Friday, 16 December 2011

Grand opening of Jamm Art Gallery!

It's been a rather busy 6 months from inception to delivery but finally....

Jamm Art Gallery is excited to announce its inaugural exhibition 'LAUNCH' featuring the works of 12 very talented local and international artists including Alison Orchard, David Dragon, Jane Deutsch, Marion Deacon and newcomers Karen Andor and Elize Drage.

The gallery will be opening its doors for the first time on the Saturday the 14th of January 2012. As an opening special Jamm Art Gallery will be offering a free gift to each customer that spends £100 or more at the gallery.

If you are interested in finding out more, check out the website www.jammartgallery.co.uk

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Paintings to be lovingly displayed in a new art gallery in the UK

It's been a while since I've posted anything on my blog as I've been very busy setting up a brand new, sparkly art gallery in Ewell village, Surrey. The gallery is going to be a hub for contemporary art and will exhibit the works of talented local artists as well as some exciting international artists. We'll have paintings, photographs, batik and hand made glass items for sale as well as fine art prints not found anywhere else in the UK. I'll also be exhibiting my own works in the gallery and will have an easel set up, so if you want to see some -'art in action' you should pop along!

We'll also have an amazing studio space where we will offer varied and interesting art workshops and classes, including the Open Art class every Monday where hobby artists can work on their own projects in a relaxed atmosphere, and where a professional artist will be on hand to assist and guide where necessary.

The gallery will open in early December (exact date to be confirmed soon) with an exciting inaugural exhibition featuring works by David Dragon, John Hedgecock, William Alves and others.

I've just launched the website www.jammartgallery.co.uk so check it out! Don't forget to Like the facebook page for updates, news and competition results. New artists are being signed daily, so check back often to see who will be exhibiting.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Surfed too long - completed painting

This session was focussed on finishing up the last few details including the clipboard, shoe and keyboard. Once these areas were dry, I mixed up some white and naples yellow and added highlights all over with a fairly dry brush. Using my finger I blended the newly added paint into the existing picture. To complete, I did the same with a mix of phtalo blue and raw umber for the really deep shadow areas.

All done!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Surfed too long - the skeleton

Today's painting session was dedicated to the skeleton. The first step was to mix a very pale yellow using mostly white and some naples yellow. This went to the light areas of the skeleton and as a base for the darker areas. I left the parts that are in shadow open. Once this was done I mixed a small amount of the pale yellow with some burnt umber until I got a fairly dark colour for the shadow areas like the eye sockets. Next I added some more of the pale yellow colour and using a fairly dry brush worked over the areas to blend the hard lines away and to add some midtones. The last step was to use paynes grey to add low lights to the darkest areas. Later when dry I will add some pure white highlights.

I'm quite pleased with the progress so far, and as you can see the painting is almost complete. I don't think there's much of a need to add more layers of thicker paint but there will be some tidying up to do and adding highlights here and there.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Surfed too long - the blues

It's been a quiet Sunday. The epic LoR soundtrack accompanied me and my mom as we painted all afternoon. She on a portrait of yours truly and me on my silly little skeleton lying bereft of life at the unseeing computer. Well, it's been a rather blue day for painting as I hardly touched any other colour except pthalo blue, naples yellow and white. The first stop was the swivel chair and this is coming along nicely now. The desk was the next area - here I added naples yellow to the lighter areas. I wanted to give the impression of the desk being a bit dirty from dust. It's the first time I've been ok with painting such a dirty, muddy colour.

I had a bit of an accident today with the plastic container that holds my water. It basically split as I pressed my brush down to clean it. All the nasty, cold, paint dirty water flooded all over my legs and the corner of the painting. I had to run to wipe up all the mess but was unable to save the corner of my painting from some dark muddy streaks (left corner). Sigh.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Surfed too long - shirt and monitor

Time has really flown here and I haven't painted much. Every day I look at my painting and think 'I should do some work there' but other things seem to get in the way. Today I decided that it's time so I pulled out the brushes. My mother is also creating a lovely painting so all the brushes and paints are lying around within easy reach (I really have no excuses!).

