Who is most surprised Mr Duck or this wily fox? And why exactly is that duck in the jug?
This idea has been in mind for quite some time and it does feel good to have at last completed the painting.
This balancing act has to appear to be believable and so getting each bird in a convincing position was tricky but I think it works.
The above is a work-in-progress pic and the finished painting is shown below.
A group of magpies have more than one name – a congregation, or a murder, I have also seen them referred to as a tiding, a charm and a mischief.
Yesterday I started an attempt at declutttering. What should I keep and what should go? I headed for my bookshelf and targeted some old sketchbooks having decided to photograph pages I liked and store them digitally instead.
In amongst artist and nature books are malingering sketch books from over many a year.
Some of the sketches have sentimental value, and are a visual diary hinting at events and places sporadically over the year. Some of the sketches were a means to an end. They were good practice for observing and drawing.
Other sketches were experimental when I had been involved in course work and attempting to work outside my usual method of creativity.
So I took sketchbooks which were not essentially full of great stuff and photographed those images I felt connected to and transferred them to my computer. The nice thing about looking back at sketch books from years gone by is that a lot of the images look better to me now than when I created them. The space and time that has passed makes them feel like they are not quite so firmly attached to me allowing me to be less critical.
The other nice thing about storing the sketches digitally is that they take on a more professional look on a screen than in the sketchbook.
I agree with the declutter theory that you feel lighter and freer without hanging onto lots of stuff. This is a start but I still have a long way to go.
A variety of pages from 2004 Sketchbook – from life, mixed media and character development.
My portfolio of dog portraits is slowly but surely expanding.
I have taken on a couple of portfolio exercises to get a proper feel for the difficulty rating. They are:
a) a photo which does not have all the pictorial information because the resolution is too low and
b) a photo which is in itself not a great composition but it is the only photo we can get. These are situations a pet portrait artist may find themselves in and with these problems in mind they will then have to decide whether a successful pet portrait will be the outcome.
a) This is Amber. Most of the photo could be enhanced using the contrast tool to get more information for reference. This worked for all but the eyes. This was the most challenging and time consuming of my two examples. I had to make up the eye reference material, or cross reference it elsewhere. This meant it became time consuming and a fiddle mucking about with the “lost” information. The eyes are the most important focal point (apart from the muzzle also in a dog) and not succeeding in making them look “right” or more to the point “convincing” would spell disaster for the whole painting. One other point about this photo is the position of the tail gives a very long slim shape to the overall composition and so it was much better to take the important head area instead where there are alot of dynamic shapes to keep the picture interesting.
b) This is Gooner, obviously an older dog, which you can tell by the expression and posture. The overall shape is not very dynamic and more of an overall circular outline, not the best shape to use for a picture composition. This painting is taking much less time on account I hav all the necessary information in front of me. I took the liberty of using artistic licence to move the eye gaze so that the image was more engaging. Everything is in place and the painting is almost finished.
Below are the results of my endeavours:
Amber is completed
Gooner to the right is still work in progress.
There are times when another factor comes into play and that is when the pet owner has produced the only photo they have of their dog and it is just like the Amber example above. Perhaps this might persuade you as a pet portrait artist to take on the commission. Of course all these things can be discussed at the outset with the pet owner giving you the commission perhaps with deposit for work up front and other caveats would help mitigate any disaster!
My conclusion is that not having all the information is extremely time consuming and the outcome is not certain. It is up to the Pet Portrait Artist to determine the risk!
Don’t for one minute let the title of this post lead you to believe that I might give any advice currently on that subject matter!
A new pet portrait emerges from my studio but a distinct lack of ability to prioritise is ensuing along other commitments getting in the way, and a little procrastination to boot. No advice can come of such disorder. If anyone has any tips please let me know and help rescue the situation!
Meanwhile here is the most recent completed dog portrait painting.
Lila. A Bernese Mountain Dog.
It is strange how your mind and thoughts can dance around a subject or a project and produce means or obstacles, pathways to enable action or absolute resistance. One minute you have one mind set, then suddenly you can see things quite differently and are able then to make a change or take an action that you had not considered before.
This process is no doubt with us more often than we realise, but for me produces itself very readily in the light of day when considering the redesign of my website. I have had a website for many years and it was pretty clunky for quite some time at the outset. But the amount of times I thought I had reached an optimal design moment were many. Time passed, my mind shifted, and suddenly it would be made quite clear to me that improvements would yet again have to be made. In a way it is a little like producing a painting, you think no more can be done, you put the thing away. Then some other time you stumble across the same painting and you can see straight away how to make it so much better.
In all the years I have been painting I could never for one moment have envisaged making miniature paintings sized at just 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches but found myself having an eureka moment (a sudden shift in thinking!) nearly a year ago after tightening up my painting style, and acquiring reading glasses. Since then I have produced several ACEO paintings each week featuring funny character animals or more realistic style animals too. They have been listed and sold each week on ebay in a special category for ACEO art cards.
A year hence, and I have been wondering how to develop my art further, today a new possibility has surfaced in my mind relating to pets and in particular dogs. Here is a taster of my current work in progress…..more to follow :)
I really do wonder why my brain cannot follow through in the first instance? I am sure there is a good answer for this which at this time is unbeknown to me.
It is of concern that whilst my mind can play tricks on me and can often ensure that I avoid action or end up procrastinating for what amounts to be in reality no-good-reason at all, but I am grateful that at other times it can reveal fresh ideas, shifts and visions so that even I can surprise myself with brand new possibilities.
Painting, when to stop….
