Thursday, 21 February 2013

More Abstract Paintings

I feel a bit like a newscaster on a Saturday evening when they are giving out the football results and they say ....If you do not want to know the results look away now!  Well, if you are not into abstract art (and not very good abstract art at that!) look away now. And if this is your first visit to this blog site, PLEASE look at some of the previous posts to get some idea of what I normally paint! This is really not me at all!!

This weeks subject at Avon Valley Artists Group was Abstract Art. We all find this very difficult and so we try to offer members a starting point of some sort, and in this case, it was small squares cut from glossy magazines with just tiny parts of the picture showing, mostly based on circles. Members were asked to build a piece of abstract painting from the small piece of design that they chose. We also suggested that they could tackle the subject in any way they liked if they found this easier,

Readers will know that I tried to get into the swing of things by painting a very loose representation of a field of poppies (see post dated 13th February) with very mixed results. I am determined to enjoy the process even if the results are no threat to the likes of Kandinsky, so before the group meeting I had another go. Still using the idea of surface texture, I was going to apply some gesso to the paper, quite thickly in places to give some texture, but on opening the tub, I discovered that the remaining third had dried hard in the tub. Not to be daunted, I used a tube of 'Fix And Grout' instead, which in some ways was better, because the paint is nicely absorbed by the gritty substance. This does not happen with gesso.

Whilst the grout paste was still wet, I used the end of a thread bobbin to make circles in the paste, and used a pencil end to draw lines in it. Then I left it to dry thoroughly. When dry, I concentrated on solely producing a visually pleasing arrangement of colours, and then used the top of a spray bottle to add circles in both white and black to the design.

I shall call it 'Out Of Darkness, Into Light'  and pretend that that was where I was heading all the time!!

Armed with these two test paintings, I went to AVA no better prepared to tackle another abstract painting, but as always, willing to have a go.

At least I feel that my attempt was a true abstract, lots of members resorted to pattern making, which I am not sure is the same thing. It was suggested that we base our ideas vaguely on circles, and I did try to keep that in mind when producing the painting.

'Blossom'  Mixed Media on paper
Approx 28 x 38 cm

For anyone interested, I first washed the whole of the paper with a variety of colours including Qinachridone Purple, Ultramarine Violet, Teal Blue, Pthalo Blue and Pthalo Green. When it was completely dry, I washed over the surface with a watered down PVA paste and stuck a piece of crumpled white tissue paper to the surface. I rollered it down with a lino print roller to give very fine veins across the surface.
Again, when dry, I added white 'Fix and Grout' paste into which I embossed some circles using a bottle top.

Using the same combination of colours and plenty of  'Opera Pink' I then 'painted' the picture.
when the painting was dry, I then stuck a scattering of small dots made from a sheet of painted paper with a hole punch.
As normal, I then lightly splattered it with white acrylic gouache and felt that maybe it was finished.

I think we are all pleased that the subject does not appear again on the programme this year1


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Winter Flowers: Hellebores

This weeks topic at Avon Valley Artists was Winter Flowers. This seemed like an excellent excuse to pop along to the garden centre to see what they had in flower. It was quite a disappointing selection, lots of indoor Fuchsias, and Primroses, but I eventually chose a lovely pot of deep pink Hellebore. They do not flower quite this early in my cold garden, so those that I have would have looked very forlorn if I had removed what few flowers there were.

I chose to paint on the the rough surface of my usual Fabriano paper, and began the process by creating a wash for the background. I thought it out as carefully as possible, but tried not to spoil the spontaneity but trying to control it too much. I put plenty of blue into the greens, which I though would echo the blue/ pink of the flowers, although once I took the flowers indoors, they appeard much less pink in colour.

When I was satisfied that there were good areas for flowers and for foliage, with enough white areas to give the highlights, I allowed it to dry completely before doing the drawing. I did the drawing quite carefully, but kept the pencil marks as light as possible as I did not want them to be part of the finished painting.

It was at this stage that I took it to AVA to work on during the two hour session.

I wanted to try to get a sense of green deep in the flowers, but this proved quite difficult as any green tended to mix with the pink/purple and make the flowers muddy. It was already quite difficult to keep the flowers fresh as tertiary colours were needed to create this strange colouring that so many Hellebores have in this season.
I painted all the petals, leaving lost edges where I could and highlighting other edges with touches of white acrylic gouache. I used mainly Quinachridone Magenta, with a little Opera Pink and Rose of Ultramarine.
For the leaves I used lots of Indigo, Anthraquinone Blue and Pthalo Blue mixed with Apatite Green.