I started off with the computer monitor. I want to give it a kind of slightly amusing, bulgy blue screen of death look so will add some blue there later on. Then, working on the shirt I added the lovely folds into the material. The focus at this point was to make sure that the shirt had the correct light/dark areas applied to it. The left shoulder is closer to the viewer and the light falls directly in that area, so adding highlights there was critical. I also darkened the shirt on the back and on the right shoulder, making it appear to recede.

I'm quite keen to get started on the skeleton but I have to find the correct brush for this. The ones I have are quite large and not good enough for the delicate work required here. Must go shopping. Apparently it's a great exercise to paint or draw the human skeleton as it gives you a good understanding of what lies under a person's skin when you do portraits or figure studies. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Surfed too long - thin layers

I've added the first layer of relatively thin paint over the background, using the lovely rich burnt sienna mixed with some other colours (naples yellow, indian red). I'm finding it quite interesting working on this particular board as I don't think it was primed very well. The paint I apply just gets sucked into the board. In a way, it's good because this first layer won't take long to dry.

Working on the fabric folds has been lovely. I started off with midtones and then added high and low lights in increasing contrast. The final highlights will be added later on. I'll also need to add some blue areas to the trousers (reflections from the desk).

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Surfed too long - the drawing

It's been a while since I painted anything, which is a shame. Being back in South Africa for an indeterminate period of time has left me feeling a bit wary about starting anything new. An oil painting takes so long to dry...and I would rather not leave a freshly painted lovely here when I shoot back to the UK. However, since it now looks like I might be here for at least another 2 months and counting, I decided that I would take on a small project.

Since I've been spending an awful lot of time at my computer and I sometimes feel half dead but unable to drag myself away, I've decided to capture that feeling with a painting of a skeleton at a computer station. Haha.

It's just a 'bit of fun' painting, nothing too heartachy or serious. I want to try and NOT start off the painting with the idea that I can be an expressionist, painting loosely and making each single line cry out with description and meaning. Instead, I'm going to focus on making the painting nice and tight. Clear and neat and bordering on realism...and nicely blended. This is, after all what I always end up doing anyway and it might take some of the angst out of it! I hope that my choice in subject matter allows me to use my wet-on-wet technique although I do fancy painting a little bit more with quite runny paint as this makes lovely neat lines.


Starting here with the outline I jotted down the main lines of the image using a pastel crayon (no pencil for me thank you!) I decided not to use a wash for a change as I want to see what it feels like to paint on that naked white canvas.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The parliament paintings - the water carrier

Today's session has been an experiment in some techniques I haven't used before. To start, I used the cerulean blue to express the mid-tones on the figures. I didn't completely cover the layers already painted, including the original light blue wash. You can still see parts of the canvas showing through, giving it quite a rough feeling.

With the figures complete I turned my attention to the background and introduced a new colour - cobalt blue. Originally I had added some light purple to the painting but it spoiled the effect so I scraped it off. The cobalt blue was added using vertical brush strokes with thick paint straight from the tube. I really like the rough effect of the canvas showing through, so I have not covered the background completely with the cobalt blue. On top of that, while still wet, I added some white vertical stripes. These turned out to be too much, so I took some non-absorbent paper and pressed it against the background, blurring the white and cobalt blue together a little (a technique called tonking). Next I took a palette knife and scratched away some of the paint in vertical lines (a technique called sgraffito). I still feel like there is something missing from this painting, so won't call it done just yet.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Reworking an old painting

I'm preparing for another trip to South Africa next week and I want to get as many paintings as possible finished. Luckily the painting gods seem to be on my side as I completed 'Selkie Woman, after Rackham'. A selkie is a mythical shape-shifting creature; a seal that can shed it's skin and turn into a human. Humans fall in love with selkies only to find that they are missing later on; or some humans hide the seal skin so that the selkie must stay in human form.

