We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
"Little Gidding"
T S Eliot

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Lots of fun and a little history ...

The Fearless Four got together recently and we decided to do a mixed media canvas of a bird of paradise.

We all used a 10 x 8 canvas (I used a canvas board), and we had a reference photo to work with.

After painting the background and drawing the outline, I used tissue paper, skeleton leaves and string for the bird and tree branch.

I've had skeleton leaves for more years than I care to remember, and I do use them occasionally, but the quantity never seems to diminish!

All was applied using a little ivory Powertex.

I did try to stick to the bird's actual colouring using various brands of acrylic paint, including some pearlescent.

Once home I added some texture paste and re-painted the background.

And the others? Lin used actual feathers on her bird, but then eventually decided to obliterate them with Powertex as she wasn't happy with it. It is not yet finished, so no photo.

Here is Monica's - I do like the background on this one. I think the blue she has used is closer to the actual colour than mine.

Linda also redid her background, using some crackle paste - I like that gnarled branch!

Another good day! Next time I think we are all doing something different - should be interesting!

Recently had a trip to Eltham Palace, which is in Greenwich (London). For those who like a bit of history, Eltham Palace was once an important royal palace, and one of the few medieval palaces to survive with substantial remains intact. It was large enough to accommodate the entire Tudor court. Under Edward IV (1461-83) significant changes were made, including the addition of  the 1470 great hall which still stands today.

Eltham Palace then went into decline in the early 17th century. In the 1930s Stephen and Virginia Courtauld had a house built for them which adjoined the great hall. The Courtaulds left Eltham in 1944 and the site was occupied by Army educational units until 1992. English Heritage too over the site in 1995, repairing and restoring the 1930s house and gardens. It is now the finest art deco mansion open to the public.

Here are just a few photos to give a flavour ...

The main entrance; the great hall is to the right of the picture.

Inside the great hall, which was restored by the Courtaulds in the 1930s.

The entrance hall with marquetry panels.

The dining room

Virginia Courtauld's bedroom

and the adjoining bathroom - very opulent!

The gardens are very extensive but I loved this wisteria.

Another fabulous day out, pity the sun didn't shine, but you can't have everything!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

"Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?"

Written by Jane Austin to her sister (15 June 1808)

I'm in that usual place of too many projects and nothing finished! So here are some further acrylic pourings, when I tried adding some of the Pebeo fantasy paints - Prisme and Moon. I didn't add enough, but I do think the combination will work if I'm more adventurous with the quantities!

This was mainly an acrylic pour with some green Moon and turquoise Prisme.

Here's a close up.

The Pebeo paints don't sink below the acrylic, but to get the special effects I should have added more of the Pebeo paint.

I was pleased with this pour, as I got lots of cells without applying any heat. Think this will go on the front of a notebook!

Lastly, this was pouring colours separately. Another notebook cover ...?

I recently visited the village of Chawton in Hampshire, which was home to Jane Austen. Jane Austen's House is now a museum, which I could quite happily live in!

This 17th century house in where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. The cottage was part of the Chawton Estate which her brother Edward inherited. Edward offered his mother and sisters this cottage as their home.

We visited in April when the garden was just coming to life. Very pretty.

We then went to Chawton House which was where her brother lived.

Jane refers to this as the "Great House".

"Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort."
Jane Austen

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Strut your stuff ...

Took part in a fabulous workshop on Sunday. This is quite a large canvas, 24 inches by 12 inches.

We used acrylic paint, and also did some very mini pours on the peacock tail feathers, so a little bit random. There is also a little crackle paste on the background, for some texture. The background is very subtle, with just a hint of colour.

Came home tired, paint spattered, and very happy.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

I'll take water with that ...

I recently went on a short art break in Dorset. It was great fun with a lovely bunch of people, and the food was too delicious. A glass or three of wine with dinner too!

We were using watercolour (including Brushos) and mixed media - for me that was mainly collage. I learned about using watercolour ground not only to knock back the collage pieces, but also to enable me to paint on top of the collage too.

I also finally learned how to use a ruling pen with masking fluid - something I have struggled with, mostly ending up with a lot of blobs.

