (but it’s not perfect).

As a last minute touch, I felt the background needed to be slightly darker and applied a blending wash. While the added colour was effective, unfortunately this paper (Strathmore) was not quite as sturdy as the Arches I usually use, and I ended up with some pooling and those blooms that I try so hard to avoid.

I’m not a purist. When I got that blooming bloom, I had two choices – scrap the painting entirely or correct it somehow. Unable to add more wash without increasing the problem, I chose to use a bit of chalk pastel and a bit of pattern within that section to cover over the problem area. It worked!

Here’s the final version.


Just to assure all you faithful fans out there, I’m a happy person these days. The upset in my life that triggered this image is transitory. I expect this will all blow over in a month. Until then, if it helps, I’ll just amuse myself with these quirky images …

and continue along with the acrylics with a more mundane theme.


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2 Responses to “Two new paintings”

  1. swatch Says:

    What an interesting face – I can’t see so well at this resolution but your edges between your colours look very clean.

    And I love Mrs Stepford’s rock. One day it would be nice to see a painting of her sitting on this rock.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Stephen.
    That’s a good idea for a new painting, but I doubt my powers to do rock plus person. It might be a good summer project.

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