I loved this image from Arthur Rackham the moment I saw it. It's taken a while to complete but here you go!


Thursday, 30 June 2011

The parliament paintings - bottle dresses

It's been a very productive day for me as work on the dancers painting stepped up a notch. I realised today that it takes me about an hour to get into happy painting mode, even if I just sit and look at the painting for most of that. Today's session started off with some work on the highlights around the top half of the figures, with white and cadmium yellow. I also restated some dark areas with cobalt blue and made some marks on the faces to establish expression. The first dancer seems a bit constipated at the moment...not quite what I am going for!

The main thrust of this session however was to work on the bottle skirts. To do this I first created the shadows with the cobalt blue, then mixing burnt sienna with varying degrees of cadmium yellow and white I applied wet-on-wet paint carefully to define the bottles (using my reference material as a guide). It's quite rough work and each brush stroke is loosely painted (the focus here is to keep things free and loose), then a new colour is overlapped or painted adjacent. I absolutely love to paint this way, mixing colours straight on the canvas with thick, juicy, undiluted paint. Once all the main details were added I took white straight from the tube and added the lightest highlights plus the cement between the bottles (still working wet-on-wet). Et voila! Completed skirts! The last dancer will have green bottles so these will be done in another session.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Reworking an old painting

When I arrived in the UK last week I took out a painting I started last year and never finished. It's the kind of painting I used to do very often - a medieval romantic depiction of loneliness and longing. It suddenly felt like I should work on it, so I grabbed the paints and got started. When I last worked on this, the image was very flat and there was no colour balance overall, so I adjusted this by mixing up my now favourite shadow purple (cadmium red and cobalt blue) and liberally applied to all the dark areas on the painting. I also added some red to the water to suggest the fabric of the dress showing through the waves and made some minor changes to the rest of the painting. It's almost complete now except for her skin and face which needs some definition, and her hair which needs to be finished.

The parliament paintings - adding midtones and highlights

I must admit that I haven't been painting as much as I would like recently as life has been getting in the way. Every day I feel the urge to paint...it's constantly in the back of my head and I have this feeling of 'if only I could nip out to the studio and paint a bit' - unfortunately that's not always possible and hasn't been for a few days. But today I managed to make some time and made the 30 second trek to my studio in the garden to set up my kit for a session. It's been raining today as well, so on top of the blissful joy of painting I had the lovely treat of doing it in a warm, dry studio while the beautiful sound of rain hitting the wooden roof kept me company.

I started on the dancers and added some cadmium yellow midtones. It's a pity you can't see the radiance on this photo, but the yellow is really very yellow. The skirts of the dancers are something I'm puzzling over and am toying with the idea of painting the bottles that appear on the real statues. I thought I would leave this out but as I looked more and more at the painting I realised that there wasn't enough detail to make it interesting.

I also tried out a cool skin tone on the faces (and red eyes!) but this doesn't work very well. The problem is that I used a totally different colour palette for the skin, adding naples yellow to cadmium red and white. I will have to work over this and stick to my palette this time.

I also did some work on the water carrier painting, adding highlights to the figures and pillar supporting the bendy person. I'm finding it quite strange to work on the cerulean blue wash as it seems not to have dried properly or is too oily or something. I can't put my finger on it but it's not taking new layers of paint very well. As you can see I've had to paint over my pencil lines (the white lines in the background) as these are showing up very clearly - not good obviously!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The parliament paintings - shadows

Settling in today was hard work, but I managed to get all the darkest shadows completed for the 'dancers' and the 'water carrier'. I used straight cobalt blue on the dancers. This mixed with the wet layer of cadmium yellow and made a groovy green. I'll need to wait for this to dry now. I actually really like how the dancers are coming along. There's something quite spooky about them. I like their empty eyes - haunting, isn't it? The background was fun to do as well. I used brush strokes to accentuate the movement in the painting and am quite pleased with the results.