Another useful thing I did was to do three paintings together, so I wasn't too precious about it! After all, it is only a piece of paper!

So, I did 3 of these at the same time, all slightly different ...

I had to finish the sunflower at home, as I ran out of time, and I wasn't prepared to take a damp painting on the train!

The centre is textured, using tissue paper mixed with the watercolour ground. Also, rather than dry brushing, I used a piece of sandpaper to create a few subtle highlights on the centre.

I also added a bit of gold too, but that doesn't really show in the photo.

I had a really fabulous time; so good to get away from everything and just paint!

I've just started a 5 week course on portrait drawing. Something I've never tried and I'm finding it rather a challenge. We are using photos of famous people so it will be a test as to whether you recognise anyone!!

Our mini heatwave is over and we are back to April showers, but my wisteria is about to flower, and it is covered in blooms, must remember to take photo.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

I've seen the light ...

I finally finished project three of my acrylic intermediate course. Should have done so in February, but a virus knocked me out for most of that month - which is best forgotten!

This is the largest stretched canvas I've done so far - 24 inches by 18 inches.  The aim of this project was to use a palette knife to apply the acrylic paint, so not much detail can be included. I found it a bit tricky at first, particularly the smaller areas, but I did enjoy using the knife on large expanses of the canvas, as I do like to create some texture. I did use a brush for tiny areas though, as even my smallest palette knife was too big!

I remembered to take stage photos so ...

First I did an outline sketch using pencil, then using very dilute paint, most of the canvas was covered with washes. The majority of the drips would ultimately disappear!

Using a palette knife, the trees, roofs and buildings were added.

Next, windows (tricky) and sea walls.
The first layer of the sea, so it will have that green undertone.

Everything else was completed, and the final layers for the sea were added.

Now, you may think this is finished ...

The original photo was taken at sunset, so I had to add a warm glaze ... help - never done a glaze before and I had visions of ruining everything!

I procrastinated for a while, tidying up paints and brushes, and other inconsequential stuff. Then I held my breath and ... ended up doing two glaze layers as my first one was so pale. I think I have achieved that warm light you get when the sun sets.

I won't be so frightened of glazing again, as it does tie everything together.

I enjoyed using a palette knife, and will keep a couple in my tool box.

I've just returned from an art holiday - just a few days, but I really enjoyed it. It will probably be the subject of my next post!

Hurrah - the sun is out and it is feeling much warmer. Lots more tree blossom now too. Doesn't Spring just make you feel good?

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Fish Tales

I recently took part in another workshop using Powertex. We started with a large square canvas, and outlined the fish shapes. Apart from the basic shapes we could use any textures and colours we liked. This is a semi-abstract take on Siamese Fighting Fish.

First we roughly painted in the background, and next we added texture onto the fish using a little Powertex. Then followed several layers of acrylic paint.

A 5 hour workshop is quite an intense experience, and I didn't finish the detail until I got home, spending probably another hour or so on it until I was happy.

I did a little research into these fish, as I'm not well versed in fishy facts, and here is a brief description:

The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), commonly known as the betta, is a popular fish in the aquarium trade. Bettas are a member of the gourami family and are known to be highly territorial. Males in particular are prone to high levels of aggression and will attack each other if housed in the same tank. If there is no means of escape, this will usually result in the death of one or both of the fish. Female bettas can also become territorial towards each other if they are housed in too small an aquarium. It is typically not recommended to keep male and female bettas together, except temporarily for breeding purposes which should always be undertaken with caution.

Wild bettas live in shallow, freshwater areas. They prefer ponds, streams, canals and rice paddies, but they are also found in rivers. They feed upon plankton, mosquitoes and insect larvae. Bettas are known as fighting fish because two males in close proximity will fight with one another for dominance.

So, remember - don't keep your Bettas in the same tank!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Did you ever stop to think ...

... and forget to start again?
(A A Milne - Winnie the Pooh)

The final project on my art course was to create an abstract and we had to find our own inspiration.

Which for me involved a lot of thinking!

