Tavistock Abbey Copper Beech

I made this little sketch sitting outside in the sun today, at Cafe Liaison in Tavistock, looking out across the churchyard to the remains of the old Abbey building.  This huge beech with its wide shady branches usually has children playing or people sitting around it, so I tried to record a few of them, though it’s hard work painting figures direct from life when they are all moving about and have no idea someone is scribbling away trying to catch their movement.

Lord of the Sea

Ulmo, Lord of the Sea, playing one of his great horns.   I painted this very fast – it is A3, but I completed it in about 3 hours, and I was trying for a free style with lots of movement.   Of course it looks better in real life than in the photo, but I’m still quite pleased with this one at the moment.

Paintings from a visit to Essex

I was visiting Maldon last week, where my mother grew up. Living in Cornwall, I’m not used to a flat landscape full of wide fields of wheat and barley, and I was delighted to see corn poppies, too, growing among the barley. So I had to paint them.

I also liked the tall forms of oats – presumably left behind by a previous crop – that had popped up here and there among the barley. I painted this one very quickly, sitting in the sun, using inktense watercolour pencils:

In Maldon, I visited the famous causeway across the River Blackwater where the battle of Maldon is thought to have taken place, more than a thousand years ago, and here it is!

Painting on Perspex

This is something of an experiment. I had a big frame where the back panel had got damaged, but the frame & perspex were fine, so I tried some peelable glass paint and made this design on the perspex. I like the way it changes with the background and the light! You can see it looks quite different in this second picture:

Subject is, of course, my beloved saluki lurcher Rosie, from Lurcherlink rescue. Because painting on a transparent sheet where light comes through the paint itself is pretty demanding in terms of how the brushstrokes look, I drafted this out in advance using coloured pencils.

Finally: this is the window that I originally bought the glass paint for!

Because it’s peelable, I can just take it off and replace with something else if I get bored of it.

Ooooh! Exhibitions!

 

I have a whole bunch of paintings being shown at the Tavistock Group of Artists exhibition in the Town Hall in Tavistock from 18th to 22nd June, including my Daughters of the Rivers series.  All the paintings will be for sale : eek!

I’ve also had a couple of paintings accepted for the Tavistock Heritage Trust exhibition to  celebrate Tavistock’s status as a World Heritage Site in Tavistock’s Butchers’ Hall,  Wednesday 26th and Saturday 29th June. Doors open to all between 10am and 4pm, and there will be a special family event on Saturday 29th (??!!).

Experiments in Lighting Lúthien Tinúviel

I’ve painted Tolkien’s heroine Lúthien Tinúviel before, but this time instead of painting her dancing in spring among the hemlock-flowers, I decided to go for an autumnal scene suggested by this verse:
He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beachen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.

This was my first version of the painting:


But I felt that it was a little over-bright, and since I happened to be photographing it in the afternoon, I wondered how it would look if I moved it into the light of a directional sunbeam coming in through an open door. It looked like this:

I decided, having looked at it for a bit, that I really liked the lighting, so I gave the painting a dark glaze to replicate the effect: this is the same painting, photographed this time in a dull north light, but painted to show the sunbeam.

Daughters of the Rivers

I painted this set of four small images for the Tavistock Group of Artists exhibition, which takes place 18th-22nd June in Tavistock Town Hall. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm.   Each of these is 10 inches by 7 inches.

Lynher
Lynher is standing on one of the many quays on the river that were used to launch craft for the D-day landings: she is remembering the military history of the place, as shown by her armlet of rusty chainmail.
Tamar with a seal: the background the Tamar Bridge
Tamar is eating an apple: perhaps the variety ‘Tamar Beauty’ and she is accompanied by one of the grey seals that visit the Tamar and sometimes travel up stream as far as Gunnislake.
River Tavy before the Tavistock bridge
Tavy : her feet sparkle on the water, because she is a river with energy to spare, and her own hydro-electric plant! She is wearing a hat she might have bought in Tavistock Pannier Market.
Walkham
Walkham is a playful young river who dances over the stones, but never really grows up, because she flows into the river Tavy, which in turn flows into Big Mama Tamar.