The water carrier's shadows were painted with a purple mix from cadmium red and cerulean blue. I struggled a bit as the wash already on the canvas was still a bit wet and I kept painting away the colour, leaving white marks. Note to self - wait for wash to dry.


The parliament paintings - transferring the image to canvas

I've been giving a lot of thought to which painting want to start with for the last few weeks. I finally decided to start with the dancers as I quite like the colour scheme I've chosen (yellow, green and blue) and the image appeals to me right now. I arrived in the UK a few days ago and haven't actually painted for about a week or so...so after running out yesterday to buy some canvas I found myself quite ready to begin painting again.

Using a thin cadmium yellow wash I covered the canvas. Once mostly dry I sketched out the main lines of the image using a grid to get the negative spaces and positioning correct. The drawing is far from perfect and there are a few correction lines, but that's ok because the lines are really just guidelines. I made a bit of a boo boo when I tried to erase some pencil lines with a putty eraser - because the paint was still a bit wet, it literally smudged the putty onto the canvas and it is impossible to get off! So now I have some unlovely grey sticky smudges on my canvas. Ah well, I'm sure I'll be able to paint over them.


I've also applied a thin cerulean blue wash to the canvas that will become the painting of the water carrier. I'm toying with the idea of working on multiple paintings at once...both to try and keep the series 'together' in terms of style and also to try and save time while waiting for layers to dry. It might turn out to be too overwhelming though; I generally feel like I need to get lost in one image/emotion/cathartic experience at a time.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The parliament paintings - sketches and colour studies

After identifying the 5 images I want to paint I did some very rough sketches, adjusting each one for composition. There were two images that were particularly irksome...the shepherd and the pointing mermaids. I managed to fix the composition problems with the shepherd but I might throw out the pointing mermaids entirely and replace it with something else (there is just no unity there).


Once each sketch was done, I photocopied them and used the ol' colouring pencils to create 3 colour studies for each sketch - typically 1 cool, 1 warm and 1 complimentary. I want to create a similar feel for the range but don't want to be burdened with using the same colour pallet so experimenting has been useful.


By now I have a good idea of how each painting will be composed and styled, although new ideas keep popping in my head....like adding borders. I saw a really amazing painting recently where a border was actually painted on the canvas and it looked quite cool, so on some of the sketches I experimented with different border styles. The jury is still out on that one - I think a bit more experimentation is in order!

The next step is to create proper drawings of each image and transfer these onto canvas.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The parliament paintings - preparation

I'm very excited to be starting a brand new project which takes me on a journey to my past and into some interesting mental landscapes. A 'parliament' is the collective noun for a group of owls; which is what I'm calling this collection of paintings. The idea comes from some black and white photos I took about 8 or 9 years ago at a small and very unusual house-turned-into-museum called 'the owl house' in Nieu Bethesda. The house is situated in the starkly beautiful and lonely Karoo desert in South Africa on the outskirts of a tiny, dusty town. The house and garden are filled with these haunting cement statues in various poses; each one with eyes made from the bottoms of glass bottles. Some are decorated with mosaics, others with fine ground glass or sand. I was instantly enchanted by the place and took masses of photos (at the time I was hooked on black and white photography).

Finding these old photos in a box recently (rescued from languishing in dusty storage) brought back all those memories and gave me the idea to transform some of these images into modern and personally meaningful paintings.

I've started by deciding a format for the collection and general outlines of each painting (based on the photos). I've decided on 5 paintings, although I'm sure I could do many more! I think as I go along, my vision will become a little clearer...at the moment I just have a vague idea of what I'd like to achieve :)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Sentinel - finishing off

The last part of this painting was trying to get the colours correct on the rocky outcrops and sand in the sunlit area. I spent some time trying to get the correct mix of cadmium red, cadmium yellow and alternating with naples yellow and white to get lighter shades. I played around with the rocky outcrops several times, scraping off paint that was too dark or too blue. Eventually I mixed the right colour! Using this I painted the rocky areas and finally used a purple-grey for the shadows.