Abstracts are quite difficult as they come from the imagination, but there has to be a starting point. For my inspiration I found a photo of a autumn day with the sun coming through autumnal foliage; I just loved the colours. Then - more thinking ...

I decided to experiment by creating some poured acrylic skins. Which means doing a normal pour, but onto a non-stick surface. I used a silicon oven liner.

I let them dry and cure for about 2 weeks before I peeled them off, and stored them between sheets of wax paper.

I'm using a 12 x 12 stretched canvas, and I drew a design (for placement) before using dilute acrylic paint for the background.

I'm quite impatient whilst waiting for paint to dry, so I have learned that putting more acrylic over wet acrylic takes the first layer off. I used this to my advantage by creating fast moving drips over over the wet first layer. I made both horizontal and vertical drips.

Next I painted the circle in gold and added the horizontal and vertical lines. Later I knocked back the lines as they were too strong.

I carefully cut the skins (with scissors). I do like geometric shapes, hence triangles! Finally, I added some mica pieces (Golden's Gold Mica Flakes) which are held in a transparent medium.

I've called this "Summer's Last Breath", and it will probably go into my Etsy shop.

Hope we have seen the last of the bitter cold wind and freezing temperatures, and that summer is not far away!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Pouring happiness!

I've still got several projects that need finishing; being ill for most of February has set me back somewhat! Anyway, fully recovered now, and the sun is shining so feeling very Spring-like.

Still experimenting with pouring acrylics. It looks simple but it isn't - here's the science bit - some pigments are heavier than others, which should dictate the order of pour. But that is only if you know the specific gravity of the paints! I think I'll just continue to experiment and let serendipity prevail!

Here are some more ...

I used an old canvas board for this one, and I can still see the texture paste underneath! If you look carefully you can see a bird in the bottom black section!

This is a horizontal pour, with a black pour either side.

This tiny canvas has the excess from the previous pour above. I just scooped up the paint with a palette knife and dropped it onto the canvas, letting it do its own thing!

This pour is on a white glazed tile.

Sometimes there are air bubbles in a pour, and I think that heat can get rid of them. Musr remember that next time!

I've been using mountboard for experimental pours too, and I thought that it would be a pity not to use the successful ones  - so I've put some on the front of notebooks! This one, and a couple of others are in my Etsy shop (here), or there is a link on the sidebar.

Now, I must - must - must - finish some of the projects that are littering my craft room!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A different B side ...

I am very pleased February is over, as I was ill for most of it. Today is the first day of the meteorlogical Spring, but it is freezing with quite a bit of snow around, so not too spring-like!

Still having fun playing with pouring acrylics. This time the Fearless Four got together to do an LP pour. That is, take one old vinyl LP, cover the hole with a sticky label then do a slow pour!

What a mess!

But such fun ...

Whilst they were still wet and dripping I took these photos.

Linda's creation.



They took an age to dry. Here's mine -

I'm going to varnish it and then ... not sure - could make it into a clock, or just mount it onto a canvas; haven't made up my mind yet.

We all used the left over paint to do more pours on whatever was to hand, I did a small canvas -

Happy March madness!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Introducing Dixie the Diva ...

that's pronounced "diver".

I've had a particularly nasty virus for the past 10 days, when I've had no energy or inclination to anything. Feeling more human now, so I though I would introduce you to the latest member of my family!

This was a Powertex workshop which was particularly exhausting as it lasted 7 hours, but so enjoyable.

We started with a piece of shaped polystyrene and wrapped it in various layers of kitchen roll, masking tape and tin foil, which we then covered in Powertex. This was then fixed onto a steel rod embedded into a randomly carved piece of breezeblock. Wires were added for the fins and tails.

Eyes and mouth created with 3D Flex mixed with the Powertex and hand-shaped. The fins and tails made with fibres coated in Powertex.

The main body is covered in textural stuff such as paste and sand.

Finally got to work with various paints, overlaying mainly metallic and pearlescent colours.

I need to put some felt on the base so it doesn't mark surfaces. She is quite large so I need to find a good position for her.

But Dixie is ready for her close-up now!

 Kung Hei Fat Choi

(Year of the Dog)