It happens so often, that artists actually stop working on a painting sometime after the vital moment when they should have stopped. Spotting the optimum time to stop working on a piece is just so difficult as unless you could see into the future the you cannot anticipate whether your next few painting decisions will better or possibly worsen the painting’s outcome. For this reason a good many paintings are over-worked and without a lot of experience this optimum moment can pass you by before you know it.
This is a painting I have been working on today. It takes some concentration to be disciplined in the craft and it is best to work when feeling energised. Once an artist tires and concentration waivers then sloppy decisions and actions are made leading to frustration and disappointment in the outcome.
I liken this process to swimming. Whilst striving to get one’s swimming stroke right you need concentration, some discipline and energy. Once the energy is depleted you fall back on old sloppy habits, inefficiency and then more tiredness is the outcome. My painting and my swimming can go the same way. This painting of a wolf is unfinished in my opinion. It is just a matter of how far past the optimum point I persist…..
Despite the fact that I live in a smallish town in the Cotswolds UK there is a significant population of artists. I nearly said thriving artists. They are thriving as far as their art might be concerned but I doubt that they are thriving as far as their contribution to their cost of living. There just has to be another job in the mix to enable most artists to “indulge” themselves their creativity. I digress…..
Stroud in the Cotswold Hills (UK) is a town of artists and creativity, music and alternative therapies, alternative remedies and alternative people. We have Open Art Studios in May and festivals of Music in the Summer and all sorts in between. Our Museum is the best ever for a small town, and within the same building is an exibition room which celebrates art of all varieties. We are lucky enough that the Museum In the Park as it is known as is currently hosting a selection of art from Matisse. Cut-outs (collage shapes cut with a scissors) was Matisse’ form of art which he made during the 1950’s.
To be honest, this work which must have been quite a revelation in that era does not do alot for me. But it must have been quite a development for that time and the evolution of different creative expressions have enabled us to have the freedom to create across all sorts of media and mix them up too, the ultimate in this being Mixed Media.
Still, even if Matisse is not your bag it is good to be in the presence of original art and have feelings toward different styles and media from the art world. You might want to buy only what you like, but witnessing and processing what art history and contemporary art has to offer will help develop your own view about your art and your art process and where it sits on the spectrum of creative expression.
My artist friend here is using her creative expression to mimic the art!
Following my visit to the Matisse exhibition I then went to the Subscription Rooms in Stroud town centre. They have an exhibition space where Mark Amis is exhibiting a number of portraits called Beautiful People. His work is stunning. the exhibition was a room full of oil large paintings of people that have “sat” for him including a portrait of Jenson Button celebrating a win.
ducks, cats, mice and hares.
Lots of ideas have been springing up in my sketch book, and finally here are my first ACEO card paintings for 2014. Available for sale on ebay too!
Wilbur thought that he was the tallest duck; Henrietta did not mind!
My creativity shut up shop for the Christmas period. I could sense my focus slipping as extra festive activities took hold. Rather than wrestling between the two I gave myself a break. I let myself off the hook.
Creativity is often seen as an easy kind of self indulgent luxury. Those that feel they have not been bestowed any creative talent imagine the enjoyment and loveliness of making pictures. Perhaps it does come easily to some, but I would imagine that like me plenty of artists procrastinate, heading off down the path of least resistance, that is any other activity except creativity.
Even washing the car has an easily perceived outcome…you wash it, it looks clean. With shopping, you shop and hey presto you have food you can cook with. What about a bit of decorating? Assuming you buy the right paint, paint it on in a sensible fashion, the room looks completely renewed. Having done all these things before there is no real danger of me straying into unknown territory and making a complete hash of this lot.
As for creating art, well only hundreds of decisions have to be made as you progress, tiny but important ones, the outcome of which make or break the painting. One of the hardest decisions is eliminating your options, what should one do next? And when things are not going right do you keep on with it or bin it?
It might be that I have too many hats to wear, a bit of a jack of all trades. I have a background in accountancy, I know how to use a drill in hammer mode, or wire in telephone connections, I quite like cooking and I love the knowledge my computer wants to bestow on me, and for me it is easy to find reason to do something else, something that thinks itself more essential than art.
So enter creativity as a discipline. I gave myself a Chrismas break, now I have to reintroduce my creativity. Like a daily supplement. It needs to be rated as essential, like fruit, or vitamins to let it grow, grow, grow.
Today being the first day on my renewed creative path I have gathered some ideas and started on something new. There are polar bears, hares, wolves and owls, cats and mice. Harvey the Aardvark is still hibernating, but only for a short while, he will be back soon.
Wishing anyone taking the time to read this a very Happy New Year for 2014. And for anyone wanting to be creative and not quite getting around to it, do a little bit each day and make it essential, just like your daily fruit and veg.
Lazy Painter’s guide recording Work in Progress
It really depends what medium you work in but even drawings can take on quite a transformation from the outset of the original idea. Artists may use different tools to progress from the first sketch to the finished drawing or painting.
Drawing tools such as tracing or layout paper, light boxes and/or photo shop manipulation enables the good bits of a drawing to be retained easily whilst the areas in need of change more easily manipulated. With these tools there is a trail of changes which could be recorded digitally or glued in a sketch book to inform the artist at a later date how the work evolved. This sort of recording comes easily.
For painting work-in-progress the best tool for recording is a camera. How often I have been too lazy to put down my brush and halt for a few minutes to get the camera and quickly take a picture.
It is impossible to remember the phases of a painting’s evolution and in addition artists repeatedly overshoot the optimum moment for the painting to be finished.
Recording the painting at different stages enables an artist to sit back at a later time and review how each stage of the painting has progressed and make objective decisions for making further paintings.
Don’t overshoot the optimum moment to put the brush down, you know that old adage Less Is More. It just takes a moment to take a snap, and on review will reap benefits for your next masterpiece!