I finished off by darkening any areas in the shade to focus the viewer's attention on the lit area.

For a better image - and to buy a print - see my website.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sentinel - creating detail

When I look at my painting right now I have to laugh. I've never done a landscape before but it instantly looks like it comes out of a fairy tale or fantasy illustration. I guess my brain is just wired that way and no matter how hard I try I can't change my style to something more 'real-life'-ish. I'm not complaining of course, but it's funny to experiment with your paintings and realising that your concious mind might be pretty marginal when it comes to deciding your style. Maybe it's something to do with technique. I love to mix wet paints on a canvas...in fact I find it very frustrating to wait for layers to dry before painting over them. I think this creates a certain 'look' that might be part of my 'style'.

I eavesdropped on an interesting conversation last week where a South African artist was instructing a prospective artist for their gallery and said that they 'should focus on their style rather than their technique as this was very important. A person coming to the gallery to buy art would want to see the artist's style throughout each painting...'. It made me wonder how you go about working on your style, if not through the techniques that you use to paint? I don't know if style is something that happens without your input or if it's something you actively have to practise by changing your techniques.


Anyhow, back to the painting at hand. This session was mainly to define in more detail the trees in the foreground and along the slope of the mountain. Some lines were added here and there to represent the trunks of the trees and some more detail was added to the mountain (rocks, etc).

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sentinel - fiddling around a bit

I managed to get a nice autumn colour for my mountain so I added bits here and there to deepen the colours...I feel like the painting is starting to get a little juicy! The background was finished off by softening the harsh lines of the distant mountain.


 The shape of the lightest mountain area is still not correct, and I've added some more of the deep purple hue to try to discover that shape. I've added some suggestions of trees to the slopes but will work these in a bit more detail later on. I still feel like there's a lot of work to be done on this painting and I've been flagging a bit. Need to focus this week and try to pull it together.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sentinel - light areas and establishing tree line

There's something lovely about a rugged mountainside bathed in light...damn difficult to paint though! I started this session putting in some tree shapes in the foreground, although these will be much less defined once this area is finished. The tree line on the slope of the mountain has been defined. I'm not particularly happy with the very green green and will have to mute this down somewhat.


Next was the challenge of getting the correct colour for the lightest area of the painting. I started here by mixing small amounts of cadmium red and blue to naples yellow and white. The resulting peach colour was pleasing, but I feel that I'm missing a more visceral red-orange. I'm going to revise my orange mix slightly to get a darker colour, more reminiscent of autumn. To finish I started to map out the general details of the rocky outcrop in the focal area.

This painting seems to be more challenging, not only in the subject matter but as it was started smack bang in the middle of a recent computer game addiction. I've been slaughtering Lizardmen instead of staring for hours at my source picture and working out the shapes of the shadows or pondering over the exact shade of purple I want mix for a particular area. Naughty me.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Sentinel - the background and shadows

Once the wash dried I started working on the background, filling in the large blocks where the dark shadows are. I paid specific attention to the focal area (the rocky outcrop in the sun); adding the darkest colour here. The focal point of a painting should have the biggest contrast between your complimentary colours (or light and dark) as this draws the eye. The natural slope of the mountain is being used to draw the eye in an upwards direction as well.


The mountain in the background has been lightly suggested but will need more work done later. The original image lacks this detail but I have added it for depth.

Sentinel - preparation

For this painting I have decided on a dramatic landscape where part of a mountain is illuminated with strong light from the setting sun, leaving much of the rest of the landscape in shadows. An outcropping of rock stands guard over the surrounds in this lighter area. I'm using the complimentary colours of dark purple and orange as my primary palette.


To start I applied a thin wash of the dark purple (the dominant colour) to the canvas. The area that will be lit up has a lighter wash. Taking a thinned down naples yellow I drew the basic outlines.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Jamm and Kira - the completed work

Last night and this morning I spent some time fixing up the small glaring problems, including adding some material draped over the right arm of the couch to soften that very hard and dark blue corner. Now the eye doesn't linger there anymore. I also lightened the couch between her legs for the same reason. Dark colours draw the eye, so rather soften and lighten the colours on the areas that aren't the focus of your painting.

