Animal Art available by Diane Young of Manic Illustrations!
At times we get so focused on getting really good at an activity that time seems to run out for experimentation and playfulness.
I swim regularly and know that playing in the pool doing roly-polys or attempting handstands increases confidence and can stretch me out of my comfort zone. Yet on a day to day basis I only allow enough time to use the water to keep fit.
As an artist I like to create pictures that have a fair chance of being successful and that must mean following a well practiced strategy for getting a decent drawing transformed into a painting.
Playing with materials and ideas helps to break these predictable patterns and although there is a much greater chance of the exercise ending in an image that is far from perfect it is a route to discovering new techniques and allowing pursuit of different ideas.
The most difficult thing of course is allowing ourselves to have this time to be playful rather than pursuing a direct course to being predictably productive. The process of discovery through playfulness allows us to develop our practice further rather than stagnating and ultimately becoming bored with what we do.
Yesterday I allowed myself time to play; above is a print of my son’s drawing of an eagle which I transferred onto mdf board alongside is a print of my photo a well known local tree. I tried putting gold leaf on some buttons as a addition and sprayed around the board with gold laquer. Who knows where I will go with this, but my nominated play-day is over and now I must get back to work!
New Raven Original Painting
Here is my original painting which is now called The Gatekeeper in a nice chunky black A3 sized frame, it is a painting of a raven holding a key. Ravens are a common feature of ancient religion and mythologies from familiars of witches to the supernatural, from the carriers of souls and associations with good luck, to trickery and foreboding. According to legend, the Kingdom of England will fall if the ravens of the Tower of London are removed; care has been taken to ensure that they continue to inhabit the Tower as they have done now for centuries.
Stories and Mythology in my artwork
Sedna is mythological figure, a Goddess of the sea for the people of the arctic.
The Myth of Sedna
The young girl Sedna was tricked into marrying Raven, and later when her father tried to rescue her by kayak a raging storm brew and her father threw Sedna in to the sea in order to save himself. Her hands clung to the side of the boat and he beat them until her cold and frozen fingers fell into the sea and became sea mammals. Sedna sank under the sea and was transformed into a sea goddess, able to conjure up storms with her rage whereupon shaman must swim down to calm her by combing her hair.
The Innuits survival is dependant upon the success of their hunting animals. From this is derived a great respect for the animal kingdom. Part of the myth is that Sedna holds onto the animals if she is displeased with the people ( so that they will not be successful in hunting them) and untangling her hair is part of the process of calming her.
From this story I created my image of Sedna with fishes swimming amongst her tresses of red hair, she is looking up to the light of the sky on the surface of the water. The image at the bottom is a painting done some time later showing Sedna sleeping with three seals.
These three paintings on the left seen below featuring Sedna are for sale in Studio 71 in Totnes.
Sometimes I am asked where I get reference for my images. So here is how I get from an idea to a painting.
The initial idea is scribbled in my sketchbook. Usually my ideas arrive when I am not in my studio, it is most easy when my mind is wandering free. And hopefully my sketchbook is to hand. At this point it is terribly unrefined. Some of the sketches look like I cannot draw at all.
I then look for available references to get me to what I imagine that I wish to create. In this case it is a boy sleeping with wolves. I practice lots of sketches of wolves and sleeping children to get to know the shapes involved using the internet, books and my own photos if I have some.
Referencing and Practice:
I then use my practice sketches to make a convincing drawing of my original idea. It is important to observe copyright on other people’s images. They are used for practice and allow me to become familiar with the shapes.
My personal style then contributes to the form creating a painting which is truly unique. Finally others can see a hard copy of a snippet of my imagination. The paper trail you see here is useful to me as no sooner has the process been completed without this trail in a short period of time I would not remember how the image formed in the first place!
You may notice that I created the image and the background separately at first.
This painting is now nearly completed. My previous post shows my painting as of yesterday. Once the finishing touches have been made, I will scan it and post it into my Gallery page.
I often get ideas which would be impossible in real life, trying to make the idea look real is good fun. If you put a lion on top of an elephant, or you balance 3 magpies on top of one another, it has to be believable. Creating convincing images that are not like real life and making viewers believe the unbelievable is the greatest and most exciting challenge of all.
“Balancing Act” Prints Available.
This weekend my focus is on painting a commission. I am concentrating on this whilst dealing with an ear worm, an expression which does make me squirm somewhat. I have been listening to the line about not messing with Major Tom from Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes track for several days now. The painting is going well despite the interference! To my glee there is in fact a true story to this commission about a dog arriving at a castle one night at Christmas.
Below is cropped section of a painting which I did some years ago when I was putting together a children’s picture book idea. I dug it out of my folder as like my current commission it is a night time scene. This image was for a story about a jealous kingfisher who steals a peacock’s tail feathers whilst the peacock is sleeping.
I love storytelling whilst painting, whether it be a fully formed story or presenting narrative for possibilities that the imagination can cast from before or after the moment in the painting itself. Here is a visual excerpt from the Tiny Tale Of Kingfisher.
Just a few tiny details to add and my Barn Owl will be completed.
This is another image for my series of Lost Things (along with the Lost Pearl and the Golden Bell) and a continuing theme of gold leaf moons. The captivating Barn Owl. Both feared and venerated throughout history and a variety of cultures the owl has been associated with both evil and wisdom. Thankfully superstitions such as its association with witches have died away and we can count ourselves lucky if we manage to enjoy a glimpse of this fascinating night time hunter.
Read more about my story for this image here.