Falmouth River-views

I had a week’s holiday recently beside the Fal River, a little further west in Cornwall than my usual haunts.  It was lovely to wake and see the tide from the window.  This first image I painted from life, first thing in the morning,  before the early clouds cleared, when everything was silvery-blue  with  just a hint of pink.

This is an early morning scene too, but it was SO early that I took a quick photo of the wonderful sky and the leaves outlined dark against it, and then painted it later. The result was more polished, but I’m not sure I don’t prefer the first and more subtle image above. (My husband likes the bright colours better though!)

A Floral Portrait

A friend of mine sent me a quick selfie a while ago of herself wearing a dress that she had made. I thought the pose and expression was interesting (as well as the dress being lovely) and so I made a painting of it – though, I had to change a lot of things.
The original photo was taken with a phone camera into a mirror, indoors in artificial light.  This is the painting I made from it.

My friend is a great lover of books, so I turned the phone in her hand into a book, and added her pet budgie and tortoise to the picture to keep her company, along with an enormous rose-bush and a random pillar.

This picture is only 14 by 10 inches, so I’m quite pleased I achieved a likeness in such a small space.

I went through several iterations of this painting, and photographed each one as I went along, so I thought it might be interesting to post each one.

Version 1.  Her face looks washed out, the shadows look odd and the pillar is wiggly. Also there’s something odd about her pose. 

Version 2: better lighting, her face is more ‘there’  and  her  legs are  in  a more  natural  position.         

Version 3 : I realised that although the figure and the tortoise had shadows, I had forgotten to give the pillar one! The  shadows  still  don’t  look quite  right here, but  at  least  there  IS a shadow  on  the  pillar where  it  should  be. 
Now  scroll  up  to  see  the  final  version  where  I fixed  the  shadows and made a few final tweaks to the lighting!

You  can  see  the  lighting  is  slightly  different again,and that changes the colours. I know that some people feel that paintings should be scanned rather than photographed, because the lighting is consistent then, but… well.

The thing is that a real painting hanging in a real room does change with the light.   This is not a digital image: it’s made up of layers of variably translucent paint, and it responds to the light; its colour, its warmth, its direction.   Putting it in a scanner where it will be lit by a single flash of artificial light is no more ‘accurate’ than  photographing it in warm south afternoon light, or colder north-facing morning light.  I now take photos of my paintings in various locations, then choose one,  adjust colours in software to pick the one where the light pleases me and the image on my laptop matches most closely with the image I have set in front of me.  But none of the photographs are wrong.

Swimming with a Friend

This painting was inspired partly by the work of Joaquín Sorolla, ‘Spanish Master of Light’ whose work is being shown in a major exhibition in London this year, and partly by a photo that I took while I was canoeing on the Helford estuary in Cornwall.  The Helford river is rather lovely because the water is very clear and green, unlike my local river, the Tamar, which tends to be a bit brown in her upper reaches.   I added a seal and a swimmer : the seal is a grey seal, but I’m not sure what their story is!

This is a larger painting than usual: A2 size, and it’s on a box canvas so I finished it by wrapping the paint around the edges.

Four Mixed Media Paintings: Brusho pigment, watercolour & Ink.

I mostly paint in acrylics, but I decided to experiment with mixed media for these paintings.

Wood-elf
This intense-looking elven lady is almost a sculpture as well as a painting: I made her face in acrylic sculpting paste, and then coloured her with brusho pigment and watercolor pencils.

This next peacock used brusho pigment and watercolor pencils too, though he’s flat on the paper, no sculpting paste this time!
Here are two images where I used ink and brusho.  The first painting is of one of my cats: I painted the cat first, then added brusho and some sprayed ink.


This  one,  I applied  brusho  to  the  paper, then added some  cheerful  dancing  ink figures.

Elbereth : Poured acrylic

This was a bit of an experimental piece, using brusho dry pigment and acrylic pouring medium for the background, and titanium white acrylic for the overpainted face and figure. It’s quite highly textured and more glossy than a lot of my work: I love the random mix of blues and greens that I achieved here.

The inspiration was this poem:

Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!

Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.

JRR Tolkien