I also added a bit of extra fur to Kira's right cheek and mouth area to equalise the two sides of her face. And that's it! I'm pleased that the painting has come out with the mood I hoped to capture. 

You can see a larger image on my web site http://www.jammfarstrider.com/art_jammandkira.html


Friday, 20 May 2011

Jamm and Kira - remodelling some details

It's a chilly day here in Pretoria, enough to make me want to stay in bed all day and watch movies. Yesterday was rather industrious though, as I re-painted some areas that were bugging me. I've made a stab at the background with the suggestion of a brick wall. My base colour, naples yellow, was used liberally with rough brush strokes over the purple brick lines. To maintain the colour balance of the painting I added touches of cadmium red and lime yellow on areas of the bricks. The red warms the painting up nicely. There's still a bit more work to be done here as I want to let the viewer know where the light is coming from and at the moment it feels like the background is stapled to the foreground which isn't great.


The couch has had some work done too, with the material hanging over the left arm being completely reworked. Here I used a mix with a larger amount of lime yellow to show the light coming in from the right. The other arm of the couch is still a work in progress. I decided to abandon the yellow and paint the arm in the same blue as the top of the couch, with star patterns. I hope to add more detail to the pattern and lighten the corner under the orange cushion as this areas pulls the eye too much.

To complete the head I've added details and highlights to the hair which has softened the face.

I'm noticing small problems that need to be fixed and will be addressing those as I go along finishing up the last sections including the clothing. Even a small dab of paint can totally change a painting and at this point I'm getting a bit anxious about messing things up!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Jamm and Kira - working on the arms and the cat

I've been very excited at how the painting is coming along, especially since my latest editions - to complete most of the details on and around the cat.


Using the same skin tone colours of the face (and squinting of course) I painted the hand and arm resting on the cushion. I think some more work might be required on the arm but for now I'm going to let it dry.

The cat took up most of my attention in this session as I really wanted to express Kira's personality. It was also the first time I painted cat fur, most of my subjects usually being human. I took the payne's grey mixed with a small amount of naples yellow to fill in the grey areas of her fur. Still keeping the brush strokes in the same direction as her fur grows, I added highlights using a larger amount of naples yellow in the mix. To complete the session, I took the payne's grey and added in the darker areas.

I'm still a bit disturbed by the right arm of the sofa and have been toying with the idea of changing it to a blue (to match the top of the sofa). And the background is still a nightmare!

I think about 3 more sessions should complete this painting. I've already started thinking about what to paint next...

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Jamm and Kira - the face

It's been a very quiet Sunday in Pretoria, everyone has been out of the house and I decided to put on some lovely mournful music and paint. Because the face has been bugging me I chose it to work on today. The first thing I did was to mix up a warm skin tone with a tiny amount of cadmium yellow, cadmium blue and a large amount of white. I also had some indian red ready for the darker face shadows. 

Normally I keep the image I am working from (in this case a photograph) off the painting, but to really get intimate with the shapes and colours I pinned the photo to the canvas, right next to the face. I found that when I shortened the distance between looking at my source image and the canvas I got a much better result. 


I've been watching my mom paint and have learned a few lessons from her. She says that squinting lets you see the various colours on an apparently uniform surface. So without further ado, I mixed up the skin tone and added blocks to the canvas. Then squinting like mad, I mixed various shades of pink yellow, brown and blue and added these carefully to the face. I was careful to remove the blue 'lines' I had painted earlier for the features as the face doesn't actually have any lines (except the line formed by the lips touching). 

To complete the session I took a small brush with payne's grey and added some thin shadows around the eyelids and added colour and reflected light to the eyes. Then, taking a dry brush I blended some of the colours.