I was careful not to paint over the pencil lines, so I was able to erase them when the paint was dry.
For the stamens, I used White Acrylic Gouache, which I over painted with Indian Yellow, again when it was dry.
A bit of adjustment to the background and I think it is done. A healthy bit of fine splatter as usual and I think I am happy with the outcome, although I will live with it in the studio for a few days before mounting and framing in case I feel it needs tweaking a bit,

Winter Hellebores
Approx 30 x 40 cms

Just looking at the finished painting on screen, I may be tempted to soften the top background wash line. It seems a bit harsh. We'll see!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Abstract Poppies

I hope any newer followers of my posts will not think they are in the wrong site, but we have 'Abstracts' coming up again  a week on Thursday, so I thought I better start trying to get my head around the idea. and the results are never anything resembling my usual work. It is probably the most difficult subject in the calendar and we all struggle with the idea of painting something that doesn't really look like the starting idea.

I tend to stick to floral inspirations, and paint them so loose that they loose their identity. I have had a go at a field of poppies, trying to get the greens and reds fresh and interesting and have added a bit of the well-used d'oily idea to give it some texture and interest. I thought I had taken a picture of the original wash, but either must be day dreaming or have accidently deleted it, so I am sorry I cannot share that with you.

I do not think my tentative efforts are any threat to those who are professional Abstract Artists, but as I have said so many times, sometimes the end result is less important than having fun with a some paints!

'Poppy Abstract'

If there is any effect in the picture you would like to know more about, please ask.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Dandelion Heads

This weeks subject for Avon Valley Artists was 'Action, Movement'. There were some lovely paintings of skier,sailing boats and people involved in different sorts of activities. I chose to paint a group of dandelion seed heads, with some of the seeds in flight.

I did the drawing at home and used masking fluid to block out the seeds. I used a drawing pen to get really fine lines, but it did take some time. I did it the previous evening as it takes some time to dry, and it is not good to try to dry it with a hairdryer. I am always a little anxious about doing it the night before, as if its left on too long, it can remove the surface of the paper when you rub it away. Masking fluid also takes off the surface of cheap papers sometimes, so beware!

At AVA I was able to start immediately with the painting, and as usual, I wet the whole sheet, except the seed head itself, and then dropped colour into the wash, and allowed it to dry. I was careful about using the hairdryer as I did not want to affect the masking fluid.

I then painted in the elements of the picture, before removing the masking fluid to reveal all the seeds.
I was quite disappointed at this stage as I thought that the seeds in flight were too big and heavy for the dandelion clocks, but did not think I could do much about it except wash away some of the colour to make them less prominent.

I then used various dark colours and some pen work to give me a base to the painting so that the clocks looked as if they were growing in a field and I was finished.

When I got home, and propped the painting up in the studio I was still very unhappy about the RH side of the painting, but I really liked the three dandelion clock, although they are much more delicate than lots that I usually paint, so I decided that it was time for a cropping!

I simply removed a section of the RH side and a little from the top and bottom to keep the proportions about right, and then gently washed away any dark seed areas in the sky which partially remained in the picture.

Although not perfect, I think this has made the painting a much 'prettier' image and more successful as a composition despite losing the really dark area at the bottom which is a pity.

For some reason the photo looks a bit washed out but I think the general idea is still there, and in a frame it seems ok, but not one I will be hanging on the wall at home.

I have a feeling that 'Tried hard but could do better' is an appropriate comment.

Next week its 'Winter Flowers' so I am looking forward to that!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Sunflower Experiment

Sometimes it does one good to try something a bit new. I borrowed a book from Peter and was reading an article about a guy who paints quite photo real pictures without any drawing. The example given was a harbour painting, staggeringly well painted to say that not a single line had been drawn in pencil.

There is no way I would attempt such an exercise, but I did think that it should be possible to paint a simple floral subject without any drawing, keeping it very loose, and using the colours to say it all.

Lots of water meant stretching a piece of Fabriano to a board, but I must say at this stage, that removing it was a problem. When the painting was complete, I used a craft knife to cut around the edge of the paper, but found that the gum from the brown paper tape had seeped under the paper and firmly stuck it down to the board. I had to re-cut the paper  further in, and in doing so lost some of the edges of the painting!

Anyway, choosing a bold sunflower as the subject, I did my initial wash on the paper, with no real idea as to where to put the colours, except a vague idea that it would be very close up with only part of the flower showing, and the brown centre in the bottom LH corner.

As you can see from the photo, the stretching process did not prevent the paper from buckling, and pools of paint wash collected in the dips. I should have stayed in the studio whilst it was drying to gently mop up these dark patches. Had I been doing a more delicate painting, it would have had to be re-done, but as this was to be bold and strong, I thought it wouldn't matter.I must use heavier paper for these very wet paintings!

I started with the dark seed head centre and flooded in lots of the colours I thought would give it an interesting 'seed' texture, but there is no othe product this time, just the paint!

I then used a brush laden with paint to brush free hand the general shapes of the petals. Using a variety of paints including gouache, acrylic and indian ink, I completed the painting.

The darker colours in the top right of the initial wash has given the painting a much less fresh feel to it than I would have liked, but I really like the bottom LH corner. I think that bit works well.

Not a perfect painting, but I share it with you as I think there are valuable lessons to be learnt from this type of experimental work.