To finish off the head, the hair will need some work once the face is dry.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Jamm and Kira - details and frustration

I had a terrible urge to paint some cat, so here you can see I've started adding fur to Kira using Payne's Grey mixed with naples yellow. I've been careful to create the brush strokes in the direction that her fur grows to make the fur look realistic. At the moment it's all a bit shaggy, but once I add the highlights and soften the brush strokes her image will become a little clearer and more defined. I've also been and playing around with her eyes with a straight lime yellow and a tiny bit of white for the iris's to get that wickedly bright shine. At the moment I don't understand the paws very well so I'm going to leave those for a bit.


I've also added the stripes on the cushion and some extras shadows around the face with the pthalo blue mixed with cadmium red. These will eventually be painted over by some warm skin tones taking away the dead look. I'm toying around with the background a bit to see what will work, but I think the dark colour is too distracting and I will probably make it a very soft pale colour once the brick lines are dry.

I go through stages in a painting where I loathe the work and at the moment I'm going through one of those. I know it will pass but I'm frustrated that the painting needs more work. I'm not the most patient of people...

So now I feel like I need to stop looking at it for a few weeks (also to let things dry so I don't make a dirty mess).

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Jamm and Kira - starting on details

Here's where things start to take shape. I started by adding more detail to the couch and correcting the angle of the right arm which was originally too steep. By adding highlights where the light falls on the material and working on the creases in the material (naples yellow mixed with the pthalo blue), the shape of the cushions are now starting to emerge. I've also started adding big blocks of colour to the figure's face and hands. It's important to check the light source and I usually try to see the shadows of the face in planes or shapes before going into more detail with the features. Gah! Those eyes still need a lot of work, but once I start working on the finer detail of the face they should look less like 'night of the living dead'!


My favourite part so far has been working on the fabric of the clothes. I love painting folds! Here I took cadmium red mixed with a lot of white and added some mid tones. The I took pure white and applied thickly on all the areas that are lit up from the sun. The naples yellow wash is not completely covered and I quite like the effect, although this will eventually be covered. To finish off this session I took the phtalo blue mixed with lots of white to add some accents to the creases and folds. 

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do in the background and you can see the brown smear in the top right as an attempt to find a colour that will suit the painting. So far, I'm not dead keen on the brown and am still pondering the problem.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Jamm and Kira - shadows and blocks of colour

Once happy with the drawing on the canvas, I went straight on to painting the shadows. For this I mixed a dark purple with cadmium red and pthalo blue. I love the deep colour this gives. I was taught never to use black in a painting; and I agree - it's such a flat and dead colour, all fun gets sucked right out of it. Of course, when doing something super dramatic, or monochrome black is invaluable. But I digress...

I used the deep purple on the shadows all over the painting. Using the same colours throughout the painting creates a sense of balance and harmony.



Once the shadows were added, I decided to add the large blocks of colour to the couch. Working with Lime yellow, naples yellow I added the main couchy sections. After that, I added the blue striped using the same phtalo blue mixed with some white.

Now, a grey cat is not particularly interesting when painted, so I added some lovely rich indian red highlights to spots where the sun catches her fur. I used the same colour to the hair of the figure.

Jamm and Kira - the drawing

This painting is a large scale rendition of a photo that my partner (Joe) took while we were on holiday at my parent's house in South Africa. The cat (Kira) is a venerable old lady of approximately 14 years and is quite a grumpy cat, if still decently loveable. The photo was taken in the mid-afternoon sunshine with the light entering from the right.

The first step to creating the painting was the drawing. I created a 4x2 grid on both the photo and the canvas and sketched out the outline in thinned down blue paint. I made the cat larger than in real life to accentuate her in the painting (as it's not really a self portrait!)


The feeling I want to convey in the painting is one of relaxation and peace; the owner with her pet, enjoying each other's company in the sunshine. It's also deeply personal painting for me, as I raised Kira from a kitten and even though I live hundreds of miles away now, we still have a wonderful connection that is rekindled when I go to visit. Technically, this painting is a challenge of perspective, with the figure receding into the distance and the large legs closer to the viewer.